Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blog post #5

The iSchool Initiative

 I touch
The following video, The iSchool Initiative (5:42), clearly shows the possibilities of a more progressive tomorrow. Using the technology already in existence, the classroom could become a very different place. The main device used in the video is the Itouch. Basically, the Itouch is used to interconnect the classroom through email, blogs, and various forms of social media. The advantages to this would be numerous. Each student would receive a more engaging experience. This can be achieved by utilizing social media and email. The teacher will no longer be limited to boring lectures for the students. Instead, the teacher becomes a person of guidance, leading students along the road to a solid education. Students can also interact with each other. Collaboration with peers is a very important skill to learn. Later in life, students will need skills like this no matter which direction they may go. There are some aspects of the idea that I find interesting. I like the idea of use of technology in the classroom. I do wonder if the Itouch is the best tool to achieve this. I believe laptops would be a better solution. The main problem I see with the Itouch is its size. It's too small. My question is what happens when a student loses one. Does the student have to start over on all the assignments? Will the data be stored in the cloud? Speaking of assignments, how will students complete assignments? Typing on an Ipad is difficult enough, but a smaller Itouch? If the project is set on Apple products then Ipads with bluetooth keyboards or macintosh laptops would be better.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque'

Virtual Choir
Can this be the future classroom? I honestly do not know. I see this idea working on some levels. It would be interesting to have a class meet face-to-face in this fashion. A professional class would be most likely to see benefits. As for younger students, this would be apocalyptic. Can you see elementary students sitting in front of their computers for hours? Parents would pull their students out of the school system and begin home schooling. I'm sure some applications for this idea exist. The best idea I can think of would be for scholarly competitions, like scholars bowl, or the national spelling bee. I would be interested in hearing more ideas on this subject.

Teaching in the 21st Century

robot teacher
Mr. Roberts shares some thoughts on the evolution of the teaching field, and our role as teachers in his project. In a world where information is just a click away, where do schools and teachers fit in? According to Mr. Roberts we are to become teachers of skills. All the information the internet has to offer is void if our students do not have the required skills to find the information they seek. Finding the information is not enough; we must insure that our students know how to find correct information. It is a sad truth, but not every website is creditable. So what will we be teaching our students? How to use search engines is an obvious starting point. Upper level classes would have to be instructed on piracy and plagiarism. All levels would have to learn how to use social media safely, and how it can be used to build a support network.

Does this mean in the future all teachers will be technology teachers? No, while technology will have a major impact in every subject, I don't see teachers being replaced by technology. Instead I see a union of advancement and engagement. Does the chalkboard replace the teacher? No, so why should a smart board or a podcast? Technology is, and always will be, a tool. The more advanced the tool you are using, the easier your task is going to be. Just ask any carpenter. Technology is not to be feared, however it must be used responsibly.

Flipped Classroom

flipped classroom
Flipping a classroom is requiring a student to watch a video podcast at home on the subject material that is to be taught the next day. This idea is not new. Students are already required to do daily reading assignments at home. The advantages of video are the student can see how to do something instead of reading about it, and since the video is produced by the teacher the video can be customized to a greater degree.

Would I use this? Yes, flipping has enormous potential. Both of these example videos: Why I Flipped my Classroom by Katie Gimbar and Flipping the Classroom - 4th grade STEM by Ms. Musafo show the flipping being used for math. I would like to try this with science. I would make a short video on a theory or fact. The next day I would demonstrate with a live experiment. I believe if this is done correctly the students will look forward to the demonstration, therefore making them want to learn just to see what happens next.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blog assignment #4

Podcast Preparation

Garage band app demo
For my upcoming podcast in a few weeks, I am doing some research on podcasts and how to do a satisfactory podcast. I was referred to the Langwitches, they are very successful podcasters who work with students. They focus on storytelling, fluency, emotion, and most importantly, comprehension. I was very impressed with the podcast they did about Purim. After they had recorded the story in pieces, they had the students put it back in order. This was a brilliant idea. This introduced the story in a whole new way.

My plan is to incorporate several of their main ideas into my podcast. One key feature that showed up in every blog post was the app garageband. It has the ability to edit recordings, this will be an essential tool later. Next is the focus on emotion. Emotion has the power to bring my podcast to life. This is important because I want my podcast to stand out. Last is a mixture of fluency and comprehension. I want my target audience to be able to understand my message. I also want to make my recording smooth. It is my hope that with practice both of these will be achieved.

C4T post #1

Ms. Cassidy's bulletin board
For my comments for teacher post, I had the opportunity to read Ms. Kathy Cassidy's blog. Ms. Cassidy teaches grade one in Moose Jaw, Canada. From her blog I can clearly see that she is passionate about using technology in the classroom and that is a wonderful thing. I have commented on two of her posts and these are my findings.

The first post I commented on Ms. Cassidy used the ideas of Gail Boushey and Joan Moser to set up a bulletin board that can organize a classroom to have a reading program setup for each child. The original idea is to use the letters in the word cafe to make different categories. The categories are: "comprehension, accuracy, fluency and expand vocabulary". She was worried about the terminology being to difficult to understand, so she used her own base word, read. Her new categories are: " right words, explain what you read, able to read smoothly, and discover new words."

I commented about how I really liked the way she changed the terminology to suit her students. The effectiveness of a reading program is scaled by how well it is received. I'm sure that first grade students could learn the words used in the original model, but it's more important to be sure that each student already understands. How could we expect students to do anything if they can't understand what is being expected from them?

The second post was an earlier post. Ms. Cassidy shared the letters she wrote to her future students that would be joining her when school was back in session. Inside each envelope were two letters, one to the child and one the parents. The child's letter basically introduced herself, told them some things about the class, and said that she was looking forward to meeting them. The parents letter encouraged parents to stay in contact with her and tell her about the child. One of the questions she asked the parents was "What does your child enjoy learning about?." She says that it is easier to teach students when she has this information.

After thinking about my own grade school experiences, I wish my teachers would have sent me a letter. It made me nervous walking into a class not knowing anything about the up coming year. When I begin teaching, I hope that I will be able to use the same approach at the beginning of the school year.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blog assignment #3

Steps to a Good Peer Review

peer review cartoon

Peer reviews are a wonderful way to practice giving constructive criticism to others. As teachers we will be required to do this on a daily basis, so it is important that we learn the correct procedure. In the video "What is Peer Editing" (3:11), and the slideshow "Peer Edit with Perfection Tutorial", three main steps are discussed. These three steps are the foundation to proper teaching and should be utilized.

The first step is "compliment". Start the review with the good aspects of the paper. Tell him/her about specific things that you liked. Was the paper easy to read? Was it interesting?

Next is "suggestions". Give them specific ideas that will enhance the quality of their work. Was a word used multiple times? Could an idea have expressed more clearly?

Last is "corrections". Show them any spelling or grammar errors that were made. Was everything spelled correctly? Was punctuation used correctly?

The most important point to all three steps is to stay positive. Don't point out flaws that don't exist. Show interest in helping each other. Don't force ideas on each. For more helpful tips see the video "Writing Peer Reviews Top 10 Mistakes". (4:01)

Using Technology with Special Needs Students

girl typing at computer
In previous posts I have expressed my view of technology in the classroom. To recap, I think that we are behind the times. Now I get to tell you about some of the ways technology is being used to help special needs students. In the video "Technology in Special Education" (6:40) shows several examples of this technology in a classroom full of students. These children have some type of learning disability or psychical disability that hinder there ability to participate in a normal classroom setting. Technology allows these students to become part of the class, to no longer be an outsider. Computers with text to voice software can enable those with speech impediments to speak. The same type of software can read text to the blind. The video also shows iPods assisting students who's reading level is a little low. An audio book paired with a psychical copy of the book can keep the student engaged. They still read silently to themselves while the audio book confirms the words.

How would I use this technology? I believe most learning occurs when the students is engaged with the subject material. How then do make them engaged? The answer is making the lesson interactive. I think a class chat room would be interesting way ask questions. This would support reading, writing, and the subject you are covering at the same time. A class blog or website with interactive features would also accomplish the same goal at home. Students with speech and writing impediments would be able to join the rest of the class allowing them to have a sense of community.


After watching the video"How the iPad Works for Academics for Autism (5:22) I noticed some things that influence how a child with autism learns. It is important to keep their attention on the subject. The applications on the video show two key things. First was the counting program, the child touched an object on the screen and the iPad counted with him. The child was involved, he wanted to learn. The other was the handwriting application. The father wrote a word on the screen and the child copied it underneath. This has another important part, the father. When parents are able to teach their children it emphases the importance of the material.

I found an application that I believe would be effected for special needs students. The iResponse pro classroom responder system can overcome the speech barriers often found in special needs classrooms. The way it works is the students all have an apple device, and the teacher inputs questions that are transmitted to each student. The students answers the questions, and the results are sent back to the teacher's device, which then shows an overall class score. The teacher will get individual results as well. This program will allow everyone to be able to participate,and let the teacher see who needs extra help.


Vicki Davis: Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts

terraforming mars
In the video Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts (4:49), Vicki Davis discusses the importance of using every form of technology to teach students how to learn. She has her students writing blogs and wikis, teleconferencing in India, and using opensim to teach where anything is possible. Ms. Davis goes on to say that she enjoys teaching new technology to students, it helps them with what is trending. This will allow students to be more adaptable to new technology later.

I agree with Ms. Davis. The more ways we can teach our students the more they will learn. The idea of using opensim is genius, with it teacher and students can travel together to anywhere in the world. The true power though is using a blank world and creating the specific aspects of it to suit your needs. In the video they turned a blank world into a livable world using terraforming. Is terraforming technology? No, terraforming is making a habit more like Earth. Can we terraform in a normal classroom? No, the best we can do is talk about it and maybe draw a picture. I look forward to the future, however we must prepare for it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blog assignment #2

Did you know? A John Strange 2012 version.

In the video "Did you know? A John Strange 2012 version (3:41) " Dr. Strange shares several startling statistics about the future of our students and the technological gap we are facing. Given that the overall population of India and China far exceeds the population of the United States, it is obvious that they will produce more students. The large difference will undoubtedly result in more high achieving students in India and China than the United States. This is not saying that we will not have high achieving students, just that they will have more.

This is similar to the small town high school's football team and the big city school's team. The larger school will have a better team. It's not that the smaller won't practice, it is simply that the larger school will have more selection and be able to pick players more suited to the sport. Therefore, the smaller school will produce one or two "stars", while the larger school will have more. Once these "stars" enter college, then the playing field is level, and they will have to prove themselves to be able to play professionally. The underlying problem here is the jump from high school to college. It will be the coach's job to get the best out of each player using all available tools, no matter the starting size of the school. We must get our students to this next level. We are part of a global community, and we must train accordingly.
Mr. Winkle Wakes by lifelonglearners.

The video Mr. Winkle Wakes (2:51) is about the technology that Mr. Winkle would see if he woke up today. The world is a much different place than it was one hundred years ago. He sees examples global networking and great productivity in a business; and amazing diagnostic and life saving tools in a hospital. Then he goes into a school, and is comforted about the extreme lack of technology. The schools have not changed since he took his nap one hundred years ago.

This is unacceptable. How are we as educators suppose to expect our students to flourish in this modern age if the classroom is not equipped to do so? We must make a change and introduce computers to children, allowing them to experience the world. More importantly teachers need to be able to use not just computers but every technological tool available in our lectures. To surpass the challenges given by today's society, our students must learn more than their previous generation.
Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity

Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson thinks so. In his video The Importance of Creativity (19:21) he talks about how the education system the world over is setup to produce only one kind of student. This "model" student is based on the needs industry, with math and reading taking priority. He goes on to say that the world is changing and we need many different kinds of students if we are to continue to flourish. To prove his point he tells a story about a dancer. This dancer didn't fit the ideal model, she was hyper and didn't do her homework. Her parents took her to a doctor because they feared she had a disorder. After the consultation the doctor asked to speak with her parents alone and on his way out of the room he turned on the radio. Then he asked them to observe their daughter. She was on her feet and dancing to the music. Her parents enrolled her in a London ballet school, and now she is a multimillionaire that has provided entertainment to tens of thousands of people.

Sir Ken Robinson does have a point, students do need to be allowed to express their creativity in the classroom, however I don't think this creativity should be without direction. If we could find a way to allow students to be creative and let that creativity also teach them something, then that would produce a student that will learn the material, not memorize it. Let's say the dancer was put into dance school at the earliest age possible, and all she learned was dance. She still could make millions of dollars, but she wouldn't know that since she can't read her paycheck. She won't be able to read a book, or balance her checkbook, or even check her e-mail. So in short, creativity should not be held in check, but in balance.
The future, the solution, and glass.
The U.S.S Enterprise
The future is bright, the solution is solid, and glass is clear. After watching A Day Made of Glass 2 (5:59)hope has been restored. If this technology is implemented in classrooms the students of tomorrow will be the best in what ever they choose. Glass offers so much, the possibilities are endless. With science, a teacher could do amazing demonstrations, or with the help of the activity table, safely allow students to do experiments. History could literally come alive at museums with glass tablets. Epic battles, speeches, and other events could be seen in first person with the augmented reality feature. Using glass will engage students, no longer will they just hear the teacher lecture, they will become part of it.

What do I think about all of this? I think change is needed. I also think that the more you can involve a child in an activity the more they enjoy it. Glass has the potential to include every student nearly one hundred percent of the time. This will at a minimum allow the teacher to see which areas need to be covered more and which students are having the most difficulty instantaneously. Another thing is the room the doctor uses for the conference call. If each school could have a room like that then classes could go on virtual field trips. If your are studying the planets, and want to go to mars, that would now be possible. I hope that one day I will be able to use this new technology, my only fear is the price. If the cost of glass is to high, then the school systems won't be able to purchase it. So Corning, please don't raise our hopes just to have them dashed due to budget restraints.