This is my first year working as the technology integration specialist at Wellesley High School Most of the projects we have been working on are in their infancy. We are experimenting with tools and learning from our experiences. I am sure that next year these projects will increase in number and in effectiveness. Some departments have been more active with technology than others. This year I am building relationships and working on spreading my resources throughout the building. I am confident that over time I will be able to make more of an impact across the curriculum. I feel very proud of what we have accomplished so far this year. There are exciting things happening here.
Teachers and students are doing some amazing work
with technology at Wellesley High School!
with technology at Wellesley High School!
Online Educational Networking
Many teachers are using www.ning.com to create Online networks where students can reflect through blogging and interact through discussion forums. These sites have been very successful. Teachers report that students are engaging online in ways that they have not engaged in class. The network is providing a voice for students who are not as vocal face-to-face. Students are motivated to write by a larger class audience and to be more careful with their writing. Subjects such as racism are being discussed in greater detail than they had been previously in class. These networks have been embraced particularly in the English Department. In addition, I have a Spanish teacher who has created a site for her Spanish class. Ning allows you to change the language of the site itself, so that all of the links and directions are in Spanish. At the moment these are private Websites are only visible to the students within each class. I am hopeful that we will be able to open some of these up in the future.
One of my English teachers has been using podcasting extensively in her level 3 Freshman English class. Her students are very engaged in the project and have produced some excellent work. Much of it is very personal, and so is not being shared outside of the classroom. The teacher reports that the experience helped students think about voice, language and grammar. Students realized they could hear grammatical mistakes when they recorded their work that they had not caught when writing. Students also considered word choice and added details that they realized were lacking. Recording also helped students see the benefit of incorporating dialogue. It also becomes clear very quickly if the piece does not have a beginning, middle and end. Often she has to ask students, with personal and analytical essays, the "so what?" question. With the GarageBand project, students were able to determine whether they had provided the necessary substance to give the writing meaning.
I am currently designing a podcast project with a math teacher for her level 3 freshman geometry classes. We will be starting this in the next few weeks.
Many teachers are using Wikis as classroom websites and for class projects. One of our Physics teachers created a wiki for his senior physics classes. The purpose of this wiki space was to provide an alternative forum for students to participate in class discussions on topics related to energy and on lab reports (exchanging ideas or discussing common problems). The teacher had moderate success with this project and attributes it to the need to encourage or require participation in the future. He is planning to try it again next year.
On of our English teachers did a wiki research project on Mythology earlier in the year with all of her freshmen English classes. Students researched different gods and goddesses and posted their research on the Wiki. She felt that the wiki was a great way to get student work published Online quickly and easily. Students engaged with the visual nature of the project and used the Website to learn about all of the gods and goddesses (not just their own). These sites were used to study for a test on the subject.
One of our History teachers uses a wiki in her AP History class. She posts resources and assignments for students. She also uses it for reference materials during class. Students use the space to write summaries of the different chapters they are reading. Each student is assigned a chapter to summarize. These summaries are posted on the wiki and are used to study for the AP exam. Britta reports that she finds the wiki very easy to use and it has been a very useful tool for both her and her students.
The language department, humanities and science departments are all working (or beginning work) on iMovies. In the language department Seniors are working on a Spanish video to demonstrate their knowledge of the language. They are creating commercials and music videos which give a message of peace or promote useful products for teachers. This is a great project for Seniors, especially at this time of year. They are engaged and are using the target language in authentic ways.
In Humanities class, Seniors are working on a movie project which reflects on their community. Students define their own ideas about community as they complete the project. The video aspect of the project allows them to discover their definition of community in ways that no other medium could do. It facilitates this kind of study and reflection.
One of our Spanish teachers has been using the social bookmarking website del.icio.us to share links with her students. She has found this site extremely useful for the ease in which she can point students to Online resources. It also works really well for teachers who work at multiple computers.
Students in the Bradford newspaper class have started blogging this year. Thus far the blog has not gone public, but students have been writing and responding extensively with each other. There is a level of engagement with these students that we had not seen previously. We hope to open up this blog to the Wellesley Community next year.
This year we created a Sophomore Author Thesis blog where students can share their reflections about the authors they studied for their Sophomore Author Thesis paper. We are collecting student responses so that sophomores in future years will be able to draw on the blog as a resource when deciding which author to study.
I have been meeting with groups of Freshman during their guidance seminars to discuss issues of Internet safety and cyberbullying. One of our guidance counselors and I have also met with parents to discuss issues of teens and technology. These meetings have been very well received by parents and we hope to continue them next year in the form of a parent drop-in group. We hope to meet monthly to discuss issues of Internet safety and cyberbullying. Both projects have been piloted this year. Next year we hope to roll out this out to more students and parents.