Saturday, March 31, 2012

Scientific tuesdays

This semester I am following a blog called Scientific Tuesdays. This blog is done by one guy and he does a lot of activities that are geared toward entertaining children and are often fun crafts but have a lot of good science behind them. In the very first episode I watched he created neon solar powered lights for Halloween. He walked us through the craft part of painting the classes and then showed us how to disassemble a solar lamp. In disassembling the lamp he talked about how the lamp was a circuit and that the reason it worked with solar power was because all day the suns light was absorbed and stored. Once the light was turned on the wires connected let the energy run through them completing the circuit. The end result of the activity was having glowing lights that were solar powered.
The second episode I watched involved showing us how to make a trip wire. In this activity he took apart a toy candle light and showed how to break the circuit up. In breaking the circuit he had two loose wires that when connected to a long spare wire would then re complete the circuit. Of one end of the loose wire he has attached each side to a clip. The clip when closed allowed the circuit to flow but when was open did not. When the clip closed and the circuit was complete the light would flicker on. To test the trip wire he placed it across a doorway so that when someone walked by and pulled on the wire the clip would close. I thought this was a fun was to show students to a circuit works. This would be a fun activity or lab to do with students along with the glowing lamps.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mental Math

One of the pod casts I am following this semester is called Mental Math. Mental Math provides helpful tips to doing math equations in your head. In the most recent pod cast I have viewed I have learned how to divide numbers by .5 in my head. For example in you are dividing a 10 by .5 it is the same as multiplying by 2, this is the case for any time that you are dividing .5 by a number.  I think learning tips like this are extremely helpful for any prospective teacher. While it is important for students to learn how to write out algebraic equations and to be able to show their work to support their answers it is also important that students understand tricks for more real world applications. Often teachers focus a lot on how you got your answer and what many teachers seem to lose is that there is more than one way to come about the answer to a math problem and not one single way is correct. 

When students come into a standardized test they are not being judged on the work they can show, there is not partial credit so it would be relevant for a student to know the fastest way to get to an answer. In an age where standardized testing is relevant but changing we as teachers need to be preparing students to be able to do these things.  As a student who struggled with math a lot in elementary school I know that one of the major problems I had was with simple operations when problems got too big. If there were multiple steps for an equation I often made simple errors. For other students who have the same problem watching videos that are made through Mental Math could provide them with shortcuts that might eliminate these types of simple errors.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Technology is the Future

Technology is the future of classrooms and is currently a prevalent part of our world and our day to day life. People use technology to communicate, learn, explore, and for entertainment; the majority of time people don’t even realize they are using it. Technology is an idea was once new to people and has only really erupted in the last 20 years, but within those last two years some of today technological leaders have paved the way for technology to help us in ways many would never have dreamed. A lot of the tools being created in today’s day and age are being geared to helping communicate information most importantly in classrooms. Some of the most helpful tools that have been introduced in the last decade are Turning Point and Animoto.

Turning Point is a great quizzing or polling tool that operates a lot like PowerPoint. Teachers constantly need to test the knowledge of students and to see how well students comprehend information as well as which techniques are working for students. Turning Point gives teachers a new and innovative way to address both of these things. The actual questions are created on a Power Point looking slide and have multiple choice answers, students can then select their answers by clicking the corresponding letter on a clicker that they all have. Each one of these clickers has a code on it that will register with the program so a teacher can track what student’s answers are. Teachers can make Power Points with the Turning Point program and have places in the power point where they have a mini quiz to test the student’s knowledge on what they have learned so far. This is a great way to get students to pay attention during lecture times and teachers can always count these quizzes as participation and not as a full quiz grade.  Teachers can also create review games and review sessions with this program. If teachers create quiz or test like questions they then can present them to the class in a fun way and track who gets what right then tally up the points at the end to see how each person did. This could be a group quiz game too. A teacher could create a “who wants to be a millionaire” style game and have only two clickers going at a time to see who gets it right. The teacher can have the class be in teams and have only one person come up at a time. The reward for this type of game could be extra credit points or even just bragging rights either way it makes reviews a lot less intimidating.

The great thing about Turning Point is that you can have it highlight the correct answers after you have allotted the amount of time you want to give that specific question. In addition of giving the correct answer it gives a statistical breakdown of the answers students chose so the teacher can gage what the students were thinking and address miss communications that might arise. This type of tool makes quizzes seem less intimidating to students and allows them a new fun way to take quizzes rather than paper and pencil style. 

Animoto is another great tool to use when it comes to teaching. Animoto is a video making program that creates professional quality videos in seconds! The program is all online so there is never a conflict with it not working the same with a Mac vs. PC. Animoto is great because it makes video making simple even for the most non tech savvy people out there. When you log in to the site you can create a video in just seconds by choosing a theme, pictures (ones provided or your own), music (provided or your own), and text when all of that is chosen you can reorder things and the site will produce the video itself. Once the video is made you are free to share it or embed it to another site/page. 

For teachers Animoto is the perfect way to get students hooked on a new topic. A majority of the time when teachers introduce a new topic it starts with “get out your workbooks” and for a student that just kills the moral one has and makes everything mundane. However if a teacher made a short video of  clips and pictures that give a sneak peak at the new topic it would entice the students to want to know more and leave them hanging. Students are going to react better to videos in schools today because they are exposed to so much tv and internet that they live their life around that type of media. For teachers being able to put the information on a level the kids can relate to will help the students better understand and connect with all the important information.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

IPads the New Frontier

Technology in general is a growing aspect in schools and is impacting the way a classroom operates across all levels. As a growing well known company, Apple has begun to pave the way to a new, fascinating, technological future by introducing the world to the iPad.  The iPad is not just another computer but a technical tool that is extremely versatile. Whether you are a teacher, college student, high school student or even elementary student the iPad can greatly enhance the way one learns and teaches information. The iPad is set up to operate hundreds of applications that can enhance any type of learner’s education.

When it comes to teaching, teachers can use the iPad in their classrooms to engage the students with a new fun technical tool. Students at home may already have access to an iPad and are probably already using it to play games and learn. There are application available that can help students practice their reading and writing skills which can be extremely helpful when students may need more practice in those areas. Students who many learn kinesthetically can be better engaged with the use of application because they are physically going through the motions rather than watching a teacher perform them.

Middle school students are a group of children who can benefit greatly from the use of iPads in their classrooms. A subject that students in middle school often struggle with is social studies because a lot of students view it as irrelevant to their lives. When entering the 6th grade students are expected to learn the continents, countries, and capitals of not just the states within the USA but also in others areas around the world. Currently the best way teachers have to teach these is with repetition on plain maps on paper, but not anymore.

The iPad is opening up a new world for middle school teachers Applications such as U.S geography by Discover Education. With this amazing Application students get to play games, compete against each other and others around the world all while becoming an expert on US geography. The iPad is paving the way toward a brighter future in the area of education. It is a tool that Teachers will come to learn about and use to make their students more efficient in all areas.