Monday, June 18, 2012

Tool 11: Reflecting

There are so many digital tools out there that it is very difficult to choose a favorite. I tend to gravitate toward the ones that students can use to collaborate and create innovative products. The animation and movie-making tools are the ones that appeal to my own learning style. Other tools that I plan to use include Poll Everywhere and Wallwisher. The 8th grade team tried out just a few of these, but I can see them being used regularly and effectively in the science classroom.

Even though my students had access to some technology this past school year, I am looking forward to having devices in more hands this coming year. Every student will have access to a device so that they can efficiently connect to new information and ideas. I am planning to restructure the layout of my classroom to incorporate an idea I have about using a small group of students as experts. This group will change continually throughout the year so as to allow all students to participate at least once.

Now that I have worked with the 11 Tools, I am more aware of what is available for myself and my students. Though I know that there are many apps and websites out there, I hadn't taken time to actually use many of them. The next step for me is to expand my toolbox even more at an upcoming technology conference.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tool 10: Digital Citizenship

1. Being a good citizen in society requires that we choose to follow rules or laws. Digital citizenship is no different. The world wide web has it's own set of guidelines to help students maintain a safe, secure digital experience. Cyberbullying can disrupt a kid's safety very quickly. I plan to continually verbalize the importance of staying away from this type of activity and reporting any violation they are aware of. One other important aspect of being responsible tech users is original work. My students will be made very aware of the fact that it is wrong to steal another's work and claim it as their own.

2. Of the many resources available, I'm strongly considering using Brainpop (since I already use and like this source) and Atomic Learning to create a lesson on being a responsible internet user before students are allowed to use the classroom technology. I plan on working this summer to create this lesson.

3. For students in the classroom, teachers can lead by example. Using ourselves as models, we can show students what is appropriate, correct, and secure on the world wide web. Using examples of both good and bad internet behavior can spark meaningful and enlightening discussion.

4. At the beginning of the school year, I provide students and parents with a syllabus that outlines my program. This a the perfect opportunity to share digital resources so that parents might be able to check them out, personally. Another opportunity happens at Back to School night. I can stress the importance of cybersafety both at school AND at home.

Tool 9: Incorporating Devices for Learning

Lesson objectives allow teachers to connect student learning to specified state-mandated standards. Having them keeps planning organized, relevant, and meaningful. Using technology to enhance the learning experience is very effective in that it is still somewhat new to many students. Since the objective provides the blueprint for student outcomes, lesson components need to reflect the goal.

Using classroom devices will be especially effective with smaller groups of students. At a station, a lab group can use a variety of apps such as MindMash and iBrainstorm to organize thinking and spark discussion. Content apps such as GoogleEarth and TinkerBox can be used to lead students to discovery  and understanding of science concepts. Smaller groups allow the students to work collaboratively so that tasks are completed and students are held accountable for their own learning.

Having students use the devices to create a simple product that demonstrates understanding of the day's objective serves two purposes. First, it meets the accountability requirement and most importantly, it shows that students are getting it. When kids have fun with the lesson, they will remember it. As I explore the tools presented in each session, I am continually thinking of more and more ways that my students can benefit by being part of this much-needed classroom technology upgrade.

Tool 8: Classroom Devices

As more technology enters the classroom, more management is needed to ensure that students have the most positive digital experience possible. Having a system in place for students to check out the devices makes everyone's life much easier. Though rules are needed to keep students safe in cyberspace, it is important not to make their experience so restricted that they don't have fun learning. 

Last year, I experimented some with online tools to enhance learning. But, my students were restricted by the lack of available equipment. I am looking forward to having these additional devices in my classroom so that all of my kids can participate in the digital experience that I am preparing for them in the upcoming school year.

Tool 7: Online Digital Projects

Connecting with students from other classrooms either close by or far away will allow my students to experience classroom cultures different from our class. Having students collaborate across grade levels, subject areas and cultures broadens the possibilities for new ideas. One project I'm considering would pair up my 8th graders with the 6th graders on our campus.

Content objective:  Given Skype, 8th grade students will evaluate the results of plate tectonic activity by holding a panel discussion with 6th grade classes.

When you plan to implement:  November, 2012

What tool(s) you plan to use:  Skype, Google Docs

A brief description of the project:  Using GoogleDocs, 8th graders will create a discussion document with questions and information about tectonic plate movement. They will communicate with 6th grade classes via Skype and hold a discussion to analyze how plate movement affects Earth. All discussion will be supported by evidence.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tool 6: Using Web Tools To Promote Discussions


This is an example of how we use poll sites such as Polleverywhere in class. We can post a warm-up question and students get to use their cell phones or laptops to answer. They love being able to use their phones in class which makes the experience more meaningful.


Wallwisher is an awesome site that will allow my students to interact with me as well as other students without the stress of having to articulate in class. This will help to clarify and solidify content knowledge.