Friday, October 23, 2009

Tracking Collaboration by Jared Mader and Ben Smith

In this article they focused on the integration of the NETS-S student standard in science teaching by looking at communication and collaboration. A decade ago, or lets just say a long time ago, in school you were usually assigned a pen pal that you could write to several times a year. Remember that? In our age, technology has opened the doors for many new ways for students to collaborate. The tools that allows this occur are; google docs, wikis, student e-mail, blogging, and chatting. If we as teachers are expecting the students to communicate about their work and collaborate with another, we need to assess how they can do it. With this tool, it offers the students to start their work at school and continue or finish their work at home or anywhere there is access to the Internet. With most of these technology tools, it requires you to submit a valid e-mail address or account which concerns some parents. Most schools will provide the student with an student e-mail address that is highly protected and with no personal information attached to it. One of the most common methods that we use as students is e-mail which is an effective way for students to send messages and work collaboratively. The only problem with this method, is the response time can take as long days and weeks. Because of this, most students have opted to use texting which is much faster and studies have shown that a large number so students have cell phones. I personally have not worked on wikis, but it supposedly offers students a different way to work on assignments and they may the most effective communication tool. Wiki spaces which is something that I personally have not tried offers a discussion board per page that allows students to discuss their work and gives the teacher an easy way to track discussions. In a class project, each group decided to use a different technology tool and each group was successful. The final project either resulted in a web page or suing their wikis as their final project. These technology tools led to skills that could translate a new way of working and will increase productivity. I really liked the last quote in the text, "By helping our students become more effective communicators, we are helping them grow into global contributors."

These technology tools are something that all teachers should incorporate into their curriculum. Not only does it allows students to become familiar with technology, it also gives the students a choice and freedom to use whichever technology tool they feel will work to their advantage and be more beneficial. After reading this article, i think i need to enhance my knowledge of certain technology tools like wikis and wiki spaces. I will take the articles word that they could perhaps be the best communicative technology toll but would like to know firsthand. With this in mind, as a teacher i must know how they operate and function as i will teach and assist my future students. As far as incorporating into my classroom, i think it would be very beneficial to have the students to a simple project with each of the technology tool and take a poll at the end of the year asking which one they liked the best or which one they felt was most beneficial and useful. I also liked the idea that the authors of this article which one is a physics teacher and the other is a director of technology that specifically states the benefits of texting. This is a highly debated topic where i can see and agree with the authors that there are specific benefits of texting especially in group settings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spicing Up Spanish Class by Cawood Cornelius and Terri Vest

This article provides a spiced up lesson that we can all use as teachers and throw out the old fashioned way of reporting on a different culture or country. This lesson engages first year Spanish language students in an in depth study of Spanish speaking countries. This article is supported by 21st century tools to get students excited about an assignment that traditionally is not exciting or intriguing. In most cases, the teacher instructs the students to gather facts about a culture and put together a report with images and a typed essay. With this project, the students will use online databases, graphic organizers, e-mail, wikis, PowerPoint, and photo story to give a 21st century spice to a country report. The Project consisted of one week in the media library center collecting information and the other week analyzing this information for a presentation. The students used a variety of different sources; books, references, sets, encyclopedias, Spanish language set, complete graphic organizer with an overview of the country. Something that I have never heard of, the students were each given an e-mail address through the ePALs program which is safe and protected. The students also created their own wiki using the online tool PB wiki. They were able to integrate print and online resources. During the second week, they had access to a mobile cart with wireless laptops from the library media center. They created a one power point slide with at least 5 images that represented that culture or country. With these images they wrote a script describing the countries in Spanish. Each student then gave a live presentation using a single power point slide and script. Through practicing their presentation orally, their Spanish skills improved dramatically. As an assessment standpoint, there was an evaluation of a two week project that the students created by ranking how involved and engaged they were. The creative students came up with a scale of grading using heat factors of peppers. This allowed them to get familiar with Spanish and Latin American cooking. A checklist was also used to evaluate each of the presentations. The scripts and images reflected the countries history, geography, economy, art, and also at least one notable person. With the presentations, the students were able to learn about one particular country and culture in depth while listening to others present on drastically different countries and cultures compared to yours.

I love this idea of spicing up the old way off reporting with the use of technology and computers. It allows reports to be more intriguing and exciting with images as well as video clips and sound. In my elementary school, we held a multicultural festival that taught the students about the different countries and cultures in our world. We performed dances of their culture and sang songs that were significant. When performing these songs and dances, we also took on the role by dressing up like that culture. I would definitely incorporate this lesson and project into my curriculum as it excites me just reading about it. I think i would add an extra element by having the students taste the foods of the different cultures and countries as well. One day or week would be designated to a particular country or culture. We would first learn about that culture then get into the hands on and fun stuff by listening to music, dancing, and tasting the scrumptious food. A lot of time and work is needed for this project but with the help from teachers and guidance from supporting staff will help make it run smoothly and very worthwhile!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Let it Snow! By Kathy Sanders and Gwen Pavelski

I was very intrigued while reading this article! It is amazing to think that this project was conducted by a group of second graders. For those of you who haven't read this particular article, a group of 19 second graders engaged in a collaborative project and displayed a partnership between their teacher and the library media specialist. This project came about when there was a record breaking snowfall in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. They researched a natural event in their community and met multiple learning goals in a new and authentic way. Throughout this project they met many of the NETS standards as well as Wisconsin's content standards. They were fascinated by the idea that they were witnessing and were participants in history by living through frequent and record breaking snowfalls. The students started off by researching and reading fiction and nonfiction books about snow to gain a general knowledge. From there they formulated questions and did research and experiments to answer these questions. With technology, they drew snowflakes using digital drawing tools and then compared theirs to that of an actual snow crystal. The next phase of this project was conducting interviews to hear from different perspectives. They interviewed the superintendent of the school, a local meteorologist, and a head custodian of what their job consisted of and how it is influenced by the weather. The students were able to connect what they had discovered in their own classroom to a larger scale with their community. The students created a web page to document their snow project with the use of digital photography, digital video interviews, a blog, computer art, and voice threads. It amazing to know that they also used spreadsheets and Internet searches that helped the students learn the importance of data collection. Shockingly, they found that the total snow depth was of that compared to two second graders standing on top each others shoulders. These visual representations is a good tactic and tool as the learners can see the snow totals in a concrete way. As far as assessing these students of their understanding, the teacher used rubrics and reflection narratives to test that. This activity and project reinforced multiple literacy's including visual, spatial, kinesthetic, reading, mathematical and expressive. Feedback from the students is of most importance and one students who completed this assignment commented that, "This was my best day of school ever".

I really enjoyed reading this article and kept questioning how old these students were. I am still shocked to know that these second graders were able to conduct all of these interviews and use specific technology tool that for I haven't even used. I am sure there was a lot of teamwork involved as well as assistance and guidance from both the teacher and the library media specialist. I think this would be a wonderful end of the year project that most students will always look forward to doing. After reading the article, I would allow 2-3 weeks to complete the given project as it involves a lot of time and effort on both the students and the teachers. It incorporates a wide array of technology tools and also multiple literacy's. This would be something that I would definitely use when becoming a teacher. You can even change the concept of snow to rain, tsunamis and so on. It all depends on your location and what is typical of these places so the students aren't shocked and unaware of what it consists of. This article provided snapshots of certain web pages created by the students but am curious to see the entire project. All in all, I am very impressed with these second graders and give the teacher and library media specialist praise for helping and guiding these students!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Digital Science Video Library by Camilla Gagliolo

This article introduces that the VLC or the Visual Learning Company has come out and launched a new digital video library for the use of integrating videos into science. They specifically talked about incorporating these videos into elementary and middle school classrooms. The library provides science videos that are formatted for the use of i-pods and other portable video players. The videos are high quality in a small file format so it won't require lots of time to download. With the use of i-pods it can be used alongside a projector in the classroom. These videos can be viewed as a whole or also as shorter content clips that pertain specifically to what you will be teaching. There is a range of topics available like; earth science, life science, and physical science for elementary school students. These videos also expand to middle school students with topics pertaining to health science and integrated science for middle school students. The great benefit of these videos is the inclusion of on screen quizzes and relevant vocabulary. One teacher mentioned that this was awesome as it provides clear and sharp video in a small file format that is ready to use immediately. These videos explain the basic scientific concepts while presenting vocabulary study with interactive activities. These videos have stepped up by incorporating real life connections to natural wonders and hard to grasp concepts. They include live action footage as well as computer animations to illustrate the concepts. The combination of these two types of graphics and videos with extensive teacher guides and interactive learning activities presents a learning kit that stimulates the multiple learning styles. It allows for individualized instruction as well as small group interaction and reinforcement. The question always arises of how much do these bad boys cost...and luckily this article informs us. The digital science video library can be purchased as a title for your entire school to all have access for $89.95. Not bad huh? I also found in the article that several of the videos are available in Spanish.

These types of videos I find to be very beneficial in incorporating into my classroom. All I can recall from Elementary School is watching the very old outdated videos that were very monotone and must have been made in the 80's or even earlier. They were known for putting students to sleep including myself. This reaches out to all students by having that option of subtitles and the option of getting it in Spanish. Aside from being revamped, they also have the capability of a quick load time, meaning that with a click of a button the video will start and will not require time and time to load. This technology tool can definitely enhance the learning environment as well as reach out to all different types of learners. Majority of our students today are visual learners and thus would benefit them greatly. I would do some more research on this Digital Science Video Library with the hope of seeing one of the videos alongside the interactive activities and on screen quizzes. I think it is something I would consider in using in my classroom. I am curious as to what other technology tools the Visual Learning Company has launched. All in all, I found this article very beneficial and informational in the sense of the introduction of the Digital Science Video Library.