Friday, March 27, 2015

Bringing It All Together

                With all of the great resources that are available online today there needs to be a way to organize them, and provide this information to other people.  With this in mind I found a website called eduClipper that does just this.  Below is the page that I created for a unit on World War 1.  What is great about this particular site is the fact that you can search there extensive database of other peoples pages and add content that they have already found, which is how I stumbled across the two images of boot camp.  You can also upload your own content, like the PowerPoint presentation, or link to videos or other websites that you find.  Once you have created the page, you simply need to share the page you have created.  Once you have shared your page anyone else can then add content, making this a dynamic experience in which multiple people are working together creating a resource that will benefit everyone. 
                This World War 1 page was created to provide students with background information and as a resource for students who might have misunderstandings of what was covered that day in class.  By no means is this a comprehensive coverage of the war, yet it would be able to give students an overview of the entire war so that students could determine how the days lessons fit in overall.  I believe this resource could be very valuable to some students who struggle fitting all of the pieces together for units.  Besides, who doesn’t like to take some time off and watch some videos?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Media-Infused Presentation

                A media-infused presentation allows for the development of a disciplined as well as synthesizing mind by presenting a specific topic in depth, from a variety of different angles.  It is the diversity of the content that allows the student to gain the required depth to create a disciplined mind.  As Gardner (2008) states in 5 Minds for the Future, “In this day of search engines … nearly all required or desired information can be retrieved almost instantaneously.” (p.  37)  As educators it is now imperative that we shift from the old ways of teaching, memorization and repeating back facts, to a focus on synthesizing information.  By providing students with video, music, graphics and facts, they are able to focus on the connections and the “big ideas” more than just on who did what on this day.  To truly target and foster a synthesizing mind, an educator has ask the harder more difficult questions once the information has been presented to the students.  However, Gardner (2008) states that in education teachers often “Fail to invoke explicit standards in judging which connections, which integrations, which syntheses are valid, and in which ways they are (or are not) meritorious.” (p. 68) 
                In the new digital world that students are growing up in, and we are expected to teach in, an emphasis on creating disciplined minds cannot supersede synthesis.  Yet, as our schools have been fashioned these two areas are not the focus.   Schools are still holding the old strategies of memorization and formalistic responses as the standard for assessing achievement.  This is not what is valued in this new modern world.  By having students create a disciplined mind through media-infused presentation on broad topics; the students can then synthesize the information.  This synthesizing is what schools need to focus on to prepare their students for the future work place.  By using media-infused presentations students are able to escape from learning in only one way, and not receiving enough information to make informed decisions.  This purposeful approach to education provides students with the foundation necessary to take the next, and most difficult step, synthesis.  To this end, I encourage you to view my example of a media-infused presentation, created using a web based program called Prezi.

Gardner, H. (2008). Five minds for the future. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Little Motivation

This week I came across a website called Big Huge Labs, which allows the users to create a variety of free resources that can be used in the classroom.  After examining the website I decided to create a motivator, one of those still image posters that have a saying written on them.  Below is my example, which I entitled confidence.  What I find truly great about this website is the ability to use this simple concept for educational purposes.  For instance, by having your students take a picture from their phones or other digital camera, they could easily create an academic motivator that would fit with your current unit of study.  Think of the possibilities that students would have if you gave them the assignment to create a motivator around the topic of civil rights.  While, being serious with a topic like civil rights is a must, these creations do not need to be.  You could just as easily assign your students a topic like study habits and have them create funny saying on how not to prepare for a test.  In both instances the project would serve a very real academic purpose and allow students the ability to express themselves in a new way.  If you have the chance definitely take the time to explore this website and some of the other great free features it offers.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Who am I?

In today's society that strives to have everything done as quickly as possible, I have decided to introduce myself to you all using the rules of twitter.  In under 140 characters I will attempt to let you all know something about me.  I used a program called Let Me Tweet That For You, that mimics twitter allowing you to fake tweet things without creating an actual account.  Enjoy this attempt to answer four simple questions.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Digital Portfolio

                As I thought about creating a digital portfolio I was filled with quite a bit of trepidation and anxiety.  I have purposefully not wanted a large footprint online because of being a male high school teacher.  Yet, as I examined different hosting sites I began to become truly excited about the possibilities that this type resource could provide.  I have carefully thought about each type of document and resource that I have included on this portfolio to show the best of what I as a teacher have to offer.  I choose to use the website About.Me to host my digital portfolio, because I found it to be very easy to use and provided the information I wanted to include in a clean and simple format.  My page showcases a number of lessons, units and projects that I have created throughout my teaching career.  This page, I hope, will become a digital resume for me as I look towards my future. 
                The first choice I made on my page was to not change the background image.  I experimented with different images of myself, but none of them conveyed the message that I wanted or distracted from my true purpose of the page.  Each of the links that I included was very purposefully chosen to highlight some aspect of my teaching.  Each unit I included, United Nations PBL and World War 1, provide anyone access to all the resources necessary to teach the unit.  These units show the emphasis I place on higher level thinking and the scaffolding that I provide throughout units to allow all my students to achieve to the best of their ability.  I did not provide editing privileges to these documents as I really just wanted people to view what I could bring to an educational team, not change the materials to fit their own classroom. 
                I next included two projects that I differentiated for students in my class.  The first is based on the abilities of the given student, and is the more traditional way to change an assignment for students.  The second project is one that I changed based on the students interests, and where based off of students responses to an interest survey that they took.  I found that with both assignments, the differentiation that I provided allowed for me to more accurately assess the student’s level of understanding and receive a higher level of participation.  The project based on interest provide amazing feedback as students were working around areas that they were really passionate about and put forth more effort than is typical on other types of assessments. 
                Finally, I included two assessments that show the type of work that I expect and how they allow for a genuine overview of students understanding.  The leveled assessment clearly demonstrates how students achieve and demonstrate their knowledge on a traditional test.  The video project was the culminating activity in which the students presented information in an interactive and creative video that was then sent to their parents.  This allowed for what was occurring in the classroom to be shared with others, and contribute to a community of learning.
                At the bottom of the page is the more traditional resume type information that employers or others would already have.  While obviously an important part of this digital portfolio, the main purpose of this site is to showcase my units, lessons and projects that actively engage students in diverse learning situations.  I really appreciated this opportunity to focus on building a dynamic site to showcase more of who I am as an educator.  As districts and companies shift more to Web 2.0, sites like this will perhaps become more common place and expected as people try to distinguish themselves and their abilities.