Friday, March 27, 2009

Journal article review of : Hooked on Classroom Blogging written Rachel Peters

This article is about a teacher who was given the opportunity to participate in a program called live in the Field sponsored by Earthwatch. Rachel went to Vietnam to help scientists study butterflies. Part of the experience she was required to keep an active blog and be connected with her students and submit lesson plans based on her trip. Her main goal was to teach her students about Vietnam, its geography, culture, and the Vietnamese people.
Her students are nine to ten years old and she said that her greatest challenge would be making the blog interesting for them. On her first attempt she had basic questions to be answered with concrete facts. She was not happy with that and she directed her blog more into the student discussion area were her students could share their thoughts. She also created online quizzes with rewards and that got her students hooked. In her article she lists tips for blogging in the elementary classroom. One of the tips was "1. Post questions that students will enjoy answering-questions that encourage them to share personal experiences and opinions..." When she returned she left her blog up for others to see: Rachel Peters' Blog.

Q1: How effective is this type of activity as a teaching tool for students?

A1: I would say that this is a wonderful way to share an experience with your students that is also very educational and productive. The biggest thing I liked about this type of activity is that Rachel was teaching her students about another culture and the people that lived in that culture. From my experience American students need to be aware of other cultures around the world so that they are not isolated in their personal perspectives. Students can learn a great deal with an activity like this. The interactivity for this type of project is great, the students participate and learn a lot through blogging and answering questions and relating it to their lives.

Q2: Can this activity be used in other means, not every teacher can take trips around the world and share their experience with their students.

A2: I'm sure that if you could be acquainted with specialists in various fields like anthropology, bio conservationists, and many other exiting fields. You could ask them to blog with your class. An example of this would be studying Egypt, you could ask many historians working there if they wanted to participate in a classroom blog and you and the historian could formulate questions and activity's the students could complete using the blog and technology.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Journal article review of : Bringing Math to Life written Tyson Tuchscherer

This article talks about mathematics courses are getting interpersonal with creative and interactive robots that students can use mathematics to reach students that are struggling with math. These little robots are called CalcBots and they can be personalized for each student, and very small and inexpensive. They are actually calculator programs that can be hooked up to a small race car like device and you can attach many devices to them to suite the students needs.
The students program the bots with equations and functions to do simple tasks, like measuring a distance, or something as complex as navigating a maze.
These little bots are highly interactive and according to the article many student success story's have came out of this experience. One girl in the article who had disciplinary problems was using two bots to create a synchronized dance routine. Another boy who was struggling with academic subjects discovered a new talent when he figured out how to program his bot to do search and rescue missions with a temperature probe mounted on the CalcBot. Even teachers are getting new tools to gain their students attention to subjects, and they are also teaching basic programing and math applications in the same lessons.

Q1: How are CalcBots helping students learn mathematics?

A1: These CalcBots help students learn mathematics by using equations and function commands to direct the control of the bot. But more importantly this type of tool shows a practical use for mathematics that the students can relate to and interact with. I know many students ask what the point of math is, when will they ever use what they learn. And that is a hard question to answer correctly to keep the students excited about math. These bots are perfect for showing a practical use for math that the students will be using in the future. Everyone will eventually need to have some basic understanding of programing in the future, and these bots help students learn equations that they need to know. Instead of doing pages of equations they can program a bot with those same equations and see a result of there math in front of them. And better yet they will self-correct their own math work because they want their bots to function correctly.

Q2: Could these CalcBots branch into other educational areas?

A2: I think you could have a very practical use for these bot in a physics class, working out force and acceleration equations, and many other physic problems. I know I would have liked to have these bots to use in my physics classroom, it one thing to be always doing imaginary problems with your imagination when instead you could use real life bots as part of the problem and the solution.
The only problem incorporating these bots into other areas would be the requirement of basic programing knowledge. But schools could work around that having that skill Incorporated into many classrooms so that the students are familiar with it and can expand their knowledge through further uses of CalcBots.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Journal article review of : Traveling the Novel written Melissa Wert and Scottie Girgus

This article is about a new way of students to interact with literature. This new literature is called the Traveling Novel and it is full novel that is matched up with Google Earth to increase student engagement as they learn. The example in the article is a novel called The Kite Runner and it incorporates satellite imagery, videos, and photographs with the text. The goal is to immerse the students in the journey of Amir, the main character of the novel, as he travels across the globe from Afghanistan, Pakistan, to California, and returning to Afghanistan. As students read about the emotional journey Amir takes they also experience the physical journey that he travels, also exploring the political and cultural conflicts of the story.
Using Google Earth students start off at place markers on the map and then students begin their journey through the text. The feature are very interactive and requires the students to quote from the book and add their own comments reflecting on the situations as they make their way across the world. They use Google Earth to locate actual location and land marks, then create place markers in their own imagination.

Q: How beneficial is this type of literature activity to students?

A: This is a great activity that promotes growth in reading, writing, critical thinking and creativity. This type of activity is for ally kinds of learners too because of the vast interactivity involved in the Novel. Students are also being tutored in Internet browsing, and that is a really valuable skill. I myself have never used Google Earth, but I will give it a try now.

Q: How does this type of interactivity with Google Earth help the students culturally?

A: This tool is invaluable at teaching students about other cultures and geography. Many students are unfortunately unaware of the locations of country's in the rest of the world, and they are becoming increasing isolated culturally in today's society and media. This project is great at teaching students about other cultures and what the rest of the world looks like. Students really need to be aware that their is a whole world out there that is culturally different and have different values than their own. This project gets students personally involved with the life of people that are so vastly different than theirs. This type of activity can be done with nearly any age group using the appropriate story's.