EDM 310 Class Blog

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Comments 4 Kids Assignment Summary

Miss Helen King's class at Pt. England School is grades 4 to 5, room 13. They are from Auckland, New Zealand. The student whose blog I was assigned to comment on was Josephine. Her posts were about Cinderella, Baseball, and her class getting Netbooks. I commented on her post about the day her class received the Netbooks, but she has not commented back. I was also assigned to comment on Carlos' Blog, but he did not post anything in time for me to comment on it.
I think the blogging project is good for kids when they participate because they are able to do not only educational activities but talk about their personal lives as well. This is like having a journal that is published. It allows them to practice writing, editing, and communication skills in order to write a blog that the world will view.
You can view Miss King's Class Blog here:

Blog Post #6

1. The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler
Picture this: a student who is part of a blended class (partial lecture class and partial online participation), has no textbook, has a teacher who rarely lectures, and creates his own Personal Learning Network (or PLN) to help with his assignments. This PLN consists of his school library's website, his own blog, Google Scholar, Google Reader, selected social bookmarking sites, blogs written by other people on topics he is studying, iTunes U podcasts, lectures by acclaimed professors,documentaries, and so much more.
This student actually models many modern students. Actually, this student models most of us in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class! So, peronally, I found this quite relevant.

The student in the video saved a lot of money on their textbook! Because they made their own aid to learning.
But with all this, what does having a teacher help with? How is the teacher still useful?
First off, the student did not think of doing all of this on their own. It was their teacher who encouraged them to gather all this information together, led them through the steps of sorting all this out, and already had some experience with which to lead them. In the video, the narrator mentions the different titles for a teacher in this situation. Some of them include:
Learning Architect
Learning Concierge
Network Sherpa

A teacher would be a modeler because they lead by example, like how best to communicate, how to communicate in a way that is respectful of others, how communication can be used to supplement learning processes, things like that. How to use communication tools is a neccessity, but understanding what comes out of it is just as neccessary and probably that much more difficult.
For example, which information is useful? Which is propaganda? A teacher helps develop the skill of information management. Teachers have done this before, only now, there is easier access to so much more information, which only makes managing it that much harder.

Teachers also encourage students to make contacts: family, friends, classmates, professors, experts, professionals, schools, students, etc. All of the blogging and tweeting we have done in this class is an example of this. By putting ourselves out there, marketing the skills we are learning, our educational philosophy, and our passion for teaching, we are making ourselves available to opportunities for the future. I strive to do my best with my blog and related projects so that I can be proud of it, and also so that others in my field can see it also.

I think that I will be prepared to be the teacher of a networked student because I am now a networked student myself! I know what it is like encountering new resources, programs, software, etc. that I shied away from before. The usefulness of technology in education is something that is becoming increasingly relevant to me.  Taking that a step further, it is not only becoming more and more relevant to me, I am also learning how to make it relevant to my students.

2. A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (PLN)
Paperless Science Class? That is just radical. That would never work. That goes against traditional conventions! I don't think I want to hear any more of this foolishness and nonsense.

These are some of the responses I could imagine from the skeptics, the cynics, those who are never okay with change, and are content with things the way they are, whether they work or not.
To convince them, they would need to listen to an actual student. The student who created this video uses a Personal Learning Environment that is self-created and teacher-guided. She is able to do all of the same things students would do in a normal class setting, just in a different way.
She still keeps notes, makes posters, researches material covered in class, and writes scientific reports, only...she does it in a way that she enjoys what she is learning.  She does it through fun projects that make it memorable.  She remembers all her fun projects and exactly what they were about because she created them herself; her teacher did not supply them to her and tell her about them.
She does all these things using note-taking and note-tracking software, Glogster, YouTube, Gmail, Symbaloo, Skype, etc. She is also able to create presentations and also to have scientists and professionals review her work.  It would also be easy for her parents to view and keep up with what assignments she is posting.

The plus side to all of this is that it gives students freedom.
Hogwash! That's completely ridiculous! If you give students freedom they'll turn in assignments late, copy each other's work, offer their opinion, and text in class. What a terrible idea!
Wrong again.
The networked student in the video stated that having more freedom drives her to be more responsible. That's what we need! Students who take responsibility for their work. By using resources to make classroom projects "cool" students will want to do them, and by allowing them the freedom to decide how to complete said projects, and where, and when, they will do them.

3. Michael Staton, "Why SMART Boards Are a Dumb Initiative"; Bill Ferriter, "Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards".
Why are SMART Boards a dumb initiative? Why do some people hate interactive white boards?  Don't you think the words "dumb" and "hate" are a little too strong? Well....
Traditional classrooms have, for years, consisted of students glued to their desks, with their teacher standing in the front of the classroom lecturing, performing their dog-and-pony show, trying (and sometimes failing) to keep their students' attention.

Modern classrooms should not look like this, not with all that we know and with all the resources we have talked about that can be made very useful for the classroom.  Students can be seated at different stations using different forms of technology and internet services to meet their varying learning needs.  They can be using iPads, iPods, iTunesU and so much more to complete their assignments...with their teacher's help of course.
SMART Boards, although seen by many in the educational community, and even parents, as a greatly useful tool in advancing classrooms into the modern era, do not allow for interactive, student-centered learning. Bill Ferriter calls them "tools that do little to promote independent discovery and collaborative work".
Students are more in control of their own learning when they have their own Personal Learning Network, when they can choose how best to model what they are learning.  Learning how to demonstrate their knowledge will help them so much more than any standardized test.
SMART Boards alone do not aid education.  I believe that SMART Boards can be useful to allow students to show their own presentation to the rest of the class, to watch videos, come to the front of the class to solve math problems using some of its functions (like they used to on a chalkboard), things like that.  Having a teacher stand in front of everyone to lecture, using the same methods as before, only with the touch screen element thrown in, solves....nothing.
When I spent my observation hours at an Elementary school, the students in my kindergarten class were invited to come to the board to solve problems with shapes, numbers, letters, etc. instead of being told about them.  They could show what they knew.

However, SMART Boards are too expensive to buy for every classroom to only be used in moderation. Even though, to me, this is the most effective way to use interactive white boards, it is not the most cost effective way to improve classroom methods or resources.

I actually found a blogsite called SMART Board Revolution: A Revolution in Education.  It is a site for educators who are users of SMART Boards to communicate with one another and share feedback on usage, lesson plans, solutions, and breakthroughs.  The site also features notifications for training events using the technology.  All of the users of this site are very into their SMART Boards and finding ways to improve their usefulness.  Although there are a few gripers, most of the bloggers on this site are enjoying making the best of their SMART Board Lessons and offering their acquired knowledge to other educators/users.
I think the difference in opinion on blogs can be attributed to differences in personality.  Those who do not like SMART Board are probably more sensible, conservative, and money conscious.  Those who are for the use of these products were probably supplied them by their school district and might not have had any choice in the matter, while others said that they were very excited to get theirs for their classroom.  I think there are other, cheaper, simpler, more user friendly products, methods, and programs that can be used in the classroom other than SMART Boards.  We have to remember that the important thing is that children are getting involved in their education, and although you cannot put a price on that, sometimes funds are limited.  We have to make the most of available resources to accomplish this goal.
Click the link to read the SMART Board Revolution blogsite:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Learning Differences

"I Can't Do This But I CAN Do That: A Film For Families About Learning Differences"
HBO is featuring a film for families about students with learning differences. I was watching Stuart Little 2 today, and when it went off, I saw the trailer for this and thought it seemed like an excellent idea for a documentary. It features kids from across America who, at one point or another, felt like they could not do something. Some of them were made to feel this way. All of these kids and their families overcame learning differences by learning what they could do and focusing on the positive instead of letting their difficulty hold them back. I do not like the term "learning disability", because most of the time, kids are not "disabled"; their brain just works a little differently. I liked that HBO used the term "learning differences" in the title. Their learning process may take a different approach, but these kids will learn the material.
Watch the trailer to see more about the documentary.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blog Post #5

For Blog Post #5, we were assigned a list of blogs and sites to choose from to write about.
1. Judy Scharf's Podcast Collection
Ok, so to be perfectly honest, I have never really paid attention to podcasts.  I was not sure what they were, where they came from, or how they were made; and was kind of apprehensive to find out.  Essentially, they were...mayonnaise.
But that is exactly what Dr. Strange's class is all about; finding out things we did not know before that we can use later on to advance our classrooms technologically.  There is no need for "mayonnaise" technology when we can easily find out about it and see that they are more than that.  There is no need to fear the mayonnaise!
Let me direct your attention to.....
Judy Scharf's Podcast Collection!
If you are, like me, sort of viewing podcasts in the "mayonnaise" sense as I described, you will need to stop, take a couple of minutes, and read what she has to say.  It is informative and instructional and you will find out a lot. You will find out, as I did, that podcasts aren't "mayonnaise" technology at all! Oh no!
It's radio for the 21st century.
That's what it is.
By reading her podcast collection, you will learn how to approach a podcast as an educator.  One of the things I recognized right away that I could definitely implement as a teacher was the "Tips to Succeed".  I appreciated how it was not just instructional, she actually listed the best ways to structure a lesson using podcasts, like "give students a list of topics", "let students pick the people they want to work with", and "include a list of criteria for research."  As a beginner and an amateur educator these would not be classroom management ideas that I would neccessarily know, and to have someone who has already tested the waters point them out is very helpful.
And she has more to go off of than just the Tips to Succeed, she has a suggested time schedule, and a list of suggested topics.  I also found the grading sheet and the rubrik useful as well.  Things like this would save a lot of time and energy for a first year teacher who will already be working hard, learning as she goes along!
 I have just made my first podcast, so I have just somewhat gracefully lept over one hurdle.  I now how to make one, AND how best to use incorporate into classroom time.

2. Langwitches Blog: The Magic of Learning
The post I enjoyed most, "Documenting...Lesson on Perspective...Podcasting...Glogging..." by Silvia Tolisano is all about her experience collaborating with her school's Language Arts Teacher to accomplish the goal of uniting technology, student narration, short stories, and the teacher's lesson.  I would like to add that it turned out splendidly. (That is a fact, not an opinion, I might also like to add.)
Tolisano had high hopes for this collaborative project.  She hoped that whatever results came out of it, they could be shared on her school's blog, Ning, and the Langwitches blog.
She uses the Mac software Garage Band in her 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes to create a podcast that demonstrates the lesson concept of Author's Point of View.  She assigned them to create a podcast that retold a story from the point of view of another character or even an inanimate object.  But first, she allowed them to brainstorm on job responsibilities and choose who would perform them.  They came up with things like project manager, sound manager, and character coach.  They also constructed their own rubric for the project:

I like this idea because the students work with their teacher to know exactly what is expected of them on this project. I am not sure if this would work better or worse in a high school classroom, but I think I would like to try this in my own classroom.  The idea of having students actively engaged in not just the project but their role in it and understanding what is expected of them beforehand seems like something worth implementing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Have YOU ever checked out Glogster? If not, maybe this will inspire you to!

Project 9A: Personal Timeline

This timeline encompasses my parents marriage all the way until the present.
Some events include: my being the cutest baby ever, my brother being the good kid of the family, my decision to be a teacher, and my trip to Europe.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Project 6 "This Is My Sentence" Video

Blog Post #4

1. Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please? by Scott McLeod
Scott McLeod's blog post entitled "Dont Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?" is written more in the form of a free-write or  poem than the usual blog post, which seems to usually appear in paragraph form.  In this post, he presents the arguments many people have made against the use of technology in education.
What inspired Mr. McLeod's post?
Scott McLeod is the author of the blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, an educator at Iowa State University, Director for the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education or CASTLE, and also the creator of the Did You Know? Videos discussed in Blog Post #2.  What a busy man! He is considered to be one of the nation's foremost experts on technology and the leadership of it in the classroom.  His efforts in this field have been recognized by multiple organizations, and he has also received many awards.  One of his great contributions to education with regard to technology, in my opinion, is his blog LeaderTalk.  This blog is created by and also used by school leaders.  I took a chance to read a couple of the blog posts by various contributors, and I especially liked the story about Gracie the dog, and also enjoyed watching the video of the Stockholm Stairs once again because it really never gets old.  You can learn more about Scott McLeod by watching his Did You Know? Videos, visiting his shift happens wiki, http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/  his moving forward wiki  http://movingforward.wikispaces.com/ or his web page:
http://scottmcleod.net/bio/ . You can also find out more about his educational philosophy by reading his blog post "Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?"

2. The iSchool Initiative (by a high school senior)
Travis Allen's Video, "The iSchool Initiative" insightfully outlined the advantages of moving away from the typical school environment that involves paper, pencils, and expensive machinery like projectors and copiers.  This video was inspired by the budget cuts Travis witnessed in his Georgia high school. Instead of "letting teachers go" and expanding class sizes, maybe re-evaluating the way we are teaching and the tools we are using is a much better choice.  He asks the question: "Does technology belong in our education?"
He bases his iSchool initiative on the iTouch platform and lists the multiple uses of this tool.  Instead of a WalMart buggy full of school supplies such as TrackKeepers, Justin Bieber folders, Hello Kitty Pencils, glitter pens, High School Musical Backpacks, Hannah Montana agenda books, and especially pricey overhead projectors, etc., why not move to the electonic version of these instead?  The iPod touch can keep track of all the things written and recorded on these various objects that usually get thrown in the bottom of a bookbag or on a bedroom floor (and sometimes under the bed); the difference is that the iPod Touch is handheld, instantly accessible anywhere and at anytime, AND allows for sharing and collaboration.  Teachers, students, administration, and parents can all keep track of deadlines, due dates for assignments, social events, lunch menus, etc.  It can be locked by school, easily tracked by personnel, and customizable based on student need.
Other advantages for moving towards the iTouch? The apps are probably the coolest tools ever.  You can access millions of FREE apps that are "classroom ready" as Travis says: email, planners, chem. touch ( to view and interact with the periodic table, etc.), copies of the U.S. constitution, world maps on wiki, interactive content on presidents, quizzes on multiple topics, virtual tours of space, math formulas, store and send lectures, classic book readers, and many, many more! All without killing a single tree! Which means it also impacts the environment. Environmentalists, activists and tree huggers will love you for using this.  Not that I'm suggesting you use that as an incentive.

My more cynical side says...but this sounds almost too good to be true. What's the practicality in doing this? Where's the proof? Does this save money?
Well, according to Travis' calculations, per student, you have the cost of text books, graphing calculators, scientific calculators, agendas, backpacks, paper school supplies, etc; and per class, you have the cost of ink cartridges, mpas, globes, paper, projectors, projector screens, etc.  So, the cost would be around $600 per student, when the iPod Touch costs around $150.  That's a bundle of savings right there.
So, my reaction to the video is...where do I sign up? If only it were that simple.

3. The Lost Generation

I have to say, when you first watch this video, it makes you depressed.  Do we belong to a lost generation where our children are unimportant, there are too many workaholics, divorce is the norm, money brings happiness, quick fixes are the best solution, our environment is falling apart, and our people are lethargic, apathetic and find no hope?  I was getting agitated because I strongly disagree! Strongly, I tell you!
And then the words roll backwards. The speaker's voice gains optimism.  We see that our generation may look like a trainwreck and a complete hot mess; i.e., hopeless, to the "experts".  When you look closely, slow down, take a deep breath, and have a little faith, we only seem like the lost generation.  I do not think there is such a thing as being truly "lost" as everyone has the hope of being found. 
I liked the technique used in the video because it allows people to slow down and stop having hissy fits and panic attacks and realize that we, as a generation who have seen more change than most combined, are destined for great things, not calamity.  This video needs to be shown to the "experts" and "professionals" who insist that the generation after theirs, which would be mine, or...ours, has no morals, no boundaries, no realism, no feelings, and no real connection to the world and each other.  Yes, admittedly, my generation is more selfish and a little less thoughtful than my grandparents' generation, and even my parents, but we did not get this way on our own.  Does no one stop to think who raised us? Who educated us? Who taught us soccer and music lessons? Who made the music we listened to? Who taught us what was acceptable? Who did we get our life lessons from?
We do not exist simply in a vacuum.
Every generation is a product of those before it.
When I think about my generation I think about the problems the one before it is leaving for us to solve.
The national deficit, perhaps. My generation will have to be even smarter in order to fix this because it is growing (exponentially, I might add) as we speak.
And immigration.  Does anyone else see that this is only a problem because each solution has been more of a "band-aid" solution than lasting change? Immigration was a problem when my parents were growing up, and look at it now.  It is a hot mess.  If my generation does not implement some lasting changes to it, it will only get even worse than we can imagine.
And what about education? As Travis Allen pointed out in his iSchool Initiative video, there are more effective ways of educating.  Our world is changing, and has been for a while; does it not only make sense that our students have and will change too?  Yep.  So we cannot keep teaching them with the same methods.  Well, I suppose for argument's sake we can, but that solves nothing.  We need to teach them, to actually reach them, on innovative levels, because they will need to use this innovation to solve the problems that we, inevitably, will be leaving behind for them.  If someone had been changing education as time went on, gradually, so to speak, in order to embrace and alter what problems would appear, my generation might not have so many problems to fix now.
That's a lot to take in.  I think I need a cookie.
But the point is, do not let people fool you.  My generation is not lost.  The one after me will not be either.  My generation is learning as we go, as we experience, as we tread uncharted waters toward unknown destinations, in the hope that we will fix the problems that have been ignored. Until now. 

4. Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
I cannot decide what I appreciate more; Eric Whitacre's beauty or his brain! Wow.
I will give you a description.  The video starts and this virtual-looking curtain opens, exposing a bunch of video screens with a TV looking shape in the center. On that TV, there, as a maestro to all of the voices poised to perform "Lux Arumque", is blonde-haired, black tee clad composer, Eric Whitacre.
Whether he is composing and leading the voices in a technological sense or in the literal sense of music, or if he's just there for visual interest, I really do not care to make a distinction.  He can stand there all day.
But I am supposed to be reviewing the video, not being a cheeseball.
This video rocks.  No, really.  Everything I said in this blog post leading up to this point, is made evident.  This video can be viewed as an example of why we need to educate our students about technology with technology; and that technology itself, can be educational.
At the risk of being even cheesier and even more cliche (you doubted it was possible, I'm assuming,); I have to tell you why this is so.
The virtual choir stands for everything we are accomplishing in my generation, whether education is a part of it or hatefully sitting in the back of the room shooting spitwads (figuratively, of course).
Imagine being able to recognize potential all over the world, giving everyone a chance who has the tools (or even supplying those tools as the case may be), offering opportunities of a lifetime, lending ears to obscure voices in their own habitat, facilitating universal collaboration, allowing creative minds a chance to stand out, bringing out appreciation for art, history,and the classics,  and encouraging harmony by accounting for everyone.
That is quite a laundry list of adjectives and verbs.
But....that is everything we need and should want to accomplish through education, if we are shooting high enough.  We can and should at least give it our best shot to achieve all of this through technology. Like our far-reaching and over-the-top goals for education, this video could not have been achieved without technology.


5. Teaching in the 21st Century
What does it mean to teach in the 21st century?
To distribute content, facts, formulas, theories, and stories? Or to engage them while studying these things?
This video points out that students can find info anytime and anywhere.  Teachers are no longer the main source of knowledge,  we are only the "filters".  How do we teach students to manage resources?  We need to teach them not just how to use resources, but how to relate to them, to validate them, to communicate, collaborate, and problem solve with them.  Students will learn how to use them one way or another, entirely on their own, but we have to teach them ethics, honesty, integrity, and accountability concerning resources.  We need to teach them that technology is something that can aid education not the thing that powers their cell phone so that they can sit in the back of the classroom and text. Although a temptation, technology is not a cause for negative behavior.  Technology can engage kids prone to negative behavior by providing them an outlet.
I liked how the creators of this video made the distinction between entertainment and engagement. After examining them, I think it would be a bad thing to entertain students.  Think about it!
Entertainment= passive, for enjoyment, short-lived, no relevance neccessary, to escape problems.
Engagement= active, for learning, long-lasting results, requires relevance, to solve problems.
When I think of entertainment, I think of watching a movie or listening to a comedian; but when I think of engagement I think of collaboration, solving a puzzle, doing something active.  I would love to have a classroom where kids spoke out, felt like they had a role, looked forward to attending, and didn't stare at the clock waiting for the bell to ring.  I would love for them to feel like it was important that they knew not only how to use technology to write a paper, but to publish their work in a blog or comment on someone else's work, to find inspiration to write about, to record their thoughts, to design a cover, things like that.  I think the iSchool Initiative would be a good idea to aid with this.  I also think it would teach them the importance of technology and being good to the environment and they could learn how to respect others and their personal cyber space. Teaching them, engaging them, with technology can illustrate its good side and show them ways to solve problems they will be left to face later on.  Technology can solve more problems than it can create if treated effectively and under the right conditions.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just for fun! (:

Dr. Strange instructed us to personalize our blog and to get more acquainted with using it, so I'm adding a  Picasa3 collage I made myself!
Posted by Picasa

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Project #5: Google Presentation

My Life as a Book Nerd.
This presentation says pretty much everything there is to say about me, the things I love, and my approach to English education.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blog Post #3

1. Michael Wesch: A Vision of Students Today
This video chronicles the day-to-day encounters of today's college students. It asks the question: "What is it like being a student today?"
200 students were surveyed in an effort to answer this question.  The environment I am used to involves students sitting  more than partially distracted, having turned off their brains minutes before, switching between actually taking notes and doodling silly pictures in the margins in an effort to stay awake (or sane, as the case may be), and texting friends in other classes about how miserable they are.
What causes this?
The typical classroom that I just described, which is also well mirrored in Wesch's video,  could be due to class sizes that are too large, making students feel disconnected. Most students are more willing to participate and speak out with less of their peers in the room to potentially make snarky comments about what they have to say. It could also be contributed to readings that are ineffective and hard to relate to, lack of sleep, heavy course loads, feeling overwhelmed, and possibly being far too involved with our social lives. Yes, I do count myself in this demographic. We all do these things even though we probably say that we do not.
Students are also disconnected from reading out of a book; which is, it seems, becoming an outdated practice.  So many college students and even adults and high schoolers are reading online posts, emails, Google documents, books on Kindle, Nook, etc.  The act of getting out a thick, clunky, over-priced text book is becoming harder and harder for some students to deal with.  After a few years in college, I am sure most can agree that a person gets all too tired of writing papers about things we only hardly understand or relate to, just listening to lectures, and also filling out scan tron sheets.
 And do any of these things prepare us for the work force?? I am not sure that anyone can correctly answer that, but my guess, and this is just a guess, would be a big fat negative. This video did a good job of pointing that out.  I was getting a little bugged by the spastic, scatterbrained panning of the camera across the classroom. It could have been a little more organized or in a more logical order that did not give me a bit of occasional whiplash, but its main points were nonetheless effective and truthful.
I feel like those of us who have decided to become teachers in order to make a difference will not and cannot accomplish this with these methods.  How do essay tests and endless reading prepare us for this? How does toting around a textbook that I rarely even open and weighs as much as a couple of bowling balls prepare me for the problems I will be forced to face?  Some things you simply cannot learn from a textbook.  I feel like this class, EDM310, is a great alternative.  We are finding newer, smarter, more innovative, and more creative ways to educate our future students so that hopefully they will not be miserable, easily distracted, and uninterested.  The methods of this class are fresh and exciting and I think a lot of teachers would do well to implement them.  For example, how convenient is it to keep up with a syllabus on a piece of paper anymore when you can now easily access it with any computer with access to the internet?

2.Gary Hayes' Social Media Count
This webpage incorporates a graph that displays the exponential amount of communicating, social networking,  and interacting happening worldwide.  I was amazed at the number of comments made on Facebook, hours of video uploaded on YouTube, tweets sent on Twitter, iPhone apps downloaded, minutes of calls on Skype, SMS's sent worldwide, among other things, in only 60 seconds. I wondered just how many of these were being used in conjunction with an educational exercise.  I also wondered what would happen if they were. The options are endless with this amount of data.
If you would like to keep up with this count, you can embed it on your blog to see when you read comments or even have it there to share with others. Keep in mind, it may make your head hurt a little. Hayes created this in September of 2009 and has installed multiple updates. He has a review of the statistics by month dating back to the beginning of his program.  He also lists his sources if you would like to view individual facts straight from the source.  This was useful for me because I am always skeptical towards graphs and statistics.  I always want to know: "Just where did they even get these numbers from, anyway?"
What do these quickly occurring changes to the world of technology and the world in general mean to my career as a teacher?
Well, the most basic thing I could say about it is that it means that there is no possible way, in this day and age, not to teach without technology in some form or another.  This being said, it is never  a good practice to rely upon it, to use it as a crutch because it simplifies day-to-day activities, but it has its uses.
 The next conclusion I can come to about this expanding technology and its uses is that, as a teacher, I am destined to see many, many changes to it throughout my career.  I will be constantly finding new uses for it if I am paying close enough attention. Even now, as a student, every time I become familiar with something new and tech-y, something even better comes out.
Another thing this will mean for me as a teacher is the way it is now affecting the students I will be teaching in the future.  I used to think that the world I grew up in was so advanced, but the world my younger cousins and niece are growing up in makes it look so far behind.  The students I will be teaching are now becoming heavily reliant (possibly too reliant) on texting and iPods and spell-check.  In order to reach them on their level, I would need to accept this and embrace it.  However, I will always draw upon my past experiences, the things I have always enjoyed most about English and literature (that no amount of technology can change), and remember that I must also be learning with my students.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blog Post #2

1.Did You Know? 3.0
This video is all about facts concerning technology and the rapid growth of the world around us. I could not help but question: Is America falling behind?? The fact that "India has more honors kids than America has kids" just astounded me. And the fact that China will soon become the Number One English speaking country in the world. And...did you know that the top ten jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004? Technology is where it's at right now. People who don't like change or who fail or refuse to realize this are only going to fall behind. It's easy to fall behind because everything is moving so fast; when you think about it, we use technology for everything, so newer and easier ways to do these things are constantly popping up. And we should be thankful for these things; a little wary, occasionally, but definitely thankful. These technologies we are coming across daily are expanding our world! In the video it was mentioned that The New York Times featured more information in one week than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century. These are rapidly growing times we live in, with so much more to gain access to, and we need to be preparing students for a world even more advanced than we can imagine.

2. Mr. Winkle Wakes by Matthew Needleman
I wasn't entirely sure I agreed with this video. In the video, Mr. Winkle wakes after sleeping for a hundred years and finds tall office buildings with busy people and strange machines making strange noises and business people talking to business people all over the world. All this change is too much for him, and he begins to feel sick so he goes to a hospital. Lasers and X-rays, oh my! He begins to feel even more disoriented. He decides to check out the school when he comes across it. It is instantly familiar to him with its neat rows and teachers lecturing, and its quietness. He even sees one of the "strange machines" like those from the tall office building and hospitals, but it is dusty and not being used.
I feel like this type of education is becoming antiquated, obsolete, and useless. Classrooms where students are organized in neat rows and teachers only lecture are not keeping up with the times. In an age of podcasts, iPods and iPads, blogs, Facebook,and YouTube, why would education not also make use of these like the businesses and hospitals do?? And how will the students one day fill the jobs in these places if they are not being educated to do so? How did the people Mr. Winkle saw make use of all that technology if they were not taught using it, or how to use it? I feel like the simple form of teaching that has been so predominant for so long is not a bad thing, but, as I stated, why not make the most of the resources all around us?

3. Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity
Sir Ken Robinson says that there is human creativity everywhere and that we have no clue what will come out of this creativity next. "We all have a vested interest in education because it will take us into a future we can't grasp," says Robinson. He also talks about how this innate creativity is squashed in so many students by the school systems of which they are a part. We stigmatize children as well as adults for their mistakes, for not arriving at what is deemed the "right answer" instead of allowing for students to embrace their creativity and individuality.

Sir Ken Robinson quotes Picasso who said that "all children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up." I whole-heartedly agree with Robinson that too much emphasis is placed on math and science. While these are worthwhile academic pursuits, not everyone's gift falls into these two categories. Students should know that they are all gifted, and what that gift is, and how to make the most of it. Robinson started a thought process for me in bringing up Shakespeare: what was he like as a child? What if someone had told him that writing was a waste of time or that he could never really be successful in making a career in "the arts"? Who would we be reading today? And to expand on that, if we are not creating creative minds now, nor encouraging them and molding them to embrace creativity instead of limiting it, who will create the masterpieces that people will be reading, listening to, and viewing in galleries in years to come?

4. Cecilia Gault (Young student from Finland) Interviews Sir Ken Robinson
Americans have this idea of ourselves as being the greatest nation on Earth, when, in reality, we are falling behind. The first video I watched for this blog, Did You Know? raised this question, and further and further into the assignment I am seeing this is true. In the video, Did You Know?, it mentions that India has more Honors kids than America has kids, and the blog post "Can U.S. Students Compete?" Finland's students are getting better grades in Reading, Science AND Math than all the other countries of the world. This difference in grades would possibly stem from the fact that Finland incorporates shorter school days (which reduces likelihood of boredom and burn-out in students), and do not fail students. To me, it seems like, ideally, if you had no failing schools and made students want to learn everything to the best of their ability because they are enjoying what they are learning, they will make better grades simply because they are making the most of what's being taught to them. And what if students could make use of technology to collaborate with students across the country or around the world on projects or ideas? In doing this they could see how other cultures do things differently, learning in particular.

In Cecilia Gault's interview with Sir Ken Robinson, she asks what changes education would need to make to meet the needs of the twenty-first century. Robinson answers that we would need to change our curriculum to be more balanced between studying both sciences and the arts, to make better use of technology, and to create a stronger link between students and the community surrounding their school. He also argues that we need to embrace intelligence as undefinable. I agree that intelligence is not something to which you can give set parameters to define who is intelligent and who is not. Intelligence can take many forms, can be situational, and mean different things to different people. We also need to get creative! To accomplish the needs Robinson lists for education, we will need to creatively brainstorm ways to accomplish this. The simple cookie-cutter routine of educating our youth will not do. Thinking out of the box has now become imperative to the livelihood of education.

5. Vicki Davis: Harness Your Student's Digital Smarts
Educator Vicki Davis, of rural, south Georgia, is teaching her students to make the most of technology around them. She is not an expert in technology, but stays up to date and works collaboratively with her students to find out how to do projects together. She is the author of the coolcatteacher blog that has one several awards, founder of the Digi Teen project that allows students to create blogs on "digital citizenship", and has recently taken her students across the world to the Middle East to the Flat Classroom conference to collaborate and share learning styles and techniques with students there.

She makes the most of her classroom environment by encouraging creativity. She encourages them to get creative in ways to teach the class, finding ideas to share with others, learning to use wiki, and being comfortable with technology. Curriculum Director Betty Shiver of Mrs. Davis's school, compliments her on the ways in which she has taken students out of their rural setting and shared the world with them, connecting them to new ideas and possibilities.