Week 9: Mini Project II

October 26, 2013

For my second mini project, I have decided to create a Google Lit Trip. This may turn out to be the most difficult route for this assignment. I thought I would try out Google Earth for a Lit Trip because I know that Google Earth fascinates some students, myself included.

 

So far, creating a Google Lit Trip seems to be a bit difficult and not very intuitive. I looked at several examples during class on Thursday but I still couldn’t quite figure out the placemarks. By this, I mean it took me the whole class period to figure out how to create a placemark and then figure out what to do with it. I don’t consider myself to be too tech savvy but I normally make it by so this was a bit frustrating to me.

 

My idea for creating a Lit Trip is to take a Young Adult book, Peak by Roland Smith, and create a trip where students can view the earth from the location mentioned in the book. In the book, the main character, Peak, is caught climbing the Woolworth Building in Manhattan that land him in a juvenile detention center. His mountain climbing father, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a young child, comes to his rescue. But his father has something up his sleeve. He wants to gain publicity about his mountain climbing company by having Peak reach the summit of Mount Everest at 14 years old that would make him the youngest person to reach the summit.

 

My plan for using this technology in a classroom would be to have students read the first 50 pages of the book and then show them the locations mentioned on Google Earth using my Lit Trip. Once the students see the locations, I would have them read the rest of the book and write summaries or create a video or podcast detailing what happens to Peak at each base camp along the way.

 

I’m not finished with my mini project; I’m still trying to work out the kinks such as how to create a border around a country or location. I’ve picked out my locations and I’m in the process of deciding what I should include at each placemark. I’m thinking about adding videos about climbs and perhaps background information about the locations as well as a short blurb about what happens in the book at each particular location.

 

What I really like about Google Earth is that people are able to post picture at certain locations and this can help students get a feel for what the area looks like. Also, using features such as Street View can allow students to take a tour of an area that they may not be able to visit, such as Mount Everest or even Washington, DC.

Categories: INDT 501.

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Blog #4- Budget

October 25, 2013

Dear Faculty, Staff, Parents, and Students,

 

Recently, due to economic difficulties, our school district has been faced with the complex task of cutting 20% of our budget. This is a devastating loss. Wonderland County Public Schools has been forced to make decisions about the fiscal budget. These decisions were not taken lightly. Many students will be affected by our lack of funds but we at Wonderland County Public Schools will prevail. Included in this document is a list of programs that will have to be modified or cut in order compensate for the direct loss of funds.

 

The first major cut will involve library resources. As many periodicals and journals are available online through websites and databases, the budget for periodicals and journals will be cut by 50%. In maintaining students’ access to resources we will not cut academic technology which will allow students the opportunity to access such resources available online. Some print sources will not be renewed for the 2014-2015 school year. This includes a cut to textbook adoption; Wonderland County Public Schools will cut the spending budget for new textbook by 80%. Although this may seem drastic, many teachers have expressed that they use many different resources besides the textbooks to deliver instruction. We expect the budget to be restored to a higher level next year and believe that all new textbooks can be held off during this fiscal year.

 

Next, field trip funds will be cut entirely for the 2014-2015 school year. This lack of hands-on instruction will be difficult, we believe that our faculty and staff are so creative and innovative that they will be able to find a way to supplement the lack of funding for field trips. This does not mean that schools will be unable to go on field trips. This cut just means that direct funds will not be available. Students and teachers alike will be able to come up with ways to raise funds to go on field trips.

 

One of the divisions that will be cut deeply by our shortage of funds will be Student Services. We have decided to maintain summer school, preschool special education, positive behavior support, and the Parent Resource Center. Some programs that will see cuts are athletic/recreation programs, student activity bus, and after-school programs. Once again, we believe in our staff and students and know that they will triumph. Athletic programs will not be able to buy such things as new jerseys and may have less staff members available to coach teams but with marketing of school games they may be able to make up for some of the cuts. The student activity bus, while very helpful for many students and parents, will be removed entirely for this year. We will revisit this as funds allow.

Unfortunately, tuition reimbursement for teachers will be cut by 50% and staff development will be cut by 60%. This was a difficult decision as we pride ourselves on our well-developed and educated staff. If funds become available, we will revisit the idea of reimbursing teachers for these expenditures. However, we found that it might be more helpful to maintain jobs for teachers rather than allow for reimbursement for some teachers and job cuts for others.

With that being said, we will not cut any teacher, instructional aide, maintenance, library, office, part-time employee, or custodial staff positions. We value each and every one of you. While this year will be tough, we want to preserve jobs although this does mean cuts in key areas. We know that Wonderland County Public Schools will overcome.

 

Regards,

 

Alisha Abrams

Superintendent

 


 

Points

20% cut

Protect instructional staff
Avoid layoffs of core content teachers*

10

10

Avoid layoffs of special subject teachers**

10

10

Avoid cuts to health benefits

6

6

Protect Staff
Teacher instructional aides

5

5

Full-time office staff

5

5

Part-time employees

3

3

Limit reductions to the library
Staff

3

3

Books

5

5

Periodicals/Journals

4

2

Protect Building Services
Custodial staff

3

3

Building repair and maintenance

4

4

Protect Learning Resources
Academic technology

5

5

Textbook adoption

5

2

Teacher Instructional Budget***

5

5

Field trips

5

0

Protect Faculty Services
Employee tuition reimbursement for college courses taken for license renewal or advanced degree

4

2

Staff development for teachers – workshops, support to attend conferences, etc.

5

3

Protect Student Services
Athletic/recreation programs

5

2

Student activity bus

2

0

Parent Resource Center

2

2

Positive behavior support

2

2

Preschool special education

3

3

Summer school

4

4

After-school programs

5

2

TOTAL

110

88

 

 

 

 

***This is a fictional school district and fictional plan.

Categories: EDCI 506.

Week 8: Mini Project I

October 18, 2013

 

 

Wordle: Out of My Mind

For this week’s mini project, I originally planned on creating a digital story but I realized within a couple minutes of planning that coming up with a story, even for a short 3-5 minute video, would take me hours of imagination time. Frankly, sometimes I feel like I lack imagination for projects like story telling. Maybe with years of experience improvising stories in the classroom I’ll be able to come up with a 3-5 minute digital story that is creative and fun for students.

 

I decided to create a word cloud using Wordle. I think that word clouds are interesting and not only because they look like neat graffiti but also because they present an idea using a collection of words and emphasizing the importance with larger fonts. Instead of presenting a summary of a story, I believe word clouds show a visually appealing synapsis of the information presented in a text, discussion, or presentation.

 

I did my mini project on a book that I am particular fond of, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It is a book about a girl, Melody, who has special needs. She has cerebral palsy and she is unable to communicate with her friends, family, and classmates until she receives an assistive technology that allows her to communicate her ideas through a computing device. This book is written on a 4th grade reading level but I believe it is a great book to present to middle school students, especially those with low reading levels so my lesson would be geared to middle school students. This book could also be used as a form of bibliotherapy, which is using literature to help build confidence, compassionate, and understanding for others.

 

I struggled for a while with my word cloud. I wanted to make it perfect and specific to my interests and goals. My original plan was to try to paste the text into the Wordle software so that I would be able to pull out the words that are represented most in the text. However, the book was not available in the Gutenberg Project and only parts of the book were available on Google Books. Then, I thought I might be put the portions of the book that were available on Google Books into Wordle, but the format is PDF and thus I couldn’t copy and paste. I also tried to post summaries, reviews, and blurbs about the book into Wordle but the words that were coming up just didn’t fit with my view of the book.

 

After brainstorming a bit with Dr. Coffman, I found an Advanced portion of Wordle which actually allows the creator to decide the words and the size of the words. So I went about writing down words that I associate with the book by searching reviews and summaries myself. From there, I emphasized the words in the book that I found to be most essential to the meaning of the story and background. I put them into the advanced Wordle with the font size beside them and BAM! I had a Wordle. Of course, I did several revisions and changes in font, size, color, and arrangement before deciding on the final product but I was able to customize the information as I saw fit using the advanced option.

 

So if I were to use word clouds in the classrrom, I think they could be implemented by having students come up with main ideas from a story and presenting them as word clouds. For example, students could read a literature text and pick on the theme and supporting details, then present the theme with a list of words. Once the students have their list of words, they could give each a level of importance and make those words larger on their map.  Teachers can also create these to present topics or help students find the key terms in a story but I think students would really have a good time creating their own word cloud.

Categories: INDT 501, Uncategorized.

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Week 7: Shared Sticky Notes

October 13, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.46.27 PM

 

Before postings from classmates and friends

YES! I love this technology! I love sticky notes, notecards, and small pieces of paper in general to jot down ideas. I’m constantly writing notes to myself and others and sticking them everywhere, what a nice way to keep track of ideas generated in short form.

 

Before I created my own Padlet, I visited my classmate Phil Lanman’s wall (http://padlet.com/wall/c45ti66ln8) and I was convinced that this technology is awesome. He created a Padlet that allows students to post a picture of the coolest place they’ve ever been on a map background. This could potentially help students learn more about geography, each other, and stimulate classroom conversation about world locations.

 

For my Padlet, I decided to create a page where students can post their favorite book. The background is a picture of a really old looking open, faced book that I found using Google Advanced Image Search. The only problem that I have with Wallwisher is that I can’t change the style of the sticky notes. Perhaps there is a way to change this, but I wasn’t able to find it.

 

I sent out an email to my classmates and made a post on my personal Facebook page to try to get participants to post on my Wallwisher. So hopefully, I can get some good feedback about this instructional technology.

 

After collaborative postings

I really enjoyed creating the Padlet and having people post. It’s unbelievably easy to post; students don’t need an account or anything to post. If this technology was used in the classroom, students could potentially remain anonymous and the teacher could moderate the discussion by approving all sticky notes before they were posted.

 

It was great to see everyone’s responses to the posting boards. Our class worked really well to pass on the board to everyone and participate in others’ boards.

 

The only thing that I don’t really like about technology is that it is kind of plain. I don’t think that it’s very visually appealing, at least my board isn’t. I tried to give it more pizzazz, however because I wasn’t able to change the look and feel of the actual sticky notes, it wasn’t as pretty as I would like it to be.  But I think this is part of the appeal of the technology, it doesn’t have very many bells and whistles. Students/participants can go onto the board and post their ideas, quickly and informally. It doesn’t necessarily have to look pretty; it’s more of an idea wall.

 

This technology could be used to illicit ideas about class concept or feelings about the flow of a class. As I mentioned earlier, students could post anonymously so it could be used as an exit task for class or to review questions from a previous class. Students could potentially use the wall to post questions they have about an assignment as well. Overall, I like Wallwisher and the concept behind it.

Categories: INDT 501, Uncategorized.

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Week 6: To Flip or not to Flip

October 6, 2013

Flipped

Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/8615353879/

 

In class this week, we took sometime to discuss the idea of the flipped classroom. It’s a different delivery method than we, as teachers and students, are used to but not too far off from the norm. For example, we ask our students to go home and read chapter 7 in the textbook for homework. Then when they come in, we expect them to have understood everything in the chapter and be ready to discuss the ideas. This doesn’t sound too radical to anyone does it? But what if instead of requiring them to read a dense, dry textbook that, depending on their reading speed and comprehension, could take an hour to read without any means of gaging their understanding, instead we asked them to view a 10-15 minute lecture online created by the teacher? This isn’t to say that reading the textbook would be taken out of the curriculum but rather used to supplement learning after the lecture that would allow students to make connections between what they heard and what they read.

 

I’ve experienced the flipped classroom firsthand. When I was in high school, my teacher was having a hard time presenting all of the information needed for our AP Chemistry course and finding time to allow us to experiment in the classroom. Many of us were struggling with the concepts and trying to make connections with the real world. My teacher went on a search for a way to supplement what we were learning in the classroom with podcasts. She would tell us the topic we would be looking at during the next class and give us a podcast to watch and then we would come to class with a basic understanding of the topic. If we didn’t understand the podcast, sometimes she would play it again and stop to explain when we got confused. She did this, at least to my knowledge, without even knowing about the concept of the flipped classroom. We still had homework from the textbook and worksheets but lectures were given to us for viewing outside of the classroom. The most beneficial part of the flipped classroom for me was that I was able to view the lectures multiple times if I didn’t understand a concept.

 

If I were to implement the flipped classroom concept into my classroom, I would present new ideas in a short video about 10-15 minutes then ask students to come in with at least 5 questions that they had about the video. These questions could be questions could be about material/concepts that I should review or go into more depth about but I believe the questions could help me gage whether or not my students understood he concepts presented.

 

Some pros that I see with the flipped classroom are: more one on one time with students, less confusion about homework assignments, more trust with your students- they won’t be struggles on assignments at home alone, student that are absent don’t miss the introduction of new concept, students can listen to the lesson multiple times, and parents can listen to the lesson as well. What I mean by more one on one time with the students is that instead of standing in front of the class dictating a lesson for 45 minutes, teachers can be walking around asking students if they have questions about an assignment. I think that this could promote trust in the classroom because students wouldn’t be at home struggling for hours trying to figure out a question instead they could come into the class with questions.

 

Some potential problems could be students not doing their homework and lack of technology in the home. A potential solution for students not doing their homework is that they could view the video in class, of course they would miss out on time to complete their assignments but this is already a problem in the classroom so I don’t believe that this would create a huge, new problem. As for lack of technology, teachers could provide a DVD with the lectures on it for a particular unit for the students. If they do not have a DVD player, perhaps the library media center could allow for some type of check out process for students to acquire a DVD player or computer.

 

References:

 

Knewton, Inc. (2013). Flipped Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

 

Miller, A. (2012). Five best practices for the flipped classroom. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-best-practices-andrew-miller

 

Ojalvo, H.E. & Doyne, S. (2011). Five ways to flip your classroom with the New York Times. Retrieved from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/five-ways-to-flip-your-classroom-with-the-new-york-times/?_r=0

 

Categories: INDT 501.

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