I have changed my lesson plans for tomorrow to include http://www.wallwisher.com/ that Kelly Hines spotlighted in her Little Kids, Big Possibilities presentation at the K-12 Online Conference. We are studying matter and the states of matter in science. I am going to divide the kids into groups of three and give each group a computer. I have 4 laptops and 3 desktops. I will appoint a computer driver for each one and that child will input the information. For my students doing this with a random draw works best because they feel it is fair. Once a student’s name is drawn it can’t go back in the draw until all students have a turn.
First I will challenge them to reflect over the hands on activities we completed last week, and write up their observations on the sticky notes. Next we will organize that information into a tree graph. Then students will be reorganized into hands on groups with our computer people evenly distributed. Over the week the students will complete different activities and answer research questions about states of matter. They will post their findings to the wall adding to the tree map.
I am worried as my class racks up hits on the site, it might come to the attention of networking and be blocked just based on traffic. I have an e-mail started and saved that shows how wall wisher meets our educational goals. I will add screen shots of the process to make my argument stronger.
Wall Wisher can make two methodologies our staff development department advocates much easier to use in a classroom. The first is thinking maps. The whole class can create an online thinking map using the post it notes. Since thinking maps are the main graphic organizers we use this is important. Another technique our staff development department wants us to use jigsaw. Well Wisher can make jigsawing much easier. Each group can post their information to Wall Wisher, and the whole group can organize it into a thinking map.
I need to work harder to make sure that I’m making sure my students are thinking and not just copying me. I need to make sure they are processing the information and making it their own. 5th grade and 4th grade projects are on the right track.
I think the third grade project is definitely facilitating learning and problem solving. They are figuring out how to separate the items in the mixture using the properties they discovered. They will be communicating this information via a podcast – once we have dealt with the Successmaker situation.
My 1st grade project needs more work to be facilitating learning. The 2nd grade project, can get there with a little tweaking.
Active Learning – People learn by doing things, making mistakes and correcting them. The example given is that kids don’t subject themselves to lectures and tests on physics before playing sandlot ball. The book example does make the sandlot game seem more organic than it really is. The kids do have some background knowledge of the rules, and older kids do show younger kids the basics. Kids don’t naturally know how to stand in the batter’s box. Even after being shown, I still held my hands backwards. I do think that adults’ attempts to make every child successful at everything the first time, is hurting our kids. They need to learn to fall on their rears, get up, dust themselves off, and try again.
Constructive – Students need to explain what they observer and how that fits in with what they already understand. Repeated reflection and restating what they understand and questioning what they do not understand will result in deeper understanding.
Intentional – Students need to have a goal for learning, something personal not just passing the TAKS Test. In the past technology has been used to meet the needs of teachers not students. We need to use technology to meet student goals.
Authentic – Teachers tend to remove the problem from the real world application. We are in such a hurry to “cover the curriculum” that we give them the algorithm with no context. This is especially true at a school like mine, where the students’ background knowledge is so limited.
Cooperative – Every teaching text I read promotes cooperative learning as natural for humans. Thing is I constantly hear complaints from students and parents that they hate cooperative learning activities, that the good students are carrying the poor students, or having to take over teaching responsibilities. I do need to bounce ideas off other people and talk things out – but those are people I seek out. If we let kids choose their groups – the thorny kid is always left out. That leads to bullying. I am going to try and have more fluid groups this year. Each student will have his/her own project, but given the chance to work with other kids while creating the project. Sometimes I will group them randomly – like with the 2nd graders creating their own constellations. That worked great – Only one argument out of 6 classes. Sometimes I will just open the floor, do X if you have a problem check with a neighbor first to see if you can solve it together. Long term groups don’t seem to work very well for my projects, especially with this group of 5th graders.
This year our principal is having each team do their own book study. The specials team received permission to do different books and share them. We have 5 different disciplines (PE, Library, Art, Music, and Technology) and 5 different personalities/needs. Thank you Principal for letting us use books that will help us individually.
I’ve chosen Meaningful Learning with Technology. Here is my pre-reading circle map and response to a question at the end of the chapter.
Can you learn to cook merely from watching cooking shows on television? What meaning do you make from the experiences that you observe? Will the experience you have when you prepare a dish be the same as the television chef? How will it be different?
No, I cannot learn to cook merely from watching cooking shows on television. The shows are interesting and occasionally will prompt me to buy the chef’s cook book. For me I can learn to make some items from a recipe. Other times I need a real person to demonstrate a technique.
My experience will not be anything like the television chef. It will be completely different, because I do not have an entire team of helpers behind the scenes helping to prepare the meal.
I’m continuing my reading log of The Children in Room E4.
I’ve used the thumbnail of my mutliflow map click on it to view it full sized.
Again the biggest difference between my students and Jeremy is the violence. Thankfully we don’t have the street violence around my school. Though the administration does worry about us staying late or coming in early. There are teachers afraid to walk in the apartments, but I’ve never understood why.
The being raised by grandma and aunts because parents are in jail – that we have way to often. The mentally disabled parents we have also. Some of our teachers went to school with our parents, some of our teachers taught our parents. Every once in a while a teacher will give you a heads up that Mom or Dad are MR. We also have a couple of parents with other mental/emotional problems including schizophrenia, chronic depression, and mood disorder. We have one family were the parents and the children have all been diagnosed with mood disorder. But the parents are willing to get help for the kids, so we are lucky there.
Our 4th graders have 2 classmates with diagnoses of some type of mood disorder. Both students are upfront about it and talk openly about what has happened to them. They aren’t picked on very often and there is a circle of grade leaders that will stand up for them if someone does start.
The graphs I’m using are called Thinking Maps. It is a program my campus is using.