My First Ignite Presentation

I did my first Ignite presentation earlier this month. It was a great experience and a classic example of volunteering for something without really knowing all the details. This was not my first time presenting at a school-based session, but the structure of an Ignite was something entirely new to me.

Ignite Requirements

When doing an Ignite, you have 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. This makes for a quick 5 minute presentation. This also means that slides cannot be too wordy, and usually contain more images than words. The images are usually a variety of pictures, gifs, or memes. The explanation of the topic and the slides comes more from the speaker than the text. For me, this meant more rehearsal than usual in order to get a feel for what 15 seconds per slide feels like, and how much can be said for each slide.

Ignite Challenges

The biggest challenge I had with this type of presentation was staying on topic for each slide and not changing what I wanted to say each time I rehearsed. This link is an article by Laura Foley and gives 6 steps for creating an Ignite. If this is your first time doing this, it is well worth taking the time to read. Be sure to pay particular attention steps 1 and 2. Writing an outline and a script is essential. I wasted a lot of time trying to jump right into making the presentation only to go back and do the first two steps.

The other challenge I had was that I felt limited with how much I could write on each slide and what media I could use. Even though this was not my first time presenting, I feel like it never gets easier. I always feel nervous getting up in front of people, especially when there are colleagues in the audience with much more experience than me. With other presentations, I’ve been able to add sound or video clips, and also use fancy transitions so I am not constantly talking. With an Ignite, however, the text and images need a quick, concise explanation from the presenter. There is no time to ramble and get sidetracked. This is where preparation and rehearsal plays an important role.

Preparation and Presentation

As I was working on this presentation, I was reminded of the saying, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” I felt this was really the case here. The outline and script took me the most time, but when they were done the rest moved very smoothly. Designing the slides was probably the easiest for me and took the least amount of time. I used Google Slides and wrote the script for each slide in the speaker notes section. I went through the presentation a couple of times without the 15 second limit just to practice what I would say. After this, I published the link to the slides and set the transition time for 15 seconds. I then began practicing the presentation from start to finish. The topic I was speaking about was a project I was working on since January, so it was very familiar to me. I had written some paper notes out to guide me and keep me on topic, but after a couple times through the presentation, I no longer needed them.

There were five presenters doing an Ignite and I was third on the list. Listening to the first two was very nerve-racking, but when it was my turn it felt like the fastest 5 minutes of my life. It was over before I knew it and I was surprised at how smoothly it went. All the practice and preparation was well worth it.

How I felt after the presentation.

Other Resources

Along with the article link above, this Ignite link has a great collection of Ignites from all over the world and on a variety of topics. It also has links to help you find an Ignite near you or Google Form link to start an Ignite in your city.

Note about the images

All of the images above were done through a Google search with the image settings on “Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification”. Why the Rocky images? I traveled with my family up to New Jersey and Philadelphia for spring break. One of our stops along the way was the art museum and the Rocky statue. I grew up there, so it was not new to me, but I guess it has made me a little nostalgic.

Three of My Favorite Things

Over the past two months I have come across some new sites and apps that I have a grown to love and use more and more.

Kubbu

Kubbu can be used as both a game site and an assessment tool. At first, the homepage looked a little plain and uninviting. However, once I started to create some activities you I quickly began to appreciate what could be done with this site. 

There are 5 types of activities you can create and examples of all of them can be found in the links below. There are a variety of options for each activity. I was unable to show all of these with just one link for each activity. For example, you can make the activities have a time limit, reveal the correct answers at the end, or randomize the order of the questions. I tried to include various options in each of the links in order to show these features. Games can be created for individual students are groups, and data can also be gathered and analyzed if it is used as an assessment. You also have the option to upload pictures, sounds, and other files and include these in certain activities. For an example of this, check out the Composer – Activity/Quiz link.

The links below are examples of the type of activities and assessments you can make with Kubbu. You will need Adobe Flash to view the links.

Science Review – Divide Activity

Crossword Puzzle

Match Game

Composer – Activity/Quiz

Cloud Quiz – Slides

WorkFlowy

This is a great app if you need to store how-to information that you don’t use on a daily basis and it is easy to forget. I also use it to trouble shoot tech problems that staff have regarding their accounts, desktops, or laptops. I get questions like this every so often and because I don’t do these procedures on a daily basis I don’t have them memorized. I find this app much more convenient that searching through my Shared folder on Google Drive. After four years, my Google Drive is just a digital version of an unorganized file cabinet.

It is also great for documents with a lot of information that you need to refer to frequently but are too hard to remember.  I started using it last week with our inventory audit for Chromebooks and classroom technology. I was able to quickly find room numbers and Chromebook cart numbers for the auditors just by checking by phone and clicking to the specific teacher. 

VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a presentation tool that allows you to create slide presentations using a variety of media and provide commentary. You can post a variety of comments ranging from text, audio, video, and even comments from a telephone call. It is impressive and easy to use on a basic level, but I’m sure the more time I spend with it I will discover a lot more features. The tutorials are fairly short and very helpful. It also has a training section with free workshops, certification, and a library of VoiceThreads from other users.There is also a browse feature on your home page that allows you to search other VoiceThreads on a variety of topics. The media that you add can be pulled from your computer, other media sources (Kahn Academy, Google Drive, Flickr, and even other Voice Threads), audio recordings, webcam pics and videos, and URLs.

You can sign up for free with the usual information of first and last name, email, and a password. You click Create and start adding media to your slide presentation. When you are done, you can start playing through the presentation and adding audio or video commentary, or written comments throughout the presentation. You can also annotate on slides, if needed. There is a fade option on the annotation, so it won’t stay on the slide permanently but you can disable this feature. When you are done, you can share the presentation with others and they can leave comments, as well. Along the lines of sharing, you can also create a contact list and sort people in your contacts into groups.

One way I hope to use this at my school is for our School Leadership Team meetings. We have these meetings every third Tuesday of the month and the parent turnout is very low. I would like to create a slide presentation of what we will be discussing that evening and create a video comment for each slide. We could then share the presentation and invite parents to comments as they watch. There is a comment moderation feature, so we could chose to leave comments out if they were off-topic or not appropriate for the discussion. I think this is a viable option for reaching more parents at the school and including them in the discussion of important topics like bullying and harassment and grading and homework policies.

What is a PLN?

The last two weeks have been very busy, so I have not really had much time to get to a blog post for March. However, I did spend these two weeks getting to work with Adobe Spark for a presentation I did on defining, creating, and reflecting on a professional learning network, or PLN. The embedded presentation below will take you to the Adobe Spark I created on this topic. I hope you enjoy it and please leave comments if you feel I left something out, or you have some advice of your own to give.

I would like to add a quick note on Adobe Spark, too. If you have never used this tool for presentation, I would recommend giving it a try. I wanted to try something new and this was a nice change of pace from Slides and Powerpoint. As with most of these tools, there is enough on the free account to create a nice presentation. If you are looking for more features to add to your work, then you will need to consider an upgrade for a price.

https://spark.adobe.com/page-embed.jsPLN Presentation and Reflection

Creating Digital Citizenship Lessons with Common Sense Media and Padlet

Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

Students today are surrounded by technology. It is a large part of their life outside of school, and is also becoming more and more prevalent in the classroom. Along with the myriad list of rules and procedures teachers need to cover in the classroom, digital citizenship is now being added to that list. It is essential to educate students to be positive and productive members in an online community.

Digital citizenship can be defined as “the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2017). This definition does seem rather broad and subjective, however, websites like Common Sense Media break this topic down further into smaller categories. If you are a teacher in North Carolina, digital citizenship is one of the four focus areas in the North Carolina Digital Learning Competencies. It is important to note that when reading through this section of the standards, there is much more for teachers to do than just “teach” digital citizenship. Words such as engage, model, demonstrate, and integrate are used as guides for what teachers should be doing with this topic (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, n.d.).

Technology, especially in the form of social media, plays a major role in the life of students. Research from Cyberbullying.org shows that 95% of teens are online and a majority of them access the internet on a mobile device (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018). Along with the potential for cyberbullying, there is also a strong potential for students to overshare or post something inappropriate that could have a lasting impact on their future. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) lists college admission, scholarships, sports, and employment as potential areas a negative digital footprint can affect (Fani, 2015). These four areas are what middle school and high school students are working towards for their future.

The development of critical thinking skills is a concept teachers address in their subject areas and is also important in digital citizenship, as well. “It appears that even young people, oft thought to be the tech savviest among us, are just as susceptible to believing falsehoods and information from questionable sources” (Perkins, 2016). With such a large number of teens accessing the internet, research shows this is also the place where they get their news. A survey posted on Common Sense Media shows that forty-seven percent of teens get their news from Facebook and only forty-four percent feel that they can tell real news from fake news online (Robb, 2017). The need for media literacy and critical thinking is essential in order to ensure that the news young people are reading is factual.

Resources like FOSI, Common Sense Media, and the North Carolina Digital Learning Competencies provide teachers resources to inform students of the dangers online, as well as, lessons with a positive point of view. It can be easy for those in education to constantly point out negative online behavior and the countless number of things that students shouldn’t do.  However, this will not create the type of digital citizens we need for the future. Teachers and administrators strive to provide students with a school that is physically safe and welcoming. This same atmosphere must be considered for them as they navigate the online world where so much of their time is spent.

Padlet and Digital Citizenship

Made with Padlet

The embedded Padlet above is an example of how you can use this platform to create lessons on any topic…in this case Digital Citizenship. All of the material posted in this Padlet came from the Common Sense Education site and their digital citizenship curriculum. Much of their curriculum on this subject has been upgraded recently and is much easier to use. For example, the lesson quizzes are now force copy Google Forms making it much easier to link to another site or platform. The curriculum on Common Sense is broken down into six categories.

This material in the Padlet above is from the 6th grade curriculum and it only features lessons for three of the six categories. In each of the categories above, I included an overview that is slightly reworded from the one find on the Common Sense site. I then included the video (if one is in the lesson), the slide lesson (already made by Common Sense), and the lesson quiz. I like to include videos with each of the lessons, so if there isn’t one in the specific lesson, you can always search the Common Sense website and find something on that topic.

I have created three Padlets for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teachers to use in their classrooms over the next few weeks. I have never used Padlet like this before and I am hoping it will be successful. I will add to this post later  to provide feedback from the students and teachers.

Resources

Youtube’s Free Audio Files

Since moving into the position of technology facilitator, I have been making more use of my school Youtube account. I find myself making more videos now to help train staff and students on a variety of apps or software that is used in the classroom and school. I have also returned to school for certification and now have assignments that require me to make videos.

When I first discovered this about a month ago, it was one of those moments where I thought, ‘”Why has it taken me so long to discover this and why does it surprise me that this is available?” What prompted me to write this post is that when I started mentioning these files to others at my school, they didn’t know they existed either. The best thing about these files is that they are royalty free.

To access these files you will need to go to your profile section in the top right and click on Creator Studio.

Once in the Creator studio, scroll down to Create and select Audio Library.

As you can see in the image below, there are music and sound effect tabs for you to select. Below that you can see how you can select what type of music or sound effects you are looking for based on a variety of categories (Genre, Mood, Instrument, etc.).

One way I have used this is with PowerPoint presentations. I am still trying to work on using these files with Google Slides. It is not that hard of a process, but with a busy schedule I have just found it easier to insert and audio file into PowerPoint. I also might save that topic for a future post. After showing these files to some students at my school, they also found it to be a nice addition to their presentations.

Enjoy!

2019 – The Year of Opera

It’s December 30th and the new year is almost here. I thought I would make my December post about a resolution I would like to make for 2019. Last year, I decided to make a resolution that was more about adding something to my life, instead of trying to take something away or give something up. I wanted to do the same thing this year.

I did a post back in January of 2018 about how I wanted to start learning Welsh. While there were moments throughout the year where I struggled to squeeze in a few lessons during the week, I am still studying with Duolingo at least 3 -4 times a week. I can’t say that I am really fluent, but I have learned a few words and phrases, as well as, expanded my knowledge of Welsh history and culture.

Since the start of the winter break more than a week ago, I found myself searching opera on my Freegal app. I was amazed at how many famous works are available. I began listening to La Boheme, Tosca, Madame Butterfly – to name a few. I didn’t force myself to listen from Act 1 all the way to the end, but instead I just scrolled through the opera listening for a minute or two to see if the song appealed to me. Some did and some didn’t. I even came across one recording titled – 100 Essential Opera Arias, Songs, and Overtures. This is one I have been listening to quite a bit and getting some of the greatest hits of opera. It is also increasing my interest in listening to the entire opera instead of just one or two arias.

This evening I decided to make listening to opera and learning more about it my resolution for 2019. I am going to try and listen to an opera a month for the entire year. I might even look into getting tickets for an Opera Carolina performance. 

I will end this post with my current favorite from Puccini’s La Boheme – Che gelida manina. I’ve included the original text, the translation, and a video. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Italian Text of Che Gelida Manina

Che gelida manina,
se la lasci riscaldar.
Cercar che giova?

Al buio non si trova.

Ma per fortuna
é una notte di luna,
e qui la luna
labbiamo vicina.
Aspetti, signorina,
le dirò con due parole
chi son, e che faccio,
come vivo. Vuole?
Chi son? Sono un poeta.
Che cosa faccio? Scrivo.
E come vivo? Vivo.
In povertà mia lieta
scialo da gran signore
rime ed inni damore.
Per sogni e per chimere
e per castelli in aria,
lanima ho milionaria.
Talor dal mio forziere
ruban tutti i gioelli
due ladri, gli occhi belli.
Ventrar con voi pur ora,
ed i miei sogni usati
e i bei sogni miei,
tosto si dileguar!
Ma il furto non maccora,
poiché, poiché vha preso stanza
la speranza!
Or che mi conoscete,
parlate voi, deh! Parlate. Chi siete?
Vi piaccia dir!

English Translation

What a frozen little hand,

let me warm it for you.
What’s the use of looking?
We won’t find it in the dark.
But luckily
it’s a moonlit night,
and the moon
is near us here.
Wait, mademoiselle,
I will tell you in two words,
who I am, what I do,
and how I live. May I?
Who am I? I am a poet.
What do I do? I write.
And how do I live? I live.
In my carefree poverty
I squander rhymes
and love songs like a lord.
When it comes to dreams and visions
and castles in the air,
I’ve the soul of a millionaire.
From time to time two thieves
steal all the jewels
out of my safe, two pretty eyes.
They came in with you just now,
and my customary dreams
my lovely dreams,
melted at once into thin air!
Bu the theft doesn’t anger me,
for their place has been
taken by hope!
Now that you know all about me,
you tell me who you are.
Please do!

 

Translation by Peter J. Nasou

Green, Aaron, and Aaron M. Green. “English Translation of ‘Che Gelida Manina’ From La Boheme.” Thoughtco., Dotdash, http://www.thoughtco.com/che-gelida-manina-lyrics-724324.

List of Completed Operas by Month

  • January 2019 – La Boheme – Puccini
  • February 2019 – Madame Butterfly – Puccini
  • March 2019 – Don Giovanni – Mozart
  • April 2019 – Aida – Verdi
  • May 2019 – The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

Establishing a Baseline for Technology Resources

group hand fist bump
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Recording a Planning Session

As the technology facilitator for a middle school and also a member of the school leadership team, I get to work closely with administration and help implement any plans they have regarding technology or tech resources. One plan the administrative team had was to make videos of one planning session on each grade level. This video would serve as an exemplar for the other staff to watch and use as a model for their sessions. I was responsible for recording the entire session, then editing it and looking for the most important parts to cut and make into a shorter video –  about 5 or 6 minutes. This was quite a challenge, but I made an interesting observation about technology resources while reviewing one session.

A Baseline for Technology Resources

As I was editing one grade level’s video, I observed how consistent they were with their use of resources. They had a great rapport with each other and seemed to all be on the same page in terms of content, standards, schedule, and what tech resources they were using. They seemed to have come to an agreement in terms of what they would use as teachers and with the students. They were consistent with posting all the materials for students on Google Classroom and they had their shared resources on Google Drive that were quick and easy to find. They also used other resources like the Commons section in Canvas and Discovery Education to find lessons, videos, and assessments. They all used the exact same resources when it came to specific parts of their planning and established this as a baseline. It was something that I had not seen in the other planning sessions and something I had never experienced as a teacher. So often, everybody finds their own  apps or sites they like to use and when they get together to plan everybody is pulling from different resources.

I think this is something to consider when trying to establish norms in a planning session. There is so much out there that it can be very overwhelming.  It can also take up valuable planning time trying to sort through and decide who is doing what each time you meet. The idea of having a specific shared folder(s), a specific LMS for the students, and specific place(s) to pull resources from will make planning much more efficient and productive.