"The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore."-Dale Carnegie

Friday, November 12, 2010

Podcasts: Where do they fit into an ELA Classroom?

           Podcasting, as Richardson calls it, "is the creation and distribution of amateur radio, plain and simple" (Richardson, 112.) I like to refer to podcasts as a piece of someone's life, a portion of their heart and soul, poured into a microphone, chopped up, edited, re-edited and then published somehow for an audience. One of the most popular websites to find podcasts is This American Life, a popular online radio program where you can listen to podcasts streamed live, or you can search the archives to listen to older programs. Although these radio podcasts are all very well done, I sometimes find it even more interesting to listen to podcasts done by the real amateurs, the ones who are creating stories not just for a website, but because they have a story they want to tell. One of my favorite podcasts is called Remorse, and it is a story told by two teenage boys about some of the issues of living in the inner city. They tell the story of a young boy, Eric Morse, who was killed at five years old, by being thrown out of a window for not wanting to steal candy for some 9 and 10 year old friends. Although the story is heart-wrenching, it is also done beautifully and in my opinion, it really gets at the soul of what a podcast is.
          I think podcasts can be useful in the classroom for a couple of reasons. I think one of the more obvious reasons is that podcasts can be interesting to listen to as a supplementary text in the ELA classroom. Students can listen to stories told by other people, even other students like themselves, to analyze them, to discuss them, or to use them for inspiration. Furthemore, I think it would be wonderful if students had the opportunity to create their own podcasts in the classroom. It is my firm belief that every student has a story to tell and I think it would be wonderful if students could not only write their own stories, but could turn them into podcasts and "publish" them in a sense, online. I think that writing is much more meaningful when it is personal to the students, and this would be a great way to allow student to create meaningful stories to share with their classmates and with a larger online audience. I had to create a podcast in one of my English Ed classes and I chose to write about my father, who has had many brushes with death but is luckily still alive to talk about it today. I created a story and incorporated narrative, interviews and music to make one piece. This project became really important to me because I wasn't just telling any story, I was telling my father's story, my family's story, my story. I think students would find a project like this also personally meaningful because they could choose what they wanted to create, just like the choice that I had while creating my project. I have included a link to listen to some podcasts that I have created so that you can listen to them, if you'd like, and get a sense of the type of project that I believe students are capable of in the classroom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Going Global!

          EPals is a website designed to connect students, teachers and classrooms across international boundaries. This website provides opportunities for students and teachers to discuss topics in forums, to create new collaborative projects and to upload work and lesson plan ideas for sharing with the global community.
         One of my favorite parts of this website was the page for ePals Projects for Classroom Collaboration. On this page, there are numerous project ideas that classrooms from around the world can collaborate on. For example, one project idea that I thought would work well in an ELA classroom was the "Digital Storytelling" project. This project was designed for ePals to work collaboratively in creating a story digitally. By creating the story online, you can have one student working in the United States working on the same story as a student in China or Germany. I think this is a really neat idea and can provide students an opportunity to broaden their knowledge about other countries and cultures.
            Another interesting part of this website was the Teacher Media Galleries. In this section of the website, teachers can upload lesson plans or activity ideas, as well as work they might have done with other teachers in the system. Students also have an opportunity to do the same in their own forum, Student Media Galleries. This gallery can serve a different purpose for students. Students can use this gallery to publish their work that they are proud of and it can give them a sense of accomplishment for their work. So many times in school, students are asked to do projects, to write stories, create movies, posters, books, etc. that no one other than the teacher ever has a chance to see. With this forum, however, these projects can have a real purpose for students because they can be published for students all over the world to view and to comment on. I think that knowing that someone else will be viewing their work could really help to motivate students to put more time, energy and thought into their work.
         Another aspect of this site that I think is really useful is the forum, one for teachers, one for students, one for families, one for projects and one for focus areas. I think forums are always a great way to help people to communicate and to share ideas with one another. I think this is especially useful on a global website because there are not many opportunities for students or teachers to share ideas with students halfway around the globe. I thiink that this global sharing of ideas can really help to generate a deeper understanding and appreciation of other cultures and customs.
          I think this website could become really useful in an ELA classroom for a number of reasons. First, I think the digital storytelling project could really translate well into an ELA classroom. It would give the students an opportunity to work collaboratively on creating a story, and it can also help students to develop empathy of other people who lead vastly different lives from their own. I also think the forum could be a very useful tool for students to use. In the forums, I noticed a lot of book clubs and I think it would be great for students to participate in a book club with students from different parts of the country or world. The sharing of different ideas and multiple perspectives is an invaluable experience that students could capitalize on while using these forums. In addition, I think opportunity to share lesson plan/activity ideas with teachers around the world provides many amazing benefits. It is really neat to see the kinds of activities that are being taught around the world and to get fresh ideas from teachers who are working within other cultures. At a basic level, I really feel like the more chances we have to share and to learn from others unlike ourselves, the more worldly, accepting and knowledgeable we can become. This website is a great tool to help us gain all of those characteristics, plus some!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Say Cheese!!

       I have found the most amazing website, Big Huge Labs. This website allows you to create all sorts of awesome projects from your pictures, including puzzles, calendars, mozaics, magazine covers and many other interesting items. I think that you could use this website to create many really neat projects for a classroom but the one that I chose to play around with was the "Captioner", which allows you to add captions (speech bubbles, thought bubbles or actions) to your pictures. This website was so easy to use; you don't even have to download pictures! All I had to do was link to either my Flickr account or Facebook (I used Flickr for this assignment) and you could upload a picture you already had on one of those two accounts. I chose a picture from my father's 60th surprise birthday party and it took seconds to be "selected" on the page. Then, you can create captions for your picture to add thoughts/words/actions and spice up the image a little bit. You could also choose to add a "stamp collection" at the bottom, meaning you could choose a theme like "party" and add certain party themed pictures to your image: party hats, confetti, streamers, etc. I had a lot of fun creating this image and the website was really user friendly!
        Although I created this image for fun, I think this tool could also be useful in an ELA classroom. I was thinking that students could use this Captioner tool to add comic-book like captions to illustrations, graphics or photos in stories that they have created to make them seem more professional. You could also have students make a scrapbook or an "All About Me" book in the first couple weeks of school as a "getting to know you" activity. The students could use this tool to add funny comments or thoughts to their scrapbooks to show a little bit more of their personality and lifestyle. Another idea I had for using this tool correlates with Noden's "Image Grammar." This is a way to teach grammar and to help students improve their writing by using images. Students could use this tool and do the grammar exercises right on the page when given one photo. Then, the students could compare their different responses and you could see how vastly different everyone's interpretations can be! Either way, I think this tool could be really useful and I think that the students would have a lot of fun playing with it and making the pictures their own!
Some rights reserved by W J (Bill) Harrison
Flickr Address

Creative Minds- Creative Licenses

Creative Commons License

There are six main types of Creative Commons Licenses that apply to photography and other artwork. The six types include: the Attribution License, the Attribution- No Derivatives License, the Attribution-Non commerical- No Derivatives License, the Attribution-Noncommerical License, the Attribution-Noncommerical- ShareAlike License and the Attribution- ShareAlike License. All of these licenses allow you to download someone’s work and to share them with other people, as long as you give credit to the original artist and make a link back to the original artist. The restrictions change, however, in the way that people are allowed to edit, change or add to your original work. They also change depending upon whether the artist wants you to use the work for commercial or non-commercial purposes. 

*In the Attribution License:
 you are allowed to distribute, edit, change and add to someone else’s work (even for a commercial purpose) as long as you credit the artist of the original artwork.
Attribution Some rights reserved by Nina Matthews Photography
Flickr Address
*In the Attribution- No Derivatives License:
 you are allowed to distribute (for both commercial and noncommercial purposes), although you are not allowed to tamper with the work in any way. Again, credit must be given to the original artist.
*The Attribution-Noncommerical License:
 lets others edit or change the work for a non-commercial purpose, although you still must credit the original author for their work.
*The Attribution- ShareAlike License:
 allows you to change, edit or build upon an original work (even for commercial purposes) as long as you give credit to the original artist and license their new works in the same way.
*The Attribution-Noncommerical- ShareAlike License:
 is like the ShareAlike license, although under this license, the work must be used for non-commercial purposes only.
*The Attribution-Noncommerical- No Derivatives License is the most restrictive. Under this license, you can download someone’s work and share it with others as long as they give credit to the author. However, you are not allowed to change, edit, modify or build upon the works in anyway.

I think that these licenses are important for artists, even amateurs, to be able to have so that a person's work is not being abused, manipulated or extorted by other people who want to use his/her work. I also think its good that there are so many types of licenses so that a person can be very specific when choosing the type of licensing he wants for his work.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How "tweet" it is to be loved by you...Using Twitter in the classroom

The Twitter community is something that I am new to. I have heard a lot about Twitter, I know there are something called "tweets" and that people can follow one another on this network. However, prior to starting this Mod, I never had any idea of how this site could function in a classroom. Some of the websites I visited: "How to use Twitter for Social Learning" and "The What, Why and How of Twitter" both helped to clarify this for me. In the first article, I thought that learning about "Micro-learning" was extremely interesting, I honestly had not heard of this before I read the section of this article called "Micro-learning on Twitter." I thought that this article presented a really neat idea. A teacher could use twitter to create "micro lessons", which would have to be a lesson presented in less than 140 characters, the lenght of a tweet. This was interesting to me because these lessons have to contain links to videos, audio clips, hyperlinks, etc. in order to help students create real meaning in a lesson. This would be a great tool for a classroom because the students could learn so much via this multimedia lesson instead of the traditional, boring, textbook reading and lecture style class. "The What, Why and How of Twitter" was a neat website to check out because the author of the presentation, Jenny Luca, highlighted some of the other uses of Twitter, such as the social aspect and the ability to share all kinds of information quickly. When using Twitter, students can "debate" over their tweets, check out the newest trends and what people are "talking about" and can also share links with their classmates to help them with research or any other important topics that relate to school or their social life. Like a blog, students can use Twitter to follow one another and form a strong classroom community. I think that for all of these reasons, Twitter can be a very useful tool in the classroom and I think students will really enjoy being able to connect to their classmates in this new way.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What I've Been Fed...

I have found the RSS feed to be a very useful and interesting tool. I never knew that they existed prior to taking this course, and I can see now why they are very popular. I signed up for six different websites and within seconds, I had 218 new posts to read and look at, most of which provide useful information for those in the field of education. From the posts that I have shared with the class, I want to highlight the post titled "Site of the Week" from the edublog 4teachers.org. This post is not lengthy or complicated, but it suggests a website for teachers to use and explains the site a little bit. This post highlights the Teachersfirst website, which seems like another interesting tool to use. It is a site for teachers to organize all online databases and resources, including blogs, wikis, lesson plans, etc, all in one spot. I thought this could be useful for the rest of the class because this website may be one to help us organize all of the interesting sites we are viewing and using for this class. It can help teachers to keep all of these online resources together and stay organized!

Teachersfirst Logo

Monday, September 20, 2010


I think that Nings are a really interesting resource to have: they are a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace, but can be made private for educational purposes. A Ning allows people to post things like comments, pictures or videos and then other members of the group can comment on those posts or make new posts in reaction. I think this tool could be very useful in the classroom, although I must admit that I am a bit dismayed that you have to pay now to create a Ning.

  Nings That I Belong To:
The first Ning that I belong to is the UB English Education Ning. This Ning was a really good resource for keeping in touch with other preservice and current English Teachers. It was a good site to share ideas, lesson plans, videos, etc. with other colleagues in the program. Unfortunately, this Ning is not currently available because of the fee associated with it.

This Ning is a site for English Teachers. Again, this Ning was designed to help English teachers share lesson plans, ideas, job postings, etc. I think this Ning will be very useful when I am teaching English and need a lesson plan idea, or perhaps feedback on a lesson I am thinking of teaching. Its always helpful to have a support-group of sorts, and this Ning is very useful for that purpose.