Wednesday, February 13, 2013
My biggest problem is what to get!
I really enjoy my own tablet, but use it mostly for reading, browsing, or quick social media responses. The onscreen keyboard is a drawback for me (in a pinch I use a USB one), but the biggest drawback for the secondary English classroom, I think, is that you are limited to doing one thing at one time. This drives me crazy when I'm cooking. I like to follow a recipe and listen to youtube at the same time, so I break out the multi-task Chromebook. Plus, I don't think they'd wear well in an all-boys high school.
I'd love to get a set of chromebooks, not the least of which because I could afford two sets of them. At $249/ea you can't go wrong. However, my own students spend computer time creating - using audio/visual tools to create and edit video and sound that they can use and/or embed as presentations and case studies. I'm not sure the Chromebook will allow us that ability - what do you all think? Anyone with some experience here who could chime in with an opinion? Are there online audio/video tools that are of good quality?
I think this is probably where the money will be spent. We can get decent 8-gig Toshiba laptops for a reasonable (for NZ) $600, excluding our multi-purchase/school discount. Laptops have the advantage of multi-tasking with tools on the HDD. The drawback, of course, is the price. When you can buy two Chromebooks for less than one laptop, well...
I'd like to hear what you have to say, so please leave a comment about what you're doing and how it's working for you.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The winner, Laird, will receive a highly coveted Twinkie from my stash. What do you think of his work?
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Lastly, the boys each created and edited a 30-60 second video on their view of the state of technology in secondary schools (will post some of these as they finish). Some of them have come from very highly resources intermediates, so these were quite interesting! This video will be used in a presentation to the BoT next month, when Steph and I present our literacy initiative.
Very lastly, I created a survey in Google Drive so the boys could vote for the best trailer (prize: one of my final Twinkies!). I also surveyed them after the unit to see what they enjoyed the most (or didn't), what skills they had learnt (or taught), and what they would recommend to other students (and the BoT). I highly recommend giving it a go. Although the boys weren't too happy to be limited to creative commons (and a couple tried to get around it!), they came up with some integrated concepts.
Of course, the project was not without its pitfalls. The boys couldn't directly download sounds from the soundbanks, so they had to find the ones they wanted, email the links to me, and I would download them and put them into Student Data. They also cannot access youtube, so they emailed me again when their videos were completed, and I uploaded them from their network accounts. I then emailed them back the link to make the QR codes, which they printed and gave to Steph, who printed them on colour paper, laminated them, and posted throughout the library. Now all we need is wireless! Total amount of non-teaching time for me to do things they should have been able to do themselves: 6 hours (there's 30 of them; 1 of me).
Monday, October 1, 2012
Summary of technology used this year:
As you can tell from my last 2 posts, it hasn't been a banner year. I have tried, within the limitations I have, to utilise as much tech as I can, but the students themselves have so little access, that of the time they spend trying to create a project, I spend twice as much time having to create/upload/download/convert their work that it's a major turn-off. We have had very little access this year, including a 2 week period where one teacher booked our only resource for four weeks straight for word processing, and another closed their lab for an entire term so the THREE students who put together the yearbook could have the whole lab.
Ok, enough whinging.
This year, my year 13 students have utilised Prezi (for the first time for them - so proud!) to present their oral presentations. they did a great job! what wasn't great: my laptop not connecting to the data projector, the network going down during their presentation time (several days in a row, and several times in a period) and the load-time for any embedded audio/visuals.
My year 12 students have created a film study google doc for the tv mini-series they studied. This involved me having to watch several hours out of class to rip stills for them to use to illustrate their points, which was fine by me as long as they were using them. I found using google docs for collaborative work better than a wiki, because they can all create in one place at the same time.
My year 9 students have created a film wiki. They didn't enjoy this as much because 1) they couldn't access the film shorts on youtube while working on their pages, 2) only one person per group could post at one time, and 3) they couldn't upload anything to the wiki themselves; they had to wait for me to do it. What was really cool was that we were able to ask Simon Pegg questions!
My year 10 students worked with Fakebook again this year. This will be the last time I use Fakebook in class. The site requires a number of steps to be done in a certain order before the page can be saved (and edited), and they struggled greatly with this, constantly losing their pages and having to start from scratch. The student who persevered won a coveted twinkie.
Right now, my Year 9s are working on a project that our Librarian and I collaborated on. They are creating book trailers for their chosen texts. Once completed, I have to upload them to google docs myself, then email them the link so they can create a QR Code. The code is then printed for 1) the cover of the library book and 2) a space in the library that the Librarian has prepared. We decided to do this project to increase literacy, always an issue in a boys' school, and to present to the BoT what students can do when they have access.
I've also had the boys prepare a 30-60 second speeches where they state what they expected to be doing in high school (technology-wise) and how those expections have been met. I'm going to edit these speeches into one video.
When the tasks are complete (had hoped this would be done by the end of the term, but it takes me 15 minutes on our network to upload each trailer to youtube, sigh), the Librarian and I are going to request to be on the agenda at a BoT meeting and have a 2-part presentation: 1) this great project, and 2) what's really going on at our school tech-wise and a plan for what can be done about it.
And that pretty much sums up this year.
one of the reasons i used facebook was getting back in touch with old friends. it was pleasing to see what everyone was up to. i was able to enjoy a friend's remarriage, see everyone's kids, etc, etc, all that stuff you do as a facebooker. living 12K miles away from everyone i knew in "real life," fb was like a lifeline home when i felt lonely or struggled with culture differences. i used fb to keep up with my sister, auntie & cousins, and through them, my mother and grandmother, on a daily basis.
before the internet, as a marine brat, i moved a lot (17 different schools between grades 1-12!), and was very familiar with the little fact of life that people do not keep in touch, no matter how hard you try to keep the lines of communication open. so why was i surprised that when i left facebook, i never heard from my "real life" friends again?
so i've had a think about it. and i realised that, with the exception of my very best friend, the people who have "been there" for me over the last 10 years have been those i've met online. when i've needed assistance with something, when i want to relax and have some down-time, when i want to chit-chat about things i like, my friends have been my online friends. when i went through a rough patch a few years ago, the person who spoke with me all the time and helped me through it was someone i've never met in person (but whom i've now "known" for about 13 years - wow time flies! you know who you are ;-)).
the people from fb i have heard from since leaving? the ones i've met online (and who are, clearly, technologically adept). in the meantime, my so called real (before technology) friends have been neither seen nor heard from. no one has used any other service to keep in touch - not email, another social network, or even the bloody phone! even my own sister, who, to be fair, rarely engaged with me on fb anyhow, hasn't been heard from in weeks. it's as if my family and friends' only contact with the outside world is through facebook, as if facebook IS the internet for them. i find that rather horrifying.
there's some people out there who think that people like us should "get off the internet and go interact with real people." those people have no idea what they're talking about. and now that i've thought about this a bit, i'd like to say thanks. here's a hearty thank you to my truly *real* friends - those i have met via random bulletin boards, online groups, twitter, g+...those friends who have been there for fun, when i've needed help, and who just pop by to say "hi" or post a random photo of nice things just because they're nice people. you guys make my day.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
firstly, if the kids didn't have an android phone, they didn't have an app store (or, at least, not an icon labelled "app store" or "app market"). however, most of them had downloaded apps in the past, and knew how to get about it, and then we shared bluetoothing the links to each other so everyone could participate. i explained to them how when i chose my app, i used my laptop to see others' reviews of each app before i decided on which one i would d/l for myself, and encouraged them to do the same.
then came the next problem. most kids don't have plans. they spend their $10-$20/month on a text-only top up. that means that while they could d/l the app, they couldn't actually go to the site and use the flashcards on their mobiles, which was the intention ("class in their pockets"). one boy announced that in the course of d/ling the app (at home) he had burned through his whole month's top up - bound to be a telecom phone, that one!
so...if the kids can scan qr codes, but can't actually visit the site it leads to, how helpful is the qr code in engaging them? something more to ponder.
in related news, i found a whole bunch of qr codes on car mags my husband had brought home from the states last month, and our local paper had one last week in an ad, and so did the cinema! they are certainly getting everywhere.
what did you do last week?