No Paper Left Behind: A New Age of Science Instruction with Brad Fountain at DEN SCIcon 2010

For a schedule of today’s events and target audiences, click here.

Brad Fountain begins with a short discussion of the brain. Bottom line: students’ brains today are configured differently because of the digital way in which they grew up. Technology is like oxygen to them. They are accustomed to “digital textbooks.” Old school: pencils and textbooks; new school: the image to the left. What schools need to rethink is what kind of access to information they want to provide to their learning community. Shouldn’t we begin to think like Oregon and give our students access to Discovery’s platform of digital content? The answer, if you are connected, is axiomatic. Rethinking the textbook issue is a matter of education–we really need to educate politicians, school boards, and administration on the challenge and the solution to The Shift. From the webinar chat, you might want to check out Digital Wish.

Discovery Science has almost unlimited resources for elementary and middle school populations, and the one thing each affordance has in common is the interactivity of the learning process. I really like the approach to learning scientific vocabulary that Discovery Science provides. Brad reminds us that even if your school district does not subscribe to DiscoveryStreaming or Discovery Science, the resources and tools that the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge are available free, and educators might want to use them.

Virtual Lab is another great tool, but it does not replace hands on labs. DS provides both a virtual and a hand-on lab environment that enhances the learning of our students. Brad mentioned that digital storying is a great way to showcase learning. iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, and PhotoStory are great tools to use, as well as VoiceThread, which brings the outside community inside. You can send a VT link to parents and even engage them in the learning conversation. Animoto is a simpler way to create movies from stills and any age (well, almost) can create an Animoto project.

For sharing information two of Brad’s favorite resources is Skype and GoAnimate. Skype connects students and conversations globally; GoAnimate allow them to insert their virtual self into the project with texts, images, voiceovers. When you want your students to write, try using Google Docs. Do a Google Docs Science search (on Blackle, of course) and you will find places to connect your students and their work with already-established resources. If you want another great resource, Google Earth provides rich layers of content, and allows embedding of all the Discovery resources.

Additional tools Brad likes for the science classroom are wikis, Glogster, and Ning, again because of the interactivity and connectiveness of the tools. If you want to learn how to create Glosters, you want to check Traci Blazosky’s wiki which houses a wealth of many resources. Traci is 2009 PAECET Teacher of the Year, so you want to check her resources. She’s amazing.

Today’s presentations will soon be available here.

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