Podcast of the week: Classic Poetry Aloud

June 29, 2008

Two weeks ago I began a new series of weekly reviews of podcasts that can be used in education. While I did not do such a great job making the second posting, I am back on track. Last week was the final week of a graduate class, so I trust you will give me a little slack.

Classic Poetry Aloud

Classic Poetry Aloud is an excellent example of how audio can enhance what simply reading cannot. You can subscribe to the podcast by following linking to any of the subscribe buttons on the podcast page. Additionally you can view any podcast going back to May 2007 by following the link of the podcast page to the blog page.

The purpose of the Classic Poetry Aloud Podcast is “to add another dimension to the enjoyment of poetry: listening“. As a teacher that has previously taught English, students often lack the understanding that poets write poems to be read. I have compared it to reading music lyrics; without the inflection of voice it does not mean the same. While textbook publishers have previously released audio CDs of the poems within their texts, this limits the teacher to only those poems within the textbook. Classic Poetry Aloud makes use of any poem beyond the limits of copyright limitations. The poems range a large variety of authors ranging from William Blake to Thomas Wyatt with numerous in between. The poems are organized by themes including the Romantics, War Poems, Love Poems, and Season just to name a few.

The blog site also note a Top Ten list based on listener downloads. Many of these also make my top list.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walk Whitman

And a few of my personal favorite that did not make the Top Ten

“To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence” by Jame Elroy Flecker

“To the Virgins to make much of Time” by Robert Herrick

If you teach poetry, you should be able to find at least one poem you enjoy and would like to teach. If you enjoy poetry this podcast is in your corner. If you have never appreiciated poetry, give it a try for a week. You might find something new you like. Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

Enjoy your day,

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Podcast of the Week: SMARTBoard Lessons Podcast

June 14, 2008

As part of my still being formed routine to get back into the habit of blog writing, I am making it a point to publish a review of a podcast once a week. I do this for several reasons. Once of which is that i am addict of audio. I play jazz while I teach and I always have either iTunes or the TV playing. I cannot handle silence. Another reason is that two years ago my school began actively integrating iPod technology into our classrooms. By this I mean that we have issued iPods to our students and are actively working with our teachers to open to the all possibilities that this technology permits.

Another technology that my school actively promotes are Interactive White Boards, specifically SMART Boards. For this reason I cannot think of a better way to connect these two technologies than to make my first podcast review one that combines these technologies.

SMARTBoard Lessons Podcasts

The SMARTBoard Lessons Podcasts is engaging, entertaining, and educational. Podcast hosts Ben Hazzard and Joan Badger provide great lessons plans, links, and music. The lesson plans are often geared toward specific disciplines; however, they can often be adapted to various courses. At the least the lessons demonstrate tools and tricks that a teacher can use or have their students use to make the IWB more than just a projection screen. Joan must spend as much time on the the internet as I do, not necessarily a good or a bad thing, as she always has a couple useful link for teachers to check out. The links are always helpful and often are some type of Web 2.0 application that can be combined with the IWB. The two hosts work great together and provide an entertaining product. Regardless if you are a teacher looking to improve your SMARTBoarding skills or an educator considering the purchase of such a board, this podcast should be a regular part of your iTunes download.

Favorite espisodes include:

Episode 126 Cause and Effect Commercialism
Episode 121 Combining SMART Recorder and Voicethread
Episode 99 Which gave me a Jeopardy Templete

I realize that these are all recent episodes, but i promise I have been listening to this podcasts since the first ten episodes. I’ll blame it on short term memory.

Keep up the good work Ben and Joan.

Enjoy your day,


Another yearly assessment–room for improvement

May 7, 2008

As another school year comes to a close I have the opportunity to reflect. My first reflection is that I did a poor job or keeping updates on my ideas and project on this blog. This is due to several reasons, primary of which is that I was teaching two new courses this past year while trying to adjust two courses I am teaching for the second year. While I have plenty of ideas and notes from the current school year; I also have a new plan. As I look toward reaching my goal of being a more reliable publisher of ideas I was able to make a more organized plan.

The goal is to publish three entires a week divided into three specific categories. Two of these categories address specific goals and tools my school currently uses: SMART Boards and iPods. The third entry will address various thoughts based on my readings for the week. Additionally, I aim to publish one entry reviewing a podcasts and one on a tool or application.

As with most people I enjoy the pressure and my rationalization for procrastination is that I thrive under pressure. That said, keep after me. Feel free to email or nudge me on Twitter if you feel my thoughts are valid and I seem to be dropping the ball.

Enjoy your day,


iTune U: The Potential for Change

August 9, 2007

A few months ago Apple announced the launching of iTunes U as a separate feature. I am excited about this announcement for a variety of reasons. Podcasting is becoming a common theme for those who discuss Web 2.0 applications. However, some in education feel that podcasting is a fad, too complicated, or any of several excuses for not embracing this powerful tool. The launching of iTunes U provides a powerful endorsement of podcasting in education.

While universities have been taking advantage of iTunes and podcasting for the past few years, the introduction of iTunes U puts podcasting in education into a larger light. The number of K-12 podcasts in growing rapidly each day. When I first started exploring podcasting two years ago the Education category on iTunes had the sub-categories of K12 and Higher Education. Since then the sub-categories has expanded to include Ed Tech, Training and Language Courses. The number of educational podcasts is so great that if I do not place time limits on my searches I end up spending most of my evening searching and listening to various educational podcasts. The introduction of a specific University feed on iTunes can direct lifelong learners or educators.

Open/Free Learning

I embrace the fact that I am a nerd. At any given moment my TIVO will have between 10-20 hours or recordings from the History Channel. I recall in college using Yahoo to locate the syllabus or project assignments for courses at universities I did not attend, simply because of an interest in the topic. The only deterring factor to this practice, setting aside that I kept this practice a secret from my roommates, was the time involved in the process of searching for assessments. iTunes U will allow people with similar addictions the opportunity to attend courses as if they were at the school.

Continued Content Development

As an educator I am excited about the chance to continue my education. I have found that time is against me, preventing me for keeping active all of the podcast subscriptions on my iTunes. That said, the ability to subscribe to a college level course is a great tool. Last year I taught a course in economics. While I enjoy this topic, I have not studies this discipline since my junior year in college. The ability to enroll in college level economic courses is a great advantage for me. I cannot only use such courses to recall the explanations of topics that my and other professors use, but I can experience the changes in these explanations since my graduation.

Podcasting ideas

I began using podcasting in my English courses in reaction to the NPR series “This I Believe“. After my wife tipped me off to the series, I thought it would be a good essay topic for my students. This lesson is my favorite of the year and my students tend to enjoy the process. In planning this lesson, I realized that the odds were against one of our essay hitting the radio waves, so we began podcasting the essays. While I do not know that I will be able to get such ideas from courses on iTunes U, I am optimistic.

Future Change

The high of my excitement for iTunes U is the possibilities for change. In a podcast in early June, George Mason Professor Russ Roberts interviewed Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Towards the end of the podcast, beyond the 45 minute mark, Pink and Roberts begin to discuss the idea of great professors who cannot communicate their discipline. Pink notes that the common statement that, “Professor X knows his subject, but does not know how to teach,” is an incorrect statement. Pink argues that if a Professor truly knows his or her content, then they could relate this information to the students. I admit that until I heard this podcast I subscribed to the theory that a professor could be smart, but not a good teacher. Given time to digest Pink’s position, I must agree. If someone truly understands the information they teach, they can relate this information to the audience. In fact, I believe that understand how to connect with your audience holds more weight than being brilliant in your field.

Why mention this? I recall when Duke assessed their iPod initiative one of the concerns by professors was student attendance. One professor noted that he began implementing pop quizzes because students were passing exam by simply listening to his podcasts and quit attend class. The response to this professor, paraphrasing because I cannot find the bookmarked article, was to transform the way you conduct class. If your students can pass the course without attending class, then why should they. My hope is that more college professors will realize how podcasting can liberate them from lecturing as much as shift the learning in courses. Then again with the growth in K12 podcasting, if college professors do not embrace podcasting, students are going to eclipse them and by using the right brain thinking rule the university.

Enjoy your day,


iQuiz: interactive iPods

August 2, 2007

I have ended my continental travels for the summer and am finally settling back in to school mode. My wife and I took a relaxing trip to Cozumel for our anniversary. The day after our return I headed up to Fargo, ND to coach at the USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National Championship. While the upcoming school year was the last thing on my mind while in Mexico, the fifteen hour drive to Fargo provided ample opportunity for ideas. Unfortunately my hotel did not have a stable wireless internet connection, so these I listed these ideas on my Treo to be formalized upon my return. That said …

iQuiz

If you have not heard about this recent addition to iTunes, check out this overview. I first heard about iQuiz at NECC. Yesterday I create my first iQuiz using iQuiz maker and it is as easy as advertised. I based the quiz on my presentation on iPods to the faculty at my school in July. I intend to distribute the quiz to members of the faculty, allowing them an opportunity to practice playing with iQuiz and review some of the information from the presentation.

Review:

The iQuiz Maker application is as user friendly as advertised. Creating new questions is a simple as typing a blog article. I was able to create questions by both typing directly into the application and also by copying and pasting from OpenOffice. My intent by doing this was to see if I would be able to easily transfer questions from quizzes already made. After purchasing iQuiz from iTunes, $0.99, I was able to export my quiz, sync my iPod, and began playing.

Likes:

Besides the ease of use of the iQuiz Maker I enjoy the potential of this application. The iQuiz Maker allows the creator to choose from either True and False or Multiple Guess questions. For T/F questions you can include a clearification note if the correct answer is False. iQuiz also provides the user with a variety of statistics. In addition to the last score, iQuiz also provides the record score and average score. The statistics also display the percentage of correct answers broken down by T/F or Multiple Choice Questions on a latest correct and overall. The simplicity of the application and readout of statistics allow for high potential.

While I am not endorsing standardized exams, I do enjoy trivia games. I feel that a teacher can use iQuiz Maker to create fun reviews specific to the content in his our her course. If a teacher has already typed out review questions it would take little time to copy and paste these questions into iQuiz Maker and export them for student use. A teacher can use the same questions from the class review activity for the iQuiz. This will simply provide students another opportunity to review the content and practice on the style of the questions.

iQuiz would also be a great alternative to comprehension quizzes. I detest spending class time to administer a quiz to ensure the completion of homework. With iQuiz a teacher creates a comprehension quiz and sends that home with the students. The next class period I could check that they completed the quiz during the class warm-up. While I realize that a student could easily complete the quiz while reading the assignment or complete the quiz without reading, the same is true of any take home quiz. Students in my courses understand that memorizing the information does not prove anything. They must be able to own and to use this information.  Additionally if a student is taking a short-cut on a low impact daily quiz, then this students has outside circumstances that should be addressed. The difference between a traditional quiz and and a portable iQuiz is the students has the opportunity the review the information on the quiz and get instant feedback at anytime in the future. This way a student who realizes they cannot recall the information requested by the quiz, they can review these questions anytime in the future in a non-confrontational environment. With automated, instant feedback the student does not have to ask someone else and face embarrasment in reviewing a quiz the teacher assigned the week before.

Requests:

While iQuiz Maker is a great addition to iTunes, there is one main improvement I would like to see made on the next version. I would like to see more use of the Correct Answer Explanation. While the use of this feature for False answers is nice, the opportunition to provide an explanation or strees a specfic point when the answer is True would be nice. Additionally, the use of a Correct Answer Explanation for multiple guess questions would be even better. Aside from the request, I feel that this is a great addition to iPods and a great addition to educational technology.

If you are using this new program or begin using this program, let me know about your results.

Enjoy your day,


July iPod session

July 13, 2007

Earlier this week I presented to some faculty member at my school the various ideas on how to use iPods in educational settings.  I shared some of the ideas from my classes and ideas that other teachers used in the Freshman courses last year.  I also showed off the iQuizmaker that I learned about at Tony’s presentation at NECC.  While I have not created any quizzes yet, I love the idea.  This is definately an application that I will use in my courses this upcoming year.

To further promote what we are doing and to document some of the lessons and ideas I created an iPods in Education wiki.  If you are curious about how you can use an iPod to enhance your class take a look.  If you have ideas that you want to share, log-in.  The password for the wiki is education.

I am off for an anniversary trip with my wife.  I will check back after our trip.

Enjoy your day,


NECC Podcasts are ready

July 2, 2007

The first two recordings from NECC are ready. You can either revisit the posted notes from Tony Vincent’s iPod presentation or Alan November‘s global learning presentation or visit me on iTunes at the Final Curve podcast. Look forward to a few more podcasts from NECC and future podcasts from Dallas.

Enjoy your day,