Showing posts with label resources. Show all posts
Showing posts with label resources. Show all posts

Monday, 26 May 2014

Using Technology to Make A Midsummer Night's Dream "Run Smooth"

Building on last week's post, English teacher Laura Vlahos shares how her Grade 8 students have used Oxford Next to get the most out of Shakespeare this year.

Reading Shakespeare for the first time can be a daunting task, especially for middle school students. This year, however, the students in Grade 8 English had access to a fabulous tool to help them understand and analyze Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – no matter what their level of readiness.

Oxford Next is a website that has previously been used in senior grades, and was piloted for use in Grade 8 this year. Oxford Next allows students to explore the text from multiple angles, including through the use of images, audio recordings, film clips, an interactive play script, and a graphic novel.

When I spoke to students to find out which section of the website they found most useful, there were almost as many different answers as there are students in the grade. One student mentioned that the graphic novel wasn’t useful at all; overhearing this, another student exclaimed “What are you talking about? It was the most useful part!” This exchange highlights the fact that a multi-faceted approach to a text truly allows each student to access the material in a manner that best suits their individual learning style, interests, and ability level.

The end result of having a variety of tools at our disposal has been that we have been able to dig much more deeply into the material than in previous years. In the past we have focused on simply understanding the plot, the characters, and a single theme. This year we have been able to delve into dozens of themes and explored the language in a much richer way. Students created seminars in which they explored many different elements in a single scene, and assisted their classmates with their understanding of the text.

We finished off our unit with some inspired performances, ranging from Lysander waxing poetic about true love, to Bottom comically mixing up his words. All in all, I think the Bard would have been proud.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Blended Chemistry: Resources Make the Difference

How do you know you've got a good resource? Your students recommend it to their peers. Science teacher Liz Greflund discusses how Greenwood's chemistry resources bring the best of the new and the traditional to the science classroom.

Flash Video Still
Visual reinforcement, through materials like
this flash animation, promotes understanding
rather than memorization.
Blended learning in chemistry has evolved over the past few years at Greenwood. As a team, the chemistry teachers have been determining how to use course resources to best enhance student learning. Our aim is to increase student perseverance while providing a supported education in chemistry. 

The class time is run in a traditional manner:
  • The teacher runs a lesson and coordinates activities.
  • The Moodle page contains many resources that students can use to solidify their understanding.
  • We make an effort to build community in class, often beginning with a starter to get the students engaged and working efficiently. We then move on to a lesson which ends with students practicing the material.
This approach is quite straightforward, and is practiced in many chemistry classrooms across the country. The difference in the blended learning chemistry classes comes with the resources, including:
  • Completed class notes: These are posted for student reference, as well as a variety of activities, videos and interesting links.
  • Visual learning: The image included here comes from a flash animation developed for the Grade 11 Chemistry course. For some, it is the visual reinforcement that allows students to understand the problem as opposed to memorizing the process.
  • Online problems: Students complete a series of problems, and check each answer before moving to the next problem. Prompting is given if the answer is incorrect.

What do students think?

Students respond well to these resources. I often hear students say “you should watch the video - it was really useful." We constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the resources, and we think we have found a nice balance. The students enjoy the demos, lab and lessons that run during class and are able to access the material at home as they wish. We think this blend is the best of both worlds.