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.
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?
Thursday the Cleveland News Herald came to watch my students Skype with Garth's classes. Their purpose for coming to class was because of a larger article about the pros/cons of social networking and technology in schools. It was a positive experience for students and myself. While the reporter did an excellent job talking about one of the ways I use technology in my classes, several comments on the News Herald Website (bottom of linked page above) focused on cell phones and plagiarism. This makes me think the point was lost somewhere between what I am trying to accomplish and what John Q. Public thinks are important arguments in the schools v. technology debate.
Its not about cheating or texting, its about changing how we teach. It has nothing to do with using technology to adapt old methodology; we need to create new methodology. Check out the article and leave a comment for Garth and I. It was nice to see the media take an interest in what Garth and I are attempting to do with our students. Positive media exposure helps pass levies, encourage parents/community leaders/students to take some educational risks and helps encourage me to keep trying to infuse technology with curriculum.
I think it is important to mention that the two students interviewed in the short movie embedded in the article, mention having fun while learning. Students are engaged because they are enjoying the learning process. My hope is that learning and fun become related ideas and help push students to continue learning independently from school...life-long learners!
Technology, Entertainment, Design = TED.com . If you have not visited Ted.com, you have been missing a wealth of knowledge on modern and historical issues. I have been a listening for over three years. In fact, by using Itunes, you can RSS feed and never visit the website. Then just read the description, click and download the ones you want and forget the others. Ituens then downloads and you can put them on your ipod. Listen while you workout, walk, work on the computer or whatever you do as you listen to your Ipod. One of my personal favorites: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools Kill Creativity? Give it a listen and then tell me what you think about his comments.
This week, I used Skype and Google Docs to pull off a very exciting lesson. Jacob Francis, a student from Cleveland State University, who is observing in my classroom wrote a lengthy journal on the experience. I thought his observations and comments would be an outsiders perspective on this set of lessons. His introduction is below: In an era of rapidly expanding technological interconnectedness, it is only logical that the use of technology and communication should be integrated into the educational experience. Beachwood Middle School has fully embraced this philosophy by fully integrating technology into everyday classroom use. This past week in Mr. Holman’s class, I have had the opportunity to witness a variety of uses of technology, all harnessed to provide students with experiences that are not just technology rich, but are also interactive and collaborative. Through these experiences, students were able to learn from an expert in Renaissance art, collaborate on group projects, and for some, develop an interactive lesson that will eventually be taught to students at another school. All of these experiences were the culmination of several weeks of lessons about the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation This week began with the students learning about Renaissance art from David Church, an art professor in Syracuse, NY. The students were taught by Mr. Church through Skype, a free Internet video conferencing program. During the Skype videoconference, the students followed along with a PowerPoint containing Renaissance art images, as well as provided feedback and questions to Mr. Church regarding the presentation through a Google Document. Through the combination of Skype and Google Documents, students can learn, ask questions, provide feedback, and receive responses to their questions in real time. This was not only an excellent way for these students to learn about Renaissance Art, but it was a way that everyone involved found enjoyable and highly informative. Additionally, the use of free programs (Skype and Google Documents) allowed for collaborative instruction with an expert who was hundreds of miles away at a bare minimum of expense.
The teleconference with Mr. Church was just the beginning of 2 different types of culminating projects that would be completed by students over the course of this week. The majority of Mr. Holman’s classes would be working on group projects involving finding images of Renaissance art, and then building a podcast or movie that would be sent to Mr. Church to show them what they had learned. In a more ambitious project, Mr. Holman’s 3rd period class (which consists of only 6 students) is collaborating on a presentation covering both the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation, which will eventually be presented via videoconference over Skype to the entire 7th grade class at Chardon Middle School. I will discuss these projects and my impressions in further detail below. While my explanation may be a bit longwinded, I do not feel that it does these experiences justice to simply gloss over them in a succinct manner. Read more from the PDFbelow.
I will comment more on this lesson at a later date.
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?
How can we use technology to take a students on a Quest for knowledge?The answer is WebQuests:WebQuests have become a major part of education over the last decade. They are inquiry-oriented and have students use variety of web resources for them to engage with content in a 21st Century way.They can be both long and short-term assignments.Bernie Dodge, who created WebQuests, describes what a WebQuest is in the following way,
“A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March, the Educational Technology staff at San Diego Unified School District, and waves of participants each summer at the Teach the Teachers Consortium.
Since those beginning days, tens of thousands of teachers have embraced WebQuests as a way to make good use of the internet while engaging their students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century requires. The model has spread around the world, with special enthusiasm in Brazil, Spain, China, Australia and Holland”
However, as a university teacher at the grade school level, it is very clear many students who plan to teach have no idea what a WebQuest is or how to use them.Last week when I asked 24 graduate students in our google doc pretest for the course to “Explain what a “WebQuest” is and explain the parts required to use one?” Three students mentioned they had heard of them, but could not explain them.Only one student was able to define and explain the parts.This raises some interesting questions for the future of education.Teach WebQuest is not in this course syllabus, but I believe they should have an understanding of them and how to engage students in the content with WebQuest.I will make time to address this concept in the course.
WebQuests have five major parts:Introduction, task, process, resources, and conclusion.The introduction provides some background on the topic and the hook to pull students in.It should raise some motivating questions and get them excited about the topic.The Task defines what the student will do.WebQuests often have group collaboration to them, so this is where the roles or jobs are explained.It will also explain what they need to accomplish during the WebQuest.The Process is a numbered statement of what needs to be accomplished.This could be the guided reading type questions or projects that need to be completed.The fourth part resources are just that the prepicked (by you) places students can find the information they need to complete the tasks.The conclusion is summative and rhetorical in natural.I usually add a sixth section: evaluation.This should provide a rubric for students to understand how their work will be graded before they begin.Not all WebQuest online have this section.They also at times combined the process and task page.Individual teachers can adjust the assignment, if they hold true to the concept.
WebQuests are great learning tools--see this link for more details.WebQuests prompt many types of learning strategies, such as: Motivation Theory, Constructivism, Defferentiated Learning, Situated Learning, Thematic Instruction, Learner-Centered psychological principles, and Questioning at a higher level.
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.
Valley View, Ohio: Today I am at a conference at the CCERC (Cuyahoga County Educational Resource Center).Jim Luteran is running the conference with Mark Tebeau, from Cleveland State History Dept.The objective was to help prepare teachers to present a workshop at their own schools.The topics were "Sounds" in the teaching of History.As I listened to Mark and Jim, as well as 15 teachers from Portage, Summit, Cuyahoga, and Lake county, a few things "hit" me.First, teachers in general are not using technology in many districts.Teachers said, "At meeting we present these ideas and several teachers point blank state, I will not use technology in my classroom."They talked about how many teachers in their districts did not know how to make powerpoints, let alone use the web as a learning tool.This could be caused by many factors: lack of resources, tradition, and their own education.However, several teachers pointed out the district got smarthboard/projectors and still they are not seeing new ways of teaching emerge, yet. Second, it became clear we "cover" history.What I mean by that is we attempt to cover tons of information in our standards to achieve success on state mandated exams, but really don't teach students how to understand history or study history (or any content). Do we teach them how to critically think to understand material? Do we teach students how to analyze materials (readings/cartoons/images/newspapers/etc..)?Do we teach them how to connect ideas and or historical facts? Do we teach them how to relate what they are learning to the world around them? The third hit came from a young women who teaches in the Cleveland Area, she talked about the need for teacher leaders.We need teachers who model how to implement the technology and share that knowledge with their staff.They mentioned this over and over, how if they did something with students and people would hear about it they would come and ask questions.Then they become the go to person for help and willingly led them down the road toward the integration of technology.That is something we need more of: Teacher Leaders.
Near the end of the presentation they showed a classroom wikispace…here is a teacher leader at First Grade doing it all with her students--see images below.Check out her site.
I will have to think about this day a little longer and then comment on some of the new website they presented.
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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