Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Software Skills Reflection

In the first couple weeks of this class I never expected to learn about so many different types of software and technologies that I find could be useful for me in the classroom. I find it helpful to learn about the new technologies that are now being used in the classroom and find the need to keep up with its usage. I have found it to be very beneficial to learn about programs such as Inspiration and Smart Boards for classrooms. All of these new tools I feel I can use with great success in my future classrooms.

The learning of Inspiration was one of the most useful resources I feel I have learned about. I feel using Inspiration in my classroom will allow me to create different ways of teaching, learning, and taking notes for students. The ability to create diagrams will help organize the lessons and facts they are learning so students are able to make connections. They will be able to see the correlation between topics and aspects of history. For example I could use inspiration to create a diagram showing the process of how a bill becomes a law. As the bill is exchanged from branch to the next I will be able to give a visual representation of the creation of new legislation. I also like the aspect that I can take the diagram I have designed and put it into an outline for my classes. I could easily develop an activity that could be for different learning styles. I would be able to create worksheets for the visual learners and those who are considered to be serious note takers. This program will have a great use for my future classes.

Another sources I have found to be useful is the Smart Board lessons. Coming into this class I knew very little about Smart Boards. I like learning the functions that it has to make a lesson fun, interesting, and most of all keeping the students engaged. I like the fact that there are programs for the smart board that can be used as review sessions before tests and quizzes. It is also a great devise to be used in getting students up and involved in the lesson. Every student would want to get up and use the Smart Board. Although not every school or classroom may have one it would be beneficial to know how to use one in the cause that the school district that I would be hired in would have one. It is a very useful tool that will make learning fun interesting and worth learning.

All the programs that we have learned have a use in any classroom it is what a teacher makes of those programs to make learning, fun, and successful. These programs can make it easier to make lessons that are adaptable for students with special needs or just need to a different way of learning. Our world is full of technology and it’s time for our schools to jump in with the technologies that are available to use. I feel I have a lot more to learn to be a successful teacher with these tools. I cannot wait to incorporate what I have in class to my own classroom one day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


            Inspiration is a program I could find many uses for within my classroom. As a history teacher using Inspiration to create fun and innovative lessons will encourage students to find learning history detail more interesting. It will help me create lessons that show correlations between dates and specific events throughout history. This program is great for creating worksheets for those students who are visual learners. The program will enable an outline to be created using its different mapping and organizing abilities directly from the document. High school students would benefit greatly from its use.

10 Ideas to Incorporate Inspiration:

1.      A graphic organizer would be helpful to show the relationship during the Units of WWI and WWII such as the alliances between countries. Students could complete information during the lesson and then use it later as a study guide.

2.      A concept map would assist in the mapping of how a Bill becomes a law during lessons on the development of legislation. This could be completed as an assignment utilizing the readings in the text or from class presentation. This could also be used for a project in which a student will follow a Bill as it goes through the legislative system to become a law.

3.      A concept map would assist in illustrating the checks and balance of powers utilized in the three branches of the U.S. government. It could also be used during class to take notes or completed as a chapter reading assignment.

4.       It could aid in research consisting of cause and effects as pertained to a war or a conflict within a civilization; or as a mind mapping organizer to assist in the students thinking outside of the box. Enabling students to take broad ideas and narrowing them down to specific events or causes that created enough impact to start a war.

5.      This would aid a visual learner in creating an essay idea based in facts before actually writing an idea web. It would assist in the brainstorming of concrete ideas allowing them to flow into a more concise thesis backed up by facts.

6.      Outlines provide students the opportunity to organize their thoughts and ideas for presentations and/or papers. High school students writing research papers could utilize the outline to base their research around and formulate their paper. The outline will assist in the format and flow of the paper. The ability to organize a paper using each subtopic to support the thesis is made easier using the outline. Facts are easily found and can be used to substantiate writings. It will enable students to write their thoughts down on paper before finalizing an entire research paper.

7.      The use of an outline allows students to take notes and/or complete chapter readings within guidelines. Thoughts are grouped according to topics and more readily understood. The organization gives students present day guidelines that are applicable and can be utilized in the future. The flexibility this program provides is its best feature. It allows an outline to transform into a diagram or an outline format or vice versa.

8.      Mind mapping from project resources or paper can be helpful. It enables taking a source and narrowing the topics down. This helps the student decide what they want to discuss and gives them the ability to analyze the information retrieved from those resources. They can also use the mind mapping to take note on quotes they would like to use; it also helps in keeping track of what source they came from.

9.      A lesson about the general population plots and graphs can help with the studying of birth and death rates in a city compared to that of a rural area. Being able to plot the population growth through time provides an overview of the historical events that may have taken place or could have caused the population to sky rocket or plummet. An example: a sharp decrease in population due to the plague or a marked increase after the war referred to as the “Baby Boom” 

10.  An Economics Unit or course would benefit from Inspirations visual affects when using plots and graphs. It could assist in creating visuals of economic principles such as GDP, and the house and stock markets etc. Using graphs to depict information provides a quick visual from which much information can be gained. Students could also make their own graphs to aid in understand the aspects of supply and demand.

Personal Learning Network

            The Personal Learning Networks I utilize to find academic answers are: Wikipedia, YouTube, and Google. These allow me to find specific websites that are specific to my topic and are .gov or .edu websites. I like Wikipedia because it gives quick and basic background on my topic of research prior to more in depth research and sources. I utilize YouTube for my “how to activities” and videos regarding specific time period or provide live footage of a historical moment such as a president giving a speech. I use Google to assist in narrowing down my website searches for scholarly websites and sources. It takes me to websites that have a connection to my topic that I am researching. However, it doesn’t always bring me to accurate sources but it does allow me to pick and choose the sources. For face to face contact I usually consult my professor for assistance, especially if I need clarification of a topic. I will also go to my friends or family who I know may know more about a topic than I do. I have also used Skype when the person lives far and I want a face to face interaction.

Diagram of my Personal Learning Network


Social Bookmarking

            Social Bookmarking could have a major role in my classroom. With the ability to keep track of all my favorite educational websites and to keep they organized for individual units and lesson plans. Social bookmarking would benefit me as a teacher by having the ability to collaborate ideas from other teachers not only in my school but across the country. If someone shares a source on a topic that my students are studying I could adapt a lesson to make it more creative and in the end students will have hopefully learned something. Social bookmarking would also benefit my students in that I could give them access to my bookmarking site and they could access links they need to either complete an assignment or use for research on a project with suggested sites. I feel that Social Bookmarking is going to benefit me as a student. It will help me find sources that others have found interesting and helpful in using for their studies. It will also help me in that if I find a source that I might not need right away but could use in a future project, I could save that source for a later date and not forget what it was.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blogs and Google Docs.

Blogs can be incorporated into the classroom in many different ways. Today’s students have witnessed the rapid advancement of the technological world. So one would assume today’s students would be able to use the present technology or at least learn it more rapidly than older adults. With this said, the use of blogs in a modern day classroom should be beneficial for both teachers and students.
Teachers selecting to use blogs are able to share ideas with other teachers with a goal of creating better teaching techniques for lessons and/or activities of a particular topic. This would benefit students who would be the recipients of more intriguing or interesting lessons and/or activities. Teachers from a wide area and diverse situations are enabled to share their teaching methods in hopes of creating the best learning environment for their students.
Blogs are also good for students; providing them with the ability to be published and share ideas with the world outside of their classrooms. It provides them a voice by which to share their opinion. Teachers can use blogs for assignments based on current readings which encourage interaction of thoughts among students. They can share more than knowledge of subject matter such as voice an opinion and watch for the interaction of others as they respond an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers is beneficial and permits greater understanding.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to adding blogging to a classroom. A clear disadvantage is not every student has access to a computer or internet outside of the school setting. A clear understanding of what is appropriate for posting on a blog. Is needed and must be adhered to. This promotes the opportunity for teachers to talk about being safe on the internet, yet does not protect students from other inappropriate exposures. An advantage of blog usage is students continue to stay relevant with modern technological use which is a vital part of today’s society and everyday living. Blogs also allow students to be more interactive with classmates that they may not be comfortable with at school.  It allows the shy student an opportunity to voice an opinion without the fear of speaking in front of the entire class. Also, a student absent from school can use a blog as a means of communicating with the classroom teacher and classmates keeping them up to date with assignments and lessons.
Technology is changing the world we live in; we need to know how it works and how to teach our students to use it appropriately. Teachers can take the advantage of blogging with their students to form better lines of communication.

Google Docs:

Before this class I knew very little about Google Docs. I was aware of the advantage of using it to create documents and sending them to others to review and comment on but had not learned the proper techniques needed to utilize it. I like the fact that it auto-saves the document. I also learned it can be utilized to create more than documents, things such as presentations and spreadsheets can be made and shared easily. An advantage of Google Docs is the security; only people you intend to share them with can view them. I also like that if someone wants to put comments on the document they can create the comment bubble on the side and put their thoughts  there to be easily and readily viewed.  Additionally, pictures too can be shared and incorporated. It enables teachers to respond to students quickly, keep notes of faculty meetings and being able to send them to everyone. Advantages for students are, it enables peer editing, allows access to documents at home and enables working on projects together outside of class.  Another advantage is, a presentation done on Google Docs can be retrieved on the internet and correlated without the need to download the document or saving it on a flash drive.

A clear disadvantage is it does not function without internet access to the computer. Another disadvantage is the involved steps to print papers or projects from Google Docs itself.
Although I’m still learning how to use Google Docs there are many features I like. I intend to learn more and utilize it both in my own learning and incorporate it into my future teaching world.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012