Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blog Assignment #1

Krissy Venosdale - If I Built a School

     In this post, Krissy Venosdale, tells us what her dream school would be like. She describes in vivid detail what she would do if she was given the opportunity to build the school of her dreams with no monetary limitations. A treehouse in the library, colorful walls filled with art, a science lab with all of the tools needed to conduct experiments year round, and a school bus available to take children on field trips whenever they desire are just a few of the things she mentions! You can check out her post over at her blog, Venspired, to read more about her dream. If schools were like this, children would want to be there. It would spark so much curiosity and creativity!

Sugata Mitra - Build a School In the Cloud

     In this video, Sugata Mitra poses an important question, "have we gotten to a point where knowledge is obsolete?" What I think he means by this is that knowledge itself is out of date. Is it really necessary for us to be able to re-call tons of facts, when we can simply just look them up or perform a 5 second Google search? Is it still impressive that students in this day and age are able to memorize information that teachers give them, and repeat it over and over again on tests and quizzes? Is it a good thing that students are taught to perform well under pressure, just to forget it all, never actually learning anything in the process? Absolutely not.
     Mitra brings up an interesting point that being able to recall a ton of facts, and memorize information isn't important anymore. Mitra teaches us that the type of education system we use today stemmed from one used hundreds of years ago when the British dynasty was still in control of the whole world. In order to maintain that control, they had to be able to communicate effectively across the globe. The way they did this was through letters and written correspondence, which were then sent across the world by ships. This meant that the workers responsible for writing these letters had to be able to spell perfectly, remember the information that needed to be written, and to communicate exactly what needed to be said without any mistakes. These workers were trained so well that if they were up and moved to another part of the world, they would still be able to perform just as well under pressure. Does this sound familiar to you? Memorizing information that needs to be said? Performing well under pressure? The majority of the time students today are only expected to show up to class, memorize what the teacher says, and perform well on tests. That's it! This type of system worked well in the olden days because that's what was needed: workers who were able to memorize information and repeat it. Workers needed to be able to "burp back" information so to speak. However, today that is irrelevant.
     What's important today is that the children of our future know how to learn for themselves, that they find a passion for doing that, and that they are able to work with their peers to be able to find out new information, work together and help each other, and make new discoveries. Our old way of "learning" is definitely is out of date. Mitra encourages us to take a shift from simply learning to do well and make the grade, and to help our students start learning for their own pleasure.
      In some of Mitra's experiments, he leaves computers with children in India to see how much they can learn without a teacher present. In this video, you will see that it is impressive what children can accomplish with a little bit of encouragement!  Mitra introduces the idea of teachers taking a step back from "teaching" and instead being the ones to ask children the important questions, giving them the opportunity to find the answers for themselves. He calls this method "SOLE" or a self organized learning environment. All you need is a broadband connection for children to be able to do their own research, to set them up in an environment that allows collaboration with their peers, and to take a step back and watch! Give them some encouragement that they are CAPABLE of finding the answer for themselves, and then admire what they can do. More than likely, they will blow your mind away with what they are capable of! Mitra dreams of a school where children will go on their own intellectual adventures, and develop a passion for learning for themselves... not sitting in a desk, being taught to memorize information just to forget it all. That's style of "learning" is definitely out of date.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. - Albert Einstein

What I want my students to know?
  • How to work together, even if they prefer to work on their own.
  • How to figure out certain things for themselves. There's nothing wrong with needing a little help if you get stuck... but I don't want lazy students. If they run into a problem with the work they are doing, I want them to try to research it on their own first instead of just waiting on me to give them the answer without any effort on their part. I want my students to challenge themselves to figure things out! 
  • How to plan for their future. How to start dreaming and planning NOW. Although this is unrelated to what I will teach, I'd love for my students to know that it's never too early to start thinking about what you want to do with your life. College sneaks up on you fast, and I found myself in a position where I had never given it much serious thought about what I wanted to do with my life. I had plenty of ideas and dreams, but never researched them enough to know what it would actually be like to go that route in college. I just think it would be nice to share my story with them! A teacher of mine made us do a research paper to find information about a career we were interested in, and conduct an interview with someone who actually does that job. This made us start thinking about what we wanted to do, and get someone's perspective about what it's really like. I'd like to do something similar to this! 
  • How to properly cite things. I am so thankful that my English teachers were strict on us about learning how to cite things correctly in different formats. This came in handy later that's for sure! 
  • That creativity and expressing yourself is WELCOME in my classroom, and that everyone should respect their peers. 
What do I want my students to be able to do?
  • Not just "burp back" information. I want my students to have a good understanding of what they are learning, and how it can actually be applied in everyday life. For example, in my pre-cal class in high school we had to work together in groups to make a bridge only out of popsicle sticks. The bridge had to be constructed in a way that if a brick was placed on it, it would be strong enough not to collapse. This showed us how important math is in the real world, and applies math to an everyday job & use.
  • Remember the math skills that I teach them, and feel confident enough in those skills that they will be able to have good building blocks that they can take with them as they continue their education.
  • Time management skills. 
What will be my primary way for teaching them what I want them to know and be able to do? 
  • Since I am going to be a math teacher, my everyday method for teaching my students what I want them to know will be through lectures and working through problems together as a class,  but I want to use as many tools as I can to step outside of that. I don't want my class to JUST be about that. I want to do other projects, and use tools that will help my students learn to work together, use their creativity, and gain a desire to learn and figure things out for themselves.   
  • Special projects that will help my students think outside the box! 
What tools will you use in your classroom?
  • Class Blog - For h/w assignments, lesson plans, study guides, interesting articles, etc. There are so many things you can do with a class blog! 
  • One tool that I would really like to use in my classroom is this device where you write out notes and problems directly on your laptop screen with a digital pen. It projects everything onto a screen or smartboard, and then you are able to save the class notes as a pdf so your students will be able to review all of the notes that were given in class that day. They can go back and review  them to see any information they might have missed if they were absent, and it also comes in handy in math classes because you can study how the teacher worked through the problems. 
  • Formula songs! - This might sound a bit ridiculous, but I still remember some of the formula songs my 7th grade Algebra teacher taught us. I would like to teach my students these so it will help them remember any formulas or rules they need to remember. We could even record them as an mp3 or make a class video to post on the blog so they can always refer back to them! 
What role will students play in your classroom? How will they be involved in the learning process?
  • Independent learners.
  • Students who can work together, and collaborate with other classmates.
  • They can share their own ideas for projects and activities. Creativity will be encouraged! 
  • They will have the opportunity to share any new discoveries or any interesting articles that are related to math with the class. I will make this some sort of weekly thing so that research is encouraged! 
  • Students can have the opportunity to teach each other. If a student knows the answer to something, I will give them the opportunity to explain it to their peers. Sometimes things are easier understood when you hear it from someone else's perspective. 
  • Anything to make them feel involved. I want my students to feel like it is their classroom. I don't want them to think I expect them to show up to class, listen to what I say and then leave. In my classroom, they are more than that! I want them to feel included in the learning process! 


  1. "One tool that I would really like to use in my classroom is this device where you write out notes and problems directly on your laptop screen with a digital pen. It projects everything onto a screen or smartboard, and then you are able to save the class notes as a pdf so your students will be able to review all of the notes that were given in class that day. " Are you aware this is possible with an iPad?

    Excellent! Thorough. Thoughtful. Well written.

    Nominated for Post of the Week!


    1. Thanks Dr. Strange! No, I didn't realize that this was possible with the iPad. My teacher was able to do it with her laptop, but I wasn't quite sure what the program was called or how she made it possible. Knowing that you can do this with an iPad will make it even easier for me to use this tool someday. Thanks for letting me know!

  2. Savannah,

    Hi! We were in wind ensemble together, I believe. Good to see you again. I think you made some wonderful points about collaborative and group learning. Keeping students involved is definitely necessary for classrooms of the modern age. Today, though many agree with you that memorizing many facts and having a wide array of knowledge should come second to interactive and self learning, media application, and networking.

    You stated: "Is it really necessary for us to be able to re-call tons of facts, when we can simply just look them up or perform a 5 second Google search?"

    As a History/Secondary education major I have to respectfully dissent this opinion. Many feel today that having a wide array of knowledge at your immediate disposal in your memory isn't necessarily important due to technology. I believe it is due to technology that this is more important than ever. In the information age, students need to know how to process and intellectualize that information and put it into context.

    If a populous has no immediate knowledge of History or Philosophy these areas of interest may not come up much in conversations outside of History classes. An attitude may come about of: "Oh, let's look it up on Google", instead of musing and exchanging ideas with others of interest in the outside world.

    However, I fully understand that merely reciting information back isn't an effective learning method. I want my future students to be able to process information and be able to put it into context. In the information age, being able to interpret information is more important that ever!

    You had some awesome comments about a group learning environment. I can't wait to hear more of your ideas about an interactive classroom!


    Lance Wilkinson