Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reflection of Critical Friends Review of Instructional Unit

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to enhance my Geography unit and incorporate some of the methods and strategies that I have been learning about in my Instructional Technology & Digital Media Literacy classes.

In particular, the opportunity to provide students the choice of how they want to present their research, and adding the iEarn collaboration piece. Providing students with the choice of how they want to present their research will be a motivator for students.  They will be able to use online tools and incorporate multimedia formats.  I think this will improve their product.

Additionally, by expanding the project to include the iEarn collaboration, I feel my students will want to research their countries and learn as much about them in preparation for their collaboration with peers from the countries they are researching. iEarn will be very engaging for them.

My Critical Friends were very supportive of the unit, especially the iEarn component.  I feel this is a very powerful and engaging enhancement to the unit. It is also the component I have the most concern with.   In order for students to successfully collaborate with their peers from other countries, there has to be timely  communication. Monitoring communication between students and specifying guidelines for communications is a must. My Critical Friends suggested a B-Plan as an alternative in the event the collaboration with the iEarn Project - A Day in the Life doesn’t work out. I think this is a good idea.  I will evaluate and consider alternative sites to use with my students. I am currently exploring Students of the World. There are pen pal opportunities for Argentina, Morocco, Yemen, and Thailand. It’s always a good idea to have a B-Plan!

Presenting my unit of student to my Critical Friends was a great way to gain feedback.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Using Google Sites to Build my Website

Using Google Sites I started building my website to share information and resources with my students and staff. After reviewing the various themes and templates, I decided to experiment building my website using a Google Site template. Building a website using a template was a learning experience.  At first I struggled with understanding the template and the relationship between the predefined pages.   Once I began playing and experimenting, I began to understand how the template was organizing pages and the process of creating and modifying pages became easier.

In case you're thinking of using a Google Site template, I used the Classroom template. Using this template, I used the "More" button at the top of main home page a lot. The more button offers a drop down  menu with the options "Edit Site Layout" and "Manage Site". Edit Site Layout was important in modifying the side navigation panel.

One particular area I found troublesome was removing the "template text" within template pages. There is instructional text provided by Google within template pages that must be deleted prior to publishing.  Once I realized that the "template text" had to be removed in template pages, I began to remove it as I modified and added text to a page.

Creating new pages was easy. These are blanks pages that you position within the organization of the template. Once I understood the organization of the template, building new page and placing them where I wanted was not difficult.

My website needs pictures! I will add pictures as I continue to refine it. It wasn't difficult to include the one picture I have.  I don't expect adding pictures to be a problem.   I've started building and including tutorials that I've created.  I plan to add more tutorials and more website resources.

My website is only available with this link.  It's a work in progress!  Take a look and let me know what you think.