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 The textbook mentioned email group projects, but I think that type of project is sort of outdated and not necessarily appropriate for all ages.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 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.
Word has been the go-to program for both me and my teachers. I’ve used it mostly for essays and papers; sometimes including pictures in them. I often use the word count feature since most of my essays have a required minimum or maximum number of words. My teachers mostly use word to type up instructions for assignments and for their class syllabus. When I was in elementary school we would hand-write rough drafts but type our final draft so that it is more legible and edited. I realized a few activities I could do with my class using Word when reading chapter 9. Creating a newspaper or brochure is a great way for students to take information and put it into their own words and sentences in a creative way. Word also makes their writing more legible and organized and is many times faster than handwriting. To teach my students how to use Word and other computer features, putting them into groups is a great idea. Those who are experts on one topic can help others and also learn from others. One thing I didn’t think of before is to create matching activities for them using a table. Another great way to use the table feature is to have students record their grades and track their progress. At the end of the year or quarter they can graph the data.
I have heard many times from my teachers that they can’t put something on blackboard or they can’t make copies for everyone because it violates copyright laws. The podcast on copyright and fair use guidelines helps explain the reasons for such laws. As a teacher I will need to read and review these guidelines and make sure that I have permission to use certain items and works in my classroom. It is also important to teach my students about copyrighting and plagiarism so they don’t make the mistake of taking someone else’s work.
Through the Word & Graphics 1 assignment I learned that there are ways to edit a picture inside a word document, there is a feature to view two documents side by side, and under references there is an easy way to insert a citation. I think I will use these features a lot more now that I know where to find them and how to use them. I already knew how to make a table, but now I will use it to evenly space and organize information or test questions. Most of the tools we learned about in class were tools that I already use daily or have figured out how to use when I need them.
I think computers are good tools to utilize in a classroom; however, I do not think they are the only tools. Computers allow for a different way of teaching and sharing information. Teachers can display information in interesting ways using programs or scavenger hunts on the computers. Students can construct their own learning and make presentations to share with the class. Many students will already know how to use a computer before they enter the classroom and some will not have had access to one. Students can then use their own knowledge to create interesting projects as well as share with their peers the different things they have learned. Using computers at a young age will better prepare them for the real world in this technological age. I do not think computers should or could replace teachers entirely because there are always problems that arise with technology or a need for further explanation on a topic that only human to human contact would fix. I also do not think that textbooks should completely go digital. Though I applaud the “green” approach, digital technology, such as computers or iPads, pose new problems that textbooks did not. For instance, staring at a screen for hours is bad for one’s eyes and, unlike a traditional textbook, the digital textbook could potentially run out of battery. Also, the technology (that has the ability to play games) could be a major distraction both in the classroom and during work time at home. Computers are a great tool to learn and present information, but should not be used as the sole tool.
I think it is important for students to have fun while they are learning. Educational games on the computer could therefore be a great way for children to learn. I will also teach my students how to use various programs, such as Word and Powerpoint, and have them use those programs for class projects. Before a test or quiz I could have them use a drill-and-practice program so they could receive immediate feedback and focus on the concepts that they need the most help on. I will also have them do computer scavenger hunts in order to quickly gather and analyze information as well as give them a break from regular classroom activities. I hope to find more ways to use technology in my classroom and learn how to effectively teach elementary school students about computers.
The label given to today’s youth is “digital native.” A digital native is someone who has grown up with technology. I think that accurately describes most but not all of today’s youth because not everyone has access to technology. I would consider myself a digital native because I have grown up using and figuring out how computers and other technology work. I think in most situations there is a visible difference between a digital native (i.e. student) and a digital immigrant (i.e. teacher). I can recall many times when my peers and I have taught our teacher how to do something on the computer. I think it is because we (as digital natives) have gradually learned how to use various programs and technologies whereas digital immigrants had to learn everything and apply it to their workplace almost immediately. Also, when people learn something at a young age it is easier to build from. I think there will always be differences among generations, especially due to growing technology. I don’t see this as a huge problem as long as the teacher knows how to use the programs and devices that they will be teaching and utilizing in the classroom. Since teachers (or people in general) cannot know everything about technology, this can provide an opportunity for students to become the teachers; whether it be to the teacher herself or to their peers. I don’t think that disqualifies or makes a teacher look bad, it allows the students to develop leadership skills.