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.