Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blog Post #6

The Office Character: Dwight Schrute

Asking Questions

As a learner it is mandatory to ask questions. As a future teacher that means it is vital that I continue to improve my understanding of questioning. Ben Johnson's article is humbling, yet encouraging. It reiterates to me that it's okay to step off my high horse, so to speak, and realize that I will not know everything when I teach. The good news is that throughout life I will continue to learn new things, and when a student proposes a question that I don't know it's a great opportunity to learn.

The article by Ben confirms that the way we present questions and answers can be detrimental to students. Ben Johnson states, "...sometimes the students do not understand that they do not understand, and if they do not know what they do not know, there is no way they can ask a question about it." This statement is true, and it's terrifying how many teachers don't care. Even today in college I experience classroom settings where only a select few students are involved in asking questions. There are multiple techniques that can be used as a solution, but the website Ben linked in his article provided some fantastic resources teachers can use.

Ultimately the goal of asking questions is to get the students engaged. The Three Ways To Ask Better Questions in The Classroom article by Maryellen Weimer provides 3 easy methods you can apply to improve the question's you ask your students. First she suggest actually taking the time to prepare the specific questions you will ask your students. Teachers are quick to prepare their lesson plan or lecture, but for some odd reason they don't think twice about preparing specific questions to ask. Taking the extra time to prepare specific questions will assure that the questions you ask are clear and easy to understand.

The second method Maryellen suggests is to play with questions. Playing with the question means leaving the question unanswered for a while rather than quickly telling the students if they're right or wrong. This keeps the students pondering. I can personally remember this method being used by a few of my favorite teachers and I can remember it being successful in keeping students engaged.

The final advice she gives is to preserve good questions. If you ask a question that really seems to get the students engaged it would be wise to write it down. You can even use the responses you receive to tweak your questions, or add to your questions. The most important aspect of this technique is it can get the discussion at least started if your students are having a hard time to answer a question.

All three of the techniques Maryellen Weimer provided are great ways to get students engaged, but my favorite is the first. Taking extra time to prepare specific questions is simple, it just requires a little bit of time and effort. I do believe I will implement all three of the suggestions Maryellen provided though. This was a great read for me mainly because of how easy it is to implement all three of these methods into my teaching.

The key is getting students engaged in the process of asking questions. A learner is a questioner by nature. There is nothing more important to learning than questioning. It's vital I make sure my students are engaged and actually learn rather than just memorize material. As a future history teacher there isn't anything more important than the way I ask questions.

Project #8 : Book Trailer

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Project #3 Presentation

Blog Post #4

Why Podcast? How do we do a Podcast?

I've never really thought about how podcasts could be used in the classroom, but after this assignment I feel like it's mandatory that I utilize this in my classroom. In the Langwitches blogpost, 1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook, it gives a great example of how to get student's involved in the classroom by making their own audiobook. The teachers recorded the students reading, and also they recorded the script so the students could read along. The students got so involved through this method that they even wanted to re-record their voice when they didn't like they way they sounded. The recordings also lead the first grade student's to experiment with garageband. It impresses me that by combining the printed scripts with the audiobook the students followed along with their fingers. The student's learned reading skills, writing skills, and on top of those two they learned how to utilize technology.

The second Langwitches blog I read, Flat Stanley Podcast, continued to show the amazing benefits of using podcasts with a class. One of the first grade classes at Silvia Tolisano's school read the book Flat Stanley, by Jim Brown, and sent their own versions of Flat Stanley to their relatives and friends around the country and received images and stories back. The book is about a young boy named Stanley who get's flattened by a gift bulletin board his dad gives him. Stanley utilizes his flattened state by being mailed in an envelope to visit his friends.

The students were inspired by their fellow class that made the audiobook for the Magic Tree House and wanted to make their own recording for their version of Flat Stanley. The class had to brainstorm a storyline so that every student could have a segment. The students also had to choose a location they wanted to be mailed to, and they had to use the internet and library books to research the location they chose. The student's weren't spoon fed information by the teacher, instead they took the initiative and did the learning on their own. Brainstorming with fellow classmates will be vital for every student when they get into their profession and this assignment did a tremendous job of preparing them for that.

The third blog I chose to summarize was the Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom by Joe Dale. The first thing to note is that podcasts provide a way of interacting with your students outside of the classroom. This is important because there is a limited amount of time you have with your students in the classroom, and podcasts can be listened to at any time and anywhere. Podcasts are also something students in this generation are familiar with due to the popularity of apple products like iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks. If I wanted to include visual effects I could do a vodcast, which is simply a podcast with video. Another benefit of using podcasts is that when students are out due to illness they will still have access to the lecture material from class. One of my favorite benefits would be the ability to put my podcasts into my blogs when I begin teaching. The benefits of podcasting are numerous and there aren't any negatives so I believe it's a no brainer that podcasting is something we as educators need to utilize.

C4T #1

Flipped Classroom

The teacher I was assigned to is Ken Halla. First Comment: In the first blog I read Ken blogged about flipping a classroom and explained what a flipped classroom meant. Apparently he and two other teachers have embraced and taught others about "flipping". He shared a video in which a teacher named Frank Franz discussed what it means to flip a classroom. Flipping is basically doing the opposite of what a lot of classrooms do. Instead of doing homework at home and lectures in the classroom you flip it. This gives the teacher more one on one time with the students in the classroom. The students have access to the lectures online at all times. The grading is a bit different as well, it utilizes standards based grading to assure that the student is ready for the next grade level.

In my comment I introduced myself and told Ken Halla how interesting the concept of a "flipped classroom" was to me. I told him that a flipped classroom would be something I would consider implementing in my classroom when I become a teacher. Also, I told him how much I like the Standards Based Grading. Using formative assessments as practice for the summative assessments was my favorite part, because it makes sure the students learn on their own.

Google Maps

Second Comment: In the second post I commented on Ken's blog titled Putting the US in Perspective. This blog contained a link to one of Ken Halla's former colleagues named Matt Mough. The link revealed how inaccurate the size of countries are proportioned on most maps. The link compared the accurate size of other various countries compared to the accurate size of the US.

In my comment on this post I explained to Ken that I was a victim of the misrepresentation of our country. I also noted that I did not realize how large the continent of Africa really was. The video in the link explained that map makers do this because size equates to power for most. I explained that I do often equate the size of a country or continent to power. I also let Ken Halla know that it is always a pleasure to read his blogs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blog Assignment #2

Snoopy Dancing

Wesley Etheridge, Erin Crane, and Lance Wilkinson: Professor Dance-a-lot

The video on Professor Dance-a-lot reflects the sentiment of “burp-back education”. Professor Dance-a-lot merely showed the students how to do something by lecture, when it would have been much more effective to have them engage themselves. The students didn’t really learn how to dance, because they never had to try. The point of the video is that in the future of the education we want to engage the students, not merely lecture at them. In this way teachers and students will both become more effective learners and leaders.

Wesley Etheridge: Teaching in the 21st Century

Kevin Roberts made it clear that teachers in the 21st century will have to stop simply providing content, dates, facts, and formula’s. Teachers are no longer the source of information; instead we are the filter between the students and information they have access to learn on their own. Roberts nailed this point by listing all the things students can use to learn on their own. Resources such as blogs, Google, cell phones, Twitter, Wikipedia, and YouTube are available to the majority of students in America.

What does it mean to be a filter? Kevin Roberts asks the question, “How do we teach students to handle their resources?” Being a filter means that we show our students how to use the resources made available to them. Teachers in the 21st century must show students how to validate, synthesize, leverage, communicate, and collaborate information. Roberts poses another important question, with all of this information available should our curriculum be focused on facts and content, or skills? If students can learn facts on their own, it’s clear we should focus on the skills needed.

I honestly don’t disagree with anything Kevin Roberts stated. I think he’s correct, and I think it means we need to focus on engaging students rather than entertaining students. Engaging students begins with the teacher. As teachers we need make sure we’re doing anything it takes to keep our students engaged at all times. Rather it be through collaborating with fellow students or utilizing questions that challenge students to solve problems online, the focus needs to be on engaging students. If Roberts is correct the challenge for me will be to take risks. Instead of making assumptions that my students won’t be successful learning facts on their own, I want to try different methods and see what happens.

Erin Crane: Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts 

Edutopia, an educational sources website, has a video detailing Vickie Davis’ unique way of using media tools to connect her students to learning.  Vickie is an innovative teacher in Camilla, Georgia that has taken it upon herself to use games, blogs, wikis, and virtual worlds to ignite a want in her students.  Mrs. Davis herself has won an award for best teacher blog in the world.  She has traveled around the country talking about the techniques she is using but her passion remains in the classroom with her students.  As a “teacherpreneur” she has taught her students new software, to learn how to learn, how to use the Wiki, and how to collaborate with other students more effectively.

Mrs. Davis has collaborated with Julie Lindsey, a teacher in Qatar, to form a global collaborative project they named Digi Teen.  Students all over the globe have come together studying digital citizenship by researching and posting their finding through two digital portals!  Along with Digi Teen the two teachers have also founded another project.  Flat Classroom Project is a project that lets students experience trends in information technology by writing reports with other students and creating videos.  She has even travelled with some of her students to the Middle East for a conference for the Flat Classroom Project.  Vickie Davis made a statement at the end of the video that stuck with me.  She said, “I believe this whole idea of turning school upside down and empowering students to share with one another.  If you can empower them you are just going to have a better classroom.”

Lance Wilkinson: The Networked Student

The educational theory and practice known as Connectivism puts emphasis on networking and interactive learning rather than on traditional educational mediums , lecture and readings. The Networked Student video (created by Wendy Drexler) also puts emphasis on the role of technology in the future of the educational field. The Thesis of the video claims that Connectivism is the way of the future for education. Furthermore, the video reassesses the role of the teacher as a guide for the learning process.

The example student in the video was shown to have taken very well to Connectivism. The student networked with other students studying his subject of interest, subscribed to Podcasts to watch classes around the world, and started blogging to discuss subjectively his area of interests with other students, as well as muse on his subject in his personal blog. It is argued in the video that this is the way of the future for education. The student only went to class three days a week and didn’t even have a book!

Connectivism will definitely be a major aspect of the educational field in the future. What a wonderful resource the internet and technology are! However, putting too much emphasis on networking can either take away or dramatically add to the academic discipline being studied. The video assumes every student will do what is necessary to be a self-learner and take the time and effort to network. In the school system today, some students refuse to even do short reading assignments. Therefore it is impossible to assume every student will actively participate in Connectivism. However, this should not dissuade anyone from the value of Connectivism. I believe the ideal is to continue our push towards Connectivism without completely throwing off lecture and readings. In this way students will both learn from valuable resources (books, academic articles, journals), and network what they’ve learned online; making Connectivism even more valuable. Students could refer each other to academic sources and books that they’ve read and discuss themes or ideas from these reading assignments. 

The video asked: “In the future, why even have a teacher?”. The video argues that the teachers role is to be a guide for networking. This is a crucial element of our educational system because networking is such a major part of our modern society. I believe the teachers role is to actively participate in the learning process by lecturing and assigning relevant readings, but also to encourage networking and Connectivism. In this way our future students will be competent, educated, networking individuals.