Technology Pursuit

Blending Technology Into the Language Arts Classroom

Category: Language Arts

Studying Word Choice & Mood with Macbeth

For my multimedia class, I had to create a video with captions, images, and music, so I set up a tentative project for my students to choose a soliloquy/monologue from Macbeth and do a similar video, probably in Animoto.

But once  I’d made my video on the dagger scene (see above), I realized I suddenly had a quick prop for our final dagger scene wrap up day.

Using the sample video, students wrote down on post it notes the words with strongest connotations.  Here’s a sampling of what they came up with:

murder, fatal, dead, ravishing, dagger, bloody, knell, wicked

We talked about what kind of mood Shakespeare is establishing with those words–and how this can be related to other forms of reading and writing.

When students are asked about mood, whether on a test, in a college lit class, or simply while pleasure reading, one of the greatest hints to mood is the author’s use of word choice.

We also discussed how the same goes with writing.  As writers, we need to choose words with strong connotations to help express our style and tone.

It was a quick 8-10 minute lesson, but an effective one–full engagement from every student on a concept they could see visually both in language and images, hear in the music, see the patterns in our list on the board, and–hopefully–apply in their reading and writing lives.

Anticipation Guides on Pear Deck

Ant Guide Macbeth

 

Anticipation guides at the beginning of a unit are now a staple in the teacher’s tool kit.  However, I “techified” my Macbeth anticipation guide with the help of Pear Deck.

To be honest, I started with paper.  I used Jim Burke’s Macbeth anticipation guide as a starting point for my own.  I made copies and students circled their answers.  Then they broke into discussion groups of 4-5 classmates, where they had to come to a consensus for each question.

Afterward, each group logged onto Pear Deck, and a member from each group, using the “draggable” tool, dragged the red line to their group’s response.  I then called on random groups to explain and defend their responses.

This activity could easily be done individually, too, rather than in groups, especially if you have classes who are very open and enjoy discussing.  For classes that are more reticent, however, the groups work well as a springboard into the overall class discussion.  I hear stronger comments in the small groups, and I also find more members of small groups are willing to share with the whole class because they’ve already “rehearsed” their responses in small groups.

Pear Deck provides a great visual aid for anticipation guides and emphasizes how beliefs can range throughout a class.

 

Making Visual Aids with Pic Monkey

picmonkey_image

 

It’s been a crazy busy week.  Lots and lots and lots of essays to read and give feedback and speeches to coach and gamification quests to approve, and the snow keeps skirting around us and refuses to bless me with a snow day, even though Mother Nature has been generous with giving lots of other schools with plenty of days off.

Anyway.  I made a thing last night.  To be specific, a collage in PicMonkey.  And to be honest, it looks pretty cool.

Our assignment this week in my multimedia class was to create a photo collage that was connected to our content area.  Since my Brit Lit class started Macbeth today, I thought, “Is there a way I can integrate this into the Macbeth intro?”

So tomorrow, I will.  Today we discussed the anticipation guide in groups, and tomorrow they’ll make predictions about the play based on the collage (which is in chronological order with the story.)

PicMonkey was so easy to use–my students could use the web program for their own projects.  In lieu of the typical essay or report about a book, they could create a photographic storyboard.  To display poetry they’ve written or poems they’ve loved, they can create photo collages using photos that evoke the mood, tone, and symbols in the writing.  Students can create a biography about an historical event using a collage.  The more I use it, the more I’ll come up with more ideas.

Use Pear Deck’s Draggable Tool to Teach Vocabulary

Vocabulary is, by its nature, a left-brained language-intensive study.  Because not all our students are left-brained, I try to throw in a more visual vocabulary review.

One technique is to use the Draggable Tool in Pear Deck.  First I create a slide with a question about a vocabulary word.  Then I choose two images from the internet–these serve as the two “choices” for students to drag their circle to.  Since Pear Deck only has the option of inserting one image (at least right now), I set up the images side-by-side in a Google Doc and then use Awesome Screenshot to capture the two images together.  Then I upload that screenshot to Pear Deck.

Here’s an example below for the word “prudent.”

prudent home

 

If you have a teacher view on another device (see below), you can see which students are still struggling by their answers.

croc dolphin

 

A few hints I’ve found:

1.  Make sure to “lock” student answers before showing the results.  Otherwise all the students’ dots erupt in a game of tag, and the students are too busy chasing each other’s dots than paying attention to the content.  (Even college-credit seniors don’t have enough will power to resist the urge to watch their dots move across the board.)

2.  Don’t use full-body photos of Beyonce (or any human for that matter) to avoid the issue of dots being placed “strategically” on the bodies.  (Yes, I’ve witnessed this first-hand when I foolishly used a Beyonce slide with a predominantly 18-year-old male class.)

 

Curriculet: A Love Continued…

Yesterday I posted about my anticipation for using Curriculet with my British Lit students today.  If you want to check out my Curriculet, click here for my (abridged) “A Modest Proposal” Curriculet.

So now…the results!

Overall, I declare a success with our maiden voyage with Curriculet.  So far, I’ve heard no complaints about the site.  (I did field some complaints about the content, as they read “A Modest Proposal,” but as I told them, if they weren’t at least a little disturbed by Swift’s suggestion of 18th century cannibalism, I’d be worried.)

I’m not sure how to organize all my thoughts, so I’m simply going to enumerate them.

1.  The one major problem I encountered was linking my Google Classroom to the Curriculet website.  The link directed them to the “Log in” screen rather than a “Join” screen.  Note that this problem is ALL ON ME.  Once they were on the “Join” screen and I gave them their enrollment code, they were golden.

2.  I also found problems with the embedding of the YouTube video.  Again, likely had NOTHING to do with Curriculet and EVERYTHING to do with our school’s filter.  Even if a video is open on the filter, I find they still don’t open when embedded on Google forms, Google sites, Versal–pretty much anywhere.  I simply copy and pasted the code into the annotation so they could still watch the video at YouTube directly.  (But if they’re using any other wi-fi, I bet they’d love the embedded videos right there next to the text.)

3.  Curriculet gives great data of both in-progress and finished students.  Check out the first screenshot:

Curriculet student scores

 

I didn’t give a “quiz” but only individual questions, so there’s not data there.  However, I know at a glance how long it took students on average to read the essay and how many are finished.  Then I can see their individual scores (names are blurred) followed by how many questions they answered correctly, how long each took, and whether he/she is finished or still in progress.

Curriculet question results

 

On another tab, I access data about individual questions.  I can see that I need to review questions 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12 during our next class.

I’m very pleased with how it went.  As with all inaugural website adventures, there’s extra time spent helping some students get to where they need to be, but once they were “in” the Curriculet site, they navigated it very easily.  I’ll definitely be using this again (and again, and again, and again.)  And so, my tryst wtih Curriculet continues…

 

Curriculet: A Crush Destined for True Love?

Two days ago, I happened upon Curriculet thanks to Kate Baker and her blog.  Immediately, I fell into a hard-hitting crush with the website.

Curriculet

 

At Curriculet, you can choose among texts that are already available in the “store” or upload your own text.  Then comes the magic.  In those texts, teachers can embed annotations, multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, quizzes, and even YouTube videos.

Today, I made my first Curriculet using a text I abridged of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modern Proposal.”  I inserted lots of questions, annotations about historical facts, and a modern-day interpretation of the essay on YouTube.  Tomorrow, my students will start read it, get immediate feedback from the multiple choice questions, and watch the modern-day interpretation all in one place.

Here are screenshots from my Curriculet.  I’ll let you know tomorrow how it goes!

Curriculet annotation Curriculet MC 2 Sample cirriculet page Curriculet question

 

Distance Learning via Pear Deck

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I was so inspired by these posts at Medium.com and Teachersfortomorrow.net.

In short, two teachers share teach together in two different classrooms 150 miles apart.  The collaborative duo pull off this feat with the use of Google Hangouts and PearDeck.  They each use two projectors in their respective classrooms; one projects the Pear Deck presentation, while the other projects the students from the other classroom 150 miles away.

Utterly inspiring!

While I don’t plan to use this technique in my immediate future, it does open up more possibilities for distance learning.  Since anyone globally can enter an open Pear Deck presentation if he has the PIN code, a teacher could instruct countless students at one time.  Pear Deck and hangouts provide a platform to merge the worlds of traditional classroom instruction and pure online instruction together.  You get the benefit of face-to-face human interaction through Skype and Hangouts while being able to continue education from hundreds–or thousands–of miles away.

 

New Google Read and Write Highlighting Tools!

We tried out a new add-on in my Brit Lit class today:  the Google Read and Write highlighting tools.  The current highlighting tools in the Google toolbar aren’t exactly the easiest to use, but this add-on made highlighting so much easier!

Highlighting Tools

We’re smack in the middle of a Jonathan Swift/satire unit, and we’re prepping to read “A Modest Proposal.”  Today we watched a Stephen Colbert clip that happens to be formatted just like an essay.  After watching the clip, I showed the students a transcript version (slightly altered to be more for the PG-13 crowd) and we reviewed essay structure.  Last semester we practiced highlighting thesis statements in green, main ideas in yellow, and supporting details in pink.  This strengthens both their understanding while reading non-fiction texts and helps them structuring their own non-fiction texts.

Instead of the clunky Google toolbar highlighting, we used the Read & Write tools–so much easier!

highlighting

 

With color coding, students can see the patterns in non-fiction writing, which increases their reading ability as well as their writing ability.  Since my objective the next two weeks is to help them develop ideas in their writing, we did a reverse T-chart of this writing, analyzing the main points and then analyzing the different supporting details for each of the four points.  We did the T-charts the old-fashioned way:  plain old pencil and paper.

But today was truly a hybrid class period:  Reading (hard copy books, and ebooks on phones, and iPads),Vocab review on Pear Deck, online video, online text & highlighting, and the classic pencil to paper & whiteboard modeling work.  And to be honest, that’s the way I like it.  A little something for everyone, and it keeps them moving and always doing something new that appeals to their style of learning.

Creating Matching Activities in Pear Deck

matching pear deck

 

One of the first types of review activities I like to do with students after we talk about a set of vocabulary words is matching. Using Pear Deck and Google Docs, it takes only a few minutes to put together a matching activity that students can complete right in front of your eyes.

Step One:  Open a Google Doc and create your matching activity.

Step Two:  Using Awesome Screenshot, crop the screen and save it to Google Drive.

sample matching

 

Step Three:  In Pear Deck, set the slide to “Drawing” and then upload the image from your Google Drive.   Students can then draw lines on their computers or handheld devices.

The best part about this is in a single glance, I can see the students complete the assignment via the left hand side of the Pear Deck teacher screen.  I can see which words the students struggle with and which ones they’re comfortable with.

matching sample

 

When everyone is finished, I select one of the student responses at random on the right hand side (that side does not contain student names) and review the answers.  It’s a quick and easy way to review vocabulary and make sure that all students are accountable.

Using Pinterest in the Classroom

A few days ago in one of my Facebook groups, a fellow member queried us for an easy-peasy, low-maintenance way to track the books you’ve read.  Although many use Goodreads (and I have an account there, too), this member wanted to avoid the site and the drama that goes with it.  (Yes, even book nerds have their drama instigators and fomenters.)

So I shared what I used:  A simple Pinterest board. Pinterest Every January, I create a new board for my reading that year.  When I finish the book, I locate an image of it and pin it.  If I want to leave a few notes about it–cool!  If I’m tired or not in the mood, then I don’t write a comment.

This can easily be adopted in classrooms.  Because most students are visual, they enjoy seeing a more visual list of book covers rather than just a list of names.  In the comment area, students can add blurbs, starred ratings, number of pages, or link to other friends they’d recommend the book to.

I know that countless teachers already use Pinterest.  We create boards for lesson plans and writing prompts and art projects and pretty, pretty classrooms (for those of us who do lots of decor) and pin ideas there.  Pinterest is a great resource for that. But Pinterest could be used in other ways more directly relating to students. Think about these possibilities:

pinterest2

1.  Students could create a board that represents a character in a book the class is reading.  Imagine what Gatsby’s board might look like.  Or Daisy’s.  What kind of quotes might Hamlet pin to his board?  What might Jem or Scout pin on their boards?

2.  Give students a collection task related to visual images.  Photography that uses the rule of 9.  Examples of impressionist paintings. Samples of pointellism?  A teacher can then lead a discussion with the class using images that students selected, giving them ownership in the lesson.

3.  Teachers can make Pinterest boards to create a “menu” of ideas for students.  Say students in geography class must select a South American country to research.  Make a Pinterest board with a pin for each country that leads to a reliable website about that country.  Or do students need to research Revolutionary War heroes?  US Presidents?  Civil Rights leaders?  Make a Pinterest board of their possibilities using images from Biography.com or another website.  Students will likely click on a few pins, learning a little about each, but make their decision faster because of this process.

4.  Only want your students to research certain sites?  Make a board of those sites.

I’m sure others have created more possibilities to Pinterest, and writing this makes me more interested in trying some in my own classroom!

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