I learned a lot during the second week of our Web Skills Course. I discovered many new valuable search engines to use with my students from NoodleTools. I was especially intrigued by SweetSearch and AmericanMemory because I am teaching a History in English course which would greatly benefit from these sources.
I also learned that it is important to clarify task-specific objectives with measurable behaviors. For this task I used Penn State's Learning Design Community Hub. I realized that I am used to writing objectives for high school courses, but the last time I wrote down task-based objectives according to the ABCD-model was when I was training to become a teacher and our instructors wanted to see what we were getting at when assigning a task to our class. It was refreshing to actually sit down and approach tasks from an ABCD point-of-view again. Of course I always have the model in mind when teaching, but I don't write it down anymore. It is quite automatic after years of experience to consider the audience, their expected behavior, the conditions of the classroom and the degree of mastery that I require of my students. It is a constant thought-process, but one that I have not consciously recognized for quite some time.
I am pleasantly surprised by the academic proficiency of my fellow colleagues and impressed by their web-skills. I am picking up great ideas and links by visiting their blogs and reading the discussion threads. I hope that one of the high school student teachers will want to collaborate with me on the final project. Next term, I am teaching an English course which involves applying for jobs and considering future careers. We are creating a blog or several blogs (digital portfolios on Wordpress) and using Prezi.com to create CV's and cover letters. If there is time, hopefully videos as well (maybe job interviews). Collaborating with a web-teacher professional and his/her students from another country would be a fantastic opportunity. We could comment each others' blogs, share videos together, create a Facebook page and even chat on-line.
Anyone interested? If so, I'm hoping for someone who is proficient at blogging and has advanced English students of approximately the same age, 16 - 18 years old.
Another idea that has been spawning in my head is a grading system mimicking a game. For each English course students collect a certain amount of points and in Finland, 50% is required in order to pass. If students were to see how many points they have gained by meeting deadlines and doing the assigned tasks well throughout the course, they would definitely be more motivated. Today's kids like playing on the computer, visual affects, and competing. The only problem is that numerical grades cannot be shown to other students (the law), so the teacher would have to figure out a reward system, for example, rewarding three best scores. And if the "grading game" had different levels and prizes for reaching each level (high scores, smileys, applause) within itself, that could suffice.
If anyone has ideas on where to build this sort of grading system, let me know? I have tried Janine's JupiterGrades, but it is not very visual.
I will think about all of this and hope for comments to help me along!