Monday, May 31, 2010

Movie Maker Reflection

Back in April, I attended a "Movie Maker" workshop with Quentin from the school board offered by PAL. It was a very interesting workshop and the good thing about it was that it was hands on and we were able to actually use cameras to make a short film. Quentin brought in a bottle of shampoo as our subject and we were to come up with an idea for a commercial.

After going through the steps of the Movie Maker software, we were given a video camera and we had to work as a team to create a script, storyboard, shots, angles etc. for our film. We then showed the raw footage on a SmartBoard and from there, Quentin showed us some editing techniques to come up with the final product. It was interesting to note that an hour's worth of filming was condensed to less than a minute. It makes you really appreciate the time and effort it takes to make a movie and how important editing is in the whole process. I've enclosed a copy of our "short" call "Silky Suds". It was a lot of fun but a class that you really need to spend more than one day. We may not be the next Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino, but it's a start!

Tina D.

AICT Tech Conference ... Rich Night for All

Citizenship in the real world vs. digital world- what's the difference? What skills do we teach to support successful digital citizenship? What strategies do we adopt to help students develop into responsible digital citizens?

These are some of the questions the AICT Technology Conference (supporting the Digital Citizen 2010) attempted to answer. The key note speaker was Dr. Tim Tyson, an expert of educational technology and and innovator in his use of technology to maximize student achievement.

It was an enjoyable evening filled with the buzz of new technologies on the horizon and at present, and how can we adapt them to our classrooms and student learning. After listening to the keynote speaker, and noting some key elements in his speech, I concluded that as teachers:
  • We have to work differently (work digitally)
  • We have to have transparency, i.e.. share with the rest of the world (pod casts, blogs, digital stories etc.)
  • We must redefine class time
  • Redefine how you assess student's work
  • Start creating "Rich Media" (tip: keep it short)
  • Change learning so it is collaborative problem solving (Learning "IS" collaborative problem solving)
  • Do what you say you value the most (transform that and DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU VALUE THE MOST)
  • Check out the TED conference

In addition, I attended the "Creating Digital Diaries" seminar and it was great to see children in action and participating as a "Tech Crew" member using/capturing video, editing the pictures/video and creating digital diaries or stories.

Fun night for all and the food wasn't bad either!

Tina D.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Video Conversion

I have an Apple computer at home that won't let me run 'AVC'. I tried finding something comparable for Mac but couldn't. At the AICT conference, the facilitators for my break-off session mentioned and They both can convert files from the web or from your computer. They will send a link to your email for where you can download the desired converted clip. I used both for my multimedia project. Why both, you ask?

Zamzar was a lot easier and more efficient for getting files off of Youtube. It gave me problems when I tried to convert the 'flv' file from Youtube to a 'wmv' for Moviemaker. Moviemaker didn't not want to recognize this wmv. Perhaps zamzar converts it to an old form of wmv or a new updated one that the board computers aren't able to read yet.

This is why I also used I converted the files taken from Youtube with zamzar into video files I could use with Moviemaker. Why the wmv videos worked with youconvertit and not zamzar, I don't know but that's how I did it. If you need to convert and you don't have access to the 'AVC' program, try out zamzar and youconvertit.


Moviemaker, Photostory, and Audacity

I have finally finished my multimedia video. John was right, once you start playing with the details it takes longer and longer. For my video, I used these three programs and I'd like to share why.

I started with Photostory, making the opening slide show. It took some time to gather all the images but once I had everything things started coming together fairly easily. I used Photostory a lot for any writing on the screen. I found text easier to manipulate where I wanted it on Photostory. Moviemaker has better text effects but the words never wanted to go where I wanted them.

It took me a while to get the hang of Moviemaker; trying to remember all the things that John showed us. I probably went a little overboard on cutting, splicing, and editing. I knew I was spending too much time when I was getting annoyed that my edited clip ran 7 hundredths of a second longer than intended.

For the soundtrack, I used Audacity to edit clip, create fade ins and fade outs. Audacity gave me more options for sound control. I figured out how long the music clip needed to be based on times from Moviemaker and clipped the music as needed on Audacity. After saving the Audacity project and making an mp3, you can import it to Moviemaker and if everything went well it will more or less fit where you need it.

The majority of my time was spent on trial and error. This being my first time using the three programs, I was pretty happy with all the options and results. There were some frustrations but the majority of them were resolved eventually. I still have no idea why Photostory won't let me open saved projects. Any ideas?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Short Film and Commercials

Congratulations to Mr. Anthony Perotta and students at St. Basil’s the Great College School!

It was an evening of showcasing the digital work the students created at Yorkdale Silvercity. It was encouraging to see how creative students can be if given the opportunity to express themselves in a manner other than in written form. Students love technology, so why not encourage them to use it to benefit them in education as well? They communicated much more readily than they would have if asked to do so in a format other than this form of media. The commercials and documentaries allowed for their talents to be exhibited. There was no shortage of ideas.

This definitely was a cross curricular activity. Areas such as Social Skills, reading, writing, filming, editing…to name a few, are worked upon in making these films and commercials. Most importantly, characteristics such as perseverance, determination and patience were apparent. What a sense of accomplishment! A job well done.


Bitstrips and Power4Bones

–Home school connection--

As teachers we need to create lessons that keep students interested. In September, I registered my class for 2 programs called Power4Bones and Bitstrips.

Power4Bones is a free program that teaches grade 5 children about bone health. This program uses a variety of activities. There are Web-based challenges, educational comics, coded secret messages, classroom announcements, and a public service announcement activity.

This program is not independent from classroom lesson. It does involve some directed teaching prior to launching each activity challenge that is online. Ideally this activity takes approximately 8 weeks to complete. Which is about 45 minutes in class lesson per week and the web challenges are complete at home. The students told me that they had a blast…..

Bitstrips is a site where students make and create comics. As many of you will know, you assign specific tasks for students to complete and then you allow them the independence to create their own comics.

They really enjoy creating their comics. I found that students who usually do not enjoy “homework” are actually writing and creating with Bitstrips.

Both sites are safe, educational but most importantly fun.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Online Learning and Professional Growth.

As I read through the last article regarding Web 2.0 and common terminology, I realized that as more software becomes available to the general public and teachers alike, some words just don’t seem too common to me just yet! I stumbled upon the word MOODLE and I decided to figure out what it was and how I could use this software. It turns out that it is probably the interface I was looking for to create my course page! The terminology for everything associated with MOODLE is still quite new to me; however, what I realize is that many online courses offered through universities and high schools are delivering their program content with the aide of such interfaces (which allow for images, videos, chats, forums, etc to be combined all on one page). Interesting enough, all in the same day, I received notice of acceptance to an online course using D2L (Desire 2 Learn) interface which I also read about while researching MOODLE. I hope to learn something about how this interface works while trying to survive an online course for the first time in my life. Technology is great, but for those of us who are accustom to attending class in person, these online courses seem terrifying! As I reflect on our last class creating our blogs, I realize that somehow, once I manage to decode all this terminology and adapt it to my everyday lesson planning, all this temporary techno chaos of terminology and software will translate into a priceless, professional growth experience for me as a teacher.


Home-School Connection

For this assignment I have been preparing a blog for one of the courses I teach.

The idea is to create a “semi” interactive course profile for the student to access from home, or, as with many high school students, as they are away from school on long school trips, functions or take two months off to visit with family.

I have created a Professional Blog for the Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology course, entitled HSP. For now this is the only internet based program I can manage as I am new to blogs and wikis. My aim, after last class working with Mario Adessa is to learn to use an interface such Moodle, or D2L or somehow find a way to create a page with space for multimedia posts created by my students and accessible to them on Learn 360.

My idea is to create a page containing each of the 4 units for this course. I have created a Photo Story presentation for the introduction of the course which is posted for my students to view. I have also listed the course units on the left hand side.

I would like to post at least the major assignments under each unit for my students and if there are any multimedia assignments, or podcasts created by the students per unit, my goal would be to post them under each unit with a follow up activity for the students. Currently there is only an embedded Youtube Video in the Sociology section that dealt with youth attitudes to their view of what society will be like in their future.

At the moment, I have been able to create a seminar outline and topic schedule in PDF format for the sociology multimedia seminar presentations my students are creating this year. (I did not know how to switch my word documents to PDF as of 2 days ago, and now I learned how to change the format using free software (Adobe and docstoc) to create a URL for the PDF document to attach or embed in my blog!) Somehow I will try to find a way to post their seminars without using too much space on the blog.

Hopefully there will be a nicer and neater way to create such a site. The link to my blog is . I am not excited about seeing so much writing with every post and link; however, I guess that is the format of the blog.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

How Flat is Your Classroom?

William Ferriter's article "How Flat is Your Classroom?" documents the journey of two high-school teachers joining together to build relationships with their students who happen to live on different continents. Vicki Davis, a high-school teacher in Georgia and Julie Lindsay, a high-school teacher in Bangladesh, teamed up together using digital technology to form an online learning environment that fostered international collaboration. As the article points out very succinctly, it was their goal that "their students would not just walk away with a better understanding of tomorrow's workplace – they'd walk away with a better understanding of one another." This proved to be a very powerful experience for both sets of students. It enabled the students to meet (through digital video) and interact with (through online discussion boards, video conferences, instant messages and e-mails) students from across the world. This under normal circumstances would definitely not have occurred. Both sets of students had the opportunity to learn about their peers in the opposite country and form opinions based on information they gathered instead of simply resorting to information they might have been able to gather via various media outlets. As you can imagine, the project was a great success and has expanded to help other classroom teachers create global exchanges that benefit students in similar ways.

One of the learning environments that the article suggests visiting is ePals. I took a brief look at this website and was very intrigued. It offers learners and teachers in 200 countries the opportunity to interact with one another. Not only would such an experience teach students to connect and communicate with students of other cultures, it provides students and teachers alike with a safe learning environment as well as the opportunity to engage and learn from individuals that may be as close as a neighboring city or as far as on another continent. I definitely plan to look more into ePals in the future. It seems like a very worthwhile opportunity for teachers and students and I look forward to one day implementing it within a classroom of my own.


How Technology is Changing School

Curtis Bonk's article "How Technology is Changing School" offers readers concrete proof that the digital age is upon us. Throughout the article, Bonk explains that technology related to school program delivery once reserved to deal with catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, or health emergencies such as SARS or the H1N1 virus are being used to service students all over the globe. As time passes, more and more students and teachers alike are choosing to take their courses online in order complete their required course work. This allows students who live in rural areas who may have limited access to programs of their choice to pursue their interests and graduate with a degree that only a few years earlier probably would not have been made available to them.

I am a strong proponent of the online learning forum. Throughout my university career I worked full-time and found it increasing difficult to manage work and school. Unfortunately online learning was not an option for me at the time, so therefore I was forced to juggle work and school. Upon the completion of my teaching degree I decided to try online learning for the first time. I took an online AQ course through the Faculty of Education at Queen's University and I was hooked. I was able to study at my own pace, meet my colleagues for online discussions of course materials, and submit assignments without ever having to leave the comfort of my home. For the first time in my life I didn't have to worry about juggling full-time employment commitments and in-class commitments. Since this time I have had the opportunity to take many more online courses which I have really enjoyed.

I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to learn online and definitely feel that more programs to facilitate this in the elementary and secondary spectrum should be made readily available to students. Online learning forums are not only for musicians, dancers and professional athletes; they are for those interested in learning and growing intellectually in a flexible environment that suits their learning needs.


TCDSB AICT “Tech” In-service

The in-service that I attended for this component of the course was on the topic of differentiated instruction through the use of technology. I found it to be a great wrap up and review of many of the topics (i.e. Smart Board, Premier, digital storytelling, etc) we have studied throughout our course. Many of the tools discussed are fairly simple to use and already available to us through the TCDSB. The only things missing involve supportive administration as well as a teacher who is open-minded and willing to learn how to incorporate new technology into his/her teaching. All of the tools and teaching strategies discussed are relevant to the needs of students in today's classrooms. The aspect of the presentation that I enjoyed the most was the discussion of various differentiated instruction tools. These included virtual field trip websites; project based learning, simulations, online pen pals and web quests. Having discussed most of these in our course, we had the chance to interact with them within a classroom setting, and the value of each tool became all the more evident. I was particularly interested in the online pen pal program and had the opportunity to research it and get more feedback from colleagues that had used something similar in the past. I would highly recommend this in-service to other teachers interested in learning more about integrating technology into their classrooms. Although the amount of information presented throughout the day is a lot, it is just the tip of the iceberg. That being said those topics that are of interest can be further researched and later hopefully implemented into one's classroom teaching.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Response to AICT conference

I enjoyed the AICT conference and thought that the keynote speaker had a lot of neat ideas and links to show off. Yet, as I sat there, I was struck by how technology, which was supposed to be the great leveller in education, making the ‘whole virtual world’ available to all students, has in fact only driven a greater wedge between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

Access to technology and its various tools comes down to the will of the principal to spend money on it; the parent community who will vocally as well as financially support its use in the school, and the teacher who is willing to try it out. Absent of one of these three conditions, and students don’t have as much of a chance. Why is it that in some of our schools student laptop use in a wireless setting is the norm, while other students, particularly those in portables, are stuck with a stand alone computer with no network connection that hasn’t been updated in who knows how long? Is this fair?

As we finish the monthly focus on the virtue of Justice, maybe we ought to look at our own school system and ask where matters of justice are not being met.


I couldn't agree with you more, Lou. From where I'm now sitting, I see the injustice and the inequities that exist. Our students have neither justice nor equity and it's a shame! Your points are soooo true! Maybe time will fix this, but I'm not so sure.