“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs—jolted by every pebble in the road.” Henry Warn Beecher
I am working on the agendas for my fall classes. I actually have two classes ready! However, I do get distracted and move away from the work at hand—occasionally. I looked at a shelf of books and rediscovered Joel Goodman’s Laffirmations: 1001 Ways to Add Humor to Your Life and Work. Naturally, I had to stop working and read a few of the suggestions in the book.
Beecher’s quotation caught my attention, and thus, has become the focus of this blog. A sense of humor is vital. When the stresses of grading, meeting deadlines, and attending meetings feel overwhelming, we all need to seek some humor.
I am amending this post because I made a silly error when I was creating my PowToon video welcome to Comp I. The setting was on slideshow instead of movie in PowToon. Sadly, I did not notice that until I tried to post to YouTube. I have corrected my error now and will pay more attention next time!
Today’s blog contains a video welcome to my Comp I students.
RefSeek.com is an academic search engine which searches more than one billion documents, Web pages, books, journals, newspapers, and MORE! You are wondering what makes Refseek special then? It does not have sponsored links and commercial returns!
RefSeek is a free search engine that “aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone.” The section on search tips provides users with suggestions from searching with a specific term to finding additional results from a specific site.
Users can also add RefSeek to the browser for easy access in doing research.
To avoid the ads and commercial sites, try RefSeek for a research project.
Use Google Sites to keep your digital portfolio updated and ready to share. At this location, you will find explanations on how to use Google Sites: http://www.google.com/sites/overview.html.
Include your teaching philosophy statement along with examples of assignments and assessments. Add examples of graded student work, with the students’ names removed. Include professional development, workshops you have attended and those you have facilitated. Continue to build the portfolio by adding relevant materials.
Here’s some additional help on writing a teaching philosophy statement:
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring free sites where users can build their portfolios. So today’s post is over Weebly, wwww.weebly.com. Weebly is easy to use and offers “drag and drop” technology in order to build the site. Weebly bills itself as intuitive to use. Like many Web tools, Weebly has free and premium versions. The free version works quite well for purposes of building a portfolio. The free version allows “drag and drop builder, free hosting, and unlimited pages.”
Weebly has a “Beginner’s Guide to Weebly” at this location: https://weebly.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/sections/200354313-Beginner-s-Guide-to-Weebly. Users can go through the guide to see exactly how to build the site to suit each person’s needs and taste.
Weebly also allows users to create a blog. Some may wish to use Weebly for the portfolio, but also as a blog site.
Watch for other choices for portfolio building soon.
What is a faculty portfolio? A portfolio consists of a meaningful assortment of documents that indicate the ideas and objectives of your teaching, methods you use, your effectiveness, ways you assess and develop your teaching, and indicates the courses in your repertoire.
What are some of the documents that belong in the faculty portfolio? Start with your philosophy of teaching. Your philosophy of teaching should consist of a one-two page paper that identifies a concise explanation of your approach to teaching. It also includes your expertise. In the document, explain why you teach, provide a detailed list of what you teach, and follow with how you teach. Another important element of the teaching philosophy is how you assess your own teaching and how you approach change and improvement through self-analysis. Be specific with examples of assignments and assessments.
What else belongs in the portfolio? Including samples of your syllabuses would be a good start. Be sure to include the courses you have taught and any courses that may be on the horizon. Provide specific examples of assignments and their assessments. A graded student paper with the student’s name removed, but one that has your comments on it adds to your examples. The graded paper can be an exam, an essay, or other assignment, depending upon the courses you teach. Add comments from student evaluations along with evaluations done by a faculty peer observer. Add any teaching awards you have received. You can go high-tech and include a video of one of your classes. Don’t forget to add the workshops and professional conferences you have attended to help with your professional development. If you have facilitated workshops for peers or at professional conferences, add that information as well.
Why do you need the portfolio? It is an important instrument to provide insight for you and others into your teaching philosophy, your teaching methods, and your approaches to teaching. For professional growth and advancement, the portfolio provides evidence of your growth and dedication.
In the original post, I listed Mahara.org, as a place where users can create a free account in order to keep an electronic portfolio, but I made an error. Mahara.org is not the site for that. In the next post, I will include some good options.
The video gives brief overviews of Padlet, Flipsnack, Animoto. PowToon, Befunky, PicMonkey, and Twitter.
Watch this video to see some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools. I created the video using Animoto and then turned the Animoto video into a YouTube video.
Padlet is an online bulletin board about which I have written several times, but it is one of my favorite tools because of its versatility. I’ve had students create an introduction to themselves using Padlet. That assignment is especially useful for the online students whom I rarely see in person. I have also required students to create a fake Facebook page using Padlet. The students choose a character from a story we have read and follow instructions to create a page for the character based on events and facts from the story.
Flipsnack is another useful tool. Users can create online magazines there. With the free version, users are limited in the number of pages. Only premium users can add videos, but these restrictions should not keep users from creating online magazines at Flipsnack. In PowerPoint or Word, create the magazine with the pictures and text and save the slides or document. Then save again as PDF and upload into Flipsnack. Share the link with others.
Animoto is an easy-to-use tool; the free version is limiting, but individual accounts that allow users to have up to ten minutes is $30 per year. Once the video is created, you can turn it into a YouTube video. Both the Animoto version and the YouTube version can be shared.
PowToon also allows users to create free videos. Once the PowToon is finished, the user can share it as it is or turn it into a YouTube video and share that way.
With Befunky, users can take pictures and change them as they need. It is free and easy to use. PicMonkey is another free tool found in Chrome’s extensions and apps. It gives users an opportunity to manipulate pictures as well.
Twitter offers another option of sending out quick messages to students and others.
Do some exploring with the tools mentioned here. You may find one of them is your favorite.
At Calm.com, users can select the amount of time for a period of meditation along with a nature scene they like. I chose five minutes of rain gently falling through the leaves of a tree. The background is muted green through the falling rain. The foreground is a branch of green leaves with the rain falling through them.
A gentle voice leads users through the meditation. At the end of the five minutes, the voice over reminds users to open their eyes. The brief period can rejuvenate users allowing them to return to the tasks at hand relaxed and optimistic!
The program is available in the Apple Store or on Google Play for download to phones, tablets, and other devices. Taking a few minutes to mediate can benefit users in many ways. Give the app a try.
Choose the music and background you prefer. The quiet rain through green leaves appealed to me as I examined the site. However, I took a look at other choices too: blue water running quietly, fluffy clouds gently moving across a blue sky, and a meadow of wild flowers with a backdrop of running water. All in all, one can choose from twenty-five scenes, one to serve any mood of the day.
Instagram allows anyone to create an account and set it to private. That would be a good way to use Instagram in the classroom, making it available only to those the teacher’s classes. What are ways to use Instagram in for education?
Have students post pictures of projects; the only people who could access the private account would be those given specific access. For history, students can show how historical figures might have used Instagram. In an English class, have students post pictures of favorite books or take a picture of a place a character might have visited or lived. Teachers can send pictures of thought-provoking places or buildings and ask students to write about the images in the picture. Send out a picture and ask students to write a brief description of the picture. For a biology class, students could submit a picture depicting a scene from nature. If the class is working on sustainability, the students and teacher could take pictures of problems that they and others could address through sustainability projects.
Explore some of the ideas and think of ways to use Instagram in your own classes. Perhaps Instagram does not need to be a long-term project, but could introduce a few concepts. Give the idea some thought. See the link for a cheatsheet on how to use Instagram.
“Start writing, not matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour
L’Amour’s idea about just start writing is valid. I was looking for inspiration for today’s blog when I saw that quote. It inspired me to think about what I say to students when they are stuck somewhere in the writing process—whether it is the beginning, middle, or end—just keep writing. I encourage students to write or even type at the computer, but to get their brains engaged. Even if they write “I don’t know what to write,” they are being active in pursuing the goal of writing. Soon, the faucet opens and the words start flowing.
Once the words are on paper or the computer screen, we can manipulate them, change them, delete them, and/or add to them. The important point is to keep the process going. Writing is messy and involves returning to the words on the page and revamping them. We also find those gems among the debris and we can build on the gems to create better and better writings whether that means an essay, research paper, or a personal letter.
Delve into the writing process and create something today!