Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Building an Online Writing Toolkit

Beth Goodwin, a special ed consulatant and Cheryl Oakes did a presentation in January 2010, about how to blend the resources of Web 2.0 with the needs of their students. They took their idea from Karen Janowski and Joyce Valenza who created the UDL Tech Toolkit. The Universal Design for Learning states that to promote learning for all students, teachers need to use these three methods:
  1. Representation
  2. Engagement
  3. Expression

Beth and Cheryl took ideas from UDL and created Writingtools4all to look at how the read-write web resources could help students become more independent writers. Teachers can create specific toolkits for use with their students and students can create toolkits to meet specific needs they have in writing. Since the resources Beth and Cheryl use for the toolkit are free, students would be able to use the toolkit at home or school.

Students can certainly build their own toolkits allowing them to differentiate for their needs or collaborate with other students while working on projects. By having access to these free tools at home students will extend their learning beyond the regular school day.

Here is a list of free tools that teachers and students can use to create toolkits:
  1. Photopeach- use images in a presentation, project or concept.
  2. Wordle – can capture vocabulary in a book, for pre-teaching and comprehension.
  3. What kind of learner are you? – students can find their learning style.
  4. Find a book at your Lexile – students check their Lexile reading level choices.
  5. Mad Libs – students can create their own Mad Libs.
  6. Library of Congress – great source of information for students and teachers.
  7. Ask.com – good place to begin a research project.
  8. Citation Machine – students learn to cite their sources.
  9. Graphic Organizers – place to find graphic organizers.
  10. Visual Thesaurus – place to look up words and see the word in a visual thinking map.
  11. Awesome adjectives and Sensory words – a guide to grammar, punctuation and style.
  12. Spell Checker – Spell Checker also helps students check grammar and use a thesaurus.
  13. Create your own checklist – create a personalized editing checklist.
  14. Listen to your work – the site will read text to the student.

What resources can you add to help students build an Online Writing Toolkit?
Here are a few resources that students at WSFCS have access to:
  1. NetTrekker – safe search engine that has read aloud and a section on writing.
  2. Curriculum Pathways – the Writing Reviser will analyze a student’s writing and provides information on how to construct a paper.
To read the entire article:

Monday, February 15, 2010

eSN Special Report: Convergent Education

When students are multitasking are they learning? As an educator what do you think? According to Barbara Kurshan, students are leaning the way we work in the business space and she gives this example:

While visiting a friend’s home she observed several middle grades students who were on the computer, texting on mobile phones and on Facebook. When she asked the students what they were doing, they replied, “Studying.” The students had been given a problem set and they were collaborating on how to find the answer by working together and reaching out to their friends.

Students today learn in formal settings (school) and informally (within their communities, online and other ways). Unfortunately, linear teaching with just a textbook and teaching to the test has caused an increase in dropout rates. By not allowing students to use social networks or mobile devices, many students feel that a public school education is less relevant and meaningful to their lives. Students are bored and disengaged in a traditional lecture environment. Caleb Schutz, president of the Jason Project, found in a recent survey that sixty-six percent of today’s students are bored in class and a major problem science teachers’ face is a lack of motivation among students to learn science.

Keith Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking, sees the problem with students becoming bored and disengaged increasing in middle and high school students who feel that school is a prison where they have to power down when they enter school and prepare for a traditional lecture environment. One problem is the existing school system infrastructure with pacing guides that dictate what teachers will do, according to Schutz. But pacing guides are a guideline that teachers follow. Technology and other resources can certainly be infused into the curriculum and pacing guides. The Jason Project is one example of developing multimedia science curricula providing teachers the tools and resources to improve science teaching.

But there are trends in innovative technology that is beginning to make changes in education called convergent education. What is convergent education? According to Gregg W. Downey, editor of eSchool News, convergent education features diverse learning opportunities delivered via multiple media platforms combined with field trips (virtual or real), live streaming video, interactive archived video, educational gaming, student collaboration, animation, celebrity lectures and adventures, project-based instruction with student-managed data, virtual demonstrations and experiments, continuous monitoring of student engagement and learner satisfaction, and classic, in-the-classroom instruction.

This convergent-education, which is a series of developments aided by technology, is changing education and the way we teach. One trend is the availability of educational content for teachers and students. Much of this content is free and includes, audio, video, simulations and games making learning more fun and interactive. Distance and online learning is providing opportunities for students to take courses outside of the traditional setting. Another trend is the use of Blogs, Wikis and Skype as collaborative tools and the use of mobile devices.

Today’s students don’t need to just memorize facts they need to engage in critical problem-solving and critical thinking to better understand the content being taught. Teaching needs to be differentiated to better meet the needs of the students. Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has a new educational site called WatchKnow.org, a directory of educational videos for students that teachers can access to better differentiate instruction. Another way teachers can differentiate instruction is to know their students better and their learning approach. Cheryl Lemke, CEO of the Metiri Group, thinks that teachers who do interest inventories with their students are better able to know which teaching approach to use with students to better differentiate the instruction for all students.

The world has changed and education needs to change. School systems and teachers need to look at ways to engage students by using online resources and technology to excite and motivate student learning creating a convergent-education for all students.

To read the entire article go to:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Free Videos Explore the Science behind the Olympics

NBC Learn, an educational part of NBC news has teamed up with the National Science Foundation to produce a 16-part video series on the science behind the Olympic Games. Some of the scientific principles explored in this video series are:
  1. How does angular momentum help figure skater Rachael Flatt achieve the perfect triple toe loop?
  2. How does elastic collision allow three-time Olympic hockey player Julie Chu to convert a game-winning slapshot?
  3. How do Newton’s Three Laws of Motion propel short track speed skater J.R. Celski to the finish line?
The athlete’s movements are captured by a high-speed camera called the Phantom Cam that captures up to 1,500 frames per second which allows students to see frame-by-frame illustrations of Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.

The videos illustrate how scientific principles apply to competitive sports. The series is narrated by Lester Holt, and is available free of charge to educators on the NBC Learn website.

NBC Learn - http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn
Olympic Games 16-part videos - http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn

What a great way to bring real-world experiences into the classroom to bring science to life for the students.

To read the entire article, please go to: