Video Mash-up and Ch. 3 Book Club

Today we were asked to create a type of media mash-up video illustrating a key concept from Willingham’s Ch. 3 for our Book Club time. We were given little time, a lot of resources and needed to produce a video with or without a partner. Many of our products were not finished or not finished well. The feeling of not meeting the challenge or feeling high stress at the lesson’s end stuck with many of us. We are to keep in mind what we are asking our students to think about–the technology or the actual content of our lesson? Are we planning activities that are appropriately challenging for our students?

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App Evaluation and Ch. 2 Book Club

To reinforce our important details about factual knowledge from Ch. 2 of Willingham’s book, we were presented with the challenge of locating apps for learning, look at them with a critical eye, and to write a professional review on the app in the App Store. In theory, if we know how to select apps with a critical eye, we, as educators, then are more able to create a deeper level of knowledge, in helping our students build up their factual knowledge bank–given they can use those apps.

My Language Arts group decided to review some grammar apps, as our students need to build more factual knowledge in grammar structures we agreed. One app that I looked closely at was Grammar Express: Parts of Speech. Some affordances of this app are that: students can change the time allowed to complete grammar quiz questions, the quiz feature offers instant feedback to the students, and lastly, there is some help offered to play the app correctly. The constraints include that the app is directed to native English speakers, and advanced ones at that–the students would need context knowledge to complete such difficult questions. 

This rubric helped us to choose apps with our teachery eyes.

Concept Mapping and Ch. 1 Book Club

To kick off Ch. 1 of Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students like School?, we started the conversation with an exploration of concept maps. We were asked to identify key concepts of Ch. 1 using a concept mapping tool that was given to us. The tool I was given was Mind42. While the tool itself looked appealing and organized text and images in a pleasant way, it was extremely difficult to navigate the tools within the site. My partner and I spent more time trying to get the text bubbles to appear and organize than actual time spent on reviewing the content of Ch. 1.

Our conversations that followed became extremely important regarding our experience. We were reminded that concept mapping helps free up working memory, it recycles our thinking and reinforces/creates schemas. In our experience, we were also reminded to build activities for our students that are achievable challenges–to make the activities rewarding when it comes to problem solving. Such activities are also useful because they may be UDL appropriate and open-ended for different learners in our classrooms.

While I didn’t enjoy using Mind42, (because the problem solving wasn’t an appropriate challenge for me) I left the activity wanting to check out Mindomo and Mindmeister.

Define McSweeney

For our first quickfire  back at school, we were given the task to take a photo from around our new campus that defines us. After, we were to upload it to a shared Picasa web album.

I found a beautiful tree, on a river bank. The sun was shining and I was reminded of my home in Portland, Oregon. I long to be there and dream of the day that I can return, permanently. It was the perfect definition of where I come from and where I want to be–immersed in trees, rivers, mountains, and lush, green parks–something I miss dearly while living overseas in a concrete jungle! Lastly, I added the lenses of my glasses over my camera’s view. I’m blind in one eye and far-sighted in the other. This was to represent the balance I try to maintain in my life to work slowly, double-check, be thoughtful and considerate. No matter where I go, I am reminded of my disability (and others’ disabilities) and how it affects/affected my learning and socializing.

Define McSweeney