Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reflection on Teaching

There are times when the world is quiet enough that my mind begins to swim and my thoughts almost drown me.  I introspect maybe too severely.  I question everything which usually leads to doubt.  I am in my junior year of college and it has been hitting me hard that soon I will have to leave my comfort zone and enter the real world.  Every so often, I ask myself if teaching is the right path for me.  Sometimes I think that it's not.  However, my in-class lesson has made me so much more confident that teaching is something I can do and be great at it.

I had never taught or made any lesson plans before this class.  I was nervous but having Michele as my co-teacher really calmed me down.  When we began our lesson plan, we knew that poetry would probably be the best thing to teach for a class period so short.  Since Poe's poetry is so unlike anything else and we are both huge fans, we decided to teach "The Raven" because both the teachers and students would enjoy it.  To prepare for the lesson, we browsed through YouTube and found three videos that we could use.  I made the copies of "The Raven," inserting footnotes where certain words or references were unclear and setting it up in an attractive way.  We arrived an hour before class to get our videos open, timer ready, and the SmartBoard exercise set up.  I wish that we had analyzed the poem together because at one point, my analysis did not match Michele's which was a little embarrassing.  We planned for bad behaviors by considering the things that might happen and how we as teachers should handle them.  We also put students into groups before the lesson even started so that misbehaving would be more difficult since the offender wouldn't be encouraged by another friend.  I think that we handled misbehavior pretty well overall.

The objectives of the lesson are as follows: 
    1.      Students will be able to discuss the theme of “The Raven.”
    2.      Students will be able to identify the rhyme scheme of the poem.
    3.      Students will be able to cite examples of alliteration, internal rhyme, and repetition throughout  the poem. 
 If this were a real lesson plan, this material would have been stretched over a few days so that the students do not get overwhelmed. In order to assess that the students learned these objectives, we asked people from each group to come up to the SmartBoard and underline the literary devices that they were assigned.  We should have had each of the students hand in their own papers of the literary devices so that we would be able to see that every student learned the objectives.

Overall, the lesson went very well.  There were a few minor glitches but for my first lesson I am very happy with the results.  I think the tools we used to teach the literary devices were very effective but again, I would stretch this lesson over a couple of periods.  What I really learned from this experience is that I need to become more comfortable with my classroom.  I was a little nervous so I was not my normal, excited, eccentric self. I'm sure with some more practice though, I'll be able to be a great teacher.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Digital Storytelling Self Reflection

The digital storytelling process was a truly enjoyable and memorable one.  It was easy for Michele and I to get together since I live in Bayonne and she works at SPC.  The Saturday before the digital story was due, we met up at the school library and got a massive amount of work done within only a few hours.  Michele is a delight to work with and I am so glad she is my partner because we get along so well together and we both had a lot of good ideas to use. 

When we met at the library, the first thing that we needed to do was complete the script for the story. We knew that we wanted to have some kind of informational conversation between the two of us so that we can get both our voices, not just one, into the project.  Originally, we were going to video tape us dressed as two old ladies talking about Poe.  This idea was modeled after the two Muppet characters, Waldorf and Statler, who are always cracking jokes.  However, because we needed more time and we were also concerned with audio becoming a problem, we decided to drop this idea and keep it simple. Once we had the script finished, the recording process came in.  This was maybe the area that we had the most trouble with.  It is tricky to record yourself reading from a paper when 1) you need the reading to be flawless without stuttering or mess ups, 2) you need to add emotion to your voice so that it DOESN'T sound like you're reading from a paper and 3) you are talking loud enough into the microphone.  It took us maybe about 10 tries to have a proper recording.  Although this sounds frustrating, it was actually really funny and we found ourselves laughing at our mistakes.

The picture process was not difficult but it was very time consuming.  We took pictures of one another in the library, trying to imagine our expressions if we were really saying the things in our script.  Because I could not get Internet on my laptop in the library, we discussed the types of other pictures we could add into the digital story so that it was not just pictures of the two of us.  When I got home, I added pictures and needed to time them so that they appear at the proper moment of our recording.  I used Movie Maker to compile everything and I was a little disappointed with it.  Unlike the other program, you could not overlap sound clips.  If I had known this in advance, I probably would have used the other program so that we could have had music behind our voice recording. Therefore, the only thing I could do was add music to the opening screens and the closing screens.  We chose to use music composed by Danny Elfman because his music is very eerie which captures the tone of Poe's life perfectly.

Despite a few setbacks, I am extremely happy with our digital story.  I think it is fun, funny, and informative.  I also think that it is able to help people remember facts about Poe's life better.  Out of all of the projects I have had to do in my life, I can honestly say that I had the most fun with this one.  I like doing creative things while also using technology so this sort of thing is right up my alley.  I can definitely see myself using digital storytelling in my classes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Michele and I had a lot of fun putting this together and we hope that you all enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Andrea and Desi's Bulletin Board - National Anthem Day

Desi and I were given the topic, National Anthem Day.  We decided to make the bulletin board look like the American flag and put the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner on the red and white stripes and put our classmates' names on the stars.  Unfortunately, the finished product did not come out as well as I had planned.  We probably should have measured the bulletin board so that the stripes could be evenly distributed.  As you can see, once we got to the bottom of the board, we ran out of space as well as time.  However, I still think this was a good idea and it was a lot of fun to put together!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Digital Story - Day 2 Closing

Michele and I made a lot of progress today.  We finished writing down all of the facts that we want to include in the digital story.  I also pitched my new idea to Michele which she was very enthusiastic about.  Initially, I thought of using a conversation between an ignorant person and an expert on Poe.  Now, however, it has developed into a comical sketch in which Michele and me will be able to do some acting.  We are both very eager to get started on this.  Hopefully, we will have the script finished by the end of the weekend so that we can act it out and put everything together in time that the project is due.  I think a lot of people will enjoy this presentation and I can already tell that Michele and me will have a lot of fun putting it together.

Digital Story - Day 2 Pre-blog

During the last session, Michele and I wrote down a few facts about Edgar Allan Poe's life because our digital story is going to be on his biography.  I have not done anything else since the last class but today I hope that we can finish up the script.  I just came up with an idea, however, that I think might be pretty fun.  I still need to discuss this with Michele, but I am thinking about using a dialogue in which one of us asks questions about Poe's life and the other answers it.  This way, we can get both of our voices into it and give it more of a personal touch rather than having a straightfoward lecture on Poe.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Digital Story - End of Day 1

Today, Michele and I were able to put together some of the storyboard.  We wrote down facts about Edgar Allan Poe's life and we are now about halfway in.  We still need to complete the facts, organize them, and present them in a way that is more appropriate and "English majorly."  I think that we plan on using the Photo Smart program primarily and will keep pictures on a flash drive so that we do not need to bring in our own computers.  We are going to use the pictures to follow along with the story and our use of music will set the tone and mood of the piece.