Posts Tagged ‘global communication’


“Listen up class! Open your textbook to Chapter 5. Outline the chapter and be sure to pay attention to all important dates. We will be having a on quiz this chapter on Wednesday”. All I could hear from my classmates were groans of torture. This is my memory of history classes during my early education. Fortunately for today’s students, history does not just consist of memorizing rote facts and mindless reading of boring textbooks. Technology and the Internet created the ability to make history “come alive” for our students by creating thought-provoking, reflective and exciting experiences to uncover and investigate. The NCSS (1994) stated, “the primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world”. This vision cannot be accomplished simply through memorization of facts and lecture style teaching. Technology provides students with access to our ever-changing world and gives them the opportunity to discuss world issues globally or use critical thinking skills through world simulations and primary source documents.

This week I have been asked to prepare a history lesson for my students using primary source documents. These can consist of diaries, letters, poems, and newspapers. Other sources can be artifacts, paintings, audio/video, and music. (Heritage Community Foundation, 2002) While sifting through the many recommended websites, I was astounded by all of the interesting pieces of history I stumbled upon that I did not even realize existed. I found it difficult to concentrate on my needed research since I could not stop exploring the fascinating information on my screen. Eye Witness to History gives history accounts directly from the person who lived it. I read the newspaper article printed in 1812 about the sinking of the Titanic, viewed photographs from the great depression and listened to a reporter discuss the news of D-day 1944. This is all from one website.

Colonial Williamsburg had a very informative website depicting colonial times. There, I found information needed for my weather unit. I never knew how the weather was predicted long ago, and this site provided me with an accurate analysis of what people relied upon before the National Weather Service was created. I realize I take certain things for granted after visiting this site. I was able to find maps of the colonies from early America and compare them to America today, all on one computer screen.

My favorite history moment using technology was stumbling upon world simulations. Children are now able to assume the role as a character from history, and make decisions using historical information. They are then able to see first hand what their decisions will do to the outcome of today. PBS.org’s Colonial House allows students to be Governor of a New World Colony of Mayne. Using this site, students journey safely across the sea with their selected colonists. They are scored on their decision making skills. I highly suggest giving this a try.

With state testing demands and pressure about student test scores, many districts tend to put social studies/history classes on hold. Students are asked to concentrate on math, science and language arts in preparation for these exams. I believe this does our children a huge disservice. They are our country’s future leaders! Engaging and thought provoking history lessons enable our children to understand society, empathize with others, think globally, make good decisions using problem solving skills, analyze past events to prepare for the future, and most importantly, encourage good citizenship. If our students learn with these engaging technologies and global communication problem based learning methods, I believe our students will be more prepared for the required thinking for desired test scores, but more importantly, they will be capable and confident to succeed as leaders in this ever-changing global society. Technology and history not only make lessons fascinating, they prepare our children for the demands of tomorrow.

Heritage Community Foundation. (2002). Primary Source Overview. Retrieved April 12, 2010, from Heritage Community Foundation Presents Alberta Online Encyclopedia:
http://www.youthsource.ab.ca/teacher_resources/ps_overview.html

NCSS. (1994). Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: I. Introduction. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from National Council for the Social Studies:
http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/introduction

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Unquestionably, language Arts incorporates the reading and writing process. Before discussing technology and it’s advantages with reading and writing, it is necessary to remember that many other subjects within our children’s school day require reading and writing skills in order to address the core curriculum content. Mathematics lessons often require children to explain in written form how they came to a particular conclusion.  Science projects require research and a comprehensive understanding that must be transcribed into a succinct version of the topic.  Social Studies include many forms of reading and response to a particular area of schoolwork.   Health and language topics also require reading comprehension and the writing process.  Each subject in the curriculum requires students to read, research, and write about a particular topic.  Technology is often overlooked in this process as a valuable tool that has the ability to enhance these learning skills.  Technology has the capability to motivate the learner, while providing students with the literary skills vital for success with today’s curriculum.

As a kindergarten teacher, I am currently focusing my efforts on the science curriculum, and developed a thematic unit on Weather and Seasons for my students.  Many of the resources we use from the Internet and library require literacy skills for success with the students’ projects. My students are required to keep a journal in which they log their science learning activities and ideas.  They complete this written journal using small sentence formation and illustrations appropriate to their age.  I taught them to use Internet Resources such as Brain Pop, which includes a “Write about it” tab.

Educational technology is embracing literacy instruction beyond its oral and print-based tradition. “The Internet is constructing global bridges for students to communicate, by changing the way that information is absorbed, processed, and used. Technology is influencing how people read, write, listen, and communicate.”(Holum, 2001)  With this in mind, my students are also encouraged to communicate with their ePal partner schools in a shared writing lesson, an activity providing this young generation with the ability to jointly watch the writing process being developed appropriately.  I usually complete this assignment on the Smart Board so all students’ attention is focused on how we develop appropriate written work, and how we can edit our ideas once we’ve read our work aloud.  The students are much more attentive when using the Smart Board, rather than when I use chart paper or the chalk board.  They are excited and know that the work they are doing is special and something some of their caregivers or parents did not have the opportunity to do during their kindergarten years.  I hear this sentiment repeated from caregivers everyday, which helps to solidify my belief that technology enhances student motivation with use in school day assignments.

Kindergarten students are still developing the required phonics and decoding skills for successful reading comprehension.  I find many of them talking home e-books that helps increase their oral vocabulary related to weather terms.  The students are also provided with effective decoding skills when these terms are used in a Power Point presentation for drill and practice.  Not only are the young learners able to read these scientific terms, but  they are also given the opportunity to use these terms in a sentence.  We use Kid Pix so the students can type new vocabulary and create digital drawings of each new vocabulary term.  When all of these technology-enhanced lessons are combined, my young learners eagerly take ownership of their reading and writing skills.  New words become familiar reading words and each student is capable of using the new vocabulary appropriately when discussing the daily weather.  When using an e-book, rather than a read aloud, I am able to focus my full attention on my learners’ comprehension while assessing and questioning the comprehension of the students.  Teachers who use audio books are able to make more effective use of questioning and discussion time because they could pay attention to the content and meaning of the text, focusing on students’ comprehension process and not just their own spoken performance”.(Hobbs, 2007)  My students can also listen to chosen e-books in classroom centers and share them with their families at home.  They find it more enjoyable to use the computer than struggle with flipping pages in their tiny hands.  These books provide another visual, so important for keeping the attention of little minds.

Today’s classrooms are filled with rich literacy content across the curriculum.  Each subject and grade level is required to go beyond the basic skill content and enhance writing and reading lessons through thematic units.   Technology promotes learning even further by motivating the students and engaging all learning types and special needs.  Technology- savvy teachers become an inspiration to our profession.  Typically, you see a high success rate from their students and a level of enthusiasm palpable upon entry to their classrooms.  At this juncture, technology is here for the duration.  It is evident that it is in everyone’s best interest, especially our students, to utilize this dynamic tool within the educational day

Bibliography

Hobbs, R. (2007, May 17). Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from School of Communication and Theatre; Media Education Lab: http://mediaeducationlab.com/using-audio-books-promote-critical-listening-skills

Holum, A. P. (2001,October). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction. Retrieved 2010, 17-March from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm

This week, I used my Ed Tech 541 VoiceThread in order to communicate my blog post.  Please click on the link provided in order to hear my ideas on how to incorporate the Internet into your classroom. I included examples of how my students use the Internet for my Weather Thematic Unit.  I hope you enjoy it.

http://voicethread.com/share/967970/

or try:

http://voicethread.com/#q.b967970.i5159242

“Access Denied: You do not have permission to view this site” has become one of the principal frustrations for my district’s teachers and students.  Our administration‘s existing policy uses the “walled garden approach” for browsing the Internet at school. “Walled garden” refers to firewalls instituted by school districts to control access to particular websites for students.  This includes limiting access to all social networking sites, including student e-mail and blogging.

Today’s students are participants in a world where global communication is imperative for their success, now and in the future.  In the 21st century, students are required within state standards to participate in learning activities requiring collaboration with students from all over the world.  Internet browser restrictions make it nearly impossible for students to connect with learners globally in order to problem solve, and to lessen the barriers of their concrete classroom walls.

You may ask, “What is global communication, and how should students apply it to their critical thinking skills?”  Global learning projects are easily achieved using a variety of access tools; i.e., e-mail, video conferencing, digital photography and video, digital storytelling, instant messaging, blogs and social forums.  Students are capable of joining groups such as ePals or education wiki sites such as Ning. Within these group examples, students can connect to a classroom consisting of similar age students with similar interests to research and collaborate with on a specified topic.  The group ePals has a terrific unit of study on global warming (Global Warming; The Planet is Heating Up, 2010).  Students discuss the effects of global warming and create a presentation explaining methods of reducing global warming.  The selected partner school students discuss the issues in tandem with your students.  There is  a required amount of communication within this engaging lesson.  Children’s Dreams at Global SchoolNet Foundation (Children of Dreams, 2000) is another excellent lesson for student global collaboration. This very practical activity requires higher order thinking skills allowing students to develop a vision of the future by visualizing their county’s past in relation to the future. Students develop an appreciation for the various viewpoints of others by encompassing differing lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. This fascinating interaction with students in different countries is accomplished without ever having to leave the classroom.

It has become amazingly simple to establish a topic of interest and locate a participating school from around the world, resulting in communication for your students within a safe Internet setting.  According to Julianne Reed (Reed,2010), global project based learning “promotes Creativity, address all learners, provides success for all students, makes content meaningful, provides an authentic audience, motivates students and empowers students to make a difference.”  This statement confirms my conviction for the use of open technology and supports my understanding of the subject.  Schools should be required to open up the “walled gardens” to social networking sites.  Our students use their cell phones, computers, Twitter, Facebook, etc. as soon as they leave our classrooms. Why not round-up that energy?  Although some networking sites may not have a relative advantage with in the classroom environment, there remains a multitude of safe networking sites with carefully monitored incoming content and membership access.  Students have the ability to safely connect and collaborate with other students, teachers and experts from around the world.  Teachers have the ability to restrict groups or web pages access by using a required password or invitation code.  This open technology provides students with the opportunity for freedom of expression, as they enjoy with their peers when they are not in the school setting   Students’ cherished form of communication can always be tweaked for educational purposes.  The result of collaboration with students from other schools and other areas of the world are sure to increase motivation and enthusiasm.  As the old adage goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them”!  There is no better place for students to experiment with social networking, than in the safety of their own school. It is a win, win situation for all.  I challenge educators to convince administration about the disadvantages to site restrictions and blocks.  Someone has to throw the first hammar or the “wall” will never crumble.   Make your students proud!

Children of Dreams. (2000). Retrieved March 3, 2010, from Global School Net: Linking Kids Around the World: http://www.globalschoolnet.org/programs/dreams/lessonplan.html

Global Warming; The Planet is Heating Up. (2010). Retrieved March 3, 2010, from ePals Learning Space: http://www.epals.com/projects/info.aspx?DivID=GlobalWarming_overview

Reed, J. (2010). Global Collaboration and Learning: How to Create a World of Success Without Leaving Your Classroom. Retrieved March 3, 2010, from ED TECH Focus on K-12: http://www.epals.com/projects/info.aspx?DivID=GlobalWarming_overview