Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Case Study #3-How Technologies Could be Used for Specific Educational Purposes

AASL Standards and Indicators Addressed:
3.3 Educational Leader
Candidates develop a library media program that reflects the best practices of education and librarianship. They have a thorough understanding of current trends and issues in education.

4.3 Comprehensive and Collaborative Strategic Planning and Assessment
Candidates collaborate with teachers and administrators to develop a library media program plan that aligns resources, services, and information literacy standards with the school’s goals and objectives.


In Howard County, it is part of the Secondary English Curriculum that students complete a Research Unit. The standard for such is as follows:

Maryland State Curriculum Indicator 3.3: The student will locate, retrieve, and use information from various sources to accomplish a purpose. (Howard County Core Learning Goal 2.3).

Students complete a Research Unit during all four years of High School in their English classrooms. Aside from the English Curriculum, students also partake in History Day through their Social Studies classes. History Day requires students to self-select a topic dealing with the National History Day theme. They then carry out research, synthesize information, and create a final product which can be in a variety of formats: exhibit, performance, multimedia documentary, research paper, and website (

As other subject areas also require their students to partake in the Research process, I feel that helping students to feel comfortable with the process is very important.

All of the following information would be presented to members of Administration as well as to department Instructional Team Leaders. I would display the information using Power Point, as well as pull up the actual technologies being discussed so the audience can further see how the tools can be implemented.


Students will understand the steps of the Research Process
Students will utilize technology in order to familiarize themselves with the Research Process
Students will use Web 2.0 tools in order to carry out research on their topics

The following documents were created for use in the English 9 On level classroom. In English 9, the students have never before participated in the Research Process, nor have they written an MLA style Research Paper. Therefore, the following tools would be used as a means to introduce students to the Research Process and help them to feel comfortable to successfully carry out each step.

Before utilizing the following tools, the teacher will introduce the Research task to the class.

In English 9, students will compose an MLA style Research Paper on an aspect of the Holocaust.


The teacher can set up a Pageflake for his/her class to function as a “homepage” for the Research Project. Using Pageflakes, they can turn the flake into a Pagecast—making it available for anyone to see. The teacher can then share the link to the Pagecast with students and parents. On this Pagecast parents and students could find: a detailed calendar with daily agendas and due dates, a checklist of tasks for students to complete, sticky notes for specific reminders, links to helpful resources regarding the different steps of the Research Process, the teacher’s email address, etc.

Overall, Pageflakes would serve as a great way for students and parents to keep organized. Organization is key when doing any Research Project, and this tool will help students to grow even stronger in this area.



Here is a sample Pagecast for the English 9 Research Project:
Pagecast.png by lmt409 on AviaryPagecast.png by lmt409 on Aviary

Google Docs-
The teacher will set up student accounts for Google Docs. Here, students can take surveys about the Research Process. For example, after teaching how to create a Thesis Statement, students can take a survey in which they will be shown several thesis statements and they must decide if they are appropriately formatted. Students can also fill out a form that will help them to remain organized as they progress through the process. It can be viewed as a checklist where they can record their specific topic, thesis statement, types of sources used, specific source information, etc. The teacher can edit the students’ work at any time and students can see the comments instantantly. This form can be accessed and edited by both teacher and student as the Research Process continues, allowing open communication and feedback throughout.

Aside from forms, students can post their written work on Google Docs. For example, students can post their Introduction paragraphs and the instructor can then view the paragraphs and make suggestions for editing. These changes will be saved for the student to see, and they can implement the changes immediately. Here, Google Docs allows the Revision part of writing to become a collaborative experience.

Here is a sample Student Form for English 9 Research:
English 9 Form.png by lmt409 on AviaryEnglish 9 Form.png by lmt409 on Aviary

Jing is a program that allows a screen to be captured or recorded. This is an excellent resource for teachers to use to show students how to go about carrying out various steps of the Research Process. Teachers can use Jing to show students how to properly format their papers, use Boolean terms to narrow search results, as well as how to create source citations for a Works Cited page. Teachers would simply record their screen doing any of the these things, thus creating tutorials for their students to view.

In Howard County, teachers could post these tutorials on their Campus Drive, where students can “pick up” files, links, or videos from the teacher. Students can view the tutorials and then practice these skills on their own.

Here is a link to a sample Jing tutorial in which the teacher shows students how to use to create a source citation for a Works Cited Page:
Works Cited Tutorial

Diigo is a useful tool because you can research, collaborate, and share all on one platform. With Diigo Educator, teachers can register student emails, set them up into groups so they can collaborate, as well as set privacy settings so only your students are reviewing certain resources/participating in the collaboration. Teachers can bookmark articles and websites, which will be permanently saved on Diigo, allowing access at any time. You can organize bookmarks by sorting them into lists, as well as use labels and tags. Diigo makes the Research Process  very manageable.

In English 9, the teacher would create Diigo accounts for his/her students as well as bookmark and organize articles specific to the different Holocaust topics. Students would then log on and have access to these libraries. Here they can read the articles, highlight parts of interest, as well as create sticky notes. All of their work will be saved for them to access at a later date.

Diigo is a wonderful way to control the resources students have access to, ensuring that the information they are reading is credible and relevant to their topics.

Here is a sample of a Diigo library for the English 9 Holocaust Research Project:
DiigoLists.png by lmt409 on AviaryDiigoLists.png by lmt409 on Aviary

The aforementioned tools are all valuable resources that can help ease our students into understanding the Research Process. The Research Process is something that they will need to understand for the rest of their academic careers, so it is crucial that we introduce it in a way that will engage them as well as motivate them to succeed. By using these technologies, the students can have a more interactive role as they explore the overall Research Process. This will result in increased confidence in their abilities, which can only lead to strong final products.

The level of difficulty for the previously mentioned tools can be changed for student achievement level as well as grade level. Upper grades can use these tools in a more complex way. For example, in Diigo students might have to find their own articles, bookmark the sources in their personal libraries, and then share these with their classmates. This would encourage collaboration and further discussion about the given content. In upper grades students can also use Google Docs to participate in full peer revisions of written assignments. Google Docs could also be used to collaborate for group assignments across all grade levels and subject areas. As long as we continue to have our students utilize these technologies, their skills will only expand, allowing them to carry out complex tasks that truly demonstrate mastery of the content material.


Final Media Presentation: Using Second Life

Please view my Second Life presentation:

Second Life is a new technology to myself as well as perhaps to many others. After experimenting with Second Life and viewing several articles and videos, I come away with the conclusion that this tool is very interesting and has great possibility. With this however, I certainly see some issues regarding how educators view it as well as how it can be used in the classroom.

First of all, I have to commend Second Life for creating Teen Second Life, a place solely for those 13-17 years old. On TSL, an educator can create an island for his/her class that is closed off to the rest of TSL users. This would be ideal if you wanted students to participate in group projects, such as having teens purchase specific items while staying within certain budget limitations. A business class could use Second Life for group projects to demonstrate what goes into running a business—generating funds, creating a business, developing it, as well as other aspects of business management, such as budgeting, profit margins, etc. It would also be ideal for Tech Ed, Architecture, or even Physics class, because students can work together to build objects. Overall I appreciate how Second Life recognized that privacy issues and exposure to mature content can be problematic on the Internet. TSL appears to be a safe environment where your students can still experience all that Virtual Worlds have to offer.

I read in countless articles that Second Life is not to be considered a game, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a game while using it. The fact that you create an avatar as well as your own experiences, generates a feeling of curiosity and fun—feelings most people have when playing a game. For this reason I think that today’s students would love Second Life. Our current students have grown up immersed in technology. A theme that surfaces throughout our discussions is that the students seem to know the technology better than the educators. Most of them interact with game technology on a daily basis—several video games now even offer customizable avatars, as well as the option to choose how the game progresses. When I think of my own freshmen students, they would jump at the chance to use Second Life in the classroom. Most of them would adapt easily to the Virtual World environment, and would probably be more engaged if they were actively participating in the content. I might even come off as cool for letting them do so, which is always a perk.

The article “7 Things You Should Know about Second Life” really helped me to see the educational potential of the program. The article states, “Educators are pursuing hundreds of experiments to elucidate the elements of a meaningful educational experience in fields ranging from journalism to the sciences to history.” This speaks to the rapid acceleration of Second Life being used as an educational tool in order to truly engage and motivate our students. Aside from the activities I mentioned earlier, Second Life could be used simply as a platform for groups to meet. If students have a project, they can meet in Second Life to discuss how they will go about the project, assign roles, and brainstorm ideas. This could help to build relationships with the students in the class. Educators could also use Second Life as a means to hold Office Hours during designated times after the school day. I think this is a great opportunity for students to receive assistance or clarification on assignments. Furthermore, teachers can use Second Life for presentations because you have the option to use Power Point in the program. This would be a nice change of pace from the regular classroom setting—probably welcomed by the students.

There were certainly some features of Second Life that I found especially interesting. I loved the fact that you can take field trips with your students to virtually anywhere. In social studies you can journey to Ancient Rome and experience the climate firsthand. I particularly liked Renaissance Island—what a great way to emerge students into Shakespeare’s lifetime. Art students can create original pieces and display them in the Second Louvre museum, while an Auto body class can visit a classic car museum. These locations, as well as the many others, provide our students with the opportunity to have experiences that they may not otherwise have in real life.

With this technology comes some reservations. First, teachers must feel confident to use Second Life in the classroom. This can only happen if teachers are given the opportunity to try the software in order to see its value. Teachers can do so in professional development meetings, and when they feel comfortable, the professional development meetings can be held in Second Life. This way they can further learn the educational benefits of the program. Second, Second Life is blocked in several schools, making it very difficult for these learning experiences to occur. Third, some parents may object to their children using these Virtual Worlds. I feel that the teacher could give parents a presentation on how it would be used in the classroom as well as send a letter home describing its educational merits. After experiencing all of this new technology, I come away with one thought: we must be willing to accept that change is happening in the way we run our classrooms. In order to serve our students to the best of our abilities as well as truly be life long learners, we have to try out these technologies and most of all be willing to keep an open mind. In the end, we just might be surprised with what we find.