How am I graduating in six days??

DiscussionImageFinal

Well its finally May 1, and we made it! Congratulations to all my fellow seniors on graduating and making it through student teaching!!

Graduation aside, I think in reflecting on this course, I can see that I have made a large amount of growth in my attitudes towards and comfort with educational technology.  Before this course, I saw it the way that many of the other teachers at my school viewed it, as a substitute for traditional pen and paper work, that was now to be done on a tablet or computer.  While that is fine if that is how you want to run your classroom, I have discovered that it is much more my style and my preference to have the students guiding the learning with the technology being the avenue through which they make discoveries, rather than me leading the instruction and them doing work on the computer.

I think I also gained more resources that I can pull into my practice going forward, and it has helped me feel more comfortable with experimenting and trying something new that I couldn’t have thought would work in the past.   Overall, I have found this course to be rewarding and a valuable experience to have during this hectic, but wonderful semester.

Fight Fake News with Critical Thinking

Lessons in Critical Thinking is now available free at iTunes. It includes critical thinking lessons in science, math, literature and media literacy.

During our discussion of digital literacy and “Fake News,” we realized that our middle and high school level students need more practice in the critical evaluation of information. Using some of our favorite edtech tools, we developed six engaging lessons which promoted critical thinking skills in a variety of content areas. Then, using iBooks Author, we compiled the lessons into this iBook .

For more work by this fine class visit our students page.

Student-designed critical thinking lessons include:

  1. Dihydro-What? Science Lesson by Kristen Turner
  2. Using TV Ads to Teach Persuasive Writing by Jennifer Upchurch
  3. The Choice is Yours: integrating a “choose your own adventure” into math class by Eli McElroy and Tamalin Salisbury
  4. How to Read Between the Lines of Research by Hannah O’Brien
  5. Do You Believe It To Be True Or False? by Jeremy Jon Reyes Pingul
  6. Civically Sublime by Kurt Anderson, Bekah Kolb, Ryan Greenberg

Reflections

I had a great time being in this course. Looking back at my first post, I notice that I mention “closing the digital divide” as one of the main things that I’d like to see done. I think after taking this class, I will be a lot more comfortable in how I approach that divide. Learning about the myriads of different platforms we can use in the classroom not only helped me grow as a teacher, but as a technology user. I now feel confident when using apps or different types of programming that I initially did not feel comfortable with using.

I think the class overall was great. I really enjoyed the structure of each class: come in and talk for a little, then hear a lecture about a specific useful app, program, or piece of technology that can be utilized, until finally we go to our respected computers and get to work. I would definitely recommend going about future classes in this format. Also, I think the 3 hour time slot worked perfectly for a class like this.

All in all, I learned so much in this class. I feel much more comfortable using iBook Author now, as well as using screen casting to further my education career. The biggest thing I’ve learned, though, is using this blog posting website. I can definitely see myself in the future wanting to use something like this again and, because of this class, I will know how to blog correctly (and make it look so clean, with the featured picture and all).

Thanks Peter for a great class! I look forward to running into you either on campus or downtown. Take it easy, everyone!

Photo by  abdullah.khan2012, entitled “Technology”

Blended Learning

For my hypothetical “blended learning” lesson, I figured it would be essential for my students to understand how to do research while writing a long research paper for me. The learning objective would not only be to know how to type in “keywords,” or be able to simply find what they are looking for–rather, the learning objective will be for my students to fully understand the scope that the entire research process covers. They will learn what the best research tools are, the most efficient way to conduct research, and how to distinguish between “good” articles and “bad” articles.

For this hypothetical assignment, I would make a serious of “how to” videos that show how to conduct proper research. These videos will most probably be very similar to the screen casting video I made that shows how to use the UP researching websites. In addition to showing this particular video, I will giving my students videos on how to pick the correct “keywords” when conducting research, as well as a video about the difference between academic journals and journals that are not considered to be academic.

This assignment will help my students become more familiar with computer usage in regards to doing research. It will also be important because when they have to do research for other classes, they can simply refer back to all of the videos I would have made.

Picture done by Colette Cassinelli, entitled “Learning”

Reflect on the Tech

Going into this class, I was super enthused to learn methods for using  technology in the classroom.  For me, being tech savvy used to mean being able to operate a document camera and to use Google Docs.  Ok, well it was a little bit better than that, but this class has really opened my eyes to new tools that I did not know existed.  It has also provided me with practical tips on the logistics of how I would actually use tech tools to enhance a class.

After trying out and experimenting with a bunch of tech tools, I would like to make a list to catalog some of my favorites as well as my brief reflections about them:

  • WordPress – Starting from a basic blog post to including video and site embeds, seeking creative commons license photos to accompany, and more, practicing using WordPress made me appreciate its friendly user-face and simplicity.  Surely this will come in handy for blogging in the future.
  • Adobe Spark – While working on the class E book, we were introduced to this tool.  I had too much fun testing the endless possibilities of creative design on this and can see many uses for its professional-quality images with words.
  • Google NGram Viewer – This tool for visualizing the rate of use of certain terms could be used in many classrooms and could connect topics therein to the real world.
  • Screencasting – Making screencasts was not as easy as it appeared and might take some practice to become proficient, yet it was a great way to present material on a screen and another option for how to explain material to students or give them resources to use outside of class.

Overall, this class was valuable because it tied theory to practice, a feat difficult to accomplish in an ed class.  Again, I look forward to the future, curious about where ed tech will advance and how it will change the very nature of education.  I trust that we will be good stewards of it and carefully implement it in prudent and effective ways.

Featured Image created on Adobe Spark

The End of The Beginning

We are finally at the finish line.  I got to say, this race was the longest one yet.

Looking back on my first post,  I only talked about how I used technology, or the current technology I had, in education, but not anything pertaining to what I wanted to get out of the class.  I am kind of glad I did that because it feels like I was telling myself that I wanted to keep things a mystery with no expectations so I can see every lesson with interest and not be disappointed if something I wanted to learn never came up.

Have I made progress?  Hell yeah I did!  This class unlocked so many new ways to teach that I can now use.  I know they were always there in some way or form, but I just needed some kind of force to show me that they existed.  I will most likely use everything I have learned in the future, but I believe I would find myself using the “Find, Curate, Store” and “Screencast” lessons the most.

Suggestions?  In terms of improving the class, there is nothing I can think of.  I’ve enjoyed the project-based learning, meaning that it was up to us how invested we wanted to be in the lesson and the work.  Every lesson was detailed enough that we were able to learn on our own, allowing you to walk around the class to see our progress/struggles and lending your assistance to us.  In terms of new things to teach, I’m sorry, but I can’t think of anything.  Everything in this class was new to me and found them useful and fun.

Thanks, Peter!

Featured Image: Adobe Spark Creation

Sci-Notting the World Counters

What you see above is a sample of what you would see if you went to World-O-Meters.  As you scroll around the page, you will see many different topics like military spending, agriculture, water usage, production of electronics, social media, and so on.  This site is a giant world counter.  It is not entirely accurate, but a lot of math and trend observations went into making this as accurate as possible.  And this site is perfect for introducing and teaching scientific notation.

Prior Knowledge Needed:  Exponent Rules

Lesson Begins:

So, what is scientific notation?  In layman terms, scientific notation is the way of writing very large or very small numbers in a more compacted and readable version.  Writing or typing, it is still quite tedious to write/type a number like 123456789086432477043146.  Scientific notation allows us to rewrite this in a compacted form and we could probably round off somewhere since most of the numbers are useless.  Though, if you are in the science and medicinal fields, those numbers are important, but it would be a hassle to write all those commas.

Day 1:

Introduce World-o-Meters and have them explore the site a bit on their electronic devices (Chromebooks, iPads, phones, etc.).

Introduce the concept of scientific notation.  Ask if students know what it is since they may or may not have encountered the concept already in their Science class.  Most common reply would be “It’s a way to make writing big numbers easier“.  If there are students who never heard of scientific notation or need a refresher, do some examples on the board like 16,000 and ask them to turn it into scientific notation.  Answer:  1.6 x 10^4.  Just remember that the decimal point has to go behind the first nonzero number or the number in front of the decimal point has to be greater than 0 and less than 10 (0 < n < 10).

After that, spend the rest of class having the students practice writing topics of interest in World-o-Meters in scientific notation and then turning it back into standard notation (1.6 x 10^4 = 16,000).  I suggest having students switch papers and practice writing their peers’ answers in standard notation.  If you have time introduce the concept of negative exponents in scientific notation.

Day 2

Bring back World-o-Meters and begin class by stating that now that we can write in scientific notation, we can now use scientific notation to compare the date behind us.  Like life vs death, emails sent vs tweets, car production vs bicycle production, and so on.  And we can compare these topics by using multiplication and division with scientific notation.

Before letting them go choose what topics they want to compare, go over the how we can multiply and divide in scientific notation.  I suggest that you put an example on the board like 5.2 x 10^2 x 2.1 x 10^2 and having them explore that with their peers.  They should find out that they should multiply or divide the front numbers and add or subtract the exponents respectively.

After that is written in their notebooks, they are free to go onto World-o-Meters and explore possible comparisons in the world.  They would have to convert the number into scientific notation before they can multiply or divide accordingly.  I recommend that the students round the numbers to the nearest thousandth for easier writing.  Just remember that for n.6539174:  0 < n < 10.

After students have their comparisons, have them come up and share because it would be interesting what students thought they could compare.  Just look if they multiplied (add) or divided (subtract) correctly.

That’s all for now.  I’ve actually experienced this lesson in one of my classes and thought it be cool to keep.

Featured Image:  Colored World Map

Teach without Talking! (Sort of)

No matter what the circumstance, sometimes we just…hate to talk. We hate to hear ourselves speaking for some reason, and it drives us (well, maybe just me) insane! But today, we are going to explore a technique where, if we don’t want to talk for that lesson, we can just have a pre-recorded version of the lesson and show THAT to the kids and catch up on, say, grading. Or sleep. Whichever.

I’m talking about screencasting, and it’s got to be the most valuable tool in a teacher’s toolkit if you don’t want to teach that day, or you would like the students to have access to the lesson itself outside of school. It would be most useful if, say, they didn’t really understand one part of the homework and wish they could remember what it was that you said during that one part of the lesson they decided to space out on. Well, if you make the screencast of the lesson/interactive activity available to them, then voila! It’ll be a cinch for them to actually “relive” the lesson, so to speak, but watching that video.

In this screencast, I show the user how to make a very simple hyperlink in a Powerpoint Presentation and how to link that…link to another slide in the document.

 

Like I stated before, screencasting is a great tool for students to have the lectures available outside of class should they need to review certain material or need clarification on a part of the homework that they couldn’t ask the teacher.

I personally would not use screencasting while I was teaching. I mean, I would use other people’s screencasts (I just Khan Academy frequently) but I would never use my own. Kudos to all those brave enough to anonymously grace the public ear with their bandwidth voice.

That’s it for now! Toodles~!

Featured Image courtesy of Adobe Spark.

The Ed Tech Experience

Going into this class, I didn’t really have expectations. I knew that I wanted to get a little more comfortable with the technology available to me, and to gain an understanding of the possibilities of a higher tech placement. This course was helpful to me on both counts. I really appreciated the focus on easy to access online tools, because even in my placement those were useful to me, and I feel like I know that cool things are out there, and that many of them are pretty easy to work with and access.

I especially liked the focus on Google tools, because literally every school in the vicinity will have those available. I gained a better working understanding in the tools I’m already familiar with, which was super helpful. I especially like the my maps and google notes possibilities, which I wouldn’t have considered using or exploring before this course.

I was really interested in everything about this course, but the way our schedules work forced me to spend  less time on it than I wanted. I would love for it to be a required course for juniors, who still have hope and energy for things other than their student teaching placement. I feel that if I had taken the class earlier, I could have engaged more with everything and been more creative and interested in embracing the project based learning model.

Featured Image: “Psychedelic Jellyfish” by Paul Tomin on Flickr

EdTech Methods: Yet Another Class I Wish I Took Earlier

When I entered my student teaching year, I barely knew how to construct a lesson plan. I didn’t know how to design a lesson to achieve learning targets. I didn’t know what a unit plan even really looked like. I got overwhelmed and barely caught up.

If EdTech Methods was a semester or two earlier, I would have really been able to use more of this stuff in my teaching earlier. Now it’s the end of the year and I know my way around Google tools like none other and I feel this weird guilt that I wasn’t good enough throughout this class and definitely not good enough for my students. I want EdTech earlier than the last semester at UP. It deserves to be earlier, but still close to student teaching. I say that purely out of the fact that I feel profoundly more confident in a hands-on type understanding of classroom technology and wish that was the case before I had such a turbulent year.

Basically the only complaint I have is that I found the blog difficult to navigate. Is WordPress the best site for this? I don’t have any alternatives because the knowledge of educational technology I trust is exclusively from this class.

Google Trends as the First Step in Research

A student is looking at an essay prompt, he or she is overwhelmed and intimidated. They’re torn because they can’t decide what they want to write about, but the teacher was so insistent on leaving the prompt more open to the students.

A student has chosen what to write on, but doesn’t know what angle to take with it.

Maybe they’re looking for a fast and analytical way to compare and contrast two or more concepts.

Fix all of this by putting Google Trends in front of students. Teachers can use Google Trends as a measure of popularity over time within the last decade or so, giving students a statistical understanding of cultural relevancy that they can then analyze to understand what pulls people toward certain things. For example, if you search the names of some Shakespeare plays, you can see that people search Shakespeare way more during conventional school seasons, dipping in winters and summers. It’s a whole new source of information that gives statistical data accurate to what is relevant in the world today.

Check it out!

Student-Submitted Essay Questions: A Flipped Classroom with You Still at the Reigns

So if you’re like me, you’re often proud of your students by their interesting, deep questions about your material. The kind of stuff beyond “How is this relevant to us?” and “Can I go to the bathroom?” So how do you incorporate their deeper, more engaging questions into the curriculum without losing track of the lesson plan you’ve worked so hard on?

Google Slides’ ‘Presenter View’. For a technology-literate classroom beyond the normal curriculum, just put up a Google Slides on presenter view and ask students to post their profound questions on the powerpoint. The best way to do this would be within the unit beforehand, whenever one of those questions comes up, ask students to write it down and save it. Then, when they’re looking at the powerpoint, they’ll get on their devices and submit the question. Then, students can be challenged to answer the question (in an ELA classroom that might take the form of a strong thesis statement), then they can compete for the best answer possible! You still control everything that goes on the screen, but the students control and respond to the rest.

This model could also be used for more open-ended trivia or test-prep, if you wanted.