The Diary of a Technology Supporter

Technology being used in an elementary school

Party Discussion May 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — msmithpds @ 4:18 am

I just attended a party where the majority of all the mini conversations were either about Facebook or Twitter. I sat at and ate with a Sociologist High School teacher who grumbled about how his teens were always needing bathroom breaks to go text a friend about the latest breakup discussion that was going on. He talked about how interfering this was in his class, how disconnected the kids were, how they have lost the ability to focus on their learning because of how the Internet kept their social lives going on. I was so mad at how he doesn’t get the newest, most exciting trend that is going on in education! If he complained about how technology interfered with his teaching, how come he can’t see that he should tap into this new revolution to enhance his teaching! I asked if cell phones were allowed at his school. No, of course not, but they all have them, but aren’t supposed to have them on. So, if they have them, and they really have them already on, why not use them? Have the kids continue conversations going on in the classroom by texting their ideas to sites like Twitter, Yabber, Edmodo. I have seen where a teacher, in a lecture based, large classroom used cell phones to allow all to share ideas. They allowed others, outside of the class, to chime in their thoughts on the topic. It allowed kids who weren’t the self-confident ones to vocalize their thoughts through the use of technology. I have seen, first hand, a teacher whose students were irresponsible, lazy, disconnected to the old fashion 20th Century teaching style – tap into this new revolutionary style of teaching and grab her students interest. The students blogged, connected with other classrooms, created multimedia presentations, used free tools off of the net and, in turn, all 70+ students scored in the 90 percentile or higher on their writing exam. Their scores offset the national norm for the Independent Schools writing exam. The kids worked at night, and on the weekend on their assignments. If teachers, like the High School teacher I conversed with tonight, don’t see the worth of that these technology tools have and can’t adjust to this new revolution going on in the classroom then I feel sorry for the students and ashamed that educators, who chose to enter a career to capture students’ interest to teach and instill idea of loving learning, are working in this field. Teachers need more professional development in this new revolution. They need to understand and be made to grasp this new era by administrators, parents, and students. It would benefit them, the students, the classroom management, the interest in learning, and so much more. I am just baffled and disappointed.

 

Teaching Movies May 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — msmithpds @ 5:16 pm

I have just been told that I will be teaching a 9 week movie making course that meets for 35 minutes, every six days, to 6th graders. They all will have take home MacBooks with built-in iSight cameras, iTunes, Internet access, Photobooth, Notebook recorder (for the ability to record their desktops), and iMovie 09. And I can not tie this class in with a particular subject because core teachers have to have the same lesson plans and activities for each group of students. I will be seeing no more than 20 boys at a time and am not sure if I will end up seeing the whole 6th grade class during the year.

So what type of movie should we make? I want it to be fun, a movie that they will enjoy creating, but creating it with a purpose. Of course I could do the “All About Me” movie, or one about their family. I can’t base it on a book, because I don’t know one that they all know, though they could make a movie out of a 1st grader book – or something along those lines. I can’t make the take home work to intense because I don’t think they’ll be getting a “real” grade on this course. The boys have too much on their plate with homework and sports anyway.

Do I focus it on scripting out the movie too? In 9 weeks – 45 days, possibly 7 meetings what could I get done? Gosh, I wish I could work with a core teacher on the purpose of the class. I hate wasting people’s time. I guess this is to be a “fun” techie class. Please help me brainstorm.

 

Memory Movie Mash Up May 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — msmithpds @ 2:32 am

I just presented at my school’s newly revamped Award’s Day program. The heads of the school decided to move away from the awards part of the program and transformed it into a year end celebration. It was pretty neat. First of all it was only for the 3 highest grades at the school. One teacher from each grade presented a 5 minute speech on the fun learning times that they went through. Then graduating class, who were the only ones really given “awards” to, received their recognition. The top two grades, each as a grade, then recognized the students making honor roll. Then I got to show my memory mash up movie. Once the video was done, the graduating class lead everyone in our school’s song, and were then dismissed for their last recess. Everyone clapped as they walked down the aisle. Once they were gone the 5th graders moved into the 6th graders seats, and the 4th graders moved into the 5th graders seat. They were cheering for themselves. 🙂

And now more on the movie and what I did to make it.
Photos: (very time consuming – really need teachers to send pictures throughout the year, but only 1 or 2 of the best for each time they take pictures of an event
1. Collected photos of the students from the website gallery and teachers.
2. Imported and sorted into 1 album in iPhoto.
3. Created a slideshow and timed it. Then I gasped in horror when I realized this was going to be too long. So I then deleted many photos.

GarageBand:
1. Created 3 different podcast tracks and individually recorded 4th, 5th, and 6th graders reflecting on their favorite time during the school year. (Used an external microphone, explained to students to speak loud and clear, recorded in a quiet room, stop/started each student to be able to identify the different recordings.)
2. On each recording I inserted chapter markers and labeled them with the memory student reflected on.
3. If memory was stated more than once I picked best reflection and deleted the rest.
4. Removed all mumbles.
5. Removed long pauses.
6. Squashed recordings back into one piece and shared to iTunes.
7. Created memory mash up file in Garageband and imported the 3 different grade level reflections. (one per line)
8. Split each memory back in to individual pieces.
9. Mixed them up so not to have all one grade together.
10. Set 3 different audio volumes, moving LOUD recordings to track with lower volume, quiet recording to high volume, and kept good quality at a medium level.

(At this point I realized how long my audio file was, 7 minutes 22 seconds. My goal was to get 5 to 7 minutes. Next year 10 minutes would be better. The pictures went by too fast.)

I then went to http://freeplaymusic.com/ and found a nice instrumental piece to use as background music. I downloaded this to iTunes and then inserted it into Garageband.

11. I had to loop part of the song to stretch it out so that it fit the length of the student’s recordings.
12. With my wonderfully, musically talented husband’s help I changed all vocal tracks to male voice, boosted the bass and added (I believe) reverb. Then he did some magic to the background music – and made it come out of one speaker to really give it a background feel.
13. Messed with some p’s that were to POPPED in the tracks by lowering just that part of the audio track.
14. Exported the final file to iTunes.

Returned to iPhoto:
1. Moved pictures around in a random order, keeping grades not clumped together, and same subjects moved around.
2. Created a slideshow – setting it Dissolve, fit the music, remove Ken Burns (because it could cut of heads), and selected DVD screen. I also set the music to be my song that I had imported into iTunes.

After doing this I had to go back and edit more pictures because my audio repeated.

I then exported my slideshow to a movie, and threw it into Keynote for the final presentation! Here it is on vimeo where I am sharing it so that others may see it and I do not have to deal with families wanting a copy.

http://www.vimeo.com/4752100

 

Wanting to do the Right Way the First Time May 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — msmithpds @ 7:26 pm

A few of my teachers began to blog this year. What became instantly confusing was the different programs that the teachers were using to blog.  Also, the kids began to compile a list of usernames and passwords longer than my own list!  So as this year winds down I am putting thought now into next year.  I envision my students to blog, for my teachers to blog, for my students to blog reflections to my teachers’ posts and by using tags have their post tie back to the teachers.  So now the dilema…What program to use?  I would like to poll my audience.  So what do you think?