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Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Tag Archives: research

Think Wikipedia Isn’t Useful to Students? Think Again

Here’s a nice infographic showing facts and information about Wikipedia. A couple of things really caught my attention:

  1. 8 out of 10 students turn to Wikipedia for their first source of research.
  2. Fewer teachers are banning Wikipedia from being used for research.
  3. 56% of students will halt research if little information is found on Wikipedia.
As educators, we need to help students become better researchers, showing them that while Wikipedia is a resource, it is not the end-all-be-all and should be thought of as such. Most teachers require several sources to be used while doing research and Wikipedia is the king of citing other sources at the bottom of every page. This makes Wikipedia a great starting point for any research, not an ending point.

Wikipedia
Via: Open-Site.org

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iPads in Education

Here’s a great resource compiled on scoop.it by Kyle Calderwood, for learning about the reasons to use iPads in educational settings. There are currently 81 articles about ways to use iPads in your classroom, must have apps, tips and tricks, case studies, and more.

Using iPads in Education

A Google a Day

Here’s a great idea for a classroom ice-breaker or a daily conversation starter from Google. It’s called “A Google a Day” and it’s a simple interface that takes the Google search page and adds a daily trivia question to the bottom of the screen. You do a search to find the answer and then check to see if you got it correct by clicking, “Show answer.” The answer is then displayed along with tips on the best techniques to search for it (in case you got the wrong answer).

Ed Tech Ideas: This is a great activity for younger kids as it teaches and reinforces smart search querying. To avoid spoilers, Deja Google was created, which is, “A wormhole inspired time machine that searches the Internet as it existed before the game began.” So you can search for the answer without fear of coming across someone’s blog post with the answer, thus spoiling the fun.

Rationale for Using Skype in the Classroom

Skype is an awesome world-opener for education. Imagine being able to bring in experts from anywhere on any subject to teach, inspire, and motivate your students. Imagine being able to talk to an author of a book your class just finished reading, and ask him or her questions about the book. Imagine conversing and collaborating with a class half-way around the world. All of this, and more is possible with Skype.
If you are planning on using Skype in your classroom, head over to Silvia Tolisano’s blog for everything you’ll need to get started.  If you’d like to see a recent Skype interview my 5th graders had recently with history experts from Singapore’s Ministry of Education, click here.
This post, however, is in response to an email from a parent I recently received about safety concerns of using Skype. The email focused on every negative aspect of technology that has ever been broadcast on the evening news, and although it was fairly clear that I would not be changing the parent’s mind, I did gather the following research and information to state our reasonings for using Skype in the classroom. Not all parents will be initially supportive of the use of this technology, so if you are planning on using Skype in the classroom, I recommend you lay out your rationale to parents beforehand as we did, to ease any worries that parents may have. Here is a permission slip that we used for our Skype-In project.


Rationale

  • We have a policy at our school to prepare our students for the 21st century and beyond. We teach and utilize tools that aid in collaboration. We teach students how to use these tools in a safe environment where we can monitor mistakes and turn them into teachable moments.
  • First and foremost, we show students how to use the security features within Skype and teach the students how to do this so that only people within their contact list can communicate with them. We also teach them:
    • To not put details in their profiles (names, birthdates, addresses, etc.) that should not be publicly available
    • How to spot phishing scams and what to do when they happen
    • How to block unknown contact requests
    • How to create strong passwords
    • Appropriate online etiquette
  • Studies have shown that children begin using social media at younger and younger ages. Not preparing them for this world (their world) would be doing them a disservice. Being able to teach them the skills of safety within online/social environments is part of all of our jobs as educators and parents. If we turn a blind eye to this, we will only be exacerbating the problem by allowing them to try to stumble their way through on their own.
  • Internal surveys of our students found that 26% of 3rd graders, 35% of 4th graders and 53% of 5th graders have social media accounts (Facebook and/or Myspace) and use them regularly. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but it’s the reality of today’s student. Where are they going to learn the necessary skills of an ever-more increasing digital world?

Pertinent Quotes

As Wayne Morren, principal of Florida High School noted recently:

“Teaching and learning in the 21st Century can no longer be a traditional experience of “sit and get.”[5] Teachers as well as students must strive to creatively employ technology tools to access, evaluate, synthesize and communicate information. Only by engaging in this active process can “information” from the Internet be translated into “knowledge” in the minds of learners. Classroom teachers can leverage the potential of disruptive technologies like Skype, weblogs, podcasts, or one to one technology immersion initiatives to increase student motivation to communicate with authentic audiences, spend more time on assigned tasks, and develop essential literacy skills needed for vocational and lifetime success in the twenty-first century. Translated, this means increasing student achievement, while simultaneously encouraging students as well as teachers to engage in worthwhile and creative tasks. Twenty-first century educators should aspire for nothing less.”

From the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, 2010:

“In proceeding forward, schools must understand that the past decade has been characterized by technopanic ~ a heightened concern about the use of the Internet by young people that is not grounded in the actual research evidence.”

From AVG, 2010:

“Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of children under two have some kind of digital footprint, such as online albums or email addresses.”

Benefits of Using Skype in the Classroom

From: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/thinkin/upload/Ellis.pdf

  • Social interaction allows the learner to reflect and reconsider, get help and support, and participate in authentic problem solving.
  • Benefits for learners include:
    • improved learning strategies
    • greater perseverance, and reduced need for help from the instructor
    • Social interaction provides critical opportunities for learners who are learning at a distance
    • The types of social interactions that would normally occur in a face-to-face setting (discussion, sharing, peer review, group activities, etc.) need to occur via online technologies and tools in online learning environments
    • Internet technologies offer opportunities to connect people and objects that are not in the immediate physical environment.  Using Skype in the online classroom improves social interaction and helps to create an authentic peer review environment.

Uses of Skype in the Classroom

From: http://blog.educaedu.com/en/2011/03/09/skype-in-the-classroom/

  • Videoconferencing in the Classroom –  Utilising experts, authors, and guest instructors who would never otherwise be able to visit the school.
  • Virtual Field Trips – Using video chatting to bring the field trip into the classroom – for example, visiting a TV production site guided by one of the student´s parents who works there, which includes all students despite budgetary or distance constraints.
  • Foreign Language Learning and Cultural Exchange – Teachers use Skype to connect local students with native speaking students from other countires.
  • After School Help – Tutors and teachers can provide after school help to students needing extra attention via Skype.
  • Student Inclusion - Helping an ill classmate join the classroom from home.
  • Foreign Culture Lessons – Skype allows students to see in real-time what people’s lives, homes, schools, weather, and more look like in other countries.
  • Volunteer to help kids in India learn English – Connect with schools in developing countries for both cultural connections and educational benefits

Final Thoughts

There are so many stellar learning opportunities out there when you open up the world to your classroom. There will always be the rare individual who is against new technology or who suffers from techn0-panic. Often, they are simply concerned for the well-being of their children and are probably unaware of how things work. As teachers, we are not only educating our students, but quite often, the parents as well.

Researching, Graphing and Publishing in Four Steps

One of my third grade classes is working on a unit of learning about, and deciphering the differences between developed and developing countries. They are investigating what makes a country developed, why certain countries develop and other don’t, and trying to figure out how we can close the gap.

Step 1: The Premise

We began by gathering information on 2 counties (one developed; the other developing) such as literacy rate, life expectancy, population, GDP per capita,  and other statistical facts that could be found online. They recorded their findings in a Word document. This information was later used to graph the results and to develop a better understanding of the differences between developed and developing countries.

Step 2: The Research

For most of the research, we used CIA World Fact Book. This is a great site with detailed information on every country in the world. It is fairly easy to find the information, but what I like even more is that the kids did have to do some thinking and searching to find the information they needed. Other sites we used were the BBC’s Development and Health, National Geographic’s People and Places, OxFam’s Wake Up World, and Heifer International’s Read to Feed.

Step 3: The Graphs

After all the information was gathered students went to Create-a-Graph and began entering their data. They selected specific data to compare 2 or more countries (i.e., literacy rates of Singapore vs. Afganastan; Life Expectancy of people in Singapore vs. Cuba; GDP of Singapore vs. The Philippines; etc.). We used Singapore for the developed country as that is where all the students live. The students got to choose which developing country they researched and, not surprisingly, a lot chose either Haiti or Afghanistan. (Note to self: next time, I will have students sign up for a country to avoid repeats).

Step 4: Publishing

After all the data was collected and graphed, the students downloaded their graphs as PDFs and I then uploaded them all to Youblisher to share their findings with people from around the world. You can take a look at their graphs here.

Create-a-Graph Step by Step Guide

What’s in Your Reader?

Attribution: "Rss para blog do Rafa feito por+mim" http://www.flickr.com/photos/31770402@N02/3531293278I’m always looking for new ways to gather, organize and learn about new information regarding technology and education. Listening to an EdTechTalk podcast the other day where Richard Byrne was being interviewed, he mentioned his Google Reader and I was really hoping that he would reveal some of the sites he subscribes to.  Unfortunately, he didn’t (not that he was trying to hide his sources) but it got me thinking that more peeking should be encouraged among educators. Diigo, Delicious, and other social bookmarking sites are great resources to see what sites other people find interesting enough to save; but I want to see what people are reading when they first log in to their computers in the morning.

About

For those who don’t know about RSS or Readers, let me fill you in on the info. RSS is most commonly expanded as “Really Simple Syndication.” These RSS feeds can be subscribed to using a reader, or aggregator. You can subscribe to as many different sites as you like and then all of the new content comes directly to you in one, easy to use page. You can read the articles directly in your reader, or you can open them in their home site.

Common Craft has a fantastic explanatory video called “RSS in Plain English” that I’d recommend watching if you’re wanting more information.

You can read How to Explain RSS the Oprah Way if you still don’t quite get it (Preview: Instead of calling it “Really Simple Syndication,” RSS is referred to as “Ready for Some Stories.

My Reader

In the spirit of sharing, I’ve inserted a screen capture of my Google Reader subscriptions as it stands today. I have five basic categories: Tech – which is a collection of sites that blog about all technology-related topics. Education – general education blogs, not necessarily dealing with technology. Ed Tech Blogs – the most useful to me as they are primarily written by educators, for educators. News – I used to have more news sites that I subscribed to, but they were so prolific in their amount of posts, that it became too much to keep up. Fun – I should probably have more here to keep somewhat of a balance in my life, but alas, there is but one.

Care to share?

Let’s hear about it:

  1. What’s in your reader?
  2. Which subscription(s) do you find most useful to your everyday life?
  3. Do you have your students use a reader?

Leave your comments below.

Biography Timelines with Excel

Who says Excel is just for lists and numbers? (Probably no one, but let’s pretend someone says that).  For a recent biography project 4th graders were to create a timeline of a famous person. After researching and gathering facts, I had the students open up excel and showed them how to use the drawing tools to create text box shapes, connecting arrows, and multiple page view with page breaks.  There are a lot of online timeline creators where you just plug in a title, date and event; but I wanted to allow my students flexibility to create and design their timelines in their own unique style, as well as, teach them some new tools in Excel that they may not have known about.

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