Course Load Calculator

Have you ever wondered just how much work your class or course actually entails for students, or if you are a student just how much time you need to invest in your coursework outside of class.  This guest post by my colleague at the Center for Learning and Teaching at The American University in Cairo looks the advantages and limitations of just such a tool. Check it out!

A Guest Post by Maha Bali

Would You Use a Course Workload Calculator?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is the second time I come across something like this. A course workload calculator. This one from Rice University (I have a soft spot for them because I taught there in 2008).

https://cte.rice.edu/workload

Rice University

On the one hand, I feel like it can be useful for people who teach courses at the same level to compare their workloads to each other or what is expected.

I do like that they ask if readings have new concepts or are difficult, for example, so I think some people might find that useful, e.g. should they assign the reading and expect students to understand it before they discuss it in class? Perhaps certain readings can be done before, but others after. Also, the calculator doesn’t account for reading ability esp for non-native speakers. But it does allow you to adjust the reading speed for example, which I guess to be honest you may need to do for different segments of students. I once had two freshmen in my mostly senior and junior class, and they truly struggled with some of the readings. The other students had no problems at all, either they were better readers or better bluffers (which, honestly, is a good strategic learner move).
Read More (redirects to Maha’s blog, Reflecting Allowed).

 

My Life as a Reader and Author

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

One of my goals as a teacher and professor is to guide my students to think of themselves as readers, authors, and creators. To help students realize just how much reading and writing have played a part in their lives, I use an assignment I call My Life as a Reader and Author.  The assignment involves the creation of a mandala with symbols representing different aspects of literacy in the students’ lives.  The directions, paired with examples in the PowerPoint are fairly simple:

The texts we read and the texts we compose can have a powerful influence on our identities.  In this assignment, you will create a visual representation of your life as a reader and author using the mandala to organize and capture your ideas. Briefly explain each symbol.

Zahraa created this mandala, below, using digital tools.

Mandala

Zahraa’s Mandala

She then described the significance of the images.

I divided my mandala into four sections:

  • Reading Section

 I added a photo of my laptop as usually I use it to read online and also to download softcopies of the books that I want to read. I like to read on my laptop as I have different folders to save whatever I want to read and highlight on it.

I added the photo of the book the power of thinking without thinking. It is the most recent book that I have read. I found this book so interesting and I learnt a lot from it. In addition, I recommended this book to my friends who do not like to read very much as I found the author’s way of delivering information is so good.

I added google logo as it is my close friend when I need to know or read about anything.

  • Junior development section

In this section I added a photo of my weekly visit to children orphanages. I am a part of Volunteers In Action (VIA) club at AUC. Every week end we visit an orphanage and we give sessions to children about different things like peace, cleanness, attitude and manners. I added this photo because these children motivate me to read more about the topic before delivering it to them in order to teach them in a correct good way.

I added photos of cleanness and right & wrong photo to highlight some of the things I teach them during the sessions

  • Experience

While reading I experience new things and know a lot of new information. This photo describes things that one can achieve while reading like how to manage your time, select your goals and how to learn from others mistakes, especially if you are reading about someone’s bibliography.

  • Writing

In the writing section I added a photo to describe my favorite time of writing which is in the early morning with a cup of coffee.

Malika chose to combine shapes from the Internet and then draw her symbols.

Malika's Mandala

Malika’s Mandala

Resources

Mandala Generators Online:

Staedtler:

MandalaCreator:

MandalaMaker:

ColorMandala:

DrawMandala:

Mandala Creator:

Mandala Creation Software:

MandalaMakerTM :

Mandala Maker from Tucows:

Adobe products and plugins (e.g., Illustrator, Photoshop) that can be used to create mandalas).

Illustrator:

MirrorMe plugin for Illustrator:

PhotoShop:

Inspiration:

Mandala Project:

Writing for Science Learning: Book Creator

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Science teacher Kathy Blakemore has inspired generations of seventh-graders to take better care of our planet, to be curious about all its inhabitants, and to learn more about what makes its ecosystems work as they do.

Recently, Kathy and her students at Elsinore Middle School in Lake Elsinore, California decided to take their learning public. Using Book Creator, the students published a book titled, Incredible Invertebrates. Students worked in teams to identify sources about various phyla and then synthesize graphics and their reading. They learned about what it takes to write a book that is appealing to their audience as well.

Amazing Invertebrates

Incredible Invertebrates Click to read this book, made with Book Creator https://read.bookcreator.com

Each chapter is organized describing where the invertebrates live, what threats exist to their survival, and what fun facts the student scientists and authors uncovered. I was very impressed that the students cited their sources and identified key vocabulary that their readers will want to understand.

Congratulations to Mrs. B and her 7th-grade GEMS students on a job well done.

The Photo Essays

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Last month, I wrote about the tools for creating photo essays.  This month, I’ll show you a few.  The idea was to use photography as a medium for thinking about identity in my EDUC 1099 Selected Topics course.

Farida wrote about and photographed her home that she shares with her extended family. The family votes on important issues. Click the photo to see Farida’s photo essay on Tumblr.

Farida

Using Exposure.co, Salma explored her home and travels.

Salma Megahed

https://salmamegahed.exposure.co/a-photo-essay/embed/cover?embed=trueA Photo essay by Salma Megahed on Exposure

Scrolling through her photo gallery, Dinah discovered that she had many images looking skyward. With Adobe Spark, she created this essay. Dinah

Using the idea of perspectives through doors and windows, Iman shared her essay on Tumblr.

Iman

KarimKarim looked at The American University in Cairo campus from unique angles taking us at the end to his favorite place at the University.

The Photo Essay Project

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This semester, I assigned my undergraduates to create a photo essay defining the places that have had the most impact on who they are and who they might become.  Their photo essays are due next week, so this week I am sharing some of the photo essay websites and software tools they are using.  Today, they explored the affordances of each. I provided a list of questions (you will find them below) to guide their choices.

Dear Literacy Beat readers, if you have a site or tool to share, please add it in the comments.

Photos

iPhone Photos

Platforms

  1. Tumblr
  2. Instagram
  3. WordPress
  4. Spark from Adobe
  5. Exposure
  6. Ghost
  7. PowerPoint Online and Slideshare, Youtube or Vimeo (convert slide decks to video), Authorstream
  8. Prezi

Pro-Tip: What’s your statement about the photos you choose? Can you write one (or maybe two) sentences that capture the main idea of your photo essay? Is it unique enough that others will want to view your essay?

 

Photo Editing Tools

  1. Canva
  2. Ribbet
  3. GIMP
  4. Photo Resizer
  5. net
  6. Photoshop Express
  7. PIXLR

A note about intellectual property: Any work you use that you did not write or create must be attributed.  This includes music (and be aware that using copyrighted music could result in your project being taken down by the platform or host).

Pro Tip: Create a rough draft of your essay in order to check out the features of the platform and tools you use.  Try different ways of arranging your photos, text (including captions), and titles.  Later, you can hide or delete the rough draft.

Questions / Affordances

Check out the sites and tools (software) on the first page and review a couple of examples. What affordances does each offer your project?

  • What does it cost?
  • Do you need an account?
  • Can you make the site available to anyone?
  • Does the site privilege images, text, or both?
  • What features does the site or tool have that others may not have?
  • Is the site or tool mobile friendly? Laptop friendly?
  • Does it have sharing tools (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)?
  • Are there advertisements? How intrusive are they?
  • Is the platform easy to navigate and provide tools that make it easy for you to create a photo essay?

Two notes about color:

  1. Don’t overdo it!
  2. Make sure the colors you choose for frames, text, and so on are easy to read against the backgrounds you choose

La Asociación Española de Lectura y Escritura – Vocabulary

Literacy Beat blogger Dana L. Grisham and guest blogger Linda Smetana will be presenting strategies and techniques for vocabulary learning at 4:15 on July 5, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  Some of their resources can be downloaded from Literacy Beat. Be sure to check these out!

conferencia-inglc3a9s-negativo

READING AND WRITING WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO SUPPORT VOCABULARY LEARNING

Frayer Model [Frayer Model]

Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy + [VSS+ Worksheet PDF]  [VSS+ Word worksheet]

V-Tweets [Vtweet blank Worksheet PDF] [Vtweet blank Worksheet for Word]

Session description:
Effective vocabulary instruction for all students has gained importance over the past decade. Graves (2016) reminds us that vocabulary learning is of enormous significance, that we cannot teach all the words that must be learned, and that it is even more challenging when we teach students who come from varied backgrounds and languages (p. 4-5). Effective vocabulary instruction provides access to academic text for all students and technology is an effective tool for vocabulary learning, particularly when students are engaged in generative and active learning (Grisham & Smetana, 2011). Effective vocabulary instruction promotes a lively interest in words through student expression, playing with words, building on individual interests as well as curriculum needs, and emphasizing self-efficacy in word learning (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2008; Graves & Watts-Taffy, 2008). Researchers conducted several studies designed to test the efficacy of three generative technology strategies for increasing the academic vocabulary of K-12 students. Each study built upon the one prior to refine the strategies. They were based upon the idea that technology should be generative in the sense that the children should create some authentic product from its use.

Technology in the K-12 classroom is no longer optional; it is imperative that teachers know how to teach with it and students know how to learn with it (Tondeur, et al, 2011). Thus, teachers must be prepared to address content standards with useful technological tools. The workshop consists of two parts beginning with the presentation of research on the strategies and the increased emphasis on disciplinary literacy and academic vocabulary (Wolsey, Smetana & Grisham, 2015). Students who are more engaged with word learning and who make connections between words necessary to understand text make deeper conceptual learning (Castek, Dalton, & Grisham, 2012). Repeated encounters with words in various contexts and modalities, social interactions while learning new words, and meaningful generation of learning products (Coiro, Castek, Sekeres, & Guzniczak, 2014; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Castek, & Henry, 2013; Marzano, 2009) assist in vocabulary learning. Linking images and linguistic information in the brain aids such learning and retention (Sadoski & Paivio, 2007).

In the second part of the workshop, participants are invited to learn to use the strategies themselves, so that they may use them and/or incorporate them into their instructional practice. Strategies include technology-rich versions of the Frayer model, Tweeting for vocabulary learning (V-Tweets) and Vocabulary Self-Selection Strategy Plus (VSS+) all of which are situated within the challenges of academic texts and the need for close reading. Participants are provided with 21st Century strategies that connect to and engage today’s diverse student population and provide access to content.

Read more on Literacy Beat:

Frayer Model

VSS+ here and here

 

 

Story Shares – A Digital Library for Teens and Young Adults

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Recently, I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the International Literacy Association #ILAChat and Sam Patterson (@SamPatue) on the topic of the Association’s latest What’s Hot in Literacy report.  While there, I met the Story Shares team.

Story Shares in their own words, “Story Shares is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills.”  The organization leverages technology to bring books worth reading to teens and young adults who struggle. As most readers of Literacy Beat who work with adolescents know, finding material that is not overwhelming is a challenge.

Story Shares Home Page Screenshot

Story Shares Home Page

Story Shares has created an online space that provides opportunities for writers to publish their work in a variety of genres and fills the need of teen readers for something meaty but not impossible to read.

Romeo and Me

Story Shares Digital Book

The online book collection is searchable by the usual indicators (author, title)
but also by interest level and three readability indices.  The books are easy to navigate by chapter and by scrolling. Controls include a bookmark, a word lookup tool that brings up definitions of challenging words, and a tool to mark a book for reading later. Some readers prefer books on paper, so Story Shares makes some of their collection available for purchase as a paperbound book.

Because some readers benefit from hearing the words of a book read aloud, the Story Shares team has built in a text-to-speech reader. As the reader speaks the words, the written words are highlighted on the page.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela: In His Own Words for iPad. Author: Ruth Chasek

I sampled the books on my computer and on my iPad. Both worked perfectly with the books on Story Shares.

For authors who wish to write for the teen and young adult audience, a user-friendly interface allows the writer to focus on the narrative and not the technology.  I tried it and found the graphic user interface (GUI) very easy to use.

Because Story Shares is a nonprofit organization that serves students around the world, they also appreciate donations. Just click here to help them out.

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