Monday, April 20, 2009

Salon #5: Are Free Tools Worth the Price?

In this salon, we discussed the accessibility of free web 2.0 tools that we often use with our students and the negative aspects that may come with the "free" territory. Many of us discussed how our students are using these web 2.0 tools and how they may be exposed to unnecessary advertisements and the lack of censorship. In response to this salon, I created an anonymous questionnaire for my students (ages 14-17) to complete as honestly as possible. Student responses were surprising. Many of the students said that they appreciate the use of web 2.0 tools because many have access to the Internet over expensive software. Most agreed that they are learning basic navigation skills and computer skills that put them a step above their peers when they learn how to use these tools in the classroom. Most also agreed that if the web 2.0 is functional enough, they would probably have learned it without the guidance of the teacher. About 90 percent in this particular group said that they were exposed to gambling or x-rated pop-ups when navigating the web (for personal use). Ninety percent of this group has received advertising junk emails, some of sexual nature. Eighty percent are actively involved in social networking sites and have engaged in arguments with friends and strangers on these sites. Thirty percent of students know someone that has sent or seen nudity of a peer on the Internet. Eighty percent of students despise the "block" the school Internet has to protect them from these sites. It seems the students want the freedom to explore the Internet, but it becomes obvious (if it wasn't already) that students need to educated on how to protect themselves on the Internet, especially when using free web 2.0 tools.

Next Vista

video

Monday, January 19, 2009

Me as Mr. Met!

I could use Mr. Met as a guest speaker for my class about good nutrition at the ball park!!!

Me as Mr. Met

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cognitive Views of Learning

How could software applications and/or other technologies help you provide opportunities for your students to access their prior knowledge and better organize new information? That is, describe a lesson for which you might use technology to help with organization and describe the technology(ies) you might use. There are so many ways that technology and software applications can be used for students to connect with material and to organize the material to make it more memorable and accessible. I always teach with images and animations available on the internet and conceptual diagrams with these images. However, just recently I decided to make an assignment for the students to create their own concept map using the equation for photosynthesis and some other bits of information from our class. I felt the easiest and best application for the students to use was Gliffy.com. At the end of the assignment, the students shared their link with me and I posted their concept map on my webpage. I also presented each of their diagrams to the class and printed it for their notebooks. By showing the class each of their diagrams, it was evident how differently each of their minds visualized the material even though it was taught to them in essentially the same way. Here are two of the concept maps built by Yoon, Amber and Julie. I also used Gliffy.com for the students to create animal and plant cell diagrams. A website I love to use with my students to help them organize their information is similar to the traditional flashcards with a more technological twist. I use studystack.com to ask specific questions or to enter vocabulary words into interactive flash cards. The best part about studystack (besides being free) is that once you have entered the information, you can choose a variety of ways to present it. For example, you can enter the information in the form of flashcards but with a click of a button you can play hang-man with the same words or a matching game. In addition, the cards can be printed in a variety of formats for review. I encourage the students to make their own study stacks and to share them with the class for extra credit. Check out Kristina's study stack. All in all, technology helps in cognitive learning by preventing the overload of the working memory and helping the student integrate the material into his/her long-term memory. Technology helps organize the material and makes the material more visual so that it is easier to remember. By creating and producing using technologies, it becomes more evident to the teacher how well the student is understanding the material. Technology is a great facilitator for cognitive learning.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Applications of TEAM to my classes

TEAM is a wonderful learning experience for me. I am using many of the things I am learning in TEAM with my classes at Herricks High School. I used Voicethread for the first time with my Marine Biology class. This class is in the alternative school and I find that the students are incessantly talking in class. So to get them talking about our field trip, I sent them all invitations to a Voicethread slideshow of our field trip. I provided 2 weeks for the students to comment at least 10 Marine Biology facts (more for extra credit). I received a lot of silly comments, but the students for the first time were all actively doing their homework each day, and were excited for me to check it! The next assignment that I tried was a presentation in Google documents with my Regents class. I first had each student register a Gmail account. Next, I taught them in class how to edit a presentation in their account. Students received a week to enter the document and then edit one slide. At the end of the week, each student contributed information that resulted in a 24 slide show. I then copied the slides into keynote, added some effects and music, and then presented the show to the students in class. It was cool and the feedback from the students suggests that they would use this application on their own. Mission accomplished. I am going to try and post these two projects in this blog so you can see them. Voicethread