Friday, February 25, 2011

Inclusive Classrooms and Technology

I stumbled upon this video while trying to find a video for my website project.  It talks about reasons why technology is important, and it tells how technology can be a good tool to use in both inclusive and social studies classrooms.  I thought that it did a really good job of summing up information on how technology can be a helpful tool in the classroom, and I thought it brought up some interesting points.

While watching this video, I was reminded of how in my Inclusive Teaching class we are learning about different assistive technologies that we could incorporate into our classrooms to help all students effectively learn the information we are teaching.  This video mentions how  "as the 20th century closed, the technological gap became increasingly apparent between students with and without disabilities" (Technology in Inclusive Social Studies Classrooms 1:50).  I thought that this point was interesting especially since I have been learning how technology can really help improve education for students with disabilities.  Thinking about the technological gap and how much technology can help students with disabilities makes me wonder why there is a gap.  If technology can help improve the education of students with a disability in such a great way, why is it that these students are the ones who do not know as much about technology and do not use as much technology when in school?

Another part of this video that interested me was the part about Social Studies and Technology.  My specialization for middle school is Social Studies, and I am always looking for ways to make learning about history more engaging and fun.  Like the video said, I believe that the purpose of Social Studies education is to teach students about how to become good democratic citizens, and to do this, I believe that students must be able to think critically about the past, future, and present.  In this video, they mention how technology is a great tool to help students learn these things.  The video mentions how technology helps to connect people and allows people to access a wealth of information (Technology in Inclusive Social Studies Classrooms).  Watching this part of the presentation made me think of teaching Social Studies in sixth grade.  It made me see how I could have incorporated more technology into my class to help students practice skills like critical thinking. If I were to go back and reteach lessons, I would definitely try to incorporate Web 2.0 tools that we have been learning about.  For instance, I would have had my students blog about a debatable topic, create a website or an on-line profile of someone important, record a video that we would watch, etc. 

I really liked this video because I think it is a great reminder of the great things technology can help us as teachers do, and I think it really helps one see how technology can help improve students' education.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wikis and Blogs in the Classroom

Reading the Richardson Chapter on Wikis was very interesting.  Something that really stuck out to me was the section on Wikipedia.  All throughout my schooling, teachers and professors have been telling me that using Wikipedia is not a trustworthy website.  In fact, like Richardson mentioned, teachers would and still stress Wikipedia's inaccuracy due to the fact that anyone could edit the page, and they all would say that we should use it "as a starting point for [our] work, but not as a sole source" (Richardson 2010).

I found this section interesting because Richardson points out that Wikipedia is actually a pretty reliable source.  He mentions how Professor Halavais, from the University of Buffalo, actually tested the reliability by planting 13 errors on various Wikipedia pages and how they were all corrected after a few hours (Richardson 2010).  This study and the section contradict what many of my teachers have told me about Wikipedia.  Reading this section made me realize how important it is for teachers to research and know about the tools that students are using before telling students whether or not they are good tools.  The section also made me realize that Wikipedia is a good source for students to use to find out information.  However, as with using any kind of source, it is important for students to know how to judge the accuracy of the information in the source.

Reading this section also made me realize how much can be done with Wikis.  As the book mentioned, it is a great place for students to collaborate and create pages on various topics.  Because my specialization is history, I can see the advantages of using Wikis in my classroom.  I can have students write their own articles on things we are learning, and have them edit eachother's articles to check for accuracy.  Also, when students change information on pages, I can have them give reasons as to why they made such a change and support it with factual information.  Doing this can make learning about history more meaningful because they are creating something to teach others while learning themselves. I would definitely use Wikis in my classroom, and I think this is a great tool.