Friday, December 6, 2013

Blog Assignment #16

Final Reflection

Teach me and I forget, involve me and I learn
For our final blog assignment, Dr. Strange asked us to look back on our very first blog assignment and discuss how we would now change that post. Dr. Strange asked us on the first day of EDM 310, "If you built a school, what would it be like?"

The majority of my response to that question revolved around a positive classroom atmosphere, emphasis on creativity, and freedom for students to express themselves and cultivate their passions. I still stand by that response, but now, just a few months later, I have a lot to add to it!

At the beginning of the semester I highly underestimated the importance and the power of technology. Technology was something that I just never gave much consideration. Now, after completing EDM 310 and learning about so many amazing technological tools and resources, I can't imagine not using technology in my classroom.

I am an artist, so creativity and the arts have always been something that I plan to heavily integrate into my classroom. What I did not realize, was that technology and creativity go hand and hand! There are so many ways to integrate technology into the classroom, while encouraging creativity at the same time.

colorful hand prints

A class blog is a perfect example. A blog gives students the opportunity to get creative with their work and present it to an audience. There are limitless learning possibilities when it comes to student blogging. They are able to customize the appearance and the content in any way they want, and because of that they tend to take more pride in their work.

There are so many more tools and resources that I will use in my future classroom that before EDM 310, I never would have considered. Prezi or iMovie for book reports and presentations, project based learning activities that incorporate technology and the SMARTboard, and iCurio are resources that I will use with my students.

Delicious, Twitter, Evernote, Symbaloo, C4T Blogs, and Google Drive are tools I will use to stay organized and cultivate my PLN.

Surprisingly, the most important thing I feel I am taking away from EDM 310 is not about technology. It's about asking questions, being curious, and being a life long learner. That is something I hope I can instill in my students the way Dr. Strange has instilled it in me!

Leadership Manifesto

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Assignment #15

The Brail Writer and Other Assistive Technologies

Assistive technologies are a lifeline for some students who have disabilities. Like any other technology, assistive technology is advancing every day. Assistive technology is revolutionizing students’ lives by allowing them to learn, play, communicate and interact in ways that otherwise would not be possible.

A brail writer is an assistive technological tool for blind students. The machine allows the student to brail, then receive instant feedback from the machine as it verbally announces what is being brailed. This tool is very advanced and can save, transfer and receive files. The brail writer can also teach students who are not blind to read brail; as the student brails, print will display on a screen to show them what they are brailing. The brail writer helps to bridge the gap between the blind student and his or her peers. This machine gives students with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully in class and peer groups.

Other assistive technologies include wheelchairs, laptops, onscreen keyboards, desks that raise and lower, voice activated software that allows student to complete school assignments on their computers, and cellphones to get help if needed. The Edutopia video below shows several students using different assistive technologies, from a wheel chair to a customized horn that allows a disabled boy to play in the marching band.

Ipad Use for the Blind

From videos such as Ipad Usage for the Blind and Teaching Mom What Her Deaf/Blind Child is Learning, we see the use of the Ipad and its voiceover capabilities as assistive technology. These sensory disabilities such as deafness or blindness could be present in our classroom, and we must know as educators what is available to us and our students. Having disabilities in a world without technology would leave this student in a very challenging learning environment. Education is for everyone, and assistive technologies make is possible for students with assistivetechnology disabilities to be able to enjoy all the benefits of education. As for the use of the voiceover capabilities of the Ipad, these videos focus on the disability of blindness. The voiceover for the ipad allows students to scroll their fingers over the screen and be able to hear what apps they are sliding over. If they want to click that app, they just double click anywhere, and the app will open. These instructions are the same when typing on the ipad. After going over each word as it is read aloud, the student can double tap to choose that letter. One important app used from the ipad for the blind is the ibook. The ibook is important for people with blindness, because no other kindle or nook are accessible for the blind right out of the box. Normally, a software of some sort has to be downloaded. With ibook, the student can flip two fingers up to start any story out loud, and some books even have the images described. Not all gone are the days when disabled students are isolated from others, but hopefully, by giving blind people this reading tool and use of the ipad is just one way out of many that we can assist in recreating a better world of education for all students.

Teaching Math To The Blind

Math is a difficult subject for anybody and especially for students that are blind. A professor at the University of San Francisco, Art Karshmer, made a computer based system to help teach math to the blind students. Art Karshmer discusses how difficult it is for blind students to learn math problems with being visually impaired. Karshmer created a 3 million touchpad. This device is designed to use braille and technology together to create a math learning experience. It uses a voice touchpad and a barcode scanner to recognize numbers being used. The touchpad is also labeled in braille so that students can still have the option of reading along with the voice. This is a wonderful technology to help students that are blind. We would love to use this technology in our classroom if we have a blind student. It is a great resource to help the students learn and to help the teachers teach the blind students.

We found a article News at Vanderbilt that explains this app that turns a device into a math aid to help students that are blind. Jenna Gorlewicz, a graduate from Vanderbilt University is who came up with this app. We think this app is wonderful idea especially since ipads are starting to be available in schools now. We would love to use this app as well to help teach math if we had a blind student in our classroom.

Assistive technology is progressing every day, but it is not implemented as much as it could be in schools. Unfortunately, not all teachers and parents are aware of these advancements, resulting in some students not receiving all of the opportunities available to them. This is yet another reason why it is so important for teachers to be technologically literate. Staying up to date on the assistive technologies available to students with disabilities is crucial. The sooner a disabled student is introduced to an assistive technology, the sooner they can master the tool, and focus on the regular curriculum. This will better prepare the student and increase their chances to move on to college, then a career.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blog Assignment #14

What Did Dr. Strange Leave Out?

Dr. Strange asked that we answer this question in a blog post, by creating an assignment of our own, then completing that assignment.

Promethean Planet is a free website that provides countless resources for teachers, including lesson plans, worksheets, games, assignments, projects and much more. A Promethean Board is very similar to a SMARTboard, just a different brand. Promethean Planet has been a great asset to my PLN, and it is a resource I use regularly.

Assignment: Use Promethean Planet to create a SMARTboard activity.

This lesson from Promethean Planet is an introduction to comma usage. It requires SMARTboard software. Students will learn the rules for using commas, and how the meaning of sentences are changed when commas are not used.
Comma cartoon

My Final PLN Report

In the beginning of October, I posted about the progress of my PLN, or personal learning network.

Since then, Twitter continues to be one of the most valuable assets to my PLN. Though I am still cultivating my Twitter skills, I continue to learn a lot from the people I follow on Twitter. One area that could use improvement is my activity on Twitter. I think as I continue to use Twitter and become more comfortable with it, my activity will increase and I will form even more connections that will benefit my PLN.

As part of my PLN I have also continued, and increased, the use of tools like Google, Google Drive, Delicious, Prezi, Edutopia, TED Talks and Pinterest. In addition, I now frequently refer to Evernote, Promethean Planet, YouTube, the Mobile Museum of Art and several C4T blogs, like Langwitches, that I now consider to be valuable resources.

I am still using Symbaloo as the main method of organization for my PLN. I am constantly expanding my Symbaloo page by adding tabs and resources.
I think the most important thing about a PLN is having the attitude of a life long learner, and the willingness to continuously form connections and reach out for help. My PLN is not limited to what I can store on Symbaloo; it includes teachers I have met, as well as resources and ideas from other classes like EDU 301. My personal learning network is always changing, always growing and will forever be a work in progress.

C4T #4

My final C4T assignment was Kelly Tenkely's blog, iLearn Technology.

The first post I commented on was Apprenticing Students in the Art of Learning. In this post, Tenkely discusses her belief that the best way to learn and teach is through a model of apprenticeship. Tenkely recounts stories of her childhood, in which her parents modeled this hands on learning attitude. I agree that the best way to teach students is by modeling the learning process, yourself. To be a good teacher, you have to be ready and willing to learn.

While reading this post, I couldn't help but think of EDM 310, a class in which I have learned A LOT-- but not by being lectured or taught in the traditional sense. The reason I have learned so much from this class is because in EDM 310 we learn hands on. We dive in and figure things out for ourselves, which is a skill and an attitude I will take with me far beyond the walls of the College of Education.

The second post I commented on was Our Little Earth: Global News for World Citizens. Our Little Earth is an international, online newspaper for kids. This is one of many great resources I have discovered through my C4T assignments. Our Little Earth is totally free and is delivered via e-mail every two weeks. This virtual magazine is a great way to keep kids informed, and even has a global map that highlights where news from each issue is coming from. Providing students with a news outlet that is on their intellectual level is a great way to spark their interest in politics, geography and current events.

SMARTboard Project: Part B

This is a video of Group O'Keeffe (Chelsea Hadley, Anna Kern and Kayla Christie) using a SMARTboard to deliver a lesson from our plan, Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover.

November's C4K Summary

My first C4K assignment in November was Flora, from Mr. Marks' class at Pt. England School in New Zealand. As usual, I was impressed by my C4K assignment! Flora's blog is interesting to read, and contains several photos. It never ceases to amaze me how elementary students are becoming so technologically literate at such a young age.

My next November C4K was Allie, from Mrs. Cassidy's first grade class in Canada. I wrote about Mrs. Cassidy in an earlier blog post, and Allie's blog is a perfect example of everything I learned from Cassidy's YouTube video, Little Kids Big Potential. Allie's blog has images of pictures she has drawn and she has even written a few sentences on her blog, even though she is only a first grader. There are also comments from her parents. Seeing these comments further inspired me to have a blog in my future classroom-- I think it's great for parents to be able to monitor their children's progress, and it's great for the child to be able to receive positive, written feed back from their parents.

My final C4K assignment was Beth from Ms. Metzler's fifth grade class in Guatmala City. I enjoyed looking through Beth's blog because it was so interesting to read! Beth shares some personal stories and thoughts on her blog, and reading them reinforced everything I have learned about blogging in the classroom, especially that it's a great platform for students to express their opinions and ideas.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog Assignment #13

After watching Shane Koyczan: To This Day ... for the bullied and beautiful , dreamerquotewe learned many things about bullying and different things we can do as educators to help our children grow, instead of putting them down. We all remember being little and wanting to do the things we thought would be fun such as being an artist or an astronaut.As Mr. Koyczan said, despite all we dreamed about or aspired to be, we were told to think about things more realistic. How can we ask our students what they want to be, and then, tell them it is not really possible and to think about something else? As educators, we learned we must always shape our students around their aspirations and dreams. That is what inspires creativity and promotes happiness. We learned the importance of continuing to follow our dreams. It is important to have a belief in something for yourself, no matter if you are five, twenty-five, or fifty-five. Dreaming is important.

We also learned much about bullying and depression from this video. We learned that it is important to stand up for yourself but do not resort to violent means. This is important for us, because we want our students to know the importance of bullying in and bullyingoutside the classroom. One thing that really stuck to us is how bullying sticks with you. Mr. Koyczan discusses a story of a woman who was bullied at a young age for a small birthmark, and even as an adult, she does not feel she is beautiful. Depression, as well, as bullying is something that also needs attention in schools. It is important as educators for us to know that we have to bring the light to these children. We must continue to help them see their dreams and differences from other people as a strength and not a weakness. As Mr. Koyczan said, “there is a reason why you keep trying, despite when everyone has told you to quit.” We have to guide our students in to seeing what each and every one them tries for.


Mae Jemison: Teach Arts and Sciences Together

As an astronaut, doctor, and someone who has had a lifelong passion for art and dance, Mae Jemison knows better than anyone that art and science go hand in hand. In a TED Talk, Jemison discusses how important it is that educators understand the link between art and science. According to Jemison, teaching these subjects together will create the bold thinkers of tomorrow.

kid's drawing of bugs and flowers in a jar
Jemison's mission is to inspire educators to reintegrate arts and sciences. It is important to understand that the idea that art and science are unrelated subjects is an outdated opinion that limits students. The fact is, art and science are intertwined to the core. It takes creativity for a scientist to think outside of the box and make a discovery, and an artist is analytical when he or she creates a sculpture or decides what to paint. The stereotype that people are either artists or scientists is very limiting to students because it tells them that they can only be one or the other. Why can't we be creative, intuitive and logical at the same time? We can. That's why keeping arts and sciences separate in schools is such an outdated method.
We agree with Jemison that it is crucial educators see the links between art and science and begin to reintegrate these subjects, as one, into the classroom.

In this video,A girl who demanded school, Kakenya talks about her life. She is a member of the Maasai Tribe in Africa. Her mother stayed at home and took care of the animals and children. She also grew the crops to feed her family. Kakenya’s father was a police officer and he only came home once a year. Kakenya went to school until 8th grade. After 8th grade she had to go through a ceremony where she was to become a woman and after that she was to get married to who she was engaged to. She had been engaged since the age of 5. This did not work for Kakenya because she had a dream to become a teacher and if you were married that couldn’t happen. Her mother did not get the opportunity to chase her dreams and get an education so she always pushed Kakenya to get an education. So Kakenya went to her father and told him she would not attend the ceremony if she couldn’t go back to school. Her father agreed to let her return to school because all children were supposed to attend the ceremony. Kakenya attended the ceremony and her father made her get a female circumcision. She healed for about three weeks and then returned to school. While in school she met a guy that was from Oregon. Kakenya then got accepted into Randolph Women’s College in Virginia. She needed help though with the travel expenses so her community came together and helped her. She came to the U.S. and learned while in school that the ceremony she went through was illegal. Kekenya then went back to her community in Africa and started a girls home. She helped 125 girls achieve their dreams and finish school. This video taught us to never give up on your dreams. Kekenya was determined to chase her dreams and to make a change and she did just that! This was a wonderful video, and we hope to show our students this video to show them how important it is to never give up and to always chase your dreams.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blog Assignment #12

Learning From Sir Ken Robinson

Changing Education Paradigms

In the video, Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson discusses reforming the education system. According to Robinson, the current system is outdated and no longer working. The culture of schools and institutions needs to shift. Robinson compares schools to factories; there is a production line mentality. Students are grouped by age with no consideration taken for their personal learning styles or levels. This is the old way of thinking. The new way is to focus on the individuality of students and encourage them to be creative, engaged and present in the current moment. What schools once labeled 'cheating' is now collaboration, and should be encouraged. Some of the best learning happens in groups, so schools should support collaboration and recognize the value it has in the classroom.

The ADHD Epidemic

We found Robinson's views on ADHD very interesting. He theorizes that ADHD is not an epidemic, but the result of children living in the most stimulating period in history. Every day students are bombarded with information overload. Computers, phones, advertisements and televisions are just some of the technologies that students are constantly immersed in. Robinson says it is no wonder that kids can't focus in the classroom-- compared to these technologies, school seems boring! This is one reason why it is so important for schools and teachers to implement technology in the classroom. Technology is relevant and engaging to students, which leads to better learning.

Girl Playing Horn

The Importance of Creativity

In this video, Sir Ken Robinson discusses the significance of creativity. He said many things that we agree with as a group and think are quite interesting. One of the first things he said that struck our thinking was when he said, “creativity is as important as literacy.” This, we believe, is completely true. We learned from this video, that in today’s education systems, the arts, keys of creativity, are pushed to the bottom of importance. The basis of education is not to teach exploration, creativity, outside of the box thinking. Education is based on our academic ability, and what will get students the most successful and likely job in their future. From watching this video, we had thoughts about many different things. What if a child is a born-to-be dancer or artist? What if that child is constantly being pushed into math and science, when the child can not stay still and has to move to think? Sir Ken Robinson explains a story just like this. A girl who was brought to a doctor, because her mother thought she had adhd, because she could never stay still or concentrate. The doctor watched the girl and turned the radio on. The girl was instantly dancing. The doctor told the mother nothing was wrong with her, but that the girl was meant to be a dancer. We learned from Sir Ken Robinson and this story that every person has different strengths, and our education system should be based on that and not just academics.


Another thing we learned from Ken Robinson is how children take chances at their age versus when they grow up. By this, I mean that when we were little, we might say something that we did not know the meaning of but wanted to say it anyway. This could have been a bad thing or a good thing depending on the word. As adults, we are afraid to make mistakes or say something wrong. In education, students are taught that mistakes are wrong. The students are based on a system that the more mistakes you make, the lower your grade will be. One thing we, as a group, agree on, is that mistakes are how we learn! If mistakes are pushed as wrong, then how will students be creative? They will not want to think outside the box, because of their inner fear that the thought might be wrong. Our education system is pushing our students out of creativity, and we have to change the fundamentals of our education system in order for students to take full advantage of their greatest strengths and creativity.

How to Escape Education's Death Valley

We really enjoyed watching Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk,How To Escape Education’s Death Valley.

In his speech he talks about one major crisis in the education system which is the dropout rate. In American society there is a 60% rate and in the Native American society, an 80% dropout rate. The drop out rate does not include the students still in school that are disengaged in learning or that don't enjoy it. It isn't about not spending enough money or making initiatives to improve education because we spend more money on education than any other country but the problem is that were not teaching the most successful way for our students to learn. Sir Ken Robinson also talks about ADHD and we couldn't agree with him more on what he says about it. He says just because a child is hyperactive doesn't mean the child should be put on medicine to be calmed down. Any child that sits in a classroom for hours when they are young are going to get bored and start acting up. That is why we need to make learning exciting and keep the children engaged and eager to learn. Mr. Ken Robinson then describes what he means by "death valley" in his title. Death valley is a desert by his house that nothing grows on. He describes how death valley and our students are similar. Death valley doesn't have anything because it doesn't rain there so it doesn't have grass, flowers, trees, or anything like that. When it did rain, though, flowers and grass grew. The same with students, If teachers don't teach them anything then they wont learn anything. If we do teach them then they will learn. This is a great video by Mr. Robinson and we cant wait to apply all the knowledge we have learned to our future classrooms and students.

Project #15

Create A Country

A geography lesson plan developed for fourth grade. Through this project, students will answer the question: "What can we learn from the makeup of a country?"

Map created by a student

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Project #10

I met with Nancy Klooz, a teacher at Spanish Fort Elementary School, to discuss technology in the classroom.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Blog Assignment #11

What Can We Learn About Technology From Kathy Cassidy?

This video is a compilation of a year of technology in Kathy Cassidy's first grade class.

All teachers should strive to be technologically literate. One thing I know for sure about technology is that it is not going away. The world has changed and we have to change with it.

Benefits of Blogging and Technology in the Classroom

  • Parents enjoy being able to see students' work anytime they want
  • Blogs serve as a portfolio of students work and good way to gage progress
  • Students' quality of work improves because they understand anyone in the world can see it
  • Students are engaged and excited
  • Children love not having to 'power down' when they get to school
  • Opportunities for collaboration with students from all over the world

  • colored dots divider

    Using the Internet Safely

    How does Cassidy keep her students safe on the internet?

    At the beginning of each school year, Cassidy sends students home with a form for parents to sign, acknowledging that they are aware their children will be using the internet.

    Cassidy teaches students not to use their last names, and to never post a picture of themselves alongside their name. She teaches students about digital citizenship and the importance of leaving a positive digital footprint. When a student missteps and leaves a rude or hurtful comment, it is a valuable teaching moment. Helping students understand proper internet etiquette and how to safely and responsibly navigate the web is an important 21st century skill students will use throughout their lives.

    It is also important to protect students from being exposed to inappropriate content on the web. Cassidy explains to her students which links she wants them to click on, and which links they should avoid. Students learn that avoiding advertisements and flashy links keeps them safe. These are great opportunities to teach students how to handle the internet and what to do if they accidentally find themselves on a site where they should not be.

    C4T #3

    Silvia Tolisano's Langwitches Blog

    Circle of children

    Literature Circles

    Tolisano's post, Literature Circle Discussions Part II discusses the value of using Literature Circles in the classroom. As defined by Tolisano, "a Literature Circle is a way to support students in becoming critical readers." This method is an effective way to help students become more aware of the way they are reading. Students break into small groups and record their Literature Circle discussions, which include thoughts, reactions and observations about the text. They edit their videos together, then analyze it to gage the quality of their discussion. Students' final products are reflected in individual blog posts. This method is superior to pen and paper discussions because it allows students to easily collaborate, whether it be with a member of their Literature Circle or a student from across the world. This idea is definitely something I would use in my future classroom because of how seamlessly it integrates technology into literature.

    Official Classroom Scribe

    This is another great strategy from Langwitches. The 'Official Classroom Scribe' is a student who is in charge of digital note taking in the classroom. This is an important role because it keeps absent students up to date, while relieving the pressure off of the other students to meticulously take notes throughout the class period. This idea could be adapted for one class scribe, or several, but the concept remains the same. The notes are posted on the class blog for different students to share, add their ideas and collaborate. This method is great because it allows students to use their creativity and insert additional resources into their notes to give the lesson's topics more depth. Tolisano even shares an Official Scribe Rubric to guide students in their note taking.

    This blog is a great resource I plan to use over and over again.

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    October's C4K Summary

    Kids playing on monkey bars

    My fourth C4K assignment was Alex, from Mrs. Ripp's Class. Alex's post was about a 'No Talking Challenge' his class participated in to help the students understand what it would be like to have a disability. The students were asked to complete brain teasers in teams, without speaking. Through this activity, Alex seemed to have gained more respect and a better understanding of disabled people. I think this is a great activity to use in the classroom because it teaches tolerance by engaging students through a game.

    C4K five was a student named Cameron from Ms. Eppele's, 4th and 5th grade class from British Columbia, Canada. Ms. Eppele's class has been reading the book, Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper, and they use the class blog to discuss the book. This is definitely something I will implement in my future classroom. A blog is a great forum for students to freely exchange ideas and express their opinions about what they re learning in class.

    My sixth C4K assignment was Regie from Mrs. Mclean's class in Alberta, Canada. Regie's post discussed and defined different types of moss and fungus found near where he lives.

    The seventh student I was assigned for C4K was a student named Lucca, from Mr. Warren Grieve's 5th grade class at Medbury School for Boys in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was impressed by Lucca's creativity! Lucca wrote a very interesting poem about being a mummy. This post is a great example of using a class blog as a means for students to express themselves and share their work.

    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    Project #14

    I chose to do a project-based lesson plan for a unit that surrounds chicks and the egg-hatching process. By the end of the two week period, students will understand the importance of observation in the scientific process while learning how to care for eggs and chicks in the classroom. Students will recognize how much they can learn about animals through simple observation and exploration.

    This lesson can stand on it's own or be used as an introduction to an actual egg-hatching in the classroom.

    Project 14: Introduction to Hatching Eggs

    Blog Assignment #10

    The Last Lecture

    Randy Pausch, a computer science professor, achieved world-wide fame when a video of one of his lectures, entitled The Last Lecture, went viral.

    As educators, what can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?

  • Criticism is Key
  • When someone gives you feedback or criticism, listen. Use it. Instead of automatically defending yourself, accept what they have to say. When someone criticizes you it shows that, at the least, they care. It's time to worry when you are making mistakes and no one is around to call you on it. So appreciate your critics! This is especially relevant in the field of education. As teachers, and as students, we are constantly giving and receiving feedback from one another. It's important to keep perspective and remember that in a learning community or a classroom, constructive criticism is always welcome and necessary-- never personal.

  • Expectations
  • Having expectations about what a student can achieve is very limiting. Never give students a bar to raise because you have no idea where it should be! A student's potential is unlimited, so allowing them to have the freedom to explore and set their own standards is essential.

  • Self Reflection
  • Pausch says that the best gift an educator can give is to get someone to become self reflective. It is so important to be able to look at your own work with an editing eye and evaluate it honestly. Self reflection is a skill that students will use far beyond the classroom walls.

    Colored dots divider

    And, most importantly, have fun!

    Sunday, October 20, 2013

    Blog Assignment #9

    Learning From Other Teachers
    Group O'Keeffe

     Back To The Future

    After watching Back To The Future, we were really impressed with Brian Crosby, and all the wonderful ways he enhanced his classroom. Mr. Brian Crosby is a Fourth Grade Elementary teacher at Agnes Risley Elementary School in Sparks, Nevada. In Mr. Crosby's classroom, there is tons of participation going on. Instead of sitting around listening to Mr. Crosby lecture, his class is up doing activities and projects. We learned from this video that participation plays a big role in students’ learning. The video shows that allowing students to participate in activities and projects keeps them more interested in learning versus sitting and listening to a lecture. We also learned a lot about different key elements to a more technology-based, productive classroom that would help with the student’s learning process. Every student in Mr. Crosby’s classroom has access to a computer at their desk. Also, instead of using a quiz or test to check understanding, Mr. Crosby has each student create a blog and post everything they have learned. Their blogs also contain pictures and videos that the students took themselves. We learned that his process is a excellent way to help students connect with others, improve their writing and reading skills, and improve their overall learning process.

    The way Mr. Crosby teaches his class is completely outstanding. We learned from this video that it is better for the class to be actively learning, because this shows them that learning doesn't have to be boring. Having students get excited about learning is what we believe all teachers would want. Mr. Crosby’s students learn how to maintain blogs, put videos and pictures on their blogs, video chat with other students from around the world, and much more. All the projects that Mr. Crosby does in his classroom help connect, collaborate, and motivate his students. It is wonderful that his class is ready and eager to learn, and we hope that we can become teachers like Mr. Crosby.

     Blended Learning Cycle

    We learned many things about teaching and learning from this video. One of the main things we learned is that it is important to try new things. In this video, Paul Anderson, who is a high school AP Biology teacher in Bozeman, Montana discusses blended learning and how he uses it in his classroom. Blended learning is almost a mixture of instructional based learning with project based learning. For example, one thing we learned about and we really liked was that instead of lecturing to introduce a topic, Mr. Anderson gives his students a video to watch of him discussing the topic. This way he can spend more class time doing other things such as projects. We found this really useful for teaching.

    Blended Learning 101

    As for learning, we saw many different useful points from Mr. Anderson. One thing he discusses is how students have to be hooked into learning, so our driving question as the teacher must be something they want to respond to- something to spark their interest. Also, he discusses how he used shared spreadsheets so his students could enter in their own data and see the results. This helps the students see their responses and how their engagement creates results. This makes it much easier for the student, because instead of looking at a chart, they are a part of the chart. We would love to use this in our classroom, even to see percentages of how much students like a project or assignment or not. Mr. Anderson uses a quiz just for students to assess themselves, and they get multiple tries to take the quiz. We do like the idea of a quiz just for their self assessment, but we would rather use Mr. Crosby’s ideas of blogging to check understanding.

     Making Thinking Visible

    Mark Church is a sixth grade teacher at the International School of Amsterdam. In the video, he shows the class a video, then divides students into small groups to discuss their ideas and opinions. Each group is then given a big sheet of paper and instructed to come up with a headline that encompasses what they are learning about.

    Making Thinking Visible Book Cover

    This is a great example of project based learning in action. We really liked the way Church showed the students a video, then let them discuss their ideas in small groups. The students are so much more engaged and involved than they would be if they were sitting through a lecture. Having them come up with a headline encourages both creativity and critical thinking, which are staples of the project based learning method.

    We were impressed by the ideas these students were coming up with! Church displays the headlines on bulletin boards, then at the end of the unit the class revisits the assignment to see whether or not their thinking about the topic has changed. This is a great way to show students that thoughts, perspectives and ideas are always changing and evolving. To us, that’s what the learning process is all about.

    Sunday, October 13, 2013

    C4T #2

    This month, my C4T (Comments 4 Teachers) assignment is to post about Jeff Delp's blog, 'molehills out of mountains'. Jeff Delp is a junior high principal in Arizona.

    Postach.io site logo

    Delp's most recent post is about a technological tool called Postach.io. Postach.io makes blogging easier by allowing the user to publish posts directly from Evernote. This is a quick and simple way to post to a blog and can also be used from any tablet or smartphone.

    Delp's post, '3 Things I've Realized', talks about three important things he has learned or rediscovered so far this school year.

    1. There will never be enough time
    There will never be enough time. So relax! Don't let yourself become so overwhelmed that you lose sight of what really matters.

    2. The power of gratitude Delp shared this uplifting video about gratitude from a site called SoulPancake.

    3. Don't sweat the small stuff
    When you are struggling or stressed, keep the problem in perspective. It is important to recognize that there are many people who are facing difficult circumstances and situations that are much more severe.

    Delp shares a quote by David Truss that sums up his post. “When life gets really busy, it is important to be sure that what falls off the back of our truck are things, and not people.”

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Blog Assignment #8

    21st Century Learning and Communicating Tools
    Group O'Keeffe

    Kids and Technology

    Voki - Anna Kern

    Voki is a fun and interactive way to use technology in the classroom. Students create customizable avatars(or 'Vokis'), then share by e-mail or post them to any blog or website. Vokis are engaging and completely customizable. Students personalize their avatars in multiple ways: Select a character, change the style or clothing of the Voki, personalize it's background, and finally, students add their own voice or use text-to-speech. Using Voki in the classroom is a great way to encourage creativity through technology.

    There are numerous lesson plans and resources for teachers to browse on the Voki website. Several revolve around the students writing reports then using text-to-speech with their Vokis, so the Voki reads the report or paper out loud. Another idea I found on Voki is for teachers to instruct students to create 'Voki Ambassadors' to present information they have learned about topics like Earth Day or health and nutrition. The possibilities are limitless.

    This is my EDM 310 Voki!

    MeeGenius! is a site dedicated to children's books that are digital and narrated. Some books are free, most cost about three dollars. I love this site because it is user-friendly and allows teachers and students to read books anytime, anywhere. As the book is narrated, each word is highlighted so the students can see and hear the words being read. This is great to engage students and help struggling readers.

    Using MeeGenius! and Voki together, students can read a book as a class on the Smartboard, then use Vokis to reflect on the characters or present information they have learned. These are great resources for elementary school students, because they allow students to use their imaginations and express themselves.

    Studyladder - Kayla Christie


    Why I chose StudyLadder:

    1.Made for teachers by teachers!
    It is much easier to look through a website if the person who made the website complete understands what you are looking for as an educator. Studyladder was made by teachers not only to help other teachers, but to help students, parents, and homeschoolers with teaching and learning resources. As a teacher, you just add your students and can assign certain activities for them to do.

    2. Common Core State Standards
    There will be no more searching! With Studyladder, you do not have to try to figure out what activity would go with what standard. As a teacher, you can search the activities by the standards, thus making our search process for activities so much simpler.

    3. Subject Content and Resources
    Some tools may not have all the subjects you might need, but Studyladder has over ten subjects including math, literacy, safety, language, and health, just to name a few. In Studyladder, the students and you receive access to THOUSANDS of teaching resources. These activities include whiteboard activities, interactive activities, video tutorials, printable sheets and booklets, auto marked assessments with reporting, and printable certificates.

    4. Made for Student’s Interest
    Other sites may have some boring worksheets you can print or a boring thirty minute quiz you can take, but Studyladder goes completely against this. Each activity is made to hold the student’s interest. They are all short, usually ten question activities that are bursting with color and interaction. Also, most students would not just want to go on some website to do any sort of assignment, so Studyladder has a virtual rewards system that include the students being able to create their own avatar, pet, and room. Keeping the website engaging and something the students want to come back to, makes this site perfect for students.

    Oh, and did I mention it is FREE to schools!

    How would I use Studyladder? How does it benefit me?

    Since I am becoming a secondary math teacher, and this site is mainly used for kindergarten through sixth grade, I would probably only be able to use this site for introducing basic concepts for each chapter. I would use Studyladder to help refresh the students’ minds by using some activities from the site. I would divide the students into groups of 5 or 6, and let each group write down the problem, the process to answer the problem, and the answer. Together, they would decide how to correctly work the problem, and I would tell them I am going to pick one person from one group at random to explain the answer. From using Studyladder I expect great benefits, because to me, it is much harder to get student’s engaged in math. Many students shy away from math, because they think it is too hard. With this site, I get the benefit of having my students actively engage in math activities. In addition, I get the benefit of my students understanding more, because I am not standing in front of the board showing them how to do math. They are the active participants of the learning process I have facilitated.

    If you would like to learn more about Studyladder, please check out the Studyladder Website or the Studyladder Twitter Page for additional links and resources to use in your teaching.

    Animoto - Chelsea Hadley

    I decided to choose a tool named Animoto. Animoto is a site where you can upload pictures or videos and create your own video slideshow. You can pick your own music, style, and text. There are about 50 different styles and you can also share the video and create the videos from a phone. This tool is really cool to me because it will allow students to express their own personality and creativity. To start making a video slideshow the first thing you do is decide which pictures or videos you would like to have in your video slideshow. When deciding which pictures you would like you can choose from your computer library, upload pictures, and even use pictures from other sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and many more. I think it is really neat that Animoto has this feature because these days everybody loads their pictures to Facebook and all the other sites. After deciding your pictures you will next create your style. While creating your style there is many background and themes to choose from. You also can choose your own music and add text to your video slideshow.After finishing your text, It is time to share your video. You also have many sites you can share your video with like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, and many more. I think it is very important that students express their hobbies and interests so that we know who they are and this site does just that. I think this would be a great project at the beginning of the year for students to introduce themselves to their classmates and teacher.

    Project #9 Podcast

    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Project 13: Project Based Learning Lesson Plan

    Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover!

    cat reading a book

    In this lesson plan, third grade students evaluate book covers. It covers five days, each consisting of a forty-minute class session. As students look at different book covers, they are asked to analyze what should be included on the cover, what should be left out, and decide why. Students demonstrate in this project that they can comprehend and understand a book.

    After studying and discussing several book covers, students recreate a cover from a book they have already read.

    We have decided to let students use the book cover creator tool to fill in the title and other print for the book covers, then print them out and let students draw the images with crayons and markers.

    When the covers are complete, Students will share them with the class and explain the changes they made and why.

    A checklist is used to help students analyze their own work as they complete the project, and there is a rubric included for the teacher to use while the student is presenting.

    Project Overview

    Project Calendar

    Project Essentials Checklist

    Blog Assignment #7


    #1 Project Based Learning Part 1: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher
    Group O’Keeffe

    What we found that helped us learn the true concept of project-based learning was one of Anthony Capp’s first opening statements. In this statement, he said that projects are something we normally think of being at the end of the lesson as a way to show that the children learned what we taught. In project-based learning, projects are the direct method of teaching. In one example by Anthony Capps, students sent letters to congressman about women in combat and used iCurio, a filtered, educational search engine, to show past historic figures who were minorities and were allowed to serve in combat. The students all made opinions on why or why not they agreed and were able to apply their content found from iCurio in a letter. The students picked 8 out of 28 letters from the class to send to the congressman. From this example, we learned about two of the most crucial things in project-based learning, which are students having an authentic audience and the project being in the student’s interest, such as the community. In addition, the project must be based on the state standards, which tell us what the children are supposed to learn. One of the greatest things that we learned about project-based learning is that it is crucial for students to be able to critique each other’s work as well as reflect on their own work. In non-project-based learning classes, students are graded on mistakes. If you make ten errors, you make a 90. From this type of learning, students are continuously taught that mistakes are bad! In project-based learning, the student is allowed to make mistakes, in order to reflect from them, correct their work, and use that knowledge in the future.

    #2 Project Based Learning Part 2: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher
    Group O’Keeffe

    One main thing we learned from this video of Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange discussing project-based learning is that not everything will go well. We make mistakes, and nothing will always go as planned. We also learned that project based learning promotes student choice. For example, Anthony Capp’s students are asked to explain child life as an Afghanistan child. Some student’s talk about poverty, some talk about food, and others may discuss other subjects. The students are creating an opportunity to go beyond what we want them to do. We learned that project-based learning takes a lot of planning and work as a teacher for it to be successful. The project may not be successful for our end result, but is successful for the students as for their learning. We are always learning about how we can improve and can receive meaningful feedback as educators. We also learned that the students, parents, and administrators are supportive of project based learning, because as Anthony Capps says, “they know when students are engaged, they are learning”. BurpBackEducationThe students are more prideful for their work, because they are very engaged into it. The parents/administrators get to see these students retain all of this knowledge and apply it to real life situations. Overall, we learned that project-based learning is a great and more effective method of teaching compared to other “burp-back” ways of teaching.

    #3 iCurio
    Group O’Keeffe

    From this video, we learned that there are many different uses for iCurio and ways we can use it effectively in our future classrooms. One way we can use it is for a filtered search engine. Icurio’s information has been pulled and collected along state standards. Also, iCurio can be used as storage capacity for students. This storage capacity is used much like the bookmark tool on our computers. Students no longer have to worry about forgetting their flash drives at home. They are able to log into iCurio and save any information found. As educators, we can use this for projects and class use. If we have a resource we share in class, we can save it to iCurio for our students to look back at just in case they are absent or want to check it out further. For projects, the students can use the educational information provided and use it during and after school. There are no more cancelled assignments because of fire drills! We can save our assignments online for our students to access at home. Icurio gives both the student and us, educators, practice to get organized online. We can save all the information we use in class and continue projects to extend past the classroom while knowing that our students are web searching safely. The most important thing we learned about iCurio is that it is useful for any grade and any subject.

    For additional information on iCurio, please check out Kayla Christie’s Blog Post Five.

    #4 Discovery Education
    Group O’Keeffe

    What we learned from this video is that Discovery Ed is more than just text from a website. It gives the students illustrations and video to go along with the text. Discovery Ed enriches the student’s research experience as well as gives them a way to make what they are learning stick. We all know it is much harder to learn about something if you are just reading about it or if you just see one picture of it in your textbook. This allows children to go past that and truly understand what they are learning in class. We learned of one example that we could use. This is example is that we could be learning about plants in science and so we could assign student’s different plants. Discovery Ed would make ways for these students to extensively learn about each of these plants through videos and pictures. In addition, Discovery Ed is a great way to allow the students to be effective users of technology. We say this, because now, in this generation, we are not relying on our textbook for information. By using this online tool, we are assisting our student’s in progressive 21st century technology and allowing them to effectively broaden their online educational resources.

    #5 The Anthony-The Strange List of Tips for Teachers Part 1
    Kayla Christie

    Through the Skype video between Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange, future educators such as myself get to learn many different useful tips for our future classrooms. The first thing I learned by watching the video is that as an educator, we are constantly learning. Our whole life revolves around school, and we end up modeling this behavior for our students. Some people may think that revolving your life around work is a bad thing, but it is just the opposite. For example, I have not even started to teach yet, and I pin future projects that I could use in the classroom off of Pinterest. It is just something we love. As an educator, we are constantly on our toes, and by that, I mean that we have to prepared for anything. You never know what is going to happen that could cause your plans to go completely haywire. Also, reflection is the key to teaching! We are constantly trying to improve all parts of our teaching including our lesson plans and the end product we hope to see from our students. In education, we are consistently thinking ahead, and this changes the way we see our work. It is no longer a job; it is a lifestyle.


    #6 Use Technology Don't Teach It!
    Anna Kern

    This video is a discussion about technology in the classroom between Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps, a former EDM 310 student and a 3rd grade teacher in Baldwin County.

    Anthony talks about effectively teaching technology in the classroom. Which means to not teach it at all! Instead, Capps suggests teachers use technology. Technology is not something that should be on a teacher's to do list; it should be smartly introduced to students by using it. For example, have students create a book report using iMovie or research using iCurio. Introducing one technological tool at a time is key. This ensures students have the time to ask questions as they become familiar with and eventually master the tools. Time at the end of the week or lesson for students to reflect and ask questions is also important. As students become comfortable with the skills they've learned, new technological tools can be introduced.

    Using technology gets kids excited and allows them to share their work. These are real tools, and learning how to use them effectively is a skill that students will use throughout their lives.

    #7 Additional Thought about Lessons
    Chelsea Hadley

    In this video, Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps have a Skype session and talk about how a teacher should plan their year with the standards and other things that need to be done through the year. This video gave me a really good understanding how to do lesson plans. Anthony says that there are 4 layers to a lesson plan. The first layer is the year. Anthony says that you should have a lesson plan and make sure that it covers all of the yearly standards and content that needs to be taught. The second layer is the Unit. Unit means the unit of teaching, and the length and time chosen. Units are usually 6-8 weeks long but within that will be a daily and weekly plan. The third layer is the Week. The weekly plan is about setting a goal and completing it by the end of the week. The last layer is the Daily lesson. Daily plan is what you want to have accomplished that day. These four components make up one well written and successful lesson plan.

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    My PLN Progress Report

    What is a PLN?
    A personal learning network (PLN) is the informal system of people and tools that a learner uses to seek help, interact and collaborate. Part of EDM310 is to develop and cultivate a PLN that can be used throughout our careers as educators.

    chalk board

  • Cultivating My PLN
  • So far, Twitter has been one of the most valuable assets to my PLN. I have used Twitter to seek out educators and professionals, as well as to keep track of the teachers and principals I have discovered through my C4K and C4T assignments. Twitter is a great learning resource because by following a substantial amount of professionals, there are constantly new ideas and comments to read. Carefully selecting who I 'follow' ensures the discussions and comments will be high quality. In fact, while writing this post I just checked Twitter and happened to find a great link to a Pinterest Board about PLNs!

    I also consider several sites to be important components of my personal learning network. Google and Google Drive, Delicious, Prezi, Edutopia, TED Talks and Pinterest are some of the tools and sites that I now frequently refer to.

  • Organizing My PLN
  • I chose Symbaloo as the method I use to organize my PLN. Symbaloo has become one of my favorite pages! I am a very visual person, so I like that Symbaloo uses a neat and orderly grid of tiles to display all my favorite sites and PLN tools. Using the tabs, you can create several different Symbaloo pages to suite individual tastes and needs. This is great for keeping personal and professional separate, and keeping everything compact and organized.

    Types of Personal Learning Networks

    Developing a solid PLN requires a willingness to reach out and form connections. Simply reading and watching is not enough; growing a personal learning network means engaging, actively commenting and asking questions. I think that patience is also key, because a quality PLN takes months, even years, to develop. Like Dr. Strange reminds us: The tools are constantly changing, so to be a lifelong learner we have to change with them.

    September's C4K Summary

    Each week Dr. Strange assigns a 'Comments4Kids' (C4K) project, in which students in EDM310 are asked to comment on a class or student blog post. These assignments have exposed me to classroom blogs from all over the world.

    girl with a stack of books

  • C4K #1
  • My first C4K assignment was by Emyk, a 10th grade english student in Alabama. The assignment was to discuss a belief, and include a personal story about how she came to this belief. Emyk's belief was "I believe no one should be bullied". She included a substantive, detailed post about her experience with bullying. I enjoyed reading her post because it was so candid and honest.

    This is a great assignment because it gives students the opportunity to openly share with their teachers and peers about an experience of their choice. Bullying is a timeless issue; I think anyone who reads Emyk's story can relate. I certainly can!

  • C4K #2
    The student I was originally assigned did not have a recent post, and from what I can tell, the student's blog I commented on no longer exists. (The internet is always in motion, and this is a good example of that!) Her assignment was to discuss one of her favorite things to do, which in her case, was sleeping. Her post was very short, and though it was fun to read, it left me wondering if she was taking the assignment seriously. This student's post reminded me that when using a blog in the classroom, there will be many different kinds of posts. Some students might need the extra push or encouragement to expand their ideas into a more substantive post.

  • C4K #3
    Antonia is a year 5 student at Pt. England School in Auckland, NZ. Antonia's blog is colorful and fun to look at. It's important to encourage students to design and personalize their blogs. I can tell that Antonia takes pride in her blog, and because of that I'm sure that the quality of her work is better. There are several interesting projects on her blog; the most recent is a word search she designed. She has several weekly reflections on her page, which is an idea I might utilize in my future classroom. Antonia designs one-page presentations that show what she has learned each week, and embeds them in her blog. There is also a similar reflection she composed about a class trip. Taking the time to pause and reflect is a vital component of the learning process, and this class has implemented technology into the equation; even better!

    colored dots

    I have already learned a lot from this project. As an aspiring teacher, I plan to implement blogging into my future classroom. A class blog gives students the opportunity to reflect on what they are learning, and to openly share their thoughts and ideas. It allows and encourages students to develop their own voices. Blogging is also a great way to teach students, who are constantly bombarded with technology and social media, about the importance of establishing a positive digital footprint.

  • Saturday, September 28, 2013

    Blog Assignment #6

    What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?

    Learning continues to take place far beyond the classroom walls, and teaching students to ask questions helps prepare them for life in the real world. Questions engage students, encourage participation and make them think for themselves. Asking questions helps develop cognitive skills, and prepares students for a lifetime of learning.

    The right question is usually more important than the right answer

    Strategies for Asking Questions

  • Prepare Questions in Advance
  • When planning for a lesson, prepare specific questions that you will ask your students as well as questions they might ask you. While planning, be sure to keep the standard or goal of the lesson in mind. This will help keep the lesson on track.

  • Timing is Everything
  • Another tip for planning is to mark specific points in the lecture when you'll pause for questions. This makes the lesson more engaging. Students are not as likely to ask questions when they know the lesson is coming to an end.

  • Start Simple
  • Begin with clear, simple questions. These short questions will slowly build onto each other and develop multiple layers and complexities. Starting a lecture with a deep and complicated question can be overwhelming for students.

  • Avoid Common Mistakes
  • Make students think. Avoid 'leading questions', in which the answer is implied. When asking a yes or no question, follow up with a more complicated question. Ask the student why they answered yes or no. Be careful not to ask more than one question at a time. Students are less likely to answer if they are not sure what the question is.

  • Review and Revise Questions
  • After teaching a lesson, refine it by reviewing the questions you asked and evaluating their effectiveness. Make notes so you can improve next time.

    Question mark made out of grass

    Different Kinds of Questions

    Asking different types of questions ensures the students understand and retain the information. Before you decide how to frame your question, consider the desired answer.

  • Closed questions
  • Closed questions have a limited number of answers. They are designed to test if the students are comprehending and remembering information. The most common closed questions result in a yes/no response.

  • Managerial Questions
  • Managerial questions ensure students understand directions and have necessary materials.

  • Open Questions
  • Open questions result in multiple, possibly conflicting, correct answers. Open questions are best for engaging the class and encouraging students to think critically. Open questions are used to assess learning and spark discussion in classroom.

    Asking questions makes students think and helps them learn. Questions are not only valuable in the classroom, but also throughout life. Claude Levi-Strauss said it best: "The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions."

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Blog Assignment #5

    Using iCurio and Discovery Education Effectively

    iCurio and Discovery Ed are great resources for the 21st century classroom. These sites offer a vast amount of information, activities and resources for instructors and students to explore. They also allow teachers to tailor lessons to fit individual student needs. To use these sites effectively, it's important to take some time to become familiar with each site.

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Blog Assignment #4

    Why Podcasts?

    Technology is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. That's why it's important, as teachers, we prepare students by teaching them the skills they will need to stay up to date and change with it.

    chimpanzee wearing head phones

    Introducing technology, specifically podcasts, to children at a young age is a great teaching method. Children are exposed to media on a regular basis, so it's important to show them how to use and navigate it constructively. Podcasts are a great tool because most kids are already well-acquainted with technology, so they find it interesting and relevant. Learning with podcasts is hands-on so it's also a good way to promote innovation, engagement and enhance creativity.

    Ways to Use Podcasts in the Classroom:

  • One way to use podcasting in the classroom is recording lectures or reviews. Students can then download and listen to the material on iTunes. This is a great way to keep an absent student in the loop.

  • Recording and editing a podcast is great for language learners. A student is able to hear his or her mistakes first hand, then correct them. This helps with mechanics, pronunciation and emphasis. Whether a student is learning a foreign language or struggling with reading, using a podcast is a great teaching method.

  • Posting the podcasts on the class blog or school website allows the parents to hear what their children are doing at school.

  • Podcasts provide conveniences for students learning long distance.

  • Podcasts are great for project based learning because they encourage students to think critically, collaborate, engage and comprehend the lesson.

    To gain perspective on this assignment, Dr. Strange recommended we listen to a few podcasts. In the past I have never considered using podcasts in the classroom, but after reviewing the material I understand how valuable they can be. The Flat Stanley Podcast was composed by a class of first-graders. As I listened, I could tell how excited and engaged the students were by this project. They were having fun and letting their imaginations run wild; all while learning.

    Imagine that!