Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Module 7

Firstly, a WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet. An effective WebQuest uses learners time well, focuses on using information instead of looking for it, and supports learners thinking at all levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. It has 6 critical components:
  • An introduction that sets the stage and provides some background information
  • A task that is doable and interesting
  • A set of information sources needed to complete the task
  • A description of the process the learners should go through in accomplishing the task
  • Some guidance on how to organize the information acquired
  • A conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they've learned, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains
WebQuests could play a very valuable role in my classroom. For example, a mathematics WebQuest for grade 8 students exploring probability could be an interesting activity. The task could be that the students could explore probability using different websites that are linked through the page and have to explain the difference between independent and dependent outcomes and develop their own understanding on how to determine the solution to a compound independent event problem. The idea would need to be expanded on and could be used in various contexts, but it is just one idea for using a WebQuest in a mathematics classroom.

Internet safety within the classroom is paramount to the learning environment. Students must be wary about stumbling onto material that is inappropriate or offensive. Pornographic material, online predators and privacy invasions are some of the big concerns facing teachers and students alike in today’s classroom.
Pornographic material is of real concern to educators because of the sheer inappropriateness of its content. The problem with blocking sites using an application on the schools computer is that the program will key on specific words or phrases that are associated with pornographic materials. The problem lies in the fact that sites that are very useful and educational are sometimes blocked as well. Even with this pitfall educators believe that inappropriate sites need to be blocked even if some educational sites or useful material is also lost.
Students oftentimes do not realize that they can be the target of predators because they feel safe within the classroom or even at home using the Internet. This threat is very real and students need to be educated on the information that they should be giving out to people that they do not know on the Internet whether it is in online chatrooms or on personal websites. Students must realize that the world has access to the information they put on the Internet and to what they say in conversations via the Internet so they must be careful about giving personal information.
Teachers and administrators play a very important role to ensure that the Internet is a safe place for their students while they are in the classroom. By blocking inappropriate material and educating students on privacy issues and the information that they give out via the Internet, the Internet can be a very useful tool as well as an educational tool in the classroom environment.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Module 6

Spreadsheets can play a great role in education. Science and math classes tailor themselves particularly well towards the use of spreadsheets and a vast array of ICT outcomes can be accomplished by implementing the use of spreadsheets in a math or science lesson.

I would like to specifically focus on the use of spreadsheets in mathematics since I am a math major. By looking at the program of studies and some of the specific learner objectives with implementing spreadsheets into the class in mind, it should be easy to see how to use and create lessons for such activities at almost every grade level.

For example, if we were to look at the grade 7 math curriculum. Specific learner objectives state that students will:
Interpolate and extrapolate number values from a given graph.
Graph relations, analyze the result and draw a conclusion from a pattern.
The ideas that come to mind when just looking at these objectives are astounding. A teacher could use any type of data and have the student’s graph the data using excel. From the data they could draw conclusions. For example, they could have climate data for the last 50 or 100 years. By plotting the data they could see a definite warming trend. From this trend the students could predict temperatures in the future.

Online tutorials are an excellent way to introduce students to certain function’s in excel without spending a great deal of time learning about the application. During a math class, a teacher does not have one or even two days to teach the students how to use an application such as excel. Therefore, by simply using one of the many tutorials online, the students can learn the specific skill to complete the work needed. By simply spending a while surfing the internet a teacher can find a specific tutorial that they could use for their lesson. As in the example above, the teacher might use the tutorial located at http://www.functionx.com/excel/Lesson15.htm to help the students learn to graph data using excel.

In conclusion, spreadsheets can be used in all subjects to accomplish SLO’s and ICT outcomes. They are a valuable learning tool and should be used appropriately by teachers. Also, online tutorials are an excellent way to introduce students too specific functions in programs such as excel. They save time and target a specific area to ensure learning occurs.
A website of interest that includes several tutorials is http://www.functionx.com/excel/

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Module 4

Concept mapping is a unique way to represent knowledge in a graphic form. Concepts are linked to one another showing a relationship between ideas and the flow of information. The relationship between the idea is sometimes labeled so the reader moves outward from an idea reading the main idea, the relationship line, and then the connected concept.

The idea of concept mapping is excellent and the advantages are vast. Being able to organize ideas in such a well planned out format makes studying and learning a simpler task. Students and teachers alike can organize the information in their mind using the idea of the concept map. Concept mapping software, such as Inspiration is simple to use and the introduction of Kidspiration for younger children makes concept-mapping possible at all levels of education. Concept mapping can be used as a learning tool where by a teacher creates a map, missing some of the information or maybe just starts with the central idea and then the students complete the concept map from the learned information. This is a valuable tool to see if students have learned what was to be taught in the classroom instruction. Students can also use pictures and graphics in their concept maps making the tool fun to use and great to learn with. By organizing their thoughts, students create the relationships between ideas in a visual form and many can remember what they learned more easily. A final advantage of using concept maps is that students can brainstorm ideas and organize them in a straightforward way.

Students who are not technologically literate would have trouble using the idea of a concept map on the computer although they could create concept maps using traditional pen and paper methods. From my experiences using Inspiration and learning with the software I cannot see many problems with the idea of concept mapping. A possible disadvantage would be the fact that the software is US$67.95. Not many people would be willing to spend that on software. A free 30 day trial is available (I have used that for my assignments) and schools could possibly order the program to put on school computers. With this in mind I do feel that the disadvantages related to concept mapping and the software that accompanies the idea are few and far between.

Concept mapping would be a very valuable tool in a high school science classroom. Students could use software like Inspiration to relate ideas in a physics 20 class. They could relate the laws of motion for example. ICT outcomes that would be covered by doing such an activity would be:
C.6.4.2. investigate and solve problems of organization and manipulation of information
C.6.4.4. generate new understandings of problematic situations by using some form of technology to facilitate the process
C.7.4.2. analyze and synthesize information to determine patterns and links among ideas
C.7.4.3. use appropriate presentation software to demonstrate personal understandings
P.3.4.3. apply general principles of graphic layout and design to a document in process
P.4.4.3. use integrated software effectively and efficiently to reproduce work that incorporates data, graphics and text

Module 3

Title of Activity: Factoring Trinomials

Reference Section:

Freedman, E. (1997-2003). Math Power Elementary Algebra. Retrieved Oct. 1, 2005, from http://www.mathpower.com/tutorial.htm

Grade Level: 10

Subject: Mathematics (Pure)

Brief Description of the Activity:

Students will go the website, where they will explore numerous tutorials on the topic of factoring trinomial expressions. Students will work through the problems along with the tutorial on the web site. By exploring different tutorials the students will gain different perspectives on solving the same type of problem. By doing so, all students will find their own way of understanding how to solve the problem that works best for them. Students will spend the duration of the period working through tutorials on the website.

General Learner Outcome:
  • Generalize operations on polynomials to include rational expressions.

Specific Learner Outcome:
  • Factor polynomials expressions of the form ax^2 + bx + c, and a^2x^2 – b^2y^2. (where x^2 reads x squared and a^2x^2 reads a squared times x squared)

ICT Outcomes:
C.6.4.1. investigate and solve problems of prediction, calculation and inference

C.6.4.4. generate new understandings of problematic situations by using some form of technology to facilitate the process

C.7.4.2. analyze and synthesize information to determine patterns and links among ideas

Rationale for Computer Integration:

By using computers to explore tutorials on the topic of factoring trinomials students can gain different perspectives on solving the problem. This allows students to develop their own understanding and process to solve the problems. The numerous examples on the website will provide sufficient resources for students who do not gain understanding of the topic quickly. At home, students can easily access the website and practice their skills to gain a better understanding. Also, students can practice other math skills by using other tutorials on the website. The computer provides a vast number of examples and a unique way to learn for all students.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Module 2

Part A:

Technology integration is the use of technology in the classroom to assist in learning and teaching the curriculum in the classroom. Technology is used to supplement traditional forms of teaching as well as to make the classroom a more interactive and fun place to learn. Good technology integration engages students learning through the active use of technology whether it is computers and software or other devices. Technology integration is a great tool to help students with impairments, physical disabilities or learning problems. Students are able to learn at their own pace using software and programs that fit their needs. Good technology integration makes learning enjoyable for students and spurs their interests by catering to their individual needs. Poor technology integration can be frustrating for both student and teacher. Students are frustrated by the lack of "know-how" the teacher has and also find technology a time wasting device in the classroom. If not used properly technology can use up valuable class time with waiting and problems. Students and teachers can be turned off of technology when it is used inappropriately or in a manner where problems are prevalent. Barriers to technology integration exist in number. Firstly, teachers must be educated in the type of technology that is to be used and then they must also be educated on how to use the technology to teach their students. Secondly, technology is expensive and the implementation of technology in the classroom is therefore an expensive undertaking. Finally, students many times view technology as a game or just for fun. Students need to have fun using the technology and should be engaged by doing so, but they have to understand that the technology is a learning tool and should be used accordingly for such purposes.

Part B:

Related (specific) Technology Outcome being integrated: P.3.4.1. select and use, independently, multimedia capabilities for presentations in various subject areas.

Subject: Math

Grade: 12

Description: Use presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint to incorporate graphics, audio, video and text to create a tutorial guide on solving problems in the conic section (Quadratic Relations) of the grade 12 curriculum. The presentation should solve a minimum of 3 examples from parabolas, circles, ellipses and hyperbolas. Include pictures of you examples by scanning images or creating images to be inserted into the presentation. The presentation should show step by step how to solve the examples. Audio and video is encouraged where appropriate.

PowerPoint could clearly be used to reach this outcome by creating such a presentation. Students could spend time in class and at home creating the presentation when the unit is nearly completion and then the presentations could be used as a study tool for the upcoming test. The presentations could also be put online so as students could download them at home and use them as study tools for the tests.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Module 1

I am Dustin Ressler from Medicine Hat Alberta. This is my second year here at the University of Lethbridge. Previously I attended the Medicine Hat College for 2 years studying education. My major is nearly complete in mathematics and my minor is in social studies. Areas of personal interest to me with regards to school are specifically calculus, statistics, the history of politics and of course teaching. I am very excited about being in the faculty of education and cannot wait to get out for my PS1. My passion is teaching children and hopefully making a lifelong impression on their veiws of learning and school. In my spare time I love to watch and play sports. Football is near to my heart and I just cannot get enough.

My first impression of Blogging has been relatively positive up to this point. From what I have read, it seems like blogging could be a very useful way for teachers, students, and parents to communicate. Since most people have PC's and an Internet connection at home it would be a good idea for a teacher to be able to post homework and messages to students via a blog. The advantages are quite significant. By using blogs teachers can effectively communicate with everyone involved in the learning process and also get feedback from students or parents. The fact that a blog is a kind of public forum could be very helpful in the classroom. Students could help each other with problems and comments could help answer questions students have. A potential problem with blogging that I can foresee is the use of inappropriate messages and comments. It is quite conceivable for students to think that inappropriate messages would be humorous. I question the amount of policing that a teacher could do with a Blog created by them especially if a student uses an alias to post something that is offensive. Blogging does definitely have its place in the school setting though, and if used properly could definitely be a tool that could help the education process.