Showing posts with label common challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label common challenges. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ten Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #7: Creating Projects

Image Credit: babyCreative
One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on that presentation. Today's post is about resources students can use in developing multimedia projects.

Video Projects
I like having students create videos as class projects because a well designed project requires students to develop a number of skills. In the case of having students create documentary videos or instructional videos, they have to first research their chosen topics and know them well in order to produce a quality product. If you're having students create fiction-based videos they need to write and revise a story line. The same is true for any type of video project you design. Your students need to research, develop a story line (or story board), revise the story line, create the first draft of their videos, then revise their videos after getting input from peers and teachers. For the web-based video creation tools that I recommend, view the slides below. In those same slides you'll also find links to information about Creative Commons, Fair Use, and Copyright.


Podcasting
Much like when you have students create video products, when you have them create a podcast they should plan out the story line or talking points ahead of time. Doing that provides students with a structure to work within which can help them develop clear audio messages. And much like video projects, your students are going to want to revise parts of their podcasts. The first time a person hears his or her own voice on a recording they often cringe. (After years of hearing my own voice on recordings I still sometimes cringe).

My favorite tool for creating podcasts is Apple's Garage Band. If you have access to Garage Band, I think that is the tool to use. If you don't have access to Garage Band, the open source program Audacity is a good alternative. You do have to install Audacity on your computer in order to use it. Some teachers cannot download programs to their school's computers. In those cases there are some nice online tools to try.

Aviary offers a good online audio recording and mixing tool called Myna. Myna offers a great set of tools for recording and mixing multiple tracks. The benefit of using Myna over a tools like Audacity is that students save their works to an online account that they can access from any Internet-connected computer. Aviary now offers an education product that allows teachers to create and supervise students' accounts. If you're a Google Apps for Education school, you can add Aviary to your list of tools through the Google Apps Marketplace.Watch the video below for a demonstration of Aviary's Myna audio recorder and mixer.


If you just want students to quickly create short audio messages, Vocaroo is a handy tool. You cannot edit using Vocaroo, but you can download your recordings to use in an editing service. Vocaroo recordings can also be embedded into your blog or website.

Blogging
At its most basic, blogging is writing for an audience. Last month I outlined and explained what I think are the three fundamental purposes of blogging as a classroom exercise. When talking to teachers about blogging one of the things that I always share is the idea of printing out your students' blogs at the end of a quarter, semester, or year to show them and others how much good work they did. There is something about the visual of seeing 25, 50, 100, or more printed pages that really gives students a tangible sense of accomplishment. There are many tools available for downloading and printing blogs. The two tools for printing blogs that I most often recommend are Anthologize and Blog Booker.

This is part seven of a ten part series of posts about common challenges facing educators. If you're interested in having me speak about this topic or others at your school or conference, please contact me through the Work With Me page.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ten Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #6: Cell Phones

Image Credit: mstephens7
One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on that presentation. Today's post is about cell phones in schools.

Cell Phone Policies
I'm fortunate to work in a school that allows students to use their cell phones. That has not always been the case in my school. In fact, the first time I had students use cell phones in my classroom, it was against the rules. (You can read the full story here). After the class period during which I had my students use their cell phones I promptly walked into my principal's office to explain why I did it. After listening to my explanation, he was not only not mad he gave me his unofficial endorsement to do it again. While I can't take credit for changing the school's policy, I do like to think that I pushed the rock in the right direction.

Last August, Burlington (Massachusetts) High School's Principal Patrick Larkin was featured in a Boston Globe article about his progressive policy of allowing the use of cell phones in his school. Here's one of the stand-out quotes from Patrick: “If they want to cheat, they’re going to cheat,’’ Larkin said, “with technology or anything else.’’ He said he doesn’t see much difference between this and the old scourge of teachers — note passing. “We’ve had no problem with note passing the last few years . . . I wonder why . . . they’re texting!’’ 


Computers in their pockets.
Ask students at random where their textbooks are at any given moment and they might not be able to tell. But ask those same students where their cell phones are and they'll reach into their pockets. Even the most basic of flip phones (the ones you get for a penny with a new contract) can be used for valuable purposes besides calling. From sending a text to Google to creating a video on the go, cell phones can be used in a variety of ways in your classroom. 


Send a text to Google to discover some content that you couldn't find in the textbooks in your classroom. Students can contribute to a group blog by using their phones. Check out mobile.google.com for more ideas. 


Want to survey your students for their feedback, not influenced by a show of hands, about the amount of time it took them to complete an assignment? Try using a service like Text the Mob or Poll Everywhere. You can use these services as cheap or free alternatives to proprietary clicker systems. 


And what about those pixelized black and white codes you see in magazines and on signs lately? Those are QR codes and you can use them in your school. Create a QR Code Treasure Hunt to get your students physically moving while researching. Or try one of the suggestions made by my guest blogger Charity Preston.


Fight 'em or teach 'em?
At the end of the day the issue of cell phones comes down to a question of how do you want to spend your time (or have your faculty spend their time)? Do you want to spend it trying to catch kids using their cell phones under their desks, writing up the paperwork for policy infractions, and other aspects of enforcing a policy that seems to be reserved for airline flights and military complexes? Or would you rather spend that time and effort teaching students how to use the technology they have in their pockets for productive educational purposes? I choose teaching. 


This is part six of a ten part series of posts about common challenges facing educators. If you're interested in having me speak about this topic or others at your school or conference, please contact me through the Work With Me page.

Friday, August 12, 2011

10 Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #5: Giving Every Student a Voice

Image Credit 
One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on that presentation. Today's post is about giving every student a voice through back channels.

What is a back channel?
The short answer is that a back channel is a digital forum through which students can share ideas and post questions while another activity is happening in your classroom. For example, when I give mini-lectures I create back channels through TodaysMeet. Through that forum students can post questions as they come up. I also use back channels when students watch news clips and or documentaries. Students ask their clarifying questions and I respond to them while the students are watching the video. For some ideas on using back channels in elementary school classrooms, read this article that I posted last year.

These are the slides that I use when running workshops about using back channels in your classroom.
Backchannels in the classroom
View more presentations from Richard Byrne

This is part five of a ten part series of posts about common challenges facing educators. If you're interested in having me speak about this topic or others at your school or conference, please contact me through the Work With Me page.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

10 Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #4: Helping Students Research and Organize

One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on my presentation. Today's post is about helping students search more effectively and organize what they find.

About Wikipedia




Whether you love it or hate it, your students are going to look at Wikipedia. Yes, even if you tell them not to or have your school Internet filter block it, they will use it. Rather than fight them every step of the way try showing them how they can use Wikipedia effectively to start an investigation into a topic. There are two tools that can help students narrow their investigations from a broad topic like "fishing" to "Atlantic fisheries management." Wiki Mind Map and Wiki Summarizer both do a good job of helping visitors narrow searches from a broad topic to a narrow topic.

Google and other public search engines
Give a student almost any type of research assignment and he or she will almost always head straight to Google. If they're not properly introduced to Google's advanced search tools like limiting searches to a domain or limiting searches by usage rights, then they're not getting the best possible results. To help you help your students make better use of Google search, I've created the short tutorial that you see below.


Wolfram Alpha, the computational search engine, is not one that I personally use frequently because the type of content I'm typically searching for isn't often found in Wolfram Alpha. You see Wolfram Alpha is focused on content that is numerical in nature. Although it is also very handy for pulling up a quick fact sheet about a country or political leader. For a demonstration of Wolfram Alpha try searching for Mount Everest then after that fact sheet is generated search "Mount Everest to K2" and see how the numerical nature of Wolfram Alpha shines. Or try typing an equation to see the result. To compare Google results with Wolfram Alpha results give Goofram a try.

Sweet Search is a search engine designed for students. The links in Sweet Search are reviewed for appropriateness for school settings. Sweet Search 4 Me is a version of Sweet Search designed for elementary school students.

If you really want to narrow down your students' search options you can create your own search engine using Google Custom Search. When you create your custom search engine you specify the websites that you want to appear in the search results. Then when students use your search engine you know that the only links they will find are to sites that you have specified. You can learn how to create your own search engine in the tutorial below.


Keeping track of links
The "old" way of keeping track of the useful things you find online is to bookmark them in your browser. There are three problems with that. First, you can only access those bookmarks from that one computer. Second, it is difficult (if not impossible in some cases) to attach a note to that bookmark to remind yourself why you bookmarked that link in the first place. Third, it is difficult to share bookmarks that are married to the browser on your computer.

Introduce your students to tools like Diigo, Google Bookmarks, and YoLink for bookmarking the links they find useful while researching a topic. With all three of these tools (and countless similar services) they can not only bookmark a link that they can access from any computer they can also make notes about why they bookmarked that link. In the case of YoLink students can even send their links directly to a Google Documents document. All three services allow students working on group projects to easily share bookmarks and their attached notes with each other.

This is part four of a ten part series of posts about common challenges facing educators. If you're interested in having me speak about this topic or others at your school or conference, please contact me through the Work With Me page.

Monday, August 8, 2011

10 Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #3: Differentiation

Image Credit: Nickwheeleroz
One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on my presentation. Today's post is about some of my favorite resources for finding differentiated reference materials.

Video
It was during a classroom viewing of a reel-to-reel movie (yes, I'm just barely old enough to have experienced those an all of their frequently jamming glory) that I realized that I really enjoyed the stories of history. It wasn't until much later after my freshman year of college that I decided to really study history. Fast forward to 2011 and there is 35 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute. The point is, video is a popular and engaging medium. Unfortunately, many schools block all access to YouTube in classrooms. If you find yourself in that situation, here are 47 Alternatives to Using YouTube in the Classroom.

Podcasts, Open Courses, and Audio Books
No longer is access to the world's most highly regarded scholars limited to those who can afford an Ivy League education. Through iTunes U and other channels like Yale's Open Courses anyone can watch and listen to Ivy League lectures. In many cases the hand-outs and assignments are available to accompany open lectures.

Books Should Be Free provides audio recordings of hundreds of books in the public domain. Recordings hosted on Books Should Be Free are available for online listening or downloading to your computer and or iPod.

Books and Other Reading Materials
One of my favorite resources for expanding my students' reading choices is Google Books. With Google Books I can create and share virtual shelves of books with each of my classes. I typically will do this when giving students a Civil War reading assignment. Our school's library only has about 30 books on the Civil War that are appropriate for the assignment. To offer more reading choices, I search Google Books for books that can be downloaded in their entirety from Google Books.

This year Google added a reading level filter to their search engine, but their rankings of reading material by "basic," "intermediate," and "advanced" makes you wishing for a little more refinement. For more refinement of search results according to reading level give Twurdy a try.

Friday, August 5, 2011

10 Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #2: Selection

Image Credit: BenYankee
One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on my presentation. Today's blog post is about selecting appropriate technology resources for your classroom.

Time and the Learning Curve
One of the things that I consider when selecting resources to share with some just starting to explore the uses of web tools in his/ her classroom is the amount of time it will take for that person to feel comfortable enough to use it with students. Connected to the time factor is the learning curve associated with a tech tool. One of my goals when running workshops for people who are new to using technology in their classrooms is to have them feel like they can "do this." Another goal that I have is to make people see the value of using a technology tool that is new to them. Therefore, I often start out with tools like Google Docs or Wikispaces because the text editors will feel somewhat familiar to people who have used word processing programs and then we can build up to the collaboration features of both of those resources.

Where to learn about appropriate resources
During presentations I often will talk about curating resources from social media platforms. To that end I like to point out Twitter search and occasionally, depending on the time and audience, show a licensed copy of Twitter Search Plain English. I also highlight networks like Classroom 2.0 and The Educators PLN as examples of places where teachers can learn from each other about tech resources for their classrooms. Finally, I show the contents of my Google Reader account to illustrate how much material you could sort through in a day if you had the time. Then after blowing people's minds with the thought of sorting through my RSS reader I'll highlight a handful of blogs that do a great job of curating and sharing the best the web has to offer for teachers.

This is part two of a ten part series of posts about common challenges facing educators. You can read part one here. Come back on Monday for part three.

If you're interested in having me speak about this topic or others at your school or conference, please contact me through the Work With Me page.

Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Common Challenges Facing Educators

Today, I had the great pleasure and honor to keynote the opening of the Arizona K12 Center's Pima County Tech Camp. Below are the slides from my presentation.