Infographics

So today, as part of my ED571 class, I learned about infographics.  These are great tools that are extremely resourceful to educators all around the world.  I experimented a bit on the website easel.ly and created my own infographic.  Although somewhat rudimentary, it is definitely a start.  I cannot wait to become more proficienty in creating these types of resources!


easel.ly

VoiceThread

Originally I started this project with a vocabulary lesson in mind.  In the past, I have had my students pick a few vocabulary words and illustrate them using postcards, etc.  The negative thing about that is that they have to create separate post cards for each vocabulary word.  VoiceThread allows them to create slides and link those slides to a webpage that shows the definition of the word.  The idea is that the picture they use for their slide illustrates the definition of the word.  The only thing missing, I feel, is that music cannot be added through VoiceThread unless you use the mic of your computer to record music playing in the background. Another way that they can add music is by creating the slides in another program such as Premiere, MovieMaker, iMovie, etc.  Unfortunately, there is no direct way to upload music files to VoiceThread.  
  After putting together a slideshow myself, I was able to come up with another idea.  This would be a great way for students to introduce themselves to the class.  I am most definitely going to use this with my students next semester.  They will have to write a paper introducing themselves to me, and also create a VideoThread with personal pictures (that are school appropriate) that illustrate key words that define them as individuals.  I’m super excited! 

Link

Forbes Magaizine interested in the educational system?

ForbesArticle

A couple of days ago, a colleague of mine presented to me the cover of a recent Forbes Magazine edition.  It read, “No Field Operates More Inefficiently Than Education.  A New Breed of Disruptors is Finally Going to Fix It.  Here’s How to Join Them.”.  My coworker was outraged.  “How dare they make us look bad”, my coworker declared.  I must admit,  I too was a bit baffled.  For one, why would education be something discussed in Forbes Magazine?  Secondly, do these individuals even know what teachers have to deal with on a day to day basis?  So many times we have seen new curriculum – along with its material – be implemented into a classroom that have been created by individuals who have never stepped foot in a classroom themselves.  How can one preach about teaching if they have never taught?  After further research, I come to find out that this article is based on Salman Kahn, a.k.a. “the celebrity internet teacher”.  Now, the Khan Academy is something that I have heard time and time again during my graduate studies at Dominican College.  The concept falls into flipped learning, a strategy that I am learning about extensively this quarter.  So imagine my dismay when I connect this negative attitude with a strategy I have been so excited about.  This lead me to thinking.  Aside from the headline that diminishes all of the hard work put forth by good, effective teachers on a daily basis, why would my coworker be so livid?  I began to explain to him the theory of flipped learning and the benefits to having this type of classroom environment.  I mentioned the fact that students would be held accountable for their own learning, and also that teachers would have more opportunities of extending the learning in a more personal setting (small group or one-t0-one).  Regardless of the research I was citing, my coworker would not budge.  “This won’t work in our setting (we are in an urban area)” he continued.  “Our students lack the motivation required to learn as it is, now we are putting the learning in their hands? It won’t work.”  With that, I rebutted, “Perhaps these students lack the motivation required to learn because they have never felt responsible and in control of their learning.  These students are capable of great things, if pushed in the right direction.  It may very well not work out, but I am sure willing to give it a try.”

The Fish Bowl Framework

For my Instructional Design II course, I chose an instructional framework to incorporate in a flipped learning lesson.  Below you will find a description of the framework chosen, a link to the video that I will use and an explanation of the classroom – as well as extension – activites that students will be participating in. 

Framework: The Fish Bowl Discussion

                The framework I have chosen to use for this lesson is the Fish Bowl Discussion.  Prior to the activity, students will know that they will be using this particular discussion framework.   Using this framework, the classroom must be arranged in a circle with about four-five chairs arranged in the middle of the circle.  A teacher can decide to either facilitate an opened fish bowl or a closed fish bowl discussion.  The open Fish Bowl discussion involves always having a seat open.  In other words, if there are five seats arranged in the middle there will only be four students actively discussing the topic. At any given time, an audience member can leave the audience and join the discussion.  However, if this occurs, a discussion member must voluntarily leave the discussion and join the audience because a seat must always remain open.  In a closed Fish Bowl discussion all seats are filled for a given time.  When the time is up, those discussion members join the audience and a new rotation of students join the discussion.  Regardless of which type of Fish Bowl discussion is chosen, the teacher must allot enough time to close the discussion and summarize what has been said by the students.  The type of Fish Bowl discussion I have chosen to use for my lesson is the closed Fish Bowl.  This encourages all students to come prepared for the discussion, because they will eventually be part of the rotation. 

The Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTZ_JdYYGms

                The video that I will be utilizing for my flipped lesson is linked above.  This lesson recaps John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men.  This is a great video to use prior to beginning the story, but it is also great for the ending.  I have chosen to utilize it in the beginning of my lesson in order to create relevance for my students.  I want them to feel connected to the central theme of Steinbeck’s masterpiece.

Activities:

                In addition to viewing the 60 second recap video, students will also have to answer questions the delve into the central theme of the American Dream.  As a teacher I would like to know what the American Dream means to them.  How has the American Dream changed or not changed over time (what the American Dream used to be, and what it is for most now)?  Why is having or not having a dream impractical? How can someone be a realist and still have a dream?  Explain why there should or shouldn’t be any rules for dreaming.
                To further elaborate and demonstrate that feedback and reflection are highly regarding in my classroom, students will also be required to post on their Schoology’s discussion thread their thoughts on the dialogue that took place in the classroom.   A key point that must be included in their post, aside from their initial thoughts, is one key point that was mentioned/addressed by a student.  Students must also include ideas that they felt were left out, or state that they felt the matter was fully discussed.  Separate will be given for the question worksheet, their discussion performance and their Schoology post.   

Flipped Classroom Coming Near You

Attention all educators! In some of my previous posts, I mentioned/discussed the notion of a flipped classroom. Well, I come bearing good news. There will be a workshop help in NY at Pace University on Thursday, August 9th. I’m attaching the information.

Register here

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Teaching literature through film

So I have finally decided on a problem to address for my research paper. I have chosen to look into how film can be used to teach literary elements more effectively. My hypothesis is that film can be incorporated into classrooms in order to increase reading comprehension and engage students in their learning. I am by no means trying to replace books with film. However, I am trying to prove that films increase students’ comprehension, and also allow critical thinking skills to develop. My intentions also include proving that films help motivate students and engage them in their learning. If students are exposed to a thought provoking film on a given topic and enjoy it, they are more likely to want to read a book on the same topic. I am looking forward to discovering more research (as well as conducting my own) to prove the benefits attained from using films in English classes.

I’m Back!

Wow! It feels good to be back. I’ve been swamped learning about google + (which includes google hangout) as well as other web 2.0 tools. It’s amazing just how much is up there. I literally can’t keep up with it all, and am always driving myself crazy trying to figure out which to use. When I finally pick the tool I’d like to incorporate in my classrooms, it’s already outdated and replaced with something newer/better. To be honest, it drives me crazy!

Anyway, I’m in the process of completing a web 2.0 project in where I am supposed to showcase a tool. I have no idea which one to pick; there are so many out there! I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions. 🙂

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