Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Assignment #16

Part 1: Final Reflection

After reviewing my first blog post of this semester, I have developed a better view of what my future classroom will look like. In my first post, I was uncertain as to what my future classroom would hold. I noted that I want my students to know that they are valued and that their thoughts, opinions, and experiences matter. In addition, I want to be able to instill self-esteem and confidence in my students. These things remain the same; however, there are additional things that I would assure my future Secondary Literature class will include.

In my classroom, I now know that self-learning, self-exploring, and self-reflection are all important aspects to learning that need to be included in any classroom. With these things in mind, I will utilize tools that the students are interested in, and I will use tools that are valid to their everyday lives. My students will be allowed the freedom to utilize tools of their choosing to explore and research topics being learned in the classroom. If I were to begin teaching today, some of those tools would include; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google tools, Prezi, Skype, and a wide range of Apple applications. This list of tools is not conclusive, as our world is ever changing.

My classroom would be setup in a collaborative manner, instead of desks; I would assure there were accommodations for round table settings. I would assure there was appropriate access to the internet and tools needed to explore the subject matter in a personal way.

The activities in my classroom would include presentations by students showing what they have learned. The students would show how they were interacting with each other and students they have met through online collaboration. The activities would be a product of project-based learning, and each student would be able to display their learning in their own unique way.

My classroom would be ever changing based on the students’ needs and the changing environment we live in. The view of my future classroom has changed this semester in that I understand now that project-based learning is necessary to allow students to grow more fully and explore their passions in a unique way.

Part 2: Video Reflection

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Assignment #15

What Assistive Technologies Are Available To Us As Teachers?
Authored by: Secoria Burks, Jo Davis, and Lindsay Stewart

This blog post encourages us to find assistive technologies that are available for our use as teachers. There are many tools which can be utilized in the classroom that can assist us in providing enhanced curriculum to our students with disabilities. These tools will enhance participation and encourage interaction with our students’ peers and environment.

The Assistive Technology Blog
Authored by: Lindsay Stewart

This blog is a publication from the Virginia Commonwealth University. There are many links on the left side-bar that offer specific posts regarding Assistive Technologies (AT) in different areas. There are links for AT for Math, AT for Organizing, AT for Reading, AT for Writing, etc… I have chosen to focus on AT for Writing as I will be teaching Secondary English.

Panther Writer from Panther Technology on Vimeo.

One post in the blog highlights “Panther Technology.” Panther Technology creates Apps for use by students with disabilities. There are apps for math, reading, and other subjects; the app I found would be most useful in my future classroom is the “Panther Writer." This app has made it possible to have different layouts to the basic keyboard we are all so used to seeing/using. The Panther Writer has four keyboards; the basic plus, Tom’s keyboard, the vertical fall keyboard, and the high contrast keyboards. Each keyboard is enhanced by one-touch edit functions, accessible file management, and the ability to email and post to Facebook. Tom’s keyboard has a two layer keyboard; the first layer consists of keys that make up 95% of all keystrokes, and the second layer contains the infrequently used letters. This keyboard has the word prediction as well, making it an efficient alternative to the basic keyboard. The vertical fall keyboard features vertically stacked letters and function keys which can be chosen by running your finger along the base of the iPad and letting the letters come to you. This keyboard is great for individuals with very limited motor control. The high contrast keyboards assist individuals with diverse motor and cognitive needs with mild visual impairment. Each keyboard offered by Panther Technologies can be used in the high contrast mode.

Although there are numerous AT available to teachers to use in their classroom, I really love the Panther Writer as it can be used in combination with other applications. Its use on the iPad allows for more efficient use of technology, better note taking, and an opportunity for students with disabilities to interact more easily with their environment.

The Cook Special Education Blog
Authored by: Jo Davis

When you hear “assistive technologies” I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind isn’t gardening. I sure didn’t think so! But after reading an article on the Cooke Center’s website in which they used a gardening project as a teaching method for kids with learning disabilities I became very interested in it.

Food is very near and dear to my heart and I also like hands on projects so this drew my attention immediately. Although gardening isn’t “high-tech” it is still a high beneficial method of education that can be used to teach about health and science. Upon further research on the subject I found a page on farmtoschool that stated “Children with learning disabilities, who participated in gardening activities, had enhanced nonverbal communication skills, developed awareness of the advantages of order, learned how to participate in a cooperative effort, and formed relationships with adults.” I know this is a technology class but I really see this implementation of a class gardening project is really thinking out of the box and has proved to be very assistive! This project could also be greatly benefited by the supplementation of technology. Kids could research gardening techniques and important tips on their class iPads and even look up visuals of garden bugs and pests for quick recognition. I think it would also work out greatly if students could document their progress with the garden on a class blog. It is an extensive project that lends to documentation and plenty of visuals. This kind of project that is constant and requires diligence and patience could really prove to be a great assistive education method for special needs learners.

Again I know gardening itself isn’t a technology but I think it is a great project that calls on the use of many various technologies and really thinks outside of the box to assist the teaching/learning process.

ADDitude Blog for Teachers with ADD/ ADHD Students
Authored by: Secoria Burks

This site consist of blogs for and by people with ADD and ADHD, it is for adults and students in both professional and personal aspects of life. After scrolling through the tabs at the top of the page I found a page devoted to teachers. On this tab I found the blog “Teacher I Need Your Help”, it addressed some issues and concerns of students with ADD and ADHD. One thing that I noticed a lot of was the need for repeated instruction and to be reminded of the classroom structure. To me this equates to the need for assistance with organization and memory.

I found a site with tools for students and teachers with disabilities or challenges of any kind. In the category for organization, I found an app for Apple called iCommunicate, it offers visual schedules, choice boards, text to speech,and audio recordings. In a classroom setting this could be used to keep students focused on the assignments they have to do and keep them engaged. The only downside would be that it requires an iTunes account and there would be no way for students to interact with it on their own. However, a teacher could make an account for each class and students could participate in class assignments; this would keep students focused. It could be a daily reminder of weekly events and double as a visual calendar.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blog Assignment #14

What Was Left Out?

This post asks for ideas on assignments that should have been included as blog post assignments over the semester; the assignment states that the suggestions should be within my area of speciality. As a Secondary Education/English major, the assignments this semester have all been interrelated with my field of study; each assignment required appropriate writing and appropriate use of grammar. In addition, most assignments used online tools or the use of Apple products to develop a lesson, make a video, interact with others, etc... While these assignments proved to be enriching, my thought was, "What about school districts within poverty areas? What do you do when there is not an iPad in every class? What happens when there is only one computer to utilize in your classroom?" These questions have been with me since our first video assignment requiring the use of iMovie. It was the first time I was without the tools needed to complete an assignment; fortunately, the university had the needed tools, but it did not stop me from thinking about my future students and the tools they would have access to. While many graduates may very well work in a school district with all the latest technology, some will be faced with challenges of low funding and families in poverty. With the aforementioned in mind, I have outlined a suggested blog assignment below.

For this assignment, students will need to imagine a world without immediate gratification. A world where Google will not give you the answer in .1 second. After achieving this mindset, students will create a project based learning plan without the use of the internet. This assignment can be presented with visual aids in the form of a poster, a written essay, or a picture collage.

Why would a class with an intention of teaching technology have an assignment where the internet is not used? The reason is to promote original and creative ideas. It is difficult to be original when the world around you makes it so easy to access another's ideas, another's thoughts, or another's complete resources. Would technology have advanced to this point without someone first having an original thought? This assignment will challenge students to use their imagination; furthermore, it will give students an opportunity to realize the vast advancements that have been made in the last several years regarding technology. An appreciation of technology promotes further learning.

After students have created this project, students will be given the same assignment a month later with the instruction to research using the internet and present the project in their chosen tool (Prezi, iMovie, Google Presentation, etc...). This will provide an opportunity for all to see the differences in a world where technology is not easily accessible and the world many of us have the advantage of living in.

Project #2 -PLN

My Personal Learning Network (PLN)

As a reminder to myself, I ask, "What is a PLN?" A PLN is a set of people and tools that I can rely on for collaboration, resources, and help when needed. My PLN has grown somewhat this semester; my social circle previously did not include many educators, as I am experiencing a change in careers. This semester has assisted me in networking in the educational realm. Through blog assignments, C4T, C4C, and C4K, I have found websites, tools, and individuals that I will call upon in the future to provide support. The most influential resource I encountered was people. Yes, people! I have gained the feedback of many educators in my own community by sharing the knowledge I have gained and asking for assistance from them on issues I do not understand. One teacher allowed me access to her classroom to utilize the Promethean board to gain a better understanding of this technology, and another teacher asked for my assistance in creating a picture slideshow for her class. I enjoy talking face to face; however, I did enjoy a FaceTime conversation with one educator who provided me with a better understanding of Common Core Standards.

While the people I have met this semester were extraordinary and professional, the tools I have gained are countless. This past summer, I had one web browser and one social networking site membership. Now, when I log in to my computer, I have a widget sidebar with quick links to my favorite sites, my Google Chrome browser has many shortcuts to educational applications that I have found useful, and I have more items in my "reading list" that I know will contain more resources.

My PLN will never stop changing, I have already "trashed" a few tools that I found unnecessary or not user friendly. I cannot wait to speak with more educators and gain even more resource; I know this is just the beginning to my journey, and I hope for many more years of learning.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Comments for Teachers - #4

Partnering with the Super City
By: Dorothy Burt

In this blog post, Dorothy provided details of the mayor's commitment of the Super City, Auckland, NZ to support the Manaiakalani Education Trust. This understanding means free internet for children, and completion of infrastructure to make this a reality. In the post, Dorothy also provided a video of the mayor signing the agreement and singing a song with the children.

In my response to this post, I expressed my excitement over the agreement that was reached with the mayor. I advised that this type of change is promising for our future and for our children.

Six Years of Film Festivals
By: Dorothy Burt

Dorothy provides and overview of the sixth annual Manaiakalani Film Festival. This year, the festival had two theaters being utilized and over 3,000 students attending the event. Dorothy linked some of the videos that were highlighted at the festival. I commented to Dorothy about the film festival. I advised her that I thoroughly enjoyed the post, and was excited to see that so many students were able to participate.

Project #12 - Part B

Project Based Lesson - Propaganda in WWII
Authored by: Secoria Burks, Jo Davis, Lindsay Stewart

In this Project Based Lesson, students will explore propaganda used in World War II. The lesson plan was presented via a SMARTboard lesson; please view the lesson below:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog Assignment #13

Ken's Top Ten
Authored by: Secoria Burks, Jo Davis, and Lindsay Stewart

Last week, we explored three talks presented by speaker, Ken Robinson. This week we had the opportunity to view additional thought-provoking presentations that Ken Robinson included on his “Top Ten List.” Ken’s recommendations are stimulating talks given by inspirational and world-changing educators and innovators. We dive into three of these videos in greater detail below.

What Do Babies Think?
Authored by: Lindsay Stewart

In this presentation, Alison Gopnik explores the decision-making and intelligence of babies. Alison seeks to answer why and how children and babies can learn so much so quickly. She suggests that it is due to the amount of time human beings spend being dependent on adults. Alison points out that the human species has the longest time for “learning” than any other species. In this “learning process,” babies and children are protected; this gives them time to learn and process all the information that their brains can handle. Alison states that babies are designed for learning; they are for learning, and their brains are one of the most powerful computers. Once the children grow into adults, all of the things learned can then be put into practice.

Alison shows us how children at the age of four can effectively experiment and form hypotheses; often we think children are “just playing around” or “not paying attention,” when in reality, they are experimenting. In one instance, a four year old was able to experiment with four different hypotheses in less than two minutes. Why are adults not able to do this? Alison suggests that it is because adults’ brains are like spotlights; they focus on one thing and block everything else out. Children, however, have brains like lanterns; they can analyze many different ideas from different places all at once. Children are unable to zero in on one idea, but the number of possible hypotheses is more numerable than an adults’.

Alison suggests that if we desire to become more open-minded and creative, then our goal is to become as children are. In this video, Alison’s research on the learning process in children and babies showed us that humans have a great capacity for learning, if we only stop and take the time to recognize it. Alison’s talk reveals that there is much to understand about the learning process, and there is much more to understand about our children. Overall, this video shows that it is vital to educate our children and give them all the tools necessary to become productive adults; it is our job to “water” their minds, and then watch them flourish in the garden called, “life.”

How to Use Videos in Education by Salman Khan
Authored by: Secoria Burks

Teaching through videos allows students to learn at their own pace. They have the ability to stop, pause, fast forward, or rewind if they need to. As far as flipping a classroom is concerned, videos can be vital. Mr. Khan also proposes the idea that videos can make a classroom more human, by using videos as an at home teaching tool. Classroom time can be used for practice, collaboration, and assessment; not instruction. Assessment is one of the topics his online school is attempting to change as a whole. He believes that a one shot test isn’t very productive. Students are taught a section and at the end they have a test. The score on the test indicates what they understood or retained, but no matter what the score, teachers move on to the next section. The Kahn Academy has created a system that prompts students to try until they master the skill.

Mae Jemison: Teach Arts and Science Together
Authored by: Jo Davis

Mae Jemison: astronaut, doctor, art collector, and dancer uses this TED talk to stress the importance of teaching the arts and sciences in conjunction. With a focus on the future, Jemison states that science education needs remodeling. Right away Mae Jemison introduces an idea that we could all learn from. She explains that the driving force behind research and science is curiosity, and curiosity is born of creativity. Creativity is of course sparked by and nourished by the arts; therefore, science and the arts are intertwined. This school of thought that keeps the arts and sciences separate is damaging to progress. She gives the example of the shuttle used to fly her to space and the Buntu statue she brought up with her were both products of human ingenuity and creativity. This is truly an invaluable way of perceiving the world and the things we learn. She even provides the following quote from Albert Einstein to support her view, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” The mysteries of the world we live in invoke thought that leads to evolution in both art and science, so naturally it makes sense for both subjects to be taught in a way that expresses their mutual relationship. Jemison goes on to further explain how arts and sciences are not so different but the main point she stresses is how one is not more important than the other. Art and science alike are vital in composing and bettering the outcome that is the condition of human life. This disparity between the education of science and art in schools is detrimental to the learning habits of future generations. If only one thing was to be taken away from Mae Jemison’s TED talk it is the fact that the arts and sciences are both key to progress and must be regarded and taught as equals.