Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blogging My Journey

Module 5 has focused on assessing student learning. We have reviewed and created rubrics for our traditional assessment, but more importantly we have looked at ways to assess our more advanced student samples. The best resources were the rubrics for technology and web-based student products such as blogs, virtual posters, wikis, web pages, surveys, and publications. Using the rubric as a guideline as you're planning a unit can help you include the exact concepts you are asking the students to know. I was able to take an inventory of how I tend to assess student work, and thus see how I could incorporate different types. This module has also prompted me to look at more student-based assessments, which will allow them to reflect on their performance. Allowing students to create a rubric for themselves before the assignment help encourage and motivate them. I also like the idea of using a blog for student feedback on their products. This would allow other students to see my written comments on all of the projects, and respond to their classmates' work.

As we add new and various types of teaching methods, we need to add more abstract assessment tools. Rubrics can be utilized for most non-traditional assessments. They are also very student friendly and answer many of their questions before they are asked.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Using The Internet Responsibly With Your Students

In the past 11 years ( I can't believe I've been teaching that long ), I have noticed dramatic shift in the role of Internet resources in facilitating and communicating with students. I can remember my first experiences with the Internet..or the Information Super Highway as we called it...in high school. I was in college during what I call the "Internet Boom" when the World Wide Web went from being a misunderstood novelty to an essential part of everyday life. By the time I started teaching, the Internet had found a way to seep into at least some part of all our lives. But I also remember being cautioned of what not to do early on in my career....don't communicate with parents or students via email....don't let your students rely on the Internet for research...along with all kinds of urban legends about what was out there.

NOW....email is an essential tool for communicating with parents and students. Class web-pages have become one of the best resources for students who are out sick who don't want to fall behind. Blogging has become a great way for students to share ideas with their classmates, teachers, and the rest of the world. Web-based research hasn't tarnished learning by leading students away from books, but has opened the door for opportunities they would not otherwise be afforded. And most importantly, becoming proficient with Internet tools prepares students for the world they will be competing and living in. The process of researching through technology is just as valuable ( if not more valuable) as the content being searched for. While most students feel that non-technology based research will not benefit them in their personal or professional lives, the skills used in researching through technology...web-based or not...are almost immediately viewed as valuable and applicable.

I am trying to incorporate web-based communication into my teaching as much as possible, without reaching a point that I am leaving some students behind. Regardless of how well they can navigate through technology, you can't guarantee every student will have access to the Internet everyday. My Lex-Connect class pages have my current class notes and resources on them as well as interesting links and photo galleries. Sometimes just simply showing them my page in class can peak their interest. I'm also starting to use discussion threads and extra credit assignments as well on my pages. I'd like those to evolve into a true blog for my classes. Another idea that I'd like to try is hosting classroom help sessions through a chat room. A teacher could easily open a chat room for one hour a few nights a week for student concerns.

Regardless of how much you want your students to explore learning opportunities through technology, you have to be cautious. Any work turned in to me which has come from the Web must have proper citation. I also caution students about certain web-sites or search engines which may not be appropriate. Teacher modeling can be one of the best tools to fight the "evils" of the Internet. I would have students use registered names for any blogging activities for my class, and I always read comments before posting them for public viewing. Before involving students in any activity like that, I would send home information to parents, making them aware of the penalties for inappropriate behavior or misuse.

My student samples will be a timeline (produced through open mind), and a "virtual poster" (produced in Power Point). Virtual posters are single Power Point slides which have been designed to look like hand made posters. Just like a traditional poster, the students much portray the main ideas of their project on a single slide. I have always had my classes produce time-lines and posters, but these will be much easier to save and use in the future.

Level Two TTCA

First of all, thank you to all who have taken the time to read my blog up to this point. Even though im still somewhat of a novice in the internet realm of blogging, I am finding that I enjoy it more than anticipated. It gives you a real sense of being connected with different people and topics. One specific aspect of blogging that I find appealing is that the topics can be broad enough for the entire planet to relate to, or limited to the thoughts of a small class of students. This allows us to use the internet to facilitate our personal goals, while being on a global stage.

For this post I've decided to pose another question which I myself have had some inner debate about. Ultimately it comes down to how comfortable you are with using technology in certain ways. Which method would you prefer to use to gain your level two TTCA in Lexington School District One....the observation or portfolio method?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SMART Notebook or PowerPoint?

Since I started this blog as part of a technology course, I'm going to have a little fun with this and find out where everyone stands on this topic: Do you prefer SMART Notebook or PowerPoint for class presentations? I love using PowerPoint for my notes and presentations, but I'm just starting to get acquainted with SMART Notebook and I can see some obvious advantages. But...lets see what everyone else thinks........

Friday, February 20, 2009

Curriculum Framing Questions

All lessons in today's educational system are based upon an objective and/or standard. These objectives may take weeks to be measured, or could be measured in a single class period. And whether a teacher is developing a lesson to teach a specific state standard, or they are writing an objective to outline what their class is discussing that day, the goal remains the same: to ensure the students have mastered the objective through the teaching process. Curriculum framing questions provide a way for teachers to establish clear goals for their students on three levels. Essential Questions are open-ended questions which focus on broad concepts, which may even apply to other disciplines. Unit Questions are also open-ended, but cover content specific concepts and could span the entire length of a chapter or unit. Content Questions have a set of defined answers and most often cover specific facts.

My unit topic for this particular class is "Africa: Before, During, & After World War II". As much as any continent, Africa's history has been shaped by forces from outside its borders. We will explore Europe's influence on Africa's social and political structures before World War II, and how the war itself affected it. The class will then see how today's Africa was shaped by these events. These are my curriculum framing questions for my unit:

Essential Question: How can war change the world?

Unit Questions: How can war effect a nation directly involved in the conflict? How can war effect a nation not directly involved in the conflict? How are colonies effected by their parent nation's conflicts?

Content Questions: How did World War II lead to independence for some African nations? How did European nations change the social classes, economies, and migratory patterns of Africa? Describe the infrastructures left in place by European governments.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My First Blog Post

The original purpose of this blog is to satisfy a requirement of the "Intel Teach to the Future" technology course, but I plan to branch out into other areas of discussion in the future. The class and its resources are already proving to be valuable assets in my teaching. The instruction focuses on preparing students for the future by utilizing technology, advanced instructional design, and project based learning. So far, the greatest impact on me personally has been the use of web-based resources. I have tried to incorporate the use of the internet in my classes though my Lex-Connect class pages, but I can see how these new resources will enable me to carry it to a new level. Using curriculum framing questions will also help me in my planning and instruction. They basically take the traditional standard or objective for each lesson, and expand it onto three levels of learning.