Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tool #9

Technology should be part of the input as teachers write lesson plans, and it should be considered as they are writing their objective. The resources that are available to students these days online are incredible and the presentation tools help facilitate the synthesis of material. 
While requiring teachers to write technology into their objectives may be a viable way to encourage teachers to use technology, I believe asking teachers to add relevance to their lessons may lead them naturally to incorporate technology in their instruction.

There are many ways to use the tech tools including the use of it at a center or station. Whenever students do independent work, it is important to have an accountability piece to help students monitor their own work. Without it, neither the teacher nor the student can prove that there was evidence of learning.

I liked visiting MangaHigh and XLI Math in my explorations. Both tools allow the user to choose specific math skills to focus on and offers immediate feedback. The instantaneous response to students really motivates them to continue working and keeps them engaged. MangaHigh and XLI math sites would be good for stations and small group work. The teacher just has to have a reflective journal which asks students to respond or comment about the work they did while using MangaHigh or XLI math. 

    Some of the apps that I have discovered include Brain Tuner, Find Sums, and WolframAlpha. In Brain Tuner, students can choose three different time parameters. Students decide whether a given equation is true or false with a set time limit. Find Sums is similar to Brain Tuner only students have a set time limit to find all the combinations to a specific sum. These types of apps would require students to use the app multiple times in one setting to collect data on him or herself. A student would be required to use the app at least ten times to collect data about his or her progress. This data could be collected over the course of one week or two weeks. Using the app in this way actually encourages students to practice a given set of skills in order to collect data for creating graphs. Without the collection of data, the app may only have a weak hold on students' attention. Drill and kill apps can be fun, but they only hold the player's attention briefly. Wolfram Alpha is different. This app helps a student solve a problem and represents the solution in multiple ways. Students would benefit from Wolfram especially when working on order of operations. The station for this app could change from week to week because it address multiple skills across many disciplines.
    The itouch or ipad are great tools for communicating. Students can always use journals or notes for writing down short stories and capturing a picture for it immediately. Younger students could write about cafeteria life and take pictures to accompany their story. The combination of writing tool with camera opens the door to many opportunities. Math students can use the device to ask experts about questions. My personal itouch was invaluable as I visited bilingual classrooms observing instruction. Newcomers to the country have instant access to translators for many languages. The application of the tool is only limited by imagination.

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