Day Three of Glogging: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

We finished up our week yesterday with a good amount of time on our Glogster space as students worked on their posters about Three Cups of Tea (while also practicing their original puppet plays, which we will perform for younger students next week and also videotape).

The two mini-lessons I showed them were how to add a podcast to their poster and how to import videos that are related to the book project. I did have a conversation with one student who wanted to have some media about Monster Trucks and he tried to defend it by saying that he wanted to show the differences between cultures. Nice try, but no dice. (But I told him he could make another personal Glog after the project and that satisfied him).

Now, you can record and embed audio right with the Glog, but in my test in the morning (Note: always test technology before letting the kids in the house!), that didn’t work. I’m not sure if it was the microphones (we have a bunch of fairy cheap mics), or the wireless data flow, or what, but it didn’t work for me. So, I turned to the trusty Microsoft Sound Recorder, which I often forget about but which is an easy way for students to record audio (sound recorder is in XP, under Accessories and then Entertainment). The sound quality is mediocre but workable. Students watched me walk through it and then they were off to the races. (They are recording a short book review)

I also showed how to embed videos, and even gave a list of URL addresses for videos like the Three Cups of Tea song, interviews with Greg Mortenson and others. I reminded them again that just because they can do something doesn’t mean they should — there should be some rationale and there is no reason why a poster should be plastered with videos just to fill the space and just to be cool. I think they got the message.

So, things were moving along during the first three classes, but in the fourth period, just as they were logging in and getting down to work, the entire Internet of our school crashed. I could tell something was wrong as hands began shooting into the air. “Mr. H, this isn’t working,” became a familiar refrain. After realizing what was happening, I quickly shouted out, “OK, everyone move to recording podcasts now,” which is the moment when our principal walks in for a quick visit to see students at work in the classroom.

Ha. Now imagine the scene: hustle and bustle, with one group shouting out puppet play lines behind our puppet theater (they are practicing using loud voices for performances), as other students are scrambling to record podcasts and a few still working on their Three Cups of Tea questions. The noise level is, well, pretty high. For me, it is pretty normal for tech-related projects. There is a lot of activity going on. I know some principals would be wondering just who the heck is in charge here.

I am lucky. My principal doesn’t ask that question. He quickly called the office, and asked that our tech person figure out why the Net was down, and then he wandered around, listening to the students at work on their podcasts. We chatted for a bit, discussing how the video that he showed at our recent staff meeting (I can’t remember the title, but it is the one about children needing to use technology to learn and be ready for the future — they hold up signs, etc, and look depressed) and how it was met with a decidedly mixed reaction by our staff.

Then he left the room, and we kept on working. I just wish the Internet connections had come back on. It never did.

Peace (on the posters),
Kevin

11 Comments
  1. Have you found the mics on the laptops draw in too much background noise? Do the pc laptops even have a mic on them? I have a webcam for all my work and people comment on the background noise whenever it’s recorded while students are in the room.
    I have given our principal a copy of a parent letter for his approval that explains a new venture for my kindergarten class. I set up individual blogs using the Kidblog.org platform. The goal, at least in part, is to have parents using the tech at home with their children. I would do some work with it in class as well but I want to get the parents involved as much as possible. Kidblogs accepts short videos and pics so the kids could narrate the writer’s workshop stories they will be crafting. (We start our “real” Writer’s Workshop block this week and it always feels a bit strange since some kids don’t know their letters yet never mind making letter/sound connections. Lots and lots of adult support here.) Hope the blogging gets approval! I can see how it could help get the message out that tech tools are part of the “now experience” in education. Collaboration and communication have never been more important.
    On another note, looking forward to this week’s puppet show productions – always a hit with my class.

    • Thanks Gail
      I hope the blog project moves forwards — you are moving into new terrain when you have kindergarten kids blogging at a time when they are learning to write. That’s fascinating. (I’m glad I am in the same building as you). The worry is that when the kids leave you and your tech supported world, what happens then? Are our colleagues ready to take their own steps forward?
      Kevin

  2. I should have mentioned the audio thing. I have never gotten that to work. I have emailed support on it a few times, and they said they are working on it, but it doesn’t work. I used audacity and uploaded.

  3. Ok, I finally practiced doing a glog of my own. What a hoot! I pretty much stink at even the basics. However, now that I’ve created my class glog, I am excited to share what I do know with them, let them watch the one “training” video done by a student, and then let them have at it.
    Lucky you, for such a principal. Lucky me, for having the same kind of principal.

  4. Kevin,

    I am a fairly new reader to your blog but I do keep seeing some common elements in many of your posts. This phrase jumped off the monitor and landed in my lap:

    “I reminded them again that just because they can do something doesn’t mean they should — there should be some rationale and there is no reason why a poster should be plastered with videos just to fill the space and just to be cool.”

    Staying grounded and having a purpose is certainly a huge consideration in all the projects we lead students to work on.

    During the first week of school I show the students how to use Garage Band on the one Mac that we have so they can record their voices reading their poetry. Most of the students love this project and you can imagine that playing with all the sounds in Garage Band is a big hit. I give them some play time so they can get comfortable with what is available but then I lead them down the path of thinking, “Just because they can do something doesn’t necessarily mean they should,” although I have never actually used those words.

    I do believe this phrase will be heard in our classroom from now on ~ love it!

    • yeah
      and I need to remind myself of the same phrase, too, John.
      The other one is ” Playing is learning.”
      I need to make some Glogster posters of these!
      🙂
      Kevin

  5. “Are our colleagues ready to take their own steps forward?” That’s an important question.
    I only use the laptops with the class once a week for about an hour. What is most important in the early stages is that teachers practice skill development on their own. If we have have to make all that practice into an hour of PD time here and there, we’ll never get the job done. We have to try out the tools, think about how we can apply them in meaningful ways (as you have with Glogster,) and then bring them to the students so they can hone their skills in new ways. Your students are reading, writing, and presenting in ways that carry personal meaning. That is when the best learning takes place.

    • Many teachers either don’t have the time, or the inclination, or the courage to make that leap to playing on their own time, with an eye towards instruction. I wish schools would give them more time to do that, partnered with someone who has already taken those steps. That mentor model would be huge. But the finances of the idea make it unlikely anytime soon.
      Kevin

  6. We rarely give teachers time to play, but finally had a PD day when we came back in January and devoted 2 hours to blogging- how tos. We started edublogs campus this fall and had all the preK-3 teachers come in for a day in August, but had never trained the others. We got positive feedback from almost everyone for allowing them the time to play with it and learn.

    However, for the last 3 years I have offered afterschool training in many many tools. I’ve done it by tool/program, done it as a 6 week course and offered the one afternoon, come learn about this tool… It has been, for the most part, a waste of my time. Teachers at my school will not come to learn about tech. They don’t want to take the time when it is offered outside of the school day, or when it is not a “have-to”. Many teachers also coach. Some have children that need to be picked up. Some just plain won’t. Now that they have to at least post homework and/or newsletters on their blog, they are being nudged to learn.

    I absolutely agree that teachers must have time to play with these tools, but do not see them, for the most part as willing to take the time to either do it on their own, or take advantage of a mentor. My teachers ask for help only on an as-needed basis- and since I also teach full time, that makes the “just-in-time” model tough to pull off.

    But, all that said… I’m going to offer some “pimp my blog” afternoons, since I know some are ready for more and I can sneak in some tools that they can use with their students, ie voicethread, using flip cameras… that can make a difference. I am also doing google tools with the older kids and are requiring them to get the rss feeds of all their teacher’s blogs. A little sideways pressure on the teachers to have something worth getting, which may push them to learn more, do more…

    • Interesting comment, Maureen. I am thinking about helping my class parents adapt to using the Kidblog.org site I have set up (awaiting admin approval) and I will create podcasts using each tool on the “write a post” page. That way the parents can take it in easy steps by watching a podcast, trying out the tool, watching another, and adding to what they know. My plan is to use Screentoaster for the podcasts. I wonder if by presenting this asynchronously, I will be able to reach a broader audience than I would otherwise. Kidblog uses a simplified WordPress platform so it’s a quick hop into Edublogs from there.

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