Sunday, May 1, 2011

Project #16

For our final project my group decided to create a wiki. We wanted to create a place where teachers who wanted to incorporate tech into their classrooms could find tips on funding their goals. We worked together to start a discussion on where to find grants, how to write them, and also where you could get free technology for your classroom. I had a really great time working with my group all semester and I am glad we were able to keep our same group throughout. By the end of the term we have all learned to communicate well and work as a team to come up with ideas and follow through with them. I feel very lucky to have worked with the people in my group, I learned so much from all of them.

screenshot of our wiki page

Personal Learning Network - Final Progress Report

I love my PLN. I like building it and thinking of ways to make it stronger. I enjoy adding new tiles to my symbaloo page and finding new people to follow on twitter. I now follow 23 people on twitter. Mostly education related with a few comedians thrown in to lighten the mood in my tweetdeck. Twitter and the suggestions of who to follow have been one of the most important additions to my network that EDM has provided me. It is not only what the people I follow say but what they link to. I could spend hours following the links I find on twitter. I have also added a lot of new programs to my symbaloo PLN since my last progress report. This method of keeping track of things I've learned this semester is something I will certainly continue on with. I love following the blogs of the amazing teachers we have been introduced to this year. I'm very happy with the current state of my PLN and can't wait to watch it grow!

Comments for Teachers April

Russ Goering with his wife and son
Learning is Life. is a blog by Russ Goerend. Mr. Goerend is a 6th Grade Language Arts at Waukee Middle School in Waukee, Iowa. He also hosts a class blog for his students.
My first comment was on a post he wrote entitled Opportunity to Learn: EdCamp Omaha. In this post he describes his first unconference. I am definitely inspired to find my way to one of these conferences. The learning and networking possibilities seem endless. I love the free atmosphere that the unconference promotes. This is so much better than the traditional lecture because it encourages conversation and exploration of topics beyond the presenter's knowledge. This is what I wrote to Mr. Goerend about this post:
Hi Russ,
I am also a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I love that you and your students are using prompts to create daily poetry. It's nice to have a starting point in a project like that. I have heard a lot about these unconferences on twitter and have been wanting to learn more about them. Thanks for sharing your experience with us! This sort of collaborative learning is such a great tool for educators. It's always easier to learn new things if you can talk it through with someone. I'll be visiting your blog again next week and then posting a summary of a couple of your posts on my blog.
The second post that Mr. Goering wrote and I commented on was of a more philosophical nature. He discussed a student who didn't complete a project. His policy states that late work receives zero credit after two days. However, he is faced with a situation where he set a goal to teach through this project because the material was important for students to learn. Now, in sticking by his late policy, he feels he is giving up on teaching this student the objectives he had made for his students. Here is what I wrote to Mr. Goering:
Hi Russ,
I am visiting from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. You brought up such an interesting point in this post. How do we motivate students to turn in projects on time without ending up in a situation where the consequences for late work undo our goals. I think this is similar to the debate that has been going on in our school system in recent months. The school system does not allow students to fail and therefore requires teachers to allow make-ups and retests. What are the lessons we are teaching by not allowing students to learn from the consequences of their actions? Are the lessons they learn from negative consequences more important than the lessons we are testing them on? Thanks for the thought provoking post!
-Megan Simmons

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blog Post 14 - Special Assignment - Metaphors

diagram of a pencil with each part representing the ways in which people react to technology in the classroom

In blog post 10 we were asked to discuss a post on John Spencer's blog entitled Don't Let Them Take The Pencils Home. For this week's post we are asked to look more closely at the use of metaphor in John Spencer's blog and the world in general. While reading Spencer's blog for the first time I think there were a few reasons I knew it was a metaphor. First, maybe I'm the only one who's noticed, but, EDM blog post assignments tend to have a common theme. Writing a blog post on integrating technology every week for ten weeks straight leads one to believe that week eleven might have something to do with integrating technology. Second, taken at face value the situation presented in the post is absurd. I refuse to believe that there is a school that discourages the use of pencils in any environment. Third, there were explanations of the metaphor on the page. Located above the body of the post was a link to a post by Larry Ferlazzo where he discusses the study "Mr. Johnson" refers to in his conversation with "Gertrude". The study claims that students with access to computers at home will have lower test scores. You will also notice that, although the blog is written from the point of view of "Tom Johnson" with accompanying old timey photograph, the author is actually named John T. Spencer and you can read his bio. So, there are my reasons for believing this post was a metaphor.
What can I learn from this? In writing this follow up post I have had to examine my own thought processes. Dr. Strange has given those who understood a little food for thought in asking how we know what we know (a little epistemology!). I was very intrigued by this idea. I started with the metaphor and came up with the ideas in the paragraph above. However, I thought I should take this further. I decided to try an experiment and for the last few weeks have been trying be conscious of my grammar. I firmly believe that, in America, speaking standard English as your first language is one of the greatest advantages one can have. I grew up hearing and speaking standard English at home and I don't have to think of specific grammar rules to know if I'm using correct verb tense or sentence structure because I know how standard English should sound. Another part of this experiment is that I am the resident grammar person where I work. At least once a day someone asks me a question about their use of language. For the past few weeks, instead of just telling them the correct word or conjugation I have been going the extra mile and explaining the rule that makes that word or conjugation or pluralization correct. I have found this to be much more challenging. It is a part of my vocabulary that hasn't had much use since eighth grade. Luckily I sit next to my darling sister-in-law and between us we can usually work things out and call them by their right names.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

C4K April

Race For The Cure
I was assigned the "Race for the Cure" section of Mr. McClung's blog to comment on.
Megan Simmons Says:
March 31st, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Hi Mr. McClung!
I am one of Dr. Strange’s EDM310 students. I love how you introduce your students to such a variety of life experiences. These are the things they will always remember! Becoming responsible and caring citizens is such an important lesson to instill in children when they are young. I imagine they will be extremely proud of their contribution and that sense of accomplishment will encourage them to give and share in the future. I’m so glad Dr. Strange has introduced us to your blog so that we can draw inspiration from your classroom.

Mrs. Yollis
Mrs. Yollis's blog is an excellent resource for both students and their parents. By posting what they are studying and how on the blog Mrs. Yollis encourages greater parent participation. This month especially increases the family's connection with the student's education. Family blogging month encouraged comments from family members by providing instructions on exactly what constituted a good comment. Mrs. Yollis and her class expect substantive 3-point comments. Mrs. Yollis's students give guidance on how to produce a quality comment with the following tips:
"#1. Make a connection with who you are writing to. That is a great way to interest the person you are writing to!

#2. Try to add some factual information. That makes the person want to add some factual information. That way you can both learn.

#3. Lastly, you should always check your spelling and grammar before you publish your comment. We have learned to go on Microsoft Word and press the grammar and spelling tab under tools.

That makes a great 3-point quality comment.

You can also write a question so your writer wants to comment back."
Mrs. Yollis's class blog also provides instruction on how to include a little HTML code in your comments to make them more interesting. This blog was a really fun read I was really impressed by how well spoken her students were in their videos. These kids really know what they're talking about when it comes to blogs. I also learned some great tips on taking photographs!


Jaden is in Mrs. Yollis's class and is an excellent writer. The post I commented on for C4K was about a Clippers game he was able to see. I really enjoyed seeing Jaden respond to the comments on his blog. It is clear that he takes his blog seriously and wants to create a genuine conversation with his posts. Here's what I wrote:
Megan Simmons said...
Hi Jaden,
I am in Dr. Strange's class and he assigned your blog for me to read this week. I am really glad he gave me your blog because you always write such great posts. I think you're a really exceptional writer. I specifically like how detailed your stories are. What is your favorite part about having a blog?

I have never been to a Clippers game or any basketball game. It sure does sound like a lot of fun! If I ever visit California I will try and make it to a game.

Thanks for letting us all read your blog and being such a good host. If you have some spare time you are welcome to visit my blog.


Blog Post #13

screen shot of the alex home page
The Alabama Learning Exchange otherwise known as ALEX is an amazing resource for educators. The first thing you notice about ALEX's home page are the eight large boxes. Each one stating a section of the website and acting as a link. The first box is Courses of Study. As the title suggests this button provides you with links to the ALCOS standards for each subject. Once you click on a particular course of study you are brought to a chart. The chart lists the standards in order of grade level and, in the left column, provides links to both related lesson plans and useful links.
The second button is for weblinks. This button brings you to a menu of link resources for teachers, students and administrators. There is also a button that allows you to suggest a link to the site. Clicking on the teacher web resources button will bring you to a new menu or assorted links organized into several categories.
The Professional Learning button provides you with a list of opportunities from grants to teacher training. One of my favorite sections of ALEX is the Podcast treasury. Podcasts are such an amazing source of information. I can't wait to really delve into what they have in this section.
I found this website to be an excellent resource for teachers. I would certainly be excited to use this to find training opportunities and grants. I think it would also be an excellent resource for students. Students would be excited to be assigned a podcast to listen to once in a while in place of reading a chapter out of their books.

access logo
The purpose of ACCESS is to provide students with a high quality education through distance learning. They achieve this goal by making high school classes available to all students in Alabama. They aim to create a more equal educational opportunity for students unable to attend traditional schools. In reading their mission statement I was impressed by the emphasis on the individual needs of students. Some students who do not succeed in the physical classroom may find that they are better able to focus in an online class. The classes offered are also more varied than those offered at many smaller schools in Alabama allowing students to better explore their talents. The classes implement video conferencing to connect students with their teachers. This is an excellent option for students who want more variety in their education or simply do not strive in the average high school environment.