Sunday, October 30, 2011

Project #3 C4T#3

For the last two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure to read Ms. Gret’s "Blog 4 Edu" posts. In the first blog, "Finding My Voice," she talks about a period of several years where she had writer’s block. As a lover of writing, this block made her feel as if she had lost her “inner voice,” and could not express herself. Incredibly, after working on her PLN, blogging was what pulled her out of her block! She began by commenting on other people’s blog posts and was asked to write a guest post by someone she admired greatly. She did so, and then was able to start writing her own. Not only is she grateful to have found her “voice again,” but she says blogging has helped her as a teacher because “my classroom walls have been knocked down thanks to blogging.” She interacts with teachers all over the world and says blogging connects teachers and students in an “immensely enriching way.” My response to her was that I have also gone through periods where I had writer’s block and, after having been introduced to blogging, I can totally see how blogging has inspired her and allowed her to be able to write again. Blogging is significant for students and teachers alike and it benefits each of us in different ways.

cartoon of Shakespeare at computer

In Gret’s second blog post, "Kids Motivating Other Kids to Blog!," she expresses her excitement about her students’ excitement over blogging. She says they were completely engaged in this activity and lists several comments made by students about blogging. You can see by the students’ comments that they love the freedom they were allowed to have in the blogging assignment. They were permitted to write about what they were passionate about, various topics such as rugby, music and our country. Gret deems this as one of her “most inspiring moments as a teacher” because her students were teaching and encouraging each other. My response to this post was that I don’t think all parents and teachers realize how beneficial blogging can be for students (and for teachers) and that it is important for educators to spread the word. I said that receiving feedback has been a positive experience for me and for the younger students I have had the pleasure of corresponding with. It can be challenging to get a child excited about something, but receiving compliments and constructive criticism on their blog posts is rewarding and educational. I will certainly make blogging a large part of my teaching method!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blog Post 10

Let me start off by saying that I liked the video, "Do You Teach or Do You Educate?" As a student who has made only a few videos, none of which I am especially fond of, I know he put a lot of time and effort into making this 3 minute video. It was educational and made me really think about the difference between teaching and educating. I liked that the video gave several definitions of the word “teach.”

The definitions he gives for “educate” are extremely important aspects of being a teacher, but I honestly feel like we need to teach and educate. Students may not have anyone else in their lives to empower and inspire them, so a significant part of our job working with children includes mentoring them, showing them how to learn and being an example of how to live morally on top of presenting the necessary curriculum in the classroom. So, I suggest we teach and educate our students. We need to give them the information but also show them what to do with it and how to do research on their own.

Scrabble game letters spelling educate

In the next assigned blog reading, Dont Let Them Take Pencils Home, several topics were presented. Each of these topics combined makes for an inadequate teaching style. This is the old method of teaching and we have to change it. The first thing I will address is testing. We use tests to measure learning. But do tests really measure how much a child has learned? Is the student truly learning all there is to know about a particular subject or just what will be on the test? What about the really intelligent students who just happen to be terrible test-takers? I don’t think standardized tests are fair because each student learns differently and the tests cannot always make an accurate measurement of how much a child has learned.

Next, the author, teacher Tom Johnson, talks about students taking home pencils and paper to do work with. Of course he is really talking about using computers to do schoolwork with. Here he addresses the fear many parents and educators have with students using computers. Many people worry that students won’t do their work, that they will only play on computers. He compares this to playing Hangman with a pencil, adding that even if they do play Hangman, they are sure to still learn something. I agree with this. It seems that every time I turn my computer on, I learn something new, even from Facebook and Twitter. Computers give endless resources.

Another topic he touches on is how children in low income areas are marginalized and are not instructed properly on how to use computers. He says computers are marketed as entertainment for the poor. So, he suggests a parent program where parents are taught the skills that their children are learning. In doing this, we are helping teach parents and students, and making it possible for parents to help their children. Hopefully, this would get parents more involved in their child’s learning and motivate the parents and students to learn more on their own.

Until we get past the paper and pencil days, students will be left behind. It starts with us, the teachers, but we have to involve parents and administration in order to effectively change the old school method of teaching.

animal formation made of pencils

Like the pencil sculpture? See more at

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blog Post 9

This week we were to read two of Mr. Joe McClung's "What I Learned This Year" blogs.

I really appreciated Mr. McClung’s blog about his first year of teaching (2008-2009). He admits to making mistakes, such as focusing more on the delivery of his lesson than student comprehension. He says he tried to stay positive when lessons or activities didn’t go as planned and knew at times the way his lesson was taught would be different from the way he wrote it. He learned the importance of communicating with fellow teachers and students and to listen to his students and build relationships with them. He encourages us to “jump in head first” when it comes to technology and to never stop learning. I told him his article was very insightful from a student’s point of view.

first year teacher chart

Fast forward three years and Mr. McClung reviews his experience teaching in the 2010-2011 school year, coaching and becoming the computer applications teacher. He tells us that he has learned to keep students at the center of his decision making process and to be sure he don’t allow his professional or personal life interfere with his performance for his students. One thing he mentioned that I had not thought about was allowing the attitudes of colleagues to interfere with our outlook about new ideas and new ways to teach. We must keep an open mind for the sake of our students, even if it makes us an outsider. A seriously important point he made, that we are learning in EDM310 indirectly, is to “never touch the keyboard.” It is more beneficial to allow your students to put their hands on what they’re learning and let them struggle in the beginning because they will figure it out on their own and “excel in the end game.” Lastly, he instructs us not to become comfortable teaching, but to be “movers and shakers” in the effort to change education and exceed the demands of the traditional teaching format.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Project #12

Blog Post 8

In the first video I viewed, This Is How We Dream, Dr. Richard Miller discusses writing in multimedia. This video shows how our society is changing from a "reading/writing culture to a seeing/video culture." He says he grew up in a house full of books and briefly discusses the differences between using books and computers to read and write with. He says that now our “workspace is the desktop.” I agree, because everything I need at home is in my computer. I still have important documents on paper, such as the deed to my house and title to my car, but all the important documents I have created are on my computer. Recently, I even had legal paperwork sent to me via email from my attorney.

He explains that he wrote and published a letter about the Virginia Tech killings by computer, and did this “without stepping foot in a library.” One great thing about having documents in a computer as opposed to paper is that they, as Dr. Miller states, “live forever” online. You don’t have to worry about a document being misplaced or destroyed if it is online. This is very important in keeping accurate records for recording and preserving history. He says this is the process of “sharing knowledge infinitely.” He gives a great example of this with the media produced on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here, Dr. Miller shows us photos, audio and video files of Dr. King’s speech and important articles archived on one web page so they are easily found and accessed.

In part 2 of the video, he discussed more closely the academic usage of the internet. He pointed out how it takes much longer to publish a written piece of work in text than publishing it online. He discussed bots sent into cyberspace to record different data, for example, they used bots to find out what is the happiest city. I was impressed that he addressed issues such as inaccessibility of some educational sites, funding, class sizes and a lack of other resources necessary for his dream of media writing to come true. But he is confident that, with inspiring teachers and new resources and spaces, his ideas can be implemented in universities in the future. I agree that this is where our future is headed. I think I will be prepared to write with multimedia for my students. I already have experience with it at my job and with this class. I believe my high school and middle school students will already have experience writing multimedia by the time they are in my class.

student and teacher at computer

In Carly Pugh’s Blog Post #12, she suggests that students create assignments for Dr. Strange’s class. She does a great job of sharing ideas in her own personal playlist and gives basic guidelines for completing the assignment. I think this is a great idea. Soon we will be creating assignments such as these for our elementary to high school students, so why not create a worthwhile assignment for future EDM310 students? She definitely uses multimedia to write this post. The videos she shared made me realize that I haven’t saved any of the really great videos Dr. Strange has assigned us to look at, such as Did You Know? by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Jeff Brenman. I will make my own playlist and think about what kind of assignments I would give.

assignment list on computer screen

In The Chipper Series, a student talks to Dr. Strange about her work being late, the process of her procrastination and asks him to teach her so she doesn’t have to learn. Ultimately, Chipper drops out of school because of EDM310 (I wonder if this is a secret fear of Dr. Strange’s) and starts her own school for pilots, where students can spend as much or as little time in class and doing work for the class. Finally, after her school and other brief careers in various fields failed, she realizes she needs to go back to school and learn the right way, by doing her work and being on time. That is the primary message in this video. If you do things the right way from the start, like coming to class, doing your work and turning it in on time, you can save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary stress.

In EDM For Dummies, former EDM310 students talk about tutorials made by former students designed to help us understand and succeed in this class. I think it is very kind and helpful that students have made videos to share with new students on how to use Twitter, Skype and how to do other assignments in this class, such as the book trailers. I believe this should be continued as they have helped me on more than one occasion. I would like to participate in making tutorials for some projects in the future and was already thinking about the upcoming SMARTBoard project to do this. The primary message in this skit was to describe how there are many sources for help in understanding EDM310. Three students were kind enough to share their helpful blog, EDM310 for Dummies blog page.

book for dummies

The video, Learn to Change, Change to Learn featured educators who focused on how schools are growing technologically and how we need to provide teachers with the permission and resources necessary to educate children in this ever-changing world we live in. They mentioned how important it is for teachers around the world to connect and share with each other. One of the main points of the video is that the world around us is developing and it is up to us to make sure our students are developing along with it. They need to be able to find answers and solve problems on their own, know how to be sure they are finding accurate information and know how to share information with the rest of the world.

child in business suit with cup of coffee sitting at computer

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog Post 7

In “Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” the late, great Randy Pausch discusses ways to achieve your childhood dreams. The first step he makes in teaching us how to do this is by listing his own dreams. He told of attempts he made to achieve his goals, whether or not he succeeded in reaching his goals and why he was or wasn’t successful. Mr. Pausch made major points about life lessons in his lecture. One that stood out for me was that “Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.” I know from experience that reaching a goal can be overwhelming, but I continue because of how important I believe my goal is. The brick wall also separates the ones who really want their dreams to come true and those who don’t.

The virtual reality video of the bunnies made by Mr. Pausch's students was incredible! You can see it took a lot of work, skill and creativity to put that course together. The fact that it is growing globally shows that this is important technology to learn. It was of great importance to Mr. Pausch. He said, “I will live on in Alice.”

Pausch talks next about the role of parents, fellow classmates and friends, mentors and colleagues. We need these people in our lives to help support, encourage and inspire us to achieve and build upon our goals. They are there to help us and vice versa. Also, they are loyal to us, and as Pausch said, “Loyalty is a two-way street.” They need us and we need them in our lives to help achieve our dreams. Another extremely valuable piece of information he shared was “How to Get People to Help You.”

On achieving your childhood dreams, Pausch reiterates his main points. First, brick walls are challenges purposely put in your path to prove your own dedication to yourself and to your dreams. Next, do not grow weary in achieving your dreams. You may have to go through a lot of unwanted stress to get to where you need to be. Then, listen to your peers, to feedback, to criticism and use it and appreciate it. He goes on to give other important advice and he ends the speech with a compelling thought. He says that it’s not about how to achieve your dreams, but how to lead your life - by being honest and trying to do the right in everything you do. Lastly, he informs us, his audience, that this talk was not for us at all, but for his kids. Rest in peace, Randy Pausch.

Randy Pausch

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Project #10


Since beginning EDM310, I have been introduced to an enormous amount of information. Some of the technology we have used in this class I’ve had experience with, such as Skype, Twitter and YouTube, but much of it is new, like blogging, making YouTube videos and using a Mac. I have also been introduced via the internet to a multitude of educators and educational websites and have been offered a plethora of help, advice and tips enthusiastically. Luckily, I have also been given the means to organize all of this information. The best way for me to tell you the sources I use the most is just to show you my home page, which is my Symbaloo webmix (see below). It's basically my toolbox - I have to have it to work. The top four rows of websites I use nearly every day, at least more than three times a week.

Last, but certainly of greater importance than the tools themselves, are the people that have created and shared these tools, their stories, their students, ideas and innovative technology with other educators. Although I've only been in this class for two months, I already have an online community of technologically literate instructors who are out there making a real difference in teaching, trying to change the methods of teaching for the better. They are ready and willing to help, to share and to learn, and now I am part of this community too, eager to help, to share and to learn in return. Here are some of the people who have helped me, who have offered to help me, who I contact for help and whose Twitter, Facebook and blogs I read for advice or ideas:

From the EDM310 USA Student Aggregator, all my classmates, Dr. Strange and all the lab assistants are extremely helpful. I visit this site daily just to see my classmates' questions and the answers they receive. I have learned a lot from this page and always see quick responses. Also, the links the assistants created and put on the page make life so much easier (especially the coding - thanks for that Bailey)!

Two special classmates I have to mention are Sara Stewart and Vicki Nelson. We, Chartres Cathedral, were grouped together by Dr. Strange. I learned a lot while working with them on our podcast.

There are too many educators and technologists to name from Twitter and C4T blogs that I follow, but one teacher in particular made me feel very welcome to this online community and put me at ease when it comes to commenting on teachers' blogs. His name is William Chamberlain. After I was assigned to comment on his blog posts, he kindly responded to mine and told me to contact him any time he could assist me. Check out his blogs: Mr. C's Class Blog and At the Teacher's Desk. They really are impressive and interesting.

I know my resources will change and expand, but I think I have a really good start. Not only do I have several ways of discovering answers on my own, but I have plenty of people willing to share with me. Hopefully I've shared something helpful with you by showing you.

teachers sitting at computers together

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Project #3 C4T#2

For this assignment, I reviewed teacher Bryan Jackson's blog post, “Canadian Conversations,” where he discusses his homeland of Canada after meeting with several other esteemed educators at an Unplug’d education summit in Ontario. According to the “Unplug’d” website, participants enjoyed a weekend of canoeing, kayaking, biking, and having campfires, as well as networking, discussing education initiatives and peer editing. Mr. Jackson describes the landscape, the weather and touches on the history of his country in his article. In closing, he says he has been replenished and inspired.

In my comment to Mr. Jackson, I told him the education summit sounded like a great getaway, as well as a relaxing atmosphere in which to tell stories and share ideas with other educators. His description of Canada made you imagine beautiful views and shows how much he appreciates the landscape of his country. I also told him he made me appreciate the beauty of my own country and the history of its forests and mountains by the way he described and shows appreciation for his country, society and culture.

man standing in front of lake and mountains

In the next post, Bryan Jackson discusses Giulia Forsythe’s publication, “Why Doodling Matters.” He says Forsythe’s essay developed into “a visual essay” that promotes thinking in doodles. In this essay, autism and animal rights advocate Temple Grandin is quoted, “the world needs all kinds of minds.” Forsythe also explains that doodling leads to problem solving and sharing ideas and perceptions with others. There are a few other very interesting videos in this post where other educators discuss “Why ___ Matters.”

I commented that I believe people are most creative when we are expressing our feelings and ideas subconsciously. I have been taught in school to brainstorm ideas on paper, writing main ideas and writing subsequent ideas as my mind links them to the first point automatically. When we doodle, we are essentially brainstorming, only with pictures or drawings or even scribbles instead of letters and words. Our minds link a thought to a picture we’ve drawn so we can venture out even farther with more words and pictures. We can then share with others our visual thought patterns. I also enjoyed hearing the stories by the other teachers and learning about what they think matters most in the classroom.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blog Post 6

After viewing teacher Wendy Drexler’s video, The Networked Student, I concluded that I am prepared to teach a “networked student.” For decades I have used technology for entertainment, for work and for school purposes and watched it expand and evolve. It has changed the way we do almost everything. The websites, resources and other things that I have learned in EDM310 (and that I will continue learning, in this class and forever after) are showing me how to apply technology in the classroom in many ways. I know that it is important to stay up-to-date on new devices, software, any internet changes and popular internet sites, such as networking sites. As long as I continue to learn about new technology, I will be prepared for "networked students."

classroom of students sitting at computers with teacher at front using SMARTboard

Networking on the internet is a great way for teachers to share information, ideas and stories in order to help fellow teachers, students and parents. Networking with other educators allows us to learn from one another. Using networking sites, blogging, sharing links and other sites are a great way for teachers to share with each other. Not only is this beneficial for teachers, but also for their students, because they can pass new information on to their students and show them how to network on their own and become more independent when researching any subject or topic. On her blog, Ms. Drexler smartly comes up with a few potential obstacles and unknowns in implementing student networking in her upcoming middle school class. I am very interested in seeing a followup story to see how her students adapted to networking and how she was able use technology to teach science.

In the next video, Welcome to my PLE!, a seventh grade student gives you a brief tutorial of her Personal Learning Environment. I thought her PLE was similar to our PLN based on the different websites and technology used. The difference was, her blog was way more advanced than my own. I also liked the fact that she was allowed to put personal links at the top. This helps children and adults alike to be more comfortable at the computer. One major statement the student made, that I can definitely relate to regarding using technology to learn and to complete assignments, is that you have more freedom because you "can choose how to do it and when to do it." She goes on to give the answer all concerned mothers want to hear, "because there is so much freedom, you have the inclination to be responsible." This is what we are striving to become as professionals - responsible, technologically-literate educators. Therefore we must teach our students responsibility along with technology.