Technology Review of puppetools.com

 
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:58 pm
PostPost subject: Technology Review of puppetools.com
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Submitted by: Gretchen Hummon
For: ESPED 5037: Strategies for Inclusive Schooling – Ronda Goodale
February 14, 2011
Technology Review – www.puppetools.com

In searching for a technology piece that would work well in an inclusive classroom, Ilanded on an article about a website promoting the use of puppets in the classroom on edutopia.org. Attracted to the idea of puppetry and intrigued by how a website could encourage its use, I went onto the recommended website www.puppetools.com and feel that
I have found an excellent resource for teachers to use in an inclusive classroom – and in any classroom. To modify a lesson plan so that it abides by universal design principles, it is important to first identify the barriers to learning.

One barrier that I have seen in my classroom observations is quite simply the low level of interest the lesson inspires in the children. The teachers I have observed often require students to stay seated, listen to the
teacher, and then do some sort of written assignment that relates to the lesson at hand. The teachers can say that they have covered the required curriculum standards, but have the students enjoyed the process, and has the information truly had meaning for them?

Through puppets, teachers can enhance the learning within the core curriculum standards in a number of ways. For example, in the ELA setting, puppets of book characters can be created to encourage “direct” interaction through an interview format. In the teaching of Science, puppets of animals can be used to add interest to a lesson on the characteristics of the animal and its life cycle. (For an example of this, see “Elephant Seal Family Interview”

at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZNJMdxNbmc.) In Social Studies, puppets can be made of famous characters in U.S. history
(see “Picture Puppets” at http://www.youtube.com/user/papertalker#p/u/23/GaPxx8gFrAg) and students can use these puppets to re-enact important historical events such as the signing of the Declaration of the Independence. Research on the puppetools website led me toward a wealth of information about the
importance of play in the elementary school classroom both for traditional and nontraditional learners, and many ideas of how to use puppets to encourage play and learning.

This concept works well for differentiated instruction and adheres to universal design principles in the following ways:

1. The puppets are very easy to make, requiring only construction paper, scissors, and glue. If destroyed by accident, they are easily replicable.

2. The puppets can be elaborated upon by those interested in adding colorful design elements, but can also be as simple as two pieces of paper hinged together.

3. The puppets are easy to handle by all, excepting only students who do not have the proper use of their hands, which would be a low-incidence disorder according to Vaughn et al (2011).

4. Students with low-incidence disorders such as the inability to use their hands can also benefit from the use of puppets as engaged audience members, or can provide the language for the puppets to say.

5. The puppets provide opportunities for a wide variety of Howard Gardner’s learning styles to be addressed, including kinesthetic - making/using the puppets; linguistic -- creating language for the puppets to say, interpersonal – enabling communication between puppets or between puppets and students, visual/spatial – designing puppets, etc.

6. Puppets can allow shy children to have a voice without putting themselves in front of an audience in an uncomfortable situation.

7. Puppets have long been used in therapeutic settings to assist children in dealing with emotional/behavioral issues, and teachers can take advantage of this in the classroom setting.

8. Piaget wrote that play is “an adaptive behavior that [is] instrumental in furthering children’s thinking” (as paraphrased in Singer et al, 2006), and puppets infuse play into the curriculum.

By registering on the puppetools website, which has an individual subscription fee of $49 for one year, teachers can partake in workshops on puppet construction, have access to hundreds of puppet designs that already exist, and use the site’s support services (Snider, 2007). However, even without paying the subscription fee, the information available on-line about puppetools and the integration of puppets, play and learning is extensive, and can inform a teacher’s ability to use puppets to enhance the classroom experience.

References

Singer, D.G., Golinkoff, R.M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (eds) (2006) Play = learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Snider, B. (March 2007). Talk to the hand: An innovative use of an age-old toy. Edutopia. As retrieved on 2/14/11,
from http://www.edutopia.org/talk-hand

Vaughn, S.R., Bos, C.S., & Schumm, J.S. (2011). Teaching students who are exceptional, diverse and at risk in the general education classroom. Boston: Pearson.
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