4-D-1: Wikis in Your Classroom

You can do so much with the use of wikis in the classroom.  Who knew?!  Before this course and researching wikis, I only thought about using a wiki for collaboration on a group assignment or project.  However, 50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative and Interactive Classroom, gives several examples on putting wikis to work to enhance resource creation, student participation, group projects, student interaction, for the classroom, for the community, and much more.  This site has AWESOME wiki ideas with examples included.  Many, I can modify and implement for my Algebra I class.  I hope to put a lot of these ideas to practice in the 2014-2015 school year to motivate student interaction, creativity, participation, and collaboration.

I found creating a wiki with my classmates very easy.  I enjoyed this way of collaborating and interacting to create a group project.  The biggest challenge is that sometimes the wiki would not look visually appealing.  Although we would select a certain font or alignment, the wiki sometimes had a mind of its own and would change it.  However, the content and participation aspect of wiki use was easy and convenient.  I have never used a wiki as a formal student before this course.  I learned that I enjoy learning and participating in this manner.

My opinion in using Wikipedia has not changed.  I have used Wikipedia for my personal, learning, and teaching experiences.  I have found that the updated information to be very useful, in most cases.  With any technology resources, I always use caution.  Exploring the resource’s validity and reliability is necessary when using Wikipedia. 

Thus far in my teaching career, I have not had any resistance to using wikis in the classroom.  However, I have only used it for collaboration.  As I dive deeper into using wikis to promote classroom interaction and engagement, I may encounter issues on areas of wiki privacy, validity, participation, and usage.  My plan is to be proactive and create a “FAQ” that can address these possible issues and more.

3-D-2: Social Bookmarking Plan (Option B)

Last school year, our school implemented professional learning community (PLC) groups to assist staff in networking and collaborating resources as well as support decisions aligned with our school values and goals.  My main PLC group consists of 10 Algebra I teachers (myself included).  Using Diigo or another social bookmarking tool would be a great way for us to accomplish the purpose of these PLC groups.  Here is how we could implement social bookmarking for collaboration amongst coworkers using Diigo:

1.  All PLC group members create an account with Diigo.
        A.  Lead of the group will create a Diigo group:  PLC Algebra I Teachers (or similar name if taken).
        B.  PLC colleagues will join the PLC Algebra I Teachers Diigo group.

2.  PLC group members will start bookmarking.
        A.  Members will share sites by tagging the group and sharing with the group.
        B.  Members will tag sites using tag names such as to organize:
                  i.    AlgebraIResources
                 ii.    SynchronousEnhancements
                iii.     AsynchronousEnhancements
                iv.    KeystonePrep
                 v.    Modifications
                vi.    ExcellingStudents
               vii.    Bonus
              viii.    Collaboration
                ix.     School
                 x.     MathGeneral
                xi.     Games
                xii.     Other

3.   Members will rate the advantages and disadvantages of the site in the note section.

4.  PLC group members can expand collaboration by joining other groups.

5.  During live meetings, the PLC group will discuss how and when sites can be implemented into the classroom or within the use of the PLC group.

3-B-2: Learning via RSS

Teachers love convenience and time savers for their already busy schedules.  Using The Old Reader and subscribing to various RSS Feeds gives us just that.  It is very convenient because it organizes all of my frequently visited sites in one location that can be accessed from any computer or smart device. Since I work from home and in an office each week, it will save me time and be less of a hassle then researching for information.  Using RSS Feeds will keep me up-to-date with new technologies, teaching techniques, and resources by easily following my favorite blogs in one location.  Not only does this help me as a teacher but it also saves time and organizes my assignments for graduate school and for my personal usage.  I like that I can also personalize and categorizes these subscriptions into relevant categories such as teaching, mathematics, my hobbies, or graduate school.  I actually taught my 64 year old father to use The Old Reader. His exact words were “I don’t have to do so much clicking any more”.

I think this would be great for students to use in the classroom. For example, my students (and I do, too) love to continuously monitor math setting records. Students can subscribe to a feed to keep them updated on who knows the most digits in PI or the record youngest person to recite multiplication tables.  I also want to start blogging in my math class.  Like this graduate class illustrates, it will be much easier to view and manage new posts from students, too.

3-A-2 Blog Discussion: Making Meaningful Connections

Actively engaged students, real world connections, and collaboration among peers and teachers, aid in providing a successful learning experience in the classroom.  Throughout the nation schools are providing students with opportunities to expand and connect learning among science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM).  In Herff Jones’s blog, Instructors See Success with Cross Curricular Teaching, he illustrates the growing emphasis on integrating subject areas for a successful classroom.

New to our school this year, students can now participate in two conservatories: a STEM Conservatory and/or an Art’s & Humanities Conservatory.  These conservatories are geared to engage students in hands-on activities, career exploration and job shadowing, workshops, and lectures.  Some of these events have included a mock crime scene investigation, creating “get well” cards and videos for other students in the hospital, performing a flash mob/dance workshops, building a mini roller coaster, learning about and making guitars at the Martin Guitar Factory, attending career expos, and meeting authors.  Students are learning the importance of collaboration, deepening their understanding, and being engaged with a creative, real world connection.

In my own classroom, I have adopted a cross curriculum approach to connect mathematics with other disciplines.  Below are some examples:

  • Math & Reading/Writing:  Students strengthen interviewing skills and learning the importance of math by interviewing an adult to see how math is being used in that person’s career and personal life. 
  • Math & History:  Students explore how President Garfield developed a proof for the Pythagorean Theorem. 
  • Math & Technology:  Using online tools to survey, graph, and analyze data.

The benefit of providing multidisciplinary connections has been adding a greater value in student learning and has also increased engagement and motivation in my classroom. 

What are you and your school doing to make more meaningful connections? 

CONNECT the dots

In 2010, a group of teaching professionals started a student blogging challenge with their students.  The blog challenge was designed to connect students outside of their classroom with other students and teachers.  Today, the challenge has spread across classrooms in 15 different countries.  How great and LUCKY are students to have the opportunity to learn from student that come from other cultures and are thousands of miles away!  While this blogging project supports and strengthens communication, literacy, and writing skills, it could easily be done to incorporate other subject areas, too. 

Shapes, lines, and geometrical figures are everywhere we look.  This global blogging project has inspired me to start a global Instagram project next school year.  Students would be required to take pictures of the geometric shapes and concepts of the week to post, share, and comment.  This could easily be done with blogging, too.    

Can you connect?

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