Tag Archives: google

Technology can make research projects enjoyable…who would have thought??!

28 Apr

Working with students is the reason I decided to pursue a career in education. The one thing that I hated while attending school was having teachers design typical, “Traditional” teaching assignments. Learning should be fun and something new where the students are engaged and come to class not to learn but to have fun. Designing lesson plans to get students excited about learning is something that I strive for in ever lesson I create and this past project is an example of me doing just that:

I have a student who I am tutoring that is concerned with the STAAR testing, more specific the writing portion of the test. What I am doing is designing lesson plans so the student can learn reading comprehension skills while finding an apprehension for reading and writing.

I presented him with the opportunity of doing a research project over anything that he wanted to do, I love giving students this option because they always feel that they need to answer with an educational topic. The first topic the student chose was over the Alamo. While this is a good strong, topic I wanted him to do something he would actual enjoy doing research over and something that he can show off his knowledge of later in life. The student ended up deciding to do a research project over “The History of Dubstep.” Which addressed a number of TEKS. We came up with two unit questions  Since this is such a new topic of study in music we went to the internet to do our research. As the student looked on the internet I too was on the computer looking for information as well, manly to help produce Inquiry Based Questions to ask the student to help expand his KWL chart.

Towards the end of our lesson I informed my student that I would be creating a blog for him and that next week he would give me an oral presentation of what he had learned and we would record it on a Podcast, this would be so he could have something that he could show to his family and friends on what he had learned and he could show off the steps it took for him to get to the end result. This was a concept that he absolutely fell in love with. He does not have a computer at home so the only access the student has to the internet is at the local library or at school. So this was something that was new and exciting for him. At the end of the session I showed the student his blog and asked him to give a summary of what we had done for that session as he told me I would write what he said and after I would have him go back and edit the summary so it would grammatically make sense.

Since our project was about the history of a certain type of music genre we decided that a podcast would be the best way to show the different types of music and it would be something that students never think they can do. Videos are all around students but radio is something that is fading about from our society so bring something that they have no idea about is something that students will always remember.

As we went though the research process I was having the student number on his KWL chart how he would want to arrange his topics. This was something that is very helpful for students when using this strategy because if you have a good unit question then it will bring new questions up throughout the research process and a student can become lost in his thoughts when it comes time to move the thoughts to a final project. We orally went through how the format to the podcast would go before we started. Once we felt that we were ready we did our first recording. The funny thing about doing a radio interview is that you feel that it is not to difficult since you are only talking but once you start, everything that you wanted to say is lost and it isn’t until after you are finished that you remember what you wanted to say. This is especially turn if you are recording radio, it really takes a few tries to get the format you want down. After listing to the first one it was the students suggestion to rerecord a second interview  I noticed that there were a few topics that the student could elaborate more on. So, I asked the student some more questions like “what are some accomplishments that the artist has had?” “Now, that we have gone through our first draft do you think there is a new way you want me to ask you the questions?”

Here is the link to the students blog. In the blog is where you can see what the student did for that day, his KWL chart as well as our podcast. Hopefully this gives you some suggestions when working with students and assigning them with a resource project. Making a podcast is something that is fast, east, requires no prior knowledge, and something that is in fun for you and the student. Enjoy!! Continue reading


Oh no, not spreadsheets again..

4 Apr

Spreadsheets have a bad name for itself. Whenever I hear that we are going to be using spreadsheets in the classroom I immediately tone out and pay attention to something else. Nothing good comes from spreadsheets but  spreadsheets are no longer just for math there are endless possibilities for using a spreadsheet in the classroom.

Spreadsheets are a good example of teachers spending hours and hours designing lessons only to have the student say in five minutes time “Mr. Gonzalez, I’m finished.” …

Well crap, what am I going to do for the rest of the class now? I thought that was going to take them at least two days.

This is something that every teacher has said to themselves at least once during their career.

In order to teach spreadsheets to your students you do not need to over think it. Students do not like figuring how how many boxes the warehouse has. That’s just busy work. Assignments do not need to necessary be educational challenging just exciting enough to grab the students interest and hold it there till the assignment is over and give the student a good base of enjoyment in learning something new.

The best way to design a spreadsheet is to take something that the children are all interested in and have them design Inquiry based questions and have the students fill out what they want to know; how many people got this, how low with this. etc etc.

Technology makes this a lot easier. Children learn by doing and creating. If you have a Google account you can design spreadsheets about something that all the students are  interested in and have the whole class participate in putting in their own information.

Using this will help with sharing and teaching students how to collaborate on something.



hit the Jump button to see the sample spreadsheets that I made as well as the movie that I used to learn how to use simple excel functions Continue reading

Now class, if you will take out your cell phones for this next assignment ….. *updated*

2 Mar

Before we do anything. Lets take a minute to listen to what John McWhorter has to say about texting …

Now after watching this lets get into using a cell phone in the classroom and how you can use it now knowing what texting is not as something that the kids do and use cute unrecognizable terminology but as a new form of communicate/language.

Two things you never want you students doing while they are in your class

  1. On their cell phones 
  2. Using social media while you are teaching a subject 

Doing one or the other in class would be a sure way to get your cell phone taken up but with social media all around us and almost everyone having a facebook or twitter page, or at least knowing what one is, incorporating social media into the classroom seems like a no-brainier. Fortunately for students using modern day technology is beginning to  emerge from taboo to it becoming a required, needed resource implicated in classrooms. Teachers from all over the world are finding new an innovative ways to use new technology in their classroom. There are two websites that I will use in my classrooms



Using either of these applications may be something that sounds foreign to you but if you think like an educator then you can find many uses for both social media pages.

Facebook is great for students because rather than spending money on a webpage domain name you can just create a Facebook page for your students where you can post daily assignments for students who have missed class, lost their homework or had it eaten by the dog. You can create discussion that students need to respond to. Eventually students will begin to organically start their own discussion on the Facebook page and asking questions about assignments, setting up study groups, what they need for a group presentation. This is something that every educator wishes would happen between their students but always fall short on implicating it. The picture below shows some stats about facebook and why it seems like a no brainier to start using Facebook in your classroom. My idea is if students are already using something then find a way to make it work in your educational curriculum

Twitter  is another one of those apps that seems that everyone is using now a days. You see #hashtags every time you turn on the time, you see a little blue bird every time you walk into a store. Twitter is the number one app that is the closes a company can get to interacting with their customers. If businesses are using this and have recognized this then why hasn’t the education field? There are a few ways that teachers can use twitter in their classroom to help their students; creating IBP projects where you can have your students follow business leaders, scientist, businesses, anything and they can ask those people who are leaders in the field is they can answer a question that they have. This shows the student who thinks having an education is “stupid” that they can follow their favorite celebraty and ask them questions related to education and how they got to where they are now if it was not for school. The best practice you can do, in my opinion is having a #hashtag that is specific to your classroom, let’s say #MrGs930EnglishClass you can have certain hashtags for every period that you teach, oh and they are FREE! you can encourage your students to have their cell phones out and on your overhead have twitter open and you can have students ask questions if they are confused with something. This encourages decision and gives a voice to students that would typically not ask a question because they are afraid of speaking in a class, because they sound “stupid”*. The joy of learning something new is being able to show it to not just your peers but also to people all over the world. With having a designated Hashtag for your students they can tell their parents, grandparents, friends, whoever that they can go and look up #MrGs930EnglishClass and see what they are working on, this is a good way to get your parents excited about the fact that their child would be using Twitter in the classroom. Below is a visual graph that shows some stats about Twitter

*students words not mine.

I have also created a google document that has useful links that I think are very beneficial if you plan on using either Facebook or Twitter in your classroom.