Monday, February 19, 2007

Pre-Exposure from the Beginning

As an instructional technology specialist, I'm trying to figure out how instruction works best in the classroom given the students needs and the tools that are currently available to support instruction. Improving student learning and improving my pedagogy are always my goals whether we're using technology or not. The ideas I'm working through tonight are still in progress - just trying to think through the pedagogy, the tools and the application to a classroom situation. So...let's pretend this is a 5th grade classroom for example. Then, let's add to that some of the circumstances under which teachers can/do operate in my district.

There are 6 computers, a printer and an LCD projector in my classroom and I have access to a wireless laptop cart with 15 computers. There are a number of digital cameras in the building as well.

We begin our day with pre-exposure to the plans for learning for the day. Information access is important to our continued learning so the plans for the day have been outlined on our class start page and are projected onto a screen in the classroom as the students walk in. Students know that this is their first stop once they've taken care of their coats.

So what? Can't we do the same thing with notes on the board? Yes! But this serves as an ever present model for how we can organize and manage information and can be accessed by students at home. Tabs can be added to further organize any content. Under each tab we can add widgets as needed for quick access to RSS feeds, podcasts, or websites specific to what we're studying.

One student each day checks the start page where the current temperature is displayed and uses Excel to track the temperature and weather conditions. The temperatures for the week are converted to a bar graph which is saved throughout the year. These bar graphs are used for a number of math skills such as computing the weekly average and then monthly average. The bar graphs are saved so that we can use them to look at the trends in temperature across seasons which contributes to our learning in science when we talk about the earth's atmosphere and how various types of weather occur. Links under the Science tab take students to websites related to weather such as the Weather Channel, Weather Underground, a local TV station's site and other supporting information.

The other 5 computers are assigned to particular students each day and they can use them to check our RSS feeds to places such as the local news, Word of the Day or National Geographic. They can also explore the other tabs on our start page for specific content areas to see what webpages are currently being displayed or to further preview learning for the day such as this picture of the character web that will be done during our reading time today.

Additonal options for class start pages include:


Michelle C. said...

I must touch base with you on this! I really like this and your ideas!

Diane Quirk said...

You betcha! I'd love to show you any of these tools.