Monday, August 31, 2009

Chapter 11 Elementary Ed Databases and Spreadsheets

Chapter 11 explained how to use Databases and Spreadsheets in the classroom.  I found it very enlightening because I never thought of using this advanced technology with such young children.  It does make a lot of sense though.  If students start making simple tables and graphs in first grade, who knows what they could be doing by the time they get out of school.  Something that I really liked in this chapter was when they talked about students using search engines to look for information.  At first I thought it was too dangerous for a child to use the internet, but if children are taught at a young age how to use it effectively, maybe there wouldn't be as many problems with the internet.  This chapter has really helped convince me that teaching children about technology at a young age can help to eliminate some of the problems that can occur later on.  

The section about graphing was also very enlightening.  There was a section that explained how children used graphs to show the different types of books they read.  One girl said that she enjoyed making the graph because she actually realized the number of books of each genre she read.   The exercise really made her think about her academics, and it broadened her horizons.  I would definitely like to use this graphing exercise in my classroom.

Another thing that I felt was very useful from this chapter was the listing of all the resources.  There are some very interesting websites that would be great tools in the classroom.  NoodleTools.com is a great citation tool because it is specifically for 1-6 graders.  It's a great and safe site because students have to register/subscribe so the site is safer than the open internet.

Elementary-Databases and Spreadsheets

Chapter 11 talks about the use of databases and spreadsheets in an elementary setting. Although these technology tools are not as commonly used as others, the author points out that they are still important to incorporate in an elementary classroom. Children at this age will not necessarily be able to comprehend the more advanced settings of databases and spreadsheets, but they should be taught the basics of it.

I never really thought about the benefits of children learning early on how to use and understand databases and spreadsheets. The author points out that things like library records and internet search engines are databases that elementary children use frequently. Also, if they are some what familiar with databases and spreadsheets then they will be better equipped when they have to use them in the future.

After reading this chapter I completely agree with incorporating lessons on using databases and spreadsheets because of not only the immediate benefits, but the future benefits as well.

Elementary: Databases and Spreadsheets

I was not really introduced to databases and spreadsheets until my high school course, Computer Applications. Before then, we had only used computers in junior high for typing practice/exercises, Microsoft Word, and Powerpoint. After reading Chapter 11, I found that it would have been beneficial for me to have been at least introduced to them in elementary grades. As the chapter states, it is important for elementary students to "be proficient in the use of databases as tools for retrieving information" (p.145). As teachers, we do not need to teach how to create databases or how to be a master at spreadsheets, just how to be familiar with these tools.

It was interesting to learn that as teachers we could put children at risk if we do not teach them skills for accessing online databases and using search engines effectively, because as the internet continues to grow, so do the inaccurate or biased resources inside it. Spreadsheets should be a part of elementary curriculum as well because it introduces a tool that will probably be used more than once in their future. It is a great, simple, and fun way to introduce using a computer. I also believe that it helps students with organizational skills and helps "tie the lesson up". For example, the graphing activities on page 149 would be an excellent closure/ending statement to any lesson.

It is interesting to keep in mind that what our parents learned in second grade, we most likely learned in first grade. It may not have been as big of a deal if our parents did not attend/finish college, but today, the pressure to attend college is much higher. Our society is fast-paced and ever-growing. Introducing databases and spreadsheets at an elementary level correlates with this speed, which is needed!

Using Spreadsheets in Math

Although I found many aspects of Mrs. Remille's lesson very interesting, one main lesson I learned is that using technology in teaching does not have to be complicated. I often remember my calculus teacher trying to use some complicated, fancy program to model one of our lessons. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. In either case, her program was not accessible to any of the students in the class. I now see that basic programs including Excel can be even more effective and much easier to use!

The benefits of using such programs as Excel go well beyond helping our math students understand the concepts. Familiarizing students with Excel will help students in all areas of school. To some individuals, Excel may appear complicated and intimidating. Thus, helping students learn about spreadsheets will have great benefits. The use of Excel, as mentioned in the chapter, allows students to learn concepts without having to continually perform calculations. This is one of the greatest aspects in my point of view because as a student, I always became frustrated when I understood what to do, but ended with incorrect answers because I had added or subtracted incorrectly. 

Another point of Mrs. Remille's lesson that I thought was notable was how she used a real-life example to keep the students interested. This is important to do because it will increase students' interest in the subject when they can see how math relates to everyday life. Beyond Mrs. Remille teaching with technology in her captivating lesson, she also introduced the students to math modeling.

Chapter 12 - Spreadsheet Software

This chapter of Technology-Supported Mathematics Learning Environments emphasizes the importance of spreadsheet software that provides opportunities for students to develop a more thorough knowledge of data analysis. It explains how such software can increase understanding of the measures of central tendency as well as of variability.

I agree with a lot of the ideas present in the paragraph, "Enhancing Statistical Learning Using Spreadsheet Software." Spreadsheet technology does indeed allow students to have a better overall look at data without performing endless repeated calculations (which due to human error could in fact distort the end result). This also allows students to explore more in-depth topics of statistics, such as the standard deviation, which are typically difficult to calculate.

This use of technology and guidance from the teacher can also help students develop theories from their own observations of the data. Posing questions, such as those asked by Mrs. Remille on page 183, helps students become more involved in the process rather than just taking in lectured knowledge.

I think that the main idea of this chapter is summed up on page 187 with the statement that explains how students who are given these opportunities with spreadsheet technology "develop a deeper understanding of concepts that form the basic foundation of statistical methods."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chapter 11, Elementary Databases & Spreadsheets

Chapter 11 discussed the importance of at the very least introducing how to use both databases and spreadsheets to elementary students. It's key that elementary students understand that these two resources are tools for retrieving information. I remember that I only used web search engines and library records as a fourth and fifth grade student solely for assigned research projects. The chapter brought up a good point about not all schools have librarians or computer teachers that are qualified and can teach elementary students how, why, and when to use databases or spreadsheets. I believe that it then becomes teachers' responsibility to ensure that their students learn the skills of selecting, evaluating, and citing sources. Personally, I could not teach a class how to create their own spreadsheet using Excel or another program because I don't know enough about how to correctly make a spreadsheet. I'm hoping that after this course I will have this knowledge because I definitely don't want to be a teacher that avoids incorporating vital resources that students should be aware of in the classroom.

This chapter included an actual fifth grade lesson plan that enables students to research data and then record their information using a spreadsheet application. This lesson plan teaches the students how to collect and analyze their data using both reliable web search engines and spreadsheet application. I think that lessons incorporating the students active participation will help the students retain how to correctly use these resources and will better prepare them in the future. I never thought about introducing databases and spreadsheets at the elementary level, but after reading this chapter I feel that it's important for students to learn how to apply and use these resources that are commonly seen in society today.

Chapter 11, Math

When reading this chapter, I thought about my 8th grade probability class. We did not use any technology to learn the concepts. I learned how to find mean, median, and mode very well, but I did not understand how changing one point would affect the mean, median, and mode. I remember doing practice problems where one data point was changed, but instead of focusing on the change that happened, I focused on the busy work. We did all the problems by hand, so what stuck in my mind was how to find an answer, not what the answer actually meant.
With technology, I could have understood the importance of actually computing the average and what an average means instead of following the steps to get a number. I think it's important to learn the steps and then expand on those steps by putting them into data spreadsheets.
It seemed like Mrs. Remille introduced mean, median, and mode before spreadsheets, because her students were able to use their knowledge of mean, median, and mode to guide them through the spreadsheet process and interact with the teacher. They even used their previous knowledge of mean, median, and mode, to help learn a completely new topic--standard deviation. I LOVED how Mrs. Remille guided her students to the answers instead of telling them throughout this chapter. She expanded her class's knowledge of topics they already knew and allowed them to find a definition of a new, more advanced topic.
This is definitaly how I would want to use technology.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chapter 11 Elementary Education - Databases and Spreadsheets

As someone who is not an Elementary Education major, it was interesting to read this chapter in their book. (I do not have a correlating chapter in the English book) I found it interesting how the authors focused on the necessity of elementary students being introduced to databases and spreadsheets, even though they have long been thought of as too difficult. Most schools do not have the trained librarians that they once had to help teach the students how to use these resources, so the responsibility now relies with the teacher.

In addition to learning how to use databases and spreadsheets, it is also important for the students to be able to learn how to track, graph, and interpret their own information. The more that the new types of resources are practiced and used, the more comfortable the students will be with them once they reach a higher grade level. I never thought that there were so many ways for an elementary classroom to use these resources, but looking back to my own education I now remember using graphs on the computer and Microsoft Excel to help our classes with different information for science, especially. Having learned those skills at an early age certainly benefitted my understanding of the information we were learning about. The authors emphasize the importance of learning a wide range of information using databases and spreadsheets at the elementary level, and I couldn't agree more with them. I just wonder how I would be able to incorporate these resources into my classroom as a future high school English teacher.

Chapter 12 - Spreadsheets

Teaching students the definitions of mean, median and mode is important, and students should learn how to calculate each of these as well. Mrs. Remille, in Chapter 12, took the lesson on statistics and data calculations to a new level. Giving the students a hands on experience with seeing how statistics work, how a minor or major change can affect the outcome, and learning what the results signify was a great way to assure the students to understood statistics. Teaching formulas on how to find mean, median and mode is one thing, but giving the students the opportunity to analyze the data and sincerely understand statistics is a superb way for a teacher to allow the students to become familiar with the information.

Stastistics are used in everything, not only math. For a student to receive a good foundation of statistics at an early age can only help him or her. He or she can later calculate grades, understand what a newscaster is talking about when rattling off stastistics, and use stastics in a future career. Mrs. Remille went about teaching the students in a creative way, asking questions that only made them more eager to seek the answer. I find the biggest challenge at hand is just that: being creative and coming up with exciting ways to express ideas and teach the foundations of math that can be used every day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ch. 12 - Spreadsheets

Before reading this chapter about spreadsheets, I only thought you could type in data and make a chart. Now I realize that spreadsheets can be used as not only a way to store data, but also a great teaching/learning tool. Spreadsheets can help students obtain a theoretical understanding of statistical measures and use them to help explain data in an easier way. This can help students with many different math courses, especially probability and statistics.

By using spreadsheet software, students will not only be able to understand the problem at hand, but also they will be opened up to a wider range of math. I believe that this is very important because the students will be exposed to more math and they might have a better chance of enjoying their learning experience. In addition, I feel that using spreadsheets really allows the students to experience and get their hands dirty in the data. By letting the students pick their own topic in which they will collect data for, they will become more interested in it and will most likely have a better time completing the project. This can help them become more confidence in themselves and their overall math abilities, which I believe is the most important part when it come to teaching math.

Assigning projects, however, is not the only way to teach with spreadsheets. When showing students data on a spreadsheet, the teacher can manipulate the individual entries to show how it can affect the live data. I feel that analyzing these alterations in the spreadsheet can also help them understand specific definitions and concepts that correlate with the data. I believe that spreadsheet software is an excellent way for students to obtain a better understanding on math and it applications towards real life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Elementary Education and Technology

Before reading this chapter, I had never thought of the importance and complexities of incorporating technology in to the classroom. As we all know, technology is constantly evolving and for the most part I feel as if I am able to keep up. But then there are times when I have to ask my 12 year old brother about certain of aspects of say microsoft word or excel that I had no idea even existed. This chapter really put in to perspective just how important technology can be in enhancing and even improving a child's achievements at school.

This chapter starts out by explaining how technology is more than just computers. I did not take into account all the other devices such as LCD projectors, digital cameras, and multi-media tools that are implemented into classrooms now. With the correct knowledge and understanding of all these technological devices, teachers are able to enhance their students' learning and ways of thinking. Then, the point is brought up that teachers should learn how to use all this technology so they can rely that knowlegde to their students. Teachers know their students and their learning habits which make them better equipped at teaching children about technology then say a tech assistant would be. So training teachers to utilize technology, then passing those skills on to their students is the most beneficial solution. Examples of this in the chapter show that schools that use technology to its full advantages, are more successful.

I agree that teachers need to learn about the technological advances that occur and then incorporate that in to their classrooms because of the positive outcomes it has on the children. I think that if more teachers were required to stay up to date with the rapid evolution of technology, then that knowledge could be passed on to help students to achieve at a higher and more advanced level.

It's Elementary!

After reading this first chapter, I found it interesting and important that integrating technology with classroom content can overall improve student achievement. It was helpful to see in Lenski's study that students' academic growth tended to be greater when teachers frequently integrated technology. This chapter adequately explained various ways to implement different technological tools into the classroom which can help meet learning needs for every student. For a teacher, providing multiple ways and opportunities of learning for diverse needs of students is a primary focus. When reading about the different forms of technology and the suggestions that the chapter provided about integrating them into classroom-content, I found myself generating ideas about how I could include technological tools in my future classroom.

This chapter also discussed the difference between a classroom teacher and a computer teacher. The book stated that a classroom teacher DOESN'T necessarily need collaboration to integrate technology, but a computer teacher CAN'T integrate technology with classroom content without the involvement of a classroom teacher. After rereading this specific section twice, I still remained a bit puzzled at why that is? I think that a computer teacher can implement some classroom content during their class by using outside resources from the actual computer. However, I do think that the computer teacher would be limited to few technological tools in comparison to a classroom teacher and would then not be able to improve student achievement.
I definitely agree that aministrative support plays a critical role in the success that classroom teachers will have when integrating technology. The attitude and the school staff is important because it can help to create an environment where teachers feel comfortable and encouraged to integrate technology and classroom content.

IT's Elementary!

The first chapter of this book brought up some good points that I had not thought about before.  The chapter talked about how the teacher had to really know what he/she was talking about.  The book said that some students knew more about technology than the teacher.  I realize that this is true.  Many students know a great deal about technology.  Teachers need to become more up to date on the technology so that they can keep up with their students.  The teacher knows the students and how each student learns best.  Therefore the teacher needs to teach his/her own students about the technology.  A tech assistant will not know each student's personal needs.  This could cause many problems.  It would take a great deal of money and planning to try to train all the teachers in the latest technology, when many schools do not have the funds to get things such as textbooks.  We need to find more efficient ways of training teachers.  I think that making it a requirement in college to take a technology class would be a tremendous help.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to technology, and it is very important that everyone is up to date.

The article also talked about the fact that students that had technology at their fingertips had better grades in school.  I would like to look more into this statement because there are many things that factor into this statement.  The schools that have the latest technology are schools with more money which means the students probably come from families that have more money, and have had more of an education.  I would like to look at a study that shows students of all economic levels and backgrounds and how they deal with technology and how it effects their grades.  I am excited to keep reading this book.  It will be interesting to see the suggestions it has for how to incorporate technology into activities everyday.

Elementary Technology: Introduction/Chapter 1

I am used to thinking of technology as a robotic system that robs teachers and students of creativity. My mom taught Preschool and Kindergarten for several years, and I watched her integrate only a few technological devices into her lessons. She was a great teacher, and many parents and students adored her - so I have had to ask myself if technology in the classroom is really as beneficial as many say.

After reading the Introduction and Chapter 1 in Integrating Technology in Primary Grades, I was shocked to find that I agreed with a lot of what was said. I was mistaken when I said that technology takes away from hands-on learning and makes it harder to meet the needs of every student. The Introduction introduces Lois Lenski Elementary School as the winner of the AASL Library Media Program of the Year. The students in this school were actually able to have more control (more hands-on interaction) when computers were implemented in the classroom because they were forced to actively think about the information, make choices, and execute new skills during teacher-led lessons. Visual learners were able to see pictures and slideshows, Math/Science learners were able to work with graphs, and hands-on learners were able to play with intereacitve web sites. The integration of technology into Lenski School even helped provide gender-neutralizing effects.

The most important point that was emphasized throughout the reading was that integrating technology into the classroom means actually using technology to TEACH any lesson that needs to be taught. This does not mean that technology should be taught as its own subject, this means that technology should be used as a tool to teach all other subjects. I found it interesting that when technology is used appropriately to teach lessons, students will begin to find greater appreciation in their work.

Chapter 1, The Philosophy of Integration

In Integrating Technology in the Primary Grades, the author tells of how the integration of technology in elementary classrooms improves student achievement. Technology includes more than just the computer. It also includes LCD projectors, digital cameras, and multi-media tools. She says that lessons integrated with technology can lead younger students to a higher degree than traditional thinking and lead to more complex thinking, creative problem solving, and collaboration. She makes it clear that the classroom teacher must be involved in the technology integration because only that teacher knows where the students are in the mastery of a concept. She also tells of certain resources a school must have in order to successfully integrate.

I agree with what the author is saying. By using and integrating technology into the classroom, students are becoming more involved and having a higher curiosity than just reading and memorizing facts in books. Technology can help engage students in discovery and higher-level thinking. Technology may help students to better understand what they are learning by getting them more involved in the concepts.

English Forward and Introduction Reading

After reading the Forward and Introduction of Ten Easy Ways to Use Technology in the English Classroom, I have a much better idea of what the book is going to be about, and I am excited to begin using it. Both the Forward and the Introduction went over how the book was set up. I am glad that there are still sections of the book on the more basic and familiar ways to use media in the classroom, such as audio, video, television, and movies. But I also appreciate how it goes into more step-by-step depth with the different ways to incorporate computers into the classroom. There is also a website with downloadable templates to help create the different types of technology.

In addition to that, I really found the author's views on the correlation between literacy and technology fascinating. It really is true that they go hand in hand, and influence each other in ways that we never thought were possible. It is very interesting to think about the fact that if one does not know how to use the internet and other forms of technology, it means that more than likely they cannot read or write as well because of the correlation between the two.

These sections of the book were very short, but also packed with good information to think about before reading the following chapters.

Chapter 23 Technology-Supported Math

Using technology in the classroom can greatly enhance a student's learning experience. A more hands-on and visual approach to different concepts will aid in a student's understanding of complex ideas. Through all of my math classes throughout grade school and high school, we always learned the longest, most in-depth process of a problem first in order to learn how and why it worked. After mastering this process, my teachers would usually show us a much shorter, one- or two-step process that came up with the same answer in less than half the amount of time. With the continuous enhancement of technology, tools are being developed that can help students learn different processes. Hopefully, these technological advances will help students grasp concepts more quickly and speed up their education, allowing them to learn more in their twelve years. Even being introduced to a graphing calculator increased the speed and quality of my learning experience, allowing me to actually see what I was learning and produce it by myself. With technology being used more and more, it should give a new, more interesting way for students to be eager to learn.

Chapter 23 Reading

The thing that stuck with me the most in this reading was that technology in math will help students learn main concepts without being caught up in the little details (as Danielle already laid out). In my opinion, this is SO important and I'd like to expand on it a little more.
Can you imagine learning how to factor and use the quadratic equation without using graphs to find the answers first? Thinking back on my high school math education, I can't imagine how much I would dislike math if I had to do all the busy work before using a graphing calculator. Using the graphing calculator allowed me to see the "macroprocedure," big picture, without having to put a pencil to paper. I could visualize what the tedious work would lead me to find; this gave the tedious work a purpose. If I had to do all the writing without picturing graphically what I was doing, I am almost positive I wouldn't have enjoyed it or done very well.
Also, in this way, those who learn by seeing the big picture first are aided; those who learn by doing the details are able to do so later through the tedious work.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ch. 23 - Tech. in Math Ed

After today's discussion in class, I realized that teachers should not overwhelm their students with technology nor should they be too dependent on technology within the classroom. However, I believe that technology can be an extremely useful learning tool. It provides new ways for students to visualize the subject matter, especially when dealing with different dimensions, graphs, and shapes. By using technology, the teacher can reach out to more of his/her students with the incorporation of different learning styles. For example, when finding the volume of a cylinder, some students may be able to memorize the equation without ever visualizing the actual object. However, for the spatial learners, they may need to see that you first find the area of one of the bases and then multiply it by the height. These forms of technology will allow teachers to gear their instruction more accurately towards the specific learning goal by acknowledging each student's learning style.

When reading Pete Rubba's thoughts about online courses vs. face-to-face teaching, I found it hard to believe that face-to-face teaching would dwindle away so quickly. I feel that face-to-face interaction is something that cannot be replaced. I understand that Rubba was trying to stress how important technology is in education, but I feel he was to extreme on his assumption. I agree best with Bob McCollum and Kyle Peck's beliefs on the matter. When it comes to teaching a math courses, I believe that one of the most important aspects is relating the methods/concepts to the each student's learning style. It is important to go into further instruction with an individual student if they are having a specific issue. Unfortunately, students do not have the luxury of being explained in a different way when taking an online course.

I found it interesting to read about how technology has progressed over time and how it affects our limitations as learners. Technology provides simplified ways to approach complex material. Since technology has helped math progress tremendously over the years, I find it very important to use it within the classroom, but I know not to rely on it. When making those lessons using technology, it is important to know the capability of your students so it is not too simple or too complicated. Therefore, you can maximize each student's learning experience.

August 25th Reading

After some of the comments in class today about the difficulties we may face teaching with technology, I began to consider the possibility that technology may be harmful in the classroom. Could technology take away from face-to-face teaching? Will teaching students about the advancements in calculators make it hard to teach them the details of how to solve the problem by hand? These thoughts worried me. 

However, the reading for today turned my thoughts around. “Technology mediates learning” (Masalski, 348). The emerging programs and technology will only better the communication within the classroom. Especially with the development of wireless devices to instantly receive homework and see how the students are progressing. Even better, I realized that technology in math could help students learn the main and important concepts without having to worry about solving tedious computations. The math modeling programs will help students realize how math has real life applications and hopefully raise their interest in the subject. This chapter has made me very excited about teaching with technology!

Tech-Supported Math Chapter 23

While reading Chapter 23 of Technology-Supported Mathematics Learning Environments, there were several statements with which I agreed but also some which I questioned.

I definitely agreed with the idea on page 347 that technology allows for the study of different approaches to usually complex procedures by breaking them down into simpler procedures, and I believe that this is one of the most important benefits of technology in a mathematics classroom. Every student has different learning abilities, and technology can help students maximize their understanding by giving different approaches to theories and topics. However, I did not agree with a statement following this idea that suggested students should use a computer to factor polynomials before learning how to do so by hand. I am a firm believer that one should learn how to do procedures by hand first, otherwise it will become all too easy to overly rely on the technology and in turn develop a less-thorough understanding of mathematical theory.

I also agree with the statement on page 348 that it is "not the technology that makes the difference but rather how it is used and by whom." Technology is definitely only a mediator of knowledge, and I have always found that the way a teacher uses technology and other classroom resources to engage a class is the factor that makes the material either interesting or boring.

I also agree with the idea on page 355 that "many mathematics students have difficulty with the production of symbolic notation." I have generally found typing math symbols on a computer to be very difficult without the aid of a special program, such as Latex, and even then the task is still challenging. Perhaps the development of more technology in math classrooms will help to solve this problem.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Welcome! Fall 2009

Welcome to our course!

Please introduce yourself to the group. Describe yourself in terms of your technological competencies. Explain why you are taking this course. What does "teaching and learning with technology" mean to you.