Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chapter 15 - Illuminate the Internet

This chapter in Technology-Supported Mathematics Learning Environments gives an overview of the "Illuminations" program within a classroom. Its mission pursues interactive multimedia resources that can be found online, internet-based lesson plans, external web resources, and easily accessible organized content.

I like that it is stated on page 223 that Illuminations has been designed with the idea in mind that student motivation is a main factor towards successful teaching. It actively engages students into the content by integrating all of it with modern technology. After all, with all of the vast knowledge available on the internet, a program like this can help to gather valuable online information easily.

A feature of Illuminations that I found interesting to read about was the Guiding Questions, which helped teachers "consider types of questions that would help focus students' attention on making sense of the mathematical concepts and the skills and applications associated with those concepts" (p.239). The choice of questions, or even how one phrases it, can make the difference for a student's understanding. Furthermore, I thought that the reflection activities were very applicable to Wesleyan student teachers especially, as reflection is an integral part of our framework.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards

I think that interactive whiteboards can be extremely beneficial to the classroom environment. As this article stated, teachers can include media and technology resources within their lessons which can broaden students' knowledge of the world outside of the classroom. Having an interactive whiteboard helps to engage students in the learning because they not only see, but can actively participate in the lesson. I've found that when younger students can physically do things, they often better retain the presented information. I therefore agree that the interactive whiteboards can "bridge personal and public learning spaces." This board can provide classrooms with a cental point for evaluating, sharing, and discussing different ideas and information.

From my observation experiences over the past 3 years, I've found that interactive whiteboards are frequently used by both students and teachers. I've had the opportunity to teach a couple of lessons using a smart board and I've seen that students positively respond and maintain focus throughout the entire class time. Often students fear going to the board in the front of the class, but with smart boards students can't wait to show their answer to the class. I don't think that this should be the only method of teaching in the classroom, but overall I think that interactive whiteboards positively influence interactive learning when used properly.

Interactive Whiteboards

My first experience with the interactive whiteboard was last Thursday in class. I will admit that I had a lot of fun playing around with all the different features. After reading the article, I realized that not only is this fun, but this is the sort of technology that enhances teaching, not hinders it.

Children are able to express their creativity and imaginations through interactive whiteboards. It is easy to learn when learning is fun, and the interactive whiteboard provides a fun way to learn. Technology is always improving, is always changing, but I think the interactive whiteboard is a technology that teachers find easy to use as well as it being very helpful in the classroom.

When I go in to shadow the students that I tutor through the Promise and Potential Program, I have seen first hand the interactive whiteboard be a very useful tool for the teaching process. The teachers enjoy using it and the students enjoy playing with it and all the while, the students are learning. I think it is a great balance between technology and teaching.

One to One Learning

Interactive whiteboards and other similar forms of classroom technology pave the way towards an innovative way of teaching and allow for "numerous benefits that continue beyond the walls of the classroom for students and teachers" (p. 3). They engage students' interests in lessons that could normally make them feel imprisoned in the classroom, as well as allow for different ways of teaching - such as to the class as a whole or in groups or even one-to-one attention. They also open the path for multiple media forms of education by integrating video, music, animation, and the like into lessons.

During my time as a coach in the Promise and Potential program, I saw these benefits first-hand as students suddenly went from falling asleep to jumping out of their chairs the minute the SmartBoard was turned on in their classroom. It caught students' attention like nothing I have ever seen before, and I hope that I am fortunate enough one day to have a classroom that can afford the use of a SmartBoard.

Interactive Whiteboards

When I first started thinking about interactive whiteboards, I did not support it very much. I thought that interactive whiteboards took away from students' learning experiences. I thought the technology got in the way of the learning. After reading this article and playing around with the SMART board, I realize my opinion was wrong. Interactive whiteboards, such as the SMART board, actually increase participation and help keep the students' interests present. Students are also able to learn more with this technology. Using a normal chalkboard or whiteboard can be very monotonous to students. I did not have much technology present in school and can remember being very bored just staring at a chalkboard for hours at a time. I would daydream and did not pay attention. Using an interactive whiteboard will keep students' attention and increase learning. Students can actually touch the board and manipulate it to answer questions.

The only aspect that bothers me is that not all schools can afford for every classroom to have such technology. We can only be so lucky to teach in a school that has a SMART board present in most classrooms.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards

I was very excited when I learned that this article was about Interactive Whiteboards. Last week I shadowed in a sixth grade classroom at BJHS. The teacher was using the board as a tool in class, and the functions were simply amazing. I have never seen one used the way she used it. I've seen people write directly on it, but I've never seen them use it as a touch screen. She scrolled through instructions for what to do in class, and even drew diagrams with it. This technology is something I'm really looking forward to learning about so I can use it in my classroom.

Another technological advancement that is awesome is the use of handheld technology. It is amazing that everyone has such easy access to it now. The fact that everyone can access information so quickly and easily, means that we can spread new information faster and wider than ever before. A student could be home sick, but still getting the lesson delivered to them on the couch. The spread of ideas can take hold even quicker, and new ideas can move from hand to hand in a matter of seconds.

One of the greatest aspects in the use of the Interactive Whiteboard is the fact that you can incorporate so many different types of technology. One lesson can reach every student and his/her personal style of learning because it can incorporate technology from many different sources. How could students not pay attention when there are so many different interactive things going on in the front of the classroom?

I understand that many people are worried about students becoming too involved in their own work and not interacting, but handheld tools can be very helpful. While in the classroom, the teacher can put any student's work up on display. This action forces students to work hard because if their work is posted, the student wants to make sure it is correct. This could also cause problems in the fact that it could lower a student's confidence in his/her own work. As long as we learn to use the technology in a positive manner, it will be very helpful in teaching students of all different learning types. The teacher needs to be in control at all times, and the use of personal, handheld devices needs to be monitored, but with all this technology the classroom will evolve into a great new atmosphere.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One to One Learning

I love that personal computing devices offer students a way to express their opinions without being called upon in front of the class. Incorporating a private learning space for students to get their thoughts down allows those who are uncomfortable with verbal participation to still interact with the class. I wish that I had a personal computing device throughout high school. As a student, I always take notes and think to myself, but when it comes to verbalizing my thoughts, I struggle. However, I have found that once sharing my thoughts with a small group, I am reassured that my ideas are valid, and have no problem sharing with the class. With a personal computing device, I would be able to organize my thoughts, validate them in my head, and then share with others. Using the "private space" would allow me to fit into the "public space" of the classroom much easier. My experience as a student is supported by Liu and Kao's study in the reading-- use the personal computer to do individual work, then share that work with a group and discuss your findings through large shared displays. I think that this way of learning and teaching promotes a socially supported learning environment (something I hope to have in my classroom).
Here's a parting quote from the reading to sum up my point: "Where individual computing devices succeed as private learning spaces, interactive whiteboards excel as public learning spaces. When paired with the necessary software and wireless connections, they can make transitions between individual or small-group learning and whole-class learning smooth" (6).

Interactive Whiteboards

During the first day of class, Professor Nillas asked us to think of some positives and negatives of using technology in the classroom. I remember one of my "negatives" was that technology took away from hands-on learning and that it catered to the tech-saavy students. I definitely found a lot of evidence against that statement in the reading. Interactive whiteboards actually are one of the greatest supporters of differentiated or personalized learning in the classroom; and after learning more about the SMART board in class, I can see how that would be true. For example, the SMART board supports visual-aid learners, hands-on learners, music learners, etc. I also found it really cool that when using interactive whiteboards, such as the SMART board, the lessons are actually personalized for the class. The students write on the board, move things on the board, etc. to their understanding/learning ability. No two classes will have the exact same experience on the board during one lesson! The students will be working together; student participation and interaction is encouraged.

I did find it interesting that the article emphasized the integration of so many different technologies in the classroom. There are several schools that aren't able to afford those luxuries. I have talked with some of my friends, and most of us didn't even have a SMART board in the classroom. As amazing as it would be to have those luxuries in the classroom, the article wasn't realistic to the common classroom today.

I have observed in classrooms at BJHS that do have the use of technology such as SMART boards, and the class as a whole is just more lively, if that's the right word to use. The focal point of the classroom is the board that the students are interacting with together. The atmosphere is creative, responsive, and student achievement is improved!

Interactive Whiteboards

I, like many of you, am very excited to be doing our first project using the SMART board. However my initial reasoning was not very strong. I was just super excited to write on the board with the fake pens and play with the cool settings. After reading this article I am even more excited. I knew that interactive whiteboards were great, but I did not realize the magnitude for which they benefit the classroom. The most important benefit that I got out of this article is how they appeal to a large variety of students' learning styles.

Many students find staring at a chalk board for any extended length of time to be boring. Thus, for students with attention disorders who need change to keep them focused, the interactive whiteboard will help them excel. Using an interactive whiteboard allows for many changes of backgrounds and introduces interesting twists to ordinary lessons. For visual learners, the increased accessibility to multimedia will help suit their needs. Kinesthetic learners will enjoy being able to touch the screen in a lesson that usually would not be hands-on. The list goes on and on, and I believe teachers will be able to reach out to all learners using the interactive whiteboards.

I wonder if there are critics of this new technology. If so, what is their reasoning. From my experiences, interactive whiteboards only make education better. Last year at BJHS, I saw more hands in the air to participate than I thought was possible. The students were so eager to write their answers on the screen. I hope that we are all lucky enough to have such technology in our classrooms once we become teachers.

One to One Learning

I, like Kathleen, found it very interesting that there was such a strong emphasis classrooms combining personal computing devices and interactive whiteboards. In many schools' cases, funding these technologically advanced learning tools could be a great issue. Of course it is ideal, and there are numerous advantages that result from such great tools, but it would be extremely expensive for every classroom to be equipped with this equipment. I'm sure as technology continues to improve, these tools will become more and more common in a majority of classrooms, but in some lower income schools, desktop computers are still a rarity.

We did not have any smart boards in my high school, but my senior year calculus teacher used a tablet PC for everyday notes. That particular classroom was one of the few in the school to still have chalkboards. The tablet PC was a wonderful way for her to focus the students' attention on the lecture for the day. She also often showed illustrations of new concepts that could have been foreign if we had not seen the animations. With technology growing at the rate at which it is, I would not be surprised to see personal computing devices and interactive whiteboards become more popular. They both find great ways to improve a student's learning experience, allowing him or her to participate more, see other students' responses, and compare his or her answer to the teacher's.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards

Reading this article, I found myself slightly frustrated with the amount of emphasis put on using interactive whiteboards alongside of personal devices in the classroom. Although using both together would be ideal, and the software for both is absolutely incredible, I have to wonder how many classrooms and schools actually can afford to use both. Very few high schools actually have students use tablet PCs in class. So although I did find the studies interesting, I don't know if I will ever get the chance to use that kind of technology. I would love to see face-to-face what using both forms of technology in the classroom can do for a student's learning. Especially as an English teacher, I feel like using interactive whiteboards in the classrooms could really help a student get more interested in English. Too often English is the dreaded subject of some students, and I would love the opportunity to use the interactive whiteboards to spark their creativity within the subject.

My high school did not use SmartBoards, but we did have several teachers using tablet PCs in the classrooms. I will admit that my interest for Calculus was much higher when my teacher was using her tablet than when she was using the plain whiteboard. She had a keen sense of how to make the tablet interactive for all of us in the classroom, which was extremely impressive considering that there was only one tablet PC in the whole room. So I think that the interaction between the students and the teacher can be achieved just as well with only one form of technology rather than both. Both is obviously ideal, but when only one is available, it is very possible for the teacher to come up with activities that make the students involved in the lesson.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards Article

Within the article, I found it interesting that there are actually studies that show that interactive whiteboards provide a more effective teaching method. I always thought that different forms of technology used in the classroom were just the teachers' preferred methods of teaching. I guess I never realized that their use of technology was not only to aid their lesson plans but to also expose use to new forms of learning. In particular with the interactive whiteboards, the students' participation increases and they become more engaged in the lesson.

At my high school, only the industrial arts teacher had a smart board and he never used it to promote interaction between the teacher and the students. Therefore, I was never really exposed to what the smart board could really do or how it could help in the classroom. However, since more schools are using smart boards, I find it as a very advantageous to learn how to properly use them so I can create an environment where the students will be excited to learn. In the article, I read a line talking about how today's students are becoming more tech-savvy. In order for those tech-savvy students to relate better with me as the teacher and the lesson being taught, I find it rather important to introduce them to forms of learning that are new and exciting. This could create a bridge between the subject material and the students' interest.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chap. 11: Elementary

This chapter talked of introducing databases and spreadsheets into the elementary school classroom. I had never thought of doing this. I used to think that technology of that sort was used mostly in middle school or even higher levels. I know I was not exposed to databases or spreadsheets until I was in high school. I was very surprised to see how elementary students could benefit from using such technology.

By using this technology in elementary school, students can begin to be exposed. If they have a foundation for spreadsheets and databases, they can enhance their skills as they get older. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment by creating many kinds of graphs and tracking their progress in certain areas. In the chapter, a student tracked her progress of the number of books she read throughout the year. She even separated them into different genres on her graph. This showed her what she could improve on and her progress. They can use information they know to create patterns and gain knowledge with these graphs.

Children also can use internet databases to look up information and enhance knowledge. The author states that by using internet databases early on, they will know how to properly use them later on. I have never thought of using any of this technology before with elementary school children. After reading this chapter, I see that exposing them to databases and spreadsheets can be very beneficial to them later on.