Friday, April 20, 2012

Creating a Group PBL Learning Lesson

Creating a project based learning lesson is a critical task to master. It is essential to pose an open-ended question to students. This question will lead the students from start to finish with their project. If the question is too vague or even too generalized then the point of the PBL will not be met. After choosing an excellent question for students, it is time to introduce tools that the students can use to make their products the best they can be. When I refer to the term "tools" I mean directing the students to use specific technological resources as their means to create their product. After careful planning of the essential question and the tools, it is time to present the problem to the class and let the students explore it in their own way. Depending on the grade level of the students, teachers may have different approaches to the amount of independence their students have on this project. The TIM, or Technology Integration Matrix, is very useful for educators when doing a project based learning lesson with their class. Refer to this link of the TIM to create a specific outline of your PBL lesson. Remember, the main goal of any PBL lesson is to have the students be engaged and excited about the question they are trying to solve. By incorporating community or global projects into a PBL, students then can gain a sense of "passion" through project based learning.

flickr image by Vectorportal 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

UNI Tech Fair (Extra Credit)

The University of Northern Iowa hosted an ITEC Student Technology Fair on April 19, 2012. This fair was a time to allow elementary, middle school, and high school students in Iowa to participate in an event showcasing their innovative projects. I saw many amazing works, but three stood out to me most.

The first one I will discuss came from a 10th grade student. He created a virtual atom using a program called Blender. I had not heard of this application before I met this student and he soon filled me in on how it works. This atom the student had created had different attributes about it. He could manipulate the atom to be linear, two-dimensional, and three-dimensional. I was very impressed by the way he composed this topic. I can see Science classes in the future to be turned around in the way they are taught. I found this student's virtual diagram of an atom to be much more interesting and exciting versus what I remember from my science school days. These new programs and applications, like Blender, are going to reinvent the world of education. I can see myself in my future classroom using an application such as Blender. In addition, he showed a project he did in his spare time. It was of a picture taken with a digital camera then he added virtual characters from a game of his. I could tell this student is very passionate with the work he does. I am very glad to see the enthusiasm poring from him.

The next station I visited was a group of 4th graders. They constructed a robot car that is has a light sensor for motion. It followed a strip of white tape to bounce back the light. To make this project more interesting and to test the technology behind it, the 4th graders decided to create a gap of no tape. This made the car robot go off course. However, the group continued with the white tape and the car soon found its way back to the track. I was very impressed with this project as well, it took the students three months to create their robot car. I could tell this group was engaged in the learning aspect of their project. Technology has a way of engaging people, more specifically students. Students today are wired to computers, games, TV's, and other types of tools. It is important that educators are prepared for what their students are interested in. This will make teaching difficult topics more exciting and worthwhile for students of all ages.

The final station I visited really left an impression on me. It was created by another 10th grade student who created a gaming program via Blender. This game was kind of similar to "Angry Birds." His creation used huge balls to crush pre-constructed buildings. The creator of this program was very wise for his young age and answered many questions I posed to him.

The two videos included in this post are of my personal collection. 

My Boundless Playground

This is my boundless playground created on Google Sketchup. I was informed of how important it is to have playgrounds available for special needs children. Play areas today are increasingly getting better by integrating appropriate equipment for all children to use, but there are some that still need to be worked on. By creating my own version of how playgrounds need to be addresses key issues that builders need to take into consideration. Ramps, the ground cover, and the materials used need to be stressed upon when building a new playground. As you can see in my image, I have create long ramps for easy wheelchair access. I have also placed a rubber ground cover in place of rocks, sand, or wood chips. These small changes will allow children everywhere to enjoy their youth in a safe manner. 

Image from personal collection 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A little inspiration...

Glogster is a fun way to make online posters. In my computer applications class I decided to create a poster that would inspire others in the world. My hope and goal for this poster is when people view it their day is inspired. I absolutely love this online site, Glogster. Go see for yourself how the website works. It has many themes, backgrounds, and animations to choose from when creating a masterpiece. It is very user friendly and children of all ages would love working with it. Check out my Glog! It is a simple poster to remind people to believe in themselves even in the worst of times. There are three videos embedded within my Glog. I hope any person who views this poster will find a little inspiration through it. Have a wonderful day!

Image from personal collections

Monday, April 9, 2012

A collaborative project of a Podcast

Creating a collaborative project requires many things. Patience, careful planning, time management, and teamwork are some of the main characteristics to have if you want a great project. The collaborative project that I am going to talk about today is about podcasts. Podcasts are great learning tools if used properly. Before creating our own podcast, my group and I decided to listen to a few podcasts from TED talks to get an idea of ours should be. TED talks are very informative lectures and lessons on various topics. My group decided to create a podcast centering on the topic of making the transition from middle school to high school. The audience for this podcast would be any 8th grader about to make the leap into high school. Once my group and I figured out what our podcast was going to be about and who our primary audience would be we began to do some research. We started by interviewing current high school students about their school experience thus far and we talked to a few middle school students to find out their concerns. We knew before we started brainstorming for a topic that we wanted our podcast to be in a "news cast" format. So we assigned specific parts to each group member. From there we began to create a script based on the information obtained in the students’ interviews. We dedicated many hours to the recording and editing sessions of the podcast before our project was finished. It took a lot of effort, but every group member was satisfied with our podcast. Our finished product is linked in this blog so everyone can access our valuable information.

Image from podcastlogo