I had a hard time with this assignment. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do so I finally just picked something and went with it. I’m not super happy with it, more because of the Quest itself rather than the design. This class really stretched my level of creativity which has never been very high. I think that had more to do with my apathy towards this assignment than anything else. I think I just need a break. Even better, I need to learn when something is good enough and not spend extra unneeded hours agonizing over the smallest detail. I tend to drive myself crazy.
I had the most fun completing this assignment but it was also definitely the most challenging. I am getting more comfortable with templates and enjoyed picking through the code and seeing what I understood and what I didn’t. I am also getting braver with adding new code and being able to figure out and fix errors.
When I first read this assignment I thought it would be relatively easy. We were asked to use a template to create a homepage that we could use for our final portfolio in the MET program if we so chose. After a couple months of coding webpages, this was a welcome change. I could just choose a page that I liked, download it, add my stuff and be done with it. And that was where I went wrong. I have found the actual coding relatively easy. Designing the pages is difficult for me. I quickly found that when I have numerous sites, full of free pages that I can choose from, I get overwhelmed. My family has learned not to give me more than 3 or so options when asking me to choose something. Sending me to Home Depot to choose a color for a room is an exercise in futility.
I finally found a page that I was happy with and downloaded it. It was fluid, which led to my next problem. It came with so many pages of CSS that I found myself wandering helplessly through a labyrinth. In trying to adjust the coding to meet my requirements, I made such a mess that I had to scrap the whole thing and start over. I chose a different page that was not fluid but does work on tablets and smart phones. Instead of adjusting the CSS for each device, it just makes the page smaller. Even though this was not what I originally wanted, it better matched my skill set.
I found the more involved templates to be overwhelming, both in trying to wade through the code and because I like clean simple lines. I chose this template for just those reasons. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is not fluid so I will probably continue to play with this page as my comfort level increases.
Here is my homepage for EdTech 502.
While I enjoyed creating this activity, I found working across all the platforms very tedious. Keeping the CSS straight in my head was difficult, and I found it easier to plow through it rather than work on it for awhile and then take a break. It was hard to remember where I left off. I also struggled with how to create an activity for my students to complete outside of school as most of my students do not have mobile devices or internet service. I decided that for those with no device, they can try to use their school Chromebooks to take the pictures. If that doesn’t work, I can do an after school session and take them out to the football field, letting them use my devices to complete the assignment. As far as internet goes, there are hotspots all over town, including the neighborhood elementary schools, so that should not be as much of a problem. Where there is a will, there is a way…..
The content I chose for this assignment lent itself well to the parameters involved. My classes are small, so I needed a task that would accommodate a small amount of groups without being overwhelming. We teach solving systems of equations three different ways. Each group will become an expert in one method, and then teach that method to the rest of the class. This activity is definitely something I will use with my classes.
I struggled with making the table, but not inordinately so. It took some adjusting to get it centered on my page and once again, I had difficulty finding colors that made sense to me. It is interesting to note that as nervous as I was about learning to code, I am really enjoying this class. While I am finding it challenging, I am also enjoying it immensely. I think writing the content to go on the pages is more difficult for me than the actual coding. Go figure!
As an Algebra teacher for special education students, I initially wanted to do a concept map on the different methods of factoring, as this is an area that is heavily tested on the NY Regents Exam and my students struggle with this concept. But honestly, my students struggle with most of the algebraic concepts. Abstract concepts are very difficult for them to grasp. I am constantly asked, “When will I ever use this?” and that’s a tough question because I know that none of my students will ever use the majority of this material again. My answer to this question has always been that I am not teaching them math. I am teaching them how to think, and problem solve. If I can get them to try to help themselves without immediately giving up, then I feel that I have done them some good. With this in mind, I created a concept map of places on the web they can go to help themselves when they get stuck. These are all great sites that I would like them to get comfortable going to with a problem. I use VirtualNerd a lot for flipping my lessons. The videos are short, concise and easy to understand. Desmos is our go-to calculator for homework as my students cannot afford a graphing calculator. The MathBits couple is amazing. They live near me, and I love to go to their workshops. They also are the brains behind regentsprep.org, a site that every NY teacher is familiar with. I am not as familiar with Khan Academy, but I have used some of the videos. I really liked the result of this assignment. Both the coding and the content flowed easily from start to finish, so I must have been on the right track!
Interestingly enough, I had the basics of this assignment already outlined as a lesson plan that I hoped to teach at some point in the next few weeks. Now that my students all have Chromebooks, I feel that I cannot emphasize enough how to behave on the internet. Watching them create slides and other presentations, all the while happily right-clicking images on the web without even considering the original artist makes me cringe. Most of my students have not had access like this before if they had it at all. Now that they are getting more comfortable using the technology, I need to start teaching them how to use it respectfully. I tried to include links that match different learning styles and levels and included videos for both my more visual students and those who struggle with reading and/or comprehension. I chose to do my answer sheet as a Google doc as that best matches what we use in school.
This page was my biggest challenge to date to code. I used both ordered and unordered lists and added an image that I wanted to float right. It was difficult to keep everything lined up the way that I wanted and keep my spacing accurate. Color schemes continue to be difficult for me.