Friday, December 9, 2011

Blog Post #15

This is just a few of the words that reflect what I feel I have gained from this class. It really has been my favorite, and I am ever grateful for what I will take away from it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Final Report on my PLN

A book cover from taken from the EDM310 class blog.

Thus far, I have really enjoyed using EDM310 as my PLN. The lab assistants, Dr. Strange's Strange Thoughts, and the many educators that I have researched because of this class have made me a more curious learner and eager teacher. I swear that one day I will come to love Twitter! I'm not opposed to it. That's really not it. I just need to sit down for a good two or three hours (on a computer that moves faster than my grandmother) and learn how to really use it. I love all the links and contributions that some of the people I follow make, and I would really like to jump on board with that. I have found the educator's pln .ning to be extremely useful. There are quite a few authors and videos on there that are very thought provoking.
In conclusion, I have certainly learned the value of a PLN. I can't wait until I begin to use Twitter, or possibly some other social networking site and develop a list of people that I can actually hold conversation with to discuss the issues arising in my schoolwork, and soon my classroom.

C4K November

The first blog I commented on was one from Mrs. Yollis' room! She even found a way to use her blog when teaching math. There were example math problems that her students had helped to create on her blog and she asked teachers from all over the country to get their students to help contribute to the math problems on the blog as well. There was a comment from Wellford, SC (close to my old stomping grounds). The teacher and her students created math problems involving the state bird, a wren, the state tree, a palmetto, and other symbols that represent SC. I think this is a wonderfully interesting way to teach math. Math is such a hard subject to ignite interest in that these web tools are needed to initially motivate the students to want to learn.
The second blog I commented on was of a student in Australia named Kayden. I found it really interesting that I was commenting on his blog at 11PM on Sunday November, 20 and he already had a post up for November 21. This post was about some of his favorite name brands. His brands were Nike and Adidas, thus I concluded that he was interested in sports. The brands had very interesting drawings and used bright colors that went together in a funky fashion. I asked Kayden what types of sports he is interested in and if the colors in these pictures reflect his personality.
I am sad to see the comments for kids blog posts come to an end in EDM310, but that does not mean that they cannot be carried on of our own free will. I enjoy reading teacher's blogs and getting ideas for new lesson plans or resources to check out. I think we can all agree that over the past four months, these kids blogs have taught us just as much as the educators.
Sad face with a tear


Children working together on a computer.

I have recently had the pleasure of following Mr. William Chamberlain's blog. I have read so much about Mr. Chamberlain from Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange. The first post I read from him was about the real value of using technology in the classroom. This is most definitely a post that will stay with me for a long time. Mr. Chamberlain addresses his belief that technology's value in education is collaboration. I have always considered myself an open-minded individual who values other people's ideas, but I had not taken into consideration that the most valuable asset of technology in education could be just that. I knew it was beneficial, but I had never considered that it was the MOST valuable asset. It never occurred to me to put an order on the benefits gained from integrating technology and education. I am not completely positive that I fully agree with Mr. Chamberlain, but I can say that I do not disagree. Furthermore, I am excited to spend some serious time searching the internet, my PLN, and myself to discover what I believe to be the real value of using technology in education.
The second post I read by Mr. Chamberlain describes a book that he recently began reading. This book is by Anne Reeves and entitled, "Where Great Teaching Begins." First off, I think of my old English professor who would be appalled to see the word, "great" in a title. Mr. Chamberlain states that he is determined to read and think about the book in its entirety and to ensure that he completes this task, he will be writing a blog post for every chapter. I really love this idea and think that it could be very useful for children (especially in grades 3-6 of elementary ed). From this chapter, Mr. Chamberlain has taken a few key points. They are: choosing the learning the students need, and determining who the lesson plans are for. When Mr. Chamberlain is speaking of the learning the students really need, it reminds me of the comment he left about my comment of the first post of his I read. It said something to the effect of lesson plans are not to be geared around technology because there is no standard that requires students to use the computer. First, create a well structured lesson plan that focuses solely on the student's learning. Next, get creative and find a way to incorporate technology into the lesson. Mr. Chamberlain determined that his lesson plans are for himself, the students, and the administrator. All teachers have written a lesson plan, and most administrators have written a lesson (since they were probably teachers at some point). But, have any students ever created a lesson plan? I'm going to guess the majority will answer no. Mr. Chamberlain suggests that it might be a good idea. I agree! I think it's a fantastic idea to have children give suggestions of how they would like to teach a unit. Who knows how to better engage a student than a student? I think it would be a very interesting, telling, challenging, and possibly an extremely worth while experience.

Blog Post #14

I must say that Mr. Picardo's blog is one that I will have bookmarked for my entire teaching career. The title, "Box of Tricks" is really very fitting. His entire blog, besides being filled with stimulating posts, is loaded with different tools that are easily available to educators. The resources provided (not only in the list given to us)are mostly compatible with Mac and PCs and come with a brief description of the tool. This description was very helpful to me because I have a painfully slow computer so it was convenient for me to read which ones I wanted to take the time to open. It is a true talent the way Mr. Picardo has made using technology in the classroom seem like such a breeze. He comments in one of his posts that gaining support is one of the most difficult tasks. I can imagine that is the real struggle in integrating technology into education. I was so impressed with his long list of resources that I e-mailed them to my mother (who I am desperately trying to talk into using more technology in her last three years of teaching), her teacher friends, as well as classmates of mine, and education graduates.
I love the way Mr. Picardo has broken down his "Top 10 tips for using Teachnology in the classroom." Once this daunting task is divided into 10 ideas, it becomes a lot less overwhelming. This video would be very helpful to those trying to incorporate technology more effectively into their curriculum. Each step can be researched if the educator needs to know editing software to start using streaming video, for example. A list of internet resources is found on Mr. Picardo's blog if a teacher is looking to adopt tip 9 into their lesson plans (using internet tools). All of his tips seems like no brainers to the EDM310 students. We all know that video is effective in motivating students vs. lecture, and we are also aware that students, teachers, parents, and administrators greatly benefit from sharing their ideas all over the world and receiving feedback. However, we don't know all there is to know about any of these tips, so let's use this video as an inspiration to FIND OUT! For example, my husband and I are huge music enthusiasts. I would love to learn the many different ways to effectively integrate music into my curriculum. I know that some children take a very strong interest in music as well, and perhaps using that concept in teaching would enhance their comprehension, as well as inspire them to want to learn. Mr. Picardo intends for this video to be a starting point for teachers so that they will expand their knowledge of the various ways technology can be useful to their students. I believe he also wants each educator to figure out what using technology in the classroom means to them. He is giving us several intriguing tools that he hopes will spark our interest. However, we cannot let him do all the work for us!
Children creating music on an interactive whiteboard.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Final Project 16

Our group, The Septemberists, made a few tutorials of some really cool web tools. We hope that you find these resources interesting and encourage you all to make use of them with your future students.

Part 1-by: Frances Judd

Part 2-by: Hillary Parmer

Part 3-by: Greta Miller

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Additional Post #1

Add Sparkle to Your Words

Dr. telling a patient his knife in his back is a metaphor

I was a bit disappointed in myself that I didn't completely identify the metaphor discussed my Mr. Spencer is his "Pencil Integration" blog. I believe the main reason that I missed the direct connection he was trying to convey to his readers is simple. I took all possibility that a metaphor was an option out of my brain. I trusted this man to give us his opinion on education blatantly and that is unfortunate. How boring! I appreciate some jazz in writing and I wish that I had been able to see the connection. When I go back and read Mr. Spencer's blog post and insert technology and computers where pencils are written, I thoroughly agree with and enjoy his writing a billion times over. Furthermore, I read a good bit of Mr. Spencer's writing and believed him to be a well-educated, poised, fantastic writer. I gave him such credit that I took what he had written too seriously and forced myself to believe his theory on pencils. I wanted these underpriveledged children to be able to take pencils home too! I began agreeing with everything Mr. Spencer wrote and stopped thinking for myself on a deeper level. Not cool, Frances.
There are so many simple metaphors that we encounter on a daily basis. A daily log of metaphors are not a bad idea in the least. Some people find it annoying to jot down everything they hear or see. For these anti-compositionists, it should not be difficult to make a mental note of these daily examples. It rains pretty regularly in Mobile. I dare say someone has recently exclaimed, "It's raining cats and dogs!" I am fired up for Christmas this year! It is mainly because Dylan will understand Santa Claus a little better! After quite an intense argument the other day, I was told that "my eyes were smoldering." Not the compliment I was looking for after a hard day, but an example of a metaphor none the less. I heard a coworker speaking of her "old flame". Judging from contect clues, I don't believe she was speaking of last night's fire.
I think Mr. Pink's idea of creating a metaphor journal is a wonderful way for kids to realize how often metaphors are used, how much they enhance a story, and how clever they make one seem. The definition that I have found for metaphor comes from and it seems to be the one that could be most easily understood by elementary students. It reads as follows: "A figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common." While teaching a unit on metaphors, I would like to display this definition and start out each day reviewing it as well as some of the examples children have written in their metaphor journal. This journal could work for many different types of speech, such as similes, personification, alliteration, sarcasm, and many more (depending on the age group, of course). I would like to post different examples of metaphors in poems, children's books, and TV shows in my class blog and have students in my classroom and others (possibly from other regions of the world) add to the list so that students will see that metaphors are used all over by various age groups. This would also be interesting so see what types of metaphors are used in different countries.
I think Dr. Strange really put his finger on it when he stated the metaphors are used to spice up prose, poetry, conversation, and many other ways of communication. Telling it like it is can be inappropriate at times, boring at others, uncomfortable, or sometimes just plain difficult. Metaphors spark imagination and interest. Orson Scott Card eloquently states, "Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space."

Blog Post #13

Technology Fast

Kid painting

I chose this option because I was interested to see if my need for technology had increased in the past four months (since the beginning of school). As I suspected, it had. I really enjoyed this assignment because it made me aware of the many ways I am technology dependent. However, I did manage to complete the assignment in just one twenty-four hour period.
First of all, I knew that I would have to prep my husband for this technology fast so that he would not worry when I didn't answer my phone the entire day I was at school. I had to write him a note explaining the project, what bills had to be paid that day, what groceries were needed, what clothes were clean, when to pick Dylan up at day care,etc. That brings me to my next preparatory measure: I also had to warn the day care to call Alex's phone in case of an emergency instead of mine. This is a little depressing for me to admit, but one of the hardest things for me to give up was TV. I knew this was going to be difficult for me, primarily because it is what I use in the morning to keep Dylan occupied while I make breakfast, iron clothes, pack my lunch, and accomplish the rest of the tedious chores that make my day run smoothly. Because I knew the morning of the fast would work a little differently, I organized the house accordingly. I made breakfast the night before and simply heated up some muffins for breakfast. I packed my lunch the night before. I set up a coloring area with a HUGE sheet of paper, some towels on the floor, and about 7 million markers and crayons to keep Dylan occupied while I showered and got dressed for school. I really enjoyed having everything prepared the night before so that I was not so rushed and I actually felt a bit relaxed as I was driving down I10 towards school. I also felt like a better mom for not just sticking my kid in front of a TV for 45 minutes in the morning. I tried something similar to this a couple mornings afterwards, and Dylan and I both enjoyed it! The next problem I knew I would encounter was printing off slides for a class. I prepared for this the day before as well. This, however was a much easier preparation. I simply printed out all materials I could possibly need for all my classes the night before the fast. After school, I wasn't sure if listening to my CD player on the way home from school was considered appropriate, so I decided against it. It was definitely a boring hour ride home and it was very difficult to stay awake until I reached Fairhope. I chose to do the fast on a night that I didn't have to work, since I am constantly using computers for orders and am surrounded by TVs. When I arrived at home, the stereo was on and my husband was devastated to learn that it had to be turned off. Dylan was in the middle of a very interesting dance to The Rolling Stones, so he was a little upset too. We decided to take a walk by the pier, get ice cream at Mr. Gene's Beans, read books, play Legos, and finger paint in place of listening to music or watching TV. It was awesome to see how jam packed we could make our day when mama wasn't doing homework on the computer, and there were no distracting devices in the background. Surprisingly, the hardest decision I had to make came late in the evening. I still sleep with Dylan's monitor by my head because occasionally he will wake up in the middle of the night and I have never not had it near me, so I don't have enough faith in myself to hear him without it. I chose to keep his monitor plugged in, and let that be the only piece of technology that I used during those 24 hours.
I think this activity was probably easier for me than some others because I don't actually use Facebook all that often or my cell phone either. I found the key to completing this assignment in one trial was to PREPARE! I thought out my day and what obstacles I would encounter and I figured out how to accomplish those tasks without technology. While I realized that life can proceed without technology, it would not be an easy way to live. I believe this was a fantastic exercise for me to realize how I can incorporate technology into my life a little more (by using some off time to get into Twitter maybe), and how I can eliminate it in certain ways and introduce more engaging activities instead.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Skype Project #14

This is an interview with Ms. Melinda Long, a former teacher and children's book author. Her books are filled with adventure and optimism, which I believe are great messages for our youngsters. I read her book, "How I Became A Pirate," and "Pirates Don't Change Diapers," to my son. I also made a book trailer for the former. I hope you enjoy listening to what Ms. Long has to say. I sure did!

Progress Report on Project #16

When Hillary, Greta, and I sat down to decide on a final project, I was inspired by EDM 310 for Dummies. We thought it could be comical and of course beneficial to future EDM310 students if we made a brief, web-based EDM 310 for Dummies. We are thinking of the areas in this class that gave us the most trouble so that we may create tutorials, offer resources and websites, or simply give sound advice on the subjects. I think it will be a lot of fun to make and hopefully useful in the end as well.
girl pulling her hair out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blog Post #12

I suppose this could be considered more of a project than a blog post, but it does remind me a bit of an example of how to write digitally. Students will pick a topic, their favorite place to vacation, their favorite artist, writer, their favorite recipe, etc. Then, they will create a presentation on this topic using Prezi. Prezi is a program that allows you to make an organized, different, and entertaining presentation online.

This is an example of a Prezi I made on the Smoky Mountains National Park, where I spent my honeymoon and my favorite place to vacation. For this project, students will need to go to the Prezi website and click on the "sign up" button that's on the top right corner. When choosing which type of Prezi to use, the "Public" option will do just fine and better yet, IT'S FREE! After watching these tutorials: Step 1. Learn Prezi
Step 2. Learn MORE Prezi, students are free to create! Perhaps, this could be a blog assignment after the video on Digital Writing and students would be asked to explain how their students could make them to demonstrate how effective and easy it is to write digitally. They could also list the benefits.
Prezis are quite fun to make and by being able to group and frame ideas together, they are very easy to follow when presented.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

C4K #10- Mrs. Yollis' Class Blog

Children of all different ethnic groups holding hands.

I have been following Mrs. Yollis on Twitter and following new links she posts almost everyday. She is a very inspiring woman who really seems to tear down some brick walls. I gained a lot of knowledge about the benefits of blogging for students, parents, and teachers while visiting her blog. I love her motto, "Learning and Sharing Together." This sounds like a beautiful classroom any child would be lucky to be in. I have recently read some comments of bloggers on a particular post that stated their concerns with internet collaboration becoming more encouraged and frequent than face to face collaboration. One thing I love about Mrs. Yollis' projects is the fact that they often work in groups which allows for face to face interaction while doing so technologically.
I love the fact that she has involved the parents in the blog as well. Her idea of a blog being an open house all year long is dead on and a very creative and intriguing way to describe it. I believe parents will be more inclined to interact with their students for many reasons. For one, it is easy for them to glance at the blog while at work and see previous work done by their child, or possibly get a heads up on a project. Also, on Mrs. Yollis' blog, there is a link to Mrs. Yollis' website which has games, homework pages, help for homework, and various other fun links for parents and children to enjoy together.
I especially loved Mrs. Yollis' video on how blogging is learning. It was amazing how well these children could enunciate their words and performed on camera. It's clear another skill being taught is confidence in front of an audience. I also liked seeing how well these students worked together and supported each other.
I loved her tab created for teachers who are interested in finding out how to blog also. This wiki was filled with tons of different resources that would be incredibly useful to teachers wondering if they should embark along the blogging adventure. Skeptics are likely to have their interest spark and their mind opened when they see that Mrs. Yollis' blog has had 72,000 plus visitors from around the world in just a year and a half. The EDM 310 class isn't failing miserably with our numbers; however, compared to Mrs. Yollis' class-well, we don't compare. Her blog is so entertaining, informative, creative, and inviting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

C4K #2

Kids crowding around a computer.

As always, I enjoyed the blogs and projects done by children over the past month of October. They are always creative and give a bit of insight into how teachers from around the world are using technology in the classroom and what benefits their children reap from it. In October I commented on Dylan's (of course I chose him because he shares my son's name) wikispace. First, I had to research a wikispace to find out exactly what that is, but I loved the fact that 3rd graders knew how to create something that a 25 year old didn't even know existed. Dylan's wikispace was an animated picture of himself with a skateboard, a dog, a cat, and a beautiful landscape. I could really tell a lot about his interests from his wikispace and he seemed to really enjoy creating it! I told him I enjoyed his creation and that I hoped he continued his love for animals as well as technology. I also commented on the New Zealand flag poll. The argument was between keeping the old flag or changing to a new flag that is black with the New Zealand fern leaf on it and New Zealand in text below the leaf. I chose to switch flags, simply because I think the fern leaf is pretty and it is a more distinct design than the original flag which people often confuse with Australia's. I also commented on Mariana's avatar. She made her avatar look a little bit like her and gave her avatar similar interests as her. Her avatar had binoculars, maps, and a compass. She loves animals, the outdoors, and adventure. I told her how I also love the outdoors and would love to see some of the animals that New Zealand has roaming the country. Next, I commented on Nate's animation of the Australian outback. He did a great job adding animals, such as dingoes, kangaroos, and koala bears to depict what the Australian outback looks like. His animals would run and climb trees. It was very interesting to watch and well thought out! This week, I commented on Mr. McClung's class that is learning how to write professional letters. I told him how impressed I was that his children were learning the proper form at an early age. This is a skill that can be carried on for years, as well as an effective and creative way to involve the community and students. I look forward to seeing what these children will accomplish throughout the year. It excites me to add these students and the many more we have connected with to my PLN because hopefully we all know children can be some of our most valuable learning tools.

Blog Post #11

Little Kids, Big Potential
Ms. Cassidy focuses on what fantastic abilities children have if they are given the proper tools to enhance these abilities. She states an insightful claim in her title, "Little Kids, Big Potential." This may seem like just a catchy title; however, it is a fascinating way of conveying the message that when children are given: support, an audience, the possibility to create friendships and share ideas from other continents, new tools and the ability to learn on their own- amazing facets of learning can be possible. I really enjoyed hearing the way Ms. Cassidy became interested in technology. I found it very interesting that she has not always been a computer geek. I like the fact that she was given computers and took it upon herself to find an integral use for them in her classroom. After watching the video with her students, it was very apparent that the children really love the work being done with technology in the classroom. The children mentioned loving an audience. There are several benefits to children having a worldwide audience. Ms. Cassidy mentions in her Skype interview that there is a cluster on her class blog that shows students where the visitors of their blogs are from. I can only imagine how much it would excite a student in Alabama to get a comment from another student in Italy. The possibilities of personal and educational connections are limitless. Collaboration with students all over the world is a wonderful way to teach students to have an open mind and consider the many different ways traditions or everyday tasks are performed in different areas of the world. The children also commented that they felt their writing was improving each day. Ms. Cassidy contributes this partially to the fact that her first graders want to impress the viewers of their blog. She states in her Skype interview that her children become so excited when a post they wrote receives a large number of page reads. This is another way to get children excited to learn.
In Ms. Cassidy's Skype interview, she shared with the EDM 310 class her views on technology in the classroom and its extreme importance. She stresses the idea that technology will not go away. The world is forever changing and we will need every aspect of technology to change with it. So how then would teachers expect to stay stagnant? Then, would we not be teaching our youngsters the ways of the past? Sure, some information may stay the same but the ways in which we find it, use it, and apply it are rapidly changing. Furthermore, I believe it is ignorant of us as teachers to expect our children to come into a classroom eager to learn if we are unwilling to perform that task ourselves. What kind of example is that for our youth? It was very comforting to hear Ms. Cassidy speak on the use of her PLN. I must admit that I am a bit overwhelmed of what my first experience in the schools will be like in a few months. It put my mind at ease a little to know that with the use of Twitter, nings, plurk, or various other networking sites, I can build a solid PLN to ensure my intellectual journey will never cease.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Post #10

Reading a schedule centered around standardized testing.

Do You Teach Or Do You Educate?
I have actually been looking forward to writing this blog post. I was browsing the list of posts for the semester a few weeks back when I saw the video titled, "Do you teach or do you educate?" I have always believed that these two words might be synonyms; however, they are not interchangeable terms. The verb to teach gives a much more rigid connotation of learning than to educate. When studying the definition given in this video of "to teach," I felt as though this definition conveyed teaching as a boring profession, thus making learning a boring task for children. Educating is not about drilling facts into the students. Educating, as defined by google is "to give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to someone (especially a child.)" As educators, it is our job and hopefully our desire to build well rounded, thoughtful, upstanding children and instill in them an excitement to learn.
I hope to be known as an educator to my students, instead of just their 2nd or 3rd grade teacher. As this powerful video states, to be an effective educator one must "illuminate, inspire, and empower." I do not want to lose focus on the academic content my students should be gaining knowledge of in my classroom; I would simply like to present it in a way that excites them to learn it. I don't know all the ways I plan to do this yet, but I do know that this class has given me ample tools to answer that question. I hope to continue to learn and keep my educating fire lit in order to constantly have new ideas to inspire my children.
I also do not believe that educating focuses solely on the content at hand. I believe educating combines character building as well. This should be the fun part of teaching for us in the biz! We get to play with our students, nurture them, and guide them. This part of the profession can be so rewarding if done properly. The teachers I remember most are the ones who were there for me, who gave me sound advice, and guided me through a rough spot (whether it be with the subject matter or an area totally unrelated to academics). To educate is not to simply give students the information and let it fester in their minds; it is to show them how to find it, use it, and relate to it. There are numerous resources available that give children the ability to search for information, as well as tools for the teacher that will allow us to make learning more involved and interactive. I also believe it is key in educating for us to use these tools to the very best of our advantage in order to provide a valuable learning experience for everyone! This will further the character building by conveying the message that everyone's experience matters equally and no matter what the student's hinderance, he or she CAN and should learn in a fun environment.
Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home.
Funnily enough, when I first began reading Mr. Spencer's blog post, I could actually see an issue with students carrying pencils in their pockets (depending on the age, of course). I know my son is a little young to use as a reference, but whenever he gets a hold of a pencil, it's moments before he starts trying to poke himself in the nose or ear with it. I would have never dreamed that the issue this administrator was wishing to discuss was related to simply not using pencils because of test scores. That really makes about as little sense as having puppy dogs teach our students. I can't follow this logic to save my life. First of all, I should state that I don't entirely follow the logic of standardized tests to begin with, but that is a conversation for another day. Tom Johnson is very clear that he believes in exciting students to want to learn through whatever methods possible. He wants students to realize that learning can ignite a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm. Students will only see this if education is delivered in a fun and interactive way. Pencils are not his main point. He is a very creative man, and that is exactly what our education field is in great need of. He is simply using a tool (a very common and inexpensive tool) to provoke a passion for learning.
The first point I noticed in this blog post was the complete unwillingness for change and further learning by Gertrude. Her statement, "It is what it is," is a perfect example of an administrator with no desire to understand the rules she is given. "If we don't know, let's find out," as a wise man once told me. Gertrude does not want to find out. She wants to coast along playing by the rules and thus adding no depth or flavor to her children's learning experience.
Mr. Johnson however, believes in reaching to the peaks of mountains to find a tool to enhance his children's desire to learn. He doesn't care what the tool is, only that it empowers his students to continue learning inside and outside of the classroom. I really enjoy his approach that students in low income areas consider pencils entertainment. He is trying to convey to his students that pencils can be used for entertainment and that entertainment can be educational as well. Hang Man may have an offensive title, but that's easy to change. Alter the game so the students are watching a flower grown instead of hanging a man, and VOILA! it's a beautiful game that could teach the parts of a flower and how to spell a word.
Mr. Johnson also brings up a good point to Gertrude when he questions her need for pencil accountability in the household. He doesn't believe that he needs to hold them accountable because he has enough faith in the projects he is providing for outside classwork and is also open to the projects they create on their own.
I really enjoy the constant learning, free thinking, yet still structured approach Mr. Spencer/Johnson takes on education as a whole and am really excited to add him to my PLN!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

C4T #3

For these past comments on a teacher's blog, I have been reading the work of none other than our very own, Dr. Strange. In fact, I read the blogs that directly pertained to our class. They focused on satire and sarcasm (two of my very favorite literary devices) and plagiarism. We have all heard Dr. Strange's thoughts on these three subjects, but let's reflect. Dr. Strange voices his extreme shock and disgust with his young grasshoppers when some of us (35% to be exact) missed Scott McLeod's sarcastic nature in the blog "Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?" To some, Dr. Strange's critique of his student's lack of understanding might seem a bit harsh. However, sarcasm and satire are very important literary devices to teach children in order to add humor and depth to their creative writing, as well as important devices to know for teachers to deal with their student's attitudes.

Quote asking if sarcasm still holds humor after explanation.

Dr. Strange also touches on the subject of plagiarism. If any one of us were under the impression that plagiarism was not something to take seriously, Dr. Strange certainly should have changed our minds with his post and lecture in class. Plagiarism is considered stealing in terms of the law and something the author of the material will rightfully take very seriously. Dr. Strange gives us some great ways to ensure that we will not be charged with this heinous academic crime. Hopefully after reading Dr. Strange's advice, including always putting material quoted from another author in quotes and citing our source, we will be better equipped to avoid any charges of plagiarism. Another idea that could be very useful (and would allow students to dodge accusations at all) would be to get creative! Put someone else's thoughts in your own words! Interpret what the author says and make it your own.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog Post #9

A diagram of the benefits of positive thinking.

What all did Mr. McClung learn?
While the idea to write a reflective blog post seems like a no-brainer, I am surprised at the teachers who rarely take the time to scan through their mind and extract the valuable lessons learned over the course of the year(s). I can't help but wonder if those teachers are really taking enough away from their profession. In my humble opinion, I can't think of a more rewarding career than to be a teacher, and I want to do everything in my power to take away all the beauty I can from this astounding profession. It should go without saying that the main source of joy for any good teacher comes from their children. I don't believe this is always the case, but it certainly seems to be with Mr. McClung.
Mr. McClung constantly refers to how important his students are to him throughout his years. During his first year, he states "he lost touch with his audience" and began making lesson plans that weren't quite as student centered. One important lesson I took from this experience of his, was that your audience has an audience too, and that audience is you! By this I mean, it is important to consider how your students view the lesson being taught, methods used, tools utilized, etc. more so than it is to worry if the lesson is flawless or if you look or feel silly teaching it. While it is extremely- and I mean extremely- important that future educators set out on a quest to make learning interesting for students, we shan't lose sight of their understanding. It is not impossible to integrate the two.
Mr. McClung also addresses the issue of communication. Communication, you say? Aren't we all in college and should know perfectly well how to communicate with others? Well now, we all know that is not the case (especially those of us who happen to be married). I fully believe that teachers should learn to communicate with one another, supervisors, superintendents, students, parents, extracurricular educators, and even bus drivers via technology but also face to face. When trying to create a comfortable environment where teachers feel supported, eye contact, body language, and tone are such important skills to master. This brings me to another one of Mr. McClung's points of interest. He speaks in regards to his last year of teaching that feeling supported by all of his teachers or administrators was not of utmost importance to him. He claims that he is ok not fitting in, and actually enjoys its ramifications. I have seen the "teacher clicks" with my own two eyes at the school where my mom teaches. I have seen and heard of teachers talking amongst themselves about which teacher is too involved, or which one is too loud, or which one doesn't make her kids mind, and the list could go on. I really enjoy Mr. McClung's point of view. He believes that as long as he is providing the best, most effective, and entertaining instruction for his students, then fitting in doesn't matter. He also states that he has one teacher he talks to on a regular basis. This teacher is his sole support and he draws a lot of inspiration from her. I really admire his ability to overcome the negative feedback or shots to his optimism. I can only hope that I will be able to overcome those obstacles and stay afloat in the same way.
Of course Mr. McClung also touches on technology and lifelong learning. He emphasizes what we have all been forced to realize this semester: educational tools- be they technological, artistic, or some other medium- are forever changing. Teaching is not a field where it is appropriate to sit back and just let the good times roll. There are so few constants in our world that we must constantly stay up to date for the sake of our children.
I really enjoyed reading Mr. McClung's reflective post and I believe it gave me a lot of great ideas and insight into what I have already learned from this class, as well as from my educational experience in general. Once again, the knowledge I gained from the media presented in this class has fired me up to be a teacher! Thanks, Dr. Strange, Mr. McClung, and Mr. Chamberlain!

Girl running, Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that we become rich.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog Post #8

This is How we Dream

So, call me naive but I feel as though Dr. Strange and possibly several other teachers (that I have yet to have as I am new to USA this semester) are doing a fantastic job of preparing us for the educational world Dr. Miller speaks of. Dr. Richard Miller has been a professor at Rutgers University for over 16 years and is the head of their English Department. He takes reading and writing very seriously and is more than prepared to modify those fundamental subjects to be shared within an instant, all around the world. Dr. Miller outlines a few "incremental changes" which include making print documents also visible online, enhancing projects with visual and audio components, and being able to see the news as it is happening via live feed from newspapers such as the New York Times.
I truly believe that my classmates and I have been a part of this revolution for quite some time. While there are still some classes that stick to the paper and pen, book learning technique, there are several others that encourage us to use web references, add pictures to our projects, find music that is relevant to our topic, and work with others in different regions via internet collaboration. While these classrooms may be considered too few and far between by multimedia enthusiasts, I believe it is better that we get there in small steps than to take none at all.
Dr. Miller also brings a compelling argument for what he believes to be a fundamental change. He feels that with the technology at hand allowing material to be instantly uploaded and composed from several different sources, shared globally, and even altered according to the viewer-in a separate production, we will be able to "push ideas into our culture" freely and instantly. I agree whole-heartedly when Dr. Miller states that information is not one's to capture and hold close forever. It is meant to circulate, change, and inspire just to name a few. He has an idea that because of our expanding worldwide web and the many different tools becoming available to us each day, there should be very few limits in the way we learn, collaborate, write, explain, teach, and simply live. Dr. Miller states in the second part of "This is How we Dream," that the "only limitations we are facing are the ones we put on ourselves." I'm beginning to see a pattern. Are you? Recall what Dr. Pausch said about brick walls. Dr. Miller's and Dr. Pausch's ideas seem to run parallel. The main idea being anything is possible! Dr. Miller goes on to insinuate that by sharing ideas with others and keeping our lines of communication open with educators throughout the world using various internet tools, our culture will come together in the name of multimedia writing and learning to produce a fascinating fundamental change in the name of education.

We need to be dreaming harder on purple background

Carly Pugh's Blog Post #12
As I told Carly in my comment on her blog, I was really blown away not only by her idea but by the videos themselves. As I am someone with terrible decision skills as well, I could certainly see how this YouTube playlist idea made its way into Carly's mind. I would go so far as to argue that this is a phenomenal example of multimedia writing. First of all, Carly shared with many others (and did so instantly), her ideas on education and its philosophy in a creative way that will forever be visible on the internet. Her ideas will not die and will be circulated in the educational community. I really enjoyed watching her videos and some of them gave me a little inspiration for ideas on lesson plans and tools that would be infinitely helpful in the classroom. I feel just knowing about the YouTube playlist will open several doors for the way I will use video in my classroom. Thanks again, Carly!

The Chipper Series and EDM310 For Dummies
While I must admit that I found "The Chipper Series" really amusing, I would like to think that students who are mature enough to be enrolled in this class would be able to fully recognize the sarcasm portrayed by Ms. Jamie Lynn. However, while some students may realize the video is satirical, that is not to say it's not still happening. Chipper's journey seems similar to my first college experience. I really was not ready to be fully involved in college courses and I could not meet all the expectations I needed to, so I decided that waitressing was the way to go! Like Chipper says, it's great money! That's not really true at all. After finding this out the hard way, a husband, and a baby later, I'm back here sitting in Dr. Strange's EDM310 lab wishing that I knew how to NOT procrastinate. I must admit that I am exponentially better than a few years ago, but I know enough to know I could use some work.
I loved the idea of EDM310 For Dummies. I was seriously hoping this book really existed. I actually perused the internet hoping I would stumble upon something similar. No such luck. I think these girls do a fantastic job portraying the fright that is overwhelming at the beginning of this course.
I have been thinking recently of movies that I would like to create. I was having a hard time coming up with just one idea. My poor fickle brain had about twenty zillion ideas floating around that barely made one cohesive thought. And then it hit me! Why not do a sequel, so to speak of "EDM 310 For Dummies?" It could be compiled of tutorials by students on the many different aspects of EDM310 that freak everybody out! Students could be split into groups...maybe I'll stop right here and use this for my "Create your own project" post. I hope you get the general idea though.

Uncle Sam wants you to turn off your cell phones.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn
This video really spoke to me from its very beginning statements. This video opens with profound statements such as the US being ranked last (55 out of 55 sectors surveyed) in terms of technological intensity. How could this statement not knock you out of your chair? It's horrifying! As stated in the video, education is ranked "after coal mining" in terms of its "IT intensiveness." Aren't educators prepping our children for the future? How do we possibly expect to do so if they develop such few technological skills in the classroom? We are entering an era where communication and literacy are being totally redefined. Children are learning these technologies but they are not learning them in the classroom. They need to learn the appropriate sites to venture for their security, how to create blogs, with whom they should be tweeting, how to master wordle, how to create a wikispace, and so much more. All these tools would be so beneficial to children of all ages, and yet somehow we ban the very machines that make this work possible in the schools. Teachers have to be on the verge of emerging technology as well. Even if students will not be allowed to participate in the e-learning experience at school, the teacher can certainly facilitate that type of learning outside the classroom.

Project 11-Short Movie

Project 12 Book Trailer

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Project 9b A Fascinating Portrayal of a Fascinating Man- Theodor Seuss Geisel

Blog Post #7

The Last Lecture

Wow! First of all, I was very surprised that I could listen to an entire hour and fifteen minute lecture in one sitting! Randy Pausch was a computer science professor, practically unheard of until he delivered his "Last Lecture" in September of 2007. Less than a year after this lecture on Achieving Your Childhood Dreams was given, Randy died due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47 years old and left behind a beautiful wife and 3 young children. The irony of this lecture is that the title was not created for Dr. Pausch specifically. The premise for this lecture had been in place for years. Professors were asked to give a lecture on anything, and deliver it as if it were going to be their last. However, this proposition was a bit too real to Randy Pausch.

This picture is a perfect portrayal of how Randy Pausch lived his life. Your family can do incredible things too!

Randy Pausch and family in Incredibles halloween costume

When I first started listening, I was a little upset that he wasn't going to talk about his wife and children and put on a sob story. I was ready for a real emotional roller coaster. I even had tissues sitting by the computer. The message he delivers is so much more powerful, though. As Dr. Pausch exclaims at the end of his lecture, "it is not about achieving your childhood dreams, it's about how to live your life!" I truly admire the fact that he went to great lengths and took tremendous pride in helping other's achieve their dreams as well. He believed very strongly in giving students the freedom to learn. He speaks of being surprised with what his undergraduate students could do with limited tools and limited time. Yet, instead of letting the students know about his complete shock, he sets no bar for how high they will soar. I can think back on my earlier college days and wish that this same method was applied to me. If I knew exactly what was on a test, exactly what had to be included in a project, I certainly stuck to JUST that. Now, I think of EDM 310 as an example. I know the minimum of what is expected of me but I also know that won't get me the grade I'm striving for. I know that I need to put forth as much effort as I possibly can and investigate with many tools and great fervor. I'm under the assumption that I need to continually push myself and do more in order to get an "A." It's the unknown that makes me work harder. Throughout his entire lecture, it is written all over Dr. Pausch's face how much joy he gets out of his student's work. It is really apparent that he enjoys his subject matter but most importantly his students. He remembers many students by name and course, which is shocking since he stated his memory was not up to par. He truly believes teaching is a privilege.
Dr. Pausch states that "pioneering" will result in many arrows in one's back and often times what can go wrong, will. It is all worth it though for the fun and the learning. This is such a positive and contagious lesson to learn! There are so many endeavors, or simply days I have had that did not go "my way" in the least. This lecture taught me to look at the bigger picture of it all. One of the main facets of this lecture that I plan to use in my career is what a huge influence peer feedback is because it helps us to become self-reflective. While it may take time for some of us to recognize this feedback as constructive and get off the defense, once that is accomplished self reflection will be the greatest tool to success. Dr. Pausch says when you are doing something wrong and no one is there to correct you, they have given up on you. I believe this to be a very valuable lesson to all those Defensive Debbies and Dans out there. Criticism is not meant to bring us down, but rather to help us rise up and use that advice to build on our character and skills.
I also loved the photographs of his old boyhood bedroom. I must say I fully agree with granting your children freedom to express themselves at any age, in almost any way. Having said that, I am currently in a battle with my child against coloring in Sharpie on every surface in the house. I'm not exactly sure what he's trying to express though. Dr. Pausch has such a phenomenal outlook on difficult tasks. It seems as though he rarely views anything as an impossibility. In fact, Dr. Pausch even states that it is fun to do the impossible. These simple ideas are the key to making our lives and days easier to get through. If we can stop treating every mole hill as a mountain, tasks will be so much more manageable.
The aspect of this lecture I could relate most to was Dr. Pausch's idea of a "head fake." He states the most powerful way to teach someone something is to make them think they are learning something much easier. I recently experienced this for myself. At the start of this semester it would seem that I was merely setting out to learn how to become an elementary teacher and I was fired up to kick off the school year. This is just the tip on my iceberg of obstacles so far. First off, I was forced to put my child in daycare which is something we swore would never happen until preschool. The hardest lesson I am learning this term is to walk out of the classroom as my son stares up at me with the most beautiful, piercing, sad eyes. Of course I am learning how to manage my time between work, family, and school as well, and create a new budget due to the decrease in my work hours. If only I could have continued faking myself into thinking it was just about my career. That's one reason that degrees are so essential. College is not just about the classes you attend, but the life lessons you pick up and carry with you forever.
Dr. Pausch had an amazing way of captivating an audience and along the way outlined the characteristics of an amazing teacher. This is without a doubt a lecture that should be watched by anyone entering the teaching profession. He gives such vivid examples of why our educators must possess integrity, humility, perseverance, optimism, gratitude, and understanding. This message cannot be ignored!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Project #10 1st summary of My PLN

This is a globe showing the way Twitter can connect people to each other.

When I first heard of a PLN, I really thought it only applied to the neat layout we saw that intelligent 7th grader put together. Upon further investigation, I realized that everyone has a PLN whether they realize it or not. As wikipedia states, "a personal learning network consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from." While a personal learning network does not have to consist of just people, I believe it is very beneficial for educators specifically to surround themselves with others in the same field in order to derive new and exciting ideas on how to engage their students. Let's face it, making learning exciting for students is no walk in the park!
I am currently getting some very unique ideas from the student, class, and teacher blogs that I have been researching for this class. The class blogs with wikispaces, puzzles, videos, and many more interactive tools are becoming very useful resources for me. I am also enjoying Twitter. However, to be entirely honest, I feel as though I could obtain far more support and knowledge from Twitter if I devoted a bit more time to it. I also enjoy the Educator's PLN website. I have found many videos, lesson plans, and other educators here that I believe will continue to be a support group for me throughout me career. Google Docs (a tool I was just introduced to via this class) has become one of my most visited pages in order to store most of the documents received in my e-mail, as well as to keep up with my project due dates for EDM310. The EDM 310 class blog is another one of my most frequently visited pages. I have also been thinking of many ways that I could incorporate Timetoast into my lesson plans. I really enjoy the idea of an interactive time line that requires online research with links, and pictures.
My PLN differs greatly from when I first entered this class. I find it amazing how many tools and resources I have found that will help me in the future. I know that I will continue to enhance the tools I have already been given, investigate new ones, and hopefully contribute to other's personal learning environment as well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

C4T #2

Artistic coke bottle
Mr. John Burrows

Like Dr. Strange has tried to drill in our fickle little minds, reading teacher's blogs is a fantastic way to build our PLN as educators and see new creative ideas for our future classrooms. I recently reviewed a class blog kept up by Mr. John Burrows and was very pleased to see some of the work he is engaging his students in. I am also quite interested in his personal photography page since my husband is in the process of starting his own photography company and website. Check out Mr. Burrows' very unique pictures on this website.
In his classroom, Mr. Burrows takes some very interesting approaches to integrating arts and education. For one project he had his students research mythical creatures and create them out of clay. He remarks on his student blog that the students who struggled with 2D work did exceptionally well with 3D work. I can certainly understand this obstacle as I am no good at pen and paper; however, give me some play-dough and you sure would be surprised! The student's sculptures were weird, neat, inventive, and seriously showed their imagination. I also enjoy the fact that he had them do some research before just setting forth on their clay journey. I believe it's important to integrate art in the academic classroom as well as vice versa. Plus, once learning a bit about these creatures, the students had a better grasp on how to portray them. For example, one student sculpted Buddha and added some very intricate beads around his neck. I certainly would be proud to call that my student's artwork.
The next blog post of Mr. Burrows' I commented on was his student's own portrayal of a still-life he had set out across two desks. Once again, he did not simply give the students a topic to draw. He set out figures across two desks and the students were to draw their own interpretation using only pen and paper. Some of the students drew the entire span of the desks, while some only drew one particular figure that stood out to them. It was apparent to me that the children were very engaged in the work Mr. Burrows was having them do. They really seemed to put a lot of effort into it and it really was a pleasure to look at each one in detail. These students shocked me at what could be done with just pencil and paper.
I truly enjoy taking a look at the different projects different teachers do with their students. Another reason I really am enjoying this class is the variety of educators we are coming in contact with. Had I not been introduced to this class, I don't know that I would have thought to investigate high school art teacher's projects. I'm learning not to limit myself and investigate!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blog Post #6

The Networked Student

I really enjoyed taking certain points of view from Mrs. Drexler's "Networked Student;" however I don't know that I feel comfortable or that it is appropriate to apply this student's learning experiences to all classrooms and subjects. I fully believe that students should be familiar with the various tools offered on the internet. Once students realize that they are fostering, creating, judging, and planning their own learning experience, I can only imagine their interests will sky rocket. By teaching students to use the infinite resources just a click away, children will become much more eagerly involved. Students are no longer being forced to sit still at a desk, look up information through an outdated textbook and copy it back just as they saw it. What is the point in that? Isn't that the question Dr. Strange has been asking for years?
Empowering students through technology as well as positive support is of utmost importance; but how do the students learn the proper tools and how to implement them to enhance their learning experience? The teacher! We are still an integral part of their learning experience. Educators must be present for moral and academic support equally. Students first need to be aware of the safety of the sites from which they obtain their information. Teachers will also guide the students on how to use many different tools to further expand their knowledge, such as blogs, wikispaces, and social media. While our cartoon paper student did a remarkable job finding valuable information and I am sure is infinitely wiser about the human psyche than when he first began, it is the act of finding, organizing, and being proud of his work that should really speak for itself.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe that the networked student should make an appearance in every classroom, every hour of the week. I truly love the idea of implanting students with the knowledge to create their own intellectual journey and fully believe that this idea will empower students to achieve a new level of learning. I also agree that students who are taught these tools, how to use them, and their benefits will appreciate learning in a whole new light. For this, I am jealous. I know many of you reading this can go back to your school days (some of us that requires a little longer trip down memory lane) and the first thing that comes to mind is trying not to fall asleep as your number two pencil slowly rolls of your desk, teacher still mumbling along, as you peacefully slip into dreamland and away from trigonometry. Getting students involved on the web and connecting with others is an incredible way to ignite interest. However, I also believe there are other tools besides the web that can be used to spark children's excitement. I agree with Dr. Strange, Mrs. Drexler, and others that lecturing is becoming out of date and for that we should celebrate! I would love to integrate my new found love and exploration of technology into different activities throughout the classroom. For example, when teaching a lesson on Mexico, I could let the children make sombreros and wear them as we learn the salsa. Next, the students could upload the video of the class doing a salsa dance as well as their sombrero picture onto their blog! The students would be able to get feedback from others all over the world, possibly even Mexico! I am so excited to learn more about the networked student and how to appropriately incorporate him/her into my classroom.

This is a peace sign made out of flowers.

A 7th grader's PLN

The first thing that spoke to me about this video was how proud I would be of this young lady if she were my daughter or student. She enunciates her words very well and clearly explains the points she means to get across to her viewers. One of the things that immediately impressed me was how organized all of her projects, agendas, and networks look. She later brings up the fact that network learning is different from pen and paper in the sense that it looks "cool" and "neat" when finished. Her PLE perfectly demonstrates this. I couldn't believe how helpful this learning environment would be to students, especially those who are disorganized or are very busy with extracurricular activities. I loved the notetaking program, and social bookmarking account. The idea of creating a certification report and publishing it in order to allow the students to hold animals is a perfect example of how I would like to integrate technology into my classroom as well.
I can honestly say that this student's PLN is a bit more extensive than mine would be at the moment. Yes, that is a little embarrassing but also motivational. I would love to include the notetaking, social bookmarking, glogster, and blog accounts in my PLN also. This young lady has really opened my mind and given me new ideas of websites and web related activities to investigate. I was a bit unfamiliar with PLNs, so I googled PLN in education and was taken to this wonderful website. It has links to several videos, forums, and blogs by educators we have already read about. Check it out! That's what I'm going to do right now!
During my brief view of this website, I came across this video. Watch it. If the Classics Academy doesn't appeal to you, what does that say about you as a 21st century teacher?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

C4K #1

Commenting on kid’s blog posts was such a joy! I loved delving into their little, yet vast minds. I believe it is a great way for us as future educators to get a feel for what children enjoy and dislike in the classroom, as well as allowing students to showcase their creativity and get feedback from people all over the world.


I absolutely loved reading about the Pt. England School in New Zealand. It was awesome to look around their class blogs and get a tiny peek into their educational culture. They seemed like a very interactive, involved, and motivated school and class. I really enjoyed how Stevie mentioned the good things that he AND his classmates did. I thought that showed great sportsmanship. I asked Stevie if he thought that the numerous team activities they did strenghtened his ability to work well with his classmates. Maybe he'll respond and shed a little light into that subject. Their class had a silly sports activity day where they played games like squeezing sponges to fill buckets up the fastest, and a fun tennis race that kind of sounded like a three legged race to me. I asked him for a little further explanation because he seemed to really love that game.

The following week I read a child's blog from Mr. Wolfe's class. All of the children in Mr. Wolfe's class had great things to say about him as a teacher. I definitely got the vibe that he enjoys making learning a worthwhile and interactive experience for his students. The child whose blog I read wrote a very short post saying he thought Mr. Wolfe was awesome! I decided to read more of his material later and I found out that he is in fact, a very creative and detailed writer. This finding furthers my theory that creating student/class blogs is a fantastic way to foster creative writing in young students. I believe often times children lose their passion for writing, or whatever the subject if it is made boring by a certain teacher. It takes a long time for one teacher to reignite the fire another let smolder.

We were given the pleasure to get a glimpse into the Mobile County schools for our third assignment. As I watched the video put on by Mr. Capps in the St. Elmo school, I began to feel very excited that this will be me one day soon. Not only did I enjoy watching the kids get so involved, I also liked seeing how much it fired Anthony up to see what he created with the children. I can imagine it's a pretty good feeling to realize you have created an exciting, challenging, and rewarding day for your students! The children, especially Josie, were thrilled to be on camera. It was obvious they were very proud of their self portraits as well as their ability to share their similarities and differences with everyone else. I think this a wonderful way to teach children art, self exploration, and professional and personal skills (by being on camera). Kudos to Mr. Capps and his adventurous explorers!

Lastly, I read about Natty's avatar in Sydney, Australia. Her blog was so interesting to look around on. It was filled with fun pictures, interactive clocks, information about her visitors and where she lives, and many more entertaining widgets. Natty is a part of the Student Blogging Challenge that takes place for ten weeks every March and September. She vividly and clearly described her Avatar which was a combination of many different animals ranging from a polar bear to a spider. I loved her bright imagination and spirit! I believe these blogging contests to be an innovative twist on Creative writing contests. Blogging keeps creative writing an integral part of the curriculum while also allowing students to interact, derive ideas, and learn about other student's cultures.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blog Post # 5

Do you know any teachers who are terrified of getting out of the traditional teaching method taught in schools like this one? Don't let their paranoia get you down! Rise above and let's progress!

This is the inside of a classroom from the 1900s.

Don't teach your kids this stuff, please?
Dr. McLeod is a man very involved and expressively interested in the integration of technology in the classroom. The center he created, CASTLE (Center for the Advanced Study of Technological Leadership in Education)is the only center in the nation dedicated to meeting the technological needs of school system administrators. Because like Mr. McLeod says on his home page, "If the leaders don't get it, it's not going to happen." His views on incorporating technology into the classroom in as many ways as possible are intent and he believes there is no excuse for educators to still be in the dark in regards to online learning. In Mr. McLeod's hilarious, sarcastic post "Don't teach your kids this stuff, please" he fervently begs future educators not to be so naive as to neglect integrating technology into the classroom. One reason I really enjoy the way he approaches this issue is how he lists all of the innovative, fun, enlightening ways that children learn through online resources and sarcastically implies they are dangerous and silly. For example, he insists that students don't need to be taught how to make a movie or write online because an audience is not important. All teachers, board members, parents, and administrators know that is simply untrue. Why would students participate in piano or dance recitals or soccer games? I also enjoy that he introduces the fears that give some old school teachers reservations about using the internet with children. Mr. McLeod believes that educators, and all those involved in our young minds' lives should be familiar enough with their technology to know what is safe and what is not. I must agree and I believe this post is a hilarious wake up call to all those parents, teachers, administrators, and board members to investigate all the ever changing, creative, and inventive ways our children can virtually learn.
The iSchool Initiative
Immediately after watching Travis Allen's video, I told my husband, "I have to work in a school with technology like this!" While I still would love to work in a school like St. Elmo that just received iPads from Ms. Lucy Buffet, I am also aware that I can be the one to bring technology such as that to my school. Mr. Allen is such an inspiration to jumping on the mobile learning train. His young enthusiasm is so contagious! It is really amazing to me what a 17 year old who is passionate enough about a cause can come up with. I was truly fascinated hearing the amount of money the iSchool initiative could save per student. In his first video created when he was 17 in 2009, Mr. Allen quotes that the iSchool initiative could save up to $600 per student per school year, not to mention the indescribable good we would do for our ecostystem. Some of the apps that caught my eye that Travis mentioned were the StarWalk app for astronomy and the formula app for math and science classes. My weaknesses just happen to be math and science so having a more intriguing way to explore those subjects is very appealing to me. I also like the fact that the students can record what a teacher is saying and have the benefit of repeating the lecture or instructions while away from the classroom. This feature would also come in handy for students who were absent from class, or needed further guidance.
I can honestly say the more I read from more educators and aspiring educators, the more excited I become! I believe this mobile learning experience is an absolute necessity. We are all born into an age that is moving only more toward technology integration. There is no better time than the present to become familiar, and what better tools for implementing these ideas than our brilliant minds of the future. Once teachers can get the ideas across to their students that technology is fun, easy, and exciting they will become immediately interested when they receive positive feedback and intellectual freedom.
Now, this video is a little slow moving, (not the actual speed of the download)however; it is a great way of showing that students of all ages are capable of mobile learning given the right tools and a positive attitude! Some teachers and critics say that kindergarten students are too young to use iPads in the classroom. Since when did it become too young to learn with different tools, or to share your budding creative ideas with the rest of the world? Maybe this new, huge sense of responsibility for the iPads will also instill a sense of responsibility and the want to care for their property. Also, watch how well behaved they are around these engaging learning tools.

Teaching Kindergarten with iPads :) from HiTech Princess on Vimeo.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
Amazing!! I must admit that I cannot listen to a lot of this particular type of music but the idea behind it is really wonderful. In fact, I put my son to sleep tonight by playing him "Sleep," another virtual choir song put together by Mr. Whitacre. I also read that he is putting together a piece called "Good Night Moon," which is a children's book that every child I have ever babysat or had, has been fully in love with. I like the fact that Eric Whitacre is using music and technology to educate, connect, and inspire millions across the world.
Teaching in the 21st century
I truly enjoyed the ideas and enthusiasm presented in this video. I was hooked when I saw the perspective on students being able to readily access information on data, statistics, theories, and stories without the need of the teacher anymore. I really enjoyed the idea that teachers are merely the filters and counselors for students to set forth on their academic journey and find the information for themselves. I really liked the ideas of interactive projects, questions, and homework to be given to encourage technology integration inside and outside the classroom. One issue I saw with this was the fact that not all students have access to computers or an internet connection. This could possibly be solved by the teacher allowing the students to come in early or stay later. Another option could be to space the engaging activities out over a few days or a week and incorporate them into classroom activities as well. I truly agree with the perspectives and the ideas meant to challenge the way we view educating today's students- but more importantly, today's future. I could understand how this video could come off as an abrupt and radical to teachers still in the old school form of teaching. For example, there are some teachers who still hold so highly their ability to cram information into students and brag on their standardized testing scores. These new, innovative, and ENGAGING ideas do not focus enough on test scores for some teachers. It is time to realize the generation we are educating!
I don't believe that the idea that the teacher's role is obsolete is entirely true. It is the teacher's position to challenge his/herself to stay up to date with the technology that the students of this era need to be properly exposed to. This video stresses the importance of making all technological use in the classroom relevant to the age and subject matter being used. However, this should not be a hard assignment if the teacher is willing to get creative with his/her activities.
I like the fact that this video gives ideas on how to adapt mobile learning for every possible level of learner. I believe internet resources could be a great tool to use to encourage disinterested students, struggling, ADHD, and many other types of children who need an extra boost to realize learning is fun!
In all, I can definitely say that once again these video assignments have inspired to me learn more, research more, think more, investigate more, blog more, create more, teach more, impact more, and engage more! I feel very fortunate that I will be able to look back on this blog to see how my views have changed as well as this class blog once the semester is over. I feel like these videos are opening my eyes to new perspectives through all sorts of resources with every assignment I take on.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog Post #4

Not even out of diapers, and she can podcast! What does this say about our students?! We better get ready!

This is a baby wearing headphones and listening to her iPod.

I was very thankful to have this assignment and receive a little guidance on podcast/vodcast tutorials. I loved seeing all of the children interviewed genuinely enjoying learning through podcasting. Mr. Joe Dale has a video entitled "The Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom." After watching this video, I had my pocast fire lit! I learned the many different ways children can put their creative abilities to use via podcasts. For example, children can create a play, interview, perform a battle reenactment (with reasonable props, of course), make a book report, etc.
This video demonstrates the wide variety of topics that children can choose to do a podcast on. Children could choose any topic, whether or not to make it a video, how to discuss their topic, or what props if any to use. These options give students a generous amount of freedom, but also a sense of accomplishment once they have finished doing a podcast on a topic they truly love. Along with assigning "freebie" podcast topics, students could also create podcasts to talk about the presidents of the United States, for instance. They could dress up or pretend to interview them from the grave. The children interviewed in Mr. Dale's video had wonderful, uplifting things to say about learning through podcasting. I liked the fact the children not only enjoyed learning by putting on the podcasts, but they also enjoyed listening to podcasts put on by teachers. The teachers read stories and acted out important events in history on a podcast. The whole classroom was enthralled.
I also enjoyed listening to the audiobooks done by first graders. Silvia Tolisano read her first grade students a series of books they became very interested in, The Magic Tree House Series. I love the fact that she created a podcast book report because this will allow these books to stand out in their minds. The children gave fantastic detail on the plot, and some who acted out scenes from the book did so very clearly and enthusiastically! It is so amazing what first graders can do when they're taken away from the daily grind. These types of videos are so inspiring!
From these videos I learned the difference in a vodcast and a podcast. I also got some great ideas for websites that have free software and coding programs. I especially love the creative podcast ideas given by other fellow educators. It is always refreshing to receive a little inspiration from others with similar interests in enhancing our future minds!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog Post #3

1. Peer Editing Tips

These peer editing tips have given me a lot of good ideas of how to improve on my comments for classmates. I recently had a lab assistant tell me one benefit to commenting on a classmate's blog is because it gives them an outside opinion of how their opinions come across to others. I have never thought of peer editing quite that way before, but I like that point of view. As I commented on my classmate's post, I was a bit hesitant to comment on any of the grammatical or spelling errors. I would like to change that hesitation for my next post and use these tips I have learned to let my peer understand how appreciated their views are, as well as critique any grammatical, sentence, or organization errors that might confuse other readers. I loved the slide show tutorial on peer editing and believe that it will be very helpful to have as a link in my blog so I can review it before leaving comments for my classmates. I also appreciate how much being positive is stressed. I like this because it is so important for children to receive positive reaction to creativity as well as constructive criticism. The "Top 10 Mistakes" video was hilarious! It was great to see kids being able to poke fun at themselves like that. It also seems to be a great way for the kids to see exactly what is not acceptable to do to their peers. It's amazing to me what entertaining videos 4th and 5th graders can put on!
2.It's Not About the Technology

One of the opening sentences in Kelly Hines' video described how she felt that technology was not the sole answer to an education revolution. I immediately became interested in the rest of her post. I had recently been thinking about how much I love all the resources, creative ideas, and the new mindset and outlook I am having on the public education system. This new outlook I am having is because of all the technology I have recently been introduced to; however, I don't want it to be in the center of my focus for developing my personal theory on education. I loved her emphasis in focusing on the students instead of just the curricculum. Focus on the student because you want to, focus on technology because you want to empower your students; not because it has to be in your lesson plan. Be curious-it seems like some other bright man once said that. Another point that Mrs. Hines has that speaks to me is that in the 21st century, teachers should be working smarter, not harder. Teachers will apply their views and knowledge with the technical, art, science, and social world to change the way children see learning. This will give teachers such a sense of accomplishment.
While teaching in the 21st century isn't all about technology, it is still important to be fairly well versed in it. Teachers who aren't willing to familiarize themselves with the advancing technologies and resources aimed to enhance their teaching and learning experiences, cause other teachers to lose out on the equipment needed for such activities. Placing top of the line technology equipment in the hands of teachers who don't care to learn how to properly use these media is simply a waste of money, Mrs. Hines argues, so then it is deemed too much of a gamble to award all the teachers with these valuable tools. Mrs. Hines has some great points to help ground some of us who might be getting a little too involved in a technological curriculum.
3. Is it ok for teachers of the 21st century to be technologically illiterate?

Let me cut to the chase and answer Mr. Fisch's question, which was in summary: Is it too extreme to say that a teacher in the 21st century who is technologically illiterate and unwilling to make the effort to improve, is equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who could not read or write? Not too extreme in my opinion. Mr. Fisch is not saying that technology should control the way we teach, but rather that we should have a basic understanding of technology, and be able to rely on it as a resource for educating ourselves and students in other areas as well. I like Mr. Fisch's no excuses approach which starts off with him holding the teacher accountable, and he works his theory all the way from the principal, to the school inspector, and finally to the university professors and course programs. I must say I think Dr. Strange and our course would meet his criteria! I understand his frustration and certainly cannot say that I can blame him. Like Mrs. Hines said, if teachers are not willing to familiarize themselves with expanding technology, they are holding everyone back.
What would Karl Fisch think about this video of a technology professor at MIT arguing that technology is alienating us from personal relationships and should be "put in its place"?

4. Gary's Social Media Count

This visualization of the rapidly expanding social media would be a wonderful addition to the "Did you know?" video. It is fascinating to see right before your eyes how quickly our technological world is growing and how many more people around the world are becoming involved in these innovative new ways of communicating.

As teachers, this is once again an eye opener. Nothing is slowing down, and as educators we shouldn't be either. We are not educating students to get jobs in 2011, but rather in 2030. We cannot just teach students to replicate what they saw on a flash card and put it on paper. It is important for teachers to be concerned with our social media expansion as well to try and keep up with the many ideas being spread on the multiple networks available to us. This counter also awakened to me the idea that following Twitter (especially for professional matters) is much more influential than I had ever imagined.
5. A vision of students today

I mainly viewed this video as a teacher rather than a student. However, while thinking like the student I am, I surprisingly didn't have much in common with a lot of the statistics on the pages the other students held up. I do not spend that much time on facebook, or TV, or probably nearly as many social media as I should. However, I almost felt a little better about my lack of delving into Facebook and Twitter because it's the sooner I get completely caught up in it and let it overtake my interests in finding valuable resources to empower, excite, and engage my students and me.
From a teacher's point of view, I could see many helpful ideas in this video. One of the messages I took from this video at the very beginning was that technology in education is slowly changing, but only to those who are willing to embrace it. Embracing it does not mean playing on Facebook during your astronomy lab. It means finding different star charts, and looking through a virtual telescope, then blogging with your friend across the world who just did the same thing. Now the two kids can talk about what stars were above their heads in different locations of the world! That's taking advantage of technology in the classroom. Now, I know I have just defended social media in my previous section. I am not disregarding it as a helpful tool in the classroom, but rather that it be used at the appropriate times. Multi-tasking is also a very important part of a college student's life. For example, I was recently teaching my son to draw on paper at the table, feeding him a PB&J, checking my GoogleDocs, talking to my mom, and listening to music. Wow, aren't I talented?! No, not really any more so than the average person who has a million things on their "to do list." That is the case for most people now a days. There may be some old school folks out there who are not ready for America to move this quickly, but what is there to gain if we get left behind? Let's work on preserving the past and forging through the future!