Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blog # 4

Since I am a teacher, I often have my students outline reading assignments so that they can organize the main points into succinct notes to use as a quiz or test review. I have them actually type up their outlines, but before I could assign this task I had to take a day to teach a lesson on how to use MS Word. In that lesson, I showed how to use the basic tab functions under the "home", "page layout", and "review" options. I tell the students what font size, and font type I want when they submit their outline for a grade, so that it is standardized. I also implement idea maps or concept maps as a tool to help teach ideas. For example, when I teach about plant and animal cells, I have the students compare and contrast the two types of cells by using Venn Diagrams, which give a quick visual snapshot of the main points. These methods help to keep notes organized in a concise way for a quick review prior to an assessment. I think that I will implement a lesson on the Inspiration software next year so that students can create their own concept maps to help with learning a topic such as taxonomy.

Developing an outline, idea map, and story boarding skills (I haven't used this one yet) are great ways to help organize ideas and place them in one location. By helping students get organized, I know that their stress level will be reduced. If they have good notes to review then they do not have to refer to the daunting textbook to reread mulitple pages. So, I take time at the beginning of the school year to talk about outlining and notetaking in my class to ulimately help them become better students with stronger academic skills that will better prepare them for higher academic courses.

I really was impressed with learning about mail merge for writing letters with multiple names, which can be inserted in a letter template. I thought this was a very useful skill to learn since teachers deal with all kinds of correspondence. If I can write ONE letter and use mail merge to personalize it for my students then I will definitely use it to save time.

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