Trying Out Swivl’s Recap

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I’m a Swivl Pioneer and so was alerted to the launch of Recap, a website that allows students to interact via video with questions the teacher poses. (I’ve heard this is similar to VoiceThread, which I know of but with which I am not directly familiar.)

In my Medieval Lit class, we’re focusing on manuscripts for the next few weeks, and so I thought I’d turn my class loose with Recap and some introductory videos on MSS to see how Recap works.

Once you’re logged in to Recap, you make classes:

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There’s my Medieval class.

At the upper right of that screen is the ‘Add Recap’ button, which allows you to write questions for your students to answer and you can set the length of max response (2 mins max).

When I first started writing the questions, I was sticking to largely objective questions (because they were the ones that came to mind) but I realized that it seemed somewhat wasteful for students to record answers to objective questions (though I was happier with the video responses to those questions than I expected; more on that below). As I went on, however, I made more open-ended questions, including questions that required physical props; this, it would seem, is the real advantage to Recap, is the ability to hold before the camera in a dynamic way objects to enhance a response.

Once the students answer and submit, the teacher has a summary screen:

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(At the risk of sounding defensive, the students were working in groups, which is why the percentage is so low.)

You can see too that students are able to rate their understanding with a simple visual key and student videos are available for watching at the bottom.

Here’s a screen-scroll of all of the responses / summary screens:

ScreenFlow from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Recap also produces (and I mean that to some extent in the technical sense as well) a ‘Daily Review Reel’ (at upper right) that puts together the videos with some music, borders, and the question at the beginning. (I’m not quite sure why all of the videos didn’t make the review reel but I did find that you could add or subtract videos from the reel; perhaps they try to keep the review reel on the shorter side?)

Here’s a link to the video (Recap provides this; no embed code as far as I could find). And here’s the screen-grabbed video:

ScreenFlow from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

In the end, I’m always trying to assess whether a new tool like this has staying power. Is it an effective tool for me and my students to make more efficient and more successful my teaching and their learning? The easy answer is I don’t know. They were initially skeptical (at best) of videoing their answers but, once they got used to the idea, they produced good responses in a more natural and comfortable way. I enjoyed listening to the answers because their personalities came through. And even for the objective questions, which, as I said above, I felt like was a bit of a waste for this kind of format, it seemed like they had a better handle on that objective information than they would have if they were writing it down, filling in a blank, etc. I will try to do circle back to this information later to test that sense, but that was an initial impression.

So a good first foray. I think finding the right kind of assignments for this is important, but I’ll continue to experiment with it.

Classical Play Project Redux / 2017 – Increasing Productivity

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The dynamic in this year’s class is very different from last year’s, largely because of size. We went from 22 in the class last year to 7 in this class this year (a bit embarrassing to admit, I agree, but there is a valid reason that it’s that small and that it ran: because of a new scheduling system, 5 students dropped the day before school began because of a scheduling conflict).

So last Friday we had a particularly unproductive day. Now, granted, it was last block on a Friday and we had rotated out on Thursday, so that didn’t entirely surprise me, but it did make me think about my role in productivity and the lack thereof.

We meet in a conference room with a big table that essentially takes up the entire space, with me at the near end of the table and everyone else around (including the other end). But this set up means I have nowhere to go. I have to be at the table with the students; I can’t remove myself to let them work without my (passive) presence. Last year, with 22 in a traditional classroom, I could sit at the back and be out of sight but still within earshot and speak-shot.

So today I figured I would remove myself. I gave the students a few options: I could leave the room entirely and go to the room across the hall, or I could sit at the table with my headphones and be there but shut off. The students came up with a third solution: put me with my back to them in the room at the countertop with my headphones on. So that’s what I did. And it seemed to work out. I didn’t hear much but I could tell by the end that they were much farther along than they had been when we began.

I think we are very nervous about not only letting go but also the perception from others, either fellow teachers or administrators, about the amount that we are working. (I was secretly hoping that an administrator would pop in just for the shock value.) But ultimately we have to do what’s best for the students, and for this project my presence was hindering them. By removing my (figurative) presence, I let them be more productive. And I’m ok with that.

I had one of the students take some pictures of my set-up:

Classical Play Project Redux / 2017 – Text Debate

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So the Classical Play Project is back. You might remember “The Michaels” (links / entries are not necessarily in chronological order), the modern adaptation of Plautus’ Menaechmi that my Classical Lit class worked on last year. One of the big questions was whether or not we would do it again this year.

But this year’s class is on board, so off we go. This year, though, with a twist. The class has elected to pen and perform a play for the elementary schools. More to come on all of that but we had a pleasantly spirited debate about the text / subject matter in class and I managed to video some of it which I include below. (And the lapel-camera quality is me getting used to a new lens I got for the iPad.)

And, as these things often go, despite what the video suggests, we ultimately did not decide on Hercules but rather (back to) Pyramus and Thisbe.

ScreenFlow from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

The Swivl Expand Lens

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As a Swivl Pioneer, I received a set of Swivl Expand lenses for use in classroom and group-work observations. I’ve not had a chance to pilot them yet in full flower, so to speak, but did a get-to-know-you session with one of the lenses yesterday in class. Pretty cool, I must say. I’ve pasted below some screenshots from the Swivl Expand website that illustrates and explains what they are and what they’re for, and below that I’ve embedded a quick video from my class that shows it with and without the lens. Full disclosure, I’m using the lens without the Swivl case, which includes a stabilizer for the lens, which explains some of the choppiness, but I’m excited to use them and I’ll let you know how it goes.

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ScreenFlow from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Latin Movie Trailers

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At long last, the Latin Movie Trailers. Here they are in all of their glory (or lack thereof). In no particular order (except I did put Rogue One (Furcifer Unus) first because I believe the BluRay comes out today or hereabouts). Enjoy.

Rogue One

Inception

 

Despicable Me

 

Toy Story 3

 

Song of the Sea

Baby Boss

My Movie – Small from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Slumdog Millionaire

FCB2A039-8796-48FD-B413-4808E570CBE0_HQ from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Sleeping Beauty

Movie Trailer from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast Latin from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Jungle Book

Latin Movie Project (1) from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Wall-E

WALL-E Latin Project from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Latin Movie Project-1 from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Wallace and Grommit

Beauty and the Beast (a different one)

Princess Mononoke

Grand Budapest Hotel

Apple Distinguished Educator Denial

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I had applied to be an ADE this time around and just found out yesterday that I was not chosen. A bummer, to be certain, but not entirely surprising; it is a difficult admission to achieve and I wasn’t entirely confident in my video. With that said, as I made the video, going through old materials, reviewing my own career with technology, I will admit that I felt more confident as the process went along than when I decided to apply.

I write this really for two reasons. One, for the simple act of transparency. I did it. It didn’t work out. Here it is. Two, a bit more tricky. Here is Apple’s email:

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Perhaps I’m being a bit sensitive here, but, as a humanities teacher and believer, I find the primacy of ‘Everyone Can Code’ in the opportunities-to-engage-with-Apple suggestions a bit disconcerting. I understand too that the code movement is not entirely a STEM phenomenon and that the humanities in many ways have been at the vanguard of technology expansion and exploration. I’m also not saying that I wasn’t chosen because of my humanities interest and teaching.

With all of that said, however, assuming that there are plenty of humanities teachers who applied and were denied, it does seem a touch tone-deaf to lead with something so antithetical to their training and day-to-day work (however much Apple may want us to expand our horizons), especially in this era of STEM-dominance and humanities-survival (or lack thereof).

Am I bitter? I’m not sure that’s quite the right word, but I will reluctantly admit that I am on that spectrum. I guess I’m just concerned that everyone has forgotten how many STEM advancements were made with the simple yet powerful training that the humanities provide (and, lest we forget, science and math and their offshoots are part of the humanities) and, as we move farther and farther away from that training, I wonder what we will lose as we gain other things.

Sed de hoc satis. On to the video. I’ve embedded it below. I thought it was a bit rushed (I was hoping they’d hit the pause button a few times) and I suspect it focused a bit too much on me and not enough on my students and the impact of (Apple) technology on them. That’s my utterly anecdotal assessment.

ADE Video from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Grading Presentations with Noteshelf and the ApplePen

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I have always graded student presentations on my computer using Excel. I have four categories, enter the grade and comments for each category on the computer during the presentation, and Excel does the math for the final grade.

Recently, though, I’ve been using my computer to project the presentations; I seemed to have some trouble with the frequent swapping in and out of multiple (student) computers. But if I use my computer to project, I can’t use it to grade.

This year I figured I would be able to use the iPadPro to grade. So I opened the spreadsheet via Dropbox in Excel and off I went. Except…the iPad told me that it was read-only (in Excel) and I had to convert it to be able to edit it, and the convert button didn’t seem to want to convert.

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So I took a screen shot of the spreadsheet and made it my default page in Noteshelf (see here for Noteshelf and other notetaking apps) and used the ApplePen to grade it.

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I screenshot the completed sheet for each student, uploaded it to Dropbox, and uploaded it to ItsLearning. As usual, the ApplePen made it worthwhile; I wouldn’t have wanted to do that with a regular stylus.

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