Thursday, July 5, 2012

Web2.0 Professional Development

In late June, I led two three-hour professional development sessions for teachers at my school.  One was geared toward teachers in grades 5-12 and the other was geared toward teachers in grades K-4.  Initially I was planning on creating two separate presentations, but then a 2-week trip to Europe changed those plans.  I decided, instead, to create one presentation that would have something for everybody.  I covered all the tools with both groups, but spent more time on different tools for each group and focused on how they could be used differently with each group.  The feedback from both sessions was positive, so I'm glad it worked out!

View presentation here or watch it embedded below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

GoogleDocs+Prezi+Screenr = Collaboration

Each year the 8th graders do a research project on the Cambodian genocide before reading the book, Children of the River.  This year we decided to revamp the project completely!  First, we wanted to integrate the new research model and we also wanted to have the students create a product other than a powerpoint.   So, I sat down with the two eighth grade language arts teachers and the eighth grade special education teacher to map out our two week plan (in the end it turned out to be 2 1/2 weeks).  The finished project was awesome and required a huge amount of collaboration by the students with googledocs, prezi, and screenr. 

Step 1 - Research
The first day we spent going through the first steps of our research process (PLUSS) - Plan and Locate and Use.
  • I began with the PLAN step - we talked about organizing our information by creating areas of focus.  These areas of focus would allow us to place the information we find in an appropriate area which organizes our research.  As a class we brainstormed topics to use for our areas of focus.  
  • Next, we moved to USE - I created a practice sheet for going through the USE step.  I had pulled out a few paragraphs of information that we could go through as a class to practice identifying the important information and paraphrasing it.  So, first I assigned one area of focus and then when they broke out into their group work, they had to come up with a second area of focus to use in this practice worksheet.  I walked them through the first few sentences as a class.  Then, they worked with the people at their table to go through the rest of the information - reading it sentence by sentences, deciding if it is important information, determining what area of focus it belonged under (coming up with their own area of focus), and paraphrasing it.
  • Finally, we moved to LOCATE - I showed them the pathfinder I had created for them using LibGuides.  I gathered a variety of sources that they could use in their research.
After my instruction, the students were assigned their topics and had to begin their research with PLAN.  This required them to gain background information on their topic and determine the areas of focus they would use.  I used our subscription to Britannica to find good overview research articles for them to use for this step.  The students had to read through the article and come up with their areas of focus to use to fill out their graphic organizer before being allowed to move onto the next step of research.

The embedded Issuu includes almost all of the documents and lesson plans I created for the research portion of the project.

Step 2 - Create a Prezi
Once the research was completed, the students set up their prezi accounts.  One student created the Prezi and shared the link with their partner so that they could both work on their pezi together.  We talked to the students about limiting the amount of written information they put in a presentation because they would be adding more information while talking and recording their presentation.
The students had a little trouble thinking outside of the powerpoint mode when creating a prezi.  Some of them still have that "powerpoint" feel, but a lot of the students truly embraced the flexibility and creativity that prezi afforded them.  The little people that move across the screen while collaborating were a big hit too :)

Step 3 - Write a Script using GoogleDocs
Once the prezis were created, the students had to write a script to use when recording their presentations.  We broke out googledocs again and the students were able to work simultaneously on writing their scripts.

Step 4 - Record a Presentation using Screenr 
After two days of practice, the students were ready to record.  It was a great scene to see the students dotted across the library at tables, on the floor, in between the shelves, and on the soft-seating recording their finished product.

Step 5 - Watch Finished Presentations
It took about two class periods to watch the completed presentations.  A googleform was created for each class for the students to submit the link to their recorded screencast which made pulling up each one in class a quick and easy process.  After each presentation, the students had to think-pair-share about one thing they learned about Cambodia and/or the Cambodian Genocide from the presentation.