Sunday, November 24, 2013

C4K Summary for November

1st C4K

Candy Corn

In my first C4K of November I was assigned to a student named Alexander. Alexander is a student in Mrs. Horst 7th grade language arts class in Ontario, Canada. This blog post was about candy. Alexander likes all kinds of candy, but candy corn is his/her favorite. Alexander asked the readers what their favorite candy is, and what they were being for halloween.

In my comment I began by introducing myself. I also provided links to the EDM 310 blog and my blog. I explained that I love candy too, and my favorite candy is Sour Patch Kids gummies. I explained that I was the candy giver at my parent's house so I didn't dress up for Halloween, but I did dress up as Captain America at a halloween party I went to. Alexander did a good job with their blog post so I told him/her to keep up the good work.

2nd C4K

Martin Luther King Jr.

In my second C4K I was assigned to a student named Alexandria. Alexandria is a year 8 student in Auckland, New Zealand. Alexandria's blog post was a reflection of a project she had done with two other classmates. She included the project in the post. It was a rap they had made about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the reflection she explained how they had learned a lot about Martin Luther King Jr in doing the project.

In my comment I introduced myself and provided the links like I usually do. I let Alexandria know that I enjoyed the rap her group made about Martin Luther King Jr. I explained that I am from Alabama so I'm very familiar with Martin Luther King Jr. and the sacrifice he made for equal rights. I am also a fan of hip-hop music and explained to Alexandria that my favorite artist is LeCrae. I explained that LeCrae actually lives in Atlanta, Georgia where Martin Luther King Jr. was from. Also, LeCrae discusses Martin Luther King Jr. in a lot of his music.

3rd C4K

Toy Giraffe

In my 3rd and final C4K I was assigned to Losehina's blog. In this blog Losehina was simply posting a "I can animate" video. The video was of a toy giraffe. In the video Losehina made it look like the giraffe was actually walking.

In my comment I introduced myself and let Losehina know that I was impressed with her video. I also told her that I have never used vimeo to make a movie before, but I will have to check it out. I was impressed with her movie skills and I concluded my post by telling her to keep up the great work.

PLN Project #2: Final Report

My Symbaloo

I am pleased with the way my Personal Learning Network has grown over the course of this semester. I'm still enjoying Symbaloo. I've added a few new tiles to my Symbaloo home page. Mainly it's been blogs that I've enjoyed from my C4T assignments. Also, Twitter is still my favorite tool for networking with fellow teachers. I've followed some teachers who are always sharing interesting links. I've also followed a few of my peers that are majoring in Education. I've recently come into contact with one of my old history teachers from high school and he does not have a twitter account, but he does have a Facebook account, so I continue to use Facebook some as a part of my network. I want to continue to expand my PLN, and I know that I will. It's a pleasure connecting with fellow educators and discussing ideas. Networking is helpful in any profession, but in Education it is mandatory.

C4T #4

Rock with gratitude written on it

For my fourth and final C4T I was assigned to Dean Shareski.

First Post

In the first post I commented on, Dean was discussing a issue where a school in Vancouver banned students from touching each other. At first Dean, and many others, thought this was a school overreacting. Interested to learn more, Dean looked into the matter and found a video where the school officials explained their stance. The school didn't really ban touching, they were concerned with recess getting out of control with rough play so they were simply dialing recess down and teaching the students the proper way to play. However, some parents were outraged and running with the story. Dean points out that it's interesting that the parents went to the media with their outrage instead of going to the school. If they would have simply gone to the school first they would have discovered the schools reasoning for doing this. Ultimately, we see the importance of hearing both sides of a story before jumping to conclusions.

In my comment I introduced myself and included a link to the class blog. I also included a link to my personal blog. I explained to Dean that I too am guilty of jumping to conclusions before hearing both sides of the story. Making a conscious effort to listen to both sides of the story is important and it prevents unnecessary issues from arising. I finished my comment by letting Dean know that I agreed with him, if the angry parents would have went to the school and discussed the issue there first this would have never became a issue.

Second Post

In the second post, Dean was simply discussing the importance of showing gratitude. He believes school's today aren't keen on showing gratitude. After all, it's hard to always show gratitude. It's human nature to take things for granted at times, but can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was genuinely thankful. Dean explains that if we make a conscious effort to show gratitude we will see the culture around us change.

I agreed with everything Dean said. I took time before responding and thought about how I feel when someone shows gratitude for me. It's a great feeling that I can't really explain, but I know it feels amazing when someone is genuinely thankful for something I did. I let Dean know that I was thankful for his blog post. I told him that I would join him in making a conscious effort in showing gratitude. I felt motivated by his blog post and I am sincerely thankful for reading it. I plan on keeping up with his blog after this class.

Blog Post #14

What Did I Leave Out?

Watch this video about Ananth Pai and discuss how you can use video games in your classroom. Do you think video games are a beneficial tool for learning?
Ananth Pai Video

PSP Handheld Video Game

Ananth Pai is using video games in his elementary classroom and he is seeing results. His students are improving in every area of learning. He's using games that are explicitly for learning and his children are still engaged. From computer games to Nintendo DS games, he's using a wide variety. As a future 9th grade History teacher I often think about how I could use video games in the classroom as a learning tool. The key question I have is, would 14 and 15 year olds be engaged in a video game? I believe they would, but it would be important to have video games that would be age appropriate. As I've mentioned in my blog earlier this semester, I believe games like Sid Meier's Civilization would be a great game for History teachers to use. There are multiple Civilization games available, and most are available for download on the app store for the iPad. The game would give students the opportunity to establish and lead a civilization from the beginning to the space age. Students would learn more about war, diplomacy, inventions, and individual great leaders from the past.

There are other games that could be beneficial in learning historical concepts as well, such as Assassin's Creed. It would be important to make sure the games are age appropriate, but I think video games can be a great asset in the classroom. I don't plan to go as far as Ananth Pai, but I will definitely try to implement some video games into a few of my lessons.

Project #12 Part B

Presented by Degas

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog Post #13

Arvind Gupta: Turning Trash Into Toys For Learning by Wesley Etheridge

Alvin Gupta
In the video, Turning Trash Into Toys for Learning, Arvind Gupta discusses how imagination can turn the simplest toys into learning tools. Gupta's story is interesting. He's went to school in India to become an engineer in the early 1970's. However, at the age of 24 he realized he wasn't born to make trucks. He found his passion when he joined a village science program. In the small village he moved to, he realized he enjoyed creating toys much more than creating trucks.

Gupta enjoyed taking trash and making toys out of it. One of his first creations was simply made of cycle valve tube with sticks inside. This created all kinds of shapes. With this simple "toy" he was able to teach children about angles and shapes, but the greatest part about this toy according to Arvind Gupta was its flimsiness. This allowed the students to use their imagination and creative abilities to experiment with all sorts of shapes and sizes. For example, the children could create little houses with these shapes. Every one of Arvind Gupta's toys were interesting to me, but the one that interested me the most was the motor he made from a 5cent battery. Imagination is a key for learning anything and Gupta's toys enhance every students imagination.

It was great to see how trash could be used to teach. I love the way Gupta feels about students breaking toys. He says, "The best thing a child can do with a toy is break it." Gupta shows that the only thing that can limit our teaching is lack of imagination. Also, his experiences show that children can learn on their own through just about anything. There's no doubt that Gupta is a firm believer of project based learning, and after his personal experiences how can you blame him. I agree with Gupta, imagination can lead to unlimited learning.

Shane Koyczan: To This Day...for the bullied and beautiful by Erin Crane

Shane Koyczan I honestly cannot describe Shane Koyczan’s poetry video about being bullied. The way he used his poetry to perfectly convey what kids go through in schools was breathtaking. Shane started off talking about the way his decisions would get shot down as a kid. Decisions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “What do you want to make of yourself?”. He would answer honestly and be told he either could not do it or needed to aim higher. They didn’t want to know what he wanted to be, they wanted to tell him what not to be!

He moved on to talk about the titles and nicknames he was labeled by his peers. Some purposely hurtful, some not. Children don’t always see that the words they use hurt other people (adults have this problem too). He talked about how the name “porkchop” leaves him no longer able to eat the food, and another little girl called dog for her early childhood still doesn’t see herself as beautiful. Words are scarring.

He started bringing in the way he kept self-motivated after these things. A boy adamant on calling him “Yogi Bear” demanded he do his homework. Shane did it, but with all incorrect answers. The boy was confused as to why he received a 0 on the paper that Shane got a 28/30 on. Shane responded with “smarter than the average bear…”! He used his brains to outsmart them. A great example to fight violence with nonviolence.

Listening to him go through his bullying trials in school, turning it into poetry, I was shown a boy who made his bad circumstances into greatness. He chose to take those experiences and use them to better himself. This gave me insight into how “just words” can truly affect people’s lives and ways that I hope, as a teacher, I can help students to shape it into something beneficial.

Jose Antonio Abreu: The El Sistema Music Revolution by Lance Wilkinson

Jose Antonio Abreu In his TED Talks presentation, Jose Antonio Abreu shares a powerful message on how Music can invigorate the lives of students and instill a desire to learn and succeed within them. Most of Mr. Abreu’s opinions on how Music should be instilled in students’ lives applies to general education as well. Mr. Abreu is the founder of the El Sistema Music Revolution, a Youth Orchestra program in Venezuela. This orchestra program instills a passion for music in students of all economic backgrounds, taking care to make sure every student that applies himself or herself has the same accessibility to perform as any other student.

A key aspect of the El Sistema program is that everyone’s dreams should be realized. By showing students that they have a chance to do great things, the El Sistema program invigorates their lives with a desire to succeed and learn. At first, the El Sistema program did not have an excess of supplies; however, limited resources does not mean that standards should be limited. By belief in his students, Mr. Abreu and his students developed the El Sistema program into one of the greatest Youth Orchestra programs in the world.

Funding for Fine Arts is always at risk. Mr. Abreu promotes the opinion that Musical training develops not only self-confidence and inspires purpose, but also teaches interdependence and cooperation. These are 21st century skills that not only apply to Music, but to Education in general as well. Mr. Abreu also emphasizes that everyone should have access to Musical programs; not just the elite. This concept applies to Education as well. Every student deserves a quality education, not just those who are privileged enough to have one.

Mr. Abreu showed that the El Sistema program affected individuals at Personal, Familial, and Community-Based levels. An engaging Education program should also reach students at each of these levels. Mr. Abreu stated: “The worst thing about poverty is the lack of identification.” Engaging Music and Educational programs give these students the confidence and skills they need to identify themselves. Finally, as Mr. Abreu stated, Music and Education should be put at the service of society. A good Educational or Music program can change a student’s life. As Mr. Abreu said, and this statement can be applied to a good Educational program as well: “The spirit of music overcomes the spirit of material poverty.”

Project #12 Part A: Smart Board Tools

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project #15 Project Based Learning Plan #3

Lesson Plan #3 Created by Wesley Etheridge for Project #15

This lesson plan addresses objective 9.17.1 of the Alabama State Objectives. This lesson plan is intended to increase historical knowledge through technology. It's concerned with migration and the impact(s) migration has had on the U.S., and the world. After this project students will be more familiar with iPads, MacBooks, online research, and iMovie. Students will also learn collaboration skills. This lesson plan is for 9th grade students taking U.S. History or World History: 1500 to the Present.

Blog Post #12

Degas Collaborative Blog Post: What Can We Learn From Ken Robinson?

Changing Education Paradigms

The Book Break Point and Beyond by: George Land and Beth Jarman

In the first video Ken Robinson opened our eyes to the injustice that is taking place thanks to the current system of education. Ken states that todays education system was designed for another time period. The current education system was created in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and in the economic circumstances of the industrial revolution and you can see evidence of it through every aspect of the system. Schools are like factory lines. Ringing bells have conditioned students to know when to change class, schools have separate sections for each individual subject, and students are classified by their age instead of their academic level. A result of the system is we have "smart" people and "non smart" people, or at least thats how people are viewed. The consequence of this has been many brilliant people questioning their intelligence. ADHD has risen with the growth of standardized testing and Ken Robinson doesn't believe it's a coincidence. Sure some people may have ADHD, but is there really anything wrong with students being outgoing and energetic? We agree with Robinson that the issue is boring teaching. In the book Breakpoint and Beyond we see that the more a student is "educated" the more their capacity for divergent thinking decreases. If we really care about our students we have to change. Change may be scary, but it beats the burden of staying the same.

How to Escape Education's Death Valley

Death Valley National Park

In the second video we learn that Death Valley isn't dead, it's dormant. Underneath the surface there is potential. Ken Robinson gives us a tremendous amount of advice that can lead American schools out of the "Death Valley" they are currently in. The three things that are important for human flourishing are the keys to improving the culture of education. The first thing is we must remember that human beings are naturally different and diverse. Ken Robinson is quick to point out that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is irony at it's best. Education under NCLB is based on conformity when it should be based on diversity. Students are diverse and they prosper best under a broad curriculum. The second thing that is important is curiosity. Our job as teachers is really easy if we can spark curiosity. Once curiosity is sparked children are natural learners. Great teachers mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage their students. Ultimately, education is about learning. The whole point of being a teacher is getting students to learn. If our future students don't learn it's our fault. In our current culture, teachers are more concerned with test results than curiosity. Testing has a role in education, but it shouldn't dominate education. The infatuation with test results could be the biggest problem with our current system of education. The third key to human flourishing is creativity. Human life is inherently creative. Imagination and creativity is a unique trait of human beings. It's our role as educators to awaken these powers in our students. The problem is in our current culture of education students are becoming standardized. Everyone of us who will become teachers has the ability to change this culture of education. The question is do we care? If we do care about our students we will break away from the current system.

How Schools Kill Creativity

Creativity of the human mind

In the final video Ken Robinson discusses some issues he has with the current culture of education dealing with student's creativity. Robinson states that creativity is just as important as literacy. The problem is schools are instilling fear in students. Students are so afraid of being wrong that they get in a quite bubble. People who are afraid of being wrong will never come up with anything original. Children naturally aren't frightened of being wrong, but after years of schooling this capacity is diminished. We have to change this by creating an atmosphere where students can be who they are. Sir Ken Robinson also asks why certain subjects (like Math) are treated with higher regard than others (like dance). Not every student is going to be a college professor. Intelligence is diverse, dynamic, and distinct. In todays society a degree in a popular course of study doesn't equate to a job anymore. We must rethink the way we educate. We must consider the whole being of a student, not just certain areas.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Project #10 Interview

This is my interview with Justin McNellage of Saraland High. Justin is a first year teacher. He's currently teaching 9th and 10th grade English. He also does yearbook for Saraland.

Monday, November 4, 2013

C4K Summary for October

1st C4K

In my first C4K assignment of October I was assigned to Garrett's blog. Garrett is a student in Mr. Rhodus' sixth grade class. The title of his blog was How Much does the Sky Weigh? Garrett explained that the sky weighs 1 million billion pounds. He explained that air pressure doesn't crush us or push us down because the air moves evenly.

In my comment I introduced myself and provided a link to my blog, and the class blog as well. I explained to Garrett that he taught me something I didn't know. Garrett did a great job with his blog overall and I was glad to have the opportunity to comment on it.

2nd C4K

The second C4K I was assigned to in October was Mara Pickle's. In her blog post she revealed that she was excited about the current book she's reading in her class. She stated that she didn't want to stop reading. A fellow student even commented on it and they both shared the same excitement.

It was clear to see that Mara enjoyed blogging and reading. I introduced myself and explained that I love reading a good book as well. I told Mara to keep up the good work.

3rd C4K

In the 3rd C4K of October I commented on Vincenzo's blog post. He is a student in Mrs. Hartooni's class. In this blog post he was simply sharing a few interesting things that most people do not know. The first thing he shared was that fish have more water in them than humans do. The second thing that Vincenzo shared was that scientists are actually saying that it's healthier to not make up your bed.

In my comment to Vincenzo I introduced myself and included a link to my blog and our class blog. I explained to him that I did not know those things. I let him know that I was going to use what he shared as an excuse to not make up bed. Also, I let him know that he did a good job with his post and that he needs to keep up the good work.

4th C4K

In my fourth and final C4K of October I commented on a student's blog post who simply went by the handle of A. A's blog post was about their hero. A's hero was their mom. The student even compared their mother to a superhero.

In my comment I introduced myself and explained that I'm currently going to school to become a teacher. I told A that my mother was one of my hero's too. I told A to keep up the good work and to let his/her mother know that they are loved.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

C4T #3

Map of Arabian Peninsula

I was assigned to Hadley Ferguson for my 3rd set of C4T's. She teaches 7th and 8th grade History.

First Comment:

In my first post Ms. Ferguson explained that she had to rewrite a lesson plan due to her students not being as engaged as she hoped. She gave them freedom to do whatever they wanted in learning about life in the Arabian peninsula before Muhammed in 570 AD. She thought that they would be interested in this due to being in groups and having the freedom to use whatever tool they wanted to learn about the area. Surprisingly her first class simply did enough to get by. Ms. Ferguson was disappointed, but she took the responsibility on herself. She wasn't going to allow that disappointment to keep her from her job though. Instead of wallowing in her disappointment, Ms. Ferguson decided to change her plan. She had experienced this before in students and knew it was her responsibility to provide a good hook that would get her students engaged. She re-wrote her lesson plan and added a kick-off activity where she showed her students images of the Arabian peninsula and this did the trick.

In my comment I began by introducing myself. I provided a link to our class blog and my blog. I told Ms. Ferguson that I was currently learning about Project Based Learning. I let her know that I was impressed with her humility in taking responsibility for her students not getting hooked with her first lesson plan. I came away from her first blog post realizing that it's okay to make mistakes, mistakes provide an opportunity to learn.

Second Comment:

In the second blog post of Ms. Hadley Ferguson's that I commented on she was discussing a new book she had read titled Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student Centered Classroom by Mark Barnes. The book really had her addicted to being the best teacher she can be. She throughout her lesson plan because she knew she can make it better. She had started off the year with two great plans for her 7th and 8th grade classes. These plans would introduce Project Based Learning to her students. The problem arose when she moved on to her next plan, Ms. Hadley felt that she had became complacent. However, after reading Mark Barnes book she was addicted to being the best teacher she could be. She re-wrote her lesson plans that would connect the students to the material.

I was blown away by Ms. Ferguson's dedication to being the best she could be. In my comment I let her know that I was impressed with her work ethic. I now want to give Mark Barnes book a read. It can sometimes be hard to fight against complacency and any book that helps you fight against it is worth reading. I was encouraged by Ms. Ferguson and the way she showed that it's never too late to change your lesson plan or teaching methods. I'm thankful that I was assigned to Ms. Hadley Ferguson for my 3rd C4T's. I learned a lot from her.

Blog Post #11

Kathy Cassidy Summary

iPad on top of paper notebooks

The students in Kathy Cassidy's class are engaged in learning and it's due to the use of technology. Kathy uses a wide variety of technology from blogging to video gaming devices in the classroom. It's surprising because Kathy admits that she hasn't always been a technologically savvy person. In fact, Kathy just recently got a Facebook account. However, Kathy understands the importance of technology in the present world and states that technology isn't going away any time soon so we might as well use it. She is always learning new things and is open to applying these things in her classroom.

Ms. Cassidy teaches first grade and other elementary grade levels in Moose Port, Canada. At her school it seems like Kathy is a trail blazer in utilizing technology in the classroom. Since she's been at her current school she's had multiple principals, but none of them have hindered her from using technological tools in the classroom. Ms. Cassidy is proof that no one's going to hinder you from using technology in your classroom. She's had principals who weren't technologically savvy at all and they still gave her the freedom to teach her class the way she wants. This is encouraging to me, because I've feared facing opposition for using technology in my future classroom. One of her fellow teachers is intrigued, and has started to use technology in their classroom as well.

I would love to use all of Ms. Cassidy's techniques in my classroom, but the one that stuck out the most was the use of video game devices. Ms. Cassidy's class used the Nintendo DS to help learn reading, problem solving, and sharing. Since I started taking EDM 310 one tool that I've been wanting to apply in my classroom is video gaming. I believe that video games are fun and are an easy way to get students engaged. One concern of using video games would be making sure the students are playing age appropriate games, but as the teacher it will be my job to make sure they are. There are minor concerns with every technological tool, but the good far out ways the bad in most instances.

Another technique that I will make sure to use in my future class will be blogging. Ms. Cassidy makes a great point, students want to have an audience and blogging gives them that. Cheating could be a problem as the student pointed out in the final video, but Ms. Cassidy states that it's our job as the teacher to ask creative questions to prevent this. Kathy is clear to point out that there's nothing wrong with collaborating though. Collaborating is a part of life. We all learn from one another and that shouldn't be seen as a problem.

Overall, the interview was great. Ms. Kathy Cassidy is doing some great things with her students. I have come away acknowledging that I don't have an excuse to not use technology in my future classroom. Kathy is proof that if you don't make excuses you can learn new things and help students in all areas of life.