During my time at ACE I was exposed to the importance of technology within the classroom and innovative ways to reach our young "digital learners". Here, we will dig deeper into the budding topic of classroom technology; How can you foster a tech friendly learning environment for your students? Hopefully this post will help you grow as an educator and learn to take risks.
Educators and their engagement and integration of technology is crucial to the retention of their students, especially considering "today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors" (Prensky, 2001). Educators can engage with technology in many ways. There are countless Web 2.0 tools are our fingertips.
Wordle is a Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create a variety of word clouds or word collages. Worlde creates Word Clouds (pictures made of words) based on the frequency of the words that are entered in the Wordle Site. Essentially, word clouds are a popular, fun, and attractive way to display text data in graphical form and provide users with a visual representation of a set of words (DePaolo, 2014). Agreeably, this is a convenient and effective application that can be utilized by all educators and students alike. Users simply need to submit text to generate their own Wordle. You can even adjust the font, format, and color palette of the Wordle to make it your own. Recently, I created a Wordle based on our Writer’s Workshop fairly tale unit.
The word cloud, as attached below, displays topics and skills we’ve covered throughout the unit. It would serve as a great reference for student to access when writing their fairytales, remembering to incorporate everything they’ve learned within their writing. They referred back to their Wordle's many times when writting their fairy tales.
I have used this application many times before and I love it. My students love it also. In the past, I’ve created Wordles at the start of a new unit, to showcase keywords, and even as a “getting to know you’ activity. They have always been a success for more reasons than one. First, they’re very easy to create and wordle.net is a very self explanatory and accessible site. Additionally, Wordle is a more cutting edge alternative to a dry presentation.
This activity would be a “good fit” for a plethora of learning styles but most specifically the visual leaners. “The effectiveness of the word cloud is theoretically grounded in the learning model of graphical organizers, a visual communication tool that uses visual symbols to express ideas and concepts, to convey meaning” (DePaolo, 2014).
"In teaching others we teach ourselves" - Proverb
DePaolo, C., & Wilkinson, K. (2014). Get your head into the clouds: using word clouds for analyzing qualitative assessment data. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 58(3), 38-44. doi:10.1007/s11528-014-0750-9
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.
Below is a Lesson Plan designed to keep kids engaged while incorportating technoloy into their learning. This is the perfect Tech lesson that can be intergrated with Science Life Cycle Unit.
Title – All About Butterflies
Primary Subject – Science
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts, Computers / Internet
Grade Level – K-2
- Life Cycle
- This lesson is intended to teach the life cycle of a butterfly. Students will make colorful butterfly models and use the internet to learn more about the life cycle of a butterfly. Students will use the knowledge they learn to create a life cycle chart using Kidspiration software.
Goals and Objectives:
- Students will be able to identify the stages in a butterfly’s life cycle.
- Students will be able to create a butterfly model, arranging the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle in the correct order.
- Students will be able to put the different stages of the butterfly’s life cycle in the correct order using the Kidspiration software.
Learning Resources and Materials:
- Live butterfly kit for the classroom to view the life cycle (optional)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Computer with Internet access for teacher to show kids pictures and information about the butterfly life cycle.
- For every student or small group of students:
- Computer with Kidspiration software
- Large sheet of construction paper
- Tempera paints
- Pipe cleaners
- Strips of heavy duty paper like butcher paper
- 8 inch strip of masking tape
- 2 index cards cut in half
- Popcorn kernel
Development of Lesson:
- We will then see a PowerPoint slide show by Natasha Brown of the various stages of the life cycle of butterflies and frogs that includes questioning of students’ prior knowledge of baby animals and their parents: http://www.primaryresources.co.uk/science/science2a.htm .
- After the introduction, we will read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and then make model butterflies. The students will color and shape their butterflies, then add antennae and attach the names of the different stages with a replica of each stage down the body of the butterfly. We will then go over the stages of the butterfly once more, after which the students will use Kidspiration to put the pictures of the different stages in the correct order.
- First, we will talk about the life cycle of the butterfly and the stages that the butterfly goes through; egg…larvae…pupa…butterfly.
- After the butterfly has been cut out, the student will glue the strip of heavy duty paper to the front of the butterfly in the center to make the butterfly body. (The bottom part of the strip is where they will put the other stages of the life cycle.) Have the students use the marker to draw a face on their butterfly. While that dries, have students write the different stages of the butterfly’s life cycle on the pieces of index cards. (Egg, Caterpillar, Chrysalis, Butterfly) These will need to be written on the board or a place where students may copy them down. If students aren’t writing on their own yet, write the words with dotted letters for the students to trace. Next, students will glue the stage words on the strip of heavy duty paper, starting at the bottom with the egg and working their way up until they label the butterfly at the top. Have them add the popcorn on the egg strip, a bent pipe cleaner on the caterpillar strip, and the rolled up masking tape on the chrysalis strip, to show “examples” of each stage. If you want, you may add pipe cleaner antennae to the butterfly to finish it off.
- Next, students will make a butterfly model. Fold the piece of white construction paper in half. Open it back up and on half of the paper have a student drip different colors of tempera paint, starting by the fold. After colors have been dripped, fold the paper back together and starting at the center of the fold, smooth the paper towards the two outer corners. Open the paper to see the butterfly design. Let the paint dry. Once the paint is dry, the butterfly needs to be cut out. If the shape looks like a butterfly, you can have students cut around the paint to make the butterfly. If the shape doesn’t, then you may make a stencil for students to trace around on the folded sheet so the butterfly is symmetrical.
- Read the story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle to the class to get students more involved with the caterpillar and the butterfly. Stop periodically to ask questions to interpret the story and answer any questions the students may have. Then, read the story again and go over the stages in the book. The students will then act out the various stages using their hands.
- Egg – hand in fist position
- Larva – index finger extended, scrunched, extended, …
- Pupa – index finger inside other hand’s fist (like hot dog)
- Butterfly – two hands interlocking and doing flying motion
For the students really interested in reading that are also good listeners, they can act out the story. While other students, who may be withdrawn, can draw pictures or write a poem or a story. There are so many different levels to this lesson where instruction can be given on a student-by-student level if needed. Students can also be grouped allowing instruction to be given to 3-4 students at once and permitting the students to work more independently together.
- At the end of the lesson students will have to place the correct pictures of the butterfly life cycle in the correct order using the Kidspiration software in the chart that is set up by the teacher or by using the Kidspiration life cycle template.
- The students will have to place the stages of the butterfly life cycle and the replica of each stage in the correct order. This is done during the lesson, so if anyone is having issues, needs more time, or has questions, it can be gone over before the class as a whole moves on.
At the end of the lesson we will go over the stages of the life cycle of a butterfly by acting them out using our hands and doing simple body movements to accompany the hand movements to keep the students involved.
Kidspiration is another great resource I like to use in my classroom. Inspirtation for kids supplies you with amazing technolgy resources and a plethora of lesson plans that can be easily integrated to meet Common Core State Standards. This supplemental instruction is sure to keep kids actively engaged.
Visit this link for amazing lesson plans you can start implementing today! I suggest bringing this site to your building prinicpal or Board of Education, who might be interested in purchasing a distrcit wide subscription.