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.

Bowness Space Elevator

Felt the urge to be an explorer today. Attempted to visit the link provided; however, the link appears non-functional. Teleported to the base of Bowness Space Elevator. Read all the panels, and like a true “curious george”, investigated many of the teleport links. George capped an oil spill on the bottom of the ocean floor and learned about mangrove ecosystems. George explored the control room at the base of the elevator but could not obtain control of the computers. George gained information on the future of space elevators and NASA’s intended future use. George rode the elevator into space. The view of the orbiting station/satellite and Earth was fascinating. Again, George explored rooms, control room and the view deck.

The possibility of use by other educators or scientists as a meeting point or point of embarkation was not lost on George. Would like to gather the information from the link should that become available.Bowness Space Elevator_001

Live Lesson Reflection

Please view live lesson here.


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.


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.

Final Reflections of Project Based Learning

Our project is winding down and the link is attached here. This has been an amazing experience for me. Initially, when the class began, I was a little put off by the thought we would be responsible for our own learning. I felt considering the fees and what I was paying (or had paid through military service), I should be getting very focused instruction. I expected that I would not gain a great deal, or if I did, it would be in spite of the lack of visible instruction.

Shortly after beginning the course, we were given the opportunity to join into small groups or do the project on our own. Still not fully vested and unsure of what the composition of my group would be, I moved ahead. Boy, did I ever hit jackpot. I joined a great group of minds.

We all seemed to get excited about the project. As a result, we experience a PBL while creating a PBL. Certainly, this creation was not easy. We spent a great deal of time with each other every Monday night. Through the week, we communicated by text and email. However, the time flew by. It just did not seem laborious. However, I am not living on the east coast, as one of my cohorts, so the few really late nights we had might have taken a steeper toll on him. Considering how we all were energized each time we added a layer, I am not certain I would have had that energy off which to feed if I built a PBL on my own. In hindsight, having a group to work with was the greatest windfall for me in this course.

I would have liked to witness more PBL experiences incorporating Differentiated Learning. In my experience with students with learning differences, talking about it, reading about it and actually incorporating students in the mix are three very different things. I do understand the literature; I would just like to see it in practice.

I will take away a greater respect for use of Project Based Learning and Habit of Mind to create a culture shift. I look forward to the opportunity to help mentor teachers weave PBL into their coursework to make teaching and learning a collaborative experience for all.

Self evaluation of our PBL follows:.

Debrief, Reflect, Review and Revise

Once the event is over, all paperwork is done, and the guests are gone, I have found that most students experience a let down in the same way someone misses the show once the school play is over. The big fun project/labor of love is done and usually it is missed. I would want to create a highlight video of the presentations and reception/project defenses and share that video with the students. That way, they could all see what the audience saw. It is always hard to gauge your own performances. I would want to praise them, as the video should capture the students engaging with the community professionals and executives.

I would also want to share the results of their survey using the data sans names. Once the data is finished I would encourage them to talk about the data and process what could be done differently to make the experience better. Engaging the cohort class and gaining their feedback using the End of Project Survey on our PBL website would be valuable, as well as feedback from the cohort educators.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe, German philosopher and playwright used to ask three questions before reviewing a play:

1) What was the artist trying to do?

2) How well did he/she do it?

3) Was it worth doing? Does it have value?

I think with minor refinement, these questions would serve this project well, although there are many quality feedback forms on the BIE website. I would want to get feedback from some of our guests from the culminating activity. This would help assess the end products and if they could be market-ready and if they weren’t what the projects lacked to make a professional connection. I also think that feedback might be valuable for the students to see and process as well.

A discussion with my collaborators and quite possibly either the Dean of Faculty, Assistant Head of School or Head of School would prove time well spent. We should examine the student, cohort and guest surveys and assess the final products. At our meeting, posting the results would frame further conversations. Exploring the data, we could share our praises and our changes we would like to implement should we do the project again.

I think assessment should happen each and every time this PBL is used. Change is inevitable and that will happen with students, teachers, school, and community populations. As things change, the dynamics change. Self-assessment and analysis of any PBL should occur with each use. In addition, teachers should continually appraise the needs of each group of students to insure they are meeting the needs of the students while addressing the mandates of the school system.

Scaffolding – Week 5 Reflection -542

This particular lesson this week was Planning and Preparing with an emphasis on scaffolding our learners. As we clarified where we wanted to end, we analyzed what it would take to get our students there. We wanted to provide the students a vision into our collective passions. Coming from our separate backgrounds, we listened to one another and added pieces to the whole.

One of our strengths is our difference. Viewing from our various experiences, we explored reaching all learners. One of my cohorts is a former teacher and now in IT and a Google Docs trainer. The other, also in IT, is our Spanish, sound and technical specialist. My background is both in teaching Theater and students with learning differences.

So on we went, detailing the specifics we would need in our Teaching and Learning Guide and we discovered areas that contained gaps in reaching our students. Rather than filling with wasted space documents and time, we challenged each other to talk out how to support our students. We looked to reduce assumptions we made about teaching high school students.

Jamie McKenzie addresses that “scaffolding clarifies purpose” (1999) as one of her eight characteristics. Our entry event is designed to evoke emotions since it centers around two unlikely friends during the Holocaust. Through underscoring innocence of the children of the world, even in the midst of great cruelty and prejudice, we start them caring about the future of their world and HOW they should make a difference.

At each level of this project we provide them structure and guidance to keep them focused on their mission. Starting at the end, we have worked backward leaving them materials they will need to build a road to where we want them to arrive. Our assessments are clear as they can be prior to implementation, so our charges know clearly our expectations. We have provided them a class glossary, adding some words we find essential to the information gathering, to use with their class and with their cohorts. We collected the best websites to get them started and information to analyze web information of their own choosing. We have provided them a tutorial on using VoiceThread and two opportunities to use it in the course of nine weeks. The use of Google Docs will encourage Peer editing and contributions so all feel included and heard. Adding a cohort element integrates curriculum and offers written and spoken immersion while providing direct contact with students halfway around the globe as they explore global issues.

I would love to test this PBL. I feel we have built a strong superstructure around their site of exploration and creation. I feel like we addressed all eight of the characteristics McKenzie addressed. All that remains will be the editing and revision that can only take place after a test with high school students.


McKenzie, J. (1999). Scaffolding for success. From Now On, The Educational Technology Journal, 9(4). Retrieved July 14, 2013, from