Monday, October 31, 2005


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 “,” 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.

This site is a complete course on learning Excel.

This site has an abundance of ideas and linked sites for tutorials and how to use in the classroom.

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.

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

Tesoro Gallery, Retrieved October 1, 2005 from

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.