Digitally Exploring Oregon’s Native Plants

For this task, I chose to collect public domain sources related to the native trees and plants of Oregon.  After fiddling around on Microsoft OneNote for a few minutes, I felt as though I was completely incapable of operating a computer.  There were so many toolbars and sidebars that I had no idea where to go or what to do in order save my sources.  I decided to switch over to Google Keep instead.  I found Keep to be fairly easy to use.  The user interface of Keep was a lot simpler and didn’t have nearly as many options as OneNote, which I personally find to be a good thing.  I downloaded Keep as an extension to my Google Chrome browser.  Every time I found a source that I was interested in saving, I simply clicked on the Keep logo in my browser’s toolbar and a link to the webpage was saved in Keep.

I found a few of the public domain search tools to be very helpful.  Flickr was a great source for finding images.  It was easy to search for images and identify the type of license associated with each image.  My only problem with Flickr was that many of the images were incorrectly labelled by the person who posted them.  For example, I found this image of a lady fern when I was searching for a sword fern.

I’m not a plant expert, but I was able to identify several other images on both Flickr and Google Images Creative Commons Search that were incorrectly labelled.  This could potentially be a problem for students who are researching native plants for a school project.  Incorrectly labelled images might cause confusion about what plants look like.  On the other hand, it might be good practice for students to filter through information and identify which sources are reliable.

 

Image credit to vladeb

Creative Commons Quest

My AP Lit students have a Chaucer unit coming up, so I thought this week I could use the Creative Commons search opportunity to gather some resources.  I was honestly pretty unfocused about it so I’m not sure it will all be helpful, but the process of gathering data was super easy and I think I found some things I can actually use.

The Creative Commons search tool was great because of the quick access to different types of media. I found a few classic images of Chaucer/depictions of the travelers on Flickr. There were also a lot of photos of a boxer and a chameleon, ostensibly named Chaucer. Cute, but not exactly what I was looking for. I found more useful images on Google images. The Internet Archive was the most useful resource for this dusty old topic. I found PDF versions of the Middle English and translated versions of the text, which is really useful because we have less than a classroom set of books.  I also found an audiobook version, which, while terribly voiced, could be really helpful for struggling readers and my busy seniors in general who are traveling to work etc. I wish I could have found better video sources, but I see how it would have been easy to do so if my topic was something else. Overall, it’s nice to use things that I know I have permission to use.

I chose OneNote to store these resources. I found the program perfectly serviceable and easy to navigate, but not particularly exciting. I like that organization was really clear with the different sections, and that you could add different file types etc, but it would take some getting used to for me to curate things this way. I get the point of having everything in one place and accessible from any device, but in my world my devices are more reliable than my internet connectivity, so I need to change my living situation and my mindset before something like this would be fully useful to me.

Here’s a link to what I came up with.

 

Image Credit: The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer edited by FS Ellis, Kelmscott Press, 1896 by Kotumi_ on Flickr

 

A Little Obsessed with Hippos

As I already have experience with OneNote, I decided to explore Google Keep to record my notes for this assignment. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to use! I chose to look at hippos and their environment for this assignment because they are one of my favorite animals.

Google Keep was very user friendly and easy to navigate. You can also customize the layout to be a grid of posts or list in order to fit your task. When uploading an image, it automatically recognized the link and attached it for quick access on each post. I thought that was convenient because you don’t even have to open the whole note, but can quickly select the link below the title. The notes are fun because they can be highlighted in different colors for organization or just a pleasant appearance. You can also make checklists, set reminders, and pin important notes to the top of the page. I prefer the grid format as it makes me feel like I’m creating my own Pinterest board. You can also create links on posts that connect to other note pages you have created.

For students or teachers, it seems like Google Keep would be great for sharing ideas and collaborating because there is a quick button to add anyone. I also believe this would be great for students researching for a project. They could save images or notes with quick links to the online source to refer to. They could pin a checklist of the criteria to the top and check things off as they find the information as well. Overall, Google Keep is user friendly and could be incorporated into the classroom for both students and teachers.

 

Image: Hippo by Noel Reynolds link

Feature Image: Hippo by Andrew Mason link

Secured!! The Captured Beauty!!!

Captured! The Beauty of Guam!!

I used Microsoft OneNote to store my collection for this activity.  In my honest opinion, OneNote was the easiest storage-maker(?) to use.  When you open the application, up at the top of the page, in big letters, are the options of what you can do within OneNote.  Insert a picture, take a picture from your camera, insert a link for a video or audio, and so on.  It was just that easy.  I mainly used pictures for my collection though.  Also, it seems if you downloaded any fonts onto your computer to mess around when using Microsoft apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.), they are available to you on OneNote.  Sadly, you guys cannot see it unless you have the font in your device too.  But, I will attach a picture of what I was seeing as I made my collection!

Sorry about the quality!  Happens when you take a picture of a screen.  But, yeah, the font is called “Burton’s Nightmare”, which is the font of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.  Awesome movie!  Recommend watching it then re-watching it every Halloween and Christmas!

I wish I was introduced to this earlier! It is fun and easy to use!  It is not that I am afraid to try new things, but that I am just too comfortable (*lazy*) with stuff I am familiar with.  I already have some pages (note sheets?) saved on OneNote to be used to help me with my student-teaching so we can see that I plan on using this app more in the future and, hopefully, for a long time too.

Featured Image: Island of Guam

How to Satisfy Hunger by Looking at Pictures!

How does a human fulfill their hunger by looking at pictures? By looking at pictures of New Orleans cuisine of course! For this task, I pretended that I was collecting data for a presentation on New Orleans food and all that jazz (HA, get it? Jazz! Right). Anyway, I wanted to get pictures first so I went on the Flickr/creative commons search engine and started typing away. My first search was “red beans and rice” where I found a plethora of pictures that fit what I needed. Then, I searched “gumbo” and something strange happened: pictures of the food gumbo did not come up, but rather the word “gumbo” written in graffiti on random dilapidated walls. I had a hard time sifting through these, or finding an option to allow me to narrow my search result. Anyway, after enough scrolling I found an adequate picture of gumbo.

I put all of the pictures I was going to use for my hypothetical presentation on OneNote. And boy oh boy, the frustration of inept user friendliness in anything Microsoft shone through it–at least it is consistent with all other Microsoft  designs. I did not understand the purpose of such an app. Am I to take my life notes on it? Take school notes? I appreciate its function to take in pictures and how easy it is to write under them (which is how I sourced all the pictures I used), but I just don’t see its necessity when planning such projects.

I really enjoyed the internet archive search bar. I think that will be incredibly useful to students who need to find information that may be outdated or thought to be off the internet. In my opinion, all of the tools in the “digital hygiene” section are great and they are able to teach students how to properly do research. If a student is able to master all of these techniques (as well as cite the original author properly) then they will undoubtedly be able to conduct research on a project/paper that they need to complete.

All in all, I liked this exercise because it forced me to surf search engines that I would have never gone on before. I love the “digital hygiene” and think that all of the links in it are essential in teaching digital literacy.

Picture: “Char-grilled Oysters” by Robert Kawasaki

Discovering Antibiotic Resistance through OneNote

When starting this assignment I thought about what note taking tool I should use and immediately decided on OneNote. It seemed an obvious choice to me, because I am a student at the University of Portland I have free access to OneNote. I looked it over when UP first did the diabolical switch from Google to Microsoft that most students I talked to were so fearful of (What about Google Docs they said?!?). However I still find myself being very much a traditionalist as a student. When I’m in a classroom I like a pad of paper and a pen in front of me, not a laptop. I find that if I type it just does not filter through my brain the same way and I end up leaving the class having gained nothing. I need to physically write to learn. So I quickly tossed aside the idea of using OneNote.


This assignment gave me the chance to give it a second look in a slightly different capacity.

And this time I enjoyed using OneNote. I still would not use it as a student in a classroom because I know myself enough to know if I’m going to learn and remember something I have to handwrite it. But I liked it for the purpose of a project. It gave me the space to put my notes in more of a free format then Microsoft Word does which was satisfying. I could start typing anywhere on the page. It would embed the video links and actually allow me to watch them from the page. I could organize the material however I chose, and then reorganize it when I actually had my assignment figured out. I like using OneNote and could see myself using it for planning lessons or future projects. Its nice to keep everything in one spot but be able to have multiple pages and separate notebooks.


Students in classrooms now are fairly digitally literate, and might not have the same issues I do with needing paper and pencil. I could see in a 1-to-1 school having a class use OneNote to take notes, work on projects or even as a study tool. I could also see the potential to create lessons on it, share it with each student and then have them actually interact with the notebook and return it with completed “homework” or activities that were outlined. This would have to be in a technology able class but that is where I see most schools heading towards so it is a good idea to keep in the back of your pocket.


I would be interested in using other notetaking applications to see what the benefits and weaknesses of each are but I enjoyed using OneNote and could see its applications in the classroom, plus I always have a enlightening time when I’m able to research a scientific topic that interests me. I hope you learn something when looking at my notes on antibiotic resistance!

Antibiotic Resistance pdf

Image: Ully Beil

Ways Working at a 1-to-1 iPad School Isn’t Great: A Series of Complaints Despite Privilege

Hey whatta ya know, I’m actually in this class!

At my current placement at Seton Catholic Vancouver, we’re in a new building with new technology that only the computer science teacher/IT guy can touch some of the time. I’m actually barred out of some of the stuff in the multimedia podium.

That being said, the school is very technologically literate and has 1-to-1 iPads. At the moment, some classrooms are being fitted with Apple TV’s and each podium is outfitted with a DocCam and HDMI port to the projector. In terms of software, teachers use the gambit of Google apps on the Apple devices, and most materials are distributed via Google Classroom.

As an English teacher, what I want to know is how to integrate technology into the classroom to complement the more subjective aspects of the field. I want something more beneficial to the students beyond the current use of their iPads as dictionaries and thesauri, or to assign something so mundane as a “blog” from the perspective of a character from Moby Dick.

 

Continue reading “Ways Working at a 1-to-1 iPad School Isn’t Great: A Series of Complaints Despite Privilege”

Life in a 1-to-1 Classroom

Currently in my placement, there is a heavy emphasis on technology in the classroom.  Due to a series of grants that the teachers at my school got together and wrote, each student is fortunate enough to have their own Chromebook, every classroom has a Smartboard, a microphone system, and a document camera, and for the teacher’s own professional development, the school has a Swivl for the teachers to use to film themselves teaching.  They have had PD’s where the teachers have worked on building Smartboard lessons, and putting together Google and BrainPop classrooms.

I have definitely seen many different ways of integrating technology throughout the building, across grade levels, and curriculum.  Some teachers are not sure how to use it, or due to technical difficulties, are wary of planning to use it, because if it does not work, they feel like they cannot rely on it the same way you can rely on a piece of paper and a pencil and a book to teach students math and reading.  I think that’s one thing that I want to get out of this class – more reliable ways to use technology than the ways that have been given to the teachers thus far that we can begin to integrate into our classrooms.  Unfortunately, there are some barriers that we just can’t overcome, like subscription fees, or unexpected wifi outages, but I want to be able to push through those barriers and show the other members of the faculty the valuable resource that technology can be for our students.

I would love to begin using technology to network with other professionals in the field of education, and to build those connections that I can keep using throughout my career as an educator.  I think my goal for EdTech for the next three years would be to overcome my fear of using it, and to know the ins and outs of the technology resources that the various curriculums we use are giving us.

I used to have high hopes for technology in the classroom but…

When starting student teaching in the fall, I had high hopes for using technology as a resource in my classroom. At first, we used computers several times in the classroom for research, interactive labs, and other types of activities. I originally thought using computers would be an easy way for students to work at home if they needed to, but it turns out there were too many students who didn’t have access to computers outside of school. I also started to notice how computers were affecting my students’ abilities to engage and learn from the activities. With technology, my students seem to get off task easily, and they do not gain much content knowledge from the activities. They are all really good students who can focus on an activity in the classroom, but as soon as I give them a computer they basically just stop learning. Since this time, I’ve been focusing on only using technology for my slideshow presentations, and I’ve just been letting my students perform hands-on activities to learn. I haven’t given up on technology in the classroom, but I’m stumped as to how I can use it to help my students without losing their engagement in a lesson. This is what I’d like to get out of the edtech pilot course. I want to find reliable and engaging uses for technology that students can use in the classroom.   It would be great to find tools for students to use outside of the classroom, and I’m sure those will be helpful in the future, but at the moment I have too many students without access.

Personally, I’ve been using Google drive for my slideshows and for communicating with other teachers. For each unit, we share possible activities and handouts in a folder to access, as well as share links to videos or short clips to show students. As a school, we use Google spreadsheets to record low grades of students with other teachers who have the same student. This way we can see if they are only performing low in a single class, or if they have a behavioral issue that is affecting their grade in all of their classes. Teachers can also share strategies to help a student, or at least ideas they have tried. This way all of the teachers of a student who is struggling are communicating to help them get back on track in school. We also use Synergy for reporting grades so that both students and their parents can see how they’re doing online at anytime. Students with internet access at home can check regularly check their progress and see what they are missing as well. One nice thing is you can add a comment to an assignment if a student turned it in late or incomplete so they understand why points may have been marked off.

As you can tell, my use of technology in the classroom is minimal, but I would love to find ways to expand my use if it will really benefit student learning in my classroom.

 

Image: Science Class by Lokesh Dhakar link

Expectations, Realities, Possibilities

While my personal relationship with technology could be considered contentious, I do not want to carry that attitude (or my bad luck in ending up with manufacturer defective technology 80% of the time) into the classroom. I understand both the need for and vitality of finding new ways to engage students with technology as it becomes more deeply integrated into our schools and daily lives. I find the potential for collaboration, project based learning, and creative problem solving through technology very exciting.

My current use of and access to edtech is pretty limited and traditional. I regret to say that my daily use of technology is pretty much showing videos and presentations and using the document camera. I know there are ways to be creative with English and technology, but without everyday access to computers it is easy to fall into doing things the paper/pencil/book traditional way. There are several computer labs at my school, but there aren’t any iPads or laptops or Chromebook carts that can be brought into the classrooms. Most of the time we can go to a computer lab, but there isn’t guaranteed access if the teacher doesn’t book the day.  If they do get access, students may have to use different computer labs if the teacher can’t book the same one several days in a row, which can cause some confusion.  Sometimes it can be good to get students out of their routine and into new spaces, but it would be more efficient to bring the technology to our space so we could rearrange the room into table groups  to work collaboratively and have easy access to classroom materials. Teachers all receive a Macbook, have a document camera in their rooms, and are able to check out things like cameras and recording devices when needed, but that’s about it. 

Despite a lack of daily access to technology, there is a push from the administration to be as paperless as possible. They encourage teachers to use programs like Google Classroom for assignment submissions and sending information to kids and parents. They are no longer investing in scantrons, so they want teachers using the testing features of Synergy in their place. This is a good idea for multiple choice tests in theory, because the students get immediate feedback and the program adds the scores from  right into the grade book. However, it is difficult to solely implement those methods without 1:1 access to tech. Students have to use personal phones or computers, so students who don’t have them are at a disadvantage. Plus,  it makes it difficult for teachers to monitor what they’re doing and muddles the already unclear cell phone policies.  

I’d like to learn how to more creatively use the resources I have available to me, as well as understand a little more about what possibilities exist outside of those resources. I want to be able to function in the tech landscape of whatever school I end up in, and use what I have to enhance the language arts experience. I also hope to learn  a bit about how to be an advocate for equality of access to technology–for example, how would I find grant money, and how do I make myself or my school a competitive candidate for that money? I’m excited for this course and the open-ended possibilities we can explore together.

Photo Credit: The great growling engine of change- technology. Alvin Toffler by  Kate Ter Haar on Flickr

 

Dinosaurian Technology Use in Math – Time to Evolve

My placement has notably little technology available, at least compared to those of my peers.  Technology includes the teacher’s computer, an Elmo document camera, a projector, and a set of calculators.  Yet I cannot imagine needing much more for this level of math – which includes Algebra I and Algebra II.

As a teacher, I use Google Docs to create and store daily warm-ups and exit quizzes, using the projector to display these problems on the front board.  This is certainly helpful, not only to allow me to organize, update, and plan for each class, but also to be able to present more graph-oriented or visual problems that would take a deal of time to copy onto the board.  Nearly daily, I also use the document camera when I am teaching lessons.  I tend to prefer this method since I can face the class as I instruct, rather than writing on a board and then turning to speak.  Another benefit of this method is having a written copy of the exact lesson I present that I can later show students who missed something or who were absent previously.  Likewise, it allows me to keep a detailed record of how exactly I went about teaching a particular lesson, since this material is not lost once it is erased.  Additionally, this year I have frequently used Desmos Online Calculator to create graphs for my Algebra II class and give students the opportunity to visualize shifts in graphs.  Finally, I have seen my CT create YouTube videos of abbreviated lessons to support students who are frequently absent, have language barriers, or need to hear an explanation one more time.  I view this to be tantamount to the Algebra II class, given that this class does not have a textbook, so students can then rely on something more than just any notes they take in class.

At this level of math, when students are still learning the fundamentals – which admittedly have the propensity to be a bit dry and boxy – basic technology suffices.  Students can focus on learning calculator functions for graphs, but otherwise stick to the concrete, straightforward concepts that are usually best solved with pencil and paper.  While I have seen teachers use online quizzing platforms for fun class competitions or Smart Boards to record student work on the “white board”, I do not see either of these functions as essential or possible solely through technology.

In this age of the ubiquitous use of technology, it seems odd to dismiss its applicability to the classroom.  It can provide new and exciting possibilities for presenting math.  Yet I find it hard to implement creative lessons for math while still covering all of the standards in the given time.  Thus I find myself using only bare bones technology to support straightforward lessons.  I perceive a constant clash between getting lost in the wonderful, creative, exploratory elements of math (which technology could support) and sticking strictly to the schedule of more down to earth, black and white, repetitious elements.  The more I think about it, the more it seems that technology use in math should increase as students move past the fundamentals – perhaps in Calculus or even beyond.  This math is often more abstract or more applied, both of which can be supported by programs and graphics on technology that do not subtract from students’ focus on the crux of the material.  I remain dubious of heavy use of technology in lower levels of math, though.  Perhaps, through this course I will open my eyes to new possibilities availed by technology and discover more of a middle road approach to using technology strategically and in a manner that richens learning.

Image: Dinosaur by Thomas Hawk – Link

The Daily Life of Jeremy Pingul and “Educational” Technology

The EdTech equipment in my classroom are a projector, a document camera, and a Chromebook cart. Other classrooms have the same equipment (except for the Chromebook cart), but some of them are equipped with Smart boards.

Every day, I mainly use the projector and document camera to teach in my classroom. It has been extremely useful in showing everyone where we are at in the lesson (freeze frame), in sharing each other’s works, and in giving more zoomed-in examples to see. The only real difficulty I am currently having is having to line up my documents (worksheets or textbook) with the camera. The camera is set at an angle so that it can fit on the table along with the projector, attached monitor screen, and student “cold-calling” cups. Also, it does not help when the sun’s rays create a glare on the documents that it can be hard to read sometimes.

When I or the students need to write something while in front of the classroom, we would either write on the projected “picture” or on the empty space next to the projection. Writing on the projection gives students a clear example of what is happening next in the lesson, but it can sometimes be tricky to read with the bright lighting of the classroom and the possible glare between white board and projector. Writing on the empty space next to the projection is useful because it is hardly affected by the problems above, but it can be quite tedious in having to switch between pointing at the projection and what is being written.

The Chromebooks are used for class activities such as classwork (ex.: Desmos), Khan Academy, and Coding. The first activity comes up every once in a while when we think that the lesson could benefit from an online classroom. Right now, we have been using Desmos the most. Khan Academy is a classroom activity that we do on the last day of every week (mainly Friday) and we assign targets for the students to achieve and practice what they have learned and are currently learning. You can consider it a class lesson since the students are on it for the entire day. Coding is an elective for all middle-schoolers that my Cooperating Teacher is teaching in 2nd and 3rd Quarter so all of the students in the classroom must have a Chromebook on them to do the work assigned.

Also, the Chromebooks allow the students to see their progress reports and grades throughout the year, which allows them to talk with their teachers about what they are seeing. Mostly about how can they bring up their grades or concerns about how they got the grade they got.

And that is how technology is being used at my placement.

 

Image Credit: daily routine