Curriculum ideas for Technology Integration
based on National Technology Standards for Students
|Creativity and Innovation:Demonstrate creative thinking and problem solving skills to develop innovative products and processes using digital technology||
|Communication and Collaboration: Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, across the global community, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.||
|Research and Information Fluency: Select and apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, validate, and use information.||
|Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.||
|Digital Citizenship: Understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to digital technology and practice legal, ethical, and responsible behavior.||
|Technology Operations and Concepts: Utilize technology concepts and tools to learn. Select, use, and troubleshoot tools efficiently; Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.||Teach specific computer skills:
This past month Google unveiled some very helpful Search Options. Search Options are a collection of tools that allow you to view your results in new ways. After you search, click on the “show options” link in the upper left hand side of your screen. This reveals ways you can redefine your results.
The options are grouped together by their type and you can combine options for more precise searches. The explanation for these features is taken from the Google Search help:
Forums: For each result, you can see, among other details, how many people have contributed to the discussion and when the last reply was posted.
Reviews: See results from sites that specialize in posting reviews.
Recent Results: Google automatically optimizes the time period used for your filter to make sure that the most relevant and recent results are included. (This option is only available when All results is selected in the first group of options.)
Past 24 hours / Past week / Past year Use these options if you want to find web pages from a specific period of time.
Images: See image thumbnails from the page alongside the snippet for each result.
More Text: Snippets give you a preview of how words from your search term are used within each result. Click this option to get longer snippets, which will let you see more examples of your search term for each result. Longer snippets can also be useful if you have a lengthier search phrase
Related Searches / Wonderwheel: If you’re ever unsure about the precise terms you should use for your search, start out with a broader search term (e.g. [ principles of physics ]), then use the Related searches and Wonder wheel options to discover alternative search terms.
- The Related searches option puts related searches at the top of the results page.
- The Wonder wheel visually presents connections between related searches and your search term as an interactive diagram. Click the different nodes in the diagram to see how searches can branch out.
Timeline: See results along a timeline, which is a handy view if you’re researching information about a historical person or event. You can click any section in the timeline to zoom in on that time period.
Don’t want to see the search options on the sidebar? Just click on hide options and your search results turn back to normal. Also don’t forget to clik on the Reset Options to stop filtering if you choose to narrow your search by time or category.
Ideas for classroom use:
- Use Wonder Wheel to teach students how to narrow down their search results by clicking on one of the related terms on the wheel.
- Use the Timeline view to see when certain terms (like: swine flu) show up throughout history.
- the Past 24 hours option is great to help you find information about current events.
- Use Reviews to assist is making purchases for the classroom.
I’m thrilled that Saint Mary’s Press asked me to write an article about technology in Catholic Schools for their January edition of CONNECT: A free newsletter for high school religion teacher, campus ministers and principals.
In this issue of Connect, Colette Cassinelli, of Valley Catholic Middle and High School in Beaverton, Oregon, introduces some manageable ways to use technology that can significantly enhance the learning experiences of our students. In doing so, she illustrates that it is possible to take steps into the world of education and technology without being completely overwhelmed by the possibilities that seem to multiply every day. Our own use of technology for learning can model to our students how they can use technology in responsible and useful ways.
In the feature article, Colette introduces the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) and gives examples of ways to make these standards come alive. In “Making It Happen,” she gives more in-depth descriptions of using technology in the high school classroom.
Catholic Educators and Twenty-first-Century Learning
by Colette Cassinelli
Everywhere around us the world is changing. Business, politics, and journalism are being transformed by rapid changes in technology, and education is slowly seeing technology’s potential. Catholic educators today must embrace a new pedagogy and embed collaborative technologies for a new society of learners.
Students in our classrooms today differ from those who came before them. Educational theorist Marc Prensky calls these students “digital natives.” They are well versed in the uses of computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and text messaging. They think and process information in a fundamentally different way than previous generations. The Pew Internet and American Life Project (2007) found that 64 percent of online teenagers (ages 12-17) engaged in at least one type of Web content creation, such as blogs and photo and media sharing. These students are creative, smart, and most of all, networked, and they want their education to be and feel meaningful, worthwhile, and relevant to the future.
Educational consultant Ian Jakes states, “The primary task of the educational system must be to give learners the right tools and provide them with a critical mind so that they can ask the right questions and make the right connections. The problem is that the world is not the stable, static place it once was. The world has changed and continues to change.”
How can we as Catholic educators adopt these new tools and contemplate ways the interactive Web can enhance our own practices and student learning? How can we encourage students to be lifelong learners and discover the power of self-learning? How do we rethink our curriculum and embed twenty-first-century skills into our teaching to create authentic learning tasks?
It is an overwhelming undertaking, and many of us educators who did not grow up with technology (Marc Prensky calls us “Digital Immigrants”) are hesitant to change and have no clear road map for how to begin.
National Technology Standards for Students (NETS)
An excellent place to start is with the newly refreshed National Technology Standards for Students (2007) outlined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The new NETS provide a framework for educators to use as they transition schools from Industrial Age to Digital Age places of learning. These new standards focus on skills and knowledge that students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital society. They focus on cognitive skills, as well as creativity and innovation. These are the six standard areas:
- creativity and innovation
- communication and collaboration
- research and information fluency
- critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
- digital citizenship
- technology operations and concepts
All educators want their students to be creative and innovative. We embrace collaboration among our students because sharing knowledge enhances student learning. We provide opportunities for our students not only to be able to access information efficiently but also to be able to evaluate sources and synthesize the content. We desire to challenge our students to think critically and understand all aspects of a problem before making decisions. We insist that our students be responsible and ethical citizens of a digital world and leave behind “digital footprints” that represent moral and upright citizens. We hope that our students will be technologically prepared for a job in the future that we can’t even imagine yet.
Each of the standards outlined by ISTE contains simple and easy to implement technology skills. First, begin by examining your curriculum and identifying areas where you want your students to demonstrate understanding. Focus on student learning rather than on your teaching practice. Look for opportunities where students can embrace creative expression and share ideas digitally through written or multimedia formats. Start small–you do not need to embrace everything at once! Find a network of other teacher-learners like the online forum found at Classroom 2.0 (http://www.classroom20.com) and explore new technology tools together. (This Web site does a good job explaining that we have experienced the “Web 1.0” as a one-way means of getting information. “Web 2.0” is a new phase in Internet usage, allowing a two-way exchange of information, meaning that all of us can post material on the Internet and shape its content.)
Creativity and innovation. The proliferation of free Web 2.0 tools on the Internet provides educators with ample opportunity for students to be engaged in creative and unique ways. Digital storytelling is now easier than ever with free downloadable software like Microsoft’s PhotoStory 3 or by visiting Web-based programs like http://www.VoiceThread.com. These tools allow students to upload images, audio, and narration for personal narratives, to demonstrate understanding of a skill presented in class, or to share stories from school events. VoiceThread projects take it a step further and allow classmates to comment and create conversations around digital images–either in a private or public forum.
Communication and collaboration. Another great way to encourage collaboration among students is to use a wiki for classroom instruction. A wiki is a simple, easy-to-use Web page that anyone can edit. Students can document the steps of a science experiment, participate in collaborative story writing, or list Web sites used for a research paper. The power of a wiki is the collaborative nature of the technology, and any student can add her changes to the document. The revision history is automatically saved so it can easily be reverted back to a previous version if necessary. Many wiki Web sites, like Wikispaces, will give educators free access with no ads.
Technology integration. One place to start with technology integration is among professional activities for your faculty and staff. With Google Apps for Education, schools can set up e-mail, a calendar, and collaboration tools right from the browser. Administrators and educators can work together on documents uploaded to shared “Google Docs and Spreadsheets” and assign editing rights to facilitate synchronous writing. Google Apps for Education is free, with no advertising, and is easy to manage because there is no hardware or software to maintain. You can even customize your search page with your school name and resources you want made available to your school community (calendar, news feeds, announcements, etc.). After staff members see the power of sharing documents among themselves, then teachers can embrace this same type of collaboration with their students.
Digital citizenship. When implementing any type of technology into the curriculum, it is critical to simultaneously teach and demonstrate appropriate digital citizenship. We want our students to be safe online, so it is best to have students and parents sign “acceptable use” agreements before allowing students to use Web 2.0 sites (note that some sites require students to be thirteen). Students should use only first names, no identifying descriptions such as age or school name, and consider using avatars (a computer user’s self-representation as a two-dimensional icon or a three-dimensional model) or icons instead of real photos. Along with digital literacy, teachers can also address serious topics such as cyberbullying and online safety when using social-networking sites.
Most of all, we want our students to be digitally fluent inside and outside the classroom. We want them to see learning as a lifelong goal, not something that only happens inside a classroom. Learning is an active process with the learner at its center. Technology can provide unprecedented opportunities to explore new areas and can actively engage students in a wider range of projects than have ever been possible before. As Thomas Friedman states in his book, The World Is Flat, “the most important ability you can develop in a flat world is the ability to ‘learn how to learn’–to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new ways of doing new things” (page 302). As Catholic educators, we can use technology to excite and inspire these “digital natives” and lead them down a road to developing their own passion and curiosity.
Expanding the Uses of Technology
by Colette Cassinelli
Computer class is not just about learning how to format Word documents, write formulas in Excel, or make a PowerPoint anymore. It’s about using creativity and communication tools to challenge students to dig deeper and further student learning with real-world lessons. While I may teach students how to use various technological tools in the ways I describe, they can be applied across the curriculum.
Students learn best when they are fully engaged in classroom activities. I believe that as Catholic educators we must ensure that materials we use in class are relevant to our students’ lives and emphasize ways that learning can be applied in real-life situations. I like to present students in my computer classes with tasks that are authentic, built on life experiences, and use real-world technology tools. My desire is to have activities that provoke the curiosity of students but at the same time produce relevant, high-quality digital products.
Long-Distance Interviewing via Skype
Chad Lehman, a K-5 library media specialist from Wisconsin, posted a plea on the Classroom 2.0 online forum looking for teachers from other states to collaborate on a state project he was doing with his fourth graders. As part of their research on the fifty states, he wanted each fourth grader to interview someone about what it’s like to live in that state and what they like best about living there. I replied to Mr. Lehman that my seventh grade students would love to participate. I downloaded a program called Skype onto one of the lab computers and brought my webcam from home. Skype is a software program that allows you to make video phone calls over the Internet. We arranged the time of the interview and the class waited excitedly for the big day. Two students were chosen to speak for our class and answer the questions. We projected the Webcam image of the interview onto a large screen so everyone could watch. Mr. Lehman and a fourth-grade boy interviewed our class. All of my students were 100 percent engaged in the interview. If our two representatives didn’t know the answer to a question, the other twenty-eight kids scrambled to see who could find the answer first on Google. The interview went off without a hitch, and my students begged to do it again. These relatively easy-to-implement technology projects made me realize that my students were eager to communicate with students outside our school. I decided to next try a longer, more in-depth project.
Blogging to Make the World a Better Place
Using the quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” I challenged my middle and high school computer students to brainstorm how we could use the digital tools of today to “be the change.” Students used Inspiration (a digital graphic organizer) to map out ideas of how they could accomplish this and went to work researching a topic of their choosing. I wanted to make sure the parents understood the project and sent home a letter detailing our proposal, including an explanation of how we were going to use a blog for our publishing platform. (A blog is like an online diary where the students could write posts about their topic and share resources.) I set up individual student blogs at http://www.21classes.com. This Web site allows each student to customize their own blog but still be connected to the larger class.
Students posted their first entry explaining their chosen topic and how they hoped to change the world. The topics ranged from encouraging people to give blood, protecting the environment, teenage depression, animal abuse, recycling, and more. They designed original Web banners for their site and research facts to give their blog credibility. To encourage students to read each other’s posting, I set up learning circles of four to five students who read and commented on one another’s blogs. We discussed appropriate commenting, how to encourage further discussion, writing in a manner that was professional, using accurate facts, and citing resources. This activity gave a real-world experience to everything I taught in my earlier digital citizenship unit. We used only first names, did not use identifying photos, and did not reveal our school name.
In addition to discussing their topic and writing personal reflections, students also embedded other forms of media such as digital comic strips and educational public service announcement videos. The students enjoyed receiving comments from their classmates but were eager for a larger audience. I located a group of teachers online who were also blogging with their students and invited them to read our blogs. My students participated in a “comment challenge” to read and post on other classroom blogs. Soon my students were discussing their topics with elementary and high school students from around the US and Canada and as far away as Australia. As a teacher I was able to review and approve all comments before they were posted. The overall reaction to the blogging activity was positive and encouraging. Many students worked on their blogs from home and were always excited to receive new comments.
Giving my students an authentic audience raised the level of student engagement and quality of work in my classroom. Other classes have also made videos for Peace Day, evaluated the nutritional content of school lunches by using Excel spreadsheets, mass produced letters to local representatives about legislation, interviewed locals for career VoiceThread projects, and more. Next year I plan on incorporating additional interaction with other schools by having the students create original digital postcards and embed them into a Google map. We will send the URL of the Google map to the other schools and encourage them to visit our map and add their images and research.
Our teens are social creatures as we know. Allowing them to communicate with other students around the country and the world can help them learn about important topics in a way that is real, immediate, and personal, enabling them to expand their worldviews and ask more critical questions about any topic under discussion.
View all the Connect articles at http://www.smp.org/Connect/January-2009.cfm
Jen at @injenuity shared her concerns in a post entitled, “Web 2.0 is Not the Future of Education”. She states that early tech adopters are focusing on integrating new tools in their teaching instead of focusing on LEARNING. She writes:
“Learning is the future of education. Students need to develop an awareness of how they learn. By student, I mean every human being with whom we come in contact… All people deserve the right to understand how learning happens and the power they have to control their own lifelong learning journey.
Why are we hording these technology tools like some kind of magic trick that can only be performed for those worthy enough to earn our approval? We must embrace a more holistic approach to teaching and learning…
I really just want people to start to build their foundational values as educators, without ‘Web 2.0? as part of those values. The tools can enable engagement, transfer of learning and collaboration and can open the world to the student. Please see the student before the tools and give them the power they need in order to be successful with them.”
As a technology teacher who has transformed her computer classes from skill-based to LEARNING based – I whole heartedly agree with Jen. Its easy to get caught up in the lastest gadget or software tool. I feel my goal is to teach students how to learn.
I think part of this excitement depends on your basic personality. I am a learner. I love learning new things. It excites me and motivates me.
Other people are more cautious. They question the need for change. Change makes them uncomfortable and are slow to adopt.
Is there anything wrong with either one of these approaches? No. They each have their advantages and disadvantages.
But in the classroom our focus MUST be on engaging students as learners. Technology does provide opportunities for students to connect and be creative in ways that are unique and tranformative. But it takes a passionate and educated teacher to know the best way to do that.
I admit that I am guilty of rushing to incorporate a new tool into my classroom and found the experience to be lackluster. Usually it is because I haven’t taken the time to determine how using this piece of software will best meet my instructional goals and demonstrate student understanding.
When I first heard about VoiceThread I immediately saw it’s potential to engage students and give them a voice. But without careful planning, my student’s first attempts were more like narrated powerpoints with a few audio comments that said “Good Job”.
I didn’t give up, though. My frustration with the results made me dig deeper and ask myself what is the unique power of this tool that I can’t recreate in person.
My students love to discuss and debate – but it seems that the only ones who speak up are those with outgoing personalities.
VoiceThread gives each student an opportunity to plan and share their idea or point of view in the medium they are most comfortable in – text, audio or video. The collaborative nature of VoiceThread also allows students to respond back in a way that is appropriate and safe. Eric Brunsell commented, “VoiceThread, just like PowerPoint, is pointless if students are not crafting an argument, creating art (visual, aural or written), somehow communicating authentic thinking.”
Whenever I assign a project, I like to give my students a choice on how they will present the information (video, blog, PowerPoint, VoiceThread, etc..). Students can now choose a tool that fits their personality and learning style and the focus is on the message and not the tool.
Last year I blogged about this concept of focusing on student learning:
Student-centered learning means that the focus is on the learner – not the teacher and how the material is presented. The emphasis is on how the student is learning, the choices they have for expressing their learning, and how the teacher comes to understand that the student is learning.
But at the same time, I also teach these students HOW to use the tools effectively so the project doesn’t become about the flashiness of PowerPoint or the coolness of video.
We need to do both.
Michele Martin’s comment on Jen’s entry summed it up, “It’s about using technology along with the right thinking and collaborative processes.”
I was inspired by IBM’s commercial Buzzword Bingo to make my own Buzzword Bingo card so I can play along at the next educational technology conference I go to. Make yours and have fun. You might actually pay better attention during the keynote! 🙂
- Gmail. I love this web based email system and the fact that I can access it from any computer. Not only do you get tons of storage but I like the way it keeps the threaded conversations together. Gmail chat is also nifty.
- Google Docs. Google docs are great for collaborating and sharing information with others. You must invite friends to participate in your documents but it’s so easy to edit ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!.
- iGoogle Ok, ok, so I love of all the of the Google products – but I do use them and find them easy to use. iGoogle is a personalized page (which I make as my own homepage) that you can customize with all kinds of widgets like: weather, calendar, CNN news, Google Reader (RSS), Gmail notifier, jokes, etc…
- del.icio.us. I can’t believe how much I depend on this social bookmarking tool to remember sites I have visited but also for sharing cool sites with my friends. Now I don’t need to be that annoying friend who always sends emails recommending websites (I can’t help myself) – if I find a site and know my friend’s del.icio.us name I can tag the site as: for:ccassinelli and then when that user goes to their del.icio.us account they can add my favorite to theirs. This is very helpful for group projects!
- flickr. This web-based photo sharing site is awesome for uploading photos to share with friends. I like how you can create different albums and tag photos for easy sorting. I also love snooping through my friend’s albums too!
- My first RSS aggregator was Bloglinesand I still use it today. I like how I can create folders for all of the ed tech blogs I read. Here are my folders: personal, ed tech bloggers, under consideration and last chance. When I stumble across a blog I might be interested in I add the feed in the under consideration folder. When I find that I enjoy the blog and read it often it moved up in rank to the ed tech bloggers folder while some of those are demoted to last chance before I decide to do away with the feed.
- Audacity. This easy to use FREE audio editing software is easy to use for podcasting and editing audio files. You will need the LAME Mp3 encoder if you want to export your audio files at MP3 instead of WAV – but it’s easy to download and install.
- Wikispaces. I’ve already mentioned my love of wikis in my blog but for collaboration and easy editing – wikis are the way to go. I also love the fact that Wikispaces gives FREE wikis to teachers. Thanks for the support!
- Voicethread – A great tool for encouraging collaboration in your classroom. Upload photos and add text, audio or voice comments with a web cam. My new personal favorite way to get students to share comments with each other.
- Moodle. I started using Moodle this last year with a few of my computer classes but will use this open-source course management system with all my classes this year. It’s easy to use, has built in blogging and modules (quizzes, journals, docs) that make it easy to keep all class documents in one area.
TOP 100 TOOLS FOR LEARNING – SPRING 2008
as collected by Jane Hart
2007 Top Ten Tools: http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/colettecassinelli.html (my current list is pretty similar to the 2007 list. Hey – I like what I like!)
Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/cayusa/2221656599/
Engaging Students with Authentic Technology Projects – Sun, 2/17/08, 7:30-8:30 pm
Handouts located at: http://edtechvision.wikispaces.com/ITSC
Embrace 21st century strategies to create an instructional learning environment that moves away from teaching isolated computer skills towards an integrated thematic approach. Come learn how you can combine everyday productivity tools with Web 2.0 to support curriculum integration and collaboration.
The National Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) recommends that educators establish new learning environments that provide real world opportunities for students to utilize current information and technology resources (ISTE, 2000).
According to The American Youth Policy Forum (2000) instruction in today’s high schools must change. Disengagement from the learning process is a widespread problem in high schools as students do not perceive how lessons are relevant to their lives.
The American Youth Policy Forum reports that lecture style classes continue to dominate classroom instruction and content is divorced from the real world. Schools need to embrace new strategies for learning based on current research of how students learn, implement effective uses of technology in the classroom, and develop “21st Century Skills” while maintaining a rigorous academic curriculum (Burkhardt et al., 2003 http://www.ncrel.org/engauge).
It takes vision and planning to engage students in authentic learning experiences. Teachers must identify which instructional strategies are most effective and understand how to infuse technology into lessons with real world applications.
Instead of asking the question “What technology skills must students have to face the 21st century?” should we not be asking “What thinking and literacy skills must students have to face the 21st century?” These skills are not tied to any particular software or technology-type, but rather aim to provide students with the thinking skill and thus the opportunity to succeed no matter what their futures hold.” Justin Medved, Dennis Harter
Curriculum is designed from the best practice approaches to teaching and learning found inUnderstanding by Design
The Essential Questions for the 21st Century Learner are:
- How do you know information is true?
- How do you communicate effectively?
- What does it mean to be a global citizen?
- How do I learn best?
- How can we be safe?
These questions speak to thinking, critically evaluating, analyzing, and communicating. They emphasize the value in responsible behavior and knowing yourself as a learner. http://newliteracy.wikispaces.com/
Career Unit – Based on John Holland’s six personality traits
Goals: critically evaluating, analyzing, communication
- Table of Holland Traits (Word) Social Jobs Earnings (Excel)
- Career Bookmarks (Del.icio.us – bookmarks)
- Photos of Career Fair and computer class
- Artistic Jobs photoshow
- Career Unit plan using UbD (Understanding by Design structure)
- The Career Interests Game (University of Missouri)
- Sample Self Assessment Exercise
- Career Pathfinder
Lunch Nutrition and Recycling Unit
Goals: analyzing, communication, evaluating
- Google shared spreadsheet for data collection
- Motivational posters of lunches (right –>) from Flickr and http://www.bighugelabs.com
- Lunch waste recycling poster – (with real lunch photos)
- Lunch Photo Assignment
- Comparing Ideal and Actual Lunches (Excel)
- Nutrition letter | House Bill Letter (mail merge)
- House Bill podcast | remixed as VoicethreadAudio edited with Audacity
Nutrition / Waste Recycling Resources
Other Classroom Activities:
TOP 100 TOOLS FOR LEARNING 2007 – http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/toolbox2007.html
- Valiant Pride: New student edition – a newspaper that my students designed for new incoming students (samples:
- Search Engine Extravaganza – PowerPoint presentations to teach our school community about unique search engines
- BE SAFE ONLINE! Projects made by students to discuss online safety (including chat rooms, cyber bullying, online profiles, photo sharing, etc)
- Curriculum Review Quizzes – Note: action buttons and hyperlinks do not work on slideshare – you must download the PowerPoint first
- Grendel Quiz | US History test review| Biology Quiz uploaded to Slideshare.net (can embed the shows on a wiki or webpage
- Global Studies Quiz uploaded to Google presentations (can embed the shows on a wiki or webpage or you can invite others to view presentation and display a CHAT window during the presentation)
- Mission Possible: Web 2.0 – a class wiki to explore new Web 2.0 tools (work in progess)
Note: Some of the lessons in this session are based on activities that I designed for my Action Research Project for my MA in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University. Three complete thematic units are located at http://cadres.pepperdine.edu/ar/c9/Cassinelli/arp.htm
- American Youth Policy Forum http://www.aypf.org/
- Best Jobs for the 21st Century, 4th Edition by Michael Farr. ©2006 JIST Publishing, Inc.
- Curriculum 2.0 http://newliteracy.wikispaces.com/http://newliteracy.wikispaces.com/http://newliteracy.wikispaces.com/
- enGauge 21st Century Skills: Literacy in the Digital Age (Burkhardt, G., Monsour M., Valdez, G., Gunn, C., Dawson, M., Lemke, C., et al., 2003) North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group, http://www.ncrel.org/engauge
- National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) http://cnets.iste.org/students/s_stands.htmlhttp://cnets.iste.org/students/s_stands.htmlhttp://cnets.iste.org/students/s_stands.html
I still teach a basic computer application course (as opposed to working with HS teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum) and my goal is to make sure students have the tech skills necessary to be successful in class. I don’t, however, want to just teach “computer skills” – and teach technology just for the sake of learning technology. The past few years I have redesign my computer application course around themes, such as career exploration, teen issues, nutrition/recycling, and CSI (computer scene investigation!)
Through out each theme. we use the tools of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Web 2.0 tools to investigate our topic. For example, during the career unit we took a personality tests based on Dr. John Holland’s theory that people and work environments can be classified into six different groups: Social, Artistic, Investigative, Enterprising, Realistic and Conventional. We created tables in Word to describe the attributes of these personality traits and listed careers for each group. We collected data about annual earnings, percent of growth and number of annual openings and analyzed the data in Excel and created graphs to display the information. We made online slide shows, cartoons, and magazine covers using favorite Web 2.o tools like toondoo, polldaddy, photo show and flickr toys. For a final culminating project, we are designing kiosks (using science board type displays) to display all of our information. We will host a career fair to help other classmates discover their strongest personality trait and which career options are best for them.
While I feel that the students are much more engaged in the thematic units, it does require careful planning on my part to make sure that all the required skills are introduced, reviewed and mastered throughout the term.
Today I participated in the OETC professional development cadre. We spent the afternoon discovering some Web 2.0 technologies. Yes, most of these tools are online, free and can be embedded in websites – but only a handful would actually be useful in the classroom. The others are just for fun – or another scheme to get you to register and capture your email address. Here is a list of some of them that were shared:
Voki – create your own talking avatar. I’m not quite sure how to use this in education or how it qualifies as a Web 2.0 tool – but it’s fun thing to have on your blog or website.
PhotoShow – online free version of Photoshow5 software. Upload photos from your computer, any MySpace account, or photo URL. After uploading photos, you can customize your music, captions and transition styles.
Voicethread – Upload photos and record narration for a photo story. Allows viewers to record their comment to show. Very easy to use and allows multiple user to comment on each account. Of the list here, probably the most useful in the classroom. Updated version coming October 10th.
PollDaddy – Create free polls for your website. Easy to make and easy to embed.
Toondoo – Cartoon strip creator. Fun and easy to make. Better for younger kids.
Slide.com – Slide widgets — including Slideshows, Guestbooks, SkinFlix and FunPix — are popular on top social networking and blog platforms.
Sitekreator – You can build your own professional site with page and navigation management, add an unlimited number of pages, and maintain a unified appearance and consistent navigation structure. The folks that evaluated it were not that impressed.
OurStory – Save stories, photos, and videos on a collaborative timeline. Has potential – need to check it out more.
Bubbl.us – Bubbl.us is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online. you can create mind maps online, share and work with friends, and embed your mind map in your blog or website.
kSolo – Online karaoke!
I loved the networking and sharing of the professional development cadre and they modeled some great techniques for presenting professional devleopment with technology, but I was concerned about their choice of Web 2.0 tools. Since over 1/2 of the members of the cadre were new – why weren’t tools like del.icio.us, blogs, wikis, podcasting, Google docs, Moodle, flickr, etc reviewed (or at least introduced to the newbies!). I’m concerned about the explosion of “free” online tools that can be embedded on websites tooted as the latest Web 2.0 tools. Most of them are geared towards the Myspace crowd and don’t have a place in the classroom.
I am glad we watched the new Did you know? video and visited the ShiftHappens wiki at: http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/Suggestions+for+Using+the+Presentation
Other tools that were shared that I didn’t get a chance to check out yet:
- bubblr= photo comic
- thinkature=flow chart
- scrapblog= scapbook, share by url
- Scribd= interesting upload files, any file
- spresent= collaborative powerpoint
- squarespace= web, blog cost
- thumbstacks= powerpoint online… like spresent
- triporama= trip planner, advanced (application is a stretch)
- tumblr= similar to a blog
- vyew= web collaboration
- yugma= web conferencing
- Phixr= photo editing
I was re-reading Will Richardson’s book “Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms” today because I am giving my copy to a new techie teacher. Even though I am already familiar with the topic I still found the information interesting and relevant. This time through the names from the examples were familiar from bloggers like Tim Lauer, Darren Kuropatwa and Bud the Teacher. Wow – what a difference a year of blogging makes!
Will discusses the pedagogy of blogging. He writes that “weblogs are truly a constructivist tool for learning”. Student’s construct their own knowledge through reading, writing and responding to one another’s posts. This type of “connective writing” engages students in higher-order thinking. Students are first reading critically and looking for important ideas to share with their audience. Opportunities to make connections and synthesize ideas from other bloggers demands organization and clarity in student’s own posts. The “real audience” reminds students to observe editorial correctness and to continue the discussion beyond the post and interact with users who make comments.
In discussing wikis, Will notes that “the collaborate environment that wikis faciliate can teach students much about how to work with others, how to create community, and how to operate in a world where the creation of knowledge and information is more and more becoming a group effort”. Like blogs, empowering students by allowing them to create and edit and construct their own knowledge is very compelling and will lead to student engagement.
Besides blogs, wikis and podcasting, Will discusses other Web 2.0 tools like RSS, social bookmarking, flickr and what it all means. If you are looking for a simple explanation of how to go about integrating Web 2.0 tools in your classroom I highly recommend this simple book – plus – when you get it down pat – you can pass it on to another educator!!!
Sidebar: I am getting ready to set up blogs for my classes this school year and am debating which format I am going to use. I use Moodle for my CMS and like the journal module for students to write directly to me but I don’t care for the blog feature. I was just going to use Blogger since we will already be using gmail accounts and Google docs but now am considering 21 classes (mainly for privacy reasons and the having a main entry page). I am seeking input from other teachers who have used it. I like the fact that the students can customize their pages – which will be critical for my graphic design students. Any comments???
In his article about Instructional scaffolding, Konrad Glogowski describes a educational scenario how Web 2.0 tools support learning:
Let’s say that the student has chosen a specific aspect of the broader topic of social justice and is in the process of collecting information and resources. In today’s world of the world wide web and information overload, the student can begin to feel lost amid all the information. This presents the teacher with a perfect opportunity to introduce RSS, for example, or a tool that can be used to aggregate video clips, such as VodPod or a YouTube account. It also presents a perfect opportunity to work with the student on specific curriculum related skills, such as summarizing. This can also be a fantastic opportunity to help the student start a research journal (on her blog, using a del.icio.us account, or a tumble log) or use mindmapping to develop a plan for further research. The point here is that once the student feels stuck, overwhelmed, or discouraged, a perfect opportunity presents itself for the teacher (or a more knowledgeable peer) to step in and offer support.
Glogowski quotes Judith A. Langer who argues “that in order to use instructional scaffolding teachers need to ensure that the students have ownership of the learning event”. Glogowski goes on to say that “once the student is engaged as a researcher/writer/thinker, the teacher can focus on conversing with the student.”
Researcher/writer/thinker. Do we view our students like that? Do we give our students the respect to initiate, plan and developing their own learning and thinking? Do we see our ourselves as “co-participants” in our student’s research or are we waiting for the final product to be finished so we can “evaluate” it.
This mind shift is critical if we are to embrace a learner-centered environment. But Glogowski also makes a second point:
The sense of partnership that developed through the initial set of instructional conversations needs to evolve in order to be of benefit to the student. Since I now know (I have seen) that my student has made progress, I need to use different tools and engage in different conversations in order to ensure that the student does not see my involvement as patronizing or intrusive. The set of competencies that developed as a result of our instructional conversations now demands that our conversations increase in sophistication.
Our responsibilites and the tools we use change as our students grow and learn. As educators we cannot sit by passively and wait for our students “to get it”. We need to constantly adapt, challenge and find new ways to engage them in the conversation so they are involved in the process. Glogowski states that “blogging in a supportive community of peers …allows for the development of higher-order cognitive operations”. He concluded with two pieces of advice:
Create “activity settings” where writing is a tool for learning and not a way of presenting acquired information. Ensure that writing is motivated by the student’s need to communicate ideas that are important – things that he or she wants to say.
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach made an important statement about Web 2.0 tools and learning:
It’s All about the Learning
Teachers like tangibles. I think the reason there is so much focus on the tools, rather than how to use the tools to support learning is because when we are learning something new we want something concrete to manipulate. Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis and podcasts give us that concrete fix. Teachers, like their students, need time to explore the tools before getting on with the learning. However, at some point in a PD 2.0 workshop the focus needs to switch from the tool itself to making the tool a seamless medium for mastery of standards-based objectives and 21st Century life skills.
I have been blogging about my favorite tools lately and I don’t want anyone to get the idea that it’s all about the tools – it’s not – it’s about how the tools support learning. I think Sheryl is right when she states that teachers like students want some time to play around with tools. My concern is always if the the learning stops when the tool is mastered -OR- does the ease of the tool now allow the focus to be whether this new tool will actually support or enhance learning or not.
Learning is social. Web 2.0 tools are social and collaborative in nature. The tools embrace the read/write/reflect nature of learning. It is critical for teachers to utilize blogs, wikis, podcasting, and other mash-up tools themselves before they bring these technologies to their classrooms. Once they have experienced this powerful medium that gives them a voice and an audience who reads, responds and reflects upon what they have said – then they will understand how this can be powerful for their own students.
Because quite frankly, their students are probably already doing it at home and if a teacher doesn’t immerse themselves into this digital world, they will most likely attempt to use Web 2.0 in a instructivist teacher-centered mode. What a shame it will then be when the teacher complains that “these tools” don’t work and throw them out.
It’s not just about the tools. It’s about embracing a student-centered environment where students have choice … are given opportunities to have their voice heard … are encouraged to be creative … and take ownership of their own learning.
Our students want this type of learning. Are we providing it?
(Note: Motivational poster made at fd’s Flickr Toys)
I’ve been sharing some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools lately and I’ve been reflecting how my learning has changed during the past year because of these communication tools. Before I start my list I want to share about the SEOmoz Web 2.0 Awards. The site gives you the best of the best of Web 2.0 tools as voted on by 25 knowledgable users. I have to say that for the tools that I am familiar with – I mostly agree but I also learned a ton of new tools to check out. These posts will discuss the various tools I use and why. Simply put, a wiki is a very simple web page.
Wiki – I like wikispaces. It’s free for teachers and simple to use. It doesn’t have a lot of formatting features but it gets the job done. I heard a presentation given by Adam Frey (the founder of wikispaces) at NECC on EdTechLive. It’s great to hear how wikispaces is trying to meet the needs of teachers and improve their product.You use wikis for any type of document that you want several people to access and edit. I have used them with my students when groups are planning and organizing projects – that way everyone can add their comments or easily participate. Here is a simple video from The Common Craft Show that will explain the basics of how wikis work.
Wikis aren’t just for planning. They can be the platform for classroom projects too. Let’s say that each student has chosen a specific topic in class. An easy way to share information is to place each project on a wiki and have every student’s project linked on the side navigation bar. This will encourage students to view each other’s work and even add comments if the pages are open for editing (peer review). I’ve heard of other teachers using wikis for cross-class collaboration – like the Flat Classroom project.
Wikis are great for staff development. By encouraging teachers to share their knowledge by using a wiki – you are helping to foster a community of practice where sharing is the standard and knowledge management is well organized and expected. Don’t just place a lot of links – document class/school procedures, share tips, collaborate on curriculum planning, plan staff parties, outlinefor staff development and more!
Some other great wiki tools:
Frank Smith writes in his book “The Book of Learning and Forgetting” that we learn from those around us and those with whom we identify ourselves with. Simply put, you learn from the company you keep. This type of learning is natural and long-term. We learn continuously and without noticeable effort.
Any of us who have observed students learning a new video game or how to upload music to their iPod understand that today’s students are natural learners – and it all seems so effortless. They are interested, motivated, and they know who are the experts – their friends. To watch one teenager teach another how to do something is amazing – they seem to be able to explain it in a way that others understand and without much fuss.
I think that we educators can learn a lot from watching students learn in this “classic view” of learning. Our main job is to create an environment where this type of learning is encouraged and expressed – not repressed. Student-centered learning means that the focus is on the learner – not the teacher and how the material is presented. The emphasis is on how the student is learning, the choices they have for expressing their learning, and how the teacher comes to understand that the student is learning.
Technology has long been an integral component of a learner-centered environment. It’s not the “tool” of the computer that makes it work – it the communication and the authenticity of the work that makes it real. Students who use Web 2.0 tools like social networking sites, IM and video/podcasts can share their original thoughts and ideas with the world and gather real feedback and responses from interested individuals. The conversations that get started are interesting and the students are eager and motivated to respond back – it seems effortless – Smith would call it learning.
When our students look forward to communicating with their peers about what they are learning and are given opportunities to construct meaningful knowledge (that has nothing to do with answers on a standardized test) – we can be assured that this type of learning will be long-term because the learner has identified himself/herself as a learner.