Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blog Post 14

High school foreign languages teacher Jose Picardo has created a fantastic website, Box of Tricks, where he shares many great resources with other educators. His blog won the title of most influential blog of 2011 for educational blogs. There are so many links on his blog! He is connected to everything from Facebook to Flickr, YouTube to Diigo. He has links for tutorials that he has been nice enough to share with us for SMART Boards and podcasts. There are must-have internet tools and informative websites that discuss blogging in education. He shows how to make wikis and how to use social networking in education. His I teach therefore you learn... or do you? video was outstanding. This was an all-around great blog. I started following him on Twitter and Facebook and he is now part of my PLN!

box of tricks logo

One thing in particular I thought was really cool was the ToonDoo comic strip creation program he suggests. He uses it to teach Spanish vocabulary lessons. He also suggests Animoto, a slideshow program. Both of these sites could be very useful in the classroom, but he admits problems with both programs, which I really appreciated. Everything in technology is not great, so it can be helpful to tell others what does not work for you and why. For instance, he gives a tutorial on how to download Audacity and Lame to make podcasts. I tend to lean towards making a video rather than a podcast. I think podcasts are too bland. Many students are visual, myself included, and there is no more work involved in making a video than a podcast. The most useful link in his blog had to be the A - Z resource guide. After checking out some of the sites on this list, it appears you’d have everything you need to be a technologically savvy teacher. He definitely is on top of technology. I was glad to be introduced to this blog.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Post 13

wolfram alpha diagram

I chose Option 1 for this assignment, which was created when a former EDM310 student wondered how much the population of China had grown in the last three years after she viewed the Did You Know video. Dr. Strange told her to look up the answer, and she did this by searching the WolframAlfa website. To answer this question, “How much has China grown in the last three years” I looked up the population of China in 2008 and found there were 1.31 billion people. In 2011, the population of China recorded was 1.37 billion people. Upon searching “Population, China, India, United States,” I found that China has the largest population with 1.35 billion people recorded, India is next with 1.21 billion and the U.S. is home to 309 million. Charts and graphs at the bottom of the page showed more interesting information, such as population growth per year, median age and life expectancy. You may be happy to know the U.S. has the highest age life expectancy at 78 years of age; however, that is only 50th in worldwide rankings!

For my personal search, I wanted to find out about crime in Mobile, Alabama, compared to crime in the United States. I searched “crime, Mobile” and “crime, United States,” and found that in 2009, Mobile had 6,547 crimes per 100,000 people, where in the total United States, 3,466 crimes per 100,000 people occurred. This equates to one crime being committed per person every 15.27 years in Mobile, and one crime per person every 28.86 years in the whole United States. Total number of crimes in Mobile for 2009 were 16,117. Total number of crimes in the United States in 2009 were 10.64 million. I have to say, I was shocked by these statistics. It’s a little frightening to think about.

Now to answer the questions posed in the assignment...
1. No, I did not know about WolframAlpha, but I like it!
2. No, I did not know about Google Squared, but I wish I had known about it before it was shut down.
3. The percentage of the population of China (1.35 billion) that is the total population in the United States (309 million) is 22.89 percent. Maybe the question is worded the wrong way though, because when I type the question into Wolfram Alpha, it gives me 439 percent.
4. Again, the question may be worded incorrectly because the percentage of the population of India that is the total population of the United States is 393 percent, according to Wolfram Alpha. But when I calculate it, I get 25.54 percent, which of course is the most logical answer, as the population of the U.S. is only about a quarter of China’s or India’s.
5. I think the facts in the Did You Know video were useful and attention-grabbing. They make me feel like such a small particle on this planet. They make you look forward to the future, to how much we will grow, in both population and technologically. The facts in the video also make you realize how we are, or how we can all be, linked together by the internet, radio, television, text message and by other technological means. The information is this video is staggering, and the figures continue to grow.
6. I think the Wolfram Alpha site could be very useful for students, especially when trying to find statistical information or for solving math problems. I personally had trouble finding answers to questions I was curious about. For instance, I could not find any information about teacher salaries or crime statistics in China or India. I also found that you have to word your questions right and at times you may get conflicting results. This is still a great site to use. I spent hours asking questions! You definitely have to check it out for yourself. But for some questions, Google remains the go-to guy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Progress report on Chartres Cathedral's FINAL project

Our group, Chartres Cathedral (myself, Sara Stewart and Vicki Nelson), has chosen to do our final project on how to work with green screens. We decided to do this because one night, lab assistant Elizabeth Brooks was kind enough to offer a green screen class to EDM310 students and no one showed up! She was so disappointed, as she had gotten off of work early to come teach this class. We are hoping to get help from Elizabeth in making a video showing how to use a green screen and how it can be used to teach.

girl standing in front of green screen

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Special Assignment #1 - Why We Use Metaphors

After many classmates did not understand the metaphor in Larry Ferlazzo’s Don’t Let Them Take Pencils Home, Dr. Strange has asked us why it is that some students don’t get metaphors. Metaphors are, according to, “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” In Ferlazzo’s blog post, he was clearly comparing students using pencils to students using computers. Using this metaphor made the post funny, but it also made you think because saying students can’t use pencils sounds outrageous and gets your attention, much the same way saying students can’t use computers should sound outrageous and get your attention. Using the metaphor allowed him to use the joke that if students brought pencils home, they will only play hangman with them. This was important because a major concern for some parents and administrators is that students will only play games on the computers. He justifies both scenarios by saying he tries to keep them busy with work and exploring his lessons, but even if they do play Hangman, they will probably still learn something from it.

Another metaphorical post we were assigned to read and comment on that many of our classmates didn’t understand was Scott McLeod’s Don’t Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please? He sarcastically says not to let your students or children use technology because of all the dangers out there, the security concerns and predators that may be online, and to lock down cell phones and computers. He then turns around and says that he is letting his kids use technology and “we’ll see who has a leg up in a decade or two.” His use of sarcasm really got your attention and made you think. That’s what metaphors are supposed to do.

A couple of examples of the usage of metaphors in history and literature that I immediately thought of come from the Bible. John 7:37-38 says: On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” He is not offering people water or Gatorade! He is offering them knowledge and a way to get to heaven so they will not be thirsty for salvation. The living water that will flow from within them refers to the Holy Spirit, that knowledge and righteousness inside them. Another metaphor in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 10:4, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” Obviously, Jesus Christ was not made of stone. He was a man, but he was so strong and so solid, he symbolizes our foundation, a rock on which we are supported. Jesus used parables to teach, much like we use metaphors to teach, because it gets our students to think on a deeper, more conscious level.

As for Dr. Strange’s question, I don’t know why some students didn’t get the metaphor, and honestly don’t know what would make them get one if they couldn’t see the sarcasm in Ferlazzo’s and McLeod’s posts. Maybe it is the way they were taught. Maybe they are too serious about this class to see any humor while learning. Maybe they weren’t exposed to metaphors or satire before, such as Jesus’ parables. Hopefully this class will open their eyes to this important literary figure of speech.

cartoon drawings of metaphors

C4K #10 Part 2

I was assigned to read day 291 of Mrs. Yollis' 365 blog project. In September, Mrs. Yollis received the Teacher of the Year award in her Los Angeles school district. One reward she received was a MobiView, which is an interactive white board. In honor of this great achievement, Mrs. Yollis was asked to give a speech to the 1,100 school district employees. She said she was very nervous, but luckily she happened to be seated next to a guide dog. She was comforted by petting the dog. On her blog, she asks if readers have ever seen a guide dog on duty and asks how a guide dog can help someone. I congratulated her on such a prestigious award and answered her by saying yes, I have seen a guard dog on duty and I listed a couple of websites about the duties a guide dog can carry out: or

teacher petting a guide dog

C4K #10 Part 1

teacher and students using a computer together

Mrs. Yollis’ class blog is the best I have seen so far when it comes to class blogs. It is packed full of information and links, facts, activities, podcasts, videos and interactive educational programs. Her blog was extremely busy. It was as if everything stood out to me, not just one or two interesting things. There is a link to a how-to wiki she created for teachers wanting to start their own blogs. There was a video about how to Skype and many pictures of her class doing all these things. There were links to classes all around the world that she has interacted with. You could easily spend hours navigating her blog and not see it all or get bored. Two other things I really liked on her blog were the RevolverMap visitors counter and Neo Earth widgets. I also liked that comments left by other people were lined up on the right side of the screen for readers to see as they scroll down. Everywhere you looked, from left to right, top to bottom, there was something to read or a picture to look at or a link to click. You can see Mrs. Yollis works hard on her blog and really puts a lot into it on a regular basis. She is really dedicated to blogging and to her students. I was surprised to see some familiar names at the bottom. Her class has corresponded with Jarrod from Australia. I remember reading Jarrod’s post about Skyping with Royce and I see now that Royce was a student in Mrs. Yollis’ class. I also noticed she has had a little over 72,000 visitors to her blog where our class blog has almost 49,000. Another big thing I noticed is that she is PROUD of her students. She is always posting their work and praising them for their efforts. This is something I would like to see more of on the EDM310 class blog!

The one link I found most beneficial was Mrs. Yollis’ class website. Like her class blog, this website was jam-packed full of valuable information for parents, students and other teachers. On the home page, she encourages students and parents to explore all the links together and smartly advises parents to monitor their child on the internet. This website was so useful for her class. One page I was already familiar with (and grateful for) was the HTML code page. She gives homework on this site, spelling, reading, social studies and math lessons, class movies, news, search engines, typing games, parent information and other useful items. It was organized really well. You could click, for instance, on the “money and time” link and it takes you to a great math website where you can play one of many games that will help you learn to count money or tell time.

I found Mrs. Yollis’ blog and website fun, interesting and extremely beneficial for her students and their parents. Other teachers could learn from this. It makes me wish my child’s teacher had a blog for us parents to visit. It would help keep us organized at home and allow me to see what my child is learning in class every day. I think that would help me tutor her or even give her a head start on what she needs to be learning. Her blog and website have convinced me to keep an active blog going when I get my own classroom. She did a really great job for her students. I will be a frequent visitor to her site.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blog Post 12

Our assignment is to create and carry out an assignment. Cool! After conferring with my first grade daughter about education and technology, I decided to share the wonderful world of Wii in the classroom with my fellow students.

teacher and students using wii in the classroom

So here is the assignment:

Read Wii in the Classroom by Patty Murray. Explore all the links provided in the blog post. Leave a comment. Write a paragraph about why you think using a Wii in the classroom is a good idea. If you have reasons why you think it is not a good idea, write about those concerns too.

teacher and students using wii in the classroom

My Summary
I had no idea there were so many benefits to having a Wii in the classroom. I think Patty Murray did a great job of convincing a teacher to consider using the game system. There are many educational games to help children in all grade levels learn, such as Jump Start and Reader Rabbit games. Even lists its review of the best educational Wii games. The fact that you have to stand up and move around to play the Wii is another plus, as it promotes being active. The white board could even be used at some schools where they cannot afford more expensive interactive white boards. She even shares a way to donate a Wii system to schools in need. She did a great job writing this post and has shared some valuable information with teachers and parents.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Project #7 C4K October

In the month of October, I was privileged to read the blogs of several students and comment on them. Children never cease to amaze me! It is wonderful to see a child learning and participating, benefiting from peer reviews and comments from around the world. I have to say, I am always impressed by the students’ blogs. They put in pictures, links, RSS feeds, maps and other visitor-tracking counters like we do here in Dr. Strange's class. I have to give kudos to their teachers for giving these students a jump start in technology at such a young age.

The first student I will tell you about is a second grade student in Ms. Morris’ class at Leopold Primary School named Jarrod. He had a neat blog post about water conservation and listed several ways to save water around your home. He asked how long we think it takes for the water cycle to complete. He thought it was one day. I told him I liked his answer, but I had found a different answer when I looked online, and shared a link with him about the water cycle. I also asked Jarrod if he would like to Skype with someone from our class. He replied to me and said his Mum was looking into it. I was happy to see him eager to do this.

The next young man I corresponded with was Joshua in Ms. Laburn’s class. The students in this class were very young, so there was no writing to comment on, but I told him i really liked the different reading and math games and other links he put on his site. I even let my daughter play one of the reading games and she enjoyed it.

Next I had Serenity from Mrs. Gregory’s class. This young lady had a blog post stating that she was in the hospital and was missing her teacher, her friends and science! Luckily, I saw on her class blog where the teacher had been listing assignments and posts about what the class had been learning. In this way, Serenity could keep up with what’s going on in class even though she can’t be present.

Then I viewed the blog of Noah. He was a young man of very few words who just started his blog. I told him his page was interesting and I really liked the magic 8-ball.

My last student was Lorenzo, a third grader at Pt. England School in Australia. He made an animated video of the Dublin Castle in Ireland. I think it is outstanding that an 8-year-old was able to do this. It’s amazing what children can do with the right teacher and right tools. Below is the still drawing of Lorenzo's castle.

These children are doing the same kind of work we are doing in our EDM310 class. You have to wonder, are these children advanced in technology, or (for those of us new to blogging) are we college students behind?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blog Post 11

Kathy Cassidy is a first grade teacher in Moose Jaw, Canada. In her class video, Little Kids, Big Potential, she shares pictures and video clips of her students demonstrating technology in the classroom. They are shown blogging, using the SMARTBoard, computers, Skype, DS games and digital video camcorders. This appears to be the ideal classroom. Her approach to teaching using technology in these ways is exactly what we are learning in EDM310. It makes you wonder, are you smarter than a first grader? In the next video, Dr. Strange and some of his students do a Skype interview with Mrs. Cassidy, where she discusses the use of technology in her classroom and what we saw in the first video. She explains all the aspects of having kids online in class, from safety to the benefits of learning on the web to the benefits of a class blog to parents.

teacher and students in class using computers

I can see myself using all these methods of teaching. I already use the computer to show my daughter interesting educational websites. We play games together on the computer, on her DS and on the Wii. She has a Wii in her classroom. She also has a SMARTBoard in the class, which we are currently learning how to use in EDM310. I am certain I will be using those things in my classroom. I also think Skype would be useful. Any time you can share technology with children, they are learning two things at once - technology and the lesson at hand. One impediment I might encounter would be a lack of funding to do all the things I want to do. Fortunately, much of what I would do in my class is free, such as Skype, blogging and the internet. Most classrooms in Mobile County are equipped with SMARTBoards and some computers. If we wanted more computers in the classroom, we could have a special fundraiser or ask parents to chip in or help find sponsors. That leads me to another potential impediment - lack of parental involvement. The way to get through to parents is to show them how technology is important. For instance, show them the class blog and the posts their children have made. Show them math games on the internet or ways to look up answers to science questions. This will encourage them to get on the computer with their child at home. So besides getting parents involved and simultaneously learning a reading lesson and a computer operation, another benefit of using these methods in the class is that students will help each other. When one child “gets it,” he will be excited about what he has learned and be eager to show the next student how to do it. By that child teaching it to the next, he is also reinforcing what he has learned. It’s a win-win situation.