Saturday, December 3, 2011

Final Report on PLN

I have been continually updating my Symbaloo page with new sites that I have come across throughout this semester. I added Mrs. Yollis' website along with Jose Picardo's list of A-Z Internet sites. In addition, I added some great sites to use in the classroom, including netTrekker and SAS Curriculum Pathways. I found some great clip art by Phillip Martin, as well as a site containing free graphic organizers. I also added some fun game sites that I will be able to use with my students for review and practice. My Symbaloo webmix is still not complete because I feel that I will continue to grow as a teacher and discover new and exciting sites that I will be able to introduce and use in my classroom.

C4T Number 4 Summary Post

    I had the pleasure of reading and commenting on the "Concrete Classroom" blog. It is the blog of Michael Kaechele. He is a Global Studies teacher in a Michigan high school.
    My first comment was made to his post entitled, "Genocide." In the post, Mr. Kaechele discussed how he was going to introduce and teach the concept of genocide. In the post, he asked people to comment with any ideas, suggestions or other feedback on his lesson. I commented to him that I liked his springboard into the lesson of asking the question, "Why do people hate?" I also thought it was a great idea to have the students interview real victims of genocide to get first-hand impressions of this problem. I also told him that the idea of a student-created video as a summation of the lesson was a fabulous idea that I was sure that the students would enjoy being involved in.
    My second comment was on Mr. Kaechele's post entitled, "I Don't Know Either." This was an update on this previous post, "Genocide." Mr. Kaechele decided to change his introductory question to his lesson to, "Why do people tolerate hate?" In addition, Mr. Kaechele brought in a guest speaker that was one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan to share his story. He also discussed the scandal at Penn State, relating it to the issue of genocide. The students divided into groups and began their research in order order to complete their final project, which was to produce a mini-documentary. After having some trouble, Mr. Kaechele provided the groups with a template to use for assistance with their research. However, he provided no direction for their final project. He wanted the mini-documentary to be completely student-centered. He hoped his stand-back approach would help his students become creative and have complete ownership in their project, thus instilling a sense of pride in them. I commented to Mr. Kaechele that I liked his idea of inviting a guest speaker as part of his introduction to his lesson on genocide. I also mentioned to him that, although he provided a template for his students to use during their research, I was glad that he left the creation of the final documentary entirely up to them. I told him that by doing this, he inspired his students to be creative thinkers.

Summary Post C4K (Covering November Comments)

    During the month of November, I had the opportunity to comment on some fabulous student blogs. The first blog that I commented on was that of Joe McClung. His post contained three lessons. The first was about a creative way the class was raising money for the United Way. The teachers volunteered to take their pictures and have a beard added to the photo using the Beard Me iPhone app. The students voted for their favorite teacher by donating money. The teacher with the most money won. The second lesson was reminding everyone that a little bit of humor can brighten a day. Mr. McClung told of a student named Kyle who came into class wearing a blue tutu. Everyone had a great laugh. The third lesson was about not giving up and trying to do your best. Mr. McClung told about his school preparing for the final meet of the cross country season. My comments to Mr. McClung pointed out that even a short laugh can brighten the classroom. I also told him that I thought the use of the Beard Me app was a creative type of fundraising, and I hoped he would post the picture of the teacher that raised the most money.
    The next comment I made was to a student in Mrs. Yollis' third grade class. Her name was Taylor S. She wrote a short story entitled, "Whitney and the Black Cat." I commented that Coco sounded like a determined cat and must really like to play with yarn. I told her that my cat, Kate, is similar because she likes to play with yarn, too. I told Taylor S. that I was glad Coco returned home and in time to go trick-or-treating, and I asked what Whitney and her cat's next adventure would be.
    My final comment to a student was to Mary I., who is a Year Six student at Pt England School in Auckland, NZ. Her post was about the Assembly held at her school on the first day of Term Four. I told her that I was happy she learned so many new things about space and our solar system. I was glad that she was able to learn so much from Team 1's presentation on the sun, and I reminded her that the sun is an extremely important part of our solar system. I concluded my comments by telling her that I was glad that she was learning by having fun and wished her the best of luck during Term Four.

Blog Post # 14

Jose Picardo's Educational Blog

    Technology and Education Box of Tricks is an educational blog written by Jose Picardo. Mr. Picardo is a Modern Foreign Language teacher at a secondary school in England. He started his blog in 2007, and won an Education Blog Award sponsored by Scholastic in 2011.
    After reviewing his blog and the various links, I believe that the purpose of his blog is to provide technology-related information that can be used to enhance teaching.
    On the main page of his blog, Mr. Picardo discusses some programs that can be useful to teachers. Triptico is a resource for the interactive whiteboard. I have not heard of this application before, but after reading about it, I can see that it would be a useful tool. Best of all, it is free. This application has different activities and interactive activities that you can customize to your lesson.
    Mr. Picardo discusses the benefits of the iPad, which is noteworthy because I have learned through EDM 310 of the many benefits this device has in the educational field. Mr. Picardo highlights an application named Comic Life. I have not used this app before, but it allows students to create their own comic strip. It could be based on an objective, but it also allows students to put a creative twist on the subject area.
    Mr. Picardo gives directions on his blog for creating a video quiz. He suggests using Word Press, a flip camera and a plug-in named Quizzin. The video quiz can be posted to a blog for students to take. I am not very familiar with this type of assessment and would need to research it more before making a decision on whether or not I will use it in my classroom.
    Voki Classroom is another program that Mr. Picardo discusses on his blog. This program would be beneficial in a foreign language classroom. Although the program appears interesting, it is not something that I would use. My degree is in elementary education, so I think this program would be more beneficial in a high school foreign language classroom.
    Mr. Picardo highlights Macmillan Teacher's Day. This is a seminar where he was invited to deliver the keynote speech. His speech was titled, "The Case for Social Networking in Education."
    In addition to the five programs he highlights on his blog, Mr. Picardo gives links to different categories that contain useful information and resources for teachers. The categories include: interactive whiteboards, Internet resources, modern languages, podcasts and tutorials, social media, and views and opinions.
    Mr. Picardo gives 10 tips for using technology in the classroom. These tips are all very useful. In fact, some of his suggestions have been included in the requirements for EDM 310. As such, I have first-hand experience in discovering the value of his tips. His top 10 tips include: "use streaming video, use music video more often, use teleconferencing tools, create your own interactive exercises, use your interactive whiteboard more effectively, create your own podcasts, start a blog or a Wiki, use social networks, use Internet tools, and make the most of your pupils' gadgets."
    One of my favorite links that Mr. Picardo has is his A-Z Internet Resources for Education. This is a useful list of programs available to enhance learning in your classroom. It is all technology-based. Mr. Picardo continually updates this site with new programs. I believe this list to be extremely useful. Therefore, I am adding it to my PLN, and I will recommend it to other teachers as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Project # 15 SmartBoard Instruction Part 2

Blog Post # 13

My Teacher is an App

By: Stephanie Banchero and Stephanie Simon

    “My Teacher is an App” is an interesting article published in the Wall Street Journal. This article discusses the pros and cons of a new concept of education - virtual classrooms.

    The traditional schools, classrooms, and the way students are learning are changing in some areas. “States and districts nationwide are launching online public schools. Other states and districts are bringing students into brick-and-mortar schools for instruction that is largely computer-based and self-directed.” The article goes on to mention schools in states such as Florida, Virginia, Georgia, and Idaho that require students in high school to take online classes. In fact, “thirty states now let students take all of their classes online.” This appears to be a growing trend around our country. “An estimated 250,000 students are enrolled in full-time virtual schools.” In addition, “more than two million pupils take at least one class online.” In some areas, the state and local districts oversee the online schools. In other areas, companies are hired to run the online schools. Two such companies are K12 Inc. of Herndon, Virginia and Connections Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. This change in education in some areas is a result of various factors, including: budget problems, dropout rates, dissatisfaction of schools in general, and the inability of the nation’s schools to compete with other countries. “Advocates say that online schooling can save states money, offer curricula customized to each student and give parents more choice in education.” Critics “have found that students enrolled full-time in virtual schools score significantly lower on standardized tests, and make less academic progress from year to year. They worry that kids in online classes don’t learn how to get along with others or participate in group discussions.” As a result, many experts recommend “hybrid schools which blend online study with face-to-face interaction with teachers.” In some areas, for example, “students complete most lessons online but come into class for teacher support and hands-on challenges.”

    Not only does the virtual classroom change how students learn, it also changes the way teachers conduct their teaching. Email, text messaging, phone calls, and online lectures are all examples of how teachers have had to change the way they teach and communicate in virtual classrooms. In addition, “an online teacher can supervise more than 250 students, since he or she doesn’t have to write lesson plans and most grading is done by computer.” So, the personal relationship that teachers traditionally establish with their students is limited.

    For some states and local districts, budget issues are forcing schools to move from a traditional classroom to one that provides online classes. Potential savings for large state districts are amazing. In Georgia, for example, savings from educating students online is about 60%. “Florida saves $1,500 a year on every student enrolled online full time.” However, online schools can cause financial strains for individual school districts since the law requires districts to send those students who attend online schools their share of local and state tax dollars to their “cyberschool.” For example, Spring Cove District in Pennsylvania had to send $340,000 to the cyberschool that 43 of their students transferred to this year. Other companies are making financial gains as a result of online schools. K12 and Connections Academy are two companies that have seen revenue growth during the past four years since their full-time enrollment has increased.

    With all that said, “academic struggles have followed the rapid growth” of online schools. Using a double bar graph to illustrate data from a 2010 Colorado study of standardized test scores, it was discovered that students in third through tenth grades enrolled in a full-time cyberschool “consistently lag behind those of non-online students, even after controlling for economic status and other variables.” Still, parents and students agree that there are benefits to online schools. They like the flexibility and media options available to students.

    After reading this article, I believe that there is a strong possibility that more and more school districts will begin to offer online schools or classes in the future. However, I believe that there are issues that still need to be addressed to make online schools successful in this competitive educational world. One of the benefits of a traditional classroom is the interpersonal skills that are learned through interactions with fellow classmates. These are skills that will be vital to students as they enter the work force one day. Another issue that concerns me is the fact that many students from low socioeconomic households do not have a computer at home or Internet service. Moreover, many of these students do not have access to computers, or the Internet. Some students simply do not have a way to get to a public library to gain access to a computer to complete their assignments. Most students rely on the public school bus program to transport them to and from their traditional school.

    I do realize that the educational institution is changing. There is a push toward taking advantage of the media available to help students be able to keep up with other nations. However, I think that schools can be just as successful by simply allowing students access to computers and virtual learning projects that are conducted in the traditional classrooms. I think the collaboration techniques with their peers and guidance of teachers are important attributes of the classroom experience.

Special Assignment # 1


    Metaphors are a type of figurative language. They are “comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in another way.” Metaphors are ways to describe them. We often use them to make a point or make something appear more interesting or entertaining. As teachers, we can use metaphors when teaching our students information to help them understand or relate to the topic that may seem particularly difficult for them to grasp. We can also use metaphors as part of our language arts curriculum to help students with creative writing, poetry, and novel studies. In addition, metaphors can be used as part of our history curriculum to help with comprehension or content material.

    Metaphors are often used when referring to history in general. History is often compared to a river, a tree, or even a road. In fact, a Chinese Proverb uses the metaphor, “to forget one’s ancestors is to be a book without a source, a tree without a root, when referring to history.” As immigrants assimilated into American culture, the United States was often compared to a “melting pot.” Often times, people in authority positions have used metaphors in their writings and speeches to help people fully comprehend the meaning of their messages. For example: John F. Kennedy said, “There’s an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.” Gerald Ford stated, “Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.” John Adams said, “People and nations are forged in the fires of diversity.” “A leader is a dealer in hope,” commented Napoleon Bonaparte. “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere,” said Nelson Mandela. Martin Luther King, Jr., used metaphors in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to create drama while highlighting some key issues. Two of those metaphors include: “great beacon of light of hope” and “crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

    Metaphors are also used in literature, poetry, and writing to enhance material for their readers. An unknown author wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” which is a great metaphor referring to the wealth of knowledge and adventure available through literature. Rudyard Kipling concurred by writing, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” William Shakespeare uses metaphors in his writings. In his “Sonnet 18” he compares love to summer, and in Romeo and Juliet love is being compared to the sun.

    Everyone has used metaphors at one point or another, whether it is in their writing, reading, speaking, or even in their educational classwork. There are many popular metaphors that may seem quite familiar. Some examples include: “It’s raining cats and dogs; he has a heart of gold; and, the noise is music to my ears.” In EDM 310, we have been exposed to many metaphors that are there to help and guide us as future educators. In the class blog page, Dr. Strange compared EDM 310 to riding a bike which reminds us that in order to be successful, we will need to continue to get back on the “bike.” Over the course of the semester, Dr. Strange has assigned us items to watch or read and post to our blog what we learned. In doing so, we were able to take what we learned with us as our journey as educators grows. In addition to Tom Johnson’s post comparing pencils to computers, we watched Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture,” which contained many metaphors. Mr. Pausch compared Tigger and Eyeore to how you live your life, and brick walls to the barriers in life. In the video, “Do You Teach or Do You Educate,” brick walls were compared to teach while blooming flowers were compared to educate. These along with some of the other blog post requirements used metaphors in a creative way to effectively drive home important points. I think that the use of metaphors throughout different areas in life is an effective tool for everyone to use.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Progress Report on Final Project

Final Project Update

    Our final project will include Mary LaCoste, Angela Pitts, and Owen Gill, and we will be doing our final reflection on the ups and downs of EDM 310. We plan on utilizing the green screen to enhance the effect with some really cool videos and pictures of software programs we have utilized throughout the semester. We don’t want to give too much away because we don’t want our idea to be hijacked due to its awesome originality!! Stay tuned for more details!!

Blog Post # 12

    Children will enter our classrooms from different backgrounds and different learning abilities and styles. Our job as their teachers will be to educate and inspire them regardless of their abilities and backgrounds to become creative and productive. Watch Constructivism, Inclusion and Technology. Respond by writing two or more paragraphs following the requirements in Writing a Quality Blog Post about the benefits of technology for students with below grade level abilities and some ideas you have of using technology in your classroom to help them learn.


    This video begins by showing a traditional classroom and asks, “What is wrong with this picture?” The video goes on to ask, “If we all face the same way, do we all have to learn the same way?” This clip highlights the benefits of technology in positively affecting the learning process of students with different learning styles and abilities; after all, everyone learns differently. “Technology adapts to any age group, any learning style or any culture.” There is no separation when using technology; everyone can learn to use it. “Technology allows for more seamless integration of differently-abled students.”

    With the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, classrooms have become integrated with students that have learning abilities that are below grade level. These classrooms are referred to as “Inclusion Classrooms.” The No Child Left Behind Act discourages self-contained ability grouped (resource room) classrooms. Instead, it promotes mainstreaming students with IEPs (Individual Education Plans) into regular classroom settings to be placed among their peers. Oftentimes, these inclusion students feel inferior to their peers because they are not functioning at the same level as their classmates. But, the use of technology in the classrooms puts all students on “equal footing.” As an inclusion paraprofessional in a local middle school, I am able to see first-hand the positive effects technology can create for students that struggle academically. Smart Boards, laptops, videos, robotics, etc., allow all students to learn and work collaboratively with each other. Disabilities become almost “invisible” as everyone is engaged in learning. As a result, all students gain a sense of pride and self-worth in their accomplishments. As a teacher, I plan to have my students actively engaged in the lessons with the use of Smart Board interactive programs. I would also like to use laptops regularly for research, word processing, web quests in content area, and review games. Technology is an important part of our classrooms. It is a way that allows all learners to prepare for their future – a future of success.

Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog

    I explored Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog, and I was extremely impressed. It was quite obvious that Mrs. Yollis has spent a lot of time putting her blog together and updating it. I explored the various links that she had and enjoyed looking at the information that was put together for other people to use and learn from.

    The Meet the Bloggers link showed a picture of some of her students in their classroom and gave some general information. For example, there are 22 students in the classroom, which is located in a school that is in a suburb of Los Angeles. It listed some of their hobbies, including: sports, karate, knitting, cheering, building with Legos, and reading. They also love blogging.

    I enjoyed reading about Mrs. Yollis on her Meet Mrs. Yollis page. She has been teaching for 25 years. In addition to teaching third grade, she has also taught combination classes and fifth grade. She enjoys teaching and working with parents. She holds a master’s degree in “Integrating Technology in the Classroom.” In her spare time, she and her husband love to travel. Some of her vacation spots include: Hawaii (where she enjoys swimming with turtles), Montana, Alaska, Belize, the Arctic Circle (for fly fishing), and San Diego. She attended the Google GEO Teachers’ Institute and learned about the Giant Traveling Maps. This is a program that is offered through National Geographic. It allows schools to “borrow” giant maps. The cost is $480 for a two-week loan of the map. Mrs. Yollis and her students show an example of these giant maps.

    The video How to Comment is a student-made video. The students provide five tips on comments. These tips are: compliment, add new information, make a connection, end with a question, and proofread. The students suggestion that “content is key” is essential to commentating.

    Mrs. Yollis’ Website was precious and appropriate for third graders. The page contained animation for autumn by having trees with leaves falling and a turkey that made sounds when you put your cursor over it. Her website contained multiple links for students and parents. It contained class information, Mrs. Yollis’ e-mail, a learning game, vocabulary, activities article links, and general curriculum information.

    The Learn HTML Code link provides information on codes to be used in your blog. It also gives a video on how to create a hyperlink. One piece of advice Mrs. Yollis offers is that she leaves the code on her desktop, so all she has to do is copy and paste it.

    Time Zones of Friends takes you to a page of different clocks associated with friends all over the world. The clocks show the times at many different locations.

    Learn About California is a video set to music showing pictures of California symbols, such as the state bird, state flower and state tree. It also gives the population, a picture of the state capital building, and a picture of the current governor. Finally, the video shows pictures of some famous sites in California, such as Death Valley, the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland and Hollywood.

    Learn How to Shoot Great Digital Images is a video of students giving tips to taking spectacular pictures. Some tips include using the wrist strap, holding the camera level and pressing the shutter without moving the camera.

    Educational Blogging Resource for Teachers takes you to Mrs. Yollis’ Wiki page. This gives valuable information and resources that can be used in the classroom, including ideas for using technology in the classroom.

    Mrs. Yollis’ blog page contains some information in its sidebar. Like EDM 310, Mrs. Yollis has a cluster map. Her blog had 72,060 visitors between January 1, 2010, and October 27, 2011. EDM 310 had 48,860 visitors between January 9, 2010, and October 20, 2011. Also, located on the sidebar is the New Global Project. This project allows her students to learn from other children in different countries. This week’s post is from Leopold, Australia. The students in Australia talk about the foods they have at school for lunch and snack. In Australia, the cafeteria is called a canteen, and the most popular snack is chocolate chip biscuits. This is a great learning experience for students. In addition, the sidebar contains awards that the blog has won. Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog has won several awards from Edublog, including first runner-up in 2009 and 2010, as well as a lifetime achievement award in 2010. The blog won best overall for elementary in 2009 from Digital Voice Awards. Finally, the sidebar contains a Blog Archive, Pals, a link to become a follower, gratitude for commenting, and a link to a Happy Birthday Blog. Mrs. Yollis is constantly updating her blog with new information and posts which contributes to the reason her blog is award-winning.

Project 14

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blog Post # 11

First Graders in Ms. Cassidy's Class

    This video showcases how Ms. Cassidy uses technology in her first grade classroom. The children tell about different programs that are used. The students use Ms. Cassidy’s webpage to find things on the Internet to help them learn. They can access it from school and home. Using Wikis allows students to ask other people for information and allows students to ask other people for information and allows them to respond. The students will write blogs, which helps them to write better. People all over the world can read their posts and comment to them. They can even make comments to each other as long as they remember to write nice comments. They use Skype to talk to other people, classrooms, or even experts to gain information relating to lessons. Students are allowed to use their Nintendo DS game system which promotes problem solving and sharing. They also use videos in the classroom to learn information.

    I was very impressed with this class and the amount of different types of media that Ms. Cassidy incorporates into her classroom and her lessons. It is very inspiring to me to see technology working in the classroom to help students learn. Best of all, the kids are excited about learning and having fun.

Skype Interview with Ms. Cassidy

    Dr. Strange and his EDM 310 class conducted a Skype interview with Ms.Cassidy. She is a first grade teacher in Moose Jaw, Saslatchewan, Canada. The conversation’s theme was technology.

    Dr. Strange led a discussion of Ms. Cassidy’s experience with technology. She began her journey into technology about 10 years ago after five computers were put in her classroom. “In first grade,” she comments, “five of anything is considered a center.” So, she had to create something for the children to do. As a result, her webpage was born. She has received a lot of support from her technical director and funding through the government for professional development. Ms. Cassidy is always updating and trying to add new material and programs. Her class has been blogging for five years, and she has been using videos for two years.

    Blogging is one of her most used technology components. She sends permission slips home on the first day of school and sets some ground rules. Students are never allowed to post their last names, and Ms. Cassidy makes a point when using pictures to make sure the picture doesn’t match the child’s name. Blogs are a portfolio of a student’s work, showcasing their writing. She tries to blog at least once a week in her classroom. Students love the fact that people all over the world can see their work and make moments to them, including students in EDM 310. Parents like to read blogs because it allows them to monitor their child’s progress, and they can view it at their convenience.

    Ms. Cassidy believes that, “technology is not going away. We can’t teach kids in this generation the same way kids 20 years, 10 years, and even 5 years ago were taught. We have to use different tools. The world has changed.” She believes that you are “handicapping students and yourself if you are not using technology.” As a result, she feels that every teacher should be technologically literate.

    I enjoyed listening to her interview. She made some good points regarding the positive effects of technology in the classroom. She also encouraged me, as a professional, to use more social networking programs such as Twitter, Blogger, and Facebook to gather information and ideas to use in my classroom. The biggest constraints that I see are time and funding. Therefore, I will try to plan wisely utilizing technology to teach the curriculum standards. Funding is a problem for schools everywhere. I would look into available grants that could be used for technological programs and professional development. Teachers need have continuing education on the technology available to them and how to incorporate different media into their classrooms.

C4K Summary Post (covering October comments)

    During the month of October, I had the privilege to comment on the blog posts of several young students. On October 2, I commented to Jacquelyn from New Zealand. She had written about a place that she would like to visit. Her destination choice was Los Angeles, California. I responded to her that I lived in Alabama and have never been to California. I told her that I would like to visit Los Angeles' beaches. It would be fun to see the difference between Alabama's sandy white beaches and those of Los Angeles. I also told Jacquelyn that I have visited Disney World in Florida, but not Disneyland in California. I told her that I imagine Disneyland would be just as much fun as Disney World. I wished her well on her dream of being able to visit Los Angeles.
    On October 8, I responded to Gina from Kids With a View. She is five years old and explained what a blog is. She says, "a blog is something to put learning stuff on, type comments, see other peoples' work, and other people can see what you're learning about." I responded to her by thanking her for her information and mentioned that he post would be helpful to me since I am new to blogging, having just started in August.
    On October 16, I responded to two students. One of the students I was assigned to; the other student I chose using the random student picker. I was assigned to comment on Kelsey's blog. In her post, she gave some helpful examples on how to figure out density of an object. I responded to her by telling her that the tips she gave me were very helpful, and that I planned to pass them along to my seventh grade daughter. I selected Jadyn's blog to comment on using the random student picker. Jadyn wrote a post about insects and why they are attracted to flowers. I commented to him that he was correct that the bright colors of flowers attract insects. I also added that spring and summer have many colorful flowers, so you might see more insects during those seasons.
    On October 23, I commented on Alex's post from Mr. C's Grade 8 sixth hour. He wrote a short paragraph spotlighting the mood and setting of an event. I responded to him by commenting that I enjoyed his use of descriptive words to paint a picture of his journey through the forest.
    My last comment in October was on October 30, to a young boy named Michael from New Zealand. His post was an animation of a New Zealand landmark. He asked people to make a comment by guessing which landmark he was showing. I commented to Michael that I liked his animation, and I guessed that it represented the Harbour Bridge.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

C4T Summary Post #2

    I commented on Michael Kaechele's Concrete Classroom blog on October 23 and October 30. Mr. Kaechele lives in Michigan and teaches Global Studies in high school.
    On October 20, Mr. Kaechele wrote a post about a lesson he taught on imperialism and colonialism. The post was titled, "Imperialism in my classroom today." In order for his students to understand these concepts, he wanted to use a real-life situation that his students could relate to. He decided to remove all of the laptops from the classroom. I responded that I thought his way of relating the concepts of imperialism and colonialism to real-life was a great way to show his students how their life could look like in that type of society.
    Mr. Kaechele's other post, written on October 23, was titled, "6 best reasons to attend #edcampGR." This post contained a list of six individuals that he has met that will be at the camp on November 5. According to Mr. Kaechele, these people are great educational resources. Mr. Kaechele provided the credentials of each individual, and all were very impressive. I responded that the conference sounded like a good place to meet a great group of people committed to education and making it a positive and productive system for student learning.

Blog Post # 10

Do You Teach or Do You Educate

    “Do You Teach or Do You Educate” is an interesting video that highlights the differences between a teacher and an educator. The video incorporates pictures and music to further highlight the differences between a teacher and an educator.

    The video begins with a classroom of emptiness. It provides many definitions of the word “teach,” each highlighted with a picture symbolizing a barrier. For example, it shows pictures of an impassible brick wall, metal plates, a wood floor, and even a lock to make the point that to teach is uninspiring. Students can learn from a teacher, but are they really learning, or are they simply recalling facts?

    As the video moves to showcase an educator, the music changes to a faster beat and the pictures are ones that contain more color and inspire growth and life. There are pictures of flowers, plants, trees, and brick walls that can be climbed over.

    The video uses symbolism to reinforce the idea that teachers need to be educators. We need to inspire our students. We need to guide students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. Just like the picture used in the video presentation of the tree-lined trail leading to the brick wall, we need to show students the way. But, ultimately, they have to figure out how to get over the brick wall. As a teacher, I plan on educating my students by providing opportunities to collaborate, explore, and crate projects using a variety of resources, especially technology-based.

Tom Johnson’s Don’t Let Them Take the Pencils Home!

    In Tom Johnson’s post, he tells a story of Gertrude. She works with school curriculum and is worried that students who use “pencils” will have lower test scores. These students come from low income families that see “pencils” as a form of entertainment. Their parents are not familiar with “pencils,” so they don’t understand their purpose. Gertrude plans to meet with the parents and students to tell them about the “pencils.”

    I think Tom Johnson used a great metaphor in his post. He compared pencils to computers. Both can be a form of entertainment and both can give the perception that they have no value for education because they can be entertaining. I agree with him that parents need to be informed on the value of computers in education. Computers are tools just like pencils. They can help students learn. I believe that the more parents are informed on the value of computers in our classrooms, the more that they will embrace the idea. After all, the goal and focus should be on the education of our youth. In order to keep pace with the technological changes in the world, teachers must utilize the technological schools available to them in the classroom. It is not going away.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Project # 13

Blog Post # 9

Mr. Joe McClung – What I’ve Learned This Year (2008-2009)

    At the time he wrote this blog, Mr. McClung had recently completed his first year teaching. He taught sixth grade science in Noel, Missouri. He created his blog page to share with others what he learned as a first-year teacher.

    I really enjoyed reading his post because it brought back memories from years ago when I began my career as a fifth grade teacher at Indian Springs Elementary School in Eight Mile, Alabama. The year was 1994, and I was fresh out of college with many grand plans and ideas for my students. I was so excited. But then reality set in, and I realized that having my own classroom was very different from what I expected. Like Mr. McClung, I grew and learned a lot during my first year, but I remained positive. I wished that I had had the opportunity then to read a blog like Mr. McClung's because he wrote some honest observations and tips that would have been very helpful to me during my first year.

    Some of his advice and observations from his first year include: “Instead of focusing a lesson on observation, make it student-centered. No lesson is ever perfect. The lesson you teach and the one you plan are always different. Communicating is the best way to resolve any issue in the workplace. Don’t become upset when students don’t meet expectations. Our job is simply to pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again. Technology is our friend and essential to living in our society today. In order to build the respect that we all seek in a student-teacher relationship, it is important to take interest in the lives of our students. It’s never too late to change your way of thinking, learning, or style.”

    These are all very good points that all teachers should take to heart. Our ultimate goal as teachers is to touch the lives of our students, and guide and challenge them to achieve the best that they are capable of.

Mr. Joe McClung – What I’ve Learned This Year (2009 -2010)

    At the time of this blog, Mr. Joe McClung had just completed his second year as a teacher. He was at a new school, teaching new subjects. Inspired by many comments, including those from EDM 310 students in Dr. Strange's classroom, Mr. McClung decided to create an annual reflection in his blog of his teaching year. It contains lessons learned, as well as, advice for other teachers.

    The first lesson he learned was to “adapt.” For his second year in education, he moved to a junior high school in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Instead of teaching sixth grade science, he was now teaching three subjects. He was teaching science, social studies, and Arkansas history. While he loved teaching science, he was not as fond of social studies and history. In fact, he found himself in “survival mode,” assigning busy work and notes just to get through the day. So, he had to decide to make an effort to make social studies and history fun and exciting for his students. As a teacher, each school year will bring new challenges for you to overcome. His advice to fellow teachers is simple. “Learn how to adapt when the current situation requires it. The lesson to learn from here is never get too comfortable, change is good and ultimately makes us better teachers.” I had first-hand experience in adapting. After my first tear teaching fifth grade at Indian Springs Elementary School, I moved to fourth grade. Even though I was apprehensive at first, it was the best thing that could have happened. I really enjoyed teaching fourth grade.

    His next piece of advice was named, “The Path Least Troubled.” In this piece, he simply reminds us that our goal as teachers is to create independent learners. We need to guide students to be able to think for themselves. He “doesn’t want students to always look for the right answer, but instead take a different approach that requires them to think analytically and access each situation on an individual basis.” I think this is extremely important since we live in a standardized testing world that doesn’t promote critical thinking.

    “Find Your School Mom” is another helpful hint for success. Parents can be really wonderful and can be very helpful and kind. Mr.McClung believes “it’s a great asset to have someone who knows the ins and outs of school. If you handle yourself right and really gain the respect of your school mom. She will do anything for you and that’s always useful.”

    “Check Your Ego at the Door” is another lesson Mr.McClung has learned. He believes teachers should do whatever it takes to get students engaged in learning, even if it means we have to step out of our comfort zone and act silly. As teachers, we should be willing to do whatever it takes to get the point across. For example, one day in October, the language arts teachers at the middle school that I work at come dressed in a character to teach different skills. They call it their “character carousel” as students visit each of the five classrooms to learn a different skill. Dressing up in costume is not necessarily their favorite activity, but their students love it. “Our students need to know that we have a passion for our jobs if we ever expect them to take our subjects serious.”

    Another piece of advice Mr. McClung offers us is, “Don’t Be a Control Freak.” He believes that allowing students to have jobs in the classroom is important. When I taught elementary school, my students looked forward to being a classroom helper. “As teachers, we need to teach our students how to perform tasks in the classroom rather than depend on us to do it for them. This requires them to be responsible and take ownership for the classroom experience.”

    “Scope and Sequence” in the classroom is essential. As teachers, we need to spend adequate time on subjects and make that amount of time consistent with the assessments which are given.

    A great piece of advice Mr. McClung gives is, “Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Important.” In every occupation there is conflict and adversity. As teachers we need to be able to put aside differences and concentrate on the reason we became educators. We want to make a difference in the lives of our students. “It’s about bringing your best effort for your students.”

    His last piece of advice from his second year as a classroom teacher is, “It’s What You Learn after You Know It All That Matters.” This tip is something every teacher could follow. “Listen to those around you that have more experience, alter their advice to fit your style as an educator.” I believe that teachers are also learners and there is always room for more knowledge and improvement.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blog Post 8

Dr. Richard Miller - This is How We Dream - Parts 1 & 2

    In Dr. Richard Miller's video presentations, he points out the changes in communication that we are experiencing. "How we research, collaborate and publish is moving toward becoming web-based. Information is readily available to us via the Internet." As a result, Dr. Miller predicts changes in literacy. He "foresees a time students will compose not with word processing but with digital composing material." He believes our dream should be to "inspire teachers for visual literacy." Our schools will become a "digital environment." As a result, schools will have access to an enormous amount of information that will be constantly updated and immediately available. Libraries will start to become out of date, as they cannot keep pace with the information and resources available on our own computers. Dr. Miller suggests using resources such as iTunes U to download lectures to obtain academic information. He believes students will need to "compose with text, audio and video." Communication can become visual in an instant. Programs such as Skype, Twitter and Blogger are examples of how communication is changing.
    By taking EDM310, I think that I am becoming better prepared to utilize multimedia presentations in the classroom. I have had the opportunity to learn about and use many of the resources available to assist teachers. The blog posts that I have written and some of the projects that I have created have helped me immensely. I also feel better prepared to guide my students in using the technology to help them use their creativity with multimedia applications.

Blog Post # 12 by Carly Pugh

    Carly Pugh’s EDM Blog Post #12 was fantastic! It was evident that she put a lot of time, thought, and effort into this post. She created an assignment that required students to “create a You Tube playlist of ten videos that describe your teaching philosophy and relate to things you have learned in this class. What could you do with them in your teaching environment?”
    As a response to her assignment, Carly Pugh found a variety of videos describing her teaching philosophy and provided links to them. I think she does an excellent job of answering Dr. Richard Miller’s call for writing with multimedia. She uses video examples to justify her ideas of using technology in her classroom. In the video, “Think Different Crazy Ones,” she is able to point out that we all learn differently. This video supports her idea that the traditional classroom environment needs updating. In addition, in the video, “The Schools Children Deserve,” Ms. Pugh demonstrates how learning needs to take place beyond the classroom walls. Teachers need to encourage creativity and they can use multimedia resources to achieve this. Two of my favorite videos that she included were, “Inclusion is Belonging” and “Disability Means Possibility.” These videos reinforce Ms. Pugh’s stance that students learn at many different levels. Technology is a way to reach out to all levels to spark their creativity into becoming successful students. Wouldn’t Dr. Richard Miller be proud!

"The Chipper Series" and "EDM310 for Dummies"

    I enjoyed watching the “Chipper Series” and “EDM310 for Dummies.” These were two student-created videos highlighting some tips and information that would be useful for students currently enrolled in EDM310.
    The main message in the “Chipper Series” is don’t procrastinate. Students in EDM310 are given deadlines for their work. The video warns against excuses and reminds students to take responsibility for their course requirements and complete them on time.
    “EDM310 for Dummies” is a creative video highlighting some of the projects and activities that students in EDM310 will use and create. It also gives reminders and helpful hints for students to be successful.
    Watching these two videos has given me inspiration for videos that I could create or participate in to showcase EDM310. One idea that I have thought about is the “ABC’s of EDM310.” I would come up with an idea for each letter of the alphabet. For example, “A is for Assistants; B is for Blogger; C is for checklist; etc.” Another possibility that I have thought of would be to use some of the programs available with the SMART Board to create a game show, such as Jeopardy, reviewing some aspects of EDM310. Regardless of the type of video I am able to participate in, I would like to highlight some keys to success and projects in EDM310. I would like to showcase the positives in the class because I feel like I have already learned a lot of new things that will help me in my classroom.

"Learn to Change, Change to Learn"

    “Learn to Change, Change to Learn” was an interesting video pointing out the need for change in our schools. With all of the advancements in technology, the classroom is changing. Teachers should not concentrate on having their students memorize facts or stress about standardized testing. This video suggests that teachers gear their classrooms toward project-based learning using the technology that is available. Students today are exposed to a variety of technological devices and programs outside of the classroom that are very stimulating and fun for them. This video suggests that teachers need to bring that same technological aspect into the classroom. As a result, students will develop and engage in enrichment programs that will better prepare them for their future. After all, how many employers require their employees to complete regular standardized tests?
    The video suggests that this change in learning needs to begin with the community and teachers. The community needs to work together and support the schools in their endeavor to change the way learning takes place. Teachers need training on the best ways to incorporate the resources that are available to them. Teachers will need to inspire their students to research and collaborate with others to solve problems using the technological resources available.
    I am very excited about the future shift in teaching. I work at a local middle school as a paraprofessional, and the teachers have to work very hard preparing students for all of the standardized testing that means very little to the students. These public school students are required to take county, state and federally mandated tests. Approximately nine weeks of classroom instruction is dedicated to test review and actually taking the tests. This equates to one-quarter of the school year. I think this is ridiculous. This time could be better spent focusing on an area that would meaningfully impact our students and their future. Technology is a part of the lives of students today and in the future. I believe that we need to dedicate more classroom time for students to familiarize themselves with the technological resources available to them. Technology plays a big part in the lives of students today. Why not take the time to allow them to embrace it?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Project # 10 Personal Learning Network

    For my Personal Learning Network, I have chosen to use Symbaloo. I like the visual format that is available with this program. I have just started adding web links to my page. I have tried to divide the page into different areas. The bottom right, I designated as personal and have included some of my frequently visited sites, such as Target and Old Navy. The top right, I reserved for my Gmail and Blogger links. The majority of the remaining top and left side is dedicated to professional sites. I included some of the video sites that I mentioned in my podcast, including School Tube and Teacher Tube. I also added sites dedicated to Alabama resources such as ALEX and Alabama Virtual Library. As I was searching for other sites to add to my homepage, I came across some great resources for SMART Boards. Some of those sites that I included are SMART Board Lessons and Activities, Smart Exchange, and Scholastic Resources for SMART Board. I look forward to continuing to add to and adjust my PLN. I don’t think that it will ever be completely finished because I feel that, as a teacher, I will always be learning in my professional career and will adapt my PLN accordingly.

C4T # 2 Summary Post

    I had the opportunity to view Mr. Bernia’s Blog page. Mr. Bernia is a middle school principal. I enjoyed reading two of his posts because he discussed issues and ideas that are relevant in schools today.
    In his post, “Watching the Red Flags…Dropout Prevention,” on September 13, he discussed motivating students to attend school every day. Unfortunately, some students will drop out of schools. Mr. Bernia believes that teachers need to motivate students to show up at school because there might not be anyone at home pushing them to come. He suggested that teachers try to make a point to notice students and get to know them. He believes a simple “hello” or “have a great day” is all that some of these kids need. In my comments, I agreed with Mr. Bernia. I think that the more we take a personal interest in some students, the more they will want to come to school.
    The second post of Mr. Bernia’s that I read was titled, “Setting the Tone…” This post was about school morale. He believes that the teachers and staff set the climate of the school. He goes on to say that small positive gestures make huge impacts within the general feeling of the school. In my comments to him, I agreed and responded, “When the teacher is happy, the feeling is contagious with their students. As a result, a child’s learning environment becomes a positive and productive element.”

Project # 11 Short Movie

Blog Post # 7

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

    Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. He was chosen to give a lecture in the school’s annual lecture series, “The Last Lecture.” The organizers of this lecture series chose a professor to deliver a speech as if it was going to be his last speech. Unfortunately, this topic really hit home with Mr. Pausch because he had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and was given three to six months to live. The topic for his lecture was supposed to be, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” However, Mr. Pausch decided to deliver his lecture on three topics: “My Childhood Dreams, Enabling the Dreams of Others, and Lessons Learned – How you can achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others.”
    Mr. Pausch's childhood was full of happiness. He was always smiling and loved to dream. He wrote a list of childhood dreams and worked throughout his life to achieve them. He never gave up hope in accomplishing these goals. He was faced with “brick walls,” but he was not deterred. Mr. Pausch believed that “brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.” I think that this piece of advice is very important for students. It encourages determination and effort, which are two qualities that lead to success. Mr. Pausch did not allow the “brick walls” to prevent him from achieving most of his childhood dreams. He was able to experience zero gravity, write an article for the World Book, won many stuffed animals, and met his childhood idol. Although he never played professional football, he believed that he learned the most lessons from his many years playing youth football. He credited his coach, Jim Graham, with teaching him several life lessons. These lessons can be applied to students in your classroom. Some of these lessons that I feel are beneficial are: “when you screw up and no one is saying anything, then they gave up; experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted; and most of what we learn, we learn indirectly.” Sometimes, students become upset when they feel teachers are on their case, but as Mr. Pausch points out, “Your critics tell you about love and care.” If teachers didn’t push their students to be the best that they could be, then they wouldn’t be doing their jobs. Mr. Pausch also learned about indirect learning, which he referred to as a “head fake.” A “head fake” is teaching someone something, but they are actually learning something else. As teachers, we need to master the “head fake.” We can use fun activities to actually teach an important skill. Becoming an Imagineer was another childhood dream that Mr. Pausch was able to accomplish. With perseverance, he was hired to work for Disney on a virtual reality simulation for an Aladdin exhibit. He didn’t allow the “brick walls” to prevent him from achieving this dream. In fact, he was asked do become an Imagineer permanently. He turned down the offer and learned another life lesson: “be careful what you wish for.”
    Part two of his lecture was “enabling the dreams of others.” In accomplishing this, Mr. Pausch used his position as a professor to establish programs and courses at the university where he taught. He designed a project-based course called, “Building Virtual Worlds.” It required a lot of work, but it had amazing results. Students had to work together to create projects, and they learned what it took to make other people happy. This is a great lesson for teachers to use in their classrooms. Make lessons meaningful, but fun. Another program he worked to establish was the “Dream Fulfillment Factory.” This was a two-year course that allowed students to gain a professional master’s degree. This course required students to create projects using virtual worlds. It used “video games technology to teach useful stuff.” Mr. Pausch believed the keys to success of this program were the “focus on people and learning to work in groups.” Collaboration skills are extremely important in schools, as well as in life. Students must learn how to work together effectively. Mr. Pausch’s professional legacy is a program named “Alice.” This program allows children to have fun learning something difficult. It is one of his famous “head fakes.” Students are having fun making movies, while all the time, they are learning to program.
    The last part of the lecture was “Lessons Learned.” According to Mr. Pausch, this is “what lets you achieve your dreams.” He encouraged people to use the resources available to them, such as parents, friends, colleagues, and mentors, to achieve their goals. I believe that both teachers and students can use some of his lessons to become successful. Some of his lessons that I feel are most valuable, and that I plan to bring to my classroom, include: “cherish and use the feedback loop; the hardest part is listening to it; find the best in everybody, no matter how long you have to wait for them to show it; never lose the child-like wonder, it drives us; show gratitude; don’t complain, just work harder; be prepared and luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”
    Mr. Pausch’s “Last Lecture” contained a lot of information that I can use as a teacher and in my life. He ended his lecture by asking his audience if they figured out the “head fake.” He said, “The speech wasn’t about achieving your dreams. It was about how to live your life. Dreams will come to you.” The second “head fake” was the talk wasn’t for us; it was for his kids. I believe that he might have been mistaken with that second “head fake.” He delivered a message for everyone that heard him. It was a message of life lessons that we can all use to make us better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

C4K Summary Post (covering September comments)

    In September, I commented on the blogs of three students. They were very interesting to read. The first blog that I commented on was named "Once Upon A Time." This blog page contained book reviews. The book highlighted when I read the blog was The Hunger Games. I told the author of this blog that her blog page would be a great resource for a Language Arts classroom. I also told her that her blog would be a good asset for my seventh grade daughter, who does not enjoy reading. She could use the information in the blog to find books that interest her. The author of the blog emailed me to thank me for my comment, and to wish my daughter success in using her blog to help her find books that she enjoys.
    The second comment for kids was on a post by Allison. She wrote a post about wanting to take a trip to Texas. My family and I travel to Texas every year to visit family and friends. So, in my comment, I suggested some things that she can do in Texas. I told her about the Dallas Zoo, the Dallas Aquarium and some of the great city parks. Finally, I wished her good luck with her trip.
    For my last comment to kids in September, I commented on a blog written by Byron. He attends St. Elmo School and wrote a letter to Lucy Buffet. He thanked her for her generous donation to his P.A.C.E. class. I told him that I enjoyed reading his letter and hoped that he will have fun creating some great projects using the iPad that was donated to his class.

Blog Post # 6

The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler

    The Networked Student is a fascinating video pointing out the direction schools will be moving toward. This video supports the movement toward technology-based learning. Schools will not have textbooks, and teachers will rarely lecture. Instead, students will learn through a social network of many diverse connections using a variety of technological tools. Students will make connections with others that will strengthen the learning process. In doing so, teachers will become "Teachers of Connectivism."
    The Networked Student will be building their curriculum-learning network by finding valid websites and programs available to support their education. Students can use social bookmarking sites to share URLs available on specific topics. They can also use blogs to comment and offer their opinion on a variety of topics. Audio and video podcasts are available from sites such as iTunes U, which provides students access to some of the best professors in the world. Skype and other video sharing sites allow students to share knowledge. Regardless of the technology used, the networked student will be able to use and share a knowledge base with others all over the world. New sharing tools are constantly being updated to make it easier for students to connect with new contacts and learn effectively from contacts that have been previously established.
    Teachers play an important role in the development of a networked student. Teachers model how to build a learning network and take advantage of the many learning sites that are available. They provide guidance when students have problems and show students how to navigate the web. Teachers help students become excited about finding content knowledge. They guide students to communicate respectfully with content experts and help them organize all of the information that they have collected. A teacher's ultimate hope for his or her students is for them to maintain the learning network that they have created, use it to navigate their future, and creatively solve problems.
    As a teacher in today's classroom, I am willing to allow students the opportunity to use a variety of technologies to strengthen their learning process. To start, I would plan to implement web quest learning and video sharing within classes. My hope would be to use audio and/or video podcasts that can be shared on the school's website. In know that I will have to start small and that I will have to build the use of networking in my classroom over an extended period of time. As a result of my efforts, though, I believe students will become excited about learning and want to become lifelong learners.

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (or PLN)

    In this seventh grade science class, students are learning how to find information on the Internet and how to organize their own personal page. This particular student uses Symbaloo EDU to organize her information. She uses the blocks across the top to organize her personal sites and reserves the bottom for school-related sites. This allows her to easily and quickly access websites needed to complete class assignments. For example, this networked student visits Science Agenda at the beginning of class to check the assignments. Some assignments are required for that day, and she has flexibility on others in terms of the time frame required to complete the assignment. She uses her bookmarks on her personal page to assist with her assignments. Some sites that help her include: Project Tanks (teaches her how to write reports and post to her Google Docs account), Blogger (posts personal reflections about what she did in class that day), Evernote (a special note-taking program that collects information found on websites), Globster (digital poster that can contain text, video, graphics, and/or audio all on one page), and Skype (video conferencing with others to learn information). This seventh grader likes the freedom of her personal learning environment. She likes the freedom to choose when and how to complete assignments and the responsibility to know she can search anywhere on the Internet to find the information she needs to become successful.
    My personal learning network is somewhat similar to this seventh grader's PLN. Her personal learning network is arranged with tools to help her successfully complete the requirement of her science class. I am also using Symbaloo to organize my information. My PLN is not complete since my journey as an educator is not over. My resources will be continually changing to fit my needs and those of my classroom. Like this student, I have organized my personal resources in one area and my professional resources in another area. I like this website for organizing my resources because it allows a visual table with easy access to information to assist in my career as an educator.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blog Post # 5

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please? by Scott McLeod, Ph.D.

    In his blog post, Dr. McLeod gives a sarcastic view by pointing out to his readers that technology is an important aspect in schools. He tells us that technology is full of advantages. He believes that educators must show students how to use technology appropriately because it can be abused. We do not want our students to fall victim to unscrupulous websites.
    I completely agree with Dr. McLeod's stance on technology. I think that in today's society there are websites and people that develop them that would take advantage of students. That fact represents a disservice to our youth because the Internet is filled with worthwhile knowledge, and we do not want our students to fall behind. When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I attended a PTA presentation on Internet safety. The presentation was given by a special agent from the FBI. The presentation itself was very informative. I think that this type of presentation at the beginning of the school year would be beneficial for both parents and students. This material could provide them with best practices to follow to avoid falling prey to deceitful websites, while at the same time giving them methods to follow to take advantage of the educational benefits the Internet has to offer.
    Dr. McLeod is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He is the founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). He is also a co-creator of a video series entitled, "Did You Know? (Shit Happens)." Dr. McLeod has received multiple awards for his technological leadership work, and he regularly blogs about technological issues. In 2003, he co-created the country's first graduate program designed to prepare school leaders who have demonstrated advanced technological skills. He continues to work with community partners to help prepare schools to thrive in this technological age, and prepare them to successfully move our schools to the 21st century.

The iSchool Initiative by Travis Allen

    Travis Allen is proposing what he describes as the iSchool Initiative. The mission of this initiative is to "inspire and educate students on how to become lifelong digital learners in the information age." Mr. Allen's proposal calls for the removal of all textbooks, paper, pencils and copy machines from schools. He wants to replace them with iPod Touches for every student. He believes that there are enough apps available for the iPod Touch to cover all areas of curriculum.
    Some examples of iPod Touch apps that would be beneficial to student learning include: Star Walk, US Constitution, Scientific Calculator, Recorder and Classics. Mr. Allen believes that schools will be able to customize lesson plans using his iSchool Initiative. Furthermore, as he asserts, the iSchool Initiative would provide both student and teacher accountability. Mr. Allen reports that the iSchool Initiative will provide parents instant access to student performance. He believes this initiative will not only provide a vehicle for savings in school systems, but will also carry a positive environmental impact. Ultimately, his proposal aims to revolutionize education through the use of technology.
    I believe that the iSchool Initiative is an interesting proposal. I think that as time progresses, more school systems will start to adapt a program similar to Mr. Allen's. In fact, Baldwin County High School in Alabama is beginning a pilot program in which every incoming ninth grader is given a MacBook to use. All curriculum information is preloaded onto the computers. The intent of this program is the same as Mr. Allen's iSchool Initiative in that its goal is to remove textbooks and replace them with technological tools to complete course requirements. It is also worth noting that Baldwin County Intermediate School has begun using iPads in some of their classrooms. These iPads have apps installed that allow students to fulfill course standards. I believe that, as educators, we need to embrace technological advances and the educational opportunities they provide. If we fail to do so, the people most affected will be our students who will be unable to take advantage of these resources to better their education. I think that programmers and curriculum writers need to continue to work together to research the most effective way to deliver computer-based lessons. In addition, teachers (both veterans and newly-hired) need to be provided professional development or continuing education classes to learn how to effectively utilize the technology that will become the backbone of our schools.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - "Lux Aurumque"

    Mr. Whitacre's virtual choir performance was absolutely amazing. It is a perfect example of what technology is capable of. He combined 185 voices, 243 tracks and 12 countries into a beautiful work of art. The singers have never met, let alone performed together. The entire performance was organized through the Internet and posted on You Tube for everyone to enjoy. I believe that this performance reaffirms the importance of technology in our lives today. Technology allows us to learn and experience things that we might have never had the opportunity to do, and I believe that we should embrace it.

Teaching in the 21st Century

    "Teaching in the 21st Century" was a fascinating video. Kevin Roberts sees education changing. He points out that, not only is the atmosphere of the classroom changing, the role of the teacher is changing as well. As a result of technological advances, students can find information on anything at anytime and anywhere. The options and opportunities are limitless. For example, students can use Google, Twitter, Facebook, cell phones and You Tube not only for networking but also to broaden their educational opportunities. Mr. Roberts sees teachers' roles to be that of a "filter" to guide students in using the resources available. Classroom techniques will be changing. Students will continue to use higher-order thinking skills, but they will be technologically related. As teachers, Mr. Roberts believes that we will have to rethink the tools we use and the types of problems we ask students to solve. Students in the 21st century will have laptops, cell phones and iPods they can use as resources in learning. Teachers will have to learn how to become more relevant, challenging and, most importantly, engaging. Active learning engagement will provide positive long-term results in our students. With the technology and resources that are available, teachers must make a commitment to utilize it.
    Mr. Roberts' video presentation pointed out the reality of where education is headed. I know that, as a teacher, I will need to use as much technology as I can. Students enjoy the opportunity to research, collaborate, create and publish information relevant to coursework objectives. It allows them a feeling of ownership and pride in their classwork. I plan to give them as many opportunities as I can. I know that student use of technology in the classroom is ultimately what a teacher makes of it. As a teacher, I am willing to see what technological resources are available and introduce them in the classroom. My students, and their future, are worth it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blog Post 4

Eagle Nest Radio & Class Blog

    I was very impressed by this site. I watched the four podcasts that were on the main page. They included, "Totally Terrific Time Travel with Explorers," "Take a BITE Out of Shark Facts," "Roamin' with the Ancient Romans," and "A Shark-Tastic Interview." These third graders did an amazing job. The Skype interview with Mr. Ward was well-conducted. I could tell that the students were excited and attentive. The students asked questions that were well-thought and appropriate to content. The three other podcasts I listened to were also entertaining. The students used music and sound effects to enhance the podcast. Each of these podcasts were divided into segments, with each segment covering information related to the topic. The students sounded positive and enthusiastic. This is a great way to bring an activity into the classroom that leaves a lasting impression.
    I explored some other areas on the home page and noticed that this class also blogs. The teacher gives specific rules for her students, and I thought these rules were comprehensive and well written. Some of the rules included: never give out personal information, check for spelling and grammatical errors, use appropriate language, show and encourage thinking, and all comments must be approved.
    This site has given me some great ideas in terms of how to use podcasts in my classroom. In particular, I believe podcasts can be a valuable addition to our History lessons. The students are going to be excited, and I cannot wait to get started!

Judy Scharf Podcast Collection

    Judy Scharf's web page is a great resource to use when considering podcasting in your classroom. She gives many benefits to podcasting, including: it is a "cool" way to have interactive communication, parents can download student projects and other work, it is always available, students can make up missed classes, it appeals to auditory learners, it is portable learning, and students can use it to enhance communication skills. She goes on to explain exactly what a podcast is. A podcast is a "radio-style" talk show that can include music listened to on a computer or MP3 player. It enables information to be shared with millions of people via the Internet. It can be done on any subject. It is cheap, easy to do and students love it. Ms. Scharf also gives some tips on how to succeed, including: learn the software you will be using, give students a choice of topics and criteria for research, play some examples of podcasts to listen to, let the students pick their groups and allow for plenty of time, and invite the principal or other guests to see and/or listen to their work. She also provides links to use when making a podcast. In addition, she gives links to handouts with instructions and a grading sheet.
    This web page contains valuable information. It is one that I will include in my Professional Learning network. It is a good source to refer to when I do a podcast with my students. The only issue that I have a concern with is the amount of time she suggests to be spent preparing, practicing and completing a podcast. She believes that 17 periods, each lasting 42 minutes, is approximately the amount of time needed to complete a successful podcast. This is a lot of time to devote to one project when teachers are faced with time constraints in trying to cover all of their objectives.

Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom, by Joe Dale

    "Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom" is a video that demonstrates the advantages of podcasting. Students today are referred to as millennial, meaning anyone born after 1980. For these students, technology is a part of their everyday life. So, it simply makes sense to incorporate technology in their education. Participating in a podcast is one way to do this. Joe Dale highlights some positive aspects of podcasting that teachers should consider. They include: podcasting allows for differentiation and project-based learning, it is a form of learning that students are familiar with, it is an effective way for students to interact with the world outside of the classroom, it promotes creativity with higher order thinking skills outlined in Bloom's taxonomy, and it allows parents to see and hear what their children are doing at school. Mr. Dale interviewed students and principals about podcasting to support his opinion of its benefits. Both students and principals agree that podcasting has positive effects. Students find it interesting and exciting. Podcasting makes learning fun for them. Principals like it because it can involve parents, is project-based, and promotes higher order learning skills. He gave some suggestions on programs to use to create a podcast. He suggests Garage Band or Audacity to use in creating podcasts.
    Mr. Dale shows an example of middle school students working together to make a podcast. They are using geography skills. They appear to be enjoying the lesson, as well as learning. I currently work in a middle school and can see many possibilities for podcasts in the classrooms that I assist with. I believe that it could bring more meaning to the lessons for the students, and it should be something to consider.

Friday, September 9, 2011

C4T Project # 1

     I read and commented on two of Tom Schimmer's posts. The first post was titled, "Kickin' It Old School," and was posted on July 13, 2011. The second post was posted on September 5, 2011, and was titled, "Function Over Format."
     "Kickin' It Old School" talked about attending conferences and their benefits. Mr. Schimmer had just finished the Peterson ATI Summer Conference and was reflecting on the positive energy within the conference. He enjoyed meeting people from all over the United States and Canada. He felt that people left excited, motivated and ready to create a new or improved plan for their classroom. He realized that, although technology is important in education, he saw the value in face-to-face conferences and hoped that they continued. In my comments to him regarding his post, I agreed with him in that I hope face-to-face conferences do not end. I have recently attended several conferences as part of my certificate renewal requirements and have enjoyed the educational and networking benefits they have provided.
     "Function Over Format" was posted on September 5, 2011. It is a discussion of the value of the two types of assessments: formative and summative. Mr. Schimmer described each of these types of evaluations, and he also took the time to caution teachers that the function, or purpose, of the evaluation had to be concentrated on, rather than the format. In formative evaluations, the students set their own learning goals and monitor their progress. There is no grade recorded in the grade book. The results are used as feedback to note areas of need. In summative assessments, the results count and grades are recorded. In my comments to Mr. Schimmer, I appreciated the details he gave to explain the differences between summative and formative evaluations. I agreed that the purpose of the evaluation is important. Students need to be able to perform a self-assessment to determine for themselves what academic areas need improvement. However, students also need to know that they will be held accountable for their work, and that a grade will be given for their efforts. I believe that both of these evaluations have worth and can be utilized in the classroom to help students become the best student they possibly can.

Blog Post # 3

Paige Ellis' Blog Assignment # 12

     I thought the short video on Peer Editing was useful. The video identified what a peer is and what editing means. Peer editing is working with someone your own age to help them improve, revise or edit their writing. There are three steps that you should follow when you are editing a writing assignment. The steps are: compliments, suggestions and corrections. The slideshow, "Peer Edit With Perfection Tutorial," further explains these three steps to use when editing. You need to begin the editing process with positive compliments and tell the writer what needs to be improved. Suggestions need to be specific and positive. They need to tell the writer different ways to improve the writing product; for example: word choice, details, organization, sentence structure, and staying on topic. Corrections should focus on punctuation and grammar mistakes, as well as spelling and sentence structure.
     The short video, "Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes," held in the fourth and fifth grade classrooms was perfect. It gave peer editing situations to avoid. I liked the creative use of names, such as Pushy Paula, Off-Task Oliver and Mean Margaret to get the point across.
     I think these would be useful tools to introduce a lesson on peer editing to students before the writing process begins. Hopefully, students would be able to use the information and the helpful hints to become successful editors.

"It's Not About the Technology" by Kelly Hines

     Kelly Hines believes that technology is important, although she does not feel that technology is the first thing to change to lead our schools into the 21st century. Ms. Hines believes that the first change that needs to be made is for the education community to alter the overall approach to teaching and learning. She outlines four things that, in her opinion, every teacher must recognize in order to effectively and positively impact students in the new generation of learning. These factors are: (1) teachers must be learners, (2) learning and teaching are not the same, (3) technology is useless without good teaching, and (4) be a 21st century teacher without the technology.
     The points that Ms. Hines outlined in her post are definitely noteworthy. I agree that educators need to be self-motivated. Teachers need to be innovative, and bring that element to classroom instruction. Sometimes, educators will have to work with a lack of curriculum-related and sufficient professional development, but that is simply not an excuse for inadequate teaching. Teachers need to strive to customize learning experiences and actively involve students in critical thinking and problem solving. I believe that as long as teachers are motivated and willing to put forth effort, learning will happen regardless of the amount of technological tools utilized. At the end of each school day, a successful day is one where all students learned new information. I believe that, as a teacher, it is my responsibility and obligation to stay motivated to provide the best classroom instruction no matter what technology is available.

Karl Fisch: Is It Okay to Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?

     Karl Fisch's post was the 2007 Edublog Award winner for the most influential post that year. Mr. Fisch discussed the need for an establishment of a technological skill standard for educators. He believes that all educators must achieve a basic level of technological capability, and principals should be held accountable if the staff is technologically illiterate. Mr. Fisch goes on to say that universities and teacher training courses that do not produce technologically literate students should have their funding or license questioned. He believes that technologically illiterate teachers are potentially jeopardizing student chances at long-term success in their chosen career path. He is of the opinion that society should stop making excuses for not becoming more technologically advanced. After all, in Mr. Fisch's line of thinking, technology is and indispensable tool that we can use to teach, learn and grow. He feels that it is getting more difficult to be successful without some degree of technological knowledge. He thinks that teachers need to explore and experience the advances in technology along their students.
     I agree somewhat with Mr. Fisch's post. Computers and other forms of technology have become a large component of the educational climate. I work in a school that has SMART boards in every classroom, rolling laptop labs, ELMOs, test-taking remote control programs (e.g., Quizno), and much more. If a teacher does not know how to effectively operate these tools, it would put their students at a disadvantage. Fortunately, the school system in which I am employed does offer various professional development classes on educating teachers on how to use these tools to enhance classroom instruction. Ultimately, I do believe these tools are useful in contributing to the educational success of the schools and students because the knowledge and skills that the students acquire will serve them in their continuing education and eventually in their career path.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count

     I was truly amazed when I clicked onto the Gary Hayes Social Media Count. The startling rate that social networking tools were changing was unbelievable. Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, Skype, blog posts and other mediums were constantly adding hits. I clicked on the 2012 tab and the results were even more astounding. I really never thought about the number of people that use these tools. The sheer numbers were quite interesting.
     As a teacher, this information can be quite useful. It is a positive reinforcement for the use of technological tools in our schools. These statistics clearly demonstrate the growing importance of social media and we, as teachers, need to put our students in position to utilize them effectively. As educators, we must provide our students with the opportunity to use as many technological resources as possible and the instruction to incorporate these tools in their educational and vocational endeavors. After all, we are preparing our students for jobs that do not even exist yet!

Michael Wesch: A Vision of Students Today

     Mr. Wesch's video begins in a classroom similar to what I remember as a traditional college classroom. In fact, it looks much like my college psychology class that I took many years ago. The classroom had stadium-style seating with rows and rows of seats all facing the chalkboard at the center of the room. As I remember, it was quite boring. There was a large number of students, many of whom did not even pay attention to the professor as he lectured in front of the class and made notes on his chalkboard. Mr. Wesch's video points out that some college classrooms are still the same today - they are neither motivating nor stimulating. The average class size is over 100 students, and most teachers do not even know the names of their students. Students spend a large amount of money on textbooks they never use. On average, students read only eight books, 26% of which are relevant to their classwork, and they write a mere average of 42 pages worth of assignments. Some students choose not to even attend class.
     Mr. Wesch painted a picture of today's modern student. That student, on average, reads approximately 2,300 web pages and 1,281 Facebook profiles. That student also reads over 500 pages of emails, and spends an average 3.5 hours online every day.
     Mr. Wesch is sending a strong message to the educational establishment that today's student has changed. The student that a teacher will see in the classroom today is a multi-tasker that believes technology is a tool for future success. Students are preparing for jobs and vocational opportunities that do not currently exist. Mr. Wesch wants us to know that Scan Trons are not going to help today's students, but that proper use and instruction of technological tools can provide students with critical knowledge that will pay long-term dividends.
     I am fortunate to have taught in the past, and now that I am in the process of entering the teaching profession again, I clearly see how important the instruction and usage of technological tools has become. When I began my teaching career in 1994, I did not have a single computer in my classroom. Today, as a paraprofessional working in a middle school, we have multiple computers and other technological tools in each classroom. I believe that we need to allow students time to learn and explore all aspects of the technological fields because that element of their educational experience has become such an important part of their continued development.