Friday, March 25, 2011

“Causing arguments since 2008”

aMap, or argumentative Map, is a site in which users can create a debate with other users in the form of a web or map. You do not create an account; anyone can create a map, but for each time that you create a new map, you must provide a user name, city, postcode, and email address.

If I used this in a classroom, I would start with a quick lesson on how to fill out the aMap form:
- Your position (I think . . .) – what you think overall
- Propositions (Because . . .) – reasons that support your position
- Arguments (As . . .) – supporting arguments that back up each of your propositions
- Evidence (Supported by . . .) – supporting evidence to back up your arguments

It looks like this:

Their example is:
I THINK... "Man U are the best team in the Premiership” (State their position)
BECAUSE... "They’re the most successful on the pitch” (State their proposition/reason)
AS... "They win the most silverware and have the best players” (State supporting argument)
SUPPORTED BY...“In 2008 Man U won the Champions League and Ronaldo won best European Player of the year.” (State supporting evidence)

aMap even offers a powerpoint for teachers:
View more presentations from Delib

Students can also look over examples of already created aMaps.

I would require students to create a minimum of one map and to reply to a minimum of 3 of their classmates' maps. Students would choose their issue in class on a sign-up sheet to ensure that multiple people do not choose the same topic. They would also draft their map either in class or as a homework assignment because it is difficult to edit in the website.

+integrates technology into teaching students how to debate
+lays out a basic format for creating an argument
+their maps can be expanded upon for a formal paper later on
+can follow maps on twitter, facebook, and myspace
-no way to edit your aMap once you've officially shared it so students would have to create and edit their arguments on paper or in a Word document first
-its format is rigid and not very flexible- some arguments and points are more complicated than the 3 tiered argument they offer and others may be simpler.
-text for each box is limited by a set number of characters

This lesson fulfills the following GLCE's for 8th Grade Language Arts
W.PR.08.03 draft focused ideas experimenting with various ways of sequencing information including ordering arguments, or sequencing ideas chronologically by importance when writing compositions.
S.DS.08.01 engage in interactive, extended discourse to socially construct meaning in book clubs, literature circles, partnerships, or other conversation protocols.
S.DS.08.02 respond to multiple text types in order to explore problems and pose solutions supported with evidence, take a stand on an issue and support it, and identify personally with a universal theme.

6-8.CI.3. illustrate a content-related concept using a model, simulation, or concept-mapping software
6-8.CC.1. use digital resources (e.g., discussion groups, blogs, podcasts, videoconferences, Moodle, Blackboard) to collaborate with peers, experts, and other audiences

I used 8th grade GLCE's, but I think this site could be used in any classroom from late elementary through even high school depending on how it's used and the need of the students.

I am still not confident with the form they use especially the "supporting argument: As....."  It's one of those situations in which I get it when I look at their examples but I am unsure what to put when creating my own.

My example:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Disapointed with Sliderocket

I played around with Sliderocket last week. I needed to teach a lesson to my college classmates and my TA wanted us to be creative and not just copy the format of previous groups who had taught. I couldn't really get around having some sort of digital text presentation but I wanted to avoid the overused powerpoint.

Sliderocket was fairly simple to learn how to use since it's quite similar to powerpoint. My favorite feature is the slide transition. I like the options available for transitioning between slides because it really separates itself from powerpoint by providing a modern visual such as the cuberotate and the swap.  You can also insert videos and links on the slides, but I didn't need to do either.

Another seemingly cool thing is that users can download their presentation. However, you have to pay for it. This was a huge disappointment because I knew the internet connection in the room I would be teaching in is not reliable. I needed something I could use without internet and I was not about to pay sliderocket anything.

Then, Sliderocket was saving my work and something went wrong, an "error" happened. One of my slides was lost and others lost quite a bit of information which I had recently added. I was already running late and had to spend another 30 minutes redoing the lost pieces. I ended up copying and pasting all of my information into a powerpoint because I was so frustrated and mad at sliderocket. This type of thing makes me nervous about working on anything that is saved only on the web. I feel like I have no control whether something gets deleted or not. On my computer, I can at least save it after big additions or revisions and I can even back it up to a flashdrive, but on the web, it could just disappear and I would never see all my hard work every again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I wish I was as POOR as Teachers!

The purpose of this is not to prove that teachers make too much money or too little money. It’s to make people think and to put some perspective on things.

The following is a journal entry from 2005 by a high schooler. Pseudonyms are used for obvious reasons.

I ripped into Mr. S today. I didn’t mean to. He’s a nice teacher and I like him, but he was the last straw. He made a comment about how he doesn’t make any money as a teacher and I snapped. I gave him a five minute lecture on how bad it is for him to be complaining about how much money he makes when he could have students who are actually poor and how does that make them feel and on and on. I expect that kind of thing from the lazy coaching “teachers” but not from Mr. S; he seems quality. It’s like it’s a rule that if you’re a teacher you must meet a quota of number of times you complain about your salary. Mr. S is young. I wish he would challenge the norm and not just follow in the footsteps of others.

I’ve been listening to teachers complain about how much money they make (or DON’T make) for years and for some reason a lot in the past few weeks and I’m sick of it! I figure my parents must make a fraction of what teachers make since we can't afford their lives. So my dad gets paid less AND his job is way harder yet he doesn’t complain… okay, sometimes he does, given what’s natural for a human. I mean, he did CHOOSE his profession so I kinda don’t feel TOO bad… but so did teachers! They knew they were going into a field that doesn’t pay tons because they have also listened to their teachers who complained about it. So then why do they expect more? Are they the children of rich middle class couples, spoiled, have no clue about what a hard life really is, and expect the world to hand them a high standard of living?

Mrs. J lives in that new, big, brick home. I wish I lived in a house that nice. Maybe she just has a wealthy husband, but what about Mr. and Mrs. D? They’re both teachers and they just bought that one house. Plus they paid me a lot for babysitting one little girl. It was really nice in there. Nothing was broken, Nothing was hand-me-downs-and-down-and-down. It looked like they have everything they need and want. I mean, it’s not a mansion and they don’t have boats but not everyone can be THAT rich. I don’t feel bad for teachers. Looks like they’re livin it up to me. Then again, I'm not coming from parents who are doctors or lawyers or anything like that. Their lives probably seem like poverty compared to the childhood they are coming from, but it looks luxurious to me. But what about Mrs. M? Her house is small and she lives paycheck to paycheck… she also got pregnant when she was a teenager and her husband is working part time.... She's an exception. I just look at teachers’ clothes, cars, houses, cell phones, and think, “Wow, I wish I was as poor as you.” Mr. B has a motorcycle, a pool, a billiard table, a nice car and he doesn’t even do anything! I wonder how much teachers REALLY make….. Mom says $30,000 is a respectable starting wage. So, I guess, that means teachers make $20,000? $25,000?

Furthermore, it’s always (almost) said like this, “Good thing I’m not doing it for the money cause we get paid nothing.” This pisses me off cause if you truly weren’t doing it for the money then why bring it up and complain about it? Saying things like, “I work my butt off and get paid peanuts,” is insulting to someone who works or comes from parents who work longer and more laboriously and get paid less. I know teachers have degrees and most people who get paid less don’t, but, in reality, no one’s gonna care if you’re “qualified” or “certified.”All they’re gonna see is a bunch of people who work with kids, get summers off, and still think they’re living in poverty and their lives are awful. Pointing out that you have a degree almost makes it worse cause it’s like you’re saying, “Look at me! I’m better than you!” No wonder the poor hate the rich. My family’s not even that poor and teachers certainly aren’t rich either. It’s almost like teachers are the sophomores in society- taking pride in being better than those below them yet still lusting to be an upperclassman.

If teachers are poor, am I supposed to feel ashamed of my background? Of my life? I don’t feel ashamed. At least, I don’t think I do. But if teachers believe that their situation is soooo bad, then what does that say about mine? My family of SEVEN can survive just fine off of our income but apparently it’s not enough for teachers. I just think people don’t realize how good they have it which makes sense considering the sayings “You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” or “It’s always greener on the other side.” I can think of plenty of other kids who are worse off than my family. I wonder how THEY feel.

I don’t want to be too harsh. I have many amazing teachers and many who DO work their butts off. I just wish they wouldn’t complain about their pay. And it sucks for the teachers who work hard that there are teachers like Mr L who really honestly don’t do much. I can just picture him in his Union “We are Professionals” T-shirt saying, “Wha wah wah, my job is sooo hard. I’m a lazy football coach who copies notes from the textbook, has my students grade their tests, and chastises students for daring to ask questions and actually learn something.”Once he starts doing as much work and is as amazing as Mrs. Q, then he can maybe start thinking about complaining.

This is just something to think about in regards to your own students. I'm sure most high quality teachers are aware of how much their words, actions, and attitudes affect students. Just remember that you don’t always know what’s going on in their lives and you can’t always ascertain their socioeconomic status. This is besides the fact that it is very unprofessional to be discussing salary in front of students anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Digital Story Board Example using Prezi

an image from my digital storyboard example
I expanded on a lesson plan idea suggested in my post Explore Museums Around the World.... for FREE!!. Basically, I created my own personal example for students to look at while doing this digital storyboard assignment. I also made various drafts of my story outlines to show them how messy composing and revising can be (Beginning, Draft 1, Draft 2, Draft 3). This lesson could make a great art class project and it DOES greatly integrate history. Unfortunately, it is not supported by any particular GLCE that I know of, which means it would not realistically be used; most do not have enough time to teach even the basics let alone a project such as this. However, since it is already prepared, I could see it as a good enrichment project to be set aside for substitute days or days in which something unexpected happens and the teacher is for some reason standing there without a lesson plan or for unruly days such as just before a vacation (Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, etc.). In any school I have been in there are always at least a couple of these afternoons that get thrown to the wind….. which is interesting considering my statement before about how no one seems to have time to teach even the basics, but that’s diverging from the topic. Another disadvantage is that there could be much confusion from students if there is a sub who doesn’t have answers for their questions. Another drawback for this being a “quick, informal, afternoon lesson” is that the whole thing took me 2 days of my Spring Break to finish. So, it would have to either be more of a long term project or be modified and have different expectations than the one I created. It also seems logical that a lesson on copyright would make sense as a prerequisite considering the amount of research and media which is involved.  

Positives for using digital storyboards
+It makes it fun especially if students are used to presenting project after project on poster boards and standing in front of the class saying “Blah, blah blah.”
+It allows for multimedia (videos, text, images) and is aesthetically pleasing
+This is something they can show their parents and keep for years.
+If done in groups, it allows for students to work on it separately as opposed to having to meet physically for any accomplishment.
+Digital Storyboards offer student choice and variety between projects if they are allowed to pick their own tool. There are many options. However, it might be easier to limit their options since the teacher will likely have to provide assistance in using the tools.  

Pros/Cons to Prezi 
+loved the “zebra” tool for selecting, changing the size of, and rotating an object.
+creates a very modern looking and creative presentation
+provides a tutorial
+was fairly easy to figure out without watching the tutorial (since I rarely have patience for them, although I admit that sometimes it might save time and frustration in the end)
-one of my youtube videos takes a while to load, but that might not be Prezi’s fault
-you can’t control how long the auto play stays at each stopping point
-cannot add voice to it, I even tried recording on my laptop and uploading the sound file but it doesn’t allow that
-it ONLY allows embedding youtube videos, trust me- I tried adding a video from google-docs
-doesn’t allow for links to other sites, which would be nice considering the previous point, however you can insert the URL for viewers to copy and paste
-some images were pixilated but it could have been due to the quality of the original image and thus not Prezi’s fault
-became frustrated with the pointer automatically selecting objects without me knowing about it… had to use the “undo” button many times
+has an “undo” button :D

UPDATE: After more research, it turns out that this idea IS indeed supported by the GLCE's and could be a legitimate lesson plan used in the classroom as seen here