Friday, July 27, 2007

Singshot - Karaoke with comments!

Now I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing... With my singing it is definitely a bad thing. I had to try this site out in the interest of good journalism, so there is now a recording of my singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' somewhere out in cyberspace.  I tried the 'send to blog' function, but of yet it hasn't made it to my blog (thank goodness!).  However over night a few copies may show up as I pressed the button repeatedly, oops. 

Anyway, SingShot - Online Singing, Karaoke, Sharing, Ratings, and Community is a site where you can set up a profile, choose a song and record yourself singing it.  Pretty simple.  The recording is then kept on your home page where anyone can come and listen to you, leave a rating and a comment.  It is completely open so hopefully the comments are monitored by someone!  And I deserve any 'oh dear' comments that might be left on my recording!  You have to be over 13 to register, but I could see some students having fun with this one. 

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Now this is interesting!

During the course of my research into the use of podcasting in Oral Language I put a similar question to two groups of people. Firstly I asked a cross section of teachers throughout New Zealand to identify the elements of oral language that they actively teach. Next I asked a class of 24 year 4,5 and 6 students who have been podcasting during 2007 to identify everything they think they learn when they are making a podcast. I have put the responses in a table separated into the strands of oral language identified in the New Zealand Oral Language Matrix.

(click the image to enlarge)

The students have identified all of the same elements as the teachers except for some skills of speaking and listening such as eye contact, turn taking, and body language, which are skills not used in podcasting. What is impressive about this comparison is the amount of metacognition students have about their learning in the strands of ‘ideas’ and ‘language’. The students identified that they were learning all of the elements that the teachers had identified as important and more. The students included using sound effects and music to enhance their message, and using them to suit the topic. They also mentioned using the right amount of humour which showed cognition of the importance of the information being presented and recognition of if humour would be appropriate or not. The students also identified additional learning when podcasting which impacted their reading, writing and use of technology:
  • Use music no one else has used (copyright issues)
  • Write a script
  • To get better at reading by reading your script
  • Using the equipment properly
  • Learn how to use computers, GarageBand program
These students have shown that through the use of podcasting they are aware of the elements of oral language that make a proficient speaker as well as an effective communicator. It would be interesting to ask a similar question, “What do you learn when you give a speech” to a class of students whose main form of oral language is speech making, to see if the same awareness of the elements of effective oral language is present, especially in the strands of ideas and language.

Friday, July 13, 2007

That's going straight to the Pool Room!

This is cross posted over at “The Bloggers’ Cafe”

In light of the conversations that have been happening lately here and here about how the blogosphere seems to be distinctly American in flavour, I am going to add a bit of antipodean flavour to this post.

In my research into Podcasting this year I have been thinking about what it is that makes the biggest difference to student learning.  Obviously giving students the ability to hear their own voice is empowering.  Also having an expectation that it will be the student’s voice and not the teacher’s is empowering.  But the most empowering factor of all has to be the global audience.

pool room downstairsThis is where my strange title comes in.  Those people from my part of the world will be cognisant of Darryl Kerrigan and the ‘Castle’ (an iconic Australian movie).  For Darryl the highest place of honour for anything is for it to be put in his ‘pool room’.  You know you have pleased Darryl and produced something worthy if he puts it in his pool room.  Wes Fryer has been talking lately about his ‘Fridge’.  The highest place of honour for a piece of work produced at school and brought home is to be placed proudly on the fridge.  This is indeed a place of honour in a house of three children like mine.  The fridge has limited space! 

Fridge artStudents can now publish their work to the world, not just to the teacher, or the classroom, or the ravenous hordes stampeding the fridge at the 3:30pm “I’m starving mum” ritual.  I understood this, or thought I did, until I heard a podcast by Dr Tim Tyson.  He was talking about what he asked his students when they first ventured into publishing on the web:

What do you have to say that the world needs to hear?

What a powerful question!  It even made me tremble when I started on this blog post.  What do I have to say that the world needs to hear?  So I’m sending that question out to all of you…

What do you have to say that the world needs to hear?

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blogthings - A fun waste of time!

Your Aura is Blue

Spiritual and calm, you tend to live a quiet but enriching life.
You are very giving of yourself. And it's hard for you to let go of relationships.

The purpose of your life: showing love to other people

Famous blues include: Angelina Jolie, the Dali Lama, Oprah

Careers for you to try: Psychic, Peace Corps Volunteer, Counselor

Blogthings is a site where you answer all sorts of crazy questions and they come up with some philosophical insight into your character.  I did ask myself some paranoid questions as I looked at some of the quizzes though.  One, 'How evil are you', had me thinking, if I answer this honestly will the answers be recorded somewhere in some database and come back to bite me one day?  (Not that I have anything to worry about...really) :).  So as you can see, I have a calm aura, I resemble Angelina Jolie (what!) or perhaps a cross between Angelina, Oprah and the Dali Lama, hmmmm. 

I know, this has nothing to do with education, but hey, it's the holidays, time to have some fun.
Thanks to Ms Cornelius at A Shrewdness of Apes for helping me to waste a few hours on this site!  Beware some quizzes are not for those of us who are spiritual and calm, they may give your aura a slight blush.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ULearn 07

ULearn is happening once again this year, from 3rd to 5th October at Sky City in Auckland.  I will be presenting three workshops, starting off with a full day podcasting pre-conference workshop.  This day will take participants through the entire process of finding, making and posting podcasts, all using the Apple software GarageBand.  The two other workshops are entitled, 'What is this thing called Podcasting, and why should I care?' and 'The thinking, moving, collaborative classroom is not a myth'. 

Whew! then I will look forward to spending time with educators I only get to see at these conferences, like Allanah King.  I am also looking forward to meeting Ewan McIntosh who will be keynoting at the conference, who's blog I have read for a while now.  We should put together our own Edubloggercon or Blogger's cafe at the conference!  Mmm, might have to get on to that one.  Anyone who is attending ULearn and would be interested, let me know and I'll set the wheels in motion.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Podcasting and the power of comments.

I was introduced to Podcasting at the end of 2005 and started using it with my class in 2006. We thought that book review interviews would be a good way to start and we had very humble beginnings. Here is a transcription of one of our first podcasts:
Matt: Kia ora and what's up mate. I'm Matt and I'm interviewing Paora, He is sharing Jeff Wilson's book, Here he is now. Kia ora Paora, what is this book about?
Paora: Kia ora Matt, it's about Jeff Wilson and what his life is about in rugby.
Matt: Who is the author of this book?
Paora: The author of this book is Ron Palenski.
Matt: Do you have a favourite page?
Paora: Yes, I have two favourite pages, one page is on 111 and the other is on 194.
Matt: Well that's all we have for today folks. I'm Matt and we were interviewing Paora on his Jeff Wilson book. Bye

Mmm, I had a chuckle when I heard it, my favourite page is 111! I wanted my students to develop and learn in their own steps. So I posted the podcast. These students had produced a very good podcast with clear voice and expression, the only problem is that there was no content. That was my next step, I had to extend their language and ideas. Here is where the power of comments come in. This podcast generated 14 comments.

So the first few comments gave the students a bit of a kick, people had interacted with their podcast. John wished he could have a go at making podcasts at his school. The students were feeling good. The next lot of comments showed the power of conversation:

But here comes the real power of comments - critical feedback!

I didn't have to stand up the front of the class and wax lyrical about the need for more content in the podcast. With this succinct comment from John the boys self assessed and realised that the audience didn't actually have the book in front of them and couldn't see what was on page 111, so they would have to use more description.

Podcasting truly fits with a constructivist viewpoint of learning, students take the next step because they see what the next step is. It is Vygotsky's zone of proximal development in action.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Stuck in the Vortex and loving it

It is the school holidays here in New Zealand and we get to turn our minds and time to more frivolous things.  I have been exploring Second Life a bit further.  It is fascinating and is making me re-evaluate a lot of my thinking.

Wandering through Second Life the other day I went to visit KJ Hax at SLolar.  He was expecting a new intake of residents and had a party set out for them.  They were late in coming so he invited me in to share some virtual food.  After a while, more SLers started turning up and joined us around the table.  One very talented person decided we needed a dance floor and set about making one complete with music.  The next thing I know we are all on the dance floor dancing to 'Another one bites the dust'.  It was a strange feeling.  I was chatting with people and dancing in SL all the time in fits of laughter in my 1st life.  I must say I am not one for the night club scene and rarely take the trouble to get dressed up for a night on the town, so it was great to be able to dance all from the comfort of my house in my 'jammies'.  Now this occasion made me see the need to have a change of wardrobe.  So today I went out and purchased a dress for $25 Linden dollars, the currency of SL. 

This was another strange experience.  Shopping for something for my avatar.  There were some really way out things and the opportunity to take risks and experiment with your appearance.  But it is strange how I didn't want to do that.  I chose a dress that I would like in RL, I have made an avatar who resembles (very loosely) myself in RL.  My SL life has really become an extension of my RL. 

Now this is the educational part of my rambling... Wes Fryer often mentions in his podcasts the concept of a 'walled garden'.  He talks about students experimenting with blogging and podcasting in a controlled environment such as a school server.  In this way students can learn how to be ethical users and creators of internet content before being let out into the big bad world.  A bit like blogging with training wheels.  Now I have never been a fan of this concept.  I always thought that we should teach students out where the world is.  I am changing my mind. 

Second Life has a lot going on that you would not like to be exposed to.  Whatever is bad in RL is happening in SL.  You need to be even more careful because this is a new world and you don't know how things work.  It is a bit like being in a foreign country where even the signs are in a foreign language.  I am exploring SL in a walled garden.  I am spending all my time in Eduisland II where I feel safe and I am sure that I will encounter nothing I couldn't handle.  As I am getting my feet and understanding the world more, I feel a bit more brave to venture outside Eduisland II.  I am starting to see the merit in a walled garden for those educators and students who would like to get their feet wet before plunging into the internet ocean.  What do you think?

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A day in my Second Life

I have had an interesting couple of days exploring my second life.  I noticed a large group of people gathered so I went and joined them. There was an interesting mix of people from America and Canada all having a general discussion about education.  Most people present were bloggers and all were in a classroom of some sort ranging from elementary through to adult education.  The good thing about hanging out on Eduisland 2 is that you are guaranteed to meet other educators eager to talk to you about teaching and learning in their context.

After a slice of pizza we discussed the edubloggercon that was held before NECC this year.  In discussion it came up that having a Blogger's Cafe in Second Life would be a great idea.  Ryan Bretag has kindly offered his space in SL and is starting to furnish it.

On the wall inside the Blogger's Cafe, images of different blogger's avatars have been mounted. You can click on these images to visit their blogs.  It is all very exciting.  It is another way that the people who are having the conversations can connect with each other.  It is amazing how a virtual world can feel so real.  When I am chatting with someone face to face in SL it makes me feel as though I am really in their presence.  Which is impossible as most of the people I talk to are a world away.

Closer to home though, I spent some time showing a fellow Kiwi around Second LIfe today.  I very elegantly fell out of the sky and a person came rushing up to me and called me 'Jane' which surprised me as my avatar name is Jojash McmIllan.  I answered yes and who should be in front of me but Rachel Boyd.  We went for a walk around and I showed her all the sites in eduisland 2.  It is the first time I have gotten to talk with Rachel 'in person' since she is in Nelson and I'm in Dunedin.

But the real surprise of the day for me and the pivotal moment in my thinking about SL came when I bumped into a group of people on Eduisland 4.  They invited me over for a chat and it turns out that they were a group of people involved in handicapped education and were building a space to meet.  I was talking to one person and she told me how she lives her life in a wheelchair but when she comes into second life she can run, walk and even fly.  I know the buzz I got when I first tried out flying in SL, and she said that she got that same buzz from walking.  Now this really got me thinking.  Second Life could be great for people who are restricted in some way or another.  People who cannot leave the house, or have disabilities can meet people in SL and have company.  I know I enjoy the conversations I have in SL and I'm not restricted at all.  Imagine someone who has limited chances to leave their home...

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Monday, July 02, 2007

How are NZ teachers assessing Oral Language?

Picture_4.pngThis post will continue to look at the information gathered in the Oral Language Survey.  Teachers were asked how they assessed oral language in their classrooms. The most common response was through observation which was mentioned by 33% of participants.

It is interesting to note that only two oral language 'tests' were identified, JOST and ROL.  The Six Year Net is a testing procedure all students go through on entering primary schooling.  I am unsure of what KLST2 is (and would greatly appreciate it if someone could let me know in the comments if they are familiar with this term).  The NCEA is the national testing for our secondary students.

It seems that the majority of teachers are relying on observation with a combination of self, peer assessment and checklists and rubrics to assess their student's oral language.  Only 3% mentioned that they use audio or video.  Podcasting or audio recording are great ways to gather data over time for oral language assessment, and with the rapid improvement in technology recording student voice is getting easier.

The shocking thing to me is that 6% of teachers said they didn't assess oral language at all.

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