Building Treehouse for Learning
 
Key Words: instructional development, lesson planning, thematic learning, multimedia, HyperStudio, scanning, digital cameras, CD-ROM, DVD, video, Internet, audio, animation, web development, video production, educational television, blogs, chat
 
Overview
Table of Contents
Introduction
Sample Selection
Sample Activity
 
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Building Treehouses for Learning: Technology in Today's Classrooms - Shipping NOW
Annette Lamb (1996, 1999, 2002, 4th Edition 2006)
ISBN 1-891917-08-0
570 Pages
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Overview
 
This book focuses on the design, development, and integration of traditional and emerging technologies into today's classrooms including CD-ROM, video, DVD, desktop publishing and presentations, Internet, web project development, and multimedia. Explores lesson planning and classroom management considerations.
 
"Just as we want students to be engaged learners, teachers need to be explorers, problem solvers, risk takers and reflectors as they build exciting learning environments for children and young adults."

This book is currently being used throughout the US and Canada in workshops and courses for teachers.

 
Table of Contents
 
Developing Learning Environments
Introduction: Building Treehouses for Learning
Chapter 1: Planning Effective Lessons
Chapter 2: Selecting Hardware and Software
 
Selecting and Integrating Resources
Chapter 3: Communicating with Internet
Chapter 4: Teaching and Learning with Internet
Chapter 5: Educational Software
Chapter 6: Video in the Classroom
 
Designing and Developing Resources
Chapter 7: Print Materials
Chapter 8: Display Materials
Chapter 9: Projected Materials
Chapter 10: Video Materials
Chapter 11: Multimedia Materials
Chapter 12: Web Materials
 
Managing and Evaluating Learning Environments
Chapter 13: Putting it all Together  
Glossary
References
Index
 
Introduction
 

Technology has become an integral part of life for educators and their students. Regardless of whether the task is writing a short story, exploring information resources, examining cultural diversity, tracking a chemistry experiment, testing a mathematical concept, developing new instructional materials, or tracking grades, technology plays an increasingly important role in the teaching/learning process.

The purpose of education is to promote learning. The integration of technology into the teaching/learning environment is essential in preparing students for life in the 21st Century. Educators and students together can activate their learning environment through the effective use of technology.
Technology is much more than computers in the classroom. According to AECT (Association of Educational Communications and Technology, 2006), educational technology is "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technoloogical processes and resources."
Technology involves all kinds of hardware including computers, DVDs, scanners, digital video cameras, and even overhead projectors. Technology includes a variety of software from word processing and databases to multimedia and virtual reality. Most important, educational technology deals with issues of selection, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of all kinds of teaching/learning environments.

According to the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards), to be successful in today's information-rich society, students must be able to use technology effectively. Technology enables students to become (ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education, 2004):

• Capable information technology users
• Information seekers, analyzers, and evaluators
• Problem solvers and decision makers
• Creative and effective users of productivity tools
• Communicators, collaborators, publishers, and producers
• Informed, responsible, and contributing citizens

Through chapter readings and activities, this book will address the following ISTE NETS for Teachers.

• Teachers demonstrate a sound understanding of technology operations and concepts.
• Teachers plan and design effective learning environments and experiences supported by technology.
• Teachers implement curriculum plans, that include methods and strategies for applying technology to maximize student learning.
• Teachers apply technology to facilitate a variety of effective assessment and evaluation strategies.
• Teachers use technology to enhance their productivity and professional practice.
• Teachers understand the social, ethical, legal, and human issues surrounding the use of technology in PK-12 schools and apply those principles in practice.

It is hoped that these professional skills will help you address the student information, technology, and content area standards in your teaching area.

Building Treehouses for Learning
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 "science" 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. An inquiry-based, technology-rich 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, digital cameras, and Internet. You'll develop materials yourself as well as integrate materials that have been produced by others.

Why Another Book?
There are many excellent books in the area of Educational Technology. Many of these are listed in the references at the end of the book. Why do we need another book when so many are already available? The need became clear when I switched from teaching in a department that prepared educational technologists to a undergraduate teacher preparation program.
My goal was to develop a sophomore level course that would help preservice teachers activate the learning environment through the use of technology. I wanted to focus on both teacher and K-12 student use of technology while encouraging the development of hands-on projects and practical lesson plans. Rather than teaching the specifics of learning theories or equipment operation, I've focused on those skills I feel are most important for beginning teachers entering the profession in the new century.

Although designed with preservice teachers in mind, inservice teachers and graduate students will also find this book to be a valuable resource. Because schools often have a wide range of hardware and software, this book is not platform specific. In other words, you'll see references to computers running Windows and Macintosh as well as other operating systems.

Overview of Book
You'll find four major sections in this book. The first section addresses instructional design and development. Chapter one focuses on developing effective teaching/learning environments. It also provides guidance in instructional development and specifically lesson planning. Chapter two explores the hardware and software you'll need to create and implement your lesson plans and projects.

The second section of the book will help you integrate all kinds of technologies into the classroom. Chapter three explores communication on the Internet and chapter four examines teaching and learning with Internet. Chapter five focuses on educational software. You'll learn to use video in the classroom including educational television, DVDs, and streaming video in chapter six. We'll also explore teaching and learning at a distance using two-way video/audio systems.

The third section focuses on designing and developing effective informational and instructional materials. Chapter seven focuses on the design of print materials. Creating wall, table, and stand-alone displays is the emphasis of chapter eight. You'll learn to create projected materials in chapter nine. Chapter ten will help you produce your own videos. Multimedia development is the focus of chapter eleven and you'll learn about web page development in chapter twelve.

The last section examines issues and ideas for dealing with management and evaluation of learning environments. Chapter thirteen addresses important technology integration techniques as well as suggestions for managing technology in the classroom. A glossary, reference list, appendix, and index can be found at the end of the text.

In this book you'll learn the "nuts and bolts" of integrating technology into your classroom. We'll use the "building" theme throughout the book.

Along the margins of the book you'll find "Treehouse Tips" to remind you about key concepts. You might even want to add your own tips as reminders to yourself!

"Internet Connections" will provide Internet resources that will be helpful in expanding your exploration and learning. Remember that the Internet is constantly changing. If the address no longer works, try using a search engine and search by the topic or title provided.

"Try Its" get you involved with creating activities and materials. You can't just read about technology, you've got to do it!

Have fun building treehouses for learning! For online resources related to this book, go to
http://eduscapes.com/treehouses

Annette Lamb, November 2005

 
Sample Selection
 
From Building Treehouses for Learning - Chapter 1: Pages 56-62
 
Learning Environments & Multiple Intelligences

We all have strengths and weaknesses. A key to developing an effective teaching/learning environment is building on these strengths and overcoming weaknesses. To do this we must analyze how our students learn best and develop effective instructional strategies to meet these needs. Unfortunately this can be difficult because each child is unique. What works for one student may be ineffective for another learner. A teaching strategy that works for the educator next door, may not work for you. To understand why these differences occur, we need to explore our intelligences and learning styles.

Gardner defines intelligence as the ability to solve everyday problems, generate new problems, and offer a service or resource to society. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence emphasizes that individuals don't just have one fixed intelligence. Instead, at least seven distinct intelligences may emerge over a lifetime including verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, musical-rhythmic, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal-social, and intrapersonal-introspective.

Verbal-linguistic (words). Good readers and writers or students who are keenly aware of the nuances, order, and rhythm of words are showing their verbal-linguistic intelligence. They can "think" in words and use language to express their ideas.

Logical-mathematical (numbers/problem solving). The ability to solve complex mathematical problems, manipulate abstract patterns and relationships, and reason inductively and deductively are skills associated with logical-mathematical intelligence.

Visual-spatial (pictures/images). Students who are able to create visual-spatial representations of the world and "think in pictures" are said to have visual-spatial intelligence. These students "think" in three-dimensions and can easily recreate, transform, and modify images to meet their needs.

Musical-rhythmic (tone/rhythm/timbre). A sensitivity to music including the pitch and the rhythm of sounds is a sign of musical-rhythmic intelligence. These people pick up melodies and always seem to "think" in music and sounds.

Bodily-kinesthetic (movement). Using the body to express ideas or emotions, develop materials, and solve problems is the focus of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

Interpersonal-social (social understanding). The ability to work well with others, empathize with the goals, motivation, and purposes of others is a sign of interpersonal-social intelligence.

Intrapersonal-introspective (self-knowledge/metacognition). Students who are deeply aware of their own feelings, abilities, goals, and purposes are demonstrating their intrapersonal-introspective intelligence.

Everyone has a combination of these intelligences and is capable of growth in all the areas. As a teacher, it's important to be aware of your own intelligences as well as those of your students. Use the multiple intelligences to add variety to your classroom, motivate students, and develop new areas of skill.

Help students use their strengths to develop their weak areas. Let's say a student is asked to write a paper about the characters in a novel. You might encourage a student who does well with visual-spatial tasks to begin by drawing a diagram showing the relationships between characters. They can use this as a guide in their writing.

Start by becoming aware of your own intelligences. If you're a person who learns best through the logical-mathematical intelligence, you may develop more activities for this area. However, remember that your students may be strong in other areas. As you develop curriculum, focus on meeting the needs of a wide range of student learning styles by applying the intelligences. For example, you may like to plan projects using a traditional outline format. However you may find that some students are better able to express their ideas through a visual map, series of note cards, picture web of ideas, or a verbal brainstorming session.

Technology and Multiple Intelligences

Technology can play a central role in meeting the diverse needs of your learners. The varied channels of communication represented in educational technology can be matched to particular intelligences. Consider technologies that might help a student strengthen an area of intelligence. For example, let's say students are practicing science vocabulary. Some students might learn most effectively by hearing the words pronounced aloud. A computer or tape recorder could help a student listen to a recording created by a teacher or record and playback their own voice. Another student might like to see a picture of the science object and click on the visual to hear the word. A multimedia software package would work well for that student.

Technology can be a motivating way for students to cross intelligence areas. For example, let's examine a student who hates reading, but does well in musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, or bodily-kinesthetic. Interactive reading software that extends reading to include music, pictures, and movement may foster learning. In the same way, a student who does well in verbal-linguistic may have a hard time making friends and interacting with others. Use written communication through email technology to help this student increase his or her interpersonal-social intelligence. Since the learner is comfortable with writing but uncomfortable with "live interaction", the email communication can be one step toward developing live interpersonal relationships. The next step may be written, live chats. Then, add video and audio elements. Live interactions may come more easily once the student becomes comfortable communicating their ideas to others.

Technology can support all of the intelligence areas. The logical-mathematical area can be developed through the use of software such as Millie's Mathhouse and Math Workshop. Educational software tools such as The Crunchers and The Geometric Sketchpad can help students develop spreadsheets and models, organize information, try out ideas, and solve math problems. Simulation software like Science Sleuths help students investigate problems and test hypotheses. Simulations can also be found on the Internet. For example, the Virtual Fly Lab is an Internet site that helps students examine genetics in flies. Internet can also be used as a way to collaborate on scientific experiments (see Figure 1-9). For example, students living at three different elevations could compare the results of chemistry experiments through email. What's the effect of altitude on baking? Why?

Displays that contain manipulatives can help promote skills in classification and other important math and science skills. Technology can be used to record and analyze data during these hands-on activities.

Technology in the verbal-linguistic area includes resources that support the reading and writing area. For example, writing center could include computer and writing software, paper and pencils, and project starters. Software such as ClarisWorks for Kids, The Writing Center and Amazing Writing Machine provide easy-to-use writing and editing tools for children. Word processing allows students to easily follow the writing process (see Figure 1-10). They don't have to worry about "erasing" and "rewriting" because these steps are no longer a chore. In addition, the final printed copy is professional looking, polished, and something students are proud to display.

Learners love to explore information presented in books and CDs, so develop a research area in your classroom where students can explore answers to their questions. Many teachers develop a language area with tape recorders, earphones, and books on tape.

Technology can also assist students who have trouble expressing themselves because of a range of disabilities. Specialized hardware and software can assist visually, hearing, or physically impaired students communicate more effectively.

Technology can also be used by teachers to develop and revise print materials such as step-by-step instructions, sample writing projects, and printed activities.

The visual-spatial intelligence can incorporate many technology resources. Start with simple tools such as paper, markers, and crayons to help students visualize ideas in the form of concept maps, mindmaps, webs, and clusters.

Videotapes, laserdiscs, films, slides, transparencies and other visual media are often associated with this area. Students can view materials created by others, or develop their own visual productions using video cameras, color scanners, digital cameras, and other technology. While some students prefer to create their projects with traditional tools such as pencils, markers, and paints, others use computer-based graphics tools such as KidPix for visual expression. Software such as KidCAD help children design projects in 3D. Clip Art CDs provide lots of visuals to illustrate student projects. Many students put all these elements together and develop multimedia projects in HyperStudio and Digital Chisel. Some students get involved with more high-end tools such as Adobe PhotoShop for editing visuals and Adobe Premiere for video editing (see Figure 1-11).

Although many people view technology as passive, it can actually play an important role in the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence area. Technology tools such as the computer mouse, keyboard, light pen, scientific probe, video camera, and hand scanner encourage students to use their fine motor skills to develop hands-on projects. The eye-hand coordination and active participation involved in using the technology can be reinforcing for a student who might not normally choose the content related to the hands-on activity. In addition, many students enjoy watching themselves on videotape whether they're dancing, playing a sport, or acting in a skit. Video is also a great way to document student performance. While other intelligences are expressed on paper or through music, videotape is the most effective way to capture a student's movements.

Displays and learning centers can be designed to provide space for movement and objects to touch and explore. Design activities that involve students in drama, dance, or creative movement. Even short skits and debates can get students moving and expressing themselves in physical ways.

Field trips are a great concrete learning experience. Use technology such as video cameras, digital cameras, and portable computers to record and reflect on these experiences. Field trips don't have to involve physical movement to be effective. Virtual field trips can give students the feeling of exploring the Arctic or looking inside a volcano without having to leave the classroom. Virtual field trips use the Internet to bring scientists, experiments, and exploration into the classroom. By asking questions, running robots by remote control, and following a travel schedule, students feel involved with the project. Virtual reality will soon be able to add an even more kinesthetic aspect to virtual field trips.

The musical-rhythmic intelligence focuses on sound. A music area that includes tape recorders, CD-audio players, and sound-making objects and instruments can help students explore sound. Educational software such as A Little Kidmusic, Practica Musica 3, and Songworks provide resources for exploring and creating music.

Students can develop great multimedia projects that incorporate original tones, rhythms, and timbre. They can also use digital sound effects CDs and other sound resources to add background sounds to stories, plays, and other productions.

Use technology to enhance the interpersonal intelligence. Small group computer activities encourage students to collaborate. Many simulations require students to work as a team to solve a problem or explore an issue. Software such as Tom Snyder's Decisions, Decisions series focus on social or environmental issues. Get students involved with online communication where they can telecommunicate with other learners around the world on important issues and problems.

Also use technology as a tool to help students enhance their interpersonal intelligence. For example, some students feel uncomfortable speaking in a group setting. Using videotape or audiotape during practice can make students feel more confident.

The intrapersonal intelligence can also make use of technology. For example, computers are great tools for reflective journal writing or drawing pictures about their feelings. Videotape is also a good tool for self-analysis. For example, you might tape a small group discussion and ask students to watch and reflect on their actions.

Flexibility is the key to designing learning environments that focus on a range of intelligences and technologies. Let's say that your class is involved with creating skits or short plays that focus on a particular genre such as tragedy or irony. One group might use the software called Hollywood to develop and perform a play all on the computer screen including sounds, narration, and animated characters. Another group might use technology for writing a script or building a storyboard, then use a videocamera to record their sounds and movements. A "rock opera" might be the product of a third group that uses a keyboard hooked to the computer as background music for a modern song and dance project. They would all learn about the creation of a drama, but each group might apply their intelligences a different way.

Lesson Planning and Multiple Intelligences

As you develop lesson plans, consider each intelligence. Develop activities that ask students to apply their intelligences in meaningful ways. In your attempt to incorporate every area, you may have a difficult time identifying activities or you may simply not have the time in every lesson to allow multiple projects. Don't worry. You don't need to incorporate all seven into every lesson. Instead look at your unit as a whole. Do you meet the learning needs of your students? Do you provide a variety of activities that draw on student strength areas and develop weak areas? Do you use a variety of communication channels and types of media?

 
Sample Activity
 
Explore a Sample Activity.


Updated by Annette Lamb, 01/02. Updated 12/05.