Project and Report Proposal

working on my MacBookProThis summer I am taking a course called Project and Report as part of my instructional technology program. The goal of the course is to select a topic of interest and spend approximately 150 hours developing a project. My proposal was approved, and my adviser seem enthusiastic about it. Here is my proposal.

Project Description

I would like to create professional development program for my colleagues at the Weber School in Atlanta that will help them learn how to create and implement Web sites (including wikis) and podcasts in their classrooms. This professional development program will consist of a series of modules that my colleagues will be able to work through at their own pace. After they complete the modules, my colleagues will have created a Web site and podcast as well as a unit or lesson plan implementing the Web site and creation of a podcast in the classroom. I would also like to submit a proposal to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission in order to pursue accreditation for the course as a means for educators in the state of Georgia to earn professional learning units.

Objectives

  • Given access to a variety of Web site creation tools, professional educators will be able to construct a Web site for managing materials, communicating with students and parents, and sharing resources.
  • Given Audacity or Garage Band, a computer, and a microphone, professional educators will be able to construct a podcast.
  • Given access to a variety of Web site creation tools, professional educators will be able to execute a unit or lesson teaching their students how to use and construct a Web site.
  • Given access to Audacity or Garage Band, computers, and microphones, professional educators will be able to execute a lesson or unit teaching students how to construct a podcast.

Materials and Methods

I will create a wiki that will house the modules. On the wiki, I will create lessons in the modules that will be delivered through the following means:

  • Written tutorials on wiki pages.
  • Screencast tutorials (video).
  • Podcast tutorials (audio).

Learners will need the following tools in order to complete their tasks:

  • Computers.
  • Microphones.
  • Audacity or Garage Band audio editors.

I will need the following tools in order to create deliverables:

  • Snapz Pro X Screencasting Program.
  • A wiki site.
  • Garage Band.
  • Microphone.
  • iMovie video editor.

I will begin by creating a wiki that can be accessed by students (professional educators) can access at their convenience so that they can complete the course asynchronously. The wiki will include pages with written, video, and audio tutorials on creating Web sites and podcasts. For the purposes of this course, I do not plan to teach students HTML but instead guide them toward creating Web sites with WYSIWYG editors. Once teachers feel comfortable using the selected Web editors and programs, they will create and submit a lesson or unit plan implementing what they have learned in their classrooms (for example, a history teacher might create a lesson plan in which they will teach students how to create a podcast discussing a historical event).

Justification for Project

I met with my Instructional Technology department and other faculty members in order to determine what instructional technology needs they had that could be addressed through my project. They unanimously expressed their desire to learn how to create Web sites and podcasts for their students. They also wanted to be able to use these tools in their own classrooms, constructing lesson or unit plans in which they would teach students to construct their own Web sites and podcasts in order to demonstrate their learning.

In our most recent SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) evaluation, one recommendation that the SACS accreditation committee had was that we implement technology more effectively across the board. While our school offers several computer labs and appropriate equipment that would enable teachers not only to create their own Web sites and podcasts but also for our students to do the same; however, because we have not had professional development in creating Web sites and podcasts, many teachers feel uncomfortable with or uneducated about the process of constructing Web sites and podcasts. They have admired some of my efforts in use of Web sites and podcasts both as resources for students and as tools for students to demonstrate their learning.

Criteria for Evaluation

The criteria for evaluation will be successful completion of modules designed to teach various steps involved in the construction of Web sites and podcasts. Teachers will also develop a lesson plan or unit plan implementing Web site or podcast creation as a means for their own students to demonstrate their learning. Upon completion of the course, teachers will evaluate the course using a rating scale evaluation that rates the course based on the following criteria: clarity of instructions/tutorials; organization and ease of use; and relevance of the content of the course.

Creative Commons License photo credit: icatus

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Moodify.Me

My student Josh is one of the the developers of a new social networking service called Moodify.me . As Josh describes it, “It’s a site similar to Twitter but is based around peoples’ moods.” It integrates well with Twitter and Facebook, enabling you to update your mood and send the update as a status update.

Josh is exceptionally gifted with web applications, coding, and computers in general. He has already had a great deal of success with his work, and I know he has a bright future. Please check out Moodify.me and feel free to friend me .

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And the Winner Is…

Thank you all for your patience with my Back to School contest. I am pleased to announce that the winning entrant is…

Candace!

Candace submitted a lesson unit on Macbeth. You can read her blog Mrs. Follis’s Teacher Page for more.

Congratulations Candace, and thank you to all of you who submitted ideas. Candace has won a 1-GB flash drive with Word and PDF copies of handouts I have created and used in my own classes. If you would like to purchase one of these flash drives, they are available for $40, including shipping and the price of the flash drive itself. Note: the 1-GB flash drives are no longer available in my area, and I am now selling 2-GB drives.





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The Deadline Approaches!

If you want to enter the lesson plan contest, you have until midnight tonight. Over the next few days, I will read the entries and notify the winner via e-mail and announce the winner here. A reminder of what you get if you win: a flash drive packed with handouts in MS Word and PDF format that I have used in my classes, including quizzes!

What do you have to do? Submit a lesson plan for grades 9-12 English/language arts in comments of the original post.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me today. Quick! You’re running out of time!

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Netvibes

I have to thank Buffy Hamilton for showing me the potential in creating a Netvibes page. You can see her page on Iran Election events for a sample. Imagine being able to gather information related to a topic your students are studying in one place, including RSS feeds, video, and blogs. Imagine students gathering the information themselves for a project. As soon as I saw Buffy’s example, I knew that Netvibes had a lot of potential for education.

I have created a SMARTBoard resources page for educators who have SMARTBoards. I would encourage you to check out Netvibes or similar resources. Create a page and play around with some ideas. Widgets and feeds are very easy to add. Once you’ve experimented with a page, try creating a resource for students, educators, the general public, or yourself.

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Back to School Contest

For the first time ever, I am having a contest. It is my hope to help one of the English teachers who reads this blog get a bit of a jump start on the school year.

What do you have to do? Share a lesson plan in the comments.

Rules:

  • Your lesson must be appropriate for grades 9-12 English or easily adaptable for that level.
  • Lesson ideas must be your own original ideas rather than ideas published elsewhere on the Web or in print UNLESS you have sufficiently remixed the idea so that is substantially different from the source material.
  • If you have a handout that’s important, you should upload it to an online filesharing host such as Slideshare, Drop.io, or Scribd, or you can upload it to your own website if you have one. You must share the link to the handout in your comment.
  • You can enter only once.
  • You must be willing to share your lesson with all my readers; therefore, access to any additional resources should not be password-protected and must be accessible at the time of judging.
  • The contest will run until August 10 midnight Eastern Daylight Time.
  • Lessons can be grammar, writing, or literature or combine all three. Lessons can incorporate technology. If Web 2.0 tools are needed, please link to them.
  • You must use a valid e-mail address when you post. It will not appear on this site.

Award:

I will select one winner from the entrants who will receive a flash drive with a ton of my personal handouts for the various English courses I teach including quizzes, assignment instructions, writing assignments, questions, and more. I will notify the winner via e-mail and update this post after the winner has been notified.

Your comment may go into moderation if it has several links or if you’ve not commented here before. Please be patient as I post it. Feel free to contact me with questions.

Good luck everyone!

“It’s a Major Award!” image credit: Cyndie@smilebig!

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Some Thoughts on Twitter

I was cleaning house on Twitter today, and as I made some decisions, some thoughts occurred to me.

Reasons I might not follow back:

  • You follow so many people that you can’t possibly be keeping track of all your conversations unless all you do is read Twitter.
  • You don’t share valuable information or links.
  • You’re obviously scamming for followers and are hoping I automatically follow back, even if what you do and what I do are in completely different spheres.
  • Even if you’re not scamming for followers, you and I do completely different things—I primarily use Twitter to learn from colleagues and follow very few people who aren’t in education (most of those people are personal friends, some are celebrities).
  • You followed me at a really busy time for me, and I haven’t yet had a chance to check out what you have to say. Give me some time before you decide to unfollow me—unless, that is, you are following me only in the hope that I will follow you.
  • You have protected your updates, and I don’t know you, so I’m not sure whether or not your content will be valuable to me.
  • You’re a business, and I need to watch for a while to see if what you tweet is valuable to me.
  • I don’t recognize anyone in your replies or retweets, which tells me we’re not really tweeting in the same circles.

Reasons I might unfollow you:

  • You stop tweeting.
  • You tweet too often, especially about information I don’t find useful or valuable.
  • We never engage in conversation. I am not sure either of us is really listening to each other.
  • You are more often negative than positive. We all need to vent sometimes, but all the time is excessive for me.
  • You are rude or confrontational (not necessarily to me, either).

Reasons I might block you:

  • You’re on Twitter to advertise your webcam/dating/porn site.

Not good reasons to unfollow (in my opinion):

  • You don’t follow me back. If I find your content valuable, I follow you. Period. I’m not looking for a backscratch.
  • We sometimes disagree. If we always disagree, maybe, but some healthy difference is OK.
  • You don’t always reply to me or acknowledge retweets. I don’t always do either of those things.

Ergo, some reasons I might follow:

  • We have the same interests.
  • You provide valuable content.
  • You regularly converse with people I follow, so clearly we’re tweeting in the same circles.

I tend to give people a fair chance once I’ve followed them. I like to get to know who they are through their tweets. If I’m still not learning from you after a while, or if any of the other issues here apply, I might unfollow. Sometimes I think long and hard before I do it because a lot of people are sensitive about that kind of thing. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings. On the other hand, my time is valuable, and I need a return on its investment. I tend to think people are generally too hung up on followers, and not just on Twitter, but everywhere you see social media. You need to engage in social media because of what you get out of it.

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Hanging Out a Shingle

Defender Approaching DefeatI have begun research into consulting, and I have decided to hang out my shingle as a consultant in integrating technology (especially Web 2.0 tools) into instruction and perhaps backwards design planning. I registered a domain for my Web site, which I began building using iWeb. I may play around with Dreamweaver or do some handcoding–not sure yet. At any rate, I wish this domain had been available when I purchased huffenglish.com, which I chose because the one I wanted was unavailable at the time. I will provide more details once I’ve done more research, planning, and development, but I am fairly excited about going in this direction, as some of my colleagues have been trying to convince me I should for some time. It was very helpful to pick Jim Burke and Angela Stockman‘s brains about getting started, and both were helpful (especially Angela, who hung out her shingle about a year ago and is doing very well).

I am certainly open to suggestions if there is something you have identified that you think I have done well and would be able to teach others to do.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers

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Engagement

I created a Diigo group for my students some time ago, but it wasn’t until Monday, when we had a snow day (weird that we’ve had 70° weather in the same week as a snowstorm) that I invited all my students to join.  The lack of response has been deafening.  I understand to a degree.  It’s one more tool, one more crazy thing Ms. Huff wants us to do, blah, blah, blah, don’t see the point.  One the one hand, I hate that I have to make use of these tools a requirement to convince students to use them.  I am not going to make the Diigo group a requirement the way I did commenting on my blog.  However, I have noticed something.  Those students who do engage with the tools I provide — whether it’s watching videos I share on the classroom blog, using Diigo, commenting on the blog, listening to recommended podcasts, or even reading suggested links — tend to do better in class.  Why?  Simple.  The tools help.  Reading, viewing, listening, engaging — all these tools help my students learn the material in more depth or in more ways.  Learning more leads to better understanding.  Better understanding leads to higher grades.  I prefer to leave it for my students to come to this realization, but when/if they do, I wonder what will happen when I have full engagement.

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