Janna's blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

ED 3508: Module 7
What makes an effective webquest? How can it be applied to the classroom?

A webquest is a student task, on a specific topic, that is to be completed using the internet as a resource tool. Well organized webquests can be very useful for differentiated learning as each student can work at their own rate. This strategy also encourages students to take ownership of and responsibility for their own learning and develop research skills. Students may work individually or in teams (groups). Teachers choose websites that are easily accessible and safe for student use.

For example, a Biology 30 class in Unit Four: Change in Populations and Communities may examine the issue of genetics and disease in the northern Alberta/ Northwest Territories wood bison and answer the question: should disease be eliminated in wood bison? Why or why not? And if so, how? Half of the class could examine the genetics issue while the other half could examine the disease issue. Alternatively, the class could be divided to take opposing sides of either the disease or genetics issue and finish the assignment with a class debate.

Students would answer the following questions during their webquest research:
1. Research wood bison history. (What is the status of wood bison in Canada? What is the difference between wood bison and plains bison? Where did wood bison diseases originate? What is the disease status of wood bison in the Wood Buffalo National Park area?)
2. What are the different perspectives on genetics/ disease in these bison?
3. What research and/or programs have been initiated in order to deal with these diseases? (e.g. Hook Lake Wood Bison Recovery Project, Government of the Northwest Territories)
4. What are possible solutions? (Explore and report)

References (the teacher would have a list, like the abbreviated one below of high quality sites for any students that have difficulty with internet searches)

Annals of the New York Academy of Science. The Hook Lake Wood Bison Recovery Project
Can a Disease-Free Captive Wood Bison Herd Be Recovered from a Wild Population Infected with Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis? Retrieved October 24, 2005 from

Environment Canada, Species at Risk. Retrieved October 24, 2005 from

Government of the Northwest Territories, Wildlife Division, Wood Bison. Retrieved October 24, 2005 from http://www.nwtwildlife.rwed.gov.nt.ca/Publications/speciesatriskweb/woodbison.htm
Government of the Northwest Territories, Wildlife Division, Hook Lake Wood Bison Conservation Genetics. Retrieved October 24, 2005 from

Internet Safety in the Classroom

There are a variety of factors to consider regarding internet safety in the classroom. First is the student’s ability to view critically or understand what makes a reliable internet source. Students may encounter everything from misleading chat rooms to pornography, hate sites, or bullying. Teachers should be aware of these different types of threats to students and, with (or for) their class, develop a safe processes strategy. This strategy will identify issues for student awareness and describe methods to safely use the internets at school and at home. For example, students can be taught that email is a useful means of communicating with pen pals, but that they should not give out their email or personal information to strangers while they are online. As teachers, we can also introduce our students to these concepts through a class game activity (e.g., Jo Cool or Jo Fool for students in grades 6 – 8).

Especially for elementary students, teachers can provide search sites that were already previewed and edited for potentially objectionable materials by educators, such as DibDabDoo (http://www.dibdabdoo.com) and Canadian Kids Page (http://www.canadiankids.net/ck/default.jsp) are a useful for teachers just starting to plan internet activities or when reviewing safety processes strategies. We need to encourage students use the internet as a research device in a safe manner without creating a sense of fear and avoidance associated with the web.


Media Awareness Network, Safe Passage for Teachers. Retrieved October 25, 2005 from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/teachers/wa_teachers/safe_passage_teachers/index.cfm
ED 3508 WebQuest: Exemplar 2: Risky Business Retrieved October 26, 2005 from http://people.uleth.ca/%7Ed.burnett/ED3508Fall05/module7/mod7.htm

Internet Safety Introduction Retrieved October 26, 2005 from

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Module Six: Spreadsheets and Graphing

Spreadsheets are a useful tool in the education field for a variety of teacher tasks, including: observation checklists, rubrics, and student marks summaries. For example, observation checklists can be developed for the teacher to assess student behaviour in an organized, criteria-based manner. A sample observation checklist for assessing a group project may include the following information:

Categories (Group A)
On task =
Productivity =
(final product)
Respectful =
(group members,
class environment)

Total score =

Coding criteria:
3 points = Often
2 points = Sometimes
1 points = Not yet

The above checklist could be easily integrated into an excel document. It would require greater detail in order for students and the teacher to clearly understand each category and the coding criteria. Students could also use a modified checklist for peer assessment and self-evaluation. The teacher could then use a master spreadsheet to incorporate (and tally) all student marks using the autos sum function. Integration of calculation formulae is especially helpful to teachers that have assignments that are worth a certain percentage of the students’ marks.

Sabine Online Professional Development (http://www.sabine.k12.la.us/training/stockmarketA.viewlet/stockmarketA_viewlet_swf.html) has several online tutorial modules focused on student introduction to the stock market using excel spreadsheets. Students are guided through the process of setting up different worksheets, Module B data entry/formula development, Module C linking worksheets for reports, and Module D transferring charts into Power Point for presentations. The teacher could go through the tutorial with the class, or let students progress at their own pace, and then follow up with a stock market assignment where students create their own spreadsheets, reports, and presentation. This would be a useful tutorial to allow students to learn about Excel and practise spreadsheet development with real world applications.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Concept Mapping in Education

Concept mapping is a method of visually representing information or concepts. Concept maps are constructed when the main concept (idea) is placed in the centre with linking arrows to more specific aspects or components that depict relationships through multiple routes or paths (Burnett, 2005). These maps can include examples or details with related components located at the same height on the page. Concept maps can also include cross links and branches. Branching is an important component of a concept map so that no more than three items are strung along before a branch (Harland, 1999).

There are many advantages of a properly constructed concept map. They can accommodate variety of learning styles through visual and potentially interactive methods. Concepts maps can also enhance memory and retention (Harland, 1999). Clear concept maps allow for greater understanding and communication of difficult or comprehensive ideas (Lanzing, 1997). The key component to a successful concept map is clarity of construction. Disadvantages of concept mapping may include the mapping and formatting process. This can be a time-consuming and frustrating event if students or teachers are required to use non-mapping software such as a MS Word program. As well, concept maps may not be helpful for students who learn best through auditory methods and struggle with visual representations. Most importantly, if the map is not comprehensive or inclusive, it will be confusing and not necessarily meaningful for students.

I find concept maps to be useful as a summary tool, such as, at the end of a chapter, then at the end of the unit to draw connections, show interactions, and provide closure. For example, at the end of a grade five science unit on electricity and magnetism, the teacher may ask the students to develop their own (or a class) concept map that depicts the relationship between electricity and magnetism, i.e., characteristics of electricity and magnetism and how electricity can be used to create magnetic effects and vice versa. The students can then incorporate an extension activity by adding connections with electricity and magnetism on their own copy of the map.

The Technology Outcomes covered by this exercise, would include:
C.4.2.2 organize information, using such tools as a database, spreadsheet or electronic webbing
C.5.2.2 record group brainstorming, planning, and sharing of ideas by using technology
P.4.2.2 vary font size and font style, and placement of text and graphics, in order to create a certain visual effect


Alberta Learning. (2000-2003). Information and Communication Technology Program of Study. Retrieved September 15, 2005 from http://www.education.gov.ab.ca/ict/pofs.asp

Burnett, D. (2005). MODULE Four: Concept Mapping Using Inspiration. Retrieved on October 4, 2005 from http://people.uleth.ca/%7Ed.burnett/ED3508Fall05/

Harland. (1999-2000). The Study Skill: Concept Mapping. Retrieved on October 4, 2005 from http://www.iloveteaching.com/chs/study/cm/

Lanzing, J. (1997). The Concept Mapping Homepage. Retrieved on October 4, 2005 from http://users.edte.utwente.nl/lanzing/cm_home.htm

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ed 3508. Module 3

Title of Activity: Weather Detectives

Scholastic. (2005-1996). Investigate: Explore Climate Conditions. Retrieved October 1, 2005, from http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/wwatch/investigate/detective.htm

Grade level: 5

Subject: Science

Brief Description of Activity:
Student will solve the mystery case by first visiting the Case 2: Midwest website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/wwatch/investigate/midwest.asp. Students will answer the questions —What type of storm could cause a tornado? How fast do tornado winds blow? What makes tornadoes so destructive?- – by clicking on the links that follow each question. Once they research the answer to these questions, they will enter their data on the main webpage and then compare their results. Afterwards, students may proceed to Case 3: India. Closure of the lesson will include a review of results and class discussion, facilitated by the teacher, about weather patterns in different parts of the world (e.g., comparison between weather in the Midwest and India).

General Learner Outcome: Observe, describe and interpret weather phenomena; and relate weather to the heating and cooling of the Earth’s surface.

Specific Learner Outcomes:
(2) Describe patterns of air movement, in indoor and outdoor environments, that result when one area is warm and another area is cool.
(10) Recognize that weather systems are generated because different surfaces on the face of the Earth retain and release heat at different rates.
(11) Understand that climate refers to long term weather trends in a particular region and that climate varies throughout the world.

ICT Outcomes:
C.1.2.1 access and retrieve appropriate information from the Internet by using a specific search path or from given uniform resource locations (URL’s)
P.4.2.2 navigate through a document that contains links to locate, copy, and then paste data in a new file
P.4.2.3 navigate the Internet with appropriate software

Rationale for Computer Integration:
Students will be able to interact with different websites and research the answers to their case study questions at their own learning pace. This activity also relates real world weather issues in different countries that will hopefully provide greater appeal to students than hypothetical situations. The teacher can also extend this science activity into multi-cultural studies and link across the curriculum (additional internet-based opportunities are also possible).

The next lesson will take students’ experiences with these ICT outcomes and will extend to interactive scenarios (e.g., Weather Maker exercise on the website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/wwatch/investigate/weather_maker.htm).

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Technology Outcomes Blog Post

Related (specific) Technology Outcome being integrated: C. use graphic organizers, such as mind mapping/webbing, flow charting and outlining, to present connections between ideas and information in a problem-solving environment.

Subject: Science

Grade: 5

Description for Topic A, Electricity and Magnetism:
The teacher concludes the static electricity topic with a Powerpoint presentation. Specifically, the teacher reviews empirical descriptions developed by students in recent classroom experiments chart on a Powerpoint slide. This is followed by a conceptual summary (concept map) of the essential characteristics of static electricity, displayed in a step-wise fashion. The teacher then leads into a class problem-solving exercise about the nature of lightning that prompt students to apply their knowledge about static electricity and develop a list of precautions they should take during a lightning storm. Finally, the teacher provides a sample flow-chart diagram format and students are asked to develop their own flow chart that shows how lightning works.

What is Technology Integration?
Technology Integration is the utilization of technology, e.g. computers, as a tool to assist the teacher in presenting materials in a variety ways and facilitating learning in the classroom. Teachers should use technology in a manner that is sensitive to the interests, comfort, and needs of all students while demonstrating applications for continuous learning and for future opportunities (Kennedy, 2002; Schrum, n.d.). Good technology integration will incorporate devices that will match any student’s special requirements, such as voice recognition software for students unable to type on a keyboard. This is using technology as a tool, not as a lesson in itself. As well, good integration will fit in as a component of a lesson, but again is not a lesson in itself. For example in a Career and Life Management class, applying word processing skills for students to develop electronic resumes is better than a separate lesson devoted to the use of Word or Word Perfect. That would reflect poor integration. In a MS Powerpoint presentation, the focus should be the content and not the program’s capabilities, i.e. a visual demonstration of key points covered by the presenter, not the number of coloured pictures that slide in and out of the screen during the presentation. Another example of poor technology integrations is the unnecessary use of teachnolgy; using it where it is not necessary and possible distracting; e.g. you want to present a simple diagram of a cell – sketching it on the board could be faster and easier and maybe better and a more realistic model for what students are expected to produce (compared with a fancy artist’s drawing with extraneous effects).

Barriers to technology implementation in the classroom may include the expense of resource materials, inconvenient access (booking, location, unreliable availability), outdated and incompatible software/hardware, lack of support from administration, and the unwillingness of teachers to incorporate technology use in combination with their existing teaching strategies. I concur with Beaudin and Grigg (2001) that professional development activities should include strategies for adapting teaching methods for technological use, rather than merely instruction on the use of new software or hardware. As beginner teachers, we need to be cognizant of adapting our teaching strategies with changes not only in curriculum programs, but in the use of technological methods.

Beaudin and Grigg (2001). Integration of Technology in the Social Studies Classroom: An Argument for a Focus on Teaching Methods. Canadian Social Studies, 35. Retrieved September 18, 2005 from
Kennedy, G. (2002). Can I really do that in my classroom? Integrating Computer Technology into the
Classroom. Retrieved September 18, 2005 from h http://www.edbydesign.com/specneedsres/gerryk/integcomptech.html

Schrum, L. (n.d.) Technology in the Classroom: Asking the Right Questions. International Society for
Technology in Education. Retrieved September 18, 2005 from

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Blogging and Education

Blogging as a web publishing and communication tool can be valuable in education. It is important for teachers to keep up with the various technologies used by students to better connect with them. As mentioned in Mollie Crie’s article, blogs are a relatively simple way to create and access information (Crie, 2004). As well, teachers may utilize blogs for a variety of projects, including, by not limited to, journals, discussion groups, notice board, and other writing projects (Westworth, 2002; Hobgood, n.d.). However, if this technology is utilized, teachers must ensure student access to and comfort with this technology. For this to occur, teachers must either teach about the technology themselves or utilize peer tutors. This latter scenario can be a way to engage more technologically-literate students who might be bored by a lesson on blogging, which might be quite elementary for them.

Teachers are responsible for expanding the experiences and knowledge of students with both new and what is now considered more classical forms of communication technology. While blogging may allow for more rapid correspondence, patience once required for a more classical letter-writing process may be lost. Without specific guidelines, the quality of the student’s writing may be more colloquial in a blogging format than more traditional-styled papers. To prevent misunderstandings, it is thus important for the teacher to set out clear guidelines before the process begins. Blogging may allow students to express their feelings in their own words and encourage shy students to participate in a less confrontational environment, important components of building a sense of classroom community. However, I am a firm believer in the importance of students to learn specific written formats whether it is that of personal essays, research proposals, lab reports, or prose. Blogging is a potentially valuable education technology tool to encourage student participation, used in conjunction with other tools.

Crie, Mollie. (2004). Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom. Retrieved September 10, 2005 from http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml/print/47

Hobgood, Bobby. (n.d.). Blogging: an introduction. Retrieved September 10, 2005 from http://learnnc.org/articles/print/timesaver0501 (http://www.learnnc.org)

Westworth, Jane. (2002). Blogging in the classroom. Retrieved September 10, 2005 from http://aps.eu.rmit.edu.au/lsu/resources/classes/blogging/why.html