I hope using a cool tool is acceptable for the project, I started in Word and got bogged down in the blandness. I'm never going to want to write a regular paper or lesson again!

Cool Tool Reflection and Action Plan

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Cool Tools Review

A couple of weeks ago, a fellow graduate student posted a video on my Facebook that erupted in debate. Some of my education friends thought the video was revolutionary and an inciting innovation for the world of education. Others stated that the video would fail for students would need more personalized assistance, and argued that this type of transformation would be difficult to put into action. The video that sparked such a discussion and sometimes even passionate reaction in those involved was TED Talk’s recording of Khan’s presentation of “Flip that Classroom.”
Since the video was catered to Science and Math subjects, I wondered how Khan’s concepts could be brought into the English classroom. It was not until the New Literacies Institute’s Cool Tools seminar that I began to truly reflect upon flipping my own classroom. The speaker, Ian O'Byrne, explained how with the use of screen capture programs, teachers could give students tutorials in different websites before they are used in the classroom. This would save class time, for students should have come with basic knowledge of the Web 2.0 tool they would be using in class. I have always been a big advocate of project-based inquiry and the use of technology in schools. The problem I continually ran into is the loss of valuable class time in teaching struggling students how to use the different websites. I would lose my technologically advanced students to daydreams while sometimes struggling to teach IEP students, or students with little experience with computers and the internet. I was excited to be taught an alternative method during this Cool Tools session. I love that students can learn at their own pace, and visually follow every step of the website’s features along with me. Students can even practice making the website at home and playing around with different editing and design features before they are focused on the material. This takes part of the pressure off of students, for they will not have to worry about learning the material and a web tool, for they will already have experience with the latter. I will have to practice with screen capture sites, but I feel that building these tutorials will be very beneficial to saving class time.
I also thought about the classroom flipping concept, and how the English subject has been using this concept for centuries in terms of reading homwork. Students have always been assigned reading from a novel or text to read to prepare for activities at the school the next day. Thus, students were learning new material at home at their own pace, and diving deeper into the material in class discussions, projects, and activities. All I needed to do was spread this format into more areas of my lesson planning, such as though web tool tutorials as exemplified by O'Byrne, lessons in the basics of literary devices, online reviews of old materials before diving into sometihng more complicated or before tests and quizzes; the possibilites are endless.

Transitioning from ''Flipping the Classroom'' was made smooth when the speaker, Jill Castek, used computer screen sharing tvia Skype to teach us about Google Tools. Though this was a live session, it was like seeing a Screen Capture lesson in action.
I was really interested in this session for I never realized the variety of free web tools offered by Google. I have been using delicious.com for a while to set up websites for student research projects, but I love Google Custom Search now. The gadget was incredibly easy to use and embed into a website. I can see how students would like this tool more than delicious as well for it sorts through the different websites for them. I would love to look into building project-based inquiry lessons for students around this device, with a webpage built for the project. This is a great replacement for delicious.com in the design of research projects. I also tried out making my own Google Site and loved the layout feature for classroom websites. I wish it had a little less pre-designed features, but I understand how a working teacher would appreciate a shortcut in the designing process. I have used ClassJump.com in the past, but Google Sites has more features, such as allowing you to add and create gadgets. This could be used in a variety of ways in the classroom, from a class website, to project assignments, to a homepage to house online tutorials built with screen capture tools.

Prezi is currently the ultimate presentation tool, overtaking Powerpoint with ease. When I first heard of Prezi, my good education friend kept complaining about how time-consuming the device is, and how Powerpoint is a time saver essential to teachers. Now that I have experienced Prezi, both as a student and as a teacher, I strongly disagree. Prezi's unique delineated design features are just the start of all the insteasting capabilities. In short, it far outshines PowerPoint. Though I do agree that Prezi takes a degree more of creativity, and technology experience, I found that it took no longer to put together than a Powerpoint and looks infinitely more interesting. I feel that Prezi will really interest students watching the presentation as well as excite them when they make their own. Users are given such a broad allowance of power and control, who doesn't love that?
I can see myself using Prezi when teaching material or assigning a new project. More likely than not, my students will be assigned presenations with Prezi. One thing I noticed about many of the Cool Tools we have been learning about is the fact that many of the programs take public speaking out of the project. I feel that this is still an essential skill students should learn. Prezi can be used as a guide or aid through a student presentation, instead of the whole of the presentation itself. Therefore students will be merging 21st century technology skills and public speaking skills that will always be essential for future student success.

Of all the Cool Tools sessions, I was really intrigued when I saw WII on the list. I had never thought of using Video Games as actual learning programs. I remember teachers using certain programs that taught basics when there was extra time at the end of class, but I never concidered the educational possibilites for a game system such as WII. I loved studying gaming programs from a different perspective; looking for possible valuable qualities in the way children and adolescents navigate and interact with video games.
The first thing that stuck out to me while watching our speaker, Angela Wiseman's, young children play with the Wii Lego: Indiana Jones game, was the fact that there are very few spoken words in video games, and those that are tend to be giberish. Thus, users have to either read a text or visually analyze the action to understand what is going on in the video game. I wonder if this could be used as a reading program for students who get fustrated easily with reading, or simply do not want to learn. If a video game was designed around a story with breaks between adventuring to read what they just experienced, more so than is typically designed for leisure, I feel that this could be benefical for literacy.
Another concept I found interesting while watching the users was the fact that they never once look into instruction manuals to see how they should complete the level. My younger brother has never once opened one. Instead, the user has to find their way through levels by trial and error. We discussed at the end of the session how this was radically different from the school grade enviornment where students strove to succeed the first time to earn a good grade. In contrast, video games allow users to experiement and explore without stress of failure. If something goes wrong, the user simply has to try again. I much prefer this type of free mode of assessment in comparison to high stakes testing. It makes me wonder if there was a way to give students rounds of tests in quizzes in which they can retake without penalty. Instead, rewards can be given for success in the first try. I know this would take a fair degree of organization and time preparation on the part of the teacher, but I like the idea of giving students an enviornment in which they can try without pressure.
As for the Wii I feel it will be a substancial amount of time before gaming systems will be completely acceptable in classrooms, if ever. I do recognize, however, that there are valuable skills learned in video games; makes many students' addiction to them seem more productive. In the classroom, I would use it most likely as a language learning and literacy device.


Students will be assigned homework in a flipped classroom format in which they learn the basics of the website Prezi and Google Sites before being assigned a project that will utilize this device on the next day. The video would have been designed by using Screen Image Capture Technology. In the video, I would go through a basic tutorial of major features of the site as well as dive deeper at the end into design possibilities. Students then can learn at their own pace without pressure. For the students who are more experienced, I hope the end of the video will show them the more complex features of Prezi and Google Sites. I would also encourage students to play with the website after watching the video so that they ensure their understanding the next day. I like the idea of allowing students time to learn the different Web 2.0 tools for homework so that the less tech savvy students will not feel overwhelmed at the assignment of the project. This way, they can focus on the material and creation process during class time.

Day 1: This project is formed as a pre-reading activity for the novel The Great Gatsby. Students will be put in groups of two or three to complete the project. With a PBI format in mind, student groups will be required to create a question to answer pertaining to 1920's America. The question will have to be approved by the teacher.
They will then research their subject. Students will be required to show their work at the end of each day to prove their progression through the project. FIVE legitimate sources will be required, wikis, blogs, and non-scholarly articles will not be accepted.
Day 2-3: Students will then use Prezi to create a presentation of their information. Prezi will allow students to create a delineated presentation to give to the class. In addition to the Prezi, students will be required to make a website of their information using Google Sites and attach it to the class wiki. They can get creative with the designing and naming of their website. This is to be used as a reference for students while reading the novel The Great Gatsby.

Thus, in a single project, my students and I would have utilized: Screen Capture, Classroom Flipping, Prezi, and Google Sites!!

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