Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Special Assignment

Joe McClung
Mr. McClung's World is a blog by Joe McClung, a teacher of eighth grade Arkansas History and Computer Applications. His blog is full of information and has several different types of media. There are videos, songs, links, and written posts. It seems Mr. McClung incorporates this style into his teaching as well. Mr. McClung uses a variety of teaching styles to reach his students. A major component of his class is cooperative learning. I think this is an excellent way for students to reinforce and think through the material they have just learned. As they become the teachers of their peers they are able to get an alternate view of the information and put it into their own words.
I was so fascinated by Mr. McClung's rules. The main thing I noticed about the rules is that they seemed to create an atmosphere of mutual respect. He respects the students and wants to create an environment in which they are able to share their knowledge. I think someone is doing something right when their class rules make you wish you were in their class!
The syllabus listed the first requirement as a day planner. I would assume this is to teach the students time management and self-direction. He notes that homework loses a letter grade for each day that it is late. Much like the penalty for late work in this class this type of system creates motivation for students to complete work on time.
I visited two links on Mr. McClung's useful links page. The first was convince me, a page that offers students the opportunity to practice their debate skills. I am adding this to my PLN. It explains the rules of debate and allows you to watch or participate in a debate on any topic you like. You can start a debate or join a debate started by someone else. I think this is an excellent way to teach students how to argue and discuss topics without getting upset. This would be a great tool to increase cooperative learning in the classroom. I also visited PDF to Word. While not as exciting as convince me, I was just really excited that this is possible. I always thought you couldn't turn a picture into a word file, or that it was terribly complicated. I can think of a hundred times when I've needed this website for classwork or personal use. This is why I love EDM.
Mr. McClung provides a good list of rules for internet safety. I like that the list is short. Too many rules about what to click and what not to and fifty other things you can't do is discouraging and it makes students likely to forget the most important rules. Mr. McClung gives just a few rules including, don't give out your real name, location, or personal e-mail. I like that he allows the students to use the class e-mail address for communications because it solves the problem of security without denying students access to this important tool. One of the best rules I thought was "Never respond to a threatening email or message." I think it's a very hard lesson for students to learn that responding to internet bullying doesn't solve anything.
The blog is divided into several categories into which Mr. McClung posts. I commented on the section "Race For The Cure". The posts in this section details the class's adventures in building a team and raising money for cancer research.
I was very impressed by the organization of Mr. McClung's blog. I especially liked the tools on the sidebar. The Dropshots application would be a really cool addition to my blog.I also like that he has added a song of the week. The blog allows students, teachers, and parents to know what is going on in the class. I really like the idea that parents can read the lecture notes and see the powerpoint presentations. I think this will go a long way in increasing parent participation.

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