I spent this week substituting at the middle school in the technology lab. While there, I was able to watch and use the online comic-strip-generating program “Pixton”. The students were charged with the assignment of creating a comic strip that taught a message about Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship.
Each student had a username and password and had used the program before, so they knew right away what to do to get started. In experimenting with it myself, I found that it was a very user-friendly tool. The buttons were intuitive to the novice creator.
In deciding on a tool to explore for this week, I found it easiest to think in terms of a particular standard. I chose the science standard having to do with physics and simple machines, as I previously taught a unit during student teaching to second graders. I wanted to find something they could utilize to better grasp understandings about simple machines such as: what simple machines are and how they make work easier.
I think the students would be engaged and highly motivated with Pixton AND come to better understand simple machines. Second graders love comics, they would have a blast playing with the program. They could also share their creations with the rest of the class by logging on to the program and sharing on the Promethean board.
Unfortunately, Pixton does cost money. It appears that the school has a subscription and multiple teachers use it to create assignments for different classes. Some nice features:
- teachers put assignment descriptions for students to look over
- before students submit their comic, they can assign a grade to their work based on a rubric that the teacher inputs
- a teacher-graded rubric is set up next to the student rubric
- a place for comments is available for students to give feedback to other students’ work
Second graders may need additional support using Pixton – depending on their comfort level with technology. Also, as with any creative-based assignment, the amount of time per student will surely vary greatly. As I alluded to earlier, this tool could be used for any number of topics as another way to explore important concepts. I think something like this requires the student to explain to themselves what they know in order to relay their message to a broader audience. There is a lot of a potential for furthering understanding through this tool.
Oops! I forgot to include in my post how I my learning has progressed throughout the week. I feel like, whereas the start of this class had me spending too much time sifting through information, now I have narrowed in on what I need to be reading and processing. It has helped to “follow” my classmates blogs and receive an email when updates have been made. I have become more efficient at reading entries and take some good information as well as reassurance that my journey is similar to others in the education technology field. I’ve tried to make it a point to comment on three or four blogs, although I haven’t followed responses. Something I need to pursue more. I also try to read at least an article from the daily newspaper for the class.
I look forward to working with a new group – the simulators – for assignment two.
Differentiation is something I highly value as an educator – the idea that there are multiple intelligences in the classroom; that students learn differently; and that all students can benefit from being taught important concepts in many different ways – these are all vital components to effective teaching.
Technology can offer much to the process of differentiation. Supplementing traditional teaching methods with videos, tutorials, web searches and simulations all offer multiple avenues to information.
In teaching a Simple Machines unit with second graders during student teaching, in addition to hands-on experimentation with simple machines and reading and writing about the subject, the unit included a video and BrainPOP cartoon, an electronic sorting game on the Promethean board, and different images of simple machines found in the world. These resources taught the important concepts that I targeted with the unit:
– identifying simple machines
– explaining how simple machines help us/their purpose
By using differentiation in the unit, I was able to better engage students and hit on important points multiple times.
What are your overall take-aways from the methods/tools that you might use to differentiate the classroom environment (for teacher productivity and student progression)? Which of these may you use in your classroom in the future?
Hmmmmmm. I’m excited about the Dropbox tool as it seems to promise ease of access to electronic documents – I love the idea of needing less paper in the classroom, less rough drafts.
I like the video tutorials (made one using Jing) and the potential they have for communication and differentiation with students.
It would be an interesting alternative to have students create Wikispaces instead of writing a traditional report.
Really, just thinking about transferring a lot of the written information from hard copy to electronic form in the future boggles the mind. I feel like this experience, thus far, has opened my eyes to a plethora of tools.
I do find it helpful to read the other blogs and see what other educators are doing. I’m excited to continue this technology journey.
I feel like it’s been a while since I have posted, so I thought I’d give an update on this learning process.
At the beginning of the course I felt overwhelmed by all the new resources and links and articles and blogs and sign ins and passwords and windows open and reading. As the weeks have gone by, I’ve found myself returning to a few places and abandoning others. For example, I go daily to Wikispace to add new thoughts and ideas to the page I am working on. I check in with this blog and other classmates frequently, especially now that I am following many classmate blogs and receive an email when somebody puts in a post. I check the course site to review (again) what I am supposed to be doing for Assignment one.
Sites and tools I have abandoned: Diigo – what happened to you?? I was bookmarking madly a few weeks ago. Now, I have gone days without checking in to the site. Forget about Google Groups. And, unfortunately, I tend to avoid Twitter. It was helpful last week when I was attempting to meet with my group mate(s), but I haven’t found it very helpful yet. Ah well, maybe I’ll return one day.
Also, Dropbox is now available but I haven’t had a real need to utilize it much to date.
So, the think about technology I’ve learned is that I need a clear purpose to truly utilize it.
How can I use tools “in the cloud” to easily manage and deliver feedback to my students?
So, this is the question. I think the idea of the cloud is to be able to access information easily no matter where someone is physically. By using a tool like Dropbox, where I can put documents for students and students can put documents for their own use and my review, it will facilitate the flow of information and encourage more refined work. The issue of “having left my work at home” or even on a different computer will be resolved.
The advent of mobile computers has changed the way people communicate and access information. It is easy to Google whatever question that comes to mind; to map out directions to specific places in a new city; or to find out what is expected in class at any time with relative ease. People today are expected to troubleshoot and problem solve in all new ways because of the cloud. We are simply limited by our familiarity with the tools available or not asking the right question.
Thinking about the cloud concept, I would say the school district has a cloud-based network that can be accessed on school district computers with a username and password. It allows students and teachers to put files in folders for others to access. Unfortunately, away from school district computers, it isn’t accessible. Most teachers employed by the district can bring a laptop from school and access documents and files at home to do work.