My Experience With Lesson Planning Thus Far…

As an aspiring high school faculty member (teacher or counselor) I have been very intrigued with what engages high school students and the methods I can use to effectively get information across to them. According to the article Ten Simple Strategies for Re-engaging Students (Edutopia), One of the best ways to engage students is to have fun. This doesn’t come as a surprise as all teachers were students at one time and know that fun is the key to creativity and retention. However, its important not to lose sight of what really matters, the students. Far to often, teachers will lecture materials straight from the book hours on end without giving the students an opportunity to use critical thinking and higher level understanding to learn the information. This is one area that I was most looking forward to incorporating into my own unit plan.

My unit plan thus far has centered around the idea of structured powerpoint or lecture time (although very limited) followed by various class activities to engage my students. Keep in mind that although these lessons should be fun, they should also effectively teach the students what they need to learn. This is where the ISTE-S standards come into play. The three that I will center my lesson plan around are 1) creativity and innovation, 2) communication and collaboration, and 3) Critical thinking and problem solving. By structuring my lessons around these three main standards I should be able to engage students while effectively teaching them the material needed.

I will also need to cater to different learning styles so I will be utilizing many different technologies in my classroom (undecided on which ones). I will also need to be prepare plan B’s just in case these technologies don’t work as planned. In doing so, I will assure that my students are able to learn the material no matter what obstacles are thrown at me. With this being said, I am currently fine tuning my lesson plan and will start planning here in the coming days.


Benefit of Podcasts and video creation in the Classroom

If properly used, podcasts can be a very effective in getting information across to students in a very user friendly way. Will Richardson talks about the simplicity in Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts by stating, “Like the other technologies that I have talked about in this book, you do not need a lot of technical expertise to make it work” (Richardson, 2007). This simplicity allows for students to voice their own opinions about class content in a way that is engaging and calls for next level thinking. Although I never used podcasts in my educational career growing up, I feel like this technology can be effectively used to engage future students.

Richardson suggests that older students (high school) tend to lean towards video presentations when given the option of presentation styles. Video production is very fun for students as they can add their own style to the curriculum instead of falling asleep to 2 hour lectures on the same material. Video production also urges students to use critical thinking to learn the course content, along with the application of the newly learned material.

Web. 2.0 Applications

1) Class Dojo

A) Class Dojo is an app that connects teachers, students and parents through a technological medium. It helps teachers manage their students, creates a way to contact each student and parent individually and allows teachers to keep track of student behavior.

B) This app meets the NETS-S standard of Model Digital Age Work and Learning as they integrate this application into their daily routines. This integration allows them to gain the necessary experience for future jobs in our ever advancing society.

C) It doesn’t take much previous knowledge to use this app. Class Dojo is designed with simplicity and tutorial like instructions that allows the user to easily use the app. After 10 minutes of using this app I was able to create my own classroom with students in all.

D) One of the core strengths of this app is that it allows teachers to communicate with parents, along with the ability to monitor and record student behaviors in the classroom.

E) One limitation that this app has is that it is not that “fun” for the students. I would assume that most students would get bored of the app after time, resulting in a lack of presence on the classroom site. This could become an issue as assignments and feedback could be posted using this app.

F) This app could range anywhere from grades 1-12. I say this because it is mainly used to link teachers, students and parents together, which is necessary in any grade level.

2) Forest: Stay Focused 

A) Forest: Stay Focused is an app that helps students stay away from their smartphone and focus on their school work. This cool app was introduced to me during our show and tell presentations during my ED 270 class. The app works by growing a tree, as long as the user stays on the screen and doesn’t go elsewhere. So, for instance, if a teacher wanted to make sure his/her students were staying focused in class they could ask to see their tree at the end of class. Each tree built is added to a forest that showcases the students abilities to pay attention in class.

B) This app meets the NETS-S standard Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity by giving students an extra incentive to stay away from their phones (social media) and focus on learning.

C) Like the previous app, Forest: Stay Focused is an app that doesn’t require many prerequisites and is rather self explanatory.

D) The core strength of this app is that it forces students to focus on something other than their smartphones. Like schoolwork!

E) One possible limitation is that I could cause some students to stress out or cause anxiety regarding their inability to check their phones. This alone could hinder their ability to complete their coursework.

F) The best age group to use this for would be grades 6-12 as they are primarily the ones using their phones. However, as time goes on, more and more elementary students will be using smartphones for social media and other distractors.

3) Kahoot!

A) Kahoot! is an app that allows teachers to create quiz-based games for their students. The students can then access this quiz on their phones (Clickers) so that they can answer the questions displayed on one main screen up front. This app takes all the fun of previous study games and takes it to a whole new level.

B) This app meets the NETS-S standards of Facilitating and Inspiring Student Learning and Creativity and Designing and Developing Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments. This app meets these requirements by creating a new way for students to learn and engage in higher level cognitive functioning.

C) The only prerequisites that a teacher would need to operate this app would be access to the content specific information to put on the quiz. Other than that, this app effectively explains how to make and distribute these quizzes.

D) The main strength of this app is that it engages students, allowing them to retain the information being studied.

E) One limitation that this app possess is that it adds a sense of competitiveness to learning. Although this can be engaging for students, some may become discouraged, resulting in poor scores.

F) I would say that this app is most beneficial in grades 6-12. Any grade level lower may face issues regarding concentration and information retention.

Overexposed: Sexting and Relationships

Courtney Pentland, a school librarian at Burke High School, approaches the topic of sexting and inappropriate media use with great care. She first approaches her students by  warning them that the topic being discussed is serious and requires a mature participation. She also utilizes tablets in the classroom which provide a means by which students can discretely respond to questions or share them with the rest of the class. The presence of these tablets also engages the students on a much more effective level when compared to a lecture/note-taking environment.

Ms. Pentland also urges her students to reply to answers in a vocabulary that is familiar to them. This allows the students to understand and process new information on a much more personal level. This will result in a better understanding of the material and  a longer retention rate for students.

Like noted previously, the use of tablets in this class allow students to answer questions that they may not have answered in a traditional classroom setting. Because of this, reserved students will have a voice in the conversation and be able to get more meaningful information out of the class. An added benefit to incorporating this technology into the classroom is that it allows every student to answer a question on their own, before sharing it with the class. In a traditional classroom setting, answers are blurted out in class, usually by the same person every time. This greatly limits the potential of students who are reserved.

Copyright 101

Copyright is when a person provides an original idea that can’t (legally) be used by other people for profit or personal gain. If a person uses someone else’s idea illegally, they can face a hefty fine and possible jail time. A short list of copyright material includes films, articles, arts and musical material. However, general facts cannot be copyrighted as they are considered general knowledge.

People can use 4 strategies to avoid copyright infringement. These 4 strategies include:

  • The purpose and character of the use. Will the materials be used non- commercially in a nonprofit education institution?
  • The nature of the work being copied. Is the work published or unpublished? Is it factual or creative? Unpublished works have stronger protections than do published works. Although facts cannot be protected, the expression of those facts may be.
  • The amount of the work being used. Are you using a little, a lot, or all of a work? The more you use, the less likely that the use is fair.
  • The effect of your use on the market for or value of the work being copied. What would happen if everyone were to do what you are proposing? Would you deprive the copyright owner of a sale or harm the value in other ways? If you have any commercial intent, even if the money goes to a good cause, harm to the market is assumed (Crews, 2000).

All of these strategies, if effectively used, can help people avoid the possible disciplines that come with copyright infringement.

With this being said the type of media involved plays an important role in deciding what is right and what is wrong. For example, articles and videos can be used in education by teachers, but only once. They can make copies of the material as long as they were not influenced to do so by anyone but themselves. More popular forms of media such as music and film, are much less lenient when it comes copyright. If copied in any way shape or form (besides education in some cases) people can face very extensive fines and even jail-time. With this in mind, it is important to realize what is acceptable and not acceptable when considering using information from any resource that is not personal in nature.





Presentation Design Q’s

1. I was actually Surprised by how much I already knew regarding the content of this article. This is probably a result of years of powerpoint experience and classroom instruction on how to improve my presentations. However, there were a few things that were new to me. One point made was that idea of the picture superiority affect. This is the idea that pictures resinate in the minds of students much better than that of words. This actually makes a whole lot of sense, as PowerPoints with pictures seem to hold my interest, whereas PowerPoints without don’t. I also fall victim to the “empty space” point that was brought up. I don’t like to see empty space on my PowerPoint slides and usually fill it with various fillers such a pictures or clip art. The article goes on to highlight the effectiveness of empty space and how it can improve the design of a presentation.

2. I can incorporate all of these details into future presentations to draw in my audience and effectively grasp their attention. I can also teach these newfound skills to future students in hope that they can improve their presentation design as well. As technology advances and our society becomes much more dependent on web and computer presentation, it will be useful to have all the design tools accessible so that future students can survive in the ever-evolving business world.

3. For the most part, my previous academic presentations have been relatively good. The only two points that have been weak in my eyes have been my empty space usage (or lack thereof) and my lack of understanding regarding picture quality and how it can impact an audience. I have effectively used alignment and proximity in previous presentations and would just need to improve on the previously mentioned areas. Besides this I would say that my presentation style is very effective and has helped me progress through my academic career thus far.