Friday, March 30, 2012

C4T 3

The cyberworld can be just as ironic as real life can be. I happily posted my first comment to my C4T at Connected Principals regarding a blog entry by Dov Emerson entitled A Twitter Visit in Real Life. When I went back to post the second comment, I discovered the site temporarily down (still is). I panicked a bit; contacted EDM310 help and got another spot to use for my second post so I could do my summary by April 1. Because I am so paranoid, I had kept his entry and my comment in a doc file. It belatedly occurred to me (sorry, Dr. Strange) that perhaps Emerson had his own blog. He does! Now, if I had just remembered to breathe, I might have figured this out without having to bother the EDM310 staff.

Emerson started twitting as have so many of us to connect with friends and family. He happened upon @NMHS_Principal, aka Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey. Emerson began to follow Sheninger and those Shenigner followed and who followed Sheninger (did you get all that?). That twitter lead to a real time visit to the New Milford High School and the opportunity to sit down with Sheninger and talk about ED Tech tools and their place in education. How much to use, and how best to utilize them. Of all the real-life applications Emerson found at the school, one really impressed me. Sheninger gives his faculty members an opportunity to pursue their own ideas about technological possibilities, and then share them with others. Now that's educating everyone involved in educating. What excited Emerson was how one twitter post lead to an amazing ED Tech adventure. As I become more comfortable with the technology itself, and connect to others in the education field, I too find a marvelous world of teaching skills I will bring to my classroom.

Since that site went down, I was redirected here. Now this was a subject I could wrap my head around. Is the lecture method effective? Should it be discredited? Has its time come and gone? Citing several sources, Dr. Strange posed some thoughtprovoking questions about the method and its place (or lack thereof) in our current educational system. I myself was mostly taught via the lecture method and experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly along the way. For me the appealing part of lecturing is controlling the class; boring them could be considered a form of self-discipline learning. However, I think it is more of acknowledging its time has come and gone. Students today enter the classroom capable of multitasking and ready to use their tech savvy tools for learning or whatever else they can find to do. Demanding the kind of control and authority respect the lecture method offered is no longer applicable. To educate today, you have to be a different kind of leader, a different kind of teacher. Is there a place for a different kind of lecture method? Absolutely. And I have a feeling we as today's educators of tomorrow's leaders will need to know how to save the baby and throw out just the bathwater.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blog Post 9

What I've Learned This Year (2008-09) posted by Joe McClung nailed what I have done right and wrong as a new teacher. Concentrating on that perfect lesson, and forgetting about the students, is an easy trap to fall into as a new teacher, seasoned teacher, or substitute. We want to "look" good for our peers, and frankly to get and keep a teaching position. When you focus in on your personal professional goals, you lose sight of the people you are there to teach. I particularly loved what he said, "Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again." I believe when we fail, dust ourselves off, and move on; we set an example, they will follow.

I got hooked and continued reading What I Learned This Year (2009-10). This year, McClung moved from teaching a subject he was comfortable with (science) to teaching social studies. By his own admission, he found himself just making up busy work, because he felt he lacked the knowledge and skill set to teach this subject. As time went on, he discovered he was also spending too much time on topics he liked at the expense of ones the students needed. My favorite line here, "...and I know that I cannot be satisfied with standing still and running the risk of becoming professional stagnant..." This reminds me of one of my favorite examples. Tiger Woods gained a lot of fame golfing in a certain way. Before he got too cocky (unfortunately that came later in his personal life), he changed his technique, even losing ground before leapfrogging back into first place. We have to keep moving forward. Standing still is sliding backwards.

In McClung's next post What I learned This Year (2010-11), he reiterated much of what he said before, but added this telling comment, " I feel like the teaching landscape is full of individuals that once had a fire and excitement for the profession but somewhere along the way they joined the darkside." As a sub, I can tell you, the way the students walk into the class, I know how they feel about their regular teacher. Do not expect today's students to be fooled for long, if at all. They know if you care, or you are just there to earn pay.

Continue McClung's foray into teaching by checking out his blog. This video he posted is hysterical...and true. I can attest to that!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

C4K Summary for March

Mrs. Stone posted a challenge at Will your writing be the first Miriam Lord Gem to encourage her New Zealander students to write a Miriam Lord Gem which is a 100-word blogging entry. Mrs. Skinner will be choosing the gems each week, which will then be showcased and celebrated by the entire school. Not only did the writing have to be interesting, but they had to "stretch" the "learning muscles." Since this was the clarion call, I perused some of the entries. Awaba 6DY's caught my eye probably because I am a big fan of Greek Mythology. Although the grammar and spellings are a bit off, the storyline is true, if of course you believe in the Greek gods.

The god Zues was angry with the people because Prometheus gave them the gift of fire. Zues decided to punish them,he told the gods to help him make a special women. The gods had to say yes Zues was the most powerful god ever. Finally they finished,the women was beatiful,clever although she did have a secret which Zues would never tell. Zues gave the women to Empimetheus,who was Prometheus’s brother,Empimetheus loved her so much that he forgot about his brother. Prometheus told Empimetheus never to accept gifts from gods. Zues told Empimetheus her name was Pandora. Pandora screamed the weather changed for the worst.

Smartboard Instruction Project #14

Interesting experience. I thought I was poised and ready. Obviously, I am not camera ready just yet. However, I am learning. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blog Post 8

Dr. Richard E. Miller's This is How We Dream Part 1 & 2 describes incremental and fundamental changes in tomorrow's classrooms. His examples are perfect for what I consider the best and worst of that possible future classroom. In Miller's view, using the Internet to research information and create dated versions of information to get it out there on the net is an incremental change. You just did it faster, easier, and got it out there in a more accessible form quicker. I agree. The fundamental change is when we actually use the web to design the material in a more digitally and visually appealing form. He admits we are not there yet in the "how to." He feels it is our duty to create the environment that will foster inspiring pedagogues, inspiring spaces, and inspiring teachers.

One of Miller's examples of the fundamental change is the work of artist Jonathan Harris. The specific work mentioned by Miller is The Whale Hunt. As I understand it, both men are in agreement on bringing an emotional or human touch to the Internet experience. This is commendable but frankly also fraught with serious pitfalls. This is a subjective piece of art and literature. It is designed to open your eyes, and provoke a desired response. In and of itself, this is not a "bad" thing. But I wonder what happened to objectivity? A just-the-facts-ma'am approach.

Are we in our desire to utilize all that is out there not falling into the same trap science has tumbled into so very often. There was once reason to believe the earth was flat. It looked flat which is all the information they had at hand. Take a look at the end of the horizon on Mobile's very own bayway and tell me why it is not flat. They also believed the oceans held monsters. (Hmmm, maybe they were right about that one.) For years, scientists believed gold could be made or that the sun revolved around the earth. We laugh at some of these notions now. My point is that we are in the same danger of sharing a sort of information arrogance. So for me the question becomes how as a 21st Century teacher do I guide my students through the best of the Internet without creating mind-numbed robots or cynical skeptics?

Carly Pugh's idea of Youtube playlist is priceless on many different levels. Hands down for me as a substitute teacher, An Average Day in the Classroom! nails what it feels like. Funny when I started EDM310, my biggest fear was learning the technology. Now my biggest fear is getting too caught up in the technology. By patterning her evolving teaching philosophy through her playlist, Pugh is becoming a Dr. Miller educator. Again, I find myself questioning the obvious. Am I alone in viewing Think Different and thinking, did "different" begin and end with the civil rights' movement? However, perhaps that is the point of Pugh's choices. We can allow our students to discover why are we different and where will diminishing that difference lead us.

I am still laughing over EDM310 for Dummies. Jamie Lynn Miller nailed my feelings over the class. And Poppy was hysterical as the typical spokesperson for an infomercial. Seriously, I would love to get my hands on a copy of the book. I experience the same ongoing frustration when I link to the class blog and see another change. And yet when I start to delve into the material, I like it. I want to go back and do things better. However, time catches up with me, and before I can master, say Prezi, I have to move on to the next big thing. The book might give me some shortcut tips. Anyone have a pirated copy out there they are willing to sell me under the table for cold hard cash? I watched The Chipper Series the first week of class. It resonated with me then because I think we all want to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow now only to discover it takes work and time.

I see a tremendous need for both instructional videos and a way to get them into the teachers' hands. It is my experience that too many teachers are unaware of the value of these programs or perhaps lack the general technical know how. The desire is there. The resources/materials are there. How do you connect the dots? Sending an instructional video on say Prezi and posting on Youtube will not get to the majority of teachers. Dr. Strange is dead on about this, we have got to get globally connected for educational purposes. Right now, we are only becoming socially globally connected, and sometimes that can make an education connection. It is too slow a process. Instructionally we have only made, as Dr. Miller called it, incremental changes. We can put a powerpoint presentation on Youtube with great graphics and powerful music. But we have yet to reach the stage where we are putting content in graphic design instantly available to every classroom. I am not a globally minded individual, so for me to say we have to go the next global level, is a strong statement of belief in sharing educational experiences and opening educational doors for every shall I say earthling? What will get us there is technical know how and connection. The creativity is and has always been there. That is where I would begin.

Well according to Learn to Change, Change to Learn, creating a global learning community is in the works. Odd, but when I hear people say the things I am thinking in my head, I get nervous instead of excited. Why? Because if I sat down with those same people with whom I share the same ultimate teaching goal, I know we would disagree vehemently on content validity. That is where I begin to draw back from the global educational community. The Internet and the computer only have what is put there. GIGO theory. So who is to say what is valid? Who is going to edit what we send our children out to find? Reaching across cultural lines sounds awesome until you realize some cultures think arming a young child with a mental disability and giving him the opportunity to shoot other children is acceptable and even commendable. That is admittedly a dramatic example, but there are others less dramatic and more controversial between educators themselves, i.e., intelligent design vs. evolution. Who is right? We do not actually know. If I sent a student out to research say, intelligent design, will he/she recognize it is just one theory in many? Or will that student be swayed by impassioned but perhaps incorrect information? Should we not deal with that before we go down this path?

Scavenger Hunt: The Game is Afoot!

Video Tool: Photo Peach is a free video tool to make fun and instructional video slideshows to include graphics and music. You can sign up using your Facebook account. In easy-to-understand instructions, you can create, share and embed your slideshow through most of the social networking sites. I found Project Polar Bear fun, maybe because I am a sucker for dogs and had a husky/lab mix who shared my life for a too short number of years.

Social Networking Tool: I signed up with Classroom 2.0. While free to join, there is a short vetting process. I will be gmailed when (if?) I am accepted. The site provides access to over 60,000 members in 181 countries. Some of the forum topics I scanned included: How to Keep Students Writing Out of School, Which is Better to Use in the Classroom Twitter or Facebook?, and instaGrok, a new interactive learning tool I am excited to delve into. I hope I get accepted!

Comic Tool: I choose this tool because frankly I tried the poll tool and could not embed it. So I gave up and moved on to Make Beliefs Comix! This was quite easy to do. Had canned figures and backgrounds. Not much to customize. Free! I did find that I could not easily embed. I ended up printing, scanning and uploading. Probably is an easier way, I just could not figure it out.

Friday, March 9, 2012

First PLN Progress Post

And so the student becomes the teacher. At least now I have some idea of what a PLN is. The irony is not lost on me. For months now, I have been wondering how do I organize the web to be more efficient for me. How can I follow the teaching tweets separate from the political tweets. How can I divvy up my teaching contacts from my personal friends. How can I keep up with the teacher blogs I am introduced to and want to continue checking. Thanks to EDM310, I just may be able to pull it off.

Blog Post 7

Why does a networked student need a teacher? The same reason I do! There is almost too much information on the Internet. It is extremely difficult to recognize the difference between a blog factoid and an actual fact. Relying on old school sources for the truth is just not possible anymore. Everyone seems to have an agenda. A student needs to learn how to vet the accuracy of the much as that is even possible. Navigating through those waters requires a guide. A 21st century teacher needs to point out the lurking pitfalls so the 21st century student is source savvy.

Vetting the massive amounts of information is just the first step. The obvious next step is how to render the data into useful pieces. How many diaries does a student need to peruse to get a feel for the thoughts of American soldiers in World War One? What about the German viewpoint? How can those bits of information clue a student into a soldier's anguish? Should that be the perspective? A wise teacher helps a student to funnel the information down to just what they need to successfully complete an assignment.

What tools will help a student? What social networks are safe? What programs will encourage a student's creativity? How does a student learn how to Prezi? To green screen? To iMovie? A teacher must be the trusted guide for a safe and wonderful web journey.

While a teacher's tools and information access has become global thanks to the Internet, the responsibility is still the same: point a student in the right direction and let them teach themselves while keeping them safe.