Sunday, October 31, 2010

Additional Assignment 3

Sir Ken Robinson

Let me just start out by saying that I very much enjoy reading about creative thinkers like Sir Ken Robinson.  Well I don't have much experience with the College of Education besides EDM 310.  I do believe that creativity is hindered in schools, but I feel that I have had somewhat of a chance to use it in EDM310.  Because of standardized testing, I don't think that there is much that I can do to change anything.  There just isn't any educational freedom in k-12 classrooms.  The teachers are forced to teach so much in order for the students to pass the standardized tests.  The U.S. needs to do away with standardized testing and find a better way to "test" their students and teachers alike.  I feel like I need to wake up to the material set before
me.  Correction, I feel like I need to be awakened by the interactions I have in my classroom.  So as teachers, we need to make education more exciting than iPhones, Wiis, etc. If we need to bring technology in the classroom to do so then be it.  One of my favorite things that he pointed out was the fact that students are taught in "batches" formed by grouping together children based on their date of manufacturing.  If a student excels above the rest of his or her classmates, then there should be no reason that the school system keep that student going on a much slower pace of learning than their mind can handle...we need to find a way to make sure children are performing at THEIR full potential (and not the full potential we have envisioned for them) by challenging them individually, if we must.  Creativity is for the most part hindered in school.  These whole "the answers are in black and white" and "theres only one possible answer" things are just ridiculous.  Life is never in black and white, and there are always multiple solutions, but in life you must have the skills to find the best possible solution.  Once we change our educational paradigm we will be able to prepare our students for the future.  As far as the slide show goes, I love the presentation.  I would enjoy being the artist on a project like this.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blog Post 10

An open letter to educators

Dan Brown

I also have had similar experiences as Morgan and Dan.  Sitting in a class, jotting down facts that are being spit out at us, and trying to stay awake as we stare at the power point in front of us.  The classes I enjoy the most are the ones where we are allowed to go off on a tangent on one specific idea and talk about it for hours.  The teacher who can carry on a CONVERSATION with the students for hours without the students even realizing that class had already ended.  I've had fact-spitting teachers before, and sure they ensured my passing of the grad exams, but thats because the grad exams, ACT, SAT and all other standardized testing involve straight facts-which is a huge problem in itself.  College professors have much more leeway, but as far as k-12 teachers are concerned, they have no choice but to be fact spitters.  They are graded on how well their students do on standardized MULTIPLE CHOICE tests.  So, teachers may have time to add in a little imagination and critical thinking, but for the most part, k-12 education will remain fact-based until our education system as a whole changes. I really dont understand how everything has evolved in our world except for one of the most important things, education. I doubt that my future employer will give me a multiple choice test before hiring me, so why is our world of education so obsessed with facts? My employers will want to know that I can successfully communicate my ideas and motivate others to question and discuss theories, ideas, etc. This is why I also appreciate my EDM 310 class because it allows me too look behind the useless surface of facts and to analyze the ideas behind the figures. 
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blog Post 9

"What I've Learned This Year" by Mr. McClung

stay positive

Mr. McClung points out seven lessons that he has learned in his first year of teaching that focus on his relation with the students, other teachers, and his style of teaching.  Seven lessons, that not only I, a future educator, can benefit from, but also those teachers who have been in their classrooms for years-the ones that are set in their ways.  I have a feeling that I will have a problem with overcoming the disappointment that follows when my lesson doesn't go as planned.  But then again, do I really want it to? No, I don't.  I want to get off topic.  I want my students to interrupt me and ask questions frequently.  I want my classroom to be a conversational setting not a lecture.  I just hope that I don't get caught up in the planning of it all, and forget what's really important.  I want to develop a learning relationship with my students, and in order to do so,  must understand them listen, to them.  And most of all I want to be reasonable with my expectations.  Many of my family members who are in the field of education say that my expectations of my experience on and with the students are too high.   Well, I would rather keep them too high than too low.  Which is why I will struggle with this point also.  I need to keep in mind that I am not dealing with adults, and mistakes happen, because everyone is human.  Once I start teaching, if I feel myself drifting and forgetting what is important, I'll look back at this post to remind myself.

Blog Post 8

Richard Miller: This is how we dream

This technique of using multimedia to learn, is very beneficial.  Where else could you look to find pictures, sound bytes, video, and text? no where.  With multimedia learning, creative possibilities are endless.  Like Dr. Miller said, this technique allows you to experience the subject. His outlook on how to use the internet as a learning tool with the rest of the world is amazing. He said that educators must be in the business of sharing ideas, freely.  I completely agree.  EDM 310 would be non-existent if this was not being practiced. I don't want to learn how to be a good teacher by reading books published years ago, I want to learn from the teachers and professors that are learning something new everyday, today!   Information is always being updated, reviewed, and shared. And it is ours for the taking.  A limitless amount of knowledge is out there just for us. We now have the power to add to it, improve it, and release it to the world once again. Wow. He talked about a program that searched the internet for blogs, news sites, etc. and takes all of this information and puts it together instantaneously so you could find out the mood of the world's population for today.  That is amazing.  There's no other word to describe it.  But besides that, he emphasizes the importance of sharing innovative ideas.  He's right.  It's the only way we will all be able to move forward.

EDM for dummies and The Chipper series

Quite entertaining.  I also saw that I had a problem in this class with procrastination and the self-motivated learning.  I was actually thinking about this the other day when I passed an elementary school on my way to class.  If I have a "crisis" during the week, I may not go to class, just turn my homework in online and plan to get the notes later.  But when I get to the real world this just won't be acceptable.  Especially since I plan on being an educator, I will have at least 25 students waiting on me every morning, whether my life is busy or not.  I just think it's crazy that (hopefully) within the next few years, the success of 20 people will be in my hands every single day.  With out my attendance (physically, mentally, and emotionally), the students will not succeed and that is my job-on top of the fact that I will get fired.   I have been "over"procrastinating the past two weeks, and when I saw that elementary school parking lot full of teachers cars, I decided that I had to put a stop to it if I ever wanted to be successful in my career. Just like I plan on showing up for school on time every day, I plan on actually being EARLY with my posts.  I understand that this is something that I should have known for sometime now, and I did.  I just simply re-evaluated the situation and saw that I was slipping and that obviously wasn't working for me so now I plan to get back in the game.

Smartboard Debate

student using smartboard

So each week I have read something that has changed my mind about a particular subject.  The past few weeks I have been trying to figure out what I think is most important in the classroom, enthusiasm or technology.  Both can motivate students to learn, just in different ways.  Although I'm still on the fence about smartboards, I believe that they can effectively bring these two things together IF the teacher is well trained.  Cathie pointed out the fact that they increase motivation and engagement.  I asked my younger brother about the Smartboards in his classroom, and he said "they're really cool, they have lots of games and stuff."  But they rarely use them.  I said "so, basically they use them just like overhead projectors," he defensively stated "I said they were cool, OKAY."  He may think they're cool, but he said they don't play any educational games, students don't go up to the smart boards,  and they don't explore the web.  The teacher stands there and touches the screen and talks.  It may have my brother's attention because it's big and shiny, but unless the teacher effectively uses the interactive white board, it is a big waste of time and money for the education system. 
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Additional Assignment 2

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

Sugata Mitra with the children he taught

     First of all, I see the correlation between areas with educationally unsuccessful schools and teachers who refuse to work there.  Teachers refuse to work in places in which they are needed most.  What I don't see, is the reason for this.  Don't teachers become teachers in order to make a difference?  So why would you actively seek out jobs at schools who have an ample amount of good teachers and impressive schools?  Obviously those schools are on their way to improving scores and more importantly, education, without the help of you.  My idea of making a difference is actually making a difference, not simply being acknowledged because my school does well.   So when that day finally comes, when I start applying for jobs, I am going to actively seek out lower income schools, with low scores, and students that don't seem to care.  Because it is there where I can make a difference.  Maybe the problem is that the teachers don't care, so it is the responsibility of the new teachers to breathe life into the staff, and let them know that they can make a difference, that they don't need to give up. Maybe the students don't have enough of a support system at home, which only means that teachers need to (professionally) fill that void, and be the encouragement that all students need in order to succeed.  You might say I've watched Freedom Writers one too many times, but I guess I'll find out on my own, if my theories prove to be true.
     "If children have interest, then education happens".  Which is exactly why the term "busy work" should be banned from every classroom in the world.  Busy work is for teachers who have given up.  For teachers who no longer have the drive to actually do their job.  When you approach education like it is exciting, captivating, and life-changing, then so will your students.  Granted when you are too enthusiastic, some students will write you off as the loon.  But there will always be students there just because they are forced to be there, but that is besides the point.  The point is that if you are interested in the subject, then maybe, just maybe your enthusiasm will rub off on them.  This goes hand in hand with the idea of "The Grandmother", "The Encourager", or my personal favorite, "The Cheerleader".  Showing students that you are amazed by how much they know, and proud of everything they do, and just cheering them on in everything that they do-can do wonders.  I have always hated English with a passion, but my 9th grade English teacher (probably the best teacher ever) made me love English.  She was very enthusiastic, and made every student believe that they could succeed.  Which is why I will always believe that this is the  best approach to teaching.
     So, can students teach themselves if motivated?  Yes.  Can anyone who is not motivated to learn, learn? Yes.  But imagine how much more they will learn with the teacher there cheering them on, guiding them, while still giving them enough freedom to learn on their on.  What conditions are necessary for kids to teach themselves? The only NECESSARY conditions are the tools needed to learn.  Like in the video, the only thing that was needed was a computer with online capabilities.  Those students did not feel like they were learning.  They were having fun.  They were exploring.  Much like in Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, these students were experiencing a head-fake.  They thought they were just having fun, learning was what they actually achieved.  What roles do computers and internet access play in the process?  Well, just let me ask you this question.  As much as everyone says they love to read, how many average school-aged children are going to pick up a book, just for the fun of it? A few. How many are going to be intrigued by the capabilities of a computer? By the internet? Well let's just say a few more.  Now with its intrigue set aside, the mere possibilities of the internet outweigh the capabilities of a book.  This is a fact that I shouldn't have to argue.  Now that the student has free reign to the internet, imagine what will happen when the students are faced with a problem, a question?  This is just that guiding light that will help them get from point A to point B.  Now once they get to point B the student should be allowed to keep exploring.  Explore, never research.  Entertainment, never assignment.  How do you motivate someone to learn?  I don't mean to harp on this, but motivation is all in the teacher's approach, the teacher's attitude.  The teacher should approach anything as if it is an activity rather than an assignment.  In most cases the teacher should be the cheerleader, but I also believe it is the teacher's job to adjust to each and every student accordingly.  Some students will perceive the exuberant "cheerleader" as annoying.  My approach to these students would be the "I bet you can't".  I do not think that this approach would work with the majority of students, but I believe it would do wonders for the rest.  Anytime I was told I did not have the ability to achieve something, I wanted to work that much harder, just to prove that I could.  And in the process I learned.  My "stubborness" was my motivation, I just accidentally learned on the path to proving myself worthy. When do I teach myself? I teach myself when I am interested.  If I am interested in a subject I will google it for hours.  If you put a workbook in front of me, then I am going to throw it to the side until I am forced to do it.   
     So I might have gotten off on my motivation soap box but basically, technology's capabilities are endless.  Pair these capabilities with motivation and the possibilities are endless.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PLN Project

I am currently using Symbaloo to keep up with my PLN.  I also like Evernote, which I plan on using in the future.  As far as History goes, I follow HowStupidBlog, Blog4History, and USHistoryBlog.  I plan to search out for blogs specifically focused on the points in history that I am most interested in, such as colonial,But at this point in time, I want to stay focused on a variety of blogs.
Scott Elias is a principal who has a blog called Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?.  His recent posts touched on the subject of meeting just to meet.  He said there is no reason to meet every week just to meet.  If there is no change then why sit in a room just to say you did. With just a few of these tips you can achieve the successful meeting.
  1. Schedule a 22 minute meeting
  2. Have a goal based agenda
  3. Send required readings 3 days beforehand 
  4. Start on time 
  5. Stand up 
  6. No laptops, but presenters and note takes
  7. No phones, no exceptions
  8. Focus! Note off topic comments
  9. Send notes ASAP

Timetoast Project

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Podcast Project

Blog Post 7

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
Wow! I am amazed at how upbeat this man is.  It's inspiring. As soon as he introduced thebig elephant in the room, I paused the video, and googled him.  He wasn't lying.  Not that I thought he was, but I just wanted to know how much longer he lived since he said the doctors gave him roughly five more months to live (even though he was in amazing physical shape). This healthy looking, upbeat guy, with a very positive outlook on life, passed away six months later.  Ya know, it's always those who have six months to live, or those who have had a debilitating disease since they were five, that inspire the rest of us to do something with the lives that we are blessed to have.  They don't sit around and feel sorry for themselves.  We (healthy people) do that for them.  The ones that are blessed enough not to have an expiration date, are the ones that do nothing with our lives because we assume that we have forever to do so.  
He had the opportunity to learn so much at such a young age.  His football coach kept riding him for messing up all practice.  And I too, feel like sometimes, teachers or parents just won't get off my back.  You want to just scream, "Hey, why don't you ever focus on him or her because they never do what they're supposed to!" But like the coach said, it is a good thing when they ride you for doing wrong, because when they stop all together, that just means they have given up on you.  I plan to ride my students' backs for as long as I can.  I do not plan on giving up on any of them.  And Enthusiam.  Enthusiam, enthusiasm, enthusiasm.  If I could teach my students only one thing it would be enthusiasm.  For your subject, for your current project, for your education, for your life.
The Brick Wall.  I love his idea of the brick wall. I, along with everyone else in the world, have encountered many brick walls in my life.  And with many of the brick walls I have encountered I have simply walked away.   This just showed me, that obviously, I didn't want it enough, so obviously I was not meant to do it.  But with some things in my life, not only have I passed the brick walls set before me, I have gone on to more brick walls and surpassed them also. It was comical to see his reaction to the fact that his students had surpassed his expectations at the beginning of the semester.  He did do the right thing.  Because telling them that they have already surpassed his expectations would have been an injustice to them.  I think students need to know that they are going in the right direction but if all you do is praise them, they will never want to go any further.  It is amazing that a project he assigned in his class evolved into this campus-wide event that everyone lined up to see.  The impact that he had on his students and the campus is just incredible.  This could never be done in a desk with a book and a pencil.  He gave his students limitless possibilities and from that the teacher became the student and they were both able to learn together.  He had a lot of pride in the masters program he was over.  He emphasized the reason that it was so successful was because they had so much freedom.  It was a project-based curriculum, where there were many field trips, hands-on learning, and no reporting to the deans.  Is obvious why it was so successful.  It was exciting.  Who gets excited about a book?   No one.  Who gets excited about a field trip? Everyone.  I hope my class will be similar to this.  OHHH! And the self-reflective bar graphs. Wow. That is just awesome.  I wonder, if there was a bar graph that showed how easy I was to work with, would I be at the top or the bottom?  This whole head-fake thing is also very important. We've learned through this method since we were in little league.  We thought we were simply learning how to    hit a ball, but we were really learning values like perseverance and character.  Learning not to throw the bat down when you got so pissed off because you couldn't hit the ball.  You just kept trying until you could.  So while learning how to hit, throw, and catch a ball, you actually learned many values that you had no idea you were actually learning.  When I teach my students, I want them not only to learn that they must learn the material, but that they must continuously be involved in their learning, and they must be responsible for their learning.  His legacy is learning something hard while having fun. Well I would say that is something worth being proud of.  His parents could be the best teachers ever, especially when it came down to the little things  like letting his imagination run wild by letting him paint his room.  He really is a salesman of education.  And a pretty darn good one.  I want to Be a Tigger! I want to Have Fun! I want to use this in my classroom to headfake my students.  I want their excitement to boil over.  I want them to have so much fun that they have no idea that they are learning anything at all.

Blog Post 6

1. The Networked Student

This is very overwhelming.  I thought that I could handle being teacher, but I am glad I have a few more years to prepare myself to be the guide of so many impressionable students, and more importantly, future leaders to this world of educational networking.  But by then, there will be so much more to take in.  Like the video said the networks these students use as a part of their PLNs are continuously expanding.  I know one thing is for sure, without this EDM310 class I would be completely lost in this world of educational networking.  

2. A 7th grader's Personal Learning Environment

I see many and very few differences in our  PLNs at the same time.  I use the same sites she uses.  I try and search for new ways to learn on my own.  But my PLN may not necessarily have the same information.  I am still in the process of trying to wrap my head around this whole new world, but I think I am starting to understand it a little bit more everyday.  I appreciate the fact that the idea of learning is now in a way self-motivated and endless and ever-changing, but now I have to use this to my advantage.  It is not a one-stop-shop, it is a continual process.  So while I may be overwhelmed with the abundance of information out there at this point in time, I look forward to using it to my advantage and learning for the rest of my life.

3. The Machine is Changing Us

I love this movement from indifference to involvement.  No longer are we using the machine or technological mediums to for just pleasure. We are now using them to make a difference, to be heard.  I enjoyed his research on the evolution of whatever.  We now have the ability to research anything possible throughout the internet.  His comparison between his class, that was obviously disengaged, and the audience of the American Idol audition was hilarious.  But once his class began actively researching the evolution of whatever, and the medium Youtube, and how people now interact with each other, they got involved and became excited.  I hope that I can use this in my classroom to engage with my students and excite them by relating the material to things that are relevant to them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Summary C4K 1

Austin from Dr. Chamberlain's class reminds me a lot of myself actually.  In his about me section he revealed tat his parents are very involved in his school, he was awarded the tiger of the year, and he has consecutively made the AB Honor Roll.  He recognized his faults in his Manifesto, which were also much like mine.  Problems concentrating, not goofing off, and time management.  I let Austin know that he had a bright future ahead of him, It is great that he recognized his faults now so that he will know what he needs to work on in order to improve and to move forward.  I also let him know that obviously he is a pretty amazing student if he continuously makes Honor Roll and was named the Tiger of the year.  I hope that I will continue to learn more about this amazing student with a bright future.