I know of two or three schools in the area around my home that are utilizing online classes for students. Do you think this is the direction we are headed in, or do you think that there will always be a market for physical school locations? Please share!
About a year ago, I attended a technology conference at Motlow Community College in Tullahoma, Tennessee. It was a wonderful experience due to the plethora of information and cool sites to take home and use in our own classrooms. One of these resources, I share with you now. A lot of times when we think about discussion in our classrooms, we cringe and try to come up with relevant topics. But what if you didn’t have to? After attending the conference, the Social Studies teacher down my hallway began using one of the sites I picked up as a writing prompt warm up periodically. The page is called The Big Picture and it’s on the Boston.com website, home of the Boston Globe. Instead of having her students read current events, she would have them look at a picture from the news of the week, read the caption and write a response. For visual people, like myself, this is a great way to connect with a story instead of just reading text on a page.
It is a great way for students to respond to media, make inferences about the events in the pictures and the emotions portrayed. In the middle school setting, these are all skills that they are tested on during the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). For the Social Studies teacher in my hallway, this was a quick and easy warm that usually lead to great conversations about politics, culture, and personal motivation, all of which needed to be addressed in her state benchmarks. The great thing about this site is that a picture can literally paint a thousand words, or in this case, produce a thousand different ways in which to use it in your classroom. Images can capture imagination and attention, both of which we struggle to keep on a daily basis. Try it!
Recently, I posted about the benefits of Prezi.com as opposed to just using PowerPoint. Here is a short video that showcases how to make a simple presentation. Enjoy!
Can’t believe that she is able to do this with such young students! I’m impressed!
Why I love it:
*Extremely User-Friendly – Can be taught in 1-2 class periods depending upon the level of student you have
*Easily able to embed videos from Youtube, websites, pictures
*Can save their projects on the actual website instead of going through the hassle of downloading and hoping your computer is compatible
*Students can create pathways that are multidirectional and can take the shape of anything they can imagine, instead of the overused transitions from slide to slide in PowerPoint.
*Students can use shapes and colors to show relationships between key ideas
*Critical thinking skills must be used instead of just simply copying and pasting words into a slide.
*More time is spent creating and less time asking the teacher for the 40th time: “What is the minimum number of slides I have to have?!”
Okay, so not to sound like “that old guy in the corner talking about those darn kids” but I am so starting to sound like “that old guy in the corner talking about those darn kids”. Generational differences have always been a heated topic. But this semester, my beliefs have been pushed to the limits with the generational differences between two groups that were discussed in prior readings: Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. The more time that I have had to think about this, the more that I know that I am unsure of what my real opinion is.
First, I’ll preface this entire thing by saying that I truly believe that there is such a group as Digital Immigrants. It is apparent just from my own relative experience with older family members and working with the elderly during the summers. It is uncharted territory for them. As far as teaching goes, this rings true. In each building that I worked in, there were always the old guys/ girls that never checked email, still used old overhead projectors and lectured straight from the text. These individuals are indeed, digital immigrants. Some of them trying to learn the new language of technology while others simply could care less. It is infuriating and frustrating on all accounts.
Then there is the idea of a Digital Native, or the new generation of learners. Prensky (2001) stated that Digital Natives have been “networked most or all of their lives”. This is why they expect things to be given to them. They hook up to a source and the information flows freely. There may not be a lot of information that links Digital Natives’ learning patterns quite yet or the way in which their brains function, but I would like to think that these studies are being done and the results will astound us all. I think that the idea of the Digital Native is sound but only based on the idea that “they’re used to receiving information very fast” (Prensky 2001). I think it would be better to say that they are extreme multi-taskers. They have learned to do three things at once. Does that mean that they can do all three things with expertise and precision? Absolutely not.
I mean, let’s call this what it is: Multiple Intelligences. It’s the same thing that our professors preached to us in our educational training. You have to plan lessons so that you are reaching all different types of students (i.e kinesthetic, spatial, etc.). Kids have more technology, this is true. They are better at using it because they have had prolonged exposure. But there needs to be a happy medium. Dictating that every teacher uses as much technology as possible for the sheer sake of speaking the same language as the children, takes us back to other issues of just using technology to use it, without any purpose. Technology should have purpose. I don’t deny that technology can connect teachers and students, but I think that technology without a goal is like a foreigner in a strange new city without a translator.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved fromhttp://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
As a middle school classroom teacher and coordinator for a district-wide school initiative program, I am always looking for technology options that are user friendly and can make presentations for both classrooms and workshops more professional in appearance and content. Currently, in my classroom I utilize a projector every day for teaching with PPT presentations. I often embed links from You Tube or School Tube and to emphasis specific teaching points and love the option using on-the-spot search engines when questions are raised and we need an immediate answer. Additionally, I am required to keep a classroom website updated on a weekly basis for students as well as their parents. My students love using technology; many are fortunate enough to have either a laptop or smartphone to use at home for either presentations or research options. We have the use of pc’s or mini notebooks in our building. Students are familiar with the use of PPT, Prezi’s , Moodle, and movie maker and are each given a school email account that they use to communicate with their teachers.
Some teachers in our building are using blogs to give students the opportunity to discuss, reflect or summarize. A few years ago, when nonfiction teaching strategies became more of a push in our curriculum, our department utilized an online newspaper, www.tweentribune.com, for students to read and then summarize using their own username and password. I had to set up an account for each class period, and then had to read student responses before they were posted. It became very cumbersome and we have not used it again. I do have the option of a classroom blog on my website, but have not utilized it yet. I like the option of reading student responses before they are uploaded, however, with 135+ students I’m looking for an easier way to do this.
Sue Wilson, Middle School Educator (11 years) and District Coordinator for the Academic Service Learning program at the Clarkston Community School District in Clarkston, Michigan.
Recently, I was online shopping for a new Ipad and came across this article by Christopher Mims of Technology Review. I thought it was particularly interesting because my husband and I have had similar concerns arise with some of the technology that we have obtained in the past five years as well. To begin with, my mother in law has a laptop, not a very practical or up to date one, but nonetheless a run of the mill average laptop. She hated it. So, when we bought our newest Macbook, we gave her our old Ipad (1 year old). Never having had an Ipad or anything apple, she loved the easy to operate system with touch screen. She felt it was very user friendly and in less than a year she had a lot of the shortcuts figured out and was a pro in her own right. However, when the new Kindles came out, despite the fact that she had ibooks on her Ipad, she felt the need to have a Kindle too.
The reason for this is what I think Mims was really getting at. Although we are very happy with our Ipads, there are some apps that are better on other devices. Ibooks is a nice application, but on a Kindle, it is easier to hold and it has a new light up screen that makes reading at night easier. Ipad’s screen lights up but it is a little bulkier to hang on to. Now, that being said there are accessories for the Ipad that make it easier to hold, a leather cover that holds like a book but again it still weighs more than your average Kindle. I think that until they come out with a lighter Ipad, the portable readers will continue to sell big.
The author did make several points about the applications of our Ipads and Tablets and I think that I can only really speak from my own experience. On the Ipad, I never had apps quit or fail to open or upload viruses to my device. However, I think it needs to be said that my husband worked at Verizon and he was very quick to say that the Tablets that are offered are far from reaching the potential of the Ipad based on the inefficiency of the apps. He said that the apps quit frequently and there are numerous bugs that still need to be worked out. That being said, right now I have an iphone and my Facebook app will malfunction on a daily basis. I think overall that the operating systems may need to be updated but mostly the apps need to be fixed to work with both operating systems, which I know is probably still in the near future. I think the apps are more of the problem than the devices themselves.
Would you agree? Or do you think the flaws lay more in the operating devices themselves?
Recently, I read “Inclusion in the 21st-century classroom: Differentiating with Technology”, by Bobby Hobgood and Lauren Ormsby. First, the article discussed the use of technology with inclusion students through the use of various digital storytelling, blogs, digital textbooks, moodles, blackboards, and Discovery Education videos, as well as many other resources. Second, Hobgood and Ormsby discussed the elements of good differentiated teaching and how technology can be integrated into it. Then they discussed how different grouping scenarios are most effectively used with technology.
In my own experience, there are many factors to take into account in the inclusion classroom, especially with technology. Usability, readability, behavior and motivation are all factors that I have had to deal with when taking one of my inclusion classes to the computer lab. In inclusion, differentiation is essential, and I will admit that it is has been difficult trying to do this on a paper/book basis. The article makes a good case for using technology to differentiate curriculum.
My questions come from the lack of age group placed on this topic. Is there an age group of an inclusion class that this might be more effective in than others? Are there some inclusion students that that wouldn’t benefit from this?