Summer Learning

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Thing 23 – Summer Learning Reflection


Wow! My eyes have been opened to so much by taking this class. I thought I had a feel for all that was out there but I wasn’t even scratching the surface. I still feel overwhelmed by all the possible uses but I have a better grasp of how it all can work together to make more effective lessons to meet the current student population that I am working with. I just think that unless I plan something now in the summer it would be hard to keep up once the school year gets underway. So I am currently working on a project idea for starting up a class wiki in which my students analyze infographics to spark interest in a topic and enhance class discussion. It will also give students practice analyzing data and creating a visual representation of ideas and data. I may also try to use voicethread, google docs for student collaboration projects, and a cartooning project on evolution. Also, I made a screencast for instructing my students on using Excel which I know will be helpful and I plan on testing this tool out when I grade student lab reports to see if it saves me time and motivates them to pay attention to my feedback. I think if I pick one or two new projects for each class I teach and start small I might not feel so overwhelmed. This will give me a feel for how it will play out in the classroom and I can gauge its effectiveness on the students and build upon my web 2.0 tools for the following year.

I am so thankful that I took this course and will definitely pass along the information to my colleagues.


Thing 20 – Just getting started with Google


I must admit that the past few weeks have gotten the better of me and my schedule. I am rapidly feeling the urgency to do so many things that I wanted to do this summer all crammed into this last week of vacation before school resumes. I always think I will get so much done and once again that isn’t the case. So I am trying as best I can to work through these last few “things” and I admittingly I am skipping around. I really was looking forward to checking out google docs though. I played a bit this evening and invited the Upper School teachers to collaborate with me on list of ideas for using docs in the classroom. I definitely sees its potential for students to collaborate on procedural designs for labs and other group presentations. I do want to play further with using “forms” as potential quizzes to save paper but still not sure, “Does it tally results for me into a spreadsheet?” and “Can students not see each other’s answers?”

Also I did try to import a word document that I had which had my text in columns and it didn’t keep this formatting when I imported it and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to do this unless maybe I created a 2-column table. I think right now I feel more comfortable obviously doing my documents and presentations in Microsoft Office but its just because I have been using it for so long. I definitely think with multiple biology teachers at my school now that we can use it for collaborating on lessons. So much to still explore and so little time.


Thing 18- Screencast save me


I love this! I used Screencast-O-matic to create a screencast for my students on using Excel to create a data table, process data using formulas, and graph their processed data, adding error bars. I saved the screen cast as an .mp4 and can now post it to Dropbox for my students to access at any time while they are writing their lab reports. This will be a huge timesaver for me and tool for them. I also plan on using this to grade my students lab reports. Often they don’t read what I write on the report so they may be more captivated by the audio. The reports also take me forever to grade since I am constantly writing comments (usually saying the same thing on each students since they have trouble with similar parts). I think by using screencast to comment on the report, my grading will go a lot faster. I can’t wait to see how much time I might save. I hope I am right in thinking this will help tremendously.

Thing 17 – Podcasts


I subscribed and listen to a few podcasts before such as NPR Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! and Science Friday. There are so many out there that seem interesting as I perused the selection for this “thing”. I have friends who listen a lot to podcasts in their car on the long commute to work. Mine is too short to listen to a whole one unfortunately. I think you can have students listen to a podcast and have them reflect and discuss their thoughts in class the next day. If I had a wiki or blog set up they could do it on that forum. It might be a way I may start off a class blog. I can keep it simple and use it as a current event and podcast review and discussion to enhance course material.

Thing 16 – Teacher Communities


I admit that I didn’t spend too much time with this particular task. I briefly viewed Classroom 2.0 and actually found a good source of current event news attached to lesson plan ideas at PBS News Hours. I do however participate in the AP Biology Teacher Community supported by College Board.  I follow discussions and also post questions when I need additional input on curriculum or labs. It also is a great source of lesson ideas and activities. This is a valuable resource for my teaching whether it is for AP or any of my other classes.

Thing 15 – Diigo fan


I am think this is the such a helpful tool. I have a ton of bookmarks on my school computer that I would forget when I was trying to do work on my home computer and now I can have access to them wherever I am. I even downloaded the app to my iphone. I still want to play around more with my tagging of items but I think this will help me get more organized and maybe use the great resources I have found so far. Check out my library at 

I did get an educator account but I am not sure how I might use this with the students. Perhaps eventually I may want to use it to share links of current event websites. I am thinking it will be more for my personal organization and exploration at this time.


Thing 13 – Use technology and “flip” the classroom


I just finished watching a K12 Online Conference entitled Technology as an Ally in the IB Science Class. It focused on the experience of a high school teacher, Antonio Amaral Cunha , as he implemented Google Docs and blogs into his class as a way to get students to do some research on the upcoming topic in advance of its introduction. He commented, “Technology is there and there is nothing we can do to stop it”, so why not view it as a tool and not as an enemy. He had some good ideas for its use that I may consider doing with my SL IB Biology students this year. For example, one week or so before he is going to discuss a new topic, he posts the learning objectives into a Google Doc and assigns students the task to answer one of the objectives and also comment or add to a fellow student’s response to another question. He provides feeback at a  certain time and gives students a chance to edit their responses. At the closing date for the document he changes the status of the document so that students can only view and no longer edit. It now becomes a study tool for the class. Time in class is spent answering student questions and applying their knowledge to questions so that they can deepen their understanding. Both the teacher and students commented on how the class dynamic becomes more conversational and time can be spent on application rather than lecturing and note-taking.

Antonio also uses a class blog to post articles and videos of relevance to help students make connections to the real world. Students commented that this is more work for them to keep up with commenting and responded to blog posts or Google Doc assignments but it does bring more meaning to the lesson. I think this is a great way to have students take more responsibility and ownership in their learning. One student did make the point that the teacher may make the assumption that the student learned something from all the pre-work and therefore, the teacher does not really discuss or explain a concept in class. The student may also think he or she understands a concept, but when it comes time for the test, the student realizes that they didn’t know it well enough or accurately to be succesful. Also some students are hesitant to embrace this new style because they are more comfortable with traditional teaching methods and afraid they may miss something if the teacher doesn’t go through a traditional, detailed lecture. I saw this a bit this year when for one of my AP Biology units I assigned students a Kahn Academy video to watch for homework and answer some questions. Then in class I opened discussion to answer student questions and do an activity. Students weren’t sure what questions to ask although they said they didn’t understand it all. They also seemed very uneasy and asked if I would still go over each slide of the PowerPoint. So my plan to save time and use class for other application activities didn’t quite play out the way I had hoped.

I wonder though if students just need time to adjust to a new way of learning. Just like teachers need time to adapt to a new way of presenting material and guiding students through the learning process.

Thing 12 – My animoto slideshow creation


The DNA double helix can be spotted in streets, parks, crafts, and architecture. It is not just hidden inside your cells.

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.

Thing 11 – More with Flickr


Wow, I didn’t realize all that flickr has to offer. I think it might make my life a lot easier with a few assignments I already have. For one of my summer assignments I currently have students take their own photos of objects that illustrate a biological vocabulary word. Then they create a slideshow using PowerPoint of their images. Below each image they define the term and state how the picture illustrates the vocabulary word. They turn in a USB drive to me and I upload each slideshow and view and grade (I came across idea from Kim Foglia’s class website, which I highly recommend). Now obviously you are thinking of my goodness how tedious and you are correct. However, I am thinking that with my new friend flickr I can simplify this process for everyone and each student can have access to the pictures. Another idea I would like to try would be to use some of the tools I found at Big Huge Labs site to have students make a motivational poster or a magazine cover to stimulate discussion of a bioethical issue or environmental issue. The students can take a photo, load it into one of these formats, and then add a title or caption to spark the start of our class dialogue. We can load on flickr to share and comment.


DNA on the Playground by noii’s

Thing 11 – Just playing…photosharing with Flickr


letter P Scrabble Trickster Letter L a67 Christmas Sparkle letter Y

Image created by Spell with Flickr

I just thought this was the coolest thing!


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