Course Wrap up

This has been a quick month!   It’s hard to think back on all of the tools we’ve used (outside of looking at them specifically in this blog) and think about how little I knew about using technology in the classroom before the month of June!  I’ve learned so much about tools I didn’t know existed (Google Earth, Prezi and Sporcle ) and even more about those I did know existed (Polldaddy, Blabberizer and Flickr).

 

 
The question remains, how will I apply this to my classroom?  I’m in a school where 60% of the kids are on free and reduced lunch, so having kids write blogs at home, take online quizzes, and even some group projects are very difficult. Lots of these students have no means of transportation other than the school bus, so low-tech tutoring is even out of the question.

As we’ve talked about this year, a lot of money in Title 1 schools goes towards the latest and greatest gadgets (a lot of the time for the teachers), instead of basic human needs (Maslow). While I greatly appreciate my SMARTboard, I could just as easily (and much more technologically easily) project onto a dry/erase board and have the same outcome.

In a school of 1300+ students, it’s not very easy to get to the computer lab or library. With evaluations that could cost me my job, I feel like time in the library isn’t going to get me those scores. I’m not saying that teaching shouldn’t be student-oriented, just that it’s becoming more difficult to be that way. Ok, stepping down off of my soapbox now.

I like some of these tools, and think they are very useful in the right setting. I’ve created numerous lessons with a multitude these tools that fell through because about 1/3 of my students have internet access at home (and don’t get me started on homework). Maybe that’s what I’m so bitter about this whole Web 2.0 thing.

I really like the idea behind a lot of this, and think that teacher-created, instead of student-created, artifact can be used to enhance the class. Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to comment on my own blog posts with opposing views, rather that I can create with a lot of the Web 2.0 tools that I’ve used in college (Sporcle, Dipity, Prezi et cetera) and use them with the class to enhance learning in another way.

 

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Sporcle

In the search to find Web 2.0 tools that really work in the classroom, Sporcle should be at the top of the list.  I’ve used Sporcle to play games/waste time before, but I’ve never actually created a game for classroom use.

In creating the game, I learned a lot.  Sporcle has kind of a frustrating interface, and it takes quite a few attempts to create a working game without any kinks, but it’s entirely possible.

In class (as you can tell my the name of my quiz) I plan to use this as an End of Course review. I’ll put it at the end of a review day, and let one student come up and answer the questions for a chance to win extra credit for the entire class.

 

Take my Quiz!

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Prezi

My web 2.0 tool was Prezi.  My experience with Prezi is very limited, because every time I attempt to make a Prezi, I get too frustrated to complete it.  While Prezi is a tool with cool capabilities, it is extremely aggravating.  After seeing Prezi used in my 486 class, I tried to make one.  When I dusted off my 2 year old Prezi account, that same presentation was still in there, horribly out of date and bad looking.  I rewatched the how-to video this time and finally knew what I was doing (I thought).

In my recent experience with Prezi, I finally learned (through arduous trial) how to make a good looking powerpoint.  The zoom feature is fantastic and can really make a presentation much more interesting than the status quo.  I would love to use this tool in my classroom.  However, the internet tends to go out in school a lot, and if for some reason I didn’t have my Prezi downloaded to my desktop, I’d be out of luck.  Still, this will serve as a great medium in my lectures.

 

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Enhanced Podcast

I just completed my first enhanced podcast.  While this is my first ever enhanced podcast, I have used both Audacity (for the podcast last week) and Movie Maker (TPTE 486) before.  Since I had experience with these two tools, I really didn’t learn anything new; this pretty much served as a review.  In my class next semester, I think I’ll probably use this video as an introduction to the Russia unit.  My students have always enjoyed this story about Czar Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, because it is so dark and mysterious.  This will be a better option than an hour long movie.

Here it is:

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QR Codes

I found these to be very frustrating.  Not having a phone that can make use of these really added to that.  Still, I finally learned what they are and mostly how they work.  They are very easy to make if you can find the correct website, which is pretty useful.  I think this will be a lot easier to use in the classroom than most of the other web 2.0 tools we’ve discussed.  As opposed to computers with internet, most of my students have cell phones.  I don’t think I’d make this a mandatory class assignment, but I would probably leave some QR codes around the room as a review, or a link to a movie clip that would enrich a lesson.  I might also put a new one on my classroom door each week for the same purpose.  

 

Here’s my vCard:

 

Image

 

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Podcasts

In my last post, I discussed the some pros and cons of the audio software Audacity.  While I did find it very frustrating, I was able to produce an excellent and useful artifact to use in my classroom.  I envision using podcasts like this at the beginning of each unit.  For example, a model day will go as follows: students will take a pretest on the unit so that I can find out their prior knowledge on the subject, next I will assign them a map activity so that they will become familiar with the region, then I will play the podcast to introduce them to the region as a whole.  This podcast on the Middle East will prove very useful in future classes. 

 

 Image

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Audacity

While I’ve never used Audacity before, I have extensive knowledge of Protools, so this is fairly recognizable to me.  Despite my familiarity with recording software, I still learned a lot from Audacity.  There were quite a few things I didn’t like.  For example, it was very difficult to move around the audio of a track.  If audio needed to be moved a couple seconds in one direction, it couldn’t be done without copying the audio and creating another track.  This was very frustrating.

Based on the difficulty I had creating this, plus the inability for many of my students to do this at home, I will probably not have my students use this software.  However, I may consider creating my own for the class.

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