I am excited to be enrolled in the course ETAP 526, Educational Computing, since technology advanced so quickly over the years. I have learned a lot about how various forms of computer technology could be incorporated into the science curriculum.
Computers could be used as tools for students to compile data and to make presentations using such programs as MS Word and MS Powerpoint. In addition, Inspiration is an excellent program that could be used to make flowcharts and concept maps. This could help students to organize their ideas. Computers could also be used to tutor students who may be having difficulty with certain aspects of the class. The computer tutorials are especially helpful because students are able to work at their own pace. Computers could also be used by students to take practice tests with feedback if a wrong answer is selected. In science classes, several virtual labs are included on the internet, such as the Mechanics-Potential Energy-Virtual Laboratory website that I reviewed for this course.
The authors of “Computers as Mindtools for Engaging Learners in Critical Thinking” pointed out that students learn more by constructing knowledge than just by reading something. For example, students would learn more by creating a PowerPoint presentation or from online chat and videoconferencing sessions than from reading a textbook. The new technology allows students to develop materials about the topics covered in class, not just to read and recite the information. This leads to a deeper understanding of the material that would not be possible without this technology. Learners use critical thinking skills when using these programs to answer problems, and usually also enjoy using the technology at the same time. Therefore, these tools do allow for a greater level of learning than would be possible without them. I found this class discussion interesting as different schools were using various levels of technology, which I found interesting to learn about.
The discussion on the electronic literacy standards helped me to see the viewpoints of other teachers, and to understand how they are able to utilize technology at the schools where they work. However, to me the electronic literacy standards seem to be more of a wish list for some of today’s schools that lack the necessary budget and equipment, but will likely become the norm within the next twenty years. For example, I do know of any elementary school students who use email. First of all, I doubt that their parents would want them to have an email account because of all the child predators, etc., out there. Secondly, children that age generally see the computer as a tool to use for computer games.
I learned how to use blogs and learned how to use Yahoo Messenger to IM my SUNY Albany professors and other students. I started my blog called “Jackie G's Blog” on February 8th. also started a blog for my seventh grade science classes and started a blog for another class that I am taking, where I will have to research blogs and wikis. recently added both audio and video components to my blog. I added two audio clips, one welcoming visitors to my blog, and another to introduce the video clip of Bushkill Falls, which was the video component that I attached. However, I had some trouble capturing the audio. The program "Audacity" did not work properly on my MAC, and I also downloaded a second version of it because the first version didn't work well. I had to use a PC to record my voice using the sound recorder under "Accessories." I told it to save it in the MPEG Layer 3 format, but did not see any difference.
I also started a photo blog with some pictures of myself in the science supply room and by my bulletin board.
I also learned about the usefulness of the MERLOT website. 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.
I hope to use technology to help my students better understand the material that we are covering in class. I encourage them to view the hyperlinks to related materials that I post on the science class website. In the future, I plan to have my students work on virtual labs and science related WebQuests in class, which should provide additional scaffolding and encourage critical thinking about science.
As a teacher, I set up a website with homework reminder sheets on it in December. After learning about blogs in this course, I added a blog to the website where I can post entries and students could post comments. Although technology use is quite limited at the school where I currently work, I have put some extra credit assignments online, and I will offer the science related WebQuest about Alternative Energy as an extra credit assignment.
The first artifact in my portfolio is the lesson plan Using Inspiration to Organize Your Narrative Procedure and the corresponding student worksheet. I found that the narrative procedure could be confusing to some students, and using the program Inspiration would help the students to understand how the steps in the narrative procedure are organized. They can graphically arrange their ideas, which would lead to a better organized essay. This encourages students to become more familiar with the software as well as learn to work cooperatively using the computer.
The second artifact in my portfolio is a lesson plan that utilizes the website called “DNA From the Beginning, Some genes are dominant.” Students learn about Mendel’s work on genetics based on information gathered from this website. The student worksheet is also included. The students learn to identify the correct ways to determine if a cross would result in dominant offspring, recessive offspring, or a mixture of both, and synthesize information learned from this website and apply the information to Punnett square related questions. In addition, students use media literacy standards that include analyzing and explaining audio presentations, analyzing and explaining films and videos, synthesizing information from nonprint media, demonstrating an understanding of the concepts underlying hardware, software and connectivity tools, taking notes and gather data from nonprint sources, and working cooperatively using technology.
I am in the process of developing a WebQuest called How Can We Become Less Dependent on Non-Renewable Energy Sources? Currently, my seventh grade general science classes are working on a unit about energy. We will be discussing energy conservation in about one week, and the concept of alternative fuel use is an important one that I will be discussing with my students. Since technology use where I work is limited, the WebQuest will be available online as an extra credit assignment.
Overall, I learned quite a lot about how to use computer technology to benefit the students that I teach, and look forward to incorporating more technology into my lessons in the future.