Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tool #6

I created a wall on Wallwisher. I like how easy this website is to use for both the teacher and the student. I could even see students creating their own questions for students to answer. I am trying to focus on centering my classroom around Big Questions and can see this as a way to see students thoughts and deeper understandings as we go through a unit.

Here is the example of the wall I created for the first Big Question of the school year.
What is the world made of?

I also created a discussion in Today's Meet. I think Today's Meet could be a great way for groups to discuss topics. And have the discussion run between class periods. I think it could be a great way to have communication and allowing more students to have a voice, espcially students that don't like to speak up in class. It could be interesting to save the dialogue all year and see how the class discussion evolves.

Here is my "class" I created.

Another site I am excited to try and use is VoiceThread. I think it will be a cool way to again encourage student feedback and discussion. I am looking forward to creating different VoiceThreads for the different units I will be teaching throughout the year. I think it will be a good way to encourage students to discuss graphs, experiments, videos and text.

RSA Animate and Drive

I have been reading a lot of books lately to help expand my mind and hopefully improve my teaching. I have been fascinated lately by books written by psychologist that are not necessarily education books but their findings have huge implication in the education world. Two of the books are Drive by Daniel Pink and Mindset by Carol Dweck. I will write more thoughts on these took books later but I wanted to share an RSA animation of Daniel Pink's talk about Drive. It is a great introduction into his book. I am also fascinated by RSA Animate. It is truly impressive.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tool #5

The first tool I used was Prezi. I am working on creating an Prezi to introduce the big 3 questions my year will revolve around in both AP and General Chemistry. It is not finished yet but I am enjoying learning the program. I am also excited about the capability of sharing it with others and having them edit it. I think it could be a neat way to create classroom brainstorming mind maps and then be able to see it in a slide show with the whole class. It could be a neat way to follow everybody's thinking. Here is the start of my Prezi slide show:

The second tool I used was Wordle. I could see this being useful to help students find a main idea in a reading. Here is a snap shot of my Wordle using a summary of Daniel Pink's book, Drive.
Wordle: Drive Summary by Daniel Pink

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tool #4

I have used Google Docs in several ways in the past. I have used it among colleagues to collaborate in a group setting and also when I have wanted feedback on something I am working on. I have also used the Googles Doc Form before to get feedback from colleagues on a new initiative we had started at Northbrook. In my classroom I used Google Docs presentation to create a class review slide show. Each pair created one of the slides and then we put them all together to create a class study guide. 

I plan to do more with Google Docs in the future. It was nice to have everything saved on the computer and accessed anywhere. I hope to explore more of the Apps available besides Docs, Blogger and Reader. I believe that it can be an instrumental tool in our classroom since all students have access to the apps.

Tool #3

1. YouTube is usually where I go to search for videos first. It is easy to navigate and familiar to me. I also like that Discovery Education has videos where you can just download segments of videos. Another website that I have  used videos from is NBC Learn, especially from Chemistry Now.

2. One of my goals next year is for my students to become more autonomous. For some students, I think access to videos over the content could be a helpful way for them to learn chemistry. A teacher who goes by the name Chemistry Guy has created many chemistry videos directed at general and AP chem. Many of them can be found on YouTube. This one is on atomic theory. One of our first AP chem topics.

Through his website (www.chemguy.com) you can also find access to his videos. Another resource like this would be Khan Academy. While I don't see these as a primary teaching method for the classroom, I see them as great supplements and extra resources for students. 

Another way I use videos is to show experiments or demos that are more dangerous. Though some can be done in the classroom, I sometimes get nervous. I need to create a safe demo environment so I can do some more live. 

3. I am still confused by the Copyright laws. But I think I have a basic understanding that if I don't impede the owners ability to make money from it and use small pieces of copyrighted material for teaching or critique I should be okay.

4. Creating a Dropbox account was very simple. I can see this as an easy way to share important files with students so the don't have to be in my classroom to get an extra copy. It can also become a way to reduce the amount of paper in my classroom and have students share files with me.

Thoughts on literacy...

When I began teaching at Northbrook High School four years ago, I entered a high school with a high percentage of English language learners in which I had the task of teaching chemistry to --a whole new language itself. With this new challege and a desire to give my students my best, my fascination and interest in literacy began. How could I as a chemistry teacher help students with both general English literacy and scientific literacy?

This summer my fascination continues and I have begun reading a book entitled, The Right to Literacy in Secondary Schools: Creating a Culture of Thinking. (It is edited by Suzanne Plaut.)

Here are a couple of her opening thoughts:
    "Our youth are truly free only when they are fully literate--when they are able to not only observe but comprehend, and not only comprehend but evaluate, or take a critical stance; when they can ask about the author's or source's bias and viewpoints, note which voices are silenced or discounted, examine issues from alternative perspectives, and take action on the basis of what they have learned (McLaughlin and DeVoogd, 2004). Then they can analyze, evaluate, critique and question text. 
    Adolescents have the right to such literacy. They have a right to schooling conditions that empower them to achieve it. And they have a right to what that literacy makes possible for them within and beyond school."

Again, I have only just begun reading but I am excited to continue reading and see what I comprehend, evaluate, critique and question as I go. I hope to increase my literacy to better foster literacy of my students in the upcoming school year.