When children look under the hood of a car, their perspective is one of pure curiosity. They immediately want to identify the parts, find out the location of major features, start to ask questions about how the various elements work together, and search to understand the organization of the car as a whole.We are all born with a natural curiosity that relies on our ability to analyze. It is how we initially learn to understand and make sense of our world. When Benjamin Bloom writes about the fourth learning stage, analysis, he primarily refers to our ability to analyze written content. But his statements have far greater implications.
Every day, a barrage of information enters into the lives of our students through the Internet. It comes in the form of advertisements, Google searches, links on a Facebook account, a tweet, video on YouTube, an email, text message or even a homework assignment. The multi-media age our students are growing up in requires the ability to constantly analyze content. But are we properly equipping them to exercise this skill proficiently?
Assisting our youth with critical thinking skills has never been more important. Although Bloom's pedagogy may not be the perfect solution, it is a launching point for a discussion about how curriculum that uses mobile technology can help to develop higher order thinking skills. Can apps help teachers create curriculum that improves a student's ability to analyze both digital media, and academic content? In an attempt to answer this question, I looked closely at the three components of Bloom's fourth learning stage and searched for apps that might spark a child's curiosity.
Analysis of the Elements: Differentiating
This component requires the ability to dissect content, identify its parts, and differentiate between them. This is the skill used to determine what information is relevant and irrelevant.
Analysis of Relationships: Attributing
The relationship between the parts is what forms content. This skill helps a student deconstruct elements and determine how they function in relation to one another. It refers to the ability to recognize the underlying motive, detect bias, and identify the point-of-view.
Analysis of Organizational Principles: Organizing
All content has structure and organization. Analyzing how ideas are organized will help students their purpose or intent. It is the system used to organize the elements that makes it content coherent.
Apps that fit into the "analyzing" stage improve the user's ability to differentiate between the relevant and irrelevant, determine relationships, and recognize the organization of content. Verbs commonly used to describe this phase include differentiating, discriminating, selecting, distinguishing, focusing, attributing, deconstructing, structuring, integrating, outlining, and parsing.
CriteriaWhen locating these "analyzing" apps, consider the following questions.
Does the app help the user...
1. Discriminate fact from hypothesis?
2. Distinguish the relevant from irrelevant?
3. Observe the structure?
4. Select important elements?
5. Determine biases?
6. Recognize intent?
7. Deconstruct content?
8. Understand the relationships?
9. Organize content?
10. Outline content?
Formed in partnership with the Science House Foundation, teacher Dan Menelly has created over 100 short video clips of science experiments. These films are not only fascinating but contain the elements of the scientific method. When students create a science fair project, they design their experiment around an outline of these principles. The teachers present the appropriate procedures and the children follow the formula. Consider reversing this teaching process. Use VideoScience to present an experiment and have students identify the scientific method. This will increase their understanding of the scientific method, and ask them to start analyzing the content in films.
sling Note lets users extract portions of digital content and re-organize them in a notebook. By putting a web-browser and notebook side by side, students can highlight, cut, and paste content directly onto a blank page. The notebook's drawing tools are useful for quickly sketching graphic organizers that contain relevant information pulled from an article. These diagrams can reveal the organization and hierarchy of content. Consider having the class annotate evidence of bias, an article's point-of-view, or an author's intent directly onto a website. Write comments on top of photographs from the web, camera roll, or taken with built in camera. Usually text is fixed and static, but using an app like this promotes the digital deconstruction and manipulation of ideas.
Like sling Note, this notebook lets users insert content and "mash-up" a new form. This is great for selecting the important elements of an image, or piece of writing. The interface is less complicated and may be easier for elementary students to use. There is a drawing tool, option to type, take and import photos. It does not house an accompanying browser page. It does let students organize ideas visually with their finger.
This is a MUST HAVE app! Popplet is a graphic organizing tool that is uncomplicated and straightforward. The interface is so clear and intuitive kindergarteners will be able to use it. It lets children organize ideas by drawing, writing, or importing imagery. This app is perfect for creating diagrams, flowcharts, mind-maps, webs, and outlines. Students can select the most important events from a story or historical event, and present them on a timeline made with Popplet. They could also insert photos of the parts of a plant, or of a simple machine, and then create a flowchart about how the parts function together. The online feature lets students collaborate on the same organizer at the same time and share their work with others.
iCardSort takes individual ideas and places them on notecards for sorting Teachers can pre-create a deck of note cards from a text file and share them through WIFI or download them from the iCard website. This is a great tool to help students' examine the relationship between ideas from a reading passage or separate a thesis statement from supporting details. Invite students to work in teams and discuss how they discriminate between given elements. Having the ability to move and manipulate ideas with your finger will help students to understand that this same process occurs when we are thinking.
This notetaking app does it all! It imports photos, takes pictures, records audio, types, sketches, and inserts webclips. The interface is clean and intuitive to use. When typing, an option to create an outline with either bulleted points or numbers shows up on the toolbar. Students can use this to create an outline of concepts when they are researching, analyzing a video, or observing a science experiment. Within an outline, students can insert writing, imagery, drawings, or auditory notes. Notability makes it possible to merge and organize material form multiple sources. Having a variety of media options for students to choose from is a great way to differentiate students learning and honor their product preferences.