Monday, October 17, 2005

Once again, a new avenue of learning has fallen into my lap, and this time its Webquests. Webquests are a remarkable way to focus and harness effective learning within the classroom. An effective Webquest is one which makes the most effective use of technology on the Web. I think the most effective Webquests for my students would be those that had a lot of attractive colors, animation on the site, and links to interesting sites. Effective web quests force students to analyze information, perceive information from many perspectives, while also allowing the student to present their own opinion on the topic. Effective Webquests also allow for creative expression by the student. A focused Webquest on a particular topic is essential so as to not confuse the student with too much information. An effective Webquest is also one that allows for collaboration with peers in order to create discussion and debate around a topic.

I would like to see Webquests used in the most effective way in my classroom. I would utilize Webquests especially when focusing on specific subjects. I saw lots of great examples on the Web of science related topics such as the sun, the moon, and the specific planets. I would also like to have students collaborate in groups when working with Webquests to allow for multiple navigations through the site, and bringing different perspectives to an assignment.

The need to ensure Internet safety in the classroom is essential, with the reality of students using the Internet in schools every day. We must teach our students critical thinking on the Internet to ensure a safe and rewarding experience on the Web.
Advertising has become a fact of life on the Web, where students are actively targeted. Surfing the Web, students will be exposed to advertising whether playing games, shopping or doing homework. It is important that students are aware of marketing strategies, and why they are being marketed to. It is also important for students to be critical of information that they find on the Web. Unlike a book, or newspaper where facts are checked, anyone can post to the Internet. Students must be aware of this reality in order to decipher through information and become a critical learner.

Excel can be a difficult program to master, especially for a teacher that has difficulty with mathematical logic. Once mastered though, Excel is a tool that can enhance learning within the classroom. I would firstly use Excel within my classroom to clarify the understanding of content in my class, through visual representation. I have always learned content better as a student through visual interpretation of material, especially numbers. I believe it would be a lot easier for many students to understand and interpret facts and figures through colourful bar graphs, pie charts, and intensity maps. Excel would also allow my students to use the software to plot their own data, and again readily interpret it. Excel can also easily convert any chart or data set into a web page, which allows for students to collaborate on projects by discussing data at home, in different cities, and even different countries. Excel allows for multicultural learning. Like many other programs we have reviewed in this course, Excel expands learning and knowledge past the walls of a classroom or a school. I have always had a difficulty seeing the relationships with numbers, but I could utilize Excel in my classes through its ability to quickly produce charts and graphs.

Excel can again be a difficult program to master for both teacher and student, so online tutorials are another tool that can be used to learn to operate the Excel program. Online tutorials not only give my students the hands-on active learning to more readily learn the program, but also give profuse amounts of templates, games and activities for students to incorporate into their classes and learning.

A link that drew my attention was; http://www.lessonplanet.com/search/Teacher_Resources/Technology/Spreadsheets
This link had spreadsheet lessons in anything from dinosaurs to ‘what colours are your skittles?’, to dieting and what you are eating for dinner each night. I liked the site because of its numerous activities, which seemed attractive for students using Excel.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What is concept mapping?

Concept Mapping is a way of visually interpreting and understanding information. This interpretation is done through graphs, which link main concepts and there related categories. These graphs or mind maps link related information, and are easy for a visual learner to connect, in order to clarify and organize the information on paper and screen. The student is therefore able to see this information visually rather than just imagining these relationships within their minds. This concrete and visual way of organizing information allows for students to organize their thoughts more clearly for learning, writing, and presentation purposes.


Advantages of using concept mapping;

In reading over the articles provided as links, I was amazed by the number of advantages to using concept mapping. Concept mapping allows students to brainstorm their ideas, and then organize these ideas into logical categories and order. Especially for a complex concept or essay, concept mapping allows for a clearer organization of information into a concrete visual form, which becomes easier for a lot of students to then understand. Concept mapping also helps connect what students already know with new information in order to visually see students' strengths and weaknesses of understanding within a certain subject or concept. Concept maps are also flexible to allow for students' different and unique learning styles to be incorporated into the organization of their work. One of the links was quoted as saying concept mapping allows students to…"organize information in ways that are meaningful to them." Concept mapping not only helps students, but allows teachers to also increase and expand their creative efforts by having alternative ways to interpret and present information to their classes. Overall, concept mapping allows for active learning to take place both by Teachers and students within the classroom.


Disadvantages of using concept mapping;

Concept mapping clearly appeals to visual learners. Although most students are becoming visual learners within a culture of constant flashing advertisements and television shows, this still does not to imply that all students are visual learners. Concept mapping still might not appeal to students who think more clearly in their minds, are audio learners, or who are more physical learners. Students who encounter problems using the inspiration or kidspiration software might also get discouraged with the concept mapping approach.

Give an example of how you would integrate concept mapping into your classroom;

Although I was not familiar with the inspiration and kidspiration software, I’m aware of the concept of making webs or mind maps. In grade 12, my English teacher was Ms. Adair. Ms. Adair introduced me to the concept of mind mapping in order to more clearly organize my thoughts and information before I was to write an essay. This method allowed me to organize my thoughts more clearly before writing, and greatly increased my skills and grade as an English writer. Looking back, I only wish that someone had introduced me to this concept earlier in my education career. I hope that I will be able to integrate concept mapping as soon as possible with the students in my class. I would have the students incorporate this concept into, (like Ms. Adair did) their planning to write essays, to make group and individual presentations to the class, and even near the end of a unit or subject; to concept map the information that had been covered in a way that was easy for that student to comprehend. Concept mapping allows both me and my students to organize our thoughts and overcome our fear of the "blank page".

Trevor Williams

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Government of Canada

The Government of Canada

Reference Section:

Government of Canada. Retrieved Sept. 27, 2005, from http://canada.gc.ca/howgoc/howind_e.html

Grade Level: 10

Subject: Social Studies

Brief Description of Activity:

Students will go to a website, in which they will have to read about the structure and functions of the Canadian government. They will then research one particular Department or Agency of their choice within the government’s structure.  The website the students will visit is http://canada.gc.ca/howgoc/howind_e.html. The students will also be assigned to answer one of the top 25 most frequently asked questions of the Canadian government.

General Learner Outcome: understanding the role, rights and responsibilities of a citizen in a democratic society and a citizen in the global community

Specific Learner Outcomes: the structure and functions of government in Canada are important.

ICT Outcomes:
C.1.4.2    select information from appropriate sources, including primary and secondary sources

F.2.4.1   use technology outside formal classroom settings

F.2.4.7   use current, reliable information sources from around the world

P.1.4.1   continue to demonstrate the outcomes achieved in prior grades and course subjects


Rationale for Computer Integration:

Computers have been integrated into this assignment to allow students to access and familiarize themselves with The Government of Canada’s website. The students will be able to work at their own pace from home while researching a governmental department or agency of their choice. Students will each answer one of the top 25 most frequently asked questions of the Canadian government in order to answer and educate their peers on the ‘real world’ issues facing the Canadian Government and themselves.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ed 3508 Assign #2.5


Related (specific) Technology Outcome being integrated:P.3.4.2- support communication with appropriate images, sounds and music.

Subject: English

Grade: 11

Description: As a teacher, you could use Powerpoint to meet this technology outcome by having your students do a presentation on a novel or a poem they have read, a movie or a play they have seen, or even something they have written themselves. Using Powerpoint to present this project to the class, the students would also be required to add appropriate images to each slide. This would allow the students to convey visually their impressions of the work. The student could also be required to add sounds and music to their presentation in order to set their impression of the tone of the piece.

Ed 3508 Assign #2

What is good technology integration?

Effective technology integration encourages students to think about what they need to learn, and for this integration to allow for the students to be actively asking their own questions. Technology can be effectively integrated into any class and subject, and integrated into project based and multidisciplinary lessons. Effective integration of technology promotes student exploration and questioning while also allowing students to improve their skills as readers, writers and thinkers. Students questioning should become broader in scope as well as deeper and more reflective.It is essential that the technology used by a teacher in his/her classroom be supporting the teaching and learning, rather than being driven by it.
A good example of technology integration was when Williams'science class integrated technology into the budding of tulips and research of local ecology around their school. The students compared their tulip budding processes with those of other communities. The technology became an integral part of the classroom activites and a powerful computational tool and info. resource for both students and the teacher.

What is not good technology integration?

Technology integration is not effective when teachers are simply 'pouring' the information into the students heads. In this case, there is no application of learning for the students. Teachers might have the skills and knowledge of a certain technology or software, yet are unable to convert this knowledge into effective teaching methods for their students. In these examples, technology is driving the class instead of supporting it through application.

What are some of the barriers to technology in the classroom?

I believe one of the greatest barriers to having or integrating technology into the classroom, is the unfamiliarity of many teachers with the skills, knowledge, and teaching techniques required to integrate this technology effectively into their classrooms. The recent integration of technology into the classroom also means that many teachers are unfamiliar with the history of the technology, and lack the critical thinking necessary for it to be integrated effectively. Lack of funding for technological hardware and software, and teacher motivation to change their teaching styles also create barriers to effectively integrating supportive technology into the classroom.

TW.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ed 3505 Assign #1


Hi there! What's up? My name is Trevor Williams and I'm orginally from right here in Lethbridge. I moved away to go to high school on Vancouver Island, but then came back to attend the U of L, where I graduated in 99' with my B.F.A in Dramatic Arts. For the next three years, I lived in Kobe, Japan and taught E.S.L as well as travelling around much of Asia. I found those years enlightening, as well as sparking an interest in teaching. I then moved to Vancouver, where I continued to teach E.S.L at Vancouver International College. This teaching experience in Vancouver affirmed my instincts to enter the teaching profession and come back to Lethbridge once again, (is there a pattern here?) to obtain my B.Ed from the best program in the country.

I'm not a Blogger, and have never blogged before, although I am familiar with the subject. When I heard that we were going to be blogging in class, I was skeptical as I had never blogged before and didn't think I would be comfortable publishing on the net. After reading through all the resources and links to various sites that the class has provided, I'm happy to say that I'm much more excited and comfortable about blogging now, and can see the advantages of using it in the classroom.

Like my personal teaching style, blogging seems to allow for a more open and balanced type of learning to take place between the teacher, students and even their family members. Blogging motivates your students as they become more involved in the learning process. Their work is being published in a place where anyone in the world can read it, which motivates the student to understand the topic, and make clearer and more critical evaluations of the material.

Blogging is a way for students to read and write while sharing and managing information at the same time. Blogging allows students to publish their ideas, which empowers the students and gives the students more confidence in themselves. Through blogging you can hear multiple opinions about a topic. You can work on a blog at any time, and from any place in the world which creates a classroom without boundaries. Blogging allows for students to discuss an issue not only with their teacher, but between themselves, which leads to a more cognitive approach to learning and education.

Although I'm just starting to learn about blogging, it is apparent to me already the multitude of benefits that this subject has to offer. Blogging promotes classroom management, collaboration and strong ties between students and teachers, and is a forum for discussion within the class. Essentially, blogging brings the World into the classroom.

TW.