Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Using Technology to Test in P.E.

                When you think about physical education, what do you imagine students doing?  If you are like the majority of people, the first thing that comes to mind is some type of team sport such as basketball, or students running around the gym playing with various equipment.  While these types of activities may sometimes happen in my future P.E. classes, one of the goals I have as an educator is to teach elementary school children how to properly perform movements that they will use throughout the duration of their lives.  What most people don’t realize is that the skills students are supposed to learn in elementary P.E. are ones in which they use every single day.  Walking, running, skipping, galloping, hopping, jumping, sliding, and leaping are all movements you are more than likely familiar with.  Something you may not know however is that these movements have a name: they are referred to as locomotor skills.  Students are supposed to begin learning these skills as early as kindergarten, and by the end of third grade, they should be able to offer a verbal explanation as to what your body does during each of these movements. 

            While formal testing isn't frequently used in the physical education setting, it is important to find a way to test what your students know about movements.  Since properly executing the eight basic locomotor skills is a big first step in participating in sports and other activities later in life, this is a good area to test students knowledge.  Because the main goal of any P.E. class is to keep students active, testing is an area that can be tricky, but with all of the advances in technology, the idea of testing in P.E. has become a bit more realistic.  If I want to assess students’ knowledge on locomotor skills using technology, there are several options available.  In order to make my assessments as clear as possible, I have broken them up below.

Pre-testing- Using a classroom website is an awesome way to gauge students’ knowledge in P.E.  One of the ways that I could do a pre-test is to construct a “padlet wall” on my classroom webpage.  For those of you who may not be familiar with padlet, it is a free online tool that allows for easy communication between individuals.  On this wall, I could ask the questions: What are the eight different locomotor skills? What questions do you have for me about locomotor skills?  Students could go on to my webpage and respond to the questions.  The answers they provide, and the questions they ask would help me to determine where I should begin my lesson. 

During-  During my unit, after I have at least covered what each of the skills are, I could have students watch a short dance video during class and identify what locomotor skills are present in it. They could write down their responses on note cards before leaving class and hand them to me as their exit ticket out the door.  This would help me to see what I need to focus more heavily on during the second half of my unit.   

Post-testing- After my unit is complete, I could have students take a short quiz on socrative (a free test-making website) that asks questions about locomotor skills.  Socrative can be easily accessed by students using only a room number that I would provide them.  I could make the questions true/false, short answer, fill in the blank, or multiple choice.  The quiz would not need to be long; rather, it would just need to make sure that students knew what each of the eight locomotor skills are and how to define each.  If I found that students did not fully understand locomotor skills, I could go back and revise my lessons. 

It may take a little extra planning to use technology to test students’ knowledge in P.E., but it would completely be worth it if the students are learning something new!  If you are interested in any of the technological tools I mentioned, the links to what I would use is below!

This is one example of a dance that students could watch and be able to pick up on locomotor skills:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Using Technology for Differentiation

In every classroom, there are a variety of students who bring forth multiple learning styles, learning speeds, and learning abilities.  While some students are able to catch on to things quickly no matter the method of teaching, other children need extra practice and need to be taught using creative methods.  Incorporating technology into a classroom may assist in meeting the needs of all students if implemented properly.  Technology can be used to facilitate differentiation and better meet the needs of the students. 

If you have ever stood in front of a classroom, with what seems to sometimes be a sea of students staring back at you, you probably know how challenging it can be to make sure that the needs of all those students are being met.  It isn’t possible to make one lesson plan using one learning style, and every student in the class grasp what you are trying to teach them.  Instead, with each lesson plan, you have to ask yourself, “Now, what all learning styles do I need to incorporate into this lesson so that all of my students will understand?”  Even when you plan what may feel like the “perfect” lesson, when it comes time to teach it, the students seem to be stuck in this realm of misunderstanding.  In order to combat this, many teachers are starting to switch gears in their classroom.  More and more educators are finding that the most effective way to reach all students is to bring technology into the classroom.  When doing this, teachers can find a plethora of resources that will cater to the needs of every student.  Instead of an entire class all focusing on one lesson, they can be learning about the same idea using a variety of tools. 

Many times one class is made up of students who are all at very different academic levels.  The classroom makeup may include students who are considered academically gifted, developmentally delayed, ADHD, or ESL learners.  While this may seem overwhelming, technology offers a way for students to learn the same content while moving at their own pace.  Sure, finding the appropriate technology may take a considerable amount of research on the teacher’s part, but if the students are learning, it is time well spent.  Finding resources is not as difficult as it used to be.  Social networking websites like Twitter and Pinterest are excellent places to find tools to use in the classroom.  One resource I have found focuses on using technology to address the multiple intelligences.  The link to this site is listed below:

            On this website, there are links to many different resources to use in the classroom.  All of these websites are categorized under the appropriate learning style.  Having this website in a teaching toolbox, and implementing it in the classroom, will assist teachers to meet the needs of each learning style.  Almost all of the websites can be used for multiple subject areas or lessons. Also, beside each link there is a description of what can be done on each website.   If students feel as though their teacher is trying to cater to their needs, and is using a creative approach to learning, they will be more likely to learn in their classroom.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Journeying Towards Digital Literacy

Digital literacy, or the ability to understand and use technology safely and effectively, is growing in importance as society becomes more and more focused on technology.   It is common to see educators teaching students who are using computers, iPads, and other electronic devices in the classroom.   There is no doubt that the majority of students know exactly how to work a device, but they may not know to use the device effectively to get the most out of their education.  As teachers, it is important for us to show students that technology is an outstanding resource for learning if used correctly.  To help us better understand digital literacy, a professor gave us an option of three different resources to explore. I decided to look at is a website designed to connect education and technology.  This website has a plethora of information located under five tabs near the top of the webpage.  Because this website is packed full of information, it would be extremely difficult for me to be able to explain every resource that can be found, but I do want to give a breakdown of the site in case this website is being considered for use in the classroom setting.  Much like all websites, there could be both positive and negatives found woven within the webpage, but overall the authors of do an excellent job of achieving what they desire: to connect technology and education. 

Pluses of the website-
-          - Extremely informative
-          - Articles from multiple authors offering different ideas and points of view
-         -  Tabs that are easy to understand and follow
-         -  Resources for students and teachers
-          - Social media tab for students- a resource that will catch their eye
-          - You can create an account for this site
-         -  Students could review articles on the site during class

Minuses of the website-
-          - Does not have many resources for parents
-          - The site may be overwhelming in a classroom due to so much information
-          - No interactive games for students
-          - Not designed for lower grades- definitely recommend this website for high school and beyond

What’s interesting about the website-
-         -  “The Teacher’s Guide” tab- breaks down different social media sites and classroom ideas for teachers. This part of the website would be a great resource, especially if you are new to an idea.
-          - Because there is so much on the website, it is interesting that there isn't more resources for parents. They are a big part of education.   

 Even if a teacher decided this website would not be an effective tool to use in their class, it would still be an outstanding resource for them to refer to for ideas and information! I will certainly refer to it in the future!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Establishing a Personal Learning Network

Prior to enrolling in my “Technology in the Classroom-EDU 451” course this semester in college, I did not have much interest in technology.  Often my friends referred to me as “Twitterless Mel” because I was one of very few who made the decision not to dive in to the twitter world.  What never occurred to me though, is that the use of technology does not always reap negative consequences.  Instead, social media and other tools can be used to enhance my knowledge in education, especially in my field of Health and P.E. 

I remember reading the syllabus for EDU 451 and seeing that a twitter account was required for the class.  Honestly, my initial reaction was not excitement; I felt as though I had to give in to something that I had avoided for so long.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I made my account, added a picture, and even included some information in the “about me.”  I started exploring twitter, attempting to fill the requirement of finding twelve professionals to follow when I made a mind-altering discovery…there were actually organizations that I was excited to follow all over twitter!  I had no idea that so many health organizations used twitter as a way to communicate facts and tips to the public.  In addition, I was finding a variety of educational organizations that were giving out wonderful tips that would greatly benefit me in the future. 

Lenoir-Rhyne University has multiple requirements for obtaining a degree in education, but one of those is “Lenoir-Rhyne public school licensure candidates should know their content.”  Prior to creating a twitter, I only learned information from the courses that I was taking.  While what I was learning did help me significantly, it was just not possible to learn everything I needed to know from a class in the span of one semester.  This is where I have found technology to be extremely helpful.  Already, I have come across lesson plans, tips, and websites via twitter or Pinterest that I have saved for when I begin teaching. 

In EDU 451, we are using our twitter account to create a personal learning network (PLN) that will help us connect with other educators and find resources that can be used when we start teaching.  At first, I was unsure about how successful this would be for me, but I am finding that it is going well so far.  Already I have started collecting so many ideas that assist me in knowing my content and that I will be able to use to better the education of my future students.  There are still some things that I am nervous to try such as twitter chats, but I think that as I become more comfortable with the tool, I will be excited to use those also.  As a way to spread the resources I have found so far using my PLN, I want to share some links to websites, tweets, and ideas so that teachers can continue building their ideas of activities to do with students.  Know that my focus is primarily on health and physical education in an elementary setting; however,  teachers can still use these ideas to get their students up and moving! -->This link will take you to a website that has a ton of games with videos that students can do in physical education.

                                                            Balloon Ping Pong - I do this with foam pool noodles. I fill an extra large balloon at a 1 to 2 ratio of helium to air. It floats in slow-motion - at a perfect speed to allow my residents to see it and to respond. We just LOVE it!
This would be really easy to make, but students would love to do this activity!  The game is called balloon ping-pong; teachers could use this to help students learn spelling words.  Students could get in partners, say the word they are going to spell, and then they could hit the balloon back-and-forth saying a letter each time until the word is spelled. --> This link is really great for any teacher.  There are so many ideas for bulletin boards and other activities that students would love.  The website is easy to navigate and is divided by grade level. 

Need a new video making resource? Try out Powtoon! It is such a fun, interactive way to incorporate technology in a lesson!

--> This is one of the tweets I posted. You can use Powtoon to make videos for your classroom.  The tool is really easy to learn how to use.  Here is the link to the one I made about my digital story. 

Six Word Response Summary

During my Technology in the Classroom course on September 27th, we used Google Hangouts to observe a lesson in a second grade class.  As a way to respond to the lesson we observed, my class was asked to create a six word summary in response to what we saw.  My summary is below...

"Effective usage of technology with content."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TPACK in the Classroom             

            In order to be a well informed citizen of society, it is vital that one remains up to date on the events that are occurring around them.  To instill this practice in younger generations, many teachers have students’ research current events using newspapers, magazines, or the internet beginning at an early age.  While it is highly beneficial for students to learn about the world around them by discovering major government decisions, investigating crimes, or staying informed about natural disasters, educators need to be mindful of the way they are having students research and learn.  Many students, especially those in high school, are turned loose at a computer, told to research a current event, and given no further instruction.  As one may think, this method of teaching is often unsuccessful and a teacher will quickly lose control of their classroom. 

            Imagine sitting in a Civics and Economics classroom full of high school seniors eager to graduate in only a few short months.  It is fourth period and the last thing that students want to do is be attentive for another hour and forty-five minute class.  The high school that the students attend is a one-to-one school, meaning that each student has their own personal laptop pulled up on their desk.  As soon as the bell rings, the teacher instructs the students to use their laptops to research their current event for the day.  As soon as they find one, he wants them to summarize the event in their notebooks and then turn it in; this is the same set of instructions that the students hear daily…this was my class.

            The teacher that I had was fresh out of college.  This was his first semester being in complete control over a classroom and he was eager to make use of the laptops that each of us had.  While his intentions were great, he was missing something exceedingly important; he didn’t realize that turning students loose on computers wasn’t really going to teach us anything about current events.  Other than giving us a few websites such as, he didn’t provide any instruction.  Therefore each student would often pick the first event they came to on that website, quickly write about it, and then spend the remainder of the time allotted surfing the web looking at things that interested them.  No follow up would ever come from the assignment causing the class to become disinterested and unmotivated quickly. 

            While he was striving to incorporate technology into his lessons, our teacher never took the time to explain why exploring current events was beneficial to us.  He knew the content well; however, he was not able to relay his information to his students.  When relating his content to the TPACK framework, it is easily identified that his lessons fell solely in the technology bubble.  If he would have been using the information that we found to stimulate class discussion, it would have been much more balanced.  Although he did use technology, he could have improved his lessons by using a variety of websites to keep the class stimulated.  For example, we could have created word clouds using or and then presented them to the class.  In addition, we could have used or other movie creation websites to make our current event into a movie.  After doing this, he could have explained how those events related to us as a way to make it personal.  If he would have done this, the learning experience would have been much more positive!