LinkedIn For Professionals

LinkedIn is the digital tool I use to maintain and add new professional connections. I have had a LinkedIn online page for years. My page contains connections from my corporate career in finance, my colleagues from education, former students I follow, and my personal friends who are are working or own their own businesses. I follow institutions as well as individuals. The affordances are many! I love that the posts are work related and avoid the kinds of posts we might see on Facebook. It is also a great recruiting site; I get any number of job notices in a months time. Many of the posts are o notices of seminars or online TED Talks that are relevant to my interests. The site will send notices of promotions or job milestones for those I am connected to so I can send a note of congratulations if I so desire.The contraints are they require a monetary committment if you want to see who is viewing your profile, they frequently ask if you want to connect to others tangentially connected to you through another connection, and random people pop up asking to connect. I also think it is a dated method of professional social networking. It was supposed to be the next big think in recruiting but it is too insular to be effective.

Classroom uses: I don’t see LinkedIn appealing to students at the high school level. Perhaps when students move into college and begin to think of their careers, a professional networking site like LinkedIn might become more appealing. What teachers could do is talk about how students can become professionally connected because networking and knowing as many people as possible in their chosen career is how they can become aware of jobs. Teachers could create practical activities in the classroom such as resume and cover letter writing. Teachers could discuss job fairs and how to search for jobs online. Most people see an education as a springboard to the workplace.

Questions for teachers: Do you have a professional network and how do you maintain it? Is it an online site like LinkedIn or do you have everyone saved on your cell phone?

Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Any virtual reality experience gives me serious vertigo. My kids still talk about the time I had to cover my eyes on the “Back to the Future” ride at Universal Studios. I also can’t put anything on my face so Google Cardboard was a no go. Anything close to my face panics me; I have to be sedated for a simple teeth cleaning. So, how can I use virtual reality in the classroom when virtual reality pretty much freaks me out?

After reading Minocha’s article on the value of virtual reality in the classroom, I do think it has a place in teaching ELA. Students could visit sites mentioned in texts for a fuller appreciation of setting and environment. Experiential learning cements the lesson more fully in the the student’s memory and adds an element of fun. I downloaded Expeditions on my iPhone and explored the app in AR, that is augmented reality. I learned the while VR replaces my vision by completely covering it (which panics me), AR adds to it. VR allows the user an immersive experience, while AR doesn’t immerse you in an artificial environment, yet allows for a similar experience without headgear. AR I can do, and I could see this easily used in the classroom.

So, I played around in Expeditions in AR. I learned about Pearl Harbor, the lifecycle of bees, and a project I knew nothing about but found fascinating – the One Belt, One Road. This project is designed to create a railway from China to London by way of 64 countries. It is highly ambitious and extremely expensive, but in addition to the commerce objectives, it is thought that it will bring some stability to some of the more fragile countries.

This was one of several AR slides that described the One Belt, One road project. It was easy to move the view around on each slide to see various angles and more of the image. So cool!

The affordances of AR are ease of use, no need for headgear, and short, instructive “tours”. It can be shown on a smart board in the classroom and all students can view the same images and read the same text. The images that deliniate the text are moveable and able to be viewed at various angles. I really like being able to see the One Belt, One Road rail route with a birds eye view. The constraints are the experience remains at arms length and less immersive. When I consider what could realistically work in a classroom, I think an AR experience is the way to go.

Advice for teachers: I think most young students, grades 6-12, would like using Google Cardboard. The problem is the teacher has no control over content. I can also see Google Cardboard being a cost some families could not fit in their budgets. If the school budget allows for a Google Cardboard for all students, then I think it’s a great learning experience. But, before using VR in the classroom, I think the goals and learning outcomes need to be defined or else it’s just a toy. I also think the teacher needs to be somewhat adept at VR and Google Cardboard.

Questions: Cost aside, can teachers see the value of VR in the class and to what end? Are the simulations instructive and how would you assess VR learning?

Parallel Composing with Emily Dickinson

I used Animoto to create a parallel composition that used music, text, and photos. The digital tool itself was fairly easy to work with; however, I didn’t care for the watermark on every slide, but the mark was unobtrusive so I did not bother to upgrade to remove it. It can be used as a free digital too, but, as we have all discovered with free apps, free Animoto has its limitations. Yet, the constraints pale in comparison to its many affordances! Students can select a text or quote and begin to design the layout and include photos, music, and custom text. I feel this is a great actvity for students to explore the many sides of a text. Poetry, especially, is given to imagery that can be paired with images. Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Nature The Gentlest Mother Is” stands on its own with the beauty of language and rhythm, but I loved it even more when I added photos and music. It made the poem personal because I chose photos taken by my Iphone -some of my yard at varous times of the day and seasons. The poem is remediated with images and music to enhance the poem’s “big idea” of the scale and scope of nature as mother. The music I chose was soothing and supported the gentle and loving language in the poem. The images were literal depictions of phrases in the poem. The text, the images, and the music are teaching side by side to create a whole.

Teachers can use the parallel composing activity as a way to differentiate activities. One student may take a text and deconstruct it, add music, images, voice, and create a new vision of the text. Another student may see a text’s conventional meaning, as I did with the Dickinson poem, yet add additional media to support the meaning. It is a creative and critical thinking exercise that meets a number of Georgia reading, writing, and listening standards that require students to utilize technology in the ELA classroom.

Uses in the classroom: It is a creative and innovative way to teach and analyze texts. Although I see it as a flexible activity that can be differentiated, I do think teachers need to set clear parameters and guidelines for the product. For example. how gory do you want an Edgar Allen Poe poem or short story to be visually? How sensual or erotic do you want a love scene in Romeo and Juliet to be visually? Is certain music inappropriate? Graphic lyrics that demean others would not be welcome in my class, yet, even as I write this, I can see a student making an arguement to include them. I think it would depend on the text and what the student planned to do with it. What about photos and copyright laws that govern the public’s use of music and images? Lots to consider.

I also see a need for a companion writing that discusses the choices the students make in designing and completing a parallel composition assignment. It is also a great climb up Bloom’s taxonomy in order to get to the top tier of “creating.” I can see formative assessments at each step of the process. Has the student understood the text being studied? Did the student apply knowledge and make plausible choices to begin composition design? Is the student analyzing the design and how it coheres into the “big idea”? In the written companion piece, did the student evaluate his composition and defend his choices? I think when students have a chance to monitor their progress through frequent formative assessments, there is less likely a chance they will end up in left field.

Questions for teachers: Can you see using parallel composing as an activity that teaches texts in a new way? What reservations might you have about it? Are there administrative restrictions as to the kinds of apps you can use in your classroom?

Death by Social Media

In addition to implicit and explicit messages one can draw from images, images can also make an argument. My love-hate relationship with technology sometimes feels like a battle I am losing, but modern life is rife with communcation and productivity based in technology, so I need to get with the program! I do wonder where it is all going to lead and the dependent relationship we have created with the digital age. There is no going back, but who or what will win the power struggle?

Claim: Social Media is so harmful it can cause death.

Evidence: The image is of a man who is restrained by a social media application at each of his hands and feet. Every application is piercing his body to “nail” him to his cell phone.

Warrant: We have become so dependent on social media that its power is inimical to our health. The image depends on knowledge of the Christian biblical story of the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion. Other religions may not see the connection other than the serious physical harm caused by social media.

Reflection: The tool I chose was an image from Quora.com. I am personally concerned about the harmful effects of social media, and how young children are spending so much time in front of a screen. The image has some heavy-handed, biblical messages of the man being crucified by Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and WhatsApp. The death is metaphoric but the message is that social media is all powerful, so much so that it can kill you with its use. These applications are all current social media sites that are used on a daily basis.

The Claim is represented by a graphic image of a man “nailed” to a cell phone by the four most popular social media applications on a cell phone. It is clear the man is restrained, unable to move, and is in distress. Without a single word of text, it is clear that social media is causing harm and eventual death. The Evidence is demonstrated in the image by each social media application shown piecing the hands and feet of the man on the cross of a cell phone. Even if a viewer does not make the biblical crucifixion reference, it is clear that the intent is harm to the man. The Warrant is demonstrated by a clear connection between the consumption of social media and the damage it does.

The Warrant is situated in the Christian culture that requires some biblical knowledge of the death of Jesus Christ. It assumes that the viewer will understand the biblical references and be able to connect them to the instrinsic harm of social media. The image does not allow for any positive interpretation of how harmful social media is to our lives. The message is heavy-handed and anyone from a culture not familiar with the story of the death of Jesus Christ can see the torture the man in going through. The image works and converys its message whether the viewer has the relgious culteral background or not.

Classroom Uses: Teachers can use images for multimodal arguments in lieu of or in addition to an argument essay. Students can establish a claim and begin the process of searching for an image that they feel makes the claim. It can be an individual or group assignment. I think the selection of an image can provoke much discussion in the class or in a group. The process of searching for an image that supports a claim is one way to introduce the argument essay. The teacher would have to model what the process looks like so the image and argument are in the same ballpark, then work to fine tune the relationship between image and argument. I think the first step in the Toulmin model is highly instructive for students. Students are bombarded with images daily and may not realize the sublminal impact on their thinking or attitudes. Being aware that some images are making a claim may avoid accepting what is portrayed without any analaysis.

Questions I have for teachers: The more I work with images as text, the more I see the value of image analysis. Do teachers use images when teaching texts, or pairing images with texts? Is the time involved in finding appropriate images for a class project worth it? Can teachers use images in collages or visions boards so students can tell a story that is more than linear or chronological?

Remixing Willy Wonka

Analysis and Reflection: I am a big fan of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I created this meme from Meme Generator provided by Dr. Dail. The original image is Gene Wilder in his Willy Wonka outfit in character for the movie. In my remediation, he looking a little sly about date night. A person looking at this meme would need to know who Willy Wonka is and have seen the movie to understand the literal meaning of the meme, which is he has plenty of chocolate for dessert. But it could also be taken another way from the look on his face and the language of the meme. Dessert could be something other than chocolate. I’ll leave it at that, and let your imagination take flight!

I personally love memes. They convey so much with so little; they can remediate an image or not. I looked at a number of images before the Gene Wilder/Willy Wonka image spoke to me. I can envison using memes in a classroom to pair with texts. I think they are fun and an appropriate and fun activity for students to create and expand their understanding of texts in a variety of ways. I chose to be humorous, but images can also convey any of the rhetorical appeals students find in texts. The Meme Generator is an easy way to create a meme; it does the work for you once you find an image and think of a text. My advice to teachers who want to use memes in their classrooms:

  1. Be aware of copyright laws and choose safe websites that allow public used of their images.
  2. The meme I created can be viewed as provacative or suggestive. Make sure the memes chosen are age appropriate with an image and text that the student could share with parents without upset.
  3. Think of texts that pair well with memes. Not all texts will be appropriate for a meme.
  4. Memes don’t always have to be a remix as I did above. They can be on point, or used to expand the understanding of the text.

Questions I have for teachers: Do you think it is a valuable activity to pair texts with images? How would you go about assessing a meme as part of a student’s grade?

Remediating Billy Collins

Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets. His poetry is known for an infusion of humor and keen observations. I chose a poem that is a celebration of spring and chose to remediate it in a way that adds shade to the sunniness of the poem.

Made with Padlet

Reflection on the use of Padlet for the classroom: Padlet is a simple online bulletin board that is free and user friendly. I think it would be a great digital tool for students to explore textual analysis and remediation. Students can work individually on a project or in a group. In addition to the affordances just listed, it is a tool that is easily modified. A teacher can create a Padlet about a certain topic and keep the wall open so students can add information, videos, links, and comments. For example, a teacher who wants to teach text analysis can start a wall with a text, and ask students to add analyses and interpretations. Then the teacher could start another wall and have students post images they think remediate the the analyses and interpretations on the text Padlet. I could see making a game of this! Put students into groups and ask them to match the remedation image to the an analysis or interpretation on the first Padlet. This could model what is meant by text analysis and remediation. Then the students could get into groups and discuss the process, ask questions, and take a deep dive into how remediation can shift perspectives. Students need a little practice with the concept before jumping into creating text analysis and remediation themselves. Finally, students can embark on their own Padlet of text analysis and remediation. I wouldn’t stop with the Padlet, I would make a short presentation part of the assignment. Have the students defend their analysis and remediation. The lesson encompases a number of imporant skills: critical thinking, collaboration, use of technology, defending an argument, presentation skills, and thinking outside the box. We teachers want to foster creativity in the classroom while learning important skills, and I think using Padlet is a creative way to teach text analysis and remediation.

Cool Canva!

I saved a blog post months ago from a teacher I follow. It was from a student project called The Modern Voices Project. The project called for students to create posters of books they were reading in and out of the classroom. The software the students used was Canva. Canva is a very easy graphic design tool. (More about Canva later in this post). When I saw the posters the students had made, I knew I wanted to learn about this digital tool and introduce it in my classroom as a way for students to creatively memorialize their reading. I also felt it would create a culturally diverse visual library in the classroom. Our students are diverse and not everyone reads books in English or books from the American canon. It also seemed like a great way to save space, decorate the classroom with students art, and pay homage to the books the students read. Book reports and essays are soon forgotten, but a visual can remain on a classroom wall the entire semester. You can visit The Modern Voices Project site by clicking HERE

Canva has a number of valuable affordances. Like WordPress, there is a free version that can do much, but its constraints are are also like WordPress – the free version has limitations. Canva is user friendly and has a tutorial built right into the opening pages. The navigation is clear and easy to follow. The free items they do offer seem sufficient for my purposes in the classroom. Because it is a graphic design tool, it has many more uses than student posters. The templates include multiple designs that any teacher and student would find useful. There are several fun planner templates that I could see using to post my daily agenda. Another constraint I can see is needing a color printer. The high school where I student taught was judicious in its use of its color printer because of the expense. I also wonder about the student who wants the tactile experience of creating a physical poster as sort of a collage with pictures, text, and color. The affordance to that constraint is the student who doesn’t enjoy creating art on paper but is happy with creating digital art. Another affordance is also the ability to easily edit and change a piece of digital art. No materials are wasted; no cost is incurred when changes are made. When I played with the tool, I could easily change colors, fonts on my text, and experiment with a variety of stock pictures. In other words, I could create multiple iterations -5- until I was satisfied, albeit only partially, with my result. Imagine wasting 4 posters before arriving at the one that works. I think of the cost, the large amounts of paper and materials going to a landfill, the time involved in starting all over, and the surface space needed to work on the product multiple times.

Canva used to create a poster for GroupMe

The Poster took me a lot longer than perhaps it would with one of my students. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but I think with more time and more tinkering, I could get the hang of Canva.

As I reflect on Canva vis a vis the reading, the Canva tool does change the way we think about making art. I can see some thinking that the traditional ways of making student art and the skills involved are lost when going digital. Some may question if using Canva does create art. What happens is our definition and ideas about what constitutes a work of art, or in this specific example – a student poster, changes and expands with the use of Canva. The student who has trouble drawing a stick figure will still go through the same process of design and choice that the artistically skilled student goes through. One student uses digital art supplies; one student takes out paper and drawing implements. Can we call a digital product art? Can we call the digital producer an artist? Why not! Canva does change the boundaries of space and time. Students and teachers do not have to purchase art supplies which are very expensive. They do not have to store paper and art supplies. A computer is required but most schools have them in good supply. The other change I think about is how a student group can work on a poster in class or from another location. Students could be online at home, the library, Starbuck’s, or any location with wifi. Talk about changing the boundaries of space!

My advice for my fellow teachers is – DO IT!

Why I think it’s a great digital tool for the classroom:

  1. It has a free option. We teachers love free!
  2. It’s very user friendly. You can demonstrate the tutorial for the students and away they will go!
  3. Your students can have fun either individually or in a group. Think of the various groupings you can create and how different groups can create diverse products.
  4. It is a creative activity than crosses all cultures, ethnicities, genders, and belief systems. It is a great way to differentiate!
  5. It aligns with many technology state standards. The activity can be incorporated in your lesson plan to satisfy state standards.
  6. Being creative in a digital modality develops growth and expands the idea of what a text is to include images and digital media.
  7. Creativity, technology, and innovation are 21st century skills needed in the workplace.

Some caveats:

  1. The finished product requires a color printer. Many students do not have a color printer so a color printer at school will be necessary. It might be a budget concern.
  2. Some students with artistic ability may see the digital poster as a replacement or dismissal of their artistic skill. You will need to make a decision if you want uniformity in your products or a mash –up of digital and physical.
  3. A graphic alone may not satisfy the assignment goals, so you may need to add more to the lesson, such as a presentation or written reflection.

Questions I have for teachers are:

Would you find this digital tool useful in your classroom? How would you use it? How would you assess the student’s work? How would you make time for students who are not very tech literate? Would you consider the use of digital media a way to differentiate?

Tech goals

Student Goals:

I took a look at the GSE standards for ELA because I thought there were some standards for the use of technology in the classroom and there are. So, I wanted to create goals that would be applicable in the classroom to meet the standards. I’ll start there then add some of my own.

  1. Be able to analyze and construct meaning from various presentations of a text, such as audio recordings, videos, live preformance, and written text. The student should be able to see how low technology and higher technology changes the text. ELAGSE11-12RL7 and RI7
  2. Use technology to produce, publish, and update individual and shared writing. ELAGSE11-12W6
  3. Make strategic use of digital media in presentations to enhance unserstanding and add interest. ELAGSE11-12SL5
  4. Now my own: I really want students to practice safe, responsible, and legal use of technology.
  5. Design and develop a multi-media digital presentation of an individual and group project.
  6. Use technology to further enhance understanding of texts and be able to research using credible and quality web sites.

My Goals:

In addition to these goals for my students, I have also set a few for myself. To learn what they are, click HERE.

Reflecting on my goals:

It was interesting to observe myself throughout the blog building process. Technology does not come easy to me, so the thought of building and maintaining a blog felt overwhelming. But, once I got started, I was having fun and started geeking out!

I had to put a lot of thought into my tech goals for both my students and me. I think it’s ok that teachers do not know everything – we can’t! So, I like that Dr. Dail is learning about Makerspace along with the rest of us and is honest that it can feel uncomfortable as we progress in the course. That helps me feel that I can share some of my insecurities about new technology, but also emphasize its importance in the changing twenty-first century.

I started my goals for my students with what I remembered from the Georgia Standards of Excellence. That turned out to provide language to create meaningful goals for my students. In addition to the academic goals, I also want my students to understand the power and consequences of using technology, especially social media. In my experience, adolescents catch on quickly to new technology and seem to be able to navigate it without much trouble. Then, what do they do with it? I want to be able to provide structure and form to allow them to explore their creativity and strengthen their skills.

When it came to my goals, I created a Prezi presentation instead of a boring PowerPoint. Prezi is much more dynamic and so easy to use. This is just one example of the wide world of technology tools for the classroom! That when I started geeking out about all the new things I could try with my students. I started googling tech tools for the classroom and found geoguessr.com. I tutor a Human Geography class, and this would be a fabulous game the students could play that entertains and instructs.  Hypothesis is also a tool I want to explore because students spend so much time annotating and teachers spend so much time making copies of text for them to annotate.

One of the best outcomes of setting up my blog is how it has mitigated my anxiety about technology. If I can be fearless in the face of change, I hope it will inspire my students to be fearless in their classroom performance when we use new technology tools.

A little bit about me

Hi all! Click HERE to learn more about me!

Intro reflection:

I titled my Intro page Moi, French for me, because I’ve been tossing French words around with a friend to see if we still remember some from high school. Once I selected that, I created a Voicethread to introduce myself, mainly because Dr. Dail cited it on her class site. I’ve seen other Voicethreads on my classmates’ blogs and, I think it’s a great way to attach faces to names. I’m a visual learner, so images work well for me. It’s one thing to tell me you like boating and another thing to see a picture of you on a boat. I will forget the former but remember the latter. If that the case for me, that is no doubt the case for some of my students.  I think using sound with images makes for a more memorable experience; it’s informative and entertaining. Just look at the popularity of movies!

        Using Voicethread took some doing and re-doing. The challenge was in the selection of pictures and how many was enough. Once that was done, I recorded multiple times and still didn’t like my voice.  What can’t I sound like a British actress? As I worked through the activity, it occurred to me that doing a Voicethread on my class blog before school starts would be an excellent way for students and their families to meet me, and see I don’t breathe fire or have horns. I would also invite students to post their Voicethread to introduce themselves to me – and their classmates.

        Another advantage in having students create a Voicethread is to become accustomed to how their voices sound when it’s recorded. A recorded voice never sounds the way you think it will so learning to make volume and register adjustments is a valuable skill. I can see it creating the ability to create voice changes when reading aloud or performing in front of others. Now that I am comfortable with Voicethread, I can move onto other tech tools for my classroom.