Using Blogs with a Diverse Population of Students: ESL
I have found through my own use of blogs, one could adapt this form of technology to aid in the education of students with diverse learning needs: special needs, ESL, AIG, etc. Many times these students have difficulty with the mainstream curriculum, whether it be expressing their ideas or keeping up with the majority of the class. ESL students are inappropriately placed in special education classrooms when there is nothing lacking developmentally in their intelligence, but a lack in cultural knowledge. Through blogging, ESL students will have a chance to practice writing and communication skills while empowering their student writing voice. Student blogging can strengthen ESL student misunderstandings in written language and communication. Students can write in their blog about class assignments and daily routines that were fun or challenging and why, they can share interesting stories they read or stories they want to read. They can most importantly share their culture. ESL students, especially older students, have many cultural experiences that are great to share with other students, and having students discuss these ideas through a blog is a great way to integrate technology with culture.
I believe that the World, Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievement (https://www.worldpeacegame.org/thefilm/trailer) is a better example of 21st century learning than Minecraft in School (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO_cs1DrbhA).
I believe this because of what I saw in the students in the videos. In the Minecraft video, the students were isolated, creating things independently, with not much collaboration, and the problems they were solving did not have a sense of urgency. The World Peace Game video had the students experimenting and analyzing real world problems as a group, each student was collaborating to ensure that their country would survive successfully. The students were also engaged, they were relating and applying the knowledge they were learning to the future problems they could face later in life. That, in my opinion, is the very definition of 21st century learning: Predicting problems that could occur in the future and using prior knowledge, collaboration, and innovation to solve them.
The Good and the Bad (http://edjudo.com/web-2-0-teaching-tools-links)
The Good: TED talks: http://www.ted.com/
TED talks provide insightful information from all over the world accessible to the general population. There are also stories and lectures that make difficult content, such as mental illness, easier to understand and easier to relate to than just reading an article. TED talks content ranges from history to science and everything in between, academic and non-academic.
The Bad: Pinterest : http://pinterest.com/
As wonderful as Pinterest is for teachers and adults to find new and innovative ideas on recipes, lessons, home decor and repair, fashion etc., it is not a site that is monitored for student usage. I am specifically referring to the students in 5th grade and younger. Pinterest could easily be used in the higher grades because the students probably have their own accounts. For Elementary school grades it is wise not to use this because there are advertisements everywhere and the links do not always connect to the destination they say they will.
In the classroom we can have a “Story of Culture” day in social studies. This is where we find a TED talk that encompasses one of the cultures of my students, and then students can write an entry in their classroom blog about what they found interesting and what they can relate to.
New technology in the classroom
Recently I have learned how to effectively use and care for a document camera in my classroom. The first and most important thing about caring for a document camera is to make friends with your school’s AV specialist (usually the librarian). The AV specialist is responsible for supplying and changing the bulbs in the document camera and the projector (the document camera does not work without the projector). Next, which may seem like common sense, read the manual on how to hook up and operate the document camera. If you learn how to correctly start up, shut down, and assemble the document camera then your colleagues will ask for your assistance and you may get the opportunity to hold workshops for your school teachers on how to effectively use this equipment. The document camera is a more advanced version of the overhead projector. The overhead projector would project an image from a transparency onto a screen so that the whole class could see. The document camera takes this one step further, it can display objects that are not transparent and it can show color. The document camera can zoom, has multidirectional camera positions, and video recording function. The document camera serves as a great teacher tool; one of my favorite uses is shared reading. You place a book onto the document camera and it is displayed through the projector so the entire class can see the words and illustrations. You can then have the teacher or a student come up and track the words as the class reads together. Shared reading is often done with Big Books that the whole class can see just because of the sheer volume of the book, but now you can use any book to do a shared reading, all thanks to the document camera.