My grad tool

November 11, 2008

Each week it IT 5130 we are given different websites (tools) to look at and explore.  This week I am posting one of my own, Cover It Live.  I was exposed to this site through a staff development class in my district.  Cover it Live’s software allows people to blog with each other in real time almost like instant messaging.  If used correctly I think this has a lot of potential for the classroom.  

I would like to use this tool with my students when we have a socratic seminar.  I envision the inner circle having a discussion on a topic as any traditional socratic seminar would have, but students in the outer circle would all have laptops and would be blogging with each other about the conversation taking place or about the discussion question.  Many times students have a hard time being in the outer circle because it is either boring or they want to participate in the discussion taking place in the inner circle.  I am eager to try this tool to see if it helps remedy those problems.  

Cover It Live was tried at my school recently in on a PLC day and it did not go over very well with one of the groups. Most groups thought using this tool was a lot of fun, but in one group the teachers said they had a hard time listening to the inner circle and blogging at the same time.  As teachers we hear so much about how good our students are at multitasking while doing there homework that this should not be a problem for them…I hope!


More grad tools

October 29, 2008

This week I was exposed to a site for online brainstorming.  I wanted to write about several connections I had related to this site.

First, from a grad student perspective I have been reading and learning about the importance of brainstorming when creating presentations.  Using sticky notes was one method or suggestion given for brainstorming.  This site looked like another good way for individuals and groups to brainstorm and plan out presentations.

This site also reminded me a lot of Inspiration software.  Inspirations is used a lot in the school setting for brainstorming, making concept maps, creating graphic organizers.  I can see a lot of students using because they are so familiar with Inspiration.  Or another way to say it is the skills they learn using Inspiration are very transferable.

Grid System

October 23, 2008

For my most recent project I am using a grid system to help me design my slides in Keynote. I read about the grid system in Nancy Duarte’s book slide:ology. I really wanted to have unity throughout all of my slides since my project needed to be 30-60 slides in length. In slide:ology Duarte says, “A grid system provides as flexible way to organize your content.”  If found this to be true as I was working on my slides. It gave the the flexibility I needed while at the same time providing structure to the slides. The grid I used was a four column gird. I have posted a few pictures of the slides I created with the grid still in place. I will definitely use the grid again when I create my next project.  

Added value to a speech

October 14, 2008

One of my most recent projects was to find a speech and use words and or images to add value to that speech.  I decided on Bush’s speech to the nation after September 11th.  

I start the presentation by flashing words across the screen.  I pulled these words directly out of the speech.  I also used photos from the Department of Defense that are in the public domain.  Each photo is displayed for about 19 seconds.  I pictures to add emotion, but did not want them to take away from the speech.  Hopefully the timing of the photos accomplishes this task.


October 6, 2008

In our readings this week the concept of storyboarding was presented in Nancy Duarte’s books slide:ology and  in chapter four of Garr Reynolds’  book Presentation Zen.  Both authors emphasize how important planning is to any multimedia presentation.  They also encourage people to do their planning with paper and pencil away from the computer.

The readings this week were conformation of what I am doing in the classroom.  For each multimedia presentation that my students create in class I require that they plan their presentation on a storyboard.  I have to admit that I do not require or give as much time to this step as I probably should.  Time is a valuable and limited resource in the classroom, and it is hard to devote days to brainstorming and planning.  This is something that I want to work on and continue to emphasize in my classroom.

In Duarte’s books she recommends devoting 36-90 hours of time to developing and hour-long presentation.   As a teach, devoting this much time to a presentation would be great, but it seems unrealistic.  Most teachers have more than one presentation to give each week and often times more than one per day.  There is no way a teacher can devote this much time to each presentation or lesson.  The challenge for teachers is how can we develop high quality effective lessons in a shorter time period?  The good news is we can evaluate, reuse, and modify lessons from year to year.

Student IT Support in Schools, Good or Bad?

September 30, 2008

Typically schools and school districts across the country have pretty tight budgets.  Now add to the equation a poor economy and many districts are facing a serious budget crisis.  Many school districts now are being forced to adapt and become creative when it comes to IT support.  Cash strapped schools are turning to tech savvy students as a source of IT support in individual buildings.

Using students for IT support is the current trend in education that I have chosen to write about today.  A good article to support this trend comes from The Journal.  In their February magazine The Journal’s cover story was titled “How Geek become Chic” in which John K. Waters writes about school districts that are using students as IT support.

There is never enough tech support in districts or schools.  Using students as tech support helps solve this problem.  Not only are teachers and other school staff receiving better support students who serve on these teams are benefiting as well.  These students are gaining real world job experience, they are becoming leaders, and they are also taking ownership in their school.

Of course there are some draw backs to this type of IT support. Mainly, students serve in this role are given a lot of power and privilege. I could see how some people in schools would cringe at the thought of students having the ability to log in and access every computer in the school.  However, let’s remember that one of the advantages of this type of IT program is that leaders are being developed, and of course there should be an application process to become part of the IT team.

Several examples were mentioned in the article about schools and states that have adopted students into their IT support. One of these states is Mississippi.  In Mississippi the state has sponsored a program called Challenging Regional Educators to Advance Technology (CREATE).  In Colorado, Legend High School in Douglas County opened its doors this year with the goal to use students to help with IT support as well.

Advantages and disadvantages put aside I think this is a trend worth watching especially if schools continue to face budget shortfalls.

Tools of the week

September 19, 2008

Each week we are given different tools to look at and explore.  Some of these websites I have heard of and use, like Skype, and other I have not.  It is amazing to think how many different tool are out on the web that I am not aware of.  Out of the tools that I have been exposed to so far, two jumped out at me because of the potential they could have in the classrooms.  

Mogulus was the first tool.  Mogulus “gives you everything you need to launch your own LIVE 24/7 television experience.”  I think there is a lot of potential here for teachers to use this with students.  I can see classes using Mogulus as a way to study current events that are happening all around the world.  The potential for real world connections and engagement of students could be very high if used correctly in a classroom.

The second tool that caught my attention was ClassSpot.  One of my dreams as a teacher is to have a laptop in my room for every student.  I would love to become a paperless classroom.  ClassSpot would be a great tool for a teacher in this situation.  According to their website:

“ClassSpot-equipped rooms enable any student to instantly share their work or digital content they find online. They can send files or websites over the network to any large display system in the classroom. Faculty or student can easily interact with the material on the display screen by simply moving their mouse on to a screen to take control.”

Allowing students to have control over the material that is presented in this format could be very powerful.  The down side to ClassSpot is that there is a cost involved to aquier this tool.