Saturday, May 5, 2012

Conclusion of Group Work

Neptune, and its moon TritonThe group I was a part of, The Psychotic Salmon Berzerkers, was a fantastic one. Terri Wagner, Joseph Thornton, Kellen Bramlett, and I worked together very well, whether it was face to face or over the many different connectivity tools we used over the internet.

For our first non-face to face project, we used Team Viewer 7. For our second - The 'How to Survive EDM310' video - we used Google Docs. Through email, we decided what we wanted to do, and using Google Docs, we put together a script that everyone liked.

These tools worked flawlessly. Even the smallest nuance of comedy could be conveyed over them. It was strange working without actually meeting face to face, but all of these programs worked well in representing a good atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie.

No problems arose - partly because of how well we worked together already, as well as how efficient the tools we used were.

A copy of the 'How to Survive EDM310' script can be found here: Students vs. EDM310

Final Reflection - Blog Post 14

Final Project - How to Survive EDM310

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Final PLN Report

Over the course of this semester, I've been accruing many different links and resources to help me along as I become and grow as a teacher. I've also made connections with people who can shed valuable insight into methods that will help me as well.

Although there are many different websites that help you lay out all of your information in an easy to read way, I decided to set mine up differently - independent of any other system but my own computer. Using Firefox's bookmark function, I've laid everything out in an organized, efficient way. By not using a website, I'm forgoing possible server crashes and lost information, while at the same time having the information available at my fingertips at every moment.

My PLN

My PLN

My PLN

My PLN

My PLN

My PLN

As you can see, there's not much to it right now. But as I continue to grow as an educator, more and more will be added to it. It may be inelegant, and some may find it a little haphazard for their tastes, but it works well for me, and that's what counts. It will probably go through many different iterations, but this is its current form.

Do you have any other useful Biology sites that I could benefit from? Post about them in the comments below!

Blog Assignment 13

A television with static
In this blog post, we were tasked with going 24 consecutive hours without using any electronic devices whatsoever, in an attempt to see just how much technology affects our lives, be it in a positive way or a negative way.

Let me start by saying that I was doomed from the beginning. Every single time I'd start by turning all of my things off. As the day would go on, I would go to those items and turn them on to see what I had missed (a practice that I normally do throughout a regular day; I'd check my phone for calls, turn on the computer to see if any important emails had come through, and a few times I slipped up and turned on the Playstation right after getting in from class or running errands). I'd try to make myself stop, but the impulse to do those actions is so well ingrained in me that it's as if I had no control over myself, and would do them automatically. My brain didn't want me to go without those stimuli for more than a short time, and so by the time I even remembered what I was supposed to be doing, it was too late.

I am so used to having constant digital stimulation, it's as if I can't go without it. I'm so used to being bombarded with large quantities of information that to turn that steady flow off makes me feel like I'm missing everything important in the world (although that's surely not the case).

Perhaps the media has a small part in why I feel this way. Day in and day out, we're reminded that to have electronics to use, and to have a way to stay always-connected is a desirable thing.
 
The thing is, having all of the information we could possibly want at our fingertips dulls the experience of the real world. That slow, steadily paced, natural thing we call life is just not fast enough to meet the needs we've built up over years of technology's use.

As students enter the classroom in a hyper-stimulated state, it may be difficult to appeal to them by following 'Standard' classroom procedure. Since we can't necessarily modify how they interact with technology outside of the classroom, we'll have to modify how we present our information within the classroom. Students will be living lives full of technology, and a large part of being successful in the classroom will be utilizing technology and their acclimation to it.

Comment For Teachers #4

An Apple iPad
In my most recent Comment 4 Teachers, I visited Jerrid W. Kruse's blog, Teaching as a Dynamic Activity. Mr. Kruse is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

His first post, entitled Apple & Huxley, talks about a recent advertisement that Apple released concerning their new Retina display. In his post, he claims that the ending portion, when the announcer says 'It's simply you, and the things you care about', is damaging in some way because at that moment, a child laughing is shown on the screen. I pondered this idea for a good long while before writing my response, but could not see any basis for what he said.

I see it as classic targeted marketing. Ever since the early days of advertisements, companies have looked for ways to appeal to potential customers to buy their product, and Apple has done a decent job in their ad. After all, many people find that it's important to be able to stay connected with the people in their lives. Since the iPad has that capability, the advertisement is in no way false in saying so.

I couldn't fathom what he meant by his statement, so I eagerly await clarification on the subject.

3 Acts

In another post, Mr. Kruse talks about Dan Meyer's 3 Acts, which is a structured approach to information dispersal in the classroom that is similar to the ordering of segments in a movie.

The three acts are as follows:
1.) Introduce the central conflict of your story/task clearly, visually, viscerally, using as few words as possible.
2.) The protagonist/student overcomes obstacles, looks for resources, and develops new tools.
3.) Resolve the conflict and set up an extension for a sequel.

By following these steps, not only does the educator have more flexibility in their lesson plan for when things may go awry, but it also allows the students to have a more interesting, engaging lesson to participate in than a boring lecture.

I can't wait to use the 3 Acts approach to teaching. The added benefits of flexibility and engagement for the student mean that it will be a valuable asset in getting students to participate and enjoy learning.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Creativity and Curiosity: My Thoughts - Special Post 12a

The Scream, by Edvard Munch

The current educational climate is detrimental to the creativity of today's students, and I'm going to tell you why. As it stands, the entire system is based on standardized testing, as well as standardized evaluations of the efficacy of classes. This inhibits creativity and curiosity for the following reasons:

1.) If your method of examination requires the retention of facts and figures, but in no way presents that information in a meaningfully engaging way, the student will only retain the information for so long as required to pass the exam, and then forget it.

2.) The model of testing in general is antiquated. By punishing the student for erring outside of the prescribed realm of study, you remove the desire to learn any more than is required and presented. If students are afraid to learn more than they should, then they won't - and a lifelong desire to learn isn't instilled.

A curriculum of study that could bolster creativity and curiosity is already in use in some places. By presenting a task, but leaving the method of completion up to the student, then the student HAS to come up with some way to present the information. Initially, the student may or may not be creative in their endeavors, but as time goes on, the level of creativity will flourish. By presenting the information to be learned in an open ended way, the student is also free to learn as much about a subject as they desire, and so curiosity is increased.

As teachers, it is up to us to come up with ways to increase student curiosity and creativity. Whether it be by using clever programs like Prezi and Timetoast, or using something simple like a pencil (as seen in 'Don't Let Them Take The Pencils Home!'), we will have to be creative ourselves to get our students to be creative.

To increase our creativity and  curiosity, we will have to have a strong desire to learn. If ever we stop learning, the creative process stops, and no new ideas can spring forth. By communicating with others from around the globe, and staying on top of relevant information in our fields of study, we can always have fresh ideas on tap to use in the classroom.

Blog Assignment 12

In this assignment, you will watch this video: The LHC - The Large Hadron Collider. After watching it, find out in more detail exactly why they built the Large Hadron Collider. Write about your findings.

The collision of subatomic particles with the amount of force exerted in the LHC has, in the past, raised concerns that the LHC is unsafe. Explore what those concerns are, and explain why it may or may not be so.

Don't forget to include particle detectors in your research. Why are they important?

Lastly, research the findings of the LHC. Explain the relevance of these discoveries.

The Large Hadron Collider

A map of the Large Hadron Collider
After watching the video, it's readily apparent that the Large Hadron Collider (or LHC) is a technological masterpiece. It's the most powerful particle accelerator on the planet, and is located on the border of Switzerland and France. It was created by the European Organization for Nuclear Research with the intent of discovering subatomic particles as well as learning more about basic laws of interaction between matter, on a quantum (or very small) scale. It is also believed that the theoretical particle that gives all matter mass, the Higgs Boson, can be discovered through particle collision (and detection of the reactions in the six detectors located throughout the LHC).

There were a few concerns about what might be created as particles slam into each other at almost the speed of light - these concerns are microscopic black holes and theoretical particles known as strangelets. Although the idea of a black hole being created on Earth is terrifying, the fact of the matter is that if they are created, they are so small that they would be unable to interact with normal matter. Without accretion of matter, the microscopic black holes would dissipate very rapidly, unable to absorb matter quickly enough to stay stable or grow. Strangelets, although frightening to think about (as they convert anything they touch into 'strange matter'), cannot be created with the energies contained within the LHC. No real evidence has been found to suggest that either of these scenarios is likely - other particle colliders have been operating for over 10 years, and no such event has occurred (or been detected) thus far.
Two protons smash into each other, creating a cloud of subatomic particles that are detected and studied
The results of a particle collision.

Although the LHC itself is very impressive, its results could not be measured without the six detectors placed throughout its 26 kilometer circumference. As the particles collide within the detectors, subatomic particles are ejected away from the collision, and into the detectors. As the ejected matter interacts with the detectors, computer software translates the interaction into a graphic display that the researcher can observe. In this way, what actually happens in the collision can be measured and studied.

The general purpose atlas detector
The ATLAS detector. Note the man standing at the bottom

In December of 2011, a particle with attributes consistent with what physicists theorize the Higgs boson would have was observed. It will be a while before further research can conclude its existence, but if it does, it will be an enormous milestone for modern science. Not only would this mean that we had the technological prowess to create the conditions for and detect such a particle, but it would also mean that our general understanding of the workings of the world are fairly accurate. Although not every theoretical assertion will be true, being correct about one as big as the particle that gives matter its mass would mean that we've made great strides in how we understand the world around us.

Final Project Progress Report

The congo jungle, dense and green

My group, the Psychotic Salmon Berzerkers, have decided to do our final project on 'How to Survive EDM310'. In our video, we will be in the wilderness, 'surviving' the many hurdles that one might encounter throughout their time in EDM310.

A few of the things we'll be facing will be:
  • Being organized
  • How to find resources for your assignments
  • How to NOT be completely overwhelmed
  • Proper blogging procedure for newbies 
We will also include general tips for keeping up with the class. It's going to be a wild ride, but one thing you won't see is any of us jumping out of a helicopter or eating bugs to get by.

That's not to say that it still won't be amazing. Stay tuned for more!

C4K April Summary

The earth and moon, from outer space
 This month, EDM310 students participated in the World Blog Challenge. We blogged on posts from around the world (and here in the US).

My first Comment 4 Kids for the World Blog Challenge was on Eric's Blog. I actually included this post in my C4K summary for March (since part of the week it was assigned fell within that month), so you can find that post here.

Since Eric didn't post again after my initial comment, I was assigned to comment on Cory's Blog. His post centered around his home in Vermont, and he makes Vermont sound wonderful. He also talks about a tree house he's been working on. In my reply, I told him about Alabama, and how it seems much different than Vermont - instead of mountainous terrain, southern Alabama has featureless flatness. I also mention how much I wanted a tree house when I was younger - it's one of the things I always wanted when I was younger, but never had. I ended with words to motivate him to post more, because the more you blog, the better you become at it.

In my last World Blog Challenge post, Emily lists 'Ten things you don't know about me'. She talks about where she's lived, her love for turtles, her family, and her hobbies. My reply talked about a turtle I used to have, named Gordon. I also talk about my favorite hobby - working on cars. I mentioned this because one of her hobbies was building things out of wood, and in a way, building things of any type is similar, even though the process may be different.

My final C4K was on 'Paige's Weekend Story!', a short video of a young student talking about what she did the past weekend. It was great seeing such a young person using technology so well! She talked about riding bikes with her cousin, and how much fun it was being around her family. In my reply, I said that I too enjoy bicycles; I also said how great her video was and that she should keep making videos, because practice makes perfect!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Progress Report on Collaborative Project 15

A salmon with a warhammer and a viking hat: the psychotic salmon berzerkers logo
Project 15 Progress

My group, the Psychotic Salmon Berzerkers, is doing our project on Cell Processes as per the Mobile County Pacing Guidelines for Secondary Education.

Our method of  communication has been email and TeamViewer 7. We've so far had 2 group meetings.

For our first group meeting, we decided on what we would be doing our SMARTBoard project on, as well as figuring out subjects for each group member to concentrate on. The general layout of the video was also discussed (such as when each person's segments will be).

The second group meeting was further elaboration on the order of each segment in the videos, and Project 16 was briefly discussed.

I will be doing my segments on Matthias Jakob Schleiden, Theodor Schwann, and eukaryotic cells.

Look for the finished video in the near future!

Blog Assignment 11

A keyboard with all the keys arranged to represent a rainbow
 Kathy Cassidy on Technology in the Classroom

In Kathy Cassidy's video 'Little Kids, Big Potential', her students lead us through the many different things they use in the classroom to help them learn various things (such as the alphabet and counting). They blog like students in EDM310 do, they use Wikis, Skype, and a myriad of other programs to help distribute information as well as assist them in learning.

It's wonderful that such young students have access to the tools that help them learn beyond what a lecture can offer. Using these different mediums allows them to feel more responsible for the information they present, and helps them be more creative as well.

Later on in this post, I'll address a few options that I, as a Secondary Education teacher, will be able to use that Mrs. Cassidy's video brings light to.

A Skype Interview With Kathy Cassidy

In Mrs. Cassidy's Skype Interview, she talks about her start as a tech-savvy teacher, as well as how she implemented a tech-centered classroom for her first graders. She also outlines the various benefits of using blogs and wikis, and being a truly technologically knowledgeable educator.

She started with only a few computers. Working hard and achieving a Federal Grant, she furnished her classroom with more computers - and began to form her technique in how to augment regular teaching styles with technology to produce a better learning environment for her students.

Her approach to teaching with technology is very fluid. From year to year, she may alter her technique based on the students that are in her classroom. She may center more (or less) on blogs and wikis, to best benefit the students that she's teaching.

She raised on point that seemed by and large the most important to me - that technology is useful for any age group, as well as for any type of class. Physical Education, math, science, EVERYTHING can benefit from the use of technology - we, as educators, just need to think outside of the box to figure out a way to make them useful.

earth from space
Applications for Me

As a Secondary Education major, I'll be focused on Biology. In my classroom, I'd be able to use blogs to facilitate collaboration among students. Blogs, and other programs (such as TeamViewer) would provide a meeting place for students to work on projects, where in any other situation, they may have none. It would also allow me as an educator to spread information relevant to the class - such as due dates and assignment details, among other things. It would also be a place where students can reach me outside of class to handle any problems they may have with the course material or the assignments.

Using technology would also allow for complete immersion in the world of biology. Websites like Biology News Net offer up-to-date news on discoveries that are occurring each and every day. By being able to see biology research results as soon as they're published, biology students will be caught up in the 'here and now' of it, which would implant a desire to learn things at the rate they are being discovered. And if students can find research that interests them, their quality of work in projects will be much greater - increasing the amount learned from not just what they researched, but also HOW they researched it.

Also, websites like Cells Alive offer an interactive glimpse of how cells function, as well as microscopic views and comparisons with everyday items to give a sense of scale. Using websites like these would impart far more information in a much more interesting way than any lecture that comes to mind.

The only problem I can think of would be that some students may not have home computers. The best way to remedy this issue would be to have computers for the classroom (or spending regular time in computer labs) so that each and every student would be able to access the same information.

I'm really looking forward to using technology in my classroom. Luckily, the applications for biology are immense. It will be a lot of fun to watch students grow and enjoy biology - because if they enjoy it, they're learning it!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Blog Assignment 10

Empty desks in a classroom
Do You Teach or Do You Educate?

After watching the video, Do you teach or do you educate?, I've come to realize that teaching and educating don't mean the same thing. To teach is to give facts - to educate is to give skills. Because of the educational environment, many educators don't educate - they dish out 'must know' facts and figures, but do nothing to foster learning beyond the scope of their quizzes and tests.

When I become an educator, I will be an educator of the sciences - Biology, more precisely. While many students find science interesting, I plan to help them learn more than just how to dissect a frog, or how cells function together to form an organism, or any number of other fascinating things. I intend to use science to impart skills inherent to the very subject - research, problem solving, and a desire to learn more. It would be easy to just plan to have students come into my classroom, take notes on a subject, and go on their way - but that wouldn't be the right thing to do. I'll have to make it interesting - by motivating students to do independent research, to learn more about science than just what I show them; and by representing what they need to know in a hands-on (or otherwise interactive) way. I could also create a blog so that students can collaborate and share information they've researched, to give them even more ownership in the things they've come to understand on their own.



Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home!

In Tom Johnson's post, 'Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home!', he outlines an exchange he had with a teacher at his school regarding giving pencils to students to take home to do activities.

This teacher did not like the idea of sending pencils home with students. She raised a few (flawed) points - that pencils are interconnected with poor standardized test scores, and that somehow they could use the pencils for something unsavory - even though personally I think Hang-man isn't bad at all. Mr. Johnson rebuts these arguments readily - firstly, are standardized tests a good measure of genuine learning? How can you tell if your students are gaining knowledge by measuring their ability to remember information long enough to put the answers on a page, then forget it? Standardized testing is a silly notion when no student is 'standard'.

Now, to address her argument about using the pencils for things other than learning, Mr Johnson points out that even using pencils for a game of Hang-man could have educational benefits. Also, giving students something worthwhile to work towards, while also giving them trust and freedom, teaches more than just the prescribed activities might. It teaches responsibility, and helps them want to learn even more. While pencils may be used as entertainment in lower income households, by using them for learning, it can be imparted that pencils are useful for more than just drawing - they can also be used to learn.

There is also an underlying idea - that something as simple as a pencil can be used to elicit learning. Being creative and using tools at hand to make an engaging learning environment is up to each one of us - and all of our methods will differ. I'm looking forward to seeing what ideas come forth as we become educators - even if those ideas center around something as simple as a pencil.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blog Assignment 9

Looking up the trunk of a tree at the foliage above


Joe McClung's 'At the Teacher's Desk' 2008-2009

In Mr. McClung's post from the Fall 2008 - Spring 2009 school year, he talks about the many different things that he's learned to cope with, and things he's done in general to become a better educator. Things such as;

How to read the crowd. When he talks about reading the crowd, he means two things - firstly, that you should be paying more attention to students than how you are being percieved as you teach, and secondly, that with everything you do, your students will react in some way, and being able to tell if how you're going about trying to teach is working or not will be vital in providing a good learning environment for your students.

Be flexible. Many things in life don't go the way they were planned, and lesson plans and the like are no different. Even if you make mistakes, trying to make the best of an unideal situation and not letting it get to you is far better than beating yourself up all the time. Go with the flow!

Communication is the best medicine. Talking out problems with other educators (and students) can help to ease tension and build connections between people in order to cultivate a more efficient classroom.

Be reasonable. Instead of berating students for doing more poorly than you wanted them to, be supportive and try to motivate them to succeed. Having unrealistic expectations from students can hamper your ability to effectively teach. Try to pay attention to differences in your students and make adjustments when possible.

Don't be afraid of technology. The way students learn is ever changing, and technology is the new frontier in content dissemination. Using technology can help you in your teaching tasks, as well as help students learn.

Listen to your students. Education is about the student. Listening to what they've got to say can shed insight into their shortfalls and concerns, and help you be a better teacher by addressing those issues as they arise.

Never stop learning. This one seems simple enough. After all, how can you expect others to grow intellectually if you yourself don't do so as well? Being steadfast is beneficial in many things, but not education. Keep up with the times, or be left behind.

At the Teacher's Desk: 2009 - 2010

This post, like the one before, outlined the many things Mr. McClung learned as he taught students in Junior High. He faced many challenges that he could never have foreseen without actually going through them, and he does a great job of chronicling his realizations, and what he does to correct the problems he comes across;

Adapt. Although he was thrown a few curve balls - having to teach 3 subjects, which he had little experience in, as well as teaching Junior High students - he did what he could to make his classroom fun and engaging. Being too rigid in his teaching method would not have allowed him to cultivate an effective learning environment - but by recognizing that he needed to change a few things, and changing them, he kept his classroom relevant.

Take the road less travelled. Teaching a subject whose discussions could lead any which way, he had to adopt the mindset that those discussions could go any way, and he would need to provide a non-biased point of view. In doing so, he could promote independent thinking in his classroom - which is important in ANY subject.

Find your school Mom. By this, Mr. McClung means find someone who knows what's supposed to be going on, and seek advice from them if necessary. Making connections with those who know how things work in that particular school can help you follow established norms and guidelines. This really goes back to Networking 101; by helping others, they will in turn help you. I don't know about you, but having others to depend on in a pinch can be lifesaving.

Check your ego at the door. Societal pressures nowadays tend to discourage being overly enthusiastic about things... But if we don't let ourselves loose in the classroom and really get into what we're talking about, how can the students tell we're interested in that subject? In many scenarios, showing interest in something helps others to be excited, and in turn become interested in it themselves.

Don't be a control freak. Instead of driving yourself crazy by trying to do every little thing, have students do some of those things for you. It not only takes some strain off of you, but it helps keep their attention, and gives them ownership of some of those tasks.

Scope and sequence. Make sure to be consistent in how you teach and assess subjects. If you go in depth on a subject, don't just skim the surface of that subject when you're testing your students. Go as in depth in your assessments as you did in your instruction.

Don't lose sight of what's important. While it can be easy to be sidetracked in the classroom by things outside of it, don't let things hamper the way you instruct your students. They're the most important thing, and you shouldn't let anything stop you from doing your best for them.

It's what you learn after you know it all that matters. This goes with the last point of the previously outlined post - strive to continue to learn and grow professionally. Honestly assess yourself, identify your issues, and address them. By doing so, you'll become a better educator.

In summation...

All of these things are worthwhile to learn in and of themselves; however, there is a broader lesson to be gained from this. As you, the educator, look outward towards your students to help them grow and learn, take the time to look inwardly, at yourself, to see where you yourself need a little work. No one is perfect, and by acknowledging this and taking active steps to fix your shortcomings, you can strive always to be better, to improve. Not for yourself, though... for your students.

C4T #3

Angela Maiers


Angela Maiers is a proponent of the 21st Century Classroom. She's been an educator for 20 years, and uses social networking sites and blogging to help her educate her students on modern life skills. She also founded and is President of the Maiers Education Services based in Clive, Iowa. This service is for schools who wish to implement technology in their classroom - so as you can see, she's serious about this!

#BeyondTheTextbook

In her post, she advocates modernizing the classroom by utilizing computers as a medium of information exchange instead of books. In doing so, she hopes to create a more engaging, effective teaching method for the modern student than more archaic, 'lecture me, test me' lesson models.

By moving towards a computerized method of information sharing, she hopes to one day utilize customized open content that's already available online. In doing so, educators can use resources that are precisely as in-depth as they require to impart more knowledge than an unchanging, potentially outdated book ever could.

The sentiment of many on this subject, however, is budget issues. In recent memory, teaching staff and extracurricular activities have been cut to keep schools afloat. However, I feel that the cost-benefit of supplying students with computers, and being able to utilize free (or inexpensive) content on the web will, in the long run, be better than supplying textbooks to students - as well as the benefit of being a better learning tool.

Becoming Change Makers - the Q'enqo Library Project

In her post, Angela talks about Grade 3 students' blog, and how they've connected with people in Q'enqo, Peru to help them build schools and improve their quality of life through fund-raising at their school in Calgary, Canada.

The students all share the same sentiment - they're excited about being able to help others and record their progress on their blogs.

It's amazing to think that students in 3rd grade are already becoming networked and plugged in to the world around them. This bodes well for the future state of education - where pioneering teachers are breaking new ground and introducing cutting edge techniques to better their students' education and lives. Looking at this school (and others in which I've followed and commented upon), it's plain to see that this process of change is not a fast one. However, as long as more and more teachers embrace modernity, sooner rather than later will global education change in order to provide a better, more enriching experience for students.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

C4K Summary for March

The bow of the Titanic as it sits on the sea floor
Louie and Klaudia's 'The Titanic Spider'

In this blog post, two students aimed at hitting a 105 word limit while using specific words set forth in a challenge their class participated in. They wrote a short but fun narrative of the tragic voyage of a spider aboard the Titanic. They hit every requirement dead on, and aside from some spelling and punctuation mistakes, did a great job of completing the 100 Word Challenge set before them.


Five F-15 Jets flying in a V formation, blotting out the sun
Eric's Blog

In Eric's post, he talks about two things he wants to learn to do - to be great at math, and to fly a plane. For me, the first goal is just as lofty as the second - math is probably the subject I'm worst at. Anyhow, I told Eric that with work and perseverance, he could attain his goals.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog Assignment 8

The lights of Denver illuminating the city at night... from space


This Is How We Dream

Richard Miller's This Is How We Dream, parts one and two both talk about the changing landscape of how we collaborate and disseminate information, in the classroom and abroad. He talks about a few different concepts - the incremental changes that are going on right now, and the fundamental changes that are also occurring.

The incremental changes that he mentions are small, step-by-step movements towards different ways of taking in or displaying data. He talks of books going from being in a tangible print version to being in a digital, easy to spread version. He also talks about how media integration into digital versions of articles and books can enrich the experience of reading and learning about various topics. I feel that if software were easy enough to use, and more teachers were willing to learn to do this, then the small steps that have already been made by pioneering teachers will grow to enormous leaps, making this type of information gathering and sharing more widespread.

He also talks of fundamental changes in how we do things. No longer must we trudge to a library and seek out information piecemeal. Now, everything needed to create accurate and interesting compositions can be found just by jumping on the internet. Ideas now have an outlet so that others may contemplate, debate, and test them to ensure they're correct. And instead of bland representations of data, we can create mind-blowingly creative and interactive displays of that data using a little creativity and tools that are already available on the internet today.

Carly Pugh's Blog Post #12

In Carly Pugh's 12th Blog post, she came up with an ingenious assignment for Dr. Strange - it centers on technology for learning (using a YouTube playlist to compile a list of videos that help outline your teaching philosophy), and allows for outrageous levels of creativity. Do you want to be metaphorical in how you represent what kind of teacher you want to be? Go for it! Do you want to, by using others' videos, tell it like it is? No problemo!

I feel that this encompasses what Richard Miller was talking about in his 'This Is How We Dream' videos. Simply writing things down to get a point across is boring and unimaginative, and does nothing to further the desire to learn. But this assignment bolsters creativity, responsibility, and hunger for learning in a way that no 500 word essay ever could.

The Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies

The Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies really got me thinking about what type of video I could do to describe the benefits of EDM310, as well as ways to alleviate some of the stress associated with adjusting to the modern methods employed by Dr. Strange as he takes us on a journey of intellectual gain and technological mastery.

The first idea I had centers around two students - one being taught by the old method (using lectures and testing), and one being taught through freedom of choice and creativity, self reflection, and guided (but independent) learning. They would be taught the same things, but in a different way - and the whole process would be 'documented' to show the benefits of one or the other. Initially, the student in the new process would flounder - not being told exactly what to do would lead to confusion and anxiety for the student, while the one being lectured would have no such qualms. As the 'course' progressed, the student being lectured would start to fall behind during testing - while the methodology of how to use certain programs would have been discussed, the practical application of skills wouldn't have been absorbed, and the student would become overwhelmed. At the end of the course, the student that was guided but had more influence on how he learned would have had many trial and error attempts at tasks the first student only read about, so not only would the student have a better grasp of how to complete the task, but also of how to figure out what to do if he couldn't quite figure it out initially. This video would show that by encouraging students to be self-starting learners, more skills would be imparted (such as discipline and troubleshooting skills) than for the student who was only lectured (and so only can regurgitate what's been taught, but nothing more).

My other video idea would be a practical look into how to prepare ones-self for the barrage of assignments awaiting them as they enter and progress through EDM310.

Starting off, the average college student mindset must be broken down. The student must realize that they will be given more freedom and more responsibility than they've ever had before. And while that can be daunting, to know that all their hard work will be for a reason. No busy work is given - a lesson can be learned from each and every task you're given.

Next, I'd give guidelines for organizing resources and contacts. Many, but not all students are organized - and those who are not will suffer through this class. While every person operates differently, having an efficient organizational system that works for the individual is key. Having links and pertinent information spread all over the place without rhyme or reason will lead to headaches in the future.

Lastly, have fun. If you explore your options in creating whatever it is Dr. Strange has you doing next, there's almost always a way of doing it that you will enjoy.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

In this video, many prominent figures in education speak out about where education is coming from, and where it should be going. They acknowledge that the current system is antiquated - that the jobs and careers that students will eventually have do not require 'vending machine' type learning - in that you just spit out what should be the right answer. I completely agree with their assessment that students are more engaged and interconnected outside of school than they are in it, and in order to successfully teach students, we'll have to accept that the learning done in school is only a part of the learning one does as a whole, and to help them be successful we shouldn't necessarily teach facts, but the skills to obtain, verify, and utilize facts in everyday life.

Near the end of the video, one man says that the strides that are being made to modernize the classroom herald 'the death of education, but the dawn of learning'. This is promising for the future - students of the modern classroom will go on and continue to search for knowledge long after their school years, and the world will be better for it.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0

1.) For my first scavenger hunt find, I'm using Make Beliefs Comix. Here's my comic:
I've got an email! It's from Dr. Strange. We've got another project coming. *sigh*

2.) For my second find, Animoto is a video editing tool that you can use to combine pictures, videos, and music to create an amazing video experience. It resembles iMovie in that it's simple to use, and can combine all your media into one video. It's completely free to use if you're making videos less than 30 seconds long (which doesn't quite cut it in my opinion), but for $30/year, you can create videos of any length, and upload them directly to your social networking sites. If you plan on using it frequently, it would be well worth the cost.

3.) For my third and final program from Web 2.0, I used PollEverywhere to create a poll. I'm interested to see the results, so get voting!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Project 12: Book Trailer

This is a book trailer for "The Missing Mitten Mystery", a children's book written by Steven Kellogg. It was made in collaboration with Robert Fisher, Jessica Bonner, and myself on the Special Event night held by Anthony Capps on February 1st, 2012. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Project 8 Podcast

Blog Assignment 7

A network of people
The Networked Student

The Networked Student, by Wendy Drexler, is a video about a student and his Personal Learning Network (PLN). In this video, the student uses his own research and the research of others to spread and gain knowledge by utilizing social networking tools such as Twitter, Skype, and Wikis.

This mirrors what's happening right now in EDM310. As we observe and learn from others - people in our PLN - we, in turn, spread that knowledge by posting it on our blogs. This will be beneficial in the future as well, as we become educators and share information with one another to better ourselves and our teaching methods. An added benefit of this is that as these ideas get spread from place to place through PLNs, a type of uniformity will exist, and education will continue to advance.

Creating a PLN and becoming connected with others takes time and work. Researching, verifying, and disseminating knowledge is not an easy task - but you get out what you put in. Everyone has different focuses and specialties, but by putting forth the effort and making that knowledge available to others, you can make lasting connections that will benefit all parties involved.

Personal Learning Environment

In this video, the student talks about how she's organized relevant links and sources into one convenient place in order to help her learn and complete objectives. She has the freedom to complete those objectives any way she sees fit - and so by compiling all those resources into one place, it makes it easy for her to do any task. She also contributes to others' learning by posting her findings on networking sites.

Her PLE and my PLN seem very different. Firstly, hers is FAR more organized than mine. I need to work to make mine as utilitarian as hers - having all my resources in one place would definitely benefit me. Her PLE is also spread among different resources - people and information sites - whereas mine consists mostly of people. It really highlights the shortcomings in my PLN, so I definitely see myself overhauling how I keep track of my PLN, and what it consists of, in the near future.

Project 10 PLN Progress Report

Handshakes

As a member of EDM310, it's fair to say that everything we've been doing thus far is geared towards connecting us to each other and the global learning community in order to help us excel when we become teachers. Everyone I've worked with so far in EDM310 has knowledge on things that I do not, and I wouldn't hesitate to ask them questions, or answer theirs.

I'm still working on utilizing Skype and Twitter in a more substantial way. As of yet, Skype hasn't really come into play with my contact with others, but Twitter has been a great place to find interesting people who specialize in areas that interest me. As my research ramps up into various fields later in my college career, Twitter will be a great way to follow those with insight relevant to the topic at hand.

The many teachers I've spoken with are people I feel can impart knowledge to me, as well. As the front-runners in modernizing the classroom, they know what works - so I'll hopefully be able to use their knowledge (and formulate my own to distribute) later on in life.

My PLN is just beginning to grow, and it will never cease growing. The amount of connections people make with others grow organically since people are generally always encountering other people or their works as they go through life. I'll keep working on it, but it will never truly be complete.

Blog Project 9b: Human Lifecycle Timetoast

Monday, March 5, 2012

C4T #2

Google map of Massachusetts

Beth Knittle is a K-12 Technology Integration specialist in the Barnstable Public School System in Hyannis, Massachusetts. She works to help teachers integrate technology into their classroom. Her blog centers around technology and modern teaching methods.

Private Schools and Educational Reform

In this post, Mrs. Knittle focuses on the differences between Public and Private schools, and how public schools tend to latch on to the mandates set forth by State and Federal Government - even though private schools do not and still produce excellent students.

Like other progenitors of the modern teaching style we've studied, Mrs. Knittle believes that it's more important to teach knowledge and skills rather than how to do well on a test. In public schools, she feels that although emphasis on individual education still exists (in the same vein as private school), the process of standardized testing still alienates those who don't progress at some predetermined, 'standard' rate.

At the end of the day, she says that the Schools' following of State and Federal mandates is for one reason only: money. And while that may be understandable, is that really the best thing for their students?

Making School Related Digital Texts

Mrs. Knittle made 3 separate posts about points she wanted to make in her lecture session in the upcoming MassCUE / METAA Technology Symposium. In her third post, she talks about creating custom digital content for the upcoming utilization of iPads and other technology in the classroom. I think it would be great for schools to create custom, focused, interactive and engrossing media in order to help facilitate learning. Not only would lessons be more fun (and all information therein more relevant), but students would probably LOVE using Apple hardware in the classroom. Mrs. Knittle also points out that after the initial creation of the media, upkeep would take far less time than creating it from scratch, so the time invested would initially be high, but then taper off.

I love this idea. Personally, I wish this sort of thing was available back when I was in primary and secondary school - but even though I probably won't be able to use anything like this specifically in my school career, I will still experience it in my classroom when I'm an educator.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

C4K Summary for February

Comments for kids logo
Nathan's Blog

Nathan is a student of Mr. Chamberlain's at Noel Elementary in Noel, Missouri, and the post I commented on regarded his thoughts towards two other posts. His first comment was in regards to a post which talks about a class in which each student has a say in what projects they do, as well as how they spend their time on those projects. Nathan said he liked to be independent, but sometimes got overwhelmed. I think this applies to many people - having many tasks to do and plan for can be hard, but by planning for those things and being under pressure, each person learns to deal with that pressure in their own way. I gave him some advice - make a list and do things one step at a time, and you can make it through anything!

His second comment dealt with Procrastination and Mistakes, and how he feels that sometimes he procrastinates to the point where he feels he doesn't have enough time to complete his project. This, again, concerns good time management - a skill that should continually be honed and practiced. Good time management is key for people of all ages. More often than not, I hear about fellow college students cramming for a test into the early hours of morning or starting and hurriedly completing a project that's due the following day - something that could have been prevented had good study habits and time management skills been established and practiced in the years leading up to their college careers.

Hoien's Blog

Hoien's post was all about the British Virgin Islands. I have never been there, nor have I even looked into it, so it was good to get some information on the Islands. I had some difficulty finding a central blog for the entire class (as in, the blog that outlines what's happening in the class) but it appears that each entry in the students' blogs are based on a certain theme (such as hobbies and places), but each non-personal blog posts varies. Hoien has actually been to the British Virgin Islands, which is amazing! Traveling can be alot of fun, and can broaden horizons of students as they experience different places and cultures.

Alex's Blog

Alex is a student of Mrs. Garcia at Mary Montgomery School in Manitoba, Canada, and maintains a blog for Mrs. Garcia's class. The post I commented on talked about their experience using Skype to talk with people in Louisiana about Mardi Gras. The person they Skyped told them all about Mardi Gras - the floats, the beads, the fun... It's amazing how interconnected the world is now! Since so many things can be shared across vast distances, it truly is a small world after all.

Jolly Rancher LOVER's Blog

My final C4K was on Jolly Rancher Lover's Blog. JRL is a student of Mrs. Michelle Te Grootenhuis's 5th grade class at Hospers Elementary school in Iowa. In this post, the student writes a persuasive letter to his parents, in an attempt to get them to take him to New York City. It's very well written, and JRL raised alot of good points - it would be fun, it would let them get away from work and worries, and they could just relax and spend time together. Hopefully it will be enough to earn them the trip!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blog Assignment 6

Dr. Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture  is a lecture he gave near the end of his life, after battling with pancreatic cancer. In this lecture, he speaks about how he accomplished his life dreams, while at the same time imparting some wisdom about how being a good person and doing things the right way can positively effect you and everyone around you. The video was intended for his children, but everything he said can be used by anyone wanting to better themselves and those around them.

Walls exist to test your dedication

Not everything is easy. Many times, things may seem more difficult than they are even worth. But Dr. Pausch believed that when a seemingly impassible obstacle presents itself, it's not necessarily to discourage you; it's there to make sure you truly want to achieve what you set out for yourself. If the going gets tough, the tough get going - so he also says 'Don't complain - work harder!'. As a teacher, many obstacles might come up - administrative and budget constraints, bureaucracy, and other things might make it seem like an uphill battle for an educator. By soldiering onward, and doing your best, not only will you overcome those obstacles, but also you'll get a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched. Keeping a positive attitude and good work ethic will help you realize your goals.

 Students

The entire purpose of teaching is to impart knowledge and skills to students, and to help them realize their dreams.  Sometimes, students may not meet your expectations - and Dr. Pausch believed that the greatest gift to give a student is the gift of self-reflection. If a student can honestly look at themselves and assess what they excel at, as well as their shortcomings, they can make adjustments in order to succeed. By figuring out what each person is good at, they can become valuable by doing that very action. There IS good in everyone, and as an educator it would be silly not to try and find it.

Moving forward

As future educators, the technologies and teaching strategies that will be available to us is ever changing - and so, too, should we strive to produce cutting edge curriculum in order to facilitate learning in our students. Looking for new ways to teach and learn things can benefit the world. That being said, those who venture into unknown territory should expect to take some flak. There will always be cynics who say that one thing or another 'cannot be done' or 'just won't work', but the only real way to find that out is to try. That's not to say that things should be done without the consent of those above you - but if you truly believe that something is worth your time, then you'll find a way to make it happen.

Collaboration

The best way to accomplish something is to do it with the help of others. In order to get people to help you, you must be truthful with them about what you want to accomplish. You must be willing to work hard. If you make a mistake, acknowledge that mistake and apologize. Focusing on yourself won't help the team - focus on others, and what they're bringing to the table. And be loyal - do things to help others, and they will do things to help you, in turn. And if someone gives you advice, listen. Others generally give advice in order to help you, not harm you - so by listening, you can improve yourself and the task at hand.

The 'Head Fake'

This is a central theme in many of the events Dr. Pausch talks about. The 'head fake' is when it seems that a lesson is about one thing, when actually it's about another. The 'head fake' in football, for example, is learning to be a team player, instead of the implied lesson of how to play the game itself. Alice, a program that appears to teach students how to make movies, has a 'head fake' - while making movies, one actually learns to program computers. By integrating an educational lesson into engaging tasks, we can ignite creativity and inspire learning by engrossing students in tasks they enjoy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blog Assignment 5

Firefox logo
Scott McLeod

Dr. Scott McLeod is an educator at the University of Kentucky. He is a leading expert on technology in the classroom. In his post, Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?, he satirizes the position that the internet is not a useful tool in the educator's toolbox. While I agree that the internet is fantastic and should be used to the students' advantage, I will say that the student should be apprised of all facets of the internet, good and bad - all of the benefits and downfalls of the internet should be discussed, as appropriate (in tandem with content moderation) to ensure that nothing unsavory or irrelevant to the task at hand is viewed. As I said in a comment to Dr. McLeod's blog (which can be found here) there's so much information available now that learning is literally at our fingertips - and to keep students from utilizing this would be like holding water in front of a thirsty man, and not letting him drink.

Travis Allen's iSchool Initiative

Travis Allen is the creator of the iSchool Initiative, a collaboration of students dedicated to promoting the use of electronic tools to make education more efficient and less expensive. In his video The iSchool Initiative, he outlines just how useful an electronically-based curriculum can be. Using the iTouch, all the essential components of class such as books, learning tools (like globes and the periodic table), and interactivity can all be had using programs available on Apple's iTunes. This is a bold leap towards using technology in the classroom - and I'm all for it. Everything from homework assignments to lecture notes can be made available at any time.

However; unless the cost of the hardware is covered by the schools - and not the students and their families - some students may not have access to such hardware. Public Schools should not be cost-prohibitive for families near or below the poverty line - so to make it feasible, the hardware and all pertinent software (such as books and apps) should be provided for students (or, at the very least, subsidized).

The Virtual Choir

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir, found here, is a wonderful melding of technology and art. Using video networking, 185 people from around the globe - without ever seeing each other - recorded 'Lux Aurumque'. This shows how useful technology can be - connecting people anyplace in the world as if they were standing right in front of each other. "It's a small world after all!" seems somewhat fitting - as connectivity advances, the distances between collaborators almost disappears.This bodes well for efficiency in information sharing and research in the future as well.

Kevin Roberts on Teaching in the 21st Century

In this video, Kevin Roberts outlines where he thinks education is headed - namely, towards teaching skills instead of facts and concepts. While I agree that the informational landscape is constantly changing, I disagree that teachers should relegate themselves to conveying life skills alone. Problem solving is a part of most areas of study - and those skills learned from various subjects can easily be applied to real-world applications. I think a more ideal approach would be to move towards facilitated learning (such as giving structured tasks, but leaving the detailed work up to the student) instead of a strict regimental teaching schedule, where facts and figures and other non-engaging datum are presented. By giving the student creative freedom in this way, more can potentially be learned as problems and issues present themselves as the student's complete their tasks.

Reading Rockets

A website recommended by Anthony Capps, Reading Rockets, contains a treasure trove of apps, television programming, and other resources for teachers who may need help promoting literacy in their classrooms. There are several teaching strategies on the website (found here) that can be incorporated into a lesson plan in order to help the students learn to read, comprehend, write, speak, and become more fluent with language.

There are also helpful apps on iTunes listed that would greatly help with literacy in the classroom. Applications such as Aesop's quest, Same Sound Spellbound, and Simplemind all help with memory, homophones, and idea recording (respectively) in order to help with reading and other literacy problems. Reading Rockets also airs on PBS as an entertaining way to help struggling students.

Blog Project 9a: Timetoast!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blog Assignment 4

Podcast Icon


Langwitches Blog: Podcasting

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano is a Primary School educator who focuses on technology in the classroom. Her blog can be found here.

1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook

In this post, Mrs. Tolisano walks us through the process of recording the reading of an audiobook and integrating a readable script to enhance it. She also notes how into it her students become as they follow the motions of creating their very own audiobook. What's interesting here is how engrossed the students become in creating the audiobook when the programs they use to create it (such as Garageband) give them feedback on their performance - allowing them to tailor their inflection and wording as they see fit. It seems that this feedback, and the changes they make to their speech, truly garners a sense of ownership in the project - which undoubtedly motivates them to do their best. Participating in this process likely helps in promoting creativity as well.

Listening-Comprehension-Podcasting

In this post Mrs. Tolisano speaks of the necessity of repetition in order to fully understand a language other than your primary language. She had her students make a production of 'Purim' in Hebrew. After each student recorded a few sentences, SMARTboard and Garageband were utilized together in order to edit each of the sentences into the final podcast. By doing this, not only were the students able to write a script, make a podcast and practice, collaberate, and edit creatively, but they were also exposed to the Hebrew language.

More information about Purim can be found here.

Podcasting With First Grade

In this post (which is an earlier post on her blog), Mrs. Tolisano talks about the benefits of podcasting with younger students. By having each student participate, each student had a sense of ownership in the project, and shy students 'came out of their shell' in order to take equal part in the podcast. The possibilities for learning from this are colossal; the students can improve their listening, speaking, comprehension, oral fluency, and technological prowess all by participating in the creation of the podcast.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Podcasting can be beneficial for students of all ages. By using programs and hardware to help the creative process along, much more can be gained than just proficiency with the technology used. Self esteem can be bolstered, talking and comprehension can improve, and connections can be made with other classmates.

These posts will help in creating our podcast as well. Scripting, recording, editing, finishing, and finally publishing are all important steps that this blog presents in an understandable way. The Psychotic Salmon Berzerkers will definitely refer to this blog during the creation of our podcast!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blog Assignment 3

An Ipad

Technology in Special Education

In Lacie Cook's video Technology in Special Education, she speaks about how beneficial technology is in a classroom where her students have special needs. As technology advances, the applications for its use broaden. Ipods, specialized computer programs, applications, and even specially constructed hardware configurations all ease the burden on a teacher by helping address each student's individual needs.

As a teacher, knowing and addressing students' special needs is a priority. With technology, each of those needs can be met with a personalized, tailor-made approach using a computer, iPod, or iPad and a plethora of programs specifically designed to assist a specific need.

I looked at Apple's Education App site (which can be found here), and found a program I think would be particularly useful as a Secondary Education Science teacher. Many words used in biology can be dauntingly long and difficult to read or pronounce. Having something on hand to be able to look up those words can be a boon for students with reading literacy problems. Dictionary.com's Dictionary and Thesaurus app offers audio playback of phonetic pronunciation, which would greatly help students who have difficulty in reading potentially complicated words. In using this app, word mastery can be improved for future classes as well.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count


Gary Hayes Social Media Count, found here, illustrates just how quickly internet use is growing in our world - and with that growth, a different method of networking and information dissemination. Connections between educators can be made around the world, and with those connections comes exposure to teaching methods that one might not have heard of otherwise. By collaborating on a global scale, teachers can improve their methods by utilizing methods already in effective use elsewhere.

But this bodes for changes in student learning as well. Students can now go online and be interactively immersed in information - so, we, as educators, should do our best to emulate this immersion in the classroom, so that this modern resource in teaching and learning does not go to waste.

A Vision of Students Today

"A Vision of Students Today" by Michael Wesch (which can be found here) covers how technology is changing education. Being connected to the internet 24/7 has acclimated students to the anytime availability of music and social networking sites - and this availability is spilling over into the classroom. As more and more students bring their computers to the classroom, less and less actively participate in classroom learning, opting instead to surf the web or get on Facebook (I think pretty much all of us have seen people on Facebook in the middle of class).

This is no fault of the students'. Teaching methods just haven't been keeping up with the way that digital users have grown accustomed to learning. It's not interactive enough, it doesn't keep our attention, and unless we use the digital resources we have available to us when we become teachers, we won't be efficient educators.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Comments For Teachers #1

An apple

Aviva Dunsiger is a Grade 1/2 Teacher at Ancaster Meadow School in Ontario, Canada. Her Blog, A Primary Blog for the 21st Century, chronicles her 21st century teaching methods (such as using SMARTboards and other technology to facilitate learning), as well as her students' responses to those methods. Here are two posts which I found very interesting.


When Incredible Happens

In this post, Mrs. Dunsiger posits a question to her students about varying shapes, and how they might possibly create other shapes with pattern blocks the teacher supplied, and what ensued was unexpected. Her students came up with an answer to her question that she herself hadn't considered! In the video in which she was asking her students about the shape they had made (and whether or not that shape would work as part of a duck made of geometric shapes), her students showed impressive reasoning skills.

A 21st Century Fluencies Approach to Art

In this post, the idea was to have partners use technology(such as Google) to research and build a puppet for a reading of "The Little Red Hen". By having her students use Google to research their characters from the book, her students gain knowledge as "Digital Citizens" according to Fluency21, which promotes mastery of information gathering, problem solving, collaberation, media, and creativity.

By focusing on and utilizing technology in the classroom, Mrs. Dunsiger has created an effective learning environment for her students.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blog Assignment 2

Dr. Strange's "Did You Know? 3.0"

In Dr. Strange's video, Did You Know, he outlines the changing job market, as well as the shifting technological climate that we, as future educators, must come to understand - and by understanding, help our students to be successful in the job market in years to come.

An increase in highly educated people from around the world will make lucrative fields in the U.S. much more competitive. In order to give our students the best chance of success, we must do our best in imparting the knowledge they will require to compete in our changing world.

Technology is also changing. In order to teach our students how best to use the advancements available to them when they enter the work force, we must keep up with these advancements, so that what we teach will be relevant.

In the end, we will all need to work together in order to best prepare our students for the challenges they will face.

Mathew Needleman's "Mr. Winkle Wakes"

In Mathew Needleman's video, Mr. Winkle Wakes, Rip Van Winkle awakens after sleeping for 100 years to find that the world has changed. After visiting a business, the amount of technology was too much for him to handle, and so he visited a hospital - but seeing all the technology in use there as well, he left. But upon finding a school, he became content - school was just the same as it was 100 years ago.

Mr. Winkle makes quite a point. As technology has advanced, so has the way we do things. Businesses run more efficiently, and medical science can reliably sustain life where, a century ago, it could not. It only makes sense that as our environment progresses, so should our methods of dealing with and shaping that environment. Why is it then that schools don't seem to be following the trail that medical science and business are following?

Perhaps it's simply a budget issue. State and local governments may not have the funding to add new technologies such as smart boards (or even reliable projectors) in every classroom. Or in light of these budget issues, perhaps teachers make do with what they have.

Or maybe the devices in the classroom aren't the problem at all. Maybe the basic teaching method should be revised. As things in our world become interactive, so too should the way students learn. Instead of sticking to the status quo, perhaps we should reevaluate classroom conditions as they change, and make alterations as necessary.

Sir Ken Robinson's "The Importance of Creativity"

Sir Ken Robinson's lecture, The Importance of Creativity, centers on the human mind - and our changing world. Although our world is changing, our definition of intelligence has not - too much emphasis is placed not on what each individual excels at, but on what it is perceived that one should excel. Our grading structure punishes students for being wrong, and that produces a fear of making mistakes... But without taking a chance to make mistakes, no original, useful, creative ideas would come about. Sir Robinson states that in this way, we are "Educating students out of creativity".

Everyone is unique, and we should celebrate and nurture those things that make us individuals - not try to override who people are to turn them into who we think they should be.

A Vision for 20th Century Learning

In this video, like many of the others, archaic teaching practices are addressed. Students are presented with information the same way they always have - by getting lectured, without participating in any real way. This video has a potential solution to the standard, passive type of learning we're used to seeing - a video game for learning.

I agree that this is a good idea - if properly executed, and with a greater level of teacher interaction than is implied in the video. To be successful, an education game should have 3 things:

1.) Production Value. Gaming consoles and computers are very powerful nowadays. The benchmark for graphics is very high - and so, in order to fully captivate the audience, education games should have decent graphics - if the in-game environment is too bland, students may find it boring.

2.) A goal. Many educational games of old consist of tasks to complete, but no real incentive for the student to complete them. By having some overarching theme, (such as 'Use algebra to save the queens life'... okay, maybe not the best example...), then interest can be maintained throughout the course of the game.

3.) Ease of use. Utility and function are important, but if the student can't figure out the controls, then the game will be a waste!

Video-game assisted learning is currently happening at the University of South Alabama. You can learn about Jaguarland, a part of the video-game 'Second Life', here.

Vicki Davis - "Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts"

Vicki Davis, the creator of the video 'Harness your students' Digital Smarts' is a teacher in a southern Georgia town, and is teaching her students how to be tech literate, self-starting learners, networked with those around them. Similar to EDM-310's structure, the students learn 'how to learn' by trial and error, collaboration, and by using resources online. They, like EDM-310, post their assignments to a blog, called DigiTeen - a resource that connects people from around the globe.

This is a great example of how successful an updated teaching curriculum can be. By utilizing modern technology, and having each student actively participate, lifelong learners are made. Instead of waiting to have information force fed to them, they will go out in search of knowledge instead - and so, their search for knowledge will never end.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blog Assignment 1

About Me

Hello everyone, my name is Daniel Coker, and I am part of the Spring 2012 semester of EDM310 at University of South Alabama. I'm a native to the Mobile area - I was born in Fairhope on December 1st, 1986. I was raised with two other siblings - my sister, Sarah, and brother, Kenneth - who are both older than myself. Until I was 18 I lived in Spanish Fort, and after graduating from Daphne High School, I enlisted in the Army. I was stationed in Germany for a little less than a year before being honorably discharged. When I returned home, I spent a few years working aimlessly at a catering company - until one day, I met someone who made me realize that I have great potential, and I began my college career at Faulkner State. I didn't make the decision to become a teacher until I was a year into college, and initially I wanted to teach history. After taking a few Biology classes, I found that although history is good, science, for me, is far better - and when it was time, I transferred to South Alabama.

When I'm not in class or working part time at Pottery Barn, I enjoy a few different activities, depending on my mood. I enjoy reading, sports, and video games - among other things - and my favorite past-time of all is Autocross. Autocross is essentially racing around a cone-outlined course, one car at a time, to try and get the best lap time - and it's even sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America. It's been a long time since I've gone, though... the choice between buying new tires or having food to eat was a hard decision (more so than you might think!) but in the end, reason won out.


Racing around a course in my two seat convertible.
Going around a course in my Honda S2000. I've since sold the car pictured

I also dabble in music - I've played trombone for over 14 years. I played for the Faulkner State Jazz Band for a short while, but I just don't have the time to play now that I'm so busy at South.

My trombone and I after a jazz concert.
Me, after one of many concerts the Faulkner State Jazz Band played on the Eastern Shore.


Well, that's all that comes to mind... Now on to other things!

What I learned from 'Randy Pausch on Time Management'
 
Most people know what it's like to wait until the last minute to complete a task, and with that procrastination, the stress that a possibly missed deadline imposes. After viewing Randy Pausch on Time Management, I've learned a few points to help alleviate that stress. Firstly, to keep from wasting or losing time, you should evaluate that time as you would any commodity (Dr. Pausch likens time to money) - and as such, try and use that time as efficiently as you can. Secondly, recognizing the relevance of tasks in our day to day lives will allow us to determine what is and isn't important, so that we can keep minor things from interfering with more pressing or urgent things. Thirdly, mistakes can and will sometimes happen - and that's okay. Experience gained from those mistakes can be very valuable!  Additionally, planning is of the utmost importance - but rigid planning might keep you from 'going with the flow' whenever a wrench gets thrown into your plans. Be flexible! Things won't always go your way, so having a way to deal with problems without disrupting your whole schedule will keep you from being overly stressed when the time comes. Lastly, step-by-step to do lists can make even daunting tasks manageable. And do the worst thing (you know, the thing you probably want to do the least) first, and it can only get better from there! Dr. Pausch said it best when he said, "If you have to eat a frog, don't spend a lot of time looking at it first - and if you have to eat three, eat the big one first!"

Dr. Randy Pausch was a Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He passed away July 25th, 2008. You can learn more about Dr. Pausch on his webpage:  
Dr. Randy Pausch's Webpage