Thursday, November 29, 2012

Final Project 16

Our group chose to complete a "Dear Abby" style video. The concept was to generate questions that may be commonly asked by an EDM 310 student and also to compose some ridiculous, funny questions. "Agnes" takes the place of "Abby" as an advice columnist to offer help to EDM 310 students. Although we may not be master video editors, we had so much fun creating our movie!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Final Report on PLN

screenshot of PLN
I love my PLN!

Over the course of the semester, I've built up a great Personal Learning Network through Symbaloo by adding websites and blogs that I have acquired knowledge of over the course of a few months. As I mentioned in my PLN Progress Report earlier in the semester, I love the idea of a PLN. I love that all of my "favorites" are in one place and that I can access them at any time I want. Over the last few weeks, my PLN has become so important to me. Almost every time I have an assignment, I go straight to my PLN to brainstorm and gather ideas. Since posting my PLN Progress Report, I've added even more websites that I have either learned about in EDM310, through other classes, or in my own personal browsing. In particular, I like to visit First Grader...At Last and have also added Discovery Education and National Geographic Kids for fun assignments. Recently, I discovered exciting tools to use in the classroom like Blabberize and Story Bird.

To me, my PLN is more than just an assignment for EDM310. Well, a lot of EDM310 assignments are more, to me, than just assignments. They are valuable learning tools that I will carry with me throughout my career. I'm extremely excited to see how my PLN will grow and what fun and innovative things I can add to it after I am finished with EDM310. I'm sure I will soon run out of room!

C4T #4 Education Rethink

Education Rethink

John Spencer
For C4K #4, I was assigned to the blog of Mr. John Spencer, titled Education Rethink. The most recent post from Mr. Spencer's blog was an interview with Nikhil Goyal. Mr. Goyal is an advocate for the student voice and is working to better education reform. He recently wrote a book, One Size Fits All, where he addresses issues with education and also mentions some solutions that could impact schools. In the interview, Mr. Goyal says that his motivation for writing the book was to demonstrate that the solution to education problems could be solved by putting forth the effort to see the perspective of the student. This is completely true. Like Mr. Goyal says later in the interview, we should make our schools real life; we should view what we teach from the perspective of the student. Are they following what I am teaching? Will the material that I am teaching apply to their lives? If it doesn't then we have only spat out information that will not stick with our students. Another excellent point that Mr. Goyal makes is that children are natural learners. He says that every human has some form of natural curiosity and internal creativity that teachers should hone in on.

In my comment to Mr. Spencer, I introduced myself as a student in Dr. Strange's class at the University of South Alabama. I also told Mr. Spencer that I appreciated his interview with Mr. Goyal and also Mr. Goyal's stance on education reform.

The second post from Mr. Spencer's blog was titled, "Schools Aren't Prisons". In this particular post, Mr. Spencer addressed school reformists who often associate schools with prisons. He states that he has heard arguments regarding why schools are evil and why teachers want to take students' dreams and that these arguments aren't necessarily true. Mr. Spencer says that he can see why students would view schools as a prison. Some have awful experiences and are given little to no choice in the classroom. However, he says that if we relate schools to prisons, we may also view homes as prisons and other structures and fates that we cannot change. Mr. Spencer argues that lack of choice does not exactly mean that children are being abused. I especially liked his statement, "Part of being in a community is adhering to the laws chosen.

In my comment regarding this particular post, I thanked Mr. Spencer for sharing his opinion. I told him that I could also see how children would view schools as prisons and that, as teachers, we must work to provide students with a choice and to allow their voices to be heard. Only then will learning flourish. In conclusion, I said that even though I could understand a child's perspective, I wasn't sure how an adult could view a school as a prison, other than structurally. With that being said, it's the teacher's responsibility to allow students to move about freely, to work independently and with groups, and to engage in learning. If the teacher does so, then students will not feel as restricted.

I've enjoyed reading Mr. Spencer's post and have learned that I appreciate his stance on school reform and the student voice. Mr. Spencer is often sarcastic in his writing, yet it positive and believes that students and their learning experience should be at the center of the school. The posts that I have read have all been enlightening and I can say that I have learned something from each one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blog Post #13

Back To The Future

I highly enjoyed watching Mr. Crosby's video, Back To The Future, which showcases several projects that his students have completed and how he implements technology into his classroom to bridge language and communication gaps. The reason that I enjoyed Mr. Crosby's video was because I have developed such an appreciation for the wonders of technology in the classroom over the course of my EDM 310 career. Mr. Crosby's zeal for teaching at risk, second language learners through technology has shown me that, even in the most difficult cases, technology can be used to allow students to reach the highest of potentials.

back to the future logo

Now that the end of the semester is approaching, I feel like I can really use technology in my classroom in many ways. At first, I was skeptical of the use of technology in my classroom because, quite frankly, I wasn't willing to try. By watching videos and reading posts assigned in EDM 310, I can now see that the implementation of technology is nothing to be afraid of! I can't wait to see how my future students will benefit from various tech tools and learn new ways of teaching with technology. Dr. Strange, now would be the appropriate time to say, "I told you so!"

Mr. Crosby is so inspirational to me because of his obvious care for the success of his students. Some teachers, if they were in Mr. Crosby's shoes, would do the minimal amount of work possible to make sure that their at risk, second language learning students passed the class. However, Mr. Crosby makes sure that all of his students learn reading, writing, and communication skills along with other various skills and he does so with the use of technology! By writing wikis, posting to blogs, and recording videos, Mr. Crosby's students learn not only the subject material but also communication skills that would, typically, be difficult for ESL learners. One more thing that stood out to me in the video was Mr. Crosby's effort to incorporate Celeste, a student with leukemia who was unable to come to class into his every day classroom routine. Mr. Crosby went above and beyond to video in Celeste so that she could see what was going on in class and complete the assignments just as her other classmates were doing. Mr. Crosby's class is a perfect example of how technology, along with a dedicated teacher, can greatly affect the outcome of students' success.

A Vision of Students Today

The video by Michael Wesch encompasses the idea of what it is to sit in a crowded classroom in a typical university. Many of the students provide facts regarding what their classroom is like and how they spend the majority of their time. Some of the scary, yet not so shocking, testaments included quotes such as, "18% of my teachers know my name," "my neighbor paid for class but never comes," and "this laptop costs more than some people in the world make in a year." I can relate all too well to this video. I have sat in many classes where I thought, "how will I use this material," and "what does it matter to me?" I have had many teachers that never knew my name nor cared to. Mr. Wesch's video shows what students really think about their learning experience.

Charlie Brown's teacher

As a future teacher it saddens me to think that classrooms today are full of students who feel as if their teacher doesn't care about their academic progress. I plan to teach elementary school, but even so, University professors should be concerned about their students' success. In today's growing society, it serves students no benefit to sit in a class and hear a lecture. Students today need to be engaged in what they are learning in order to produce greater rewards. However, it can be difficult to teach when students are on Facebook during class and some are not even showing up at all. At this point, it is the teacher or instructor's responsibility to realize that students will not participate in class if they are not engaged. Mr. Wesch's video should be viewed by all educators in hopes that they would see, from the students' point of view, what it is like to sit in an unengaged classroom. If teachers realized that a good number of students are interested in learning, I believe that teachers would be more willing to go above and beyond the minimal effort that some teachers give.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Progress Report on Final Project

My group, Kids R' Us, consists of myself, Victoria Kaplan, Alecia Baxter, and Shannon Watson. We communicate through e-mails, Google Docs, and texts. I have enjoyed getting to know these girls and know that they are all going to be great educators one day. For the most part, every project that we have completed has had 100% participation from each member. When first put into groups, I was worried that I would get a "bad" group, but I have to say that these girls have proven me wrong. I'm so thankful for them!

Our Final Project is coming along very well and I am very excited to see the finished result! We chose to do the short movie option and have decided on a "Dear Abby" style movie. Our video will consist of some common problems that students may face in EDM310 and also will be comprised of several silly questions to add a humorous touch. After each question is asked there will be an answer to each problem in order to help future EDM310 students. I am so excited to see the final outcome of this video. I know that, with the help of my group members, it will be great!

We have been communicating through Google Docs and have set up a script for our movie. We will record and finalize the week after Thanksgiving. I never thought I'd see the day, but we're almost there!

keep calm and make it to christams break quote

C4K Summary for November

Donavan's Blog

My first C4K, C4K #8, assigned in the month of November was to the blog of a 5th grader in Mr. Hagedorn's class named Donavan. His blog is called Donavan's Dynamite History Blog and is where he posts what he learns in Mr. Hagedorn's history class. The most recent post on Donavan's blog was called Johnny Appleseed. In this particular post, Donavan gave some facts about Johnny Appleseed whose real name was Johnny Chapman. From his post, I learned things about Johnny Appleseed that I didn't know. Since Donavan didn't say how Johnny got the last name Appleseed, I asked him why that was. Hopefully he will reply soon!

Alexander K.'s Blog

For C4K #9, I was assigned to read and comment on the blog of a student named Alexander in Mr. Spicer's class over at School of Rock. Alexander's most recent post was titled October Reflection and, in this post, Alexander summarized a few of his favorite things that his class did in the month of October. He said, first and foremost, he loved October because of Halloween but also because his class completed lots of fun projects. He mentioned a video chat with another school, reading The One And Only Ivan, writing scary stories, and creating a 13 colonies project. I was very impressed with a certain project that Alexander mentioned in which his class watched a video about a boy named Caine. Caine created a video game out of a cardboard box, eventually created lots of arcade games from boxes and ultimately set up his boxes for people to play. For awhile, Caine didn't have any visitors until one day a man came to his arcade and urged lots of other people to come play in the arcade. After watching the video, Alexander and his classmates got into groups and created their own arcade games from cardboard boxes. I was very impressed with this idea along with Alexander's insight and writing skills.

In my comment to Alexander, I told him that I really enjoyed reading his October Reflection. He was a great writer and kept his reader entertained. I also mentioned that, since I am planning to be a teacher, I liked learning about his class's different projects and what they are doing in class. I concluded my comment by asking Alexander how he came up with the idea for his arcade game, which was to create a labyrinth.

Devin's Blog

I enjoyed seeing and reading Devin's Blog, especially because he was a student of Ms. Martin's. It was great to see the progress of a former EDM310 student and how she was using blogging in her classroom. For C4K #10, I read Devin's latest post was a reflection of the book Speak. I told Devin that I wasn't familiar with the book, but that from his reflection, I could tell that it may be something that I would be interested in. I concluded my comment by encouraging Devin on his blogging journey.

boy on computer clip art

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blog Post #12

For Blog Post #12, we were asked to create an assignment that we thought Dr. Strange could have assigned to us in our area of study. I have to admit, I was quite excited about this assignment, however, extremely indecisive. I was excited because, well, the teacher within me likes to create assignments. But, I was indecisive because I know that I've learned about so many wonderful tools in this class, yet, I really don't know all that much about other tech tools. So, I started doing some research. I didn't go to Google or Bing, but I did go to a website that I visit on a daily basis. Pinterest!

Now, I know that everyone and their grandmother has a Pinterest these days. I use mine for finding recipes, gathering images that make me laugh, inspirational quotes, and many other things. One of the things that I've been doing lately has been "pinning" ideas for my future classroom. I have a "board" called For Future Reference where I place things that I find on Pinterest that I believe I could use in my classroom. So, for this assignment, it was only natural to go straight to the source where I knew I could find something useful to use for this assignment. Boy, did I ever?! There are a million and one links to information regarding educational technology. I couldn't decide on just one! So, with that being said, I decided to complete this blog post by exploring the wonders of Pinterest.

The assignment is:

1. Go to Pinterest and create an account. If you already have a Pinterest account, then you are ahead!
2. Create a board and title it, "Educational Technology"
3. Search for pins containing educational tools, ways to keep your classroom organized using technology, tech activities for students, SMARTboard lessons, anything you think would be useful in your classroom and involves technology. Also, keep in mind your area of study.
4. Pin AT LEAST 5 pins. I'm sure you could find many more, but pin at least five.
5. Once you have pinned 5 or more pins, choose the 5 that you have chosen or your top 5 favorites and write, in a blog post, a brief description of each pin and how it would be useful in the classroom.

I completed the assignment. You can find my Educational Technology board here. The top 5 pins from my board that I chose were:

1. Skyping With Authors
This pin is to a post on the blog of Jen Maschari where she lists several ways you can Skype with authors. In this link, Ms. Maschari tells about how her students are Skyping with authors of some of the books that they read in class. I think Skyping with authors would be a great idea to use in the classroom. Not only does it implement technology but it also brings books to life. Skype sessions with authors allow students to see what it is like to write books, find out what the author's purpose is, and to interact with the text that they are reading. I also think this would make reading more fun when children find out that authors are real people and it may inspire children to want to write their own stories.

2. 50 Education Leaders Worth Following
This pin is a link to an article on Edudemic that lists 50 inspirational and thought provoking educational leaders on Twitter. As I was scrolling, I was pleased to find out that I am already following several of the leaders on the list! At first, I didn't really understand why Dr. Strange was such a firm believer in Twitter, but throughout the semester I have come to realize that Twitter is an excellent tool to share and receive information from. This particular article lists 50 of the most influential leaders in education that are on Twitter. I think it would benefit any teacher to be on Twitter and this is a great list to get started with.

3. Top 5 Tech Tools for the Elementary Classroom
Amy over at The Polka Dot Apple has listed her top 5 tech tools to use in the elementary classroom. I enjoyed reading her lists because she mentioned tech tools that I had never heard of before. Kerpoof and Zooburst are two tools that sound extremely fun to use and would be a great way to get students interested in technology. Both are similar in the sense that you use each to create fabulous drawings or stories, yet, Amy says that Zooburst is more user friendly. Along with Symbaloo, a website that I've come to love, she also mentions Live Binder. Live Binder, like Symbaloo, keeps resources organized and allows you to see other user's binders. Lastly, the tool that I think I would enjoy the most would be Class Pager. This allows parents to text a number to receive classroom updates via text message. All of Amy's suggestions would be great to use in the classroom!

4. Jeopardy Generator
The Jeopardy Generator is a game that can be altered to fit the topics that you are learning in your classroom. This could be displayed on a SMARTboard, allowing students to form teams and take turns answering questions and gaining points. As the creator of your own game, you could adjust how many points you want to give for certain questions as well. Easier questions could be worth less points while more challenging questions are worth more points. This is a great way for children to learn information while interacting with technology.

5. Newspaper Generator
The Newspaper Generator allows students to create their own stories to become generated to look like an actual newspaper article. This would be a fun way to get students interested in writing and to encourage young writers as well. When the newspaper article is generated, you are given an embed code. Students could post their article in their student blog. This would be ideal to use when learning about different types of writing or journalism.

Pinterest logo

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Blog Post #11

Kathy Cassidy: SuperTeacher


After watching Ms. Cassidy's video, Little Kids...Big Potential, and also the Skype interview with Ms. Cassidy, I feel like I can finally see how I can use the tools learned in EDM310 in my future classroom. Ms. Cassidy makes using technology in the classroom look so simple and easily accessible as well as beneficial for students. I was so impressed with her students as well as her own zeal for technology and its advantage in the classroom.

In Little Kids...Big Potential, Ms. Cassidy gives viewers a look into her classroom and an overview of the amazing ways that she uses technology with her students. She approaches everything that the internet has to offer, in terms of education, and utilizes it to its full potential in her classroom. In the video, you can see how her students use blogs as an online portfolio of their work. Not only can Ms. Cassidy see their work, but readers from across the globe can access their blogs and leave comments. Her students say that they love to receive comments from people and not only do they gain communication skills but also their writing improves as they post to their blog. Students also have a webpage that they can access either at home or at school to find useful tools on the internet, to catch up on work, or to learn about something new. They also make use of wikis and are able to ask questions to people around the world in order to learn more about a certain topic. Ms. Cassidy's students make videos about what they learn and can post them to their blog and they also use Skype in order to talk to people in different places. Another technology that they use is the Nintendo DS. Yes, they use a Nintendo in class; it's for educational games of course! By using the DS they become better problem solvers and learn to share. Oh yea. Did I mention she does this with 1st graders? Talk about impressive!

The Skype interview with Ms. Cassidy answered a lot of the questions I had regarding technology in the elementary classroom setting. I've always been concerned with how I would protect my students but Ms. Cassidy says that she does so by keeping their last names private, by not putting children's names with a picture, and also by acquiring parental consent for children's work to be put on the internet. She said that parents were generally in favor of blogs and other technology because it allowed them to be able to view their child's work without scheduling a meeting. Another concern that I've had has been if my students would be able to use these tools or not. Of course, now I know that Ms. Cassidy teaches 1st grade, telling me that they are very capable of using the internet and other various technologies. Ms. Cassidy urges us to modify our material to fit the capabilities of our students. I have definitely noticed that children now seem to be born with the ability to work any device they are handed. Technology is not foreign to them and they are excited to use it in learning.

After watching Ms. Cassidy's video and the Skype interview, I can definitely see my vision for the use of technology in my classroom. I've wanted my own teacher blog for quite some time, but I believe that I will definitely utilize student blogs as well. It benefits students greatly to be exposed to the world of blogging and also exposes them to the world outside of the classroom. If a parent or administrator had a problem with this, I would try my best to show them the benefits of blogging. I could even show them Ms. Cassidy's class as an example. I also plan on showing my students how to create a PLN and allowing them to create their own. This would be a great way to organize their work as well as show their parents what they are working on. Also, I'd be in favor of creating a webpage for my student to access important information, to learn new things, and to catch up on their work just as Ms. Cassidy does. I may incorporate this in reading centers or during time in the computer lab. I plan to utilize all of the tools that Ms. Cassidy's class uses in my future classroom in some way or another. As Ms. Cassidy said, we are handicapping our students and ourselves if we do not use technology in our classroom. I'm now excited to implement technology into my classroom for the benefit of the future of my students.

Special Blog Assignment

"A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind"

In a recent USA Today article titled "A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind", Mary Beth Merklein sits down with Sebastian Thrun to discuss the future of education. Thrun, a Google VP and professor at Sanford University, recently founded Udacity, a company that provides free, innovative, on-line courses to students who, while using the program, are allowed to work at their own pace. In this article, Thrun says that he imagines learning to be free and available to all, while offering a fun way to learn. Thrun also comments on his work with his recent artificial-intellegence course that drew a mass of students from around the world. He says that this experience was so life-changing that he cannot imagine himself in a traditional classroom any longer.

When describing how Udacity is created, Merklein says that producers work to create special effects and to capture shots of lessons drawn on whiteboards while staff members design and assemble courses. One course that the article points out is called Making Math Matter where students can complete a multitude of various game-style activities.

In regards to the future of education, Thrun says that he doesn't know where it will go, but that technology allows educators to better equip their students and also allows teachers to create more advanced curriculum. As far as his vision of online classes goes, grades will not exist, paces will be self-set, one class could enroll thousands of students, and instruction would be free. Thrun also believes that this would never end "brick-and-mortar" schools but would, instead, broaden schooling options to people around the world.

In the closing of the article, Merklein summarizes Thruns comparison of the evolution of stage theatre to that of big-screen movies along with traditional schools' hopeful evolution to grade-free, paper-free, technologically advanced classes. Eloquently said in the article, "Just as film enabled people all over the world to access movies, the Internet will democratize education."

report card

As a preservice teacher, after reading and re-reading this article and after thinking in terms of the future of students and of education, I have to say that I have mixed emotions regarding the author's arguments. At first glance, the notion of an education that is free, fun, and self-paced seems great. The idea that there will be no grades could, for some students, be wonderful. Some students are majorly affected by their grades. They worry more about what grade they will receive on a test rather than what they are actually learning and comprehending. Also, a "grade-less" classroom would allow students to learn to honestly reflect on their own work, how they think they've done and how much they understand. In my opinion, the idea of "no grades" wouldn't necessarily be a bad one.

Also, the fun, interactive curriculum could definitely work well for students. Many individuals learn and understand better if they can see a problem and a resolution actually solved using games or by interacting with their work. On another note, this concept could work for any age group. The games and activities would need to be catered to the age and intellectual capacity of the student while remaining challenging and producing end rewards. I believe that interactive curriculum is the best way to allow students to grasp what they are learning. This aspect, along with a "grade-less" classroom seems like a wonderful, innovative, and exciting idea to me.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely fond of a classroom without teacher/student interaction. Since the article only says that these classes would be "...taught by star professors," I'm not exactly sure how much interaction there would be between the teacher and the student. Granted, in college, teacher/student interaction is kept to a minimum. However, I have to look at this article personally and say that, since I will teach grade school age children, I'm not certain that little to no teacher/student interaction would be a great idea. In many education courses, professors encourage us to form relationships with our future students and, in my opinion, the programs outlined in the article take that relationship away. Again, this is personal. I'm aware that Mr. Thrun's students are of college age.

Even though I'm not 100 percent in favor of the idea of a grade-less classroom or Mr. Thrun's programs, the article does mention the efforts of Sal Kahn, whose "flipped classroom" I am very fond of. Quite possibly, the flipped classroom could be mingled with some of Mr. Thrun's policies to create an effective, working elementary classroom. Once again, as a preservice elementary teacher, I am in favor of several of Mr. Thrun's ideas outlined in the article and I believe they are wonderful ideas however, some I am not exactly sure of. That being said, I would love to learn more about Udacity and Mr. Thrun's programs in order to gain a better understanding of how these programs could work in a classroom.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

C4K Summary for October

Shane's Blog

Shane's latest post was titled, "Quality Of Life As A Grade Nine At P.W.A." Shane is a 9th grader at Peace Wapiti Academy in Canada. In this post, Shane described what his school was like. He said that the environment was safe and secure and that there were lots of good teachers and staff at his school. He also complimented the school's required gym time and said that he thought that it was a good idea so that students have more opportunity to be healthy. He concluded by asking the question, "What is your personal opinion about P.W.A.?" In my comment, I told Shane that I have never visited his school but that after reading his post I could tell that it was a good school to attend.

The Age of Exploration Blog

For C4K #4, I was assigned post #4 of the blog, The Age of Exploration. This blog is a compilation of posts from a 10th grade Modern World History Class taught by Mr. Mike Gwaltney at Oregon Episcopal School. Post #4 was written by a student, called themcpatrick (I couldn't find his actual name-I'm guessing it was Patrick.) entitled Group Work. This post, written by a 10th grader, was excellently written and even provided information that I would use with my students and even for myself.

He started by mentioning how group work can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes we deal with assertive personalities and sometimes students simply do not want to contribute their part. Other times you feel like you are doing all of the work while in some groups you remain shy. Either way, group work can be stressful if not done properly. In this post, themcpatrick created a list of guidelines to use in order to make group work more manageable. He says to start with a plan; just so you know what you're doing. Then he says to spend a reasonable amount of time doing research but not too much time and to make jobs that may take longer into individual assignments in order to break them down. In regards to personalities, he says to try not to change someone's personality, just work with what you have and to find a compromise. He also mentions making decisions, not always as a group, but as an indiviual. If the group doesn't like it, it can always be changed if needed. Also, he says not to focus too much on appearance; make it neat and presentable but not a piece of art. Lastly, he says to communicate, communicate, communicate!

I commented and told the author of the post that I enjoyed his idea and that I would use his guidelines in the future. I thought they were very helpful and very impressive for a 10th grade student.

Hannah's Blog

For C4K #5, I was assigned to a student in Mrs. Middleton's Class, named Hannah. The most recent post in Hannah's Blog centered around the topic of bullying. Admittedly, I first posted on Hannah's "About Me" because I overlooked the tab labeled "Journal" where blog posts were kept. I went back and posted on Hannah's most recent blog post to correct my mistake. Ooops!

Hannah posted on the topic of bullying after watching a video about a boy who was bullied in school. The child, a 7th grader, had been made fun of since he was in first grade and had been cutting himself and contemplating suicide for quite a while. Hannah summarized the video by saying that the boy made a video confronting his bullies and posted it on the internet. This way, he stood up to his bullies and also let his friends and family know what was going on in school. He said that after the video was posted he felt that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. In her blog post, Hannah advocated taking a stand against bullying. She suggested to other students to tell a friend, teacher, or parent if they are ever feeling bullied. I was very impressed with her writing and thought she had a wonderful topic choice.

Macy's Blog

For C4K #6, I was assigned to Macy's blog, a student in Mrs. Peterson's 7th grade class. In her most recent blog post titled, "Outsiders Characterization: Darry" Macy wrote a description of the character, Darry, and his personality traits. She did so by pointing to his actions, his speech, and the author's description of the character.

In my comment I introduced myself to Macy telling her where I was from and that I was a college student at USA. I told her that I appreciated the hard work that was evident in her post and that her post was well written and very informative. She did a wonderful job for a 7th grader and I was very impressed. I told her that I, too, had read the book The Outsiders as a kid and asked if she liked the book and if she learned any valuable lessons from it.

Comments 4 Kids

Special Edition C4K

For C4K #7, we were to comment on Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli's blog Eyes on Ireland. This blog documents their travels to Ireland to attend the Ireland International Conference on Education. I was assigned to comment on the blog post titled, "The Potato Fest Has Begun". I love reading about people's travels so I read the rest of the blog posts as well. I was so intrigued by their trip and found myself wishing I was there, too! In my comment, I told them to continue to have a wonderful trip, encouraged them to try lots of new Irish cuisine, to see many new sights, and to have a safe trip home.

C4T #3

21 Century Classroom: The Amaryllis

red amaryllis
This month I was assigned to the blog of Ms. Heidi Siwak, an award-winning, inspiring teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ms. Siwak's students undertake all original projects involving technology and host the world's first student-led global Twitter chat on Hana's Suitcase. She says that her blog is "where I document our learning." I fell in love with Ms. Siwak's approach to learning and found her to be very inspirational.

Post #1

The most recent post on The Amaryllis was a guest post composed by Ms. Siwak's sister, Karen Siwak, regarding their father and the one prior was a compilation of photographs of Ms. Siwak's father. The post prior to the photographs was not about technology in the classroom or innovative learning but entitled, "One of My Greatest Teachers is Reaching the End of the Line" it was about her father, who was, in fact, reaching the end of his line. He had suffered for a while and believed that it was his time, so in his memory, Ms. Siwak bravely wrote about her dad.

Cliche, I know, but as I began to read this post, I sat at my computer and cried thinking about the teacher that my grandpa, the only father I've really known, has been to me. Ms. Siwak's father and my grandpa seem to be one in the same. Both hard workers, paid for everything with cash, self-taught, and would give anything to anyone that needed it. She expressed that she used to think he would do things just to make her mad, and often times I've thought that of my grandpa; now I know that it's because we posses such similar personalities. I feel like I could have scrolled down the page and gained a wealth of knowledge on teaching with technology or on critical thinking but instead, I just thanked her for sharing the story of her father. Sometimes our greatest teachers are not our school teachers but simply people that teach from their hearts.

Post #2

The second post in Ms. Siwak's blog that I commented on was titled, "Teach Kids the 'Game' of University Early". This post was written by Ms. Siwak in regards to her second daughter starting college soon and after a visit to a few universities. In Canada, they use a system of "marks" that I'm not entirely familiar with; from what I gathered, "marks" are similar to our grades. Marks given in 12th grade reflect highly when applying for college and a higher mark in a regular class is better than a low mark in an IB class. Ms. Siwak says that it would be beneficial for students to determine if the curriculum and hard work involved in an IB program would be worth the effort if IB was not recognized over regular high school classes. She also said that it may be beneficial for students to begin exploring their options earlier as opposed to waiting until the 12th grade.

I commented by saying that I agree that students should be guided earlier in secondary school in regards to college careers and life after high school. I explained that, had I not known what I wanted to do, my high school probably wouldn't have prepared me enough to make my decision. Earlier school observations and open houses would allow for better, more thorough planning as opposed to quick, spur-of-the-moment decisions being made.

Summary: The Amaryllis

I really enjoyed reading Ms. Siwak's blog more so than any others that I have read in EDM 310. She seems to be on top of technological advances and their uses in the classroom, while being informed and in touch with her students. Although I don't know that much about her, she seems like the type of teacher that I aspire to be. I want to be a teacher that is in-the-know, informed, and one that embraces technology and its benefits while still having a relationship with my students.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blog Post #10

Papermate vs. Ticonderoga

John T. Spencer cartoon

Mr. Spencer's cartoon, posted in his blog "Adventures in Pencil Integration" is a mock of the "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC" campaign. I'm almost sure I understand the comic, but there may be an underlying meaning. Then again, I could be completely over-thinking the concept. This comic refers to a Papermate as cheaper, yet it breaks all the time. The Ticonderoga is a more expensive pencil and "the most expensive purchase a hipster will ever make." To me, a "hipster" refers to someone who often tries to swim against the current, not cautiously examining their decisions but simply trying to be different. The Papermate is "mainstream" and boring. I think you could tie this comparison in with technologically advanced teaching and "mainstream" education. Teaching with technology may be advanced, it may be more expensive, and it may be more work, but you and your students will benefit more from taking the road less traveled.

Adventures in Pencil Integration

The posts in Mr. Spencer's blog, Adventures in Pencil Integration, comprise a "satirical story" of an era in which common technology does not exist while going against the ideas of the "emerging, factory system of education." Mr. Spencer's posts can be difficult to understand if the reader is unsure of Mr. Spencer's objective. In my opinion, this is Mr. Spencer's way of critically examining common education and his effort to move towards 21st century education.

The post titled, Why Were Your Kids Playing Games is a dialogue between Tom Johnson, the main character, who, according to Mr. Spencer, "is searching for authentic learning" and the principal. In this posts, the principal receives word that Tom Johnson had been playing games in class rather that teaching. To Mr. Johnson, he was engaging his students, however, the principal was worried about meeting standards and believes that what Mr. Johnson is doing is a "stretch" from learning. The principal is focused on what the Drill and Skill Consulting Group (sounds a lot like "burp-back" education to me) thinks rather than the fact that Mr. Johnson wants to engage his students in learning.

To me, this scenario can be related to education today. Too often, teachers who are excited about learning and education get shut down because of local standards and dates, goals, etc., that have to be met. The principal in Mr. Spencer's Adventures in Pencil Integration could be compared with many principals today who are worried about how well their school will do on the next standardized test. In the case of Mr. Johnson, he, like many teachers, want to engage their students instead of drilling them with facts. However this is sometimes hard to do. Teachers must find a balance between what they have to teach and the methods that they want to go about doing so. At the end of this particular post, Mr. Johnson does just that. He incorporates what the principal told him to do with his own way of engaging his students. He called it "The Factory Game" which is what he was doing with his students to begin with.

I also read the latest post in Mr. Spencer's blog. It's title was "Remember Pencil Quests?". In this post, I wasn't completely sure if this was Tom Johnson speaking or Mr. Spencer himself. I'm thinking it's Mr. Spencer speaking because of the content of the post. In the beginning he is recalling a time in his schooling when students were sent on a Pencil Quest. He remembers being extremely excited just to be doing something outside of the common classroom setting. Even though now we look back at Pencil Quests as being simple, at least Mr. Spencer's teacher was attempting to do something that was innovative at the time.

Mr. Spencer's closing comment to this post surely made me think about the future. He said he wonders what students in the future will "...consider to be quaint." I also feel like my students, when they are adults, will look back at SMARTboards and blogs and feel as if they are simple classroom techniques. However, being an innovative and progressive teacher is what is important.

Admittedly, it took me a while to understand Mr. Spencer's blog. However, after reading about the context, characters, and conflict of his story, I was surprised by his clever idea. I thought this blog, although hard to read at first, is an excellent critique of modern schooling. Mr. Spencer is a bright man!

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?

woman sticking out her tongue
Mr. Scott McLeod is the Director of Innovation at Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8 and is the founder of the UCEA Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). He also hosts the website, Dangerously Irrelevant as well as several others.

I enjoyed reading the post assigned by Dr. Strange. This was a sarcastic punch to technology illiterate parents and educators. By reading this post, I gathered that Mr. McLeod is definitely in favor of technology in the classroom and believes that children who are exposed to the wonders of technology will have a better advantage over those who are kept from it. When I wrote my comment on Mr. McLeod's post and as I read the comments of other students, I was slightly amazed that some students missed the point of this post. Mr. McLeod was, by no means, saying that he was opposed to technology. His poem was summarizing some of the ideas that technology illiterate people posses and eventually stating that if these people wanted to keep their children away from technology then that was fine. However, he knows that his students and the students of other teachers who use technology proficiently in the classroom will have an advantage over the others.

SMARTboard Instruction Project #14