Sunday, October 30, 2011

C4T Summary 3

Critical Issue: Teacher-Student Interaction Via Technology

In this post, Aaron Eyler expressed his views on interaction between students and teachers outside of school via technology. There were three specific sites that he focused on: Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging. He has a Facebook page, but he doesn't like it. He also mentioned it reminded him "more of a giant 'water cooler' than anything else." Even so, he will not friend request you, nor accept your friend request, no matter who you are. He loves Twitter, and sees it as a very valuable way to communicate; however, even if you choose to follow him, he will not follow you back. I assume that's because he'd rather keep his feed professional. And he understands that people today communicate more through text messages than with e-mail, so he set up a Google Voice number. He did this "so that parents, students, and staff members can text message [him] with relevant information or ask questions." What's nice about this is it operates like an e-mail address and text messages can be saved to folders. Mr. Eyler just asks that you keep the conversation professional, and he'll be happy to respond. He ends the post stating that "teachers are role models, and part of being a role model is modeling appropriate use of these technologies." This statement is a running theme for this class.
definition of communication from the dictionary

In response, I said I wasn't sure how open I would be. It made me think of a recent friend request I received from a counselor of mine, which seemed awkward and maybe even unprofessional? Then I pondered the question, "Would I feel the same if the request was from a student?" Mr. Chamberlain actually commented on this post and said he has no restrictions on communication. He is from a small community it was normal to be around teachers from the school. So having no restrictions seems to work for him. I do want my students to know that I care for them and want to be available for help, but I'm not sure at this point where I'd draw the line. So I guess that's where modeling appropriate use would come into play if I chose to allow many different forms of communication.

What People Say about You...

Mr. Eyler opened his post with this lesson: "always monitor what you say about people and what people say about you in a digital learning platform." He was in the midst of reading a new book by Lawrence Lessig when he came across a book talk online. He loved the Lessig's presentation style, but couldn't figure out the program he was using. Mr. Eyler tweeted about it, asking if anyone knew what it could be. Sure enough, he received a response from Lessig himself. Mr. Eyler didn't know what was "cooler." The fact that Lessig (with over 155,000 followers) monitors his stream and knows what everyone says about him, or that he took the time to respond. Mr. Eyler was very thankful. Later on, a similar situation came up where Mr. Eyler's students had a conversation about him, and he let them know he knew. He said it was "super valuable learning experience."

I told Mr. Eyler that I just recently started blogging, tweeting, etc. I mentioned that it can be a little disconcerting if one of my comments goes unnoticed (as far as I know). But I have to understand that sometimes, like in cases of having over 155,000 followers, it might be a bit challenging to keep up with everyone’s questions or comments. But when they do respond, it can make a big impact. It’s nice to be acknowledged.

Blog Post 9

What I've Learned This Year by Mr. Joe McClung

In his post for the 2008-2009 school year, Mr. McClung had some great advice for first year school teachers. We anticipate a lot when we decide to become teachers, but there's still much to learn. A few of his points really hit home. I think I will be referring back to this post a lot when I have a class of my own.

Mr. McClung first mentions "How to Read the Crowd." I'll admit that sometimes I get so caught up in all of the little details, making sure the finished product is above and beyond what was expected. I mean, I just wanted to make a great impression on whoever was in charge. But no matter how much effort I put into that whole process, I would inevitably fail if my audience can't comprehend it.

Another lesson for me is to "Be Flexible." I have to break from the habit of making sure everything is done perfectly. Life isn't perfect, nor is any lesson I will ever plan. I'm only setting myself up for disappointment. If I go in with the attitude that the lesson can change and it's okay, the days will go much smoother.

"Communication is the best medicine." If we have a problem that needs to be resolved, how is anyone going to know unless we communicate it? No one can read minds. If there is something that needs attention, and we say nothing, then we have no right to complain about it. If we talk about it, however, we have the chance to build stronger, meaningful relationships with other teachers and students.

As educators, we must "Be Reasonable." When we hold high expectations for our students and they fail to meet those expectations, we may become upset. No one in this world, however, is perfect. If a students falls shy of our expectations, we must "simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again."

"Don't Be Afraid of Technology." Technology really is essential to our way of life. But like Mr. McClung said, we shouldn't become so overwhelmed by technology that we give up before we start. As with most things we learn, it may take a little time and practice to get used to. It's important to embrace technology, though, considering it's effects on all that we do today.

Another important lesson is to "Listen to Your Students." Our students will feel much more at ease with us if we build a genuine relationship with them. They want to know we care, so we should try to understand their wants and needs. This will help make for a more wholesome classroom experience.

"Lastly...Never Stop Learning." It's impossible to think that one day we will have learned enough. The world is always changing and we constantly have to adapt to it. So why not let that filter into our classrooms? We will expect our students to learn on a daily basis. It would seem a little hypocritical of us to be unwilling to the same.

After his third year of teaching, Mr. McClung experienced many changes that added to his career. He began by mentioning "Know Who Your Boss Is." I think this applies to a lot of areas, but it's very easy to get wrapped up in what people think of you. As a teacher, it's just as easy to get so consumed that you forget about your own students; however, the students are the whole reason we get into teaching. With that in mind, we should keep our focus on them rather than how we appear to the administrators. Mr. McClung also made sure to mention that we shouldn't let our personal life affect our professional life. The students deserve our undivided attention and we need to avoid letting anything personal adversely affect our performance at school.

Sometimes it's hard being an optimist and maintaining a positive outlook, especially if you're surrounded by those that aren't quite as positive. So another thing Mr. McClung learned was "Don't Expect Others to be as Excited About Change as You Are." I share the same view as Mr. McClung in that I love new ideas and challenges. And although I may be very ready and willing to undertake those challenges while others may not, I can't let them discourage me. I will reap whatever benefits from that experience that I can and apply it to my life and my profession. I want the best for my students, so I need to be open to go to any length to get there... Which kind of leads into his next thought, "Don't Be Afraid To Be An Outsider." I'm not getting into this profession to show off and gain the approval of my colleagues. Again, my focus should be on the students. If my practices aren't falling in line with everyone else's, but they're to the benefit of my students, then so what?

"Don't Touch the Keyboard." If I learned anything growing up, it was by making mistakes. My parents believed that I would never learn for myself if they kept intervening. That lesson stayed with me my whole life, and I can very well relate it to teaching. If we truly want our students to succeed, we have to accept that they need to struggle a little to get there. The experience will be so much more valuable and stay with them a lot longer in life than if we were to do it all for them.

Finally, "Don't Get Comfortable." Something that might be very easy to do in this profession. But, like Mr. McCLung mentioned, "we cannot afford to be passive in education; we need to be willing to be 'movers and shakers' and be advocates for the changes that need to happen in our schools." Imagine how much more of an asset we would seem to be if we were constantly seeking new ways to improve ourselves and the education system. The world needs more people like that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blog Post 8

This Is How We Dream

Richard Miller recognizes that we have made the greatest change in communicating our ideas. We have moved away from print based works found in libraries and onto something more readily available. Something more widespread. Global, in fact. We are now part of a digital environment. We have all of the information we could ever want or need at our disposal. We don't have to leave our house because our work space is our desktop. We are not just limited to our university library, but we can "research the riches of the world as they're stored on the web." Better yet, it's free!

We are not limited anymore to compose with text alone either. We can incorporate images, videos, and sound. This adds life to our work and makes it more appealing. And although we are moving very quickly through this digital age, that doesn't mean what we publish will ever go outdated and become useless. We have the ability to update the information instantly. It can happen right before our eyes. This shows the power and the pragmatics of composing material digitally because our world and its ways are ever-changing.

Am I prepared to write with multimedia? The thought never really crossed my mind until I began EDM 310. This class opened my eyes to countless, useful methods to do so. I may not fully understand everything just yet, but it takes curiosity and dedication to want to expand my realm of knowledge. That is something I cannot risk either because future students will be counting on me to guide them. Who knows, they may even have something to teach me.

Blog Post 12 by Carly Pugh

I really appreciate Carly for creating this post. I think she is a very good example for Richard Miller's idea of learning through the internet. I agree with Carly that visuals are a great help. Depending on the subject, I may learn better with videos or some other digital aid. There are many resources that can help us incorporate these tools, and we should because we need "to keep the attention of our digital learners."

Carly created an extensive playlist on YouTube that included inspirational videos, videos on diversity, and videos on student teaching to name a few. It was all very inspiring. One video on her playlist that touched me was disability meets possibilty. I'm currently taking a class for exceptional children and youth and it made me realize that although kids with disabilities have special needs, they are more like other kids than they are different. A quote from our text by William L. Heward says, "It is important for speak, write, and think about exceptional children and adults in ways that respect each person's individuality and to recognize strengths and abilities instead of focusing only on disabilities." People with disabilities deserve the same quality of life as we would expect for ourselves, and it's not our place to judge them and deny them of that.

Six Questions for Every Day was a great way to wrap up the post. It was yet another video that I've come across this semester that was cause for self-reflection. A little disappointed after answering "no" to some of the questions, it made me realize how much we complicate life. How much we over think and try to control it. At least, that's how I tend to function sometimes. I think if we live a little more simply, lovingly, and with that child-like wonder, life would be a little more fulfilling.

The Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies

These videos were quite amusing, but they really portray what it feels like to be an EDM 310 student. In this class, it's important to be an active participant and stay on top of your work because we are part of a learning community. I'm always looking at my classmate's blogs outside of the assigned C4C, so I just assume others are looking at mine. It's encouraging when I find inspiration from my peers, or to see something in a different light. This class gives me a deeper appreciation for online learning.

If I were to create a video, I might focus on time management for these assignments. I was actually told by a classmate today that he was assigned to my blog once, but I didn't have anything new for him to comment on so he had to find another classmate's blog. I felt like I let him down. As I said before, we are part of a learning community. What we post isn't just busy work. It's there to show our development, and hopefully to inspire others.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

student in front of chalkboard looking for icons to click

The United States Department of Commerce ranked 55 industry sectors by their level of IT intensiveness and education ranked last, below coal mining. This piece of news is quite discouraging. "Technology is not a choice." Technology today is advancing at exponential rates, and we need to advance right along with it. Another quote that stood out to me was that "every turned off device is potentially a turned off child." In the classroom, children are told to put away their cell phones and forbidden from logging onto social networking sites. I once thought that they would be distracting from the lesson as well, but surprisingly you can learn a lot. After seeing the benefits from networking, these technologies could enhance the classroom experience. Let's use what the student's know in a way that's appropriate for the classroom and show them how much more productive they can be.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog Post 7

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

image of Randy Pausch
After watching this video, I was amazed at how much Mr. Pausch accomplished in his life. This goes to show that we can do anything we put our minds to. And although there may be many obstacles along the way, we should never give up.

Mr. Pausch had a lot of dreams as a child and one them was to play in the NFL. He never made it that far, but he said he learned a lot more from not accomplishing that dream than he did from any other dream he had. An important lesson he took away from playing football was the "head-fake." The concept here is that most of what we learn, we learn in directly. We get our kids involved with sports not just because it's fun and a great way to help them stay active, but we hope they learn more important things like teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance. And those things will help get them further in life.

Mr. Pausch also pointed out that brick walls were there for a reason. He said they let us prove how badly we want things. I never thought of it that way, but it makes so much sense. A lot of times when things get hard, people just give up. But if we are really determined to get what we want and worked so hard to get there, giving up should not be an option. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Later on Mr. Pausch recalls asking the question, "How can I enable the childhood dreams of others?" He said that he was glad he became a professor because that seemed to be the perfect profession to do so. At his university, he set up a course that involved building virtual worlds. Mr. Pausch said he was was blown away by his students just after the first assignment. He honestly wasn't sure how well they would do because he modeled the projects after his experience at Imagineering, and they were undergraduates and didn't have the best tools to work with. Mr. Pausch wasn't sure how to proceed after this. He decided to call his mentor and was told to tell the students, "That was good, but I know you can do better." And this was the perfect advice because Mr. Pausch obviously had the bar set too low, which is the worst thing to do to students. Everyone has the ability to create great works, and if we set limits they will never reach their full potential.

At the very end of the video, Mr. Pausch asked if we figured out the "head-fake" behind his lecture. The lecture wasn't about achieving your childhood dreams, but it was about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, everything will fall into place. There was a second "head-fake," and although the video ended abruptly when he revealed it, it was actually very touching. Mr. Pausch stated the lecture wasn't for us, but it was for his children. This whole lecture documented his life, his dreams, his achievements, and the lessons he learned along the way. Mr. Pausch can't physically be with his children anymore as they chase their own dreams. I believe he recorded this video to show them that, in addition to how you interact with people, nothing is impossible if you stay focused and determined.

This was a very powerful video, and Mr. Pausch is remarkably inspirational. There are a lot of other lessons included in this video that I didn't mention, but they are all equally important. After watching the video, I don't think it would hurt to evaluate ourselves and our own outlook on life. I know there are a few things I could work on.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

C4T Summary 2

Lost in the Documentation Abyss

Stephanie Shouldis has spent the last five years as an Intervention Specialist. She wrote a blog about her concerns with all of the time she spends on paperwork and documentation, more time than she spends with teaching. Not only that, but no one ever really looked at the documents. A former special education director told her to "keep it for seven years in case the school was audited." This bothered Stephanie because she feels the purpose of documenting is to help guide our teaching.

When looking at comments on twitter one day, she noticed a lot of people mentioning the site She dismissed the tool at first, but then read an article that explains "the use of portfolios to collect records, accomplishments or reveal areas of needed growth within the student’s work." She decided it was the perfect tool for her purpose after all, and began creating ePortfolios through LiveBinders to document student’s progress on their IEP goals and objectives.

This tool made a world of a difference in her documentation process. She can upload recordings of students reading, of her talking to them, or follow a SMARTboard recording of a student completing a problem. This saves her a lot of hassle from actually writing notes, and she finds she is more involved with the students now. Parents can even follow their child's progress through the use of ePortfolios.

It is kind of convenient that I am taking EDM310 as well as a course for exceptional children and youth. The latter course really opened my eyes to the challenges educators face when dealing with children with learning disabilities. The process of trying to take as many detailed notes about a particular student(s) can really take away from teaching the class. I commented that with the live documentation she must be relieved and also have a better detailed record of the student's needs.

She also feels there is more authenticity to her work now. She is not just taking notes for the purpose of being audited, but this process is helping the quality of work that follows. I thanked her for sharing this tool because it seems like it could be helpful in all classroom situations.

Unpleasant realities from your theory

This blog was written by LaRon Carter, a former K-12 special education teacher. He introduced the blog with a short message of a teacher being chastised for his student's failures:
angry boss pointing his finger

"Our students suffer from your insecurities, your lack of integrity, and your lacking courage to fight for what’s right when the odds are stacked against you."

Needless to say, this is very unprofessional. Not only that, but no one likes to be singled out. Then Carter posed the question, "Would you be willing to accept accountability for your student’s failures more easily if it were a team effort – If it were written to address behavioral flaws instead of a character issue?"

In my response I said I would have been very discouraged if I received that type of message. Maybe I felt like I was doing my best to create a caring, encouraging environment. If the message was written as if it was a team effort, however, I would be more inclined to accept accountability. I feel that there is strength in numbers. When addressing a problem, there is no doubt that more than one person can benefit from its solution. And the more people working together towards the same goals, the more successful we could be.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Timetoast Instructional Project 9b

I chose to make a timeline of wars that America has been involved in since the American Revolution. All of the information and photos were found on

Thursday, October 6, 2011

PLN Progress Report 1

screenshot of my first Symbaloo webmix

I chose to use Symbaloo for my PLN and it's slowly coming along. I like how you can create a number of different webmixes. That appeals to me because I like to organize things by categories, or its relevancy to each other. I could have a "social networking" mix, a "travel" mix, a "music" mix, and so on. I'm still in the process of customizing it all. I added the "EDU Tools" webmix as well. I haven't explored each tile in that mix just yet. There appears to be a lot of useful tools on this grid though.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blog Post 6

The Networked Student

In this video, Wendy Drexler illustrates the life of a 21st century student. The school week is modified to 3 days a week in the classroom and 2 days online, there are no textbooks, and his teacher almost never lectures. Drexler then presents the theory of Connectivism. The idea here is that "learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties." Networking is possible through many technological tools that are available. It's important to note, however, that the tools are not as important as the connections made possible by them. In other words, the student is taking control of their own learning by building connections with others.

students connected by networks
So why does the networked student even need a teacher? This video actually assures teachers that they still play a vital role in the learning process. The teacher will be acting as a guide. They will be there to help students build their network, show students how to communicate effectively, and how to respectfully ask questions of professionals. The teacher will help the student distinguish good information from that which would mislead them, and also help to organize the information they find.

But am I ready to be a teacher of the networked student? Well, now I'm not so sure. I never really considered the impact of technology in the classroom, but I thought I had a good foundation with technology today. The introduction to EDM 310, however, was a huge wake up call. We are fortunate to have this class because of the direction teaching is heading. I look forward to expanding my knowledge base and sharing what I have learned.

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment

This 7th grader is extremely organized. I can tell she uses her PLE to its full potential by how easily she navigated through it and how she provided such detailed descriptions for each tool. A few of them peaked my interest. My PLE hardly touches hers though. I like the concept of Symbaloo and would like to begin incorporating that in my PLE.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

C4K Summary - September

Meghan's History

For my first C4K, I was assigned to Meghan and I commented on her "History" post. Her class had an assignment similar to our Timetoast project. She had to choose 10 significant events that affected her life so far and then create a timeline. That inspired me to write my own list of significant events. Some of the things on my list made me happy, and other things not so much. I shared that thought with Meghan, but I told her it's good to reflect on all of these things because what happens in our past makes us who we are today.

She also brought in a few objects to represent each event and made a little museum. I noticed a basketball and softball. I told her we have softball in common and that it's my favorite sport to play, but I'm not so good at basketball. She also had a medal and trophy for basketball, so I commended her on that.

Vietnam War protester
At the end of her blog, she mentioned her class had to decide what was important to learn about in American History. They could decide what was important by what has changed our lives today. Meghan said she would like to learn about the wars. I asked her if there was a specific war she'd like to learn about more than others. She replied with the Vietnam War. I told her that is definitely worth learning about. Not only was it the longest war in American history, but it was also a very unpopular war. It affected our culture in many ways, so I hope she learns as much as she can about it.

I asked Meghan a few more questions about basketball season and if she will play, how her school year is going, and if there is a subject that really interests her right now. So I hope we keep in contact.

Cruz @ PT England School

Cruz is part of Room 19 in Mr. Harris' class, and they had to research different Auckland town centres that have adopted rugby teams. Cruz found out information for a place called Mangere Bridge. It is a very friendly area, and a great way to "acclimatize to New Zealand culture."

I noticed Cruz's favorite sport is rugby, but I really had no idea what it was about. So I did a little research and looked up a few rugby videos on YouTube. I told him it seems like a very intense sport. It appears to be a cross between soccer and American football. I also asked him how long he has been playing the sport. I'm awaiting his response.

Interview Book Report on Satchel Paige

Elise, Cade, and Danielle did a wonderful job conducting and recording their interview. I was very impressed because they did not have any time to rehearse. I would have been a nervous wreck in front of the camera, especially without practicing beforehand. It was cool to see them using the iPad, too. I hope they continue use the iPad and other similar tools to help enhance their learning experience.