Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Curriculum 21

After our Ridiculous Innovation workshop, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Marie Alcock. She presented effective and practical leadership strategies for building teams and discussed how technology can support these efforts. Check out the site Curriculum 21 @ Our RI keynote speaker's tetrad has a practical application as we move to adopt and innovate with technology and fits right in with Dr. Alcock's suggestions. This is another opportunity to grow your PLN.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Audacity + Podcast = Student Narrated Field Trip

I am a high school science teacher and wanted to take my Astronomy class to downtown KC to walk the scale model of the solar system located starting at 13th Street and Baltimore stretching to Union Station.  Before the field trip, each student was assigned a planet or object/aspect of the solar system to research. They then recorded a 2-3 minute podcast (using Audacity) detailing some teacher specified information and other information they thought was interesting.  I compiled all the individual files in the order in which they would walk the scale model and had them download the completed podcast to mp3 players or iPods.  Audacity is easy to use and allowed me to create a transition between segments that could just be copied and pasted where needed. At each location along the model, students stopped and listened to their classmate's explanation - lots more engaging than listening to me! We all learned something new about the solar system, were entertained by even the quiet students :), and had a productive and informative field trip.  I can imagine this approach working for a museum trip, a nature trail walk, etc. 


We used Audacity in 5th Grade to create a podcast for our unit on the colonization of America.  The students wrote a first-hand account of what it would have been like to leave England for the New World.  They researched the reasons people left, how they got here, and what they discovered when they arrived.  They had to use historical information, as well as the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that people would have had as they embarked on this journey.  They then recorded their "stories," and added sound effects (ocean waves, storms, etc.).  All of the podcasts were then uploaded to a Wiki page so that they could listen to each others' podcasts, and parents could listen as well.
I used Edmodo this past year with a several groups of students, including a group of students who were working on independent, differentiated projects and it was a great way for them to check in and reflect upon their learning each day. They could also see what their classmates were doing and comment. The Facebook like format is more appealing than some of the other educational tools for kids but it is still, at the end of the day, an "educational tool," not a place where kids will go to "hangout" where authentic conversations could happen. That's what I am trying to figure out -- how to reach them where they really are...
Podcasts, I have not had the opportunity to ever discover this peculiar strategy and not sure how I would utilize it, my ignorance and a chance of boredom deters me. I do try to be a teacher who expands on all multiple intelligence and differentiate strategies of learning, but I confess listening to someone without visuals can be an epic fail for my personal learning so I disregard it and shelve it. But thinking about it I can see it being adapted into "Stations" or "Centers" for the younger grades, but how could it be adopted into the explorative classes like P.E.? Maybe if I am at a lucky school that is techno based and funded for it, using iPods/iTouches, while they're warming up they could be listening to the history of a particular sport or a muscle group they're working out, but again my worry would be a disconnect or fade away in day dream land.
I will definitely try Movie Maker, even for my personal professional profile would be much easier than iMovie! A very user friendly creation.


I used Edmodo this year in my 4th grade class and am hoping to increase the use of it next year as well. I feel like it created a close classroom community.  Students communicated with each other frequently and had a place for their voices to be heard.  I had students respond to different questions about what we were reading.  We responded to current events that we had discussed in class and even posted videos of current events that we had shared to enhance our comprehension.  I gave out assignments on Edmodo as well and had students respond to questions.  I also divided my class into sub-groups based on their reading group book and had discussion groups within our Edmodo group.  I'm hoping to find more ways to use it next year.

Teaching tool about Guided Reading Books for Parents and Students

It is my hope as a Kindergarten teacher who must teach beginning students new to the whole school experience as well as teach some "new" parents what a guided reading book is and how the child has been instructed as well as interacted with the text before bringing it home to share with parents.  Parents often tell me that the book is too easy for their child and feel that the child had memorized the text rather than reading it.  I want to develop with help from my colleague and technology teacher at my school a podcast [by combining audacity and moviemaker] to teach the parent and child how the guided reading book should be used in before, during and after a reading for the child to get the most out of the guided reading the text.  Next I will post this podcast on the Kindergarten website for parents who have emailed me directly about concerns or questions.  Then the parent can accessthe podcast at their own convenience.  Hopefully this will help the parent and child gain a better understanding of a guided reading book.