Monday, August 30, 2010

ETC Final Movie

For my final video in my ETC course this month, I created a movie to introduce the big idea of apathy to my students for when we begin out Challenge Based Learning project later this fall. You can view the video below.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week 4 Reading

Okay, so I made an interesting discovery this week while reading: one of my resources that I thought would apply as I skimmed it while creating my resource list does not, in fact, fit the scope of my research project.  It was an interesting read about perceptions of e-learning in secondary education, but it does not touch on engagement in the same way that I'm looking to improve in my classroom.  So, this one is going to be sent back out there for someone else to try to use in their research, but in the mean time, I'll talk about it since I read it.

Journell, W. (2010). Perceptions of e-learning in secondary education: A viable alternative to classroom instruction or a way to bypass engaged learning? Educational Media International, 47(1), 69-81. Retrieved from ERIC database.

In this study, the author conducted interviews with an secondary instructor of an e-learning course, and 11 of the 13 students who took the class.  Overall, all interviews conveyed similar views, with the larges difference being on the part of the instructor in regards to his perception of students.

The most interesting thing I read was the instructor’s preference of the classroom over and e-learning context.  His point was not about the lack of learning in comparison; rather, he said that the social development aspect of the classroom is better for students in the classroom rather than online.

As I thought about my e-learning in this program, I see that I’ve not struggled socially. This may be a result of my age being above that of the students in the study, meaning I have fully functioning social skills, or it could be that there is such an emphasis on the social aspect in the first few months of this program, which makes it easier to transition.  Overall, it was an interesting, but somewhat useless for my AR project, read.

ETC Week 4 Practical Experience - Flash (Part 3)

So here at the end, the information again gets confusing, and then gets semi pointless.  Adding the animations is fun, but if I hadn't had access to the exercise files from, I wouldn't have been able to learn figure out how to make the symbols to be able to add the animations to them.  The information on how to publish the Flash movies was semi-useless to me at this point because it didn't provide information on how to get the published file on the web, but I'm sure I can find a tutorial for that on the web.

Overall, I learned some fun things about Flash, but I'm also still very confused.

Chapter 5 - Adding Interactivity (8 min, 54 sec - 2 sections)
-       In order to control the timeline, like having the animation stop at a certain point, or add interactivity to an animation, you need to use ActionScript.
o   ActionScript 3.0 is Flash's native programing language
o   ActionScript code can be placed in two places
§  In frames on the timeline
§  In external files
o   Actions must be place on a layer if they are to go in frames on the timeline, so its best for them to have their own so they don't get confused with the animations you have.
o   There are many codes that can be used.
-       So adding interactivity can be very confusing, so like I said in the last post, you need to watch the tutorial because I'm not in the position yet to explain it.
o   I don't know how the code works, but here's a screen cap of what it looks like. (Wow, my head feels like it might explode.)

Chapter 6 - Publishing and Exporting (1 min, 51 sec - 1 sections)
-       Ok, all this chapter taught me is that there is an easy way to create the files required for publishing by clicking File>Publish.  Other than that, I have no clue how to actually put it up on the web.

ETC Week 4 Practical Experience - Flash (Part 2)

Wow, so this second section was a little more intense that I originally thought.  I flew through Chapter 3, but Chapter 4 had me rewatching sections to make sure I was completing every step correctly.  Creating animations is too difficult for me to explain, but it's fun.  If you want to learn how to do it, watch the tutorial, because I will when I try it out in the future.

Chapter 3 - Working with Multimedia (6 min, 58 sec - 3 sections)

-       When importing media into Flash, you have the option to import it to the library or directly to the stage and add it to the library.
-       When importing sound, you have the option to choose the type of compression used and the bit rate of the compression.
o   ADPCM & RAW: Good for short sounds because there is no compression applied
o   Speech: This compression format is optimized for voice over recordings.
o   MP3: a common music compression format
-       Any compression applied to the sound file in Flash will not effect the original file on the computer because the compression is not applied until the final Flash file is exported.
-       When importing video into Flash, it must be in one of the acceptable video formats (.FLV, .F4V, or .MP4)
o   If the video is not in one of these formats, use the Adobe Media Encoder (which ships with Flash) to convert it.
o   Once the file is converted, import it by clicking File>Import>Import Video.

Chapter 4 - Creating Animations (17 min, 39 sec - 6 sections)

-       Most ways of create animations in Flash involve "tweens," which is short for "in between"
o   when creating tweens, you specify the start and end points of the animation, and Flash fills in everything in between
-       Three types of tweens:
1.     Shape - morph animations
2.     Motion - allow you to animate symbols and apply spacial animation effects
3.     Armature or Bone tweens - first you create a bone system for the animation
-       Creating a shape tween can be difficult if you don't know the steps.
o   I learned the steps, but it can be confusing. 
o   The biggest tip I learned is that you need to use the F5 & F6 keys. 
§  If you don't have function keys turned on through your keyboard settings, you have to hit the "fn" key at the same time or you'll keep dimming or brightening your keyboard back light.
-       Motion tweens are the most common animations used in Flash.
o   Motion tweens are easy to create, as long as you are working with symbols.
o   The motion editor gives you the opportunity to create other effects to go along with the motion tween, such as blur or glow.
o   There are many motion presets that can be used, and you can also create your own by right clicking or command clicking on the layer on the timeline and then selection "Save as Motion Preset…"
-       The Armature or Bone tween is by far the easiest to create, if you have your symbols on the stage.
o   You have to use the Bone tool to create the bone system for the animation, but after that is created, you drag the pieces to create the animation.

ETC Week 4 Practical Experience - Flash (Part 1)

A Flash Icon by Javier found on

Okay, so I've chosen to take the Flash CS4 Professional Getting Started tutorial from  Starting out, I know very little about Flash other than that most videos, gadgets and sights on the Internet run on Flash, and that Steve Jobs hates it and won't run it on iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

There are six chapters to the tutorial, so I'll be blogging my thoughts, frustrations and successes after the 2nd, 4th and 6th chapters.  The full duration of the course is 49 minutes, which excites me because I won't have to sit through long chapters, but it worries me that I won't learn as much as I'd like.  Todd Perkins, the course author, promises that I'll learn all I need to know about flash, but we'll see how this pans out once we cross the finish line.

Okay, here I go.

Chapter 1 - Getting to Know Flash (8 min, 12 sec - 5 sections)

Flash file types and purposes.
 - Flash File (.FLA): the main Flash working file
 - Flash Movie (.SWF): Flash content viewed in the Flash Player
 - Video (.FLV, .F4V, .MP4): Video file types supported by the Flash Player
 - ActionScript File (.AS): Contains ActionScript Code
 - XFL Files (.XFL): Can be opened by Flash

(Right now I don't know what any of this means, but I'm hoping I'll figure it out before this is finished.)

Most common Flash file I'll be creating is a Flash File (ActionScript 3.0).

parts of the flash interface:
 - the stage: the main working area in flash
 - timeline: organizes content in to layers and frames
 - panels: Contains easy access to the file properties and the library, which stores the assets used in the file.
 - the toolbar: enables you to create and manipulate artwork.

Users have the ability to utilize one of 5 workspace preset by Flash, or modify and save a custom workspace.

Chapter 2 - Creating Art (6 min, 3 sec - 3 sections)

 - I learned some of the basic tools for creating art.
 - Learned how to create shapes with the object merge turned on and off
 - learned how to turn are piece of art work into a symbol and then edit the symbol.

So I know some basic drawing tools now.  They are similar to tools in other drawing programs, but I also found that they don't necessarily function in the same way their counterparts in other programs.  I'm assuming that I'll feel more prepared as the course continues.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week 3 Reading

So for this week, I was only able to look review one article because I was busy finishing my Resource list, blog posts, and the wiki.  Here's my quick review of:
Yonezawa, S., Jones, M., & Joselowsky, F. (2009). Youth engagement in high schools: Developing a multidimensional, critical approach to improving engagement for all students. Journal of Educational Change, 10(2/3), 191-209. doi:10.1007/s10833-009-9106-1.

I chose this article because I'm focusing my AR on improving my students' engagement.  To do this, I need a firm understanding, or as firm of an understanding as one can get, on the current definition and views on engagement.  What I gleaned from this article was that the definition and research methods associated with egagement up this point do not really help us engage our students.  Up to now, the focus has been on academic engagement, but that is not the only way we have to engage students.  They are hormonal adolescents - they need to be engaged emotionally and socially while at school as well.  It's so interesting to look at students after reading this article.  Students who perform well in school engage more in the academic aspects (teacher's pets, nerds, brainiacs), while those who couldn't care less about their grades are fully engaged in the social and emotional aspects (class clowns, party animals, queen bees).  Our goal needs to be to bring all students to engagement on all three levels.

How do we accomplish this?  Go to the source.  If you want to know what someone wants, the best way to find out is ask them.  The authors encourage educators and researchers alike to embrace the student voice when it comes to finding how to engage students, and they back this up by involving students in their own research studies (3 to the date of this article's publication).  By asking students what they want, we can usually find out what they need.


This time I uploaded my video to YouTube first so that the quality would be better.  Here's my One Minute Message for Planbook by Hellmansoft.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BP9_Comment on Barry Roth's Blog

Follow this link to my comments on Barry Roth's blog post on Wordia.


Okay, first comes the disclaimer: (1) I'm not sure this qualifies as Web 2.0 because it's not web-based, and (2) I'm not usually a fan of tools that require you to purchase them (eh-hem..Ning), but this one just made my life a little bit easier, so I think it's worth it.

The tool I'm featuring today is Planbook, which is simply what it says, a computer based lesson planning and tracking application. While there are many reasons why I like this program, the most important is that I don't have to carry around a physical planbook with me or need to make templates in Word to keep my lessons on my computer.

The first key feature is the planbook setup.  You see this screen everytime you open the program because it allows you to have as many seperate planbook files as you like, such as one for each school year, but you don't need a seperate file for each class.
To set up your planbook, you need to select the start and end date for the school year using the two calendars in the upper left-hand corner.  Don't worry about if the school year is extended due to snow days, smog days, or whatever you face in your area; the program allows you to easily extend the school year later if it's required later.
Next you enter you course names in the text field in the upper right hand corner.  You can enter as many classes as you need, so I entered a class for each period I teach because my four English classes rarely stay right on schedule all year.
In the middle of the window you select the days you teach, and the type of schedule you follow.  This is one of the best features I've found so far because it has three preset schedules for traditional and alternating schedules,  along with a customizable rotating schedule up to 14 days.  (See the help page for screenflows on how to use these features. I promise it's easy, I just don't have time to explain it.)

Once your file is set up, each course can be color coded using colors of your choice and can be toggled on and off from the left sidebar.  In the screencap below I have my drama class toggled off because I won't teach it until the spring semester.  There is also a calendar in the lower left hand corner where you can navigate between a daily, weekly, or monthly view of you plans.  The cap below shows the weekly view.

It allows you to easily input your lessons on the right side bar, giving you six separate text fields that are fully customizable.  The three basic are "Teacher Information," "Homework," and "Public Information," along with 3 Custom fields. 

I didn't like these field titles, so I changed mine to "Bellwork," "Class Work," "Homework," and added a custom field of "Resources."  All you have to do to change the field title is click the name and change the text. It is very user friendly.
The program also gives you the option to attach web links and files directly to the lesson using a simple upload feature.  This is handy for when you use the web publishing feature because it will place the attachments on the lesson website for students and parents to access with requiring you to know code or create the links yourself.

The final feature I want to showcase is the web publishing tool.  I haven't set this up yet, but the program has built in features that allow you to upload your plans to your MobileMe account or a custom FTP.

There are other features I know of but haven't had to time to check out.  They include customizable lesson reports you can print to turn into your administrators, the ability to easily move all lessons forward or backward with the push of a button in case of sudden changes in scheduling, the ability to place holidays and snowdays in the plans seamlessly without losing lessons, and the ability to insert standards into lesson plans.

Before you decide to purchase the application, I recommend that you take advantage of the free trial version (it stops after you enter your 20th lesson plan) and watch the screenflows that were created by the program designer, Jeff Hellmen, a science teacher from Oregon.  

At $30.00, it's not a program you want to purchase and not use, but the fact that you can use it year after year and not need to buy a new paper planbook each year means it's an inexpensive investment in the longterm. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week 2 Reading

The CBL Framework
This week, I looked at three articles in relationship to my Action Research (AR) project.

The first was Challenge Based Learning: An Approach for Our Time from The New Media Consortium. Since my AR project is focused on using Challenge Based Learning (CBL) as a means to increase motivation and engagement, I needed to read more about CBL and how it can be implemented.  This research study presented information from the six schools which piloted the CBL model during the 2008-2009 academic year, and presents the findings related to student motivation and engagement.  Through this, I also found the topic for my CBL project in our classroom, which will be Apathy.

The second article I read was the Challenge Based Learning White Papers from Apple, Inc., which further outlines the program and provides sample challenges.  This was mainly a description, so I'm not sure it will provide much support to the research beyond the guidelines for the project.

The final article I read was"Redefining Rigor: Critical Engagement, Digital Media, and the New English/Language Arts" by Jessica Dockter, Delainia Haug, and Cynthia Lewis.  This too brief article chronicled the use of documentary film making as the frame of study in a combined English/Language Arts (E/LA) and History class, and its affect on the students.  All though it gives no quantitative supportive data, the qualitative data collected from student interviews and reflections demonstrates that the use of digital media and Internet resources can motivate and engage students, especially when a focus challenge and real world scenario are included.  It also demonstrated the importance of having a showcase for student work, in this case a film festival for the student created documentaries, that was open to family, friends, and the community as a whole.  This showcase was a high motivating factor, and I think I might use a film festival as a showcase for the work my students create in their CBL projects.  Although it was not a CBL project by name, the design of the E/LA curriculum in the study had many similarities to the design of CBL.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


**Update - August 22, 2010** Okay, so I just realized that I put the wrong web address for Wordle in my commercial.  I'll be updating the video and reposting very soon, but feel free to enjoy this version until then.  Just know that Wordle can be found at, not .com.

When you go to Wordle, you find that it's a very easy tool to use.  Because of this, they have hundreds of word clouds created every minute.  All the images in this commercial were created in the past twenty-four hours, and this is only a fraction of the content in the gallery for that time frame.  The clouds range from one letter up to thousands of words, and the topics are just as varied.  Judging by the number of Justin Bieber references, teenagers have already caught on to Wordle, and there are 3rd, 4th and 5th graders posting clouds about cyber safety and cyberbullying.  While you find the occasional curse word posted most likely for shock value, you also find song lyrics, Bible verses, sports teams, Muslim prayers, and even a wedding proposal.

So, when it's that simple and that diverse, the only question left is, 
What will you Wordle?

All images come from the Wordle Gallery.

BP6_Comment on Mike Padilla's Blog

Follow this link to my comment on Mike Padilla's blog post in which he made a commercial for the Web 2.0 tool Creaza.

BP5_Comment on Barry Roth's Blog

Follow this link to my comment on Barry Roth's blog post on the Web 2.0 tool BookRix.


Wordle is Web 2.0 tool that creates word clouds based on the text you provide.  I've used Wordle in various ways the past few years, and I love the results.  It has a very easy to use interface and students love using it. The best part is that it's free and there is no need to register to use the site, so you don't have to remember another username and password.

The the video below walks you through creating a Wordle using the latest blog post from Rena Hanaway's Creating Ripples blog as the source text.

The cut and paste function of Wordle can allow the user to create some interesting word clouds.  The biggest way I've used this in class is in creating thematic posters to go along with George Orwell's Animal Farm.  Because the novel is now in the open domain, the text is available fully on various websites.  Using these sites, I take each chapter and past them into the Wordle applet one at a time.  Bumping the word count up to 999 so that the clouds are full of words, the resulting clouds give a great visual overview of the main events and prominent characters as the novel progresses.  My students enjoy predicting the events that will occur in the chapters based on the names that show so prominently in the cloud.  Below is an example of the cloud from chapter one of the book.

When I first started using Wordle, I noticed it looked at each word individually, so you couldn't use phrases. There is, however, a way to do this.   If you have words that you want to be analyzed as a phrase, you join them with a tilda (~).  This symbol is located beside the (1/!) key directly above the TAB key.  I used this feature to create the cloud below, which has my name, the courses I teach, the name our student newspaper, various literary and grammar terms, and the names of several authors.  To achieve this, I put my name in the text box as Mr.~Drummond, and then copied and pasted it 9 times so it would be the largest.  For the author's names, they all had a tilda (~) between them, like Mark~Twain, Jasper~Fforde, Emily~Dickinson, etc.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

BP_Diigo Group

Here is a screen capture of my Diigo group for my Action Research (AR) project. Right now I only have  three group members, but many more have been invited, including my critical friends. 


I spent some time this past week looking at a few Web 2.0 tools that cater to book lovers because I thought these might have the best chance at being useful in my classroom.  Most of them were still in the beta stage, which contributed to their limited functionality.  One site, however, had a clean interface and was very user friendly.

Shelfari, which was launched in 2006 and acquired by in 2008, is a social network website that allows users to place the books they have read, are reading, and plan to read on a virtual bookshelf they can share with their friends.  Based on the books on your shelf and the shelves of your friends, Shelfari recommends other books and friends you might be interested in checking out.
Some of the books on my virtual shelf.
Users also have the option to share their bookshelf with others outside of the Shelfari site through web widgets like the one at the bottom of this blog page.  This is a great way to get others who aren't using Shelfari exposed to the site, thus expanding your community.

The site also allows users to join and create groups about certain books, genres, or organizations.  These groups provide a space for members have discussions and place books on a common bookshelf. 
The group I created for my classes.  I've already placed Animal Farm by George Orwell on the shelf.
As you can see, I've already created a group for my classes.  My plan is to use the site as place for my students to discuss the books we're reading together in class.  I'm also going to have my students place the books they are reading for their independent reading requirement each quarter on the shared bookshelf.  At the end of the quarter, they'll have to write a review of the book they read and put it in the review section of that book.

The benefit of this site is that if provides a visual representation of the reading a person does.  I think it will be encouraging for my student to be able to see all the books they've read.  I've been adding books I read in college, high school, and even in elementary, and it's interesting to see all the books I've read that I can remember.

I'm excited to use this site with my classes, but it's fun to use outside of the classroom as well.  If you like books and reading, it's definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BP2_iGoogle Screen Shots

Like Google Reader, I've been using iGoogle for the last few years, and it's been my homepage for a majority of that time.  Before this assignment, I hadn't considered creating tabs for different areas of focus with their own gadgets on them.  Mainly, I had my homepage with multiple tools, and it may have been too many. After a while, I was only using one tool on the page (Gmail) and pretty much ignoring everything else.  Using different pages will allow me to focus my attention on a certain class or project and make my time more productive by clearing away the clutter.  Here's what my pages look like right now.

So you don't think I'm morbid with a person in a casket across the top,
it's a scene from one of my favorite TV shows, LOST.

I'm also a fan of Ohio State football.  Also, the LinkedIn gadget is there, but it isn't functioning properly.  

Like the LinkedIn gadget, the Diigo gadget wasn't functioning either.

I love the look of the books at the top of this page. I think I'm addicted to books.
After creating these pages, I can see how some of the features I added will enrich my web surfing and make is easier.  The biggest example of this is the Flickr gadget.  I love photography, and the "Interesting" tab has some really creative and unique photography in it. 

However, I already had processes for some of the features I added that I think will stay with me and not be supplanted by these features.  The main example that I have is my bookmarks bar vs. the box of links.  I have folders on my bar that serve the same purpose, with each folder containing the necessary links or folders of links to streamline my browsing.  I know I'll always access FSO from the link in my Full Sail folder, but I can see me using the box links for APA resources and some of the new sites we'll be accessing this month that I've never used before.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BP1_Google Reader

I've been using Google reader for a quite a few years now, so I was very excited to get to share some of my resources for this project.  It was also enjoyed looking up some new blogs to add to the ones I was already following.

NCTE Inbox: This blog is a product of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).  Functioning as an extension of the work the Council does to further and support the work of English teachers, this blog provides many thought provoking articles on topics relevant to their members. I've followed this blog for the last few years.

Ben Johnson's Blog & Rebecca Alber's Blog: These two blogs are new editions to my list, and I've grouped them together because they focus on the same topic - student engagement.  My AR project is focused on seeing if Challenge Based Learning (CBL) can improve the engagement and motivation levels of my students, so I thought these two blogs, which are hosted by, would be a good place to see some other topics associated with engagement.

The Art Initiative: Aside from teaching English, I also teach journalism, drama, and public speaking.  The Art Initiative of The Ohio State University uses its blog to provide updates about arts events taking place at and around the university, along with updates about the Shakespeare education program they are developing for teachers in Ohio in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, England. I hope to participate in the program when it is opened to other teachers.  I hope to use the information provided here in my drama class as examples of work, and also for ideas for performances to take my students to see.

Huff English: On her professional blog, Dana Huff, an English teacher in the Atlanta area, shares her lessons, recommendations for reading and technology, and thoughts on various topics associated with English education.  This is another new blog I found, so I haven't had the opportunity to explore it fully, but the lessons I perused are quality lessons.

Teach J: A self proclaimed blog for journalism and media educators, I'm excited to check out the resources on this site.  From the posts I scanned, Robert Courtemanche uses his sense of humor in recommending resources, and he also has his syllabi posted, which is a great resource for me as our school is developing our media course offerings.