Sunday, April 15, 2012

Digital Citizenship

     Three things that I would want my students to understand about being good digital citizens are as follows:  1 - there are consequences for every action taken, be it good or bad;  2 - they need to understand completely the district's acceptable use policy that they sign at the beginning of each school year and maybe even review its parameters periodically; and 3 - that "they" are in control of "their" actions...no one else.
     In my classroom, I plan to use the "Acceptable Use Policy" and the "Student Blogging Guidelines".  To teach digital citizenship, I plan on monitoring student use, have a student sign-out sheet for the classroom technology devices so there is a paper trail back to each unit, and by keeping the lessons and activities motivating and timed so that there isn't any downtime for foolishness or off-task behavior (hopefully).  And, I think that if I were to share the student's work with their families or invite them to participate, it would definitely be a deterrent to situations where the student was inappropriate or off task with their work.

Incorporating Classroom Based Devices in the Curriculum

     It is important to tie technology to the objective because the learner of today is surrounded by technology and if you incorporate it into the lesson, the learner will not only learn by using the technology, they will learn the technology itself.  By holding the students responsible and accountable they learn to respect the devices and behavior problems should be kept to a minimum.
     After visiting some of the sites, I found that many of them could be used as stations for individual lessons and for completing connections and linking ideas.  Some that were especially interesting were PhETInteractive, and Thinkfinity.  I believe that I could use these sites and their activities and interactive applications to introduce, reinforce, or review a variety of science concepts that are necessary in my curriculum.  I believe you could set up each activity as a timed station with some quality questions to answer at each station, therefore holding the students accountable for the information at each station.
     Some of these websites will have to be accessed by students on the NetBooks because iPads do not have a Flash player and will not show the tutorial or interactive lesson.
     Some iPad applications that could be used include Science specific podcasts on iTunes such as "Brainstuff" from the people at How Stuff Works and "60 Second Science" from the publishers of Scientific American.  Another good app is PhysicalSci, which is an interactive glossary from CPO (Cambridge Physics Outlet) which is the publisher of the textbook that we use in class.  One more to try is "Video Science" from the Science House Foundation.  This app plays videos on specific science subjects and gives the student a very detailed explanation and backs it up with video.  To make students accountable at stations like this, I would have some questions prepared for them to answer while interacting with the apps.  Other possible ways to make the students accountable would be for them to blog about the topic on what they learned or what questions they may still have about the topic.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Devices in the Classroom

     After completing the 11 Tools requirements, I will receive 4 Dell Netbooks and 4 iPads.  I learned that the Netbooks had webcams and microphone inputs.  I already knew that the iPads had video applications but did not know the Netbooks were capable of video, as well.  This will make reaching outside the classroom much simpler.  It will allow the upstairs team to communicate with the downstairs team where ever they are located.  We could even transmit real time video of the labs and share them with the other team.
     As far as management of the devices, I would like to label them so that they do not get mixed up with other devices from other teachers.  I assume the when I check them out, I am fully responsible for their security.  I also  plan revisiting the district's technology honor code agreement with my students to remind them of their responsibilities for technology software and hardware.  I think that we have pretty good kids here at CSA but it is always the case that if you didn't pay for something with your own money, then you don't seem to respect it as much as if you did.  The laptops got trashed soon after the students started moving them around the room.  I cannot let that happen to these devices.  I think tracking 8 devices will be much more manageable than keeping tabs on 20 or 30 devices.
     Also, limiting the devices use to curriculum content will keep the abuse to a minimum.  I used them the other day and the students enjoyed the accessibility and portability.
     If I would add anything to the package, it would be headphone splitters, so that two students who are sharing a device could listen at the same time.