Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level

Rajasekar of the scoolbell blog writes about a recent experience preparing to teach research skills to students in grades three to seven. He has broken the topic up into smaller areas which he has mapped on the blog, including topic keywords, testing search terms, synthesizing information and several other areas.

All classes begin with a discussion about what research is and why we do it and how we do it. Each grade will be using their research and applying it to a larger question or problem. For instance, rather than having my third regurgitate answers back to me about animals, they will use the information they find to answer the larger question. (i.e. “Your parents said you can have any pet you want. What will you need to keep the pet?”)

The notes will vary across grades and shows a wonderful research graphic from The Kentucky Virtual Library

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Reflective Notes: International Online Collaboration in Project Work

educalogy blogs about recently participating in an online collaborative project to create an educational handbook with learners from Estonia, Norway and Finland. The project was completed entirely online using virtual classroom / meeting tools, shared online documents, wikis, facebook and other tools. the author writes about how the group dynamics developed and being able to participate in a joint presentation. The ability to participate in live sessions and the distribution of tasks are reviewed with mixed levels of participation as the project developed. There’s an interesting video embedded in the post from one of the presentations and their own presentation using Prezi.

mastery-oriented students in the group will always work for a good result and will all too often do literally all the work for a group’s presentation – as the social norm of not reporting the fellow student’s inactivity is still holding strong – which it should be. I think it is in the responsibility of the course designer and instructor to establish ways of monitoring and controlling a fairer distribution of work in academic collaborative learning groups

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MTS starts lessons of internet-literacy for Belarusian school students

Mikhail Doroshevich reported on a Belarus education project in October which encourages children to learn about the internet. The childrencan learn from a national singer and tv star about behaviour on the internet and keeping themselves safe. The overall aim is to improve internet literacy:

“Research shows that children start using the Internet at the age of 9-10, with every second kid using Internet every day. Unfortunately, most children use Internet without any control from the adults. MTS has launched a large project and will carry out similar lessons aimed at grade schoolers in many Belarusian schools. This will improve Internet-literacy of the young generation” – MTS’ leading public communications specialist Tatiana Kyrbat said.

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Teaching Foreign Language

Halina Ostańkowicz-Bazan blogs from Poland about different approaches used to teach and learn online. She discusses active learning and how to encourage students to become more active rather than passive recipients of lectures. She describes how blended learning can provide opportunities for students to become more engaged and take advantage of new technologies and mentions the importance of learning meaningfully.

My experience tells that I ought to practice active learning principles to progress activities for my students that best mirror my particular communication style and the topics, forms of thinking, and strategies to the problems which are needed to understand and relate to the topics. This is how I work on creating my “active learners”.

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Red herrings in education reform

Clarke L Reubel has been teaching English at a high school for 14 years and reflects on educational reform, drawing a distinction betweenissue which have focused on reforming specific aspects and a wider philosophical view of improving education. He notes that many changes of curriula and standards and scores have resulted in many different systems leading to additional training and resources being required He highlights issues with structural reforms being drawn into continuous cycles regardless of the type of school

Our system stifles independent thinking among leadership the same way teachers are tasked with subverting critical thought in our students. Those of us who resist become agitators, drawing the ire of a frustrated public who consider us problems rather than potential solutions, which leads to increasingly adamant demands to rein us in.

Charter and private schools are not immune to this cycle. They are products of it, and vouchers, like merit pay, will only serve to legitimize the fundamental flaws in the current system. Ironically, demanding structural changes without philosophical adjustment contributes to the structural problems.

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School Districts and Modern Technology, or, Things That Make Me Bang My Head On My Laptop

Orangespicedrop aka Diane succinctly notes that technology is great when it is used correctly and works correctly.

Our school district constantly boasts about the fact that they use technology in the classroom. To the point of annoyance and nausea.  And it’s true–the Tweedles’ homework these days is mostly done “online.”  When I walked into various classrooms on Teacher Conference Day, a Smartboard was present in most of the rooms.  On the school’s website, you can do everything from checking your student’s grades or the event calendar, to putting money into their lunch account.  Each Friday, the principal of the school sends out a mass email, detailing events of the past week and informing parents of upcoming important dates.

She has a hypothesis that people fail to use technology correctly 90% of the time and provides several anecdotes highlighting how both information and technology have been used to illustrate this.

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Communicating in Research

Leigh Hall of the Education Disruptions blog writes about a project where they are encouraging teachers to collaborate and wondes how best to do this. They have set up a VoiceThread

Although I’ve just sent out one VT, I am hopeful it will work well as a means for communicating information about the project. First, teachers can watch it at their own pace. Second, they can watch it as many times as they want (some of it or all of it). They can also leave comments if they need help with something that others likely could benefit from.

They look at how the voicethreads can be explored further and note how if this had been done as a face-face workshop they would not have the advantage of the recordings being easily available for review

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Characteristics of the Zamorano Dairy Plant – Education, Innovation and Outreach

cflorian describes the Zamorano university enterprise in Honduras, which has a fully functional plant where students can learn all the different processes including pasteurization, packaging, manufacturing cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream. The enterprise supports the local economy by processing thousands of litres of milk from local organisations and sells products in local markets. The profits are returned to support the student scholarship fund. The students can also take part in a range of research:

One example of these research projects was an evaluation of new dairy cultures for cheddar cheese with the aim of reducing maturation time and improving its taste. Other studies have involved the analysis of stabilizers to improve cream chesses and the development of natural preservatives to increase the duration of natural milk, among others. New product development by Zamorano students has resulted in products that will soon hit the market, such as yogurt-based dips, smoked cheeses, liquid yogurt and traditional and artisanal products like industrially-manufactured curds

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ten bucks for a school

Xaviera Medina de Albrand profiles the work of Marie Da Silva who lost many of her close family to HIV whilst living in Malawi. Marie’s mother provided space in her home to start a small school for students who could not afford private education.

Where once there was a garage or a dinning room, today there is a classroom. Children and new students sat on the floor, with no desks or any type of school furniture. Marie black painted some walls to turn them into blackboards and start classes. “At first the children paid some money for school, but then, in conversations with my mother we thought that if our own orphaned nephew and niece were not paying, so, other children who were orphans too, had not to pay. So the Jacaranda school became fully free “.

Marie also created a foundation to support students who could not afford to eat and highlighted their situation whilst working in New York as a nanny to a well known tv presenter.

The post continues the story of successes from students at both the foundation and the school and how it has provided support for their neighbouring communities

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The Fears of a (Mildy) Educated Layperson

On the Partikles blog, the author describes how in spite of not being able to afford to go to school, they read books, watch documentaries, learn through searching content on Wikipedia to improve their understanding of science and scientific principles. They highlight how in the US there has been a fear and distrust of science including stem cell debates, campaigning against MMR vaccines etc The author neatly notes how media have contributed to this sacrificing accuracy for entertainment

As a society we do not value education (but damn it, we value missiles!), and it shows. My fear is that we will grow generations of poorly informed people that do not check their sources, and merely believe what the talking heads say on Fox News, simply because we, as a culture, are too intellectually lazy to try and think forward.

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