I like to think I’m fairly tech savvy. Every day I spend hours checking email, texting, browsing the web, Moodling, using Word, Excel, InDesign and Power Point. And yet, I’m always amazed at the little things I draw absolute blanks at.
For example, as part of this masters class I’m taking, we had to pick a program we don’t know as much as we’d like about, do some research, and create a project that showcases some groovy new skill we acquired. At first I was thinking Google docs. Afterall, my school just switched to gmail (which is a REAL pain btw, because I used to be able to have my personal email and my school email open at all times, but now since they are the same host, I can’t. I have to log out of one to see the other. I miss emails from my husband all the time.) and my principal keeps saying he’s going to be using the Google functions. So far he’s shared one document and put a few things on the calendar, so I think I might still have some time to learn.
Before I plunged into the research phase, I thought of something I’ve always wanted to do. Well, something in tech ed I’ve always wanted to do (which is sadly not nearly as exciting as say riding through the Chunnel or drinking cafe and nibbling pastries in a French bistro, but I gotta take what I can get): make a Jeopardy game with Power Point. After some research and a very long time spent putting the initial game together, I was thrilled! I had done it! I managed to make my very own review game for All Quiet on the Western Front. No longer will I be a slave to internet searches trying to find a game to fit my lessons. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. It was just time-consuming.
Even though I haven’t tried that game out, it gave me an idea for an AP rhetorical devices review, so I used the Power Point I already had saved and just reworked all the questions and answers to make one. I did it in under 30 minutes and my kids had lots of fun! It was great! This little experiment reminded me that I need to be doing more with tech. Now, I don’t need I need to be using tech more. We use it plenty. Every day my kids use Moodle for a variety of activities: journals, forums, blogs, chats, uploading work, downloading handouts, taking tests, etc. They also research, type, annotate and peer edit. In my newspaper class they even design page and manipulate photos. Ok, so they don’t actually do all of these every day, but they spend a heck of a lot of time working on the computers.
No, I’m not talking about using tech more often, but rather using tech in more ways. I want to learn how to make more learning games. I would love to figure out a way to make a Sporkle type game for the books we read (my kids are ADDICTED). I would also love to figure out ways to help them make more creative Power Points. They just did presentations that were HORRIBLY boring. They read the entire presentation to the class, and just had bullet points. I don’t know how they didn’t fall asleep watching them. I have a feeling though, that they are using what they know. I never really use Power Points in class (although when I do, I put key points on the slides and then give them all kinds of cool extra facts and some nifty pictures). But maybe I need to. At least to model for them how they can be very affective and interesting. I need to learn how to insert more video and music clips into my the program, and then use it to show them something they’ll really like.
Another area I’d like to improve in is the use of the Flip Cameras I have in my room. The editing software on them is not great, but I need to learn how to use it better. I also need to figure out how to import the videos into better editors. I’d love to layer videos with actual edits, music, text, etc. I’m actually using my tech class to help me a bit. I’m planning to make a video as part of a group project, and hoping that I can learn the program better.
Now, I know it is big talk to start listing all the things I want to do. It’s another thing to actually try them. I have three areas of focus right now. First, I want to try my hand at making some new review games. I’m content to make a few more Jeopardy boards, but I do want to move beyond that. Second, I want to learn to edit video better. Finally, I need to learn some more tricks in InDesign (the publishing software we use for newspaper). I think InDesign is going to be the easiest to conquer. My current plan of attack is to ask my managing editor for a tutorial. She is really quite good with it and I’m hoping she can show me some of the tricks. When we go to lay the paper out this month, I’m going to have the kids quiz me over how to do everything they do. In addition, when they have questions, I’m going to go to the tutorial in the program and figure out how to answer them. If I keep doing a little at every lay out session, I should have a pretty good handle on it by the time the school year ends…just in time to prep the new editors.
As for the video software, this project is going to be my first big push toward learning it. I would like to use the cameras next nine weeks in my Novels class and work with the kids to edit their videos. I think that by helping them trouble shoot and make movies, I’ll learn the program even better.
Now, as for the games, I’m probably going to have to put that off until Christmas break. I have way too much to do right now. The grading for the two AP classes is nearly swallowing me whole. Not to mention that I am planning two classes for the first time. There just isn’t any time to mess around trying to make new games.
Speaking of time, I have to go. As much as I love blogging, these muckraking articles aren’t going to grade themselves, and grades are due on 8 days. This would be far less daunting if the pile of grading wasn’t slowly becoming taller than me. Sigh….