BP10_RILS Commentary

The RILS process has been challenging.  While writing lesson plans is nothing new, using the Educators Studio seems to organize the process and make it much more simple and less stressful.  If you haven’t used Educators Studio, check out the link for them in my blog roll over there ===>>>

I wanted to point you to a couple of the lesson plans created to by my cohorts.  Jesse Silver did a great job of explaining and utilizing a video editing product and Jennifer Tuttle introduces an avatar sharing idea.

Check out Stroome

Jesse advocates Stroome, a collaborative video editing platform.  What is best about this lesson is two-fold:  students learn to use real world technology that will only help them as they advance in their education and subsequent occupations AND it is applicable to virtually any subject and grade level, both secondary and higher education.  Immediately his lesson made the wheels start spinning in my head and I was thinking of the endless ways this could be applied in and out of the classroom.

Do you Voki?

Jennifer introduces us to Voki and application in a real life scenario.  She uses this to create avatars for students to speak to their “buddies” in a cooperative project with a lower grade level.  This is great for shy students that may be too timid to speak publicly on their own.  The added benefit here is that students have to think about what they want their avatar to say.  This could be used as a built-in language lesson as well as teaching students early about the perception or message they want to create.  I imagine this may be a great tool that could be used to introduce foreign language as well as international pen pals to stretch their conversation skills.  As a side note, Jennifer also mentions the use of iRubric which is a fabulous additional tool for assessment.

I would highly recommend both of these lessons as they could be integrated into a number of subjects and age levels.


BP9 RILS Reflection

My lesson plan goes live! 

The RILS has been a challenging project.  Without a classroom, I am not afforded the ability to construct a video for implementation so much of the work has been along side my 12-year-old daughter.  We have had a number of discussions in our house about what to include in a discussion for the target audience that would be both accurate and age appropriate.  In volunteer teaching situations that I have had in the past or in presentations I was asked to conduct, I have always tried to include ways to disseminate information that may not be what most people have seen.  To be honest, most of those scenarios are boring!

Thinking outside of the box

The best way to inform a target audience is by adding unexpected elements in and breaking the routine.  This is a style I learned from my 12th grade English teacher, Mr. Ackerman.  Mr. Ackerman was known to do things deemed “unconventional” for the time, even radical to some.  One day in class we would be presented a poster of a famous work of art or a piece of classical music to listen to.  What did this have to do with English class?  Mr. Ackerman would always say the same thing…for 15 minutes, write about what you feel from this item.  After a year of his careful indoctrination, I was suddenly a lover of the arts!  Not only did I learn to think about the interpretation of art and music but I began to enjoy and crave more.  To this day, every time I head to a museum, I thank Mr. Ackerman silently for how much he added to my life that year.  I hope in some small way I can create ideas to help educators and students think outside of the norm.

Educators Studio

I love Educators Studio.  I think this allows for the creation of quick and simple lessons in a format that is so user-friendly.  I will use this over and over, much like I feel about The Brain.  I think it has a multitude of uses and when I need to find something quickly for a substitute lesson, it is ready, complete and available.  Sites such as this allow the teacher to be more organized and to add to it as they go along, creating a collective of information that will enrich the students interactions and engage them on multiple levels.


I think this course allowed me to think more about the big picture and less about the details.  Going through the process by brainstorming first and finding such great mind-mapping software that then could become a place to host a lesson and display it in class was mind-blowing.  I would find myself thinking of something else to add to a pod and was able to plug it right in to where it needed to go.  No collecting bits of papers, making notes in several places and collecting web links…it all went into one glorious spot.  The addition of Educators Studio allowed me to further define the objectives and contemplate the necessary assessments.  What might have been a stressful process became a conversation started with family and friends as they learned the project I was working on was about the 1960s.  In an interesting turn of events, I learned that the grandfather that works at the local archery range was an 18-year-old in the 60s who once hitchhiked to Omaha, Nebraska to see Mick Jagger sing before he was all that famous.  The conversation that produced would not ever have happened if I was chained to a desk!



Success! I finished!


Finally, success!  I wasn’t sure when I started out that I would be able to grasp all of this information in a short period of time but that is definitely a credit to the tutorial quality of Lynda.com.  Not only did I learn SO much and have fun doing it but I produced a little movie for my daughter that made her smile.  What is better than that?  I feel very excited by the idea of getting more clips together and working on more projects and I am very grateful at the idea that I can go back to these videos over and over again until I master every single feature.  I really found it useful to be able to pull them up along side what I was doing and pause the tutorial as I executed the task described on my own project.


Without making you wait any longer (because I know you are dying to see the video like my daughter was) here you go!




The more I have expanded my learning process in the iMovie tutorial section on Lynda.com, the more I learn and find there is more I do not understand.  I know that this tutorial was meant for everyone but for me there were a few parts that I felt didn’t really apply to me or I didn’t really understand how I would use them.

Helpful or confusing?


Will I use this feature?

Some of the tutorials didn’t really feel applicable to me like moving clips from tape or the multitude of sharing options.  While I know they belong in the sequence for a reason, I found myself bored in general because I didn’t really connect to them in any way.  Similarly, some of them seem redundant like finding people.  I can see that people may want to organize clips in this manner but it would appear to me that keywords would take care of the sorting and clipping would take care of extra footage so when will I use this?  I am going to try it again for my next movie to see if I can find a way that it applies to me because if it ultimately adds to my experience, then its worth every bit of the trouble.

So smart!

While I do not currently own an external hard drive, this option genuinely made me want to get one.  It was so simple to click and drag the files to a separate drive that I was just honestly surprised.  This makes so much sense for someone that would potentially be organizing a multitude of projects but does not want to have the data on their laptop.

Almost done!


Not even done with my project yet and I am already planning how I will load, edit, tag and sort future clips for my next iMovie!



I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen when I started the iMovie tutorials on Lynda.com.  The Mac has been a bit intimidating to me from the beginning as I have been a Windows based computer user for so long.  I was excited to see that there were so many other categories to view on Lynda.com and the idea that I could use the video at the same time while working is awesome!

So many features, so little time

Keyword tags are genius!

As I started my tutorials, I was pleased to find that iMovie is very user friendly.  The only issue is that you don’t realize what something is for.  Once you find each menu and section, or really, where to look for what you need, it becomes easy to navigate for beginners.  I found myself jumping ahead as I worked, finding and trying things for myself.  One of the best features I found is the use of keywords to tag the clips.  This is brilliant!  Once each clip is tagged, I can search by those tags later to put together pieces for various projects.  Because in real life I am a mom, I don’t have the luxury of doing everything right away but if I can take the time to upload the clips and tag them with a keyword, I can go back later and pull the ones I want to work on when time allows.


When I got to those sections, I wished the videos for choosing theme and cross fade as well as the importance of analyzing the video for stabilization were earlier in the series.  This would have saved me a great deal of time on my project if I had not had to accomplish this after the fact, however, it does make sense why they are in the order that they are in.  If you don’t even know how to add clips to a project or trim them, will you even know when you need stabilization or to put in a transition?  Probably not.

The adventure continues!

I still have a couple of chapters to go and I am very motivated to finish.


BP6 The Brain…Finished

My brain, complete (maybe)!

I have completed my Brain for now.  In reality, it may never be finished.  As Presidential libraries release more audio recordings and estates discover photos and letters squirreled away, history will be constantly “rebooting.”  In addition to the ghosts of the pasts, real events during the 1960s created very real consequences and events in the present time.  For example, on my Science pod, I entered a list of things that were created out of the space program, many of which we can’t do without today and a link to the current Mars rover cameras.  What would JFK say if he could see those images beamed back to us today?  Our academic and intellectual culture is ever evolving and my favorite part of this project was finding a way to create a lesson plan that I can so easily update as new discoveries are made or change as students interests and focus change.

BP5 The Brain

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been using The Brain for a few weeks.  I will admit when I started using the application, I just jumped in feet first.  Sometimes for me, I can read about how something functions for days but without trying to use the features, some things don’t click.  Once I got a feel for creating my pods within the Brain, I went back and watched the tutorials a second time.  The functions provided with this mind mapping software are endless!  The more I used it for brainstorming the more I realized that it could function similar to Prezi for open presentations without the same space limitations and motion sickness that Prezi can deliver.


Welcome to my Brain


The genius of this software option is that I can catalog things as they come up or link things later than I hadn’t originally made a connection to.  Instead of one thing per space, square or link, The Brain allows for the storage of a multimedia super lesson.  For example, on my 1960s block that I am working on, I have a section for Great Orators.  In this section, I added JFK and MLK.  With having the Brain projected on the white board, student can participate in the lesson by helping guide it along.


My pod on Great Orators!


As you can see on the above picture, when I choose the pod on MLK, I can immediately click on links for the new memorial, the full “I have a Dream” speech or a condensed version to show the most famous line of the speech.  This allows for visual and auditory input for students, not strictly my own words.  The additional aspects of visual and auditory learning modes as well as the students assisting in choosing the direction of the lesson each day address a number of multiple intelligences which ultimately is the goal.  This allows you to also edit, right on your desktop, real time so students can contribute notes, linked events or people as the discussion progresses.


Easy to Navigate, Easy to Use


As I continue along in this process, I am constantly finding new ways to use this and new data to imbed in the pods.  Rather than saving lesson plans and endless visuals on my desktop, this allows me to put them directly into the pods and pull them up in class.  The tutorials are really thorough and I feel like each time I watch them; I learn something else all over again.  Like I mentioned at the beginning, I believe this can be used as much more than a brainstorming tool but rather a way to enhance discussions of all sorts without over doing it on flash without significant content.  You have the ability to make your brain public or private as well of a number of pay plans that allow for even more extensive options.  The free version is likely the best demonstration of a products capability I have ever seen and I am looking forward to watching it to grow and develop!

BP1 Netvibes just gets me!

This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me!


When looking for a personal dashboard, I was immediately taken with Netvibes.  I found the format to be very easy to use, customize and organize.  While it is new for me, I feel this is a product is something that I will use outside of school and to organize my personal pursuits.  As a writer in my “real life” I am constantly on overload because of needing to post to social networks, pending assignments and rejection letter management.  Netvibes is the perfect dashboard that allows me to organize all of these efforts immediately.  It allows for privacy customization, has very clear help functions and is extremely easy to use.  Imagine the productivity bump from being able to access all of your accounts in one place?  Genius!

I am in geek L-O-V-E!!!!

I loved this product so much that I have actually already referred friends and coworkers to my dashboard to check out.  For a teacher or student, it seems to me an indispensable product and one I am very excited to use more and more over the coming months!

BP4 Schoology Schooling



My own LMS! How cool is this?

I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw designingfairy’s post on Schoology but I was very excited when I opened an account.  The possibilities are endless with this format and a free LMS for instructors of all types to use is phenomenal!  I foresee this as a tool for alternative teaching, homeschooling or even someone running a business (for example personal coaching or dieticians) where they could “instruct” their customer base.


I am not sure yet how I will use this cool tool but I will be using it!  Check out Schoology and let me know what you think.



BP3 Class Dojo Info

My awesome class!

Today I checked out Jamie Baker’s take on Class Dojo.  This awesome free tool is a behavior management application.  It gave me a bunch of ideas and I agree with Jamie’s assessment, the “celebrity class” is pretty funny.  I like the idea of being able monitor behavior and notify parents.  I opened my own class and spent some time exploring.  Jamie’s assessment that there is little content is true and it immediately made me wish there was a spot to enter notes, particularly when emailing reports to parents.  I emailed myself a report (I am Daniel Craig’s mom) so that I could see what it looked like and how it was formatted.  It was very clear and easy to read, but going back to Jamie’s post, it would be nice to include further information.

I would definitely recommend Class Dojo for what it can add to your class in terms of documenting important information in a quick and easy to use format.

My son’s behavior report…