Final Cut

And……..cut.

After spending two class periods planning and shooting their films, the students are finally done. Topics range from strokes to hypothermia, broken bones to 3rd degree burns.

In terms of meeting my goals (increased motivation, opportunities for creativity, communicating information while collaborating, and demonstrating decision making skills) the project was a success. In terms of producing accurate and succinct informational video clips…well, we still have some work to do.

Students demonstrated great creativity in the filming and editing of their projects. One group of boys went so far as to crop in clips from other well-known movies. I am quite sure there were some copyright violations involved, but it WAS very creative.

The obvious plus points in doing this project include the aforementioned motivation, creativity and collaboration. Other benefits include a much more interesting final project than the Red-Cross-Produced Peyton-Manning-Narrated series of clips that we usually watch in class. Most impressive to me, the students readily jumped into the project, not only with the filming but with the editing of clips, music overlays and credit screens. Not surprisingly, the technology piece came very easily for them, and among the different groups I noticed a range of software and editing tools being used. This was, however, part of the frustration in the project.

 

One initial frustration was the sharing of the files that were produced by the students. Firstly, they were huge files. Sending them via email was out of the question. Secondly, students had used a variety of programs and computers to produce the movies. This was an intentional allotment on my part, but led to some frustration especially when dealing with the files produced on Macs. Finally, my concern with sharing the files with the class, mentioned in my previous post, was not resolved. Youtube was out of the question due to privacy concerns regarding students. Ultimately I had to save them and share them off of an external hard drive. Not ideal, but the only option presently open to me.

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Video Upgrade

For my final project, the goal is to allow students to fulfill NETS goals while adding interest and excitement to my CPR/First Aid class. Students in this class learn the basics of CPR, the proper use of an AED and how to respond effectively to emergency situations.

At the present time, students are “treated” to a Red Cross video that is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Doesn’t this scene look thrilling? It gets even better as the unit progresses. I can think of a myriad of scenarios to demonstrate a broken leg bone that would elicit more excitement from my students. For starters, where is the blood?

To solve this problem, I am going to  have students create short, concise videos illustrating an emergency scenario and outlining the basic steps to care for the victim. Students will need to plan out the scenario, shoot it, edit it and submit it. We will watch the videos during class time, and the plan is to then update the Health Blog with the “best of the best” videos from each class.

Increased motivation, opportunities for creativity, communicating information while collaborating, and demonstrating decision making skills will be entwined with the use of technology through this project.

There are, of course, some potential hangups.

The biggest concern is the displaying of student work on an “open blog.” This will be an issue that I will need to grapple with (and will be decided above my pay scale). If student work can not be displayed on my wordpress blog, and students pictured in the videos are not somehow masked or “pixilated”, I will be limited to presenting the videos within the confines of the class.

Video editing software and playable formats. Students have Adobe video editing tools on their computers. Those, coupled with Any Video Converter should create files that are similar enough to upload and share.

Time is always a concern. We have 10 class periods to learn the CPR/First Aid information, so students will need to work effectively during class and maybe, just maybe do some PE homework!

That should elicit an interesting response.

 

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Camp iPhone

Last week was Middle School Camp; the time of year when a select number of teachers have the pleasure of spending a full 5 days with upwards of 170 Middle School students. I headed for Fu Long for a week of adventure camping with the 8th graders.

It’s actually a really great time; biking, hiking, climbing, surfing (except for this year), cookouts, games, kayaking, and general fun.

The only down side? Limited internet access. For the students, a week without cell phones and computers is a pretty difficult ask.

Fortunately the rules for accompanying teachers is a little more lenient, and I relied heavily on my iPhone during the week. Little did I know that there are a number of really applicable..uhhh..applications for iPhone use during a camp week.

News: Fu Long is to news junkies what the prohibition was to drinkers. The 7-11 near camp does not carry English papers, and although I can understand much about different heinous crimes from the cartoon drawings in Apple Daily, I needed more of a news cycle than that. Fortunately, my iPhone provides me with minute-by-minute updates on current events. Drudge Report (go ahead…collective groan), Newsweek (which has turned into nothing more than editorials and commentary), CNN International and the NY Times apps kept me abreast of the ongoing fighting in Washington. For those who find reading difficult on the iPhone, the News360 app covers the stories through photos, which is pretty interesting as well.

Trash Talking: On day two of camp, one of our teachers received a MMS message from one of the 7th grade camp teachers (who shall remain anonymous but who is affectionately referred to here as “E”). The message included a photo of “E” on the driving range at 7th Grade Camp (otherwise known as “camp-lite”). He had just hit a bucket of balls, and on the range behind him the 7th grade campers could be seen running to and fro collecting the balls so that “E” could hit again. Not cool.

Snake Identification: I should say that this is the app I WISH iPhone had. The only thing close is the Field Guide to Victorian Fauna which details some of the animals and habitats of the Australian State of Victoria. Not exactly helpful at Fu Long. Maybe you can help  identify this beauty that was found half-way up the climbing route.

 

Climbing Ropes Setup: No app here, but once again I found the iPhone very useful in detailing the exact setup of top ropes for our climbing site. We had 5 different routes and each route had 3 top ropes. Each day, the same 5 routes needed to be set up, ideally with the same top rope anchors. By using the iPhone to record the details of each top rope, we were able to accurately remember what rope went where each day during setup. Sounds simple, but the iPhone camera saved us literally hours of time and removed the nagging question of safety in top rope anchors. Boring video, but great solution for us.

YouTube Preview Image

I suppose the question remains, “Could I go a week without technology?”

That’s easy.

Not a chance.

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Integration

The question seemed easy enough, “What is technology integration and how does it work?”

Hmmmm.

Integration: (noun) the act of combining or adding parts to make a unified whole, the act of amalgamating a racial or religious group with an existing community.

No argument there, right? I remember having a discussion with a group of educators in 2001 while teaching in St. Louis. I expressed the (naive) opinion that I would like my students to be “color blind.” In an ideal world we treat others with respect regardless of their differences. In fact, we don’t necessarily even notice the differences. It is Johnny. Suzie. Buford. Not “Johnny the Vietnamese-American, Suzie the sight impaired or Buford the little person.”

One of the members of our group objected vehemently to the idea that integration/multi-culturalism should lead to a unified whole. The notion of the great “American Melting Pot” has been replaced with, “America, The Great Speckled Bird.” He said that he did not want students who were “color-blind,” but instead, students who appreciate the separate uniqueness in other students. In fact, he found my idea of color-blind students to be very insulting.

So much for a simple discussion about integration.

Defining technology integration, while not carrying the same deep emotions as racial integration, is no easier to nail down. A cursory examination of tech integration as defined in Education World (it’s the Educator’s Best Friend, in case you didn’t know), made it sound as simple as using a variety of different web pages. Really?

Edutopia had an article on tech integration that included the use of digital microscopes, handheld devices, smartboards, laptops and digital storytelling. Closer…but this still seems cursory to me.

Upon deeper reflection, I think I’m going with a definition that is closer to the one I voiced in my previous discussion on multi-cultural education. Ideally, Technology Integration isn’t even noticed. In other words, the teacher gives an assignment, students respond to the assignment with a huge variety of digital and non-digital tools. They use tools that convey their learning most effectively. No one says, “Hey, where is the powerpoint presentation? Where is your rss feed?” The tech integration is so “real” and seamless that it becomes a non-issue. It would be like Paper Integration in the classrooms of the 80’s. Or Chalkboard Integration in 1950.

Which causes me to wonder, what will be the next “Integration?”

Holographic Integration? “Class, today Johnny’s Grandma is going to appear in our midst and tell us about her life without a television.”

Robotic Integration? {in monotone} “Class, please wirelessly transfer your homework file to the server located in my brain.”

Teleportation Integration? “Class, today we’re GOING TO Egypt.”

Could be pretty cool.

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“Something Got On Kirsten’s Finger”

Technology integration is a buzzword that has been around the educational scene for over two decades now (pretty hard to believe). There continues to be an increased emphasis on essential skills and knowledge necessary for effective learning and productivity in the modern technological world. At the forefront of this discussion is the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and their NETS.

  • Demonstrating creativity and innovation
  • Communicating and collaborating
  • Conducting research and using information
  • Thinking critically, solving problems, and making decisions
  • Using technology effectively and productively

But who should be teaching these standards to students? Is it the job of the computer teacher? The homeroom teacher? The librarian? A specialist? The PE teacher (probably not)?

Or can it be simpler than that? If a teacher assigns an activity/project/research focus and opens the floor for students to take risks in terms of the presentation of that material, will students on their own find the motivation to be creative, collaborative, technologically-savvy learners? Given what I have seen of students at the high school level, the answer is yes. Obviously, the more attention given to the variety of creative responses and the different modes of communicating through technology would increase the exposure that is so helpful in leading other students to explore and take risks on their own. This happens at the adult level as well…we see a tool that is being used, understand how that tool can aide our own particular learning, and modify it to meet our particular needs.

And to no one’s surprise, there is an industry growing around this recent emphasis. 21st Century Skills Assessment will help your school assess the technological skills of the teachers or students or administrators at any given institution.

It is my impression that, as usual, the kids are ahead of the curve on this one. We spend time trying to figure out how to assess their technological know-how, while they spend time rushing way ahead of us when it comes to the use of technology. This was brought home again to me last night while I was sitting at a nice Chinese restaurant having dinner with my wife. I received an email from my son, sent on his ipod. It said:

Attached to the email was a photo:

My hypochondriac daughter had noticed something on her finger, and somewhat alarmed, had turned to her younger-but-more-emotionally-stable brother for help. His response was immediate…”Let’s take a photo on my iPod and send it to dad. ”

How cool is that!

  • Demonstrating creativity and innovation? Check
  • Communicating and collaborating? Check
  • Conducting research and using information? Check
  • Thinking critically, solving problems, and making decisions? Check
  • Using technology effectively and productively? Check

And the scary part? I never once showed him how to use his iPod for anything except moving music files from our computer to the device.

 

 

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Extended Hiatus

It’s been a forever since a blog entry. I am sure that the masses that follow my blog have been waiting on the edge of their collective seats for me to post again. Since I last wrote, the following events have taken place:

 

William married Kate
President Obama released his birth certificate
Osama was “liquidated”
IMF head was arrested for sexual assault
Huge tornado wiped out Joplin, MO
The “Arab Spring” took off in earnest
John Edwards was indicted
News Of The World folded over scandal
Casey Anthony found “not guilty”
The space shuttle went on its final mission

 

Yes, it’s been that long.

 

I’m looking forward to the last year of the official Tech class, increasingly aware that tech class will continue for the rest of my life. As was evident in the presentation by Brian Bennett during course 4, the teachers of my tech classes are getting younger and younger. I know it can’t be my age.

The presentation and ensuing discussion was interesting, once it actually got started. Yes, technology foiled the best-laid plans, eventually knocking all of us off of Skype and on to Google Hangouts. Don’t bother, you can’t join at this time without an invite.

During the half-hour time period when Shawn and Allie (in Jakarta) and Brian Bennett (in Korea) were on-again-off-again, Jeff tried a variety of things to get the connections to stick. It was clear that the sub-standard internet in Jakarta was taking a toll on the conversation with Allie…I felt like I was watching a visual representation of the phone calls of yesteryear…with a several-second delay between the time that the speaker spoke and the hearer heard. It was, well, painful.

It also proved one of the difficulties that is continually faced when using technology. The class on Saturday was a class of (mostly) motivated educators who are willing to take risks when it comes to technology integration. That is not the case with all teachers. I can think of many, many coworkers who, if they had been sitting there on Saturday morning would have said, “See, this is why I don’t use tech in my classroom. It can’t be trusted.” If the class on Saturday had been a class of my 9th graders, things would have gone south in a hurry while the students waited for the connection to be fixed.

Taking risks in technology in the classroom can be rewarding, but you better keep that backup plan handy.

I’m just sayin’.

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Presenting Information That Is SFW

During one of the final days in my Sex Ed class, students research STD and STI information. The information covered the transmission, symptoms, treatment and prevention of 9 of the most common STI’s (there are 27 and counting).

The class presentation was created through a shared ppt on Googledocs.

 

Obvious Issues:

Where do you find information on STI and STD transmission that you can a)trust and b) is appropriate?

Answer: You use the WordPress blog to list all the appropriate sites and links.

How do you share the information in a concise but comprehensive manner?

Answer: Bullet points, words instead of paragraphs, don’t copy and paste information, but re-word and clarify.

How do you determine what images are appropriate to use in an all-class presentation?

Answer: If you think the image is appropriate and I don’t think it’s appropriate, we’ll send it to your mother and she can be the one who decides.


I went over the assignment with the whole class, then assigned groups of pairs of students a different STD/I to study. That in itself was interesting. “OK, you two have Ghonorrhea.”

Students had a limited amount of time to complete the research and design their 3-4 slides for the shared presentation. I was able to watch the presentation unfold, which also allowed me to keep an eye on the images that were being uploaded and used.

At the end of the allotted time, I cut off all sharing on the Googledoc, had students turn off their computers, and projected the ppt from my laptop in the front. Student pairs would come to the front of the room and present their slides and answer questions about the given STD/I.

It was a great assignment, appropriately presented necessary information, and was a lot more interesting for the students than a lecture from Mr. Long.

The only real issue that arose during this assignment was that the Googledoc bogged down when I opened sharing with too many students. I found that out during my A1 class, and starting with A2 I opened sharing with only one of the two students, and his/her partner would use the other laptop for the research. This streamlined things considerably.

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Security Incident

I logged on to my WordPress.com account today and was met with the following message;

 

I actually love seeing these messages.

Not that I’m a sadist, but the less trust I have in the privacy of anything on the internet, the better. WordPress tried to reassure me with words such as “low-level break-in,” “It appears that information disclosed was limited,” and “we don’t have any specific suggestions for our users…use a strong password.”

Hmmm. Not so reassuring.

Good thing my iPhone is secure and private.

On a side note, someone from Slovenia visited my site. And Jamaica. I thought that was pretty irie, mon.

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Visual Literacy’s Dark Side

In our most recent COETAIL class, we discussed the different visual aspects of websites and how people process information visually.Visual literacy, which according to Wikipedia is, “the ability to make meaning from information presented in the form of an image.”

This ties in nicely with some of the information my students are presently studying in health class, in particular the impact of media and advertising on the perception of sexuality and male/female roles and relationships. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that sex sells. Unfortunately, some recent ads indicate that misogyny, violence, eating disorders, suicide, and a variety of other unhealthy (dare I say it, immoral) ideas also sell.

I would guess that each of the images above evoke some kind of  feeling, emotion or response in your brain.

Hopefully.

When the Dolce and Gabanna ad was first released, it evoked such emotion that it resulted in the ad being banned in Spain (followed soon after by Italy, France, and a host of other countries not usually known for their prudish social values), prompting the fashion designers to rail on Spain for being “behind the times.”

This is not, of course, a new phenomenon. Some classics from the past include…

and

Even my 9th graders can see the problem with the message behind many of these advertisements. And the obvious question they ask is, “Then why do advertising companies do this?”

Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons, it works.

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Wakin’ Up

I know, it’s been a long time. In fact, I had to look at my own blog to remember what the last entry was (AUP’s) and to note that the format of our AUP had changed and was less user-friendly than the original.

So what’s my excuse? Computer broke down? Out of town? Taking a tech-break?

Actually, I’ve been working on two other blogs.

This one is for my health classes.

Rather than than throwing everything on the OLC (limited to my current students only), I decided to design a blog site that included all the health information that is taught in 9th grade health. It is organized in the order that information is taught (Day 1, Day 2, etc.) and includes the Prezi presentations and the links to research sites and articles. The site currently includes only material from the latest Health Unit (Sex Ed), but eventually will include all relevant information from the Nutrition Unit, the CPR/First Aid Unit and the Current Health Issues Unit. Students past and present as well as their parents can all access the information that is covered in our 9th grade Health curriculum. (Interesting Side Note: On the ClustrMap located on the site, I have the expected hits from Taiwan, a couple of hits from the US, and…most surprisingly…a hit from Libya. Not sure what search led them here.)

The second one is less academic: I have a good friend who is the Executive Director of the Institute for Pacific Asia at Texas A&M. He is bringing 28 students from the Corp of Cadets program at A&M to Taiwan in May. (Bonus Interesting Side Note: A&M is listed as one of six Senior Military Colleges in the US. All incoming Freshman are technically required to participate in the Corp, but the majority are exempted by the University Administration.)

The students will be spending 10 days in China (the other one) and then coming to Taiwan for a quick three-day stay. I designed a blog to guide them through the sites and sights of Taipei during their time here. If you have friends coming to town, feel free to direct them here.

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