Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking Back

While I may not be a technology guru, I think I have at least opened my mind to try some of the new resources available, compared to the start of this class.  Ive dabbled in quite a few undertakings, even if I didnt totally follow through with their use.  If nothing else, this class provided the opportunities to ease the uneasiness I had when it came to trying new technology.  I am actually looking forward to implementing some of these "new" ideas into my classroom.  Thank you everyone for your input and feedback along the way.
Signing Off

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Revised Wiki

While I feel as though I could tinker with this forever, here is what I have come up with so far: Wiki.  Im sure that on one of the computers I regularly use I have many more resources to add, this is a pretty good start for the topics I teach.  While the topics arent entirely "Physical Science", they are all covered in our state standardized tests, so I teach them, and have to find ways to make them interesting.  Included are resources I have used in the past to demonstrate these topics, and to find real world examples.  There will be many more to add!  The biggest change in the wiki is the addition of "Special Assignments", where students will be required to find resources online relating to the current topic.  Students will then post their findings under the appropriate "Discussion" tab, using the provided guidelines.  The requirements will allow students of all abilities to find valuable online resources, and review other students' findings as well.  Some of these resources may be valuable enough for me to add to the "official" Science Wiki, a collection resources intended for both teacher and students.  This is intended to encourage students to learn to find information on the internet that explains the current classroom topics in a way that may not be covered in the classroom.  Critiques, reviews, criticisms, etc, are encouraged, please let me know what you think.  Thanks.
Signing Off

Friday, July 22, 2011

Toying Around

I started toying around with embedding videos and downloading youtube clips.  I think this will work out really well for my wiki, instead of providing a thousand links, just download the video, or embed the video directly into the wiki.  How many times have you tried to use someone's link for a video or website that was broken or no longer functioning?  If I directly embed the videos I want, or download them, then upload to the wiki, it should save a lot of headache in the long run.  Plus with the educator version of the wiki you get a lot more online storage space.  Looking forward to revising my wiki so it is up and running by the new school year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Project Ideas and Puzzle Pieces

Time to start putting them together.  Here are my current ideas, feel free to leave feedback, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I have already started setting up my wiki with classroom resources.  Once I get a microphone, Id like to make some brief tutorial videos of how to log-in, navigate, and use some of the resources that are and will be available.  In order to continue to find resources, I would like to have students find their own online resource during each major topic/unit for the year.  These could be simulations, video clips, web pages, etc.  Each student could then post what they have found in the discussions portion of the wiki.  These resources could then be viewed and commented on by other students along the way.  This could potentially clear up lots of confusion along the way without eating a ton of class time.  Not sure on specifics, but Im thinking I could have certain requirements of the students, such as having them grade the resource, explain their rationale, and have them view/comment on a minimum number of others resources.  If the resources are really good, I would add them to the "official" resources portion of the wiki.
Signing off

Friday, July 8, 2011

Quite Possibly the Most Useful Tool So Far

Teaching 8th graders is sort of like training lions.  Just when you think they are friendly, listening to you, and controllable, it all goes out the window and the trainer is attacked.  Ok, so it might not be that bad, but like animals, my 8th graders have a huge range of abilities and mind sets.  One day they are brilliant, exceeding every expectation, and the next, helpless.... My students have had such huge ranges in ability the past few years (thats another topic, for another day) that making a graph using a computer can be like rocket science to them, even if given lessons, tutorials, step by step instructions etc.  After tinkering with Create A Graph, I really think this tool can find a home in my classroom, can be used by the students at the lower ability levels, and can produce similar results to MS Excel.  While I still think Excel is a better program, the Create A Graph tool can match the students abilities until they feel comfortable entering data and interpreting graphs.

Nothing like a good argument

Please excuse me if there is anything here that doesnt quite make sense.  Im quite ill at the moment and the fever isnt helping my concentration.  Open for suggestions!

Generating an Argument - Using Online Data Sets to Determine Length of Daylight
A typical class size for my current teaching position consists of 20-35 students, which could easily be divided into 4-5 groups.  Each group would be given a table consisting of the length of daylight for every day of the year, for different locations around the planet.  Each location would vary greatly, ranging from the students’ hometowns (mid-latitude) to the tropic/polar regions including the southern hemisphere.  Online data sets would be provided by the U.S. Naval Oceanography Portal (see Table 1).  Students would use Microsoft Excel (by importing table) or Create A Graph tools to make a visual for their poster.  Students would be able to ask and answer questions such as:
1. Why do different places have different amounts of daylight?
2. Why does the length of daylight change throughout the year?
3. How does the length of daylight correlate with the seasons?
Each group would examine others posters in order to come to a conclusion and respond to a brief argumentative writing prompt.

Online Data Set Source: U.S. Naval Oceanography Portal 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Whirlwind of Trouble

Today, I learned something very important.  Just when I think I know what I'm doing, I realize I have no clue at all.  While working on the Mid Course Reflection, I went back to review some comments, some made just a few minutes ago, and to my surprise, they were not there!  Reviewed all of your blogs/entries, and 0 comments from this guy.  I guess I had to take something as simple as making a comment and make it difficult.  Have any of you seen any comments at all from me on your blogs?  I need to figure out what I'm doing wrong.  Please help!