Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seat of the pants technology class

Background (July, 8, 2010)
In the previous class we watched video on food from Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservation on the Travel Channel. I selected the episode that had to do with Chile and we discussed as a class the different foods from our countries and how they are tied to our culture. We got half way through this lesson and did not get to the information gap exercise and writing revision tasks that I had planned.

For this class, however, I had planned for us to make a field trip to a non-profit organization to talk with them on the different issues. My vague plan was to have us visit the aquarium so we could talk about the effects of the oil spill in the gulf, however, after calling them I found that there was nobody who could talk to us and I had to cancel the field trip because I hadn't made other arrangements in time. So instead, we went to the Digital Media Commons for our class in order for the students to receive training in some technology that would help them build their final project. I experienced several problems in that I wasn't fully prepared to model the technology iMovie, so I asked Mike Garnett, to step in and help me with a lesson that he had developed in his own class. The second problem is that I had trouble managing the classroom and getting students to work in groups.

I began planning this class the night before, and I developed full lesson plan, but now after reviewing my lesson plan, I noticed that I failed to put in the necessary time to make a comprehensive lesson plan and goals, and I had merely listed the different points that I wanted to cover in the lesson: brainstorming different tools using as a class, taking a tour of audacity and flickr, and then letting Mike make his iMovie presentation.

However, the actual class progressed much different from my outline. First, I walked with the students over to the DMC and met Mike along the way. We went up to the main commons room and then took a quick survey of the students who had Macs and PC. We then loaded the page on the main computer screen the students could log in and begin the first task. The link to the page is written below. I gave a short introduction to how to think of technology in terms of situation, challenge, and tool, which I and Sarah Springer had used in the CALL 500 weekend workshop and in the CALL Curriculum Design class. In the pad, I gave the students three different situations in which to think of a tool that might help. For example:

Situation 1: You are at a business meeting you need to present information on a new product with data and graphs.

Challenge: You have to find tools that can build graphs and charts. You have to deliver the presentation in person.

PowerPoint (Trang) (Trang) ccartoon,cartoon,cartoon,cartoon,cartoon, annie annie annie annie annie
Powerpoint as well, yes, you are right, PJ! Nataliya.
Photo Stories, Matias
Prezi (like powerpoint)

In pairs or as individuals, the students wrote names of tools or they attempted to describe the materials or tools needed for different situations, E.g., "photos form the Internet." Some of the students didn't list tools at all and just watched while some students listed actually tools for each situation.

The brainstorming task lasted for approximately 15 minutes as we had to repeat instructions or help students log onto the page and then wait for them to list different tools. So, I decided to ask Mike to make his iMovie presentation first and to skip the audacity and the flickr presentations until later because I realized that it would take us much longer to work on iMovie than anticipated. We first grouped students into pairs for students who had PC, but after we decided to put the students on the DMC Macs. After everyone was logged on and had iMovie open, Mike passed out a handout that explained the basics. Mike began to introduce the iMovie while the students followed along on their computers. He then gave the students a task of importing pictures and copying background music to the iMovie project folder. We then assisted students individually to help them set up the iMovie files and import their files. This took approximately 35 minutes. Then I asked Mike to show the students how video was imported. Mike then showed the class how to import and edit video and audio.

I wrapped up the class by handing out the final project description and requirements hand out. I read the description of the final presentation, the step by step process for completing the presentation, grading guide, and the checklist. After some student questions, we adjourned for the day.

The problems with the tasks and the classroom management, I think, began with the lack of preparation. I'm beginning to realize how difficult it is to plan a content rich class that incorporates technology, peer editing, and class projects threads into one class. I began the class preparation the night before but only completed the final project presentation paper and didn't have time to get to the computer lab to create a model for the iMovie, Audacity, or Flickr. Plus, as I said before, my lesson plan consisted of a list of things that I wanted to accomplish but lacked a list of goals and completed materials for the class. Without the help of Mike, I wonder what I would have done in the class with iMovie. Also, I think that brainstorming, I'm learning, requires physical objects that can be moved, removed, or added. In the previous CALL sessions, we began the brainstorming with large blank pieces of paper and post-it notes. We could write, edit, and manipulate the post its together, and it was easy for the students to see the structure of the exercise. I'm slowly moving away from having as a class sharing tool even though it is a powerful tool and really fun to use.

Also, students notice and respond to disorganization. If the students see teachers struggling to set up a computer program, or if the teacher has divided attention between what they are trying to teach and the technology that they are trying to deliver the content with, then students respond by not taking the lesson seriously or tuning out. This problem can create serious damage to our reputation as competent teachers.

Finally, I'd like to mention that focused goals help keep not only the students on target, but they also help keep our teaching efforts on target by targeting our teaching energy into the most important aspects of the lesson. Even though I hadn't written out my goals in my lesson plan for this day, it didn't take me long to realize that the most important thing my students needed was some time-on-task with the iMovie learning environment, and that, in order for them to maximize their time in the class, they had to accomplish several tasks that Mike was asking them to perform. If I had thought about the days' lessons in tasks and then written them out, I would have noticed that a more targeted class with task-based instruction and assessment would be ideal in checking students' progress and learning experience.

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