sascha's blog

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

FILE TRANSFER COMPLETE! Even more about Task 3

At last I have done what all others could do, but seemed impossible to me - I have uploaded my webpage to the net. You can find here. It is on my flatemate's website. He is a musician (so you should go to his website and take a look/listen), and has kindly offered me some of his space for a short while (so my stuff won't be there forever). He was also kind enough to take pity on me by showing how to install and use a ftp program that makes the whole process of uploading IMMEASUREABLY easier. Wish we had learnt about it in class.
I have changed the page a little, very very little (I figured it wouldn't matter now that the original is in, and it is that one that Debra will assess). I put in some frames in an attempt to make the width of the text narrower, and changed the pics in hope that they are less "cute" as Owen said. They are from the same web site. I also put the link to the Real Player file in it's own frame so that students could easily find and play it. Apart from that not much else was done.

there are many things I am STILL unhappy with (will it ever end?), some of which are; the credits are now skewed at the bottom of the page. It is difficult to read the last line; the Real Player file takes WAY TOO LONG to download and play. I didn't have that problem when it was just in CD form, so I guess that I have learnt not to put audio files on the net, or at least to put small ones up and not to use a dial-up modem, in fact all the pics take forever to open, especially the background -what a pain in the butt); I want my links to open in new windows especially the dictionaries.

That's it for now I think. I would be EXTREMELY greatful for some comments on it. Anyone?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Owen's evaluation of my website (not yet on the web)


Appearance: The site comes up bright and interesting. The background is subtle, not too intense, and the colour contrasts are well chosen. It would have benefited from being more centred since the eye scanning the page is a bit intense at close range.

Graphics: Very good, well chosen, support the material well. Not too sure about the cute chalky figures at the beginning, but it was a good idea not to prejudice the learner’s opinion by placing one couple easily recognizable.

Multimedia: Oh, I’m so impressed with the use of a variety of multi media, especially since my site has one reference to a fixed site webcam. Very good idea to be able to replay the video (just 4 minutes long) repeatedly to get the full use out of the questions.

Navigability: Extremely simple to follow, instructions are plain and the site would benefit from the links opening in a new window automatically, although this doesn’t hinder the site’s effectiveness. This is required since the viewing of the video is crucial to the completion of subsequent tasks.

Activities: Clear and easy to follow. The Hot Potato exercises are numerous and detailed, and although fun to do, they might challenge the student to be completed in one session. I’m guessing that the teacher will divide up the tasks into manageable chunks with the option of faster students going ahead and, especially in Task 2, getting involved in vocabulary development.

Conclusion: This site is a very comprehensive one, and considering it’s a first attempt, a very successful foray into website design with a pedagogical bent.

Owen Langdale

Friday, June 16, 2006

More on Task 3

  • I just got to uni and looked at my assignment in a very nice new screen - and it tlooks terrible - so if anyone wants to view it, then make sure you are doing so with an old or out of focus monitor.
  • I don't like that the text spans the whole page. I should have put in frames similar to Owen's so that the text wasn't all the way across the screen.
  • I saved my files in H drive and it all works well from there, but H drive is still unaccessable from the internet, so unless I figure out how to use Angel Fire in a very very very short amunt of time, my assessment will be in stand-alone CD format.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ta Da!!!

Task 3 - software/website authoring & testing DONE!
The creation of this assessment task was created in an unorthodox and unfavourable fashion. I started with an idea; a listening activity and then immediately began creating Hot Potatoes activities to be centred around it. It wasn’t until I had created a small arsenal of activities that I began to consider how to put them together in a sound pedagogical framework. And this is where I came undone. Had I actually started to make a plan first, I may not have spent so much time in making superfluous HP activities, and would not have spent so long in organising my main page, then reorganising it again and again until I was happy with the sequence. Moreover, because I had made so many HP activities, it seemed a waste not to use them all. Consequently, the unit I have created is too full, I believe, and may only serve frighten students who attempt to do everything offered to them in only one or two lessons.

In the future, I will alter the following things; Firstly, I would not ask students to email the teacher their paragraph, but instead ask them to directly post it on a class blog. In this way, students pay more attention to their output, knowing that it will be publicly viewable. Posting on a class bog, also allows student to get an insight into not only each others writing styles but also each others opinions and beliefs – a practice that helps foster closer relationships in the class. Secondly, I would change some of the Jquiz questions. I would add more questions requiring global answers and inferences. The colour scheme is another thing I would change. I spent endless hours labouring over hue possibilities, and until I decided upon a scheme I felt was neither too offensive nor gender partial though I am still not happy with it. Finally I would include information about how to login to the Centre for History and New Media’s website, and possibly provide a sample survey on a linked page so students could get an idea of what their surveys may look like before they begin creating them.

Problems still persisting; I have become a member of Angelfire, a free hosting site, and have begun uploading my files, but cannot upload my Real Player video files. Also I cannot link my files. I do believe that the way to do this is not too difficult, however, it is beyond the ability of this student currently.

On the whole, however, I am generally happy with the website. I do believe that students would gain some learning from it, which, after all, is the essential aim of any piece of teaching material. Furthermore, I do intend to ‘fix’ the flaws and submit it to my school to be included as an optional part of the curriculum. To end, I would like to say that I am immensely happy that I have come some distance in my learning of Dreamweaver (among other website authoring programs), though there is still far to go. What a journey!

You'll never believe it!

Oh My God!
Even I would never had believed it if it hadn't come out of my own mouth.
Here's what happened.

I was with my new class on Tuesday, and was introducing the new project to them - a research paper on the changes of technology in the 20th century and the effects of these changes. We watched a BTN piece about blogging and the legalities of defamation. Preceding the video, we had a quick discussion about blogs
e.g. 1) What are they? -- most of them knew this answer.
2) Who has one? ---most of them DIDN't put their hands up. Only a few did, including me!
We then went on to talk about their general merits and more specifically, their merits in language learning. They all agreed that blogs would be useful,.......

........and it was at this point that, well, I just can't believe I suggested this, but, well, I, I actually suggested.......that we have a class blog onto which we could all publish stuff, writing tasks, thoughts, info etc. And what is worse, they all agreed!!!!!!!!!!!!

So this being most likely the last relfection I put into my blog in semester 1 2006 (though I do hope to keep this open for some length of time in the future), I thought it fitting to use the above example, to clearly show how far I consider I've come.

I started this semester not even knowing what the word 'blog' meant and now I am making efforts to include it a part of my regular teaching practice. For me that's a heck of a big step forward in just 6 months considering I really never liked computers very much at all. It's funny though, at times, I still hate computers. I get frustrated that it won't do what I want it to, or it keeps doing something I don't want it to. Then I get angry and bang the keyboard or the mouse, and then feel stupid and find that there is a way to do what I want, but that it is just not the way I was doing it before.

Life is full of surprises isn't it?
But bullets and numbering still REALLY gets my goat.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

CLN 618 final task

So I’ve had a bit of a look around HP and related websites. I’ve checked out various examples and got a better idea of what HP can and can’t do. I even examined HP’s associated software from TexToys. I downloaded them too. I think I like WebRhubard but am not too fussed on WebSequitur.
I really liked Quandary too – a choose your own adventure type of thing- think that it would be great to develop something on there, but I think it is beyond me at the moment – not only the technical side, but also the actually lesson development side – something like that could certainly take up quite a bit of time to make.

Anyway, so I’m caught between the hope of making a truly ‘A’ class product that any computer savvy scholar would be proud to say is their own, and the reality that I have a very short time in which to come up with a lesson plan, the accompanying detailed computer based activities, a rational and supporting references.
Oh golly.

Here’s what’s going around in my head.
  • I could do a song listening. It could fit as a nice little language lab 1-hour segment at school– I could do the usual pre-listening vocab (maybe on the Jcross) and some discussion questions. Then a gap fill or perhaps use the WebRhubarb program to type in the words as they listen (a little more challenging than just typing in one word in a sentence or checking from a drop-down option box), maybe after listening to the song, Students could re-order sentences they hear in it, or put in the correct tense, etc. Only problem is I don’t have a particular song in mind.
  • In Pre-EPA, my students are do group-work projects that last 5 weeks. Their current one is all about creating a survey and then presenting it with associated graphs and charts and writing a written report. We teach them relevant vocab, how to write in the report format, give them authentic examples, etc. Recently I found two articles from the local newspaper – City News. One was about the percentage of women who headed large export firms compared to men. The other was regarding peoples’ images of them selves – body beautiful kinda stuff, which fits in well with topics currently being covered in other segments of the class. I did a great, very students-centred activity with these two readings yesterday and plan to use them again when next I have a chance to teach projects – but I think I would like to develop them a little – perhaps I could do so with HP? I’m sure I could.
  • The problem is I would like to use sound and visuals for HP. Especially considering that when my students use computers, it is either for researching, creating their graphs and Power Point presentations or doing some kind of listening in the language lab. So it’s a HP lesson for use in the language lab that I want, which really does need sound, rather than be a reading activity. So what I found to remedy this is a video segment from Channel 7 news last year. My school keeps a library of these for the teachers to use in the Lang lab. The segment I found reported the results of a survey given to Australian women about ideal heights of men etc. It fits in really well with the other news article I found, the theme and the project. So perhaps I could make some computer based activities around this? Or around this and the other newspaper article.
  • Possible ideas
    ---Pre-listening – schemata activation – discuss topic, do Jcross
    ---Listening – comprehension questions Jquiz, Jcloze or WebRhubarb.
    ---Post- Listening – Jmatch, Jmix (focussing on vocab and sentence tructure related to survey reporting)
    ---Follow –up – (done in second computer/language lab class) have students make up their own survey questions based on the survey mentioned in the news segment, use the survey builder program at CHNM and then send out their surveys to every one in the class. When the results come back, students could type up the results in a report using the vocab and sentence structures they practiced in the HP before. Students do this in pairs?

So now my question is – what about copywriting and crediting. Can I use a channel 7 TV segment on a web based language activity if I credit it? Will I get into trouble with channel 7. Would also get into trouble if I used the newspaper article? What is the beef on all of his kind thing?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Journal reflections

From the begining of high school, I used to buy those yearly planner/diary thingys and pretty them up all the time. You know, find glossy pictures of Rob Lowe and Corey Haim to stick in there next to the pressed wild flowers and bad poetry ripped out of Dolly magazines.
By grade 12 I had replaced Rob for Bob - Robert Smith that is. The flowers became wilted roses and psychedelic patterns, and the poetry was no longer from Dolly but from Charles Bukowski (I thought I was all sophisticated and deep). I guess it was all an attempt to
a) fit in, cause that's what every one was doing.
b) stand out, by showing that my personality was uniqueish.

While all this was going on, I also had to keep journals in art class to help explain/show the process involved in the creation of all art works we did. Many of the students groned and grumbled at this. Others delighted in it. I was one of the later. I loved putting in all my drawings, and doodles, postcards and bits and pieces that I would pick up from here and there that would stimulate my creativity. i loved seeing the evolution too. And I would be very proud of my Art Journal - puitting it in an obvious place on the desk so that others might pick it up to look throught it in wonderment. Was I
a) arty?
b) longing for recognition?
c) fostering a great form of study avoidance by spending too much time on the journal and not enought on the actual assignments?

The journals stopped after high school. I kept drawing fro a few years though, but soon that stopped to. Mr. Smith stuck around for the longest amount of time, but alas, none of his CDs have been ripped to my computer.

So that brings me too this wee journal of sorts. Based on past experience, I should be totally into it, loving the process and the product, but I'm not really. Am I a little scared of this form of self-expression? Yeh, a bit. It shouldn't really take up any more time than if I were to do it carefully by hand, but I think it does. Most of my thoughts about the assingments are scribbled down in my note book, and that takes my through the thinking and creation - process side of things. It is far quicker to open a book and jot down thoughts in minimal note form than it is to turn on your computer, wait for it to boot up, hook up to the net, open up to the appropriate web site and type badly and slowly with no spell check to help you.
But further - Did I get myself out of the habit of journal entry as study avoidence? Yep, nowdays I clean the house instead. And in this respect I think I need to start journaling again. Not for 618 specifically but for my teaching. Will I do it on a computer? Well, I'd like to say yes, but I very much doubt it, that is unless I get broadband and download a free typing tutor program.

Icon Ignorance

This is a very insignificant, and non-essential help question, but am gonna ask it anyway.

I know a little about how to change the apperence of icons - i.e. change that daggy folder icon to another daggy icon but what I want to know is, can I import any for free and with ease?
In particular,can anyone give me a really simple how-to about changing the icons that are used for bookmarks? I would like my sites listed in my sidebar with a more visual quality. At the moment most of then have that standard IE icon and then the name of the site. A rare few have logo type icons - which I find really useful in that it is easier to recognize the sites and click on them quickly. I think this is relatively relevant as, through this course I have managed to amass quiet a few bookmarks.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Web Quest Completed!
My very first Web Quest has finally been finished. I am so happy.
Now, please don't get me wrong, my happiness is not necessarily associtated with an over-inflated ego that thinks that my Web Quest rocks or is the best in the world. Far from it. My feeling of delight can be attributed to the fact that I had never in my life done anything remotely like this - an internet based learning task - something that is published and viewable from any point in the world.
Now I feel like this;
But of course last night after I sent it in, Claire came over, and a couple of bottles of wine down, I felt likethis;