Sunday, May 12, 2013
Monday, April 01, 2013
Many of us are familiar with the acronym behind STEM education - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. However, I was recently introduced to a new acronym - STEAM - which includes an "A" for "Art & Design."
Now, this buzzword is not new (it's been around since at least 2011, or even 2007, from what I can tell) but it is new to me, and I like it!
From what I can tell, STEAM is a movement that came out of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and, according to the STEM to STEAM website, aims to
- transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
- encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education
- influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation
The focus was put on STEM education many years ago, but to be truly competitive, it's about more than just math and science, it is about creativity and innovation; critical thinking and problem solving; and communication and collaboration. It's about art & design.
Some sources say (well, Thom Markham says) the term STEM was first coined in the 1890's by the Committee of Ten at Harvard, as a response to the gaps in the agrarian school system of the 1800's. Other sources point to Dr. Judith Ramaley, president of Winona State University in Minnesota, who is said to have coined the term "STEM" when she was assistant director of the education and human resources directorate at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004. (Previous to her, apparently the acronym was "SMET.") Ew.
For now, especially with my interest in the Maker movement, I will adopt the acronym STEAM to inform my own teaching in science & technology.
Monday, February 18, 2013
My blog is also competing with the immediacy of social media. Share a link, or toss up a shortened URL on Twitter, and one quickly receives feedback and commentary from the crowd. As immediately gratifying as this may be, it doesn't really take the place of blogging, a process that (at its best) forces me to consider multiple sources before assimilating those ideas with my own viewpoints, distilling them to what matters in my particular context, and then writing them down. I don't really blog for the crowd; I do it for me.
I've considered, instead, the act of pruning bushes. This seems more apropos to my goals. The University of Rhode Island offers this Pruning Guide. "Pruning is a regular part of plant maintenance involving the selective removal of specific plant parts."
|CC-BY-SA by Hirvenkürpa|
1) To improve the appearance or health of a plant.
2) To control the size of a plant.
3) To prevent personal injury or property damage.
4) To train young plants.
5) To influence fruiting and flowering.
6) To rejuvenate old trees and shrubs.
That's what my old blog needs - rejuvenation! I started blogging nearly 7 years ago, and over the years have more clearly focused my ideas and vision as a teacher. I plan to start by pruning away those previous posts that serve as a distraction to my professional goals.
Then, perhaps, my blog will grow healthier and stronger than before. Of course, this requires that I actually write. And teaching tends to fill up my to-do list, leaving little time for much else. However, it's good to have goals.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Not only does it have good advice, it has realistic advice. For example, check out these tips for parents (found under the section "Can I friend my teen?"):
Don't fill your kids' pages with your comments. As it is, simply having parents is mortifying enough at this age. Their friends don't need evidence of your existence (and you can always send them private messages).
Don't be techno-phobic. Don't be afraid of technology. Learn to text, send a mobile photo, set up a Facebook profile, upload a video. Or have your kids show you how. It's impossible to guide what you don't understand. Not only that, but think of all the anxiety you can avoid by knowing how things work.
For all those parents who contact me, not knowing where to start with their 13 year old and social networking, I will be sharing this new resource.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Not to worry, the presentation is archived online.
I think all educators need to start paying attention. The dynasty of the textbook is coming to an end. I was introduced to resources such as CK-12 Flexbooks, Connexions, OER Commons, CLRN Free Digital Textbooks, and the Flat Classroom Project. With all of these free or inexpensive, customizable resources - what it the draw of the typical textbook?
Open Educational Resources are all about sharing.
In a brave new world of learning, OER content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both teachers and learners can share what they know. (OER Commons)
Want to find some OER for yourself? Curriki lists 10 great OER search engines on their blog.
More on this later...
Thursday, April 01, 2010
I learned that in April of 2009, the newest MLA Handbook was released, and it made a few important changes (from the Write Source).
- Underlining is no longer recommended to represent italics. Use italics instead.
- Within the list of works cited, all entries must be identified by medium: Print, Web, DVD, CD-ROM, PDF file, and so on. List the appropriate medium(s) at the end of each entry. In the case of a Web source, the date of access follows the word “Web.”
- Online sources no longer require a URL listing**.
So, what does this mean for you, kids? Well, if you want to cite an Internet source, here's what you need to do. Keep in mind that complete publication information may not be available for a website; so you should provide what is given. You should try and find the following information before you begin:
- Author and/or editor names (if available)
- Article name in quotation marks (if applicable)
- Title of the website (in italics)
- Any version numbers - revisions, posting dates, volumes, or issue numbers.
- Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date. (it is suggested that you use use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.)
- Date you accessed the material. (This is important because web pages often change, and information on the page may no longer be the same later)
- Medium of publication (in most of our cases, this is "Web")
- URL (if required, or for your own personal reference).
TO CITE AN ENTIRE WEB SITE (simplified):
(NOTE: The color-coding in just to help you organize. The actual citation should be in plain black text.)
Editor or author name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site, date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.
Windows to the Universe. National Earth Science Teachers Association, n.d. Web. Accessed in Nov 2009.
TO CITE A SINGLE WEB PAGE (simplified):
Author name. "Title of page." Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site, date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.
Strickland, Jonathan. "How Does the Internet Work?." HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery, n.d. Web. Accessed on April 4, 2011.
"Twitter." CrunchBase.com. n.d. Web. Accessed on April 10, 2011.
Byrne, Richard. "Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online." Free Technology for Teachers, November 29, 2009. Web. Accessed in Feb 2010.
"How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow.com, eHow, n.d. Web. Feb 2009.
Want to know more? Visit the Purdue OWL site. Or, you could give the online Citation Machine a try!
** Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA
"MLA no longer requires the use of URLs in MLA citations. Because Web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the Web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA explains that most readers can find electronic sources via title or author searches in Internet Search Engines.
For people who still wish to require the use of URLs, MLA suggests that the URL appear in < angle brackets > after the date of access. Break URLs only after slashes."
So, it would look like this:
Strickland, Jonathan. "How Does the Internet Work?." HowStuffWorks.com, n.d. Web. April 4, 2011. < http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/internet.htm >
"Twitter." CrunchBase.com. n.d. Web. Accessed on April 10, 2011.
Byrne, Richard. "Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online." Free Technology for Teachers, November 29, 2009. Web. Accessed in Feb 2010.
< http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/11/six-easy-ways-for-students-to-create.html >
Saturday, March 20, 2010
So, I think it time to teach Internet search strategies a little more explicitly. (Even the New York Times recently posted a lesson plan for dealing with Internet searching skills.)
These are the search strategies I start with for my students when they begin their projects:
- Take note of the domain names types (.gov & .edu tend to have most "reliable" info)
- Check the "About Us" to see if the site seems reliable. Sometimes "Contact Us" or "FAQs" or that site's own blog can also provide valuable hints to a page's reliability.
- Try searching -.com or +.edu. (ex: Twitter -.com) NOTE: There is no space between the "-" and the domain name type.
- Try putting your search item in quotes. (ex: "history of Mt. Vesuvius" instead of just history of Mt. Vesuvius)
- Try subtracting or add words (for example type 'Tiger -Woods' to search for info on the animal.) NOTE: There is no space between the "-" and word you are subtracting.
- Try clicking on the little superscript numbers in Wikipedia articles to find out the source that is used. Or, just scroll down to the bottom of the Wikipedia article and look over all of the sources used.
- Try searching popular news, tech, or science sites - (Newsweek, Time, New York Times, SFGate, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, CrunchBase, USGS, National Geographic, etc. (ex: "Foursquare +Chicago Tribune")
- Use other media as sources for information, such as videos (TED talks, YouTube interviews) or podcasts (KQED, NPR)
And, don't forget when you are searching to cite the websites you use!
Friday, March 05, 2010
As teachers, we often claim "fair use." The Fair Use doctrine generally allows for the copying of protected material (texts, sounds, images, etc.) for a limited and “transformative” purpose, like criticizing, commenting, parodying, news reporting, teaching the copyrighted work. Under the US copyright laws, fair use “is not an infringement of copyright.” When determining Fair Use, judges typically consider four factors. Read more....
However, I am trying to teach my students to forgo their typical Google Image search or pop song soundtrack and really start to think about intellectual property rights. I am no longer hiding behind the approaches: "well, we're not publishing it, so no one will notice" or "it's only a problem if you get caught."
Here is what I know so far:
Copyright - [MOST RESTRICTIVE] Creative work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and "fixed in a tangible form." All sorts of creative work are protected including images, songs, and written work. People do not need to register with the Copyright Office to benefit from copyright protection, but the will need to if they ever plan on bringing suit against someone for copyright infringement. If a student wants to use copyrighted material in their presentation or website, they really need to contact the creator for permission. (My students do NOT like this rule.) I tell students that if the rights are not specified, assume it is copyrighted.
Public Domain - [NO RESTRICTIONS] "When a work is in the public domain, it is free for use by anyone for any purpose without restriction under copyright law. Public domain is the purest form of open/free, since no one owns owns or controls the material in any way." Mostly, this includes resources that are government work (USGS, NASA) or very old. Cornell University has an updated table of copyright term and public domain rules.
Creative Commons - [SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE] This is a way to modify your copyright to allow for sharing, remixing or distribution of your work. There are many "levels" of creative commons licensing. On this page, creativecommons.org lists them starting with the most accommodating license type through the most restrictive license type.
There are six major licenses of the Creative Commons:
- Attribution (CC-BY)
- Attribution Share Alike (CC-BY-SA)
- Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
- Attribution Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC)
- Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)
- Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)
Generally, the licenses address different requirements for attribution , share-alike commercial use, and allowing derivative works (can you modify it).
There are four major conditions of the Creative Commons: Attribution (BY), requiring attribution to the original author (giving the author credit); Share Alike (SA), allowing derivative works under the same or a similar license (how you will license any work you create from it); Non-Commercial (NC), requiring the work is not used for commercial purposes (you can't make money from it; and No Derivative Works (ND), allowing only the original work, without derivatives (you can't change it).
Additional options include the CC0 option, or "No Right Reserved." For software, Creative Commons offers three licenses: the BSD License, the CC GNU LGPL license, and the CC GNU GPL. (I'm still learning about those three....)
- Google's Advanced Search (now you can filter by usage rights as of July 2009)
- Wikimedia Commons (part of Wikimedia)
- Flickr Creative Commons group
- Creative Commons search
I know I have a lot left to learn, but at least I am encouraging my students to become aware of intellectual property rights and make it less likely that they will become "uninformed and unintentional plagiarists."
Monday, November 23, 2009
Even though it is subscription-based (see below), there are a number of free videos you can check out.
I use these videos in three main ways:
- INTRODUCTION: I might show a video first (ex: Black Holes) to spark kids' interest and help them generate questions about an upcoming lesson. Also, I can use the quiz as a pre-assessment of the class' collective knowledge.
- REVIEW: After an activity (ex: kids acted out the life cycle of stars of varying masses), I play the video and hearing the vocabulary in the video helps them solidify their previous learning experience. (ex: "Hey - That's me! I was the nebula!")
- EXTENSION: If students finish an activity early, or need more challenging content, I will have then watch other videos extending the current curriculum (ex: Big Bang, or often in Technology class, I will have advanced students watch information about binary code or the internet)
You can sign up for a 1 weekwith an email address, and one year range from Family ($99) to Teacher ($175) to School ($975) to customizable District options.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Steve Spangler's Boot Camp (K - 8, multiple locations): I have pined after Steve Spangler's Science in the Rockies for years, but had the opportunity to attend the more economical Boot Camp this fall in Chicago. It was wonderful. He is a businessman and comedian, but a teacher at heart. His presentations were concise, engaging and taught solid science concepts. Plus, you get a whole box of fun stuff to take home! The workshops should head west in the spring.
Project WET (CA) - There are various workshops offered throughout California. Upon completion of the workshop, participants get the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide. (The ONLY way you can get the book is through the workshop.) It covers chemistry and conservation topics around water and is truly outstanding. I was fortunate to take the workshop with Kathy Machado at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. She was an excellent facilitator, takes pride in the extensive work she has done at the Water District, and is able to offer the books for free. Her next workshop is March 5, 2010 and I can highly recommend her presentation. (All Project WET workshops are free, but some districts charge for the book.)
4-H Embryology (Northern CA) - This was quite a drive up from San Francisco, but it was well worth it. June Stewart teaches a two-hour (free) Embryology class in Auburn, CA. I have never met anyone as passionate about and dedicated to teaching embryology as this woman. The workshop is generally in mid-February, and at that time you can order or pick up rented incubators, fertile eggs, and curriculum materials. These are not materials you will shove in a file cabinet somewhere. I used everything and my students enjoyed the experience immensely. I was terrified to hatch birds for the first time, but the program alleviated all of my fears. June is available by phone for any questions and the Extension office will take any un-adopted birds back for up to one year and place them in homes with local 4-H kids.
These are my top three. What's your favorite national or local gem?
Thursday, July 02, 2009
I meet so many teachers that think we are instilling knowledge into children. The best teachers think that we are teaching students how to think and learn, for most of the knowledge itself will become obsolete.
For my project, I was determined to find the source of this great quote.
My search led me to The Fischbowl blog and a post about the original PowerPoint presentation, entitled "Did You Know?," created by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod. Apparently, XPLANE has reworked the information into this thought provoking video (2007).
UPDATE (7.6.09): Here is an even more recent version (2008).
This particular version has an expanded focus on the idea that "we are living in exponential times." This is truly incredible and no doubt has significant implications for education. This only strengthens my theory that, as a teacher, I don't know everything... I CAN'T know everything. I may be more educated and have more experience, but I am learning right along with my students every day.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I found these links exceptionally helpful when I need a quick easy-to-follow summary of a particular technology to share with someone.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I had to laugh when I watched the following clip, part of an animated sketch series called "SuperNews" on current.com. (Fair warning: there is a cartoon compound fracture/blood at the end... you'd think I'm over-reacting, but I've had a number of students faint from Discovery Channel's computer animated bleeding.)
According to its website, Supernews is "seen by millions spares neither the topical nor the timely. From atheism and gay marriage, to Obama’s presidential cabinet and the massive pressure to be witty in Evite replies, SuperNews takes on the best (and worst) of politics, pop culture and technology."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I was horrified by the new iMovie 08. However, I was mollified by Apple graciously providing a free download of iMovie HD 6 to all registered users of iLife ’08. This afternoon, a young filmaker asked me how to "get that version of iMovie that's cool" because she doesn't like "the one with the star." So, I head over to my trusty link and... gasp!... page not found! Apparently, on Jan 27, 2009, blogs started to report that Apple had removed the download page for iMovie HD 6 in preparation for their iMovie 09 release.
Oh, how I wished I had archived that dmg....
Saturday, March 14, 2009
About the organization: The Genetic Science Learning Center is a science and health education that is part of the University of Utah. Their mission is "making science easy for everyone to understand." Learn.Genetics delivers educational materials on genetics, bioscience and health topics. Another site, Teach.Genetics, provides resources for K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and public educators.
About the site: There is a wealth of user-friendly reference material on stem cells, cloning and more. There is a collection of Virtual Labs and a wonderful Tour of the Basics.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
So, imagine my glee when a student "requested friendship" to a site called Shelfari. Now, as a middle school teacher, I have been invited to join MySpace, Facebook, IMVU, and even Club Penguin by my students. I have shied away from such social networking sites in the past, however, I have never been able to resist a good book.
At first, I thought I wouldn't want to take the time to upkeep my account, but there is something strangely satisfying about seeing all those texts sitting on my "shelf," chronicling my recent literary adventures. It is also great to add book recommendations to my "planning to read shelf" since I have often written recommendations on scrap paper, only to lose them by the time I checked out my next book.
Shelfari was launched in October 2006. This Seattle startup was founded by former RealNetworks employees Josh Hug and Kevin Beukelman. "Just as Flickr was social media around photos or YouTube around videos or Digg around news, we are building the first social media site focused on people that read books," said Hug.
Shelfari, like any self-respecting website, has its own blog. From their blog, I learned that Shelfari was acquired by Amazon in late August, 2008.
Although, all does not seem to be rosy. According to a blog post of one of Shelfari's competitors, LibraryThing, Shelfari has some nefarious practices that can result in spam being sent to your address book. According to this post:
The method is simple. When you sign up for Shelfari you are dumped into a screen that offers to send out check-out-my-books invitations to friends. The user interface is confusing and deceptive, and what seems like an attempt to continue into the site really sends out hundreds or thousands of letters to everyone you've ever known by email. Reminder-letters follow. Skipping this step requires clicking out-of-the-way, gray non-underlined text.I don't think I've had a problem with it. Perhaps I was diligent in checking the "out-of-the-way, gray, non-underlined text." Or, maybe because I don't let ANY website troll my address books for "friends" (already on Shelfari). Apparently, if you choose to do that, the site is unclear. One blog commenter says, "The thing is, I didn't even see the 600 checked names (many of whom I promised not to spam) because they were checked down below my screen, and the "Send Invitations" button right underneath your "Friends Already on Shelfari" makes it look like you're only sending invitations to those guys. Slick, slick, slick." So keep your eyes open. And just type in your friend's addresses if you want to invite anyone.
I still think it is a great site. If anyone has used its competitors, GoodReads or LibraryThing, I would love to know your thoughts.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
- "a recently released product called ScreenFlow just flat out rocks. For how simple it is to make great screen casts, it’s pretty mind blowing really." - I, Blog
- "screencasts made on Macs just got exponentially better"- tauw.com
- "I’m calling it The iTunes of Screencasting" - Fraser Speirs
- "Users who need to create video tutorials will find a program like ScreenFlow indispensable" - macnn
- "comes as a huge sigh of relief and wave of elation for Mac screencasters everywhere" - WebTVWire
You can record multiple tracks, mouse callouts, and video effects using a linear editor that looks as simple as iMovie! The only drawbacks? Some may be put off by the $99 price tag and it's (gulp) only available for Mac OS X Leopard. (The OS upgrade is only $116 at the Apple Education Store....)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Bill Nye, the science guy. Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!
This time he is making a science show for teens and adults. Go to the website and click "Menu" and "Episodes" to see clips and more. Each clip has some tabs - the best one, in my opinion, is called "the flip side." Here, he provides links to information about alternate viewpoints on that topic.
The entire 13 episode set can be purchased for $499. Apparently the first shows aired in 2005, but according to the website, some stations are still airing the show. There are also a few examples on YouTube (here's one on Cloning)... at least until Bill Nye pulls them off for copyright infringement.
5. Nuclear Energy
10. Genetically Modified Foods
12. Global Climate Change
13. Evolution of Sex
Saturday, January 05, 2008
It was like a door was opened for me, leading to vast golden fields reflecting the late summer sun... OK, maybe I am being a bit melodramatic, but I was really excited. This means that I could record a silent screencast in iShowU, then import the Quicktime into iMovie 06 to edit the video and add voiceovers at my leisure. I had been frustrated that one stutter or misspoken word in a screencast often necessitated starting over.
So I found a blog post about converting Quicktime files into Flash which also had a tutorial for Mac users interested in using the (free) program FFMPEGX. However, this program only converts to FLA and there is a whole other process to be able to play it on the internet.
I need something simpler.
Video to Flash Converter 5.7 seems to be a popular choice, but it also seems to only work with Windows, despite what some sites claim. In fact, there seems to be no shortage of shareware for Windows use. I was getting discouraged.
Finally, I found Video2Swf which, ironically, is produced by the same company that makes Screenography. For $45 (on "sale") it seems to be a good choice. It even allows you to chose from a number of players to embed your video. (The Luddite in me enjoyed choosing the pretty designs.) The demo was clear and easy to use. (The demo puts a watermark across the middle of your output file.) Here's my first demo sample (a video inspired by a 2006 school trip to Europe):
Thursday, January 03, 2008
He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple’s iTunes Store.This inspired me look past the search bar in iTunes and to create a list of the coolest things I found that are not music (in no particular order). You will notice, however, that the list is heavily biased towards science. :)
1. Scientific American 60 Second Science Video Podcast - complex ideas broken down into a managable 1 minute segment
2. How Stuff Works - one of my favorite websites - now a podcast!
3. VH1 Best Week Ever - when I gave up my TV, I only missed VH1 and the Discovery Channel. Now I can catch one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" shows. (Totally non-academic)
4. Teacher 2.0 (a group of educators who want to share ideas about using technology to help prepare students for the 21st century. "We're tired of preparing them for the Industrial Age.")
5. National Geographic - Wild Chronicles - cool short video segments on topics like the zoo dentist.
6. iTunes U (I just downloaded a couple lectures from Stanford on Global Warming)
7. KQED Public Broadcasting (QUEST in Northern California) - video segments on topics such as earthquakes, the physics of baseball, forensic science and nanotechnology. You can also download the corresponding educator guides!
For every topic I type in, there are free podcasts and videos. There are tutorials for things like Final Cut Pro and screencasts. And I haven't even started with the music videos yet. (Another unfortunate loss when I gave up my TV.) If you haven't checked iTunes out lately, look a little deeper than your music library.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
A friend found me a very helpful blog post entitled Mac Options For Capturing A Video of Your Screen. "Brian" reviews a few options for screen capture, and I decided to give them a try myself, plus check out another program Screenography. All of these programs have free demos. They also all have similar customizable screen capture sizing and hot buttons.
Here is what I found:
App #1: Screen Mimic 2.2.1
Demo: 30 second movies only with a watermark on video recording
This was my favorite and by far the easiest to use, however, it is also fairly expensive. Screen Mimic allows you to save your project as Adobe Flash (SWF), Flash Video (FLV), or Quicktime (MOV) files. The encoding seems fairly quick and the quality of the video is excellent. I also like the idea, as "Brian" blogged, that you get a second chance to encode a selection if you change you mind.
Brian's issue with this program (in 2006) was the lack of audio recording. I can only imagine that the $24.95 version he reviewed lacked the audio options this more expensive version now has.
App #2: iShowU
Demo: Large green text on video recording
Somewhat more complex to use, but still fairly easy. There are a variety of presets, but at my level of experience, this is not a great help to me. I do like that you have the option to slow the capture rate when your mouse is not moving, which helps keep the file size down. The encoding is immediate, although you do not have a Flash option.
For $42, you can bundle iShowU with Stomp, a program which allows you to compress, crop and apply affects to your videos.
App #3: Screenography 1.013
Price: $39.95 / $9.95 (for the lite version - stills only)
Demo: Giant yellow watermark on final capture
Another easy to use program, with the option of exporting as a QuickTime (mov) or Flash Animation (swf).
App #4: Snapz Pro X 2.1.2
Price: $29 (still capture) / $69 (movie capture)
Demo: 30 days unlimited, with annoying pop-ups (I haven't confirmed this)
This one is easy to use, and has cute little sound effects like "Action", "Cut", and "That's a Wrap." But I am not convinced it is worth the significant price difference.
Brian's final opinion:
After trying them all, I think I’ll stick with iShowU. The developer offers a good product at a good price. Also, he is quick to offer support. The second option would be Screen Mimic, especially if you are intending to work with flash videos.
My final opinion:
It's a tough choice between iShowU ($20) and Screenography ($40). However, I want the Flash option. I am perhaps biased towards iShowU due to its partnership with Stomp (though, admittedly, iMovie 08 has some similar features to Stomp, but I am a little salty about that release). I think I will stick with Screenography.
Update 1.3.07: Unfortunately I found the demos don't really reflect the actual usage of the programs, so here's my opinion after using the full versions. Granted, my experience is shaped my my personal machine and internet speed, but here are my reflections.
I started with Screenography, and was happy with my short (less than 30 seconds) clips and very happy with their being published to a .swf file. However, as I used it for longer projects, I found the rendering time to be long. After 3 minutes of recording, when I hit the hot key combination, it seemed to take up to 30 seconds to register, and then a number of minutes after that to render the movie enough to give me a "save" screen. This did not include the additional time to save the file. It was an exercise in patience. Also, the program would frequently "unexpectedly shut down."
For the $20, I decided to purchase iShowU. This one hasn't crashed on me, even up to a 4.5 minute presentation, but as far as I can tell, my only output option is Quicktime. I love the very fast rendering time, but miss the versatility of the Flash output.
So now I find myself longingly reading again about Screen Mimic. Even though I originally deemed it too expensive, I am finding myself with $60 spent on programs that did not best fit my needs. I'll keep you posted on how Screen Mimic works out for me.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.
Since we started back in 2000, we've carefully listened to the songs of tens of thousands of different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.
This Music Genome Project is an effort ... to "capture the essence of music at the fundamental level" using over 400 attributes to describe songs and a complex mathematical algorithm to organize them."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
- Have you used the new WWW? The new WWW: Whatever, Wherever, Whenever.
- What do you need to know, when most of recorded knowledge is a mouse click away?
- In light of this, what do students still need to memorize?
- How do we prepare our students for jobs that don't exist yet, using technologies that haven't yet been invented in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet?
This reminds me of a podcast I recently ran across. (You can find them on Twitter or check out the podcast on iTunes) The description states that "Teachers 2.0 is a loose group of educators who want to share ideas about using technology to help prepare students for the 21st century. We're tired of preparing them for the Industrial Age." They have a good point. I look forward to hearing what they have to say.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I haven't read the book yet, but check out this list of "Ten Essential Qualities":
1. Engagement (relating to others)
5. Emotional Range
6. Genuine Self-Esteem
7. Internal Discipline
8. Creativity and Vision
9. Logical Thinking
10. Moral Integrity
Wouldn't the world be a better place if every person had these ten qualities? I can use this list to focus on what traits I am encouraging and rewarding in my middle school students.
I'm glad he wrote the book, but wouldn't it be great if we didn't need it? It seems childrearing used to be intuitive, but now requires explicit instructions to avoid raising a menace to society.
Two of the most powerful ideas I ran across in this article were:
1. Learning to empathize begins in infancy. Suggest helping him/her tunes into others' feelings by making your feelings clear, in facial expression and voice.
2. Your child will learn ethics from how you treat him/her, not by what you say.
Ain't THAT the truth?!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
YouTube is interesting. Yes, if you are not careful, you will find yourself surfing videos of laughing babies, dancers in banana suits, and the latest variation of Charlie the Unicorn. However, as I have said before, I have used it extensively for science and media literacy lessons in grades 1 through 8.
So I wonder why, when the first time a student asked me if he could use YouTube as a source for a class project, my gut reaction was, "no." When I thought about it for a minute, I changed my mind. YouTube is almost a philosophical extension of Wikipedia. And I decided to treat it as such. Sure, the student can use it as a source. But, like any article on Wikipedia, they must double-check their facts on another reputable source. However, how valuable was it for them to watch and interview with Barack Obama, or to hear a theremin played? Certainly more so than merely text and still images could provide.
One concern is that students may quickly fall off task, or be subjected to inappropriate language in the comments section. This just seems like a teachable moment (at least at the middle school level) regarding media literacy and responsible internet use.
Sadly enough, my old district banned both YouTube and Wikipedia in its schools. I wonder if this is a positive move or a disservice to the students. Social networking sites and wikis are not going away... shouldn't we embrace the opportunity to teach the kids to use these tools responsibly instead of taking them away?
Anyway, back to YouTube, someone should have warned me. Once I signed up, I got this message in the second box below. Wow. Harsh. :)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
As I opened up the program, I was a little awed at the total transformation. My simple little program screen had turned into a completely different movie app.
However, as I navigated around the new program, I thought: Apple, what are you thinking?
I have used iMovie for years in the classroom. It is simple and offers many options for kids to create quite polished products. Some of the better features of iMovie 06 include:
- Timeline view
- Multiple audio track editing
- Many editing options (transitions / titles / Video FX like reverse & slow)
- Ability to open more than one project at a time, and copy & paste clips
- Exporting selected clips only
- DVD chapters and integration with iDVD
- Option for third party plug-ins
- Timeline view
- Multiple audio track editing
- Many editing options (transitions / titles / Video FX like reverse & slow)
- Ability to open more than one project at a time, and copy & paste clips
- Exporting selected clips only
- DVD chapters and integration with iDVD
- Option for third party plug-ins
To be fair, some people like the improvements. MacWorld calls it "the iPhoto for movies." There is more color-correction and cropping options, and no rendering time when you add effects. Also, it can input a wider variety of video formats. But, that's about it. Some people theorize that Apple wanted to prevent iMovie from competing with Final Cut Pro. Other people recognize the good along with the bad.
When I recovered enough to open up a new tab in Firefox, I read that many people are outraged. Thankfully, Apple offers a free download of iMovie 06. (CORRECTION 3/21/09: The download is no longer available as iMovie 09 is released.)
I can breathe again.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
So, a few years ago, we came up with the "cake and frosting" analogy. The content is the "cake." Obviously, if the cake is terrible, I don't care how good the frosting is, people aren't going to eat it. And, if you are planning on handing me a plateful of frosting without any cake, I am going to be rather offended.
We go on to discuss that you can make some frosting ahead of time, but it needs to stay in the fridge until the cake is ready to be frosted. If you focus too much on making the frosting and don't pay attention to the cake, it can burn or collapse and you'll have to start over.
Once they have a good cake, they can decorate with "frosting" (the effects, comedic interludes, or (shudder) "bloopers".) However, we discuss how the best cakes have simple, well chosen frosting for dramatic effect. (In fact, when the class and I create a rubric together after viewing previous student work, they almost always add a requirement to "limit random distractions." However, once they actually begin a project, they see how tempting it is....)
With every technology project I have implemented, I have had open lab time and often I am shooing kids out of the room at 5 pm, 6 pm and even later. They put even more effort into their content, so that they can add the "fun stuff" later. In fact, my kids have (on average) put more creative effort into digital projects than anything they've turned in on paper.
Of course, the kids take the analogy as far as they can. For instance, one kid tells me, "my sister likes to scrape the frosting off the cake and eat it by itself." I tell them that after they finish the cake for me, they are welcome to scrape off the frosting and post it on YouTube...
Saturday, August 25, 2007
- Technology, such as Powerpoint, results in kids creating weak and inaccurate content, while spending an inordinate amount of time on graphics that don't matter.
- IM lingo is a problem in today's schools.
- Laptops in the classroom actually interfere with student learning.
Think back to all the reports you wrote as a kid. I was a good student, and I remember writing reports on the sun, medieval entertainment, leaves, and the state of Arizona (or was it Arkansas?). What do I remember from these reports? The posters I made, the pictures I colored, the poster I created. I don't remember a thing about Arizona or Arkansas. I don't believe it is only technology that tempts kids to "spent nearly twice the time working on the graphics than ... researching the report." I refer to this as the cake and the frosting. My kids know what I mean.
But, what I DO like about technology is that is levels the presentation playing field. I remember back to one of the first iMovie projects I incorporated into my science class in 2002. The day before the students were to share their work, one of my special education students said to me, "This is the first time I am proud to show off my work because it looks as good as everyone else's." Here was a kid with a written expression disability who spent years seeing his written work hung up next to all the rest. He volunteered to share his iMovie first.
IM is a problem? Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean Up Your Writing, believes that when kids text habitually, they in effect train themselves in writing a form of shorthand. "They'd be tempted to use it on their homework and exams. They might even slip into using abbreviations unconsciously." Again, I think it is up to educators (and kids) to know the difference between formal and informal writing. It's all about communication.
A student recently emailed to me, ""...prolly you would yell at my grammer but then again u dont teach LA." This email was informal. He clearly communicated his point to me in his message. He has never "unconsciously slipped" in his formal writing (homework, lab reports) for me. Why? Because he is conscientious enough to differentiate between formal and informal language. He cares enough consider his audience and the situation for his writing. I have no problem with IM. I do struggle with student apathy. As adults, we know the difference between writing a grocery list and a legal document. We talk differently socializing with our peers than talking with our grandmother. Kids can be taught an appropriate audience and situation for their IM-speak. Oppenheimer says, "There’s no job in the real world that allows writing in IM lingo." Sure there's not... yet.
Laptops are distracting? The article quotes a study in which laptop-equipped students, "On average, the students spent 17 minutes out of a 75-minute class doing activities not related to class work." Umm... that's not a problem limited to laptops. Un-engaged students are distracted by passed notes, open windows, shiny objects, and their own thoughts.
None of these problems are new. I think it is easy to "blame" technology. Students will learn when they are engaged and invested. In my opinion, technology is a tool to increase student engagement. Educators and students must use it effectively. Just as I would never put in a 50 minute video and sit at my desk during a class period, neither would I set up situations in my classrooms where technology will be a crutch to facilitate sub-par learning. Technology isn't the enemy here. Apathy, on the part of students and teachers, is. C'mon ppl, old skool doesnt cut it if we want r kidz 2 learn in 2day's world. :)
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The room went totally silent for a moment, then erupted in laughter. Here we were, a group of educators participating in a professional development seminar trying to discuss the role that Web 2.0 sites can play in civic education - at a presidential library, no less - and we were denied access to the information and tools we needed to have that discussion. My hosts at the library did their best to override the filters, but no one could figure out how to do it. I literally had to pantomime some of the video clips to give them a sense of what I was going to show them - and obviously, I couldn’t do any of them justice. One teacher then offered a tip to the group: if you ever get blocked, ask your students for help - they can show you a number of ways to get around the filter and access YouTube.It's that teacher's comment that impacts me the most. S/he's right. By middle school, most kids can get around the filter. So, when no one is watching, they are accessing whatever content they want. And, all it takes is a "clear history" to outsmart the next most popular parent/teacher content-checking "trick." On the other hand, the kid who researching breast cancer or sex discrimination is blocked.
And, I've had it work the other way as well. While looking up an image of a medieval plant used for cosmetic purposes, our "filtered" Google Images pulled up a woman who no doubt had a botanically-inspired stage name. Oh yeah, and she was not even wearing a fig leaf to cover up.
In Carvin's case, a single video** was flagged for inappropriate content, but the story brings back my reoccuring fear that our district might soon chose to block YouTube. After all, they have already blocked a variety of social networking sites, including MySpace. There is certainly enough non-academic material on YouTube to warrant a filter, however, I've often used the site in the classroom to teach about topics including the theremin, cicadas, electric cars, and more. It helps bring in items that are too expensive and/or difficult to bring into the classroom. The multimedia is a nice (and free) addition to plain text resources. Another benefit is the ability to quickly assemble clips from opposing viewpoints to begin a discussion on media literacy. And, honestly, sometimes it's just plain fun.
Filtering cannot be the only answer. There is no substitute for pre-screening materials and supervision. I would never blindly search for clips in front of a classroom, nor would I allow my students to use the Internet without circulating and monitoring their usage. Another post discusses a recent U.S. Senate Hearing , in which the committee chair speaks against relying on technologies, like filters, to protect our kids.
Rather, our efforts must rely on a multi-layered strategy – one that teaches our children about safe and responsible online behavior; one that encourages industry action to develop tools that will aid parents in their efforts to restrict inappropriate material from their children’s access; and one that relies on swift and certain action by law enforcement officials in finding and punishing those who would use the Internet to harm children.
We cannot rely on filters alone. We need to teach kids responsible, ethical use of the Internet. As a middle school teacher, I know we cannot shelter them forever, so we might as well teach them how to navigate responsibility. And, if educators are committed to this goal, it needs to become part of the curriculum. (In my new position this fall, I am excited to have the opportunity to develop such a focus.) Additionally, everything we teach kids about responsible use, media literacy, and safety is applicable in also other areas of their lives. I think the senator has the right idea.
** CORRECTION 8/10: I misunderstood. It ends up ALL YouTube videos were blocked. That's exactly what I fear.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
At one point during the long drive, a friend and I got to talking about teachers travelling. He mentioned that the government should subsidize travel for teachers. As continued on my trip, I couldn't agree more. I've taught earth science in 2001, 2002, and again in 2006, and I have read a lot of information on plate tectonics and watched a number Discovery Channel specials. However, this hardly compares to the opportunity to being there and experiencing things like lava tubes and thermophilic bacterial mats firsthand. It's the ultimate "hands-on" learning. This trip will make me a better science teacher. If only we could charter a plane for field trips....
I've posted some of the scientific highlights of my trip on my more kid-oriented blog.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Additionally, I was looking for something to rally the kids around and provide more of a team identity. Plus, it would be nice to get the kids outside during our long afternoon blocks of academic classes. When I told them of the sham in the cafeteria, they were hooked.
Here is the story of our grand adventure:
STEP 1: Research & pitch - We researched about the ecological benefits of recycling. I think the kids' favorite statistic was that "when you recycle an aluminum can, you save enough energy to power your television or computer for three hours." (Our sources included Earth911.org, the Utah State University recycling site , and Novelis.)
The kids developed their pitch and met with the school principal and head custodian. I was proud of my group. They took this meeting very seriously. Our "committee" asked great questions, and gave thoughtful responses to the administrations' concerns. Finally, we were approved for a one month trial.
STEP 2 - Promotion - The students then made posters (made from paper we took from the paper recycling bin, of course) and hung them around the school. Small groups of kids from our team rotated through the lunch periods for a week, acting as "recycling cheerleaders" - encouraging and applauding for their peers who chose to recycle their cans in the appropriate canister, rather than in the trash. The students recognized that, in order for this to work, the other 700 kids in the school would have to develop habits that helped our cause.
STEP 3: Recycle! - This was the "fun part." (Well, unless you asked the kids in January when we were crushing cans in boots and gloves in sub-zero Chicagoland weather!) Twice a week, I unleashed the crew. In 15 minutes, we were usually able to process 200-300 cans, going from stinky cafeteria bags of aluminum mixed with various foodstuffs to bags of somewhat clean, crushed cans ready for the scrap metal facility. (We also pulled tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House.)
STEP 4: Manage profits - While the kids knew the environmental benefits of energy and resource conservation, there was an added bonus of generated funds from turning in the aluminum. In fact, we made over $200 during the year. In one of our many brainstorming sessions, after voting down reclining chairs and a team vending machine (sigh), one student piped up, "wouldn't it be cool if we planted a tree to help fight global warming?" Now, I recognize there is some debate as to the carbon sequestering benefits of planting trees, but I thought it was a great idea. We had learned about carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. We had learned about photosynthesis. And, we had learned about our soon-to- emerge periodical cicadas and their effect on newly planted trees (hence, the green netting). Great, let's plant a tree! We opted to plant a ginkgo tree. Because they are awesome. (Visit my other blog post to learn all about ginkgo trees!)
STEP 4A: The "plaque" - The kids weren't done yet. They wanted to install a plaque, to commemorate our ordeal. Since we had discussed Chicago's "Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet" program this summer, a student suggested we make our own globe. Now, I can seldom resist an artistic challenge, however, we were out of funds. (The PTO had already graciously kicked in funds to pay for the planting of the tree.)
But, we were determined and a bit lucky. A generous eBay seller (with a little encouragement) donated an antique finial. (And I drove 6.5 hours to pick it up... unfortunately, in my CO2 emitting vehicle.) A moment of serendipity introduced us to a local artist who suggested pique assiette, rather than paint, for our final project. Plus, she was willing to work with the kids to teach them the technique.
This began a flurry of plate gathering - which the kids thoroughly enjoyed breaking into pieces.... The entire project was completed by the students themselves, from design submissions, to voting on the final design, to sketching, breaking and reassembling the pieces, and finally the grouting and polishing. My favorite part is the cicada the kids included at the base, near the "2007," to commemorate our 17-year visitors.
When it was all finished, we had a stupendous final product. I hope the kids are proud, keep recycling, and come back to visit our tree for many years to come.
UPDATE JULY 2011: I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but our tree is "featured" in the 2011 movie Bad Teacher. Check out the trailer at 0:21!