Tuesday, February 24, 2009
It's SNOWY
I was very pleased overall with the professional development plans that the students completed. For the most part, their goals were very specific and attainable. Many mentioned that they would like to keep track of their progress towards their goals with a dedicated page in their e-portfolios. I thought this was a great idea and decided to make this the assignment for the professional development plan revision. I explained to the students what I thought should go on this page - their original goals, the progress they've made thus far, links to evidence (screenshots, photographs, web links, etc.) of their progress, and plans for the future. The students' reactions to this assignment was positive, expressing that they felt it would be more useful to them than simply revising their original plans.

The students seemed to appreciate the segment during last week's lab on making our W200 pedagogy transparent, that is, sharing tools and tips as one teacher to another. The tool I shared was Poll Everywhere. This week, I shared three other tools that I had found helpful in my professional teaching tasks - Google Calendar, Twitter, and Umbrella Today. I demonstrated how they can use their cell phones to send and receive "tweets" and explained how Twitter is being used to share insights during conferences. I also shared how I have been using Google Calendar to manage my schedule and how I have set up to receive reminders on my cell phone so that I won't miss meetings or appointments. I then showed the students who were interested how to set up the option to receive SMS (cell phone text) reminders. I introduced Umbrella Today as a tool that simply sends SMS reminders when the forecast calls for rain. This can be helpful to a busy teacher who has a lot on the mind when heading out the door to school each morning.

I then modeled how they might make technology integration decisions using the SNOWY decision making process. SNOWY stands for Standard, Needs, Options, What, and Why. After modeling this process, I asked the students to join with one or two classmates and create a Google Doc that outlines the SNOWY process as applied to an 8th grade science case. Having the students in groups was very beneficial in especially the Options step, as they bounced ideas off one another for possible activities (or Options) that they could use in this case. The groups then wrote learning objectives that incorporated the option they chose. At the close of class, each group presented their Google Doc, some of the Options that they found, and their learning objective. I was able to provide specific feedback on their proposals to each group (and the whole class). I hope that this workout will lead to better proposals in the coming weeks.

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posted by SG @ 12:51 PM   0 comments
Monday, February 16, 2009
The Classroom Newsletter
Classroom newsletters provide a way for teachers to communicate classroom and school happenings with students and their families. This week, we discussed newsletters and other ways teachers can communicate with families and the kinds of information these communications might contain. Here's the list we came up with. With the focus on using technology tools to be more productive in a teacher's professional life, we experimented with Google Docs (and spreadsheets, forms, and presentations) to create sample classroom newsletters. Some of the students used the templates available on Google Docs, others started their newsletters in Word then uploaded them to Google Docs, and others started their newsletters from scratch. We explored the collaborative features of this resource as well as the limitations in formatting and layout.

In an effort to make the W200 pedagogy more transparent, I demonstrated how to create online polls using Poll Everywhere and led the students through the process of creating free accounts. We used the sample poll to find out how many in class knew how to bookmark websites in their Delicious accounts and found that there were just a few in each section that weren't sure how to do this. (I directed these few to tutorials on the Delicious website.)

One student in each section volunteered to show his/her digital story about why they chose the teaching profession. The majority of the students selected this topic for their stories; however, a few did do stories on what makes a teacher great and how to... . Overall, the stories were really interesting to watch, and they helped me to get to know the students better.

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posted by SG @ 2:35 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Quite a Development
So, today's focus is professional development. Because last week's class was cancelled due to snow, I sensed some confusion concerning course activities among the students. I had looked into the chatroom on Oncourse a few times and noticed some of my students' comments. I e-mailed these students directly, but I wanted to clear up the questions with the entire class before moving forward into today's lesson.

I was surprised that many had forgotten about their blogs on Blogger that they created the first day of class or otherwise missed the connection between these blogs and the make-up assignment from last week, which was to write a post about integrating technology into a standards-based lesson in the content area of interest. (I did not specify in my announcement to the students that the blog posts would go on the Blogger.com blogs. I assumed they would know this, as it didn't cross my mind that they would go anywhere else!) One student creatively used his Delicious account to tag the lesson plan and then wrote his comments in the description area of the bookmark. I had planned to begin class with a follow-up activity stemming from these posts; but because so many had trouble, I decided to postpone the activity until a future session. Instead, I demonstrated how to post to their blogs and offered them a second chance to complete the assignment, because I felt too important a lesson to skip.

I also demonstrated how to get to the correct lecture worksheet for each week and where to find my and their classmates' e-mail addresses in the Roster area of Oncourse. I encouraged the students to visit the TTL or e-mail me with future questions and avoid getting sucked into the negativity that has seemed to surface in the course chatroom. I compared the chatroom to the teachers' lounge, saying that it can be a great place to vent but can also drag your perspective down as you listen to others' complaints.

I then introduced the professional development plan assignment, describing each section of the plan and how they were to be graded using the rubric. We then moved on to the digital storytelling workout. I explained why learning how to create digital stories is important for them as future teachers (it is a great strategy for involving our digital native students in interacting with the content that they are studying) and offered a few suggestions for how it might be used in the content areas. We reviewed the web resource from University of Houston that outlines the components of a digital story and the kinds of tools that could be used. I then demonstrated from start to finish how to create a digital story in Windows Movie Maker. I explained the difference between their Windows Movie Maker file (.MSWMM) and their published digital story (.wmv). I instructed them to submit their published digital stories by uploading them to the Artifacts page of their e-portfolios. Knowing that this is a multi-step process, I created a tutorial and posted it this week's Resources in Oncourse. I asked the students to attempt to follow the tutorial, and then ask for help if they got stuck on one of the steps. Providing the tutorial at least initially reduced the number of times I had to walk the students through the process.

I provided them the option during the second half of class to choose what they wanted to work on. Some chose to work on their professional development plans and do their digital stories in the quiet of their own rooms, where they wouldn't feel awkward recording in front of others. Some decided to go ahead and do their digital stories in class or in the TTL. Many fixed their blog posts from last week. And I circulated and answered questions as needed.

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posted by SG @ 3:32 PM   0 comments
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I am attempting to develop practical instructional applications of developing technologies and provide educators with tools to implementing instructional technologies effectively.
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MUVEs, Web 2.0, assistive technologies, digital video

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