The first Smartboard lesson I examined is called “Comma” Sense––Why Punctuation Matters and consists of 8 slides giving a brief overview of how the meaning of a sentence is changed if nothing but the punctuation changes. The lesson is clearly described, the goals are well laid-out and the technical aspects are clearly described.
I have had this lesson taught in a recent grammar class and I liked this lesson because it does a good job of highlighting how important punctuation is. Students may be tempted to rely on their word processing programs to correct punctuation, but these kinds of errors will not be caught because they are not incorrect. Slides six and seven are particularly revelatory as the author takes a paragraph and shows how the whole thing can mean two completely different things depending on how it is punctuated. The lesson is fairly narrow and it acts differently than a typical grammar lesson. This lesson, is more about highlighting the importance of punctuation rather than really teaching punctuation. I think this is an important and often overlooked part of teaching. So, the goals of the lesson are lofty, but there seem to be a few problems with the execution.
The technology seems a little primitive, but it works as it says it will except for the fifth slide, which appears to not work. Technically, although there is nothing flashy and the design lacks any flair, the lesson gets its point across.
For the second Smartboard lesson titled Adverbs Review, I tried a different approach. I was unimpressed with my first lesson, so I tried downloading the grammar lesson with the most downloads. This turned out to be a good idea. The second lesson was noticeably better even from a quick perusal of the first page.
The first two slides contain technical information about the lesson such as how many slides (17) are contained in the lesson. They also contain tabs for lesson goals and teacher’s notes, which the first lesson didn’t.
The lesson is basically an introduction to adverbs for 5-6 graders and explains what they are and how they are used in sentences. The lesson alternates between providing instruction on what adverbs are and how to use them with problems for the student to test his or her knowledge against. The lesson has nice use of images and graphics.
The lesson doesn’t go in depth, but could be an adequate introduction to the subject matter for 5th and 6th graders. The lesson also doesn’t mention that adverbs sometimes end in ly, which is a nice clue for students to be aware of. The lesson does cover the basic idea that adverbs modify verbs and tell how, when or where. The examples are a little redundant, but for such a basic lesson for that age group, that might be a strength of the lesson.
Once again, I had some technical difficulties with the lesson. First, the lesson crashed twice while I was scrolling through it. The other technical problem I had is that for the quiz questions, I am not able to get any feedback whether the answer I selected is right or not. It is possible that I have a setting not selected properly, but my cursory effort to fix the problem turned up nothing.
The first ISTE article I read was “Creating Valuable Class Websites.” The article is written for “technophobes” who don’t have the confidence or know-how to engage their students in using the internet to make a class website. She breaks it down to 3 available methods.
For neophytes with little experience with computers, the author identifies method one, which is the variety of free websites that can host a classroom website. She then highlights how the class can get more design options without advertisements by paying a small yearly fee.
The author then looks at method two which is the variety of blogs, groups, and wikis available for a student website. She talks about the benefits and difficulties of choosing this method. This, she says, is the template approach where multiple students can post material.
Finally, the author talks about method three which is for the teacher and class to be their own web developer. She highlights the types of software that can be purchased and the advantages of the richer content and increased flexibility of this method.
For the second article from the ISTE website, my curiosity was piqued by an article titled, “What’s Not on the Web.” Upon finishing the article I noticed that it was written 2001, so the information is a little suspect at best.
The article is written by a librarian trying to elucidate the variety of ways that students can still use the resources in libraries other than the “free” web. She tell stories of students who were stuck in their research papers and who used the school library to dig up information from decades-old periodicals. The author also makes a distinction between the free web and sites that charge for using their services. She is careful to note that by using pay services the advantages of using the library are greatly reduced; but, nonetheless, she makes some convincing points for using the library for research . After all, there are few books available in-full on the web for free and libraries still have a wealth of books and periodicals that may be referenced for free.
Three reference articles: