"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Few Thoughts

My video is uploading to TeacherTube at the moment, so I decided to take this time to write down a few thoughts about these processes. I found during the making of this crudely constructed and barely feasible montage of images from Harlem and Hughes that the lessons I learned making my podcast came in handy. Because I learned Audacity for sound mixing, I easily lay the poem and underlying music. Plus, my knowledge of the Commons in Wikimedia sent me every single one of the images I used in the presentation. By the end, I was both frustrated (due to my computer freezing a few times before I could save) and elated that I made a movie! It's something I can stress to my students: it's easier than you think.

Well, there's two cents for y'all. The movie has finished uploading, so I embed it onto the blog shortly. Take care, and leave some comments for me. That way I can improve.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Effects of Consuming Literature and Making Movies

As I search the commons for pictures to place in my Hughes video, I couldn't help but start wondering, "Why is this important? How is making a visual representation of Hughes' poem going to help students learn?" A thought that is somewhat pervasive throughout my school years is the necessity of learning literature and history. In a world drenched in technology and driven by science, teaching poetry seems counterproductive. I remember in high school having my English classes justified as being "essential for management; learning how to write will land you a job." The stories and such are trivial compared to good grammar.
I didn't feel that way about English; although I scored poorly in class, I loved (and still do) to read. I found in books not so much an escape from the pine trees of East Texas, but a view into other worlds. I devoured books, because I felt a connection to the characters.
A few weeks back I found an interesting blog post about this very subject. In it, the author laments the downfall of reading. Like me, she observes the importance of literature to enter into the lives of others. That is the key for literature. Literature allows people to experience the "other," peoples and cultures unlike anything readers have experienced.
The question now is: what does this have to do with my movie?
If literature is the doorway to understanding or appreciating other cultures, then responsibility falls upon teachers to find ways for students to understand that culture. I am a Anglo-American who has lived in the South my entire life. If I want to understand even remotely "Theme for English B," I have to find images and accounts of what it means to be a Black Man during the early 20th century. What's more, I have to find ways to convey what it meant to be an African American in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. I will never fully understand those feelings, but through the music, images, words, and accounts left behind, I can construct the mood surrounding the feelings. I see this movie as conveying this moment for students and myself. In this way, I can understand the "other," and gain an appreciation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beginnings of the Video, Multi-Media

This is a week late, but I have my storyboard. The idea behind this video is to help students visualize the concepts of poetry and literature in both visual and audio ways. I chose "Theme For English B" by Langston Hughes for the video. I would that people would take a look at the other Hughes video I embedded onto the blog for an idea of where I'm going with this.
I provided links to all the images I'll be using in the video, and I'll play Bessie Smith's "Lost Your Head Blues," which I own.
Anyway, here's my storyboard. If you have any comments, just let me know.

Monday, March 15, 2010

This Has Absolutely Nothing to Do with Education...

As an offering to Moustache March, a friend told me about this video. I hope you enjoy it.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Digital Literacy

I was really intrigued with this video. It had a lot of the ideas we've been discussing in the course, as well as a reference section at the end which cites her sources. To help with my copyright portion, I found this video uploaded by Emmafleet on 25 Feb. 2010. I retrieved it today, 8 March 2010.

On the Langston Hughes Video

I really liked what Carriann did as far as the video itself, but I felt like she did not give Hughes enough credit. She said his name at the beginning, but failed to recognize from what anthology she found the piece. I don't know if this was covered in the Copyright videos, but it seems common sense that at the end, she acknowledge where she found the poem, and what year it was published.

With that said, I would probably have my students explore ways to visualize the texts we're studying in class, but make sure we cite it properly.

Langston Hughes Video

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My First Podcast is Posted!

I finished editing it awhile back, but, due to schedule conflicts and having to re-record the Coltrane clip, I finally posted it on the class website. It was definitely an eye-opener getting this lesson done. The podcast itself is relatively short -six and a half minutes -but it took a lot of preparation before and after recording to get it ready. I know it's not the highest quality, but I'm still learning about Audacity.
I set up a new page on my website, outlining the purpose behind recording. I'll expound a little on that right now. Firstly, I want to give students an opportunity to interact with the text. I know that may seem a strange concept, seeing how books and poetry are inanimate. However, in reading them out loud and preparing samples for the internet, the students become engrossed in the text. They begin to see it in context, studying the history and cultures around a piece.
Secondly, I see that podcasts of lectures can help students outside the classroom. I felt sometimes as a high school student a little lost when presented with daunting homework. I wished I had someone or something that could help me understand the principles at that time. It's funny how I can understand in the classroom, but once at home, my mind shrinks from the task. Recording lessons and posting them on a class website will give teens an opportunity to get that extra help. What's more, students can also post lessons for present and future classes. They can help a student who is ill, and can't make it to class. He or she can download a lesson, and not be as intimidated to get caught up.

I know a concern I have with podcasts is copyright. I knew about public domain, but now I'm going to look into other sources where I can pick up ideas. It isn't enough to say we will record, but the class must abide by law as well. I'll write more about this in my post tomorrow. Until then, head over to the website, and enjoy the podcast.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Setting up a podcast has become something of a frustration. I know the technology, but I'm having trouble getting all the pieces together. I need to go to record a snippet of John Coltrane to illustrate how someone should approach reading Langston Hughes. That's right, I decided for my first podcast, I'll go over some of the contexts behind Hughes' poetry. I'll be putting this recording up on my class website in the next couple of days, and we'll go from there.
It's been a frustrating couple of weeks in education. A school district in Rhode Island decided to fire all the teachers at an under-performing school, which doesn't make much sense. What will happen to all the students? Will they be shipped off to other schools, which are probably experiencing budget cuts and oversized classrooms? If the incentive is to do better at the national standards, isn't dismissing all the teachers to clear up room for budget counterproductive? It just seems to make sense to place greater emphasis on the areas where we need the most medicine, then taking away the money. What do you guys think?