Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Post #16

My Final Reflection

Woman holding a sign
I look back at the If I Built A School blog post and think, "How naive you were." Honestly, it is humorous to me because I remember thinking that I had it figured out. I knew what I wanted to do and I was going to be great at it, or so I thought. I had answered the question, "What Do I Want My Children To Know?" with an answer that merely stated that I wanted them to love learning. However, I never told exactly what that was nor how I was going to get them to do it. Well, I think I am now prepared to state what I would want for them to know in more clearer terms. There is really only one thing that I want my students to learn from me. I want them to know that they have the power to be their own teachers. If I can show them how to find the answers to their own questions, then there is nothing they won't be able to accomplish once they set their minds to it. For example, I like to imagine certain areas of the brain getting stimulated every time they are required to think independently and creatively. I imagine those areas fire off other areas of the brain until the whole brain is alight with creative function. I want for my students to have creative function and freedom to want more knowledge and know where to go to get it.

There are a number of tools that I have learned about this semester that will be great in my future science classroom. The first and most important tools that I will incorporate are computers, iPads, and tablets. I think they are extremely important because they allow students a faster, more efficient medium for learning than the typical classroom textbooks which tend to be boring anyway. I want to have prepared lesson plans on a Google site just as we have learned in EDM310. Students can check on the site so that they can immediately get started on what is expected for the day. I love the idea of making group podcasts using information that is gathered by the students. It is a good way to teach them technology as well as subject content. Another tool I have been pondering is Twitter. I have thought about it being a neat way to get students to answer questions during classroom discussions. Imagine the involvement I would receive when I said, "Okay class. Now, get out your cell phones or tablets and Tweet me your thoughts." I bet that would be the day I would have 100% participation from the class. They might even want to come back the next day too. iMovie and the use of Podcasts is a fun way to get students involved and engaged in their own learning process too. It feels like playing a video game, but teaches better than a lecture. All in all, I say they are winners.

My methods of teaching have changed quite a bit since the writing of the first blog post. I no longer agree with my need to lecture for part of the instructional period. I now realize that there is another method of teaching that can reach people of any intelligence and Project Based Learning is that method. I will create assignments based on student interest in order to ensure proper engagement. I will also include community based assignments such as water quality testing which will make learning both relevant and empowering. If it is found unclean, then students will learn how to take proper steps in getting that water up to EPA standards. They will learn who to contact and what to do to make their voices are heard. It will empower them by teaching them that they can make a difference in the community around them. My plan is to stop testing students in the classroom because I don't feel this is an accurate means to identify knowledge gained. I want to allow them time to research topics, run experiments, create presentations, and then present those presentations to the class as well as others when possible. Then, I should be able to ask questions and give scenarios that they can apply their new information to so that I may properly gauge the knowledge that they gained.

I can't believe that I am about to say this, but I am going to miss this class. I have learned more in this class than I have in most others combined. I think it is because I had to take a proactive step in my own education which has always proven successful to me. One of my favorite assignments was the Randy Pausch Last Lecture assignment. In it, he recommends that we teach our students something difficult by incorporating it into something fun so that they never notice that it is difficult or even that they learned it. I asked Dr. Strange about whether or not he includes a "head fake" in his semester assignments and he said, "of course." Well, I believe I have figured out his head fake, but I wonder... did you?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Post #15

Assistive Technologies Available To Teachers
by Danya Croft, Carla Young, and Nathalie McCarty

Assistive Technologies for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children stresses the importance of allowing students the ability to interact with their environment. In order to do that, it suggests the use of technologies such as:  Text-to-Speech devices, Speech-to-Text devices, talking calculators, iPads, sensory aids, and screen magnifiers.

young girl using a Mountbatten Braille WriterThe Mountbatten Braille Writer is a useful device that allows for audio and tactile feedback by sending and receiving files to and from a computer. A person with visual impairments can input information that needs to be converted to Braille for later reading. It has an audible playback feature and can translate writings into other languages so that teachers/students can read what was written. It allows for full classroom participation from all persons involved.

In Teaching Math to the Blind, Professor Art Karshmer tells of a device that the University of San Francisco has been working on to aid persons with visual impairments. It allows them the ability to see in their mind's eye the way a math problem should be set up in order to properly solve it. He explains that Braille is too linear to show the 2 to 3 dimensions associated with mathematics; it is the reason people with blindness find it difficult to go into the fields of mathematics, engineering, technology, and computer science. The device consists of a touchpad and wooden blocks with Braille writing on the top and a bar code on the bottom. When the wooden block is placed on the touchpad, it describes to the listener what block was inserted and where it was placed so that the problem can be properly arranged and solved. It allows for persons with visual impairments the freedom to work on math problems and perceive that information better than by linear Braille alone. Those with visual impairments can especially attest to the statement, "Mathematics: The Mother of Science & The Bane of The Blind." 

iPad app for impairments with speechThe videos iPad Usage For the Blind and Teaching Mom What Her Deaf/Blind Child Is Learning On the iPad demonstrate the freedom that iPad usage can give people with visual impairments. VoiceOver is an Apple app that reads what is being presented on the screen of an Apple device such as the iPad. It can read homepages, books, and even describe images shown. VoiceOver allows the ease of moving your finger across the screen to read the names of the apps so that you know where the app is that you want to use. Kindle and other eReaders do not offer an app that can compare to this.

Some helpful blogs to help in classroom technologies can be found in 50 Must-See Blogs For Special Education. It can help teachers find ways to allow equal opportunity for everyone in their classrooms. For example, the blog Assistive Technology shares information regarding technologies such as IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard System, MimioTeach Interactive Whiteboard, and Co:Writer App for IOS. These technologies help children with impairments thrive in the classroom because it allows them a more interactive approach that is catered to their personal needs. Another blog, Teacher Sol, is from an Exceptional Needs Specialist who shares updates on what is going on in her classroom. Maria Angala fights a near constant battle so that she may have a small part in improving special education. She shares ideas that teachers could try in hopes of creating an environment where everyone can learn.

Algebra Touch is an app used on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad that can be helpful in the secondary mathematics classroom and costs only $2.99. This app can be used by students with visual or hearing impairments as well as students with learning disabilities. It allows students the ability to rearrange numbers by dragging, simplification by tapping, and elimination of terms by drawing lines. Students can switch between lessons and get additional practice through randomly-generated practice problems. They are able to create their own set of problems to work in the equation editor, and have them appear in other devices via iCloud.

keyboard with a handicap logoiLab Central is a website that offers virtual mathematics and science labs that can be performed by students in the classroom. It can be used Mac computers as well as iPads and costs nothing. Coupled with VoiceOver, students with visual or hearing impairments can benefit from information learned while getting the hands-on experience of lab work without the added cost of materials and supplies. An example of a Physics lab is the Dynamic Signal Analyzer; this lab allows students the ability to perform frequency measurements on electric currents and control current systems. Investigating the Safety of Nuclear Energy Using Real Radioactivity Data is a Chemistry lab that, "Investigates nuclear energy, storage of nuclear waste, and the controversy surrounding using nuclear power as a source of energy for our country." Radiation and Cancer: Cure or Cause? is a Biology lab that teaches students about radiation and how it can be used as a therapy for cancer, and also a cause for cancer.

iSpeech is an app offered by Apple that turns text into audible speech. It can be used on iPads, iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers and is absolutely free of charge. The purpose of iSpeech is to help students or teachers who may have a speech impediment or impairment. The speech quality is compared to that of a live person. There are a variety of voices that can deliver speech in many different languages and it converts quickly.

Picture of a Soundbeam 5
One might say that a music teacher is limited when it comes to assistive technology, but that is actually not true. One new invention that is used is the Soundbeam. What is the Soundbeam? Well, Soundbeam can be compared to a metronome in the way that it gives off sound. It can be used for mainstream students as well as students with limitations such as autism. The cost of the Soundbeam ranges from $3,500 - $5,400. This device is a ultrasonic beam that senses movement and responds through a MIDI sound effect. Its motion sense ranges from a eyebrow movement to a wheelchair moving across a room allowing students to not only be present in the room but interactive. The true beauty of the Soundbeam is that the Obama economic stimulus funds a sizeable amount for training and use of the device.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blog Post #14

Incorporating Learning Styles in the Classroom

Multiple Intelligences banner

What does it mean to know that people learn well in different ways? Multiple intelligence is the concept that a person's intelligence is measured and based on the strengths found in the different areas of learning. For example, one of the ways that I learn well is to talk to myself or others when I am trying to learn something difficult.  I may come across a little crazy when I do this, but it works for me so I don't mind. I have even described certain processes of embryonic development to my boys while studying for an exam. Sure, they looked at me in complete confusion and clearly never understood a word I said.  Luckily, I knew what I was saying and speaking it aloud enabled me to recall the information better. I think this way helps me due to my ability to remember conversations. I, however, have not always been this way. When I was younger, I was mostly a visual learner. If you had tried to read a story to me, it would have been in one ear and out of the other before I ever had time to process it. Instead, I had to read it for myself or see it in action before I could retain the information. I was also pretty good at picking out patterns in math problems in order to figure out how to solve them.  Even though I learned little from listening, I never felt unintelligent because of it.  I guess I knew the areas in which I was strong and used those to help in areas where I was lacking.

In The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, Howard Gardner explains, "Multiple Intelligence is a theory that was developed to document the fact that human beings have very different kinds of intellectual strengths and that these strengths are very, very important in how kids learn, in how people represent things in their minds, and how people use it in order to show what it is that they have understood."  If there were only one type of intelligence then there would be no need for more than one style of learning.  Nonetheless, we know there are many types of intelligence which require different approaches in order to learn effectively.  Gardner has spent much of his life researching multiple intelligence and has listed them as follows: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical, and naturalistic.

A pie chart of different intelligences
The multiple intelligence characteristics that I am going to provide are general and may vary from person to person.  The visual-spatial learner is likely to learn best when there is visual stimulation providing information.  They tend to be very good at conjuring mental images and had rather read instructions than hear them.  The verbal-linguistic learners often learn best by listening to the spoken word or hearing themselves speak.   They can also learn well in environments where they are able to converse with others.  Logical-mathematical learners do best when they can recognize an order or pattern in a task.  They tend to love numbers and solving problems through the use of logic.  Some learners do best in environments where they are allowed to learn through hands-on activities.  They are called bodily-kinesthetic learners.  They do well when their assignments can be physically manipulated.

Musical learners tend to learn well in environments that allow them to express themselves through music or dance.  They are also very likely to remember information when it is delivered to them through a rhythmic beat or song.   Learners who are interpersonal tend to be very outgoing; we usually describe them as having never met a stranger.  They love working with people and truly understand the meaning of good communication.   Intrapersonal learners are very in touch with their own thoughts and feelings.  They are likely to learn well by themselves and are capable of reflecting within themselves to gauge their own progress.  A naturalistic leaner is one who is highly aware of the natural world around them.  They are usually very knowledgeable in topics related to nature and love spending time outdoors.

What does this mean for the students in our future classrooms and how will we ensure that all students learn well?  Since we know that there are 8 ways in which a person can learn well, we can assume that there will be more than one learning style in our classroom.  I believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to get to know the students and how they learn.  We need to talk with them and ask them questions so that we can get to know what it is that sparks their interest.  It might be a good idea to use the first day of school gauging students' curiosities and testing them to find out where their talents lie.  Another thing we should consider is how we structure and conduct our classroom.  We need to offer multiple ways of providing instruction to our students.  For example, maybe we could organize the students into groups based on their learning styles.  Those that like to work in groups could discuss assignments with each other to help the verbal-linguistic learners as well as the interpersonal learners.  Visual-spatial, logical-mathematical, and bodily-kinesthetic learners could perform experiments via computer apps that would provide mechanical approaches and allow them to see the assignments in action.  They could strategically manipulate variables in order to identify patterns to gain further understanding and logical reasoning.  Musical learners could use information related to the assignments to create a stories through songs or movements.  They could record themselves using an iPad and post it to the class blog for others to view.  Naturalistic learners could learn through projects pertaining to nature and even be given time to do assignments outside whenever possible.  Intrapersonal learners could be allowed freedom to read and work in a quiet place alone or however they best internalize new information.  All learners can benefit from the use of multimedia tools.  However, it is the responsibility of the teacher to research ways in which to incorporate them into the classroom.  I feel that creating a personalized lesson plan is the best way to engage students and teach them what it means to be active and lifelong learners.

Here is an Intelligence Test so that you can find out how you learn well.  When you are finished, please let me know how you did.

What is your learning style? 

Friday, November 22, 2013

C4T #4

C4T #4 Summary #1 - How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension?

stack of books and an ereader
John Jones says that although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular. The ready availability of mobile, connected devices like smartphones and tablets, along with dedicated ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, have moved electronic reading out from behind a desk into the environment. This change has brought increasing attention to the differences between reading in print and reading via digital devices. Studies have been done to determine if students learn more from a printed textbook or a digital book. In one study of Norwegian 10th graders, participants were asked to answer a series of questions on a computer after reading either a PDF or a printout of a four page document. Both groups were able to consult the document while answering questions, but the students in the PDF group were unable to search their digital texts for answers, and when answering the questions had to switch between the PDF and quiz windows on their computer screens. Students with paper handouts, in contrast, were able to access their handouts while answering the quiz on the computer, glancing between the two. Here, the inability to search the text limited one of the main navigational features of digital texts, and the researchers themselves suggest that having to use the same screen to scan the text and answer questions may have impaired the PDF group. In the second study, from 2005,university students were given comprehension tests after reading either a printed document or a PDF on a low-resolution (800x600) monitor. In this study, the PDF group scored lower on reading comprehension while also reporting greater stress and tiredness. As with the previous study, this study did not test for reading comprehension of spatially fixed paper texts versus scrolling digital text or for comprehension of long texts. It is likely, the low resolution monitors—which were likely unable to show an entire page of the reading at a time—may have interfered with the students comprehension.

C4T Comment #1

I think you have made an interesting observation and believe that this it is worth looking in to. I am of the opinion that one can be just as good as the other. As for myself, I prefer printed books simply because I love the feel and the smell of the pages. I love feeling the hardback cover in my hands while I flip from page to page allowing my mind to go further into the fantasy world in which I am reading. I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see that I am almost finished with the book (although I tend to sadden because my reading experience will soon be over). However, I see and have experienced some of the advantages that the digital readers provide. One of which would be the built in dictionary. I love that when I don't know the definition to a word, I can tap on it to have the meaning instantly appear. With a printed book, I would have to either go to a computer or whip out my paperback dictionary. I also think that the ereader is much easier to hold and transport. Whenever I read a larger book, I have to manually hold the book open in order to keep the pages from closing in on itself. One more advantage that the ereader has is that it has a built in lighting system. You can read long after the sun has gone down without added use from a lamp. In the case of the Norwegian 10th graders, I feel that this test is somewhat biased in that it gives the students with the PDF an unfair advantage due to having no reason to switch between programs. The PDF students are given a printed handout as well as a computer (2 items) to answer the quiz questions. However, the students with a digital copy were only given the computer (1 item). To me, it would have been more telling if both were given a computer as well as a digital copy on a tablet or a PDF hard copy. That would have freed up the students enough to tell whether the digital copy or the printed copy were the easiest to understand and sift through.

C4T #4 Summary #2 - Beyond the MOOC: ‘Reclaim Open Learning’ Winner Jaaga, A Creative Community Space

Aerial view of the Jaaga courtyard
Liz Losh shares about a visit to Bangalore, India.  She interviewed team members from Jaaga, toured the site, and dropped in on a raucous Maker Party sponsored by Mozilla.  She shares that Jaaga is a community space designed to act as a learning space for entrepreneurs, designers and online learners.  "It features a cafĂ©, vertical garden, solar-powered sound system, and rack-supported building elements."  Jaaga has expanded to offer Jaaga Study, which allows students in India to take advantage of courses produced by elite institutions in the United States that promotes project-based learning. To students from India, this American-style remote learning can be more difficult due to deadlines that conflict with festivals, family responsibilities, and involvements.  However, Jaaga provides a place where students can go to learn through social interaction instead of the repetitive question-and-answer format style.  Losh told of another student who expressed the need for encouragement, mentorship, and real-world experience in regards to software development.  Jaaga has been a huge help in providing him with more of these experiences even though it isn't as up to date as he would like.  "Jaaga is not afraid to admit that they face many obstacles in piloting a totally different model of education."  Some people have also been working on a sustainable funding model to enable students to pay nothing before they see the value of their learning experience, although it might be difficult to enforce a pay-afterwards policy with those who land higher earning jobs.  Although they acknowledge that many of the participants are much more affluent and educated than the typical Indian citizen desiring more from higher education, they are hopeful that variants of the Jaaga model could be piloted at other sites around the country.

C4T #4 Comment #2

I think that India is on its way to creating an excellent model for what education should be like for countries all around the world.  We should be engaging students in the content that they can learn from, not boring them with the rituals of question-and-answer only sessions.  I think that the creation of Jaaga has given students an environment that promotes learning and social interaction that is beneficial to any type of learner.  Jaaga may still face many obstacles in piloting a totally different model of education, but think that would true anywhere there is true innovation and reformation.  I applaud them on their efforts and hope that they continue to strive for the betterment of the country that they serve.  As for Liz Losh, great job on your research.  I can't wait to read your next post on this continued topic.

Project #12B

SMARTboard Tutorial: Delivering A Lesson via the SMARTboard

Monday, November 18, 2013

Project #2b

PLN Final Report

Symbaloo EDU is a tool that I have grown to love. I am always on the lookout for a tool that I will be able to use effectively in my future classroom. My plan is to keep this as my desktop so that I will have most of the tools I need at a 'clicks' notice. I am a secondary biology education major and would love for anyone to email or tweet me suggestions on websites or apps that could help me. I thank you in advance.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog Post #13

Shukla Bose: Teaching One Child At A Time
by Danya Croft

Picture of Shukla Bose
In Teaching One Child At A Time, Shukla Bose explains the importance of focusing on one child at a time. It is important for us to stop getting bogged down in numbers when we see the many children that need our assistance. Instead, we should focus our energy on the smaller picture and know that eventually it will have an affect on the bigger one. She explains that when she first began researching the education of the poor, she and a few friends toured the slums of India and came across 200 million children who were not currently in an education program. She couldn't believe that so many children were going uneducated and wondered how she could make a difference in their lives. She spoke of starting the school Parikrma Humanity Foundation so that she could focus on treating each child as an individual and give them an education that would help them better their futures. She said that the myth that Indian parents of children in the slums do not care about education and that they simply want to use their children to help with work is complete hogwash. In fact, she said that these parents make up most of the support staff at the school which is more parental participation than schools of privilege experience. At first, these parents had to sign their names using their thumbprint because they were unable to sign their own name, but are now able to because their children have taught them. Shukla said, "It is more important to create an environment of learning, of inquiry, and of exploration because that is true education." She believes that the children are more confident in the things they do because they feel empowered. We need to teach one child at a time and stop worrying about the numbers.

Shukla is absolutely correct in that we can get overwhelmed when we start looking at the number of students we will come in contact with over the period of a year. However, the feelings of being overwhelmed can lessen when we can take the time to treat each student as an individual. We need to pay attention to the small changes that we will be partially responsible for so that it can inspire us to continue forward. The important thing to remember is that we need to provide each student with an environment that will promote free and abstract thinking, communication and collaboration with others, and a driving question that will engage and encourage them to seek action.

Shane Koyczan: To This Day… for the bullied and beautiful
by Carla Young

Picture of Shane Koyczan
In To This Day…for the bullied and beautiful, Shane Koyczan gives an inspiring performance of the poem he wrote. His poem introduces a message to the audience that expresses the feelings of many students that seem to go unnoticed only too often. He lyrically expresses that many students, much like himself, feel as if they are not being taught in school to embrace what they want to be “when they grow up.” Instead, their parents, peers, and even teachers are constantly telling them that they need to be someone or something else. This can cause children to not only act out in school, but also their motivation to decline. Students need to be inspired and constantly encouraged to follow their dream. It is our jobs as teachers to do just that while also helping guide them in the right direction towards the steps necessary for them to achieve those dreams. Koyczan’s words brought me back to Sir Ken Robinson’s points made in the video, How to Escape Education’s Death Valley. Every student is different and may not desire to be a doctor or a lawyer. We must teach our students based on their individual learning needs. Every student is unique in the way they learn and what interests them. Each student’s dreams or aspirations are unique.

Shane Koyczan has put a message out there I believe everyone should hear. Instead of teaching our students how they can “better” themselves or change what they aspire to be, we should inspire them to keep working toward their goal. Students need encouragement and inspiration to get the reassurance they need to know that what they are and aspire to be in the future is their choice. Koyczan made a valid point in his poem, how can a student have confidence and feel like they are doing right when they are constantly being told they are wrong? We must remember that we are here to guide them, educate them, and always inspire them, but never to change them.

Alison Gopnik: What do babies think?
Nathalie McCarty

Picture of Alison Gopnik
In What do babies think?, Alison Gopnik catches her audience’s attention by giving an example of how a baby’s train of thought might work. As she explains the experiment, she states how the babies are persuaded and how their different ages play a factor in this experiment. This then poses the questions of “Why do children learn so much” and “How do they learn so much?” Well, like animals, babies go through learning phases which include the transitions from dependence to independence. In other words, it shows us how we as a species influence our own educational patterns. She then states that like scientists, children learn things by a series of hypothesis and investigation (testing). Babies are more willing to test out new things, because they have not yet experienced their limitations. Gopnik states that children are perhaps more conscious than adults, because as adults we tend to focus on what is important as opposed to other supporting details. In contrast, children do not focus on one thing but many things. They have a wider range of curiosity and are constantly learning. We definitely agree with Gopnik in that, we as adults should constantly try to learn more and influence each other in a more positive way. A wider range of interest can allow us as a species to advance and break old habits that we commonly use in education and everyday life. Everyone should consider themselves to be lifelong learners, but as adults, we are more capable of influencing those around us. Constantly striving to inspire your peers and those around you has the ability to set off a chain reaction. If you can inspire one person to broaden their horizons and look outside of the educational norm, then the possibilities are endless.

November C4K

C4K #9 Summary - The Best Day of My Holiday

Happy Birthday cupcakes
On the holidays, October 10th Thursday it was my Birthday. I woke up in the morning and I walked into the bathroom to wash my face forgetting that it was my birthday. Suddenly from out of nowhere my cousins yell, "Happy Birthday Tana!" I was so excited. My cousins took me to play paint ball. My brother bought me a Rabbitohs jersey. My Uncle gave me money and my favourite. My Parents bought a massive feed. After all they sang the birthday song for me and we ate all together after. It was one of the best days of my life. The things that I like about my writing is that I'm using speech marks and my sentences are making sense. My goal for my writing is having interesting vocabulary words and showing not telling.

C4K #9 Comment

I think it is cool that you are doing this in the 7th grade. I think you did a really good job on your post. You described your best day and I have got to say that it sounded like a really great one. I used to enjoy birthdays too until the number started getting a little bit too big. I am now 35 and have a son in 8th grade and another son in 6th grade. I think it is really important for you to keep striving to better your writing no matter how old you are. The more you work on it, the better you will get. If you want to start incorporating a broader range of vocabulary, you might want to look into getting a thesaurus. They are extremely helpful when trying to use a diverse vocabulary. Another helpful tip that I use when writing is that I proofread everything that I write. I want to make sure I have capitalized what needs to be and used proper punctuation. I feel proud of my work when I know everything is how it should be. You should try it too. Although, don't think me ignorant if you see a word that isn't spelled as you are used to. I have noticed that we spell words a little differently. However, that is one of my favourite (we spell it favorite) parts about reading blogs from across the world. I get to see the variations. If you ever want to check out my blog, you can visit it at I send you best wishes with all that you do.

C4K #10 Summary - November Is Family Blogging Month

I was assigned the famous Mrs. Yollis this week and I will say that she has been an inspiration to the EDM 310 as well as classrooms all over the world. When visiting the class blog, you can see that blogging has had a huge impact on the education of her students. They have gotten so good at writing that you can hardly tell that it came from a 3rd grader; it reads as if an adult wrote the comment. A few of the students from Mrs. Yollis' class got together to create a video detailing what it takes to make a quality comment.

In this podcast, Mrs. Yollis demonstrates how to navigate through the blog page and how to leave a comment for the class or respond to another comment.

C4K #10 Comment

Dear Mrs. Yollis,

My name is Danya and I live in Mobile, AL. I am in Dr. Strange's class at the University of South Alabama. Dr. Strange told us about how much he enjoyed visiting with all of you. He even has the pictures and a new blog post to prove it. I watched the video of your students explaining the proper techniques of writing a quality post and think that they did a fantastic job. It astounds me when I think of 3rd graders doing the same work that I am doing in college. I think it is a wonderful thing to get students involved in the world of blogging. I have just begun and am finding that it is fun and informative. I have learned so much through the posts that I have written, the comments that I have received, and the posts that I have read from others. I love how blogging enables you to communicate with people from all over the world. It tears down the walls of the regular classroom in order to make way for a sort of global classroom. For your students, what are some of the things they have learned through blogging? What other 21st Century skills are incorporated into your classroom?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blog Post #12

What can we learn from Sir Ken Robinson?
- by Carla Young and Danya Croft

Picture of Sir Ken Robinson
In Changing Education Paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson gives us insight as to why he believes our educational system is set up the way that it is. He reminds us of the Enlightenment Period and the Industrial Revolution when education was all about training children in subjects that would help them in future industrial businesses. During this time, the main foci of education was to prepare children to take over the economy and to maintain a sense of cultural identity while being a part of the cultural circle. The same might be said for education today, because there hasn't been a dramatic change in the years and years since the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the world has changed in so many ways that we should be shocked and ashamed at how slow the reformation in our educational system has been. Our children are living in a time when there is so much technological stimuli, yet we continue to force them to sit in a classroom where the teacher does the bulk of the talking while telling students to "sit down and be quiet."

Sir Robinson rightfully argues that education should be about more than a means to drill mathematics, language, and humanities into the heads of children; it should be based on the individualized learning process of the child. What is that child good at? Where do his/her talents originate? He believes that we should foster the creativity within each child rather than dismissing it because it doesn't coincide with the one-answer mindset that we have grown to accept. He once stated about education, "It should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that put less emphasis on standardized testing and giving the responsibility for defining the course of education to individual schools and teachers." We agree that true intelligence comes from the ability to see more than one answer; he calls it divergent thinking. Does our current education system foster divergent thinking or do the standardized tests help prove that our true way of thinking is static and closed minded? We believe that Robinson is absolutely correct when he said that we need to change the way we view education. We need to understand that intelligence and academic intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Some children may have strengths in other areas such as music, art, drama, as well as street and social acuity. What does this mean for teachers? We need to get to know our students so that we may find the areas of their intelligence and allow them to blossom in ways that parallel with their talents as opposed to ways that cancel them out.

Albert Einstein quote
In How to Escape Education’s Death Valley, Sir Ken Robinson raised many valid points about students today and how they interact in the classroom. He explains that he believes there are three main principles that make the population flourish. The first is that humans are different by nature. Therefore, the curriculum should be designed to meet the needs of all students and include an equal mixture of all subjects. Robinson explains the importance of the students being not only exposed to main subjects, such as Math and Sciences, but also the Arts and Physical Education. Although it is important for the students to learn these core subjects, not every student is going to be as receptive to the same subject. He explains that it has been proven that the Arts not only improve Math scores, but also motivate students in other areas that are usually not triggered by normal everyday methods in the classroom. Sir Ken Robinson stated that he did not agree with the thought believed today that there is an ADHD epidemic among students, but that instead students are spending so much time sitting in a desk, listening to lectures, and taking notes that they are losing focus and having trouble putting their energy into what they are learning. One major point made by Robinson was the flaws in the No Child Left Behind Legislation. Robinson explains the irony in the title in that it actually leaves millions of children behind. In America, 80% of children drop out of high school for various reasons. Some are not interested in what they are learning in the classroom and many fall so far behind, they tend to give up. With No Child Left Behind, these children who fall behind are still moved along to the next grade and eventually fall even more behind. Robinson explains the very narrow spectrum created to grade and test students on is realistically ineffective, because again, not every students is the same or learns the same as the next. Trying to grade every student or expect every student to learn by the same standard is creating stress and puts pressure on the students, which eventually distract from the actual learning itself.

The second principle is curiosity. Robinson believes that children are natural learners, and if you can spark a student’s curiosity, they will learn more independently. Robinson explains that teachers are the backbone for schools. It is a teacher’s job to take that natural instinct students have to want to learn and find what will keep their attention and their curiosity going. Once you get the student interested in what they are learning, they will keep wanting to learn more and can become more independent learners. Robinson explains, that teachers are not only there to relay information to students from a book, but it is also the duties of the teacher to mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage. That is the difference between a teacher and a GREAT teacher. We really liked the statement Robinson made, “The whole point of education is to learn.” This statement really caught our attention and we believe it really hits the nail on the head. At the end of the day, all the lectures, all the notes, and all the homework assignments mean nothing if the students did not actually learn something. If the students are not learning something then it is because, “teachers are engaged in the task of teaching, but not actually fulfilling it.” He believes that testing has a role in the classroom, but should not be the default for grading the level students are at.

The third, and last principle, is creativity. Creativity has a hand in almost every task humans participate in everyday. Creativity is an important thing for teachers to not only bring into the classroom, but to also bring out of their students. However, in today’s education, we do not have any systems to spark and encourage student’s creativity. Instead, we have standardized tests that tell students where they should all be on the average scale. Robinson compares American schools to schools in Finland. He explains that in Finland and other places in the world, schools do not have a high dropout rate, because when a student falls behind or needs extra help, others pull together to help catch that student up to speed. They also have individualized learning plans in place. Students are not all taught by the same system. The are customized to appeal to the students’ curiosity, individuality, creativity, and to spark that natural instinct to want to learn more. This is also a contributing factor in the lower dropout rate. Sir Ken Robinson’s video was very eye opening and proposed many valid points we believe everyone should hear. Investing in our students’ future means doing our part as teachers to constantly strive to spark the creativity and curiosity in students to make them want to keep learning more.  It also means having the support from our schools to provide us with the means to do so. Investing in the future of our students is an investment every school should make. These children are our future lawyers, doctors, governors, and teachers. It is our job to provide them with the tools and knowledge needed to succeed beyond the four walls of the classroom.

A young girl drawing a picture of God
In The Importance of CreativitySir Ken Robinson shares a very real depiction of how children are willing to try new things without fear of embarrassment or failure.  Can you remember a time when you felt that sense of liberation?  It was likely when you were a small child.  However, as you got older, you had parents or teachers telling you that your dreams and imaginations are unrealistic and improbable.  We are still doing this today.  We are telling our children that they shouldn't color outside of the lines because that isn't the way they are supposed to do it.  Well... who says?  In restricting our children, we are squandering the precious creativity that will make our world a more fun and dynamic place.  If it weren't for creativity, we would not have the comforts that we have grown to know and love.  We wouldn't have thought of ways to travel 60 miles per hour, talk to someone 2,000 miles away, or perform astronomical equations in a matter of microseconds.  We know that children have an extraordinary ability to learn and education is supposed to be the difference that makes our futures better, so perhaps we should change the way we perceive education.  Perhaps we should stop educating the creativity out of our children and start encouraging their creativity to run rampant.  Robinson described intelligence in three words:  interactive, dynamic, and distinct.  He said, "Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not because the thing they were good at in school wasn't valued."  He is absolutely right in that we have completely undervalued the importance of creativity and in doing so, left children with the feeling of inadequacy.  So a final thought, how will you educate in your future classroom?  Will you stifle the creativity out of your students or will you allow them to flourish in the ways they were meant to?   

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Project #15

Project-Based Lesson Plan #3

Students collecting water samples
Mrs. Croft's Lesson Plan #3

Just how important is the quality of water in the areas surrounding our community?  Throughout the past few years, we are seeing some of the affects that poor water quality can have on our wildlife, plant life, and other biological and ecological systems. What can we do to test whether or not our water bodies are in need of environmental intervention and will our voices be heard if we determine there is a need?  In this lesson plan, we will research pollution, perform tests, and make observations on water collected at a local water source.  Since organisms can have different tolerances for pollution, we will gather and collect a variety of invertebrates and macroinvertebrates so that we may further deduce the water quality from our local source.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Blog Post #11

Technology in the Classroom:  A Quest for Better Learning

Information pouring out of a laptop
In Little Kids...Big Potential, students explain what it is like to learn in Mrs. Cassidy's first grade classroom. It is very evident while watching this video that these students love using the 21st Century Skills that we are learning so much about in EDM310. They have learned to contribute to a blog, research the web, create wikis, and Skype with others. These first graders are able to learn spelling and reading through regular blog, wiki, and web-based experiences. The students can agree that one of their favorite parts about online participation is the responses they receive from their families, friends, and mentors. In my opinion, these are excellent ways to get students engaged in active learning as well as enlighten them to the power their thoughts and words can have on others. If you are anything like me, you are amazed at the capabilities of these little youngsters. As Anthony Capps said in the Project-Based Learning Interview, "When we create an opportunity for students to go beyond where we want them to go, they will." In other words, we should never underestimate what our students are capable of no matter what their age because they are capable of more than we realize.

Kathy Cassidy gives us some great advice as to why technology is so important in the classroom in her interview with Dr. Strange Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. One of the first things that she recommends is that teachers should always be on the lookout for new technologies to incorporate into the classroom curriculum. If you are unsure on what technology to start with, start with what you or your students are interested in. She says, "If you like videos then start with YouTube. If you like photography then use Flickr. If you like writing then blogging might be the way to go." The main point that she seems to be making is to start small and branch out from there. She correctly states that technology is a large part of the world in which these kids have grown; it is what they know and love. As teachers, we need to figure out how to harness this power and stop handicapping our students by denying what we know to be true.

Scribbling of students love technology
When I first started taking EDM310, I didn't think about the use of computers or technology other than maybe the occasional research assignment. I pretty much disregarded the importance of using it in the classroom. My opinions about so much have changed in the short few weeks since the start of this semester. Today, I can say with near certainty that my future students will want to thank the powers that be for changing my mind in regards to that nonsense. I can now think of so many ways to use what I have already learned. For example, I will no doubt use Google Docs, Google Sites, iCurio, and Blogger in the classroom on a regular basis. Blogging can provide the students a real, authentic audience with which to share things that they learn and question. In turn, the students can be rewarded with connections and knowledge through responses from people all over the world. I feel that blogging can encourage the involvement of parents/guardians in the learning process which might lead to greater student success in the classroom. Since I am a mother of two teenage boys, I understand how difficult it is to keep up with what students are doing. However, if they were to keep a class blog, I would be able to check up on what they were learning and how they were progressing at my own convenience.

There is one concern that I have when I think about my future classroom and that is whether or not I will have parental and administrative support. I realize that I don't necessarily need support from outside of my classroom, but I feel that it would be a more successful experience if I were to have it. My plans to better my chances of getting external support or at least cooperation from parents and administrative staff is to have a definitive plan on my use of technology and an explanation as to how it will benefit each student. I will attempt to inform and convince everyone of the advantages that only technology can provide. I realize now why Dr. Strange has had us keep a list of our Personal Learning Network (PLN). He is trying to provide us the support and resources we will need to get us started, but it is up to us to continue it after we have finished with this class. A final thought: We are learning to be teachers so that we can make a difference in the lives of the students we will come in contact with. However, what good will we be to them if we don't commit to being lifelong learners ourselves? We should constantly strive for the betterment of ourselves and our students. We will only succeed in teaching by being the example that these students can learn from.

Friday, November 1, 2013

C4T #3

C4T #3 Summary #1 - Belonging in the Primary Classroom

classroom desks overturned on the floor
In Belonging in the Primary Classroom, Henrietta Miller writes of an experiment where she tested her students to see how they would react when they weren't offered perfect order in the classroom. She wanted to see what would happen when they didn't have a properly arranged room with desks lined up in neat rows and stationary ready to use. While the students are at recess, she proceeds to "rearrange" the room by overturning some desks and hiding others, scattering students' belongings all over the floor, and making the room look like an utter disaster zone. She describes the students' reactions by saying that they ranged from shock and horror to absolute hilarity. Some of the students rushed to where their seat normally sat to see if "their area" had been affected. Others started picking up fallen desks in order to get the room back the way it was supposed to be. Henrietta spoke on noticing how it appeared that the students tried to create order in "their" section of the classroom. After a while, she asked the class to sit even though she knew some were going to have to sit on the floor. She allowed them time to discuss their feelings regarding what had happened and for the most part, the class voiced that they wanted and needed order in the classroom. They also said they needed to know that there was an area in the classroom that they could claim as their own. Their responses have made her wonder, "Is the transition from primary to secondary hard for many students because they have no sense of desk or table ownership?" She says that she intends to delve deeper to find out if it is true.

C4T #3 Comment #1

I have never before thought to wonder about a student's personal space in the classroom. That will have me pondering for a while. I hope to become a secondary teacher in a couple of years so this will be something that I can't wait to read about later. It makes me wonder if having a sense of ownership and pride in the area that they claim as theirs will have an effect on what they accomplish in the classroom. We don't realize just how much of an impact our surroundings can have on our mood and ability to perform. In my own house, I feel as if I can think much more clearly when it is organized and clean. If it gets messy and unorganized, I feel like I can't keep my mind on my work because I have so much to distract me. I can only imagine that it would be the same thing in the classroom. It might be a telling experiment to try to put half of the classroom in disarray while leaving the other half in perfect order. You would be able to see quickly if there is a correlation between the two. I can't wait to see what other things you learn with these experiments.

C4T #3 Summary #2 - A Week of Awards

Picture of Henrietta Miller
In Henrietta's A Week of Awards, she shares that she has had an amazing week due to being awarded the NGS Super Scholarship for 2013 as well as being one of the 2013 Outstanding Professional Service Award recipients. She shares all of this with her readers because she wants to show them how easy it is to get grants, scholarships, and opportunities that can help in the classroom. She says, "All I did was develop an idea and write an application in which I described my plan." She also shares with us that with enough hard work and determination, we could be recognized by mentors and institutions that will open doors for our learning and betterment of education.

C4T #3 Comment #2

Congratulations on all of your success. I can tell by the thought behind your posts that you care about the students in your classroom. I can tell that you want nothing but the best for each one which is what makes you strive to find ways to make their learning experiences better. I am sure that is what others see in you and why you have been honored with such prestigious awards. Again, congratulations!

October C4K

C4K #5 Summary - Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind bookcover
In Carson Pickle's Blog, he describes a dream in which he was a hockey player. He said that he would need to practice and work hard in order for that dream to become a reality. Carson was asked by the teacher, "Why do you think it is hard for teachers to stay with Melody and her class?" and "Why do you think the episode with Mrs. Billups is important to the story as a whole?" Carson's reply was that it is hard to stay with them because of their many different disabilities. He said he didn't know why the episode with Mrs. Billups was important to the story.

C4K #5 Comment

I think you did an good job on writing your sentences. I can tell that you must be an intelligent young man. I think that it is great that you understand that practice and hard work will make your dreams come true; you are absolutely right about that. Also, you wrote that the teachers have a hard time staying with Melody's class because of the many disabilities. You make a good point there too, but let me add a thought. Maybe it is difficult because these teachers don't understand how smart some of these children really are. Maybe they feel like it is pointless to teach them anything because they will never need to use it or even be able to understand what is being taught. Since we know how smart Melody really is, we can see that the teachers have been very wrong. The teachers have been treating Melody like a baby and she is so much smarter than that. She wants for others to understand that she is aware of everything around her, but she has no way of telling them. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? I think this is very important to the story, because it tends to be the same way in real life. The story is trying to get you to see that things and people are not always what they seem to be. Have you ever met someone and thought they were going to be mean only to find later that they were really nice?

C4K #6 Summary - The First Day of School

First Day of 7th Grade sign
Hi my name is Derri I am in 7th grade. On the first day of school, I had science first period. In science, we did a Mr.Potato head lab. We used these things: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, red peppers, and olives. My partner was Thomas. Then I had art for second period with Mrs. Jarden. What I did was make a portfolio with string & paper. It took 2 days to make it. Next, I had math for third period with Mr. Fitzpatrick. We learned how to do exponents. It was super easy. We also took a quiz on Friday about exponents that was also easy. Next I had P.E for fourth period. My teacher was Mr. Murphy. He was awesome and made us work hard. We played sports/activities on Monday, Thursday, and Friday and ran on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then I had language for fifth period with Mr.Harvey. He was an awesome teacher. Last I had sixth period with Mrs. McLaurin. She was a social studies teacher and she was very loud and funny.

C4K #6 Comment

From reading your blog, it looks to me like you are in for a fun year. I remember my seventh grade year. It was probably one of my favorite years in school. I think you have done an excellent job on your blog post. I blows me away thinking about how smart students are today to be able to figure out how to do things like this. One thing you will want to do is be careful when you are writing your sentences. You need to try to make sure you are capitalizing everything that needs to be capitalized and using periods and commas when you need to. You seem like a smart young man and I think that you will learn quickly how to make sure your sentences are perfect. Again, you did an excellent job; you should be proud of yourself.

C4K #7 Summary - My Hero

a little girl hugging her grandmother
I am writing about my hero. To me a hero is someone who wants me to have a wonderful life. My hero is my grandmother because my grandmother is nice and kind to me. My grandmother wants to me to have a wonderful life. My grandmother is a hero to my family. My grandmother is a hero because my grandmother is kind to me.

C4K #7 Comment

I think this is one of the sweetest blog posts I have read.  My grandmother took care of me when I was growing up too.  She was a wonderful woman who loved me more than I ever knew.  Your grandmother is probably the same way.  She probably loves you more than you will ever know too.  You did an excellent job with writing your post.  Every word is spelled correctly and your punctuation is good.  My favorite part is the feeling of your words.  I can tell that you wrote from your heart and to me, that is one of the best ways to reach people.  Maybe you should look into writing stories or poems.

C4K #8 Summary - Soybeans

Picture of soybeans
Have you ever heard of the soybean? I have because it is one of Nebraska's natural resources. Did you know that 98 percent of animal feed is made out of soybeans and that you can make candy out of soybeans? I will tell you how to do that. First, you roast them, then you dip them in chocolate, and then you put candy coating over them.

Did you know that the people at the Henry Dooly Zoo feed most of the animals soybeans? I like that fact because I like the Zoo. Do you? When a bus leaves black smoke, did you know that you can mix soybean oil with diesel and it will make that smoke disappear? Would you like that? And that you can drink milk from soybeans called soy milk! Would you like to eat a soybean? Do you know anything else about the soybean?

C4K #8 Comment

I knew that soybeans were nutritious and widely used but I didn't know all that you shared. I didn't know that you could make candy out of them and I didn't know that soybean could prevent diesel engines from releasing black smoke either. You ask if I like the zoo and I have to answer you by saying that I used to want to work at a zoo as a veterinarian. I have always had a soft spot for animals. The best zoo in the Southeast is probably the Atlanta Zoo; however, the Birmingham Zoo is pretty good too. It sounds to me like the soybean is good on the environment as well as being delicious. I like to put soybeans in some of my pasta dishes. Did you know that in 1935 Henry Ford painted his cars with a paint that he made from soybean oil? I didn't either until I looked online for some information on the soybean. You have done a really good job with sharing what you know about soybeans. Were you able to research some things that you didn't know? Whenever I don't know enough about something, I try to look on the internet to learn more. It is a good way for me to keep on learning even when I don't have a teacher telling me I have to. Keep up the good work and make it a point to always try to find something new to learn.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog Post #10

What Can We Learn About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch?

a Randy Pausch picture and quote
In the video The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Randy Pausch teaches us that one of the ways to build confidence in our students is to put them in situations where they can test their own limits.  One of the best ways to do that is to make learning fun or edutaining.  Edutainment is the process of teaching students something hard while making it feel like fun.  How can we do this?  One way to incorporate fun is by getting them involved in their own education. No two children are alike so we should find out what each of their interests are so that we may be able to incorporate them in with the lessons that we want for them to learn.  I understand that we have heard a lot lately about how project-based learning is the best way to encourage learning in the classroom, but that is not all PBL is good for.  These project-based assignments also teach students how to challenge their own mind to reach depths they had never thought they could, how to collaborate with others who may have different ways of thinking, and how to self-reflect to make themselves better with every evaluation.  As teachers, we should always stress the importance of giving and receiving feedback from our peers and learning from it.

Pausch teaches us of the importance of enabling our students to visualize their dreams and see them through.  We all know what it is like to want for something only to have someone make you feel inadequate or unworthy of getting it.  As teachers, it is our duty and our responsibility to show these kids that they are worth it and that they are capable of anything they set their minds to.  Pauch said, "Brick walls are there for a reason; they let us prove how badly we want things."  In other words, we should always drive our students to do better.  Since we don't know the limits of our students, we should ask for nothing and wait for everything.  One of the things that struck me was when he said, "Wait long enough and people will surprise you." We have the choice of being the difference in a child's life.  We can choose to do nothing or we can choose to never give up.  Pausch said, " Don't bail; the best gold is at the bottom of the barrels of crap."  What if my teachers would have given up on me?  What if your teachers would have given up on you?  Where would we be today?  We might not have been bound and determined to better ourselves.  We might have just given up on ourselves like so many students choose to do because they don't have someone telling them that they can.  It is important for us to always view our actions from the perspective of others.  We want to treat our students just as we want to be treated.  So many people have that teacher that they can remember always inspiring them in some way.  What do these teachers have in common?  All of these teachers took a personal interest in the students they inspired.  Now, imagine what it would be like if we did that with all of our students.  What kind of a difference would that make in our world?  Our students need to understand that we all make mistakes, but that is no reason to give up.  Not you giving up on them nor them giving up on themselves.  If we want our students to fulfill their dreams then we are going to have to show them that they are worthy of their dreams and that they should go after them with all they have.

When I was a young girl in elementary school, I was instructed to go with the special education students to the resource room.  I wasn't sure what that meant for me, but I did understand that I didn't want to go.  I might need to add that this was before formal testing was done on students and parents didn't have to be informed of the change that was being made.  I remember crying and begging to my teacher that I would do better.  She decided to give me that chance and I never did let her down.  I worked and worked until I was able to help teach myself during times when I struggled to understand.  There was another instance in high school when a teacher showed me that I was so much more capable of learning than I ever thought I would be.  He made me feel special and important.  He gave me the confidence to try new things and step outside of the box to do those things.  All it took for me was those two teachers giving me a chance and helping guide my way.  Today, I wouldn't say that I am exceptional, but I would say that I am moderately intelligent.  What kind of teachers are we going to be for the students we will have in our classrooms?  Are we going to be dream squashers or dream makers?  We are standing before our professional trails and we have some decisions to make. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Project #14

Project-Based Lesson Plan #2

picture of solids, liquids, gases, and plasma

Mrs. Croft's Lesson Plans

My lesson plan focuses on how states of matter and molecule transport occur in nature.  Some students may not realize that they experience science everyday.  I want to show them that science is all around them with the food they eat, the drinks they enjoy, and the air they breathe.  First, I want for them to get an in-depth look at how particles move by conducting their own research quest and then by watching instructional videos.  They will be able to take that learned knowledge and perform experiments so that they may see that learned knowledge in action.  In this lesson plan, students will see some of the forces that cause particles to move and how the energy within the states dictate whether it is a solid, liquid, or a gas.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post #9

Back to the Future
- by Carla Young, Nathalie McCarty, and Danya Croft

The High-Altitude balloon before it is released
In the Back to the Future video, Brian Crosby demonstrates how his 4th grade class can learn through project-based learning even though most of his class speaks English as a second language.  Crosby says, "It's hard to be able to imagine what could be if you don't know anything about what is.  And if it's hard to imagine, where does your creativity spark from?  And if you don't have a lot of imagination and creativity, where do you build passion from?" When we get into our schools to teach, we are going to have students that don't have the same understanding about the world around them as other students might have.  We will need to be able to bridge the gap in a way that connects all of the students and engages them in the same quest to learn.  In Crosby's class, he informs us that he has a 1 to 1 ratio of laptop computers for his students, several digital cameras, and an interactive whiteboard that allows for interactive learning in the classroom.  The students in Crosby’s classroom are learning to do various things that they can incorporate into their class and use throughout their educational journey.  He talks of a project where the class released a High-Altitude balloon into the air that had a camera attached that recorded what it was like to rise into the different layers of the earth's atmosphere.  During the release of the balloon, the students observes what was happening and immediately went into the classroom to blog about what they observed.  Crosby also had them create a Flickr presentation describing what happened to the balloon from the perspective of the balloon.  It was called the High Hopes blog which centered on setting goals for themselves, their community, and the world around them.  It allowed them the ability to connect with people from all over the world.  Another connection Crosby allowed the students to make was to set up a Skype conference with Celeste, a girl suffering from leukemia.  She was a classmate of the students, but she was unable to physically sit in class due to her vulnerability to infections.  However, Celeste was able to participate in learning with her peers in a way that was safe for her and exciting for her classmates.  By using modern resources like blogging, Flickr, and Skype, the students were more easily willing to stay engaged in what they were learning.  Attention was better kept when they were given a project to research and blog about rather than taking notes for an entire class period.  It also offered the students a sense of self assurance; let them know they were capable of doing the task at hand.  Crosby shows that active learning empower students to want to learn and to seek out learning for themselves.

We feel that Crosby was exactly right when he said that, "A motivational experience shouldn't be limited to those from schools with high test scores, but should be the birthright for every child."  We feel every child should have the opportunity to learn in an environment that allows for them to reach the peaks of their imaginations and possibly beyond.  We feel that assigning projects is one of the best ways to challenge the mind and enlighten the senses. By engaging students in a multitude of ways and on a personal level, we are ensuring that our students will see the value in the 'why' and continue to search for the answers throughout the rest of their lives.  Also, Crosby incorporates PBL in his classroom to prepare his students for what they have to look forward to once they are out in the “real world.”  He strives to inspire his students and constantly pushes them to express their creativity.

The Blended Learning Cycle
-by Carla Young, Nathalie McCarty, and Danya Croft

Quiver of a bow and arrows with the Quivers acronym
In The Blended Learning Cycle, Paul Andersen recognizes the power of the question and the power of learning in the science classroom.  He explains that Blended Learning consists of the key components of mobile, online, and classroom learning.  The Learning Cycle consists of the 5 E's: engage, explore/experiment, explain, expand, and evaluate. Andersen decided to combine the two learning styles to create the Blended Learning Cycle which has 6 parts known as Quivers:  Question, Inquiry, Video, Elaboration, and Review.  He says that the Learning Cycle starts out with an engaging question; something that the students do not understand in order to strike their curiosity on the subject.  It will also bring their attention to the second part of the cycle which is investigation.  Having the students investigate and research on their own is a good way for them to not only learn the material, but also retain it and hold their interest.  Andersen explains that showing a video on the subject is a good way to introduce the material to the students without just giving the normal lecture.  It will allow the teacher to engage with the students and interact with them one on one.  Next, the students would be able to expand on the explanation with thoughts of what they have discovered.  Finally, an evaluation could be done to gauge their level of understanding of the subject studied.  Andersen explains that he sits down with each student to review with them and make sure that they have a good grasp on the material.  If he is confident the student knows the material well enough, they will take the Summary Quiz; this is the last part of his cycle.  Andersen’s philosophy in the classroom is, "Let's start with a question and figure it out."  By allowing the students an active part in the learning process, Andersen is teaching the students how to learn for themselves.  He is teaching the students how to go from not knowing to knowing with understanding.

Making Learning Visible
-by Carla Young, Nathalie McCarty, and Danya Croft

Picture of an eye
In Making Thinking Visible, the 6th grade teacher, Mark Church, tries to teach the students how to convey their thoughts in a written form.  He gives his 6th graders an assignment in which they are to watch a video explaining the beginnings of the origin of humans.  Then, he has them get into groups and create a caption outlining its meaning which he will display on a bulletin board.  After a couple of weeks of study, he will give them an opportunity to come back to the caption and change it based on the changes in their opinion from the beginning of the study to the end.  Having the captions displayed and allowing the students to change them after they have learned more information on the subject, provides a good visual representation of the process they followed to get to their conclusion.  It allows the students to not only learn the material comprehensively, but also visually.  We think that this is a good way to get students to see the importance of expressing their thoughts in a visible way.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Blog Post #8

The Ever-Evolving Teacher
-Danya Croft, Carla Young, and Nathalie McCarty

light bulbs
We, as teachers, should never stop trying to find new and inventive ways to reach our students.  In taking EDM310, we are learning some of those new and inventive ways at pace much more accelerated than any we will experience again.  We need to take advantage of the skills that we are being taught and think of how we are going to incorporate them into the classrooms of our future.  Let us not forget that we are to strive to become lifelong learners so as to better educate our students.  It is extremely important to the students we will teach that we give them the best education possible.  Therefore, anytime we come across a helpful website, we should save it.  When we are informed of an excellent app that could be helpful in the classroom, we should write it down.  When we are in the classroom observing our teachers, we should ask them what they use that is helpful; ask them what the students seem to positively respond to the most.   As a habit, the Botticelli group has begun asking the students that we observe what they enjoy most about the class.  We want to find out what works and what does not work.  Our first few years will be a lot of trial and error until we figure out what works for us.  Why not go ahead and get started so that we may cut down on some of those errors?  Let us ALWAYS keep in mind why we want to be teachers.  It is because of the students and the students alone.  Let us make everything we do and learn about them.  Let us strive to constantly better ourselves so that we may better our students in the process. There is a blog called The Ever-Evolving Teacher that is an excellent resource for creative ideas that could help you along your journey of improvement.

- Danya Croft

-Carla Young

Smart Music
-Nathalie McCarty