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.

Using audacity to read a test

As a special education teacher, I have used audacity to read tests and then download them to an iPad so my students can do their tests independently.  They do not have to wait for an adult to help them.  This keeps my students from feeling so different.  In the past, when I have made a mistake, I would erase the test and start over.  Now I know that I will be able to just erase the sentence or question that was recorded incorrectly.  It will shorten the time that I need to read the tests.  There are many other features of audacity that I am looking forward to explore.


This year I used Edmodo in my classroom.  I liked the way it got kids excited about learning. My favorite thing about Edmodo is that you can create small groups and pick who you want to be members of the group.    My main Edmodo page is where my class can communicated with others and post fun things.  Since I teach 4th grade, many parents do not allow their kids to be on Facebook or other social media sites so this is a great way for kids and parents to be part of a safe and monitored social media site.

I also create small groups for reading discussions, math enrichment projects, and other things.  These groups are just for responding to assignments or questions.  I created assignments for grades or typed questions where they had to respond as well as respond to others.  These types of assignments get more kids engaged in assignments and also help them practice their writing skills.

Wikis vs Edmodo

After using a wiki with my students last year and Edmodo with my students this year, I have found that I prefer using wikis.  While you can blog on both sites, on a wiki you can add pages on the wiki to create portfolios of projects and assignments added throughout the year.  Students liked to be able to quickly click on a project page and view a previous project.  This was nice to share during conferences.  With Edmodo it was hard to find previous projects.  You have to scroll through all posts.

Link to my wiki:  http://meredithmalone5thgrade.wikispaces.com/

Great worshop!

I wish that we had had a longer time in this workshop. I have played a little with Audacity, but didn't realize all of the features that it offered. I can see this would be very beneficial to foreign language classes, speech classes, and social studies classrooms. I haven't tried podcasting with students, but this is such a user friendly software, that I feel fairly confident in introducing it to students.

Voice Technology in World Language

As a French teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate voice technology into my classroom so that students can actually record themselves speaking in the target language and submit these files to me electronically.  Because speaking is the most important of the four modes of communication that we teach, this is where I want to spend focus most of my energy.  Having students record files rather than just sharing in class (though we do this all the time) allows them the opportunity to listen to themselves and self-correct.  It also gives me the opportunity to provide a thorough critique of their skills rather than sharing what I can glean on the fly.  However, I also want to balance the time in class/time at home that incorporating technology will take.  Taking 20 minutes of class time to do accomplish via technology that we could do in 5 minutes just speaking in class ins't always the  best option.  I am going to look at Google Voice and Padlet to see if these options will be easy to incorporate into the classroom; beyond those, does anyone have any suggestions of useful programs or apps that would allow students to easily record themselves from school and home?  Thanks!


Please use this blog to share your learnings about using multimedia in education to improve student learning!

7 Amazingly Easy Video Ideas for Capturing and Keeping Students' Attention

This is a blog By Kim Fortson I found on the Journal a website that is dedicated to transforming education through technology. The title is the link to the actual article. I have copied it below for your convenience.  I strongly suggest visiting the website for additional resources.

7 Amazingly Easy Video Ideas for Capturing and Keeping Students' Attention

Keeping students attentive in the 21st century classroom is no easy feat. Sure, there's the buzzword--"engagement"--that pervades education technology rhetoric, but what does engagement really look like, and how do teachers achieve it? For veteran educators Dotty Corbiere, a math specialist at Meadowbrook School in Weston, Massachusetts, and Rushton Hurley, founder of the non-profit organization Next Vista for Learning and a former high school Japanese language teacher and principal, the answer is video.
"[Video] captures attention and learning. You can't learn anything unless you're paying attention," Hurley said.
Hurley's organization, Next Vista for Learning, is an online resource for digital media that curates videos from "ordinary" students and teachers (providing they meet a specific set of guidelines), organizes them, and makes them available for free. Hurley believes that through watching videos created by their peers, students will be challenged to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of each video and apply this knowledge to developing their own content, in addition to learning valuable subject matter.
Corbiere, whose students create Stop-Action Movies (SAM) Animation to depict everything from life cycles to math poetry videos, gives her classroom "total license" when it comes to putting together projects; as long as students map out their idea first, they can use any materials they like to make the content come to life.
"The kids love it … when they get going, they want to do their best. If that figure doesn't come out right or that scene wasn't quite perfect, they want to do it again," she said.
Starting a video project can be overwhelming, so THE Journal asked Corbiere and Hurley to share their favorite video ideas that capture students' attention--and keep it. Here's what they came up with:

1. The Digestive System with SAM Animation

"This is just a better way to teach the digestive system," Corbiere says of one of her favorite SAM Animation projects, conducted by fourth graders at Meadowbrook. For the project, students must learn the vocabulary and stages of the digestive system in order to convey the process through a series of animated scenes, which are filmed by snapping pictures in succession to elicit the effect of "a flipbook on steroids" and put together using the myCreate app from iCreate to Educate. The best results surface when students are allowed to unleash their imaginations--Corbiere cites one particular project where the group brought in real food and concluded their piece with a flushing toilet. She furthers the learning process by inviting the third graders to watch the final videos. "That was hysterical… they learned quite a bit just from watching them," she said.
Tools needed: Classroom materials (ie: model magic, pipe cleaners, stickers, Legos, construction paper), iPad, and myCreate app or document camera on Mac computer. 

2. Counting Poetry Videos with SAM Animation
In these wacky but clever videos, students script the characters in a "counting poem," a blend of math and verse that often twists the film's protagonist into a sticky situation. Like all SAM Animation projects, Corbiere appreciates the invaluable combination of technological and problem-solving skills with the learning of required curriculum students. She also praises the "collaboration and cooperation with others" and team work that goes into each SAM Animation project.
Tools needed: Classroom materials (ie: model magic, pipe cleaners, stickers, Legos, construction paper), iPad and myCreate app or document camera on Mac computer.

3. Have students discuss how they would explain their community to their peers.

Hurley believes one of the best ways to implement video in the classroom is to simply add it as on option for a project. "If you build it into the assignment, everyone will see what everyone else does. After a couple of iterations, everyone is doing a video because it can be so cool. It takes away the socio-dynamics of actually physically presenting in front of your peers," he said. He emphasizes that teachers need not necessarily know how to create their own content, but simply be open to exploring and sparking conversation. For this project he suggests asking students, "Beyond what might be tourist attractions, what makes the community a special place for them? What are the businesses where their parents work? What challenges does the community face? If making a video, what kind of visuals (images, footage), would they use to help someone from somewhere far away get to know the community?"
Tools needed: Any technology that comes with your device, from Microsoft Photo Story to the iPad to online video editing tools like WeVideo.com, Pixorial.com and YouTube.com/Editor.