While browsing the web for Italian podcasts and radio stations, I fell upon News in Slow Italian. I found this website to be a little more helpful than Duolingo in some ways, because you are able to listen to the news in Italian, and it is done slowly so that you can read and follow at the same time. I tried watching a movie in Italian thinking I was ready to attempt such thing, but they talk way too fast for me to understand anything. A lot of content on this website is free for beginners and you can subscribe for a fee when you get to the intermediate level or if you want to have access to the flashcards, grammar, expressions and the quizzes. All the News Stories are free to listen to and there is text that accompanies the voice. You can scroll over the red parts in the text if you do not understand what they are saying and it will give you the English translation, which is fantastic. I am not certain of how many news stories you can listen to until you need to subscribe, but I am definitely going to give it a try and attempt to get the most out of it. I enjoy learning with Duolingo, but I want to listen to actual conversations, as I believe I will learn and understand better that way, so this is a great discovery I have made. What about you, do you learn better with visuals or speech or a combination of both?
For the past week, I have been debating what I would do for my final summary of personal learning in the course of ECMP355. I saw that many students decided to list the medias and programs they used or discovered during the semester, and described them, while other chose to do a screen cast type of project. I thought I would be original and draw a concept map, but it did not really touch everything I learnt this semester and I was a little nervous that I barely used any technology for my summary of personal learning. So I went on the hunt to find a program with which I could build beautiful concept maps and I fell upon iMindMap 7. I found the presentation video beautiful and I wanted to give it a try (they offer a FREE 7 day trial). I was a little discouraged at first because I did not know how to work the program and there was not too many tutorial videos for the iMindMap 7, but I was able to find one for iMindMap 6, which is basically the same as the new version, minus a few features. With this program, I was able to make a very appealing concept map and it gave me the option to turn it into a presentation. In presentation mode, you can delete the slides you do not want, you can move slides from left to right to change the order, and you can even switch from 2D to 3D! I had a lot of fun with it and I am considering buying the program as it is a nice presentation tool that is different from Prezi and PowerPoint.
Since I have been using QuickTime to record my screen for different purposes this semester, I thought I would give Camtasia or Screenr a try, but it did not work so well. Every time it would tell me that I needed a Java plug-in and that it would not work with Google Chrome. So I downloaded the plug-in and tried it with my Safari browser without any success, I then opted for QuickTime. I also noticed that with Screenr I could only record for 5 minutes and I do not think it would have been enough time to cover everything I wanted to say (it took me a good 10 minutes).
I made a few mistakes during my presentation, but nobody is perfect. I would like to specify that Coursera does not only offer education classes, but rather a wide variety of classes, from English to Science. I noticed that I say “sweet” and “cool” a lot, nervous habit that I need to work on. I also froze when it came to the financial…. MEANS or just the money in general that some schools do not possess to go on constructive field trips. Overall I had a great semester and I have learnt things in ECMP355 that will follow me for the rest of my life, including a personal learning network!
In class this week, we looked at a kid-friendly computer programming website that allows you to create your own videos, animations, cards. What is this wonderful program? Scratch. A wide variety of teacher and students use this program for class presentations, projects, experiments, or simply just for fun. It is a great tool that allows you to let your imagination run free and it also gives you the chance to build a new work inspired by another project, allowing you to make a remix, with your own touch! I can see how many educators and learners will like this, but personally, I do not like it all that much. Why? Well I will give you my own opinion, if you have suggestions, feel free to comment down below. Maybe I am still “too new” with the program to be able to grasp the whole thing, maybe I need to do additional exploring with the application when time permits, but this is the situation here and now.
I started out by trying the program without signing up, which I have to admit is a nice thing, as you can try it to determine how you like it before having to sign up and download the program to have access to more options. Using the “Tips” option, I tried to explore all the scripts, the costumes and the sounds. Each of these categories contain elements that allow you to modify your “Sprite”, what your “Sprite” is doing and where it is located (background). The scripts section is the one where all the move programming, sound programming and effects happen. After trying out a few things after the first 10 minutes, I thought I was alright to try to make a nice and short little animation that consisted of penguins dancing around to techno music in the desert. I got the background, I got my blue and my pink penguin, I now need to make them move and bounce to techno music. This proved to be a very difficult step, and all I was able to do was to have my penguins go across the screen, horizontally, once. After spending additional minutes trying to make it work, I decided to give up and start a new animation with a monkey in a city. This try seemed to work out a tad better for me. Same original idea of a character dancing and bouncing to techno music, different animal, different background. This time I followed the tips section all over again and was able to have my monkey turn in a clockwise motion around the setting, really fast, while the techno beat looped in the back. I could not figure out how to have my monkey only go from one side of the screen, to the other, without flipping in circle, only bouncing. Maybe I just need to try once more and put additional efforts into making this animation, but I did not find this program did it for me. I wish I had a video to show you what I had accomplished, but I forgot to save the thing.
In conclusion, I believe that for someone who has the patience and grasps a little better computer programming, then this is definitely a tool you might want to use for classroom projects or just to have your student learn about computer programming while having fun. If you have any suggestions on how the many uses of Scratch, tips or just general comments, please leave a comment in the comment section! Here is a Scratch project you could do: a fun video game (I could not even pass the GREEN, too hard haha).
This is a nice video we were introduced to in ECMP 355 and it could be a useful tool for ECS 210 students to leave their peers quality comments. These kids have it all together and they are fun to watch. This video could be something to use as well as a preservice teacher who is teaching students about blogging in the classroom. Here it is, let me know what you think!
Today, I watched a very interesting documentary about downloading music/movies online, copyright and remixing. Although I had some mixed feelings at the beginning of the documentary, I definitely had a clear opinion in the end. In my opinion, I have always thought that music downloading was bad and that if you would get caught, it was the artist that would be suing you, but it is not. Big companies will be the ones taking action if they realize someone is trying to steal their song or character, by copying or modifying it. For example, if I choose a song and decide to change the pitch in it and mash it up with another sample that I slowed down and a bass drum, so basically creating something totally new that has never been done before, I am doing so illegally. That is ridiculous. As they point out in the documentary, humans have always looked back on the past and used items from the past, to upgrade or modify, in a way to create something new. It has always been that way, that is how we evolve, how our minds get more creative. But those big companies are trying to take all the credit for it and limit our creativity, our ways of expression. In addition to that, we they sue you, the money they get goes to the big company, not the artist, and let me tell you, it is a lot of money!
From a preservice teacher perspective, I have found certain links with what I am currently learning in my education classes. We aim for social justice and we try to achieve that through collaboration and sharing of ideas with colleagues or other teachers around the globe. By sharing, we can therefore think outside of the box and add to the original idea someone might of given us. How is this any different from creating new forms of art? Or science? We have the freedom to speech and expression and these big companies and government will try to take it from us. For these reasons, I do not look at music downloading the same way anymore. If I really love the artist and have been following them for a long time, yes I will actually buy their album, but if it’s only one song, I am sure the artist would not be bothered by the fact I downloaded their song and then decided to modify it to create something new and funky! This might sound a little confusing, but in my opinion, it really depends on the situation. I believe that the majority of artist out there would be proud to hear they have been part of your new invention or that they might have been a source of inspiration to you.
What will I chose to tell my students about the matter? I will definitely show them this video, if it is age appropriate, and let them make a decision for themselves. If any of them have questions about the film, I will gladly help them out as much as I can by doing research on the subject. This movie would also be a great start for a group discussion about social justice, media and technology. What are your thoughts on music downloading, remixing and copyright? Do you download a lot of music and do you feel bad about it? Why is that?
In the short story Teaching in the undertow from The New Teacher Book, Gregory Michie demonstrates the importance of new teachers to keep focus on their goals. As a beginner in the profession, you must start with something small and always remember to look at the bigger picture when it comes to evaluating your teaching methods. By starting with something small, teachers are not exhausting themselves trying to reach a very big goal that is harder and that contains more challenges. New teachers have to follow specific plans. You want the content that you are presenting to the classroom to be meaningful and to make a difference in the student’s perspectives. Therefore, you have to work really hard at finding reliable sources and exciting content to introduce into your days. Also, teachers should not post-pone finding information and planning because you will eventually fall behind, opening the door to the “easy” content and methods, and having a direct impact on the students. It is also important to develop connections with colleagues, superiors and people from the community in order to get some tips, ideas or even have them evaluate your work to tell you what you need to be working on or what you need to cut out from your teaching methods. Instead of focusing on the negative and thinking that you are not making any difference by teaching against oppression, you have to keep in mind the positive aspects. Examining what went well in your classroom helps. You might not see the impact of your teaching right away, but like everything else, it takes time and you will see that you are making a difference if you are patient!