Saturday, December 7, 2013

Art Video Lesson Plan

Art Concept Videos for school website

In order to be “college and career ready,” students must be able to navigate the internet and create multimedia presentations designed for a specific audience.  Senior CADD students will use photos and video clips to demonstrate an art concept, mapping out the steps and script. Using an iPad video program, Videolicious, they will sort the slides, narrate the concepts, and (optional) add a  soundtrack.

The process will reinforce the students' knowledge of the art concept and give them another technology tool to use for school projects. The videos may be used to introduce or reinforce techniques for future art classes.

ORMS: OCC - Use elements of design to persuade or inform an audience
CCSS: Presentation of knowledge and ideas: make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
ORMS: OCC - Create a multimedia presentation designed to persuade, entertain or instruct and audience
CCSS: Production and distribution of writing: Use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

- iPads with Videolicious app installed

- In pairs, students will plan their presentation using a "storyboard" format, matching images with descriptions.
- Students will watch the Videolicious* tutorial
- Students will navigate the internet to collect images and/or videos for their presentation, or they will take photos of each other demonstrating the art technique.

- Students will
    - Demonstrate steps in order
    - Use clear language and images to illustrate the concept
    - email the completed project to Ms. Gomes (art teacher)

CCSS ELA-2.1 Students recognize how literary devices and conventions engage the reader
CCSS ELA- 3.1 Students use descriptive, narrative, expository, persuasive and poetic modes

*Videolicious highlights:
1. Choose a handful of photographs.  
2. Push the start button and start talking. You will be recording yourself. Touch each picture as you talk about it.  After the final picture, touch the screen and you will see yourself talking again to wrap up the video.  
3. Add a soundtrack using the public domain soundtrack music on the program.

Videos use a maximum of 10 slides/videos and can be up to one minute long.
Experiment with photographs.  Sometimes parts are cut off.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

EDUC 7718 Post #6 week 11

Do you agree that schools ought to prepare learners to succeed in the world as it is even if that may not be the world as it should be?    Should all students be prepared to use the standard dialect, wear the standard clothes, and adopt the standard behavior patterns when interviewing for jobs-- (even baby or house-sitting,) crafting the admissions essay, or interacting socially with the community? How important is fluency in the normative, even if that means learning a foreign language and a wearing a mask?    What are the implications of your stance on this issue?    Notice and name some positive and negative aspects. 

Let me preface this post with - "I hedge like a white student!" (Gee) I'll have to start listening to the South American kids at my school and see where they align.

As a middle class, protestant, white mom of a young adult male, of course I agree that schools ought to prepare learners to succeed in the world as it is now! My son, John works at Bagelman, a very busy deli. Although my son was an unmotivated student, he understands what is expected in order to be able to succeed in his job. True, this had to do with his upbringing, but it was supported by his suburban school environment. Much to his parents' chagrin, John understood exactly what it would take to succeed in college, but chose not to do it. He instead uses his skills as a valuable team player in a local bagel joint.

For all of his interviews at the food places he applied to, John showed up in a shirt and tie. He shook hands. He introduced himself and smiled. He highlighted his applicable experience in a simple resume. He was offered a job at all but one of the restaurants in a very slow economy. His current uniform is a "Bagelman" tee shirt and presentable shorts or pants/jeans, but he understood that he needed to play the "hiring game" in order to earn money and start working.

I interviewed for a bank job in the mid 1980's. I wore my navy blue, conservative "interview dress" and black pumps. A black woman, about my age, rode the elevator with me on the way out. She was wearing a navy outfit as well, new jeans and a matching denim jacket. I remember wondering, "Even if she has the same skills as me, she doesn't have a chance. You have to know the rules!"

In life, I have learned that in order to get what you want, you need to learn the rules, play by those rules, and then, from the inside, negotiate change. By my interpretation of the world, of course it makes sense for schools to teach fluency in our current culture. Historically, our work culture has changed over the decades. The way women were treated in offices in the 1960's is completely unacceptable today. Women had to play by "Good Old Boy" rules in order to get a foot in the door. Things are still not perfect, but they are exponentially better than they used to be. Clothing expectations have become more relaxed in many work environments. Use of technology has changed as more has become available. These changes were gradual, and supported by the evolving culture inside the various organizations.

Maybe playing by the white middle-class rules is fake, but it is not more or less authentic than the way football players act in the locker room or inner-city kids act in order to survive on the streets. When students come from a home background that is dissimilar to school or to work, learning all the rules can be a real challenge. The Common Core is only reinforcing "the rules." In order to be college and career ready, students will need to be literate in school-based computing, collaborating, written skills, and verbal skills.

As you have explored and worked with content creation tools (or other technology)  what assumptions and biases have you noticed?  What is built into the templates?    Are the online tutorials beginner user friendly or do they assume that all audience members know what is meant by click and drag, menu bar, open, privacy settings, post, etc. etc.    Can you make a list of words that have specialized meanings in the world of now, that they would not have had 30 years ago?   How does command of this vocabulary privilege some and cause others not to belong? 
Some content creation tools are easier than others. By far, Moodle is the most frustrating. My school system tried to encourage us to adopt it. The program only interfaces with certain platforms, and none of them are approved by my school system. I tried Schoology last week and it is less "robust" much more "user- friendly." All apps and computer programs assume some basic computer knowledge. There are universal symbols (writing instruments, the letter A underlined with a color, a numbered row of lines) that are common to almost every computer program/app.

Words: Google (the verb), bit, byte, gigabyte, drag and drop, WYSIWYG, friend (the verb), homepage, RAM, cloud, connected, Internet, intranet, online, address, URL, metadata, Smart phone, platform, text (the verb), application.

My father, a former math coordinator, picks up computer skills rather quickly. He had an early Apple PC. He is thinking about purchasing a tablet. My mother is still lost. What seems intuitive to me takes a few practice runs for her. She can now post publicly and privately on Facebook, and can she can text legibly. I applied for a library job at WCSU last month. I had to look up the acronyms that I needed to be familiar with in order to be qualified for the job. I was familiar with the skills, but not the language.

Students, I'm sure, feel lost in "education speak." I just attended the AASL conference and almost laughed out loud a few times when I heard the latest jargon. For SEED, I posted all of the library terms around the Media Center. A couple of students have noticed. It may be beneficial to also post common computer terms that we use for instruction, as well as online safety rules, especially if students want to pass a law giving them the option to change their identity in adulthood (Turkle.)

After finishing Alone Together, I asked my son, John (20), how he felt about his online life. John never owned a robot pet, just real pets. We limited Gameboy use because his personality changed when he played video games. He currently has his own Macbook and HDTV. His online life includes a Facebook account, posting his music on Spotify, listening to Pandora radio, and playing a couple of online interactive games. He also owns an iPhone with a limited data plan. He says he doesn't post much on Facebook. He mostly looks. He is happy to share his music. He doesn't worry about Copyright. Sometimes people pay him for an album, but he is content to have others listen to his songs for free. He leaves his cell phone in his work locker, and only checks it on breaks. He prefers face-to-face interaction to technology. There is hope for this world.

My medium: I blog this week because it was a crazy week. I started last Sunday and finished a week later. I had a lot to say - this is heavily edited - and could write another five pages. Nobody wants to read all that!

Monday, November 4, 2013

ED 718 Reflection on Open Mic #3

I don't tweet, but I do listen to National Public Radio. They mention tweeting all the time. Shortly after this project was mentioned in class, I saw an article in Time Magazine about Twitter being a linguist's gold mine. We were reading Gee at the time, and I saved the article. NPR ran a story about twitter and literacy and a theme was born. I found the NPR transcript online, researched a few articles and videos, and included them in a Google Doc to my project partners. I don't embrace Twitter, but I figured it was worth learning about. They agreed.
My friends have no time to be "Twitterati" so my line of questioning follows: "Why do it? Why Tweet?" Personally, I see it as just another time sucker. I was curious to find out if anybody had tried Twitter in their classroom and get to them to think about what they might do with it. I also thought it would be important to try to post something on Twitter among peers who are considering the same topic. This would give some experience in that mode of communication.
Our group decided we really liked having the responses available on a single document like the Open Mic #2 group. It was really nice to be able to scroll down the responses see everyone’s contribution.
When reading and watching the original documents, I was surprised to learn that tweeters are better readers...and writers. It is difficult to take a complex response, condense it to 140 characters and keep it meaningful. I did not grade the responses, because I did the research and pre-reading of the articles. I chose to read the responses. It was exciting to read the reflections, especially the tweets. I am always awed by the insight of my classmates. We come from very different teaching backgrounds. I feel like I learn so much from them.
I did respond informally to one classmate through email. I would likely have been less concise and asked more questions face to face than I did in the email I sent. I chose to respond to Gail because her thoughts about Twitter are similar to mine, and it made me laugh. I also sent a general tweet out to #twitteracy thanking the class for participating. I wanted to make sure I really knew what I was doing!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lesson Plan ED 718 Friendly Reflection

Unlike the classroom teachers in my group, my lesson "units" are usually less than one period long.  Students at Abbott Tech spend half their time in shop, so academic teachers work hard to get a school year's worth of curriculum into 90 days.  They covet the time they have with their students.  I do what I call "stealth teaching."  I sneak in mini lessons on works cited instruction, key word searches, and website credibility whenever a teacher books the library.

I explained to my "friendly group" that I had originally planned to work on library catalog instruction or book trailers with the Language Arts Lab.  They couldn't give me two periods with any group before the class deadline, so I tried CADD (Computer Aided Drafting and Design.)  They have been working on videos to entice Exploratory Freshmen into the program.  The equipment they had been using was no longer available.  I found a quick, efficient iPad program and they became willing to work with me.
(I tried to load the app on the school iPads today, and the Macbook won't recognize the app... PITA!)

In order to make the plan work, I will need clearer instructions from the CADD teacher for his expectations. I don't know anything about "orthographic projection."  He does.  It will also be helpful to have a rubric in place when we begin the project.  I had planned to work on it with the classroom teacher and both his content piece and my technology expectations.  Another item the group thought should be included was some kind of reflection for the students.   It will be easier for me to write about the changes in dynamics when I have their input - and the teacher's input.  I do not work with any combination of students in the school as a group enough to truly observe a difference in classroom dynamics.

Additional comments:
I worked with the CADD teacher on Friday 10/25.  He wants me to help the students plan the shots and get their projects approved before filming. It is something I can do, but hadn't realized he needed help with it.  It will be another revision of the lesson.

11-1-13  I started the lesson with CADD on Tuesday.  We were partway through when the Department Head came in.  I was talking about planning your shots and purpose of the video.  Suddenly, it was time for a class meeting. This has now turned into a 3 to 6 month project with lesson formats aligned from freshman to senior year, all with similar format.  There will be lots of research, watching YouTube videos to find out what others watch -- brainstorming -- etc...  The shop cycle ends on November 7th, so I will need to find another group to work with. 
The art teacher has offered to let me work with her art club after school.  This is my fourth attempt at planning and teaching a lesson.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

EDUC 7718 Week #6

1.   Conversation, discussion, presentation.    What are they and how do they appear in your professional life?    If you were to diagram the power relationships in each of them,  what would the diagrams look like?     Which are technology-enhanced and which technology impeded?   Is there anything about the current status and role of these in your present professional situation that you would like to change? (Transcript for the answer can be found below the "additional comments.")

Here's my ScreenChomp video!

2.  Feedback.    Please describe what sort of feedback you want from me.   I am trying to challenge your thinking with the comment feature running throughout the text, but that forces you into Google docs.-- a limitation, ----while the global comments features in the other formats don’t seem detailed enough to me.   Maybe it’s my age: I am missing the private conversations before after and during  face to face classes.  What are your thoughts and suggestions?

I miss conversations, though I would likely not engage you in conversation often. There is usually a line of students waiting to talk to you. The nice part about before- and after-class conversations is that we can eavesdrop and maybe learn something vicariously. The group I work with often sends emails, so conversations DO happen, just not in your earshot.

Your comments in the "lecture" part of the assignment are somewhat aligned with my internal response to the readings. I skim the assignment, do the readings, then closely read the assignment before I answer the response questions. If I'm confused, it is easy to print the assignment from Google Docs.

This may be a lame answer, but I'm comfortable with any feedback that you'd like to give. When I first saw the your comments on the rubrick, I felt the need to respond to them, then realized you were giving me feedback. Now that I "get it," I look forward to the comments.

Why I chose ScreenChomp:
I REALLY wanted to use the animation program, Xtranormal, to reflect the robots in chapters 6 and 7 of Alone Together, but the free program is no longer available. I decided that using Screenchomp, though not as effective, would stretch my presentation comfort zone. I also needed a diagram, and I can draw with this program. Screenchomp has limitations. You can't re-do anything without starting from the beginning.* Enjoy my Domo drawings.

Additional comments about the readings:
After reading chapters 6 & 7, I had to look at Paro, the nursing home pet, and Domo and Kismet from MIT. The MIT robots looked less appealing than Sherry Turkle described them in Alone Together.  She used such emotional language.  I pictured much more sophisticated robots! 
Pia Lindeman's grief study was fascinating. I watched some of her work on YouTube as well.  Again, I didn't really understand it until I saw it. In a way, we truly are programmed by biology and culture.  We learn how to show grief by watching others grieve. "You're the best," and fist bumping are new programs youth have created to express thanks and welcome.
Chapter 8 surprised me.  I knew about World of Warcraft, but had never heard of Second Life.  I can't imagine having enough time to devote to learning how to maneuver and make new worlds. In front of a cozy fire, I discussed with my husband the story about Pete having a "wife" in Second Life, and how he feels it completes him.  He said, "That's infidelity." I argued that Pete had no intentions of meeting the "wife." He insisted it was still cheating. If taking time away from your marriage to be with someone/something else is infidelity, much of what we do online could be considered so.  (I just realized I used the word discussion.  It was focused like a discussion but had the structure of a conversation.)
"We have always found ways to escape from ourselves." (160) My escape was reading.  Today, kids are online. Sadly, being constantly connected gives us no time to sit, reflect and relish our escape!

*I will not share my first draft of Screenchomp due to a "noise" my husband inadvertantly made across the room from where I was taping. Sigh.


Question #1 Transcript

Conversation, discussion, presentation. 

Conversation is informal talk.  Usually, I think of it as face-to-face or on the telephone, but I’ve had meaningful online conversations with people I know well.  Staff converse with each other anywhere they can. Students do the same.  Staff members chat with students informally at lunch, clubs, and sports.

Discussion focuses on something specific.  It can be vocal and reciprocal or it can be written.  At school, classroom teachers lead discussions with students, Administrators have discussions with staff and students, and teachers discuss curriculum, strategies, and students with each other.

Presentation is one-sided, instructing a group of people. Administrators roll out new initiatives, the Union presents our new contract, and teachers present lessons to students.

If I had to diagram the power relationships in each of these, I would make Presentation a one-directional arrow. Presentation expects an attentive audience absorbing words from the sage on the stage.

Discussions are focused on specific topics and are led by an individual or group. The audience is expected to provide input, therefore I would make Discussion a triangle.  Discussion is multidirectional, but one entity is in charge.  

Conversations put the participants on equal footing, therefore giving almost-equal power to all.  Social status and conversational skill can skew the power balance, but, overall, I would make Conversation an inclusive circle.

Presentations are technology-enhanced.  I enjoy watching TED talks.  Technology, specifically the Internet, makes it possible for me to experience TED talks. I especially enjoy the talks that include visual material.  I learn more.  When reading Chapter 8 of Alone Together, I had to look up Second Life. Watching clips of the virtual world enhanced my experience.  I watched Second Life creator Philip Rosedale’s TED talk, “Life in Second Life.” The screen shots from the game made the presentation more meaningful.

Discussions can be technology-enhanced.  Because discussions focus on a specific topic, technology can be used to give examples and confirm discussion points.  Facial expressions on Google hang-outs and facetime can positively impact a discussion.  A discussion can last over a period of time if all parties are agreeable, so using social technology like email or instant messaging can work. This allows for revision and refinement before hitting the send button.

I would say that conversations can go either way.  Face-to-face conversation where all are engaged is wonderful.  Telephones and Facetime can also work well.  Technology like email or instant messaging can cause misunderstandings because irony and inflection don’t translate well in a quickly-typed response.

Technology can impede any type of communication.  Inappropriate sound levels, cell phone distraction, and faulty equipment can happen anytime… anywhere.

In my present professional situation, Presentation is still king.  Some teachers have played around with blogging and Responders, but their comfort level is still Presentation. The Common Core expects more from students than information regurgitation, but testing is still the way of the education world.  I would like to see technology used to facilitate discussion.  Face-to-face discussion focuses on the teacher.  Online discussion through tools like blogs and collaborative writing, allow for thoughtful responses from students who are usually too timid to participate.

Friday, September 27, 2013

EDUC 7718 Week 4

Reflective Commentary:  This is on my blog because it is a record of my coursework.  The questions are answered on Google Presentation because the we are discussing appearance, and appearance is visual.

1.         How operational and meaningful is visual profiling in education settings?   Please consider this personally from your own experience, but include commentary about the way it plays out among adults as well as among learners.  Is there anything you could or should do to change any negative aspects of this?
2.        Many people say that one important purpose of public schooling in this country is to enculturate children into what it means to be an American.   What does it mean to be American?
Don’t forget to include commentary about why you choose the response medium you did.   Have fun!

Google Presentation:

     I had fun with this topic. I asked many staff members how they thought a teacher should dress and why. I was surprised when I got similar answers.  Most felt the students were better behaved around adults who take care of their appearance. The instructors in one shop always wear ties, and they swear the student behavior is better than it was before ties.
     On the flip side, I asked students which teachers they feel like they respect.  The first teacher one student chose is a regular substitute.  She is young, dresses casually and "relates well with the kids."  The other two teachers the students picked always look very professional. (You'll see them in the presentation.)
     I showed an older teacher friend a clip of Rick Kleine's teaching demonstration. She said she didn't doubt his skill as a teacher, but she would have a few nervous moments at parent-teacher night.  Her children often wanted to imitate their teachers, and his appearance was different from the way her family dresses.  
     In two other conversations, colleagues stressed the importance of dressing for the job you want, not the job you have.  They both gave examples.

PS:     Upon final review of the Presentation, I realized the final photo with the National Honor Society was with the words "The most successful become acculturated to our community."  NHS is made up of a real cross section of cultures.... but these aren't the only successful kids in the school!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

EDUC 7718 Week 3

EDUC 7718 - Week 3

How many master myths/cultural models/ figured worlds  are at work in your school situation?  How do they conflict or agree with each other?  If there are too many, choose just a few to describe in depth.    Pay attention to the indicators of voice and words in these various cultural models .  

    Henry Abbott Tech is one of Connecticut's State Technical High Schools and is located in Danbury. Students rotate between academic classes and trades in two week "cycles."  They wear uniforms in both academics and shop. Half of our students come from the City of Danbury, a third of the remainder come from rural New Milford, and the rest come from predominantly white Fairfield County suburbs. Danbury has many South American immigrants who choose to send their children to Abbott. There are visibly more boys than girls in our building.  All but four of the trade instructors are men.  Three of the four women teach hairdressing.

    "The various cultural models that a particular social group....uses often share certain basic assumptions.  These assumptions form master myths of the social group." (Gee, 111.)

    I have worked as the librarian at Abbott Tech for twelve years.  Prior to working here, I thought of Abbott as a school for kids who are "good with their hands." As an insider, it is hard to step outside and recognize the schoolwide assumptions because they are "normal... commonsense." (Gee,111)  I had to back into one of Abbott's master myths by focusing on some of our school's basic assumptions.

- "Sports rule."  This is common in high schools. Until we started a football program, it was less obvious.
- "Abbott Tech is family."  Many of the students who could not wait to graduate return to tell teachers how much they miss Abbott.  Trade teachers become mentors or parent figures to many of our students.  
- "Shop rules are more lenient."  We have school uniforms, and some of the trade teachers are lax about enforcing the rules. There are also breaks. This bothers the academic teachers.
- "Abbott Tech is a school for students who do not plan to go on to college."  Middle school guidance counselors in our white suburban sending districts encourage students that are not college-bound to apply.
-"Kids don't stay after school for clubs. They don't have transportation." For many years, we have had no after-school clubs.  This is changing. We now have four.
-"Hairdressing is for girls."  There a exceptions, but traditionally male fields, (auto shops, construction trades) attract one or two girls. In this order, girls gravitate to hairdressing, culinary arts, CADD and graphics. Boys willingly try all trades but hairdressing. (They must try it for two days.)
-"I don't have to be smart to get into Abbott Tech."  Although they have to pass their eighth grade CMT's or a basic entrance test, students know they do not have to be top students to attend Abbott.

    Upon reading chapter 6 of Gee's Social Linguistics and Literacies, I noticed that revealing a master myth or  a cultural model can be jarring to people who haven't thought in those terms.  Jane is surprised at her word choices in two situations (91).  The working class men in Rhode Island were disappointed in their own "success" as determined by the American work ethic cultural model (109).  I was pleasantly surprised when I recognized one of Abbott Tech's master myths.

"Students can be successful at Abbott Tech even if they weren't successful at their last school."
     Abbott Tech offers trade technologies which require different skills than traditional academic courses. Many of our students are pleased and surprised when they get on the honor roll for the first time in their academic lives. Our National Honor Society members would not be invited to apply to NHS at other schools. This is because we do not have a "top tier" of Ivy League bound students. We do not offer AP classes. Most of our college-bound students get sizeable scholarships. Some of them had never considered college until they found success at Abbott. .

I heard a new substitute teacher comment on the fact that (Abbott) "students do the bare minimum work for classes."  There are exceptions, but that is mostly true.  Any LEA teacher would agree, though, that this describes the majority of high school students. As part of a state-wide district, our students are required to participate in Accelerated Reader (mostly used in elementary/middle schools) and Math Lab (self-paced math support.) This works well for struggling students.

For many students, success in the trades makes a huge difference in their lives and their self-esteem. Trade instructors place qualified students in area businesses.  At Senior Awards at the end of the school year, there are cash awards for shop performance.    

With No Child Left Behind and the CT Common Core, there is a strong focus on academic success.  At Abbott Tech, we are able to help our students find other ways to be successful during the school day.

Is it (as Gee suggests) “the job of the teacher to allow students to grow beyond both the cultural models of their home cultures and those of the mainstream and school culture”???? Should it be more than “allow”, should it be “require”????    How does this play against (or with) the right of every individual to be him or   herself and stay that way?

    Following the Common Core State Standards, all children are expected to be able to perform school-based, higher-order, creative thinking.  This sounds like teachers should "require" students to grow beyond the cultural models of their home cultures and those of the mainstream culture. If "average reading achievement has not changed markedly over the last 20 years" (NAEP, 1997), according to the Standards, no matter their background, children should be able to catch up and surpass their parents' achievement. Students will all be college and career ready. It is the teacher's job to get them there.

Even though it is not all "academics," at Abbott Tech, we allow, and sometimes require, children to grow beyond their home cultures and the mainstream culture. Students have exposure to the technical aspects of work that their families and neighbors may never have encountered. Because we are a melting pot of so many different backgrounds, we can't help but expand our students' knowledge of the greater community.

    The more I read and listen to current research about home and local culture's effect on a child's success in school, especially the interviews with the researchers in the "Children of the Code" readings, the more unattainable our Nation's education goals sound. If it is true that children’s success in school correlates with spoken language at home (Meaningful Differences, Risley) we will need to start public education with babies in order to fulfill today's education expectations.

Reflective commentary:
     For me, "school" means "written," not spoken.  I like to use specific words and I like to reread and change what I write.  I babble on video. This medium worked well. Classmates can read it at their own pace or pick out important pieces to look at.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 1

EDUC 7718: week 1
a.  (Your own Biker Bar moment) Describe an occasion on which you felt entirely out of your depth, “other” “I do not fit in here” “everybody gets it but me”; what in you and the situation contributed to that feeling?  

      After graduating college in Upstate NY, I went back to visit a friend of mine on campus during the run of one of the musicals.  John, a friend of a cast member, was also on campus that weekend and we seemed to hit it off at a cast party.  John invited me to a graduation party hosted by one of his fellow West Point graduates somewhere in Westchester County.  I agreed to go.
      When John picked me up, he made a joke about his old "Beamer."  It went over my head.  I picked up on the "BMW" label somewhere inside the car after a bit.  I remember swinging by his mother's small house in a rural part of NY then going down to the party.  We pulled into a sweeping curved driveway, lined by an immaculate stone wall.  We parked near the expansive house overlooking the Hudson River.  We walked into a detached structure that housed a hot tub and a throng of young adults holding bottles and glasses filled with a variety of beverages.
      I had worn "nice casual" clothes, which for me was mid-eighties off-brand preppie.  These folks were the real thing.  They looked like they came out of a TV commercial for Ralph Lauren.  I grew up in a one-income teacher's family.  These people were, in my eyes, obviously accustomed to privelege, the school chums of a West Point graduate and their dates.  I was normally OK in new social situations, but this was way outside my comfort zone.  The guests all acted relaxed and friendly, the parents were kind, and I put on my best face and mingled.  I felt so out of place.
     One factor that contributed to my discomfort had to do with my perception of people who come from money.  Another factor was not knowing anything about the situation I was getting into.  My date seemed like a pretty humble guy from a small town in Upstate NY.  I expected maybe volleyball, a little swimming, a couple of beers... not a full-scale cocktail party from a TV show.  The final factor?  I analyze things too much!
     In case you're wondering, I never saw John again.  He was wife-hunting as I percieved all military types to be, and I was 22 and trying to find my way.  (I THINK that was his name!)

b. Consider your learners as they begin the new school year.   How are they negotiating/establishing their own positions in the learning community?   How are you seeing them?  What “data” about them are you reading? and how are they sending it?

     I am the librarian at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury CT.  We teach students from the City of Danbury and 17 sending towns in upper Fairfield, lower Litchfield, and western New Haven counties. Sometimes, towns only send one or two kids. Except for the class of 2015 who had a contingent from the alternative middle school and wore their teachers out by the end of the first week, most ninth graders are like "deer in the headlights" for their first academic cycle.  They are polite.  They wear their uniforms.  They respond when spoken to.  The class of 2017 fits that mold.
     Sometimes it seems like the seniors get together to figure out how they are going to present themselves  before the school year starts.  This senior class has been exceptionally mature so far.  It is refreshing.  They are friendly to staff and seem happy to see us.  This group seems in awe of finally becoming seniors.
     I have only seen the sophomores and juniors briefly while choosing books for Accelerated Reader.  Most of them responded well to me last year and, with a little jesting, respond equally well this year.  They are happy to tell me about their summer experiences and smile and roll their eyes when I ask about summer reading.
     All of us, staff and students, started the year a little anxious because our principal retired last January and we had another principal in June who quit in August.  I can't help but think the students are calmer than previous years, reflecting the staff's anxiety about the new testing, curriculum,  and teacher evaluation systems we will be impementing this year.
     Our NEW new principal arrived at the beginning of this week. It was interesting getting his observation of our staff interaction with students. He was very pleased and excited about our school's atmosphere. We are a cohesive, friendly bunch, and I was proud that it showed.

     I had my "biker moment" because I constructed my meaning of the party from my past experience, or lack thereof, with wealthy, "priveleged" people.  As a grown-up, I recognize people are people, and they are where they are often based on choice and experience.  As a young adult, I was intimidated.
     Students at my school come from a huge variety of experiences.  Our "inner city" Danbury kids are documented and undocumented immigrants, strugglers, high-average achievers, technical types... our suburban kids are blue collar, farmers' kids, Special Ed, outcasts from their priveleged public school, internet savvy, unsure about college, sent by guidance counselors because they are "good with their hands" and bad at test-taking.  All have basic literacy skills.  Most are rather polite. It would be interesting to read the Slug story and see how it is interpreted, especially by our English Language learners!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Print to Pixel Conference 2013

Search your way to Success
Presentation about Internet search and how it relates to the Common Core State Standards

Friday, August 9, 2013

Module 4 Reflection

Reflection: What challenges occur when students are empowered to create online "text" and share globally with others?

As teens have done throughout time, they embrace "new" technology and play with it, creating a base for next generation to build on.  The new genres have involved text, music, and visual arts, depending on the generation and media accessibility.  Right now, online "text" includes written, musical and visual arts, exclusive and combined, often remixed.

At this time in our electronic evolution, we have easy-to-manipulate tools at our fingertips. We can create our own visual text.  Students who see the world in pictures are now able to communicate effectively.  They don't have to be manually artistic, good spellers, or wealthy enough to afford to buy professional-grade equipment.  They don't need an agent. They need computer access and time.  It's exciting!  Our youth have been trained to expect immediate feedback and they can get it online from an ever-expanding audience.

A quick look at Abbott Tech reveals a number of the challenges students face in this new landscape.  Rude tweets on the Abbott Tech Twitter channel have resulted in suspensions.  Students chose to take an inappropriate video inside the school building while passing and posted it on YouTube.  They were suspended.  A sophomore borrowed his brother's flash drive to bring a paper into school to print.  He left the drive in the computer with his brother's pornography on it. Many students copy and paste from articles on the internet and turn in projects without proper documentation.  These challenges involve students' own immaturity and inexperience, which is part of being a teenager.

With freedom comes responsibility.  Educators must teach their students, both by example and with practice, that in order to safely navigate the social aspects of the internet, they need to act responsibly.  Equity is also an issue. Much interesting and creative work is done at home on students' personal equipment.  As with any new medium, those with money have better access.  There isn't enough time or equipment during school to give all students the hours of play they need to really perfect their skills.  Maybe, the best we can give all students for now is exposure, practice, and guidelines.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Video of my cat

Copy of Mr. Kitty

I was enamored with your Animoto videos.  Here's my THIRD attempt.
The first one was too silly, the second one was kinda lame.  This is my best effort so far...

CRAP test

Here's an Animoto project.  It was fun, once I got started.
CRAP test
The trick was to figure out how to fit everything into 30 seconds!

Ruminations on the importance of teaching internet skills

 "If we seek to prepare our students for their future, it would seem essential that we
would want to evaluate their ability with online reading comprehension." (Mokhtari 2008)

I agree.  It would seem essential that we teach students to develop questions, use keywords, find information, determine credibility, and produce a product for their audience (even if they themselves are the audience.)  The internet and online communication are becoming integral to many of my day-to-day interactions, especially in my economic and social demographic.  I use the internet at work to help students and communicate with my colleagues.  I use the internet at home to find stuff out and to communicate with my friends.  I am not yet connected on my phone.  I waste too much time "cruising" as it is.

We use the internet, but we also eat. As a society, we make poor food choices. Should our schools take that on as well?  They do to some degree with "healthier" lunches, but obesity is still a huge issue.  Most of our students will become parents.  Shouldn't we offer coursework on parenting?  We can work it in Science classes.  How about personal finance?  That's really important.  Math.  Basic car and home maintenance? The list goes on.

Actually in "the good old days" when college wasn't pushed as the only option, we did have Home Ec, wood shop, automotive classes, and "business classes" for those who didn't plan to further their formal education. My parents made me take typing in 8th grade.  That's the only reason I can navigate a keyboard. Maybe the changing times assume we will be prepared for the basics of day-to-day living - or we'll be able to Google it and find out!

I'm listening carefully, maybe with a more skeptical ear than some.  I'll be trying some new material out at school this year.  I work with some high-schoolers who don't have third grade reading skills.  Why?  Will learning to navigate the World WILD Web help them?  Maybe.  We'll see...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Module 3

Students are often challenged when evaluating the credibility and relevance of online information. Have you ever been fooled by information you read online?

Before social media websites were popular, I got a number of alarming emails from friends who had forwarded them from their friends.  Is canola oil lethal?  Is there a missing girl in Texas?  When I joined Facebook, I figured out why the alarming emails had stopped.  They were in a new medium where they could become viral more quickly than ever. When I reposted something that surprised me, a friend said, "Check Snopes."  I did, and a new world was opened to me! I live by it on Facebook - or I completely ignore the hype.

I came from the public library system.  There we had three computers with internet access and we had dial-up at home.  Twelve years ago, I started working at Abbott Tech, in the CT Technical HS system. By the time we got enough computers at for reasonable class instruction, I had read some sources the previous librarian had purchased on internet instruction, mostly because I didn't know anything!  A lesson involved looking up a site about Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) and evaluating it as a source. The computer science professor who constructed the site, Tom Way, did a good job of making it fact-filled, though the information is explained in the same breathlessly alarming way the Facebook untruths are told.  I learned a lot, both about the substance and about evaluating websites.

For those of you unfamiliar with the site, DHMO is a main component of acid rain, you can die if you inhale it, and it contributes to soil erosion.  The website is  Those of you with a science background may have already figured out the other name for DHMO is H2O or water.  

Now that I have had tons of practice navigating the internet for both work and for my own reasons, I scan site descriptions without thinking about it, I quickly read the first page of a site, I cross reference sites, I check authors... quickly and efficiently.  This ORMS module opened my eyes to the fact that these are not innate skills for everyone who can read text.  There is a learning curve, and student need to be taught, step by step, the way to efficiently navigate the wild west of the web.

Someone posted a TED talk about how web browsers customize your searches according to your internet habits.  I always wondered why students were finding different information in their web searches than I was.  Students are always clicking in and out of sneaker ads, the latest music on YouTube, and unblocked social network sites like Tumblr. It depends on who is sitting at that computer.  The search engine customizing software must get a real workout!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Face Yoga ED 714

I want to learn something online, even though I am not in the class yet.  I will blog about it, and maybe use it when I'm actually in the class next year.

Yoga Master Fumiko Takatsu
28-Day series

I heard about face yoga by flipping through a women's magazine, and I checked it out online this spring.  I looked at some YouTube sites and read a bit about it.  I decided I need a "course," so I'm going with the Face Yoga Method 28 Day Series.  In my online world, I need to post photos of myself and I'm not quite so photogenic as I used to be.  If I can change that for free, why not?

Googled:    Day 1 face yoga
- Drink hot water first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- Wow (to loosen up)
- Open up the chest, rotate shoulder exercizes

- Neck exercise.  Shoulders down. 45 degree angle.  Oooh lips.
   Do at least 3 X a day, both sides, twice a day

Here's my photo... my "before" picture.

Day 2: Clasp hands straight out in front.  Same exercise.
Day 3. Turn head to side.  Stick out tongue. Breathe out.
Day 4: Tilt head to side. Stick out tongue.  (missed a couple of days of "new" poses.
Day 5. Shoulders down. Hee Hee Hee ten times.

One full week:

Couldn't re-create the angle but it looks like there MAY be a little improvement...?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Listening online

I was talking to Tom after counting today, and I talked about the IT&DML program.  I mentioned that we're working on coming up with our own brand of ourselves online, and that kids need to do the same thing.  He commented on how necessary it is for kids to have blogging skills and "social listening" skills.  Tom works in marketing.  There are folks who spend their time going online to find out what is being "said" about a product, going back to their department, and tweaking their advertising to reflect what the public wants.  Sneaky!  He said some of the best folks are those with Library Science degrees.  Hmm...

I found an article about how some of it is done.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What challenges exist as students work collaboratively as opposed to working individually?

Students working collaboratively and co-constructing knowledge is a powerful learning experience. What scaffolds can the teacher put in place to support all students as they collaborate?

When I think of students working collaboratively, I cringe.  I get nightmares of middle school projects where one or two students do all the work and everybody gets the same grade.  With all the digital tools at our fingertips, you'd think things might change.  They have not.  I still hear complaints from individuals that the rest of the group bailed.  My goal is to catalyze change at my school with digital group projects.

The articles discussed the benefits of working collaboratively.  It can be exciting to create with others.  Some students don't take it seriously.  Students have different time frames.  Some get things done early, others wait until the last minute.  Not all students have access to a computer or the internet.  Some students make a point to not do any work outside of school, so they have limited digital access during class or study halls.  Some teachers, even in our BYOD school, are reluctant to let students use their devices during study hall.  If a student is in a group with students of similar motivation, things will go smoothly.  With a strong, respected group leader, things also have a chance of working out.

Scaffolding is important.  Initially taking small, guided steps in the classroom is important.  Helping students become familiar with the programs and tools they will use is also critical. Understanding legal use of material and proper documentation is important.  Also, recognizing that this work will become part of their digital footprint may give the project more weight.  The collaborative project must have some relevance to students' lives, not just be a fact-finding regurgitation mission.

It was interesting collaborating on the paper in CO 712.  I don't think any of us had worked that way before, and we just "winged it."  One of our four took charge and the rest seemed to participate fully.  Granted, we're all teachers who are invested in the process, but it was still a good learning experience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A bit about me

I am the sole librarian at Henry Abbott Technical High School, one of the 16 schools in the CT Technical HS system.  I came to education via public librarianship.  Twelve years ago, it was a big change.  I like to say, I went from being adored by preschoolers to being ignored by teenagers!

When I started at Abbott, there were four student computers in the library, and the computer that housed the  library catalog was dead.  There was a physical card catalog.  The space was the size of 1 1/2 classrooms, and the wall-to-wall books were dusty and old.  Nothing circulated. The big round tables and chairs took up all of the floor space. Our decennial NEASC visit was eight months away, so things changed rapidly.

By the time the visiting committee arrived, we had ten computers in the library, I had cleared out the outdated books, the card catalog was gone, and the OPAC was up and running. Whew!  Since then, we have a renovated building, I have a brand new library 6 times the size, we have implemented the Accelerated Reading program, there 18 are computers in the library and we share two classrooms of computers. The State has provided an iPod cart (30 iPods and a Mac) and a netbook cart for student use.  We are wireless, and we have a BYOD policy. (Bring Your Own Device.)  BIG changes.

I feel like I struggle to keep up with all the new technology.  Ian and some of the authors of our assigned articles have taught at CTHSS workshops and worked with the CTHSS librarians, so I knew I would get valuable information, aligned with our system's philosophy, in my IT&DML courses.

Outside of my library job, I have a "rich and fulfilling life."  That's my way of saying "I keep busy."  Our school traditionally has a lame after-school culture. Sports. Period.  A colleague and I took over Yearbook three years ago and we meet after school.  I started the LEO club (think Lion's Club junior) with another colleague and we meet twice a month.  I also co-advise the Class of 2015 during school and act as the school liaison for the DSABC mentor program.  Previously, I co-advised two other classes and National Honor Society, and I have updated the school website.  I gave those up as I took on other responsibilities.

I am active in my church.  I chair the Stewardship Committee and participate in the handbell choir (Watch us in action: and the adult (singing) choir.  I also co-chair a booth at the Yankee Fair and Barn sale in October.  What's life without a second job?  I prepare other people's income taxes from February to April 15th.  I've done that for over 25 years.

I do make some time for my family, believe it or not.  I am married.  My now-20-year-old son, John, can be seen in the handbell youtube video right beyond me (he was still in HS at the time.)  He tried college for one year and decided he'd rather work.  He is a fantastic guitar player and song-writer, but lacks self-marketing skills.  He plays in a band called "Dan's Garage," made of of a bunch of guys from church. (If interested, here's Comfortably Numb:  My husband, Gordon, learned how to play bass in order to play in the band. He went through cancer treatment last year.  Since then, he is physically unable to return to his former job, so he's working hourly for a friend temporarily until he finds someone who will hire him. In my "spare" time, I sew and knit, have a small garden, and volunteer for things here and there. In spite of living in a standard 1960's ranch with a galley kitchen, Gordon and I love to entertain. We have one young cat, and one old dog and we live in Brookfield CT, 12 minutes from where I work.

A question: How many of you had at least one parent who worked in education?