Sunday, November 30, 2014

C4T #4 Summary

For the final C4T, I was given the opportunity to choose the teacher myself.  I chose The Fischbowl, written by Karl Fisch.  
In his post from October 27, Mr. Fisch blogged about homework.  His school expects him to give the students enough homework so that they are working two hours for five days a week.  He questions where this time came from and says that there is no data that shows two hours for five days a week is the perfect amount of time to spend on homework.  There are three reasons to assign homework, Mr. Fisch says they are: the students need practice, the teachers are unable to cover the curriculum, and finally, it teaches responsibility.  I just wrote a blog the other day about homework, so this really peaked my interest.  Those are all in my 'homework pro list' from my previous blog.  Karl addresses each of these reasons in his blog.  First, homework is necessary because the students need to practice what they have learned at school that day.  The argument for this is that there is no data that shows doing homework has a substantial impact on the student's achievement in school.  Then there is the reason that teachers can't cover the curriculum; Fisch offers a simple enough solution that does not involve homework, change the curriculum.  Lastly, responsibility.  Homework teaches the children to be responsible with their time.  Again, Mr. Fisch explains there is no research to back this up.  He finishes the blog saying, "[i]f we truly believe that "data-driven" is the way to go, then the data is telling us that we need to step back and reexamine both our assumptions and our practices." 
That statement probably inspired his next post from November 12.  This blog featured a TED Talks about data and what it means.  Ultimately, "data doesn't create meaning, we do.  I encourage you to take some time and watch this video and read over what Mr. Fisch wrote about it.

Comments for Kids: November

During the month of November, I commented blogs written by Olivia, Tyler, and Richard. The three children all wrote very different blogs that followed one underlying theme, which was making a better community.  One little girl wrote about being a good citizen, a boy wrote about an invention of his, and lastly, another little boy wrote about singing.

Olivia was the first student blog I commented on in November.  At the beginning of her blog, Olivia asks the question: Would I be a good citizen?  She answered by saying, "to be a good citizen you have to try your best to help people that don't have food." Then, Olivia wrote that she and her family donate food to the local hospital.  She added that she is part of a club called Me to We; the organization collects can goods and picks up garbage to help the environment.  At the end of her blog, Olivia asks the reader: Would YOU be a good citizen?  The comment I left for Olivia told her about the volunteer work I have been involved in.  I also encouraged her to continue working in the community.  I think it is great to see kids involved with the world around them and want to make a difference.

The next week I commented on Tyler's blog which featured a project plan he had worked on.
Picture Tyler drew of De-Icer Mat
This, ladies and gentlemen is the De-Icer Mat. Tyler designed this in order to save drivers the hassle of scraping the ice of their car every morning.  Instead, he rolls out the De-Icer Mat, remote operated, that is, and wait for the ice to simply melt away! I love this idea, I hate scrapping ice off of my windshield in the freezing cold.  

Lastly, I commented on Richard's blog.  For his free write blog, Richard writes about how much he loves music.  Singing is a great way to express yourself and bring people together, he explains.  I love that Richard thinks that singing is a great way to bring people together.  I love to sing and I get really excited at gatherings when people all sing together.  Everyone really gets into the music and they can let themselves go.  Richard adds that if people all sang together then the world would be a happier place; I could not agree more.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Teaching as a Profession (Blog Post #14)

This week for EDM we read an article from the New York Times about making teaching a more respectable profession. Let me start by saying I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS BLOG POST!
In the Joel Klein's article, he says he was asked what is the one thing he would change about public schools if he could wave a magic wand and it be done.  His answer was that he would professionalize teaching.  Klein listed several aspects of the teaching profession that make it a less-respected career choice.  There are three issues with education that Klein discusses, they follow the sequence of becoming a teacher, being a teacher, and remaining a teacher.

The way prospective teachers are trained
The way teachers are recruited
The ways in which teachers are rewarded

The way prospective teachers are trained - the solution proposed by Klein is "excellence is hallmark," meaning that from the very beginning of the process to become a teacher, nothing but the best is going to be accepted. Medical students have to prove their worth before entering medical school, law students have to provide exemplary work in order to survive in their field, so why should those that want to enter the College of Education be able to do so with just getting by?  Klein says both students and teachers are benefited by setting higher standards for those that aim to become teachers.  It is upsetting to hear how much of a joke others (as well as some in the profession themselves) perceive becoming an educator is.  Furthermore, it is frightening to think of those that do not particularly care about their own education will soon be in charge of a child's education.

The way teachers are recruited - the solution proposed by Klein is built upon Albert Shanker's ideas published 30 years ago.  This solution is to not just letting anyone become a teacher.  The article explains that someone is not qualified to be a teacher just because they have a degree in the area.  Again, excellence is hallmark, so hire the best of the best in their field. Klein pulls from Shanker while discussing other solutions to the problems associated with the way teachers are recruited.  Shanker discusses a national teaching exam that would be the teaching equivalent to the Bar exam or the MCAT. This "demanding" exam along with a longer internship period for young teachers will lead to more prepared teachers with a deeper understanding of teaching methods.  Longer internships, though, would only prove to be helpful if those teaching are competent teachers themselves.  Which leads me to...

The ways in which teachers are rewarded - the solution proposed is to quit being distracted by a teacher's seniority and start focusing on the teacher's performance. The article explains how the profession has fallen into the thinking that all teachers are equally qualified for the job positions they hold.  This is, of course, not the case and through this thinking, it has become increasingly difficult to remove teachers who are not doing their job.  Shanker calls for a 'teacher police' which would establish an organization dedicated to setting standards for the profession.  This 'police force' would be able to make sure that teachers are held responsible for the product of their work, just as in any other respectable profession.

I agree with so much that Klein wrote in the New York Times and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Shanker's idea on improving the teaching world.  More often than not, I come home to my roommate, an accounting major, doing copious amounts of homework and preparing for yet another test while I make a joke about how I am learning how to find the area of a rectangle in my math class.  Not to say I do not have plenty of work for my education classes, because there is plenty of work to be done.  However, I very rarely have to apply myself in order to complete my assignments. When I took the first part of Math for Elementary School Teachers, there was a student that told the teacher a square was not a rectangle.  I have heard others in my classes having conversations and are using words such as 'ain't' and 'EXspecially' and these are who we are going to let teach our future children! Teaching is often looked down upon by other professions, but where would those in other professions be without teachers?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Homework Debate (Blog Post #13)
This week in EDM, we were to discuss a topic that had not been brought up in class so far.  I am choosing to discuss teachers assigning homework to elementary students.  I was curious to see the pros and cons of homework as well what is thought to be appropriate homework for the students.  I found a couple sources and this is the list of pros and cons I have compiled:

Applying what they have learned that day
Demonstrating proper use
Develop good study habits
Teaches time management
Connects the parent with their student
Connects the parent with the teacher

Contributes to sedentary lifestyle
Leads to stress, conflict, frustration, and exhaustion
Temptation to fib
Only boosts achievement in students that already do well
Enlarges gap between "good" students and "poor" students

The arguments both for and against homework are both pretty strong.  In the article Elementary Homework Seen as an Effective Tool of Education,  the author explains that though the children may not enjoy doing homework, there are some positive aspects of assigning the work.  He discusses researcher Harris Cooper, who wrote on the subject in 1989 and said that even if there is no direct correlation between homework and a student's test scores, doing work at home teaches the students that learning extends beyond the classroom.  The author also discusses the fact that homework teaches students time management.  Although the students are not in complete control of their schedules and there are other events in their lives, the article mentions that most elementary teachers are flexible and understanding if the parent writes them a letter explaining why little Jonny could not complete his assignment the night before.

For the other side of the argument, kids should not be expected to do homework, I read an article entitled Forget Homework. This is written by Emily Bazelon, she writes for the New York Times and she is also a mother.  She discusses three different books in her article, The Case Against Homework, The Homework Myth, and The Battle Over Homework.  She uses these three books to support her argument, which is homework is a waste of time.  There is evidence that points to homework having no effect on children's test scores and if it does, the effect slowly diminishes over time because the homework does not help to retain the information over time.  Another point that the author makes is that her son is in the classroom for six and a half hours a day already and that there is no reason for school to consume his free time as well.

After reading both of these articles, I am still torn on how I feel about assigning homework to elementary students.  One thing that both of the authors can agree upon, however, is that if a teacher is to assign homework, it needs to be reasonable and relevant.  It is hard for both authors to define "reasonable" but another source, the NEA,  discusses the 10 minute rule, which is also discussed by Harris Cooper.  This is that for kindergarten and 1st grade, the teacher should only assign 10 minutes of homework a night, and increase by ten as the child progresses through the grades.  This, in my opinion, is a very good rule of thumb and increasingly teaches the children to manage their time effectively as they are growing into more responsible adults. The homework should also be relevant, if a teacher is assigning work that has nothing to do with what they are doing in class, then the work is totally useless.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

C4T #3 Summary

I have had the pleasure to read Principal Vincentsen's blog for the past couple weeks. Our Principal's Musings is a wonderful blog. The first post I commented on provided resources for parents and teachers with children wino struggled with reading. I bookmarked this blog on my phone because it was so helpful. She listed several sites and apps that will help the children learn to read better, the resources were,, and Learning Alley. Great post! Next, I commented on a post that discussed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which featured a video. The post is actually a copy of an email she sent out to the parents of her students. It really reminded me that not that long ago citizens in our country had hearts full of hate. As a future educator, it is important to recognize differences in people and love them for it. In order to teach love and respect, one must show love and respect by their words and actions. Here is the video from the post 

Martin Luther King Tribute from CJ Walker on Vimeo.

Blog Post #12

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Blog Post #11

This week for EDM 310 we continued learning about Project Based Learning by watching another series of videos. I really enjoyed all of them but I felt like most of them were saying the same thing as other videos we have watched.  One, however, stood out to me and that is the one I chose to feature in my blog this week.
Brian Crosby explains how he got his students excited about learning in the video Back to the Future. At the beginning of this video, Crosby shows three questions that he asked his students:
  • What city do you live in? (9 out of 24 answered correctly)
  • What state do you live in? (12 out of 24 answered correctly)
  • What country do you live in? (3 out of 24 answered correctly)
I was shocked when I saw how few students got the answer to these questions correct.  Crosby goes on and asks how the children in his class are supposed to understand what he has to teach them if they do not know the basic schema of their own world around them.  When he first said this, I had to Google schema.  Schema is, as Google informed me, a representation of a plan or theory in the form of an outline or model.  So, if the students do not know the basic outline of their world, the world they are encountering first hand, how are they going to move on to understanding the layout and complexities of other aspects of life? In order to teach these basics, these schemes at hand, and be able to connect everything in the world around them, Brian Crosby uses the Project Based Learning method of teaching.  He uses blogs, Wiki pages, Flickr, and many other technological tools to get his students to think on a higher level.  All of these techniques allow the students to think about their experiment, then they are able to discuss what was happening and why it was happening with classmates and students around the world. Yes, the world! The students discuss the experiment through all of these technology driven resources and are able to reach out and share what they are doing.  An audience pressures the students to work harder; it also gives them a chance to show off what they have learned.  They are proud of their work.  Project based learning is about active learning. "Learning how to become learners," Crosby says, not learning, "how to be taught." A teacher that rushes her students through school is an ineffective teacher.  That type of teacher is doing a disservice.  He ends the video with a quote from David Cowan, it is a bit lengthy but ends with, "that type of environment shouldn't be the exception, the unearned privilege of the children of privilege parents and those lucky enough to attend a school with high test scores, that type of education is the birthright of every child." Every child deserves to experience a nurturing learning environment and that is the goal of Project Based Learning.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Comments for Kids: October

Throughout the month of October, I had the pleasure of reading four kids' blog posts.  I enjoy reading the kids' blogs the most because they show how much these children are thinking about the world around them.  It also gives a certain insight to how they feel and how motivated they are to do well.  It is being drilled into my head, from all of education classes this semester, that a teacher must know her students.  I think that teachers are gaining so much by having their students write blogs and by keeping up with these blogs. 

Week of October 5, 2014: I commented on a blog belonging to a young man named Braxton.  Braxton's assignment was to discuss a subject that should be taught in all schools. He said that he thought that there should be a Bible class in every school.  I understand the issues associated with requiring every school to have a Bible class, but Braxton wrote his blog with such passion and love for Christ and it was inspiring, to say the least.  He said that his mission in life was to tell others about God. In my comment to Braxton, I told him I had gone to a Catholic School in high school and how much I enjoyed my religion classes and how they helped me come to know myself.

Week of October 12, 2014: During this week I commented on Dimitri's blog about students having their recess taken away as a punishment.  Dimitri said that he did not think that this was fair punishment because the reason the student was acting out is probably because he has too much energy, so if the teacher were to take away his recess it would only be furthering the issue.  I agree with Dimitri, I think that recess is extremely important for both the student and the teacher because it allows the teacher to take a step back and let the kids go wild (to an extent).  In his blog, Dimitri added a link to an article he read about taking student's recess away. I tried to read it, unfortunately I was unable to find the article he posted.

Week of October 18, 2014: Last week, I commented on a boy named Samuel's blog.  Samuel posted a very informative blog with tips for creating a good password for online websites.  Here are his tips:
  •  Never reveal your password to ANYONE!
  • Always keep your password random in other words never have a password that is personal.
  • When you are typing your password in always hide it.
  • Make your password memorable for yourself but not for other people because they could hack into your account and ruin everything.
  • Make your password a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
Pretty great tips, thank you, Samuel!
Week of October 26, 2014: This week I commented on a blog written by Zane.  Zane live in New Zealand and he posted a brochure he made in his post.  The brochure was for the Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre, which is a place where people can go and view the Maori Cave drawings.  I did not know anything about these cave drawing before reading his blog, so I did some research.  They are over 550 years old! I also learned about a Maorian mythological creature that can either be a large, horrifying monster or, to some, it is a protective guardian. I thought that was pretty neat.

SmartBoard (Project #12)

Kathy Cassidy (Blog Post #10)

Kathy Cassidy is an elementary school teacher in Moose Jaw, Canada and she uses technology in her classroom.  Mrs. Cassidy uses a wide range of techniques and devices to keep the kids interested in what they are learning.  She uses blogs to help with reading and writing, as well as Wikis, Skype, and even Nintendo DSs in the classroom.  One child discussed blogging for class and he said he enjoyed that other people could see the work that he doing, another said that blogging has helped when trying to sound out words.  The Wiki pages allow the students to interact with others. They had one particular project where they were learning about traditions and rituals, the students created a Wiki and students from other areas were able to comment and discuss their own traditions and rituals.  These kids even talked to a group of students from Alabama using Wiki! Mrs. Cassidy uses Skype conversations to have the children interact with professionals in different fields. What I thought was the most interesting, though, was her use of the Nintendo DSs in the classroom.  The children play NintenDogs to help their decision making skills and they also discuss what they did individually on their game in groups.
Mrs. Cassidy began using technology in her classroom about ten years ago.  She has had a lot of time to work on and improve the way she uses certain tools. I really enjoy the many techniques Mrs. Cassidy uses to incorporate technology in the classroom, although, there are a few factors that may get in the way of the learning process.  Mainly, what the children may encounter online or what they post on the internet themselves.  There is a lot on the internet that is not suitable for children in elementary school and it can be difficult to screen for this. It is very important that the teacher be an active observer of what the children are seeing and doing.  Mrs. Cassidy said that she teaches her students how to be respectable digital citizens.  They are to be nice when they comment and just watch what they post in general.  Mrs. Cassidy added that she was not running into many problems keeping the children seeing only age appropriate materials, but the trouble came with keeping them off online games and making sure that what they were engaged in was educational material.  The distractions that come with technology are innumerable. 
Using technology in the classroom, in ways similar to Mrs. Cassidy, would help students become educated digital citizens, create deep rooted personal learning networks, and it allows them to help others.  The students are being introduced to so many new and interesting people through their blogs and Wiki pages.  The connections they make through these sites and tools allows them to grow socially and create personal learning networks that help them succeed.  In addition to having others help them succeed, the children can answer other student's questions.  This makes the student feel more confident when they are able to show off their knowledge of certain subjects.  One of the EDM students asked if Mrs. Cassidy was worried about students cheating because they are exposed to so many other student's work.  Her answer was that she was not worried and the point of using technology for learning was collaboration so it is not necessarily a bad thing that the children are using all of the sources provided to them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blog Post #9
This week's blog question is, "What can teachers and students teach us about Project Based Learning?"  In order to answer this question, Dr. Strange gave us a list of resources to check out.

First, I read an article titled Seven Essentials for Project Based Learning by John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller. The article opens with two criteria necessary for a project to be effective, which are it must be personally meaningful and the project must fulfill and educational purpose.  Then the article lists the essentials for Project Based Learning.  The seven essentials that Larmer and Mergendoller gave are:
1. A Need to Know
2. A Driving Question
3. Student Voice and Choice
4. 21st Century Skills
5. Inquiry and Innovation
6. Feedback and Revision
7. Publicly Presented Work

This list ties in directly with the next resource provided by Dr. Strange which was a video titled Project Based Learning for Teachers. Both of these resources explain how PBL turns the learning process into something more meaningful by giving students projects that are relevant to their lives.  The video explains that the Common Core State Standards answers the question WHAT students need to learn and Project Based Learning is HOW teachers should go about teaching these standards. In the video, Tony Vincent also provided the viewers with his own list.  This list, I like to call it the 4 Cs of Project Based Learning, explain the skills the children will be improving upon by using the PBL teaching method. The 4 Cs of of Project Based Learning are: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Career and Life Skills.  These are important skills for the children to be working on because they will need them in every aspect of their life from the time they start school onward.  PBL used questioning, investigating, sharing and reflecting in order to improve these skills.

Majority of the resources for Project Based Learning have given advice and lists similar to the ones above.  Sometimes it is easier to understand how effective PBL can be, not by reading the articles, lists, and such, but by hearing how the students actually carry out the projects and how they feel about their work.  That is why I chose to watch the video Two Students Solve the Case of the Watery Ketchup by Designing a New Cap. In this video, two students explain how they created a solution to a problem they face every day.  The boys discussed their project and probably did not even realize that they had gone through every one of the seven essentials of Project Based Learning (well maybe not #6).  1. They had a need to know because when they use ketchup and they watery juice comes out at first it is a problem.  2. They had a driving question of why does this happen and how can we stop it from happening? 3. The two students had a voice and choice because the project was relevant to them.  4. They were able to use 21st Century devices such as CAD (computer aided design) and a 3D printer to create a new top for the ketchup bottles. 5. Obviously there was inquiry and innovation all throughout their creative process.  The two had to figure out what was causing the watery ketchup in order to design a new cap for it.  6.  Feedback and revision were not really discussed in the video, but they probably did not get the perfect cap on the first try.  Lastly, 7. the boys created the video I watched in order to present their work publicly.

In order to create effect projects for the students, it is necessary for the teacher to know what motivates her students.  PBL: What Motivates Students Today is an excellent video to gain insight to what the children are thinking about while they are working.  The first student said he enjoys when the teacher congratulates him on his good work.  This ties into PBL because at the end of the project, students are able to show off their work to other students and have them enjoy and applaud their work.  This also pushes the children to have higher quality work because they know not just the teacher will be viewing their project.  Another student said she was motivated by the image she had of her future.  She wants to be successful and have a family and that is what makes her want to do well in school.  As mentioned in the 4 Cs, Career and Life Skills are greatly improved upon by using the Project Based Learning method of teaching.  Other students said they were motivated by positive reinforcements such as food or prizes, while another mentioned the negative reinforcement of being grounded.  In order for him to be able to play sports or go swimming, he had to do well in school.  There are many ways that students are motivated and is the teachers job to figure out what motivates each one of the students and use it to teach effectively.

The last video I watched is called the Wing Project: Crafting a Driving Question.  A driving question is number two on the list of essentials for Project Based Learning.  Good Project Based Learning teachers are teachers that can pose quality driving questions.  One man in the video said, "[a] a good driving question sets up a process of inquiry the students are interested in, and guides them towards how they're going to the work and what kind of work they are going to have to produce in order to answer the question."  Recently, in a few of my education classes (including EDM 310), we have started learning how to write lesson plans and it is important to include a driving question in the plan.  Sometimes it is difficult to word exactly what one wants students to learn, but if the teacher uses what she knows about what motivates her students, it should get easier as it goes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Project #14
This week, my EDM 310 group created a lesson plan for a 3rd grade English class! The lesson is to help the students better understand the main components of a story and use their imagination and creativity to create a story of their own.  The lesson for this is in the Project Based Learning Format where the students will be put into groups in order to create a story using! Check out our Google Site to see the lesson plan, calendar, checklist, and rubrics for this project.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Special Assignment, my name is Ellen Dunn and I have been addicted to my cell phone for about eight years now.  I got my first cell phone when I was 12 because my mom found it easier for all the kids to have cell phones rather than a house phone.  It fit our busy schedule and we were always able to contact her or my dad.  And my first phone did have a camera on it.  Freshman year of high school, I go the Envy 2, the one with the full keyboard.  The full keyboard was just awesome for this. That is when I became a texting fiend.  I got my first smart phone my junior year, all my friends had one before me, so boy was I pumped!  I had the Samsung Fascinate and I had access to all my social media sites through the apps.  I got in trouble more than once for texting in class, but I still did it.  I rarely payed attention because I was ALWAYS one my phone. I still have a problem with being on my phone in my classes.  It is extremely distracting and I will catch myself out at dinner with a group and I am still just always on my phone.
The statistics Dr. Strange posted to the blog for this assignment were not at all shocking to me.  Here is what he posted:
 A recent study by Zogby Analytics reports several interesting findings regarding young people aged 18 - 24:

1. 87% say their smartphone never leaves their side.
2. 80% say the very first thing they do in the morning is reach for their smartphone.
3. 78% say they spend 2 or more hours per day using their smartphone.
4. 68% say they would prefer to use their smartphone instead of their laptop or personal computer for personal use.
5. 91% say that having a camera on their smartphone is important (61% very important)
6. 87% say they use their smartphone camera at least weekly. 59% use their smartphone camera at least every other day. 44% use their smartphone camera for still or motion picture taking every day.
I'm all for students using iPads in the classroom but I think that phones are a little harder to integrate because I think they are more distracting than the iPads. Plus, on the iPads, there are ways to keep kids locked into certain apps.

However, there could be some interesting ways to have children use cell phones for learning. They could use phones for:
  • Dictionaries
  • Research
  • Taking pictures of real life examples of what they are learning about in class
  • Educational games and apps
  • Notes
  • Recording lessons
Having the cell phones would help students become better learners if they can stay focused.  I also think that it is good for the children to be introduced to cell phones and how to use the properly and responsibly.

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

I found Randy Pausch's Last Lecture extremely inspiring.  He had a lot to offer about teaching and learning.  Pausch used his humor and life lessons to explain how he chased his childhood dreams then went on to enable others to chase their own dreams.  There were a few topics that really stood out to me in his lecture about chasing dreams; they were have something to bring to the table, fundamentals, head fakes.
In the beginning of the video Pausch said always have something to bring to the table.  This really stood out to me, especially with the past few assignments in EDM 310 being group work.  I use to dread doing group work because not every one brought something to the table and more often than not I did most of the work.  Recently, my EDM group has showed me that group work does not have to be such a nightmare when everyone does their part. This ties into the next point made in the video: fundamentals.  Pausch told a story about his first football coach not bringing a football to their practice.  The anecdote went a little something like this (I'm paraphrasing): the first day of practice, my coach showed up and he did not bring a football to the practice. Everyone was really confused and we were asking how we were going to learn to play football with no ball.  My coach asked, "how many players on the football field at one time?" The answer being 22, then he asked, "how many players have the ball at any given time?" The answer to that question was one.  Then he told us, "today we will focus on the other 21 players knowing what they are doing."
I think this is a great lesson, first, because I really love football, second, because the ball carrier cannot do his job well if those without the ball do not know how to do their job properly.  From here, Pausch explained that having kids learn to play football is not actually about playing football at all.  It is what he calls a head fake.  A head fake is when the point of teaching something fun or exciting to kids is actually teaching them harder lessons.  The lesson in football being working together and socializing the children.  This is important in the classroom.  A teacher must find ways to teach the kids that capture their interest, that has relevance to their lives outside of the classroom.  
Pausch taught me about teaching and learning through these three topics.  In teaching and learning, one must always have something to bring to the table.  Teaching and learning require putting effort into one's work.  It is valuable to explain that everyone has something to offer if they put in the time and effort.  Teaching and learning also require fundamentals.  It is difficult for one to continue on with his education or aide another is his education without having the necessary fundamentals.  Lastly, by using head fakes, the teacher can teach students new and difficult tasks by making them think they are learning something else.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We All Become Learners

Until recently, I always thought it was a little ridiculous for younger students to be working with iPads, Mac books, and other forms of technology in the classroom. What does a first grader need with an iPad, right? Wrong. The world is changing, technology is constantly evolving and updating and those that wish to be relevant to the future of society need to be able to keep up. In EDM 310, we, as college students, are doing very similar projects as some elementary school classes are doing in the area around us. No, we aren't behind and no, they aren't super technologically advanced; we just did not have the same resources available to us when we were children in elementary school. It does mean, though, that we will have to work harder to get a hang of the technology we will be using in the classroom because the children do have such a wonderful grasp on the technology they use in the classroom.

The videos this week were a series of teachers explaining different ways in which they incorporate technology in their classroom.  The first staring Michele Bennett showing how to make a QR code online. She said that children offer use the recordings they turn into QR codes to help them learn to read. I think this is a fabulous idea, and the kids can even make their own QR codes because it is so simple. 
The next few videos feature Ginger Tuck. She discussed using iPads in the reading centers as well as using Poplet and AVL. The children use the iPads to record themselves reading then listen to the recording to check for mistakes. I really like the use of iPads in teaching children to read. My nephew told me this weekend about how at his school they use iPads to listen to books and how much he enjoys using them. Next Tuck explains Poplet. Poplet is an app that allows the children to create a web of information about the book they are reading. Lastly, Ginger Tuck talks about the way her kindergarteners learn using AVL. AVL stands for Alabama Virtual Library, this is a place where children can use a kid's friendly search engine to do research. The links that show up when a child searching for something have videos most of the time and audio so that the child can learn about different, she says, ways of transportation, for example. 
Next, I learned about Discovery Education Board Builder, from Tammy Shirley. This is another tool that helps improve children's reading and writing skills. They can also write their own stories and search for pictures or videos using the Discovery Ed database. I think it is really important for the kids to learn how to do their own research because it is something they will be doing their whole life. 
After watching videos about Discovery Education, I watched a couple of videos with Mrs. Tassin. In the first, she had two boys show off a board they had made online about whales after they took a 'virtual field trip'. The boys also explained to the viewers how they did their own research for the board! The next video, Mrs. Tassin showed off a group of girl that had used board builder. Their board convinced their audience to save their loose change for The Haven, which is an animal shelter. Mrs. Tassin again asked the students to share the resources they used in making the board. These projects not only allow children to use technology and conduct research, it also allows them to share the sites they find useful with one another, further broadening their concept what they know the Internet to be. 
Lastly, I watched Dr. Strange has a conversation with Michele Bennett and Elizabeth Davis. The theme of the video is that we all become learners. "It's teachers teaching students, and it's students teaching students, and it's students teaching [teachers]," Michele Bennett explains. This is just a reiteration of basically everything in EDM, everyone is a learner. And also everyone is a teacher. I expect to learn so much from my students when I become a teacher. I really enjoy the dynamics of everyone, including the teacher, learning in a classroom. It provides an atmosphere that encourages asking questions and finding things out and, to me, that's exciting.

PBL: Real World Application (Project #9)

Monday, September 29, 2014

3rd Grade PBL Lesson

My EDM 310 group designed a lesson using the Project Based Learning format.  We decided to teach a third grade class about natural disasters.  In order to teach the students about natural disasters, we created a project that engaged the students in the learning process through individual and group research as well explained the real world application of their activity.  The project has the students use technology in order to describe a specific natural disaster, explain the cause and warning signs of the disaster, then create and demonstrate a safety plan.  Here is our lesson plan, calendar, checklist, and two rubrics (group project and individual assessment) describing the project and how the students will be graded.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Comments for Kids

The first week of commenting on kids' blogs, I was assigned Kaycee.  Kaycee is a year 8 student from New Zealand.  She uploaded a video to her blog.  It was a music video to the Michael Jackson song They Really Don't Care About Us.  It was really well done and I enjoyed watching it. Check it out!

The second week of commenting on kids' blogs I read Soha's blog. Soha is a fifth grade student from Ontario. Her blog post was about mathematicians. This is her post: "Hello my name is soha and today I will be telling you what I am learning about in math and somethings I dont like about math. so I am going to tell you a bout some strategies that I have learned to use in math . so you can act the problem out also ,you can use pictures to show your thinking"
In my comment, I told Soha that it was especially important to draw pictures of her math problems. Using visuals always helps me when doing math and I think it is a great skill for children to learn.

This week, I commented on Carter's blog for my C4K. Carter is in the fourth grade in Iowa. The kids were to post a blog about one thing they would change about their school. Carter thought that his school should have recess for every grade at his school and not just the younger grades. He explained that recess was a fun and healthy way for the kids to take a break. I agree with Carter, recess is a good way for the kids to take a break and get out excess energy during a long school day.

A Spledid Friend Indeed

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Conversations with Athony Capps
This week for EDM 310, the class watched several conversations between Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps.  Anthony Capps is a  "former student in EDM 310, former lab professional in EDM 310, now a 3rd grade teacher at Baldwin County Elementary School in Gulf Shores, and also a really good friend of [Dr. Strange] and EDM 310." Application of project based learning in elementary school was the overlying message of the conversations between Dr. Strange and Anthony; however, there was much more to these conversations than just simply explaining PBL.  In the first two videos, Capps discussed his own usage of PBL; the third and fourth video described two resources Anthony uses to enhance this teaching method; finally, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh videos, Dr. Strange and Anthony gave the viewers a few more tips on how to use PBL effectively in a classroom.  I learned even more about project based learning, I was also introduced to iCurio and Discovery Education from these videos.

In the first two videos I learned even more about project based learning from Anthony Capps.  Capps talked about his application of PBL in his own classroom, as well as gave the viewers some general guidelines for using project based learning.  One example Anthony gave in part two of the PBL conversations of his application particularly interested me.  His students completed a project in which they broke down a story into six scenes, like a comic strip, he said.  After they had the story organized into six scenes, the students were to think about the story in various contexts such as what would happen to the story if one scene were missing or if the scenes were in a different order.  They also had to decide which scene was the most important and choose three scenes that could stand alone and still tell the same story.  Anthony Capps did not just ask the students closed ended, boring questions about the story the children read.  He invited him the kids to dive deeper into the subject matter through the use of open ended questions and this allowed them to become more involved in the subject matter.  That is why this is an excellent utilization of project based learning.

Videos three and four describe two resources Anthony Capps uses to enhance the PBL teaching method in his classroom.  These resources are iCurio and Discovery Education. The first allows students to 1. safely search websites, 2. store information they may need or find interesting, and 3. use a directory to find specific information.  iCurio is a search engine that gives children access to websites that the teacher has currated (hence the name).  This give children the opportunity to conduct research without the teacher worrying that they may stumble upon information unsuitable for children.  This is incredibly important because there is just so much on the internet that is not appropriate for children in elementary school.  iCurio also provides storage space for the children to save the information the children come across.  Anthony explains this feature is helpful for the students to transition quickly. They can save their work easily, go on to another activity, then pick up right where they left off with little delay.  Lastly, iCurio has a directory that the children can use.  Capps enjoys this feature because sometimes the children are uncertain of exactly what they are searching for.  It allows them to put their feelers out for a new and exciting topic.  The other resource that Anthony Capps uses in his classroom is Discovery Education.  Discovery Ed has online textbooks and audiobooks as well as visuals for the children.  During this video, Dr. Strange says that children are moving from being readers and writers while learning to listeners and watchers. I would agree with Dr. Strange here; however, Anthony argues that the children really enjoy both.  He explains that the children like Discovery Ed because it has visual and audio qualities that enhances the children's learning.

Finally, the last three videos EDM 310 students watched this week left them with a few handy tips for applying project based learning in their own classroom when they get there. In The Anthony - Strange list of Tips for Teachers, Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps go back and forth creating a list of tips.  The list consists of five key components of using project based learning well.  The list is:
1. You must be interested in learning yourself.
2. Teaching is hard - work should not be separated from play, teaching is your hobby.
3. You must be creative and flexible.
4. You must start developing lessons with an end in mind.
5. Reflect upon what you have done, what works, and what does not work.
Dr. Strange and Anthony also give tips on how to 'teach' the children how to use technology in the video Use Technology, Don't Teach It. The two explain that children will pick up on how to use the technology in front of them if the teacher just gives them the opportunity to use it.  Practicing with technology is how children become technologically literate, not through a specific course or lesson.  They also mentioned that the students will probably be able to use the technology better than their teacher and that is normal.  Mrs. Holland, my EDU 330 professor said that if you don't know how to use a device, ask a child to show you.  I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but that tip has really stuck with me as I am venturing deeper and deeper into EDM 310.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Breaking Education Barriers Blog (C4T #2)

For C4T #2 Post 1 I read: Feedback: Lessons from the Ball Field from the Breaking Education Barriers blog.  In this post, the author compared a coach and a teacher.  As one might assume, the two are very similar in many ways.  The blog focused particularly on feedback.  The author used a list format in order to compare the two.  First, feedback on the field then what that equated to in the classroom. 
Her first point stated that good feedback is specific and directed toward one player. I definitely agree with this.  Feedback must be specific in order to be effective.  A teacher needs to take the time to give student's explanations on an individual level.  If the teacher just gives the students test scores then she is missing out getting to know her students and the children are missing out on the opportunity to correct what they are doing wrong.  Secondly, the author of this blog discussed praise on the ball field and in the classroom.  She explained that, while the praise boosted both the player and the student's ego, it did not do much to help the child improve.  She says the teacher should give praise in the classroom, but to not mix praise and feedback. Lastly, the author explains that good feedback on the ball field was not given at the end of the season.  She says that the best feedback is formative assessment.  This is a type of assessment that is given to the player or student as he is learning the task or material at hand.  This summer, I was reading with my nephew and in order for him to really get something out of the book we were reading, I had to stop and ask questions to make sure he was understanding what was going on.  This type of feedback also reminds me of the Asking The Right Questions post that I wrote last week.  It's not enough to teach a lesson and say "Is that clear?" at the end.
Feedback: Lessons from the Ball Field taught me a lot about giving good feedback by comparing coaching and teaching.  I definitely recommend future educators to read this blog!
For my second post on the Breaking Education Barriers Blog, I read and commented on a post titled Impacting Students a Book at a Time.  I really enjoyed what this post had to offer.  The opening line of the post asked, "What impacts student's achievements?"  I was immediately interested in what the author had to say because part of wanting to become a teacher is wanting to see your students achieve a great deal.  Her answer to this question was that reading seriously impacts a student's achievements.  She said, "exhibiting the love of reading and exposing them to adventures and lessons that lie within the pages of a book" reaches the students like nothing else can.  She even mentioned that by showing her own enthusiasm about reading, the kids, too, get excited and they ask each other about what they are reading.  Not only close ended questions, she explains, but critical thinking questions that motivate the children to read even more.  Recently, I have been seriously questioning how good of a teacher I will be solely on the fact that I do not read that much.  It is something that has bothered me lately because I think of how much I did enjoy reading as an elementary student.  This blog post has definitely given me something to think about.

Personal Learning Networks teaching, as in any other profession, networking is imperative to succeed.  To network is to "interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career," (as defined by Google).  The education world is constantly changing and adapting to challenges and educators must keep up.  One way to keep up with the ever changing profession we chose, is through Personal Learning Networks.  One way to create your very own PLN is by interacting with people around you in class or the schools where you observe.  Another way to create a PLN is through online social networks, such as Blogger, Facebook, or Twitter., I especially enjoy the Twitterverse.  Twitter is my favorite way of networking because there is a limit to how many characters that can be in a tweet.  This allows the user to scroll through and catch a quick glimpse of a wide variety of information.  Tweets often include links to blogs, videos, or online articles.  The tweet itself provides the user a short summary of what he will read or watch if clicking on the link.  Another nifty thing about Twitter is picking and choosing who you want to follow.  I have had a Twitter since 2009, but just recently I created a new account specifically for educational purposes.  A few accounts I decided to follow include Education Nation (@educationnation), Edutopia (@edutopia), US News Education (@usnewseducation), and EDM310 (@edm310_usa).  These accounts provide interesting reading material and tips for educators all over the globe.  Twitter is also handy because the user can find more people to follow through who he follows already.

Project #3

Project #7

Friday, September 19, 2014

C4T #1

For my first C4T, I read David Warlick's blog post titled Our Greatest Missed Opportunity? In this post Warlick discussed an article that described a project done in the 1980s at Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina. I read the article and it was indeed interesting.  The article was about a project Chapel Hill-Carrboro began in the 1980s.  This project was to teach the students how to use computers and become technologically literate.  The students created their own curriculum and made all of the decisions regarding the class.  This article also discussed how much technology should be allowed in the classroom, a debate that is still heavily discussed today.  The article was insightful and I do think that Warlick could very well argue this was a great missed opportunity.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Search Engines

Wolfram Alpha is described as a computational knowledge engine.  This search engine uses "built-in data, algorithms, and methods" in order to find what is being searched for.  Instead of providing the user with a list of sources or webpages, it gives the answer being searched for flat out.  For example, I searched 2x/(x^2+x) and in return I got the input, result, plots on a graph, domain, range, and a few other sections of notes about the polynomial.  I had a lot of fun typing equations into Wolfram Alpha! This search engine is handy for specific questions rather than general research. took a tour of the site and I think it is a lot like Google.  One can use a stopwatch feature, define words, search for webpages, and much more.  The selling point for Duck Duck Go is that it does not track their users.  This gives users a better sense of security when surfing the internet.  The site can also be customized to the user's location and language preferences.  One thing I really enjoyed about Duck Duck Go is the !Bang feature.  The user can type and exclamation point then any website followed by keywords and it will directly search the site he typed in.  Try it out!
3. ChaCha
ChaCha describes themselves as a "free mobile Q&A service in the U.S. enabling advertisers and marketers to reach and engage their consumers in real time."  It is a search in which the users ask direct questions rather than using keyword searches.  Also, users are able to text ChaCha directly.  Before my friends and I had smart phones, we would text ChaCha in order to get quick answers without using a computer.  "Ask ChaCha" was a popular phrase around my group of friends.  Bing
Bing is owned by Microsoft and is advertised as a "decision enigine" that "puts the world's information at your fingertips".  Bing uses the users location, social media profiles, and other tools to further customize searches.  It is also very similar to Google in that it does calculations, defines words, translates words, and does conversions. 

5. WebMD
WebMD is a medical search engine.  It will allow users to input symptoms and retrieve a list of possible illnesses.  This search engine is also useful if you are looking for a doctor or specialist as well as provides health news.  I, being the hypochondriac I am, try to steer clear of using WebMD; however, it is extremely useful for those who need a quick glance of what their illness may be.  WebMD says they "provide credible information, supportive communities, and in depth reference material about health subjects that matter."

6. Ask says, "[o]ur mission is to get our millions of users across the globe the answers they need."  The website has a section called The Know.  In The Know there are trivial questions, fun facts, Big Questions, and did you knows.  It is interesting to see all the different areas of the Ask website, though it is a bit annoying to use.  There are a lot of adds on Ask and the websites found are not always the best sources.  One upside, though, is when the user searches it provides them with a list of related sites, related FAQs, and a blurb about what the user had just searched for.  Zillow
Zillow is a search engine used by those in the housing market.  They say that their mission is "to empower consumers with information and tools to make smart decisions about houses, real estate, and mortgages."  On this search engine, the user can look for houses to buy and rent, as well as get connected with realtors.  It also provides information about mortgages and home design.  Zillow is an excellent place to start if one is not sure what exactly is going on in the housing world.  The name Zillow comes from the "zillions of data points" it provides and the fact that one's home is where they lay their head down on a pillow (ZILLions + pillOW = Zillow).  Yahoo
Yahoo is extremely similar to Google.  The user can set up an email account through this website as well as search webpages, share pictures, and checking sports scores and stock market quotes.  One thing I enjoy about Yahoo is that it is so similar to Google because it makes it easier to use if the user can already use Google well.  The website, however, seems very cluttered to me, that is why it is not my first choice in search engines.

Asking the Right Questions
In the classroom, one important theme is interaction. Interaction is necessary for learning.  One way teachers interact with with their students is through asking questions.  Questions not only relay to the teacher what the students are learning or understanding, but also expand the children's minds.  Dr. Strange provided his students with many sources to learn how to ask the right questions.  After reading the articles and watching a couple of videos, there were five main tips for asking questions.
These tips are:
1. After asking a question, wait before calling upon a student
2. Randomly chose students to answers
3. Prepare and revise the questions that are asked
4. Ask open ended questions
5. Create an accepting atmosphere in the classroom

All of these tips are essential for asking the right questions; however, I payed special attention to preparing and revising questions and asking open ended questions.  First, preparing and revising questions is vital to improving the learning experience.  Maryellen Weimer wrote Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom; in this article she describes how she has improved her questions in the classroom.  She tells the reader that when she first started teaching she did not realize the importance of preparing the questions she would ask.  Some may think that the perfect questions will just come to them in the moment.  This is a poor way to go about asking questions.  Weimer explains to her readers that if the teacher just asks questions off the top of his head it could come out as jumbled thoughts.  Poor question planning will only confuse the students rather than helping them understand the material being presented.  This hinders the learning experience.  In addition to preparing questions, a teacher must revise the questions he is asking.  Reflection and revision will clear up any ambiguity in the question, as well as weed out the crummy questions that the teacher had prepared.  Asking questions is like writing a good essay.  A well written essay is not just thrown together in the moment it is due.  It begins with an outline (this is the preparation stage), then body paragraphs are formed, then the essay is revised, draft after draft (the revision process).  My sociology professor Dr. Freed taught me the importance of writing in drafts.  One day in class he brought in a piece of writing he had been working on.  It was covered in red ink corrections and this was draft number 25! Nothing is ever perfect; sometimes, it takes stepping away and coming back to your writing many, many times before it says what the author wants it to say.  Lastly, while reflecting upon questions that have been asked, the teacher may fancy a question that a student has asked.  The teacher may then use the question as an example in the next class.

Secondly, asking open ended, or divergent, questions is a great way to open the student's minds.  Many times teachers get into the habit of asking only convergent questions.  Convergent questions are those in which there is a specific answer (yes, no, names, dates, etc.).  For example, who created the Anglican Church?  This something that is important to know, but it does not require the student to delve deeper into the subject matter.  Instead, the teacher may ask "Do you agree with the reasons as to why King Henry VIII started the Anglican Church?"  This is a divergent question.  Divergent questions require more thinking on the student's part.  There is no concrete correct answer, more than a yes or no question.  A video by Thoughtful Classroom demonstrates that open ended questions help the children in four areas: mastery, understanding, self expression, and interpersonal thinking.  The video gives tips on how to ask divergent questions more effectively through several techniques.  Some of these techniques are Think, Pair, Share, using a learning log, drawing pictures, and again waiting after asking questions and the random calling upon a student.  Randomly calling on children is an important part of asking questions because it gives every student a chance to respond to the teacher and interaction is an essential part to the learning experience.