Saturday, April 28, 2012

ITEC Tech Fair 2012- 6237 Extra Credit

On April 19, I had the honor of being a judge for the ITEC Tech Fair. This was one of three regional student technology fairs for K-12 students offered each year. Students are able to show their creative use of technology done in the classroom to others around the region. This year almost 300 projects statewide were presented with projects covering different categories such as multimedia, web presence, programming, video/linear presentation, graphics/publishing, 3-D rendering/non-linear animation, music/sound design, mobile apps, and innovative technology.

This year, I was a co-judge with Dr. Gao for 5 presentations featuring music and composing. The students ranged from 5th- 8th grade and all used Garage Band as their software of choice. Personally, I have never used Garage Band, but it appears to be standard software on Macs. Several students’ projects focused on getting them familiar with different instrumental sounds and how they are placed together in a song. Students were encouraged to use metronome settings to keep a consistent beat to their creations. Several older students created original instrumental pieces and one duo created their own song!

Screenshot of Garage Band

Allowing students to experience this type of creativity in the classroom gets them more involved in their lessons. Students can steer their own projects to learn what they want to without sacrificing essential curriculum. I had a great experience as a judge and am glad to see what teachers are offering for their students in the classroom.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

6232: Selection and Integration of Instructional Technologies Extra Credit Post

I had great experiences at the 2011 ITEC conference in Des Moines, IA in October. One of the most enlightening sessions I went to, happened by accident. I actually got lost in the conference center and meandered through the main meeting room, stumbling upon a very energetic presenter- Steve Dembo. His presentation entitled, Extreme Makeover Education Edition, showcased different Web 2.0 tools currently available to teachers.

Though he considered this a beginner course, I still learned a lot about mixing technologies in this session. Steve talked about the ease at which you can integrate technology into a classroom and showcase what students do.  He said that teachers must be aware of how they are using the technology and how others view it. His “what is it?” questions made me more aware of this.
“What is it?” questions:
Is the technology web-based?
Is it interactive?
Can it play well with others? (Is it portable? Does it work with other sites?)
This idea of integrating technology tools sounded a little redundant until he showed the group several awesome examples.

Steve introduced me to, which is a type of photo blog. All you have to do to sign up is to email the website and they create an instant blog for you.  It’s so easy to use. Using your phone (if you have email on it), simply take a photo of your classroom and send it to It will instantly be uploaded as a blog post with whatever caption you included with it. This would be great for parents to view throughout the day to see instant progress from their kids.   

Another technology twist he threw at us was Wordle. Yes, I know everyone has used Wordle before, but has everyone mixed it with Picnik? Steve suggested using Wordle for class projects (let’s use Jane Austen and her works for this example), and then manipulating the Wordle within Picnik to create a visual story. By taking a screenshot of the Wordle you created and saving it as a jpg, you can easily upload it into Picnik. Once in Picnik, it is easy to manipulate and saves directly to your desktop as a jpg. Cool! These tools are free and available to anyone with internet access. Check out my creation:



The third intriguing tool Steve showed was This is a website allowing you to create postcasts or phonecasts using your phone. The podcasts can load directly to itunes so your students can hear their presentations or lessons. If you want a separate phone number, Steve suggested using Google Voice (which offers users a phone number for their own use) and using that with
Watch this tutorial here!

While some of these types of technology may take some time to set up, they show different ways to present or share information. If students prefer to give an oral presentation instead of writing a paper, they have options. If they work better with visuals, these tools would work as well. Use them as study tools or art projects. They can be done within minutes so they’re user-friendly!

Selection and Integration of Intructional Technologies Final Project

The final test of our instructional design abilities for our Selection and Integration of Technologies class was to create an instructional unit spanning 3-4 weeks. This was also to incorporate the 5 modular topics we’d learned over the course of the semester:

-Gradual Release of Responsibility
-Technology Integration Matrix
-21st Century Classroom
-Cyber citizenry (
-Universal Design for Learning

While this seemed like an easy assignment when I’d first started, I quickly remembered how detailed and tedious creating a training course can be (not that it wasn’t fun…). There are so many things to remember and include for successful instruction, that it’s easy to forget a section! In any account, click here to view my final project.
Photo from:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Extra Credit Post for 5153: Emerging Instructional Technologies

Though the presentations at ITEC 2011 were geared toward teachers, I was able to take ideas and new resources to work in the business/training setting. Specifically, I would have gone to all of Leslie Fisher’s sessions because of the useful applications she suggested.
What I learned from Leslie was that educators and professionals alike should promote themselves through websites. While her focus during this session was geared toward school or district websites, she did note the importance of being able to present yourself in a creative and truthful way.
As I work to create my portfolio for my degree, I will keep her suggestions in mind. Leslie noted there are steps to creating a successful website, be it for myself or an institution. Leslie qualified these as: identifying a goal/reason for website, gathering content, designing the website, and finally actually creating the site. She stressed the importance of these steps, because people often start making their website with no plan and it can tend to end up looking messy and confusing to maneuver.

She offered resources from,, and for templates and designs to use for a website. Actual site makers like offer 3 pages of a free website (she claims its better than Google sites) and you don't have to know html!

This information in conjunction with another session featuring tips for photography was very interesting to me. Going off of her work for the website, Digital Days: Video and Photography Workshops, she exposed 10 problems most faced while taking photos and ways to correct them.

1.       Not close enough
      2.       Not in focus
       3.       Camera shakes (nothing in focus)
       4.       Boring composition
       5.       Ignoring background
       6.       Missing the moment
       7.       Too much flash
       8.       Not enough flash
       9.       Could have been vertical
      10.   Digital zoom

Learning how to take better photos would be important in the classroom or training for various reasons. If your training focuses on visual learning or referencing materials, then clear concise photos would be needed to convey specific directions. Using photos in the classroom can vary from students who use photos to communicate to creating online coursework and websites to scholarly presentations.  
I think I tend to forget that a photo can communicate as much as a literary piece and it makes sense to spend time to learn to communicate well with photography.

Photos from: (Leslie Fisher) (web designs) (web designs)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Module #7: Part 2

Come visit my Great Gardens Tour in Second Life.

1. Da Vinci Gardens
Visit here to buy photos or paintings. See the lava erupting from the mountain and gardens all around.
2. Gardens of Absentia
Come play beach volleyball! Visitors can place a lantern in the water in remembrance of a loved one with cancer.

3. Karuna Underwater & Tropical Gardens
 Underwater world with free plants and sea monkeys- if you can catch them!
4. Walking Gardens, Quordlepleen
 Winter wonderland with snow, boating and the occasional moose or reindeer.

5. Sweetpea Gardens
 Come play the piano or on the swings. Listen to music.
6. Gardens of Sabu
 Multicolored horses and weeping willows cover this island of "samurai" gardens.
7. Bridges, Swings & Gardens
 A garden of bridges and huts lead you from garden to garden.
8. Forest Floor
 Earth crystals and detailed flowers cover this island.
9. Cave Rua Water Gardens
 These gardens offer extensive coral reef and starfish to see.

10. Catch a Falling Star Jazz Club & Gardens
 Walk among the falling stars and or swim in the luxurious pool and use the divingboards or floaties

Module #6: Part 1

I chose to make a tour of gardens within Second Life. Here is my list of places to visit.

1. DaVinci Garden
2. Gardens of Absentia
3. Karuna Underwater & Tropical Gardens
4. Walking Gardens, Quordlepleen
5. Sweetpea Gardens
6. Gardens of Sabu
7. Bridges, swings and gardens
8. Forest Floor
9. Cave Rua Water Gardens
10. Catch a Falling Star jazz club and gardens.

Module #5: Island Tours

For Module #5, I chose to take the Ancient Civilizations tour within Second Life. Here was my itinerary:
Apollonian Empire:
The creator made it an option to actually swim in the pools. This was fun until I realized I was stuck in there as there were no flying options at this site. I finally managed to get out and see what the island offered. I liked the architecture and how it differed each place I went.
The Hittite Empire:
This sunny island proved to offer many options for clothing and entertainment, but the island was deserted.  I found more to do at the next destination- Museum Island.
Museum Island:
Museum Island had a ancient Rome feel to it and was an interesting place to see ancient obelisks and statues.
Roma- The Roman Market:
The Roman market proved to be more interesting sights such as wishing wells and carriages and the Baths of Caracalla.
Blues in the Night:
The Delta project was less eventful. Aside from some mountains and a view, there was not much to do here.
The other stops along this tour either provided broken links, or they were unavailable for transport. Moving around these areas differed in the ways you could move. Most places did not let visitors fly, but did add other movements such as swimming.