Wednesday, April 27, 2011

C4T #4 Summary

Aaron Eyler is a High school history teacher who hopes to engage more members of the educational community in developing a more comprehensive understanding of the type of academic environment we need to develop students' minds.  He is definitely one of the teachers that I will continue to follow long after this class.

Technology As The New Math

Let’s be honest about something. We continue to perpetuate a culture that believes an individual is born with some inherent trait that allows them to be “good” at Math. We even talk to kids about how well they do in some subject areas as opposed to others.  This is all straight bunk. Even worse, we are only expanding on this belief with the infusion of new tools and technologies.  We deem it perfectly acceptable to hear someone say “I’m just not good with technology.”  We need to fight this mentality as a collective unit; not just on the technology front but on ALL fronts. We need to stop allowing kids to convince themselves that they aren’t “good” at certain subject areas and that working hard to learn a new skill, topic, theme, or idea is exactly what we have to do at some point or another with everything.  Face it: technology is the new math.
 I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never thought of it like that, but from now on I know I will. Technology moves so fast. There is really no way that we will ever be able to move fast enough to keep up with it. But it just takes time, just the other day my 75 year old grandmother came in the room and said she didn’t want to waste the gas money driving up to town to pay her bills, so she wanted me to show her how to pay them online. You have no idea how big of a breakthrough this is for her. She used to claim that technology was evil. But even she is starting to get the hang of it, or at least be open to the idea of it. We MUST instill into students that giving up is not the answer. Working hard to overcome our obstacles is how the human race has gotten where it has today, so we should use that mentality each and everyday we are faced with a hardship. Thank you for your post…..I will be blogging about your post with in the next two weeks. Feel free to check it out at

You Get One Shot At This…

I’ve read a bunch of posts and articles about failure recently that discuss the implications that  it has (directly or indirectly) on our education system.  On Education Stormfront, a brief comment about a Seth Godin video titled, “Punishing Curiosity”.  In the New York Times, an article from the Opinionator titled, “The Power of Failure”.  On The Learning Nation a post titled, “Failure Doesn’t Teach Kids, WE Do“.  Educators need to start discussing failure and the need for kids to learn persistence when facing adversity. We live in a time of instant gratification, but more importantly, we live in a time where we don’t value reflection and learning from mistakes. We’re too busy, in school and life, running on to the next task to really think about what we are learning.  We can’t ignore failure as something that needs to be discussed with kids. If they “fail” at an assignment, why do we prevent them from being able to redo it to improve their work? Isn’t a huge component of learning the ability to reflect on what was done and make improvements?  We need to get away from the one-shot deal that makes up 90% of the activities we work on with kids.  It’s the hypocritical mindset that has us telling kids “you need to understand this concept to understand future concepts,” yet we find it perfectly acceptable for them to grasp 70, 80, or 90% simply so we can trudge through an irrelevant curriculum. It’s no wonder so many kids become masters of “doing school.”

Isn’t an understanding of the material superior to the possible inflated grade teachers may be scared of? We need to make sure that these students grasp everything, and if we allow them to fill in A or B and promise them that they won’t have to see it again, we aren’t helping anyone. If the student knows that they must understand the topic before they are able to move on, then that is exactly what they will do!

Special Assignment: Metaphors

Metaphors.  I like to refer to them as educated similes or metaphors.  Metaphors paint a picture of resemblance, association or comparison.  Instead of just hearing the association, the writer allows us to see the association.  Not only does this help us understand what may be a foreign topic, but also allows us as writers to explore our creative side.  And on top of helping us see the topic more clearly, metaphors create a stronger argument.  Using pencils instead of computers in "Tom Johnson's" post let us see how foolish non-21stcentury educators were being.  I often notice metaphors because my creative writing teacher in high school exposed often us to them.   Maybe others in the class didn't have a strong background in metaphors but they can use this class to overcome that.

Final post on PLN

I use the Google's RSS Reader (Google Reader) to organize my favorite blogs and websites. Whether they be technology, science or history based.  Here are just a few of my new favorite blogs/websites.

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
At The Teacher's Desk
Free Technology for Teachers
Reflections of a Science Teacher
Ed Tech in the Classroom
The History Teachers Attic
Science For All
Tech the Plunge
Science Education on the Cutting Edge

Before now I had never heard of Nings. What is a ning you ask? Well it is basically a community of people interested in similar topics, with forums and messaging. Classroom 2.0,  Future of Education, and The Educators PLN are a few examples.

If you haven't already heard of The Educators PLN, search it, find it, bookmark it!  Once you've done that, you can put information that you find helpful on there.  It is a community where all educators can come together and help each other.

I recently found #SciChat (on twitter of course) which is great for anything and everything science related! #edchat is also a good one.

Over the past few weeks I have started following blogs, twitters, websites, etc.  Blogging About The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom and the Langwitches Blog are good sources for up-to-date technology uses in the classroom (like I have said before, if you aren't a fan of technology in the classroom, mosey on over to Langwitches and  I'm sure you'll have a change of heart).  And if you're just in the mood for a dash of inspiration, Moving at the Speed of Creativity or Concrete Classroom are sure to have just the thing.  Educational Technology Guy and The Science and Technology Lady not only pull out all the stops when it comes to technology, but also are great sources for future and current science teachers. 

My grandmother a retired history/english/gifted teacher is always a great resource if I am curious about how a classroom should be ran, etc.  I also started following fellow classmates (interested in secondary education in science and social science) on twitter and blogger in order to see who they were following so I could get on the right track.  Thanks to them I have found many new websites, blogs, nings, etc. 

Delicious helps me keeps track of my ever-growing PLN, and lists (which I just stumbled upon-and loving it!) on twitter help me keep track of my inspirational teachers, 2.0 classroom twitters, science teachers, and history teachers. Delicious helps me bookmark individual blog posts or articles more so than whole blogs like Google Reader

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blog Post 12

During the semester we are all assigned teachers, some some good, some great, some amazing.  Wesley Fryer made more than a few inspirational posts this year but this was one of my favorites. Fryer created a post about Funding The Dreams of Students Through The Generation Project.  The Generation Project allows individuals to fund a certain experience for a deserving low income student or school.  Once the individual post their project on Generation Project's website, educators from around the country can apply for their students to participate in these funded projects.  The video provided gives an overview of what has and is being done.  Fryer points out that teachers are always coming in contact with low income students who have a passion but lack the means to further develop it.

I am so thankful that he posted this.  I have already posted it to my Twitter and Facebook in hopes that someone who can help, will.  I, too, was a low income student that without the help of donations from local businesses I would have never had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference at UCLA.  Hopefully, this program will continue to build so that one day I can help fund the dreams of low-income students, just as others have done for me.

Wesley Fryer has more than a few inspirational posts and he is the second 21st century learner that I intend to follow even after EDM 310.

So watch the video, get inspired, and create your own project to make a difference. 

Project 15 Book Trailer

Final Project Progress Report

I will be working with Brent Laforce on the final project and we will be focusing on the education of the future. You may be thinking "Hey, that's pretty generic", but no worries, we plan on putting our own little spin on it.  The most exciting part of the project is that it will closely resemble Dr. Miller multimedia project.  I look forward to putting his format into action with my ideas.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blog Post 11

Wow.  I can't believe it is so common for first grade level students to be commenting on and keeping up with their own blogs-somehting I had never done until edm 310 in college.  Their enthusiasm was inspiring, something I wish I had to look forward to with high schoolers but oh well. There will always be those students that will stay motivated no matter what.  It's just crazy to think about the fact that I'm not even teaching yet and all the first graders are already almost as technologically literate as I am.  By the time I'm teaching, it seems like they'll e ahead of me, which makes me think about how advanced the high schoolers I teach will be.... just food for thought.  I just know I need to keep up with technology, because I'm definitely going to need it!

Students do love an audience, as does everyone else.  Everyone does better when they know they have an audience.  Especially when they get good feed back from their audience.  I never really had all of this technology in high school, and I'm probably going to teach in that same school system so I'm hoping they've come a long way by the time I start teaching, because I think that the support system from not only your school system, and principal but also fellow teachers is very important.  I hope that all those teachers like Ms. Cassidy get programs going in their schools (against all odds) so our school systems that are a little slow can catch up, and stop holding our students back.

Teach Someone Something

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Summary Post C4T

Let me just start out by saying that the past few teachers I've been assigned to have been amazing.  Kemp has had some inspirational posts, I hope you check out his blog The Radical Tactical Shift.  

Scott Kemp

A great blog I read, Teach Paperless, issued a challenge today to, “You have been put in charge of creating a brand new education system. … This being the 21st century, you have to explain your entire concept in 21 words or less.” Here is my response:  “Learning – up front and essential. o marks, just feedback. Encouraged inquiry and problem solving. Create something original and meaningful. Be great!”

 I really don’t know if I could sum it up in 21 words, but I’ll be sure to let you know once I find the words. I love that you pointed out that education should involve creating something new and meaningful. That is probably the one definite goal that I have as a teacher. I want my students to learn to create something original and for everything that I teach to be meaningful. I don’t ever want to teach my students something just so they’ll pass a test. I want them to actually learn something.

It is always good when you are acknowledged for doing something well. But so often, we reflect very briefly on those moments. More often, we think about and remember the moments things didn’t go well. We consider learning opportunities to be the moments were we risked and failed and provided ourselves with things to work on. We focus on the failures. We focus on the mistakes. We don’t give time to the things that are successful. We are worried about talking successes for fear it will be bragging. Dan Heath, in an interview on “The Salaried Entrepreneur” says, “rather than focus on why something failed, we should focus on why something was successful. Focus on the elements that made something work.”

I know this is important to do in life, but it’s just something we always forget about. Hopefully as a teacher, I’ll remember to do this often with all of my students. As well as using this in my personal life.

Blog Post 10

Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home

I've never really thought about it but as a future teacher, I do hope that there is plenty of parental involvement. By the time I start teaching I'm sure there won't be much more need for "pencil integration" but if there is I do think that changing the mindset of those who use it only for entertainment will be a challenge. But I like how he tried to do so by showing the benefits of using it for educational reason, yet still accepting the fact that it will more than likely be used as a tool for entertainment at home. But as he said the best way to integrate it is to use it as a fun yet educational tool that can be used for learning but its so interesting that it doesn't even seem like you're learning.

An Open Letter to Educators

South Pole of the Moon

Why do I go to class? Because if I miss more than three classes, I get a B in the class.  I jot down facts as I struggle to keep my eyes open. Do I learn anything in class? No. Everything the teacher says is on the slides. Every question asked by a student is usually quickly answered so the teacher can continue reading the slides to the class. And this is a good system of educating because why? The classes I enjoy the most (and get the most out of) 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 (even though most of them don't even use their freedom for anything more than putting "interesting" picture slides in power points), 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. So when I do have a class HOPEFULLY I wont be forced to hammer the students with facts just so they can pass a test. Life is about much more than tests.