Thursday, December 1, 2011

Technology Integration

Over the course of this semester, I have learned how to effectively integrate technology into my future lesson plans.  I have discovered many cool ways to help students learn by use of technology.  I'm normally not a very "tech-savvy" person, but I have gotten the hang of a few different technology routes that will (hopefully) inspire students to delve into the topics that I will teach in my high school English classes. 

In my unit on Macbeth, I employ the use of virtual field trips, Pixton comic strips, Glogster glogs, and Classpress blogs. 
I really like the virtual field trip (done on PowerPoint) because it's so easy to do, and turns out to be very interesting if done well.  Basically for a virtual field trip, it is important that students feel like they're actually going somewhere.  It is not like a regular, possibly boring PowerPoint presentation.  The virtual field trip will have a cool background, lots of pictures, and links to YouTube videos and websites that will "take the students somewhere." The idea is to really hold the students' attention.

Pixton comic strips are so much fun! The options are endless with Pixton.  To be honest, I didn't like Pixton much at first, but as I got into my projects for class, I started to enjoy it a lot more.  The thing about Pixton is, it allows for so much creativity.  You can go on Pixton and choose different characters and modify them as much as you want.  You can have different settings and objects in your comic strips.  For my unit, I will assign students a Pixton project.  They will have to make a comic that reflects some type of knowledge of Macbeth.  It can be set in modern day, since most backgrounds and characters on Pixton are modern-looking. 

In my opinion, Glogster is the very easiest type of educational technology that we have learned to use so far.  It is designed so that younger kids can do it, and I think that high schoolers would have a lot of fun doing it as well.  Glogs are basically posters that you can create online, and add pictures, little clip arts, sounds, text, etc.  There are so many possibilities.  For Macbeth, the students will be required to create a glog that has pictures of a few of the characters with the names of each, decorative images placed nicely on the glog, and a title. 

My favorite use of technology integration for classes is blogging.  In high school, I had teachers that asked us to freewrite journal entries to get us thinking as a warm-up before the lessons.  I enjoyed that, and also reflecting in journal entries after the lessons.  I think that many students, like me, enjoy giving their feedback on lessons via journal entries, and many would rather journal online in a blog.  The blogs can be private so that other students cannot read them, or they can be public so that the students can read each others' blogs and share ideas.  My favorite online journal for teachers and students is Classpress, but I also really enjoy Blogger.  The main difference is that Classpress is much more geared toward education.  In my lesson, I will have students blog on Classpress about what they learn in Macbeth as we go throughout the play.

Blogging by Classpress

The growing world of technology continues to open doors to new ways to learn.  As technology grows and changes, teachers must be willing to do the same.  As much as I love the good old-fashioned pen and paper, I have had a great time getting to know these different learning technologies. 

English is a subject that technology can really influence, with the emergence of iPads, Kindles, online journals and reading materials, etc.  It seems like everything is headed towards online reading and learning, and physical books are starting to collect dust.  Hopefully they will not become obsolete.  I think that it's good to have a balance of technology and old-fashioned learning.  Technology, if handled correctly, can definitely be our friend.

As a high school English teacher, I will have many opportunities to put my new technology skills to use, and hopefully my students will benefit greatly!

Friday, September 23, 2011

PBS Teachers

PBS Teachers is a website that is overflowing with resources for teachers to use.  And it's not just for elementary school teachers.  Teachers of all grades can find something great on PBS Teachers.  There are lesson plans, videos, and activities on the website.  The site is really easy to navigate and easily laid-out so that you can find what you need. If you click on your grade level and then your content area, you can see hundreds of resources that you can use in your classroom.  It's almost overwhelming! And it's so easy, I don't see why any teacher shouldn't at least stop by and take a look.
There are "activity packs" (as shown above) that are really neat to look through and see what they have.  There is some really interesting stuff to go along with each content area.  A great thing about the site is that it's completely safe for students to look through.  You don't have to worry that there's something on there that they shouldn't see.  Kids can play games on the site and look through the videos themselves.  There is also a discussion board, where teachers can share ideas.  This is probably my favorite thing about the site because I love hearing others' ideas and sharing my own.  I think that's a great idea.  You can get ideas for your own classroom from teachers who may be more experienced than you, and it's a great learning experience for both you and your students!

Here is a video that I found for my content area (reading/language arts), just as an example of what some of the videos are like

And there are all kinds of videos and lesson plans for every content area, just like that, including:
-Science & Technology
-Health & Fitness
-The Arts
-History/Social Studies

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pixton is a really cool way to get students involved in the learning process. For the visual learners, Pixton is great because it is so visually stimulating and memorable for the student. I have created my own comic (above) that deals with high school English. Below is a comic that my students will complete based on their past experience with English and books that they have read. Pixton comics are very easy to make, and may become addictive for the students!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Formative Assessment in Schools

Formative assessment is a very important part of every teacher's job.  Without formative assessment, it would be hard for teachers to know where each student stands as far as knowledge of the subject that they are teaching.  When I start teaching, I will look at the students' scores from the last test they took the previous year, whether that test was an EOG, EOC, or a final exam.  I will look to see (if I can) what parts they did well on and what parts they need a little help with.  After seeing the test scores, I will be better able to tailor my teaching style and my lessons to each student's needs, depending on where they're at in their knowledge of English

English is important in so many ways that assessments are completely imperative.  Even if it's just having the students make an illustration to show that they have mastered the vocabulary or a certain story that they are reading, it is still a way to tell where they are as far as how much they know about the topic, and what needs to be worked on.

In the classroom that I am observing at Ledford Senior High School, the teacher gives weekly vocabulary tests on Fridays.  All of the English teachers I had in high school did the same.  To me, this is a great tool of formative assessment.  In fact, I believe that it is essential to give vocabulary tests.  Studying English and Language Arts wouldn't do any good if the students didn't learn new words. 

Some online formative assessment tools include ClassScape and Quia.  These are great tools for high school students to use.  High schoolers are usually eager to use technology in he classroom and on homework assignments, so these sites would open up new doors for them and make assessments a little more fun.