Inspiration is not hard to come by for me, as all I have to do is look out at my students. The children I teach are from the lowest Socio-Economic backgrounds in the entire city of Austin, TX, yet the most hungry and eager students when it comes to learning. Sitting in my classroom early last Spring I thought to myself, as I looked about my classroom just how centralized their viewpoints are. They don’t get the advantages of other children, and rarely do they venture out of their neighborhoods. It was clearly time to implement a program that would bring the outside world into the classroom. What would they need to know, how could I match it the curriculum required by the state, what would most interest them? Whatever I was going to do had to involve technology, as the cost would far surpass my means otherwise.
The answer came to me via 21st Century technology. I received an email from IT telling me about a very unique technology training called Intel Teach. The Intel Teach program has afforded me the opportunity to transform my own learning and share my knowledge and skills with students and teachers in my building, district, and all whom access the projects I developed online.
Musical Plates is an Internet-based multidisciplinary project, which enriched my student's learning experience through "Unique and Compelling" applications of instructional technology. In particular, this project taps into some of the exciting applications of the Internet in education by having students access real time earthquake data, interact with experts online, and publish their own work to a project web site.
Musical Plates has four Core Activities that taught students how to access and interpret Real-Time earthquake and volcano data and to how use the information to solve a real world problem. Each of the core activities was designed to be used in a 45-minute class period, although this may depend on the grade level of your students. Additionally, students need a small amount of class time (approximately 5 minutes) every day for a couple of weeks to record current earthquakes.
My main goals for this project were to enrich a student's learning experience through "Unique and Compelling" applications of instructional technology. In particular, this project taps into some of the exciting applications of the Internet in education by having students access real time earthquake data, interact with experts online, and publish their own work to a project web site.
Through collaboration and experimentation, students discovered and understood the correlation between the tectonic plates and the earthquakes that occur in various locations on the Earth. The students were able to record data accurately, average data, plot data on a graph, analyze data, plot the various locations on a world map and arrive at logical conclusions. They were able to explain what causes earthquakes, where they are most likely to occur, and the frequency of which they might occur in the future. The students become proficient working in a collaborative environment.
When the unfortunate Haiti earthquake occurred my students were once again rejuvenated. They immediately wanted to run to their computer stations and research everything to add more data to their previously taught lessons. I had to do nothing at this point except monitor. The students had it all under control! It was so inspiring to me to see their love of learning and their empathy for the victims as well. Again my students were my inspiration, and education and the love of learning was their inspiration!
The journey through the Intel Teach Program has been the most rewarding experience for both myself and my students! Education in my classroom will never be the same, and I’m looking forward to more applications this year, such as I describe below. The use of my Intel Teach training has enabled me to open closed doors for my students. They will be well equipped to conquer the 21st Century!