Tools 4 Teachers Integrating Educational Technology in the Classroom Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:49:00 +0000 en hourly 1 The Value of Collaborative Learning Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:47:45 +0000 mbrown
Creating a classroom environment where collaboration can thrive doesn’t tend to be a high priority in our education system in the United States.  That’s not surprising given that we emphasize the importance of students finding answers and problem solving individually.  But recent studies are beginning to show that collaboration actually enhances learning.  Students who are allowed to use technology and work together to solve problems learn quickly and retain the information long term.

Collaboration and Self-Learning
Professor Sugata Mitra discovered the value of collaboration accidentally.  He was focusing on how to improve education outcomes in poor areas in India where good teachers were scarce.  He installed computers in public areas at a child’s eye level and waited to see what happened.  The results were interesting.  In every area—remote rural villages to inner city shantytowns—where he had installed computers, children responded in the same way.  Small groups of three or four children worked together to figure out the operating system.  By collaborating, they became proficient with the computers astonishingly quickly.

Collaboration Fueling Advanced Learning
Mitra continued his experiments by loading information into computers and then seeing what the children could accomplish in two months of unsupervised collaboration.  In one case, he told the children at the outset that the material in the computer was really difficult and that he didn’t expect them to understand it.  When he returned two months later they agreed that the material was tough.  A twelve-year-old girl told him sadly that they hadn’t learned much.  “Apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA molecule causes genetic disease, we’ve understood nothing else.”  These kids had worked together to grasp ideas far beyond normal curriculum for their age.  Having Internet access and collaboration gave them the ability to find and then process all the information they needed in an informal example of unsupervised online education.

Practical Collaboration Integration for Teachers
Teachers can integrate collaborative learning into their classrooms easily.  Mitra’s model featured three to four students per computer.  Classrooms that don’t have computers or access to a mobile computer lab can still schedule class time in a library or media center.  And since you only need one computer for every four students, you’ll require fewer computers.  A great way to incorporate collaborative learning as a supplement to lectures is to give students one period to work together in a collaborative study session—perhaps before a quiz.  If you have computers in your classroom, you may be able to implement collaborative segments into each class period.

Why It Works
Teachers have been suspicious of whether collaborative learning produces “deep learning.”  The answer, simply, is yes.  Professor Mitra replicated his experiments in Great Britain in a regular classroom and allowed students to form small collaboration groups according to preference.  These students were given a series of difficult questions to solve.  They were allowed to use any search engine at their disposal.  Working together, these students averaged 76% across the board!  When the teacher expressed skepticism about whether this was indeed “deep learning,” Professor Mitra arranged to come back and test students individually in two months.  When these students were tested individually with no collaboration or computer access they still tested at 76%. So the collaborative process fuels long term memory retention as well as rapid knowledge acquisition.  If you’ve been looking for a way to engage students and move them from passive to participatory learners, introducing a collaborative environment may work wonders.

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University and has a keen interest in blogging and social media. He also writes for .

]]> 0
Site of the Week Mon, 22 Aug 2011 15:11:01 +0000 mbrown
BuzzMath is an interactive math workbook that has more than 2700 online math problems with instant feedback and step-by-step solutions. Teachers can use it to generate assignments, demonstrate problems on the SMART Board, produce random math problems, and generate achievement reports to determine areas of need. Parents can use it to provide additional math practice to increase understanding in problem areas. Students can use it to solve math puzzles and enigmas, play games, and additional study and practice. BuzzMath is free to use but also has a subscription-based program with enhanced features. As of September 1, 2011, one teacher at every school will be eligible for a free subscription to BuzzMath!

]]> 0
LearnBoost Mon, 15 Aug 2011 16:04:27 +0000 mbrown
LearnBoost is a completely free online software that was designed to manage all classroom administrative tasks in one place. Teachers can use LearnBoost to manage gradebooks, assignment calendars, to-do lists, track attendance, and communicate with parents. The reporting tools use data from your gradebook to automatically update graphs and visuals to easily track and assess student progress. The Lesson Plan tab allows you to create multimedia lesson plans that can be associated to common core-standards with one click. Teachers can also choose to allow limited access to parents and students so they can log on to view grades, attendance, assignment calendars, and classroom policies. The integrated seating chart with access to your class roster makes it easy to find the perfect seating arrangement for your class. Designed to work seamlessly with Google Apps, you can connect to your Google Calendar, and even add LearnBoost to your Google Apps Marketplace to automatically put your gradebook into your Google universal navigation bar. Take a tour of LearnBoost for complete details then sign up for a free account today!

]]> 0
Illuminations Mon, 04 Jul 2011 13:56:21 +0000 mbrown
Math will come alive in your classroom using the interactive resources available at Illuminations. There are more than 600 lessons searchable by grade level, topic, and standard. There are more than 100 interactive online activities such as data graphers, dynamic paper (create 3-D images), a fractal tool, a tessellation creator, and algebra tiles that you can use with a smartboard to illustrate complex math concepts in the classroom. Illuminations was created by the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics.

]]> 0
iPad Possibilities in the Classroom Fri, 01 Jul 2011 15:34:42 +0000 mbrown Written by Melanie Bacon
It is summertime, the opportunity to take a break, reflect on the past year, dream about what could be done in the classroom, and explore new resources to weave into the curriculum next year. One of the latest and greatest tools for the classroom is the iPad 2, a mobile solution to provide students the capacity to engage activities at every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, even hitting the highest level of creation. Many schools in the Phase 9 TRC grant will be exploring the potential of iPads in the classroom, and we are excited to share some of the best resources to begin the exciting journey.  In the coming months we will also feature resources for specific content areas, including math, science, language arts and social studies.

The Department of Education and Childhood Development in Victoria, Australia, provides a great Web site named iPads for Learning that provides first-hand reports about the implementation and results from a trial including over 700 iPads deployed in nine schools. Robust PDF reports that include the steps involved in developing the program as well as the theoretical framework to support instruction with iPads are just a few examples of great resources from this Web site.

We can also look closer to home in a small country school district named Southeast of Saline in Gypsum, KS. They are years into their one-to-one iPod touch initiative, and many of the lessons learned can be transferred to implementing iPads. I had the wonderful opportunity to observe a classroom in Gypsum and witness the power of self-directed student learning with touch technology. Learning from the experiences of others is an important first step when embarking on a mobile initiative. We discussed management concerns, using email to distribute assignments and learning resources, and strategies to develop lessons. Teachers visit the iTunes store daily to find the latest, greatest FREE apps. One of the most powerful moments during my site visit involved the teachers’ discussion of the role students play in creating lessons. Students developed the concept of teaching fractions with Cupcake Creator, and it has been a successful lesson since its inception!

To help you get started in the review of great iPad resources for your classroom, please visit some of the best places I’ve found to learn about great apps.

1)   Follow what leaders in the field of technology in education recommend via Twitter or Diigo. A great example is the iPad in Education group in Diigo or Tom Barrat’s Google presentation of 62 Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom.

2)   Subscribe to feeds from Web sites created by leaders in the field, such as Kathy Shrock’s iPads in the Classroom Web site or Michael Gorman’s 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning blog.

3)   Visit sites that allow users to provide feedback about apps as well as rank apps, including App Annie and iPhone Application List.

If you want even more information, visit Web sites like Macdonald Tech for Teachers and you will easily fill up your afternoon surfing the web to explore the learning potential of iPads in the classroom. The most important ingredient to successful use of any technology tool is the patience, persistence, and creativity of the teacher!

]]> 0 Sat, 25 Jun 2011 15:17:10 +0000 mbrown
Brightstorm provides high-quality study resources for high school students. There are over 2500 free math and science videos of teachers teaching every topic in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Precalculus, Calculus, Trigonometry, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The paid parts of the Web site include additional study and homework help tools to help student prepare for the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and AP.

]]> 0 Mon, 20 Jun 2011 15:08:04 +0000 mbrown Physics for Kids
This site explains basic physics concepts in a fun and interactive way. Concepts such as motion, heat and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, light, and modern physics are clearly explained and illustrated. Students can then test their knowledge of each topic with a 10 question quiz. Physics for kids is part of a network of high-quality educational Web sites including Chem4Kids, Geography4Kids, Biology4Kids, Cosmos4Kids, and

]]> 0 Mon, 13 Jun 2011 18:15:56 +0000 mbrown THE JASON PROJECT
Science comes to life as students and teachers have access to real world science experiences, online curriculum, animations, online games, virtual classrooms, discussion boards, and more. The Jason Mission Control Center was designed for students to explore powerful storms, study sea life, work with real scientific research to complete digital labs, design roller coasters, compete in online science fairs, and interact with real scientists. The Immersion program includes videos of ocean life around the world, photos, and interviews with explorers. Students can create their own Titanic movie using real footage, map shipwrecks using real photos from shipwrecks, learn about dolphin behavior, diagnose rescued seals, and more. Jason also offers core curricula that is completely free to use, standards aligned, and centers around four main areas: weather, ecology, energy, and geology.

]]> 0 Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:16:57 +0000 mbrown
Writing Fix has hundreds of high-quality writing lessons created by Nevada Educators. You will read thousands of student writing samples submitted by teachers, a Journal Prompt Generator with 570 topics, Picture Book Lessons Grades 3-12 created using a $25,000 grant, writing prompts for right and left brain, narrative, persuasive, notebook, lyrics, and chapter book inspired writing lessons and teaching tips. This site is well organized and a valuable resource for all teachers grades K-12. Writing Fix was originally created as a resource for Nevada Educators completing their inservice training and has expanded to be used by thousands of educators all over the world.

]]> 0 Mon, 02 May 2011 14:41:57 +0000 mbrown

MathGameTime is your resource on the Web for math homework help. If your PreK-7 student is struggling with a certain math concept, you will find interactive online games, math worksheets, and video tutorials to explain math concepts in a fun and interactive way. Research has shown that students become highly motivated to learn and improve in a game environment and online educational games have been known to improve math scores. MathGameTime has scoured the Web for the best resources available to help students excel in Math. High quality online games, videos and practice worksheets are available for a wide variety of topics such as: addition, subtraction, geometry, fractions, algebra, probability, time and money, and problem solving. ALTEC’s own Arcademic Skillbuilders has several online games featured on this Web site so be sure to recommend it to your students today!

]]> 0