Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Tech Savvy Teacher

We are surrounded by technology everywhere we go. It can become a great key in the classroom that we should embrace. By utilizing technology in the classroom we will enhance student learning. There are so many different sources that can be used to teach all subjects. Some sources that are available are digital microscopes, digital temperature probes, Kidspiration, Stellarium, Google earth, Celestia, virtual pond, and world wind. These are all fantastic resources that should be learned and used in the classroom.

We had a great time this week in our sixth grade science class! In our experimental work, we used Stellarium to "identify patterns in the change of the moon.” We went through the month of January and observed the change of appearance each night as the moon went through its different phases. This is a fascinating and efficient way to teach the phases of the moon. The moon can be observed during classroom time and can be seen clearly.

Working in an urban area, students will not often be able to see the moon at night due to skyline issues, pollution, and safety in the evenings. Using a program like Stellarium will help our students understand the phases while in the safety of our classroom. It can also give them a worldview if we have them view the phases from multiple perspectives around the world. While it is important for us to be tech savvy teachers, it is also important for us to find ways to integrate our curriculum to benefit our students. This assignment through Stellarium could help students see the varying landscapes and environments of the world important for social studies, as well as the science discovery that we made involving the phases of the moon. It will meet the needs of learners in all facets of education.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Observational Learning Report

I observed my math teacher, Ms. Johnson. She lets the students control the direction the class period goes in. The students are all at tables of five or six students. The students are encouraged to discuss all material with others at their table. She starts the class off by having students discuss the previous nights homework with each other. Homework is graded on completion, rather than right or wrong. She just wants to see that we are trying our best. We may go over the homework in class, in which case she will have the students work the problems out on the board. She would rather have us try and figure things out on our own with the help of others than for her to just give us the answers. She then gives us a builder, which has concepts we may or may not know how to do. By trying to complete the builder we teach ourselves and each other how to do the concept. If everybody is struggling with something she will guide us, but will never just tell us the answer. She then gives us the homework that we work on individually or as a table. The whole class revolves around us, the students, working with each other and sharing our knowledge with others. It is a very social atmosphere. I think that by trying to figure things out on my own the material sticks better in my head. However, I sometimes get frustrated when I don’t understand a concept and those around me can’t explain it well. I enjoy the social interaction because it keeps me engaged and allows freedom. I also like being graded on completion and effort rather than right or wrong. When it comes to difficult problems I at least try to complete the problem, whereas if I was graded on just right or wrong I may have not even wasted my time trying. We also use a lot of manipulatives, which helps having visuals. Hands on activities always keep me more engaged.

I enjoy learning in this kind of an environment. The social interaction is very beneficial. Math can sometimes be very boring, so by having the students think for themselves and interact with each other it keeps the class entertained. If I were to teach this math class my suggestion would be to change things up a little, so things are not so repetitive. It gets frustrating just doing one builder and homework after the other. It seems like it is never going to end. If I were the teacher I would lecture sometimes, have students teach each other sometimes, and have students work on their own occasionally. A little variety would be beneficial for a math class. However, I think it is necessary to have social interaction in any classroom.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TPCK and Stellarium

I think that the TPCK model is very important to apply in the classroom. The diagram consists of Pedagogical Knowledge, Content Knowledge, and Technological Knowledge. All of the different knowledges overlap in certain cases. Ideally as a teacher we would teach in a way that incorporates pedagogy, content, and techology. It is important to apply all the different knowledge categories in our classrooms in order to give our students a well rounded education. As teachers we need to present a wide variety of pedagogical strategies, content, and techology in order to meet every students needs by the use of these different knowledges.

I also used this neat science program called Stellarium. It allows you to look at the sky from anytime: past, present, or future. It shows different constellations, the way the sun moves, and the different phases of the moon. This is a great tool to use in the classroom. Students will really find Stellarium fun, entertaining, and educational.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I learned that RSS is a personalized web reader. We can create a way to know when all of our favorite websites add anything new. It saves us a lot of time that we waste checking all of our favorite sites just to find there is nothing new. This would be a great resource to use as a teacher to stay current on educational practices. It also is helpful to be notified when new lesson plans are created. I also learned about goodreads and del.icio.us, which are great Web 2.0 tools. Goodreads is a great way to post my favorite books. I can rate them and give my opinion about what I think about them. You can then share them with other teachers. Delicious is a place where I can post my favorite websites and then share them with other people too.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Semester

I have very little technology experience. I only know the basics. I can use Microsoft word, different search engines, facebook, powerpoint, and that is about it. I am looking forward to learning, however! I think technology is very important and necessary in the classroom. I think this class will be very helpful.