Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Personal Learning Summary

I honestly can’t say that I learned a lot of content knowledge in this class but it’s not because it wasn’t taught well or the topics were poorly chosen. It’s because I have taken this class out of order. I am one class and an internship away from graduating the E-Learning program so I have seen most of this before. I am the tech coordinator for a school and it is my job to know much of the application knowledge.
With all that said I thought this was a nice class to practice a few of the things I had been taught earlier. I normally don’t get into web 2.0 stuff, but in this class I was a little more interested in it because I was moving through the assignments so quickly. I wish I would have taken the classes in order because having the foundations in this class would have made some other classes have fewer growing pains as I was struggling to keep pace with my peers who had already had the foundation.
I think the greatest thing I learned in this class was through my interaction with Scott McLeod. I went into that blog posting with guns blazing and wrongfully attacked someone who actually cares about education. I have been really jaded by the amount of money that is spent on consults to “fix” education because I know that a lot of teachers get sick of being in the classroom and realize that if you can market a “silver bullet” to an educational problem then schools will spend a fortune on your speakers and materials. I really had to challenge my assumption that everyone not directly involved at the school level is just out to make money (education profiteering) or pushing a narrow agenda. I think through that I became much more open to hearing from consultants and professionals.
I really needed to challenge this mindset because it is not good for me professionally if I am skeptical of everyone. It makes me an outsider and a poor example of a collaborator.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Look Mom! I made a rubric!

I found the rubric to be a difficult assessment piece to write. Over the summer I had the pleasure of taking an assessments class and now I have been trained to think of only assessing what is measurable. Because of this, it is very difficult for me to come up with the right verbs to express what I want to measure. What made it even more difficult was the fact that for some of these digital stories I am going to be measuring their emotional reaction or critical thought. Those two items are very difficult to assess with any type of instrument. I found it necessary because of what I was measuring to provide space for individual feedback, not just the numerical score on the rubric.
Something else that I wanted to include was a reward for what I would consider extra-ordinary projects. I wanted this score set apart even further from the perfect score because I don’t believe that you have to go to those lengths to get the ‘A’. I believe that if you have satisfactorily met all the requirements you have made the ‘A’ and anything above that should just be counted as extra.
I think we get trained to think with rubrics that every category has to have the same number of cells and I wonder if that has more to do with a need for having an option at that level of performance or we just want the chart to look neat? I broke that with my rubric, some grading criteria did not have the same number of options as other criteria but I can justify the purpose for each level for each criteria.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Literary Response and Criticism

I found this week’s assignment to be technically easy but the content was much harder than I thought. My assignment was to have students middle school or older to read a piece of literature and react or respond to it. I selected the book East of Eden for my project. (Students will be able to choose what ever piece of literature they want. A news piece, a book, magazine article, etc...)I found it difficult to meet my expectations without giving away the story. Perhaps this is something that I will have to be ok with in this assignment because I need to students to show me that they understood the story and were same way able to identify with, internalize, sympathize with, etc something in the story.

I included some pictures that I found to support the main idea of my Power Point slides. I uploaded the slide show to slide share and am going to embed it below. I purposely kept the slide show short because students will need more time to be invested in the literature than spent on the final project surrounding the literature. I believe a short slide show can demonstrate all of the learning that they need to demonstrate. I also think students will be more apt to pay attention to more concise shows. I also will get the grading done much more timely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Creating a Curriculum Page

Here is the link to my Curriculum Page

I really struggled with this assignment because I am not a teacher. I work with teachers, I have multiple teaching licenses but I don't teacher in an official capacity anymore. I do a lot of training and I have created lots of training pages. I didn't want to recyle one of those for this assignment. I find good literature very powerful and I think if I were to start my career path over I may have started out as an English teacher. Anyway, it is that thought and my love of "story" that led me to choose to do my final project on responding to literature.

Literary Analysis and Critique are very complex processes. The student really has to commit to read the text and be aware of all the elements of good literature while reading. Somehow the student has to make an emotional investment into the story as well. It's difficult to react and be moved by good literature when your feelings aren't involved.

My Curriculum Page deals with the elements of literature and the how-to's for literary analysis. There are a couple of presentations that I found. One was on SlideShare, the other I uploaded to SlideShare. Other than that I found some good resources from libraries, professors and publishing companies.

After previewing the pages provided in the course reading I knew that I wanted to provide more than just a list of links so that is why I really tried to incorporate the presentations. I think lots of blocks of black and white text can overwhelm a student and the text is much more likely to just be skimmed. So the presentations are there to break up the text as well as to provide a differnt type of resource.

Monday, October 25, 2010


LA. The student identifies, analyzes, and applies knowledge of the elements of a variety of fiction and literary texts to develop a thoughtful response to a literary selection

I would really like to see students turn in a digital story like I created last week. I think a response to a moving piece of fiction or non-fiction would be a great assignment. I would like to see them read something that evokes an emotional reaction. Whether it is something sad like Diary of Ann Frank or perhaps it is something extremely uplifting like the rescue of the Chilean Miners. I think this type of activitiy lends itself strongly to a subject or assignment that is more narrative based. I don't really want to see a story about why 2+2=4.

At the very minium this needs to be still images and either narration or a piece of music chosen to fit the mood of the story. I think students could probably go as crazy as 3D graphics if they wanted but I would set the sky as the limit and still pictures as the floor. If a student is using music then I think the slides need to have text. If the student is using narration, the narration should match the mood of the story.

• I would open up the media center and connect our students with newspapers, news magazines, and any of the literature that is on the shelves. The final project needs to be digital but the sources for where a student gets his/her don't have to be. Obviously many will choose an online newspaper or TIME magazine online. Also I think Google Images would be necessary as there may be some pictures that won't be able to be obtained any other way. However these images will need to be cited with some kind of generic citation.

•Students will need to have access to a piece of presentation software. In my school district we are fortunate enough to have Power Point on every student workstation. If students have something else at home they want to use that is fine with me. While at school they can use Power Point and export their slides as PNG's to take home and put in their other program. Students will need to access to Digital Cameras, data cables, computers with USB ports. They will also need access to a music library. I can get access to all of Apple Loops if I have a MAC with Sound Track Pro. Or the music teacher generally has a pretty large library that he/she might not mind sharing. Students may also want to use Movie Maker. I think I would make movie maker the standard. Slides can be exported to PNG files and put into Movie Maker. Movie Maker can be used to add transitions, other title slides, sync the music or narration and the file can be exported to a number of self contained movie files. We may even upload these to YouTube.

• Students would need to see some examples of good digital stories. They would need to be familiar with the elements that make a story. They will need practice with some of the equipment. I would need to create a rubric for grading these assignments so students can see what I am looking for. I also think they need some time grading some examples with me. That way they can hear and experience the thoughts that go through my head when I looking at a digital story.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Magic of Digital Story Telling

About a week ago I was supposed to have an interview with St. Pete. College and I was supposed to give a presentation. I had a marvelous 3 point presentation planned on professionalism in communication. It was going to be a homerun. I had practiced it about 5 times revising the content to make sure it was in the 10 minues alotted. The grandeous presentation had passed all of my expectations, but I hadn't let my wife critique it yet. She came and watched. She gave me a few compliments and then said "What if you tell a story?" At first I was dispondent and quiet because I didn't want to have to start all over, but she was right. A story can convey the same ideas but through some character development and a decent plot, a story has the power to hook listeners in a way even the most awesome 3 point presentation could never rival.

I really liked this assignment because it gave me another chance to practice that skill. I think this is something that instructional designers forget. Teaching modis operandi is give information. Teaching where we spew facts, strategies, numbers and dates is like trying to catch the rain in a cup. Sure you'll get some but alot will still fall on the gound. A story can really focus a person's attention more than a presentation. People are drawn into a good story. A good book sucks our attention. I know I am a whole lot more attentive when a story is being told than when a graphic organizer is being passed out.

I work in an elementary school and have an elementary education degree but I also have a degree in Social Studies and I have not done anything with it since entereing grad school. So I choose a historical topic to do by digital story on.

I first used Power Point to collect and organize my photos and text. From here I reopened it in Keynote. I know that Camtasia allows you to export Power Point to video but I don't have Camtasia and Keynote does the same thing. So on my wonderful MAC, I get the Clip Art resources of Microsoft and the functionality of Keynote. I exported the slideshow to Quicktime. I then imported the video into Final Cut Pro and added a music bed provided by Apple Loops. It took a while to upload to YouTube because of the size.

Viola! Digital Story. Took about an hour once I had conceptualized the project. It's kind of sad but you can watch it below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Principal gives me $1000.00 dollars to buy software?

This is actually a question that I am dealing with right now, but since I just helped the real life school get a $500,000 grant this is a little smaller scale.

First of all I am assuming that the computer already in my room is loaded with all the software currently available on every student machine in my district. (XP, Office 2007, Compass Odyssey, and AR). I would spend a whopping $59.95 to purchase Kidspiration. I think it is an awesome tool.

Polk County has drunk the Max Thompson LFS Kool-Aid so we are all about graphic organizers and summarizing thinking. Kidspiration helps kids build their own graphic organizers and is simple enough that first graders can master it. With the remaining money I would buy another computer and copy of Kidspriation. I would also have enough left over to cover the $100 to Microsft for the XP license as well as the Office license.

After looking at the specs for Kidspiration I am fairly certain that my iPod Touch could run it.

Processor: Pentium II 266 MHz or faster
Operating System: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP (including XP Tablet PC Edition) or Vista; 128 MB of RAM; 75 MB of available hard disk space; 250 MB for full install
Display: 800x600; 1024 X 768 recommended, 16-bit color or higherCD-ROM drive (for installation only)

Maciacintosh (Notice how they spelled Macintosh? Where was the spell check?)
Processor: Macintosh G3 300 MHz or faster
Operating System: OS X, version 10.2.8 or newer; 192 MB minimum RAM75 MB of available hard disk space; 250 for full install
Display: 800x600 minimum; 1024 × 768 recommended, thousands of colors or higher; CD-ROM drive (for installation only)

The computer I am currently using

XP Pro
Celeron M 150 GHz = to a lower Pentium 4
2 GB of Ram (.13 of which is being used by the graphics card)
104 GB of free space (Original HD would probably had 36GB left)
The ATI Raedon Express 200M graphics card is currenly running at 1024 X 768, 32 bit
3 USB 2.0 slots
1 PCMI card slot
S-Video out
Mic/Headphones/internal speakers

The Mac I was using earlier

OS 10.5 Leopard
Intel CoreDuo 2.16 GHz
2GB of RAM
96GB available HD
Raedon Express1600 Graphics Card
1680X1050 32bit
5 USB 2.0
1 Firewire 400
Additional Monitor connector
Super Drive CD-RW, DVD-RW(DL)
Mic/Headphones/internal speakers

On my own I went and got an A+ Certification. A+ is the IT industry standard for PC repair and diagnostic for both hardware and software. This is a part of my job so this assignment was not a stretch for me. I was going to find a server based application and see if pick one of the server's specs against the application for compatibility but I went with the MAC option instead.

One of the downfalls of this weeks reading in my opinion was the ommition of formatting. Storage formatting is something that I think is very important. MAC uses one kind of formatting and Windows uses another. MAC can read Windows formatting but Windows can't read MAC. (MAC's are great, I can sync my plain LG cell phone and my MAC can read the files in it). Formatting is how data is organized. While in theory both are formatted similarly, they don't act the same in practice. The how and why is not important. What is important is that if you go back and forth between MACs and PCs as I do you need to have the storage device that you are sharing between the 2 in a format that both MAC and PC and read and write to. FAT32 is the file fomat that can be read and written to by both MAC and PC. Think of it as O+ and O- blood types in one. I have a couple of flash drives that I carry around that are formatted in FAT32 so that no matter what computer I am on they can be read and written to.

You don't want to format your computer's hard drive in FAT32 because Either FAT32 only recognizes up to like 32 GB or it can't save a file larger than like 4GB (can't remember which but it has size limitations) Smaller storage devices are fine with FAT32.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Media and Reputation

It's true that a good reputation is probably one of the most valuable things you work at never tarnishing. Daniel Solove gives an awesome example in his book "The Future of Reputation gossip, rumor and privacy on the internet" about how before print someone's reputation was more redeemable with the passing of memory. He also asserts that there was a time when the fear of damaging your reputation forever was a scary enough consequence that the majority of people really worked at making sure that they did nothing to damage that.

What has happened to that fear? Let me first premise this statement with a defense of myself. I am not one who believes that everything in Hollywood is contributing to the unravelling of our moral fiber. However, it does seem that there is a certain class of Hollywood/reality tv celebrities that are always in the gossip columns for being trashy or classless with something they have posted or has been posted about them. For them this seems to work in their favor. "All publicity is good publicity"as they say.

But what about the rest of us? There are those out there who are engaging in the same brazen nonsense and either they or one of their frenemies are publicly posting the details to the www. It is well documented that potential employers occasionally scour our facebook pages and twitter feeds to find out about our reputations. I am one who cannot live without a job so I prefer to keep my online presence a little generic. Not because I am out living it up like Tiger Woods and I don't want anyone to know, but because I want to protect my reputation. Part of staying safe is not engaging in risky behavior.

I work at an elementary school where 11 and 12 year old girls have been caught grossly lying about their ages on their social media pages. They are not only putting themselves at risk but they are putting the boys they are trying to talk to at risk by communicating with them under false pretenses. My default response to social media is if you don't have one, you don't need one. Why do we need an "online presence"? I put a premium on trust and I think that is why I don't engage in a lot of social networking. I'm just not drawn to it at all, but I do love fantasy football...go figure.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Activity 2 Reflection

Excel is a valuable productivity tool especially with the switch in teaching paradigms. Teaching used to be considered an art, but more and more it is becoming a science. Every instructional decision has to be backed up with data and Excel is a really nice way of managing numerical data.

The Excel assignment was a nice practice assignment for me, but not a real challenge. My AP sends me excel assignments to do for him all the time so the functions that we were using are something that I have a lot of experience with. We have a large database that contains all of the testing data for students in our county. This database allows us to query various reports and import the data into Excel for further adjustments. I use the conditional sort a lot.

I don't usually have multiple pages so it was neat to learn about the dynamic page changing. I could see that being really useful if something on each page needs changed like a header. I found the ExtraCredit option particularly interesting because I don't get into the statistical functions very often. I could see that as a nice quick and dirty check to evaluate correlations. I liked the context of checking the success of a test in comparison to the success of a homework assignment. That is a nice way to see which homework assigments may need tweeking to be more useful to the students.

I am not sure this is an either or question...

Is it more unethical to allow threats to students/schools or to deny students/teachers access to instructionally-relevant Web-based tools and content?

I think it would be unethical to not allow students (K-12) unrestricted internet access if the web was a necessity. However the web is not a necessity in a K-12 setting. I believe using a computer to do research is a necessity but there are many alternate means that are much more educationally focused for which to obtain information using a computer. When we are asked to do assignments, it is expected that our outside sources be scholarly in nature. As of now full web based scholarly outlets are still burgeoning. The number one resource for scholarly materials is journal databases. Even the poorest media centers have access to one or two journal databases.

With that said I believe we are moving to a place where unrestricted internet access will be a necessity and at that point it will be unethical to deny students access. Because of this transition state I think it is more unethical right now to deny teachers unrestricted access to the internet. Teachers need exposed to the possibilities now so that when we reach the time when unrestricted access is a necessity, they will have the skills to lead and guide students.

Having IT experience I know that it is possible to differentiate restrictions. It is possible for teacher computers to be defined in a large network and have open restrictions while student computers (or login accounts) have needed restrictions. There could even be a process for the student to engage in that would allow these restrictions to be lifted once the school’s liability was substantially reduced for that student

School districts would really much rather have unrestricted internet access. Unrestricted access is cheaper, there is less maintenance of equipment and fewer hardware/software compatibility issues. They are forced to restrict access because they have not been able to free themselves of the liability.

I believe that at an appropriate age or mentality a student’s actions should be able to be gauged. If it can be proven that the student intentionally abused the internet then the educational institution should not be liable. I think the best course of action for schools is to work towards getting students to an appropriate understanding of the dangers of the unrestricted internet usage thus removing the legal liability that fuels so much of the reasoning for blocking access to the internet. I believe that ISTE’s NETS standards lay out a really nice framework for moving in this direction.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wendy Drexler is a Genius

Wendy Drexler is a Genius!

This assignment is brilliant! Finally a practical application for blogs and constructivism! I love the way that the RSS Reader and the Blogs could be used to measure how much knowledge had been gained on a particular subject, not to mention the final project. This really fits in with where the chapter alludes that we are heading. People are connected and our schooling should reflect that and tap into that connection. All of our media outlets are going to the internet. It’s only a matter of time until televisions with ANSI tuners will not be necessary because all of your television will stream to your house. And eventually the Internet will be completely wireless and mobile broadband (controlled by the cell phone companies right now) will become the standard by which the internet is delivered to the user.

I see the mobile broadband as the future because until home internet accessibility is equitable for all K-12 students, teachers aren’t going to be able to take that next step with digital assignments(like the assignment in the video). This student obviously had internet at home and a good command of computer skills. Mobile Broadband is the only feasible option for a school district. There is no way that a school district is going to contract with a company using a cabled network (RoadRunner, Comcast). Having to install at each house would be too costly. Contracting with the cell phone companies on a student rate for the Mobile Broadband and the USB receiver makes so much more sense. No lines to run and cell service is already everywhere people are. Eventually all cell towers will support 3G and 4G technology so that data transport will be even quicker.

The next question will be getting modern computers into the hands of students and how does a school system support laptops/netbooks? And how do school districts avoid the courtroom? Does anyone have any ideas?

I don’t have an idea yet for making modern technology equitable and available to students, but I do have an idea for filtering the types of content students could get into using the school provided internet service. O.K. , The manufacturer of the Mobile Broadband USB receivers will be hard coded with a default gateway address that routes them through an approved web filter. We use “Websense” in our school district and it would just be a matter of upgrading the routers within the cell towers, a cost to the Cell companies that will probably be covered by Government Money.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Further defense of first post.

I came under fire recently for my first post. Some of the fire was deserved and have since apologized for my insensitive conjectures but I still defend my central premise. I am hesitant to judge the teacher's reluctance to use technology especially those who did not grow up with it. We're in the middle of a huge paradigm shift and until the entire population of teachers who aren't digital natives are replaced we will continue to see refusal to conform no matter how much support is provided. Even when they are replaced we will have a new stratum of teachers; from ones who are doing technology well to those who aren’t. Since I started my Ed. Tech masters I feel as though I have been inundated with an ideology that Web 2.0 is the technological/educational proverbial messiah. Regular ed. Classroom teachers have so much more that they are accountable for. I really think a lot of them would love to get involved with technology but there is only so much that they can do well during a day.

The reason for this is time. Teaching has changed from an Art to a Science. Proper lesson planning consumes so much more time than it used to. Teachers have to analyze data and create individualized instruction not just for the student's with IEP's but for everyone or at least small groups. With the new ESE inclusion model teachers have to plan for students that they never had to. The world of teaching has changed and there is more than just technology to learn right now.

With this eventually comes the part where teachers have the right to say "I need to go home." Teachers could be at work all night planning and preparing lessons, keeping up on their e-mail and parent correspondence. But there comes a time where you have to say "I have put in enough time today" I have a life beyond these walls and I have a right to it. Let me follow that up by saying that I a not defending the teachers who walk out the door every day 15 minutes early with recycled lesson plans for the past 30 years. Those teachers need fired. But there does come a time where you've done as much or above what a human should be expected to do during the day for the meager salary one receives.

Aaron Huestis

Searching Made Easy

In my experience with searches there isn’t much that I can’t find using Google. If something has been put in on the web Google can find it with the right refinements to the search criteria. So for me Google has almost always been my first and last stop. For graduate school, obviously I have had to use the library’s subscription resources but other than that I use Google for everything. In their advanced search I can limit my searches to specific file types. I use this feature within Google to find pre-made instructional Power Points. Teachers can then use these as a starting point and refine as necessary.

I manage my school’s website with input from teachers and especially the media specialist. Together we have made a wealth of supplemental information available to the students. The media center’s management software is run by Follett is online. Students in our district can access the database of available materials within their immediate media center and they can also browse the resources of any other school in the district. We have also provided links to the Public Library Coop so that students can browse the materials in their local library and the libraries in the county. Through Sunlink, students have the ability to browse other libraries in the state and use interlibrary loan. In conjunction with the selection of media we use Accelerated Reader and the link for using the home test database is also posted for parents and students.

For research purposes we have posted links to all of our districts subscription services. We provide the student’s access to InfoTrack, World Book, Searchasaurus, and Ebscohost. Students also have a link to the Florida Library Association’s “Ask A Librarian”. A new service being offered is NetTrekker. NetTrekker is a safe search engine for our younger students who don’t necessarily have to browse through an abyss of scholarly articles to find information about Christopher Columbus, Sacajawea and Ohio’s major industries.

Teachers have links as well. For our reading teachers we have links to TumbleBooks, a website where students can have popular stories read to them. Teachingbooks is a wealth of instructional books for any subject. They have over 27,000 titles.
The district website has links to many of these sources plus many others.

The district site provides a link to Compass Odyssey, an online learning management software for individualized instruction. Teachers can assign individualized homework to their students and students can complete these computer based lessons in school or at home on their own time. Students also have access to their blackboard classes through the district website. The district website provides links and resources for students with special needs. My favorite resource is Natural Reader. Natural Reader will read any digital text from a website or a word processing document. Any text that can by copied and pasted into natural reader will be read. I like to use it to listen to scholarly articles or the sports page. The digitized voice is free but the upgrade to human sounding voice costs money.

The district website also houses our district curriculum maps. These maps have the standard, LFS(Learning Focused Strategy), links to enrichment activities, corresponding videos and graphic organizers. The maps are the life blood for our teachers. They guide our instruction and because of our student mobility rate they attempt to keep all schools on the same instructional page to prevent as many disruptions in student learning as possible.

FLDOE website has links tailored specifically to federal and state opportunities. There are links to bullying, drug and gang awareness. The site also explains parent/guardian rights as well as state/federal funded initiatives to promote learning, equity and advancement for under-represented populations.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Are we doing what's best for students....

I have been wrestling with this question for the past 3 years when I stepped into an administrative role. But this is a completely loaded question that is decieiving. Dr McLeod doesn't really want to answer this question with anything but technology and that is not the only answer. Technology has it's place. The world has changed and living in denial or refusal to participate won't get us to the answer but neither will believing that technology is the only answer.

I will be the last to defend lazy teachers in fact I was in support of portions of SB6 last year, but the assumption of the video is that teachers who don't use technology are the problem with education. This thinking makes me question Dr. McLeod's credentials. Of course kids like using twitter and facebook, it keeps them connected to their peers so they can stay abreast of all the important gossip that helps them fit in. When I was in high school I loved instant messanger for the same reason but I wasn't using it for anything meaningful and if I would have had to I wouldn't have liked it so much.

Does Dr. McLeod really have education in mind when he unleashed this question/video? Or does he just want to see his stock soar becuase he happens to sit on a board for one of the companies that has made their billions through promising to have the silver bullet for education?

So why do teachers tend to do what is convenient for them. I don't think it's because they don't want to be good teachers. Perhaps its because the job itself is too big and requires too much. Why don't students read every bit of required reading? It's because we've learned that we don't have to in order to pass. Perhaps teachers really aren't doing anything well because their is only time to do everything just a little bit right. Characters in the movies like Freedom Writers and Dangerous Minds are glorified in our field because of their dedication. Let us not forget that the main character's dedication in Freedom Writers destroyed her marriage.

On a philosophical level, perhaps the path of least resistence is human nature? Why do we have cart returns at the grocery store? Is walking it back up to the store too much for us?

The job is too big and miopic thinking displayed by Dr. Mcleod and others like him won't truly answer his loaded question.