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!


  1. Claire,
    I thought that you did an amazing job summarizing the two videos. I can not believe that these children already know how to use Skype and write blogs. I think that using the techniques that Ms. Cassidy has will benefit both us future teachers as well as our future students. Good job again!
    Take care,
    Alecia Baxter