Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Beautiful, Glamorous, Scary Thing (Teaching with Productivity Software: Spreadsheets and Databases )

As we watched in, The Machine That Goes Ping, technology is a wonderful, beautiful thing; however, if it is not used correctly, then it has not done its purpose. Technology is glamorous and a positive alternative to get student involvement inside and outside of the classroom, but we as educators must strive to use “the machine that goes pins” to its fullest capabilities so that our students are learning to the fullest of theirs.
This week our focus was on databases and spreadsheets. This is what I call the beautiful, glamorous, and scary: Excel. Excel is a program, I would argue, that scares a lot of educators, including myself. However, Excel can be a powerful tool. This program has the ability to pose and solve problems, examine data, investigate patterns, and that is just the basics. If more educators would step out of their comfort zones and experience with Excel their ability to teach math, science, and statistics, might become easier and more enjoyable. Excel can also be used to create graphic presentations. Excel has the ability to create graphs and charts such as pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs. This gives students and teachers the ability to look past crunching numbers and to really interpret data. One example used was Ms. McMahon. She used excel to create a soccer field that showed the goals scored in a Men’s World Cup (1930-1998). She used Excel to create shots taken and where the shots were located. Her students were more interested and want to give it a try for themselves.
          Again, it is important to say that teachers must step out of there scared shells and experiment with Excel so that they can make Math more interactive and fun for their classroom. If you are unsure just go play around with it! Be creativity and just learn, also remember to use the Internet to search for website or articles that can help you. Learning is creativity on fire; therefore, this week’s technological explorations were ones I enjoyed learning about. We will look at concept mapping programs, Animoto, and Google Docs. Xmind is an open source project. It has several components ranging from brainstorming mode, Evernote, Index view, Advanced theme editor and the ability to export to Microsoft Project and Export to Open Office. This resource, is about creating and collaborating. It is an interactive tool that helps create and develop brainstorming. It’s a very basic site with text formatting and the ability to say your files. Giffy makes diagrams looks like a piece of cake. This interactive tool uses the ability to think, draw, and collaborative ideas into simple or in-depth diagrams using different shapes. This site is used by well know companies such as Verizon, Samsung, and Twitter. I think this would be a good tool for teachers 3rd grade and above. The sources mentioned above range from beginner to distinguished levels. Some are very easy to work with and create while others I would recommend for higher grade levels. These sources would be excellent tools if you are comparing and contrasting topics, putting things into categories, or creating a story plot. Also, I think these sources would be beneficial to teachers. The ease of use is accommodating and the fees pretty well affordable. Some of these sources can work with other basic technological tools such as Microsoft Office.
          Secondly, we explored Animoto. Animoto appears to be a fun interactive tool for all ages. You pick a style and song, customize using photos, video, and text, and then produce and share. It appears it can be used for any occasion such as weddings, birthdays and education. It has been featured in BBC, NBC, CNN, ABC, and The New York Times. They strive for professional quality videos on your computer and mobile devices. It appears to be cost-effective, fun, and effortless. Your photos can be linked through Facebook, Instagram, and Photobucket. I believe that this would be a fun interactive tool; especially for Kindergartners who are being introduced to technology. I would use this tool for school projects or videos. This would make an excellent learning tool for any subject and also a great tool for videos complied of the tasks my classroom has done throughout the year.  It does have some cost expenses. It is $30 a year for Plus membership and $249 a year for Pro membership. I would definitely recommend this for any teacher at the Elementary level whose students are leaning the basic. However, it may be to childish for some middle schools students and high school students.
Finally, Photo Peach is used as a student account management feature. It has the ability for teachers to create student account without emails. Teacher can also easily organize projects with tags and publish them, they can upload mp3s, create unlimited photo albums and customize the transition effects of the photos. In contrast, Doc_Google requires a Google account; however, as educators you have access to spreadsheets, documents, and slide presentations, all linked through your email account.  I think if students had a Google account this Google Doc would be beneficial to them because they would be able to link the work they do on their computer to their Google account; however, this is similar to the ICloud generation. Photo Peach is also a good interactive tool; however, it too sounds very similar to ICloud. These could apply to any school setting as long as students used their emails responsibly. Doc Google allows the use of spreadsheets, documents, and slide presentations to be upload more accessibly and easily. This could benefit students who have done reports, created presentations, and also done their Math homework through spreadsheets. Doc Google appears to have features that include lesson plans. This would be a great tool for teachers to have along with the ability to use spreadsheets and create presentations. Also, it appears to be free as longs you have a Google email.
Next week will continue exploring Technological Explorations and look at word processing and desktop publishing. We will also investigate Bloom’s Technology Taxonomy pyramid and how it applies to technology.

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