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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Final Report on: Project #9 PLN

PLNloveMy PLN has grown immensely since the beginning of this course. As I mentioned in my progress report I have many applications on my phone including: Edmodo, Symbaloo, Pinterest, Google Drive, Adobe Reader, Blogger, iTunes U, Evernote, iBooks, and myHomework. Since then I have added many new resources to my PLN; including Quizlet, WolframAlpha, and I have recently created a Facebook account. My PLN has expanded throughout the semester and I only expect it to continue growing :)

Blog Post #14

CourseSmart
CourseSmart E-Textbooks
Teacher Knows if You've Done the Reading is an article about the use of CourseSmart E-Textbooks in the classroom. Among the colleges attempting this technique this semester are Texas A&M at San Antonio, Central Carolina Technical College, Clemson, and Stony Brook University. This new approach involves an online textbook for students that can be accessed and monitored by their teachers. Students’ progress is tracked through an “engagement index” which allows teachers to see when students are not reading assigned materials, not taking notes, and when they are failing to highlight important information. Adrian Guardia of Texas A&M comments about his experience with one of his students using CourseSmart. Mr. Guardia noticed the student had only opened his textbook once but his quiz grades were solid for the most part; he knew he had to reach out to the student about his studying habits. The student received a C on his last quiz, and came to the revelation that it was because he had a low CourseSmart index. CourseSmart was created by McGraw-Hill, Pearson and other major publishers to offer a constant stream of data about how much students are or are not progressing.

My Reaction to New Technology
My reaction to the information given from the New York Times as a future educator is a bit undecided considering the fact that I am still a student, but putting myself in my future teaching shoes I think this new technology might be a good thing. Having access to knowledge about whether or not students are even opening their books could be helpful in terms of how teachers present daily lessons. I think that the program could grow into a huge resource for future classrooms!
My reaction as a student is still undecided just because I have not been exposed to so much use of technology in the classroom. Granted my first memory of computers in school was either in 1999 or 2000 and I've been using them in the classroom ever since; I feel I was exposed in the beginning of the technological age so I’m still a fan of using my pen and paper in the classroom. The current generation and future generations may see things differently because they seem to always be using technology; whether they are inside or outside of the classroom. The use of textbooks just doesn't cut it anymore; keeping students’ attention is becoming more difficult. After reflecting on this topic I have come to the conclusion that I believe ideas like CourseSmart could and will contribute to a lot in future classrooms around the world.

If I Were to Talk to the Teachers and Students
If I were to talk to Mr. Guardia I would have a few questions.
1.What was the feedback from your students and their opinion of CourseSmart after they completed the semester?
2.After confronting students about their low index’s did you see any changes in their efforts and/or test scores?
3.Do YOU enjoy the use of CourseSmart in the classroom?
4.What percent of students didn’t even bother opening their textbooks?
5.Do you think those students that didn’t open their textbooks didn’t open them because they had easy distractions on the computer and did not actually have the book in front of them?

If I were to talk to Mr. Guardia’s students I would have a few more questions. Such as:
1.Did you like having an E-Text book rather than an actual textbook?
2.Do you think using an E-Textbook affected your grades in any negative ways?
3.What were the positives about using CourseSmart?
4.Do you think your score directly reflects the use of your textbook or notes?
5.Was it harder or easier to study with an E-Textbook?
6.Didn’t you miss having the actual book in front of you to bookmark and highlight in?
7.Would you like for all of your classes to use CourseSmart?

My Comment
I did not leave a comment but if I were to leave a comment I would probably include some of my questions listed above. I would also mention my opinion about how I think this program could grow into something BIG. I cannot say that for sure, nor can I say I totally agree with the use of it in the classroom simply because I have no experience with the CourseSmart program. However, I am interested in learning more about it!

C4T #4

C4T
For my final C4T assignments I visited William Chamberlain’s blog At the Teacher’s Desk. The post I commented on is called “They Had to Prepare for Success”. This post was about his students failing to complete an assignment in class due to beginning the project before they fully comprehend the instructions. In his blog post he states: “I am sure that the responsibility lies with me. I intentionally keep my mitts off the students work. If they ask questions I send them to other students to have them answered. Typically this works very well. It requires the students to get over their fear of asking others for help (others who are not the adult in charge.) It didn't work this time because none of the groups really understood what to do. It wasn't that they were not capable or that I didn't show them (several times). Their problem is they excel at school so much they don't know that they can't figure it out even when they aren't really paying attention. Basically they get started before they hear the instructions and assume they can figure it out.” I think that his approach to answering his students’ questions by sending them to other students is a great idea, but it didn’t work this time. Obviously the approach did not fail because it wasn’t a good idea; it failed because many children are so eager to start and finish projects that they fail to follow the instructions correctly therefore they need to be redirected during the process. I left a comment on this post but Mr. Chamberliain’s comments are not working on this blog. His last post on “At the Teacher’s desk” is a farewell post to the blog. He is now posting on his new blog-#WmChamberlain.
The last two posts on this blog correlate with each other; they are about another interesting approach Mr. Chamberlain tries in his classroom. One of the posts titled “Mr C, What is a Real World Scenario?” Mr. Chamberlain tells about an assignment that required students to calculate a class trip; including expenses such as gas, hotel, food, and souvenirs. The original assignment ultimately proved to be entirely too expensive and some feedback showed students would have enjoyed it if the project was a little more customizable. So, Mr. Chamberlain changed up the assignment and had stellar results. He concluded his discussion stating “The reality is this has been a great way to get our minds off of test prep for a few days and get them engaged and rejuvenated for math.” After reading the posts I commented and agreed that this was a great way to get students interested in the topic at hand. You can read my comment by visiting Mr. Chamberlain’s post “It Would Have Been More Fun If It Was Figuring Out a Trip for Us: Mr. C, What Is a Real World Scenario Part 2

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blog Post #13

Blended Learning Cycle

Paul Anderson created a podcast dedicated to explaining the Blended Learning Cycle. Blended learning takes the compelling parts of online, mobile, and classroom learning and blending them together in the classroom. There are 5 E's to the learning cycle and they are: engage, explore, evaluate, expand, and explain. First you want to start with an engaging question for students to explore, and then you explain the phenomenon; expand upon that and then evaluate it. There are 6 parts to Mr. Anderson's blended learning cycle: 1- Question (hook) 2- Investigation/ Inquiry 3- Video 4- Elaboration 5- Review 6- Summary Quiz. This is just a step by step list of how Mr. Anderson uses blended learning in his classroom and I think it seems quite effective.
blended Learning
Starting off by catching his students attention with an interesting question in which they can explore/investigate opens the door for them to find the answers for themselves. Like Mr. Anderson said, the video allows you to stop and talk with students about the subject at hand. After elaborating Mr. Anderson said he does not let his students go on to the summary quiz until they finish reviewing with him so he knows they have an idea about said topic. I think this is a great approach because students must go through a review before being quizzed on the knowledge. I personally find that it helps to review before quizzing because after you refresh the knowledge you just took in it is easier to answer questions about it; rather than throwing yourself right into the test after reading new information.

Link to Mr. Anderson's Blog: Bozemanscience

Progress Report on Final Project

For our progress report of our final project, the Fantastic Four have decided to do option B. We have agreed on a time to meet with outlines we have each created on topics we want to talk about for future students in EDM 310.

Project #15

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blog Post #12

distraction in the classroom
My Blog Post Assignment Idea
For my blog post idea I would give my students this as an assignment: "One of the main goals in the classroom is to promote learning for students. Research the factors that affect learning abilities. There are many studies out about diets, environmental factors, teaching methods, and physichological factors that contribute to learning. What are your thoughts/findings about factors that influence learning in the classroom? Provide sources to back up your statements : )"

My Blog Post
gluten freeFor this assignment I did further research about diets and their affect on learning. Of course children will have trouble learning on an empty stomach but that is not the main focus. Nancy Guberti wrote an article called "The Sugar Connection to Learning" that discusses the fact that learning requires optimal health and brain function. One alarming statement she made is that "sugar has the potential to be a destroyer of general health and immunity as it robs the body of important vitamins and minerals. Besides, sugar can cause addiction as severe as other drug addictions" we have all been taught that sugar isn't exactly good for us but I know I wasn't notified about how harmful it can be if sugar intake isn't properly regulated. Kids snacks and "fruit" juices are anything but good for our children and we need to come to terms with it. Yes, our children may gripe and beg for their sugary snacks but if you attempt to cut back on the consumption of products high in sugar you should see an impact on their learning and behavior in the classroom.
Nutrition difficientcies also contribute to many behavioral issues. I highly recommend parents to look into healthy eating habits for children with learning disabilities. I read many forums run by moms that shared their experience with gluten free diets for their children. One mom shares her story: "Starting Gluten Free and My Son's ADHD Story" about how her son has ADHD (attention deficity hyperactivity disorder) and that his medicine makes him glittery and always has him on edge; one of her husbands friends had the same problem with his child. He visited a nutritionist and found out the child was in need of a gluten free diet, and after four days he was much calmer with little to no problems with his anger issues. This is just one of the many success stories I found about healthy diets impacting children in positive ways. I believe more parents should be concerned about their kids diets not only because it can help in the classroom but because eating right makes the body feel so much better. It's all about what is best for the kids!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

C4T #3

Week 1
My C4T assignment this time around was to visit The Principal's Principles, a blog written by a middle school principal names Mr. Bernia. The first week I visited his post titled: The Era of One has Begun. This post is lengthy and full of detail, I suggest you read it for yourself. It was mainly Mr. Bernia reflecting about a book called Linchpin by Seth Godin, a text I am currently waiting to receive in the mail :) He brought up an issue I feel strongly about and this was my response to him: "Hello Mr. Bernia, I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am currently studying elementary education. This post presents an issue that has become more alarming to me during the past few months. Educators seem to be more concerned with high test scores and the “correct” answer than the problem itself. Is this helping to better prepare the future of our students? I do not believe that it is helping one bit. As you said; “by emphasizing factual information through questions that can be answered using a simple Google search, students do not get the opportunity to think about or try to solve a complex problem or challenge.” We are inhibiting our students from their natural desire to stimulate their brains. Instead of challenging them we are training them to memorize information which does them no good in the long run. Do you have any suggestions as to how future educators can avoid doing this and still be excellent teachers? I plan on purchasing Seth Godin’s Linchpin first thing next week, it sounds like a great book from the reviews I have read."

Week 2
Mr. BerniaThis week I was unable to find a new post by Mr. Bernia so I chose to comment on one of his past posts; I chose a post titled Whatever it Takes. This post was a personal story by Mr. Bernia about one fateful school day that left him and a student digging through the school's trash. One day at lunch a student misplaced her cellphone; it was the day before her class trip to Washington D.C. and her parents were out of town. It's safe to say this was an awful time to lose her cellphone, but instead of walking away from the situation Mr. Bernia helped the student retrace her steps. She came to the disgusting realization that she may have thrown it away, but that did not make Mr. Bernia cringe and recoil his offer to help. He and the student put on some rubber gloves and hit the dumpster! After rummaging through three or four bags Mr. Bernia came across a pink phone case and for a few split seconds he was no longer a principal, he was that young lady's hero. Maybe I am just sensitive but this post really spoke to me. I think that Mr. Bernia's dedication is the type of dedication it takes to make a difference in the world. It is the type of dedication every educator needs to have because after all, we are working for our students.

March C4K Summaries

C4K #1 Alex M.
For my first C4K this month I visited Alex M’s blog. He posted about what students can gain from blogging and whether or not it is worth the time. One of his main points he made about blogging is that it helps students learn how to type the proper way. Alex also agreed that blogging is well worth the time because it helps you learn valuable information about people. I asked him a few questions and agreed with his opinions about blogging because I too believe it helps students gain certain skills.

C4K #2 Gentry
Civil War
For the second C4K of the month I was assigned to view Gentry’s blog. The most recent post on his page at the time was about the Civil War. He listed a five major points he found important about the Civil War. Here is a link to the post if you would like to see more of his posts: Gentry’s Blog

C4K #3 Calvin
Calvin's BlogMy third and final C4K of the month was one of my favorites, Calvin. Calvin is a year 7 student at Pt. England School in New Zealand. His about me lists many of his favorite hobbies and his blog is full of great posts and fun images drawn by Calvin himself. The post I commented on is called “Surfing Dog” and it is a story about how a dog named Sampson that got bit by a shark while he was surfing. In the end made the front page of the newspaper so things evened out. My comment to Calvin was: “Hi Calvin! I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am majoring in elementary education. First I'd like to say that I fully enjoyed reading your blog! Your about me is so well written and I love how welcoming you made it sound. This story about Sampson is awesome! Did you write it yourself? It kept me on my toes hoping Sampson would survive. I took a creative writing class in high school and the main focus was to catch and keep the attention of your audience; I'd say you did a superb job with doing both of those! Your illustrations are great too. Do you enjoy blogging in the classroom? I am new to blogging but so far it's making learning fun. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Keep up the good work Calvin!”
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Blog Post #11


children holding hands
I believe Ms. Kathy Cassidy's clips are all "must see" videos; especially for anyone with doubts, questions, or concerns about technology in the classroom. If Ms. Cassidy is able to explore the use of technology with her first graders then I believe educators everywhere should give the idea of technology in the classroom some serious thought. After reading the description of the video and realizing she was using Nintindo DS in the classroom I was hesitant, but I didn't have a choice-I had to watch her clip and I am so happy I did. I will admit I am guilty of judging books by their cover, but most of the time that only leads me to putting my foot in my mouth. Seeing Ms. Cassidy's students and listening to them talk about blogging, skyping, and collaborating I was absolutely blown away. When I think of children and technology I, like many others, fear that it is disabling certain people skills young children need, but Kathy Cassidy's video "Little Kids..Big Potential" really opened my mind to the use of technology in the classroom. Yes, the students were playing their Nintendo DS games and they were on computers when they visit centers BUT they make great use of their time. Children learn how to problem solve and they learn sharing skills while using their Nintendo DS in Ms. Cassidy's classroom, and when they go to the computers for center time they can choose from a wide range of learning activities online. Though we may be opposed to having so much technology present in the daily lives of our children; we have to remember it is not easy to convince children that learning is good AND fun. If technology can provide children with effective and fun learning then I say we need to be more open about it! Ms. Cassidy did not plan her big step into the world of technology in the classroom; she was just lucky enough to be given 5 computers for her class. Determined to make good use of them she began to learn about blogging in the classroom and now, 10 years later, she couldn't be happier with the outcome of her journey. I would love to use some of her techniques in the classroom, especially blogging and skyping because those were the two that the children seemed to enjoy the most. The best part about blogging is that children love it and it helps them develop better writing skills.