Sunday, October 28, 2012

Project #10- Progress report on my PLN

For my PLN I chose Symbaloo. I liked the layout of Symbaloo; it reminds me of my smart phone, with buttons I can push that take me to the application I am trying to access. I haven't used my Symbaloo as much as I should. I think it's mainly because I don't have it on my smart phone. I heard a while back that they laptop is being phased out. Since using my smart phone and then being introduced to a PLN I can see how that may be the case. Right now, since I always have my smart phone on me, I have downloaded apps that link me to the sites or information I want to know. I set up my Symbaloo to be my home page on my laptop so that I can use it more frequently. At the moment I have sites such as facebook and twitter on there as well as news sites that I frequently visit. I also linked my two email accounts along with several other sites. My Symbaloo can be viewed here.

Project #12- Book Trailer

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blog Post #9

teacher and student

In Mr. McClung's What I Learned This Year- Volume 4 he talks about what he learned during his fourth year as a teacher. He begins by saying that he didn't learn as much this year as he had learned in his three previous years of teaching. The first thing he discusses is how, for the first time, he puts emphasis on how his peers view his teaching methods. He says he "committed a very junior high like sin and have worried myself with whether or not my peers approve of the way I handle business". He talks about how he focused too much energy on whether or not his peers approved of the way he was teaching his students. He concludes this section by saying that he quickly realized that he was focusing on the wrong opinions; if his students were having fun and learning the material, they were the ones who mattered.

I think that Mr. McClung makes a great point here. Too often we get swept up in the opinions of the wrong people. Most often, it is those who we are around the most. As a future educator, I think it is very important to always put your students first. Through out this class we have seen teacher after teacher who put their focus on the students. They are the teachers who excel in educating. Mr. McClung says that concerning himself with one question "are the kids having fun?" has done wonders for him. This is a lesson we should all carry with us.

In his second paragraph he talks about challenging yourself. He says how he has been teaching the same class at the same school for three years. He talks about how he started to become lazy, relying on old lesson plans and he felt his "creativity starting to vanish". He goes on to say that he accepted a new position teaching pre AP-civics and American Government which is good because it allows him to make a change. His point is not that being offered a change (like teaching a different subject) should be what fuels our creativity but that we should always be focused on creating an interesting learning environment. He says that he feels he could become content with his career and start to "coast"; or he says he can snap out of it and challenge himself to become a better teacher. I can imagine that at some point in our careers we will all be faced with this unspoken choice and I plan to chose the latter.

In life, as well as our chosen professions, people are always faced with decisions. Deciding to continue to challenge yourself as an educator, as well as a person, makes your life more interesting. We chose to make our lives better or decide to "coast" and be content with as far as we have gotten (and go no further). I personally feel those who chose the challenge have a much more interesting life.

The other post I chose to read was from Mr. McClung's first year as a teacher. This post can be seen here. I chose this post because I was curious to see what the difference was between his first year and fourth year as a teacher. I found this post to be very interesting. He covers several things he learned during his first year; much more than in his fourth. He talks about what he learned in relation to being a teacher: Be flexible, be reasonable, don't be afraid of technology, listen to your students, and never stop learning. From these, the ones that stuck out were: listen to your students and never stop learning.

I think that it is very easy to become lazy at work. We write a few lesson plans and then decide we can lean on those for a while, or maybe we write a few versions of a test and decide that is all we need to do. It is important to constantly remind ourselves to be creative and to keep learning fun. If we think back to our own elementary teachers, it's easy to remember our favorites. Usually, those are the ones who made it fun; they are the ones who kept the students interested by challenging themselves as well as the students (us). I believe this
kids holding sign thank you teacher
also applies to "never stop learning". For most people, when we reach the end of something big, like completing our college degree, we stop learning. It is almost like we have decided that we have reached the end and there is no longer a need to know anything else. However, this is not the case. There are always new things to learn and by being an explorer, we influence our students to do the same.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blog Post #8

This is How We Dream: Parts 1 and 2
girl drawing and dreaming

In "This is How We Dream" Parts 1 and 2 Dr. Miller discusses how we can use technology in teaching. He begins by talking about how he grew up around books and dreamed of one day having a job that had something to do with writing. He did eventually write a book. However, it is now out of print and "you can buy it on Amazon for $0.59". He uses this to lead into the fact that paper and pencil (or pen) are disappearing. He talks about having students use the internet to complete school work.

This does not seem like such a big task when one thinks about how even the way we research has changed. Students used to spend hours in a library looking up information, now with a click of a button we can find anything on the internet. Writing is no different. Students used to write papers by hand, now we use computers to type our homework. This could be referred to as "going green" but we must also look at it as moving into the future.

I enjoyed watching these videos. I personally really enjoy online classes or blended classes. The other day I had to take a mid term that was two hours of writing essay responses. I hadn't written straight for two hours in a very long time and my hand felt like it was going to fall off at the end of the time. I think moving into the future and allowing students to become more familiar with the internet and its resources is a great thing. At the end of part two, he mentions people composing using the web itself. Although I don't fully understand what that is, it sounds very interesting and I would love to learn more.

Carly Pough's Blog
In Carly's blog she talks about her idea for a classroom project. She suggests students create a play list on YouTube with videos that are relevant to their philosophy as a teacher. She gives a list of criteria for the videos. She even included her own playlist as an example.

This was an excellent post by Carly. I really enjoyed reading it. You can tell that she is excited about her idea; her passion for teaching really comes through in this post. I think she did an excellent job in relating her project to Dr. Miller's ideas in "This is How We Dream". She even states that the assignments of reading chapters and writing book reports are outdated. After reading her blog post, I agree with her. This allows students to be explorers and use their creativity to learn.

EDM310 For Dummies and The Chipper Series
I really enjoyed these two videos. They were both informative yet entertaining. The Chipper series was a great video about sticking with a task (or class, or assignment) and opening your mind for learning. Poor Chipper did not want to do the work, she wanted to just memorize information and regurgitate it. It was interesting to watch her progression from being frustrated at school but in the end deciding to return. I also felt frustration at the beginning of EDM310. It is a different form of learning that does take some getting used to, but once you get through the initial, "painful" part it's a rather enjoyable class.

If I did a video for EDM310 I'd want to do "Surviving EDM310-Stick with It!" video. I think that in the beginning students are unfamiliar with the way EDM310 is taught. However, if they stick with it and open their minds up to a new way of learning, they can really enjoy this class.

In Learn to Change, Change to Learn we see a bunch of different educators who are basically attacking the way that our society has schools set up. They talk about how children have created a new way of communication by using their Facebooks, text messaging and email and yet these are all banned from schools. These tools are also ways for students to gain information, yet they are not allowed to access them while in school. One teacher says if she could reconstruct the modern classroom, she isn't sure it would be a brick and mortar building. Each teacher talks about the need for change and what we can do. In the end, one educator says, it's the death of education but the dawn of learning.

I found this video to be very interesting. That closing statement is powerful. Most teachers, and those learning to be teachers, were raised under a totally different way to educate. We all were lectured to and memorized facts we could spit back up onto a test. This is why, when we are learning this new method of teaching, for us it is hard. We want to do better for our students but we also must learn how to teach and not lecture. We must all take part in the changes in education.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0
For this assignment I watched a video about web 2.0. Then I visited Web 2.0 Tools to complete my scavenger hunt.

1. First I found a site that is similar to Facebook/Twitter. It is called This is a social platform for students, teachers, and parents. Teachers can post assignments on this site and communicate with parents. This site also allows parents to check homework and communicate with the teacher. It's a free website and very useful!
2. Second, I found a video tool I had never used before. It was called Animoto. With this tool you can create videos by uploading pictures or video clips and music. The site claims to create "completely unique" videos. It looked interesting, I will have to upload some pictures and try it out.
3. Third, I found a tool to create polls anywhere at any time. It is called

C4T #2

I was assigned Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension a wonderful blog by Wisconsin teacher Pernille Ripp. The first post I commented on was discussing the up coming WKCE test, or the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination. Mrs. Ripp examines four accommodations they as teachers are supposed to provide the students during the testing time. They are: small group setting, read the instructions aloud, extended time, and break the test up. She then continues to "debunk" each accommodation and explain why these accommodations do not work. She points out that a small group setting is not more effective in allowing a student to concentrate than a large classroom. Even stating that a classroom should be a "safe-haven" for students and, if done correctly, the only noise that should be heard during testing time is the scratch of pencils. She continues on to debunk reading the instructions aloud and to break up the test. The debunk I most enjoyed was the one related to extended time. She uses an example of giving a French test to a student who doesn't speak French. It doesn't matter how much time they have, they will never be able to complete, or pass, that test because they do not know the material. I think that is a valid point and so I chose to focus on that point for the majority of my comment to her.

In my comment to Mrs. Ripp I complimented her on writing such an interesting post. I then continued on to say that I found her "debunks" interesting and valid. I explained that I didn't have experience with the WKCE, myself not being from Wisconsin, but could imagine the test being similar to the SAT or ACT. I wrote mostly about the extended time accommodation. I told her how I thought she was clever for using the example of the French test. I also agreed with her that most of these accommodations were valid and that I agreed with her view. I concluded by saying that I hope one day we can find a more efficient way, instead of seeing how many facts they can regurgitate, to test children on their knowledge.

For my second post I read "The Real Crisis in Education". This was also a very interesting post to read. Mrs. Ripp wrote about the United States' problem with education. When we hear this we assume she is talking about low test scores, drop out rates, etc. However, Mrs. Ripp looks at the crisis from another perspective and points out another casualty of stricter testing regulations: the loss of veteran teachers.

She talks about how these teachers are almost forced to walk away from a profession they love because they are unable to teach creatively. She points out how all over the country veteran teachers are being blamed for the low test scores. She even goes as far as to say that low test scores will not be the undoing of our educational system, the loss of these teachers will. At the end of her post she says in order to correct this crisis we must realize, "That assessing students in a way that reflects how they will be assessed in their future lives makes more sense. That teacher worth cannot be measured by a multiple choice test taken by a tired ten year old."

I really enjoyed reading this post. In my comment to Mrs. Ripp I told her that I had never thought about the veteran teachers and how they are affected by this educational crisis. I thought she made several very good points, as I stated in my comment. I concluded by saying that this really is a shame. I believe we can always learn from those who have gone before us and learning from veteran teachers is no exception. I also left my blog web address as well as my Twitter address.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blog Post #7

The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler
Tonight I watched the video The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler. This video describes a new concept in teaching: connectivism. This idea, as stated in the video, is that learning occurs "through a social network that is made up of many different connections and ties". The video continues on by explaining how these different connections are made possible by various types of technology. It all begins with a personal learning network. This is where a student practices finding information and sharing it with other students around the world by using various forms of technology. The video concludes with the question "Why does a networked student need a teacher?"

I found this video to be very interesting. I enjoyed when they talked about iTunesU. It's amazing to think that any student can have access to the best professors in the world without having to be a student at any particular university. In our world today we see technology changing and advancing at the speed of light; a computer you bought five years ago can become obsolete in that time. Sometimes I wonder if progressing this quickly is a good thing or a bad thing. When I hear about an advancement like this I feel it is a good thing. Now a student is never limited. They have the world at their finger tips. They can hear lectures from some of the greatest teachers anytime, anyplace.

While watching this video I kept the question in my head "why does a networked student need a teacher?" At one point I thought, maybe they don't. However, before the video reached its conclusion, I realized some of the reasons they were about to point out. Teachers need to be there to teach the student how to build the personal learning network, how to sort through the information they come across in order to find what is valid, to help them when they get stuck, etc. In a sense, the teacher becomes the tour guide. They show the student which direction to go and they lead the way most of the time, but sometimes they linger behind and let the student explore the world on their own.

A Seventh Grader's Personal Learning Environment
The video "Welcome to my PLE" can be seen by clicking here. In this video we have a 7th grade girl showing us how her PLE (personal learning environment) looks and works. She shows us how she processes and loads various forms of information in order to keep up with her school work.

This video was the first time I had seen a PLE or PLN set up like hers was. It looked like a simplified version of a computer screen set up. She was able to easily move from one section to another. She told us about having animals in the classroom and in order to get permission to hold them, the students have to do research on them. She shows us how she did the research in order to be allowed to hold the gecko in her classroom. She also showed us how she used the information she found about the box jelly fish to make a glogster, or digital poster. I thought this was all very interesting. It makes me feel excited to be a teacher and use this technology in my classroom. I have wondered, what keeps the student motivated? If they have so much freedom, wouldn't they just wander with no direction? In this video the student says no. She says that she enjoys the freedom but it also makes her feel responsibility. She concludes by saying that "it's not that she can choose to do nothing," but more of a choice of WHAT it is she wants to do.

Project #8- Podcast

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blog Post #6

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

This is my second time watch Randy Pausch's last lecture. I watched it back in 2007 when his book had come out and he was at the end of his battle. He was an amazing man and an excellent teacher, that comes across in so many ways. He says at the end of his lecture that the "head fake" is achieving your childhood dreams; the real message is how to live your life. Randy's life is one to admire, both as a future educator and as a person.

In Dr. Pausch's video he covers a number of topics that people can use to help others achieve their childhood dreams. The first is that we have to start with the fundamentals. In other words, we have to do the hard work first (the rules) so we can play the game. He talks about his football coach really giving him a hard time one day. Afterwards, the assistant coach explains to him that that is a good thing. He tells Randy that our critics are your friends, they are the ones telling you they still love you and care. This is a lesson all teachers should carry with them. As an educator, I can imagine it gets easy to become tired and burned out but we must continue to care for our students and be their critic.

I loved the story he told about getting some projects back he had assigned to the students and being "blown away" by them. He calls his mentor and asks what he should do. He is told that he should go in and say "this is good, but I think you can do better." To me, this goes back to pushing our students. As an educator we must always try to get our students to do better; to go a little more and then a little more out of their comfort zone. When we set a bar at any height we do a dis-service to our students. Educators should encourage growth, no matter how big it might be.

Another topic that covers most of Dr. Pausch's lecture is indirect learning. I am currently taking a course here at South that is about art in education. So often we forget that children learn the best when they don't know they are learning. He calls it the "head fake". If we as educators can take a subject and integrate it with art or music or dance, we increase the likely hood of a greater understanding and retention. Randy Pusch, although he isn't dancing or singing in his class, is a great example of this. He believes in letting students explore and get out of the mold of a traditional learning environment. He encourages them to take risks. This is something every teacher should remember.

Randy Pausch shows nothing but enthusiasm during his lecture. You can tell that he has really enjoyed his life and is eager to share it with others. At the end he made a few points: Never lose the childlike wonder and help others. I can tell that Dr. Pausch never lost the childlike wonder. Even on the stage he used costumes and stuffed animals as a part of his lecture. It is
obvious that he has helped numerous students achieve their dreams and he also has been assisted in achieving his own dreams. At one point he says something along the lines of teaching students how to share with other people, how to get them to bring happiness to people, is one of the greatest lessons you can teach. I agree with this one hundred percent. Even in this moving last lecture, Dr. Pausch is able to get people to laugh. He is able to bring them into his happiness and share it with them. I found this video to be just as enjoyable the second time as it was the first.

C4K September Summary

1. For my first C4K I was assigned Anthony Capps Blog. Mr. Capps blog post was a summary of an assignment his students had done. They all wrote a sentence or two about a story they had read. In my comment I told Mr. Capps I enjoyed reading all the different responses from the students. I also stated that I thought he did a nice job with his opening statement explaining to those reading what it was they were looking at. I also thought it was nice that he encouraged the parents to give their child a "pat on the back" if they posted. I concluded by saying that you could get a feel for the students' understanding of the story and complimented him on doing an excellent post.

2. For my second C4K I was assigned John from Mrs. Kreb's 7th grade class. The blog can be seen here: John's Blog Post. In his post John had a large picture of what looks to be seeds. His post is focused on a link to a website with a quiz where you can answer questions to identify different trees in Iowa. I followed the link and played around with the quiz a few times. In my comment to John I noted that the quiz asked a lot of questions about the details of the leaves. I thanked John for thanked him for letting me read his blog and told him I might use the quiz to see if I can identify any trees in my area.

3. For my third C4K I was assigned Austin from Mrs. Dunlop's 4th grade class. Austin wrote a wonderful post about playing football in the leaves. In my comment to him I told him that I really enjoyed reading his post. I also told him he did a wonderful job creating the image of the environment; I could feel the cool air and smell the autumn leaves. I concluded my comment by telling Austin that I have a son who is one year old. I hope to one day play football in the leaves with him like Austin does. It sounds like fun!

Project 9a- Timetoast