Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tool #7: Edmodo

We met with the Landrum Middle School teachers on May 15 in order to collaborate and work on vertical alignment, and we utilized Edmodo in order to further the connections began at this meeting. This is the first middle school that our 9th grade English I TEAM will be meeting with, but our goal is to eventually meet and work with all of our feeder schools using Edmodo.

We utilized Edmodo during our meeting (and will continue to do so) in order to share notes and points of conversation. Not only so, but we connected with other colleagues from another campus beyond just the "Hey, nice to meet ya, cool idea! I liked your classroom!" and then lose it because we didn't write it down or forgot where we put our notes.

We're also going to be using Edmodo as a collaboration and connecting tool within our Summer U courses. Each Summer U session whose presenter has decided to utilize this tool will have a group created and which session participants can then join. The connections made within that Professional Development time are then accessible well after the session is over; the group remains open and functioning. Not only so, but district employees that perhaps were physically unable to attend the Summer U session can still "join" the group and see notes, conversations, resources, etc. collected by other participants and participate in any post-session activity that goes on, as well. That is something that Eduphoria-Workshop cannot offer.

Tool #6: WallWisher & Poll Everywhere

Wall Wisher
I was introduced to Wall Wisher last summer during an Abydos Writing Institute. Our homework included reading a chapter in our Abydos book and then summarizing what we read. We then were asked to share the most important piece of our summary by adding it to the class wall. In terms of skill, it forces students to explain themselves in a concise manner. Not only so, but we had to decide what information was most important within our own summaries. 

It could easily be taught in the exact manner as explained above. While this skill and activity can certainly be achieved using a good ol' sticky note and the bulletin board at the back of your classroom, there are multiple benefits to adopting wall wisher: it's more accessible to kids, and they're more likely to view and discuss others' comments as they appear on the wall. And they're not crowded around the back bulletin board all reading each others' work and bumping into each other, being disruptive, etc. And you can save it all in one place on your computer rather than have bundles of sticky notes swimming around in your briefcase. 

When Garcia-Wheeler used this in her classroom this year, however, she did say that sometimes the network would not respond and kids couldn't access the wall. In which case, you can just revert to the "old school" sticky-note-bulletin-board-procedure and try again another day.

Poll Everywhere
I have heard of Poll Everywhere a number of times at both district trainings/professional development days and at the National Council for Teachers of English annual conference in Chicago this past November. Everybody basically raves about it. It's a great way to invite your kids to use their cell phones in class for educational purposes (I know, risky for some people, but I have no qualms about it). Polls are so easy to set up, and the kids enjoyed seeing the real-time results pop up on the screen as their answers were submitted and counted. If you are scared of using the ActivVotes or ActivExpressions (or don't have them registered), use Poll Everywhere instead and simply have the kids use the iTouches from the library. Kids can submit their responses either via text message on their phones OR through the internet (hence, use of iTouches). Problem with submitting via text message from a phone: polls will only accept one response from each cell phone number, so kids can't share devices if their neighbor doesn't have a cell phone. But you can submit all the responses you want via the internet (just go to, type in a response in the box that pops up, and hit "Submit.")

Here's an example of one Poll I took in my dinky 6th period (10 kids total) class- I was trying to see whether the class generally understood the definition of Imagery. Clearly we needed to revisit the term. 

Also, here's a really helpful explanation of Poll Everywhere (that includes its great uses in the classroom!) on Alan November's website (no need to reinvent the wheel if Alan's already done it!): November Learning on Poll Everywhere 

Tool #5: Presentation Tools

Animoto is awesome! It is so easy and quick. How have I never known about or utilized this presentation tool before? But how to use within the classroom...

I could have my kids use animoto to create visual stories within their Literary genre unit. This might be somewhat of a stretch (and I know there are tons of other storyboard and story creation tools/programs out there,) but since it's so dang easy, I could work with it.
I could have them create a story using solely images and music and asking them to focus on videographer choices. Why would you use this picture over that to enhance the conflict? What picture could you use to flush out the protagonist of this story a bit more? 
[I actually don't think this is a very good idea, but I may need to sit on this tool and see how I might utilize it in a meaningful and standards-based way. I need to re-read the TEKS and find where a presenting tool such as this might be useful.]

Below is an animoto I created in probably 5 minutes, using pictures from my Study Abroad program at Oxford when I studied Shakespeare in college.

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

NOTE: come back and add another animoto or Go! Animate, Wordle, Prezi, etc.

Tool #4: Google Apps

Google Apps are incredibly useful, particularly Google Docs. We used Google Docs this past summer for the Abydos Writing Institute. Our entire group of 20+ teachers was responsible for writing individual pieces and then publishing a compilation of all of our work towards the end of the Institute. Using Google Docs allowed us a quick and easy way to compile all of our work.

My kids have used Google Docs in the classroom, as well, during Banned Books week. In groups of 3, students collaborated on one document, chronicling their thoughts on certain banned books they were reading about on several different library resource websites. It makes it easy for me to track their process because I can see the timestamp of when they've last worked on their document. In terms of "due dates," this is nice to have. Not only that, but I don't have physical pieces of papers floating around my classroom or cluttering my desk (huge bonus).

I also use Google Forms when working on particular pieces of my ActivEducator position- as a way of chronicling broken ActivVotes and ActivExpressions, I must input numbers for other members of the ActivEducator community to see/take action upon. 

Tool #3: Video Hosting/Streaming Sites

Videos in the English classroom
While at first I was having a hard time thinking of the ways in which videos can be used within the English classroom, there are a number of ways we can use (and actually already have been using) streamlining sites and videos. 

With the EOC's new focus on structure, I have begun asking my students to think about directorial (authorial) choices. 
"Was the director's choice of lighting in this scene effective? Why?" 
"How did the director/costume designer/makeup artist create the character of Juliet?" 
This is uber similar to what we do with text, but the students like the act of viewing something. It's the same skill (relatively). 

Below are a couple different videos that I actually plan to use tomorrow as I begin our Romeo and Juliet unit. The students will be viewing these clips and building an understanding of Romeo and Juliet as audience members (within our persuasion unit). They can then analyze and explain why both Romeo and Juliet experience a bit of failure when trying to persuade the other to do/believe something- R & J are not thinking of their audience.

I have been using Dropbox all year for both staff development files as well as personal files. It has been a serious lifesaver as I have been planning a wedding in a separate city from my mother.

Copyright and fair use comments: the term "fair use" simply refers to a legal defense in the event someone is accused of copyright infringement. Copyrights are highly complicated and depend entirely on the situation in which they are "infringed" upon. When in doubt, provide thorough attribution. Point taken. 

Tool #2: PLNs

Blogs are a great resource for any category or field of interest. While I haven't necessarily "built" a PLN through comments or messages left on others' blogs or posts, I follow quite a few. Leaving comments just makes me nervous. I am too proud- what if I write something that I then come back to later and think, "What the heck was I saying? That's not the way things should go down in the classroom!" I tend to be a babbler in person, so I find it somewhat amusing that I am so tight-lipped in terms of professional material on the interweb.

I have a diigo account that I have dabbled with here and there, but I haven't really built much of a network there, either. If I had more time to spend perusing and organizing the few sites that I have added to my diigo account, I'd probably utilize it more. I follow Holly and the sites she adds, and her stuff is pretty much always applicable and relevant within the English classroom (duh).

One blog that I intend to continue to follow is Quinton's. Not only should he write a book using his musings on our profession and the movement of 21st century learning, but how does he have so much time to make his look so creative and professional? Q's blog

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ISTE article

I came across this ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) article a couple days ago, and thought I'd share the link, as well as a couple of my favorite nuggets from the text:

What should our goals be when considering technology in the classroom?

  • The classroom can’t just be a showcase for technology.
  • Students must be the center of the program.
  • Adults must serve as mentors, sherpas, and allies.
  • Students must solve real problems that they come up with.

    Here's the link to the article itself: Long's Article on Design Thinking, ISTE

    So proud to work with you all. 

Tool #1: Creating my Blog with Avatar Emily

I must be honest and admit a bit of frustration with Voki! I am a perfectionist at heart, so keep this in mind as you read. I wanted my avatar to be a realistic and useful feature on my blog, not one that is merely a joke or one that deters from the aesthetic of my page (I'm a freak, I know). With this in mind, I set out to record my own voice so that the avatar actually sounded like me, but I could not figure out how to access my recordings once I'd hit "save!" Where can I actually find and choose the recordings I'd made? I finally gave up and decided that typing the dialogue would suffice. Not only that, but this gal doesn't even look like me! And I played with all those little adjustment bars for quite awhile! But it's fine. It really is. Although it's not my favorite.

Friday, May 4, 2012

11 Tools

I look forward to moving through the 11 Tools and exploring the types of classroom experiences they will allow for my students!

Best of luck with the course, everyone!