Sunday, February 23, 2014

Journal Post #7, Chapter 7: Exploring Problem Solving with Software, Apps and Games


Focus Question: What are key debates about using computer games and simulations as learning resources?

Some educators are very open about using games and simulations in the classroom and understand that not only is it important to keep up with today’s technology, but also how differently students learn as time goes on.  Still, other educators hold fast to their archaic beliefs that technology has no place in the classroom.

GET WITH THE TIMES.  There is no other way to put it.  Decades ago, naysayers said that computers would never take off and there was no real need for them.  Now they are in just about every home, including those with low income because there are special programs to help families with school age children to get one (such as the One Laptop Per Child).  There is Wi-Fi almost everywhere you go and even our phones are capable of doing what most computers can.  Having technology in the classroom is not only a necessity but it is inevitable, so fighting it will only cause those students to be behind in today’s world.

There IS a balance of course. Learning tools like 4MALITY mentioned in our text are wonderful tools to help students learn.  Again, it is important to understand that not all students learn the same.  For Rosie in Chapter 7, the technology actually HELPED her to understand math AND like it, where classroom instruction had not.  There needs to be a balance of both and an understanding by teachers on what will work to engage their students.  If you are doing only one or the other (computer/game teaching or only classroom instruction) you are not only behind in the times, but you are keeping your students there as well.

 
 
Tech Tool 7.1

This section in Chapter 7 focuses on two websites (www.squeakland.org, and http://scratch.mit.edu) that help all grades with subjects like Math and Science and teach them to think for themselves using interactive games and Scratch even lets them make their own! 

I believe that in a lot of schools today, there is a lack of teaching students to be independent thinkers and problem solvers.  They are waiting for someone else to tell them how to think, how to come up with answers and how to come up with even more inquisitive questions to further their learning.  Without these skills, it is hard to function properly in most environments, much less our technology driven society today.  Websites and programs like the ones above help to teach students how to creatively come up with answers to problems.  This will further their decision making skills as well.


Summary & Connection

In Chapter 7 the elements of learning through software, gaming and inquiry based programs are discussed.  There are still a few stragglers in education who think that the classroom is no place for technology but for the most part, most educators realize its importance and see it as a great tool to help students learn and grow to be ready for today’s society, and the future one.

I thought it interesting that some of our modern educators (like Alfie Kohn mentioned in our text) still believe that children don’t learn with a rewards system.  I find that this is untrue on all levels.  I have 3 children, all 7 years apart and I myself am in college.  In all 3 of my children, I have seen them work harder and better when their teacher (and us as parents) offer rewards for learning and doing well.  It has been said they may learn enough to meet the goal but not retain it.  I actually have seen the opposite.  When there is a reward attached, all three of my children remember the material, the reward and how accomplished they felt years later.  In my own college courses, some of our teachers play “Jeopardy” to help the class prepare for the upcoming tests and give out 5 additional points to the winners.  Not only did the winners remember, but the ones who lost benefited from the game and NO ONE failed the test.  I don’t need statistics to show me what works in real life. I can SEE it.  In the following video, using rewards in one of the top 10 Classroom Management tips!



Resources:

Textbook - Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

2013 Edudemic (David Matheson 2013).  Technology Should: [photograph]. Retrieved from Web.
AmpliVox, Bob (Nov. 2011). Top 10 Proven Classroom Management Tips for Teachers [ www.youtube.com video]. Retrieved from Web.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Journal Post #6: Chapter 6, Fostering Online Learning with Educational Websites and Apps


Focus Question: What are the advantages and complexities of online leaning and virtual schools?

I understand the need for technology in the classroom.  I support it and plan to use it on a regular basis, and I believe it is a necessity for teachers to learn how to teach with technology and students to learn how to use it effectively with the growing use of it in the workforce.  I also am not against taking online classes or “blended” as it integrates both face-to-face and collaborative learning with technology.  However, I am totally against using ONLY online education to get any degree except in extreme cases (such as immobility causing it to be extremely difficult to get to a school). 

I have seen lots of children who have been home-schooled and 9 out of 10 have a lot of trouble communicating properly with other children their own age.  This may not be the case with all home-schooled children of course, and other factors will play a role, but in general, a student needs to learn and grow with children their own age.  This is ESSENTIAL to thriving in our society.  Staying at home has become a trend for a lot of parents who, instead of teaching their kids how to deal with difficult situations, have taken them out of the classroom to “protect them”.  This does not protect them.  It teaches them to run from their problems and when they enter the real world, they have no earthly idea how to handle a mean boss or co-worker or any real conflict in adulthood.

My daughter (now in her 1st year of college) wanted to quit regular school and take online classes because the kids at school were “totally immature” and aggravating and she didn’t like getting up so early for class.  We said NO WAY as she needed to learn to deal with people, the good and the bad, and that in the real world she would likely have to get up early and go to work.  Being in school teaches social skills and life lessons needed for adulthood.

Besides, a great education is done BOTH at school and at home.

 



Tech Tool 6.3

This section in Chapter 6 focuses on some websites and Apps that help students get technology based engagement in certain subject matter.  Websites such as ‘Mysteries of Catalhoyuk! An Archaeological Investigation’ allow students to learn about history from thousands of years ago by interacting with the site and getting the students interested in things like what people ate during that time.  Who doesn’t want to know what people ate for dinner 10,000 years ago?! 

My favorite site listed would have to be www.favoritepoem.org.  I plan to teach middle school English and I know children have a hard time trying to decipher the meaning of poems.  This site not only reads the poems aloud but has videos to help the student (or anyone interested) relate and understand what is being conveyed.  This will be an excellent tool and I have already added it to my Delicious account! 

My favorite poem by Robert Frost is "OUT, OUT”.  I first read it in high school when my English teacher took me aside (I was having difficulty with the poetry section we were on and was getting frustrated) and said the poem reminded her of me, not because of the working boy who dies, but because of the loss of his childhood, even before his death.  It took a few times of reading it before I understood its meaning and then when I did, WOW could I relate as I lost my childhood at a very young age and never got it back.  I had to grow up way too soon.  I will never forget that teacher and what she saw in me without me speaking of it, and her taking an interest in me and getting me to actually like exploring the meaning of things in more depth.



Summary & Connection

Chapter 6 in our book discusses information management and how important it is to use not only technology, but different ways to organize what you use and how you use it.  Social networking and social bookmarking have become very useful tools in effectively using technology in teaching and reaching out to others who are knowledgeable in certain areas to gain more insight and information to use.  And who knows, maybe one day a new teacher will be using information I have gathered and found effective. 

This chapter also discusses homeschool vs. public school education and what advocates and critics both feel is right for the students.  I do feel it is every parent’s choice to make, but as I stated above, I believe students benefit more from being around and learning to deal with their peers and the adults around them.  I do also feel that taking some online classes or courses is beneficial to all students as well to prepare them for college and for the work force.


Resources:

Textbook - Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

The Favorite Poem Project. "OUT, OUT—” by Robert Frost , read by Elizabeth Wojtusik [video: produced by Natatcha Est├ębanez]. Retrieved from Web.

Hogan, Chrystal. Feb 2014. ‘Pros & Con’s’ [photograph].

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Journal Post #5: Chapter 5: Teaching Information Literacy and Digital Citizenship

Focus Question: How should teachers respond to problems of plagiarism when students use online sources?
Things have not changed much in the area of cheating and plagiarism since before computers.  There are students who just refuse to actually do the work involved in turning in a truly authentic paper and actually being proud of the work they did and the grade they receive.  At the start of the new computer age, James McKenzie saw this as being a problem and developed seven ways to help stop it:
1.  Distinguish levels or types of research (this helps to make sure they have to site from more than one type of outlet, like one on-line, one periodical, etc.)
2.  Discourage Trivial Pursuits
3.  Emphasis essential questions
4.   Require and enable students to construct answers
5.  Focus on information storage systems
6.  Stress citation ethics
7.  Assess students progress throughout the entire research process
I believe that the two most important ones from above are to teach students what plagiarism and cheat are and showing them examples of just what counts, and to follow the work from the beginning.  One of my old teachers required a few rough drafts just for the sole purpose of making sure we were not plagiarising.  Following their work and making sure they understand what constitutes as cheating and plagiarism will help students learn to do their own work, think critically for themselves and to research and cite properly.
Tech Tool 5.1
These day there are websites for everything and pictures and audio are one of the easiest things to find.  Tech Tool 5.1 gives three more examples, Flickr, LibriVox and Creative Commons.  I have heard of and viewed Flickr before but had not thought of using it as an educational tool, but it makes sense.  Students love to look at pictures and it helps them relate visually to what topic they are discussing.  LibriVox was pretty awesome as well, to be able to listen to books and poems (such as poems by Robert Frost) would be very beneficial to me as I plan to teach middle school English. 



Summary & Connection
Chapter 5 in our book discusses the Internet and how easy it is to obtain a plethora of information and how easy it is to use it incorrectly and/or cheat.  It is even more important today with students finding information online so quickly, to teach them how to use it, how to look for correct material and how to look at it objectively to see how it can be used.  Teachers have to know themselves and then teach their students what cheating actually is and how to avoid it and come up with assignments that make it hard for them to cheat AND make them think more in depth on the subject matter.
I had a friend in my first semester of college right out of high school who thought she could use her OWN paper from the prior year to turn in as new in her first college English class.  I tried to tell her and told her to look it up because I was sure you couldn't do that, but she blew it off.  Little did she know, the prior teacher had uploaded it onto a service for plagiarism and she was caught.  She was expelled from school.  She did not understand that she could not use her own old paper for a new class.  She did not know this because she was never taught.  If we start out teaching our students what it is & give examples before starting research projects, then they have no excuse in our class. 

 
Resources:
Textbook - Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Jones, Leslie. (1934 - 1956 (approximate).  Robert Frost [Photograph]. Retrieved from Web.
Waltercroft1, “Funny Classic informative Plagiarism video". June 2010. Retrieved from Web.
 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Journal Post #4: Designing Lessons and Developing Curriculum with Technology


Focus Question: How can teachers use technology to make decisions about meeting educational standards in their lesson plans?

Teachers have to make a lot of decisions when it comes to hat hey teach their students.  There are national and local standards that are used in determining what areas need to be taught and this can be obtained online on the websites for each.  Being able to look up national standards for example would be a great help in deciding how far you want to go with a lesson and the sites for these standards even offer example lesson plans.  This would help tremendously and make it a LOT faster than trying to read them from books or periodicals.  There are also sites for lesson planning available that even give you tips on how to teach the lessons using various forms of technology such as Keyote.

Tech Tool 4.3

The websites and apps described in Tech Tools 4.3 all seem to be designed to make a teachers life so much easier and make him/her more efficient.  Android for Academics has five different apps that can help such as Grade Book for Professors.  You can have a pin-protected one-stop place to put in and update your student’s grades and have the correct one at any given moment.  I like a lot of these sites and apps, but there seems to be one for this and one for that.  Being able to have a gradebook and attendance records and rubric help all in one spot would be ideal for me.

Summary & Connection

Chapter 4 goes over lesson planning and all the help that is available for teachers online with many programs and apps to develop what they needs for national, state and local standards.  It amazes me how far we have come.  Years ago none of this was available and teachers had to do a lot of busy work to get the information they needed.  Now it is at their fingertips in a flash!

The part of this Chapter I found most interesting was learning about assessments of students and how testing regularly can show a teacher what needs to be worked on and what doesn’t throughout the year.  I see my son getting reports from assessment tests and can see his progress from beginning to end.  There are different ways teachers and schools do this, but the bottom line is that they are a very important and useful tool for both teachers and students.


Resources:

Textbook - Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2013). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Academy Geeks Inc. (2010). Android for Academics. [Picture]. Retrieved from http://androidforacademics.com/.

Academy Geeks Inc. (2010). Android for Academics. [Video]. Retrieved from http://androidforacademics.com/2011/01/attendance-app-video-demo/.