Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where's My Water????

Heard of this game?  Well my 8 year old son LOVES it...and I it's fun and GREAT for problem solving.  My iPad had been commandeered most of our spring break.  I stopped to think what this app affords.  The main thing is problem solving.  You have to create a path for water to get to a little alligator who's trying to take a shower.  Of course there are obstacles in the way as the levels get harder!  He's become quite the little expert in this game.  He understands cause and effect and the physics of the game.  He also uses math to figure out how many more ducks he needs to unlock the next set of challenges.  

Did you know all of this learning could come from a seemingly "worthless" game? I did! Games teach all sorts of great things. From hand/eye coordination to problem solving to computation to simulations to physics.  Next time you play a game think about all the thinking that goes into it.  Or next time you watch your kids play a game watch to see what they are learning without even knowing they are learning it...it's a real eye opener.

Benefits of mobile learning for students with special needs.....

I've seen it in action.  Mobile learning is very beneficial for special education students, especially those with severe learning disabilities. By mobile learning, I'm specifically talking about iPads (or other tablets).  You can bring the learning directly to the students, whether they be wheelchair bound or have limited mobility.  Tablets are also perfect for students who have limited visibility.  Tablets can be held very close to the students allowing immediate interaction.  

Educators and app creators have noticed the benefit of using iPads with students with special needs. There are now many apps that are geared toward these students. 

If you haven't tried using an iPad or other tablet with your students, try it soon and you'll see the learning that can happen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

digital video editing...not for the faint at heart....

So, we got some experience with digital video editing recently and I can tell you, it was quite frustrating.  It took us a lot of time to edit our video only to have it completely fail on us.  Good thing, our buddy Laura, who has tons of patience was working on the editing, because I'm pretty sure if it had been me, something would have gotten broken. ;)  

I'm thinking that I would leave this experience with older students in MS or HS.  It's a complicated process in the best of times.     Also, another lesson learned was to make sure cameras are compatible with your computer....that was not the case here. 

Glogster....a web-based collaborative tool to increase student engagement...

Ever try Glogster?  It's my new favorite tool for students to showcase their knowledge.  It's an interactive poster that allows students to add text, backgrounds, videos, images, sound, etc.  Studying famous Americans? Students can create a glog that has everything from images, sound recordings, primary sources, etc.  How about a book report or character study?  Done and done....students really have to think about design when creating a glog.  If they've read Hunger Games, then they wouldn't chose backgrounds with pretty flowers and hearts, they would need to think about the theme or mood of the book and choose their "decorations" accordingly.  

Using Glogster also gives students the experience of searching for and citing appropriate media for their glogs.  Students can also comment and critique their peers' glogs as well.  

The students I've used this with LOVE working with it. It's motivating and fun.  I always start with allowing them to create a glog about themselves just for funThis gets the "playing" out of the way.

I highly recommend giving it a try. :)   http://edu.glogster.com

Monday, March 5, 2012

Web-based Learning from 1.0 to 2.0

I designed a web-based collaborative learning project that uses the web 1.0. 

Project description:
In order for 5th graders to get a better handle on North American geography they will create a scrapbook of the different regions of North America based on information collected/shared/exchanged by students within each region.  Students from around NA will post information about climate, landmarks, landforms, etc, along with photos, or videos or their regions.  Then the students will use that information to create a scrapbook.

This project has a collaborative feature in which students can add information, but only through the project email/organizer.  The project organizer would have to upload all images and information to the site. 

How would this look as a Web 2.0 project?  Using a wiki would allow students to post from anywhere around the country the information needed for the scrapbook. The information would be posted immediately, so there's no lag time of waiting for the project organizer to upload information.  She would only need to keep and eye on what's being posted for accuracy and neatness. A wiki is easy to use and edit, so students can take charge of their own projects.

A challenge of the wiki would be the possibility of items being inadvertently (or purposefully deleted).    

I believe that this project would work better as a Web 2.0 project than a 1.0 project!  :)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hello.....hello....is this thing on??

Podcasts....ever heard of them?  Just do a Google search and you will find hundreds of them.  Podcasts are basically a voice recording on a topic that's posted to the internet.   They are usually set up as a series of recordings all set around a certain topic.  They often have music and can sometimes have "guest speakers" or interviews.  The word podcast came from combining "broadcast" and iPod. 

I have used podcasts in the classroom a few times.  Many kids love to hear themselves on a recording, so it's a great motivator to get the assignment done.  We've used podcasts as interviews with famous americans, "experts" on a certain topic, or as book reviews. 

All you need to get podcasts started is a microphone and a recording/editing software such as audacity. It's free and simple to use.   :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Wiki...or to not Wiki...that is the question...

Wikis, you've heard of them, are online environments where information can be quickly added and updated by a community of users.   Wikipedia being the most popular wiki...is the perfect example of one. This particular wiki has a team of editors who are on the ball 24/7 correcting errors and validating information.  (So, it can be used as a source when researching....but that's a different soap box.)

But what about wikis in the classroom?  Is there value in it?  How about introducing students to the concepts of open-source software, community collaboration, respect for other people's ideas, intellectual property, and public domain?  These are skills now needed for the 21st century.  Web 2.0 is here to stay and increasingly our students are becoming web 2.0 users, whether we are ready or not.  

Wikis are also a great way to create a system for collaboration on any number of different projects.    Teachers have control.   It's equitable for all students because it's accessible from anywhere there's internet.  Wikis have the potential to be global...set it up for global collaboration and really tap into the power of wikis. Students are the authors and editors of their own projects; they take ownership and therefore the learning is much more powerful. 

Often times it's hard to tell who did what work in collaborative projects, but there is a record of who posted and what they posted in wikis which makes it easier for teachers to see who is putting forth the effort. 

So what are some ways wikis can be used in classrooms?
  • Literature wiki
  • text books
  • SOL reviews
  • Assessment tool
  • year round portfolio
  • Collaborative final project
  • Easy tool for ESOL students to use to put pictures together with text
Give wikis a try in your classroom and see how powerful they can be.