Archive for May, 2007

Reading Vocabulary and Technology

 

Reading

Vocabulary is the basis for good reading not only in English but in other subject areas.

English teachers can show the students a thematic based picture of vocabulary items at the start of each lesson. For example, the teacher may show a Google picture of twenty different animals and have the students, in groups of two, identify each of these. The teacher can have a whole class review. This brief daily vocabulary review helps the students increase their vocabulary.

When students identify which word in a group does not fit, they are sharpening their vocabulary reading skills. The teacher can show four words such as A-Robber B-Thief C- Villain D- Crook and the students respond with their Personal Response System clickers.

 

Students can be given a word and they create an Inspiration map with meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and the word used in a sentence. Students can compare each other’s maps. In addition, students can create associated word maps for a given word such as war. They can use the Flickr third party program of airtightinteractive to see various other words (tags) associated with the initial word.

As students use electronic talking books, the books read to them and pronounce words. These books can be CD-ROM or online.

How else do you use technology to improve students’ reading?

 

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

 

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YouTube Instructional Videos- Let’s Improve Them!

Golden Star

Last night I watched On the Lot in which amateur movie makers have one minute to show their story. I’m fascinated by how much can be told in a minute. Look at the story that commercial tells – some in fifteen seconds. When I compare these videos to a multitude of teacher and student made YouTube-ish videos, I notice several startling differences.

Videos get you into the story immediately. Many teacher and student videos take a long time before we even know what the story is (other than the title). Music plays for 15 seconds and then a title slide appears. In another video 1/7 of the total time was in a song which had nothing to do with the teaching part of the video.

Videos get to the critical part of the story quickly. Many teacher and student videos describe what they are doing without telling what the students are learning. “We had fun doing this experiment. We opened the rocks……..” So what did “we” learn? Have students tell more about the important part (learning) than the description part (actions). Have teachers focus more on explaining what the experiment did what it did.

Videos do not repeat the same story over and over. Many teacher and student videos have groups of students saying the same thing. We do not need to hear five groups each saying “We had fun doing this experiment. We opened the rocks……..” Either have each group say something very different or only show one group.

Videos use close ups to show the details of something important. Many teacher and student videos use the same type shot for a group of students as for a critical object. Get in close. Let us see it clearly.

Videos do not include distractions. Every shot contributes to the purpose of the video. Students running around for the comedic value distracts from the learning. Videos showing all of the room are not important in a learning video about chemistry. Use a non-distracting background. Bring in a solid color sheet and drap it over things to create a quick non-distracting background

Videos focus on their purpose. If the stated purpose is for students to show how well they learned a certain letter like “D,” then there should be a multitude of clips of “D” things. Otherwise the video is just a glorified album of class pictures. Make sure your video is an instructional video. What will others know or be able to do after watching your video? I felt that after most videos, if I imagined myself a student, I knew nothing new nor could I do something. INSTRUCTIONAL video.

Videos let you hear the speakers. Have students and teachers speak loudly and clearly. Keep the background music soft so that the speakers can be easily heard. Do not include copyrighted music. Have the rest of the class keep quiet so their talking is not distracting. “Silence please. We are recording.”

Videos uses visuals effectively. Video visuals give information. Do not just talk, rap, or sing, show the information in visuals as well. Use arrows, signs, and other visuals to emphasize the information. 4×6 sticky-notes with large letters can be effective labels. Each visual moves the story along.

All of the previous suggestions are based on watching teacher/student videos.

Please plan out instructional videos so that other teachers and students can learn new concepts and can do new actions as a result of your video. Only upload instructional videos, not “here is our class” or “watch us goof off” types of videos.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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TeacherTube: A Good Start

TeacherTube

An educational version of YouTube is TeacherTube-Teach the World. It was launched on March 6, 2007 and its stated purpose is to share instructional videos.

I did some searches:
Science experiment – 1
Science – 25 (9 are made of students telling about an experiment)
Civil War – 6
English – 25 (Many are ESL)
Poetry -18
Math -25
Spanish – 23 (Some for learning Chinese, some commercial websites)

Some things that TeacherTube could do to improve:

— Spread the word so that more educators contribute to it and use it.

–Have people use better tags. I did not find the Dr. Altman Generating Electricity video under science experiment or science. I had to know it was Physics or Electricity. Taggers should always include the subject area, grade level, the topic, and the specific aspect of the topic. Electricity could be several other topics such as hydropower, coal burning, and nuclear reactors. Numerous taggers only use their name as the tag.

— List the time on the video in minutes. For Dr. Altman Generating Electricity the run time is in seconds such as 228 but when the video plays the time in minutes in 3:46. I think most teachers would like the time in videos.

— Some videos are very long -like 28 minutes. Student can pay attention to shorter videos of 3-5 minutes but longer ones may bore students and others. Dedicate one video to one concept.

– Limit the site to just teacher and student made videos, do not allow commercial companies in.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Big View of Students’ Learning

airplane

As I was flying back from my son’s wedding, the plane flew over the area about 20 miles north of my city. Yet, I could not recognize any of the area from the sky. I did not have a big view of the area, only a “I see it as I drive through it” view.

I think that view of the daily “what I see” in the classroom does not always translate into what we know about a student. When someone asks us, how a student is doing we often give a letter grade “Oh, he is doing about B+ work” or “She has high grades on all her tests.” We do not have a big view of how the student is doing on the standards. “He is doing great in English” does not get translated the more precise view of “He is above proficiency in the Standard 1 aspect of listening and responding.”?

Do you use a spreadsheet or some other technology to help you have a big view of students’ learning rather than just a grade view? Can you quickly tell a parent how his or her child is doing in terms of the critical standards for your subject area?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Excitement and Joy in Learning

 

wedding

Today my son, Alan, married Sarah. A wonderful happy time. There were many people taking digital pictures and digital movies. These digital images will capture the facts of the wedding but not the excitement and joy of the people there.

Do we have students use technology for the factual aspects of learning or rather we use technology for students to experience the excitement and joy of learning. Do we have our students look up facts, do fact-based WebQuest, and create fact-filled PowerPoints? Or do we have our students solve real-life problems, do compare and contrast WebQuests, and create aha PowerPoints? Does technology open windows to inquiry learning for our students or does it close the door on limited learning?

Spanish students can look at look at various Flickr images of Ecuador to compare it to their state’s geography, areas of settlement, types of buildings, and transportation. Social Studies students can videoconference with students in another state about local issues such as public transportation, private vs public schools, school security, drugs, and gangs.

It takes a slight modification of the usual way of doing technology-infused learning to change it into exciting joyous learning. The shouts of “Come look at this!”, “Wow, I never realized…..” , and “Amazing!” reveal their exciting joyous learning. Do you hear those shouts in your classroom?

Share your ideas about making standards-based learning joyous and exciting.

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YouTube Educational Videos or Just Comic Videos

Unfortunately, at present there are not many worthwhile classroom videos that teach or share ideas about specific learning. Most are “commercial ” ones or ones ripped from TV shows. There are many student produced “This is an experiment we did” videos (So what science principle does it show? Why does what happens happen?). Many are put up for the comic value or ego value instead of their educational value. The K12 Educators area of YouTube has minimal teacher or student made instructional videos.

I would guess that about 20% of the YouTube videos are teacher or students made and of those about 5% are instructional. This translates as about 1% of YouTube videos are teacher or student made and are instructional.

If we work together we can change that percentage. Let’s try for 10% by Nov. 2007. Please help to put up teacher and student made instructional YouTube videos.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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YouTube Classroom Use When Blocked By School Filter

Video Downloader

At home you have found some great YouTube videos produced by other classes that directly address your chosen standard. At school the next day, you go to open the YouTube video and you find that YouTube is blocked by your school’s filtering system. You were not planning on showing the videos for a few days but you are still upset. You complain to another teacher. James tells you how to overcome the block.

The steps are simple:

Find the YouTube video that you want.

Copy the YouTube url

Paste the url into a conversion site such as TechCrunch. This is will convert it to flv format. Remember where you save it.

You may want to rename the file with a name to describe the actual video instead of the random letters that YouTube assigns it. I would not know what the file name v=tP34F8XSXe4 means but I would understand USCivilWar

(You can add a YouTube downloader as an extension to Firefox.)

Download a flv player from a sites such as Applian.

Install the player, open it, and open your chosen YouTube video. Enjoy.

Once you have a way to convert the YouTube movies to flv and to play them with a Flv player, you can show your students standard-based YouTube videos.

If you know of any non-commerical other easy ways of converting YouTube to flv, let me know.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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