Forces of Science

I’ve started to “scoop” push and pull resources for stage 1 classrooms.

Here it is!

http://www.scoop.it/t/science-stage-1-push-and-pull

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Happy Blogging Bloggers!

What blogs would you choose to show your students a model blog?

What constitutes a “good” blog?

  • Should be clear
  • Should be concise
  • Should include a wide range of interactive resources; pictures, videos etc.
  • Should be updated regularly
  • Should have a blogging community to share ideas with
  • etc

I have chosen;

1. The Avery Bunch     http://mravery.edublogs.org/

This blog was created by a year 6 teacher in the United States. I was immediately drawn to this blog because of its simple and clear layout and navigation. The blog contains information for the 6th grade students as well as resources for the teacher (Mr. Avery) in regards to his own teaching and learning development.  There is a wide range of post types; ‘making maths fun’, daily news, the teaching and learning cycle and school happenings. What is also really great about this blog is that it attracts a lot of other bloggers who seem very comfortable to comment and try out Mr. Avery’s ideas at home or even in their own schools.  The blog is supported by a range of videos and photos to show fellow bloggers what the 6th graders have been up to during the week as well.  Furthermore the blog offers guidelines to the 6th grade bloggers, reminding them of blog etiquette such as addressing their teacher as  “Dear Mr. Avery”, to  ensure that their blog really represents the 6th grade class appropriately.  Mr. Avery reminds his students how important it is to not disclose their personal details on the blog, and to only blog about relevant topics.

 

2. 3/4c @ the Junction    http://tjps34c.edublogs.org/

Similarly, this year 3/4 blog fits the same criteria. This blog is cheerfully bright and colourful with a vast array of videos and photos of what the year 3/4s have been up to. The headings are concise and give a direct explanation of what has been happening during the week.  What I found very useful was the use of videos on the class’ blog to show what they had been up to in drama.  Similar to the “guidelines” mentioned in the previous blog, this year 3/4 class discusses the values their school models themselves on, and has shown how they have incorporated those values in their learning experiences. The blog has a huge variety of tags as well, which makes it a lot easier to organize their blog topics. Tags are key, and something that I definitely need reminding of. Another positive feature about this blog is the student involvement; the blog includes videos created by the students who provide information about their blog and about how the school year is going. Involvement of teachers, students and other students around the world is key in the blogging world. This blog also provides us with links to other year groups’ blogs, which in turn really works on building the blogging community even more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using digital & media technologies in the classroom

Reading Barone and Wright’s (2008) article on ‘literacy instruction with digital and media technologies’ in The reading teacher, I came across a number of great activities for teachers wanting to introduce technology into their classroom. These activities  will encourage a high level of engagement and understanding in the classroom.  The article (Barone & Wright 2008) demonstrates how incorporating technology in the classroom can just as effectively aid students in developing their knowledge and understanding of content through the use of digital media technologies as traditional teaching methods.

The following activities were explored in Barone and Wright’s (2008) article;

1. MORNING SPONGE

This is an activity that can be conducted at the beginning of the day/lesson. Students will go online and check the day’s “morning sponge”.  The aim of this activity is to keep students engaged as teachers check in on each individual student (Barone & Wright, 2008,p.295).  For example, Barone and Wright (2008) describe a scenario in Wright’s classroom whereby the morning sponge is centred on ‘vocabulary’. Students can then search a particular word using the online thesaurus. Then using a word processing document; write a sentence using the particular word, and use a drawing application to create a drawing of this word as well. The activity demonstrates the ‘hybridity evident in new literacies documents, where students use word processing, drawing, or music in a single document’ (Barone & Wright 2008,p. 295). Morning sponge exposes students to the various ways they can represent their understanding of a term or phrase and by encouraging students to find the definition of a word, include that word in a sentence and represent that word in a drawing, students are gaining a far deeper understanding and engagement with the text.

2. INSTANT MESSAGING (IM)

Instant messaging during learning activities gives students the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions, however, only amongst a small groups of students. In the case of Barone and Wright (2008), instant messaging is used as a medium of communication between two students, more specifically to; think, pair, share.  By enabling students the opportunity to discuss their thoughts with a buddy, and not aloud, it removes any apprehensions students may have to talking aloud in front of the class.  Barone and Wright (2008)argue that this type of communication enables ‘deeper comprehension and fosters engagement'(p.295). Personally, looking back at myself as a primary student, I would have been far more engaged in learning activities if I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts with only a few of my peers and not the whole class. By encouraging conversation through IM , students are given the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills by asking questions, suggesting ideas and arguing their points of view in a safe environment.

3. WRITING FIX (www.writingfix.com)

This resource is incredibly useful for teachers wanting to provide students with interactive prompts for writing tasks online. Barone and Wright (2008) explain how in Wright’s classroom scenario, students were set a ‘quickwrite’ task (rough draft of a writing piece) – tell us about your imaginary friend, however, some students were struggling with adding enough description and content to their piece. Consequently, Wright instructed students to visit the writing fix page to aid in elaborating on their initial writing ideas.  Writingfix  prompts students with questions about their imaginary friend in regards to colour, shape, size etc.  After collecting enough description, students were then able to attempt the quickwrite again.  This method provides every student with the opportunity to develop their writing at their own rate, without having to wait for teacher assistance. Ultimately, it allows for the classroom teacher to  focus their efforts on discussing the additional language features of the students’ text, ie. grammar, use of language, structure, fluency etc.,  rather than on what content should be included.

References:

Barone, D., & Wright, T. E. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-302

Critical Thinkers

I thoroughly enjoyed this video!
The video uses BP’s “environmental friendly” video to highlight to kids how important it is to ask questions about whatever you see the internet. Why? How? What was the authors intent? Are they they telling the truth? Whats really going on? The video explores the idea of ‘green washing’ by discussing BP’s choice of bright colours, happy babies and cheerful music, in order to draw away from the true facts about how they run their business. The puppets in this video encourage students to think critically and be wary of what is available online. This is becoming increasingly important as the internet plays a huge role in children’s lives at home and at school nowadays.

New Literacies?

I suppose the first place to start would be to explain my initial thoughts on the term ‘literacy’. Personally, I think of literacy or being literate as being able to read and write. Taking this into consideration, perhaps new literacies involves those same abilities but with the addition of a shift in focus to new technology. Houtman (2013) explains that new literacies involve having the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing, speaking, handwriting, print, tv, radio and films to digital social networks. A statement I came across while reading; new literacy “what it means to be literate in the 21st century”, in my opinion, explains it quite accurately (Houtman 2013).

What we consider literacy to be nowadays appears to change on a daily basis, as we experience the rapid transformations technology goes through on a daily basis. Houtman (2013) explores the idea that new literacies are continuously transforming with technology. In saying that, Lankshear & Knobel (2012,p.45) explain that it is much more than just a focus on literacy forms in regards to technology but that it should be acknowledged as an “historical period of social, cultural, institutional, economic and intellectual change that is likely to span many decades”. Their idea of new literacies still involves a transformation, however, more specially, new literacies will cease to be “new” once the social ways characterizing the ascending paradigm are considered “conventional” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2012,p.46)

What I can take away from what I have read, is that it is considerably difficult to pin point exactly what new literacies are, but that it involves changes in social and cultural practices, and ultimately once something is considered ‘conventional’ it is no longer new and potentially replaced with something else. Is facebook is no longer considered a new literacy? And twitter?

 

References:

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/ Accessed March 20th, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from http://everydayliteracies.net/files/RemixTeknokulturaEnglish.pdf Accessed March 20th, 2014