Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creating Your Group PBL Learning Lesson

    This PBL learning lesson is the last of the semester for the Middle JAAR and we are still in the middle of putting it all together. We were lucky not to go first and let other groups test the waters and see how theirs went. I feel we now have a grounded idea of what is necessary to pull this project off. At first the group was coming up short with ideas and we were hitting dead ends left and right. Then we got on the topic of veterans and one of our members brought up the topic that many veterans are homeless. This hit home for our group and we took off in search for finding what we can teach our class about homeless veterans and how they can get involved with helping out with this issue. For this project we are currently putting together a Prezi, a Jing video to introduce our technology, and RWLD for this project. These two links will take you to websites that allow you to also create different projects that aid in learning. In the future I plan on using many of the technologies I have been working with this past semester, many of which I am using for this last project alone. That would include the three listed above as well as PicMonkey, Google Docs, Microsoft Word and Blogger. This project is all about keeping the product open ended, allowing students to expand their thoughts while thinking outside the box. I want to be able to keep this idea with me for the future in order to help my students become creative and inventive thinkers. This project, helping homeless veterans is open ended in the sense that we are allowing for brainstorming of idea, then my group with introduce our idea of how to help. Our idea is to create posters (like the one shown in the upper right corner) to allow communities and homeless veterans become aware of the great programs there are out there to help homeless veterans. This idea however will still be open ended, just taken down a notch to be more directed due to time constraints. The creativity of the project will still solely be the responsibility of the student as well as the subtopic area. My group is picking the topic area and explaining the technology the students will be using, this will help get the ball rolling. This is another factor all teachers must take into consideration, time. Yes you want students to have the freedom of the outcomes in their learning, but it also needs to match with the amount of time there will be. With all these aspects of this PBL my groups learning lesson will be open ended as well as help students get going with the s little guidance to head in the right direction. If you want to take a look at this awesome project to get ideas from or actually use for a project click this link!

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Student Technology Fair (Extra Credit)


    The ITEC Eastern Regional Student Technology Fair was this April 19th at the University of Northern Iowa. I had the chance to speak with three students involved about their projects. This fair had over 50 projects from eleven different school districts where each project was part of the instructional curriculum. I was very impressed with the projects I heard about form the students. Two students used Blender, software that allows the creation of 3D models that has the ability to create games. A junior in high school created 3D atoms, showing the linear, two dimensional and three dimensional attributes of the atom. His original idea was to create a tornado, however had issues with the dynamics of the project. He also showed us a picture he created where he added virtual characters to an original photo of himself playing cards with them. The second student who used Blender was a freshman who created building structures with blocks, creating a mini game knocking the structure down with balls. It was almost a homemade version of angry birds. A video of this is shown above. A group of 4th graders had a project dealing with robotics where the robot vehicle followed a white line with a laser light. When the line ended and started somewhere else the laser would search for it until it found it again. This video is shown below.


    This technology fair impacts learning through giving students the open ended questions that allow for free thought and investigation. Each student was allowed to choose their own project and build knowledge through project based learning. I believe these projects where goal directed, mix with infusion because they were engaging and ongoing activities that could not be attained without support of technology. This fair showed how students were empowered to extend the use of technology while having a greater ownership and responsibility of their learning. Through this the students were able to learn at their own pace while having more control of where they wanted their learning to go based on their specific interests. I feel this is important for any classroom because students will learn more and become more involved in activities that they are interested in and where they feel they have more control of their own leaning.

    As a future teacher I will be able to use this idea of PBL by being more aware of the benefits it has for students as well as keeping their interests in mind to help  motivate them to learn. Also allowing them to slowly take ownership of their own learning through projects like the ones shown at the fair. It was easy to see that the students where very interested in what they had accomplished and where able to answer questions about what they have been working on. There is a sense of pride when a student accomplishes something that they worked hard on where they were interested in it and was able to assume full ownership. This is one accomplishment I want to acquire as a teacher, having my students proud of their hard work while learning in an engaging environment.

    Saturday, April 21, 2012

    Play is For Everyone

    Every child should be allowed to play, but what if they are unable to play the same way as others? Many children with disabilities are unable to play and do the same things other children can, and one thing that stops them dead in their tracks is the playground. Playgrounds have lots of fun things for children to do and play on, but much of the equipment is not accessible for children with disabilities. My class spend a day discussing this and through Google SketchUp we created our own accessible playgrounds where all children have the opportunities to join in the fun. Google SketchUp is an easy way to create 3D models of just about anything. The playground I created has a pirate ship with a ramp leading to the upper deck where children don't have to deal with stairs. There is also a house with a wider built door for easy access as well as a circle room to make it easy for wheel chairs to turn around and get back out. Between the two structures is a flat surface for games such as hop scotch, four square and basketball. I also added a few "fake" objects to make the playground seem more real such as rocks, a dolphin and a garden. The whole surface area would be made of rubber palates as well as the objects so there would not be any hard or sharp areas to fall on. if you have an idea and want to make it come to life try Google SketchUp for free, and one day you can make a difference with your ideas.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Gloging for the Good

    Ever hear of Glogster? Until today neither have I, and let me tell you, I loved it! It's where you can create amazing posters online for anything. When I got myself signed up I didn't only go through Glogster, I used the Glogersteredu. My class created posters that can help make a difference in someone’s life through our words. The idea is to make a difference in someone’s life by giving your words to them, to helping them in whatever situation they are dealing with. I have a younger sister in high school, so I decided to aim my poster towards her. She is an outgoing, athletic, sweet, caring, silly, funny, inspiring girl. Sometimes though, life can be a little tough to handle, and me up at college makes it hard  to be there for her all the time. So I figured a poster on brightening her day is just what any of her bad days could use. My poster has all sorts of bright colors matched with uplifting quotes to help someone who is having a bad day. It may seem like a lot all over the page, but that is the point. It is so crazy, colorful and fun, I really think it can help someone turn their day around. This poster I made is not just for my sister who I love, it is also for anyone out their having a bad day and just needs some inspiration to keep moving forward. It is not hard to help someone out, all you need is a few kind words.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Lincoln Elementary School Visit

    Visiting Lincoln Elementary reminded me of all the reasons I wanted to be a teacher. Not only because of the technology use that can be used in classrooms with students, but the way teachers ran and dealt with their class. These teachers are dedicated to helping their students learn how to be independent learners by showing students how to take control of their classroom, work time and learning. This school was so refreshing and got me that much more excited to start teaching. The technology using throughout this school was amazing! It made me start to think of all the possibilities that are out there when integrating technology into a classroom. The tools in technology they shared with us ranged from Delicious and Diigo to Blabberize and Todaysmeet. Lincoln Elementary uses an interactive teaching technology called Mimio, this software works like a smart board only its distinct features make it very accessible and easy to use, tending to the schools specific needs. Students here start a Google accounts in the 3rd grade, while starting mini student lead activities throughout the day that even involve students using Mimio in 1st grade. I was also introduced to students using iPods and iPads in class where they would play educational games. The students were so engaged with all of this use of technology that the schools atmosphere seemed almost dream like. Not to mention how involved the teachers, as well as parents seem to be when it comes to this school community. I only was at Lincoln for about an hour, but I was able to get a peek at some of the things one can do when teaching, using technology while helping students become independent learners.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Creating Collaborative Project

    Earlier this semester the Middle JAAR and I had worked on a collaborative project. The main goal of this project was not the end product alone, but the way we worked together, collaborating with each other to get our end result. The only difference with this project compared to other ones was the way we were allowed to collaborate with each other. We were not allowed to talk face to face, and communicate only through technology. That's right, we were in the same classroom twice a week together and lived on the same campus, but was only allowed to contact each other through Skype, Facebook, texting, Google Docs, etc. At first it felt it was difficult to do this, trying to find times everyone could meet through our computers and then trying to understand what everyone wanted to do for the project. This was our teacher’s way of simulating what it would be like to collaborate with others overseas and around the world, where you cannot meet face to face and have while working on projects through technologies. Even though the beginning was difficult, as the project progressed we adapted to the circumstances and effectively worked as a team. Once we were on a role it was very easy to get the project done, everyone working on their own time, at their own pace. We all contributed to a Google Doc where we added all our project links. Not that I perfect non-verbal projects, however, this was a learning experience and showed that they are probable. This is something I feel every student should get a chance to experience, whether it’s with a classmate in their class or one from around the world. Everyone can benefit from learning how to collaboratively work together on a project not using verbal communication.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Global Learning Experience

    For a week I did not have my Ed. Tech class due to my teacher being gone in Jordan, participating in global learning. He was able to meet with all kinds of people that are involved in the world of education. My class was able to Skype with him and a couple people he was working with. We heard from them and what they were doing, as well as having some of my classmates share a little about the PBL projects we were working on here at UNI. It was interesting to hear about things they were doing, and to feel a part of what was going on there. My teacher was in the middle of global learning, conferencing with different people, learning and sharing. This to me was very interesting, but what I had not realized until now is that my teacher being in Jordan was not the main person involved in global learning. It was my class and I, coming together and meeting with educators through Skype who were in Jordan, across the globe. Both sides learning from each other, thus we are involved in global learning. Now to some this might not seem right, thinking that global learning needs to be big! I mean it is called global learning, but even the little things are included in this global topic. It is where people from anywhere in the globe can communicate with each other in order to learn something new, whether it be working together on a huge project for months or Skyping for 20 minutes and getting a taste of what the others are doing. These are both types of global learning, it can be as simple or complex as someone wants to make it. My only question now is how much global learning have you been up to and how much more are you going to do now?