Sunday, February 26, 2017

Info-graphic Reflection

I believe the best way to use student-created inforgraphics would be as a formative assessment. Most of these infographics take research, designing, and special formatting, to be done properly; my students have access to online tools and many other programs, so I know they have the potential to so some amazing work. We need some more projects in our curriculum centered around research and student creativity. In an English class, to often the assessments center around writing and long papers. Infographics could be a great alternative to those mundane assignments.

I would weight an infographic project much higher than an Exit Ticket, homework assignment or quiz. Personally, I find the researching portion of formulating infographics to be the most appealing because it's a process that takes trail and error; the children will be learning as they're exploring. Again, I also find the visual/artistic aspect refreshing; it's not enough to simply read data, the power of an image or visual piece is phenomenal as it represents a strong message. Overall, infographics serves many purposes, and if I assign an inforgraphic assignment, I know my students would be utilizing multiple skills to achieve a successful project all at once.

                                                                  Example Infographic

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Online Presentation Reflection

This week by far has been my favorite. I had so much fun creating my Thinglink and Spark Video. I always wanted to use Thinglink since I learned about the tool this summer, but I never set time aside to actually create a project myself to see how this tool could work for my students. I decided to choose the Unit 2 Descriptive Writing assignment I assign my students during the Romantic period unit for this particular project, and it turned out great. I choose the beach as my initial image and picked the time I went to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic as my topic. I was able to tag a video of the resort, an image of Romantic writer Henry D. Thoreau, and even include a video on sensation and perception to show the connection between our senses and descriptive language. 

The Spark Video was quite enjoyable as well. I’ve done something similar with VoiceThread before, but I found Adobe Spark Video’s record and upload features so much easier to use; the simplicity was very nice. My greatest challenge was finding CC licensed and/or Discovery Education images that coincided with my topic, but I think I did pretty well. When I watched the final preview of my video, I was very happy. I’m looking forward to using this video as a introduction to my students upcoming research paper due in March. 

I would definitely use both tools in my virtual room for my students. For Thinglink, I wanted to choose a boring portfolio we have the English 11th graders do every year, and that was the Descriptive Essay. We always tell the students to choose a picture (preferably one they took), embed in into a Word Document, and then to use descriptive language to describe the image and the story behind the picture; it always turns out odd due to the image being out of place in the Word Document. To me, this portfolio could always be much more, and Thinglink would allow my students that needed freedom. They could tag other pictures from their trip or experience, include videos pertaining to the picture or topic of descriptive language, and even tag media that focuses on the Romantic period if they wanted to make that overall connection. As for the Spark Video, I don’t think our students have ever submitted a project where they create a video or do a voice recording; since my students aren’t obligated to speak during LiveLessons, I rarely hear their voices. Adobe Spark Video can provide those opportunities and much more in the areas of presentation. 

I always tell my students I envy their advantages surrounding online schooling since they have access to a computer, printer/scanner, and internet 24/7; our school also grants them free accounts to Discovery Education, EBSCO Host, and other programs for reading and arithmetic. Another advantage of CCA is the individualized learning experience put in place, so though each student have a daily planner and lessons to complete, it’s done at their own pace. Portfolio assignments, depending on the teacher, have its own deadlines/policies, but most teachers understand they take time to complete. These tools used in the form of a portfolio assignment would be treated just the same. As far as assessment practices, I can see both tools in the form of formative and summative assessments; both a Thinglink and Spark Video project could easily measure a student’s ongoing progress on a concept, or their overall level of achievement at the end of a semester. It all depends on the topic of choice and task. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Active Learning

Since my student teaching days, I've always been a strong advocate for active learning. Active learning encompasses a learning environment where students are critically thinking about their tasks as they're completing them in the classroom; students are vocal, often instructors themselves, and are engaged. Once I've seen active learners in the classroom for myself and how they orchestrated everything, I became convinced every environment should gift students a platform where they can take charge of their educational journey. Active learning is very student centered. The teacher-student relationship is a partnership requiring full participation from both parties in order to ensure success.

Nonetheless, I do face an enormous challenge. I'm a virtual teacher for Commonwealth Charter Academy, and there, students are not mandated to attend LiveLessons. This point makes planning for activities or assigning students with specific roles rather difficult because they're not dependable; every day is a surprise for me because I have no idea who will show up for class, even my students who attend regularly.
Now, I'm constantly open to new ideas to get around my situation, and thankfully I found Web 2.0 tools to be extremely rewarding. Tools and applications like Google Docs, NearPod, and grant my students so much flexibility since they can access these tools/apps from anywhere. It allows them the opportunity to lead instruction, collaborate with others, and be vocal in their learning environment.

Works Cited

Coramax.(2013, December, 20). Active learning, universal design for learning (udl) in collaboration with technology [digital image]. Retrieved from