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!