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 Four: Information Literacy and Creativity

September 22, 2013

This week in class we started to look at the construction of our personal learning network and we looked into finding and evaluating information that can be found on the Internet. I found our work with social media to be a bit overwhelming because it is easy to spend a great deal of time constructing your social media profile and investigating each social media outlet. One can spend hours delving into the depths of a particular social media website to find information. Finding and evaluating information can be a difficult process especially with the many different forms of documents, media, and resources.

Creating a personal learning network is such a broad idea. It could really be as in-depth or as low key as the particular person wanted to go. There is so much to find on social media it can be overwhelming. This week we started working with Google+, LinkedIn, and the Personal Learning Network of our choice. Although I had used Google+ and LinkedIn before I still had to reacquaint myself with them. I don’t normally use these websites. It’s difficult for me to keep up with so many different social media sites I typically only use Facebook.  I believe this semester will be a good way to get me into using more of these sites for professional usage.

One reading that I found to be interesting this week was the chapter we read about WebQuests (Coffman, 2013). Prior to this class, I had never heard of a WebQuest. Wow, what an interesting concept! I really hadn’t considered how to construct a lesson using the Internet. I had assumed that I would just have my students browse one particular website for information. However, that doesn’t seem very realistic when you think about it. Students will be tasked with finding information online for the rest of their lives and they’re not always going to have me there to tell them whether or not the site is a good resource to use. So I should be teaching students what good and bad websites look like. Plus, students must use many different websites to find information about a particular topic, there’s not going to be one website that is a one-size-fits-all. It’s actually interesting that we covered the topic of WebQuests this week because it was my first experience with them in the classroom as well. My 8th grade science classes were doing a WebQuest this week where they were given a worksheet about matter to fill out using 10 or so different websites.

A resource from this week that I found useful was Kathy Schrock’s (2013) Critical Evaluation of Information. I know how I evaluate websites but trying to communicate that knowledge that I’ve acquired after years of searching for information can be difficult. Kathy Schrock’s questions helped me to learn what questions I should be asking my students to help them evaluate their sources. Questions like, “Is the purpose of the page indicated on the home page?” help the user to look for information within a website that will help them determine a trustworthy site in the future (Schrock, 2013). This site also helped me in creating my website evaluation mind map and creating the mind map allowed me to write down the criteria that I look for in a website. This was helpful because sometimes I evaluate a website without really thinking about the criteria. I already know to look for dates, information about the author, biased information, and so on.

 

References

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Schrock, K. (2013). Critical evaluation of information. Retrieved from http://www.schrockguide.net/critical-evaluation.html

Solomon, G & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Categories: INDT 501, Uncategorized.

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Week Three: Digital Literacy

September 15, 2013

Washington Monument Dusk

Iliff, D. (2006). Washington Monument Dusk. [Photograph] Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Washington_Monument_Dusk_Jan_2006.jpg

For the digital literacy assignment, I decided search for an image of a famous building in Washington DC because I had a hunch that it would be easy to find a picture of this nature. I know it can be difficult to find images that are rare. So many people take pictures of the building in Washington DC everyday that I knew it would be easy to find versus a picture of a rare bird in South America that was just discovered yesterday. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the more images that are available in the world for a particular subject the more likely you will be to find the image freely available for usage.

 

I began by searching in Google Images using the Advanced Search option. There I choose to limit by usage rights. I used free to use or share because I knew I wouldn’t be manipulating the image in any way or using it for commercial purposes. I used the search statement: Washington DC buildings. The first image to pop up was an image of the Washington Monument. It is published on a Wikipedia page that made it easy to access the information about the copyright agreement. However, I was a bit confused about the copyright information. The website mentioned that it was released by the United States Navy but it was taken by an Air Force airmen. Therefore I decided to scroll down to another photo on the page of the Washington Monument to use as my photo.

 

The photo I choose was a picture of the Washington Monument by itself. As I scrolled down on the picture’s information page it stated the creator’s name, David Iliff, and the license number CC-BY-SA 3.0. It is licensed under the Creative Commons for attribution and share alike. So I could potentially use this image as long as I give credit to the creator that I will do at the bottom of this post.

 

I think it’s important to teach students that we must give credit where credit is due for the usage of someone else’s information. Especially in a world where information is right at our fingertips it’s important that we show that someone else created the work because we would want the same for our own work.

 

I worked for a while as a library graduate assistant where I taught library literacy and information literacy skills. In doing my job, I had to teach students that whenever you take information from a site you must give credit to the author. I strongly believe in this principle because it is important as intellectuals to evaluate other people’s opinions, beliefs, and works but we must still come to our own conclusions. If we were to just use everything that someone else wrote, we wouldn’t necessarily understand the content in depth.

 

So in order to promote a nurturing environment where people learn from others and build off of materials we must attribute the knowledge that we learned from other people’s work to them. This builds a community of learning instead of a community where people steal each other’s ideas. I think of it as stealing someone’s money, essentially ideas could be worth money one day and you’re taking the person’s opportunity to gain prestige for their ideas. So you should always attribute information to its creator. The creator could gain notoriety if your work becomes popular and both of you win. We should, in a global society, build off of each other’s knowledge as long as we share the fact that we didn’t just come up with it all on our own but rather in collaboration with other researchers or thinkers.

 

Iliff, D. (2006). Washington Monument Dusk. [Photograph] Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Washington_Monument_Dusk_Jan_2006.jpg

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Week One: Technology Matrix

August 29, 2013

The Technology Integration Matrix seemed very intimidating when I first looked at it. However, once I watched all the videos for the language arts discipline I started to understand how the terms relate to one another. I am particularly fond of the authentic learning attribute of learning because I believe this style can help students apply their knowledge and therefore retain the information for the long run.

I actually had a pretty exciting experience as a substitute teacher last year. I subbed during a school wide project based learning presentation fair. At Southeastern Alternative School in Fauquier county one of the requirements for students is that they create one project that demonstrates what they have learned throughout the year. The principal was so kind as to allow me to visit the fair during the day. I had worked at the school throughout the year so I had watched the students in various stages of the projects.

One particular assignment that I really enjoyed was a project in which an eighth grade student used his love of video games to understand statistics and the scientific method. For his project, he had students volunteer to play video games while listening to different genres of music to see if the music impacted their ability to play games. Volunteers listened to country, rock, rap, or no music. He tried to make a correlation between the number of kills students made in a game and the music that was playing. He used an mp3 player and Xbox gaming system. I believe this would fall into the authentic-transformation. The student used technology to link what he learned in the classroom (scientific method- independent and dependent variables, etc.) to his interest in video games. This is an example of transformation because his use of technology was self-directed but his teacher served as a mentor to help him along the way.

One particular example that I found compelling was the language arts authentic-transformation Video Game Design (http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/lessons/authentic_transformation_languagearts.php). I think I enjoyed this video because I have an experience with the use of video games in the classroom. I understand how beneficial it can be to help students that may be struggling to understand material. This lesson is authentic because it allows students to create a story and use technology in order to make a video game. It affords students the opportunity to explore key concepts, such as main character, while doing something that is related to the real world, gaming. It can be considered transformation because students use technology to build on the storytelling abilities. It is self-led and the teacher acts to facilitate the students learning while helping them produce a game about their story.

A video that I was skeptical about would be the language arts authentic-entry phonics game (http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/lessons/authentic_entry_languagearts.php). My skepticism may stem from the fact that there is a lack of information about the technology used, www.Starfall.com, within the presentation. I understand that technology is being used as entry. This means that students are learning their phonics for the first time so the teacher will theoretically go over the phonics lesson with the students after they have completed the lesson. However, I think I’m just a little skeptical of teachers using technology to introduce a topic to students for the first time. Technology can be a helpful warm up for students to get their feet wet in a subject but the technology used in this lesson doesn’t seem to be guided by the instructor but rather by a computer. It seems a little cold to me. I prefer lessons in which the teacher introduces a topic then gives students time to explore the topic using technology.

Florida Center for Instructional Technologies (2011). The Technology Integration Matrix. Retrieved          from http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/index.php

Grant, M. (2002). Getting a grip on project-based learning: theory, cases and recommendations. Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 5(1). Retrieved from http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/win2002/514/

 

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