Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Back to the Future
I just finished watching Brian Crosby's video, Back to the Future, and all I can say is WOW! This is a video of Brian presenting a project he did with his fourth grade class at Agnes Risley Elementary School in Sparks, Nevada. Most of his students are second language learners as well as at risk students. When asked some basic information at the beginning of the school year about where they live, the results were alarming. Out of 24 students, only 9 knew what city they live in, 12 what state, 3 what country, and 7 their address. Brian decided that his teaching would have to be extremely engaging to help these students out. So, he has the class keep blogs, make wikis, and use Skype. He incorporated all of this and more into the class's hot air balloon project. They learned about the science of hot air balloons through hands on experiments, and they also learned about the history of them. They then applied this knowledge to begin writing a story from the balloon's point of view about traveling through the atmosphere. Students reading the class's blogs wanted to get in on the action too, so the High Hope project was started. Students all over the world sent their high hopes, and they were all sent off into the atmosphere attached to a hot air balloon.
I was so impressed with Brian's determination to teach higher level thinking, not just facts for a test. If all students were taught this way, I think there would be much more excitement about school. Like Brian says, if students have an audience that they know is reading what they write, there is more motivation to do a good job. To me, this is a much better motivator than only writing in order to receive a grade. When academics are made to connect with students' lives like with the High Hope project, information starts sinking in and making more sense. Students are no longer just learning random facts. They are learning to make connections with and think critically about material. To me this form of learning is a lot more valuable in the long run than learning in order to pass a test.
A Vision of Students Today
A Vision of Students Today is a video about the realities of attending college in today's world. A group of 200 students were surveyed over a Google doc about their college experience, and the results are not surprising to me. Many students don't bother to read the expensive textbooks they pay for. Tons of papers and emails are written. Between eating, using cellphones, watching television, spending time on computers, sleeping, work, class, and homework, students often have to multitask just to complete everything. Class sizes are large, and teaching has become impersonal. They also presented the negative sides of using technology in education. For example, students reported bringing their laptops to class, but not doing anything related to the class on them. Many students report browsing Facebook throughout most of their classes. The video ends by presenting the idea that teaching with just a chalkboard will no longer be enough. Students should be taught through what they know best--technology.
I think many of the ideas presented in this video are very true. I used to see students doing anything and everything but school related things on their laptops when I was in 100 and 200 level courses. Maybe I am just not paying attention to what people around me are doing during class, but it seems to me as students progress to 300 and 400 level classes, they take school more seriously and cut down on not paying attention. Nevertheless, I still think it is a good idea to incorporate technology into education. Looking at things from the point of view of professors instead of students, technology can make classes run a lot smoother. Through the internet, teachers can post numerous resources for students to use and benefit from as well as assignments and tests. With so many great possibilities out there, I don't think educators should let students who misuse technology stop other students from enjoying the benefits of it. For example, I personally enjoy the fact that I can work on completing assignments for EDM 310 anywhere I have access to a computer and internet. This makes learning easier and more flexible to me. I can't imagine going through college without technology being utilized.
Since my last report on my PLN in October, I have been busy adding all kinds of resources to help me be a good teacher. I have found three new blogs to add that I think are really great. These teachers are so creative, and I have already found a lot of activities on their blogs that I plan to use in my teaching. In addition to the blogs, I have added several other great resources including PBS Teachers, Family Fun, SMART Exchange, Teacher Tube, School Tube, and Discovery Education. Now I can access all of these fabulous resources in one place. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have been finding many of these resources through Pinterest. This site has really helped me build up my PLN, and I know it will continue to do so throughout my teaching career. I even have extra room to grow my collection of resources.
The teacher I was assigned to for C4T #4 is Frank Noschese, a physics teacher. The first post of his that I read, VPython Screencasts, is about an assignment he gave his AP Physics class. They were to make a screencast about their VPython program they created. The post includes a video tutorial for the students showing exactly how to make a screencast for the assignment. There are also videos showing an example of a good screencast as well as a bad one. For my comment, I began by introducing myself. I then said that I never knew how to make a screencast before watching his tutorial, and I now understand it better. I then said that I would like to use screencasts in my classroom one day. I think they would be useful for showing how to accomplish a task on the computer. Finally, I thanked him for the tutorial, and wished him the best for the rest of the school year.
The next post I read, Metacognition Curriculum, is about a lesson plan on metacognition that he taught his students. He included all of the aspects of the lesson from beginning to end. These components include a survey, video segment, dry erase board activity, and a packet of articles on the subject. He said that next year he will probably split the lesson into two different days. For my comment, I began by introducing myself again. Then I told him that the lesson sounds really engaging for students, and appears to have taken a lot of planning. I then said how I think surveys are a great tool to see where students stand in an academic area. Finally, I said that I hope to deliver great lesson plans like his when I start teaching, then thanked him for sharing this one with everyone.
My first C4K assignment for November was an unusual one because it was not for a kid's blog. Instead it was Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli's blog about their adventures in Ireland. The post I commented on, Then There's Food, is about all of the fabulous meals they were enjoying throughout the trip. They included photos of several of the meals, and they all look delicious. At the time this post was written, they both agreed that their favorite meal was the seafood chowder at Gus O'Connor's Pub (as shown in the picture to the right). For my comment I began by saying how delicious all of the food in the pictures looks. I talked about how I am not very adventurous with food usually, but it might be a different story if I ever find myself in a foreign country. I asked if "rocket," a specific food mentioned in the post was good. I ended by wishing them the best during the rest of their trip.
The next post I commented on was for Loreli, a student from Alberta. Her post is a virtual poster about the Rocky Mountain region of Alberta. The poster includes text and a map of the region as well as photos and video of animals found in the region. For my comment, I began by introducing myself. I told her that the poster looks great, and that I like how she included a video. I then asked her which animal from the video is her favorite. I ended by telling her that I learned a lot about Alberta from her poster and to keep up the great work.
The next post I commented on was for Nolan. His post is about the book, James and the Giant Peach. He wrote a paragraph summarizing what I am guessing is the beginning of the story. I am not positive about this though, because I have never read the book. For my comment, I began by introducing myself. I then let him know that I thought his post was interesting to read. I said that I have never read the book, but his post makes it sound like an exciting story. I ended by asking what his favorite part of the story was, and to keep up the good work.
The last post I commented on was for Brandon, a tenth grade student at Baldwin County High School. His post is actually a video of himself interviewing another student in his class, Alexis, about her life. For my comment I began by introducing myself once again. I told him that I enjoyed watching his video. Then I mentioned that I had never tried cheese toast with ranch dressing, but listening to Alexis talk about it made me curious about it. I then told him that my favorite subject in high school was also math just as he mentioned it is his favorite. Finally, I told him that he did a good job on his post and to keep up the good work.
Monday, November 26, 2012
My group, November Jags, is coming along quite well with our final project. We chose to make an iBook. So far, we have gathered almost all of our individual components. We also have most of the group components. We are only missing a portion of our Smartboard lesson plan and an audio introduction. We also still have some work to do on our group produced text. Once we finish gathering these few things, all we will have left to do is put it all together in an iBook. Overall, I think we are where we need to be on this project to meet the deadline.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
When I read that for this week's blog post assignment I am supposed to create and complete my own assignment, I immediately knew what I was going to do. What better assignment could there possibly be other than one involving the one and only Pinterest? I am a huge fan of Pinterest, and I enjoy looking through the boards in the education category. I think it is a really helpful website for teachers to know about. So, without further ado, here is my Pinterest assignment!
Blog Post 12 Due 11/18
1. Go to Pinterest, and create an account. Explore the website, especially the education category.
2. Read Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education. Watch the video at the end of the article. Would you use any of these ideas in your classroom? Which ones? Why or why not?
3. Read The 20 Best Pinterest Boards About Education Technology. Visit each of these boards, and follow any that seem useful. Write one or more paragraphs about which boards you chose to follow and why.
4. Begin pinning to your own boards. What kinds of resources are you pinning, and how will they be helpful to you as an educator? Could Pinterest help with building your PLN? Why or why not?
My Completed Pinterest Assignment
After reading Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education, I am so excited to continue with my pinning! This article gives teachers four suggestions on how to use Pinterest to help with their teaching. These ideas are lesson plans, sharing ideas, organization, and student use. For lesson planning, there are so many activities and crafts posted on Pinterest that you are sure to find the perfect one for your lesson. So many teachers share their ideas through blogging, and Pinterest is the place where all of these ideas come together in an organized way. Any teacher knows that organization is key to a classroom running smoothly, and Pinterest is just the place for ideas and inspiration. From storage tips to classroom management strategies, there is something for everyone. Students can even get in on the pinning action too. Boards can be made to be edited by a group of people, so maybe each of your students might have to find an article or video on a specific science topic and post it to a shared board for an assignment. Group projects can be easily organized with sources pinned all in one place. There are just so many possibilities.
I would definitely use all of these ideas in my classroom. As I mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of this website. I am already finding so many great ideas for teaching, and since they are all in one place, they are easy to go back and find. I have always liked the quote, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." While this quote is absolutely terrible in the grammar department, I like the message. There are so many amazing teachers with fabulous ideas they are willing to share. Why should I try to reinvent the entire wheel when there is so much fabulous material already made just waiting to be modified to my preferences? That is not to say that I will never make up my own lesson plans and activities because I know I will. I think we should just take advantage of having access to so much inspiring material. As for organization, I'm just obsessed with it in general, so of course I would use ideas from Pinterest. Finally, I love the idea of using Pinterest for student assignments. I had not thought of it before, but I think it is genius! Although, I would probably only use it for this purpose if I teach older elementary students. I think it is a really organized, easy, and visually appealing way to keep track of student finds.
The next article I read, The 20 Best Pinterest Boards About Education Technology, is just what the title suggests. The author picked out the best boards about using technology in education, and put them all in one convenient place complete with descriptions of each. I chose my two favorite boards off of the list to follow. The first board I chose to follow is Vicki Davis's. Not only does she pin amazing technology resouces for the classroom, but also many other clever teaching ideas. Some of these include bulletin board ideas, science experiments, and printables, just to name a few. I already follow Vicki on Twitter, so I knew a Pinterest board from her would be just as great. The second board that I chose to follow is Melissa Alonso-Dillard's. She posts tons of great resources to use with Smartboards such as games, videos, websites, tips, and more. I chose to follow her because I am new to using Smartboards, and it will be helpful to have a few pointers for where to find good resources for them.
So far, I have 64 pins on my education board. Many of these are crafts, classroom management ideas, lesson plan resources, links to teacher blogs. I plan to use my education board as inspiration for lesson planning and classroom management. There are so many wonderful resources to be found on Pinterest. To me, the best part is that there is always something new on the website so it never gets old or boring. I think using Pinterest is a great way to build up my PLN because I have found so many amazing teaching blogs on it that I probably never would have seen otherwise. Pinterest brings teachers together, and it makes it easier than ever before to share teaching ideas. I love Pinterest, and I know it will help me as a teacher for years to come.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
The first post I read and commented on, The 21st Century Gifted Educator, is by Elvira Deyamport. The post is a video of a lecture given at a conference by she and her husband about creating a personal learning network. They focus on using Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Using a PLN is useful because teachers can collaborate with other teachers to share their ideas and learn new strategies. For my comment, I began by introducing myself as well as leaving links to my blog and the class blog. I told her about how this lecture was the first time I had heard of LinkedIn, and how I would like to learn more about it. I then told her about how I am working on building my own PLN in this class. Finally, I thanked her for all of the useful information.
The second post I read and commented on was Celebrating Global Connections during the #IWG12. This post is also by Elvira Deyamport. It is about the importance of incorporating technology into the classroom. She talks about how important it is for students to make connections with people around the world using technology, and how necessary this is in today's world. She also included a video of her students throuhout the school year connecting with students around the world via Skype. My comment has not yet been approved to show up on her blog, but I began by agreeing with her that it is very important for students to make connections with people from around the world using technology. I went on to tell her that I enjoyed watching the video of her students learning through Skype throughout the year. The children looked like they were having a great time as well as learning. Finally, I thanked her for all of the great ideas that I found on her blog.
Ms. Cassidy's First Grade
Watching First Graders in Ms. Cassidy's Class and Skype Interview with Ms. Cassidy gave me some great ideas about how to use technology in my future classroom. Ms. Cassidy says that she began learning about technology for the sole purpose of using it in her classroom to benefit her students. She says that technology is part of modern day students' everyday lives, and it needs to be incorporated into the classroom in order for successful learning to occur. She implements the use of technology in several ways in her classroom including blogging, wikis, video, Skype, and even Nintendo DS. I think the most important piece of advice that she had to offer in her interview is that each year will be different, so technology use will also be different. What works for your class one year might turn out to be disastrous the next year.
I think I will use several of her techniques in my classroom. The first of these is a class blog. I love the idea of parents being able to follow their child's progress, and see examples of their work from anywhere. This would be a really awesome tool for a child whose parents do not both live in town. Both parents could keep up with their child's progress instead of only the parent in town who receives the daily folder of papers that get lost anyway. Another technique of Ms. Cassidy's that I will use is video. I think making videos of children demonstrating new skills gives them an immediate, short term reason for learning the material thoroughly. This in turn, helps the children in the long run, because they now thoroughly understand the topic because of a fun activity. I also think it would be neat to use Skype in the classroom to talk to experts like Ms. Cassidy's students were in the video.
I can't picture myself using a couple of the techniques the Ms. Cassidy uses (although who knows what I will do one day). One of these is wikis. I have always found these to be a bit confusing, so maybe that is why I am not as eager to use them. I think if I take the time to learn about them like I have with much of the technology in this course, I might find them more useful. However, for now, I don't think they are for me. Another technique that I am a bit skeptical of is the use of the Nintendo DS. Again, this might be due to being unfamiliar with this technology. I have never heard of these being used in classrooms, but I bet the children really love it. I would love to learn more about this technique, and hopefully change my views about it. Overall, I think Ms. Cassidy has fabulous ideas on incorporating technology into education, and I can't wait to put some of these ideas to use.
The first C4K I did for October was for Larissa, a freshman at Peace Wapiti Academy (although my comment still says "awaiting moderation"). In her post she talks about why being a student at PWA is great. She mentions the education, infrastructure, and environment of the school, and how all of this is beneficial to her. For my comment, I first introduced myself and told her that PWA sounds like a great school. I told her that it is great that teachers are teaching material thoroughly, and that she is comfortable with the environment. All of these factors play a role in the quality of education she receives. I ended my comment by wishing her the best for her freshman year.
The next post I read was by Scott, a tenth grader who is blogging for his world history course. His post is about success. He talks about how the level of success one achieves depends on the level of work ethic. He uses Michael Jordan's success story to describe his own progress when it comes to presentations in his world history class. His first presentation did not go as well as he hoped because he did not put forth full effort. His goal for his next presentation is to push himself to do the best he can. For my comment, I began by introducing myself. I then told him how much I enjoyed his post, and that I completely agree with him. People don't succeed in life by sitting back and waiting for things to happen. You have to chase your dreams no matter how much work it takes.
The third comment I left was for Courtney, a seventh grader from Surrey, B.C. Her post is about what a true hero is to her. She talks about how a hero does not have to have a silly costume or name. Rather, a hero is someone she can trust and depend on. She mentions that the heroes in her life are her parents and her teacher. For my comment, I once again began by introducing myself. I then told her how I think it is great that she recognizes the characteristics of a true hero, and not just superheroes from movies and whatnot. I told her that the members of my family are also some of my heroes as well, and that it is great that her family is so supportive of her. She even wrote back to me thanking me for my comment. She wrote that it means a lot to her.
Finally, I left a comment for John, who is blogging for his seventh grade English class. His post is a characterization of Cherry from The Outsiders. He talks about how she has friends in both gangs of the story, so this causes her views of things to change throughout the story. He also talks about a quote she says, a significant action in the story from her, and the other characters' views of her. I began my comment by introducing myself as always. Next, I told him that I remember reading The Outsiders when I was his age. I had noticed on another post I read that this is his favorite book, so I asked him why it is his favorite. Finally I told him that I could get a sense of who Cherry is from is characterization, and that he did a great job.
Monday, November 5, 2012
A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind
In this USA Today article, Sebastian Thrun's ideas about how education might change in the next thirty years are described. Thrun is a Google vice president as well as the founder of Udacity, which is an education company. He used to be a professor at Stanford, but after creating an online course and experiencing that style of teaching, he could not bring himself to go back. He says once one experiences this form of education, there is no going back. His goal is to make education available online as well as free all within a very flexible environment filled with playing games for lessons. These courses would be taught by the best professors all around the world. Certifications and exams would require a fee.
As for grades, the idea is quite simple. There wouldn't be any. Students would be allowed to take as much time as they need to master each lesson. Classes would be large, reaching thousands of students all at once. These ideas are not meant to push education as we know it out the door, but rather it would be to allow as many people as possible to receive a quality education. This change in education is compared to the invention of film. Movies have not replaced live shows, but they have allowed more people to experience the stories.
I think there are both good and not so good points made in this article. For example, I have mixed feelings about his idea that learning should be as much fun as playing a video game. I absolutely love the idea of making learning fun and students being enthused about learning. I just worry that lessons in some schools would become more about fun and less about being engaging. Basically, I'm all for the idea, but I also think teachers would need to be very careful about making sure students are still learning the material.
I agree with his point that grades have become the focus of education instead of the actual learning. However, at the same time, I do think that students need boundaries. The whole "take as much time as you need to learn this" thing would probably backfire with many students. No matter how education is set up, I think there will always be that group of students who aren't interested at all in learning. Telling this particular group of students that they have as much time as they need to master a skill or lesson will probably translate to, "If I just say I still don't understand, I won't have to do more difficult lessons." Having said this, self-paced learning can still be a good thing. I just think it would work best if there is some sort of deadline at the end of the course that all lessons should have to be completed by. This way, we could still be sure that the students are getting all of the information they need to succeed in later courses.
I think this style of learning would work very well for many people who try to attend college with already established careers or families. A self-paced program would allow these people to learn on their own schedule. Also, since the learning is free, it would not be a big deal to drop a course and try again the next semester. Overall, the ideas presented in this article have their pros and cons, but I think this could be a really effective way to improve education as we know it.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
John T. Spencer's Cartoon
The first thing I thought of when I saw this cartoon by John T. Spencer, was Macs versus PC's. I think this cartoon is comparing a Papermate pen to a PC and a Ticonderoga pen to a Mac. PC's, like Papermate pens, are the cheaper option when it comes to buying a computer. However, often times people end up having many problems with PC's such as viruses. Macs are obviously an expensive option when buying computers, but many people, including myself, think they are worth it. Macs tend to get less viruses and have less problems in general. Basically, I think this cartoon is saying that you get what you pay for.
Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?
In this post, Mr. Spencer wrote a dialog between himself and the principal at his school. In this dialog they are discussing the teaching methods of Mr. Spencer. He has been using a game to teach and the principal does not approve of it. He says that students should be taught through rote memorization skills. He says that using a game to teach is a stretch. They argue back and forth for a while about this until the end when Mr. Spencer states his solution for the problem. He says, "I'll create an algorithm factory and integrate it into our Conflict-Oriented Reading and Writing Project (a.k.a. The Factory Game)."
In this post I think Mr. Spencer is saying that there are ways to get around strict standards. Teachers can adapt standards into engaging lessons that do not only involve rote memorization. Basically, according to the principal, as long as students can pass their rote memorization tests, they are learning, and the teacher is doing his job. This is not enough for Mr. Spencer though. He wants his students to not only memorize facts, but really be engaged and learn the material. I hope to promote this philosophy in my classroom as well.
The second post I read, Show and Tell, Mr. Spencer talks about how show and tell can be an effective learning strategy for students of all ages. He tells about how he created an assignment for his older students involving show and tell for an item that has special meaning to them. None of the students wanted to present first, so he began with his own item, a rock from the western frontier, and tells his story about the significance of the rock to his life. The lesson ignites from there, and many of the students present their own items and stories. After seeing all of them, Mr. Spencer wonders why more lessons in school can't be this personal for students. Through show and tell the students related their knowledge about the world to an item, and that takes critical thinking skills.
I think show and tell for older students is a great idea. As I mentioned earlier, it promotes critical thinking skills about what they are learning. You could take a history lesson and tell the students to bring in an item that relates the period of time to something in their own lives. To me, this sounds like a lot more fun and engaging than just memorizing dates and other facts. In fact, in my public speaking class we had to do an assignment similar to the one Mr. Spencer describes. We had to bring in an object and give a short speech about how the object relates to us and describes us. It was one of my favorite assignments in that class, and I really learned a lot about my classmates.
Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff Please
In this post, Scott McLeod wrote a sarcastic poem about children's use of the internet. He sarcastically tells parents, teachers, administrators, and board members to not let kids anywhere near the internet. They will end going down the wrong path such as viewing pornography and cyberbullying. Since there are so many evil things out there, children need to be banned from using the internet at all costs. Although he says he will allow his own children to use the internet, and take his chances on how they turn out.
I found this poem really humorous to read and all too true. Children need to experience what the internet has to offer. There are so many powerful learning tools available on it. Yes, there are also negative parts of the internet, but that fact of the matter is that kids are going to experience the internet at some point no matter what. Don't we want our students to know how to use it properly to find relevant information and make connections? In my opinion, the internet is all too powerful of a tool to brush aside because of a fear of the negative sides of it. The truth is there is potential for inappropriate content no matter what the chosen material for a lesson is. Bullying happens outside of technology just as easily as online. So are we going to ban children from all social interactions in school period? No recess, silent lunches, no group activities, the whole nine yards? As you can see, it is impossible to shield students from all negative happenings. We need to expose them to the internet and teach them what is good about it and bad.