Friday, October 30, 2009

Power Point Re Vamp

Here is a partially complete improved power point presentation

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Science Screencast

After exhilarating success with a foray into document camera techno-land, I was ready to attempt the long sought after mission of using notebook video capture software. My plan was to create a short clip that could be used to walk the kids through logging on to our FOSS Science website.

In the past, I used handout sheets of paper and also my smartboard where i would talk the class through the process. This was usually a dull and repetitive affair (for me as well as the kids!).

The 2.0 approach would hopefully make my life easier, as well as the process easier for the kids to follow along. It will certainly save on having to make, print, and store hard copies of the instructions.

The process itself was relatively painless. In quick time, with one or two trial runs, I was able to create a resource to be used next time our class logs onto FOSS.

I can see several potential pitfalls of this method, and the next time I use it I will be looking forward to see where those glitches are, and if I can iron them out in subsequent improved versions. Undoubtedly, the usual gamut of computer/kid issues will throw spanners into the works. I am sure I will have to address parts of my presentation (for example speed of delivery)in order to refine for it for the future.

Watch this space for the run-down on the result.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Final Project

My final project for this course was to utilize an area of technology I had yet to put to use. My document camera has been a wonderful piece of equipment that has been in operation from day one this year. However, the only way it had been incorporated into lessons was having kids show their working/thinking/reasoning, or having me use it to illustrate a technique (live) for completing a task.

We are teaching science this year through the FOSS science system, which is an inquiry-based approach with lots of hands-on activities for the kids. My hope was to be able to take advantage of the technology here and make short video clips to demonstrate the method for experimental set-ups.

There are tremendous advantages to this. Many lab practicals are full of steps and details and it can be a challenge to ensure that the students understand all the steps and end up with the correct set up. Teaching multiple classes means saying the same thing over and over - in the case of grade 7 and 8 science teachers at ISB they may repeat this 4 times in one day with different classes!

So I genuinely looked forward to being able to produce these short clips. In some previous efforts to embed technology into the classroom, I was stunned to see how much time was required to make use of this; for example, hours of work resulting in a clip of only a few minutes long. A few days ago, I decided I would see if it was possible to use the document camera and make a worthwhile clip relatively quickly.

With 45 minutes before my class was to arrive, the parameters were set: attempt to complete my goal, and embrace 2.0, or go back to "old school" teaching and have the kids listen to me drone on while I flutter several pieces of equipment past their noses.

I was staggered. Within ten minutes, I had made a short clip that was of a reasonable enough standard to be used immediately. I played it to the kids, and at the end of the 2 and half minutes I fired questions at the class to check for understanding. To my jaw-dropping amazement, the level of comprehension appeared near-perfect. The kids had got it. Totally. I was anticipating showing it again, or even reviewing the procedure verbally myself to reinforce, but it was unnecessary.

The next step was to watch the students as they went about their business. Everything proceeded smoothly.

In previous years, I would need to field a few questions from groups, and sometimes kids would still be completely confused as to what they were trying to achieve. I believe it was the power of the visuals giving the kids the whole picture, from start to finish so that they REALLY understood what they were doing; they were then able to use common sense to complete the task efficiently and effectively.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

COETAIL Courses Changing my Classes....

Five years ago my technological abilities consisted of hotmail: login. Successfully, as long as it was on a computer that I was familiar with; internet cafes while traveling often posed a tremendous puzzle.

The commencing of teaching at ISB catapulted me into the day-to-day use of technology on all fronts: Outlook, word documents, letters, spreadsheets and power points, culminating eventually in the use of Smartboard technology.

The continual use of the Smartboard had been my greatest technological achievement until I began this Coetail course in early 2009. Since then, I have been on yet another steep and interesting learning curve.

Setting up my first blog was an experience. Initially strange, I have since warmed to this method of communication, and this year one of my goals is to have student’s blog about their progress in math and science. I have already been in close contact with Ross Tague, my teaching partner who encourages our students to post reflections about their work in humanities. The ultimate goal will be for our students to have an electronic portfolio that is far more accessible, “organic” and exciting than the paper and cardboard one that sits in the corner of the room.

The use of the document camera has been another new tech piece I have picked up this year. My aim is to have kids come and present their ideas and strategies to the class, with the kind of regularity that allows them become comfortable doing so. This also fits in with the philosophy of our new math curriculum, which places emphasis on finding, using, and explaining strategies to solve problems.

Another new skill I am still refining is the use of creative commons, for example Flikr, as a resource to find images that I can use to improve presentations. An example of this can be seen on this blog.

Panthernet has been yet another tool that I have used this year for the very first time. My "baby steps" involved nothing more simple than posting a letter that was to be accessed by students, printed out, shown to parents, read and signed, and then returned to me. The next, ongoing steps have been to upload answers to already completed math homework questions. Students use this system to check and then correct; if any specific questions still remain, they are then to check with me the following day (or during homework club). This system allows us to be more efficient with valuable class time, while highlighting any concerns with specific questions/concepts.

In short, this course has provided me with a wealth of ideas with which to use to improve my teaching. The challenge will be to make the time to use as many of these ideas as possible, in order to then select the ones that will best suit my style and subject.

Video and Video Editing

Today my heading is spinning as usual after several hours of technology absorption. My usual feeling of bewilderment is somewhat enhanced by seeing the speed with which others seem to be able to use some of these applications. However, I am committed to keep on trying to twiddle, tweak, twist and tumble my way through a variety of these programs, to the ultimate goal of being able to use some them effectively in my classes.

The session yielded a bunch of treasures I knew little or nothing about, including movie maker, jing, and notebook recorder. In addition, I also learned how to use the document camera to make movie clips, something that has been on my list since I started using the camera at the start of the year.

The jing and notebook recorder I am eager to use for the purpose of showing students a flow of instructions that I often have to repeat. Examples where I could use this is when showing students how to log into a particular website for example, Connected Math or FOSS Science that requires quite a series of steps (as well as usernames and passwords).

One area that I am keen to use further is the use of the document camera to produce video showing certain science procedures (e.g preparing a slide). In the past I have use different methods to get this across; the old school “gather round and watch this", and more recently, using YouTube or other media to show the students the process. I would much prefer to show the students the procedure while I narrating the procedure. I can now do this by recording the steps with the camera, and having this clip on my PC desktop for instant access.

Watch this space for the upcoming “How to Make a Slide”.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

JS Open House 2009

This is my original power point presentation:
Watch this space for the updated version!