Monday, September 13, 2010

Reviewing Last Year's Work With Students

Every year, I begin class in a very standard way. I remind students about new rules in the school and how they will be handled in my classroom. I review rules from the previous year and how they apply. I introduce changes in the physical layout of the computer lab and other equipment in the school. I make sure every student knows how to access the teacher's homework online, the school's web page, the Accelerated Reading list, and passwords to essential user ids. This year, I wanted the students to have a way to reflect on last year's work and give context to this year's work.

I have the pleasure of seeing students from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Many students return year after year. We are fortunate to have several new students join various classes. This year, in grades six through eight I will take a look at a few projects completed in the 2009-2010 school year and see how many ISTE NETS for Students are involved in the work. I am using the 2007 standards.

I began by introducing who ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is and what the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) are in a very basic way. I showed the students the list:

1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Communication and Collaboration
3. Research and Information Fluency
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
5. Digital Citizenship
6. Technology Operations and Concepts

The process was thought provoking for both the students and myself.

The Website Evaluation Project
In the middle of the school year, as sixth grade students, we worked on a website evaluation project. It was based on a web quest I found that originated with Joyce Valenza. I brought up a slide with a screen shot from our wiki page and the students took turns deciding which of the words in the six NETS for Students were reflected in the project. One person circled a word, one student said why they thought it was applicable, and the student who circled the word volunteered some additional information on why they thought the project fit in the chosen category.

Here is what the students determined about this one project:

Communication: The students had to communicate with each other in small groups and across groups to support their feelings about the relative worth of various dinosaur websites.

Collaboration: The students collaborated by working in a group with a specialty of either content, authority/ credibility, bias/ purpose, or usability/ design.

Research: The students practiced research skills by thinking about how useful each website would be if they were trying to use the dinosaur pages for a science report.

Information Fluency: This was circled on the board and led to an interesting conversation about the word fluency. The student realized we were looking at information. We equated the word fluency to language. For example, was a student fluent in saying good morning in Russian, Spanish, or English. In the same way, students have varying levels of fluency in finding and understanding information via Internet searches and determining the worth of the information they are reading.

Critical Thinking: This selection led to another interesting conversation. One student remembered the words critical thinking as a question heading in the social studies book. When we are thinking critically, we are thinking about important topics. If there is a war, we are thinking critically about what is happening in different parts of the world that might cause a leader of a country to make a decision. When we are looking at web pages, we are thinking critically about what is good and bad about the information presented and who created the website to decide if it should be used or passed by when doing research.

Problem Solving: A student determined that in the project we had a problem: which website was best for a sixth grader. As a group they looked at the website from different perspectives to make a decision.

Decision Making: Multiple decisions had to be made for each website. The students had to be prepared to agree or disagree with other students who looked at the same website.

Technology Operations: The students had to be able to edit the wiki and maneuver through the website links.

Concepts: Some of the concepts and terminology the students learned included the words bias, authority, credibility, design, and usability.

Next Class
I had five other projects selected: America the Beautiful videos, Math Blaster Ages 9-12 tutorials, creating avatars with Gimp, citing sources for America the Beautiful and the tutorials, and creating and presenting a Dinner with Famous Guests PowerPoint.

I will walk the class through the America the Beautiful project this week. As we work on new projects this year, I will end each project with this reflection. It's a good way to practice communication as a group and realize that each project helps develop a huge set of valuable skills.


  1. This is AWESOME! I love it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. LaQuita you're welcome. I'd love to hear if you ever try something like this and learn where it leads you. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.