Thursday, April 29, 2010

Voicethread - Jane Lofton

This was a terrific session and really inspired me. I've already used voicethread in an assignment with my 7th grade Social Studies class, and several students have asked to use it for other assignments as well. I posted a picture of a medieval scene with the assignment prompt. I adapted an assignment from the text book in which the students, as serfs, composed a request to the lord for better living and working conditions. The students recorded their responses. Students either created their own accounts on voicethread (if they were 13 years old), used an account their parents created, or recorded on another student's account. Each identified him/herself by first name. Serf's Appeal to a Noble
Another option for student internet identity that Jane uses is to create a screen name. That would probably be a good idea for the school, or even the district; have students develop a screen name at the beginning of their internet use that travels with them through their schooling years. That would definitely save repeated set-up time in the long run.

To learn more about using voicethread read Joyce Valenza’s blog.
Voice thread is a tool for having conversations around media

one part, audio comments and conversations a second piece
upload image, video or documents then record or type comments

Recording; mic or webcam, call on phone, type, upload recorded sound

can use 1 screen or multiple slides
can have just outgoing or can allow comments (options, EDIT, publishing options)
blue backgrounds on ‘BROWSE’ are tutorials
portfolios – can or photograph work then record comments
can embed in blog and keep out of voicethread browse
doodle feature to focus on what you’re saying in the image
can cut off comments at a certain time OR start by not showing for first round of entries then allow to view others

student must have an account – use set screen name?
set up your account then they are an ‘identity’ on your account – limited to one computer
parents set up family account and give the students an identity – still get permission
ed.voicethread option which is more secure – limited to ed.voicethread subscriber ($10 for educator but $1 per student)

read poem over chose image, 7th haiku, preamble, soliloquy from literature, book review, book talk, announcement / ad (can upload / link to webpage) (can see picture with eye contact but read a script – can upload video)
post an assignment and students record response
test review: If you were to write 3 test questions what would they be? What are the answers?
political cartoons – students respond to cartoon and to each other Many Voices on Darfur
cartoon - start of school year
post family photo and comment

Moodle - Colin Matheson

This was a great session with an overview of the use of moodle and some helpful examples. These are the notes I have from the session. I have used our district moodle with students as a threaded discussion in which students each posted a response to a writing prompt then commented (addressing specific criteria) and responded to comments. However, I plan to explore our district’s moodle more over the coming year for some of these other tools. One of the questions I haven’t resolved is which type of tool is best for the various applications. There needs to be a balance between the most effective tool and the convenience of having everything on one place.

Moodle is useful for wiki, forum, blog, survey, social networking, and user generated content.
You can use your moodle as a teacher webpage with a weekly schedule, documents, and rss feeds. You can insert images in textboxes.

discussion board
uses: co-write story
attach video or create multimedia gallery
upload documents + ppt – turning into class rather than just teacher

rating system – stars, numbers etc or words thorough, well researched, etc

viewing depends on the initial type of forum set up

Choice/ Feedback:
create a poll, group selection – limit the number of people who can choose (closes group)
students vote
feedback activity will be in moodle 2.0

Multiple choice, fill-in, matching, cloze, t/f, numeric
essay available for teacher grading
adaptive mode allows revision with a pre-determined penalty
upload questions from exam view or formatted word document, create random grab of textbook questions (examview 4 export webct3.0 download module to upload with blackboard 6 – examview blackboard upload)
read chapter, take quiz before the discussion (80% comprehension to participate or else do something else during discussion) – 2.0 will have conditional activities
can export to excel
integrated gradebook tabulates and emails responses

Creating shared knowledge banks
go to Terms to Define to add to our Web Terms glossary
artist portfolio database
country reports
book review
autolinking options to link words in moodle to glossary definitions

Webfile locker
create through adding a new assignment
‘advanced uploading of files’
for student’s own work, ungraded storage place, to keep there before submitting work

Staff development
build teacher use by just doing ONE THING

Open Source
apache runs 70% all internet, runs on open source

Chat/IM/Web presentation
online chat room: test review, chat logs can be viewed later by students who missed
use @person’sname to direct answer
can give extra credit to students who answer questions
can be student run – share responsibility
can chat if people are logged in
make school site the social go-to site
get teacher web page to be interactive with students
monitoring students: reports, read a log report, search for key words
closed environment

CUE 2010 Keynote Speaker

CUE Keynote Speaker Mary Cullinane – Microsoft

What an enthusiastic speaker – really engaged and definitely with children’s learning at heart. Thank you so much for embracing our need to:
1 – Stop debating the need to integrate digital learning. The idea that just because it’s worked in the past we should continue to use it unexamined and unimproved is paleolithic.
2 – Embrace errors and learn from them.
3 – Reject the ‘accountability’ focus on defense.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Searching with Google Advanced Search

In the days following my CUE post I developed and taught a lesson on searching. I included Google Advanced Search and

I used our presentation equipment to model a search for topics related to the research subject each class was studying. For the anticipatory set I asked how many students had done a google or yahoo search. Naturally, almost every hand came up. I then asked about how many results they usually get and how many of those are useful. I started the demonstration by going a general Google search and looking at the number of hits that came up. We talked about the likelihood that you could even look at all of these sites - much less how useful they might be. I showed how to get to Advanced Search and demonstrated steps for searching keywords and phrases, using quotation marks, and excluding certain words. They were amazed to see how many fewer hits came up and how much more focused lists were on the desired information. Of course - it is still too much! Then we looked at domain and usage rights, and Google books. I only touched on type of file because they are doing written reports for this research assignment and I wanted them to be able to find videos. I will go back and show how to find and modify powerpoint presentations when that is their task. I asked students to define each of the domains and filled in with the information they did not have. For as comfortable with Google and other search engines they are, only a few of the students knew the significance of domain. As part of the lesson, students explained what they already knew about how to discriminate legitimate and valid websites, which was to read the description that came up in the search. We talked about adding search limitations as a tool in addition to reading the descriptions. Next time I teach this lesson I will include asking students about how to discriminate the websites as part of the anticipatory set. I'll also do a pre and post test that will serve as a search cheat sheet for them to use at home when they're doing their own research.

The most valuable elements here for my students were being able to control their image searches for things that had Creative Commons licenses (by usage rights)and being able to select for sites that are more likely to have reliable information (by domain.)
Historically (a short time, really, but their whole academic career) they have copied and pasted images into their powerpoint presentations, reports, and videos and displayed them in school - or even posted them online in Youtube - without concerns of proper attribution or citation. They already knew about copyright concerns from lessons from our librarian/media specialist but basically ignored them and trusted that they wouldn't get into trouble. They also believed that monitoring for copyright violations would be a hassle and would limit their search flexibility. After learning about how to used Advanced Search to define their searches, they were much more enthusiastic about selecting images that were, in fact, legal for them to use. It was also easy enough to do without much hassle, which is a definite issue for middle schoolers (and adults...)
The students were also receptive to using specified domains such as .edu and .org sites since they have learned that they have to establish the validity of any site that is not pre-approved for them. Our school subscribes to ABC Clio, Greenwood, and Thomson Gale database services which are already validated for the students. If they choose to use another site, they need to complete a website evaluation form which compares the accuracy of the information from the site in question to other, validated sources. When students limit their searches to .edu and .org sites, they already have one step completed in establishing the likely validity of the website as a source of accurate data.


Overall I've been pleased with the results. I know from informal discussion with the students about their research that they use Advanced Search some of the time. Because we do require the Website Evaluation forms, I know that they are checking the validity of the sites at least when they have to, and that they consider the domain as part of their evaluation. I would definitely change the lesson in several ways. One - I would include the pre and post test as I described above to see more clearly what they already know, to measure their learning, and to create a notes framework and take home reference page. Two - I will have the lesson very early in the school year with smaller research tasks in which they are required to find a series of specific domains using the search engines. Three - I will design at least one assignment in which students search by file type to pull completed papers, projects, reports, or powerpoint presentations from the internet and analyze the quality and accuracy of the work.
Suggestions, feedback? I'd love to know...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Be open to wisdom wherever you may find it

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices." Albus Dumbledore


I just got back from the CUE conference and I'm SO jazzed to get started exploring the new tools and using them in my classroom. I teach middle school social studies - 7th grade World History and 8th grade US History. My goal this week is to develop and teach a lesson about better searching. My 7th grade students have just started an extended research project so this is perfect timing. We've already been to the school library and used at least 2 databases (ABC Clio, Greenwood, Thomson Gale) and they're ready to google - BUT - they need more guidance. I plan to include Advanced Search and SearchLearnShare.