Today, Thursday, October 29, 2009 is not only the day that our final projects are due, but it is also our classmate, Candice Dagnino's birthday....tweet on #JHUSM to find out how old she is turning...or I can just tell you: 24!!!!!!
This is officially the first paperless card I have sent out...reaching more people and broadcasting it on the social network (hopefully not embarrassing her too much, haha)
Wish her a happy one cause she's a truly special girl :)
I couldn't get SL to fully download on my personal computer since we were first exposed to it so I've been making some visits to my local Enoch Pratt public library to put my avatar to work! Which brings me back to an earlier post (see "Avatars and Authenticity"). My avatar name is Ang Luckstone...the name still makes me giggle. But it reminds me when I was younger and had to create a screen name on AIM that was sort of an offshoot of my identity and name, but still only those who I chatted with really knew the person to whom it belonged. In SL, there is an actual visual being on the screen to further accentuates the identity of the person behind the name. So I made sure my avatar looks somewhat like me and is clad in a form of "professional attire" that I might wear when at work at my school or professional development events in my real life -- right down to the hair pulled back and the light pink dress and shoes, haha. I figured this way, my digital professional development for me would align more closely to the physical events I take part in as a teacher in Baltimore city. And I could take myself and my identity more seriously on SL as well.
In addition to roaming around to other countries and events during the handful of times that I've been on SL, there were 3 events that I have enjoyed attending and benefitted from for my professional life. The first was an ISTE Eduverse Talk last week (Oct. 13th) that was called "Demystifying Grants." It was a talk that featured Jim Vanides, the Program Manager for HP's Technology for Teaching Initiative. Cool, right?! It took place in the ISTE Broadcast Studio so I was able to be a member in the audience and hear him and the other panelists talking, along with other audience members who could ask questions. There was not a mic at the library computer, so unfortunately I could participate to that degree, but still was able to listen in on the talk just fine. Jim talked from his standpoint on writing up ideas for ed grants and also reading over the proposals, so he had a good advice on how to fill out a grant app as an education professional, and stand out against the thousands of other apps that stream in for education technology funding and materials. I really needed to see (and hear) this, as I have been holding off for over a year to apply for 2 different grants for my school -- one for a Smartboard, Elmo photo projector, and a video projector for my school (can anyone say wish list!!!?!), and another for funding for my school's fine arts initiative that I am teaming up with the other resource teachers at my school (art, instrumental music, dance, theater arts) to write up and send out an application. The talk definitely gave me the urge to overcome the somewhat overwhelming feeling of applying for an educational tech grant app that I have felt since I first became a teacher. Thanks, Mr. Vanides!
Second, I decided to leave ISTE Island altogether and visit another country only a few short minutes after this Eduverse talk ended. I went to a Spanish street forum/event/festival thing that I stumbled upon in a SL setting in Madrid, mainly to see the avatar version of where I lived and studied about 3 years ago. I tried chatting with some avatars, which was difficult because of the event going on, but managed to find a IBM technician (in SL named Soto Anles) and a salesman (w/ SL name Ave Mascarenhas) to chat with...in Spanish, and I told them I was a Spanish teacher in Baltimore, MD :) Save the plane ticket, money exchange, hotel cost, and so forth, and get on SL for a digital foreign country experience!
Today, I went to a third event that I was able to attend to actually help out my first-year secondary English teacher roommate. It was the first part of the 2009 SL College Fair that took place on the International School Island. My roommate teaches juniors and seniors in high school who are prospective college students. I was able to visit slideshow booths that colleges and universities created for the fair that was full of info for her to bring back to her students...especially since she has to help them this semester with writing their college admission essays. We focused on gaining that info at a ton of college booths, including Towson, UNC, Florida State U, East Carolina, University of Michigan, IUP, St. John's, and many more. I think there were almost 50 schools at the event, so now I can understand why the event is 2 days long! If you still want to check it out -- there's time! It's free to attend for prospective students and fair visitors...teleport to the entrance towers on the International School Island for the last day of the event, Sunday, 10/25. Enjoy!
I can definitely use this link to guide my students in comparing/contrasting American holidays and celebrations to those of Hispanic cultures for my foreign language classroom. I was searching for more visual social tech sources for my classroom, and this was a good spot! If you click on the circle links at the top of the page, you can also find accompanying bios, timelimes, geography sources, links on pastimes/hobbies, and music and video clips! I also like how the text that accompanies the photo sources is student-friendly. Also applicable for social studies and English content areas. Check it out for yourself!
After reading "I See Dead People: Kurt Cobain and The Humanity of Avatars," it struck me how the evolution of technology is shaping the legal world. Just a few years ago, this would never have been a possibility or issue that would come up and call for legal representation, even among celebrities. Before reading the article, I didn't even know creating an avatar was that popular or had that much of an effect on one's identity that one would need a lawyer to defend his/her online image -- in this case, Kurt Cobain's. I feel this issue further proves how essential it is to ensure that you are aware of how you are represented online, and that you take full control of this portrayal on the dynamic social network.
Out of the number of multimedia apps we explored in class, I am now obsessed with Hulu.com. I don't even watch my TV to flip through channels or put on DVDs anymore. I can see all of my favorite TV shows (current and old), as well as a number of movies for FREE on this site. As a social media site, it also allows me to easily share and embed these shows and movies with all of my friends and family who like to follow the same shows that I do -- especially if we missed it on primetime television or want to save money from renting a DVD. Did I mention I'm obsessed? Check it out for yourself at Hulu.com.
So Tuesday nights at 7PM on #edchat on Twitter is the place to be...Why waste your precious time at pointless PDs when you can attend one here in real time, and ask useful questions tailored to your personal needs in the classroom from a whole network of teachers across the globe?! That is my experience. I particularly like following the article posts that contain ideas I can use the very next day in the classroom, or tweak to make work for my foreign language content.
2) Google Apps for Educators: "Google Lit Trips" (6th-12th Grade)
The classroom activity I decided to look further into under Google Apps for Educators is the "Google Lit Trip." Under this app, students are able to use Google Earth and map out where the text we are using is taking them as they read, so they can interactively work with the static text they are reading. One Lit Trip that I could probably use during one of my Afro-Latino lessons is "We All Went on Safari" by Laurie Krebs to take my students through an interactive African safari where some Afro-Latino cultures still exist, and even teach my students how to count in Swahili...awesome for my foreign language classroom!
3) Extra Credit assignment: Reaction to Obama's address on education
Certain homeroom teachers at my school showed the Obama address at lunchtime on their classroom TVs. At the start of our school day, some of these teachers commented how parents were concerned that we were going to show the speech. Even though the majority of our school community supports our new President, some disagreed with our use of live political viewings, saying our students wouldn't understand it and would be swayed....ISN'T THAT WHY THEY ARE IN SCHOOL, HOWEVER?!!? Their teachers are there to unbiasedly address these "teachable moments" for their students to benefit from them and interact more fully with the world around them -- outside of the classroom and even their Baltimore City neighborhood. During the showing, I even heard some elementary teachers synthesizing what President Obama said into student-friendly terms, like the importance of staying in school and developing a love of learning, as well as finishing school. It also reminded teachers to keep expectations high on the classroom and to teach students how to be responsible students AND citizens. The student responses showed how many of the elementary and middle school students were inspired by his words, and I later heard from some parents were pleased/impressed when their children went home that afternoon and actually told THEM about certain ideas in the speech.