Using Pearltrees to Differentiate Instruction

How can I use Pearltrees to differentiate content in the classroom?

Pearltrees offers a great way to organize, share, and acquire resources in a very user-friendly format. In my classroom I would use Pearltrees to differentiate instruction by making a pearl tree into an assignment with the assignment being connected to a variety of resources and web 2.0 tools for students to use to complete the assignment. Giving students choices when doing assignments allows students to learn and create giving students creative freedom.  So if the assignment was to learn about a certain concept and make a model or visual representation of that concept, students could be given resources and tools as pearls that the students could pick from to complete the assignment. I need to develop this further as I am not exactly sure how to manage this with students. I know that students would pick up Pearltress quickly in my opinion.

Students could also share resources and assignments through Pearltrees and post comments and questions to students and the teacher. I’m excited to introduce this to my students, I think Middle School students will enjoy this tool. On a side note I did find a lot of Pearltrees that teachers have created to organize their resources related to differentiating instruction by doing a Google search for using Pearltrees to differentiate instruction.

I have participated this week in my PLN by working on the assignment 2 project with my Edmodo group, and participating in the Tweeter feed. I read a lot of blog postings this week, but only responded to a couple.  I also read a lot of tweets, but didn’t tweet much. This week I hope to participate more in communicating with PLN by writing more blog responses. 

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Video Games and Learning

How might video games enhance my students’ learning?

In my experience video games are very engaging and when used appropriately extremely educational. I think the most beneficial part of video games is that they are goal orientated, challenge students in a variety of ways and give students choices. Students are in charge of their learning while playing the video games, which is very powerful.

I reviewed dozens of games this week and found some really fun and engaging games, and some really not so engaging games. The first game I investigated that I found worthy with is called Monster Physics! This game really engaged the students and has a lot to offer for the dollar price tag. The students really mastered the game much faster than I did, which was a bit humbling. The game connects does to many of my physical science standards dealing with Newton’s Laws nicely as well. Students demonstrated did demonstrate many new skills having to do with force, momentum, circular motion, and more. Obviously some students picked this game up very fast, while others found it a bit challenging to figure out all the ins and outs of the game. I did not share this game with my PLN as it was shared through the MOOC; I am interested in what other science teachers think of the game, and will share the game later.

The next game I investigated is a roller coaster creator called: Build a Coaster. This game has students add different sections of the coaster to try and get the best ride possible for the riders. Students do like this game, but it is limited in its learning potential. This game does help students meet the same standards as the game mentioned above. The game is good for a short introduction to roller coaster physics, but does not offer extensive educational opportunities. Overall this is a decent game, but limited in applying motion and math concepts. Students demonstrated some skills in problem solving an increased understanding of what the roller coaster riders could handle without getting hurt. I would say that students couldn’t demonstrate through this game that they have mastered the targeted skills. I have shared this site with other science teachers at my school and with my PLN through this blog.

Anther roller coaster game/ creator at: http://www.bestphysics.com/physics-games/roller-coaster-creator/ This game is actually very engaging and has levels, so students are more motived to continue playing to reach the next level. This game has more elements to it than the previously mentioned game, and students stayed interested longer in the game. The game does have the student’s problem solve and think about motion concepts well. This game is overall more appealing and engaging than most roller coaster games/creators I have worked with.

This past week I haven’t spent a large amount of time communicate within my PLN. I have been reading many blog postings and responding to a few, but nothing close the goals I have set for myself. I have checked Twitter for resources and ideas but have not posted. I did discuss the group project through my group’s Edmodo group. We are focusing on differentiating through Edmodo. This week I hope to be much more active in communicating within my PLN.

Tool for Differentiation

I chose to focus on investigating and using screencasts by using the free program http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/ to help differentiate instruction for my students. I know this is a commonly used tool, but it is new to me and I am interested in what it has to offer. After using this tool and watching many screencasts created by others I see many benefits for differentiating instruction. One of the main benefits for students is that students can access the information from home or on vacation for example.  Another advantage of screencasts is the ability to watch, pause, and watch the video again if needed. Students can also produce screencasts in a variety of ways to demonstrate understanding of various web tools, teach others a new a skill, and much more.

 

Here is a science resource that I made a short screencast for my students to use called Phet simulations. These science concept simulations are a good way for students to investigate different science concepts and actually manipulate the different components of each concept. These simulations are great for differentiation as all students can use them to some extent, and most students really enjoy using them. This is the screencast I made using Screencast-o-matic: Phet Screencast- Waves on a String