Eureka!

Monday, October 31, 2005

WebQuesting

It took some time to figure out just what a webquest was. At first I thought it might be a specific program, but it turned out to be a model, or a template, in which to provide students with a directed method of performing Internet based research. The webquest provides clear structure on what needs to be covered and addressed in the research assignment and an outlined format in which to go about researching – they put content into context. Effective webquests should be organized by: Introduction, Task, Process, Resources, Evaluation and Conclusion. Instructions should be simple and clear, information should be Internet based supplemented with other sources. The lesson should be relevant and have curriculum connections. There are many examples on the Web to illustrate good webquests and also how webquests lend themselves to all discipline areas.

One of the first things to consider when deciding to use webquests in your classroom is the availability of computers. Should students work in pairs, in labs or at home, and are there enough computers in the classroom? Pending that, the webquest needs to be designed, tasks developed, references, links, evaluation/rubrics established and site hosting and other problems met. Once done, the webquest needs to be verified prior to student assignment. All links should be valid and the lesson clean and ready for presentation. Although the webquest can be presented to students as a paper-copy assignment, web site hosting makes for more efficient processing by students. I see webquests as an interesting, interactive and inviting way to present in depth content learning to students.

Student Internet Use and the 3 Ps

As the Internet is used more and more in our classrooms, not to mention at home, teachers have a responsibility to educate students about critically viewing sites they visit. As teachers our role is not to prevent our students from seeing commercial propaganda, but rather, it is to equip our students with the necessary decoding and analyzing skills to properly assess and make decisions about what they are viewing. It is our responsibility as teachers to ensure students have the “savvy” to understand what they are seeing. Really, even if we wanted to remove commercialism it would be impossible. The Internet is increasingly becoming invaluable, indispensable and completely integrated into the curriculum. Most web sites are sponsored by or are promoting one product or another. It is impossible to avoid.

Propaganda and persuasion are potentially inconvenient and costly, however, the third P word, perversion is downright dangerous. Education of potential dangers regarding providing personal information is not only necessary, but would be negligent not to. The Internet is increasingly becoming a place for (potential) child abusers to stalk their prey.  Students must be wary of how and where they release identifying information.  Chat rooms, should always be anonymous and free from identifiers.

We must teach our students to “surf” wisely, with the intelligence and critical thinking skills needed to deduce and respect the 3 Ps – propaganda, persuasion and perversion for what they are - something to get the student to do something they might not do otherwise. Then students will be better equipped to make informed decisions regarding how they respond to what they come across online.




Sunday, October 23, 2005

Using Spreadsheets

Using Spreadsheets for Educational Purposes


Spreadsheets can be used in very creative ways. They can be used to enhance math by adding graphic colour to otherwise lifeless stats while improving basic computer skills. They can organize characters and plot lines. They can timeline current affairs and historical events and they can be a tool for student organization. Their greatest use, however, is their ability to keep track of grades, to chart student progress, organize loose data collection, provide a tool for predictions and calculate scores and percentages. Specifically Excel, spreadsheets can be a teacher’s best friend.

In the past I used Excel to create graphs that plotted student behaviour occurrences over time. This allowed me to see which type of behaviours were most prevalent and when they occurred. For the same student I also plotted graphs that showed four different categories of general assessment for each averaged week (academic, social, physical, mental). The student and I each filled out our own daily assessment sheet, which was then plotted as a weekly average. The two graphs were then compared. This allowed us to see how the student perceived his own behaviour categories against how I perceived them. The results were interesting. As the points of the graph were weekly, I was able to see correlations between the annual calendar and expected or unexpected point drops. Excel made this job exceedingly simple.

If Computers were in abundance I could see the potential for students to use it as a tool to assess personal growth and learning by keeping track of summative assessment results and/or other criteria.  It could also be a great way to provide a quick visual or graphic organizer for a portfolio.  I would think that Excel would be best taught to students in a computer class timeslot.  Reinforcement via use in other classes would help to increase and maintain the skills learned.  

I am beginning to like “about.com,” it has tutorials, games, quizzes, and numerous other resources on just about anything you can imagine. This is their Excel basics tips and tutorial page. Well, worth checking out if you haven’t already.
http://spreadsheets.about.com/od/excel101thebasics/

This site is a complete course on learning Excel.
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pages/Excel/

This site has an abundance of ideas and linked sites for tutorials and how to use in the classroom.
http://www.amphi.com/~technology/amphionline/ss/ssindex6.htm

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Just Checking

I’m just trying out posting directly from Word.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Considering Concept Maps

Concept mapping is a technique for representing knowledge in a visual format. A concept map may have many concepts, or ideas, that are expanded upon and linked together. This visual makes it easy for students to see structures and relationships. Concept maps are great for generating ideas and for assisting in designing outlines and plotlines. They can be invaluable tools for making sense of complex structures, such as websites and novels or other large texts.

Concept maps work well by the “rule of three,” three words per concept box, three concept boxes per greater concept. It is a balance construct compositional rule used in art. If concept maps become too visually cluttered it can be difficult to follow. Although concept mapping itself may not be an issue, if technology is being used, the technology may be an issue, especially for elementary users. The program needs to be learned – with all the little quirks and idiosyncrasies – it takes time to get to know the program.

Concept mapping should be taught. There are rules to learn to make it easier. Teaching concept mapping in mini-lessons across the curriculum and then introducing and teaching mapping software, such as Inspiration, (ICT inclusion) should work to provide a good basis for technology integrated curriculum related assignments. ICT outcomes such as: C. 4. 1. 3.; C. 4. 2. 2.; F. 2. 1. 2.; F. 2. 2. 1-3-5.; F. 6. 1. 1-2.; F. 6. 2. 1-4.; F. 6. P. 1-6., can be considered by specific use of electronic concept mapping.

Referencing Technology

Comparative Poster Making (Traditional vs. Modern Technology)

Grade level: Grade 11

Subject: Art 20/21

General Learner Outcome: Creation. 4. The student will become aware of how artists work with the components of artifacts: media, techniques and visual elements.

Specific Learner Outcome: Students will observe the impact of technology on the creation of artifacts.

ICT Outcomes:
C. 1. 1. 1. Access and retrieve appropriate information from electronic sources for a specific inquiry.
C. 6. 1. 3. Use technology to support and present conclusions.
P. 3. 1. 2. Create visual images by using such tools as paint and draw programs for particular audiences and purposes.

Activity:
Students will use the Internet to research Toulouse-Lautrec’s style and process of making posters. Students will then design a poster, stylized after Toulouse-Lautrec, to promote an upcoming school event. Students will create two different versions of the same design: one version of the poster using traditional media and one version of the poster using software, such as Adobe Illustrator and PaintShop. Students will then write a 500 word reflection on their experience of using the different media. Students will address how technology can impact the intentions and productions of an artist. How might Toulouse-Lautrec’s works have differed if he’d had PaintShop Pro at his disposal?

Reference Section: Use the references as a starting point for research

ArtCyclopedia, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec art links/last verified Sept. 7-8, 2005, Retrieved October 1, 2005 from
http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/toulouse-lautrec_henri_de.html

Tesoro Gallery, Retrieved October 1, 2005 from
http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Toulouse.html

Rationale for Computer Integration: It is important that students have an understanding of how technology has affected the art making process. One way to develop this understanding is to have students make direct comparisons between the creation process and the end products of the different processes by having experienced those processes equally.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Technology Outcomes and PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a powerful tool for creating high impact presentations. Technology outcome P. 3. 4. 1. requires students to independently select and use multimedia capabilities for presentations in various subject area. One assignment for grade 10 English students is to create an original multimedia presentation utilizing visual, audio and written material in order to convey the meaning of a poem. Students could easily create an effective and impacting presentation using PowerPoint. PowerPoint is designed to include, not only visual presentations, such as graphics and written text, but also to incorporate audio and hyperlink. The resulting presentation would draw upon learning from across the curriculum. Due to the graphic nature, balance, composition, line, texture and placement for directing eye contact all come into play. This pulls from both art and science. Language skills are necessary for spreading out content so it is not only relevant but also concise and structured. The possibilities are endless – no longer do film slide projectors and overhead projectors need to be coordinated and fiddled with during the presentation. PowerPoint is a powerfully inclusive program that can help teachers and students meet the SLOs for Communication and Information Technology.

Addressing Technology Integration

Good technology integration is when... a teacher can comfortably navigate PowerPoint during a lesson and the PP presentation is clear, not too fancy, contains key words and highlights key point. I personally like this approach because I find the visual helps me to stay focused and that if I am taking notes and I don’t know how to spell a word new to me, but is a key word for the lesson, I don’t need to worry, I can just copy it down. Where technology can go wrong is when the presenter is unfamiliar with the technology, the mouse is all over the place, the graphics are too distracting. It can be difficult to stay focused. I would suppose funding and allocation of available funds to be the greatest barrier to integrating technology in the classroom. Teachers, even with the right know-how, cannot utilize technology efficiently without the right tools.

On Thursday morning my partner and I had our first miniteach. We used PowerPoint, I found it easy to set up. One thing I really do appreiciate about PP is the last minute changes that can be made, very last minute. It is also a great tool for keeping you on task during the presentation. As the key points are present there is not very much straying off topic.
Also, the slides can be printed off into a convienent handout.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Very First Creative ICT Blog Entry Title


Wow, honestly where does one begin when starting up a public domained journal entry? Publication without the expertise of a publisher, or at the very least an editor, to ensure your words, grammer, syntax and other idocyncracies of the written English language are presented acceptably. What a challenge! Right, take a deep breath, relax and let the mind wander through the task at hand. Which is relaying my response to blogging in education.

My first experience of blogging was neither positive or negative. I passed over it as time consuming and dry. Of course this stems from the nature of the blogs I had come across, topics such as computer techie support and ideas. This was years ago however. Since then I have read blogs that revealed teenage angst and life confusion, gardening tips, politics, publishing, and many more subjects. I have begun to see blogs changing. Blogs are now used as resume enhancements, particularily in the creative arts. Wanna-be writers try to entice publishers to read their daily-column style blogs in hopes that a well timed submission will result in hardcopy publication, or at the very least a more noteworthy or paid on-line publication.

I have always met the idea of the blog with mixed thoughts. On more than one ocassion I have come across a personal blog that promotes ideas I found offensive, if not scary. This is a media which is not policed in the public domain. I hope that there are persons striving to remedy this. Freedom of (written) speech should only be as free as it does not infringe on the well being of others. Regardless, having said that, this entry is about blogging in education. I will assume then that we are speaking of schools where it is possible to police blogs. Students and staff should be held accountable to a standardized set of screwples - code of online conduct. Educational blogging needs to be above all be safe. Safety allows for trust, which in turns fosters an environment for sharing creatively, expression and analysis.

With this in mind, the blog could potientially be the greatest tool to reach the classroom, nay the educational community. This tool allows the quiet child to express themselves so their ideas, skills, mental attributes and knowledge penetrate the minds of their classmates and teachers revealing what might be missed in classroom only discussions. The class clown can still keep his humour, but he would be without the immediate gratification of class giggles, which just might allow him time for reflection and analysis. Inhibitions can be dropped so a greater sense of community can be gained. In the video suggested in this, our first module, one of the students discusses a professional mentor assisting with her writing. Phenomenal. Imagine the implications of educational/professional collaborations. Most obviously in journalistic or creative writing, but in any subject area.

As an administraton tool blogging surpasses notice boards and e-mail. Importantly, blogging is web based. There is significantly less threat of virus than when compared to email. Information is archived automatically and is easily accessible. Communication is fast, comments and responses are direct and accessible by many. And if used for homework assignments, there can be no excuse for work not handed in, short of mortality - of person or internet. (Dare I remind myself.)

One of the greatest attributes of blogging, from my point of view, as a parent with internet access, is that I can see what is going on in my childs education on a more direct level, I may even have the opportunity to participate more directly. I may be able to become active in my childs education in a more positive way than, "is your homework finished yet?" The teacher may post notes, which will help me determine how best to assist in homework assignments posted by the teacher. Of course not to be a hard case on my child, but so I may help, such as accomodating the evening schedule.

As a teacher, I could communicate in a more expidicious manner. I would know that there is no excuse that parents have not recieved the "hand-outs." Parents can no longer say, "I didn't receive it" or "my child didn't bring it home." I would be able to interact with my students on their level using their interests. Connecting with them in a way simply not possible in the classroom. I would hope to see some of the minds of my students more authentically, how they actually perceive the world and their surroundings without the insecurities that are most often present. I would hope to see the exterior facade disipate as the inner self has a safe mode of expression. And I would be able to interact with administrators effectively through blog communications, logging my activities and records, keeping track of goals, and other housekeeping tasks (using a secured password protected blog). At least that is some thought on usage possibilities.

Well, I believe I have shown to meet the objectives set out in Module 1 for the blogging experience, all-be-it a wee bit long. I am looking forward to adding entries in this blog, though a little less wordy.

I'm adding a nice quote I heard today, by an unknown source,
"Students will not care to know, until they know you care."

Cheers.
B.