Sunday, January 31, 2010

2 Old and 3 New and a Peeve

Old tricks I just learned that I wish I had known for the last year:
  1. iPhoto albums can be shared over a wifi network.  This is set in Preferences.  Now that I know this, I can share my PhotoLiteracy study photos and my Rapunzel project (build images and final project pages) with students. It's a snap for users to create a local folder and drag my images into it.  Turning it around, this is an easy way for me to check on a student image project or to collect a final project (say, a screen shot of a Wordle).  And it works on student machines too, so collaboration is more or less instant without an online login or the need for a "sharing" to be turned on.
  2. Sound idea: NoteShare voice memos can be exported via a Script - got that.  But guess what?  They can also be dragged directly to Mac desktop to create .mp3 files!  I have also learned to use the mp3 metadata field to add better titles and markup to sounds.  
New to me and really interesting for LA:
  1. Speaking of NoteShare, I worked this weekend with Glogster - edu, a neat little online postering tool.  Actually, it's not very little. Those NoteShare .mp3 files can be imported directly to an interactive poster. Think about this: students can easily use NoteShare to record commentary on text, add musical responses, and insert their own readings of text (poems and persuasive pieces, ads, PSA's) into posters. A glog can be a portfolio of student fluency and writing.  Not to mention the door opened by the ability to copy/paste or type in text, upload images, graphics from the library, text and Wall backgrounds, screenshots, video...  Whatever.  Everything is an object that can be formatted, so students are also learning about layout, manipulation, and basic design. I see this as a great way to begin the exploration of "essay" - interactive essays combine media, quotation and commentary to create a "round" picture of topic or thesis.  Essay writing will come next. With the legwork done (collection of quotations, thesis exploration and refinement, commentary), the essay becomes an exercise in using language to communicate and organize meaning.  Just another tool.  Here is my Glogster 1st try: Margot (there is iframe embed code, but I don't like the way it shows up here - Glogs are quite large).  The advantage to the edu account is that I, as a teacher, can create student accounts. This gives me admin access and (more important) access to snapshots of student work.  
  2. For those students who take on more advanced inquiry/essay topics, I am encouraging Prezi as the interactive tool.  I started to explore this tool while I was imagining up our 1st essay topic - it will be based upon one short story or upon a set of 2-3 thematically or stylistically linked stories. When I looked at sample Prezi projects, I immediately saw that, like Glogster, it allows students to explore the value and interrelationship of essay elements: feelings toward topic, audience, specific text, commentary.  Like Glogster, it has a "framing" inherent in the creation process - students must stay within the boundaries they create. Unlike Glogster, Prezi creates an organizational flow - viewers can move through the ideas on a Path created by the author. It is a more advanced and challenging tool. Unlike Glogster, sounds can not be added to projects (yet!). There is also no help with setting up student accounts - your kids will need an email address that is accessible inside of the school or they will not be able to sign on. Here is my 1st Prezi (there is also embed code, but the link works just as well): Characterization.  
  3. I have gone around and around with inquiry collaboration tools. In class, we do silent conversations (passing paper around - wonderful!), loud conversations, guided and open discussions. We use both NoteShare and StudyWiz forums for asynchronous and cross-core conversations and information sharing.  But nothing has worked really well to develop the immediacy of the digital collaboration skills that my sister Pat uses daily - schedule synchronous conversations that MUST solve a problem or move toward a solution.  This is a true 21st Century skill.  Then I ran into Etherpad - just purchased by Google and so probably some big changes are coming, but for this week it is a wonder-tool. No accounts needed. All students need are the email addresses of their collaborators. Wonderful!  We have set up accounts for all 7th graders, so it will be easy for them to invite collaborators.  I envision a pad for each short story (students have choice) - story groups can engage in a 3-day dialogue digitally as well as F2F. These conversations are both synchronous and asynchronous and can be archived as .pdf files (which means Prezi uploads!). Students will be able to share quotes for essays as well to share ideas for commentary and thesis.  I am excited about this!
Peeve: As you can tell, I am into sound as part of the reading/writing/thinking experience.  We do have the internal mic on the laptops, but students are more confident when they have a "professional looking" headset mic (don't ask me why).  So I went out today to purchase a better mic for my MacBook.  I got the Dynex DX-28.  It doesn't work. Recommended for Skyping and VOIP,  but the Mac does not recognize it. Yes, I tried everything. Then I tried the Griffin mic I use with my iTouch.  That does not work either. Turns out there is a short list of mics compatible with our Macs.  So I have ordered yet another one - will see...   If you have a fix, or want the Dynex, let me know.

    1 comment:

    1. For students or researchers: I have just added a Reference List to my economics blog with economic data series, history, bibliographies etc. for students & researchers. Currently 100+ meta sources, it will in the next days grow to over a thousand. Check it out and if you miss something, feel free to leave a comment.