me-now

This is me-now, Josh Krikke on Blogger. I hope you enjoy my reflections.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Module 7: WebQuest

Based on my inquiry, I think that effective WebQuests have a diversified purpose. The effectiveness of WebQuest is that they can match a teacher’s style and strengths. Some WebQuests are designed for efficiency—to reduce wasted classroom time, others are made to promote collaboration and create discussion among students. WebQuests can also promote higher level thinking, like analysis and opinion forming, while other WebQuests are set up to use Web technology to its highest potential. From my readings, I have seen that a WebQuest is much like an online lesson plan in which students can be self-directed and inquiry based. Like any good lesson, an effective WebQuest ought to have an introduction, a statement of task, a step-by-step process to complete task, a way to evaluate learning of the task, and a conclusion.
I might use WebQuest in the classroom for an inquiry-based novel study. Each student would be given the same novel and they would use WebQuest as a novel study guide. The WebQuest could incorporate links to websites about the author of the novel, require the creation of an Inspiration Concept Map based on plot, characters, or literary devices in the novel. It could have links to a discussion board in which students must submit a personal response to the story. Other students could view one another’s responses and would be asked to reply to 2 or 3 of their peer’s opinions. Bonus activities could be included for students to go beyond the requirements of the WebQuest tasks, and students would be active learners in their discovery of the novel. The WebQuest could be supplemented with class discussions based on WebQuest tasks.
One area of concern with Web-based learning is the need to ensure Internet safety in the classroom. I am sure students are well aware of the content available on the Internet, for as I read on the Media Awareness Network website, “Forty-five per cent of students use the Internet for homework, and two out of ten kids and teens have their own personal Web sites.” The Internet can hold misleading or incorrect information and students need to be taught skills in information analysis and proper search methods. There is pornography available on the Internet which students need to ask themselves what pornography teaches about sex and relationships and they, in response, ought to ask what their actions should be. Chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging, and discussion boards are public domains and they pose a threat to student privacy. Students need to understand what personal identification is safe and what is unsafe to publicize on the World Wide Web. There are Internet sites that promote dangerous or illegal activities, like the online recipe for the drug: Crystal Meth, and students need to recognizethe danger of utilizing the Internet in deviant ways. The best thing I, as a future educator, can do is raise student awareness of the potential dangers of the Internet, and allow students to express their opinions about Internet safety and come to their own judgements about how to use the Internet safely. After all, the Internet is the greatest resource we have available in our homes, jobsites, and schools and ought to be used for its richness rather than its deceptiveness.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Using Spreadsheets in Education

In any classroom, a good teacher wants students to think critically and analyze information and I believe spreadsheets are just the tool to help students with this process. Spreadsheets are effective for helping students to analyze data and to present this to an audience in a clear and organized manner. Spreadsheets are also a way for students to use data as a vehicle to formulate answers to questions and hypotheses. For example, imagine the possibilities when using spreadsheets in a Grade 4 unit project on: Waste and Our World. Students could collect and analyze data on the different types of garbage the school generates on a given day, either biodegradable, reusable, or toxic wastes. Spreadsheets could be made based on the collected data. Then, students could formulate graphs demonstrating averages to prove which type of garbage is most generated at school. Finally, students could think of practical ways to implement reducing, reusing and recycling to reduce the amount of garbage their school produces. This is an example of using spreadsheet technology as a tool for analyzing data that results in a hands-on activity to reduce school waste. Now that’s authentic learning!

In order to implement a unit project like this in the classroom, I think an online tutorial on spreadsheets would be an effective teaching tool. I would use http://www.sabine.k12.la.us/training/Excel%202000.htm This site contains about 125 interactive Web "mini movies" that are perfect for teaching yourself or others how to create a spreadsheet. Following the “mini movies” I would walk students through a spreadsheet activity of our own relating to data we had collected on types of waste. Hopefully, this would be enough training for students to get started on making their own spreadsheets and then I could monitor the groups and help them individually. I definitely want to try using spreadsheets when I enter the classroom and I think students will love using computer software to make graphs.

Thursday, October 06, 2005



Module 4: Concept Mapping using Inspiration

Ever wonder how the brain organizes new information? Well, making a concept map using Inspiration Software could be considered a visual representation of how the brain encodes information. When you receive new information, your brain has to file it away and place it within an existing framework based on former knowledge and cross-linking of concepts. Concept mapping is a technique for visually representing the structure of information—how concepts within an idea are interrelated. It stimulates former knowledge and visualizes a framework for information to be organized. You see? The processes are so similar!

Some advantages of concept mapping in education include: it organizes and prioritizes student’s thoughts, it increases and expands creative efforts, it serves as a basis for projects and writing activities, it can link web resources to a student’s idea, it can be used for studying, it’s good for assessment because it reflects student’s thought processes, it’s a tool addressing different learning styles, and it gives students ownership of their perspectives. The only disadvantage that I see in concept mapping is it’s subjectivity. There is no single correct concept map so teachers need to create specific assessment rubrics to give students structure to their concept maps. Also, just a little modeling of concept map creation will help students stay on the straight and narrow. Guidelines in concept mapping are important so students connect concept mapping with understanding how elements of a concept fit and relate together.

In the classroom, I would use concept mapping to create brainstorming webs on writing ideas, to describe novel characters, to visualize plots in literature, to create essay outlines, and to make poetry skeletons. All these ideas are integrating ICT General Outcome C4 which states: Students will use organizational processes and tools to manage inquiry, and General Outcome C7 which states: Students will use electronic research techniques to construct personal knowledge and meaning.

I was personally impressed with all the practical uses of concept maps in education. It seems to me if concept mapping is similar to how the brain works, then students really ought to create concept maps and view their own learning process. What better way to make critical thinking so hands-on?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

MODULE Three: Searching the Internet and Backing up

1. References:

Buset, P., Bjørnstad, A., Erlandsen, A. (2001). Ash Rain: The Story of the Nazi’s Death Camps. Retrieved September 29, 2005, from ThinkQuest website:
http://library.thinkquest.org/28260/english/english2.html

Jordan, Kushal, Mike. (2003). The Holocaust: A Tragic Legacy. Retrieved September 29, 2005, from ThinkQuest website: http://library.thinkquest.org/12663/

World War II. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2005, from ThinkQuest website: http://library.thinkquest.org/19090/

2. Grade: 4

3. Activity: Students complete a Know, Wonder and Learned (KWL) chart on "World War II and Jewish people" by sharing their ideas orally while the teacher records the student's ideas on chart paper. Students will copy the chart into their notebooks. The teacher will prompt students to orate the following ideas: Europe, Germany, Adolf Hitler, hatred of Jews, prison camps, hiding, 1940. The teacher then introduces the novel study by Lois Lowry, entitled: Number the Stars, and gives a brief summary of the novel. Students will then work in pairs and choose one idea or question from their KWL charts and use the Internet to find information on their selected topic. Students must go to at least one website provided by the teacher. Students may link to other sites or search for other sites related to their selected topic. Students will record 3 facts from websites that are relevant to their selected topic. Students will record these 3 facts in their notebooks, record the site URL, and then present this information to the class.

4. General Learning Outcome 1: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences.

5. Specific Learning Outcome 1.2: Extend Understanding: Students will explore ways to find additional ideas and information to extend understanding.

6. Relevant ICT Outcomes, Division 2:
C.1- Students will access, use and communicate information from a variety of technologies.
Specific Outcomes:
2.1 Students will access and retrieve appropriate information from the Internet by using a specific search path or from given uniform resource locations (URLs).
2.2 Students will organize information gathered from the Internet, or an electronic source, by selecting and recording the data in logical files or categories; and by communicating effectively, through appropriate forms, such as speeches, reports and multimedia presentations, applying information technologies that serve particular audiences and purposes.

7. Rationale: For this activity, integrating computer technology is good because students will be able to search for answers to their own ideas and questions in a time efficient manner. Searching websites can offer information that is readable for Gr. 4 students and allows them to follow their inquisitive minds in choosing to view relevant links. Web-based searching is inclusive: it allows students who differ in performance levels to participate in this activity at a level equal with their fluency.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Related (specific) Technology Outcome being integrated: C.1 3.5 Students will be able to analyze and synthesize information to create a product.

Subject: Social Studies

Grade: 7

Description: Learning about culture in their own immediate environment, students will recognize that communication in all its forms is the means by which culture is formed. One large communicator today is mainstream media that effects it's viewers. Television, movies, and the Internet have effected popular culture and influenced what Canadians value.
In response to their analysis of today's popular culture, students will generate a Power Point presentation in order to "sell" a product they've designed. The student's presentation is a live advertisement using Power Point as a mode for the class to view their product. The product is something the students have invented based on their reflections on what is marketable in today's culture. In their presentation, students must include rationale for why their product is a "must buy" and what benefits their product offers to society or to the individual. The Power Point presentation will be assessed on creativity of product, plausibility of product in today's popular culture, effective use of Power Point to display their product, and clarity of presentation.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I was amazed today when the members in my Evaluation in Learning group exchanged information for our presentation and I walked away with no papers in my hand. Surely, I realized, we have reached an age in computer technology where print is on the out and digitized files are on the in.
In my opinion, integration of technology in the classroom is of utmost importance for upcoming teachers in the profession. I will share with you good integration strategies, bad integration strategies, and barriers associated with technology integration in the classroom.
Proper technology integration in the classroom is that used as a tool for authentic learning. In authentic learning, technology is used as a tool where right and wrong answers are less important, and student inquisition and investigation leading to critical thinking is most important. Perhaps teachers ought to relax while integrating computer technology in the classroom, for students do learn by following their curiosity. It is the teacher's position to initiate wonderings in their students. As an upcoming teacher, I ought to let students have time on computers so they feel comfortable with them and then implement interesting assignments like comparison studies with other schools in the world, collaborating with other teachers to do joint projects, and saving files in archives for upcoming students to view. If school administration is committed to updating curriculum so that consistent use of technology is integrated from grade to grade, students and teachers would be able to implement computer technology in their learning.
Improper technology integration in the classroom is teaching that models how to use computers without allowing students to discover these skills. So often, ill-prepared teachers use computer technology to "kill time" in their classrooms, rather teachers ought to develop creative methods and strategies for using technology in the classroom. I believe students will be excited and interested in joining blog groups or in conferencing with other students around the world and all this interaction is on the tips of our keyboard bound fingers! Teachers may be trained in certain software programs but so often these skills are not finding their way into the classroom. This inefficiency is a great waste of time for professional development.
Some of the barriers to technology integration in the classroom are teachers (like me!) with low computer self-efficacy. Studies have shown that teachers with confidence in working with computers are more apt to implement their skills in the classroom. However, do not fear those who are computer disabled! (like me!) A teacher need only be a facilitator of technology in a classroom, not a computer programmer who can hack into any mainframe. The idea that one who integrates computers in the classroom must be a computer mastermind is another barrier to computer integration.
Clearly, computer integration in the classroom is of utmost importance. I can say for myself that practice makes perfect in many areas in life and in my experience, once I learn a software program, I gain confidence quickly and my trust in computer technology increases. As for today, I am not so scared to walk away from a group project meeting with no information in my hands. I just check my email and all the information my group members mailed me is at my viewing disposal. The times they are a changin' and I, for one, see the need to keep up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hello, my name is Josh Krikke and I am pleased to meet you on this my first Blog. Just before I wrote this I was laying down on the bank of a Coulee amidst some leafless prairie shrub. I saw the sun drop behind some low-hanging clouds and looking across the green lines of Coulee crests I sure was glad to be alive. Me-now, here in Lethbridge, AB for a two-year stint getting my Education Degree.
I am excited to be on this stage of my journey, a journey that started with my upbringing in Rural-Ontario and led towards me obtaining a B.A in English at The King's University College in Edmonton, AB. Then, I had a life-changing experience teaching English at Global English School in Nonthaburi, Thailand. It seems strange that little over four months ago the beautiful landscape I'd come to love, the palm trees and white sand beaches, have been replaced by Southern Alberta grasslands. This is me-now, here in Lethbridge and as my journey continues I recall the lyrics of singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn, who says: "Even the best map will not guide you/For you can't see around the bend."
I couldn't see around the bend when I started my Ed Degree just last week and here I am writing a blog. Publishing a blog is huge for a non-computer type like myself. I enjoyed reading the website required for Ed 3508 for as the author on www.weblog-ed.com/stories/storyReader$24 says: "...we need to make (students) connect what they do for fun with writing and reading and learning. Weblogs can do that." I thought that was a great quote encapsulating how students today have grown up using the Internet for fun. Students like to join chat rooms, use Messenger, and surf the net and they can do it skillfully. However, students fail to link these skills with literacy. Blogging is one way to incorporate what students love into their education.
The greatest thing about the Web is it "enables individual participation in the marketplace of ideas" (www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml/47), and this is truly the place of the teacher: to facilitate student wonderings. Am I limiting student generated ideas and wonderings by my ignorance of all things Web related? It's a good question for any future educator. I think if I could incorporate Weblogs into my curriculum it would motivate non-participators in the classroom and provide a forum for collaboration and discussion. Blogs can initiate reader-response within a classroom and, in a larger sense, in the global community. Published Blogs would be something students could own on the World Wide Web. I think students would get excited about blogging and without even recognizing it, participate in literacy.
While volunteering in a grade 2 class this summer I seem to remember the students going crazy when it was their time in the computer lab. Fights ceased and recess was forgotten for those precious minutes playing online word games and math games. I see now how students are excited to operate computers. I also see how it is part of my responsibility as a future teacher to incorporate computer technology into learning. Learning ought to be fun and perhaps blogging could be a fun-factor in my future English classes.