Monday, September 30, 2013

Tech apps

By: James
        When we started to create our units and our lesson plans, it felt very unusual. Rarely do the students get a chance to sit down with their teacher and discuss how the course should go. I really enjoyed this class so far, because it gave us students a bit more of a choice of what or how the course should be sketched out. But there was many things that us students had to do, for us to grow stronger in using the keyboard and learning about blogging.
          Many people might be excited to start learning about keyboard, but little do they know that there is a lot more to learn than they think. That is why our class learned the most important part of tech apps, Keyboarding. Keyboarding plays a major role in a life of a good computer geek. After I had started the lessons I began to get better and better. I finally knew how to type the correct and appropriate way. Even though I wasn't that excited to learn and practice keyboarding, but it turned out to be very beneficial.
         Another important factor of this wonderful class is learning about blogging. And that is exactly what we did. I had the opportunity to learn about blogging. Even before I found out that we would we be learning about blogging, I was excited to learn. Non only was blogging very interesting and exiting but it allows a person to share their thoughts out, on a blog. iI had the chance to learn the main things about blogs. I felt that overall this set-up was very beneficial and hopefully in the future , I predict that this class will be a great success.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hacking Tech Apps Begins

By: Mrs. Bartis

This is my 10th year to teach Tech Apps to 8th graders.  For 8 of those years my TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills - what the state of Texas says should be taught in Tech Apps classes) were very descriptive.  2 years ago, my TEKS changed and now focus on the '21st Century' skills.  I can't stand that phrase by the way but that's another post for another day. The TEKS now resemble the ISTE-NETS Student Standards.

The sign on my door last Tuesday
Last year, I continued my class as usual.  We did keyboarding, Word, Excel, Multimedia and Web 2.0.  But it didn't seem right. I wanted to innovate. I wanted to do something different.  I want students to think thoughts instead of learn facts.  Last year I tried Genius Hour with little success.  My students were still focused on the 1st right answer, the easy way, the first page of Google.  I knew I had to do something different.

Last week we finished keyboarding.  I do believe keyboarding is an essential skill and it's in the TEKS so I still teach it. Besides, the rest of the year go much smoother for students who can touch type 35 words per minute with 97% accuracy.

On Tuesday, we sat in the floor and I handed everyone (I have 9 students this year) a copy of the TEKS.  I told them this is what the State expects you to learn. Let's dive into it.  I want you to understand what you are supposed to learn this year.  We spent the rest of the class dissecting the TEKS.
The circled TEKS need
direct teaching

On Wednesday, we sat in the floor with our copies of the TEKS, chart paper and smelly markers (sometimes you just need to write with smelly markers!).  This time we categorized each TEKS as a Task or a Behavior (something you need to do over and over no matter the task).  We then discussed which Behaviors need to be directly taught.  From this we created our first 6 units.

After the units, we'll start the student directed learning. They will solve relevant problems.  Relevant to them.  Through these problem solving units, we'll complete our Tasks.  When a student needs to learn something about Technology, I'll teach it when they need it.  JITT - Just In Time Teaching. We'll change the audience.  Their first relevant problem needs to be solved to help others.  This time they are working individually.  In the future, they will work in pairs and groups.  But they will always work on problems that are relevant to them.

Throughout these discussions, I've talked to them about thinking critically, thinking deeply.  We've talked about making decisions that matter.  We've talked about moving beyond Google's first page. And looking for the 2nd right answer.  I told them it's not going to be as easy as they think it will be.

We are going to blog about our journey.  Thursday and Friday they did some blog exploration.  We've started writing our reflections on our journey so far.  We'll begin editing them Wednesday.  The student's posts will begin Thursday!