Tuesday, 30 October 2012

PowerPoint Presentations

Today, as I reflect on my experience with the use of Microsoft PowerPoint, I cannot help but smile as I feel a sense of great accomplishment.  For this portfolio piece, we were asked to create a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by a lesson plan for a class of our choice.  In our presentation, pictures, audio/movie, chart or labelled picture, animations and slide transitions were of utmost importance.  After creating this piece, I have gained a wealth of knowledge in which I plan to use as I re-enter the classroom.  I plan to utilise Microsoft PowerPoint in my lessons as it is a very convenient method to use to help assist in the teaching-learning process.  However, creating this piece was not an easy task.  I encountered a few challenges as I created this piece.  Firstly, when creating a hyperlink, I got stuck when I reached a certain part.  I sought assistance from the text book but I was still lost.  Hence, I had to surf the net in order to understand what I was suppose to do clearly.  After receiving valuable information from the Internet, I was able to resolve this problem.  Another problem I faced was when I had to insert a movie or audio.  I found a nice video on Youtube but I could not get it downloaded.  After fiddling with it for some time, I remembered my lecturer informing us of a downloadable software (Mp3 rocket) that could assist us in downloading videos from Youtube.  After creating this piece, I realised that I could have made some improvements to my piece.  I believe that my presentation could have had one or two more slides giving information about the eye.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Utilizing Spreadsheet Software in the Classroom

For this portfolio piece, my colleagues and I were asked to create a spreadsheet whether it be of grades for one of our classes or a learning resource (e.g. a rubric).  I decided to create a spreadsheet of grades for one of my previous Grade Four classes.  After creating the spreadsheet, I created a graph comparing how students did in Language Arts and Mathematics.  The results proves that students are not performing as they should in Language Arts and are however, excelling in Mathematics.  I enjoyed creating this piece and the knowledge received will be shared with other members (whether it be family, friends or coworkers) informing them of how beneficial the spreadsheet software is.  Also, when I re-enter the classroom setting, I will be making use of the spreadsheet software to help me in calculating students grades as opposed to me doing it manually (that is, with pen, paper and calculator).  Not only will I be using it to create grades for my students but I will also be utilizing this software to create rubrics, achievement sheets and Mathematics learning tools just to name a few).  However, although I enjoyed creating this piece, I encountered a few challenges.  Firstly, spreadsheet requires you to remember formulas in order for your work to be correct and the one I had some difficulty with was the 'If' formula.  I had to retype the formula several times before I could get it right.  Another challenge faced was that when creating the graph, I did not know exactly what information I would use to create the graph, hence, I had to re-do my graph a few times.  Finally, I believe that although my graph looks  good, it could be improved with just a few minor changes.  I believe that I could have used a different colour scheme for both my spreadsheet and graph.  I also believe that I could have laid out some information on the graph differently as well as on the spreadsheet.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Working With Visuals - Learning Tools

Tell me and I will forget
Show me and I may remember
Involve me and I will understand
                                     -Chinese Proverb-


     Before I begin my reflection, I came across this lovely Chinese proverb and decided to share it with you.  I am in full agreement with this quote because it is only by involving students that they will fully understand the concept of what is being taught.  The piece that was created by my colleague and I was a flip chart.  We decided to use a flip chart to teach the topic “Food Groups” at the Grade Two level because it is an appropriate learning tool for this age level and will help to illustrate and give students a clearer understanding of the Six Caribbean Food Groups.  It will also help to capture the attention of students and this would encourage healthy classroom interactions.  The flip chart would also be used to show students examples of different foods within each food group and they will be able to identify those they know and have seen as well as those they are unfamiliar with.
     However, creating this piece was not an easy task.  There were a few challenges faced by my colleague and I in the creation of this piece.  Firstly, although we were able to come to an agreement with the subject and topic to be taught, we were indecisive of what learning tool we were going to use to teach the topic.  First, I thought of making a chart but my colleague thought that although it was a good idea, almost everybody in the class would be making charts.  She thought that "it was good to be different at times."  This was an excellent point to consider and we continued sifting through our other options.  She then decided on making a brochure.  Although this was an excellent idea, I thought that this type of learning tool would be inappropriate to teach a grade two class.  We also thought about making a poster and a booklet for our learning tool.  After giving it much thought, we decided to make a flip chart.  
     Another problem faced was that this learning tool had to be computer generated using word processing.  Hence, we could only use images, and texts that were from the computer and specifically, created in Microsoft word.  My colleague and I thought about how we were going to get the pictures printed in colour as this assignment was being graded for the use of colours and creativity.  She was not able to access a printer with coloured ink and although mine had coloured, it was low on ink.  Although this was a challenge, it was a minor one.  This issue was resolved by me getting assistance to print the pictures and words in colour from a friend.
     After completing the creation of this learning tool, and as I reflect on it, I thought that although it was attractive, easy to follow and an excellent idea, a few things could be done to improve it.  Firstly, I believe that for some parts of the flip chart more colours could have been used.  For example, in the section where we spoke about the benefits of eating right, the text box with words could be in different colours instead of plain white.  Also, when we defined what food is, we could have added some more pictures of food.  Another way in which this learning tool could have been improved is that we could have added a page or two in which students would classify foods according to the different food groups.  This would help the teacher to see how much students remember and is an excellent reinforcing idea.
     In closing, I thought that this portfolio piece was an excellent idea and it helped to bring out the creativity in us as teachers.  It also helped me to realise that it is very important to have learning tools when teaching any subject matter because it will help students to want to participate more in class and it helps to cater to the different learning styles of students.

Pictures of the Different Parts of the Flip Chart



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Importance of Lesson Plans

I believe that ALL good teachers should have some type of lesson plan when they walk into the classroom.  Lesson plans serves as a road map or checklist that guides us in knowing what to do next.  I think that we as teachers should always have lesson plans because it is proof of what we did in class.  It is also a valuable resource so that we can use to help us prepare tests, exams and so on.  Lesson plans ensures that teachers are prepared for class and will allow the class to run smoothly.  In closing, lesson plans are extremely useful tools that serves as a combination guide resource and historical document reflecting our teaching philosophy.