Integrating Science Instruction and Technology

There are many tools available to teachers who are interested in infusing technology into their instruction. Below are a few ideas that may help the science instructor.

Google Earth

This tool continues to grow in importance. At the most basic level, Google Earth allows teachers to guide their students through the exploration of the Earth. For science instructors, the potential is huge. Analyzing the theory of plate tectonics, surveying landforms, and studying weather patterns are only a few of the activities that Google Earth will put at your students’ fingertips. Add to this that you can create a custom tour and save it as a file, and you’ll find that Google Earth is one of those indispensable tools in the science classroom.

Edmodo

In these days in which Facebook is a household name, sites like Edmodo gain prominence. Using Edmodo as a learning management system is not far from your reach. The setup is minimal, because all you do is create a course (First Period, for example) and a code is generated. Give the code to your students, and they now may sign up on their own and join your group.

With Edmodo, teachers can send messages, alerts, links, assignments, quizzes, and polls to their students. Another great feature is the Library within Edmodo. This aspect may be used as a shared drive to upload to and share with students.

Don’t underestimate the value of Edmodo in the classroom.

Discovery Streaming

Many are familiar with this great tool, but not many of us use it to its full capacity. Besides the streaming videos that are available to you, there are also lesson plans, interactives, quiz builders, assignment builders, and the teacher resource center for instruction needs and also for professional development, only to name a portion of the resources at DS. Please see your campus librarian if you do not have your credentials to login.

Response Systems

Make raising your hand a lot more fun! Use one of the many response systems that are on the market. Some exist on campus (Turning Point Clickers available for check out in the library) and others are free online.

Some online possibilities are as follows:

Each of the above tools have varied learning curves and features offered. Make it your goal to use a couple of these in the classroom this school year.
 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2011/02/02/something-just-clicks-in-large-lectures/ 
 

 Google Docs

Google describes their product rather well…

What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a suite of products that lets you create different kinds of online documents, work on them in real time with other people, and store your documents and your other files — all online, and all for free. With an Internet connection, you can access your documents and files from any computer, anywhere in the world. (There’s even some work you can do without an Internet connection!) This guide will give you a quick overview of the many things that you can do in Google Docs.

 
http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=49008
 

If you are interested in learning more about using Google Docs in the classroom, let me know, and I’ll give you credentials for you and your students to start using this robust technology tool.

 

Web 2.0

You’ve probably heard the term, but what does it mean, really? Web 2.0 is a term used to describe the next generation of the web. “Back in the day” we used to access the internet strictly for information. Now we can do that plus a whole lot more. We can interact with sites and leave with a product. That’s Web 2.0. That’s empowering students and teachers.

Below is a list of some various Web 2.0 tools you may find helpful or intriguing:

  •  Fodey – generate your own newspaper clipping
  • Lino It – online sticky note message board
  • Educreations – create your own screencast videos with a white board as a backdrop
  • Diigo – collect bookmarks, make annotations and highlights, and organize them in your own library
  • How Big Really – compare the size of events or places in our world and in space with our local zip code.

 

Don’t Forget About SMART!

Remember that you can visit the SMART Exchange and set up a free account. While there, be sure to search for ready-made SMART lessons that can be used with a SMART board, with a slate, or simply with a laptop or desktop. There are many excellent lessons already designed that may be downloaded, saved, and changed to fit your TEKS. Visit the SMART Exchange today!

 

 

Creating a Tour in Google Earth

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 at 11.16.12 AM 2

The following series of videos will demonstrate how to create folders within Google Earth that will allow you or your students to take a virtual tour of the earth. Enjoy.

 

The next video that will take you on a tour of our Texas towns, and show how to adjust the tour settings.

The next video will explain how to add a link and a curriculum-related question to one or all of your Texas towns placemarks.

Watch the next video to learn how to place an image on a placemark, so that it will display as the student travels through the tour.


This video will describe how to change the label on a placemark as well as change the view of a placemark as seen on the tour.

This video will show you how to embed a video from YouTube or SchoolTube into Google Earth placemarks to make a Google Earth Documentary.

The final video in the series will show you how to turn all your work into a .kmz file that can be emailed to others or dropped into the student shared folder, or even uploaded to your teacher web. All these options make your tour available to others.

 

My Apologies…One last video. This one will show you how to direct your students to view the tour.

 

Google Earth and Environmental Changes

I am teaching a lesson this week using Google Earth. The objective I’m trying to hit asks the question, “How have people in San Antonio adapted to or modified their physical environment?”

I decided to use Google Earth to focus on a couple of facts about San Antonio, Texas. We San Antonians really would like it to rain more, and we San Antonians like to dig quarries, and then build things in the hole that is left over after the quarry is spent.

SO…I pinned places in the city to Google Earth, saved a .kmz file, and then dropped the file in the school’s student_shared drive. Once Google Earth was up and running on the students’ computers, I had them click file/open, and navigate to the file to open it. This brought up all my saved places with the informative notes that I had written about each place.

The places I included are Medina Dam and Canyon Dam (both dams that really changed the physical environment around them), Six Flags and San Antonio Zoo (both built in a quarry), and Olmos Dam (a change to the physical environment that PROTECTS the city from floods rather than causing a lake like the other two dams).

We had great discussions about how these things have changed the environment, and about how to navigate around in Google Earth. As a fun highlight, I pointed out that I had pinned their school to Google Earth. I asked them to look at the place where they spend much of their time. I think this lesson went well overall.

Possible extensions?

One of the teachers at this particular school mentioned that a great way to extend this activity would be to ask each student to find a place in Google Earth where they have visited, and then write about the experience they had in this place. I might have to try that sometime.

A side note…

Just yesterday I did not know how to pin places in Google Earth. I asked a fellow ITS, and she gladly explained it to me, and I am so thankful for that. I mention this to give credit where it is due, but also to emphasize the importance of continual learning. I am always glad to learn new things.