Friday, July 5, 2013

Using New Technologies

For this week's assignment, I interviewed my co-worker and friend, Cara.  Cara teaches Art and Project Runway to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.  Project Runway is a newer course that Cara has built at our school.  In this class, students complete a variety of assignments that involve sewing and design skills.  In 6th grade they work on hand sewing smaller projects, and by 8th grade they are designing and making their own clothes, designing textiles, and completing many other interesting assignments.  Cara is also in the Wilkes EDIM program, so she has incorporated much of what she has learned in these courses into the classes she teaches.  Cara is always willing to try out new technologies, and has had a lot of success.

One Web 2.0 tool that Cara uses often is Glogster.  In 6th grade Project Runway, Cara teaches about the history of fashion.  To do this, she created a Glog for each decade.  The Glogs have pictures, information, and links for students to explore.  Once the students explore each Glog, they then click a link that takes them to a quiz on Discovery Education that Cara has created.  After students explore all the Glogs, and take all the quizzes, they then create their own Glog that summarizes the information they have learned.  I have gone in to the computer lab while students were working on this assignment, and I was very impressed by how motivated the students were to learn the information this way.

Another assignment that Cara's 6th grade students do is the "Holiday Sweatshirt" project.  For this project, teachers fill out a survey about their holiday/winter preferences.  The teachers are the "clients", and the students work to design a holiday sweatshirt that meets the client's needs.  Then on the last day before winter break, all the teachers wear their sweatshirts for the day.  The results are always entertaining!  For this project, students work in groups.  Design and planning are a big part of the process, so Cara finds it very important that groups have a solid plan before their start working on the actual sweatshirt.  Last year, she tried something new and made a Wikispace for each group.  On the Wiki, the groups were able to work at home to plan the design, who would bring in what supplies, etc.  This helped to greatly improve the quality of the sweatshirts.  Before using Wikis, Cara had to complete a Wiki certification course that is offered through our county.  This course covers basic wiki use, as well as internet safety.

Cara's advice to anyone that wants to try new technologies is to jump right in!  She has learned mostly by doing.  She has tried new technologies, figured out what works and what doesn't, and then modified things to make her technology use more effective.  She says that trial and error are a big part of using technology, but it's worth the effort!

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