Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Technology Challenge Reflection

What a wonderful journey this has been.  I am so glad I decided to participate in the NPS Summer Tech Challenge.  Because of it, I have an entire new arsenal of technology tools I can use in my classroom throughout the year.  Every individual challenge has been eye-opening and useful.  I feel confident I can implement some of the challenges I completed into regular lessons.  Not only has this challenge been a benefit to me, but my students as well!

First and foremost, I will use Twitter a lot.  I anticipate that many of my students already Tweet and, because of this, it will be an essential tool for me.  I will include my Twitter handle into all course syllabi, so my students can easily find me.  If they have questions while studying for a test or working on a project, they can Tweet me and I can answer in a short amount of time.  That's the nice thing about Twitter.  I get notifications on my cell phone and can quickly reply to their questions.  It opens up the lines of communication between myself and my students.  I love it.

I am in love with Glogster!  Students have to create presentations in just about all my classes.  This tool is going to make all our lives better!  In the days of old, students would create posters with poster board.  No more!  Now they will be able to create professional-looking Glogs that highlight their findings. I love that students will be able to insert video, audio, websites, graphics, etc. into their Glogs.  I have been searching for a tool like Glogster and now that I have found it, I will never go back to poster board!  Plus, it will really allow me to save more classroom supplies for other activities!

Ted Talks will be awesome as supplemental videos for my classes.  I think my students will love watching portions of them to get them excited about a particular concept or idea we are working on.

I love that I am now a Panther Pinner on Pinterest!  Pinterest allows for a flow of classroom ideas and lessons.

Thanks Mickie spearheading the Summer Technology Challenge.  I can't even imagine how much work it has been for you, but it has been a highly rewarding experience!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Go!Animate the World

I have used a tool like Go!Animate in the past, but I can't remember what it is called.  I do know this though - Go!Animate is incredibly user friendly.  I was able to make an animated video in no time!  I have used animation tools in the past as a comical way to let students know about upcoming theater practice days, future tests/quizzes, or even to introduce new concepts to my classes.

I used Go!Animate for the Summer Technology Challenge to give my kids the information they need to sign up for Remind101.  I use Remind101 for all my classes and extra-curricular activities.  It allows me to send mass text messages to my kids without actually giving them my cell phone number.  It's a great one-way communication tool, meaning I can text my kids, but they can't text me back.  Furthermore, it keeps my students' cell phone numbers private as well.  I don't know what I'd do without Remind101.

I found it incredibly easy to add characters, change the scene, and include voice with Go!Animate.  I love that I was given two options to make a quick video or a video from scratch.  I chose to make a video from scratch and fifteen minutes later I had an animated video! Voila! It was that easy.

I think I will make a few other videos about Remind101 for other classes like English10, Yearbook, Theater I and II, and the Winter and Spring play.  It looks like I will be busy today, but Go!Animate makes it so fun!

Remind 101 Sign-Up by Taryn Retzlaff on GoAnimate

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LiveBinder 1, Taryn 0

LiveBinder has definitely been the most difficult challenge for me (times infinity) in the Summer Technology Challenge.  I am not sure why it was so hard for me, but it took me quite a bit more time to figure out and complete than the other challenges.  I understand why people use Live Binders and think the concept of it is great!  I love looking through already published LiveBinders.  I just found it more difficult to actually create my own Binder.

There were times I had to put down my computer and just walk away because I got so frustrated as to why something wasn't working.  I know it shouldn't be that hard, but something just wasn't clicking for me!  After I understood what Tabs and Sub Tabs were, life was much easier! :)  I found that it was a lot more applicable for me to create Sub Tabs under one specific tab.  Otherwise, I would have had a lot more Tabs than needed.

Another issue I ran into was that my PowerPoint files were too large to upload.  I finally found a couple that were under 10mb.  Progress!

I completely see how and why teachers (and other types of folks, too!) use LiveBinders.  They are great for storing a variety of files.  I know I shouldn't have had this much trouble setting mine up, but I guess they call this the Summer Technology ***CHALLENGE*** for a reason. :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Google Presentation Adventures

Google Presentation is a handy tool for any teacher because of its mobility.  I prefer it over PowerPoint because I don't have to remember where I stored the actual file!  Since it is in Google Drive, it goes where you go!  I don't know how many times in my life I've searched in vain to find a specific PowerPoint.  Google Presentation helps me stay organized on the go.

My Norfolk One-Act Team will be performing Animal Farm by George Orwell as our competitive piece this year.  It will be a symbolic presentation because I prefer more grit than cutesy animal costumes.  I haven't found a good cutting, so I am in the process of writing it myself.  In the fall, before tryouts I will hold a meeting for parents and students.  At the meeting we will discuss rules, expectations, practice schedules, etc., but I would also like to share a little background on Animal Farm and George Orwell so students have an understanding of the material before actually having to tryout.

The Google Presentation I created for Challenge 8 of the Summer Tech Challenge is not quite finished yet.  I will add more content about different characters in the play and which Russian leaders they symbolize.

Revamping Classroom Lessons with Voki

Before the Summer Technology Challenge I hadn't heard of Voki before.  Now that I have, I think it is definitely a resource I can use in my English/Theater classroom.

Before leaving Auburn, I had to turn in my amazing MacBook Pro, which has left me with an old Macbook that is on it's last leg.  I think my Macbook hindered my ability to experiment with Voki because I was unable to record my voice via my computer's microphone.  I could record it, but could permanently attach it to my Voki.  I ended up having to call their toll free number and record my voice that way.  I love that Voki has different options for recording your voice!  And I love options!

I created three Voki's geared toward completely different parts of my teaching.  For the first one, which I will embed into my Blog, I focused on limericks.  I could use this as supplemental info for my sophomore English class.  I also made a special limerick which I dedicated to the Summer Technology Challenge!

The my next Voki, which is actually the first one I created, is geared toward my upcoming Summer One-Act Camp on July 23.  I posted it on the Norfolk One-Act's Facebook page to remind my kids of the camp. Summer One-Act Camp Voki

For my final Voki, I discussed the Ides of March, which will be covered in sophomore English when we read Julius Caesar. Ides of March Voki

I think Voki can be used to spice up any old lesson.  The possibilities are endless, as they say!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Glogster was a site I hadn't heard of until I started the Summer Technology Challenge.  I loved it.  I used it to create a page that will direct my Sophomore English students to a WebQuest I made for them about Julius Caesar.  I kind of did things a little backwards.  It was much easier after I listened to Mickie's instructional video about how to use Glogster.  It was like the heavens opened up and a chorus of angels guided me in the right direction.

In my Glog (is that what they are called?), I inserted a video about the Life and Times of William Shakespeare, a link to my WebQuest, and some graphics.  I also felt compelled to include a couple humorous Shakespeare Memes.

I am a very project-based teacher and Glogster will be fantastic to use in all my classes!  I love when students can interact with technology to make visual masterpieces.  My personal drawing abilities are limited to stick figures, so Glogster opens up a whole new world for me.  And I think my students will agree when I introduce it to them in the fall. They will be able to create amazing projects with Glogster!

I think this is a tool I can definitely use in my classes.  I love that there is a Glogopedia I can browse for other ideas.  I know I will use this piece of technology when assigning projects for my students.  I think it could also be beneficial to students to create their own Glogs.  In my Theater classes, students can use Glogster instead of creating their own posters by hand.  I love all the multimedia aspects of it.  Students (and me as well!) can use audio recordings, video links, and all sorts of great tools!  I am excited to see what they will create and produce!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

TED Talks Kinda Rock

Inspirational TED Talks are wonderful to watch.  Amy Cuddy, in her TED Talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are" would be wonderful for a Speech or Theater Class.  She shares a story of perseverance and courage.  It is incredibly informative and could be easily used in any class setting.

Body language is extremely important and just as important as what actually comes out of our mouths.  My Theater classes could definitely benefit from this video.  Nonverbal communication is essential when my actors and actresses are portraying their lines to the audience.  They have to actually do more than sound convincing; they must look convincing in order to suspend the disbelief of the audience.

Amy Cuddy brings up an amazing point - "Fake it until you make it."  When high school theater students try out for parts in a play, they may earn a part where their character's personality is completely different than their own.  Although they may have no idea how to successfully portray traits of their assigned characters, if they follow the, "Fake it until you make it," mentality it may be an easier transition.  They will be more successful.

Amy Cuddy also brought up a good point of body language in general - how we sit, how comfortable we are with ourselves, etc. has a powerful impact of how we are perceived by people around us.  I think my theater classes could turn this video into some sort of field study and do further independent investigating.