Friday, September 27, 2013

C4K September


one: emy k. 9/15: "This I Believe"

For her "This I Believe" essay, Emy K chose to write about bullying. Emy K was brave enough to share her personal experience with bullying in her school and the consequences that ensued. Incorporating her own research, Emy K provided an excellent stand against bullying in her blog post. See the post here.

two: Blake 9/22: "Favourite Sport"

Blake is a fifth year student in Australia. His post pertained to sports. He asked his readers to comment with their favorite sport. He said his is "AFL" which stands for the Australian Football League, or soccer in America. See his post here.

three: Sohel 9/29 "youth town"

Sohel is also a fifth year student, but he lives in Auckland New Zealand (which is a really cool place that i would LOVE to visit). In his post, he relayed the events of a class visit to "youth town" in which students swam or played games. He painted three pictures of sharks and had "morning tea". See his post here.

four: Ayla 9/30 "How Much Does the Sky Weigh?"

Ayla is a sixth grader a little ways north of Mobile in Robertsdale, Alabama. She gave an excellent description of how heavy the sky is and an explanation concerning how it doesn't crush us all. My favorite part was her comparison of "5 million billion tons" (the weight of the sky) to "about 570,000,000,000,000 adult Indian elephants". See her post here.

Blog Post #6?


Ben Johnson suggests that we pose an effective, meaningful question, pause three seconds, then call on a student to answer in his article The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom. This eliminates the attention-void which follows most questions that teachers ask either to specific students or an uninterested class. According to Mr. Johnson, students are aware of their academic expectations among their peers as early as fourth grade. This means that whenever a question is asked during class the kids labeled as "smart" will be eager to answer while the remainder of the class avoids eye contact with the teacher and hopes they are not called upon. Mr. Johnson suggests that with a proper lesson plan, students will inadvertently become more mentally involved in questioning if you follow the formula: question + 3 second pause + call on a student = happy teacher, interested students .

Asking the class a question is really like asking a witness a question in court. Only ask one question at a time. Avoid asking open-ended questions--but if you must, immediately follow with a close ended question. Allow time for several dramatic (and often exhausting, student-wise) pauses. Ask specific questions. I would add (and this wouldn't apply in the courtroom of course): don't save all of your questions for one time. Nothing was ever more boring to me as a student than a teacher dividing the class time into three equally painful segments: introduction, lecture, "do you understand? any further questions?". The Teaching Center of the Washington University in St. Louis provides an excellent checklist for teachers concerning questions-asking. This resource covers general strategies, responses to student answers, and (of course) Bloom's taxonomy.

Joanne Chesley made a great example in her video Asking Better Questions in the Classroom. She posed: "Do you believe the course of the Civil Rights Movement would have changed if Rosa Parks had given up her seat to a white man?"(which can easily be answered with YES or NO)against: "What do you believe the consequences would have been to the Civil Rights Movement if Mrs. Parks had given up her seat?"

From personal experience, I found the most effective question to be: "Do you think so?". I had an English Literature teacher my senior year that asked us this frequently. It required us to reexamine our interpretation of the text and produce new justifications for our statement. The "Why" was implied by her resignation to state: "Yes, that's right" or "No, that's wrong". This also promoted discussion among the class. If individuals disagreed, they were given the opportunity to discuss their reasons for thinking one way or the other. This provided an excellent classroom environment inspired by discussion and a deeper understanding of the text.
Question Mark

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Project #3 Presentation

C4T1 (project #4)

Project Four #1

"World Language Students Are Poppleting"

courtesy of Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches Blog
C4T#1, comment one

In her latest blog post, Ms. Tolisano elucidates the use of the device "Popplet" in a foreign language class. Popplet is basically the high-tech version of pen and paper graphs. Students were encouraged to, in this particular case, to build a “web based mind map” of Portuguese words relating to health and illness. Tolisano repeatedly mentions the use of Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR Model which consists of a series of steps: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition as a means of standardization of this technology. Substitution is a relevant step in this process as students no longer have to depend on pen and paper to create these graphs. Students were allowed to create their mind maps any way they please—some building linear maps, others arranged circularly—all varying in the ways the content was connected. The huge advantage of this application of Popplet is its ease of organization; instead of having to start over or erase considerably to move or rearrange (what we all struggled with in the pen and paper days) Popplet allows students to simply click and drag to reorganize, thus satisfying Puentedura’s “Augmentation” stage. For the “Modification” stage, Tolisano’s students were able to add images and videos to their work. However, Tolisano does mention a copyright concern while using the program which, unfortunately, is still unresolved. By posting their blogs for everyone to see, the students enter the “Redefinition” stage as a previously inconceivable task is achieved. My comment, though it never appeared on her blog, consisted of thanking Ms. Tolisano for introducing me to "Popplet" (as I had never heard of it before) and for her thorough explanation of the program itself. I further thanked her for mentioning the "SAMR model" as a relative rubric to follow when executing a new teaching technique.

"Thinking Differently about Learning- Bringing in an Expert"

courtesy of Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches Blog
C4T#1, comment two
In this blog post, Ms. Tolisano explores the benefits of using Skype conferences to expand the knowledge of her 7th grade students who are currently creating a story line. By consulting an authority on the topic, students were able to practice professionalism, internet courtesy as well as gain expertise in a more engaging and more personable way than by consulting a reference book. To reinforce the effect of the conference-call, Ms. Tolisano asked her students to answer questions on the school blog for homework, which also provides her with an excellent outlet for feedback. Ms. Tolisano posted portions of a few comments in her blog post. It seemed that most students agreed that having a Skype call with a professional was more beneficial than consulting a reference book and the students were able to learn more specifically about their project. Tolisano leaves her readers with these encouraging questions: "I am asking YOU the same questions than we asked the students. How have you, as an educator, taken learning off the pages of a book by bringing in “experts” via video conferencing? What are some other opportunities in school, when bringing in an “expert” via Skype could help students learn?". In my comment to Ms. Tolisano, I appreciated her willingness to share this technique with the world through the web. I told her that I found her follow-up blog post particularly brilliant as it reinforces the knowledge her students gained while providing a useful outlet for their feedback.
Skype logo

Blog Post #4

Why Podcast?

“1st Graders Create Their Own Read-along Audiobook”

Magic Tree House
I am in no way ashamed to say that I grinned like a first grader when I saw the words “Magic Tree House” mentioned in this blog. Since I can remember, I have been following Jack and Annie’s adventures through space and time and have always enjoyed them. It follows then, that I found Ms. Tolisano’s podcast project mentioned in her blog post “1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook” instantly engaging. By allowing her students to read aloud the script to Dinosaurs Before Dark and incorporate sound effects with the use of “garageband”, Ms. Tolisano has created a new way to engage students in the magic of reading. Ms. Tolisano's assignment appears to be both a successful learning tool as well as incorporation of technology into the literary world.

“Podcasting with First Grade”

After reading the post “1st Graders Create Their Own Read-Along Audiobook” , I was further amazed when I clicked on a link which brought me to a previous post entitled “Podcasting with First Grade” that was written nearly two years prior. In this post, Ms. Tolisano discusses the process and results of having her first grade class read Mary Pope Osbourne’s Vacation with Volcanoes and cumulatively create a script for a class podcast. The effects of this project are multifaceted: shy students are given the opportunity to voice themselves without a large and leering audience, all students are prompted to better reading comprehension skills, students are thrilled to have their work share globally which creates a wonder incentive for students to try their very best. Needless to say, I was astounded by how beneficial this project proved to be and have every intention of using it in my own classroom. Again, Ms. Tolisano mentions the students’ enthusiasm to use “Garageband” (and who can blame them?) as a useful incentive within this project.

“Flat Stanley Podcast”

Flat Stanley
In this assignment, Ms. Tolisano took a popular and fun elementary school assignment and made it technologically-friendly. Hopefully, all of us remember the joy that ensued when we received a package in the mail containing all sorts of evidence displaying the adventures our flat Stanleys had while they were afar. Ms. Tolisano surpasses the sort of assignment I was given in elementary school as she allows her students to consider what it was like to be Flat Stanley during his adventure. With this assignment, Ms. Tolisano is encouraging her students to learn a very important skill, in my field of English Literature anyway, of perspective. In creating the podcast, the students were expected to consider all of the different circumstances Flat Stanley experienced while being away—like the experience of being mailed, being opened, going on adventures, and being returned. This exercise taught me that even the traditional flat stanley assignment may be digitized.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blog Post #3

     Criticism--we all can dish it, though very few of us can take it (well). What we all must come to realize is that it is a necessary evil. Effective criticism does not condescend or crush self esteem but it also avoids inflating a sense of accomplishment in a mediocre work. So where exactly are we to draw the line?
before you criticize anyone you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes
     Paige Ellis, in her Blog Post Assignment 12 comments on a pressing matter of constructive criticism-the appropriate way to offer it. In some cases, it seems socially acceptable to critique a person's speech or spelling face to face without sounding like a jerk or a loser so why should the internet sector be any different? I think that unspoken rule of which we somehow all know should apply to the internet as well: if you wouldn't say it to his or her face publicly, then don't post it on the internet publicly. This rule of thumb should insure that criticism stays constructive (and not derogatory) and holds both the commentator and the original author publicly accountable for the words they use. However, it seems a more private approach may be necessary if the critique is arguable; this happens mostly when the critique is based on content (like a religious view, or perhaps a political topic) rather than something technical (like the proper use of the word "your" vs. "you're" which may easily be referenced). Unfortunately, there is no official guide that delegates exactly when to approach a person with criticism privately or publicly-you just have to learn it yourself.
     Both the video Peer Editing and the slideshow Peer Edit with Perfection! Tutorial offer great definitions and advice on how to peer review effectively. My only critique (haha) of their similar steps is the "3 compliments" rule. If I read an article and I love every sentence, I want to be the first to let the author know every little reason why I loved every sentence. So I would give three compliments as a bare minimum. Otherwise, I think that both the video and the slideshow provide an excellent starting point upon which you may build your own method of critiquing.
     The last assigned video, I think, took the cake. Not only is it completely adorable, but the video Writing Peer Review (Peer Critique) Top 10 Mistakes exemplifies every which way peer reviewing can (and, unfortunately, will) go wrong. The video covers everything from Defensive Dave (the guy who thinks that you're attacking much more than his sentence structure) to Picky Patty (the gal who combs through your work to find every little flaw). If I had to recommend any video on peer reviewing, it would certainly be this one.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blog Post #2

"Mr. Dancealot"

“Mr.Dancealot” is an exemplary video concerning how many teachers in today’s society present facts and/or opinions while expecting the student to take notes, study, and regurgitate what the student “learned” in class. The problem with this form of education is that the students never actually retain what is taught. Even if the students are not necessarily kinesthetic learners, when the subject matter is an activity it follows that the subject must be, well, acted. This is applicable to any field of education. You cannot expect a student to learn math without making his or her own calculations, learn science without experimentation, or learn composition without writing. Just as a coach would never put a player up to pitch at a baseball game without first practicing to throw, a student in a classroom cannot learn without practice. The video was a great example of what not to do in a classroom. In order for students to succeed, practice is essential.

"Teaching in the 21st Century"

The reality of the matter is that since 1990 we have all been connected. From the glorious invention of the internet spiraled a sociological revolution unparalleled in history. Kevin Roberts provides a suggestive explanation for old-fashioned teachers in a high-tech, tumultuous world in his video “Teaching 21st Century Students”. By evaluating the positive uses of technology in education and confronting the fears that most educators hold, Roberts provides an optimistic and encouraging emphasis on the way that technology can and will change education in the near future.

It is impossible for technology to be eliminated from society. Considering this, Roberts highlights a very real and very pressing fear: since our students are utilizing technology that we have not taught, they are doing so at their own risk . The internet is a wonderful tool, if used wisely. Without being educated on the harmful ways of “pirating, plagiarism, slander, copyright, [and] crowdsourcing”, students are likely to cause harm to themselves and potentially others while attempting to operate with good intentions. Roberts makes it explicit that teachers have the ability to eradicate this harm from their students; I will go even further and says that we hold the responsibility to.

A further concern of educators today is the misuse of technology in the classroom as entertainment instead of a conduit of knowledge. Roberts easily defies this by arguing that “the tools provide temptation, but they are not the source of negative behavior”. He emphasizes that the purpose of education is to engage the students and not entertain them. I agree completely. Without an effort by the students, genuine learning is impossible. So how do we encourage students to make that effort? Easy—we engage them.

Roberts also emphasizes the more positive attributes of technology. The term “create” has been completely redefined through “blogging, podcasting, animating, planning, recording, designing, [and] programming”. Physical distance is insignificant since the creation of webcams, blogs, and even search engines—all of which vastly broaden the scope of what we are able to teach. Roberts advocates that we must “teach students how to…validate information, synthesize information, leverage information, communicate information, collaborate with information, [and] problem solve with information.” The wonderful part is that all the information is already out there for our students to explore.

"The Networked Student"

courtesy of Caitlin Hinton

In the video “The Networked Student,” we are given a glimpse of what education is evolving into. Education is increasingly becoming more of web based as opposed to lecture based. In the video we are introduced to the idea of connectivism. Connectivism promotes that learning occurs as part of a social network composed of many diverse connections and ties. The important aspect of connectivism is the connections that can be made possible through this type of learning.

There are endless possibilities, when it comes to connectivism. In this video I thought it was incredible that the student had access to lectures from some of the most renowned professors in the country. I feel that this video is a testament to all of the benefits of self-taught learning. Students these days have access to virtually anything they want to know and have the means to reach it right at their fingertips. I believe that this is where education is going. Education will become paperless and it will all be web based.

So what about the teacher? Does their job become obsolete? Absolutely not! The teacher will play a vital role in the connectivist classroom. While students have to ability to access all of this information, they still need someone to teach them how to gain access to this limitless information. The teacher becomes a helper when the student gets stuck. The teacher instructs the student to communicate properly, and discern between right and wrong information. The teacher becomes a resource and an aid for whatever the student may need. Although paper will become antiquated, the teacher will always have an important role to play in a student’s education.

"Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts"

courtesy of Ashley Railey

This video features Vicki Davis, a teacher in rural south Georgia, who is leading her students in a technology based class. She is expanding the students ability to learn through technology. One statement she makes that really stuck out is that she is focused on the students “learning how to learn.”She also speaks of the empowerment the students feel when they figure out something own their own, and that they often teach her new things as well. The students experience a hands-on type learning, giving them the ability to retain the knowledge they gain in the classroom. They work alongside students around the world by using Wiki Teen, which is described as a global collaborative project which allow the students to post their assignments and connect with other teachers and students through blogging.

This is an incredible advancement in the modern classroom. Much different than the pen and paper style teaching I experienced in high school 10 years ago. It gives a much broader approach to learning so that each student can work at his/her own pace. If this is the future of education, then I see a much brighter future for our culture as a whole.