Posts tagged ‘classroom based learning’

Using the Internet in the Classroom
Lesson Pathways | April 14, 2010 | 2:30 pm

wwwGone are the days of sticking to books and chalkboards in the classroom. The Internet has opened up a world of resources that teachers can use to supplement their lesson plans.

For Research

When students need to research something, whether for a report, project, or simply to participate in a discussion, the Internet provides a ready research platform. Sites like Ask for Kids and KOL make it easy for students to find the information they need, when they need it. However, Internet research isn’t just for kids. Sites like Discovery Education are great places for teachers to find information and ideas as well.

For Communication

The Internet is a powerful communication tool. Studying a particular part of the world? Students can write to email pals in that area to learn about cultural differences and maybe even make long-distance friends. Epalsis a site that facilitates student email conversations.

For Multisensory Learning

Videos, animations, and audio clips provide a good way to reinforce information learned via more traditional means. For example, students may benefit from seeing a video presentation about the mummification process or from seeing some of the marine life found in the Amazon River. Listening to a famous speech may be more exciting than simply reading it, and full-color animations may help illustrate concepts better than whiteboard drawings in some cases.

Classroom Computer

For Fun

There’s something to be said for resources that combine fun with learning. Many students will enthusiastically approach math practice that is presented in a gaming format. They also tend to enjoy interactive quizzes and similar resources that allow them to forget they’re actually working. While these resources won’t replace traditional practice, they can go hand in hand with it to bolster a better understanding.

For Display

Think of all you can do with a class website. Students can showcase their work and display projects completed as a group. Planning for a special guest to visit the classroom? The teacher can introduce the guest and provide a little background to prepare the class. This website can even be used to post newsletters and calendars–perfect for keeping parents up to date on classroom happenings.

For Learning at a Different Pace

The Internet can also be good for providing individual reading assignments, projects, and research to students. This may come in handy when a particular student is ready to move on to a new topic before the rest of the class or when a student needs a little extra time to spend on a topic before moving on to the next subject.

World

To See the World

Field trips are a great way to learn, but it’s impossible to travel to all the places students might enjoy. This is where online field trips can help. With an Internet connection, students can travel the world and see everything from the pyramids to the Louvre Museum, without leaving the classroom!

What else can you find on the Internet?

  • Lesson Plans
  • Facts and Figures
  • Updated Information
  • Maps
  • Exhibits
  • Experiments
  • Songs
  • Biographies
  • Simulations
  • Stories
  • Collaborative Internet Projects

How do you integrate technology in the classroom?  We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions below!

Calling All Writers!
Lesson Pathways | March 2, 2010 | 11:15 am

PaperDo you have a blog or a blog topic close to your heart?  The LessonPathways blog is looking for volunteer writers.

Whether you just want to get your feet wet in writing blog posts, or you have an established blog and would like additional exposure, this is a great opportunity.   We’re anxious to publish different points of view from new homeschoolers, veteran homeschoolers, class room teachers, dads or anyone that cares about the education of children!

If you are interested, please drop an email with a writing sample to Blog@LessonPathways.com for more information.

Special Offer Extended! Don’t Miss Out!
Lesson Pathways | February 1, 2010 | 8:55 am

Homeschool Buyer's CoOp

Last week, we told you about our exciting partnership with the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op to bring you an awesome deal on an annual LessonPathways.com subscription.

The current price is only $49.99 for a full year’s subscription for your entire family.  That’s 50% off our normal annual subscription rate!  The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op has generously agreed to extend this offer through 1pm EST, February 3rd.

If you haven’t taken advantage of this phenomenal group-buy price, please don’t delay.  This special offer is only available through the Homeshcool Buyer’s Co-Op.  Be sure to stop by their Group Buy page and don’t forget to tell a friend.

Get a Great Deal On LessonPathways!
Lesson Pathways | January 29, 2010 | 1:00 pm

We’ve partnered with the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op to bring you a great deal on LessonPathways that you won’t find anywhere else!

Homeschool Buyer's CoOpThis deep discount for Lesson Pathways annual subscription is available exclusively through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. By purchasing Lesson Pathways as a group through the Co-op, you will enjoy UP TO 50% OFF — a full year of access for as low as $49.99!

Beta testers and current users can even add time to existing subscriptions at this low rate!  You’ll need to become a member of the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op (it’s free!) to take advantage of these great savings.

This offer is only available through January 31st. Don’t let these savings slip by, visit the Group Buy page today and join this Group Buy!

Embracing Social Technology
Lesson Pathways | January 15, 2010 | 7:01 am

While browsing through my blog reader, I ran across a great post about 3 Ways Educators are Embracing Social Technology and wanted to share!

Make sure to check out the original post HERE at Mashable.com

The modern American school faces rough challenges. Budget cuts have caused ballooning class sizes, many teachers struggle with poorly motivated students, and in many schools a war is being waged on distracting technologies. In response, innovative educators are embracing social media to fight back against the onslaught of problems. Technologies such as Twitter and Skype offer ideal solutions as inexpensive tools of team-based education.

Pockets of experimentation are emerging all around the world, and I hope to inspire my fellow teachers with some stories of success. From cell phones to social media, below are three schools that have chosen to go with the flow of popular technology to turn the tide for education.

Skype and Language Learning

Why force students to yawn over a textbook when a real-life native speaker is only a Skype call away? At Marquette University, Spanish students hone their foreign language skills with frequent webcam chats with their English-learning counterparts in South America.

“I absolutely fell in love with this program,” wrote one student. Professor Janet Banhidi, the brains behind the virtual language exchange, said Skype conversation gives students a surprisingly authentic experience. As a teacher (and fluent speaker), she can only give her students limited 1-on-1 attention. With Skype, every student has weekly access to a free personal tutor.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of using Skype is the radical increase in motivation. A whopping 85.3% of Janet’s students kept in touch with their digital pen-pals outside of the classroom through Facebook. “In the end, the best part of this exchange was gaining a friend who I still today talk with on Facebook” said one student. Additionally, though some of her students enroll to simply fulfill a language requirement, many participants have gone on to major in Spanish from the experience. Students who go above and beyond mandatory assignments will be more likely to remember class material and apply it when they get out into the working world.

Mobile Phones

While many schools around the country have declared all-out war on mobile devices, Wiregrass High School took a decidedly different approach, integrating cell phones into the entire educational experience. Students exchange questions and answers with their teachers via SMS and browse classroom blogs for additional instruction. Moreover, as an efficient collaborative tool, students can quickly trade notes or take a snapshot of the blackboard for later studying.

Like with any tool, students do misuse the privilege, but according to the school’s principal the number of cell-phone related infractions is “minuscule.” Perhaps this is because the policy permits students to use cell phones socially between classes, giving them a much needed digital fix throughout the day. Wiregrass’s experience pairs nicely with similar workplace-related research which shows that giving employees periodic down-time with the Internet actually boosts productivity. In the end, fighting pervasive technologies may just sap the energy of everyone involved.

Twitter

Many universities have internal e-mail systems and message boards. But getting students to routinely check these systems for updates can be a chore. As a college teacher myself, my students have been required to participate in group message boards, which is a poor substitute for genuine intellectual curiosity. As a solution, Leicester University in the UK turned to Twitter, hoping that the popular micro-blogging technology would encourage collaboration outside of class. Students were provided with an iPod touch, given instructional materials, and told they had to make a few academic-related tweets a day. Soon, a thriving community grew, complete with @replies and hashtags flying back-and-forth between participants, tutors, and even members outside of the program. Additionally, the study has become an unexpected marketing boon for the university. The Association for Learning Technology noted in its newsletter:

“One year ago, a Twitter search for ‘University of Leicester’ revealed little of interest. More recent searches reveal a growing volume of conversation between existing students, often across institutional boundaries, and also from prospective students, commenting on perceptions of the University and Higher Education in general.”

The university was impressed by the experiment and has begun collaborating with teachers and staff to extend participation throughout the campus. Leicester University joins the growing ranks of major universities, such as M.I.T., that are preparing students with technological and cooperative skills essential to real-life scientific experimentation.

Conclusion

As social media becomes ubiquitous, students prepared for technological collaboration will graduate with a much-needed edge on the competition. Fortunately, in these economically turbulent times, social media is a free and popular alternative to traditional instruction.

Click HERE to read even more about Social Media and Education on Mashable.com!

Technology in Teaching
Lesson Pathways | January 13, 2010 | 6:00 am

What does it mean, exactly, to use technology in teaching? The definition of what technology is changes almost daily. So what does it mean when you use technology in your classroom? Is it just the use of computers? The Internet? GPS? There’s always new software, a new gadget, or a new site to try.

It’s important to be flexible and engage your students. There are just as many ways to present technology to your students as there are ways to teach them to read. The way you use technology is going to vary with each class and each student’s interest and ability level.

As education evolves, technology increasingly becomes a channel for innovative teaching and learning practices.

In addition, technology can be used to motivate students. Each class has a wide set of children who vary in their learning style and have different interests. It is the teachers ability to figure out individual learning styles and interests of students; thus making learning more fun and meaningful at the same time. Being a teacher, I think its my responsibility to come up with creative ideas to make curriculum more interesting. It has been a proven fact that visual factor plays a very important role in learning and memorizing details. So, I have been encouraging my students to use the following digital tools :

1. A list of all the good Web resources for Education: NoodleTools

2. Online Library: Lii

3. Collaborative learning platform: FunnelBrain.
This platform is entirely user-driven. Anyone can contribute by submitting or editing or reviewing the electronic flashcards, as well as adding rich content such as photos, videos, audio voice recordings and math equations. In addition, students work in teams to create review materials, paired with video explanations, for their class and leverage a learning management application known as the “Funnel” that tracks and monitors learning progress with a spaced repetition algorithm.

source: http://teachers20.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=1uu7ck4oyjsbo

Lesson Pathways is another site I would recommend that uses technology to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles and student interests. The units there provide a multitude of resources, all available online. I can print off worksheets, assign educational games, or have my students take online quizzes. The creators of that site have taken great care to be sure their lessons will cover a range of student abilities.

Technology has no doubt changed the way we run our classrooms. It’s changed the way we operate in our daily lives. If we approach these changes in our classrooms and strive to adapt our technology use to our classrooms, we will undoubtedly have many more successful and engaged students.

This post was written by Crystal P., classroom educator and LessonPathways.com contributor. You can read more about her in the “Our People” section.

Using Videos in the Classroom
Lesson Pathways | December 15, 2009 | 7:00 am
FilmIt was always a big event when the teacher pulled out the projector. You remember it don’t you?  She would pull out the big reels of film and spend a few minutes of class time trying to thread the film through that little slot and get it going on the empty reel.  I remember looking over at the reel during boring films to see how much was left.  Often times, the sound would be just a little off from where it should be in the film.  At the end of the movie, the last of the film would filter through the machine making that “flap, flap, flap” sound until the teacher turned it off.
Those days are long gone.  I had to learn how to use one of those projectors in college in the early 90’s, but I’ve never even come across one in a classroom setting.  Instead, when I first started teaching, we used VHS tapes.  Those were quickly replaced by DVDs (in the schools lucky enough to have a DVD player).  Now?  Well, I can still use those things, I guess – although VHS tapes are becoming fairly difficult to find.  But now, all I have to do is turn on my computer to share videos with my classroom.

There are also many free sites that teachers can use to provide video content to supplement their lesson plans.  The biggest hurdle that teachers face is finding videos that your particular school’s firewall or technology department will allow.  It can be done though.
Today, there are an abundance of sites available for teachers to use in their classrooms. Some schools subscribe to Livestream.com or a similar service, allowing their teachers access to videos on demand.  There are also many free sites that teachers can use to provide video content to supplement their lesson plans.  The biggest hurdle that teachers face is finding videos that your particular school’s firewall or technology department will allow.  It can be done though.  Sharing videos with your students is an easy way to wrap up or even to introduce a lesson. Videos grab attention and get kids interested.  The great thing is that they don’t have to be a full length video or one that takes up an entire class period.  There are many short videos out there that can introduce a concept or present information in a different way than you have in class.
Of course, with this comes having to actually find the videos.  That can be a task, especially if your school doesn’t subscribe to one of the larger video streaming sites.  Most teachers I know can’t afford to subscribe to them on their own – a lot are fairly pricey. That’s one of the reasons I like to use Lesson Pathways. Their extremely affordable site has a wealth of pre-screened videos that are already filtered by subject into the lesson that you’re planning to teach.  They’re also already arranged by approximate grade level.  It makes it really easy to find videos related to the subject matter that I’m teaching.  They use trusted video sites such as Teachertube.com, Discovery Education, and National Geographic.
Classroom videos have come a long way from the reel-to-reel filmstrips that many of us watched as children.  We are now lucky enough to have access to a nearly unlimited supply of video resources.  I love using them as a teaching tool, as I am sure many of you do as well. They are great for introducing concepts, reinforcement, and even just for a break in the every day action.  Sometime, though, I’d like to get my hands on an “old-school” projector, just so my students can have the experience of hearing the “flap, flap, flap.”
This post was written by Crystal P., classroom educator and LessonPathways.com contributor.  You can read more about her in the “Our People” section.
The Card Catalog! The Dewey Decimal System! The Stacks!
admin | December 3, 2009 | 6:09 am

If you asked your students what these things are, I’m betting they’d either stare at you blankly or ask if it’s the name of an “oldies band.” We are not just moving in a new direction for obtaining information. The movers have already arrived and your forwarding address is at the post office (you know, that place where you get that paper stuff called mail).

To say that the way we (and our students) obtain information has changed drastically in the last 20 years would be a dramatic understatement. Where we used to search for information, we now have to kind of “weed out” information because there is just so much available to us, literally at our fingertips.

Do you know what we did if there was a question we couldn’t answer and we couldn’t find the answer in our encyclopedias? We called the “reference desk” at the library. The nice lady there would try to answer any question you had, even if it took her a while to look something up.

So if you were researching something, you’d have to pull out a rack in the card catalog according to the alphabetized subject and flip through the cards. If you got lucky, the title of a book or a brief description would point you in the right direction. Then you had to actually find the book, skim through it, and hope that you’d find some information.

Quote: http://dubiousquality.blogspot.com/2007/05/information.html

The Internet is changing the way our students learn, and it’s changing the way we teach. If we don’t adapt our teaching to meet these changes, we’re going to lose our students. Those of us who are already teaching are going to have to keep up. Education students in universities are learning to teach this way. It’s not new to them. It’s already second nature. Along those lines, the kids we teach are already a step or two ahead of us when it comes to technology anyway. Kids can now study their spelling words online using sites like SpellingCity.com. Teachers use the Internet to generate their own quizzes, worksheets, and web quests.

I love that the information is so “easy” to find these days. I put easy in quotation marks because as I mentioned earlier, there is just so much out there that sometimes it becomes overwhelming. That’s one of the things I love about Lesson Pathways. When I want to find an activity or an online game or even just some reference material for a subject, it’s already there. It’s been screened for content and appropriateness. All I have to do is enter a search term into the search box and everything I need has already been found for me. I don’t want to be left behind when it comes to technology, and a site like Lesson Pathways makes it easy for me to look like I know what I’m doing–even when I don’t (which never happens…really, honest).

I’m glad information has become so easy to obtain. It gives me more time to focus on my students’ needs, and it gives my students more time to focus on synthesizing the information they have in front of them instead of spending all that time searching for a needle in a haystack.

Editors, synthesizers, and creators. That’s the new generation. They’ll no longer have hunt and gather for precious bits of information. Instead, they’ll be able to build something new and–we can hope–better.

Quote: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2140631,00.asp

This post was written by Crystal P., classroom educator and Lesson Pathways contributor.

Using the Library to Supplement Your Educational Resources
Lesson Pathways | November 30, 2009 | 2:47 pm

Homeschooling parents are often looking for inexpensive ways to supplement their children’s learning experience.  Two resources I’ve found particularly helpful in our family include the library and Netflix video rental.

Using Free Books in Homeschooling Situations

Homeschoolers might be surprised at the amount of resources and learning materials available via the library.  We live in a very small community, so our county library is quite tiny and only has about 12 rows of books (total–for fiction and non-fiction alike).  However, through that tiny hub, I am able to access any book in the state library system via Inter-Library Loan.

Familiarize Yourself With the Inter-Library Loan System

Using the Inter-Library Loan system, I am able to get my hands on just about any book I choose. Often, I will bring a “wish list” of book titles, authoer nmes and ISBN numbers I gleaned from the internet and present it to my librarian.  Within the next two weeks, book after book arrives from libraries across the state.  The checkout times are very generous, usually much longer than the standard checkout times for the in-house books.

Be sure to find out what the rules and limitations are for your particularly library.  Some books are only available for a fee.  Often, that fee will be waived for teachers and educators, so be sure to inquire about the rules for use in an educational setting. Sometimes there is a limit on the number of inter-library loan books that can be requested at one time.  Ask your librarian for help!  I’ve even acquired full-sized textbooks this way when I wanted to compare a couple of potential books before making a purchase of the one I’d ultimately want to use.

Educational Programs

I recently took my daughter to a quilts-through-history seminar, which we later used to talk about decades on our history timeline.  We’ve also been to insect adventure activities, story hours, sewing demonstrations and many, many more wonderful educational programs through the library.  Sometimes they are geared towards adults, but my children still learn something.  Other times they are designed specifically for children.  Either way, these free learning opportunities give your children a chance to meet someone outside the family–in a supervised environment–who is an expert in her or her area of knowledge!

Don’t be afraid to approach the teacher afterwards and ask about additional recommended resources, for more information on a certin topic or when he or she will be speaking again.  Sometimes those contacts may lead to other learning opportunities for your family.  By taking advantage of the resources available at your community library, you will find that your children’s learning opportunities will be enriches, without breaking your pocketbook.

Angela England lives in rural Oklahoma with her husband and soon to be four children, where she works as a professional blogger in addition to homeschooling, doing childbirth work and massage therapy. England is the founder of The Untrained Housewife – a social site for homemakers, mothers and homeschoolers to exchange back-to-the-basic tips and tricks.

Review: United States History Map
Lesson Pathways | November 12, 2009 | 5:09 pm

How Did We Go From 13 Colonies to 50 States?

Who Were the Native Americans?

Find Answers to These Questions and Learn More About Our Nation with This Fun Interactive.

The United States History Map is an interactive website where kids can learn about the geographic features, regions, and history of the United States. The site is broken down into five major sections: From Sea to Shining Sea, 50 States, Indians, Colonists, and The Nation Expands. Each section provides background information on the topic, an interactive, and a timed quiz.

Product Description:Become a geography whiz as you learn how the United States was settled. Discover how the continent was irrevocably changed by European colonization, the events that caused the wholesale displacement and decimation of the land’s original inhabitants, and how the 50 states came to be formed.

In addition to the U.S. history interactive, you can choose from other subject areas as well, which are located in the upper right corner of the site. You can pick from a list of subjects, including math, science, language, and additional history topics.

Uses: Use this interactive to teach or supplement a variety of history topics, as well as any other subject of your choosing. This particular interactive makes a great supplement for teaching children about the 13 Colonies and Native Americans. It’s also good for use with geography lessons relating to North America and the U.S. The use of interactives makes learning about history much more fun, especially with children. Rather than pouring through books and listening to drawn-out lectures (yawn), interactives allow children to take part in the lesson, bringing the topic at hand to life and making it more interesting.

Content and Safety: This site and its content was designed for upper elementary and middle school grades. However, all ages and grade levels can benefit from and gain a basic understanding of the United States and its history. The site requires Internet Explorer 5 (and higher) and Mozilla 5 (and higher) as well as the latest versions of Flash player.

Using the Product: I had the opportunity to explore this site and found it to be quite interesting—seems you’re never too old to learn (or re-learn). In the first section of the site, From Sea to Shining Sea, kids get a chance to learn how to read and interpret a map of the United States in order to understand its geography and how it has influenced our history. They will also be asked to identify major mountains, rivers, and oceans of North America.

The 50 States section focuses on the various regions and individual states. The other three sections focus on the original inhabitants of North America. Many distinct Indian tribes originally inhabited each of the regions that are now part of the country, and you can learn more about these various tribes in the Indian section of the site. Life for North American Indians began to change with the arrival of Europeans—or the Colonists, which kids will also learn about.

Under the Nations Expand section, kids will learn how the United States grew into the 50 states, expanding from the original 13 colonies. After reviewing interactive overviews in each section, you can test your skills by answering questions relating the U.S. history map in a series of timed quizzes, which will be scored and can be printed off for review. Check out my score and yes, I could use a bit more review!

Tutorial or Promotional Video of the Product: I did not find any specific tutorial for the site; however, once you get there, it is pretty much self-explanatory. You simply read through the sections following the “Next” link (or arrow) located on the bottom right side of each page.

Summary: I really enjoyed this interactive and look forward to checking out some of the other ones on the site. I think children will greatly benefit from the information, and the interactive lessons are good for holding their interest. Although much of this might already be familiar to older kids, they can still revisit and appreciate our history with this site. You may even learn something new, as I did.

This post was written by Nikki P., homeschool mom and Lesson Pathways contributor. You can find this original review of this product posted at ChoosyHomeschooler.