Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Presentation Links

Links for Presentation for My Bus Driver

My Websites:

-Focus on helping urban youth
-Lots of virtual worlds and games to explore
-Relies on kids teaching kids and connecting them to the world

-Attractive website
-Lots of active learning with games to test your skills
-Focused on one topic---Geography

-Easy to navigate
-Does not lump people together, uses words like most and on average
-Most world issues that we seek to explore today available

-Limited use outside of NYC
-Geared only toward urban youth, though this type of education could help anyone

-Finding computer lab time, in order to use this with an entire class
-Time in general to incorporate this website in your lessons

-Not all countries are represented
-Perspective of Australia as opposed to a joint effort

Use in My Classroom:
-I do not see using this particular website in my classroom.  Why?

-I teach 7th grade social studies and this seems to be a tool that I will incorporate into my
classes often.  Why?

-I would like to use this for research purposes in my high school classes.  Why?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Website Review #3

Transforming Urban Youth into Successful Individuals

Globalkids.org is a good site for teachers and students living within New York City.  I will be looking at the positive and negative aspects of this website while also reviewing it's availability outside of New York City.  When looking at today's youth, in the case of this website today's urban youth, they are comprised of a very diverse group.  Thus, teachers must find ways to engage them and prepare them for an ever changing globalized world.  As found in Negotiating a Teaching Identity: An African American's Struggle to Teach in Test-Drivin Contexts, education often focuses on the dominate "White" groups: "very often dominant groups in a society apply rather constant tests of the fluency of the dominant Discourses in which their power is symbolized; these tests become tests of natives or, at least fluent users of the Discourse, and gates to exclude non-natives.... Non-mainstream students and their teachers are in a bind" (Agee pp. 752).  In other words, we do not take advantage of the diverse groups of students available to us in a positive manor.  Globalkids is a group that has devoted themselves to helping close the gap for urban school children in New York City, helping groups that are underrepresented in United States universities, professional jobs, and decision making positions.  

There are three noble things that globalkids focuses on accomplishing: 1. Taking advantage of the diverse group of students they have (students that have first hand experiences outside the United States), 2. Finding ways to engage this diverse group of students (developing their skills, educate them about international affairs, etc.), and 3. Relieving the lack of knowledge that hurts the United States security and future growth, helping students find an importance to becoming global citizens.  As Pablo Chavajay and Barbara Rogoff put it, young children by following the lead of elders, "place family and community well-being over self-gratification, with their sense of group responsibility fostering and being fostered by cooperative relations with others" (pp. 56).  This is the goal of globalkids, whey would like to see the urban youth, focus more on a global scale instead of themselves.  Students in this particular program will learn to interact with adults from all over the world, discussing world issues that effect each and everyone of them.  Globalkids has links to outside virtual worlds and games to also help explain their type of learning.  These are perfect opportunities for students to educate students in virtual worlds and teach themselves with an interactive game.  Personal learning is a great way for students to achieve better retention of pertinent material.  As discussed in Creating a Multicultural Classroom, students can create their own answers to problems, that they will never forget.  For example, in the article, it discusses allowing students to use mountains to describe pitch and volume (pp. 35-36).  This gives students a visual representation of sound waves, something they can attach their learning to.  These types of activities also help engage students in activities that they will never forget.  These games and virtual experiences are based around world issues and race, focusing on important issues that each of these students will face when they enter the world after high school.  Also, students are able to work in groups with students teaching students; rather then teachers giving directions all the time.  As we have learned more and more about other countries, they do not necessarily give direct instruction before an assignment is started.  "Japanese teachers often give students problems to work on that they have not seen before, believing that it is good for students to struggle with something they have not been taught, both to develop thinking skills and to prepare them for later instruction" (Stigler, Gallimore, and Hiebert pp. 88).  This type of teaching allows students to take ownership of their learning, devising their own plan of action to complete a task.  Globalkids uses this type of instruction often, not limiting correct and incorrect answers.  They simply give students a topic and ask them to explore it further, usually in groups, then they would ask students to report their findings back to the rest of the class.  This means there are not limitations on their research, plan of action, and no limits on their learning.

There are a few negative to focus on when talking about the website globalkids.  Globalkids is basically limited to use in New York City, because that is where it is based and where it is being used currently.  With this limited access, teachers from around the country can not fully use it.  Also, with it being centered around urban youth, students in the rural setting may find it useless to them, even though many of the issues that globalkids focuses on will help all schools.  Schools outside of New York City may use the programs described by globalkids; however, you can only do so online, or visit one of their workshops.  With this program being located in New York City, it is not feasible for educators such as myself to attend their programs.  Finally, I found the use of the website to be very difficult.  Navigating from section to section or link to link was very difficult, making it's use unlikely for me.

Use in the Classroom:
I don't see the use of globalkids as being feasible in my classroom.  I would state that anyone in New York City may find it more applicable to them.  I like many of the issues that they raise and how they attack learning in many aspects; however, the use of the website is limited for me.  

Final Notes:
I think in principle this is a great tool for the teachers of New York City.  I would encourage it's use for individuals that have the ability to attend their workshops and incorporate this type of learning into their lessons.  However, as I stated before, it is geared to an urban environment and limited in it's use to teachers around the country.

Works Cited:
Agee, J.  (2004).  Negotiating Teaching Identity: An African American Teacher's Struggle to Teach in Test-Drivin Contexts.  Teachers College Record, Vol. 106, No. 4, pp. 747-774.

Chavajay, P., Rogoff, B.  (2002).  Schooling and Traditional Collaborative Social Organization of Problem Solving by Mayan Mothers and Children.  The American Psychological Association, Inc.  Developmental Psychology, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 55-66.

Stigler, J., Gallimore, R., & Hiebert, J.  (2000).  Using Video Surveys to Compare Classrooms and Teaching Across Cultures: Examples and Lessons From the TIMSS Video Studeis.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.  Educational Psychologist, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 87-100.

Tabak.  (2005).  Creating Multicultural Classrooms: Part III.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.  Multicultural Perspectives, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 33-38.   

Friday, August 8, 2008

Website Review #2

Global Knowledge for Students and Help for Teachers

Mywornderfulworld.org is a useful educational website that can aid teachers fight against students inability to understand geography.  I will look at this particular website as a 7th grade social studies teacher.  Trying to find all positive and negative aspects of mywonderfulworld; as well as, finding ways to use it in my classroom.  Mywonderfulworld is a website that incorporates a lot of active learning for students, allowing them virtual experiences.  As discussed in Contemporary Learning Theories: Problem Solving and Understanding by Oakes and Lipton, "John Dewey argued that children's learning is essentially problem solving, especially when they are engaged in devising their own experiments, building equipment, and cooperating with others in planing and doing projects (pp 69)."  Using this website, students will be able to engage in individual activities that allow them to problem solve as they go; thus, allowing them to "learn" according to John Dewey.  This website gives the students the ability to learn at their own pace and work with their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

Though this website is engaging and useful, they have also done a nice job of making it very attractive.  Mywonderfulworld incorporates numerous colors and attractive pictures to invite users to stay on their website.  On the front page they have listed "10 Ways to Give Your Students the World."  This is their opinion of how teachers can better engage their students in activities to help them become more proficient in geography.  The 10 outlined ways of helping students become more proficient in geography are attainable goals, aided by the websites' numerous links, the material can be received quickly.  If one looks at item #7 on the list of 10, they will find: "Connect Students with People from Other Countries and Cultures", I find this very important.  As Fredrick Erickson stated in Culture and Human Development, "Both those local social groups and the persons within them are presumed currently to be multicultural rather than monocultural (pp. 299);" thus, while connecting with individuals from other cultures, students will see differences among each of them.  This would eliminate some of the sterotypes that are associated with people from different locations; such as, all "Asians" are good at mathematics.  For students who do not understand what geography really means, there is a Kids and Teens link that will define it for them.  This particular link gives them each of the ways that geography can be seen around them, reminding them of music, food, and clothing.  Also explaining to the students why geography is so "cool".  Finally, this website can help students from different ability levels, as all teachers know, students develop at different stages and require different levels of interaction from the teacher.  Oakes and Lipton define development well in Traditional Learning Theories: Transmission, Training, and IQ, "Development refers to the relatively orderly changes everyone experiences throughout their lives.  Theories of development attempt to explain how these changes take place.  Most consider development to be a progression from one distinctly different stage to the next, rather than changes that are smooth and gradual (pp. 43)."  Although the development may not be smooth, there are defined levels of development that each individual must reach.  With mywonderfulworld, students would be able to see development and use it accordingly, again allowing them to actively become involved in their own learning.

Though I try to focus on the positives more then the negatives, I feel in this case, it is important to raise a coupe of issues.  One issue I see with this website and any website, is the access issue that faces many people around the world.  The use of these websites is dependent on students having access to computers, internet, and sufficient time to use them.  Thus, it is likely that teachers would have to find time to allow students to explore what this particular website has to offer.  Not all schools/classrooms are created equal either, not every school/teacher has this equipment available to them either.  The second issue is time, teachers are limited on the amount of time they have available to them to introduce "new" types of lessons for their students.  With today's assessment tests receiving so much emphasis, it leaves little time to focus on anything outside of what assessment tests define as essential.  As Tina Wages learned in Jane Agee's study: Negotiating a Teaching Identity: An African American Teacher's Struggle to Teach in Test-Drivin Contexts, all teachers have a plan of what they would like to do; however, after a year or two of teaching, it becomes apparent there are things more important than others.  This does not mean that you have to throw your teaching identity away, it means that you must change it a little, as Tina found in her second year of teaching: "Tina also talked about how the mandated tests were pushing her to teach literature differently than she had planned (Agee pp. 768)."

Use in the Classroom:
I will be quite honest about this particular website, I plan on finding ways to incorporate it into my 7th grade social studies class.  Often I give map tests and quizzes in my 7th grade class, this website gives numerous games/quizzes that would help my students study for those test/quizzes.  Also, in my 7th grades social studies class, they work on a group project based around countries from Latin America.  This website would help them to work on this project, by giving them many different virtual experiences that they can incorporate into these projects.

Final Notes:
I enjoyed reviewing this website for many different reasons, mostly because I quickly found ways to use it in my future lessons.  Also, I liked the games available from this website; despite being educational, they are also fun to play.  I encourage anyone to play a few of these games and enjoy themselves.

Works Cited:
Agee, J. (2004). Negotiating a Teaching Identity: An African American Teacher's Struggle to Teach in Test-Driven Contexts.  Teachers College Record Vol. 106, No. 4, pp. 747-774.

Erickson, F. (2002). Cultural and Human Development. S. Karger AG, Basel. pp. 299-306.

Oakes, J. & Lipton, M. (2006). Teaching to Change the World.  New York: MacGraw Hill.  Chapter 2: Traditional Learning Theories: Transmission, Training, and IQ pp. 39-65.  Chapter 3: Contemporary Learning Theories: Problem Solving and Understanding pp. 67-94.

Website Review #1

Australia's Answer to Teaching Global Education

Never judge a book by its cover.  Some books or in this case a website may look lacking on the surface; however, it is important to evaluate a book/website based on content.  While visiting globaleducation.edna.edu.  Though this particular website is plain or simple, it has a wealth of knowledge that can help teachers, students, or citizens of the world become informed on global issues ranging from HIV/AIDS, human rights, and water quality.  Globaleducation is also very open minded, in other words, it does not make assumptions or judgements, it is fact based and does not qualify people in certain limited categories.  In a wold that is rapidly changing, this website will help individuals become informed and better prepare themselves for the world around them.  

While reviewing this website, one quickly notices it's ease of use. The 
website was designed with that particular issue in mind, giving students 
and teachers the ability to navigate the website with relative ease.  
Globaleducation also does a nice job of keeping culture and issues within perspective. For example, they never use words such as everyone or 
everything; instead they may say most or on average. Thus, they are 
allowing the users to understand that there are differences among the 
people or issues that one is studying. As Marjorie Faulstich Orellana and Phillip Bowman put it in Cultural Diversity Research on Learning and 
Development: Conceptual, Methodological, and Strategic Considerations, "Most researchers recognnize that all groups are internally 
differentiated." In other words, the website avoids "lumping" individuals together into problematic groups that may leave us with useless 
assumptions about people.

One glaring issue is the limited number of countries represented on the website.  Despite many updates over the last few weeks, the website still lacks having a sufficient number of countries on their page.  In my opinion, all countries need to have a presence on this type of website, giving the users access to all the information from all of the countries that they may find necessary.  It is hard for individuals to make comparisons based on their knowledge of specific countries; such as, the United States, if that country is not on the current list.  Also, the website is created for use within Australia and it's creators have that in mind.  You will notice that each global issue has a four part section, giving the facts, background, Australia's response, and links to other global websites dedicated to the issues.  Meaning that much of the global issue is viewed from the perspective of Australia, leaving users from other countries with more questions to answer.  However, the use of multiple sources does eliminate some of this problem.  

Use in the Classroom:
For me the globaleducation website could be used in a number of ways in my classroom.  Because I teach social studies, I could find useful information that would supplement my classroom topics.  Also, my students could use this website to do research, debate issues, and gather information they find pertinent to our classroom topics.  We discuss many of these issues located on this website throughout the year, this would be another resource for teachers, students, and parents alike.  Finally, in a classroom situation where we have trained students to be question and answer type of students, we have this resource available to us.  If we were to ask a question and expect a response, students could use this website to answer and gather further knowledge at the same time.  There are multiple correct answers to nearly any question; however, as teachers we are generally looking for one.  As Chavajay and Ragoff suggest, individuals that attend school, tend to interact with their children in a question/answer type of social activities that resemble school, meaning this takes place outside of school as well (pp. 56-57).   

Final Notes:
In my opinion, globaleducation is a well designed, useful, and factual website.  I find this website useful to teachers, students, and citizens of the world.  Thus, giving it the opportunity to reach as many people as possible, not limiting it's information to those paying to subscribe.  Yes, it looks a little plain on the surface; however, within it's links, you will find a plethora of valuable information that you can use for many different tasks.  

Works Cited:
Chavajay, P. & Rogoff, B.  (2002).  Schooling and Traditional Collaborative Social Organization of Problem Solving by Mayan Mothers and Children.  The American Psychological Association, Inc.  Developmental Psychology, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 55-66.

Orellana, M.F., & Bowman, P. ( 2003).  Cultural Diversity Research on Learning and Development: Conceptual, Methodological, and Strategic Considerations.  Education Researcher, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 26-32.

Test Post

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