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                                     By: David Ryan
                                      June 13, 2008

Part 1:   A summary of my experiences thus far.
Part 2:   What NETS T standards have been covered so far and affect can they have.
Part 3:   How can I put some of this technology to use in my classroom.
Part 4:   Conclusion.

                                           Part 1

   To summarize my experience in completing the Visual Literacy module, I would have

to use the words enlightening mixed with elements of frustration.        Many of the skills

covered are skills that I use on a daily basis. Photo editing and manipulation, screen

grabs, and creating images from scratch are processes I use quite frequently in the

creation of advertisements and publicity materials for productions at Martinsburg High

School. Although I am quite familiar with photo editing tools such as JASC Paint Shop

and Adobe Photo Shop, I was encouraged to learn of other possible photo editing tools

such as Picasso. My frustration level rises when faced with tasks that should be easily

accomplished, but due to the inferior level of equipment, some still operating on

Windows 95, or the lack of quality servers at the high school level, make programs

difficult and sometimes impossible to download, install and often times cause the

computer to become sluggish or unresponsive. I was enthused, however, about the ease

and accessibility of the online graphing tools. Granted I have not needed such tools

frequently in the past, I now find them to be so easy to use and readily available on the

internet that I may find ways to incorporate them into lesson plans (i.e.: create a pie chart

that shows the number of Broadway shows that are musicals as compared to those that

are non-musicals.).

                                           Part 2

   According to the 2000 NETS for teachers, many of the assignments provided in the

Visual Literacy Module provide a strong foundation to teachers enabling professionals to

advance closer to being 21st Century compliant. Introductory skills such as basic forms

of web based communications and the creation of simple web pages enables teachers to

effectively communicate and advertise not only to students directly associated to, but to a

universal audience. The use of photo images also helps clarify communication and

makes learning easier for those visual learners in the classroom. After the keys to

technology are unlocked and become less intimidating and more plausible, one can’t help

but feel that limitations are virtually endless after reading the 2000 NETS for teachers.

What was once a one-dimensional textbook based lesson plan can now become a three-

dimensional, interactive activity that effectively covers the required content standards

while making the material more tangible and real for the students. Laying more of the

responsibility of research on the students taps into Bloom’s Taxonomy where the

principle foundation is knowledge followed by understanding. If a student is provided

the opportunity to do research on their own, in a fun, creative and stimulating way,

repetition of this research will drive the student upward to the top of Bloom’s stair steps

of learning. Ironically, there has been an enlarged interest in the social and ethical uses

of technology in the theatre world. With the creation of Utube and Myspace many

theatrical leasing agencies have turned to these on-line resources to enforce copyright

laws by policing them and looking for “bootlegged” videotapes of performances

protected by copyright laws. Students need to be taught and learn the trickle-down

effects caused by the miss-use of technology. A graph has been provided to demonstrate

the correlation between assignments and 21st Century Technology Standards.

                                          Part 3

   In my opinion, implementation is one of the many double-edged swords to be

encountered with the increasing use of technology. True, there are limitless possibilities

for incorporating the use of technology into lesson plans. For example, I have often

wanted to incorporate GoogleEarth into my lessons on the ancient Greek theatre, showing

the students a true aerial view of the Theatre of Dionysus then zoom over to London to

show them the Globe Theatre. Unfortunately I am not allowed to install that program on

school computers and while I am willing to bring in my laptop for this demonstration, the

servers at my school are so slow that this program does not run effectively. During the

2007 school year, my theatre level four class was given the assignment to write, film and

submit a short horror film to Chiller TV’s Dare-2-Direct contest. Using a regular digital

camera with motion picture capabilities and then utilizing film editing tools found as

standard equipment with Windows XP, my class story-boarded then executed the filming

of this 5 minute short film. Following the specified guidelines for contest entry, the film

was completed and submitted and out of 300 entries won 1st place in scariest special

effects and a $5000.00 grand prize. This project was constructed on a student’s laptop as

the computers at the school were unable to effectively complete this project. I have

found that power point lesson plans have been successful in my classes. The inclusion of

immediate visual and auditory aids have enhanced the lesson’s effectiveness while

maintaining my organizational skills by keeping me from digging through books and/or

miscellaneous photos in order to provide visual aids. This also speeds up the pace of the

lesson and works better to maintain attention among the students. Until this year, this

was an unobtainable goal as our school has only 4 LCD projectors. With a portion of the

$5000.00 won with the short film, I was able to purchase a LCD projector exclusively for

the theatre department.      Technology provides an endless menu of educational

opportunities. As per Bloom’s Taxonomy, creation is the final product of an escalating

series of achievements that begins with knowledge. The depth of research that today’s

technology enables provides the students with multiple opportunities to learn; research

and understand; explore; apply what they have discovered; and eventually create a

finished and thoroughly thought out finished product. My closing example for this

section references my final exam project for theatre level one. This assignment, an oral

presentation, compares a modern day musical theatre piece to its origins. The students

had freedom of choice, however a particularly interesting one was based on “Sweeny

Todd”. Using the internet, this student was able to research and download the original

penny-dreadful that inspired the Stephen Sondheim 1982 musical that then inspired the

2007 movie starring Johnny Depp. She was able to compare and contrast the use of

digital special effects in the new movie as compared to the look and feel of the staged

version from the 1980s. This was presented to me both orally and as a power point

presentation given to the class. I feel that this was an exemplary example of the use of

technology as a tool for research as well as presentation.

                                           Part 4

   Living in a county that forbids teachers from requiring students to supply their own

pencils or paper presents many challenges in pushing the educational system closer to the

21st Century. As stated previously, I have endeavored to incorporate as much technology

into my lessons as possible. Things like thumb-drives, to some students are standard

equipment, however to others are quite the luxury. I am a firm proponent of technology

and the use of computers for activities other than instant messaging and exchanging e-

mails, although both are worthy skills. I am passionate about the depth of learning that is

available on the backsides of these computer screens. I enjoy the hunt and the process of

learning more on a topic I find personally interesting. Additionally, I enjoy presenting

this information in an entertaining fashion utilizing images, sounds and other materials

that compliment the information I have found. Sadly though, with $500,000.00 worth of

new Astroturf on our football field, many computers in our school sit nonfunctional or

are still operating on Windows 95. I fear that by the time we shift the focus of the

general population toward education and technology, skills we are learning now will have

become outdated or replaced by newer versions. My continuing challenge remains, and

will continue to remain, how to take the standards that the NETS and ISTE have deemed

appropriate for educators and apply them to a system that seems, in my opinion, reluctant

to change or quite possibly financially unable to provide the materials necessary to

facilitate the maximum use of technology in the classroom.


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