Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tool # 11: Assessing and Reflecting

The favorite tools that I new have in my personal technology box are Edmodo and Storybird. A particular activity that I will plan for my students using Storybird would be an interdisciplinary assignment incorporating Math and Language Arts together. They would create a picture storybook involving a particular mathematical concept that they would want to teach others. 

I have transformed my thinking about the learning that will take place in my classroom by realizing even more so now that learning is dynamic and ever changing. My vision has changed with the realization that I need to keep up with the technological changes and advancements. There is a vast amount of  technological resources that exist and I want to make sure I have access to them for my students.

An unexpected outcome from this program that surprised me is how many available technological resources are out there. It can be a bit daunting because they are so numerous, but it's exciting as well knowing that we have so much available to is. This wasn't always the case in the past. We, as 21st Century educators, are very fortunate.

Tool # 10: Digital Citizenship

Three things that I would want to make sure my students understand about being good digital citizens are the following:

1.) That they should not disclose any personal information about themselves to others online nor should they post any personal information about themselves on social networking sights.

2.) They are using these tools for educational purposes solely and, therefore, should behave online as they would behave in the classroom.

3.) What they put online is out there, possibly for good, and this may very well impact their future.

One of the resources that I would use to teach digital citizenship is Dizigen. I would create an interactive WebQuest that would require they watch videos and answer reflection questions based on the videos. I might also have them create their own presentations to present to the class.

I would share the idea of digital citizenship with parents by sending an informative letter home to be signed by parents. The letter would summarize the importance of internet safety for children.

Tool # 9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

It is important to tie technology to the objective because students are already technologically savvy. Technology holds their interest and, because it is already an important part of their daily lives, it can be used to engage and motivate them in the classroom.

We should hold students accountable for the stations/centers because part of their future success in the real world is tied in with their ability to collaborate and work well with others. They need to understand that effort and hard work pays off and that they need to be interactive learners rather than passive learners.

Two interactive websites that I found interesting are TenMarks and Learning Games for Kids.
Ten Marks personalizes instruction by helping individual students work on their own areas of need
with regard to math outside of the classroom. Teachers can make tutorials to help struggling students and students can view these tutorials when they are at home, when it is most convenient for them. Learning Games for Kids helps struggling students as well by providing the necessary reinforcement they may need but in a math game format. Math games are a great way to help alleviate the frustrations that some students may experience when learning new mathematical concepts. I also liked that it showcases games for all different subject matters.

Two apps that I liked for math are Brain Thaw and Equivalent Fractions. For Brain Thaw each level has a different mathematical rule that must be followed correctly in order to advance. For equivalent fractions students can create fractions by shading squares or circles. This app is appealing as it is geared for visual learners.

I could hold my students accountable for their time in these stations by making sure that they are completing either a worksheet that is related or by having them complete a reflection piece pertaining to that particular station. Having a rubric which clearly outlines expectations for the assignment is important as well. 

Other ways to use the iPod Touch or iPad is to use it for presentations. I can see them using the device in a station in order to demonstrate mastery of a particular math problem by creating their own student tutorials. As I mentioned in my previous blog, if they can teach it, then it stands to reason that they know it!

Tool # 8: Taking a Look at the Tools

Two to three things that I learned about the devices coming into my classroom are the following:

  • The description of  features/parts of the Dell Netbooks and where these features/parts are located.  
  • How to set up an iTunes account for iPads.
  • Suggestions for classroom management procedures to follow when students are working with technology. 

I plan to manage the devices in my classroom by publishing a clear set of expectations or rules that students need to follow in order to use technology. I also plan on following the suggestion of having instructions posted by computer stations for assignments that involve a series of complex steps. Many times, off task behavior occurs when students aren't clear as to what they should be doing. Overall, being proactive by educating students in advance of proper technological procedures and carefully monitoring their use of  Netbooks/iPads will help ensure that activities are running smoothly and that students are on task.

Tool # 7: Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

An objective that I might want to teach would be for the upcoming year would be a collaborative project in math that involves students from the higher grade levels presenting lessons/tutorials for students in the grade level that they themselves had been in the year before. Students in the higher grade levels can serve as mentors by teaching and by providing insightful tips on how to overcome those areas of difficulty they experienced themselves.

One example of an objective that could be taught is how to properly plug in values for formulas involving measurement. Identifying the areas of difficulty such as remembering that B in the volume formula stands for area of whatever that particular base is versus lowercase b which stands for the side of a shape or figure is one area that older students can address and teach to younger students. I noticed many students had difficulty remembering what the variables in a particular formula meant. Students learning from their peers might be more engaged and motivated as they are getting more of the "inside scoop" on how to solve difficult problems. Students could utilize iTeach on iPads to prepare lessons/tutorials for younger students. What is also beneficial is that it is reinforcing the learning in the older students as well because they have to actually know it in order to teach it. :)

Tool # 6: Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

The first Web 2.0 tool that I chose to review is Edmodo. Our school district has an account with Edmodo and it is a resource that is used by many teachers in the district. Edmodo has many great features which make it appealing for educators. One is that it allows for the continuation of class discussions outside of the classroom. Lively debates or discussions are no longer constrained by time restraints of a 44 minute class period.  It  also can be used for online assignments and is environmentally appealing because it is paperless. Overall, it is a great tool to utilize because it promotes collaboration between students and teachers. Giving students the ability to hone their speaking skills is essential for their  future success outside of the classroom.

The next Web 2.0 tool that I chose to review was Padlet (formerly Wallwisher). I was intrigued by the name Wallwisher, so I wanted to see exactly what it was about. People can post their thoughts on a particular topic and upload content such as pictures, videos, and documents for others to view. Like Edmodo, it allows for the sharing and collaboration of ideas. Both tools are beneficial because they promote the ability for students and teachers to explore topics in greater depth.

Tool # 5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

The first web based tool I decided to try was Animoto. I signed up for an account and started my exploration of the site. I liked that it was extremely user friendly, but the free access option unfortunately did not allow for the creation of a video over 30 seconds. Nonetheless, the next pricing option available was reasonably priced and cost only $30 per year. With this package, students can create more in-depth videos for presentations since the time limit was up to ten minutes.

Because I am inspired by art and literature, I chose Storybird for as my next avenue of exploration. This particular site is wonderful because it taps into a person's creative side. I found myself reading many of the story books created, and could not help but think about how much I would love to use this in my classroom. Let's face it, students love to create and this site gives them the opportunity to do so. :)