Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tech in My Placement

When looking into the technology that is present at my placement I found a good amount of things that were available. There are three things though that are used the most in my experience thus far in my placement though. These are computers, laptops, and LCD projectors.

Every teacher at my school is given a Mac Book. It is not their's to keep, but they get to use it for pretty much whatever they want and can take it home at the end of the day. It is unlike when I was in high school. Back then, all the teachers in my school had a desktop computer in their classroom that was essentially theirs. I think the situation at my placement school is much better. With the Mac Books everything is streamlined for the teachers. Instead of having to do school work on a desktop which can't leave the school, teachers can do everything in one place. There are also old desktop Apple computers in some classes, but I have never seen one turned on.

Students have access to laptops as well. These are also Mac Books, but they can not leave the school with a student. They are brought into class when the teacher checks them out and then students can use them how the teacher wants them to. For Example, earlier this week my mentor teacher checked out a laptop cart so that students could write the bibliographies for research projects they have recently completed. In addition to the laptop carts there are also traditional computer labs at my placement. My mentor teacher and I have already taken our classes to the computer lab multiple times, and when we take them it is usually for research purposes. The students really seem to enjoy using both laptops and the computer lab too.

The third major piece of technology that is present at my placement is LCD projectors. I feel that without these the teaching process at my placement might be much more time consuming. I say this because the projectors are used for a majority of lessons in my classes. They allow for easy presentation of content and even provide an easy avenue for bell work because a picture or quote can go straight on the board. Without the projectors the teachers would have to do everything by hand on the board. This would be very hard for me because I am still learning how to write on a white board well. I am actively trying to get better especially because I am left handed. Projectors take a majority of this writing out of the equation though. Overall, technology present in my placement is a big help for day to day activity, and I am grateful for it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tech Tools in Use

In addition to some great presenters, in 504 we have been learning about some interesting tech tools that can be used in the classroom. Of the tools we learned about may be the most interesting to me. Padlet is a virtual board on the internet that you can post a variety of things to, and if you don't know about it it is worth checking out. A couple of weeks after I learned about Padlet I realized that my mentor teacher was planning on using Padlet in a history class herself too.

As a history teacher, I think Padlet could come in handy in a couple ways. One way is how my mentor teacher uses it. In a current history class, my mentor is having students gather a few articles from each month of 2014 to eventually be used to write a "year in" paper on the topic of their choosing. Padlet is utilized as the space where students will put all of the articles they find. Student Padlets can then be shared with my mentor teacher so she can observe their articles. So Padlet can be a unique way to gather sources. Another way a history teacher could use Padlet is to generate discussion. For example, a teacher could put up a news story for students to read and then the students could be made to comment on the story by posting text to the Padlet. The same could be done to analyze a historical picture, whether it be a painting or picture of a political rally. In general, a Padlet could also be used as a class website for a teacher. You could put maps, articles, formula charts, or poetry. Can you think of any other ways Padlet could be used as a teacher?

Another aspect of Padlet that I really like is the possible customization of it. You can put just about anything on it. You can change your background as well. It reminds me of all the time I spent in high school customizing my Myspace layout. Padlet, like a Myspace layout, can be a source of creativity for both the student and teacher. You can create something that you can be proud of aesthetically and academically. This could be a great source of engagement and motivation for a student.

Because a fresh Padlet is so bare-bones it may take some thinking at first, but Padlet has many possibilities. I think this is the strongest thing Padlet has going for it. It is really up to the owner of a Padlet to make it flourish.

504 Guest Presenter: David Theune

This semester we have had some awesome presenters in 504, we had Tom Ward and his use of video in the class room and Liz Kolb with an overview of BYOD/BYOT. However, I am going to blog about David Theune. David was the first presenter of the semester, but he interested me the most with his ideal of using audience in the classroom.

Use of audience in the classroom for David stemmed off the idea of rubrics. If anyone has been in school long enough they will understand what a rubric is. It can be the bane of an assignment or the lifeline that you hold onto to assure yourself you will get a good grade. I have experienced both emotions in the presence of a rubriced assignment. They would cause me stress when I felt they called for too much, but when I was too lost when trying to finish an assignment the rubric served as my blueprint. The idea of a rubric as a blueprint seemed to be where David decided that an audience should be in a classroom. He mentioned that whenever he gave a rubric that called for, say three similes in an essay, he would without fail get three similes, but never more. This is where the audience comes in. Instead of a rubric, David suggested implementing an audience. Instead of working towards the bottom line, students would then work to make sure that they looked good in front of an audience when presenting an assignment. Previously, this was not something I even thought about.

Sure, you could say that there is in a sense always an audience for an assignment. However, I think that with a rigid rubric most students wouldn't think about the audience, their classmates, for a presentation. They would instead be thinking about whether or not the teacher would notice that they hit every part of the rubric. In contrast though, by stressing the audience, be it classmates, parents, or the community at large, the student will then work towards making sure that they deliver quality work in front of the audience. Nobody wants to look bad in front of people. In the future I will definitely be willing to try such a thing in my classes.

My only reserve to such an idea would be students that would willingly not try hard to complete work in relation to content. What I mean by this is, what about the class clown that only wants to get up there to make his classmates laugh? Will he or she truly work towards content or will they just focus on the laughs?  Thinking to myself though, this is a situation in which implementing another audience besides classmates would come in handy. Would that same student be willing to crack wise if they had to do it in front of their parents? In the end an emphasis on the audience the assignment will meet is a quite engaging idea. One that perhaps could add a lot more motivation in a student to perform as well as they can.