Visual Digital Library

WDL

So often my Jr. High students seem to lose interest in their research and begin to complain that they can not find any good information. Wikipedia and other informational websites by their nature are not designed for younger students. So after the first few minutes of searching student interest is lost and they are off task. So I began looking for another website that might hold their interest a bit longer and found one that seemed to fit the bill, “World Digital Library“. This site provides images and a timeline that students can use to search for information on historical topics world wide. The great thing about this site is that it is very visual and seemed to captivate and keep student attention. There was a good amount of information on the website and I found it be a great starting point for students with research projects.

Check it out at World Digital Library http://www.wdl.org/en/

Below are some resource for other historical resources.

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Making Citations A Breeze (Three Great Resources)

Cite This For Me

Helping students with their bibliography for their papers is always frustrating and confusing for my Junior High Students. So this year I had them use three great resources that helped them to create their bibliographies without all of the usual headaches. The three sites caught my eye this year they were CiteThisForME, Easybib and Bibme. Not only did these sites really seem to alleviate many of the citing issues for my students they were easy for them to use and created great bibliographies for my students. These sites makes it simple for students to select the correct source and enter needed information to create their citation. Then students just click on the copy and paste button and paste the citations into their works cited or bibliography page. Many of the students said that they will bookmark these sites and use them again in the future. These tools will be helpful to all students check them out at the following addresses:

  1. Cite this for ME: http://www.citethisforme.com/
  2. Easy bib: http://www.easybib.com/
  3. BibMe: http://www.bibme.org/
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A Must Have Student Resource Page for the Upcoming School Year

Front of a yellow school bus.
Image via Wikipedia

Over the past week I have been gathering resources for the upcoming school year.  As I was doing this I decided to create a page on my blog to post all of these resource for easy use.  Please take a look at these lists and let me know if you know of any others that would be good to add to these resources.  This is constantly changing page so check back often.

Click here to go to the “Student Project Resources” page or click the tab at the top of the page.

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Teach Students to Search the Web: School Resources Part Seven

Image representing Google Search as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

I am often amazed how many teachers assume that students can conduct a basic web search in a search engine.  This is a  skill often over looked in schools and is the cause of frustration for many students.  So many times teachers tell their students to go to the web and research information on a particular subject.  Students then go to Google type in a word or two and get frustrated when they can only find a minimal amount of information.  This frustration often leads to decreased motivation for the project or assignment.  A simple fix to this problem is to teach students how to conduct a proper web search.  Here are 11 great search engines that are great at assisting you in teaching students how to conduct a web search.

Askkids FactMonster KartOO KidsClick Middlespot Quintura Kids Safesearch Sleedo Sortfix Wolfram Alpha Yolink

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Augmented Reality Experiment Post 3: “My First Game”

Mystery Animals

My First Augmented Reality game.

On Monday I tried out my first Augmented Reality game.  The objective of the game was for my students to learn a little information about the three major fur bearing animals of the Pacific Northwest.  The purpose of this game was two fold.  The first was that I wanted them to test the technology to see if they could interact with it.  The second was an introduction into our next unit on the fur trading era of the Pacific Northwest.

The only directions I gave them were on the purpose and organization of the game.  They were told that they were to discover three animals on the back football field.  At each location on the map they would find a description of an animal and an audio recording of the sound that animal makes.  It was their task to discover the name of that animal and convert that name into a code to unlock the next location on the map.  The hint for the code was A=1.  Students then went outside, opened the software, and began navigating the game, once they obtained a satellite signal.

Students seemed to have no trouble using the software to navigate through their game.  They were highly engaged and had to be persuaded to come into the building, when it began to rain.  Students were very motivated, almost driven, to get to the end of the game.  This was very interesting to me, since some of these students are not often motivated in class.   While I assume that some of the motivation was in the novelty of the situation, the game atmosphere did seem to motivate many of the students.  All students were able to eventually navigate the course and complete the game.  As students entered the classroom after completing the game, there was a lot of discussion about the three fur bearing animals and how they came to their conclusion for each animal.  The discussion in class went extremely well.  They really enjoyed talking about the games and the information that they discovered about each animal.  Every student I felt achieved the learning target for the day, and they truly seemed excited about the possibility of doing this type of exercise again.  All in all I would have to say my first game, while not overly complex, was a complete success.

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Reducing Frustration in Secondary Students with Technology

I have found that you can often reduce frustration in secondary students by using technology in a secondary nature. For instance, I may have the students create a PowerPoint presentation on a Native American tribe. They will research the first few days in the library looking for information. Then they will get a day or two in the computer lab to do research. When they are in the lab though, I have already found the websites for them to use and bookmarked them on their computers. Or I may have created a webpage and placed them on the webpage as a hyperlink. When they get to creating their PowerPoint presentation I have already created a template for their presentation in which they only tweak a few things and add the information that they have gathered.

Using technology in this nature does take more time for the teacher to develop but dramatically reduces the frustration level of the students. The focus also stays on the subject rather on how to use the technology. Students still get to spend time using and interact with technology and can build their knowledge over time.

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Teaching Online vs. A Traditional Classroom: Are they really that different?

Teaching in an online environment contains many of the same issues found in the traditional classroom. Teachers must know their content area and be able to adjust curriculum to best meet the needs of their students. Over the past decade technology has grown tremendously and created new delivery methods that can greatly enhance learning for students. This growth in technology has created many new issues that teachers must consider before teaching in an online environment.

Teachers in must have a good working knowledge of their field of study. While this is a basic requirement of teaching any course, the online environment requires that teachers spend time developing good resources that can be accessed online. With the growth of electronic media the ease of putting information on the web has created many resources that must be screened before allowing students to use them. This requires the teacher to do more than a Google search and bookmark a couple of quick resources. They must investigate and research these sources of information to ensure that they are in fact worthwhile and credible. Along with researching and developing a good set of resources, teachers must be technically proficient in using technology to best meet the needs of their students.

As technology continues to grow, teachers must spend time researching new technologies that may enhance student learning. It is important for them to spend time learning about the various mediums such as: SCORMs, WIKI’s, Blogs, Forums, Chat, and Webquests to be able to use them effectively. Like traditional methodologies, online methodologies require time by teachers to study up on the new and latest developments in electronic media going beyond a word processor and PowerPoint to communicate with students.

The two most important issues to consider in teaching in an online environment are communication and organization. Just like traditional classrooms, lesson plans are critical. Getting the message across to students is the ultimate goal. With the limitations of communication with students, how you communicate in an online environment is critical. This requires teachers to be able to communicate effectively using technology and written word. What you say is as important as how it is organized and presented. Chunking information in small pieces and organization are key components of a good online course. Once a student is lost or confused, learning stops and may not start again for some time.

Online education requires teachers to go beyond just the traditional knowledge of their subjects, but to develop good resources, use the latest technologies, communicate and organize information to best meet the needs to their students and promote learning.

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