Monday, April 27, 2009

Salon #13: Researching and Evaluating Digital Storytelling as a Deep Learning Tool (Helen C. Barrett)

Digital storytelling is a great tool to get students engaged. Instead of sitting their listening to a teacher explain a war that wasn't to interesting, a photostory can take it to a whole other level. You can add music and pictures that make it more intriguing, as we saw in the Komagata Maru photostory. In our discussion many people spoke about how they use it and the effectiveness in their classroom. I teach math so I think it would be a little more difficult for me to try and incorporate this but for other subjects it is wonderful! Stories are always better when accompanied with pictures. It makes more of a connection.

Salon #10: The Art of Building Virtual Communities

A virtual community is the gathering of people, in an online "space" where they come, communicate and connect with one another. It is what you make of it. I think when you start an online learning community you need to have specific goals of what you are trying to do. You need a community who is active and has consistent participation. Each person should be contributing something to the community. Knowing information is great but sharing makes you a community. It doesn't matter how big a community is but how much each person brings to the table. People who communicate and help out others who are in need are sometimes rewarded with brownie points which can be used towards a prize. This is to motivate everyone to help each other and keep a healthy environment. I think from a professional point of view this could be a great thing. As long as topics are approriate and people are contributing it will be beneficial. There will be people lurking, learning, and leading. I think classroom2.0 is a great online community. There are many different groups to join and interact with. There are times where I am lurking, sometimes I am learning and othertimes I am contributing and leading a conversation. As we worked on our collaboration I wanted to see if anyone had any fun songs, videos, or power points so I posted into the highschool math section of classroom 2.0 and people responded and I was able to add those into my project. I think with good intent virtuall communities are an excellent tool.

Salon #9: Minds On Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail and Learning 2.0 (John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler)

In the salon we talked about technology used in the classroom and I found it very interesting. As we discussed, it is a very useful tool but it is also very time consuming. People seemed to feel there was a disconnect between what our school tells us to do and what we can actually do with technology. As a new teacher, we are expected to do alot and now we have to also use technology. When using technology you have to learn it first or make up something that is useful and then try to implement it. There are times where the interent is down when I tried to do a lesson. There are times when the laptops are dead or not all are working so now instead of pairs they are in groups of 4. When technology is used the right way it is extremely helpful for students. Perhaps school districts can use professional development days to talk about technology rather then things that are not as useful. Math is sometimes a difficult subject to try and incorporate technology. I try and use geometry sketchpad, jeopardy and webquests but it isn't easy. Math to me is all about practice. Students need paper and pen and need to practice questions. Geometry sketchpad it definitly a good tool but when you have a regents at the end of the year and not much time it is hard to try and always use this technology.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cognitive Learning Environments

"Cognitive learning environments focus on helping students encode information meaningfully to long-term memory so that it can be easily retrieved." There are many times when I ask my students to think back to a topic and they tell me they don't remember anything. In math, everything you learn builds on prior knowledge. If you don't understand something as simple as adding and subtracting you will not be able to move on and fully comprehend what is going on. Students do not easily remember things and need different tools to help them. Whenever I start a new topic I try and give my students a do now that involves them in discovering or recalling something that will be relevant for that lesson. Last week, I did a lesson on the discriminant. I first made them an organizer that would help them have everything in order and easy to understand. They were the asked to find the roots of 4 problems using the quadratic formula. After they finished that, I told them that the discriminant will tell us what type of roots we have. The discriminant is a part of the quadratic formula. As a class, we looked at each problem and decided based on the discriminant what will the roots be and why it worked out that way. There organizer helped them to stay focused and not get confused, they were building on something that they already knew. They were then able to connect this new information to exisiting knowledge. Students sometimes need to have an organizer because they don't know where you are going with your lesson and they may not have written it down in the best possible way to go back and understand it. I remember being in school and your teacher would use the whole chalk board and have everything right next to each other but you didn't have that much space on y0ur paper so you quickly tried to write it underneath and it just didn't do the same thing that it would have if it were right next to it. When you have an organizer set up so that they have to write one thing in one box and another in a different box, at least you know there notes are well structured. The only downfall is that students should be learning how to take good notes. There are certain days although I think a good organizer goes a long way. These are just some of the tools that I have read about and have used in my classroom and notice that they have worked.

Monday, November 5, 2007


There was a lot to read about constructivism but I think I have a pretty good idea now about what it is. Constructivist learning environments focus on giving students authentic, real-world problems to solve. Constructivism emphasizes the importance of the learner being actively involved in the learning process. I think it is extremely important to have a hands on experience when learning. Students shouldn't have to sit there and listen and write. They should be able to be learn and build from previous knowledge. I teach math so students almost have to be actively engaged to understand what is going on. They also need to understand how the math they are learning relates to real life. Students are constantly asking "when am I going to use this in real life?" I always try to make sure I have an example ready for them because that is one way to get them involved. When that doesn't work I try and give them a hands on experience. I recently did a group project in my Contemporary Math class on Pascal's Triangle. Each group member had a different part and had to find out through the internet about their part. There were 4 parts, Historian, Technician, Analyst, and Artist. They were motivated to do this because they were able to use the computer to look up there information. I had given them a basic summary the day before about Pascal's triangle and they had to go more in depth in each of there areas. Once they researched there part, as a group they presented to the class. Each group presented in a different way. One group used power point, another a poster and one even did a rap about Pascal's triangle. I was truly happy with the way everybody presented and was involved the whole time. A constructivist classroom is definitely a good way to learn!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Flash Workshop

I went to the flash workshops over the weekend. Unfortunately I have not gotten the program yet so it was difficult to follow along. I was able to borrow a laptop in the first session but I had to share with someone. In the second session I had my own laptop but the program was to old and didn't do certain things. I did find it intersting to learn about flash but I am not sure exactly how useful it is for a classroom. If anybody has any ideas of how flash is useful in a class, specifically math, I would appreciate you leaving me a comment.

Monday, October 22, 2007

GLEF article

I usually don't enjoy reading articles and was not looking forward to this assignemnt. After reading though, I really enjoyed the GLEF article. I read the "Caring Schools and Emotional Intellgience" article giving ten tips to creating caring schools. I thought it was great to read an article and be able to comment on it as well as read other peoples comments about it. The article gave great strategies that I would definitely try to impelment in my classes.