Category: EdTech (page 1 of 2)

Astronomy in the Classroom

I’ve been looking into astronomy for my free inquiry and have been considering some ways that I might incorporate what I’ve learned into the classroom. I thought it might be a challenge to find ways to do it that did not revolve around science and physics, since those topics are definitely beyond my expertise.

I was surprised at how easy it was to find resources, particularly specific lesson plans just through a quick google search. There were tons of great examples, but my favourite was one that I found on constellations. It’s cross-disciplinary, somehow managing to involve graphing, using online navigation tools, reading legends and creating their own stories all in the span of two short lessons. (Check it out here!)

I’m really excited about incorporating some of what I have learned about this topic into my classroom. I did not expect to find as many potential applications as I have, and I’m particularly interested in looking more into how this could be a great topic for some kind of cross-curricular unit.

 

Constellations and Myths

For my exploration of astronomy as part of my free inquiry, I wanted to look at some of the myths surrounding the constellations. Myths are relevant to me as both a future English and Social Studies teacher- I recently completed a project that involved a myth based legend for a Comparative Cultures 12 class.

In the western world, the myths we associate with constellations come predominantly from Greek mythology. I took at a look at the myth behind the constellation Cancer (just because it’s my star sign). The myth behind Cancer the Crab is part of the story of the Greek hero Hercules and his twelve labours. It describes how Hera sent the crab to grab Hercules by the heel and distract him from his task of fighting a Hydra, but Hercules crushed the crab under his other foot. Zeus then placed the Crab into the sky to commemorate Hercules’s victory and remind Hera of her failure.

Cancer

The Native American myth tells the story of how starts came to be. It tells of a world where there were no stars, meaning that the “animal people” struggled to find their way in full darkness and went to their creator for help. The creator tells them to collect sharp stones which could be made into stars. A coyote was asked to help smaller animals make pictures in the sky with these stones, but the coyote was not helpful and some of the pictures were incomplete. The story says that the coyote howls because he never finished his own picture and he is filled with regret.

Comparing these two myths give some context for how we might understand astronomy and myths about it differently depending on cultural lenses. In addition, without even looking for particular formats, the first resource I found for a Greek constellation myth was written, while the first resource I found for an Indigenous myth was a recording of an Oral  story, which reflects how each type of story would likely have been told.

Data Safety

This week, we had the opportunity to learn about data safety from a few classmates that explored the topic for their tech inquiry.  We watched a trailer for “The Great Hack” (which I still have to go check out) that provided a bit of context for the issue.

I knew a little about the topic, but was still surprised by some of the things I learned through the presentation. In particular, the idea that we essentially pay for “free” apps and services by giving away our personal information and data was logical but had simply not occurred to me. This provided some context for why we might be resistant or unwilling to push back against data sharing. The idea of targeted ads was also familiar to me, especially ads for UVic’s teacher education program, which consistently pop up on various different social media platforms that I subscribe to.

Looking at the issue from the perspective of how it affects minors was also very relevant from the perspective of a future educator. I was shocked to hear that it’s legal and possible for hundreds of thousands of data points to be compiled about individuals before they are legally adults.

The idea that your physical location is essentially available to people at all times is also a little alarming, as is the idea that this data provides knowledge about who you’re in close proximity to, which can be used to further the ends of whatever party is accessing it.

Distributed Learning

This week, we had the opportunity to look at some of the ways distance education can take place. From our class discussion, it seemed like for the most part all of us that have taken online classes have had relatively the same experience. Traditional online classes often feel depersonalized and without in person connections to teachers an other students it can feel like you’re teaching yourself material with little support. However, trying out

One of my classmates raised an interesting question about the cost associated with synchronous learning technology, and I was surprised to hear how affordable it was. In addition, considering how it might be a less expensive alternative to other solutions was particularly interesting.

I think it’s also worth considering what courses are well suited to being taught online. Sometimes it might be the only viable option, but how close it comes to mimicking an in class experience depends on the subject material. For example, my experience taking Physical Education online taught me a lot about phot and video editing, and putting together presentations, but I learned almost nothing about physical health or wellness. The fact that it was possible to work through the class successfully without actually doing very much significant exercise or trying any new activities indicates to me that the course was not particularly effective. However, even a course like PE might work in an online format if done well, maybe in the form of video check ins with a teacher paired with actual gym and outdoor activities.

Overall, I’m far more on board with online learning options than I was before going into this class. I think the idea of synchronous learning is key, and it addressed my concern about online learning being an isolating process. I’m not sure if I will ever seek out the opportunity to teach in this format, but I’ve realized it might work for me more than I would have ever thought.

Youtube and the Universe

For this post, I decided to explore some YouTube videos on the topic of astronomy. I have been seeing teachers use brief “crash course” style videos in classrooms fairly frequently and have found they can communicate ideas in an efficient and engaging way. I wanted to try learning about a topic for myself through this process since I’ve observed it being so effective.

I really enjoyed this video in particular, as it broke down some very complicated ideas and made them simple to understand, even for someone like me with no considerable physics background.

For this post, I decided to explore some YouTube videos on the topic of astronomy. I have been seeing teachers use brief “crash course” style videos in classrooms fairly frequently and have found they can communicate ideas in an efficient and engaging way. I wanted to try learning about a topic for myself through this process since I’ve observed it being so effective.

I really enjoyed this video in particular, as it broke down some very complicated ideas and made them simple to understand, even for someone like me with no considerable physics background.

I’m glad I tried out this approach to learning about a topic that’s entirely new to me. It worked really well in terms of orienting me to a topic that would otherwise be relatively inaccessible to me. I’ll definitely consider using videos like this in my classroom, especially when I’m introducing an unfamiliar or challenging topic to students.

I’m glad I tried out this approach to learning about a topic that’s entirely new to me. It worked really well in terms of orienting me to a topic that would otherwise be relatively inaccessible to me. I’ll definitely consider using videos like this in my classroom, especially when I’m introducing an unfamiliar or challenging topic to students.

Minecraft in the Classroom??

This week in class, we had the opportunity to learn about Minecraft as an educational tool from a teacher and a group of students from a middle school.

As someone who is not particularly interested in or familiar with video games, I was very surprised by how engaging the game was. In addition, the potential for a teacher to control a game or set parameters that serve a particular task was especially appealing.

As a social studies teacher, the applications for technology like this are perhaps the most direct. We heard about a civilization building class project that allowed students to show their understanding of a particular civilization by recreating it and reflecting important elements of it in a simulated world. The concept of creating and recreating whole worlds is exciting to me because I can’t think of another platform where this could be done so directly.

The Beauty of the Civilization !!

I was surprised to hear that educational applications are an intentional focus for the people behind Minecraft, and that there is a whole website dedicated to the compilation of educational resources.

I am not sure if this particular game is something I will ever use in a classroom, but the presentation did emphasize to me the potential of harnessing something that students are independently engaged in. Similarly, I was impressed by how confident and comfortable the students were with stepping into a teaching role and jumping in to give us instructions.

PSII Visit

Our recent visit to the Pacific School of Innovation and inquiry was a great experience, particularity because it was so different in virtually every way from any other school environment . The physical design of the space was particularly surprising, especially in terms of how much fit into such a small space. I was also exited about how open they were with their resources, and was very interested in their inquiry process flowchart.

The students at PSII all seemed excited to be there, more so than in any other schools I have visited. This was wonderful to see, but it also made me think about how this education model might be suited to a specific type of learner. Even the choice to attend a school like this is in itself a type of self selection, so the students who attend it have decided that this educational setup might work for them based on who they are and how they learn. I would be curious to see how a program as self-directed as this could work in a public school.

A few of us had an interesting conversation with a student about the issue of accessibility and some of the projects the student had been working on in the local community, from dealing with an inaccessible neighboring business to communicating with local politicians about policy changes. The student was also working on an accessibility themed embroidery piece as part of a collaborative project with another student who was focusing on embroidery more specifically. This was really impressive to hear about, and it sounded like the teachers at the school were doing an excellent job of facilitating these community connections while still allowing the student to take the lead.

Free Inquiry Update

One of the main tools I use when stargazing is the Skyview app, which essentially allows you to hold your phone up to the night sky and tells you what you’re looking at in real time.

You can look for stars, constellations, galaxies and satellites, and everything is labeled with the option to click on the caption for more information. This is an amazing tool, especially for a beginner because it gives some context for what you’re seeing when you look up at the sky. The level of detail that it provides is amazing; for example, right now I am looking at a rocket that’s in the sky tonight and I can see it’s launch place and date, how high in the sky it is and a number of other facts about it.

My favourite feature has to be the illustrations of the constellations that appear overlaid on top of the stars. Recognizing constellations is something I have always had difficulty with, so being able to look at the pictures as I look at the stars is amazing.

Last night in Wrightwood captured this constellation view using Skyview app.

This app is a great example of how technology can be used to support learning. For me, it’s much easier to make the connection between what I am seeing and what I know about it when I have all the information in one place right in front of me.

Audio and Video Editing

In this week’s class, we learned a how to use a few different audio and video editing programs, all of which were new to me.

First, we tried iMovie, which is something I probably won’t use as a PC owner, but it was great to see how easy it was to quickly create movies and even work with some seemingly complicated effects. We also experimented with screencastify, which was also easy to use. This was particularly helpful for me because it’s not difficult to see how a tool like this would come in handy in the classroom.

Finally, we also worked with audacity, an audio editing program which took a little more work to figure out but was also ultimately easy to use. This was particularly helpful for me because I’ve already had the opportunity to use it for an assignment in another course. I recorded a podcast for an English Curriculum class, and but I recorded it in pieces to make it more manageable, and easier to re-record sections if necessary. Initially I was having a difficult time putting the pieces together, but I remembered working with audacity in class and it made the editing process easy. I can see how it could be applicable in the classroom, especially with the increasing popularity of podcasts.

Audacity - Audio Editor

The layout of the Audacity program

Open Resources

This week’s class had me considering the idea of free, open resources from a new perspective. My undergraduate experience was full of frustration over the accessibility of resources, whether they were articles behind paywalls or were sources I was hesitant to use because they did not offer enough information for a proper citation. I found this week’s exploration of open resources useful in terms of shifting my mindset away from focusing on what can’t be used to the wide range of resources that are available.

creative commons -Franz Patzig-

(I don’t understand this photo but I love it)

I have come across a number of excellent open resources in other classes, so I thought I would use this blog post to share a little bit about them.

As part of a social studies “Super Resource” project, I found the website Law Lessons which provides a multitude of law and civics related educational resources in addition to an entire Law course worth of detailed lesson plans. The great thing about this resource is that it has been created by the Justice Society of BC with specific consideration to the BC curriculum.

I was also introduced to a website called ReadWriteThink in my Language Arts curriculum class, which is a massive database of resources and lesson plans of all subjects.

In addition, I have been introduced to some simple teaching tools that are far simpler to use than I expected. I was particularly surprised by how easy it was to embed photos from flickr into materials (like these blog posts). I also had the opportunity to learn how to use the program twine, which was shockingly simple to navigate even for someone like me with virtually no knowledge of coding.

A major concern I had when exploring the new curriculum was what I would base lessons on given the shift away from prescribed content. However, I have quickly learned that all the resources I could need are out there, and are far easier to find and use than I would have anticipated.

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