Summary of the 20% Project

For the final post of my 20% project, I will be exploring my experiences and looking at places to go next.

At the start of this project, I was not very sure where I wanted to take it. I knew that I was interested in elementary education and I wanted to find something that dealt with technology. I will admit, finding my initial idea was a difficult task. Then I decided that I would need a toolkit of sorts that I could use in my elementary school classroom in the future that was packed full of websites and apps that were devoted to the subject areas that I was to teach. This then made me wonder if there were such websites and apps available to teachers and students. This is where the idea for this 20% project finally came from; I was going to do some research and find some valuable tools that can be used in an elementary school classroom to help students in each subject area.

This was not by any means an easy task. I came into the project with it set in my mind that all of the websites and apps that I was going to find were going to be very specific to a subject area and there was to be no overlaps. This proved difficult, especially with the websites, because the focus on the majority of them were education in general and that included all of the subject areas together. This frustrated me at first, but I decided to take it from there and just find the best websites that I could to be used in a classroom. The compilation of my findings can be found in my second post, titled Day Two. The websites on this post are what I feel would be the most useful to elementary students and teachers, as they all provide activities and games for students that cover all area of instruction, and some are even aligned with the Common Core Standards!

So that meant that the next time I spent time on my project, I was determined to find websites and apps the were specific to the subject areas. This took more time than I had anticipated, for the reasons cited above. I was able to accomplish the task, though, and the post Day Three was the product of determination to find what I was looking for and a long time of research and looking. This compilation is what I feel is best for students when it comes to having a place to go when it is time to work on activities during instruction time for different subjects.  Some of these cover the subject as a whole, but some are more specific to one area of a subject. This would be where the teacher would have to preview the link and decide on whether it was right for their students and lessons. I was hoping to find websites and apps to cover all of the areas, but this proved to be pretty difficult, if not impossible. I hated to settle, but I think that the items that I did find were things that students would find interesting and enjoyable.

If I had more time, I would continue to search for websites that could further my students knowledge in ways that could be related to the core of education. In a continuation of this project, I would definitely try and find more material and activities that I could potentially utilize in a classroom. What also sparks my interest is why there are not many websites that are dedicated solely to one subject area. I think that I might spend some time looking into why that might be and if there is anyone doing anything about it. I would also look up some article pertaining to education and technology and see if they can give me any insight into why this might be occurring.

Overall, my experience with the 20% project was a positive one. It allowed for a lot of freedom on doing research about what it was that I found interesting. It was initial very hard to get started, because I was unsure what I wanted to look at. Having to make a decision with that much freedom and with no real direction given with were I needed to take the project was weird because I am so used to teachers telling me how to get my project done. After that first hurdle though, I was able to really dive into the project and I enjoyed doing it. I liked that I worked on it on my own time and decided what needed to be done each time. I think that the 20% project is a great idea, but it does make me question if it would be a good idea in an elementary classroom setting. The idea and freedom of the project would be appealing, but I am afraid that it would be too much on students and they would not know at all how to accomplish the problem. On the other hand, if we start students out doing these types of projects at a young age, it could lead to an increase in independence in the classroom and a greater sense of self confidence. Before doing the project with young children, I might research if others have done something similar and how it turned out for them. I might even try to do something like a 20% project but give it a bit more structure. Whatever it may be, I think that the 20% project is a great way to get students engaged and working on something that they have an interest in.

Day Four

For Day Four, I want to start by reflecting on what I have done so far with my 20% project. I started out this project with the idea in mind that I was going to research how technology can be used in an elementary school classroom when it came to the four major subject areas. At first, I wanted these to be very specific for each subject area, but I soon found out that this is somewhat difficult to do. I also wanted a variety of websites and apps that are related to each subject area, but this also proved difficult, as many websites that are education are not focused on one subject, but has a little bit of all of them on the website.

This is what lead me to pick out what I thought was the best of websites that incorporated a little bit of everything. The four websites that I found all engaged students in fun activities that were focused on the education of younger children. Some of content was more basic on some websites and on one, the content was actually based off of the Common Core Standards, which I found very interesting. The apps were a little easier to find for each subject area, as I did for the majority of the apps on my first go-around. One of the apps, though, was not really one for games, but it was an app that was actually web browser that filtered content on the Internet specifically for educational material. This one really caught my eye because it is a great way for teachers and parents to let their students and children search the Internet and only find websites and articles that will further their education.

For the next time working on my 20% project, I really focused in on finding websites and app that were specifically for each subject area. This took a lot more time than I had imagined. As I previously stated, it is much harder to find specific websites and apps for specific areas. On my journey, though, I managed to find a few of each that I felt were crucial to the benefit of students in different subject. Now I will say that some of these websites and apps do not cover every aspect of every subject. For example, when it came to language arts, some of the apps that I found focused only on spelling or only on vocabulary. This did interest me, though, as I thought about how new this technology really was and how it could improve over the years. Will there be an improvement on the websites and apps that offer educational content to our children and students? Will there ever be an app that can focus on one content area at a time, providing all the standards and fun ways to learn them?

Another thing that is important when it comes to technology in the classroom are the tools that are to be used to integrate technology into the classroom. Tools are just as important because without the tools, the technology would be useless. The Center for Teaching Excellence has an article that has a list of helpful tool to aid in integrating technology into the elementary school classroom. This article provides links to other articles that also have ideas about what tools should be used when dealing with technology. There are lots of ideas behind technology when it comes to it making it way into classrooms. The link for the article can be found here: http://www.smu.edu/Provost/CTE/Resources/Technology

So far, my 20% project has lead me on a journey of research that has brought about some great websites, apps, and ideas on how teachers can use technology in the classroom. If I had more time on this project, I would continue to research on what is currently being developed that deals with technology and teaching. As I stated earlier, this idea is still a new one and has so much potential for a future in education. Now that I have started this research and found ideas that I can take into my classroom, I continue to be interested in how the events of technology and education might unfold. Even after the ending of this class, I will probably continue to do research and keep up to date with current educational websites and apps. I am excited about where the future of education and technology can take us!

 

Day Three

For my third go around on my 20% project, I wanted to take a closer look at more specific websites and apps for the four major subject areas that I am interested in. The four areas are going to be as followed:

Math:

Khan Academy- Khan Academy has a multitude of areas that one can learn from, but most of the lessons are for a slightly older crowd. I do find their math, more specifically the early math, sections to be helpful to children in elementary schools. This website is fun because it is a visual through videos that helps the student understand concepts in math. The videos are simple and the are essentially “put together” while you are watching, which adds a cool effect I believe.

https://www.khanacademy.org/math/early-math

Hooda Math- Hooda Math is a website that has all kinds of games that are all math based. This website is specifically for math games, so children have the opportunity to pick from a multitude of games for any skill or interest.

http://hoodamath.com/

Counting Caterpillar- This app would be useful for younger children in elementary schools or possibly students that are having difficulty with counting. It is colorful and captivating to make learn to count more enjoyable!

http://bellamon.com/countingcaterpillar/

Science:

Science for Kids- This website is all about science and it utilizes many tools to accomplish this. There are games, videos, lessons, and even instructions to projects and experiments that can be done in a classroom or at home. Fun science facts make this website just that much more cool!

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/

Kids Science: Amazing Human Body- This is an app that lets elementary school children begin learning about the body and the science behind it. There are many interactive features of this app so that children can stay involved in their learning.

http://www2.selectsoft.com/ios/kid-science-amazing-human-body

Thinkin’ Science- This software that is now available as an app in the iTunes store brings interactivity and science together in a way that children enjoy and are able to learn a lot about the world around them from. Plus, it is really cute!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/thinkin-science/id406137804?mt=12

Language Arts:

Wacky Web Tales- This website is a fun, interactive website that allows students to decipher between language devices in order to make up a silly story. Similar to ‘Mad Libs”, these stories are random, as the student picks a random word and it is then inserted into the story without the students knowledge of what the ply is about. I think this would be a fun way for students to begin categorizing words into the list of language devices that is not dull and boring.

http://www.eduplace.com/tales/

Puzzlemaker- I thought that this would be a good tool to use to make puzzles that can help with spelling words, sight words, or any other list of words that students may need to know. It is easy and free so that even students could potentially use it for a project or as a study aid.

http://www.discoveryeducation.com/free-puzzlemaker/?CFID=3208214&CFTOKEN=18370909

SpellBoard– This app lets a student or teacher type up their own list of spelling words and then the app does the rest! Students can then engage in a word search, missing letter puzzle, word scramble, and more with this app so that they can use a different way to study their words each night!

http://www.palasoftware.com/SpellBoard.html

Social Studies:

Go Social Studies Go- This website is full of everything from American history to World history. Within each category, there are even more categories dealing with a specific period of time in history. Being a history buff, this website seems like one I could spend hours on. With easy navigation, this might be a good website for students to go to while doing a research paper.

http://www.gosocialstudiesgo.com/

Social Studies for Kids- While not the most colorful and interactive, this website does have a lot of social studies readings and material that would do a student well when doing a project or essay in their social studies class.

http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/

News-O-Matic- This app allows students to get up-to-date news that is age appropriate and easy to use in a safe way. This would be a great app to have in a classroom so that students can stay in touch with what is around them in a very innovative way.

http://www.smartappsforkids.com/2013/04/news-o-matic-review.html

Day Two

For my first time working on my 20% project, I wanted to go through and find a few websites and apps that would be useful in an elementary school classroom. The majority of the ones that I found this round can be used in almost all four areas of the standards and are not specific to one area. Later on in the project, I will attempt to find websites specifically for them.

Websites: 

Arcademic Skill Builders: http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/

This website combines academic learning and an arcade to make learning enjoyable! Not only can children play games to enhance their math and language arts skills, but there is also an option to play multiplayer to increase communication and collaboration.

Literactive: http://www.literactive.com/Home/index.asp

This is a website that is focused around literacy. There are many tools that can be downloaded from the website, included guided reading, activities, and worksheet. The site is made specifically for Pre-K through 1st grade, so any older children would need another website. One perk of this website, though, is that they also offer content for ESL learners! This was another aspect that drew me to this site.

BrainPOP Jr.: http://www.brainpopjr.com/

BrainPOP Jr. is a version of BrainPOP for K-3rd grade children. I used BrainPOP a lot in schools and it was also so fun because it was interactive. Not only does BrainPOP Jr. offer interactive games, they also have all the content areas covered while giving children even more to chose from and explore! The characters associated with BrainPOP are memorable and I can think of many ways that they can be continuously incorporated into a classroom.

ABCMouse: https://www.abcmouse.com/schools

ABCMouse for schools is free and supports the common core standards! ABCMouse incorporates all of the subject areas in a fun and creative way, all while offering a safe way for students to be on the internet. It offers pathways that each child can embark on and move through them at their own pace, which adds to the interactive portion of the website. I really liked this site because of the fact that it incorporates the standards and reinforces what students need to know for a test.

Apps:

PopGeo: http://www.keeness.net/popgeo/index.htm

PopGeo is an app that can be used for a social studies lesson that be used to learn about maps, learn about states, and learn about important facts in the states. This is a great way for children to become familiar with geography in an interactive way. The only downfall about this app is that it is based solely in the US. Students would have to use another app to learn about the rest of the world.

Interactive Time Telling: http://www.giggleup.com/interactive-telling-time/

This app is for younger children who are working on being able to tell time. It is interactive so that children can learn the difference between day and night, as well as what the different hands and numbers on a clock mean. I find this app to be really cute and easy to use for a smaller child learning to tell time in their math class.

Rover: http://www.theroverapp.com/

Rover seemed like a cool concept because it is a whole browser for teachers and students that filter the Internet and brings about educational content. These are all flash based activities and videos, which is useful for an iPhone or iPad because flash is not normally supported on these devices.

SpellingCity: http://www.spellingcity.com/app/

SpellingCity is a fun app that helps children with their spelling through a variety of games and activities that are specific to different ages. With this app, students can log into their account and have everything they need for their work as it is updated by their teacher. This is a wonderful app to bring the classroom into the home to continue learning after school hours!

20% Project: Technology in the Elementary Classroom

Question: In what ways can technology be used in an elementary school classroom that incorporates the four major subject areas: Math, language arts, science, and social studies?

Reasons for this project: With the intended major of Early Childhood Education, the topic of technology in the classroom is very interesting to me. I want to be able to find apps, websites, and other creative ways that I can use technology in my classroom. This blog will allow me to make a comprehensive guide that will outline each subject area and the technology that I find to accompany it.