Last week’s Teacher Academy was led by Tina Wheeler, our Media Specialist. Mrs. Wheeler is this week’s guest blogger about our learning!
The purpose of this week’s teacher academy was to address a deficiency in our technology survey pertaining to the Alabama Virtual Library. The teachers were given a brief tutorial on the many different sites that the AVL offers. Kids Infobits, Searchasauras, and Kid Search are designed to offer elementary school students an easy-to-use and graphically appealing search experience. We discussed the ability to search for videos, pictures, magazine articles, and lots of other areas that will give students a plethora of valuable, reliable information. Another valuable site is the Opposing Viewpoints database. It allows students to find different facts and opinions on social issues facing our world today. We also looked at several research tools for analyzing data in all the countries of the world with the Data World Analyst site. This database provides students the opportunity to analyze countries at a glance and offers a detailed statistical comparison of countries around the world. Students can also create tables and charts as well as export information in to a spreadsheet.
To put what we had learned to use, the teachers were posed a controversial question, “Should Americans who had contracted the Ebola virus be allowed to re-enter the United States?” The teachers were instructed to use the Alabama Virtual Library to find ideas that support both sides of this issue in a fun teaching protocol called “Tug of War.” This strategy requires students to weigh both sides of an issue with facts and solid statistics as opposed to opinions and jumping to conclusions. We placed a rope on the table and asked the teachers to write their supporting facts on a sticky note. They were to place them on the side of the rope that it supported. These sticky notes are called “tugs.” The whole idea was to make their thinking visual. At the end, we were able to look at the rope and determine which side had the most accurate, reliable information. This protocal came from the book Making Thinking Visible by Ritchart, Church and Morrison.