Archive for the 'Tools' Category

To Wiki or Not to Wiki

I know, I know:

“Using a tool for it’s own sake is bad pedagogy.” 

“Have an objective and then find the tool that will help you best meet that objective.”

“If your favorite tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Blah, blah, blah.

What if you didn’t know if your objective was even possible until you tried out the tool?  Then what?

I completely understand Kate’s frustration when it comes to the speed bumps caused when we try to rely on certain tools.  But what about just making the tool available and allowing kids to come and go as they see fit?  Why can’t we do that?  Does everything have to have a lesson plan attached to it? 

I originally created this wiki just because I could.  I let kids take some class time to familiarize themselves with how to use it–in fact, we learned how to use it together.  But the space has taken on a life of it’s own.  I have kids who are now in high school coming back to access the resources they created last year. 

That’s a good thing, no?

Whatever It Takes

Our campus has been having some great conversations centered on developing tiered lessons that allow for differentiation depending not only on ability level but on learning modality.  How can we reach a student at their appropriate cognitive level while respecting whether they are an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner?  Now, I am no cognitive scientist nor am I an expert at developing curriculum.  But I do know that meeting kids where they are is a good idea.  How we implement that is a different story.  Haven’t figured that one out.

Last year I had a student who would have bounced off the walls if I didn’t keep him engaged.  Getting this kid to do homework was nearly impossible because it interfered with his gaming time. 

“Look over your notes tonight,” I’d say.

“Yeah, right,” he’d think.  “What do I want to do that for? I gotta date with Xbox Live!”

But then I started a channel on blip.tv where I would upload any mathcasts I created so students would have access to them from home.  Dang it if this kid didn’t subscribe to the RSS feed.  It hit me when one day after a test, he told me:

“Hey Mr. Cox, that test was easy.  I watched the examples on my PSP last night.” 

Do these digital natives process information differently?  Is this a new modality?

Sincerely, Markus Hohenwarter

Every day at 5:00 pm I receive an email from Markus Hohenwarter.  It isn’t a “hey how are you doing?” kind of email, this one is all business.  Actually it isn’t even a personal email, it is one of those mass emails that often ends up in the spam box.  But more times than not, this spam is worth reading. 

Markus Hohenwarter is the creator of GeoGebra which has to be one of my top three classroom tools.  The email is generated by the Geogebra upload manager and lists all of the different GeoGebra files (both .html and .ggb) that have been uploaded to the bank during the previous day.   Many of the dynamic .html worksheets are ready for classroom use and author attribution is at the bottom of the page.  However, if you like the concept of the worksheet but would like to use your own questions, you can download the .ggb file and learn how the sheet was created by viewing the construction protocol. 

The only downside to the upload manager is that the uploads aren’t tagged, so you have to do bit of hunting to find someting worth while.  Regardless, this is yet another reason to love GeoGebra!