"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."- Thomas Edison

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blog Post #5

Eagle's Nest Radio
Eagle's Nest Radio is a pod casting project run by a group of third graders. I feel this is a very effective way of learning. Instead of taking notes on lectures, the students are able to interact together and explain information creatively.

This is a great tool for practicing speaking skills and learning how to learn through various methods at a young age. I definitely see myself using pod casting in my classroom.

The Education Pod Casting Network
This website gives information and ideas about creative illustration for web design. This enables information to stand out and have it's own special attributes. Something that may normally be overlooked would be given a second glance thanks to illustration. This is important in learning because sometimes in order to spark the mind's attention we have to see that which is pleasing to the eyes.

This is another very effective part of teaching students and holding their interest so that they can focus. Pictures are always pretty to look at, and it's even better if they have a story to go along with them.
The Benefits of Pod Casting in the Classroom
This pod cast about the benefits of pod casting makes an excellent point concerning the fact that Millennium babies or anyone born after 1980 have never known a world without technology. It is what they are comfortable and familiar with. That is why pod casting is so beneficial.

It enables students to learn through a tool that they already understand via television advertisements, radio shows, and cell phones. They learn by doing, seeing, and hearing for themselves, and what better way to make this happen than through pod casting? Pod casting helps children to think rationally about what they are seeing, hearing, and learning. Parents can learn at the same time as their children simply by getting on a computer. Pod casting sounds like a genius idea to me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blog Post #4

Don't Teach your Kids this Stuff. Please?
Mr. McLeod's poem outlines the problems children face when their parents try to "protect" them from the internet as if it is some evil place. While there are plenty of predators online, children should not be left in the dark about something that will play a major role in their lives. They should be taught of the differences between good and bad internet use, and if the parents feel it is necessary safety blocks should be installed. They should be taught that games are not the only thing the internet is about and that it is a place of knowledge, creativity, and experience.

Scott McLeod is very experienced with technology, and this has shined through with his numerous award winnings for technology leadership work. He also created a graduate program for technology-savvy school leaders and the first group blog written by school leaders for school leaders, LeaderTalk. His blog should be consulted by every prospective teacher.

The iSchool Initiative
A high school senior narrates this video to point out the problems with schools and how they can be solved. He asks the audience a question to answer themselves after watching his video: "Does technology belong in our classroom?" He then moves on to demonstrating the available iSchool applications.

All core subjects are available just at the touch of the screen. I feel this could help teachers to stop wasting so much time saying something and waiting for the student to write it down. Instead, it would already be at the student's disposal and there would be so much more time for discussion and individual help. There is also a graphing application, which would throw away the need for a 100 dollar calculator most high school math teachers require. There are note taking and memo recording applications, which can be E-mailed to other students. There is an entire bookshelf inside of this small device that you can choose various classic books from. So much more can be achieved between teachers and students when all of the basic information is all in one device. Apparently, parents can even monitor their children's progress from any phone. In turn, approximately 6,000 dollars will be saved on the finance of each student's education.

Not only will iSchool broaden the path for learning and save money, but it will help to save our world that is being destroyed more and more everyday. The paper we use so often comes from our very oxygen supply, and we can preserve the planet if we use this alternative method of note-taking, reading, and more. This is a great invention and the answer to Travis's question is yes. Technology belongs in our classroom.

The Lost Generation
In this presentation, the speaker is using reverse psychology. She reads a poem about how our generation's future will be, which is very undesirable but possibly true with the way things are going. She then reads the same poem again backwards, and it is written so that it says the exact opposite of everything she just said with a positive outlook. I feel this poem would have been just as effective if she had not read it backwards. Anyone who has a heart would think about how they are treating their loved ones and the world they live in and hopefully change their ways, even if there are still many heartless people who don't and won't care. However, the ending statement that she can change the world and refuses to believe that she is a part of a lost generation should be a shout out to all of us. If we all look at ourselves and others as failures, we will be failures. If we aim to succeed and don't give up, we will be successful.

Eric Whitaker's Virtual ChoirEric Whitaker's Virtual Choir
This is absolutely amazing, and possibly one of the most astounding collaboration projects I have ever seen put together using that wonderful thing called technology. More beautiful than the 185 voices harmonizing together was the fact that they were able to harmonize perfectly even though they had never met or performed together. The possibilities for creations using the internet are beginning to appear limitless.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Additional Assignment #1

Pitcairn Islands map

Thanks to Dr. Strange, I am now aware of two helpful educational searching tools, WolframAlpha and Google Squared. I did not know of either of these before this assignment, and I am glad I can now extend any research I do using these tools.

Using these websites, students can narrow or broaden their research to focus solely on what they need to know. Google Squared provides columns of different categories of information pertaining to the subject that can be deleted if unneeded, and additional columns can be added. With Wolfram, maps and graphs are available to be viewed in comparison to the statistics. I also learned that Wolfram can be used as a graphing calculator. You simply put in the function and click compute. Students can learn so much more using these websites without having to read more than a few sentences.

After reading back over my "Did You Know" post, my thoughts have changed. While I was astonished that India has more honor kids than the United States has kids, I did not realize the major difference in population. I now understand that statistics have more to them than just numbers. There are many different areas that affect the statistics, and from now on I will research more thoroughly before allowing statistics to blow my mind.

The Stable Boy and the iPad- To learn it is possible for a 6 year old illiterate stable boy to naturally understand how to work a computer brings tears to my eyes at the possibilities technology provides for those who are less fortunate.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Comments for Teachers #1

For my first Comments for Teachers project, I was assigned to comment on two of Mr. Brian Crosby's posts. Mr. Crosby is a teacher of 30 years in Sparks, Nevada. Education in Nevada is funded 50th out of 50 states in the United States. Mr. Crosby currently teaches at an elementary school with "at risk" students. He teaches a class of fourth graders and goes on to teach them through the sixth grade. Poverty causes him to lose many of his students and after three years he only has a little more than half of the class left.
Mr. Crosby is knowledgeable in outdoor education and educational technology, which he uses in his technology classroom to connect his students to the world. Besides having a class blog, wiki, and hands-on activities available to them, Mr. Crosby oversees his students' participation in community service. He is truly an excellent addition to the teachers today; he is giving these children experiences they desperately need and persevering despite any financial difficulties he has to face.
The first post I commented on was titled: A “Forgotten” Best Practice – Making A Difference In Students’ Lives. Mr. Crosby originally wrote this back in 2006, but thought it was a topic he needed to bring to light again. It concerns students struggling with poverty, domestic abuse, or other issues outside of school who are disruptive and/or make poor grades. Instead of being shunned, they should be dealt with as individuals who need attention and care. Counseling and other programs should be offered in more schools that help them for their own specific problems. Not everything should be based on scan trons and behavioral write-up sheets. More time should be invested in students, our children of the future. Sometimes the concept of time is a hard thing to grasp, but the effort should be put forth nonetheless.
Here are our comments for this blog post:
Tara Watson:
Hi, I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I will be commenting on this post and another one two weeks from now for a blogging project.
I found your topic to be not only intriguing, but a subject all teachers and prospective teachers should be aware of and further observe. When I was in high school, there were not any programs or counseling groups to help troubled children or teens. Many simply took the “easy” way out and quit when they reached the age of sixteen. These students who act out and make poor grades are not failures, but are suffering from domestic abuse, poverty, depression, or other problems outside of the classroom. I believe this dilemma desperately needs to be put to more teachers’ attention.
The link between low-scoring students and domestic abuse or poverty are apparent and can be solved in schools everywhere if teachers and staff will only understand the importance of “No Child Left Behind” and take the initiative. It will open a world of opportunities and create ambition for these children if their lives at home and very different personalities are put into the equation.
Brian Crosby:
Hi Tara – I think you are right. Perhaps we would get a pretty big “bang for the buck” if we invested in the kinds of programs you describe. I also wonder if we could effect the drop out rate positively if we transformed our schools to make them places more students wanted to be. If we offered a more varied curriculum that appealed to more of students’ talents and areas that they might become passionate about. Just like a student that is good at and loves basketball, and makes the school team and because they love playing they are willing to put greater effort into their schoolwork and get the help they need so they can keep their grades high enough to get to play even though school or certain subjects might be very difficult for them. I wonder how many students would stay in school if the activity or topic they were passionate about was offered? Art, graphic arts, more varied music, fashion design? What activities or subject beyond sports could you see not only getting students excited about school, but making it a place they are willing to do the hard work to continue on in even if they have the kinds of lives you describe?
Tara Watson:
That is a difficult question to answer and would require much thought and surveying. I think the first step to focus on should be how to counsel these students even if they are good at hiding their problems. Many students will never come forth on their own with issues they are facing for fear of rejection or embarrassment. They should probably not be singled out at first, but the entirety of the school should be given assignments designed to discover personality traits and interests. Programs, activities, and subjects can then be derived from these findings. The primary subjects and sporting teams are all that seem to matter in most schools. While they are definitely important (sports not so much…I feel they are overrated), I agree with you that it is more vital to help children find their passions in life so they can feel confident and know what they want to accomplish. Another factor I believe would help is simply giving more rewards for good behavior, such as being allowed to dress out of uniform once a week (appropriately of course). I wish I had more ideas right now, but this will definitely be something I will think more about.
The second post I commented on was titled: What Do Teachers Need From Administrators? This was a post written in response to Scott McLeod's request for Mr. Crosby to contribute to his "What do teachers need from administrators?" week of posts. I would suggest clicking the link and reading the post as Mr. Crosby is very well-spoken.
Here is my comment:
Mr. Crosby,
I respect how firm you are in your beliefs and knowledge as a 30-year teacher. After looking at your class blog and students’ work, it is obvious that you have enough experience and creativity of your own to help your students without interference from administrators. You ask first of all for more time to plan your lessons which would probably mean more money. Well, this would be possible for you if the administrators would quit forcing new ideas that they can not understand into your curriculum. I hope that the administrators over your school read this and at least hear you out. You deserve it.

Blog Post #3

This is a picture of Bart Simpson and a chalkboard.
A Vision of Students Today
This video is definitely an easy one for any college student to relate to. It was actually really sad to me that so many students Facebook or instant message during class. This is a part of technology that is not a very good distraction while in a learning environment. However, how can students learn if all they do is sit and try not to lose their focus? How can they learn if they can't write notes to keep up with the teacher's lecture? How can they learn if they are so bored and fed up with the repetitive system of school that they don't feel there is anything worth learning? And how can they learn if they give up and stop going altogether?

I thought that I had learned something during these past 14 years of my life. I've always maintained over a 3.0 GPA so that must mean I'm smart... right? Or have I just allowed information, some useless to my life, to be crammed into my head to the point of near explosion? It's hard for me to tell because learning with paper and pencil is how I've always learned, and for the most part I've found just that to be exciting. Now, I am questioning the relativity between this way of learning that is leaving so many students behind versus modern technology and the advancements it has made so rapidly.

It is scary to think that maybe I haven't learned a thing of importance in my life, well maybe a few things. One of those things is that in most classes I'm expected to be a robot, never thinking for myself. Just listening, memorizing, and repeating. The only other classes I have had that used technology are a few computer classes in high school. The first two were ridiculous, but the third one taught me how to make my own website and produce links and such. It was really interesting to figure out how to create a personal website and state ideas of my own. It was... creativity.

Writing on the chalkboard was helpful back in 1841, but now it is 2010. Times are changing and there is information everywhere: photos, videos, blogs. It is even possible to have one on one conversations with professionals in whatever field you are aspiring. However, this does not convince me that technology alone will save our students. First, we need good teachers who are willing to innovate teaching using different tools in technology to the best of their abilities. Secondly, we need students who are willing to try new things to discover what they are best at.

This is a picture of a teacher and her students.
 It's Not About the Technology
In her post, Kelly Hines discusses her view points on the modern day belief that technology is the center of success. I think the most important of her arguments is that technology is useless without good teachers. Many things are possible thanks to technology, and there are also many technological methods that will be able to help students. However, without a good teacher who can establish understanding in the minds of her students using any method, technology in the classroom appears to be useless. If a teacher does choose not to include much technology in her teaching, she should at least introduce a few basic tools that could be useful to her students in times of need.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her "basic physics principle" regarding teaching versus learning. Hines states, "If a student has not learned, no matter how much effort has been exerted, no teaching has been done." This is why teachers and students alike should focus on one day at a time, work together, and both do the best they can. I couldn't agree more.

Hines points out that teachers must be excited to learn and evolve learning in students in order to be good teachers. This means not only should they ensure their students are motivated, but they themselves should remain motivated and up to date on current issues and tools. She also provides a source which talks of ways 21st century leadership skills are taught to students apart from any technology. Technology is not a necessity, just an extremely helpful tool that should be used creatively to help students gain motivation.

Something that I feel is very significant and just came to mind after reading her post is that of communication and collaboration. Students should be encouraged to talk in class, pertaining to the subject of course, and even be required to participate. Group projects are something that should happen more often. This way students can share their ideas with each other and use their ideas together to create something unique and interesting that will teach each individual something they didn't know before.

Reading Mrs. Hine's post caused me to feel great relief because it made me realize I do not have to keep technology at the center of everything I teach. Technology is important enough to be used effectively every day in a classroom, but being a good teacher is definitely more important. As she also says, a good teacher with a great understanding of technology can do amazing things. This gives me the motivation to continue seeking to learn more and to use any tools I gain to the best of my ability.

This is a picture of a computer that says, I'm just a machine. Maybe you're the stupid one? Is it Okay to Be a Technologically Illiterate Teacher?
In my opinion the answer to Karl Fisch's question is no. It is not okay to be technologically illiterate. Not only should technological literacy apply to teachers, but to everyone who makes an impact on a child's growth. I don't understand why it is perfectly fine to "not get computers", but for it to be socially unacceptable if someone doesn't know how to read. Technology is one of the main ways children learn starting at very young ages, whether from videos or hands-on tools.

My opinion differs from Mr. Fisch's on the matter of technological illiteracy being equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago not knowing how to read or write. I feel that if a teacher 30 years ago didn't know how to read or write, he or she would not have been a teacher. Many of the tools available today for teaching were not available then. As stated in Hines' post, a good teacher is what really makes the difference in a child's learning, creativity, and passion.

Despite my new found belief that teachers, not technology, are the cornerstone for education, I do feel that in the age we are living in technological literacy is a must. The world and the way we communicate is changing much too quickly for an educator to be behind. It is our responsibility to raise the children we are sending out into the world. We can't always count on their parents. Therefore, we should teach each child as an individual and be sure to meet their special needs accordingly. Fisch says, "...the teacher is no longer the fountain of all knowledge, but someone to work with toward a mutual goal." This is absolutely true, and the very reason teachers have to be technologically literate. I am thankful Mr. Fisch chose to share his post with us.

This is a picture of Social Media icons.
Gary Hayes Social Media Count
In approximately 25 minutes, around 15,000 blog posts had been added to the web. If half or even less than half of those posts were made by teachers, that means there are a lot of technologically literate teachers in the world. In 30 minutes, there have been 195,000 iPhone applications downloaded. Not many people are taking for granted the technology out there, so we as teachers shouldn't either. I feel I can not only be educated about technology anymore. I must perfect my knowledge to the greatest capacity my mind can handle. I can not only be a good teacher. I must strive to be "the best".

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog Post #2

Did You Know? 3.0
While watching this video, I was awestruck and forced to stare at the screen for a few minutes in shock afterward. I hadn't the slightest idea how much this world truly does depend on technology. More astonishingly than anything I just learned in a matter of minutes is the fact that technology doubles every two years. This could mean my grandchildren may not even know what a book or paper is. Every technological device will probably be so improved that we won't even have a need to think about how to do something. A button will do it all for us.

I have had this thought before, but never understood the reality of future possibilities until now. It is exciting and amazing to comprehend that human brains working together are capable of creating a computer that will exceed the computational capabilities of the human brain. Technology didn't create itself after all. Any and everything we wish to know can be found on the internet, simply by typing it into the Google search bar. Before Google I suppose people were limited to getting their information from people around them or by reading books, and whatever they couldn't find the answer to resulted in a shrug of the shoulders and moving on.

Technology has spread to everyone everywhere and is used everyday constantly. Whether it is used for knowledge, entertainment, or communication, it is now apparent to me that it is vital to not only be educated about what technology is, but how to use it for your benefit. The fact that India has more honor kids than the United States has kids tells me that the teaching methods in India differ completely from the teaching methods in America. I feel that teachers in America have had the same teaching style for decades, and it is time for a change. Jobs are becoming more difficult to obtain, and the smartest, most experienced person always wins. Teachers and prospective teachers alike have a tough job ahead of us if we want our children to learn everything they need to know to do the best in their different fields of occupation in this day and age. It will be a long, bumpy road, but keeping technology at the center of our minds seems to be a good start.

Mr. Winkle Wakes
This video summed up the big picture of the great need for our schools to be improved in only three minutes. What we see in offices and hospitals today seems completely natural to us because it is what we have always known, or at least all we in our late teens or early twenties have ever known. However, if we were to wake up after one hundred years in 2010, as Mr. Winkle does in the video, we would probably feel like aliens visiting another planet. Before he went to sleep back in 1910, Mr. Winkle probably walked through town listening to the sounds of cows mooing or wagon wheels rolling on cobble-stoned roads, definitely not to beeps or telephones ringing. To see a face of someone across the ocean on front of a flat box and be able to have a conversation with them probably seemed paranormal. This shows how much the world has truly changed in a short amount of time.

Although this is obviously a fictional story, if Mr. Winkle really did wake up today and go around town visiting different buildings, the only familiarity he would be able to find is in school. The required subjects are still the same basic subjects they were 100 years ago- reading, writing, English, arithmetic, history, and science- with the exception of a few new ones. The way subjects were taught 100 years ago and still today just can't cut it anymore. No matter what occupation someone is aspiring for, technology is a must. Whether creating a payroll for employees in a restaurant, taking X-rays for surgery in a hospital, filing clients' records in a law firm, or ordering products for restocking shelves in a grocery store, some type of technological device is used.

To gain the skills necessary to maintain a position in any job requires education, and teachers are the facilitators of education. This means teachers are at the center of every occupation in the world and have more responsibility on their hands than many people give them credit for. They should have the salary of a doctor in my opinion, but that's a different story. Working on teaching children so they can function to their fullest abilities in the present and the future to soon come should be our number one priority. Computers and other devices available for our use should not be taken for granted. We should master technology and all of the tasks that come along with it, so the children we teach can learn what is crucial to their growth and development on the planet Earth.

Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity
It seems my mind keeps opening further as I watch video after video. When I first clicked on the link and saw this would be a twenty minute speech, I was dreading it. As I saw Ken Robinson had one minute left to speak, however; I was dreading for it to end. Throughout his speech he focuses on various areas that prove repeatedly how very essential creativity is. One statement he made that really hit me is: "Creativity now is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same status." When he said this, I literally applauded with the audience.

Reading is very important, and is needed for almost every job, just as technology is. Despite this truth, there are a lot of people who graduate from high school without being able to read beyond elementary level. Literacy is a great thing to strive for, but without creativity, nothing can be accomplished. In the age of industrialism, the public education school systems focused solely on academic ability for success. Out of this we received our present way of thinking.

In this way of thinking, many children who are "creative" or have a hard time focusing on what is "necessary" for success, will never amount to anything. I agree with Robinson that this is wrong. He proves this when he talks of Gillian Lynne, the noted choreographer of "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera." Her mother thought something was wrong with her because she couldn't pay attention or sit still in class, but in actuality she had what hadn't yet been established in the 1930's as ADHD. The standards for what should be learned versus what can be learned are proved by this example. Some people just can not learn by having arithmetic and history crammed into their heads. Every individual is different and has their own destiny to fulfill in life, many which don't include core subjects at all.

Schools have to stop killing creativity now and begin to incorporate it into teaching in every single way possible. Aside from creating more courses, arts should be interfused into standard curriculum. Even testing should be changed to pinpoint the uniqueness in each individual, so that their dreams are not shot down but built up starting at a young age. Instead of looking at what a child is not so good at, schools should focus on what a child is great at and help them to discover the amazing talent they posses. That one perfect talent is inside each of us, no matter what anyone thinks. Therefore, it is time to quit sending those who are looked at as failures into the world, and start enabling the creativity in each mind to shine through.

Vicki Davis: Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts
Vicki Davis sets a very good example for us in her demonstrative video of her class and teaching techniques. She shows that even though she teaches in a rural part of Georgia, the interactions available through technology remain limitless. Her students are able to be divided into groups based on their strengths and interests and learn through various methods via blogging and other activities. I don't see why every school shouldn't have a class such as this, where students can really learn how to learn and enjoy doing it. Not only are the requirements for graduation fulfilled in her classroom, but her students will also be experienced enough in the present to face the "real world" in the future. Just as she points out, only paper and pencils are not enough to be educated. Only certain students can get by in this way.

I feel just as academic success is required to graduate, every student should also be required to take part in a class like this. To know how to blog before entering college and different occupations is a way of getting ahead of the game. I have never blogged until now. I feel if I had been introduced to blogging earlier in life, not only would I be smarter about what is going on all over the world, but in my own country. I have already learned so much from these two short weeks I have been birthed into the blogging world. There are innumerable links and sources that provide helpful information to everyone everywhere. I know that to start children blogging and working interactively with present technology at a young age will enhance their creativity and allow them to be more understanding of what their passion and purpose in life is.