Apps for the Science Classroom

chemistry
Photo Credit: Joe Dyer via Compfight cc

The way society is progressing, technology is becoming an crucial part of the classroom. Technology has opened so many more doors that were closed, if not non-existent, prior to these technological advancements. As Heidi-Hayes Jacobs had stated,

Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event”

So, this thought had really motivated me to do a little digging and find some useful apps/websites I can use in my science lessons in the future. Here is the list I came up with:

 

1. Science360– this is a great website that has tons of interesting videos that teach different lessons in science. There is a bunch of topics and can be used for just about any lesson.

2. iCell App– this app is a great resource for teaching about cells (go figure…) which is sometimes a difficult topic to cover as its hard to grasp concepts you can’t see. The reason this may work better than the previous method, which was usually the teacher drawing on the board, is because not all teachers are great at drawing and just makes it more confusing at times.

3. Virtual Frog Dissection– although this is a $3.00 app, this app is a lot cheaper than an actual frog to dissect. This app is a great alternative for students who don’t feel comfortable dissecting something that was actually living- I know the smell a lone is sometimes strong enough to make me queasy.

4. Human Body App– this is another $3.00 app but is a great visual aide when teaching about the human body. It is impossible to actually show the inside of a human body (which I would not want to see anyways), the only other option is the pictures in the textbook or on posters, so this app provides as a beneficial resource.

5. GoSkyWatch Planetarium App– this is a free app that allows students to interactively look for constellations as well as stars and planet. From my experience, students always learn best when they’re able to learn while interacting. This app allows students to take control of their learning and focus on the things topics that interest them the most.

6. Project Noah App– this is a nature-lovers and biology app. This app is free and allows people to take pictures of wildlife that then identifies its species and information regarding that animal. This is a fun, interactive app that makes biology and teaching about the animal kingdom more interesting.

7. Gene Screen App– this is a free app for an Apple device. Genes is a topic I found a little more challenging in high school because its a topic that’s not addressed in previous classes. Because of this, this app would be so beneficial to help learn these concepts.

8. 3D Brain App– this is a free app for any device for both Android and Apple. This is a great app for identifying parts of the brain, where they’re located, and further information about it. Not only will visual learners benefit, but the entire class will because its an interactive app that’s easier to learn from then a picture in the textbook.

9. Biology for Kids-microorganisms– as I’ve stated before, interactive learning is extremely beneficial to encourage learning and interest students to science. I’ve used this website when teaching microorganisms and helped me better understand these concepts.

10. Science for Kids– this is a fun website to play around with for young students. There are interesting facts, games, and many different topics this website covers. I would plan to introduce this website to my class and allow time for them to investigate it and spend their time in whatever topic that interests them. By doing this, I would hope to motivate and initiate inquiry regarding these science topics which will transfer over to other classes.

 

All of these apps/websites could be easily be integrated into the classroom. A lot of concepts in science are things that can’t be seen visually without the use of technology (cells, atoms, genes, etc), so, with technology, these concepts can be taught interactively and much more easier than other methods.

Advertisements

Khan- the great resource for education

 

After watching this video, I was left feeling further inspired to use technology in my classroom. I have watched this guy at least 20 times, but the time I had watched was when he was explaining concepts to me. Salman Khan, as I’ve said in a previous blog post, created a Youtube channel called Khan Academy. During this TED talks, Khan explained the importance of using video in education for a number of reasons. Firstly, because students are able to work from an environment that they feel comfortable. Secondly, and one of the most important, students can learn at their own pace. By this, I mean students can pause and replay whatever segment they are struggling with and learn at unique paces. Thirdly, Khan had noted that watching video on Youtube allowed students to not feel embarrassed about asking questions or needing a review because they can watch video on their own time and on whatever they are needing extra help with. Khan is a promoter of free education which is why he had posted his videos online. I know, just from Khan’s Youtube videos alone, I have been able to learn concepts I had missed in class from both high school as well as university (such as organic chemistry which was very challenging for me). The downside of these videos is that it mostly applies to visual learners; however, all learners can benefit as they are freely able to take breaks as often as they need. As a future educator, I feel the need to not only introduce Youtube and Khan’s videos to students as a resource, but use them in my classroom as well. During my grade 12 year in high school, my class was being taught a very difficult to grasp topic about cells and cell division. The lecture was very confusing to the entire class, but when our teacher had shown us the Khan video it had clicked in for a lot of people. My classroom will definitely use technology, but the real important factor is that I will teach topics in a variety of ways to allow all students to learn.

Using technology to collaborate: Google

Photo Credit: ~Aphrodite via Compfight cc

There’s no doubt that today’s technology gives more opportunities to connect and communicate with others- not only with people you know but with people around the world. The limits of collaborating and communicating with people have literally been removed. And, although technology has its negatives, the opportunities it presents is much greater. Specifically, collaboration in the past has been a struggle of finding appropriate times, finding a location to meet, and emailing back and forth with edits to projects. In today’s decade, all of these problems have been solved. There are apps for people to vote on times that work best, video conferencing (Google Hangouts), and Google docs to collaborate right online instead of emailing back and forth.

In fact, Google and Google Plus are the ultimate tool for collaboration and connecting. Google has created one place where they can complete any project of any dimension. This tool includes multi person editing and revision history which is critical for collaboration. This is probably my favorite resource after taking ECMP 355. Collaboration, and group work is half the stress level it was before because of the convenience of working online. I am now a Google and Google Plus advocate just because I have worked with different programs and this was the one that was high above the rest for efficiency. Google has created the perfect platform, where you don’t need to worry about saving, and don’t need to worry about the stress of collaboration!

Tech Task #9: Youtube- more than just Cat videos

Photo Credit: Viktor Hertz via Compfight cc

Youtube is well known for being the best place to watch hilarious cat videos that will instantly make you smile. Although this is one of the reasons I love it, it is just one of the many. I probably use it half the time for entertainment purposes and half the time for educational purposes. Youtube has statistics many companies would dream for: having 24 hours of video time every minute, 2 billion views per day, and that Google had purchased Youtube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. With these kind of numbers backing it up, its not hard to believe how useful of a resource this could be for teachers. Probably half of all my lesson plans contain Youtube clips that help students learn the concepts in a different way. I’ve used it teaching microscopes, decimals/percents, and as brain breaks.

Not only are they great for getting concepts across for younger students, I still use Youtube in University today to understand some of the difficult chemistry topics. There is many professors who post videos explaining almost every topic . These are nice because you are able to pause the video and learn at a slower pace if needed. Although you have to keep in mind, some of the content of videos isn’t monitored and therefore may not be 100% accurate, if you look at the number of views (higher views=usually more reliable) and take everything with a grain of salt it can be used as a strong resource. One of the best channels, which I have used in both high school and university, is the Khan Academy. Khan academy is a non-profit organization that provides free education for over 50 subjects; furthermore, the founder Salman Khan is a graduate MIT and Harvard Business School and has even talked on TED talks. All of the Khan Academy’s videos are posted on Youtube and my first choice of resource for then I need help understanding things.

Although Youtube, as a resource, risks validity, the benefits of using it in the classroom much outweigh this small risk. So long as teachers are watching the video before they play it for the class, that risk is lessened. Giving students the opportunity to see and visualize things they normally wouldn’t have been able to see is a great benefit to using Youtube in the classroom. There are tons of lists on Google about how teachers can use Youtube in their classroom which only further proves how useful it is. I would even argue it is a better resource for learning than Twitter is… :O

Are people addicted to having their phone in their hand like smokers are hooked to having a cigarette in their hand?

hand with cigarette
Photo Credit: massimo ankor via Compfight cc

Are people addicted to having their phone in their hand like smokers are hooked to having a cigarette in their hand?

I was walking from the parking lot, and instantly thought to grab my phone from my pocket and look through some of my apps…. I had just looked through my apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest) already before I left my house… This had surfaced the idea that it is just getting to be my instinct that whenever I am not physically doing something, I rely on my phone to pass time. Although this is sometimes a good idea, it just so happened to be a one of the first beautiful days in which I would have liked just enjoying being outside and not freezing. This thought rather bothered me. It sounds cliche, but the beauty around me was being ignored for the reason of finding out one of my old friends “is happy that the snow is melting”- this is crazy!! I could have been enjoying this pleasant weather myself but instead decided to read how one of my friends was. This really made me wonder what else I have missed because of the “need” to have my phone in my hand and be pointlessly spending time on it.

After really thinking about this I felt curious to do a little further research. There was a ton of articles about phone addictions- “Your cell phone is not a part of your body- you can let it go“, “Are you addicted to your Cellphone?”. In the first article mentioned, I read an sentence that really connected well with me, it had stated we need to take control back of our minds and stop compulsively checking our phone. It had also given some startling statistics, such as, the average person checks there phone 150 times…a day!, and that about 28% of today’s car accidents are a result of texting, calling, and using your phone in general! These are both insane high numbers.  The thing to also consider is that cellphone use is increasing with the newer generations. When I walk in the hallways and don’t use my phone approximately 3/5 people walking by me are on their phone. There is even a lot of Youtube videos about people being so absorbed by their smart phone that they run into things while walking. The numbers of increasing cell-phone pedestrian injuries are growing exponentially and a news report was even done on this epidemic.

This is getting to be an increasing problem and motivated me to make a new goal for this semester- to be more conscience about the amount of time I am using on my cellphone and to work on not reaching for my cellphone just to pass time. I completely agree that cellphones are beneficial to learning; however, my fear is that people will get so caught up on their phone that they’ll miss the real-life things happening right in front of them. Smokers who are trying to quit often struggle with not having something in their hand, I think this addiction is very similar to the new generation with having a cellphone in their hand, or at least on them. As I said before, I believe technology is essential for teaching; however, there comes a point where I wonder where the line is drawn on when technology is actually becoming overpowering more than useful.

Do today’s youth understand everything posted online is public?

private sign
Photo Credit: kahunapulej via Compfight cc

A common misconception today’s youth and students have with media is that if something is deleted it disappears forever.  A new, big trend that helps build this misconception is Snapchat. Snapchat is a program that allows users to send pictures to their friends that disappear in 10 seconds (this can be set lower if wanted)- this app was originally designed for messaging nude/sexual pictures and have them not saved to the recipients phone. Although many people claim they use it for “texting with faces”, research suggests sexting is actually a common use.

One of the reasons Snapchat had taken on this perception is because of this 10 second viewing time. Many students believed this to mean that once the 10 seconds is up, the photo completely deletes from history as if it never did exist. This thought is very dangerous as it comes across to students that they dont need to worry about the consequences of sending certain pictures because they’ll simply “disappear”. The big lesson students are missing is the idea that there is no such thing as complete online privacy. There are situations that occurred in schools from students taking a photo from the snapchat of a nude student, and the picture circulating. One case was involving 3 boys, aged 13-15, creating a site including 50 female middle/high school students either nude or semi-nude. Many students don’t understand that by sharing a nude photo of an underage individual they are actually partaking in child pornography. This is a dangerous misconception if students think they can send pictures to their friends/boyfriend/girlfriend and think that it will disappear in 10 seconds- individuals can screenshot, or take a picture, quite easily and send it to their friends circulating the image. Although this would seem harmless at the time, this is actually a criminal charge and has serious consequences.

   Today’s youth have fully grown up with the existence of technology and the internet. It is important, as an educator, to teach both netiquette and the consequences to certain actions completed online- such as the idea that things posted online are always public if people try hard enough to find them.

Is technology advancements always for the better?

Photo Credit: dcJohn via Compfight cc

What will the future look like? The way things are heading, it will be a time you stay on the coach and have food delivered to the door, cash your cheques by taking a picture on your phone, and shopping for anything you can think of without walking out your door. Although all these things are very convenient, they also have their consequences that follow. There are many great things technology can offer, but in this post I am mainly going to discuss the controversies to technology:

1. While you are able connect faster with people, physical interactivity is significantly diminished. For a university student like myself, it is really easy to communicate with family members and be able to see what’s going on; however, some people lose their motivation to go and physically visit when they have the ability to connect from the comfort of their couch.

2. Patience goes out the window. When you have a smart phone and internet almost anywhere, any question you have can be Googled. This completely takes the curiosity away from young minds because they are never left wondering anything… they have the answer in their hands. Especially in today’s era where the internet is so fast you don’t even have to wait for a page to load, as even this can cause some frustration. You are getting the answer to some question it would have taken at least a day to research in a library and even then you might not have the answer.

3. Another side effect to the advancements made with technology is that writing skills have been seen to decline. Although it is a good thing youth are writing frequently (through Facebook, Twitter, chatrooms, etc.), grammar and writing skills are almost non-existent. This is another form of expression; however, it is one that does not teach the skill required for more professional writing.

4. It can be very useful to always have your smart phone on hand; but, with this, comes a constant distraction. As much as my phone is used for looking stuff up and for educational purposes, it is also used for entertainment- especially when people are always coming up with new, addicting games like Angry Birds, and Candy Crush….

5. Other effects of technology include another platform for bullying, shortened attention spans, obesity, lack of social skills, poor sleep habits, higher level of deceit, as well as warped sense of reality.

The improvements that technology has made is imperative to the lifestyles of today. I fully agree that the positive effects from the development of technology outweigh the negative. But as a teacher, it is important to understand the effects that come with the positives. Our students of today will have much different learning styles compared to the students even 20 years ago. It is important to teach students the negative side effects to technology with the positive.

Can bullying simply be a thing from the past?

Bullying is something that takes place all over the world, to all different age groups. It is a problem that had existed from the beginning of time and something we still deal with today. There are different types of bullying (physical, emotional, etc.) and many different platforms in which it takes places (at school, over the internet, etc.). After reading the article Joining Hands Against Bullying as well as Raising the Alert on Cyberbullying, I was pushed further with the importance about knowledge and educating today’s youth about bullying. Because a lot of the bullying situations take place where teachers are not always watching, it is best to set up preventative methods and education seminars regarding bullying and its detrimental consequences. I believe even more that, as a teacher, it is my responsibility to create a safe, respectful environment in my own classroom.

When researching further, and looking off the Government’s ‘Get Cyber Safe‘ website, I was presented with some interesting statistics: 8% of students have reported cyberbullying, and 14% had admitted to sending mean or hurtful messages online. Personally looking at the situation, I can already think of 10 people I know who have been bullied just in my small town school growing up- maybe not in the physical sense, but definitely emotionally and socially. You hear stories in the news about bullying that has gone to far and has caused severe consequences. Suicide is the third leading cause for death in young people. This is startling for me…this is a reason that isn’t like disease that cannot be treated. Suicide can be avoided and more importantly avoided all together with the proper supports and education in place. If you simply google the term “bullying causes” the results that come up are unsettling: school shooting, depression, and self harm/suicide. It is very disheartening to hear that during such a tough time for growing due to growing, puberty, changes emotionally and physiologically that children are unable to help each other through it, but instead put others down to make themselves feel better. Don’t get me wrong… there are many articles and stories about students doing good and creating help groups and being positive role models, but theses are the stories that should be in majority over the negative stories.

Here is a video I loved! It shows how influential bystanders can be in bullying (it is NOT a situation just including the person being bullied and the person who’s the bully) :

SPEAK OUT!  Bullying is not something that should stay in the shadows…

For further reading on Cyberbullying, you can read my other post “Can Cyberbullying be prevented?” or go through these resources (also on that post).

Here is a list of sites that can help you, if you or someone you know, is being cyberbullied:

1. Internet safety

2. Cyberbully help

3. STOP Cyberbullying

4. Ryan’s Story– another victim of Cyberbullying

Are teachers impacted by their online identity?

eye
Photo Credit: Tc Morgan via Compfight cc

During class today, I was informed that babies 6 months in the womb already have an online digital identity started. Although this didn’t shock me, as most people love seeing babies and baby bumps, it was still eye-opening. Although these are not necessarily bad pictures, the individual is not given the option of taking on this digital identity their parents, or other people, are creating for them. For example, if a mother posts a video of her 2 year old dancing with some underwear on his head, when that child grows up to be 14 years old, he could be terribly embarrassed of that video.

With this new piece of information, it had made me think about what my digital identity looks like. I would not be too mortified with what came up on the internet; however, I know some friends and stories of their Facebook account causing them to not get a particular job, or even lose their job all together. For example, there is one teacher from Massachusetts who had lost her job in 2010 from posting to her Facebook page that her students were “germbags”, “snobby”, and “arrogant”. One of the interesting things is that it wasn’t even the authority figures in the school who had alerted the superintendant… it was two parents. Apparently, it wasn’t even a tough decision because the superintendant had wrote an email, while on vacation, to the teacher to resign. This alone makes the point that teachers need high security with their social networking accounts, as well as wise judgement when deciding what to post.

 

Photo Credit: yoshiffles via Compfight cc

Even with the right of freedom of speech, teachers are still always liable for their posts and pictures online. Whether it be a picture of a teacher with a drink in his/her hand, or stating their opinion of their students online, teachers’ freedom of speech is not as free as some would like. Although I’m all for keeping teaching as a professional career, I find some of these stories are a little excessive. Having a picture with a wine glass and beer mug in your hand, while in Europe, does not seem like a reason to lose your job. I understand that sometimes parents will not agree with your teaching philosophy and teaching practices, but it is very unsettling to know I’m being watched all the time, and that I need to worry and debate if I should post a certain comment or picture online- I know I would have found nothing wrong with the wine picture, and would have posted it myself, meaning that one teacher’s fate could have easily been mine.

After all of this digging, it makes me a little more nervous to be entering the teaching field in just a few years. Even though I don’t think I have anything to worry about, someone could find the smallest thing and make a complaint if they didn’t like me. I think as a teacher, you always need to be aware of the image and identity you present to everyone- they may not even be the people physically around you because the internet is available for everyone. You should always evaluate your digital identity and, especially as a teacher, provide no reason to have anyone question your integrity and professional identity.