Friday, October 26, 2012

PLN Project #10 Progress Report

Screenshot of Taylor Davis' PLN

Above is a screen shot of the progress of my PLN. I am so very fond of PLNs and Symbaloo! I can't stand to be unorganized so with the help a PLN all of your regularly used sites are in one place. Also with Symbaloo, you can access specific resources at any time, making your PLN very convenient. Symbaloo can be customized for any individual's needs and can be made public or private. You can choose wether you want to create your own mix of websites and resources or if you'd like to share your resources with individuals with the same common interests.

So far, my PLN is coming along quite nicely. I've added the majority of the tools that Dr. Strange suggests that we use, like BeFunky, Diigo, and Delicious. Also, I've added websites that I use regularly such as Pinterest and YouTube as well as educational sites to benefit teachers, for example, PBS Teachers and Teacher Tube. I can't wait to see how much more I can add to my PLN as the semester goes on and even in my teaching. I'm certain that I will use my PLN regularly in the future.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blog Post #9

I enjoyed reading the posts written by Mr. McClung in the blog, At The Teacher's Desk. For the assignment, we were to read 2 out of 4 of Mr. McClung's reflective post, one being Version 4. Since I am a person who has always pictured myself being a teacher, it was exciting to read real life examples of classroom experiences. Mr. McClug's zeal for teaching and learning is one to be admired. I enjoyed Mr. McClug's reflections and found myself reading all four of the recommended posts. These were all of value to me so I quickly added his blog to my PLN.

First, I read the post referring to Mr. McClung's first year of teaching. As the day that I take my first classroom approaches, reality sets in and, naturally, I'm quite nervous. Excited, but nervous! With that being said, I diligently read what Mr. McClung had written, taking every piece of advice to heart. I'm definitely a people-pleaser. I can't stand to have anyone mad at me, or disappointed in me, or judging me. However, when I begin teaching I will have to realize that it is about what my students and superiors think of me rather than what my peers think. Mr. Clung advises teachers to communicate-with peers, superiors and students in order to build relationships and resolve workplace drama. Among this, he also said to embrace technology and to be reasonable when dealing with students.

Mr. McClung's advice to read the crowd and be to be flexible stood out to me the most. Once again, it's all about the kids. He says to let your audience drive your lessons and not to panic when your "perfect lessons" don't go as planned. These are all facts that I know I need to remember. To me, it's so easy to get lost in planning the perfect lesson that you think other teachers would like when, in actuality, your expectations cannot be too high. Children are going to let you down when they don't meet the expectations that you had for them. Mr. McClung says to work with the mistakes that happen wether those are your mistakes or a student's mistake. All of this information is so valuable for beginning teachers. I know when my first year of teaching comes, I'll be re-reading this post to make sure that I am on track.

Version 4 of Mr. McClung's posts was also very valuable. He reiterates some of the facts stated in Version 2 and Version 3 of his reflective posts. Staying true to yourself and who you are as a teacher and the desire to challenge yourself are two great pieces of knowledge that he shares. I loved Mr. McClung's one rule: "are the kids having fun". I believe that sometimes we get consumed with what we think has to be discussed in lessons and what we are "supposed" to teach that we miss some "teachable moments". Ms. Wilson, the 4th grade teacher that I am currently observing always tells me to embrace those times. If an outsider walked into her classroom they would see kids around the room and would, most likely, think that her class was in chaos. Realistically, she is embracing every child's specific needs while still being an outstanding teacher to the class. I've learned so much from her in the short months that I've been in her class. She and Mr. McClung believe in reading the crowd and being flexible. Of course, we have to stay on track but most of the time we have to go with the flow of our students. It's difficult to do this while keeping the focus but I think it's so valuable to students to know that their teacher really is concerned about them.
keep calm and pretend this is on the lesson plan

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog Post #8

Richard Miller: This Is How We Dream

Mr. Miller raised several thought provoking points in his videos, This Is How We Dream, parts 1 and 2. I thought his ideas were very similar to those that Dr. Strange encourages us to think upon and to consider incorporating into our future classrooms. Although EDM 310 has opened my eyes and given me a whole new appreciation for technology, I did find Mr. Miller's videos to be a bit difficult to understand; this is most likely because technology is so advanced that we can't fully wrap our minds around it. Mr. Miller even said so himself when he stated, "The kind of composing that lies ahead is only one I can point to." However, I think it is fantastic to be aware and mindful of the future of technology and what we can do with technology today.

Since the beginnings of the school, teachers have had the biggest influence on children. Everything in the classroom, as Mr. Miller mentioned, revolved around books, pencils, and paper. I'll be the first to say that I do not believe technology can replace everything, and I do not think that I am wrong for thinking that way. However, it is clear that technology is becoming more dominant than standard paper and pencil. YouTube, iBooks, Smartboards, iPads, and Kindles are being used every day in classrooms around the world. I have a niece and nephew who are encouraged to bring their Kindles to school, only for academic use, of course. It is not hard to imagine a world prevalent with web-based learning systems and paperless books. Mr. Miller eloquently describes incremental and fundamental changes in technology and how it benefits the world that we live in. It is so very important for teachers to be mindful and knowledgable of the technology that could be useful in the classroom.

In Mr. Miller's videos, he describes incremental and fundamental changes taking place in technology today. He remarks on the use of laptops, word processing, messaging, collaborating without seeing one another, or researching without stepping foot in a library; these are all incremental changes. Fundamental changes are what comes from these incremental changes. Although I find it difficult to fathom, there are even newer technological advances to come. Mr Miller's quote, "Limits and restrictions are largely ones we place on ourselves," really stuck out to me. I've been guilty of limiting myself, even in EDM 310, when all the while, I could have soared if I would have allowed myself to step outside of the box. It is mandatory that teachers try new ideas and new concepts, especially in the aspect of technology.

writing in multi media cartoon
Carly Pugh's Blog Post #12

I was very impressed with Carly's blog post! Her zeal for education is contagious! In writing this blog post and creating an assignment that she thought Dr. Strange would assign, she went above and beyond. I was so impressed with how many different and valuable links she added and with the amount of effort put into her post. The idea of a playlist is a great tool for teachers to use in their classroom whether for educational purposes or sheer inspiration. I think I'll make mine!

Carly comes about as close as possible to Dr. Miller's hopes for writing with multi-media. Writing with multi-media isn't simply a paper written with word processor or completed with the use of the web, but instead implementing different technological outlets, in this case YouTube, to create something of value. I think using unexpected tools to write with multi-media is the whole purpose of what Dr. Miller explains. Carly does a great job of doing so! Her assignment was well thought out, extensive yet enjoyable, and she perfectly embodied Dr. Miller's idea of writing with multi-media. If he read her post, I think he would be proud!

The Chipper Series and EDM 310 For Dummies

I had already watched the videos The Chipper Series and EDM 310 for Dummies but when I re-watched, I found myself laughing again and again. Let me just say, I'd pay serious money for a copy of EDM 310 for Dummies! Really. In EDM 310, especially in the beginning, you do feel like a dummy and I, for certain, have gotten a little crazy. However, along the way, you find out that the class isn't as awful as you assumed it to be and that you learn valuable lessons as you go. When students watch the videos at the beginning of the semester they may be slightly frightened-I know I was-but when you watch the videos later on, they allow you to appreciate all of the hard work that you've put forth in EDM 310 and value everything that you have learned.

EDM 310 for Dummies
If I were to create a video, wether it be for EDM 310, or for some type of instruction, I'd love to incorporate music into it. I think music is a great tool that can be used widely in education. You have to admit, after you hear a catchy tune a few times, it's hard to get it out of your head. It's also something that has virtually no technological boundaries. There are so many ways to technologically incorporate music into videos, classroom instruction, even Smartboard lessons. There are no limits to what you can do with music, even as an educational tool.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

To me, this video reiterates what Dr. Strange teaches us in EDM 310. I will admit, at the beginning of the semester, I wasn't very willing to change. However, over the course of the semester with Dr. Strange pushing us and urging us out of our own comfort zones, we have learned so much that we probably would have never known of had we not taken the class. Even worse, we may have had to use technology that we wouldn't know how to use without the help of Dr. Strange and the EDM 310 lab staff.

There were many quotes in the video that stood out to me. One was made by a man that said we must, "accept that technology is not a choice." As educators, we are to equip our students with the knowledge that will benefit them out in the real world. One day our students will, more than likely, have a job that we've never imagined possible using technology that doesn't exist. It is a necessity, not an option, that teachers teach technology and use it generously in their classroom.

Another was made by a lady that said, "it's about providing the best quality teachers no matter where a student lives and making those bridges." I thought her quote really spoke to me. While in EDM 310 the question that I've asked myself the most is, "How will this affect my students?" I've also wondered how my students will have access to certain types of technology and I've come to realize that it isn't about having access to these tools, but teaching how resourceful they can be. It's my job, as the teacher, to bridge gaps between my students and their futures.

be the change

Scavenger Hunt


PollEverywhere is a great site for creating polls that you can use, answer, and see responses through the web and through text. I could definitely see myself using this tool in the future and possibly on my teacher blog to receive feedback from parents. Check out my first poll here!


Prezi, the tool used in this video, has great slide enhancing technology that would bring any classroom project or presentation to life. With very low rates, teachers and students have the ability to make their presentations extraordinary. The free "Edu Enjoy" plan offers Prezi's core features, along with 500 mb of storage space, the ability to make your presentations private, and the right to use your own logo if you so choose. For only $4.92, the "Edu Pro" plan offers all of the features of the "Edu Enjoy" plan while granting access to Prezi's premium support and Prezi Desktop, an offline tool. With these low rates and easy to use instructions there are no reasons for teachers to have boring presentations any longer. I would love to use Prezi for my future classroom!


Animoto is an internet video tool that allows users to upload video clips, photographs, music and a variety of other things and allows you to add effects and cinematic technology. Animoto also offers free Animoto Plus account for teachers and educators to use in the classroom. I think this would be a great tool to utilize in the future.

Monday, October 15, 2012

C4T #2


For my C4T #2 assignment, I was assigned to Frank Noschese's blog, Action-Reaction. Mr. Noschese is a high school Physics teacher at John Jay High School. In his blog he said that he believes that "students learn best when they are actively engaged in physics through activities such as reading, discussing, experimenting, and solving problems." From what I gathered, he is a very active teacher who is passionate about Physics and helping his students learn.

C4T #2 Comment 1

The first blog post that I read by Mr. Noschese was called, "VPython Screencasts". In this post, he tells about an assignment that he gave his students. They were to make a screencast, a virtual walk-through showing what is actually on screen, explaining their VPython programs. The students were to use Screencast-o-matic to explain the way that the VPhython program worked and its reasonings. Mr. Noschese said that he gave this assignment not only to help students learn how and why something works the way that it does, but also to give himself insight as to who was lagging behind and who was excelling in this area of subject.

In my comment, I introduced myself as a student at the University of South Alabama and complimented Mr. Noschese on his blog post. I said that I thought his idea of using screencasts as a learning tool was a great idea. I also mentioned that not only did the students' creation of screencasts help him know who was behind and who was ahead, but it also taught the students a useful technology skill and also a communication skill.

C4T #2 Comment 2

For this week, Mr. Noschese hadn't posted anything recently, so I went back to the most recent post prior to the last one I had commented on. Entitled Metacognition Curriculum , this post was a basic outline of the curriculum that Mr. Noschese was teaching his students. He said that he was attempting to introduce his students to metacognitive processes and the fact that our brains can grow neurons as we age. He taught that intellectually stimulating environments and activities can work to make learning easier.

His curriculum consisted of an in-class survey simply asking student opinions on certain, science/metacognitive topics. They're answers could range from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Also, he provided the class with a packet consisting of articles, an infographic, and a final questionnaire. Also he showed a video and afterwards had students answer questions in groups on white boards. They were to write one thing that they learned, one thing that they were surprised to find out and one question that they still had after watching the video.

In my comment, I expressed to Mr. Noschese that, even though metacognitive processes weren't my area of study, I did appreciate his style of teaching. I love his student centered approach and the fact that he teaches his students in a hands-on manner. I think the best way to teach students is through experience. I expressed my appreciation to Mr. Noschese in my comment. I liked reading his posts for C4T #2; even though I am not planning to teach older children, his style and zeal for teaching is inspiring.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blog Post #7

The Networked Student

When I watched The Networked Student for Blog Post #7 assignment I tried my hardest to keep an open mind. Last week I received an eye opening comment from Dr. Strange regarding Blog Post #5. At first, my defensive, perfectionist side came out and thought, "Does he know how long it took me to complete this post?", "Why is Dr. Strange calling me out?", "All I did was state my opinion; why is that so bad?" Then I realized, "Taylor, he is helping you!" So with this assignment, I was sure that I wasn't going take Dr. Strange's comment lightly and that I would keep an open mind when completing future assignments. Now, let me say that I have always considered myself open-minded and have always been willing to try new things. However, after receiving Dr. Strange's comment, I realized that I wasn't taking the whole "tech literate" teacher thing seriously. It wasn't that I was afraid of creating a podcast, or publishing something in iBooks, or any of the other tech savvy projects that Dr. Strange assigns, but that I wasn't willing to step out of my comfort zone and take the plunge.

the networked student
After watching and re-watching The Networked Student, I could not help but think of my college career today. Most of my classes involve some sort of internet component and some are even completely online. EDM 310, especially, resembles the set-up of the high school class referred to in the video with the teacher acting as a guide to help students communicate and find good information to help them on their intellectual journey. I probably see Dr. Strange, face-to-face, less than any of my other teachers, yet I feel more connected to him than I do the others because he is always willing to help and has no problem communicating with students. No, I'm not trying to get on his "good-side", but he has honestly made me sit back and think about what I am doing and the path that I am going to take. It is so important for 21st century teachers to be "tech literate" and I definitely do not want to be left behind.

The theory of connectivism, the idea that learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties, is a great idea that enables students to become self-motivated learners while still receiving guidance from a teacher when needed. I think this is so very important, especially in high school grades, because they leave with a better idea of what college will be like. The question, "Why does the networked student even need a teacher?" is, to me, very easy to answer. I think of myself and my classmates in EDM 310 as "networked students", yet without the guidance of Dr. Strange and the assistants, we would all probably be lost. A teacher in a networked class is there for assistance and the extra push that we all need somewhere down the road. I know I have learned more in EDM 310 than I have in any other class and it's because the work is hands-on and we have a teacher who has taught us skills that most of us would have never been knowledgable of before. I am positive that the use of technology in the classroom is inevitable and extremely beneficial to the future of our students.

Even though I think the concept of connectivism and the networked student is a great idea, while I was watching the video I did have one concern that has generally been my concern with several concepts this semester. "How would this work for lower elementary age children?" My dream is to have a classroom full of crayons and glue while teaching children the joys of getting lost in a book and learning how to use math in everyday life. These skills, although simple, are very important. I think kids should be allowed to just be kids and I do not believe that there is anything wrong with that! With that being said, I know that technology is becoming more and more powerful in society and we must keep up with its changes.

Now I think I have answered my own question of "how would the "networked student" concept work for lower elementary age children?". The answer is to modify the material to meet the intellectual capabilities of these students and offer more assistance from the teacher than you would for a high-school aged class while still allowing students to learn on their own. For example, a class blog instead of individual student blogs while still allowing students to post to the class blog if they desire. Another is a class Twitter instead of individual accounts. This would allow students to connect with people from around the world, yet cut out some of the pressure that may come with an individual account. I love the idea of a student-centered class where the students learn from experience and bring prior knowledge into the classroom. I do not think that children are ever to young to become independent learners and creating them to be "networked students" is a great way of guiding in that direction.

A 7th Graders Personal Learning Environment

A PLE, or PLN is something that I can definitely appreciate! I feel so much more peaceful about my work when it is all organized and a PLN keeps documents, websites, and other internet tools all in one spot. I think the 7th grader's PLN in the video is much more complex than mine is, but I'm sure after EDM 310 my PLN will be very effective and something that I plan to utilize throughout my career.

The statement made by the 7th grader, "I really like learning this way because we get more freedom," doesn't necessarily pertain only to a PLN, but to the concept of the "networked student." This statement really made me dig deep and think about the effect of networking on the student more so than on myself. Children desire to have freedom. Most children that have no freedom rebel, so I'm a firm believer in trusting children and allowing them to have freedom. Learning is no different. Allowing students to freely complete their assignments could easily result in more work being completed and possessing better quality. Another reason I appreciate and plan to use PLN's in the future is because they allow teachers to see their students' work all in one spot. Instead of mounds upon mounds of papers to grade, with a PLN papers can be viewed and graded online instead of as a hard copy. I love the PLN for many reasons, these just being a few, and I look forward to using this tool in the future!

the connected student

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blog Post #6

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

The Randy Pausch videos assigned in EDM 310 have, quite possibly, been the most influential assignments, to me, so far. I love Dr. Pausch's zeal for life and his effort to be inspirational. He is a man with every reason to be down or upset, yet he focuses on the positive things in life and reaches out and encourages others to do the same. I believe that if we all took a glimpse at Dr. Pausch's life and aspired to develop at least one of his good qualities then the world may look a little brighter. In his last lecture, Dr. Pausch displayed his positivity and courage even as he reached the end of his ever-meaningful life.

Randy Pausch, being the brilliant man that he was, accomplished so much in his life. From being a renowned professor to a Disney Imagineer, he achieved goals that many of us could never dream of. We could easily feel sympathy towards Dr. Pausch, seeing that he was sick, however, I don't believe that he wanted people to feel pity for him. He was a firm believer in living life to it's fullest potential and stretching its boundaries. In watching Dr. Pausch's last lecture and the previous lectures assigned, I have gained a new outlook on life. I've always thought that I was a positive person, and I still believe that I am, but I haven't always been willing to push the envelope. As teachers, we can gain a great deal from listening to and receiving Dr. Pausch's words of wisdom. It is so important as we gain our own classrooms to be positive and encouraging to our students and to keep our minds open just as he encourages others to do.

Dr. Pausch, a seasoned professor, stressed the importance of pushing your students. He said that he was teaching once and realized all of his students were meeting requirements but were not excelling as he would have liked. He then asked a mentor for help and his mentor said, in essence, instead of raising the bar, do not set a bar. This is so true! If you give students a bar, most will rise to it, but will not always go above and beyond. I think, in my future classroom, I will encourage students to step outside of the box. There is always room for greater, always another star to shoot for. Like Dr. Pausch, I do not believe that we can discourage that!

Another point that Dr. Pausch made that I found to be quite simple, yet profound, is the concept of the "head fake". The "head fake" is the notion of indirect learning and Dr. Pausch says that most learning is, in fact, indirect. I, honestly, had never really pondered on indirect learning but Dr. Pausch so eloquently encourages the "head fake" as does Dr. Strange. Both of these men believe in giving assignments that emphasize stepping outside of our own personal boundaries and they push their students to do their best even if it is a little uncomfortable. Dr. Pausch's quote, "Brick walls are there for a reason; they let us prove how badly we want things," is so true. Sometimes as students, as teachers in the future, or even in everyday life, we will face "brick walls". Overcoming these walls will only make us stronger. My favorite quote is, "Always shoot for the stars; even if you miss you will land among the clouds." This isn't a quote from Dr. Pausch, to my knowledge at least, but I believe that it does correspond with Dr. Pausch's ideas. Aiming high has two outcomes: you can achieve your goals, or you can learn something along the way. I believe that I will try my best to encourage my students based on the notion of the "head fake" when they believe that they have failed. There is always something good that can come when you look at things positively and I believe children should be taught this at a young age.

I do think that I could go on and on when writing about Dr. Pausch; I find him to be fascinating! I can only imagine how his own students felt about him. Even though there are many, many things we can take from Dr. Pausch, what I gained most from him is to simply be the best "you" that you can be. He says that we choose to be a "Tigger or an Eeyore" meaning that we choose to be happy, bouncy, and fun, like Tigger, or we could be mopey and down-in-the-dumps like Eeyore. I want my peers, coworkers, family, and especially my students to see me as a Tigger. Just a few of the lessons that Dr. Pausch says that he learned throughout life are:

"Have FUN"
"Help others"
"Don't bail"
"Do the right thing"
"Don't complain; just work harder" and
"Find the best in everyone"

I think that if we do these things and live by Dr. Pausch's words as rules and guidelines to life and teaching then we have no reason to fail. Always be encouraging and uplifting to your students and watch how they blossom. Push students to aim higher. Dr. Pausch himself said, "One of the best gifts and educator can give is to get someone to be reflective." I know I will try my hardest to push students to learn on their own and to reflect on their own hard work. Dr. Pausch's aspiring life and words of profound, yet simple, wisdom would make us all better teachers, better students, better parents, and ultimately better people.

Monday, October 1, 2012

C4K Summary for September

Hannah's Blog

The first C4K that I was assigned to was a blog called Hannah's Hacienda written by a child in Ms. Yollis's class. Hannah's most recent blog post was a bout a horseback riding trip that she took with her Girl Scout troop. The trip was through the hills of the Santa Monica mountains and instead of the girls picking their horses, the horses chose their riders. Hannah said that the guides told the girls that if a horse paid attention to them or made eye contact with them then the horse wanted them as its rider. The first horse, named Gambler, chose Hannah right away and off through the mountains their troop rode.

I started my comment by introducing myself, telling Hannah my purpose for commenting on her blog and then complimenting her on her great use of bright, eye catching colors and her quality blog post. I told Hannah that I also liked horses but had never rode horseback. I think I would probably be a big chicken, so I told Hannah that in my comment and concluded by asking her if she was afraid the first time she rode a horse.

Broneq's Blog

The next C4K that I was assigned to was the blog of a Year 5 student named Broneq at PT England School in Auckland, New Zealand. Broneq's most recent post was about the Olympics. Even though his grammar was not the greatest, Broneq was enthusiastic in his post and it was evident that he was really interested in the Olympics. He told what he thought the Olympics were about said that "you have to run to win a medal."

I started by telling him where I was from and that I enjoyed reading his blog post. I asked him if he had ever watched the Olumpics on television and I also asked what sports he was interested in playing. I concluded my comment by stating, "I wonder if those sports are played in the Olympics."

blog word art