My First Game – Island Adventure 1

Embedded my Sploder game into a web page so I could include it here. WordPress was not being cooperative.

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Live Lesson Reflection

Please view live lesson here.

Concept:

The unit involves employing vocal tools that make human speech interesting. This centers on the previous Asynchronous Lesson of creating a Speech to Persuade. After the first week of working on the lesson and creating their rough drafts, we would have a collaborative online chat. At this point, I would seek to get them to articulate what they hoped to gain from learning how to deliver a Speech to Persuade. This would flow naturally toward learning/validating what they know about the 5 Essential Vocal Tools. Adobe Connect would permit me to assess via poll if they completed their rough draft and make most of their selections as we implement the 5 Tools.

Execution:

Life hits all of us hard sometimes. My student lost her mother December 6, 2013. My 99-year-old father is having oxygen saturation issues and is in Urgent Care out of state. My wife and I returned from a family trip, only to have Noel (my student) let me know a very narrow window she could offer to accommodate my lesson. I was only in my house less than fifteen minutes and I needed to be online to be ready to host. I did not set myself up for success.

Each time my practice partner and I worked together, polls stayed in a “built” mode and I did not recall having to rebuild them. Also, I did not remember reloading a previous draft of my PowerPoint, but I must have done that. I did not use my checklist because I assumed I remembered all of it.

I uploaded a Screenshot of a practice screen of Adobe Connect so I could use the pointer and my cursor to guide both Mary and Noel how to activate their microphone and their video camera. We explored a few of the features, as I wanted Noel to see the value of the tools.

Moments before we started on the lesson, I discovered all my polls were gone and the old version of my PPT was loaded. Once I loaded the proper version, I inadvertently hit a button I had not used before. It changed my layout and I could not get back to the screen I needed to use for a short time. I know it was short but it felt like an eternity.

I gave the lesson in fast forward, getting brief responses from Mary and Noel as we moved through. My goal was to achieve the 15-minute delivery time Dr. Rice specified during our online class chat. I discussed with Noel the culminating activity and how that could work. We did not do all the things I would have done in the lesson.

This was the first time I had heard Noel’s voice in almost 25 years. I wanted to make a better impression. Yes, I wanted to accommodate her needs and my own; but I should have made it a different time. I should have used the checklist. I am still proud of the lesson and that I did it. I got a small taste of how this would have felt if I had a larger number of students.

Partner Practice Synchronous Lesson

Having made the decision to extend my Asynchronous Lesson on a Speech to Persuade for this next unit, I needed to refine my focus. As I see it, the hardest part of teaching online will be helping students in a performance area. This influenced my choice to work with students on employing the 5 Essential Vocal Tools and giving them examples to share aloud with each other. This would give other students the chance to offer feedback to their cohorts and we could model how we give that feedback.

My partner and I picked each other fairly early. We both respect each other’s work and this offered a chance for us to collaborate. I will admit, Jim’s desire to work in Adobe Connect both excited and scared me at the same time. I was pretty nervous about raising the stakes. Jim offered to go first, having used Adobe Presenter for his Asynchronous Lesson and he felt he could at least get us going.

Our first meeting, run by Jim, was pretty impressive. Jim did not disappoint and showed off his lesson while sharing his knowledge of the Adobe Connect platform. Through collective fooling around, we each discovered attributes of the system and we shared freely.

Our subsequent practice sessions were filled with collective sharing of new facets of the tools. We explored using our iPhones and discovered the limitations of that device as well. This particular discovery caught my wife’s attention and she became interested in the project. She wants to use this in her work as her new command is spread over multiple shifts. Having a platform where her staff can attend meetings no matter where they are would prove beneficial.

A former student of mine, Noel Hoffmann, from RJ Reynolds HS class of 88 has offered to be my online student. This student is now an English teacher at the high school level. My wife has offered to be my back up as well. Having Noel has my student will achieve the same as having Jim as my partner. It raises the stakes and I must elevate my game.

My practice link is here.

Manage the Project – Week 6 – 542

The group work this week was stimulating to say the least. Tasked to explore Differentiated Instruction, we discussed the concept of RAFTs. It was probably one of our most interesting conversations so far. Both my cohorts are light-years ahead of me when it comes to engaging with technology and web tools. This topic was more in my wheelhouse having spent so much time working with students who learn differently. We discussed various learning differences (disabilities seems to imply there is something wrong with students, when we are just wired differently for processing) and how they might impact on RAFT construction. From a reflective standpoint, it was one of my top moments with this group, as I felt valued. This is not a pity-party, as I have felt valued in other areas, as well. This was different.

I have over twenty years experience teaching the Holocaust in a religious school setting. I have directed numerous plays and mentored students directing plays that were shared with the community regarding the Holocaust. That content knowledge aspect and the solid background integrating theatrical coursework with other departments established my place in our group without my ever having to share what I have done previously.

The difference for me is how I have changed as an educator. I have always enjoyed working on stage with a variety of learners. I repackaged instruction on more than one occasion to reach actors struggling to understand their role or motivation on the stage. I have not always provided them the various tools they needed for success in the classroom. As I have grown, I have absorbed different strategies to accomplish the same goals I had when I started teaching – to help as many young people get excited about learning as humanly possible and to have them want to reach and attain high standards.

PBL is yet another strong tool for changing the culture of a school toward student-driven learning. It is not easy work. Like directing a play or commanding soldiers, a leader or educator must be willing to spend a great deal of time preparing and collaborating. At times, teaching is like herding cats as the students will want to follow their own inquiries. It is THAT moment when it is most exciting as they move to seek and test their thoughts and ideas.

How do you herd them? That is where assessment comes in. I learned as a young officer, soldiers will do what you inspect, not what you expect. Students are no different. Clear instructions, solid scaffolding, differentiated instruction, stimulating content coupled with assessments ending with a high stakes activity will keep students wanting more. In fact, they will value the experience when they have sweated and strained to achieve, as long as they are not sweating the construction of the assignment. Implementing Habits of Mind and seeing the students demonstrate those and the 21st Century Skills in addition to mastery of the content area would be benchmarks to evaluate and celebrate.

Having left the front of my classroom years ago, moving to seating in the round and ultimately to a Harkness Table, being facilitator will not be a new experience. Having more tools in my toolbox will make the experience richer for my students and then for me.

Though I did not share it at the time, I found an excellent slideshare that would help anyone interested in this for the future – http://www.slideshare.net/ulamb/differentiated-instruction-strategy-raft and will share with my cohorts.

Here are the notable products for this week:

Culminating Activity

Products & Performances

Differentiated Instruction (at bottom of page)

Reflection Methods (at bottom of page)