Sometimes we are encouraged as teachers to make our class relevant to the students’ “real” lives. Many of my students, however, are having such big challenges in their real lives lately and it breaks my heart. In certain ways we need our classrooms to be much different than real life. In real life, many students don’t see the point of education and don’t get much support outside of school. In real life, some of my students need
external image grey_loader.gif to be completely self-reliant when they get home from school. In real life, some of my students are numbing themselves with an overdose of media connections to the point where the technology at school is no longer interesting. They can often look bored and act apathetic, but bored students are not relaxed students. Boredom is a leading cause of stress in our classes. Other students are extremely defensive because they have had bad experiences at school in the past. They feel defeated before they begin.
So, real life? I don’t think so…we need to do better. Our schools should be secure, comfortable environments where students can relax, feel cared for, learn to enjoy exploring their own ideas and create special projects that give them pride. We need to model a “different life” where people respect and care about each other, where we work to proactively create options for ourselves, and where we enjoy being active and productive.
I am asking myself these questions lately:
  • What do students see when they walk in the door?
  • What do they hear? Relaxed, friendly voices or stressed ones?
  • What will they create today?
  • What problems will they solve?
  • What memories will they take away with them?
  • How will they feel when they leave?
By focusing on these questions, we may be able to draw more of our students into a “different life” that is filled with possibility and never boring!

How does using web 2.0 change the experience that a student has in their science class?
increases student involvement
higher order thinking skills
audience and purpose
ownership - student's work
fun engaging


Imagine ways to use Web 2.0 tools to transform your class into a collaborative community!
Find ways to use minimal technology to engage students.

1. Learn how to begin differentiating instruction using technology.
  • Starting a wiki then watching it grow!
  • Reaching reluctant learners.
2. Find tools to address the reasons for differentiating.
  • What are the problems you will encounter when differentiating instruction?
    • high prep time
    • difficult to assess
    • different assignments are "unfair"
    • hard to know each individual child
    • too much work!
  • Why do we want to differentiate instruction for children?
    • kids will work harder with the right task
    • multiple learning styles
    • classroom management
    • more enthusiastic, like more choices
    • see sense of accomplishment
    • students feel valued
  • How does technology resolve the initial issues that teachers have with differentiating instruction?
    • drill & practice for math
    • different websites
    • response clickers
    • Today's Meet - like Cover it Live
    • blogs

Wikis in the Science Class

Addressing Science Skills with Wikis

  • Writing and communication skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Effective use of technology tools
  • Creating tables and graphs
  • Sharing ideas and lab results
  • Organization
  • Problem solving
  • Analyzing data
  • Navigating the Internet
  • Defining questions and planning experiments
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Synthesizing information from several sources

The "One Computer" Classroom
A wiki page can function as an on-line classroom journal. Give one student the job of summarizing a lab activity, interviewing other students, recording the notes, typing the answers to class review questions or taking a picture to add to the page. In no time at all, the page will serve as a valuable resource for your class.
  • Absent students can find out what they missed.
  • Parents can get to know more about the class.
  • Use the wiki page to review the lessons before a test.
  • Build a sense of classroom community.
  • Create a different page for each section and have the students in one class compare their ideas with those of the students in another class.
Research Projects or On-line Science FairExample A wiki page can also be used to host student research projects. If each student is given a page on which to post their research, links, and their final project. The project can be an embedded presentation (Google Presentation,) a Voice Thread, a podcast, or a report.
  • Start an on-line science fair. Create a template and copy it to a wiki page for each student so their research is organized and easy to check. Provide a page of links to help students find research topics.
  • Students who need enrichment can conduct independent research and post it on their own page of the class wiki.
  • Organize a research project. Make one page for the guidelines and give each student a page to record their research and post their projects.
Use Wikis with Lab GroupsExample If there are enough computers available, one computer can be placed at each lab table for the group to share. With their own wiki accounts, students can log in and make changes to their lab group page. In this setting, lab groups can contribute their ideas and results and then read the reports and notes of the other groups in their class and in other classes.
  • Lab groups can upload their lab results as summaries, tables, or graphs.
  • Students can quickly compare their results with those of other lab groups.
  • During an activity, students can take pictures and upload them to the wiki.
  • Some students prefer to use Microsoft Word or Power Point and then upload the document.
  • Students can save hyperlinks to web sites for background information or research notes.
Differentiating InstructionExample An ambitious group of students suggested that they make their own wiki during our unit on Energy Alternatives. They enjoyed developing the design of the wiki and during class worked on research and communicating their ideas.
  • Consider using a wiki to organize and follow any student who requires enrichment opportunities.
  • Creating a wiki from scratch rather than adding on to our class wiki made these students feel very independent.
  • Students from several different classes were able to collaborate without ever working in the same room.
  • Students can work on wikis at many different levels so they feel less pressured and enjoy working at their own pace.