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 6: To Flip or not to Flip

October 6, 2013


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.




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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