Professional Learning Network

Throughout my time at KSU and student teaching, I have come to know many elite educators and other people who have helped shape who I am as an educator. These people have taught me, challenged me, and are future connections for me as well. As I look at my current PLN, I notice how small it is in comparison to others who have been in the field longer. The truth is, this PLN will probably shrink before it starts growing again. There will be some people from KSU who I may never interact with again, but there will also be people who will continue to offer me advice and aid as I continue my career in education. Then, as I go throughout my career, I will meet so many other people who will become a part of my PLN permanently and some temporarily.

As I move forward, it is important that I take a personal role in building my PLN. This means making lasting relationships with professionals who can help direct, aid, and influence both my career and the strategies I take into my classroom. It also means that I will become a part of their PLN as well. This means that I have a responsibility to grow, experiment, and research as an educator in order to build my education and talent/skills as a teacher within my classroom and throughout the education community.

While reading about PLNs this week and creating my first ever PLN concept map (posted above), I have learned about the connections to be made online to expand my PLN. Throughout this learning experience, I have utilized Teacher Pay Teachers to an unnerving extent (in a great way). I found it to be an amazing online resource of inspiration, aid, and advice. Now, I have learned there is even more online connections for educators to turn to in order to expand their knowledge, skills, and the network.

It is my goal to start becoming engaged in these online communities. I want to start small and develop a Twitter that follows and interacts with other educators who are active on social media. While the online networks are absolutely amazing, I also want to make it a priority to expand my network in the county and state I am in. In an article I read this week, an educator spoke about not being social with the colleagues in their own school. That is such a sad thing to me. There are so so many educators surrounding us in our schools every single day who can teach us something, inspire us, or help us. Why would you not want to take advantage of that? I know there will be a few teachers who will not be a good influence or create negativity, but that does not mean every educator is like that. I am not the most social person in the world; however, I believe it is essential for us to get out of shells for a minute and interact with our colleagues for the benefit of our own PLN and for the benefit of the students.

As I end this post, I encourage all teachers to create your PLN and be an active participant in making it expand. I used Google Draw to compose my PLN map, then I screen shot it and saved it as a picture. I tried several online tools to make my PLN, but they were all pretty difficult to navigate; where as, Google Draw was simple to use and create.

Advice For Teachers:

  • Create your current PLN now.
  • Actively participate in expanding your PLN and being an active member of other people’s network (Twitter, your school, etc.).
  • Ask other teachers about their PLN.
  • Make lasting connections and be purposeful in your interactions.
  • Ask for advice and help as often as you need (and preferably…before you need it).

Teaching in a VR World

When I first went to order the Google CardBoard VR on Amazon, I was not happy about spending $15 on cardboard glasses. Now that I have tried them out, I realize this is not, repeat NOT, $15 on cardboard glasses. It is really a priceless experience that I am so very excited to tell you about and discuss a few ways this technology can be incorporated in our classes and the benefits for our students. First, let me say, I have only been tinkering with this tool for a few days. There are so many different apps and tools that can go along with this device as well, and we will discuss those throughout this post.

As I stated above, the technology we are going to be looking at and analyzing today is Google Cardboard. It is a tool that allows you to experience and participate in Virtual Reality. The picture at the top of this post is what the tool looks like. It is essentially virtual glasses that are made from really strong cardboard. (I have dropped mine three times already, and it still works. YAY!) The instructions hinders against prolonged usage, and I concur. I have about about a ten minute window before I start feeling dizzy or unbalanced and my perfect vision seems off. I definitely suggest following the makers advice on limiting time usage.

The cardboard app itself is limited, and you have to download more apps for further exploration or usage which really hinders what you can do when you have limited storage space on your phone. The visuals are not perfect either in the tour mode. Most are very animated rather than real life, but I believe the visuals will only get better in the future. I don’t want you to think this experience is not good though because it is. When I put the glasses up to my honey and our room mate for the first time, they both teared up (they both say the stars and northern lights). Even though, these were not completely realistic, it certainly did not take away from the experience of being in that moment. Now, thanks to youtube, you can access real or more animated virtual experiences. I literally got to go to the edge of the world before we get to space. It was so incredible. There are videos that take students and even you on adventures, tours, or just experiences into new places or explorations.

When using YouTube (and some other apps as well but I digress), you can choose to watch it on your phone or in 3D through the cardboard VR goggles. Here are screen shot pictures of my phone from the basic phone view versus using the VR goggles mode.

Basic view from Phone.
This is what a screen shot looks like in VR Cardboard mode. This helps make the scene into 3D through the goggles.
In order to view in 3D/VR mode, make sure you click on the goggles button in the lower righthand side of the screen.

Either way you choose to watch, you are able to view in 360 degrees around you unless otherwise stated in the video. In the readings I have been conducting this week, specifically in the article Affordances of Mobile Virtual Reality and Their Role in Learning and Teaching, I have come to learn the importance in the VR Goggles. This tool allows our brains to experience the things we see as if we were actually there. It takes away all other distractions and puts us (and our students) in the moment.

There are also other apps that can take you on a real life exploration of places such as Street View, Discovery Channel, and exploring places like Abby Road. These can give students an insight to places, events, and things they have never experienced before. In my school, most of our students rarely leave the state much less the country. It is amazing that we now have the technology to let the view different areas of the world. Also, think about the places where books take place; now we can let our students explore those places in a way to interact with the text even more. Google expedition, as noted in the article Affordances of Mobile Virtual Reality and Their Role in Learning and Teaching, can be a tool to be used to take virtual field trips. As noted in the article, this is an excellent way to get students to see places and things that aren’t always accessible for them. As a teacher in a Title 1 school, this tool is essential for allowing my students to take part in getting to know the world around them. In an ideal world, it would be amazing if my students could actually go visit certain places, but virtual reality helps us bring those places and experiences to them.

My favorite aspect of the Cardboard VR tool is the VR Cinema. Of course there are other tool similar to this one, but this tool allows you to turn videos and audio into VR experiences. It was so incredible to be able to watch a video I took a while ago and it was like I was right there! A few of my colleagues and I have been discussing including ethnographies in our classrooms to help students understand different cultures. Imagine being able to record your experience with a culture or even your own culture and being able to bring that back for others to experience like they were there too. Obviously the wheels are turning in my head to start using this technology in my classroom.

Advice For Teachers:

  • Take plenty of time to explore this tool for yourself.
  • Look up videos and materials that can be combined together.
  • Allow students to create their own VR video (it could be used to connect to a reading or writing assignment.

Parallel Composition

For this blog post, I am going to discuss utilizing parallel composition in the classroom. Kevin Leander composed a chapter entitled Composing with Old and New Media: Toward a Parallel Pedagogy for a text book for digital literacies. In this chapter, Leander defines parallel pedagogy as “a way of describing how old and new literacy practices, including print texts and visual texts, may be fruitfully taught side by side rather than the ‘old’ being a precursor to the new or being replaced by it.” Essentially, I am looking at ways we can use technology and digital media with traditional texts in our classrooms.

For this post, I created my own parallel composition product that I could use as a model for my students to explain the assignment to them and as an example for what I expect. At the top of this blog, there is a picture. This picture is actually a book cover that I created using SparkAdobe.com. This tool allows you to create book covers or other publications like news letters, flyers, magazine articles, etc. I decided to create a book cover for the novel Night. There were several different avenues I could have taken for this product, but I wanted to do something creative yet simple (but not too simple). I can only imagine you might be asking, how does this reflect parallel composing/parallel pedagogy? (I will come back to this question).

Spark Adobe was the best technology to use for this product because it was very simple to navigate. It was simple but not “easy” if you know what I mean. Sometimes students try to find the easiest modes so they don’t have to try as hard. The great part about this assignment is the students still have to try. They have to put in their own creativity and their own knowledge and meaning from the text in order to create their own product. (I will explain the assignment a little later in this post – stay with me).

Spark Adobe gave me creative freedom with a structure, which is always something I look for in digital tools and platforms. I want to be able to add in my own vision, but it helps to have some support along the way. Some people may see the structure constraints as a negative. I want you to think about your students here. When they are working with new digital tools or creating a new product for an assignment, I believe it helps them to have some structural constraints to help them stay focused and not get overwhelmed. Throughout making the product, Spark Adobe offers different variations of your layout to make it look more visually appealing. This happened to me during my process, and I wound up changing some of the pictures and adding in quotes simply because their suggestions opened up some different creative designs in my head. Now, I definitely believe there are so many other tools and products that can be used for this assignment, and I will be listing those at the end of this blog.

I will never forget my favorite project from high school. My freshman lit teacher (Ms. Bates) had us read Romeo and Juliet. It was an okay story at the time, and even for us way back then, Shakespeare was boring (Now that I am older, I have more appreciation for Shakespeare than I did then). She shook things up. Throughout the reading, she had us write down song lyrics that we were reminded of at different points in the text (I think she thought this would help us with comprehension – which I believe now it did). At the end of this reading unit, we were directed to make a soundtrack for Romeo and Juliet. We even had to design the CD jacket as well. This was the first time (and sadly one of the very few times) we were working with different modes in the classroom to understand, navigate, and work through a text. That was almost fifteen years ago. There are so many options and technology at our fingertips now that parallel pedagogy should be a common practice in our classrooms.

Back to the question “how does this [product] reflect parallel composing/parallel pedagogy?” First, it would be better to understand once I tell you how I would use this in the classroom. Being inspired by Ms. Bates, I asked myself “what would help my students work best through comprehending a text?” I thought about a digital book report, but then I took it a little more broader. I want them to create a digital product of the book. This could be an online book review, book cover, soundtrack, etc. I decided to create the book cover as an example. This assignment does two things: 1) allows the students to work with the text and work with digital media and technology in order to create a product that reflects their understanding and meanings of the text, 2) this assignment incorporates the remediation stance discussed by Kevin Leander: using both text and digital media as a central position to learning and not a battle of resistance between the old and the new.

Parallel Pedagogy can seem complicated, but it really isn’t. There are so many simple yet fun ways to work this in our classroom. One that I love doing is having students create a Tweet that a character from the book would write. They have to stay in the 140 character limit and include at least one hashtag. It is very fun and gets students excited. Parallel Pedagogy and Composition can also aid us in helping students reach the standards. Storyboard That is an excellent way to incorporate both reading and writing standards in a lesson/activity. A sample activity could be: students read a short story or novel. Have them choose their favorite scene and create a story board. Allow them to draft their scenes first on paper, then let them move on to putting it together using Story Board That. This allows students to show their understanding of plot, themes, characters, etc. while also building on their writing as well. As this post is coming to a close, I have to ask: Why is parallel composing/pedagogy important in today’s classrooms? Essentially, we are living in the digital time. It is important to find the balance between traditional texts and writing with the newer modes of texts and writing.

Advice For Teachers:

  • Do not limit yourself: the idea of Parallel Pedagogy may seem like you have to make grand connections or use complicated tools. NO! This is about teaching new and old literacies side by side. For example: Showing clips of Antigone while reading the text, having students create their own digital products after a reading or writing assignment. See a great example on this blog post (watch the video on the blog post).
  • Think of creative compositions you would want to do.
  • Think about your students’ interests.
  • Check out Teacher Pay Teachers for some really interesting ideas that integrate Parallel Pedagogy.
  • Other example projects students could do: digital presentation (prezi, Sway, etc.), Digital writing (blog, vlog, article writing, critical writing, etc.), Character Tweet or Book Review Tweet, Music Video, create their own Movie scene, video commercial, the possibilities are endless. Google is your best friend here. Search what other teachers are doing and you will be surprised at how quickly ideas and modifications pop up in your head.

Multimodal Argumentation

As I started creating my product for this post, it quickly evolved into what may seem to be a political argumentation. I would like to first state that I have no intent for this to be political, and if these comments reflect any political belief, that is not my intention. The comments, pictures, and audio are all actual events, words, etc. that happened (although the words on the last frame are indeed summarized but are nevertheless based on actual words that have been said directly to me or around me and are the inspiration for this multimodal argumentation seeing as how there were little children around – but I digress). You can access my video here. With all of that being said, this post is going to focus on the use of multimodal argumentation in the classroom and the three elements from the Toulon Model of Argumentation: claim, evidence, and warrant.

For this product I used several different tools to help me create this video. All of the pictures were found through Google Images, and the audio was recorded from an excerpt from a YouTube clip you can watch in full here. I added, edited/adjusted, and inserted text using Microsoft PowerPoint. Once I was finished adding in timers and transitions, I used Google Chrome’s Sreencast-O-Matic to record the slideshow into a short video. Finally, I uploaded the video to my Google Drive to share with y’all. (Whew! That was a long process, but I am very pleased with the outcome.)

PowerPoint allowed me to apply my pictures and text upon one another to create a layered photo that contained a direct meaning. Although there are some limitations to the editing abilities within PowerPoint, there were plenty of options that allowed me to incorporate various modes within this product. This product was constructed in layers and ultimately turned into a video; however, the slideshow itself could have been the multimodal argument finished product, but I felt it would look better as a video that played for the audience.

Using a screen casting tool gave me the ability to record this PowerPoint. You may have seen teachers record themselves presenting their Presentations to their students before for online classes or material that students should watch independently. I basically did the same thing except I did not speak. I let the slideshow play and it became a short video. One constraint that was difficult to maneuver around was the audio. If I turned off the narration, then the screencast would not record ANY of the audio even from the clip embedded in the slideshow, and if I had the narration turned on, then I (and the cats and other humans) had to be silent or it would be picked up on the recording (needless to say, it took us several recordings to get it without any interference). Even with that one hick-up, the process went really quickly and smoothly.

Toulmin’s Model of Argumentation contains three elements: claim, evidence, and warrant. The claim is a conclusion that must have evidence. The evidence is a fact that is the foundation of the claim. The warrant explains why the evidence supports the claim (shows the progression from the evidence to the claim). If you look at my product, what would you say my claim is? My evidence? My warrant? Let me tell you. My claim is that children are learning from us. My evidence is they hear and see the things we say. My warrant is we need to think about what we say and do because the children are learning from what they see and hear from us and how we treat others.

My warrant is probably accepted by most individuals (although there are some people who may not care), but I definitely think that the words and examples I chose to include are not accepted or agreeable with all cultures even here in the United States. These are audio, pictures, and words that I chose to include because of a personal experience. When creating a multimodal argumentation, I think it is important to create something you believe in because it can give the students more creative freedom to express themselves. (Although, it would be really cool to have them do the opposite viewpoint of what they choose – if applicable – to help them see different sides – note: this would be good for a debate or relating to a story).

This would also be a great tool to use in pairing with an argumentative essay. The students can create a multimodal argumentation over their topic in their paper and present/show that to the class. The tools that I used are easy to navigate, but there are also other tools and product styles students can choose to use/design. They can make a poster/picture (with text and pictures – show them examples from culture jamming); create a video like I did; make a slide show through PowerPoint, SWAY, or an on line tool; or they can make a voice over with images or a video. I found PowerPoint to be a great tool to combine different modes that would all express my argument in one place.

Advice for teachers:

  • Have students plan out their argument first, then plan out their vision of their product in order to access which technology would best help them.
  • The tools used to create my product are usually available on school computers and easy to learn and navigate quickly (most students have worked with PowerPoint before).
  • Try to let students have creative freedom.

It’s the Remix to Cognition

When I hear the word remix, I immediately think about music. Music is constantly being remixed to change the song around, make the beat different, adding parts of lyrics to a new song, etc. The possibilities are endless. This week I came to understand that remix is happening all around me. It is not just the music I hear daily, but it is on my Television, social media, billboards, and everywhere else I can imagine. In this post, we will be looking at what constitutes as remix and how we can use it in the classroom for cognitive, creative, and interactive processing with the students.

The technology I used for my product (which is the meme posted at the top of this blog post) was memgenerator.net. I chose to save the meme as an image on my computer and upload it to this blog post, but you can also share the meme through the site as well. I found that saving the meme as a picture allowed me to upload it anywhere without having to go through a social media sight. However, I would like to point out that the meme can be shared with almost 200 sites or apps from that website making it pretty transferable between databases. These tools are simple to use for both adults and students.

There are so many options out there to use for a remix: meme generators, powerpoint, photoshop, poster maker sites (bighugelabs.com, obamapostermaker.com), voiceovers with pictures, the options are literally endless. So, why did I choose to use memegenerator.com and create a meme? I am so glad you asked. Well, the first reason I chose it was the simplicity of the technology. It took me very little time to be able to navigate the site and build my meme. The site allowed me to choose a picture they already had or I could upload my own. I chose to use one of their options which leads me to my second reason for choosing to use this technology.

With this technology, I was able to incorporate a picture that most people are associated with. Even if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones (which you should really see), you have at least seen some variation of this meme floating around your social media. This technology allows me to find current pictures to remix. This is important when having our students in mind. Sometimes, when we tell our students to go find an image to create a remix with, they may get overwhelmed not knowing what image they should look for. This technology gives them the option of choosing from these popular and socially recognized pictures or choosing their own. The site also gives me the space and tools to add in the text right there, so I do not have to go anywhere else to do that.

Now, this technology is limited. I cannot ad voice or stream together more than one picture unless I create my own collage, save it as a picture, and upload it as a new image (which is a lot of work). This limitation is both a positive and a negative when using this site. It is a negative because you are creatively limited, but it is a positive because it makes the technology easy to navigate and to create with. The meme generator technology allowed me to take a picture and add my own text to the image in order to give it new meaning, and it would be a simple tool to have students use in the classroom to create their own remix.

How is remix beneficial in the classroom? Well, it can be used to allow students to work with a text through expressing their own cognitive understanding in an interactive manner. Jennifer S. Dail and Nick Thompson wrote Talking Back: Remix as a Tool to Help Students Exercise Authority when Making Meaning. In this article, they discuss the use of remix in the classroom to help students in their cognitive process. It is important to note that remix must be explained to the students as Dail and Thompson state in their article. Students must know that “remix is not just using other people’s work, but it is also creating new content to further transform meaning” (Dail and Thompson, 39).

Remix is the process of taking what someone else has already created and tweaking it or adding and/or subtracting to it to give it a new meaning. Let’s take a look at the product I made for this post. We have the picture of Ned Stark from Game of Thrones. The original meme said “Brace Yourself, Winter is Coming.” This is a line from Game of Thrones that Ned Stark says. Now, the meme is used on social media as a way to say that actual winter is coming. This meme has been remixed all over social media, and the picture still obtains part of its original meaning. Most people still use the first line “brace yourself” and then add in their own text to give it new meaning (but the old meaning is never really gone, we just change the words which is an example of the double exposure within this picture). I added in “football season is coming.” In my house, football season is a busy time for us. My honey is a high school football coach, our godson plays football, and we are devoted college football fans (so Saturdays are always taken). Then, there is also our fantasy football league which takes us into NFL. Needless to say, we are a football loving family in this house, and that time of the year keeps us excitingly busy.

Using remix in the classroom allows the students to work with a technology to create a product that shows their ability to find meaning in a text. It can be used as part of their cognitive process. It also gives them a chance to work with more technology. You do not have to limit your students to just the meme generator. Their are a plethora of ways they can remix. This process gives students creative freedom and tie in their own interests or pop culture references to the text. This can also make the text more interesting and broadens their scope of cognition through working toward making their own meaning.

Advice For Teachers:

  • Make sure students understand Remix – there should be a new meaning even with double exposure in mind. (Can we really ever be rid of double exposure?)
  • Give students creative freedom, but also guidelines and examples to help get them started.
  • Discuss the Remix Products – this will help you assess which students meanings/understandings might be “off” and how all the students are viewing the work (remember our own (and our students’) experiences can interfere with the interpretation.
  • This gives us a great way to learn about our students and how they are cognitively interacting and understanding a specific text.

Modes of Interpretation

Welcome back! I am really excited about this post, so let’s get started. I have created a video for you to see please click here for access. In the video I discuss how textual analysis and remediation work together, what it can look like in the classroom, and how I have used it in my classroom before (I have attached the texts and chosen other medium to this post for you to see). In this post, I am going to discuss the choices, process, and topic that all lead to the creation of my product (the video). I will also be drawing on Jones and Hafner, Understanding Digital Literacies, and the use of multimodality both in the classroom and with my product. (Note: in the video I mention an example of textual analysis and remediation that worked in my class. The picture set with this post is the art I used to remediate the texts found here entitled “what a piece of work is man.” This was designed as an introduction lesson to Antigone.)

For this product, I used Photo Booth on my Mac (which I had never used or even tinkered with until today – truth! I usually use an online tool, but there are a ton of free video tools online as well), and I uploaded it to my Google Drive in order to share it with you. In order to create a video, be sure to have a quiet work space (no background noise) to help your viewers be able to hear you. The Photo Booth app was already downloaded on my Mac, but you can also download it from an apple App Store. For those of you who are using a PC, do not fret. There are several free video tools you can download and I am going to list some right here for you:

  • Animoto
  • Camstudio
  • Soapbox
  • Clipchamp
  • Screencast-O-Matic (yes, you can use it just to record yourself and not the screen)

I know what you are thinking “a video…isn’t that rather simplistic?” First off, there is NOTHING simplistic about making a video. Your computer usually starts running slow so your video starts skipping, you have to use the bathroom, a cat gets in the way and absolutely will not move (actually happened during my first recording), etc. The complications are infinite. You also have to learn how to work the tool in order to get your video made. If your video is kept online, then you have to figure out how to share it, and if your video was made in an app on your computer, then you have to get it to a database that you can share it from. Videos can also be very intricate. I am still practicing using video programs and tools, but there are ways to upload images and piece other videos together to create a unique work. I kept this product pretty simple. The task was to think about a topic (textual analysis and remediation) and discuss it with you and my own take on the topic (textual analysis and remediation). I believe I could do that best by talking to you myself, and luckily I had a tool on my computer to help me do just that.

This tool allowed me to video for as long as I need to (luckily for you it was only 6 minutes). Now, if you choose to use a different video tool, then you may have some time constraints. Photo booth also affords me the option to put filters over my face and in the background, but for this video I did not choose to do that. I thought it would be distracting. When we make videos for our students, we should keep in mind when is a good time and when is a bad time to use those special features. Will it distract my student from any important information they need to know right now? That is usually the main question I ask myself. This app can only be downloaded to Apple Products which is great for an Apple user like myself but not so great for the sad PC users. It can also make it difficult to share with others which is one reason I needed to upload it to Google Drive.

It was interesting how the topic for my product and the Jones and Hafner reading (Chapter Four in Understanding Digital Literacies) went so well together. Jones and Hafner discuss the importances and intricacies of using and implementing multimodal practices in the classroom. Text analysis with remediation is an excellent way to work in a multimodal text. Jones and Hafner write, “Images tend to have a more direct effect, often provoking an immediate emotional reaction from viewers” (52). This quote aligns perfectly with what I stated in my video. The students are able to see what their teacher or peers are seeing by being able see (or hear) a visual (or hear an audio) that allows to have insight and better understand someone else’s take.

Jones and Hafner also discuss the usage of video blogging as a source of multimodal content. (Multimodal=the combination of multiple modes – aural, visual, verbal, textual.) Now, I am not saying this video should be classified as a video blog; however, it could be used for it. I use myvoice to discuss a topic rather than writing about it. Jones and Hefner state, “In terms of multimodal content, digital stories and video blogs can vary from simple creations to semi-professional movie-like productions” (58). What can we take away from this quote? Well let’s look back at my video for a minute. (Let us pretend it is part of a video blog). It is a simple video discussing a topic for an audience online. It is also incorporates aural and visual processing for the audience which does make the product multimodal.

Why is multimodality important? Let’s refer back to Richard Mayer, the father of the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, who said people learn more deeply from words and pictures than just from words alone. His theory encompasses this belief that students learn will develop a deeper understanding of given information when dual-processing is in work. The practice of incorporating multimodal content and text in our classes to help students understand and interact with new information will be beneficial because of the multimodal processing that is happening. When we use multimodal content, a video for instance (one much more engaging than mine of course – we are talking about keeping middle and high school students focused on the content here), we are encompassing practices that (at least this is my goal) promote interaction and involvement from our students.

What other ways would you, as a teacher, encompass multimodality into your classroom with content and texts?

Screencast-O-Matic: An Analysis of Affordances and Constraints

For my product, I am analyzing two digital tools (YouTube and Google Drive) that can be used in for educational purposes in our classroom. I will look at the affordances and constraints found within both of these digital tools. I will be looking at the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning as it intertwines with Cognitive Load Theory and being mindful of both theories when utilizing YouTube. When discussing Google Drive, I will be reflecting on the principals of Vygotski’s Collaborative Learning Theory. These theories help navigate and discuss the affordances and constraints found within these digital tools. You can access the screencast here. In this post I will discuss the process of using Screencast-O-Matic for this product and a brief analysis of the constraints, affordances, and uses of this technology in the classroom.

My product is made using Screencast -O-Matic (a combination of screen recorder and video editor) through Google Chrome. This tool gives you the option of recording the screen, yourself, or both. Screencast-O-Matic can be used to make recordings for students or create how-to videos (like teaching your students how to set up a gmail account). The Screencast-O-Matic is accessible for both Macs and PCs, but it does take some time to download (especially if you have to download Google Chrome first – Mac users this is you) so plan accordingly. Once you have it, it gets easier to use each time. This tool is worth using because of the link to Google, accessibility, easy to use, and it is easy to share your videos with others. Within the product, I focus on two other digital tools: YouTube and Google Drive, and I discuss and analyze their constraints and affordances within the classroom.

Screencast-O-Matic was the best tool to use for this product because it allowed me to show you the tools, navigate the tools a little with you, and use my voice to discuss and analyze the tools with you. Figuring out which tool to use was not an easy task, but it is important to find tools that have a purpose in being used. This products takes us on a tour of two digital tools and analyzing the affordance and constraints within each of them that can be beneficial or cause trouble in using it for educational purposes. In the video, I mention that YouTube can be a distraction (with kids being on it in class-which they shouldn’t be but it does happen). This tool that is being used in the classroom for educational purposes can also be used to distract students – that is a reality we have using technology in our classes, but the benefits definitely outlay the “what-ifs.”

Screencast-O-Matic affords me to be able to talk, show, and give examples during my presentation. Screencast-O-Matic can also let you show yourself to your viewers which provides a personal and social touch even when discussing more academic materials. Some more affordances of this tool is its ability to help one communicate clearly with others through recordings and editing the video in order to make it better quality. During my video, I walk you through (show you some aspects of) each tool giving an overview of the constraints and affordances; then, I use theories to help analyze these affordances and constraints and how the tool can be used in the classroom.

Some constraints are that you are only able to see what is on the screen and you cannot change from little you in the corner to bigger you in the center during the video (mine wouldn’t show me at all for some reason). So, if I have a good bit to say, the students may just be staring at the screen for too long and losing interest. If you notice, on the YouTube part of the video, there was little navigation and mainly me talking. It would have been better if I could have made myself full screen when I was not navigating a page in order to help keep attention on me rather than a screen that isn’t doing anything. Another constraint is the 15min max time. This is a good and bad thing. Bad-you have a lot to say and you get cut off. Good-the students have a limited capacity of information they can take in and actually retain in a class. This max time helps us as teachers to be mindful of this and make sure our information is the vital parts.

In this past weeks readings of Jones and Hafner, Understanding Digital Literacies, I came across the term cultural tools. My initial thought was that I had never thought about the tools we use as being a part of our culture, but they most definitely are. Think about the silver ware we use versus the utensils being used by other people in countries all over the world. Some may use the same but others have their own tools. After reading through the text, my next thought was the establishment of technology as cultural tools as well. These tools are an “extension of ourselves.” Whether we are using Screencast-O-Matic, YouTube, Google Drive, or any other technology, it is a cultural tool that helps us do something we couldn’t do or would have to do differently without it. Jones and Hafner wrote, “The ability to use such tools, according to Vygotsky, is the hallmark of human consciousness.” This means that these cultural tools make us smarter because ignorer to use them, we have to learn how to navigate them first, and that is what we are doing here.

Using the Screencast-O-Matic technology in the classroom gives us the opportunity to change the location of our classes if need be. Imagine no more make-up snow days! This tool allows us to go about our day (as long as the power lines cooperate) and continue our lessons from the computer. Utilizing this tool for an assignment is also a good way to include the technology in the classroom. Jones and Hafner discuss digital literacies and how literacy is both cognitive and social. Thus, digital literacy is the same. It is great being able to know the technical terms and navigation of a digital too, but digital literacy is achieved through making a effort to utilize the tools in the social world. Allowing students to use Screen-O-Matic (or YouTube or Google Drive) invites them to participate in the social engagement and developing digital literacies.

Making a screencast can help students master the material. A fun project could be assigning students to create a screencast that shows them explaining a process or material to their peers in a creative way. Let them choose how they will display the information on their screen, but they will be teaching it to the class. This provides the students with more time with the material, fosters learner independence, and encourages critical thinking. A final positive take away: presentations are done online through Screencast-O-Matic which helps save time in class. One advice I would have for teachers using this method (Screencast-O-Matic as the presentation): be sure to provide feedback to their presentation and also think about creating an area where other students have to make comments or notes on the presentations as well.

What ways would you use Screencast-O-Matic in your class?

Goals for Using Technology

Last post I mentioned that incorporating technology into the classroom is essentially the “grand purpose” of what we are moving towards. It doesn’t have to be some elaborate, difficult endeavor (although, trust me, there will be some of those too). This is an adventure, and essentially, we are learning how to navigate the digital media and technology to use it to create products that can be introduced in the classroom to engage in lessons or to have students use the platform to create their own product that aids them in engaging with the new material.

Since we are just starting out here, I want to share with you my goals for the technology and digital media I use in my classroom. If you notice, I have included a collage in this post. I created this collage (I used collage wizard to create my collage) to represent my goals and purposes for the technology and digital media that I intend on using in the classroom. (Side note: a collage is an easy and fun way to get students engaged in a subject or explore rigorous content. There are a wide range of free online platforms and apps that can be used. Students can create a collage to discuss a topic from a novel or poem, or they can create a collage that represents their own writing. But I digress.)

I have four goals for incorporating technology and digital media in my classes. 1. I want to use a plethora of technology that supports different learning styles. One great thing about many of the platforms out there is they provide students a variety of ways to create their product (they can talk, record, draw, take picture, write, etc.) Now, not all technology and digital media is going to be as versatile. Some technology is going to be very specific, and that’s okay because the goal here is to bring in different types of technology and digital media in order to make sure I am providing materials that complement all of the different learners I have in my classes. 2. The technology should help incorporate my students interests and make the learning process fun. We all know not every activity or lesson is going to be fun for each student, but it is my hope that with this technology the students are able to have as much fun as possible and lets the students incorporate their own interests as well.

3. The technology and digital media will allow the students to be a part of the world outside of their city limits. I am currently working at an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School, and being culturally aware and inclusive is a focus in each class. Most of the students in my classes haven’t travelled any father than one state over, so I want them to be able to access the world. (I know that sounds like one of those “grand” goals, but technology and digital media can truly connect us to the whole world through education, creation, and interaction.) 4. This last goal is probably the most important to me. The technology and digital media should aid in the students education. I am not talking about ONLY academic education. The technology and digital media can be used to educate them socially, creatively, personally, culturally, etc. One amazing thing able technology is there are not that many barriers. If you can’t find what you are looking for on one platform or software, there are more just waiting to be explored and might just be the answer to what you seek.

I lied. I have a fifth goal. The technology and digital media (for the most part) should be easily accessible. I do not mean that it should be easy for students to learn and navigate (although that is not a bad idea). I mean that I want my students to be able to have access to it. I do not want them to have to pay for it themselves. I work at a school where over 70 percent of the student population is living below the poverty line. We are so lucky to be living in a time with technology and digital media at our fingertips, and as educators, it should be a priority to make sure that each student will be able to have access to the media or technology we assign them. There are so many free platforms out there and softwares that our county and school provides that are just waiting for us to take advantage of and bring into our classrooms, and that is exactly what I intend on doing.

Introductions and Grand Purposes

This is it. The first post. Let me first welcome you to the page…WELCOME! My name is Charlie. I have created a product to introduce myself to you, and you can watch it here. I hope you can get a better insight to me and learn a little bit about who I am. Sometimes, when I think about incorporating technology into the classroom, I freak myself out with the pressure of a huge, elaborate project. After all, shouldn’t technology have a grand purpose? What I seem to forget is that technology and digital media can be used in a wide range of activities, and it can be easier to start small. Besides, implementing technology into the classroom in a variety of ways should be the grand purpose in and of itself.

It can be time consuming and difficult at times learning how to navigate a new platform or how to use a new tool/software, but once we learn, the benefits out way the initial demands. One small way to insert technology in the classroom on the first dat is by creating an introduction using a digital platform. It is fun, creative, and the students get a visual insight to you. Instead of merely telling the students about yourself, try creating a simple slide show to go along with it (that is a small and simple use of technology that goes a long way). This gives them more insight to us as people and lets us connect with them. I chose to create an Animoto for my introduction. This platform can also be used with the students as well. They can create a digital book report, introduce themselves to the class, give a presentation, the ideas are endless.