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.