Hi, I'm Hanna (Garth's daughter) I've been thinking I should write a blog so here it is. I've decided to write about something called voki. It's really cool first you pick a character then add to it, you can record your voice and make it say whatever you want. After my teacher showing me this I got thinking wouldn't it be cool to learn about maybe Christopher Columbus and make a voki that looks like him and says a quote that he actually said. It would definitely help me remember so much better than just plain old notes. If you look below you can see one, its me!
Check out my Voki below.... Thanks, Hanna
Garth: Well, Hanna showed me Voki a few weeks back (click here for teacher section of Voki--even a lesson plan database). Her teacher, had them make voki's during class. I added the image above to my classroom blog: http://www.7aworldhistory.com/(once on the site click Mr. Holman and you can see and hear my voice in my Voki). Within three days, I bet 50% of my students had created voki's of their own and put them on their reflective blogs. Kids love them and teachers, we should be able to find tons of ways to use these to help students learn. Shot your ideas into a comment. Well, Thank you Hanna for sharing this with me and others on Teachersfortomorrow.net
My building technology teacher, Craig Corfman, introduced me to a great piece of FREE software. The software is called xtranormal. It allows you to animate your writing. If you have seen the new Geico Insurance commercial featuring Albert Einstein; then you have seen xtranormal in use. It is a very simple program to use; I set some of my students to work with it and gave them no instructions or guidance. Within two class periods, my students had created some great short films based on inventions from ancient civilizations. Below I have included a film I created to introduce the concept of feudalism. The program is free and all your work is stored online. There are small fees to publish your movies.
Here is the process: (1) choose your setting, characters, background noise; (2) write your script; (3) choose your camera angles, facial movements and body animations. It’s that simple! The film below I made in thirty minutes. Talking to my intervention specialist, Jenna Daugherty, she had the idea of using it during creative writing assignments with the students. The students that I allowed to explore this program became very engaged in writing and animating. I saw students that have not written more than a few sentences for me all year, writing scripts that created entire short stories. Great free resource to help engage your students in the writing process.
There is new software available, FOR FREE (right now) that allows you to create stunning multimedia presentations.Prezi is a web-based software that builds upon the ideas introduced years ago by Microsoft PowerPoint.Prezi does not limit users to “slides”; rather, it gives users a 3-dimensional canvas in which to create an organic flow of ideas.Prezi is hard to explain in words, so please click here to view a Prezi Presentation or two.Basically Prezi allows you to zoom in and out of your screen, revealing different concepts, images and themes.You can start with the word “Ohio”, then hide information about The Ohio State University inside the “O”.Then you can zoom into the “O” and read what’s there; then zoom out and over to the “h” for an explanation of Ohio politics.Prezi also allows you to store your presentations online, so no forgotten reports, lost flash drive, or any other excuses when student work comes due.
I created a free account (free for students and teaches), and have begun to play with this extensive software.It is proving difficult for me to un-program my PowerPoint ways and become a little more creative.Garth and I have discussed using Prezi for our next presentation.The majority of my students have started using Prezi in their technology classes.It is very impressive and the kids are much more engaged than if they were creating presentations using PowerPoint.Prezi is much more free-flowing and students have created some beautiful presentations.I am going to have some of my students create Prezi presentations over the course of the next two weeks as we look at the enduring impacts of the ancient world.I will post in the comment section of this blog with some links when students finish their work.
In the last post, I talked about how my new 7th graders were telling me they lacked self confidence. My orginal plan was to share a free website my wife had shared with me, however, I got off track. She attended the conference at Bowling Green a few weeks back and while Mike and I were presenting she traveled to a few sessions. One session showed her the website Motivator. It is a free site and I believe a good way to personalize motivational comments for your students. I plan to use this a few times a week, to add quotes and motivational comments with images of my student. I hope by the end of the year to have a room full of these images and quotes. Give it a try and let me know what you think about this free software. In a few weeks, I plan to address the question: How do we motivate middle school students in a more thoughtful way. Cheers, Garth
Mosaickr.com is a mosaic maker. You use flickr photos to create mosaics. I plan to use this site this year for open house. On the first day of school, I will take photos of each student and upload them to my class flickr page. Then each day I will snap a few more photos of students working, so that by open house I have a few hundred images. Then I plan to use our school logo to create a mosaic for my door.
The examples below are from the Mosaickr.com site. You will need to have a flickr account, but you do not need a lot of photos uploaded. You can create these mosaics using open source images others have taken right on flickr (Cleveland, Ohio has over 600,000 images). You can get the Small mosaic for free and it downloads directly to your computer. You can also pay a fee and get much larger images. The downloads are fine for most application in school.
Classroom Ideas: 1. Historical figures with images from their life or geography mosaics 2. LA: What book are you reading? Images of that subject 3. Science: Ocean Theme, Weather, Animals, and more 4. Math: Great architecture of skyscrapers or buildings (even my hometown of 45,000 has 29 images of buildings, Newark Ohio) 5. Art: Famous Artist with their work 6. What would you add?
Garth shot me a link to this site this morning, and we were both so blown away by how cool it is, I just had to link it here. Tagxedo is a word cloud generator that lets you copy/paste text, use url's, your twitter stream and more to create word clouds. Why is this site more grawsome than Wordle? At Tagxedo, you can easily change every characteristic possible: eliminate common words, change orientation, change colors AND you can have your word cloud appear in shapes. The picture below is an example of a word cloud I created by entering the url to this blog. Because its about education, I went with the cliche "apple" shape. In the beta version, you can even upload your own images to use!! Check this site out and think about ways to engage students with your curiculum!
WhiteHouse.net Tapes: Over 4700 hours of secret tapes from the White House
Over the last few years, I have taken part in a grant TAH (Teaching American History) and have had the pleasure to work with Marc Selevrstone, from the Miller Center.Marc is a major player in the website, White House Tapes.
This website has thousands of hours of secretly taped conservations between the President and a number of other important government offices.Each conservation is created with a flash video transcript of the conversation and formal written transcripts.However, the greatest feature is to hear the individuals talk: the tone, the stutter, the cuts offs, the pauses the small things that explain so much.It is powerful stuff and sheds light on the true workings of the Office of the Presidency.
The site has several pages to navigate through for specific recordings, from specific Presidents.I like to use the classroom/topic option.This link will take you to the general topics covered in the tapes. From here you can click the live links to hear the conservation.
They also have entire teaching units created that tell the stories in chorological order of the conservation with background information.
The images below give you an example of what you will find.
How could using this site change the teaching of History in your classroom?I encourage you to explore this resource and comment how you used this site and what your students had to say about what they learned.I think you will be happy with the results. Garth
The Partnership for 21st Century skills outlines what it believes to be 21st Century skills today's schools need to be teaching. Ohio became part of this partnership in 2009.The partnership talks about the traditional three R’s and the four C’s. The four C’s include the following: 1.Critical thinking and problem solving 2.Communication, 3.Collaboration 4.Creativity and innovation
I would like to address the collaboration idea in this post.For the last three weeks my students have been learning about the middle ages.They learned the basics from a webquest, while viewing their learning from the perspective of one member of the social hierarchy during the middle ages.While this webquest allowed student to explore different parts to the middle ages they did not have a great way to share what they were learning.I wanted them to blog, but blogs were not “opened” for the students on our network.So, I thought about what I could use.I have used google docs for online testing (Read Mike’s Post on google doc testing), surveys and collaboration with other teachers, so I created workspaces for each group in the social hierarchy.Students were able to share what they had learned with the kings, nobles, knights, clergy, or peasants from other classes in the middle school. Students had found had ideas, facts, stories that no one else had found and with google docs collaboration with ever seventh grader in the school was possible and LIVE.The images below give you an idea of what the final product looked like.I did print out the documents and ended up with 51 pages of information.I must say, almost all of it was good information…only one OMG, not bad for 109 12 year olds.
Let my students tell you what they thought.These are comments from their journals: Connor: I liked google docs because I got to learn new things and I was able to respond to questions my self or add on to other comments. The thing about google docs is you can openly discuss what interesting facts you know and its is very close to a silent classroom with no side conversations.I liked how in google docs you could see what other people have written and branch off from that as opposed to a classroom where you could forget what that person said or what you were about to say.
Nadeera: Yes I did like the Google Docs because it was sort of like blogging. We got to type about how we felt as a certain persons perspective. It was fun to me and I learned a lot.
Caroline: Yes, I enjoyed the program because it gave us a chance to understand what other kids think about the same situation. It gave me new ideas and view points on the same topic and so many different thoughts about things I didn’t even learn yet. I learned the opinions of other kids and new view points on different topics.
Orit: I liked working with google docs because a lot of people write what they know and then they can share it with others. From Google docs you can share ideas and stories that people didn’t know before and new things. In the middle ages I learned about a lot about knights, like what is a page and what is a squire. The middle ages was very interesting to learn about. I think that Google docs helped me to learn lots of different things.
Kate: I liked google docs. I thought it was so cool how we could share thoughts without even talking to one another or seeing each other during the day, it helped share Ideas if one person found an interesting fact but no one else did they could share that easily. I also found myself going on google docs once or twice at home and checking to see what others had added. You could use google docs for pretty much anything if you were doing, a project it would be great. I hope we do another project where we use google docs, I liked how you could correct someone else too.I learned that priests helped out with medicine and I did not know that before, I also learned what they ate if they lived on a manor instead of a castle.
Kids enjoyed the process, they learned from others and they “went home and looked”.Those are good things.By using google doc workspaces for students we create a free open place for them to learn a 21st century skill: collaboration.
A few questions to think about:
1. How could you use this in your classroom?
2.How does this type of collaboration change teaching and learning?
Teachers need to be risk takers, they have to have the initiative and guts to try new ways of teaching and assessing students. To this end, I decided to give my students an online quiz on the enduring impacts of Rome. My goal is to make my quizzes and tests online and allow students to complete them at home by a certain date/time. I will discuss several things in this post: (1) mechanics behind implementing online quizzes and test; (2) the response of other teachers, administration and students; (3) pros and cons of online assessment. Click here to go look at the finished quiz that students completed.
To create my online quiz, I used Google Docs. I simply create a new spreadsheet. Using the editing toolbar on my wikispaces site, I embedded the quiz and students simply went to my website, answered the questions and then submitted their work. Using Google Docs you can create written response answers and multiple choice. Very simple formatting, as Google Docs automatically formats your information. Students do not need an account with Wiki or Google to complete this quiz. Google Docs automatically places students responses into a spreadsheet, so grading is extremely easy; just read straight down each column to check student work. Google Docs also creates pie charts (for multiple choice questions) that tell you the percentage of students that choose each answer. This makes for very quick self-reflection on each question, one click and you can see if 90% of your students missed number two. Students completed their quiz during class in the computer lab.
I have encountered several responses from other teachers and administrators. The first question from my principal was "how do you make sure students do not look at each others screens and cheat"? In the end, I think it is nearly impossible to eliminate cheating. BUT quizzes and tests do not occur often in my class, I use alternate forms of assessment. I use Tests and quizzes to monitor progress as we build a base of knowledge prior to completing projects or other forms of assessment. The majority of my students understand that while they receive points for tests and quizzes, in the end cheating only hurts themselves. Do I have students that cheat, of course, but you deal with that just like if they cheated on a paper test. Making questions that require a written response also helps eliminate cheating. As I walked around the computer lab, most students were so busy typing, they did not even bother to check on their neighbor. The idea of putting my tests online and allowing students to complete them at home means that I cannot control who they talk to and what they look at to answer questions, according to my administration. This is an issue of teaching philosophy. If my students go home and use each other, their notes, textbooks, and the internet to answer test questions; I think that is great. Not only are my students learning content, but they are learning problem solving and research skills. We are so connected that people "google" information and communicate with peers to find information all of the time. If two, three or ten students text each other with questions about why Roman roads are an enduring impact, then they are using technology to work together and solve a problem. That is more important than memorizing the name of emperor that built the road. My fellow teachers are split on the idea. Some do not trust their students to complete online assessment, other are all on board and I am doing an in-service next week to show them how to make their own online assessment. Students have began to leave feedback on my Wiki. All of it very positive. Many students have made comments about the trust I am showing in them, the fact that they feel like it is a college class and some simply like that they do not have to mess with paper.
As for positives and negatives? I think the positives are numerous. No printed paper tests, secure and digital copy of student work (Can't loose students' tests!) and students reaction is overwhelmingly positive. Colleges teach entire courses online and they have been doing that for several years. If my seventh graders are exposed to online learning, then I am doing my job of preparing them for their futures. The biggest surprise to me is the quality of students' written work. With paper tests, I had to practically pull teeth to get students to give me more than three sentences for short-answer questions. With this first online test, students are giving me full paragraph answers, using examples from class and supporting their facts and opinions. It is not perfect, students will inevitably cheat and some students do not have home access to the internet, but these negatives are manageable. We have built in team-time during our school day where students can access a computer lab and complete their online assessments if they do not have internet at home. Kid's will always cheat, so I try and work around that. I let them use notes and each other. I encourage them to research and communicate before answering questions. All-in-all it was a very successful experiment.
Ohio history standards require students to describe the enduring impacts of the ancient world: including Egypt, China, India, Rome, and Greece.The focus of this work is on the four following ideas:Development of Government, Cultural and scientific achievements, Spread of Religions and slavery or system of labor.This seems like a huge task for 7th grade students.However, over the years I have developed a unit based on inquiry and higher level thinking that has shown positive results.
I began by using film from the web (teacher tube, You tube and Unitedstreaming, Even Infohio has free films).These films were embedded into the software inspiration--see photo Gallery below.Students then used the index in their textbooks to find specific information quickly in the book or students would be using headphones to watch film, rewind and fast-forward at their own pace, while others were reading websites provided from me.Students were using the learning style that best fits them.During this exploration period students add to the webs (similar free software online MindMeister or bubbl.us)After all students had a completed web (for some that was 30 ideas, for others that was 15 ideas), we moved to pairs to share what had been found.They added more and talked about what these things "really mean".
Next, these groups of two would pick out their top five enduring impacts from the society we were working on.These would be place on the board and a common theme would be discussed.Then as a class, we would discuss and vote on the five most important from each society to remember and understand. Then back to pairs to write out justifications as to why these are the top five for each country.
The exam scores were very high.I had students answering 15 Ohio Achievement Testing questions (from pass released OAT questions) and part two a take home exam.In the take home section students would look at images from "our" world and explain how they would not be possible without the Ancient World: I used a football Stadium.Students talked about the basics: cement, Arch’s, Columns, Realism in Art, paved roads, etc. but went much deeper. They talked about Civil Law and how sports could not be played without written laws to explain the process, they mentioned the Hindu Arabic Numerals and scoring, or the laying out the field, in fact several talked about Euclid and Geometry, and this list goes on and on.These kids were thinking and doing it in critical manner. .I can’t help but mention how one student even explained the computer as enduring from the ancient world: since it runs on zero’s and one’s.
To show them one more major example, I asked the students to pull a state out of the hat and then find a large image of the statehouse.We then stood as a group at the back of the room and viewed, 20-25 images of American State Houses: only two are not Greece or Roman in architecture.They see us paying respect to Democracy in the Ancient world.
The combination of exploration, pair’s discussion, group and individual justification helped them to truly understand and see how the Ancient World impacts our world. I am pleased with the their work and believe it was teaching 21st Century skills.
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