Monday, May 19, 2014

Tis the Season For Google Hangouts....End Of Year Assessment Time

At this time of year as the school year draws to a close both at the High School I work at and the Community College I teach at I like to close with something new for the students. This semester I chose to use the collaborative Google Hangout for sharing of course materials,a good laugh at us on a web cam and also a new fluency in technology use and assessment. The sharing of these experiences online is beneficial from a variety of perspectives for both the students and myself.

For a long time I have found video to be a great way to share what a person learns and also how they learn. Google hangouts provide the perfect opportunity to get up to 10 students(others can watch) for a web based video collaboration which has enabled chat features and screen sharing capabilities.

For the final of my PHP programming course at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown,Massachusetts I asked students to go online and participate in the hangout and share their collective work for the semester. This was a small class so the format worked perfectly. Students received notification from me on their Google + page to join the hangout and shared their web pages from their chosen server and we also we able to discuss the approach we decided on for our group final project.

This students in this class really responded well to the hangout format and were anxious to share with the technology. When audio issues arrived we were able to utilize the built in messaging service inside the Hangout. This can help communicate between all participants.

I chose to do a hangout on air in which the video is live streamed to the internet and saved to Youtube. This is great for revisiting if you need at a later time.

I found Hangouts relatively easy to use except when some students I sent invites to did not receive the notice in their Google accounts. This can be a little annoying for inviting the members but usually a couple resends solves the problem. I have included the video from my PHP class if your interested in seeing one go down but it is much more fun to have your own!

In the Andover Innovation Lab which is a course at Andover High School for Independent Technology projects students have Google Hangouts as part of their final assessment. I ask that students present and their self driven projects and describe their experiences creating them. I want students to reveal their process and goals as well as the resources they used to get their product. In the video I embedded below, the student created an application using the iOS development tool Xcode and has described his experiences.

Overall the tool is powerful at creating collaboration and sharing with technology. It does take some time to get used to but in the end it can be a powerful web based assessment tool. Its great to be able to ask students to present in this way. It makes them think about their presentation in a real world construct.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

CIT 110 Spring Last Class Reflection

After a semester which began with missing 3 classes on Wednesday nights due to snow cancellations I had the mixed feelings of relief and also happiness to see my students in the CIT 110 course successfully navigate through the curriculum which includes the introduction to computer concepts,hardware,basic networking,web literacy with Internet Explorer and the Microsoft Office Suite of Word,Powerpoint,Access and Excel. Students are taught using the Pearson MyITLab web based software which enables students access to their learning materials in and out of the classroom. 

Students in this class responded well to the platform and could easily navigate their way through the course content. As an instructor it is a rewarding experience to sit with students and assist them at answering their questions about each software suite and also encouraging them to move through each module. I enjoy teaching this course because of the direct employability skills in the course and the ability to help students better understand the basic operations of computers and make connections to 
the navigation of the web,creating documents in a variety of formats and becoming more fluent with technology in general. 

The best part of teaching at Bunker Hill Community College  is  connecting with the diverse student body and variety needs that the school supports with its offerings in technology and beyond. Bunker Hill's Charlestown Campus is a real heart of learning and career opportunity in the city of Boston and my small role in it has been very enriching. Most of the students I have come in contact with are ready to take the next up in a career and have a great desire to learn what their next steps are and how to prepare. Each student reminds me that the greatest value a teacher can provide is to help others move forward by engaging students and developing them into lifelong learners. 

Helping students present what they have learned is a great experience. When I look back on my career I think my time teaching at BHCC will be one of the most rewarding experience that a I could have. I have a busy schedule recently where it is easy to get distracted but it is often engaging with students who are just getting back into learning that is the most rewarding parts of a busy day. 

I have a sense of real purpose showing them what I know and helping them succeed. I think this is what is missing when you take yourself too seriously, you miss the simple joys in teaching. 
There is a buzz you can get from helping others succeed when you focus on the needs of others. It also makes it easier to recognize the opportunities you have had in your life. I feel connected to these students in my own way and I have I have been with where they are. I  think we all face issues as undergraduates at some point and now I can recognize now the importance of lifelong learning in my own success. It is great experience to shake hands and tell students they did a great job on their way back out to life. I hope I did a little part in helping them frame their are next steps. It also helps me  understand that they're always needs to be a set of next steps and that is what learning is all about.

Instructional Technology Update Andover High School Week Of March 31st-April 4th Google Groups & Forms

This week was a great week of working with teachers implementing a range of Google tools for collaborating with students and collecting responses.

The first teacher I worked with was Adriana Gonzalez. I have worked with Adriana on a range of projects during the school year which  integrated technology in her Spanish classroom. In this session we created some Google Forms which will be quizzes she can use across her classes and decrease the amount of time she will need to grade her traditionally assigned quizzes by doing them online. We worked together to create the forms and make simple reusable links to share easily and edit the quizzes for each class.  It took us only about 2 short half hour sessions to get her up and running with her quizzes and she will definitely be saving time in the assessment process moving forward. Each time we work together we are able to make her classroom more web based and easier to access online materials.

Social Studies teacher Lauren Ream was looking for a way to easily have students comment in a web based thread on specific subjects in her Western Civilization course. Lauren and I have already been working on a blog and adding more web based resources to add to her ability to share with her students more easily.

In just a short 1 hour period I was able to work with Lauren and her students to provide them access to creating a Google Group. Access for students was made more easily since students had provided their emails at an earlier time and they could easily be sent the invite. The benefits of creating a Google Group are that you can keep an exclusive or open group in which you can add comments to student posts or post discussion topics. Students add to the topics and create a stream of activity. The group can also be shared with a simple link. Emails can also be sent directly to the group as well.

Mrs. Ream used the Group to enable students to comment on specific classroom topics and to share perspectives. The link form the conversations can also be added to her current blog for revisiting at a later time.

I think from an integration standpoint Google Groups are a great place to start using a web based tool as you can commit to it on any level within your classroom. You can use it for just one assignment or use it for an entire course. Additionally those who are in the group are notified when a post or comment is made in the group. I feel as though this adds the element of being connected to the classroom.

This week I was also able to continue working with Art teacher Teresa Consentino on the development of her blog for her Art Foundations course. This week we worked at getting her older lessons created into PDF form on the scanner and adding the to her Blogger Blog. Creating her blog has been a process of selecting the most important lessons and what will work best being put online. With art it is also a challenge to choose art pieces which reflect a high quality of work and those which show the concrete concepts. We are working to develop her unit on 2 and 3 Dimensional Perspective Drawing. This process has been rewarding as it is a real model of transforming exciting art concepts into web based lessons and easy to navigate links.

On Thursday I had the opportunity to be a Judge at the West Middle School Science Fair. This was a great experience as I got to meet the students and find out more about their projects and what drove their scientific investigation. I spoke with students who did projects related to insulation efficiency,beach erosion and even the strength of spider webs.

I think a great component built into this fair was the integration of the "Green" projects. This really helped students choose to look into environmental issues in their science project and try to solve them. As an Instructional Technology Specialist it was great to visit and view the perspective of the students and their technology,engineering and science integration into their projects.

Friday, May 9, 2014

“Lead With Your Strengths" Program: Mobilizing Students As Leaders At Andover High School

In the Andover High School library today the first meeting of students dedicated to developing their leadership skills met to
begin the vision of Candace Hall the Director Of Human Resources for the Town of Andover. Candace has for a long time wanted to see a dialogue opened between students and community about the issues related to race,ethnicity,diversity and multiculturalism. Candace expressed that the “Lead With Your Strengths “ program has been a long term goal of hers "to see the goal of Martin Luther King fulfilled”.

Students met from 8 am till 11:30 on their half day of school to participate in the program implemented by Dr. Luz Valverde Assistant Principal at the high school, Aixa de Kelley Director Of Guidance and  Dr.Jorge Allen Program Advisor for the World Languages Department. Assiting Dr. Allen and Dr. Valverde was Roberta Hantgan a Fellow from Merrimack College and Digtial Learning Specialist Daniel Downs, Ed.D.

The program included having students complete web based “Surveys Of Character” which helped them self assess their leadership skills,elements of character and reflect on how they can become leaders in their school and beyond. Students engaged in meaningful discussions on expressing their strengths and shared visions for how this program could evolve. All students shared their self-knowledge on a blog dedicated to the cultivation of their ideas and personal perspectives related to their skills and experiences with leadership. 

The blog was implemented to digitally capture student reflections and carry the experiences from this meeting to future participation.

The students had a keynote address from community leader  Pavel Payano who spoke to the students about the importance of setting goals and how to create change in your community by taking a leadership role. Mr.Payano described his experiences working with Student Activities at the University Of Massachusetts in Amherst. Mr. Payano described his experiences using the skills working in his college environment to creating change in his hometown community.

This program has developed out of a vision as part of the “One Andover” project and hopes to create new opportunities for students to develop themselves and become mentors in school and the greater community. The program will also bring awareness to the diversity of culture within the community and present opportunities for student ambassadors to connect with town leadership.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Instructional Technology Update March 24th-28th 2014 Andover High School Andover, Ma Daniel Downs

On Monday of this week I was able to speak with the English Department about the acquisition of District Google Accounts for their department. Their adoption of these tools will enable them to embrace the collaborative tools like shared documents,spreadsheets,forms and drawing tools. Several of the teachers are already using Google to do collaborative work with Google Documents and also using the Drive feature to back up existing documents.

On Wednesday I worked with Jorge Allen on the development of the website for the distrcit world languages department. We decided to go with the blogger platform so that district links and releases could be shared easilly and to improve department communication. Jorge has been collecting resources to share out through this platform.
Here is the link to check it out!!!!

On Thursday I had the opportunity to visit the UTeach Program at UMass Lowell with the TSTT(Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers) students from Andover High School. During this day students met with the UTeach Programs Director about how the program at UMass Lowell helps prepare students for teaching in a variety of classrooms and also the licensing needs of teachers in Massachusetts.

This was a great opportunity to visit the UMass Lowell Campus and become acquainted with this great program which really helps assist students who want to become teachers learn not only what skills they will need in the classroom but also what licensure requirements will be necessary.