Monday, November 8, 2010

Video Conferencing in the Classroom

Today, we had the opportunity to experience a video conference with the Royal Tyrrell Museum.  I was amazed at how well the technology worked in this particular situation.  Video conferencing is a technology that I have never really thought of using in the classroom.  Prior to this experience, I probably would have avoided using video conferencing for fear of ineffective technology.  I now know that video conferencing  has evolved to a point where the quality of the video mimics speaking to someone, or a group of people, in person.  I think it is a fabulous way to bring an expert into the classroom.  I say this because field trips are time consuming, require extensive planning and are expensive.  Having an expert come into a classroom also requires a lot of time and money.  A video conference provides students with an opportunity to talk to an expert while at the same time being time and cost effective for the teacher and the school.  Video conferencing also gives students access to experts and other people around the world that they would not otherwise have access to.

As a future educator, it is important that I understand how video conferencing works and what kind of sessions are appropriate for different grade levels.  Last class we were introduced to the three I's of video conferencing: Interaction, Innovation and Information.  It is important that educators choose video conferencing sessions that provide information that corresponds to course objectives, are presented in a way that students find engaging and are interactive so that students feel a connection to the material presented.

Video conferencing is not the only type of multimedia that can and should be used in the classroom.  Things that I found interesting in this weeks module were the effective use of video in the classroom and the online pig dissection.  I like the idea of using video in a classroom but the fact that students often view video watching as free time is somewhat discouraging.  Some pointers to avoid this are previewing material,  selecting appropriate clips and using the pause button to assess understanding and provide students with enough time to digest information.  I also really enjoyed the idea of dissecting a pig online rather than in person.  I was traumatized by rat dissection in high school biology.  If I had had an opportunity to do the dissection online, I would have been much more comfortable.  Doing the dissection online is also more cost and time effective than doing it in person (think: obtaining enough pigs for a class to dissect and the time required for clean up!)  I am now aware of a number of different technologies that are extremely useful in the classroom and cannot wait to use them in my teaching career.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Safety on the Web

I must say that this weeks assignment was an extremely disturbing one.  Because I am not that old, I used the internet often as an elementary, junior high and high school student.  Although this is the case, I feel so far removed from what young people are exposed to on the web today.  Doing the research for my mind map, I read about online marketing and pornography both aimed at young people or easily accessed by young people.  I also explored the threat of online predators, cyber bullying and privacy invasion.  Although the internet has made access to useful information much easier for students, it has also made access to children much easier for predators, bullies and individuals interested in using the identity of others.  

As a future educator, I am aware that I will have to deal with all of these problems at some point in time. The question is, what is the best way?  Educating children on the dangers of internet use BEFORE they are exposed to any of the aforementioned problems is key.  I, like many others, hope that through education, the ugly side of the internet will be tamed.  The internet is such a wonderful resource for information and communication that it is important that we find a safe way for students to use it.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Internet Search and Inquiry

Grade 6 Social Studies – Historical Models of Democracy

Students will work in groups of two to develop a PowerPoint presentation on the historical models of Democracy as seen in Ancient Athens and the Iroquois Confederacy.  Students will be required to use the Internet in order to gather information.  Although students will be provided with a number of specific websites that can be used for the assignment, they will need to use effective Internet searches in order to find additional information.

Review of Effective Internet searches:
Welcome to the Web. (2009).  Searching Online.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

General Learning Outcome (Found in the Alberta Program of Study):

Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the democratic principles exemplified by ancient Athens and the Iroquois Confederacy.

Specific Learning Outcomes (Found in the Alberta Program of Study):

Students will:
6.2.1 appreciate the relationship between the values of a society and the model of government adopted within a society
6.2.2 value the role of participation by citizens in diverse democratic societies
6.2.3 analyze the structure and functions of the democratic system in ancient Athens by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How was the government of ancient Athens structured?
How did the structure of the government in ancient Athens provide opportunities for citizens to participate in decision making?
How did the social structure of ancient Athens impact its political structure?
To what extent were democratic ideals of equity and fairness part of the structure of government and society in ancient Athens?
 6.2.4 analyze the structure and functions of the Iroquois Confederacy by exploring and
reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How was the Iroquois Confederacy structured?
How did the Six Nations use the consensus-building process?
How did the social structure of the Iroquois Confederacy impact its political structure?
To what extent did the decision-making process within the Iroquois Confederacy reflect democratic ideals of equity and fairness?

Online Resources:

Ancient Greece. (1996).  Athens.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

Big Orrin.  (2009).  Iroquois Indian Fact Sheet.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

History for Kids.  (2009).  Democracy.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

Multicultural Canada, Iroquoians.  (n.d.) Politics and Intergroup Relations.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

Primary History.  (2009).  Athens.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

The Canadian Encyclopedia. (2010).  Iroquois.  Retrieved October 10, 2010, from

Related ICT Outcomes (Found in the Alberta Program of Study):

-       Students will organize information gathered from the Internet, or an electronic source, by selecting and recording the data in logical files or categories; and by communicating effectively, through appropriate forms, such as speeches, reports and multimedia presentations, applying information technologies that serve particular audiences and purposes
-       Students will access and retrieve appropriate information from the Internet by using a specific search path or from given uniform resource locations (URLs)
-       Students will create a multimedia presentation, incorporating such features as visual images (clip art, video clips), sounds (live recordings, sound clips) and animated images, appropriate to a variety of audiences and purposes
-       Students will access available databases for images to support communication

Why Use Technology Integration?

The use of technology, especially in a social studies classroom, provides students with more resources to acquire the information they need to make sense of the curriculum topics.  Without the Internet, students would be required to find all information in books and printed resources.  This is not always an easy task and it is definitely not a very exciting task either.  Presenting the information by way of PowerPoint also gives students a chance to be creative with the information that they have found.  Designing a PowerPoint that their teacher and peers will see gives students the motivation to do their best work and find information that others will find interesting and useful. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

What is Effective Technology Integration for 21st Century Learners?

Hello again!
This week we had the task of figuring out what effective technology integration for 21st century learners would look like.  After reading the materials, I have become even more comfortable with the idea of using technology in the classroom.  I can now understand that the integration of technology into a classroom is about enhancing learning, not just about technology.  This differs from my experience in grade school insofar as technology was something that we had to learn, not something that we were able to use to expand our understanding of subjects outside of CTS.

I can now also see that the successful integration of technology into a classroom both requires and promotes creativity and innovation.  The teacher is required to think outside the box and use technology in a way that corresponds with the curriculum while still being fun and interesting for students.  If a teacher is successful in integrating technology, he or she will have a class full of students who are actively participating in their education.

Another important reason for integrating different technologies into the classroom is for the purpose of communication.  We now live in a global community.  Now, more than ever before, it is important to know about the different parts of the world and the different people that inhabit them.  Communication makes this possible.  Rather than having pen pals, like I did in school, kids can now have e-mail pals or a blog that is followed by others in a different city, province or country.  The use of technology to communicate with a pen, e-mail or blog pal makes this process much quicker and more resource friendly than it once was.

Although the use of technology in the classroom has the potential to make learning more interactive, fun and creative, I must say that there is always a chance of it going terribly wrong.  Once again, I feel that it is extremely important to have rules and guidelines for students using the internet.  It is also important that we, as teachers do not get carried away with exciting new technology that has little to do with the curriculum that we are required to teach.

Please check out my quick presentation on effective technology integration for 21st century learners at:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lisa Takes on the Blog...

Hello! My name is Lisa.  This is my first blog EVER and unfortunately for me I am a wee bit technologically challenged.  Hopefully this goes well! I am 21 years old and have spent my entire life in Lethbridge.  After graduating from high school my plan was to get as far away from Lethbridge, my family and rules as I possibly could.  Obviously, that didn't happen! My decision to become a teacher is one that has led me to stay in the town that I was desperate to get away from, live with my parents (who are actually wonderful) and continue to follow (to some extent) all of those horrendous rules.  That being said, I am so excited about having been accepted into the Faculty of Education and even more excited to begin my teaching journey.  While on the topic of myself, I must not forget the love of my life; my beagle, Lola.  Nothing makes me happier than spending a sunny Lethbridge day in the coulees with my girl!

Last Tuesday was the first time that I have ever really thought of blogging in general, never mind blogging as an educational tool.  Initially, the idea of having to share a blog with others terrified me.  The possibility of using blogs in a classroom setting also made me somewhat uncomfortable.  Although my primary response was not a positive one, I am now beginning to change my tune.

I can now see that a blog is a fantastic way for students to share their feelings, help others and make their views about different classroom activities known.  It opens up a line of communication both among the students in the class and between the students and the teacher.  If a teacher has the ability to post assignments on a classroom blog, it provides all students in the classroom with an equal opportunity to complete them regardless of attendance.  The sharing of notes, items of interest and frequently asked questions on a blog also provides extra resources to students that may not otherwise be available.  My favorite thing about using a blog in a classroom however is that students begin to really care about the quality of their work.  Because their work will be available for others to read, they truly want to showcase their best efforts.

Although I can now see the benefits of using a blog in the classroom, I am still hesitant about the lack of security on the internet.  Students need to be taught specific guidelines for using tools such as blogging while at school.  I think it is a wonderful idea to have students participate in the creation of these guidelines so that they can understand the reasons for them.