Saturday, October 27, 2012

PLN Progress Report

I decided to use "symbaloo" for the hub for my PLN. To date my PLN mostly consists of links to various blogs and websites that have been recommended to me through twitter. Some of my favorite blogs are: cool cat teacher, dangerously irrelevant, and the science fix. I plan on add more blogs to my symbaloo page by researching the blogs that have been promoted on the blogs I already regularly read. Other than blogs I also have some links to the tools that I often use on there as well. I enjoy learning about new tools and the more tools I have the easier my task will be. I expect this group to grow when I begin seeing the need for different tools. The last group is a personal group. These are the links at I try to check at least a few times week because they are either very informative or encouraging or both.

Here is a picture of my symbaloo page so far. The tools I use are in red, the blogs I check the most often are in purple, and some of the blogs that I check weekly are in green. There are some orange colored tiles at the bottom those are specific blog posts that I have found helpful.

Symbaloo page

Blog post #9

Keep clam and pretend it's on the lesson plan
What I have learned.

The first year at a new school is difficult for anyone, especially the teacher. Mr. Joe McClung was no exception to this rule. He shared his reflection in his blog "At the Teacher's Desk" This blog is invaluable to anyone who is about to begin their teaching career.

The first year

Mr. McClung learned a lot during his first year. One thing he learned was to be able to "read the crowd". The most beneficial part to this lesson is to see that a teacher cannot be focused on themselves. The student is the most important person in the classroom. Teachers must be able to decipher their students' reactions and act without any regard to the lesson plan. This lesson ties in with the next which is "be flexible". He remarks that trying to maintain total control in the classroom is harmful to the students. He also states that:"No lesson is ever perfect. The lesson you teach and the one you plan are always different." Next was "be reasonable". High expectations from students are a common thread among teachers. From time to time students don't perform as well as expected. The most dangerous thing to do at this point is to get upset. Don't allow emotions to ruin a classroom setting. "Don't be afraid of new technology." Technology is a tool that must be used if students are to be successful. "Listen to your students." This will build respect between student and teacher. The last point is "never stop learning". The best thing educators can do for their students is to never stop learning. This will allow for a much more engaging experience.

The fourth year

In the fourth year of his teaching Mr. McClung claimed that he didn't learn as much as had in previous years. He said that he spent a large portion of the year worrying about how his peers were viewing him as an educator. He decided that this was the wrong thing to do. He had built a strong relationship with his students, so why should he sacrifice everything that he had accomplished by trying to change his ways? Next he began to talk about challenging yourself. This will ensure that lessons stay fresh and creative. If the lesson plan goes stale the students will no longer be as engaged by the subject material and grades will surely suffer.

The take home message

Why is this blog an important one for educators? Mr. McClung prepares teachers for what lies ahead. He tells his audience that it is ok to be yourself. In fact if you stay true to yourself, the amount the students will learn will increase. To bring this full circle it is the utmost importance that the teachers remember that the student is most important person in the classroom. It is not the teacher, other educators, or even the administration staff. If teachers can hold on to this principle then the classroom will surely become a better place for learning. The last important thing to remember is to be flexible. Teachers cannot exercise too much control over any classroom setting and expect children to learn. The lesson plan must allow for changes that will ensure the maximum amount of learning is achieved.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blog post # 8

dream world
In the video this is how we dream, the imagination is stretched to its limit when one discovers the possibilities of writing with multimedia in the classroom. The video discusses how blogs, youtube, and other websites are changing by making sure the audio experience is as good as the written one. The underlying question is: How are we going to use this technology to better the future for our students? The ultimate advantages are the amount of time it saves the author by being able to be published instantly, and the published work is stored on the internet for as long as hosting site is still operational. The publication can also be read by anyone at anytime.

How can this be used education? How can teachers convince their students and their parents that this is a useful skill? While creativity is very important in any student's academic career, it is not always the most understood. Relevance must seen by all parties for this to succeed. Relevance is not always the same thing to different people. To the parents will have to be shown how writing with multimedia will help their child. The child will have to be shown how it affects them personally. The teacher will need to see the positive effects of this over time.

The solutions to these problems will have to be simple yet complete. The teacher will have the responsibility of making an assignment that allows for two things. The first is the student will have to use a tool to embed a movie, sound clip, or picture into a report. The second is that some of the assignments must be able to do without just copying and pasting already published videos off of youtube, in other words they will have to make a video. An assignment like this will satisfy all three parties involved. The teacher will see higher test scores, the parents will be amazed at the publications and see that their child is learning, and most importantly the student will have fun doing it.


Carly Pugh's Post #12

children singing
Carly's blog post is a simple post on the surface. It is when one dives into the links that the post becomes alive. The videos contained within speak volumes that the written word could not. Each video shows something either to inspire us, or simply remind us of the "same voice, same song." To someone who has never heard this song they wouldn't understand the significance this reference makes, therefore if the link to the song wouldn't have been created the reader would have lost that nugget of information. Dr. Miller's this is how we dream discusses this writing style in great detail. He explains that future publications must meet additional requirements to be valid in today's world. The main one he stresses is that the article in question must be appealing to not only the eyes but also to the ears. Carly's post does all this plus more.


The Chipper Series and EDM 310 for Dummies

chipper's flight school logo
"Keep me posted." These words were spoken by Dr. Strange multiple times in the Chipper Series. Each time he said these words he was watching a student travel farther down a path that was harder than the one she was avoiding. In the beginning of the video it shows her being late on a blog post. Instead of bucking up and doing the assigned work, she quits school and opens a flight school. Granted that is a little extreme, but the point is normally the easiest way out of an assignment or another commitment is by doing it. If the energy Chipper used was put into her assignments and not towards getting out the assignment, she would have passed EDM 310 with flying colors. Chipper did however learn a very valuable lesson. Responsibility and professionalism will be required no matter what one is doing in their life, and without proper preparation life will be very difficult.

EDM 310 for dummies is basically two messages rolled into one. The first is EDM 310 is hard. The second is that there is help. The beginning of the video show two girls breaking keyboards in frustration. Later they learn of the EDM 310 for dummies book and they ordered it right then, not sure if they got free shipping. The book radically transformed their experience. The class was now easier and they were enjoying it. The end of the video showed the phone number to order one of these magical books. The number is also the number is to the EDM 310 helpline. So ask you help, the resulting experience is worth it.


Learn to Change, Change to Learn

an old light bulb and a new light bulb
School as we know it must change. In today's students are beginning to learn more outside of the classroom than they are inside the classroom. How are students doing this? Where is this fountainhead of knowledge? The answer is online. It is through technology that students are being exposed to the information that they want to learn. How can we as educators afford to ban the tools used to provoke this kind of learning?

This has to stop and it has to stop now. The school systems today need a major overhaul in order to keep with tomorrow's demands. Let's use technology in the classroom so that students will learn how to use technology. Let's reinforce the fundamentals through creative outlets such blogs, or a twitter feed, rather than a pencil and a piece of paper. No more blocking social media sites, especially when student can being following tomorrow's historical figures today. Why not follow other important figures as well? Let's follow Einstein in the science classes, Shakespeare in literature, and Euclid in math. In a world so saturated with technology, teachers must begin teaching responsibility in the digital world as well as the real world. The progress of this will directly relate to effectiveness of the internet outlets that the teachers and the students decide to use. It will be the responsibility of everyone to monitor these outlets. The teacher must teach how to validate sources. The students must use their new knowledge to validate these sites. The future is bright. All that is left is for tomorrow society to reach out and take it.


Scavenger Hunt 2.0

The discovery channel's discovery education website has many valuable tools compiled for students and teachers. Here's a few.

Make Belief Comix

This tool allows one to make their own comic strips. Behold this amazing comic!


This tool is really easy to use. It allow for pictures to be put into a video setting. This is basically a highly entertaining slideshow. It also has the ability to put your pictures to music which can make the dullest pictures suddenly come alive. This is a fine example of what an individual can do with this program in about ten minutes.

Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

Poll Everywhere

This tool allows for anyone to create poll questions for free. Here is an example.

The discovery channel's education page has many more cool tools for classroom use. Remember a blacksmith reputation is based on the number of tools he has. Teachers, see if any of these new "hammers" fit your teaching style.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

C4T #2

Mrs. Cofino's class
The teacher I was assigned to was Mrs. Cofino. She is a teacher in Japan. The work she does with technology in the school system is amazing. In the first post "Orientation 2.0" she explains the process of starting the new school year. She knows that each student will have a laptop to use for the rest of the year. Instead of having the teacher explain the functionally of the computers, she uses student leaders. She continues on to say that the student leaders save an enormous amount of time and ensure that everyone is comfortable with their computer.

I commented that I like the student leader idea. They would also prevent a lot of headaches later in the school year. Think about it. If each student receives individual instruction on specific procedures, then everyone will be prepared when those skills are required.

The second post was an expansion on the first. Mrs. Cofino's tech team has begun making more videos and placing them on their new blog. The blog can be found here. The amount of information in this blog is amazing. The keynote videos are extremely useful. She continues on to say that the team is beginning to take on even more responsibility. They are now making videos for teachers and parents. They are also making more tutorial videos to show during their assemblies.

Mrs. Cofino's tech team deserves a lot of praise. They are going beyond the call of duty to ensure that their fellow students are able understand the technology they need. I told Mrs. Cofino this and I also asked her to thank her tech team for me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blog Post #7

The Networked Student

girl downloading files to her brain
The video The Networked Student Wendy Drexler explains to us the function of a personal learning network or PLN. A PLN is a collection of people, websites, and other sources that give information on a subject. The process in which one builds their PLN is simple. First locate a credible source. Next bookmark it on a bookmarking website. Repeat these two step until a fair number of bookmarks are made. Then share the bookmarks with fellow students and see if they have any to offer. Over time this will create a database. This database is only the first part of a student's PLN.

Once the student has spent some time with their database, they can start branching out by blogging. Creating a blog will allow the student to demonstrate their knowledge. They can also subscribe to their classmates blogs or blogs written by experts on the topic of study. This will ensure that they will have the most up to date information available. The student can also post on other blogs. Presenting their findings to others and asking questions will rapidly increase their social skills and knowledge.

Equally powerful is Itunes U. Itunes U is a free service from Apple that provides classes to students via ebooks and podcasts. These classes are recorded by some of the best professors in the world. Students could listen to these lectures anytime. The next question is: where do teachers fit in with all this independent learning? Teachers will be more like tour guides. They will show students how to find credible sources and how to use them. The teacher will also critique the students work and put them back in the right direction.

The networking of a student has the potential to create a learning environment that will surpass even the best classroom. A system that can teach anyone almost anything with such a degree of efficiency is something that is needed today. Why is this system not already in placed in every school today? The tools required are free as long as each student has computer access. The problem is: What happens to the students that are not highly motivated? Networking appears to take an enormous amount of time to setup and maintain. Take a middle school for example. Students go to five or six classes a day. Does the student have to be "networked" into every subject? If not then will they have enough time to attend the other classes and network? Where Itunes U is involved: Will any of these students even be able to understand a college level lecture? Where is the line drawn between being "networked" and being able to be a kid?

The point is the networked student will have to an older student. High school or college students could easily take advantage of this system and excel. If this is introduced to middle school students it may be more effective to have a networked teacher and a class blog. This way the teacher can observe the students more closely to ensure the fundamentals are being learned. The students could still read the blogs the teacher, and other experts have written. Plus they could leave a reply or retell the information on a simpler personal blog.


A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment or PLE

shade tree
The video A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment or PLE shows a how PLE is used daily. The day starts with the student checking their agenda for that day's assignments. Next the student uses various tools such as blogger, google docs, and evernote to begin working. If the students need to work in groups the computers are already connected via google docs. The video also mentions that the students try to have their projects looked over by experts.

The PLE appears to be a sophisticated assignment delivery system. The deliveries go both ways. The teacher sends out assignment via the agenda, and the student sends it back via google docs or a blog post. This is an interesting idea. This form of a PLE is more dilute than the PLN discussed earlier. This means that it will be more effective for younger students. Since the student doesn't have to as much networking; the teacher can begin instructing them on how to begin networking. This will set the stage for more advanced PLEs and PLNs for high school.

There are similarities between this PLE and EDM 310 classes. The checklist used similar to their agenda. Both of these allow the students to decide what they want to do next. The connections to experts both have allow them to learn from the best people possible. Connecting with peers also play an important roles in both classrooms. Even though technology has advanced to point where we can teach ourselves anything, we still need to learn how to play well with others.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Blog Assignment #6

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture.

How can someone describe the importance of Randy Pausch's work, and give due justice? When a man goes as far as using his last days to continue teaching others about life, justice is not obtainable. All we can do is listen to his lessons and take to heart the message he wanted us to hear. The overwhelming theme of his talk was how to live your life by learning from your dreams,helping others achieve theirs, and most importantly have fun doing it.

How did he help others achieve their dreams? He taught them. He allowed them to be creative. He didn't set a bar. He had fun. He taught them by teaching something else that they thought was fun. Dr. Pausch referred to this as a "head fake." No one wants to be forced to learn, the magic happens when students want to learn. This approach will keep the students engaged, and the quality of work they will do will be much better. The Alice program is a perfect example. By allowing students to "play" with this virtual world they will "learn" how to program.

Creativity was also very important to Dr. Pausch. When used correctly, creativity can inspire students to undertake breathtaking feats. In the building virtual worlds class he told his student to make a world. The specifics was completely up to them. After two weeks the students presented their work. The results were so amazing that he had to call his mentor for advice on how to react to this high level of work. The point here is creativity is a force that will drive students to the edge of their limits and beyond. Once students see that they required another piece of the puzzle to complete their picture, they will learn how to acquire it.

The advice Dr. Pausch received from his mentor was "If you set a bar for them, you will be doing them an injustice." This holds true in so many different ways. Setting a bar will allow students to see a finish line. After seeing the results from the first building virtual worlds project, Dr. Pausch told his students "that was good, but you can do better." The projects grew more complex, more puzzle pieces were needed, and most importantly more puzzle pieces were acquired. If the bar had been set as the first project being perfect, would the students have ventured into new territories? Should teachers ever set bars in the classroom? Bars are ceilings, they tell students, this is the top you don't have to go any farther.

What is the easiest thing someone can do to make someone else interested in what they are doing? Have fun doing it. Did Tom Sawyer convince the other kids to paint the fence by saying how hard it was? No, the kids would have left. The point here is find joy in all that you do. Live your life to the fullest and for every second that it has to offer. If your doing good and having fun doing it then the other people in your life: friends, family, and students will follow your lead.

Thank you Dr. Pausch. The life you have led will echo throughout all time. You are an inspiration to millions, and to me. I understand now what it is that I must do. I have to have more fun. I have to stop letting the fear of standing out getting in the way and just do it. I will become a teacher. I will educate the future generations. I will have fun doing it.

Timetoast Project - A Brief History of Computers

Monday, October 1, 2012

C4K September

comment bubble
For my first comments for kids I was introduced to Jacob and Olivia. They are in Mr. Capps' third grade class in Baldwin County. Their post was about the letters they wrote to their friend Tate in Africa. Jacob's letter was more about his hobbies. I decided the best way to get him engaged was to ask him questions about his interests. I asked him about his baseball. He also shared that he had been to Canada and that the weather was hot here because he lives in Alabama. So the logical question to ask him was if it was hot in Canada. Olivia was a little more difficult. She asked Tate a lot of questions. I didn't want answer the questions since didn't feel like it was my place. Instead I focused on the fact she liked chapter books. I asked her to recommend some of her favorites to me. I hope that Mr. Capps can use this information to recommend some books to her. My next post was for Anna. She was sharing her favorite song with the world. Her favorite song was "Strong Enough" by Matthew West. After listening to the song, I was encouraged to do better. If I am going to be a teacher and lead my students I am going to need help. I shared my revelation with Anna. I told her that she was an inspiration. I wanted Anna to see that her words were not falling on deaf ears. I hope this will influence her to continue writing about her passions.