Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Importance of Technology in the Classroom

The use of technology in our world is becoming more and more prominent. People interact with technology in countless ways during the typical day. It is becoming extremely difficult to function in society without at least a novice understanding of technological tools. One area where technology is becoming extremely significant is in the classroom. During my experience in my Instructional Technology class, I learned just how valuable technology can be to a K-12 teacher. There are many benefits to incorporating technology into classroom lessons. There are also some challenges that it presents.

The use of technology in the classroom is so significant because it serves as a means for reaching a generation that is completely immersed in it. Technology is such a large part of children's lives today that it is necessary to use components of it to keep students engaged and involved in a lesson. The simple use of lectures and books is not enough to keep the typical student interested in this day in age. Also, technological tools allow teachers to have a much larger and more diverse arsenal of teaching tools, so that they may keep their lessons fresh and cater to all different types of learners.

The use of technology in the classroom provides a host of benefits to both the teacher and the students. The amount of lesson options that tools such as computer programs, the Internet, SmartBoards, and video cameras open up is incredible. As I previously stated, all of these tools allow for the teacher to create a wide variety of lessons in which students can learn in a wide variety of ways. Technology can also blur the line between classroom work and out-of-the-classroom work. Through use of Internet tools such as wikis and other Web 2.0 features, students can pick up work at home right where they left off in the classroom. The Internet is also a great method for interaction between the students and the teacher as well as between students when outside of the classroom. Technological training will also help prepare students for work outside of the classroom, as competency in software such as Microsoft office is essential in many career fields.

The use of technology in the classroom also poses some challenges to students and teachers. Technological tools are always prone to glitches and breakdowns that could completely ruin a lesson if they occur at the wrong time. Students will also inevitably have different levels of competency in using the tools that they are asked to in the classroom. This provides the teacher with a dilemma of how much time to use teaching the students how to use the technology. Furthermore, access to technology outside of the classroom varies between students. This can inhibit the amount of technology-based work that students are able to do for homework. The amount of tools that schools are able to provide teachers with also varies, which can effect plans that a teacher may have to integrate technology into the classroom. These challenges must be accounted for by the teacher when for technology use.

I will take several important lessons away from my experience in the Instructional Technology class. First, I learned the value and countless functions that technology can provide in the classroom. Second, I learned that technology is most effective when geared toward student-centered lessons. Third, I learned that preparation is extremely significant when incorporating technology into lesson plans, so it insure that everything will run smoothly during a lesson. Overall, this class was a very valuable experience for an aspiring teacher.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Video in the Classroom Scenario

This goal of this project is to make a video that describes one of the regions that we have discussed this year. This video should focus both on the physical and cultural features of the assigned region. Videos should be 10-15 minutes long.

Content Area: Social Studies (Geography)

Grade Level: 11

Before the project begins, the teacher will likely have to spend a class or at least part of one reviewing some of the basics on how to use a video camera and video editing software. Students will also need to be broken into groups and groups will need to have a world region assigned to them.

Some of the challenges that will be faced in this project include technology issues and group work issues. Technology can always be unpredictable and certain students may not be proficient in using the technology. This could cause difficulties for or even ruin the projects of some groups. Another issue is group work. Group work can cause problems because certain students may end up doing the majority of the work while others do little. Since some of this work will likely have to be completed outside of the classroom, meeting times for groups may also be an issue. To combat these issues, I will take time to go over the basics of technology in hopes of avoiding technological issues. Also, I will assign certain tasks to each student in the group so that all students will be held accountable for certain amounts of work. Finally, I will urge students to talk to me if they are having trouble meeting outside of class so that we may work out a solution.


  1. Camera/video editing technology reviewed 
  2. Groups assigned
  3. Regions assigned to groups.
  4. Group research period (3 days)
  5. Group filming period (3 days)
  6. Group editing period (3 days)
  7. Class presentations (1 day)

Video Project Reflection

The video project that we recently completed in class was an effective method for teaching us how to use Windows Movie Maker Live and other tools involved in the creation of videos. We did many things well through the process of creating the video, but we also had some things that we could improve upon the for the next time.

For the most part, things worked out well in our video. The story-boarding and filming both went relatively well. We were able to write the lines for the video and film it in a relatively efficient manner. The editing of the video also went very well. The shots that we took with the camera all fit together nicely. We used screen transition effects to aid the smooth transition between shots. The editing and posting process also went along with no hitches or issues.

The thing that could have been improved for our video was just the organization. While most aspects of the filming and production went very well, we were sometimes operating without a very well-structured plan. This could have been a source of issues in our project. Luckily, we did not encounter any such issues this time around.    

The next time I do a project like this, I will focus more on the planning and organization of the video. I will make sure that I have a more explicit and well written-out plan. I will also try to locate my filming locations before I began filming, as we had to change our location several times. This will help ensure the smooth production of the video.

This project has helped me develop skills in both the filming and the production of videos. I now feel more comfortable using a video camera and it's functions. I also am more aware of how to find optimal lighting to make the video quality turn out nicely. This project made me aware of the features that Windows Movie Maker Live has to offer as well and I now feel comfortable making videos on it.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Photoshop is an extremely popular and widely used computer program. One place that it can be used is in the classroom.

I had personally never used Photoshop before, so almost everything was new to me. The program offered a host of tools that I had never used on any other type of software. An especially interesting and unique feature were the filters, which allowed for a host of different effects to be made on an original picture. It was also the first time that I had the experience of shaving a picture for use on the web.

I would certainly consider using Photoshop to make classroom materials. The variety of features allows for the creation of exciting and eye-catching classroom graphics and decorations that would stand out from the generic-looking graphics found in most classrooms. Furthermore, graphics could be created for use on a personal teacher web site or to be sent home to parents using the "Save for Web & Devices" feature.

This project has taught me a lot about using images on the web. I learned how to make images the correct size and resolution so that it will be able to be viewed on the Internet. This was an important lesson to learn now, rather than when I am teaching and have issues putting images on the web. In a more general sense, this project also taught me about all of the incredible things that can be done to images before they are uploaded to the Internet.

I believe that it would be useful to teach Photoshop in the school system, but only in art related classes. Students who are interested in the arts can get a great deal of use out of the features that the program offers. It would be especially useful for photography-related classes, as the program is based around editing photos.While Photoshop can be applied to other disciplines, the amount of class time that would be required to teach students how to use it would far outweigh the benefits. There are simpler and quicker-to-teach programs that students could use to make the simple graphics that most other disciplines would require students to make.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excel as a Classroom Tool

Microsoft Excel is a very powerful program that can be used in many different types of work. One of the places where its features can be best exploited are in the classroom. There are a number of ways that the functions of the Excel program can effectively used in an educational setting.

Here are some example lessons that integrate Excel into a social studies curriculum in a secondary school classroom:

  1. When learning about the electoral process, students could conduct opinion polls by surveying classmates and other people outside of school. Once this is completed the students can enter the information that they gather into a table using Excel. Once their table is complete, they can using the graphing tools on the program to make a pie chart that compares people's opinions on issues that are significant to the upcoming election. (NETS-S Standard: 3b - Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media)
  2. When learning about bubonic plague, the teacher could provide students with annual population totals for a specific area that was effected by the plague. The students could enter this information into a table in Excel. Then, using the graphing tools, the students can create a line graph that traces the population of the given country through the duration of the plague. (NETS-S Standard:  3d - Process data and report results)
  3. When learning about the Holocaust, students could use the filtering tools on Excel to sort through Holocaust records that the teacher would provide. The students would be provided with a pre-made spreadsheet containing the records and could use the tools to help them locate specific people or specific camps. They could fill out a worksheet asking them to find specific things within the records. (NETS-S Standard: 3d - Process data and report results)    
  4. When learning about World War II, students could make a bar graph for the total causalities that each country suffered. The students would be provided with the death tolls for each country and put the figures into a table. They would then use the graphing feature to create a bar graph that compares the casualty totals that each country suffered. (NETS-S Standards:  3d - Process data and report results) 
  5. When teaching economics, students could create spreadsheets that track the profits of a company. They could break the chart down  by month. They could enter gross income in one column of the table and expenses in the next one. After this, they would enter a formula in the next column, making the number in the cells equal to the gross income for that month minus the expenses for the month. The students could then create a line graph to chart the profits. (NETS-S Standards: 3d - Process data and report results)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Copyright for Teachers

Copyright laws are an ever-growing issue in our world today. It is especially important for teachers to follow these laws. Lessons offer numerous opportunities for teachers to violate copyright laws if they are not careful and well-informed.

I learned a lot in my recent exploration of copyright laws. Copyrights protect the original work of the inventor of a product. The inventor must apply to have their product copyrighted. Once a copyright is attained, it will last for a lifetime plus an additional 70 years. Copyrights can come into effect, even in a classroom setting. It is technically illegal for a teacher to use copyrighted material (such as videos, movies, or other original works) in lessons. There is a clause in copyright laws for "fair use," which allows teachers to use copyrighted material as long as they can make the argument that they only used the minimum amount of the copyrighted material that was necessary. One aspect of copyright laws that really surprised me was the ambiguity of the laws. Similar copyright cases that have been taken to court have received different rulings based on different interpretations of the laws.

I have seen copyright laws violated in the classroom before. I have seen teachers use videos, movies, and images in their lessons year after year without having any type of license for to use them. Outside of the classroom, I have been aware of countless numbers of people who have downloaded music for free off of the Internet. Although the music downloading is a more publicized type of copyright violation, both are still illegal.  

As a teacher, I think it is important to make students aware of copyright laws. We have increasingly less privacy in this information age and law violations are becoming easier to uncover. The future will certainly see increasing numbers of copyright violation accusations. A teacher can help students understand copyright laws without taking too much time out of the class period. Teachers should do their best to follow copyright procedures and explain to their students how and why they are doing so. For example, if a teacher obtains a license to show a movie in their class, they could take a minute to explain why it is important to have a license for showing a movie in school, how to do it, and what the consequences might be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Interactive Whiteboards

Interactive whiteboards are one of the hottest new teaching tools. Using a projection system that creates a touch-screen, the teacher is able to have all of the capabilities of a whiteboard and a computer in one tool. It can be used in a variety of ways to enhance classroom instruction and interactive learning.

The interactive whiteboard can enhance teaching and learning in many ways. It allows teachers to combine traditional note-taking and interactive activities on the same tool in an efficient manner. This will benefit teachers because it gives them the opportunity to reach more students with different learning styles. The use of interactive activities, videos, and demonstrations that the interactive whiteboard offers allows for more student involvement and a more diverse arsenal of teaching tools for the teacher. Students will benefit from this because they will be more involved in their own learning and, through the diverse teaching tools the interactive whiteboard offers, have their learning style fulfilled. Teachers and students also benefit from the computer capability of the interactive whiteboard because it allows from the publishing of lessons that were taught in class on the internet. This will allow students who were not in class to have access to them. The student will benefit from this because they will not fall too far behind in class and the teacher will benefit from this because they will be able to keep all students on the same page and up to date with the material.  

While the SMART Board software was different than any other program that I have used before, it was not overly difficult to learn to use. The tools were generally straight-forward and easy to use. While they were easy, they went a long way in enhancing my lesson. The straight-fowardness of the tools (such as the "Magic Pen") also was beneficial because I could let students use them at the board during my lesson.

There are both pros and cons to having an interactive whiteboard in your classroom.

  • Gives the teacher an incredible amount of teaching tools
  • Consolidates the number of technological devices needed in the classroom
  • Class notes can easily be made accessible outside of the classroom through online documents

  • The're expensive! You have to be careful not to break or damage them
  • Some teachers won't be able to use the software properly
  • Just as any computer, they are subject to bugs and viruses 

Here are some lessons that I have personally taught that could make use of interactive whiteboards:

  • Pearl Harbor - I could have used the whiteboard to pull up a Youtube video of Franklin Roosevelt's speech.
  • Lines of Longitude and Latitude - I could have made an interactive map where people could find specific locations on the map. 
  • The Calvin Coolidge Presidency - I could have made a matching exercise to help students learn the important people of that era.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Software for the Teacher

We recently spent time working with the software programs Microsoft Word, Inspiration, and Microsoft Publisher. Our goal in working with these programs was to use them in ways that could be applied to the classroom. Through the use of Microsoft Word I created a quiz, a flyer, and a newsletter that could be used in a school setting. I also used inspiration to create graphic organizer that could be used as a teaching tool. The effective use of these programs can help a teacher create effective school-related tools in an efficient manner.

Being an aspiring teacher, learning how to use Microsoft Word, Inspiration, and Microsoft Publisher was a valuable experience. By gaining a deeper understanding of these three programs, I will be able to expand the types of documents and tools that I have at my disposal in my classroom. Having a comfort level with these programs will also save me time in my first first few years of teaching, when I will be creating many of my classroom tools.

Of the programs used, I believe that Microsoft Word will be the most helpful. While Inspiration and Publisher have a nice list of features, Word has the greatest level of versatility and applicability to the classroom. It can be used to create all kinds of different documents. The list of features in the program allows for the documents to be as plain or as decorative as the person making the document wants. Word is excellent for creating everything from short memos to multi-page newsletters. It for the creation of many different documents through one program, instead of having learn a variety of different programs.

I can already think of many ways that these programs will help me as a teacher. These include:

  • Well-organized tests created on Word will make be easy to take and to grade
  • Homework assignments and class handouts can also be quickly and easily created using words
  • Graphic organizers created on Inspiration will serve as effective visual teaching tools
  • Graphic organizers from Inspiration with words blanked out can be used as assessment tools
  • Group work/note taking tools that can be distributed to students can be created using Inspiration
  • Publisher can be used to create newsletters that can be distributed to the class to keep students up to dates on assignments, tests, and other important class functions

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inspiration, PLNs, and Social Bookmarking

Inspiration, Personal Learning Networks, and Social Bookmarking are three technological tools that can be very useful in the classroom.

The program Inspiration can be used as both an instructional tool and a productivity tool. It can be used in a verity of functions in a social studies classroom. Because of all of the functions that it can serve in the classroom, I believe that it is worth purchasing.

Examples of Instructional Tools:

  1. Create a pyramid of the ancient Egyptian social hierarchy.
  2. Create a progression chart of the succession order for president of the United States.
  3. Re-create the pyramid of the hierarchy of needs.
  4. Create a family tree for King Henry VIII.
  5. Create a chart showing the progression of United States presidents. 
Examples of Productivity Tools:
  1. Have students create a Venn diagram comparing geographical features of North American to Europe.
  2. Have students create a concept web for the branches of  the United States government. 
  3. Have students create a chart ranking the reasons for the fall of Rome. 
  4. Have students create a timeline of the American Revolution. 
  5. Have students create a flow chart of the people and events that led from World War I to World War II. 
When used as an instructional tool, Inspiration will allow the teacher to create clear and concise presentations and examples for the class. The students will like these Inspiration-generated graphics, as they present an alternative to reading to learn the material. When used as a productivity tool, it will allow for an alternative to written assignments that many students, especially those who struggle with writing, will find enjoyable. It will also improve the computer skills of students. 

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)
Personal Learning Networks are popular tools in education. These used to consist of human resources (such as teachers)  that students could go to with questions, however, online PLNs are becoming increasingly popular. They provide ways for people with similar academic interests to collaborate with one another without even having met before. Some popular PLNs include Facebook, Twitter, and Diigo. On these websites, people can create free profiles and have the ability to post information that can be made available to everyone else who has an account on these sites. 

As a current student, I have a personal learning network that I use in my field of study. It consists of both online and offline elements. 

  • Other students at my school
  • Professors
  • Cooperating Teachers
  • Moodle
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Diigo
This PLN gives me the ability to collaborate with others on the topics of education and history. I can talk to other students that are taking the same classes or have the same major as me. I can also meet with my professors if I have questions. If I have education-specific questions, I can talk to cooperating teachers with whom I've done observation time. If these sources are not sufficient, I can go to the Internet and have a world worth of resources at my fingertips. Moodle is a source that allows me to easily communicate with other students at my school over the Internet (this can be easier than tracking down a student on campus, especially at a big school). Facebook and Twitter can direct me to pages and people that have specific information on the topic that I am looking for. Diigo gives me the ability to search through links that people have posted on the topic that I am interested in.  

Social Bookmarking
Social Bookmarking, like the other topics discussed in this article, can be an important tool in the classroom. It can be very effective in It can be used in a variety of effective ways. 

Examples of Ways to Use Social Bookmarking:
  1. Teacher can mark websites to use in a guided research project for students. 
  2. Students mark websites that pertain to the topic of study for the teacher and other students can view.
  3. Students can create an informal bibliography for projects that require some online research. 
  4. Teachers can mark websites that would be valuable to other teachers within the school or even in other schools. 
  5. Have students mark current events on news websites and discuss in class. 
There are a variety of ways that students can use Social Bookmarking for their own induividual benefit. It is an excellent tool for organizing Internet research. In a group project setting, it can also serve as an easy way for group members to share research. Students can also use the bookmarked websites of others to find information on a topic that they are researching by searching tags. Social Bookmarking sites, such as Diigo, can be a useful part of a PLN for a student. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blogs and Googledocs

Blogging in the Classroom
As technology becomes an increasingly lager part of our society, teachers must find ways to incorporate it into the classroom. One effective technological tool for learning is the blog. Blogging (short for web logging) is a way in which students can express their thoughts and opinions to the rest of the class. It is a helpful educational tool because it allows all students to respond to teacher questions and the thoughts of their classmates in an atmosphere that is not constrained by time like a normal class period. This allows all students an equal opportunity to make their voice heard by the teacher and their peers.

Some ways in which blogs can be used in the classroom are:

  • Having students post what they learned from a homework reading assignment
  • Having students post their research findings
  • Having an open blog where students may post any information that they come upon that is relevant to the class (possibly for extra credit)

There are definite advantages and disadvantages to using technology in the classroom.

  • Internet is a forum where all students may participate and have their opinions heard
  • Informal writing (in blogs and other online posts) students will embrace blogging more than essays
  • Gives students more experience working with computers/technology
  • Gives the teacher more resources to use in lessons
  • Students may not have Internet access or own the required technology
  • Informal writing habits may be carried into formal writing
  • Technology that is not functioning properly can ruin a lesson

Googledocs Word Processor

Googledocs Word Processor is a free word processor that can be used by anyone that has a Google account. It makes use of cloud computing, making documents available anywhere you can access your account. It contains many of the features that other popular word processors (such as Microsoft Word) have. Documents that are created on Googledocs may also be downloaded in many different forms (such as Word and PDF files) ans therefore can be saved to an individual computer.

One of the most popular features that Googledocs Word Processor possesses is the ability for collaborative work. Users may send Googledocs files that they are working on to other Google users. The other user may then edit or add too that document. This feature creates many new possibilities for group projects, as group members may work cooperatively without having to meet in person.

It is inevitable that a word processor that is gaining the popularity that Googledocs is will be compared to other popular word processors, most notably Microsoft Word. Listed below are some advantages and disadvantages of choosing Googledocs over Microsoft Word:

  • You can access your documents anywhere you can access your Google account. No need to carry around your laptop or flash drive
  • Allows for group work without the group having to meet
  • Continuous auto-save means you'll never lose your work
  • Works with any operating system
  • No need to buy new upgrades
  • Can have formatting issues when being converted to a Word file
  • The list of features is not as extensive as Word
  • Requires Internet access to use
  • Certain system requirements for Cloud Connect

Wednesday, February 1, 2012