Monday, September 23, 2013

Haiku Deck Update

Although I'm committed to broadening the types of assessment in the freshman class and providing opportunities to create, I have to say that evaluating 80 Haiku Deck assignments was rather time-consuming. But at least I had some great photos to look at. Despite a few glitches, Haiku Deck worked well and remains one of my favorite iPad apps.

 I was happy with the results overall, but of course some tweaking of instructions will happen before I try this again, as I think I will, next year. For one thing, next time I will take the time to discuss putting the citation of the textbook that is their source into a proper format.

Click here to see an example of their work, and here for another example.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Board work

Sometimes I still like to have students write on the board. It's low tech, but it gets students out of their seats and it's a change of pace from always having eyes on a screen while working. The change now is that I don't have to worry about accomplishing everything within one class period.

Students today worked together in groups putting on chalkboards everything they could think of that they know so far about the persons of the Trinity. This happened toward the end of the period, and of course by the time I see these students again the boards will be erased. I took pictures with the iPad and uploaded the photos to our class website. (I used PicMonkey to reduce the size of the photos to something easier to see on the website page.)

Now the boardwork that would have been a fleeting thing in the past is available to us in future classes for further comment, and available as well to students outside of the classroom.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Google Docs, Google Sites or Wikispaces?

I'm always trying to decide what is the right tool for the job. If it's a one-time thing that's just about writing,  probably a doc for each group or even the whole class is enough. But if there will be files or media posted, or if there will be multiple projects, then I go back and forth between Sites and Wikispaces.

I did not use Wikispaces at all last year because our school has gone over to Google apps in a major way, so I thought I would be consistent. But W. does have their project feature, after all, and as I have discovered, even a category expressly aimed at the classroom. Here's what got me to experiment again this year, with one of my classes: the "assessment" feature. A graph can show for each student how much she has been engaged on the wiki. I'm not sure if that will save me from tedious searches of students' posts, but I want to find out.

It seems that in Wikispaces I can't give regular pages a hierarchy, though maybe I'm missing something. In Sites when I create a page I can always choose to nest it under a previously created page. Also, when I tried forming teams in the projects section, the editing was acting weird and it was time consuming; I hope that was a fluke.

Today JP groups will start posting research results. The experiment begins.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Haiku Deck

Fairly recently our school added PowerPoint/Keynote to the already great Speech class that all frosh take, and last year freshmen began to take a course called Design Foundations, an art course that also encompasses design for electronic media. Fantastic stuff. But, my current 80 freshmen won't see any of this until next semester.

This is one reason I was excited to discover Haiku Deck this summer. My students have begun a little project in which they will, I hope, review and present in a graphic form some of what they have learned in the first section of our book. I don't want to spend a lot of time teaching things they will learn soon enough, but I did introduce them to the concept of Creative Commons and needing permission to use photos that might be displayed on the internet.

Haiku Deck takes care of that, so they don't have to. It's possible to search only for CC photos. A link automatically appears displaying the photographer's name, and another link connects to the photographer's Flickr page for full information.

In terms of design, students will learn, next semester, to Keep It Simple... Sweetie. Haiku Deck does that, too. The amount of information that can be placed on a slide is limited, so there will be no slides packed with words; I am hoping students will be forced to synthesize information they have learned. If they choose good photos, the likelihood of a nicely designed, good-looking slide "deck" is great -- I think!

I'm looking forward to seeing the results within the next couple of days. As much as I love Haiku Deck, I am thinking that when I have second-semester freshmen I will do this particular project with Keynote so that students can practice their newly-learned skills from the previous semester.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back to blogging?

Just for the value of reflecting and recording, I hope to put into written word (again) some of what happens in my classroom this year. We'll see if I am able to keep it up or not! If anyone else lands here and finds any of what I have to say at all useful, that will be a bonus.

One notable thing about the beginning of our school year a little over two weeks ago has to do with frosh tech orientation, for the first time completely student led. I was just the observer/extra helper while two sophomores in my assigned session shared with our newest students the ins and outs of Pages for their iPads. These two, along with all the iWizards, were very well prepared by associate principal Larry Baker. It was such a gratifying experience to see students take on this leadership role, and the new setup of groups rotating to different sessions/topics seemed to work very well.

Over the summer I got my feet wet with iBook Author as part of a committee making a book to explain about how technology is integrated into our school. Working with a Macbook for the first time was frustrating, but helped to prepare me for the Macbook Air that replaces the PC laptops we have carted around for several years. It's sort of like operating in a non-native language, but I am learning bit by bit. As far as iBooks go, a colleague and I may create one, or a series of them, for a course we teach that has a supplementary book but no actual text.

I have redesigned plans for my other two courses this year, adding more variation in assessment to the frosh course, and more learning by discovery and collaboration to the Justice and Peace course. Taking stock now and then in this space will help me decide on future direction for each of these courses.