Media Messages: What Are They Really Saying?

Pretend you’re a fourth grade student and click here for a flipped lesson on media messages!

This is my first attempt at a flipped lesson. It’s not perfect- I recorded a separate audio track for each slide, which in turn has to be clicked manually in order to hear. To be honest though, if I was a student, I would probably prefer it that way. I have tried watching tutorial videos on YouTube and end up frustrated because I need to rewind but can’t find the exact spot I wanted. 

The idea behind this lesson is that it would replace both guided and independent practice in class, allowing for more discussion and project-based learning. The lesson serves as a part of my Integrated Technology Unit Plan, and would most likely be embedded between lessons as an out of class homework assignment. 

In the lesson itself, I don’t give a whole lot of detailed instructions for the independent practice; hypothetically, if this lesson were actually something I used in the classroom, then we would have done several lessons like it before, and the students would know that all of their responses and discussions go into a separate Google Doc. 

Comments and advice are, as always, welcome! 🙂

ToolZeit – Skip Math!

ToolZeit – Skip Math!

I learned two very important things while watching this ToolZeit podcast about a game called Skip Math. The first thing I learned was how to play the game, some pros and cons, and suggestions for its use in the classroom. The second thing I learned is that I do not like podcasts with video! I was incredibly distracted throughout the entire podcast- I found it impossible to follow what the hosts were saying while something different was happening on the screen. For example, one of the hosts was introducing the basics of the game, but what I was seeing on the screen was the other host taking a screenshot of himself and manipulating the image into an avatar. 

I enjoy audio podcasts, particularly sports-related podcasts, and I could probably handle a video podcast if the hosts used still images over their narration when they were off-screen (think Reading Rainbow, when the kids recommend the books at the end). I realize that not everyone will respond to video podcasts like I did; in fact, I would be highly surprised if I was not in the minority here. I watched a few other ToolZeit videos and I thought it was a great concept- essentially, they select education-related apps or gadgets and review them on camera. Their reviews are comprehensive and helpful, and the hosts are fairly natural in front of the camera, but I just couldn’t get past the distraction of having two different things going on simultaneously. For now, I think I’ll stick to audio podcasts.

Evolution of Get Lucky

I heard this cover on the radio this morning, and I absolutely love it. This YouTube artist has taken one of the singles from Daft Punk’s latest album and remixed it throughout the decades. He does a great job of keeping the spirit of the original tune, while blending elements of different 20th century pop music styles and themes. To hear the original, click here.

While I was listening to this song, I got an idea for a class project. In a nutshell, students take a specific historical event and imagine how it would have happened in other historical contexts. For example, how would the Founding Fathers have gone about writing the Declaration of Independence in the Roaring 20’s? Or amidst the political and social whirlwind of the 1960s? It would be a challenge for students to reevaluate their knowledge of not only the historical event itself, but also the time period in which they are placing it. Obviously we already had a country and a Constitution and a President in the 1960s, so what elements of history would need to be rewritten to fit their story?

I could see this project being done in the upper elementary grades or in an English or History class at the secondary level. Students could break into groups, script and storyboard, and create a video as a final project. A rubric outlining the specific historical research that must be included would be provided, and could even be created collaboratively between the teacher and the students.

What do you think, Internet? Have you seen this (or something similar to this) done before in a classroom? Can you think of any other fun ways to combine history, english, and technology?

My first ever attempt at photo editing

My first ever attempt at photo editing

Try to contain your jealousy. I know, these skills are unparalleled. Especially the horse.

I just discovered a photo editing website called Pixlr. The site was initially overwhelming, but my coping mechanism for situations like that is to find a few steps that I can do well, then repeat them over and over until they are second nature. At this point, I can “lasso” a chunk of an image, copy it, and paste it onto another background. I did this for several pictures similar to this one, and when I started on Zorro, I decided to go a step further and experiment with actual drawing- hence the horse.

If you squint your eyes and pretend Zorro has a back brace and the horse is wearing a black bag over his head, then it almost looks like a legitimate piece of photo editing. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

We’ve got to be careful

“We’ve got to be careful how we use the word “addiction” because it really is a term that’s used to police our culture. So a kid who stays up late reading a book is rewarded and recognized as having had dedication. A kid who stays up late trying to beat a video game is called “addicted.” A kid who spends months getting ready for a school play or a football game is seen as having shown real dedication and accomplishment. A kid who spends that same time working with his guild in “World of Warcraft” is thought to have a problem. So, I think there’s a double standard here, and we’re using this term “addiction” to refer to things we don’t value, but that may in fact be deeply valuable for students and young people in their lives.”

This is a quote from the PBS program entitled “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century”. The program introduced viewers to five examples of how technology is being used in classrooms across the country. One example is an “augmented reality game”, which I will reflect upon in more detail in another post, but I just had to share this quote. It really resonated with me for two reasons.

First and foremost, I have a significant other who spends a lot of his free time playing online computer games with friends and family. Before I met him, I knew very little about “gaming”, especially computer gaming, and I was of the opinion that they were pretty much a waste of time. After several years of watching him play, listening to him explain certain aspects of the games, even attempting to play a game or two myself (we won’t be going into detail on that one), my opinion has changed dramatically. These games are not simply point-and-click; they require the acquisition of keyboard skills, time management, and problem solving.

Secondly, I was one of those kids in high school who spent months getting ready for a school play and, like I said, I felt rather disdainful towards gaming in general. I see now how unfair of me it was to pass judgment on those who chose a different way to spend their free time. Many of these games are team-based, and each member of the team contributes something to the task at hand- much like I and my friends did when we were involved in a play.

If we are going to get students excited about using games or apps or any other kind of technology in the classroom, then we must first show respect for the ways they use technology in their own homes.

Giving Reluctant Students a Voice

Article link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9i74OQgM5occGFxVVpUbU1ucG8/edit

Although I do agree that using a class blog, particularly one with the option to post anonymously, can be helpful for students who do not speak up, a part of me worries that we are just hammering one more nail into the coffin of conversation and face-to-face interaction. We already do so much of our communication through typing instead of talking, and today’s students cannot even recall a time in which smart phones, social media, and Photobooth did not exist. True, we can all agree that it’s never fun to finish a lecture or a lesson and receive nothing more than a shrug or a furrowed brow from every student you call on for questions or comments, but if we are going to integrate technology such as this idea of a class blog, then it needs to be one component within a larger scope of participation.