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

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blog Post #13

ALEX stands for Alabama Learning Exchange. It is a project created by the Alabama Department of Education, designed for teachers, administrators, parents, and students to have all of their unique needs met through easily accessible resources. Creating an account with ALEX enables you to store and submit lesson plans and teacher web pages. Lesson plans are provided for all subjects and grades, along with courses concerning character building and counseling. Each subject is separated into categories with numerous web links and lesson plans.

Professional training and grant opportunities are offered. Teaching tools are obtainable through this site, and tutorials and tips are presented to help you gain more insight. It is possible to communicate with colleagues and learn about the latest news with this site as well. An entire section of this sight is dedicated to podcasts, which are highly useful videos created for sharing information. I think that ALEX is an extremely helpful teacher site, which will be a major asset in my journey as a teacher. The materials provided make it simple to be organized and collaborative, all in one place online. I will definitely use this to my advantage.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Additional Assignment #5

The Medium Shapes the Learning
I very much agree with this post, if the message I took from it is correct. When picking a tool to use for educational purposes, I think that it is not so important to focus on the credibility it has for "fun" and "productivity". Although these are important factors in choosing a tool, if the tool does not shape the child's way of learning as is needed then that tool not the best choice. John Spencer clearly states that the intended meaning of the medium and how its going to affect a child's changing life is more crucial than the simple "fun" and "productivity" factors.

He Just Likes the Class for the Pencils
This post by Mr. Spencer follows well after his previous post. Although he does incorporate fun into his classroom, he also enforces strict rules. He does not just stop with the rules and scare the students away, though. He respects them as his equals and helps them to understand how important learning is. Any new tool can be fun for a day, but when it comes down to how learning affects and shapes a child's life the relationship the child has with the teacher is what matters.

Sketchy Portrait: 8th Grade Identity and Pencils
I think it's great the John Spencer understands that sometimes what children say may appear rude, but it is just their way of expressing themselves. I guess many teachers have forgotten what it was like when they were in eighth grade. Throughout our entire lives we are constantly changing. Teachers must learn to accept their students as friends who they are helping out on the difficult journey of growing and learning. It is important that a child is understood as an individual with a changing life life and feelings as the rest of us. Teachers can choose to be either the pencils or the pens. John Spencer is an enlightened pencil, who recognizes the gray area of change in between the black and white permanency of life. He infuses this knowledge of never-ending change and the individual life of each child into his relationship with his students. At the same time, the teachers who are permanent pens feel the best way to teach a child is through discipline and structure through strict, unyielding rules. The procedures of teaching are not to be forgotten, but the relationship with students is a must.

Just Teach Them to Solve for X
I remember distinctly the last time I used metaphors knowingly. I was in the third grade and we had to draw pictures of the metaphors we used, such as "He's got the whole world in His hands". I never understood the importance of metaphors, however. I have realized everything that is learned is important, and how you apply it is what truly matters. Simply learning something isn't enough. The material learned should be explored, questioned, and not taken for less than it really is. Mr. Spencer says that metaphors are our way of making sense of those things in  life that are between tangibility and abstraction. It causes us to truly think deeper about things, which constructs and shapes our growth of knowledge. If we could view other people's opinions  as unique from our own and realize that the metaphor in their mind may not in line with our own, we would be open to more possibilities. We have to be able to form our own ideas apart from the given tangible or abstract  facts. This enables us to be individuals with different ideas, while having a clearer perception of reality.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Final Project #16 Progress

For my final project, I am going to be working with Amani Alloul, Amanda Brewton, Sarah Davis, and Samantha Deardorff. We are not quite sure what we are going to do yet, I am sad to say. However, I am sure we will make the final decision sometime this week and will work hard on using all of our ideas creatively and effectively.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog Post #12

Watch the RSA Animate, The Secret Powers of Time by Philip Zambardo and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by David Pink. Write a summary on these videos and explain how you feel the messages described affect the growth in people's education and their drive for success.

In Philip Zambardo's animation, he describes six different perceptions of time we have as humans. He explains how where we live and what is natural in our lives can affect our perception of time and the way we live. One topic he discussed that really got me thinking was that of the lives people create for themselves inside video games, more so now that there are rapid advancements in the designs. After people become accustomed to spending so much time creating their own worlds through video games, it is hard for them to have any drive in an old-fashioned education system where everything remains the same and nothing is under their control. It is apparent that humans need change, excitement, and control in life. If they do not have these things, no matter which perception of time they have, their motivation level for school is surely going to decrease.

Of course the ideal is to be future oriented, avoiding temptations and making your life for a successful future. Any of the other time zones are portrayed to cause almost sedentary lifestyles. However, regardless of an individual's perception of time, one question still arises. What is going to drive any given person to live for success?

As Dan Pink explains in his presentation, scientific studies have proven people are going to become less motivated the more they are required to follow along with a job's requirements and think cognitively. Pink states that it is a fact money is a motivator. However, these studies have shown even if given a greater award, those occupations requiring a higher incentive lead to worse performance. It has been determined by scientists that autonomy, mastery, and purpose lead to better performance. That is why it is important for work places to focus more on a person's self direction in engagement.

The example Dan Pink gives is the 24 hour period of autonomy the Atlassian Software Company is allowed each year. They are given this time to do whatever they would like, but must show their results afterwards with the company. This is done in a fun party setting, and through this method ideas for new products have been developed that would have never materialized otherwise. The other two factors that lead to better performance, mastery and purpose, are fulfilled through challenges to become better at a given task and inspiring work places. The longing for profit can be completely destroyed if the job is in no way self fulfilling or intriguing.

Although Dan Pink is discussing occupation in his creation, I feel what he says about motivation applies to education as well. If schools will begin looking at students as individuals and allowing them to make their own decisions based on autonomy, mastery, and purpose, they will surely be more motivated. Scientific studies and research have proved this. The reward should not just be good grades, but a true sense of self direction and challenging, fun tasks.

Google Form Project #6

After viewing the 17 results for my Google survey, I have come to the realization that the Internet is vital to all 17 students' lives. 41% of the students surveyed spend 3-4 hours on the Internet daily. 29% spend 5-6 hours online, and 18% spend 1-2 hours. Only 6% spend 7 hours or more on the Internet. Overall, though, everyone spends a number of time on the Internet every day.

The most visited website is Facebook with 59% of votes. The best feature of the Internet, according to 41% of voters, is communication. Study references as the best feature comes in line next with 35% of votes. This shouts out the truth of how the Internet has changed the way we communicate and the amount of time we spend communicating.

88% of voters feel they have gained the most insight into current news via the Internet. I feel the same way, and think this proves how very important the Internet is. It is crucial that we are up to date with the world we are currently living in.

53% of voters think the Internet is the cornerstone of technology. 29% of people have never thought about it. 12% feel it is just helpful, and 6% say it is not the cornerstone of technology.

The answers to these survey questions prove that the Internet is a vital tool, which is already pretty common knowledge. However, the voters proved just how important it is and the advancements it has made in our communications with others.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Comments for Teachers #3

The third teacher I was assigned to leave a comment for was Jenny She, a primary school teacher in Auckland, New Zealand. The first post I read included a video of a cultural festival Jenny put together for her class. Jenny worked with Garth J and Helen to put together the dragon's body and head. She also added kung fu and umbrella dance as well. I think children should begin learning about cultures at young ages so they can have a sense of cultural identity. It also helps them to escape from their own reality and visualize how life would be in other regions. I'm definitely looking forward to having my own class and creating fun activities for the students.

Children Are Our Future

The second post I commented on was titled We Should Listen to the Kids! Thank you, Jenny, for posting this video. Adora Svitak's lecture was very enlightening. She is very intelligent and delivered her message well. What she said is completely true. Adults must listen to children. The generation of children we are teaching will be responsible for the world after we are gone. That is the number one fact we have to take into account.

At the most, considering there are great-great-great grandparents living, we have six generations living in the world. We have the children, the teenagers, adults(young and grown) the elderly, the very elderly, and the extremely elderly. However, what is age really? It is a development towards death. In the process of aging, living happens. Children are the ones we should be listening to. They are smart, intuitive, innocent, curious, good-hearted, and pure.

I think it is important for children to be treated as adults to the fullest extent, excluding pornography, drugs, or any other harmful tool society has thrown into our homes. By molding our children to be the best that they can be, we will be able to know we truly helped the next generation. If we continue to steer them so far away from what is wrong and dwell on our own past mistakes, they will become too curious about the wrong things. We have to forget about what we did wrong in the past and focus on what we can do right now. These creative, genius children gain their influence from us.

Of course, not everyone will be a genius. Every single person does have the potential to fulfill dreams and reach their destination, though, if they are encouraged as if they are geniuses, regardless of age, personality, or anything else that may appear to be an impediment in one's journey through life. Adults must ask children questions in order to gain insight into the feeling of nothing being impossible. Adults must take children's ideas and imaginations and build them up and mold them to become exactly what they should be: true, life-changing dreams. Adults have to listen to all children, even if their thoughts are very divergent and seem complicated to put into action at times. It must be remembered that nothing is impossible as long we're alive.  Adults must realize children are our future. As Sir Ken Robinson says, "We shouldn't be putting them to sleep. We should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Teach Something Project #14

Comments for Kids #3-7

I commented on a post made by a young boy named Miracle. He talks about his favorite rugby player, Rokocoko. It seems rugby is as important in New Zealand as football is in America. This particular class is made up of 5 and 6 year students and their ethnicities include Maori, Samoan, Tongan, European, Cook Island, and Nieuan. These 9 and 10 year olds are very creative and have taught me about rugby, something I had no idea about before reading their blog. They have also created beautiful videos explaining the discoveries of New Zealand and America. They are an interesting, intelligent group of students attending Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand.

I commented on Adrian's blog, a 6 year student attending a middle school half an hour away from the capital of Tasmania. He enjoys car shows, rock music, and video games. In one post he tells us that his favorite animal is a tiger. I thought that was neat because tigers are also my favorite animal. I told him that tigers can be identified individually by their stripes because they are each unique. It is similar to humans being identified by our fingerprints.

I commented on Bennett's blog, a 6th grader attending Waukee Middle School in Waukee, Iowa. I read a descriptive story by Bennett. He talked about a pet cheeseburger he had that got sick after a week. After giving the cheeseburger a pill as an attempt to make him feel better was to no avail, Bennett ate the cheeseburger to get it out of its misery. This was a really creative piece that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

I commented on Alaina's blog, a 6th grader in Mr. Reuter's class where each student has their own blog, Netbook, and Edmodo account. The particular post I commented on was Alaina's review of one week. They finished their biomes projects and she provided a link for some information about the wetlands. She also told us that she was the ecologist in her group. She is going to dissect a starfish in science class. I told her I had just dissected a clam in Biology. She made a 96 on her math test and thought it was easy. She is a very intelligent, enthusiastic child and I enjoyed reading all of her posts.

I commented on Alba Shunkshark's blog. He took a picture of the U.S.S. Alabama battleship and wanted suggestions as to what he should name it. I suggested "Shapes" because the angles of the lines surrounding the circles cause me to think geometrically.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blog Post #11

It was very interesting to see a group of first graders interacting on individual laptops and doing hands on activities on the Smartboard. I think it is great that they are already learning about the world of the Internet and how to be safe with it. I imagine that all of these children will have quickly enhanced reading and writing skills thanks to Ms. Cassidy and her efforts. I also think blogging with other students will help improve social skills. I plan to use these techniques in my classroom. I do realize that I will have students who are non-readers, but voice recordings and videos are handy tools that can be used to give these children a place in reading and writing activities. It will also be difficult for certain children with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, to move around as quickly as other students. Some may have a hard time pinpointing what to click on the Smartboard or even how to hold the pen. This just means I will need patience and time to work with students that have different disabilities until the best method for each individual is determined. I feel active assignments using technology are probably better suited for special children in many cases. I'm sure it will be hard for many of them to sit still for long. I can see lessons with the Smartboard especially giving them a variety of activities in which they can find their strengths and become accomplished, happy children.

First Graders in Ms. Cassidy's Class!
EDM310 Skype Interview with Ms. Kathy Cassidy!