Sunday, May 6, 2012

Blog Post 14

Blog Post 14

Project #13

Our group, The Grey Wardens, used email, Skype, Tumblr, and Google Docs to discuss projects #15 and #16 and share information with each other. I preferred Tumblr, because I am constantly on that website, so I see messages from others on there almost instantly. I didn't enjoy Skype, because my computer lagged so much it was almost impossible for me to use. Google Docs was great for sharing lots of links and information with each other. Using email, on the other hand, was a bit harder for me, since I'm not in the habit of checking it often, and would sometimes not know a group member had asked me something for several days. Tumblr was by far the most successful way we communicated on my end.
The Tumblr logo. It is the word tumblr outlined in blue.

Final Project #16

The logo of the Grey Wardens from the video game Dragon Age. A stylistic Gryphon rears back on its hind legs, claws displayed.

Using the website Tumblr, we, The Grey Wardens (Emily Russell, Jay Shiver, and Rodney Patrick) have built a PLN that any teacher or student can turn to for ideas and tools they can use in the classroom, and we have done it in a way that attempts the kind of writing with multimedia project that Richard Miller talked about in This is How We Dream.

The Grey Wardens Final Project

To see the posts of individual members of the group, each post is marked with the name of the person who submitted it, and tagged with their name as well. There are links in the sidebar, as well, that will allow you to easily navigate through our individual posts. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Final PLN Report

The Symbaloo of my PLN.
As I said in my first progress report about my PLN, I've included a lot of the teachers I've commented on in our C4Ts and the blogs we've been assigned to read for our blog post assignments, like Adventures in Pencil Integration and, by extent, John T. Spencer, but besides that I've also included many of the websites we've read about or the kids we have commented have talked about using, such as Glogster or Animoto  or TimeToast.

I've also found many teacher tools on my own, simply by Googling for things. When we had to come up with our own assignments that Doctor Strange might assign, I came across a lovely cache of tools, which included things like Animoto, but also had sites such as Evernote and LiveBinders.

I'll continue to add to my PLN, long after this class is over. There are so many great sites and people I can go to for idea to help my students, and I hope my network will become even more effective for me as a teacher.

C4T #4

Caine sitting next to his cardboard arcade.

For these final few weeks I was assigned Dean Shareski's blog Ideas and Thoughts to comment on. In the first post I commented on, Best Day, he posted a video about a little boy, Caine, who had built his own cardboard arcade in front of his dad's auto shop. He had all kinds of games that he made himself, even a cardboard crane game. You could buy passes, win tickets, and cash in your tickets for prizes. But no one ever stopped to play his arcade, until the man who made the film did. He was Caine's first customer, and he was so impressed by the kid's imagination and ingenuity, he started a flash mob, using the internet and Facebook to get people to mob the kid's arcade on a specified day, as a surprise for the kid. When it was over, Caine described it as the best day of his life. Shareski commented that there were many lessons to be learned from Caine's creativity and "we should be able to create more "best days" for the people in our lives."

I commented about how cool I thought the kid was for his imagination in making a cardboard arcade, and how amazing it was that the filmmaker's visit turned into the making of the best day of Caine's life. It's really neat that he used the internet to bring all these people together. It even made the front page of Reddit. In the past, he might not have been able to accomplish it without the use of the internet. I'd like to make someone's day the best of their life.

In the second of Shareski's posts I commented on, The Importance and Seriousness of Silly, he talked about presenting at a learning summit for more than 30 teachers. It was about "silly." (Not being silly, or about silliness--"silly".) The presentation he used was in the post. Unfortunately, I don't know what his presentation meant, as, without his comments or lecture, it was largely just slides he probably used to guide himself during his presentation, so I can only guess.

I said in my comment that I agreed that it was important to be silly sometimes, cause otherwise we might explode from being serious all the time. I also congratulated him on being a presenter at the teacher's summit, and I would have been nervous if I was in his position. I also said that I wish I could have heard his lecture, as, without context, the slides don't mean much to me.

Blog Post 13

My E-Media Fast was, altogether, not too difficult, even though I failed it once. I began my fast on Saturday, at eight in the morning. I got up, showered, made a sandwich, and immediately failed. Usually, I turn on the TV when I make and eat breakfast, because I don't like to read while I eat. I did it without thinking, and it was only after I had finished eating that I realized what I'd just done.
A tracphone. Much like a Nokia, it is a dinosaur among phones.

After that, I was very careful about making sure everything I did was well within the rules. I did make an exception, though. Our house has no land line so I use my cellphone to talk to people. Therefore I made the exception that I could use my cellphone, but only for calls, no text messages. Luckily, over the course of the day, I didn't have to call anyone and no one called me, and I received no texts, so I may as well not have made the exception at all. This was not difficult in the least, as you can tell. I hardly use my cell phone anyways. It's a simple phone, that doesn't do the internet and doesn't have games to play (Pictured right: my actual phone and all its options). Like a more modern Nokia.

I filled my day with activities so I wouldn't be tempted. I went to a book sale at the library in the morning with a friend, finished a book and started another, and went to work almost all day. I got off work at about 9 o'clock, and that's when it became difficult to resist the call of my computer.

I usually get on the computer after work, and I wanted to get on it even more to check my email because I was expecting a reply from a group-mate for Project 15. Instead I hung out with my aforementioned friend. The only problem was he was tempting me with technology. We've been watching the series Game of Thrones on his computer, and we both really wanted to watch more, but of course I couldn't. That didn't stop him from doing his best to tempt me, saying things like, "Come on, thirteen hours is long enough, don't you think?" Thankfully, I resisted, and instead we just hung out and I read a little until he left, after which I went to sleep, thus ending the fast.

It was a little difficult, and would have been worse if I had planned to do this on a day when I had nothing to do. I rely on technology a bit more than I thought, since my friend and I often just watch movies or shows or play games when we hang out. It's expensive to go out and actually do things, and cheaper to stay in and entertain yourself with what you have on hand--which is often technology.
A child bares his teeth savagely at hologram-like projection of a computer that has Darth Vader on the screen. Clearly Vader has destroyed the child's family, and he wishes revenge.

I'm addicted to technology, I know, but not as bad as some people, like my little brother, who plays Xbox if he's not eating, sleeping, or at school. I suppose people like my brother are the kind of students I'll have--kids who feel like they can't go a day without some kind of electronic device on hand to provide some entertainment. I have an advantage, since when I was a kid computers weren't as important--I actually went outside and played with other children. But as technology has advanced, I've become more dependent. I can only hope I can turn my student's inevitable fascination to my advantage in the future.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Creativity and Curiosity: My Thoughts - Special Post #12A

We've been posed several questions about creativity and curiosity in schools. The premise is the curiosity begets creativity--so to stimulate a student's curiosity will make them more curious, more willing to learn. But are schools in the United States, the place where we most want students to be curious, actually abattoirs of curiosity? It depends, of course, on a number of variables. Teachers, the school system in that area, the mindset of the people.

Nothing is ever straight up black and white, and that goes also for whether schools are destroying curiosity and creativity, not just morality. I also wouldn't say that schools are doing it on purpose, because what purpose does that serve, to inhibit a kid's willingness to learn and create? But it does happen, and I believe it is because schools have become places where kids merely memorize information and repeat it back for a grade. It's easy on the teachers, to be able to grade something by saying, "You got this question wrong because it was A not C." It's harder to put a grade on a student's creativity, though. But that's not fair to the student, who isn't being pushed to their fullest potential. But it might not wholly be on the teacher's shoulders, because they could just be trying to cram their students full of the right information so they may pass quarterly tests, so that there's no time for anything else. Not matter whose fault it is, though, something needs to be done.

One answer might be to develop a curriculum that increases the curiosity and creativity of students. But you can't just make a lesson that's specifically aimed toward stimulating such a personal experience. I don't think it's possible to make a curriculum like that. Modifying our own curriculum to actually engages students in learning, in trying out new things and seeing for themselves how the world works, would improve their curiosity and creativity quite a bit. We should change from straight up Q&A to letting them take the chalk for a while, and see how it feels to be learning on their own.

And you, as a teacher, definitely affect a student's creativity and curiosity. You have more impact than you know. Students look to others for approval, and if you approve their curiosity, it will definitely boost their willingness to ask questions. You should let a student know straight off that it's okay--or encouraged to ask questions. A student's biggest fear is that they're the only one who doesn't understand something, and that if they ask questions they'll seem like a fool (well, maybe not their biggest fear, but it certainly was one of mine in school, which led me to sitting quietly in a corner, hands firmly on the desk). So it would be wise to let your students know that if they don't understand something, no matter how simple, they shouldn't be afraid to ask.

Something else a teacher could do to increase a student's creativity--redefine failure. We know, of course, that we're supposed to take failure as a learning experience, but that's hard to believe when the idea is never reinforced. Reinforcing that idea with students could make them a little more fearless about trying new things. If they get something wrong or fail in their task, help them back up and tell them why they failed, but don't scold them for it. Scolding them will make them less likely to try harder, so that should they fail again, they can say, "Well, I wasn't giving it my all, that's why I failed."

These are the kinds of things that would inspire my own curiosity and creativity. If I had teachers who did more than stand in front of a classroom and lecture, I might actually learn something. I understand that can be hard in a college course when a class can be 100 students, but it would be nice if they would at least make the effort. I also appreciate it when teachers make the effort to relate what we're learning to everyday happenings. Like my geology teacher comparing the formation of land folds to putting your hands down on a tablecloth and pushing--not just one, but several wrinkles will form, and it's the same with land, though it certainly doesn't seem like land should be able to fold as easily as a tablecloth. These are the kinds of things that make me curious and inspire my creativity.
The left side of the brain is covered in computer code, while the right side is a blossoming flower.

Blog Post 12

For this assignment, we're required to come up with something Doctor Strange might assign, in our area of specialty, and then do it. My "area of specialty" is English/Language Arts. So naturally, I wanted to do something with books.

The assignment is to go to Facebook and create an account for a fictional character. Using posts on their wall, detail from their point of view an event that happens in the story of their lives.
A facebook page for the fictional character Edmond Dantès.

I chose to use one of my favorite books, The Count of Monte Cristo, and made an account for the character Edmond Dantès. On his wall he chronicles the events in the beginning of the book, when he is wrongfully arrested and sent to prison, and the events leading up to him breaking out of prison. I thought this would be a good stopping point, because after this he is no longer Edmond Dantès--he is the Count.

C4K Summary for April

C4K #8
Laura didn't have a new post for me to comment on, so I went to the second most recent post. The title-less post from October 19, 2011 had simply a link to a flickr picture of a cat climbing a tree, and a picture of three brown and white puppies leaning on each other tiredly. I said hello, and that I'm usually a cat person, but sometimes cute dogs just get to me in all the right ways. I asked if she was a cat or dog person, or maybe a hamster person, since she'd mentioned in her last post about her family that they'd owned two hamsters before one of them died. I also said that I was disappointed there was no new post, and that she must be busy. But now that I look at the date of the posts on her blog, I doubt there will be another new post anytime soon. I said that I would keep coming back and commenting, though, and of course I will.

C4K #9
Once more, there wasn't a new post by Laura, so I went even further back and found her post My Digital Citizenship :D. She was talking about how you have to be careful of the information you put on the internet, and how you shouldn't give out personal information especially, because even if you delete it, it still exists somewhere. She only gives her information to the websites she signs up for, like Facebook.

She's right, of course. But beyond that, you even have to be careful about mentioning landmarks near you, which could help total strangers figure out where you live. I told her I was glad she knew not to give out her information, and that you also have to watch out for mean people on the internet. Not everyone is kind, thought they should be, and if she ever talked to a mean person, I told her to ignore them or only answer nicely. I told her I had been hoping she would have another post--but as I mentioned I don't think another will be forthcoming--and that I hoped there would be a new one by my next visit, even though that was the last post we had to comment on for the Blogging Challenge.
A butterfly called a Rusty-Tipped Page sitting on a flower, wings spread in a manner that suggests it could sever your head from your shoulders at a moments notice, so you better not mess with it.

C4K #10
Our Visit to Butterfly Creek by Room 6 at Pt England School was a video slideshow of photos of the classes' trip to Butterfly Creek, where they played in a butterfly garden. The kids in the photos were all smiling or looking at the butterflies that landed on them in wonder. They all looked like they were having a good time, which I said in my comment. I said that I had been to a butterfly garden once, at the Festival of Flowers they hold around here, but none of them had landed on me. I'm scared of bugs, though, so that's probably a good thing. I asked if they learned a lot about different types of butterflies and if they had any favorites. I'd like to take my students on a trip like that--one that brings such big smiles on their faces and that look of wonder in their eyes.

Progress Report on Final Project

Our group, The Grey Wardens, are just getting started on our project. We've been communicating mostly through email and Skype text chat, since not everyone in the group has a webcam to use. We've also used Delicious, the a bookmarking website, to share information with each other that we find on the internet about our topic.
A bust of a man wearing large, futuristic looking goggles.

We've also used Goggles, an app that you simply drag to your bookmarks bar. When you click it, you can write on the page, and anyone else who has the Goggles app will be able to click it and see the writing other people have left for them. So we've used Goggles to point out interesting stuff on the websites we share with each other.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blog Post 11

Skype Interview with Kathy Cassidy by Doctor Strange
First grade teacher Kathy Cassidy, smiling into the camera.

Doctor Strange's skype interview with Canadian first grade teacher Kathy Cassidy focuses on how she used technology with her students, and it was interesting. Doctor Strange and a few of his students asked her about how she got started using technology in the classroom, how to protect students, and the advantages of using it, among other questions. Ms. Cassidy uses it quite a lot with her students, as she demonstrates in her video Little Kids...Big Potential. They use everything from computers to Nintendo DS, which you don't see often, if ever.

First, I think it's cool that she started teaching her kids about technology of her own initiative. When five computers were put into her classroom, instead of letting them sit in a corner, unused except to let kids play games, she found a way to incorporate them into the children's education. In most of the classes I've had, from elementary to high school, the computers in any of my classes had always gone unused or been a treat to play on if you had completed an assignment early. If you have a resource, technology or not, you should ask yourself how it can be used to help your students.

In the interview, Ms. Cassidy described one of the advantages of students having a blog; it gives them an audience. I can see how this would be good, since it might drive the students to improve, to do better, for their audience to see their progress. If I did this with high school students, I can see them just copying each other's work, so they don't have to do it themselves. I wouldn't want to have to make personalized assignments, so maybe I could pick a single student once or twice a week to do a blog assignment.

Something Ms. Cassidy pointed out in the interview really made me pause. "Word processors and spreadsheets are no longer technology, that's technology 20 years ago." (I'm paraphrasing, I think.) That really is twenty years ago! And look at how much technology has advanced in such a short time. Just think about what was considered technology hundreds of years ago. Once, gunpowder was considered technology. Plows (the cattle driven kind) were considered technology at some time. So years ago, when classrooms started getting computers, people were thinking, "We'll never use this, what can we do with a word processor? Kids have pens, paper, typewriters. We don't need this." We use word processors a lot now. And while it's not obsolete,  there is a whole lot more we could be using than just a computer's basic function.

Here's a question posed by Doctor Strange: where should people start with technology? Ms. Cassidy's answer: go with what you're interested in. It could be video, photography, writing, anything. That would be a good way to get students who aren't interested to give technology a second chance--giving them open assignments that let them explore technology on their own grounds. Of course, it would have to be educational in nature, and their assignments would need to reflect them learning something, but it would hopefully get them interested.

Finally, a topic addressed twice in the interview--protecting your students from others and keeping students from finding questionable content on the internet. Ms. Cassidy taught her students to never use their last names on the internet, never post photos of themselves, and when she posts photos of her students she never puts names to faces. Her answer to keeping students from finding things they shouldn't was to have her blog as a hub with links to everything they needed to get to on it, and instructions to never click on the shiny banners on pages.

But high school students are a lot less easily led around--soon as they get on a computer, I imagine they'll be a lot less interested in the assignment and more interested in doing what they want to do (I'm the same way, after all). Schools around here have a censor that block certain websites, but I think that's more a hindrance to education than anything. In the end, unless you're standing over their shoulder monitoring them the entire time, there's no guarantee they won't wander into something they shouldn't. The best answer, I think, is to have a little faith in them and a clear deadline for their assignment. So they know if they goof off, they may not have time to turn it in on time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blog Post 10

Do You Teach or Do You Educate?

This video is about the difference between merely teaching, and educating. And just to be sure the creator, "pierre722," had all his facts straight, I looked up the definition of each in The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary--yes, they really do mean two different things. As the video states, teaching is giving students facts, showing them how to do stuff, informing them about things, making them understand something, etc. Basically, it's what most people think teaching is. Educating (which is how I've always thought about teaching, even if most of my past teachers have not lived up to the meaning in my eyes) is about inspiring and empowering students with their knowledge. A mentor who guides and opens knew doors for you. That's how I've always seen teachers, perhaps in no small part because of the movie Dead Poets Society.

John Keating, of the movie, is the kind of teacher I would like to be--hopefully without the tragedy involved. I don't want to just talk to my students about writers, and read stories, and test them on the contents of those stories, and make them write essays about those stories. I want to inspire in my students a love for literature. I want to show them how writers of the past have affected society, that the written word is important. I want them to understand that their opinions are important, too. And I want to open that door to them, to let them know there is always a possibility that they can change the world, and that writing can be a vehicle for that change. Actually, scratch all that "want" crap. Those are all the things I will do. I will be that kind of teacher, I will.
Words against a light blue background, trailing from the upper left to the bottom right, reading 'To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible.'

Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home

I had no idea what to expect when I read the title of this post by Tom Johnson. I was even more confused when I started reading, because he and someone else were politely arguing over whether allowing students to take pencils home was a good thing or not. Of course, I finally understood that it was a metaphor for personal computers, especially after looking around his blog and realizing that every post is like that. His characters are teachers in the 1800s, who are slowly integrating pencils (computers) into their school.

In this post, the main character, Tom, is confronted by another, Gertrude, about allowing students to take home their pencils, because a study has shown that students who take home their pencils have lower test grades. This post is based on another post by Larry Ferlazzo, who talked about the real life version of that study, which "proved" that students from low income families who have personal computers are likelier to have lower grades. This is due to parents in low income families not having much contact with computers in any environment other than one meant for entertainment, so they view computers as entertainment, passing that mentality on to their children. Tom makes the argument to Gertrude that instead of not allowing students to take their pencils home, they change the way people think about computers--I mean, pencils. He even has a plan already worked out and in action to do that, but Gertrude refuses to see his side.

I enjoyed the way he presents his arguments--not just the one in this post, but in other posts, too--as a metaphor enacted by 19th century teachers. It's exactly the kind of mentality I've always had about computers. To me, they're entertainment. But I wouldn't really restrict this mentality to low-income families--whatever my family's income, my mom used computers a lot as a teacher, and yet I still have this mentality. I don't think it really has to do with income, but with the mentality of our society. Computers are marketed as entertainment, and are hardly ever used as educational tools outside of an actual classroom. But it's a whole lot harder to change the mentality of a society as opposed to the mentality of a few parents. So what can we do about it? Educate the parents, then, one at a time, if that's what it takes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

C4T #3

Post 1

Miguel Guhlin wrote in his blog post, The Lure of Glamornormous Projects - 5 Tips, about enormous projects schools undertake that are glamorous, usually involving expensive technology, and disregards the price-tag and common sense. Such as replacing textbooks with ipads. To help discriminate between "Glamornormous" projects and projects that aren't, he created a guideline of five questions to be answered about the projects to determine which category it falls under. He also had five tips handy, to help overcome the sensation for these "Glamornormous" projects (adapted from five tips for dealing with "buck fever" funnily enough).

Reading Guhlin's post reminded me greatly of a video we've had to watch for a previous blog post--The iSchool Initiative. I made sure to mention this in my comments. In case you forgot, The iSchool Initiative was a video arguing in favor of using an iTouch as a basis for education, replacing textbooks, calculators, paper, pencil, and what have you. I asked if he thought it was Glamornormous, because I thought it fit the bill. Though it's argued in the video that it will save money on buying textbooks, those costs will be immediately replaced by maintenance/repair costs and replacements costs for broken, lost, and stolen ones.

Post 2
A visual depiction of how the Desktop Virtualization system would work. There's a 'Desktop Virtualization Appliance' at the top, linked to a cloud that reads 'LAN/WAN,' which is then linked to a laptop, a 'Repurposed PC,' and a 'Thin Client.'

The next post, Desktop Virtualization - One CTO's Response, was actually a letter from Don Hindsley (a technology director at a Texas school) in response to the question, "We're ready to try our hand at desktop virtualization and would appreciate your advice on how to achieve the greatest results with minimum expense. VMWare?" He explained about the Virtual Desktop system his own school system installed in 2006. It worked well for a few years, and the total cost was $136,406.14. When the user-limit was reached and started slowing the system down, they decided to add another system in 2011. The total cost of that ended up being $255,872.24. The two systems work well, but they like VMware the best. He ends his letter with some advice on not to skimp when buying hardware.

I'd never heard of Desktop Virtualization before I read this, but it's basically a virtual desktop that you can access from any computer, and pick up from right where you left off. I didn't understand a lot of the technical stuff he mention (and I skipped over in my summary of his letter), but I thought it was interesting to read his account of the advance in technology over the years they had this system. I asked Mr. Guhlin if he thought that the advantages of the Desktop Virtualization made up for the expenses of buying and upgrading them, since I have no idea if those numbers up there are considered exorbitant or not, or how much schools are allotted to spend on certain things.

C4K Summary for March

C4K #5

Neglected to do on time.

C4K #6

A photo of a horse's head from the side. The brown horse looks longingly off into the distance. There is a dirt path, a fence, and some leafless tress in the background.
In his post "Horse Riding by Georgie", Georgie talked about going horse riding. He said he used to, but he had to stop when his swimming lessons were scheduled on the same day as the horse riding. It was too tiring to go swimming, then get ready for horse riding, so he decided to wait until swimming lessons were over. But he hasn't had much time, and he was worried that by the time he could go again, he would have to start over on an earlier stage.

I said I was sorry he had to stop going horse riding, but at least it was replaced by something else he enjoyed. The only horses I've ridden on have been lead around by other people, and I can only dog paddle in the water. I hope he doesn't have to start over again when he goes back to horse riding. He just has to try and remember what he knew. I wished him luck, and hope that he gets to go horse riding again.

C4K #7

In Laura's blog post "My Family <3" she talked about (what else?) her family. She has six members in her family, and that's not including the pets! Her mother, father, three older sisters, and herself! She also has seven pets (one recently died, her hamster "Cheeky"): one hamster, four dogs, and two cats. Her dad fixes computers, a career borne from his childhood hobby of taking things apart and putting them back together, while her mother is the director of a nursing home. Her sisters sometimes help out around corner stores, and Laura herself said she might be getting a job as a babysitter soon.

I was surprised at how big her family was, and asked if she ever got tired of having so many people around. I get irritated with my family a lot, and I only live with two of them. I thought it was cool that her parents were passionate about their work, and since I'd read in the assignment that she was interested in reading, I asked about that. I told her I love to read, and want to be a librarian eventually. I wished her luck with her babysitting job, and mentioned how un-fun my own job at a clothing store is.

Blog Post 9

What I've Learned This Year (2008-2009) by Joe McClung

Even as a teacher, your learning experience will probably never end. At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, 6th grade teacher Joe McClung decided to document some of the lessons he learned from his first year of teaching in his blog. How to read a crowd, be flexible, communicate, be reasonable, don't be afraid of technology, listen to your students, and never stop learning. These are valuable lessons to learn, and I'm lucky to be able to read the lesson plan beforehand without life needing to teach these to me the hard way. I found these to be the most valuable for me.

1. "How to read a crowd." Don't let the lessons be all about you, the teacher, and your delivery of the lessons. You can't focus on how your superiors are judging you, you need to focus on whether the students are understanding the content. I worry about what others think way too much. While it's good to be self-aware, you shouldn't let it affect your teaching unless it's how the students are reacting to your teaching style. Be receptive to their feedback.

2. "Communicate." As it says on the tin, communicate with others. I'm a pretty shy individual, and get nervous when talking to people I don't know, even if I hide it. But according to Mr. McClung, it's the best cure for workplace drama and builds a good relationship with your colleagues and students, and that's more important than silly insecurities. Communication isn't just about talking--it's listening, too, and listening to your students and taking an interest in their lives can gain you their respect (another lesson McClung learned). So, I'll need to step it up in the communication department from here on out.

The meme 'Terrible Teacher.' A young Asian lady is standing in front of a blackboard and map, pointing at a location on the map and the viewer. The caption across the top reads 'Lectures you like you're 7' and along the bottom reads 'Expects you to write like you're 30.'
3. "Be reasonable." Have reasonable expectations of your students--you're doing them a disservice by expecting perfection the first time, because it's setting them up for failure and disappointment when you get onto them about it. You're the teacher, you're supposed to be helping them learn. I get pretty impatient when people don't understand something the first time I explain (example: trying to teach my younger brother anything), so, while I don't need to lower my expectations of them, I don't need to take it out on them if they don't make it. I just need to keep encouraging them and show them the way.

4. "Never stop learning." You can choose to; you can decide that what you're doing is fine, and to just keep on going the way you're going with no regards to whether there's a better, more fun, more effective way out there. But don't stop, because it's better for yourself and, more importantly, for your students, if you're willing to change the way you work. I'm learning even when I don't want to, because I know someday this information won't just be useless junk on my hard-drive--it will be something I'll come back to again and again; unless I learn of something better.

What I Learned This Year (2010-2011) by Joe McClung

Even three years on, Joe McClung is still able to make a blog post about the lessons he's learned throughout the 2010-2011 school year--this time as an 8th grade teacher. The lessons he learned this school year are: know who your boss is, don't expect others to be as excited about change as you are, don't be afraid to be an outsider, don't touch the keyboard, and don't get comfortable. Of course, I found some more valuable then others, so here we go.

Eight completely white, human-like figures stand in a circle, holding hands. Outside of the circle, alone, stands a golden figure. He is an outsider, a lone-wolf, and while the circle may shun him, you can see in the burning golden expanse of his face he will have his retribution.
1. "Don't be afraid to be an outsider." It's okay to stay true to yourself, especially if that means you'd rather focus on your students than seek approval from your colleagues. I have always been okay with being an outsider--communication, as I said, is not my forte, so I'm used to it. If I end up being an outsider among my fellow teachers for focusing on students? Well, as I said, I'm used to it. But this is definitely an important lesson, because many people are not used to disapproval, especially from those they consider colleagues or acquaintances.

2. "Don't touch the keyboard." This lesson Joe McClung learned from another teacher who he regularly went to for advice. If you're teaching something, don't take the keyboard into your own hands to show them how it's done. No matter how much they struggle, you should resist the urge to help them by doing it for them. If you do it for them, they won't fully understand the skills you're trying to teach. My brother and I do this to each other all the time. If one of us is playing a video game and the other asks to show them how to do something, whoever is teaching will often get frustrated with the player bumbling around under their directions and simply say, "Let me do it, it'll be faster." Of course, then we'll fight over it, because we both know if we don't do it ourselves, we won't really understand how to do it.

3. "Don't get comfortable." This, I think, goes hand-in-hand with "never stop learning." Don't let yourself get too used to the routines of each day. Shake it up a bit--volunteer for things you might not have considered being a part of before, challenge yourself with new tasks. I know every day, when I go to work, I dread the same, boring routine I follow every day. There's nothing challenging about it--I unpack boxes and pick up clothes all day around the store. I actually got excited about cleaning the back room, one day, because it was something different. So if you can, do something different, don't let the ease of established routines cause you to stagnate.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog Post 8

This is How We Dream

There are various representations of media lined up. The top two rows are pictures, movies, and film; the bottom two represent audio.

This presentation by Richard E. Miller describes writing not with words but with multimedia--doing away with word processors and essays in favor of "composing" (possibly Miller's favorite word) a work that is a combination of videos, articles, sound, film--whatever you may find on the internet. He describes this as something that could replace the need for writing essays or research papers in schools. The only problem, he says, is we don't have a method for teaching this, it needs to be invented.

This is really what websites do every day, though. This isn't something new. I get on Tumblr every day, and I can find blogs dedicated entirely to one thing, with all the makings of the kind of project Miller desires for us to use in the class--videos, news report, images, articles, .gifs, sound files. And these blogs aren't run by university professors or teachers (well, not most of them), but by ordinary people, usually from the ages 12-25.

We don't really require teaching, because we are learning on our own. No one had to teach me--I saw the video and I knew instantly the kind of thing Miller wanted because I'd seen it so many times before. Not just on Tumblr, but on Livejournal, and, so far, Blogger. The only difference is the content is being brought there by more than just one person--it's the effort of hundreds or thousands of people working on one blog dedicated to one specific thing (LiveJournal). Or it's the culminated effort of them finding the information and simply placing it in a spot more accessible to others so that they may gather it all up and put it in one place (Tumblr).

But I don't really think it's something that needs to replace essays and research papers in school. Those papers aren't just written to combine all the information about a subject into a single word document--in schools they're proof that a person knows the information well enough. I could make a multimedia presentation and not know any of it, just scan the information to make sure it's the right subject and put it all in one place. But with a research paper, the writer has to know the information well enough to construct their own re-telling of what has happened.

Blog Post #12 by Carly Pugh

Carly Pugh's blog post almost embodies the kind of multimedia presentation Richard Miller described. I say "almost" because it's not really multimedia. In her post, she was required to think of an assignment that Dr. Strange might assign, and she came up with making a YouTube playlist of ten videos following certain guidelines. Teaching by example (an excellent thing to do, by the way), she created her own playlist featuring inspirational videos about creativity and celebrating or differences and similarities (Disabilities Means Possibilities was my favorite); instructional videos, like how to write an autobiography (which was very funny); and informative videos on some of her favorite authors, as well as a humorous video about one of her favorite characters, Mr. Darcy, and a preview for the 2008 BBC drama Little Dorrit (which I will definitely be checking out, as Russel Tovey is in it).

But as I said, it's not really multimedia. It's two at best, if you count the blog post she put it all together in. One if you're just watching the playlist on YouTube. But I think it's close enough to make no real difference. I think it's a great idea, making a playlist like that, as long as you can get the point you're trying to make come through clearly.

The Chipper Series and EDM 310 for Dummies

These videos are about students in EDM 310 becoming so frustrated with the class their willing to give up. In "The Chipper Series," the eponymous Chipper quits, but after a series of misadventures that involves starting a piloting school and getting fired from various jobs, she decides to join EDM 310 again. In "EDM 310 for Dummies," two girls go crazy over all the stuff they don't understand in the class, but luckily they can turn to EDM 310 for Dummies to help them get through. I suppose the message is, though EDM 310 can be quite frustrating for those not used to doing their own work, and learning on their own, since you can't just regurgitate everything you've learned onto tests for grades, once you understand the point of the class, and how to use the various websites and really become a part of it all, it becomes less like work and more enjoyable.

A rendition of a woman's face, close-up, as she screams in horror, presumably over EDM 310.

If I had to do a video on EDM 310, I'd want to do mock horror movie. Start off with a normal teacher, just teaching his class, when all of a sudden something a student says triggers a flashback to his days in college, taking EDM 310. The homework. The stress. Suddenly, everything in his life reminds him of the class. He can't stop thinking about it. He wakes up at night to the ghostly images of tweets to people he barely knows. He thinks of trying to escape, cutting himself off of technology, becoming an old-fashioned teacher who uses only books, pens, paper, and chalk. But it doesn't matter, because it's already infected him...

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

The ways people learn are constantly changing, but schools aren't. 21st century learning isn't about memorizing information--it's about what you do with and how you use it. But schools are still stuck on the memorization part. For schools, as long as you can repeat information back to them a few times, you're ready to move out into the world and face everything in it. But the world is not like that at all. You can't just memorize some facts which you will forget as soon as they are no longer useful for you. You have to be able to find information, make sure it's true, pull it all together, communicate with it, solve problems with it, work with it. But schools don't teach how to do that, they just teach the facts themselves and don't expect anymore out of you after that. I completely agree with all of this, but it's going to take a long time for the teachers of today to get the message, that learning has changed and they're the ones being left behind.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0

1.) Locate a tool that is similar to Twitter/Facebook and provides a social platform for teachers,
parents, and students. Create an account as a Teacher and write a paragraph or two about how
you could use this site in your classroom. Here's my post! (Well, actually, it's in my profile, because I couldn't figure out how to make the post public. I'm still working on that.)

2.) Locate the tool that most likely created this presentation.  Once you find the site, look at the
top right and click Pricing. Write a paragraph about the nice deal they make for students/

I believe Prezi was used in that presentation. They have a really good deal, too, for educators and students. For absolutely no money, you can have what everyone else has to be $59 a year for, and you get all the same tools. But if you do want to go pro, and have that extra storage space and have it available on your desktop, you can upgrade to Pro for just $59, when it costs $159 for everyone else. Being and educator has its advantages.

5.) Find a tool to create a poll anywhere and at anytime. Create your first poll and post it here. has the answer!

Project 12

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Project 10 (First Post)

So far in my PLN, I can include the class' blog, many of the teacher's blogs I've had to comment on so far, the creators of the videos we've watched for our blog assignments, my classmate's blogs, and the assistants in the computer lab.

Project 9b

C4T 2

The first post I commented on at Burrow's Art was a collection of drawings done by the students for various projects. Most seemed to be famous people--Angelina Jolie, Biggie and Tupac, and another I didn't recognize--but the other three consisted of a group of three people wearing masks, a cartoonish rabbit's head on a spinal cord, and a shadowy close-up of a person's hand. I said that I liked the shading on drawings of the hand and Biggie and Tupac, and that my favourite was the rabbit head. I liked the detail in the fur and flesh, and the over-sized teeth. They're all amazing artists, and I expressed my regret that I could never do what they seem to do so easily.

A student's rendition of Rosa Parks sitting on a bus, with two people in the background. She's wearing big, reflective glasses, and she's got a stubborn look about the mouth. Like Captain America's famous 'No, you move line' from the comics.
The second post was another collection of drawings, this time done for Black History Month. It included such famous people as Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, and Rosa Parks. This was done while their teacher was away for court duty, and he was very proud of them. I thought they did a really good job on these, and I really liked the Rosa Parks one for how simple it was, yet it still managed to convey plenty of detail with just a few lines--like the wrinkles on her neck and the stubborn look on her face. Everyone did great, and I'm glad they used their art to celebrate the month.

Blog Post 7

The Networked Student

This interesting video by Wendy and Alex Drexler uses humorous little paper cutouts drawn by Alex Drexler to illustrate the uses of a Personal Learning Network. It uses the example of a high school student taking American Psychology whose class doesn't use a textbook and whose teacher doesn't give lectures. Instead, she helps him to build a Personal Learning Network (PLN), which he uses to acquire all of the information himself through various resources on and off the internet. Then the question is posed: why does he even need a teacher? Of course it's because she helps him to build this network, take advantage of it properly, guide him when he needs it, shows him proper communication with experts, and shows him how to recognize a legitimate resource.

I think a PLN is a great idea--it allows freedom for the students to pursue channels of information that really interest them, and will get them excited about learning. That's one of the great things about the internet--just about every single opinion about something is represented here. If you don't agree with something, you can always find someone you do agree with. It's kind of what's going on in EDM310, now that I think about it. Dr. Strange isn't just giving us the information--he's not saying, "Here, this is how we should teach with computers." He's showing us how to access this information, these differing opinions and ideas for the use of technology in the classroom.

I just can't see most high school students being interested in doing this. They'll just want their grade; they won't care about the quality of the work as long as it's "satisfactory," and it's hard to make someone like something when they're just not interested. Perhaps if it could be turned into a competition, or if there was a reward for completing a PLN to the teacher's satisfaction, of if they did a practice PLN on whatever they wanted first before doing one on the topic of the course, the students could be persuaded. It's a cool idea, though, and I'd like to be able to do this with my own students one day.

A demonstration of a PLE on Symbaloo, with colourful blocks showing links to various resources such as Blogger, Google Docs, and TeacherTube.
A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (or PLN)

This 7th grader shows us, in her video, the PLE she had set up for her science class, which she organized using Symbaloo. She had links to her class's blog, her own blog, learning games, sites about animals which she used in her research, a note taking program, and the email addresses of scientists who she consulted with about her "Glog" on the Box Jellyfish. My favorite thing was the note taking program, Evernote, which allows you to save anything from the internet and links back to it so you can give credit. Her PLE is similar to my PLN, in that we both have our class blog and our own blogs in it, and I am now definitely using Evernote. But mine is still growing the more I'm in this class.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Blog Post 6

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dream

"When you're screwing up and nobody's saying anything to you anymore, that means they've given up."

Randy Puasch had a lot to say in his Last Lecture, but these four things stood out to me the most. This first quote was from his experience on his high school football team, the closest he got to achieving his dream of being in the National Football League. His coach was riding him one practice, and another member of his team told him that it was a good thing--because when you've reached the point that no one is commenting on your screw-ups and trying to help you, you've reached an ultimate low. I can't just promise to never do that to a student of mine--I have to make sure that no student of mine ever comes close to a point where I would give up on them. It's my job to teach them, so I'll keep criticizing and trying to get them to learn the material as long as they're receptive to it.

"You can do better."

This anecdote was one of my favorites. Randy Pausch was speaking about a course he had taught, one that was brand new, never done before, in which students paired up into five groups and, for two weeks, worked on creating a virtual reality world. At the end of the first two weeks, he was blown away by what they'd created, and didn't know what to do next. There was no precedent for the course. So he called his old mentor and asked what he should do. His teacher told Randy that, the next time he went into the class, he should tell them that they'd done some good stuff, but he knew they could do better. I thought this was wonderful. How else do you push people to do better than their best? You tell them that you know they can do better. It may seem a little mean not to tell them right off that they did amazing work, but it will motivate them. They'll think to themselves, "That was amazing, and he just calls it "good"? I'm going to astound him next time." It will make them want to be better, to give 120%. What better way to motivate kids to work harder?

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted" and "brick walls are there for a reason."

Brick walls separate those who merely want something from those who are determined to get it. When you can't get past that brick wall, at least you'll learn from it. It's something important that kids should learn, and, while they think they understand the concept, they might be surprised with how little they do. Because brick walls aren't just meant to weed out the weak from the strong, it also teaches you a little about yourself. You realize what your own priorities are when you find your brick wall and determine how willing you are to surmount it. If you want something bad enough to fight for it, you realize how important this is to you.

When I was a drama major, we were required to audition for shows every semester. I was pretty awful at it, and the only way to get better is to practice. Which I didn't do. Theater turned out to be something I didn't want all that much after all, and I realized this when I couldn't get past simple auditions. I've been in plays before, and auditioned before, but it's different when you're doing it in front of professionals rather than high school teachers, and I messed up a lot. I realized it because it wasn't a wall I was willing to work to get past. But this class is. Because this major is what I want, because it will help me along to my ultimate goal. So if kids understood this, they could learn to take advantage of it, to determine what they consider most important in their own lives.

"And that is the best gift an educator can give is to get somebody to become self-reflective."

In that same class in which he'd split the students into groups, he measured how easy students considered it to work with each other and graphed it. Some students were, of course, considered better group mates than others, and when you see where you stand among your classmates in terms of how likable and easy too work with you are, you realize you need to step it up a notch, especially if you're at the bottom. If I could get my students to become friendlier, better people, that would be amazing--because that's not necessarily in the job description of a teacher--you don't have to improve their ability to socialize. And just flat out telling them that they're not very good when working in teams isn't helpful unless you can get them to think about it themselves and how they stack up against others. When they come to the realization on their own, they're much  more likely to try to change themselves.

Randy Pausche in an incredibly scary blue and pink striped shirt, holding a framed picture of the cover of his book.

C4KSummary for February

A child's drawing of himself standing next to a bright yellow wicket.

I commented on a post by Jordan A. from Pt. England School. Jordan talked about how he played Cricket, and how lucky he was he didn't get hit while playing. He also talked about trying to find the ball. He had a good drawing of him in his uniform, next to a bright yellow wicket. I introduced myself and I told him I'd never played Cricket before, and asked him if it was fun. I'm glad he didn't get hit when playing, and I told him I liked his drawing.

I next commented on Riley C.'s post titled LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It. Riley wrote about the group LMFAO, and had some pretty interesting information about the number of charts their song "Sexy and I Know It" has topped. Riley also talked about some of their other songs and their albums, and embedded the music video for "Sexy and I Know It" into the post. I said that I didn't know LMFAO was such a famous group, and that the only songs I'd heard by them were "Sexy and I Know It" and "Party Rock Anthem." The video was interesting, to say the least, and I thought it was cool that they knew so much about the group.

My next kid was Eric P. whose blog post Diary of Wimpykids was about a game in the book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In his post, he explained that the main character of the story was told to go eat some cheese they found on the ground, but he refused and pretended to have a cheese allergy. Somehow it evolved into them chasing each other, pretending they had the cheese touch. He even drew a picture of someone chasing someone else, trying to catch them and give them the cheese touch. I told him I liked his drawing. I mentioned that I've read that Diary of a Wimpy Kid books at the behest of my younger brother, and I'd liked the part of the book he described. I asked if he'd seen the movie, which I saw with my brother, and said that they're making another soon (if they haven't already).

My next kid, known simply as "5p13," wrote in his blog post I Love Being In Bed a poem about how much he loves to sleep. When his mom wakes him up in the morning he's mad the whole day. But when night comes he's happy again, because he gets to sleep more. I really liked his poem since I (and most anyone) can relate to that, and let him know in my comment. I hated it when my mom woke me up in the morning, but I hate it even more now that I have to get myself up in the morning. If only I could sleep all day and night too. But then I'd miss out on a lot of fun things.

Podcast Project #8

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog Post 5

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff, Please?

In this article by Scott McLeod, he wrote a satirical poem about the supposed "dangers" of teaching children about the internet and how to use it, making his point in the end that he was doing all of this with his own kids, who would have the advantage when they grew up.

First, I've never really thought about the internet as something to teach kids. It's something I learned to navigate on my own, because it's not like I had tech-savvy parents or friends when I was growing up. I learned the ins and outs of posting stuff on the internet a long time ago. Of course I don't know everything, but I know enough to do what I like to do, and if something pops up that I need to know, I just figure it out on my own. So, actually, the idea that we could teach children all of this is appealing! Because while I did figure out all of this on my own, it took me a very long time.

If I'd had someone who could have shown me all this stuff, it would have been so much easier. For instance, I still don't know what an RSS Feed is. I could look it up, but so far my life has been just fine without it. If I'd learned about it when I was just starting out, though, maybe I'd consider it more important. And I've always wanted to learn to make Flash videos, but that requires software I don't have and is sometimes expensive. If I had someone to teach me, or if I could have learned this in school, I wouldn't sit here and sigh in envy whenever I watch a really good Flash video.

In case you haven't gotten the idea: I totally agree with Scott McLeod. Kids should definitely be taught about the internet and how to navigate it and utilize everything on it. Reading some of the comments, I noticed a lot of people think kids should have someone watching them every time they get near the computer. I don't think kids have to be constantly monitored at the computer, they just need to be told certain things more than once (don't give out personal information, for example). A little monitoring isn't out of the question, but I think it depends on how old the child is. The younger they are, the more they may require. But it would also largely depend on the individual kid. But give the kids some freedom to explore! Hanging over them constantly isn't going to make them safer--they'll just learn that you don't trust them with a computer, and try to hide everything they're doing, suspect or not.

I had no idea who Scott McLeod was before this class. When I first saw his name, I thought he was the cartoonist Scott McCloud, whose book, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, I had read. But, I quickly found McLeod's bio page. He is considered "one of the nation's leading academic experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues." So, he sounds pretty cool to me.

The iSchool Initiative

Travis Allen makes some strong arguments in favor of using the iTouch as a base for education in his video. It would reduce the amount spent on each student by about $600 dollars; it would simplify how students and teachers communicate, turn in assignments, and keep up with dates; it would be a greener way to learn, using the iSchool rather than wasting tons of paper and pencils; textbooks could be read on it; and it would have many apps that would be useful in the classroom, such as "Chemical Touch" (a periodic table that displays information on every element), "WorldWiki" (a map app that could replace globes and maps in the class), and a graphing calculator app.

I think this is amazing, and it would be great if schools used this. The only problem with this is actually getting schools to use this. It's awesome that Travis Allen has received such recognition for his project, but it needs more than that. School boards would have to be convinced that this new method would be better than our current one, and while Travis Allen's video should be more than enough, it doesn't guarantee anything. Some people believe that what we have going for us now is just fine, why should we upgrade when what we have works? Those would be the people needing convincing. I'd really like to see this happen one day, because I think it would be amazing. Until then, I'll try not to hold my breath.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir

This is actually not new to me. I've never seen this video before, but I've seen the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra do this with instruments as they perform music from the British Sci-Fi show Doctor Who in celebration of Murray Gold's fantastic compositions (My personal favorite, and their largest to date, is "Rose's Theme/Doomsday"). Though they do not use as many people as in the Virtual Choir, I think it's amazing nonetheless, getting people together from all over the world for one collaborative effort about something they enjoy immensely.

It makes you wonder about how else this use of the internet could be applied. Students could collaborate with other students around the world on projects like this or anything else.

Teaching in the 21st Century

Kevin Roberts' view on teaching in the 21st century seems to be, from what I understand of the video, being able to teach students how to use the internet to problem solve, communicate, collaborate; using it to create; and teaching responsibility, reliability, and integrity. Students should definitely learn how to do these things using the internet and technology. It's not something we're taught by our parents or friends normally, and it takes longer to learn all of this on your own. If we were to straight up teach students this, we'd probably use computers to communicate with students more than anything else.

The banner from the Reading Rockets website. A young boy reads a book to the left. Across the top a rocket is flying among some stars. Under the trail from the rocket it says celebrating ten years of launching young readers. Below it says Reading rockets. Below that are the words teaching kids to read and helping those who struggle.

Reading Rockets

The Reading Rockets website is an amazing compilation of resources for not just teachers, but librarians, parents, and even school counselors, among other professions. Some of the resources I found would be very useful for when I become a teacher. There are resources for first year teachers, which includes advice, what to expect, and a self-study course. There are resources for finding free or cheap books for the classroom, which features foundations and programs that provides books for students. Since I'm going to be an English teacher, this could be a valuable resource to use in getting books for my own students.

There are articles on developing a literacy-rich environment, plenty on helping students with learning disabilities, and posts on how stories relate to readers. This is an excellent website, and there are tons of resources for helping students with reading and literacy. It's perfect for me, since I'll be an English teacher, though the main focus of the website seems to be teaching younger students. That's no problem, since there's still plenty to learn, even from articles aimed at teachers with young students.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blog Post 4

Langwitches - 1st Graders Create Own Read Along Book

I think it's a really interesting idea to get students to create their own audio books. It has a lot of benefits in the reading and comprehension departments, but also in writing if the students are helping to write the script, which would be better because it would mean that they're more involved and more invested in things turning out correctly. Instead of just winging it with the discussion part of our podcast or having a "general idea of what we want to say", it would be great if we worked out a script, so we wouldn't forget what we wanted to say and wouldn't ramble on for too long. Help control the length of the podcast.

Langwitches - Listening-Comprehension-Podcasting

I never thought podcasting could be used in such a way. It seems so obvious--that it would be one of the best ways to learn a new language. By repeating a word over and over, hearing it used in context, it makes it easier to learn. The same could be said of anything else, really. When we create our podcast, that's one way we could make sure our audience understands what we want them to know--explaining the main ideas in as many ways possible, getting them used to the feel of it, so they understand exactly what we mean.

Langwitches - Podcasting With First Grade

Sure wish we'd done stuff like this when I was in elementary school. This definitely benefits the communication part of a child's education, besides everything else (listening, speaking, comprehension, writing). After all, it's an interview style script, so the students have to talk with each other to make sure the questions and answers in the script sound alright. Plus, when they're acting for the podcast, they have to make it sound more natural by not reading directly off of the script. That would be something we could use to improve our podcast--instead of reading directly off of our script when we record, have it memorized, maybe with some cue cards to help out when we lose our place. If it were only audio we could cut out any blips in the conversation, but being a video podcast, it's best to be completely prepared beforehand.

An orange block with white radio waves on it. Black headphones sit on the block as if it were a person's head.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Project #5 - Google Presentation

C4T 1

Post 1

Russ Goerend, who teaches 6th graders Language Arts, wrote on his blog Learning is Life about how computer teachers at his school are switching roles to "Technology Facilitators." Initially delighted by the idea, he gave it some thought and had a change of heart, explaining why it would be better to have both Technology Facilitators and computing classes. What he means by technology facilitators is they help their colleagues become proficient at computing and able to keep learning and applying it as time passes and technology advances.

A young girl sits at a computer, gaze focused on a sheet of notebook paper and fingers poised on the keyboard.

I agreed with him, that it would be great if they, and schools in general, had both computing classes and Facilitators. I mentioned that at my high school, we'd had only a typing class and business technology class (which taught how to make a resume and use Microsoft Office, but nothing else), and how learning more about actual computing would have been much more useful. That those who were interested in a technology-based career would have a base to start from and those unsure of what they wanted could try it out.

Post 2

In his post before that, Goerend talks about asking questions to get his students to think. He posed the question, "When did you first realize your family loved you?" to them, but none of them seemed to know what to think or how to answer. He talked to them about questions that require you to think about your answers versus those that have factual answers you can spit out without much thought. He's saying that teachers ask too many recall questions, although he knows this isn't exactly a revelation, and says, "My students’ struggles today are as much my fault as anyone else’s."

I thought it was a very interesting question, though, and that students might have an easier time answering such a question if it were phrased differently. I said that, if asked, I wouldn't know how to answer either. There are all kinds of variables when it comes to a question like that--maybe that moment hasn't come, or they can't remember it. It's very subjective. But I really liked that he was getting his students to think about themselves in a way they probably haven't before.

Blog Post 3

Technology in Special Education

Lacy Cook's video was about how technology improved learning in special education classes. Throughout the video, she showed us her students and the outdated learning methods they were stuck with, such as cards with the alphabet printed on them; a simple, wooden, raised platform for a book to sit on; and how one of her students needed someone to read to him in the hall during silent reading.

Just having a computer greatly improved the conditions in which they learned. A regular computer, something most of us don't really think much of or make a great fuss over having, really helps some of these students to do their assignments and learn. An iPhone is used as an audio book for the same student who had to have his books read to him in the hall. Audio books are, while not exactly cheap, certainly much cheaper than an iPhone. You wouldn't even really need the iPhone unless there's no audio book, in which case you could download an ebook and software that reads what's on the screen to you, much like some blind people use for computers. There's so many different ways of using technology I'd never thought of before watching this video, and it was definitely enjoyable for the kids in the video.

iPad Apps in the Classroom

Three finger press down on a happy seedling with big eyes and a large leaf on its head. Beneath the seedling is the word Futaba, which is Japanese for seedling.

After watching How the iPad Works with Academics for Autism, I decided "Futaba" would be a great app to use in a classroom with special needs students. It's a matching game that up to four people can play. Images come onto the screen, and the first person to match the word presented with the correct image gets a point. First person with three point wins.

It seems pretty simple, but it would be good for teaching students the meaning of harder words. And since you can insert your own images and words, allowing for a wide range of customization, you could conceivably teach anything with this, from science to English. Plus the competition of the game would motivate the student to try harder, to earn the points and win the game.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count

I actually have no problem believing these numbers. In the last 80 seconds over 800,000 items have been shared on facebook? I can see that. Though I do wonder where this information comes from, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Even when it says that in the last 120 seconds over 1,000 new facebook accounts have been made, it's not that surprising. It might seem weird, because wouldn't you think that everyone who cares already has a facebook? But accounts are made for all kinds of things--authors, authors' publishers, specific books, characters from books, characters from shows, clubs, TV programs, production companies--you name it, there's probably a facebook page for it.

But I don't know what this could mean for my professional career as a teacher. That communication is steadily becoming digitized? I imagine it will be like my move from high school to college. In high school, we didn't use much technology or the web in the classroom or for assignments, unless it was to write a paper. That's what schools--or at least schools around here--are like now. But in the future, perhaps it will become like courses at college. Some courses are half online, like this class, EDM310. Maybe a system like eCollege or Sekai will be integrated, so that students can submit their assignment online. It seems to me that the progress of technology use in elementary and high school will be like the leap in technology when going from high school to college.

Michael Wesch: A Vision of Students Today

I don't think I've ever seen a more accurate representation of college classes. When I sit in class it's a serious struggle not to fall asleep; to resist the urge to open a book I actually want to read; and to watch others with their laptops, getting on facebook, and not pull out my own and get on Tumblr. I want to pass the class, I want a good GPA, but it's hard to care about a class when it has absolutely no impact on what I'll be doing in the future. And it's sometimes sad to think that I can pass a class doing the bare minimal amount of work possible, yet stress over it more than most things in life.

Classes fill up students' lives with clutter that latter on in life won't matter, that they probably won't even remember. Conversely, teachers are stuck with the same curriculum that they know won't affect a student beyond the walls of the classroom. If classes were more--I don't know, relevant?--to the issues of today's world, they'd be worth more. It would be worth more to say, "I've got an education," when that education includes knowledge relevant to the issues the world faces every day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blog Post 2

Did You Know? 3.0 - A John Strange 2012 Version

This brief video by Dr. John Strange is exactly what it says on the tin--it's a video of interesting facts. And by "interesting" I mean "overwhelming." Like the fact that the top 25% of India (that is, those with the highest IQ scores), outnumbers the United States. As in, 25% of India is more than 100% of the U.S. According to, there are 312,968,665 people in the U.S. This number is so vast, so mind-boggling that you'd think this would be common knowledge. Another of the interesting/overwhelming facts is that, by 2025, there will probably be more English-speaking Chinese people than native English speakers in the world.

There are also facts about the average number of texts sent a day in school students, percentage of school students who own a computer, and other numbers. But the thing about China and India? I can't get that out of my head. You'd think with all the English speakers in China, and those learning it, that we would have a better relationship with them. Maybe we will one day. This makes me think of all the Sci-Fi media I've seen, where China comes to dominate/co-dominate the world/galaxy. I wonder if that's in our future.

Mr. Winkle Wakes

I was amused at Mathew Needleman's video at first, imagining that if Rip Van Winkle really did awaken in our time there would be wider repercussions than him simply wandering around, observing our technology. He'd probably be driven mad by the rush our society has become. Imagine a man who knows nothing about cars stepping out into traffic, or anyone simply letting a strange old man walk into a school or classroom without a word. But I understood the point of the video, that education is stuck in the past and we need to make use of technology, etc., etc.

However, I disagree. Education as we know it is much more advanced than a hundred years ago--good common sense says that. We've learned better teaching techniques, we know that hitting students probably isn't going to make them learn better, we know how to help those with learning disabilities, and we encourage students' individuality through their assignments--all in all, I'd say the teachers of a hundred years ago would find the way current teachers operate downright ludicrous. I will admit, though, that we could stand to use some of the technology developed in the last few years in education.

The Importance of Creativity

This video was the most enjoyable to watch, and I almost wish there had been more, that it had been longer. Sir Ken Robinson is a wonderful speaker, humorous and illuminating, and I'm sure my public speaking teacher would have taken to him instantly. He talked about how the educational system breeds out creativity for more desirable and "productive traits," like the knowledge of math. I loved his anecdotes about children, especially about the girl drawing God. But he pointed out something very intriguing about the educational system that I hadn't thought of, and yet it's the very reason I am going into education.

"Educational Inflation," (which is the perfect term for it) whereby you have to have a better degree now for a job that that, years ago, would need nothing more than a Bachelor's or, even better, none at all. I am going to be a teacher because I cannot be a librarian without a Master's in Library Science, but a long time ago you would only need the equivalent of a high school education to become one. I would love to simply work in a library without need of further schooling. It would be perfect. But that's not the case is it?

The book has a colorful border, but the rest of the books is rather white. At the top, it reads From One of the World's Leading Thinkers on Creativity and Innovation. Below that, the author, Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica. The title, The Element, is written stylistically, with a picture of a small flame below it. Below, the subtitle, How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.
In any case, I really agree with many of Sir Robinson's points, not just about the Educational Inflation thing, but also about how schools now struggle to squash creativity because it is seen as something that won't lead anywhere productive, or that you won't be able to support yourself or have a "proper" life if you go into something related to the Arts. It's a shame that the educational system works like that, but completely true. I'm definitely planning on picking up the book he mentioned, called Epiphany at the time the video was made, but published in 2009 as The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.

A Vision for 21st Century Learning

I thought this was really interesting, I'll give it that. Incorporating video game technology into learning? Kids would go nuts, of course. But it doesn't really address how to do that, which is, I suppose, why the title of the video merely has "Vision" in it. It also has a few flaws. A lot of people think learning by computer, taking online classes, things like that, makes learning easier, but it all depends on the person doing the learning. I would be horrible at such a learning game, I can say that right now. Because I would be more interested in goofing off, exploiting glitches, and having fun than doing work. I would be treating it like a video game, because it is one. I don't associate video games with work, I associate them with fun. The temptation to just do what I want would be too great.

Just like if I sit down at my computer to write a paper, the chances that I will immediately get started on it and not pause to get on any fun websites is absolutely zero percent. Because a computer means fun to me. I associate it with doing what I want,  having fun, taking a break. I don't associate computers with work because I rarely use them for work. Of course I write many school papers on my computer, but I spend far more time goofing off on it than doing any serious work. I'm not saying the idea would completely fall apart, just that it would really need to be closely monitored.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts

While I think it's cool, being able to learn through video simulation like this, I guess I just can't let go of traditional methods. It's all I've ever used, and just being forced to use eCollege irritates me. I do like the idea of some of the things Vicki Davis talks about, like using blogs, wikis, things like that. We had to use a wiki in my government class in high school, and while it irritated me to no end, having to check it every week and comment on what other students wrote, it wasn't so bad when an interesting discussion was brought up. And using a blog in this class hasn't been too bad so far. But as soon as I read that I would need Twitter, I couldn't help shuddering inside.

I feel like I should be excited about such innovations, but there's something about good old book and paper that appeals to me. Maybe it's like reading--doing it for pleasure is the best thing in the world, but as soon as I'm required to read a book for school it becomes a tiresome burden. The obligation seems to drain all the fun out of it.