November is now upon us and the Fall season is in full swing in SE Minnesota. With the changing of the seasons, comes the setting of the clocks back one hour, finalizing last minute Fall cleaning in the Harm household, picking up and making it through a seasonal head-cold, and looking into new innovative and creative ideas to engage my PLN followers of Twitter, the Intel Engage Community and Simplek12.
My focus for the last two remaining months of 2011 will target the theme of "The Morning Blend." I, like many others, enjoy a good cup of freshly ground and brewed coffee to start my day, read through my RSS feeds, Twitter posts and Intel Engage Community updates and global shares of many resources. This is when I am at the top of my game and most refreshed to jump-start my learning for the day.
So my thought was...... why not start a morning ritual of "The Morning Blend" to share out a unique resource for the day beyond my Twitter PLN, and note how it contributes to educator and student blended learning. Perhaps a few instructional coaching strategies will be added to extend the learning for all, and a possible assessment component to focus on the student and educator learning outcomes. My goal would be to also integrate a video based component of "The Morning Blend" and bring in a few experts to share their expertise with all of you as well. The theme focus may also encompass a few shares and shout-outs for "An Afternoon Blend" due to my training schedule can be quite busy in the AM, and the ability to gain Internet access to update my shares and resources with all of you in a timely manner. A quick pick-me-up as "An Afternoon Blend" is a unique way to add energy and inspiration to your unmotivated or lagging afternoons.
So with that said, here is to all of you drinking that first, second of third cup of coffee or tea by now- my first episode of "The Morning Blend."
Specialty Blend of the Day: Screencasting
My specialty blend of the day I would like to share with you is the topic of screen-casting to blend your instruction. So many times students and adult learners need to see and hear the content of the lecture or instruction more than one time- in order to process and thoroughly understand the content that is being presented. There are so many free tools and resources at our fingertips to produce high-quality screencast to empower student and teacher learning, but sometimes educators just do not know where to start.
My recommendation is to start small but with a content focus aligned with ISTE NETS and a specific student learning outcome that you will feel comfortable with, and are passionate about to share your expertise with others. You are starting with the end in mind and this type of focus will help you stay on task when crafting a short script to compliment your visual and audio display with photos and or video clips as an overview to create your screencast. Here are some sample Screencast rubrics to get you thinking about the end product and quality of production. Sample #1 Sample #2 Sample #3.
Some educators create a script with bullet points to get at the big picture items, others choose graphic organizers to contain text and visuals to tell their story or share their message, where others craft a meaningful message from start to finish. What ever your strategy is- go with what is most comfortable for you and your writing style. Here is a collection of graph organizers to support your efforts from my good friend Shelly Terrell and here wiki site.
Now after you feel you have crafted an engaging and comprehensive script or message for your viewers, it is important to find the right visual images or displays to help your viewers make instant connections with their lives to the words you are expressing. Again, at this point less is more- meaning finding an intriguing visual with little or no text works best. Yes, this means throwing out those Powerpoint slides with heavy text containing each detail about your presentation, and instead choosing an image or photo that can tell the story for itself accompanied by your words of wisdom. Here is a Flipped Teaching resource folder I have created with a large collection of copyright free/friendly/left photos to find the right image to display your content message.
Now the choice of finding the right tool to get the job done.......
There are so many- where do you start? My recommendation of the simplest tools to get started with include Jing and Screen-Cast-O-Matic. Jing is a free download from TechSmith. You can record up to five minutes of audio and your screen display and it saves it as a Flash file. There is also a low cost paid for version with more options of saving it as a variety of different video file formats, and you have the option of a longer recording time.
Screen-Cast-O-Matic on the other hand records right in your web browser, has the ability to record picture-in-picture mode so your viewers can see you as the presenter with the main focus on the content display being showcased. Screen-Cast-O-Matic also records in HD, also has a longer recoding length of 15 minutes and also provides a yellow halo icon so you can point out key elements in your screencast and your viewers can follow along more easily. I really like the final video files it can be saved in as .MP4, Flash, ready to upload by one click to YouTube or Screen-Cast-O-Matic server. For a cost effective upgrade you once again have more choices for a longer recording length and more video output file formats to save as.
Give it a whirl today and try out the above options to create your first of many screencasts to empower your students learning in and out of classroom. This blended approach to instruction will guarantee many positive results amongst your students, and improve your instructional delivery and technology literacy skill sets. And for those of you that would like to take it one step further- here is a great Scoop.it resource from Peggy George with several articles and blogposts on ways to integrate screencasting into your daily practice, and a Scoop.it I have created focused on blended learning and integration of screencasting tools and resources.
Enjoy your day and your next cup of Java Jo of choice.