360 Degree Classroom Video

We’re looking to get more classroom video for a variety of reasons and that led to a demo from Teachscape and their Reflect product. It’s a decent idea, 360 degree video of the classroom and another camera with a specific focus. You can’t see anything about the quality in the demo videos. One major warning flag is that they don’t have any video from the product. No obvious prices. Let’s just say it’s really expensive, really expensive. Expensive enough that I can’t remember the numbers properly because my brain filed it under crazy. It looked even more insane when I happened to find the Sony Bloggie. I’d never heard of it but it seems pretty similar to the Flip and it has an attachment for 360 degree video. There’s also some interesting ways to hack it to get higher quality 360 degree video out. All for $170. If I was going to spend the money that Teachscape wants for their unit, I’d want quality like Yellowbird. This stuff is slick and interactive (you do have to fly in a team from the Netherlands though). I’m also playing around with the idea of trying one of the 360 degree lenses on a 5DMKII and seeing what I can do with the video.

Serendipity

We found this monster today. He’s a Hickory Horned Devil1. We researched him- learned about his habitat, that he’ll eventually become the regal moth, and the fact that he’s just about ready to burrow into the soil for pupation. We’ve found a lot of animals and insects this summer. Everything from tortoises to caterpillars- all by chance. They each led to more knowledge for my sons but more importantly they’ve increased their interest and curiosity about nature and science. That’s what I want out of schools. I want them to create more opportunities for teachable moments, more chances for kids to follow their passions and interests, more pathways and more flexibility. I want schools orchestrating chances for serendipity. What I see instead are multiple choice tests and many, many more multiple choice tests to prepare you for the final big multiple choice test. What little chance, individuality and spontaneity left is getting stripped out and we pretend to wonder why teachers quit and students are bored. Serendipity is the enemy of standardization. Serendipity happens when your class is out in the woods and finds a giant, terrifying caterpillar even though you’re supposed to be looking for leaves2. You supplement serendipity by letting kids use class time to research this monstrous worm despite the fact that it isn’t on any state […]

First day of class

I’m teaching technology integration as part of a teacher licensure program at the University of Richmond. The classes are small and made up primarily of career switchers. They often seem less than thrilled to be greeted by my baby face and currently very uncut hair. I try to make up for this by referencing my 97 careers, 13 children and then doing everything from the command line. Here’s one of the things we did on the first day of class that seemed to work pretty well. 4 Slide Sales Pitch Inspiration I read this on Dan’s blog way back when. I wanted to use it then and I’ve been waiting ever since1. Assignment You’ve got 25 minutes to come up with a four slide introduction for yourself. What should we know? What makes you stand out? Why are you here? These and other exciting questions will be answered. I pitched is as a mix between the standard first day of class introduction and impressing a perspective employer. I showed them a few examples from Dan’s page. That may have been a mistake as it seems to have intimidated a few and I wonder if it colored the design choices of some others2. Rationale This is a technology integration class. I need to know something about these people so I can […]

True to his Grammar – Dizzee Rascal

Big version here Probably not much use to U.S.A. teachers but I was listening to a song by Dizzee Rascal (he’s big in the UK – I swear). The phrase “true to his grammar” was too good to resist and there were some great high resolution shots out there. So, once again you get a classroom related rap/English poster. Remember the whole point is to find interests you and your students share and then leverag them to the hilt. Despite growing up in Alabama, I like rap, always have. If you don’t like rap and you try to fake it things will go very, very badly. This is true of most things in life and in teaching. Faking = bad. (that’s the condensed wisdom of this comment thread) If rap, or strange UK rap, isn’t for you (or your students) find out what will work for them and you. Then come up with ways to use it. This comes from a guy who used to dress up like a ninja to discuss backing up computers. Strange things work but only if you’re really behind them. Take a risk but make it one you believe in. On another note- go vote dy/dat for best individual blog and best new blog. If you aren’t reading him, I suggest you start.

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Clarence Fisher on Classroom Studios

Clarence Fisher of Remote Access has been kind enough to work through some thoughts on creating a classroom studio on his blog. I find his insights and questions helpful as I try to more fully realize my goal of making my classroom more construtivist and less legalistic. I can’t help but pine for what he is attempting as I look ahead toward two major standardized assessments this year. While I wish for more freedom to give my students space to explore their interests and see the power of language, my time is being chipped away to make standard-based assessments, test and quizzes that mirror the state assessments, and lessons that teach a narrow set of concepts that every eighth grade student must have minimal mastery (lord, is that an oxymoron or what?!). Sometimes I feel like Moses as I look at all the amazing potential technology has to frame real learning (skills and desire as opposed to lists of concepts, etc.). Moses asked god to let him see the promise land even though he knew he would never step foot in it. I look at the “put out the fire” mentality of education today and get impatient and frustrated. A quick pedagogical revolution (another oxymoron) could unleash a time of learning not seen since The Enlightenment, yet I sit on […]