Ideas by Vickie Hall Dean, M.Ed.
Sixth Grade Teacher at
Copper Hills Elementary
Granite School District
Salt Lake City, Utah

     

Classroom Overview for Parents

Technology is used as an education tool to support learning goals. It is not just a big calculator and is not used primarily to drill students. Instead, effective technology integration teaches students how to problem solve, how to think.

Currently, we've 30 computers in our classroom. Although we do a lot of cooperative work, every student has his/her own computer so that maximum individualization of learning can occur.

Our digital classroom allows us to better focus on real life problems and authentic data. After students have a clear picture of the learning objective, the technology motivates them to accomplish the required learning task.

Effective technology integration strengthens student performance. A few years ago, 20 of my students scored below 50% on the Fifth Grade Utah State Core Referenced Math Test. The class' average in fifth grade math was 49%! By the end of their sixth grade year, however, my students had made tremendous growth because of the individualization and differentiation that technology tools allow. The class average on our end of year math tests was 80%. This average was taken on my whole class of 30 students which included students in our school's resource program.

Effective integration of technology into the teaching and learning processes has allowed each of my classes to make tremendous progress. Students feel stronger and more capable. For example, on the first day of sixth grade, most of my students say they don't like math. By the end of the year, most of these same students put math as one of their favorite subjects. Technology lets students "see" how math works. If they can see it, they can do it!

Another example of the effectiveness of technology tools: My class of 2006-07 had a sixth grade Math Core Referenced Test (CRT) average of 88%, Language Arts average of 92% and Science average of 88%. Twenty-five out of twenty eight (or 89%) of my students passed the Language Arts CRT; twenty-six out of twenty-eight (or 93%) passed the Math CRT; and twenty-four out of twenty-eight (or 86%) passed the Science CRT. This was a class of twenty-eight, six of whom were in the school's resource program. This class had a 49% average on their fifth grade Iowa Standardized Achievement Test (total score).

During class time, students may never use computers to play games. Granite School District has a strict policy about accessing inappropriate Internet sites. Any student accessing unapproved sites will lose his/her computer privileges. Every student must sign the District's Internet form before they will be allowed on the Internet. We closely monitor students' use of the Internet. When we are on the Internet, we are working in specific sites.

In some cases, students might begin by mapping out their questions in a cluster diagramming program called Inspirations. Then, students read and research. They then attach their findings to the questions and keep information well organized. Or, students will organize data in a spreadsheet. And/or, students will compile their reports or essays into PowerPoint presentations.

I use a computer, software, the Internet, a projector, scanner, and Interwrite board in place of the blackboard, overhead or whiteboard. This allows better flexibility and clearer visual representations. Students use this technology, too, when they present their work and projects.

One of my teaching goals is to use new technology tools to improve the information literacy skills of all my students by challenging them with problems drawn from the curriculum. We emphasize analysis, inference, interpretation and synthesis.

Students save their work to My Edesk, to the network, and to their CDs. They keep an electronic portfolio of their best work. At the end of the year, students take their electronic portfolios (CDs) home.

 

Some Technology Integration in My Classroom
(See my DVD for Student Work Samples for Each of the Following)

1. ADVERTISEMENTS - INFORMATION LITERACY & PERSUASIVE WRITING
Students view online sales ads. What strategies are being used to sale the product? Are the ads truthful? How do they exaggerate? What other tools are used to sale item? Students create ads using presentation software. Can you sale your product to us?

2. LIFE WEBS
Students use webbing software, Inspirations, to create outlines of their lives thus far. Webs must include five main categories with subcategories under each.

3. BOOK REPORTS
Students read and report on their literature using presentation or word processing programs.

4. SHOPPING, DISCOUNTS, AND TAXES
Students engage in virtual holiday shopping. Purchases are discounted; tax is charged; shipping is calculated. How much can you buy with your virtual dollars?

5. MATH CORE REFERENCED TEST REVIEW
Students practice concepts using interactive sites: http://deanadventures.com/math.html

6. DESCRIPTIVE WRITING
Students review and discuss art at the Haunted Studio art gallery. They write descriptive sentences uing concise adjectives and verbs to create compound and complex sentences that tell the stories of the art.

7. DIBELS STUDENTS' ORAL READING
Students read their Dibels paragraphs into microphones. Their readings are saved as MP3s in their electronic portfolios.

8. ELECTRONIC THESAURUS AND VIRTUAL THESAURUS
Students practice synonyms, antonyms, and multiple meaning words using an online electronic thesaurus and the Virtual Thesaurus at Pioneer Library. They create their own word webs.

9. EVEREST PHOTO STORIES
What is hard for you? Why conquer fears? Why do hard stuff? Why keep climbing higher? Students talk about their challenges and goals and why overcoming fear and doing persistent, hard work are important to great achievement. They put their feelings, music and photos into Photo Story presentations.

10. RESEARCH PROJECTS
Students select concepts in our curriculum and write high level, detailed questions they want answered. They research, outline (web), and rewrite their findings into presentions. Work must include details such as tables, charts, graphs, photos, drawings, scans, screen captures, spreadsheets, hyperlinks, recordings and captured video. Projects must be detailed and focus on curriculum concepts. References are in MLA format using Citation Machine.

11. EXCEL FORMULAS - MATH MADE EASY
Students enter simple formulas into spreadsheets to calculate sums, differences, percents, etc.

12. FRIENDLY VS. BUSINESS LETTERS
Using technology tools, students write friendly letters to family members. Then, in contrast, students write business letters to companies, travel agencies, etc. making a request or expressing thanks.

13. GRAPHS - DOUBLE BAR, LINE, AND PIE
Students use graphing and/or online programs (Create a Graph) to put their gathered data into graphs. They must label the axis correctly and display their information into the best presentation.

14. VENN DIAGRAMS - COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Often, s tudents create Venn diagrams, comparing or contrasting items. This is one effective way to help students understand concepts by seeing similarities and differences.

15. FRIENDLY COMPETITION
Students form two teams in order to complete a task. Each team uses an Interwrite board in order to put their ideas or answers up on the screen. Students work together to complete the task.

16. COOKING, BAKING, RECIPES AND FRACTIONS
Students, as part of their Country Projects, go to Culture Grams to find favorite recipes of the culture. Or, as part of fractions study in math, they go to The Food Network and find a recipe that has fractions in it. (Most recipes do!) Each student must then write the recipe so that it will serve everyone in the class. They copy the original recipe into a word processor and include the original recipe with the adjusted recipe.

17. READING COMPREHENSION - SCAVENGER HUNTS
Students find answers in text and practice reading comprehension skills by going to My Edesk and clicking on Scavenger Hunts. They copy and paste the questions into a word processor and then go on a "hunt" by looking for answers to questions. They must read a lot of text in order to find answers. Those with correct answers receive prizes.

18. MAPS IN EXCEL
Students learn geography and history by working on Excel maps. An Excel map is a map pasted into Excel. Students place important information onto the Excel maps, using Comments or by typing the info onto the map. When students present to the class, they show important information they've put onto the map. Students in the audience must mark their paper maps with notes as student presenters teach.

19. STORY MAPS
Students go to Read Write & Think at Thinkfinity and The Story Mapping Tool to create story outlines, and then original stories.

20. COUNTRY PROJECTS
Students research questions about Eastern Hemisphere countries. Each student selects a country and, after extensive research, must draw conclusions, make inferences, analyze and intrepret data about the country and its culture.

Learning Activities/Different Technologies:
Listed here is a short UPDATED list of how we use our computers in teaching/learning:

  1. In Dean's Dynamic Digital class, students work individually or in groups to create documentaries such as:  "World War II", "Kenya", "1945 - A Year in History",  "Ecology of Yellowstone", "Biography: Leonardo Da Vinci", "The Haiti Earthquake", "We Came from Laos", and "Literature Unit Focus Project:  Irish Potato Famine".
  2. Students use Microsoft Excel to create interactive map projects with pop-up comments as we explore our Social Studies concepts such as the development of European culture from 1900 to the present.
  3. Students write every day in my class - everything from persuasive argument to poetry.  They use Inspirations to organize their writing and Microsoft Word to write.  Then, using Animoto, PhotoStory, or Movie Maker, they create their presentations such as, "I Miss my Dad",  "A Myth Movie", "The Day the Dragon Won", "Buttercups and Daisies", "I Choose to be Happy", and  "Remember the Veteran".
  4. Students do scientific research and experiments. They are motivated to use the scientific method, putting their bacteria or virus research (or some other sixth grade science concept) into movies.  They also get a little art, too, since their background music in their movies must be classical. It also must "fit", so they use Audacity to edit.
  5. Various projects such as our "How To" or "Biography" projects require students to use the class digital video cam, document camera or Flip camera to put their own video into their movies.  They also use the microphones to do voice overs.  They must match up music, voice, text, photos, and effects.  They learn page layout; what makes a good research project video, and how to stick to the theme/topic, as well as important writing concepts such as sequencing, comparing and contrasting, etc.
  6. Student computer research projects must include details such as tables, charts, graphs, photos, drawings, scans, screen captures, spreadsheets, hyperlinks, recordings and video. Projects must focus on curriculum concepts.  References are in MLA formatting using Citation Machine.
  7. We mix art and science using Interwrite drawing software and their laptops.  They complete many of the district's Go Math projects using their technology tools and software. The district's new math program, Go Math, is internet based so all of their math work is online.  Students use their laptops to study everything from algebra to volume.  They can draw amazing one and two point perspective cityscapes or nets of rectangular prisms on their computers.
  8. Students study vocabulary and math using various online tools such as Wordle, Create-a-Graph  and Google's Glogster to create digital vocabulary and math boards, posters and graphs.
  9. The Dean Dynamic Digital movies are graded using specific and detailed rubrics.  For example, students have a detailed country project they must complete.  It requires research in many areas and includes maps, geography, history, food, culture and economy.
  10. We use laptops to practice for the Utah State Dibels tests.  Students read paragraphs into microphones.  They save their readings and listen to their own fluency and inflection.  We also practice for the state core tests using the USOE test item pools at My Utips site: http://vdean.myutips.org/   Students must complete all of the practice tests and mark their scores onto their spreadsheets.  Activities like this place kids in charge.  They like being in charge of their learning and tracking their own progress.
  11. Students' learning is individualized and differentiated depending on specific needs of each student.  I spend large amounts of time compiling computer data from software such as My Access, YPP, and Acuity to determine where needs are.  Then, as part of my instruction plan, students work on their computers where there is need.  Please see some of the many instructional websites I have developed: My UEN Website: http://my.uen.org/209847 ; My Math sites where parents and students go for homework, practice, and instruction: http://deanadventures.com/math2.html  and http://deanadventures.com/math.html .  My Dean Adventures school site has lots of resources for my parents and students, too.  I try to make it very easy for parents to find everything they need at: http://deanadventures.com/schoolsite/school.htm.
  12. Using the school network, students share their work with me and with other students.  Students read each other's work, answer questions and help each other revise.
  13. At the end of each year, students assemble their best work and burn DVDs.  I compile a class DVD of the very best.  We share the DVD with other school and district members and parents.  These electronic portfolios show great variety and talent and are better than any paper folder of work.

Benefits & Outcomes:
My students are engaged as learners.  They are motivated because of the technology.  They are developing higher level thinking skills:  drawing conclusions, making inferences, analyzing, interpreting and using data, for example.  Using their laptops, they learn to debate, think critically, and understand information literacy skills.  They demonstrate and advertise.  They model and diagram.  They develop and perform their talents.

We have a lot of performance and improvement data.  Here's a little:

Writing Assessment:The state has a writing assessment called My Access.  Students work hard to score 6's on this assessment.  2011-2012  Students' My Access Holistic Mean Score at front of year: 2.1/6
2011-2012 Students' My Access Holistic Mean on March 31, 2012: 4.2/6

CRT Improvement: On recent 2011 CRTs, my math students made an average improvement of 17% over last year's performance on their fifth grade tests. All of my students passed the science CRT. Average student improvement on this test was 16%. There was a 35% improvement on number of students passing the test.

On 2010 CRTs, 20 of my students scored below 50% on the Fifth Grade Utah State Core Referenced Math Test. The class' average in fifth grade math was 49%! By the end of their sixth grade year, however, my students had made tremendous growth because of the individualization and differentiation that technology tools allow. The class average on our end of year math tests was 80%. This average was taken on my whole class of 30 students which included students in our school's resource program. Twenty-eight of my thirty students passed the test.

Another example of the effectiveness of technology tools: My class of 2008-09 had a sixth grade Math Core Referenced Test (CRT) average of 88%, Language Arts average of 92% and Science average of 88%. Twenty-five out of twenty eight (or 89%) of my students passed the Language Arts CRT; twenty-six out of twenty-eight (or 93%) passed the Math CRT; and twenty-four out of twenty-eight (or 86%) passed the Science CRT. This was a class of twenty-eight, six of whom were in the school's resource program. This class had a 49% average on their fifth grade Iowa Standardized Achievement Test (total score).
Effective integration of technology into the teaching and learning processes has allowed each of my classes to make tremendous progress. Students feel stronger and more capable. For example, on the first day of sixth grade, most of my students say they don't like math. By the end of the year, most of these same students put math as one of their favorite subjects. Technology lets students "see" how math works. If they can see it, they can do it!

 

 

 

 


Hope this site was helpful!
Send me your thoughts, please:
vickie@deanadventures.com
Visit our other sites sometime, too.
Mrs. Dean's School Site
Mrs. Dean's Math Site
Mrs. Dean's Language Arts
Mrs. Dean's Edesk
Dean Adventures
Palace Geothermal
Palace Home Services

VDean Web Creations
July 18, 2012