By Bob Hankel
Webinar: Science Notebooks with Google Apps
This webinar by Greg Bendis-Grab was a very good tool on how to utilize Google Applications for the modern science classroom. There were so many uses demonstrated for Google docs in the science classroom it really got me excited about getting to use them. The most popular use of Google docs was to have a collaborative effect like how we used it in our classroom before. For example the teacher can post an article and students can read it and comment on what they learned and also reflect about it. They can also comment on each other's postings. Since everyone is going to be reading it they spend more time to make sure everything is in order.
Probably the most fascinating use of Google apps for the science classroom was performing a science experiment using Google Sheets. According to Greg, "Using this app the students could have a common spreadsheet for their group for data collection purposes." Then the students could all add to it whenever and wherever they wanted to, and didn't have to meet to do it. All the groups in class could be linked to a common spreadsheet as well. They could not only analyze their own data, but all the data from the class to compare as well. They could also create graphs for their data, then graph it against the results of the entire class. This also held the students more accountable to make sure they had accurate data since everyone was going to be seeing it and it was compared with everyone else's results.
I really liked how all of the class documents can be organized with the "Collection" program on Google Apps. This is like a digital file cabinet and keeps everything organized so it is easy to find. The only downside of using Google as a Science Notebook was how it is a little harder to make drawings than a standard science notebook. There is a drawing app on Google but it is a bit hard to manipulate. The best fix would probably be to scan or take a picture of a drawing on paper and upload it to your Google document . Overall, this webinar was very relevant to any science teacher and Google Apps are something that will help me to become a better science teacher.
TED: Jan Chipchase on our Mobile Phones
This video on TED is a talk given by Jan Chipchase who works for Nokia as a researcher for new products. He travels around the world in search of behavioral patterns that will inform the design of new products. His discoveries and insights help to inspire the development for the next generations of products at Nokia. It was very interesting to hear about how cell phones are used in different countries around the world and how the U.S. is not the only country where everyone has a mobile device. "Almost half the people in the world (3 billion) have a mobile device of some kind, and that number is growing dramatically still." Even in remote villages in Africa, the village "operator" will have a cell phone and manage calls for the entire village. It has also created a huge job market in India for people who repair mobile devices. "People in India don't just trade their phone in every 2 years or when it breaks for a new one, they go to a street vendor who specializes in fixing these devices." A lot of times they are armed with only an instruction manual where the phone has been reverse engineered, a toothbrush to clean contacts, and a few spare parts. It really shows how wasteful we are in the western word by how many phones we dispose of each year.
Watching this video was really eye opening on how technology is affecting everyone on this planet and how mobile phones have transformed everyone's lives. Mobile phones globally are now one of the 3 most popular items people carry around with them along with keys and money. In the next 2 years, a billion more people could have mobile devices. To me that number is staggering. Overall, I was amazed at how mobile devices have transformed communication globally. Without the need for expensive land lines, nearly everyone on the globe can be connected wirelessly. It is interesting to think of what will replace mobile phones and when. Who knows, the mobile phone might just replace the keys and money. After watching this video I was disappointed to notice that it was over 4 years old (Oct, 2007). It still was a great video to watch. I would be curious to see how things have transformed globally today and if his predictions have come true.
Unlock Literacy with iPads
Harmon, Jim. Learning and Leading with Technology, Vol. 39 Number 8, June/July 2012 issue, pp 30-31.
This article was about how the author integrated iPads for everyday instruction in an English Language Arts classroom. It started with one iPad being brought into the classroom and turned into a cart with 24 iPads on it where every student in class has one. It seemed that every student was immediately engaged in using the iPad as a learning tool in ways the traditional classroom could not. It was amazing to see actual results from a classroom where ipads were in use so much. Students completed their writing assignments more quickly than with pen and paper. Both the quality and quantity of their writing improved. Most importantly, students who struggled to complete their writing before, were now finishing them! More students also passed the standardized Ohio Graduation Test than in previous years, which was one major knock on using technology like this. One student summed up what many teachers are finding out, "A lot of students don't like actually sitting down and reading a textbook, but on an iPad , you can learn your lessons differently." Due to the results shown, this article was very relevant for me and for any teacher who is contemplating integrating technology like iPads into their classroom more. Another good quote from the literature was, "No other pedagogical tool or technique in my experience engages students in a way that makes learning fun and leaves students feeling like they are in control of their own learning."
Application Review: Amazing Science! Easy Experiments That Make Science Exciting
This is an application for the iPad from Science and Math.com and includes several easy to do science experiments for the science classroom or at home. I had to pay $.99 for this because I could not find any good free apps for science experiments. These experiments are really good because they not only explain step by step how to do the experiments but they show how in a video presentation. Also, most of the experiments can be performed with ordinary household items. I performed a couple of the experiments with my son to test them out and he really enjoyed doing them. I decided to watch the video ahead of time and then do the experiment but you can play the video and pause it at each step if you want. There is an easy to follow menu on the app for all the experiments and there is a link to the website where you can access a lot more material to order if you wish. Overall, this app is worth the $.99 I paid for it and will consider ordering additional experiments in the future. The audience for this app is really anyone who enjoys doing science experiments but should be done with parental guidance.
Review of ISTE Website
This website seems to be a pretty good place to access a lot of information about technology in education and a great place to network with other professionals. Unfortunately, there are a lot of links to their store where you have to buy educational products, with a discount if you are a member. When I signed up for the membership I was tricked into purchasing a hard copy subscription to Leading and Learning with Technology for $50, when the online version is already free with the student membership. All that aside, it does provide a lot of opportunity to go to conferences, read blogs, join social media, and watch webinars that could give great insight into how technology can help students learn more effectively and help teachers teach more effectively. It seems that ISTE is really trying hard to reach policy makers on how important technology is to education.
A good quote from the website is "ISTE’s advocacy efforts extend beyond giving technology to students. The impact of our work is to ensure that technology empowers educators to help more students achieve their full potential."
Additional Technology Review: Planbook
This is a great resource for teachers who want to simplify their lesson plans. It is basically a web based lesson planning site that helps you create and organize your plans. The best part of this is you can access from any location and you can easily share your lesson plans with colleagues, subs, or administrators if needed. You can determine what they see and for how long. It is very easy to use and the basic version is free. It seems like you would probably want to order the premium version for $25 a year because you need this version to attach files, share with other people, export to MS word and PDF, and have access to common core standards. Also, this software merges nicely with Google Apps. I have never attempted to write a lesson plan the old fashioned way, but to me this seems like the way to go.
A good quote from the website is, "Now that I have a year's worth of plans saved, it is an easy copy paste, no more typing plans and attaching files and links, I have it all saved! Now I just tweak and make my plans better because I have the time to do that because of planbookedu.com." Also, "I love PlanbookEdu because I can access my lesson plans and attached files from any computer. When I print out a week of lessons I can print my worksheets etc directly from my planbook which makes it so easy. It makes it so easy to organize my lessons!"