My Learning Journey

Name: Dan Jacobs
Role: Teacher/Learner

Transformative Ideal: The 1st 5 Days (written 3/12/15)
1. What skills and culture will learners need to attend to my ideal?

  • Medium computer literacy. To me, this means: understanding how and where to save files; practice with proper use of flash drives & SD cards; knowledge of a range of ways to get to the same result (for example, transferring files from SD card to flash drive, OR using One Drive for access to files, OR saving to a local hard drive for editing, etc.).
  • Time set aside for processes that take longer than one 45-minute block. For example, I have a group of kids who were so excited form their first trimester in podcasting that they gave up a free block to continue -- and their free block abuts lunch, which they appreciate and use whenever they are on a roll or just don't want to interrupt filming, editing, etc.
  • Students and parents who understand and accept that the time taken to create a good podcast, audio anthology, etc. , is time taken from other potential activities.

2. Which of these skills have my students already developed, or already a part of our culture?
I think most students either have these skills, or else they are on their way to developing them. Most of them seem to be okay with process; this might mostly be my problem in that I'm assuming attitudes on the parts of parents that might not exist, but that nonetheless have a self-imposed chilling effect on my feeling of freedom to muddle around, even if we don't produce much in terms of finish products.
3. Which might need more attention?
Parents. Perhaps I could send a note home, or even have a meeting at the beginning of the year, not only explaining the experimental nature of the class, but also asking them for any resources and experience they might have with podcasting.
4. How might I leverage the first 5 days (literally or figuratively) to build their capacity in these areas?
It's the same problem I have across the board: I need to set reasonable expectations and reinforce them.
Also, setting up a very clear shooting & editing schedule, posting it on the wall & on Edmodo, and making sure I have everything set up, charged, and ready to go ahead of time.

My Destination Postcard:
<upload image here>

From our brainstorm list of possible topics (or others that have surfaced in your thinking):
  • Which interest you?
    • Blogging
    • Student Roles
    • Online Discussions
    • Podcasting
    • Documentation & Reflection

  • Which peak your personal/professional curiosity the most?
    • Podcasting piques my personal curiosity the most. Video and audio podcasting have so many possibilities for learning and teaching in a creative way.
    • Documentation & Reflection. This is has both professional and personal appeal for me. There is enormous potential for using long-term documentation (like a digital portfolio) for personal growth and for practical uses, such as assessment of growth, college applications, submissions to art shows, resumes, and promotional material for Roeper

  • What questions surface within the topic(s) and with specific regard to your practice? To your own learning? To student learning?
    • How do I know that the cost/benefit analysis comes out in favor of spending time on creating podcasts? Time is the biggest question. In the time it takes to create a podcast, students could read a good portion of a book, write part of a paper, have a terrific discussion, etc.
    • I have the same question for documentation & reflection, although the argument in favor of them is much clearer.
    • How can I best help students create authentic productions?
    • How can I re-structure my priorities so that I actually take the time to work on/enable students to work on their podcasts, portfolios, etc.?


Bloom's Understanding: What was important about what I did? Did I meet my goals?
Teacher Reflection: Can I explain the major components of the lesson? Do I understand how they connect with the previous / next unit of study? Where does this unit fit into the curriculum? What instructional strategies were used? Did I follow best practices and address the standards?

Lesson: Students give presentations where they show a 3-10 minute clip from a fantasy film, TV show, or video game, and then they give 3-5 minutes of analysis.
The lesson was important because students can choose a clips and topics that interest them. It also provides us with a much wider range of exposure to types of fantasy in visual media than I would give, especially given that students often know of terrific video games and films that I've never heard, nor would I have even known to look/where to look.
Strategies included lining up students who tend to perform well in class presentations so that they went first as role models for students who tend to create superficial presentations. I emphasized positive points of analysis, asked follow-up questions, and extended students' points. I addressed my own standards brilliantly...

(Dis)Comfort Zones
Totally Within My Comfort Zone:
- Edmodo in terms of using it as a BBS; not in terms of actually using it as a dynamic learning environment used for student growth and better teacher assessment, which is what I want to use it for (and/or any other environment that works).
- Integration of all sorts of multimedia platforms (PowerPoint, Videos, text, Youtube, etc.) into class presentations.
- Bryce 3D & the various export & import technology associated with it
- Various Cameras

Wikispaces; Blogging; Audacity; Windows Live Movie Maker; Using Phones more. E.g., I'm exploring bluetooth-connected keyboards & monitors so that my phone can ultimately replace a laptop. Also, instead of having kids check out a video camera, I'd like them to be able to video record, edit, & upload from their phones. I'm still learning about where & how they can upload.

Actually coordinating the creation of video blogs in a real class, as opposed to with just 2-3 students. Yep, definitely freaking out.
Video editing. I can do it, but my 30+-year lack of patience with it has led to a dread of the process & has prevented me from truly becoming adept at it.


Planning Stage

Influenced by:


The element of my practice I'd like to tinker with is student involvement.


  • Goal - The goal of my effort is to create an environment where students are exploring literature from the ground up in terms of their own interests and ideas.

  • Question - The fundamental question I will be exploring is: How can I set up lessons where students are prompted to question their own interests, apply them to & through the texts, and learn using media that are the best means for them to learn and be assessed. I strongly feel that we could use the appeal to a larger audience through social media to give their learning a stronger feeling of relevance and ownership; I just have no idea what the best approach would be.


What artifacts of learning might I collect as evidence of growth...?

  • anecdotal records: I know this is pretty basic, but the other day I collaborated with a student who showed up for class early to change the focus of the class from far too loose for good conversation, to sharp and explicit in expectations for people to contribute intelligently and to be respectful of each other.
  • student reflections
  • teacher reflections
  • student work samples
  • iterations
  • observations
  • peer/colleague feedback
  • assessment data
    • rubrics
    • other formative pieces...
  • surveys
  • counts
  • more...
external image Audacity-icon.pngThe reason for doing action research is to improve future action.
–Richard Sagor, Guiding School Improvement with Action Research, (ASCD professional development program)


My learning network will include (books, articles, websites, people, other):

Our Diigo Group

  • @TheRoeperSchool
  • #RoeperR&D

Dan Notes:
Podcast Classes:
During first semester, I had a group of high school students for whom identity issues are, justifiably, central to everything everywhere – particularly with race and gender. I understand that this is normal, but this group collectively became angry and redirected almost every conversation toward race and gender issues. For second semester, I am teaching an African-American Literature class with many of the same students; I decided to record the classes from the start, post the recordings to Edmodo, and ask the students to pick out excerpts from the class recordings by time range. My ultimate goal is for us to edit together the excerpts that students consider to be most useful for others to understand the issues that have come up in class.
Issues: AUDIO! I want this to be suitable for public consumption and future Roeper generations, and I hate the idea of leaving a legacy of poor audio quality.

Right now, we’re just using my phone. An acquaintance of mine in the recording industry offered to give suggestions for an audio set up that would be best for group discussions (6-10 students).
Should I:

- get a universal mic & put it in the middle of the group?


- Get 3-4 mics that can be easily passed and/or leaned into when people talk, and that lead into a single recording device
We purchased a camera & forgot to check to see if it has external mic input (it doesn’t). Bought it as a bundle, so returning is not much of an option.
Talked with Brian Durst, who knows a good deal about audio recording equipment. In 5 minutes he found a mixer for under $100 that would allow us to input 2 XLR mics. It was:
The Behringer Xenyx 802 Premium 8-Input 2-Bus Mixer with Xenyx Mic Preamps and British EQs

The video podcast

1. Camera had no mic input: Purchased a camera; had everything we needed except the most essential component: a mic jack.
2. SD Card Died: We were in the process of moving the SD card straight from the camera to the SD reader when the SD card just died & we lost hours of unrepeatable student work. It might have been the cheap SD reader (I bought it at Microcenter for $6); it might have been stressed by the student; it might have been a design flaw.
3. Need Lights: We need 3 video studio lights.