Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Technology-Infused Classroom

The technology-infused classroom is one that uses technology to enhance, not replace, education. For example, the article below discusses the value that video conferencing can add to the classroom. Skype, Google video chat, or programs like the ICN can greatly enhance the learning experience!
Video Conference Project Sparks Meaningful Learning

My technology-infused classroom includes taking "trips" on Google Earth using the LCD projector, utilizing Web 2.0 collaborative tools such as Google Docs, Meeting Words, and Writeboard to allow students to work on projects and documents with the teacher or other students in a real-time setting from any location. My students hear lectures from renowned scholars through the C-SPAN video library and have visited European museums on virtual field trips. While Northeast Hamilton is not a one-to-one school, our classes have access to two mobile laptop labs and three desktop computer labs, as well as wireless internet access throughout the building. Social studies at Northeast Hamilton includes the use of cell phones, iPods, and a Nintendo Wii, all of which get the students excited about learning and engaged in the curriculum.

 Credit: David Julian

Being creative with technology is especially important. Even schools with low technology-budgets can infuse top of the line technology with a little ingenuity and innovation. In the following video, Johnny Lee shows you how to create a Smart Board using a "Wiimote"  and infrared light!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Internet and Visual Literacy in the classroom

Here students are visual and kinesthetic learners - using the Wii to play Medieval Games in World History (Jan 2010)

Visual literacy and the internet are important to teaching and learning. The internet offers a wide variety of sources, information, and experiences that cannot otherwise be experienced by the teacher or the student. Visual literacy is equally important. As the internet plays an increasingly larger role in education, so, too, does visual literacy. Students are constantly taking in images via the World Wide Web and it is the duty of 21st century teachers to provide students the means to be critical consumers of visual information and cues.
Within my classroom I have begun to encourage students to create pictorial representations of concepts that they do not understand. Drawing for understanding encourages a level of synthesis that students may not otherwise reach. Additionally, using tools such as SmartArt and Inspiration allow students to express themselves in a visual way and requires the learner to evaluate text with a much more critical eye. Prior to this visual literacy unit in Grand Canyon University’s Tec538 course I was the one creating the visual representation for the students (or relying on the textbook publisher to do so for me). Upon completion of the unit I have been inspired to encourage students to create their own individual meaning using images. I hope this will encourage taking ownership of their own learning and creating a product that is significant to them as an individual learner.
The internet plays a vital role in my classroom. As our district struggles with budget cuts, whenever I can use the internet to find free or low-cost opportunities for my students I take advantage of it. I am an avid and critical consumer of e-formation (e-information – get it? No? Eh, it was worth a shot). However, with such a heavy reliance upon the internet I must also work toward being a master planner. There is always a potential for circumstances beyond my control (i.e. the server crashing), and therefore it is more important that I am a master of my craft than ever before. A teacher cannot rely solely upon the internet and it is only with practice and continued education that a teacher can even begin to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer.

On C-SPAN's Washington Journal Clay Shirky discusses the role of internet access in the United States' future

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Instructional Strategies: Variety in the Classroom

 Using varied instructional strategies in the classroom is essential to student learning. While I subscribe to a constructivist belief in education, it is important to address all types of learning. Some students learn best with hands-on work, others must have a visual approach (a movie, a modeled experiment, etc), while others are audial learners and require lecture or repetition.

 From Best Education Possible from Debra M. West

Technology plays an important role in 21st century education because it allows teachers to address multiple learner types at the same time. Playing a game or conducting a lab online allows students to see, hear, and manipulate things in a way that they have never been able to before.

In the following video from C-SPAN the National Governor's Association discusses improvements for United States education. One speaker notes that we must move past routine cognitive learning and expand to focus on higher level learning. This is a nation-wide initiative and teacher buy-in is imperitive.

National Governor's Association on Education Reform

In the classroom I hope to continue to engage students and enhance my curriculum through interactive technology. Below is an example of student work from a recent project that required students to work in groups to collaborate, summarize the text, and manipulate the Google Map, all while applying their learning to district and state standards and benchmarks.

View South East Asia Imperialism in a larger map