Attending a Webinar

I attended the Education Week Webinar, Preparing Students for College, Work and Life, on Tuesday, November 30, 2016.  I have included the link, but unless you have better luck that I do, it most likely will not work.  Therefore, I have included the link to the homepage where you can search for the recorded webinar.

What were the strengths and weaknesses of the show format?

As not only a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, but a teacher for English Language Learners, I did not find many strengths in this type of learning for my students.  I signed up for the webinar and went through all of the registrations steps and waited for this webinar date.   I was excited to try a new avenue of learning, I was sadly disappointed.  On the day of the webinar, I could not log on.   I used the reminder link that had been sent to me about an hour before and I got the “circle of death” icon on my Mac.   I was surprised as I completed the browser test provided and my system passed with flying colors.  I tried to enter from the webpage and it still did not work.   I had to re-register using a different email address and try to logon through several browsers before I finally got an audio feed.   About ten minutes into the webinar, it became visually available, followed by captions.  The webinar was basically a powerpoint of pictures with two people speaking and to the slides.  It was, to be quite frank, boring.

The one potential I see for a webinar of this manner is for my drive home.   I have quite a lengthy drive home, usually about an hour and this could be beneficial to listen to on the way home.  I already listen to a podcast and ultimately, for me, this is a type of podcast that can take posted questions.

Would you participate in future shows of this nature?

In the way that is was presented today, no.   I was not impressed with the manner in which I needed to logon and fight with the webinar to connect.  I was also not impressed with the way that captioning happened.  It was staccato in nature and it made it challenging to read.  I do not feel that the topic was addressed.   I was mostly discussing how wonderful  their programs are and not how to address the need to prepare students for college.   It was more of a “we are awesome and you are not” then beneficial to me.   The other issue that plagued me was the schedules for the webinars.  Most were provided when I was teaching or a subscription was needed.   This webinar was not even close to being my first choice, but it was one that I could listen to over my preparation period.  It was billed as a webinar for teachers of special needs children, it was not.  Overall, I was not impressed with this webinar.

How could this type of webcast be incorporated into the classroom?

In my classroom, it could not.  The rate in which the webinar moved and strayed off task, would be a waste of my time.  I would be acting as an interpreter in a lecture hall and not an educator.  I actually located some webinars that were more applicable to me and my peers.  High School transition planning for Deaf Students and ASL Interpreting but these webinars had already taken place and needed to be viewed as recordings.   The webinar for High school transition planning included a video presentation, with both Deaf and hearing experts as well as an interpreter.   Captioning was on the bottom of the screen, as opposed to a second page and connected the two mediums immediately.   This type of webinar, although few and far between, is one that I would look into in the future for me and my students.

How might you use it with students?  As attendees or broadcasters?

I am not sure that I would use it.   I think a tailor made live broadcast is the better way to go in my situation.   Possibly connecting with other Deaf schools and working on topics together to broadcast may be the way to go.   Since there are slim picking for the demographic that I teach, we may need to pave the way before we can evaluate it.

LIVE Broadcast!

From the beginning of this class, this is the assignment that was I dreading.  I am not a huge fan of seeing myself on camera for a short amount of time, let alone for ten plus minutes.   Having a busy schedule, I went for the day that I not only had willing sous chefs, I also had a willing videographer!  My husband Bill, although not on camera, can be heard reading posts and questions to me as they appeared live.  Below I will address my experiences, from preparing for it to executing it.   As an English teacher, I approached it in a manner that is second nature to me!


The topic was pretty easy to pick, I knew I wanted to do something that involved my kids (we live far away from most family and friends, so this was the carrot that brought viewer to my live broadcast).  I also wanted to do something that could be applicable to my students.  The ability to attach a link to the broadcast as well as the ability to continue to get comments after the broadcast was also a big attraction for me.  I liked the idea that a recorded broadcast was still there for the people to see and access.

After looking at the live broadcast options, I decided to use Facebook Live.   I have a few friends who have used it and it has appeared in my feed.  It looked easy enough.  I reached out to friends who have used it and they confirmed that it was relatively easy to use.  The other reason that I chose Facebook Live was the ease of use for my students.  The other platforms would require a learning curve, whereas, most of them are familiar with this specific platform.  My thought was to have the students record a “virtual” fieldtrip, which they could then summarize in written form, addressing technology and language standards.  Therefore, I planned to create my own “virtual field trip” as my family and I toured Santa’s workshop on Wednesday night.  But apparently there is no internet on the North Pole and I was not able to go live!  I may still have students document their experiences in a “virtual field trip” when my students go on their basketball tournament in January.   I am concerned that my school will not allow this to happen, but I want to be able to show that this is a legitimate way of asking the students to multitask.  We shall see.

Since the North Pole was not going to happen, I looked back into some of the tasks that I would be asking of my students in the upcoming weeks and a “how-to” is projected for next semester.   Therefore, I wanted to combine the two, something that my kids could do and something that my students (and myself could benefit from) and this was it, combing the awesomeness of my kids and a lesson that I already teach!  In the manner of all skilled teachers, I had to punt.


As I stated earlier, being the age that I am, I knew that I not only needed to go a route that was easy to use and familiar to the user. S this was my love broadcast; I would need to provide my own audience.  Many of my friends are not bloggers, let alone “live bloggers”, so I needed to go to them instead of asking them to come to me.  Before I committed Facebook Live, II tested the live feed from my classroom during my prep period last week.   I took a 15 sec video to see how it worked, followed the easy steps to go live and gave it a shot.  During that brief 15 sec video, in which I said nothing, I prefaced nothing, basically did nada and I had four viewers and three comments.  It was at this moment that I was pretty sure that this was the avenue that I was going to take.  Following the recommendation of my professor, I chose to advertise my live broadcast.  I sent out a Facebook invite as well as some text messages to people I knew.

In the moments before I went live, I had my seven year old come and perform a song for me.   I recorded it to make sure that my settings were working, audio and video.  I sent out a last minute reminder to a few people who asked as well as checking that the Facebook reminder was also set.   The only thing that I neglected to do was check the time on the Facebook Event invitation, I selected p.m. as the ending time, making my event 12 hours and 15 minutes instead of the 15 minutes I allotted.  Once we were good to go, we started.  The audible countdown was nice; it alerted me and the sous chefs.


The night before the broadcast, I cleaned up the parts of the house that would be visible live.  We look so festive and ready for the holidays, no one needed to know that Halloween decorations were behind the videographer.   I looked at a haunted house while my audience saw Christmas decorations!

I made sure that all of the materials that I needed were prepared and ready to go.   I had to make the decision to let the dogs roam (I did) or listen to them bark.  I set some ambiance- Christmas music in the background.  I did not account for the recording to take place on a weird AZ day where it is cloudy, then uber sunny and then cloudy again.   The lighting could have been better.  I was only able to watch the playback in bits and pieces as I really do not like seeing myself on film.  With some tweaks for the classroom, this technology has potential.


Here is a recorded copy of my Facebook Live broadcast.   It runs a little longer than the required 10 minutes (16:47).


This task did not make me feel like an old dog learning new tricks, I felt like a fish out of water.   I had so many plans, but my nerves got the better of me.   In my practice and planning, I was fine.   The reality of the live broadcast was different entirely.  I was planning on signing my broadcast as Deaf friends showed up; I even practiced ways to make sure that I did that.   I am a planner, ask the DJ at my wedding; he said that he had never been given a lesson plan before.   Live broadcasts require you to be quick on your feet.  I thought I was, I was wrong.  While I anticipated some of my Deaf friends who needed sign interpretation to join, I never expected them to be the first to show up.   Nor did I anticipate how AWFUL I am a simultaneous communication (speaking in one language and signing in another).  Since this was for a hearing professor with mostly hearing participants, I decided to stop signing, but I reached out immediately after to apologize.   Live broadcast are for sure something that needs to have an interpreter if more than one language is being used.   Another part that I would change is my videographer.    This was his first time on Facebook ever.  He is terrified of technology.  I thought that simply having him record and read posts would be simple, it was not.   He was fascinated with the idea of the live broadcast, the immediate postings and really, the floating emojis.  In the middle of the broadcast, he somehow paused it.  He panicked!  We were able to get back in seconds, but that is definitely something that I anticipated.  I thought I had covered it all, oops! On the positive side, many people were thrilled to see me and my kids.   I think in our short time live, we had over 22 participants and 47 comments. One thing that really drew me to Facebook Live was that several people said that they would not be able to make it, but they did.   As this live broadcast posts to friends Facebook automatically, several people, who did not want to schedule me in, actually were able to attend.

Long after the live broadcast ended, I was getting “likes” and comments.  I even got a private message from a high school friend who did not see the point of Facebook Live.  She joined our broadcast, my husband notified me and I looked up and said, “Hi Lauren, how is Baltimore?” and she was hooked.  She told me later in her message that it was pretty cool to know that she signed on and I responded immediately.  I see the potential for giving my students access to things that they never had access to before.   Not long after I finished my broadcast, a friend posted a live broadcast from Shailene Woodley, the actress protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The broadcast was interpreted.  I was thrilled as many of my friends and students are unaware of much that is happening as it is not often in ASL.    I re-posted.  I immediately saw that the person filming (I assume Shailene, I could be wrong) was panning the stage and leaving the interpreter out of much of the shots.   I posted and asked that the shots keep the interpreter in them to provide access.  The camera immediately stopped moving and the interpreter was never out of view again.   To me, that was the most powerful part of the day.   While involved in it, I was in the middle and only could see what was around me.  As an active participant, I saw the real possibilities, of collaboration and communication.   I am already looking to see how I can incorporate this into my classroom.   Although I was terrified and do not look forward to it again, unlike my 6 year old who wants to do a weekly show!) I see the power and potential in this type of broadcast.


Photo-A-Day Challenge

Describe the process you used to decide what to share, how you posted them online and your thoughts about the challenge itself.

I have tried the photo-a-day thing in the past and I have always crapped out about half way through.  I am not sure if it was because I do not like to be told what to do or I am just lazy, but I never finished. This time I chose the medium(s) and the topic.   I found myself more drawn to the idea of this project, well at least more than the Twitter-A-Thon that I was planning on doing (I am not comfortable responding to people I do not know, it is weird, but that was not happening!) but it was not in my skill set (yet).   As in the past, the photo-a-day projects I have attempted have had themes and I decided to go the route of Thanksgiving and “Reasons I am Thankful”.   I was originally going to post on Instagram, but struggled to understand how group the pictures all together under one URL.   Since I am investigating Twitter more and more for educational purposes, I decided to post on Twitter daily as well as my blog.  I found this challenge to be both frustrating and fun at the same time.  There were times I wanted to post several pictures and had to edit myself down to only one and there where times, I forgot to document my day and was running around in the afternoon trying to get it done.  I see the potential for education, especially in the realm of self editing.  A majority of my students will be attending a 5 day basketball tournament out of state.   I see this being something I challenge them with completing.

Here is a my Photo-A-Day Challenge




Intergrating Social Networking

Being a teacher takes much skill.   As a teacher, I need to address social/emotional needs while making sure that I am following standards.   Every year, I center a unit of study around Deaf Culture.   Last year, I discovered a novel that not only allowed me to cover reading and writing standards, it addressed the social/emotional needs of my students.   The novel, Wonderstruck, is now a fixed part of my curriculum. In short, the novel is the story of Rose, profoundly and culturally Deaf dealing with a hearing world while Ben is a hard of hearing boy who loses all hearing and needs to navigate the world as a new bilaterally deaf pre-teen.  Rose’s story is told in beautiful illustrations, while Ben’s story is told in traditional prose.   Even for those not working within Deaf culture, it is a book worth reading.

I have revised my unit plans to include the use of Twitter in the classroom as a writing tool.  Students will be asked to independently read chapters and take notes on Twitter (Twiducate is also an option), sharing ideas with one another.  Students will also be asked to respond to one another.  The notes are not only designed for student review, it helps as the class learns to navigate citation as well.  The unit plan including goals, objectives, instructions, and an evaluation rubric.  Here is a link to the Google Slide to my revised lesson plans for Wonderstruck including social networking.  There are several hyperlinks to guide you through student and teacher interactions.