Friday, June 28, 2013

What Teachers Make

I was browsing Tumblr today and came across this video on my dashboard. It's a poem by Taylor Mali, and he talks about what he, as a teacher, makes his students do. He touches on how teachers are often looked down upon in our society, how our society perceives teachers to be less intelligent or hardworking than people in other professions. It's a brilliant poem, and everyone in EDM310 needs to hear it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Hidden Meanings in Kid's Movies

I realize this video doesn't really relate to what we learn in EDM310, but as adults, and even as future teachers, I think it's part of our duty to teach children to respect people of all genders, nationalities, and sexualities! Our society still doesn't respect certain people, and there are often no good role models for anyone who isn't a white male. This video kind of talks about how media should offer good role models for everyone and teach our children to treat others with the respect they deserve, no matter their race, sex, gender, or sexuality. Feel free to leave a comment below!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Blog Post #15 Final Reflection

Part 1

Since Blog Post #1, I've chosen to change my major from Math to Spanish, but I think a lot of the same technologies and tools can apply. While I'll continue to encourage group work and perhaps even SMART board technology, there are a lot of tools and technologies I've learned about over the course of this semester that I would incorporate into my future classroom. Of course, I will definitely have my students keep up blogs. They could submit their writing assignments on their blogs and comment on each other's posts. I could also post assignments to a class blog that they check every day.

I will also definitely use Skype as a supplementary tool. I could use video calls with native Spanish speakers to show my students what a native Spanish speaker sounds like, and the speaker could also tell my students about some aspects of the Spanish culture! When learning a foreign language, hearing it spoken by native speakers is extremely important because it helps you get a better grasp on the intonation and pronunciation of words. Another tool I will use is the green screen. Green screens are so fun to use, and the possibilities are endless. I could have my class pretend they were in a Spanish-speaking country, and they could act like they were tour guides and show us around the country.

Part 2

Thursday, May 2, 2013

C4K Summary for April

C4K #1

My first C4K assignment for April was to read a post by Jessica R who is in Mr. Boylen's class. Her post was about what students gain from blogging with students and others outside of her school. Jessica answered that blogging helps students learn to use correct grammar. She said that blogging is worth the time because it allows students to meet new people and learn new things about different people and places.

In my comment, I said that I agreed with her. You can learn so much from blogging. It helps you improve your writing skills, and it allows you to connect with people all over the world.

C4K #2

Nolan S For my second C4K, I read Nebraska post by Nolan S. Nolan is a 4th grader at a school in Nebraska. In his post, he tells us about his home state. He says that Nebraska doesn't have any mountains, and that Nebraska invented 911. The state bird is the meadowlark, and the state tree is the Cottonwood tree. He tells us the state flag and flower, as well! Lastly, he tells us that the state beverage is milk because the diary industry is important in Nebraska.

I commented that Nebraska sounded like a cool place to live, and that I had no clue that 911 was invented there. I proceeded to tell him a few facts about Alabama, like our state bird is the Yellowhammer and our state tree is the Longleaf Pine.

C4K #3

For my third C4K, I read Easter Holiday Writing by Jai, who is a grade four student in Mrs. Morris' class in Australia! In his post, Jai tells us about the camping trip he took to Ballarat, Austrlia during his Easter holiday. He explains that his mother scattered eggs everywhere for him to find, but he didn't get to find all of them because the kangaroos took some of them! For Easter dinner, he says that he had turkey. When he got home from the camping trip, he rode his bike around on a trail in a wildlife sanctuary. He even posted a photo of one of the kangaroos from his trip:

Kangaroo from Jai's trip

I told him that I couldn't believe kangaroos stole some of his Easter eggs! I explained that I had an Easter egg hunt with my family, too, and that it was really fun. I complimented him on his post and told him I hope he'll have fun blogging.

Project #13 Using Collaborative Tools

In order to prepare for our final project, my group, The Legion of Doom, used email to communicate, and we held a Google Hangout session to discuss our ideas for our final project. The above video was recorded during our Google Hangout session, and I used Screenr to record it. As you can see, in our Hangout, some of our group members had difficulties staying connected, which could have been because of their internet connection. Next time, I would suggest we discuss our project through a Skype call, since it isn't really necessary to see each other during the discussion, in my opinion. Plus, a Skype call might have better audio quality and allow us to hear each other better.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Project #15 SmartBoard Instruction Part 2

Project #9 Final Report on PLN

Who I follow on Twitter

Over the course of EDM310, I've read many amazing blog posts by many amazing people. Hadley Ferguson, the teacher I was assigned to for my C4T #3 assignment, even left a comment on one of my blog posts! She offered to help me in any way she could! I've also connected with lots of great kids around the world through C4Ks. And, of course, I have my fellow classmates I've connected to through group projects and leaving comments! Even when I'm done with EDM310, I'll still have these people I can come to if I ever need help or if there's something I need to learn. Even when I've graduated college and I begin my career, I can still look back to my PLN and seek guidance from them if I need to.

C4T #4

Ideas and Thoughts: Learning Stuff Since 1964

My last CRT had be reading two blog posts by Dean Shareski. The first blog post I read was titled Connected From The Start. In the post, Shareski announces the publishing of a new book titled Connected from the Start by a woman named Kathy Cassidy, for which Shareski wrote the foreword. He quotes what he wrote for the foreword for the rest of the post. He praises Cassidy for her work, saying she is "a shining example of what one teacher [can do] with some grit, curiosity and passion". Cassidy wasn't always tech savvy, but she learned how to do many things, like blogging, and she learned how to apply it to her teaching. The book itself is about teaching kids early on how to use technology.

In the comment I left, I said that I agree that it's important to start teaching kids as early as possible how to use the different technology we have available. Technology is advancing at an astounding rate, and our kids have to be able to keep up, just like us! I noted that a lot of supplemental learning can be done through Skype, Twitter, and blogging, and that those tools make learning more fun and engaging for children.

The second blog post I read was If You Hate Doing Assessment, You’re Doing it Wrong. In this post, Shareski describes the way he does his end-of-term assessments. He allows his students to do their own final assessments by providing them a short guideline on which aspects of the course to evaluate themselves on. He states that reviewing his students' final assessments gives him insight into his students' learning as well as his teaching. He enjoys seeing which aspects of the course had which level of impact on different students. At one point, he compares teaching to golf, saying "you never really perfect it but it’s great fun in trying to get better."

I commented that self evaluation really is a great way to get students to think about what they learned over the course of the semester. It also gives them a chance to be honest and provide constructive criticism over what the teacher did well and things that can be improved. This gives the teacher some good feedback and allows them to reflect on their own course, and this gives students the opportunity to show how much they've learned.

Blog Post #14

Course Smart: Learn Smart. Choose Smart.

This week, we were assigned to read the article Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading by David Streitfel. The article talks about a newly developed technology called CourseSmart. CourseSmart allows teachers to keep track of their students progress as they read through their digital textbooks. The article specifically talks about how a few professors at Texas A&M have been using CourseSmart. The system tracks students' progress through their digital textbooks and shows their professors their engagement indexes. It is speculated that this engagement information could provide information on which students might fail the class and how many students in the class are falling behind. Some students likened the new technology to "Big Brother", since CourseSmart keeps an ever-watching eye on students' involvement in their textbooks. The article also discusses some of the problems with CourseSmart. Students could simply leave their digital textbooks open and go do something else, or if they tend to take notes on paper or on a computer program that isn't tracked, CourseSmart will give them a low engagement score.

As a teacher, I have to say this could essentially be a very useful technology. I could give reading assignments and actually know whether or not my students really did the reading. If I saw that a student was getting behind in his or her reading, I could pull him or her aside and ask them what was up. I could see if maybe something was going on in his or her life that was keeping him or her from doing the reading. Or perhaps he or she is just having difficulty with the reading. CourseSmart would really provide me with useful information that could allow me to better help my students and cater to their specific needs.

As a student, I'd be a little wary about this technology. Personally, I prefer printed textbooks to digital textbooks. It's easier for me to read printed textbooks than to stare at a screen for hours at a time reading. Plus, I take hand-written notes because it helps me learn better. So if my engagement score depended on me highlighting in the text and taking notes in the system itself somehow, I would probably get a low engagement score. However, using this new technology could help me learn to take notes in a different way that might actually work better for me. It would also encourage me to read more. I have a bad habit of not actually doing any of the reading in my course textbooks because so far, I've been able to get by without it. But I know at some point, this bad habit will come back to bite me in the butt, so using CourseSmart could actually be a big help to me.

If I were to talk with Mr. Guardia, the professor of the class discussed in the article, I'd ask the following questions:
  • Overall, have your students' scores increased after the introduction of CourseSmart?
  • Have you considered switching textbooks after getting some feedback from CourseSmart? 
  • Have your students come to you with any questions or concerns about CourseSmart? 
  • If so, what are some of the concerns they've raised? 
  • Have you spoken with your fellow professors about CourseSmart? What are their opinions/concerns? 
  • Overall, are you happy with the results CourseSmart has provided you with? Will you continue using CourseSmart?

If I were to interview the students in Mr. Guardia's class, I'd ask the following questions:
  • Have your grades improved since the implementation of CourseSmart?
  • Do you think CourseSmart is an invasion of your privacy?
  • Has CourseSmart helped you improve your reading and note-taking skills?
  • Do you have any suggestions on how the CourseSmart system could be improved?
  • Would you like to see CourseSmart implemented in more of your classes?
  • Have you had any issues with the system not working properly?

There are a lot of interesting and informative comments that have been left in the article's comments section. Many comments are critical of the system, and they pose some good points as to why CourseSmart could be more problematic than helpful. If I were to leave a comment on the article, it would be as follows:
I can see where this system could be both helpful and harmful. On one hand, it actually encourages students to read their textbooks and gives them an incentive to do it, i.e. high engagement scores. It also has the possibility to help them improve upon their reading and note-taking skills and try new forms of note-taking they may have not considered in the past. On the other hand, being forced to read the textbooks might have a negative impact on students. Straight reading isn't the best studying strategy for everyone, and it may encourage professors to slack in their lectures, thinking that their students can just read the textbook to get more information on the subject. Also, while this system seems to help professors gather more information on their students, this could actually create a less personal atmosphere between professors and students. As someone else in the comments said, professors might start seeing their students as mere scores on a screen instead of striving to reach out to them on a personal level and interact with them in person. I think it would be best if more research and experimentation was done before CourseSmart is implemented in any more classrooms and universities.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Final Project Progress Report

Google Hangouts

For my group's final project, we've decided to go with Option B, which is to create a 10-15 minute movie to help prospective EDM310 students prepare for EDM310. We have plans to do a Google Hangout this Wednesday evening to discuss our project. Unfortunately, aside from that, we have yet to make much progress. Our group has failed to be very communicative, and I've had to step up and be the one to initiate discussions and send emails to the rest of the group. However, this hopefully won't impede our ability to create an excellent final project.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blog Post #13

Back to the Future

For the first part of this week's assignment, we were asked to watch a video titled Back to the Future by Brian Crosby. The video begins with Crosby talking about his fourth grade students. He currently has 24 fourth-graders, and about 90% of those students are second language learners and at-risk students. On the second day of class, he asked them to take a survey. Pictured below is a still from the video listing the results of the survey:
Class Survey-second day of school

Crosby goes on to show us a picture of his classroom where each student in his class has a laptop and they all have a blog. He then starts to tell us about an awesome science project he did with his students. He started out the project by doing a few small activities to teach his students about atmospheric pressure and how hot-air balloons work. When they were done with those activities, they posted on their blogs about what they learned and embedded videos of their experiments into their blogs. After the students learned about the history of ballooning, they even created a wiki page to store all their knowledge! Crosby even had his students write stories where they themselves were balloons being sent up into the atmosphere. When they were done with their stories, they made book covers and illustrations and published them onto their blogs. Posting all of this onto their blogs allows his students to see that people are actually reading their posts and are interested in them!

After that, Crosby asked his students to write about their "High Hopes" for their school, community, and the world. They then used an online program to turn those High Hopes into trading cards, which they dubbed strato-cards, since those cards are going to go up into the stratosphere on the class balloon they later send up. Having all of this on their blogs enabled people from all over to see their High Hopes, and a lot of people were interested in doing the same thing. So, Crosby encouraged these people to send in their own High Hopes, which Crosby would send up in his class's balloon. Not only was this activity fun for Crosby's students, but it allowed his students to build a learning network. His students left comments on the blogs of other students from around the world, and those other students left comments on Crosby's student's blogs. His students had an audience, and as we've seen before, having an audience is really encouraging to children!

Crosby goes on to describe that each of his students had a part in creating the "payload", which is all of the stuff they were sending up with the balloon. There was even a camera inside the payload so they could see what happened during each step of the balloon's launch, flight, and descent. After all this had happened, other students and teachers from around the world wrote how they wanted to do activities and projects just like Crosby's, and Crosby had his students conduct a Skype interview with a classroom in New Zealand. The Skype interview allowed his students to review the material, since they were explaining it to the New Zealand students, and it gave them an opportunity to show off their knowledge! Crosby tells us how language intensive the Skype interview was, and he gives a list of all the skills that were exercised during the interview:
Language Intensive Skills

Crosby explains that this was all part of active learning, and active learning really empowers students to want to learn on their own. They're learning how to connect to the world and how to collaborate with others. On top of this, this type of learning is motivating! Crosby quotes, "We can't just keep racing kids through school. It can't be a race. We have to keep making sure that we're giving them opportunities to build schema for the world." We have to make sure, as teachers, that we're teaching kids what they really need to know. We need to engage them, motivate them. We need to teach them how to be independent learners. Learning doesn't stop once you graduate from school. You learn all the time, and that's what we need to emphasize!

Blended Learning Cycle

20th century French interpretation of what classrooms will look like in the year 2000

The second part of this week's assignment was to watch Paul Andersen's Blended Learning Cycle. What is Blended Learning? Andersen describes it as "taking the compelling parts of online, mobile, and classroom learning and just blending them together in a classroom." Andersen then explains the Learning Cycle, which is made up of 5 Es: engage, explore, explain, expand, and evaluate. When you put those two ideas together, you get the Blended Learning Cycle:
Graphic of the Blended Learning Cycle

To remember the parts of his Blended Learning Cycle, Andersen uses the acronym QuIVERS: Question, Investigation/Inquiry, Video, Elaboration, Review, and Summary quiz. Andersen then gives us an example of this that he uses for his AP Biology class.

I like his idea of the Blended Learning Cycle. It really gives students an opportunity to become more engaged in their learning. They're not just sitting back while the teacher lectures them. They're actually actively participating in their learning. They're being encouraged to investigate, to experiment, and to ask questions. The students conduct experiments to better help them understand the material, and once they're ready and sure they are knowledgeable enough, they take short summary quizzes. Even if they don't do so well on the quizzes the first time, they are given the chance to retake them. This is what learning should be about. More teachers need to learn how to motivate and engage their students. Having engaged students makes the learning process much more enjoyable, and doing fun activities helps students realize that learning can be fun!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blog Post #12


A few weeks ago, I came to the realization that mathematics wasn't something I truly enjoyed learning about. Since I didn't enjoy learning about it, I couldn't expect myself to enjoy teaching it, either. So, I decided to "follow my heart" and change my concentration from mathematics to Spanish. I've always had a knack for languages, and I've always loved learning new languages. So what better subject to teach than something I thoroughly enjoy learning about?

That being said, at first, I thought this assignment would be difficult. I had no idea how I could come up with an assignment relating to foreign language, but then I remembered something I talked about in my last blog post. In Blog Post #11, I talked about how I could use Skype with my students to talk to native Spanish speakers so my students could hear the language spoken straight from the mouth of a native speaker. Once I remembered that, the wheels in my brain started turning. So here is the assignment I've come up with:

Blog Post #__

1. Can you speak any foreign languages? If so, which ones? If not, what are some you'd like to learn? Explain why.
2. If you've ever taken a foreign language course, write one or two paragraphs about the technologies your teachers used in the classroom.
3. Think about what you've learned so far about technology and its many uses. Write two paragraphs on technology and strategies you could use in your classroom as a foreign language teacher.

And now that I've come up with the assignment, let's give it a go.

I cannot speak any foreign languages fluently, but I've taken multiple courses in Spanish and German. I consider myself conversational in both. I'd love to learn many more languages, like Russian and Japanese, if I can ever find the time. I've always been really interested in learning about other languages and cultures. I wanted to learn German because half of my ancestors were German, and I wanted to learn Spanish because more and more people in the United States are speaking it, and it would be very useful to know how to speak it.

Whenever I've taken foreign language courses, there wasn't much technology use to supplement our learning. Most of the time, we'd just open up our books and learn vocabulary words while looking at pictures so we know what they mean. On occasion, the teacher would boot up the SMART board and bring up a worksheet we had done and fill in the blanks using the SMART board. Of course, a lot of language comprehension comes from learning how to pronounce the words, and the best practice is by speaking it. But I think my teachers could have made the learning process more interesting than they did.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, one use of modern technology to teach foreign language would be to use Skype to hold an interview with native speakers. Since I'm going to be teaching Spanish, I could use Skype to hold video chats with native Spanish speakers. My students will be able to get a better grasp on how the language is spoken and how to pronounce words correctly by listening to a native speaker. Plus, my students will be able to ask questions about the culture and receive accurate answers in real-time!

Of course, a huge part of learning a foreign language is also learning about the culture (or cultures). Because Spanish is spoken by a large number of different countries, there are a lot of different Spanish-speaking cultures. In order for my students to learn about them, I could assign each student a different Spanish-speaking country to learn about and have them use the internet to gather information on those countries. Then, they could make a PowerPoint presentation to express what they have learned. Another fun thing I could do with my students is to pair them up with students in a Spanish-speaking country. My students could type emails to the Spanish-speaking students. This will help my students learn how to build a personal learning network, as well as help them practice their Spanish skills! I could also have my students set up blogs to where they post their assignments. This will allow them to have a higher chance of gaining an audience, and I could even contact teachers in Spanish-speaking countries and have my students comment on their students' blogs, and vice versa! Doing all of this would definitely make learning Spanish much more fun for my students, and it would get them more involved in their learning!

Monday, April 8, 2013

C4K Summary for March

Comments4Kids Henry

Henry is a student in Mr. Huebl's class in Adelaide, Australia! The post on Henry's blog I read was If we share.... The blog post is a poem Henry wrote about sharing, and how if more people would share what they have, then the world would be a much better place! It's a nice poem, and you should give it a read!

In my comment, I said that I really enjoyed reading his poem. I've always loved reading and writing poetry, and that it would be great if people learned how to share their resources more. You can make a lot of friends by sharing, plus you can help out those who are less fortunate than you are.


Sam is a student in Ms. Lentine's class, and the post of his that I read is titled Larry and Tracy. In his post, Sam talks about a documentary, called Wretches and Jabberers, that his class watched about two autistic people named Larry and Tracy. Sam summarizes the documentary, explaining that Larry was born in the 1950s and was institutionalized, and Tracy wasn't given the opportunity to have a good education when he was young. However, in the 1990s, someone came up with a way for autistic people to communicate through typing, which helped people understand more about autistic people.

In my comment, I said it's sad how, in the past, people with disabilities were treated so horribly. I mentioned that it's amazing how much technology has improved and how it can help people with disabilities. I also explained that it's important to remember that people with disabilities deserve to be respected and treated as kindly as anyone else. Just because someone is disabled doesn't mean that they aren't smart! Sometimes, people with disabilities just can't communicate their ideas as well as we can.

There were two other kids whose blogs I left comments on, but the file I saved their links in seems to have been deleted, and I could not find the blogs again. I take full responsibility for this, and I sincerely apologize.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Blog Post #11

Smiling boy with a laptop
This week, we were assigned to watch a video by Ms. Kathy Cassidy, as well as a Skype interview between her and Dr. Strange. The video we watched is called Little Kids...Big Potential. In the video, we see pictures and video of Ms. Cassidy's students using the technology they have available in their classroom. First, we see the kids working on their laptops, and the child narrating tells us about how they all enjoy writing on their blogs. People leave them comments on their blogs, and they really enjoy seeing people's comments. The students also explain that their writing skills increase every time they post to their blog! One student makes a point that when you comment on people's blogs, you should never say anything mean. You should always be nice and stay positive when commenting, and that's great advice to follow!

The children also talk about how they use their class website as a central hub to find and pick sites that will help them learn about things like numbers and the alphabet. They do this during a set time during class, and they go to the class webpage to choose what they learn about. Another tool they use in the classroom is a wiki page. They asked for help from others to learn about different topics, like traditions and rituals. People added to the class's wiki their own examples of traditions and rituals, which helped the students learn about them. When the kids made a wiki about the alphabet, people from Alabama made videos and uploaded them to the wiki for the children to watch! Skype is another tool the children use often. They use Skype to talk to students at other schools, as well as experts in certain subjects! I have to admit I was thoroughly surprised when the children introduced their Nintendo DS systems as something they also used in their classrooms. I never really considered that the handheld gaming system could be used in classrooms as an educational tool, but the children talked about how they used them to play NintenDogs! They played the game to help them learn how to read. They also state that using the Nintendo DS has helped them become better problem solvers, and they've learned how to share.

We were also instructed to watch this Skype interview between Dr. Strange and Ms. Cassidy. When asked how she first got involved with technology and how long she's been doing this, she stated that she got involved with technology about 10 years ago because she had suddenly been given 5 computers for use in her classroom. She explains that she's actually had her class blog for 5 years at the point the interview took place. She also explains that she takes security measures to protect her students identities when they post on the internet, and parents are actually very excited and appreciative of their kids using the internet because they get to directly view their children's progress.

I think what Ms. Cassidy is doing is great! I think it's important to introduce kids to technology as early as possible. Even as kids they can learn so much from technology. I think it's neat how she created a class webpage with links to all kinds of games and learning exercises that her students can choose from. Giving them the freedom to choose which games they play to help them learn is such a good thing because it teaches the kids independence, but it also gives them the opportunity to show they can be trusted to use technology appropriately. That's definitely something I'll use when I become a teacher. I can create a class blog or webpage where I post assignments, and I can post links to useful websites. Since I'm changing to Spanish as my concentration, I could even use Skype with my students to talk to native Spanish speakers so my students can hear how it is spoken by someone for whom Spanish is a first language. Of course, there would be some obstacles I might face when using the internet in the classroom. I'll have to make sure my students understand that during classtime, checking Facebook or Twitter isn't appropriate unless I've given them a specified time in which they can do so. But I feel like I'll be able to trust my students, for the most part. As long as I show them I trust them and respect them, I'm sure they'll show me they can be trusted.

C4T #3

Middle School Matrix: Exploring the changing world of Middle School teaching and technology

For my third C4T, I was assigned to read two posts by Hadley Ferguson. The first blog post I read was Staying Connected. In this post, Hadley talks about how, over the past year, she spent a lot less time staying connected with those in her PLN than she usually does, and she comments that, because of it, she didn't grow or learn as much as she does when she is connected. She explains that staying connected by reading other people's blogs and following people on Twitter allows her to learn new things and keep up with new trends. She can compare her methods with those of others, and she feels she is a much better teacher when she stays connected. However, she iterates that by staying connected, you stay busy. It takes time and energy to stay connected with your PLN, but it's worth it because of all the things you learn and all the people you meet.

In my comment, I agreed that it's very time consuming to build your PLN and stay connected, which is something I'm learning about here in EDM310. But I've learned a lot from reading the blogs of teachers and other students. Everything I've learned can be applied to my future career as a teacher, so it's worth being busy and continuing to build onto my PLN.

The second post I read was Because a Laptop is Distracting. In this post, Hadley talks about some strategies to help students learn to deal with the distraction of the internet while working with computers. First, she says that it's important to accept that your students will struggle with getting distracted. It's all part of working with computers and the internet, but you need to talk to them about it and help them deal with it. Second, she advises that you provide your students with a time to "check in" with their social networking sites to help relieve the temptation. For instance, you can provide your students with 5 minutes before or after class to check their Facebooks and Twitters. Third, she tells us about a technique called "45 your laptops". When she tells her students to "45 your laptops", they tilt the screens down to about 45 degrees so the screen is less visible, and therefore, less distracting. It also helps get rid of that physical barrier that seems to exist between the student and the teacher. Fourth, she suggests you encourage students to take notes by hand instead of using the computer, at least initially. Taking notes by hand takes longer than typing them, and it helps them learn while they write. Then, you can assign your students to type up the notes as homework to help them learn and understand the notes even better. Lastly, she advises you to teach your students to try a few things to help them decrease the temptation, such as closing out all windows that don't pertain to schoolwork, turning the laptops upside down when not working with them, and using apps like iProcrastinate to help them keep track of the work they need to do.

In my comment, I expressed that I really struggled with getting distracted when trying to work on assignments, so that's something I need to learn to deal with before I can teach my students! I said that I thought the "45 the laptop" idea was a good idea since a lot of the distraction comes from being able to clearly see the screen. I also explained one strategy I've used before, which consisted of using a time manager app for my computer that blocked certain websites for a specified amount of time. I used this strategy to study for finals last semester, and I'll likely be using it again!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Project #14 SMARTboard

Blog Post #10

I'm a Papermate. I'm a Ticonderoga.

I'm a Papermate. I cost less, but break all the time. I'm a Ticonderoga. I'm the most expensive purchase a hipster will ever make.

This week, we were asked to take a look at the above comic by John T. Spencer. The comic was posted to his blog Adventures in Pencil Integration. This comic is a parody of all those PC vs. Mac commercials you see on television. For any of you reading that might be having a lapse in memory like I did, Papermate and Ticonderoga are both companies that make pencils. In the comic, Spencer is comparing Papermate to PCs and Ticonderogas to Macs. Papermates are more affordable but they "break" often, according to the comic. Ticonderogas are more expensive but are supposedly of better quality. I personally used a lot of Papermate brand pencils in my time in school, and I never had any trouble, but again, this comic is a parody. So to each his own I suppose!

Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?

We were also assigned to read Spencer's post Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?. I've got to admit that I didn't catch on to the point of the post until about half way in when I read the line "Do you remember what I said after the Hang Man Fiasco of 1895?". In the post, a teacher named Tom is called to the principal's office and scolded about playing a game with his students. Tom tries to explain to the principal that the game he was playing was teaching his students an important lesson, and that his students were engaged in the activity. However, the principal refuses to listen and shows more concern for the students making high scores on the "rote memorization test". The principal tells Tom that if he wants to "abandon slate-based learning" that Tom needs to at least try some worksheets or algorithm packets.

From what I can tell, Spencer's post is a parody of technology integration in our schools, as well as commentary on how it seems like a lot of school administrations are still focused more on test scores than actually teaching their students what they need to know. As Dr. Strange puts it, so many schools these days are still relying on "burp back" education. There are also too many schools who still haven't made any progress in integrating technology into the classroom. People are so afraid of change that they'll work hard to resist it, even if said change is actually a good thing and would make things much better! Because of this, many teachers who try to advocate for change and more technology integration are met with disagreement, and we need to fix this. Yes, it's hard to change from something you've been doing the same way for decades or even centuries, but it's time for a change, and technology can do wonders for us and our students.

Another brilliant post I read from Spencer's blog was 10 Points on Pencils. The post basically addresses the issues many teachers and administrations have with the integration of technology into classrooms. Except for his post, Spencer replaces modern technology like tablets and cell phones and computers with paper and pencils. It's quite humorous but also very witty. I love his use of sarcasm and how he talks about using paper and pencil. It really sounds like he's a teacher from the early 1900s advocating for change to move away from slate and chalk to paper and pencil.

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?

Our other assignment for this week was to read Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please? by Dr. Scott McLeod. Dr. McLeod is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky and the founding director of UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). The post is a poem written by Dr. McLeod. The poem uses heavy sarcasm, telling teachers, parents, and administrators to not teach their kids and students about technology. In the poem he sarcastically points out that technology is "evil" and only teaches kids how to cheat. Basically, he mocks the idea that children only use technology in bad ways, like for watching porn and for cyberbullying. At the end of the poem there's a break in the sarcasm, and he snidely point out that he will teach his students about technology and that they'll be way ahead of the game in the future, compared to the students and kids whose parents and teachers refused to teach them how to use technology.

I think his post was absolutely brilliant. I can really appreciate someone who uses sarcasm productively and efficiently, and Dr. McLeod accomplishes both of these things in his post. I agree that schools are so quick to demonize technology and assume the worst in kids when it comes to using technology. Yes, bad things on the internet do exist, but we can't just automatically assume that our students will use technology irresponsibly. If we don't give them a chance to be responsible, they'll never learn to be responsible! We have to allow our children and students to exercise responsibility. We have to be able to trust them. Yes, they're going to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. It's part of human nature, but we learn from our mistakes, and that's exactly what our students will do. They'll also learn from their successes. But first, we have to learn to let go and let our students fly because if we don't, we'll only hold them back.

Project #11 Short Movie

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Project #12 Book Trailer

Blog Post #9

Mr. McClung's World

At The Teacher's Desk: Part 1

This week, we were assigned to read two blog posts by Joe McClung. The first post I read was What I Learned This Year (2010-11). McClung first talks about how important it is that, as teachers, we stay focused on what's best for our students, not necessarily what will please our administrators. He says we initially became teachers to help kids, and that "our decision making process should always be student centered and not centered around pleasing adults". Another point he makes is that you can't expect everyone to be as excited about teaching and change as you are. Not everyone in the teaching profession is going to be as excited and open to change as you might be. However, you shouldn't let those people stop you from being excited. Don't let their attitudes towards change stifle your own eagerness and excitement.

Another point McClung makes is that you shouldn't be afraid to be an outsider. He explains that he enjoys hanging around with his students more than his colleges, and he is aware how that might make him an outsider. But he loves being so connected with his students, so he doesn't really worry about how others perceive him. McClung also points out that it is important to "never touch the keyboard" when you're teaching students. In other words, don't be so eager to take over whatever task you're teaching a student. A student isn't going to learn anything if you do the work for them. Yes, your students are going to struggle while they learn to master whatever skill you're teaching them, but they won't ever really master that skill if you're constantly stepping in and doing the work for them. The last point, McClung makes is we as teachers shouldn't allow ourselves to get too comfortable. While routines can be nice and help us feel comfortable and secure, we need to try new things to keep us from developing routines. Once you get into a routine, he explains, you can become stagnant and stop moving forward. And when we develop an attitude like that, it can be hard for even our students to get motivated. Therefore, we must "be willing to exceed the demands of the traditional 8-3 teaching format", for both our own benefit and for the benefit of our students.

This was a really great post. I agree with all of the points he made. I think it is really important that we focus on what's best for our students. If we concern ourselves too much over pleasing the people who are above us, we risk losing sight of what is really important to us and why we got into the profession in the first place: our students. Something I've learned through my time here in EDM310 is that, unfortunately, not everyone in this course takes their work seriously, and not everyone cares about learning about this new technology we're learning about. The same goes for our teaching careers. Not everyone will be excited about change, and that's something we have to realize. Even so, we can't allow them to influence our own thoughts and feelings about change. We have to keep our fires lit and use that fire to spark the fires of our students. I also agree that it's super important for teachers to stay connected with their students, even if it makes them look odd to their fellow teachers. After all, we're in this for our students, to help them be the best they can be. And we can better help them if we keep connected with them, whether that be through social media or just being around them during lunch or breaks or for hang-outs in the classroom after school.

At The Teacher's Desk: Part 2

The second post I read was What I Learned This Year-Volume 4. In this post, McClung first talks about how he didn't learn as much that year as he had in previous years. But he did learn two important things. The first thing he learned was that he needed to remember who he really worked for and not to worry about how his peers perceived him. He explains that he became wrapped up in concerning himself with how his colleges perceived him as an educator, which is something he never really concerned himself with in previous years. He says that after realizing this, he reminded himself that his main concern as a teacher was making sure his students were taken care of and were having fun. The second important thing he learned was that you must always challenge yourself. He tells us how he noticed himself becoming too routine in his teaching. He admits that he began depending on old lesson plans, and as a result, he began to lose his creativity. However, he was presented with the opportunity to teach a different subject, and even though it will require a lot of work from him, it will be worth it.

I love how this post tied in with his last "What I Learned This Year". He restated in this post that he needs to stop getting so concerned with how his coworkers view him as an educator and focus more on his students. As teachers, it is our job to focus on our students and make sure we are helping them reach their full potential, and we can't do that if we're too worried about what other adults think of us. Again, he also reiterates that you must not allow yourself to become stagnant in your teaching. If you allow yourself to get into a routine, you run the risk of being apathetic to change, which is dangerous. So, in our careers as teachers, it's important to keep that excitement alive and always look for something new to try!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Blog Post #8

This Is How We Dream

Change ahead One of our assignments this week was to watch This is How We Dream: Part 1 and Part 2 by Richard Miller. In his videos, Miller talks about how we are living in an age of change. Printed materials are becoming a thing of the past, while it is becoming more popular and more practical to read articles, books, and papers online and through computer screens. Miller explains that "this is the time to be engaged in the work of literacy." Miller also makes a point how we are able to go online and get real time updates on news stories and other things. He uses the presidential election of 2008 as an example, saying that, at the time, you could go online to a major news station's website and get immediate updates on which candidates were getting the votes in various counties and states. He also explains that by having academic material posted online, that material can live on for much longer than printed materials can, and you can also share online documents "infinitely", as he put it.

Miller continues on to explain that another incremental change is that through the internet, we are able to collaborate with other people using networking technology to create projects and write articles. Miller stresses that "ideas don't belong to us individually, but they belong to us as a culture." He gives iTunes U as an example of this. People can find lectures and information on all kinds of different subjects through iTunes U. However, Miller explains that iTunes U can be used to make wonderful compositions, but a lot of the lectures people are downloading haven't gone through any post-production work at all, and that's disappointing. The internet allows us to share and distribute ideas instantly, and it holds so much potential for academics, but for some reason, our culture isn't fully embracing it yet.

One of Miller's most important quotes in the video is, "We as educators must be in the business of sharing ideas freely." As a future teacher, I must be prepared to be able to write and share ideas using multimedia, and I will be expected to teach my students how to do this, as well. At the moment, no, I not yet fully prepared to write using multimedia, but that's what EDM310 is helping me learn to do. By the end of this course, I will know so much more about multimedia and education technology than I knew before taking this course, and I will be better qualified to teach it to my own students. With the speed technology is advancing now, it's possible that even when I do become a teacher, my students will know more about the current technology and how to use multimedia than I will. But as I've stressed before in my blog posts, it is my job to keep myself up to date and well informed on new technology so I can teach my students to the best of my ability.

Carly Pugh's Blog Post #12

A past student of EDM310 named Carly Pugh was assigned to create an assignment that Dr. Strange would deem worthy enough of being used for future EDM310 students. In her post, simply titled Blog Post #12, Carly describes that her assignment would be for everyone to create a YouTube playlist containing videos that reflect your views and philosophies as a future teacher. She gives a more detailed list of the types of videos she wants included in the playlists as well as guidelines for how many videos need to be included in the playlist and how many of the listed topics should be included. She then asks students to explain why they chose their videos and how they reflect their teaching philosophy. Carly even did this assignment herself, and you can see her playlist here.

Carly goes on to talk about some of the videos she included in her playlist, such as this one. I think Carly's suggested assignment comes pretty close to what Richard Miller talked about. Carly encourages students to use multimedia (in this case, YouTube) to describe their teaching philosophies and explain some of the things they have learned from EDM310. She encourages students to essentially use multimedia to share their ideas and beliefs, which is exactly what Miller hopes our future educators and other people will do.

EDM310 Is Different

Dr. Strange has made sure to explain to us that EDM310 is different from other classes we have taken. He told us to watch two videos at the beginning of the course. The first video, The Chipper Series narrates the story of a girl named Chipper who is taking EDM310, but she procrastinates all the time and eventually drops out of school. She doesn't get anywhere with her life, and after many failures, she has a change of heart and decides to go back to school and do better this time. The second video is EDM310 for Dummies. The video is a "commercial" advertising the book EDM310 for Dummies, and how the book will help you improve your knowledge and performance in EDM310.

If I were to create videos, I would definitely make a video telling people not to stress out too much over EDM310. I would explain that even though EDM310 is a lot of work, it's extremely helpful and it will really help you out in the long run. I remember at the beginning of the course, I was terrified of this class because Dr. Strange told us we would have to spend 9 hours per week on the material. But once I began the work, I realized it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be, and I've learned so much already. I'd also make some video tutorials on how to use Blogger and Twitter.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

The video Learn to Change, Change to Learn really makes a great point about our lack of technology in schools. Students typically aren't allowed to bring cell phones or tablets or even iPods to school, yet these are all wonderful tools that can aid our education! These are all tools that encourage creativity, and yet they're not allowed in schools, and students sometimes even get punished for bringing or using them. Instead of churning out SATs and other standardized tests for students to take, we should let their creativity flow. When these students get out in the real world and get jobs, they won't be approaching their jobs like they approach standardized testing. Their jobs will require creativity!

We don't need to focus on teaching kids to remember information and facts. We need to teach kids to find information, do research, and use that information to collaborate with others and solve problems. We need to create schools that teach children to embrace their creativity and to care about things, like their culture. The quote that really stood out to me was, "it's the death of education, but it's the dawn of learning." It's definitely time for a revolution in our education system, and we can start by teaching kids how to learn.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0

For this part of the assignment, we first watched the video Web 2.0 Intro, which gave us some insight into what we were about to do. After watching the video, our scavenger hunt began!

The first thing I found was a website that's similar to Twitter and Facebook. It's a website called Edmodo, and it provides a social platform for teachers. On the website, you can set up a classroom for your students, and you can post notes, alerts, assignments, quizzes, and even polls! The interface looks really similar to facebook, so it's easy to learn how to navigate, and since it looks like facebook, it would be much more appealing to students. I could use Edmodo to update my students on when assignments are due, and I can use it to post assignments and quizzes. I could even create a poll to find out how well my students are progressing and gain feedback on their opinions of the material being covered.

The second tool I found was the website Make Beliefs Comix, which allows you to make your own comic strips! Here's a comic I made!

Video Game Comic

The third tool I found is a website to create polls, called Poll Everywhere. I could definitely use this site in my classroom for my students to give feedback on the material being covered. Here's a poll I created with it:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

C4T #2

Learning Out Loud

For my second C4T, I was assigned to read two posts from Jennifer Brokofsky's blog Learning Out Loud. The first post I read was Program Evaluation: Pre-K-Grade 5 Math Learning Community. Her post was about an assignment she had to do for one of her classes, EDCUR 809. For her assignment, she designs a possible plan for the evaluation of a program. The program she chose to design an evaluation for is the Pre-K through Grade 5 Mathematics Learning Community. She lays out 5 important steps for the evaluation and explains them in greater detail. The first step in her evaluation plan is to engage the important stakeholders, such as teachers, the consultant team, and students. The second step is to focus the evaluation. She describes that the evaluation would focus on assessing teacher and student outcomes in the Math Learning Community over a short, medium, and long-term basis. The third step is to collect the information from reflections, observations, and products, including surveys, photos and videos, and written testimonials. The fourth step is to analyze and interpret the data. The data will show whether or not the program is effective in increasing student learning and success in mathematics. The fifth and final step is to use the information to make decisions around professional development in mathematics.

In my comment, I introduced myself and explained to her that I would be writing this C4T summary. I told her I thought her plan for an evaluation sounds great. I said I can really relate to her post because I'm going to be a math teacher, and I explained that it's great that she included students in the process of collecting data and feedback, since students are the ones who will be directly affected by teaching methods. I also said that conducting such an evaluation will help teachers share their successful teaching methods and ideas amongst each other.

The second post I read and commented on was Where We Are and Where To Go Next: Creating a Survey. In this post, she explains that she was assigned to create a survey for her EDCUR 809 class. Again, she created the survey for use by the Pre-K through Grade 5 Mathematics Learning Community. The purpose of the survey is to "assess the degree to which the math learning community members have reached the medium term outcomes." She goes on to describe exactly what those outcomes are, then she explains that she wanted to consider Guskey's five levels of professional development in order to strengthen her survey. She then links us to the initial survey she created, which you can see here. Then she links us to the revised version, which she created after sharing it with her colleagues and obtained feedback on it.

In my comment, I said that I saw definite improvement in the revised version of the survey from the initial version. The revised version asked much more in-depth questions and contained more open-ended questions that should give some very helpful information. I wished her luck on conducting the survey and reminded her that I would be posting a summary of her posts to my blog.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Project #9 PLN Progress Report

My symbaloo set up

In order to keep track of all my resources for my PLN I decided to use Symbaloo. It's a website that allows you to "bookmark" resources in a neat and organized tile format, as seen above. You can color code tiles and organize them in any way you like. So far, I've made connections with people through Twitter and Pinterest, and I've been connected to other teachers through assignments given here in EDM310. For instance, I have Langwitches bookmarked here on Symbaloo so I can easily find it whenever I need it! I also have tiles linking to the EDM310 class blog, TweetDeck, Delicious, Glogster, and Prezi.

As my PLN stands now, I'm following a lot of boards on Pinterest related to education and mathematics, and I'm following quite a few people on Twitter who I've found through my assignments for EDM310. I am also subscribed to blog of one of the teachers I was assigned for C4T because I found his blog very enjoyable to read. I am currently in the process of learning how to use Delicious and Glogster, and once I learn how to use those websites effectively, I'll be able to contribute even more content to my PLN.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Project #8 Podcast

Blog Post #7

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch This week, we were assigned to watch Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. Pausch begins his lecture right away by "introducing the elephant in the room". Right off the bat he explains his current medical condition, showing pictures of his latest CAT scans and saying that there are about 10 tumors in his liver. He further explains that his doctors have given him 3-6 months of good health left. He talks about it so matter-of-factly, saying "it is what it is" and that he can't change it. I love that he maintains happy spirits and a good outlook on it overall. He makes quite a few jokes about it in his introduction, so it definitely helps lighten the mood.

The first technique Pausch talks about is fundamentals. He begins my explaining that one of his childhood dreams was to play in the NFL. But he did play football as a child, and Pausch tells the story of his team's first day of practice. His coach showed up without any footballs, and when the kids asked why there weren't any footballs, the coach explained that they were "going to work on what those other 21 guys [who aren't holding the football] are doing". What his coach meant by that was that they were going to work on the fundamentals. Pausch iterates how important it is to learn the fundamentals of whatever subject you're teaching. Pausch further explains that if people stop trying to correct you when you've messed up, it means that they've given up. As a teacher, it's going to be important for me to never give up on my students and to always help them learn from their mistakes. Even as just a student here in EDM310, every week we're assigned a fellow student to leave a comment on their blog, and in the process, we learn to give constructive criticism, a skill that will be extremely beneficial when we become teachers.

The second technique Pausch discusses is leadership. He gives an example of another childhood dream he had: meeting Captain Kirk. Captain Kirk, as any Trekkie can tell you, is the captain of the starship USS Enterprise in the Star Trek series. Pausch explains that he sometimes wondered what skill set Kirk had that allowed him to be a member of the Enterprise crew, but then he realized that Kirk harbored the skill of leadership. As a teacher, I will be a leader for my students. Not only will I be a leader to them in the subject I teach, I will also be a leader to them in teaching them to learn the new technology that will affect us in the future. So as a future leader, I have to educate myself on the current technology being employed in classrooms now and prepare for the future of technology.

Another point Pausch makes is that there is a good and bad way to say "I don't know". There was a time when he had the opportunity to work with the Disney Imagineering team, a dream he had since childhood. He went to have a meeting with a Dean at the University of Virginia, and the Dean wasn't happy that the Imagineering team would own the rights to the intellectual property of the paper Pausch was going to help them write. The Dean threatened to call the deal off unless that clause was changed. Pausch asked the Dean if he thought this whole thing was a good idea, but the Dean said, "I don't know!" So Pausch instead went to the Dean of Sponsored Research. Pausch asked him, "Do you think this is a good idea?" The Dean's answer, paraphrased here, was, "I don't know if it's a good idea, but you're excited, so tell me more." One of our mottoes here in EDM310 is I don't know. Let's find out. And that's a motto I want to have in my future classroom. If I'm ever asked a question I can't answer by one of my students, I'll make sure we find out the answer together.

Pausch also tells us of a time when he started a class called Building Virtual Worlds. The class was made up of 50 students from different departments, like drama, art, and design, and they were randomly put into teams of 4 to work on projects every two weeks. After the first project, Pausch explains that he was absolutely blown away by what his students did, and he had no idea what to do next. So, he called his mentor, Andy van Damn, who advised him to go to class and say to his students, "Guys that was pretty good, but I know you can do better." His point was if you don't set a clear bar for your students, they will continue to surprise you and keep getting better. As a teacher, I can't expect my students to do their best if I set limits. Creativity doesn't flow well when it's pressed behind limits.

An important point Pausch gives about 52 minutes in is that the best gift an educator can give is to teach their students to be self-reflective. That's something Dr. Strange is teaching us to do here in EDM310. There are no grades. We give ourselves what we think we deserve. We have a checklist that we fill out ourselves and check tasks off as we complete them. During the course, we are to reflect on our work each week and see how we can improve. At the end of the course, we will evaluate our own performance and work in this class. When I become a teacher, it will be important for me to teach my students how to engage in self-reflection. As the saying goes, you are your worst critic. If you can learn to reflect on your work and make judgments on how well you're doing, you're going to be better able to learn and grow.

The last thing I want to iterate on is how, throughout the lecture, Pausch keeps bringing up that "brick walls let us show our dedication". When we run into obstacles, what really defines us and our ultimate success is how we deal with and overcome those roadblocks. When you're faced with an obstacle, you can do one of two things: give up or find a solution. And the people who choose to persevere and find a solution are the people who will do great things.

C4K Summary for February


C4K #1

For my first C4K assignment, I was assigned to check out the blog of a boy named Aaron, who is a 9th grader at Fairhope High School. The post of his I read was Code Talker: Halfway Post. In his post, Aaron does a report on the book he is reading for his history class. The book is called Code Talker, and it's about the Navajo code talkers that played an important role in the the U.S. military during World War II. Aaron describes the book as being about a young Navajo boy who is forced to go to a boarding school and learn English with other Navajo children. At the school, the Navajo children had their names changed and were forced to essentially forget most of their heritage. One boy, renamed as Ned, becomes fascinated by the Marines and wishes to become one, but he fears he won't be accepted because of his Navajo heritage. But an opportunity presents itself when the Marines begin recruiting Navajo people who are fluent in both Navajo and English. When he turns 16, he is accepted into the Marines and goes to bootcamp. After bootcamp, Ned and the other recruits are shipped off to Hawaii where they learn the skills they need as Code Talkers before they go to their field training. This is where Aaron leaves leaves off in his summary, stating that he will continue the summary when he finishes the book.

For my comment, I introduced myself and told him that I think it's really cool that his teacher, Mr. Cometti, is having his students keep blogs. I told him that I remembered learning about the Navajo Code Talkers in middle school and high school, and that the book he's reading sounds really interesting! It's sad that the military forced the Navajo children to conform to what was acceptable behavior and appearance in the eyes of the military, but that it was wonderful that Ned made the best of a bad situation and ended up achieving his dream.

C4K #2

For my second C4K assignment, I was given the blog of a boy named Radley. The post I read was about lions! He said that the female lion hunts for food in the day time, and at night time, the male lion kills other animals. He also added that he would like to be a lion because his friend Ryan likes lions!

For my comment, again, I started by introducing myself and said that it's great that his teacher, Ms. Balestrin, is teaching her students how to blog. Then I told him I thought it would be really cool to be a lion, too, and that I've always loved cats. I said to just imagine what it would be like to be a lion and hunt in the grasslands of Africa!

C4K #3

For my third C4K, I was assigned to comment on the blog of a girl named Faridah. She is a year 5 student at a school in New Zealand! The post I read and left a comment on was called Going Fishing. In her post, Faridah tells us that on sunny days, she and her father like to go fishing. One day, she and her father caught 30 fish! Then they cooked them and shared the fish with friends.

When I left my comment, I introduced myself and expressed my admiration for her teacher, Miss King, for teaching Faridah and the other students how to blog. I also told her that I've also been learning how to blog for EDM310. I said it was amazing that her and her father caught 30 fish! I've only ever caught one fish in my entire life. I also told her that it was really nice of them to share their catch with their friends!

C4K #4

For my last C4K of the month, I was assigned the blog of Caroline, a 10th grader at Baldwin County High School. Her blog post was about suicide. She wrote that she doesn't understand why people commit suicide. She explained that she lost her own uncle to suicide because he had been dealing with depression. She also said that a boy at her school took is own life, and that nobody really knew why. She explained that whenever she saw him, he looked happy, so she doesn't understand why he took his life. She wrote that people sometimes are driven to suicide because of bullies and depression.

In my comment, I explained that suicide is one of the leading causes of death amongst teens and young adults, and that suicide is a very serious and sad issue. I explained that it's important to be there for people who are feeling depressed and let them know that you are there to support them and talk to them whenever they need someone to open up to. I also mentioned that it's important that we teach students just how much bullying, harassment, and depression can affect people.

I think it was fate that I was assigned Caroline's blog. Suicide is an issue that is close to my heart, both because of my own struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide and because I have a lot of friends who struggle with it, as well. I always try to be there for my friends, and I won't hesitate to stay up all night with someone if it means I can save their life. I also hope to educate other people on these issues and how important it is that our society becomes more understanding and that schools teach young people to refrain from harassing other students just because they're different. So thank you, Dr. Strange, for assigning me Caroline's blog.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Project #10 Finding the Right Tool

Brain Nook

Brain Nook When I first started this project, I have to admit I was a little nervous. I was afraid I wouldn't have a lot of luck finding useful tools for math teachers. I was afraid that when I began my search, I would only find websites for making worksheets or tests. Luckily for me, I was proved wrong. At first, yes, I did come across some of the websites I anticipated I'd find. But after clicking a few links to different websites, I found an article talking about different useful tools and programs for math teachers. The first tool listed was Brain Nook and it instantly caught my eye. Brain Nook is an online game where students can learn and practice math and language arts skills while exploring a safe, virtual world. New users can create a cute alien character and choose from a variety of colors to customize their character. After the creation and sign up process is complete, you are brought to a short interactive video where a human girl named Bella explains where you are and what to do.

Bella explains how to earn stars.

After this little introduction is finished, you're ready to begin your adventure! Your transported to the interactive world where you can select different types of games to play. Some of the games teach language arts skills while others teach mathematical skills. I played a game that allowed you to practice dividing fractions.

Example of a game teaching fractions

The game was pretty fun, and it was great practice to brush up on my own skills! Brain Nook is definitely something I will encourage my students to play. Brain Nook is something that can be useful for learning the basic mathematical skills and principles that are necessary for obtaining a strong foundation in mathematics. I can urge my students to use it whenever they feel like they need to review certain skills, like multiplying or dividing fractions. I may even require them to complete a few games every week on Brain Nook that are applicable to the material being taught for that week. From using Brain Nook, I expect that my students will increase their knowledge of basic math skills and be better prepared for learning new material. Plus, they will be doing so in a fun environment. Teachers even have the option of signing up their entire class to Brain Nook so students can play together and compete for gaining top scores on the website's leaderboard! So not only does it benefit their mathematical skills, but it also helps them develop a sense of community and benefits their social interaction skills. If another student is having trouble with a game, they can ask another student for help.

I chose Brain Nook because of it's simple yet fun atmosphere. It feels like you're playing a real online multi-player game, and in this day and age, a lot of kids do play online games. So, playing Brain Nook would be a fun way to learn the skills my students need! Plus, the virtual world of Brain Nook is safe to explore both at school and at home without worrying about coming across any inappropriate material. Another reason why Brain Nook is beneficial is because parents can get real time updates on how well they're children are doing. During the initial sign up, Brain Nook asks students for their parents emails so Brain Nook can email progress reports to the children's parents. This helps parents stay involved and invested in their child's progress, and parent cooperation and involvement is a key ingredient in a student's success!

Blog Post #6

The Networked Student

Personal Learning Network The video The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler tells the story of a boy as he develops a personal learning network (PLN). The student is studying American Psychology, and he starts building a personal learning network. The student first does research and practices finding websites and articles with valid, credible information on his subject. He shares what he finds on his social bookmarking site, and he also looks for other people who have bookmarked articles and websites on his topic. Then, he finds and subscribes to blogs where people write about the American Psyche, and he comments on the blogs, offering his own informed opinion. After conducting plenty of research and reading articles and blogs about the topic, he decides to create and manage his own blog. The student also uses his mp3 player to subscribe to and listen to podcasts available through iTunes U. These podcasts are recorded by professors who teach about his subject! The student is even able to contact the director of a documentary, who then discusses his documentary through Skype to the student's class!

At the end of the video, the narrator poses an interesting question: Why does the student even need a teacher? The narrator explains that his teacher is the one who helps him build his personal learning network. She teaches him how to research effectively and organize his information. Basically, she's the catalyst that helps jump-start the student's journey into developing his own personal learning network, and she is there to aid him whenever he has trouble or wants to learn something new.

This video gave a good example of how to build and maintain a personal learning network. You're not expected to start out already having a lot of connections or even knowing what to do. That's why you have a teacher or someone with more experience to show you what to do and give you advice on how to begin. Then, as you do more research and learn new things, you'll be better able to continue building onto your PLN on your own, as well as be able to help others who might be having troubles or are also just starting out.

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment

In Welcome to my PLE!, a seventh grader shows us her personal learning environment (PLE) for her science class. In order to keep everything organized, she uses a website called Symbaloo. She explains that the blocks in the upper rows are for personal use, while the blocks along the bottom row are what she uses for her school work. Every day, she checks the blog for her science class to see what will be covered that day. She also has a tile on Symbaloo that links to an essay on her Google Docs account that she wrote about learning how to write a scientific report. Another tile is linked to her Delicious account, where she has bookmarked websites that talk about the leopard gecko. She then wrote a report on her blog that certified her to handle her class's pet gecko. But that's not the only thing for which she uses her blog. She also posts reflections of what she learned in class. On her Symbaloo, she also has a tile that links to a special note taking program where she can paste pictures or small bits of text that she can look at later. This note taking program also keeps track of the sources from which the texts and pictures were obtained. She also created a glog about box jellyfish on Glogster, a site which allows you to create digital posters where you can compile text, pictures, and audio clips related to the subject of the poster. The student even emailed a professional to have her glog reviewed!

At the end of the video, the student explains that she likes this type of learning because it allows students to have more freedom. She can choose how and when to complete the work that needs to be done. She also explains that this type of learning teaches students how to be responsible. Even though students could look at anything they wanted on the internet and be easily distracted by social networking sites, the students feel inclined to work on their projects responsibly and be sensible about which websites they visit to do their research.

The student's PLE is a lot like my own PLN. She uses a variety of different websites and programs to help her compile and keep track of information she has researched. I am in the process of learning how to use Symbaloo, Pinterest, and Delicious in order to keep track of information I stumble upon. She also has a blog where she makes posts about what she has learned, which is exactly what we are learning how to do in EDM310. She contacts professionals to get their opinions, and she connects with her fellow students and others on the internet who share her interests, and she shares her own knowledge on her subject matter with them. In EDM310, we are building and expanding our network of connections by reading and commenting on the blogs of fellow EDM310 students and even other teachers and younger students across the world. Even when I graduate EDM310 and continue on to my career as a teacher, I hope to keep building onto my PLN and to teach my students how to create their own!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blog Post #5

If I Built a School

Colorful school in France Krissy Venosdale's blog post If I Built A School describes how she would build a school if she were given the opportunity. The first thing she talks about is how there would be a huge neon sign on the school's door that says "Welcome: Now Entering an Innovation Zone". That's the first thing a child would see coming to school, and I believe that would be extremely encouraging. She also describes a library with a fake tree with a treehouse and a cafeteria modeled after a comfortable, modern coffee house. She explains that "grade levels" would not exist; there would be classrooms that children advanced through based on ability and readiness, instead of based on age. There would be a colorful bus available to take the children on all kinds of field trips throughout the year, and the front hallway would have a large bulletin board where parents and other people from the community can post thank you notes. She also talks about how, every afternoon, students would get their "20% time", during which they would attend special classes about an area they were interested in. Children themselves would even have the option to teach a class during this time. Laptops, iPads, and other technology would be used daily, and their use by students would revolve around trust and respect and knowledge on how to use them properly. She states there would even be an aquarium in the halls, and that state tests would be cancelled! Sounds like a great school to me!

If I was given the opportunity to build a school, I would put an emphasis on creativity and the arts. I don't think the arts are being taught enough in our schools today. Every classroom would be decorated with a different theme. For example, one classroom would be decorated with a space theme, while another would be jungle-themed. There would be computers or iPads in each classroom, and every teacher would have to be technologically literate or be willing to become technologically literate in order to be hired. Students wouldn't take tests. Instead, they would express their knowledge through both individual and group projects. After all, we should be preparing our students for the real world, and often times, people in the workplace have to work as a team to get things done! Oh, and I'd definitely like to have that library tree house, too.

Virtual Choir

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir is stunning and beautiful. The quality of the voices was absolutely amazing, and the singing gave me goosebumps! Before watching the video, it had never really occurred to me that the internet could be used in such a way. Just think of what else can be done based on the same principle! Someone could conduct a full concert of musicians from all over the world! Or someone could compose a song with voice clips sent in from other people. It's really amazing how much the internet has brought humanity together. If you closed your eyes while watching the Virtual Choir, you would have no idea that the people participating weren't all together in the same place. And I'm willing to bet that a lot of friendships were formed between the singers because of that project. So not only is the internet a central hub for data and information exchange, it's also a center for forming friendships with people around the world! Listening to the interview between TED Radio and Eric Whitacre honestly made me tear up. Whitacre explains that he got the idea from a young woman who uploaded a video of her singing the soprano part to a song of Whitacre's called "Sleep". After watching her video, Whitacre posted to his blog that he was looking for singers, and he posted a download to his song "Lux Aurumque". A man named Scott Hanes offered to be the one to put together and edit all of the videos. The finished product, which is linked above, is something you will surely never forget. I hope to one day be a part of his virtual choir!

Teaching in the 21st Century

In Teaching in the 21st Century, Kevin Roberts talks about what it means to be a teacher today, and I agree with every bit of it. The main point Robert makes is this: Teachers are no longer the main source of knowledge. We are the filter. Students have easy access to information nowadays through internet resources such as Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, and other websites. So if students want to know something, they don't have to go to their teacher and ask. They can just do a quick search on the internet! So, as teachers of the 21st century, it is not our duty to teach at them. It is our duty to engage them in learning using the amazing technology we have available to us. This means that we teachers definitely need to be technologically literate! Technology has become an important part of our daily lives. So it's important that we use it to engage our students in our classrooms.

Another point Roberts makes is that there is a stark difference between entertainment and engagement. He explains that entertainment is passive and allows escape from problems, while engagement is active and solves problems. Our job as teachers is to provide meaningful and powerful engagement to our students. When I begin my career as a teacher, I'm going to be teaching in a world that is very different from the world I grew up and earned an education in. So it's my duty to keep up with the advancements in technology and the other changes in our environment and adapt to it so I can better prepare my students for living and working in our ever-changing world.

Flipped Classroom

Room Flipped Class The idea of a flipped classroom is something I had never heard about until now, but it's a very interesting concept! Dr. Lodge McCammon explains in his video what it means to flip a classroom. Basically, teachers create videos explaining the new content that will be discussed the next day in class. Students are expected to watch the videos and prepare questions and work on sample problems to bring to class the next day. This way, the teacher doesn't have to stand in front of the classroom and lecture the entire time. By watching a video at home the previous night, students have more time to ask questions and apply what they learned, and the teacher has more time to help them. In the video Why I Flipped My Classroom, Katie Gimbar, a math teacher, explains why she decided to flip her classroom. She explains that she used to teach to what she calls the "middle" group of students, as in the students who understood the content and moved along at a normal pace. This left the group of higher level students not being challenged, and the struggling students didn't get the extra help they needed. Only 10% of the class time was spent on application this way. Now, with a flipped classroom, the students can review the informational videos as many times as they need, and the teacher has plenty of time in class to help each group of students with any concept they're having trouble understanding. Ms. Munafo from Hilburn Academy Elementary also gives a good explanation of what it means to flip a classroom in this video.

A flipped classroom is definitely something I can use in my teaching! Ms. Munafo explains in her video that the flipped classroom is currently being used mainly for math, and since mathematics is what I'm specializing in, I can definitely make great use of the "flipped classroom" concept. Khan Academy has uploaded a lot of instructional math videos to their YouTube channel, and their videos are wonderful examples of how I could make and conduct my own videos for my students. Yes, this will probably be a lot of work, but it will help my students better understand the material and be more engaged in the classroom!