This is a layout for what a classroom website could follow.
I will create and maintain a website as a teacher. I think that it is an easy and quick way to get information out to parents or give reminders to students. My teachers from elementary school up to high school in Virginia had class websites, but my high school teachers in Florida did not. In elementary school the class sites were attached to the school’s homepage and in middle and high school they used blackboard. I have had some teachers utilize their website to the fullest and others who only put their email address on it. I believe that I will add something to my website everyday in order to keep up-to-date information. I like that blackboard gives teachers the opportunity to have separate class pages, but it is more difficult for parents to see the information. If my future school does not use blackboard, or maybe even if it does, I will create my own class website. I think it is important for students to have at-home access to their homework assignments, important dates, and helpful resources in case they forget to write something down at school. Blackboard is great for teacher to student interaction; however, I also think that it is important for parents to have easy access to information. If they send an email or are waiting for an email update, it is not as timely or efficient as having a website that they can go to at any time of the day.
In addition to having a website for my class, I also plan to utilize the myriad of resources for teachers online. I might follow or even write my own teacher blog. Following other teachers on a blog site or twitter can be beneficial when I have questions or need inspiration or creative ideas. On twitter I could follow other educational resources for quick updates on legislation or current hot topics. I also plan to use technology to help teach my students. I could use Prezi to present new information, or show my students how to use it. Prezi is a website that allows you to create entertaining and engaging presentations. I will also create projects for my students that are computer-based in order to teach and review a topic/subject we have been discussing in class while simultaneously teaching them vital computer skills. I know that more technology and resources will make its way to classrooms even before I graduate.
I had never made a wiki before, so it was an interesting experience. I didn’t particularly enjoy the assignment and I do not think I will be using that tool in the future. I thought pbworks was a little difficult to navigate and understand. I also did not think the final products looked professional, nor do I understand how the site could be useful if not for a school assignment. Maybe a high school teacher could have his/her students do an assignment using pbworks, but I will not use the site for elementary school students. To improve the assignment for next time, I would like to suggest that the wiki project highlight how and why a teacher might do a wiki project in their classroom.
Web 2.0 tools are new to education, but are a great use of technology in the classroom. I found a new tool that I had never heard of before. It’s called Padlet.com. You are basically given a blank “wall” or “board” that you can decorate and use for discussion or lecturing or to post messages. Although email or regular discussion boards on blackboard (or similar sites) could do basically the same jobs, this could be more entertaining for students. It’s sort of a combination of facebook and pinterest. They get to write on walls/boards and see their classmates’ comments. I think it is a good tool because students can have fun with their assignment as well as get input from their classmates even though they are in separate houses. Homework is usually an independent project to see how much the student understands and remembers; however, posts on Padlet allow students to interact and share their knowledge with each other from home.
Right when I discovered Padlet, I started thinking of its many uses in a classroom setting. I thought of using it for a discussion where students can interact and debate or use it just for sharing opinions and/or ideas. Padlet’s homepage gives examples of ways the site can be used and I really like the idea under the “Teach” section. The example is a “Word of the Day” board where the students have to use the word of the day properly in a sentence. This could be a great way to go through a list of vocabulary words. It also showed that the teacher could comment on the board and say right away if the word was used correctly or incorrectly. This board gave me the idea that teachers could use this site for review or to introduce the next day’s topic. Padlet is very easy to navigate and to set up and use a board.
I think Web 2.0 technologies are useful in the classroom; however, not every tool will work in every classroom. Some tools are more suited for middle or high school aged children. For instance, I would not use blogs in my elementary school classroom; unless it was my own blog for the parents to read. I would not ask elementary school students to keep up their own blog or twitter. I think at a young age students cannot handle large ongoing projects like those, but they can use those types of technologies. A classroom blog or twitter can be interesting teaching tools as well as ways to reach out to parents. The textbook mentioned email group projects, but I think that type of project is sort of outdated and not necessarily appropriate for all ages. Not every child has their own email address and it could take a while for emails to show up and students could be on at all different times. A discussion board allows students to leave their comment and/or respond to someone else and all of the posts are in one place rather than mixed in the inbox. I also plan to make my own website for the class so students have another place to check what their homework is and parents have a way to connect to the classroom.
I didn’t particularly like the web hunt activity because I didn’t learn anything. I have grown up using google and other search engines to find information. I think the assignment could be more beneficial next time if it had multiple steps for one search rather than one step for multiple searches. Once we found, for example, an article on Christopher Columbus, we could have then been asked to find out if it was a good source of information. Also, although we discussed shortcuts for searching in class, I did not find it necessary to use them in the assignment. I think it will always be important to teach students how to search for information in an efficient way, but at an early age so that they can utilize their knowledge throughout their education.
I chose “Justice” ER22x because the description talks about human rights and debates on current controversial issues, which are very interesting to me. I don’t think this class, or type of class, is not built into my education curriculum, but I plan to study those kinds of topics outside of the classroom. I think free/open courses allow people who want to learn about a specific topic to get the information without paying for it or receiving credit. People need to be self-motivated and interested in the course content in order to be successful in completing the course. The fact that an open course can be free is another motivating factor for people to learn outside of a classroom and outside of degree requirements. Harvard’s open course initiatives imply that they want others who may not attend Harvard or who may not be able to afford higher education to have the opportunity to learn. I personally think that no one should be denied an education just because they can’t afford it.
I think it is important for young students to learn how to properly search for information on the internet. I would have my elementary students use Yahooligans or Ask Jeeves for Kids or I’d pick out a small handful of predetermined sites. Web scavenger hunts are a great way for students to learn about the internet, reliable and non-reliable sites, and to get information on a topic they are learning in class. Other great online tools are online dictionaries, like Merriam-webster.com or dictionary.com. Students could use these sites to look up vocabulary words or words in their readings that they don’t know.
The internet is very important for student research. People are now able to even search for books on the internet in addition to other scholarly sources, which saves time. The time saved from searching for information in the library can be used for putting together a well thought out and well researched project or essay. It is important for students to understand how to search for credible sources and information as well as how to properly cite this material. The internet is not a good tool if students are using it to cheat, plagiarize, use incorrect information or use a site that does not have credibility.
To search and evaluate websites for school projects and papers, I mostly use google. I check first to see if the page looks professional. I don’t always check to see if the author is credible, but I have had to do that for a specific class in the past and it is always a good thing to do. Also, while reading the material I keep an eye out for spelling and grammar mistakes, and if I am unsure about a specific piece of information I will google it separately. The podcast mentioned most of those same ideas as well as noticing if the information is biased. As a future elementary school teacher, I realized from the podcast, the extreme importance of double checking websites. This is important not just to make sure the facts are right, but also to make sure the information and links are appropriate for the students’ age group.
I had never used Inspiration before this class, but I really like it! It is easy to figure out and I think it could be very useful for students of all ages. I hope Inspiration will be on the computers in my future classroom or computer lab because I think it is a fun and different way for students to organize their information, thought processes, or to make creative projects or outlines. I like that the program offers templates for various projects you might want to do as well as a blank canvas to start however you want. The ability to add pictures and graphics either in the diagram or separately is also a nice addition. I actually had a fun time playing with the colors, design, boxes, and graphics and plan to use it again in the future.
The American Red Cross website is both aesthetically pleasing to look at as well as easy to find information. The home page grabs the reader’s attention using a slideshow of pictures with short descriptions. Information is organized by using different sized text and styles for headings, subheadings, and descriptions. The amount of color and bold text is limited and only used for emphasis. Text is left justified, black, and the appropriate length (not too long, but provides enough information). The name of the organization is large and in color at the top of every page. Navigation buttons are also in the same place on every page for easy access. The entire site is color coordinated using only three colors: red, black, and grey. Each page is not text heavy and uses illustrations, columns, and short descriptions to assist pictures. Uppercase and lowercase letters are utilized and paragraphs are double spaced instead of indented. This format is a good example for other organizations to follow when creating a website. (http://www.redcross.org/)
Open content and open source materials can be great resources for teachers. Many schools have limited funding in different areas like technology, so these sources can be a great way to get free information. Open source software is free and can be customized and shared. There are also various online forums if users need assistance. Open education classes are free classes for people to learn about a topic for free without needing the credit. This is a great way for teachers to learn new techniques. Teachers often share their own classroom ideas with other teachers, which is the same basic idea as these open sources. I have used open source software without realizing what it was and will continue to use it when funding and other resources are limited. It is not necessarily important for teachers to use these resources, but they will find that it very beneficial. Maybe one day I will make a contribution and share my own ideas or software.
Before the Word and Graphics 2 lesson I already knew how to use the tools we worked with, with the exception of “mail merge.” Although I probably won’t use the mail merge tool every day, or even as a student at all, it will be useful when I become a teacher. This tool will easily allow me to personalize letters to parents without having to create individual documents. I didn’t think of using shapes to design and organize a newsletter. This will be helpful for me to create newsletters for parents and projects for school as well as teach my students how to create colorful and creative projects. Creating the newsletter made me realize that it would be a good idea to have a classroom newsletter when I am a teacher. It is a great way to get information and important dates to parents. I thought it was a good idea to add a section about what the students learned that week so that parents could review with their child or at least have an idea about what’s going on in the classroom.