Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Website: CLICK HERE

When starting this assignment of creating a digital portfolio, I visited many of the sites listed in order to see where I wanted my website to be hosted.  I immediately gravitated to, as I was drawn to the infographic style they used.  I signed up for an account and started editing my page.  After a few minutes, I realized that this site did not offer the customization that I wanted.  I was unable to upload videos and documents, and I could not customize the layout in the ways I wanted.  I decided that was not going to suit my needs, so I went to  Again, I signed up for an account and began editing, when I ran into many of the same issues.  After thinking for a while, I remember that I had used for a previous Wilkes class in order to make a website.  I remembered that Weebly allowed for much more customization, and had many more capabilities than the other sites I had explored.

In building my Weebly site, I had to make a lot of choices about what I wanted to include.  I really like the social media buttons that Weebly offers (in the top right corner and bottom of my page).  These buttons allow people to e-mail me, and connect to me on social media sites, but do not take up a lot of space on the page.  I do not like cluttered websites, so I appreciate these buttons.  I then began to include coursework and projects.  I linked to the two blogs I have created for Wilkes classes, and then took advantage of Weebly's capabilities and included a document, video, image, and link.  I'm happy with how my website turned out, and I think it is representative of what I have accomplished here in the Wilkes Instructional Media program.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Broadcast Yourself

This week's assignment was to complete a live broadcast.  My friend and I write a blog about nail art and nail polish, so I decided to broadcast a tutorial.  I chose to do a tutorial for galaxy nails, which are a popular design at the moment.  I have posted galaxy nail designs on the blog many times, and I have had a lot of people ask me how to do them.  I posted a photo tutorial for it a while back, but I still get questions from people.  So to answer those questions, I decided to do the broadcast tutorial.

I invited friend and family members who are always asking me how I do various nail designs.  I also advertised on the Twitter account I use for the blog.  Four people showed up for the broadcast (although one left partway through), and they seemed to enjoy it!

For the broadcast, I chose to use Google Hangouts.  I wanted to use this program, because it was a Google tool that I was not familiar with.  I like to try out all the Google tools that I can, so I was glad for the opportunity to use Hangouts.  I started the broadcast by showing everyone what polishes they would need to complete the design:

I then walked through the process of creating the design step by step.  One issue I did run in to was the clarity of video.  I used an external webcam for this, since the one built in to my computer wasn't what I needed for this type of video.  Because I wanted to be able to aim the camera at my nails, I needed the external webcam.  I'm not sure if it was the quality of that camera, or just the quality of video on Google Hangouts, but it did take away from the broadcast a bit.  Since I was trying to show close ups of nail art, I would have like to have better quality.  It was slightly better than what is shown here (the capture feature on Google Hangouts takes very low-quality screen shots), but was not as good as I would have liked.  I had to give better descriptions of what I was doing, rather than just relying on the video to show what to do.

 One thing that I really liked about doing a live tutorial is that people were able to ask questions along the way.  For example, after I finished the design, there were a few questions about nail art in general.  One person wanted to know what kind of tools I used to create my designs, and I was able to answer the question and show the tools.  It was nice to be able to provide immediate responses to questions.
 Since the captures picture quality is so low, here's a better picture of the final design:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have done live broadcasts with my students.  I think that live broadcasts can be an extremely helpful tool in certain situations.  While I don't think Google Hangouts is the best choice for broadcasting with students, I could certainly see myself using Google Hangouts in the future in order to connect with friends and family.

Attend a Live Webinar

Earlier in the course of this class, I signed up for an Edmodo account.  I had heard that it is a wonderful tool for teachers to use, and I know a lot of teachers in the World Language department use it with great success.  So I signed up for an account, and hadn't really done anything with it since.  I knew I wanted to use it next year, but wasn't even sure when to start.  Then, I got an e-mail from Edmodo inviting me to participate in a "Intro to Edmodo" webinar.  Knowing that I had this assignment this week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

The "Intro to Edmodo" webinar lasted about 30 minutes.  During that time, we were given an overview of what Edmodo is, a look at the features, and some tips for implementing Edmodo in our classrooms.  The presenter was knowledgeable about Edmodo, and also had experience as a classroom teacher.  I appreciated this, as I felt like I was getting information from someone that understood the classroom side of Edmodo and not just the technical features.  I would definitely consider attending future Edmodo webinars, because they seem to be a great way to get information on how to best use Edmodo.  I would like to learn about Edmodo in more depth before the school year starts, so I will be looking out for future webinars.

I have used webinars with my students before, and plan to continue to do so in the coming school year.  My 7th and 8th grade French 1 and French 2 students have to take a comprehensive county-wide final exam at the end of the school year.  This exam covers everything they have learned in the class, and if they do not pass the exam, they do not earn high school credit for the class.  This means they have to repeat the class the following year.  Needless to say, this causes a lot of stress for my students.  Two years ago, to help alleviate some of the stress, I set up a webinar for the night before the exam.  For the webinar, I used WizIQ, which I had learned about in a previous Wilkes class.  During the webinar, I answered students' questions, reviewed topics that would be on the exam, used the microphones to help students with pronunciation, etc.  My students absolutely loved the webinar.  At the end of last year, I had over 40 students participate.  They came in to school the next day and thanked me profusely for the webinar, and many said that they would not have passed the exam without it.

Webinars are wonderful tools, however they do require a time commitment.  Since they are held live, you have to be in a certain place at a certain time.  This could be challenging for both students and teachers.  I don't know if I would incorporate regular webinars into my class for this reason.  I think they are great for the situation I described with the final exam, but I don't know if they are really feasible or necessary for regular use.  That being said, I know that many webinar hosting sites offer the ability to record the session for future playback.  This might make regular webinars more possible.  Unfortunately this eliminates the live aspect, where students can interact with each other and the teacher.  However it is a good compromise for the time commitment.  There's definitely a lot to think about when considering webinars for classroom use!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Integrating Social Networking

Subject/Grade:   French 2 - 8th grade

Unit/Lesson:  Unit 3 - Speaking in the past tense

Outcome: Students will be able to describe past events using a various vocabulary and structures

Standards: Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum 

                  1.0   COMMUNICATION
1.1   Interpersonal
b. Students engage in exchanges about familiar and personal topics in the present, past, and future in the target language.

Common Core State Standards
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
CCSS.Math.Practice.MP7 Look for and make use of structure.

Social Networking Site:  Twitter

Rationale:  In French 2, one of the biggest topics is speaking in the past tense.  It is introduced in Unit 3, and reinforced and expanded upon in all the units after.  Students can not pass the comprehensive final exam (and therefore can not receive high school credit for French 2) if they do not have a firm grasp on speaking in the past tense.  As there is a huge push in my school district to use authentic language in authentic scenarios, Twitter provides a wonderful platform for communication.  Students would get away from translation and meaningless scenarios, and would be able to use what they have learned in a way that is meaningful and exciting for them.  Twitter's character limits would force the students to think critically about what they are typing, and will encourage self and peer editing.  While Twitter is not currently approved for use with students in my school district, we have been informed that it may be a possibility for the upcoming school year.  I am hopeful that I will be able to complete this lesson with my students in the fall!

Lesson idea:  Twitter would be incorporated in this unit as a way to reinforce the lessons while students are outside of school.  Every day, I would post a question to Twitter, like below:

This question asks "What did you do yesterday after school?".  Each student would be required to respond to the question I post.  Then, each student would have to ask a classmate a follow up question to their answer.  For example, if a student responded to my question and said "I played soccer with my friends", a classmate could ask "What time did you play soccer?", "Where did you play soccer?", etc.   By doing this, students would practice understanding questions in the past tense, responding in the past tense, and formulating their own questions in the past tense.  I could tailor the initial question to touch on whatever nuance of the past tense that we learned in class that day.  Since my students spend a huge amount of time on Twitter outside of school, this would be an effective way to get them to use French outside of the classroom.

Differentiation: Above-level learners could be challenged to ask more than one follow up question.  Below-level learners would be provided with sentence starters (or tweet starters, if you will) to provide the framework of how to respond to the daily question.

Assessment: At the end of each week, I would grade students on their tweets using the following rubric

Response to initial daily question
Student responded to the initial daily question all 5 days
Student responded to the initial daily question on 4 of the 5 days
Student responded to the initial daily question on 3 of the 5 days
Student responded to the initial daily question on only 1 or 2 of the 5 days
Student did not meet any of the requirements described
Follow up questions
Student asked at least one follow up question of a classmate on all 5 days
Student asked at least one follow up question of a classmate on 4 of the 5 days
Student asked at least one follow up question of a classmate on 3 of the 5 days
Student asked at least one follow up question of a classmate on only 1-2 of the 5 days
Student did not meet any of the requirements described
Responses to follow up questions
Student responded to at least one follow up question asked of them on all 5 days
Student responded to at least one follow up question asked of them on 4 of the 5 days
Student responded to at least one follow up question asked of them on 3 of the 5 days
Student responded to at least one follow up question asked of them on only 1-2 of the 5 days
Student did not meet any of the requirements described
Prompt Requirements
Student’s responses to the daily question show a high level of understanding.  Student regularly attempts more complex sentences.
Student’s responses to the daily question show a good level of understanding.  Student attempts more complex sentences.
Student’s responses to the daily question show a basic level of understanding.  Student rarely attempts more complex sentences.
Student’s responses to the daily question show minimal understanding.  Student does not attempt more complex sentences.
Student did not meet any of the requirements described
Spelling and grammar are used effectively with minimal errors that interfere with comprehension
Spelling and grammar are used effectively with some errors that interfere with comprehension
Spelling and grammar have many errors that interfere with comprehension
Spelling and grammar usage make comprehension difficult
Student did not meet any of the requirements described

The Seven Day Social Immersion Challenge

CLICK HERE to see my photo of the day for each day of this week

In 2012, I completed the Project 365 challenge, so this week's photo-a-day assignment was a lot of fun for me!  From January 1st, 2012 to December 31st, 2012, I posted a photo every single day.  I tried to take a photo that summed up the major part of my day.  Throughout the process, I learned a lot about photography, and about myself!  I enjoy photography and have taken a few photography classes, so I undertook the Project 365 challenge as a way to improve my photography skills.  I also thought it would be a neat way to document a year in my life.  I used the Project 365 app on my iPhone, and every day I uploaded my photo to Facebook.  This was a great way for my family that lives in New England to know what was going on in my life.  Many of my family members have told me how much they loved seeing my pictures every day (one aunt said they were the only reason she logged in to Facebook every day), and they were disappointed when the year was over.  Many of them have asked me to start doing Project 365 again.  After this week, I remember how much fun it was, and I'm definitely tempted to start again!  Not only did Project 365 help improve my photography, it helped me to try new things and get out of my apartment more often.  Knowing that people were looking at my pictures each day, I certainly didn't want to have picture after picture of me sitting on the couch watching TV.  So I made myself go out and do things more often than I normally would.  I started walking the dog more, going out in Annapolis, and spending more time with friends.  Those habits have now stuck with me, and I'm definitely enjoying life!
For my pictures this week, all of them were taken with my iPhone 5, except for Friday's.  That photo was taken with my Nikon D70 and an 80-400mm lens.  I decided to approach this week like the year of Project 365, and post a picture that summed up the major part of my day.  I have seen other photo-a-day challenges that revolve around themes, or specific subject matter, and I think those would be an interesting twist on the challenge.  I might just have to try one of those out!

Although the assignment said to complete either the photo-a-day challenge or the Twitterthon, I decided that I would try to amp up my Twitter usage this week, just to see how it would go.  I tried to find new people to follow every day, and also tried posting more often.  I found that I got very overwhelmed in trying to keep up with it all!  I am a regular Twitter user, so I'm comfortable using it, but I found that I was devoting way more time to reading my Twitter feed than I wanted to.  I have three different Twitter accounts - one is personal, one is educational, and one is for following the nail art world (which I write a blog for).  For some of the people I followed this week, I have decided to follow them with one of my other accounts.  That way I can read those feeds if I have some extra time.  My personal Twitter account will just be for those that I want to follow on a daily basis.  While I was a bit overwhelmed by my mini-Twitterthon, I did find some interesting new people and businesses to follow!

Photo of the Day - Sunday

It was a lazy day around the apartment.  Finnegan was not happy to be woken from a nap.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Photo of the Day - Saturday

Today I walked 4.5 miles on the B&A Trail (a walking/biking trail that goes from Baltimore to Annapolis).  I've walked about 8 miles of the trail so far, and I hope to do the other 5 miles in the near future!