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."