Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blog Post #6

Connectivism and the Classroom

a color wheel of websites organized by type of site

In Networked Student, Wendy Drexler shows just how far the average classroom can go. In this example, the high school student only meets in class three times a week. The rest of the week he is learning on his own through the magic of the internet. He can find scholarly journals, blogs, articles, videos, practically any information on his subject. He collects all this information and saves the links online. Then he can start his own blog to reflect on this information. This is a pretty awesome setup for a classroom. The part that I found extremely important, and something that I hadn’t thought of, was that not only does one student learn from this hard work and searching, upcoming students can also learn from the information he has collected. Because all of what he has learned is online, other students can view it and they too can broaden their knowledge.

However, this setup begs the question, if he is learning online, why does he need a teacher? As shown through this video, a teacher is necessary for many reasons. Before he can begin his scavenger hunt through the plethora of information, he has to be taught how to do it. A teacher teaches the student where to begin, how to build his PLN, how to communicate properly, and which information is good and which is bad. The internet is full of great information. It is also full of a lot of false information. If a student is going to learn online, he first must know how to differentiate between the two.

I liked the last comment about what exactly the teacher does. She teaches “how to turn a web search into a scavenger hunt and get EXCITED when he finds that pearl of content.” A teacher not only teaches about the information, she also teaches how to be genuinely enthusiastic about learning! Imagine a student excited to learn something new, to find a great educational website. Amazing!

Personal Learning Environments and Networks

professional learning network: sure you don't have to have a PLN to be a great educator, but why would you close th door on the chance to be even better..

While watching Welcome to My PLE! by a 7th grade science student, I realized that she is learning a lot of information that I am now learning through EDM310. Before this class, I would have never been able to imagine an individual and independent learning setup in my 7th grade class. That just wasn’t something you did, in fact the computer and internet was barely allowed as a source for information in my classes.

The student made a comment during the video which stood out to me, probably because since I began my college career, I have found it to be extremely true. She said, “Because there is so much freedom, you have the inclination to be responsible.”Throughout my schooling days, it has been mandatory that you are in class, if you weren’t at school, your parents were called. You also were made to do your work. If you didn’t do an assignment it wasn’t simply a zero, the teacher would hound you for it even as a late assignment. Most of my teachers were even lenient in that there were many assignments I could have turned in the day before graduation and still gotten full credit. That completely changed when I graduated. No one really cared if I was in class, no one was going to call and check up on me. For that matter, they didn’t care if I did my work. If it wasn’t turned in by the assigned time, it was a zero. There was so much freedom. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.” I had to make sure I was in class; I had to make sure I did my homework, and I had to study. No one was going to follow me around making sure it got done.

I also liked how the student mentions that the assignments look really cool when they are done; it’s neat and orderly, and fun to view. That is something I have also found true in EDM310. I don’t mind doing the assignments; in fact I enjoy doing them most of the time. Another thing I noticed in the video was the website she was using to organize all of her websites. It looked brilliant. After finding the site, I have decided to set up my own Symbaloo to organize my personal favorite sites and the sites I often use for school.

Project #10

Searching For A New Technology

searching for answers

When beginning this project, I had no idea where to even start. There have been so many things that I have learned through this class alone which I never knew existed beforehand. My first thought was that I want to teach the deaf, so there is a undoubtedly TON of information and technology that I don’t know about and will have to learn at some point. It was just a matter of how was I going to find these discoveries? Naturally I turned to Google first. I simply googled “technology to use in a deaf classroom.” Instantaneously there were more than four million pages of things I never would have known how to find otherwise. (Technology and the internet still amaze me!)

The first page took me to a really interesting article Accessibility - Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). CART is a tool which can “caption” anything being said for a deaf or hard of hearing person to read in real time. The captioning can be displayed onto little screens, for personal or small group use. It also can be shown on larger screens for an entire room to see, on a giant screen for big events, on the internet, or even broadcasted via satellite. CART was provided for the author of this article at a conference so that although she was deaf, she could be an active participant in the workshops.

The way that CART works, is as the words are being said, they are also being typed into a stenotype machine using shorthand the machine can decipher. The software translates the shorthand into words and the “captions” appear on the screen almost instantly. The author writes, “The process is so fast that there is hardly any lag time between what is said and what the deaf person is able to read.” Wireless CART services are provided through equipment called a StenoCast X7. The CART reporter’s computer is attached directly to the X7 device. Then there are small receivers which are plugged into the laptops or computers of the students. The students can now sit anywhere up to 300 feet away from the reporter and still receive the “captions.”

CART services are not difficult to get hold of. Some companies offer services locally and nationally. It is also possible to become a CART Services provider. Many of the reporters begin by developing court reporting skills, because the skills used for CART are very similar. This sounds absolutely amazing! This type of technology would work great in a classroom with one or a few deaf students. The problem with CART for a classroom setting is the teacher would also have to have a reporter to type what is being said. Although I’m not entirely sure how this would work in a classroom, I am very interested in learning more about CART and also think it would be really neat to become a reporter for one.

Finding Other Cool Things Along the Way

But I couldn’t stop there ; I wanted to go to all of those other Google pages too! So I continued on. The next page I found was a blog “Educational Technology for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing”. A teacher who has taught deaf education for 15 years was sharing her experiences and advice! How wonderful. After exploring her blog a little I found Technology: Where Do I Begin? (Part 1) where the author talks about almost everything a teacher needs to do and know about technology. Highly recommended to read! The first thing she talks about is developing a PLN and how to do it (gee, where have I heard this before?). She suggests many hashtags and names to follow on Twitter, one of which was #deafed. So I went over to my TweetDeck and set up a new column following #deafed. After exploring some of those tweets, I discovered yet another blog. Visualizing Ideas is a blog written by a teacher who teaches English as a FOREIGN language to deaf and hard of hearing students in Israel. Not only does she teach the deaf, she is teaching them a new language! I just think that is amazing. In one of her posts, Books Teachers Recommend to Other Teachers, she gives a list of books that all teachers should read. This list has already been added to my Pinterest board of books I want to read!

All of this to say, I still get amazed at how easy it is to find all sorts of information. Through one Google search, I have found a cool new piece of technology that I would love to learn to use, two new amazing blogs to follow, a new hashtag to follow on twitter, a list of books I will read to help me be a better teacher and expanded my PLN.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blog Post #5

Dreaming Up Schools

Dream bubble clouds

After exploring her blog, I found that Venspired by Krissy Venosdale is an excellent site to be used by teachers. I absolutely love her blog, in fact I subscribed to it by email already. I discovered a post that I believe every teacher and every future teacher should read, What's Not Written in Our Curriculum. In this post, Krissy basically says to do what you love and help students find their passion along the way. I also found a post which spoke directly to me, Day 3: Photography in the Classroom. This post called out to me because I love photography, so I began reading. Krissy introduces ten ways to incorporate photography in a classroom. I love this idea! The projects sound amazing and so much fun, allowing the students to play around with photography and get behind the camera.

In If I Built a School,Krissy talks about what her school would be like if she was able to build one from scratch. This is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever read! Throughout the post, you can sense her passion she has for learning. Her vision for what a school should be goes right along with mine. The feeling that kids wouldn’t be there by force, but because learning is so stinkin’ awesome they would want to be there, all the time. Being handed over a property and being told that I can build a school of my own there and that anything I say goes, is something that I have actually thought about beforehand. I can honestly say I wouldn’t even know where to begin. However, since we are only dreaming. I would want my school to be, in a word, EPIC. Everything would be colorful and give off a happy vibe. Much of the school I have created in my mind is almost the same as Krissy’s, a treehouse indoors, cafĂ© set up cafeteria, and different classes the kids chose themselves to take. The thing that I struck me as most special in Krissy’s imaginary school was the teachers’ parking spots. I absolutely love the idea of each teacher having “a sign decorated by a student that would tell them what they mean to them. So, it would be the first, and last, thing that teacher sees every single day throughout the school year.” That is just beautiful. I know that it would be my favorite part of everyday as a teacher. I also like the “grade levels” that she created. Each student “leveling up” based on their readiness, not their age. Reading this post made me want to go back to elementary school even more than usual. As long as I can go to her school!

Using Internet in a New Way

After watching and listening to Eric Whitaker's Virtual Choir and the NPR Interview, I couldn’t even describe my thoughts. This was the most amazing and cool thing I’d ever seen! I knew the internet brought people from across the globe together, but this was even better. I loved the way Eric Whitaker said it in the interview, “all of these individuals… alone in their rooms… brought together… so that we can BE ALONE TOGETHER.” Through this choir, not only was beautiful music made, but these people from all different countries were instantly connected. I could have never imagined something like this or thought it possible to create. This completely blew my mind and truly amazed me.

As far as Jennifer Chamber's blog post goes, I completely agree with the title. “I think I have become a Blogger.” I have wanted to start a blog for a long time, but never had the time or the knowhow. Through this class, however, I have learned not only how to blog but how much fun it is to get your ideas out into the world. I am currently compiling a list of ideas for my future personal blog.

Teaching: That's SO 20th Century

In Teaching in the 21st Century, Kevin Roberts presents the tough question all teachers and future teachers are asking themselves, “What does it mean to teach in the 21st century?” The role of teaching has drastically changed in the last decade. With the amount of technology in everyday life, students… actually anyone can have the answer to any question in their homes, hands, and pockets. Anything can be “googled” in a matter of seconds. If that is the case, what is the point of teaching facts, dates, theories, information, etc.? Kevin Roberts shows the different skills which need to be taught and the different questions which need to be asked. Instead of prohibiting the use of technology tools, we need to teach students the skills of how to use them correctly.

I personally believe that he is correct and this is the approach we as educators need to take in the classroom. This presentation brought up many homework questions and activities that I would love to use one day in my own classroom. We must ask students to use the technology available to find the answers, but ask them to also evaluate and analyze why the answer they find is correct. This abundance of technology also allows students to create for themselves, rather than just looking at what others have created. This “theory” will change the classroom forever.

Flipping Classrooms

Why I Flipped My Classroom taught me some very valuable information. I really enjoy the idea of flipping a classroom. After watching Katie Gimbar’s video and her FAQ videos, I would really like this to be the way my future classroom is set up. A lot of the questions she answered were questions I had while watching the original video which was extremely helpful. However, I am still a little skeptical of how this would work in a classroom which teaches multiple subjects. Dr. Lodge McCammon's FIZZ and Ms. Munafo's Flipping the Classroom both presented the same information as Katie Gimbar’s video. This style of teaching is wonderful and what I would love to do one day.

After watching all of these videos, I decided I might as well explore the website they all were suggesting. I found that the Friday Institute website not only had an area for teachers, but also for undergraduates. The FIZZ program trains both teachers and undergrads to flip their classrooms. Both current teachers and students can apply and complete assignments to receive a certificate for teaching in a flipped classroom. This is a program that I am extremely interested in applying for in my future.

However, then I think about my future. What I am planning and would love to do is to teach the deaf. This approach is something that would not work in this type of classroom. If I instead end up in a “normal” elementary classroom, I will absolutely implement this teaching method. This is something that I will remember in the future and consider if it can be used in my classroom.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blog Post #4

Podcasting allows information to be shared with millions of people, all you need is a microphone, a computer, and software

First Grade Podcasting

I have never made a podcast before, and I would never think it was something to be used in a classroom. In 1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook and Podcasting with First Grade, I learned exactly how it can be used in a classroom. This seems like a project which allows the students to learn while they enjoy themselves quite a bit. I found it very interesting that the “shy and quiet students were coming out of their shell.” I was a very shy child, and still am, but I love to break quiet and shy children out of their shells. Podcasting, according to these articles, seems to be just the trick!

The Flat Stanley Podcast was my favorite. I love Flat Stanley and enjoy making them too. Listening to the children talk about different places around the universe was awesome. Of course, I loved hearing about Alabama, although I think they should have learned to say “War Eagle” instead. This shows an amazing way to use podcasts and fun activities to teach children about other places.

Podcasting Language

While reading Listening-Comprehension-Podcasting, I couldn’t help but think of my senior year of high school. My friends and I were taking our fourth year of Spanish with the same teacher. I loved our teacher, and loved the language. In my third year of Spanish I was pretty good at speaking Spanish. Then because there wasn’t enough room or time in the day, our class was combined with Spanish 3. Our teacher would have to spend one or two day with Spanish 3 and the next one or two days with us. It got to be very confusing. At the end of the year I had given up on Spanish, and ultimately lost the majority of my Spanish-speaking abilities. This article talks about using a podcast to teach language through listening- comprehension, speaking skills, and fluency. After reading, I think that if we had spent our year of Spanish 4 creating podcasts and editing them, I would have been able to practice and keep the language easier.

Education: Podcast Style

The Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom taught me many different ways that podcasting can be used in the classroom. This generation of students is very technology based, “they haven’t experienced life without technology.” Joe Dale proves this with some shocking statistics. 10,000 hours are spent playing video games, 10,000 more hours spent on the phone and 20,000 hours spent watching TV. Students today need a technology based learning which they will be familiar with. Podcasts can be used in all sorts of ways to help students learn, from them creating their own podcasts, podcasts being used to help sick children keeping up, and parents being able to know exactly what is happening in the classroom.

Judy Scharf Podcast Collection is a very helpful site which covers all the ins and outs of podcasts. First off it explains what a podcast is exactly, which is nice. It also gives some benefits of podcasting in education. For example, podcasts are available 24/7, it isn’t a learning tool which can only be accessed in the classroom during class time, and therefore there are no excuses for missing anything. Podcasting also allows for students to enhance their communication skills. Communication is used in everyday life. Thus, it is pertinent to be an effective communicator. Students creating their own podcasts can help them to learn how to communicate; what to and what not to do. There is also a lot of information on how to start a podcast. This is something that will be very beneficial to me when starting our podcast for EDM310, because I have never made one before.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

C4T #1


I read and responded to 2¢ Worth’s post The Purpose of Textbooks. The one I read was “The Purpose of Textbooks: Part 2”, therefore, I felt I also needed to read Part 1. Throughout both posts, David Warlick talks about textbooks and how the purpose is changing. Years ago when the availability of information was scarce, education was based on remembering. Today however, because of the abundance of technology, education is based on being “skillfully, resourceful and responsible learners.” He goes on in Part 2 to say how we don’t necessarily need textbooks, what we need is “flexible digital textbooks.” Ones that can grow and change with the student as he learns new information, something that can be kept for life to constantly change and adapt. “Learning tools need not be turned in at the end of the course, but carried on, edited, adapted and grown.” When I commented, I focused first on the idea of a “flexible digital textbook.” I wish I could have a ‘textbook’ that changed with me and showed the knowledge I have gained. However, textbooks cannot be completely thrown out; they serve as an excellent springboard for deeper research. Also, many students aren’t motivated enough to be without a given text to know. Maybe these students need a flexible textbook rather than, as Dr. Strange would say, burping back the information put into their heads.

Taxes for Kids
Infograph which compares taxes from all over the world
When I went back to David Warlick’s blog 2 weeks later, I read “World Tax Comparisons” by Ryann Warlick. In this post, Ryann gives an excellent conversation starter to be used in a classroom. She gives a link to an infograph (photo above) and instructions of how to use it in the classroom. First, discuss with students why taxes are needed, what sort of things tax money is used for, and think about “what would the world would be like without the government having money.” Then show the students the infograph. She then poses questions to ask the students and find ways, other than taxes, which the government could use to gather the necessary funds. I found this extremely interesting. I would love to hear what sort of things the kids would come up with. Even some adults could come up with some funny stuff. After exploring this blog a little more, I found there are tons of fun activities like this which could easily be used in a classroom. I plan to keep up with this blog and use some of the methods demonstrated in my own classroom.

Special Blog Post #1

Searching WolframAlpha

When I searched WolframAplha to “Compare the Population of India, China, and the United States” I found that India and China have even more of a lead on the U.S. than I had previously thought. China has the largest population with 1.35 billion people. India isn’t far behind China with 1.21 billion people. The United States only has 309 million people. We don’t even have half a billion people, and China almost has one and a half billion! That’s incredible. WolframAlpha also showed the life expectancy of each country. I found it really interesting. The people of India are only expected to live to be 69.9, and China’s life expectancy is 73.5. What I found the most interesting is that although the U.S. has the smallest population, the life expectancy is the highest with 78.1. I’m not sure what this says about these countries, I just found it cool.

I continued to use India, China and the United States for my second and third comparative searches. For my second search, I compared the number of students in each of these countries. WolframAlpha gave way more information than I ever expected. I not only found the number of students total in each country, I also found the number of students specifically in elementary school and high school and college. I was also told the number of teachers for elementary and high schools and also the student-to-teacher ratio. In total, India has the most students with 251.3 million people in school. China follows with 233.3 million people. Again, the U.S. is last with 67.62 million. But again, we must consider the population. By doing some math, I found that this means, 20.8% of India’s population is considered a student; 17.3% of China’s population is considered a student; and 21.9% of the U.S. population is considered a student. So it may appear that we have the least amount of students, but the U.S. has the highest percent of the population in school right now. I think that’s pretty cool!

For my third comparative search, I compared the number of internet users in India, China and the United States. Again WolframAlpha blew me away with information. In one second I knew how many people in 3 countries across the globe were paying for internet. I also was able to know the number of people in each country which were using all different types of technology. For example, cell phone plans, television/cable users, even newspaper subscriptions. China has the highest number of internet users – 516.1 million (that’s more than the entire population of the United States!) 243.8 million people use the internet in the United States. Only 125 million people use the internet in India. Another thing I thought was cool about WolframAlpha was that it also gives you graphs and charts so that visual people can understand it easier and more information can be shared. For example, I learned that although China has the most internet users, this huge spike only occurred in the last four years.

I feel that WolframAlpha could be used greatly in a classroom. This site has information on anything you could possibly imagine! Which means it is great for personal use and learning, and also for students. I was already somewhat familiar with WolframAlpha, because this is the site used by Apple’s Siri. There have been many questions my friends and I have asked Siri, and a WolframAlpha search pops up as her response. This site is great for students of all ages. It is very easy to use and holds a ton of information. Kids could easily and quickly use this site to find information for themselves or for school projects.

Social Media Changing the World Forever… and FAST
millions upon millions of social media is being used daily. this shows exactly how much is being used in one minute.

Social Media Count is a website which shows in real time the number of all sorts of social, mobile, gaming, and heritage things happening around the world. Above, I’ve included a screenshot of how many things happened in one minute on all different social websites. Going to the site and watching how fast the numbers change kind of made me dizzy! But it’s interesting to see. In ONE MINUTE, there were 2,237,038 likes and comments made on Facebook!!! I can’t even wrap my mind around that. Social media is taking over the world! And it’s not something we can stop. Instead, we have to go along with it and find ways to include these things in our classroom in an educational way. Honestly, this stresses me out a little bit to think about.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blog Post #3

Peer Editing

Peer editing, a boy feeling pressure from the many eyes looking at his paper
Peer Editing is a video used to teach students how to peer edit. I found it nice that they chose to define “peer” and “editing” separately before defining “peer editing.” Peer editing has been an important part of most of my education thus far. However, I feel this video would have helped me grasp the correct way to peer edit faster when I was first learning. This is a great tool I can use in my own classroom. The teacher who created this presentation also used it to present the kids assignments. Tutorial Peer Editing presents the same information as the video above, but in a slide show that would be very easy to use in a classroom, where you could slow down and make sure the students understand the information.

My favorite was Writing Peer Review TOP 10 Mistakes. First of all, those kids did some great acting, I know my 4th and 5th grade classes wouldn’t have been able to pull off this video at all. Aside from the cute kids, this video makes great points. I know that I personally have been Picky Patty, Whatever William, Jean the Generalizer, Mean Margaret, Off-Task Oliver, Speedy Sandy and Defensive Dave at some point. That’s seven of the top 10 mistakes that I know I have made. What about you? Peer editing, like everything, takes practice. It isn’t something you can automatically do, it must be mastered. I’ve been peer editing for about 13 years now, and I still am not fabulous at it. Sure, I can tell you most things that are wrong with something, but am I doing it right? Am I being nice? Or am I taking it nicely? It’s definitely something to think about and work on.

Assistive Technologies

A handicap button on a keyboard
This section of the assignment really called out to me, because I would like to teach a deaf classroom. After watching these videos, I am also thinking about the possibility of teaching a blind classroom. I had never thought about the technology options available to hearing or vision impaired students. The Mountbatten is a marvelous invention which allows blind students to type, take notes and keep up in a classroom. I believe that all students should be taught about these types of disabilities. Technology like this could be used in a normal classroom in order to teach all children about disabilities, and also how to use this technology.

As a math lover, I found Teaching Math to the Blind extremely interesting. It never occurred to me that learning math is tremendously difficult for blind students. This device which Professor Art Karshmer developed is amazing. Blind students can now learn the basic math which otherwise would be very hard for them, simply because the way math is written isn’t “standard” for them.

The VoiceOver option, used in iPad Usage For the Blind and Teaching Mom What Her Deaf/Blind Child Is Learning On the iPad, wasn't completely new to me, I have seen this used before. However, I played around on my personal iPad to view all the features available to students with different types of disabilities. I discovered, not only are there options for the blind, there are also many options for deaf students, and handicapped students, who may not have complete motor skills.

These technologies will be used in my classroom. Even if I don’t end up in a disabled classroom, I would want my students to learn about these cultures so that they may know how to react in real life. Also to learn the adaptations which the deaf and blind must adjust to, in order to accomplish what “normal” students find so easy.

Student's Digital Smarts

Vicki Davis brings up many great points in Harness Your Student's Digital Smarts. I really liked her take on looking at the students’ strengths and interests and adapting the flow of the classroom to each group of students. Each student learns differently, therefore, there must be a way in order for each student to be taught. As Davis says, “When you have only paper, and only pencil, then only certain types of children are going to succeed.” Linking the students through the internet with people across the world was really cool too. Kids need to learn how to collaborate with others. That is a part of every “real world job” out there. Students might as well get used to it now. Having students work with other students from other countries not only helps their “people skills,” but also teaches them about other cultures.

After exploring Edutopia a little, I discovered amazing tools I can use now to get ready for my own classroom. They have blogs, videos and guides for anything a teacher could think of needing. There is even an option for looking by grade level. I even found a couple of parenting guides, summer ideas and ways to help your school go green. I also found a classroom guide which I feel pertains directly to EDM310, Classroom Guide: Top Ten Tips for Teaching with New Media. This is an awesome website, which I will use for my own classroom.