I’ve now completed both workshops I proposed to the ITeach program at Nipissing University. I promoted these workshops, very informally, to the two main school boards in my area, and to my surprise, I had a group of teachers throughout the region send in registrations. Hey, one student even blogged a bit while in the first workshop!
In the first workshop,
The discussion around using screencasts as a way to provide feedback, included on the one hand, that fact they could be quite boring if the audio is not very animated, one parent in the group explained they would like such a thing because then they could gain insight into the teacher’s marking on an assignment while contrarily, someone brought up “What if I am wrong, the screencast is evidence that can’t be changed”. I realized the discussion was quite polarized and decided to take the middle ground and suggest that screencasts of marked assignments would certainly be an effective tool for a teacher’s college to apply to allow the opportunity for pre-service teachers to ‘get inside’ the heads of veteran teachers as they assess a student’s work. There was much to learn about blogs – I would like a second chance to clarify things more…There was an impression that blogs in education would be used for (1) a ‘pouring out student emotion’ which would not bev’on topic’ with school content or (2) negative comments by either blogging students or teachers (3) addictive – who would have the time! (4) there is too much personal stuff that can be accessed through blogs . Although I replied to each of these concerns, by the time we got to blogging, the evening was getting late and I stopped showing as many examples but looking back, I think I should have shown more so that people could truly understand the blogging option for our students. There was the usual discussion around copyright and who owns the material, to which I shared my view that it’s time we start opening the door to the classroom and stop hording our classroom ideas and strategies. One person mentioned it would be great if people provided their work more readily on the internet (a little discussion of learning objects ensued). I explained that I’ve learned more and become more energized about learning since I started sharing more openly and seeking out others who are doing the same. Security was another issue that was in the forefront of people’s minds – and rightfully so!
Right now I am working on preparing to make my slideshow available for those who could not attend – I will upload it ASAP. I also “thought” I was recording the session but it seems like my voice recorder conked out on me so there is no podcast for the first workshop.
I completed the second workshop on Hot Potatoes a few days ago. There were not as many ‘outside’ teachers but a keen group of pre-service teachers, attended. I decided that Podcasting this workshop would not be useful since it was all ‘hands on’. I’ve learned that many classrooms around the region do not have easy internet or computer access so I decided to have the workshop focus on creating hand-outs or worksheets from Hot Potatoes. We investigated the offerings of three “potatoes”: crosswords, quizzes, and cloze exercises.
While we worked our way through this 12 page Tutorial, I found the group was great on sharing all kinds of tips and suggestions about the software or ways to use these exercises. Here’s a quick overview of some of the topics which came forward:
Although it’s a hassle to print out the crossword, one participant discovered that if you save the crossword as a “HTML only” web page and then open it in Word, you can easily print it out, add more directions and add letters to the crossword, which is what another person wanted to do to help special need students. There was another crossword creator page shared: http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/index.html Although the Cloze exercises created for print-outs in the program do not do much beyond what you can do in a word document, we decided it was still useful to create the gap exercise in Hot Potatoes because it lets you easily edit, create different versions, etc. There was discussion on using the hand-outs we created for assessment or just practice exercises. We recognized, due to the liquidity in the editing process, that any of the quizzes created offer great opportunities for extra work for advanced students, modified work for students with special needs, review prior to an assessment and even introduction to new terms at the beginning of a unit. After the break, I reviewed how all the “potatoes” looked on the web as well as the interactions they allowed. We thought the web pages provided an opportunity for ‘game show-type’ activities with an entire class on the room’s “one-computer”. Also by saving the web pages created by the software (and paying a little more attention to the web page offerings in each quiz), a student who needs more practice or another who has finished their work early, could be offered the opportunity to do a crossword, quiz or drag ‘n drop exercise on their own on the class’ computer.
I created a moodle site to support these workshops – you can access it here: http://newmediaworkshops.com/moodle/ Feel free to email me for the access key.