Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Final Project

Though I had initially planned to explore the educational potential of micro-blogging, I eventually decided to create a website for our final project, instead. Reasons for this are that 1) I've never created a website before, 2) I think having a website could be a beneficial tool to have as I search for a teaching job, and 3) I'm interested in the idea of having a teaching website some day and thought creating one would be a good way for me to get my feet wet. As for now, I have in mind a few different ways of using this site: 1) To provide visitors with a variety of resources, including 2.0 tools and book reviews of educational literature, 2) To provide employers with a site they can visit to observe some of my technological capabilities.

I created this site via Weebly, which is a free webpage generator. Developing this website was a bit like creating a blog in that, through the basic, free plan with Weebly, it is an incredibly simple process. Including the individual pages I added and posts I made, the entire process took me all of a few hours. Granted, for the time being, the site I've created isn't the shiniest, but I think it serves its purpose and, with time, hope to develop it further.

For what I was looking for, the basic plan with Weebly worked just fine. Though I haven't explored many other website generators, I feel like Weebly is a midrange interface and am satisfied with its aesthetics/usability. That said, however, if you'd like to stick with Weebly, are looking for a few more bells and whistles, and are willing to shell out a few bucks, there are some options available to you. I'm pleased with how the site is taking shape and look forward to contributing to its evolution.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Film Adaptations

As someone licensed in the social studies, I was interested in the HBO series from a couple years back based on David McCullough's book, John Adams. Though I haven't read the book, I thought the HBO adaptation was exceptional in the way in created new possibilities for educators teaching history and fresh opportunities for students interacting with historical texts. Using the John Adams series as an example, several activities come to mind.

1) While reading from a chapter of McCullough's book (and prior to watching a portion of the HBO series), students could create a storyboard (anyone aware of an free online story-boarding resource?) that highlights critical moments in the text, allowing them to develop visual representations of their historical interpretations.

2) Using Fodey (fodey.com), a newspaper clipping image generator, students could respond to part of the HBO series by constructing a handful of newspaper articles. This would enable them to organize historical events and provide their own version of how the events unfolded.

3) Through the writing of a blog or the creation of a VoiceThread, students could review a chapter from the book, along with an episode of the HBO series. In their review, they could explore ways they were effected by each medium. Then, they could compare and contrast the chapter from McCullough's book with one they are reading in their spare time, as well as the HBO episode with a show they enjoy watching outside of school.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Summer Days, Summer Nights Are Gone

As the November Moon leaves us and we brace ourselves for Winter, there is a Bob Dylan track from his album Love and Theft that I enjoy listening to. The song races out of the gates with a bluesy riff and, eventually, Bob works his way in, crooning, "Summer days, summer nights are gone (repeat); I know a place where there's still something going on." As a fellow Minnesotan, I can relate to the yarn Dylan is spinning here. I hear Dylan's connection to place coming through and my mind wanders to a warm spot away from the cold. There is hope, too, in the musical landscape of this song, as if to imply, "Summer may be over, but life can still be good." Being a Minnesotan, we need the tonic of places like the one Dylan is describing in order to make it through the winter moons.

Throughout Dylan's career (and much to his chagrin/amusement), music critics have attempted to categorize the work of Dylan. Dylan has always resisted this and I think it shows in the albums he creates (he just released a Christmas album a little while back) and the songs he crafts. The stories he tells and the characters he develops are relatable, yet never simplified. None of his songs are boxed in and they are open to countless interpretations.

Bearing that in mind, I am attracted to musicians who are able to paint stories. I like being dropped into a scene and appreciate an artist who can articulate their depth of place. Though a bit more difficult to define, I also pay attention to the element of soul. Am I able to hear through enunciations, crescendoes, or key changes that this song means something to the artist? What is their reason for singing it (*thinking of the line from Sam Phillips to Johnny Cash in the movie Walk the Line)? If it is to play victim or be cute, I'm probably not interested. If, on the other hand, it seems real, intelligent, and rhythmic, it may catch my ear. That's all I have to say for now.

Here's a live version of Dylan's Summer Days...