Teaching at Your Fingertips

IPADThe video Project Based Learning in Hand by Tony Vincent was extremely enlightening. As a fifth grade teacher, he utilized technology and the resources given to his students as a tool to create deeper learning. Vincent set up parameters for his students to follow for classroom projects and research and then allowed the students to create something unique to themselves. This type of technology based teaching creates critical thinking skills and allows the students to interact with technology.

As I watched and listened to Tony Vincent, I couldn’t help but wish that I was a student within his classroom. Being that I was in fifth grade, 25 years ago, we did not have access to this type of teaching and research. I believe that I would have retained and learned more of the information, especially in history and government, better had I been able to use these means expressed in the video. Teachers today must delve into the new millennium of teaching and use the many resources that current technology allows.

I truly do not think that these hand-held devices will be utilized within my classroom. I plan to teach young children and I believe that they are still trying to develop hand-eye coordination; therefore, I believe that younger students still need to write out letters and draw pictures to facilitate this growth.

Screenr Assignment

This screen cast assignment was completely new to me.  I procrastinated the task until Friday night at 9:00 and was a little worried about how difficult it would be to produce.  Although, after walking through the process, it proved to be extremely easy!  I think a screen cast could be a wonderful way for teachers to teach older students.  As I plan to work with younger students, I think that screen cast could also be effective!  I can teach things to them with this new technology.  Also, I think that the students, with the help of their parents, could use Screenr for family projects.  The students would enjoy hearing there own voices and they would enjoy sharing their finished projects with their class mates.

I chose to do my screen cast over Skype.  Skype is a free way to visual and verbally communicate with people near and far.

Pecha Kucha

A Pecha Kucha presentation consists of 20 photo slides that are exhibited for 20 seconds each. The presenter should chose photos that tell their story and help to visual stimulate the audience and create greater participation. A Pecha Kucha is not an outline of the speakers notes or topic highlights. After viewing several presentations and presenting my own, I feel that there are a couple of things that make a Pecha Kucha presentation outstanding. First, the presenter should choose a topic that they are very passionate about or greatly interested in discussing. This energy and excitement can easily be seen throughout a presentation. Second, the presenter should choose photos that are high quality and help to tell a story. The photos can be actual images of places and things or they can be symbolic to express a point. Last, the presenter should give their speech with confidence by using a strong speakers voice and making reference to the photos they have chosen. These three basic principles help a Pecha Kucha presentation stand out from the crowd!

While developing my presentation, I learned and perfected the art of image selection and downloading. The process of finding the correct photos took several hours. After finding the perfect photos to express my points, I then had to download them to the presentation using high quality resolution. I then learned how to sort them in the slide show by deleting and adding slides. The entire process was an excellent learning experience!

I plan to teach Early Childhood, preferable Pre-K or Kindergarten; therefore, a Pecha Kucha presentation would be much too intricate for the students. I do believe that a Pecha Kucha would be an excellent tool used to accentuate a specific unit (ie: home life, lizards, etc). In addition, I think that a Pecha Kucha presentation could be used to exhibit and explain projects that the students are doing to the student’s parents during parent nights at the school!

Final Scratch Project

My final Scratch project was a combination of my first two projects.  During the first Scratch project, “Sailing through Scratch”, I created a sailboat that glided through the water with wave sound effects.  During the second Scratch project, “Fun with Granny!”, I truly learned the most about Scratch.  My project was silly but it included character costume changes, broadcasting, sound effects and timing to produce the story.  For this final project, I took the other two projects and perfected them.  My son recorded voices for the two speaking Sprites to make it more entertaining.  I also added one final “The End” scene for closure and made sure that the time was accurate for each scene.

Scratch is an extremely intricate teaching tool!  When I first began looking into Scratch, I felt that many ages of students would be able to utilize the program.  After experimenting and creating my own projects, I can clearly see that Scratch should be utilized by children old enough to read.  Once a student can read enough to understand the commands, I believe that they can use trial and error to create an interesting project that will increase their thinking and creativity skills.

Scratch Project 2

My second Scratch project is titled Fun with Granny! It is a silly story about a grandmother and her grandson spending the afternoon together.  I mastered the idea of broadcasting while working with this project.  I was able to use 3 separate scenes with 3 Sprites and 9 scripts.  In addition to the broadcasting function, I learned how to time activities occurring during each scene to make the story flow properly.  I used the “wait (blank) seconds” command multiple times.  Also, my two main characters carried on several conversations which incorporated proper wait times and the “say (blank) for (blank) seconds” button.  At first, I tried using the “say (blank)” button without specifying the amount of seconds and it made a huge mess during the scene changes.  One last thing I learned was how to add sound at the proper time to correlate to the sprites actions.

One thing I still have not figured out is how to make my sprites look like they are walking across the screen rather than floating.  I think we may have discussed it in class but I can’t seem to remember how exactly to make it work.  That would be the one thing that is driving me crazy about this project!

Sailing through Scratch!

During Scratch Project #1, I produced a very simple sailboat scene.  When the green flag is pressed, the sailboat glides through the water from one side of the screen to the other.  It also includes sounds of the water splashing!  The project took me longer than the one hour assigned because I tried many things before I decided on this sailboat scene.  I used a trial and error method to decide which scripts produced the effect that I wanted.  I first assumed that the sailboat should move 30 spaces but that made it move very choppy; therefore, I decided to use the glide to an x and y position command.  This moved the boat across the water much smoother.  I then had to decide which coordinates made it look most realistic.  In addition, through trial and error, I realized that the sound command needed to be placed between every two glide commands.  This helped to produce the splashing water and moving sailboat effect.

I enjoyed this project!  I can definitely see myself spending hours trying to complete something challenging and fun for some of our next few project.  In addition, I can also see how intricate or simple a project can be; therefore, Scratch will be an excellent learning tool for many levels of students!Scratch Project

Scratch: Lemonade Stand

I studied the Scratch project labeled Lemonade Tycoon written and developed by user name johnhole.   The game begins with the player pressing the space bar.  Then, the Sprites purchase cups of lemonade from the lemonade stand.  The players job is to keep the stand stocked with lemons, ice, sugar, and cups.  In the lower left corner, the game keeps a tally of the amount of money that the player has to spend in relation to how much is spent on supplies and how much the costumers are buying.  As the player makes money, she may then “upgrade the store” buy purchasing a second store, marketing, or purchasing cheaper supplies.  Each of these selections can create a higher revenue for the player.  The purpose of the game is to make money and keep the customer supply high.

This project used a total of thirty-three Sprites and one hundred fifty-six scripts to create a Sims-type game.   Each Sprite has a separate set of commands which make the game run smoothly.  My first idea was that Sprites must be moving characters within the game but this project developed signs and characters as Sprites.  In fact, only five of the thirty-three Sprites were actually moving people.  Only one of these five “people” Sprites used commands in the command box.  The other four were just used as a visual aid.  The other twenty-eight Sprites, had long strings of commands  that would allow the player to press a button and produce an action.  For example, if the player presses the “Lemons” sign once, then one lemon would be added to the lemon count and one dollar would be deducted from the money bank.  In addition, a twin Sprite was used for the second lemonade stand.  This twin had an identical strand of commands except that it was commanded only to be used if pressed in the second lemonade stand.  The project was well thought through and complete.

Into A New Realm of Thinking

Students on ComputersThe video “Teaching Kids to Think Using Scratch” by Chris Betcher was extremely inspiring.   Scratch is an amazing tool that takes students into a new realm of thinking and learning.  The students in the video had to work with skills that they were learning within the classroom to produce a quality product.  The skills that they utilized involved problem solving, collaborating and piecing together information that they were being taught.  This seemed to give them a higher level of understanding on many subjects through the use of one tool, Scratch.

As I was educated many years ago, the use of computers was very new.  Microsoft Word was new and exciting; therefore, I was unable to use online tools like Scratch.  The use of internet was considered unnecessary in the school environment.  I do believe that Scratch provides students of all grades and ages to begin using computer programming to experiment with the information that they are learning within their classroom.  Scratch would have definitely benefited me as a student to express my ideas and understanding.

As an Early Childhood Education teacher, I believe that the use of Scratch will benefit even the youngest learners.  The easy too navigate commands and the cartoon quality of characters would help young learners to become more computer literate.  The use of the computer mouse and keyboard will help these young students develop dexterity as they develop something that they can be proud to show others.  Manipulating the characters through commands will provide levels of learning for these young learners.  Scratch will definitely be a program I plan to utilize within my classrooms.

Unbreakable Learning

This video “Intersections” by Darren Kuropatwa had many thought provoking ideas and concepts.  The most intriguing idea, in my opinion, was the point that he made regarding the fable.  The older man asked his three sons to collect sticks and place them in a bundle.  He then asked each one of them to try and break the bundle over their own knee.  Not one of them was successful; therefore, he asked them to each take an individual stick and break it.  This was much easier and the three sons broke the sticks together as a group.  If students and teachers work together and support each other in learning then as a whole the classroom will be unbreakable.

This concept of teaching and learning is very different than any other I have experienced.  In general, my past experiences have included a teacher that is explaining and teaching topics.  This fable produces the idea that we are all learners, able to share the knowledge that we hold, and able to expand that knowledge through the knowledge of others.  It truly seemed to put the teacher and students on somewhat of the same level.  I like the idea that a teacher must respect and use the ideas that students bring to their classrooms.  This knowledge can then be built upon to create a true learning environment.

As I have stated in past blogs, I am an Early Childhood Education major; therefore, this concept of group learning is invaluable.  Students in Pre-K through 3rd grade can teach levels of information to each other.  Specifically, in Pre-K, children are learning to work as a group through cooperation, sharing, etc by actively playing within centers.  During this center time, the teacher can walk freely and listen to how the students are using the materials in each center.  This time can help the teacher to formulate proper lesson plans that will interest and intrigue her students.

Week 3 Assignment

This first short clip, is a perfect example of how our words and comments through the cyber-world can truly effect another person’s life.  In my life, I have tried to use the motto “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.  This motto can be extended into the world of blogging, texting, emailing, etc.  Our words carry a huge weight; therefore, would it not be nice to say something uplifting and true that could bring a smile to the recipients face.  Words are a powerful tool that we must take great care in how we use!

The second video was a review of a blogging partnership between college students and first grade students.  This Blogging Buddy project taught both levels of students in many areas.  The first grade students were excited to have an audience for their creative writing.  They also tried much harder to achieve conventional spelling techniques so that their “buddies” would be able to understand what they were trying to express.  In addition, the first grade students enjoyed the  positive attention and praise they received.  On the other hand, the college students, were able to see many examples of creative spelling.  This first hand experience is invaluable for a future teacher.  Childrens BooksIt also helped them to learn how to creatively praise and critique their “buddy”.  All in all, each level of student was able to have an interesting, relevant, fun experience with the wonders of technology.

After watching these two videos, I am extremely excited to begin using this type of technology within my classroom.  The benefits that the students received were incomparable to any other type of writing/reading assignments that an Early Childhood teacher could prepare.  In addition, the sooner we begin teaching students the power of their words, the more they will be excited to use them!