I am starting this page with an emphasis on students using tools. The first tool I would like discuss is bubbl.us, a free brainstorming and mind mapping utility. There are numerous studies out there (Behar, 1999; Beel, Gipp & Stiller, 2009; Peterson & Snyder, 1998) that give mind mapping and brainstorming high marks for providing students with a successful way to learn new material. Mind mapping works and there are positive results from elementary school through college and from nursing to engineering. Take a day or two, sign up for the lab or a cart and get your students' minds working and learning the material you want to teach them. Remember, the person doing the work is doing the learning.
Prezi is a tool that students can use to develop presentations for the class. Prezi has been shown to be successful in assisting students to learn new concepts (Bender & Bull, 2012). In addition. Prezi can be used as an assessment tool (Briggs, 2012) if it is used in conjunction with a rubric.
I like Prezi, but just like any other tool- one size does not fit all. Vuvox
is a site that allows students to put together presentations that contain multimedia. Vuvox does not require as much of a learning curve as Prezi, so it can be used to differentiate instruction by allowing students another way of making their presentation. While exploring Vuvox, I noticed a presentation on Woodstock
. It was in French. That got me thinking that students could use this to create a presentation on something familiar, but using a language that they were learning to describe their topic.Khan Academy is quietly changing the way we teach math. Students and schools that have used Khan Academy’s exercises and videos have shown an improvement in math scores (Kronholz, 2012). Khan Academy just added another 2500 exercises aligned to Common Core standards, which can easily be paired with Virginia SOLs.
BrainGenie is a site that allows students to watch videos and practice math concepts. In many respects, it is like Khan Academy. There are enough differences between the two that a student who has difficulty with or dislikes Khan Academy may be able to utilize BrainGenie. BrainGenie was developed by the ck-12 Foundation, a leader in the development of open-source e-books that can be adapted to meet the needs of an individual, class, or school.
In addition to math, BrainGenie also includes videos for science. Another great resource for science videos is Science360, a website developed by the National Science Foundation. These videos can be valuable resources to help students who may be having difficulty learning a particular topic.
The discussion leads to the ck-12 foundation itself. They have written open source books that are licensed under a Creative Commons license. This is the license that allows you to adapt the books to meet your own specific needs. ck-12 Foundation books cover subjects from math to science to engineering to English to History. If you teach any subject and are wondering how to help a student who is struggling, look at their flexmath website to get examples of scaffolding and differentiated instruction that will help students get back on track. The great thing about ck-12 resources is that they have a lot of “real-world” examples, which do motivate and engage students (Guthrie, & Davis, 2003).
Ted Talks is an interesting website, not only for students, but also for teachers. It asks questions about why we do things a certain way and looks for ways to do things better. You can find lots of information about Khan Academy and "Flipped Classrooms" there. While you are using it to revise your teaching strategies, it can also be used to add value to the classroom. It can be difficult, for example, to teach students how to write a good story. Ted Talks has a video list where various authors tell what they use to create good stories. Exposing students to these authors may help the students find their own voice as part of the writing process.
It is really interesting to use clickers to get instant takes on how your lesson is going. Unfortunately, we do not have clickers. There is a site that uses multiple types of devices including smartphones (use these after school during tutoring sessions), tablets, and laptops to provide you with feedback as to how well you are doing. Socrative (http://socrative.com/) provides you with the option to ask multiple choice, true/false, and open ended questions. I would suggest using it at the end of any class where you have the laptops in your classroom with an exit ticket, a way of seeing what students in your class have learned via student self assessment (Brimijoin, Marquissee, & Tomlinson, 2012). The exit ticket is a great way of utilizing what you have learned in the assessment class provided by the district.
I talked a little bit about flipped classrooms. It can be a major jump to flipped classrooms, especially for teachers that are not used to technology. The idea behind flipped classrooms does have merit, though, and can be used to add digital media that students can watch at home to enhance what is being taught in the classroom for students of differing abilities or to make up missing a class while sick, or when missing multiple days due to weather. I like EdCanvas, a site that allows you to put together web pages using targeted digital media that also allows for student to student interaction as well as student to teacher interaction. As noted earlier, EdCanvas can be used to differentiate instruction (Schumacher, 2013).
Virginia has developed computer technology standards of learning for high school students. The expectation is that students will learn about technology by using the technology to learn about the content taught in any classroom within the school. In essence, it is everyone’s job to help students acquire the technological skills that will enhance deeper, life-long learning.
To that end, MIT has developed the MIT App Inventor
, a program that allows students to use drag and drop to build android apps that can be used with tablets, smart phones and other android devices. Students can build apps that convey the content knowledge that they are learning in class and at the same time begin to develop an App library that other students can use to learn the material. MIT App Inventor, with its drag and drop format allows students to build content based apps, while at the same time assists the students in developing an appreciation for computer science and related subjects (Andujar, Aguilera, Jimenez, Zabe, Shah, Jimenez, & Morreale, 2012).
Andujar, M., Aguilera, L., Jimenez, L., Zabe, F., Shah, J., Jimenez, Y. & Morreale, P. (2012). Attracting High School Students to Computing: A Case Study with Drag-Drop Interfaces. In T. Amiel & B. Wilson (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 525-530). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved August 3, 2013 from http://www.editlib.org/p/40796.
Bahar, M. (1999). Investigation of biology students' cognitive structure through word association tests, mind maps and structural communication grids (Doctoral dissertation, University of Glasgow).
Beel, J., Gipp, B., & Stiller, J. O. (2009, November). Information retrieval on mind maps-what could it be good for?. In Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing, 2009. CollaborateCom 2009. 5th International Conference on (pp. 1-4). IEEE.
Bender, C., & Bull, P. H. (2012, March). Using Prezi in a middle school science class. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (Vol. 2012, No. 1, pp. 2708-2713).
Briggs, M. (2012). Assessing with Prezi. INTED2012 Proceedings, 193-199.
Brimijoin, K., Marquissee, E., Tomlinson, & C. A. (2012). Using Data to Differentiate Instruction. PD Online. Retrieved from http://connect4plt.eportalnow.net/uploads/1/0/4/5/10458746/di-assessment_m4_reading_using_data_to_di.pdf
Guthrie, J. T., & Davis, M. H. (2003). Motivating struggling readers in middle school through an engagement model of classroom practice. Reading &Writing Quarterly, 19(1), 59-85.
Kronholz, J. (2012). Can Khan Move the Bell Curve to the Right?. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 78(2), 23-30.
Peterson, A. R., & Snyder, P. J. (1998, August). Using Mind Maps To Teach Social Problems Analysis. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (48th, San Francisco, CA, August 20-22, 1998).
Schumacher, T. (2013). How to use Edcanvas to differentiate instruction. The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable. Retrieved from http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2013/04/organization-in-a-multi-age-classroom.html