Sunday, February 27, 2011
“Networked Student”- This video is all about conectivism. Connectivisim is the belief that learning occurs best when a student is connected with the world. This way the student can have access to the many different perspectives that other people have on this topic. This video shows that if a teacher decides to allow students to use tools available on the internet, then they will learn more than the traditional teaching style of lecturing and using textbooks. This is a student centered form of learning instead of teacher centered learning. The student can create their own PLN or Personal Learning Network. This includes websites, blogs, podcasts and other tools that the student has found on the internet and can save on a social bookmarking site such as delicious. This way the student can keep track of all the information that they have gathered and they can share their information with others who are interested in learning about the same topic. Another great thing these students can do is create a blog so that they can record their own thoughts about the material that they have found and get feedback from others about it. A class blog would be a great way to connect all the students in this class together so that they can discuss topics and show what they have learned.
Connectivism opens up a lot more opportunities for the students than the traditional, lecture style teaching that many educators still employ. By allowing students to control their own learning, this makes them feel more involved and therefore more motivated. The students also have access to vast amounts of information that is available on the World Wide Web. They are not limited to only hearing the opinion of their teacher and the author of their textbook. There are so many tools available to students these days because of the invention of technology, but many teachers are still teaching in the exact same manner as teachers did decades ago before this technology was available. Why is this? Perhaps teachers are resistant connectivism and student centered learning because they don’t understand technology and they refuse to learn. Maybe the teacher is worried that if the employ connectivism in their classroom, then their job will be obsolete. However, this is a misconception.
What is the role of the teacher in a classroom that is based on connectivism? The teacher still has an extremely important role in this process. The teacher in a classroom which employs connectivism acts as a guide for his/her students. This is completely different from a teacher is a traditional classroom who acts as the authority and the main source of information in the class. The teacher in the class based on connectivism must teach his students to decipher fact from opinion and good information from falsehood. This teacher must give their student direction on their learning journey and help them to learn to use the proper tools along the way. The teacher must motivate their students and make sure that each student is doing their work. The teacher can’t just sit back and assume that the students are going to teach themselves simply because they are making their own PLN.
I think that more teachers should base their lesson plans on connectivism because it would open up so many opportunities for the students. It would also actively engage the students! Many students would rather learn by researching things fir themselves rather than just listening to a teacher’s opinion. If you would like to watch this video, you can follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwM4ieFOotA&feature=player_embedded
“A Seventh Grader’s Personal Learning Environment”- This is a video made by a student that is involved in a networked science class. In this class, each student has their own social bookmarking account which includes a link to their class website. Their class website has the assignments that the students must complete for that day. It also includes informational articles and videos that the students can learn from. This class is much like EDM310 because the students are in control of when and where they must complete their assignments. The teacher also has incentives for the students to complete projects. For example, if the students want to have the privilege of holding the class pet, they must first write a report about that animal and post it on their blog.
I think that this is a great example of how connectivism can be effective in the classroom. The student that created this video stated that they enjoyed being in a classroom that involved networked learning. They said that the freedom that they had to choose when and how to complete their work gave them a sense of responsibility. It is important to teach students to self-regulate their learning. This will make students more dependable individuals who will know how to keep up with their assignments and use their time effectively. If you would like to view this video, it can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEls3tq5wIY.
The Pros and Cons of Smartboards- I read two articles which discussed the negative aspects of interactive white boards. Both of the articles were written by teachers. One of these teachers had used a smartboard in his classroom for a year and decided to give it away because he thought that it was useless. There are two main arguments that both of these teachers mentioned in their articles. The first argument is that interactive white boards do not make classroom instruction more effective or more student-centered. They simply reinforce the traditional style of teaching where teachers lecture and the students are not actively engaged. There are many more effective and interactive forms of technology which involve both teacher and student participation. Also, some teachers that have smartboards in their classrooms never learn to use the m effectively. They simply use the smartboard as a projector which is a very wasteful practice since a smartboard costs thousands of dollars. This leads me to the second argument that the writers gave against smartboards. Smartboards are very expensive. Although smartboards are very cool, there are many other technological tools that teachers can use which cost nothing at all. Overall, these teachers feel that smartboards are not constructive in any way and they do not improve the classroom learning environment. Administrators simply buy them because they are required to spend money on technology and smartboards look impressive. If you would like o read these articles, follow these links
I also read an article which discussed the many benefits of Smartboards. For example, students of all ages are drawn to Smartboards. They encourage class participation because the students enjoy being able to use the Smartboards. They are very colorful and allow teachers to not only project their lesson plans, but also navigate to different webpages or word document while still interacting with the class. The teacher can write on the screen with their finger or the special Smartboard pen and then print out the notes that they have written for the students. Another great point that the writer made was that the Smartboard caters to tactile, auditory and visual learners. The author also points out that these boards are useful when teaching students how to navigate new websites or use tools which are available in the internet. This article can be found at http://teachers.net/gazette/JAN02/mabell.html
These articles make completely opposite claims about Smartboards. The first two articles claim that Smartboards prohibit class participation because it just gives another way for teacher to stand in front of the class and lecture. The third article claims that Smartboards actually encourage classroom participation because students are excited to use Smartboards. I think that whether or not Smartboards encourage or inhibit class participation ultimately depends on the teacher that is using the board. Some teachers may encourage students to come up and use the board while other teachers would just use the board to enhance their own lecture. However, I do question how much benefit the students would get from simply writing on the Smartboard. This can be achieved by a regular white board. I think that it is essential to incorporate technology into the classroom, but I don’t think simply writing on a Smartboard captures the full potential of technology. The writer of the third article did point out that the Smartboard allows more students to interact with the computer if there is only one computer in the classroom. Overall, I’m not sure where I stand on the use of Smartboards in the classroom because I have never used one personally. I think that if a teacher does have a Smartboard in their classroom, it is important that they learn how to properly and effectively utilize the board.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Comments for kids is a great program because it gives me an opportunity to see what kind of posts my future students might make if I decided to create a class blog. I can see a lot of benefits to creating a class blog. Some of these benefits include students learning to create a blog and other technological tools, students learning safe habits for using the internet, students practicing writing skills and parents being able to view and comment on their child's work. Over the past three weeks, I have commented on three different blogs made by children. I enjoyed reading what these kids had to say!
The first blog that I commented on was made by a sixth grade boy named Marshall who is in Mr. Carmichael's class. The blog that I commented on was titled "Cheesetastic". In his blog, Marshall discussed the many different kinds of cheese that there are. Then he stated that his favorite kind of cheese is cheddar. Finally, Marshall asked his readers to post a comment about their favorite kind of cheese. I posted the following comment:
"I would have to say that colby jack is the best kind of cheese to eat with crackers. However, with nachos I really like queso blanco which is a type of cheese that originates from Spain. Mozzarella cheese and feta are a really good combination on pizza! So I really couldn’t choose one best kind of cheese. I think that they are all good in different recipes. This was a great post! Keep up the good work!" It was good to see that this teacher encouraged his students to write about topics that they are personally interested in.
The second blog that I commented on was made by Sosaia. Sosaia is a year 4 student at Pt. England School in New Zealand. Sosaia has made many interesting posts! The post that I commented on was a video that he made called "My Mighty Mariners". The video included a story that Sosaia narrated and illustrations that he had made. Sosaia also added a soundtrack that played at the beginning and end of his movie. I left the following comment on his blog:
"My name is Rebecca Warnberg. I am a sophomore at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. In this class, we learn to use technology just like you have by making this video. I enjoyed watching your video. I liked the drawings that you had and the music was very entertaining, as well! I think your video was very creative." I think that Sosaia's blog reflected a lot of hard work and great learning experiences.
The final blog that I commented on was written by a student in Mr. Wolfe's Class. This was a very interesting blog to read because this student had written their own short story about Sherlock Holmes. I thought this was a great assignment because the student got to use their imagination, practice writing skills and share their creation on their blog. I left the following comment for the student:
"I think you did a wonderful job writing this story. The ending was very surprising. I never would have guessed that the fish had learned to talk by eating magical fish food. I think your story was very unique and creative! I hope that you continue to write stories."
I think that all of these students did a wonderful job with guidance from their teachers. I;m glad to see that there are many teachers out there who are committed to teaching their students the benefits of using technology.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Eagle Nest Radio & Class Blog-
This is an amazing blog which features several class projects and individual projects made by third grade students! Their blog can be found at http://blog.woodward.edu/ps_edmison/?cat=103.Some of these projects include audio podcasts with topics about history and science. The audio podcasts usually involved three or four students discussing different aspects of a subject and a host who guided the discussion. For example, one podcast was about ancient Rome. The children talked about Roman architecture, gladiators and famous Romans who made a significant impact on history such as Julius Caesar. The audio also included great background music and sound effects! There are also videos made by individual students with drawings and audio. In these videos, the children illustrate topics that they have learned about in class and give commentary on them.
I was very impressed with the work of the students in this class and their teacher. I think that this is a very innovative way to get students excited about history. It’s incredible that third graders can accomplish so much with the help of their teacher! These videos and audio podcasts do not only benefit the students that make them. I think that many children would enjoy listening to these podcasts and learning from students their own age. I also think it’s a great way to get parents interested in what their children are learning in school. I would love to implement these kinds of projects in my future classroom because I think it would make learning fun for the students!
This is a great website featuring blogs and podcasts written by Sylvia Tolsiano. This blogs has many great ideas that teachers can implement in their classroom. The great thing about this blog is that these ideas have already been tested in a classroom setting and Ms. Tolsiano posts the results of the projects in videos she takes of her students. The students seem very excited about the projects that they are participating in. The projects incorporate a variety of subjects and challenge the students to use many different skills. The blogs include topics that involve a variety of grade levels, so there are ideas for all teachers! This website can be found at http://langwitches.org/blog/category/podcasting/.
One project that was featured on this page was “The Flat Stanley Podcast” created by a second grade class. Their project was inspired by a book they read called “Flat Stanley” which is about a boy that was flattened in a billboard accident and begins travelling around the world in letters. First, the students sent their own Flat Stanleys in letters to family members and they received letters back. Then the students researched different places that they could send Flat Stanley and wrote a short story about a Flat Stanley adventure. Then, the students created a podcast about all that they had done and learned. I think that this was a great project because it involved many skills such as reading, writing, researching, and geography. Then the students reviewed all they had learned by creating a podcast which they could share with their families and friends. What an amazing idea!
The Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom
This is a vodcast (podcast with video) that discusses the benefits of allowing students to create podcasts in class which can be found at http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/2009/04/the-benefits-of-podcasting-in-the-classroom.html. It also mentions some benefits of teachers creating podcasts of their lessons. I had heard many of these benefits mentioned before, but they mentioned two reasons that really stood out for me. The first reason that they gave which I found particularly interesting is that if teachers record their lectures on podcasts, students who are sick can listen to their teachers lesson so that they will not get behind. This is a great idea, especially if a student has an extended illness which prevents them from coming to school. Another interesting idea that was mentioned this vodcast was a project that a teacher in this video had implemented in his own classroom. The teacher recorded his students reading portions of a novel that they were assigned to read for class. Then he put this podcast on iTunes so that the students could download it onto their computers or iPods. The students seemed really excited about this project and one girl even said that she and her family enjoyed listening to the podcasts together. Podcasts can be useful in so many ways that I had never thought of before!
Education Podcasting Network
This is a website that is full of podcasts posted by educators which offer ideas for other teachers. The website offers a plethora of podcasts about a huge variety of subjects. All of these podcasts are organized by topic and grade level so that teachers can easily navigate the website to find the information that they are looking for. I listened to one of the podcasts that was posted on this website called Hartbeat Radio Episode #19. This podcast featured students talking about composers such as Beethoven and Mozart. I think this is a wonderful resource. It's great that teachers are posting podcasts made by themselves and their students so that their hard work can benefit others! You can view the Education Podcasting Network for yourself at http://epnweb.org/index.php?openpod=16
This is a podcast that I created with Cherish Hamner and Colby-Win Beasley. Our podcast explores the idea of allowing students to use cell phones in the classroom for educational purposes. If you would like to visit Cherish's blog click on this link: http://hamnercherishedm310.blogspot.com/
If you would like to visit Colby-Win's blog, click on this link:
We hope you enjoy our podcast and that it broadens your understanding of the topic of cell phones in the classroom.
If you would like to visit Colby-Win's blog, click on this link:
We hope you enjoy our podcast and that it broadens your understanding of the topic of cell phones in the classroom.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
“Don’t Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?”- This blog post was created by Dr. Scott McLeod. Dr. McLeod is a professor at the University of Iowa. Dr. McLeod is also the director of UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education. Dr. McLeod is dedicated to making educators technologically literate. He also shows an interest in making sure that the future generations are taught to be technologically literate in school. He makes this evident in his post “Don’t Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?” This post can be found at http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2009/08/dont-teach-your-kids-this-stuff-please.html.
In this blog post Dr. McLeod addresses a problem that he sees with overprotective teachers and parents who are against students using technology. Dr. McLeod points out misconceptions that these adults have about students and technology. For instance, some teachers may think that it is good enough for students to stick to writing assignments with a pen and paper and that it is not necessary for students to post their thoughts on the web. Teachers who think this way cut their students off from the possibility of getting recognition for their work or feedback from a global audience. Dr. McLeod also brings up the point that some adults may believe that students will only use the internet and technology for inappropriate purposes such as pornography or sexting. Although technology does allow students to do inappropriate things, this does not mean that technology is evil or that all students will do these things.
“The iSchool Initiative”- This is a youtube video posted by a high school student named Travis. This clip can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68KgAcx_9jU. Travis proposes his idea for improving our educational system while solving budget problems as well. Travis believes that schools should equip their students with an iTouch which is a touch screen mp3 player made by Apple. This device is equipped with wireless internet access with which students could access school assignments, email, and many educational applications. Travis believes that incorporating iTouch technology in school will make a more efficient, less expensive and more eco-friendly environment.
The first question that popped in my head was how would giving each student an expensive electronic device improve the school’s budget? However, Travis has done the math and he claims that, by eliminating the need for traditional school materials such as paper, pencils and copy machines, schools could save $600 per student. This point is appealing because it saves both money and trees. Travis claims that the average cost of an iTouch is $150. I did some research and found that the cheapest iTouch which is the 8GB costs $229. Despite this slight underestimate of cost, it sounds like this idea might have the potential to save money. This video leaves me with many questions. I would have liked Travis to expand more on how this idea would play out. I was impressed with his presentation and his innovative idea though.
“The Lost Generation”- This is youtube video which asks it’s viewers to contemplate problems that are rampant in our current society. Some of the issues that it addresses include the high divorce rate, greed and mixed up priorities. The speaker in the video identifies that these are problems which are present in our society today and have the potential to become even worse. I completely agree with this video because I think it is shameful that many people in this country place more importance on their careers than their families. I also think it is very sad that people do not take marriage vows very seriously anymore.
Although these are all very sad and serious problems, the video states that there is hope for the future. The video begins with scrolling text which makes statements such as “My employer will know that my priorities are straight because work is more important than family.” This statement is a satirical portrayal of the American mentality today. The scroll then plays backwards and reads “Family is more important than work. I have my priorities straight because my employer will know that.” I think that this technique is very clever because it shows how many people have a backwards way of thinking by playing the statements backwards first. I think that this is a great video which touches on many truths that Americans have forgotten about or chosen to ignore. If you would like to watch this video it can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA&feature=player_embedded.
“Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir”- This youtube video features the song “Lux Aurumque” which translated from Latin into English means light and gold. This choir has 185 people from 12 countries. That description sounds pretty impressive. However, the most impressive thing about this choir is that none of the singers were together when recording. They all recorded separate videos of themselves singing which were later put together by Eric Whitacre. The song sounds so amazing that I could not have known that this choir never practiced together if the video had not indicated that this was the case.
I think that Mr. Whitacre’s virtual choir project is amazing because it shows the power of technology. The use of technology can bring people across the globe together. Complete strangers were united in one purpose to make beautiful music. This idea can be applied not only to making music, but to any collaborative effort. This is the true power of technology that teachers need to make use of in their classrooms. The possibilities are endless. If you would like to hear the virtual choir’s performance of “Lux Aurumque” it can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs&feature=player_embedded#at=29.
“Teaching in the 21st Century”- This youtube video asks the viewer to think about how teaching in the 21st century needs to change. Many teachers still rely on old techniques that have been used since the beginning of public educations such as the chalkboard, books, pencils and paper. Now there are many more tools available for teachers, so why do teachers only focus on using the old ways? The old style of teaching is focused on making students memorize facts that could only be found in books. Nowadays, these facts can be found within seconds on the internet. Children don’t need to go to school to learn facts which they can find easily on their home computer, iPod or cell phone. Teachers now need to focus on showing students how to analyze and interpret these facts so they can apply them to real life situations.
I think the creator of this video touches on some great points. Teachers do need to do more than just teach facts and information. However, I don’t think that this style of teaching should totally be thrown out the window. It is still important to know facts and formulas! I think that the main problem is that teachers need to come up with more engaging ways to present this information and more innovative projects where students can use this information. Let’s not forget that although children do have access to important information, they are not always motivated to search for the information. Also, students don’t always understand information that they find. That is where teachers come in. I think that the best message that this video sends is that using technology is not about entertainment. When teachers use technology, they are not trying to just entertain students. They are trying to engage students and show them that learning can be interesting and relevant to their everyday lives. It can even be fun! This video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmskHM0V2Ig&feature=player_embedded%23!.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
“A Vision of Students Today”- This video makes a statement about the fast-paced lives of today’s college students. The creator of the video seems to believe that traditional, lecture-style classes do not reach today’s students. Since there are a lot more tools available to professors today, why don’t they use them? Why are we still using chalkboards and taking notes when all of this can be done more effectively with laptops, projectors and smart boards? The possibilities are endless, but some professors aren’t interested in unleashing the power of these resources. This isn’t the case in all of my classrooms. Some teachers use powerpoint, but they stop there. I think that professors could make more of an effort to improve their lesson plans with technology.
I don’t completely agree with the message that this video is sending. One of the statements made by a student in this video is “I facebook through my classes.” Another students says “My neighbor paid to take this class, but never comes.” Is this the fault of the professor? I believe the answer is no. More blame should be placed upon the shoulders of lazy students. Not every subject has to be extremely exciting. We don’t pay to go to college so we can be entertained. We come here to learn. Although technology is a great tool, it is not the answer to all of the problems with the educational system today. Students need to be more dedicated to learning and less focused on amusing themselves.
“It’s Not About the Technology”- “Wait a minute. It’s not about the technology? Why am I in EDM 310? Why am posting this blog?” These are the thoughts that might go through the head of a student enrolled in EDM 310 when they first encounter this statement. This is the bold claim that Kelly Hines in her blog post. At first a person might disregard this statement as ridiculous, but when you read the rest of her post it all become clear. Ms. Hines is not against technology, but she is against teachers who misuse technology because they refuse to learn the proper way to use it. Ms. Hines also states that technology is not the most important thing for a teacher to use either. So what is important to Ms. Hines? In her post, she states four things that teacher’s should do to improve their own teaching style and our educational system as a whole. First, teachers must be willing to learn new ways to make their classroom more effective. Second, teachers must be willing to try new approaches to teaching if their usual methods aren’t working. Third, teachers need to learn how to use technology effectively. Fourth, making students technologically literate is useful, but not as important as teaching core subjects, creativity and study skills.
I enjoyed this post because Ms. Hines makes some insightful points which I myself have thought about before. How can I as a future teacher ask my students to embrace learning if I refuse to learn? Teachers must learn to practice what they preach. Secondly, in our current technology obsessed society it’s easy to get carried away. Contrary to proper belief, technology is not the most important that students need to learn about in school. However, when teachers do use technology they need to use it properly. An example of misuse of technology in the classroom involves my teachers in high school. Many of them had Smart Boards in their classrooms and only used them as projectors. This is pointless! So overall I think this post makes a great point.
“Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?”- Obviously the answer to this question is a resounding no. The author of this article challenges teachers to step up to the plate and stop thinking it is okay to ignore technology. I had a teacher in high school who did not even understand how to work the online grading program that our school district used. This is pathetic. So I can see the author’s point when he says that being technologically illiterate today is almost like being unable to read and write. Back when this teacher started his career, he had probably never seen a computer. Then thirty years later he is still teaching and everything had changed. He was completely out of the loop. This makes me wonder if there will be new technologies that I will totally refuse to learn about after I have been teaching for twenty or thirty years. I hope I will never get to that point.
The author does state that technology is not the answer to all of our problems. However, he also says that it is an extremely important tool which all teachers should make use of. I agree with pretty much everything in this article although it does make some extreme claims. Sometime you have to be extreme if you want to see change!
Social Media Count- The statistics shown here are astronomical, but not really surprising considering how many people there are in the world. I think this is just more proof that technology has become part of the fabric of our society. It cannot be ignored. That’s why teachers need to find a way to make use of the exponential growth of technology. If you ignore these statistics, then you are blind.
This week I commented on two posts made my Bryan Jackson, a high school teacher from British Columbia, on his blog Adventures in a Gifted Classroom which can be found at http://bryanjack.edublogs.org/author/bryanjack/. The first post that I commented on was a music video that his class had made. It was a parody of "Don't Stop Believing" which they titled "Don't Stop Believing in Santa Claus". The video featured guitar, cello, drums, piano and two vocalists. I thought that the video was a fun way to let the class practice their musical talent while learning about technology. The students got the experience of recording and posting a video on youtube for the whole world to see, as well. I thought that this was a great activity for the students because it was a creative way to teach them about technology, practice musical skills and have fun all at the same time.
The second post I commented on was a post about changing the way that we run schools and classrooms. Some of the ideas that the post mentioned include going a week without using technology in the classroom, stopping the use of bells and time schedules, no longer using desks or chairs in the classroom, and no longer using textbooks or paper. Although I do not think that some of these ideas would work out in a real classroom setting, it was still interesting to think about ways that educators could try renovating our school system. As future educators, we need to start thinking about ways that we can change the status quo. We just might find some new classroom techniques that would benefit the students and make the learning environment in schools even better.
Overall I'm glad that I read Mr. Jackson's blog because it seems to me that he is an unconventional teacher who is willing to think outside the box and take some risks in the classroom. Some educators might be opposed to this. They may raise objections like "This new environment that Mr. Jackson is suggesting would be chaos" or "An idea like that sounds good in theory, but it would never work in a real classroom". I think a quote from Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is appropriate here. "Playing anything to roll the dice just one more time. Some will win. Some will lose." Let's take a chance and challenge what our current society thinks is the appropriate way to run a classroom. The truth is that we will never know what other possibilities there are to make schools better until we try. Who knows? We could totally change the way that American schools run forever. Not just for our own sake, but for the good of the students.
I revisited Mr. Jackson's blog this week and read his post which was entitled "Something for Myself This Week". In this post, Mr. Jackson reflects on his quest to integrate technology in his classroom. He compares this quest to a journey through a desert or a jungle. He also accompanied his post with a video of a trip that he recently took which adds to his metaphor. I enjoyed this post because sometimes I feel like trying to learn about new technology is a difficult quest, as well. However, Mr. Jackson leaves me with hope at the end of this post by stating that we are all part of a huge technological learning community. The posts that we make about our thoughts may be benefiting someone else and that makes the quest worthwhile.