Video Creation in the Classroom

Since I plan to teach lower elementary, I think I am most likely to use video creation in my class. Many parents would probably be skeptical of their second graders posting anything online. I feel that at this age it is safer to not post anything online.

That aside I would use video creation to bring stories my students write to life. I think it would be a great experience for every student to write a fictional story and then have their classmates act it out. Then, at the end of the year, I could send it home as a gift to parents so they could see how creative their children are. Video creation could also be used to enable shy students to give presentations. They could record themselves giving the presentation and then show the video to the class instead of presenting in front of everyone. Students could also use the camera to record a day in their lives and use editing software to speed up or cut out parts that they thought were less interesting. I think they would really enjoy a creating a project about their lives, instead of always doing them on someone else. They could also interview people that are important to them and share their interviews with the class or another class. The possibilities are nearly endless.


Lesson Planning

This was not the first time I wrote a lesson plan. I have made many for other classes and will be making many more in the future as will everyone reading this blog. I know many of you are freshman so I wanted to share with you something I have learned in regards to lesson planning.

Always be over prepared. I know this may seem obvious but it is awful to have finished teaching your lesson and have 15 minutes left before you can move on to the next lesson. I suggest always assuming that students are going to get done early. At the same time do not expect them to make it through your entire lesson when you know you have extra material in there. Here is a link to no prep activities in case you ever do run out of lesson.

When planning a lesson don’t think in terms of what the average student in your class needs. Start your lesson by explaining what your struggling student needs, even though your advanced students think they already know it a refresher is always helpful. Then, extend the lesson until you have taught everyone something new. If you teach to the average you teach no one. I like to make my lesson plans to teach to what I call the rainbow. At the beginning of the lesson the least amount of students are learning something new, this is the base of one side of the rainbow. As you continue teaching more and more students will be learning and absorbing something new, this is the top. On the other base are your quick students, by extending the lesson just beyond what the majority of your students will understand you will include that last group of students and you will have taught the entire rainbow something new. I highly recommend watching this TED Talk. It will help explain some of the current flaws with the way teachers lesson plan and teach.


Experiencing Web 2.0

Tikatok allows students to create stories, share them with others, and print them out. It connects with ISTE standards 2 a, b, and c. Students need to have basic typing and mouse skills before using Tikatok. This website has a mountain of resources for teachers. It will sort out the different book templates by grade and subject.Then it will connect them to common core standards. The site also sends out a newsletter which has pre-made lesson plans that align with common core standards. Students can create their own drawings on the computer or upload images. The teacher could scan student drawings into the computer to use in the books as well. Membership cost $19 to $399 a year ranging from a basic plan to a plan with a lot of extras. This is the only downside I was able to find. Tikatok is a great resource for all teachers but it was clearly designed for elementary schoolers.

Museum box is a website that is designed to help students structure their argument. It is based on Thomas Clarkson who travelled with a box of items to help explain how slaves were being treated. Students create their own box, which is essentially a 5 slide PowerPoint, to help them argue their case. Anything from videos to PDFs can be uploaded and placed into the box. ISTE standards 1 a, b, and c  as well as 3 a and d connect well with this lesson. Before students used Museum Box they should already be familiar with uploading documents, as well as the basic skills needed to use PowerPoint. I like this site because it helps students focus in on the most important parts of their argument by only allowing 5 things to be placed in their box. It also lets students put pretty much everything in their box. This way there is no worrying about whether or not something will upload. The downside is that the school does have to pay for it. Their website did not say the exact cost, but they said it was a small fee. Other than that the only downside is the limitation of the items in each box. I believe this website was designed for middle school, but it could easily be adapted for higher and lower grades.

Teacher Blog It is a free online blog site for teachers and students. Students can use it to post blogs and communicate with each other. Teachers can use it to post assignments, videos, and links. The ISTE standards that relate to this website are standards 1a, 3b and c, and 4c. Basic typing skills and the ability to navigate a webpage are needed before students can use this website. This website allows teachers to monitor what their students are posting so they may take down anything that is inappropriate. Also, each students blog page has a link to their teacher’s blog and the teacher has a drop down list of all the students blogs. With these tools everything you need is right at your fingertips. The only issue I foresee is students posting inappropriately. This can be easily monitored by the teacher, but if they are not paying close attention things may slip by. I think this site would be best used with high schoolers. However, I will be teaching elementary school and I think this could be a great way for upper elementary students to share and discuss things with each other.

Digital Citizen

Sam Pane, a 5th grade teacher, teaches his students how to use the internet safely and determine what the purpose of any particular website is. He engages students by opening his lesson with a quote from Spiderman. Then he has his students create their own internet superheroes to do what is right on the internet. The students created comic where they were not being safe, respectful, or responsible online and they had their superhero come in and save them. The superheros resolved everything from online gossip to scams involving IPad giveaways.

Gallery walks are a great way for students to get a chance to see their classmates’ work. I could use them with many lessons ranging from art to math. A while ago I saw a lesson where students would write a math problem on a dry erase board, then everyone would rotate and solve the problem in front of them. They continued to do this until they made it around the classroom. To me this qualifies as a gallery walk because the students are moving around the room interacting with each others work. It is nice to give students sticky notes that they can stick on their peers’ desks with encouraging messages. This way they can give feedback without having to talk directly to the person.


In the article Copyright 101, Carol Simpson explains how copyrights work. Anything tangible is copyrighted, however your school may be exempted from copyright laws on certain items. But good news, facts are always up for grabs! You may also take up to 10% of most items without infringing on copyright laws. Here are the four tests for fair use: ”

  • The purpose and character of the use. Will the materials be used non- commercially in a non profit education institution?
  • The nature of the work being copied. Is the work published or unpublished? Is it factual or creative? Unpublished works have stronger protections than do published works. Although facts cannot be protected, the expression of those facts may be.
  • The amount of the work being used. Are you using a little, a lot, or all of a work? The more you use, the less likely that the use is fair.
  • The effect of your use on the market for or value of the work being copied. What would happen if everyone were to do what you are proposing? Would you deprive the copyright owner of a sale or harm the value in other ways”

Simpson states that educators can make single copies of some print materials. They may put in a request to make more copies,  but cannot do so unless they are approved. Teachers may also show movies that are directly related to the lesson, however I would caution against using Disney movies. Disney is very strict about enforcing copyright infringement laws. The best piece of advice is if you don’t know ask. Often your co-workers or principle will know what you can and cannot use. If you are anywhere near the copyright limit ask the publisher for permission. By doing the things previously mentioned you are protecting yourself from being prosecuted for copyright infringement.


Presentation Design

I was already aware of all of the elements of design listed in Kawasaik’s chapter on presentation design. My sister is majoring in marketing with a minor in business and I frequently help my father create advertisements for his business. I am also in an art class currently and we have been talking about many of these principles for the past few weeks. I love using quotes in presentations. As long as you choose an appropriate quote they can sum up your message and add credibility.

As a teacher, I am going to show my students examples of slides that are clean followed by slides that have busy images and ask them which one they would prefer to look at while listening to me teach. I’m sure that some of the students are going to choose the busy slide, but after seeing an entire presentation of them I am willing to bet that they will have changed their minds. It is very important that people learn the power of a clean presentation. We live in a world where everything is based off of technology and the people who cannot use it effectively are looked down on by those who are technologically savvy. If we want our students to keep up in the ever changing world then we need to provide them with the instruction they need in order to become good, technologically savvy presenters.

Many of my PowerPoints looked very similar to Kawasaki’s thanks to one of my high school teachers. Every time we worked on any sort of visual presentation her motto would be “keep it simple”. Whenever we had too much on one slide we would be asked to break it into two slide and see what we could take out. Only important and specific information was allowed on the slides. If it was extra, it got cut.

Kawasaki firmly believes in only having essential information on PowerPoints and using as many images as possible. I agree and believe that this is how all PowerPoints should be formatted.

True or Not

The article written by Debbie Abilock discusses the importance of using the rule of thumb to determine the credibility of a website or article. She discusses what it means to be information literate by stating that people need to be skeptical or what they read and criticize it to find out how accurate the information being presented truly is. Abilock believes that teachers do have the ability to teach their students how to be information literate. However, many schools are not taking the time to make sure that their students truly understand the skills. Most schools just tell students to look for news articles or anything ending with .gov. They do not explain that these sites are credible because they use facts pulled from other credible sites or they are written by credible authors.

I believe that as teachers we are capable of teaching our students to critically think about everything they  read on the internet. It is a place with a large amount of misinformation, but it is also an amazing research tool. By following Abilock’s rules of thumb, students should be able to quickly and accurately tell whether or not a site should be considered credible. This skill does take a lot of practice and teacher should begin teaching these skill as soon as the teach students how to research on the internet. This way students are prepared for the real world when they leave high school and they won’t fall victim to scams that many adults fall victim to every day.

Digital Natives?

In chapter 7 of his book, Boyd argues that there are not digital natives and digital immigrants. Instead he suggests that today’s students need to be taught how to use technology safely, and effectively to find what they are looking for. It argued that almost no one understands how Google finds its pages, and therefore they believe everything they read off of Google. Boyd argues that it is our job, as teachers, to help create technologically literate individuals that are able to sort out whether or not a site is credible on their own.           Marc Prensky argues that digital natives do exist in his article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.   He compares digital natives to people when they learn their first language, implying that the knowledge is absorbed into their brains without much active thought, and digital immigrants to people learning a second language, stating that some people will learn more or learn it faster because the brain absorbs a second language differently than it absorbs a first language. Teacher now have the job of teaching the basic or legacy concepts as well as the concepts of the future. These future projects include, technology, engineering, robotics, and ethics. Prensky argues that students are not learning well because they are not interested in how the teachers present material. Think about it. Who would rather go to a presentation than watch funny videos all day?

I tend to agree more with Prensky. I feel that as teachers it is our job to hold our students’ attention and present the information in a way that they can remember it. However, since I was six when Prensky wrote his article I feel that I am a part of the digital native group, not the digital immigrant group. Boyd also brings up a good point that students need to be taught how to find facts on any topic they are looking for. Teachers can give students lists of sites, but until the students know how to find a credible source on their own the teacher have not taught anything. It is hard to know what the future will be like in a society that is growing so rapidly, but it is our job, as educators, to provide our students with the best education possible. I believe that this means teaching they way the students learn, and making content as interesting as possible.


Introductory Concepts

Recently, there has been a lot of debate on how much technology should be used in the classroom. In his article, Marc Prensky suggests that students today are bored in school because we are not teaching them the thing necessary for a successful future. Teachers ask students to turn off cell phones and put away electronics when they should be asking their students to use their devices to assist with their school work. Kathy Cassidy agrees but believes that students should only be using technology when it does something that standard materials cannot. She points out that many teachers use technology as busy work for their students who have completed an assignment. Cassidy argues that this is wrong and technology should only be used to do “good things in better ways.” A third article, written by Mary Beth Hertz, sides with Cassidy stating that a pencil can be the right technology. She argues that technology is beneficial, but it can be overused. Why use a tablet when pencil and paper will do the same thing? Herts believes that teachers can incorporate technology into their classrooms while still using paper and pencil. The issue is not whether or not to use technology in the classroom, it is how much to use and when to use it.

I agree with all three authors. I believe that technology is a very important part of education and teaching our students how to use it responsibly is part of our job as educators. Although I have never seen a classroom that incorporates too much technology I am sure that there are many teachers who use it inappropriately. Some people may argue why use a pencil when you can use a computer. To them I would say writing skills are very important and handwriting develops fine motor skills. It also allows students to hold their work in their hands as they are working on it. Many professions, such as marketing, design, and engineering, require pencil-to-paper skills. If we only ever teach our students how to use a computer they will not develop proficient pencil-to-paper skills. In summary, technology is an important part of our world and therefore should be incorporated into our classrooms. However, it is also important that we teach basic skills alongside the complex ones.