Friday, September 25, 2009

Children's Music Journey by Savilla Banister

In this article they introduce what CMJ is and how you can use this technology tool in your classroom. CMJ stands for Children's Music Journey which is a software collection that allows Kindergarten to fifth graders take beginning music lessons from the experts. The experts are famous composers from several centuries ago. The concept of this technology tool is that the students play on an instrument digital interface keyboard. Once they log in, the take lessons from all types of composers and get individual feedback as to whether they did a great job or could use some more practice. The great thing about this software, is that they incorporate a wide diverse group of composers ranging from all types of music. They also include women and minorities. The first lesson begins with the student listening to exercises by a specific composer and thus asks for specific student feedback. Next is the opportunity for the student to play along on the keyboard. This program encourages students to explore the curriculum through additional reinforcement venues. This software offers games, composition, improvisation exercises and a listening library. With the budget crisis we are facing right now, there is a chance that the teacher won't have access or the opportunity to purchase 20-30 keyboards. For this reason, they have created a teacher's manual that provides materials for face to face group activities that correlate with the software. Included with the software, there are student assessments checklists that provide a good method for tracking individual progress. I agree that Children's Music Journey software could be a great addition to elementary music instruction. I was very surprised to see that they included pricing for this software and actually is quite reasonable. $69.95 for single volume without keyboard $179.95 single volume with keyboard $174.85 box set (volumes 1-3) without keyboard $274.85 box set (volumes 1-3) with keyboard.

I find this software beneficial for all classroom teachers. Like I mentioned previously, we are facing a huge budget crisis and first things cut are our arts and music programs. We as teachers should be prepared to teach arts and music in our classroom since we don't get the pleasure and convenience of sending them to an art teacher or music teacher. I think it would be a good idea to purchase two keyboards and have the students rotate while giving the other students face to face lessons that are provided in the box set. I found the pricing of these technology tools very reasonable and something i would definitely consider in my budget when becoming a teacher. They didn't mention anything in the article about other instruments, but with further research I hope to find that out prior to purchasing or considering. I was really surprised to read that they actually took into consideration what composers they wanted to use. They wanted to show students that composers come from a variety of different places. I think it's awesome that they used women and also minorities. This software seems to offer so much and provides so much for the students. From a teachers standing point, I don't feel like it would be a difficult task to grasp and yet easy enough to inform the students on what to do. When students hear that they will be doing a lesson with technology, they are already excited and eager to get their hands on it. This works very good for the hands on learners like I am. Even in college, I find lessons more intriguing with the use of technology. Just think of how exciting this would be for an elementary school student.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Whiteboards Engage Autistic Students by Kathleen McClaskey and Randy Welch

In this article, it provided an insight into how autistic classrooms run and also how autistic students can learn more efficiently with the introduction of technology tools. This article focused on an interactive whiteboard that has the capability of training the students' attention. In a classroom where there are autistic children, you tend to see as many adults as there are children. The goal of these whiteboards are to increase group instruction with the hopes of proving that they were capable of social learning. They hoped that this increased group instruction and social learning would help these students develop communication skills. They introduced an experienced teacher that was hesitant about using this software but came to find that she was very enthusiastic and excited about the outcomes. She was surprised by how engaged her students were in creating a story using pictures. This interactive whiteboard allowed the teacher to access interactive sites to teach her daily math lessons. Using the whiteboard, she was able to incorporate pictures and images to her lesson plans that engaged and captured the students. Towards the end of the year, the students were so familiar with the interactive whiteboard that they knew specific tools and how to navigate interactive websites. With all of this said, the students engagement increased to 90 minutes in the morning and additional in the afternoon. Katie is a 12 year old girl who was diagnosed with multiple disabilities and a primary diagnosis of autism. She has shown aggression towards activities and lessons that she was not familiar with. With the use of ACT project (interactive whiteboard) she would wait to be called to do the whiteboard activities rather than get angry and throw a tantrum. Her ability to attend to lessons increased from 5 minutes to 45 minutes. Using the ACT toolkit allows teachers to create an environment where students with autism can become engaged in active learning.

As a future teacher, I find it very beneficial to learn more and utilize this ACT toolkit as this article suggests that it has helped many students. With the increase of class size and lack of budgets, we as teachers may be in a situation where some of your students will have some level of autism. I feel that this interactive whiteboard is beneficial for autism students as well as my other students. I personally am more engaged in a lesson where there are visuals that enhance the meaning and understanding. As far as interactive, this will engage everyone to a much higher level no matter if you have a disability or not. the shocking reports of these interactive whiteboards is quite astonishing and makes me want to research this more in depth. The only thing that was not mentioned in this article is the pricing. Without the funding and appropriate budgets, some teachers don't have the option or opportunity to purchase or even inquire about this technology tool. All in all, I found this article very beneficial and interesting. If given the opportunity and budget in my classroom, i would definitely do further research and possibly purchase this ACT toolkit when becoming a teacher.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Using the TPACK Framework: You Can Have Your Hot Tools and Teach with Them, Too

In this article by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler, it explains the actions we can take as teachers to implement technology or as students refer to them as "hot tools" as ways and techniques to help further our learning and understanding of concepts and ideas. As educators we should think in terms of using these tools to complement our ways of teaching. These technologies definitely have the potential to change our ways of teaching and learning. This article covered what technology means to each of us both back then, now and in the future. These tools that students are so intrigued by can be re purposed for educational purposes as well. We bring up this idea of re purposing but indeed it is not a simple task. The title of this article mentions the word or acronym TPACK. This simply can be broken to Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge. According to Shulman, "Quality teaching, Shulman argued, is the transformation of content and the act of teaching in a disciplined manner". pg 15 The question now lies of how we are able to re purpose technology? This article suggests that you must have the skills, competencies, and knowledge specified by the TPACK framework to successfully re purpose technology correctly and efficiently. Re purposing is only possible when the teacher knows the rules of the game and is fluent enough to know which rules can be bended, which to break and also which ones to just leave alone. The teacher must know the ins and outs of a specific technology tool to successfully re purpose it to educational standards. This article offers three examples of technology that can be re purposed; micro blogging, visual search engines, and music DJ software. It's quite amusing to find know that each of these technologies were set forth for entertainment but with the help from teachers, can be re purposed to educational needs. This article ends with a very powerful quote that I feel has the most meaning, "teachers need to develop a willingness to play with technologies and an opened to building new experiences for students so that fun, cool tools can be educational". pg 18

I feel technology has reached an all time peak and that while these students are so intrigued, we should re purpose these tools to be educational. When I was in elementary school, I had no computer at my house so when we went to the computer lab, I was excited and so intrigued to do math exercises on a tool that was so new to me. In one of my science classes her at CSUSM the professor used a technology tool that allowed the students to respond to answers via this tool. It escaped the routinely question and answer on a sheet of paper. It got the students engaged and wanting to learn and be taught. I do agree with the authors when they say that re purposing these technology tools can be very complicated but first as a teacher you must be willing to play and experiment. This isn't too much of a concern, as most teachers already own an ipod, iPhone, computers etc. Out of the three examples given in this article, I feel that I could use micro blogging. This would work great with group projects as the students can communicate with one another outside of the classroom setting. It's a complement to our face to face discussions. This would be very beneficial for the students who are too shy to speak up during class and can expand their minds through technology. Overall, re purposing technology would be highly beneficial to all students and teachers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Chatting It Up Online" Students Talk to a Favorite Author by Pamela Livingston

In this article it explains the many benefits that one can get by incorporating technology into the curriculum. One of the things it can provide, is the reaching beyond the four walls and bringing a unique and new learning experience to your students. This article further explains an online chat that was carried out and performed by Pamela herself and her classroom. They used an "author chat" that allowed the students to ask any questions they desired and get a direct and quick response from the actual author. This article offered many tips on how to prepare oneself for an online chat with your students. The first step in attempting to participate in an online chat, is to find the right chat for you and your students. This article used an "author chat" through the Random House Children's Media Group and Talk City. The next step is to register for the chat by providing information about your schools, students, Internet connection, etc. There is much time needed to prepare for this chat as you will need to; reserve a compute lab, check for firewalls, check your connection, notify and reserve a technical support staff member, check lighting, and lastly gathering questions that would be of most benefit for your students. These "author chats" provide a unique way of learning an adds another element to the students understanding. This article not only emphasized the students learning and understanding, but it also displayed the teamwork that was involved by the staff.

This article has definitely inspired me to wrap my hands around technology as a factor that can be applied to all aspects of teaching. As we have seen in this article, there is a great deal of teamwork involved and allows everyone to partake in their exercise. This article focused on the idea of chatting with an author, but in reality it can reach out to people in all other subject matters. For instance, it would be an awesome technology tool used in science as the scientists or whoever it may be, can carry out an experiment with detailed explanations and descriptions. Technology has really brought education to a much higher level of opportunities if one is wiling to attempt and learn. Not only do the students experience a unique way of learning, this article proved that this particular author offered great insights and recommendations to the students pertaining to love to read and opening the possibilities and opportunities to write books themselves. I for one, was not aware of these types of "author chats" but am willing to learn more and inform others as well. With this article in mind, i have come across many tips and recommendations that i have found very beneficial as i will become an elementary school teacher, Here are a few of the many tips given within the text; to prevent disappointment, don't tell your student's until you're really far along in the process, it is best to ask open ended questions that cannot be discovered through other sources, and always have a back up plan as technology does not always deliver what you want. Overall, this article has provided me with great knowledge of "chatting it up online" as well as using technology to enhance and provide my students with a unique experience of learning.

Standards: NETS4