Friday, September 28, 2012

Blog Post #5

Travis Allen's iSchool Initiative
iSchool Initiative
Travis Allen started a project called The iSchool Initiative when he was just 17. It started with a simple YouTube video outlining how schools today could better utilize technology. He explained how tools made by Apple could revolutionize the way we learn and teach today. Students could do away with paper, pencils, and books. Allen even had a diagram showing the costs between the two strategies. He also had a follow up YouTube video, in which he discussed the progress his program has made over the last three years. It is great to see that what he designed is something that people are interested in!
Travis Allen
I think that Travis Allen's ideas are amazing! I definitely feel that technology should be more integrated into our schools today. We have SO much new technology being pumped out of companies daily, but unfortunately, it doesn't make it to all of our schools. I feel that Allen's iSchool Initiative idea would help tremendously in getting our schools up to date. As an aspiring educator, I would love to be able to teach my classroom with these ideas!

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir
Virtual Choir
This video can be summed up in one word: amazing! This composer, Eric Whitacre, was able to bring people together using the internet like I have never seen before. He created a choir that sang together in perfect unison without even being in the same country. It is unbelievable to see that this can happen! This shows how far technology has brought our country, and many others. Please take a moment and view this video!

Teaching in the 21st Century
In this presentation, Kevin Roberts expresses his ideas on how teaching has changed up until the 21st century. I believe that Roberts wants us to focus on one thing while we teach in this century: engaging our students. It is something he reiterates quite a few times. Though we have this great technology, it has become a distraction to students, and to them, it is merely a form of entertainment. Because of this, I feel that some teachers are intimidated by it. If I am correct, Roberts may think this as well; we have to use this technology to engage our students and get them excited about a subject.

I think this presentation was spot on. I agree with Roberts on all of his stand points and ideas. Students need to be able to grasp information, and to do that, they have to analyze and understand. Once they can do that, they have genuinely learned about that information. As an educator, I hope to be able to use the information provided by Roberts to better my students. I hope this can teach them a more efficient way to learn and REMEMBER what they have learned!

Flipping My Classroom
Flipping the Classroom
As I watched the multiple videos about flipping classrooms, I became very interested in the idea. It seems to be an effective way to get students more involved with their work. Having them better prepared for their next class makes for extra learning time. I also think that moving the classroom around so that the teacher is the center of attention is a brilliant idea. All too often, we have the teacher at the front and the students in front of him/her. I hate this way of organizing desks; I feel that having the teacher in the center would cultivate learning much better than the other situation. I could definitely see myself using the technique of the Flipped Classroom. I feel that it is yet another way to get students to become better prepared and engaged. I believe this would be a great technique for myself as I am a secondary education major. Sometimes, middle/high school students need a different approach to learning, and I think this could really help!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Project #5: Presentation

Comments For Teachers #1

Quantum Progress: A Blog by John Burke

I was assigned to a blog by John Burke called "Quantam Progress." He teaches math and physics at a boarding school in Delaware. The first post I read was about a different teaching method he is using to get his students to dive deeper into a subject. Too often students skim through things and slide through a course without ever really doing work. Mr. Burke's idea made it so that his students could only achieve a high "A" if they put in the extra work and complete what he called "capstones" for 3 points each added to their grade (if they had a 90 and completed one capstone, they received a 93 in the course). These capstones were problems that were a little harder and took a little more work than normal, but if the student wanted a higher grade, leading to a higher GPA, they were to complete them.

In my comment, I commended Mr. Burke for making his students actually work for a better grade, instead of handing it to them. I explained to him that I loved the idea of the capstones and hope that it worked well for him. Lastly, because it wasn't stated in his about me section, I asked him what grade it was he taught at the boarding school. I am hoping to hear back from him because I would love to know what age his students are!

The second blog post of Mr. Burke's that I read dealt with problem solving in Algebra. He essentially said that simple problems in algebra have students stumped because they think they can only be done one way. His example was solving a system of equations with substitution. He said that students got caught up in the "legal" algebraic moves, instead of thinking about what would be a "smart" algebraic move.

I commented on Mr. Burke's post and agreed with him. Because we are caught up in teaching students strictly test material (whether that be state tests, or standardized tests), I feel that we are losing some of the creativity teachers once had. It used to be that teachers had the time to teach you different ways of solving a problem and different ways of looking at problems. I told Mr. Burke that today, it seems that students are caught up in ritual problems. They have a mindset that problems in a unit are all done exactly the same way, when this isn't always true. This is where John Burke's "legal vs. smart moves" come into play. Even if something is legal in Algebra doesn't always mean it is the smart way to go about solving the problem!

If you are interested in the math/science field, I strongly recommend that you check out Mr. Burke's blog! Click here if you would like to read it.

Blog Post #4

The first podcast that I read about and listened to was one about children learning to speak in Hebrew and also learning how to write a script. I was fascinated to learn that you have to use a word more than 70 times in the correct context before it becomes a natural word in your vocabulary! These children worked hard to learn Hebrew so that they could retell the story of Purim, a Jewish festival. After recording lines from each child (out of order), they learned how to take each of their lines and put them in order using a tool called Garageband and their SMART Board. This helped the children learn about editing, putting a script together, and also about working together as a team. If you would like to view that podcast yourself, feel free to click here.

The next podcast I read and listened to was about a first grade class creating mock interviews between the characters of the book Vacation Under the Volcano. Each child took turns between being the interviewer, Jack, and Annie. Listening to them on the podcast was great! You can really tell that they loved being involved in such a cool activity! The teacher did a wonderful job including everyone and teaching them to take turns among themselves. Being able to record and playback right there for the children helped them decide if they liked what they were hearing. If not, they could record again, and this helped with their oral fluency. It is so great to see technology help children become better readers! Click here if you are interested in listening to these wonderful children!

Finally, I read/listened to the podcast about the book Flat Stanley. These six year old children decided after reading the book, that they too would like to do something similar to what happened to Stanley. They would be "mailed" to a location of their choosing and learn about that place. The children were instructed to check out a library book about their destination. After learning all of this, in the podcast, they talked about the different places they went as "flat" children. It was fun to listen to how enthusiastic these children were about this project! They were so creative and had created imaginative stories. I love that projects like this encourage children to use their imagination and make original stories for all of us to listen to! Please take a moment, and click here to listen to their stories!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blog Post #3

Peer Review

While watching the peer editing videos (which if you are interested can be seen here and here), I learned a couple of great pieces of advice! My favorite thing that was reiterated many times was don't forget to compliment! I think that we get caught up in trying to find small mistakes throughout a blog or a paper, that we forget to tell our peer what they did good! Peer editing is not always about finding mistakes. We need to encourage our peers to write and let them know when they have done a good job! Positive reinforcement is a great tool that we, as future educators, must learn to use, so why not begin using it now?

Another thing I loved about this assignment was that we were given the option of writing about someone's mistakes in a blog or just emailing them privately. Personally, I am hard on grammar. It is just a pet peeve of mine! I feel that nitpicking in a blog post is a little much, so if I find grammatical errors, I like to tell the person that if they would like I can email them and let them know what I found. I feel that this lets the person know that you want to help them privately so that they can fix the issues on their own. Making these kind of decisions (private/public) is something that I will have to do daily as a teacher so getting a jump start on it is always great!

Technology in Special Education

I watched the video of the Special Education class using technology, and I found it amazing! The video can be seen here, and I strongly recommend seeing this! When I was in high school and even middle school, I loved volunteering in the Special Education program. So of course, I would see firsthand the issues that these students have communicating. Some of them, like those in the video, have speech problems and cannot get their point across. This tends to lead to frustration, and the problem snowballs until someone understands them.

I love that this teacher is showing how much computers, Ipods, and other types of technology helped her class. It is evident that it is working well for her and her students. Some things we take for granted, like being able to hold a conversation easily, is now easy for these students. I feel like this lessens the stress in a Special Education classroom. Technology helps the teacher better help her students! Also, I feel that introducing the students to technology will help them outside of school. If they can use this technology at home, it could better those relationships; it becomes a great skill to use in the outside world as well. We should always work to better our students and prepare them for the real world! There isn't a better way to do so than by using what is popular: new technology!

Apple Apps in the Classroom

Apple Logo
For my app choice, I went straight to mathematics. I loved math throughout school, and I feel like it is obviously a critical subject for children of all ages. I know that sometimes for Special Education students, it can be very hard to understand math. By using technology, we can teach them in different ways that are captivating and fun!

I chose an app called "Sushi Monster." In this app, you can learn basic arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The app itself is VERY colorful, and I am sure that will get a child's attention and keep it. The "monsters" that are used throughout the app are also colorful and funny shaped. You have to "feed" the monsters sushi by correctly completing a simple math problem. What I like most about this app is that whenever you have finished a round, you receive instant gratification. You get a trophy and stars for your great performance. By teaching children about math in a fun, exciting way, I think they will learn to love it!

Digital Smarts

I strongly recommend the digital smarts video if you are interested in getting your STUDENTS interested in computers! It can be seen by clicking here. In this video, Vicki Davis, a teacher in Georgia, is teaching her students how to use new technology and connect with the world. They blog and use virtual games to teach each other new things. They were even able to take a trip to the Middle East to meet students there and talk about what they were learning!

It is amazing to me that technology can bring such a diverse group of people together. My favorite word Ms. Davis used was "empowering." She is empowering her students every day by teaching them and even learning with them. Technology in this day and age is such a powerful tool and is becoming more so as we speak. It is SO important that we keep children informed and teach them how to use technology and how it can make such an impact on our lives!

Project #2: Wordle!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blog Post #2

World Computer
Did You Know?

In the above video, Dr. Strange has gathered facts that show what a technologically advanced world we live in. Not only that, but said facts show that the technology is growing! People are learning more and more daily, which has to be happening to keep up with the new items, new jobs, and many other new things that come about! For example, in the video, you learn that jobs that will be in demand ten years from now do not even exist yet. That is amazing! In ten years (or less!) our society will change a great deal; this video, and the original (which can be seen here) prove that in mere minutes!

As future educators, we will be teaching children who will have jobs that aren't even around yet. We will be helping them learn how to solve problems that do not yet exist. We have to form that base education so that the child will be prepared to learn all about new technology! Things we have never seen or used before will be popular sooner than we know it, and the people we teach will be teaching us how they work! In order to be a good educator, you must know that learning is constant, especially in the world we live in today!

Mr. Winkle Wakes, by Matthew Needleman

In this video, Matthew Needleman shows Mr. Winkle waking up from a 100 year slumber. Of course, during those 100 years, the world around him has changed. So much technology has come about, and it makes Mr. Winkle miss the old days. Even the hospitals had changed, as Mr. Winkle visited there too. One place that he found the same was, unfortunately, a school. Even though there was a computer there, it was clearly unused and sat dusty in the back of the classroom while the teacher lectured in front.

Mr. Needleman makes an extremely valid point in his video. Even though we have tons and tons of great technology, it is going unused in classrooms! Children aren't being given the opportunity to learn with such great tools. Instead, they are missing out and have to (if they are able to) learn at home. We should be enriching their lives and minds with these great computers and other types of technology! Hopefully soon this can happen, and children can learn and experience so much more!

Sir Ken Robinson on the Importance of Creativity

Here, Sir Ken Robinson speaks on the education system and how it changes the creativity of our children for the worst. He essentially says that the institution of education is looking to make children ready for college, even if they aren't made for that. His example of Gillian Lynne, a famous choreography known for her work in the musical Cats, is amazing. Because she couldn't ever stop moving, Ms. Lynne's teachers thought she had a learning disability. They linked her creativity to a disability, and that is so unfortunate. Clearly, looking at where she is now, you can see that she definitely did not have a disability, she just learned differently than other children. Regrettably, situations like this happen daily.

In my opinion, schools today are teaching tests. Everything is based on standardized testing and good scores for the schools and/or the state. This leads to our children learning NOTHING. It is simply memorization for a test, then throwing the information out to put in new for the next test. We should, like Sir Robinson said, embrace a child's creativity, not waste it. We shouldn't teach a test... we should teach our children. Expanding their knowledge, and helping them learn whichever way they learn should be our main focus as educators. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk that Sir Robinson gave in the above video. It speaks volumes about how we should work with our children because after all, they are the future!

Glass, School, the Future, and Change!

In this last section, I watched two videos about future technology. One, which you can view here, was about using basically panes of glass as our computers. The creator of the video and idea(s), Corning, make walls of glass, dashboards of cars made of glass, and much more. It is so amazing to think that this could happen, and probably will happen sometime soon. In the video, you can also see children learning by using these glass components. The whole class can get involved and can visually learn! I love this idea because I myself am a visual learner. I have to SEE it to LEARN it, and many other children are this way. This future technology could change the world as we view it today. That would be amazing! No more boring lectures, or boring projects. We could make unbelievable things with this technology, and I can only hope that I see this happen in my lifetime.

The second video was created by Google, and it shows the awesome capabilities of the Google glasses (you can view that here). In the video, you can see the capabilities that these glasses have in and out of the elements. The speaker inside is wearing the glasses, and they work beautifully. What is even cooler is that skydivers and bike riders wore them as well. You can see how they hold up outside, and it is just like you are the one diving or riding. If these are the glasses of the future, they would be amazing! Imagine travel with these glasses! Learning about different places would be ever more exciting and right at your fingertips.

The possibilities that come from the different uses of glass are basically endless, as seen in these videos. They could change the workplace, schools, hospitals, everywhere! I would love to see this happen. To be able teach children with this type of technology would be great!