Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Final Project Progress Report

My partner and I are working on a video for USA's 50th Anniversary. We have been throwing around ideas and have thought about interviewing alumni; we plan on asking them how they feel the progress being made at South is making a positive effect on the students here and the community. I've contacted the Alumni Association and have been in contact with a few of them. We plan on taking pictures of the awesome new buildings and projects going on at South and use that in our video as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blog Post #12

As I am a secondary education major concentrating in History, I chose to talk about American government. Here are the instructions I would give my students: Think about our country's government. Read the article What is a Democracy? Do you feel that today's government and election process reflects the "one person, one vote" ideal of a democracy? Why, or why not?
We The People
My response is as follows: I think that today's government has strayed from the original thoughts of what a democracy is. In Greece, one person had one say so. Now, we have representatives that have the say so for us. I think that the Electoral College does not equally represent the people like it should. Today, if the majority of the votes swing Republican or Democrat, the winning party gets all of that state's electoral votes. In my opinion, it should be permitted in all states that electoral votes can be split, depending on how the vote goes in the state. I think that having "swing states" hurts the possibility of other states having much say at all. For example, this past election was already decided before Alaska's polls even closed. I think that the system we have today has definitely gone astray from democratic ideas, though I am not sure that we can do anything about that.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Blog Post #11

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Technology

In the video I watched entitled First Graders in Ms. Cassidy's Class, the first graders talked about the different types of technology Ms. Cassidy used with them. They keep up blogs, much like we do in EDM310, though theirs are a lot simpler of course. They also have a class webpage in which they can find links to games and other educational things. In their "center time," they can get on a computer and go to reading pages or listening pages and work on their comprehension skills. The students make videos and also have a Wiki. They Skype other classrooms and experts to learn new things. Something that struck me as interesting was that they use Nintendo DS gaming systems to learn as well.

I am a secondary education major, so I will be teaching anywhere from 6th to 12th grade. In my classroom, I would love to keep up a webpage like that of Ms. Cassidy's. I think it is a great idea to do this, not only to provide links to your students for further learning, but to let absent students know what they missed. Blogging was new to me whenever I started EDM310, but I have come to really enjoy it. I think that providing students with ideas to start up blogs is a great idea; it can help them learn a lot more and also help them to reach out to other learners.

With the age I will be teaching, I realize that it will be very hard to keep them on track. The internet is huge, and students between the ages that I will be teaching can almost always find their way to trouble while using it. I hope to teach them about what is acceptable and expected while they use the internet. I will explain to them that it is something they should not take for granted because not all students have this type of access to knowledge.

I anticipate many benefits by using technology in my classroom. I think it will help me keep on track with my class. I can do this by using a webpage, like I said above, to keep students up to date on what we are doing. On this webpage, I could place a calendar to let students know what we will be doing in the days to come. Hopefully, I can teach my students that being ahead is way better than falling behind. I think technology will keep students attention much better than simple lectures and pencil/pen and paper!

Comments for Teachers #3

Karl Fisch: The Fischbowl

The teacher I was assigned to for this Comments for Teachers was Karl Fisch. He has been teaching for twenty three years in Colorado. In this post, Fisch spoke about how he felt towards political debates and presidential candidates. He did so in an unbiased manner, without putting either candidate down. Fisch said that a debate wasn't a good way to pick a president because it doesn't have anything to do with how they make decisions. For example, the candidates cannot use notes; Karl Fisch said that we would never want our president to make a decision without consulting advisers or notes. According to Fisch, the candidates need to stop trying to win and start having a real discussion.

The comment I left for Mr. Fisch told him that I agreed with him 100%. I informed Fisch that I usually stay out of politics because it tends to all boil down to lies. I feel that the candidates should stop trying to one up each other; they need to focus on what they are going to do for our country and how they are going to do it. Also, I told Mr. Fisch that I felt the media was having a time focusing on who "won" each debate. In my opinion, no one cares who "won" or who lost; if they cannot tell us what they will do to benefit our country, winning will not matter.

The second post I read from Mr. Fisch was entitled "Backwards!" In this post, he linked many different resources, from articles to videos, and spoke a little about each of them. These resources were not based on education at all, but after reading/watching them, Fisch questioned them in accordance to education. For example, one article was from, and it was about how Tesla is trying to revolutionize cars and their dealerships. They want their stores to be different than other dealerships; they want them to function differently. Karl Fisch asks "Should our schools be intentionally different?" He also asks if we can even change our schools or if we are stuck with what we have.

In my comment to Fisch, I agreed with the questions he was asking regarding education. I informed him that I would soon be an educator and that I really hoped that our schools are capable of change. With that being said, I told Mr. Fisch that I knew change could not happen over night, but we are able to do it. It has to start with the individual teacher before it can progress any further. I expressed my concern that some teachers today keep us from moving forward because they refuse to learn about new technology, and they also refuse to vary their teaching strategies, regardless of whether or not the children are learning. I thanked Mr. Karl Fisch for posting this, and I let him know that the post was interestingly put together.

If you would like to check out Karl Fisch's blog, The Fisch Bowl, you can find the link here! I highly recommend it!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Comments for Kids: October Summary

I received a blog written by a 4th grader from New York. This student wrote about the similarities and differences in cats and dogs. They spoke about how dogs need a leash, but cats do not. Also, one of their similarities were that both animals need love! In my comment, I told them how much I loved reading their post and that they did a great job. It is awesome to see young children learning about blogs and how to create them!

My second C4K was from a blog written from a girl's school with grades between 10th and 12th. The author wrote about the pros and cons of outsourcing and insourcing when it comes to business. They spoke about how while outsourcing can save money, insourcing helps create jobs here in our country. I commented and agreed with them. I let them now that they did a great job being informative on both sides of the issue. I told them that I supported insourcing more because it helped our country while we are in such hard economic times. I asked them if they agreed that circulation of money through our government is more beneficial to us because that is how I feel. I hope to hear back from them soon!

Third, I received the blog of a little boy named Alex, who is in 5th grade. He wrote about a trip he took with his family to Scottsdale Resort in Texas. They stopped for food before going to the hotel; once they got there, they couldn't get into their room, so they had to get a locksmith. They had even more trouble inside because their shower didn't work! After the maintenance man came to check it out, they were moved to another room. I told Alex that he used great words to describe his trip, and I also told him that I hoped that was the last of their troubles! I asked Alex if Texas was the only place they visited before I let him know that he did a great job on his post.

Next, I was assigned to the blog of a second grader named John Robert; he is in Miss Mac's class in Birmingham, AL. His latest blog post was about sharks. In this post, he including a picture of a shark with the following question posted above: "Did you know that sharks can grow over 1900 teeth?" He also said that sharks had powerful jaws, and that he liked them. In my comment, I told John Robert that I couldn't imagine humans having so many teeth; we would all look silly! I told him that he did a great job on his post, and that is was really interesting!

The fifth blog I was assigned to was called Vitulli & Santoli: Eyes on Ireland. This blog is written by Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santolli while they are participating in the Ireland International Conference on Education. In the post I was given, they described the hotel in which they were staying. It was entitled "Home Away From Home." They spoke about the building being repurposed and how, upon inquiring, they learned that is used to be a school for female orphans. I commented and thanked them for sharing their journey with us; I also told them that I was happy to learn about the history of the building since I am a history major. I always find such things interesting!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Special Blog Assignment


In “A world where grades will be left behind,” Mary Beth Markelin talks about a type of education where “learning will be free and available to anyone who wants it.” In this world of schooling, failure is out of the question, and lesson plans would involve more game-like situations. She speaks with a man named Sebastian Thrun who said, “You want learning to be as much fun as it is to play a video game.”

Sebastian Thrun
Thrun founded an education company called Udacity after he taught a free online artificial intelligence course that had over 160,000 students enrolled. He loved this experience so much that he vowed to never teach in a classroom again. He compares his journey to two pills: one red, and one blue. The blue pill, if you take it, would lead you right back into a classroom where you can lecture your students. According to Thrun, the red pill, which he took, led him to “Wonderland.”

Through programs like Udacity, Thrun hopes to create online courses that are taught by great professors and would be offered (to anyone who would like to take them) for free. Today, technology allows teachers to personalize their way of educating. Not only is Thrun an example, but his friend Sal Kahn is as well. Kahn inspired the idea of “flipping classrooms,” which I blogged about earlier. There are northern charter schools that are advocating game playing lesson plans; in the west, some schools are hoping to make an online education “as affordable as a cellphone bill.”

Thrun calls grades “the failure of the education system;” he says they will not exist in his system. Instead of being graded on everything, a student will master a skill or a concept at their own pace. Exercises and quizzes will progressively get harder as the class goes along in order to help the student better grasp a concept. In a college classroom, you could be surrounded by hundreds of students; with Thrun’s system, you could be in the same class as hundreds of other students, but your education will only be catered to you.

Thrun compares his education ideas to movies and live theater. Movies did not completely replace live theater. Instead, movies were just another form of entertainment that would allow for more people to view them at a lesser price. Thrun's vision of the future: "a message of hope, of aspiration-- not of destruction."


No Grades
I love the idea of not using a grading system in the classroom. In my opinion, putting a grade on something can stress out the student to the point of just memorizing the material to get the grade, instead of actually comprehending anything. I want my students to be able to reiterate what they learned in my class years after leaving me! Understanding a concept or mastering a skill is much more important than graduating with "straight A's" in my opinion.

I also think that education being free, or close to it, opens up so many opportunities for everyone. Many people have to work to support themselves and/or a family, so they naturally do not have the time or money to put themselves through school. Creating a system with free education, or like stated above, education costing as much as a cellphone bill, would let more people get an education. More educated people would lead to a more educated country. You really cannot argue with that.

In my classroom, I plan to lecture as a last resort. I want to involve my students so that they make a memory while learning. If they can do that, they can better remember what they have learned. Because I will be teaching in a public school, grades will be required. Even with this being so, I do not want my students to hang on to just that. I want them to WANT to come to class everyday. If I can get students excited about learning, I believe the grades will improve themselves.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blog Post #10

Pencil Comparison

I feel that this cartoon is somewhat of a mockery of the PC/Mac comparison. "Hipsters" tend to follow the latest trends and fashions. Because Macs are the "in" thing now, they would naturally lean towards those. Even though Macs are expensive, because they are "cool," people want them. Of course, Macs are great computers, and Apple is a great company, but people don't always buy them for that reason!

Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?

In this blog post, John Spencer speaks about how he was reprimanded by his boss (the principle) for what seemed to be his children playing games in class. Spencer tries to explain to his boss that it was more than a game to the children, but he doesn't want to listen. Spencer even states that "...soldiers play games. Surgeons do simulations. It's part of their education." Even with this being said, the principle is avidly against games of any kind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post and Mr. Spencer's stance on game playing in classrooms. He just wants to teach his students in ways that keep them engaged. I cannot blame him for that; in today's society, it is hard to compete with other technology to keep student's attention. In my opinion, Mr. Spencer should not have been criticized for trying to do that.

No, I Won't Address Pencil Bullying

The second post I read from John Spencer was about "pencil bullying." In this post, he speaks about a conversation he had with a district office representative about bullying. A child had written something about another child and posted it on a wall. The representative wanted Spencer to talk to his class about it, and let them know that there was a zero tolerance policy for bullying of any type. Spencer thought about this and decided against it. He says that we don't think about why a child bullies another; we just put up a no tolerance policy and expect it to fix things when it doesn't.

I agree with Mr. Spencer. I think that bullying is obviously not ideal, but it happens. We all know that, but (especially in schools) we try to completely eliminate it. We know this won't happen, but we fight it anyway. Spencer says that a chat about pencil etiquette in a classroom is not the answer to bullying; the only answer he came up with is love. This is an obvious answer, but in all seriousness would be the only solution to the bullying problem.

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff, Please?

I loved this post by Scott McLeod! It speaks volumes in such a small amount of words. I feel that the media has put out so many negative things about the internet that McLeod points out: porn, predators, cheating, etc. My mother was EXTREMELY against me using the internet when I lived at home. Because of this, I missed out on many opportunities to really dive into a subject for a project in class. In my opinion, knowing how to use technology will get you further ahead in life, and I believe that is what Scott McLeod is saying here.

After reading a little bit about Dr. McLeod, I learned that he is a co-creator in the Did You Know? video series. I loved learning about and watching these videos earlier in the year. They have great concepts and are so informational. Now, Dr. McLeod is the Director of Innovation in Iowa for the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8.