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.


  1. Claire,
    Your blog post looks really good. I really couldn't find any grammatical errors. The background you have chosen is nice. The links in the blog work. The title is bolded and double spaced from the summary of the article. I think it is well written.

  2. Banning pencils and all other tools for a day sounds like a great lesson. Good job on your post.