Monday, February 23, 2009

Technology Product Review

Recently, the Peel District School Board (my employer) tendered an RFP for a new supplier of Document Cameras, a technology gaining rapidly in popularity in classrooms across the District. As a new member of the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher’s team, I was called to a meeting with the Purchasing Department and the Audio- Visual Technician’s team to compare the submitted Vendors’ products. This was an excellent experience since we were able to evaluate the two products, compare features side-by-side, and learn about the present and future capabilities of this technology.
The Avermedia CP300 Portable Document Camera is one in the latest iterations of document cameras that are finding there way into everyday educational practice in classrooms. I had the good fortune of having a dedicated document camera in my classroom linked to an LCD projector and a networked computer. This combination of technology tools at the focus of the classroom began a revolution in teaching that is beginning to transform teaching and learning in the Middle School classroom. I cannot imagine teaching without one now.
This product was recently reviewed by the Media Technologies team in the school district where I am employed, as part of an RFP. The previous product tendered for schools, manufactured by another vendor, was also upgraded and submitted for consideration. Testing by the Media team determined that the Avermedia product outperformed its competitor supplying a sharper image, more standard features, more portability and also included new, advanced features that lend itself to leading edge use in the classrooms of today, and tomorrow.
Some of the camera’s outstanding features include the ability to: capture any image, project live or captured images through an LCD projector or via the Internet, to project 3-D objects in fine detail and to project images from a microscope, and, to annotate, record video, or save the images to a computer, SD card or USB device.
Numerous examples of applications of the technology and its connection to globalized education are available. Capturing student work for display in and beyond the classroom, video capture of the steps in an multi-step lesson and using the video in your own class and beyond, sharing work in real time or at a later date between collaborative groups using the network feature. Students can easily use the document camera to capture series of stop-motion still images when making paper or claymation animations. An excellent guide called “One Hundred one ways k-12 teachers use Document cameras” can be found on the Internet and has been distributed to teachers who have a camera in their classroom. Other guides are available on the Internet s well.
The product chosen by the School District is the AverMedia AverVision CP300 Portable Document Camera. With its lightweight, portable design using a gooseneck camera mount makes it the perfect choice for classroom use. The image quality out-performs other makes. It has built -in LED lighting and patented laser guides, which allow for easy locating of the subject to be imaged. It comes with a remote, which allows the instructor to be anywhere in the room while using all the features of the camera. The product, as tendered to the School Board (for a significant quantity of product), is priced at $CDN 579, and retails through the US based AverMedia Online Store for $US 699 per unit.
The camera requires a 120 V AC power outlet and proximity to an LCD projector and computer, for network connections. It is a good thing to have a seat near the camera, as teachers and students will often sit at the camera while demonstrating. Students enjoy coming up to the camera to show their solutions to Mathematics problems and are even more motivated when the teacher captures the steps in their solution for replaying to the class, or other students. Imagine having a Problem Solving challenge each day between the class and another one in the school, in the District, or elsewhere, then sharing solutions with the camera. Being able to show local, as well as distant solutions allows all learners to observe the steps in a solution at their own pace. These captures can be used as examples and placed on the Internet for students to view at their leisure.
This technology is leading edge and is an easily justifiable expense when one considers the increased learning that it promotes within and beyond the classroom.


Avermedia Technologies (2008). AverVision Document Camera 2008 Product Catalog. Miliptas, California.

101 Ways K-12 Teachers Use Document Cameras. Retrieved February 11, 2009 from

Globalization Lesson Plans

Here are the 2 lesson plans I created for my "Using Technology to Support Creativity" course last week.

Glad to share with the class (and others)!

Lesson 1: Understanding Empathy (For Grades 7-9)

1. Introduction – Gaining Attention
a. Video Trailer from “Slumdog Millionaire”
i. Show clip after thinking about the question “Ignoring the controversies about realistic portrayal of the Mumbai slums, how did you feel about the main character and his childhood in the slum?”

2. Goals- to understand the meaning of “empathy” and to apply it to people of other cultural, linguistic or religious heritage.

3. Stimulate Prior Recall
a. Use Survey Monkey ( to respond anonymously to the following 4 question survey
i. Have you ever “become emotional” or cried while watching a movie? (Y/N)
ii. Have you seen the film “Slumdog Millionaire”? (Y/N)
iii. Did you “become emotional” or cry when you watched Slumdog Millionaire? (Y/N)
iv. If you answered Y to #3, in which scene did you cry? A) the scenes of the boys’ poor childhood B) the violence in the police interrogation C) the orphan boy being blinded D) the thought that the main characters would never be reunited? E) all of the above?
b. Complete the quiz and view the results on an LCD
c. Discuss the responses.
d. Discuss how the feelings created when we watch film or read books may be empathy
e. Discuss some of the elements in Mumbai culture that viewers may feel empathy towards
i. Poverty, living conditions, lack of education, inequality etc.

4. Present New Information – What is Empathy?
a. View Discovery Streaming Video Clip “What is Empathy?” (5 mins)
b. Discuss the scenarios and questions as presented in the Video Clip
c. Discuss and develop a working definition of Empathy
i. Encarta “em·pa·thy n
1. the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings or difficulties
2. the transfer of your own feelings and emotions to an object such as a painting
d. Compare Empathy and Sympathy
i. Use a Venn diagram on the LCD to brainstorm the difference

5. Provide Guided Learning Experience – Student Role Play
a. Students will create, in small groups, role plays which show, or do not show, empathy
b. Present to class, audience has to determine whether empathy was evident, or not, or if sympathy was evident

6. Independent / Group Learning Experience
a. Each group creates a portfolio of digital photographs which are freeze frames of empathy, with the emotion clear, project onto screen for class reactions
b. examples
i. a person speaking and a group listening intently
ii. a person upset and another being empathetic
iii. a person is happy and another is sharing the joy

7. Provide Feedback
a. Peers describe the emotion they think is being demonstrated and whether the others in the group are showing empathy

8. Assess Performance
a. Students write, create, perform and video a puppet show with Empathy as the focus

9. Enhance Retention and Transfer
a. Students will apply knowledge of Empathy to second lesson involving Emapthy beyond their own nationality, culture, language, religion etc.

Lesson Two: Practising Empathy

1. Introduction – Gaining Attention
a. Ask students if they are familiar with the Amish culture found in the USA and Canada
b. Students will view the Discovery Streaming Video “Amish Religion and Youth”
c. Discuss the differences in growing up as children and teens in Amish culture vs North American mainstream culture from the film or knowledge

2. Learner Outcomes
a. to recognize the elements of another culture and demonstrate empathy for children who live in other places and other cultures

3. Stimulate Prior Recall
a. View Slideshow of images of Amish culture
i. Horse, buggy
ii. Farming
iii. Clothing
iv. Hats
v. Bonnets
vi. Walking

b. Optional- View images of life in a totalitarian regime, eg. Nazi Germany

4. Present New Information
a. Introduce novel The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
b. Read aloud – read excerpts that demonstrate the difficulties of life growing up under a totalitarian regime
c. Students read and discuss novel and the elements of culture in the story that are similar/ different to their own
d. Make a Venn Diagram

5. Provide Guided Learning Experience
a. Students will conduct Research about Afghanistan or another culture using
i. Internet
ii. Books
iii. Atlas
iv. Interview a person from that country
b. View film or film segment
i. film title: “Obama”

6. Independent / Group Learning Experience
a. Students create a role plays
i. Interviewer and interviwee
ii. A dialogue that explores the focal points of the culture that was researched from the list below
1. Music, food, dance, religion, literature, film, government, history, etc.
iii. Video record and edit the interview
iv. Present to class

7. Provide Feedback
a. use peer and teacher evaluations of the performances using a rubric

8. Assess Performance
a. Students will create a mindmap using Inspiration or Smart Ideas which compares culture in mainstream North America, Amish, Afghanistan and other
i. Music, food, dance, religion, literature, film, government, history, etc.
ii. Links should explain how student feels about the similarities and differences between the cultures i.e. emapthy

9. Enhance Retention and Transfer
a. Students read a sequel or similar novel
i. Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis
ii. The Banana Tree by James Berry

Friday, February 13, 2009

OzFlix Flm Festival- Toronto- Feb 13-16

Nothing to do this family weekend? Why not attend a screening of an Australia Film? Some of the proceeds will go to the Australian Red Cross in support of the Bushfire Relief Fund.

Visit for more info.

Left-Brain vs. Right Brain- an inspirational Youtube Video

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Aussiest Bushfire Rescue Photo

Despite this encouraging photo, the loss of human life is truly staggering. Over 170 have lost their lives so far, and the toll continues to climb.

Those left behind will be adversely affected, both in loss of property, but also there will be deep psychological wounds too.

The link below has information for donating to the disaster victims.

Here is the video captured my the CFA Firefighters when they came across the Koala.