Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Very First Podcast Successfully Loaded!

Or not.... :-(

Effectively Using Computers in the Classroom

Although technology has clearly brought a large number of positive effects into education, technology has also brought considerable challenges.  I watched my 12 year old find one website and copy and paste the information she got off there for her research report! I asked her if she knew about plagiarism she said 'yes - of course - I am going to change the words around'.  I then asked her about researching other websites, finding other sources, and she maintained she had all the information she needed from the one website.  I found a great book Carolyn Thorsen- Techtactics: Technology for teachers.  The book focuses on the word processor, database, spreadsheet, Internet and hypermedia software tools that all classrooms with computers have.  Thorsen, (2006) discusses on how it is important to teach students how to acquire, process and present information better using the computer as a tool, rather than only teach computer skills.   She also mentions triangulation: finding three sources from different organisations to confirm the facts, (Thorsen, 2006).

Another great article was about the cut-and-paste culture by Jamie McKenzie (2008). He proposes that teachers eliminate those classroom practices that encourage and promote such lazy thinking as cutting and pasting information, and replace them with activities that are more challenging and more worthwhile. He further states that it is critical to encourage students make up their own minds and do their own thinking; to support students to build their own answers based on both research and their informed opinions. McKenzie (2008) proposes that questions should require “the collection and weighing of evidence to substantiate a well considered judgment. Such comparison challenges the student at the top of Bloom's Taxonomy - the skill of evaluation.” So rather than studying a particular person, students could look at four influential people and select who they consider the most influential and give evidence why, (McKenzie, 2008). This method of researching demands more from the students than the usual copy-and-paste method. Regardless of the additional work involved, students are much more likely to actually absorb the information efficiently, and ultimately use the skills learned in their everyday lives (McKenzie, 2008). For more in-depth information about what Jamie McKenzie writes please visit: From Now On 

I think for me one of the most important things have I learnt, is that as a teacher, it is imperative to pave the way for students to successfully use computers in the classroom.  With the knowledge I have gained, I feel a lot more confident that I will be able to use computers to enhance learning.  Aside from the usual publishing, I look forward to: setting up wiki's for students to work together in a cooperative manner; creating blogs - so that students can reflect on and record their learning; using podcasting to assist with reading and speeches; using Wordle as a another way to find out about students at the beginning of the year.  I have enjoyed the readings and found many books during the research I conducted that I will be able to refer to in the coming years. Thank you to Tony for making me aware of 'Digistore' on the TKI website (on the online tutorial).  I had a look and there is some great stuff on there.  The use of ICT in the classroom does appear to be time-consuming, however I believe that if expectations are set at start of the school year, and are purposeful, productive and progressive, the possibilities are endless.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Wordle - posted with the help of Sarah :-)

Wordle: Meghan Wood WORDLE

With the help of Sarah I was able to display my Wordle in stead of the link. Looks great - not sure how to make it bigger, but I think most of the words are readable (never used that word before - readable - sounds wrong, but it is a word).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Assignment Two

After much chopping and changing, I am going with a proposal to colleagues to integrate social studies and ICT/computers into a unit of work for year 7.

The decision to design a the proposal is something I intend to undertake in my own classroom next year. I believe it can be adapted according to the year level. My proposal has been designed to address the issues, and highlight the need for better computer use in the classrooms and to teach social studies more effectively. A really interesting reading by Zandvliet (2006) focused on the fact that the computer is generally not being used to its full potential to enable student learning. He maintains that the use of computers in the classroom tends to be limited to small groups of teachers who are excited by the potential they they feel technology has to motivate their students. I feel like I am one of those teachers that are excited about the possibilities, but also somewhat concerned that I won't be able to effectively manage it. Throughout my research I did come across several books that offer fairly basic concepts and manageable opportunities.

Integrating Technology Into Teaching by Arthur Recesso and Chandra Orrill is one of them. The book has so much to offer and can link the computer to all aspects of teaching - including software programmes for physical education. There is so much software out there - I guess it is all about knowing where to find it.

It is also about using the tools that are currently available, and using them correctly and meaningfully. For instance YouTube - a powerful tool for learning. Teachers would obviously have to ensure that all the correct procedures were followed (including cybersafety, etc). As part of my proposal I suggested focusing about an influential person - from various eras. As a child I still remember learning about people like Florence Nightingale. A woman who made a huge difference to the world and to the health system we know today.

There is a video on YouTube about Florence Nightingale and it would be a great example to show students how to integrate across the curriculum. Although very informative, it is difficult to read the words, some of the images are jumpy, Using the one video teachers and students could explore so many areas including presentation, audience, and so on. Students would learn in an enjoyable and engaging manner, which would also promote Inquiry learning - which many schools seem to be focusing on now.
I attached the URL if anyone is interested in having a look.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Assignment 2 is progressing really slowly

It all makes sense in my head, but as soon as I try to articulate what I intend to do, it falls apart. I think I may need to seek help with this :-(

Deciding to do Honours was very last minute for me (I enquired about it on the last day of application) and I jumped into it without much thought. In a way I don't feel like I mentally prepared myself - just never seem to catch up with what I want to do!

I was excited about a couple of the subjects that were available - including the e-learning paper - but not overly impressed with the two options for the dissertation. I was coerced to do the Social Studies Education one - which focused on the declining popularity of social studies as a subject in the New Zealand Curriculum (also world wide trend). I decided to do my Research paper - Edprofst 756 on ICT and computers and the lack thereof in the classroom (instead of halving my work load by doing social studies like my astute friends also doing the Honours degree).

The research on both of these topics gave me insight into the classroom. I decided it would be useful to combine the two areas that are generally underdeveloped in the classroom into an integrated unit of work. I just can't seem to get going.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


When you don't know how to do something it always seems so intimidating.  Podcasting is one of those things.  I had seen/heard them on school websites but never really found out how they were done.

I have recently been upgraded to a Mac as they are meant to be unbreakable -or so my husband maintains   (for some reason, computers don't tend to last long around me - neither do batteries) - so have had the pleasure of working on a new computer.  My youngest daughter Caity - showed me how to use Garageband and 'Voila!'  I had my first podcast - although somewhat short and sweet was made by me.  The only problem is now that I am unable to successfully upload it onto my blog.

It was interesting learning about podcasting and I enjoyed reading the articles by Nicolls (2008) and Burt (2008).  In her article Podcasting and Oral Language, Nicolls, (2008) and how podcasting took oral language to a whole new level.  How it encouraged students to not only speak loudly and clearly, but also to consider appropriate language and how to be sensitive to cultures, as well as make their message appealing to people in other countries. It was then that I realised the whole 'Global Village' notion and the potential of using computers in schools.  Being an immigrant myself I thought of the number of other students who would be able to post their work on a computer and relatives in another part of the world would be able to view it and possibly give feedback or comments.

Dorothy Burt's article The Lure of Podcasting, discussed the podcasting project she was involved in Korero Pt England.  The project is bsed around students reading New Zealand fiction and presenting their book reviews to a global audience.  The posts are very entertaining and you can see how much the students enjoy doing it.  Burt (2008) further discusses the need to investigate ways in which to raise student reading outcomes.  The study conducted found that while there are aspects of podcasting that may intrinsically raise student achievement, particularly the speaking and listening components, it is the way that podcasting is used that makes the difference.

The website is great if you want to check it out.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Digital Immigrant or Digital Native?

I really enjoyed the article by Marc Prensky, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.  However, I found myself half amused but also somewhat insulted as I technically fall into the 'immigrants' category, but consider myself more of a 'native'.  I have spent almost half my life surrounded by computers, digital music players, cell phones, the Internet and email.  I am able to listen to music and work at the same time, and can operate high tech photography equipment.  I have been known to phone to see if an email has been received from time to time - usually because there hasn't been a reply.   So although us 'older folk' were "socialised" differently from our kids, not all 'older folk' should be deposited into the same category.  What about those who are almost on the same page as our teenage kids and in some instances even more up to date?!

Prensky (2001) also mentions that bringing people physically into the office to see an interesting website or email instead of sending them the URL - is a common trait of an an immigrant.  My first reaction to that was "What if people want to share the experience and chat about it?"  Yes, they could comment via email, but what about face-to-face contact?  The "break down of society" is often mentioned as people interact more with 'computers' and computerised systems, and less with people on a daily basis.
While I believe computers are definitely the 'way forward' I feel strongly about human interaction too.

I guess it is all about getting balance.  I do agree that students are not the same as they used to be - how could they be though?  Times are changing at a faster pace than ever.   I think that teachers do need to adapt their practice to better provide for todays' students, but not at the expense of teaching good old things like manners, values and general knowledge.