Sunday, October 28, 2012

Project #10 My PLN

My Personal Learning Network

Claire's Personal Learning Network

I chose to use Symbaloo to create my PLN. As I was researching the perfect place to begin my PLN, Symbaloo was definitely the most user-friendly. Dr. Strange provided us with a lot of different examples of how to create a personal learning network. A few of which were: "A 7th Graders Personal Learning Environment," Steven Anderson's "Building Your PLN-A Primer For Anyone," and "Personal Learning Networks." I am so impressed by the idea of a PLN, and I am so excited to continue building my own personal learning network. Symbaloo's home webmix provided a lot of the websites I already frequently visit, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, and eBay. I added a few more of my favorites such as Pinterest, University of South Alabama's Homepage, the EDM310 Class Blog, the Nike website, and Etsy. I really like that a PLN can contain both personal items as well as items I will use in my academic and professional life.

Like Dr. Strange said, a PLN is not just a method of presenting and organizing; it is set of people and tools to call upon for help, consultation, collaboration, and other assistance. I have already started a list of people I want to add to my PLN that I have encountered through Twitter, C4T, and C4K assignments from EDM310. I can't wait to continue building and adding to my PLN. I can already tell I'm going to spend a lot of time on it because I love organizing my different websites. I also can't wait to build my list of people who are going to be able to help me in the future. Thanks for introducing me to this awesome thing, Dr. Strange! I'll definitely be using this tool outside of EDM310.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blog Assignment #9

Mr. McClung's End of School Year Reflection for 2010-11

Super Grade A+ Teacher
At the end of each year, Mr. McClung writes a blog post reflecting on his adventures, accomplishments and learnings. For the first part of our assignment, I chose to read Mr. McClung's post "What I Learned This Year (2010-11)." He began by talking about all of the changes that had occurred during the year: it was his first year to teach at the same school for more than one year, it was his first experience as a cross country head coach, and it was also his first experience as a computer applications teacher. He made several inspiring points in his post, discussing the impact these changes had on him as an educator. One point he made was knowing who your boss is. As a teacher, he did a lot of people-pleasing on a daily basis, but the people he set out to please were adults (administration) rather than his students. He talked about how important it is not to get consumed with trying to please individuals, especially if you begin neglecting your own students. He made an eye-opening statement that really stuck with me; he said, "Our decision making process should always be student centered and not centered around pleasing adults." As a coach myself, I also find that I try to please the administration of the school and/or the parents of my players. Sometimes, I would get so focused on making sure they liked what I was doing that I lost focus on my main priority: my players. After some soul-searching, I vouched that I would strive to never again lose my main focus. Just as Mr. McClung's duty is to his students, my duty is to my players, their development in volleyball, and their well-being. I was able to really relate to Mr. McClung's description of this topic.

Mr. McClung went on to talk about not being afraid to be an outsider and not getting too comfortable with an everyday routine. He discussed how he enjoyed hanging out and eating lunch with his students more so than he did with his fellow teachers. He described how it's okay if you don't "fit in" as a teacher because there will always be people who don't like what your doing or how your doing it. He stated, "I play my music way too loud, I eat my lunch with students and not in the teacher's lounge, I enjoy being connected to my students through blogging and social media, and I enjoy being immature." I thought that was very admirable of him to say. I think it's important to be an outgoing teacher who can relate to his or her students, while also teaching them information on how to accomplish goals they may have never thought possible. Mr. McClung also talked about how a teacher's biggest fear should be when he or she becomes too comfortable. Though routines are good, we do not need to become so comfortable in our daily routines that we coast through our work. We need to become "movers and shakers" in education according to Mr. McClung, and to do that, we need to be passionate advocates for the changes that need to happen in our schools.

Mr. McClung's End of School Year Reflection for 2011-12

A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart
For the second part of our assignment, I read Mr. McClung's post "What I Learned This Year - Volume 4 (2011-12)." This post was Mr. McClung's year four reflection on teaching. It related to his year three reflection because he again talked about pleasing his peers (which are his fellow teachers). He said that this year he was going to make a point to try and see how his peers viewed him and the way he taught. Though he was pleasing his students, he wanted to explore the thoughts of his peers. After further reflection, he realized that he has to "dance with the one who brought him to the dance." His focus has always been on making sure his students have fun, so he decided that is what he needs to stick with. Being a people-pleasing person myself, Mr. McClung's ideas are something I need to keep in mind. The main focus of being an educator should always be the students. Though it is not wrong to please adults, we should continue to focus on making sure the kids are taken care of and are enjoying class.

The second topic Mr. McClung discussed in his post was challenging yourself. This school year was his third consecutive year teaching the same subjects at the same school. He found himself resorting to using the same lesson plans and activities, so his creativity was beginning to vanish. He said, "My goal as an educator is to do everything I can to ensure that students enjoy class and not resent school as I did as a child." I can relate to that because as a kid, I hated when my teachers did the same boring, monotonous thing day in and day out. After a while, I wasn't challenged anymore because the teachers had been doing the same lessons and using the same materials for years and years. When I first began my journey to becoming a future teacher, I made a promise to myself; I would not be "that" teacher that the students did not enjoy going to her class. Though one of my main goals is to ensure my students receive a quality education, I want to impact their lives on more than just an academic level. Just as Mr. McClung described, I want my students to leave my class with a sense that I cared about them personally and that I did everything I could to make their school year awesome.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blog Assignment #8

This Is How We Dream Parts 1 and 2

Dr. Richard E. Miller's videos, "This Is How We Dream Parts 1 and 2," discuss the idea of writing in a new multimedia age. Dr. Miller is a professor in the English Department at Rutgers University, and his videos give an awesome glimpse into what the future of writing on the web holds. He begins the first video with a powerful image; he states, "I think we are living at the moment of the greatest change in human communication in human history." I thought that was an extremely valid statement. If you really stop and think about it, the world has never been more technologically advanced as it is today, and it is well on its way to becoming more advanced with each passing day. Dr. Miller discusses how he use to work in a place with pencils, books, and papers and how he would have to go to libraries to gather information and data. He then describes how his workplace now is in word processing on his laptop. He said people everywhere are now able to research the riches of the world as they are stored on the web, and his videos advocate his views on utilizing the web as much as possible when writing.

Student Change
Dr. Miller goes on to discuss a research project he composed about the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. He was able to freely access documents online, and he never had to set foot in a library to research information. Finding articles and data online is not like going to the library anymore; we literally have an academic world at our fingertips. Not only does Dr. Miller stress the importance of the web when writing, but he is very interested in writing text collaborated with images, films, and other archives on the web. This really stuck out to me because I definitely agree that using images and videos mixed with text is one of the best ways to grab students' attention. I am a visual learner, and if I open a book or Internet article that is all text with no pictures/videos, my brain automatically registers a message of "wow, I already do not want to read this material because it is going to be boring." I feel like a lot of students have that same reaction, but just like Dr. Miller describes, the utilization of multimedia can completely change those notions.

Online Learning Community
Part two of Dr. Miller's video confronts how this new kind of material we are able to access on the web changes right before our eyes and is updated instantly and constantly. He notes how important it is for us to collaboratively share the information we access on the web. He says, "People are beginning to understand that ideas don't belong to us individually, but to us as a culture, and we, as educators, must be in the business of sharing ideas freely." I really like how he worded that statement. As educators, we have the opportunity to get behind the material and see how it's put together. We should be willing to help fellow educators and students gain as much information as possible to increase their learning and understanding. It is much better to have a community of learners rather than one single learner who has to do everything by him or herself. Dr. Miller's description of the sharing community reminds me a lot of what Dr. Strange is teaching us in EDM310. I love how we are able to gain all kinds of viewpoints and research on different material from different professors and students. I really enjoyed Dr. Miller's videos, and I am excited for the new information about writing on the web that will soon be available, if it's not already. By the time I have my own classroom with my future students, I cannot even imagine where the world will be when it comes to web learning and writing. I do know though that I will embrace the new technology as it comes and do everything I can to integrate it into my teaching and into my student's lives.

Carly's YouTube Playlist

First off, I would like to say that Carly had a wonderful idea for her Blog Post #12. She presented such a creative idea, and I really enjoyed reading her post because she was such an enthusiastic and cheerful writer. For her assignment (which is an assignment we will have to do fairly soon), she had to brainstorm an idea that she felt was good enough for Dr. Strange himself to assign to the EDM310 class.

YouTube Playlist
Carly decided to create a YouTube playlist, composed of several videos related to the field of teaching. In her assignment directions, she gave several ideas for the students to choose from. For example, students could: describe the kind of teacher you would like to be, show ways you can motivate your students, offer tips on classroom management, offer tutorials on programs you have learned about in this class that you like so much you would like to use (podcast, iPods, PLN's, etc.) I love how she provided a link to her own personal playlist for the students to explore and draw inspiration from. She said, "I even created my own playlist because good teachers teach by example. In my playlist, there's a few that are inspirational because, in a perfect classroom students actually have to think."

Carly's assignment follows Dr. Miller's hopes for writing with multimedia very closely. Her description of the YouTube playlist would allow students to find and store as many videos as possible related to their particular field of teaching and style. This would allow for creativity in multimedia writing, and students would be able to include these videos, images, and texts into their writing, which would benefit them greatly. I believe Dr. Miller would be very proud of Carly's work, and I think she did a wonderful job with coming up with a great assignment. Awesome work, Carly!

EDM310 is Different

In the video "The Chipper Series," Chipper, who is played by Jamie Lynn Miller (a former EDM310 student), talks with Dr. Strange several times about different things going on in her life. She first discusses how she thinks she should be able to turn her work in whenever she gets it done, even if it's late. Even though she procrastinates, she still thinks she should get credit. After confronting Dr. Strange about how she didn't like his teaching practices, she dropped out of school and decided to start her own school, the Timeline Pilot School. In her school, students can choose the time slot of when they want to go to class, and they can decide how long they want to stay in each class. After numerous glitches and failures, the FFA shuts her school down. As a backup plan, Chipper decides to go back to school to become a teacher. Dr. Strange's friend, Ms. Wright, ends up firing Chipper from her job as a teacher because she never showed up to teach her class. After a few more failed attempts of procrastination, Chipper finally comes to the conclusion that she must cleanse her ways, go back to school, and not procrastinate.

EDM310 for Dummies
In the video "EDM310 for Dummies," Poppy Bednorz, Jamie Lynn Miller, and Jennifer Chambers create a book called "EDM310 for Dummies." They express the frustrations they had in EDM310 before they were fully able to understand how great the class was for them. After they read their newly found book, they learned all the tips and tricks to help make EDM310 a wonderful learning experience for them.

These two videos were great in helping me think of videos I hope to create in the future in EDM310. They had such unique and interesting ideas, and they used humor and lots of detailed information to help their viewers understand the message they were trying to portray. I think a video about the transformation EDM310 helps students make would be really cool. For example, it would be neat to show the story of a student's journey through the class, from the very beginning to the end product. You could illuminate problems encountered and most importantly, solutions on how to manage those problems.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

Technology in the Classroom
In the video "Learn to Change, Change to Learn," distinguished individuals in education discuss the need for change in the classroom. These educators talk about how technology should not be a choice anymore in the classroom; it is fundamentally needed to educate our children. I really enjoyed this video, and I definitely agree with the message they are portraying. Kids do not just learn in the classroom; they learn in their communities, libraries, museums, and of course, on the web. It is our job as educators to integrate this kind of learning into the classroom. Teachers should be a window of opportunity for students, and we should be preparing them not only for college but for the real world as well. Like they said in the video, it's not just about checking off standards anymore, it is about truly engaging students in learning. I hope to accomplish what this video lays out when I myself become an educator.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0

This assignment was suggested by a former EDM310 student, Justin Cometti Fall 2011. Just like Carly created a YouTube playlist, Justin came up with the Scavenger Hunt 2.0. We were given a list of five items and were told to choose three of the five. We were also given a few resources to help us with this assignment: "Discovery Education Web 2.0 for 2011," "Discovery Education's WEB 20.11," and "WEB 2.0 Tools."

Assignment 1:
The first item that I found was Ning, which is a tool similar to Twitter/Facebook. Ning is your key to an awesome social community. Though Ning, you can create a perfect social website to help bring people from all around the world together. With your own look and feel, and choice of social integration, Ning opens new doors to revenue and involvement. Teachers can use Ning to create a supportive place to enrich their students' learning. Here is a list of a few great things Ning provides for educators:
1) Forums (provide the podium to explore, share, and discuss)
2) Photo Gallery (brings educational projects to life)
3) YouTube Integration (provides a seamless, rich media experience)
4) Social Sign-in (makes sign-in easy for members with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo)

I could easily integrate Ning into my future classroom. Ning provides numerous ways to use technology to help teach students, and I will definitely be using it to teach my future students.

Assignment 2:
For the second item we were assigned, I chose to create a poll on "Poll Everywhere." Polls are a great and fun way to get students involved with answering questions inside and outside of the classroom. Since I am studying to become an English teacher, I chose to create a poll that lets students express which type of writing they like the most: Narrative, Expository, Descriptive, or Persuasive. Students could respond to the poll on their cell phones or computers the day before I teach the lesson so that I can get a feel for which writing they enjoy the most. You can check out my poll here: Claire's Writing Poll.

Assignment 3:
For my third assignment, I chose to make my own comic strip on Make Beliefs Comix. This would be a fun and creative way for students to enjoy a project or assignment. My comic strip describes a day in the life of an EDM310 student. I've included a picture of my comic strip (click to enlarge), but you can also check it out here: Claire's Comic Strip. Claire's Comic Strip

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

C4T #2

Adventures in Pencil Integration: Remember Pencil Quests?

I was assigned to Mr. Spencer for my second C4T assignment. His blog is entitled "Adventures in Pencil Integration," which grabbed my attention immediately. When I was first exploring Mr. Spencer's blog, I saw that he had written this in his biography: "I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically." I thought that was an awesome and powerful thing to say. Teaching, writing, and living authentically are things I personally want to accomplish as well. The first post I read of Mr. Spencer's was "Remember Pencil Quests?" His entire post was written to describe a story through his use of dialogue. The conversation was between him and his former teacher. The teacher told the class that they were going on a pencil quest. The class immediately got very excited because they thought they were going on a field trip. Little did they know that this quest would be an adventure through imagination and writing with their pencil in the classroom. Mr. Spencer's post focuses on how important imagination is when writing and how vital it is that writing be made fun.

In my first comment to Mr. Spencer, I began by introducing myself and explaining how I would be commenting on his blog for my EDM310 class. I gave him my email address and links to my blog and the class blog where he could get in touch with me if he wanted to. I told him how interesting and captivating his use of dialogue was and how I could relate to his description of pencil quests. I explained how I am studying to become a middle or high school English teacher, and I told him how passionate I am about writing and teaching others about writing. I let him know that I would love to use his idea of the pencil quest in my future classroom to get my students excited about the writing process and about using their imaginations. I concluded by thanking him for his thoughts.

Adventures in Pencil Integration: The Con Academy

The Flipped Classroom
Mr. Spencer's second post I read was "The Con Academy." He again used dialogue to tell his readers a story. The conversation in this post was between him and his boss, the principal of the school where he worked. His principal led him to a classroom to talk with Sam, an advocate of the flipped classroom. The basic idea was that Mr. Spencer felt that a flipped classroom is beneficial in some ways, but he described how he still enjoyed using a simple pencil to accomplish great things in the classroom. He wanted to blend students working individually with students working collectively as a class. He said that the free gift of the flipped classroom should not be taken lightly and should be combined with other teaching methods.

In my second comment to Mr. Spencer, I again told him how clever I thought his use of dialogue to tell a story was. I let him know that I had recently learned about what the flipped classroom was as I was researching in my EDM310 class. I then told him that I thought there should be a happy medium between flipping the classroom and maintaining a healthy student-teacher relationship. Teachers shouldn't get so bogged down with the details of how to flip their classroom that they lose focus of the most important thing: the students. I told him that I thought a blend of technology with "pencil writing," as he described, would help students succeed in the classroom.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blog Assignment #7

The Networked Student

The Networked Teacher
Wendy Drexler's "The Networked Student" is a very interesting video. It depicts a project completed by Mrs. Drexler's actual high school students. The video begins by describing connectivism, which is a theory that presumes learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties. The network is made possible through various tools of technology, and it is a way for teachers to lecture less while students can learn more. Mrs. Drexler empowers her students to take control of their learning and make new connections with others who will strengthen their learning process. Before students are able to begin this adventure, they must build their personal learning networks. Students must research various websites to find credible and reliable information on the topic they are wanting to learn about. Not only are students able to post the information they found to their personal network, but they are also able to connect with others who are researching the same topic.

"The Networked Student" reminds me a lot of EDM310. It wasn't until I entered this class that I gained the understanding that personal learning networks are extremely important and necessary. I wasn't able to gain this viewpoint until my third year of college, but I love how Mrs. Drexler is instilling this into her students beginning in high school. It becomes very mundane and repetitive when a teacher stands at the front of the classroom constantly lecturing students day in and day out. Students then must regurgitate the information back to the teacher so he or she knows they understand the material. The networked student does not have to go through any of this to learn and explore new information. I think the personal learning network is a fantastic idea because students are able to connect with people from all over the web. When I did my first C4K for EDM310, I just thought it was the coolest thing ever that I was actually commenting on a post all the from New Zealand. The networked student is able to connect with others from all around the world, and in doing so, he or she is able to gain a broader understanding and knowledge of any given topic.

The Networked Student
I really enjoyed "A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (or PLN)" because it was very relatable to Wendy Drexler's video. Viewing this seventh grader's personal learning environment was very eye-opening to me. It's so awesome that a 12-year-old science student was able to accomplish what she has accomplished on her PLE at such a young age. I loved when she said "Because there is so much freedom, you have the inclination to be responsible." Her PLE was a lot like the PLN I am gradually forming in EDM310. Like her, I feel a great sense of freedom, but with that freedom comes great responsibility. This video reminded me a lot about one of the main questions brought up by Mrs. Drexler's video, and that is "Why does the networked student even need a teacher?" The networked teacher is there for numerous reasons: to offer guidance when a student gets stuck, to show students how to communicate properly and how to respectively ask experts for help, to show students how to turn research into a scavenger hunt, and to help students get excited when they find the content they are searching for. After watching the videos on personal learning networks, I am excited to become a networked teacher. I will strive to implement each lesson I learned in these videos into my future classroom because I want my students to learn how to accomplish a PLN early in their academic careers.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blog Assignment #6

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture

Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture was incredibly moving and inspirational. He is a fantastic speaker, and his message was very humbling for me. At the time he was giving this last lecture, Dr. Pausch was battling a life-threatening cancer, and he knew he most likely would not be around for much longer. Many of us probably would use our last speech to express how sad we were about the disease, but Dr. Pausch was so energetic and positive. He wanted to use his circumstances to inspire others, rather than using his lecture to focus on himself. He began by discussing his childhood dreams and how he accomplished each of them in some way or another. He stressed the importance of dreaming and how the inspiration to dream is huge. It is important for us to have specific dreams; a few of his dreams were as follows: being in zero gravity, playing in the NFL, and being a Disney Imagineer. One dream that stuck out the most to me was his wish to play in the NFL. He described how he had a coach that said there were 22 people on the football field, but only one carried the ball. His coach wanted to focus on what the other 21 players were doing. I enjoyed this analogy of establishing the fundamentals because as a volleyball coach, fundamentals is something I strive to instill in my players each day. As a future teacher, I want to establish a classroom based on fundamentals so that my students will be prepared to move on to bigger and better things.

Dr. Pausch also used the analogy of "brick walls" several times in his lecture. Brick walls are in our lives to let us prove how badly we want things, and they stop the people who don't want it bad enough. They let us show how high our dedication level is. I've heard the analogy of tearing down walls before, but the way Dr. Pausch put it really hit home with me. Not only will I have to conquer brick walls as a teacher, but I am certain I will also encounter students who are struggling with conquering their own brick walls. They may be struggling with schoolwork, experiencing problems in their home lives, or having a hard time with their friends. I want to be a source of positivity and encouragement for my students, and I want to be able to look past my own needs and focus on every possible way I can to help them conquer their brick walls. I will strive to use resources inside my classroom to help my students not only learn academic information, but I want to help them learn life lessons as well.

Dr. Pausch's Family
Another item Dr. Pausch talked about was the "head fake." He says that the best way to teach someone something is to make them think they are learning something else. Most of the time when we learn, we do so indirectly. I think this can most certainly be applied in the classroom. I know that I personally enjoy learning things when I don't specifically set out to accomplish something or intentionally study something. Some of the greatest lessons I have learned in life have been indirectly. It becomes more fun and less of a hassle to learn things that we aren't necessarily required to learn. For example, a teacher can use a field trip to help students learn about history and the world around them. Field trips can be extremely educational, but the students are able to have a great time in the process. In his conclusion of speaking about the "head fake," Dr. Pausch explained how if you head fake about how to lead your life, dreams will come to you. In other words, if you allow yourself to let loose and learn, your dreams will inevitably fall into place.

I really enjoyed Dr. Pausch's concluding thoughts in his last lecture. He stressed the importance of having fun, and he compared his fun side in life to a fish in water. Fun for Dr. Pausch is necessary for a successful life. I enjoyed how he urged us to decide whether we were a "Tigger" or an "Eeyore." We can either be excited, positive, and ready to conquer the world, or we can become down and disappointed about the negative circumstances in our lives. He also said how we are to never lose our child-like wonder because it is what drives us to help others. In my future classroom, I will strive to stress the importance of cherishing feedback, showing gratitude, and working hard, just like Dr. Pausch described. I want to encourage my students to find the best in everybody, no matter how long they have to wait for them to show it.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to watch Dr. Pausch's last lecture. He has taught me so many lessons that I can apply in my personal life and hopefully instill in my students. He is a phenomenal speaker, and I will definitely use his lecture as a source of inspiration to refer back to.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

C4K Summary for September

C4K #1

For C4K #1, I was assigned to Ofa's blog. Ofa attends Pt England School in Auckland, NZ, and she is in Ms. Ouano's fifth grade class. In Ofa's post, she described how Tunnel Beach was named after John Cargill. She gave details about why it was named Tunnel Beach, and she drew a colorful picture that she shared on her blog. In my comment to Ofa, I first began by introducing myself and letting her know I was in college at the University of South Alabama. I thanked her for sharing the information about John Cargill with us because I did not know that is where Tunnel Beach got its name from. I told her how pretty her picture was and to keep up the great work. In hopes of starting a conversation, I asked her if she had ever been to Tunnel Beach before. I concluded by letting her know how excited I was to continue reading her posts.

C4K #2

The movie Brave
For C4K #2, I was assigned to Grace's blog. Grace is in Mr. Marks' sixth grade class at Pt England School in Auckland, NZ. In Grace's post, she described what she had done the past weekend. She explained that her cousin came over for the weekend, and they had lots of fun together going to see the movie "Brave." They also went swimming and played on the trampoline. She was excited to be able to play and hang out with her cousin. In my comment to Grace, I began by introducing myself and explaining that I was in college in the United States of America. I praised her for her colorful and fun blog, and I told her that it seemed like she had a wonderful time over the weekend. I explained that I also loved doing activities like going to the movies and going swimming. I told her that I had not seen the movie "Brave" before, and in hopes of getting a response back, I asked her if she enjoyed the movie. I concluded by thanking her for the wonderful post, and I let her know to keep up the great work.