Sunday, December 13, 2009
For this blog entry, I am researching the Web 2.0 tool, GameClassroom.com. “Game Classroom is a one-stop web destination for accessing high-quality educational games, and homework help for K-6 students” (GameClassroom.com)
I have taught music at the elementary school level for 10 years as of this post. Because my initial undergraduate major was electric engineering, I have always stressed the importance of learning core subjects to my students. There would be many times where I would integrate my music curriculum with the subject material being taught in the homerooms. So GameClassroom.com seemed like a resource I would like to research in order to share with the core subject teachers.
GameClassroom.com is not directly collaborative as many other Web 2.0 tools, such as Flickr, Blogger, Wikia, etc. It is, however, very INTERACTIVE. Students who go to GameClassroom.com are not passive participants in their learning. Because the content is based on educational games, GameClassroom.com students are active participants in their learning.
GameClassroom.com allows students to select from two main categories: Language Arts and Math (as of this posting there is not a section for Science. Each category is separate skills for each grade. And each skill has a specific topic. Suggested games in the GameClassroom.com can be found in each skill level. The games give instantaneous feedback to the student. Games for lower grades have excellent demonstrations and are designed for the beginner learner. Games for older students have visual instructions and are designed for the older learner. The game engines do not frustrate the learner, so he or she is able to focus on answering the questions by whatever means the games use. Interestingly enough, I found it rather insightful to practice my skills on games for all ages. I realized that my teaching skills would benefit from occasionally playing these games. I found it interesting to compare how I present content to how the games found on GameClassroom.com present content.
There is so much good content on GameClassroom.com (except for the lack of a science section) that this is a highly recommended Web 2.0 tool for all elementary school teachers.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Indabamusic is a Web 2.0 tool that allows musicians to collaborate on music projects. A musician records his or her audio tracks. He or she then invites friends or even complete strangers to submit additional tracks that have been recorded to this composition.
As an teaching tool this would be a great asset. Students can safely create in the privacy of their home or a practice room before submitting their part of a whole composition. I say "safely" because composing is a very personal process and many times unwanted constructive criticism would hamper the flow of creativity. Most creative efforts are works in progress.
That being said, once a student submits their work. The other students would give helpful constructive criticism using a composition Rubric. Students would be able revamp their own parts a total of three times before the piece is “done”.
The networking aspect of Indabamusic would allow the student compositions to be shared with college-level composition majors, as well as professional composers and arrangers. Being able to get feedback from various viewpoints that extend into the working world would be a great asset to the students.
The main hindrance would be the acquisition of audio recording technology for the student. It’s not expensive, however, it would require an investment on the part of the parent or the student.
I would’ve loved to known about this tool months ago. A music student who is a senior in the advanced group, headed up by a different director, came to me to write an arrangement for her song. (The other director and I are friends, and we work with each other’s students, allowing each of us to use our strengths.). She recorded herself singing and sent me the file. I wrote the arrangement and delivered it to her. She said that there were some changes. And I went back… you see the process.
Indabamusic would’ve allowed her to record her track, have me write the arrangement to and line it up with her singing. And then we would’ve been able to collaborate with almost instantaneous feedback, versus burning CDs and such.
Director’s point of view, I could use this to make an online library of downloadable sheet music for my bands and music classes. Any music I upload can be assigned to a specific class, band, or instrument groups. The phrase, “I forgot to bring my music home with me” would no longer be an excuse. Since I use only original arrangements of songs for my Senior High Music classes, no copyright laws would be broken. I can use it to communicate with parents and students about upcoming concerts, field trips, etc. I can broadcast to any number or groups of students that I need to. While I can set up as many different groups as I need to, iSchoolBand comes with the standard band sections preset for the user. And like FaceBook I can post a “what’s on my mind”. This comes in handy for sending out a broadcast, “Great Job at the last concert!”
Students: Students are able to post comments are each other’s walls and send communications to the director. This is handy for student’s who may have forgotten about a performance, who may need to carpool, or simply exchange ideas they have for making rehearsals better, or for thoughts on new songs. iSchoolBand has filtering software for comments. Directors can add custom words to comments in case students find another way of saying something inappropriate.
Parents: Parents can communicate to each other or director. This allows Booster organizations to have a common forum where communication is ongoing and not hindered by the unavailability of one person. Parents also are the only ones who can register their students, since the student pass codes are emailed to the parents.
iSchoolBand offers a free 1-year membership if you register before December 25, 2009. I, of course, registered. I like the feel of iSchoolBand. It’s still in the beta version but it feels really solid. I did email iSchoolBand with a question on setting up custom instrument groups. I received an immediate response and a workaround. The feature I wanted isn’t currently available, but they said that they would seriously consider adding it.
The creator of the lesson uses digital camera to take photos of cells and tissue samples as seen under a microscope.
The students are taught how to properly use a microscope.
The students are taught how digitally photograph the microscope samples.
Students then upload the photos to Flickr and tagged the photos with the appropriate descriptions.
Lastly, the students compare similar tissue samples for looking for photos with matching tags.
This lesson could be easily adapted for almost any subject area.
Physical Education - students upload photos of various callisthenic exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, etc). These photos are tagged with the targeted muscle groups for each exercise. Student would then have a resource to use when tested on which exercise develops a specific muscle group.
Music – Students upload photos of various instruments. The photos would be tagged according to instrument type (brass, woodwind, percussion, string), instrument range (bass, tenor, alto, soprano), uses in music genres (jazz, classical, rock, etc.), etc.
Art – Photos could be uploaded of various art techniques (tessellations, perspectives, etc.), tagged with those techniques, and used for comparison and contrast.
Math (Geometry/Trigonometry) - Students upload photos/jpeg graphics of formulas. Students upload photos of graphs. Students would tag both sets of photos with the name of the graph (parabola, hyperbola, etc.). Students would be able to develop an Online Flash card system.
English – Students upload photos/jpeg graphics of sentence types/writing errors (imperatives, declaratives, exclamatory, interrogatives, fragments, active voice, passive voice, double-negatives, proper/improper subject-verb agreement. Students tag photos/graphics with correct type of sentence/writing error, and compare similarities.
NOTE ON TAGGING: If you use double-quotation marks around two words, Flickr records it as one tag. Blue Moon = 2 tags: blue, moon, but “Blue Moon” = 1 tag: Blue Moon.
As a part-time photographer, I used to simply think of Flickr as a nice online sharing network for photographers, after this week’s reading and this Blog post, I am really beginning to see the versatility in so many Web 2.0 tools.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Julie-Ann Amos’ article, “Top 10 social bookmarking tools for educators”, lists 10 tools that educators can use for social bookmarking. “Social bookmarking is a highly useful tool for educators since it allows specific categorization of websites for easy access and sharing.” (Amos, 2009). I found the idea of a bookmarking tool such as Scuttle “a specialized social bookmarking program that can be run right on a school’s server [where] data is held in the server and not through a third party site, giving schools maximum control over content” (Amos, 2009) would be a great asset for a teacher to propose to administrators who are concerned with Internet safety.
Brian Alexander’s article, “Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?” describes a number of Web 2.0 tools. His discussion of the social bookmarking tool “del.icio.us” highlights its implementation of tags. “The social bookmarking innovator del.icio.us automatically reminds users of previously deployed tags, suggests some tags, and notes tags used by others” (Alexander, 2009). Tags are a great way of focusing specifically on those areas that you want to find. They save valuable time by keeping users from searching through unrelated sites.
Lorrie Jackson’s article, “Sites to see: Social bookmarking”, shows a clear benefit to using a social bookmarking site over a browser with saved bookmarks. “Instead of individually saving the site in a variety of folders, you just type a few keywords called tags (Langston Hughes, alliteration, Black History, metaphor, rubric, and so on.), and your sites are organized automatically with sites saved by other users, using those same keywords” (Jackson, 2009).