Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blog Assignment #10

Revolution - Transforming Education
     After watching Sir Ken Robinson's TED TALKS video on youtube, I'm feeling super inspired that I can make a positive impact on my students' lives, and help them realize that they are capable of achieving their dreams. In Robinson's lecture, he talks about the fact that we can't keep trying to improve something that just isn't working. Robinson believes we need a revolution in the way we approach education, and I fully agree with this. Right now, the education system is very "linear" or standardized, and teachers need to be customizing what they do in the classroom based on what their individual students need. Not only that, but teachers need to encourage their students to start discovering their passions, to work hard for their dreams, and let children know that it's okay to be different, and have different goals that you want to achieve! Success is not a one way street.
Earl Nightingale Quote     One thing that stood out to me in Robinson's lecture is that when you are spending time working on something that you are truly passionate about, time isn't an issue. When you put your heart into something you enjoy, you don't mind the hours you spend working at it! I've experienced this through music, and it's an amazing feeling when you find that one thing (or multiple things) that you are passionate about. I want to encourage my students to find that thing they love to do, and help them realize that if they work hard, and put the effort in, they can go out and make their dreams happen. I think the greatest thing that I can take away from Robinson's lecture is to make it a goal in my classroom to create an environment for my students in which they can be successful and flourish, and also to create a positive environment for them where they know that it's okay to be dreamers, to make mistakes, and to start new goals, as long as they are learning in the process. If I can teach my students to keep that mindset, I feel like this is something they can take with them for the rest of their lives, and they will be able to achieve so much with that!

Project #15 [Project Based Learning Plan #3]

     For Project #15, I created a high-school geometry project where students will take on the role of scholars, and conduct research to prove the Pythagorean Theorem. They will share their results by giving a group oral presentation, and will also have the opportunity to design their own webpages to show the proofs that they have found! To read more about this project, and access materials such as the project overview and project calendar, you can check out my google site linked here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blog Assignment #9

     For this blogpost assignment, I had the opportunity to watch a Skype interview with Ms. Cassidy, a first grade teacher from Moose Jaw, Canada. In her interview, Ms. Cassidy talked about how she has been using technology in her classroom for about 10 years now, and she talked a little bit about how she got started! Her first grade students are using technology in the classroom by blogging, creating wiki's, and they also use her class webpage to access different games and websites where they can continue their learning even more. Ms. Cassidy's words were encouraging because she emphasized that you do not have to know how to do it all at first! She let us know that she started out with blogging, and then expanded to other things from there. Using a class blog for my students is definitely something that I would like to do someday so it was a relief to hear that I can start with that, and then build up more activities that incorporate technology as I feel comfortable, and as I learn about them.
      Another thing that I learned from Dr. Strange's interview with Ms. Cassidy is that she teaches her students important rules about internet safety so there isn't a big concern with using the internet or technology in her classroom! Not only does Ms. Cassidy teach them the basic need-to-know things about internet safety, but she also emphasizes to her students that they stay on the websites that she provides, and that they don't click any ads on the outside of the page. I agree with Ms. Cassidy that this is something that we need to teach our students, and that we need to address from the beginning! By teaching our students how to be safe, and providing them with safe places and tools to do their research, it takes away the scary factor of using the internet in school. Technology is here, and it isn't going away so it's our job as teachers to guide our students in the right direction! By addressing this issue, it opens the doors for students to take advantage of the internet as a wonderful tool for learning. 
Blogging Wordle
     When asked how her students like blogging, Ms. Cassidy said that they love it! She brought up an interesting point that using technology isn't anything special or out of the ordinary for students nowadays. These things are a part of their world now, and it's pretty awesome that they don't have to shut that part of their world out when they come to school anymore. They are able to use these tools which they already use anyways as a way to improve their learning, and the kids obviously enjoy doing that! Not only does blogging help improve her student's writing, but it also gives them the opportunity to connect with other students, and provides them with an audience so they can get feedback! Her kids love the fact that they receive page views and comments on their work, and it is something that they look forward to. The fact that blogging can provide that for students seems pretty invaluable to me!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Project #4 [C4T Summary #2]

     For my second C4T, I'll be featuring Kathleen Morris, a teacher at Leopold Primary School all the way from Victoria, Australia! Kathleen's blog has a lot of great information, some awesome tips for new teachers, and several posts that will get you inspired about how to start blogging in your own classroom! I found myself reading back through lots of older posts, and this blog will definitely be one that I am bookmarking because I know I'll want to look back on these posts after I graduate. The two posts that I'll be featuring today share some tips for recent graduate teachers, and also the difference between blogging, and effective blogging. Yes, there is a difference!
     In the first post I checked out, Kathleen talked about how she's been away from school on maternity leave, but how awesome it's been to be able to stay in the loop in the education world through her PLN, and through blogging. The first post that I got the chance to read shared some tips for teachers who have just recently graduated! I've created an outline featuring these tips below:
• Place getting to know your students above all else!
• Allow students to get involved in structuring and decorating their classroom. (You don't have to do it all.)
• Establish a way to communicate with parents from the beginning.
• Build Your Own PLN
• Set high expectations & follow through.
• Make students feel safe, and comfortable, and let them know that it is OK to make mistakes. We are learning together!
• Learn to Prioritize
• Have FUN!
     For my comment, I let Kathleen know that I'm a student in EDM 310, and a little bit about what this class is all about. I let her know that I appreciated the tips and resources that she shared in her post, and that I'd be featuring her blog, and sharing these tips with my fellow classmates! I also let her know that I'm in the process of building up my own PLN right now, and that it's been awesome to find out that there are so many great blogs with advice for new teachers. I let Kathleen know that I'd be bookmarking her blog, and adding it to my list so I can check out these tips later when I'm about to start teaching in my own classroom someday!
     The second post that I got to check out talked about the difference between just blogging in the classroom, and using blogging in an effective way! Some schools allow their students to use blogs to express themselves in any way that they want! There's no guidance in the process. Kathleen shares with us a few ways to create a program that uses a more structured approach to blogging. Kathleen suggests that you can begin with a class blog before allowing students to work on their own individual blogs. Not only does this make it easier to manage at first, but it gives students a chance to learn about the basics of blogging, gives teachers time to ask for parent's permission, and gives teachers plenty of time to get everything started, and work out all of the minor details. In order to create a blogging program that is actually effective, the teacher then needs to create blog assignments that incorporate the students' different curriculum areas, and high standards need to be set for what is expected! The blog should be regularly maintained, and students should be given feedback for the work they produce so they can actually use it to improve themselves in the future! Blogging can be started slowly so teachers shouldn't be intimidated at first. As you keep going with it, the easier it will become! 
     For my comment, I told Kathleen that I totally agreed with her that this approach to blogging should be used. Otherwise, it is pointless! I thanked her for another great post, let her know that I would be featuring another one of her posts again, and that I'd be visiting her blog again after I graduate because I found so many of her posts with advice for new teachers to be so helpful! This was another great week for C4T for me because I learned a lot about how to get started with blogging in my own classroom someday. 

Blog Assignment #8

     For this blogpost, Dr. Strange had us research to find a 21st century learning tool that we might like to use in our classroom someday. For me, this was pretty easy because luckily I've had some great math teachers who used technology as a way to take what we were learning in the classroom, and to make opportunities available for us to go further with that learning at home. One tool that would allow me to do this with my own students is the iPad! 

iPad on top of a stack of books

     One of the things that I would like to do in my classroom someday is use short videos to introduce lesson plans to my students, and I would also like to provide video materials on the class blog for students who need review or just need some extra help with a certain topic. One of my Calculus professors used her laptop to record our math lesson notes as she would present them, and would then post them online after class as pdf files so we could easily access them again at home, and so they would be available for us to look back on to study before test time. I really appreciated her doing this, and I was inspired by that to find a tool where I could do something similar with technology in my own math classroom someday.
     After my research, I found a great, free app, Educreations, which will allow you to do this with the iPad! The best way to describe what this app can do is to use the description listed in the App Store. Educreations turns your iPad into a "recordable whiteboard", where you can create videos, add voice recordings to them, and use your handwriting to take math lessons from being something that were once just available in the classroom, to bring those lessons back home for your students! I've linked a video below created by  Jason Fournier, where he gives his students a lesson about the pythagorean theorem, and this video will give you a glimpse into some of the amazing things that you can create with this app! 

     I would like to use this app to create short videos to introduce lesson plans to students BEFORE they come into the classroom, and I'd also like to provide review materials that I can organize on my own class blog that I will have for my students someday. An app like Educreations will make this process super easy, and as you can see from the video above, you can get as creative as you want! One other thing I might try with my students is to allow them to create their own videos! In my 7th grade algebra class, our teacher taught us a few funny songs to help us remember our formulas, the order of operations, etc., and I still remember them to this day. I think it would be fun to teach my students some of these songs, and allow them to split up into groups to record their own music videos with Educreations. I could post them on the class blog for them to access later, and they could listen to their classmates' music videos to study and review their formulas before tests. These are just a few ways that this app could come in handy in my math classroom, and the possibilities seem pretty endless! 

Project #14 [Project Based Learning Plan #2]

     For Project #14, Dr. Strange had us come up with our first project based lesson plan on our own! Since I am studying to become a math teacher someday, my project is for a high-school geometry class, and teaches students how to use their knowledge of geometry skills to be able to produce goal-winning soccer shots! To read more about this project, check out my google site linked here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blog Assignment #7

     For this blog assignment, I had the opportunity to watch an inspiring lecture by Randy Pausch, a former Carnegie Mellon professor. He talks about each of his childhood dreams, and how he was able to achieve many of them! Dr. Strange asked us to think about what we could learn about teaching and learning from Pausch's last lecture, and I can say I definitely feel inspired after watching this video. Pausch's attitude, and his outlook on life are something to admire.
     In part of his lecture, Pausch talks about how he gave his students the opportunity to create a project, and how they blew him away with their work. He said they had done enough work in this one project alone that he would've felt comfortable giving them an "A" for the entire semester. When he went to one of his colleagues for advice on what to do for the rest of the projects, since his students had exceeded his expectations nearly beyond belief, his friend told him to tell his students that he knew they could do better, and expected them to achieve more the next time around! One of the greatest things that I took away from Pausch's lecture is that you shouldn't do your students a disservice by setting the bar too low for them. If we set low expectations because we believe that's the only effort that our students are going to put in, we are limiting them. By believing that they can and will achieve great things, we are setting them up for success; and by giving them this, we are giving them the opportunity to blow us away with what they can do.
Work Hard. Dream Big.
     Along with that, Pausch talks a lot about working hard, and choosing to lead your life this way. If you put in good effort, and truly give it your all, Pausch believes that karma will do its work, and dreams and opportunities will present themselves to you! From my experience, I have to say I agree with this. During the times that I was truly passionate about something, and put my whole heart in it, opportunities did present themselves. This lecture was a good reminder for me to keep trying to live my life this way.
     The last thing that I took away from Pausch's lecture is that if you are going to do anything new or "pioneering", you are going to get arrows in your back. Anytime you take a risk and do something differently, there are going to be critics! There are going to be people who don't believe in or understand what you are doing, and some maybe never will. Pausch inspired me that if I ever face this, to keep pressing forward with what I'm doing, and what I believe in, and to not let other people's criticisms discourage me. Of course, I should always be open to feedback, especially as a teacher, but if I want to approach teaching in a new way, I shouldn't get discouraged if some people just don't understand at first. Something that I hope to share with my students someday, like Randy Pausch did with his students and the millions of people that he has inspired through his last lecture, is to never lose their childlike wonder in life! Pausch believes that this is what drives us, and I want to inspire my students to keep that perspective, and to keep dreaming and believing that amazing things can happen.

Project #13 [Project Based Learning Plan #1]

     For Project #13, Dr. Strange had us work collaboratively with our groups to come up with an idea for our first Project Based Learning Plan. You can check out my group's work over at our Google Site linked here! We chose to create a project for 2nd grade geometry, which teaches students to recognize different geometric shapes, involves technology, and really gets students thinking about why geometry is important in the real world, and our everyday lives! Our project allows students to get hands on, and creative, and we've included a project calendar, project overview, and rubric for your use over at the website that I mentioned before. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how we could make this project better or if you have an idea for a PBL Plan of your own, please feel free to share them below!

C4K Summary for February

     For Project #6, all of the EDM 310 students are participating in C4K. For those of you who don't know what C4K is, it stands for Comments 4 Kids! Every week, Dr. Strange assigns us a different student's blog to check out, and over the semester, we are able to leave positive, encouraging comments on several kid's schoolwork from different schools located all over the world! This month I got to comment on student's blogs from so many different age groups, and from so many different places! C4K is another project that shows just how powerful technology can be in the classroom, and how awesome it is to connect through class blogs. It shows kids that they have an audience, helps them feel proud of their work, and hopefully encourages them to keep achieving more! It also gives us a great opportunity to get ideas from our student's teachers for different activities that we can use to incorporate technology into the classroom. I've linked my student's blogs below in case you want to keep the C4K going, and leave them a comment as well!

Comments 4 Kids

Stephanie from Mrs. Reuter's 5th/6th Grade Classes in Wisconsin
     For my first C4K, I got to check out Stephanie's blog! Mrs. Reuter had her 5th and 6th grade students write an online review about two different comic strip websites that they used. Stephanie made her comic strip about "buddies", and in her review she was able to add multiple links and screenshots for each of the different websites! It's pretty impressive to see fifth and sixth graders being able to use HTML code so well, and it's the perfect example of how times have changed so much since the time that I was that age! For my comment, I introduced myself, and let Stephanie know that I'm a student in EDM 310, and a little bit about what this class is all about. I told her how impressed I was that she already knew how to blog so well, and that some of us are just now learning how to properly link things, and that we're in college! I also mentioned how awesome I think it is that we are able to share what we are learning with others, and that we are able to connect with others from all around the world. I sent her a link to my blog, just in case she wanted to check it out, and told her to keep up the good work!

William Epic from Mrs. Little's Grade 3 Class at Hong Kong International School
     For my second C4K, I got to check out a blog post from "William Epic". This week's assignment connected two people from two places very far away because William is a Grade 3 student all the way from Hong Kong! William didn't have very many posts up, but he did have one or two that I could check out. In the post that I commented on, William shared that he got a new dog with all of his classmates, and also included a photo of her. I told William that I remember how excited I was whenever I got my puppy, and all of the good memories and how much fun it was! I also told William how impressed I was with the fact that he already knew how to add photos to his blogposts. I let him know that I had a photo of my puppy over on my class blog, and shared the link just in case he wanted to check it out. I told him to keep up the good work with blogging, and to have fun playing with Malibu!

Mychelle from Mrs. Miller's HS English Class in Baldwin County
     For my third C4K, I got to read an essay written by a high school English student in Baldwin County. Mrs. Miller had her students write an essay about one of their strongest beliefs in an essay called "This I Believe...". My student, Mychelle, chose to write about her stepdad, and his battle with cancer. She talked about how scary the situation was at first, but how much closer it has brought their family together. I've also had a few of my family members get diagnosed with cancer at different times in my life, and my grandpa actually just passed away from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer recently so this is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I know how tough it can be on a family, and I'm so glad that I was able to leave some encouraging words for Mychelle through this week's C4K. Mychelle's belief was "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", and I let her know the fact that she has been so strong and brave has definitely been inspiring to me. I ended my comment by letting her know I'd keep her family in my thoughts, and told her to keep her head up!

Ashlie L from Mrs. Tia Frahm's 7th Grade Class at Bode Middle School in St. Joseph, MO
      For my last C4K for this month, I got to read some poetry! Mrs. Tia Frahm had her 7th grade students create a poem after picking out their favorite paint chip color, and getting inspired by the name. Not only did they have to write their own poem, but they also had to include 10 figurative languages in it along with an idiom, alliteration, a metaphor, and an example of imagery. Ashlie's poem was inspired by the name "Tropical Bloom", and her poem was about the beach, and all of the feelings that come along with summertime. In my comment, I let Ashlie know how much I enjoyed reading her poem, and that I was really impressed with how creative she got. I don't think I'd be able to write a poem this well in 7th grade, and I really liked the idea for the writing prompt because it sparks creativity! I let Ashlie know that I was a student at South in EDM 310, and how awesome it is that we are able to connect, and share our schoolwork through our class blogs. When you spend time creating something, and putting effort into it, it's nice to hear back from someone. I sent her a link to my class blog, and told her to keep up the good work with her writing!