Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Flat Classroom

I think that I can first link my different classrooms together and then bring in the upstairs groups.  We could start by posting physics lab data on a Google Doc and comparing data for accuracy and repetitive results.  Because we have 7 different lab stations with CPO equipment, I think it would be interesting to see the data collected by different students at the same lab station and the differences between the lab stations themselves.  For example, why does the car accelerate so much more at station 2 than at 5 when all of the equipment is virtually identical?  Or, why do students from my COB class get so different of results from my TDC class?
I think I could use asynchronous learning to see differences and to get my students to achieve more repeatable results in their physics lab experiments.  As of now, none of the students see the data or calculations of other students, even in the same laboratory group.  We verbally share results that are inferred through questions over the data, but no one actually compares their data side by side.
The linking could be expanded to other middle schools in the district that are using the same equipment and procedures.  Of course, some correspondence would be in order to get everyone on the same page, as far as, procedures go...everyone would have to do the experiment exactly the same way.  For example, we would have to agree how high to set the ramp for the speed lab, where to put the photogates, make sure everyone used the ramp foot, etc...
I think it would be easy to do.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion In The Classroom

In my classroom, along with the other 8th grade science classroom, we have used Web Tools such as Google Docs and Today's Meet to promote the sharing of opinions between the students.  Earlier in the year, during the Astronomy Unit, we used Today's Meet to share and discuss a big question that everyone in the world probably has an opinion on and would love to share and discuss.  We put pairs of students on computers on both science classes and asked the students this question:  "What does life need to exist?".  The students really enjoyed sharing their opinions with each other.  It was very exciting to go around the computer lab and read the comments, opinions, and rebuttals from the students in the room and what was being said from upstairs.  The discussions were thought provoking, insightful, silly at times, but for the most part, the students stayed on task and focused and were very into the activity.
During physics, we plan on using Google Docs to share lab data for comparison and critique.  I believe that students can learn a lot from their peers and are not usually intimidated by the criticisms from fellow students.  The students are also very sympathetic at times to other students mistakes.  The sharing of lab data will allow them to better their data collecting and analysis techniques.  It will also allow them to double check their own data to look for bad data or incorrect calculations and observations.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Web 2.0 Tools...

I am already using Web 2.0 tools in my classroom.  At the beginning of the year, my principal informed us of some of the Web 2.0 tools available and she used them during our meetings and in-service sessions.
My students used have used Prezi and Xtranormal in class to do presentations.  In fact, for one project, they were required to use either a Web 2.0 tool or a Google App to complete their project.  The best ones were chosen to be showcased at our school's annual open house event.  It was really exciting to see how creative and how comfortable the students were with the technology.  It was as if it were second nature to some of them.  I think others that were "forced" to use it found a new tool to help them in their studies.  The learning curve for most of the Web 2.0 tools is literally minutes long.  You simply have to play with it briefly, learn the tricks, and boom, you are producing a product that looks professional and stylish.
My Xtranormal video was brief and kind of silly, but it was fun to make.  I don't really care for Xtranormal's pricing schedule.  I probably will not use it again.  And, to top off my issues with their pricing, I just found out that they deactivated my account.  So, I guess I am an ex-Xtranormal user.
Prezi is really popular with the students.  Here is a Prezi that I created that explains the concepts of weight, how gravity affects objects to give them weight, and friction.  It is called Weight Force, Gravity, and Friction.  I will have my students access this Prezi and review the concepts discussed already in class.  I will also have them add the Weight Force equation to their Physics Phormula Chart project.

Using Google Apps in the Classroom...

In my last blog, I embedded a quiz on Dimensional Analysis that I created using Google Forms.  I think this is a really useful tool.  I also shared it with the other Science teacher for her to use with her class.  It is a really simple 5 question quiz and the form will collect the answers from each student and you can view it like an Excel file and assign grades very easily and quickly.
I think that these tools will be especially helpful between our teaching team members and other 8th grade team members for things like interdisciplinary activities and lessons, classroom management, extracurricular activities, class lists, and field trips.  It would also make it easier for all of us to communicate electronically and stay in the loop.  However, I do feel that it may lead to a small amount of alienation if one or two team members decide not to participate or cooperate.
I am excited the most by using form tools with my students...because I already have and it was really easy.  It is very useful for checking for understanding of concepts.  By having my students take the quiz mentioned above, I was able to see who was still struggling with DA, who was comfortable with it, and who is excelling at it.