Will you be able to help your son, daughter, peer, student, co-workers, or teachers innovate for the future?
From First Post to Now
As I looked back at my first post, I feel like I'm still in the same place. I've always been pretty techie, I've always used tons of technology applications, and the course I took enhanced my knowledge. I also looked at using technology from other viewpoints - How do you manage a class of students who are using technology? How do you convince teachers to try new things? How do you deal with tech support? What do you do when you see teachers or students who are doing it wrong. A big issue of mine is being too critical. I need to let people do their thing. Of course there is a learning curve, and I need to be more willing to accept people who are trying to do something new.
I really enjoyed this class, and I really liked doing something I think I'm pretty good at. I liked looking at it from a Professional Development standpoint - How would I teach teachers how to do this in their classrooms? Since a lot of the students in my class hadn't been teachers before, I think they will be surprised at how students are willing to try anything that gets them away from watching lectures and doing handouts. Ultimately, who does me learning how to implement technology in the classroom benefit the mo
Innovate, or Get Out of the Way!
I was reading Garth Holman's (my professor and now friend) blog, TeachersForTomorrow.Net, and he had an interesting article about his time teaching Grad Students. It was especially interesting to me, in that I've taught students, worked with Graduate Biology Teaching Assistants, taught high school, and been in the position of being in grad school. He talked about his student's reflections on technology, and you can read the article, but here's the comment I left -
"The new teachers, the successful teachers, the teachers who are going to make the big bucks in the future, are going to be those that are not only WITH the times, but AHEAD of the times. No longer will the old geezer teacher be able to use his mimeographs from 1976 to teach.... Teaching is going from "teacher-centered" to teacher-led, and the teachers who just want to stand up in front of the room and do a powerpoint are going to be short lived. I get excited with each new contact I make, each website that has a new technology I can tinker with, and with the innovation that our 21st century promises. Whenever I hear a teacher say, "I don't know how to do that! Help me." I think, "You better learn how to figure out the answer to your questions without asking the teacher! Google it, youtube, it, collaborate - DO SOMETHING, but if you sit back and helplessly hand raise - you're going to be out of a job!" And our students are not dependent on us as "the keepers of the information" anymore. It's exciting, it's scary, and it's the future. Teachers need to innovate, or they need to get out of the way!!!"
I've been in the reality of having a teacher-peer who used mimeographs from the 70's. It even had the domains of the animal kingdom wrong! He was sitting in his classroom, doing what was easy. And I know some, if not a lot, of teachers who are making the big bucks at the end of their careers, who want to just ride it out. And riding it out is not working for our students. In order for our students to innovate, to make money, and to compete on a global level, we have to get away from what's easy. We have to use new technology. We have to collaborate GLOBALLY! There is a change in the system that has to occur. I'm not saying I can single-handedly fix education, but I sure can sit back and be quiet and easy about it! Technology makes information available to every child in America, and it's moving globally. Teachers have a DUTY to be ahead of the game. We have a duty to not take the easy road, we have a duty to do what's best for our kids. I love education, I love that I have a platform to share my ideas, and I LOVE technology!
In the past, each section of my Natural Science Biology Lab was divided into 8 groups of 5 each. Each of the groups works together for the labs, and they also put together a presentation for the final lab session. I do this presentation because I think it keeps the students coming to lab, they learn to collaborate, and they develop a social network. It does what I’ve intended it to, for the most part, but with the imaginable gripes - some students drop the class, some students stop participating, some do all the work while others do none.
I really like the idea of doing this through Google Docs (and I kind of kick myself because I’ve known and used Google Docs for so long, but never thought to have the students use their UA accounts to do this - doh!), simply for the revision history. If I hear one more student complain about someone not doing their part, I will lose it. But, this very obviously, and factually, lets me know who did their part and who didn’t. And it eliminates the lost flash drives, the paper being on someone else’s computer, or work being lost. No one gets to “own” the work - all students in the group have equal access to the project, and I love that.
Here is the link to my Presentation Information -
Here is a link to the Rubric for the project
Wikispaces in Higher Education
Wikispaces is a network where students and teachers can create and work on webpages together. You could put several students in a group to work on a project, and they could design a wiki pretty easily. Wikis have all kinds of elements you can add to them, like photos, videos, links, and the most important feature (in my humble opinion) is that you can track every revision.
So, lets say I have a class of 40 Natural Science Biology students. I put them into groups of 5. They are assigned a topic to write about, like stems cells or cloning or something science-y. I have each group start a Wiki. They can each work on the (collective) wiki from home, school, or wherever they can login to the internet. None of this "I saved the paper on my flashdrive and lost it," or "The paper is on my computer at home." Each student has a login name, and can access the wiki.
So, as the students are building the page, you (as the teacher) can review the revision history to see what each of the members have contributed. I hear all the time "So-and-so did all the work," or "So-and-so didn't help at all." This lets you know what REALLY happened! And, rather than a boring old paper, the students can build a multimedia presentation that can be shared with other students, and can become part of the student's e-portfolio to show potential employers.
If you would like to see the wiki I build, it's here - http://curriculumconceptmapping.wikispaces.com/ - and it's a few years old, so don't judge too harshly :) The story behind it is that there were three of us in a group for a professor's curriculum course, and he said we could make a project about the power dynamics of a classroom, and we could do it however we wanted. I had just learned about wikis, and I wanted to give it a shot. Instead of writing a paper, or doing a poster, we took pictures of how we saw the power dynamic working in this classroom, and we described them on the wiki. I was really the only one doing the revising and editing, but the finished product was unlike anything the prof or the class had seen at the time. The prof was so impressed, he shared it with the class.
My Wiki http://curriculumconceptmapping.wikispaces.com/
How to write a blog.....
If you were to just Google, "How to write a blog," you get 707,000,000 results. There are a ton of people out there who want to tell you how to write, how to make money, how to get seen, and how to put a blog together. For the purposes of a technology class, or really any educations type of class, I think I could offer some suggestions (that have probably already been suggested a bazillion times).
If you're writing your blog for a class, DON'T WRITE EVERY TIME "Today in class..." Who wants to read your blog, knowing you were just doing it because you HAD to? How will that blog help you in any of your future endeavors? If I want to use this blog professionally, AND I TOTALLY DO, then I should use my blog like I'm writing for my readers. I want my readers to know, "Amy totally knows her stuff when it comes to Biology and Technology. I can see by all the categories that she writes about, that she is knowledgeable and professional and has some serious skills!" I also have a writing style that somewhat reflects the way I actually talk and the way my brain actually works. So, as I'm sure you can already tell, I'm hilarious and fun to be in a room with, all the while taking care of business.
You also need to limit the amount of content you copy and paste. Copying a few lines and linking to where they came from is fine and dandy, but turning your blog post into the FAQ from the technology's page is worthless. If I wanted a manual, I would go read the manual. What I want from a blog post is opinions and real world examples of how the technology is used. I'm a Biology teacher, so I write about how I use, could use, or did use the technology with my students, with my peers, with my teaching assistants, with fellow teachers, or in a classroom or professional development. I try to use personal examples of what I've done, what I've seen, and how I did it. That's what makes this blog different and special, and worth checking out.
By having the opportunity to check out 25 blogs from pre-service teachers, current teachers, and people who are interesting in (or terrified of) technology, I have seen some great posts, and some really sad posts. I have seen great writing style, and I've seen people who can barely string together a coherent sentence, which makes me sad that they are going to be teachers. I found one thing that really surprised me - I checked out the blog of a pre-teacher whose second language is English. Even with a few grammar mistakes, she wrote so beautifully and eloquently, I was just amazed. Since I have attempted to learn a second language, and I know how hard that is, I was just dumbfounded by her amazing grasp of English, and her insight and beautiful style. I could only hope to be so fluent, and so eloquent. Just WOW!!!
What is Jing?
What is Jing?
Jing is a free screen capture product.You would use Jing for two things:
Short narrated video (up to five minutes) of your computer screen.
◆ You can use a built in mic or an external mic.
◆ You can record a video image or a screen image.
◆ You can save your work as a .swf file (to be played with Flash Pro or the free Flash Reader).
◆ With Jing Pro ($14.99/year) you can save your work as an mpeg4 file so you can further edit it.
I'm thinking of upgrading to the Jing Pro, because I don't like saving my video as a URL at Screencast.com. I really want to put my videos on Youtube.com. I have one example of a Jing on my Wiki http://curriculumconceptmapping.wikispaces.com/ I used Jing to describe how we made our Wiki.
Annotated snapshot of your screen:
◆ You can draw arrows or add callouts.
◆ You can create and type into a text box, which will mask the image underneath.
◆ You can draw a box around a specific section.
◆ You can highlight a specific section with a transparent color.
◆ You can save your work as a .png file.
I have used this feature to put a box around an error message I was getting, and then sending it to my tech support at school. It was really helpful to be able to show them exactly what my error was, and how I got there. I'm thinking of using Jing to make comments on good student papers, then post them to show to the whole group. Examples of "what makes a good paper."
Why Would You Use It?
◆ Give verbal feedback on digital assignments instead of printing them out.
◆ Make narrated “how-to” videos for students.
◆ Use it when troubleshooting a problem you or your students are having.
◆ Jing makes it easy to add your content to YouTube
Today Kersten and I had a great Skype conversation about education. The thing I loved about our experience is that even though her and I were both in the same general geographic area - we could have been in different schools, different states, or different countries. I could have been talking to Kersten while on the road, on a plane (with wi-fi), or from a different location every day. If I were a soldier, I could be talking from a war zone. If I were an inner city student, I could be talking to a Harvard professor. Video chatting, in all it's emerging forms, really widens the playing field for students. No longer are we constrained by location, and poverty becomes less of a deciding factor in the education you can receive.
Years ago, I might have worried about raising my son on the Mexican Border, where I lived. Now, I know that he can be part of a global community of educators and experiences, and will have access to all the tools to be successful. One tool for success that Kersten and I used is Google Docs. We made a document about PBL, Inquiry learning, Webquests, and Constructivism. You can see our work here. The amazing thing about this document is that we created, edited, saved, and shared - all while not being in the same classroom. We worked together, chatting in the sidebar, talking on Skype, and putting the pieces of our assignment together together, but apart. The uses for this in the classroom are endless!
Google + in the Classroom
Though I don't think anyone really knows how to use it yet, or if it'll catch on, Google + is here, and looks to have some promise that other technology hasn't caught up with yet.
I am often a little weary of befriending my past or current students on Facebook. I will sheepishly admit that I have a bit of a mouth, and that I post a lot of dumb stuff on Facebook. I like the idea of using Google + as a professional tool, where I could share articles with my colleagues, discuss assignments with my students, and share lessons with fellow teachers. I have heard Garth suggest that is what he does on Twitter, but I never got the hang of Twitter. I like the idea of having circles of friends, family, co-workers, students, or whoever that I share certain items with.
In the article Professors Consider Classroom Uses for Google Plus, the author discusses using Google + as a tool for virtual office hours. I could see students video chatting with me, or with each other, about topics related to class. I could see having a "chat session" or a "hangout" as it's called here, to hold my weekly TA meeting or even a class discussion. I love the idea of being able to look at 10 or 20 of my peers, friends, or colleagues - and doing so from wherever I want.
I also think that using the newest technology keeps students fresh and engaged, and thinking about how the latest and greatest will advance us as a society. As teachers, we should be trying things that make us just a bit uncomfortable, so that we can share our knowledge with others.
TodaysMeet and Back-channeling
TodaysMeet.com is an opportunity for students to carry on an online conversation in one place, about the topic being presented - or really, about anything at all. It's nifty because it's a real-time tool, that you can watch the conversations scroll down the screen. I took a look at a conversation that had occurred during a presentation on Prezi. An educator named John D McCarty used Prezi as a tool to graphically show his resume. I could definitely see myself putting my resume into a graphic form. It certainly would attract your employer's attention, rather than reading another plain, boring, black and white resume - to see cartoons and pictures along with the text. I think that John did an excellent job in showing what the district hiring him would be getting.
I think Prezi is a neat tool for students, because it's much more than just cutting and pasting into a Powerpoint. And, it's free! I think it would be fun to use in a Biology classroom, as you can link to pictures and text, and the Prezi is free flowing and visually attractive. I like how you can click on text to see a larger version of the text, and pan in and out to look at the overall picture, or the details. Gives you a lot of control over your work.
Here is an example of a great Prezi about "5 Steps to Success in Biology." Here is another great one on the Themes of Biology, which was created by high school students.
Amy Hollingsworth is The Natural Science Biology Lab Coordinator and Part-time Lecturer. She is also working on a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on STEM education