Saturday, June 16, 2007

Active Learning with Technology

Technology in Education Resource Center is an invaluable site for educators, especially for teachers who would like to integrate technology into their curriculum. This website linked me to a free sample video 6th Grade Classroom Episode: Collaborative Language Arts from "Active Learning with Technology (ALT) Portfolio," a Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) Production. Although this video was produced in 2000, I would still suggest watching it to teachers. This movie demonstrates how students collaborate in small groups, use a digital typewriter AlphaSmart to compose their own myths and write poems on CyberKids website.

In the movie, 6th grade Language Arts class is divided into four groups:
1. The Grammar and Writing Group is working on autobiography. Students read their autobiography and have a group editing session.
2. The Accelerated Reading Group is having a book talk.
3. The Literature Group is reviewing a mythological story and composing their own myths using AlphaSmart, a digital typewriter with a full-sized keyboard, integrated LCD display, basic word-processing and wireless connectivity.
4. The Poetry Group is finishing their poems and transferring them to the CyberKids website.

Overall, I liked the lesson, but I can’t justify having 4 groups working on the unrelated topics. I would understand if the teacher presented Greek mythology and divided class into 4 groups to work on different assignments related to mythology: for example, composing poems based on mythology, creating myths, designing digital images and writing biographies of the mythological heroes, and uploading everything to the “Greek Mythology” website.

In the movie, the teacher created a poster with names of mythological heroes and used a mnemonic technique to make them memorize Greek names by attaching candies to the names. After students were done with the assignment, the teacher rewarded them with the candies. I think this is a delicious idea, but I can’t imagine giving candies only to several students and disappointing the rest of them.

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