jill's room

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

25 October 2005


An effective WebQuest in an interactive, inquiry-based process, that engages students in information gathering, and the processing of that information. A WebQuest consists of a title, an introduction, a task to be completed, a process section – including internet resources and directions for how to organize information, an evaluation component (possibly a rubric), and a conclusion stating what the student should have completed by the end of the task.

The beauty of the a WebQuest is that students are the focus of what is going on, and that it provides for technology integration without losing class time to inefficient Internet searching. Teachers can even link to their own web pages. Role-playing can be included as extra motivation and they are useful group activities, because the teacher can establish as part of the challenge specific roles to be filled (balancing out the work load). They can be long-term assignments or short-term ones, be for one subject or multidisciplinary, and there is no limit on the creativity that can be used to develop a WebQuest!

I found the concept of a WebQuest fantastic! I will definitely use them in my (imagine all of the frogs we can save), and/or have them investigate different chemicals – say a set of everyday chemicals (food additives; cleaning agents; plastics). The set of thinking skills that this type of activity develops are integral to observing and understanding the world around us.
classroom, because they offer a great way to teach the scientific method to students! I will have them be ‘scientists’, and investigate suspicious substances, possibly do an online dissection

While searching, I found the following WebQuest for high school Chemistry: (http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/chemfifi/Chem%2011%20WebQuest%20Stuff%20for%20the%20Web/index.htm)

Any tool that I can use to help my students learn about ‘how to learn about Chemistry’ is useful because I believe that one of the biggest roadblocks for students in Science is not being able to understand how to learn this type of information.

When I first read over the assignment, I brainstormed my own ideas of why the Web can be a dangerous place and about the need for internet safety. My list was pretty simple. Predators, pornography, misinformation. After going through the WEBQUEST: Risky Business, my list expanded exponentially! There are not only the big issues, such as predators, pornography, misinformation, privacy risks, Spam, violence, hate sites, online gambling, and cyber bullying, but each of these issues are complex and have many sub-issues/dangers.

The concept of ensuring Internet safety in the classroom needs to be approached by having a teacher (and all school staff) educated about the myriad of ways in which these dangers can surface. Many of the major issues can be dealt with by having proper monitoring of online use and by teaching students how to be critical of the websites they are visiting. Others involve training (starting at an early age) students to taper what they share over the Internet, limiting the amount of information they give out that can be used to trap them into inappropriate and negative situations. Further, it is important to discuss these safety issues with your students because some of the things they may get involved in are actually criminal by law. Examples of such activities include plagiarism, copyrighting, and cyber bullying. Ensuring students know the rules of Internet safety can be done by having the students engage in online activities that test their Internet ‘savvy’. Continual monitoring of usage is also important.

20 October 2005

spreadsheets in the classroom

Spreadsheets in the classroom; fun and management!
After reading through the links, I am actually pretty excited about getting the idea from always helpful Rosemary and Harry Wong
[1] to use a student-run spreadsheet for keeping track of missed assignments!
What a great idea!
Provided you have a computer in your classroom (or at least one that is easily accessible), you can use this idea. It is simple, and would effectively reduce the amount of class time wasted when a student comes back after an absence.
The procedure could be as follows. Have a spreadsheet set up that has a worksheet for each month of the year. Have the days numbered down the left hand side rows, and the different subject areas across the top in columns. Just before lunch, and at the end of each day, have a student assigned (rotate them) to enter in the assignments done that class as well as the homework due for the next class. If an assignment was given out with a due date further in the future, simply have the due date put in parentheses behind the assignment.
When a student returns from an absence, they can open up the spreadsheet and find out what they have missed. If the missed work involves extra resources (handouts, books) then the student can write them down and ask the teacher for those resources at the end of the day. Having this sort of system will foster student responsibility for missed work, as well as get the students comfortable working with a spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets can also be used within curricular activities in the classroom. Science is my major, and I would like to describe one of the many, many ways spreadsheet software is valuable for organizing and managing data.
The activity I came up with combines Science and Health, and would be used when introducing the concept of calorimetry (Biology 20, Unit 4, Concept 1: The human organism’s digestive and respiratory systems exchange energy and matter with the environment).

Students will spend one class using an online tutorial to learn how to use Microsoft Excel when managing data sets. The tutorial can be found at:
Starting with dinner that evening, the students will keep a food diary of what they eat and how much of it they eat for the next 24 hours. When they return with their completed food diaries, we will have another lab period where the students will create a spreadsheet and enter what they have eaten by the appropriate major food group (or lack thereof!). Using a calorie counting website, we will then calculate the number of calories that the students are consuming by the food group. There will be a column for the Daily Recommended Value as a comparison. Students can then choose to visually represent their food intake information in any of the charting forms available on the program.
[1] Wong, H. and R. Wong. 2002. Effective Teaching... Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers. Teachers.Net Gazette. Retrieved 20 October 2005 from: http://teachers.net/gazette/OCT02/wong.html

09 October 2005

Concept maps
What are they?
Classroom integration

Concept maps are visual organizers of ideas, thought patterns, notes, and/or relationships. The process of concept mapping is used to either generate the brainstorming process, or to track it through a visual representation.
One of the biggest advantages of using concept mapping – or mind mapping or web mapping – is that the end result is, indeed, a map. Maps by definition provide direction and information as to the relative location of important landmarks. Other benefits include the intrinsic organization that occurs within the map itself as well as the concise descriptors used to identify pertinent details. Whether it is a flow chart or a web of interconnected elements, the concept map forces organization through the process of information distillation and through the connections used to record the information.
Another nice part of concept mapping is that you can add in actual pictures to represent items, so the visual organizer is not just in layout flow, but also using imagery. Further, colour-coding is another layer of organization that can be added to enhance the relationships being displayed, such as having all parallel elements coloured blue with all sub-sections coloured yellow.
In order to discuss the disadvantages of concept mapping, it seems important to comment on the difference between just mapping out ideas etc. and mapping them out using a computer. In the former, the disadvantages would mainly lie in whether or not the person using the process was a visual learner. If they were not, it may be better to list such ideas out, rather than scatter them and connect via links. In the latter, however, the most striking disadvantage would be the role that ability in using the technology would play. If the same map could be produced just as fast or faster by pen and paper, then there would be no real benefit to doing it with a computer. To avoid such a situation, proper training in using the software should be provided so that the end result is desirable for both the creator and the user of the map.
Integration of the technology into the classroom for use by the students at all ages would require ample training and practice using the selected software. That being said, there are a few different ways that technology could be incorporated into the class. First, as a teacher, concept mapping could be used to organize lesson plans and the detailed subject matter to be covered. The teacher could use computer mapping software to illustrated key ideas or processes to be used in his or her notes, or the teacher could have their computer screen projected so that the students could watch the way the teacher connects ideas in a class discussion while it is occurring.
Second, students at each age level could be asked to use concept maps in their own work. For example, Division 1 students could use Kidspiration to create picture stories or to help the students learn how to count through repeated adding of images. (ICT CONNECTION C.6.1.2. use technology to organize and display data in a problem-solving contex ). Junior High students could be asked in Language Arts to use Inspiration software to make a mini thesaurus on a few select vocabulary words or to show the relationship of characters in a novel being read. Another alternative could be to challenge the students to download Inspiration software and then to use it to describe how it is that they were able to access the technology (ICT CONNECTION F.6.3.5. describe the steps involved in loading software).
Senior High Science students could use the same software to classify organisms in studying evolutionary relationships. Or perhaps they could use the program to diagram different body systems and their relationships as well as the feedback mechanisms present within each system (ICT CONNECTION C.6.4.2. investigate and solve problems of organization and manipulation of information).
Other Senior High Science integration ideas include using concept mapping to teach students how to effectively organize their notes and how to retrieve key points from the texts that they are reading. Another idea is to use it when designing an experiment. For example, asking a series of ordered questions that can eliminate potential answers when trying to identify unknown substances (e.g. yes and no diagrams … such as, if yes, go to a, if no, go to b…).
In Career and Life Management class, students could use concept mapping to compare different potential career paths, visualizing the different lifestyle choices could make what they are doing more real to them. In the end, it is imperative that no matter the purpose, concept mapping will be most advantageous when the tools being used are familiar and easy to work with. And it is important to remember that the visual organizers will help some learners more than others, but the process itself should be beneficial to all.

04 October 2005


References Cited:

A Lens-Eye View of the Boreal Forest. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2005 from http://www3.gov.ab.ca/srd/forests/

Biodiversity: All things big and small. (n.d.). Retrieved 02 October 2005 from http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/cfs-scf/NFW/NFW2002/biodiversity_e.html

Evergreen Regions.(n.d.). Retrieved 02 October 2005 from http://www.panda.org/news_facts/education/middle_school/habitats/coniferous_forests.cfm

Grade: 6

General Learner Expectations:

Students will:
6–10: Describe characteristics of trees and the interaction of trees with other living things in the local environment.

Specific Learner Expectations:

Students will:

6-10.2. Describe kinds of plants and animals found living on, under and among trees; and identify how trees affect and are affected by those living things.

6-10. 4. Identify general characteristics that distinguish trees from other plants, and characteristics that distinguish deciduous from coniferous trees.

ICT Learner Outcomes:

Students will:

P.5.2.2. navigate through a document that contains links to locate, copy and then paste data in a new file.

C.1.2.1 access and retrieve appropriate information from the Internet by using a specific search path or from given uniform resource locations (URLs).

Brief Description of Activity:

Students will be asked to collect leaves from three different trees in their neighbourhood and bring them to school. The students will then be given the assignment to use a variety of research tools, including the above websites, to find out the names of the trees represented by their leaves. After identifying their trees, the students will compose a short story that is word processed about the environment in which the tree lives. This story can include images taken from the websites above and should identify at least one other plant or animal that depends on the tree as a part of its life cycle. For a sponge/challenge activity, they will be asked to provide the scientific name of their trees.

Integration Connection:

The students will be using the Internet as a tool to conduct research within science. This is a good integration technique because it will familiarize the students with the usefulness of computer technology within science. The story assignment provides an opportunity for students to illustrate using technology which emphasizes another possible use for computers.