For this project, I created a screencast in which the learners go through a worked example of drawing a Lewis structure. Because the video is a flash video, I had trouble embedding it on this blog. So, I created a Learning Log on Blogger that allows the interactive part to work. Here is a link to that post.
The content of that post is below:
This screen cast is a worked example for drawing a Lewis structure in Chemistry class. The video takes a Chemistry student through a review of how to draw a Lewis Structure. It then gives the learner a chance to do an example on their own. I wanted to create an interactive experience for the learner in which they are able to pace the work on their own. Unfortunately, I ran into a slew of issues with this. In the end, I needed to place the video here in Blogger rather than WordPress. I know there are better workarounds to accomplish what I was looking for, but time was an issue. I do plan to explore the technology needed to make links within videos a bit more in the future.
Here is the worked example (note, to click “Continue” the video must be watched in full screen format, otherwise the progress bar masks it.) (This is where the interactive video should go, but it doesn’t work in WordPress.
For this worked example, I wanted to begin by giving the the learners a look at what a Lewis structure is to to familiarize them with the vocabulary and the symbols involved. This pre-training would allow them to focus on the procedure, rather than wondering about the symbols. I then proceeded to work through the example step by step. At each step, the learner has the control of whether they feel confidence enough to continue or if they needed to review that step again. Using the segmenting principle puts control of the learning in the users hands. At the end, the learner’s are given a summary of the steps and the option to replay the lesson as a whole or to move on to try an example on their own. The example ends with the option of seeing the actual solution. This example, would help a learner achieve far transfer for the material covered.
One thing to note is that I had some trouble deciding who the learner actually was. I decided to create a video that I could share with my Chemistry class after this material had been presented. It is not meant to be a replacement lecture, but rather a step-by-step worked example of something they should be somewhat familiar with.
For this project, we reviewed some of the elements that make for a good digital story and then set to work in creating our own. My story is about a local legend surrounding a a lost stash of gold. It is a story of the desire to push into a world of adventure and the difficulties we have in doing that. I found this project challenging in the very best sense of the word. Technically I struggled at times (especially when it comes to the so-called “Ken Burns” effect), but it all came together eventually. Even as I finished, I felt that I really wanted to spend more time smoothing out some of the wrinkles that I see in the finished project. I can see how filmmakers can get lost in their work. For me, I simply ran out of time. Maybe I’ll work on it again someday…
It was fun to develop a story that is personal. Having looked through a number of the examples given, I was struck by the fact that so many has a sad theme. In developing my own story, I wanted to be positive and see if I could create a compelling story that still had meaning. In the end, I was happy with the story as it turned out. Because it was so personal and real, the application of the personalization principle was quite natural to use. Using a natural, conversational tone allows viewers to get a bit lost, hopefully, in the story being told. It allows for a deeper connection with the message of the story.
As far as the use of digital storytelling goes, I see a great deal of potential for its use in a classroom. While I did have some difficulty with the technical aspects of the story, with some practice, it seems easy enough to pass the “how-to’s” along to students. I can envision English classes analyzing novels or making short pieces about Shakespearean soliloquies. Foreign Language classes could easily make use of this concept by having students create stories in the language they are studying. Overall, this seems like a fairly versatile type of project.
For this assignment, I created a podcast called “Science/Fiction” (or perhaps Science-Slash-Fiction” to add emphasis to the slash). The idea behind this podcast was to spark the imagination of the listeners. As a Science teacher, all too often I see student that become disenchanted with science because so much of it seems to be fact memorization. While I can sit back and be amazed by the work of Charles Darwin or Gregor Mendel, student don’t see it that way. So, I wanted to create a podcast that reminded listeners that there is a connection between real-world science and science fiction. Through this series, listeners will see connections between dreams of the past and the realities of the future (or present).
In the pilot episode, the four topics I chose to look at were the possibility of bringing extinct species back to life using their DNA, parasites that infect the brain of their hosts turning them into zombies, the ins and outs of time travel and science fiction devices that will soon be a reality.
This was a very enjoyable assignment. While I can’t say I am natural at podcasting, I do feel like the process is a great learning experience that helps you delve deeply into topics that are interesting. I would love to make this particular podcast a series in which my students are the contributors.
What is the daily experience of most teachers? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it is, sadly, a fairly isolated experience. I plan my lessons on my own, I prep them on my own, I deliver them on my own and evaluate their effectiveness on my own. Do I do a good job? I like to think so. I also work hard to stay innovative and to make the work and learning interesting for my students. When push comes to shove, however, my students are working in isolation much the same as I am. They are studying Biology (or Chemistry, or whatever subject I happen to be teaching) in isolation from other disciplines. Sure, I like to slip in historical context when I can and I certainly help them through math skills, but the reality is that this type of isolation just isn’t real…except in school.
What happens when the students toss their caps and head off into the real world? They are asked to complete projects for work that integrate all of the subjects they learned separately in school. In some ways it seems like learning to hit a golf ball by learning small parts of the golf swing, the initial takeaway, taking the club up, starting the downswing, etc., from different coaches, only to ever take a full swing when it really counts- on the course. Chances are the first few times you try that full swing, it will be awkward and not so successful. The same goes for those first integrated, real-world projects. Awkward and, perhaps, unsuccessful.
What would serve the students better? An integrated curriculum. A curriculum in which they develop English skills, Math skills, Science skills and all of their other skills through work on the same project. A chance to see how the world connects outside the classroom walls. Imagine a student who spent their time in school in this fashion as they attack that new, but familiar real-world project when they get their first job. To say the least, they will be better off for the experience thay had in school.
So how does a school deliver such an experience? To be honest, I don’t know. It seems to take dedicated teachers, hard work and long hours. What I do see, however, is that the first step is to create a culture of collaboration. Administrations must make this a priority. Creating lines of communication between faculty members is the essential first step to building an integrated curriculum. Perhaps replacing faculty meetings with grade-level check-ins is a start. Simply getting teachers together to talk about what they are teaching and how they are teaching it. Can’t you just imagine the conversation as teachers begin to see the overlap in their subject matter. It seems to me, it wouldn’t take much for that conversation to turn into an idea for small-scale collaboration, which could lead to…who knows.
The reality is that such conversation would not likely turn into a fully integrated curriculum. That type of teaching is just too complex to come by through sheer enthusiasm. But, the conversation is the starting point. The communication between the people students spend their day with. The realization that there are common goals and ways to make every subject more relevant, real and meaningful.
I like the sound of that.