Sunday, December 4, 2011

Final Report: PLN

Between the last progress report and today, I made a few changes to my PLN. To begin with, I've added a couple of links to my Symbaloo account, my favorite of which is probably to the Box of Tricks list of free technology. I hope I find it to be a valuable resource when I begin teaching.

As far as people, I have added a couple of principals, Dr. Alan T. Lee, Baldwin County Superintendant, and Derek Roh, Baldwin County Technology Coordinator to my list of contacts. Furthermore, I am very friendly with the marketing director of the Daphne Chik-Fil-A, and as you may know, Chik-Fil-A is a great supporter of area schools.

Blog Post 14

For our final blog post, we were asked to explore "Box of Tricks", a blog run by Jose Picardo, who according to the "ABOUT" page, teaches Spanish and German at Nottingham High School. He encourages teachers to take advantage of technology to help students learn.

He has an "A to Z List of Internet Resources for Education" listed on his site. He has over one-hundred different websites and resources listed for teachers' use. Best of all, the resources are free! I added this page to by PLN.

Picardo gives "Ten Tips for Using Technology in the Classroom" in this video. I thought his tips were interesting - for example, using music - popular music - to your advantage. He suggested using Skype to communicate with students and experts elsewhere. He seems to also find YouTube to be an excellent resource for teachers.

Like the schools here in Mobile County, he encourages teachers to use interactive whiteboards effectively and to go to classes to learn how to do so. Furthermore, he suggests using social networking, specifically Facebook, to communicate with your students.

Like Dr. Strange, he seems quite fond of podcasts, wikis, and blogs. He suggests using them to highlight all of the wonderful accomplishments your students have. His final tip is to make the most of your students' gadgets - such as iPhones.

At the end of the video, he says, "Use technology only when it helps you achieve your education objectives. How true! Technology does not have to be in every single moment of every single day - but it should play a big part.

His tips are very interesting and could be quite positively used in a classroom. Some, such as the use of YouTube and Facebook, are currently blocked by area schools. This could be rectified with forward-thinking administrators.

Final Project

Friday, December 2, 2011

Project 3: C4T #4

For this C4T cycle, I visited the blog of a teacher named Henrietta Miller, of Sydney, Australia. There are several unique things about her classroom - for one, she teaches at an all-girls private school, according to her "About Me" page, and the fact that grades are not given in her Year 5 classroom - instead, they write comments to and about the students to help them learn more effectively, according to my assigned post, "To Grade or Not to Grade?"

I must interject here and say that I love it when teachers give comments, especially on things that are written - a note highlighting strengths and weaknesses is much more effective (in my not-so-humble opinion, at least on this topic) than a simple letter. Can they be used in conjunction? Certainly. But I don't quite see how A, B, C, D, and F cue students to learn.

Interestingly, students seem to want grades quite badly - probably, as she highlights, due to competitiveness and the fact that there may also be parental pressure involved. She also is letting students assist her in assigning their final grades by using a portfolio. How wonderful would it be if this type of behavior could become the norm (or at least acceptable) here in the States?

For my second and final week, I read a post called "Out of the Mouth of Babes", a post which chronicled the thoughts of 10-11 year old students on what they would change in the classroom if they were teaching.

Stereotypical Greek Drama Faces

The first one she posted kind of cracked me up, as students wished for more drama and art. It made me think of Ken Robinson's lecture, "Do Schools Kill Creativity", where he asserts that creative subjects should be taught right alongside math, english, science and other like subjects. It would be nice if there was time, wouldn't it?

Putting aside the more comical ones, students seemed to like interactive projects, such as one they did where they made movies about Math instead of simply doing problems. They also seemed to recognize that the standardized tests are a bit unnecessary. Smart children!

Project 7: C4K (Month of November)

For my first week, I visited Ms. Yollis' 365 Project Blog and her classroom blog. Click here to read my thoughts on her classroom blog. On the 365 Project Blog, I visited post 294: The Earth Assembly. This post had a picture of her class with a giant, inflatable globe. According to a comment, students were taught to say a few words in different languages. I commented and said that I would have loved to have been taught Geography with a method like this! I shared a story about a museum I once visited with a giant, inflatable, walk-in map of the night sky.

For my second week, I visited the blog of Sosaia from Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand. I read a post entitled "Fifty Words to One Tree Hill", where Sosaia seemed to be summarizing a story about climbing a hill into fifty words. I told her that I had always had trouble putting stories into a small amount of words and congratulated her on the neat picture with her post.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blog Post 13

For my post, I decided to do a book report on Rafe Esquith's "There are No Shortcuts". I read part of this book for a podcast on an earlier project, then ended up finishing the book and loving it. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw that I would be given the opportunity to write about it.

Mr. Esquith is very clear about one thing in his book - it is not a how-to guide on how to teach. In fact, he talks early on about making sure to explore and finding out who YOU are as a teacher, not him. That said, we can still learn many things from his book. One thing I love about him is that he seems to be fearless - he has stood up to parents, administrations, and certainly students in order to accomplish his task - educating his students. Furthermore, he has pushed through excessive financial difficulty (at points by working multiple jobs) in order to pay for the many field trips and activities his class takes part in.

One thing that I definitely took away from this book was that students WILL sometimes hurt you, even when you are perfectly kind and even go out of your way for them. I find that I will have to develop a tougher shell when I begin teaching, because this kind of behavior will most definitely hurt my feelings quite a bit.

Another awesome point from Mr. Esquith: He puts a huge emphasis on literacy and makes a point to state that he teaches in English. Why? We as teachers must prepare our students (or, as he would probably say, show them how to prepare themselves) for the real world, and in this country, speaking English is a necessity to be truly successful.

I enjoyed reading this book, not only because of what I learned, but also because of Mr. Esquith's wonderfully witty writing style. I'm hoping to purchase and read "Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire" over the holidays - it's certainly a learning experience and definitely keeps me entertained.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Additional Assignment 1: Missed the Metaphor

I missed the metaphor in Tom Johnson/John T. Spencer's post. Why? I'm guessing simply because it did not strike me as an odd enough post to think hard about what pencils could be a metaphor for. I found a completely different meaning in the post, was satisfied with my meaning, and therefore did not dig deeper. Clearly, I should have thought harder about it.

A pencil.
Considering I spent the week performing in the musical "Honk!", metaphors were abundant for me. Leaving out the metaphors galore in the script, one humorous one comes to mind. When we give a bad performance, we might say, "That show was a load of crap." Umm, clearly, it was not literally. For homework, I might say an assignment is a pain in the butt. This is not true unless I have been sitting too long working on it.

How can we help students understand metaphors? I feel practice is the only way. For one, I knew what a metaphor was and still missed the point - one has to find sarcasm and context clues like it to consider something as a possibility for a metaphor. Beyond that, it is really difficult to "teach" someone to recognize them, in my opinion.

Metaphors can be used for a multitude of reasons. For one, they can add humor to a subject. Furthermore, they can allow us to say things that we could not politely say. They sometimes make explaining a difficult subject easier.

In conclusion, metaphors can be a valuable teaching tool, and we as teachers must learn to see and understand them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blog Post 12

For this assignment, we were required to come up with our own Blog Post assignment and do it. Because most blog posts require us to read or watch something and elaborate on it, I thought it would be interesting to write a post where our opinion on something was the main central purpose of the post. SO! My assignment would be as follows:

One current hot topic in education is whether or not teachers should be friends with their students on Facebook. What is your opinion? Give at least two benefits and two possible dangers of using Facebook with students. What guidelines should be in place?

How would I respond to this post? Read below to find out:

Many tools in life are wonderful when used properly and a huge danger when used improperly. Take cars, for example. They are extremely convenient when used correctly, but take lives when used incorrectly. Computers are great resources but can be used incorrectly and cause problems as well. I feel Facebook also falls into this category.

Facebook Logo

I think teachers can use Facebook with their students as long as they are careful to do so in a responsible manner. Obviously, teachers could not post inappropriate things (and probably shouldn't anyway). Teachers would need to maintain an extremely high standard of conduct.

Benefits? Well, for one, students could easily get in touch with their teachers at any time for help in classes. Furthermore, if students are having personal problems, and they get serious enough, teachers could let the counselors and/or parents know. Furthermore, teachers would serve as possible role models for students.

Dangers? For one, people other than you can post on your Facebook, causing issues with guilt by association. Some people also feel that getting on a personal level with one's students is quite dangerous and could be considered inappropriate.

Guidelines? Teachers should either have a seperate Facebook for school and personal use or have an extremely limited filter on what students can see. Schools would need to set extremely stringent standards of conduct on how teachers can communicate with students online.

All in all, communication of this sort is a wonderful resource if and only if it is used correctly.

Project 14: Skype Interview

Final Project: Progress Report

Our group, London Plays, has decided to do a research type project for our Final Project. We will be composing a survey of approximately four to ten questions regarding technology use in the classroom (such as what teachers use, how it helps, etc.) and distributing it to multiple area schools. We plan to use an online Survey Software and e-mail the school principals in the area with our survey, requesting it be handed down to the teachers. The survey will be anonymous, and at the end, we will compile data from the survey and write a report on our findings. We are planning on limiting to Baldwin and Mobile counties.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

C4K #10: Special Assignment: Ms. Yollis' Blog

For part one of my 11/13/2011 C4K assignment, I visited Ms. Yollis' classroom blog. Ms. Yollis has taught for twenty-five years and seems to really love her job. She teaches twenty-two children in Los Angeles this year, and they blog together as part of the classroom assignments.

Ms. Yollis and students blogging

One link out of her blog leads to her webpage, another very impressive website. She has multiple links on the left-hand sidebar, and by the description on her welcome page, they include links to various games and articles for students to practice with at home. Students can even check their homework online, a resource which is probably great for parents as well, especially when students are less than honest about the work they need to do.

Back on her main page, she has all sorts of neat gadgets, but the World Cluster Map stands out. At the time of writing, she had over 72,000 visitors! Wow! And that is in less than two years. Our webpage has had 48,860 visitors since the same time, which is also a rather impressive number. Her visitors are from literally all over the world, which is very impressive. Students participate in many different technology activites, such as skyping with a group of students in Australia. I wish I could have done something like that in Elementary School!

Another thing that I thought was neat was how her class trick-or-treated for UNICEF, an activity I actually took part in during high school. What a great way to teach children service to others!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blog Post 11

"Little Kids...Big Potential" & Kathy Cassidy's Skype Conversation

In this video, we get a glimpse into Ms. Cassidy's first grade classroom. For one, there seem to be several laptops throughout the classroom. Children are already blogging at the tender age of six and seven. The teachers seem to edit the posts to help with spelling, but leave the original mistakes as well, to keep a portfolio of work. Students learn etiquette through commenting on other students' posts.
A classroom with laptops.

Parents (along with other family members) are encouraged to comment on blogs to encourage the students. Students also use websites during center time to encourage independant learning. To promote cooperation among students, they use wikis to have conversations with each other. Former EDM 310 students even worked with the students on their wikis about the alphabet.

Students also use Skype to chat with reading buddies and experts on various subjects to help them learn about topics. Finally, she uses Ninetendo DS consoles to promote sharing and decision making.

In the interview, Ms. Cassidy discusses many interesting technical aspects of her classroom. One thing that I loved was how she said that generally, administrators and parents have been quite supportive. She says that no administrator has discouraged her, though some have simply not cared. Some teachers seem to be naysayers, but that is to be expected. Parents love seeing the work when they have free time as opposed to only during the teachers' convenient time.

She also heavily encourages using a Personal Learning Network and gives a few sites with which students can set them up (Twitter, Clerk, etc.). She, like Dr. Strange, originally disliked Twitter, but came to love it as a valuable educational resource. She also discusses the frequency of blogging. She also discusses how students can use technology in courses, even such as Physical Education. She also mentions that for safety, students do not post pictures of themselves or their last names. Furthermore, students are also instructed not to click on links around webpages, as not to take them to inappropriate sites. Ms. Cassidy specifically gives websites for students to go to and learn.

Ms. Cassidy's classroom is certainly innovating and exciting! I hope that I can one day have access to such wonderful technology. I feel that the biggest impediments will be cost and fear from administration of embracing the online learning experience.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Project 7: C4K (Month of October)

For the first week, I visited the Wiki of Room 32010, a wiki that seems to be the collaborative effort of the students in classroom 32010 of a school in New Zealand. I was assigned to a student named Gina, and I introduced myself as a United States University student, and then commented on the difference in the way our education system works (grades for us vs. levels for them).

For the second week, I had two commenting assignments: first, I visited the blog of Aliya by assignment. She had a post entitled "Why are Flamingos Pink?". I left an introduction, then told her how much I enjoyed reading her post. I found it to be the most fascinating post yet out of all of my C4K assignments, probably simply because of my love for Science.

Next, by use of the random name generator, I visited Sydnie's blog. Sydnie wrote a post about the history of the joke "Why did the chicken cross the road?". After introducing myself, I told her that I found her post very interesting. It was great to hear the history of such a common joke.

For week three, I visited Rhiannon's Blog. She is a 3rd grader at Leopold Primary School in Victoria, Australia. Her most recent post chronicled her trip to Melbourne, Australia, where she visited a lego convention. I commented that I've always wanted to visit Australia and that I loved to play with legos as a child. I asked her if legos were a popular toy in Australia, informing her that they certainly are here.

In week four, I visited the blog of Room 9 at Pt. England School and enjoyed Taimana's animation and informative video about leprechauns. He told facts about the myths regarding them (such as that each coin represented a year in their life) and made a quick animation of a leprechaun, rainbow, and pot of gold.

Finally, I visited Ms. Gwaltney's 10th-12th grade History class in Portland, Oregon, and read a post entitled "The Power of Research". It was enjoyable to read a blog of students only a few years younger than me. The student (Elliot) was talking about an independent research project he participated in. I commented, agreeing that such a project would be very interesting and could easily help benefit one's research skills.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blog Post 10

"Do You Teach or Do You Educate?"

This video starts with a definition of "to teach", and all of the definitions, except for number four ("cause someone to learn or understand something"), seem to suggest giving students information as opposed to having them learn it themselves - ie, burp-back education. Number five even seems to suggest forcing students into learning, something we know we cannot do.

The video then moves to the definition of "to educate" - many words are mentioned, including "enlighten", "illuminate", and "inspire". An educator is defined as "one who gives intellectual, moral, and social instruction". They are also classified as guides: mentors, instructors, advisors. It then ends with multiple quotes about the way we should educate from philosophical minds.

We must be educators, not teachers. We cannot simply give students information and/or force them to learn; we have to show them the way to obtain and use information to help them become functional outside the classroom.

"Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home"

A pencil.
This was a very interesting post for me to read. For one, Mr. Spencer was the source of four weeks of C4T assignments for me, so it was a joy to get to read him again. The message of his post? We seem to be missing the forest for the trees.

Far to often, we seem to try and pinpoint little, insignificant causes of problems rather than finding solutions. Thus we end up with often idiotic "fixes", such as this one - solutions that have absolutely no correlation to the problem at hand. It's almost a blame game in this example - what can we blame for our schools' terrible test scores? I know! The pencils!

So what does this say to me? Don't be stupid as a teacher. Don't allow yourself to make excuses and misassign blame on little things instead of your own incompetence and others' incompetence. Am I being harsh? Probably so, but I think sometimes we need a good dose of harsh to help us be better educators and people.

Project 3: C4T #3

For my first week, I read the post "Ordinary People" on the blog SpeEdChange, by Ira David Socol. In this post, he argues that heroes are not simply figure-heads who have super human skills; he says that we all have the potential to be heroes if we simply tap into it. As teachers, we should use our skills to make a change in the world. Interestingly enough, as I commented, we all look up to those that we consider heroes (such as the Founding Fathers), but we do not aspire to be like them. Why? We are scared. We do not think we're good enough. We do not think we can do it. I could give a plethora of other reasons, but you get it. We must step up and use our talents for good.

In his second post I read, Class War at the New York Times, Socol condemns the New York Times for its condemnation of technology in the schools. Apparently, the New York Times has been giving very prominent coverage to articles which decry technology in the schools by sharing lies and propaganda. Socol rightfully finds this unexcusable. Socol further says that he does not feel the Times are against technology in school, but simply technology in the hands of children who are not as well off as others. They do not want to level the playing field.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Project 13: Smartboard Demonstration

Blog Post 9

This week, I read two posts by Joe McClung, a teacher who began in Fall 2009, entitled "What I've Learned this Year". I read the posts for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, both of which were set at junior high school in Arkansas.

For 2009-2010, it was his first time teaching history and social studies and his first time teaching junior high at all. In addition, it was the first time he had to teach three different subjects at once (in the past, he had taught only Science). To make matters more difficult, he had never taught from this particular Science curriculum. He was unsure of how to teach history without assigning busy work, but soon learned to adapt and make the subject interesting. He also found that with Science and History, he could not stick to rigid lesson plans due to the constant discussion and debate that comes along with History and Social Studies.

He mentioned briefly finding "the school mom"; ladies who have been at the school for years and are knowledgeable and willing to help newcomers. I don't quite understand why that is limited to ladies in his thinking, but it may just be because there are more women in this field and women tend to be more patient than men are.

He then goes on to tell teachers not to be afraid to act silly and crazy in order to get their point across - sometimes it is necessary and helpful! In addition, he talks about using his students to perform simple duties in the classroom, such as having them get up and pick up their own papers as opposed to him handing them out. Interestingly enough, this also serves the function of keeping students engaged in the class - something I'd never thought about.

Next, Mr. McClung speaks on ensuring that you give the right amount of time to the right subject, not simply focusing on your favorites. Furthermore, you cannot let adversity, whether in the form of outside problems, administration, or parents, get in the way. Remember, we are here for the students!

Joe McClung

I love his thoughts in the paragraph "The Path Least Traveled" about teaching students to think independently, as that seems to be a regular theme in this course. I love his final sentence of that paragraph: "I don't want my students to always look for the right answer, but instead take a different approach that requires them to think analytically and assess each situation on a individual basis." Brilliant.

For the 2010-2011 post, it was Mr. McClung's third year teaching - and now with another subject, Computer Science! He begins the post with a similar sentiment from much of his first post - to keep our instruction student centered! He says that we cannot become wrapped up in pleasing others and forget to take care of the students, who are after all the main reason we are there!

Next, he says that one cannot expect for all of the other teachers to become as excited about new ideas as you may be. I find that this may be a problem for me as a teacher - I tend to like fun and new ideas even when others think they're silly or stupid. As a teacher, I may get a bit upset when other teachers don't want to try new things. Similarly, he says not to try to fit in too hard - it's not a bad think to be an outsider! Remember that we are there FOR the students, not for our social lives.

Another lesson he learned, one which I particularly love, he titles "Never touch the keyboard". Basically, he is saying not to do a task you are attempting to teach a student how to do for the student. Finally, he says not to fall complacently into a routine and simply go through the motions of being a teacher.

Mr. McClung shares some excellent thoughts on teaching. I hope that as a teacher I choose also to write summary posts like his to share with new teachers - and I love his student centered-approach! We should all try to care more about the students than politics and policies.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Project 11: Short Movie

Blog Post 8

Dr. Richard E. Miller Discusses Writing with Multimedia

In this video, Dr. Richard E. Miller begins by talking about the traditional methods of writing and research, by using books to help one in writing more books. That said, he mentions that academic books have begun to go out of style and out of print as we now move towards the use of computers to research and write. The beauty of this is that we have access to a huge amount of information all concentrated in one place (the Internet).

He also states that a lot of academic publishing has moved towards being available both as print and as an online document. He then begins to speak on the ability of collaboration available by use of the internet. We can use images, sound, and video all in one document to help us further the points that we want our students to learn. By using multimedia presentations, we can incorporate both information from the internet and information collected from sources around us.

In Part 2, he begins to speak of another advantage of online information: information can be changed and edited and presented at any time, right before our eyes. He states that educators should be glad to share information freely to help others learn. We can use given information to help us more effectively teach and share the same information in different ways with other people. He makes the interesting statement that many of the limitations that are given with said software and techniques are placed on us by ourselves. He briefly speaks on the power of YouTube to distribute and share information quickly, versus a print document which often takes a lengthy amount of time to publish.

I agree with Dr. Miller in that multimedia presentations will soon become a crucial part of the classroom and will be frequently used by classrooms to help students present information effectively in both the classroom and in future jobs. I also agree with his shock that some people are completely uninterested in these excellent resrouces for education. Many people simply feel that the "old style" paper and pencil are the best way - and where they may be entitled to their opinions, they should also make room for the inevitable future where technology will be crucial to success.
Youtube Logo

Carly Pugh's Blog Post

In Carly's blog post where she was assigned to create an assignment, she asked students to make a YouTube playlist containing videos on various aspects of being a teacher, such as classroom management, motivation, and ways to improve education, for a total of at least ten videos. She gave one she made on her own as an example for those doing the assignments.

Carly then goes on to speak about some basic, yet important ideas to promote in one's classroom - such as trying new things, embracing diversity, accepting everyone, and creativity. She also gives some videos about student teaching and other basic classroom skills. She concludes by saying that we as teachers need to move towards allowing students to find and research materials as opposed to simply placing and assigning things right in front of their faces.

I think this assignment would have been very interesting had we been required to do it and would have helped us gain much valuable insight for being a teacher. As I've stated in past posts, I think the idea of having students find their own information is fantastic, because it uses higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy and thus has been proven to help children learn more effectively.

EDM 310 is Different

The first thing I will note: It is completely different to watch these movies now as opposed to when I first started in this class! When I watched them in August, I remembered thinking that there was no way this class required THAT much time, and that this was just being hyped up to make us work harder.

Boy, was I wrong! You truly have to put a lot of effort into this class and be willing to think and learn, as is the message of both videos. These videos have a witty, sarcastic way of explaining that this class requires quite a bit of dedication to come out of with a passing grade.

If I was to make a video like this, I would probably MAJORLY emphasize the time requirements. Students cannot come into this class thinking they will simply fly through it - any attempt to do so will either fail or result in a not-so-nice grade.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

This video opens with a staggering statistic: Education was ranked #55 in a list of areas that are IT intensive in the United States. Out of 55. Wow! We have a lot to learn, apparently. This video shows many well-known educators discussing the state of education and the way we learn. I love that one teacher points out how our most current forms of technology, cell phones, texting, and social networking, are banned from the classroom. What irony! Shouldn't we be learning to use the resources available to us?

As many other videos we've watched have said, technology is no longer an optional part of an educational setting. We are, as a society, so engrossed in technology that we cannot simply ignore it as educators. Some teachers make a point that students use cell phones and technology out of class so often that they could be a wonderful additional resource in the classroom itself. We must equip teachers with the technology needed to change the classrooms, and the classrooms will change.

Project 12: Book Trailer

Sources of Images:;;;;;;;;;;;

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Project 9b: Instructional Timeline

Much of the information for this timeline comes from the Wikipedia article "History of the Molecule".

Blog Post 7

Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture", alternately entitled "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" was a lecture given on September 18, 2007. Dr. Pausch passed away a bit less than a year later. In the beginning, Pausch speaks of his childhood goals and exactly how he achieved them, though not exactly the way that he originally expected to. He then moved on to deciding that he wanted to help enable the childhood dreams of other, and thus begins teaching at Carnegie Mellon.

Randy Pausch

I loved his point of how he would tell his students, "Good work, but you can do better". This encourages them to continue working and never be completely satisfied with oneself. Students, of course, should have self-esteem, but should also keep pushing to higher goals.

Another interesting point was how he and Don had control over the course they taught at Carnegie-Mellon, reporting directly to the provost. This allowed for a lot of things to be done differently, and seems to be every teacher's dream (it reminds me quite a bit of Rafe Esquith, actually.). Students were involved with the community (such as New York Fire Department, for whom they helped build a network simulator to train firefighters), and were even often guarenteed jobs by big companies.

Another interesting teacher point: he put emphasis on peer feedback. This reminds me quite a bit of EDM 310, in that we value each others' opinions to help us learn. Teachers ought remember that students will be critiqued and evaluated all throughout their life, and learning to accept and learn from it is a crucial skill.

He also makes a lot of comments and shares multiple anecodtes about learning from one's students. I think this is a fabulous point, because we must remember that we DO NOT know it all. Students can teach us many things, especially about new technology.

Project 10: PLN Progress Report 1

I have been using Symbaloo to keep track of my web addresses for my Personal Learning Network. Click here to view my webmix, which is currently small, with a few addresses added with Science Teacher Resources. I do, however, have multiple personal resources (saved in my phone) who I can reference at any time with teaching questions. These include my former choir teacher, two former Social Studies teachers, three former Science teachers, and two former college professors. I feel that I can call upon these people at any time.

In addition, I have a collection of several published books with resources for Science teachers, ranging from worksheets to project ideas. These are stored in a box at home and are ready for use when I begin teaching. These were actually a gift from one of the aformentioned Science teachers.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Project 3: C4T #2

Once again, I am to read posts by John T. Spencer on his blog "Education Rethink". My first post this cycle is by far my favorite of his so far. It is entitled "What-Works Wednesday: Documentary". He is specifically doing this project with English Language Learners in fifth grade, but it could work across the board in just about any curriculum. Students work together to create ninety-minute documentaries on a topic democratically decided upon by the class. Though he uses it to promote language and technology skills, I would be using it in an upper-level classroom to help teach difficult topics. I feel like this is a fantastic project for several reasons: it promotes higher-order thinking, it helps students become more technologically literate, it requires and encourages teamwork, and it simply helps students have more fun in the classroom and helps them to love learning. I hope to be able to do a project like this in my future classroom.

For my second post, I read a post entitled "The Problem with PEMDAS", also by John T. Spencer. This post was a great read for me. He speaks on the terrible way that we teach the Order of Operations to students, using the cute little acronym "PEMDAS", for "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally." The problem is that it leaves out multiple parts and concepts of the Order of Operations. In my comment, I told Mr. Spencer that I have been irritated about this all through school, wondering why each teacher taught this concept differently.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Project 6a: Podcast

EDM 310 - Podcast - Rafe Esquith's "There Are No Shortcuts" - Ch 1,2,12, and epilogue by Isaac Evans - EDM 310

Blog Post 6

Windy Drexler - The Networked Student

The video opens with a story about a student studying American Psychology with no textbook or lecturing teacher. Said teacher believes in "Connectivism", which is a system in which students learn through networking. To do this, a student needs a Personal Learning Network, which he finds by finding credible online resources and bookmarking them on a public bookmarking site. Next, he finds blogs about his topic, keeping in mind that they may well be biased. He keeps up with his blogs through a reader, such as Google Reader.

He then begins his own public blog about what all he has learned. He uses his mp3 player to download podcasts and resources to teach him more. He even finds a documentary and sets up a video conference to learn more about his topic.

Much of this video was about the personal organization of information via the web, such as by using Google Reader and Delicious Bookmarks. However, in the last minute of this video, the question of why he needs a teacher is presented. The answer is surprsingly simple - he needs a teacher to show him how to learn! She helps him find resources that are legitimate and useful, communicate effectively, and synthesize information.

I hope that I have the resources to teach like this. In a Science classroom, much of this learning is done by experimentation. After watching this, I think that many teachers might have it wrong... instead of teaching a concept and using a laboratory exercise to back it up, why can't we do a laboratory exercise and THEN use it to enforce the concepts we woul have reviewed with the exercise. For example, when some teachers would choose to teach about Avogadro's number and THEN do the oil drop experiement in class to show how it was found, why not have the students conduct said experiment first and THEN give the actual value. Furthermore, students could then evaluate their experimentation and critique any error in their found value. I feel like this method of teaching is much more effective then simply telling the answer.

"Welcome to My PLE!"

The logo for Symbaloo, an online bookmarking service
This video shows a 7th grade student giving a tour of her Personal Learning Environment. The school she is at has taught her how to find and evaluate information. Like our class, her class uses a blog to do assignments and uses Google Docs to create and edit documents.

Clearly, her Science class is very interactive. Students are required to do research online and create reports for both class and extra activities, such as becoming certified to hold the classroom pet. Even more interesting to me is the encouragement for students to have their work peer reviewed - but not by their peers in the classroom! This particular girl e-mailed a couple of scientists to ask questions about the Box Jellyfish.

Students also have a good bit of freedom as to when and how they do their work. This student says that it encourages responsibility, which I think is fantastic. If we encourage this, students will be more prepared for college than before! The ability to work efficiently and independantly is a crucial skill for college, and the teacher in charge of this classroom should be commended for her efforts.

Project 7: C4K (Month of September)

For my first C4K, I commented on a post by Annexee at Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand. In her post "Champions", she talked about the school's Year 7 Rugby Team recently winning a tournament in Auckland. Apparently, they went undefeated for twelve games. I told her how impressive that was to me after introducing myself.

A couple of days later, I actually received a sweet post on my blog from Annexee, saying thank you for my comment and telling me that she thought I'd be a great teacher. I can't lie, that absolutely made my day.

The next week, I visited Tamara's blog, also at Pt. England School. Her most recent post was about the flag of Romania, and she gave a description of what the different colors meant. I told her that I enjoyed her post and that I felt like we should all strive to have the different character traits she listed. I asked her what she felt her strongest and weakest were from the list after giving mine.

For the third week, I visited the Coastal Technology Project blog maintained by Anthony Capps and Martha Yim. My assigned post was by Ms. Yim, where she spoke on her experiences in the first week of the project. I loved her point about having to ease students and their teacher into the use of this technology - it allows them to be less scared and simply learn on their own. I'm looking forward to following this project as it progresses throughout the year. As I pointed out to Ms. Yim in my comment, it seems that when I was in school, the new technology was simply placed in the hands of the teachers - but the idea of placing it in the hands of the students is very exciting!

In the fourth week, I visited Alex's blog. Alex is a student competing in the International Blogging contest, and he posted several introductory facts about himself. He is twelve years old. In my comment, I compared how we were alike and different and invited him to view the "About Me" presentation on my blog, which I gave him a link to.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog Post 5

Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?

"Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?", by Dr. Scott McLeod is a satire on the arguments that people use to get around teaching children technology. He states arguments such as "pen and paper aren't going anywhere" and "they could be sexting (so don't let them near cell phones!) and getting hooked up with predators". In this article, he, like many others, focuses on the NEGATIVE only in technology, until the end, when he says: "don't do any of it, please; really; 'cause I'm doing all of it with my kids; can't wait to see who has a leg up in a decade or two; can you?", which I feel like is his main point - children who are trained in technology will have a leg up in the future.

According to his official website, Dr. McLeod is an associate professor of education at the University of Kentucky. He founded and currently directs CASTLE, which is a project to train school administrators in technology. He is also an avid blogger and twitter users. For his work in promoting technology, he has won multiple awards, such as being named a Phi Delta Kappa emerging leader.

An iPod Touch
The iSchool Initiative (Mobile Learning)

In this video, Travis Allen, a seventeen year old high school student in Georgia, argues that he has a solution for the multiple problems our education system is suffering through. He has prepared a PowerPoint entitled, "Does Technology Belong in the Classroom?".

Allen feels that iPod Touches, by the company Apple, could replace the current trends in the classroom, such as papers, pecils, etc. He showcases certain apps, such as the E-Mail app, where students, parents, and teachers could stay in touch with one another, Chemical Touch, an app about the periodic table, a digitial copy of the consitution, WorldWiki, an application that gives maps and globes, Formulae, an application that provides every possible formula for science and maps students, a calendar application, a notetaking application, and more. He even shows the application "Classics", which could be a great resource to read books, including textbooks. iHomework allows students and teachers to communicate about homework.

Allen shows that the iPod touch could be further customized to show grades, calendar menus, and more school information. He shows that it could save money on things such as calculators, paper, and textbooks, and he says that it could save $600 (at least) per student for $150 per iSchool.

Travis Allen, now a student at Kentucky State University, travels around to help push the iSchool initiative with seminars. Towards the end of the second video, Allen says, "The simple truth is this: If we are going to thrive in the information age, we must rethink, retool, and rebuild our educational institution to better prepare our youth for the digital world we were born in to."

Wow. That's about all I can say about this video. I immediately posted the final quote given to my Facebook after watching - how incredibly true, and how wonderful that somebody my age could have already made such a difference! Honestly, I'm unsure as to why we haven't made this leap into technology yet, though I suspect fear is a large part of it. The idea of teachers being so incredibly accessible would be wonderful for students, and the idea of carrying around a small, less than one pound, mini computer is very appealing as opposed to multiple backpacks and books. This is probably the most impressive video I've seen in this course to date.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque'

Eric Whitacre's use of the internet and technology is absolutely incredible. Funnily enough, this is not the first time I've seen something like this. Being a fan of musical theatre, I've seen videos where people have sung songs together via the internet and laid down the tracks together to create harmonies. That said, I've never seen anything of this magnitude. And this is just 185 people. Under the video, there is a link to "Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2.0", where "Sleep" is performed by 2,085 people from fifty-eight different countries. Wow! What a way to connect with people from around the world! This is extremely impressive!

In the classroom, it might be fun for a choir or theatre teacher to try something like this. If the jobs were avaiable, I would probably actually be a music education major and would definitely love to try something like this. I'm about to email this video to my old choir teacher from high school.

"Teaching in the 21st Century"

Kevin Roberts' video "Teaching in the 21st Century" asks the simply question "What does it mean to teach in the 21st century". He starts by saying that teachers are obsolete if all they can provide is information, seeing as students have easy access to all kinds of information - we are now a filter, helping them how to go through information and use the information already given to them. He states that we should be teaching students skills - both life skills and technology skills - as opposed to simply facts and content.

The crux of his video seems to be that we should be teaching students how to use technology to obtain reliable data and to work together using technology. He states that we should be engaging students in their education, not simply teaching them.

I have actually always thought that it is astounding that our schools do not teach many life skills to student - skills such as how to change a tire, how to find housing and evaluate housing, and other realistic skills for life. Mr. Roberts seems to touch on that. I do love the idea of helping students obtain facts and content and evaluate sources, but I also feel that some facts and content must be taught. Basic principles of any core curriculum should be cemented into the head of students, though many of the higher concepts could be taught by simply teaching students how to obtain the information they need instead of having to burp it back.

Project 9a: Personal Timeline

Friday, September 16, 2011

Project 6: My Sentence Video

Blog Post 4

"1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook"

The first article I read and podcast I listened to for this week's blog post was "1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook", by the Langwitches. The basic premise behind this activity was for teachers to turn popular children's books into scripts and allow the students to record the scripts and edit them (in this case, using GarageBand) to add sound effects and turn them into full-fledged audiobooks.

The writer was astounded at how engaged the students were with this activity, even going so far as to ask to edit and re-record parts of their recordings so that they were perfect. Furthermore, the students loved listening to themselves while following along with the script.

I feel like this was a wonderful activity to engage students and encourage them to be creative. Seeing as I am a Secondary Education / Science major, I would be more likely to use this in an activity where students are asked to create a song or rap to remember Chemistry formulas or something along those lines. On an elementary level, however, this could be a brilliant activity for multiple subjects - it encourages creativity and could help students remember important concepts.

An iPod

"The benefits of podcasting in the classroom"

Next, I watched the video and read the article "The Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom", by Joe Dale. The video begins by explaining that teachers are now educating students who are called "millenials", meaning that they were born after the 1980s and thus have experienced life full of technology.

He explains that podcasting actually uses the upper levels of Bloom's Technology, and any teacher who's had a bit of training will tell you that that is encouraged to help students learn more effectively. Next, the video asked: "What's the benefit?". The first one that came to my mind, and also the first one that the video addressed, is to assist absent students. Students can download the podcasts for free through iTunes to help them keep from getting behind on their work.

The video also briefly touches on the use of blogs to upload podcasts and to facilitate conversation between students. The principal of the school featured in the clip also brings up that podcasting can allow parents to keep tabs on what is happening in the classroom, and as any teacher will tell you, parents will absolutely love that.

As previously stated, I do like the idea of using podcasts as projects for students to help them learn, but I like the idea of using them to assist absent students even more. I can think of one time in particular during my sophomore year of high school where I contracted a nasty case of bronchitis and missed eight days of school. Had podcasted lectures been avaliable, I would have had a much easier time catching up, particularly in U.S. History and Chemistry.

100 Ways to Use Your iPod to Learn and Study Better

I found this list to be extremely informative, and not only because of the podcasting information. I have used Apple mp3 players since 2005, when I recieved an iPod mini. From there, I went through two iPod videos (lawnmower accident...), an iPod touch, and now I'm on my second iPhone. So yes, you could say I'm an Apple snob in that department. Some of these resources are amazing - such as Spark Charts and GoogleGet. However, for this assignment, I am to focus on the podcasting information.

My first thought upon seeing the ESL podcasts was that this could be a great resource for schools in a financial crunch. While there is no substitute for a caring and professional teacher, when a school may only have access to an ESL teacher two or three days a week (or less), this could be an excellent resource to help students retain information! Students, especially younger ones, would also enjoy getting to use the technology in the classroom.

Another one I liked was Mogopop - where one can "add notes, videos, and illustrations to audiobooks and study notes". What a brilliant application for elementary school students! Students could enjoy independant reading time and be read to by the iPod while still not losing out on the illustrations that young children long for. Brain Quest (which has different levels for grades 1-7) sounds wonderful as well for some fun, brain teaser time, perhaps if a student finishes an assignment early and needs something to temporarily hold his or her attention.

NPR Science Friday is another one that could be great, especially for the high school Science classroom, where I hope to be teaching someday. Instead of simply using repetitive, boring textbook units, students could listen to modern discussions about science and be on the cutting edge of what is going on.

Numbers twenty-eight and twenty-nine on the list could be excellent resources for us in this class and any teacher by teaching us how to create and manage podcasts. As previously mentioned, this could be a great tool to both encourage creativity and to help students who are forced to be absent from the classroom for whatever reason.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog Post 3

Paige Ellis's Blog Assignment

I chose to offer my comments and critique suggestions to Lindsey Dunnam's Blog Post #2 in a public comment. Why? The positive in her post outweighed the negative and therefore I saw no reason to hide my praise and suggestions. Here is what I said about her post:

"I really enjoyed reading your opinions of the videos, Lindsey. I particularly like your example of your Computer technology class that was not as well done as Ms. Davis's. I might suggest that you combine some of your shorter sentences into compound or complex sentences to make your writing flow a bit better."

I feel that if one maintains a positive attitude of constructive criticism when critiquing writing, it helps prevent feelings being hurt. As I said previously, Lindsey's writing was well done, and my suggestion was simply a stylistic one, so there was no reason to be quiet about it.

If I came across a post that had serious grammatical errors, I might make my suggestions via e-mail as to not embarrass the writer.

Hands typing on a computer keyboard.

It's Not About the Technology

In "It's Not about the Technology", Kelly Hines states that becoming a modern, up-to-date classroom is not all about having fancy, expensive technology. She makes the point that all teachers still need to be willing to learn if they wish to teach, and that they must help students learn, not simply teach thmem. The two are not the same thing.

I particularly like the outline Ms. Hines provides under the point "Be a 21st Century Teacher without the technology.", where she lists things such as "Creativity and Innovation" (flashback to Ken Robinson, anybody?) and "Information, Media, and Technology Skills", as well as "Life and Career Skills". The last one rings a bell with me, as I've always been shocked that we aren't taught things such as how to behave in an interview in school. I've always felt that a life skills class would be great for high schoolers.

Overall, I love what Ms. Hines has to say. Before we step into the future with technology, we have to step into the future with the way we teach and learn.

"Is it Okay to Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?"

In his award-winning post, Karl Fischer asks the question "Is it okay to be a technologically illiterate teacher?" In short, his answer is absolutely not. He gives a list of seven standards he has written for teachers; summarized, the list basically states that teachers should be technologically literate and that there should be accountability on the part of administrators and university teacher training courses to make sure that this is the case.

Perhaps my favorite quote from the whole list, though, is, "How long does it take for someone to wake up to the fact that technology is part of life, not an add-on?" Wow. I've never thought of it that way before, but it is absolutely the truth. We're at a point where one cannot decide whether or not to deal with technology, unless you want to lock yourself in a padded room. Fischer continues by speaking about the apparent apathy on the part of teachers about technology - teachers feeling that it's okay not to be familiar with technology. This is a scary thought.

He ends with this shocking sentence: "If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write." Wow. I do feel like it's a bit of an extreme statement, but in a strange way, it's not really. School is about preparing students for life, yes? And reading and writing are quite important. But now, one cannot get a job without knowing basics of technology. So I feel that he is correct - now we just need to get our bigwigs thinking that way.

Gary Hayes' Social Media Count

Watching Gary Hayes' Social Media Count is quite an eye-opener for anyone, especially someone who doesn't believe in technology. In any given ten-second span, over 120,000 items are shared on Facebook. In thirty second, twenty-five hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Even more astounding, within a minute, one will see nearly 100,000 tweets. What does this say? Technology is growing, and it's growing fast. As educators, we need to get on the boat and use it to our advantage.

Teaching is all about using every tool you have to teach and inspire students to learn. Unfortunately, some teachers seem to find humor (yes, humor, as mentioned by Karl Fischer) in simply ignoring what might be the greatest tool available to them. Let's think about the Facebook numbers for a moment, shall we? It's 11:15 on Friday morning, and out of my 840 friends, 41 are currently online. That's about five percent of my friends who are accessible immediately at the click of a button.

Now here's a thought - what if as a teacher, I could leave my Facebook up and running and allow students to be my friend (perhaps on a special account just for school - not my personal life) and simply leave my chat up and running. If I hear a ding, I could check it and answer any questions. How awesome would that be for the student struggling with balancing equations in Chemistry? Maybe have "Virtual Office Hours" - Mr. Evans will be online nightly from 7:30-8:30 with exceptions posted on the whiteboard in class. I would have loved it with some of my math and science courses, I'll tell you that! We should learn to harness the ever-growing technology and use it to our advantage as teachers.

"A Vision of Students Today"

In the video "A Vision of Students Today", by Michael Wesch, the issue of non-modern education in a modern society is addressed. It begins by showing how education is not very interactive, with few teachers knowing students' name and students sitting silently in class, but then shows how a two-hundred student collaborative document was edited by all of the two-hundred students, some more than once.

It then goes on to show multiple issues and bad habits students have with education, such as not completing assigned readings and not showing up for class, and showing students' time management skills (or lack thereof). Finally, students tell us what they are doing with technology during class - and I assure you, it's not class work.

What does this mean for teachers? We should use technology as a means for helping students learn; clearly, students are very comfortable (for the most part) with technology and would probably learn better if it was integrated in the classroom. In this example, technology actually impedes on student learning. Let's change that and force it to help!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Project 3: C4T #1

In my first C4T assignment, I read a post by John T. Spencer, a middle school teacher in Arizona, entitled "The Paradox of Parenting". Mr. Spencer has two major points in this post: many truths are actually paradoxical, and nobody knows it all.

He gives a fairly long list of paradoxical truths, such as "Stay safe but stay free" - all of which are assumed as true but seem contradictory. He speaks on the fact that all of these are true, but simply seem like they contradict themselves. Furthermore, Mr. Spencer makes it clear that when it comes to how to teach (and parent), nobody knows it all, no matter what they claim.

In my comment, I agreed with his points, stating that as educators, we cannot take a "my way or the highway" approach - each student learns differently, and we have to adapt to each student in order to teach them best.

For my second week with Mr. Spencer, I read the post "That's Not a Reading Strategy". He opens with an anecdote about how he hated reading about the founding fathers as a child - he found them boring and didn't relate to them. All that he could relate to were actual letters that they wrote, which actually gave them a sense of humanity, as did a book he found later, entitled Founding Brothers. This book allowed Mr. Spencer a more personal, human approach to the founding fathers, and made him think about and enjoy reading them more.

After sharing this, he shares a story about teachers in the lounge discussing whether or not they should teach personal connections as a reading strategy. "Will it be on the standardized tests?" they wonder. The two teachers actually come to the conclusion that they cannot teach personal connections because they do not have time because they will not be tested. Talk about teaching to the test!

I agree completely with Mr. Spencer that this is an absolutely deplorable approach. I could go on a tangent about the fact that teachers should not be put into the position of having so much based on test scores that they no longer have time to actually teach, but I shall not. As Mr. Spencer says, children will never continue to read and learn freely if we don't help them enjoy it and have a personal connection with it! Our job as educators is to help students learn and help them develop a passion for lifelong learning, not to simply teach them to recite random, unrelated, and often unimportant facts!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blog Post 2

Did you Know?

"Did You Know", by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Jeff Brenman, discusses two main points: Firstly, The job market is rapidly changing. One of the first statistics given in the video is that the top 10 in-demand jobs of 2008 didn't even exist in 2004. The video also shows how people generally don't say at jobs very long - 25% of employees had been with their companies less than a year and 50% had been there less than five years. Second, the video touches on the impact of information technology on the world. There were two stastics that shocked me more than others, though. One was, "If MySpace was a country, it would be the firth largest, with 200 million users.", and the second one was that the total number of texts each day exceeds the population of the planet. That simply blows my mind.

So what does this mean for the educator? We have to stay on top of the ever-changing world of technology. While we may be on top of it right now, we must also remember that we are the generation these technologies aim for - as we grow older, we must make an effort to stay familar with the same technologies our students use. Some of the best teachers I had in high school used Facebook and were accessible through Facebook outside of class - including occasionally to call us out for posting during their classes. We should strive to do the same - use the technology available to us to be the best teachers we can be.

"Mr. Winkle Wakes", by Mathew Needleman

"Mr. Winkle Wakes", a cartoon my Mathew Needleman
, follows the fictional character Mr. Winkle as he wakes up from a one-hundred year sleep and begins to explore the world. Mr. Winkle is overwhelmed by the new technology in an office building and hospital, but feels right at home at school, which has changed only minutely.

The video shows Mr. Winkle as being quite happy with the school; however, this is very clearly a satire on how little our schools have advanced technologically. Yes, we use computers and have some modern conveniences, but not as much as the outside world.

Why? I see two reasons - money and fear. The money reasoning is obvious: technology is expensive, and in a budget crunch, the money is simply not there. However, the fear is inexcusable. I actually created a classroom website and forum for my 7th grade Gifted Class. It was private except to registered users, who had to be approved through myself or our teacher. What happened? The county IT department shut us down because it was "dangerous". I feel that the true danger is our fear of new technology.

That said, we are moving in the right direction. I know of a couple of Baldwin County schools that will be equipping all students with laptops in the Spring of this year. So there is hope - let's just hope our leaders see it through.

A young student coloring.

"Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity"

In the video "Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity", Ken Robinson talks about the tragedy of schools stifiling creativity. Why? Mr. Robinson asserts that one cannot be creative and original if he or she is afraid of being wrong. The problem? Schools quite strongly discourage being wrong, and therefore students are afraid to be creative at the risk of being wrong.

Mr. Robinson makes the bold assertion that "creativity is just as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status." He further goes on to speak about the hierearchy in education - every school puts math and language arts at the top, and it trickles all the way down to having fine arts at the bottom. Specifically, drama and dance are at the bottom. He asserts that this hierearchy is based on two ideas - what would be the most useful for industry and academic ability.

He further says that the primary and secondary education system is simply and long pathway to the universities; thus many creative children have their abilities stifled due to the hardcore academic priorities of the schools. He cites an example of a woman who is now a great contributor to musical theatre who couldn't sit still in school and was fortunate enough to be taken to a dance school. In the wrong hands; however, she might have been simply told to sit still and pay attention.

Finally, Mr. Robinson asserts that we should be educating the "whole being" of our children, not just the head and that we should not stifle creativity, but encourage it.

Mr. Robinson makes some excellent points in his video - creativity is not given much emphasis in school, and it's certainly understandable how students would fear being wrong - but I do have to respectfully disagree on one big point.

Creativity is not just as important as literacy. Call me old fashioned, but I do not buy into that. Why? As of the moment, one has MUCH more of a chance of getting a job if he or she is "book smart" in areas such as reading, math, and science, than if he or she is wishing to be a performer. It's sad, but it's true.

Furthermore, the jobs of schools should be to prepare students for life, correct? If that's the case, than we should be helping students attain skills needed to earn a job later in life and support themselves. While I wish that was possible through simply music or dance, I do not feel like it is. The jobs simply are not there.

That being said, I do hope that as a teacher, I never discourage creativity. I'd like to do many hands on projects where students are asked to choose the best way to model something, or perhaps even write a rap or a song to help remember some science conept. Creativity has a very good place in the classroom, we should just keep it in perspective with what is truly the priority.

Can U.S. Students Compete?

In the article and video "Can U.S. Students Compete", student Cecilia Gault of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps speaks to Ken Robinson on what we can learn from other countries that do well in education. Robinson feels that there should be more of a balance between science and art curriculum, that technology should play a greater role in classrooms, and that everybody is creative. He also stated (in the video) that he felt that everyone could be taught to be creative.

Sir Robinson says that intelligence is "very diverse" - it can be anything from solving problems to understand the world around you.

Gault also spoke to David Livermore, who is a research consultant at the Cultural Intelligence Center, who said that he wishes parents were more involved and that students traveled more to understand other countries.

I do agree with Sir Robinson on all of his main points - though as I've stated previously, I do see "traditional" subjects in education as more important, I do wish we had more arts and creativity interpolated in our core subjects. As stated previously also, I wish that we had more technology in our classrooms. I absolutely love his point that everyone is creative or can be taught to be - I've never thought of it before, but it is so true! Have you ever seen a kindergarten student who wouldn't draw pictures because he or she didn't know how? No! Some students simply become afraid of making mistakes and stop trying.

I also love the idea of student news reporters - perhaps as a science teacher, I could bring in an expert in the field to my classroom (such as a college professor) and allow students to interview him on upcoming topics of discussion - this allows for creativity and learning science all at once.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts

"Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts" follows Vicki Davis, a teacher and IT Director as Westwood Schools in Georgia, who tries to connect students to technology and to the ouside world. She makes a very good point that when students are only taught with paper and pencil, only some students are going to succeed. She likes teaching several online skills, such as blogging, using wikis, and collaborating on products.

She encourages students to think for themselves instead of simply being taught by a teacher. She likes to allow students to think for themselves instead of simply being fed all of the content. Davis and another teacher (Lindsey) actually founded "Digiteen", an online program to teach students citizenship by connecting them online. It's a lot like a social network, in the sense that teachers and students connect and blog to each other.

Furthermore, Davis and Lindsey founded the flat classroom project, which allows students to collaborate write and create videos with other students all over the world. They even had a conference in the Middle East, which Davis and many of her students traveled to.

Ms. Davis actually reminded me a lot of Dr. Strange in her thinking - she seems to be firmly against burp-back education, which is commendable. The idea of having students teach each other is fantastic and encourages teamwork, which we all know is a very necessary skill in today's workplace. I wish that all schools could afford the technology to teach like this, but we are on the right track.

I also would commend the school district for allowing this to happen. As I've previously said, many schools are terrified of new technology and would never have allowed something like this to happen - they would claim blogging is too dangerous for students! Nothing is further from the truth. The real danger is the fact that we're producing technologically illiterate students who lack many skills needed for today's jobs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Project 5: Presentation

I have created a presentation in Google Docs about myself so that my readers can get to know me! I have embedded the presentation below for your convenience - feel free to e-mail me at if you have any questions or comments!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Project 2: Wordle

Isaac Evans's Wordle

This is a Wordle created from the "Get to Know Me!" section of my first post. Unsurprisingly, University, South, Alabama, and classroom were big words, considerng I'm an Education student at the University of South Alabama. I definitely chuckled a bit when I saw that "mother" was another big word, considering that I've always been a "mama's boy". This project offered an interesting insight into my autobiography.

Blog Post 1

Get to Know Me!

Hi! My name is Isaac Evans, and I'm currently a sophomore at the University of South Alabama. I was born in Northport, Alabama, but moved to Daphne, Alabama at the age of eight. I graduated from Spanish Fort High School in May 2010 and received scholarship offers from several schools, but eventually narrowed down my choices to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of South Alabama. I have been very pleased with my education thus far here at South and am looking forward to another wonderful three years!

According to my mother, I've wanted to be a teacher ever since the age of two. I do remember writing my own lesson plans at a relatively young age and pretending to be a teacher in the privacy of my bedroom. I do not know why I have always been so drawn to the field, but in any case, I am, and so I eagerly await the day when I have a classroom of my own. Once I've completed my schooling, I'll be certified to teach 6th through 12th grade Science in Alabama, but even now I teach Bible Class to four through six year olds each Sunday, and I love it! My mother currently teaches 6th grade math and has taught Bible Class all of her life, and my father is a minister and an adjunct Bible professor at Faulkner University, so I suppose you could say teaching runs in my family.

In my time away from the classroom, I work as a cashier at Allegri Farm Market, where I also help with handling our Amish products and I do much of the computer work that needs to be done. I love my job there and find great joy in working with the general public. In my other free time, my biggest hobby is theatre - listening, watching, performing - you name it!

All in all, I cannot wait to see what this course has to offer me and I especially cannot wait for that fateful August day when I look at a classroom full of new students who are finally mine to mold and teach.

Randy Pausch on Time Management

In his video, "Randy Pausch on Time Management", Mr. Pausch gives an overview of tools to help us with time management. He finds our real problems to be stress and procrastination, and states that Americans should treat time as more of a commodity as we do money. Three of his rules for setting goals and priorities are to ask "Why am I doing it?", "Why will I succeed?", and "What will happen if I don't do it?".

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Pausch is "It doesn't matter how well you polish the underside of the banister." He says this to make a point that you should do only things that are worthwhile and do them well. He also makes a point that one should always plan what they're going to do. Sure, you may have to occasionally change your plans, but you have to have plans to do that in the first place.

Finally, he gives instructions on To-Do lists. This section is shorter, but the two rules he speaks on are to organize the list into small tasks and to do the worst tasks first.

Sadly, Mr. Pausch died from pancreatic cancer in the Summer of 2008. He was a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University and inspired many students before his passing. Thankfully, he still can share his thoughts through the multiple lectures of his we have recorded.

What did I learn? Stay organized and prioritize my goals, and I'll be in good shape with my time. And eat the big frog first!