Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tooling around #9

I frankly wish we didn't feel it was important to tie the technology to the objective, but we are convinced that technology is so much a part of students' lives that we have to use it all day - even in a literature classroom. I'm inclined to think that a literature classroom is a refuge from techonology. Kids can type their writing and read a text electronically, but that doesn't seem to be particularly innovative. Research is another matter, but accessing databases and documents electronically isn't particularly new or exciting. I realize that students get more excited about reading if they can do it on their phone, but I'm not sure that's a good thing.

I did create an interactive MLA and grammar lesson for each student to do in the computer lab. It was not a "station" activity, but because they had the sense that they were playing a game rather than learning, it had their attention. They had to drag elements of a source citation until they got each piece in its proper place. They had to type in information using sample sources and they got points and scores for getting it right. I'll be honest - it was probably an effective way to get their attention with MLA formatting which is a painful lesson in minutia, but I hate to contribute to a culture that doesn't value learning. I think it's linked to a decrease in curiosity and creativity.

Why should we hold them accountable? Because the whole point is that learning should be taking place. With just paper and pen, the most a student could do was write a note. With lap tops and ipads, students can be far far away. I'm interested in surveillance software, frankly. With the laptop lid up, it's impossible to know what they are really doing, and they can multitask so fast that they can cover their trail if they see you coming.

Obviously accountability is a problem in all group work, and technology probably actually makes this easier to assess in some cases. Dragon dictation could record the group's conversation, so when they turn in their ipad I could take a quick look at whether or not they were talking about prom dresses or The Great Gatsby. Googledocs is a great way to keep them responsible for keeping up.

As I look at the various edusites, the few that are for literature classes are the readwritethink lessons that we have already been aware of for many years and often have thoughtful lessons, and the other site requires that the student type their answers to a series of questions about a passage and then they can print it up. The only difference is that they are not handwriting their answers. Why take them to the computer lab when they can write their answers at their desk? Until we have enough laptops, ipads or netbooks for every student, it's not particularly helpful.

I like the flashcard app - that seems like a terrific help to the students. I also want to explore freebooks. ( My students were excited at the possibility of putting an ibook of Great Gatsby on, but it cost $11.99.). I'm still not clear on how to use the ipad as a station with the few apps for English available. Other than accessing the internet which they can do on their phone. The educreation whiteboard has me excited. Some of the tricky MLA formatting rules have been conquered by some students, and not by others - how to create a hanging margin, how to get rid of the extra paragraph spaces on Word 2007 - and they could put these lessons on the ipads for each other. This summer I'm going to experiment with what I can share with dropbox in meaningful way so that the day's lessons could be opened by the group - and maybe each group would have a different project. I get to a dead end when I realize that we can't transfer the ipad experience to the activboard. It feels like a dead end (and very small as a station).

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