Monday, May 6, 2013

C4K Summary for April

C4K #9

The first student for April is Jordan, a 4th grader from Nebraska. In this post, Jordan gives us a little description of Nebraska. Jordan tells us that the trees and birds in Nebraska make it like paradise except for the storms. Jordan also says that you can get many things and this is why people go to Nebraska. I told Jordan that Nebraska sounds beautiful. I also explained that I live somewhere that has a lot of storms too, and is the rainiest city in the country. I have never been to Nebraska before, and asked Jordan if they have ever travelled outside of the state before.

C4K #10 Jesse described their family trip to Apollo Bay for Easter. They described all of the activities that they took part in with their family. Jesse and their family put up their tent before they did some exploring of their campsite. When they arrived it was a beautiful, sunny day. On the second day, after a brief encounter with a European wasp, Jesse went to have some fun on the playground. On Wednesday, Jesse and family enjoyed a day at the pool and the beach, ended by dinner at a Pub with calamari and ice cream. Thursday, Jesse again enjoyed some time at the playground and the pool. Later they went shopping and to get ice cream before dinner. While Jesse's mom and dad began to pack up the next day. They went to spend some final time at the playground. Jesse completed their post by asking if others enjoyed camping and spending time at the pool. In my comment to Jesse, I explained that I really enjoyed reading about their adventures. I also told Jesse that we don't get a week off to celebrate Easter here. I informed Jesse that I have never been camping before, but I have always thought that it would be fun. I also described that while it was winter for Jesse, we were transitioning to summer in the US. In my final comments, I sadly expressed that it is still too chilly to enjoy our pools. Jesse and I have had the luxury of having a short conversation since my original comment.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Blog Post #15

Final Reflection At the beginning of the semester, we were asked a series of questions that would reflect our future classroom. The drive behind my classroom ideals originally came from the experiences I have had coaching an eighth grade volleyball team. I find no greater joy than seeing a group of people excel from the skills in which I have helped them obtain. In the beginning of the semester I had just decided that I wanted to follow a suppressed dream of being an educator. This being said, I had little to no clue what kind of teacher I saw myself being.

When I think back on all of the educators that I have learned from, I have always known that I wanted to be the teacher that every student was determined to take, but didn't take "shenanigans" from their students. I want to be the fun teacher, but at the same time one my students know is serious when it is necessary. The downside of this would be that most teachers want to fit this description. Some fail, while few may succeed. I want my students to be able to enjoy being in my classroom, and walk out every day learning something new.

When I wrote my very first blog post as a student in EDM 310, I was bound and determined on teaching grades 6 through 12 with a scientific concentration. Since then I have discovered that my true interest lies in teaching elementary education. I have always been a very creative person, and the majority of the experience I have had teaching and coaching has been around children in 5th grade or below. There is something about this age that I find will bring me the most happiness as an educator. I find that this level will allow me to express my creativity best while fulfilling my teaching dreams. It seems that there is a more open possibility to be creative with younger children.

Many of the tools that I have learned to use in this course have solidified my interest in being an elementary educator. Thanks to the few teachers I have had the pleasure of discovering through EDM 310 have shown me that I can incorporate technology no matter the grade I teach. I plan to allow my students to create podcasts and blogs in the classroom. I would also like to set up an online pen pal project with other classrooms around the world. I plan to combine a project based curriculum with a curriculum that combines technological methods and standard methods. Although I have jumped on the technology in classrooms bandwagon, I still want to keep some traditional education methods firm.

Since I plan on teaching such a young age, I am still trying to discover how to remove "burp-back" education.One of the most important skills I plan to teach, or at least begin, is critical thinking. This is not a skill that I have learned from EDM 310, but I have learned from being in college. Seeing the struggle that I still have with critical thinking at my age is not something I plan to let my students slip by without. I would like to create a certain time in my lessons that will slowly challenge my students to think outside of the box. If I can begin teaching this skill to young students, I feel that it may help them in later years.

As I have learned over the course of EDM 310, students are becoming accustomed to more frequent use of technology in their classrooms. It is my duty to take this growing standard and pushing it further. I must be able to combine this methods in a way that is effective. I truly cannot wait to take on this challenge. Children are curious, and becoming more increasingly so, and I plan to accept the challenge to provide a well rounded education wholeheartedly. The age of education in which I grew up is already much different than the one I see now. The possibilities to educate students to their utmost full potential is growing. I am becoming increasingly more eager to step foot into my first classroom, and be able to draw upon the skills I have learned in EDM 310, my creativity, and the creativity and curiosity of my students .

Project #13 Teamwork and Collaboration

After a few group alterations in the middle of the semester our group upgraded to the New Kids on the Block. I had the pleasure of working together with 2 pretty amazing future educators, Ashley and Daphney, to create a few projects together. We collaborated together for Project #15: SmartBoard Instruction Part 2 and Final Project #16. During the brainstorm process through the final product, we used various tools instructed by Dr. Strange over the semester. Daphney and Ashley used Google Docs to send some ideas for our projects and create a tentative schedule and outline. With this we were able to contribute with each other privately. We used Google Presentations to create our final lesson plan for our SmartBoard lesson. One of the biggest aids in communication amongst our group was using Gmail and group messages. We used these tools to keep up with each other to make sure we were staying on track to completing our projects in a timely manner. All of these tools were extremely helpful. Everything was able to done whenever it worked with our separate schedules. This allowed us to avoid trying to find a time that worked for everyone to meet in person. Our projects were completed with very little complication and plenty of communication. I have really enjoyed getting comfortable with all of these collaborative tools, and I am certain that I will be putting them to good use in the future.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

C4T #4

Google Drive Training Video
For this C4T, I took a look at Dr. Will's blog, Peoplegogy. The purpose of his blog is to enable people to improve their skills in digital media. He posts various articles with the purpose "to empower, educate, and lead discussions about how educators of all types are using digital media". In the first post that I read from Peoplegogy, Dr. Will posted a training video for Google Drive. When I commented on this post, I told him that I have recently become fairly familiar with Google Drive this semester in Dr. Strange's class. I expressed how much I enjoy using this because it allows people to share multiple items amongst each other.

Tanya Smith

In the second look into Dr. Will's blog, I read a post left by Tanya Smith for the 3 Best Practices for Coaches Using Social Media. Mrs. Smith accepted the request to write this article in an attempt to give an insight into a few tricks of the trade in incorporating social media into the business world. Mrs. Taylor expresses that although Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are available for use, we must be smart in using them as marketing purposes. In order to be successful with these outlets, you must engage yourself with your possible clientele as well as allow them to engage themselves in the products or services you offer. It is not merely posting these things on to these social media sites, but reaching out to your audience and allowing them to reach back to you. Furthermore, it is advised to use this social media in order to seek out the resources to effectively maintain the business. In response to Mrs. Taylor's article I had to express my interest in getting to read it. I explained that it is through social media that is the most recent form of reaching out and building a clientele. With it social media gives business entrepreneurs a way to explore each other and collaborate. We are provided with virtually any way to maintain an efficient business if we seek out the tools that are readily available.

Blog Post #14


In Dr. Streitfield's article, Teacher Knows if You Have Done the E-Reading, he describes a new software that is being implemented at Texas A&M in which the professors are able view the engagement of their students in the textbook. Professors are given the ability to view how often their students view the text, how long, what they highlight, and other tasks involving the text. One instructor, Adrian Guardia, has taken notice of the different responses given from students if scores are not satisfactory, as well as some possible confounding variables such as notes being taken on paper or other programs. Many responses regarding this new program, supported by some of the major publishers, like Pearson and Mcgraw-Hill, joke that it is the hand of "Big Brother". Institutions are in favor of this new technology. Texas A & M claims that if CourseSmart is offered to all courses, they will willingly accept the offer.

From a teacher's point of view, I find that although it still may be flawed, as is any new technology, CourseSmart could be beneficial to monitoring student interaction with the text. It causes students to be held accountable for their studies, or lack thereof. If they are not experiencing the results they desire, and cannot back up that they are doing the work in other forms if that is the claim, it could be a sort of insurance policy as to the effectiveness of the educator. Along those lines, CourseSmart can allow us to take a look into the interaction of the students and compare these "engagement indexes" with the exams in order to find any places that may require further explanation and attention if a class wide downward slope were to occur. It is not uncommon for students to try and place blame on something else for their lack of organization and dedication to their course. This program will be able to clear up some possible fibs similar to the already quoted "my dog ate my homework" excuse in most cases, especially if a parent became involved.

As a student, I am extremely iffy in regards to my feelings about CourseSmart. On one hand I find that it may be an incentive to ensure that I complete my reading assignments. If I know that someone is keeping track, especially if it were to affect my grade like teachers often use attendance, I will be more driven to read all assignments in a more timely manner. I am a student that benefits from having a set reading schedule, so to speak, that may be followed by an assignment reviewing the material. However, I feel that education has become too reliant on technology when it comes to assignments. I will learn more material if I am assigned a lesson that I must complete physically by hand rather than on a computer. As a college student, I have yet to be in a course that still applies this traditional way of teaching. On the other hand, since we are college students, I feel that we must also hold ourselves to a certain standard in regard to completing our work. We cannot expect our professors to hold our hands and lead us through our courses. This will only continue the dead end that is rote memorization. I continue to struggle with the concept of critical thinking because I was never taught this vital skill. Due to the fact that both sides of my opinion seem to clash with one another, I cannot come to a set conclusion about CourseSmart. It may be a technology that will always remain bittersweet.

If I were able to talk to the instructor, there is really only one question I would like to ask: -Has there been a significant change in the students' success in his course? If the answer is yes, then it may be safe to assume that CourseSmart is a program that is for the better. Regardless of what the occasional "slackers" may complain about. There is no way to appeal to the entire student body, but the proof will lie within if the students' scores are in positive correlation to the amount of interaction they engage themselves in.

In response to the article itself, and after reading some of the comments left by others, I must agree with some that this program would not be required in smaller courses that allow for more physical interaction in the classroom between student and educator. However, these things would be possible in a perfect world in which we do not live. The possible confounding variables are numerous, but we must create a level of intimacy with our students in a way that allows us to pick up on these discrepancies. The sad fact of the matter is that some students could succeed if they spent the same amount of time spent finding a way to cheat applied to actually studying their material. If this technology does become readily available to most major universities, only time will tell whether it is truly effective or not.

Final Report on PLN

My Personal Learning Network has been increased since I began. I have added various tiles from blogs that I have been in contact with the teacher. I also have placed a few education websites that allow me to connect with other teachers and receive various lesson ideas. I have grown to find many of the posts on twitter very informative. Although my twitter account has not grown as swiftly. I really enjoy using Symbaloo to keep up with the few accounts I have been asked to explore. I have discovered various websites using Symbaloo that I will be able to use in the future. LessonPlanet is a search engine geared for teachers. Using Squidoo I found Kindergarten lessons for the SmartBoard. I absolutely feel that Symbaloo is the best choice to maintain and add to my Personal Learning Network. I am certainly still in the beginning stages; however, I feel like I will continue to discover new tools that will be beneficial to my classroom, my students, and myself in the near future.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blog Post #13

Quivers and the Blended Learning Cycle

A high school teacher in Montana, Mr. Paul Andersen, created his blog that has various videos with a range of topics from biology to physics. I know that I wish that I had found out about his blog sooner when I was struggling with a few topics in my chemistry class. His instructional videos would definitely be worth browsing through if one has a concept that may not be perfectly clear. Mr. Andersen created a video that discusses his approach to the Blending Learning Cycle. His method uses six steps that he has named "QuIVER". The name he created stands for each of the following steps in his technique:
1. Ask Questions 2. Perform an investigation, and inquire the many possibilities 3. Provide a video instruction for the topic in question 4. Elaborate on the meaning of the investigation 5. Review the information given and tested 6. Take a summary quiz to test the students knowledge and understanding
This teaching hybrid must be added to the list of appealing techniques in the classroom. It allows the students to be hands on, and also using various resources to take the topic in question and help connect any loose ends or vague ideas. I have taken a couple classes with required "labs" which turned out to be my professor reading a powerpoint. For the course that it was, it would seem that a hands on approach is more appropriate in order to teach the lesson properly. Mr. Andersen's method allows the students to learn a topic with multiple resources and then test their knowledge to ensure that they understand. I believe that this may also allow for a higher success rate by reaching students who learn differently than just reading or writing the information. Again, I advise anyone who is studying sciences, or has an interest in them, to visit Mr. Andersen's blog and view his videos.

Progress Report for the Final Project

Our group, new and improved, New Kids on the Block, met and went over a tentative outline for our final project. We will be incorporating various ideas to create a Survival Guide type product. We discussed when we will meet to film and edit our project. We should have it completed by the end of the week.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blog Post #12

1. Since there is a very broad spectrum in the field of education, we may not be able to apply certain skills and techniques universally. Sweet Search is a a scholarly search engine created specifically for students and teachers. Search your specific field in which you are studying (elementary education, special education, math, science, history, etc.).
2. Find a website that is informative and appealing to your field. Describe how the website you have chosen can be beneficial.
3. Read The 8 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher. Write a short response about what you have read.
4. Read What 21st Century Learning Means to Me. Write a 1-2 paragraph summary and response of the article. How would you define 21st century learning?

I have always been very engaged in the activities at my church for students from K4 up to 8th grade. The imagination that flows from these children almost radiates from them like an aura. It is because of this infective nature of these young, innocent minds that I chose to enter this level of education. When I search Sweet Search, I found a plethora of helpful and informative websites. Since I have always had a love for the arts and creativity, one post in particular jumped out at me. The Arts in Every Classroom is a post that provides a eight, one hour long video workshops for integrating the arts into classrooms K-5. I find that this gives artistic educators a new possibility to teach their students while preserving and expressing the imagination they so greatly possess.

The 8 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher

In this post, we are given several descriptions that make up what it means to be a 21st century educator. In the post, they identify that the example descriptions given do not have to remain present at all times; however, these traits must be able to be called upon as they are needed. These characteristics range from being the adaptor to the visionary to the leader to the risk taker. As educators, we must be able to transform to meet each of these characteristics in order to identify how we must educate our students. Just like each person has a separate personality to that of someone standing next to them, we all learn differently. Possessing these traits allow us to identify our students' potential and adjust into whichever form is necessary. It is important for an educator to be able to evolve and adjust their methods to not only meet the changes in the system, but also the changes amongst each student as they all progress differently.

What 21st Century Learning Means to Me

In this post added by Kim Hendrick, we get a little bit of a deeper look into how educators must be able to evolve. We are no longer being taught by the same means as our grandparents. Education is quickly growing to meet the fast paced world of technology. Kim explains that students must be able to have a say in what they learn, how they learn it, and how they showcase what they learn. Although it is our duty as educators to provide that education, we must take a step further and teach our students how to learn for themselves. We can no longer rely on rote memorization since it has been proven that these methods do not allow the skills and objectives to be obtained properly. Our students must be given a way to learn in order to grasp their attention and drive them to want to seek out more information. Granted we cannot guarantee this result from all students, but that further goes to show how we must be able to adapt to these cases.

Being a 21st century educator gives us the ability to incorporate technology to add to our education methods. We are given the most expansive form of enhancement that allows our students to connect with each other, teachers, and others around the world. We are able to learn together, and also learn from each other. Amongst these things, the technology we are able to incorporate also gives students an outlet to show their creativity in their work. Projects can be presented in more ways than a poster, a PowerPoint presentation, or a simple paper. The possibilities for our students are truly endless. We are being given the opportunity to seek out the unknown in order to push ordinary to extraordinary for ourselves, as well as our students.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Blog Post #11

Technology in Ms. Cassidy's Classroom

Ms. Cassidy's classroom in Canada utilizes technology in various ways. Some of the many mediums include blogging, Skype, Nintendo DS, etc.. The students are given so many new approaches to their education. With the way the world continues to grow and evolve, these skills are becoming more vital in order to provide students with the ability to learn and adjust quickly alongside these changes. Ms. Cassidy provides students with the proper usage and safety of these tools in order to be effective and safe with her students work. She incorporates the parents and families of her students so that they may see the works of the children. One of the tools that stood out to me was Ms. Cassidy's application of Wiki-spaces. The reason I am so intrigued by this is because I have just been introduced to a Wiki project in one of my other courses. Ms. Cassidy's students are much younger than I am and they are mastering the newest connective technology that I never had at their age. I have been exposed to blogs and other tools that they are using, but I haven't been as engaged until I began Dr. Strange's EDM 310 course. I continuously find myself amazed by such young children being able to complete online tasks that I am just mastering myself at 20 years old. The amount of possibilities for these children will be much more expansive than I knew for my own generation.

It is almost ironic that she uses these tools with her students in the classroom, but doesn't quite engage in them outside of school. Regardless, I am very grateful for teachers like Ms. Cassidy that use these methods in her classrooms. These teachers are thinking outside of the education box, which is a very important thing in our world. I feel that the tools Ms. Cassidy introduces also creates a different level of intimacy and familiarity between her students and the rest of the world. She gives them the ability to connect with people world wide that may be other students, or professionals in different fields that may apply to a specific lesson, or even instill the beginning thoughts of possible career options. Some may think such things are silly for young children, but we all had some idea of what we wanted to do in the future when we were little. Some may change their mind more than others, but I feel that this gives children the chance to explore their own personalities as they grow. Much like Ms. Cassidy said, "Technology is not going anywhere, it is here to stay". The world is always changing, and so are people and the possibilities that we can seek!

C4K Summary for March

C4K #6

For this assignment, I was given the honor of taking a little peak at quite an exquisite young student in Australia. Henri wrote a post that was a 100 word challenge. In his post he gave his thoughts about the world sharing with each other. He mentions the war in Afghanistan and how people are dying. He explains that we must share some of the small things in addition to the more vital things like food. He goes on to say, "Peace would then allow everyone to be friends". I'm not certain what it was about Henri's words, but he gave me some hope that there are people, despite age, that care about the world coming together. When I left a few words on Henri's post, I did not hesitate to let him know that he was fantastic. I told him that my brother was actually in Afghanistan too. I also told him that he had a compassionate heart and to keep working hard. I feel very blessed to have read his blog post.

C4K #7

Shorya posted on their blog about a presentation and documentary about autism. The information was very funny and educational. Shorya also said that some people might find an autistic person to be weird, and they believed that autistic people were just like us. I could not be more happy to have 2 students in a row with such kind spirits. I told Shorya that I knew many people related to autistic people, but never met any of them personally. I also said that these may be the people who come to appreciate and enjoy life more than the rest of us who live "normal" lives.

C4K #8

In my final blog for the month of March, I read a very creative blog written by Ayla. Ayla is in 8th grade and has an amazing artistic ability with words. Her post was a short story that was filled with interesting detail. She began with what seemed to be a grim confrontation between a drunk father and his daughter. She continues on to take this character, Bridgette, outside into a world that doesn't quite resemble our own. The post she created was an unedited version, and I have to say that I was very impressed with her writing ability. Once I introduced myself, I told her that her work was similar to some of the books that I have found myself buried in for days. I explained how wonderful her creativity and imagination was. I wished Ayla the best of luck with her writing. I will certainly be checking back to see if anything else is added on to her story, or just to see what other things she writes. Her talent is worthy of praise.

C4T #3

For the Love of Teaching

A blog constructed by Diane Dahl, For the Love of Teaching, provides many helpful posts that range from various techniques. Diane's methods use "brain-based" strategies and incorporation of technology. In the first post of Diane's blog that I read, she was explaining a situation in which she observed a few students making decisions through the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors method. After believing that they were solving the problem in what appeared to be a sensible manner, she turned her attention back to her original tasks. Moments later one of the students in the group came to her upset that he was winning fair and square, but another student kept trying to turn the odds in her favor.

She went on to impose a solution to these problems in order to ensure students were engaging themselves in their work in an effective way. She explains how to create stations and duties for the children in each group. In one of her methods, she has each student in the group carry out a specific role, whether it be the problem solver or the answer checker, and then swap places once they complete an assignment and understand the answer they received. She introduced one final method to incorporate technology into the lesson, QR codes. A QR code is similar to a bar code that can be read with an app on an iPad, tablet, or smartphone.

I explained to her that I often fell into many categories when describing students. I also mentioned how often it is that children are curious and like to play with the objects belonging to their parents. The introduction of these QR codes is quite genius because they allow children to explore the very items that fancy their interest at home. The only difference here lies in that they are tinkering with technology in an educational setting.

When I revisited Diane's blog, I decided to delve further into her blog and see what other treasures I could find. Sure enough I didn't have to look very far. In a post that was made prior to my first reading, she was discussing a Reading Thinking Stem Guide, since a similar method for math was successful. Unsure of what the actual math version had been, I decided to go back and read The Math Thinking Stem to get a better idea. Basically, these stem rubrics help students to approach problems and break them down in a logical manner in order to understand how to solve them.

I explained to Diane that this was fascinating because I have always had trouble with math whenever it came to critical thinking skills. I never quite grasped the concept of this important skill, and now that I am in college, it is still a problem. I told her that this could be helpful in preventing students from gaining the problems I have had with critical thinking. This skill is vital, especially now that I see more collegiate educators basing their examinations off of the application of taking more than one concept and finding the link between them. Something that I certainly wish I could figure out! This blog has been yet another interesting read. All of the posts that I have read from her have including links to obtain the materials for her methods. I will be tucking this one away for later use!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Project #11

Blog Post #10

Adventures in Pencil Integration

John T. Spencer has a very intriguing webpage, Adventures in Pencil Integration. The pictured comic above is from his post, I'm a Papermate, I'm a Ticonderoga. As explained to a fellow student, this comic was made to imitate the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercials that were circulated through the media. I felt a tad bit confused by it at first, and am still somewhat fuzzy. However, the point I think that he makes possibly lies within a person's preference. Certainly the two brands differ widely, but its really up to a certain individual whether which one is truly the best. Someone concerned with money, like broke college students such as myself, may want the cheaper products in order to put the rest of our tight budget to better use. Someone else may argue that the Ticonderoga will pay for itself since it is of better quality and not as easily broken.

As I browsed through various other posts from Mr. Spencer, I began to notice a trend. Although I do not fully understand the purpose of some of his posts entirely, I think that the big picture is more visible. In his post, Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?, it explains a situation in which the principal disagrees with the use of games inside the classroom. As a person who enjoys finding the most entertaining and catchy way to teach things, I must argue against the view of this principal.

Most of Mr. Spencer's posts are similarly thought provoking, as well as entertaining. Since I do feel that I am uncertain of the truest message from him, I don't feel at liberty to provide that here. When I read one of the first posts on his blog, Remember Pencil Quests?, I felt like I missed out on some education high point. I have always been a fan of scavenger hunt events. It is obvious to me that Mr. Spencer prefers a more conventional way of teaching that causes the students to maintain communication in the most basic form, pen pals that are handwritten. I worry that we are becoming much too reliant on technology as it continuously develops. Certainly, I enjoy having a "smarter than me" phone that can provide just about any information I need at a moments notice as long as the service is there to support it. I also enjoy that I can use the internet for homework and communication. The downside though is the skills that seem to be slipping away from us as a result. I find more and more that whenever I sit down to eat at a restaurant, I can look around and pick out at least 5 couples, families, or friends, who are not engaged in any conversation and physical socializing whatsoever. Instead they all have their noses buried in their phones, some of which I have witnessed texting the person across from them. At the young age that I am, this absolutely terrifies me. I dread the day that technology goes wrong because the majority of the world will not be able to carry out basic functions.

If not now, when?

Dr. Scott McLeod is known for his various professionalism towards some of the issues that are arising in grade school academics. He has been employed by various universities and is a founding director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, more commonly known as CASTLE. In one of his posts, Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?, he almost posts in a poetic format. Throughout the post, he touches on the positives and negatives of technology in its various forms. Though I can agree with his viewpoint on all sides, I do feel that technology is important. Especially since we are moving further into a world that relies on technology to function. I find this to be a bittersweet fact. I have always felt, and certainly have stated in my posts at least once, that when technology is up, it's up, but whenever it goes down, I just want to rip my hair out. It is nearly impossible to reverse these changes. We live in a world that is becoming too accustomed to instant gratification. We want everything, and we want it as soon as possible.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

C4T #2

I Used to Think...But Now I Think For my second grouping of C4T assignments, I explored the creative blog titled Blend My Learning. Next to the title on this blog, it says three words: "Innovate, transform, share". I find that these three words provide such an immense summary of some duties teachers must master and complete. The first post that I read on this amazing blog is I Used to Think...But Now I Think. In this post, Dan Cogan-Drew took a look at some elementary schools that are using the web to drive their students learning. One of the teachers that they shed the spotlight on is from Connecticut. Becca Trombly teaches kindergarten and has applied some of the ideas that Dan has presented to her. Instead of placing her students in front of computers to keep them occupied while she finishes some of her own work, she now uses them to improve their learning. She claims that she tells them to stay in the zone so that they remain focused on the lessons instead of worrying about interrupting other students.

Once I introduced myself, I expressed my awe that these techniques are being practiced with such young students. I also included my observation that technology seems to be reaching younger generations as time goes on. I gave a bit of contact information to my blog and my email in order to attempt some level of communication. I still cannot believe that teachers are being successful with kindergarteners.


Kiera Chase writes in her post about an organization that includes teachers in creating the technologies and products they make. Imagine K-12 promotes and supports companies that are trying to get their feet in the door with their newest product ideas. Kiera explained that she had the pleasure of attending all four of the sessions that have been held to promote these companies. Some of them are: Plickers,, Opus, and Tinkertags. These products vary from student response systems to math and writing products. I am certainly eager to see if some of these concepts make it to the market.

Once again, after my introduction, I expressed my excitement for Kiera to visit these promotional events. I also explained that some of my classes used the clicker response systems, and have been on the "fritz" lately. One of my most used statements in work or school is often that when technology is good it's great, but whenever it is down it is only an annoyance. I am usually impressed by the amazing creations that some people can come up with. If we can all benefit from them, then it is sure to be a hit! I gave Kiera my email so that they may tell me more about some of the products that really stood out to them.

This blog has been yet another inspiring read. They make me even more excited to step into my own classroom in a few years and apply some of the things that I read about.

Blog Assignment #8

This Is How We Dream

In Dr. Richard Miller's videos, This Is How We Dream Part 1 and 2, he brings to the table a topic that may or may not have crossed our minds in the last 10, 20, or 50 years. Rather than our students writing verbally, soon they will be able to compose things with the internet itself. This possibility could open up an array of new styles and techniques to get our hands dirty with. Dr. Miller believes that the level of communication the world has at its fingertips is "the greatest change in human communication, in human history."

The immense capabilities to communicate with individuals globally is one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed. What once took weeks and months to send a letter across the world, with the possibility of having it fail to be delivered, is now a split second phone call, text message, or video chat. Dr. Miller explains that someday students may be able to filter webpages based on emotions, key phrases, and other amazing capabilities. This only skims the surface of the amazing advances we have been able to bare witness to. The technological opportunities that I was not introduced well into my teenage years, are now being mastered by younger and younger generations. With this also comes even more advanced technology that will soon surpass my own generation.

Dr. Miller discusses that students will be able to compose these things by being able to "get behind" the material and look deeper into it. He says that the "limits and restrictions are largely ones we place on ourselves". I firmly believe that this statement is valid. Some of these possible advances may seem impossible now, but we must remember that our predecessors also thought the same thing about making a trip to the moon or even the very cell phones and tablets that surround us today. We may find that some of these things are extremely unlikely; however, we cannot solely just turn up our noses and walk away because we are constantly growing closer than ever to the next wave of intelligence. The future is amazingly bright for our students.

Carly Pugh

In Carly's post during her adventure as a fellow EDM 310 student, Blog Post #12, she gives us a little inspiration for a possible assignment that was not created by Dr. Strange himself. In her post she explains that she needed to get going on an assignment that she had yet to finish. During this surge of creativity, she decided to tackle a later assignment that seemed to fit her mood. With this she came up with an assignment to create a playlist on YouTube that reflected various aspects, opinions, ideas, and possible philosophies as future educators. She listed a few ideas to include and proceeded to give some insight into the playlist she created since she believes that we must teach by example.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and watching some of the ideas that she presented. These things give rise to much more possibility for us, as future educators, to expand our students education over and beyond the levels that these students see today. Besides the variability in education, these new practices may help give students a chance to find something that they enjoy practicing and digger deeper into and provide them with a stronger interest in their future. I strongly urge others to read Carly's post and give her assignment a shot. You may be quite impressed and inspired with the things she found, and ones that you may stumble across yourself.

Student Inspiration

In a previous assignment, I watched a couple productions from some previous EDM 310 students. The Chipper Series explains a story of a procrastinating student who disagrees with her instructor's methods of teaching. She decides to drop out and experiment with various occupations, none of which are successful, and tries to do things her own way. After having a flight school that she created fails, she finally decides that the best route would be to "suck it up" and get back to school. I know that I may have some procrastination issues, as many of us may do, and it is a hard habit to break. On the other hand, I am making various efforts to reconcile this problem in order to prevent the predicament Chipper faces. Procrastination only leads to added stress that no one enjoys. It is better to bite the bullet and get the assignment done calmly and properly in order to ensure the best result and minimize panic if something were to go wrong last minute.

In the second piece, I watched a short commercial from a group of EDM 310 students promoting EDM 310 for Dummies. The entertaining video is for a book that may help with the stresses of EDM 310. I thought that this idea was extremely creative. I must commend both of these videos because they are very well done. It doesn't hurt either that they both touch on some of the common complaints and struggles students may face in this course. I tried to sit down and contemplate a few ideas of my own that would be entertaining, yet informative, and have not been successful. It is likely that something might come to me down the road, but for anyone who is trying to get those creative "juices" flowing, I advise watching these videos, as they are very inspirational.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

In the video Learn to Change, Change to Learn, I find that the possible "attacks" on education as we know it is not properly described. As I have made note of previously, technology is changing daily and becoming much more advanced than we are currently most comfortable. As educators, we must be able to assess these changes in a way that can be properly reflected and practiced in our classrooms. We must apply the tools that the students are in contact with so they may be able to follow the level of intelligence that technology is leading them towards. Education must be able to be turned on each and every one of its sides in order to take any step necessary to present the ideals that our students must understand and master. An added advantage to this understanding will provide educators with the ability to reach more students effectively on a unique level for each individual.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0

The first objective that I sought out was a video tool called Animoto. Animoto is a tool that provides the capability to make videos that are extravagant. There are free versions with the basic features, and plus and pro versions that are more complex. You can insert photos and videos to Animoto, add special effects, and other features to make an impressive recollection of some of your favorite moments. The Lite version is free and only provides 30 second video productions and limited effects, but the Plus and Pro options add more capabilities as you move to the higher priced versions. Plus is $2.50 a month, and Pro is $20.75 a month for more professional style films.

For my second task, I found a link to a website called Classroom 2.0. This space is a learning community and social network solely for teachers. There are forums and groups to browse, as well as various labs and events. I like this website because one of the first things I noticed was a forum post titled I'm still afraid of Facebook. As an, what I believe to be correct, technologically savvy person, I found this post to be a bit entertaining at first. After I thought about it for a moment, I realized that the things that come so easily to me are the things that have evolved since I was very little, but some adults did not even know such things were possible at my age. How can I expect someone to know how to navigate and operate something that is just as foreign as the machines they can be found on? The answer is simple, I can't. This site allows teachers to come together and collaborate on their own ideas and also receive input from others.

The final piece to this scavenger hunt puzzle is to seek out a tool that allows me to make a poll. I love to receive input from others to find whether they have interest in similar or different things or ideas. Poll Everywhere allows you to create your very own poll. I decided to create my own, and since this week happens to be Spring Break, I decided to go with something fun. You can find my poll here. You can text the number provided to give your input to my poll, or you can create your own.

Monday, March 4, 2013

PLN Progress Report

Before EDM 310, I had never heard of a Personal Learning Network. After talking to a few people that I know, previously enrolled in this course, I got a better understanding of what to expect. In my PLN, I have various sites that range from personal to education use. I have my social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I also have various links to places that I use daily in each of my courses. Since I am new to PLN, I am a little overwhelmed with all of the possibilities, but I am also very excited to see what kind of connections I can make that can help me later on. Let this new journey begin, and we will see where it may lead me!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

C4K Summary for February

For my first month of C4K assignments, I have to say first and foremost that this has to be my favorite assignment so far. I love getting to read and be a part of blogs from people younger than me. What I love even more is that these students are local AND across the world, one of which lives in New Zealand. I have always loved Australia and New Zealand, so I was very excited about this!

C4K #1

My first assignment for C4K was a local student, TJ, in a tenth grade American Literature class. In his post, he described literary character, Tom Walker. In his description, TJ explained that Tom Walker was a thief who stole from his "friends". He also explained that he was cowardly and hid things from his wife. His cowardly actions went on further to cross the devil, in which he made a deal with to steal money from these people, and deserved the fate that he received for his wrong doings. In my comment to TJ's post, first I introduced myself. I then told him that his description of Tom Walker was very detailed. I asked TJ if he felt that there was any way to justify his actions toward the devil and his wife. I concluded my comment by praising his creative work.

C4K #2

For my second assignment, I read a student's blog, Alexis from Canada. In Alexis's post, she explained that she was going to have a birthday party that weekend with some of her friends. The party she was planning was a sleepover. She told us that their agenda would include crafts and watching movies until midnight. After I introduced myself to Alexis, I wished her a very happy birthday. I felt that this would be exciting to come from someone in a different country. I then told her that sleepovers were some of my favorite birthday parties when I was younger. I asked Alexis if she got anything that she was wishing for, for her birthday. I told her that I would love to hear more about her party and gave her my email and blog information.

C4K #3

In week three of C4K for February, I was assigned a very exciting student's blog. Ngairie lives in New Zealand! In her post, I got to look at a Google Presentation that she made. I learned that her favorite color is blue, and she loves puppies. Some of the other things I saw was that her favorite cake looked like chocolate, and her favorite television show is Jimmy Neutron. I was very impressed with her presentation, since she is younger than I am and I just learned how to make a Google Presentation myself a week earlier. After my introduction, I told Naigrie that my favorite color was blue, too! I also told her how excited I was that she was from New Zealand, and I have always wanted to travel there. I asked her what some of her favorite things were about New Zealand, and if she had ever traveled out of her country before. I told her that I would love to learn more and that I love to meet new people. I look forward to keeping up with her blog. She is a very interesting young lady.

C4K #4

For my final C4K, I was assigned to another student that attends the same school, and class, as TJ. In Kathleen's post, I was very sad to see that it was about suicide. She explained that she believes people commit suicide because they hate their lives. She also suggests that someone may have been bullied to the point that their life is no longer tolerable. She then breaks my heart by explaining that her uncle committed suicide over his wife. To add on to that, she says that she witnessed his passing when she was very little, and it has scarred her for life. I told Kathleen that I, too, have lost many people in recent years. Some of them I lost because of suicide, and I know how hard it is for this. Although I must note that I cannot completely relate because I have never been in her shoes by being a witness. I also told her that the friends that I have lost were some of the most amazing people I've ever met. I provided her with my email if she wanted to contact me for anything at all.

I certainly am enjoying this assignment. It is very exciting to read such wonderful work from students that are younger than me. I feel that this gives some optimism for younger generations because they are mastering these skills at such a young age. I am eager to see who I can learn from next!

Blog Assignment #7

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

In Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, I cannot fathom the amount of inspiration that Mr. Pausch filled this auditorium with on this day. At the time, he was battling cancer with very little time to share his wisdom with us. Something that immediately struck a sensitive nerve with me was the moment he said he was born in 1960; thus, making Mr. Pausch the same age as my mother, give or take a few days, weeks, or months. He says that his childhood was easy because at that time it was easy to dream because of the many amazing things being accomplished in those years. I absolutely admire his statement that we must dream specifically. His list of childhood dreams reflects this directly. In the second dream of his, he tells us how he played football with the hopes to someday play for the NFL. One of his coaches arrived to the team's surprise without any footballs. When another teammate brought this to attention, Coach Graham proceeded to ask them how many players were on a field, in which they replied 22. He then questioned how many touched the ball at a given time, with the response one. With this, his coach made his point known by telling them that they will be practicing what the other 21 players not touching the ball were supposed to do.

Professor Pausch explained that this was the importance of fundamentals. As both an athlete and a coach, I can very deeply relate to the dire need for fundamentals. You cannot run and ride a bike before you start to walk. You cannot learn calculus without perfecting basic arithmetic. All of these things build upon each other. I feel that this also coincides with dreams. You have to achieve the small dreams first in order to begin your journey to your bigger dreams. Alongside of these achievements, Mr. Pausch explains that our success is often thwarted by "brick walls", but they are used to evaluate how badly we want something. He brings one of his brick walls up in his discussion of his application to become one of Disney's Imagineers. He tells us that he received some of the "nicest go to hell" letters he had ever received, and although it was a setback, he continued to follow his dreams. In which later, he was able to get on board to create the Disney virtual reality attraction of Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride. This allowed the flood gates of possibility to burst open.

Another statement that stood out to me was when he said, "It is pretty easy to be smart when you are parenting smart people". I feel that the reason this seemed so important is because this relates back to education. It is easy to teach students who are willing to learn and grasp the concepts being taught easily. The challenge for educators lies in being able to give every student the ability to connect on their own level so that they succeed. It would be impossible to make it through a class without one person having trouble. Everyone learns in a different way. The way I may grasp information may be completely opposite and foreign to you. This is what we must be able to understand and overcome. As future educators, we have to be able to take a single objective and find multiple approaches that will end at the same destination.

He tells about the glory to be had when you can provide students with the opportunity to become excited about something. One of his favorite moments as the instructor of the high technology course, was part of a video done by one of his students. He explains that his course was all about bonding. This is something I feel very strongly about. Students can learn much easier when they create a bond between their teacher and other students. This gives everyone a chance to make themselves excited as well as others around them. The students can share in each others successes, and aid them in their weaknesses. This is an aspect that I want to practice in my classroom. I find that I can learn from my own professors when I can relate to them and feel like my education is important, not when I am just another student number in a classroom staring out the window, subconsciously in another world. What better way to teach than to engage students and give them something to look forward to during their day?

I am sad that I was not able to meet Professor Pausch. His inspiration in his Last Lecture as well as in his Time Management lecture knows no bounds. He was truly an amazing person that can teach us the true meaning that nothing is impossible. If we set forth the these we want to accomplish and make a drive towards them, then we, too, may be able to say that we achieved our childhood dreams just as Mr. Pausch did.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blog Assignment #6

The Networked Student

The only thought in my mind when I watched Wendy Drexler's video, Networked Student, was that this concept of connectivism directly related to the teaching ethic of Dr. Strange's EDM 310 course. The concept was inspired by Alec Cuoros' "The Connected Teacher". Dr. Cuoros strongly believes that "tools come and go, but the relationships endure". This is a personal mission for myself when it comes to teaching or coaching children. I feel that you have to establish this level of trust in each other in order to give a message that students can receive wholeheartedly.

The purpose of this concept is to teach our students how to sort and perceive the information that they seek through online resources. The example given discussed how to use one resource to compile various blogs by the use of RSS feeds. The student at 21st Century University, is taking a class that does not have a textbook and meets partially in class, and partially online. He uses various resources such as Google Scholar and Delicious in order to find reputable information to apply to his studies. In the video, it asks what role this student's teacher has in all of this when they do not meet in class.

The role of such teachers is to assist students in sorting and interpreting the information they find, as well as the best routes to take and how to go about certain inquiries properly and respectfully. By the end of the video, I am convinced that Dr. Strange is such a teacher as was described. He leads us to the proper information we need to know in order to carry out our assignments properly. His firm philosophy against "burp back" education further strengthens my opinion because he refuses to do the work for us, but will help us discover how to educate ourselves. This is important in the future since, hopefully, we only take this course once. After we step away from EDM 310, it is solely our responsibility to take the things we learned and expand them on our own. This will be something I would like to practice in my own classroom with the hopes to help my students become less reliant on teachers to spoon feed them information and learn to teach themselves and become more self-sufficient.

Personal Learning Network

I am eager to look further into these Personal Learning Networks after seeing the possibilities that can be found. I have heard of these resources by some previous EDM 310 students, and I personally cannot wait to begin my own. It is especially appealing that the video done by one 7th grade student was for her science class. To make it even better, her class is paperless, and I absolutely love the idea of that!

Project #10

When I was browsing the interweb for possible tools to use in my classroom, I came upon a link to 50 Really Cool Online Tools for Science Teachers that immediately snatched my attention. There were so many possible ideas for just about any science class. However, I did not find what I was looking for so I went back to the drawing board. After a little more digging, I found a similar page Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning. At the beginning of this page, there were various questions that sorted out the different resources based upon what your goals were for your students. As I began to seek out something that provided creative collaboration, I saw many other resources that could be useful as well. I came upon FlockDraw, which seemed appealing to me. In the description, it even mentioned the idea of collaborative projects, so I indulged my curiosity. FlockDraw is a website that is like a virtual whiteboard or canvas in which students, or anyone, can join a session and creative a drawing. The reason that I love this idea is because I am a visual and repetitive learner. Since students all learn differently, this provides them with the ability to make drawings of their objectives, as well as chat live with other students in their class. Often a concept can be better understood if it is approached in a different manner. I feel that this will allow them to collaborate to help each other learn in their own ways, and then everyone benefits.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blog Assignment #5

Building Your Dream School

Krissy Venosdale uses technology to inspire her students that inspire her. In her blog, Venspired, she focuses on the tools of technology and ideas of innovation to drive her students. She allows creativity to combine with the always growing resources becoming readily available to provide her students the ability to think, wonder, and discover. In one of her posts, If I Built A School, she dreams what it would be like to create her out place of learning. The curriculum is described as a "loose road map", and the purpose is to dig deeper into the very things we find intriguing. Class rooms are comfortable, bright, and the very inspiration to keep the children wondering. At lunchtime, experts visit to offer the students many available career options that they can apply the things they learn. There is a high sense of whimsical creativity, but also brimming with professionalism. To advance through each grade, students must exhibit the readiness and maturity, and not simply their age. This school would focus on the importance of learning by finding enjoyable and purposeful methods, while creating the bond between teacher and student. This is truly a dream school, and did I mention that she put a treehouse inside the library? How cool would that be?

If I could build a dream school myself, it would vaguely resemble that of which Mrs. Venosdale described. A school that focuses on creativity, and following the mind where it may lead. To explore the growing possibilities technology has provided, while at the same time giving every student a place to find their niche. A school that identifies each student's strengths, but also finding interactive methods of improving any weaknesses. Not a place that the students feel like they are imprisoned for eight hours or so a day, five days a week. My school would have various competitions for the students to take part in amongst each other, and the teachers. A place where we all learn from each other.

Lux Arumque

When I read the title for this assignment, I was immediately overjoyed at the sight of "virtual choir". I have always enjoyed music, and choir was one of my favorite classes when I was in high school. The power of music has always mesmerized me. There is something for everyone, for any possible mood, whether you are happy, sad, angry, in love, etc.. When I watched Eric Whitacre's creation of this virtual choir, I was stunned. I could not believe that putting together many individual clips from Youtube, could make such a wonderful piece of art. To say that watching this gave me goosebumps would be a complete understatement. I have never been able to find what it is about the power of the voice, but I often find myself getting chills. I am literally typing this, and looking at the chills that are still covering my arms.

Teaching in the 21st Century

In Kevin Robert's presentation, Teaching 21st Century Students, he expresses how important it is to understand that we are literally being surrounded by new technology every day that is changing out lives. He asks what it means to teach in this century, and then continues by showing that if all teachers have to offer is concrete methods and ideals introduced by their teachers, and their teachers' teachers, then our role will be obsolete. If your car were to break down, what would you do? I can promise that most of you most likely thought something along the lines of using your cell phone or laptop to find someone to fix it, or to find out how to fix it yourself. This is the point he is trying to make. Technology is all around us, and sometimes we are so engulfed in it that we do not even realize it's enormity. As educators, we must determine the best possible routes to provide our students to navigate these resources properly. I cannot express how many times a teacher has told me not to trust websites such as Wikipedia, but there must be a way to determine the validity for some of these sources, because they cannot all be hoaxes. We are the future for our students to master the things that we are learning now. This technology age is not going to slow down any time soon, so we might as well take advantage of it now.

Flipping the Classroom

I am very interested in this concept of "Flipping the Classroom". I have always felt that I excelled faster in classes that provide information prior to class time, and even have quizzes about this material prior as well, so that when the class arrives, I know what to expect to be taught that day. In Katie Gimbar's video, Why I Flipped My Classroom, she explains the purpose of this concept, as well as how she went about flipping towards a positive result. Dr. Lodge McCammon also explains his purpose of flipping the classroom in his video for his program FIZZ. I agree with his statements that we cannot continue solely lecturing to our students and then send them off to apply the information by themselves later. From personal experience recently, it is not the most efficient teaching method, as sometimes the applications can be confusing. If the information is provided before it is officially taught, the students can come into the classroom prepared to ask for clarification on any concepts that may have been confusing to them. Ms. Mufano has explained similar ideas in her video, Flipping the Classroom - 4th Grade STEM. The only negative thought about this new method of learning is how some teachers may take this as an easy way out of teaching. This cannot be seen as an alternative to other methods, and requires the educator to be prepared to help the students with the information and assignments provided prior. If you do not enjoy teaching your students every day and this is a technique you want to apply so that your job may be easier, I highly suggest reconsidering your career choice. As a very close friend of mine, and an educator herself, once told me, "Not anyone can be a teacher, you have to be born with the ability to want to teach. It is not a career for the money, it is for the love of improving your students." These words I hold near to my heart, and will always stand firmly by the truth behind them.

Project #6

My Sentence Video

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blog Assignment #4

Langwitches is such a creative blog to explore. To hear children with such excitement in podcasts and blog posts is absolutely inspiring. The mission of Langwitches is not to focus on the technology being taught; instead, the focus remains on the skills these children gain from using the technology.

Flat Stanley

Ms. Tolisano and her first grade class read the book Flat Stanley by Jim Brown. In this children's book, Stanley is a normal boy that gets squished by a bulletin board and is flattened. Instead of feeling down about his situation, Stanley travels the world via mail. With the original storyline, Ms. Tolisano and her class put together some ideas in order to recreate their own version of this story. Each student was able to choose a location and asked to research that place either from a book out of the library or online. The goal of the podcast was to allow the students to learn about different places of interest and each have their own turn recording a part of their own unique flat adventures. The expressions in all of their voices was nothing short of adorable.

Their adventures spanned the entire globe. Some went east to Europe, some west to Asia, and others from the North Pole to Antarctica. My favorite of all the journeys was Flat Emily and her trip to Alabama. There are few sweeter sounds than someone yelling "Roll Tide", but her exclamation has to be at the top of my list. I think that the use of the podcast for such young children is useful in our technologically advancing world. They are being introduced at a young age which allows them to explore further than most at an earlier age.

The Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom

To further indulge my interest in podcasting for education purposes, I took a look at Mr. Joe Dale's post Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom. To aid Mr. Dale's advantages, he posted Podcasting in the Classroom by Doug Saunders. Some of the benefits he included were the ability to push the classroom boundaries further, allowing the lessons to be portable at a radio quality, and pose a possible solution to keep children from falling behind if they happen to miss a class. These are only a few examples of how podcasting in classrooms is becoming a growing interest among educators.

I love the capability to allow absent students to be able to keep up with missed work. As a firm believer in preserving the creativity of our future generations, I am very intrigued by the possibilities this innovation provides. Another aspect that appeals to me is the level of involvement this gives to parents. I feel very strongly that for children to be successful in their studies, their parents must also take part to ensure they are taking the necessary actions to help them. When I was younger I may have become frustrated with my parents for reprimanding me for not receiving proper grades if I put off studying; however, as I am getting older, I have become very grateful to them for the extra push that has prepared me for college level study requirements.

1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Book

Ms. Tolisano got together with her first grade students and came up with a creative idea to make a read-along for the book Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osbourne. While a separate classroom teacher read each chapter, Ms. Tolisano took out a few students at a time to record their parts in the book. In addition to recording their parts, the children also took part in creating the effects that are heard during the story. At the end of production, the audio file reached about 15 minutes in total length. When the students were able to hear their podcast for the first time, they were all very involved in their parts, what they would like to perfect, and the project success as a whole.

The idea to record the types of media that surround children of this age is fantastic. It allows them to see the stories they may read in class or at bedtime in a whole new light. I enjoy that these children are so engaged in these projects. You can tell that they truly enjoy taking part in these activities, which I feel is important in learning. If you are given something that you already enjoy, and you are asked to learn anything you can from it, you will more than likely become so deeply engaged in it that you will produce a product worth being proud of. These are the modes of teaching we need to continue to introduce to our classrooms because it allows each student to discover their creativity and express it.

C4T #1

Dare to Care: The Genius Hour-What Have I Learned?

For my first C4T assignment, I was asked to take a look into Mrs. Denise Krebs blog titled Dare to Care. Immediately, I was excited with my assignment as Mrs. Krebs' blog stood out as very interesting and thought provoking. The title in itself made me think of a mission statement for all educators. Certainly it is our job to educate these children for the future, but we must also take each class and establish relationships with them so that they understand that we do what we do for them, not just to pay our bills. They are our future just as much as we are theirs. They must learn from us in order to grow and flourish for themselves. In the first post of Mrs. Krebs' blog that I read was A Year of Genius Hour-What Have I Learned?, I could tell that she and I shared similar opinions. After watching The Puzzle of Motivation a video featuring Dan Pink, Mrs. Krebs was re-inspired after reading a few tweets commenting on the idea. Mrs. Krebs gave her students a three hour block to explore the things that each of their hearts desired in the beginning of this genius hour. Within the last 15 months, she reports that her students were eager to learn their unique trades. When questioned about the validity of this assignment, she explained that the students had no trouble remaining on task since they were following their own interests. One of the few issues Mrs. Krebs faced with the genius hour were some students who just wanted to be told what to do instead of looking inside themselves and coming up with a project on their own.

In order to alleviate their mind-blocks, Mrs. Krebs had each of these students make a list of 10 things they love to do and learn, 10 things that they are good at, and 10 things that they wonder. Mrs. Krebs explains that she is teaching her students to be creative, and in her conclusion, she shares a video from a fellow genius hour leader, Gallit Zvi, about her students opinions of The Genius Hour One statement Mrs. Krebs made, that really jumped out at me, read, "They have chosen what they want to learn; no one dictated it. They are given freedom to take as long as needed to be satisfied with their learning." If I could sum up my goal for teaching my students, this could not say it better. As one of the students of Mrs. Zvi said, "Everyone has a different passion. So, you don't wanna learn, like your teacher's passion. You want to learn your passion". I absolutely want my students to follow their passion, learn something from it so that they can take what they have learned and put it towards their future. I do not want to be the teacher on Charlie Brown. I want to be the educator that every student wants to have before they move on to higher levels of education.

In my first comment to Mrs. Krebs, I began by introducing myself, as well as informing her that I was a student at the University of South Alabama in EDM 310. I then expressed my amazement by her post, and told her that I felt there was no better way to teach students than allowing them to teach themselves. I also told her that I would love to apply her genius hour in my future classroom. I concluded by giving her a link to my blog so that she may read anything I post including my review of her posts, and thanked her for such an inspiring technique.

Dare to Care: Must the Students?

For my second C4T assignment with Mrs. Krebs, I read another post that spoke about her Genius Hour. Unlike the initial post, she asked for the opinions of her subscribers on a post from a new Genius Hour observer, in Must the Students?. The unnamed teacher stated that "the students must be able to explain WHY their project is worth learning". Perplexed whether or not she agrees with this statement, Mrs. Krebs further explains that she encourages her students to ask an "essential question", but does not pass judgement on whatever the question may be. To justify this, she states that she cannot always explain why she seeks out her projects, she just wants to learn them. She asks her students to reflect on their projects in student blogs afterwards. In conclusion of her post she asks a few questions for others to give their input:
Do students need specific learning goals during genius hour?
Must students be able to explain why their project is worth learning?

In my comment to Mrs. Krebs' post, I expressed my remaining awe of the genius hour. I explained that if we are given the chance to pursue an object, or task, of our desire, we are more likely to put more effort into its completion. She could be aiding her students in possibly making monumental discoveries by allowing them to explore their creativity. My concern is that we must not push students into the mainstream professions; instead, we must allow them to follow their interests and see what we can all learn from each other. Closing out my comment, I stated that I was eager to see what inspiration Mrs. Krebs came up with next.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Special Blog Post #1

WolframAlpha Comparison

WolframAlpha is a search engine for "computing answers and providing knowledge". After I did an initial inquiry of the comparisons of the populations in India, China, and the United States, I found that both India and China far outnumber the United States by more than the entire population itself. In both India and China the populations are 1.21 billion and 1.35 billion people, respectively. The United States has a mere 309 million people. That is a vast difference. When asked to conduct similar searches, I decided to keep inside the demographic ballpark, since this holds my interest the most on the topic.

For my first search, I chose to search for Compare population density in India, China, and the United States. The results were as staggering as the population comparison. India wins this category for having over 1,050 people per square mile. Can you imagine that? The United States has only 67 people per square mile. That is almost a 1,000 person difference. I cannot fathom adding an extra thousand people within a square mile of my home.

For my second search, I was curious to compare the average incomes in the same three countries; therefore, I searched Compare average income in China, India, and the United States I'm still not certain whether or not I am surprised by the results. In this inquiry the United States takes the gold at $46,000 per person annually, silver goes to China $3,920, and bringing up the rear is India with $1,080. I am surprised that India and China have such low averages, but I supposed if you have a higher population it may level out. However, I am still uncertain on this thought, but for WolframAlpha, I am excited to learn of this new resource.

The possible searches are endless, and can provide multiple statistics as simple as typing in the words and clicking "compute". The use of this resource in classrooms could be very helpful. Out of curiosity while I was already on the website, I decided to tinker, as I often do with new technology, and see what other things I could find. To my excited surprise, there was even a place for teachers to swap lesson plans and creative ideas. Part of the reason I chose a focus in science is because it is a field that is naturally interesting, even more so when you apply hands-on applications, and this is certainly a way to take information and present it in a more interesting and appealing fashion. I will absolutely be putting WolframAlpha to good use in the future.

Social Media Count

Based on the information provided by Gary Hayes and the Social Media Counts, it is astounding how swiftly social media interest is expanding. In the past minute, thousands of blog posts have been made, millions of text messages have been sent, and billions of e-mails have been sent worldwide. This counter only shows a fraction of the technology explosion that goes on momentarily, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. As future educators, especially, we must take notice of these rapid changes.

It is our duty to keep up with the growth in order to provide our students with up to date knowledge. Think about this: the technology that you learn in say your first year of college, will become outdated by your third year. Using WolframAlpha seemed to be perfect for this example. The average lifespan in the United States is roughly 78 years. If you take the average lifespan and divide it by 3 for the yearly timeframe that computer systems change and outdate the previous ones, it means that in an average life these things will improve and change about 26 times. That is phenomenal! Say you begin teaching at age 25 and retire at the average age of 59, you may have to retrain yourself about 12 times in order to keep up with the constantly changing technological advances. For a person like myself, who enjoys learning new things about these latest and greatest advances, it is exciting to wonder what will be released next. I am eager to see what will cause our smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems to become the dinosaur-like bag phones, original computers, and Magnavox Odyssey gaming systems like our older generations. Only time will tell, but at the current rate we may not have to wait too long.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blog Assigment #3

Peer Editing

Peer editing can often be a difficult task to carry out properly. I have found it troubling in the past to critique a fellow peer's hard work in such a way as to not offend them. Luckily, a previous EDM 310 student gave us her thoughts on a few assignments to make this task a little simpler. Paige Ellis came up with a few resources that clarify how to make peer editing less stressful and unoffensive in her blog post Blog Assignment #12. Between three of the four sources she quoted, they seemed to agree on three basic steps for successful peer editing. The focus remained on three steps: compliments, suggestions, and corrections. The video Peer Editing gives some examples how to execute these three steps properly. Tutorial Peer Editing is another source in Paige's blog used the same information, but presented it in a different way.

There are many different approaches to being a successful peer editor. This creative video, Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes, by a group of fourth and fifth graders shows the many wrong ways to go about peer reviewing. No one wants to be a Picky Patty or a Jean the Generalizer. As a personal tip, try to think of how you would want someone to critique your own work, and get an idea how far may be too far. Keep an open mind and always try to remember that peer editing is only making you a better writer.

Assistive Technology

Many people in the world, myself included, truly cannot fathom living life with any sort of disability. Unfortunately, millions of children and adults in the world are not as lucky, and they are forced to cope with obstacles daily. Today, one of my co-workers was telling me about a friend's son that was born blind in his left eye. Honestly, there is nothing in this world that breaks my heart more than seeing or hearing about a child born with some disability, especially blindness. Could you imagine not being able to see the natural beauty of the world? How about never knowing what the velvet petals of a rose look like or watching dolphins breach while the tide crashes on the shore as the sun sinks below the horizon?

In Assistive Technologies for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children, we are given an idea of how far technology is coming to provide children with some hope for their future despite the brick walls they face along their journey. Computers and devices like The Mountbatten provide blind students with the ability to type in braille while receiving audio playback that can send and receive files from a computer.

Other technology allows blind students the opportunity to carry out mathematic processes in the proper form, as seen in Teaching Math to the Blind. It is truly amazing to see such technology come to life to give children and adults with disabilities education and resources that allow them to tread a little closer to the line of "normal life", if there is such a thing. A long time ago someone asked me what the definition of "perfect" was. Perplexed, I sat there for a moment trying to think of a proper way to define such a broad adjective, but after a while I began to realize their point. Is there really a concrete definition of "perfect" or "normal", or is it really based on every individual being? What may be perfect to me could differ drastically to what you may view as perfect. This also leads me to wonder, are these people who live with disabilities actually that unfortunate? Or do they possess a view of how precious life is that some of us could never come close to understanding? These are our angels on Earth, and its heartwarming to see the world coming together to find ways for them to live every day a little happier and stronger.

Digital Generation

In a previous assignment, I found a link to a very interesting blog by Vicki Davis, a teacher with an interest in providing her students the ability to discover the new world of technology at their fingertips. In the video, Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts, Mrs. Davis explains that she wants her students to have access and knowledge to the available technology so that they can broaden their individual capabilities. She believes that, "children have trouble when you only have paper, and you only have pencil". I thoroughly enjoy how firmly she stands that there are many ways for students to learn that go beyond conventional education.

How can we expect the future generations to show their intelligence if we cannot provide them with the skills to look outside the box and search for the unknown? Every person learns differently, and as future educators, we must take a step forward and broaden education past textbooks and exams.