Blogging & Microblogging

Wow, I’d never thought I’d see the day where blogs became such an essential part of my education. Besides Tumblr, I really don’t spend that much time blogging, or at least using it in an educational way. Using this site and Twitter, I’ve come to realize that blogging can actually really benefit students and make learning a lot more fun and interactive.

While Twitter isn’t seen as an educational site to teachers, there are ways for students to use the social media site to their benefit. For instance, I participated in a Tweet Chat and messaged with other educators on Twitter, sharing links we found interesting and other educational ideas. Teachers can easily have students set up a professional Twitter account, and instruct the students to follow a hash tag or trending topic, and then converse with others on the subject matter. I had never participated in a Tweet Chat before this, and I definitely found it fun and interesting.

Blogging on this website has also taught me more about technology and teaching. I always thought blogging was just reblogging things I found interesting, and rarely adding my opinion on things. On this site, I’ve blogged about everything from iPad apps for the classroom, to teaching media literacy. Blogging helped me organize my thoughts and share them with others. Most of my blog posts came from links that were shared on Twitter by other educators. Blogging and tweeting go hand in hand!

I definitely think that integrating technology into the classroom, whether through tweeting or blogging, can encourage students to focus and involve themselves in their school work. Students already live on their cell phones and laptops, so why not put these technological devices to use by adapting them into a classroom setting?

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Start Teaching Web-Literacy

Sure, we all know how to get to Google and how to Tweet at one another, but does anyone know how to analyze an HTTP web address? Didn’t think so.

Web Literacy is basically a formal term for “Learning How to Decipher and Understand URL’s and Webpages”. While many schools are now integrating technology into their curriculum, it’s been found that they’re not teaching Web Literacy to their students. This is an important aspect of technology that should be taught in schools, especially ones where technology is the most prominent. Knowing how to read URL’s so that you can tell if the source is reliable or not will save time when trying to look for valid webpages. You wouldn’t teach someone how to read without educating them on vocabulary and grammar first, so why aren’t we teaching students how to read the web before searching for things? In the below article, it mentions how in 1998, a student took his professors webpage from the university thinking that he was getting valid information, simply because the URL had a “.edu” at the end of the link. Unfortunately, the student acquired historically false information off the page, and used it in an essay. By education students and teachers on how to be web literate, these mistakes can be avoided, and students can surf the web safely and efficiently.

Article on Web-Literacy: http://www.k12educationtechnology.com/2012/05/18/schools-arent-teaching-web-literacy-start/

School-based Mobile Apps

I know I’m not the only one who’s thankful for the Blackboard and Double Map apps. The Blackboard app really helps me keep my classes and assignments organized, while the the Double Map bus app lets me know when and where the bus on campus is running. I also appreciate the fact that Cortland coordinates with both of these apps. Especially since we live in an age of technology, I love being able to just whip out my iPhone and check up on both of these apps. It makes me think: do other colleges, or even high schools, have apps that coordinate with their school as well?

Jordan Riggs, founder of the SchoolInfoApp, is the answer to that question. His company helps schools create apps for their students and community. This app includes calendars, maps, picture galleries, notifications of school closings and school news. The app is beneficial to not only students but to parents and teachers as well. Schools contact Riggs’ company with the schools info needed for the app, and the company then designs and puts out the app within 30-60 days. Schools also have the opportunity to put local ads within the app as well. Schools everywhere are recognizing that technology is moving forward and that schools and communities need to be up to date on technology as well. Having a mobile app that’s convenient and updated daily is something every parent can only dream of.

I definitely think more schools, high schools and colleges, should have mobile apps! Students, especially college kids, practically live on their smart phones, so why not design an education mobile app for their convenience?

For information, read the article here!  http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/04/app-all-should-every-school-build-its-own-mobile-app

Radio, Regents, Essays, Oh My!

When creating a radio show, one thing that doesn’t come to mind is the New York state Regents exams. What does a state wide test have to do with music and talk shows, anyways? Surprisingly, a radio show can help students prepare for a Regents-style essay in the classroom.

One concept that is demonstrated in both essays and a radio show is organization. Radio shows, while spontaneous and fun, have to be organized in some manor. Radio show segments have introductions and conclusions. They introduce new music or special guests, and then end the segments by the radio hosts signing off or with music itself. Either way, it’s clear to the listener whether the show is beginning or ending when they’re listening in.

Radio shows also must be creative in order to bring in listeners. Essays, likewise, are made to have the reader interested and intrigued. If the reader is turned off or bored, they’ll be more inclined to stop reading. In radio, if a listener is bored with the music played or by the radio hosts, then they’re more likely to switch stations.

Another aspect of radio shows that is evident in essays is the use of language and acknowledgement of audience. Much like in essays, radio shows have to be aware of the audience they’re streaming to. If it’s a kids radio like Radio Disney, they have to know not to play explicit songs or talk about racy topics. Each genre of radio show is conscious of their audience and creates their radio show accordingly. In essays, most of the time the audience is to the teacher or professor. With this in mind, students know that they should use proper, formal language when writing. Student’s shouldn’t be writing using “slang” words or grammatically incorrect.

You may think that radio shows are far from Regents essay exams, but they’re more similar than you think! Both require thought process and creativity, and encourages students to become organized and efficient.

Quiet in the Studio!

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Wow, I never thought I’d see the day where I actually made my own radio show. It was definitely a lot more fun than I had expected. My partner, Rachael, and I originally lost a team member in the very beginning, but we made things work. We started off by meeting together and coming up with a basic script to base our radio show off of. Our main theme was music, so we spoke about DJs, local clubs, music genre’s, and even had band members on the show. The most difficult thing about this process was definitely the technology aspect of it. The program we used to record or show was Audacity, which neither of us have used or heard of before. It was pretty rough to start out with; I didn’t know how to add in music or record over things. After a couple of trial and error procedures we finally got the hang of it, and the tools on the program turned out to be pretty useful. The most stressful part of this project though was uploading the file to SoundCloud. I don’t know if it was just my laptop, or if others had this problem as well, but I couldn’t upload my Audacity file to SoundCloud. Instead, I had to export the initial file and turn it into an iTunes file, which SoundCloud finally accepted. However, because our radio show is almost 20 minutes long, it took forever for it to upload to SoundCloud, which was highly frustrating since we had deadlines to meet. Despite those cons we came across, I actually had fun while making this radio show. It’s a project I’ve never done before and I really enjoyed the experience of working with Rachael, who’s really good at British accents by the way, and can’t wait to hear everyone else’s radio show!

Check out the link below to hear our show:

https://soundcloud.com/solaurensayys-1/audience-of-one-radio-show

Lights, Camera, Teach!

In this video segment, we meet high school English teacher Sarah Brown Wessling from Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa. She explains to us that she tapes all of her classes with her flip camera set on a tripod in the back of the classroom. She does this because after school, she downloads her video tapes, and reviews them. Wessling takes notes on how she teaches, how her students conduct, and what she can do to improve her lessons in the future. In the video, she mentions that she invites the principal in to come and review her video clips. He gladly accepts her invite, and offers her constructive criticism and praise for her teaching techniques. Wessling wants to contine to improve her teaching skills, and she feels that recording her classroom lectures and reviewing them will help her reach this goal.

I really like this idea that Wessling uses, a kind of “DIY Teaching Video”. Many teachers may know how they teach and what they teach, but they never really take the time to look back at it and see what they could improve on. I think that by recording classes, teachers can see exactly what they’re like in the classroom and how they’re teaching techniques effects students and their work. For an even better critique, I would do as Wessling did and have an outside come in and view the tapes and offer insight on their skills. I also noticed in the video, Wessling used iPads for her students, which shows how she’s able to incorporate technology into the classroom, a huge aspect many schools today are trying to cover.

I think recording yourself can not only be beneficial for teachers, but for students as well. For instance, a student could record themselves  practicing doing a presentation that they may have to give in class the following week. Then, they can watch the video and see where their flaws are and correct them before presenting in front of their peers and teacher!

Click the link here to watch the video! http://www.edweek.org/tm/section/teaching-channel/index.html