Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tool #9 Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning!

1. The question asked if whether or not technology is useful in the learning environment. I personally think that yes it enhances the learning process and is a tool to engage the learner in the daily objective. If the site is well done the student will complete and activity and through an assessment, get immediate feedback as to their understanding of the topic. That said, these types of tools are useful when used properly. For example, when dissecting or simply observing organisms, there is not substitute for actually experiencing the real organisms. In other words, "hands-on" activities are important in learning what science is all about.

2. We should hold students accountable for the technology stations to ensure that the students are on task and accomplishing the objective.  Technology, when not used properly, may distract the students from achieving the objective. Students need to produce evidence of accomplishing the objective through completion of worksheets, presentations, short descriptions, exit tickets, etc. Another problem emerges with this obvious essential requirement. Surprisingly, my seniors in AP Biology become distracted with trying to figure out the technology aspect and do not focus on the science aspect. They lose valuable time when this occurs and time in an AP class is very important because we have so many topics to investigate. On the other hand, the underclassmen that I teach seem to have less difficulty with this which makes me wonder if students are becoming more comfortable with technology. I certainly hope this is the case because I have found many interesting tools to use.

3. There are so many sites to use. Each year they become better developed. For example, the ENSI website from the University of Indiana is particularly helpful with regard to evolution, Teachers are able to search the site for many activities and then direct students to sources for students to either read and/or complete. One of the best parts is that the site is continuously updated as new information is uncovered about evidences for evolution. 

Another favorite site is on Explore Biology: This activity involves the evolution of various animals using bioinformatics sites. I particularly like this one because we tell students about the significance of protein differences/similarities as ways to show evolutionary connections, but this is difficult to work with. Using ClustalX and PhyloWin, the student is able to produce cladograms that deal with molecular evidences that have been gathered by many researchers.

There are many more sites that are usable in the classroom and many that would be valuable to the student as review at home. Example: is a location for Jeopardy review games. Any student would find this site a fun way to review.

Finally, the following is full of interactive sites: I like many of these because the student is able to complete an activity followed by an assessment that enables the student to get immediate feedback on their understanding. Examples are the following:

All of these are user friendly and students complete the topic and uncover very useful information.  

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