Thursday, November 19, 2009

Photostories and Webquests

Webquests and PhotoStory are two projects that I was very excited to get started on, but I was not sure if they would benefit students and help them learn as well as much as others. I had never even heard of either of these forms of technology, and I definitely was never exposed to them in high school or elementary school. After making them, I feel that I would have learned certain topics much easier and faster if I had been exposed to them. PhotoStory is almost like watching an educational movie for students, but it keeps their attention more. Elementary students would love to see bright, bold digital photos set to music or a voice. I feel like these images would stay in their heads longer than a lecture would. PhotoStories also really benefits auditory learners. PhotoStories and Webquests are also much more fun and interactive for children than just listening to a lecture. Webquests would be very helpful for students to do in groups and therefore enhance cooperative learning. I really enjoyed being exposed to these projects and look forward to trying them out in my classroom.

Photostory/WebQuests

I feel like that both Photostory and WebQuests are helpful tools when it come to teaching. The Photostory allows the students to become engaged through visual interpretations whereas the WebQuest allows the students to get their hands dirty in the information and apply the concepts necessary to complete the task. I think using both of them in a classroom, not just one, can really the range of students you are academically impacting because you are using tools that help a wide variety of students.

I really enjoyed working on the WebQuest activity because I feel for teaching math, it is a great way to implement group projects. It creates a chance for the students to work together as a team and really get to understand the mathematical concepts. I feel like Photostory, on the other hand, would be harder to use in a math class because the best way to learn math is to physically do the problems. I think the Photostory can be helpful in other subjects, but I find it difficult for students to really take a part in a Photostory activity.

Photostory and Webquest: A Reflection

Photostory:

This project was especially enjoyable to make. I had fun finding pictures on my topic and then inserting them into photostory to create a sort of slide show. Recording my voice was a little tough, since I wanted it sound right, but I eventually got it to work. While creating my photostory, I thought about how useful and beneficial something like this could be in a classroom, especially with elementary students. Photostory is a device that would be fun and hold their attention as well as be educational.

Webquest:

Webquest was fairly difficult. Finding the webquest and deciding which parts of it to modify was easy, but putting on the wiki site is where I hit some rough spots. Some times when I saved a page, it wouldn't save all my modifications. There were other times when I was trying to enhance the font or insert a picture, I had a hard time doing so or it would mess up the entire page. Although I little bit of a hard time with the project, I think that if done well, a webquest can be fun and educational as long as it is kept simple.

Reflecting on WebQuest & Photostory

Photostory
I enjoyed working on this particular assignment because it incorporated various technological resources. I had previously never created my own photostory and I now feel confident in my ability to do so and use photostory when teaching at the elementary level. I think that younger students would really enjoy an educational photostory because it presents accurate information in an engaging way. I think that photostory is a good resource because it provides students with an audio and visual learning opportunity. Overall, I liked my experience working with photostory and could see myself using it as a resource as a future teacher.

WebQuest
Modifying a WebQuest I found to be more challenging. It was difficult for me to find a WebQuest that I could modify and that had up to date website links. It was also challenging to choose one specific thing to focus on and alter. I think that WebQuests are a great way for students to learn via technology, but they may struggle navigating through the assignment. I tried to break down the WebQuest that I chose so that the assignment and information for students would be clearer and easily accessible. I experienced some frustrations working on wikispaces in the way in which I wanted the format, but I feel that the modifications that I made are appropriate and allow special needs students to have the same learning opportunity through technology.

Reflections

I really like that we modified a webquest rather than created a new one. This gave us an opportunity to work on different skills than the other projects in our class. I don't usually imagine myself teaching students with learning disabilities, but the fact is that we will all be working with students at all levels. Thus, it is important to be prepared. I need to remember that students with learning disabilities will be in average level classes and we want to do our best to help them succeed. I feel that we can use the techniques that we did on the Webquest project and apply it to other aspects of our teaching. For example, if we ever make a Powerpoint we should be sure not to make it overwhelming with too many words. We should try to be as clear and concise as possible so that every student has equal opportunity to learn.

I like the idea of using Photostory in the classroom, yet I still feel it will be a bit difficult to successfully incorporate them into a high school math class. I now understand how we can do it, I just have to find appropriate times to use them. I believe I would use them as an introduction to a lesson to get students intrigued, rather than as a learning tool.

PhotoStory and WebQuest experience

PhotoStory Experience: The PhotoStory took a lot of time to complete. It required me to think outside of the box and be more creative than I'm accustomed to. I was extremely frustrated in the beginning of the project because I could not think of any way to make a PhotoStory about statistics. However, after talking through ideas with Nillas and A LOT of thinking, I feel like I came up with a good PhotoStory that presents concepts in a fun way. This project made me realize that I can portray math concepts in more ways than simply writing an equation on the board. It has finally set in that I can use technology in the classroom.

WebQuest Experience: Although I would have liked to make my own WebQuest, I think that modifying an existing one was a great introduction. I now know what I don't want to do when I make my own WebQuest. I love that we were able to incorporate teaching students with learning disabilities into this class. In previous education classes, we spent time reading about learning disabilities, but not actually applying what we know. I now have a better understanding of how to teach to students who have different strengths and weaknesses. Just like PhotoStory making a WebQuest will be time consuming, but well worth it.

Photostory and Webquest

Photostory: I thought the photostory was a very creative way to introduce a new topic. I did "Geometry in Sports," and I feel this story would really help students get excited about a new topic. When we watched other students' photostories in class, we all were genuinely interested in each topic. Everyone had a creative way to express a new idea, and it was very entertaining. The program was very easy to use with very few complications. I could really see myself using this program to introduce a new lesson in a classroom some day. It is something you can use, see how students react, and modify it year to year for clarification.

WebQuest: The WebQuest was also a very fun project. Finding one to modify was fun because we were exposed to all the different kinds of projects a teacher can do. There is a wide variety of Webquests that already exist, and each student in our class went about modifying them in a creative way. This project differed from the others we have done because we had to adapt the project to suit the needs of a learning disabled student. The project introduced us to different things to keep in mind when creating projects for a classroom filled with students of different abilities. It will be fun in my future classroom to create my own WebQuest, and not only modify an existent project. It was interesting to look at everyone's projects and imagine how each would work in a classroom.
WebQuest
WebQuest was a little bit more difficult than the past programs to use. It was frustrating to have to deal with the problems with spacing. I also had issues with the fact that I added my Graphic Organizer, but when I came back t was blank. I also had issues changing the fonts of some of my sections. For some reason, certain sections would not change, and others would change but not stay. Once I started to figure it out, it was nice to use. There is so much room to be creative with WebQuest, and it's nice to be able to put something out there so that other people can hopefully look at it.

PhotoStory
The PhotoStory Project was a fun project. I especially enjoyed it because I was able to use my own pictures and experiences in it. Since I did a social studies lesson on California, I used the pictures from my trip with my dad two years ago. It is a lot easier to create projects when they have personal meaning to you. This software was great to use to. It was fairly easy to use, and I did not have any major problems with this project. It is nice because there are so many great features that are available for use. Adding music and recording our own information was a great addition to the project. I would definitely like to use this program again!

WebQuest and iMovie

I definitely enjoyed the iMovie project more than the WebQuest one. They were both very helpful in terms of what I can use in my classroom someday, but i Movie was just much easier to format and use altogether. The hardest thing about both of the projects was finding something in English that would be applicable. There are only so many different genres of books and literature, and making everything different is difficult. However, I am grateful that I found something that worked.

WebQuest is a project that is very useful in the classroom. Although I don't think that I will necessarily be using many of them in my own classroom, doing this project helped me learn the time and thought process that goes into a full project for students. That lesson itself will be great once I get into my own classroom. It also demonstrated the thought that needs to go into making a project work for every student. Some of the students would understand a brief outline, but others don't. Therefore I am very thankful that I got to experience using both the WebQuest and iMovie/Photostory software.

Photostory and Webquests

Concerning photostory, I really enjoyed working with the program. I know that in the future I will use it in order to create possible lessons or even for personal photo projects. I think it's a fun program to work with that has great potential to be a strong aid for a class in any subject.

Concerning webquests, I think that when teachers create them, they should be a little more realistic about the questions and expectations that go along with them. I understand that is a main reason why modifications were a necessary part of this project. But it is helpful to know that webquests can be modified depending on class needs.

Both of these technologies will be very helpful in future class settings in order to help instruct and clarify information. They make learning fun and engaging, which is extremely important for any classroom.

Photostory and Webquest

I really enjoyed creating a photo story. I have seen photo stories used during my observation hours and I have found them to be very effective tools. It is a creative way to present information and it keeps the students engaged.

I also thought that creating an LD webquest was an excellent learning experience. It's important to remember to break information down into steps for students so that seemingly difficult concepts can be understood. I also think that a webquest is a great way for students to learn something new while using technology. It teaches students how to search for things on the internet; which is something they will be doing quite a lot in older grades. Understanding how to navigate a website or use a search engine is important, and one of the most effective and entertaining ways to do so is to use a webquest.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chapter 7 - English

This chapter presented several good ideas about how to use WebQuests in an English classroom. I have never used WebQuest in any of my classes as far as I know, and so this was a whole new type of technology to explore. English presents many different opportunities for using WebQuest in the classroom. It reminded me a little bit of the Excel projects that we did, because there were several ideas about how to present new material to students. I would love to use this technology to help my students understand literary terms and concepts. Those are quite often looked over by teachers in the classroom, or quickly gone over. Therefore it would be a great advantage to students to be able to have another way of learning the material outside of the classroom.

Another point that I thought was very useful was the fact that in order to find a WebQuest that is suitable for students, the teachers should complete the WebQuest by him or herself. This is something so simple, but yet it is often forgotten. I definitely want to use WebQuests in my classroom, and I want to make sure that my students have every chance to learn that they can get. It is so important that the WebQuest works for every student, so adaptation is key. I remember working on my podcast project and picking a video that was presented in American Sign Language, so that if I have a student who is deaf in my classroom, they will be able to participate the same way as other students. In that respect, it is extremely important to adapt WebQuests to your students' needs. I want to teach my students the material in the most effective manner, and WebQuest provides a great opportunity for thorough teaching.

Chapter 7: Word Processing

This chapter was another very helpful one. There were lots of suggestions for fun activities in the classroom. Some great activities included a poetry study, writing stories, writing field trip reports, and making charts. All of these projects sound very interesting, and I think many students would enjoy doing them. They are fun and easy to do. Promoting creativity while using technology has been something that we have been worried about, and there are some great ideas in how to do so.
There are a few negatives associated with the use of technology. For one thing, you can't just take your kids outside and write a story. The environments are more limited than a pen and paper while in school. Another issue is the fact that some students will become too reliant on the technology. For example, many students are terrible spellers, but have just learned to use spell check. A student never has to learn basic rules like spelling and grammar if the computer will check them every time.
There are many positives about using Word Processing. One of the major perks is improving legibility. I, for one, have terrible handwriting, and the use of Word Processing would really help to make sure that everyone is able to read what the child is saying. Word Processing is also cool because there are many templates and other resources available to make many more things. If creating a project, you might not have time to create a ton of charts, but using technology might help you to create them more quickly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Math Webquests

Like Danielle previously mentioned, my idea of a Webquest was a random search on the internet for information relating to a noted topic. After reading this chapter, my impression has improved greatly. Webquests seem like a great tool to have in the classroom to, yet again, allow students to dive into the material and experience it hands-on.

Not only will Webquests familiarize students with the internet, but they can also improve many skills involved in everyday math problems. The main advantages discussed in the chapter were improvements in problem solving, reasoning, communication, making connections, and representing the information. All five of these strategies are extremely beneficial in a math classroom and later in life.

One major thing a teacher has to keep in mind when introducing a Webquest activity is its purpose. Its intent is not to have a student go to his or her favorite search engine and blindly look for answers. It is a way to learn where to find useful, reliable information, figuring out what that information means, and how to present the results made in the requested manner. Through all of the projects we have done this semester, we all have stressed the importance on keeping the purpose in the forefront. A teacher's purpose cannot get mixed up when teaching an important concept.

Elementary: Word Processing

After reading Chapter 7, I definitely found a few pros for using word processing in the classroom. Again, it's hard for me to think about replacing hand written work with computers. I think it's very important for students to practice English by hand because it helps them recognize letters, etc. But seeing as students today will probably be working on computers more than using their written hand, then word processing is great practice.

I liked the fact that while using word processing students are able to find more colorful words using the thesaurus. This will help students build their vocabulary! I also am completely for keyboarding classes. The keyboarding class that I took in 5th grade was one of the most important classes that I have taken in my schooling career. So many of what we do is on the computer, involving typing; it is crucial that we learn at an elementary level the proper fingering etc. for typing!

I also liked the creative word processing activities planned in this chapter. I really liked the hundreds chart idea where the students use a table to create a reference tool for math. Field trip reports, research reports, and virtual e-mails were all great ideas for the classroom as well. Using word processing to write poems is also a great idea. It's a great way to help students creatively present their poems. It also helps students grasp the ideas of using images in word processing.

In general, I thought this chapter was very helpful and I agreed with most of what was said. The Computer Apps. courses that I took in high school have been very helpful over the years and I would have loved to have the chance to learn more about word processing programs at a younger age.

Ch. 13 - WebQuests

WebQuests are a great way for students to explore the internet in order to find information. This gives students the opportunity to learn how to search for information on the internet. Therefore, the students would be able to learn how to research information as well as learn the questions being asked about math. By creating a worksheet that correlates with the WebQuest, students will be able to use problem-solving and understand mathematical concepts to complete the task at hand. This is a very effective way for student with learning disabilities to comprehend the material. Having a step-by-step worksheet that gives the students a structured way to learn.
When working with students with special needs, it is important to use visual interpretations of the material. This can help those students really understand the content because they are able to see how it works. Given a specific task, the students can partake in the activity with a certain goal in mind. It is a great way for students with special needs to learn in a way that is structured towards their specific needs. By creating a worksheet that directly correlates with the activity, the students will be able to focus on finding the answer for each question.

Math WebQuests

Until reading this chapter and the article about adapting Webquests for students with learning disabilities, I was under the impression that a Webquest was simply a scavenger hunt online. I am pleased to learn the variety of topics Webquests can take on as well as their benefits.

I feel it is important to note that Webquests need to be step by step activities in which the students use the internet, but are not spending their time "Googling." Rather, sites are provided in the Webquest to guide their research. This makes this process less open ended and optimizes the time spent doing the activity, since they are not wasting time looking at poor quality sites.

Since we are just starting our Webquest projects everyone should keep in mind the quality of the sites you chose. Sites that are too wordy will be hard for students with disabilities to use because the important information is hidden between long sentences. Try to pick sites that are visually appealing, engaging and easy to read so that you give equal opportunity for all of your students to succeed.

At the end of this math chapter a list of suggested Webquests are given and I am weary of some of them. While the basketball example that Jessica spoke of is engaging and interesting for most all students, some of the examples given seem unappealing. My topic for this project is geometry and one of the suggested Webquests is about quilting. Although this may appeal to some students, I believe that many would not benefit from this real-life application. Thus, let's all try to chose topics that are not gender specific and that can inspire our students by showing them some interesting applications of math!

Chapter 7- Word Processing

Chapter 7 was about word processing the the benefits that can take place within the classroom from using it. The chapter starts off by talking about how using word processing for writing papers or any sort of writing assignment can prove beneficial. If you have bad handwriting for example, using word processing eliminates any distraction one might have from reading work that is not neatly written. It also gives students the ability to check their spelling and correct sentence format as well as many other grammatical tools. Word processing can also make a work more aesthetically pleasing with the use of wordart, clipart, colored fonts, and much more.

This Chapter also brings up the issue of typing and just how early students should learn proper typing techniques. According to this chapter, it is commonly disagreed on when students should be introduced to typing. Some argue it should be taught as early as kindergarten and others say as late as junior high. I think that learning it the earlier the better. Like the previous chapter on technology, we know that technology is such a large part of education these days and it is only becoming more prominent. I think that if students are introduced to it early on, they will have an easier time adapting to the constant changes. I also think that the programs students can use on the computer are fun and educational. On the other hand, I also find it vital that students know and learn the importance of handwriting. There are a lot of situations in life that require hand written material. I think that a good balance of teaching handwriting skills and typing/word processing skills is optimal for a classroom.

Chapter 13, Math: WebQuest

WebQuest is an "inquiry-oriented activity in some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet" (13). Basically, WebQuests present a difficult problem to students and then allow students to use online resources to solve the problem. WebQuests can be used to teach mathematics through problem solving, representation, reasoning and proof, connections, and communication. Although there are many topics (ie. calculus, algebra, data analysis, geometry) that can be covered through WebQuests, the one topic that seems to fit the most is data analysis. Many of the examples listed in the chapter relate to using the internet to collect data and then using math skills to represent and interpret that data.
This chapter gave an example of using a WebQuest to link math and basketball. Students had to collect data on offense, defense, and win-loss records of teams. Then, the students represented the collected data in bar graphs. After this, the students used reasoning to find the link between offense, defense, and win-loss records. So not only did the teacher incorporate a fun topic into the classroom, but also the teacher presented the students with problem solving, connections, representation, and reasoning. And all this was done through a WebQuest.
I hope I can make WebQuests for each topic I teach because it ensures that students are actively involved in learning.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chapter 7, Elementary Word Processing

This chapter focuesed on different ways & times to implement word processing in a classroom. There are many beneficial things that would come from using word processing such as instant feedback about spelling errors with options for corrections, students can learn to use the built-in thesaurus, & word processing in general eases the editing process. There are also positives for teachers when students use word processing. The writing would all have the same legibility so that the teacher can focus on the words & ideas without being distracted by sloppiness. This chapter also introduced numerous projects that students could do by using word processing once they've understood how the program functions. Introducing the students to different elements of word processing can help spark ideas on how to improve their work & display their learning experiences.
I think that introducing & using word processing at a young age could be extremely helpful for students as long as they have knowledge about how to type. As chapter 7 addressed, students' ability to type will greatly affect the success of word processing within the classroom. The question is when is the appropriate age to teach & enforce keyboarding? Many teachers & parents have varrying opinions which creates inconsistancy within a school. I think that if the school or district as a whole could discuss this matter & make a decision as to when students should learn keyboarding, then word processing could be used to its fullest potential.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter 6: Drawing Elementary

This chapter stressed the importance of elementary students using drawing softwares to enhance their creativity and expression. Programs like these can be especially helpful to support non-linguistic representation. The visuals that the children create can be very helpful to represent vocabulary or curricular concepts.

At first, I wondered why it would be more beneficial for a child to use a computer to draw rather than doing it by hand. In the book, it mentions that students need to learn how to manipulate a mouse and keyboard. It is also mentioned that the computer can motivate some students more than a box of crayons can. It would also be helpful for non-literate students to express themselves through drawings.

I do like the idea of children using this software and expressing themselves through it, but I don't think I would rely on it. I still feel like hand made drawings, especially for younger elementary students, would be the better option. As the students get older, the software would help when designing diagrams of the water cycle or drawings of habitats. I also feel like younger students, such as kindergarteners, would like the idea of actually using crayons and markers as opposed to a computer program. I wouldn't mind using a computer program as a tool, but I would not rely on it.

Chapter 10 - English

This chapter was not what I expected it to be, nor did it live up to the new technology that I thought it would. The majority of the chapter was about the different ways to structure Power Point. Yet what made me question some of the material was the way in which the authors discussed how much text should be on a page. The sample pages showed hardly any pictures and way too much text. They made a point of saying that the students that are really shy are more willing to present a topic when they can use Power Point. In my opinion this is not the right approach for students, depending on the use of Power Point.

I like the idea of having an aid for those who are on the shy side, but there is a difference between that and having your whole presentation on the slideshow so that you don't have to do much thinking on your own. I want to help inspire my students to become more confident with their public speaking skills. Developing those skills in high school is extremely valuable, and it cannot be replaced with technology. The technology should aid the student's presentation, not the other way around. I would love for my students to utilize Power Point for their presentations and to show their classmates resources and information that would otherwise be inaccessible. But I want to always make sure that it is my student's knowledge that shines, and that their use of media merely helps them achieve this goal without overtaking the stage.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elementary: Drawing

While observing at Hoose Elementary, I was walking in the hallway when I noticed that one entire wall was covered with computer "paint" drawings of a butterfly. I stared at them for a long time, as I was waiting for my co-op teacher, and thought that they seemed unimaginative and that they all looked the same! I would have loved to see crayon, or marker, or colored pencil drawings of a butterfly. These butterflies all looked identical, and it seemed kind of robotic to me.

After reading Chapter 6, I found that my mind was a little changed in regards to using computer paint programs in the classroom. I definitely agree that they are an excellent tool in teaching younger children that the computer is not just a toy, it is useful! I also agree that drawing projects can help the student practice manipulating a mouse; improving his or her motor skills. Our society is turning "totally technological" and I think it's great that programs, such as the ones discussed in the chapter, are helping to prepare students for the future. Yet I still just can't help but to think that art projects that aren't computer generated have a certain charm to them that can't really be replaced. Even after reading the chapter it's still hard for me to think that diagrams/pictures/drawings are better when they're computer generated.

As a teacher I will definitely be using the programs mentioned in this chapter ---- I just will not use them all the time. When my siblings show me their art projects from school, they are all "comptuer-ized". They have barely gotten to experience making a home made project. I understand that creating something on the computer is its own type of art, I just think that in elementary schools today, it can become overused - I've watched it with my brothers and sisters.

Math 18 - Role of Technology

According to chapter 18 of Technology-Supported Mathematics Learning Environments, there are five ways in which technology is being implemented in the modern mathematics classroom. First, technology is used as a management tool to help teacher and student organization and efficiency and to "facilitate their classroom activities" (p. 278). Second, it is given the role of a communication tool in order to help teachers connect with students, parents, colleagues, and other schools. Third, technology is used as an evaluation tool which provides teachers with feedback as to students' progress in the classroom. Fourth, it becomes a motivational tool which encourages and engages students in their exploration of mathematics. And fifth, and supposedly most importantly, technology is used a a cognitive tool which works to represent difficult, abstract concepts in new ways which are easier for students to understand.

I think that all of these reasons are excellent and support the idea that technology is a necessary component of any mathematics classroom. As long as technology is not abused or solely relied upon, but rather implemented as one or all of these tools, it can only benefit the students and teachers who use it. I agree with the statement on page 289, "Equally essential is that we use technology thoughtfully... so that we are not merely implementing technology for the sake of technology itself."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Math- Chapter 18

There is a push being made to incorporate technology into classrooms. However, "the new visions of technology-rich classrooms called for by national and state standards pose great challenges for teachers" (Knuth, 277). The majority of the educators currently in the field teaching are not familiar with the use of technology nor the new advancements being made everyday. They did not grow up being taught with technology in the classroom and thus, are not comfortable using it. Luckily, we are in a whole different ball park. Although our teachers may not have used technology very often, growing up we got glimpses of how it could be used: successfully or not. Especially with all that we are learning in this course, we will be very prepared to enter the education field using the technological advancements that the nation and state wants. It is exciting to think that we really are the future of education! We will be able to bring in fresh ideas and even teach other teachers our newest technology uses. 

Since the important parts of the chapter have been well summarized by the other math majors, I thought I would mention one part of the chapter that stood out to me. There are many good reasons to use technology. As Jessica pointed out, technology can help in management, collaboration, assessment and learning. However, we must make sure that when we are using technology in our classrooms that we are using it to support one of those aspects. As the authors of the chapter point out, it is essential that "we use technology thoughtfully, in meaningful ways so that we are not merely implementing technology for the sake of technology itself" (289). Doing so would take away from all the advantages technology has to offer. So don't just show some video or podcast or other online media to your class just to say you used technology. Make sure you use quality technology to help your students learn and become engaged.