Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chapter 7: Problem Solving and Inquiry Learning with Software and Web Tools

Focus Question:

What are intelligent tutoring systems and how can students and teachers use them successfully?

     Intelligent tutoring systems, or ITS, are software programs that promote inquiry learning by students through computer responses to student actions.  This means that the software records the students responses to questions and then makes predictions about what users know and do not know.  Then, the software focuses on the types of problems that it determines the student needs the most help with.  
     Students and teachers can use the ITS just as they would a normal human tutor.  Teachers can assign students to use a ITS in order to help evaluate where that student is as far as understanding certain subject matter.  Students themselves can take advantage of the very convenient tutor.  

Tech Tool Link: Scratch

     Scratch is a website that allows the user to make his or her own games, animated stories, and interactive art.  Scratch is useful for both students and teachers.  Scratch allows students to "follow their own initiatives, learning from those activities with feedback and support from the teacher."  The site is useful in that it allows for students to learn by doing.  Students are in effect teaching themselves while being imaginative and creative.  The site itself is very inviting.  It is colorful and has some of the most popular games and videos posted right on the home page.  The viewer can also look through the gallery or forums to find something of interest.  If the viewer is having trouble getting started, there is also a link on "Getting Started" so any confusion is quickly cleared up.

Summary and Connections:

     This chapter was full of useful information on learning tools that help students grow.  I found the chart on Digital Games for Learning (Table 7.5) the most interesting.  This chart provides a list of useful digital learning games and a description of each game while listing potential grade levels.  On the list, there are games such as Quest Atlantis, Restaurant Empire, and River City.  All are interactive games that students can enjoy.  SimCity Societies is also a game listed.  I found this funny seeing as it is a game that I know myself.  I never thought of it as an educational game, but now I see its relevance.  SimCity allows the player to "Play God" or "Play Mayor" and see the outcome of their decisions.  The player is also able to build the city in such a way as to inspire lawfulness or lawlessness.  I found the chart quite enjoyable.  

Above is a short (10 minute) video on how to get started with SimCity Societies.


Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2011). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN:10 0-13-159611-X, ISBN:13 978-0-13-159611-5 

Scratch. Lifelong Kindergarten Group.  Web. 24 Feb 2013.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chapter 6: Teaching with Educational Websites and Other Online Resources

Focus Question:

What is information management and digital content?

     Information management is a term used to describe the way in which "organizations and systems keep track of data for making decisions and setting policies."  In the educational realm, "information management means organizing and utilizing all the different kinds of electronic information one must handle professionally and academically." 

     Digital content is a term that simply means online information.  Digital content is a term applied to all information found online.  Digital content is used by both students and teachers to get information to further teach and learn information. 

Tech Tool Link: Goodreads

     Goodreads is a website that is designed to let its users organize their favorite books online.  In order to organize them, the users can create bookshelves by topic.  The user firsts picks books that he or she has read, plans to read, or wants to remember and places them on the bookshelf.  The user may add titles to the bookshelf through or by entering the book title manually.  The user may rate the books once they are entered on their shelf, he or she may join a book club, or even connect with people who have similar interest in books.  

     The site is visually pleasing and easy to figure out.  It seems to be a very useful website for teachers and students alike.  Students may form a book club and discuss books assigned to them.  Teachers may search for books based off of ones previously chosen.  There are also online quizzes for certain books and there are trivia questions as well.  The website can also be used recreationally by students.  After being introduced to the website, students may use it to find books to read for their own pleasure.  Overall I find this particular website to be quite useful. 

Summary and Connections:

     This chapter was full of information that focused on useful educational websites, such as bookmarking websites and webquests to find useful websites.  In particular, I found the section on interactive video conferencing quite interesting.  Videoconferencing is a form of distance learning that allows the student to have real-time access to people and places that students cannot easily go.  

     I personally have experience with videoconferencing in the academic world.  At the University of Miami, I used to work in the Modern Languages Laboratory, which is a computer lab for students and teachers in the language classes to utilize.  On certain days, we would have a specific class come in to do a Skype session.  For example, the Portuguese class would come in and Skype with students in an English class in Brazil.  The students would take turns practicing their language with the native speaker.  For ten minutes, the students would converse in English, and then for the next ten minutes, the students would converse in Portuguese.  It was a great way for the students to teach each other and make new friends along the way.


Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2011). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN:10 0-13-159611-X, ISBN:13 978-0-13-159611-5 

Goodreads. Goodreads, Inc.  Web. 20 Feb 2013.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chapter 5: Researching and Evaluating Internet Information

Focus Question:

What are search engines and how do they work?

     A search engine is a tool that retrieves information from the internet using networks of computers to access the information.  Search engines are generally very fast.  They locate topic-related websites very quickly from millions of sources.  Search engines use keywords to find what the searcher is looking for.    Keywords allow the search engine to limit the webpages received to those only including that specific word or phrase.  
     Search engines are very useful for teachers and students.  Teachers use search engines to narrow their searches to educationally relevant information.  Students use search engines to complete research papers and to just look up facts for a specific class.  The most popular search engine is
Below is a video on How to Use a Search Engine More Efficiently, which I found using a video search engine on

Tech Tool Link: LibriVox

     LibriVox is an audio resource on the web that allows people to access "free audio recordings of published books and other materials in the public domain."  Educators can easily access recordings of poetry, literature, and nonfiction selections.  The site is easy to navigate and is visually pleasing in a simple kind of way.  The website allows people to volunteer to read chapters from a book as well, in order to increase the number of free recordings they have.  
     LibriVox seems to be very useful, especially for educators.  English teachers may find the site the most useful due to its library of poetry and fiction.  However, due to the fact that people can volunteer to read chapters, I can see this website being useful for science teachers and history teachers as well.  Some students learn better through audio rather than reading themselves, so this website would be the most useful for them.

Summary and Connections:

     This chapter was full of basic information about the use of the internet, from search engines to how to evaluate online information.  I found the section about avoiding problems with plagiarism the most interesting.  Plagiarism is caused by the web, high-stakes testing, and misassumptions by students.  The web itself sells term papers, therefore encouraging plagiarism.  High-stakes testing puts so much stress on students to succeed that they use plagiarism in order to receive higher grades.  Most of the time, plagiarism is accidental, with a student plagiarizing an idea that they read without even realizing they are doing it.  
     In order to prevent plagiarism, educators need to "structure their in-school and homework assignments" in such a way that allows for minimal plagiarism.  Teachers stress the need to cite sources.  Teachers also give assignments that simply cannot be plagiarized.  Threatening students with plagiarism identifier websites is also a common practice I have noticed among teachers.  Rather than threaten the students, the teacher should mold their assignments in such a way as to subconsciously discourage plagiarism.


Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2011). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN:10 0-13-159611-X, ISBN:13 978-0-13-159611-5 

LibriVox. Wordpress Entries.  Web. 09 Feb 2013.

Glasgorman. "How to use the Google Search Engine more Effectively."  Youtube. 10 Dec 2009. Web. 09 Feb 2013.  <>

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chapter 4: Integrating Technology and Creating Change

Focus Question:

What are "digital inequality" and the "participation gap"?

     Digital inequality is the "idea that access to the latest computer technology varies greatly within society with low-income and non-white Americans less likely to be able to afford and use the newest tools."  This means that even adding more machines to a home or school will not diminish this inequality.  The machines added have to be of the "latest" technology.  This digital inequality leads to there existing a participation gap.
     The participation gap means that "the students who lack 24/7 access to the latest technologies lag behind their peers technologically and educationally."  Meaning those students who cannot afford to have the newest software will inevitably fall behind the other students who can afford it.  Due to the fact that in this day and age students practically do everything on the computer, those who "do not have the same experiences navigating the Internet, playing Web-based games, or engaging in online conversations" will end up having "a diminished degree of media and technological literacy."

Tech Tool Link: Edutopia

     Edutopia is described as a website that has "Information and Inspiration for Innovative Teaching in K-12 Schools".  This caught my interest, so I moseyed on over to the website as directed.  I came across an article by Marc Prensky entitled Shaping Tech for the Classroom.  It was quite an interesting read.  Prensky speaks of technology adoption in the classroom as being a four step process.  According to Prensky, "It's typically a four-step process:
    • Dabbling.
    • Doing old things in old ways.
    • Doing old things in new ways.
    • Doing new things in new ways."

  •      Prensky goes on to describe each step.  He describes how, that until recently, we have been in the dabbling stage.  The dabbling stage consists primarily of bringing in some new technologies here and there and simply testing the waters with them.  The next two stages are simply stepping stones: when we get a new version of something familiar (such as a new Mac when we are used to a PC), we typically use the new in the old way.  Some refuse to move on from the old because they are already so comfortable with it.  The last stage is when the technology has been truly adopted into the classroom.  Once we know how to use this new technology in new and innovative ways, there are new and effective ways to do everything!  Introduced are new ways to teach and to learn and to explore!
  •      Overall, I found the article amusing, and the website to be quite nice.  The website itself offers more articles to peruse, videos to watch, and educational resources for every grade level.  

Summary and Connections:

     This chapter was full of useful information about moving forward in the classroom with new technologies.  I personally found the section on technology integration issues the most interesting.  The section describes how "successful technology integration is affected by a number of issues that arise within the work of classroom teachers."  Some teachers lack administrative support.  In order to successfully integrate technology into the classroom, teachers generally need professional development training and sufficient resources.  Without administrative support, many teachers are not able to integrate much needed technology because they lack the required training and funds.  According to research, teachers could not get the resources they desired because they were attacking the problem individually rather than coming up with a support group of teachers to push the cause.  
     I personally have witnessed teachers with this predicament.  My mother is a kindergarten teacher and her K-Team have many issues with the new technologies they are being made to use.  When the technology is implemented, a lot of the time, the teachers who are being made to use them do not like the programs they are being forced to use.  I observed an algebra class recently in which the teacher complained about how he was being forced to use a certain math program that he was very against.  It seemed, however, that he was going to do nothing about it but complain.  In order to fix an issue, teachers must band together and face that issue head on.  They need to look at alternatives and come up with an argument of what they collectively think they should be using.  It is in fact the teachers, not the administration, that interacts with the students and knows how they learn and how they are reacting to new technologies. 


Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2011). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN:10 0-13-159611-X, ISBN:13 978-0-13-159611-5 

Prensky, M. (December 2, 2005). Shaping Tech for the Classroom. In Edutopia. Retrieved February 2, 2013, from