My Name is Christopher Longstaff. I live in Lancaster County, PA with my wife, son, and our American Bulldog named Olaf. I teach American Literature, British Literature, and Science fiction for 9-12th grade students in a rural High School, and couldn't ask for a better career. The district within I work is full great students, knowledgeable colleagues, and a friendly staff that have allowed for both personal and professional growth. This is my last semester in the Instructional Media Master's program.
Week 1 Reflection
After reading the material for week one, I was introduced to a plethora of different programs and applications that can be used in the classroom setting. What made the articles easy to use were the charts that came first; separating the web tools into their respective categories. Doing this is a great way to help educators make decisions about what kind of technology they should be using and how. As my school district was turning into a 1:1 school, the process of integrating new applications to best practices seemed daunting, with many teachers not really knowing how keep their classroom authentic and what tools to use. The whole point of this masters program was to be more educated and aware of what tools are out there in order to better prepare my students for 21st century learning standards and careers. Basically, embracing the change.
The articles on participation and disruptive behavior were also very informative. When my district first adopted our 1:1 iPad policy, these were huge concerns. How would be able to motivate students to use their iPads as tools and not just for gaming? Would this make the gathering of information easier? Would the use of this technology be a distractor and adversely affect classroom management? In the end, just as the articles stated, it was yes and no. Sure their were hiccups in the beginning, but as we changed the mediums through which we taught, we also changed how we presented ideas without lowering expectations.
Most of the articles included information and experiences I was already familiar with, but also gave me some new ideas for authentic assessments. WeViedo looked like a very interesting tool to help bring the written word to life in my English classes. As I have tried to create better assessments for my students, video creation is one that I have shied away from, but mashups, PSA’s, and even conversations with your future self are all great ideas for students to synthesize information and present those ideas in a new and creative way.
As mentioned above I have been very privileged to work in a district that has adopted a 1:1 technology policy where every student from 4th grade until graduation is given an iPad to be used as an educational tool. Because of this our faculty has undergone intensive training and implemented the SAMR model for educational pedagogy. We are now in our third year of this program, with most teachers implementing assessments and instruction at the highest levels of modification and redefinition. But getting there wasn’t accomplished overnight.
We began at the bottom with the initial stages of substitution. If an entire district was to get on board, we first had to make the introduction a smooth transition. At the bottom level of the SAMR model is substitution. We were able to take the tasks that we were already using with our students, and substitute the materials and mediums with the new technology. For instance, in-class discussions could be posted on discussion boards within our Schoology interface, worksheets were scanned into the PDF files and posted to Schoology classes, and teachers began having students submit papers and projects with their iPads to digital portfolios.
Last year we were in the Augmentation stage, improving the use and need for the iPad as a functional tool within our classroom. In the English department we began having students create bibliographies and save their resources with noodle tools, collaborative projects were written in Google Docs so that all students had access to the materials at the same time, and feedback was given in real time in both Google Docs and in the Schoology forums.
This year our department goal was modification and redefinition. We have begun to implement authentic common assessments; having the students synthesize, create, and evaluate new tasks through a variety ways. For instance, the 10th grade students in our district must read Shakespeare's “Macbeth” as part of their drama unit. In the past the students had to memorize and perform a scene to meet the public speaking requirements of common core, but with the help of the iPad and web tools, we were able to meet those same requirements in a more authentic way. Our students were tasked with creating a podcast explaining an idea inspired by the play. To make their podcast interesting as well as informative, the students had to write a script and create a storyboard using the digital story telling model, add in sound effects, and link their studies to outside experts and sources. The podcast was also linked to a webpage their group designer made with links to additional resources, pictures, facts, and an interactive poll. Students also had to use the social media feature of SoundCloud (The site to which their podcast was created and posted) to evaluate other students’ projects. In tis way students were still meeting the public speaking requirements, but using new web tools integrated into their assessment, synthesized information into an original creation, and evaluated themselves as well as others on their final product. The SAMR model has been a great way for our district to meet the needs of 21st century learners.
F. (2007). Web2.0 Framework. Retrieved May 3, 2017, from https://live.wilkes.edu/d2l/le/content/227585/viewContent/2422593/V iew?ou=227585
Galagan, P. (2010). Burp, Chatter, Tweet: New Sounds in the Classroom. Training & Development, 26-29. Retrieved May 3, 2017, from https://live.wilkes.edu/d2l/le/content/227585/viewContent/2422593/View.
Schrock, K. (2015). Creating With Online Tools. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://vimeo.com/121203978
Introduction to the SAMR Model. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/introduction-to-the-samr-
Week 2: PLN's and a Twitter Experiment
Personal Learning Network Reflection
At first I thought that the only person learning network, or PLN, that I belonged to was the network of teachers made that make up the Instruction Media Master’s program at Wilkes University; a group that is a fluid and ever changing as teachers join, graduate, and complete classes. Before this assignment I had always thought of PLN’s being digital networks of teachers and administrators, and as I try to stay off of social networks, didn’t have a twitter account, or collaborate with anyone online, I didn’t think I truly had a PLN.
But according to the Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, a personal learning network is any group of professionals that collaborate and construct knowledge together. By this definition, PLN’s have always existed in small groups of departments in schools, to individual classrooms of students and teachers, to the larger faculty and district units. Social networking has not created PLN’s, just extended their capabilities by facilitating the collaboration of professionals on a world wide level.
As this is my first attempt at creating connections and a so-called digital PLN through social media, I am still unsure of its value as a whole. Will I be able to truly connect and collaborate with other teachers? Are they willing to share their ideas and successes? Only time will tell.
The PLN’s in my home district and this graduate program have been invaluable. When my district started the process of becoming a 1:1 school, I found that the community of students taking this master’s program was the best network of people to collaborate with. Many of us were in similar situations; we were teachers venturing out into uncharted territory in this new age of the digital classroom. Being able to create and experiment, and then share the results with educators in the similar metaphorical boat helped decrease the anxiety I felt as an educator, and build a more authentic classroom appropriate for the 21st century thinker and learner.
This graduate program through Wilkes University has helped introduce me to a wide range of people that have been more than willing to collaborate, share, and seek out new ways to update the Best Practices already utilized in their classrooms. I plan on continuing to use these connections to further my involvement in PLN’s, and reaching out to others through social sites such as Twitter, as I continue to transform my classroom into one that better needs the needs and challenges of all students as we continue this pedagogy shift in this digital age.
Alderton, E. (2011, September 3). The end of isolation. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no3/alderton_0911.htm
Social/ Educational Networking
This week I experimented with Twitter three separate times. In the classroom, my students are finishing their multimedia project; a podcast in which they explore one of the topics inspired by the play “Macbeth”. For this project the students needed to create a webpage using Weebly and upload a podcast created by Garage Band to SoundCloud. The podcast was then linked to their interactive webpage. To help foster our “global citizen” initiative, part of the assignment had my student groups contact an expert via Twitter in the field of study of which they were researching and presenting, and then use their expert’s answers in their podcast.
I thought that Twitter would be a great way to interact with experts other than business email and help create a type of Personal Learning Network through this assignment. For the most part, it worked. Most of the groups received feedback in 1-3 days, especially those that contacted professors from local universities. But some students did not receive any feedback at all. And this was frustrating, problematic, and caused anxiety for the groups trying to finish their podcasts. Some groups even tried contacting multiple experts with emails, Twitter, and direct messages. If they were unable to get the responses they needed, all they had to do was show me the attempted contacts so that their grade was not adversely affected.
In the future I think I may start the project earlier, and give class time in which all the students do is attempt to make contact with outside experts in order to engage in questioning to help advance their podcast. I will also direct them to contact professors, as they seemed to be the most willing to engage with the students and help. One professor from Kutztown University even recorded her responses to their questions and allowed them to use her audio in their final podcast.
As the “Macbeth” assignment was for the students, I attempted to use Twitter to create a poem with each classmate responding to the initial Tweet with a subsequent line. Luckily, we have an awesome group of people in this Master’s program that quickly replied. This would be a great class assignment as an introduction to poetry lesson appropriate for all grade levels. Obviously the teacher would need to monitor the tweets for appropriateness.
Lastly I also sent out a tweet asking for novel ideas for a Science Fiction Literature class. I only had two responses, both by the same classmate and fellow English teacher. Though I was thankful, I feel that I may need to explore my use of hashtags and expand my PLN in order to receive feedback from a variety of teachers.
Through these three experiments with Twitter, both myself and students found success, though that success seemed to be limited to small PLN’s. One of the drawbacks of using Twitter to complete projects is the reliance on other people. Groups are only as strong as their weakest member, and just like with group work, if one person does not participate, it can create tension and anxiety for the rest of the group. My recommendation; always have a backup plan when creating Twitter based assignments, especially ones that depend on responses from others.
Follow me on Twitter @mr_longstaff.
The first few blogs that I read, the audience was all the same; educational blogs written by educators for educators. They were very good tools to gather information on the changing landscape of education towards a more digital style, but were also a bit bland. The writing style was informative; The Seven Strategies for Addressing Digital Confrontation looked more like an informational report that an exciting blog post. I found this to be almost ironic as in the author’s bio she states that she hated traditional school because she found it boring, yet her black and while blog is a representation of the traditions she seems to devalue? She lost me.
Literacy, Tecnology, Policy, Ect… A Blog was seemed more interactive. Still writing for educators from an educator’s standpoint, but gave insight to what worked in the classroom based on experience. The screenshots and pictures created a better sense of someone teaching and creating though experience and positive interaction. It was very easy to navigate, as well as informative and entertaining.
Discovery Education was the most interactive blog. Most teachers are familiar with this blog as almost everyone has an account through their school for materials, videos, lessons, and ideas. Discovery education is set up for teachers to adapt lessons and plans into their curriculum. The blog posts, videos, and lessons are set up by age and content area, and are a great jump off point for connecting curriculum to real world application. They style of writing was the same, for teachers from teachers, but with a more informal tone as it is more a “take what you need” type place that seems to truly value the information they are giving.
Out of all the blogs that I read, the most refreshing and surprising was The Daring School Librarian Blog. This blog was a great tool for educators looking for activities, games, and idea to create interest in their classroom. The design and pictures were fun, and truly made you want to read and navigate through her entire page. I liked the whole setup. Usually people’s impressions of a library are the old notions of boring silence, and this was anything but. The tone was friendly, inviting, and bit informal while still informational.
Reading a blog can be different than other types of reading. The writing on most blogs tends to be less formal while still creating the informational tone. Most blogs tend towards metacognition, or the thinking about one’s thinking, while implementing the strategies discussed, and then relaying the results. Therefore the blog becomes more engaging. I think it is a mistake for blogs to be too formal, then it feels like reading a research paper and lacks the friendly and experienced tone more desire from blogs. When my students blog in class, I tell them that people subscribe and read blogs to feel as if they were getting useful information from a friend.
I never found the comments on blogs to be of much concern, unless they are from others that have tried the lesson or strategy and are giving their takes. Students can read blogs to gather experiences and information before putting something new into practice just like teachers. My students do not blog too much, as forced blogging loses its authenticity, but two assessments for my 9th grade students do have them create and discuss. In our Of Mice and Men unit, the students create a blog giving a first hand account of the harsh realities of life during the Dust Bowl era. They must add in pictures of their farm and create links to other informational web pages. Each group is responsible for three entries, listed in chronological order that deal with a problem they face and how they came to a solution. Each student must also comment on two other blogs in order to help come to a solution. Many students end of selling their farm and moving out towards California as they did in The Grapes of Wrath, or choosing to become migrant farm workers as in Of Mice and Men. This blogging assessment still has the students reading, researching, and writing, but in a more informal blog tone, set up as journal entries, using a 21st century medium.
I am not sure how I feel about ipadio. I think this is a neat feature if people needed to podcast on the fly, such as a journalist in the field, but it seems outdated by today’s standards. The audio itself is not very satisfying as it sounds distorted and “crackly”, and the program does not allow you to edit your podcast in any way. If you make a mistake, you have to rerecord starting from the beginning. As far as the ease of use, yes, this was extremely easy. If I would have known about this application years ago, I could have used it in my first district of employment that had a BYOD policy, as you don't need a mobile device or smart phone, just a landline to create a podcast. In this way, this application is far more inclusive than most that require new devices, computers, and internet access. As far as using it in my classroom, as explained in my podcast below, we use more advanced programs that allow for in-depth creation. Listen below for how you can use Magix Music Maker Jam, an application across all platforms, for creating more advanced podcasts that use sound effects to follow the digital story telling model. Podcast from iPadio. Rss.
RSS and Aggregation
We live in a data driven society. For better or worse, this is a general truth. Aggregating data is a way of synthesizing and compiling data into smaller units based on a common trend, and then delivering said data to the consumer. In other words, when data is aggregated, it is broken down and then presented a simpler form for a specific purpose. With regards to RSS feeds, an individual can organize useful information into set categories or points of interest. For instance, my Feedly organizes and compiles articles and then presents them based on their specific category such as education or technology. It’s like taking all of today’s news, cutting out the excess, and getting streamlined content that relate to your interest of field of study.
As teachers and students shift into a new way of teaching and learning, it is important to stay current with trends and best practices. RSS feeds are a great way to accomplish this goal. As students bog, create, and share, RSS feeds can provide a plethora of information for students, as well as a medium to share their ideas and activities with others. Teachers can use these same feeds to personalize information for their subject and classroom, as well as help facilitate personal learning networks of teachers across the globe using new and innovative practices.
As for specific use within the classrooms, teachers could create RSS feeds for topic research and analysis. There is a profusion of information on any given subject on the web, but there is also a lot of “bad” information on topics too. To help students navigate the tricky waters of web based research, teachers could have their students log into a pre-created RSS feed in order to find journals, articles, and blogs for research. This is especially useful in my Science Fiction class. When researching for their first short story assignment after reading HG Wells’ Time Machine, students must act as a futurist; looking at social, economic, and technological trends in today’s society, and then predicting how those trends will affect their future. Their first short story is then one where they travel forward in time to see describe how today’s trends have changed the world of tomorrow. A class specific RSS feed still allows them to peruse through articles on trends and practices, but also helps cut out the nonsense that is sometimes affiliated with the genre of science fiction, so that they are reading and viewing only the essential information they actually need.
Critical Evaluation: Fake News
“We need to read more nonfiction in our literature classrooms!” This is a charge heard often by those in the English department given by administrators who want to see a rise test scores. Commonly, students seem to score the lowest the elements of nonfiction analysis. But as schools and teachers press students to read more news articles, and increasingly those sources come from the web, a question seems to pop up: what about fake news?
Fake News has been a huge buzz phrase ever since the election of 2016, and though we, in the high school English department, teach propaganda techniques and how to decipher the hidden messages, we often miss this the critical evaluation of these sources. According to the Mentimeter poll, only about half of the teachers surveyed said they show their students how to check their website sources for validity. With so many people falling into the trap of believing fake news, I thought it was important to show my seniors how to fact check and reference their websites and articles. Being an educated consumer of news and media is of the utmost importance in this digital age.
After viewing the survey’s on Kathy Schrock’s webpage, I thought the best course of action was to create my own critical evaluation Google Slide Presentation to help show my seniors how to critically analyze the sites they use for news. Fake News is most prevalent within social media, and according to a recent survey on journalism.org, 62% of teens get their news from these social media apps. The tips provided in the presentation are just four of many that I found to help my students decipher what is real, and what is fake.
For the slide show itself I used the Creative Commons Google image search, as well as three clip art pictures from the Discovery Education website. I like the use of creative commons for students, for as they begin creating more authentic web based projects and assessments, using creative common licensed pictures help them to avoid copyright infringement, and are easily citable. Our students have a Creative Commons filter already installed on their iPads, so every image that they search and use is already filtered through this lens.
Gottfried, J., News across social media platforms: 2016, May 16, 2016. Retrieved on May 28, 2017. from. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/
The work 'False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
This is a sample paddle presentation of the elements of fiction as seen in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. This could be used as a teacher presentation for a short recap of the novel, or as a formative assessment for students post reading.
Elements of Fiction: Slaughterhouse Five
The following video is a small lesson into the characteristics of gerunds and present participles, and how students can tell the difference.
The online presentation tools used this week were fun new ways to introduce “old” concepts. With so many presentation tools available, it’s good to have experience with as many as possible. Personally, I prefer Prezi, but all teachers know that if you use the same application over and over, it becomes tired and loses its authenticity. Students begin to expect it, and something that was once original and unique, becomes boring and old.
This week was the first time that I had used padlet to create a presentation. My only other experience with the program was in an in-service training where we all logged in to the same padlet and posted responses to a question, and then looked at the similarities in the responses to gage our thinking and teaching on a certain topic. For the assignment, I made a simple presentation about how the elements of fiction are presented in a class novel; Slaughterhouse Five. The program was simple to use and created a very nice visual display that would be easy for students to follow. I could use these as review visuals for all the novels read in class. This could also be turned into a formative assessment where a common padlet is created and different groups contribute to each element.
For the second project I chose to create a video using Adobe Spark on one of the parts of speech; Gerunds. These videos could easily be embedded into my class website as a quick refresher for students after a concept is taught. If I were to redo the project for classroom purposes, I would use the side-by-side format and have images as well as text displayed so the students could see the notes and hear the explanation. For my freshman, this tool could also be used as part of a summative assessment where a pair of students teaches the class either a part of speech or grammar concept through the instructional narrative.
Both of these presentations can be done with the iPad that they are issued through the school. Timelines would be adjusted to meet the needs of the student, class, and subject material, but as they have access to their own devices 24/7, technology integration would not be a problem. Because of this, I will be considering adding these presentation tools and assessments into my curriculum for next year.
For one of the assignments this week we were to create a timeline using Google Photos. You can view the project by clicking the button above. This was a timeline in pictures on a random year, using ten pictures for ten events. This was an interesting assignment as it created an album similar to the photos found at the end of a high school year book. This assignment could easily be adapted to a yearbook or journalism class as they start collecting pictures of the events that have helped shape their year. The process was relatively simple as it employed the "drag and drop" method of uploading and arranging photos as well as adding text descriptions. In English class this project could be used in conjunction with class novels or units. For instance my students could create a timeline of events a character experiences to help explain conflict and plot. Or, on a much larger scale, students could create timelines of literary periods, such as the Romantic or Transcendental periods in American Literature.
The following Canva assignment did not turn out as professional as I had hoped. I was having trouble expanding the infographic in order to add the picture citations without making it two pages. Since that didn't seem possible, I created hyperlinks to the images' web pages. For school assignments I usually like using easel.ly. This is a much more user friendly version of an infographic creator that has a web based program as well as apps for both Android and Apple products. Canva is currently only available for Apple and Web applications. More of this will be discussed on this week's blog.
All images reproduced from the Creative Commons Google Image archive.
Richard Branson: https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3312/4628862538_011832f044_z.jpg
Nuclear Power Plant: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Fukushima_1_Nuclear_Power_Plant_07_%28crop%29.jpg
Perisan Gulf War: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/U.S._Marines_in_the_Persian_Gulf_War_%281991%29_001.jpg
Warsaw Pact: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/46/Military_power_of_NATO_and_the_Warsaw_Pact_states_in_1973.svg/1011px-Military_power_of_NATO_and_the_Warsaw_Pact_states_in_1973.svg.png
China Leader: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Yu_Zhengsheng.jpg
Kurt Cobain: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2754/4226435386_f2aa37fe3a.jpg
Haitian Flag: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/56/Flag_of_Haiti.svg/2000px-Flag_of_Haiti.svg.png
Aids Treatment: https://torange.biz/photo/20/20095/20095-FX-6-0-0-0-7-1.jpg
Despite my inability to create beautiful graphics (maybe that's why I am an English teacher) graphic design is a necessary skill for the 21st century student. We are a visual society that desires data to be reproduced into neat little images for our consumption. Read my bog post on infographics and the free tools that students can use to create them by clicking the button below.
PSA Assignment #1
Check out my blog by clinking the button below to view my interpretation of the PSA videos viewed for this week. In my role as a parent I discuss my concerns for my child's education after analyzing the audience and message of each.
PSA Assignment #2
This is a PSA about classroom technology made while still in the role of a concerned parent. It was made with adobe spark, and features many of the concerns parents may have with regards to the education that their children are receiving, or should receive.
An Educational Shift, is your district on board?