Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ian's Shoelace Site

I was checking out my bloglines account this usual, I have not been keeping up with it. A few weeks ago I was on it and tagged a few articles I swore I would go back and actually read. This morning was my "going back" time and I saw a neat article on the Cool Tools blog. It was about Ian's Shoelace Site. It is a site that has anything from correcting a crooked bow (I know that bugs you, admit it!), to how to tie different kinds of knots, to how to correct the shoelace length - even a shoelace calculator! It may not be for the faint of heart - it may excite you right into a seizure! Haha! But I thought I would share it with you! Check it out!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comic Books and Graphic Novels ~Part One

I am really excited. I learned a new program called Comic Life. It is a comic book/graphic novel building program; it has templates from all sorts of ages of comics from the 40's, 60's, 00's etc and graphic novel templates, and all you do is drag the template onto the "stage" and you can move around the frames and insert words, dialogue bubbles, think bubbles, story boxes, etc. There are many filters as well that will change your pictures you insert, to look a certain way. There are filters to make a picture to look like it was drawn with colored pencils, to look like marvel comics, etc. It is really neat!! Another cool feature of this program is the "drag-and-drop" ability from google images. No longer having to copy and paste, you can drag the image into the program and drop it into a frame. You can move the picture around inside the frame to edit it, taking away the time of cropping a photo in another program first.

With my CPT 20 students I gave them an assignment to create a 18-20 page graphic novel and my CPT 10 students to create a 12-15 page comic book. I think most are really excited to begin the assignment. I am making them develop a story (it can be based on anything from a character in a book or movie's untold story, to re-developing characters from an existing comic/graphic book [i.e. scuba steve], to re-telling an actual event, to a brand new story with a new set of characters and conflicts). The possibilities are endless. I know I am very excited to see what they come up with - the CPT 10 students so far have a good start on their ideas, and the CPT 20 students have a planning class tomorrow, so we will see how far they get on developing their ideas.

I created one on my own during a prep one day. I created an introduction page to the untold story of "Bootstrap" Bill Turner from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It was just an example to show the kids, but to tell you the truth I wish I could do this assignment myself! I hope my excitement and enthusiasm is infectious and the kids catch it!

I will keep you posted!

Monday, May 04, 2009

"If I post a blog post and no one reads it, does it really exist?"

You know what? I truly enjoy collaborating and discussing teaching with other colleagues. I remember at one inservice I had gone to in the past, that one presenter said "you never take off your teacher cap and you will find that the only ones who understand are fellow teachers, therefore, each time you see one, you can not help but talk 'shop' with them". I find myself always talking shop with my teacher friends. It is not like I am an uninteresting (at least I hope) person and have nothing else to talk about, but every time I get together with my teacher friends, all we talk about is school. This includes anything from situations, issues, questions, discussions about philosophy, etc. I know to the rest of the world it may seem like we are very boring, but I enjoy it!

I learn from others. I feel that if we are given the proper opportunities to discuss in small groups about these things, that we grow as teachers as much as we do as people. It does not have to be a school situation I guess. Discussion with people in general is very important. We are a species who learn from each other and can adapt and move forward when we build on our experiences and the experiences of others. Now this is not to say that other media such as technology does not enhance our growth experiences. I watch the news, I read current events, I keep in touch somewhat with the celebrity world, I read many many books on all sorts of subjects (music, bands/artists, history, literature, world issues, classics, travel, fiction, etc.), and I would like to think of myself as a pretty well-rounded individual. I do know, though, that not much beats the face-to-face interactions. Media distorts things like true emotion and feeling. Tone of voice does not always ring true when an actor is saying a line that should make you feel something totally different than what you got out of it, a book can be interpreted in many ways, just as text message can be very deceiving if not taken the right way. Sarcasm for example. Take this blog post; if I tried to get across that I am being sarcastic, there are only a few ways to try - maybe I try using a dash, italicizing, bolding, quoting, etc. But who really knows if it is read the way I wanted you to read it! This is when good, old, tried-tested-and-true face-to-face interaction will never be beaten. Distance Ed. courses or Correspondence courses in things such as Creative Writing - how does a student feel the emotion of the character when I tell you to read this story and ask for a response and hand it in. Did they pick up the emotion I would have used in my voice if that student was sitting in my classroom during my lesson? Seeing my face? Hearing my voice changing to convey the message?

This is why I enjoy talking to my fellow teachers. Without my available time to do so face-to-face as I keep saying, I blog. I blog and hope that someone out there is reading this post and it makes them think, reflect, consider, be inspired or maybe they hate it! I do not know, but what I do know is if no one comments, how do I know? Let me post this question I have asked before:

"If I post a blog post and no one reads it, does it really exist?"

Friday, May 01, 2009

Are your students too trusting of technology?

I just read a really great post from Vicki Davis - Cool Cat Teacher.

Her post discussed students using technology and taking it for granted. Most times, students are much too willing to accept and trust technology. It can get them into trouble a lot easier then they want to believe. Whether it be from us teachers or from a more scary source like the internet.

Here is snip for you - this part actually made me laugh because I allow ipods in my classroom while they are working as well, so I can really relate to this! Plus the image of headphones that look like "jet fighter" headphones make me giggle!
Here it is:

"On Tuesday, I was in my room helping the seniors with their movie and I had on a new headset which looks sort of like one of those jet fighter sort of headphones -- complete ear coverage. I looked like I couldn't hear them a speck. The microphone was up above my head since I wasn't using it. What they didn't know is that for some reason on that particular computer, the microphone was basically turning my headset into a wonder hearing aid.

I could hear the boy across the room and what he was listening to on his iPod (he was in study hall and if they are working on a project, I let them listen to their music - my room is actually quieter that way and most (not all) students get more done that way -- music is their quiet.)

I could also hear the student in front of me telling a coarse joke and those behind me responding. Some were whispering in another corner.

I just kept working - smiling to myself all the while. I enjoy the teachable moments like this-- I knew it was coming. So, I waited and finally decided to say something when the cute blonde girl who always blushes ear to ear started to say something I knew would mortify her if I heard.

I put my fighter pilot headphones around my neck and said:

"Man, it is amazing how these headphones magnify the sound in this room - I can hear EVERYTHING!"

The blonde girl blushed - and everyone turned and looked except the iPod wonder sitting in the corner.

"Really? You can hear everything? Let me hear!"

Sure enough, they each had to try it out. This spread through the school and others had to come try it out later. I mentioned to each of them that with technology - you never know who is listening."