After hours of checking, drafting, editing and then finally publishing, I have my curriculum page ready. Most students are still working on their projects, as FCAT was a bear. But I hope by next week to have the students present, and fine tune their projects.
Friday, April 15, 2011
A rubric to grade? What’s that?
As I first glanced at my assignment this week I saw a rubric, which seemed logical in terms of the order of activities we have been creating in our technology class. But I was not looking forward to it because I assumed that we would be using Microsoft Excel. There isn’t anything wrong with that, except you have to build from the ground up. As building a bird house from one piece of wood, and having to cut and sand each piece. But a great website was offered to us called iRubric, which is part of the Rcampus website. This is like having a kit to make what you need for your birdhouse ready to take out of the box and just put it together. IRubric was better that I could have expected, there were elements that I could add rows and columns just as if it were an Excel project. The other great features were placing percentages and setting points, which in turn can be quickly clicked on in order to grade an assignment.
By now you’re probably wondering what the purpose is for using a rubric to grade projects. This type of assignment is considered hands-on and using alternative assessment is the preferred method for grading a project that is hands-on. In contrast some traditional assessments are usually the plan old tests that require just basic questions that have to be answered. This type of assessment evaluates the performance of students to follow directions and complete tasks. The hands-on activity allows for a broader spectrum of learners and a wider variety of results. The point of a rubric is to assess the core elements are completed and allows for the creative part to be endless. This type of assessment is usually given to students before they start the project so that they can center their work on what the overall goal is for completing the project, in the eyes of the teacher.
I started with adding enough rows and columns to accommodate what I needed to be assessed. I made categories with a weighted percentage that equals one hundred percent. The reason behind this was because it is common practice for grading scales to be based on a 0-100% scale. I chose the story map components and plot to be the most important so I weighted them the heaviest. I felt that without these goals being met a summary on a book just wouldn’t make sense. I chose sequence of events as an important concept because the summary needs to be in order to make sense. Also, students need to be accountable for their mastery of technology as another key category because the technology was taught to them and I needed show their abilities to use technology correctly. I finally felt as this was a language project that conventions needed to be correct in order to fit in the “well above average” category.
I then chose a 5 point scale across for each of the above categories to show their level of mastery. Since the percentages alone can be confusing to most. I decided that a completely correct project would be worth 25 points, which is the normal point value that I use for class work. The best part was that using the iRubric site I can just click and the score can be calculated in points and a percentage.
This project showed me how far Excel is away from some teacher made websites for rubrics. As I thought I was going to start from a blank Excel sheet, the iRubric site made my task much more productive and successful. As I went through and reviewed my rubric I felt that it was a bit overbearing but remembering the writing rubrics that we use I thought this made a clear picture to what I wanted students to accomplish. I felt by simply using the rubric an above average grade could be obtainable. I think that this clearly shows my expectations and will help students to maintain the quality of their project. I think some improvements on the rubric would be to downsize. I could use this project multiple times and focus on specific elements of the story. Instead of focusing on all elements I could assess which elements needed to be worked on by students and have students use Prezi to practice the skills that they needed work on. Overall I enjoyed the project and was pleased with the results.
Friday, April 8, 2011
This week I was given the task of creating a sample project for students to base their digital story on. I have asked for students to decide on their favorite book, or a book that they enjoyed and to write a story summary. They are to include story map elements like settings, characters, plot, and use describing words or phrases to recount what they read about. I also wanted them to include images in order to create a multimedia story. I decided to leave out audio as this will be their first time with the Prezi program.I teach fifth grade Language Arts and summarizing with story element development is important at this level of reading. It is mandated that I teach 90 minutes of reading each day. This type of project can take away from one class’s progress through the year’s order of instruction, mainly because I need a computer lab to conduct group instruction. I decided a few things would need to be put in place. I first talked with my principal about the project, talked to the computer lab teacher, and the homeroom teacher to keep everyone well notified of what I was having students do as a Language project. I of course had to create a Prezi for each student, allow them to be invited to be an editor of the project. What this means is that they are given an URL to get to their project, and are invited to work on it. As an ideal situation I would have students that all have computer access at home with their own e-mail accounts and just e-mail them the invitation link. Prezi actually has a function that allows you to “invite an editor”. This can be one or multiple students working on the same project from all different locations. The problem is not all students have computers at home and none have their own e-mail account. Which at this age I think is a good idea. I used my OCPS e-mail account and created a separate project for each student. Then I created a letter, which I had approved by my principal, that had my curriculum page URL and their “invitation” URL. This first week they are to play around with the program, and get past the wow factor so they are ready to create. Prezi is a great help because it give a short tutorial for students to see what they can do with the program. I of course choose one class, instead of all three of my classes just for the sake of managing students and getting used to a facilitator role rather than a direct instructor role.
This week I will meet the students during their computer lab time to go over some specific concepts and directions for them to follow to complete this project. I then will have them use their book pick to tell about the setting, characters and summarize the plot of the story. Their next task after using print to complete the story map is to include graphics. I told students that they can use http://www.images.google.com , or they can draw pictures which I can scan or they can ask for pictures from the book to be scanned for their project so they can insert them to create their multimedia digital story. I have created a curriculum page so that they can easily access these pictures. I will scan them and place them in a folder for them to access. Since scanning takes so long, I can do this at home, and they can work from home in order to increase the accessibility of their project and the material they need to complete it.
My most important goals are to have students work on their story structure skills and to show me that they can express these skills in a new way by creating a digital story. I also think that it is important for them to access the Web and gain a healthy understanding of how to use the Internet for their preparations to be more independent for middle school and beyond. Normally, I have students do the basic pencil and paper story map. This is where they read a short book then fill in the parts for story elements. This will hopefully make them excited to complete tasks like summarizing, plot development and character development. I think as access to work stations or computer becomes available then it will be easier to complete project like this as common practice not just a huge learning experience as it is now. I see that I need to continue to work and practice my facilitating of this type of assignments. I definitely didn’t realize the time it would take to get students set up for this project. But as I continue to facilitate these types of projects I’m sure that I will become better at distributing the needed components students need to be successful. At this stage I feel I am still building the project and after the first run will see the mistakes I need to fix, but also will have a base to work from for the next time I have students complete a Prezi.
I think I could improve by more planning time, and more practicing on my own. I am still finding myself discovering new things to do. I also am finding points of frustration, which take awhile to figure out. Then the light bulb goes on and I have discovered more aspects of Prezi. As for other types of Digital Storytelling ideas, I hope to visit and explore other sites with other programs. It almost seem like I am a commercial for Prezi and it is the best thing out there. As I have learned, especially in this class, there are more things that are undiscovered then things that we have discovered when it comes to Internet resources. Last, for my example for students to view and build upon, I used my favorite book that I read to my son. I hope you enjoy the example.
Friday, April 1, 2011
A way to communicate with today’s “Networked Student” is through a curriculum page. The type of software that a webpage can be created from can vary, but the platform used for this particular curriculum page is wiki based. Now wiki is sort of a strange word and it may be asked why this should be a top pick for teachers to use as a maintained curriculum page. The idea of a wiki page is to compile a collection of pages, files and other important items that a teacher wants students to view. It provides such features as easily collaborating with all students by creating a page that can be commented on. All of a sudden you have created a blog, without having a separate site. I used a site called PBworks.com there is also another site called wikispaces at www.wikispaces.com . The start of my curriculum page is:
I used a template, which is a guideline for specific tasks, to create my page. Looking ahead I made pages for a project to have students create a digital story, in order to summarize a story that they have read, or plan to read for this presentation. These pages include a main page that introduces my project, provides some information about the wikisite, and has a sidebar or menu on the side that directs users to other places. This contains some planned future projects like a lesson plan, a grading rubric, and a place where student’s work will be displayed. I placed my own Prezi, to give students and explanation and example of what I wanted as a baseline for their project. One of the most interesting ideas presented was how I can compress files, like a can, to make more room. This is called zipping which may not be used right away, but as time goes on and more projects are added, I will need to make space for future projects. The reason why I need to make space is because like attaching files to e-mails, as we all like to e-mail pictures, compressing files is a must because I am aloud only so much storage space on the site. This is how some software can fit on a single disk, you may notice when installing a software application that a message says that “unzipping” or “unpacking” is being executed in order to install the application
As I started the process of creating a Wikispace curriculum page, I felt it didn’t give me enough creative elbow room. I then created a PBworks curriculum page, and felt it was more challenging, but I had more options. I did however, spend more time learning the ins and outs rather than creating. I wanted to be sure that it was the right fit, even though it is harder I think to use and I probably should stick with Wikispaces, I think that I’m going to try to give myself a bit more of a challenge. The purpose of these wikis are to give a more user friendly way to create a website instead of having to use HTML code. As I used some formats from a site called Web Quest at http://webquest.sdsu.edu/templates/lesson-template1.htm. This was very helpful as were the examples that past students had completed and our instructor provided. Which looking at the projects I saw a much broader spectrum of designs. I felt that the Wikispaces had some of the same themes, and I wanted something more unique. I observed the PBworks projects and saw such variety I had to try it. So that leads me to what improvements I need to make.
I will need to spend more time just figuring out the capabilities of my wiki, part of which I discovered was how to correctly embed a Prezi. I tried the embedding process that I used on my blog, but that didn’t seem to work. After some trial and error I found out that I needed to “insert” the HTML code for embedding provided by the Prezi site. As when I tried just the code I got a blank screen telling me that my Prezi didn’t exist. So going back into what I have learned so far this semester I solved the problem and figured out the HTML was the basis of the wiki and inserting the code directly would have a positive result. I additional will add such projects as a Rubric to grade students’ projects. Also, I add my lesson plan which contains directions on how to repeat this with the standards coved by the activity as well. Lastly, I think some different backgrounds or wallpapers on the pages will dress up the site in addition to some graphics, to incorporate more multimedia into the wiki. I think a good base has been established now the rest of the pieces need to be built up.