Sunday, May 6, 2012

Project #13

Google Docs

For Team Confused's Project #15 Collaboration we used Google Docs to share ideas with each other.  It worked out better than I thought it would.  Each of us picked a different color to write with to keep up with who was saying what.  I love how Google docs lets you see what someone is typing as they type.  It was hard not to meet face-to-face, but this was an acceptable alternative.  What made it even better is that we would get email updates whenever someone edited our document.  Even with Google Docs, I found that it was a pain to not be able to meet in person. I thought that added stress to this project that was unnecessary.

Final Self-Reflection

Sunday, April 29, 2012

PLN Final Summary

I have added a lot to my PLN since my last post. Many that I have added have been specific to my area (History).  Several that I have added including Wunderlist and Evernote were suggested by one of my C4T assignments.  I feel like it will continue to expand as I meet more people and do a little more exploring on the web.  Of course, when I actually begin teaching, I feel some will be discarded and some will be more useful than others.  I see this as my Teacher's Resource Guide.  Maybe we should change the name from PLN to TRS? My favorite add was the Center for Teaching History with Technology website. I feel like it is a perfect fit for my field and what I have learned in this class.

C4T #4 Summary Post

C4T #3
Peoplegogy Blog

At first, I did not understand why this is a C4T assignment.  Although W.H. Dayemport, the creator of the blog, is a Ed Doctoral Candidate, he is not the author of all the posts on his blog.  He uses this blog to allow other PHD candidates, teachers, etc... to make posts about their experience with teaching, continuing education (in any subject area), and technology (among other things).  The posting I commented (posted Saturday, April 14) was from a Ph.D candidate named Eva Lantsoght entitled "Doctoral Confessions."  She shares her "adventures" in obtaining her doctorate in Civil Engineering.  While this is not a post concerning teaching or education, I found it helpful to read about her process as a student. She is balancing her dissertation work while being a TA (among other responsibilities).  I really didn't know how to comment, other than to thank her for being open and honest about her experience. I explained that I was planning on continuing my education up to the doctorate level someday and that I knew I would share her challenges. I wrote:
Hello, Eva!
I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. I am currently working on getting my undergraduate degree in Secondary Education/History there, but I plan on going as far as I can with my education. I enjoyed reading about your experience with a doctorate program. Although my program will be much different from Civil Engineering, I know that I may encounter the same challenges with time management, pressure to perform, and juggling everyday life and other obligations with doctoral studies. Thank you again for sharing your experiences! Good luck with the rest of your studies and congratulations on your coming wedding!
Jessica Bonner
Jessica's EDM310 Blog

C4T #4
Dissertation update by W.H Deyamport

In this post, Mr. Dayamport posts a video of him updating us on how his dissertation is coming along. He is conducting an action research study on Twitter.  He describes some of the process of doing this research and the ups-and-downs of it.  He also talks about how excited he is to become "Dr. Will."  This is my reply:

Hello Mr. Deyamport!
I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I have been following your blog as a part of an ongoing assignment for this class. Your dissertation topic concerning Twitter seems to go right along with this class. We have been studying how to use media like Twitter in our classrooms and as a tool for Professional Development to connect us with other educators and mentors around the world. I know you are excited about your research (and the conclusion of it). Good luck with the rest of your journey on the way to being "Dr. Will," and thank you for sharing your blog!
Cartoon says It's time to move out when mom says no tv until you finish your dissertation

Blog Post #13

E-Media Fast

Twitter and Facebook logos crossed out
This week's assignment is to go on a 24-hour "Media Fast."  That means no cell phone, computer, iPods or even TV.  I figured that this assignment wouldn't be hard on a busy day (like my day yesterday).  Since I wasn't at home to use my computer or watch TV (I don't have a smartphone), I had no problem with those.  However, my husband and I don't own a landline.  I don't even know where I would go to use a regular phone since most of the people I call (i.e. my family) are long distance. My husband's cell phone is a company phone with a Birmingham number, therefore even calling him would be long distance.  I will have to admit that I used my phone yesterday but only twice: one to find out a time for dinner with friends and the other to find out where our friends decided to go eat. Each was a text message.  I hope that doesn't count as skirting the assignment, but my conclusion is that I would be completely isolated without my cell phone.  There is no other form of communication for me (if I have no computer access).
I don't think I could have done this assignment on any other day.  Because it was a Saturday and I had a lot of social events planned where I would be with people face-to-face, I didn't miss the social offerings of the computer as much.  I don't think I could have done it during the week, though.  My husband works long hours; and most of our friends/family are in Birmingham or are people we don't see much during the week.  My real connections to others are through social media (Facebook & Twitter), Skype, email, and text messaging.  If you take those away, you might as well throw me on Gilligan's Island.
I think this relates to my future students because in the same way that I don't want to be "unplugged" I know that they don't either. Technology is just as much a part of their lives as it is mine... and probably more.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Final Project Progress- Team Confusion

paint bucket decorated that says teacher survival kit

Our group has been using a Google Doc to do all of our collaborating.  We each write in a different, specified color when editing this document. We talked about a few options for our final project.  I think we want to include some type of demonstration on how to use several of the tools we have learned in EDM 310 (Twitter, Skype, SmartBoard), but we also want to incorporate a survival guide element to it.  We have a few other things up our sleeves (but we have to ask Dr. Strange first).  Everyone has offered really good suggestions; we just need to figure out how to incorporate all the ideas into a cohesive project. The two ideas that I think we all somewhat agree on so far are incorporating the SmartBoard into some type of survival guide video. I think that is pretty good progress.  Deciding the direction to go in is the hardest part to me.  Also, our group seems to communicate easily with each other and are all very agreeable and flexible.

Team Confusion- Alex Mayfield, Erika Conn, Ariel Robinson, and Jessica Bonner

Creativity and Curiosity: My Thoughts- Special Post #12A

Creativity, Curiosity, and Education
picture with book background that has quote from Albert Einstein that says I have no special talents I am only passionately curious
For part of Blog Post #2 in only the third week of EDM 310 (when we had NO CLUE what we were getting into), Dr. Strange had us watch a video lecture by Sir Ken Robinson entitled "The Importance of Creativity."  In this video, Sir Robinson implies that the current education system undermines and even discourages creativity and curiosity in students by seeking only the "right" answer and discouraging "wrong" answers.  I would have to agree with Sir Robinson's assessment of what Dr. Strange term's the "Burp-back" education system. While there may be many reasons the stifling of independent and creative thinkers has prevailed in the United States education system, I think a few of the main reason would have to be the limitations on most teachers coupled with the apathy of some teachers.
an essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail
First, when you are told that your students must meet certain standards and that you must focus on a certain part of the curriculum in order for your students to get the right answer on a standardized test, it leaves little room or time for the fostering of creativity in your students.  Since I accept Sir Robinson's premise, I must admit that filling children's heads with facts and test questions in no way allows them to come to their own conclusions or solutions.  How can they be curious about something when I simply tell them the answer? 
Secondly, I honestly think that some teachers don't care enough or have the inclination to do the work it takes to excite curiosity and creativity in their students.  I don't know why, but somehow I know this is a controversial statement.  It's like if you are an educator (or future educator), you aren't allowed to speak negatively about your future colleagues.  I was once a student. I saw the apathy in many of my teacher's eyes. There are different reasons for it.  Plenty of teachers start off (like us) with a passion to change the world or to inspire their students. However, they are met with the cold reality of budget cuts, standardized tests, uncooperative administration/parents/students and eventually give up.  Teachers need support, encouragement, and incentive to develop curiosity and creativity in their students.  The restraints should be lifted, allowing teachers more freedom to explore the interests of the student.
I do believe a curriculum could be developed that increases the curiosity AND creativity of students.  I think this is one of the central theme's of EDM 310 (whether an explicitly stated theme or not).  We are learning how to use varied and alternative tools to ignite curiosity in our students.  We are learning to take technology that students have already discovered and have sparked interest in their everyday lives and use it for educational purposes.  As I said in my response to Ms. Cassidy's interview, I do not want to UNPLUG my students. I mean I don't want to plug them technologically speaking, but I also don't want to unplug their capacity for creativity and their inclination to be curious.  The key components of this curriculum would be that it should be:
1) Student lead/initiated
This means that students should have a say in at least some aspect of what they are learning and how they learn it.  If you want to spark curiosity, let them choose what topics that interest them.  If you want to provoke creativity, let them choose how they handle the topic/information.
2) Teacher Guided
We should be examples to our students. If you are an uninspired and uncreative teacher, you will have the same type of students.  Your classroom should be a place where your students feel comfortable coming to you with their ideas and questions.  If ideas are not free-flowing or students know you will never give them a shot at doing something out of the ordinary, you have stifled curiosity and creativity by your own attitude.
There are more specific ways to stir up creativity and curiosity in your students. The two elements I have stated about are crucial, though.  I think that if you simply offer students a chance to be creative, they will surprise you.  It's all about environment.  I think one of the reasons that EDM 310 fosters so much curiosity and creativity is because the students in this class feel comfortable that there is no idea they will take to Dr. Strange that he will absolutely discourage or shut down.  His attitude and philosophies on education alone foster our own creativity and curiosity. 
Clearly, I think that a teacher's actions can increase the curiosity and creativity of students.  Some of those actions would include creating projects and assignments that prompt students, but don't detail line by line how and what they should do.  Teachers shouldn't simply give a project "To Do List" and say, "I want it done exactly like the instructions say." Give guidelines that are broad enough to allow student freedom, or prompts that spark an idea that students can then run with in whichever direction they choose.  Show students part of the picture, and let them fill in the rest through their own curious mind.  I am a firm believer that students are naturally curious.  Teachers have to find what interests the student as an individual then the creativity will come.  I guess the biggest thing a teacher could do to increase curiosity and creativity is to know her students.
I know in many ways I could be a more creative person.  I like to have specific guidelines. I like to be told what to do and how to do it (when doing a project, not in my everyday life).  It bothers me when I don't know what a professor expects from me.  I think I could become more creative by becoming more connected.  Creativity comes from inspiration.  We have found so many sources for inspiration through our EDM 310 assignments.  These "sources" can be found on our PLN.  I don't want to rely completely on someone else's creativity; but sometimes it helps to see what others are doing, because that could spark a thought or idea in you.  Of course, it helps to surround yourself with other creative teachers (physically or through social media like Twitter and Skype).  Also, it helps to be in a school with administration that allows creative ideas to blossom and take shape with little restraint.
Becoming more curious is hard.  In the information age, when you hear a word or concept that you don't know or understand, you just google it.  I am the first one to whip out the dictionary (on my computer of course) when I don't know a word.  That's how you learn new words. In fact, that's how you learn new anything.  You have to take the time and have the inclination to learn new things.  This class has really sparked my curiosity about using technology in my own classroom, for example.  Again, it helps to surround yourself with curious people and to be in an environment where curiosity is rewarded.
Honestly, I think that my own curiosity and creativity will affect the curiosity and creativity of my students.  I must throw away the idea of being a teacher and become the mentor, guide, leader, and student.  I say "student" because if I ever lose the desire to learn, how can I instill that desire into others?

C4K Summary Post- April Comments

For the month of April, we posted on the same child's blog for three weeks in a row as mentors for the Blog Challenge.  My blogger was named Carly D, and she did some really interesting posts for the first two weeks of commenting. However, she did not have a post for C4K #9 when I wanted to comment, so Dr. Strange gave me Michael as an alternative.  I will not lie; I was disappointed that Carly did not continue blogging. However, I looked at her blog today and found that she has made some more posts since last week. She also updated or changed a few posts. The post that I commented on from April 5 was changed or deleted, because I could not find the original post or my comments. I have summarized the post and the comment below. 

raindrops on window in shape of Africa
#7 Carly's Post on March 29: Water in Africa
The challenge was for students to find an issue or problem faced in the world and blog about ways to make a difference or help with this problem.  Carly chose the problem of inadequate water sources or unclean water in Africa.  She incorporated facts she had researched about this problem along with pictures, links to a video, and links to organizations that you can donate to or volunteer with that help the problem.  I was impressed with her genuineness and the time she put into this post. This is the comment I left:
Hello, Carly!
My name is Jessica, and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I can tell by your topic choice that you are a compassionate and considerate student who sincerely cares about the problems of others, even if they live thousands of miles away. The video attachment and pictures that accompany this blog really touched me and have inspired to me to be more conscious of the problems in Africa. My church has supported ministries that help dig wells for rural villagers in African countries that sometimes have to walk for miles to get any water, and most of that water is not safe for drinking. You can also go through THIS organization and instead of presents for your birthday, have people donate to help build wells in Africa. This was a great post for a great cause! Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading more of your posts!!
Carly replied to my comment that she did not know about the organization that allowed people to donate for your birthday!

#8 Carly's Post on April 5 about Penguins
Carly must have redone this post because now it is a little different than the one she did on penguins dated April 5.  This post on penguins is dated April 19, and the comment I left either hasn't been moderated or was deleted.  Either way, the challenge involved posting pictures of your favorite animal. Obviously, Carly is really into penguins.  I commented that I liked her choice of pictures.  I also asked her a lot of different questions about penguins including what she liked most about them and why they were her favorite animal.  I encouraged her to keep posting!!

#9  When C4K #9 was due, Carly had not completed the blogging challenge for that week. I waited until the last minute, because I was hoping she would post. When she didn't, Dr. Strange gave me Michael's Blog to post on instead.  His post was about shrinking populations of elephants and why that animal is now endangered.  He included a picture in his blog and did include his research on causes of poaching, etc.  I do not know how old Michael is, but Dr. Strange said that most of the students were in 7th grade. He had a few careless erros in his post (instead of human he put "hamun"), and I made sure I adressed them in a polite way.  This is the comment I left:
Hello, Michael!
It seems like you have a real love and appreciation for animals, especially elephants. It is
 sad to hear that these beautiful animals are being hunted almost into extinction. The world would be a sad place without them! Your post did a great job of explaining the reasons why elephants are being hunted and how big the problem has gotten. My only recommendation would be to proofread your posts for spelling and grammar errors before posting. You really did a good job! Your post is very personable!

blue butterfly on green blade of grass

#10 Little Voices, Little Scholars Blog : Aneelis at Butterfly Creek dated April 14
For this post, I commented on the blog by Mrs. Jenny She's first grade class in New Zealand.  This particular post was a Animoto slideshow created by Mrs. She by using pictures of one of her students, Aneelis, taken by the student's mother.  The class had gone on a fieldtrip to the Butterfly Creek, which apparently has a lot of (you guessed it) BUTTERFLIES!  Since I did not just want to put something about Aneelis liking butterflies, I asked her if she had a hand in making the slideshow with Animoto and told her about how we were learning how to use some of the same tools in our class. My post is below:

Hello Aneelis,
My name is Jessica, and I am also an Education student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. The Animoto slideshow created from your Mom's pictures was really great. I hope you had a great time interacting with the butterflies on your trip. We are learning how to use tools like Animoto and blogging in our own classrooms one day. Did you help put this slideshow or blog post together? If you didn't, would you like to be able to make something like that some day, especially now that you've seen how great your pictures look when they are put together in a slideshow? Again, thank you for sharing your pictures with us! Have a great day!

Blog Post #12

I don't want to do this assignment. Is that honest enough?  Let me rephrase. I don't want to do this assignment by saying, "Watch this video and comment on your response" or "Read this blog post and post your response."  An assignment like that would be a little redundant (aka boring).  However, upon looking for something I could do of worth for this assignment or something I would actually be interested in, I stumbled upon a very useful site.  The site is called Teaching History with Technology (THWT), and it  a Continuing Education site for History teachers.  The best part of the site is the Lessons & Activities section which offers numerous lesson plans in everything from U.S. History to Civics and Geography. It also provides so many multimedia resources for History teachers to use including podcasts, comics, maps and other visuals, ebooks, digital storytelling, etc. It not only gives you tutorials on using these technologies, it also gives sampel lessons and tips on incorporating these tools into your classroom. This site is definitely going on my PLN!

So, here's my assignment: 
Choose a Lesson or Activity from the THWT site.  Create a blog post summarizing the lesson and how you would change/adapt/use it in your classroom. Be sure to explain how technology is incorporated in this lesson or activity. 

I chose the lesson entitled Links to the Past.  This assignment takes you to a Library of Congress page describing an overview of what the students will be doing: 
Students use documents from California As I Saw It: First Person Narratives, 1849-1900, inAmerican Memory to create a script depicting the motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations of immigrants who settled California between 1849 and 1900. The finished product will be a script containing links to illustrative written materials, images, and sound files from the Library of Congress online collections.
map of california

Basically, students will be making what they call a hyperscript, which is not only made of character descriptions, lines, and setting.  This hyperscript will contain images and sounds to make the play a multimedia experience.  All of the sources students use will be multimedia and be primary sources from the Library of Congress catalogue.  The site also offers sample scripts for the students to get an idea of how the final product should look.
First, we will read first-hand narratives of immigrants to California during this time period. Students will pick four narratives that they feel expressed the feelings of the immigrants. Then you will have students research different images, maps, sound bites, recordings etc on the American Memory portion of the Library of Congress site they think will enhance these narratives for their script.  Then students create a script depicting a scene using these "characters" with the appropriate links to maps, sounds, images, etc put throughout the script. All of this will be posted online for other students to enjoy.  Also, if the students choose, they can perform their script for the class using the SmartBoard to link to the multimedia materials as they perform.
I like this project because it reminds me of Richard E. Miller's idea of multimedia writing.  Instead of assigning an essay or 5 page paper on "Immigration in California at the Turn of the Century" or asking them to read narratives and answer questions, I am actually getting them to create a project that enhances their writing skills with images, sounds, and acting it out.  It's the epitome of creativity and visual History.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blog Post #11

LITTLE Kids BIG Potential

Ms. Cassidy teaches first grade in Moose Jaw, Canada.  She uses "centers" for learning in her classroom that include (among other things) using computers for blogging and internet work, Nintendo DS for educational games, and making videos.  The video link about called "Little Kids Big Potential" shows her classroom and how these students use technology for their education.
Cartoon with kids on computer and the adult says It's amazing what you kids can do with technology. My VCR is still blinking 12 o'clock. The dad walks away and one kids says What's a VCR? and the other kids says Google it.

Skype Interview with Ms. Cassidy 

In this interview with Dr. Strange, Ms. Cassidy explains her approaches to using technology in her classroom.  I think her approach to technology can be summed up in one word: "Kids and technology go hand in hand. They don't want to 'power down' when they get to school." Obviously, I know she is an advocate of technology in the classroom (see the above video of her classroom), but I think it goes beyond using it because it is available. She thinks that if you are not tapping into tools like blogs, internet, Skype, wikis, etc that you are actually putting your children at a disadvantage.  We must change, because the world outside the classroom has changed for these students. She also said that information has become more collaborative, which is a great way to look at information that student's view on the internet. I think it's also a new philosophy on "cheating."  Her approach also goes beyond the students to the teacher.  She invested in professional development and has developed her own personal learning network online via Twitter, blogs, etc.  She stresses the importance of future educators like the students of EDM310 keeping up with technology and being well-networked in things that interest them.
Cartoon of girl with a cord attached to her that says don't unplug me or just shut me down
In her classroom, she uses not only blogging, Skype and Twitter but also game systems like Nintendo DS to get students interested in their work.  I think she really convinced me to use blogging in my future classroom. The benefits that she outlined of this approach were persuasive.  I never really thought about the main attraction of blogging as being for an audience. However, I now see what a benefit this can be for my students writing. Not only do I think this is a good motivation for students but also will make them better writers. I do NOT want to UNPLUG MY STUDENTS when they get into my room.  I also think that using Skype to connect my students to other classrooms around the world and to experts and professionals would be beneficial for my students. Since I will be teaching History, I want to avoid the cliche boring History class where the teacher hashes out a lot of facts in lecture format.  I think if students stay connected and interested through sources available on the internet, History may actually "come alive" for them.
Ms. Cassidy had a lot of support for her endeavors in the form of a "technology coordinator" and principals who were either actively encouraging or weren't necessarily discouraging.  However, I may not have these resources or that encouragement in my school.  I may actually have a principal that is weary of technology or thinks that internet use is too risky in a classroom.  I think the only defense I have against this is to become my own technology coordinator or advocate.  I will need to convince my principal that the benefits of technology far outweigh the risks.  Maybe I could even use some of the videos, blogs, etc that we have seen during EDM310. After all, they convinced me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blog Post #10

Do You Teach or Do You Educate? Response
child holding pencil with quotation that says education makes people easy to lead but difficult to drive easy to govern but impossible to enslave
What's the difference between a teacher and an educator? On the surface, they appear to be synonymous. However, the differences between teaching and educating are vast and have far-reaching consequences for my future students.  This video makes the clear distinction that a teacher simply provides an explanation or information, but an educator becomes a mentor, advisor, and guide.  In the context of what I have learned so far in EDM310, I know that most of the students I will encounter will have been raised in the information age.  They will have access to information; so if that is all I seek to provide, I am rendered useless and irrelevant.  My intention is not to be conveyor of information (aka teacher) but a navigator through information. 
To become a mentor-educator, I must first look at my students as valuable participants in my classroom bringing more to the table than an empty mind to be filled with facts.  I also must ensure that every assignment, task, and exercise is student-centered and tailored, not merely a lecture that relays required learning.  Students will not always be eager to learn; therefore, it is my job to create situations that excite and inspire them.  Using some of the methods we have explored in EDM310 (multimedia presentations, podcasts, computer games, blogging, etc..), I will attempt to motivate my students to be self-motivated learners.  That is the goal of a true educator: for students to leave the classroom with a new-found sense of enthusiasm and motivation directing them through the rest of their educational experiences.

Tom Johnson's Don't Let Them Take Their Pencils Home! Response 

pencil with caption the original computer edit under point and delete under eraser
This post is a clever response to a study showing that children with home computers have lower standardized test scores.  The author relates a story of an administrator saying that he can not allow students to take "pencils" home because they have been proven to lower test scores.  At first glance, the discourse seems ridiculous (until you take the time to research what he is talking about).  I think his main point is that, especially in education circles, it is easy to throw up your hands and say, "That's that. Oh well, we can't let them take computers home now."  Instead, we should be finding solutions to the problem at hand.  In his reply to the administrators disdain for at-home pencil work, he takes a positive approach. It doesn't matter if they may use these tools to play games; students may be learning through things that are traditionally seen as "educational."
In his argument for why "pencils" should be allowed to be sent home, he "debunks" some of the myths presented to him.  First, he explains that a program has been created for parents to help them with using "pencils," and that he also had a meeting with parents about using these tools for education and not just entertainment.  In response to the "no accountability" argument, he replies that he doesn't monitor what they use the computer for at home... but he doesn't mind if they play games.  I thought his post was clever and well-written.  In the end, his basic argument is that while we can't control everything a child accesses on an at-home computer, it does not mean that they are not gaining knowledge or skills that are beneficial.  To jump to conclusions and take arguments at face value is counter-productive to the education of students and does them a great disservice.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

C4K Summary Post-- March Posts

For some reason, I posted a summary of my C4K#4 (due March 9) in the February C4K Summary Post.  I think it's because the blog post I commented on was from February. Follow the link above to see my summary post of Mr. Salsich's 3rd Grade Class Blog.

C4K#5 Lazers by Jude
green and red laser light show

Jude is a 4th grade student in New Castle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom. In this post, he relates the story of a trip his family took to see some sort of art exhibit that featured a laser-light show.  After encountering traffic and extreme cold, Jude and his father finally took some pictures of the event before going home.  I will be honest. I have a hard time commenting on the younger student's blogs since I am a Secondary Education major and feel more comfortable with the older students.  I don't want to demoralize a small child, and I also don't know what is deemed "good work" coming from a fourth grader.  I noticed numerous misspellings and grammatical errors, but I don't know if that is what I should expect from a fourth grader. I simply tried to be encouraging as I could with my reply. I did not ignore his oversights, but I still feel reluctant pointing out the deficiencies with the post.  I tried to prod him to be a more descriptive writer by asking him what sort of colors he experienced.  I haven't received a reply, but hopefully he read the comment and was encouraged!
Hello, Jude!
My name is Jessica, and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. It sounds like you had quite an adventure trying to see the art exhibition! I’m glad that after suffering through the traffic and cold you and your Dad were able to take some pictures of the lasers. What did the show look like? Was it colorful? This was a good post! Just remember to always proofread your posts for spelling and punctuation errors. It seems like you are on your way to being a great descriptive writer! Thanks again for sharing your story!

Blog Post #9

What I've Learned this Year (2008-2009) Response
Venn diagram with a man talking on top of the left circle and one sleeping on top of the right circle.. It says, what you want to say under the man talking, and what they're interested in under the man sleeping. in the part where they overlap it says Relevance

In reflecting on his first year as an elementary school teacher in Missouri, Mr. McClung emerges with several pieces of valuable advice and lessons learned.  He offers this advice to his readers, providing future educators with the opportunity to learn from his mistakes and experience. I have summarized his musings and what I took from them below.
1.How to Read the Crowd
Basically, teachers should know their audience. Instead of making the lesson plans and classroom curriculum revolve around you, be student centered.  It's not about simply conveying the information but making sure that the students comprehend what you are teaching.  To me this is all about being relevant to and getting feedback from your students. I think we have focused on this in EDM310, making sure the students are the center of our classroom. We are currently learning to cater our classrooms to the students' needs.
2. Be Flexible
In other words, don't be over-controlling. Roll with the punches.  Lesson plans are not set in stone and will fail at times, but that is ok. I think this is the piece of advice I need most.  I have a problem with control, and thinking back on it so did most of my teachers.  Sometimes I think of my future classroom as my domain, a place where I can control what it taught and how it is taught. Even though I feel I will cater to my students, I should realize that I can't control everything that happens. "Mistakes" are always learning experiences.  If I understand Mr. McClung correctly, a lot of teaching is trial and error. I just can't sweat the errors.

3. Communication
It's hard to develop good communication, but it is key in success with peers and students. For the most part he is talking about communicating with coworkers and other staff members. However, this is a good life lesson. I think it is impossible to be an effective educator if you aren't an effective communicator.

4. Be Reasonable
Mr. McClung says that you should set the bar high, but don't be discouraged when students don't meet the goal. Always remember you are dealing with children; they are not perfect nor are they mature adults. They need to be encouraged and guided.  I tend to set fairly high standards for my personal life, but I must always keep in mind that the standards I set for my students should be attainable and realistic.  I never want to discourage or demoralize my classroom.

man tied to a chair with computers around him and men behind the glass say I know it seems cruel but it is the only way for him to get over his silly technophobia

5. Don't Be Afraid of Technology
Advice we don't need as EDM310 students!  If EDM310 hasn't cured you of your fear of technology... nothing will!

6. Listen to Your Students
Invest time into getting to know your students; it is critical to gaining the respect and trust of students and will make you a better teacher.  There is no way that I can do the things above (be a relevant teacher, know my audience, or communicate effectively) if I did not take time to really listen to my students.  I don't think that he simply means to listen to what they say but to care about what you are hearing! Children of all ages are very intuitive and in-tune to the signals you are giving off. They know if you are listening and caring or just pretending to!
7. Never Stop Learning
If there was ever a time to heed these instructions, it is in the information age.  New technologies, resources, and tools are emerging everyday.  I know I have said this a lot but it all goes back to the NETWORKED TEACHER.  How can we be effective educators if we are not relevant to our students? How can we get students involved in their own education when we are out-of-touch with the world they inhabit?

Perhaps if we will listen and learn from Mr. McClung's lessons, we won't have to make the same mistakes or oversights he did in our first year!

What I Learned This Year (2010-2011) Summary and Response

In his third year of teaching, Mr. McClung relates his experience of being at the same school for more than one year and making some career changes along the way (starting to coach, etc..).  Again in this year, he offers invaluable advice and reflection for future educators. I don't know if Mr. McClung wrote these blogs for himself or for other teachers, but it would be foolish for us not to learn from his experiences.  Just as in the previous years, he offers practical advice from lessons learned.

1. Know Who Your Boss Is.
Who's the Boss? Man with arms around two ladies a young girl and small boy

When I first read this heading, I thought he would offer advice about dealing with your school's principal.  However, he is talking about students.  He advices not to let other adults get in the way of the real people we should focus on: the students.  As a first year non-tenured teacher, it will be hard to confidently put the students first without thinking about pleasing administration, parents, or other teachers, but Mr. McClung is absolutely right. Our first and major concern is to make sure our attention and focus is on students.  This goes back to making sure our teaching is student-centered.

2. Don't Expect Others to Be Excited about Change as You Are.
Sign that says you can't rain on our parade
This is GREAT advice for students in EDM310. I don't know about anyone else, but my experience with a lot of teachers has been one of skepticism when I tell them some of the new methods and means we are learning about in this class.  One teacher told me, "They teach you that stuff, but in the real world it doesn't work that way."  This is what Mr. McClung encounters at professional development sessions. He advises not to let these "naysayers" to rain on your parade.  My question to these teachers is, "how do you know if you never try?"  Also, if you aren't excited about it, why would you expect your students to be excited about it??  I know that I will have to go into my teaching career with a resilient, positive attitude!

3. Don't Be Afraid to Be an Outsider.
He relates this advice with the previous point.  Being an independent thinker and a student-centered teacher may not make you many friends in the teacher's lounge.  Mr. McClung says that he is not bothered by being the "outsider" teacher that focuses all his time and attention on his students, not on fellow faculty/staff.  I understand what Mr. McClung is saying, but I don't want to take it too far. We have been learning that one of the most valuable resources you can have is OTHER TEACHERS. In fact, that is what we are doing right now... Learning from another teacher's experience. I do not want to isolate my coworkers or make an uncomfortable working situation.  If being an outsider simply means that you focus on your students, I guess that is ok.  We should never ostracize ourselves from our peers (in my opinion).

4.  Don't Touch the Keyboard.
This piece of advice came from one of his fellow teachers. His basic point here is that as an instructor if you touch the keyboard while you are teaching, the students will never learn how to do it themselves.  We have talk about creating students who are independent thinkers.  I think that is what Mr. McClung is talking about here. "Students learn by doing."   Isn't that what Dr. Strange always says?  I understand that it can be hard or frustrating to let students do it on their own, especially when they are making mistakes and YOU know how to fix it.  Trial and error are great ways to learn, and mistakes always lead to learning.

5. Don't Get Comfortable.

Apathy is the enemy of any good teacher.  Mr. McClung recognizes that routine and organization have their place.  However we must always strive to do better and challenge ourselves and students. I think this attests to his earlier point about always learning. If we are always striving to learn something new everyday, then we won't be complacent teachers. We will be exciting, relevant, informed teachers!

C4T Summary Post

C4T #3 Jeff Delp  (03/25)
tan box that says making molehills out of mountains with a small mountain beside it

Jeff Delp is the principal of Willis Junior High School in Chandler, Arizona. His blog Molehills Out of Mountains chronicles his experiences as an educator and outlines his philosophies on using technology to enhance the way children learn and the way teachers teach. I have found it to be a treasure trove of wisdom and resources.  I encourage every student to subscribe to Mr. Delp's blog; he has real-world experience and a great outlook on education!

In his post for Dec 31, 2011 entitled Productivity Tools for Educators, Mr. Delp reviews several technology tools that he personally uses to aid him to be a better, more organized educator. What I love about Mr. Delp is that he is honest about his own shortcomings. He writes that he (like so many of us) has difficulties with time management. Then he gives other teachers ideas about ways to use new technologies to aid in their organizational skills. The tools he reviewed were Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Posterous, and Twitter.  Of course, EDM310 students are all too familiar with Google Docs and Twitter, however I was unfamiliar with the rest of these tools.  His post inspired me to explore them and incorporate them into my PLN for future use. This is the comment I left on this blog post:

Mr. Delp,
Thank you for sharing your experience and resources! I am a student at the University of South Alabama and a future educator. Most, if not all, of the resources you described are being highlighted as useful tools in our current Education in Media class. I haven’t taken advantage of Wunderlist yet, but now I certainly plan on taking a look at it. Your assessment of these tools has served as reinforcement that what we are learning will translate practically into our careers. I appreciate your honesty about time-management issues. I know it is something that many students as well as teachers struggle to take control over. New technologies allow us to efficiently organize and plan without the stereotypical desk full of papers. I am slowly learning to be a paperless student, and I can only hope that all the classrooms of the future will be essentially paperless as well. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

C4T Comment #2 (04/01)
Green road sign that reads Education Just Ahead with blue sky and white clouds behind it

In the post Things Which Matter Most posted on April 1 by Mr. Delp, he discusses his experience as member of a panel about using technology to increase achievement and success in classrooms. This panel was hosted by the Hispanic/Native American Indian Caucus and Black Caucus of the Arizona School Board Association, and the keynote speaker was Dr. Trent Kaufman who is the leader of the Education Direction, an organization that trains educators and school staff.  Mr. Delp outlines Dr. Kaufman's 5 key principles for the improvement of instruction and schools overall.
1.Children are Born to Learn
2.We Must Improve
3.Redefine Data
4.Narrow the Focus
5.Isolation Limits Change
I will not go into too much detail about each one. However, in my comment on Mr. Delp's post below I highlight a few points that really stuck out to me.

Mr. Delp, 
Thank you for sharing the core of what you learned from Dr. Kaufman at the conference this weekend.  A lot of the basic principles represented in his ideas are what we as Education students are learning in our EDM310 class. "Currently, our schools are data rich but information poor."  I could not agree more with this statement. We are learning now to be facilitators of education instead of conveyors of fact. This goes back to his point about changing not only  WHAT we teach but HOW to teach it.  In our class, we are constantly exploring new methods  and means of instruction in order to be more relevant to a diverse and technologically-savvy group of students.  Thank you for being a principal that understands the importance of technology in the classroom and who is open to new and exciting possibilities for schools and classrooms! 
Again, I would STRONGLY encourage you to read his blog!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Project #11

Blog Post #8

"This is How We Dream" Response
This is How We Dream, Part I
Dr. Miller sitting at desk smiling
"It is possible to collect together the threads of experience
and weave them into a coherent document."

- Richard E. Miller
In Part I of this lecture by Rutger's University Professor Richard E. Miller, Dr. Miller describes what he terms "Incremental Changes" in writing both in academia and our culture as a whole.  Not only has our writing changed from paper to desktop, but the way in which we research has moved from the library to the web.  We now have instant access to the contents of libraries across the world at our fingertips.  Another "incremental change" highlighted by Dr. Miller involves how we share knowledge.  Articles and books no longer go out of print; they are "shared infinitely" through the web.  I found this to be a quite scary concept that many of the youth in America don't quite comprehend yet.  Once information is put on the web, it can be close to impossible to delete.  From a research standpoint, this is phenomenal.  However, young and immature students could post something to the web that may end up haunting them later.  The last "incremental change" discussed in the video is the move from simply print documents to "visual documents," documents that use sound, images, and video along with print.  This may be the most important incremental change.  He describes a collaborative project he was a part of about Martin Luther King, Jr.  The project not only included pictures, video, songs, and print, but also included input from many different scholars and lecturers. His comment about this project (seen as the caption for the picture above) has proven to be one of my favorite things he has said. As a future history teacher, it's exciting to be able to use primary sources, interviews, videos, songs, pictures, etc... in presentations to my students. There is no better way to bring History alive! So this last incremental change sums up the move from the lone writer with pencil and paper to the collaborative, visually-stimulating writing project of today.
This is How We Dream Part II 
In the second part of his lecture, Dr. Miller begins to talk about material and fundamental changes to writing.  He outlines tools such as iTunes U which have made a  big impact on the way educators communicate with their students. However, he wants the process to go beyond simple videos or podcasts into the concept of teaching visual literacy. When I heard the term "visual literacy," I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept.  He describes it as "composing using the web itself" with visual representations of the "Humanities."  He admits that presently educators do not have access to the tools or spaces they need to accurately teach visual literacy; yet, he imagines a world (even his own building) where composing a lecture or paper would not be one dimensional and where ideas can be easily shared and understood.
My reaction to Dr. Miller's concept is mixed. I agree with him that this type of learning environment does not quite exist in feasible terms at this point.  This has been a common theme with many of the ideas we have seen put forth through this course.  However,  someday perhaps we can jump the hurdle of lack of resources.  I also agree with Dr. Miller that a multi-dimensional media is a better way to present what he terms the "Humanities."  The generation of students that will face us when we graduate from USA are stimulus-driven, everyday technology users, and easily bored.  In order to stimulate an active interest, we must incorporate more than just a lecture or note taking. We must also challenge them more than just a five paragraph essay.  This new "visual literacy" makes me think back to my ideas on THE NETWORKED TEACHER, where the teacher becomes more of a mentor/guide. In order for me to be prepared to write with multimedia, I must educate myself, practice, and actively search for new and diverse resources and inspirations.  I think my students will definitely have the ability to write with multimedia, but I must equip them with the right tools and guidance.
My only fear with this transition would be that the art of writing would be lost.  I know Dr. Strange would disagree with me, but sometimes it makes me sad that books, real books with paper pages and leather bindings, are going the way of the dinosaur.  It also saddens me that the art of letter-writing has vanished.  I'm sure there are some kids out there that think "LOL" is in the dictionary.  I see the change and know that to be relevant I must also change. However, I do not want to transition to multimedia writing for the sake of using the technology available.  The academic integrity of the project must always be maintained. If a child leaves my classroom and doesn't know how to write (the old-fashioned way), what would be the point?
computer with a face teaching to a stack of books

Carly Pugh's Blog Response
First and foremost, I must say that I enjoy Carly's laid-back, reader-friendly writing style.  Her post, in which she was to create an assignment that she thought should be incorporated into EDM310, proved just as enjoyable. Her idea was to create a youtube playlist of at least 10 videos that encompass above all your teaching philosophy and incorporate what you have learned in EDM310. Then you would write a blog post about said philosophy and your playlist.  What an appropriate post for teaching visual literacy! In the same way that Carly uses youtube in this post to convey her teaching philosophy, she could easily compile a youtube montage to teach future students.  This technology and idea crosses disciplinary lines. It could be used just as easily by a Math teacher or a History teacher.  Her post incorporates all the elements of a true visual document.  Thank you, Carly! This is one of those posts that I know will prove to be a valuable resource for us in the future! On that note, wouldn't that be a great assignment for my future History students... to compile a playlist of youtube videos describing themselves or an event??!??  Great idea!

Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies Reply and Video Idea

Bear Grylls with volcano behind him and reads Bear Grylls, he simply walks into Mordor
The primary message that I got from both of these blogs was that EDM310 is only as hard as you make it.  Procrastination and looking for the "easy answer" will not cut it in this class. Also, one of the keys to success in EDM310 is to use the resources and tutorials provided. It's amazing how easy it can be to answer your own questions using the tools provided by the blog, facebook, and instruction manuals.
If I were to make a video like one of these for EDM310, I would like to make a EDM310 survival guide in the style of Bear Grylls and his show Man Vs. Wild.  We could call it "Student vs. EDM310" complete with a thick-accented nature guide showing students how to "brave the wild" of the EDM310 blog and other resources! If we ever did a project like that, I would love to be involved!

Learn to Change, Change to Learn Response

classroom with teacher helping kids at their desks, kid on the computer emailing, kid doing math problem on the board, some students in their desksIn our current education system, most of the classrooms are teacher-centered and school-centered.  The proposition made in this video seems to be to reverse this, providing a student-centered environment where the venue moves from classroom to the community.  It would be technology-based and provide students with talented teachers regardless of their school zoning or district.  I think that the most important idea from this video came from the man who described the changes in the types of things being taught.  It again relates to the idea of the educator as a guide/mentor.  He said that students should be able to find, validate, synthesize, and collaborate with information.  They should also be able to use this validated, synthesized information to problem solve.  I agree with his assessment of moving from simple standards to actual concrete skills.  The problem I have with most ideas that we have been exposed to in EDM310 are problems of implementation.  I agree that a schools "without bricks and mortar" are completely possible... but are they practical?  It would be a slow transition from school to community, and I don't necessarily think that getting rid of the physical school would be a great idea. I think that what happens inside the building should change. I also think that students should have more hands-on learning experiences in the community.  The video also mentions the disparity in resources and innovation from within the school and outside of the school. Children are in a richer, more creative, and well-networked environment outside of most classrooms.  We have to find a way to integrate what they use in their daily lives (email, chat, video games, youtube, facebook, texting, Skype, etc...) into the classroom.  I think this class is brining education in our area a little closer to the school of the future outlined in this video.

Scavenger Hunt on Web 2.0

The first thing I found was how to make my own comic.  To view my Comic, click below:
My Comic
(The only problem I had with this site is that it doesn't have an "embed" option. You can either email your comic or print it out.)

The second tool I found was how to create poll anytime or anywhere.

The third tool I found was a video tool I had never used before called Animoto.
This site takes your photos, videos, and music and turns it into a unique video using what they call "Cinematic Artificial Intelligence," which is supposed to make each video take on the style of the selected music and images.  Cinematic AI is also supposed to be like having a professional director and editor for your movie.  Movies can also be done in HD and look professional because there is no Animoto label in the video.  This site also provides a music gallery and a large style library that helps you set the tone of the video you are producing. It also looks like a good site to combine make a presentation or project like the one described in the "This is How We Dream" post above by using AnimotoEducation!

Friday, March 9, 2012

C4T #2

Grades 1 and 2 at Ancaster Meadow School
February 24, 2012 Post "Around the Watercycle"
The Ancaster Meadow School is an elementary school in Ontario, Canada. Ms. Aviva Dunsiger manages this particular blog for her first and second grade students.   In the first post that I commented on, the second grade students were working on a video project of a play called Around the Watercycle.  Each group of six students made props and divided the parts of the play among themselves.  They also assigned roles for who would do what including who would film.  After they created their film, they were to critique their performance and give themselves feedback.  Ms. Dunsiger also posted three of the projects and pictures of the students rehearsing and preparing for their performance.  This project worked on so many educational levels.  Not only were the students doing a Science project, but they were working on Reading, Drama, and what she calls "Creative Arts" or Media.  The comment I left on the blog praised the students for such creative work. I was honestly surprised by the level of professionalism displayed by such young students.  This was my comment and Mrs. Aviva's reply"

Hello! I am a student at the University of South Alabama, and I was assigned your blog for one of my classes. I have to say that I love this particular project and the way it combined so many different subjects areas. The students did a wonderful job on their videos! They also gave themselves good encouragement and feedback. My class is learning about education in media, and your project presents a perfect example of how technology provides students with a multitude of new and exciting learning experiences. Thank you for sharing this post and the videos!

  • Thanks for your comment, Jessica! I’m glad that you enjoyed this post and this activity. I think it’s great when many expectations can be met with a single activity that is both engaging and a great learning opportunity too!

I share her sentiment about projects doing "double duty."

March 2, 2012 Post "Skype Literature Circle"
In this post, students are Skyping with a teacher candidate as a part of a Virtual Mentorship Program.  The teacher has assigned the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes for the students to read. Before they read the book, she asks them to make predictions about what will happen.  This whole discussion session is conducted over Skype. After the students read the book, they will have another Skype conversation with the teacher candidate about what they learned and how their predictions differed from what actually happened in the book.   Mrs. Dunsiger posted a video of the students Skyping; they looked so excited to be a part of the project and were obviously eager to dive into reading.  At the end of the post, Mrs. Dunsiger asked repliers to make their own predictions about what will happen and then tune in next week when they make another post about the results.  I put that the main character (Chrysanthemum) will turn into a flower of the same name at the end of the book. It was a far-fetched guess, but we'll see what happens!!  I also commented that this project proves how technology can open up new and exciting ways for students to learn and be excited about it!