Tag Archives: English

The Power of Screen Time! Reading, Writing, & Devices

The next session I’m attending is “The Power of Screen Time! Reading, Writing, & Devices” by Beth Holland. I’m excited for this presentation because I helped Beth edit and revise her Edutopia piece, “The 4Ss of Notetaking with Technology.”

There is a common theme in research, articles, and newspapers on “devices” being bad for “x activity.” However, as Beth says, it’s not the device! It’s what we or are students are doing. She also said that we’re not going to talk about “going paperless” because, as Shawn McCusker says, “Paperless is a bureaucratic preference, not a learning objective!” This is how we justify costs to our bureaucrats.

Beth now tells us her story (telling your story is a theme today). When she was a college student, she was trying to write a paper on a Mac. Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.41.26 AMHowever, the Mac wasn’t cooperating with her and she wasn’t getting her assignment done. However, in the bathroom, she came across a roll of paper towels. She then rolled it out and used it to write out her work. It was the right tool for her at the right time.

So the technology that she had to build her project (paper towels and markers), but had to complete the process in the Mac. The moral behind this is that we are not going to put our technology on a pedestal. So many people claim that the tools are “interactive,” but it’s really electronic whac-a-mole. It has no objective.

Beth says that we need to focus on process vs. product. She shows us a clip from the film Finding Forrester

So what part of that scene was writing? The punching of the keys or the process of getting content out of your brain and onto the paper.

Start thinking about the process of writing! Let’s start with

Writing 1.0

Students organize and draft on paper, submit it to the teacher, the teacher annotates the paper, then students get it back and may or may not keep that paper. This is a straight forward and one dimensional process.

Writing 2.0

Writing went digital! Students can draft digitally. You can even draft in a non-linear pattern, using mind-mapping tools, create a storyboard, etc. Students and teachers can collaborate and incorporate tools. You can use multimodal feedback (audio, video, etc). The final product can even be shared or published!

Writing 3.0

Now we have a mobile devices. Beth asks us, who writes on their smart phone? The small screen is problematic as we have to slow down. However, we have this everywhere. Students can organize and draft (using multi-model tools) from anywhere. Students and teachers can then collaborate and incorporate multimodal feedback across devices. The final product can be shared, published, or modified. Beth likes to use Penultimate to draft both physically and electronically. She then shares it with Evernote and then puts it in Google Drive to share and collaborate (sometimes with me).

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.49.30 AMIn addition to typing, she can talk into the device. For students with learning differences, you can speak into the tool. This is also a great way to get students to think about formation of words and sentences; like with formal poetry.

Because students all have devices, we have a ubiquitous opportunity of screens. We can see what our students are doing outside of the classroom. It doesn’t matter what the tool is, it’s that we’re starting to bring up this opportunity.

Beth now references this famous New York Times Piece, “Is E-Reading to your toddler story time, or simply screen time?” They argued:

“Parents and children using an electronic device spent more time focusing on the device itself than on the story.”

What does this mean about impact on childhood literacy? Beth argues that when we’re talking about eReading, we need to look at the behavior of reading. So “what could reading look like?” In the New York Times, what they argued was that the value of reading should look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.54.53 AMSo if we’re looking at multi-media eBooks, the issue isn’t the device, it’s the behavior. Perhaps not look at multi-media eBooks as a “book” but as something else. Students can read a text on a digitized device. So think about how students are reading, not the device. Start to bring together the digital and the analogue.

Beth now highlights TodaysMeet, a tool for backchanneling. This a tool that allows students to collaborate behind the scenes. In a class where students were reading about the Holocaust, the teacher asked students write down questions as they popped up in the reading on the Today’s Meet.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.58.18 AM

By setting up the Today’s Meet, he got input from students who were normally silent during class. He gave students a voice, even in a quiet room. Using the screen in a meaningful and powerful way. These tools can give students a voice and extend the experience to outside of the classroom. These are not possible without paper.

Asymmetric Impact

When thinking about screens and process, realize that it’s not the same thing with every person and every child. Start thinking about different students and their individual needs. You may have a student that needs to look up every word in a story. With a built in dictionary, you can “tap Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.05.24 AMand know” (Shawn McCusker). You can even manage dictionaries. On a web browser, you can clean up the view and remove the ads or increase the font size. You can also “find” on the screen to look up the information that you’re looking for on a page. So if you want the population of Liberia in 2010, you can go to the website and search using “find” for the population. This allows students to focus their reading. Students can even look up words in context. Technology allows for differentiation at a higher level. Anything that is text can be heard by students. This is a great way to improve learning outcomes for younger students that are struggling with literacy.

Pen or Keyboard?

There was a prominent article called “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard.” After having students listen to a lecture-based class and take notes via hand and keyboard. After the lecture, students took a test and they found that those with handwritten notes did better. However, they did not do an assessment later. What would have happened if students were assessed at a later date? Is it the keyboard’s fault or another example of the right tool for the write task? This is similar to the debate over quill pens and ink pens.

Beth highlights the fact that we have a lot of choice and variety. The reality is that it depends on the student, learning style, and task. Beth references her article in Edutopia (link at the top). Digitized notes allow you to save, archive, curate, and reference it easily later (via search tools). How often have we had a student put their English notes in their Science notebook? If that student could search his notes would that help him? Would that facilitate that asymmetric impact? We need to empower our learners. Can you save, search, and share your work?

Beth finishes up with the point that we need to find balance with using screens. There is a book called Screen Time by Lisa Guernsey. She argues that it’s about balance. Do we want kids watching 5 hours of Scoobie Doo every day? Probably not. However, it’s balance. The questions you should ask are: is it appropriate, meaningful, and empowering?

 

 

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Shakespeare Through a new Lense

The next session I’m attending is Shakespeare through a new lense with James Lucas and Jessica North Macie from the National Cathedral School. You can view the presentation materials here. I’m excited to hear more about teaching Shakespeare using 21st century tools. I’m live blogging this session so please excuse typos and errors!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Jessica tells us that the course is a combination of textual analysis in conjunction with film analysis. So why did they do this as a video project? Shakespeare works best “on its feet” and we need to learn about broader types of literacy. This project has been updated annually. This past year, they did it on iPads for the first time. It allows for one-stop shop for shooting and editing, features aide for shot composition, and with its long battery life, no worries about it dying on you with multiple classes. With  this project, they check out the iPads to students for the whole week. They also use tools like tripos and microphones so that students can produce sophisticated works.

As students learn and study film, they get to learn about what makes good filming techniques.

Unit Overview of Lesson Plan

Unit Overview of Lesson Plan

This is not only an analysis of the text, but they look at images, concepts, film, etc. They use a variety of media to study using Manga. Next, they use texts to support them delving into the texts. They explore how the text enhances images or even changes how we analyze an image. Visual consumption is an important element for exploring Shakespeare.

To study images, they go to online content and print images that speak to the students. For example, they will go and look at images that convey power to the students. This may involve art, music, and more. They also watch films that cover their topics and have students analyze gesture and movement that convey concepts and ideas. For example, look at the character Puck from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Students can see how they can personalize and open their own interpretations.

Simultaneous to the Shakespeare study is an analysis of film. We watch the beginning of Benny & Joon to explore how a film is introduced. The colors are saturated with color and that iconic song by the Proclaimers plays in the background.

When giving this assignment, you need to teach students the components of film making: camera framing & movement, script writing, storyboarding, and shooting & editing. They don’t want students to imitate the play, but deliberately create messages based on what they know about the story.

They introduce students to filmmaking with a scavenger hunt – they have to find a shot, such as high angle shot – enjoying the day, medium close-up – a Crank, Extreme Close Up – shocking surprise, etc. Students are allowed to wander the campus as they create these shots.

When students build their storyboard, they have to create a shooting plan. Students can create costumes and design their own performances. However, those are not graded components.

Students also have to write out a script. The instructions are both written and they providing an example. This demonstrates how students must format and present content. They also have a rubric for teh script, using traffic signs (go, slow down, detour, etc) so get students away from thinking about numbers and letters. I wish I could employ this in my classroom! Grades are often a distraction to learning.

In addition to shooting, students must edit. Jessica says that they learn that the magic happens in editing! Students learn about both video and sound editing.

Students also have to explain why they made the choices they did in creating their videos. I like that this takes away from the “flashiness” of the project.

Students also need to be respectful of how they treat the devices. Instead of calling them iPads, they refer to them as their “filming equipment.”

The final products are cross-curricular and address both traditional and modern media. Very cool!

Help the Oxford English Dictionary Solve Dictionary Mysteries

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 7.11.33 PMThe Oxford England Dictionary (OED) is seeking help from the public in solving some dictionary mysteries. Do you have input on the history of the words or phrase(s): def, suicide (drill), “something for the weekend,” “Meandering of Memory,” Long Island iced tea, mullet, luvvie, demon bowler, and more (see their list of words here).

For information on what constitutes evidence and how to submit it, see their guidelines here.

The Old Man and the Sea – Animated

Open Culture has just published a list of seventeen classic stories that have been turned into animated videos that are now available on the web. A few of the items in the list I had seen before, these Shel Silverstein stories for example, but others were new to me…

The Old Man and the Sea – Animated.

A Few Grammar Mistakes that can Make you Look Silly… and are my Pet Peeves

So today’s info graphic at DailyInfographic.com highlights 15 grammar mistakes that make you look silly (and annoy the heck out of me). See it below:

Another great visual resource for improving your grammar skills can be found at theoatmeal.com’s Grammar Section. See my favorite, 10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling and How to Use a Semicolon.

Lost Fleet of Captain Morgan Found?

Underwater archaeologists have uncovered the remains of what they believe are three ships that belonged to the infamous Welsh privateer Captain Henry Morgan.

Morgan was an English privateer (a common euphemism for political pirates) that targeted the Spanish fleet during the 17th century. Henry Morgan was, arguably, the most successful and bloodthirsty of the English pirates operating in the region under the official sanction of the British monarchy.

In 1671, Morgan and his men lay siege to the Spanish Fort Castillo de San Lorenzo in Panama. While ultimately successful, he lost his flag ship and several other vessels in the process.

Archaeologists of the wrecks have uncovered a series of wooden planks, 17th century canons, and the odds and ends one would expect on a sea-faring vessel of the day (but no gold). To read more about the find, check out the video and article at MSNBC.