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Final Capstone Project

Greetings!

This has been a long time coming, but I am happy to announce that my final capstone project is officially complete! Please note, that only Post University individuals have the password to view the final document.

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In Summary……

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‘Learning’ is such a broad term when it comes to individuals. It presents itself in so many different ways it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, how it happens, and why we keep doing it. However, I think we can develop a general description of what learning is.

Learning is a daily practice that can be both conscious and subconscious. It is our brain’s way of making new connections to old ones. It is a process that never ceases and is comprised of both successes and failures; and sometimes the failures provide us with the best learning experiences, if we are in tune with self-reflective practices. Learning comes in many shapes and sizes, however, real-life, collaborative, kinesthetic experiences provide the best ones. We can determine if we have learned something if we find ourselves incorporating new ideas or practices into what we do on a daily basis. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own learning, however, sometimes there is a need for guidance from a ‘master’. That ‘master’ typically has years of experience, expertise and a never ending expanse of knowledge. The ‘master’ can help facilitate the learning process, but they can’t control whether or not you learn. You must make the choice to engage yourself.

At the end of the EDU 625 course, I find myself asking if my philosophy has changed from the beginning, and my answer is no. Technology is another tool that we can add to our learning toolbox. As a learner, we must still make the choice to engage our self in the learning process, and the addition of technology can help us achieve our goals, and accomplish certain objectives. It provides the learner with a new way to interact with information. Many of our K-12 public are starting to find unique ways to integrate technology into the learning process for students. “Social networking tools offer opportunities for innovative, participative pedagogical practice within traditional institutional frameworks. However, tensions continue to develop within this space: between creativity and security, personal and professional identity, privacy and openness. We argue that iSchools are uniquely positioned to create proactive, adaptive policies guiding the pedagogical use of social media and offer initial recommendations toward the crafting of such policies. If we expect information school graduates to be proficient and critical users of perpetually evolving social media technologies, we need to create learning environments that support the ethical, reflective and effective use of these tools” (Nathan, MacGougan, and Shaffer, pp. 112).

This leads me to my next topic… issues surrounding the use of technology in schools. One of the largest issues is safety and security. Children and even young adults still don’t have the necessary skills to make the best decisions when it comes to the use and application of technology in schools. As an adult, I would like to think that we are better equipped to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate sources. Seeking out the best, most reliable resources requires a bit of footwork. As educators we must teach our students how to go about that footwork to make sure that they too can find credible resources. “The plethora of information available online, coupled with heavy reliance on the Internet by information seekers raise issues of the credibility or quality of information found online” (Metzger, pp. 2078). Not only is the large amount of information that can be accessed, it also allows for any person to be an author. There aren’t as many guidelines that regulate publishing online, so credibility is in question there as well.

These issues can create a difficult challenge in an educational setting. Our students have multiple ways to access information now, but they don’t have the skill sets to make the most informed decisions about resources and data. The new Common Core State Standards are challenging students to be able to:

  • Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Gather relevant information form multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research (Common Core State Standards, 2014).

In order to teach our students how to determine the legitimacy of resources. Here are some questions you can ask your students:

  • What is your topic?
  • What is the URL?
  • Is the extension appropriate to the content?
  • Who is the author?
  • Is there contact information for the author?
  • What are the author’s credentials?
  • Does the site appear to be professional?
  • Are there typos and other errors?
  • What is the purpose of the sire?
  • Is there bias? If so, what is it?
  • Is this a primary or secondary source?
  • Are the citations or a bibliography?
  • Is there a date for the publication/revision of the page?
  • Does the information seem in depth and comprehensive?
  • Overall Evaluation…

(Gutherie, 2013).

As an educator, what might you do, or set in place in your classroom to get your students in the habit of analyzing their resources? What changes do you foresee needing to take place within your classroom, within your school, within your district to better accommodate the integration of technology in the classroom, and bring our students’ learning experience in to the 21st century?

Some other issues that can impact the use of technology has to do with the users. From my personal career experiences prior to teaching (I worked for Apple..and now run my own technology consulting/training business) this is what I have observed:

There is a want and need to stay current with technology, but a sever lack of understanding

  • Many people only use their devices for basic use partially because they do not know how to go beyond it, or a fear of doing something wrong
  • There is an innate fear of the ‘just go for it’ mentality when it comes to technology, because they might break it, or do something wrong that they can not fix
  • Unwillingness to learn and try something new

Personally, I think that mobile devices, apps and technology are going to change the way we learn. I think they belong in the classroom. I think that we need to prepare our students better when it comes to acceptable use, and what the expectations are for using technology for learning. Additionally, I think that schools need to find a better way to accommodate the integration of technology into schools. This list contains some of the things I feel they would need to consider:

  • Funding to provide each student and teacher with up-to-date technology
  • Increased funding and personnel for IT support in each school within the district
  • Meaningful training that actually applies to the use of the technology in the classroom
  • Updated curriculum that supports a learning environment that supports technology use
  • Updated classrooms that support the use of technology

My vision and philosophy for the use of technology in public k-12 classrooms is ideal, and will take a long while to happen, probably towards the end of my teaching career…but I think it is a step in the right direction.

One of the ways we can combat some of these issues is by taking some personal initiative to stay ahead of the curve, or at least in it! ‘Next steps’ can be difficult to figure out when technology is changing so frequently. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that there is more to stay on top of. To remain as prepared as possible  it requires a rather large chunk of dedication, time and research on your part. “This generation of students is considered more competent in use of technology (ie, tech-savvy) than previous generations because they have been surrounded by technology all of their lives.5 However, professors are finding that the students are selectively tech-savvy, with comfort levels limited to the use of social media for social interaction and entertainment rather than programs and activities designed to increase productivity.5-7 As educators in this current environment, we now have to become comfortable with technology, which may include teaching students how to use technology more productively for the mastery of course content rather than for social interaction” (Thiele, Mai and Post, pp. 80). It is very evident that the new generation of students is setting a new bar when it comes to the integration of technology in the classroom. It is not a matter if whether or not we choose to incorporate the technology, its a matter of when and how soon.

In order for me to stay ahead, or at least on par with the current technologies out there. Part of my personal practices include talking with students about what types of apps, technologies and softwares they are currently using. Often times is a student is really passionate about what they are sharing, I will ask them to show me how to use it, or something they have made from it. Another practice I intend to keep using is staying connected with news and updates via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Social media platforms are a great way to read snippets about new and upcoming things. Another practice I hope to continue is staying as up to date as possible with Apple software and technologies. For example, every year they have their WWDC (world wide developer’s conference) and then broadcast the keynote. I make an effort to watch it, and if possible complete the updates to experience the technology for myself. Lastly, the best thing we can all do to stay as current as possible is to just get out there and try anything we come across, within reason (barring any potential computer viruses!).

When I research and explore new technologies, the questions I would want answered are:

-How would this positively impact my professional experience as a teacher?

-How would this positively impact my students learning experience?

-What would I need to do and/or have access to in order to implement the use of this in my classroom, or the school?

-How is this applicable to what my students are learning, and their lives?

-How will this help them in the future?

-How quickly will this become antiquated?

-What are the costs associated with this?

-How will this impact the current curriculum?

-What do I need to adjust in order to successfully adapt the use of this technology in my class?

Ultimately, the best way for me to maintain an up to date view of current and future technology is to immerse myself as fully as possible by utilizing the resources I have.

 

If you are finding the “Ahead of the Curve” thing to be a bit of a challenge, check out some of these websites below…you may find them helpful:

http://www.pinterest.com/uvaseas/tech-tips-to-stay-ahead-of-the-curve/

http://www.lynda.com/default.aspx

https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/

References:

English Language Arts Standards » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing. (2014, January 1). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/W/

Gutherie, E. (2013, August 27). Teaching Students to Determine Credibility of Online Sources (Free Student Handout!). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://secondarysolutionsblog.com/credible-online-sources/

Metzger, M. (2007). Making sense of credibility on the web: Models for evaluating online information and recommendations for future research. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(13), 2078-2091.

Nathan, L., MacGougan, A., & Shaffer, E. (2014). If Not Us, Who? Social Media Policy and the iSchool Classroom. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), 112-132.

Thiele, A. K., Mai, J. A., & Post, S. (2014). The Student-Centered Classroom of the 21st Century: Integrating Web 2.0 Applications and Other Technology to Actively Engage Students. Journal Of Physical Therapy Education, 28(1), 80-93.

Brought to you by a 3D printer near you…

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3D printing is one of the coolest things I have seen in a while, and I’ll admit that I had a major nerd moment when I first heard about it and saw it in action. I mean, c’mon, you are able to print three-dimensional objects…from nothing! I know it takes a little bit of work on your end, you have to learn how to use it, and the software too, but the end result is AMAZING! I got even more excited in October when a fellow CT art teacher presented on how her students were using the 3D printer in art classes! There are several practicing artists who are using a 3D printers as their medium of choice. Check out some of the work being done with 3D printers by practicing artists:

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Quayola-3d-printing

Stratasys-Neri-Oxman-3d-printing-AL-QAMAR

Check out these links to view more work being created:

http://3dprintingindustry.com/art-sculpture/page/2/

http://www.joshharker.com

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20120127-tel-aviv-artist-eyal-gever-recreated-natural-disasters-with-3d-printing.html

Meanwhile, there are many K-12 public schools that are starting to take notice of how 3D printers can impact student learning. Many secondary level schools are starting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. Often times these programs integrate the use of 3D printers into the curriculum, if they have the funding or grants to accommodate the need.

“In the past five years, there has been tremendous growth in the production and use of desktop 3D printers. This growth has been driven by the increasing availability of inexpensive computing and electronics technologies. The ability to rapidly share ideas and intelligence over the Internet has also played a key role in the growth. Growth is also spread widely because Internet communities allow people to share designs that can be manufactured and reengineered without leaving their desks. President Obama even recognized this technological change when he stated, “3D Printing is the wave of the future,” in his 2013 State of the Union Address (Obama, 2013). Educational institutions at all levels are beginning to recognize the value of 3D printing technology and have begun to incorporate these machines into their laboratories. A 3D printer facilitates the interactive instruction in technical concepts and systems consistent with the nation’s focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning initiatives. President Obama has proposed new manufacturing tax breaks that will create more robust research and development spending. This shift in focus is aimed at advanced manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing, to bring a competitive edge back to America (Foroohar and Saporito, 2013)” (Martin, Bowden and Merrill. pp. 30).

Essentially, 3D printing allows the user to create three-dimensional physical objects from a digital file. Printer brands like MakerBot in conjunction with software programs like Thingiverse and Tinkercad allow students to develop original designs to print. (Moorfield-Lang, pp. 70). The learning that surrounds the use of a 3D printer in an educational setting is innumerable. For example, in some school districts they are combining biology classes with art classes. At Rocky Hill High School in Connecticut, one of their art courses “allows students to explore the relationship between biology and art through studio art assignments that address the foundation drawing and digital design goals while incorporating and offering alternative approaches to understanding biology content. Students enrolled in the biology course will spend their laboratory day exercising direct observational drawing and other related skills. The remaining 4 days of the week, students will execute a more rigorous drawing and digital design curriculum per the descriptions below. This course allows students in biology to fulfill their foundation art year and may fulfill the Computer Literacy graduation requirement. Upon completion of this course, students have taken the equivalent of Drawing I and Digital Design I” (Rocky Hill High School Course Offerings, pp. 2). At the annual Connecticut Art Educator’s Association conference the teacher presented the work her students created. One of her students replicated a 4”x4” shape hundreds of times with the 3D printer, and an intricate ear cuff piece as a fashion design, inspired by a shape found in nature. She then found a way to house a heart rate monitor in the ear cuff. The student connected the biology of the human and plants to artwork through the assistance of a 3D Printer.

Some other projects include designing cell phone cases, moving parts for armatures and prosthetics. The benefits to projects like this, really help the students develop high-level problem solving skills, and function at the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, create. “Innovation and imagination are repeatedly suggested as crucial characteristics of 21st century students (Friedman & Mandelbaum, 2011; Wagner, 2012). Occasions to explore, create, and redesign offer students opportunities to apply their imaginations through design. 3D printing provides a potential platform for specific skill-based processes, but without the time requirement necessary to directly demonstrate mastery of the associated skillsets. Thus, at a time when manufacturing is becoming more readily accessible for individual users, this drastically reduces time, equipment, and training required for the physical creation of a product. Therefore, design challenges should have increased focus on the design conception, prototyping stage, and evaluation; not necessarily focus on the production and manufacturing of the product” (Sutton, Grubbs, and Ernst, pp. 12).

I think what’s interesting to note is that there are many opportunities to bring together more than one academic course. For example, in RockyHill High School, they combine art and biology. The cellphone case project would require students to combine art and math. Some of the work above is combing natural disasters and art. There are endless possibilities, but the teachers need to be educated first so we can challenge our students to take the leap!

While this technology is promising, there are some challenges that need to be overcome first before there is an impact on student learning. Finances aside, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to using a 3D printer in the class. The teacher would need to familiarize themselves with the device itself, any necessary troubleshooting and materials to make it functions properly, accompanying software to create the digital design files, downloadable templates that are safe for student use, and revisit curriculum and lessons. These all need to happen before the students start classes. Once they start, there is a new set of hurdles that must be overcome. The students would need a basic crash-course on how to use the selected software and the printer. Overtime, once the basic steps were memorized, then the students can work at a higher level.

As these printers become more accessible for schools to access, and course offerings support the use of these printers, student learning will be more engaging. The students will be engaged in a curriculum that is asking them to develop creative solutions to difficult problems.

What do impact do you think 3D printing will have on student learning? Are your schools already utilizing this technology? What are some other projects that you think would be interesting for students to take on? How might we be able to combine more than one academic course to engage the students in a collaborative learning experience?

 

If you think you are ready to take the plunge, check out MakerBot’s website to find out which 3D printer is best for you! http://www.makerbot.com

And…on a little side note, if you are an educator in desperate need of funding for something like this…you may want to venture over to DonorsChoose.org to start a project to fund your printer. From what I have heard from other educators, many of the 3D printer companies are looking to get their name out there, and may give you your printer!

Happy creating!

References:

MARTIN, R. r., BOWDEN, N. n., & MERRILL, C. c. (2014). 3D Printing. Technology & Engineering Teacher, 73(8), 30-35.

Moorefield-Lang, H. h. (2014). 3-D Printing in Your Libraries and Classrooms. Knowledge Quest, 43(1), 70-72.

SUTTON, K., GRUBBS, M. E., & ERNST, J. (2014). designing under constraints: CELL PHONE CASE DESIGN CHALLENGE. Technology & Engineering Teacher, 74(2), 12.

There’s an App for that!

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Technology has made quite the impact on our lives, and is now starting to sneak its way into the classroom. It is quite amazing how the app market has grown over the last few years. Having worked for Apple for a couple of years, I follow the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference). Over the years it has gained so much interest and popularity, the tickets are highly coveted and now sell out within seconds! Apple announces new technologies and softwares at the WWDC, and integrates specific iOS tools kits for app developers. Conferences like this are a valuable experience for app hopefuls because we start to see hundreds of apps flooding the market that can potentially meet our needs. Ideally, we could eventually develop our own apps, with the help of an app!

The integration of mobile apps in the classroom has immense potential to impact a student’s learning, however, there are some roadblocks that must be overcome first. The issue is not so much the students ability to access and utilize the apps, but the teachers. There is a large split between generations in the education field when it comes to teachers. The older generation is not as fluent as the younger generation when it comes to technology. Having worked for Apple, I had to conduct consumer level training sessions, and here are some of the things I noticed with the older generation:

  • There is a want and need to stay current with technology, but a sever lack of understanding
  • Many people only use their devices for basic use partially because they do not know how to go beyond it, or a fear of doing something wrong
  • There is an innate fear of the ‘just go for it’ mentality when it comes to technology, because they might break it, or do something wrong that they can not fix
  • Unwillingness to learn and try something new

In order for apps to have a positive impact on student learning, there are quite a few things that need to be addressed. However, I think this list will take a while to occur within all public schools nation wide because there is such a discrepancy between accessibility, funding, and many other things:

  • Funding to provide each student and teacher with up-to-date technology
  • Increased funding and personnel for IT support in each school within the district
  • Meaningful training that actually applies to the use of the technology in the classroom
  • Updated curriculum that supports a learning environment that supports technology use
  • Updated classrooms that support the use of technology

Some of the app integration I have observed by my colleagues is fascinating. One of the french teachers at my previous schools utilized iBooks Author. She scanned in pages from numerous resources, added in definitions of certain words, audio recordings, pdf quizzes, web links and other resources. She then published the ebook for all of the students who were using the custom ‘textbook’. The little caveat is that her particular class was piloting an iPad Mini program, so each student had access to a mobile device, which made this activity possible.

Here is a list of apps that you can use in your classroom to help enhance your students’ learning experience: http://www.teachthought.com/apps-2/the-55-best-best-free-education-apps-for-ipad/

What are some of the apps you use in your classroom or personal life that has impacted your learning?

Virtual You, Virtual Me, Real Learning…

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Virtual worlds…they have been around for quite some time, and are often associated with video gaming or social interaction activities. However, there is a new storm brewing on the forefront of technology. Virtual worlds like SecondLife are being used to provide an educational learning experience to students. Who would have thunk?!

Many of us have experienced some type of virtual world experience whether it be through a video game or apps of sorts. Some that come to mind are: any gaming console like Wii, PS4 XBOX, etc., Farmville, The Sims, The Simpsons Tapped Out, Second Life, etc. However, how many of you would say that you have participated in those worlds for a learning experience? I think many of us don’t tend to think about using apps or games like these for a defined learning experience. While many of those games have specific tasks that need to be accomplished, and sometimes require a certain amount of an item, like currency or points they can indicate indicated achievement and success. The same principles could be applied to a learning experience. In an educational setting, many learning activities are driven by objectives or desired outcomes. Open virtual worlds like SecondLife make it difficult to narrow down learning experiences because they are so broad. While that has it’s pluses, I think it would be difficult for a teacher to engage students in a specific learning activity with a broad program.

Currently, I do not associate learning experiences with 3D virtual worlds like Second Life, the Sims, or any other similar platform, because they are not designed to guide a participant to achieving a specific outcome or objective. They are merely a participatory experience where you can interact with others, human or AI. I believe that the education world has a while to go before virtual worlds have a place in our learning environments. I am thinking about the current struggles many public K-12 districts are going through just to get computers, SmartBoards, projectors, or other technology devices in their schools. Not to mention that IT support for districts is a large battle. Coming from the perspective of a teacher, time and training is another large issue. I think there is immense potential for virtual worlds to impact learning down the road, but it will require dedicated time and training to ensure that the teachers can successfully implement such activities to positively impact student learning.

I think there is potential for activities surround art history. Janette Grenfell from Deakin University published a paper that discusses the University’s use of virtual worlds for art based activities. “These constructed environments support interaction between communities of learners and enable multiple simultaneous participants to access graphically built 3D (three dimensional) environments, interact with digital artifacts and various functional tools and represent themselves through avatars, to communicate with other participants and engage in collaborative art learning” (Grenfell, pp. 391). I think a 3D virtual world would be a great way to introduce students to a specific culture or time period, and the art derived from it. At Newtown Middle School, we teach art through a cultural timeline, and we are always looking for a way to introduce a culture in an interesting way to the students, because it can be boring. A virtual world would allow them to interact with the culture, associated artifacts and each other to start a dialogue about what they have observed and their reactions. Something like this would require us art teachers to have the time and capabilities to develop such an environment catered to our specific needs. Currently, we are struggling just to find time to meet as a whole district art cohort to revise curriculum, so I am not too sure where we would find the time and support to develop something like this. Eventually, I think we will see this in the classroom, but it has a while to go before it gets there.

In the meantime, here are some websites on helpful tips on how you might integrate virtual worlds into learning experiences in your classroom:

http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/top-20-uses-of-virtual-worlds-in-education/

http://www.societyforhistoryeducation.org/pdfs/A13_Morgan.pdf

http://www.avatarstorytellers.com/default.asp?iId=HILHG

References:

Grenfell, J. (2013). The Best of All Worlds: Immersive Interfaces for Art Education in Virtual and Real World Teaching and Learning Environments. Online Submission.

Ready…Set…Play!

gaming-in-education

I think games have an important part in the learning experience, because they provide us with a hands-on opportunity for us to interact with information either as an individual or in a team. We are hardwired to interact with technology, so why not have the content and material presented to us in a way that is native?

As an educator, one of the biggest challenges we face is finding ways to instill creative thinking and problem solving into our students so they can go into the future ready to reach new heights. Richardson points out, “They’re developing problem-solving and ‘tinkering’ skills,learning how to use trial and error effectively, and learning some basic physics principles,’ she says. ‘They spontaneously collaborate with and coach each other, and I have them write strategies for different levels to share with others, so they’re also developing their ability to reduce a series of complicated steps into a concise strategy and to communicate that clearly for an authentic audience” (Richardson, pp. 44).

As a teacher, and as a student I have interacted with games that review materials or concepts, in preparation for a test or quiz of some sorts. These are a great way for students to interact with one another, and participate in a game that supports learning. However, games like this do not require students to problem solve or actively rethink their strategies for achieving success.

Ironically enough, when I taught my digital design courses, the introduction level course had a final at the end of the year. As a teacher, I had no interest in giving them a test to complete, or a short two-hour project. I wanted to give them a project that provided them with guided creative freedom and required them to demonstrate all of the skills they have acquired over the year. The final project required each intro student to develop and design a new board game that was to be played by their peers on the final exam day. This project was perfect for a few reasons:

  1. The students had to develop all of the components for the game: the logo, the rule book, the board, the cards, the player pieces, and anything else their game required that I couldn’t provide (I provided dice, player pieces, chips, etc.). This component forced them to use all three software programs that were covered over the course of the year, and they had to dig deep to achieve results that were aesthetically pleasing…because we all know that looks are important when it comes to advertising, sales and playability.
  2. The students had to play their peers games. This forced the students to problem solve. They had to figure out how to create a game that actually worked. They had to take into consideration numerous factors and potential outcomes and find ways to make sure the game was playable.
  3. Their final was self and peer evaluated. I supervised their final period, and guided them through the expectations of the 2-hours. They had to complete evaluations of the games after they played them. And, who doesn’t like to play board games? Board games instead of a multiple choice final….I think yes!

While this wasn’t  any type of digitized game, the idea of playing games was still incorporated along with the added element of developing and designing a game from scratch. I felt that this particular project really highlighted what the students took away from the course. As the article stated before, the students were coaching each other, and I saw the same effect in the classroom when my students were completing their final projects in the 5 or 6 weeks prior to the final exam period.

When I think of gaming in the classroom, I think of board games or video games. Some of the software platforms that are available to us to make our own are not as adaptive as I wish. Many of them act like an interactive quiz, as opposed to a game like Angry Birds. There are many apps on mobile devices that teach core academic principles. For example, Angry Birds allows for students to apply their knowledge of physics in order to beat each level. I strongly believe that over the next few years, we will see games and apps that allow for us to connect core academic areas to gaming in an educational setting.

In the meantime, here are some websites that highlight some learning games for kids. I think they are geared towards elementary levels, but there are no reasons why games like The Sims, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, etc. couldn’t be worked into a higher level educational setting.

http://gettingsmart.com/2012/11/30-of-the-best-educational-ipad-games-kids-edition/

http://lifehacker.com/the-best-educational-apps-and-games-for-kids-1302569890

http://www.funeducationalapps.com/best-kids-game-apps/

http://techland.time.com/2012/09/04/top-25-ipad-apps-for-kids/

http://www.appolicious.com/articles/13035-top-35-must-have-educational-iphone-and-ipad-apps-used-by-real-teachers-in-the-classroom

http://bestappsforkids.com/category/apps-by-age-grade/high-school-apps-by-age-grade/

References:

Richardson, W. (2012). Gaming GAINS Respect. District Administration, 48(7), 44.

Bueller….Bueller….Anyone…Anyone?

large ferris buellers day off blu-ray4

 

It seems in the 20+ years I have been in school, I have come across my fair share of boring presentations. I distinctly remember sitting in numerous college course, namely the large lecture ones, thinking….”Why am I paying for this? The professor posts all of the presentations and slides on their website. Why do I even bother coming to class?”  I think as education forges ahead, we really need to rethink our method of information delivery. There are so many more engaging ways to share and present information.

Now, I am not saying that presentations don’t have a place in education, they most certainly do. However, they should not be the sole practice. We each learn and obtain information through various ways, and a presentation would only cover one of those ways.

Presentations are an important part of our learning process and journey. The true definition of a presentation has to do with the presenting of ‘something’ to another person. I think often times, especially in today’s society, the term ‘presentation’ is associated with a PowerPoint or Keynote slideshow. However, in reality, information can be presented to us through a multitude of venues like a book, a slideshow, a paper, images, verbal communication, videos, music, etc.

I believe that a presentation is a valuable part of our learning experience as long as the information is clear, and that is not the ‘be all, end all’ for a learning activity. I have found myself in many situations that a presentation, namely a slide show, was the ONLY means of a learning activity. Additionally, the presenter read all of the information right of the slides. One of my goals when I present information in my classroom, is to keep it short and sweet. I want the students interacting with each other and researching their own information. Art is a kinesthetic experience, therefore, presentations should serve the purpose of inspiring my students and providing them with foundational information. There are many benefits of PowerPoint presentations, they help the students with “understanding the content, in memorizing the content, the facility of presenting the content with the help of figures, tables, drawings, signs and symbols. The responses have proved that the entire teaching – learning process becomes interesting, live, meaningful and effective” (Indumathy, pp. 1).

If you find yourself in need of presenting a presentation, check out this article by Forbes on various ways to make sure your presentation is NOT boring:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2014/05/01/never-give-a-boring-presentation-again/

References:

INDUMATHY, R. (2011). A STUDY ON EFFECTIVENESS OF POWER POINT PRESENTATION IN TEACHING – LEARNING PROCESS OF MBA PROGRAMME WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SNS GROUP OF INSTITUTIONS, COIMBATORE. Asia Pacific Journal Of Research In Business Management, 2(11), 1.

Not so far, far away….

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The world wide web has created this space to house a wealth of information that one could have only dreamed of prior to 1989. Our students can now access data and materials on a global scale, foster connections with people who are hundreds of miles away from them, and even interact or participate in classes or discussions that are taking place in different countries. For some, these can be quite intimidating to navigate if they don’t have the proper skills and ‘know-how’ to be successful.

To me, this is one of our greatest challenges in education at the moment. How do we educate our students on the use of the world wide web as a learning tool? Well, for starters, as a teacher, one of the best ways of achieving this is to develop learning activities that incorporate the use of legitimate data, and require the students to conduct their research using the internet. In my last post, I discussed some questions that would serve as a great base for students as they start their research. Questions that they can ask themselves as they come across data and other resources.

It’s time to put your teacher hat on…even if you aren’t one. What type of learning activity might you create that incorporates the use of data and research found online? Take into consideration the different levels of students…how might you differentiate the level of the activity to accommodate an independent learner, a learner who requires some support and a learner who might complete the activity at a participatory level? How will the students turn the collected data and research into a project or activity that requires them to perform at the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy…create?

Here is a learning activity I created for the art room:

learning challenge _ museum curation

As you start to plan your activity, you may want to read this article by Scholastic. It does a great job of breaking down what you may want to consider, and the type of project.

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/students-and-class-projects-using-internet

Happy planning! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Yes, no, maybe so…

Last week’s blog post was about whether or not social media has a place in the classroom. This week we will explore how we can better equip our children with the tools to decipher if the resources they find are credible.

As an adult, I would like to think that we are better equipped to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate sources. Seeking out the best, most reliable resources requires a bit of footwork. As educators we must teach our students how to go about that footwork to make sure that they too can find credible resources. “The plethora of information available online, coupled with heavy reliance on the Internet by information seekers raise issues of the credibility or quality of information found online” (Metzger, pp. 2078). Not only is the large amount of information that can be accessed, it also allows for any person to be an author. There aren’t as many guidelines that regulate publishing online, so credibility is in question there as well.

These issues can create a difficult challenge in an educational setting. Our students have multiple ways to access information now, but they don’t have the skill sets to make the most informed decisions about resources and data. The new Common Core State Standards are challenging students to be able to:

  • Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Gather relevant information form multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research (Common Core State Standards, 2014).

In order to teach our students how to determine the legitimacy of resources. Here are some questions you can ask your students:

  • What is your topic?
  • What is the URL?
  • Is the extension appropriate to the content?
  • Who is the author?
  • Is there contact information for the author?
  • What are the author’s credentials?
  • Does the site appear to be professional?
  • Are there typos and other errors?
  • What is the purpose of the sire?
  • Is there bias? If so, what is it?
  • Is this a primary or secondary source?
  • Are the citations or a bibliography?
  • Is there a date for the publication/revision of the page?
  • Does the information seem in depth and comprehensive?
  • Overall Evaluation…

(Gutherie, 2013).

If we can get our students into the habit of running through this process as they are researching resources, then they will be well on their way to exceeding the Common Core State Standards.

To find out more about what people’s thoughts were on the use of social media in the classroom were, I conducted a survey. If you view the mind map image, you can see the results.

New-Mind-Map_3po5toue

Here is a link to some questions you may want to have your students ask themselves before they start exploring what they have found: http://secondarysolutionsblog.com/credible-online-sources/

 

References:

English Language Arts Standards » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing. (2014, January 1). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/W/

Gutherie, E. (2013, August 27). Teaching Students to Determine Credibility of Online Sources (Free Student Handout!). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://secondarysolutionsblog.com/credible-online-sources/

Metzger, M. (2007). Making sense of credibility on the web: Models for evaluating online information and recommendations for future research. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(13), 2078-2091.

Tucker, C. (2014, June 20). Common Core: Evaluating The Credibility of Digital Sources. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://catlintucker.com/2013/06/common-core-evaluating-research-credibility/

Socially Acceptable in Schools

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Social media has become so engrained in many individuals daily practices, so much so, that some don’t know how to cope without it. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, etc. have widened the doors of communication. We can now communicate to each other through photographs, videos, status updates, etc. While these social media venues are great for our daily social interactions, they seem to have a bad rap when it comes to being in our daily lives at school.

My question to all of you nay sayers or those of you on the fence, is this: Isn’t learning supposed to be a social experience? 

While there are large concerns like safety, privacy and ownership surrounding the use of social media, there are some wonderful benefits to utilizing these tools within the classroom. There must be some groundwork laid on our part as educators, simply because most of our current classroom practices are not ready to introduce the use of social media as an acceptable use of learning. Our students are also not accustomed to the use of social media for learning. In order to introduce and successful integrate the use of social media into the classroom, we must teach our students how to safely navigate and interact with social media for learning purposes. We must teach them about privacy and how anything posted leaves a permanent digital footprint. We must teach them how to properly borrow/share others original ideas, and how to protect their own. This will take quite a bit of time and effort on quite a few peoples part, however, the impact it will have on the learning experience can only be positive. “Social networking tools offer opportunities for innovative, participative pedagogical practice within traditional institutional frameworks. However, tensions continue to develop within this space: between creativity and security, personal and professional identity, privacy and openness. We argue that iSchools are uniquely positioned to create proactive, adaptive policies guiding the pedagogical use of social media and offer initial recommendations toward the crafting of such policies. If we expect information school graduates to be proficient and critical users of perpetually evolving social media technologies, we need to create learning environments that support the ethical, reflective and effective use of these tools” (Nathan, MacGougan, and Shaffer, pp. 112).

The last argument that I would like to make, is pointed out in the quotation above. If companies are expecting to hire technologically savvy individuals who are well versed in an array of social media, then we must take the time to use these tools in our schools. Starting them off in college is not enough time for our students to figure out how to use social media tools for learning. I would go so far as to say that by college most of the students have been using social media for at least 5 to 6 years. That’s five to size years of untapped potential!

Here is a great article by Edutopia that will help you determine if social media is relevant, what the myths surrounding the use of social media in the classroom, and 12 ways teachers are already using social media in the classroom. Click here to read the full article:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/guidebook-social-media-in-classroom-vicki-davis

References:

Nathan, L., MacGougan, A., & Shaffer, E. (2014). If Not Us, Who? Social Media Policy and the iSchool Classroom. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), 112-132.