Monday, July 19, 2010

Chapter 11: Generating and Testing Hypotheses

Two points caught my attention in this chapter; first “Technology can play a vital role in generating and testing hypotheses because new developments in probeware and interactive applets allow students to spend more time interpreting the data rather than gathering the data.” (203). Many teachers myself included struggle with the time involved in using technology, do you teach the content or teach how to use the program? Many times the learning takes a backseat to learning how to use Word, Power Point etc especially when asking elementary students to create final projects. Therefore, it is of great interest to me that students can collect data, easily input data and see the results almost immediately via a few tools and a spreadsheet and not necessarily turn it into a final project. I read with interest the examples given in this chapter, but probably would encourage use in the classroom instead of the library. It does call for collaboration between the teacher and the librarian to incorporate these types of activities into various subject matters and thus the information is beneficial to me.

The second point I found in this chapter was the teacher using the “Help” button. In the first reading of this chapter my first thought included the teacher shying away from creating spreadsheets because they did not feel comfortable or felt that it was above their ability level. We must always remember that “help” is just a click away. We also have other options such as using our instructional technology department, or even “Ask Al”. With the availability of experts around us one only hopes that more and more technology can be incorporated into lessons, whether in the form of spreadsheets, web resources, or data collection tools.

Chapter 10: Homework and Practice

Are we close to a time where we require all students to have internet access in order to complete homework? As we all know there are ample web resources to learn and practice skills. I spent a little bit of time at and used some of their demo games. I am sure kids would love to have homework practice that included games, I’m just not sure how practical it is. For many it comes down to financing, not everyone is able to buy the hardware let alone the continued cost of internet access, and then the possibility of having to subscribe to a service such as I Know That. I realize this is an ongoing struggle that many policy makers don’t seem to fully understand, but it is a huge issue for many of our families. The argument tends to always come back to the library (both public and school) that states families can have access via the library; good idea as soon as you solve transportation costs, personnel issues, and maintaining and having enough equipment. Second is an ongoing argument about using computers as a high dollar worksheet, yes drill and kill is more enjoyable on the computer the first few times, but the excitement soon wears off. I am intrigued with utilizing technology to provide homework and practice, I just see that many other issues need addressed first or the gap between the haves and the have nots will grow even wider.

Chapter 9: Identifying Similarities and Differences

This chapter reminded me of things that I used to incorporate into all my lessons when teaching students identified as gifted and talented; and often thought ALL students deserved this same type of thinking activities. I can see many uses of word processing to classify and group books much as the examples in the book. One of the Velasco teachers often created simple power point classification activities by having the icons on the side of the page and students would simply drag the icons under the correct headings. She would do these types of activities with Pre-K and with 3rd graders. I also like the idea of teaching students about analogies. After students have some understanding of analogies then they could practice analogies with book characters such as; Grinch is to Seuss as ___________ is to Peggy Parish. (Amelia Bedelia). Another example might be; mean is to Grinch as _________ is to Sam I Am. (happy, funny etc.) This is not only an interesting way to work on vocabulary development but also characteristics. I cannot see how this would be difficult, it could easily be used as a warm-up, review or closure to a book study.

It would be nice if students had access to Kidspiration or Inspiration, but not necessary. As I stated in the previous paragraph classification can be done with Power Point by allowing students to drag different clip art under appropriate headings. It is easy to create Venn Diagrams with Word or Power Point. The benefit of having Kidspiration and Inspiration is having readymade icons and graphic organizers.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chapter 8: Reinforcing Effort

Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” However, just placing inspirational posters around the classroom evidently will not ensure that students will apply the messages. According to this chapter, it is important to both teach the students the importance of effort and have them track how their effort relates to their learning.

I liked the ideas of collecting student input on their effort and comparing their effort to the outcome but I am not sure that I will implement this in the library. Tools such as Survey Monkey and using a word processing program to create a rubric are a good idea that I can see at the end or during a long-term project.

I am trying to brainstorm possibilities for the library with this and can see something informal with students attempting to read chapter books for the first time, perhaps having the students keep track of how much time they are willing to read daily in order to finish a book. Maybe having students summarize each chapter before moving on to the next chapter so they can link what happens from chapter to chapter. This activity is easily done with paper and pencil, or with a word processing package. Comparisons with reading time and the summaries could be compared to AR scores.

With more thought, I am sure there are other ways we can encourage effort through the library, but instead of formal ways via technology I will probably stick to discussions of effort and motivating posters.

Chapter 7: Cooperative Learning

This was a good chapter to review the importance and descriptors of cooperative learning. As many things in education, cooperative learning was a very popular practice, but no longer the focus of teacher training programs so a quick review is essential. The same holds true for WebQuests, once popular, but the time to implement and the work to create them have probably lessened their uses in recent times. I have very positive experiences with WebQuests and see them as a way for students to work cooperatively and for the librarian and teacher to work collaboratively. Because of the time involved in creating WebQuests, I appreciate the links to current WebQuests and have utilized the ones from San Diego State University. One goal I always have is to collaborate with teachers to provide learning opportunities for students. This year I am offering set lessons for teachers to select from and schedule with me; I will add WebQuests to the list of possible activities.

My personal favorite web tool that I utilize often is Delicious!!!!! I know personally how it works for me, but I have a problem seeing how to utilize Delicious with elementary students. In the past librarians have created Path Finders which contained links to various sites. These are topic related and restrict students to approved sites for research. I would hope that with some work Delicious might work in the same way. I will need to give this more thought before I begin to share my Delicious Account with students.

Chapter 6: Summarizing and Note Taking

I agree that this is a skill necessary for all students, but one I rarely see in an elementary school. A typical note taking session might include a four square with pictures with a few words after reading or viewing a video. The addition of technology may or may not expedite the process. I can see the addition of a computer motivating students, but using word processing for some is tedious. I believe I would begin with using Power Point over a word processing program so students could easily utilize pictures instead of words. I did like the inverted T because it includes graphic representation and words and encourages a limited amount of words. Once again, I see the fun behind Inspiration and Kidspiration, but neither fits my needs because I get too involved in selecting the icons for each item and lose the ultimate direction of the lesson. I can see students using this program if you allow some playtime before asking them to use it as a tool.

I like the idea of using Wikis for cooperative work. In my situation, I believe that this might need to happen at school and not required from home. I realize one value of Wikis is the ability for students to collaborate remotely with each other, but many of our students do not have internet access so the remote might be discussion between students in a variety of classes, or discussion between students in different schools. I would like to see a Wiki in a book club situation in which kids could read a chapter and summarize what they read then others could add information or read others summaries to help with their comprehension. Allowing student access could be used as a recommendation for others who might want to read the book. This is an idea I have toyed with for a year now, it seems that we just don’t have time to incorporate these things into a school day, especially when time is limited when seeing students. Once again it goes back to collaborating with the teachers who also need to recognize the value of note taking and summarizing via technology.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chapter 5: Nonlinguistic Representation

Learning Styles immediately popped into my mind at the beginning of this chapter; by the end though I realized that these techniques and activities are beneficial to all students not just the visual learners. I like the idea that showing a movie or video is a good practice, but that having students create their own videos moves it into a higher level. Today’s programs, whether Photo Story 3 or Movie Maker makes this an easy and viable activity for students. In addition, adding an animation component adds motivation and excitement for students. Many years ago I had some students make an animated video. The procedure of cutting and placing each small piece, videoing it and then moving it slightly and videoing it again was tedious! The project gave life to a plant growing from seed and the students did a great job, but I can see how using today’s technology will make such a tedious job easier and more efficient.

I believe every classroom should be equipped with the microscopes and digital probes listed in this chapter. Many of the document cameras have microscope attachments that become beneficial in science classes and the document cameras have uses in all subject areas. As stated in this chapter, the naked eye and standard thermometers were “high-tech” at one time. I realize that many of us learned this way, but just as no one really expects to use a chalkboard anymore, we need to update our classroom technology beyond white boards. I do realize the major drawback to keeping updated equipment is cost but if we are preparing students for a technology driven future, we must find a way to update ALL classrooms.