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With three marking periods under my belt and summer vacation in sight, I am feeling a bit refreshed. The dawning of spring usually improves my mood, with its sunnier and warmer days. Spring is when I traditionally take time to spruce up my wardrobe, try out new hairstyles, and recommit to a healthier diet along with being more active. Now that I'm feeling a bit more on top of things and relaxed, I am making this attempt to start blogging again. No promises, but we'll take it a week at a time and see how it goes.
Today, I am excited to discuss some breakthroughs I made over the weekend, while redoing a scavenger hunt tutorial for my class website. I have been using the pro version of Screencast-O-Matic since 2010. Hands down, it is the best $15 out of what I spend each year on web tools. With the pro version, I have access to very useful editing tools.
This weekend I learned to use the script tool. Since my tutorial is pretty long--18 minutes--the script tool helped me by chunking it into easier to manage parts. I was able to record my voice first, then record the screenshots by following my own directions. I was also able to add my own Power Point slide (saved as a .jpeg file) to the video, prompting my students to pause the tutorial and complete tasks. What a difference from the original recording--so much more professional!
Anyone interested in taking an in-depth look at my class website is encouraged to check out the tutorial on the left. After going to the tutorial, you can start by opening a new tab, entering this URL: tinyurl.com/mmstechclass, and toggling back and forth between the tutorial and the live website.
This is my second year teaching technology literacy courses to students in grades six through eight. In some ways, I feel that it is actually my fifth. During 2011-2012, I taught all 800 children of the school. Each of the four marking periods was a new beginning, as I acclimated two hundred new students and perpetually groomed the newly written curricula to keep up with ever-changing technologies and course-related resources. My classes meet for approximately twenty 50-minute sessions, which take place every other school day. Sixth graders study "Technology and Social Responsibility", seventh graders, "Introduction to Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD)" and eighth graders, "Television Production".
For my seventh and eighth graders, this marking period is the next twenty days of technology class. Two things amaze me--how much my students accomplished last year in such a short amount of time and how much knowledge they have retained since then. On the very first day of school, after a warm greeting, I said, "Okay, you know what to do." And they immediately got to work navigating the class website to find my directions, opening and sharing Google Docs, and joining fresh Edmodo class groups. It was breathtaking to watch!
For my new babies, my sixth graders, it is an entirely different story. For them, this is technology boot camp. I have been describing these courses as hybrid--partially in-class, partially online, somewhat traditional, mostly flipped, not as difficult as the core subjects, yet more challenging than the fine arts, physical education, and health classes. Rarely does a student earn a "D" or an "F" in my class, but nobody earns an "A" for merely showing up, either.
There are twelve to fifteen graded assignments, including homework, classwork, and project tasks, all weighted differently to formulate the final grade. Everyone works on their project within a self-selected group. However, grades are a reflection of what the individual has contributed to the group. There are numerous opportunities to meet with me throughout the week for extra time/help: during my preps and during conference period (the last period of the school day). All of this--not even factoring in all of the URLs, user names, and passwords to remember--can be quite intimidating to my little sixth graders and their parents. "Don't worry," I recently soothed a concerned parent during Back to School Night. "The first few weeks of technology class are always a bit. . .chaotic. Eventually, students learn what to do."
This is the first post concerning my adventures teaching technology literacy, year two. My topics will include: implementing flip teaching, implementing International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), and (of course) new technologies enhancing education. I refuse to commit myself to a specific day or amount to blog, because I don't want to feel defeated if I can't live up to my own expectations. So, please be patient and stay tuned for my updates.
Meanwhile, I invite you to explore my class website:
Thanks for reading!
This blog, "The Perfect Course", is to document my efforts in refining the various courses I teach.
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