Sunday, March 27, 2011

Smart Board Project

Community Service

I recently participated in the 100-1000 project organized by Restore Coastal Alabama. The project aims to create 100 miles of oyster reef in order to create "create the conditions needed to plant, support and promote more than 1000 acres of coastal marsh and seagrass." I attended two events, one on January 22nd and another on March 19th. I worked with other volunteers to pass bags of oyster shells down a line to the project coordinators forming the actual reefs. Spending a few hours doing this was extremely rewarding. As a teacher I would love to get my students involved in community service. By giving students the opportunity to create something useful for their community or help the people of their community we can improve their self-esteem and their respect for their community. A great place to get ideas for community service projects is National Service Resources. Alternatively students could get involved in charity projects. Such as adopting a needy school and organizing donation drives for the students.
For my skype interview I chose to interview my friend Kristi about Project Esperanza.

C4K 4

For my March 6th C4K assignment I commented on Tamati's blog. Tamati attends Pt England School in Auckland, New Zealand. The post I commented on was about how excited Tamati was about her first day of class at Tamaki College where she was taking a technology course. This was a very exciting time for Tamati's class because they had just received a set of new netbooks for their classroom. Here is what I wrote to Tamati:
my comment on Tamati's blog.

My second C4K assignment was the class blog for Melville Intermediate room 8. The students were given a photography assignment to take 5 pictures for each of the four themes they were given in 15 minutes. The themes were: library, around Melville, odd and students of MIS. The students then used the photos to create a slideshow with music using a program called photopeach. Photopeach allows comments to be posted directly into the video that show up as a credit roll at the end of the video. Here is my comment:
my comment on MIS room 8 blog

Blog Post #9

What I Learned This Year.
black and white photograph of a hand with the words: relax, stay positive, have fun and be happy written on the palm.
What I learned this year by Joe McClung is a reflection on his first year of teaching. I am so glad Mr. McClung wrote this post to share his experiences and help new teachers learn from his mistakes before we start our first year of teaching. Hopefully there are some lessons here we don't have to learn through experience.
The first piece of advice Mr. McClung gives is
"In order to be effective you have to be able to let your audience drive your instruction."
This is a great thing to keep in mind. If we really get to know our students we can form our lessons around their learning styles. By allowing our students to shape our lessons we are ensuring that the focus stays on their learning and not just on our ideas about how lessons should be put together. I think this goes hand in hand with his advice to "be flexible" and "listen to your students."
Another suggestion Mr. McClung makes is to be come a good communicator.
"...communication is one of the hardest skills to develop, so practice all you can and build those strong relationships with teachers and students."
This is something I hope I can remember to work hard at. Communicating is important, not only to create a sense of community with your fellow teachers and with your students, but also to attain the goal of continuous learning. You must be a strong communicator to build and maintain a meaningful personal learning network and attain the goal Mr. McClung sets out to "never stop learning". This idea is especially important now as technology is changing so rapidly.
Mr. McClung warns us not to be afraid of technology.
"Technology is our friend and is essential to living in our microwave society of today."
Embracing technology alone can help us to achieve the other goals set out by Mr. McClung. It can aid us in learning new methods of teaching to help those students who we are not reaching with our lessons, and it can help us feel connected to our co-workers and educators all over the world.
My favorite piece of advice in Mr. McClung's post was to be flexible.
"When things go wrong, simply work with it and try to better the situation.....and make sure you do it with a smile on your face!"
Attitude is everything. Just like Randy Pausch said, we have to make the decision to be an Eeyore or a Tigger. As teachers we have to be able to bring a positive attitude to our classes every day and the only way we can do this is to accept that sometimes things don't go according to plan and sometimes that's okay.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Discussions with Sock-rates.

This is a video I produced for EDU301. I created the puppet out of a sock, used buttons for his eyes, and yarn for his beard. I think this would be a great tool for introducing students to lots of historical figures in a fun way.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Post 8

This Is How We Dream.
Richard E. Miller
This video lecture was created by Richard E. Miller, an English professor at Rutgers University. Dr. Miller discusses, in part one of the video, the idea that we are at a pivotal point in the history of communication. We are on the brink of a fundamental change from communicating through mediums that are written and read to ones that are watched and heard. He starts with the shift from paper publishing to electronic publishing of printed texts. The main benefits of electronic publishing being that the information is more widely available, easier to access, and often more permanent. The next step in the evolution is purely electronic composition and distribution of information including text with video, audio, and pictures. This enhances the value of the information and makes it more interesting and more fitting to the way we actually communicate. Dr. Miller states that we are at a point now where we are able to publish on youtube and in forums such as wikis so that we are collaborating with people all over the world.
Part II of the series investigates what the future of communication and publishing might look like. Dr. Miller shared the work of Jonathan Harris who is creating amazing works with the internet as his medium. Dr. Miller talks about Harris's We Feel Fine. project. I'm finding that I lack the vocabulary to describe what this is. It's an aggregator. It's an art project. It's a statistics tool. Harris says that his goal is to make the internet a more human place. To make our technological future a future that brings us together in a world in which we want to live.
I was intrigued by Dr. Miller's hope of uniting the humanities with the sciences. Much like Randy Pausch he is working towards interdisciplinary collaboration. This seems like the way to get to this future of communication. We have to teach our kids to collaborate. We have to help them find their skills and learn to share them and mix them with the skills of their peers. By providing our students with classrooms where cooperative learning is encouraged we can provide them with so many more ways to express themselves and bring their ideas to life.

The Chipper Series is about a misguided EDM310 student's experiences and discussions with Dr. Strange. Chipper feels that EDM310 is too hard and requires too much self teaching. She drops out and tries several different careers none of which work out. She finds in the end that the requirements and work required in EDM310 are required in real life. EDM310 for Dummies is a commercial for a book that will help you make an "A" in EDM310. I think the book "EDM310 for Dummies" in the video represents the instruction manual for EDM310 and the idea is to encourage careful reading of instructions when completing projects.
If I were to make a help video for EDM310 it might be on the subject of proof reading. It would explain several different methods for proof reading and also explain the importance of proof reading when writing. The video would also provide resources for improving your writing such as the writing workshops available on campus.

Changing to Learn. Learning to Change.
yellow road sign with black print reading Change Ahead
This video is a discussion about the needed change in the way we educate our students. The people in the video view our current system as a system of educating where the teachers are the owners of knowledge and it is dispensed, in standardized doses, to students who are bored and uninterested. They feel we must create a schooling environment that provides a system for learning. In this system students learn to gather resources and then collaborate with others and share what they have learned. This change in education is required because there has been a change in our culture. What is important now is not what you know but what you can find out and how well you are able to put together ideas and create something new from the information you gather. What is important now is how well you are able to express your ideas and share the information you have found.

RSA Animate - The Secret Powers of Time
I love RSA Animate videos! This video is an animation of Professor Philip Zombardo's lecture on the effects of how we perceive time. The video suggests for educators that our students live in a fast paced, interactive world which they create and control. We then ask these students to sit and watch, for seven hours a day, someone talk at them about things they can't relate to. The solution to this is finding a way to make school interesting. Make school a place where students create things and understand why they are being taught math and science. A great point made in the video is that students are often hedonistic and want to do what is fun right now without regard for the consequences. Telling them that learning this information will be useful in 5 years is not enough to motivate them. We have to make learning the most interesting thing in the room right now.
RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.
This video is an animation of a lecture by Dan Pink about what motivates people. He discusses the methods of motivation that are effective in motivating people to think and create. The first motivator is self direction. People who are able to decide what they are working on and how are going to be more innovative and produce more interesting products than those who are constantly being managed. The second method of motivation is mastery or the desire people have to perfect a skill. People gain satisfaction from accomplishing things and improving their skills. The third motivator is purpose. This is the idea that people want to work on things they care about. In order to get our students motivated we have to let them find their own way, let them work on their skills and help them to find a purpose for what they are learning so they will want to come to class each day and do their best.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

C4T 2


In his February 16 post Experience Another Way to Vote Ira wrote about teaching students about different democratic methods. He suggested following the elections of other democracies. I wrote this in reply to his post:
Megan Simmons said...
Hi Ira,
I am visiting from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I will be posting my thoughts on a couple of your blogs on
my blog later this month.
I really enjoyed this post. I love how you incorporated different subjects. I think it is so important for our students to know about the cultures and governments in other countries and the definition of democracy especially at a time when so many governments around the world are changing so drastically.
His post Why is China Model Rather Than Finland. was an interesting discussion on how we, as a nation, choose our educational role models. I responded with this comment:
Megan Simmons said...
Hi Ira,
I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I will be posting my thoughts about your blog on my blog.
I so agree with your comment that we are attempting to emulate the education system of a place in which we would never choose to live. This cannot work because we are not them. It is not better or worse it's just different. Their system is based on a culture extremely different from our own. It simply will not fit.

Friday, March 4, 2011

PLN Progress Report

I have started my personal learning network! I built my network on symbaloo and have accumulated about twenty tiles. I love symbaloo. It is easy to work with, easy to learn, and very appealing to look at. However, I'm having trouble remembering to use it. I have gotten into a style of learning that is far less organized than the PLN and I tend to be all over the place. I think symbaloo is a great idea and I was so excited to have my resources all in one place. Now if I can just train myself to go there first. The biggest addition to my PLN that I have gained through this course is twitter. I have become addicted to reading tweets and then reading links that educators have posted in their tweets. I also love symbaloo for keeping track of blogs I want to keep up with. Each C4K and C4T assignment gives me a new tile in my network so I don't forget about them.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blog Post 7

Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.
a word cloud in the shape of an apple formed from the words in Randy Pausch's lecture
Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He created the Alice software project that allows creation of computer animations in a drag and drop form which is accessible for children. This video is a lecture about living your life in such a way that your dreams become achievable. Dr. Pausch certainly embodied this with his joyful approach to learning and his unfailing optimism.
"Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work."
— Randy Pausch
Dr. Pausch uses his experience with football to teach the importance of learning fundamentals. This can be applied to so many of the challenges we face as teachers. When we begin the school year we have to be sure that the students are performing at at least their grade level. If they start out without the skills to build upon they will struggle all year and it's very difficult to have fun when you're struggling to understand the instructions. He referred to learning about playing football as a "headfake". The headfake is one of my favorite ideas from the video. The idea is, that students learn one thing while they think they are doing another. This is a great way to inspire students to reflect and to discover on their own.
"When we're connected to others, we become better people."
— Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)
As a professor Dr. Pausch created a course in which students were put into several groups each semester and asked to create virtual worlds. He spoke in his lecture about the importance of learning to work with others. By allowing our students to work with others not only are we teaching them to cooperate but we are giving them a chance to help and be helped by their peers. If one student has skills that another lacks they can gain confidence and increase their own understanding of the topic by explaining it to the other student. Then at another point the roles will reverse so that each students is a teacher and a pupil greatly increasing the students' opportunities to learn.
"Find the best in everybody. Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you. It might even take years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting."
— Randy Pausch
I loved this quote. When we come into a classroom it is our responsibility to believe in all of our students. I think every teacher has that one student who is always acting out or shows no interest in our lessons or their work. We have to continue to work to reach these students. It is our job to figure out what motivates our students and not dismiss them simply because it is difficult to motivate them.
"Never underestimate the importance of having fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day because there’s no other way to play it." - Randy Pausch
I was so excited when Dr. Pausch talked about the Alice project. Teaching kids how to program while they are having fun creating stories is such an amazing idea. I think the number one responsibility we have as teachers is to teach our students to love learning. We have to inspire our students to seek out knowledge on their own and we have to give them to tools to find and use that knowledge.