Teaching Functional Formats and Blogging in One Lesson

As I finished writing my last post, I noticed that the way in which I was formatting my post was reminiscent of a newspaper article.  I thought again, why exactly was I automatically formatting my blog post to resemble a newspaper print article?  It’s because of being taught functional reading formats in, what I would guess was around 3rd Grade, stuck with me.  I must have had a really great elementary school teachers.

So what does that have anything to do about teaching Functional Formats and Blogging all together?

What it has to do with is if you are teaching students about Functional Reading Formats, as the Standards of Learning dictate they learn, already, why not make it engaging to the students to allow them all to be on computers (which every student I’ve ever worked with yearns to do).  If you as a teacher is comfortable with basic blog set-up and editing of an online blog then you can use it to teach about what they really need to know which is the Functional Format standard.

In the end, the idea is, teach students to learn concepts and skills using the concepts and skills as tools, rather than as independently learned skills.

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Reinventing Education Through Video

After watching Salman Khan’s video on Ted.com:

I really got a new perspective on learning and the importance of the “interactive” role of a teacher.

Is this really the most productive role of a teacher in a class?

Is this the most productive time for a teacher?

I would imagine most people would say something like the images below are more appropriate uses of a teacher’s time.

One of the points that Salman Khan makes in the video I agree with wholeheartedly.  The most important part of a teacher’s time is working with a student personally and finding more individualized ways to teach each child.  Instead, in the classic model, a teacher lectures in front of a classroom for a period of time.  In the end a lecture type approach may be the only means by which a teacher can communicate the information to their students.  Though in the flipped classroom model students arrive ready to fill the holes they have left by the questions about that particular lesson or subject matter.  Practice makes perfect but imperfect practice creates bad habits.  The idea of creating videos that explain and demonstrate a concept is so valuable because a student can not only self-pace themselves but also have them to refer to at any time they need a refresher.

Having these video’s also makes parent home involvement that much easier.  When the parent can see exactly how the teacher is teaching a concept it is far easier to assist a child.  Instead, presently a child goes home to tell a parent what they are studying but can’t grasp the concept well enough to explain it to them in the first place.

The value in real useful data on each student’s activities when they return home to practice is extremely beneficial to the teacher.  The strategy of separating students into groups based on their understanding of a concept is used quite often, but to be able to break that down even further by what questions they have the most trouble with and so on make individualized teaching far more effective.

When we optimize the process of initially teaching a concept, and ultimately assessing the understanding of those concepts, we are then left with far more time in the middle of that process which should be dedicated to individualized learning for each student with the teacher.

PiktoChart

I found out about PiktoChart from a tweet a got from @Edudemic.  They tweet a lot, but there are definitely some good finds if you pay attention.

Piktochart example comparison chart

Click to see Piktochart.com

Piktochart is a great way to visualize pretty much anything.  For a visual learner like me it’s an amazing tool.  The ability to drag and drop with this site makes it super easy to create awesome visuals.  There are many themes and ready-made tools to help anyone make a graphic like the one above.

I think believe this will be a very useful tool for me in visualizing a number of things in my classroom, not to mention it gives me a great idea for a lesson plan/class assignment or project.

New Kind of Visual

When working on my about me page I liked the idea of visually conveying the most important or interesting things about me.

I used Wordle.net to create a word cloud to make a far more interesting about me page then just listing a bunch of facts.

Image

For me the words are not the primary focus, and how they look, the way they are positioned, and generally the colors and shapes my words make add to who I am as much as the words do.

My review:

I really like this wordle site, and though I’ve only played with it a little bit, I can see this as a great icebreaker type tool for each student to make during class to help introduce themselves.  Also, wordle can be used as a project enhancer itself, using it for posters or projects that the students have to put together for assignments.  It seems there can be many applications for this site to be used in a classroom setting, and it help merge content with creativity.  Mixing content and creativity seems to always be a difficult thing to do on a regular basis in classrooms, thus making the content lack-luster and boring.  I definitely think I’ll be making use of this site in the future.

Quest 2 Learn

Quest 2 Learn

My reaction to this particular learning program is of excitement and wonder.  These children are using computers and technology to create games that could possibly revolutionize the teaching industry.  I heard someone in the video say if we teach our children today the way we did yesterday, we robe them of tomorrow.  I think that is very true particularly in this 21st Century world we live in now.

I think that the use of games doesn’t have to be limited to computers.  I have a strong believe that using sports or sport like games can also be a valuable tool for children to learn.  I hope that creative computer gaming can do as one speaker in the video mentioned that games be the means to instruct and test children all at once.

I have experience with playing games particularly video and computer games as I’ve grown up.  What didn’t come to my attention until I saw this video was that all games instruct or teach the gamer how to play and in finishing or “winning” the game the player knows the skills the game has taught you.  Unfortunately, when I think about educational games, they are all very remedial and meant for very small children.  I recall when I was learning to type on the computer I played a game that helped me learn it.  It wasn’t exactly exciting or provocative that I wanted to play it, although it was a game it didn’t really take my attention away from wanting to play real video games or on the computer.

Seeing the innovative things Quest 2 Learn is doing it might be possible for kids to create games that kids would be interested in enough to play to completion and actually learn something useful.

Kindergarten Introduction to History & Social Science

Kindergarten Introduction to History & Social Science

My Learning Standard Focus

My standard of learning focus for this semester is Kindergarten History & Social Science as it specifically pertains to students learning about maps and globes and how it applies to them in real-life situations.  I’d like to find a way to integrate daily activities throughout a school year that would help assist the children in understanding maps, globes, and how they help in everyday life.