Looking for audio of contemporary poetry — possibly spoken by the author herself? PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing is “an ongoing project, committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives.” It is an online archive of poetry audio recordings that makes tens of thousands of digital files available to the public for free. PennSound also has an internet radio station, podcasts, and videos (and a small selection of classics).
PennSound is all about making audio files that can be played universally, with all metadata intact. Its manifesto in short:
1. It must be free and downloadable.
2. It must be MP3 or better.
3. It must be singles.
4. It must be named.
5. It must embed bibliographic information in the file.
6. It must be indexed.
You can use poetry to introduce or summarize a section or topic, or to illustrate a point. For example, do you have juniors and seniors making plans for life after high school? Why not play Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and have them dissect its meaning? Thanks to Penn Sound, they can also ponder the improbable path the recording took to get to them: from aluminum platter to reel tape to digitization!
To ease the transition back to school, you can pretend you’re still on vacation by using Google to “tour” the national parks through online exhibits. These are artifacts from the parks that were curated in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, showcasing one object from every national park museum collection.
For example, check out the collections from Colorado’s national parks, with everything from hiking safety helmets from the 1970s to a projectile point from ~6,000 B.C.E. There are also short descriptions of why the object was chosen for the centennial.
You can use these objects to get your students back into “historian” mode: why were these objects chosen? Are there other objects that would have been more appropriate? Can they make a convincing case for the alternative? And more: what was the object’s context when it was made? When it was used? When it was found? Now?
And technically, this is a different part of Google altogether, but you could wind up your mini-vacation with a virtual stroll on the beach: Fire Island National Seashore (which has an object in the NY collection), via Google Maps Street View:
“For me, despite my love of cool new gadgets, I always try to start from a place of what do I want my students to learn and what do I want them able to do. If the cool-to-play-with Google Glass or Apple Watch or other gadget isn’t the most efficient way to answer those questions then I don’t bring it into the class. I can’t promise I won’t get one for myself though.”
There is a wonderful multi-part series on Slate’s Schooled section called “The Big Shortcut” on the advantages and disadvantages of using software for credit recovery. The first story is here. In a nutshell, there are real pros and cons to consider if your district is going to use software:
easy to implement for administrators
easy for students to use
flexible use of time and space is great for students with other obligations
students can learn basic facts and skills
allows focus on content rather than socializing
boring and isolating
easy for students to game and/or Google
easy for students to “pretest” out quickly
difficult for students who are not self-motivated or who need structure
shallow content emphasizing breadth instead of depth
shallow assessment (as in multiple choice assessments vs. essays, presentations, or products)
linear presentation of material does not allow exploration
The most successful curricula heavily involve teachers and the class looks more like a blended class than computer lab. Students get the actual teaching that they need while proceeding in an environment that is an alternative to traditional classes.
Therefore, the questions to keep in mind about using software for credit recovery (and credit acceleration!) include the following:
do you have subject-area teachers available to monitor, assess, and give assistance and feedback?
in social studies, is the software consistently updated? (For example, WorldView programs were the social studies component of Edmentum’s Plato Courseware for many years, but their version is no longer updated by us.)
is there a discussion component (either virtual or IRL)?
does the software’s content comprehensively cover your state’s standards? Look for software that has made it through your state’s textbook adoption process, which is a higher standard.
are there options for different types of assessment (not just multiple choice questions)? WorldView programs have different levels of multiple choice questions (factual, conceptual, chronological, and image), guided and un-guided essays, short answer questions, and projects.
how much repetition/randomization do the multiple choice questions employ? How often can students retake the test? WorldView programs even have multiple testing options for multiple choice questions: Study Questions are Socratic, allowing students two tries and give a mini-lesson explanation for the answer. Practice Tests allow the student one try. And coming soon are Mastery Questions that contain different question stems, answers, and distractors.
how secure is your IT system? how much of the internet can students access from within the program? do they have access to their own devices?
And so on! Are you a teacher, administrator, or home-schooler using software for credit recovery or acceleration? Let us know what issues you’ve discovered in the comments.
Use the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.
If you’re a Canvas® LMS user, pilot one of our programs between now and the end of the semester for free!
With end of term testing just weeks away, WorldView is offering schools free unlimited access to one of our social studies products via Canvas® at no cost through the end of this school year. Our interactive workbook-style programs can be used as your digital textbook, as a supplementary aid in class, as a test prep tool, or for credit recovery.
All WorldView titles can be seamlessly embedded into your on-line Canvas® courses utilizing a single sign-on. Canvas® tracking remains fully operational. Just contact WorldView for a Consumer key and Shared Secret of the title of your choosing.
Each student receives a personal account with access to the entire WorldView product. Our comprehensive programs include hundreds of writing activities, thousands of test or study questions, and a plethora of resource material: biographies, chronologies, glossaries, original source documents, and much, much, more.
Visit our website, www.worldviewsoftware.com, for more information on all our social studies titles. (If you’re not a Canvas® user, contact us for a regular product preview.)
Use the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.
Two very interesting recent posts from blog Seattle Education about edtech — where it came from, and where it’s going.
You cannot fully understand what is happening with Future Ready school redesign, 1:1 device programs, embedded assessments, gamification, classroom management apps, and the push for students in neighborhood schools to supplement instruction with online courses until you grasp the role the federal government and the Department of Defense more specifically have played in bringing us to where we are today.
Focus group results have been refined into sophisticated campaigns designed to convince us that digital education for children is superior to face-to-face instruction with a certified teacher. The goal? Put technology front and center in 21st century school redesign, and push human beings to the sidelines…If it’s innovative, it must be good. Personalization? Bring it on! And for students in underfunded schools with leaky roofs and tainted water, the arrival of technology brings a glimmer of hope that someone actually cares. But are we bridging a digital divide? Or are we setting our schools up for digital dehumanization down the road?
As a very small social studies publisher, we see these developments from both ends: the DoD/DARPA connection is dominated by large companies and foundations with a particular guiding educational philosophy — one we don’t share. We believe that learning requires true interactivity, and that true interactivity requires software that can respond to different interests. Our design makes it possible for students and teachers to proceed as they see fit through our wealth of content, whether they want to get a basic grasp of a subject or explore it in depth. Our software uses your web browser, which makes it as accessible as possible, to as wide a range of students as possible.
And while we provide in-program assessments at several levels, as well as reporting for teachers — although quite rudimentary compared to the meta data and para data described in the post! — we do not envision our software as a teacher replacement. Everything we design rests on the assumption that a human teacher is guiding the learning process, and will be there to explain, assist, and evaluate.
It ispossible to use digital educational tools that don’t demand souls as payment!
Watters discusses the narratives of social transformation in which technology and its putative capacity for ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption’ has become embedded:
What interests me are the stories that the businesses tell about “disruptive innovation” because this has become a near sacred story to the tech sector. It’s a story of the coming apocalypse –destruction and transformation and redemption, brought to you by technology.