Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Assignment # 13

        For this blog assignment I chose to do option 3. I thought about doing the other options (I even already have read the entire book of Rafe Esquith's There are no Shortcuts); however, I thought option 3 would be the most challenging and I looked at as a dare. I was not able to use any electronic devices for 24 hours. If I messed up, then I would have to do it again.
        I will go ahead and admit that I had to do it over again. I tried doing this assignment Monday. Things were going great until I realized I had a presentation due in one of my classes and I had not yet printed out the worksheets. I ended up having to get on a computer and try this assignment again. Instead of starting my hours over right then, I decided to wait a little longer because I really wanted to check my email. This was an unsuccessful day. I then tried again on Wednesday. This is the day that I actually made it without technology.
        Wednesday morning I woke up late. I was not sure if a digital alarm clock was considered use of technology for this assignment or not. I decided not to chance it. If I was going to do this assignment, I wanted to feel good about it and try to stay away from technology as much as possible. This was probably a mistake since I woke up 30 minutes late. I usually set 3 alarms on my phone and 2 on my digital clock (I am not a morning person). Since I was not able to use my cell phone either, I had my mom wake me up before she left for work. I ended up falling back asleep. I knew it was going to be a long day. Instead of waking up, checking my Facebook, and eating breakfast while watching TV....I simply ate at the kitchen table. While I was eating breakfast I started to look at my kitchen. Blenders, mixers, coffee pot, microwave, dishwasher, fridge, toaster....all of these things are considered technology. It was crazy to think that I never considered these common household objects as technology. They all require electricity though. 
screen shot image of a T-Rex from Jurassic Park
        I thought I would spend my night watching the Jurassic Park trilogy. I quickly remembered that was not possible for today. Instead, I felt like I was living in the Jurassic time period. Honestly, I thought this assignment would be pretty easy. I thought to myself, "Well, I can do this. I hardly watch any TV and I don't need a phone for one day." I was so wrong about this. I warned my parents and friends that I would not text or answer their calls for one day. My mom quickly forgot about this and called my sister in a panic because my phone was turned off. Thankfully my sister remembered though. When my mom came home from work, she was not very happy about my phone being turned off though.
        Not being able to check the news, Facebook, or my email was a pain. Not watching TV was not so bad; I could go without it for a day. I thought about going to the park for a walk. Well, I decided against that since I could not listen to my iPod. I considered finishing up a quilt I was making, but that would require the sewing machine. Darn it. I then figured I would just read all day. That is exactly what I did. I sat at home and reread The Hunger Games. I found myself being jealous of the Capital and even District 12 for being able to watch TV, even though they were watching children kill each other. After I was done reading, I thought I would go to bed early. Not doing anything all day was pretty tiring. I had forgotten about not being able to use technology at night. I always either sleep listening to music or watching reruns of the Nanny on TV. Since this was not possible, I sat in bed and tried to daydream until I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and checked my email, Facebook, text messages, listened to music, watched TV, and even set my alarm clock back to normal.
Picture of The Nanny Season 1       I've learned so much by doing this assignment. First of all, I did not know how much technology my house actually contained. Before, I only considered the internet, cell phone, and TV to be technology. When actually thinking about it, every room in  my house has some kind of technology in it. Another thing I thought about was how helpful technology is. I was not able to hear about the news or know if my family and friends were okay that day. It worried me that something could have happened and I would not know about it. I also considered the possibility that one of my teachers could have wrote me an email and assigned a homework assignment. Thankfully, none of this happened, but it did make me question the "what if?" without technology.
        Something else I learned about technology is that it's not so bad for children to use. I knew this before, but most people will say, "Technology makes kids lazy!" when talking about why they are against it. However, I have never had such a lazier day than Wednesday. I didn't want to go walking because I wanted my iPod. I couldn't sew because my sewing machine is technology. I simply sat on the couch all day and read books. Yes, reading is great for kids. But taking some time to walk in the park or do arts and crafts is also great for kids.
I have learned not to take these things for granted. I am so happy to be able to use a computer again and type this assignment. Last Wednesday was the most boring day of my life.

Additional Post # 1

       This additional assignment is so students can learn more about metaphors. In my Blog Assignment #10 post, I actually understood there was a metaphor being used in Tom Johnson's Don't Let Them Take The Pencils Home! post. I used clues (such as thinking about how this is a class learning about how important technology is), and so I knew the pencils were really meant to be computers. However, I accidently posted the directions on what to do in the blog post instead of actually posting the correct blog post, which required my response. It wasn't until the next morning, when Dr. Strange pointed it out to me through a comment, that I realized this. Therefore my assignment was considered late and I have to do this extra assignment. Although I am disappointed in my stupidity, I took this opportunity to learn more about metaphors as exciting. Since I am going to teach English/Language Arts, my students will be coming across metaphors many times and learning all about them.  
drawing of a man with an umbrella while it is really raining cats and dogs        I believe many of my fellow classmates did not understand the metaphor because, like Dr. Strange pointed out, they take this class too seriously. Of course we should take it seriously because we are learning and growing as future educators, but Dr. Strange is going to give us fun assignments and we need to "loosen up" some while reading. Instead of just reading a blog post about how students need to take computers home and why they are not, we were able to read the same thing in a fun way. I believe students sometimes try so hard to write just what is expected from them though. They don't want to "think" and have fun while doing a homework assignment; they just want to get it over with and write what they think the lab assistants and Dr. Strange what to read. Maybe the classmates were just tired or maybe they did not want to "look stupid" if the post was really about pencils. It makes me wonder if the blog post was read to them or someone talked to them about the same thing, if they would have caught the metaphor. Maybe students did not actually "read" what he was saying in his post; they may have just skimmed it. Some students may be better at listening and "catching on" to the message. 
        I believe everyone has heard or used a metaphor at some point in their life. When actually listening to my friends talk, I realized that I use them probably multiple times a day. When I am talking about my pregnant cousin someone might say, "Yeah, she's got a bun in the oven." Now she doesn't literally have a "bun in the oven" (unless she is baking at that moment). Some more I have recently hear when paying attention, "It's raining cats and dogs outside!" "It's so hot; I'm on fire!" "She broke my heart" Every Friday when I am done visiting my granny and telling her bye, I will tell her I'll see her next week and she always responds with "If the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise." We always then laugh because it is such a funny, yet kind of morbid expression.
        Metaphors are all around us. They are not going away either, nor do I want them to. In order to help my students learn and understand them, I will have them read books that have metaphors in it. We will then pause and question what we think the author really meant. I will also have them write metaphors themselves. Reading poetry would also be a great eye opener when learning about metaphors. 
        Metaphors make conversations and reading so much more fun. If anyone has read the New Testament in the Bible, they will see Jesus using metaphors constantly, especially about salt and light. "“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot" (Matthew 5:13). Obviously Jesus isn't really saying we are literally a piece of salt. He is using a metaphor. Children grow up and go to Sunday school listening to metaphors without knowing it. So, why did even Jesus use metaphors? I believe because, like everyone else, children and even adults want to learn in fun ways. Metaphors make things so much more entertaining. Using and learning about this kind of writing and talking will make our students be "sharp as a tack."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blog Assignment # 12

This is my EDM 310 assignments for Blog Assignment # 12.

Part 1. Watch the YouTube video, Engage Me. Write your thoughts about the video and how you will engage your students' learning. Be sure to proofread your paragraphs. (2:40)
Part 2. If you Google "anti-technology" and "negative effects of technology" you will see many different articles written by people who do not believe technology is important in society. Some blogs are so against technology that the people writing them use inappropriate words to describe their hate for this. My assignment for this is to think from their point of view. We have read and watched many things about the positive effects of technology, but try to think of what people may consider negative effects and what they would say. After listing the negative effects, think about you would say if a student's parent listed these concerns to you. How would you explain to the parent the benefits of using technology in your classroom?
        I chose the YouTube video Engage Me because it reminded me a lot of a YouTube video we watched earlier this semester,  A Vision of Students Today. Where both videos contained students holding up signs mentioning their life and technology, Engage Me showed the younger side of students. When most people think about using technology in the classrooms, they are probably thinking about high school students. Younger students need to be engaged and learn with items other than a paper and pencil too. This video is great because it shows that even though they are young, they use a computer every day. They also play educational games on their Nintendo, they instant message, they use a podcast, and they blog.
Screen shot image from video. Boy holding up two signs that say,
        My favorite part in the video is where a boy held up a sign that said, "I wrote a story in my book and my teacher read it." Then another boy held up a sign that said, "I posted a story online, 2000+ people read it." This really shows how great blogging can be. Yes, it is important for students to receive feedback on their writing from their teacher in order to make progress. However, having feedback from people across the globe and knowing thousands of people will read their post will probably make the student want to try harder in improving their writing skills. I also liked it when the students held up signs that said they want to "join in with other learners globally" and "enable me to be a global citizen." These are so true. Communicating with other people across the world will make students feel important and learn about different cultures.
        For part 2 of this assignment, I tried to think a little differently. Instead of watching a video or reading a blog about how great technology is, I wanted to assign the opposite. I think to fully believe in something, you have to see other sides of the belief and how others view it. This class has really made me want to use technology in my classroom. I honestly believe that the world is changing and so our education has to change too. However, I know in the future I will meet many people who disagree with me on this. This is why I made this an assignment. How are you going to respond when a parent or another teacher tells you all their negative thoughts about technology? This is something we need to think about now so we are ready to respond; we need to think "outside the box" and try to see from their eyes. I planned on assigning a blog to read about anti-technology, but I could not find a "clean" one. Most of the blogs contained words that I thought were inappropriate; I did not want to have a link on my website to such sites. This is why I only assigned to think about the negative side.
        In order to complete this assignment, I had to think back before I started taking this class. I admit, I was not supportive of technology in schools.
Cartoon picture of Carmen Sandiego
In fact, the thought of taking this class caused a few mental meltdowns. I knew how to do about 7 things on a computer: turn it on, get on Internet Explorer or AOL, sign into my mail, sign on Facebook, play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, type on Word, and turn the computer off. Yes, this is about it. Watching the videos of children doing podcasts, blogs, and using a SmartBoard made me realize how much I needed to learn. So when thinking about my life before August, I came up with a few reasons people probably are not wanting to get on "the technology train."
        The first thing, they are scared of technology. With movies like Terminator and Eagle Eye, we have every reason to be scared. When technology becomes smarter than us and decides to destroy humans, we can panic. However, how many robots do we actually see on a daily basis? We live in world where the terminator likes humans; he was even governor. "Scared" can mean two things here though. People may be scared of the machines taking over, or they may be scared of being overwhelmed and not being able to do it. It is understandable for somebody new to computers to stress out. It can be overwhelming with all the different websites and applications, but we need to just take it one step at a time. If a 5 year old can learn to use it, so can adults.
      Another reason people might not want technology in schools is because they believe it makes students lazy. People might say that students not writing with a pen and paper are becoming lazy. Anybody who actually believes this needs to take EDM310. This class is not for lazy students. In fact, this class has been more work than any of my other classes I have ever taken. The odd thing is, I have not used any paper or pens for this class. Being a (future) Language Arts teacher, I will make sure my students write with pens and on paper. However, I will also make sure they are able to type on their blog and create podcasts.
        We need to prepare our students for the future, and the future is all about technology. Everywhere we look we see technology. Television, computers, radios, iPods, phones, is everywhere and almost impossible to escape it. This is how we communicate with each other and get by in our day. Not letting our students use these things is not preparing them. Isn't our job as a teacher and an educator to prepare our students for their future?

C4K # 10

        Ms. Yollis is a third grade teacher in California with an amazing classroom blog. When you first go to the blog, there is the Home page. Then at the top, there are links to other parts of the blog. There is even a link about Ms. Yollis.
screen shot image of Ms. Yollis' homepage on her blog
On this page, sure has a picture of herself as a 3rd grader and a short biography. She also pictures of her and her husband on vacation. On vacation, they were able to swim with turtles. She has a link under the picture of the turtles; this link takes you to more pictures of her experience and even videos of them with the sea turtles. This is so great that she has information about her on the site. I think parents appreciate this more than anyone because they are able to learn a little about their child's teacher. They can see pictures of her, her interests, and some background information about her. It is always important to know a little about the person that is educating your child.
       Another great link for students and parents is the Mrs. Yollis' Website link. This takes you to their classroom website. Here, they are able to see their homework, current events, parent information, and links to every subject. It even has a Math Help link, which is important for students struggling with their homework.
screen shot image of Ms. Yollis' classroom website. Thanksgiving theme
     She also has a Meet the Bloggers link at the top too. This link takes you to a picture of her class and lists some of the hobbies they enjoy doing.
     Some other important links are the ones that can help students, teachers, and people viewing the blogs. At the top there is a link to a video on how to comment, a link about how to take digital pictures, a link to clocks in different time zones (with their friends name under the clock), a link to information about California, and a link to learning HTML code. I had actually been the link about HTML code earlier this semester and it was very helpful.
        I was very impressed with Ms. Yollis' blog. The parents can feel like they are a part of their child's education, the students will never get bored being on the site, students are able to write posts about fun things (such as their large dog), the class is able to communicate with people across the world, and Ms. Yollis is able to share videos, pictures, and homework. You can tell she and the class have put in a lot of effort into this blog. Even a non-student could spend hours exploring everything and learning many different things. She is obviously doing a great job on this blog because this website has over 75,000 views; this includes people from so many different countries across the globe.

Final Project Progress Report

        After going through many different ideas, my group and I finally decided on a final project. We will discuss the many different sites and programs we have learned about in EDM310. This will be done on video. Each of us will be on video recording us talking about the websites and how they can be helpful in the classrooms. After explaining what the program is, we will record ourselves doing something educational on these sites and programs. This video will be available for everyone to view on YouTube. This will be helpful for current and future teachers wanting to expand their knowledge and bring more technology into the classroom.
Twitter cartoon bird with Blogger logo
        Since this is the last project, we wanted to share what we have learned in EDM310 with others. Those teachers that may want to use technology in their classroom, but never had a class like EDM310 to teach them how, will now be able to learn from us. We have spent so much time on Skype, Twitter, Blogger, and a SmartBoard. A video explaining and showing how to use these will not only remind us years down the road, but help other teachers see how great technology can be in the classroom.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blog Assignment #11

        Little Kids, Big Potential is a great example of technology being used in classrooms. This video shows future teachers exactly why we should learn more and include technology in our classroom. These students are in first grade at a school in Canada. They use SmartBoards to work out problems like on a real board. The video also shows them communicating with a woman about rocks through Skype. This is a great idea to get students to learn. Instead of hearing the teacher lecture about different kinds of rocks, they are able to communicate with someone (that could be across the globe) and learn about rocks from an expert. They mention their blogs and the projects they do on it.
Screen shot of child on laptop, with words
        This was such a cute video. Watching this made me realize why I have to stay up to date with technology, so I can teach my students how to learn in fun ways. Those people that still believe technology is a distraction need to watch this video. These students are not "playing on Facebook" or playing games. They are doing their work in fun ways. It would be wonderful if every classroom was like this classroom.
        Ms. Kathy Cassidy did a Skype interview with EDM310 back in February 2010. She is a first grade teacher in Canada. This interview was so interesting to me. I was amazed that she is able to have such young children use what I (before this class) would have considered "complicated" technology. She starts off the interview with Dr. Strange talking about how she wanted her six year old students to be able to do things. About 10 years ago she started a webpage. About 5 years ago she started a class blog. About 2 years ago she started doing video. She keeps her classroom growing because technology is growing. When Dr. Strange asked her if all teachers should be technology literate, she responded yes. She stated that if all a teacher can do is a spreadsheet and Word, then they are not technology literate. You need to keep up with the changes because technology is here to stay. She states that we cannot teach students how we did 20 years ago because the world is changing. I agree with this. Every time I think about education staying the same, I think of Mr. Winkle. We cannot let everything else in the world change, except for education. She also stated that learning from other people is the new way of learning. This is also true. We are all teachers to some degree. We can let other people and students teach our students, as long as we remain the educator.
        Not taking advantage of technology is hurtful towards your students and yourself. Some of the other teachers want to try to do what Ms. Cassidy is doing, but some teachers just do not want change. Ms. Cassidy talks about how writing a paper on a sheet of paper is not as exciting as writing one on the internet. One person, the teacher, will read the one on paper. If a student writes their paper on the internet, the whole world is able to see it. They are able to see people from all over the world reading their blogs.
Screen shot of Skype interview with Ms. Cassidy        She said that she is the teacher that mostly uses technology in her school, but none of the administration has discouraged it; although some are not interested. She stated that the parents love their children using technology. They are able to keep up with their child's school and see their child's writing progress improve. This was my first concern when listening to her talk. These are such young children that I figured some parents might have a problem with exposing their child on the internet. The children, of course, also love it because they are comfortable with technology. On the very first day of school, a form goes home to the parents that lets them know that their child will post their work on the internet. She makes sure to teach her students to be positive when leaving a comment, what websites are safe to go to, not to use their last name, and not to post a picture with their name. She teaches them WHAT to do on the internet. After reading Dr. Strange's blog a few months ago about being afraid of people on the internet, I really don't see the harm in posting your name next to your picture or posting your last name. Now posting your address, yes...I see a huge problem in that. But more than likely no stalker is going to hunt down your child from them doing a blog post. I suppose where these are such young children though, this is probably best to comfort the parents.
        Her students use video, audio, and blogs during school. So what is a good place to start? She admits that she is not really into technology when it comes to her personal life. However, you need to start with what you are interested in. If you are interested in movies, sign up for YouTube. If you are interested in writing, start a blog. If you are interested in photography, sign up for Flicker. She admits that Twitter can be hard at first, but helping other people answer questions and connecting with people who are interested in the same things as you is great. She calls Twitter "the old people Facebook." I thought this was funny because I am still not fully on board with Twitter. I see how it can be great and useful, but when trying to read all the posts from all of my friends, I start to feel overwhelmed. I suppose it just takes time to get fully used to. After all, I have more friends on my Facebook than I do my Twitter and I am not overwhelmed with Facebook because I am "used to it."
        At the end of the Skype interview, Ms. Cassidy showed the EDM310 students what we rarely get to see....SNOW, and lots of it. Although I doubt she meant to, while she was showing us snow she was also showing us another great thing about technology. We are able to communicate with someone from a different country instantly. We are able to talk about the same interests while experiencing completely different weather.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

C4K # 2 October Summary

A screen shot of Cruz's blog post       The first student's blog post I read and commented on was a little girl named Cruz. Cruz and her class live in Auckland, New Zealand. Her class had one blog, Little Voices, Little Scholars, that each child participated in. Cruz made a short video of herself talking about what Harold, a stuffed giraffe, did in her class. Harold talked about health and safety to the class and helped made their class time fun. I left her a comment telling her how great her video was and I thanked her for sharing her experience with Harold.
      Although this post was short and cute, I thought it was so much fun because I was able to communicate with a child in another country. Seeing how they learn over there and act in schools was a great experience.
      The second student whose blog I commented on was from a student named Jordan. He is also from Auckland, New Zealand and is in the 3rd grade. In his blog post he made a short animation video about a rugby team. In this cartoon video, there was a crowd cheering in the background and the France team in the audience. He also had a French rugby player walking across the field and introducing himself.
Screen image of Jordan's blog post
        This was a very cute way of getting students involved in technology. Jordan was able to make a video with animations, sound effects, and his voice. I commented on Jordan's post telling him how much I enjoyed his video and how I hope he keeps the great work up. I also wanted to know if he enjoys playing rugby himself.
A screen image of Smantie's blog post
       The third student whose blog I commented on was from an older student who goes to school in the United States. This girl's name is Smantie and she is in 8th grade. I commented on a post where she wrote a short story about a girl named Alice. Alice's mother passed away and when she went back to school a boy named Jasper asked to the movies. Alice waited for Jasper, but he never showed up. Smantie ended her story by saying how a black truck was following Alice. I commented on Smantie's page telling her how much I enjoyed reading her story. I told her it was suspenseful and how I couldn't wait to see what happens to Alice and who is driving the truck. I also asked her if the names Alice and Jasper came from the Twilight saga.  Smantie still has to approve my comment, so I am hoping for a response.
Screen shot of blog post. Two cartoon men with spears        I then read a blog from students at Pt England School. These students are in year 6 at this school, which is located in New Zealand. The blog I commented on was a video  made with 3 students' voices in it. In this animated cartoon, the students were talking about Haka. I was confused at first to what this was so I had to Google it. Haka is actually a war dance, cry, or challenge from ancient people living in New Zealand (Source about Haka). Although the video was a bit confusing until after doing some research.  I thought the students did a great job. They had sound effects and had the cartoons moving. The only thing I found odd was the violence. Schools in America (especially the younger grades) are not able to make videos of people being stabbed with spears and blood coming from their bodies. This would cause teachers and parents to worry. So watching this video made by young students was a bit surprising; however, it is a different culture. It would be hard for students to make a video about war without showing spears being thrown into people. I left these students a comment talking about how much I enjoyed their video and sound effects. I talked about how it was informative for those who do not know much about Haka.
        For the last post I read and commented on, it was from Mr. McClung's blog post called, Thunder. This blog post talks about a man named Matthew Paul Miller. Miller, also known by Matisyahu, is "an American Hasidic Jewish reggae musician." McClung gives the readers some background information by telling us about Matisyahu's musical hits. At the bottom of the post, there is a music player with the song "Thunder" on it. Although the music is not really my taste, it was interesting. 
Screen shot image of the band playing live in front of large crowd        At first I was a little confused on why I was assigned to this blog post. I had to triple check the C4K assignment list to make sure I was clicking the correct link. This blog seemed more like a C4T post; it was written by a teacher, not a student. I then noticed the link on the blog though. It was under "Band of the week". This is a great idea for a class blog, having students listen to clean and "mellow" music on their homepage. This probably makes the students feel "cool" and not worry so much about the school work. I left a comment telling him how it is a great idea to do this and how I bet the students appreciate listening to a new band with clean lyrics.