Tech skills: dragging/dropping, searching, and web navigationEdcanvas
is by far my top selection for tech tool of the year. I think every teacher needs to have this in their quiver. You can use it to make engaging presentations for your classes or ask students to create their own using its simple interface. Let me stop there and have this YouTube from a teacher explain how it works.
Since the latest series of blog posts are focusing on science, let’s continue with that theme and focus on natural disasters
. Develop a driving question that could guide students in their research for a project, such as Which natural kind of disaster is generally most destructive? If you prefer to focus on the emergency preparedness aspects, try this government site as background instead http://www.ready.gov/natural-disastersLesson ideas:
- Practice using Edcanvas before you have the class work with it. You might want to first use it on a whole different topic and try out its many features.
- Using a projector, work with the class and create a model Edcanvas together of what you are looking for your learners to create. Remember to make the focus on good research and organization of one’s knowledge and not so much on how cool the tool is. Start with a simple model and create a title page called, ”What is a natural disaster”? Help guide the class with gathering and organizing the presentation of information. Ask questions such as, “Where can we find the definition to put on this page?” “Should we list all the natural disasters we know here or on another page? How about photos or videos?”
- Before they begin to create their own canvas, ask students to come up with a hypothesis about which disaster they think is most destructive. Tap their prior knowledge and learners’ experience with or knowledge of any natural disasters they are familiar with. Depending on your goals for the class, you might want students to work in pairs or small groups.
- Have students sign in and then review with them the steps to making a simple page or two. I always find it worthwhile to have students go step by step, each student making the first page as you do then waiting until others are finished to go to the next step.
- After students seem comfortable, let them experiment and create their own canvas. Make sure you walk around and help learners with the process of gathering (and hopefully evaluating) resources and organizing the information into a presentation that is not only engaging but flows.
- After completion, (you may want to help them make revisions before they make these public,) have the class share canvases with each other and get feedback. Again, depending on your learning objectives for this lesson you might have each give a presentation to the whole class or a small group. Or they can create a series of links that all can visit. Or simply have a partner or small group read and report back.
- If there are multiple presentations of the same topic, engage students by asking them how the presentations on the same topic were different. Did video or images make the information more interesting? How was the information organized? Can you identify information that was different on each presentation?
Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).
- Don’t miss the opportunity for you or the class to use the comment features in Edcanvas.
- For those who use Edmodo, you can integrate Edcanvas easily. See http://www.edmodo.com/publisher/edcanvas
- Did you know that Google Docs has similar capabilities when you use the “Research tool”?
Tech skills: Basic typing and web navigation
Although simple and straight forward, I find the following structured scavenger hunt to be successful with students who have, at a minimum, intermediate reading skills. And for those who are still learning to how to read and gather information off websites, a scavenger hunt is a fun way to work on practical skills that learners can use in school and everyday life. Lesson ideas:
- Explain to the class that you would like them to become familiar with the website MedlinePlus. Tell them that it can help them learn about health issues they or their family is experiencing while at the same time improving their ability to read online, scan for information and summarize what they read. If you have not already covered skimming, scanning, and summarizing it is advisable to introduce these before this activity. Then ask learners to do the following as a warm up:
- Get the class used to the site by asking each student to find something on the site that is interesting to them, whether it is a graph, photo, or short piece of information.
- Then ask students to write down instructions on how one can find that image or information, so a person next to them can try to find it.
- Now have students exchange instructions orally or in writing.
- Discuss with the class how they did. What was easy? What made understanding the instructions hard? How could the instructions have been clearer?
- Now ask students to think of an illness that they want to know more about and type the name of it into a Word document. Then dictate the following words. After they have tried to type the words, write them on the board. Optionally you can teach bulleting and other formatting, if they don’t already know how.
Have students hit enter a few times after each word. That way after they read they can type underneath.
- Tell students to first read about the illness and then close the browser. (As an option, tell them they can take notes on paper, but not copy and paste text.)
- Then let them open the Word document and add the information they learned in their own words under each category.
- After students have finished, have each student instruct their partner on how to find the topic. Ask them to read about each others illness on the website. Then each student should read their partner’s report and give feedback on how well they summarized the information. Were the facts accurate? Was the information clearly written? Can they offer any help with the spelling or grammar?
- Before asking students to turn in their reports, give time for students to make revisions.
Please share any comments, your experience using this activity, or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).
- Have student’s create an online health poster or infographic with the information they have learned.
- Have the class decide on what questions they want answered for the scavenger hunt. Brainstorm with the class a list of health questions they hope the website can answer. Put the list on the board. You might need to work with the class to limit or finalize which questions (4-5) will be part of the scavenger hunt.
Tech skills: using a cell phone’s camera or video I find that some teachers are nervous about using cell phones in class or not sure how. Here is a simple idea you can start with. Joan Schottenfeld passed this on to us.
I teach two intermediate Pre-GED classes (levels 4-8) at the BCYF Perkins Community Center in Dorchester. My students range in age from 20-60 and come from a variety of countries.
I was wrapping up a two week vocabulary lesson with my class and had written the ten words that we had worked with on the board with short definitions as part of a quick review. The class had already copied all the words and definitions into their notebooks when we started the unit so I was surprised when Bernard suddenly used his phone to take a picture of the board. I asked him why he had done that when he already had the words in his notebook. His answer surprised me.
“Yes I know I have the words in my book teacher, but this way I also have them on my phone so that I can study them wherever I am.” Here
is another variation
for the more adventurous, using PowerPoint that Steve wrote as a guest post for the Florida Literacy Coalition's blog. Do you have other ideas for use with a camera? How about a video? Use the comment feature below to share them or send them on to us to post.
The next issue of The Change Agent
will be all about our connections to technology. Please invite your students to send in their articles (or write something yourself!). See the Call for Articles below.Call for Articles:
Technology is a big part of daily life, and it can provide important educational tools. With this issue of The Change Agent
, we invite you to share your story about technology! Use one or two of the following prompts to guide your writing. (By technology, we mean computers, mobile phones, etc.):
- Write about a way that technology has benefited your education. Be specific.
- Discuss ways that technology has been a disadvantage in your education. Be specific.
- Describe the debates you might have in your family—with your children or parents, for example-- about how to use technology.
- How have ideas about privacy changed with technology? Should there be guidelines or laws that protect people’s privacy?
- How do you relate to the changes in technology? Do you look forward to all the new products on the market? Or do you resist the constant changes?
- Have you ever used technology to promote democracy or grassroots participation? If so, how?
- What is the role of advertising in free online content?
- Are there ethical guidelines that you believe should be enforced around how technology can be used to track your habits, etc.?
- What do you think of the way social media “connects” people? Describe positive and/or negative experiences with it.
- Describe your favorite app for furthering your education.
Instead of long and general essays, we would like to see stories that are specific and detailed. Limit the scope of your story, but tell it fully. Suggested length is 200-1200 words. Please include in all articles and emails the contact information for the student and/or the teacher. All articles will be considered. Final decisions are made by The Change Agent
editorial board. A $50 stipend will be paid to each adult education student whose work is accepted for publication. Please submit illustrations, cartoons, and graphics on this theme too!
All articles must be received by May 3, 2013
Please send material (preferably by email) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cynthia Peters, Editor
New England Literacy Resource Center/World Education
44 Farnsworth St.
Boston, MA 02210
You can download the Call for Articles
from our website. Then watch for the published issue this Fall!
Today we have a guest post by Pat Fina. Pat teaches at the Cambridge Community Learning Center in Massachusetts and facilitates an online professional development course called Introduction to College Transition Math at professionalstudiesAE.org.
Tech skills: navigating to a website; mouse skills, especially selecting an option from a menu and drag-and-drop
Note to teachers: I have never had a class of students whose computer skills were at the same level. So my usual practice would be to give out some version of the activity below and allow students with good computer skills to work independently while I circulate and help the lower-level students. Fraction Circle Game
Have you used this activity? How did it go? Let us know in the comments or tell us about similar activities or websites you've used.
- Go to this website.
- Click on the arrow to the right of the word Manipulatives.
- Put your cursor on the arrow below the words Bucket Balance. Click twice.
- Put your cursor on the words Fraction Circles and click once. The Fraction Circle Game pieces appear in the lower left.
- Put your cursor on the Fraction Circle Container (the white circle with the line from the top to the center). Hold your finger down while you drag the circle to the right to the playing area. Release your finger.
- Now it’s time to play. Let’s start with a simple example. Put your cursor on the fraction piece for one half. Hold your finger down while you drag the piece to the Container. When you release your finger, the piece will snap into place.
- Now drag and drop the fraction piece for one fourth to the container.
- Finally, drag and drop another piece for one fourth to the container.
- Now the container is full. You’ve just shown that ½ + ¼ + ¼ = 1.
- Write that equation on a sheet of paper and next to it, sketch a picture of the fraction circle. Try to make the picture look as much like the fraction circle on your computer screen as possible. [Hint: think of the circle as a clock, and figure out which number of the clock each line would point to, and draw your lines the same way.] Finally, label your drawing.
- Now drag and drop another Fraction container to the white space. Drag and drop a ½ piece to the Container. Then drag and drop a 1/3 piece to the Container.
- Now drag a 1/5 piece to the Container. What happened? It didn’t drop and snap into place because the piece was too large. Instead, choose the 1/6 piece and drop it into place. That one works.
- Now the container is full. You’ve just shown that ½ + 1/3 + 1/6 = 1.
- Write the equation on the paper and sketch and label the picture to match the equation.
- Now it’s up to you. For the rest of the session, fill Fraction Containers with pieces of different size until the each Container is completely full with no white space showing. In each case, write the equation and sketch and label an accurate picture to match it.
Tech skills: click, drag and drop
I have used PowerPoint to teach about geometric shapes. Although you can also use Word, I find it easier to create shapes and move them around on the screen with PowerPoint. There are a variety of activities that can help your students learn the names of the shapes while at the same time learning how to make them. If they are ELLs practice prepositions and imperatives. See the following screencast
for a step-by-step walk through the lesson.Lesson ideas:
- Review before the lesson the following: Names of geometric shapes and if they are ELLs their pronunciation. If appropriate, try this website for a quick review of some simple shapes. If needed, review with students simple commands and prepositions such as next to, beside, under, etc. Make sure students have some experience or practice on clicking on something and dragging and dropping. They could try this as practice.
- Ideally if you are in a lab you can show students how they can create shapes along with you. If not, ask for volunteers to come to your computer. (See video above.)
- Show students how to create three shapes, for example, a circle, rectangle, and triangle.
- If you have a projector, ask a volunteer to come to the front. Model the activity you would like your students to do. Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate how they would move shapes after you give them a command, such as, “Move the triangle under the circle.”
- Then have students pair up and take turns giving directions and following commands.
- As a closing activity, show the class your PowerPoint with the shapes in various locations on the slide. Then ask them to tell you, for instance, “What color is the triangle? Where is the pentagon - above or under the circle? Where is the hexagon?" Then ask volunteers to form questions for the class to answer.
Instead of drag and drop use the cut and paste function.Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).
Tech skill: navigating websites, filling in data fields and printing
We have been focusing on literacy skills such as reading and writing, but for the next few weeks we plan to switch to numeracy. Please let us know what math topics you would most like to see covered. Is numeracy your area of expertise? Which tools or websites do you think would be helpful for others to know about? E-mail us
some ways in which you have integrated technology into math instruction and be considered for a guest post.
Visual representation of data is a helpful topic to cover not only for those studying for the GED but anyone wanting to understand data found in graphs. The NCES
has a great tool that allows teachers and students to graph simple or quite complex data. Lesson ideas:
- Explain how a pie chart, also called a pie graph, is a circle with pie-shaped sections. Each pie slice is labeled with a name and a percentage representing its portion of the whole, or 100 percent. As a prerequisite to the following activity, you may need to review how percentages are determined.
- Have students form small group of 2-3 and conduct brief surveys of interest to them. These could easily be done within the class confines but perhaps in the school program itself or even in the community. Examples of data they could collect might be: What are students’ favorite subjects? What is the dominant ancestry group to which they belong? What candidate do they want to vote for? Depending on the topic, you might have students use private polling.
- After they have gathered the information and tallied it so that it adds up to 100%, have the students go to http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/ and click on the image of the pie graph.
- Walk students though filling in their information by demonstrating with an example.
- Walk around helping students who have questions.
- Have students save and send you the link and if desired, print a copy.
- Since this is also a lesson on how to understand and explain graphs, have each group present their graph, but ask volunteers in the class to explain what they mean.
Have students copy information to other graphic representations to see how they will display. Discuss with the class the pros and cons of presentations with other graphic representations such as bar graphs, line graphs, etc.
For more advanced computer users consider using Survey Monkey
Tech skills: Basic web browsing
Steve is away right now, but I am sure he'd agree that we can't post about listening activities for English language learners without discussing our very own publication - The Change Agent
! In case you aren't familiar with it, The Change Agent
is a magazine for the adult education classroom that is published twice a year (in March and September). Last year, we added a new feature to The Change Agent's website
. Selected articles can now be listened to, either line by line, or as a whole. The article is posted on the website with the audio, and also printed in the magazine. The site includes an index of articles
by reading levels (from 3 and up) to help you select the right piece for your students. The selected articles range in subject matter, following the themes of the magazines (recent ones have been resilience and the multi-generational classroom and the current issue is on jobs), but all are written by adult education students and include a short bio about the writer.
To access the audio articles
though, you do need to have a subscription. $15 will get you one year of access to everything on the site for you and all of your students. We hope that this small fee will not be a stumbling block, as it helps us sustain the magazine. Other types of subscriptions are also available (paper copies in addition to the online access, bulk sets so that each student can have a copy, two-year subscriptions so that you don't have to renew as often...). Lesson ideas (adapted from the Change Agent website):
Share your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have.
- Students should have access to a computer with headphones. Have them navigate to the audio page on the website. From the list of audio articles, have them click on a pre-selected article appropriate for their reading level and give out the login and password when prompted.
- Have students listen to their piece repeatedly, listening specifically for troublesome words and repeating them aloud until she or he is comfortable with them.
- Share printed copies of the article with the students. If the student reads over commas and periods, or stops at the end of printed lines, ask her or him to mark the page with slashes (/) where a short pause is heard, or double slashes (//) where a long pause is heard. The teacher could also ask the student to underline words that appear to be emphasized, or places where the voice in the audio goes up or down.
- Once the student is ready, he/she could read their article to the class, or if they are not comfortable with that, then they could read it to the teacher or even another student.
- To take the activity one step further, students could record themselves reading the article than compare their own recording to the one on the site. A simple website that offers voice recording is vocaroo.com.
Did you know that today is Digital Literacy Day
? Digital Literacy Day, hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education, is in its second year and going strong. Tune in to one of today's events or explore their website packed with information. Digital Learning Day also has a Facebook
page and Twitter
Another way to get involved is to share how you are participating or read what others are up to in the LINCS Technology and Learning Community
In celebration of Digital Learning Day we'd like to introduce you to a new toolkit
developed by World Education
. The ConnectEd Technology Toolkit and the modules within
were created to help teachers who are new to integrating technology into teaching and learning. It illustrates various methods of integration and provides tools and sample activities. Take a look around and let us know what you think in the comments and we'll discuss the toolkit in more detail in a later post.
Tech skills: click, scroll, and basic web navigation Voki
has been around for years, but I want to focus on ways it might be used for listening activities. (There is now a new feature that includes a classroom management system
. I haven’t used it yet. It costs $30 a year. But if anyone has, please comment below.) For those that are new to avatars and this technology, it is probably the easiest way to add voice to a character. Different from DFilm
from last month, with Voki you can add audio using a mic, text, or even your phone. So if you are looking for a fun way to engage learners and add some technology to the mix give this one a try. I dare you not to have fun creating one! And as always, if students work on something like this together, it creates that authentic opportunity to work on both speaking and listening.
Before you begin thinking about lesson ideas, let’s watch a video
produced by youth using Voki to learn a foreign language. Lesson ideas:
- Decide on one of two basic approaches: work with the class on a message you want to broadcast and then select an appropriate character/avatar OR sign into Voki first, build a character/avatar and then ask the class to discuss a message that this avatar, would most likely say.
- Also, decide ahead of time if you are going to use a phone, text, or microphone to record sound. Audio settings can be tricky so always test well before time and check (or bring) the speakers.
- Using a projector, show students how to sign in to Voki. Then model with the class the steps to creation with the kinds of messages you want them to work on. Try having the message end with a question. Have students respond to questions raised by the avatar by having each student write down a response to each avatar they “meet” as they go to each computer.
- Although it is almost always valuable to have two students on one computer working collaboratively, and thus giving authentic opportunities to practice conversation, I think this is one of those times that it is best for each to work on creating their own avatar, script, and recording.
- After each student has had a chance to create their recording, at least one person or the teacher should listen to the recording to make sure it is clear and understandable before presenting it to the public or sharing it with the rest of the class.
- There are two ways of sharing a Voki: sending an email or embedding it in a website.
- As a closer, with the whole class, write on the board words they had difficulty picking up. Ask whether each problem was an issue of incorrect pronunciation by the message’s creator or unfamiliarity of the word by the listener. Did repeating the message or turning up the volume help? Discuss any techniques listeners had for getting the main point of the message and responding correctly.
Depending on the level of your class, you might add in challenges for listening to relaxed speech using reductions. For ideas see, Whaddaya Say. Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).