Thursday, 29 March 2012

Grade 5 Science meets Web 2.0

The students in this unit were focused on the the way people use the scientific process to challenge, investigate and clarify ideas. A science unit is good place to use spreadsheets, for recording the data from their class inquiries, analysis, identification of trends and patterns using basic functions and formulae, and of course to create graphs. But after the initial weeks of guided enquiry, we wanted to find a way for the students to be able to effectively present their understanding of their final experiment.


Traditionally students would have tracked and recorded their investigations using paper, which while being a very powerful medium, is not dynamic and it does not provide animation, real-time feedback that facilitates a capacity for continuous expansion. If a student 'messes up' on paper, they either have to try and 'fix' it without ruining it, or ... start again... with ICTs this process is not only painless, abut actually helpful, as it facilitates the feedback process of using assessment FOR learning.

Dylan Lau


Integration of ICTs into this process allowed for more dynamic teaching, and more importantly, they allow students to show what they know in non-traditional and non-linear ways that more closely approximate the skills they will need to be successful in the following Exhibition unit. 


Web 2.0 presentation tools were an ideal choice to allow the students to formatively record and ultimately present their understanding of the scientific process, and easily incorporate images to document their inquiries and even video, something which would be far more difficult on paper. Students were introduced to four tools in the first part of the unit, so they are ready to use them by the 4th week of the unit. 

Just for this unit I also wanted the teachers to free from the 'tech' and focus on the Science, so I utilised a model of teaching the students to teach each other

We split each of the none classes into 4 groups, and assigned them tools to learn and use in this unit. The tools we used are:

  1. Prezi
  2. Vuvox
  3. Simple Booklet (accessible via GApps)
  4. Slide Rocket (accessible via GApps)


We used the Techsperts model, I ran one session at lunch time per tool, and invited 2 students from each class to attend that intro session, 9 x 2 students = 18... So I ran 1 session per tool, a total of 4 sessions with 18 students per session. I’d covered these in the first couple of weeks so the kids are ready to use the tool by the latter part of the unit.

Another question to consider was...

Why use Web 2.0 vs Locally installed programs, eg SlideRocket vs Keynote?

Keynote is awesome, so why use a Web 2.0 tool that does the same thing/less, like SlideRocket or Google Presentation?

Why?

Because there are a few things that cloud based apps like SlideRocket et al., does that Keynote does not:


  • flexibility - cloud based, so not tied to one platform/machine
  • collaboration options
  • Ease of sharing (eg, emailing a keynote/ppoint is difficult and tedious)

But the Achilles heel of Web 2.0 is its stability/reliability... pros & cons as always.


Finally often the fully featured programs like Keynote are usually overly complex for what we need as educators, the problem with these programs is they are so feature full that kids get lost - distracted/confused by the 90% of what it can do but they don't need. Sliderocket et al, focus on just doing the 10% of what we actually need/use.

Bo Hye Park

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