It is very important to have specific goals when teaching with technology. Is the goal for the students to learn content information? Is it the technology they should learn? Maybe a little bit of both? Without a focus, the lesson can get lost or overwhelmed by the technology, or the technology could be overshadowed by the content. I am guilty of this from time to time and have to remind myself of what it is I am trying to teach. I something find the "coolest" new program or software and spend more time teaching the program than addressing content. Making sure to keep technology integration in check and in line with goals is incredibly important in the classroom.
I'm normally pretty picky about technology to begin with, but my evaluations are typically more informal and I keep them to myself. I was glad that we were encouraged to try technologies that we might not consider, specifically webquests, and that we got to share our feelings with our classmates (and the world via MERLOT). I am not a fan of webquests and would have NEVER considered using one in my classroom. In my experience webquests tend to be old, complete with outdated links and hideous (or non existent) graphics. After seeing how easy it was to create one, however, I would now be more willing to do webquests with my class, as long as it is something I have created and geared specifically towards my students. I did like the one that I found to review, but it took so long for me to find one that I felt I could actually use that I probably would have been better off just creating my own to begin with. I do appreciate the fact that this class got me to try it, and actually find a place for it in my teaching. I also really like that we were encourage to created blogs for this class. I normally stick with Google products (sites, blogger, etc...) but I figured that I would try out Weebly since I've heard a lot about it. I really enjoyed it and currently have one of my students "beta testing" it for me while I decide how to best implement it with my students (and stick to my curriculum goals). I'm hoping to have each student maintain their own webpage next year once I figure out how I will tie it in.
My primary goal for this course was to create some materials that I could use with my third grade students. I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal! I am happy with the lesson I created, especially after revising. It is based on an activity that I already do each year, but the additions will make it even better next time. I was also pleased with the Native American webquest that I created. I had a lot of fun thinking of the adventure on which I could take my students! I also think the Earth's Changes StAIR will be a great tool to use in my science class. I can see using this to remediate and reinforce our class lessons. I will be on maternity leave for part of the 2013 school year, so I think I may make several other StAIRS for the substitute to use during that time.
One goal that I am planning to start working on over the summer is converting to a "flipped" classroom. I'm going to start with science, and eventually expand to incorporate more subjects. We already have a subscription to Discovery Education, which has tons of great videos that I'll be able to use. In addition to the premade videos, I plan to make a series of simple science videos, which I will upload to my class website and burn on to DVDs so that they will be ready as needed (DVDs for students without internet access at home). I also like the idea of incorporating a StAIR into the flipped class as a different means to presenting the information. I wouldn't have thought of that before this class. I think this is an achievable goal and one that will be beneficial for the students and for myself.
I can hardly believe that it is already week 7 and that this course is wrapping up already! This week we had to spend some time exploring the work of our classmates on MERLOT and providing feedback for their contributions. I think they all did such a great job and included great technology that I hope to bring into my own classroom. Below are a list of the reviews that I've completed:
Review 1: Atoya M - Digital How-to Books Lesson Plan
Review 2: Atoya M - Haiku StAIR
Review 3: Jason M - Musical Interpretation and Personal Reflection Lesson Plan - Not listed on MERLOT
Review 4: Jason M - Carbon Bonding Kiosk StAIR
Review 5: Marcy H - Am I a Member of My Community? Using Web 2.0... Lesson Plan
Review 6: Marcy H - Writing with a Purpose: Understanding ELA Common... StAIR
Review 7: Sara G - Using Web 2.0 Graphic Organizers to Plan... Lesson Plan
Review 8: Sara G - Can You Hear It? StAIR
We also had join MACUL and participate in the discussion about face to face instructional strategies. Spicing up face to face instruction with technology can help to engage the students and make learning more relevant for them. I am a technophile and already use quite a bit of technology in my face to face instruction, including PowerPoint, Prezi, YouTube, Discovery Education videos and simulations, LCD projector, MimeoTeach whiteboard, document camera, Google Nexus tablet, and my iPhone. I am in the process of integrating Google Docs into my classroom, allowing for students to collaborate and complete assignments online. I have also started two of my students on blogger, sort of as a beta test before going to full class integration. Over the summer, I am planning to plan and organize a wiki for my students to use throughout our study of Michigan history and geography. I think this will be a great tool which will allow for collaboration and cooperative learning.
This week, we have been looking into the Michigan Merit Curriculum Online Experience Guideline Companion Document. It has provided me with a great list of technologies to use with my students. I'm actually familiar with quite a few of the listed technologies, including WebQuests, Discovery Education, and podcasts, as well as some not listed, like Google Sites, blogger, Weebly, Twitter, First in Math, and more.
Last week's introduction to wikis has gotten me more interested in incorporating a wiki into my classroom, specifically wikispaces.com. I have read wikis, but prior to last week I had never taken part in the collaboration element of a wiki. I envision using this collaborative technology to teach Michigan history and geography content based on the Michigan GLCEs for third grade, although it is so flexible that I could easily adapt it for any of the subjects that I teach. I think that we could use a wiki as an ongoing tool to record, expand, and share our research about our state. It would be fantastic if we could connect with another group of third graders in the state to take the collaboration to a higher level.
In addition to the cooperative learning that naturally accompanies a wiki, the students would also be taking part in project based learning. Each unit of study could include a project in which the students would participate, using the wiki to plan, collaborate, and present findings.
A wiki would be a pretty simple tool for third graders to manage, as they simply need to login and click edit on the page they wish to change. Embedding video and pictures may be a bit trickier, but by using this throughout the year, the students can be eased into more challenging skills.
A few weeks ago, I had to create a StAIR, or Stand Alone Instructional Resource. At the time, my students were learning about the natural ways that the Earth changes. I thought that this would be a great topic on which to focus my StAIR project. This is intended for use with my third graders, so it is not as interactive as some of the other projects, although it does have several questions for the students to answer throughout the StAIR. I also narrate throughout the presentation, making it easier for my students to get the most out of this resource and to keep them engaged in the material. I would ideally use this as a means of remediation for a student that was absent or struggled with mastering the concept.
Click here to view the MERLOT entry for this resource.
StAIR Creation – Overall I thought this was nicely done. Generally the user controls the StAIR with its interactive buttons. You provided little interaction for the user. Since you narrated everything I assumed (no, I do not go back and read the designs) your audience was too young to do a good job of controlling the resource. This would indicate that knowing the audience for which the StAIR was created would have been helpful. There is also nothing to indicate a video is expected or anyway to determine how long it will be. If students (or teachers) wanted to skip the video there is no way to do this.
Screenshot of the new Wikipedia page
This week we're learning all about wikis! I enjoyed the lab and assignment this week because I've always wanted to know more about wikis, I just never took the time to sit down and figure it out. I think that wikis can be a great tool for students and really get them thinking about interacting and collaborating online. They are being raised in the technology age, so it is almost a given that they will be taking part in online learning at some point throughout their educational journey. Getting students prepped to collaborate online is setting them up to be successful in the future!
The first assignment was to edit the Wikipedia page for your workplace. My school wasn't listed on Wikipedia, so I created a new page. I initially just wrote a sentence or two to summarize the school, but it was pretty sad looking, so I added more information from my school's website and a picture that I took last year. I made sure to cite the source of the information I used, which is a task in itself on Wikipedia, but I think it looks pretty good and provides viewers with the basics of our school.
The second part of the assignment was to create a wiki. I chose to use Wikispaces.com and found it to be fairly simple to create a wiki (located here). I'm not exactly sure how I will use this with my third graders yet; I will probably wait until the fall the try it out, but I am excited about the possibility of using this with my students. I also created a page on my wiki for teachers to contribute ideas of how I should use this with my students. I invited several members of the class to contribute ideas to the page, so I am anxious to see what they have to say.
Wikipedia Entry for St. Francis de Sales School
St. Francis 3rd Grade Wiki (Wikispaces)
For the past couple weeks, I have also had to create a WebQuest. Can I be honest here? I'm not a big fan of WebQuests, well not normally anyway. I feel like most teachers create them with their students in mind, meaning that the content or information may not perfectly fit with my students. I've also noticed that a lot of WebQuests are old (I mean, they look like they were made in 1996), have broken links, or are way above or below the reading level of my students. Being able to create my own, however, has given me a bit of a different perspective. I am able to send my students on an adventure through time, tying together different subjects, technology, and critical thinking skills.
For my WebQuest, I chose to focus on the Native Americans of Michigan, which aligns with the social studies standards for Michigan. It is nice to have several resources available in one spot that is presented in a way that will be engaging for students. Learning about the Native Americans is first history unit that my students encounter, so I think a WebQuest will help the students ease into history and research. WebQuests narrow the internet and provide the students with suitable resources rather than sending them out to tackle the entire web.
Tribes of Michigan WebQuest
I am loving your work. ^o^
This week in CEP 811, we learned about UDL, or the Universal Design for Learning. As a part of this, I had to reevaluate the lesson I created during week one to see how accessible it is for all learners. It was interesting to look at my lesson plan from a different perspective. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were only a few barriers that I need to remedy. I think I did well with providing multiple means of expression and action. The students are given several choices, ranging from their topic of research to the method of presenting the information they discovery. While reviewing the lesson, I felt that I needed to rethink how I can help the students set goals and self-reflect. I ended up adding an anticipation guide before starting research, as well as a survey for the students to complete after their project is complete. The students will also set a goal for themselves before starting and will reflect on how well they met their goal at the end of the project.
Updated Lesson Plan (Includes updates to address barriers from UDL Checklist)
Application of UDL – Interesting what can happen to a lesson when the UDL concepts are applied. Good job with the changes you have made to your lesson plan. Your lesson plan has a great deal more depth and will certainly be an asset to you and the teachers who find it on Merlot. Nice!!!
Title: "Rocks & Minerals: How We Use Them & How We Get To Them"
Author: Alyssa Manning
This is a webquest for grades 3-5 students focused on the topic of rocks and minerals and their uses. It provides the opportunity for students to discover how rocks and minerals are obtained as well information on how people use these resources. In addition, the webquest provides a real life problem on which students need to choose a stance, a great way to tie in persuasive writing. The WebQuest was designed to meet several New York educational standards for science, but it would also hit several of the MI GLCES for science and writing, as well as some of the Common Core standards for language arts.
This webquest utilizes several effective teaching strategies. Students taking part in this webquest are engaging in active learning as well as critical thinking. They are presented with a problem and have to choose a side and create an argument to support their side based upon the information learned throughout the webquest. The students need to think critically about both sides so that their argument makes sense and achieves their goal.
The internet is the only real tool used in this webquest. Within the task list, there are 6 items for the students to complete. Four of the tasks are websites, one is a slideshow, and the final is a video. The websites could simply be printed and handed out, as could the slideshow, but having the variety of media really makes the technology an important and effective element in this project. There is also a document provided for the students to fill in, which is intended to be printed. I would probably upload as a Google doc, allowing my students to fill it in online. Some of the boxes are small, so keeping it online would allow students to write more than just a few words.
Nuts and Bolts
I felt the best way to learn about this WebQuest was to go through it as a student would. All of the links and images are functional and the site itself is visually pleasing. There is a placeholder for an image visible on the "Teacher Page", but it does not detract from the function of the page. Overall is clean and organized, making it very easy to navigate. Some of the process websites seem older, but the information on each is straightforward and valid. The slideshow included, however, was a little confusing. The questions from the student document don't align all that well with the information on the slideshow. For example, it asks for the first step in mining, but the slideshow doesn't specifically address the steps taken, there is more focus on the processing of the minerals.
I really enjoyed this webquest and look forward to using it in my class. I would suggest revising the questions about the slideshow, which I actually may do myself when I use this with my students. The resources and materials are very well suited for third grade students. It allows for discovery while still providing a structure to guide younger students.
WebQuest – Good job on the commentary for the Rocks webquest. I agree that this one could be fun for students. Were you put off by having the links after the sets of questions/directions? I found this distracting but I suppose it is because of the way the webquest site put things together.
Located at: http://webquest.org
Merlot Database Entry
Quality of Content:
WebQuest.org provides teachers with access to webquests created by other people. It also provides basic, introductory information for teachers about how to create a webquest for use in your own classroom. The information provided seems to be valid and correct.
With that being said, there isn't a lot of information that would be useful in my class without leaving the website. When you chose the "Find a Webquest" link, it brings you to a page that tells you about 4 different webpages that house webquests. The first one, a site through San Diego State University doesn't have a provided hyperlink. The next, QuestGarden, is a pay-for-use service. The most promising is the third, which is called the "Curriculum x Grade Level Matrix". It includes drop-down selections where you can select a subject area and age level. Unfortunately, however, there were no webquests for 3rd-5th grade, which was very disappointing. The final search method was a simple Google Search, which makes me wonder why one would need to visit WebQuest.org. Why not simply start at Google?
On top of that, the most recent news was posted in 2008, which indicated to me that this website has not been maintained much since. For such high reviews on MERLOT, I was disaapointed to see the quality of the information provided.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching-Learning Tool:
While this website does provide some helpful information, namely explaining what a webquest is, it does not provide much more. For a resource that earned 5 stars through MERLOT, I had much higher expectations. I was hoping to find a database with usable resources that I could use in my classroom, but what I found instead was an outdated website that directs you to other websites for information. For other teachers hoping to use webquests in their classrooms, I would suggest that you skip this website and go straight to Google.
Stand-Alone Instructional Resource
I'm Edie - wife, mom, instructional designer,online instructor, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!