Saturday, March 26, 2011

Assessing Project-Based Lessons

Education writer Suzie Boss considers the importance of effective assessments and how they can be used to measure student learning on project-based lessons. A new classroom guide developed by Edutopia, Top Ten Tips for Project-Based Learning Assessment, offers tips and resources for assessing learning at each stage of a project-based lesson, from project planning to a culminating event when students present their conclusions. Susi Boss' Blog/

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kindle Used to Motivate Young Readers

Dalzell Grade School, a grade school in Illinois is using Kindle e-readers to help encourage students of all levels to get excited about reading. The devices' dictionary feature has allowed students in fifth and sixth grade to better understand Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle," and the highlighting feature is being used to help kindergarten students sound out new words. Each device can hold up to 3,500 titles, a feature that educators say helps make up for their school's lack of sufficient library space. News-Tribune (La Salle, Ill.) (3/5)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Student Engagement on the Go

"This is my 3-year old daughter the day the iPad came out," said Patrick McGee as he displayed a movie of a young girl sitting at a kitchen counter, gripping an iPad in both hands. The audience watched as the little girl found, launched, and began to use a Dr. Seuss app; all without intervention or explanation from an adult. "Kids know--intuitively--how these things work; even at 3," he said. "We need to use that."

The key reason to implement mobile computing technologies as the iPad and iPod Touch in the classroom is student engagement, says McGee, the assistant principal of a Florida school. He says the technology can be used to increase productivity or involve students in activities that were uninteresting to them as a pen-and-paper process. McGee's experience includes piloting programs for both the iPad and the iPod touch. "We have used them at the elementary level" to enhance reading, improve comprehension, and measure fluency. At the secondary level, the focus of these devices has been on math, science, and for use as a powerful reference tool. "One of the really great things about the iBooks app is that each book comes with a built in dictionary." That's pretty powerful, he said.

McGee also pointed out the many productivity uses of the devices, listing several apps that he deploys regularly, including iBooks, e-mail, LogMeIn, KeyNote, and Pages; many available for both devices. T.H.E. Journal (3/2)

Learning in a Virtual World--Whyville

Whyville is an educational virtual world created for kids, which launched in 1999. It was one of the first solely for children and pre-teens and remains one of the few whose purpose is purely educational. Players earn "clams"—the currency of Whyville—by engaging in various games and role-playing scenarios. Players do everything from helping to publish the community's newspaper, The Whyville Times to running the power grid for Whyville to even taking out loans to buy big-ticket items such as cars. It is quite literally a self-organized community of kids that has been up and running for more than a decade. 

Whyville has received a number of awards from independent parent groups for its educational value and safety--and is reported to be one of the most popular virtual worlds (Wikipedia)