LAD Project – 10/30 Update

Over the last few days, I have worked to compile and develop more of my anticipatory set and i+1 zone activities. I added a “Let’s Get Started!” page to the website in which I will get students interested by asking them what they first think of when they hear “Australia”, and then giving them a few ideas/pictures to go along with that. Here is the link to the website so that you can see that:

https://sites.google.com/site/australiapicturebook/home

So far that is the only other thing that I’ve added to the website, but I have lots of other ideas flowing! For the rest of the anticipatory set, I will provide students with pictures of different things from Australia (things that maybe they haven’t seen or wouldn’t have thought of) and ask them to choose one and write a paragraph as if they took that picture and are now explaining what it was about. Then I will provide students with a few different websites to explore more about Australia. Some of these websites will have games. So far I’ve found these cool websites, but I may change them or add more: 

http://alldownunder.com/australia/know.html

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/places/find/australia/

http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/geography_games/australia.html

For the i+1 zone, I am going to give kids a geographical understandings chart, with boxes labeled climate, location, natural resources, where people live, and trade. I will give students all kinds of different resources to fill in this chart. (This will include websites, books, videos, and I will probably make a powerpoint). They will be able to choose which resources they want to use, and have the freedom to work at their own pace. 

One of our other big activities for this section will be a role-playing activity. Half of the class will look into and research the Aboriginal Australians, including their origins and culture. The other half of the class will research European colonization of Australia. Then, the two groups will put on a role-playing skit in which the Europeans come into Australia. The skit will need to explain the culture of the Aborigines beforehand, what the Europeans did, and how that impacted the Aborigines (especially in terms of weapons and diseases). I think this will be really fun and engaging for students, and hopefully make the information stick with them better. 

I am still deciding what to do for the technology activity. I really want to do a scavenger hunt or something where the students get to move around, but I am still trying to figure out how we would do that in relation to this project. 

Overall, I feel like I have some good ideas flowing and have been able to find good resources. It is certainly challenging, though, to figure out how to make it all work together in a way that will actually be possible and meaningful for 6th grade students. Hopefully it will all come together in a way that makes sense! 

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LAD Project – 10/25 Update

As a middle school education major, I wanted to do this project on something that I may actually be able to use in the future. For that reason, I chose 6th grade social studies standards relating to a topic that interests me and that I think students would enjoy as well – Australia! The overall idea of the “project” is that students will research Australia through different activities and resources, and then each student will create one page of a picture book that we will later combine together to make one class book all about Australia. Right now I am in the process of developing the different activities/resources that the students will use in order to learn about Australia. I know I want the students to have a variety of ways to research the information, including games, videos, books, websites, etc. All of these resources will eventually be on the google site so that students can explore at their own pace. 

Here is what I have for the google site so far: 

https://sites.google.com/site/australiapicturebook/

By next Friday (11/1), I plan to have a much more finalized set of ideas and activities for the anticipatory set and the i-1 zone. Then over the next few days (before 11/6) I will finalize my ideas for the product/assessment/reflection portion of the project. 

New and Improved: Project-Based Learning

I already talked about this in one of my other blog posts, but in my U.S. History class in high school, we had a major group project called the “Decade Project.” I worked with 4 other people to create one giant presentation on everything about the 1970s. This is the main thing that comes to mind when I think about my own experience with project-based learning. We worked on this project for weeks, and definitely put a lot of time and thought into it. Although it was hard work, completing this project was one of the most meaningful experiences I have had in school, and I still remember so much information that I learned while doing that project.

Based on my personal experience and from what I’ve observed from reading about and watching videos, I think projects are so great for learning because they allow students to take control of their learning and to work at their own pace in a way that is much more meaningful. Rather than being taught a concept for one day and then never really talking about it again, students are continually applying and revisiting concepts while completing the project. This allows the information to truly be learned, rather than just memorized or regurgitated. Also, students are given the opportunity to experiment, try something out, and fail. But it’s okay if they fail! One of the best ways to learn is to make mistakes and then delve into what went wrong or what you could change.

As the two articles and the video discussed, project-based learning is also more meaningful because it provides opportunities for students to think and learn about real-life problems. Rather than just learning about something so that they can complete a worksheet or get a good grade on a test, students are learning so that they can tackle a real issue or directly apply it to their lives in some way. When students can see the impact of their learning and work, it generally makes them much more motivated to get stuff done. I wanted to include this quote from the “Design Thinking” article because I think it really sums up the point well:

“When children get to put their ideas to practice on a real problem, that’s when you make a real impact,” says Adam Royalty, a k12 Lab design lecturer. “That way, they gain both creative confidence and realize that they are change agents. These two points, especially the last one, are rarely expressed to children nowadays.”

A challenge for teachers is that creating these projects is certainly not easy. It takes a lot of time, organization, and planning. As project-based learning continues to grow in schools, hopefully more ideas and resources will be created that teachers can use to collaborate and work together in making project-based learning a more common experience for students everywhere. I hope that one day I can be as successful as Ms. Reeder in creating projects for my students in which they are engaged and excited about what they are doing and what they are learning. 

Stop Animation Reflection

The tool that we promoted in our stop animation commercial is called “Nanny.” Like the name would suggest, Nanny is a program that can help watch over you and make sure you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Nanny allows you to set up your own parameters on blocking yourself out of websites for a specified amount of time. This can be an extremely useful tool for those who find themselves spending way too much time on social media sites, or those who get easily distracted by wanting to play a computer game rather than finish their paper. I would definitely use Nanny when I know I am going to need to focus to get something done. I think it can be an extremely useful and practical tool for middle school, high school, and college students. Nanny would be a great tool for teachers to recommend to students and suggest to parents. Here is a picture of what comes up when you try to go to a website that has been blocked by Nanny: 

 

Many of the tools that other students in the class presented were also really interesting and things that I could see myself using. Pinterest is an app that I have already been using for several months now, and it such a great tool in generating ideas and finding resources. The possibilities on Pinterest are almost endless! Edmodo is something I haven’t used yet, but I have used a similar site called Moodle. These kinds of interactive class websites are definitely becoming more and more popular in the classroom. I think they are great because they imitate social media sites that students are using daily. Tools like Words with Friends and Jellynote may not be used as frequently in the classroom, but I think they would be great for certain lessons or areas of emphasis. Tools like these make learning more exciting and engaging, something that all students deserve. 

Making this stop animation video was a lot of fun! It definitely gave me a new appreciation for these kinds of videos and the people that spend countless hours making them – the final product takes much more work than it seems! We used almost 400 pictures which was way more than we originally thought we would use. Taking the pictures required lots of time and patience in figuring out how to get what we wanted. Stop animation is neat because it uses series of pictures to create the effect of a video. I think this is cool because it allows you to show change over time in a unique way. If I could do our video over again I would probably add more voice-over or even text-over to help explain what was happening in the video and the different features of the Nanny app. 

Augmented Reality Reflection

As I learned in the horizon report, technology is increasingly becoming a part of schools and education. This mean teachers are learning about new things and discovering new ways to implement technologies into their classrooms. With this also comes the idea of augmented reality, which according to Ronald Azuma is “an environment that includes both virtual reality and real-world elements.” Basically it is bringing digital information to actual experiences, content, etc. Up until recently I had never actually heard the term ‘augmented reality,’ but looking back I can remember several instances where either myself or others around me have taken part in the usage of some type of augmented reality. For example, at the middle school where I am doing my teaching practicum, one of the teachers did a game using QR codes. Students had to scan the QR code in order for a question to pop up that they would then answer based on content already learned. It was a really cool way for students to be interactive and engaged! 

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One of the articles we read and the main thing that Jim discussed in his talk was ARIS (Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling). Jim made it obvious that the reason he really likes ARIS is because it is place-based, allowing the students to learn about content while actually moving around and/or locating themselves in the places where what they are learning about took place. I agree that this is a really cool way to better engage students and help them to better understand the content. I know I would prefer doing something like that way more than just listening to a lecture in a classroom, and I would definitely learn a lot more from participating in an activity where I got to go out into the real world. ARIS provides a neat opportunity for students to receive information while also critically thinking and figuring things out on their own. 

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I love the idea of augmented reality, but I am a little concerned as to how realistic it will be to actually be able to implement it in my future classroom. Since using it as an educational tool is still pretty new, I would probably have to create my own games/activities which makes me a little worried and overwhelmed. I know it can be done though, and I would certainly love to try. There also does seem to be several augmented reality apps that focus on directions or locating certain features of the area around you (including Wikitude and Acrossair). I’m sure there could be different ways to implement these kinds of apps into the classroom. Overall, I am intrigued by the idea of augmented reality and would love to explore it further to find out more about the different ways it can be used in the classroom. 

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