Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog Post 7

The Last Lecture

Napkin with Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted written on it

When I saw that we were required to watch this lecture and write a blog post on it, I got extremely excited. I've seen bits and pieces of this lecture and even bought the book, which I never got completely through (gotta love school and work taking over your life). I've been meaning and wanting to sit down and watch this video, but had trouble finding the time; this assignment gave me the perfect opportunity. And I'm glad.

Randy Pausch is an inspirational man and his lecture proves it. Near the beginning of his lecture he says "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand" and it's true. As a teacher you aren't able to pick and choose your students and how they act. You can't and won't have a class full of geniuses and students who actually want to learn. It's not possible. However, you can take what you get and work with it. You can take the students who have trouble with certain materials and help them learn it. You can take the students who despise school and who would rather be out back smoking a cigarette and help them realize learning is important and CAN be fun. As a teacher, you have to take a group of students, the cards you're dealt, and mold them into capable members of society who can think on their own and teach themselves and teach others.

Pausch also said "You have to get the fundamentals down, or the fancy stuff won't work." Isn't this how learning works? In math, for example, you start with learning numbers, then move to simple addition, then to simple subtraction, simple multiplication, simple division, then on to more complicated things like using the FOIL method and the quadratic equation and so on. And it's the teachers' job to ensure that students get these fundamentals and commit them not only to short term spit-it-out-on-a-test memory, but to long term I-understand-the-concept memory. Like I stated in the previous blog post, teachers need to change their teaching methods and need to teach their students not a set of instructions, but a set of ideas, methods, concepts that they can use throughout their life (and therefore will always remember).

Now, as a current student studying to become a teacher, I know there are going to be times while I'm new to the field that I'm going to become frustrated and dejected and feel that I'm not doing things right; that I'm not doing everything in my power to teach my students the material and lessons they will keep with them forever. After watching this video, though, I now have one simple sentence to keep me going and keep my spirits up: "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." I'm not always going to get through to students and help them see the importance of literature and good grammar, but I have to remember that I can learn from the experience and use what I learn on the next group of students I'm fortunate enough to have in my classroom. By my standards, I'm not always going to succeed, but that doesn't mean I failed either and I have to remember that, as does every other teacher.

C4T #2

What Ed Said

The first post I encountered spoke of a conversation Mrs. Edna Sackson had with a teacher. According to the post, the teacher preferred to have all of her students doing the same thing at the same time. Mrs. Sackson saw the fault in this and thought to convince the teacher otherwise. She pointed out that the teacher had commented that her children are completely different. One is artistic and gets distracted easily, while the other learns quickly and is a thinker. So, doesn't that mean they learn in different ways? Yes, and Mrs. Sackson managed to get the teacher to realize this. Then, the teacher realized if it's true for her own children, then obviously it's true for all other children. Needless to say, the teacher made haste in changing her teaching plans.

Change isn't easy...

The second post I read by Mrs. Sackson was inspirational, to say the least. The whole post was full of great points, but the one that really stood out to me was that many teachers are stuck in their old way of teaching and either find it hard to change it or refuse to. As technology advances and more and more "cool" things are created, the less interesting an old book and chalkboard are going to have trouble keeping students' attention. So instead of fighting with students and yelling at them to pay attention, give them a reason to do so. Make it interesting.

Aside from that, the blog post made me think about the general method many teachers use to "teach" their students and mainly that it needs to change. Too many teachers simply shove information in their students' brains and think they did an excellent job if the students remember it long enough to take the test and do well. I was subjected to this method my whole middle school and high school career. Except for one teacher. My Algebra III with Statistics teacher was more concerned with his students actually learning and understanding the CONCEPTS of math and not simply memorizing steps on how to solve a certain type of problem. And at first it was frustrating and mind boggling that a teacher would even consider using a method like this. All I wanted to do was memorize steps and formulas to spit back on the tests.

I still don't have many teachers like my Algebra teacher, but I've had a few. I'm not balking anymore at the idea of learning and understanding concepts and ideas or even teaching myself. It's still slightly difficult for me to adjust to when I do have one of those teachers, though. Anyway, my point is that students shouldn't be in my situation; they shouldn't be having issues adjusting to these two methods at the same time. In fact, they shouldn't be adjusting to methods at all! Every teacher needs to be like my Algebra teacher.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Comments for Kids 1, 2, and 3.


A man painting many geometrical shapes

The first C4K post I was instructed to comment on was a post by Skylah about Geometry. In this post, Skylah expressed enthusiasm about Geometry and even included some great facts. I personally dislike math of any type, mainly because I'm horrible at it, but I enjoyed reading this post. It was interesting to read about Euclid and his contributions to Geometry.

KPE Episode 333: "Trapped"

The second post I was instructed to comment on was a podcast book report on the book "Trapped". Lola and Dante, the two students who created the podcast, did a wonderful job. Though the book is for a lower reading level, these two still managed to convince me to read it! It was great to see young students making use of something like a podcast.

Timoteo @ Pt England School

The third blog I had to comment on belongs to Timoteo form the Pt England School in Auckland, NZ. Timoteo only has a picture of himself up right now. However, I think it's great that he's being taught to use a blog and how to use technology. I'm 19 years old and this is the first time I've ever even seen the publishing/editing side of a blog. I think Timoteo's teacher is on the right track in teaching his students about technology and blogs.

Blog Post #6

Wendy Drexler: The Networked Student

This video is great. It's simple, but highly entertaining and thought provoking. Many teachers and soon-to-be teachers are finding themselves a little fearful of becoming obsolete. Why? Well, because of things like the tons of apps and websites like SparkNotes that allow students to learn on their own.

However, students needed teachers way back when, they need teachers now, and they'll need teachers in the future. Think about it. Have you ever been in class and your teacher gives you an assignment that is very broad and you have no clue where to begin? What did you do? You probably looked around at your friends and asked if they had any clue what to do and when they shrugged at you, you went to the teacher. Anyway, my point is, is that you have to start somewhere when you begin on the road to becoming a networked student, but the question is "where do you start" and even "how do you start".

That's where the teachers come in. Teachers are there to help students learn about networking and set up the ties they need. Granted, there are plenty of websites and how-to videos floating around that students can access to help themselves, but even those can be confusing. Teachers are still going to be useful, regardless. It's just a matter of whether we make use of them or not.

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (or PLN)

This video was great. It was a perfect representation of all the things students can use a PLN/PLE for. This is a great way to teach students more responsibility, since lesson plans can be posted online for them to view and for them to complete. It also allows students to use their brains to gather needed information, instead of it being spoon-fed to them.

Why Smartboards Are A Dumb Initiative and Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards

When I saw the titles to these two blog posts, I was thinking that the authors might be slightly nuts. Now that I've read the posts, I'm thinking maybe I was the one that was nuts; I was under its spell. You know, the "oooh look it's a pretty, new board that doesn't use markers or keyboards" spell. Well, these two authors sure weren't fooled.

One point is that it's not any more student friendly than normal white boards, and it's true. They're sparkly and dazzling in that they require no keyboard nor uses markers/chalk, but that's about it. It's nothing but a more expensive, more frustrating white board. Not to mention, only the teachers are given clearance to use them, more often than not. Which means, all the teacher is doing is presenting the same old information, only on a prettier board. Same tricks, new dog.

Using Electronic Whiteboards in Your Classroom: Benefits

So, this isn't exactly a blog post that opposes the two above, but it clearly is for the use of SMARTboards. It offers a list of why these interactive white boards are useful. Such as, "The board can accommodate different learning styles...". Well, yes and no. Yes, in that you can incorporate animation and music a little easier. No, in that some people are hands on learners and if teachers are the only ones who have permission to use them, then the hands on learners are kind of left out. The site also provides outside sources, like studies that were conducted. And according to those, SMARTboards are beneficial.

So, are the boards good or bad? Are they worth all that money or not? I suppose it's a matter of how you use them. It's also a matter of how interesting the lesson is.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Project #8

It's quite exciting, this is my first podcast ever. And personally, I think my partner, Carly Pugh, and I did a great job.

Anyway, when we were given the list of topics to browse for our podcasts, Google Lit Trips caught mine and Carly's eyes right away. It just called to my future English teacher heart.
a chalkboard that says education equals future

My Google Lit Trips Podcast

And, here's a link to the wonderful website we had the pleasure of talking about in our podcast: Google Lit Trips

Blog Post #5

100 ways to use your iPod to learn and study

This list is wonderful. It lists apps you can download for learning languages, help you with studying for tests in every subject, it even lists websites for teachers who are looking for ways to incorporate iPods into their lesson plans. I imagine there are a million more ways to use an iPod for education. This list proves that technology is becoming a large part of our daily lives and that there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into learning. Technology doesn't have to be an annoying distraction and teachers can no longer say there is nothing about iPods or iPhones that can help students learn, because that is far from true.

The benefits of podcasting in the classroom

This post is helpful in that it gives great reasons for teachers to consider using
podcasts in the classroom. One benefit this particular podcast describes is that "it
promotes creativity and innovation" and it does. Podcasts allow student to create
videos or sound clips that help them and other students understand or study lessons
in interesting ways. Students know what's "cool" for their generation and what's not, so naturally they would know what would interest their fellow peers. Plus, they might be able to explain something in a way that others understand when the teacher can't.

This particular podcast has taught me that combining video, pictures, and music can
make a more interesting podcast. Simply having someone droning on isn't going to keep people's interest. Couple that with a boring video of the person sitting their talking to the camera doesn't help.

Eagles' Nest Radio

Children dressed as ancient Romans
This group of children are great to listen to. I enjoyed journeying through Rome learning about the architecture, Caesar, and gladiators. The background music was perfect too. The information they provided was very interesting.

I think that when you only have music and speech in a podcast you risk being boring. However, if you keep it simple and easy to understand, it shouldn't be a problem. Plus, if the music fits the topic, that helps a great deal. Again, these students did a wonderful job and I hope they keep it up.

Personal Timeline

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blog Post #4

Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?

In the post "Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please?" by Scott McLeod, you'll find a very witty poem where Dr. McLeod lists things children shouldn't be learning to do on the internet, like Twitter, blogging, making videos, etc. Throughout the poem he holds to the idea that children should have no part of the internet and that it has no good use; only bad comes from using the internet. However, he surprises you. At the end, he says "too bad, I'm already doing it" and even challenges those who actually agree with keeping children from the internet to wait and see who will have "a leg up" in the years to come.

My response to this poem? At first it was disgust. I hadn't realized Dr. McLeod was being sarcastic until I'd read the poem in its entirety. It was hard to comprehend that he would think that children shouldn't use the internet at all. Of course, after reading the ending, I quickly became pleased with Dr. McLeod. Besides taking the ideas and arguments many people might have and delivering them in a short, simple, and entertaining way, he's also addressed the major reason why children should use technology and the internet. If you have two people competing for a job that uses technology some (what job these days doesn't?), who do you think is going to get the job? The guy who barely knows how to use a mouse, or the guy who can access things on the internet and make presentations on the computer? Exactly, it'll be the second guy. He'd be more useful (as harsh as that might sound). Now, who exactly is this Dr. McLeod I'm praising? Well, according to the biography on his page, he is Associate Professor in the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University and also director of UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education. Along with that, he is said to be "one of the nation's leading academic experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues." I think he knows what he's talking about.

The iSchool Initiative

This video is a wonderful example of what people can think of using technology these days. This high school senior promotes the idea of using iPod touches in schools to help improve the school system. He says using them would increase teacher-student communication and teacher-parent communication. It would also place assignments, due dates, grades, and school events all in one, easy to access place. The iPod touch also allows students to get rid of the pen/pencil and paper method of taking notes, because it has a notes application already on it, not to mention it has a scientific calculator. Not enough? Well, think about all the applications that a student can find and use. A few mentioned in the video were iHomework, which is an application that allows students to keep track of assignments, Formulae, which has mathematical formulas, and even WorldWiki, which is a map application. Obviously these are only a few applications at a students disposal. And for those of you who are thinking it's too expensive, no, not really. The video has an estimate of how much a student spends on books, paper, backpacks, etc. and it came to a lovely total of about $600. The total for the iPod touch? About $150. Plus, for those of you who are environmentally friendly (or at least try to be), using the iPod saves students from using and wasting paper.

I personally think that this senior is on the right track. This is a great way to incorporate technology into schools. I actually have an iPhone and love it. It's useful for keeping up with dates and assignments and for taking random notes when paper isn't handy. I'm also glad to see that he is traveling and trying to introduce the iSchool Intiative into schools. We need more people who think like him to help incorporate more technology into the school systems.

Lost Generation

Unfortunately, it seems that work is starting to become more important than family. I think that is partly because of the rising need, the rising want to be able to live comfortably and to be able to live without the stress of knowing whether there will be food on the table or not. People want to be able to take a trip here and there to relax and spend time with their family, but to get to that point, they need money and you only get it by busting your butt at work. Believe me, I know. My mom does just that, though she doesn't put her work ahead of her family. She never has, and never will. In fact, she's always put me in front of her work and herself. I know there have been times when money is tight and we didn't really have enough to buy many groceries. I also know that there have been times that she has gone without dinner just so I can eat. Even so, she never let work take control of her.

And it's frightening to think about today's divorce rate. My parents are divorced. My parent's parents are divorced. My step mom's parents are divorced. It seems that money is to blame here too. There are so many people out there who are marrying simply for money, though there are some who are just blinded by what they think is love and marry someone completely wrong. I think this world is slowly tearing apart at the seams, and like the video said, we have to do something about it.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir

Watching this video was amazing. To think that these people had never met, had never practiced together, and yet they made such a beautiful video. Not to mention, that Eric Whitacre thought of doing this is amazing. It was absolutely gorgeous and yet another amazing example of what technology can do for the world. So many people see it as a bad thing because it's a place where their children can access things like porn so easily, but do they realize just how good it can be? It allows people all over the world to come together and communicate. It allows people to share ideas on everything from education, music, and love to whether they think blue is a pretty color. It's just a matter of finding the good and keeping away from the bad.

Teaching in the 21st Century

What does "to teach" mean for the 21st century? It certainly doesn't mean plopping a dusty, ragged book in front of students and telling them to read it then spit back the information on a test. Nor does it mean forcing them to memorize a bunch of facts that they think useless. It means showing them ways to find good information from reliable sources, showing them ways to organize information, showing them ways to present information, showing them ways that make them -want- to learn.

This video is an eye-opener. It makes you really think just what it means to teach and what you need to use in order to help students learn. So, why plop that dusty, ragged book in front of them when they can find the information in more fun, more interesting ways? You can't sit there and wonder why so many students are in trouble for using cell phones, iPods, etc. during class when the methods being used are outdated and boring. The video says teachers need to keep up with the times and "engage" their students, not just entertain them. Yes, make lessons fun, but make them to where they have an impact on the students' minds.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

C4T #1

Links into Languages logo
For this project, I was given the task of reading over Joe Dale's blog. The most recent post I came across was a list of people who participated in a program called Links into Languages and near the bottom I cam across some sad news. The UK government has decided to stop providing funds for Links for Languages. After doing a bit of reading on what Links into Languages was exactly, I realized just how horrible it was that the UK government decided to cut funding. Links into Languages strives to improve the field of teaching languages. It looks to improve the curriculum and the quality of teaching.

Anyway, I find it quite awful that funding has been cut. This program is a wonderful thing and I agree with everything it's about. Knowing more than just your native language these days is very important, but it's hard to find a class that's effective enough to where students actually remember the material. I myself have had three Spanish classes over the course of my high school and college careers. My teachers were pretty good, but there were such huge gaps in between each class, I'd forgotten most of the material. Not to mention, I really had no way of holding onto what I learned. I simply went through the classes and learned what I had to to pass them. I'm sorry that funding was cut, but I hope the program can continue in its efforts in finding better resources and ways of teaching.

The second post on Mr. Dale's blog consisted of a video and a short explanation of what the video was. I read the explanation and my initial thoughts were "That's neat." After watching the video I was absolutely in love. The video is a group of French teachers who took the "Happy Days" theme song and put their own words to it (in French) in order to help students learn daily routines (like brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, etc.).

I think more teachers should use this method. It makes it more entertaining for students to learn, not to mention it makes it easier. In all my years of school, I've only heard of one teacher in my school (I, unfortunately, was not able to have her as a teacher) used this method. A few of my friends were lucky enough to have her (I think it was our Sophomore year of high school) and to this day, they still remember the songs she taught them. Again, more teachers should use this method.

Blog Post #3

A Vision of Students Today

So far, a lot of my college experience has been exactly this. So much of my time is spent starring at the chalkboard where there are one of three things: 1)Masses of notes, 2)A few words, a few scribbles, and a few circles that make no sense at all, or 3)Nothing at all (except maybe a few leftover scratches from a previous class). I'll also admit that I spent one of my classes last semester texting a friend simply because he was about a million times more interesting than the professor droning on about whatever it was I was supposed to have read the night before. I know some people think that some lessons can only be taught through pages of notes, but it's not true. There is always a way to incorporate pictures, videos, music, and even actions into a lesson. And this is a large reason many students play on Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, etc. during lectures.

I personally don't watch much tv, though I do spend a lot of time on the internet and listening to music. I often find it hard to force myself to concentrate on studying a piece of paper that is full of boring words and find myself time and again on the internet. I think that pictures, videos, music, etc. need to be used in lessons, but I also think that things like Facebook should be incorporated into homework too. Just a thought, since people are already there hours a day.

It's Not about the Technology

I agree with points Mrs. Hines has made. Technology can be useful and ought to be used, but it's not going to help anyone if the teachers either don't know how to use it, or refuse to. Teachers must be willing to learn in order to teach their students more effectively. There are too many teachers who are stuck in their old ways and refuse to at least try to learn new teaching methods.

As for the list of "core outcomes" Mrs. Hines has given, these ought to be a "no-duh" to any teacher in this day and age and any person affiliated with the education system. However, it seems the only thing that students are being taught is how to learn material long enough to spit it back out on a test and how to take a test well. I think tests are a decent way of testing what students know but they are completely overused. Students retain information long enough to pass a test and then simply get rid of it. The skills Mrs. Hines listed might be touched on, but they aren't continuously used throughout a person's education, at least not in mine, and that's a downright shame.

Is It Okay to Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?

Every point Mr. Fisch made, while possibly harsh sounding to some, are completely correct. Teachers need to step up their game when it comes to technology. Things like iPods, Gameboys, Xbox, etc. are steadily stealing the spotlight from education because they're more interesting and more fun. Seriously though, who doesn't think it's awesome that you can now play video games by using your body as the controller, like for the Kinect? I don't know many people who think it's uninteresting. So, the questions is how do we, as teachers, use technology as effectively as we can to interest our students as much as video games?

Another point Mr. Fisch made was that he's encountered people who seem proud of being technologically illiterate. Why is this something to be proud of? In a world where technology is steadily taking over, so to speak, no one should be proud of this because you're just going to end up as obsolete as the first wheel has become. It truly astounds me that there are people out there who expect to teach the future what they need to know in this world in order to succeed, but yet aren't up to date on their methods.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count
picture of different social media logos

I know I've said this over and over, and probably will say even more, but teachers and schools seem to be falling behind. Students are more interested in what's happening outside the classroom than what's happening inside, but why? Their interest isn't being captured by the teacher, which is probably because he/she is still using a chalkboard or whiteboard to teach lessons or even the dreaded Power Point (yeah, they're dreaded, mostly because it's nothing but boring words on a boring background about a boring subject that just seems determined to put you to sleep). Instead of learning about Shakespeare, polynomials, or atoms, they're learning about which celeb is getting married now or which classmate is sleeping with another classmate or even when the next best video game comes out.

It almost scares me to look at that virtual counter. That's what students are doing while sitting in class. They're on Facebook, Twitter, etc. That's what we're losing them to and if we (meaning teachers) don't keep up with technology and how to use it and find better ways to interest our students, we're going to lose them for good. Straight A's are going to become an extinct species and straight B's are going to be endangered.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blog Post #2

Did You Know?

A lot of the information in this video is astonishing. I find it amazing that China, though I can't really say I'm all that surprised, has more English speaking people than the U.S. Nor am I really surprised that a computer that is superior to that of the human brain will be developed. However, you don't really realize that all this is actually happening until you see a video or article about it. It's amazing just how far technology has come and how much further it will advance in the years to come.
picture of a keyboard with a red question mark button and it says Did you know

I also found it amazing that students are pretty much being trained for jobs that don't exist yet. It's kind of hard to wrap my mind around that since you usually have to know what a job entails in order to train for it properly. And as for the information learned the first year being outdated by the third year, I believe it, but I don't think this can be so easily fixed. Not right now anyway. We aren't to the point where information can be shoved into your brain without studying or being taught.

Mr. Winkle Wakes

Mr. Winkle might have found comfort in the fact that the teaching system hasn't changed, but I don't. All other fields are advancing, but not the education system. Many people wonder why students get into trouble for using their phones and iPods at school, but it's because they're usually more interesting! Education hasn't exactly kept up with the interests of the generations.

The material being taught isn't necessarily what needs to be changed, it's the way it is being taught. Schools are banning cell phones, iPods, even laptops, but shouldn't we be finding ways to use them instead? Banning things just make them more desirable.

The Importance of Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson is completely correct about children being taught to fear mistakes. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a class in awkward silence after a teachers asks a question because people are afraid to answer because they are afraid of being wrong. It's crazy. Instead of being taught to fear mistakes, children need to be taught that mistakes will be made and it is ok to make them and that all you need to do is pick yourself back up again and try to find the right answer.

I also agree with him about school squashing creativity. We're forced to focus everything we have on "core" classes (math, science, language arts, etc.). Yes, the core classes are important, but so are arts. The people who generally think outside the box, are the ones who are extremely creative, children being among them. Focus needs to be evenly distributed between the academic classes and the arts.

Cecelia Gault (Young Student in Finland) Interviews Sir Ken Robinson

One line in the article preceding the video really stood out to me. Cecelia Gault said that it is important to understand other cultures and I can't agree more. Unfortunately, most of what I know about other cultures (which is very little, sadly) I learned by doing research on my own or because a few of my friends are ESL students from South Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia. I don't think I can remember ever learning about other cultures in any of my classes during high school or middle school and I think that's just awful. We live in a world where racism and hate runs rampant and half the time it's because of ignorance.

Once again I agree with Sir Robinson. Incorporating technology into an education is important, as well as incorporating more of the arts into an education is important too. I also agree that people are born creative. Children are perfect examples of this. Let them draw or color or paint or even let them tell you a story and they'll prove it. People are creative from the beginning, but the current education system tends to squash that creativity in a lot of people and it shouldn't be that way. It's easier, I believe, to plan a lesson and assignments for students when you can incorporate their creativity, not to mention it makes the work more interesting to them.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts

This exactly what teachers need to be doing. I've said it multiple times in this one post, but I don't think it can be said enough. Teachers need to be incorporating technology into their lessons. Things like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, video games, etc. are what students are into these days and they should be able to use these things as resources for assignments.

I also think that teachers need to be learning with their students like Vicki Davis was doing. Not one person on this earth knows everything there is to know, so why should teachers be the only ones teaching and students be the only ones learning? It shouldn't be that way. The roles should be flexible. Teachers should be teaching and learning, as should the students.