Sunday, February 15, 2015

Leading Edge Certification: Online and Blended Teacher - 3.3 Reflection: Using Web 2.0 Tools

PROMPT 3.3:  Using Web 2.0 Tools

Reflect upon what an activity in your classroom might look like using one or more of these Web 2.0 tools. Think about:
  • what the experience looks like for students.
  • types of outcomes students might have.
  • how the outcome is tied to curriculum objectives.
  • what Web 2.0 tools are aligned to the outcomes and lead to higher order thinking skills.
  • kinds of directions or guidelines you will provide in order to ensure success.
Write a post that briefly describes the activity you would create and how you might minimize possible challenges students and the teacher might have to address. Make sure that your activity is aligned to a learning objective, and uses verbs from the top three levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. In a later module, this activity may be one component of a larger unit you create.

Over the last few years I’ve tried to move my class from teacher centered to more student centered.  As a science teacher, I’ve always made things very hands on, with labs and activities to help students understand the complicated biological concepts.  However, I’ve always lectured so that students got the “input” part of the curriculum from direct instruction.  I want to change that, so students are actually doing the work, not just passively taking notes.  I want students to want to find the concepts and background information as part of the process to solve a task or a problem.

For my ecology unit, I had students research different environmental issues and choose a topic that they were interested in.  I used Lesson Paths (formerly Mentor Mob) to curate a bunch of current event topics to help students start researching.  I also created a Google Custom Search Engine of science news sources, so they could do relevant and targeted searches on their own.  When students looked up these environmental topics, they were working at the lower level of Bloom’s taxonomy.  However, I wanted to make the selection process easy and fast, so students could spend more time learning about the ecology related to their topic.

After students chose a topic that interested them, I gave them guidelines of what they needed to research.  I took the standards and created objectives that they must meet.  For example, students had to explain how energy was involved in their topic.  First, they needed to know what an food web and energy pyramid was, then how their environmental topic might affect an ecosystems energy cycle.  Students did this research on their own.  Through our LMS, I gave them a list of resources, like online texts, screencasts I’ve made, or, they could find the information on their own.  By students researching the topics, they have to comprehend the topics, but then apply what they learn to their own environmental topic.  Students also had to analyze the sources that they found to see if they were credible sources, since many articles relating to some of their environmental issues were very biased or written by people who were not experts in the field.

As students were researching their topics and the ecological concepts they took collaborative notes using Google Docs. Most students worked in pairs, so they were able to collaborate online, and if their partner was absent, the other student still had access to all of their work.  Students also share their learning through Blogger blogs.  Students are synthesizing all of the facts they learn about ecology, and about their environmental issue, and then sharing it with the world.  Other students in the class provide feedback and questions, but even people outside of our class are reading their work, and sometimes providing feedback.  So students are writing for an audience that extends past our classroom walls.  

After students finished their research, they created a fifteen minute presentation that they would share with the class.  It needed to include a movie trailer or Public Service Announcement about their environmental problem, and some sort of interactive quiz for the class.  Students used iMovie, WeVideo, or Powtoon to create videos and posted them on YouTube.  Some students created ebooks using Book Creator or Shutterfly Photo Story, which they then posted on their blogs.  Others created infographics using Google Drawing or Thinglink.  When students presented to the class, they also created formative assessments with tools like Socrative, Google forms with Flubaroo, or Pear Deck.  My students were familiar with most of these tools, since we had used them earlier in the year.  However, some students learned new tools, and referred to online tutorials that they found or I provided.

This project had students working at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Students chose a topic that was interesting to them, and related to the curriculum objectives I wanted them to meet.  Students created some amazing videos and presentations, which showed a deep understanding of their topic and the environmental issues related to it.  There are some changes I need to make to the project, as we are transitioning to using the NGSS standards instead of the California State Standards.  I found that students had a hard time blogging each day, and definitely need to change up some of the requirements.  However, I think the project was a success overall.  Students learned the ecological concepts because they need to in order to deeply understand the issues behind their topic.  I didn’t lecture once, students found the information they needed.  Students were the center of this project, and I just walked around and led students in the right direction, and provided a gentle push if needed.  But my students really drove their learning in this unit.

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