Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Post 16 Hope beyond Dreams/Reflections

I considered using the format that we used in the beginning to start of this post. But that wouldn’t show much of a progression would it? Then I realized I didn’t want to use it then either. Isn’t it funny how some notions don’t change, and yet the way we express them does. I was rebellious in our first post. I actually created a school, and didn’t summarize the Sugata Mitra or the blog post we read. Though I still followed the format we were given, and answered the questions like a good little student should. But what does this have to do with my reflection of the class? Well quite a bit actually.

When we envisioned our students in the beginning, they weren’t my focus. They were, but weren’t. I was excitedly looking at the future of my students’ education, a place that I hoped would one day exist. So in that aspect I was envisioning my students, just not within realities complex. The reality disappointed me. It was not my future students that disappointed me, but the confines that would bind them.

Now I have a slightly different view. This view is much more hopeful, even though it is less imaginative. Well, less imaginative for our generation of teachers. Our society has developed, and is continuing to develop in such a way, that the binds that I hoped to lift with my imaginary school, are being lifted without. My students will be able to experience things that will allow them to connect with others around the world, see math in action, and have access to all knowledge including literature, history, and science. Though I do like my imaginary school, it isn’t required to remove the binds. And I see my students in a different way.

First, my students will know much more than I could ever know when it comes to technology. My generation was the leader into this development, but we are falling behind. The latest trends are not geared towards us, and we must keep up with them regardless if we believe them to be practical or not. My students will be able to work a computer, Ipad, gaming system, and etc. And they will be able to do it faster than me. Though, I am thankful that I am not going to be as slow as the generation behind me will be.

I was supposed to be teaching math to high school students. But my convictions have changed. Though to what I am not sure. But I still hope to teach high school students in the end. This will be interesting regardless, for they will be the most apt at knowing trends. Within a few years all of them will have been blogging, googling, watching videos, playing on face book, their entire lives. It is almost scary to consider it this way. The good thing is, they will be apt to changing technologies quickly. This may be thanks to trends changing every six months, which is considered deplorable by many in past generations, but at least it is preparing them.

I don’t know the tools I will use, mainly because most of them haven’t been invented yet. That doesn’t mean I will scrap everything I have learned in this class. I will probably be using Google and its applications the rest of my life. Blogging may even remain main stream and current, but I suspect there will be a different form of it in the near future. One that is more up to date. I will probably use a smart board for a little while, but I’m certain in 5-10 years there will be something new. Technology is always changing, so why limit ourselves.

My classroom will still look, smell, and feel the same as I introduced it would. My students will see pictures of anime characters, puns, equations, famous art, and other students’ works every day they come into class. I will always have something that smells delicious and warm. It will feel homey. I hope to give as much one on one attention to my students as I can, and hope the setting allows them to feel comfortable and do their best.

I hope to be as lively and excited about everything as I am now. I hope to fill their brains in ways where they don’t even realize I’m doing it. I want to do fun projects that stick with them for life. And I hope they will be better people because of what I teach, as well as more knowledgeable.

I will still dream that my imaginary school will come to be. That one day we can enter a virtual world that allows us to touch, smell, see, hear, and taste things, and use that ability to connect with others and learn to our upmost potential. But in the meantime, we can still educate our students in a way that doesn’t bind them. The knowledge they can obtain is endless. So let us try to fill their brains with endless knowledge.

Just to clarify two things in the video. First, I hated how we learned in this class, not the class or material. And second, you can stay one step ahead of someone while still following them. Think of two people walking in a straight line one in front of the other. The person behind might be a step ahead, like their right foot may already be on the ground before the person in front of them has just lifted it. But beyond literal, we are able to direct our students, even if we are behind them. And that is how we stay one step ahead of them. I'm having trouble explaining it, so if you don't get it I'm sorry.

Blog Post 15

How would you describe color to a blind person? We don’t often think that some of the most basic things can be complex and difficult to describe. And yet, I can find no words to describe a color that would genuinely describe it to someone whom is blind. It is so simple that it isn’t.

Although this could be heavily contemplated, I don’t think it would be important to describe color to a blind person. They may not be able to see color, but they have other abilities that I would rather focus on. Rather than trying to constantly describe something almost impossible to describe to someone whom has never seen it, I would focus on what they could do. Color may be beautiful, but life is not dependant on it.

However, in our society there are certain things that we have made our lives dependent on. As unfortunate as it may seem for those who don’t have it, we run our society with money. Trillions of dollars are constantly being spent around the world. And money is the only way for us to get our basic necessities for life in this society. We need money to purchase water, food, houses, everything. And I’m certain it is much easier to describe money than it is color. But the fundamentals for using and spending money are math, and how would you describe math to a blind person?

At first I didn’t even notice how difficult this would be. After all, blind people do have a way for reading. But math is truly its own language. We may be able to describe things with words, but it is rare to work out problems simply with words. Math uses numbers, uses many different and ornate signs, has rules for order of operation, and etc. So how could do you teach it to be read?

The video Teaching Math to the Blind showed these complications and one of their approaches to handling it. The video introduced a board which allowed students to construct math equations, to feel and understand the importance of the placement of numbers, and speaks to them. I was very intrigued by this so I looked up another technology being used to help blind people learn math.

I found an article titled, New UAH technology helps the Blind Learn Math discusses the development of a computer program that allows math questions to be easily typed into a computer, and doesn’t require specific code. It is amazing the way our technology is advancing, and how it is helping reveal a world that was once almost indescribable.

iPad Usage For the Blind that was demonstrated by Wesley Majerus.
Written by: Jamie Baxter

iPad usage for the blind amazes me. Technology helps the vision impaired use a tool that people use that can see everyday.

In EDU 301, we had a blind artist come visit our classroom. His name was Ricky Trion. During his presentation he mentioned that he wanted an iPhone because of all the apps for blind people. He said there is one app that you can scan your shirt, and the phone will tell you what color shirt it is to help blind people get dressed.

This will be an excellent tool for me in my future classroom. If I have a student that can not see, this will be very helpful for them. The iPad would allow them to be able to listen to text I assign the children to read and many other things via the iPad.

Jamie found an interesting video titled Deaf Children Use Games Machines to learn in Schools. This was a news report in Birmingham Alabama showing where deaf students use gaming machines to help them learn a book. The children scan the book, and it plays a video clip about what the book page is about. This is a very interesting way to teach the students who are hearing impaired.

The Mountbatten. This video was created by The Florida School for the
Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, FL
Written by, Colin Richard

Life tends to be a series of routines. We tend to go about our lives with our blinders on and let the world happen as it may, as long as it does not interfere with our routine. This “bubble” can make people forget their are others that have a routine too, but has to be structured a totally different way. An example would be people who are blind. Even when we think about it and try to put ourselves in their shoes, the feeling can never even come close. After all, there is something about doing an experiment and knowing that when we choose, our lives go back to “normal.”

So, when dealing with technology that aids people with a disability, normally the inventors are people that can step out of their boxes and understand what the other person could benefit from. The “Mountbatten” is no different. Produced by Quantum Technologies in Australia, this device has become the upgrade from the traditionally used Perkins Brailler. This device can, in addition to the traditional keyboard, include memory which allows braille text files to be stored in much the same way as is done with a word processor, speech feedback allowing the user to listen to the text he or she has just typed or from files, and forward and back translation between text and braille. The Mountbatten can be connected to a printer allowing files to be printed as text, while a regular PC keyboard can be connected to the Mountbatten enabling text to be produced as contracted or uncontracted braille. Speaking of technology, this invention even has bluetooth, which can connect itself to one’s Ipad or Iphone. So, being battery powered too, it is easily portable.

As we can see, this is a wonderful tool for the blind, in any setting. However, not every student will have this piece of equipment, it is almost five thousand dollars. One can not, being a teacher, rely on the disabled student or parents, to provide all the necessary tools that will help that child. As an educator, we need to first take initiative. Find out what tools are used at home and see if we can use these items in our own classrooms. The student will benefit greatly if they use what they already know. The Blind Acces Journal is a wonderful website for any teacher that has a student with any form of visual impairment. After all, having the desire for the visually impaired, or any student with any disability, to succeed is the first and greatest step. Then the next step is how. This website gives that how.

In the end, students with visual impairments want to be viewed and treated like everyone else. So, in the classroom, let their routine of learning, become part of your routine of teaching. Now that is a routine everyone should follow!

Project 12 B

Blog Post 12

How Schools Kill Creativity-Thomas Leytham.

It is difficult to write a good summary for this TED talk simply because there wasn’t very much to it. I literally can sum up his message in two sentences. .

Schools were created to industrialize people and because of this they kill creativity. To fix this, we should stop stigmatizing the arts and promote the arts as equals. .

The rest of the talk was that of a poor stand-up comedian. I don’t mind jokes, but it was so constant that I found it obnoxious. They also didn’t circle into his message… lack of message. .

I didn’t learn anything from this TED talk, which is quite a shame. I’ve heard this repeated banter about how to fix schools numerous times, specifically how we need to stop stigmatizing the arts, and this was by far the simplest and worst regurgitation that I have ever heard. You know what is killing my creativity? Being told to watch videos about how school killed my creativity.

Changing Education Paradigms -Jamie.

Ken Robinson’s video Changing Education Paradigms was a very interesting video and agree with everything he said. I learned a lot from his thought about ADHD medicine and divergent thinking. .

I once was a daycare teacher when I was in high school, and there was a child in my class whom was on Ritalin. The days that his mother did not give him his medication, he acted out and was very hyper and disobedient. I did not realize then what the problem came from. I know that children when I was in elementary school did not have medication for ADHD, so there had to be another solution. After watching this video, it makes so much sense to me that children are bored in classrooms. They are smarter and more educated through TV, phones, and computers; they get bored with boring lectures. Children cannot concentrate when the teacher is lecturing on a chalkboard. They need to have fun things to learn and be more involved with 21st century tools for learning. .

I like the way Ken Robinson explained divergent thinking. He said, “Divergent thinking is not the same thing as creativity.” He explains that creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. Divergent thinking is an essential capacity for creativity. It is to see multiple answers not one. I learned a lot from this because it made me realize that my students in my future classroom are not all going to learn in the same way. I need to realize this when making my lesson plans, so I can accommodate for all my students. .

How to Escape Education’s Death Valley -Colin After watching this video, I know one thing for sure, I love Ken Robinson. His philosophical statements on education are spot on and right inline with my own. When I do a brief summary of this video, I will only reiterate in my own words what he states because I am really only echoing sentiments that I have held for at least a decade. So, let us not hesitate, let us just jump in. .

“Humans are naturally different.” He explains that even siblings are entirely different so why should we expect great things to happen in school systems now based on conformity. Well, the easy answer is you can not. The “No Child Left Behind” educational protocol has done just the opposite of its mantra; it has actually left behind millions of children because of a premise of a cookie cutter educational system of “learning.” A fundamental problem has become the de emphasis with subjects such as Art, the Humanities, and P.E.. ADHD has become a scapegoat for children falling behind as opposed to teaching methods being so boring that kids just want to fidget. Curiosity has almost died in our education. Lost are the days of exploring why as opposed to being spoon fed everything to make sure you pass the test. .

Which brings us to standardized testing. If we look at Finland, which scores tops in Math, Science and Reading, it is not because they solely focus on these courses, it is because they do not obsess over these courses. It is also because there are no standardized tests. Plus, there is not even a drop out rate. Which brings us to a few answers to why. First, education is about learning. Kids learn in these environments where their natural instincts are satisfied during the learning processes. Second, testing is not the dominant culture of education. Third, they support learning not obstruct it. Finally and maybe most importantly, teachers are just as highly regarded as doctors. .

“Humans are creative” so why not have Individualized teaching and learning. In this country we can not because we take responsibility away from the teachers. Bureaucrats tell us what is best and that is because there is not a high status in teachers. Teachers are put in a position where they can do the minimum, as long as their kids pass the standardized tests. Schools that are generally left alone to do as they please, tend to do better. They can see what they need to do, what needs improvement and what works with what they have. Dropouts have reasons too and most of the time the outside world engages them, right or wrong, a lot better than the classroom. We do need to create conditions where students thrive. Which brings us to his last and most poignant case in point. .

Death Valley, the driest place in North America, where nothing really grows. However, after a massive rare rainfall, the following Spring, flowers were everywhere. This synonym to education is when given the right circumstance, learning can happen where once education looked dead. .

So, let us stand together with people such as Ken Robinson and begin a revolution. Let us make sure that we will not stand for average. That we will not stand for millions of kids left behind. That we will not let bureaucrats from the top, dictate what the people in the trenches know. Let us stand up for our students, our kids and this country's future. Let us stand united in making teachers the greatest revenue this country has. .

Blog Post 11, 13, and 14 Critiques for Change


Blog post 14 was one of the more interesting topics for a blog post. I really enjoyed receiving this topic. The only problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something that was actually exciting and got us learning, and I had many ideas to pick from. But most of them were a tad tricky, and would have required ample amounts of time in the planning of them and then several hours in actually completing them. And the more I stalled in picking one, the more I realized I didn’t have time to do any of them.

By this time it was Saturday, and I was slightly distraught. I knew that 2 of my blog posts were going to be late as it was, and now this one wasn’t going to be imaginative. I wasn’t going to be able to show how this class could be run, and show the capabilities that our other projects and posts had been lacking. I considered copping out and just picking a simple topic and assigning videos to watch so that it would be done on time. But I hated that. It is simply the worst way to teach a large group of students. It’s boring, unimaginative, and ridiculous. If anything, the head-fake for this class should be, “We were teaching you How NOT to Teach.”

We have discussed project based learning so many times, and we have seen technologies that better help our students. But we have never done a real project in this class that centered on learning. And our blog posts are meaningless because they are far too structured, have too many limitations, are too restrictive to the imagination, and are simply regurgitated repeated summaries.

So the due date came, and I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what to write about, and I just couldn’t be a shill. I needed more time to do something great. Of course, then it was Thanksgiving week, and I got distracted. I was just glad that I finished blog post 15 in a timely manner, and had finished the final project. But I kept this post in mind. And after going over and over in my head what I wanted to do my post about I realized, there isn’t a critique for this class. Not a real one. I mean we get a small area on our final questionnaire, but that definitely isn’t enough. I have so many things I want to say, and I want others to see it, critique it, and let me know how they feel too.

So my suggestion is very simple. You need a post that critiques the class. Discusses the good and the bad, and gives suggestions on how to keep the good and get rid of the bad. And that is what this post will be about.

First I’m going to list posts that I liked, followed by posts that need improvement but were okay, followed by those I disliked. This is just to give you a direct layout, so you can scroll down to whatever you wish to read at any moment. The paragraphs on each subject will discuss why I felt that way about the project, as well as offer suggestions on how to fix them if necessary. So I will be discussing all 16 blog posts as well as all 16 of the projects in this post. So keep in mind, it may be a little long.

The good:

Project 1, Project 3, Project 8, Blog Post 6, Blog Post 14, Blog Post 16

The “I need a slight tweak”:

Project 12, Project 13/14/15, Blog Post 1, Blog Post 2, Blog Post 3, Blog post 8, Blog Post 10, Blog Post 15

The Bad/Major Fixers:

Project 2, Project 4/5/6, Project 7, Project 9, Project 10, Project 16, Blog Post 4, Blog post 5, Blog Post 7, Blog Post 9, Blog post 11, Blog Post 12, Blog Post 13,

The Good:

First, I want to define what I meant by good. Anything listed in this grouping not only had interesting or necessary topics, but also fit perfectly in line with where they needed to be, and also had the correct instruction to go along with them.

Project 1 was an essential aspect to us getting any of this together. I believe blog posting can be an effective way of showing our knowledge to the world when done correctly. Although many students may not agree with this, it is definitely useful for this class. However, that doesn’t mean I would implement it in every class. But for this class, it does prove to be useful.

Project 3 had very detailed instruction and allowed us to see the many uses of Google. I didn’t realize how useful these tools were, and had no idea they existed before now. I appreciated this information, and I liked that we used Google drive as often as we did. I amazed by how much more Google is than just a normal search engine.

Project 8 was my favorite project. A little difficult at first, but it was a lot of fun. I loved making the book trailer, and it was the most useful in introducing us to iMovie.

Blog Post 6 was a great blog post assignment. It is important to understand how to ask questions, and it was limiting to my creativity like others were. I have a fantastic story that goes along with my post, and found an amazing piece of art to go along side with it.

Blog Post 14 is probably the best blog post assignment. Its placement is perfect. However, it may not be the best if you change things in the manner that I hope you do. Other things might become more fun, and if the class doesn’t need too many changes, it may be difficult to do.

Blog Post 16 is perfectly placed. It sums up everything we have done in class, and it makes since to have a post like this. It may not be the most fun, but I would advice keeping it regardless of any changes you make to the class in the future.

The “I need a slight tweak”:

Anything in this section was close to good, but just needed a few tweaks. This may include placement of the assignment, specific parts of the assignment that should be adjusted, or a way to conjoin assignments.

Project 12 had a few issues, but it wasn’t a bad project. When teaching a hands-on technology, you need to have hands-on instruction. And for everyone to get the instruction they need, we really needed to meet in class for this assignment. I would have preferred to have done the entire project in class, and have videotaped it in class. I suggest that instead of presenting our project 13/14/15, that on the Monday we began presentations we do Part A of Project 12. And on the next day (or second half of class) we do part B.

Projects 13/14/15 were great ideas. But the instruction was a bit off, and the projects as a whole need some tweaking. I think they should all be collaborative and perhaps they should be divided into parts. They could be pretty intense to finish in a week, but if only part of it was due for the week, it lessens the burden. And maybe meet in class for project 13 just to explain it a little better. It was kind of confusing the first time around.

Blog Post 1 was a good blog post. I almost put it in the good section, but remembered a tweak that I had for it. The instructions for the blog post were a little restrictive. I suggest you make it less restrictive and let the imagination flow. Of course, I made up my own rules for the assignment anyways. But it was a little scary to do that. And I think it only makes since for the post to be how we would create a school. You can keep the realistic part in it. Just make sure to have the imagination part as well.

Blog Post 2 and 3 were not bad posts. But I think they need to be combined. I think Mr. Dancealot could be added to blog post 1 for contrast, and that the collaborative assignment for post 2 should be the assignment in post 3. That way there is actually discussion in post 3, and the group members get to know one another. I also suggest you play a game in week 2 that allows us to get to know our class mates, and then allow us to pick our group. I think the groups as a whole will be more productive that way.

Blog Post 8 should be kept, but it shouldn’t be collaborative. It also should encourage a little more creativity. It may need a different placement as well.

Blog Post 10 had an amazing video. I’m glad that you have this video. But I think that it needs to be in the beginning somewhere. I couldn’t write a summary because it was such a good video. I’m usually not stumped on writing summaries, but there were too many small parts in the video that just stuck out and a summary would have left them out. I suggest you play it in class in the third week, and discuss it in class. Or have the class write about how it affected their views on teaching as a blog post if there isn’t enough time to discuss it. Leave the summary part out.

Blog Post 15 was a great idea that wasn’t implemented well. I think this would be a good way to incorporate an off campus school tour, or an in-class meet up. The videos should just have been a way to prepare us for the assignment and get us in the right mindset. This post really got me thinking, but I would love to actually touch and feel some of the technology they describe and see what it is like. And the blog assignment could be how it felt, and what we learned from the experience. If you do it off campus at a school for disabilities create a questions list for the students and have them write about that experience. If you make it an in-class meet up, purchase some of the technologies in the videos you listed and have the students use them, but restrict them to using it the way it is meant to be used. For example, the technology that helps blind students use math, blind fold the students so that cannot see it and have them use it that way. The blog post should be about what they experienced, and what they learned from it.

The Bad/Major Fixers:

There were many assignments that needed to be removed or fixed heavily. And this part discusses those assignments and what I would do with them. But before I do that, I want to express what needs to happen to Edm310 for it to be fixed as a whole.

In Edm310 we discuss, but do not practice Project Based Learning. I understand that Dr. Strange wishes for us to learn it through the projects he has assigned. However, the projects and blog posts, as a whole, are not good enough. To be blunt, they are lame failed attempts. As I stated in my intro, we are just being taught to regurgitate information, and I know that is not what Dr. Strange wishes. Unless the class is suppose to be a head fake and teach us what not to do, this needs to change.

The previously discussed assignments listed above are pretty much the only things I would keep in the class. Not quite everything, but almost everything below needs to be completely revamped. I will be taking a break next semester, but will still be taking one class. I would love to help you work out a way to fix it in my off time. The reason I am so adamant for this change is because this class seriously made me reconsider my education major. And I don’t think that it should have.

Project 2 was a great idea, but a failed attempt. I understand the point of a PLN, but I was never implored to really create one. My senior year of high school I took an independent study class that required me to have contacted 50 educators (including college professors, business people, and masters on the subject) on what I was studying. I still didn’t have a great PLN because many of the people I contacted didn’t have enough information on the topic. Of course, Twitter wasn’t being used quite as thoroughly at that point in time as it is now, but there was a big push for me to try and create one. This class never gave that push. It is another thing I suggest begin in class, but the PLN truly needs a major push insuring people are reaching out to others. I’m not sure the best way to do this, but I’m sure there is a better way. This is one of the things in this section I would keep.

Project 4/5/6 was another great idea that doesn’t work as well as it could. On that note C4C is fine. C4T and C4K need the revisions. C4T is boring and doesn’t connect us with teachers. Not enough anyways. The C4T should become a heavy proponent to the PLN, but it should be done completely differently. You can give a listing of blogs so that we can get an email list and contact different individuals. But the commenting and summary of comments is ridiculous. C4K needs major revisions in a different way. I know you have considered it before, so I’m sure you are familiar with the idea. We need to have a set amount of students that we are commenting on and then continue commenting on those students’ posts. If I was a kid, and I got one comment from a student, I’d get excited. But if I never got another one I would be saddened and disheartened. Kids are smart. They know when people do things that have no heart. I actually have been trying to keep up with just one student who blogs a little bit. I saved the link in a Word Doc, and read his things occasionally and comment. It just seems better that way. Also, we need to make sure the set actually blogs enough for us to comment. I would keep C4C, revise C4K, and scrap C4T and make it something else.

Project 7 was stupid. I thought it was ridiculous, it didn’t help us get to know iMovie enough, and it was a bit morbid to a degree. I think people were a tad confused about how to do it and what to say. It is easy to replace, and it needs to be to make room for better projects.

Project 9 needs major revision if you wish to keep it. It isn’t a bad concept, but since my thoughts conjoin it with Blog post 4, I will discuss why this is in that paragraph. If you keep it, it needs to be more interactive and fun.

Project 10 at this moment is impractical. Once the PLN is corrected it would make more since. But there should be an option where it doesn’t have to be a movie, and can be done through an exchange of emails, or something. An idea to keep, but it needs to be implemented with a stronger PLN plan.

Project 16 was tedious. I get that it makes for an interesting final project, but I dislike that we can’t share it on our blog. Or more specifically, you don’t know how we can share it on our blog. There is a way, just like there is a way to share it via the internet, even though you can’t email it. It can be shared through drop box, which would have been nice to know. The first 2gb are free, and when you add someone you get another 500mb. I suggest you look into it. Also, to make it viewable on our blog, you can set it as a website. Though, I’m not sure exactly how this works. I sent mine to a friend of ours using Drop Box, and she sent me a link to a web address where I could down load it from after she edited it. I never showed the edited version in class. But I could show it now. If you keep this for the final, these revisions need to be done. I also suggest having a week in class where we begin preparing the books. It was a bit more hands on.

Blog Post 4 had a lot of issues. If you wish to keep podcasting you need to understand it. And I suggest you just make it a long lasting project. But first and foremost, you need to know the definition of a podcast. A podcast is a media file that is downloadable from the internet. Though the word can be ambiguous to include video podcast, it shouldn’t be. So if the media has video in it, you must call it a video podcast. Discussing podcast will not include video podcasts unless you specify it to. Also, there is a difference in streaming video and a podcasted video. Meaning, the “podcasts” that we created and uploaded to Youtube were not actual podcasts. They were streamed videos, but since they were not downloadable they were not podcasts. For it to be downloadable, you must be able to download it from the internet to a device, and then be able to play it on that device without it connecting to the original source. When you download a podcast from ITunes, you will notice that you can play the music without having to connect to the internet. That is a download, and hence a podcast. If it has video, it is a video podcast. So, there are many ways to make videos available to our students on the internet without making it a podcast. And none of the “podcasts” created in this class were podcasts. So I suggest you fix this. And delete the post about it. Make a project.

Blog Post 5 was informative, but the information should be connected to Projects 13/14/15. Also, the material should be discussed and shown in class. Delete the post about it.

Blog Post 7’s information is useless by the time we get to it. It would be interesting if we got to talk to Mr. Capps in person (or via skype) in class one day. Or, if you would like to connect the information with the other information on PBL, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s just a little excessive. I would delete the post about it.

Blog Post 9 was annoying and useless. Whatever creativity blog post 8 inspired, this one demolished. It restrained us to much, and pushed us to write summaries. The videos can be used somewhere else, but the post itself needs to be deleted. It also wasn’t cooperative at all. Many coop assignments weren’t.

Blog Post 11 would have been better placed in the beginning. Again the topic restrained creativity, and the information was repetitive. It reminded me of the Anthony Capps video in the essence that it was useless by the time we got to it. I would love to have chatted with her in person/via skype, or to have the videos combined with PBL. Or her videos could have been used in the beginning to explain why we blog post. But the post about the videos needs a lot of reformation, or to simply be deleted.

DELETE BLOG POST 12. I personally disliked Ken Robinson’s videos. He is an idiot, and I can’t believe he does TED talks. His information is misleading, repetitive, and annoying. I know others liked him, and may even wish for you to keep them. However, I know he is using pseudo science, and can disprove some of his beliefs with real science. And that shouldn’t be expressed to our students.

Blog Post 13 was useless. TED talks usually are inspiring, but they are not meant to necessarily teach us new techniques. They are meant to show what can be and is being done. And if they are used in the future, use them for inspiration. But don’t require a summary.

Final Remarks

Since this class revolves around PBL it needs to utilize PBL. This would require our in-class meet ups to be more substantial, and may require us to attend class 50% of the time. I think it is worth it. The projects that are posted on the blog should illustrate what we did and what we learned. They should incorporate all of the topics you wish to cover, but must be done more effectively as suggested. You may need more of them, or more time for those that need expansions. The weekly blog posts themselves should be creative expressions. Give simple guidelines, but make most of them creative writing bits. On occasion have them discuss the projects, or place a few more restrictions (like what I suggested be done in blog post 1). The PLN should be a separate on-going project with monthly posts on progress. I suggest it be revised as I suggested.

Finally, I am labeling this as Blog post 11, 13, and 14 for two reasons. First, this is an incredibly long bit that I wish to have has my next post on my blog. And second, because I give a thorough explanation on why I didn’t do posts 11 and 13. I did watch the videos, and could discuss them. But I found it useless to summarize them. You should be able to tell I watched the videos in blog post 11 based on my explanation on what to do with them. But to prove I did 13, I watched Shukula Bose’s video Teaching One Student at a Time. It was very informative in the reform she has helped create in India with such a simple idea. I’m glad to see children in the slums receiving a caring and vigorous education. And it is amazing what one person can do. But as I explained, TED talks are usually for inspiration and not meant to teach us new techniques.

Also in a word document this post is over 6 pages long. That would almost be enough for a term paper, so I expect it covers enough to be posted as such. If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope this will help change this class.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog Post 10 Randy Pausch's Last(ing) Lecture

I’m having difficulty writing about this video. It’s a bit ironic that I am having such a difficulty considering I find it to be the best video that we have watched in this course. It isn’t that I can’t summarize it. That I can do. But I full-heartedly dislike summaries. Up until this point I have done what the teacher has asked, but I simply will not on this video. The reason for this is because this lecture is simply too good, and any kind of summary that I provided would not do it justice.

I want to point out that I love to write. I love to express the feelings that something gives me. I also love giving my opinion on how I would fix it, and even if I don’t directly give my opinion, I like to think that my writing in some way improves the experience. Not that it always does. But if I can summarize something and come up with words that make it more meaningful, than perhaps you wouldn’t have to watch the video to understand. You could simply read my words and my enthusiasm and know what happened, and get and enlightening take on it. Well, that’s what I hope I accomplished with some of the other blog posts. Whether I did or not is subjective. If it isn’t subjective, I’m probably still going to say it is subjective to feel better about myself.

So I am going to conclude this post with two things. The first is a comment to Dr. Strange.

Dear Dr. Strange,
You wish to put an end to burp back education. That is a very good sentiment. However, when you assign these videos, I am not getting very much out of them because I’m regurgitating information. Though I do personally give my opinion (or at least try to) in my blog posts, it sometimes is incredibly difficult. This is because the guidelines are a bit too strict. They require me to reiterate everything I just learned... in many cases what I viewed and already knew. It figuratively is requiring me to, as you would put it, “burp back” information. In my opinion that is what a summary does. Now, I’m certain you could be doing this on purpose to show us how not to teach. But I believe in a practice what you preach method, and right now you aren’t. I have been keeping track mentally of corrections I would advise you to make for the future. I don’t know it all, and I don’t think I’m smarter than you. But if something isn’t working, I want you to know. Overall you get to make the choice. I hope you will listen to some of the ideas.

The second thing I would like to say is this video is amazing. I’m embedding it into this blog post, which I haven't done with any other video. I rarely find things that I don't want summarize because they are simply that good. The whole thing was fantastic. I implore anyone who comes on my blog and reads this to watch the video. And if you have, please let me know which parts you laughed at, and at what point did you cry. It is just that good. I personally can’t wait to get past those brick walls.

Project 14 A Gardner's Dilemma


The project is done as a google site created by Jamie Baxter, Colin Richards, and Thomas Leytham.
Click here to go to The Gardner's Dilemma Project page

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post 9 Views on how other teachers teach. Collaboratively written by Jamie Baxter, Colin Richardson, and Thomas Leytham

Balloon Pressure

Back to the Future
Well, starting with the “Back to the future video”. Once the video was finished, the first thought was, this is a great teacher. Obviously he cares on just about every aspect when it comes to his “kids”. He is very enthusiastic with all of his projects and gets real excited which gets the students involved.

The balloon project was particularly innovative and most definitely educational. The projected helped develop the students’ knowledge and concept about pressure. Also, the students use critical thinking and creativity while writing from the perspective of the balloon. Most importantly, the project did all of this while being attention grabbing and fun. Jamie is going to save this project and use it in her future classroom because she really enjoyed how excited the students got while completing it.

When he was describing what students learn from 21st century tools, it really caught our attention. This is a very helpful and useful part of the video for us as future teachers. He showed us a few examples, such as: learning how to collaborate, motivation, empowerment, and connection with others. Students will learn and practice all of these activities when using 21st century tools.

We also loved the fact that the child with cancer was brought in through skype and became an active member of the classroom. This teaches communication, understanding, tolerance, compassion, and learning to change each others’ lives.

We would, because of his new teaching plan, love to know what the kids knew after his class compared to their first day. It seems like if you are advocating a certain plan of teaching, backing it up with statistical data would help the cause. On top of which, he already mentioned the parts that they didn’t know. So, it wouldn’t be difficult to show their progression.

The most important aspect of this video is the teacher and his passion for teaching which makes things work in the classroom, and is more than a video on how technology has turned around a low income student based classroom from not knowing to knowing.


Blended Learning Cycle
The first thing that struck us was how much we loved the tweet by Dr. Tae, “remember, it’s not fair to tell your students that grades are not important if you are ultimately giving your students grades.” This is true information for sure.

Thomas noticed that in the beginning of the video he mentioned doing a TED talk about making the class a video game. He watched the TED talk video which made this video much more understandable. Essentially, making the class a video game was quite difficult. There were many problems that led to many parts failing and needing revisions. Thomas feels this is why his approach changed overall. Mr. Anderson definitely believes it is okay to fail and that we learn from failure. This is definitely true and teachers should learn to rework failure. It has such a terrible connotation when it shouldn’t.

Anderson developed his “quivers” approach to teaching in response to his video game “failure”. Quivers seemed like a very good concept. Thomas doesn’t always like acronyms because they can detract from the actual concept, and people remember the acronym word and not what each part stands for. All Thomas can remember is Questions, Videos, and Summary quiz. Colin found the video part to be idiotic and a waste of time. Not having anything that could spontaneously happen or be asked by the teacher while talking. Sitting and watching a video, only calls for distraction and daydreaming.

Jamie thinks the video would be a good idea because some students learn from watching videos. Most children or young adults grow up watching television, so maybe the video will teach them something they missed while investigating. We think the review step of “quivers” is very important because this is the step where the teacher can make sure the student he is reviewing, learns everything that was intended to be taught.

Thomas thinks that all students learn differently. So, having a video could be beneficial to some and not as beneficial to others. It would be important to have all of the knowledge learnable in different ways. Thomas is a kinesthetic and auditory learner. So, the video would probably be beneficial to him. But for a visual kinesthetic learner the video may not be.

We also found it interesting that he is teaching AP Biology. Good for him and his students, but what about students in a poverty ridden neighborhood at a state school with minimal funds, would this process still work? He says we should start with a question, well that would be ours for him.

We learned from this teacher a great concept to use for our future classrooms. Although we might change a couple of steps in the “quivers” approach, overall it is a good idea.


Making Thinking Visible
This video is pretty straight forward by having the kids watch a video, and then create a project that builds upon each weeks learning. We can learn from this video that critical thinking, analysis, and building upon what has already been learned is the fundamental building blocks to project based learning.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Church only uses a video as his technology. It seems teaching properly and engaging students really has to do with the teacher, not the technology.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Blog Post 8- New Tools for New Teachers

Jamie and I found many 21st century tools being used in classrooms today. And out of them, there are two tools that we both really like. We both learned about them from the sources listed, and so the information about them is communal knowledge that we share. The explanation on how we will implement one of them in our classrooms, however, is separate. Since Jamie was more intrigued with GIF’s she wrote about how she would use them in her classroom. Since I was more interested in video games, I wrote about how I would use them in my classroom.

Jamie found a fun technology tool which would be great for her elementary classroom called Creating a GIF. GIFs are somewhat hard to explain with words, so Jamie created one to illustrate what they are. Below is Jamie's GIF.

Jamie's GIF


I did not know anything about GIFs until my second C4T. I commented on Mary’s blog post Experimenting with GIFs. She posted four GIFs she and her classmate created together, and they are quite entertaining.

I think this would be an excellent tool for my elementary classroom. The students could brainstorm and think of what they want to use in their GIF. Then the students can either take pictures of the object or subject they want to use, or download pictures off the internet. The students can go to They can upload their pictures and move them around as they wish. Then they can decide which speed they want the GIF to be, and they can save it to the computer.

Students could use this in the classroom as a group project. They would get separated into groups and go out and take pictures together. This will get the students involved with technology, as well as taking pictures. The students would use their creativity and create a GIF to post on their blog or you tube.

Video Games

Another 21st century tool that we discovered being used are video games. Thomas has always considered that video games sometimes receive harsh scrutinizing views because some of them are violent. However, it would interesting if students could learn without realizing it, and Thomas thinks video games could be used to achieve this.

Thomas found an article titled Level Up: Video Games Are The New Educational Hack. It discusses specific topics on how video games are now being use in education. The article focuses on two different ideas that have been implemented.

The first is The National STEM Video Game Challenge, which promotes students to make their own video games and submit them in a competition. The point of this is to get students interested in technology and engineering. They learn code and build video game platforms on their own. It requires a lot of thought and knowledge to create a video game, and this innovation is quite impressive.

The second focuses on the use of a videogame playing to teach students. They give a specific example created by The Mind Research Institute’s ST Math. The video game teaches math by showing math in motion, and having students solve the problems. Being able to see how math works is very important, and video games can allow a broader spectrum to be seen by students than traditional methods allow.

Whether it is creating them or utilizing them to teach different subjects, video games are becoming a great tool for teachers to use. We are excited to see what direction they will take.


I am excited to see what developments have been made for video games by the time I start teaching. They are constantly getting more and more advanced. I would love to be able to tap into them as an effective tool to teach with. However, I wouldn’t want my students to know they were learning as much as they would be.

At the moment I do not believe there is a game out there that subtly allows students to gain math skills. But I’m certain it could be done. Many popular video games are problem/puzzle solving games. They require you to think to solve them, and yet they are fun because of this challenge.

So, I would love a video game that would require us to solve physical mathematics problems, but in a way that didn’t feel like we were solving math. The game would need to be fun, have a plot line that intrigues people, requires other kinds of puzzle solving alongside solving math problems, and be good enough to make the learning subtle.

Since we don’t have that at the moment, I can settle for the technology we have now. I would like to find video games that required students to do math and would love for that to be their homework. “Get through level 5 by Sunday” or “Go to this area and do problems such and such to unlock your quiz for next week.” Again, I slip into a dream that hasn’t been achieved. But even though I know the technology isn’t quite there... yet, just having them working on problems in a video game would be enough. After all, the goal for math homework is practice. I can’t wait to use them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

C4T #2 Summary

     The teacher’s blog that I commented on is named David Sladkey. He is a high school math teacher at Naperville Central High School in Illinois. Since I am training to be a math teacher, I always find it interesting what other math teachers are doing to be innovative with their students. And Mr. Sladkey’s blog definitely showed an interesting perspective.

     The first post I commented on discussed flipping the classroom. It was posted in August and Sladkey was deciding whether or not to use a flipped classroom setting this semester. He explained the idea of a flipped classroom, which is to have students learn the prep work and basics of a concept at home and do the “homework” at school. Essentially, class work and homework are “flipped”, hence the term. He listed the pros and cons and asked for advice.

     I hadn’t really considered using a blog to ask for advice. And I thought it was very interesting. My comment discussed what I felt would be best, and asked him to let me know how it goes. I am unsure how a flip classroom works, and I would love to know how effective it is for other teachers.

     The second post I commented on discussed that Sladkey wanted his students to actively “do math”. He discussed how he wants them to physically make triangles, measure with tape measures, and etc. Also, he asked for opinions on how he should implement it in the classroom.

     My comment discussed that I liked Sladkey’s idea, though I think he could take it further. Getting students to understand how math affects their daily lives is very important. A lot of people, even those in EDM310 right now, don’t always see how math affects us. They see it as complicated equations, a foreign language in some cases, and think that it is unimportant to their lives. Why should they know these difficult equations just to pass a test?

     The way I see it, it isn’t about passing a test. The knowledge is practical beyond that point. Math teachers just don’t always show that. It is not just for future engineers, bankers, or some other direct math job. It is practical for all of us. And I was very glad he was taking steps to show that, and getting his students working on projects. I suggested he have a “do math” day at least once a week.

     I found this blog intriguing, and I hope that I read more like it in the future.


Friday, October 11, 2013

PLN Summary

Although we are creating a specific PLN in this class, I have always been networking to an extent. Whether it be through facebook, twitter, or the original meet and greet, my network is always growing. I recently went to the SGA meeting for student organizations. We actually had a learning seminar on how to network and it was very intriguing.

As far a specific learning network, I don’t have a method set up to keep track of everyone. And I haven’t added to many people to the conversation list yet. But, thanks to C4C I have been able to learn a bit about some of the other students in our class, and through C4T I have gained a few connections to teachers. I already knew many current teachers and administrators, and I suppose they are in my PLN as well.

I personally like being connected. In my opinion, everyone I know is helping me learn in some way, and the people that are helping me at any instant change as time progresses. So, my PLN is progressing the exact way that I hoped it would.

Blog Post 7

some_text Project Based Learning Part 1 and 2 Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher-Jamie Baxter

Our group had different opinions on the videos. Jamie thinks the first video interview with Anthony Capps about Project Based Learning was a great example of a project that can be used in the classroom. The project Anthony instructed with his third grade class was to write letters to the congress about if women should be able to serve in the armed forces. The students had to critique each other’s work and choose 8 letters out of the 28 letters written to send.

Jamie thinks editing and critiquing classmates work is a great way to teach students what not to do when writing a letter. The students will see the mistakes their classmates made, and they will not make those same mistakes on the next project.

We all agree that project based learning is an effective way of learning. This project shows how students get excited about the letters, and what kind of responses they received. Choosing the 8 letters got them to think critically and be non-bias.

iCurio-Jamie Baxter

Our group has different opinions on this iCurio interview as well. The iCurio Video with Anthony Capps was about what iCurio can provide to the students and the teachers.

It explains that iCurio is used by students as a safe search engine. Students can search and explore the material in iCurio, which is pulled from the internet and monitored for student use. The material also follows the standards for all the different states, so the teacher can make material available from whichever state is applicable. The children will then learn according to those standards. Anthony explained, students can save what they find when researching and start organizing their resources online with folders.

Teachers can find sources, and specifically make them available to students. It is also an organizational tool for teachers as well.

Jamie thinks this is a wonderful tool for the children. The children will learn from searching and exploring along with getting organized through iCurio, which is a very important aspect to their future. Teachers will not have to worry about the students searching and finding something inappropriate because iCurio is monitored and edited for student use.

Dissent-Thomas Leytham

As I sit here in New York City, I see a society that is much different from that of the South. The city is constantly moving in the form of taxis, peoples, and rodents. All of the buildings reach for the clouds above, blocking out much of the sun. The city’s air is a smoggy mixture of taxi, bus, and subway exhaust. No one who lives here actually drives because there is no need for it. There are peddlers on every corner, an innumerous amount of restaurants, and some of the most extravagant plazas I have ever seen. The people are quite different in many ways, and I must say that I miss the passive aggressive southern charm of the dear Southern people that New Yorkers just don’t seem to grasp.

However, though our societies have many differences there are still common place values that we hold dear. We all strive to work hard and better ourselves. We do our best to fit in with the people around us. We hold our families dear and will protect them.

My dissent has this similar feel. My group and I do not have such differing opinions as a whole, but I do differ on how I feel about specific aspects of this blog post.

First, I must state that I quite like the Anthony Capps videos. They were quite informative and interesting. I thought that Dr. Strange and Mr. Capps did a very good job with explaining project based learning (PBL) and icurio. I very much liked Capps’ examples of PBL especially the Afghanistan culture example.

So why would I write a dissent then? Simply put, this is more directed at the blog assignment and not at my feelings for the videos. We were asked to explain what could be learned from all of these videos. The basic concepts of all of the videos were definitely exemplified and definitely could be learned thanks to them.

However, I found that I already knew much of the information that was presented to me. I knew and understood the concepts of PBL. I have a project that illustrates my knowledge of it, and it remains within the same consistency of these videos. Though, I wish I had these videos when I began learning about PBL. I liked the direct examples of actual learning that had occurred through utilizing PBL. I think it would be more beneficial to have linked it with my project where I was actually learning about PBL, rather than having me summarize it. The same could be said about the icurio video.

So although it is not as different as a dissent could be, I still consider this to be an interesting discrepancy that I had with Dr. Strange as well as my group. And I felt that it should be asserted. If you were to go through my PBL presentation and my icurio presentation, you would gather the same information these videos present. So, I feel this post should be about something else, and the videos should be justly linked to the projects that they are connected to.

Don’t Teach Tech- Use It- Thomas Leytham

This video does a good job explaining how to properly utilize technology in the classroom to make for better learning experiences. Honestly, the title says it all. Don’t just teach technology, utilize it.

As my dissent describes, I find that for many of these videos, there are better places for them to be placed. And this video falls in the same category. I believe it should have connected either with blog post 2 or blog post 3

Blog post 2 is discussing utilizing technology and it could be effectively placed there. Blog post 3 discusses podcasts, and there were many points that stated not to teach podcasting but to teach through podcasting. Though, I believe post 3 needs a facelift completely, and I’m unsure this video will be as applicable there after that occurs. (Read my blog post 3 to see my opinion about this.)

I wish I had more to add about this video. But since I already understood the information, I was a little bored and didn’t learn anything personally.

Additional thoughts about lessons- Jamie Baxter

Anthony Capps did an excellent job when explaining lesson plans in four layers. The first layer is thinking about the entire year, and how your lessons will be sufficient. He explains, the teacher needs to think of goals and concepts the students should learn throughout the year. These concepts can be broken down into units, which is the second layer he described. This will allow teachers to plan the lesson over a course of time, and not expect the students to know everything in one day. The teacher can start with one aspect the first day, and by the end of the unit the students will know everything the teacher is trying to teach in that unit. The third layer is the teacher’s plan for a week. The teacher needs to figure out what the students need to learn each week, and make sure everything is covered within that week. The fourth layer is the lesson plan for each day of the week. This has all the details that are being taught that day. This could include activities for the students and the questions the teacher wants to ask the students. All of these layers are equally important when a teacher plans her lessons.

I find this explanation about lesson planning very important and useful. When you break it into these layers, it makes it easier to adjust your lessons to be more efficient for your students. It will also be easier to make sure you cover everything you want to in the school year. I am going to use this when I start making my lesson plans in my classroom.

Project 13

There are several goals in project 13. The first goal is to learn how to create an organized assignment utilizing project based learning. The second is to learn how to convey what our project is, why we are using it, and what standards the project will meet. The final goal is to learn all of these things by creating/utilizing a project and creating a way to present the project to a principal.

I find that it is important to list these goals for two reasons. One, it would be hard for someone to understand what I accomplished with this assignment without knowing what the overall goals were. And two, the hardest part about this project for me was understanding what these goals were.

I must therefore also confess that I did very little in this group project. Not that I didn’t want to work on it more, but I was a little inhibited. I went to New York for the weekend for my birthday, which was incredibly fun. Unfortunately, we were not finished with the project before I left, like I had anticipated we would be. This isn’t because we were lazy, but rather because we were a little unsure of what we were supposed to do. By the time they had figured it out, I was in New York and was busy exploring. I was a bit busier than I predicted, and before I could get a hold of the project again, my group had pretty much finished everything.

I am very thankful to them and thus wanted it to be understood that they deserve a majority of this credit. Thank you so much Jamie and Savannah.

Our project focused is for a geometry math class for high school students. We utilized a project created by Sue Hausrath called Geo Soccer. The project is used to get students to exhibit their geometric skills by creating a shot analysis and sketches on how coaches can maximize their player’s chance at scoring goals. They exhibit this by utilizing the students’ knowledge of angles, lines, planes, and relations between sine, cosine, and tangent. The link below provides a calendar and an overview for this project in a way my group would present it to a principal.

Project 13 Website

Benton Podcast Project 9

Friday, October 4, 2013

C4K Summary (September)

This month I had the pleasure of commenting on three very different students blogs.

The first student I got to critique was Rose. Rose is a passionate 10th grader. In her post she discussed abortion. She believed that people shouldn’t have abortion unless it was a necessity. This is a very difficult topic to write about and discuss because there are so many differing opinions.

My comment discussed that she did a very good job with expressing her point, and gave powerful examples that supported her claim. I gave her a few other complements as well. I did notice some grammatical errors. I gave an example on how to fix it, and then told her to talk to her teacher about it. I also noted that she had digressed a little in her final paragraph, and to always be wary of her audience. In the end, I told her she had done a great job and to keep up the good work.

The next was a young boy in fifth grade named Daniel. Daniel wrote about how he beat a Pokemon Dungeon video game over the summer. He seemed to be very excited and proud about beating it.

Unlike Rose, I did not really critique Daniel’s writing. Since he is in fifth grade, I focused much more on discussing positive things that connected us. I discussed that I loved Pokemon, and that it must have been very difficult to beat. I also expressed that he had done a good job describing the event, and that his writing was very good. I haven’t received a reply yet, but I hope that it encouraged him.

My final C4K was for another fifth grade student named Maurice. Maurice lives in New Zealand, and he has a very different learning experience than those of us in the United States. His blog consisted more pictures than words, but his most recent post expressed that he had been learning math.

I told him that I was going to be a math teacher, and that I was very glad that he was learning math. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much more to write about. So, I concluded that he was doing a very good job.

I really enjoy commenting on younger students blogs. Though it may not be directly beneficial, I’m certain the connections that we make are very important to the students. I can’t wait for next month. connecting

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blog Post 6 The Lady or the Tiger? Why we should ask the right question.

lady and tiger

      Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, there was a young tavern boy named Aaron. Aaron was not the strongest man, but he was known throughout the kingdom as the kindest, wisest, and most loving gentleman. The princess of the kingdom heard his name mentioned by one of her servants, and she became curious about this fine gentleman. So, she began to visit his tavern disguised as a servant. The two quickly fell in love with one another, but Aaron did not know that his love was the princess.

      One day the king found out what his daughter had been doing and was outraged that she was in love with such a poor man. He had Aaron arrested and placed in prison. The princess was angered and argued with the king for Aaron's release for three nights.

      Finally the king said, “Well, if he is as wise as they say he is, then he must be as kind and loving as they say he is. I will test his wisdom, and if he passes you may marry him. But if he fails, he will die.”

      So, the king set up a dastardly riddle that only a truly wise man could solve. There were two doors. Behind one door was the princess, and behind the other door was a tiger. In front of each door there was a guard. One guard only told the truth and one guard always lied. Aaron was allowed to ask only one question to only one guard. Based on that question he would choose a door. If he was right, he would have picked the princess. But if he is wrong, the tiger would surely eat him. The king laughed at his plan, and awaited Aaron to be pounced by the tiger.

      Since Aaron was wise, he picked the right door. The king was disgruntled, but he allowed his daughter to marry Aaron. The new king and queen lived happily the rest of their days, and their kingdom lived in prosperity thanks to their wise king.

      I’m certain that many people have heard this tale. And although the story has aged over time, I believe this renowned riddle holds true in many ways. Wisdom and valor are more important than strength. Love is more powerful than an evil king. And most importantly, know how to ask the right questions, especially if you don’t want to be tiger chow.

      As teachers we often forget how important questions are. We want our students to know the answers, and sometimes we forget that for them to truly learn the answer, they have to answer the question themselves. Therefore, it is our duty as educators to ask questions. But asking questions can be more difficult than it seems. Aaron could have asked a question and quickly fallen prey to the tiger. So, we must ask the right questions.


      But what are the “right questions” for teachers? There is no one set of right questions. However, all right questions must get our students thinking. And, there are many techniques that can be utilized to do this.

      According to Ben Johnson’s The Right Way to Ask Questions, we should ask a question, pause for a few seconds, and then call on a random student to answer it. Utilizing this method pushes for all of the students to answer the question, and not have students that sit idly by while others answer the questions.

      Joanne Chelsea’s discusses in her video Asking Better Questions in the Classroom, that we need to ask open ended questions. It is very easy for us to want to ask yes or no questions, or questions that have simple finite answers. However, it is important for us to have our students actually thinking about the problem. And it is sometimes easy to change our closed finite questions into open questions. For example, if we asked, “Did the theory of evolution change the perspective of the world?” we would receive a simple yes or no. Not much thought is put into that answer. However, if we phrased it as, “How did the theory of evolution change the perspective of the world?” our students would actually have to think.

      There are many other methods that can be utilized, but the overall goal is that our questions get our students thinking. As long as this goal is being achieved, we are succeeding in asking the right questions. After all, it is up to us to know what these questions are for our students.

      So, which door will you pick with your questions? The students or the tiger?

Project 8 Book Trailer

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Podcasting: Voice recordings just aren't helpful for math teachers. Blog Post 4

I was very disappointed with this blog post assignment. Although I will summarize what I read and heard, my post will mainly be describing why I disliked this assignment and how to improve it in the future.

This particular assignment was on Podcasting. Podcasting was originally designed by Apple as an innovative way to broadcast for the Ipod. It now refers to multimedia digital files made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.

Langwitches and Joe Dale are essentially promoting the use of podcasting in the classroom.

Langwitches gives direct examples showing what their students were able to accomplish using podcasts. The students were able to record their voices, write their own stories, present them, promote voice inflection and awareness, and utilize media and technology. They had several different projects that helped them attain these skills.

Joe Dale promotes podcasting through a list of benefits. On top of student involvement, he lists that: it can help students outside the classroom, it is familiar to students today and therefore makes it relevant, and parents can see what their students are doing. So, why am I disappointed in this blog assignment? Clearly, this method is proving to be effective and has so many benefits. And it really is… in the context presented by these teachers.

I’m going to begin by illustrating that podcasting is completely ineffective for high school math teachers. I have highly contemplated any possible way that it would therefore be beneficial to me. Podcasting is simply a recording. So how would it help my math students? I don’t think reciting complicated math equations is going to be helpful to my students. And if I wanted to record a lecture, I really would need to video tape and not simply record my voice. My students wouldn’t get much out of me saying, “The integral of x squared plus four x minus three is x cubed divided by three plus two x squared minus four x.” Did that make any since when you read it? Try reading it out loud… Yeah I don’t think that helped any. I think it is fair to say, as far as math is concerned, podcasting is a bust.

But Math isn’t the only subject that it would be difficult for podcasting to effectively be utilized. For it to be beneficial for science, history, art, music, athletics, or etc, it would need to be heavily extrapolated upon.

It is still incredibly beneficial for reading and literature right? Well, I can’t deny the benefits it can provide. However, podcasting isn’t some new aged technology that is sweeping the world. In fact, in technology terms, it is outdated. On top of which, the same things that were accomplished by Langwitches students could be accomplished using a normal voice recorder. The only thing podcasting gains in the list of benefits is the technology (specifically software) application. I don't think allowing everyone in the world see it makes it more beneficial to the students' learning.

Finally, if we want to learn about podcasting, it would be more effective for us to make one. We already have a blog post for that. So, why is this information not added to it? Why make me summarize what I learned, when I could just illustrate it through making a podcast… that I’m already going to be making?

So my solution is fairly simple. This post should probably encompass multimedia as a whole, podcasts being a subset. There is a possibility that I am unaware of all the potential multimedia out there. In fact, I assume that I am considering our ever changing world of technology. But, doesn’t that make changing this even more crucial? If a new and better way of accomplishing these goals comes out, we wouldn’t want to still be discussing podcasts.

Video media (especially information on YouTube) should definitely be added to this post. It is far more applicable and relevant than podcasting. Video media could very well be helpful to my high school math students at home. In fact, there are so many more things that video allows that a simple voice recording doesn’t.

Overall, this project needs to be changed for it to be beneficial to all future teachers. I sincerely hope that it is.

Project #3 Presentation

C4T #1 and #2

I commented on two different teachers blogs. The first was on Denise Krebs’ blog. Denise is a passionate educator, who is currently teaching middle school in Iowa. She has been teaching for 17 years. The second was on Ewan McIntosh’s blog. He is a former French and German teacher, and is now Scotland’s first National Advisor on Learning and Technology Futures.

Denise’s post was actually in response to Ewan’s, so I thought it would be interesting to include both of them, as it really was essential for Denise’s post. The topic of their disagreement is on “Genius Hour.”

Genius Hour is an idea that has been and is being implemented around the US that encourages students to learn on their own. Essentially, students are given an hour of free time to work on individual projects. The basis is similar to a process used by Google with their employees. The Google idea expresses that even though there may only be brief moments of genius, those moments could become the company’s next core product. For students, however, this becomes a little more complicated.

Our Expectations of Creative Genius -Denise Krebs
Denise argues for Genius Hour. She claims that it has been very helpful for her students. However, she doesn’t believe it is all about the ending genius project, but rather improving the imagination and creativity. She also argues many points that were specifically brought up by Ewan.

20% Time and Schools: not the best bedfellows -Ewan McIntosh
Ewan argues that Genius Hour isn’t suited for the school system. Essentially he believes that there isn’t enough structure for it to develop correctly, and it is difficult to measure the students’ actual learning and achievement. He also seems to believe that student’s miss the mark when there isn’t enough structure. He cautions about the implementation that he sees occurring.

My comments were specific to each individual. But, they did have a common theme. Overall, I agree with Denise that Genius Hour is a good idea for improving the imagination. It should begin in elementary school, so that students understand and develop its’ structure as they progress through school. I agree that there needs to be some structure, but not quite as much as Ewan believed. I also understand the fear that Ewan has, and would not want to see it instantly implemented on a high school without having a more formulaic structure. This, however, defeats the purpose of it for younger students. So, it is definitely not something to take lightly.

My comments were quite long, so I hope that you click the links and read them in full. Genius Hour will probably come up for us as educators in the near future, so it is worth looking into.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Whether, Weather, or Wuther: The Perks of Peer Editing. Blog Post 3


     “I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.”
-Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

     When Emily Bronte wrote these words, I wonder if she ever dreamed they would remain so immortalized in our society. As she puts it, dreams have the ability to change our ideas and alter our minds. But dreams are not the only ones to change our ideas. The pressure from our society, more specifically the pressure from our peers, can be even more idea changing. Our dreams can have so much meaning. And yet, they can be so easily beat, crushed, and demolished by a single strand of words.

     It is because of this that we as teachers often fear to tread the wuthering height of critiquing others’ works. We fear that our words may trample the very psyche of our students and colleagues, rather than expand their dreams and ideas. It is not necessarily a natural fear, but one that is essential when teaching. Understanding the power of our words is the first step in understanding how to teach. It is impossible for our students to learn and become stronger learners without being critiqued to some degree. Understanding the power we have with our words allows us to gauge the best way to critique.


     In this section we learned how peer editing allows for us to gain the skills to be a good reviewer, and how to accept criticism. For us to grow as learners, it is important for us to critique and be critiqued. Unfortunately, we don’t always know the right words to use. As the video Top 10 Peer Review Mistakes expresses, we are sometimes too extreme in our critiques and our handling of criticism. Overall, we should be positive, assertive, have an open mind, and be able to defend our writing.

      When peer editing, it is important to make suggestions that are helpful and aren’t simply mean. The video What is Peer Editing? explains that complementing the work and staying positive is incredibly important. This definitely holds true. People aren’t going to listen to angry rants. Rants don’t promote learning. Not everything can be a compliment, but staying positive when making edits is important to express your care and knowledge. After all, the person who wrote the work spent time on it and is also knowledgeable.

     In general, I personally believe the best way to edit and critique is publically. Though it wasn't as public as I would have liked, my group used the google drive to make our edits. This made the edits viewable to all of the members in my group. There are indeed circumstances where they should be done privately, but many critiques have some opinion bias. Your opinion may differ from another’s dramatically. When they are worded positively, this contrast in a public forum can promote thought and learning for both the person being reviewed and the reviewer. Also, I may miss a spelling error or misuse of grammar that somebody else notices. Having it in public gives the author more eyes to find simple mistakes.

     The pressure from our peers can dramatically change the way we view things. This can definitely be thought provoking and enlightening. But remember, Wuthering Heights received harsh reviews when it was first published. Yet, today the book is considered a gem of the Victorian Era. So, let the edits fix your punctuation but not quell your voice. After all, the opinions from reviews can change.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blog Post 2

Professor Dancealot by Michael Johnson
overview and assessment written by Savannah Rhodes, Jamie Baxter, and Thomas Leytham

Professor Dancealot is a humorous video posted on youtube by Michael Johnson that shows how much can go wrong when a course's goals, assessments, and learning activities aren't aligned. Professor Dancealot, who is in charge of teaching a social dancing class, uses powerpoints to teach his students how to dance. The students are expected to sit there quietly and take notes without participating. As you can imagine, it'd be pretty hard to learn a dance without any hands on practice or experience! When it's time to take the final exam, everyone is confused and doesn't even know where to begin, even though they tried to prepare with the notes they were given.

I believe this video shows how important it is to teach students in a way that they feel involved. It’s important to use class time as an opportunity to really learn, and soak in material instead of just sitting there taking notes. That definitely has its place, but if it’s possible I feel like it’s important to come up with ways to make students feel involved. When you let students practice something in a hands on kind of way, they really pick up information and remember it.

Along with that, it’s also important to make sure that all of the class materials line up with what is expected from students in the end. You can't expect someone who has never touched a computer before to be able to write a blog post. They have to have practice and experience doing it. The same can be said about science experiments. It's likely that a student won't be able to learn from a science lab experiment just from having a teacher give them the steps through a PowerPoint. They need to try it themselves, make mistakes, and learn from them.

The video showing Professor Dancealot’s class shows what teachers are not suppose to be like. Students learn a lot better, especially in dance class, if they do the moves on their own and practice while the teacher is teaching.

The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler
overview and assessment written by Thomas Leytham

The Networked Student is true story based on a student utilizing connectivity to learn. The idea behind this learning comes from the theory of connectivism. The video defines this as, “a theory that presumes that learning occurs as part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties, which is made possible through various tools and technology. The tools are not as important as the connections made possible by them.”

The teacher’s role changes slightly in connectivism. In this class, there is no text book and the teacher rarely lectures. Instead of teaching a subject, the teacher teaches the student how to learn on their own. This is done by teaching how to assess data and insure its’ credibility. The teacher also helps when the student is stuck or needs to be pointed in a different direction.

This particular student utilizes technologies to make a list of sources, subscribe to audio and video podcasts made by professors from elite colleges, use the internet to find other experts on the topic and asks them for information, and show what he has learned through blog posts. He then shares his organized research and threads with the world so that others may utilize his work.

There are quite a lot of good things provided by this video. However, I am not sure how I feel about them. The idea of connectivity can be wonderful. It is exciting to see students learning on their own, and having a surplus of knowledge to attain. But I am unsure if this learning should be used for all students. We all learn differently. Sometimes people need exact instruction and lectures. They shouldn’t always have to search for information. In my opinion, it can possibly lead to two negative outcomes. One, it makes the students lazy and they don’t actually learn. Instead, they learn to tag sources and go to them whenever the information is required. Or two, the process become monotonous and the students lose intrigue in learning through this method.

I’m also fairly concerned with the teacher’s credibility. It requires little training in order to promote students learning in this manner. How is the teacher to know whether the student is actually learning correct information if they themselves can’t verify it? And even still, how could it be assured that the student is actually learning the material and not just regurgitating internet posts? And what if the student needs something hands on? Could this kind of teacher provide this to every student? I’m unsure of these lazy qualifications. We cannot allow a teacher to simply monitor, and not necessarily have knowledge. The public school system is already seen as baby sitters. I don’t think this would help much with their image.

Perhaps the teacher qualifications are overlooked because the students now have professors from elite colleges to “teach” them. I understand that it is fantastic to have the best professors in the world at your fingertips and the most new aged information. But what defines the best professors in the world? Do they have the most knowledge? Or do they have the most effective results? Could they teach elementary students, middle school students, or high school students? Who is to say that my AP English teacher was lesser than an English professor at Berkeley? And is new aged information better than the basics for all subjects? I can see the benefits to history, psychology, and literature. But would math, the sciences, and the arts be benefitted in the same way? Is that even testable, and has it been tested?

I see Sugata Mitra’s ideas in connectivism, and though I find those to be exciting revelations, it could backfire if not handled properly. My fear is what would happen if we lost the internet for a week, a month, or a year? If we only teach in this method… we may find ourselves in trouble in the long run.

Overall the theory of connectivism has its’ benefits. The students are learning on their own, and can constantly be learning thanks to the internet. I’m excited to utilize these techniques. But I’m unsure whether this is the most effective for all students, all teachers, and all subjects.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts by Edutopia:
overview and assessment written by Savannah Rhodes

Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts is a video post from Edutopia about all of the cool things that Vicki Davis is doing in her classroom. She brings up the point that she thinks every child is capable of learning, but when you only use paper and pencils in the classroom only certain types of learners are going to succeed. Mrs. Davis is able to teach the same curriculum in all of her classes, but customizes the specifics based on her students’ individual interests. Using this method, Mrs. Davis teaches her students how to use new software, how to blog, and how to collaborate with their own classmates as well as other students from around the world.

Mrs. Davis allows her students to share their projects and assignments through a website called DigiTeen, which encourages them to communicate and start discussions with other students about the material. One unique thing about Mrs. Davis is that when she introduces a term that her students are unfamiliar with, she expects them to google it and find out! It's important for students to be able to figure out some things for themselves in this day and age, especially when so much technology is available right at our fingertips. Not only does she expect this from her students, but they are also responsible for teaching some of the lessons! When a student really understands and grasps a concept, they are allowed to get up in front of the class and teach their fellow classmates what they know. Mrs. Davis believes that this gives them the empowerment that they need to be confident their skills, and to keep striving to be self learners.

Teaching in the 21st Century video by Kevin Roberts
overview and assessment written by Jamie Baxter

There are many things that I think about after watching this Roberts’ video. Where is teaching going to be in the 21st century? What does it mean to teach? The video got me thinking about what the schools are going to be like in just a few years.

When I was in elementary school, all teachers used to teach were chalkboards. Teachers in the 21st century will be able to use tablets and many different computer programs to aid in teaching their students. Students will be able to find any information at any time through the internet. There will be many different forms of technology in the classroom. Students will be able to communicate with one another through internet at any time of the day, which will make group projects more common. This will bring students together in the classroom, and not only will they learn from the teacher but from the other students as well.

Teachers teach their students skills and facts. In elementary school, teachers teach the students more facts then you would in high school. For example, students come to school in kindergarten and do not know what the alphabet is, so the teacher has to teach the students the letters of the alphabet and the sounds. Once they learn those then they use skills to put them together to form words.

The Robert’s video made me think about many different aspects of teaching, and also made me realize how different teaching is going to be in just a few years.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blog Post 1

When we are young, we are taught to use our imagination to its’ highest extent. We are read fairy tales of old and new, we are asked to explain how we would solve problems with any means that we felt were possible, we even are asked to explain what we felt the universe is and how it works with little prior knowledge. But as we get older, our imagination is set aside. We are taught to focus on the facts, and are told that we must look at a realistic future. These “undeniable” truths become embedded within us so thoroughly that many of us forget our imagination. We become focused on “reality”.

Somehow I maintained my imaginative skills. Perhaps, I simply had the right teachers, the right family, the right group of friends, or, the most likely answer, I simply like to be rebellious. The problem with having kept my imagination, I often have to come up with two answers to every question. One answer is how I would solve it to the brinks of my imagination. The other is based on the conception of reality, and more specifically, is based on what society (or my professor) wants me to answer.

For this assignment, I was asked the question, “If you built a school, what would it be like?” Of course my imagination leaped with excitement until I read further instruction. It was not really how I would build my school, but rather, what do I expect teaching will be like when I begin teaching. The instructions use the word “imagine”, which I take, must have been for sadistic pleasure because the rest of the instructions barred my imagination. The real question should have been phrased “What do you think education will be like when you begin teaching?” It isn’t quite as imaginative, but I am grateful for the misleading assignment title. It got me thinking about how I would build a school, what would it would be like, how my students would learn, and so many more possibilities.

So, I decided that I would give two answers for this assignment. The first, thoroughly following the instructions and giving my professor the answer he was seeking. The second, the fantastic answer my imagination provided me. And for some reason, I feel the latter may in fact be the education of the future.

I will be teaching in about two or three years, so I expect that not too much will have changed between now and then. Technology may make incredible leaps and bounds, but the class room does not usually exhibit prime technology. I will be teaching mathematics on the high school level, somewhere between algebra and calculus. My class will be filled with pictures of anime art, silly mathematic puns, and pictures of incredible equations that end up equaling one. Math is an interesting subject to teach. It requires very direct practice, but I don’t believe in a singular tried and true method. So, I am unsure of the exact way I plan to teach it. I’m sure it will be blended from all different types. I know I will throw in lots of jokes, and probably talk entirely too much.

A. What I want my students to know. I want my students to know the basics of mathematics, and be pretty technologically proficient at the time that they enter high school. Depending on the math that I teach, I will have different expectations for what I want them to know once they have finished my course. For example if it is algebra 1, I will expect my students to understand the concept of x, know how to make a single variable graph, and understand what the graph and x represent in the real world. If it is calculus one, I will expect them to understand derivatives, the basics of integrals, rudiments about sine and cosine, basics in physics, and etc.

B. What I want my students to be able to do. I want my students to utilize their knowledge in the outside world. I want them to be able to do math by hand, but also be able to use a calculator to solve advanced problems. Though, this may sound obvious, many teachers focus on the math by hand so much that they aren’t able to include the calculator into it. Or they are afraid that the student will not actually know how to do it by hand and will refuse to teach the calculator. The problem with this is that in jobs that require advanced math skills, you are going to be using a calculator. So it makes no since for my students to be able to do advanced math, but not have the application of the calculator.

C. What my primary way of teaching my students will be, and what I want them to know and to do. I have never believed in a “primary way” to teach students. For students to learn at their maximum capacity they require a mixture of different methods. I would love an individualized plan for every student, but at the moment this isn’t applicable. I am a kinesthetic auditory learner, but I don’t expect everyone else to be the same. And I don’t think there is a primary way to teach all of the different types of learners.

D. What tools I will use in my classroom. I know many teachers get very excited about utilizing technology in their class. But excluding the calculator, I don’t see the same use in a math course. The ability to do math requires a lot of practice. I will utilize laptops and other technologies when I try to get students interested in the subject. Knowing how math can be applied and its’ power definitely creates a drive, though I would not make that a daily routine.

E. What role my students will play in my classroom, i.e. how they will participate in the learning process. Instruction is important, but it is really up to the students to practice when it comes to math. So, I anticipate a lot of participation. Many teachers try to get this in as a grade somehow, and I think that lack of participation as a punishment is not as effective as giving an incentive to participate. I’m not sure exactly how I will implement this, and what kind of participation will be most effective. But I hope my students will be excited to participate and learn. It would be fantastic if they were having fun with it, and learning without even realizing it.

But, how would I build a school?

If I were to build a school, it would not require a physical construction. It would be one developed within a computer program creating a virtual reality. Each student would log in and find themselves in a new world. In this virtual reality, every student, would exist as an avatar with access to information at all times. They would literally have technology on their fingertips. They could create boards to write on out of thin air, or construct models of the solar system and see their functionality as bits of data circling them. They could explore the farthest reaches of our solar system to the core of the earth.

The students would also be on a mass server, so once they are connected in to this virtual world they would meet students from other parts of the real world in person (well avatar). There would also be instructors from all around the world. And the instruction would be more application. The student would be given tasks and they would go seek the information, either through the data base of the internet, or a professional on the subject. In each sector there would be a different subject. They could study advanced biology by watching cell mitosis, see advanced mathematics as it creates lines in three space, read any book and watch a lecture on its’ meaning, learn a language by immersing themselves around people who speak it, or question history by examining and comparing the histories of others. There literally would be no limit to the knowledge that could be obtained.

For younger students, more moderation and direction will be required. But as the students get older, a free flowing curriculum and education could be allowed. Imagine if you could see whales and monitor their song frequencies when you live in Ohio. The applications could be astounding.

I’m sure we are a long way off, and who knows what this would mean for education. But if I were to build a school, this is what it would be. I’m not sure it will exist in the 21st century. In fact, it may never exist. But it is a nice dream. I also feel that Mr. Mitra’s ideas for teaching, as well as the imaginative school created by Ms. Venosdale would be achieved in its’ accomplishment. After all, students would be learning by being asked the right questions, while having a colorful imaginative environment.