Friday, November 30, 2012

Final Report on PLN

I am so excited for the progress I have made on my PLN! Let me just say that I love it and that I am so thankful to EDM310 for introducing me to the wonderful world of personal learning networks. When I first started building my PLN, I had a few resources in mind that I wanted to add to it, but as the semester has progressed, the list I have been building has grown so much. I have learned of so many wonderful resources through EDM310, many of which include teachers' blogs we have encountered and countless resources on Twitter. It's so nice to know where I can immediately go to find information on schools, classroom ideas, how to manage the classroom, and so much more. A few of my favorite educational websites that I have added to my PLN include South's homepage, Sakai, the EDM310 homepage, Dr. Strange's website, and blogger.

Though my personal learning network is fabulous for the educational parts of my life, it is also wonderful for the personal sites I visit each day. These sites include: Twitter (though it is educational as well), Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Ebay, Etsy, and Shutterfly. Symbaloo was a great choice for me to set up my PLN because it is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. I love having all of my sites, both educational and personal, so accessible with the simple click of a button. I will most definitely continue adding to my PLN even when I finish EDM310 because this is a tool that will benefit me greatly as an educator.

Here is a picture of my lovely PLN (I added a pretty tropical background too):

Claire's Final PLN

C4T #4

Holiday Card Exchange Project

I was assigned to Mrs. Kelly Hines for my fourth C4T assignment. I originally was assigned to her blog entitled "Keeping Kids First," but the last post she made directed all of her readers to her her new blog, "In the Trenches." Mrs. Hines is in her 14th year of teaching in Piedmont, North Carolina. In the blog post I read, "Holiday Card Exchange Project," Mrs. Hines explained a project that she did with her class. She got the idea for the project from a website called Projects by Jen. Mrs. Hines described how she wanted to celebrate the holidays with her students, while also making a variety of curricular and cultural connections. She included a component of service by having her class send a card to a children’s charity. Along with sending the cards, Mrs. Hines urged teachers to do a few things: pin a Google Map where students can see where their cards are going, have the students research the place where their letters are going, and make Skype calls with the classes you are coordinating with to share about the letters. Along with these suggestions, Mrs. Hines also urged teachers to blog about the experience of sending and exchanging cards.

In my first comment to Mrs. Hines, I began by introducing myself and letting her know that for my EDM310 class I would be commenting on her blog for the next few weeks. I gave her my email address and links to both my personal blog and the class blog. I praised Mrs. Hines for her great post, and I let her know that I really enjoyed learning about the holiday card exchange project. Since I am studying to become a teacher, I told her how much I appreciated hearing present teachers' suggestions on projects. I went on to tell her how vital I thought it was for students to be taught the importance of serving and helping others. I also told her how neat I thought it was that she pinned a Google Map for her kids to see where there cards were going. I concluded by thanking her for her wonderful post and ideas.

Genre Posters & Ideas
Poster ideas

The second post I read of Mrs. Hines's was entitled "Genre Posters & Ideas." I really enjoyed reading all of Mrs. Hines's posts because she always provides fun ideas for the classroom. In this post, she describes how teachers and students can utilize posters in the classroom. She found a really great blog entitled "Think Share Teach" where she discovered an awesome Polka Dot Genre Poster that was completely free to download. She told us how she printed hers and laminated it on 18"x24" construction paper with a large open space at the bottom for her students to add thoughts and ideas to. She said that she would also let her students write the titles of the books they are reading on small sticky notes and leave them on the right genre poster so they can track the types of books they're reading. She concluded her post by asking her readers what ideas they could come up with for these awesome print-outs.

In my second comment to Mrs. Hines, I praised her for another wonderful post full of great ideas. I let her know that I explored the "Think Share Teach" blog like she suggested and that I found many more great ideas for the classroom there as well. I told her that because I am studying to become a future teacher, I always enjoy finding as many resources possible from present teachers. I also told her that I thought posters were a great way for students to become engaged in learning while having a great time doing so. I mentioned that posters were also a great way to add colorful decorations to the classroom, which is always a plus. I let Mrs. Hines know that English was my focus in college, so I really appreciated her reference of the polka dot genre posters. These posters are a great way for students to learn the different types of reading genres. I concluded my comment to Mrs. Hines by thanking her for her wonderful idea of these posters, and I let her know that I looked forward to reading more of her great thoughts and ideas.

Monday, November 26, 2012

C4K Summary for November

C4K #8

Noah's Ark America's Largest Waterpark
For C4K #8, I was assigned to Dakota's blog. Dakota is an 8th grade student in Mr. Boylen's class located in Iowa. I read her post entitled "Noah's Ark," which I learned is deemed as "America's Largest Waterpark." Dakota is a fabulous writer, and she uses very descriptive and vivid language and details. In her post, she took us through her day at Noah's Ark. She talked about how fun all of the different rides were, and she described the feelings she felt as she slid down each slide. She used a lot of dialogue throughout her story, which made it personal and enjoyable to read. She concluded her story by telling us how much she enjoyed her day and how thankful she was for having the opportunity to go. In my comment to Dakota, I began by introducing myself and letting her know I was a student in EDM310. I praised her for how well she writes, and I told her how much I enjoyed her descriptive details. I also told her that I too love going to water parks, and I described how much fun everyone always has riding all of the different slides. I let her know that her story had me so interested in Noah's Ark that I looked it up on Google to see all of the different rides she described. After seeing all of the awesome pictures, I can definitely see why she had such an enjoyable day. I ended my comment by telling her to keep up the great work and that I looked forward to reading more of her posts in the future.

C4K #9

Napoleon Bonaparte
For C4K #9, I was assigned to Aaron's blog. Aaron is in Mr. Cometti's 9th grade IB World History class. I read his post entitled "Napoleon Bonaparte." For this particular assignment, Mr. Cometti's class was required to select one chapter or event from the life of Marie Antoinette or Napoleon Bonaparte and write a minimum of four paragraphs. They were also required to provide at least one picture and link to the chapter or event they were summarizing. Aaron did a great job with his post about Napoleon! He met all of the requirements Mr. Cometti set out before the class. He included many details about Napoleon and events that happened at various ages during his lifetime. He talked about how Napoleon was in the military, how he fought battles, how he was exiled, and about his home life. In my comment to Aaron, I began by introducing myself and letting him know I was a student in EDM310. I then told him how much I enjoyed reading his post about Napoleon. I told him that he included great facts, many of which I had never heard before. I went on to describe how one fact he mentioned, how Napoleon was shipped to a new place where he barely knew the language and was only nine years old, really grabbed my attention. I told Aaron how scary I thought that must have been for Napoleon, especially as such a young age. I concluded by letting him know once again how great of a writer he was and that he included great descriptive details. I told him that since I was studying to become an English teacher, I always enjoy reading a nice piece of writing. I ended by telling him to keep up the great work and that I looked forward to reading more of his posts.

C4K #10

No Cell Phones Allowed Sign
For C4K #10, I was assigned to LaKavia's blog. LaKavia is a student in Mrs. Jamie Lynn Martin's 10th grade English class. I read her post entitled "10 Lies at BCHS" (BCHS stands for Baldwin County High School). Her list read as follows: Bullying Is Not Allowed, No Listening To Music In Mrs. Martin's Class, BCHS Will Win Every Game, No Food Is Allowed In The Building, No Cell Phones, No Gum, In Geometry We Will Be Using Flip The Strip, Don't Be Late To Class, They Will Block Sites,Drug Free. I began my comment to LaKavia by introducing myself as a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I let her know how much I enjoyed reading her post and how interesting I thought her list of ten lies at BCHS was. I then told her that the two lies that stuck out the most to me were "No Cell Phones" and "No Gum." I described to her that many people at my high school struggled with these two rules and that many broke these rules on a daily basis. I told her that the consequence for not following these rules ended with detention after school. In hopes of starting a conversation with LaKavia, I asked her what her school's policy was if someone breaks one of the rules she listed. I concluded my comment by telling her that I look forward to reading more of her posts and to keep up the great work.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Progress Report on Final Project

Teamwork makes the dream work
My group, Spring Flowers, is so excited to start working on the final Project #16. Our group consists of Sara Kinney, Jenna Barnes, and myself. We chose to create a 10-15 minute movie that will help future EDM310 students understand and survive the wonderful world of EDM310. This is a class like no other, and our group wants to demonstrate just what it takes to be successful throughout the entire semester of EDM310. We have all been discussing and throwing around ideas for Project #16, but we have not set in stone exactly what all we want to do yet. We are planning to meet this week to begin filming, and we have been utilizing many of the tools Dr. Strange has suggested to keep in touch with one another. We plan to incorporate many of the different areas of technology we have learned about this semester into our project because we want to illustrate just how vital technology is not only to this class but also to our futures as educators. I am so thankful for my awesome group members and all of their hard work. I can't wait to film our final project and show off just how much we have learned this semester in EDM310!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blog Assignment #12

For this blog post, we were to create an assignment in our area of specialty that Dr. Strange himself should have assigned. After reading Carly's assignment earlier in the semester about how she created a YouTube playlist, I have been trying to brainstorm ideas for my own blog post. I am studying Secondary Education with a focus on English, so I kept going back and forth and around and around on what I wanted to for this assignment. I wanted to come up with something really cool and super fun so that future EDM310 students would look at the instructions and say "Wow Blog Post (insert whatever number) looks really fun, and I think it will help me out a lot as a future teacher!" Okay, maybe everyone won't be quite as excited as I am, but by golly, I'm going to give it my best shot to make it that way.

I finally decided to do my assignment on something I have become quite obsessed with over the past couple of years, and that's Pinterest! Pinterest is not only an awesome website for things such as fashion/clothing, cooking tips/recipes, home ideas, event planning ideas, etc. etc., but it is also a fabulous tool for teachers! Never heard of Pinterest or not quite sure what it's all about? Stay tuned because you are about to find out. So, here goes nothing! With no further adieu, here are my ideas for Blog Assignment #12:
Pinterest in the Classroom

1. To begin with, watch this video: Pinterest for Teachers (5:09)

2. Visit both of these sites: 37 Ways Teachers Can Use Pinterest In The Classroom and The 20 Best Pinterest Boards About Education Technology. Pay close attention to these articles and explore them as best you can. They will be very resourceful in utilizing Pinterest to its fullest.

3. If you do not already have one, create your own Pinterest account.

4. Once you have your own account up and running, I want you to locate a minimum of 15 pins that you find useful for your future career as a teacher. They can be anything from classroom organization, to present teachers' blogs, to tips on helping students succeed. Be creative and actually spend some time exploring the thousands of pins out there. I want you to create an "Education" board and pin your findings there.

5. In your blog post, provide a link to your newly created Pinterest account. In two or more paragraphs, describe your experience with Pinterest so far. What are your thoughts? Are you enjoying it? Why is it beneficial for you as a future educator? Answer these questions along with any other thoughts or ideas you may have.

6. Finally, choose one pin from your Education board that you find the most useful and fun. Provide the link to your pin and write one or more paragraphs on why you chose this certain pin and how it can be utilized in the classroom.


Claire's Take on the Assignment...

Since the best teachers teach by example, here is my personal take on the assignment as if I were a new EDM310 student reading it for the first time:

My Experience with Pinterest

First off, I really enjoyed doing this assignment. I thought the video "Pinterest for Teachers" was very pinteresting (hehe), and I thought both "37 Ways Teachers Can Use Pinterest In The Classroom" and "The 20 Best Pinterest Boards About Education Technology" were really helpful. Fortunately, I created a Pinterest account a couple of years ago, so I did not have to go through the process of making a new account. I think Pinterest is wonderful! I use it for so many things from finding new recipes, ideas for a future home, ideas for my future wedding, and probably most important of all, I use it for ideas for teaching and education. Here is a link to my Education board; I call it "Teacher in Training." Pinterest took a little while to get use to just like any other social site would, but after I got the hang of it, I quickly became enthralled with it. I have caught myself looking up pins for hours and hours, and before I know it, it will be 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning.

So far, I have pinned a lot of pins that look very useful for my future classroom. I think Pinterest is a great tool for teachers because it is a social bookmarking site that does a fantastic job of combing the "social" and the "bookmarking" parts. I enjoy Pinterest because it is a single place that I can keep all of my many ideas for the classroom. Instead of finding YouTube videos, classroom ideas, and blogs on Google or another tool and saving them all to my computer, Pinterest provides me with a place that I can quickly find and organize each idea that I come across. I have found ideas for my future classroom that I would've never known existed it if weren't for the wonderful world of Pinterest.

A Useful and Fun Pin

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
One pin I found in particular that is very useful for the classroom was entitled "15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly." Since I am studying to become an English teacher, I thought this pin was very interesting and helpful. It explains different errors students make when writing such as misusing "they're, their, and there," "your and you're," "its and it's," and showing the misuse of apostrophes. I would be able to incorporate these ideas in a grammar lesson in my future classroom because these errors are ones that students make ALL the time. I can't wait to be able to teach my students how to write effectively, and Pinterest is a site that's going to help me do that.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Blog Assignment #11

Little Kids, Big Potential

kid hugging computer
I really enjoyed watching "First Graders in Ms. Cassidy's Class." Ms. Cassidy teaches a first grade class in Moose Jaw, Canada, and in this video, her class shows how they use blogs, a classroom webpage, wikis, Skype, and Nintendo DS players to share, collaborate, and learn in their classroom. One of the very first things the video portrays is the children working on their blogs. They said they enjoy writing on their blogs because people are able to see their work and comment on it; their blogs are an online portfolio of all of their work. They like how their parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends are able to see what they have been working on in class. The students also described in the video how they have learned that you must be nice when commenting on other people's blogs and that you must never say hurtful things. I thought this depiction was the neatest thing because these are first grade kids who are no more six or seven years old, and many of them seem to know more about blogging than many adults do. Through their use of blogging, the students are not only learning how to use important technology in the classroom, but they are also learning life lessons, such as how to treat others and their work.

The students in Ms. Cassidy's class also used Skype and their Nintendo DS players in their classroom, which I thought was awesome. They use Skype to talk with other classrooms and even experts in the subjects they are studying. In the video, they talk with Dr. Gregg, a geologist. Hearing and seeing her answer the questions is a great way for them to truly learn the material. This way is much better than simply reading it in a book; the questions and answers are able to really come alive for the children. The children are also able to play educational games on their Nintendo DS. This allows them to become better problem solvers, and it helps them learn to share and make decisions with other kids in their class.

As a future teacher, I think I will be able to use many of Ms. Cassidy's techniques in my classroom. I especially will implement blogging into my students' work. I think blogging is such a wonderful tool for students, and I think it can really help improve their writing. Since I am studying to become an English teacher, I will use blogging to focus on ways to help students with their own writing and to help them become effective peer editors. Just like Ms. Cassidy's students, my students will need to learn the appropriate and effective ways to comment on their peers' blogs. Though my students will either be in middle or high school, I know they would enjoy other people commenting on their blogs, just like Ms. Cassidy's first graders. It's a fun thing for kids to see that other people are taking the time to read their work, and in return, this will help the students improve their writing because they will want to show off how much they've learned. I really enjoyed watching Ms. Cassidy's video, and I will definitely incorporate some of her teaching methods into my future classroom.

Mrs. Cassidy's class

Skype Interview with Ms. Cassidy

In Dr. Strange's skype interview with Ms. Cassidy, they discuss Ms. Cassidy's approach to the use of technology in the classroom. I especially enjoyed Ms. Cassidy's response to Dr. Strange's question of why she finds blogs useful in the classroom. She said that the world would go on without blogs, but she likes blogs because of the audience factor. Her students are able to write on their blogs for the whole world to see, rather than just their teacher. She describes how this is very exciting for a young student because their family, peers, and people from all around the world are able to not only view the students' blogs but comment on them as well. She also discussed how blogging opens doors for her students to make connections with others (such as people from a university about 40 miles from her school), and it helps students learn the importance of collaboration.

Skype interview with Mrs. Cassidy
Dr. Strange went on to ask Ms. Cassidy where she thought a good place was to start with technology in the classroom. She responded by saying that you should start with whatever you are most interested in, whether that is videos, photography, blogging, etc. She said they you should play off of what your interested in because everyone has a different preference. It is important to incorporate as much technology as you effectively can in the classroom, and like Ms. Cassidy said, the easiest place to start is with what you like. For me, that would most likely be blogging. I am very interested in writing, and I want to instill types of writing lessons and examples into my students. Dr. Strange and Ms. Cassidy went on to talk about how Twitter has become an effective part of their personal learning networks and how it has truly changed their views on this specific type of social networking. Twitter is a tool I will certainly try to incorporate into my classroom. Since most teenagers are already engaged in most social networking sites, I will love to show them how they can use these as educational tools. Like Ms. Cassidy said, people you follow on Twitter will leave links to sites you would have never known about otherwise; therefore, she deems it as a highly useful tool for education.

One statement Ms. Cassidy said in the course of the interview was this, "We cannot teach kids in this generation using the tools that worked twenty years ago, ten years ago, and even five years ago. We have to change because the world has changed." It's crazy to think about how rapidly technology is advancing, but she urges present and future teachers to keep up with the progress. She said that teachers are handicapping themselves and their students by not taking advantage of technology and the Internet. After Dr. Strange finished with his questions, he allowed his EDM310 students to ask Mrs. Cassidy a few questions. A few of the questions were: "How often do your students blog?", "Do you think Facebook can be useful in the classroom", and "How do you prevent students from being exposed to things they shouldn't on the Internet?". I enjoyed listening to her answers to the questions, but the question that stuck out to me the most was this, "With blogs being so accessible by the Internet, do you fear cheating will become more of a problem?" She responded by saying, "I don't think it's a problem. I think it's a switch with how we view information. The information is becoming collaborative, so professors should change the way he/she presents it." I enjoyed this answer a lot. I liked how she said it is a shift we all (administration, teachers, students, etc.) need to make to help supply information that becomes personal for each individual student.

Thumbs up
All in all, I really enjoyed learning about Ms. Cassidy's methods for teaching and using technology in the classroom. She helped clear up a few questions I had, such as how to effectively implement blogging in the classroom. Sometimes it may be difficult if others around you haven't jumped on the technological train, but to be an effective teacher, you need to pave your own tracks and keep chugging along. I look forward to keeping up with Ms. Cassidy's blogs and videos, and a huge thanks goes out to all she is doing up there in Moose Jaw!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

C4T #3

It's All About Your Attitude

Positivity is Key
I was assigned to Mr. Justin Tarte for my third C4T assignment. His blog is entitled "Life of an Educator," and in his "about me" section, he describes himself as a passionate educator with a love of learning and technology. He made a great statement that really caught my attention. He said, "I am excited about integrating technology and social media into the educational setting, while increasing collaboration & transparency among all stakeholders." I thought that was very appropriate, especially since I am learning daily how important technology is in the classroom. The first post I looked at of Mr. Tarte's was "It's All About Your Attitude." He posted a picture that said "It's all about you... How do you see the world? Is your glass half empty or half full?" He went on to describe how when your glass is half full, your perspective and attitude unleash a world of possibilities. He also described that when you practice the power of positive attitude and perspective, you are better able to balance the demands of life. He challenged his readers to find the silver lining in every situation, to commit to every situation, and to commit to empowerment and a positive outlook on life.

In my comment to Mr. Tarte, I began by introducing myself and letting him know that for my EDM310 class I would be commenting on his blog for the next few weeks. I gave him my email address and links to both my personal blog and the class blog. Mr. Tarte's post really interested me because I am a strong believer in striving to live a positive life. The message he portrayed is so vital for students and teachers to grasp; not only is it essential in the classroom, but it is also an important part of your everyday life. I told him how much I appreciated his post and how much I enjoyed the pictures and message he gave. As a future educator, positivity is one of my main priorities.

The Importance of Literacy
Children forming the word literacy
The second post of Mr. Tarte's I read was "The Importance of Literacy." His focus was on why literacy is so vital in the classroom. He made a great statement that basically summed up why literacy is so important. He said, "Literacy gives people tools with which to improve their livelihoods, participate in community decision-making, gain access to information about health care, and above all, it enables individuals to realize their rights as citizens and human beings.Literacy is not just about reading and writing; it is about respect, opportunity and development." Mr. Tarte went on to describe how he uses "word walls" to encourage literacy in the classroom; these walls promote student independence, provide visual maps for students, and help students develop a core for reading and writing. He also provided his readers with a few suggestions on how to incorporate literacy into the classroom: encourage students to read more than just books for your class, make reading and writing a priority, and consider allowing students to create a personal blog or reflective journal.

In my second comment to Mr. Tarte, I started off by telling him how much I enjoyed reading his post. The topic he wrote about is so relevant in schools today, so it was very easy to respond to his descriptions. I told him that I thought the word wall was a great idea, and since I am majoring in Secondary Education with a focus on English, it would be a great tool to teach my students different content areas concerning English. I went on to tell him how much I appreciated his suggestions for ways to increase opportunities for literacy in the classroom. I focused in on his suggestion of personal blogs; since I have recently discovered how useful blogging is from EDM310, I let him know that I would certainly incorporate personal blogs into my future classroom. I concluded by thanking him for his inspiring post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Special Blog Assignment

A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, USA TODAY interviewed some of the USA's greatest visionaries to talk about the world of tomorrow. Mary Beth Marklein published the article "A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind" to discuss just what the title implies: what would the world be like if there were no grades? In the article, USA TODAY interviewed Sebastian Thrun, a Google Vice President and Stanford research professor best known for his role in building Google's driverless car. Thrun's idea of an educational reform is described in his version of learning, which he says can be made free and available to anyone who wants it. Thrun is the owner of Udacity, which is an education company based in California that provides a higher education for free. Udacity's goal is to offer a university-level education of high quality and low cost. Using the economics of the Internet, they claim to have connected some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world. In Thrun's version of education, he explains a few key concepts: no one will be late for class, failure is not an option, and lessons are made to look like games, such as the popular physics-based puzzle game "Angry Birds."

The whole vision of Udacity came to Thrun after he had the opportunity to teach a free online artificial-intelligence course that drew more than 160,000 students. This experience was so profound to him that he announced he no longer could teach in a traditional Stanford classroom. Thus, Udacity was born, and Thrun began his mission to revolutionize education. He made reference to the concept of "flipping the classroom," which occurs when students watch a video at home and come to class ready with questions to be answered by the teacher. Thrun explains how both online learning and flipping the classroom are made possible through technology, and because of these two concepts, classes will involve a sequence of increasingly more challenging exercises and quizzes aimed at helping students master a particular concept or skill. Thrun calls grades "the failure of the education system," so therefore, he intends to eliminate them completely. Instead, students will take as much or as little time as they need to demonstrate mastery of a particular skill or concept. This type of online education will be free, but related services may involve a fee. All in all, Thrun hopes to democratize education through technology.

Dollar signs
As I was reading this article, the message Mr. Thrun described seemed really cool and much more innovative than the education we see in many classrooms today. As I thought about it and looked at it more closely though, this type of educational reform raises a sense of skepticism. Yes, a free education where you get to play games on the Internet and learn at your own pace sounds great, but in reality, is this concept of education truly possible to the magnitude in which Mr. Thrun described? I have my doubts. The first item on his list that seems out of reach is the free part. If the top, most sought-out professors from all around the world are being called upon to teach these online classes, how does the Udacity team plan on paying them a salary? As a future teacher, I'm all about teaching my students because I truly want them to learn and grow, but in reality, I will be seeking a paycheck as well. I'm sure many of the professors Udacity has confronted feel the same way. I understand the students would be charged fees every once and a while, but simple fees would not be enough to pay for the numerous things this operation would call for: the high-tech computers and software that would be needed, the team working on these computers and programs, and as I mentioned earlier, the professors teaching the courses. "Free" sounds great (especially to myself, a poor college kid), but when it comes down to crunching the numbers, money speaks rather loudly.

Grades in Classes
The next item on the list that raises concerns for me is the fact that "a single class might enroll tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of students." I guess this sounds so bizarre to me because I personally like one-on-one contact and time with my teacher. If there are this many people in a single class, how is an instructor suppose to keep up with everything the students are doing? I understand Mr. Thrun's goal is to create an education that will respond to each individual student, but with that many students, I have my doubts. The third item I'd like to talk about is the "no more grades" idea. As a college student myself, this sounds wonderful. As long as I'm understanding the material and learning at my own pace, what do grades matter anyway? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I think grades, or rather some kind of assessment, is needed. I'm all for students being able to take the time necessary to master concepts and skills, but without some form of assessment, I think students lose some of the responsibility needed to become successful. I don't necessarily think the "A, B, C, D, F" system is the only or best solution for assessment out there, but I do believe teachers should provide students with feedback on how they are progressing in a given class. Normally, that feedback comes through assessment.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Mary Beth Marklein's article in USA TODAY because it brought up some really neat ideas for the future of education. Though I don't totally agree with everything Mr. Sebastian Thrun is advocating with the online learning society created by Udacity, I still think he offered up interesting and innovative ideas. I just believe a few things need to be tweaked to make them more realistic and doable. One thing Mr. Thrun and I most certainly agree on is how important technology is for the future and progression of education and for the way we teach our students.

Monday, November 5, 2012

C4K Summary for October

C4K #3

Squirrel playing in leaves
For C4K #3, I was assigned to "mholmes" blog. Unfortunately, this child had not posted anything, so I chose Sopkos954 blog to comment on instead. Sopkos954 (her name was not provided) attends Union Pleasant Elementary in Hamburg, New York, and she is in Mr. Wirth's 4th grade class. In her post, she had two paragraphs describing her writing; one was before she revised, and the other was after she revised. Her story was entitled "Scared for Nothing," and she described a time when she was picking fruits and vegetables in her garden. She suddenly heard a noise and became frightened. Come to find out, the noise was only a squirrel scampering along in the fall leaves. In my comment to Sopkos954, I began by telling her I was a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I let her know how much I enjoyed reading her post, and I told her she did a great job revising her story. I also let her know how creative of a writer she was and how descriptive her details were. I concluded by telling her that I looked forward to reading more of her posts and to keep up the great work.

C4K #4

Procrastinators unite tomorrow
For C4K #4, I was assigned to Wallen's blog. He is a 12th grade student in a fully online 12th grade AP U.S. & Comparative Government & Politics course at Oregon Episcopal School. In Wallen's post, he discussed how procrastination affects his life. He mentioned how it had been difficult keeping up with all of his assignments since this was the first fully online class he had taken. He played soccer, so he described how it was hard to play a sport and maintain all of his schoolwork. He concluded by saying that he would search for the focus and determination it would take to do well in his classes and on the playing field. Since he is a senior in high school, his post was much longer than the other C4K assignments I've looked at thus far. In my comment to Wallen, I introduced myself as a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I told him I was a junior in college, so procrastination was something I personally dealt with on a daily basis as well. I also told him that I too played a sport in high school, so I could relate to how difficult it is to maintain your academics during a certain sport season. I praised him for his post, and I let him know that I thought he was certainly on the right track to conquering procrastination. I provided him with a few tips that has helped me stay on top of my schoolwork in college, and I encouraged him by telling him that he certainly was not alone in the battle against procrastination.

C4K #5

boy riding bike
For C4K #5, I was assigned to Dylan's Blog, who is a student in Mr. Capps' 3rd grade class in Gulf Shores, Alabama. In his post, Dylan wrote a short story about Saruni, a boy who loved helping his mother and father. Saruni helped his mother go to the market to get pumpkins and bananas, and his father helped him learn to ride a bike. Dylan described how Saruni wanted to buy a bike of his own, but the person selling the bike was mean and laughed at Saruni. In my comment to Dylan, I introduced myself and told him I was a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I praised him for his fantastic post, and I let him know how creative his story was. In hopes of starting a conversation with Dylan, I asked him if he had a bike he liked to ride, and I told him that I love riding my bike around my neighborhood. I concluded by telling him to keep up the awesome work and that I looked forward to reading more of his stories.

C4K #6

For C4K #6, I was assigned to Jake' blog. Jake is in Ms. Mclaughlin's 2nd grade class in Birmingham, Alabama. Jake posted an adorable picture of a monkey on his blog, and he described how monkeys can do many things. They swing from tree to tree, and they can eat all kinds of fruit, especially bananas. He also described how they sometimes even act crazy. In my comment to Jake, I praised him for choosing such a cute monkey for his picture. I let him know I was a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama, and I told him how great his post was. In hopes of getting a response back from Jake, I asked him where he thought the monkey lived and how I bet the monkey loved to eat bananas like he described. I concluded by telling him to keep up the great work and that I looked forward to reading more of his posts.

C4K #7 Special Edition

C4K #7 was a special edition, and for this assignment, we looked at Dr. Vitulli's and Dr. Santoli's blog. Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli were in Ireland attending the Ireland International Conference on Education. I was assigned to their post "Attention Getters." In this post, Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli described the things they noticed, their attention getters, in Ireland that are both different and similar to that in the United States. One of the things they mentioned was how friendly the people in Dublin are. Though they experience southern hospitality at home, they were so delighted to be greeted with such hospitality there. They talked about how the bus system saved them lots of money and how the people there drive on the left side of the road. They were also very impressed with the food and deemed it as very yummy. They concluded by asking us if we had traveled anywhere internationally, and if so, what our attention getters were. In my comment to Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli, I told them how great it was that they were having a wonderful time and how interesting it is to see the differences and similarities between other places and the United States. In response to their question, I explained that I had recently traveled to St. John in the Virgin Islands. I let them know that some of my attention getters were the relaxed "island time" of the locals there, how they also drive on the left side of the road, and how delicious the food was. I was very excited that Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli responded to my comment on their post, and they thanked me for sharing my experiences in St. John.
People in Dublin, Ireland

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blog Assignment #10

John Spencer's Cartoon

John Spencer's cartoon
Mr. Spencer provided this picture on his blog post "I'm a Papermate. I'm a Ticonderoga." which is found on his blog "Adventures in Pencil Integration." When I first looked at this picture, I really wasn't sure what it meant. I knew "Papermate" and "Ticonderoga" were brands of pencils, but I still wasn't positive on the message the picture was trying to portray. After reading the comments on the picture on Mr. Spencer's blog, I noticed that many people were unsure of its meaning, so Mr. Spencer explained what it was. He said, "It's a mock of 'I'm a Mac and I'm a PC' commercials." Once he said that, it all clicked with me. This picture is pointing towards the use of technology in the classroom. By comparing pencils to computers, it seems to have a double meaning. With the rapid increase in technology, computers will soon completely take the place of pencils and papers. The second meaning I got from it was that it pays off in the end to invest in something that will last, whether that is a Ticonderoga pencil or a Mac computer. I don't think the picture is saying "Hey, everyone should buy this kind of pencil or that kind of computer," but I do believe its overall message is a metaphor for the use of technology in the classroom.

Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?

Classroom Games
In Mr. Spencer's post "Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?," he gets in trouble by his principal because he allowed his students to play games in the classroom. The basic message his principal is saying is that games should never be used in the classroom and that Mr. Spencer should focus on teaching content that will be evaluated on the students' tests. I really like Mr. Spencer's writing style in his blog posts; his use of wit and humor to get the point across is very captivating. I agree with Mr. Spencer that games in the classroom can be very educational. I believe teachers need to stop trying to teach simply for the tests and start trying to teach so students can truly learn, retain, and enjoy the material. Mr. Spencer seems to really know how to get his students' attention, and I believe his use of educational games is innovative and creative.

This post by Mr. Spencer relates well to situations that happen frequently in schools. Students sit in class, write down notes on what their teacher is saying, and then regurgitate it back in test form. Teachers are teaching so that the students do well on the standardized test and evaluations. The administration is urging the teachers to do this because the board of education is encouraging the administration to do so. It's a never-ending cycle of what Dr. Strange calls burp-back education. I do not think that all schools and school systems take on this approach, but I feel that many of them do. As a future educator, my goal is to strive to eliminate this type of education. I want to integrate technology, games, and other forms of innovative teaching in my classroom so that students truly learn and enjoy what they are being taught. Just like Mr. Spencer described, I believe we should be incorporating this type of education into our schools.

I Banned Pencils Today

Using your brain in the classroom
For the next part of our assignment, we were to explore more of Mr. Spencer's posts and find one to talk about. I actually was assigned Mr. Spencer's blog for one of my C4T assignments, so I have explored his blog some already. It was hard to choose just one of his posts for this assignment because they were all so good, but I decided to go with "I Banned Pencils Today." Though this was a shorter post, it really struck home with me and has a huge meaning behind it. Mr. Spencer talks about how he banned pencils one day in his math class. He also talks about how he welcomes all forms of media in his classroom, but on this particular day, he wanted to get rid of all pencils, paper, manipulatives, and chalk. He encouraged his students to simply work with their minds; though this concept seems easy enough, it can be more difficult than it appears.

Mr. Spencer wanted his students to do mental math to show them how powerful their brains are in and of themselves. He stated, "Having tools is a part of being human. I never want to deny that. Yet, I also want to recognize that we have the power to abandon our tools and use our highly evolved minds." I really enjoyed this post because I personally sometimes rely too much on the tools around me. For example, I was balancing my checkbook the other day using the calculator on my iPhone. At one point, I caught myself using the calculator to do math as simple as 30 minus 15. (I bet you all have done this at one point as well, so don't judge.) Like Mr. Spencer said though, tools are wonderful to have around, but sometimes we need to drop them and use the brain we were given. We may even surprise ourselves at how much we can accomplish with only the natural tools we have.

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?

Dr. Scott McLeod
Dr. Scott McLeod is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading academic experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues. One fact that I found extremely interesting about Dr. McLeod is that he is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators. He blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant, which is the awesome blog we looked at for this assignment. I really enjoyed reading Dr. McLeod's post "Don't Teach Your Kids This stuff. Please?. He uses a hint of sarcasm to get a huge point across: he tells parents, teachers, and administrators to go ahead and keep their kids away from new technologies; his students will use technology and have an even greater advantage over their kids.

This truly was a great blog post because it really highlights everything we have been learning in EDM310. There are so many excuses out there to why people avoid technology; Dr. McLeod describes a few of their arguments: kids don't need an audience, they don't need to become self-absorbed, there might be predators out there, and collaboration is cheating. I applaud Dr. McLeod for his strong stance in making sure his students have every opportunity to use technology. He tells everyone else to do as they please, but as for him and his students, they will use technology and be better for it. I completely agree with him, and I hope to be as bold in my future classroom as he is in his classroom.