Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
This week I have been keeping up with the class blog of Room 8 of Melville Intermediate School in New Zealand. Their teacher is...and they are grade..
Some of the projects posted on the blog chronicle the students learning experiences with new cultures, music, art,...
The students follow a class blog of the Vonsklid School in Denmark. They posted things like a presentation that compared and contrasted their two different countries and cultures. They noticed that one of their favorite school-yard games, handball, is the national sport of Denmark. The game is played a bit differently in both countries but they posted a video demonstrating how they play the game.
They also hosted a school from Japan as part of a cultural exchange program and put together a traditional ceremony for them. I would love to be the type of teacher that advocates this kind of interaction between different cultures and learning experiences through being part of such an event. There is no better way to experience another culture than through first-hand experience! I can remember my summer in Europe as a student-ambassador in high school and, being the nerd that I am, realizing that I was experiencing "the ultimate head-fake" as the late professor Randy Pausch would say. I was learning but in such a real, up-close way, and through such interaction with the world around me that I was immersed. I didn't even know I was learning until I was asked for my journal or to answer questions or things like that.
So this week I had to comment on Room 8's class blog. I commented on the video on handball. To me, this was also an "ultimate head fake". This school posts videos, pictures, etc. of tons of their projects so these kids are becoming familiar with the use and creation of such things. They also already enjoy handball. To combine technology and a familiar aspect of what you are learning is sheer genius! The kids seem to be having fun playing handball and thinking about the other school in Denmark, and how they might play the game. Do they even notice that they are learning to make social comparisons? I commented on how great it was that were following the class blog of the Vonsklid school in Denmark and how much I would have enjoyed such an assignment in my younger days. I pointed out how, back then we used to have to write letters to students from other cultures. I bet some of you reading this can remember having pen pals and being so impatient for their letters to come in the mail to your school. I asked how many of them still wrote letters and then moved on to talk more about our different cultures before concluding with a thank you for the experiences they have shared in their blog. I think I would still like to follow Class 8 of Melville Intermediate School's Blog even though my assignment to comment on their blog and keep up with what they are learning is now accomplished for this week. I would like to keep learning with them and I pray their knowledge of the world grow because they may one day be the very ones who can change it. :)
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Link to Tiffany's blog: Tiffany's Blog
Link to the Team/Event's Website to sign up to participate or to donate: Team Web Page
We used a program called Screenr to capture video of our Skype interview. It was an easy to use program but only allowed us to capture 5 minutes at a time so we had to do the interview in three parts:
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I agree with his point that we have to remember our audience, read our crowd, and let the anxiety of impressing the older, more seasoned teachers be more of an added bonus instead of a focus. After all, they are not the ones who are spending hours under our instruction. They are not the target of our lesson plans, efforts, and skill assessment. They are not neccesssarily our future...at least not as much as our children.
He goes on to talk about being flexible, mentioning that he had his own way he wanted things done, as we all do, and had to realize that things don't always pan out like we expect.
"NO LESSON IS EVER PERFECT. THE LESSON YOU TEACH AND THE ONE YOU PLAN ARE ALWAYS DIFFERENT."
This is something that we, as future educators, will have to keep in mind, whatever our subject or grade level. Just because you put in the effort does not mean it will work out. You can't try to control the outcome too much, you have to take in feedback and re-tailor your efforts to the abilities of your students, their demographic, your time allotted etc. If there is anything I have learned from the classroom I spent time in, it is to be realistic. Just because your lesson plan seems fool-proof, does not mean that it will work. He advises to stay positive when this happens, to work around your mistakes and learn from them and to "always keep a smile on your face!" Stay calm! They can sense your fear!!
He talks next about establishing good communication skills in order to also establish a "good rapport" with your fellow teachers. This, to me, is one of the most intimmidating. There are always going to be older, more seasoned teachers who think they know everything (and possibly do, I'm not disputing that..) and act like it. Talking to them with a tone of respect while still not allowing them to also sense your fear, to me, will be hard. I sometimes find it hard taking advice from others; my toes feel a little stepped on when someone tries to give advice without being asked. I know people mean well but it's hard to determine when they do and when they're just being a know-it-all.
Also, being reasonable is another piece of advice he gives. I can remember being in high school and having absolutely no confidence in myself, much less my academic abilities. It was that one or two teacher(s) who did not let me give up on myself, feel pity, make excuses, and sell myself short that helped me get an A in their class when I really did not expect to. It makes me think of the part of Dr. Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" video where he talked about the coach that kept critiquing him, and he said that when people stop pushing you to try even harder, they have stopped caring. I can see how it would be difficult to maintain a good balance between this and having too high expectations for your students. Some will meet your expectations and then some, whereas others may not. If our goals are too high, as Mr. McClung points out, we set them up for disappointment. As I am very tender-hearted, I don't think I could stand seeing a student disappointed. I know I would be right there, telling them to keep trying until they would succeed, while still waiting in the wings to step in if needed.
He goes on from there to talk about technology in the classroom. Something we are all becoming quite familiar with in EDM310! Before, I might not really have considered incorporating technology into my English class, being a "tech-literate" teacher, but now...I am already starting to develop my own ideas for lesson plans using some of the technologies we are learning about!
In order to reach your students, you have to listen to them. I can't imagine doing anything without listening to other people. My mom has always been one of the best listeners I know and shown, by her example, that a caring person pays attention to what other people are saying. I can't imagine being a teacher who takes complete charge without letting my students have a say, talk about what they are reading, and speak up if they feel like they are in over their head. The modern student in today's "microwave society", as Mr. McClung terms it, is used to communicating; whether it be through texting, facebook, email, or Skype, their opinions get heard. Not allowing them that right would be crippling. They need to know that they are relevant and that their education is relevant to them as well.
His last admonition is that we never stop learning, as educators. Just because we are the sources of knowledge, does not mean that we know everything. I certainly don't think I ever will know everything. There is always something to learn. There is always room to grow. I believe that we are never actually at our absolute best; we can always get better. Just because we achieve our goals does not mean that we have achieved perfection. There is always room for improvement.
Here is an image Mr. McClung shared on his blog that inspired me:
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Does anyone else find it sad that books don't seem that important anymore? You can buy a kindle or a nook and then purchase them for a third of what you would pay for them in the store. You can buy them used for very cheap. You can find "bootleg" copies to download on the internet. You can download them as a PDF document.
Whatever happened to appreciating a book for its clever or striking cover art, that synopsis on the back or the inside cover that won you over, or the crisp yet gentle feel of paper against your fingers when you turn the page?
We don't write things down anymore, we type them. We don't scour the library for resources as much, we try Google (via Google Scholar) first. The good thing, however, is that if you take that information out (by download) it is still there, whereas, in a library, the book you are looking for may have already been checked out by someone else and completely useless to you.
We work, play, learn, teach, write, and publish with our computer devices. I do not think I was prepared to write with multimedia before taking this class. I honestly never gave it much thought. Writing and creating are important to me but I never really thought about how an approach to multimedia, but also a knowledge and appreciation of it, could help me. The truth of the matter is that we live in a world that appreciates and looks for that which is quick and efficient, simple and easy to process. By being able to write and publish with multimedia, writing can be viewed in real time, can be published in real time, and can be cited and read and commented on all over the world in real time. As a future English teacher, I can see myself encouraging my students to have their own blogs, to keep up with a journal with entries they would be proud enough of to publish in their blog, to make Glogster posters of stories they are learning about, to find and embed videos related to given topics, to read how other bloggers feel about what they are also reading about. I think my students will already have some knowledge of these things beforehand, and giving them these outlets certainly couldn't hurt. If they are already collaborating with similar things in their free time, why not engage them by allowing them, encouraging them, to use them to better understand and find interest in what I am teaching?
2. "The Chipper Series" and "EDM310 for Dummies"
The primary messages of these two mini movies made by former students of EDM310 is something that can help alot of students taking this class. Procrastination, stubborn-ness, resistance to changing your own way of thinking, thinking outside the box to keep from doing assignments, were all things that fictional student "Chipper" demonstrated in the "Chipper" Series. Chipper thought that her methods worked based on past performance, but, in actuality, they had only helped her get by. She was not willing to follow the rules and did not want to put in the effort to succeed at whatever she was doing, and it only pushed her back further in life until she finally had a change of heart. The message of these movies seemed, to me, like they were saying that a student might as well use this class to get on the right track and learn how to manage time, follow instructions, organize, and take advantage of opportunities that are offered (if they don't already do these things) because they are all skills that will help in the future. "Chippper" was resistant to these ideas until she realized that without them, all her attempts would keep failing because she didn't put forth the initiative. The students in EDM310 let the confusion and endless assignments get to them before realizing that they needed to accept and embrace the concepts needed to survive this class.
3. "Learn to Change, Change to Learn"
In the opening of the video, many problems are presented with modern schooling. Kids are used to communicating through email, text, and instant message, which are either banned by most schools or not incorporated into the atmosphere in general. They are not reached on a level they understand. Their world is full of creativity and access, both of which seem to be an after-thought in most classrooms. When they are on their own, even on-the-go, they are still learning with their smart phones and iPods and iPads and laptops. They are learning more things through these mediums than they, and most of us, probably realize.
For those of you reading this who own a smart phone, you can probably relate.
For example, how many times a day do you hear something, see it in a store, on a billboard, at work, or just in your environment, and then pull out your Droid, iPhone, or Blackberry, etc. and look it up? How many apps do you have that involve stocks, trivia, news, world facts, or reading?....
Used to, kids only knew what they learned in school, read in books, heard around the community, etc. Now they can access anything they are interested in at point of their day and no matter where they are at. We have to be the bridge. We have to be the filters that show them how to interpret data, how to make use of it, how to separate truth from fiction, and where to look for these things.
Another thing...students are used to having access, to being connected or linked to the rest of the world. As the experts, teachers and professionals in this video point out, sealing students off in a classroom harms more than it helps. They need to feel like school is a community, not a place.
I also watched Learning to Change, Changing to Learn: Student Voices. This video was kind of the reverse. The students gave their opinions on technology and usage, and how they feel about the connections and resources it offers. Some enjoy it for keeping contact with others, some enjoy listening to music, texting, gaming, and also, surfing the web on their phone. Others like collaborating and creating music and games. One of the students in the video said that he thought technology made for better learners because it allowed for the creative process of looking at your resources and thinking about your final project and evaluating both to determine the steps of said process.
4. The Secret Powers of Time by Philip Zimbardo and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by David Pink.
Philip Zimbardo says that there are two different perspectives on the past, two on the present, and two on the future. To me, it goes like this: you can live in the past or appreciate the good times you had, you can live in the moment, whether you are "hedonistic" or just reluctant to plan, or you can look to the future, whether you are worrying about it or working to make things better.
What does this have to do with education?
Philip Zimbardo says that we are born present-oriented and education serves as a function for taking "present-oriented little beasts" and turning them into future or past oriented individuals.
He also uses this to explain why there are so many students dropping out in our country. Children of minority backgrounds and lower socioeconomic standing are more likely to drop out, and also, boys are too. Why boys? Because the average male, according to statistics, has spent 10,000 hours playing video games by the time he is 21. This means that their social, emotional, and interpersonal skills become underdeveloped, and the fact that the world that they are concentrating their focus on is of their own creation leads them to lose interest in school easily. The basics, reading, writing, and arithmetic, are not enough to keep their attention. With little to no active interest or control in what they are learning, they are either not learning the curriculum, or refusing to.
It seems like a lot of people are driven for success, whether it is something to look back on, to live in the moment for, or to look forward to. But, it also seems like alot of people are driven by success outside of education. Education is, to some, just a way to get to a place where they can make a lot of money and fit into the lifestyle they want. Success seems to be defined as having more than others, making more money, having more friends, earning more degrees. It's less about how you feel about yourself and more about how others see you.
This is a summary of the responses we received:
Here is the video of our presentation: