27

Mar

by jwomack

I have heard of Second Life before, but I never knew that it could be used for more than just a fantasy world.  My initial impression from the limited information I had was that it was a place for people to be what they wanted to be in a Sim City like environment.  They could then play around all day acting out things that they would never be able to do in real life.  It was very interesting to see an educational use for this environment and I believe that this sort of thing could actually be very beneficial for certain learners.  Students who are shyer and fear being called in class could be the ones to flourish in this online environment.  Students could create their own avatars and find their voice through the online environment.  I also see the benefit of using Second Life as another tool to meet with other teachers to collaborate.  If I was looking for ways to branch my class out to other areas of the world this would be an easy way to do that.  My class could connect with another class from another part of the country, or maybe even the other side of the world.  The TED presentation with the smart technology was impressive.  Hopefully there is a way to mass produce this idea because it is something that will open a lot of doors for teachers and students.  Giving the teachers this device allows them to be more mobile and interactive.  Instead of students staring at the board all day the teacher can move around the room and project the information on any surface.  This allows a creative element for the teacher and gives the students the opportunity to move around as they follow the teacher’s lesson.  If the students were able to have these even more interaction could take place.  Student groups could go out to collect data and bring it in immediately and present it to the class.  Utilizing cell phones is also great.  Students have them already so why not use them for educational purposes.  I know of programs where students can do question responses by texting in.  This would be a great tool to get everyone participating because it is anonymous.

All of these online tools give us teachers a fertile ground to stand on and engage our students in thinking and learning.  We still have to monitor this thinking through assessments.  Assessing where our students are is essential to make sure the way we are teaching them is getting through to them.  The key is making sure we incorporate assessments throughout the units we are teaching (Coffman p. 142, 2013).  As teachers I think sometimes we do not think of the smaller things we do like small group work or sharing strategies as a way of assessing our students.  We are working to get our students to think outside of the box.  It is imperative that we continuously check to make sure students our on the right track.  If we are able to see through the sharing of strategies that some students are missing the concepts being taught then we are able to adjust the teaching to better fit our students.  I believe sometimes as teachers we have created a lesson plan for a unit and we do not deviate from this plan.  You may take things slower, but we do not think creatively as in “I need to adjust the way I am presenting information”.

Students need to think to learn and we need to monitor this thinking.  If it is not happening or concepts are not being retained then we must move to adjust our teaching to accommodate our students.

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

23

Mar

by jwomack

Just when I think I am getting the hang of all the new tools on the internet Dr. Coffman provides us with more tools that make me feel like a novice.  Don’t get me wrong all the tools that we are learning are great and I plan to use many of them as I move forward as a teacher.  After last week and working with those tools I felt as though I was beginning to get a grasp on all this new technology.  Then came this week and again I am left trying to catch up with great tools that seem like I need a class just to use them.  This week’s projects definitely are more involved, but they are just as useful as last weeks.  As a first year teacher it has been a lot to begin teaching as well as continue finishing my education.  I have felt a lot of stress and I have dealt with many afternoons of self-doubt.  Is this right for me?  Do I REALLY want to do this?  Only after clicking on my computer and checking out my online classes and the plethora of useful information do I feel better.  I think as a first year teacher you can be overwhelmed easily.  School is not what it was when I was going through middle school.  It is an ever evolving system and if you do not understand that you will be thoroughly shocked as I was.  We have to get out of our antiquated mindsets of how things WERE and adapt to how things ARE.  Attention spans are shortened, and students need information that grabs them.  As new and reformed teachers we must work to make our lessons interesting and not just the old notes, classwork, homework that we are used to.  I guarantee if you do not have your students moving around or interacting in some creative way you are going to have long days trying to maintain your student’s attention.

With regards to the projects we looked at this week, I feel the best way to go about implementing these would be through large class workshops.  Reading through many of the projects it seemed like two key components to most of them were research and time.  With this in mind I thought the best way to introduce this would be through class workshops of relevant material.  Making the Google Trek or Fusion apart of daily routine would work perfectly for getting the information and know how to my students.  As a class we could work together on the larger scale of how to operate these new tools.  I could then assign more specific aspects of each such as researching a specific place as homework to my students.  I could also do this in the form of smaller groups.  As the year goes on the students would hopefully be more comfortable with the tools and better prepared to work with them on a larger scale on their own.  At first glance these projects can seem like a lot of work, but with great lesson planning and practice I can see these projects being great mainstays in classrooms leading the way for focused learning.

15

Mar

by jwomack

The mini projects I learned about this week are technology gold.  As I moved from one project to the next they seemed to get better and better.  These types of projects are what keep students interested in learning.  I believe that it also allows our students to take ownership of their work and be more creative.  I really enjoyed Dr. Coffman writing about Tellecollaboration.  Being able to create information using the internet in a collaborative setting and then being able to collaborate with classrooms around the world is an amazing tool.  Using this new technology to keep our students focused on “big idea” questions is essential to strengthening their minds (Coffman p. 104, 2013).  I also like that with each project they lend themselves to different types of learners.  You have those students who are visual who can work with things like Wordle to help see a bigger picture.  For those students who are more auditory a teacher could record their lessons and make it available to that student to hear the information.  The projects also allow the students to work at their own pace and leave room for them to make mistakes.  Mistakes are sometimes more important to help students build the processes to maneuver what went wrong in order to fix the problem.  With all the projects I see opportunities to keep my students focused and caring about what they are learning.  I see a future classroom where I will not have to constantly ask a student to pay attention because their focus will be on the work through the interactive technology.

In my future classrooms I will definitely try to incorporate many of these tools to keep my students interested.  I work with students who have special needs and it is especially important to keep them focused.  Most of the time my students already want to be on the computer so using these projects would be a great advantage.  I also see these projects as a way for my students to experience a world outside of just their school or town.  My eventual goal would be for my students to put together some projects using these tools and creating a website for the class.  I would then love to be able to collaborate with another class somewhere in the world.  We could trade websites and learn about each other’s cultures.  My students see things differently and being able to present information in a picture where they can see main points could help them focus on what is really important.  Having lessons recorded so students can listen or watch while at home would be a great asset.  Many times I have students who say their parents do not know how to do their homework and that unfortunately is the case in some homes.  Being able to provide a tool for my students at home so they can still practice at home would change the way my students are able to learn.

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

2

Mar

by jwomack

New ways to keep our kids interested in learning continue to pop up.  It amazes me at how many programs there are that help make learning interesting.  Yet, I believe most teachers do not take the time to explore these new options that could keep their students tuned in a bit longer.  Having students use fun concept maps with Inspiration, or sharing information through Wallwisher are both amazing ways of making learning and studying fun.  I like the idea of posing open ended questions to students to spark their thought as it relates to web inquiry (Coffman p. 84-85, 2013) .  Allowing the students to explore different possibilities to problems is a necessity.  In this day in age I feel that students are too limited in how they answer things.  Students are required more often than not to provide one specific answer.  There is not much focus on how students got the answer and unfortunately I believe the how is much more beneficial than the actual answer.  Students struggle with needing to find the correct answer because they are taught how to answer questions and not how to THINK and answer questions.  I cannot tell you how many times in a day a student asks me how to do something and has not even started the problem.  The focus must be moved to the thinking and not answering the question.  With inquiry comes an opening of the mind that will hopefully lead to correct answers.

I found Wallwisher to be a great tool.  I started mine on special education tips and I hope to gain a lot of useful notes from it.

http://padlet.com/wall/SpEd-ideas

This is a great tool to use to guide students in online research.  It gives them a fun way to organize the information they find and then share it with others.  It also opens up the door to make their search for information much easier with many helpful notes already posted on certain walls.  You could easily have your students each find information on specific topics and then present their information to the rest of the class.  You could also do a popcorn exercise.  If you were in civics you could have students each go through certain terms to find information on each.  It would also be a great tool to monitor students and how they are planning or organizing thoughts on a subject.  The teacher could edit or add comments and helpful links if the student is struggling.  This tool also allows for differentiation with student pace.  There are many options to explore and it makes research easy and fun.  It could also be a way for students to take notes and link to teacher’s PowerPoint’s.  Students could constantly reference this page to get a quick look at everything they have done in the class.  It would also provide the students with a great study tool.  Students are bored and it is important to utilize as many great resources as possible.

 

 

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

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