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Reshaping the Classroom
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 02:13:04 PM Tue 04/06/2010
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A guest blog by Digital Wish Teacher, Mary Williams.

Mary Williams has been teaching chemistry to St. Mary High School students for nearly a quarter century. Although Williams has always loved her job, she claims that she has found new classroom vigor through the tech-tools she now uses with her students.  

As a guest blogger, Williams tells her classroom story:

I teach chemistry at the secondary level. I have been teaching for over 25 years, and have been re-energized this year by all the technology available to me and my students. Not only does it make learning fun, but more importantly, I believe it makes it more effective. Let me share a few of my experiences with you.

I found out about Digital Wish this fall and they made me aware of the Flip, a small video camera that is extremely easy to use. Since first acquiring this little device, I have had to lend it out to other staff, almost as often as we use it in class. I have had students who usually run the other way when homework is mentioned, come in after school to make a Flip email card about a chemistry demo for the class. Students now ask to do projects involving video. Some students are natural “hams” and I take advantage of this by having them present chemistry ideas to the rest of the class. In the process they learn (when you have to teach you tend to really learn the material), and it helps the other students learn too.

One of the “hot” words in education seems to be Multiple Intelligences or MI. I’m sure many of you have heard of this theory and I see evidence of it everyday in my classroom. So the question becomes- how do you effectively teach to all the different MI’s in one classroom, in one period? I don’t know if anyone has a complete answer to this, but I have found that using multimedia- visual, musical, linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences all blend together and seem to help students.

When I assign a project involving a video, such as animoto, (if unfamiliar with animoto, go to their website and check it out: www.animoto/education.com ) the students really, dare I say, enjoy it! 
Projects that involve a visual, musical and even the limited written element not only reach several of the intelligences, but also allow students to express themselves, to process what they are learning, and often, to see how learning can be fun. Then, when we share the projects in class, we review the content multiple times. Think about it. I assign a 2 minute video on properties of acids and bases, and when we watch each others videos- we may review that concept 10-15 times. They enjoy making these little videos, as well as watching them and it takes relatively little time.

There are several other websites that I find allow me to address students' multiple intelligences, and keep class interesting. One is www.blabberize.com . When you can get a picture of Einstein to tell the students what they should bring to lab- they tend to listen. Or if you can have a student do a first person biography of Antoine Lavosier (Father of Chemistry) and have Lavosier present his biography to you, it adds a little something to the report. 

Another interesting site that is a fun way to present material, either by the teacher or for a student presentation, is www.goanimate.com  ( link to http://goanimate.com/movie/0z3GjuMDFR2A?utm_source=linkshare&uid=0JzS0pHb8X-E for an example). This creates animations which you can use to present a new concept.

Do all these things replace the problem sets, lectures, review and traditional teaching methods? No, not at all, but they sure do add to them-and I believe enhance the learning process. For the students it’s like coming to class everyday, and instead of listening to one note over and over again, they can listen to the whole musical scale- and maybe pick up a catchy tune they can’t keep out of their head. 

The websites I mentioned- and many many more are listed at www.boxoftricks.net Click on the resource tab for an alphabetically listing of many good websites. 



Tags: Mary Williams, Technology with Students, Using Technology in Chemistry

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