Reflections on the Tutor Module
I learned a lot from the Tutor module. I especially was happy to find so many good tutorials available on MERLOT and was happily surprised that HotPotatoes6 was so easy to use. For the Tutor module, I reviewed four tutor-style computer programs. The “Master It! Tutorial #3: Digital Photograph to Painting Tutorial” that I found through MERLOT worked well. It allows the user to transform a digital photograph into a work of art and would be good for a high school art or computer skills class. The simulation “Protein Explorer” was also found on MERLOT. This program would be useful for a high school AP Biology class or a college Biology or Biochemistry class. It allows for easy manipulation and viewing of PDB protein structure files. Overall, I liked Protein Explorer because it allows the user to view details about specific proteins that may be studied in class, and allows the user to rotate the molecule as needed. However, the initial set-up of the program was a pain in the neck. Although it was supposed to work on both the MAC and PC platforms, I was only able to get this to work on a PC. Disney’s Toontown online is a multi player web-based interactive game with an exploratory environment in a 3D world environment. The players are Toons who join forces to save the world from invading robot Cogs. Usually three characters work together to defeat a Cog. Overall, I liked the Toontown interactive environment. I think this program makes working together more fun, and working with other characters is needed to defeat the Cogs. It also teaches players how to save and budget money, or tickets as in this case, to buy things. The “Math Grade 3” drill and practice software is on a CD-ROM that is both PC and MAC compatible. The CD must be purchased and placed into the computer to use this software. I liked the little reward screens after each page of work. I think this motivates children to move on, to see what the next reward screen will be like. Some reward screens are games, and some are animations. However, I didn’t like the way incorrect responses were handled. I think the program should allow users to correct their incorrect responses, but it doesn’t. I used the “JQuiz” section of the JavaHotPotatoes6 software to create a quiz based on forces and Newton’s laws of motion. This is a six-question quiz. I found the software relatively easy to use, and I may consider making a practice quiz for my students next time and place it on the internet, so they could practice at home. For the tutor lesson plan, I used the website: “DNA From The Beginning – Some genes are dominant” that I found on MERLOT. I think this is a great activity for seventh graders who are first learning about genetics. Last year when I was student teaching seventh grade general science at Great Neck North Middle School, students were learning about Mendel’s theories and how to use the Punnett square. I think a website like this would help students better understand why we use a Punnett square for genetic crosses. Also, the website is run and maintained by Dolan DNA Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Last year, we went on a class trip to the Dolan DNA Center. If students complete the web-based activities before the class trip, I think they would be able to learn with more depth while on the trip. During our discussion of stand-alone software in the classroom (#7), my first response was about MS Word, but later realized that in this module we will only discuss tutor software. I haven't seen any actual stand-alone software in use during my student teaching or during my current teaching position. Stand-alone software sounds like a great way to teach children about a particular topic because each child can work at his or her own pace. During discussion #8, I mentioned that computers do have the advantage that they appeal to visual and auditory learners, not just learners who do well with text based assignments. They also let you click on things to get more information, which can't be done with other forms of media. This then led to a discussion of how interactive games could help reach children with autism, who may not respond so well to people. For idea #9, we discussed the usefulness of the MERLOT website. I mentioned that although I haven't had the opportunity to use computer based teaching software with any of my classes yet. However, from the article "Computer-Based Teachnology and Learning: Evolving Uses and Expectations by Valdez et al, computer based instruction sounds like it would benefit a wide variety of students. Before taking this course, I did not know about the MERLOT website. I found it to be very useful. There are tutorials that you can use to learn more about specific software programs, tutorials that can be used with students, and many other resources. It seems that most of my classmates also haven’t had the opportunity to use computer based teaching software at their schools either. I hope to have the opportunity to use it in the near future.
Posted by jsgutierrezny
at 7:17 PM EDT