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Blog Post #8

Presentation software’s biggest advantages lie in its abilities to present information visually and efficiently, and to allow teachers to lecture/say what they want to say while giving students a way to take clear, precise notes. Slides, prezis, etc. are so quick and easy for teachers to use. The presentations can convey so much without consuming all of their creators’ free time, and they offer students so much more stimulation than lectures alone do. The fact students can use presentation software for their own projects quite easily also adds to the learning process. The biggest disadvantages lie in their repetitiveness (older students have seen thousands of slides) and in their distraction (younger students can find ways to daydream about the graphics, images, etc.) Presentation software will not work as a teaching tool for all students, especially those who don’t know how to take notes, are behind other classmates in reading skills, etc.
The digital divide is a valid issue in education, but I also believe that it will become less and less of a problem as time goes by. As someone who is on the digital side of technology, I see it overtaking more and more of our everyday lives, our classrooms, our social interactions, etc. I doubt poverty in America will ever be wiped out completely, so I doubt every student will have at-home access to the latest technology. Students living in poverty don’t have access to the same technology our majority has, but this problem only arises in certain schools and in certain classrooms where teachers are not conscious about the need. Virtually every school has a computer lab students can use for assignments, and teachers can always adjust their instructional techniques to fit the needs of their students.
•With all the experience we’ve had with different websites, smartboards, etc., I would love to see how these different technologies affect students’ learning when compared with other methods. Has research been done about this? What were the parameters? Which programs were used? What was the control group like? It’d be very interesting to see a study that compares different teaching methods rather than just teaching+extra time with technological programs.

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Blog Post #7

Almost every teacher I’ve had since middle school has used PowerPoint in class. It’s a wonderful way to present a lot of information to students in a quick, legible, and flexible way. I have no doubt that I, like my other English teachers, will use the software to show students vocab words, grammar rules and examples, background information on a book, play, or author, etc. PowerPoint’s also a tool students use to present what they’ve learned back to teachers and classmates. It’s so easy to use that it enables students to share more, organize their knowledge more, etc.

Adaptive technologies can be life-changing to so many people with disabilities. They allow people to learn and interact in learning in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I’ve never personally experienced an adaptive technology in my class, but I can see how it might be very difficult to use in my own classroom. Assuming my class is not consistent solely of students with special needs or disabilities, those few students who do need extra help may slow down class progress and take up my time with other students. Although assistive technologies help prevent this, I don’t think they are comprehensive enough yet to weed out all challenges that arise from having disabled students in a class with the general student body.

This week’s assignment was fairly simple and straightforward, except for creating a calendar. I love the choices weebly gives you in your site format and layout. They had so many fantastic backgrounds that it was hard to pick! In the future, I’d like to play with the site even more. I’m sure it has hidden gems waiting for me to discover and use, and I definitely think it’s a site I would use as a teacher to create my own site.

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Blog Post #6

As a teacher, I hope to maintain a class website (assuming the vast majority of my students have access to the internet). Uploading calendars to a website can be very helpful for students who are sick, going out of town, etc. I could also use my site to direct curious students to other resources that can teach them more outside of class, give students away to print out any lost homework assignments, etc. I’ve appreciated teacher websites as a student so I definitely want to use them as a teacher. It’s worth the time and effort to make one, if not to update it CONSTANTLY.

Using technology day-to-day is a basic requirement for most teachers. While it’s obvious how I can use it to teach my students, show them more examples, etc., it can also help me develop in my role as educator. The internet allows me to keep up with what’s going on in the world and in the trends of my students. It gives me access to so many resources that can expand my knowledge base, the way I think, and the information I can give to my students. It allows teachers to come together and share thoughts, lessons, strategies, etc.

Our latest assignment was somewhat tricky at first (probably because I didn’t follow the tutorial), but I eventually figured it out through trial and error. Still, I have to say this tool is not the most user friendly–at least not to loser users like me. Next time, I would definitely want to play around with it more so I could fully understand all its quirks. I doubt I’ll use wikis that much in the future, but who knows? It probably depends on what teachers I come across teaching and how they choose to share advice/information with each other.

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Blog Post #5

Diigo is a 2.0 tool that helps you navigate the web while also annotating, organizing, saving, and sharing all the information you find while you search the internet. You can get the tool for free at diigo.com. Diigo would be a fantastic tool to use while preparing lessons and while presenting websites or online articles to the class because it allows you to add notes, highlight text, comment, compare/contrast, and save your screenshots to review later. An English teacher, for example, could show students how to annotate an essay, could point out mistakes in an article, label different rhetorical devices, etc. all on the same webpage. Diigo could also be used to add additional information to an already helpful site or presentation and just to help teachers keep track of all the webpages they might want to use in class.
Students can also use diigo in many of the same ways a teacher would. They can highlight words, make comments, collect different articles, and share or collaborate with other students for projects. Diigo allows you to share your screenshots with others in the cloud, helping students work together with specific sources and articles to expand on, etc.
Many web 2.0 tools can be used in education, but not all of them can be educational. Some might even be dangerous for certain kids to use because if anyone can post anything (especially video), including something inappropriate. Other sites can and do promote learning like prezi or even twitter (as mentioned in the podcast) if used correctly. If not all web 2.0 tools can be used by students, even more can be used by teachers as they prepare lesson plans by consulting different sites and using more advanced technology.
The Web Hunt actually did teach me new techniques to use while searching Google (such as using – before a certain word to exclude anything you don’t want), but many of the new techniques were redundant because similar, simpler searches brought up mostly the same results. As a result, I didn’t bother using as many of the helpful hints as I could’ve, which is something I could improve on next time. Even though not all of the shortcuts were, well, shortcuts, I will definitely be using some of the hints in future searches in the classroom and outside of it.

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Blog Post #4

Web-based resources can promote student learning by making information and research faster and more accessible (though not always more reliable), presenting new ideas in new ways that might be easier for some student to understand, and giving students multiple opinions on topics. More information than ever before is available at “the click of a button.” Google seems to answer every question we have. Interaction with the web and its many sites can encourage students to ask more questions without embarrassment, to learn more without consuming too much time, to compare and contrast, etc. etc. Teachers can guide students to engaging sites that can also guide the curious to other sites, letting them learn more about what interests them, about the details they need to know, etc.

While the Internet is so fantastic for student research, students need to be reminded to verify the information retrieved. Anyone can post anything just about anywhere online, and that “anything” can be false or unproven. The Internet can also add to laziness, allowing kids to look up a book’s plot instead of reading it, and offers students a chance to plagiarize quite a bit. Teachers need to know how to monitor these possibilities, quiz students on what the Internet can’t tell them about a book, etc. Students need to form their own ideas also; they can’t always rely on Internet opinions to tell them what to think.

In the past, I’ve used web sources A LOT. Google is a life-saver that opens so many doors. Even Wikipedia is a helpful guide-though I know better than to use it as my source. I’ve always checked the legitimacy of the sites I do cite-looking for who runs them and for what reason, looking into where THEY found their information, etc. Professionalism and objectivity is crucial. Generally, my process fit the podcast’s suggestions, but the questions it suggested to use are very helpful for future searches.

This week’s assignment taught me how to work the program, which is very user-friendly and easy to pick up on. I was surprised by how much I DID like using Inspiration, considering the fact I never use concept maps, but I wish the program wasn’t SO simple. There are so many features it could offer that I would enjoy even more. Next time, all I’ll really be able to do to “improve” my project is to play around more with the graphics. The program’s rather limited in any other techniques. Still, I think some students would enjoy using the program to create graphics, projects, or just to formulate and organize ideas. Maybe I’ll use it if I ever have a presentation that would best be conveyed in a concept map.

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Blog Post #3

The website kidspast.com has children take a “blast through the past” to learn about history. From the first glance, users are somewhat blinded by the colors, throwing Rule 5 out the window by using much more than three or four colors on the screen. Still, the site adheres to most of Chapter 6’s design principles. The only other rules they seemed to violate were Rule 10 (Keep line lengths between eight and ten words) and Rule 13 (Feature one idea per screen). Organization, emphasis, placement, and structure are generally very strong and well-designed, but the features and lists are too many, crowding the page with too much text, and the colors are distractingly garish and bright. I do, however, love the animated graphics the site uses.

Open content and open sources seem to be fantastic resources for teachers and their students. While educators certainly shouldn’t rely entirely on these sources, using them in the classroom expands the minds of both students and teachers, provides additional information for the curious or struggling, and makes teaching more efficient when it comes to time and money. Educators have access to so much free information, wisdom, and insight that they HAVE to take advantage of the opportunity. That doesn’t mean educators can lean back and depend solely on that. Many students will need the content translated and retaught through their teacher, and teachers have much to offer in their own knowledge bases and experiences. I use open content myself (the Open Office mentioned in the podcast), and didn’t even realize it! It allows me, as a student, to use the same tools at home in Microsoft without having to pay. It’s not perfect, but it helps so much. I would absolutely use open content materials to give my students more resources and information and would contribute to open content if given the time and expertise.

This week’s assignment didn’t teach me a TON about Microsoft Word because I’m already so familiar with the program, but I did use its graphics, tables, etc. more than normal, and it was interesting to see the newsletter come together onscreen. Practice makes perfect, and using these skills in actual projects (no matter how simple they appear) definitely hones my abilities and shows me how, in my career, I can create similar products in ways that are both quick and interesting. Next time, I hope my finished projects looks even more sophisticated, professional, and aesthetically stimulating. I want to keep my students interested even when the content isn’t very fascinating.
Word and Graphics 2 Newsletter

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Blog Post #2

Word and Graphics

During high school, I’ve mainly used MS Word to complete English and History assignments, writing essays, sometimes making quizzes or outlines. Indirectly, I’ve used MS Word even more because so many of my tests, quizzes, and homework assignments have been made using Word. My teachers have used it a lot to make their own assignments or tests because it is so accessible, efficient, and easy to use. Chapter 9 of our book definitely opened my eyes to how Word can make assignments even more engaging for students through the incorporation of graphics, charts, etc. The chapter also helped me realize that I could encourage my students to share their knowledge in this engaging way without having to spend hours and hours instructing them on how to do this or that. Since I want to teach high school, my students will already have the basics down pretty well, and just showing them a few new techniques on the program could make both their work and their finished products much more intriguing for everyone.

As a student, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to cite sources properly to respect copyright laws and avoid plagiarizing. As a student, I’ve also made a lot of mistakes doing this, but I’ve learned a lot and now know the proper formats, etc. Teachers of younger students would need to be patient about copyright and fair use because many kids don’t know the rules and need to be taught how to cite and why they must cite. Still, teachers have to be firm and clear about the consequences of copyright violations down the line. As a teacher, I should lead by example by citing my own sources in presentations I give, and I should always make sure my students understand the proper protocol.

I was surprised by the new things I did learn from the assignment this week. Though I’ve used Word to write for years, I truly haven’t taken advantage of all the graphics and charts. It was very interesting to see how I can add so many different shapes, graphs, and pictures, but I haven’t incorporated those skills into my outlook on the program. Hopefully, these additions will become more and more natural to me, allowing me to make papers more eye-catching and insightful. The practice will definitely come in handy someday as I make my own tests and quizzes, learning from my mistakes and enhancing the learning experience for my students.

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