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.