Friday, October 10, 2008

How We Use Technology and What to Expect

We are using technology in a number of cutting edge ways in my classroom. One of the major differences than the "traditional" tech class, is that we're moving our work to the Internet.

Technology class in the middle grades uses Edu20.com, an online learning environment (OLE). This is revolutionary, in that 99% of work is done and also handed in online. For some of our younger users this concept has been challenging to grasp. Some students have come up to me in the first few weeks, and said "What do you mean, turn in? How do I turn in my work if it's on the Internet?"

This question makes me excited because this is all about "a-ha" moments. Once students submit an online document for the first time, they really become a part of the "future of education" and they get it. They realize that their classroom is completely mobile and their work can follow them to any computer that they choose to work on. To turn in an assignment or to see what their current assignments are, they simply need to go to their assignments tab, like it's pictured below.

The most important thing to remember about how we use technology in my classroom, is that we're using Web 2.0 tools. What does that mean? Web 2. is best defined according to www.inetasia.com as :

There is no simple definition for Web 2.0. Broadly put, it is a paradigm shift in the way the Internet is used. Web 2.0 involves a more open approach to the Internet, in particular user-generated content, Blogs, Podcasts, social media, review sites, Wikipedia, etc.

How Does it Break Down?
So in sixth grade we are using Web 2.0 tools like www.diigo.com (social bookmarking tool) and www.communitywalk.com (map making tool that uses satellite imagery). We are creating maps that are learning maps for other students and for the community of Fremont.

Also we are using voicethread.com, a Web 2.0 slideshow presentation tool that allows us to have conversations around images. This is a real good example of a final product for Storytelling in History, which is what we are creating in that class. Watch this:






Next, in seventh grade, we are podcasting using the Garageband software that comes with our Apple Macintosh suite of software. Our podcasts range in topic from sports to history to music. Students were given much freedom to come up with their podcast topics. Lately the tech room has been looking more like a recording studio! Once we are done, we'll create a simple web page and share our podcasts with the world!

Also in seventh grade we are using www.voicethread.com, but this time we are creating mathcasts. Our movies are all about how to do specific math problems. Students were asked to choose a math concept that they have difficulty with. Here's a sample of what our movies might look like when they are completed.




Finally, the eighth grade is focusing on transferring their writing to the social medium we call blogging. You can check out one of our eight grade blogs right here. It' all about his perspective of War. Click on J's blog.

Also, the other class is using wikis to collaborate on creating a Public Service Announcement. If you don't know what a wiki is, check out this video at the commoncraft show. We're using wikis to create a script that we'll use to direct our PSAs. We're learning about film techniques and the documentary style that PSAs require. At the end of the semester we'll have a mini film festival!

We're in the thick of it right now, and students are really starting to put their projects together. Can't wait to show you more of their work!

Thanks again, and have a good Columbus Day!

Mr. R.

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