Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Computer Time

Every Wednesday during our 5th period English class we go to the Library computers. It is one of the few times my students get to use the computers at school. They would rather be on “you tube” or surfing the web, but we are limited to our reading program. Since my students have difficulty with reading, I did some research last year and came across the “Start to Finish” program that is put together with hi/lo reading material. When requesting the Librarian to purchase a set, I happily became aware that the library already has one. This is a great program. The program allows for the students to interact with the computer. They can read the story from the book directly or can read from the computer screen. The best part of the program is that the cd that accompanies it allows the student to read with the computer, they use earphones and the program will actually read the book to the student while it displays the script. The students also have the opportunity to read most of the book by themselves while being able to check the words they do not recognize by clicking on them. This allows students to read at a speed that is comfortable for them. Hopefully, this makes it easier for the student to comprehend and retain the story line. This is great by itself, but it also has test at the end of each chapter so you can see how well the student comprehends the story. Another feature is the ability to check the student’s reading fluency. Unfortunately, we don’t have the microphones that are required for this portion so we are unable to take advantage of this step. It lets the students see their progress as it will display the test scores on a graph after each chapter test. The students have learned how to use this program which is very simple. They have also learned how to install this program on the computers because we are forced to upload the program each time we use it due to the district’s freeze on software programs installed on site. My students really seem to like to read books using this program, and since my main focus, besides raising the reading levels, is to get the students to enjoy reading I am a happy camper too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Going Digital!

It isn't my week to post, but I would like to document this trial and error proposal as I go. This class has made me think of ways my students can use technology. I would like for my students to be able to learn something that they will definitely be able to use in their future. Since my students are not planning on a college career, that tool should be one that can be used in everyone’s home. That is why I have come up with the idea of photographs. We all take them, we all love them. So if my students can learn how to take digital photographs, how to modify them in a computer program, and how to print them out, it will be useful their whole lives. So the plan is to take my students to the park on Thursday afternoon armed with at least two or more digital cameras. There will have to be a lot of sharing, but the idea is for them to take photos of nature. Nature can consist of plants, and animals. It should be interesting to see what kinds of "nature" they choose to shoot. I want to be able to help them to use their photographs in photo shop in the school computer lab next week. I will be learning how to do the different changes this weekend, and will be teaching them as I learn. The end result will hopefully be a nice photo book for them to give to their parents, or a friend. It would be great if some of our pictures actually ended up in this year’s yearbook. I will be talking to the yearbook advisor about this after I see what type of photos we come back with. Wish me luck, this could be tricky. Their idea of nature could be each other.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Technology in my classroom today!

My students had the use of the school’s computer lab this morning. Our main focus was to learn about organelles and to use power point to make a presentation for the entire class. The first plan of action was to find internet sites from which the students could obtain information. As I watched them, I noticed that they just went directly down the page that appeared on the screen from the search engine. This gave me thought as to how to teach them about finding reliable information on the internet. I would need to be able to teach them how to tell if a site was a good source or not. With this thought still in my mind, I checked with our librarian on possible software we have available to offer our students. I mentioned how my students didn’t know how to determine whether a site was reliable or not. She referred me to a handout that she had made from another librarian’s website, with permission of course. She than gave me her permission to use the new format she had designed to help teach my students. This brought up the idea of teaching my students about plagiarism too. They have no idea what this word means, or that it is illegal to use someone else’s work as their own. References and citations are foreign to my students. Plagiarism and citing references are both possibilities for future lessons too.

When we came back to the original issue of available technology, she referred immediately to Power Point, Excel, Word, and Publisher. I asked if we had any additional technology my students could learn. It was then suggested to use such literary learning aids such as Start to Finish. This is a great system for helping students with literacy, but only requires the student to read, and then answer appropriate questions regarding comprehension of the section just read. I asked her if she had any other systems that I could possible teach the students that would help them beyond their high school education. She suggested teaching them how to use databases to research topics. Since these databases are used in public libraries, and college libraries, it will benefit them through out their lives. I will give these some serious consideration as whether or not to use it for my proposal on technology. The main point I learned today was our school is really technologically challenged.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Just Starting Out

Tonight is the first time I have ever done a blog. It should be interesting to see how much it grows through out this semester. I would really like to be able to teach my students how to use this type of blog so they can keep in touch with each other even after they leave high school. Unfortunately, most of my students do not have access to computers at home but there is still the public library!