Learning is a Never Ending Journey

Monday, October 17, 2005

What are WebQuests?

A WebQuest is an activity where a student draws information from the Web to use in an activity that has a specific topic. The most effective ones are those that make the most of a learner’s time. There are basically six main components that can be identified with a WebQuest. These include, an introduction, the tasks, information sources, the process, evaluations and conclusions. These will tell the learner what the assignment is and its purpose or goal, what activities and topics the student will be engaged in, where they can find information for the project, and what the end result of their research should be.

I think I could use a WebQuest for an elementary social studies class since according to the program of studies, students need to learn about various cultures an their differences and similarities to the student’s own. As the teacher, I could create a WebQuest where students would visit various web sites I assign and look up information about different cultures. They could have a specific set of questions that they were expected to answer in terms of the cultures they are learning about and the pages they are viewing. As well, I could also develop WebQuests in terms of assignments on specific topics for junior high students. I could ask the students to choose a topic that they are interested in and want to learn more about for an English Report. I could then take in all the topics and create individual WebQuests for each student. That way, I could monitor what information they would be viewing, but the topic would be something they would enjoy and want to learn more about.

When I visited the Web Awareness Canada site I was surprised at the vast variety of information that the site contained. There is so much information and it is separated into three main sections, awareness for teachers, parents and librarians. Since I am neither a parent nor a librarian I simply looked at the teacher awareness one. Wow! It is amazing to think of the many issues concerning the Internet that we as teachers need to be aware of. It is quite sad to think that children, if they are not properly educated with the safe use of the Internet, can be the victims of privacy invasion, cyber-bullying and online predators. As well, other negative impacts include subjection to misinformation, witnesses of violent or hateful content as well as pornography and gambling. A teacher needs to properly educate the students about the safe and proper Internet use so as to monitor a student’s use so that a useful tool does not negatively effect them. . I was very happy to see that there is information for us on how to encourage and teach students to be safe on the Internet, especially because they can be subjected to harassment and situations that can make them uncomfortable. It is nice to know that there is information out there on how to educate students to understand and determine the difference between truthful and misinformation. As well, it is helpful to see that there are resources to help us teach children to be safe, wise and responsible Internet users.
Integration of Spreadsheets and Graphing in the Classroom

Spreadsheets are an effective tool that can be used by both teachers and students and in just about any subject. They can be easy tools to learn to use. Once the basics of spreadsheets are learned, one could use them in so many ways and for so many purposes in the classroom. Some people believe that they are extremely important to use in the classroom because they enhance teachings.

I have used spreadsheets a lot and I totally believe that they are beneficial for any number of activities and projects. Some of the ways that they could be used in the classroom include, as a teacher’s organizational strategy. A teacher could use one for keeping grades organized and using the spreadsheet tools to calculate marks for individual students and class averages. One could even use a spreadsheet to make a rubric, lesson plan or observation checklist.

In terms of students, teachers could have students use spreadsheets in the classroom to make pie, bar and map charts to represent data in various subjects and projects. As well, they could be used for a math class to determine various averages etc. through the formulas that are available. Yet another way to use a spreadsheet is to make a timeline of events for a specific topic. To teach the use of spreadsheets effectively to students, online tutorials can be used. They can be used to provide instruction to a large group of students.

If I were teaching a class about spreadsheets I would definitely use the web site www.internet4classrooms.com/excel_create_chart.htm. It is a very informative web site that gives step-by-step instructions on how to effectively and efficiently use the spreadsheet program Excel. An activity that the students could do to begin using a spreadsheet could be a simple activity like tallying the various pets students have. The students would then go to this link and they could use a few specific categories like how many students have a dog, a cat, both, none or other and learn to chart the information. This activity would be a great way for students to learn how to use Excel effectively.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Concept Mapping

What is a Concept Map?
Concept mapping is a method that can be used to represent ideas and concepts through visual means. The concept maps I will be focusing on are the ones that are created through a computer program like Inspiration. Concept maps involve the identification of relationships between concepts. These relationships, when broken down into single ideas and points, are no longer complex, but rather easier to understand and comprehend. The way a concept map works is that it involves various ideas where lines connect the ideas that are related to each other. Concept maps can be used for a number of reasons. These include, brainstorming ideas, designing complex structures, communicating complex ideas, aiding the integration of new and old knowledge, assessing understanding or determining misunderstanding, enhancing the problem solving phases through generation of alternative solutions, encouraging positive self-concept, and supporting reading comprehension. A main feature that distinguishes them from other organizers is that concept maps involve many networks.
What are some advantages and disadvantages of Concept Maps?
Concept maps are very beneficial tools that would be helpful in the classroom setting for various reasons. Some advantages include, they are very helpful for teaching students with various learning styles and preferences. As a teacher it would be beneficial for some subjects like social studies for example, to use a concept map to review for a test. While a teacher could make an outline on a paper, he/she could also make a concept map on that paper as well. That way both the visual and auditory learning style needs are met. They could basically be used in any subject to better organize or add an extra visual way to explain a concept, theme or relationship. Through the use of the concept map program Inspiration students gain use of a new form of technology. As well, the entire learning process is made more fun and interesting because students can move beyond the typical pen and paper work. Concept maps can also be used in overheads for presentations so that people can see how the information fits together as a whole. For a teacher’s own personal use, they could also be used for lesson planning to help stay focused about a concept and determine how to bring other ideas into the class that relate to what is being learned.
Like everything, there are some disadvantages to concept maps. One disadvantage with using a concept map computer program is that the teachers would need to learn the program and understand how it works and then be able to teach it to the students. As well, as with any new technology, there will always be people who do not want to use it. This could cause inconsistencies in the school because some students will be taught and learn through visual and auditory means whereas the other students will not be given that luxury. As well, the schools would have to purchase a concept-mapping program, which in some schools may not be a budgeted item. In terms of just using a concept map, whether made on the computer or freehand, a major necessity is that it is comprehensive and accurate. They also must be clear and concise and not too many ideas that are cluttered and difficult to understand. If concept maps are not clear, concise, comprehensive and accurate, the students and teachers will be negatively affected, as they will not be achieving the proper understanding of the material.
What is an example of using Concept Mapping for a school subject?
A concept-mapping program would be a beneficial tool to use in a grade eleven English language arts class. If the class were studying the novel The Glory Field a concept map would be very beneficial for understanding the many characters and their family relations. If students have a hard time keeping track of all of the characters, they could create a concept map to better picture and visualize who each character is, how they fit into the story and how they are related and connected to the other characters in the book.
Connected ICT outcome could be:
C7 4.3 ~ Use appropriate presentation software to demonstrate personal understanding.