Sunday, April 29, 2012

Creating Final PBL

For our final for Classroom Computer Applications, we were required to create a Problem Based Learning lesson.  My group had a hard time trying to figure out a topic to do.  We wanted to incorporate a lesson based on Reading since we are the Reading Brigade, but we couldn't really find anything that we thought would pertain to Elementary/Middle School students.  Finally, we decided to branch off of our earlier PBL which talked about making a school wheelchair accessible.  We then decided to incorporate Google SketchUp and have the students design a playground that was accessible for students with special needs.  After making that decision, our whole project started to form around Boundless Playgrounds, something you can learn more about with the link provided.  I really learned a lot about different types of programming kids can use in order to simulate their own types of playgrounds, something that I originally thought was going to be too high-tech for the students.  However, by doing this project, I learned a lot about the types of programs that are out there for kids and the different ways they can help their friends and their communities.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interactive White Boards

Think back to when you were in elementary school.  What kind of board did you have in your classroom?  A chalk board, white board, maybe even no board at all.  When I was younger, I always wanted to be a teacher so I could write on those chalk boards whenever I wanted to.  However, now as I begin my quest to become a teacher, everything about the classroom is changing.

Rather than chalk boards, SMARTboards are now being integrated into the classroom.  These SMARTboards are interactive white boards and  can display a computer's screen via a projector and then acts as a large touch screen.  These boards come with four pens that use digital ink and don't require regular dry erase markers.  So essentially, it cuts back on materials used in the classroom and makes the learning more hands on for the students.

In my high school, they have incorporated smart boards into almost every classroom.  My teachers used them to display videos, have us view notes, and even used them for reviewing sessions and games.  It saves time from having to always write everything down on the board, and makes it so the teacher can use the same file for the different class sections they may have.

These are such a great technology to incorporate into the classroom and I hope that wherever I teach, I will be fortunate enough to have one.

JAAR PicMonkey Assignment

Today in CCA, Team JAAR talked about how to help veterans who are homeless upon returning home from duty.  I researched and found the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans site.  They help veterans by providing emergency and supportive housing, food, health services, job training and placement assistance to the hundred of thousands of homeless veterans each year.  I made my poster for this organization using PicMonkey and used it to help them by asking for donations.  These donations will help provide the resources that the organizations desperately needs in order to help those who have fought for our country.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

UNI eTug Promethean Party

I attended the eTUG Promethean Party on April 19, 2012. As a member of eTUG, I had an active role in planning the party. Unfortunately, we only had one person show up to the party, but I still learned a lot from being involved in the club. For the Promethean Party we wanted to show our guests the basics on how to run a Promethean Board. Zach, Libby, Hailey, Diana and I were split up into what we were in charge of for the presentation. It was interesting to see what everyone could do with the Promethean. Hailey was able to demonstrate the basics of the board and show us the tool bar with all of the different options for it. For the past few weeks, we also played around with clickers and learned how to make polls and games so the students had more of a hands-on learning experience in our future classrooms.

Also at the event, we planned to cover how to use the Promethean Board for regular websites on the internet. We found out that you could play YouTube videos on the board and draw or type up notes for it. I think that is such a hands-on way for the students to get involved, especially with something like watching videos.

These topics affect teaching and learning greatly. By incorporating technology into the classroom, it gives students so many more outlets to find sources and store the information that they are being given. I could not imagine being in a classroom now, that didn’t incorporate computers or any other type of technology. It is such an integral part of today’s society, so it makes sense that we would put that into our classrooms. I also feel like it gives students who learn different ways that opportunity to find what is right for them. The visual learners will be able to watch what’s being put on the board, while the hands-on are able to go up and manipulate the board into what helps them understand the content best.

I definitely plan to incorporate a Promethean Board or any kind of Smart Board into my classroom if the school has one. I think it is such a great piece of technology and is very powerful if used correctly. One of my favorite things about this minor is that I will be able to have the knowledge about these types of technologies and use them to enhance my lessons. By making my lessons fun for both my students and myself, I will have an environment that is efficient but more creative than your average elementary classroom.

Here's a video showing how to run ActiveInspire, a program frequently used with Promethean Boards.

Using Problem-Based Learning in Classrooms

Throughout the semester in CCA, we have been using Problem-Based Learning for a lot of our projects.  Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an approach to teaching that challenges students of any age to learn by try to figure out and solve a real problem.  It is most effective if it pertains to the students themselves and is something that they can come up with a solution for.  If the teacher tells them the problem and then also tells them how to solve it, there really isn't any learning coming from the PBL.  It would be just as efficient for them to listen to a teacher lecture.  The key to PBL is having the students make it their own.   Don't give them any limits, or tell them that they can't do something.  They will surprise you.  I know I was surprised at the amount of things that we could do in CCA.  If you are interested in learning more about PBL, here is a website that has a lot of great information about it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Visiting Malcom Price Laboratory School
For Classroom Computer Applications we visited PLS to observe different technology that they were using in their classrooms.  The first room we went into was the high school Physics class.  They have a 1:1 classroom, which was very convenient for the types of materials that they were needing for their projects.  The class was working on ramps and how they could adjusts the height and slope in order to change them.  The students all had spreadsheets pulled up on their computer while the teacher showed what was going on up at the front of the room.  When looking at students' work, they were able to plug it into the computer and view directly what was on their computer.  It was a great way to check the class' understanding of what they were working on.  By constantly double-checking their work, the students were given the chance to collaborate with their classmates.

It was awesome to see how 1:1 worked in a classroom.  My high school had just recently switched to this right after I graduated.  I get a quick glimpse every once in a while when my little brother shows me what they're doing at South Winn with it, but I enjoyed seeing what NU could do.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Yesterday in CCA we worked with Glogster.  I had never heard of this program before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect of it.  However, I came to realize that I love this program.  It is so fun and different than anything I've used before.  I was able to play around with it and create an inspirational page for those who are a little down in the dumps.  Here's my glog if you want to check it out. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flat Classroom

Over the course of the semester, we have been talking about using technology to connect classrooms around the world.  The biggest project that we have been able to witness is the flat classroom project, which was created by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay.  It was awesome to be able to talk to Vicki and bounce ideas off of one another.  I'm excited to be able to know about the Flat Classroom, especially because right now at UNI I am making connections with other future teachers.  It will be great to have met so many people here that I can connect my classroom with in the future.  I feel like it will be beneficial to my students and others by connecting our classrooms with others.  It gives them a chance to work with others that they would otherwise never get to, and it gives me and my college friends the opportunity to stay in contact.  Everyone wins!  It is such a great concept, and I really hope that more classrooms start incorporating it into their curriculum.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creating/Using Podcasts in Education

The past few classes, we have been working on creating and developing Podcasts.  At first when Dr. Z announced that we would be doing this, I internally groaned.   I had not had the best experiences with Podcasts in the past and just found them to be really annoying and a waste of my time.  However, the best thing about this class, is that it always opens up my eyes and makes me realize that I've been going about incorporating technology in the wrong way.  Before I thought that it was just something that teachers made us to so it kept us busy.  I for one, hate busy work.  However, once I saw all the cool things that we could do with the podcasts, I got excited.  Right now, my group is working collaboratively with an author and an illustrator in order to make a podcast that gets students excited about creating their own books.  We were lucky enough to skype both a New York Times Best-Seller Author and a known children's book illustrator.  It was great to be able to get such great resources and really branch out in order to find information for future students.  The best part about these podcasts are that they can be used by multiple people.  If we were to just do this with our classroom, it would only benefit the 20 or so kids that were involved.  However, when you put it into a podcast, you can share it with a lot of other teachers and co-workers, so that it isn't only your kids that are benefiting from the lesson.  By being able to do this, I feel like have a increasing amount of respect for podcasts and what they can be used for.