Sunday, 16 December 2012

Creating Wikis for the Classroom

Portfolio piece # 7 required my colleagues and me to create a simple wiki that can be used for classroom instruction.  A wiki is a new and innovative classroom tool that can be used for classroom instruction and reinforcement.  It is a website that allows anyone to add, delete or revise content by using a web browser.  You are invited to visit my group’s wiki page that we created to discuss our views on the Department of Teacher Education.  Below is the URL to my group’s wiki.  I hope you will find some meaningful information there!!!

Wikis can be used to improve classroom instruction in many ways.  It can allow easy access to materials used in class such as videos, power point presentations, notes, podcasts and other technological tools at any given time.  Students are given the opportunity to look back and reflect on the materials discussed in class to help when revising for a test or exam.  Another way it can improve classroom instruction is that it can be used to post weekly newsletters for both students and parents.  This allows parents to be aware of what is going on in their children's lives and will be able to help and assist their students when necessary.  Wikis can also be used to showcase students' work and helps to build students' writing skills outside the classroom setting.  Such classroom instructions allows students to collaborate openly, add files, suggest links and create comprehensive documents.  Finally, wikis can improve classroom instruction by sharing resources and links on the same page with just a click that will be very useful and accessible to students. 

The challenges that my group members and I encountered when creating this wiki is that we had difficulty commenting on each others page.  This is because it was the first time we were introduced to such a teaching tool hence, we were amateurs to the process.  However, after fiddling and experimenting for quite some time, we were able to overcome this challenge.  Another challenge that we faced is that we had difficulty adding pictures and pages to the wiki.  However, we overcame this obstacle with the help of our lecturer and some experimentation of our own.  I believe that this piece could have been improved a lot.  I believe that we could have added a few more pages and provide some more information for the audience.  However, this is still a learning process for us and we are still trying to become ICT literate in this aspect of technology.

Creating Videos for the Classroom

For portfolio piece #6, my group members and I had to create a video for classroom instruction.  We decided to create a video on Tourism for a Grade Five Social Studies class.  The video was entitled "Tourism in Antigua and Barbuda" and showcased many of our cultural heritage, historical sites and natural features.  Tourism is the main industry in this twin island state, hence, we chose this topic to sensitize our students about what tourism is and the many benefits it provides to our country and workers.  This video serves as a visual representation of the tourism product in Antigua and Barbuda and will allow the students to get a feeling and taste of what their country has to offer to the world at large.  Creating this video serves as a classroom tool where students are able to view different tourism products without having to leave the classroom.  They will be enthused about what is being displayed and will want to participate in classroom activities.

This video could be used to improve classroom instruction because it will help to capture the attention of the learners thus increasing their motivation and enhancing their learning experiences.  This video will aide in the development of a common base of knowledge about tourism among these grade five students.  It will also provide greater accommodation for the different learning styles that is, visual and auditory learners.  By using videos to teach or enhance a lesson, students will learn about the topic being presented to them without getting bored easily.  Also, I believe that by using videos to assist in teaching a topic could improve any lesson because it helps to communicate non-verbally with the students.  This video on tourism will be used to assist the teacher when teaching the topic of tourism to children.  This will help to appeal to their emotions and dramatize various events and concepts that are happening due to tourism.  Not only will such a video teach important concepts but it will also provide conditions where cognitive learning takes place.

There were a few challenges encountered by my group members and myself while creating this video.  The first major problem was that we had a hard time finding an appropriate song for the students.  We could not choose any type of music to do this video because we were dealing with children, hence we had to find an age appropriate song.  After a few attempts, we were able to come up with Tizzy's song "Expose" as this was quite fitting for the video and was age appropriate for the students.  The other challenge faced was that we were unable to get the music to play at first.  When we uploaded the song to the video, it did not play because there was a problem with the software.  We had to download the software once again and re-add the music to the video.  After several tries, we became successful.  I believe that this piece could have been improved in a few areas.  First, I believe that when we were creating the audio, the music could have been lowered so that we could hear clearly what the narrator was saying.  Another way the video could be improved is that when it reached a certain part, the music stopped abruptly.  I believe that my group members and I could have worked some more to improve this error, so that the video could have flowed smoothly. 

Below is the video that was created by my group members and me about tourism in Antigua and Barbuda.  I hope you will enjoy!!!

Creating Podcasts for Classroom Instruction

The piece that was created for this portfolio entry is a Podcast.  A podcast is a digital audio or video file or recording that can be downloaded from a website to a computer or media player.  The podcast is seen as an essential teaching tool because it provides many benefits to both teachers and students.  It is our belief that education in the 21st century should focus on the development of authentic literacy skills for students.  Hence, we should provide our learners with materials that allow them to become 21st century learners.  As teachers, instead of asking students to write exclusively on a topic, we can now challenge students to publish for global audience via podcasts.  Students are required to use higher levels of thinking as well as exhibit some level of creativity and problem solving skills when using such a device.  A podcast is a cheap tool that can be used to enhance any lesson within the classroom.  Podcasts can also be interactive where teacher uses this tool to give information and then engage in a whole class discussion about the topic.  Students can also use this device to enhance their work and receive valuable information from the teacher about their work.    It is also a great way to develop team work skills in students.  The children will work together to complete a podcast.  Podcasts are also a great way to develop literacy skills for students.  It allows students to develop and practice their speaking and listening skills and they will also learn some amazing ICT skills

The podcast created by my group members and I was for a Grade Four Science class which focuses on the topic the "Human Skeleton."  This device will be used to sensitize students about the human skeleton as well as provide valuable information about the amount of bones and the different types of bones found in the body. First, my group members and I had to decide what information we wanted to put in the podcast, then we each wrote a few things about the human skeleton.  We then pooled our ideas together to compile one information for the recording.  Each of us then read a line or two to create the podcast.  We then edited it and converted the file to that of an MP3 player format.  Using this device to teach a lesson will be one that is very interactive, fun and educational.  Students will be able to develop their speaking and listening skills and learn to work together in a group setting.  

While creating this podcast, there was one major challenge that was faced by my group members and I. While editing the video, there were a few gaps in the recording.  We tried re-recording a few times with no success.  It just did not flow smoothly like if recording a song.  However, we decided to go with it since the software was new to us.  I believe that this piece could be improved by first getting familiar with the software and then rectifying the problem.  I believe that if we were familiar with the software, the recording would have run smoothly.  Also, maybe we could have added a few more information about the skeleton system in the podcast.

Two ways a podcast can be used for classroom instruction are:
  • It could be used to create class reports.  This will be done on a weekly or monthly basis.  Students will work in groups or independently to record what they learned or did in class.  This will help to build their literacy skills where they are able to enhance their speaking and listening skills.  The report could be in the form of role plays, news reports or just talking naturally about the topic.

  • It could be used when engaging in project based learning activities.  Students will create a podcast to demonstrate their research skills on a particular topic.  Here, they will also work in groups or independently.  They will learn the importance of group work as well as enhance their public speaking skills.  It is also a form of authentic assessment where teachers can assess students instead of using traditional pencil and paper tests.