Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blog Post #6

This weeks blog post is on personal learning networks or PLNs for short. What are PLN's you ask? Well a PLN is a network that you use to keep up with other learners or teachers, as well as where you keep your sources of learning. You can also store items that you use on a daily basis for shopping, videos, or music. PLNs are useful for teachers since you can collaborate with other teachers and professionals. They are also good for your students to use since they can organize all their websites and resources in one place. You can use different websites to create your PLN such as Symbaloo or Netvibes. I chose to use Symbaloo to create my PLN. In it I put some websites that I use on a regular basis as well as some other resources to try out.


Project #8 Book Trailer (Firebears The Rescue Team)

Book written by: Rhonda Gowler Greene
Book Illustrated by:Dan Andreasen

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog Post #5

What did I learn from the video conversations with Anthony Capps?

This week we were given seven videos to watch, which all consisted of different questions and answers of how to view education and use the tools available to you. All the videos assigned were conversations between Dr. Strange and a current EDM 310 student who is now a third grade teacher in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

In the first two videos Project Based Learning: Part 1and Project Based Learning: Part 2, Capps talks about what Project Based Learning (PBL) actually is and how he uses it in the classroom. Capps believes that to have PBL actually work in the classroom you need to have an authentic audience, student interest, community involvement, and the project needs to be driven by content. Every time Capps comes up with a PBL project he asks himself, "What kind of project can I create to give my students an opportunity to need to know the content I want them to know?" I believe this is a great question to ask yourself as a teacher, this makes you create meaningful projects that your students will have fun doing and look forward to.
An example of a PBL project Capps had his third grade class do, was write a letter to congress on if women should serve front lines in the military. His students researched important women in history who served military equivalence to prove their point of whether women should or shouldn't serve front lines. As a class, student's selected eight letters that they believed were the best out of the group and had them sent to congress. This project was a perfect example of the four aspects of PBL.

  • He had the students involved by allowing them to chose any woman in history they believed best fit their argument.
  • The students had an active audience that they were writing to.
    Project Based Learning
  • All the students were involved in choosing the letters that they wanted to represent their classroom.
  • The project was driven by content since the students had what they were trying to argue for or against and had to do research to back up their argument.

    Capps believes it is important that there is Democracy in the classroom and that children are able to revise and reflect on work they have done. I think this is a good idea because it allows students to argue, in a respectful way, for their grades and why they chose the answer they did. If the student is able to back up their answer with a viable explanation, then Capps might change their grade or count that as a correct answer as well. This is a very important skill for students to use since it allows for reasoning, problem solving, and being able to verbalize effectively. Students are also given the opportunity to improve on their work and make their next project even better when they hear the viewpoints and ideas of other students. When the students have worked hard on what they are learning and it has been presented in a way that is enjoyable, students are excited and proud to share their work with others.

    In ICurio, I learned that it is actually a search engine that has been filtered so that students can safely search the web on. There is a storage feature on ICurio that allows students to put what they believe is valuable information into folders to practice organization. Student work is immediately stored in case the student has to drop what they are doing to go to another class. This program also offers a directory feature which allows students to find people in history just by typing key words into the search engine.

    Discovery Education covered yet another way that children might gain knowledge and learn in the classroom through audio visual learning. This means that students can look up a topic that they are researching and find a video or maybe a podcast on their topic. This brings people from outside the classroom in the classroom to present their ideas, be it video or audio. Capps used the example of his students researching different flowers. The students were able to look up botanist's research on these flowers and learn more from these online videos than they were able to learn from a book. Dr. Strange gave a great example to back this up by saying that children learn more from videos and audio than writing and reading.

    In Don't Teach Tech-Use It, I learned that there is no need to teach students how to use technology. Children are familiar with technology and it really does not take them long to figure out how to use different programs.
    Baby using computer
    So instead of teaching technology, you just need to ease them into it slowly and they really figure out the rest on their own. Capps believes that you do not need to teach the technology to students, but instead build upon it. You can start out with a simple project that allows your student to use a program that you are wanting them to be familiar with. Later you can add another program, or allow your students to farther explore the program from the week before. Once your students have mastered this, you can have them put both of these skills together to build a bigger project. You have to remember to not just throw your students into a big project that involves many programs they are not familiar with. Be sure to do these projects yourself so that you are somewhat familiar with them and might be able to answer questions that arise. Remember, you are not always going to have all the answers, but it is okay, you can work with your students to solve these problems that might come up.

    In The Anthony-Strange list of Tips for Teachers Part 1, Dr. strange and Anthony Capps give students advice for their future teaching careers.
  • The first tip is to be interested in learning yourself. If you think that learning is over when you are done with school you are dead wrong. Learning is a life-long experience and as an educator you are going to be learning from your students everyday.
  • The second word of advice was to learn how to make work (teaching) into something that you enjoy. Teaching does not need to be a job where you put in your eight hours a day and then you are done. It needs to be something that you are constantly working to improve and make more enjoyable for yourself and your students.
    Tip Jar
  • The third piece of advice was that you want to have 100% engagement in your classroom. Now this number might seem like a unabtainable percentage, but it really is not. If you have content and projects that your students care about and find interesting and fun, then you are going to have students who want to learn and be engaged in what is going on.
  • Tip number four, you need to be flexible, creative, and be able to adapt to change. We all know that things come up, and the classroom is no different. Programs might not work properly, students might have trouble with directions, really the possibilities are endless.
  • Tip number five is to reflect on the projects or assignments that were done and find ways to make them better. You can always improve something or add to it to make it even better or help students get more out of the project.
  • The sixth and final tip was to have competition, pride, etc. between students. This helps to keep students engaged and makes them thrive to do the best they can do in the class.

    The seventh and final video that Dr. Strange provided was entitled Additional Thoughts About Lessons. In this video I learned that you need to think of your lesson plans as stack-able parts. The first big piece will be what you are trying to have your students know for the whole year. How many chapters are you going to cover, and are you going to cover everything in each chapter? Second, what skills are you wanting your students to get from each unit. What kind of projects and assignments are you going to have to help them master the objectives that you want them to? The third piece is based on what is learned within each week. Are you going to cover a chapter a week, what do you need to have done on an everyday basis to accomplish this goal? The final piece would be your daily lessons. This is what you are going to cover that day and how you present it to your students. Capps says that these four pieces are really all you need to help you build a good lesson. Any less it does not work, any more it becomes too much.
  • Sunday, February 9, 2014

    Project #3 Presentation

    Blog Post #4

    What do we need to know about questions?
    Asking questions is a key part of the classroom experience. When we ask questions that can be simply answered "yes or no", then we are not allowing students to think creatively or voice their opinions. We can also fall into the trap of asking questions and only calling on the same few students who always raise their hands to answer these questions. As an educator we need to try and keep every student engaged and keep them aware that they could be called on to answer a question at any time.

    In Ben Johnson's The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom, he supports this by giving an example of how students respond when any student could be called on. The teacher asks a question, pauses, then calls on a student to answer the question. Johnson says that "by doing this,all the students will automatically be thinking about an answer and only after another child's name is said will they sigh in relief because they were not chosen." This keeps all the students focused and paying attention because they want to know what the question is, and they want to get the answer right if called on. We need to keep our students from trying to place themselves into categories of "who is smart, who is not, and who doesn't care" as Johnson says. We need to keep students away from these preconceived notions and call on every student equally.(Every student should be involved!) This will help build confidence in students as well as keep them engaged and listening.

    It is also important that when we ask questions, that they are GOOD questions. In Asking Questions to Improve Learning on The Teaching Center, a few suggestions are given to help formulate and improve questions you ask in the classroom.

    Here are some key examples to follow when asking questions:

    Any Questions
  • Do not ask "leading questions", or an answer within a question
  • Make your questions specific
  • Ask another question after a "yes or no" question
  • Do not ask a question within a question
  • Ask "closed" and "open" ended questions
  • Allow students to formulate an answer to your question
  • Think of what you want to ask before teaching the subject

    Be sure to follow the rule that both The Teaching Center and Ben Johnson suggest using when asking your students questions. Allow your students to think about what they want to say before calling on anyone. If you ask a question first then pause, you have every students attention and have them thinking about how they are going to answer your question before you even call on anyone. By being prepared, asking well formulated questions, and asking your questions before calling on a student, you will keep students focused as well as help them get what they need out of your class.
  • C4T #1 Scott McLeod

    C4T #1 comment #1
    On Dangerously Irrelevant, Scott McLeod posts a video on his blog by the Relay GSE look for video entitled A Culture of Support. McLeod posts a response to this video written by Carol Burris. Burris goes on to explain what is going on in the classroom and gives her opinion on the teaching methods used. She says that the "wiggling fingers" are possibly distracting to the student trying to answer the question, and the tone of the teachers voice does not help matters. It is believed that the classroom is run similar to a military academy, with the teacher playing the role of drill sergeant. She believes that students are not given enough time to formulate their questions and come up with an adequate answer.
    Drill Sergeant

    My comments to the post were that the teacher did not have to have the tone of voice that she had. Her method of asking questions and rewording questions helped to allow the student to finally get the right answer though. I liked that even when the student was struggling with the question and got it wrong twice, she gave him another chance to get the answer right. The students all encouraged the other student by "wiggling their fingers",and the teacher did as well by allowing the student multiple opportunities to get the question right. I thought that some parents might not like this teaching method, but the fact that the class was well structured and the students knew what was expected of them might be of interest to parents. I believe that many parents would like that peer encouragement was a key part in the class, but would not like the tone of voice that the teacher used.

    If you would like to read more about what Carol Burris has to say read Is 'filling the pail' any way to train teachers?

    C4T #1 Comment #2
    This week on Scott McLeod's blog Dangerously Irrelevant post entitled, No wonder nobody wants to come, he mentions a short bit by Ina Socol. In this she gives the mindset of some teachers who are, for lack of a better word, scared of technology. Some teachers who are wanting to stay with the method of pencil and paper, make the suggestion of why students should even come to school if it is all about technology. These teachers are fine having students sit at desks and take handwritten notes out of a big book. Socol makes the suggestion that teachers need to get away from just using pencil and paper. They need to begin embracing technology for the benefit of their students and make learning more exciting.
    Welcome to the Future

    My response to this post was that I completely agreed with Socol. We need to use the tools that are available to us to benefit the students. Having students engaged and actually enjoying learning will help with absentee rates as well as disruptions in class. Having the mindset of "It worked for me, it will work for them to," puts your students at a disadvantage. Technology has changed so much over the years, and continues to change everyday. People have become accustomed to it and pretty much everyone uses some form of technology everyday. Denying students the use of technology in the classroom puts them further behind other students who are using technology in the classrooms. So, if technology is a beneficial aid, children are used to using it on a daily basis at home, and it will benefit your students in the future, then why wouldn't you use it?

    You can read more on what Socol had to say at SpeEdChange.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Blog Post #3

    Providing Meaningful Feedback to Your Peers

    Peer editing can be a touchy subject if not approached correctly. If done correctly it can benefit the author as well as the one editing the assignment. When approaching peer editing it is best to start out on a positive note, maybe a complement on the work, and then proceed to your editing. Saying things like, "this sentence does not make ANY sense!" could offend or discourage your fellow classmate. Instead you could tell your peer "try and reword this to say..." or just rewrite the sentence and add your changes to the sentence. Keep in mind that you need to be choosy with your words, but still manage to get your point across to help your peer reach their full writing potential. You also have to keep in mind where you put these corrections for your peer to read. If something might be embarrassing to your fellow peer, then approach them individually or shoot them an email telling them where they could improve or make changes. Treat your fellow peer the same way you would want to be treated!
    Treat others how you would want to be treated

    We also need to keep in mind that everyone does not have the same writing style. We can not be to picky and totally change what the writer is trying to say. You really want to make changes to spelling, grammatical errors, run-on sentences, and confusing sentences. Also when editing you do not want to be vague about where you think corrections need to be made. Be specific and be able to back-up what you say. Telling someone to change something in their writing just because you say so does not help your fellow peers confidence in your editing. Watch Writing Peer Reviews Top 10 Mistakes for more real life examples of what not to do when peer editing.