Sunday, October 4, 2009

Word Processing to Improve Writing

Chapter 8 focuses on the idea of using word processing to improve early writer's writing styles. With the increase of state testing, teachers must teach students in Grades K-2 to master the organizational patterns of writing. Young students can easily master how to write creatively, with lots of voice, yet they need help to understand the structure of sentences and paragraphs - how information is organized. I found it interesting that schools today are using word processing to help young student's understand and ultimately improve their writing. It makes sense! Word processing can easily and very clearly help young writers understand sentence structure through mapping, tables, and colors.

In grade school, we broke down sentences using different color chalk on the board, yet after reading Chapter 8 I found that word processing programs can do the same thing - only faster and easier. I also loved that the chapter included other programs that help with pre-writing or brainstorming. Those programs alone would be enough to convince me that technology can improve the writing skills of small children.

Illuminations

Since Danielle, Ben and Jen gave a good summary of the chapter, I'm not going to reiterate the main ideas of the chapter on Illuminations. Instead, I'm going to focus on one point that stood out to me. Illuminations was built on the idea that "students' understanding of mathematical ideas can be built throughout their school years IF they actively engage in tasks and experiences designed to deepen and connect their knowledge" (223). I completely agree with this statement.
I took a math class (that I will keep anonymous) at Wesleyan and really could not apply the topics to anything that I had previously learned. Furthermore, I could not see how the concepts would be applied to life outside the classroom and to this day I can honestly not tell you one topic we learned that semester. However, I took managerial accounting last year and was able to directly apply what we learned in that class to my job this past summer. I remember a lot more from that class and will be able to use the information in the future. I actively engaged in experiences that deepened my understanding of the subject.
Math is a little harder to connect to the real world than business, which is why this Illuminations website, and others like it, are so beneficial in a classroom. By applying the concepts to something that interests a student (like a summer job), the student is then more able to understand and grasp those concepts.

Chapter 8, Elementary Word Processing to Improve Writing

This chapter discussed the stress from increased state testing that is placed on the tstudents' quality of writing. This pressure tends to intimidate many teachers because it can take longer for young elementary students to grasp the organizational patterns of writing. Chapter 8 gives suggestions of different computer writing softwares that can be used in the classrooms to help iprove writing at the elementary level. The Step Up to Writing Program is a software that is designed to develop and organize pre-writing thoughts. A lot of the problems that younger students display with learning to write is how to generate and then organize all of their ideas.

Different writing computer softwares can help students to form and distinguish their writing skills through color coding and text to table conversion. As this chapter describes, converting the text sentences into a table helps young students to evaluate and revise their thoughts. These strategies can help the teachers stress the importance of revising your work in order to make it the best. I think that computer writing softwares can be beneficial in an elementary classroom because they would help to make ideas clearer and well-developed. I don't think that teachers should entirely depend on these softwares to improve their students' writing skills, but they would be useful in cleaning them up after the skills have been taught. It's important to create a strong writing foundation for students at an early age because writing is a way of communication and assessment.

Ch. 15 - Illuminating Math

In this chapter, I learned how math teachers can use websites, in particular a website called Illuminations, to create an advantageous way for the students to learn. Websites such as Illuminations provide an easy and effective way for the teachers to communicate with his/her students. The websites are intended to engage the students with the multitude of interactive activities. They also contain an abundance of helpful resources for both students and teachers. One of the major goals of Illuminations and other websites is to motivate the students and encourage them to have the desire to learn. The interactive features allow the students to create their own math which draw them in and makes them want to participate.

The most important point that I took from this chapter was that the teachers should continue to learn along with the students. I know that the saying goes, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," but as a teacher, who wants to be classified as an "old dog"? It is vital for teachers to stay on top of the incoming forms of technology and how to incorporate it into the classroom. With technological forms such as Illuminations, it becomes quite easy for students to incorporate technology within the classroom. I believe that it is important for teachers to always search for new ways to become better teachers. By incorporating programs, or in this case websites, into your teaching style, you will be using a new way to engage your students and therefore finding a way to become a better teacher.

For these reasons alone, I find it extremely beneficial for a teacher to use websites within the classrooms. By learning about Illuminations, I realize how wikis sites can be advantageous. They provide ways for students to remain engaged in the content and an easy way for teachers to provide feedback to the students. By using technology within the classroom, teachers are able to create connections with their students and focus on what the needs are for each student.