Content Tech: Nonlinguistic Representation

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom

In an ongoing review of the book Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, we will look at the strategy of nonlinguistic representation. A part of the introduction to this chapter grabbed my attention, so I’m going to take a slightly different approach to discussing this strategy. Instead of highlighting a particular tool to support instrcution, I’m going to spend a little time looking forward and predicting, based on what the authors wrote.

The book is copyrighted in 2007, which means the text was written most likely in the 2006-2007 timeframe. In the introductory portion of this section, Pitler et al write the following:

“Nintendo has already launched a video game console called Wii that finally allows kinesthetic learners to fully apply their strenghts to video games. The console controller fuses the familiarity of a remote control with the sophistication of motion-sensing technology. This Bluetooth input device allows for full-range movement. For example, in a tennis game, it serves as a racket you swing with your arm. In a driving game, it serves as your steering wheel. In addition to its pointing and motion-sensing abilities, the Wii remote also includes a speaker and rumble feature. It’s only a matter of time before educators will be able to leverage this technology.”

Fast forward to 2009 – the Wii is a wildly successful system. Along with that, we’ve also seen the introduction of the iPod Touch/iPhone with the multi-touch screen and accelerometer to sense motion. The price of these technologies is coming down, and more and more devices come out every day. The time where we can leverage this technology in school may be closer than we think.

So how might a motion sensing/touch screen device help learning? Here are just a few thoughts…

  • Art – students use a motion sensing tool to paint using full body motions
  • Geometry – drawing and measuring shapes in the air to physically feel area and depth while manipulating a model
  • History – students use a simulation to act as a gunner on the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack, feeling the vibration while firing
  • Technology – multi-touch pads are used to build 3D scale models

There may be virtually endless possibilites for these new devices, and they may come our way in the no-so-distant wiimotefuture!

Image courtesy of B Tal on Flickr

Content Tech: Cues, Questions and Advance Organizers

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom 

In our ongoing look at the book, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, the next planning question is, “Which strategies will help students acquire and integrate learning?” This question obviously has the most strategies since this is where most learning takes place. Cues, questions and advance organizers is the first strategy in this section.

Many technology tools are available to support cues, questions and advance organizers. I’m going to highlight two – organizing and brainstorming software and multimedia. Inspiration is a great tool to brainstorm and organize information. In a class setting, an Inspiration document can be projected on the screen. Using the rapid-fire tool, activating prior knowledge on a topic can quickly be facilitated while students call out what they know on the topic. The Inspiration map can then be organized into groups, and with one click, converted to an outline to drive upcoming instruction. In a lab setting, students can create individual knowledge maps of what they know.

According to a research study from 2004, students who were given a multimedia advance organizer (for example, a PowerPoint) to guide their learning retained more information than students who did not use such an organizer. If you create a multimedia file for students to use as a learning guide, it could be shared through your teacher notes page in WITS, or through the Y: drive on the network.

Image citation:
Open Book with Question Mark. Corbis. 2008. Discovery Education. 17 December 2008 <http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/> 

Content Tech: Providing Recognition

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom

In the ongoing review of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, the next strategy is providing recognition. Recognition is the most enjoyable part of learning, as it is the way we get to show off what we know and are able to do.

Of the tools discussed to provide recognition, one stands out as the easiest and most accessible to promote recognition – using web resources, and specifically web showcases. The Student Showcase section of our WITS webpage is our version of this, and is also something I need your help to keep updated with current material!

We have had a showcase for student work in WITS for a while now, and each year I try to update it with new projects. Inevitably, I forget to think about this piece as a class comes through for projects. What products do you have that would be good candidates? If they are digital already, or if they are “analog” and could be scanned, it does not matter. The student showcase is a perfect way to show some of the great things we do, and easily get parents and family to see them also.

If you have not checked out the Student Showcase in a while, take a look at it – on the homepage of WITS, click on Student Showcase under School Intranet in the left navigation bar.

If you have lots of work you can post, I will suggest another resource discussed in this chapter – data collection tools – to have your students help to select the top 4 or 5 for showcasing. Using the clickers, have the students anonymously review and rate projects, making selection a collaborative process.

I look forward to “ramping up” our showcase with your help!

Image courtesy of Joe Hatfield on Flickr.

Content Tech: Providing Feedback

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom

Continuing our exploration of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, the next global question addressed is, “Which strategies will provide evidence of student learning?” The first strategy for this question is providing feedback.

“…feedback is ‘the most powerful single innovation that enhances achievement.'” (p.41)

This is not a rocket-science discovery, but the research (over 8,000 studies) points to the effectiveness of providing feedback.

A series of technology tools are presented in this chapter to support providing feedback – I’m going to focus on two that have impact in any classroom and are under-utilized. In word processing tools, Microsoft Word has two options that can really improve feedback: tracking changes and readability scale.

Students are very comfortable word processing documents, and can submit them electronically via a drop box. With the track changes tool, teachers or peers can review the documents, and provide comments directly in the file for the writer to review and respond to. Once the original author accepts or rejects changes, the final document can be viewed with or without changes visible. This option is also great so students can see the revision process in action. To turn on tracking, choose Track Changes from the Tools menu.

Another tool in Microsoft Word is the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale. After doing a spell check, if the readability scale option is checked, a summary of the document comes up with the reading level. Students who use this tool can judge the level of their writing using the scale. To activite the readability scale, choose Tools | Options | Spelling & Grammar and check the box to display readability statistics. They will appear each time a spell check is run.

Communication software can help with providing feedback as well. Blogs (such as this one you are reading) are great ways to post exemplars or student work and have students respond / critique / analyze the work. WITS discussion forums work well for this also, and can be set up so students can see or post to individual pieces. To set up the WITS discussion forums for your class, go to the class list section of WITS, pick a class, and choose the setup tab to activate the forums.

I’ve left out some other technology tools that are very useful in providing feedback (such as the clickers), but if you try at least one of the above, you will have a very useful new tool at your disposal to provide effective, timely feedback.

Book citation:
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Image citation:
A Koranic school in Cairo.. IRC. 2005. Discovery Education. 19 November 2008 <http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/>

Content Tech: Setting Objectives

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom

Carrying on with a focus on the book Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, the first planning question is: What will students learn? There is one instructional strategy associated with this question, setting objectives.

“…when students are allowed to set some of their own learning goals, their motivation is higher than when they pursue only teacher set goals…” (p.18)

Taking the time to have students involved in the learning goal process can be a challenge, especially when teachers often know exactly which goals will help the most. As the quote above clearly says though, student engagement increases when they have the time to reflect and provide input into their own learning (something that is true of adult learners as well).

Most of the tools presented in this section represent technology making processes more efficient (e.g. word processing a KWHL chart, emailing a newsletter). One that stands out as a real enhancement of the setting objectives strategy is to use organizing and brainstorming software with sound recording capability to create a audio/visual KWHL chart.

We have Inspiration software on all of our computers. Consider the possibility of creating a template in Inspiration with the topic of your next unit on it. As a pre-assessment of understanding, ask students to rapid-fire the KWH pieces of the diagram, AND record a sound clip for each of those items providing more detail or an example. This multi-modal feedback would activate more input from the students and possibly reveal more understanding or lack of understanding.

The authors point out a challenge with using software such as Inspiration since most students do not have it at home to use. This relates exactly to the post I wrote a few months ago about making software accesible. A solution in this case would to use an open source solution, such as Cmap. Using Cmap would break down the walls between school and home.

For the next Content Tech, we’ll be looking at the instructional strategy of providing feedback.

Book citation:
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Content Tech: Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom

We are familiar with Marzano’s research in Classroom Instruction that Works. In 2007, MCREL released a supporting book, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. What is terrific about this book is that it puts technology in the proper place – as a tool to support research-proven instructional strategies.

I’m going to take the next series of Content Tech posts to highlight the book, and discuss ways it can help us specifically in our setting here at Heim. I invite you to provide feedback and conversation through comments here or f2f discussion.

The introduction frames how technology fits in, by providing planning questions for instruction, instructional strategies that work, and then categories of technology available.

The four planning questions for instruction, and the associated Marzano strategies are:

  • What will students learn?
    • Setting objectives
  • Which strategies will provide evidence of student learning?
    • Providing feedback
    • Providing recognition
  • Which strategies will help students acquire and integrate learning?
    • Cues, questions and advance organizers
    • Nonlinguistic representation
    • Summarizing and note taking
    • Cooperative learning
    • Reinforcing effort
  • Which strategies will help students practice, review, and apply learning?
    • Identifying similarities and differences
    • Homework and practice
    • Generating and testing hypotheses

Note that 2 of the original 9 strategies have been split above in order for them to be addressed more specifically.

Technology to support the above questions/strategies have been broken into the following seven categories:

  • Word processing applications
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Organizing and brainstorming software
  • Multimedia
  • Data collection tools
  • Web resources
  • Communication software

The following matrix shows which categories of technology best support which strategies (click to enlarge):

I’ll be exploring each of the strategies and supporting technologies in coming weeks. What initial thoughts/comments do you have about looking at technology this way?

Image citations:

“Book Cover.” Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 5 Nov.
2008 <http://shop.ascd.org/ProductDisplay.cfm?ProductID=107025>.

“Matrix.” Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 5 Nov. 2008
<http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/images/publications/books/pitler2007_fig7.gif>.

Content Tech: Discovery Education Streaming

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Tools in the Classroom

Our video streaming service, Discovery Education Streaming, has a wide array of media available to support every content area.

One way to view available media is by browsing by New York State standard. After logging into your DE Streaming account, scroll down on the left side of the page to the Curriculum Standards Search. Choose New York State, Learning Standards, followed by your subject, grade level, and year (most are based on the 1996 standards).

At first what appears looks like just a listing of the standards themselves. If you click on the + to expand the standards and performance indicators, you will then be taken to a page with media that supports the particular indicator clicked on.

For example, browsing the ELA standards regarding reading comprehension reveals the following (click to enlarge):

The DE Streaming service allows for many different ways to search for content – this is just one way you can discover resources for your class.

Content Tech: LOTE Proficiency

En 2007 el examen de idioma español tiene la siguiente pregunta (click para ampliar):
The distractor for this type of question format is different in that the answers are pictures. Students have to translate/visualize the target language they hear, rather than seeing English answers which would provide clues. Marzano’s Building Academic Vocabulary comes into play here, just as it did in the example a couple of weeks ago with Science. How might technology help?

No Tech
Students maintain vocabulary notebook ala Marzano, including their own drawings of terms.

Some Tech
Using interactive whiteboard, students create pictures representing terms which are saved and shared electronically with the class.

Total Tech
Using drawing software, students create pictures which are saved and posted to a class wiki where they are organized to highlight exemplary samples by individual students.

Image citations:
Question 16. Second Language Proficiency Examination, Spanish, June 18, 2007. 14 October 2008. http://www.nysedregents.org/testing/slp/es-607.pdf
LOTE Home. Second Language Proficiency Examinations. 14 October 2008. http://www.nysedregents.org/testing/loteslp/slpspanish.html
Halcones de Heim son Número Uno!

Content Tech: 7th Grade Math

Gone are the days of math problems where you just write your answer. Showing work and explaining your answer are key components in math, as the process of solving is as important as the product. Below is a question from Book 2 of the 2007 7th grade exam (click to enlarge):

How technology might help…

No Tech
Students have workbooks and other materials with practice problems, and regularly work on them.

Some Tech
Students use interactive whiteboard to write their solutions to problems, teacher shares with class and posts online.

Total Tech
Teacher posts sample problems in WITS discussion forum, students post their responses, and engage in analysis of all responses.

Image citation:
Question 35. Mathematics Test Book 2 March 12-17, 2007. 8 October 2008. http://www.nysedregents.org/testing/mathei/07exams/gr7bk2.pdf

Content Tech: 8th Grade Science

Science exams are full of diagrams and models, and terminology associated with them. Following are 2 examples from the 2008 8th grade science exam (click each image to enlarge):

Marzano’s work in Building Academic Vocabulary certainly would be helpful in these examples, as the distractors are set up to trick students who might confuse circulation/respiration or refraction/reflection. How might technology help?

No Tech
Students maintain vocabulary notebook ala Marzano, including their own diagrams of examples of science terms and processes.

Some Tech
Using interactive whiteboard, students create pictures which are saved and shared electronically with the class.

Total Tech
Using drawing software, students create pictures which are saved and posted to a class wiki where they are organized to highlight exemplary samples by individual students.