Friday, March 28, 2014

Are SmartBoards really smarter?

Photo retrieved from kylejsmith's Flickr
For my Creating Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments course, one of our assignments was to create a FlipChart presentation using a software called ActivInspire. I've never in my LIFE used any type of software associated with SmartBoards or Promethean Boards, so it was a struggle. It was a group project, thank goodness, because it took me most of the work-time trying to wrap my mind around the purpose of a Promethean Board. We're almost done with the project and to be honest, I'm still not sure how it all works. I haven't seen any SmartBoards or Promethean Boards being used in any of my field experience so far, and my former high school didn't have that technology yet, so I'm clueless. I'm hoping our project will come together and do the job.

All in all, I think I hate this project. I've been excited about a lot of other topics and themes of my technology courses, so I think it's fair that I can hate one. This is it! From my understanding of the software, I think that FlipCharts and Promethean Boards are simply using technology for the purpose of using technology. I don't think it really aids in any learning for the students unless you're really, really good at creating FlipCharts. 

Our FlipChart project was intended to aid our Project-Based Learning theme about American Identity. I'm working with a group of English majors (because apparently English and Spanish are similar majors...haha!) and none of us really had any idea what we were doing. Through our FlipChart presentation we have a Venn Diagram, a quiz, a video, and a blog prompt. To me, it seems like a PowerPoint Presentation that you can interact with. In my opinion, I think I could create the same lesson without using a Promethean Board that would be equally as cool and engaging for my students. How do would you use a SmartBoard or Promethean board to boost student learning?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Facing new challenges...

This semester I'm taking quite a lot of Educational Technology classes to finish up my minor. I feel like I'm constantly working on this project or that project because of the triad of technology-related courses, but it's keeping me on my toes and pushing me to new challenges; I like that. I've been challenged to think outside the box, create things with software I haven't used before, shoot videos with equipment I'm unfamiliar with, and take photos with a new perspective on photography. Although some of these projects don't relate directly with education, it's keeping my creativity up and giving me ideas for how to use various technology as a teacher!

Recently in my Technology & Human Communication course, we were instructed to create a video using already made clips from YouTube (or anywhere on the internet, really). Our challenge was to take two pieces of visual media and mash them together to create something new with a different meaning or to make a statement. My project is called "16 Going on 17" and it showcases my opinion of the changes the typical teenager has seen throughout the last century. I used clips from fairly iconic "teen" visual media to do this. You can check it out below!

Currently I'm working on a How-To video for another class called Multi-Media Planning & Production. I've mentioned before that I'm a Resident Assistant, so I thought a fun, familiar theme would be how to confront residents who are drinking alcohol. I used some fellow RAs and some of my residents to act in my video and I just finished shooting it all today. I'm excited to edit it soon, and I'll post it to my blog as soon as it's finished!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spotlight on STEM at UNI!

When I heard that I was supposed to attend a couple sessions at the "Spotlight on STEM Day" for my Creating Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments class, I wasn't very excited. Last Friday, UNI hosted a small technology-related conference called Spotlight on STEM. We were instructed to go to a different building to sit in on a couple presentations. I was expecting an older person giving a lecture-type presentation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we got to listen to (and participate in) a presentation led by kids!

Retrieved from
I sat in on a session in the afternoon called "Human Body: My body! ALIVE!" which was a presentation about an interdisciplinary unit that covered, you guessed it, the human body! An elementary teacher from Decorah, Iowa, and a few kids from her class presented about the unit: they spoke about what they did and what they learned and how they went about it. They even had us stand up and sing and dance with them! We got to do "The Skeletal Pokey" which is quite similar to the Hokey Pokey, but focuses on bones. It was very cool to listen to a teacher speak about a lesson while her students were right there with her, reinforcing the fact that the lesson was engaging and COOL! Her lesson incorporated science, math, technology and physical activity; it was a very wide variety of topics that were brought together and made a lot of sense!

I really enjoyed the presentations at the Spotlight day at UNI, however I wish I could have seen something targeted a little more toward my age-level that I want to teach. Listening to the kids was great, but I felt like I didn't walk away with any information or resources I can take with me after I leave UNI. However, just because it doesn't apply to my Spanish specialties doesn't mean that it isn't a great opportunity for other pre-service teachers! A large majority of my CTELE class is Elementary-focused, so I hope they gained a lot from participating in Spotlight on STEM Day!