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Building Treehouses for Learning:
Technology in Today's Classroom
By Annette Lamb

When you were growing up, did you ever build a treehouse? You may have built your treehouse in an old oak tree using odd-shaped pieces of wood, leftover housepaint, and old blankets and pieces of carpet. Adding a portable radio, some Twinkies, and a big "KEEP OUT" sign made your world complete. If you didn't have a tree close by or preferred your fun without mosquitos, a blanket over a cardtable in the living room worked just as well. Think about the learning that takes place in this kind of environment: from the mathematics of calculating the length of boards to the physics of keeping the treehouse from tipping over. Consider the social interactions with friends and the art of interior decorating. Building a treehouse is the ultimate active, authentic, interdisciplinary activity. Children are doing what they want to do, using materials around them, and dealing with real-world problems without "social studies" or "language arts" tags.

Think about how often parents buy their children "prefab" playhouses that are built and painted by adults, then placed carefully in the corner of the yard. Parents end up having all the "fun". Educators invest a lot of effort building treehouses for children too. An alternative would be to provide a wealth of materials that students can use for exploration and construction. A multimedia learning environment focusing on particular concepts, topics, or themes can focus student learning without distracting from exploration.

Are you building treehouses for your students? Or, are you giving students the chance to create their own treehouses for learning? This book will discuss how you can create learning environments that provide students with the tools they need to create their own treehouses for learning. We'll explore tools you might use in planning, producing, and presenting information in your classroom. Technology tools range from chalkboards and overhead projectors to computers, laserdiscs, and Internet. You'll develop materials yourself as well as integrate materials that have been produced by others.

Lesson Building

  • Where's the focus?
  • Standards, Concepts, Content, Motivation, and/or Technology
  • Brain Pop
  • Organization: Course, Unit, Lesson, Activity
  • Motivation: Themes, Interest
  • Physics Class
Lesson Plan Format
  • Topic/Title/Theme
  • Learners: age, entry skills
  • Expected Outcomes/ Purpose
  • Lesson Resources
  • Learning Environment
  • Teaching/Learning Strategies
  • Connections to Outcomes
  • Extensions Treehouse, 13
  • California SCORE Lessons
Needs Assessment
  • How did students do last time?
  • How would I like them to do?
  • What's the problem?
  • How can technology help?
Know Your Students!
  • Typical Problems
  • They didn't "get it"
  • They fell asleep
  • They didn't get enough practice
  • They can't apply it
Before You Start...
  • Know Your Students
  • Identify Objectives
  • Establish the Environment
Individual Differences
  • Age and Grade Level
  • General Characteristics: rural?
  • Cultural Background
  • Multiple Intelligences
  • Learning Styles
  • Interests
  • Talents
  • Reading Level
Entry Skills
  • Content
    • reading & writing
    • basic skills
    • background KSAV
  • Technology
    • hardware: keyboarding
    • software: basic skills
    • information processing
  • Ph Factor
The "Real World"
  • Writing directions on the board
  • Typing on the computer
  • Locating careers on a CD-ROM
Topic/Theme - Poke Into Good Stories
  • A magnet is...
    • Magnets are attracted to steel ...
    • Magnets are not attracted plastic ...
Learning Objectives
Action Words
  • Analyze
  • Debate
  • Distinguish
  • Modify
  • Revise
  • Treehouse Page 26
  • Polling
  • + Calculate the area of simple geometric shapes.
  • + Identify the continents on a globe.
    • - Assign a research paper to students.
    • - Appreciate great scientists.
    • - Teach about decimals.
ABCD Objectives
  • Audience - Who The student will ...
  • Behavior - Will what? identify, compare
  • Condition - With what? given a calculator
  • Degree - How well? 3 out of 4 times
  • Given five fossils and lists of names, the student will correctly match the fossil with its name.
  • Given sample quilt blocks, students will identify Colonial period quilt patterns by name.
Lesson Resources
  • Teacher Technologies/Resources
    • web ideas, clipart/wdprocessor
  • Student Technologies/Resources
    • web bookmarks, HyperStudio
  • Materials & Supplies
    • markers, paper, pine cones
Selecting Resources
  • Don't just do technology, integrate technology
    • Website
    • CD-ROM Encyclopedia
    • Microsoft Word
    • HyperStudio
Before You Select
  • Who will use the technology?
    • readability, interest
  • How will it be used?
    • read, skimmed, summarized,
    • evaluated, reviewed, applied, synthesized
Use search tools...
Search Tips
Teacher Resources
Learning Strategies
  • Springboard
  • Information Exploration
  • Active Involvement
  • Closure/Transition
Connect to Prior Knowledge
  • Categorize foods into health and unhealthly snack categories
Connect to Prior Knowledge
  • Does anyone have a fish tank?
  • What creatures live in fish tanks?
  • Has anyone visited an aquarium?
  • What sea creatures did you see?
  • Has you been to an ocean?
  • Has anyone ever collected shells?
Information Exploration
  • Present Information
  • Explore Information
  • Information Vs Instruction
    • Provide guidelines
    • Direct attention in software
    • Relate content to objectives
    • Apply to new situations
    • Draw conclusions
Do it three times...
Active Involvement
  • Require students to think and do
  • Problems presented
  • Virtual field trip, simulation
  • Students synthesize, calculate, communicate
  • Demonstrate procedure or experiment
Do It!
  • Project Development
  • Sharing/Reflection
  • Leave a positive impression
  • Bring information together
  • Apply it to new situations
  • Review new skills/relate to new situations
  • Vietnam Webquest
  • Create
    • a brochure
    • a presentation
    • a debate
    • an action plan
  • Living Things
Collaboration & Communication
Multiple Intelligences
  • verbal-linguistic
  • logical-mathematical
  • visual-spatial
  • musical-rhythmic
  • bodily-kinesthetic
  • interpersonal-social
  • intrapersonal
  • Air Travelers
Build Treehouses
  • What do students need to be able to do or talk about?
  • What resources can help teaching & learning?
  • What guidance do students need?
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Feel free to use these materials for workshops or your own professional development. However, keep in mind that these materials were created for use by participants in Annette Lamb's workshops, not as stand-alone materials. For additional information about the "live" workshops, contact Annette Lamb.

This workshop is a companion to the book, Building Treehouses for Learning.
This workshop contains elements from the following presentation: Technology Tools in Teaching and Learning.

Developed by Annette Lamb, 6/00.