Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thing 21 - Screencasting

1. Review the Flipped Classroom wiki, and reflect on the elements of a Flipped Classroom that you could incorporate in your classroom.
-I see the flipped classroom as something that could enhance my teaching and student learning, but not something I would do all of the time. Flipping the classroom ocassionaly would allow for variety of delivery of information and keep my teaching from becoming stale. I'm always the kind of person that will be interested in new techniques and ideas, but won't throw out the tried and tested of the path. "Don't throw the baby out with the bath-water." Keep the best of the old while discovering the best of the new.

2. My screencast:

3. Reflect on the strengths or weaknesses of your screencast, and strategize how you can improve your next recording:
The strength of the screencast is that students can view it any time any place a computer is available. It takes something that would take up learning time in class and moves it to home where it could be viewed anytime.
The weakness of this screencast is that it is too long and not focused enough. In the future I will break the screencast down into smaller pieces so that students can view just the part that they need help on. For this one I would break it into a section on how to fine tune the form, one on how to write a current events summary, and a third where I would highlight the different web based current events sources.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thing 20 - Online Video and Audio Resources

I used Learn 360 to download a video titled Africa: The People, which gave my students a brief overview of African History and Culture.

1. Describe how you could integrate online video and audio resources into your classroom instruction.
I use video and audio resources all the time in my classroom. I use "This Day in History"  nearly every day in my history class. I've downloaded numerous videos for Learn 360 for my Social Studies and History classes. I use YouTube and TeacherTube to show brief clips that enhance my teaching. I use audio sources for things such as the dramatization of primary sources (example: American Rhetoric has audio dramatizations of speeches like the Gettysburg Address read by people like Johnny Cash or Jeff Daniels). I also have downloaded videos on iTunes like America: The Story of Us from the History Channel. I also teach an exploratory class on media discernment so I regularly use iTunes for songs and Youtube for video clips. 

2. Explain the features of one of the tools listed above
Learn 360 allows for searching by topic and grade level and media type, so is very useful in finding exactly what I need.
iTunes allows me to subscribe to podcasts that will enhance my own personal knowledge, and sometimes find stuff that may be useful in my classroom.
3. Compare/contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the video resources compared to audio resources in your reflection.
Both the audio and video resource are invaluable tools that enhance teaching and appeal strongly to the visual or audio learner. They allow for variety in the presentation of material. Video has an advantage in the fact that it is both sound and sight and often the resources can be used for instruction. The audio is often something that will enhance teacher knowledge and something that might not be used directly in the classroom, although there are many audio source that can be. Some of these sources can also be posted to my courses' Moodle pages so that absent students can view them or other students can view them for review.

Thing 19 - Digital Story Telling

1. Create a storyboard for your project. Post a screenshot into your blog.

2. Choose one of the resources listed to create a short 2-3 minute video that includes title, content, transitions and music. Post your digital story to your Face of the Classroom site; provide the URL for the site.
Site URL:  Video can be found at Valley Forge Video. Video produced on Windows Live.

3. Write about two ways digital storytelling can be used in your classroom or educational setting to help meet multiple means of expression.
a) Digital storytelling can be used by the teacher to present information in a multimedia format to try to reach students on an audio and visual level - a way to reach more of the multiple intelligences. It also can be posted online for use by those who are sick or for review.
b) Digital storytelling can be used as an assignment choice for students to produce for a topic of study. It forces the student to think through carefully what should be included by means of the storyboard, and it reinforces the material to be learned. I know that in producing this 3 minute video for this project that I can easily remember the information that I included.

4. Include some feedback from a student or a peer about your project and what suggestions for improvement were recommended in your reflection.
From a peer: "It would be easier to read if you used a drop shadow on your font.  It was very well done, even though some of the pictures were quite gross!"
From a student: "It reinforced things I had already learned about Valley Forge."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thing 18 - Virtual Classrooms

1.A plan to extend my classroom. I'm currently teaching a series of lessons on South Africa focusing on Apartheid then the election of Nelson Mandela. I found a South African middle school on ePals that is interested in a cultural exchange. My students can share our culture with them as they share what life is like in post-Apartheid South Africa

I can also extend my classroom by "flipping" it. I can Moodle post a screen cast of a lesson then use class time to assist students in doing something that applies the information in a new way.

2. summarize what is necessary to be successful as an online student:
Whatever it takes to be a successful student... what it takes to be successful at this 21 things class: self-motivated, non-procrastinator, focused, self-directed, but with appropriate support and mentorship; knowing who can answer your questions. There needs to be appropriate accountability or students could easily slack off.

Thing 17 - Professional Learning Networks

1. LearnPort - This is another good resource for educators, but I did not find it as user friendly and useful compared to a site like Thinkfinity. I was able to use NetTrekker to find good resource for use in my classroom, but it would not be the first site I would go to.

2. Twitter/Facebook - pros and cons of using this in or out of the classroom
Twitter can help engage students. It can foster "metacognition" (the practice of thinking about and reflecting on your learning) It forces users to be brief and to the point -- an important skill in thinking clearly and communicating effectively. It could be used to remind students of homework or other class activities. It could be used for quick responses to what was talked about in class. Twitter could encourage community in the classroom as students "Tweet" about activities in the classroom. It would need to be carefully monitored so that cyber bullying does not occur and comments stay focused and appropriate. I use my Facebook account to stay somewhat connected to the what is going on in my students' lives. As an example, I know when a student's pet died and could help the student deal with that. I wouldn't just wonder why that student was in a bad mood on a particular day. 

3. MACULSpace - A Facebook-like site to stay connected with other educators who want to make good use of technology in education.

4. Professional Organization: describe the a) purpose, b) cost and c) benefit of membership within the organization. d) Explain the unique skills and abilities you could contribute to the organization.
I've researched the National Council for the Social Studies:
a) Here is a quote from the website that desribes the purpose of the organization:
"Social studies educators teach students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators."
b) The cost would vary depending on what resources were chosen, but the regular membership, which includes a subscription to publications and discounts to conventions is $66.
c) Benefits of membership include a subscription to Middle Level Learning, a publication that contains lessons for middle school social studies educators, access to member written lesson plans, a searchable article archive that could be used in middle school classrooms, a list of notable trade books that could be used in social studies classrooms, the ability to collaborate with other educators through state councils for social studies educators, plus a NCSS national conference.
d) What I would bring is 22 years of experience in teaching history and social studies from 3rd grade through 8th grade. I bring a passion for teaching and a love for children. I bring a desire to help children learn from the past and learn to look beyond their own community to the world.

Thing 16 - Research and Reference Tools

1. Compare Contrast of: SIRS Discoverer Deluxe and nfoTrac Junior Edition  a) appropriateness, b) usability, c) content, and d) credibility of the pair of databases for use within the classroom
I prefer the SIRS interface - it seemed more user-friendly and helped me find documents better suited for use in my classroom with a very clear readability guide. They were both appropriate, but I found SIRS to have better usability and content that was more focused on what I was looking for. They both came up with some of the same documents and they are all credible sources. These would be very good databases to use for classroom research.

2. General Reference Center Gold: Higher level magazines like The Economist but useful for background infromation for me. It led me to a short article in Color-Lines magazine that tells about a South African man named Solomon Linda who wrote a song that became known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", which earned millions in royalties while his daughters worked as domestics and could barely feed their families under Apartheid South Africa. He sold the song for $2 and the laws forbade blacks from negotiating over rights for music.

3. Citation using tools within MEL

Wines, M. (2011, April 4). 1991: the end of Apartheid: South Africa's brutal system of racial segregation was abolished 20 years ago, making way for democratic rule. New York Times Upfront, 143(12), 16+. Retrieved from

4. Book citation using "Son of Citation Machine"' See screenshots below. This book can be used to make Apartheid more real to students.
Naidoo, Beverly. Journey To Jo'burg, A South African Story. 1st. New York: Harper Trophy, 1988. Print.