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Educating Like Never Before: Jon Souders Biology Teacher

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Jon in the Smokies Reviewer:  Jon Souders

Position: Biology Teacher

District/School: West Clermont Local Schools, Glen Este High School, School for Scientific Studies, Ohio

Number of Students in District/School: 9,000; 1,500 

Products:

Goals:

1. Help every student develop basic computer productivity and research skills.

2. To make sure every student has a minimum level of access to computers—in and out of school.

3. To teach students how to collaborate using computers.  

4. To make my classroom as close to paperless as possible.  

Reviewer’s Notes:

I teach Biology, and currently collaborating on this project with a social studies teacher, and an English teacher. It is worth mentioning that this same team of teachers has been teaching Biology, Social Studies 2, and English 2 in a fully integrated setting for 8 years. I believe this experience has allowed us to be better prepared to implement this project.

Learning Curve:

For our team of teachers this has been an easy transition, because we have worked together for years. So, once we agreed on a direction the three teachers moved quickly to learn the possibilities of the system.  We all learned new segments of the process and then, frequently, shared our knowledge. 

Our students also contributed to our learning curve. When we hit roadblocks they responded with their systemic knowledge of the technologies.  For example, it was a student who showed me that if I created a “.mov” file of a video clip that I wanted to use, and then imported it into iTunes,  iTunes would automatically convert it to a podcast. 

Response:

Using a portal like Moodle has created a uniform type of classroom management that the students seem to like.  Students have commented many times that they love knowing exactly where to look if they’ve forgotten something, or if they misplace an assignment. They can simply download it from the website. 

Parents have been a little bit slower to pick up on the idea of looking at the Moodle server to find out what the students have due, but they are starting to get a handle on it. I believe it will, in the end, aid parents in knowing exactly where the students stand in class. 

How We Use It:

1. Students use their computers to complete online assignments such as quizzes, and online worksheets. These are all teacher created and located on our online courses which the teachers have created using Moodle.

a. An unforeseen bonus is that the system will grade this work, and the grades from Moodle can be imported directly into our online grade books. We use these for drill and practice and for daily progress checks. Not so much for culminating assessment.

b. Culminating assessments are given traditionally in order to assure authenticity. 

2. Students use their computers for keeping track of their assignment, for production of work, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.

3. To some degree students use the computers to communicate with each other during the day. I have been able to engage students who were not engaged before, but I still have some students who resist. That challenge remains. 

What’s Ahead?

As a teacher I can say I hope this is the standard operational mode for us in the very near future.  I do not want to think about teaching without resources, such as these, in the future. I believe Web-based digital books are very close, too.  Teachers creating resources and web-based instructional materials should be on the list of next steps.

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