Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Novel Soundtrack

I really enjoyed the group who had the soundtrack task.  I had to do a very similar project in High School.  It was an independent book reading project, where he had a list of books we could choose from and every few weeks a report was due.  There were different assignments we could choose from as well.  Traditional paper, soundtrack (5 songs with a reflection as to why they were choosen), cast list for a movie version (again it was X actors and rationale as to why), and a few others I can't remember.  I choose to do a soundtrack for Tim OBrian's The Things They Carried.  I had a great time with it and burned a cd that actually had 14 songs on it (although I explained only 5).  The teacher loved it so much he asked if I would make him an extra copy for a friend of his that loved the book too.  Just jokingly I said, "give'm yours" and he quickly replied, "no way! I love this. I've been listening to it in the car."  I gave him another copy and he said that moments when a student really gets the book and the assignment are times that make everything else worth it. I won't forget that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A few other sites that may be useful

I am in High Incident Disabilities this semester.  He had a do two projects this semester.  Some of his options were interesting sites.  I'll list ones that I didn't use first that may still be helpful to us, is a text to movie site. allows you to create a multipage website.  I have played with which allows you to create a round of Jeopardy with point (cash) value.  Great for a review game!  Another one was Go!Animate.  I created a project that discusses Tourette Syndrome.  If you want to check it out as an example, feel free to click here.  I actually had fun with it.  That is all for now.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Swamped People

It seems like its always this time of year when people are dragging themselves around, not wanting to do anything and everything is becoming due. 

I wonder if there is anyway to turn the decent weather and the overworked to the point of apathy outlook into a motivation.  I have a personal stock in this task, but I'll get to it later...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trout Season

"What was big was not the trout, but the chance.  What was full was not my creel, but my memory."-Aldo Leopold

This Saturday is opening day of Trout Season.  It's the time of year where I can look forward to cuts, scrapes, sunburns, and smiles.  I think having a hobby allows you to understand people a little better.  It allows you to step back and say "just because I don't enjoy it doesn't mean it is wrong."  I look forward to hours of time spent casting and retrieving with a glorious chance that I can entice a fish to strike.  That may sound dumb to others, but that is what a hobby is all about, finding yourself in something that may not make sense to everyone.  And because I can see that, I try to stay with the mentality that if something makes that person happy and I don't get it, who is the fool?

I mention this not only because I'm excited in getting a line wet again, but because all of our students will bring in something that defines them.  I am an outdoorsman, and I cannot divorce that part of me.  I know students will come in with hobbies that literally have helped them define who they are and what they believe.  That may lead to great interpretations and perspectives in the literature we teach.  This may be a way for us to reach a student and leave a lasting impression and reason to read.  We had Hatchet and Where the Red Fern Grows that stuck out to me in 7th grade.  I found many independent reading on my own based on nature writing.  I think that if we can find what interests our students, we can get them to actively participate in reading.

YouTube and video supplemented or (BUFFERING) based?

I'm in a class this semester, and I won't name it, but it seems that every class is based on video clips (mainly from YouTube).  They may be helpful in providing real-life examples, but I think there is a fine line of just too much.  Not only that, but with technology based classes and lessons, there should be some understanding of operation.  Buffering is annoying enough when I'm at home, but dead class time with a slow server and the instructor acting like this never happens when it happens every clip every day doesn't make sense to me.  It is one of those moments I think "I don't want to do that when I teach."  If there is a video clip that is important to the lesson, there are means to embed it into the slide (which may take extra work) or they can be converted and saved to a flashdrive and rid the buffering problem, or simply opening them before class on the site and pausing them until they are needed so there is no lag from buffering.  It just amazes me that not only does this happen often, but there is no lecture or setup or further discussion while we all wait for buffering...  I don't know why I had this rant, but there it is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Looking at some missed DARs on theChive... Found Something

I'm sure there are not too many Chivers or Chivettes in this class, but a link about Kurt Vonnegut struck me as very interesting.  To sum it up for you, a High School English teacher taught Slaughterhouse 5 until the admin went in uproar.  They proceeded to burn all the books they deemed foul and coarse.
Here's what the author sent to the wow.

Simple Forms of NonPrint

I really enjoyed the Process Drama exercises in class on Wednesday.  I hope to someday try things like that in my classroom.  It's interesting to see not only quick improv skills, but see what everyone's interpretation of the character is.  Like Alyssa said in class, and I agree, portraying (or imagining) the character allows for a deeper connection, empathy, and understanding.  If that can be achieved, there might be a fondness developed with the text.  I know I always enjoy novels or short stories in which a character reminds me of myself, this is a way to make a character like yourself or make yourself like a character.  It goes hand in hand.  I think it is an important skill for students, and it comes natural to us as English majors, but this may be a way to introduce that connection to students who do not necessarily think in that way.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Power of Words

One thing that I absolutely love about books is that the only interaction is with text.  The text has the power to create images and emotions.  Written words, simply words on a page, can have you up in arms or in tears.  They have the ability to move you.  They can persuade you, keep you open minded and empathetic, or can support a believe and provide foundation.
When I become a teacher, I want to start everyday by writing a quote on the board.  Not necessarily focus on it, but hope that the students will read it and ask about it.  I've written a few of my favorites down and even have some from memory.  Perhaps I'll make them relate to the lesson, but I don't think it would be necessary.
Everything from Aldo Leopold's "Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another," or Emerson's "Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense" or even "I've gone to look for myself. If I get back before I return, keep me here.- (I don't know who said/wrote it)"
  I was just thinking that we all have works, texts, and words that have impacted us, and many times a quote has that power.  It may be another way to get the students interested in the power of words.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What we're up against...

I don't know why I read articles like this, or like this, or like this.  I try to remain optimistic about teaching aspects, but realistically... its becoming more and more difficult to see a silver lining of the dark clouds.  Budget cuts, ALWAYS! I'm not against accountability, but is this fair?  Testing is EVERYTHING!  How are we to teach successfully?  Does that score mean everything?
  Even before I planned on being a teacher, I understood how important teachers are, and how important (and constitutionally right) public education is.  I fail to understand why this is happening all around. 
I know one does not become a teacher for the money.  I know one should not become a teacher for vacations.  Teachers main driving points are to make an influence and help students reach a potential that the students did not even know they possess.  It is because of that that I hold on hope.

I wish I had known about Zotero earlier in my ed career

I should start by saying Mozilla Firefox is the ideal for this Zotero program.  This is a great way to keep online research organized, while also allowing you to keep bookmarks, citation information, highlights, notes, and many other features on a page.  I'm still playing with and learning about Zotero, but I wish I would have found this earlier for all the research papers I have had to write.  It is free and I think this is a great program for students.
We have discussed many sites that allow for bookmarking, highlighting, organizing, and collaborating, but I find Zotero to be superior to them.  Like I said though, I installed it onto my computer at the beginning of the semester, so I'm still learning its features.  One of which, unlike the ones discussed in class, is that you can open your browser offline and still have access to the webpages that you have added into Zotero and edit the page with your highlights and notes etc..

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Podcasting Project

As odd as it may seem, I actually enjoyed making the podcast.  I've had Audacity on my computer, and I thought it was pretty easy to use.  I was able to edit music, place where we wanted to record, edit separate tracks, add effects... it was easy and fun.  Even the host-site we used, podbean, was easy to figure out and looked pretty good.  Just wish Jake and I weren't both battling colds and sore-throats for the recording, but still turned out alright.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Extra Blog and a Resource

I don't know how many of you are familiar with open-source software, but basically it is a free alternative to commercial software and programs.  (Such as OpenOffice rather than Microsoft Office.) 
Since some discussions we have had in class revolve around cost, perhaps there are alternatives out there for what we are wanting to do.  I found an excellent site that has links to download open source software with a brief description of the program, while also selecting which ones would be best for the education/teaching field. This is just one of the many places you can find Audacity for the podcast if you wish to use it.
A computer geek friend of mine absolutely loves open source software, and if he trusts it, I trust it.  These programs also allow people (like my friend) to edit the software in hopes of improving it so it can be shared again.  Anyway, something to look into.  If you like photoshop, or the idea of it without the price, try Gimpshop.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lesson 12- Cyber Ethics

I can't remember who did the presentation on the collaborative essay, but I think it is an interesting idea.  Nowadays, people need to learn how to collaborate and work together, and the Googledocs assignment is a great way to get people to practice that type of gathering, organizing, developing, and presenting as a team.  I have not been able to utilize Googledocs myself, but want to try it out for our podcast paper, just so I can see if it is easy to use or not.  I feel that this kind of activity not only replicates real-world situations, but also alleviates some social anxiety.  I know there are some students out there who do not like working in groups because they may get stuck with all the work while the other partners may do nothing, or feel that the final product is lacking because the individual parts do not flow.  This would allow them all to edit and revise the same paper which will create better flow.  This assignment may also allow the student who is not in a group with his friends an opportunity to contribute equally and never feel left out.
I just feel that because many occupations out there have teams presenting one idea, this could be splendid practice.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Dinner

While on break at work, I found a tattered Sharon Herald and read an article about free after school dinner to children who qualify for free (and I believe reduced) lunches.  The article told of several states who have after school meal plans.  I think the school had to have over 60% poverty level students in order to receive the funding.  I thought it was a great idea.  Especially when the someone for the program pointed out that we (as teachers) expect a lot of concentration and work from a child who may be more worried about whether there will be food when he gets home.  By providing the basic three meals, perhaps we could see these students fill their full potential.  There is opposition, but the only voice they used in opposition came from radio Jackass (at least I believe that is his full title) Rush Limbaugh who said something along the lines of "free meals! *hwahf haha oink* why even bother sending the kids home?"  I can't imagine he has ever missed a meal, but maybe I'm the ass for thinking that we should take care of our American children in need.  I can't think of too many times I've ever had to go without (if there was a single time I had to do without the basics), but knowing people who have makes me see this as a good idea.  What are your thoughts on this?

After some searching I found the same article here if you want to read it yourself.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some Thoughts

So I've given some thought after T.O. asked us what we thought of the text.  I feel like the book was not written for our generation, but is something important.  I feel like the text would do better at giving us a list of proven online tools and then we could discuss the adaptations and benefits, ways to utilize it in the classroom.  Not that the text is bad or that there is nothing to learn from it, but it seems to be pushing the advantages of technology on a group of students who have grown up with technology and have computers in their bookbag, desktop, or even purse or pocket.  Kinda like preachin' to the choir.  It seems that when we discuss the programs in class, it isn't that we can't use or figure out the programs, but just never heard of them.
I do feel like older teachers (ones who have not embraced technology simply because it can be overwhelming) may need the younger teachers of our generation to bring them up to date when it comes to technology.  I have heard an older teacher from my alma mater talk about how in-service days may well be spent by younger teachers going over technology and software and online programs with the older teachers while the older teachers show the benefits of "old school" methods to the youngun's.
Not too bad of an idea, I agree with him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What'n the world made yins wanna teach anyhow?

I'm curious to see what the inspiration of the rest of you all in the class is.  It'll be easy comment points and all I'm asking is to talk about yourselves, shouldn't be too bad.  I'll start.
I graduated from a small town school in 2004, then took a year off to camp, fish, and joke around.  I began working a factory job in February of 2005 (Valentine's Day to be exact, but I had nothing better to do).  From the start, I knew it was not for me, but I worked full-time midnight shift for three years before deciding I must go back to school.  Because the love of my life is the outdoors, I came to SRU for Park and Resource Management.  In High School (and even still now in college) I was a jackass of all subjects, I am a B range student in everything so find it difficult to see any strengths.  College Writing I with Dr. Balok (taken my second semester) was the turning point.  She became a mentor and finally talked me into looking deeper into myself to see what strengths I had.  Some of the most influential people in my life have been my teachers.  I have always wanted to make a difference in the world (especially since I can't seem to achieve that behind the thick factory walls and over the loud hum of machinery), and teaching may be the perfect way for me to do so.  Although there are still a few times that I doubt my abilities to be a teacher, I feel like this is one of the things I was meant to do. 

So...What brings you here?

Friday, February 10, 2012

An interesting article, and a rant! 2 for 1 latenight.

     I know it seems as if I'm the one constantly talking about how these textbooks assume everyone has access to resources.  But I came from a school where learning Oregon Trail on an outdated computer (given I am older than most of the class, but not by much) is the pinnacle of computer training.  Well, that's not quite fair, my sophomore year seen a newer computer lab (newer to us, still not cutting edge). As a senior, I learned Paint, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel (the earlier versions than other schools had).  My girlfriend now works for that school, and there is still not much progress when it comes to technology.  Let's face it, technology and resources go hand in hand. 
     I have recently read a New York Times article that brings this dilemma into light.  The standardized tests play a part in the haves and the have-nots.  This article shows that there are problems that NEED to be addressed and adapted because the high-income families are being granted better access and therefore better education and success than low-income families.
     This country promised all of us and our future generations that you are not doomed to father's fate, that with elbow-grease and education you can rise to become whatever you set your heart on.  But if our current educational system keeps failing to give ALL students chances... the ceiling may just be scraping the scalps of many students' cowered heads.

More about Comic Life!

If you were interested in the software that was the focus of my presentation, you can download it for free here.  If you wish to keep using it for free, after 30 days the software will add a watermark to the comics you create (which I wouldn't see as that big of a deal).
I do think this software is great for creative works, and we have discussed in class the possible importance of graphic novels to help aide certain works.  This could provide an opportunity for the students to create their own graphic chapter of a novel, add a catchy spin to their research, or create an interesting mini-memoir with actual pictures.
The program is extremely user friendly. (The presented comic only took me a few minutes to create and I am by no means a tech savvy guy.)  The panel templates, pictures, text, and  thought and speech bubbles are simply click and drag into the workspace.  It is quick and easy to learn and may even provide an interesting way to introduce a lesson you want the students to grasp and be motivated for quickly.
Here is my creation from Comic Life!
As you can see, Comic Life provides a few editing tools that help actual pictures from my vacation look as though they are painted, drawn, or shaded like a graphic novel.  You can also leave the editing out as I have done with the pictograph on the bottom right.  All in all, I think that I will utilize this program at some point in my career and hopefully you all can too.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The readings so far, some concerns.

After doing the readings for this class, the books make no mention of what to do if you plan on taking advantage of the tech-tools but are working in a district that many students have little or no computer access (let alone Internet access).  A class wiki or blog (social bookmarking and RSS included) cannot help fully if the students cannot follow at home.  Posting assignments online or having the students submit or edit or compose online (especially collaboratively) can only be efficient and effective if the students have access.  I do not feel these books give teachers much advice on what to do for students who lack the resources (whether it be alternative assignment requirements or extended time or what...).  Just a thought, but maybe one that needs addressed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First Blog, testing, texting, is this thing on?

This entry may end up being simply a test to see if I can make this Blogging thing work.  Not that I doubt its abilities, just my own.

I read an article that seems to be focused on the parents, but there is information in there that maybe important to us as teachers, especially if we plan to use technology in a lesson plan or a classroom activity.  I did not know that so many administrative regulations are put onto a school computer lab.  I knew about filters, but this article goes in more detail about what a teacher who wishes to do an online project may expect to be questioned by a parent.