Monday, November 16, 2009

Blogging Reflection

Blogging is a great tool for students and teachers. A blog provides both groups with a location to communicate about material from instruction. If students have questions about content from class, then they can address these issues on the blog. The blog would also allow other students to post solutions or comments about other students' questions. A blog is ideal for collaboration amongst individuals in the learning environment. There are a few things that must be addressed before setting up a blog for a class. Many schools have firewalls established that do not allow access to blogs from any school computer. If you plan to build a blog for a class, it is necessary to make sure that you and your students will be able to access the blog from school.

Educational Value of Blogs

Blogs allow students and teachers with an opportunity to collaborate away from school. There are many educational values of using a blog. A blog can be designed to allow students to post questions for teachers or other students to post responses to. Students would be required to place their questioning and reasoning in written form when they post to the blog. This lets students present their ideas and forces them to analyze how their reasoning relates to a situation. Blogging should be involve just a teacher or just students. It should involve collaboration of both teachers and students. Students can post questions or comments on the blog and teachers can post answers or further comments about the students' posts. Other students can also post answers or comments to other student posts. Blogs can be integrated into the curriculum to develop a means of communication for teachers and students. One problem that I had to deal with throughout the semester was that the firewall out my school would not allow me to access a blog from school. This could create some difficulty for some students who do not have internet access at home, but if you can get permission from your school or system to allow for your blog to be accessible at school, then students and teacher, alike, will benefit from the experience.

Excellent Features of the Blog

Blogging allows people to present numerous ideas for others to read and collaborate on. As an educator, collaboration is key to become the best for your students. If you are able to present your ideas to other professionals and allow them to collaborate with you about your ideas, it will permit you to become a better teacher. Blogging allows multiple individuals to discuss ideas in an open forum and work together to develop the best possible solution to any situation.

Blogging as a Tool for Teaching and Learning

Throughout this semester, we have been able to keep an ongoing blog about our experiences in the classroom and with new technology for the classroom. I feel that my experience with blogging has been beneficial. It has introduced me to a new form of communication with other teachers and students. I think it can be used as a great learning tool. The blog can be used by the teacher and students to remain in constant contact, which allows them to collaborate and ensure that students are getting every question they have answered. If students are using the blog, then it forces them to present their understanding of material in written form, which demonstrates that the student comprehends what is being asked and is able to communicate their interpretation. One thing that surprised me about blogging is how many educators actually blog. I have never been one to blog, but after this experience, I am far more inclined to continue blogging. It provides me with a means of communication with several other individuals in education. It also allows others to present further information about material that is being covered in class. These situations can begin to introduce students to new ideas and enhance their learning possibilities.

Technology For Classroom (InfiniteCampus)

Infinite Campus is an online grade book that my school-system uses and it is very beneficial. It allows teachers to input and access grades from anywhere. This program permits teachers to enter students' grades at home or at school. It also allows teachers to remain in complete contact with administration, parents, and students. Teachers can contact administrators via Infinite Campus. This program allows parents to view how well their child is performing in class as teachers post assignments and grades. Students also have the ability to access progress by logging into the student portion of the program. It is an all-around great program for teachers.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Project-Based Learning Reflection

Project-Based Learning is an opportunity to allow students to demonstrate multiple aspects of their learning. Our project allows students to demonstrate basic math computational skills and how those skills can apply to their future decisions. Our project allows students to research colleges that they want to attend and research their future career. Next, students will develop a monthly budget depending on income based on their career. Once they have developed a monthly budget, the students will research automobiles and build an amortization schedule of the monthly payments. Students will then analyze their remaining funds and plan a vacation. Finally, students will also plan the expenses involved with planning a party. Our project encourages students to study, analyze, and reflect on how certain decisions can affect what students can and cannot do with their money. Our project also allows students to use many computer software applications. They must use the internet to research information, ComicLife to present many of their choices, and VoiceThread to produce an on-going story of their entire project. This project demonstrated how the use of technology in an multiphase project can benefit students. It forces them to research data, analyze their data, and make decisions based on their analysis. It should also show students how their decisions can affect other parts of their life and what they can afford.

Technology that Supports eLearning

Students enjoy the opportunity to use technology to demonstrate knowledge. Any Digital Storytelling software allows students to demonstrate their learning at multiple levels. Students can use the software to add video of themselves or someone else using what they have learned and they can discuss how this type of learning applies to real world scenarios. Students are also forced to learn how to use various types of software in order to edit their movies until they are completely satisfied with the final product.

Technology for a Math Classroom

The most used form of technology in a math classroom is a calculator. In recent years, Texas Instruments has become the premier calculator for mathematics. Many classes require that students purchase some type of Texas Instruments calculator. I have a class set of Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS scientific calculators. I believe that these are great calculators for 9th and 10th grade students. However, this year one of my students asked me if I could show him how to use his calculator because it was not a Texas Instruments model. It was a Casio fx-115es. As I began playing with his calculator, I discovered that it had many more capabilities than does its Texas Instruments counterpart. Therefore, I went and purchased one for myself so that I could familiarize myself with its capabilities. The more I have played with this calculator, the more I have discovered that this calculator is a much better model than the Texas Instruments. It simplifies equations, rationalizes denominators, solves quadratic equations, and it even can solve basic integrals. Since learning of this model, the teachers at my school have decided to try and get classroom sets of the Casio as opposed to the Texas Instruments.

Technology that Supports Creativity

Students always try to demonstrate their creativity in their work. I actually have two students this year who draw very elaborate pictures on every assignment that they turn in. They feel that it is so important to have these pictures on every assignment, that they allow themselves about 5-10 minutes to complete a picture on tests. Many would think that this would cause the students to make errors on their tests because they are rushing to finish the test to make sure that they have enough time to draw the picture, but, surprisingly, these two students score very well on the tests most of the time. A great tool that teachers and students can use to demonstrate creativity is ComicLife. ComicLife is a technological tool that allows people to tell a story using a comic-style format. Students would enjoy the opportunity to tell a story and incorporate their style and ideas.

Transitioning from Middle School to High School

As I high school mathematics teacher, I always discuss things that students should know coming into high school with other math teachers at my school. In the middle school, students are not allowed to use calculators. However, once they reach the high school level students are allowed to use calculators on their assignments and standardized tests. Many teachers struggle with teaching students after they have completed CRCT testing and still have a full month left in school. Students feel as though they do not need to work anymore because they have already taken the CRCT. Many high school math teachers that I have spoken with feel that this time is a great opportunity to teach students how to use a calculator properly. There have been numerous times that I have seen a student set a math problem up correctly, but end up getting a problem incorrect because they do not know how to input their information into the calculator.

Technology that Supports Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is something that students must learn as they develop as self-sufficient individuals. Critical thinking skills are necessary to present oneself as someone who can manage various situations. VoiceThread is a Web 2.0 tool that can help students demonstrate their critical thinking skills. Students can upload images or video and discuss many aspects of their uploads and how they relate to a given circumstance. VoiceThread can also be used to point out small intricacies hidden in images or videos. If students are able to point these small items out, then they have truly studied and analyzed the data in front of them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MovieMaker Reflection

MovieMaker is a tool that can be used for many aspects in education. For our project, I used it as a teaching tool. I videoed myself working out an example, uploaded images of a problem as I narrated the steps needed to solve the problem, and finally I have all of the steps written out with motivating music playing in the background. MovieMaker is a great for uploading video to the web for students to access if they are having difficulty at home. It can also be used for homebound students who are unable to be in class. With a video online, they can access the same instruction as my students who are in my classroom everyday. If a student is absent for some reason, they, too, can access the videos so that they do not get behind. MovieMaker can also be used by students to demonstrate their understanding of material. They can produce their own movies and incorporate their own creativity.

MovieMaker Link

Above is a link to a movie that I created of myself teaching to simplify a complex expression.

Monday, September 28, 2009

ComicLife Article Review

The article, How to use ComicLife in the Classroom, by Charles Thacker is an article that discusses many possibilities of the uses of ComicLife in a classroom. Thacker introduces ideas of why ComicLife is beneficial for a classroom. He states that ComicLife is an asset to a pre-reader because “a comic can be purely graphical in nature and help provide practice with sequencing as well as concrete to abstract transitions using illustrations instead of written words. The written component of a comic can be introduced when the early readers are ready to connect words with images” (Thacker, 2007). The illustrations within the comic help children learning to read associate words with images to give them a better understanding of what is actually taking place in the story. “For more advanced readers, comics can contain all the complexity of 'normal' written material which the student must decode and comprehend, such as puns, alliteration, metaphors, symbolism, point of view, context, inference, and narrative structures. A comic can also be a stepping-stone to more complex and traditional written work. A single pane in a comic can represent paragraphs worth of written material in a manner that is enjoyable and effective for the early or challenged reader” (Thacker, 2007). Thacker also explains that ComicLife works to meet students of different learning styles.

Thacker continues to elaborate on many ideas of how to incorporate ComicLife into the classroom. “Some ideas that he suggests ComicLife can be used for are timelines, historical figures, step-by-step instructions, character analysis, plot analysis, storytelling, post-reading tool, and his list continues to add other ideas” (Thacker, 2007).

Thacker’s article continues to give the reader a better understanding of what ComicLife is and what it can do in the classroom. Thacker gives a brief tutorial which demonstrates how to design a ComicLife example of your own. He finishes the article with an example that he built about his experience adopting a child from China. His rendering of this story is rather comical despite all of the complications that his family had when they were trying to adopt his youngest daughter.

ComicLife is a great asset to have for a teacher to have at their disposal in the classroom. It enables students to explore new possibilities in the classroom and put a unique twist to the situation. It also allows teachers to display information for students in a more elaborate and meaningful way, which, in turn, reaches more students. ComicLife is a tool that it beneficial to anyone in a classroom, teachers and students.

Thacker, C. (2007). How to Use Comic Life in the Classroom. Retrieved September
20, 2009, from MacInstruct Technology in Education Website:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ComicLife Reflection

ComicLife is a program that is a great asset to any teacher. ComicLife can be used in multiple ways. It can be used to tell a story, to build a graphic organizer, or it can be used to design a flyer. If a student is a given an assignment that encourages them to describe a process or to tell a story, then ComicLife can be used to grasp their attention and keep them motivated. ComicLife has many capabilities that students can explore. This gives students the ability to show creativity and use “outside-the-box” thinking. ComicLife can be used to capture the attention of students who may be less inclined to do a certain project. Many students gravitate to projects when they get to use technology and demonstrate their creative abilities.

ComicLife can also be used to generate very attractive graphic organizers. Students who use graphic organizers as a tool to process and understand new material will find endless advantages with ComicLife. Graphic organizers are used by many visual learners because they give students information about the process involved with new material. Being a high school mathematics teacher, I use graphic organizers a lot. I plan to use ComicLife in my classroom to help reach students who may be struggling with a new concept.

ComicLife can also be used to design flyers. Walking around my school, I see flyers around every corner, but they are always so plain. If the flyer was drafted within ComicLife, then it could bring some life to the flyer and capture the attention of more people. The whole idea around a flyer is to capture someone’s attention. If ComicLife is used to design a flyer, then audiences will be drawn toward the flyer and will possibly bring more individuals to the event advertised.