Sunday, May 5, 2013

Blog Assignment #15

Blog Assignment #1 Revisited 

When I first discussed my classroom I said that I planned on keeping my students engaged with a more hands on approach to learning. I would have them become engaged in the literature we would discuss and have them discuss things in groups. I described it as controlled chaos. That much hasn't changed, but how I would go about creating that sort of atmosphere has.

Now when I picture my classroom, I see students with iPads or at computers blogging about what we've read and their reactions to it. I see them discussing their thoughts and posing their questions to the world instead of just to me or their direct group of 20 or so peers. I see us using Skype to talk to other classes and experts on certain topics. I see us creating Wikis and coming up with other projects that allow them to test the limits of their creativity.

There will still be some pencil and paper aspects to the classroom because that is inevitable for the time being, but I don't see my classroom as a traditional one in which we read a work, I lecture and then they take a test. I think having my students use technology to engage in the works will hopefully enhance their love and understanding of literature.

Final Reflection 

Project #13

With my group, we had such busy schedules that I'm glad we had access to technology. We collaborated by using such tools as Gmail, Skype, Google Drive, and FaceTime. We used these to most decide the specific topics of our projects and when to meet to record them. Google Drive was a lifesaver as far as document sharing went. This allowed us to send things that we found useful for our projects. These tools were really helpful in allowing us to be organized so when the time came for us to meet, we could get right down to business.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Project #15

Final Report On PLN

symbaloo webmix

What I have really enjoyed  about this class is the different resources that it has opened me up to. I LOVE Symbaloo. It has made getting to my favorite sites so much faster and has made my life so much more organized. I also like Google Drive. Since the beginning of this class, I've played with it and I now think that I can use it as an effective document sharing tool in my career. One of my absolute favorite parts of my PLN is Twitter. I have a personal one and an education based one. I love to get on the education one and read some of the articles and gain inspiration for my class.

I am by no means finished developing my PLN but I think that I'm heading in a good direction. I appreciate Dr. Strange pointing us in the right direction.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blog Assignment #14

Teacher Knows If You Have Done The E-Reading

In this article, David Streitfield discusses a fascinating new technology known as CourseSmart, which allows instructors to track their students' progress through digital textbooks. The technology monitors everything from the notes students are taking to how many times they "open" the textbook itself and compiles the information into what's known as an engagement index. The pros to this technology are that it allows educators another way to see which students are having trouble or just not putting forth any effort at all and adjust their lessons accordingly. And since all the data goes to the publishing companies that own the software, they're able to use it to create later editions of the textbooks. Like with all technology there are some cons, however. Engagement index scores could be lowered because students took notes on paper or there were technology glitches. Regardless of one's view of the technology, it's changing the way some instructors approach educating their students.

As a teacher, I like the concept of this technology. By viewing how each student is utilizing the textbook, I can determine whether or not it's a valuable tool in my lessons. It also lets me better understand how my students learn and which ones need to focus more or need further help. In a largely technological educational world where a teacher doesn't always see their students face to face, this could be a great tool to help measure understanding and the effectiveness of a lesson.

As I student, I agree with those interviewed. There simply isn't enough information provided by this software for it to be completely effective. I'm one of those students who doesn't always like the way the textbook presents the information and if I think I can learn better from my notes or other sources, I won't bother with the book at all. Also, I don't think how often I look at the textbook and the notes I may or may not take should  possibly effect my score or, potentially, the instructor's perspective of me.

The questions I would ask the instructor that was interviewed for the article would be:
1. What do you do with the data you collect from CourseSmart?
2. Have you changed the way you approached teaching certain lessons because of this technology?
3. Do you factor in the engagement index score as part of your students' grades?

The questions I would ask the students in his class would be:
1. Do you think you benefit from the data collected? And if so, in what ways?
2. Does knowing that your being monitored make you feel like you have to use your textbook more          often than you normally would otherwise?
3. Do you actively use your textbook more in order to increase your score?

Honestly, I think this software is a way for the publishers to market and validate making new additions of their books based on this "data". There are some benefits to knowing the study habits of one's students, but I think the emphasis on using the textbook is completely ridiculous and won't be effective in helping to improve the way instructor's educate.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

C4T #4

wooden desk with open books,an apple,and a vase of flowers on top

For this month's C4T I was assigned the blog At the Teacher's Desk. This blog is manned by a collaboration of teachers with the majority of the posts being made by Mr. William Chamberlain.

Interesting Student Observation About Peter Pan

In this post, Mr. Chamberlain talks about how his class had been discussing the 2003 movie version of Peter Pan. During this discussion he asked his students while Mr. Darling and Captain Hook are always played by the same actor. One of his students came up with the observation that because Mrs. Darling had given her secret kiss to Peter Pan, that he would naturally make Mr. Darling the villain of Neverland. Mr. Chamberlain then asserts that this is why sharing long term projects is so worthwhile, because it allows students to revisit the information and come to new and exciting conclusions. 

I love the idea of this project! It combines literature and film studies. In a day and age where most students would rather watch the movie, this project is invaluable. It helps assess the details of both the novel and different versions of films and why they are important to the meaning of the individual piece and the story as a  whole. I also, like the idea of having a long term class project with large worldwide audience because it allows the students to not only make their own observations and draw their own conclusions, but to feed off the observations and conclusions of those involved. 

Mr C, What Is A Real World Scenario?

In this post, Mr. Chamberlain describes an interesting he was asked by one of his students; what is a real world scenario? In order to answer this question, he completely revamped his math lesson in a way that allowed his students to figure it out in a hands-on manner. You see, Mr. Chamberlain wanted to go to a series of baseball games. He gave his students the dates of the games and specific criteria to figure out what would be the cost for him to go on this trip. What he noticed upon giving this assignment was that his students were really engaged and seemed to enjoy the project immensely. They liked it so much that they did a subsequent project focusing on a trip to a destination of their choosing.

I really like how Mr. Chamberlain engaged his students in hands-on learning and that he did it in such a unique way. Instead of solving irrelevant problems out of a textbook, the student got to use their problem-solving skills and apply them to a real situation. Now if only I can figure out a way to do this for English.......

Side Note
At the Teacher's Desk is no longer a working blog. Mr. Chamberlain has moved all the old posts and will continue putting new ones on his blog #WmChamberlain.

C4K Summary for April

april written in purple with frogs holding umbrellas in front of it

Olivia's Post

Olivia is a 4th grader at Leopold Primary School in Victoria, Australia. Her blog post was about her Easter holiday. I have to say, she writes exceptionally well! She described her family's trip to Melbourne and the hotel they stayed at. She also talked about how she blogged during her break. To me, that was amazing! A student who enjoys a class tool so much that she does it on her own time warms the heart of my inner teacher to know end. =) My comments to her said that I enjoyed reading her blog and I asked her what the Easter Bunny brought her in her Easter eggs. I also complemented her on her writing and told her to keep up the good work. I foresee a bright future for her.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blog Assignment #13

stacked books with graduation cap on top with computer mouse connected to the stack

Back To The Future

Brian Crosby is a 4th grade teacher at Agnes Risley Elementary School and author of the blog Learning is Messy. He posted a video of his presentation at TEDx in Denver where he discussed the activities of his class. What is so interesting about that? Well, Mr. Crosby was presented with an interesting challenge in his students.....

Mr. Crosby's class the year this particular school year was made up of  over 90% of students that English was there second language. Upon giving a survey in the first week of school that asked questions such as "What is your phone number?" and "What country do you live in?", he discovered that there was a disconnect between these students and what others had been trying to teach them . So, how did he address this problem? He used technology to engage his students.

Each student had a laptop and their own blog. When the class learned about the atmosphere, they did more than just read the textbook; they did a bunch of different hands-on projects, one of which was building a hot air balloon that went up over 100,000 feet! So what did they do next? Well, they embedded videos of the activities and what they learned from them into their blogs. Then they went into the history of ballooning and after that made a Wiki webpage. Then, they wrote stories as if they were the balloons. As yet another facet of this project, the students had to write high hopes for their community, themselves, and for the world and put them on "Stratocards" which went up in the balloon and when it came back they put pictures of themselves on it and part of the balloon. These were also put on their blogs. The responses to them were amazing! Other people from around the world started posting their high hopes and the students found out about world events that weren't covered by the news.

All I can say is wow! Mr. Crosby astounds me. He took what should have been a HUGE challenge of a class and managed to not only engage his students, but to also get them a worldwide audience. One of the things I love is that he took one project and expanded it to encompass a myriad of different subjects all the while having his students cultivate a learning network for themselves. Not only did they learn though, so did he, which to me is one of the most important aspects of being an educator.

Blended Learning Cycle

Mr. Paul Anderson is an AP Biology teacher in Bozeman, Montana. In his video, Blended Learning Cycle he discusses the strategy he uses in his classroom. To start, blended learning is taking parts from online, mobile, and classroom based learning styles and blending them together. The learning cycle is made up of what is known as the five Es: Engage, Explore, Explain, Expand Evaluate. Mr. Anderson combines the two to create the Blended Learning Cycle. His Blended Learning Cycle can be described by the acronym QUIVERS.

The cycle begins with very good Question. This question can be described as the "hook"; it's something that really gets the students' interest. The next phase is Investigation/Inquiry. The students experiment and investigate the topic being taught. Then there's Video. The method Mr. Anderson uses is podcasting. This frees up the instructor to review and allows the students to learn independently instead of listening to a lecture. Next is Elaboration. This is the time when the teacher can go into further detail about the subject. Maybe they can assign some further readings etc. to help really explain and really get into the nitty-gritty parts of the topic being discussed. Then comes Review. In this step, Mr. Anderson meets with his students individually or in small groups and asks them questions to check their understanding. They can't go on to the final step of the cycle until he's certain they know what they're talking about. The last part of the Blended Learning Cycle is Summary quiz. This step simply tests them on their knowledge of all of the other steps. After several of these cycles, the students then have a unit test on all of the material covered within those cycles.

I've always been a fan of independent learning, but I've never really known how to apply it to a middle/high school setting. After watching this video, I now know how. I love how Mr. Anderson breaks independent student learning into a sort of formula. This way, he can make sure that the students get the information they need to know and can easily see what (if any) areas need to be worked on. I fully intend to use some form of this method in my classroom.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Progress Report on Final Project

So far, Aries groups has met to discuss the details of our final project. We've decided the format and what topics we would like to address. We made a detailed outline of what each member would talk about in her portion of the video and set up a meeting time for next week to actually film the video. We've had a little trouble with scheduling since we all have class, work, and other campus activities that we're involved in, and we decided to meet during our scheduled class time.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blog Assignment #12

little girl with pigtails trying to figure out what to write

Make Your Own 

For this week's assignment, Dr. Strange asked us to create our own assignment in our field of study. At first, I was super nervous. How can I figure out a project of my own? Then I got excited! This is what being a teacher is all about, creating our own assignments. I'm a Secondary Ed/Language Arts major, so naturally my assignment will reflect that. 

For my assignment, I would have my students visit a site called The Story Starter. This site randomly generates over 3 million prompts. Once they have found a prompt, I would have them write the beginning of  a short story (at least 2 paragraphs) based on that prompt. 

Here's my shot at it......

The nervous radio announcer scribbled a note in a broken elevator for the hunter. When he started his search for his long-lost family, he never would've dreamed it would come to this. As he contemplated the contents of his note, he looked back on how his journey began.

Greg was just your average guy. In his late thirties, he was a loner by nature and that was how he liked. He wasn't completely alone though. He did have a cat, Rufus, who lived with him in his one bedroom apartment above the radio studio where he worked. You see, Greg was the weather announcer for the local AM channel and he took his job very seriously; maybe a little too seriously for a local, daytime show. Like I said before, Greg was a loner. An orphan from the time he was born, he had no family to speak of and no friends either for that matter. So, it was a complete shock when a letter came from someone claiming to be his elder brother and begging for his help. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Blog Assignment #11

two hands shaking from through two computer screen

Ms. Cassidy's Classroom

Ms. Cassidy is a first grade teacher in Moose Jaw, Canada. What makes her classroom somewhat unique is her implementation of technology. She has her students blogging, creating Wikis, Skyping with other classes and experts, just to name a few! One of the more innovative uses for technology she has is the use of the Ninetendo DS and the game "Nintendog". What can students learn from a video game, you may ask? Well, in Ms. Cassidy's class, a whole lot! The students are divided up into groups and must take of their virtual dog together. The purpose of this project builds strong leadership and teamwork skills.

In my own classroom I think I would use some of Ms. Cassidy's techniques. I have become a huge fan of blogging in the classroom and the networks it builds. Using the blog as an online portfolio (like we do in this class) of the students' work is also wonderful. I love that it would help not only myself and parents track progress, but also the students themselves. Giving students an audience is also a huge appeal for me with blogging. By the time a student reaches high school most of them feel like they've been writing for forever and they're sick of having to write just to gain the approval of some lady behind a desk. By having them write on a blog, they're work becomes open to literally the whole world and it's comments.

Another tool I would like to implement would be Skype. Almost everyone in this day and age knows how to use Skype (especially teenagers!). I've always enjoyed having experts come and speak on various topics that  we were learning in school but this isn't always practical and can sometimes be expensive! Having a professional present through Skype makes it easier for educators to gain access and for the speaker to be comfortable with their surroundings. Skyping with other classrooms allows students and teachers to build networks around the world. It also gives students a better idea of why it's important for them to learn what is being taught and see what others are learning as well.

I think there are a couple of obstacles that could be encountered by using these approaches. A big one would be student disinterest. If the students aren't engaged, then the tools (no matter how innovative and cool) are still ineffective. So my task would be to find topics and speakers on those topics that are interesting or to let the students explore the Internet and let them discover the things that interest them.

Another problem would be administration inflexibility. We all know that some people are opposed to change, no matter the potential benefits. If the principal opposes to this approach I would talk to him or her and hopefully be able to win them over.

C4T #3

"At the Teacher's Desk" is a collaborative blog that emphasizes professional learning and the sharing of ideas among educators.

They Had To Fail To Prepare For Success

In this post Mr. William Chamberlain discusses how he had assigned a group project to his class and had let them work on it one there own for several days. At the end of this time period, when they were supposed to present, none of them were ready to present. They had been pretending to complete the task instead of actually working on it.

Mr. Chamberlain takes the teaching approach of the students asking each other for help when they need it. That approach didn't work in this case because none of the groups really knew what they were doing. This wasn't due to lack of ability or inadequate instruction. It more so had to do with the fact that the students didn't pay attention and thought they could figure it out themselves. After this incident, Mr. Chamberlain simply redirected his students back to their work and watched as they finally worked together. His only question now was if they would remember the lesson or repeat the same mistake in the future.

When I first read the title of this post I was very intrigued. Failing to prepare for success is an interesting concept but I understand the thought behind it. The students had to realize their mistakes in their learning techniques in order to fully grasp how to succeed. I feel it's important to recognize this about students and about ourselves. Not everything is going to work perfectly all the time. We need to realize what makes it fail on occasion, be able to correct the flaw, and appreciate what it taught us.

Why Blogging Isn't Transformative To Our Students Yet

This post references a post by Dr. Christ McGee in his blog Coaching in and out of the Classroom about the importance of blogging. The gist is that blogging in the classroom isn't as effective as it could be because many educators don't grasp the concept fully. The main problem is that confuse a "large audience" with an "authentic audience". An authentic audience is one that wants to read the material being written. Most teachers don't develop this with students because that would require them to give up control of what their students read, what they comment, and if they participate at all. The connects they make could lead to a better world for future generations, but teachers must be careful not to repress these through a lack of understanding.

I completely agree with Dr. McGee! However, I know that I may have a hard time practicing this. Giving up assignment control in a classroom goes against a lot of my basic thoughts of teaching. That being said, I think that if I can implement it correctly, it will benefit my future students in ways untold and that will be worth it for me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

C4K Summary for March

march spelled in purple letters with flowers at the bottom

Riley's Post

Riley is an 8th grader in Iowa. He wrote about how he feels blogging is an important way to meet new people. I commented that I agree with him completely. You never know what kinds of cultures and different personality types you open yourself up to by blogging. I also asked him what other things he had learned from blogging. 

Cody's Post

Cody is a 6th grader in Australia. His post was a follow up to a previous post on cyber bullying. He gave the definition of cyber bullying and methods to stop it if it's happening to you or someone you know. I commented that I thought it was great that he could now recognize cyber bullying and I asked him what he would do if he were ever put in that situation.

Kayla's Post

Kayla is in Mrs. Lentine's class. Their school recently had two autistic visitors who showed a movie about their lives and then answered some questions via a translation writing tool. Her post was a thank you letter to these visitors. She wrote about how much she enjoyed their visit and complemented them on different skills that they exhibited. My comment to her was that I was really glad she enjoyed their visit so much and I asked what her favorite part of the movie was.

Kayla K's Post

Kayla is an 8th grader in Mr. Boylen's Language Arts class in Iowa. Her post was a horror story she had written. In the story, the main character gets home from school to find all sorts of strange things going on, including her grandmother in yoga gear! I commented that I really enjoyed her story and asked her where she got her inspiration.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Project #12

Blog Assignment #10

The above cartoon is from the blog, Adventures in Pencil Integration by John T. Spencer. It's describing, and somewhat making fun of, two different brands of pencils commonly used in schools. A Papermate pencil is just like the guy pictured, dumpy and safe. It's cheap but they ALWAYS break. A Ticonderroga pencil, on the other hand, is a very expensive, but good pencil. They aren't as popular because of their cost so the hipsters buy them to avoid being "mainstream". 

Adventures in Pencil Integration

The blog Adventures in Pencil Integration is a satirical comment on the trials and tribulations of trying to implement changes to education. It takes place during the Industrial Revolution; a time when schools where becoming more urbanized. It follows the story of the educator Mr. Johnson as he tries to get a pencil into the hand of every student in his school. 

In the post The Con Academy, a man comes in advertising a new style of "teaching". He claims it is flipping the classroom and will be a more effective way of reaching every student with every lesson. In reality, this method is nothing more than a bunch of worksheets designed to aid lazy instructors. It sounds so good on the surface that the principal agrees to it over the objections of Mr. Johnson. 

The main message of this post is that what may seem like the easiest way to instruct is not always the best. These sure fire methods usually tend to stifle the most important thing that educators teach..creativity. Easy learning may seem like a blessing in disguise but it is in fact what Mr. Johnson thinks it is, a Trojan Horse. 

Don't Teach Your Kids This, Please?

Scott McLeod is the Director of Innovation at Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency in Iowa. He's considered an expert on paving the way for technology in K-12 schools. He is also the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). His blog, Dangerously Irrelevant discusses technology and leadership in schools today. 

In the post Don't Teach Your Kids This, Please?, Mr. McLeod sarcastically asks parents, teachers, administrators, etc. to not teach kids today about technology. He asks that they just keep doing what they're doing and not change. He concludes with the thought that he's asking this because this IS what he's teaching his students and he wants to see who has it easier in the years to come. 

I agree with Mr. McLeod. While technology shouldn't be the only focus in the classroom, it's an extremely important part of learning. It's important for students to not only master use of it, but for them to master the skills that technology can learn from the use of technology (i.e. collaboration, creativity, working in the public eye). 

Project #14

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blog Assignment #9

scrap of paper with a paper clip in the upper left corner and the writing mr mcclung's world

Mr. McClung is an assistant principal at Leverett Elementary School in Arkansas. He is also the author of the blog, Mr. Clung's World  which talks about the events in the elementary school and also presents many useful insights into education. I encourage everyone to check it out!

What I Learned This Year - Volume 4

In this post, Mr. McClung discusses what he learned from his fourth year as an educator. He stated that he hadn't learned as much as thought. Instead of a bunch of little lessons, he instead focused on two main themes: "You Gotta Dance With Who You Came to Dance With" and "Challenge Yourself".

The first theme emphasizes his hard-earned knowledge that you can't worry about what your fellow educators think about you and your teaching methods. The only thing that matters is that your students are having fun while learning. As long as your answer to that is "yes", then don't change yourself or your methods based on the thoughts of others.

The next theme is pretty self-explanatory. Don't get stuck in a rut with methods or lesson plans. As an educator, you must always allow for creativity and challenge yourself. If you get too comfortable with yourself, then your students suffer.

I, for one, couldn't agree more with these thoughts! I struggle with the preoccupation of what others may think, but that isn't the main goal of being an educator. My main focus HAS to be on my students and keeping them engaged. If I let myself become focused on other things then my students will ultimately suffer. As for challenging myself, I hope I never cease to do that. Over the course of my education I have had too many teachers that are all too content to use lesson plans and methods that haven't been updated since they started. In those classes I would struggle because I was of the mindset of why should I care if they don't? Like I've said before, keeping students engaged is key and I hope to always do that.

What I've Learned This Year 

This particular reflective post is from Mr. McClung's first year of teaching. He had many things that I would expect a first year teacher to learn such as how to read a crowd, be flexible, don't be afraid of technology, and lastly never stop learning. The main point I believe he is trying to convey with this post is that it's important as an educator to be able to roll with the punches. Most things won't work out how you want them to, no matter how perfectly you plan them.Constant learning and flexibility are crucial skills for an educator to have and I plans to always posses both.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blog Assignment #8

Teaching is the art of assisting discovery

This Is How We Dream: Parts 1 & 2

Richard E. Miller is an instructor at Rutgers University and he discusses the change of our culture from one that reads and writes to one that listens and watches in his presentation This is How We Dream.  He begins his presentation with the thought that he began his career with the wish to work with books. This led to him actually writing a book that, as he put it, went the way of all academic books; it's now out of print and for sale on Amazon for 59 cents.

He then begins discussing what he calls "incremental changes". The first of these being that we don't research and write papers strictly in the dusty stacks of university libraries anymore. We carry around our laptops and have access to infinite amounts of information on any given subject. The documents that are created from this can either go the way of most prints, that is be circulated and eventually thrown away, and/or they can be put on the web where they survive forever. The next incremental change is using networking and creating documents that are not only textual, but include auto and visual elements as well. These elements don't have to be things from the past, however. Mr. Miller used the example of the election results in the most recent presidential race. We were able to see polling results as they came in and also almost instantaneously view news reports of said results.

Mr. Miller discusses the many different way in which students can compose. He surmises that there will eventually be a shift from students composing with word processor to them creating with the digital tools that he described. Fundamentally, the presentation of the Humanities must change. Attention needs to be paid to the "auditory details" of presentations.

This presentation was amazing! The future of education is a bright one indeed, especially for a future Language Arts teacher like myself. The use of multimedia tools is so fascinating. Composing will hopefully become something that students become engaged in because they are able use elements that are stimulating. There is so much to this developing method of teaching and I can't wait to learn more about it!

Carly Pugh

Wow. That's the first thought that comes to mind after viewing Carly's blog post. Her passion for teaching and learning are extremely evident. I am in love with her ideas and views because they reflect my own. The assignment for her post was to create an assignment for EDM 310. She came up with the idea to create a playlist of YouTube videos that reflect the subject matter you would teach and that could be useful in your classroom. This is precisely the type of activity that Mr. Miller describes in his presentation. Carly takes subject matter that would for the most part is dreaded by students and found videos that make them engaging and fun. The stories and ideas become alive in these presentations and stimulate the viewer in ways that simply lecturing about the same material wouldn't be able to.

EDM 310 Is Different

The videos EDM 310 for Dummies and The Chipper Series outline important topics needed in EDM 310. They were both hilarious! The Dummies video depicted the frustration I have felt about this class perfectly. It would be awesome to have a Dummies guide for quick references sometimes. If I were to create a video, I think it would be on organization and procrastination. My biggest problem is underestimating the amount of time it takes to complete a project and then I end up not doing my best on it. It's a habit that many students have and one that they may have trouble breaking. A video suggesting skills to get past this would be very helpful!

Learn To Change, Change To Learn

This video challenges the elements of what I would call a "traditional" classroom where students sit and listen to lecture. Teaching by rote memorization of facts and the right/wrong answer model are antiquated methods of the past. Social networking and technology as a whole have created a generation of students who learn more outside of the classroom than they do in it. Students must be taught not what the right answer is, but rather how to find the right answer or create a better answer. One educator said that he looks forward to the death of education and the birth of learning.

I couldn't agree more with these points. Students most definitely need to be able to be free thinkers, not just robots. Creativity is KEY to them becoming successful individuals. School needs to become so much more flexible and be able to adapt better to the times. Rows of desks and chalkboards are out of date. Social media, podcasts, project-based learning, and networking are all elements that must become incorporated in education today.

Scavenger Hunt 

Social Platform For Teachers, Students, and Parents
A tool that fits this description is called Edmodo. The format is very similar to Facebook and offers a wealth of information. This could be used to come up with new ideas and collaborate with other educators. It also provides an easy way to post assignments and quizzes. It's also a way to stay organized. In a world of laptops and cell phones rather than pencil and paper, it's always a great thing to have access to calendars and other things online.

Comic Strip

This tool is so user friendly. It allows the easy creation of slide slows. To get started, you upload your pictures to the site. Don't like the order? No problem. You just drag and drop to rearrange. Then you add a title and some music and captions to the pictures. Some of the special features include the ability to create interactive quiz slides, set the privacy level of your slide show, and have others comment to share their thoughts and opinions. 

C4T #2

yellow fire hydrant spraying water with the quote gathering information from the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant

Jenny Luca is the Director of eLearning and ITC at Toorak College in Australia. She has a passion for learning how technology can be applied to the educational setting. Her blog, Lucacept , is all about her "intercepting the Web" and sharing her knowledge with others.

School's Out Friday #1

Ms. Luca posted about an upcoming series of YouTube videos made by author John Green and his brother called Mental Floss. John Green is a popular Young Adult novelist who's books are known for their thought-provoking life lessons cleverly woven into what a very well-written story. The videos of Mental Floss are full of random and quirky facts that are meant to inform as well as entertain and engage. Ms. Luca goes on to share in this post that she recently sent out her 20,000 tweet. Wow! She addresses that some people think Twitter is a waste of time, but that this couldn't be more wrong. Twitter is an invaluable resource that allows users access to a wealth of knowledge.

I was very excited when I saw that Ms. Luca was also interested in John Green. He is a fabulous author and a great thinker. His novels are the type that have a myriad of different audiences without coming off as forced. I agree with Ms. Luca on her view of Twitter. Since I started this class, it has become more than just a place to read about what people are eating and veiled references to heartbreaks. It has become a tool that I can use in my career that will allow me to view ideas I wouldn't otherwise be able to.

School's Out Friday #2

This post focused on a video by Adam Leipzig called How to Know Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes. In this video, Mr. Leipzig says there are 5 questions we need to ask ourselves in order to discover our purpose in life:
      1.Who are you?
      2. What do you do?
      3. What do you do it for?
      4. What do people want or need?
      5. How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?
Ms. Luca recently presented a conference on what we as educators are preparing our students for. She stated that sharing her knowledge has become her life purpose and that she hopes she is teaching educators how to better prepare their students for the future.

Mr. Leipzig's video was wonderful and I suggest that everyone watch it. It really made me think about what I'm doing with my life and how best to do that. It's a scary thought; knowing that we have to prepare our students for the unknown. Within the video, Mr. Leipzig suggests that successful people focus on who they serve and how to make them happy. I think if we can impart some knowledge of this skill onto our students, then we ourselves will be successful educators.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blog Assignment #7

Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. He is most famous for his last speech which was given shortly before he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. What's so great about this speech you ask? Well, it addresses childhood dreams and they ways to achieve them.

In this speech he describes how he achieved his own childhood dream and how it became so important to him to help others fulfill there's as well. He also tells of the importance of having fun, doing the unthinkable, helping others, and getting through seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

One of the things that struck me the most was his statement that brick walls are there in our lives for a reason. They're present to show us how bad we want something. It is far too easy to come to a wall and say well something's in my way and that's that. It takes far more willpower, patience, and perseverance to figure out a way to either climb that wall or go through it. I think as educators it is important for us to instill these values within our students. That no matter how hard or impossible it may seem to get what we want, we must always be willing to try our best to achieve it. If it's worth it then they must do anything they can for it.

Another important lesson Mr. Pausch teaches is that we can't always get to our goals alone. Sometimes we need help. I couldn't agree more. I feel it is a very important skill to be able to recognize when we need help and be able to ask for it. We must encourage our students to do this as well and to not be ashamed of it. A lot of times kids don't ask for help because they fear being ridiculed. We must make sure that our classrooms are places where students feel comfortable enough to come to us with any of their questions or concerns.


For my Personal Learning Network, or PLN, I've chosen to use Symbaloo. I don't know all the ends and outs of the site yet and I'm not quite sure what all I need to put on it. I'm sure with a little time and practice I'll get the hang of it all though.

C4K Summary for February

IBAdam's Post

IBAdam is a student in Mr. Cometti's 9th grade World History class. His assignment was to create a post on what he thought people during the World War I would put on YouTube. He mentioned all sorts of events of the era such as the atomic bomb and women's rights. He also made the point that there would be things unrelated to the war, such as cat videos, much like today. I commented that I had always been interested in WWI and asked him what he found particularly fascinating about the time.

Trent W's Post

Trent is a 2nd grader in Mrs. Balenstrin's class in Ontario, Canada. For his blog post, he wrote about an exciting hockey game that he played in. He told the story of how they won the game and got pizza afterward. I commented that his game sounded exciting and asked what kind of pizza they ate after.

Gloria's Post

Gloria is a year 6 student in Miss. King's class at Pt England School in New Zealand. Her latest post was on her trip to the beach over their holiday. She described her adventures building a sandcastle and burying her little brother in the sand. I commented and told her about how I live near a beach and love to go. I also asked if they used anything to decorate their sandcastle.

Forrest's Post

Forrest is a 10th grade student at Baldwin County High School. He posted about the ten lies that he thinks his school tells the students. They included a range of concerns from having a drug and weapon free environment to not being able to chew gum in class and being in uniform. I told him that maybe these weren't lies necessarily but rather what administrators thought the ideal environment would be like. I also asked him which of these he was the most concerned with. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Finding the Right Tool

Thumb Scribes logo

As a future Secondary Ed/Language Arts teacher, I believe it is important for students to be able to write creatively. Through my searching, I found a website, called ThumbScribes, that lets writers from around the world collaboratively create poems and short stories.
 They can do this in one of two ways:
1. You can contribute to a posting that someone else has already submitted and placed in the public gallery.
2. You can upload your own poem or short story and either place it in the public gallery or invite others to    collaborate with you. 
If the submissions are put in the public gallery, anyone can add to them. If you don't want anyone to be able to do that, then you can mark the poem as private and invite others to collaborate with you. 

I would use this site in my classroom to foster student creativity. I would also use it as a tool to illustrate the significance of a worldwide audience. 

Blog Assignment #6

cartoon pen and ink drawings of a boy and a computer

The Networked Student

This video by Wendy Drexler describes the experiences of a student studying American Psychology. Instead of the traditional style of class that includes a textbook and a teacher who just lectures, his class is a networked one. His teacher believes in connectivism; which is the belief that learning comes from a connection of different networks and other social ties. The student must create his own learning network using various "tools of technology". The emphasis is not on the tools, however, but on the connections that are made possible through use of these tools. If the student must find ways to learn himself then why does the class need a teacher you ask?

Well, the teacher is the one who instructs the student on how to build his network. She is there to show how to appropriately and respectfully ask questions. She is the one who helps when he gets stuck and offers encouragement and praise when necessary.

I was excited about this concept. I have always thought that teachers should show students how to think for themselves and be able to take advantage of the tools around them. Teachers should be what my sister, who is also a teacher, calls "guides on the side" instead of a "sage on the stage". In other words, we should help our students and let them learn on their own instead of just spoon-feeding them information. I personally think that I could find a way to use this in my own classroom.

Personal Learning Environment

In this video a 7th grade student describes her online Personal Learning Environment. This is an online work space in which she has everything she needs to be a successful student. She has links to specific sites and tools that help her complete work that either the teacher has assigned or that she feels she needs to work on herself. Some of these tools are her personal blog and social bookmarking sites which allow her to share URLs from helpful websites with other students.

Her PLE is not that much different from this class's PLN. We both have certain agendas that we need to follow and the online tools to help us achieve those. We also both take advantage of the tools provided by Google such as Google Docs. A lot of our learning is also dependent upon ourselves.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Sentence Movie

Blog Assignment #5

red cartoon schoolhouse

If I Built A School

Krissy Venosdale teaches gifted education and embraces the use of creativity to the fullest. Her blog, Venspired, is all about creativity and creating a dynamic learning environment for her students. One of her blog posts, If I Built A School, describes what Mrs. Venosdale would do if she were to build a school of her own. It would be a school filled with color and innovative learning. She even would have a tree house in the library! I thought all of her ideas were wonderful and I wish I had been able to attend a school like that.

If I were to build a school of my own, I would want it to be a comfortable place that children would enjoy attending. The class rooms would have coffee house style chairs and tables so students would be comfortable while they learned. The halls would be filled with vibrant colors and inspirational posters. The library would resemble that of Hogwarts. The science labs would be stocked with the latest equipment and the students would do fun and practical experiments often. The curriculum wouldn't be based on some arbitrary standardized test but on fun and practical life skills. Above all, I would want the students to enjoy coming to school and furthering their education.

Virtual Choir

A composer and conductor named Eric Whitacre came up with an odd but brilliant idea to create a virtual choir. This is a choir where different singers from around the world submit videos of themselves singing certain parts (soprano, alto etc.) of the song Lux. These people had never met, and yet the final product was breathtaking! I feel like this idea could have so many possibilities for the future of education. Teachers could have students collaborate with other schools around the country and the world to create projects.

Teaching in the 21st Century

In the video Teaching in the 21st Century, Kevin Roberts discusses the challenges that are presented to educators teaching today. Students are able to acquire information at the drop of a hat, so what is our role as teachers? Roberts asserts that it our job to teach them how to use this information, to show them how to apply these things to their everyday lives. They must be shown how to correctly use the technology available to them. Above all, it is our job to engage our students not to entertain them. Entertainment is fleeting, but teaching a student to be engaged lasts a lifetime.

I feel that Roberts is correct in his assertions. Times are changing and the ways students view the world are too. We, as teachers, need to show students how to be responsible with today's technology. How do we do this? We do this by using these tools ourselves. If we demonstrate the correct skills and engage our students in learning them, then we have given them their best chance to succeed.

Flipping the Classroom

A flipped classroom is one in which a teacher records lecture videos that students watch outside of class. The teachers are then able to better to instruct and engage their students during the class period. I like this idea of teaching. However, I don't know how it would work for someone teaching Language Arts. This approach seems to be more based on subjects such as Math and the Sciences that require a more practical application. I don't see myself using this approach.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Project #5 Presentation

C4T #1

Jabiz Raisdana's Post Tell Me the Story of My Life 

Jabiz Raisdana is an English teacher and IT coach at Sinarmas World Academy. In his post Tell Me the Story of My Life, he tells about he chose a Photo of the Day everyday for a year and posted them on Flickr. He goes beyond just wanting people to look at them and think "Oh what great pictures!" He wants the viewer to be inspired by them to write a song or a poem or a short story. Whatever their creative juices move them to do. All he asks is that if they do this they send whatever they create back to him and then share the photos with others. He is excited to see what others will tell him about his life; no matter how random the thought, he feels that it may kindle a flame in someone else.

I really thought this idea was a great one! To use the experiences of your life to inspire others and then have them tell what they think is your story back to you. We, as educators, strive to inspire just as Jabiz does. Instead of doing it through lectures and words, however, he does it through beautiful photos.

Jabiz Raisdana's Post Community, Content, and Commodity

In this post, Jabiz discusses the problem with sharing personal work on sights such as Instagram and Facebook. He personally doesn't mind others viewing and using his work as long as they attribute it to the appropriate place. The problem is that Facebook and other such sites take one's work and profit from it themselves. This being said, he values the communities that are built on the Internet and that we should have a say in when and how they're shared. He's promoting that we, as Internet users, don't build these communities on just one site. We need to branch out and build many of them.

I couldn't agree more with his thoughts on online communities. They are an important part of our culture. It horrifies me that they be exploited for profit and I hope that if/when we discover they are, we have the courage to rebuild our community in another place.

Blog Assignment #4

black microphone on a yellow background with iPod headphones attached

Podcasting and Education 

For this week's assignment we were asked to looks at some posts on podcasts from Langwitches, a website made by Ms. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. Ms. Tolisano teaches her students how to create podcasts, but it is not the mastery of the technology that is emphasized. It's the life skills that can be learned from creating the podcasts themselves. These sessions have taught first graders to be confident, to embrace their creativity, and most of all to have fun in the classroom.

While listening to the podcasts, I was pleasant surprised by the kids' performances. They made their scripts come alive with animated reading voices and fun sound effects. I could tell that they really enjoyed themselves.

From reading these, I learned some valuable tips for our own podcast assignment. While I had planned on writing a script, I had thought just to read from it while recording. Now I'm thinking it might be better to NOT read from the script but to instead memorize what I'm going to say. This way it'll sound more natural. I also took away that I need to be expressive with my voice. No one will want to listen if you're voice is monotone and they aren't entertained on some level.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Special Blog Post #1

computer hard drive


After doing the Wolfram Alpha search for the populations of China, India, and the United States, I found that in comparison, our country is tiny! There are 309 million people in the United States. Seems like a lot right? Wrong! China has 1.35 billion people and India has 1.21 billion. In a square mile in the United States there are 87.3 people. Compare that to 1058 people per square mile in India and 376 in China, this country is down right roomy!

The next search I did was for the comparison of Coke and Pepsi sales and what I found surprised me. Pepsi Co. sells $65.7 billion worth of product a year while Coke only sells $47.6 billion in the same time span. This was astounding to me because I always thought that Coke was the bigger company and therefore sold more. 

For my third and final search I looked up the literacy rate for Iraq and the United States. These results were also surprising. For the United States our literacy rate is 99%. This is not surprising. In Iraq, however, the literacy rate is much lower at only 78.2%. This is representative of what different cultures view as priority. 

I think WolframAlpha could be useful to students in that it allows them to understand comparing and contrasting in a way that they are comfortable with since the format is that of your basic search engine. It also allow them to have a vast amount of all various types of data at their fingertips without having to sift through dozens of webpages and books. 

Gary Hayes Social Media Count 

The Social Media Count is a webpage that is a virtual ticker with tabs (Social, Mobile, Games, and Heritage) and the rates that different areas of these headings change over certain periods of time (Now, +1 day, +1 week, +1 month, and +1 year). When I pulled this webpage up, I just sat there and stared at it. I couldn't believe how fast these different things change!

This means that as an educator, I'm going to have to learn how to function in an ever-changing environment. I'll have to learn how to master new things not only well but quickly. It will definitely present some challenges in the years to come, but I'm hoping I'll be prepared for them! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blog Assignment #3

Peer Editing

Ever since middle school, I have been editing my fellow students' papers. It is a part of the academic process. What I didn't know was if I was doing it effectively. Even when I was a teacher aid in high school and would help grade papers, I didn't know what to say or how to say it.

After watching the videos and reviewing the slide show, I now have an idea of what to do. It's important to remember to positive when editing. It's too easy to focus on what someone did wrong and forget the good parts of  his or her work. I know I sometimes have a hard time with this, but I hope to improve upon it in the future.

Assistive Technologies

Before this assignment I didn't know there was even such a thing as a Mountbatten. What a great piece of technology! I'm looking forward to researching this great resource! I would use it in a classroom to help my students work on projects and assignments, whether alone or in groups. I hope that using this technology will make me a better educator.

After watching the assigned videos, I have a new understanding for the difficulty that visually and hearing impaired students have functioning in the classroom. Things that we take for granted are challenges for them. It is vital that we as future educators understand the importance of the technologies available to make learning a fun experience for them.

When I go out into the educational work force, I plan on finding a way to have access to every technology available to assist in the education of the visually and hearing impaired. I also don't want the other students to feel uncomfortable so I will try my hardest to make activities that require interaction with everyone

Vicki Davis

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts is a short video that shows teacher Vicki Davis' approach to teaching technology. Her approach is to utilize the interests of her students in order to make her class a more enriching experience. She is very big on the students finding things out themselves. For instance, if she uses a word that they might not know the definition of, she expects them to look it up themselves instead of her just telling them what it means.

I LOVE this approach to educating. Students should be taught to think for themselves. If they are just spoon fed information they will not be productive citizens when they leave our classroom. We will have produced a generation of people who expect information and all things in general to just be handed to them instead of going out and finding it themselves.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blog Assignment #2

Did You Know? 3.0

In this video Dr. Strange outlines the staggering educational gap between the United States and other countries. It also describes the staggering amount of technologies, such as computers and cell phones, used in the world today. There is an exorbitant amount of children who own cell phones in this day and age.

What struck me more than all the facts and figures were the thoughts at the end. The jobs that my future students will be competing for don't exist at this point in time. How am I, as their guide, supposed to help prepare them for something that is completely unknown? These thoughts had never occurred to me before. They will stay with me forever now and I hope that when I do go out into the educational world that I have a satisfactory answer to this question.

Mr. Winkle Wakes

Mr. Winkle Wakes is a very funny and cute video. I like the simplicity of it. After Mr. Winkle wakes from sleeping for a hundred years, he is bombarded with modern technology. Procedures in business and medicine have advanced quite a bit in recent years. When Mr. Winkle goes to the school, however, things haven't changed quite as much.

The basic format for school has been the same for decades. I can understand the comfort to be found in this. That day by day you know what will happen. You go, you learn (or pretend to), and you go home. But could this be a problem?

The Importance of Creativity 

Sir Ken Robinson explains the importance of the creativity within our children. His argument is that, generally, education stifles creativity. Students are taught that certain things are important such as math and science while things such as music and art are less so. Why the distinction? Because they can't get a job as a musician or artist so they shouldn't try to be one.

Another point Sir Robinson made is that education today trains students that they can never be wrong. Which, to me, is insane. In the words of Sir Robinson, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." I couldn't agree with this more. If the inventors of the past hadn't been willing to fail, none of the wonderful technologies would have been invented. Creativity is an important part of the learning process.

Winkle Revisited

As I stated before, the comfort that Mr. Winkle found in an unchanging school set-up could be signs of a problem. Why haven't most education systems changed for decades? Why is there this need to have things stay the way that they have always been?

Today, most schools create robots. You reason things this way because I'm telling you to. You think it should be another way? No. That's wrong and you can never be wrong. This is the thought process of many educators, but sometimes it's okay to be wrong, to maybe think a different way. Free thinking should be encouraged. That way we send creative and innovative individuals out into the world.


I already had a Pinterest account before this assignment and I absolutely love it. I love the idea of using it for educational purposes as well. There are so many ideas out there that others have implemented that can be shared. I never thought of having students use it for projects and other things of that nature. I think it could be useful in allowing them to collaborate with each other. I will definitely be implementing this in my future classroom.

After looking over the 20 Pinterest boards that show the uses for technology in education, I chose to follow all of them. I think their different ideas will help me enhance my classroom and hopefully make me a better teacher.

I think Pinterest will be a very helpful tool for my educational career. It will help me with organization and different ways of teaching what may present themselves as difficult subjects. It will also help me use new and creative ways to decorate my classroom. I think this is very important because the way a classroom is decorated can either be distracting or stimulating.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blog Assignment #1

Meet Me

Hi everyone. As you can tell by the header on my blog, my name is Sarah Lindley. I am a Secondary Education/Language Arts major at USA and I love it. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to teach. Since I love to read, I figured what better thing to do than teach what I love. The reason I chose to attend USA is that of all the other schools I visited, this place felt the most like home. Where is home, you may ask?

Well, I was born in Mobile but raised on the sunny beaches of Gulf Shores. No, this does not mean that I have a perpetual tan. I graduated salutatorian in a class of around 160. Gulf Shores is a town where everyone knows everyone else and they have for generations. While this may be comforting for some, I was ready to move on to bigger and better things.

 I am the youngest of four children. The unique thing about my situation is that there is an eleven year age difference between my closest sibling and me. There is an eighteen year difference from the eldest to me. This led to many people thinking she was my mom when I was baby. Obviously, they were wrong. Despite our age differences, my siblings and I are extremely close and I wouldn't have it any other way.

My Future Classroom

When I would first think about my future classroom, the thought that would come to mind would be a peaceful place with young adults sitting in neat rows eager to learn. Then reality sets in and I know that isn't going to happen. In actuality I will have to think of ways to keep my students engaged. Most will only be there because they have to be and they won't give a rat's behind about English.

In order to help keep them engaged I plan on getting them involved. Instead of having them sit there and listen to me lecture, I plan on having my students discuss things in groups. I will have activities that help them relate material that they may consider irrelevant to their daily lives.

I plan on assigning projects that will make learning fun. For example, when I was a senior in high school we studied the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. Once we had finished reading a few of them, my teacher had us write our own tales. Juvenile? That's what I thought at first, but as I began writing my story I began to have a new appreciation for the story written by Chaucer and the amount of creativity he possessed. I plan to implement such things so my students might come away from class with a new appreciation for literature.

I think the best way to describe my future classroom would be controlled chaos. I want my students to become alive and show their personalities while at the same time learning what they need to.

Randy Pausch and Time Management

What struck me right off the bat with this video was that Mr. Pausch said that Americans don't recognize time as a commodity. I couldn't agree more. I also liked what he said about having a plan. I'm like the people he described. I often don't make a plan because it will probably change, but after watching the video I realize that it's important to make the plan just so I'll have a point with which to start. I have a bad habit of procrastinating, but after watching this video I feel like I have some tools to help me combat that.