Blog Post 8C: Classroom Technologies

I am currently observing an English classroom at Beachwood High School. I observe three classes: English 4, AP Language and Literature, and Journalism. This allows me to observe students from all four high school grades.

Beachwood has a 1-to-1 Chrome Book policy, so there is a Chrome Book available for any student who wants to check one out in the library. However, most students bring their own laptops or tablets from home, so not many Chrome Books were utilized in the classes I observed. Students use this technology for two main purposes: work and pleasure. Many of the assignment that my mentor teacher gives them requires students to type up a paragraph response and then email him the paragraph or read something online that he will email them. Many students also take notes on their laptops through Google Drive. However, many students also go on Buzzfeed, Netflix, Youtube, and iChat during class because these applications are not blocked.

These technologies make it easier and more environmentally friendly for Mr. Davis to run his class. He is able to distribute and collect assignments quickly and easily without printing everything out. Collaboration between students is also simpler, because Google Drive is able to be used by multiple students at once. However, I have observed the vast majority of the students using the computers to watch Netflix or sports games instead of paying attention to the teacher. Mr. Davis does not do a good job in enforcing technology limits, so the students get away with playing games or texting during class. This impedes their learning process because they are not paying attention.

Mr. Davis mainly uses a projector, email, and Google Drive in his classroom. He has his own laptop connected to a projector at the front of the room, and he uses that to go through PowerPoints or point out certain articles that he wants them to read. The English 4 and Journalism classes do not have textbooks, so he uses online platforms and articles as textbooks. He finds something that he wants the students to work on, and then he emails them the link. Once the students are done, they will email their completed work back to Mr. Davis. Google Drive is another mode for this, and the students will share their completed work to Mr. Davis. For the journalism class, this is how the editing process is done. Once a reporter is finished with a story, they will share their Google Doc with the editor, who will do edits and then share the Doc with Mr. Davis.

The technologies that Mr. Davis uses to teach help to translate the information and are adequate for his classroom. However, the technologies that the students are allowed to use in his classroom do more harm than good. If Mr. Davis imposed strict guidelines to when they are allowed to use their phones or laptops, then I believe that this issue will be cut down. However, because he does not, the students are largely ignoring his lectures and are just on their technology for leisure.


Blog Post 8B: Access to Multimedia Technology

I am currently observing an English classroom at Beachwood High School. This high school has a lot of technology at it’s disposal, and technology is frequently used in the classroom in which I am observing.

Beachwood has a 1-to-1 Chrome Book selection. Most students have and bring their own laptops to class, which they bought themselves. However, there is a Chrome Book located in the library for anyone who needs one. If a student does not have a laptop but require one, they just have to ask the teacher and they will be given a pass to go to the library and retrieve one.

These Chrome Books are available as long as their is a staff member in the library to give them out, which includes an hour before school, during school hours, and two hours after school when all students should be out of the building. They are not allowed to take the Chrome Books home overnight. They are also unable to reserve the Chrome Books, simply because there is one for each student, so there is no need to have a reservation system.

Certain web 2.0 sites are blocked, including all of the social media sites. However, students are generally able to get around this by using LTE or 3G on their phones instead of the wifi. My teacher lets students be on their cellphones during class, so the web 2.0 blocking does not have a lot of power in that classroom. Students are also able to access Netflix, Youtube, and iChat, so they do have several distractions which I have observed them using while they are supposed to be learning. There is no way to move around this firewall unless you log onto the teacher wifi, which does not have blocks for social media sites.

While researching for this blog, I spoke to Mr. Josh Davis, my mentor teacher; Ms. Jennifer Flaherty, the Media Specialist at BHS; and Sophie Cromwell, a student in Mr. Davis’s class. I talked to Mr. Davis about the technology he allows in his classroom, as well as what technology is generically available to the student body at large. When talking to Ms.Flaherty, I learned about the different technologies available as well as firewalls and repairs to broken Chrome Books. Sophie talked to me a lot about what she can get away with on the Chrome Books, including accessing Netflix, YouTube, and iChat.

Blog Post 7: Digital Story Rubric

Rubric: Digital Story

Possible 70 Points

0-2 points 3-4 points 5-6 points 7-8 points 9-10 points
Clarity -Digital Story is very unclear and difficult to follow.

-Slides and photos were not organized in a thoughtful way

-Most slides or photos seemed out-of-place and drew away from the assignment.

-Digital Story is unclear and can be followed with much effort.

-Slides and photos are partially organized in a thoughtful way, but still detract from story.

-Many slides/photos seem unnecessary and draw from story.

-Digital Story is somewhat clear, with a flow that can be followed with some effort.

-Slides and photos are generally ordered in a thoughtful manner.

-Some slides/photos seem unneccesary and draw away from the story.

-Digital Story is clear and easy to follow with minimal effort.

-Slides and photos  are organized in a thoughtful way overall with very few distractions.

-Very few slides or photos seem out of place.

-Digital Story is clear and easy to follow

-All slides, photos and sections are necessary and add to the story.



-Storyline does not have coherent flow and does not pertain to the subject at all -Storyline can be followed with much effort and pertains to the subject less than 50% of the time. -Storyline is somewhat easy to follow with some effort and moderately pertains to the subject. -Storyline can be followed with minimal effort and pertains to the subject most of the time. -Storyline is easy to follow and pertains to the subject.
Creativity -Digital Story is not original and shows little to no genuine thought. -Digital Story is slightly original and shows little thought. -Digital Story is moderately original and shows some thought. -Digital Story is somewhat original and shows some thought. -Digital Story is original and show genuine thought
Effort -It is clear that the student took very little time to create and edit the story

-Transitions are choppy or nonexistent.

-Editing is choppy or nonexistent.

-The video reflects only a slight amount of effort to create and edit the story.

-Transitions are generally choppy and poor.

-Little editing is done.

-The video reflects a moderate amount of effort to create and edit the story.

-Transitions are mixed, with some being good and others choppy.

-Some editing is done.

-The video reflects some effort to create and edit the story.

-Transitions are generally good.

-Most editing is smooth.

-It is clear that student took time to create and edit the story

-Transitions are well-thought out

-Editing is smooth and coherent.

Time -Video was more than 30 seconds too long or too short. -Video was 20-30 seconds too long or too short -Video was 10-20 seconds too long or too short -Video was 1-10 seconds too long or too short -Video was 2.5-3.5 minutes
Place-Based Learning -There is no evidence of placed based learning. -Evidence of place based learning is there, but it is unclear and unfocused and detracts from video. -Evidence of place-based learning was present, but not the focus -Evidence of place based learning is present but not consistent. -Evidence of place based learning was evident and well thought out
Audio -Voiceover is not present.

-Additional audio conflicts greatly with the voiceover and greatly detracts from the video.

-Voiceover is present

-Additional audio conflicts often with voiceover, making the video unclear.

-Voiceover is present

-Additional audio sometimes conflicts with voiceover and draws from the story.

-Voiceover is present

-Additional audio occasionally detracts from the story.

-Voiceover is present

-Any additional audio is well developed and does not detract from voice over





Digital Story Landing Page

Blog Post 6: Storyboard and Script

For this project, I wanted to relate The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald back to my high school students using the theme of unrequited love, which I believe would be relatable to students.

Story Board:

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Imagine this. You are in a classroom. It’s a normal classroom with many of your friends in it. You have been here before, and you are comfortable in it. Across the way, you see a person you have never seen before. This person immediately captures your attention.After class, you decide to talk to this person. You track them down in the hallway, tap on their shoulder, and say hello. The two of you immediately click. You talk for a very long time, exchanging names. But before you can get their number, class starts, and they walk away. You come to class the next day eager to see them again. But they aren’t there. They didn’t come back to class. You don’t know where they are or how to find them. You search for ways to contact them, but you can’t find a way. Years pass, and while you find romance with others, no one ever replaces that one moment you had with the person in the hallway.

One day, you see them. All the feelings you had for them come back in a rush. You get up the courage to go and talk to them, but before you can, you see that they are with someone else.

What do you do? Do you go up to them? Do you tell them that you have loved them for years? How do you get their attention?

These same questions were asked by the titular character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s infamous novel The Great Gatsby. Much like how you dealt with unrequited love in your own lives, Gatsby has to watch the love of his life with her husband and child just across the bay from where he lives. The only comfort Gatsby has is staring at the green light at the end of his love’s dock, knowing that she is so close, but still so far away.

Stories of unrequited love are common in both literature and life. As we start this unit, think about the crushes of your past.

Do you identify with Gatsby, loving someone but they don’t know you exist?

Do you identify with Daisy, being with one person but wanting another?

Or do you identify with Nick, an observer trying to get two people together?

Whoever you identify with, you are sure to see your own situations in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Blog Post 5: Student Reflections

As I progress through my time at Beachwood High School, I am noticing more and more about my students and how they interact not just with each other and my cooperating teacher, but with technology.

I observe three classes: a senior English course, a junior-level AP English class, and a journalism class. All three of these classes interact with each other very differently.

My cooperating teacher and I have very different teaching philosophies, and I see that when he interacts with his students. He tends to take a more “hands off” approach to teaching, often letting the students work independently for most of the period with little-to-no intervention from him. This works fine with his AP and journalism classes, where the students choose to be there and work towards a product (college credit or a school newspaper), but this works poorly when it comes to the senior-level class. These students are only a couple of months away from graduation, and have little motivation to begin with. Couple this with a teacher who does not monitor his students or actively teach, and you get a classroom where the majority of the students spend most of class time online shopping or texting each other.

With the Senior-level class, this independent study usually translates to group work. This classroom is very racially diverse, and usually the groups are divided up this way. This intrigues me, because the students have no issues interacting when they are placed in groups or work as a whole, but when they choose the segregate themselves. What I am observing as far as group-learning goes is that the students tend to not learn too much when they are working together, unless they have a defined task at hand. If the teacher simply gives them a prompt and tells them to work on it an finish it for homework, the students are more likely to chat and play online than do the work. However, if the teacher tells them that what they are working on is for a grade and needs to be done by the end of the period or needs to be presented, they will work hard on it and effectively learn from each other.

As far as multi-modal literacy, I do not believe that the students are very well versed in it. They do a lot of work both in an actual textbook and online, but it is all reading-based. Since I began observing three times a week, there has not been a single video, audio track, or physical representation. They are only reading a writing, which makes me believe that a diverse set of learners are not being reached.

BlogPost 4: Multimodal Texts


For this blog post, I searched for multimodal texts that I could use in my own classroom. I decided to choose texts that related to three texts that my students could be reading: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.

For The Great Gatsby, I chose a clip from the 2013 film of the same name:

I would use this clip when we came to this very important part in the novel to help give my students a visual idea of what was happening. The author of this text is Warner Bros. Studios, which is the studio that produced the film. The purpose of this text, as far as my class goes, is to illustrate this incredibly important scene from the novel for my class so that visual learners can understand this scene. The audience for this text is anyone who watches the movie, mostly young adults and mature adults, or my class in this case. The genre of this text is video, and the context of this text is that it is the climax of the film.

With the design choices, this clip is organized sequentially to tell a story of an argument. The emphasis of this text is on the main characters of Tom and Jay Gatsby, who are the two major people in this argument. There is quite a bit of contrast in this clip, namely with color. For example, the color of Gatsby’s suit directly contrasts with the intensity of the situation. The alignment of this clip uses mostly the 3/8 rule, in which most of the action occurs to the middle-top of the screen. With proximity, the characters keep a good distance away from each other until the final climactic moment.

For the second text, I chose a picture from the Salem Witch Trials:


Young Goodman Brown is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne about witches in New England. This picture, which was painted during the Salem Witch Trial, can be used to help my students realize the intensity of the Salem Witch Trials.

The author of this text is unknown, but it was painted sometime in the 19th century. The purpose of this text is to show the trial of George Jacobs, a man accused of witchcraft. The genre of this text is oil painting, and the context is that this painting was used to depict that volatile trial of an accused witch in a time where witches who were proven were killed.

When looking at this painting, the emphasis appears to be on the women in the back with the colorful clothes and big movement, namely the restrained woman who is jumping towards the judges. There is a very big contrast between the judges and the people in the crowd as far as color goes. The judges are very dark and reserved in their black robes, while the people in the crowd are all wearing bright and vibrant colors. The organization of this text is very specific, with the judges gathered in one corner of the painting and the spectators surrounding them. There is also a very specific path towards the judges that draws the eye. The alignment includes much of the action at the middle-top of the painting. The people in the painting are in fairly close proximity to each other.

Finally, from the true story Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, an artistic re-creation:


A major part of this text is when Jacobs describes the seven years she spent hiding from her Slave Master in her grandmother’s attic in a very small, cramped space. This drawing is what the space looked like.

The author of this image is unknown, but the purpose is to show what the space where Jacobs lived for 7 years would look like. The audience would be anyone who is curious about what it could have looked like. The genre is drawing, and the context is that it is a scene from a true story.

As far as the rhetorical situation goes, the emphasis is clearly on Jacobs in this photo. The light is on her, so eyes are immediately drawn to her. The contrast is also startling, because the light is so drastic compared to the dark and black outline that frames the light. As for organization, Jacobs is positioned to the side of the frame, which makes the candle necessary and useful. For alignment, Jacobs is positioned to the side, and there is a very interesting framing that gives a clear triangle. For proximity, there is not much foreground and background, but there is still a clear eye on Jacobs.

Blog Post 3: Mobile Learning

I am currently observing at Beachwood High School, and one of the classes that I am observing is a junior and senior level journalism class. As I was watching my mentor teacher working this week, I noticed that a lot of the students, while in the process of writing news stories, were using less than desirable sources to source their story, including Buzzfeed News and Huffington Post.

My mentor teacher was trying to explain to them why these weren’t credible, but they just weren’t getting it. So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make them a mobile learning website to help them get the hang of it while also doing this project.

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-5-48-27-pmMy website is made specifically for those who are having troubles with identifying credible sources. However, I do not want them to come to this website and simply find a list of sources. This does not encourage higher-level thinking. So, I decided to scaffold using my menus list.

I began with a list of credible and non-credible sources so that students can identify the similarities that the sources have and see what kinds of sources they should be looking for. After that, the next menu was all about how to identify a credible source. By doing this, I am asking my students to apply their knowledge of credible and non-credible sources in order to verify credibility by themselves. This way, they are not reliant on the website and it is instead just a tool for them to utilize at their will.

The next menu was tools and tricks that they could use, and finally there is an assessment so that I can measure how much they have learned.


I would integrate this into my lesson by presenting this as a resource to my students; it would not be a full lesson, but I would rather show my students how to utilize the website and then let them take charge of their own learning and use it whenever they wished or needed to. This way, the website does not stick to one particular lesson; it spans across the whole year.

Hopefully, my students will find this helpful. I know that I also struggled with credible sources when I was first learning how to write journalistically, so this would have helped me!

You can find the website here.

Video Games Post 3: How does it end?

Something interesting happened the further I progressed in The Republia Times. The levels are set in dates, and around day 5, a message popped up in my news bar: a message from a faction that wants me to plant negative stories in order to stoke a rebellion. However, because my family was still in danger, I also have to bear in mind that I cannot outright disobey the orders of the government.


The first time around, I tried to put only one negative article in at a time. However, after my allotted four days, I was found out, and my family and I killed.

So I tried again, with the same result. So I decided to change up my tactics and try to ignore the faction leader, and keep inserting positive articles. However, I had the same result. This time, however, I was told that I was no longer needed and that’s why I was killed, as opposed to being anti-government.


This makes me think that this game does not go any farther that this level, which is kind of frustrating. I feel like the creator should have included more levels and more outcomes. If every choice leads to the same outcome, then how can this be a suitable video game?

As for whether or not I would use this game in the future, I don’t think that I will in my classroom. Initially, I thought that I would, because I thought that it would work well into an English classroom. However, I am very disappointed that there is no ending that depends on User choice. Everything ends up in the User dying. This does not utilize Gee’s principal of co-design, because the user actually does not have any impact further than day 11.

With a little tweaking, I believe that this could be a really great game, but right now it just feels incomplete. And considering that this game was nominated for several awards, I am surprised that this is the outcome.

Video Games Blog 2: Trying something new

Previously, I was playing a video game called Urbanology. I really didn’t see the point to this game, and it seemed to me to be less like a game than a simple quiz. So, I decided to change games and try something new.

While reading one of the articles we were assigned in class, I stumbled upon a game called The Republia Times in an article meant for Humanities teachers. I decided to give it a try, and I actually really liked it.

The game is set in a future dystopian setting in what was once the United States. After a violent faction killed off the majority of the United States government and took over the country, they renamed it Republia and were soon in a war with another country called Antegria. Republia wins this war, but the government is very corrupt.


The User is the Editor-in-Chief of the Republia Times, the most influential newspaper in Republia. However, the government has the User’s family in custody, so the User has to use the paper in order to influence the citizens of Republia, or else the User and their family will be killed.

Users are then directed to a page where they must format the front page of a newspaper, making sure that there are enough stories and those stories keep up readership while also making the government happy. This is a tricky problem, because time goes faster and faster as Users progress through the game. Users also have to decide the different sizes and placements of the stories, because this directly affects readership and influence.


I was having some issues in this unit trying to figure out how to tie Video Games to my future English classroom, but I think that I could make this one work. Several novels that I could work with deal with government oversight and this could be a good exercise to show how newspapers and the news in general play an important role in how the populace receives information.

I am looking forward to playing this game more to figure out how it works and to see how else I could use it in my classroom. I think that this would be a good way to utilize some of Gee’s principals, including co-design (learners feel like active agents) because they are actively changing the way the game works and identity (learners take on a news identity) because they will be taking on the persona of a journalist.

Blog Post 2: First Attempts

Growing up, I was never that into video games. My parents never bought them for my brother and me until we were about 10 years old, and even then I didn’t really understand what the big deal was. My brother was very into them, but I was always more content watching him play video games than actually playing them.

However, I feel that this is a good opportunity to actually try video games that are different from ones that I may have been exposed to. The game that I have chosen to play is called Urbanology.


Going into playing this game, I thought that I would be designing my own city and going through various simulations and trials to make the city function well and be sustainable. I was wrong.

This game was more like a quiz where I answered 10 questions based on what I would do if I ran a city.


After I answered the questions, I could see the percentage of other people who answered the same. The graphics on this game are very nice, because it not only tells me what percentage of users agreed with me, but it also gives me a visual representation of it.


If a User wanted to, they could click on “Current Score” to see how their answers to the questions effected their score. Users are scored over eight different categories: Innovation, Transportation, Health, Affordability, Wealth, Lifestyle, Sustainability, and Livability. After each question, these levels could go up, down, or be unchanged depending on the User’s answer.


At the end of the quiz I saw what real-life city most resembled the city I had created. In my case, this was San Francisco. Urbanology decided this based on my highest priority of Affordability and my lowest priority of Wealth.


In doing this game a number of times, I also got my city as Tokyo and London, so this game is not very consistent.

I thought that this game would be closer to a video game than it actually was. I didn’t feel that I was influencing anything or that my answers had any meaning besides what city I should live in. I was disappointed in it.

I think in the future I will pick a different game, because I really didn’t learn anything. And when it comes to fitting video games into an educational context, I believe that learning something in the process of playing the game is the most important thing.

Continue to Video Games Blog 2