jill's room

...a place to explore the use of technology in education...

26 September 2005

Specific Technology Outcome
'processes for productivity' - P.6.4.1 - Students will use communication technology to interact with others; select and use the appropriate technologies to communicate effectively with a targeted audience

Subject: English Language Arts
Grade: 11

For this specific technology outcome, PowerPoint will be incorporated into a class presentation created by pairs of students for the purpose of communicating to their peers (the target audience). The medium provides the opportunity for students to show their ability to use viewing and representing in combination with speaking (as presenters) while simultaneously permitting their peers to practice listening, reading, and viewing (as observers). Integration of technology into their presentation will also serve to meet the English Language Arts outcomes 4.1 and 4.2 by employing a technology communication tool to develop a product including text and non-text items.
Specifically, the assignment will be the representation of a piece of literature read that year through both text and relevant visuals. The students may represent the plot, specific characters, or overriding theme(s) found within the piece of literature they choose. If interested, students may use additional technology to complement their PowerPoint presentation, or they may choose to use PowerPoint as the sole medium. Other technologies to consider may include music, video/DVD clips, or video recordings.

Integrating Technology into the Classroom

There are many ways that technology can be integrated into meaningful learning experiences. Effective integration of technology into the classroom is best assessed by how it contributed to the learning environment. Did the technology get in the way of learning? Did the use of technology increase the success of the lesson? Did it make any difference? Would the students have learned just as much if a computer was not used? Asking such questions before implementation of technology can troubleshoot any concerns and help to inform the lesson or unit planning.
In order to integrate technology into a given lesson or unit, it is important that using the technology itself is not the only reason an activity is being conducted. Linking the means to the product and connecting the use of a computer to other elements of student learning will improve how effective an assignment will be. An example of such a situation could be to combine social studies, health and wellness and math into a research project for science on the use of pesticides. The project could be focused upon the use of a specific pesticide (eg.DDT) and the differences in usage across North and South America. Students could look into the effects of the pesticide on people and wildlife by doing Internet research as well as use mapping and graphing tools to show their results. Having an entire unit based on a research project could enable the successful integration of the Web, word processing, as well as different data analysis tools.
Integration could also occur on a smaller scale and involve only one or two forms of technology. For instance, a journal response to a novel being read could have to be typed and printed or emailed to a friend for comments. In this instance the integration is subtle and highlights the daily utility of technology in our lives. The research project, on the other hand, could be presented to the students as an alternative or complementary tool to traditional library research. If so, it could be beneficial to have students reflect upon the challenges and successes that they had in using the different forms of technology.
Less successful technology integration would be when the means detracts from the learning process. Using problematic software or not providing clear expectations can really inhibit the usefulness of technology. For example, giving the assignment to a social studies class to look up Sir Winston Churchill on the Internet would be enough to get the students on a computer, but not necessarily teach them anything. Quite possibly, unless the teacher is vigilant, three minutes later the students would be all over the Web and not necessarily on task. Plus, general unguided searching can be extremely time consuming and not result in anything useful.
Another poor way to integrate technology would be to ask the students to use a computer to do something that they can do just as easily on their own. Students can add 2+2 just as fast (if not faster) in their heads as they can type the numbers into a spreadsheet or calculator. Making work does not make learning. Instead, why not show the students how a computer can help you use that simple mathematical function and apply it to a large data set? Why not challenge the students to come up with a scenario themselves in which using a computer would be more effective and efficient than trying to do something without one?

Effective integration involves critical thinking and responsible use of the variety of technological tools available. Part of the traditional barrier to integration of technology has come from a short-sighted view of the applicability of technology. Add in administrative resistance, low budgets, and lack of teacher comfort with technology and it is easy to see how full integration in the classroom has been a long-term project for most schools. There has been a chronological shift, however, to introducing the importance of technology in teacher education programs and offering more professional development opportunities to practicing teachers. Combined, these factors have worked in conjunction with changes in the curriculum to establish the importance of technological integration.

17 September 2005

What has stuck out strongly in my mind since our introduction class, is to be involved in the process of actively thinking about my experience with blogging as a student. Three years ago, when I started an online diary with diaryland, I had never heard of blogging, and I had no idea that I had stepped into such a growing trend! I joined because my friend mentioned it to me and I thought it might be fun. As simple as that. What ended up happening, however, is that I had joined a community - a group of people that related as much online as we did in person.

Blood (2000) works through many of the effects of blogging in her article. A lot of the points she raises related to my experience. I found reading others' blogs very interesting, and enjoyed seeing what links they included or what topics and themes carried through multiple journals. Often times I would write an entry based on things that other people had written about, including my personal view on the topic. Since everything posted is public domain, I took the time to consider my point of view before writing, to learn about my own biases and how I balanced my reasoning. I didn't always like what I had written when I would go back through the archives, but I always left the posts as they were because they represented how I felt at that time.

I also really enjoyed the creative side of the experience. I spent countless hours viewing the html pages and playing around, attempting to decipher the language. There were some successes, and when I figured something out I would change up that feature any time I felt like it. I enjoyed the confidence I gained with computers from such a small exposure to the world 'behind the scenes'.

It is the combination of learning about yourself through your writing - and the reactions/responses that you have to what others write - as well as the experimentation aspect, that presents a connection for me to the world of education. Incorporating the use of a blog-type program into a unit, for example, could allow the students to document and discuss as they are learning. At the end of the unit, there is a tangible product that can be compared over time for reflective purposes. Blogging can allow the students to watch themselves grow. It may be fun to even include a side assignment of exploring the formatting options to see where the pupils can take their creativity. The possibilities are infinite.

Blood, Rebecca. "Weblogs: A History and Perspective", Rebecca's Pocket. 07 September 2000. 16 September 2005. http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html.

Hi there!
My name is jill, and welcome to my room. I am from Calgary and have just recently moved to Lethbridge to complete my BEd. My background is pretty diverse, but what has brought me here is my passion for science education - especially chemistry. I graduated in 2002 with a degree in archaeology and a degree in anthropology. I have been fortunate enough in my life to have been able to work in the field and travel to amazing places, including living overseas for a year. No matter where I have been, however, Alberta remains my home and I find myself returning each time happier to be home.

14 September 2005

testing, testing.....