I’ve been exploring wikis this past week or so. I can’t get my wiki to do what I want. Ideally, I could list all the shared files that my co-worker Natalie and I share. I also tried to embed the youtube video of wikis into the wiki so I could show Natalie so we could start using the wiki.
After pouting for a moment I decided to check out my classmates’ blogs. This is what I found
Carrie’s blog took me to the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis (she’s involved with flat classroom too!) The Cool Cat Teacher Blog gave me a lot of motivation for using wikis in the classroom. It sounds like wikis are a part of daily life in her classroom and the content is created by students. Lots of processing is going on for the kids and they are able to access it at school or home.
1) Click on your file and then go to Advanced –> “Convert selection to AAC”
2) This creates a second file with the same name. I’m not sure why or how to tell them apart… One of the files was a .aif file and the other was a .m4a file. I figured that I should use the .m4a file because based on the “Last Updated” time it was the later one. (I am SURE that I will come back to edit this and sound more knowledgable…)
3) Then I went into my blog and added media. I found the .mp4 file and uploaded it to the blog.
I just read a blog by Carrie, a classmate of mine, and she shared a wealth of information on podcasting. One tip I got from her blog is that students need to have a complete script with them when recording. That seems obvious to us as adults, but I am sure that I will need to require the script as a graded assignments to help my 8th graders record efficiently. We don’t have time for every student to do 5 attempts at recording. I’m going to list recording steps from the Apple support site, with some extra information mixed in from me.
1) Make sure you have Garage Band software on your computer and a microphone connected (if your computer does not have a built-in mike)
2) Click on the + sign for a new track, and then choose “Real Instrument
3) Select the vocal setting that you want to use
4) Turn the gate on by clicking on “details” (the gate helps to eliminate noise when you are not speaking… which is good for the noisy classroom setting)
5) Connect headphones to the computer to reduce noice from the speakers in your recording.
6) This part was confusing for me, because there was a grand piano track above my vocal track that I couldn’t figure out how to remove. But I made sure to click on my vocal track so the red button was lit, and then a clicked on the red record button and started talking.
7) Save your file into iTunes (I made a folder called “My Podcasts” in iTunes so it would be easier to find later). Go to File –> then “Export to iTunes”. Once your file is in iTunes you can organize it into a folder if you want.
I started with the Apple website and found a section on podcasting in Garage Band. They suggest planing your podcast in advance, which is always a good tip when producing high-quality work. I feel that students will almost naturally reach for pen and paper to plan (or perhaps a word doc), as we constantly prompt them to use graphic organizers before they write, and index cards to plan a speech. Apple gives a podcast “recipe”:
shoot for a show length of 20-30 minutes
keep topics moving, and limit topic coverage to 5-8 minutes
try to use guests as a way to break up the conversation
Use musical backgrounds (jingles) or other non-musical interludes between topics. These small breaks are sometimes called bumpers or sweepers, and give listeners time to digest what’s been said.
For my students, part of the virtual science fair project I’ve been planning includes a podcast. I had a show length of a much shorter time frame planned, but perhaps I should re-evaluate. Ultimately, our only obstacle with a long show length is having the space to upload 90 podcasts onto each of the student’s webpages on our server. I can’t imagine that we’d run out of space, but I’ll need to check with my media specialist to confirm before I make a final rubric.
I’m still trying to figure out the Flat Classroom Project. So far I understand that there are two main places to look for information- the wiki and the Ning space. On the wiki, you can reach each of the participating schools’ wikis. On the Ning space, everyone participating in the project posts information, uploads media, and contributes to discussions. I noticed a new post on the Ning for the Flat Classroom about the Horizon Project. It’s described as the sister project to Flat Classroom. The Horizon Project Ning page is broken into smaller subgroups with very interesting topics (that are relevant to our class discussions). Some of the topics include:
I surfed through some of the information posted on each of the subtopics, and it seems that students are in charge of researching and reporting on each topic in a small group. Some groups were not getting along, based on the postings, and I can imagine that it would be frustrating to collaborate with people who lived all over the world. It can be challenging enough for students to get things done when they are all sitting at the same table, let alone add in different locations, time zones, work styles, and personality differences (amplified by cultural differences). I think it is valuable for students to participate, but can imagine that teachers need to support their students in a variety of ways in order to make the interaction a positive one.
My media specialist first introduced me to the world of wikis, and I created one but never added any information. At the time, it seemed too difficult to navigate and so I quit. Now that I’m taking a course that involves communicating online I see the value of a wiki- multiple people from different locations can use it to communicate. Some people in our class already use them for their teams at school. My goal is to create on for our science team. I think it would reduce the number of emails that we send and also organize shared information online. One of my goals for this class is to make my life (especially my teacher life) more efficient. I’d like my team wiki to have:
shared lesson plans (we can go back and edit them after reflecting on a lesson)
purchasing information (a budget tally of how much we have left to spend)
a to do list
shared equipment status (ex: sarah’s class needs the microscopes until Friday)
links to websites we use often
strategies that others can benefit from (ex: I’ll be trying an Interwrite board for the first time this school year)
I joined the Flat Classroom Project, but my membership had to be “reviewed”. Finally, I got an email saying that I was an official member. When we did a google search in class and I checked my name, the Flat Classroom site came up first with my name and I took a screenshot. I am member #237. So I’ve been exploring the project to see how teachers can use it in the classroom. I’ve noticed that participating classes use a Ning to interact and communicate in a variety of ways such as:
.mp3’s from students (the music seems to actually be created BY the students)
discussion board postings
individual school Nings and wikis
videos (some are for fun, some are created by students with an instructional purpose)
Here is an example of a student-produced instructional video:
I’m watching Good Morning America… and suddenly I hear the name Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat. He’s talking about Obama and foreign policy, but if his book is on GMA, it must be current, which makes the flat classroom project even more compelling to me.