Copyright: Do not Speed!

I recently visited our local mountains with my 6th grade class for outdoor science school and decided that I wanted to communicate some of the activities to our parents and families. So, I decided to produce a nightly, video enhanced podcast/movie that parents could view from my school website. Myself and another teacher shared the task of capturing still images and video throughout the day and I would create the podcast so it would be available to the parents. I really enjoyed producing the files and we had great interaction and feedback from the parents. About midweek I received and e-mail from my school district that asked if I knew what “copyright” was and that I needed to change or remove the music that I had used in conjunction with my images and video. Of course I knew what copyright was and is! I would like to think I am above the curve in techie-ness. I would agree in a heartbeat that I cannot recite verbatim the music copyright and fair use laws. My main focus was to create an experience that the parents could enjoy and obtain a glimpse into their kid’s lives at science school. I did not think I was supposed to be following a rubric and that my product was somehow, some grand assault on the music industry and that I was going to cause a major lawsuit against our district!

But in the end folks, I was speeding and I was wrong. Have you ever been driving along and did not notice that you were speeding? You were breaking the law, but you slowly apply the breaks and continue about your day. You knew that you were not supposed to be driving faster than the posted speed limit, you know the law, so you self-corrected and all was well. I too, knew that there was a copyright law but I was distracted and did not focus on this aspect. I just wanted to get a video out and to our parents, so they might enjoy part of the experience. Again, this is not an excuse, I was speeding and I was wrong. I learned a valuable lesson and I will utilize this as a teachable moment. So, when the students walk into my classroom on Monday morning, I will explain to them how I had made a mistake and utilized popular music that was copyrighted in my project. Note, not a single student of mine has ever utilized copyrighted music in their projects but somehow that law did not pertain to me at outdoor science school. It is obvious that I need to teach by example and I believe I am. Here are is an example of a website that offers Royalty Free Music (Creative Commons Music).I was going to bore you with copyright music law, but instead I want to share this amusing video:

The iPod Teacher: Clone Yourself

There is no doubt about it, school districts across America are increasing class size and this reduces the amount of instructional minutes that each individual student has with their teacher. I think every student deserves some time, if even momentary, to communicate with a teacher one-on-one. As we peer out at our classrooms, it is evident some students require more attention than others because of their academic regression and deservedly so, we give them the time they need. But have you ever wished you could clone yourself, so you could be in more than one place at time in your classroom? That time is now! Use an iPod to deliver valuable and meaningful instruction while you evaluate and help students individually. Additionally, it provides students with a self-paced lesson. The students that get it, move on and the students that require more time can pause and review any portion of the lesson. I found out that our district had 20 iPod Touches ready for classroom check-out. Using an iPod for instruction gives you instant buy-in from students, not to mention your coolness factor goes up a notch or two. So here is what I did:
1. Acquired iPods 2. Record a screen cast movie to provide students with a content lesson-Here I use Jing to produce my screen casts. You can choose to use any screen cast software. 3. Open iTunes, Go to File>Add to Library>Select your movie file 4. In iTunes, select your movie>Advanced tab>Create iPod Version5. Connect iPod to your computer (If a school iPod is being used, you can set it to manual by clicking on the black icon of the iPod) 6. Drag the iPod version of the screencast lesson that you created into the ipod and your done.

The lesson is now viewable, you can help individuals and small groups!

Cell Phones and PDA’s for Learning?

There is no doubt about it, as technology evolves, so do the opportunities for teachers to meld fantastic, pioneering technology with great teaching. In a newspaper article written in the Sunday edition of the Orange County Register, one of these opportunities are coming to fruition. We have heard of food on the run, but education on the run? Coastline College in Fountain Valley, California is launching what they hope to be a very successful campaign to allow students to complete classes, not only online, but on their cell phones and PDA’s. In an age where cell phones are carried by young children as low as 10 years of age, maybe younger, cell phones can now be utilized as a bridge for learning, rather than the nuisance that they have become in schools around America. The misuse of phones in the classroom, such as texting or the inadvertent ring to disrupt a lesson have no place in school. However, when used to incorporate and allow students to get excited about content and buy in, I’M ALL FOR IT! We owe it to our students, at any level, to provide them with professional instruction in order to cause learning and understanding of content. As a professional, I look for opportunities for students to learn in an ever advancing technological age. Cells phones and PDA’s may not be the answer for middle school students, not yet anyways, but for high school and college I believe there will be an ever growing progression in the utilization of all media, especially learning on the go. You may even see a student finishing their biology lab assignment at a bus stop near you.

    Click here to read “Studying on the digital run.”
    Click here for Coastline College website

ELMO TT-OS Document Camera

elmo-usa_s-document-cameras-and-digital-visual-presenters

You have worked hard to plan your lesson or activity, you have all your transparencies made, the day went great and then your off to a meeting with a parent. You go to shake their hand and you notice that your hands are covered in ink. You know, a day of transparencies, Vis-A-Vis markers and paper towels to try to clean up the mess. Not the most embarrassing thing in the world, however, teacher ink hands are just not necessary!  I utilize a document camera in my class everyday and guess what? NO MORE TEACHER HANDS! I use the TT-OS ELMO Image Mate in my classroom and it is great. You can place written or typed paper under the camera and display it on your screen through your LCD projector. Virtually anything that you have in the classroom will fit under the camera’s eye. Have you ever done a science demonstration for your class, only to have a number of students that cannot see what is going on in the experiment. Having the document camera allows you to place a beaker or a Petri dish under the camera. The camera has a flexible neck that allows for angled views as well as phenomenal zooming to get close to the action. It changes the way you teach and increases those teachable moments that were once held captive, not due to your creativity, but to the lack of hardware that you have at your disposal.  Additionally, on the ELMO TT-OS, you can utilize an SD card to make a still image straight from the camera or even pre-load the SD card and project it onto your computer. Once on your computer, the possibilities are endless. You can annotate, highlight and so much more. Only your creativity decides the possibilities. Remember, no more teacher hands!