Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Project 8 - Podcast

picture of Rafe Esquith's book There Are No Shortcuts

Esquith is not your conventional teacher. He has an immeasurable amount of passion for what he does. He creates such a caring, compassionate atmosphere through all of the extra time he is willing to spend with his students; however, he still sets high expectations for them. Not because he can, but because he knows they have the ability to reach beyond their limitations.

The one chapter I read alone is very inspiring. After hearing what my group members had to say about their readings, it encouraged me to read the entire book. I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy. I think it would be beneficial for any future teacher.

The Learning Leos (made up of Bonnie Gaudet, Gina Phillips, and myself) created a podcast discussing Chapters 1, 2, 4, and the Epilogue of Rafe Esquith's book There Are No Shortcuts. You can listen to our "talk radio" style podcast by clicking the play button below.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blog Post 5

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?

I thought this was a clever approach to address the importance of engaging children in the use of technology. I've said it in previous blogs, and I'll say it again, but we would be doing more harm than good if we were to keep children from using these tools. This day and age revolves around the use of technology, and it's advancing every day. Today's employers expect prospective employees to be technologically literate. If we really have the students' best interest at heart, we should be preparing them for this technology-based future.

I also think it's a shame that parents have become so fearful of these internet tools. Yes, you can find anything on the internet these days, good and bad things. You can also find these things every day through other sources like television, radio, and magazines. Parents can't be so protective that they take away their child's opportunity to use technology for growth and development. There are such things as parental controls if a parent is wary of their child's use (or misuse) of the internet.

I remembered Dr. McLeod contributed to a video we recently watched, Did You Know? 3.0. Apparently he is also one of the nation's leading academic experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues, and he blogs regularly about these issues. He has won awards and has many big supporters of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, which is the nation's only center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators. Dr. McLeod seems very dedicated to this "cause," offering consultations and workshops in addition to his blogs to help move schools into the 21st century.

The iSchool Initiative

Travis Allen had an idea that we could incorporate the use of iPods in the classroom and eliminate the use of pencil, paper, and textbooks. This seems like a great idea considering so many people are concerned with "going green" these days. Not only that, but the monetary savings in textbooks and other items like graphing calculators makes it so much more appealing. And think about all of the information you could retrieve instantly right in the palm of your hands.

While this seems revolutionary, I'm not sure I agree completely with a pencil-less, paperless environment. While EDM 310 opened my eyes to the benefits of using technology in the classroom, I'm starting to think there are some situations where I'd rather learn by hand-written assignments and read with text in hand. Now, this may be because that's the style of learning I've been used to my whole life. Then again, before the internet was popular people still became successful by using "old school" methods of studying. While this is an interesting concept, I just don't think we should transition entirely to the use of iPods as the basis for learning.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir

This video really blew my mind. I was so impressed that all of these people, who have never met before, could create something so beautiful via submissions through the internet. Mr. Whitacre is incredibly creative. I can only imagine how much time it took to collect everyone's video and edit it so that it was this fluent.

I also viewed his Introduction to the Virtual Choir. This was touching because he described how the Virtual Choir connected a total of 185 people from 12 different countries. I agree with Mr. Whitacre that singing together and making music together is a "fundamental human experience." These videos are prime examples of the power of the internet and how unlimited we are with what we can create through technology.

Teaching in the 21st Century

comic beginning twenty-first century teaching ten years into the twenty-first century

The first thing that stood out to me in this video was Kevin Roberts' claim that teachers are not the main source of knowledge, that they have become "filters." This appears to be very true today. Students have the ability now to look up anything, anytime, anywhere. With information so readily available through the internet, why not eliminate the middle man?

Since a student can "Google" just about anything on their own, a fear is that the "lecture style" of teaching won't hold their attention anymore. I think Roberts' message is that teachers need to adapt their style of teaching to the types of resources students are used to now. From there, teachers should show the students how to use the technology appropriately and in a way that will benefit their classroom experience. This all goes back to the idea of teachers being technologically literate. If we want to reach the students, we have to get on their level.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog Post 4

100 Ways to Use Your iPod to Learn and Study Better

I will admit, I definitely do not use this device to it's full potential. The most I use my iPod for is music and a game or two. I was amazed at the list of study accessories that was provided, and I'm sure there are hundreds more.

Just as it's nice to have music on the go, it's also nice to have study guides, tutorials, and much more on the go as well. Even nicer is the fact that an iPod is small and much more portable than a laptop. Laptops can be heavy and bulky, and they are not always convenient to carry with you everywhere you go. An iPod is an easy fix for that.

The Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom

Podcasting appears to be a very useful tool, especially outside of the classroom. In a case where a student is sick/absent, they have the ability to stay caught up by listening to a lecture or study material via podcasts. Or even if the student was present and they just want a "refresher," they can access the material just as easily.

Podcasting seems to add a little excitement to the learning experience as well. Students can be creative with it and take on different roles, which would definitely make it more memorable. Also, I remember I was incredibly intimidated every time I had to present in front of the classroom. With podcasting, I think it would help those that are just too shy to speak to the whole class.

Judy Scharf's Benefits of Podcasting

Although this list was short, it made me think of the other podcasts I listened to from our list of resources. Judy Scharf mentions the benefit of enhancing the students' communication skills. One thing that stood out to me while listening to the different podcasts was how well the students spoke. They spoke at a pace that was easy to follow. They projected their voice so that we could hear them well enough. They also enunciated their words distinctly. I can't tell you how many adults I speak to that I have to constantly ask to repeat themselves because they either spoke too fast or I simply couldn't understand them. So these are a few tips I will definitely be conscious of when I produce my own podcasts.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog Assignment 3

It's Not About the Technology

Since our world is flooded with technology, of course it's the first thing to come to mind regarding learning and teaching. However, Mrs. Hines states that although the technological tools today are very innovative, they are not necessarily what we need to initiate change in the classroom.

I think she makes a good point: teachers must be lifelong learners. It's the "practice what you preach" principle. If we expect our students to keep learning, why shouldn't we? I plan on teaching health education and there always seems to be new developments in that field. So I agree that if teachers are truly invested in their profession, they must stay current not only on "tools," but on trends and research as well.

Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?

Mr. Fisch also makes a valid point that teachers should be technologically literate. The generation we are teaching today lives in a world that revolves around technology (gaming and social networking are a couple of biggies). They probably can't remember a time when technology didn't influence their lives in some way. So if we want to reach them in our classrooms, maybe we should adapt to them. And that is done by incorporating technology in the classroom.

Keyboard with a key for success

Mr. Fisch compared technological literacy and the level of success over time. There is no doubt in my mind that it is getting harder to be successful without technological literacy. Since our future is becoming based more and more on technology, it's our job to prepare our students for that.

This made me think of my first semester at USA. I had been out of school for three years before I arrived here. My math class was the first class I ever had that used an online tool (USA Online). I was thinking what on earth could be done online with math? Although it was something as simple as weekly homework assignments, I didn't care for that system because I was so used to submitting my work on paper in person. But over time, I began to appreciate the efficiency of submitting these assignments online. I got my grade instantly, I'm sure it was much more organized for the professor, and we weren't wasting trees! This was my first glimpse at the practical importance of technology use in the classroom. And it held true for every other class I had that utilized online tools. It makes me more willing to adapt to different tools and methods of teaching in the future.

Social Media Counts

Wow! I could barely keep up with all of these figures because they were changing so rapidly. This goes to show how popular technology is and how often it's being used. In our society, there is no doubt these numbers will continue to rise. Educators need to be on the same level as kids today if they expect to reach them. Figures like this should encourage educators to take the time to learn how to use some of these tools.

Technologies are being discovered and improved upon every day, and we should do the same. We should have the desire to improve not only for ourselves, but for our students. They are relying on us to prepare them for the real world and we shouldn't shortchange them. So if this means we have to invest our time to learn how to use technological tools, then so be it.

A Vision of Students Today

Fortunately I haven't had the experience of being in a class so large it requires auditorium type seating. I can only imagine how impersonal that must feel. In the past, my professors have at least attempted to learn our names and most of them practically beg us to come to them if we ever have any questions. I could tell how much they care about our success in the class by stressing their availability outside of it.

I think students in such large classes should have a little sympathy for the professor as well though. I'm sure they're not the only large class the professor has each day. It must be stressful for the professor to keep track of everyone's progress. The student has to take a little responsibility in their education, too. They need to reach out to the professor if they had any concerns or felt like they weren't getting the most out of the class.

Also, I have noticed some students taking advantage of bringing laptops to class, or having smart phones. They're usually browsing the web, social networking sites, or texting instead of taking notes and following the professor. It seems like a waste to have come to class. But then there are those students that don't come at all and I consider that even more of a waste. I'm not paying all of this money, going into debt, just to skip class. I want my money's worth.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Project 3 C4T Summary

C4T #1

"Workin on the Chain Gang"

Mrs. Goerend is a fifth grade teacher from Iowa. In her blog, she mentioned the importance of building community in the classroom. She stated it may be one classroom, but it's filled with many people, each of them with different strengths. And because of these differences, it makes for a very accomplished classroom.

To emphasize this, she presented her class with the "chain gang" activity. Basically, students are given a few strips of paper and are asked to write down a few things they do well. Then the students proceed to build a chain out of all the "strips of strength," and it serves as a reminder to the students that they all have their own unique abilities. They will also begin to see the benefits they can reap from teamwork.

I thought this activity was ingenious, and I hope to use it in my own classroom one day. In their own ways, students contribute to the success of their class. I remember as I got older, I realized the importance of listening to other people. Because other people offered different opinions and ideas and techniques and so much more that I never would have thought of in a million years! Now, it may or may not have changed my own views at the time, but at least it opened my mind to the possibilities.

I asked Mrs. Goerend if she thought this type of activity would be too "elementary" in a secondary school setting. She simply stated kids would probably appreciate listing things they're good at no matter how old they were. She also said the teacher's attitude toward it makes the difference. And I believe she is right. A little boost in our confidence/self-esteem is good once in awhile. It gives us a sense of worth.

Building Community

In this blog post, Mrs. Goerend again talks about the importance of community in the classroom. She is a new teacher at the school and other teachers in her grade level made her aware of a tradition they had. This tradition involved students bringing a grocery bag filled with a few items about themselves. They would then share those items with the class. She learned a lot about her students over the two days they held the activity.

In response, I told Mrs. Goerend that I thought the bag sharing was another great idea. It shows the students that she cares about them and their interests, and that's definitely important in building community. It was nice that Mrs. Goerend also shared a few items of her own. I think by sharing some of her items she appears to be more of a person than just being labeled as "the teacher." This will bring them all much closer as a unit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blog Assignment 2

Did You Know?

Did You Know? graphic

I love statistics. I actually stumbled upon this video about a month ago. It amazes me how much technology has changed over the years and how it continues to do so. Not only that, but the rate at which everything is advancing is exponential. I'm interested in how these statistics have changed since the video was produced.

At approximately 3:38, the video reveals that for a 4 year degree, half of what a student learns in the first year of study will already be outdated by the third year. This may seem a little discouraging. At the same time though, it kind of makes you realize that we will never stop learning. There will always be new advancements and technologies, and if we want our lives to prosper we have to advance right along with them.

Mr. Winkle Wakes

After he awoke from his hundred year slumber, Mr. Winkle discovered a world full of new technologies. This new world was very overwhelming for him. However, Mr. Winkle came across a school with classrooms just as he remembered, and there he found solace away from this new, highly advanced world.
Mr. Winkle sitting in an empty classroom

This immediately grabbed my attention. Why, after 100 years, are we not incorporating the use of more technology in the classroom? When students graduate and enter the "real world," they are expected to be technologically literate. If they're not, there's usually plenty of other candidates to choose from. It's our duty as educators to help guide and prepare students for such competitive markets in today's society.

Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson quote

What really stood out to me was that children are so creative because they're not afraid to be wrong. As an adult, I'm horrified at the thought of being wrong. This led me to a few questions. When did I start to become so afraid? Was I influenced by my parents, peers, or teachers? Are we really "educating people out of their creative capacities?"

After high school, I was so focused on finding a major that would land me a great paying job and also make the parents happy. I mean, my mom's been working in a factory for as long as I can remember and in recent years my dad's just been picking up odd jobs here and there. So of course they want their child to do something better with her life. But I switched from major to major never finding any satisfaction in what I was learning. I took a break and worked the front desk at a credit union for three years. Then my days just became so routine. What a waste!

Although I originally came to USA for Meteorology, I'm glad I finally realized teaching is where it's at for me. I always left this option on the back burner because it doesn't generate big bucks. But no one gets into teaching for the pay. It's all about the kids. They are our future, and I think we need to embrace their creativity. It doesn't make sense to try to condition them into something they don't like or aren't good at. How does one excel at something they really have no passion for?

Cecelia Gault's Interview

Cecelia is a smart little girl, and it's very encouraging to see her interest in the direction education is going in. If I had students like her, I would try to entertain their questions and encourage their creativity as best as I could. And it's important to rid this notion that creativity is limited to the arts.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts

I started to see everything tie together when Vicki Davis said if you only have pencil and paper, only certain students will succeed. I commend her for paying attention to each student and their strengths and interests, and then customizing the classroom according to that group of students. How ingenious! Because not every class is the same year after year.

I also noticed the students are being very interactive, learning for themselves and then teaching one another. That has to be a relief for them. It's hard to stay focused sometimes when you have an instructor that just lectures at the front of the classroom for the entire period. Some may learn that way, but others need to have that hands on experience, and a classroom setting like this really provides for that.