Monday, May 4, 2009

On-Line Communtiy

When researching activities to use with my math class, I found Ask Dr. Math as a helpful on-line community. The web-site had interesting games and activities, but also had a resource where math teachers and students could ask for help with math concepts. The tutors who responded to the questions answered by writing step-by-step instruction of how to work through the problem. Not only is it helpful for a teacher to receive an explanation of how to work through a math problem that they find troublesome, but they are also given a clear way to teach the concept.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Article Assessment 5

The World of Digital Storytelling

With use of a good story, planning, and some easy to use technology, Jason Ohler describes how to lead students through the process of telling an interesting story. Having gone through the process of creating a digital story with Jason, I have learned how true it is that the story is the most important part of the project.

Jason has developed a series of checkpoints that students must get to before they even start to worry about the technology involved. He states that students need to create a story map including three key components
  1. Call to adventure
  2. Problem-solution involving transformation
  3. Closure
Ohler describes a process of story mapping, a visual display of the tension-resolution throughout the story. This must be approved before the process of creating the digital story can ensue. By using this process, students are more likely to create an effective story.

The process of digital story telling can be tied into many different types of curriculum. You can change the requirements of content, or require more writing elements to the creation of the story, depending on what you want the students to get out of the project.

Another use of digital story telling is to create a medium for students to discover the power of bias in the media. Students can be shown, or discover through experience how camera angles, music choices, and lighting can make a more convincing story, and therefor how the media today uses these techniques to influence their audience. One of the goals of education is to create critical thinkers. The ability to discriminate the valid information from a bias heavy video is an effective way to see how we are influenced in our every day lives.

Using the techniques described by Ohler, digital storytelling can be an effective tool in many different academic fields. By making sure that the story is one that is engaging, telling a story using easy to use technology can engage students in ways that were recently thought to be out of reach.

My technology IEP

I am a new member of facebook and thought it might be interesting to create a lesson for students using facebook features. I have been warned that I will never be able to incorporate facebook into a lesson due to security demands of schools to keep students safe, but I have hope that there will be something like facebook that will one day be allowed in schools. Most of the lessons that I have created could be accomplished by using a blog page, although facebook has a feature of instant communication that I love.

With use of facebook the science lab could extended to the student's home. In this lesson, the students are required to look at the world around them, and to make comparisons to places in the near vacinity. This could lead to a more realistic look at the world around them, hopefully creating a more aware person one year closer to graduation.

I would hope to eventually be able to either have students talk to each other on-line through use of facebook, or even better to have students communicate their ideas with other students in other communities. Being able to instantly respond to those who are far away could lead to a sharing of ideas and a larger group of students and get more interesting feedback for our work. For example, a comparison between pioneer plant species in recently exposed areas near a glacier and pioneer species in an area that has regular fires.

I hope that some other source may one day have some of the features that facebook has will be created so that my technology IEP lessons, or something like it could some day be taught.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Article Assessment 4

The Overdominance of Computers

In this article by Lowell W. Monke, the lack of preparation we give to our students before we unleash the powerful computer on them is discussed. We prepare our young for all other powerful tools of their future like cars and alcohol. Why don't we teach the use of computers in the same way.

For this to happen, we would need to give our young time to develop
  • a conscience and use it to be responsible and respectable contributors to the digital world
  • hands on experiences to give relevance to the work they do with technology
  • loving nurturing experiences to give them a sense of gravity for how their work may effect others
  • outdoor activities to connect them with the world around them so that the research they do can be connected to the physical experiences they have had.

Although computers can be used as a creative tool, what is created is only an icon for what exists in the real world. The potential for the computer as a creative tool is not used to its fullest if students do not realize how their creations can be used. Monke argues that computers today are given to young students who do not have the life experience to be responsible for what they create. He also argues that when we start teaching students about technology so young, they are learning technology that will not be relevant by the time they are in high school. He suggests that we give students the opportunity to be children, then in high school, start to prepare them for their technological futures.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On-line Resources

I have found many useful resources on line. Some I use as a resource for ideas of activities, and others are activities within themselves. In math, we use McDougal/Littel text. They have a resource for activities called classzone. It is loaded with power points that go through the examples in the book, and also animated games that help the students understand the concepts. I use the activities with a Smartboard. Another resource for activities that can be used with Smartboard is a website called shodor.
One resource I use just for ideas for activities that I can create is I have found this to be a source of many great ideas for games and activities to do with the kids. Some of the games are geared for a younger audience, but with slight modifications, they can usually be altered to work for my class.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Digital Storytelling

The creation of a digital story was one of the most rewarding projects that I have worked on during my Masters of Arts in Teaching. For this assignment, we were asked to create a story in our content area that was interesting. Although "interesting" was not the only requirement, it was the most important element covered. It is easy to create a boring story, but to create a truly compelling story, there must be conflict, and hopefully a moral learned at the end.

To create a story with these very important elements, a
story map is a useful tool. When using a story map, changes in the plot are drawn out using visuals and main ideas. When a story begins with a good map, it is sure to be a success. As a teacher, using this in a classroom, I would require my students to have their story maps approved before production to ensure a quality end product.

When deciding to use technology in teaching, thought must be given to how the project will be graded. To help with this I created a
rubric. This rubric would be handed out at the beginning of the project to give the students an idea of how they would be graded. I wanted my rubric to be specific enough to encourage the creation of good stories, but not so specific that the students would not be able to be creative.

This process helped me to understand the pitfalls that may effect students who would be part of a project like this in one of my classes. Some troubles I had were a poor camera to take pictures of my drawings, and also an out-of-order scanner at the University. This effected the quality of my pictures, and might be a problem for others as well.

Even with some minor problems in production, I was able to create a story that I am proud of called Bear Finds a Place to Sleep.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008