Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog #16

Part 1

I would like to start this final post off by describing my teaching style. I think to be an effective teacher communication has to be a core strength. I have worked on being a solid communicator most of my life, and I think that will shine through in my teaching. Communication is only part of my teaching style, a good mixture of fun and discipline are also part of the recipe. I want my teaching to always be fun and interesting, avoiding stagnant lapses that create opportunities for students to drift off into their personal dreamworld. One must hold the attention of students to keep motivation thriving and learning fresh. I think the best way to do that is to keep things fun. Also, and equally important, teachers must maintain a certain presence in the classroom. The presence must be one of respect, going both ways from student to teacher and teacher to student. Expecting respect from students and teaching with respect sets the stage for a great learning experience and teaching style.

So, lets get down to the nitty gritty and discuss how my students will learn. First and foremost my students will need to apply themselves to learn. I will always strive to put them in the best position to learn, but for one to truly learn something they must put forth effort and hard work. Honestly, I feel this fits perfectly with a project based learning teaching style. I wasn't very familiar with project based learning before this class, but I connected with it very quickly once introduced. I would love to teach in a project based learning atmosphere and have my students learn in this way. Being hands on and doing things yourself is an extremely effective way to learn something, and I wish I would have had the chance to be in that kind of curriculum when in high school.

Having the right tools in one's classroom is very important. I am going to be a high school science teacher, so utilizing the right tools can have a great impact on learning in my class. If science is a solar system, than questions have to be it's sun. The best tools to have in a science classroom have to be ones that supplement scientific questions. Having that in mind, tools like iCurio and Discovery Ed are a must. Sometimes I feel like a broken record with my constant endorsement of iCurio and Discover Ed, but they are such amazing tools for the classroom. Other tools like a SMART Board and Blogger can be great supplements to learning as well, and I definitely plan to incorporate them too.

I am very excited to start teaching, and to start learning in a new capacity as a teacher. Keeping open lines of communication with my students, making the material fun and maintaining respect between students and teacher sets up an ideal atmosphere for my classroom. I really hope to be in a position that allows my classroom to take on project based learning, because ultimately that's what I want my classroom to feature.

Comparison of ideas between beginning of semester and now

Beginning of semester
-Useful knowledge obtained not just memorized
-Have a good scientific knowledge base
-Being able to use all the classroom tools such as Flasks, Bunsen burner and weight scales
-Students being able to work on and accomplish problems through thinking and not heavily relying on me
-Being honest with my students and maintaining a comfortable learning atmosphere
-Displaying exemplary projects from other students
-Doing group work and having thought provoking discussions in the classroom

Now
-Obtained knowledge through multiple sources including me as a teacher, other fellow students and students from other classrooms around the world
-Having a scientific knowledge base that allows the student to think outside the box in many areas, not just science
-Being able to use scientific equipment (Bunsen burner, flasks, etc), but more importantly being able to use technological tools such as iCurio and Discovery Ed
-Promotion of critical thinking and mental toughness which will result in students' ability to problem solve on a high level
-Having open communication with students and creating an atmosphere of respect and accountability
-Displaying exemplary projects from other students to serve as motivation and as an example of hard work
-Using project based learning to achieve high levels of learning

Part 2



the end with snow falling around it and a city skyline in the background

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog #15

What assisted technologies are available to you as a teacher? By Ronald Griffin, Eric Merryman and Cameron Hall

Ronald Griffin

There are many great assistive technologies available for teachers. Two important aspects of assistive technology are understanding students’ disabilities and selecting the appropriate assistive technology that is available for those students. These two concepts go hand in hand. If a teacher has a solid grasp on the disabilities in his or her classroom, then selecting the right assistive technology becomes much easier. Also, having extensive knowledge on the available assistive technologies leads to accurate pairings between programs and students.

The first assistive technological program I would like to mention is JAWS screen reader. JAWS screen reader is a computer program that allows students with blindness to use a computer. The program reads text on a computer screen and allows for easy navigation on the computer. This program is perfect for any classroom that uses technology. Throughout this semester many educational technologies have been discussed, and it has become evident how some of these technologies can be a game changer in the classroom. Unfortunately, disabilities can sometimes hinder the use on all available technology. Programs like JAWS fill the void that certain disabilities create and enable disabled students to benefit from technology. A simple example would be iCurio. iCurio is an amazing resource for students to research specific topics and gain an abundance of knowledge. Now, insert JAWS and students who are suffering from blindness can immediately benefit from this great resource.

Many schools are now utilizing iPads for their students, so it makes sense to use application programs as a form of assistive technology. Dragon Dictation is a great application for students with little or no use of their hands. Just like Jaws, Dragon Dictation bridges the gap for students who are not able to use a computer without assistance. Dragon Dictation allows one to use their voice to type text on a computer. There are a lot of educational systems that use computer programs as an intricate part of the curriculum. Dragon Dictation is a great assistive technology that allows schools to integrate more computer related education.

Having a disability should never be a catalyst to second rate education. Using programs like JAWS and Dragon Dictation are good ways to put assistive technology to use. As a teacher, one should be aware and have a good understanding of the assistive technologies that are available. Having a solid knowledge of these things can be the difference between a disabled student getting the education they need and rightly deserve and being left out in the cold fighting with their disability.

JAWS screen reader packet


Eric Merryman

While trying to be a math teacher, I never realized that the blind would have the issue stated in this video from Professor Art Karshmer. He stated that blind students would have problems visualizing how to set up problems to solve, by unable to see how to line them up. Braille is unable to help as well because it doesn’t line up the problems in the proper way. My personal belief is that anyone can learn math if taught the right way, and in the case of blind students, the right way involves assistive technology.

Professor Art Karshmer in the video uses a talking computer with a matrix grid that has pieces that are registered as numbers. This reminds me of a digital talking chess board, similar layout, it says where you put the piece, just it is with flat pieces that have braille on them to say what number the piece is. This is rather ingenious, it is difficult to tell a blind person what to see on paper, but with assistive technology, it can help them see the concept of math that is on their paper.

Math-to-speech is an important tool for blind students and teachers of blind students alike. However it is limited, according to Design Science and Educational Testing Service. Does the speech of certain mathematical expressions, in the case of fractions, sound like one-third or one-over-three? Design Science and ETS are both working hard to improve on the tech, which is good, improvements can always be made. Making the lives easier for students that have a hard time learning is important. Everyone, no matter what disability they have, have the right to an education, and we as teachers must do what we can to make it possible.

Cameron Hall

In an English classroom setting, I feel that direct feedback about understanding is necessary to adapt to every student’s learning capabilities. Using the Mountbatten Braille Writer allows for this feedback in the classroom. It allows for both audio and tactile feedback which I think provides a wide range of ways for the teacher to efficiently meet the needs of that particular student. The program is very advanced, doing things a computer would and being a learning tool itself for those who do not know braille. I love this because it gives the student an opportunity to work in peer groups and not feel excluded or different from others in the classroom. For an English class, I think this could be a very useful tool for both me and the student. For the student, it gives them a way to be on the same accord with the rest of the class, not having separate less challenging work. For the teacher, I can understand the students needs a bit more and become a more efficient teacher for them.

I also came across the Special 2 Me blog. I really loved this blog because it really hit home for me. I have worked in a lot of low income, inner city schools. People sometimes seem to think that the students who attend these schools are only troublemakers who simply do not care about their education. Well I beg to differ. I love these students and they are the only ones who I would really want to work with. This blog talks about a fairly new teacher taking over a new classroom. She let her students set their physical boundaries and she respected their wishes. She was not scared of her students. She let them know who’s classroom it was and that she sets the tone and rules each and every time they walk in the door. With this attitude she was able to change one student who was starting to cause problems from the start. It seems like instead of walking into this inner city school thinking the kids it possesses are a problem, she walked in with an attitude knowing that they are students who want to learn like everyone else. In my own personal experience, some of these students just want to know that their teachers care.

School has become an outlet for some of the troublemaking students and with them maybe not having the proper support from home, we have to take on the role of supporter, parent, friend and teacher. I loved this blog because it shows us future first year teachers that we can not have attitudes about our students before we even meet them. Also that the classroom period is all about progress: progress of our students, of our classroom and importantly of ourselves as growing teachers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blog Post #14

What is "Understanding Science" and how can it be used as a educational resource? By Ronald Griffin

Understanding Science was started by the collaboration of the University of California at Berkeley, National Science Foundation, and a collection of scientists and teachers. This website was created to provide a free and fun understanding of science.
screenshot of understanding science website
This program has three main resources; Understanding Science 101, For Teachers, and Resource Library.

The first resource Understanding Science offers that I would like to talk about is Understanding Science 101. This resource is a complete overview of science and why it is important to learn. It goes over the basic principles of science interactively giving simple and interesting examples along the way. I can see this resource being helpful on several fronts. The first is tutoring. If a student is having problems understanding scientific concepts or processes, this would be a perfect fit. The other application is motivation. Many students (including myself), have a hard time learning if they don't understand why the material is important and how it fits into everyday life. Understanding Science 101 succeeds in relating fundamental concepts to everyday life and why they are important to learn.

The second resource is titled For Teachers. This resource provides many great ideas for science teachers. Some of the ideas range from lesson plans to teaching tips. Another great thing about this resource is that it is categorized by grade level. A 10th grade teacher has their own unique set of conceptual tips from say a 6th grade teacher. A section titled Misconceptions about science gives teachers a great reference on common problems students run into when studying science, and it offers solutions to these problems. One core value of teaching is to always be a learner yourself, this resource allows teachers to learn about their students and ways to reach them.

The third resource is titled Resource Library. This resource offers pictures, video, and a huge amount of information on a variety of scientific topics. Teachers and students alike can use this to supplement education. Teachers can use the content for lesson plans or labs, and students can use it to deepen their understanding of science in an interactive interesting way.

Overall, this program can help scientific information seem easy to students, while providing a large resource to teachers. Sometimes science can be a subject that is deemed "difficult" to understand, and that's why it is extremely important for science teachers to be equipped with every tool possible to educate students. I am definitely adding Understanding Science to my list of resources I will use once I become a teacher. Doing this will add another notch onto my educational tool belt, and also give my students another avenue to explore great scientific content.

Project #2: PLN Final Report

Ronald Griffin's PLN


Since my initial report on my PLN, I have made Symbaloo the homepage on my computer. I have added a number of titles to it making it a one stop page of resources for me. My Symbaloo is basically broken down into 3 categories; Educational, EDM310, and Personal. For the educational side of things I have added iCurio, Discovery Ed, Alabama Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education, Linkedin, Teachmeet, SAS Curriculum Pathway, Twitter, Symbaloo EDU, and Ted Talks. I have picked up most of these titles from assignments in EDM310, but have also gotten a few from different teacher blogs that I commented on. I feel like these are going to be the backbone of my PLN. They offer a wide range of resources for teaching, and also offer a lot of social opportunities to interact with other teachers. For the EDM310 portion I added YouTube, Blogger, and GMail. Several of the titles from the educational section also double in this section (Ted Talks, Twitter, iCurio, Discovery Ed). Having these titles together made it easier when doing assignments for the class. In the personal section I added Google, Weather (Symbaloo weather), eBay, Facebook, Translate (Symbaloo), Freep, Encyclopedia (Symbaloo), Netflix, and Yellow-Pages (Symbaloo). This has been a great section for regular everyday things I use/check, from an online news paper I read to checking the weather. Overall, Symbaloo has been a great addition for my PLN.

Project #12 Part B: Collaborative Lesson

C4K November

Faaao's "M Most Memorable Time At Pt England School !"

Faaao is a seventh grade student from Auckland, New Zealand. In this post, Faaao describes a memorable experience she had at Pt England School. The experience she talked about was a race. She described how fun the race was and how proud she was of herself for finishing.

My comment to Faaao

I told Faaao that races can be a great experience. I complemented her on how well she described her experience. I told her that a good use of descriptive words will hold the attention of the reader.

Skye Wrote a story about Big Bird too! By Skye

Skye is a second grader from New Zealand. Skye wrote a story about Big Bird and then read it for a short podcast. Skye said she feels good when she hugs Big Bird, and she hugs him everyday. She also said he is handsome and has a yellow body.

My comment to Sky

I told Skye she did a great job reading her story. I told her i used to watch Big Bird as a kid a long time ago. I also encouraged her to keep up the good work.

student + blog equals credibility

C4T Summary #4

Little Things that Make a Big Difference by Jeff Delp

Jeff Delp is a middle school principle in Arizona. In this post Jeff talked about the importance of encouragement. Jeff said that to encourage someone it doesn't always have to be a grand gesture, in fact it could be something as simple as a single word. Jeff used the examples of a simple "thank you" note, a piece of candy, and just telling someone they are "appreciated" to back up his concept of encouragement. Jeff's overall message reflected a great quote he cited by Albert Schweitzer; "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

My Comment to Jeff

I told Jeff I have a good understanding of encouragement vastly due to the teachings of my parents. I said I will make extensive efforts in my future teaching career to incorporate positive reinforcement in my classroom. I also told Jeff I thought there was a tight connection between positive reinforcement and motivation. I said I was always more motivated by teachers who encouraged me.

5 Things I Want My Daughter to Learn in School by Jeff Delp

In this post Jeff talks about stepping away from his school administrative position, and sliding on his parental shoes. Jeff lists five things he wants his daughter to get out of school. The five things Jeff lists are thinking, empathy, purpose, creativity, and difference making. Jeff said he wants his daughter to be able to critically think and be a problem solver. He wants her to have empathy for everyone she comes across because with each new person comes a new set of circumstances that has shaped them. He wants her schoolwork to have purpose and not be busy work. He wants school to build and mold creativity in her, and teach her how to be a difference maker. Jeff questions whether the current test taking centered education is able to provide these things that he wants for his daughter. He said it is definitely the part of parents to help their children be successful with these things, but if schools focused more on them as well it could only be a good thing.

My comment to Jeff

I told Jeff the five things he wants for his daughter are very important indeed. I said being able to critically think will put one way ahead in life than one who can't. I also said empathy and creativity are great supplements to critical thinking. I told him being able to develop these skills for children at home and at school would definitely be the best situation.

headshot of Jeff Delp

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog #13

What can be learned from these videos?
By Ronald Griffin, Eric Merryman and Cameron Hall


Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education By Ronald Griffin

Several great things can be learned from the video Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education. In this video Salman talks in detail about Khan Academy, his created educational video series. The founding ideas for Khan Academy came from YouTube videos Salman made to help tutor his cousins. He received a lot of positive feedback on his videos from teachers and students alike, and soon realized he had the makings of a major educational breakthrough. Salman ran with the opportunity and founded Khan Academy, which serves as a great technological tool for classrooms around the world. It features over twenty two hundred educational videos, subject mastery content for students, and detailed feedback on student progress for teachers.

The first of two educational things that I would like to talk about from Salman’s Khan Academy is giving students a solid educational foundation. Khan Academy offers subject specific programs for students to work on that focus on mastery of that specific subject. Salman stresses that gaining mastery on each subject is the key to students having a solid educational foundation to move forward with. Salman made a great analogy of this concept to learning how to ride a bicycle. He said if a student can only ride a bicycle at eighty percent proficiency, then he or she isn’t going to be ready for a unicycle. The same concept is true of education, students must be proficient in fundamentals of a subject matter before moving on to more difficult areas of that subject. Having a higher level of mastery can be the difference between future failure in a subject and future success.

The other educational point that can be learned from this video is about humanizing the classroom. Salman points out that many people view humanizing the classroom as having a good teacher to student ratio, but he offers a different view. He thinks humanizing the classroom is more about student to valuable human time with teacher ratios. Khan Academy offers this alternative classroom humanization technique. This technique can be accomplished by assigning Khan Academy video lectures as homework and then doing subject mastery homework in the classroom. Doing this will free up teachers from lecture and allow them to spend valuable face to face time with individual students. Khan Academy also offers spreadsheets to teachers giving detailed progress for each individual student which helps them to delegate their time with the right students on the right topics. Also, parents can access this information to play an active role in their child’s education.

Salman’s Khan Academy is a great educational option for classrooms around the world, but maybe even more importantly it can connect classrooms from around the world. Students who have mastered certain concepts can help other students who are having trouble with those concepts. Ultimately, it serves as a major aid to teachers giving them more individualized or human face to face time with their students. At the end of the day, I learned that excellent tools such as Khan Academy can make one a much more effective teacher. These tools lighten the load on teachers and enable them to give the much needed individual attention to students that can help them better succeed.

Salman Khan with a chalkboard of information behind him


Mae Jemison: Teach Arts and Sciences Together By Eric Merryman

Mae Jemison’s video “Teach Arts and Sciences Together” is her saying that, as the title suggests, art and science aren’t two separate subjects. That there is a common misconception between intuitive and analytical. How scientists are ingenious but not creative and how artists are ingenious but not analytical. Mae Jemison says that by separating these two into such dichotomy we force people into a choice of being either analytical but not creative or creative but not analytical. Why can’t we be both?
Mae Jemison headshot


She also mentions that many scientific advancements came around due to creative thinking, such as fiber optics, compact discs, and flat screen televisions, to name a few. She says by cutting the link between art and science we stunt our growth and hinder further advancement. I agree with her that science and art can be and should be taught together, just as she quoted Einstein on how there is beauty in the mysteries of the universe and how that it is the source of all art and science.

I would say let’s also go further on this. Not only teach the arts and sciences together, but also other subject materials. The basis for her argument was about how subjects are one in the same, specifically art and science, but still there is room to grow. Language and the arts are already taught to be the same as language arts, but what about math and physical education? Many more subjects can be taught to compliment one another, since all subjects are connected with each other. Mae Jemison’s proposal is just the start and I hope educators will go further on it.

Shane Koyczan: To This Day...for the bullied and for the beautiful By Cameron Hall

I have learned a lot from Shane Koyczan’s video, To This Day… for the bullied and the beautiful. Shane Koyczan begins with talking about the popular quote, “Stand Up for Yourself” and how at some point we are all told that. He talks about how that directly relates with definition: we are expected to define ourselves and if we don’t someone will do it for us. Defining ourselves comes from three places: how we see ourselves, what others have for us (peers) and when we are asked what we want to be (parents/teachers). Agreeing with Shane, I think that unfair question confuses and discourages kids. In a way, I even think it can be a form of bullying from the people they are supposed to look up to. Sometimes as teachers and parents, we ask them what they want to be, but shoot down their answers because we do not like them. This affects their own dreams and what they feel like they can do.

“Standing up for yourself doesn’t have to mean embracing violence,” Shane says. I think this is a great thing we should tell our students. Outsmarting can go so much further than violence against another person. He says that we should teach our students and our children that standing up for themselves is being yourself and accepting yourself while making others do so as well.
Shane Koyczan


Shane also talks about how bullying really affects us. The sticks and stones rhyme only goes so far. The way I see and interpret it, is that the words we are called stick with us forever and hurt like stone. They affect us later on in life: in our jobs, in our relationships, and mainly in all of our interactions. I think Shane’s main point in this is to tell us that we can not tell others how to feel especially when it comes to bullying. The sticks and stones rhyme ending with “...but words will never hurt me” is a prime example of this. We can say this a million times, but in reality they can cut us to the core. Instead of telling them how they should feel or how they should take it we should teach them on how to accept themselves and make others accept them. We should show them confidence and how to use that to block those titles others put upon us. “Get over it” is a phrase lacking understanding. We can not tell others how to feel, how to take things or even how they let it affect them because unless we are in their shoes, we can’t even begin to understand.

Shane’s video taught me that as a teacher, I need to understand a better approach when it comes to resolving bullying. Simply telling one how to feel or how they can let it affect them is not enough or the right way, in my opinion. As teachers, we have to promote acceptance. We have to show our students how to accept themselves and how to make others accept them by defining themselves before someone beats them to it. Our own definition of ourselves is what makes us who we are and defines the rest of our lives.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project #15

Blog #12

What can be learned from Sir Ken Robinson?
By Ronald Griffin, Eric Merryman and Cameron Hall

How to Escape Death Valley by Ronald Griffin

Sir Ken Robinson goes over some great learning points in the video How to Escape Education’s Death Valley. Ken believes the educational system is broken in America and offers several reasons why. Ken’s first reason is the educational system is about conformity. He highlights the No Child Left Behind Act as an example of this. The No Child Left Behind Act focuses on conformity with testing, and Ken says this directly clashes with the human attribute of diversity. He says education should celebrate all the different kinds of talents and diversity each student brings to the table, and not just shove each student into the tight box of standardized testing.

The next reason Ken gave for the failed educational system is lack of curiosity. He rightly points out that if students’ curiosity could be better sparked, then learning would skyrocket. Tapping into the interests and talents of each student is a way to reach their curiosity. Curiosity then leads to self motivated learning, which can be one of the most effective forms of learning.

Ken defined the third reason as a lack of creativity. He says creativity is the reason humans are so diverse and interesting. If creativity isn’t used in education, we are all selling ourselves short. Ken says the top educational systems individualize learning and promote creativity among students. Creativity should never be overlooked. So many everyday situations hinge on creativity. For example, if one is half way done cooking dinner and realize they are missing an ingredient, creativity comes into play. They then have to use some creativity to replace the missing ingredient and still make the meal taste good. School is the perfect place to facilitate creative growth.

In the end, Ken relates the American educational system to Death Valley, CA. Both the educational system and Death Valley are not dead, rather dormant and with the proper nourishment they can be fruitful. Promoting individualized learning, creativity for both students and teachers, and curiosity is Ken’s formula to bettering a dormant educational system.

Changing Educational Paradigms By Eric Merryman

What we can learn from Sir Ken Robinson in the video “Changing Education Paradigms” is that the world has changed since when educational institutes were thought up and embedded into our lives. Now that the world has changed since then, so should education. We shouldn’t devalue what we see as non-academic, we shouldn’t lie to students saying that a college degree guarantees you a job, we shouldn’t separate our kids by all of these classifications we have them in right now. Sir Ken Robinson believes we should encourage our students, wake them up and excite them.

Sir Ken Robinson states that there is a consensus that there is an ADHD epidemic, but he believes that there is no epidemic. He states that we live in a world filled with distractions that are meant to distract us, and expect our kids to focus onto something that is boring. So boring in fact, that what we focus onto devalues our divergent thinking. Divergent thinking stated in the video is the ability to think of multiple possibilities for answers, whereas in school we are taught there is only one answer, that it is in the back of the book, and to not look, else we are deemed cheaters. Children in kindergarten are genius level divergent thinkers and as they grow older they become less of a divergent thinker. This is bad because it is an anesthetic experience, shutting our senses off. We need to have aesthetic ways of thinking, where our senses are at their peak, and by being a divergent thinker is a way of telling where we are having an aesthetic experience.

In the video he states that the current education paradigm is a myth, just that we are blind to seeing it that way. He says in the last part of the video that we must think differently about human capacity, and I agree. Education is not something that can be industrialized anymore, but should rather be more individualistic and personal.

The Importance of Creativity by Cameron Hall

In the Ted Talks video: How Schools Kill Creativity Ken Robinson talks about how creativity is lacking in our education systems throughout the world for both students and teachers. The first part, he talks about is that education is what is taking us into the future and a lot of people cannot grasp that. The second part he talks about is the unpredictability of education. How are we to teach our students preparing them for the future, when we as teachers do not even know what things are going to be like ourselves? I personally think this is one of the greatest questions we have to ask ourselves when we teach. The third part he talks about is our students capacity for innovation. I think this is mainly where their creativity has the biggest growing point. Robinson explains that schools can take away from the natural talent, innovation and creativity our students possess.

“Creativity is as important in our education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” Robinson says that students are not afraid of being wrong, but teachers can sometimes relate “wrong” to being creative. His statement is that wrong is not always bad. Wrong creates some type of originality. In my opinion, as adults we need that really just for growing pains. Robinson also says that we criticize and critique mistakes instead of building on them. In turn we are educating people out of their creative capacities. When we take the creativity out of our students at a young age, it is removed and typically never gained back as they grow older. We get “educated out of it,” Robinson says.

Robinson says we think about the world visually, kinestically, and sound. Intelligence is dynamic and covers all movements. Acknowledging multiple types of education is apart of the creativity we have as teachers. He says we need to pass that along to our students and cultivate creativity. In order to teach our students we need to rethink our teaching processes. Our education does not need to take away from the individuality, creativity, or originality each student possesses. Stripping our students of their natural talents is not the way to go. As teachers we need to build on those talents, influence originality and let our students be creative in their intelligence. We have to teach for the unpredictable future and by doing so create students and adults that can adapt to any and every situation they can encounter.

headshot of Sir Ken Robinson

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blog #11

Technology and Teaching with Ms. Cassidy by Ronald Griffin

Ms. Cassidy is a first grade teacher from Canada, and she talks a lot about technology in education in the video Interview with Kathy Cassidy. So, how does a teacher approach getting technology in the classroom? According to Ms. Cassidy, a lot of it falls on the shoulders of the teacher. Ms. Cassidy got started implementing technology in her classroom from her own research and ideas. She said she had a technology coordinator at her school for support, but the bulk of the work she did herself. Working hard to get technology in the classroom is one thing, but to do in a way that is most beneficial to the students takes it to another level. After all, whats the point of having a computer in the class if it isn't utilized properly? This question is answered by Ms. Cassidy. She says to use technology in the proper way, teachers must understand technology themselves. If a teacher understands technology from an educational standpoint, then they will be well on their way to using it properly in the classroom. The road to successful technology in the classroom doesn't end here, rather it is only the beginning. Having a strong personal learning network can strengthen a teachers approach to technology in the classroom.

Ms. Cassidy spoke with conviction on how a personal learning network can help use technology in education. She said, as a teacher, one should use the things they connect with the best to find the proper advice. She said if a teacher is into writing than maybe they should use Blogger to connect with other teachers who favor writing. If a teacher has more interest in photos than try out Flicker to connect with other teachers through that. This starts the building process of their personal learning network. The take home message is, if one uses resources they are interested in themselves they will connect with other like minded individuals and be able to exchange ideas and better themselves as teachers. In the process, the teachers are being constant learners. Doesn't this concept sound somewhat familiar? This same concept is used when teaching students. A teacher should find the students' interests and tap into that in order to motivate and educate them. It is intriguing to see some concepts come full circle. The same concept is being used by a teacher to connect with their students and at the same time it's being used to implement something new like effective technological education. Having an effective personal learning network can allow for an influx of knowledge on how to approach using technology in the classroom.

There are several techniques Ms. Cassidy mentioned that I would consider using for my classroom. The first is the use of Blogger. I think the way Ms. Cassidy uses Blogger is great. She said she uses it as much as possible / applicable, and also uses it for the parents of the students. Having a class blog allows parents to see their child's work, as well as other children in the class. Important announcements can be put on the page and overall is a great way to keep parents connected to their child's education. Also, it allows a public forum for the students to share their knowledge and receive feedback.

Another great technique Ms. Cassidy uses that I would consider using myself is Skype. Being able to use Skype is a great resource, specifically with other classes. Using Skype for presentations of projects is a great way to involve other classrooms from anywhere. After the presentation, feedback can be given by other students and a general discussion could be held between the two classes. Skype can also be good for interviews with professionals in whatever course of study one is teaching. One drawback of using Skype can be its heavy reliance on the internet. If a whole period is scheduled around using Skype and the internet goes down then precious time can be wasted. Having a back up plan in these situations is crucial. Always being prepared is a responsibility teachers have, and by being prepared many problems can be averted.

Ms. Cassidy's interview was full of great advice. Staying in touch and up to date with technology and having a great personal learning network to tap into, is a great way to implement technology into the classroom. Using great techniques like Blogger and Skype can also help better eduction for students. The point that I feel has been steadily rising to the surface in the pool of educational knowledge time and again is always continue to learn. Whether one has been teaching for forty years or forty days, being a constant learner will allow them to successfully implement a plethora of educational tools into the classroom.

Kathy Cassidy

Project #12: Part A Smart Board Tools

Project #10: Interview Movie

C4K October Summary

Maya Pickle's Chapter 8-9 Out Of My Mind post

Maya is in Ms. Eppele's elementary school class out of British Columbia, Canada. Maya starts off by summarizing some qualities that service dogs have. Helping improve the lives of people with various disabilities including blindness and epilepsy, were some of the points Maya highlighted. Maya also spoke of jealousy and how she has learned from experiencing that emotion.

My comment to Maya

I complimented Maya on a great job of summarizing service dog qualities. I also told her it was a great thing that she learned from being jealous of her brother, because by feeling bad when it happened means she has a good conscience and ultimately that will help her in the long run.

Doctor Who's Decomposers of the Forest

Doctor Who is a student in Mrs. Mclean's class from Alberta, Canada. In this post, Doctor Who talks about Fungi, and their role in the plant cycle of the forest. Doctor Who's key points included fungus being a type of mold that grows in many places in the forest, and fungi being able to decompose dead organisms in the dirt. Doctor Who also included several pictures of fungi in the post.

My comment to Doctor Who

I commented on how intricate processes like that of fungi are so vital to our ecosystem. I also shared a link with Doctor Who on other affects of fungus, namely the Potato Blight of Ireland. I told Doctor Who scientific knowledge is a great asset to have in the grand scheme of how our world works.

King Remy's Christchurch rebuild

King Remy is a fifth grade student from Christchurch, New Zealand. In this post Remy writes about rebuilding ideas for Christchurch, New Zealand after an earthquake did significant damage. Remy's ideas included new buildings, new playgrounds and a water park, and a new stadium. He concludes his post by hoping any wish that the reader may have for rebuilding Christchurch comes true.

My comment to King Remy

The first thing I wrote to Remy was about his post structure. Remy did a great job separating his ideas into different paragraphs. He also included an introduction and conclusion, which made his writing very understandable. I also offered Remy some advice on capitalization. Several of Remy's sentences started with a word that was not capitalized, so I reminded him that the first word in a sentence should always be capitalized.

Quotes by Brandon

Brandon is a seventh grade student in Ms. Horst's class. For this post Brandon chose to write a quote. He said he liked quotes because it affords one the opportunity to learn more about the "personality" of people. Brandon chose the following quote; "survival is not a choice, it's a instinct"-Author Unknown.

My Comment to Brandon

In my comment to Brandon, I highlighted several great things about quotes. I first told him quotes can be a great motivator. Next, I told him how quotes can serve as inspiration. I wrapped up my comment talking about how amazing survival instinct is, and the amazing things people can do when it kicks in.

thinking bubble with the words student blog in it

C4T Summary #3

I'm Skeptical of Anything Claiming to Create Geniuses by John Spencer

In this post, John writes about an article named "How a Radical New Teaching Method Can Unleash a Generation of Geniuses". In a nutshell, the article talks about a teacher in Mexico who adopted a project based learning style for his classroom and it produced very good test scores for the class. As the teacher gave up more and more control in his class, his students took more control over their own learning. One of his students did very well with this style of learning and finished first in the country on a standardized test. John points out several things he is skeptical about with the article. The first thing John disagrees with is the "radically new" concept of decentralized education systems being better than "top down" educational systems. John states this idea isn't new at all, in fact he relates them to connectivism and constructivism. John goes on to say these ideas are not new to teachers or schools. John didn't like the fact that the article didn't acknowledge the many schools in the United States that are doing the same kind of education, and have been for awhile. John also didn't like the term "generation of geniuses" in the article's title. He said the term has connotations of "being above others", and productive education shouldn't be about one student being above any other.

My Comment to John

I also read the article and shared many of the same thoughts as John. I find it remarkably frustrating when popular magazines decide what is "new" or "ground breaking", when in actuality it is not. John pointed out several schools had already implemented the style of learning the article talked about, and in my eyes that devalues the overall story of the article. The sad part is, the story is actually a very inspiring educational tale. I also thought the title of the article was poorly worded. In my opinion, education doesn't need to produce geniuses, rather well equipped, well rounded, productive citizens. Like John, I think the overall message that education should change is on point, but falsely claiming something to be new is off base.

Five Keys to Collaboration by John Spencer
head shot John Spencer


In this post, John writes about five keys to collaboration. The first key is trust. He said true collaboration only comes if one trusts their group members. The second key is vulnerability. One has to put their own personal ideas out for the group and that can lead to feelings of vulnerability. John's third key is purpose. Having the same purpose and having the right purpose is important. The fourth key is conflict. John points out going through conflict with group members about details of the project can be a learning experience. John's final is key time and proximity. Spending the right amount of time face to face can help the finished product.

My comment to John

I started off by telling John I currently do a fair amount of collaboration in EDM310. I said I thought trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. The more one trusts their group members, the more likely they are to being vulnerable and sharing personal thoughts and ideas to better the project. I said conflict has the potential to help or hurt a collaboration. If group members are able to come together and work through conflicts, than the project can be great. If the group cannot work through conflict the project can fail. Truly being able to collaborate, sometimes requires sacrifices to be made. It's all about give and take. Willingness to sacrifice is a key ingredient to conflict resolution.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog #10

What Can Be Learned About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch? By Ronald Griffin

My first taste of Randy Pausch came from a lecture he did entitled "Randy Pausch's Last Lecture". It didn't take long before I realized what a great communicator he was. Randy was able to methodically weave humor and visual aids into a great learning experience in this lecture. The lecture was packed with amazing insight on teaching and learning. Although there are many great points Randy makes, I would like to highlight three elements he talked about pertaining to teaching and learning.

The first element is enabling others' dreams. Randy talks a lot about his childhood dreams in the video and puts heavy emphasis on the importance of having childhood dreams. Childhood dreams are goals one has when young, and can serve as great motivation to attain the things one wants in life. So, what can be learned about teaching and learning from childhood dreams? As it turns out, a great deal. Teachers can be facilitators of their students' dreams. Instilling qualities in students that help them succeed is enabling their childhood dreams. For example, if a student has the childhood dream of becoming a successful scientist that breaks barriers in biological research, the student can't do it alone. The process starts with his science teachers in school. They can enable him to accomplish that dream by being the best educators possible, and by giving him a solid foundation in science. Being the best educator possible to equip students with the skills they need requires constant dedication, hard work and learning from the teachers themselves. There are always going to be things that make it difficult, but perseverance pays off.

The next element I would like to write about is "The Brick Wall". Randy talked about a brick wall as something that will stand in the way of accomplishing dreams. He stressed how important the concept of a brick wall can be to one's life. He said a brick wall will show how badly someone wants something, and the ones who don't want it bad enough will give up and let the wall win.
brick wall
Conversely, those who want it bad enough will be able to fight through the wall to get what they want. Teachers must fight through these "Brick Walls" to ensure students are getting the best education / opportunities available. An example of this would be attitude. Lets say a student has a horrible attitude at the beginning of the semester, and it seems fairly obvious it is effecting his grade negatively. The teacher approaches the student about the problem and the student blows off the teacher with more attitude. This process repeats itself several times, forming a brick wall to the teacher. The stage is now set to see how bad the teacher wants to be an educator. Does the teacher give up, or does the teacher break down the brick wall? At this point the teacher has to be a learner. The teacher must learn how to correctly communicate with the student, so that the student can be successful in the classroom. Talking with former teachers or the student's family is a starting place. The success of students in the classroom doesn't solely fall on the teacher, but a large part does. Randy also talk about a great way to foster student success.

The final element I would like to highlight from the lecture is "The Head Fake". Randy talks about the head fake being an important tactic to get students to learn. Essentially, the head fake is creating a learning process for students that is fun enough to hold their attention, but also get necessary learning material accomplished. Randy used a great example of something he used in the past. He said he would have students doing projects on video game programming. Since many students are very interested in video games it held their attention very well. On the flip side, students were learning about computer programming. I think that is such a great concept that is very underused, but it can be a great learning point. If teachers can use this tactic in the classroom, more students may be reached and ultimately more dreams can be accomplished.

Ultimately, Randy Pausch was a great teacher and in being a great teacher many things about teaching and learning can be learned from him. Being a childhood dream enabler for students, fighting through any educational brick walls that appear and using head fake tactics can lead to quality education. I genuinely felt like just by watching that one lecture from Randy I have a higher upside as a future educator. Randy deposited major coin into my knowledge bank that I will take with me into my future teaching career.

Randy Pausch head shot

Project #14 PBL Plan #2

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog #9

What Can Be Learned About Teaching and Learning From These Teachers? By Eric Merryman, Ronald Griffin and Cameron Hall

Brian Crosby

In the video Back to the Future Brian Crosby is doing a TEDtalks video about twenty-four fourth graders that are around the age of nine years old. Brian Crosby starts off his talk, speaking about how his students are in poverty and do not know questions about themselves, due to the students having such a narrowed curriculum since they were born. Brian Crosby teaches us that this shouldn’t stop teachers from teaching, but it should rather motivate us to teach smarter.

Brian Crosby comes up with an idea that sparks the motivation and imagination of the children’s minds after showing them mind blowing projects such as an aluminum can crushing itself in due to air pressure after getting dunked into cold water. Brian Crosby takes project based learning to another level by getting not only all of the students involved, but also the whole world involved. This project had students write to learn content, write to clarify and share, write to tell a story, get feedback from peers, articulate their project orally, connect globally, and have an authentic audience(not just the other students in the classroom).

We must learn from teachers like Brian Crosby to give project based learning to students not just to have them learn about a subject but to empower the students, to motivate them, to collaborate with others, to get active in learning. Active learning is important for students, we as teachers should not teach our students that learning is listening to lecture, if they want to comment or ask a question they must raise their hand and must wait for me to call on them. We as teachers must include our students into the learning experience, have them connect with the subject at hand.

Paul Anderson

Mr. Paul Anderson is a high school science teacher in Montana. Many things about teaching and learning can be obtained from Paul. The first thing is his website Bozemanscience. This website is a wonderful educational resource for both students and teachers. The website features ten different categories of scientific instructional videos. The videos were all done by Paul in a video podcast format. The videos can be a great reference for a multitude of scientific knowledge. The resourcefulness of this website is an important thing to learn from Paul. As a teacher, one could use this to help students all year long. Students could use the website for current information and even review of topical information.

In the video Blended Learning Cycle Paul talks about the approach he takes in his science classroom. The first point Paul makes is that he takes a “everything is a remix” approach to teaching. He constantly researches educational techniques and learns from them. Paul then integrates what he likes best about these ideas and applies them to his teaching style. This a great learning point from Paul. Wanting to learn as a teacher and having a thirst to gain more knowledge shows a true commitment to the art of teaching. Paul goes on to explain what exactly the blended learning cycle is. The blended learning cycle is a combination of blended learning and the learning cycle. Blended learning consists of classroom learning, mobile learning and online learning. The learning cycle is broken down into engage, explore, explain, expand and evaluate. Paul molds both of these templates into his own six stage masterpiece of learning.

In the first stage, Paul starts off with a question. The question needs to be able to draw the student in and capture their attention. If done properly then the student will have the right amount of motivation to continue on to the second step of investigation. During investigation, students will be able to make inquiries and experiment on the subject at hand. The next stage is video. This stage goes hand in hand with investigation because it can serve as foundational knowledge to the students, enhancing their ability to experiment and quenching their inquiry thirst. The videos are podcasts made by Paul. Elaboration is the next stage. This stage includes critical thinking and reading to elaborate on the subject. This can be accomplished from the videos and also from the textbook. The fifth stage is review. During this stage, Paul meets individually with students / small student groups to ask questions about the subject. This stage is critical in making sure the students have gained sufficient mastery over the subject. Until the groups show they have learned enough, Paul doesn’t clear them to proceed to the final step. Once cleared by Paul, the students can move on to the final stage; the summary quiz. The summary quiz tests the students on the knowledge they gained from the other five stages.

Ultimately, Paul represents many great points on teaching and learning. Learning is not just for students, it is also for the pure teachers who always want to create a better educational environment. Asking the right questions can lead to student motivation, which in turn will increase the level of learning for the student. Using resources like a website and podcasts can be informative but also free the teacher up in the classroom to dedicate more individualized time to the students. Meeting with the students individually / in small groups holds each student accountable for the information, and makes sure no one student is left behind. Integrating these ideas into one’s classroom will put them one step closer the their own “everything is a remix” style of education.

Mark Church

In the Making Thinking Visible video, Mark Church talks about documenting student work and making it visible in the classroom. He teaches us that in our curriculum we need to have our students connect with ideas and focus on how their ideas and thinking were extended. Our students need to think of the challenge, puzzle or driving question of the topic in order to expand their ideas and thinking. I think this causes them to relate the topic to the real world ideas they need. I think what Mark Church was saying was that students need deeper understanding to connect real world ideas to the topic they are discussing. How I would implement this in my classroom would be for English, relate the literature to a modern, real world situation they could comprehend and understand. I would let them get into groups as he did and maybe put a story we have read into their own words or create their own story using the same plot and situation, making it more modern. I definitely think the real world relativity gives students a better understanding and comprehension of the work that they are doing.

We all have something to learn with these three teachers, but the important thing isn’t just to learn what these teachers are saying, but also putting what they say to good use. Not putting what they say to good use is not actively learning. To actively learn is the main point all three teachers share, and to not actively learn would be folly.

teachers are learners too written on a blackboard with students around it

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Blog Post #8

A Collaborative Assignment: 21st Century Learning and Communication Tools

Ted Talks Education By Eric Merryman

I chose to talk about Ted Talks Education as a 21st century learning and communication tool. Ted Talks is a website filled with videos of professors and business professionals all around the world talking about different subjects that you can search from. These videos can be anywhere from being 3 minutes to 18 minutes long. Ted Talks Education can be found on their website and can be accessed on any computer all around the world and in many different languages. The website also has an app that can be downloaded on any smartphone or tablet device for an easy to use experience even when not at home, to catch up or to show off any video that may interest you. Not only Ted Talks Education videos can be found on personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, but many other devices as well thanks to all videos being uploaded onto youtube and a few even on services such as netflix. All videos give a date and location of when and where the speech took place, giving context of why the video may of been made and to see if it may be relevant to where you are today or not.

Ted Talks Education has professionals talking about subjects they are familiar with such as technology, business, entertainment, design, science, global issues, and many others. The speakers tend to keep the message short and to the point with plenty of humor and visual aids to keep people entertained and have the videos easy to watch. With each video not being too long, you may find yourself looking for another short video to watch, learning something new every video you click on. These videos aren’t just to educate, but also to invoke questions and thought. Certain videos pose a question and do not give a clear answer, these are meant to give people ideas about a certain subject or to bring awareness to a particular matter.

In my classroom, I plan to teach high school mathematics such as Algebra, and Ted Talks Education has a lot of neat videos on all sorts of math, including the history of certain types of math. Terry Moore, a speaker in this Ted Talks video, speaks about the history of Algebra and specifically the history of the variable “x” and how it came about, in a humorous way. The history of anything can be entertaining with the right speaker and if I cannot come across to some of my students as such, I can direct them to these short videos they can watch at home, and give some context in what they are learning about. Context is very important in when trying to understand something, which goes for mathematics as well. With Ted Talks Education videos being so easily accessible, entertaining, educational, wide ranging, and easy to use, it would be hard to think of a reason why not to use such a valuable tool in the 21st century.

man speaking about ted talks education


The Teaching Channel by Cameron Hall


The Teaching Channel is a website filled with videos, Common Core resources and lesson plans for teachers. The videos are for each and every subject, grade and topic and have different time frames from 1 minute to around 20 minutes. The videos give an example of a teacher in his or her classroom addressing the topic at hand. The videos range from addressing different topics like assessment and behavior to teaching specific content like fractions or punctuation. The videos have a brief description of the topic, teacher and where this is located. The Teaching Channel can be accessed from different devices, such as a smartphone, laptop or computer, or ipad/tablet.


The Teaching Channel has different categories for topics, subjects and age groups you can pick from. The teachers in the videos talk about how they have made their classroom a modern more technology based classroom and give examples of how others can do so as well. The videos also address the common core standards and give ways to incorporate them into your everyday classroom activities. What I found interesting is that these examples are in all of the topics such as behavior, assessment, and class culture not just the ones relating to specific concepts like fractions, exponents or grammar.

In my classroom I plan to teach middle school Math and English. Specifically for math, I think the Teaching Channel would be a great tool to use. With Common Core standards becoming the main point in education, collaborative groups in the classroom are a must. In one of the Teaching Channel videos, Lauren Hobbs talks about how she groups her students and why it is important. She says she groups her students sometimes based on interests, grades, projects, and scores. She says that in working with different people each time gives them a better understanding of working with other people, reflect on their own learning and talk within a classroom setting. Collaborative groups can be fun and a different way to learn for all age groups but I have to know how to group the students so that it is enjoyable for them, but also efficient and effective in accomplishing work.

The Teaching Channel videos give a lot of examples and insight to things other teachers have tried in their classroom. Because it is so easily accessible and useful in our own planning, I think it would be a great tool in a 21st century classroom.

the teaching channel emblem


SAS Curriculum Pathway by Ronald Griffin


Twenty first century learning and communication tools can help foster a better educational experience in the classroom. So how does one find them? One easy and fast way would be to simply conduct a quick internet search. Another way is to acquire the help of teachers who have experience with 21st century learning and communication tools. This assignment is the perfect example of tapping into the resources of an experienced teacher. Dr. Strange gave a great list of 21st century learning and communication tools. I think this highlights the importance of PLN. The bigger one’s network is the more resources they have to use.

The 21st century learning tool I would like to talk about is SAS Curriculum Pathways. SAS Curriculum Pathways is a great online resource for both teachers and students. It provides educational material in five major areas; English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Spanish. What makes this tool even more useful is the resources are all standard based making it easy to integrate Common Core. Another amazing quality SAS Curriculum Pathways brings to the table is being free. Free is always good, and it can help alleviate any financial concerns teachers and students may have.

So now that we have the ground work covered on SAS Curriculum Pathways, lets see how one might use it. I am going into science, so I will use that subject area as an example. Lets say I wanted to get lab ideas for the way planets moved in our solar system. I would go onto the SAS Curriculum Pathways website (link above) and click on the Classroom Use link on the left side. This would direct me to a page with the many resources including a search engine, a standards link, plan books and even “Tips and Tricks” on content. Next, I would click on the science link and do a search of “planets moving”. Within the results an interactive lab is displayed about planetary motion. Using this resource made finding information on my science lab extremely easy. Ultimately, SAS Curriculum Pathways is a great 21st century tool that offers standard and subject specific resources designed to deepen critical thinking in students and strengthen the educational arsenal of teachers.

sas emblem

C4T#2 Summaries

Bring your own ideas post by Ben Jones

In this post Ben talks about BYOD (bring your own device) programs in education. He indicates that many of the BYOD programs will fail because they don't have a solid foundation of people doing it for the right reasons. Ben said that many of the forces behind BYOD have their own agendas and that bothers him. He concludes that all it takes is simple communication with students in the classroom to make BYOD work. He stressed that "uniting" with students is the key. He said all he did was ask his students what devices they had access to and what they could bring to class. From there he conducted the class in the best way possible.

My comment to Ben

I first commented on the video that he uploaded to his blog. The video was a song that tied in his main argument of the post and was very interesting. I discussed how technology has become more prevalent in education and that BYOD programs have both their ups and downs. Overall, I really liked and agreed with his main point of uniting with students. Many plans, including BYOD, are great in theory but just talking about them or writing policies about them aren't getting anything done. One has to act and put plans in motion to see any results. As Ben eluded to, simple communication with students can get the ball rolling. I plan to use communication with my students religiously, as I believe it is a key component in education.

Weathering the storm of education by Ben Jones

In this post Ben talks about the affects of teaching on teachers. He references some of his thoughts to another blog titled "A View From The Middle". Ben tactfully points out teachers that have "physiological reactions" to teaching are the ones who truly care about their job. Ben said he would like to be surrounded by the kind of teachers who have physiological reactions, because going through the tough times only makes a teacher stronger. Ben concludes by questioning how teachers should be supported when going through tough times, because ultimately the students' quality of education depends on it.

My comment to Ben

I told Ben I also want to be surrounded by teachers who are passionate about teaching, and are emotionally vested enough to be affected by outcomes. I have personally worked with "robots" who show no passion and in turn provide no support to their coworkers. I also shared my opinion on supporting coworkers experiencing physiological reactions. I said listening and being an encouragement can make a big difference to someone in these situations.

mechanical brain

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Project #2 PLN First Progress Report

multiple networking resources around the word symbaloo


I chose Symbaloo for my PLN. From the second I saw the resources it provides I liked it. I immediately started creating and organizing titles on it. Many times while doing work for this class I have found myself having ten different windows minimized because my top tool bar is already jammed with bookmarks. Since I have started using Symbaloo I have been able to organize all the things I need for this class, and it has made my life a lot easier. I can also tell that when I finish creating my PLN this can be a real asset for me in the future.

Project #13 PBL Plan #1

Blog Post #7

Collaborative Cameron Hall, Eric Merryman, and Ronald Griffin

In the Discovery Ed video Anthony Capp tells us about the tools it provides for both teachers and students. The most important tool he talks about is the many visual aides discovery ed has. Anthony and Dr. Strange both agree that visual aides help students retain information better because people remember far more of what they hear and even more of what they see. Anthony and Strange agree that students are watchers and will watch more than they read or write.

Dr. Strange and Anthony continue to discuss PBL, and reflect on some experiences Anthony has had with PBL. Anthony starts off by talking about how PBL doesn't always go as planned. He gave an example of a project were his students did a video of Afghan culture. A student in his class had a father who served in Afghanistan and didn't want his child to learn about that specific culture. Anthony had to then exhibit flexibility and assign another project for that student. He said the alternative project turned out great for the student. Anthony went on to say for the other students who did do the Afghan culture project, it turned out wonderfully. He said the students presented the videos to about fifty parents and most of the parents were blown away with how great they were. Anthony said one of the important features of the project was letting the students decide some of the intricate details of the project. He said some chose Afghan food, some chose Afghan fashion, and some warfare. This made the project extremely well rounded and was a big reason why the parents were so impressed. Anthony stressed that by not controlling every aspect of the project it allowed the student to make decisions, and that helped keep the students motivated about the project. He said it also created student satisfaction with their own work. There are two major things that can be learned from this video. The first is the ability of Anthony to be flexible with the project when the student's parents didn't want him to participate. Being prepared and being able to successfully delegate an alternative assignment for the student is important. Everything is not always going to go as planned. The second thing is being able to create opportunities for students in projects and then letting them take over from there. Doing this can lead to inspired work and eventually student satisfaction with their work.

It is important to give students a hook and to be content driven, so that they feel motivated and interested to get the work done and done well, while having met common core standards. Also, it is good for us to understand we must have constantly evolving ideas about project based learning lessons, and understand that project based learning is not a project we come up with to show what we learn, but something we do to help us learn. Never limit your students by telling them exactly what you want them to do and how to do their project based lesson, give them room to explore and grow, let them fiddle around and learn their potential, as a teacher, you may just be surprised on how creative students can be.

Discovery Ed provides text articles, pictures, videos and research tools for all subjects. Students can research things about upcoming content in classes using pictures and videos and this enriches their research experience. In Anthony's classroom he has his students create their own visual aides using audio and videos. He says their reaction is not choosing either or (reading/writing or audio/video), but that they associate reading and writing with the visual aides.

iCurio is also a technological tool that can be used in the classroom. It is an online tool that provides students with a search engine for educational use, including audio and video finds. Anthony tells us that iCurio has many advantages. It has a storage area which helps students draft virtually organized material using folders. It is safe for students leaving and picking up where they left off and helps filter out inappropriate material.

Don't Teach Tech-Use It Response By Cameron Hall

Anthony also stress using technology in the classroom not teaching it. He says that technology is natural for kids and they enjoy every opportunity to use it. There should not be lists to teach technology. Instead teachers should design assignments using technology (discovery ed, imovie, etc) and they should scaffold or break up skills each week. Through scaffolding students can learn and use one tool at a time then combine that tool with the upcoming weeks tool. Teachers should not expect perfection when their students are using technology. Technology can be somewhat of a guess and check system; one where students can learn from their mistakes. Teachers should allow students to reflect on their mistakes so that they can understand why and how they can correct their mistake. Anthony also says that technology is also about sharing. Students should share how technology helped them, if they are confused, and what they learned. He says one way he lets them show mastery is through the skills for the next week. He incorporates scaffolding in this as well. Technology also helps teachers introduce technology smartly. Anthony says teachers need to do the technology assignments themselves first to ensure the assignment is understandable for students so they can do it. Technology teaches students to ask valuable questions which helps the teacher understand why the questions were asked. Summarily, technology can promote any questions and problem solving and gives a platform for figuring out steps toward an answer.

Additional Thought About Lessons Response By Eric Merryman

Anthony basically breaks down lesson planning into four parts: yearly lessons, unit based lessons, weekly lessons, and daily lessons. Each breaking down into a smaller and smaller planning method. Yearly lessons are lessons you want the students to have learned by the end of the school year. Unit based lessons are checkpoints for yearly lessons and are lessons based off categories or chapters you want to cover. Weekly based lessons are what you want to cover within a week to reach your unit based lesson, and daily based lessons are planned lessons every day that you want to cover to reach your weekly based lesson. As an aspiring mathematics teacher, the math book breaks up lesson plans quite well for me, weekly lessons can be by chapter and daily lessons can be segments within the chapter, such as 2.1 or 2.2, and weekly lessons would be 2.1 through 2.5 otherwise known as all of chapter 2. Unit based lessons would be planned as multiple chapters of the book such as chapters 1 through 3 can be a unit, and yearly lessons would be all the chapters of the book put together. It is also important to be flexible in lesson plans, if something may seem very difficult to plan accordingly and if something may seem very easy to plan accordingly. Lessons are easy to plan when broken down from yearly to unit, from unit to weekly, and from weekly to daily, which is why Anthony gave his additional thoughts about lesson plans and I agree wholeheartedly.

The Anthony-Strange list of Tips for Teachers Part 1 Response by Ronald Griffin

In this segment Dr. Strange and Anthony talk about things all teachers should be prepared to do in the classroom. The first topic was teachers being learners themselves. Dr. Strange made the point that good teachers will lead by example for their students and continue to learn throughout their career. I believe this is a very valid point. As a teacher, one of the best ways to become better in your teaching subject is to show mastery over that subject. It seems the best way to gain mastery in a subject is to constantly learn more about that certain subject.

Anthony continued the list by saying teaching is hard work. He said good teachers will continue to work on their craft after they put in their eight hours in the classroom. He likened teaching to a hobby, because if one truly cares about their craft they will work on it in their free time. I think this is a great point. If one is truly passionate about something and they want to be the best at it, it takes hard work. Think about professional golfers as an example. Tiger Woods not only pounds balls on the range and works on his short game all day at the golf course, he also has a personal putting green in his own back yard. In his free time he still works on his game. This concept is the same with teachers. If as a teacher, one wants to be the best they are going to have to put the extra work in to achieve that goal.

metal gears integrated together
The next point made was being flexible. Dr. Strange talked about how having a plan is a necessity, but being flexible with that plan is a must. Things don’t always go as planned and as a teacher it is an important responsibility to have a viable backup plan in place. An example in Anthony’s classroom was used for this point. A lesson plan which required the use of technology was quickly thwarted by the loss of power. Anthony had a backup plan that didn’t require the use of electricity and the class was able to proceed and make good use of time in the classroom. I think this is a very resourceful point. It is definitely the responsibility of the teacher to make the best use of the time he or she has with students in the classroom. Having a backup plan can be a great counter to unexpected happenings in the classroom.

The next two points were start with a goal and engage one hundred percent of the students in the classroom. These two points go hand in hand. Anthony pointed out starting with a goal serves as motivation and motivation is absolutely needed if one wants to have one hundred percent participation from students. The real challenge lies in being able to motivate every single student. I believe this point goes back to bettering oneself as a teacher. If one strives to be a better teacher each year than setting goals of having one hundred percent participation is a good thing.

The last point made was using projects and sharing those projects with an audience for better learning. Dr. Strange and Anthony discussed the importance of getting feedback from an audience. Getting constructive outside feedback, enables students to reflect on their work and ultimately revise it to a better end product. The idea of outside feedback is a wonderful thought. Sometimes receiving feedback from the same source over and over again can be taxing on a student, but introducing a fresh face into the equation can ignite heightened attention from students.

Overall, hard working flexible teachers who want to be learners and have a passion to engage all students can be an invaluable asset to any school. The ability to incorporate project learning and then use feedback from outside sources to shape that learning adds to the quality of education. It may be easier to stand in front of a class and read from the textbook, but applying the ideas from this conversation will elevate learning and produce a more well rounded student.

C4K September Summary

Punkin's "This I Believe" Post

Punkin is a student in Jamie Lynn Martin's 1st block class. Punkin's post was about making mistakes and learning from them. Punkin told a personal story of how she was caught smoking by the police. She was arrested and taken to juvenile detention. She felt horribly about smoking behind her Grandmother's back, especially since her Grandmother had been taking care of her while her mother was in jail. After it was all said and done, Punkin knew she made a mistake and said she learned from it and will try and do better.

My comment to Punkin

I started off by telling her how important learning from mistakes are in life. I then shared a story with her about how I stole a GameBoy when I was young and the harsh consequences that followed. I told her how much I learned from that incident and that I have never stolen since that day.

Natalie's "Dear Diary!" Post

Natalie is a fifth year student in Mrs. Lieschke's class. In this post Natalie shared some short stories she wrote through a website named storybird. Natalie showed great imagination in her stories, mostly focusing on everyday life scenarios.

My comment to Natalie

In my comment to Natalie I complemented her on having a great imagination. I told her that with a good imagination she has the potential to be a great writer. I went on to emphasize other ways a good imagination can lead to success, including future education and a future career.

Henry's "The five little pigs" Post

Henry is a fifth year student in Ms. Ouano's class. Henry's post was a story about five little pigs. In the story the little pig's mother went to work and the little pigs were supposed to go to school. After the mother returned home from work she wanted to make sure her little pigs went to school so she asked them, and then tried to confirm their answer with the house mouse. The story contained several quotations and a picture.

My comment to Henry

In my comment to Henry I complimented him on his use of quotations. I also told him I liked the picture he included in his story and how a good picture can paint vivid images in a readers mind.

Savannah's "Does The Sky Have Weight?" Post

Savannah is a sixth grade student in Mr. Rhodus's class. In her post she explains that the sky weights over 5 billion tons. She said that because the weight is evenly distributed around one's body it isn't harmful. She also pointed out that when flying in a plane, one feels less of the weight due to being above it.

My comment to Savannah

I started off by telling her I was glad she was learning about science, especially since I am going to be a science teacher. I told her that science is heavily reliant on questions, and questions lead to knowledge. I also asked her if she knew the atmosphere was mostly made up of Nitrogen and Oxygen.

artful writing of student blogs