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.