Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Good Thursday

Today was a good Thursday.

First off, the rain stopped before we had to walk to work.

Next, my first hour class really enjoyed their lesson. They worked hard, and remembered what I had taught them earlier, so they didn't need lots of support. I was able to work one-on-one with kids who needed special help.

Then I had chicken rice porridge, a breakfast treat only served in the canteen on Thursdays. While I ate, I talked with my friend Eric, who I hadn't been able to eat lunch with all week. We came up with two possible web solutions to a problem for my principal.

From there, I met with the math coach. I was able to solve all her current computer problems and help her with some workflow issues. And then I met with members of the Chinese Department and helped them learn to do what they wanted to do with their website.

My third graders in the afternoon were adding Halloween clip art to their project. They were enchanted with the results. They kept beaming at their printouts. Then they played gleefully with our drawing program, Kidpix.

My last class was full of ah-has! as basic web page coding clicked for them. At the end of class, we couldn't get them to leave! They were so excited and working so hard. To the rest of the world the pages at this point would look pretty plain, but to the kids who created them by writing the codes themselves, the pages are full of wonder.

Next, I managed to solve a navigation problem with Sharepoint, making Kent really happy. Then he managed to temporarily fix his neighbor's computer. She hadn't backed up her files all year, and the hard drive appeared to have failed. He got it back up long enough for me to help her back up her files.

After school, I had the first voluntary meeting with some of my interactive whiteboard teachers. It was an after school meeting late in the week, but when they all started talking about what they had been doing, answering each other's questions, showing each other things they'd tried, they all became very energized. One of the happily asked if we were meeting again next week and looked truly disappointed when I told him we only meet once a month.

On top of that, some earrings I ordered through Etsy arrived and they are high quality and lovely. I will get lots of use out of them.

And now, I am home and hope to have time to do a bit of work and then knit.

Life is Good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Current Multimedia Works in Progress

Although this is the first term that's I've met with each teacher to collaborate on a tech class semester plan, I'm increasingly enchanted with the results. Here are just a few of the projects that are in the works.

Need a Good Book?
Jeff Scott, a fourth grade teacher, worked with me to create a voice discussion board full of book reviews. His students wrote a synopsis of the book they were reading and then selected a "golden passage", a passage that they felt gave a good taste of the book. They rehearsed reading the passages, focusing on the reading skills he'd been focusing on in class. Then they were ready for me.

The first week I introduced students to Blackboard, our CMS. They learned to find their way around and to use the Wimba Voiceboard module that we have installed.

The next week, they went into the book review voiceboard. They created their own post. They put the book's title in the subject line. In the body of the message, they typed their synopsis. Then they used the voiceboard's recording tools to make an audio recording of themselves reading the gold passage.

Now the students are enthusiastically using the voiceboard to find good books. They keep a log of books they want to read and they are eagerly using the voiceboard to find good books to add to their list. The project is now independent. The students will be able to come in any time and add another post. Jeff is not sure how often he will require them to post.

Book Trailers
Jemma Hooykaas has her fifth graders immersed in higher order thinking to create movie trailer style book teasers. She worked closely with me to design the assignment and create the rubric. She worked with the students to select their books. I created a movie resources form to help them gather their photos and record the photo information for their movie credits.

Jemma started students using a storyboard form she created. Students were challenged to identify the tone and important elements of the book they read, and then to find images to set the tone and represent those elements

I taught students about Flickr and Creative Commons. I introduced the FlickrCC image search engine. I modeled how to use that website and the form I gave them to gather their photos and record important information about the photos to include in their credits.

This past week, students were to bring in their photos so we could use Windows Movie Maker to create the movies. As we expected, not all students had all their photos, but this gave us time for individualized instruction as needed.

One exciting discovery was to see how much some of the students remembered about Movie Maker from last year. All of those students worked on a powerful Poetry Cafe project last year with their homeroom teacher and they are now our movie making experts.

This coming week, I'll show students how to access our school library of royalty-free music to set the tone of their movies.

The final products will either be posted in our school web photo gallery or on our school's YouTube channel.

There are other great projects in the works. I'll try to write about them soon.

Blog Awards

Doug Johnson over at the Blue Skunk Blog honored me with a blog award. Now I have the good fortune to be able to award it to seven other bloggers.

  1. I suspect Clarence Fisher has already received this, but I don't remember seeing it on his blog, so here goes. Remote Access is one of those blogs that I find myself reflecting on days, even months after I read the posts. They often come up in conversations with others. I appreciate that be blogs so regularly, giving us an ongoing view into his classroom. We see his projects and his ideas evolve over time. He reads widely and thinks deeply. Enjoy!

  2. Technology in the Middle is Patrick Woesnner's blog. It covers a good range of topics, from helpful utilities Linkand websites, to notes from classes, to curricular projects.

  3. Betchablog is a place where Chris Betcher connects Best Practices to every day use. He's a skilled podcaster, and he also makes video tutorials, so don't miss those parts of his blog.

  4. Kathy Sierra's Creating Passionate Users is no longer being written, but it is still online and worth reading. She is a computer programmer, author, horse trainer, and artist. Her ideas for creating passionate users apply not just toLinkLink software, but to education and life, and her graphics are powerful and fun.

  5. Dr. Scott McLeod's Dangerously Irreleveant blog is anything but irrelevant, He is a university-level lecturer and researcher who is now working to get education students and administrators up to speed.

  6. Dan Meyer's dy/dan blog's tagline is "Working hard to make it look easy." He fascinates me with the way he draws on technology to bring the world to his math class.

  7. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Yarn Harlot blog has next to nothing to do with education and a whole lot to do with knitting and book tours and good humor. Check out her recent post on an unfortunate (but hilarious) coffee episode at an airport during her recent book tour.

You will notice that two of those blogs aren't education blogs. I think it is important that we read outside out fields, both for our jobs and for ourselves.