Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blog Post #6

What questions do we ask? How do we ask?

I would like to start off by saying I think this is a very important topic. I believe questions in an educational setting, and many others for that matter, are imperative for gaining knowledge. The two kinds of questions asked in the classroom are open ended questions and closed ended questions. Joanne Chesley addressed both of these kinds of questions in her YouTube video Asking better questions in the classroom. Joanne explained that closed ended questions only require a one word answer and often times require little thinking. For example; Is the University of South Alabama located at the corner of University Boulevard and Old Shell Road? The answer is very simple, it is either yes or no. Now how about changing the question up a little; Where is the University of South Alabama located? The latter question is an open ended question because it invokes thought. If one doesn't know where USA is located they will have to research and find out. Joanne advocates that open ended questions lead to critical thinking and more well rounded answers. Now before we label closed ended questions the big bad wolf, can they be used in a productive way? The answer is yes, but they must have a critical component attached at the hip. That component is a follow up question. Is Hydrogen the first element in the periodic table? Now the follow up question makes an appearance. Why is hydrogen the first element on the periodic table? In this case the closed ended question is just a starting point for tapping into the students knowledge base. This idea of the follow up question was touched on by the article Asking questions to improve learning on the Washington University in St. Louis website.

So, what other kinds of questions should be asked? According to Ben Johnson in his article titled The right way to ask questions in the classroom specific questions should be asked. Ben pleads for the general question,"Does everyone understand?" to be tossed out and the use of more specific questions to be put in its place. By asking specific questions it definitely stimulates critical thinking. Just asking specific questions doesn't right the ship because the way one asks the question also plays a vital role.

So, how does one ask specific questions that promote critical thinking? Ben Johnson suggests to wait for three seconds after the question and then call out a specific student for an answer. By doing this it gives all students a few seconds to think about a response and then by selecting a random student to answer the question it has the potential to involve everyone in the class. I can personally say that this method has worked for me when my instructors have done this. If I was in a class and knew the teacher randomly called on students for answers, I would pay closer attention and also make sure I was prepared for the material prior to class. Maryellen Welmer gave several great tips on how to ask questions in her article Three ways to ask better questions in the classroom. One suggestion was to be prepared. Before classes, sit down and write out relevant questions related to the lesson plan. Flying by the seat of one's pants can often result in ineffective or unclear questions, but being prepared with the right questions can supplement a lesson plan making it more effective. Another point Maryellen made was to take notes on which questions worked the best and rethink the ones that didn't. By doing this, the questions can become very effective over the long haul.

Overall, asking the right questions and asking them in the right way can be the difference between students gaining knowledge or daydreaming about football practice after school. By using open ended questions, specific questions, eliminating general questions, and being prepared before hand to do these things a better learning environment can be created. It will take effort for both teachers and students, but taking the first step as a teacher can get the ball rolling.

neon question mark

Project #8 Book Trailer

Humpty Dumpty

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Blog Post #5

How can iCurio and Discovery Ed Be Used Effectively In Your Instruction?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Project #5 C4T#1

The Church Task Believers by Ira Socol

In this post Ira talks about multitasking, mostly with regards to education. Ira addresses the topic of multitasking as being "human" and "functional", not as a problem. Ira talks about how multitasking with things like phones and computers can be a good thing if used as effective classroom tools. He explains that when these things are used as educational tools then not only will students be attentive (because they are truly interested in phones and computers) they will also learn. By doing this, positive resourceful multitasking enters the equation.

My comment to Ira

I really liked the fact that he uses phones and computers to hold the attention of his students, and also uses them to effectively teach. I especially enjoyed reading his views on PowerPoint use. Ira said it is very arrogant to assume as a teacher all students will be exclusively focused on a PowerPoint presentation, and not multitask (play on their cell phone / electronic device). This really hit home with me considering boring PowerPoint presentations have been my arch-enemy in my educational career. There is nothing else that gets me to multitask away from lecture than a boring PowerPoint.

The system design is not our fault. Its perpetuation is our problem by Ira Socol

Ira dedicates this post to the flawed educational system. He starts off by saying the system we still have in place is designed to fail most students, produce laborers, keep the separation between socioeconomic classes, and to make sure the power structure in place isn't questioned. Ira explains that teachers are given many ineffective tools such as out of date textbooks, old equipment, classrooms that are unsuitable, and goes on to say changes are needed. He said being in a teaching situation with these faulty tools isn't the teachers fault, rather the responsibility of the teacher is to fight for change. Ira cites examples of the failed system by offering the names of high school drop outs like Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers. He concludes his post by encouraging teachers to question and doubt everything. By raising questions one can start the process of change.

My comment to Ira

I really think Ira did a great job of presenting his argument. He used several visual aids (videos and educational slides) in his post that contributed well to his points. Once I started reading I was interested until the end. I thought his use of Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers was spot on. All three of those individuals were innovators and great minds of their time and they accomplished their success without the educational system. This highlights some of the flaws the system has. I really liked the way Ira encouraged teachers to question everything. Critical thinking can lead to great innovation and change in the educational system. Asking the right questions is what powers critical thinking.

road sign with the word change on it

Blog Post #4

Why Podcasts? How do we do a podcast?

Doing a podcast can be a great educational tool in the classroom. So, how does one go about doing it? A computer audio recording program such as GarageBand is a great place to start. GarageBand was used by a first grade class, detailed in Langwitches Blog, and it sounded great! The class came up with a theme for a podcast and then brainstormed on how to put it together. The teacher individually recorded the students' voices and edited the recordings to fit together for the podcast. Another important key to making a podcast is sound effects. Sound effects not only lock in the flow of a podcast, but they also help hold the attention of the listener. Video podcasts can use the same tools as audio podcasts with the added element of images. The proper images can work hand in hand with audio to create the proper flow of the podcast and hold the attention of the watcher.
student podcasting with earphones on

Why should podcasts be used in education? This question is eloquently answered in the video Podcasting In The Classroom by Doug Saunders. Doug advocates that podcasting is a special educational tool. Several things Doug touched on in the video stood out to me. The first is how podcasting can be a resourceful tool for children who are sick. If a child is sick and is unable to make it to class they could easily fall behind. By posting podcasts of important activities / lectures the child has a much better chance of staying up to date. I really liked this idea because it is so practical. Sickness is unavoidable and can come at the worst times. Having this kind of resource can alleviate a lot of stress for students. Another great point the video made was how mobile a podcast could be. By having the podcast available to download on many electronic devices students could access it anywhere. If a student on the football team had to miss class for an away game, then they could download the podcast and watch it on the bus ride to the game. Overall, podcasting is a great educational tool and resource. Whether one uses podcasting for absent students or for a classroom activity, it can enhance learning for all students.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blog Post #3

Peer Editing

Staying positive, giving detailed suggestions, and making the proper corrections were the main themes of the peer editing videos assigned. A big thing that stuck out to me while watching the videos was the approach of staying positive. Peer editing can be a touchy process, but staying positive is a great way to alleviate some of the stress of it. I can personally attest to being raked over the coals by negative peer editors, and I immediately became defensive.
a road of people waiting to tear into the editing process
Once I was on the defensive, I starting thinking about responses to my peer's "unfounded criticism", and the learning part of my brain shut down. In the end, I didn't get anything out of the process except a bad attitude. If my peer editor had taken a more positive approach ( and maybe a little more maturity on my part) then I wouldn't have been defensive and could have been open to learning from my mistakes. Some of the same situations happened with a few of my teachers throughout my educational career, and that just motivates me even more to stay positive with my future students.

Peer editing my group-mates was great practice. I have to give a shout out to my two group members Eric and Cameron for having some great insight so far on the topics we have covered in the class. I chose to e-mail both of them after I peer edited one of their posts. I chose this method because I feel like the process of editing another's work is best done privately. If done privately I believe one can make a more personal connection with the person they are editing. I feel like it can be more of an informative discussion between the two parties, rather than a public display of what the writer did wrong.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blog Post #2

Mr. Dancealot Video by Cameron Hall, Eric Merryman and Ronald Griffin

Two mice dancing
I believe in the “Mr. Dancealot” video, it clearly shows that technology is not always the best choice for teaching. Teaching dancing just through use of smartboards and powerpoint presentations isn’t what will have students learn how to dance. An easy example of how this didn’t work is the amount (about half the class) of students that were asleep in the lecture. Certain subjects require teaching in different ways. The way this teacher chose to teach may have been ok in learning the history of dance, but not learning how to dance. The little physical instruction the professor did give was behind a desk where the students couldn’t see anything. This highlights the inappropriate setting the class was held in. Most students are hands-on learners so a video showing them what to do wouldn't be effective as an in class instructor.

Teaching in the 21st Century by Cameron Hall

According to Kevin Roberts video Teaching in the 21st Century he believes that it would involve students being able to reach their work anywhere anytime and through every technological port available, such as google youtube facebook twitter. But he also wants them to understand the material, analyze it, communicate and collaborate with information retrieved. The main question he asks is if curriculum should be based off of facts and content or skill? I agree that it be a combination both. It be facts and content and skill based off of that. I completely agree with notion that teaching in the 21st century would strongly involve and encourage almost entire use of technology as a greater tool inside and outside of the classrooms. As an educator I think it would be a asset to everyone in the classroom; teachers, students and even parents. It give everyone alternative way to understanding interpreting material. I think it make overall classroom a better learning environment for everyone. It would give teachers a way to evolve into the technological world that our society is towards. For students, it allow them to see another aspect of how technology they are so accustomed to presents another aide to them. For parents out just simply another way to become involved in their child' education. I agree with Kevin Robert's position. It says teachers teaching in the 21st century is a better way for classroom evolve the students.

The Networked Student by Ronald Griffin

The Networked Student was a true story about a 21st century high school student. The story revolved around a certain class he was taking and the format in which it was being taught. The format was called Connectivism, which is based on learning from various connections from people mostly from the internet / social media. The student met with the class three times a week and two other times via the internet. The class centered mostly on the student going out and finding reputable connections to strengthen his knowledge on the subject matter. These reputable connections included scholarly articles, college level podcasts of lectures in his subject area, and other information compiled by current and former students. The teacher of his class was mostly there to help the students along with the process when they got stuck, not for lecture purposes.

There are several things I like about this kind of education. The first thing is the acquisition of research skills. By having to search for connections in his subject area he will gain a lot of experience in research. Having a solid foundation in research is important in many factions of life, not only in higher education but future careers as well. Another positive point about this article is the use of technology. The class is based on technology and acquiring this skill has advantages. One advantage is the fact of technology and research going hand in hand. Using technology in research can yield much more powerful results than not using it. Another great thing this education style uses is people connections. Part of the story included the student making a connection with a documentary filmmaker. This connection led to the filmmaker Skyping with the whole class.

There are also a few things that I didn’t care for in this educational approach. The first thing is only meeting three days a week due to holding class online for the other two days. I think on a high school level students should be in a classroom together the whole time. At the high school age students are really coming into their own on many levels and I think socialization is a very important one. Having face to face contact and having personal interactions with other students and teachers is very important. There is a big difference between sitting behind a computer and interacting with someone compared to doing it in real life. Getting along with, working with, and even joking around and having fun with other students is better in person. Another issue I had was the interaction of the teacher with the students. I don’t have a problem with the interaction as a whole, rather a few minor things. I think it is great that the teacher encourages the students to be critical thinkers and self motivators, but I feel lectures are a very important part of learning. Having the skill to listen and pick out important information from lectures is a rewarding skill to have. In most careers one will have supervisors that lecture in meeting type atmospheres. Having the discipline to be attentive and learn from those lectures may determine the quality of work one puts out. Learning these types of skills in the classroom can prepare one for situations like this. I think this goes hand in hand with the question of why a is teacher needed. Lecture skills can be provided by the teacher in addition to supporting the students in their own research / connection making.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts by Eric Merryman

According to Vicki Davis’ video “Harness your student’s digital smarts”, she taught her students by allowing them to teach themselves and to collaborate with one another and teach others in the classroom. It helps have students think independently and give them the drive to succeed. When she talks about empowering of the students, she is talking about the feeling of when a student figures something out on their own and they feel like they can take on the world and learn anything and everything. When talking about the subject of having students collaborate with other students in the world, I believe generally that is a good idea, introduces students to new cultures and ideas. However, specifically talking about students collaborate with other students in the world, it determines on the subject to see if it is a good idea or not, some subjects it is wonderful, other subjects it is not exactly necessary, so generally good idea, specifically it depends. With the internet, it does not matter if one is in a rural area or not, everyone is connected. With the internet everyone lives in the same neighborhood and can casually skip on over to your blog or twitter or even youtube video. If you give the student the proper tools and with a little push, the student can harness their own digital smarts and impress and teach even the most advanced of educators.