Thursday, July 16, 2009

11.5: Thing #11.5 - Evaluation

What a spectacular learning experience! I can't give enough positive kuddos for this professional learning opportunity. Thank you, Lifeguards!

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I think I'll use the screencasting and slideshare tools to improve my communication with parents. I am really excited about those possibilities. Seeing really good PowerPoint presentations was inspiring and instructional. I have a lot of work to do in this area, but it's invigorating. I'm doing lots of pondering and mulling about it.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

I need to stay current in my specific field and in my instructional techniques. Though I'm not in a classroom in front of students, I advise teachers who are. I am often in a classroom in front of teachers, too. I know I need to model what I want them to do with their sudents. That means integrating technology into my teaching. That means being able to teach the teachers the necessary skills. This program has given me the support I need to do so.

I also really enjoy learning. Since I finished graduate school 2 years ago, I haven't been this excited about learning. It's been very refreshing :)

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

Sometimes a learner can't see the progress he or she has made. They don't remember what a struggle it was when they started. Or, in the case of gifted kids, they learned it so quickly it doesn't feel like they learned something new. I can see my progress. The blog is a great way to document your journey. This applies most to Twitter.

I like Twitter. In a very short time, I've come to find it quite useful professionally. Use it with kids? I don't know. Use it with teachers and others interested in gifted education (#gifted)? DEFINITELY! Tweets have notified me of actions that needed to be taken immediately (advocacy for Javits funding), of articles I haven't seen, of blog posts that are thought-provoking. It's an interesting place to post a question and get a variety of responses. I like that the responses have to be short and succint. I feel this way and I haven't found a third party app that I like to make Twitter easier! (Tweetdeck doesn't seem to work in the district. Twhirl requires a download.)

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

The one aspect that needs improvement is the interaction among the participants. I've made a point to comment on others' blogs, but not all of them. I've had very few comments from participants other than the Lifeguards.

I'm not sure how you'd encourage, monitor, prompt, require this other than what you're already doing. In the two blog formatted book studies I've done, this has been a problem. I require that participants comment on other participants' posts. Participants usually only do the minimum that I require for the first couple of postings, then it trails off. So this may be something that requires time and familiarity with the format.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

11.5: Thing #11 - Digital Citizenship

Oh the irony! Our district has a new internet content filter. It blocked all of the free screencasting tools posted in 11.5 Things. It blocked the web site of a highly respected psychologist who specializes in serving gifted kids. The list could continue (I've put in half a dozen or more requests for unblocking sites). Yet, I go to the Digital Citizenship Ning and there's a blog post for Herbal ___ enhancement. (Guys, if you haven't had enough offers in your email spam filter, here's another one!) I'm sure it's spam that's now showing up in nings.

That's why we need to teach digital citizenship.

Of course, I'm of the opinion that we should talk to kids about most everything. At their level, of course, but fairly openly. Kids don't educate each other accurately. So if an adult doesn't do the talking and the guiding, then you're leaving it up to their friends. Since our executive functioning doesn't fully develop until we're in our 20's, we're taking a pretty big risk in expecting they'll get a good education from their peers.

In reading a number of the posts, I inwardly shouted, "Amen!" I think we spend entirely too much time and effort blocking sites and policing for plagarism. (At the risk of sounding hypocrital, I do appreciate the spam filter. I read it daily since communication from parents and experts from other countries are often blocked, but I like it being in a separate folder.) Instead, we should be capitalizing on teachable moments and creating plagarim-proof assignments.

Most of the articles listed in 11.5 Thing #11 talked about modeling the thinking processes used to evaluate web resources and web tools. I think that's right on. Modeling is so key to good teaching. It's the same good strategy whether you're thinking through a math problem or trying to find information on the web. What would be a good tool to use to solve this problem? Why use this one? Now that I'm using it, how do I get the most out of it?

Certainly we don't have to think aloud all the time, but we do need to do it. It is worth the extra time! We need to address choosing the right tool, evaluating what we find, using the tool appropriately, etiquette, and safety. These can be integrated into most content learning experiences, we just have to make a point to do it.

5 things to tell my students
  • you gotta use the right tool for the job (It's pretty difficult to loosen a screw with a hammer.)
  • you can't believe everything you see or read (The sky is bright red. I wrote it - so look outside, is it suddenly true? I can edit a picture to make a sky bright red. You see an image of it, is it true?)
  • take pride in your work (It's usually faster to do a good job the first time than to do a lazy job and have to do it again.)
  • manners matter online, too (Poor manners can be forever saved electronically. Who wants that legacy?)
  • people aren't necessarily who they say they are online (Never get in a car with a stranger. Same rule applies here.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

11.5: Thing #10 - Virtual Worlds

I haven't felt this inept in a very long time. I had trouble customizing my avatar. I finally just accepted the default and entered. I ended up entering Second Life in New Berlin. Of course, it took a little while to figure out why everyone was speaking in German. Luckily, I've retained just enough of the 4 years of German I took to recognize when people were asking if they could help me. Very politely, in English, they told me to turn around and go to the tutorial. Problem was, I had a very hard time turning around!

The help desk person IM'd me, including explaining how to IM back, and gave me directions to get to the USA. Only, I couldn't quite figure out how to do that and didn't want to admit it. I did find the tutorial which was in English and German.

I play video games. I'm the best in my house at rhythm games and I'm pretty good at Ratchet and Clank. But I don't play first person shooter games or any other games from that perspective. I have trouble navigating them so I don't like them. Had the same feeling in Second Life.

In my second attempt, I tried from my home computer. Navigation is a bit easier, but I still look ridiculous and everything takes forever. I finally used the map to get to Campus 3D and quit.

I can't say that I'd recommend this to anyone. I need a teenager to walk me through it. My husband is convinced Second Life is on it's way out, but I'm sure some other virtual world will gain favor.

11.5 - Thing #9 Slideshare

In Olivia Mitchell’s post on 4 Multimedia Learning Principles…, she embedded this presentation on “Brain Rules for Presenters” by Garr Reynolds. It’s a wonderful presentation about avoiding “death by PowerPoint”.

In Dave Yewman’s tips, my biggest take-away was presenter view. Wow! I didn’t know how to set up multiple monitor views and I’ve been PowerPoint a VERY long time. This is very exciting! (When using presenter view, the projector shows the PowerPoint while your computer shows your notes, the slides coming up, and more!)

I am so excited. This is the tool I need. I'm going to do my "Should I Refer" presentation and embed it so parents can access it. This is the right tool for that issue. After looking at Slideshare and authorStream, I'm unsure which will work best for me. I'm going to try Slideshare first since it seems to have gotten the most "press". The audio and animation are key for me. So if those don't work well in Slideshare, I may work in authorStream more. Stay tuned for the presentation...

Of course kids should be doing this. I view this much like videos. It provides an authentic audience!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

11.5 Thing #8 - Screencasts

I found the link to Sue Waters blog on improving screencasts very helpful. There was link to a good video on how a teacher (Michael Meagher) uses Camtasia Studio to do his podcasts. After watching that and trying CamStudio, I'm ready for fork over the $300! I'm going to try a couple of other free ones before I go that far, though.

I found CamStudio limiting. Having to switch to Movie Maker to edit was a slow process so it's not very impressive. I tried the video annotating, but the quality was very poor. The voice and the screenshot don't quite match. I did it though. I'm excited about the possibility. I could use Camtasia to do the annual presentation on Should I Refer My Child for the GT Program (yucky title, but informative). Posting that on the net would be a huge plus!

This screencast is how to get to and edit the GTKidsBooks wiki.

Well... I can't seem to upload the video I did using Camstudio. It just won't upload. I had trouble getting the right file type from Movie Maker, too.

I was going to start over using one of the other screencasting tools but the district's new blocking system blocked all the free ones. I tried to download Jing, but don't have the administrative rights to do so. Agh!

Trust that I did one.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

11.5: Thing #7 - Video Resources

Here's a brief video from the Discovery Channel. It's from the Understanding the Brain series and addresses Genius. I found it using Hulu.

The National Archives Video Collection looks cool, but I couldn't get anything besides what was posted on the site - there were no more.

I couldn't any PBS video to actually play. It would let me email a link or buy a DVD, but it wouldn't actually play an videos. I wondered if this was an SBISD blocking issue.

I'm excited to check out Totlol at home since they are all YouTube links.

I love that NeoK12 has a section on biographies. These are really great for use with gifted kids. There are videos on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs - contemporary gifted folks. Of course, I couldn't get them to play in the district - argh! Here's a link to the one on Bill Gates - I'll have to watch it at home.

I really like Google videos to search. I just find it easier to navigate than Blinkx and easier to get the url I need to convert videos to something I can view and use.