Leah Dewhurst’s Weblog

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Major Project: New Technologies I Have Been Working With February 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 11:48 pm

            I am attempting to redesign a unit of study on The Inuit.  I would like to provide new opportunities for learners to explore this topic as well as for my learners to interact with other learners beyond the classroom.

            The first part of my project will begin on Monday.  The first lesson created for this unit will be using the Smart Response system.  Before I begin a topic I usually do a quick anticipation guide to find out their background knowledge on the subject.  This is usually a true and false questionnaire.  I have decided to use the same idea, but instead of using paper and pencil I have created the questionnaire using Smart Response. 

            This is the first time I have used Smart Response in the classroom and as I was making up the questionnaire I can definitely see the benefits of using this in the classroom. The main benefit I see is the data the Smart Response collects for you on each question.  Right after the students have answered the question, you get results on the next page.  You can choose student view, where you can see what each student answered, or a general view, where you see just the results.  Having results tabulated instantly allows for further discussion on certain questions and you can see right away what needs to be further explored or what the students already understand. 

After I get an idea of what the students are interested in, I have created a tour using Google Earth.  I will show the tour to the students, so they get a better idea of what life is like in the Artic. I have set up the tour to stop at major tourist destinations and important cities/villages in Nunavut.  I have also added links, where we are going to compare and contrast our communities.  Hopefully this tour will guide the students to choose a topic they would like to further explore for their Heritage fair project.

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Google Earth February 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 10:05 pm

I have been working on Google Earth for my project.  It has been a fun and frustrating adventure.  I can definitely see the value of Google Earth in the classroom.  As I have playing around with the different tools I have been discovering the wealth of information that it actually provides.  I have discovered within Google Earth is the moon view, which has videos, links, pictures.. .you name it, it has it!!!  What a great resource.  Have to remember this for next year!

I am still working through Google Earth and making a tour for my Inuit unit.  I marked all my places on the map and then discovered the layer option which you can add photos and links.  So needless to say, I am still exploring.  I am hoping to create a movie of the tour if I can actually get to that point.   If anyone has done a tour or knows how to add neat things to the tour please let me know. 

 

Searching For Web 2.0 Tools for a Primary Classroom: DomoNation February 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 9:10 pm

I have been on the hunt for some Web 2.0 tools that could easily be used by primary students.  One that I have been looking at is called DomoNation.    This site the students can create an animations/movies of their choice. What I like about this site, is ease of use. Primary students will definately get the gist about adding characters, features and actions to their slides.  I will definately get my students to try it out once we are back in school from winter break.

Right now we are studying conflict resolution in Health and instead of creating our usual posters or brochures etc. I am going to have my students create a scene explaining how to solve some kind of conflict (example, playing fair during recess).  Stay tuned to see their creations.

 

How Can Schools Can Provide Computer Supported Learning February 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 5:54 pm

               I think schools could implement computer supported learning in ways that authentically transform teaching and learning by approaching technology as integration into lessons and not as an add-on.  The literatures I have read say that schools need to provide an environment in which computer technology is used as a cognitive tool.  Students need to construct knowledge with technology as opposed to merely obtaining information from computers.  So as schools we need to provide meaningful activities that support the construction of knowledge. 

                Collaboration is one key area I believe can be supported by computer supported learning.   An example of collaboration I use in the classroom is literature circles.  I find the process allows my students learn through the interaction of others.  They work together and combine their knowledge to find the solution to the problem. I find the dialogue that takes place between the students during literature circles allows them to refine their understanding of the topic at hand.  Even though literature circles could easily be done without the use of technology, I find when students are interacting with their own classmates as well as with other students online, they seem to be more engaged and motivated. 

                In order to implement computer supported learning, schools need teacher support and expertise (leaders).  In order to provide authentic experiences for the students, schools need the support and expertise of the available tools and which ones will provide that meaningful experience for the students. As said earlier, we don’t want technology to be an add-on, but to be integrated within the lessons.

Here is a link to the voicethread of the forms I use for literature circles. 

http://voicethread.com/share/122263/

 

Sandbox Reminder February 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 8:33 pm

               As the EC&I 832 class gets set to play in our “sandbox,” I read a great blog article by Tanya Roscoria, as sited by Faire Alchemist that had some key points to keep in mind while we play.  As we can easily become “enamoured of the technology… we need to realize that it’s just a tool. Whether the tool is a computer or pencil and piece of paper, they should use it to help their students learn.”  This quote definitely resonated with me as my instructor of the course has passed this message to us in many ways.  There is a lot of fancy technology and tools out there but we need to find the ones that help our students learn best. 

                But as I continued reading this article and the ways technology is being used in many different classrooms, I was in awe. However it brought fourth many questions.  Will my classroom ever become that way?  Will I have access to the tools beings used (such as; netbook computers, document cameras)? Who funds the technology in their schools? Do all classrooms have the same access to the technology available? Who and how many tech teachers are available to in service teachers? And the questions can continue on and on.  I work in a school division who used to have three tech teachers to come out to help and in-service teachers and now we have been cut back to one.  How can we ask teachers to implement technology into their lessons, if there is very little support for them to explore and find ways to implement technology ‘naturally’ as this blog article suggests?

                However, I am glad to see that many of the tools that are used to help students learn such as; Google docs, skype, twitter, facebook, blogging etc. are available for free.  So in the end, I guess, “it’s not all about what the newest and latest and greatest is… It’s all about you have what you want the students to know, and you just have to find the best way to get there with what you have.”

 

My Beliefs About Learning February 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 10:15 am

After reading about the different learning theories I have gained a better insight and appreciation for the different learning theories and their possible application to learning. I use the behaviourist approach when it comes to my reading workshop and the implementing the Daily 5.  There are specific behaviours the students need to complete in order for The Daily 5 to be a success. That means we “train” the students for specific behaviours until it becomes automatic.

I also see myself using an objective approach where I provide the students with an “anchor” before they set sail on the open seas of knowledge. A basic understanding of the material in question I think provides the students with a guiding compass for further travel. This also is applied during the Daily 5 and reading instruction.   With the advancement of technology, it has definitely made it possible for students to get “lost” in their learning and allow for new learning opportunities.  The technology that is available permits us to provide richer and more exciting learning environments.  Connecting and completing projects with classrooms around the world have definitely opened my students’ minds and has made them become more responsible for and active in the learning process.  In the end, I believe there is a place for each theory within the classroom, depending upon the situation and environment.

 

Choice January 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — leahdewhurst @ 9:19 pm

I just read Will Richardson’s blog on “No Choice,” and found it very interesting.  For starters, I’m shocked, but not shocked at the number of hours 8-18 year olds are spending on media.   The New Kaiser Foundation reports, “8-18 year olds devotes an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day.  And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multi-tasking’, they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth media content into those 7.5 hours.”  

So back to the “No Choice” theme Will Richardson brings up in his blog post, because technology continues to play an important role in our society, and integrating technology into the schools will help prepare students to succeed, I agree that technology is transforming society, and schools do not have a choice as to whether they will incorporate technology but rather how well we use it to enhance learning.  As educators we are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  We are teaching new skills such as media multi-tasking; using two or more types of media at once (a skill I am still trying to learn).  If we don’t teach these, is this a disservice to our students?  Like Will Richardson pointed out, “We may not feel comfortable in a world filled with technology. We may not like the way it’s changing things and, even more, how fast it’s changing things. We may not like the way it pushes against much of what we’ve been doing in schools for eons. But our kids don’t have a choice. And if we’re going to fulfill our roles as teachers in our kids lives, neither do we.”  I think that this is such a powerful statement, because it sums up how important it is to integrate technology in schools.