Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Time is What You Make of It, Intrepid Teacher

On our Wednesday night class meeting, we learned of screentoaster, an online tool that allows you to capture the images on your computer screen, overlay them with a webcam image and narration, and add captions afterward. Screentoaster also allows you to save your document to your computer for further editing.

I decided to practice using screentoast by briefly addressing an enlightening blog post and its wave of comments called There's No Such Thing As Virtual: It Is All Teaching by Jabiz Raisdana.

Check it out! (Click the expand button to follow along more easily.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


After researching ALEX, Alabama Learning Exchange, I was introduced to yet another Alabama initiative to enhance education. ACCESS Distance Learning is a new tool used to bridge the gap between high-quality public education and underfunding. ACCESS, an acronym for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide, provides expanded learning opportunities for all students including those who want to take part in AP courses, students who failed a course and need remedial support, as well as those who want to take courses like Latin, Shakespeare, or Calculus which may not be offered at their home school.

Using technologies including web-cams, codec, interactive whiteboards, and much more, students are able to receive a more specialized, unique, and cutting edge education. The state is funding the implementation of ACCESS with over 70 grants for 124 public high schools.

I believe ACCESS is an awesome way to diversify the way students learning in the 21st century receive information. Students are becoming more and more adept to internet and computer technology. ACCESS not only bridges financial barriers, but also connects great opportunities to students who are more easily engaged with advanced technology than more traditional schooling.

To learn more about ACCESS you can use the link I provided above, or follow this link for a brief overview.


ALEX, an acronym for Alabama Learning Exchange, is an internet based innovation created to help supplement all aspects of education. ALEX is easy to navigate so that anyone involved in a student's education including teachers, students, administrators, and parents can access unlimited information. Such information includes classroom lesson plans, statewide department objectives, web-links to accredited research resources, grant opportunities, and so much more!

ALEX is an exciting tool for teachers because it helps to link teachers from across the state together in the development of engaging lesson plans. It also serves as a potential resource for administrative observation (administrators can review lesson plans as to ensure statewide criteria are being met).

Most progressively, ALEX provides an opportunity for Distance Learning. Distance Learning removes financial barriers from education, and provides a door for students to learn subject areas beyond the capabilities of their home school. Teaming up with yet another Albama initiative called ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide) Distance Learning, students can engage in Advanced Placement courses, language courses, and others that may otherwise be unavailable do to underfunding or under-staffing of schools.

I believe ALEX and ACCESS Distance Learning are two initiatives that are going to help increase parent and teacher cooperation in their students success. Simultaneously connecting students to easy to use resources for education enrichment beyond the classroom experience. I look forward to integrating these programs into my classroom by exploring lesson plan possibilities, and connecting my future students to this education portal.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Am I Ready? A response to Wendy Drexler's Networked Student

Wendy Drexler's Networked Student defines connectivism as: "a theory that presumes that learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties. This network is made possible by various tools of technology. The tools are not as important as the connections made possible by them."

Technology or not, I think most educators would agree that learning occurs best when students ask relevant questions. The challenge for teachers is that we don't always have the answers, and then the challenge becomes that of the student once again. We need to teach students how to answer the question, "Well if you don't know the answer, then what resource should I consult to find out?" The foundation for successfully educating is to create a comfortable learning environment built on trust-- once a teacher has established that, they are ready to introduce their students to learning in a whole new way, by networking them.

One quote in particular stood out to me in this video because it is a crucial part of successful networking. Drexler's student says, "Comment on blogs to offer one's own informed point of view for discussion." Informed is the key word here. It is important to teach students to dig for answers themselves before they ask questions or leave comments. As a result, students will inform themselves about the topic enough to ask the meaningful questions thereby provoking deeper discussions.

However, it is important not to hinder a student's confidence, especially when it comes to asking questions. As the movie put it, "It never hurts to ask, people usually love to share their knowledge and experience-- especially when it comes to students."

Friday, October 23, 2009

My First Voicethread

I created this Voicethread so that I could learn how to use it as a classroom tool. As I made the presentation, it turned into a reflection of my class experience thus far. I realized that Dr. Strange was teaching us how to be Networked Students and how the connectivism has played a role in my learning experience.

By using VoiceThread, my eyes have been opened to all kinds of possibilities within the classroom (especially for those who teach secondary education grade levels). However, I think VoiceThread could be better if it allowed the commentor to overlay his or her typed/drawn comments on top of the audio recording. For presentation purposes, it would flow better. Overall, it is great!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Believing, Inventing, and Implementing Technological Pedagogies

In Richard E. Miller's presentation, he talks about post production. Mr. Miller says that today's society rightfully expects all meaningful productions to be beautiful compositions, "... that are compelling, that pay attention to the auditory details of the experience." I agree, but due to time restrictions I should warn you that this post has very limited post production editing. However, I do believe his video is important and I hope my notes that I am about to share with you are "compelling" enough to convince my world wide audience that these clips are worth watching.

This video was made December 28, 2008 in San Francisco. The fact that I am already watching it on the Gulf Coast is a testament to the rapid evolution of our creative culture. Miller asks, "How has writing in our culture changed?" and his simple, yet powerful answer is this, "We now have the capability of communicating instantly, globally." He expounds on this idea by describing the way in which people (students) are able to create literature collaboratively from multiple continents simultaneously thanks to shared document programs like Google Docs.

Miller goes even further with the notion of our rapidly evolving writing culture to say that writing is no longer enough. Sure, novels are still appreciated-- look at the wild success of the Harry Potter series, but then look at what they became-- The Harry Potter film series. Think about The Star Wars films... would they have been as wildly acclaimed without the combined creative genius of revolutionary screenwriters, directors, and producers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg?

We are now in a time when producing creative messages extends beyond entertainment; competitive business proposals are expected to be captivating, convincing, even interactive-- employers are using social networking sites and search engines to research their applicants-- scientists and economists who live on two or even three different continents are winning Nobel Peace Prizes because they can share multiple mediums of data instantly. This leads me to conclude that if the real world now requires technological savvy to create engaging compositions, we MUST confidently prepare our students for the evermore competitive lifestyles of today. Reading and writing is no longer adequate-- multimedia production is essential.

I really appreciated Miller's insight regarding incremental versus fundamental change when it comes to how we use technology (more specifically, the internet). He describes a time when people were what I loosely call "copy/ pasters." About ten years ago, people used the internet as a free, vast encyclopedia. They read what was available, pasted it into their minds and moved on to the next resource. Now, we are reading/watching, criticizing or praising publicly, and recreating a unique version that reflects our perception of the most current and relevant resources. Miller points out that internet enables us to see who is behind each publication and read what other people and companies are saying about it. Even better, we can compare it to an infinite amount of other resources with the click of a tab.

Everyone has something to contribute. The more people are exposed to, the more their wheels turn. The more ideas that are circulated, the faster our communities can change and our thoughts can flourish. Unfortunately, becoming an agent of change by recording one's thoughts uniquely on any given medium is not as easy as it sounds. Just as a musician must learn how to strum a guitar to make music, media producers must learn what Miller calls, "visual literacy." Students must learn how to compose for today's audience. We as teacher's of tomorrow must be able to teach our students this visual literacy.

Currently pedagogical resources for visual literacy are limited because of its relative modernity. Miller emphasizes, "The limits and the restrictions are largely ones we place on ourselves." He goes on to say that educators are responsible for creating and enabling,
1.) pedagogues that foster creativity and collaboration
2.) inspiring teachers of new media composing
3.) ubiquitous composing technology.

I believe it is an educator's responsibility to help their students discover what they love. In order to do so, we must digest Miller's notion that ideas belong to no one. My favorite part of his presentation is the small detail at the very end when his copyright symbols falls and breaks in two. It's scary to admit this in such a great and capitalistic society, but isn't that what humanity should strive for-- less competition and more collaboration?

***Notes and Quotes
1.) At 3 minute mark, Miller defines the movement from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. At the end of this presentation, he states his thesis argument that Rutger needs to build a space that enables students to learn how to produce multimedia compositions.
2.) I like that he encourages the use of local resources to compliment global (internet) resources.

Itunes U and Duke's Use of Ipods

At its core, iTunes University is a pocketable resource to dozens of the nation's top colleges and universities. iTunes University in conjunction with an iPod or iPhone creates a hand-held learning resource. Just this morning, I listened to Get Smart with Smart Boards and an interview with Game Designer Jane McGonigal about ARGs on the way to school via my iPod through the speakers of my car. Without it, I would have been bobbing my head aimlessly to "Toes" by the Zac Brown Band. Instead, I was able to do homework during my commute-- multitasking at its best.

After distributing hundreds of 20 GB iPods to an incoming freshman class as part of a project to discover potential ways to innovate technology into the classrooms, Duke University found that students used the recording device, music database, and hard drive storage capability most. To me, the most handy part about distributing the iPods to students was that teachers were able to preload class lectures, foreign language content, historical speeches, relevant songs, and podcasts. Students could also use it to store mathematical equations and examples, particularly if the teacher recorded class notes on a smart-board or powerpoint.

I think the most significant conclusion I drew from reading about Duke's iPod Initiative and iTunes University is that my generation is expected to multitask now more than ever. Just like Karl Fisch with Did You Know 4.0, Duke University realizes that students must learn to be as efficient with their time as possible in order to be effective and successful. Duke's investment in new technologies for their students serves multiple purposes: to give students a gateway to become familiar with the technologies of tomorrow, to enable students to take learning beyond dorm rooms, libraries, and classrooms, as well as to support students in their uphill battle to do multiple things at once (like studying French while running on a tredmill).

***Notes and Questions
1.) What is a blackboard course management tool?
2.) Led me to research the iPod Touch on Wired, where I learned about the upcoming iPod Touch 3G. It has me eagerly anticipating the newer version!

Buzz Tracker

I stumbled across Buzz Tracker on Dr. Alice Christie's website. Essentially, it is a way to see WHERE news is happening in relation to cities all over the world. Keeping students informed about what is happening in the world in conjunction with empowering them to be agents of positive change is a great way to motivate each child to strive for their best in everything they do. Buzz Tracker is a great new way to present international problems and inspiring stories that may help students realize what interests them.

Check it out and find out where's happening today!
Buzztracker daily image

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Class Notes/ Thoughts

How to make a video: See youtube, Story of a Sign

Professional Blog: technology literate, intellectual trail, set the stage for what I talk about (instead of the color of your shoelaces that day, etc.),
Talk about things that define you: McClung, Stay Positive!

Professional Blog, Project 11, Podcasts, and Class Blog are high priority.

Look up Dr. Strange's response to Jabiz's comment regarding the public nature of Dear Kaia.

Ginger: Lit Trip
Google tour: 20 destinations that I must add text notes too.
Dr. Strange: How do I get the history bar that shows you the changes over time in a place on google earth?

I am having trouble organizing my google reader-- people I cannot seem to find recently added people that I know I attempted to follow... any cure?

Notes from a thread I read on Intrepid Teacher: Moodle, Blackboard, chatzy, facebook feed, Tokbox, ning, How does Mr Jabiz apply flickr to the classroom?

I want to create a posts called, Making Publi Education Public-- which addresses the concern of internet safety and student privacy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Class notes and thoughts...

to me: Check EDM Blog for syllabus changes
--elluminate??? course in canada (five minute teaching goal) smartboard on the web
--five minute max project (3rd objective for the last half of the semester)
--explicit video project-- I haven't used any type of video making things yet-- this may be another good opp for me to experience something new
--edublogs-- that's the blog system that Jabiz uses
--vimeo, youtube alternative
--fairhope teacher does fascinating stuff with smartboard
--watch google wave
from Karadimos: NPR text books digital or virtual text books that you can subscribe to
--Free, chris anderson
--school who sold their entire library, electronic library
to me: crunchtime on youtube (from a movie making course) example for our project 11
-- free app for iphone... att, vonage verizon mifi?
--think about what implications teaching in public has...
from Dr. Strange: when we get to google earth in week ten-- go to ALICE CHRISTIE's site and read her instructions

web enhanced, signed up for all networks (picassa, igoogle, etc.)
help team- Fawcett & Capps
answering emails, commenting on blogs,
go to Financial Aid and get signed up for work-study

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blogs: an outlet for endless creativity

I was just winding down my day by using my google reader gadget on igoogle to catch up on what my education mentors had posted throughout the past few days when I stumbled across Mr. C's video response for the blog Dear Kaia. I deducted (incorrectly) from the pictures in Mr. C's Class video response that Kaia was a girl in the desert of a war-torn/ impoverished country whom someone (perhaps her adopted father or sponsor) had created a blog to tell her story. This peaked my interest because I try to become more aware of social injustice through out the world. Nonetheless, I started digging through Kaia's blog to be pleasantly surprised by a wonderful documentary of a little girl who, at the age of three, has already experienced more than most people do in a lifetime. Her parents have done an amazing job using technology to help creatively store memories from her youth.

Jabiz, Kaia's father, is a 7,8,and 9 year teacher of students at the Compass International School in Doha, Qatar. So far as I can tell, he uses his professional blog, Intrepid Teacher, as a journal for other curious minds and educators. I am eager to further explore his site and ask him questions about what it is like to teach over seas? How he manages his time so effectively between school and family? Why he teaches in Qatar and what are some of the biggest contrasts between American and Qatar schools? I am sure more questions and answers will come after I explore his blog.

I mostly just wanted to share this find with y'all because I am so excited about the opportunities that blogging can provide for us. Before investing myself in this class, I struggled to reconcile two dreams-- in short, exploring other cultures and teaching. Blogging has helped provide a bridge between two seemingly distant goals.

Here's the video that helped lead me to Kaia's Blog which helped to further open my eyes. Thank you Mr. C and Class!

Alice Christie and the ARGuing Project: Tower of Babel

This week, I explored Dr. Alice Christie's website. In it, I discovered a stew of resources that she has gathered throughout her forty-plus years of teaching. Her primary philosophies include: teaching teachers how to become lifelong learners and how to restructure their class space to encourage collaborative learning between themselves, their students, as well as other students and teachers world wide. Because technology has become such an enabling force for lifelong learners, her website focuses on incorporating technology in the class space. One of the most exciting things I came across was alternate game realities.

I followed link after link trying to learn more about ARGs (alternate game realities) and finally concluded that there is most certainly a novelty to the idea, but it just isn't teacher-time-budget friendly yet. The whole idea of an ARG is to create a collaborative game that connects a variety of classmates and resources in order to teach many things at once; most obviously the lesson-- albeit science, math, history, literature, art, music,.. It also teaches teamwork, how to reach out all over the world via internet, and how to use online tools. It also has the potential to get students to seek answers from libraries, museums, art gallas, community members, etc.

In my research, I came across the Tower of Babel ARG which was used by teachers across Europe to teach language education. The website I have linked shares the how's, what's, and testimonials from the teachers involved. I have posted below a conversation between one of the project's team members and myself so that you could see what is to come and how helpful they were.


I am a student of Elementary Education at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I currently volunteer in two 4th grade classrooms and I witness disinterest among my students as a result of "old school" teaching techniques. I am very interested in learning more about ARG's designed for the Elementary level, more specifically ages 9-12, so that I can implement new teaching strategies in my future class room.

How can I become involved in an ARG project? Can I expect to see one designed for my age level kids?

Thank you for your time,


P.S. You can also view my EDM 310 class blog at

Dear Anthony

Thank you for your interest.

The project has just completed its final meeting and we will be placing on our website a number of papers, including a methodology that explains how educators can use an ARG in their schools and an evaluation of the effectiveness of our ARG on student motivation.

We will also be placing a paper with a number of 'Use case scenarios' that will suggest how flexible ARGs can be and that they can be adapted to all levels of education and subjects, including inter-disciplinary.

The platform that we constructed for our project, on a Moodle platform, is being offered for use to educators. A reasonable familiarity of Moodle is extremely helpful.

The project team are also offering consulting services to schools to help them use ARGs in their schools.

I can be contacted for further information by email or Skype.

Best regards

Joel Josephson
Partner ARGuing project

I think it is an incredible idea, and I hope that an easy to use program is created for teachers like myself to start applying this revolutionary teaching style in our classrooms.

Mr. McClung: First Year Lessons

I really admired the way Mr. McClung began his blog post with a "stay postive" picture. I can only assume that his simple, yet effective way of setting the tone for his readers is telling of his creative teaching abilities.

His article emphasizes the need for first year teachers to keep our priorities in line-- open pathways for student learning. We must do this by keeping students engaged with exciting lessons, staying flexible if those lesson plans don't go exactly as planned, integrating technology into our learning experiences, setting examples for our students by looking for new ways to remain a lifelong learner, and using our communication skills to share exciting news, seek advice, and resolve problems.

All of Mr McClung's tips are helpful, but the one that stood out most to me was-- Be Flexible. I think that one of the important challenges I am going to face as a teacher is learning how to turn every stumbling block into a learning opportunity and doing it with a smile on my face. This is the most significant for me because I believe that mastering that skill will best help prepare our students for problems beyond academic walls. Moreover, teaching them how to master that skill is equally important in their growth.

1.) When I commented Mr. McClung's post, I left him a question, "Technologically speaking, what was your most useful tool as a first year teacher (software, freeware, smartboard,.. anything)?"

Virgil Griffith, Wikipedia, NPR

We have all heard of and likely used Wikipedia. In high school, it was great! It eliminated the need to read an entire book for english class, or spend hours in the library researching some biologist for science, or even learn about those eerie topics that are just to awkward to talk about with our parents. Yes, everything was great-- and then we got to college. Somewhere on every syllabus that we were handed on that first day it reads, "Do NOT use Wikipedia as a source for your work."

The warnings that we received came in response to the recent buzz that questioned the credibility of Wikipedia in comparison to a standard, print encyclopedia. Where does all that information come from? Well, Virgil Griffith of Caltech University has created
a Wikipedia Scanner that helps Wikipedia users recognize edits
that have been added or removed from a wiki and additionally, where they came from.

Griffith hopes his Wikipedia Scanner will help deter "vandalism" or biased edits from occurring.

After reading NPR's News Blog Who's Been Messin' with MY Wikipedia Entry, NPR's report Scanner Tracks Who's Changing What on Wikipedia, and the corresponding Morning Edition audio-show transcript-- I concluded that Wikipedia is what it is and it is up to its users to use it appropriately. Thompson, NPR's audio-show correspondent and WIRED representative says, "The line we sort of frequently use at Wired magazine is that Wikipedia is a hundred times the information as a regular encyclopedia at 90 percent the accuracy. And for most things that's pretty good."

1.) Before this assignment, I had never been exposed to WIRED. I am now enthralled by the site because it provides information on any and every piece of technology that I would ever be interested in-- and best of all, it does so in a language that I can understand!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Comments for Kids

Anthony said...

Wow, your story was great-- especially the Halloween timing! I am also new to vocaroo-- thanks for the introduction. Your story is a great combination of audio, video, and text! The moral to your story seems very clear, great moms and good friends are the best!
October 28, 2009 6:40 PM

To help me keep organized, I have compiled all of my reflections from C4K into one blog post. I have sorted them by the date that I commented. The Blogs I have found most helpful for me are available on the right side column of my blog, under "Important Links".

September 6, 2009 4:56

How creative! I hope to become a teacher one day very soon, and I hope that my students can express that talents as well as you have with your Humpty Dumpty story, even if it does have a sad ending. :-(
This is a great example of children combining narration with background music and most impressively, animation.

September 9, 2009 4:39
Keep up the good work guys! By looking at your blog posts, I have learned so much about what I want to include in my future classroom. Your creations have been very inspiring! Thank you!
One student leads her class in thanking the EDM 310 students for our input on their blogs. I think this is a great example of building confidence in students and developing student/teacher relationships across the globe!

September 11, 2009 4:47
This is phenomenal! Y'all are so fortunate to be able to spend so much time expressing your limitless creativity with your amazing talents. I was exceptionally impressed with your animation-- it makes me wish I could have gone to the assembly myself!
I am studying at the University of South Alabama to become an elementary teacher. I am grateful that Dr. Strange tipped me off to your website. Please continue to inspire!
This is reporting at its best. The student of Point England collaboratively reported on an assembly they had about storytelling. They digitally animated their experiences and compiled them into one storyline to create a more complete report of the event. HOW EXCELLENT!

September 11, 2009 4:52
Congratulations! Netball looks a lot like basketball. I have played all my life, but I can't imagine playing without a backboard!
Great video April, the voice report flowed nicely into your background music.

This videocast opened up a whole new realm of ideas for possible implications in my future career. Most significantly, I think it would be fun to sponsor a journalism club that reported anything going on in our community that effects the student population: sports, festivals, theater, or academic competitions (geography bees, spelling bees, scholars bowl, etc.). They could also highlight community volunteers, exceptional students (character, grades, etc), student clubs, and club leaders. The student journalists could also interview our school leaders for updates about what may be coming to our school next (teacher layoffs, better cafeteria food, new funding, new technology, etc.).

September 16, 2009 9:15
Phenomenal! Each time I run across a blog like yours I become more and more inspired, motivated, and excited to become a teacher! Currently, I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am taking EDM 310 (an educational media course) with Dr. Strange in order to attain my degree in elementary education.
I just wanted to thank your class for giving me such great insight to Roman architecture, Julius Casar, Cleopatra VII and gladiators. Your narrators were so expressive and clear! I especially appreciated the transitions, subtitles, and background music. Keep using your creative talents– y’all are fantastic!

As a future teacher, I do have a question about your scripting. If you have time, please email me at or comment my blog. I would like to learn what method you used to assemble your script, select your narrators, and how much time it took to create a post like this. Thanks so much!

This comment was especially fruitful for me because the coordinating teacher of the class blog, Mrs. Carrie contacted me and answered all of my questions. She was very prompt and helpful. I eagerly await her class's next post so that I can see some more great work, and remain in touch with her, who I have found to be such a great learning resource.

October 2, 2009 6:26
Hi, my name is Anthony and I am a student of the University of South Alabama where I am studying to become an elementary teacher. I just wanted to say that this is so impressive. I wish I had the creative talents that Mr. Stu Duvall shared with y'all. Thanks for sharing his visit, it has my brain reeling for possible guest speakers for my future classroom here in Alabama!

I really appreciate the way Mr. Stu Duvall connected art, literature, and music to entertain the student of Point England. What a great way to teach students how to apply brainstorming, teamwork, and improvisation to create. I can't help but think that Sir Ken Robinson would appreciate how the Point clear students were able to use art and music alongside their writing and reading skills.