Five Posts to Write Right Now

This is a great suggestion on things to blog about. Of course, I’m posting this to do later.. But hopefully it will happen!

The Daily Post

Whether you’ve been blogging for a decade or for a week, sometimes it can feel like inspiration has taken a day off. Next time that happens, give these post ideas a try.

1. The quote-first post.

It’s sometimes easier to put your own thoughts into words when someone else’s words are already there on the screen. Have you come across a powerful quote in the news, or read a great opening sentence in a novel? Is there a line in a song you’ve recently heard that you keep thinking about?

Start a post by quoting it. The quote can be as simple as a line of dialog from Game of Thrones, or as thought-provoking as a short passage form Plato in this fascinating essay on crime and free will. You could write about how the quote affects you, why you think it’s interesting, or how it relates to something you’d written about before. Or just use…

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I have discovered Glogster!

Not only is Glogster the coolest name for a website ever, but it is also a super helpful way to organize ideas and make an online presentation or infographic on a topic. I decided to make a “glog” on Fractals, because I am a math nerd and find fractals to be extremely entertaining and interesting. I found that you can change the backgrounds, you can add pictures as well as words and you can even link to outside videos and sources from each of the things you add to the infographic.  I think it would be really neat to be able to print out the infographic, even though some of the information that you linked to would be lost. I could imagine that teachers would be willing to make their own educational posters and print them out and maybe even blow them up to hang in the classroom. 

Glogster can also be a useful tool to encourage exploration on topics that aren’t always covered in depth in class. By combining all the resources into one place for students to click on and explore is extremely helpful and encourages further exploration. Here I combined pictures with small snippits of what Fractals are, but then encouraged people to click on the pictures and writing to learn more about what everything is. Image

Glogster offers many opportunities to embed the “glog” you created into your own personal webpage as well as giving a lot of layout options. When mousing over the pictures that have a website attached to them, a “www” pops up to allow the viewer to see that there is more information available to them, should they choose to click on the links. You can also add pictures, and Glogster gives opportunities to place “stickers” on the poster as well to make it more fun and interesting. There are a variety of fonts to choose from to really make it your own and design something to fit your needs. I browsed around Glogster and found that there are many, many glogs out there for your needs. There are glogs on the Letter “E”, on Human Anatomy, Animal Adaptations and that’s just a small sample of what’s out there for you to use. Of course, you can always create your own to tailor to your students, but looking around at what other people created allows for you to see each of the things Glogster lets you do. It also shows you things you never knew about, and will inspire your creativity. I really enjoy Glogster and I can’t wait to play around with it a little more and see what it can really do. 

Using “Nearpod” in a Classroom

nearpod

I decided to look into Nearpod a little more, mostly because I have seen Dyknow in use, and this seems very similar to me. After looking into it a little more, I realized there are many things that are the same as Dyknow and yet, also so many things that are different. Shocking, right? I joined Nearpod and was able to look around a bit to see the differences and similarities between Nearpod and Dyknow.  I liked that they allow you to join for free, and help you to get started with an introductory lesson that you can look at.

I like Nearpod because you are able to have students follow along with your lesson at the pace you want them to go. Often, by posting things online and letting students look at them ahead of time, they are constantly going through and seeing how many slides are left or going ahead to look at the answers to problems you are currently working on. With Nearpod, the teacher is in control of when students can advance on to the next slide and where they can go in the presentation. Another thing that I really liked about Nearpod was that if the teacher wanted to give the students control to look around a specific website they can, and they can make sure that the students are staying on the website and not looking anywhere else.

Another cool thing that Nearpod does is gives you lessons that you can use with the Nearpod app. Of course you have to buy most of them, but they also offer free previews of lessons. These lessons include lessons for English Language learners, math lessons and even some presentations from Time For Kids, plus many, many more.  These lessons can be bought individually, in case you just wanted to see it or try it out, or you can buy the whole set. I think this is very helpful, especially for teachers just beginning to use Nearpod because it has all the neat tricks and tips already built into the presentations.  Teachers can also build videos into the presentations, as well as web pages, free drawing sections and many other cool things!

Nearpod also gives assessment opportunities for the teachers to use for free. You can incorporate polling, quizzes and even open ended questions all for free into your presentations. The teacher can also make these activities required before the students can move onto the next ones. I thought this was really neat too, because the teacher can then look at the results from the assessment and gather data based on her presentation from the quiz, poll or questions that are incorporated into the Nearpod presentation. Here’s what the teacher view looks like:

ateacherview

One drawback to having Nearpod would be the economic drawback.  Nearpod would only be feasible in a school that could afford for each student to have an ipad or computer, as the app is mostly based on an iPad.  However, they also have iOS downloads, as well as Android downloads that can be used on phones. I can forsee major problems with allowing students to have their phones out during class though, constantly receiving text messages and feeling the need to exit out of the app to check them.  However, the nice thing about Nearpod, is that the teacher can always see who is logged into the presentation and who is joining and leaving, so that could be a way to make sure students are following along and not messing around on their phones.

I would love to try Nearpod out in a classroom.  With all of the things that you can build into the presentation, it will help to keep students engaged. Also, the perk of not allowing them to move forward or backward without your permission, sets it up perfectly for them to have to stay with you and pay attention. While I think this app would require a lot of practice before I could use it flawlessly, I think that I would love to incorporate this into my classroom.  I would also suggest this for classes because it has many ways to keep kids entertained and you can continuously be changing the focus from lecture-based teaching to something that allows for more fun.

Extracurricular Empowerment

After watching Scott McLeod’s TED Talk “Extracurricular Empowerment,”and even though I am confused as to how the girl was able to take pictures of her lunch during school (what are the technology policies at her school?) I am astounded by the bright, young minds and what they are all capable of. It is so important for teachers to encourage this passion and thirst for knowledge, even if it has nothing to do with what the teacher is teaching. Of course, it is so important to try and incorporate what they are passionate about into what you are teaching and allow for many activities to get students excited about learning. I think it is so cool that young teenagers are able to find things they love (especially girls!) and they are encouraged to continue pursuing their dreams and passions. 

One thing that I am not surprised by at all is that the school board tried to tell her she couldn’t take pictures of her food and post them anymore. This could possibly be because of the “bad publicity” that they were getting from her rating the food and also counting the hairs (ew!) she found in her lunches. I think that instead of letting her be creative and have her own blog and continue doing what she clearly likes to do, schools are often obsessed with “publicity” and making sure that they look good. Instead of listening to students and trying to find the balance between what they want and what they school wants to make sure everyone is happy, they are so focused on the way it is now and not letting students jeopardize that with their online commentary. I believe that there are many things that schools can learn from the students that attend them, and just by giving the students the opportunity to talk and use those technology devices in a constructive way, can help to bridge the gap between administrators/teachers and students. Students love to share their opinion and letting them be a part of creating/tweaking their learning experience will also help them become more excited and invested in succeeding in that environment as well. 

Pixlr: Photo Manipulation

This week we used Pixlr, an online free photo editing and manipulation website. You can upload any pictures you want and then put them together or put yourself on someone else’s head or put yourself in space. Whatever you want. It’s really neat because you don’t have to pay for anything, Pixlr is completely free. Although it may not be as jazzy as Photo Shop, it’s still a great tool to stash away and keep for future use.

For my Pixlr photo manipulation, I decided to place myself inside of a lion’s mouth. Why, you ask? Well, why not? Here’s the final product:

lioneatingme

I also did a photo manipulation when I took an educational technology class in undergrad, and I used the same picture of myself to do it. That one took a lot longer and I did it in Photo Shop instead of using Pixlr. Here’s that final product:

da