Friday, October 26, 2012

Google Docs

The use of Google Docs as a collaborative tool was extremely effective. This was my first experience with Google Docs besides the "Getting to Know You" survey. At first I was a little hesitant on how it would all come together, but the document itself is set up so efficiently that it was easy to collaborate with my classmates. I loved that you could click on "see revision history" and the parts that my peers added would hi light in different colors. It displayed all the dates that revisions were made; which made it unique in that you could see the progression of the document over time.
                The actual content of what was in the document (the response to the article) really opened my eyes to my peers perspective. Although we all read the same article there were many points that I didn't pick up on that my peers did. My comprehension of the information increased due to their interpretation of the text. In the realization of this all it became very evident to me that Google Docs is a great tool to use in the classroom! Students need to gain knowledge of their peers work. They need to learn how to collaborate and work with others. Collaboration was never stressed in my high school and since entering into the Exceptional Education Department at Buffalo State I've had to collaborate with my peers often. I can honestly say that collaboration has not only made me a better student, but a better person as a whole. Children need to learn how to express themselves to others and also give room for others to express themselves in return. We need to seek to understand than to be understood. Learning is often most effective when you are growing with those around you. Google Docs provides a great way for students to work together and enlighten each other with knowledge that may have otherwise been missed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WebQuest and AT

I enjoyed my first WebQuest; there was definitely a lot of information to consume. I learned many new things from the information. Some of the links didn't work, which was annoying, but that could easily be fixed; especially if you made one of your own. In the future, I can see myself using a WebQuest as a learning tool in the classroom. I think it would be interesting to use it as a type of treasure hunt on a certain topic. Each web page they go to will give them clues for the next page and what to look for. They would have a fill in the blank paper where the answers would go. At the end whoever gets done first wins, but there would be some type of prize for every completed WebQuest. I think this is a valuable way to have students read and comprehend information.
                Learning about all the different types of computer software and tools was something completely foreign to me. I had no idea that there are so many different ways to control a computer. AT makes many things accessible. All of this showed me how the true the old time saying "If there's a will, there's a way." is. As a future special education teacher I will come across many different students with different disabilities and I need to be creative, intuitive, and persistent in making their education experience the best!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Social Media in The Classroom

There is no doubt about it; social media has become the major form of communication for people all over the world. I’ve been on Facebook for five years now, and I find it to be beneficial for my social life, but that’s about as far as it went for me. Reading these articles has opened my eyes to another world. I honestly never even considered using Facebook in the classroom. It was surprising to see how many articles there are on this topic, and how many different ideas people have created for using Facebook in an educational setting.
I believe there are many pros to using Facebook in the classroom. Students live in a generation that is technologically based; computers and social media sites is what interest students, so if we can find a way to use this technology in the classroom, then we can find a way to motivate students to learn. After reading these articles, it is obvious that there is so much you can do with sites like Facebook. The web article “100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom” from the site gives great examples of how to use Facebook effectively, “Students can post their book reviews for the instructor to grade and other students to read. If it's a peer-reviewed project, then students can more easily access each other's papers online.” This is just one of the many great ideas they provide.
There are many articles that explain cautions that should be taken, and focus that should be given when using social media sites in the classroom. Sarah Kessler puts it well in her blog “5 Best Practices for Educators on Facebook” she says, “Once teachers decide how they’re going to use Facebook, they need to follow through in a way that takes class participation on the social network seriously.” Basically, if you bring Facebook into your classroom and you have a purpose and guidelines as to how it will be used, then you will find it successful. If you use Facebook in the classroom and haven’t researched precautions and ways to use it effectively, your experience with it may be extremely negative with unnecessary issues arising. Most of these issues come from teachers not monitoring the students work and using the internet as a break from lecturing. Poole states it perfectly when responding to a comment from Dr. Netiva Caftori in his blog “Risks Involved in Integrating the Internet Into the K-12 Curriculum, he says “When it comes to children and learning, well-trained teachers should be “bundled” with the Web, as Dr,Netivia Caftori, professor of computer science at North Easter Illinois likes to put it. Teachers should be guides at the side, preparing quality learning experiences for the children in their care.” Educators need to be actively participating and monitoring students work.
I can envision Facebook being used in my classroom in many different ways. I like that you can make polls and have students vote on different issues. It would be cool to set up profiles for past presidents and have the students vote on which one they feel made the most effective changes for our country. Facebook can be a great tool to reach many different people, so why not use it in your classroom to create an awareness of different issues. I am a strong believer that community service projects and awareness of world issues can lead to a better future. It would be awesome to find out what the kids are passionate about and create a page for specific issues. They could use the page to post papers on the issues and ideas for special events.  It would be a great way to create unity in the classroom. Overall, I believe Facebook and other social media sites can assist teachers in making learning more successful and enjoyable.