End of School Year Reflections

I have recently completed teaching a online middle school science class this past school year.  I really enjoyed teaching the few students I had and stepping in on occasion to help out other classes.  This was also the first time I co-developed any sort of online curriculum to be used exclusively online.

I know I like the teaching aspect much more than the curriculum development side.  I already miss my students and it’s only been a week since the last class!

Another new tool: QR Codes

For the first time, I experimented with creating/decoding QR codes today.  From other users’ demos, it seemed to be mainly for smart phone use.  See a QR code.  Scan the QR code with the phone.  Gain access to the additional content.

I found a QR code creator website.  It allowed me to type in the web address I wanted to create the code for.  I then had options for how I wanted to use the generated code.  The easiest seemed to be saving the png file it made.

In addition, I uploaded the code file into a QR code reader site.  This location gave the website address for the code.

I placed the png file into a related email address signature.  I think it will work there.

Here’s the file:

qrcode

My First Flash Animation Experiments

Recently, I’ve found a PowerPoint add-on called iSpring Free.  It turns animated PowerPoint presentations into Flash animations and SCORM files. 

I want to use the Flash animations to teach synchronous and asynchronous students.  Asynchronous students can use the Flash animations in an LMS like Moodle and the Flash animations can play directly in Elluminate.

The first file shows steps to solve word problems in science, using an area calculation as an example.

Solving Science Word Problems

The second file is a “branched” presentation with other area problems solved for student practice.

Area Practice

Participation in PD Online

Today was the first time I participated in a day-long professional development event online, the WOW Virtual Technology Conference. 

I have been using the online tools (Moodle and Elluminate) for a while now.  It really was a wonderful experience.  I learned about new tools I can use as well as additional aspects of others.  The terrific text chat was overwhelming.  A lot of chat flew by, even while I was using the largest chat window available.  I’m glad that I’ll still be able to access all of the resources at a later time.

I did share a resource:  iSpring Free.  This is a PowerPoint plug-in that will convert a ppt file into a Flash file.  I have recently started to animate PowerPoint files.  I plan to create animations for teaching.

Another Resource I Created

I had created a ScreenToaster video about how to use the tools in TutorFi.com’s online classroom. I have shared this video with tutors whom I have coached. I have not been able to access ScreenToaster, so I created another video at a different site. This time, I used TechSmith’s Jing recorder. The video location is: Classroom Tools

It’s a 5-minute long video, starting at the EOffice entry point to the TutorFi classroom, rather than from the Control Panel.  I demonstrate the classroom’s tools.

Troubleshooting Technology

What’s terrific about tutoring online is the time savings involved. I do not have to drive to meet students. They do not have to leave home and meet me at a library or a similar location. The schedules are easier to work with; both theirs and mine.

I have been using an online whiteboard for my tutoring business. In my online classroom, I can text chat with my student during the session. We can also talk in real-time about the session’s content.

Recently, I have had trouble using my microphone in my online classroom. I have not had sound; even with the classroom indicator telling me sound should be working. I can contact tech support, but the last time I called, I never did get a call back to resolve the issue.

I do use the phone as a backup for my microphone. Of course, that means I can still talk to my students.

The last time I was in my online classroom, I decided to check some settings that were supposed to work automatically. It turned out that those settings were incorrect. Not only was I able to get my own microphone to work; I was also able to help another tutor to get hers to work as well!

It is so gratifying to work through an issue. From no sound from a microphone to sound, in this case.

I have created a short video showing the steps that I found. It’s available at:

Sound Settings

Authenic Science Research

Authentic Science Research

A few years ago, I participated in a teacher leadership program run by the University of Maryland. About a dozen science teachers from mostly Maryland participated. I was one of only 2 teachers from outside of Maryland. For 6 of 7 weeks, I conducted real environmental science research. During the first week of the program, we were introduced to the 3 satellite locations and the types of research they do.

I chose to work with frogs. I varied their diet and took measurements that involved counting tadpoles and obtaining thier masses. I created a VoiceThread about my 6-week-long project.

Part of the process continued well after the research was concluded. I had to write a detailed lesson based upon my research. You can find it here: ESEP Lesson Plan

Reflections on My First Week with My Blog

I have learned quite a lot about blogging in this first week. I have also come across stumbling blocks that I need to overcome.

I didn’t realize how easy it would be to actually set up a blog. That’s the main reason I have not done so until now. The starting steps are pretty straight-forward. My first accomplishment was setting up this blog.

What I’m confused about is finding other blogs to comment on. How do I find people to “friend” in Edublogs?

Why am I Starting a Blog?

 

I have many reasons for beginning to create a blog.  The most important one is to establish another presence for myself on the Internet.  I have already written many web articles to parents about helping their children do better in science classes.  Here, I can create more direct contacts through other discussions.

Another reason is to learn how to use yet another technology resource.  I have learned to use online classroom resources for live classes and asynchronous classes.  Blogging is another tool for my toolbox.

Thirdly, blogging will allow me to connect with more people to discuss various topics.  I hope to have education-related discussions, especiall related to online learning and teaching.