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).