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.