Engnology

Reflections of Blending English and Technology in the Classroom

Teaching Tether Free: ipad and the Apple tv

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Three weeks ago I was given an ipad to aid in my teaching. Having never touched one before, I was excited to explore the possibilities and advantages that teaching with an ipad would offer to the students. I was also at an advantage having both an HDMI projection system and an apple tv to air stream my ipad through. (I would recommend both of these additions to maximize use) I have found 2 main advantages while teaching with an ipad:

1. No anchors, unlike hooking my laptop up to the dongle and then projecting from my station, with my ipad, I am MOBILE. Because of the wifi capabilities within our building, I am able to essentially be anywhere in the school and stream into my classroom. It is hard for me to sit still or stand in one place while teaching. With the ipad, I am able to move about freely. Mobility means closer proximity to students, easier monitoring options, and through the app Splashtop, I am able to control my laptop wirelessly displaying any document, program, etc. I might need from there.

2. Student Examples, I will list a few of my favorite apps later in the post, but one that I use most frequently is Noteshelf. Through Noteshelf I am able to draw, annotate, and explain in real time using student work. Take for example grammar, as I am walking around the classroom I notice a common mistake in students’ writing concerning commas. I can quickly snap a picture of their essay, annotate it, and use their own work as an example. This provides relevance and engagement; the examples are specific to their own writing. In essence, my ipad becomes a mobile document camera, when combined with noteshelf it allows me the capabilities to manipulate the document without being tethered to one place.

Must Have Apps So Far:

Splashtop

Noteshelf 

Zite 

ShowMe

Tweetdeck

Inkling 

Written by sfarnsworth

November 22, 2011 at 1:44 am

#BCLUW students on #WhyIWrite

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BCLUW students added their voice to the twitter feed on National Writing Day answering the question – #whyiwrite. Inspired by the challenge posted on the New York Times Learning Network, BCLUW students composed, reflected and tweeted reasons why they wrote. First year BCLUW English teacher, Molly Finkenbinder,  also recorded student messages and a video will be posted shortly.

Here is a storify highlighting their reasons:

#bcluw students,, National Writing Day asks,,, #whyiwrite add your voice here!
shfarnsworth
October 20, 2011
#bcluw sophomores: Let me know 1 positive thing about writing in class today! Notecards. Pics. Voice Think. Create. Share. WRITE! #whyiwrite
finkenmo
October 20, 2011
#whyIwrite #bcluw I write to speak when no one listens..
HeyoooKelso
October 20, 2011
RT @mitch_mill: #bcluw #whyiwrite I write to communicate with friends
Chuck_Neff
October 20, 2011
I write to feel free. #whyiwrite #bcluw
rschultzzz15
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write to communicate with other people with something other than my voice. #bcluw
caitlynpurcell7
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write because I want to or like to. Sometimes maybe to show my emotions. #bcluw
shelnico
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write to model for students. To be a better teacher. Add my voice to the mix! #bcluw
shfarnsworth
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write because it’s all around you and it’s like we’re always doing it, sometimes I write because I have to. #bcluw
Haley_Justine
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite I write to communicate with friends
mitch_mill
October 20, 2011
#WhyIWrite I write to do my school work. To communicate with others. #BCLUW
kodi11
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite To help people learn about chevy citations
Chuck_Neff
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite i write to express my feelings.
eschossow31
October 20, 2011
I write because life depends on it #bcluw #whyiwrite
finkenmo
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write when I send emails. When I write I it seems to never stop so I guess i do it for fun. #bcluw
HunterMcCalley
October 20, 2011
I write when I can’t think of what to say…#bcluw #whyiwrite
NicSimpson22
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite (jacob h.) I write when I sign birthday cards
shfarnsworth
October 20, 2011
To make sense of the world.. #whyiwrite #bcluw
RaeBebe03
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite to communicate with people throughout the world. #bcluw
kariberryoh
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write so that I don’t forget what I want to say! #bcluw
DanielleLeeee
October 20, 2011
to communicate without my voice #whyiwrite #bcluw
kbenjii18
October 20, 2011
#IWriteBecause it’s the epitome of expressing myself and if I’m not me, who is? #BCLUW
iFAILbadly
October 20, 2011
I write when the realitivy of the world fails us. #whyiwrite #bcluw
Kaythekat
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite: to put my thoughts in a tangible form #bcluw
Lo_Elise
October 20, 2011
#BCLUW #WhyIWrite I write to express what I am feeling. To explain what I am thinking. To be heard of what I’m saying.
nicolearlene14
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #WhyIWrite I write so show i don’t care what others think about me.
MalVawter20
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #WhyiWrite I write to tell the world how I really feel.
MaddieEmilee
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite I write to be understood
MaddieEmilee
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite i write to give people my ideas how to get passed monday
LukeAsche96
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite to leran more things for school work and it is fun to write
ga_gavin
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite I write to leave a note on the counter when I leave the house.
BlakeSCooper
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite I write to let people know where I am.
jason_arends
October 20, 2011
#Bcluw #whyiwrite So i can keep thinking of ideas for virtual reality
Will_Garber
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write to preserve my ideas and feelings. #bcluw
terraleighfasho
October 20, 2011
#BCLUW #whyIwrite I can hold on to the memories I know I would forget.
LEVI_J_S
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyIwrite I write because i would like to get better grades, get student of the week in math and get better grades over all.
AmblerBo
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite To inform you of what i know!!!
PhReAk64
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite to express myself.
itsLyddie32
October 20, 2011
#WhyIWrite to express my emotions, and clear my head. #bcluw
SadieJeanBean
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #WhyIWrite when i want to remember something
JOHNMAN20
October 20, 2011
#bcluw#whyiwrite to show that i do have a personality and my interest in photgraphy
ashtre9696
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #WhyIWrite to express my feelings
hopeyhope449
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite i write to tell fun and sad moments in my life
shanaynay1122
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite because it is a good way of communicating
bhesp22
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite #bcluw I write because I can’t draw
leahkathryn01
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #WhyIWrite to express my feelings and to remember something important.
MadysenPauline
October 20, 2011
#iwritebecause It allows me to express myself. #bcluw
zoekristine3NT
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #iwrite to express my feelings if I don’t enjoy talking about them.
tmccoy13
October 20, 2011
#bcluw #whyiwrite To communicate with friends and family, and to express my self.
BreannaGardner2
October 20, 2011
#whyiwrite I write to SEE what I am thinking. #bcluw
DCJF13
October 20, 2011

Written by sfarnsworth

October 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Remembering 9/11 – A Lesson in Empathy

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This year marked the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and while I distinctly remember the events that unfolded on that tragic day, my seniors were only in second grade and recall scattered fragments or nothing at all. During a group skype call between the teachers of the blogging community (5 schools where students blog/comment enhancing engagement and widening audience to promote writing) we decided to create a collaborative lesson plan to teach our students empathy, citizenship, and patriotism with the end product in the form of an imovie.

Building a foundation of the tragedy with resources found on the NYTimes Learning Network Blog; teachers @eolsonteacher, @shawnhyervm, @Bev-Berns, @toddvogts, and myself  shared videos, pictures, and reflections with students. We then allowed students to explore the plethora of links found on the blog and report back to the large group their findings. What happened was an emotional connection to the day that most had a disconnect with because of age. Empathetic stories of victims, family members, and heroes were retold through the voice of our students. One student even stated, “I have not thought about or viewed footage from that day for so long, I can finally understand what happened and how horrible it was.” As teachers, this type of response is music to our ears. We want to help mold a future generation of insightful, empathetic citizens who will lead our world in the future.

The next day we used a strategy taught by @KirsteyEwald during an experience while taking the Iowa Writing Project (a division of the National Writing Project). Students wrote answers to prompts on sticky notes which were then complied and edited to form a poem. Each school had different questions ranging from “How do you define America?” to “How can one honor the lives lost during the attacks?” Each student spoke their line and placed an image of their hand into the project. Teachers shared the movies using dropbox culminating in one movie written, spoken, and illustrated by the students!

Students proudly shared their video with family and friends. It floated around facebook and was highlighted in local newspapers and on local news stations making the Anniversary of September 11th more meaningful.

Written by sfarnsworth

October 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm

6 Word Memoir

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Last year creative writing students wrote 6 word memoirs; they enjoyed the exercise but it did not draw the attention that it has this year. With new students, the assignment has taken on a life of its own. I was attending a meeting out of the district  last week when I assigned this writing exercise. Students read excerpts about memoirs, background information about the 6 Word Memoir, as well as examples that have been collected in the past . Finally, students were to write their own memoirs to be shared with their blogging community. Half way through the meeting I started receiving emails from students containing examples of their personal memoirs, as well as added phrases such as “this is fun,” “love this,” and “when do we share.”

Each student will select one memoir to illustrate and submit to be published in a collection. In essence, they are creating the Class of 2012’s 6 Word Memoirs. These memoirs have also been springing up on their blogs, facebook, and twitter; proving that students desire to share writing. Three years ago my students shared their writing within the classroom, now they use social media to share with a world wide audience!

<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_9097119″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/ShaelynnFarnsworth/screen-shot-2011-0901-at-92926-am&#8221; title=”Screen shot 2011 09-01 at 9.29.26 am” target=”_blank”>Screen shot 2011 09-01 at 9.29.26 am</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>presentations</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/ShaelynnFarnsworth&#8221; target=”_blank”>Shaelynn Farnsworth</a> </div> </div>

Written by sfarnsworth

September 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Amazing QR Race Staff Kick Off

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BCLUW kicked off the 2011-2012 school year with a staff QR code race organized by new principal, Cari Teske. The staff was grouped together and “raced” around town in search of QR codes that were placed at local businesses. At each business location we had to do 2 things: 1. take a picture of technology in the workplace, 2.  interview bosses on the qualities they looked for when hiring.

Why this worked:

1.Movement – we, as a staff, interacted and physically moved. We didn’t sit and listen in lecture-style manner.

2. Purpose – connected with businesses to see the technology they used and qualities they look for when they hire.

3. Applicable in classroom – this exercise could easily be adapted into the classroom. In fact, when I have students participate in a writing marathon this fall we will mimic this activity.

4. Fun – Learning can and should be fun, even for adult learners.

Top qualities businesses look for when hiring:

1. Communication Skills

2. Appearance/hygeine

3. Punctualality

4. Integrity

5.Personality, ability to get along with others

How many of these are measurable on the state tests? But….. how important are these skills?

Cari used QR Treasure Hunt Generator  to organize and create the codes.

Written by sfarnsworth

August 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Travelling the Globe with a Twitter Connection

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A twitter connection has provided another opportunity for the students at BCLUW. I met Aaron Cretin on twitter a few years ago, and in person at the first Iowa 1:1 Conference in 2010. A few weeks ago I received a Direct Message from Aaron asking if I would be interested in discussing a possible connection between my students and his brother, Brian Cretin.

Brian and I met at  Applebee’s where I listened to his college and career journey, his local connection, and his plan to travel the globe this upcoming year!  As I sat and listened my mind raced with possibile learning experiences for my students, from having them consider ipod apps essential to travel, to Google Earth walks in Thailand.  Brian spoke with excitement as he told me how he was introduced to International travel in college. By sharing this global  journey with students, Brian hopes to inspire the students to consider possibilities and opportunities available to them.

Along with skype calls and blog discussions, Brian is also capturing his travel through photography. His web-site, View From A Cretin  showcases images from past travels. Creative writing opportunities  will flood the senses of the students as they start their journey in London and travel to Thailand. From there, Brian will decide where his travel takes him.

Organically, the connection will grow throughout the year. The students will guide the learning tailored to interests on the country, cultures, and travel.

Thank you  Aaron for the connection! And thank you Brian for the opportunities you are providing to the students of small-town Iowa as they view the world with you!

Safe Travels and Skype you in a few weeks!

Written by sfarnsworth

August 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

In Response to “Lost Generation” … and Todd

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I was discussing the poem, “Lost Generation”  with my friend Todd Vogts, an educator from Kansas.

I was first introduced to this poem at the Buck Institute that I attended for my work with #IACoPi .

Todd took the discussion we had and blogged about it, so I thought I too would blog about my reflection on the poem:

When I first heard this poem I thought it was just another frightful account of the current generation and all the problems they face in the future. From the overworked, divorced adult they are destined to become, to being labeled as a generation that is “apathetic and lethargic”(line 29), the future is less than bright. The message was clear and straightforward, painting familiar images using familiar words. This all culminated at a logical, if not a bit cliché, last line, “And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it”(line 32). “Hmmm, well this is good,” I thought but nothing extraordinary, until the reading acted upon the command of the bold faced type and started reciting the lines backwards.

When read in reverse, the poem offers a rebuttal to the negative views society places on the current generation. The speaker offers images of hope where there was once despair.  In fact the first line reads, “There is hope.”(line 1). And everything that turned the reader’s stomach into knots the first read through now offers a fist in its place. This generation is one of fighters, out to prove the world wrong. To change the perception of bleakness to light!

But beyond the amazing reversal of the message, the form of the poem was unexpected. The structure of this poem was equally as surprising. I was engaged and inspired. I had never seen something like this and thought of the difficulty it must demand to write this type of poem well. I also like the audio component and would use it after the students read once to themselves, seeing if any picked up on what to do at the poem’s end. This would be a great way to introduce poetry and I am going to use it next year.

Out of curiosity I learned that this poem was originally created for a contest sponsored by the AARP. Young people between the ages of 18-30 had to create a video describing how their lives would be at age 50. Johnathan Reed created this video which placed second in the contest in 2007. According to Wikipedia, this poem was inspired by the political advertisement about Argentina entitled “Truth” http://youtu.be/lFz5jbUfJbk . I think this would be not only a good starting point for a poetry unit, but also a challenging and engaging model for the students to emulate.

Written by sfarnsworth

June 28, 2011 at 2:59 am

#bcluw and #pekinpanthers Collaboration

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I met @MrHadleyHistory at the IACoPi meeting a few weeks ago. He is a passionate, history teacher at Pekin High School, a small school in Iowa. During our conversation he commented on the need to connect with other history teachers in 1:1 schools. I immediately thought of @Mr_Ehn, a innovative social sciences teacher at BCLUW. Since we were at a conference in Des Moines, their introduction happened via twitter.

A week later, we were both back at our own schools, the news of bin Laden’s death broke. I was skyping with my friend @eolsonteacher (my favorite person to gain inspiration and excitement about teaching from) and she shared that she was planning a lesson to co-teach with her social studies teacher the next day based off of the events that transpired. It was one of those teachable moments that is hard to pass up.

Inspired by Erin, I reached out to Mr. Ehn and Mr. Hadley about a project we could do cross-curricular and also involving both schools. Mr. Ehn thought of creating written reflections from interviews the students would conduct. Here is a simple break down of the project and examples of tools we used:

1. Google Docs – we created a list of a slice of the world’s population we wanted the kids to interview. The list contained all genders, races, ages, occupations, etc. Students signed up for a person they would seek out to interview. Students were not allowed to interview someone they spoke to regularly, they had to go out of their comfort zones and use resources to find someone to interview.

2. Google Docs – a document was created listing the requirements of the projects and a list of initial interview questions. We wanted the interview to be organic, inspired by the conversation taking place and so we spent a lot of time discussing this concept. Description   (Google Docs. is an easy way to collaborate between students and schools)

3. Skype – During the introduction of the project to the students we listened in on each other’s classes and added to the discussion taking place in the classroom via skype. It is always inspiring to “watch” a colleague teach, skype allows this to take place easily and also in other classrooms outside of your own building. Skype also helps to provide a co-teaching aspect that we wanted for this project.

4. Fishbowl – Mock interviews were set up to model to students the interview process. Students used TodaysMeet to record important concepts to remember while the mock interview was taking place. This backchannel allowed students to take collective notes containing information they would use when conducting their own interviews. It was projected on screen so that I was able to see the real-time thinking taking place. It also allowed me an opportunity to break character and address, clarify, or add to information the students were recording. The students love this type of collaboration, plus it was an easy way for the two schools to share interview tips.

5. Potential Interview Candidates – Students used all different connections to line-up potential interviews. This was the most challenging aspect of the project for the students. Very rarely do we require students to talk to people they don’t know. Students used family, friends, teachers, twitter, facebook, skype, phonecalls, emails, etc. to connect with people around the world.

6. Reflections – 2 models were written by myself and Mr. Hadley showing the students how to take interview answers and transform them into a reflection, weaving in their own thoughts as well as direct quotes from their notes. Students used phone, skype, email, and face- to- face means to collet their information. One of Mr. Hadley’s students recoreded his interview on his laptop and shared it with the students. Video

7. Linoit – students skyped and used Linoit during the middle of the week to discuss progress, share concerns and contacts, and update each other on their reflections. At the end of the project, students will skype with each other sharing a few of the stories written.

8. Final Product – Students are publishing their work using bookemon. A compilation of their reflections are uploaded to this site creating an on-line book with an option to purchase.

Read our Book Here –  Impressions on US

Written by sfarnsworth

May 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

#iowaish Trip to Sweden

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At the beginning of the school year I had no idea my year of focusing to connect students globally would include a trip to Sweden. Now back just 2 days, I have had a brief time to reflect on the trip, connection, and collaboration that began back in October with @john_noonan and the students in his Philosophy class at the International School of Helsingborg. Last week, Cari Teske, myself, and 5 senior students flew from Chicago to Sweden.

We had an educational and fun trip which was led by the careful planning of Mr. Noonan. Students had a myriad of experiences from museums, castles (including the one that inspired Hamlet), a Picasso exhibit, European Soccer Match, spent time at the school, and lived with host families. Students tasted local cuisine, navigated through the city with public transportation, and appreciated the cultural diversity that surrounded them!

While much hard work and planning went into a project and trip like this, providing an opportunity for students to connect globally through technology has given them, and me, an experience of a lifetime. A small connection on twitter turned into friendships that across continents. Teachable moments were plentiful on the trip, but the most satisfying thing to come from the whole experience was the students’ desires (from both countries) to connect face to face and creating a plan to make it possible. The students returned with a satisfaction that anything was possible, from traveling to a foreign country to being on their own next year for college!  Next week I will have the students write a reflection and post on this blog… but will leave you with a few pictures of our travels! For more about the project checkout our website IOWAISH

At the reception

Philosophy class

A view of Helsingborg (walking tour)

At Hamlet's Castle

Written by sfarnsworth

March 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Global Connection Update (#iowaish)

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Time is fast approaching for our trip to Sweden to meet the philosophy class that we connected with last semester using various social media forums. In March, 5 AP Literature students, myself, and Cari Teske (BCLUW librarian) will depart from Chicago and spend 9 days in Helsingborg, Sweden. This opportunity stemmed from a twitter connection and a desire to connect students globally. Mr. Noonan, a philosophy teacher from the International School in Helsingborg, and myself designed a unit focusing on the understanding of Existentialism and its application to “The Stranger” written by Albert Camus. Although there are many things that will be modified for future use, students gained more than the initial education goals we set at the beginning. The students not only gained an understanding of a difficult philosophy, but also learned to collaborate with others thousands of miles away with differing opinions using technology. The social aspects were the most surprising gains that we as teachers didn’t expect. Students found they had more similarities than differences and added each other on facebook, twitter, etc; becoming fast friends while learning how to use social media for personal and educational uses.

When opportunity presented itself for a chance to meet our “new classmates” we quickly sought parental approval, board approval, and community support. This once in a lifetime trip will bring the connection full circle. We plan to spend time at the school, participate in a Model UN, tour Hamlet’s Castle (a play we also read), visit IKEA headquarters, a trip to Copenhagen, along with experiencing the culture and people of Sweden.

We have started a website to track our progress – Iowaish.net

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be planning a trip to Sweden this year!

Connecting Cultures, Continents, and Classrooms – a testament to the power of 1:1 laptops in the hands of students and teachers!

Written by sfarnsworth

January 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm