Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Best Ideas

The two best ideas that I learned from my peers' presentations were:
1. using the Promethean Board to teach math or science objectives (measuring, etc)
2. internet game for "Sink or Float" to get students actively involved in using the technology.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Technology Practicum Project

From watching the PowerPoints of how other people in my class used technology in their lessons, I learned that technology can be used for any subject in the curriculum. I used technology for a social studies lesson, but I saw that other people in my group used it for literacy, math, and science, as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Internet Safety

I chose to read an article by Gordon B. Hinckley entitled, “Opposing Evil” as my fourth article. It was published in the November 1975 Ensign, which surprised me because he spoke about the dangers of the media long before they had escalated to the dangers we face today. If such counsel was relevant in 1975, it must be even more applicable today with so many new forms of technology available. A common theme that I found in the readings was that technology and the media can be used for both good and evil. It is incorrect to say that the media is completely bad, but as one article pointed out, our greatest challenge is to determine the good from the bad. As I read these articles and watched the videos, I saved the video links to my delicious account and I realized how important it is to teach children about internet safety when I am a teacher and a parent. I will not be so naive to think that kids can figure it out for themselves, and I will educate them and monitor them because I want to protect them from online predators and other dangers of the internet and media. I can also use what I have learned to have a positive influence on friends and family by sharing what I have learned and encouraging them to use safe internet practices, as well. By making my own good media choices, I can also be an example to these people.

I chose to teach my mom about some of the things I learned about internet safety. I thought the information would be relevant and useful to her since I have two high-school age brothers living at home. The discussion went very well, and it actually lasted longer than I expected because we found that we had so much to discuss about the topic. Her perspective was really interesting because she grew up before the internet and all of the good and bad that came with it. We really are raising a different generation of kids, so it is important for parents and teachers of the "older generation" to be up to date on the realities that these kids face.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tech Lesson Recap

My Google Earth tour of South America turned out really well! It turned out that the school's projectors were broken/unavailable, so I adapted my lesson by showing the tour to small groups of students on the classroom computer. In groups of 4 or 5, students gathered around the computer to watch the tour and learn about some of the awesome places in South America. The kids LOVED it! The groups who had to wait their turn to watch the tour couldn't wait for me to call their groups back. They were so excited to see it. Some of the students had used Google Earth before, but others had not. All of them were fascinated with the idea of typing in any place (especially their own houses) and being able to see real pictures of that place. As an assessment activity, I created a "postcard" template for students to color a picture of their favorite landmark that we visited on one side, and write a note to someone about it on the other side. The kids loved the postcard activity and I was able to see that they learned so much about the places in South America from my tour! They loved it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tech Lesson Idea

Right now I am planning to teach a lesson on South America to a second grade class. The class is currently studying South America as their "Continent of the Month". I think this lesson could really be enhanced with technology, and I am excited to use Google Earth to create a tour of some of the awesome places in South America. A geography lesson is a perfect content fit for Google Earth technology, and as I am beginning to create my tour, I am finding that there are several places in South America that my class would love to see real pictures of. For example, the class has been learning about the Amazon Rainforest, which is one of the most famous features of South America. It is awesome to look at the Amazon Rainforest from the sky. Last week I also taught a lesson about "the Pampas" in Argentina, which are basically farmlands with lots of cattle. On Google Earth, this area shows lots of square pastures that would be fun to show in contrast with the green, thick rainforest. I also plan to include the Andes Mountains in Chile, and near those mountains is a desert that has not had rain in over 400 years! It is said to be the driest place on earth, and when I searched this location it showed some great sand dunes. I will also include rivers and Cape Horn, the tip of South America, which is the closest place in the world to Antarctica. I think Google Earth will be great to show the diversity of geography in South America.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Classroom Technology Inventory

The main thing I realized by doing this technology inventory was that there is plenty of technology available to use at the elementary school, but teachers rarely take advantage of it. While most of the technology is not in every classroom, it is usually shared by the grade level teams and available for each teacher to reserve and use. Asking my teacher some of the questions on the inventory list, most of her answers were something like, "Yeah, I'm sure we have that if I ever wanted to use it". This tells me that she is confident in her school for supplying good technology, but that she has little personal experience with actually using it. It also tells me that she feels comfortable in the fact that the school does have technology, but she does not have a strong desire to look into exactly what resources the school has to offer. This reinforced to me the importance of educating teachers on how and when to use technology in the classroom. There are many more resources available to teachers than what are actually used in the classroom.
I was also interested to discover that many teachers consider something as simple as an overhead projector to be using technology in schools. Last week I was observed for one of the lessons I taught the second grade class, and one of the positive comments my instructors made to me after observing my lesson was my effective use of "technology"- and that technology being the overhead projector. This makes me realize that using technology to teach does not have to be an elaborate, over-the-top lesson. Technology should make teaching easier, not harder. If more teachers believed this and educated themselves about technology to make this true, I think more teachers would be eager to take advantage of the technological resources that are available to them through their schools.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Virtual Tour

Location ActivityGoogle Earth Content
1. Independence, MO
Answer Question: What would you pack if you were leaving on the Oregon Trail?Terrain, Borders and Labels, Photo 
2. Chimney Rock
Answer Question:  How do you think Chimney Rock got its name?Terrain, Borders and Labels, Photo
3. Fort Bridger
Math activity: trading post

Terrain, Borders and Labels, Photo

4. Oregon City
Journal entry in roleTerrain, Borders and Labels, Photo 
Details of image overlay / path / polygon:Path will connect Independence, MO (start), Chimney Rock, Fort Bridger, and Oregon City (finish). Each point will show photos of each location as they may have looked at the time of the Oregon Trail.


The content of this lesson is based on the 5th Grade Utah Curriculum, Standard 4: "Students will understand that the 19th century was a time of incredible change for the United States, including geographic expansion, constitutional crisis, and economic growth". I am focusing on Objective 1c, which states "Investigate the significant events during America's expansion and the roles people played....Compare the trails that were important during westward expansion (e.g. Oregon, Mormon, Spanish, California)". This virtual tour will take students to 4 major points along the Oregon Trail, allowing them to see the landscape of each destination as well as the path that pioneers traveled to the west. Students will also engage in various activities at each location.


The technology used to create this virtual tour is Google Earth. Students will use computers to view each location with Google Earth, access other websites on the internet for more information, and if possible, type their responses and journal entries on Microsoft Word. Google Earth is a perfect fit for teaching about the Oregon Trail because students can see actual photos of each location and watch the program zoom in and out to see the whole path of the Oregon Trail on a map.


This activity will be especially effective for visual and hands-on learners. They will be able to see the places that we learn about as we discuss the Oregon Trail. The activities provided at each stop (journal writing, answering questions, getting more information, etc.) are also good pedagogy because they keep students actively involved and offer various ways for students to process and apply the content that is learned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Digital Storybook Storyboard

The content I will use in my digital storybook lesson is based on the Utah Core Curriculum Standard 1, Objective 2 which states that students will "develop language through viewing media and presenting". The story I will present is called "Father Grumble". It follows a rhyming poem structure and can also be presented as a song. I am aiming my presentation at a third grade level because it is a simple story that young students can understand, but it can also invite discussion about deeper themes within the story.

The pedagogy I am using in my presentation is to stimulate the students with a different form of media. This will create variety in my classroom because it is different than the usual reading from a book. I can teach the class as a whole using a presentation of this digital storybook, but I can also divide the class into small groups and teach them how to create one of their own. This is good pedagogy because it gets students directly involved and they can take ownership of their own learning. It fits well with the content of language arts because language is all about communicating with others, and part of the content standard I am trying to fulfill is allowing them to present their stories.

The technology I am using in this lesson is the technological process of creating the actual digital storybook. This involves taking digital pictures of the illustrations, loading them to a computer, collecting background music, recording my own voice reading the story, and then combining visual and audio elements to create the digital storybook. This is a perfect fit for teaching language arts because audio and visual elements are the main focus of a story read-aloud, except technology is used to make it more creative and engaging. I will also teach my students the basic steps for creating digital storybooks and invite them to practice using the technology to create their own presentations in small groups.

Story: "Father Grumble"
Music: "Both Sides of the Tracks" found on Country Vol 4 (freeplaymusic.com)


Monday, February 2, 2009

TPACK science challenge

1. The content knowledge I am focusing on in this lesson is to fulfill a 3rd Grade standard in the Utah Core Curriculum that deals with the geography of Utah. Third grade science standard 5 states, "Students will understand the physical characteristics of Utah's wetlands, forests, and deserts and identify common organisms for each environment." This is the academic objective that was used to guide the TPACK lesson plan. Beneath that standard, we focused on one specific point of the curriculum that asked the students to "locate examples of areas that have characteristics of wetlands, forests, or deserts in Utah." (Objective 1c). This TPACK lesson plan provided students an opportunity to apply their knowledge of Utah's geography to create a small collection of photo examples using Google Earth. This lesson is intended to follow and expand upon a brief lesson about the characteristics of the landforms so that students know how to find the features they are looking for.

2. The pedagogy used in this lesson involved several good teaching practices. Allowing students to work in small groups gave students the chance to collaborate and build ideas with their peers. It is a good match for the content taught because students can share their understanding with each other, thus benefitting both students. It is also good for promoting the correct use of the technology used in this lesson because students can teach and learn from each other. Using this activity as an assessment tool is also a great pedagogical choice because a teacher can quickly assess the students' understanding of Utah's geography by the pictures they found to exemplify each geographical feature. Presenting the pictures to the class not only helps students develop their presentation skills, but also gives students extra exposure to the content taught.

3. The technology used in this lesson is the program Google Earth and simple screen capturing technology. Google Earth is a natural match to a lesson about geography content because it gives the students the feeling of exploring the world as they use Google Earth to find real-life pictures of geography either in their own local area or somewhere far across the world. This program allows students to see a window to places beyond their classroom walls. Google Earth is also a great match to the pedagogical aspect of group working because it is a great way for students to work together and they will naturally want to share and talk about the pictures and places they find with their peers. Depending on the classroom, limited resources may also require working in small groups at computers instead of individually. Screen capturing technology is vatal to the content and pedagogy involved in this lesson because it allows images to be captured and saved, so that they may later be presented to the class and referred to as examples.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Tech Savvy Teacher

Students used Google Earth to learn geography!

Technology can be a great aid to teachers in all content areas, however often teachers do not know how to apply technology in the content they want to teach. Science, in particular, is a content area that lends itself to using technology to enhance student learning. Recently in my classroom, I discovered a fun and engaging way to teach a 4th grade science standard using Google Earth and screen capturing technology.

Content Knowledge. The curriculum standard was to apply their knowledge to locate examples of wetlands, forests and deserts in Utah. During the weeks prior to this activity, students learned about characteristics of Utah’s geography, including wetlands, forests, and deserts. The day of the activity, I used a projector to give a brief review to the class of how to use Google Earth. I then distributed a list of geographic features that I had prepared for a scavenger hunt activity. Then, in small groups, the students worked together to search for the scavenger hunt items, which included forests, wetlands, and deserts in Utah. For this activity they were limited to only searching in Utah, but for other activities they search multiple countries.

Students found this picture of a wetland in Utah.

Technological Knowledge. Aside from using Google Earth, students also used other technology skills in this project. After locating each geographic feature on the list, the students used previously taught skills to capture the image on their screen and save it on their computer. These images were shown to the entire class later as examples of the geography that was found. This allowed students to see multiple examples of these geographic features in Utah, without leaving the classroom.

Students discovered this Utah forest using Google Earth.

This desert was found by students to complete their scavenger hunt.

Pedagogical Knowledge. This activity allowed for great teaching methods. Students were working hands on with computers and collaborating in small groups. Students had the opportunity to be creative, and were not restricted to only one right answer. I created a non-competitive environment and gave them sufficient time so they did not rush through the activity, but were able fully participate at their own pace. When they were done finding all the features, I was able to assess their knowledge and understanding of the features by viewing the pictures they captured on Google Earth. The students also were able to share their images with other students at the end to show what they found, and provide more examples of the features to their peers.

Screen capturing technology was used to present the photos students found on Google Earth.

By using technology to teach this science standard, my students were able to become active learners and see a variety of features they were learning about, all in their own state. Incorporating Google Earth and screen capturing in my lesson allowed me to include content, technological, and pedagogical knowledge.

Utah Core Curriculum
4th Grade Science

Standard 5: Students will understand the physical characteristics of Utah's wetlands, forests, and deserts and identify common organisms for each environment.

Objective 1: Describe the physical characteristics of Utah's wetlands, forests, and deserts.

C. Locate examples of areas that have characteristics of wetlands, forests, or deserts in Utah.

Technology Used: Google Earth, Screen Capturing

Monday, January 26, 2009


"TPACK" stands for "Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge". It is possible for teachers to use any combination of these elements when teaching, but the most effective teaching happens when the teacher relies on knowledge from all 3 of these areas. Technological knowledge refers to knowing how to use current technology in the classroom as a teaching tool. Pedagogical knowledge is understanding the art of teaching and how students are most likely to learn. Content knowledge means knowing the material that you are teaching very well. Each of these types of knowledge is important, and by using all of them a teacher can teach content in a way that kids will learn, use, and remember.

After learning about TPACK, we had the opportunity in class to start thinking about a science lesson that we could teach to elementary students using the TPACK method. We explored several different science and math technologies including programs such as Stellarium, Google Earth, temperature technology, etc. I really liked the Google Earth program and I think it could be a great way to teach geography and landforms since it is unrealistic to travel around the world to see the sites in person. My plan is to create an elementary lesson on world geography using some kind of scavenger hunt on Google Earth. I think it will be fun for kids to use this technology to actually see the places with the types of landforms they are looking for, and they will have more fun and remember it better than just reading from a textbook or something.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week 2

I learned how to do so many things this week! I learned what an "RSS" is, and now I have one. I added a few RSS website update links to this blog over there on the side, but I have 5 of them right now and it's kind of a hassle to have such a long page to scroll down, so I may delete some of them in the future. I already figured out how to make each feed show only one title instead of 5, so that helped. I also learned about Goodreads and Delicious, and I have accounts with both of those now, too (and links on this blog). I feel like I have so many links and then links to my other links, it's like a web! It's like the world wide web. Haha, sorry. But anyway, I think all of these resources will be valuable to me as a teacher and it's probably good that I'm learning how to use them. So those are my new additions for this week: the RSS feeds, Delicious links, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Technology Background

Welcome to my first blog! I have been raised in this technology age and I am a student, so I've had to become familiar with technology at least a little bit. I can use the computer to do what I need to do, such as sending emails, writing papers, and whatnot, but I'm not very familiar with the fancy stuff. I am excited to learn more in this class!