Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Post #16

Final Reflection

I took the time to reread my first blog post about "If I Built a School" and I don't believe that I would change anything about my previous post. I still want my school to be a hands on learning center and for the students to have numerous types of labs to go to everyday. I want my students to be encouraged to move around and be active. I want them to be able to move about the classroom and talk with other classmates and see how they are solving the task in front of them. Using technology in my future classroom isn't up for a discussion about whether I will use it or not. If I don't use it, I will be doing my students a disservice and hold them back from learning. How I will use technology in my classroom is still up for debate. I have a strong desire to be a Special Education Teacher and therefore, my teaching style and tools will constantly be changing depending on the student. While I have been shown how blogging can be used in 1st grade, if I taught 5th grade, there are many more options as to what I could do.

The main idea for my school that hasn't changed is my desire to teach through interaction. One thing that I would like to incorporate into my classroom is connecting with other classrooms around the world. Similar to pen palling but doing it through technological devices now. Being able to Skype with another classroom and learning about their culture and what they do for fun would be a great asset to a child's life. Building connections with other classrooms could also help me in my teaching as I would be building up my personal learning network too. Most importantly I want my students to be invested in their education and give them every source available to them to succeed.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Post #15

What assistive technologies are available to you as a teacher?
By: Jennifer Hamrick and Dominique Jones

child using a keyboard with oversize buttons states that “assistive technology is any device that helps a person with a disability complete an everyday task.” This does not have to be something “high-tech” like an iPad but can be a “low tech” device as simple as a magnify glass to assist with reading. Some useful devices that can be used in a classroom are augmentative/alternative communication like a picture board to help support a child who cannot speak or be understood. Visual aides like talking computer software or books on tape can help students with visual difficulties.

In the video iPad Usage for the Blind Wesley Majerus is an Access Technology Specialist who works for the National Federation for the Blind. Wesley is blind and he shows how people who are blind can use an iPad. The person can scroll over the apps and Siri will say which app is which. Siri will then tell you to double tap the icon after you scroll over it. You can also use three fingers and move them to the left like you're turning a page to change to the second page of apps. Also, the ibook on the ipad is the best for those who are blind compared to kindle and other tablets. You can click on the titles of the book and double table which book to chose. You can choose which chapter and it reads aloud and some of the books have the pictures described.

Microsoft offers a wide range of alternative input devices. Alternative input devices are devices that help an individual control a computer when unable to use a standard keyboard or pointing device. One example is a sip-and-puff system that works by inhaling or exhaling. A light signaler alerts the user to computer sounds with light. If a new email arrives, normally a sound is made to notify the user. With light signals, a light will flash alerting the user of a new email. Large-print word processor magnifies text without adding screen enlargement to help with the visually impaired.

Assistive Technology for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children was an inspiring video to watch. This video shows the importance of assistive technology for hearing and vision impaired children. It shows the different technology that can be used and also give them the same opportunity to learn with technology as everyone else.

Mountbatten device
Immediate feedback is vital to our struggling learners and the Mountbatten helps with blind students. The Mountbatten is a device for the blind that allows for audio and tactile feedback. The Mountbatten looks like a typewriter with a plastic form that fits over where the keys would normally be. As the user types, the machine types in braille and repeats back what is being typed. This machine is very advance with the ability to save and transfer files to a computer and receive files from another computer

Sunday, November 24, 2013

C4T #4

poster with girl surrounded by words to make a good mathematician
For this C4T, I followed For the Love of Teaching by Diane Dahl. The first post that I read was Thinking Across Content - Good Mathematicians Poster. In this post Ms. Dahl discusses how after teaching something, you have to model how to use it. Students need to find connections to other content areas because the brain looks for patterns. Ms. Dahl has also created a poster for her classroom that helps student visualize how they can become better mathematicians by using their senses and other body parts like their heart or knees.

In my comments, I let Ms. Dahl know that I agreed with a student's need to find connections to other content and that the posters she created were a wonderful visual aid for her students.

poster with boy surrounded by words to make a good reader
The second post that I read was How to Plan and Schedule for Guided Reading Groups. In this post, Ms. Dahl explained step-by-step how she plans and schedules for her reading groups. She starts at the beginning of the year and places students in sections beginning with those that need the most help to those that don't need as much. Then she uses her school calendar to schedule on what days she will meet with a specific group and makes sure the group that needs the most help gets more time each week.

In my comments, I let Ms. Dahl know how much I enjoyed reading her blog and her posts. I also let her know how much I appreciated her posting about this topic because as a future teacher, it's nice to have examples of something that works for other teachers. I also let her know that I would be adding this technique to my resources.

Project #14

I was first introduced to Alfie Kohn when I was assigned for the love of learning by Joe Bower for one of my C4T's. Alfie's philosophies regarding standardized testing and the current school system caught my attention and I have been following him ever since. He has some thought provoking videos on YouTube and has a website with additional information and videos. I would make this assignment a collaborative blog post and have all team members watch the videos and answer the question What can be learned from Alfie Kohn by watching these videos?

front cover of Alfie Kohn's book No Grades plus No Homework equals better learning
Alfie Kohn
Feel-Bad Education
Ranking, Competition and Democracy
front cover of Alfie Kohn's book The Case Against Standardized Testing

Project #2 - Personal Learning Network

At the beginning of the semester, I chose to use Symbaloo for my PLN. Symbaloo was very easy to use and navigate through. I often visit multiple sites a day and with Symbaloo, I have them all in once place. This saves a lot time and every time I find a new beneficial webpage, I add it to my Symbaloo page. I also chose to group my webpages together and color code according to topic. My shopping sites are green, entertainment sites are red, news sites are orange, educational sites are yellow and my social network sites are pink. By doing this, it helps me to find the site that I need quickly.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog Post #13

pink stop sign that says Bullying Stops Here
Shane Koyczan: To This Day...for the bullied and the beautiful
By: Jennifer Hamrick

The main thing that should be learned from this video is how damaging bullying can be for a child and what an impact adults have on shaping a child’s future. This video is the best one that I have watched all semester long and think that all teachers, present and future, should watch this video. Children are constantly being asked what they want to be when they grow up and then being told what not to be. Their dreams are being called silly or impossible. Children are being expected to define themselves at young ages and if they don’t, others define them. They are labeled slut, geek or fatty and told to accept the identity that others give them. We tell children to stand up for themselves but that is hard to do if they don’t know who they are. People often mistake standing up for themselves as embracing violence. Koyczan begins to address these issues in poem form and makes some very profound statements that I believe all people should watch and listen too. I am not going to quote this entire video, even though it deserves it, but I am going to end with my favorite quote from this talk.

“And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself,
get a better mirror.”

Alison Gopnik: What do Babies Think?
By: Dominique Jones

baby with red hat touching head like it's thinking
30 years ago psychologists thought babies could not think. Alison Gopnik is a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley and in this video she talks about what babies are actually thinking. Most people think that babies are dumb and useless. Alison wants people to know that babies are smarter than we think they are. Studies show that babies are able to distinguish that people will not like the same things by the age of 18 months. Babies and children are always learning. Studies also show that 4 year olds are able to find out an unlikely hypothesis than adults given the same test. Alison explains what it is like to be child. Children can take in lots of different information from a lot of sources compared to an adult who have a more focused driven conscious. She goes on to say that being a baby is like, “being in love in Paris for the first time after you've had 3 double espressos.” Alison says that there is nothing wrong with being an adult but being a baby has its benefits such as open learning, imagination, and creativity.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

C4K November

My November C4K's are very different than all the other ones that I have had all semester. For my first C4K, Levi had to write a poem. His poem was titled "Where I'm From Poem" and it was such a descriptive poem from a child. Levi wrote about seeing, hearing and tasting. It was such a good poem that I have decided to include it in my post. My comments to Levi were letting him know how much I liked his poem and that with every line he wrote and his descriptions, I could imagine them. I let him know that he had done a great job and I would like to keep up with his blog. One of the most impressive things about this post was that the first two comments on the posts were from Levi's parents. I liked that the parents were involved and supportive.

Micheal Jordan leaping in the air to make a basket
Where I'm From Poem

Where i’m from I see the waves bump up and down like hills
Dipping my feet in the sea I’m looking out for boats
I reach back in for shore and see birds fighting over scraps
All I hear is giant waves crashing into the sand
I smell smoky barbecue coming towards my face

Where i’m from i can see my mum making a lot of noise in the kitchen
I see my mum cooking us dinner in the kitchen
I see u my mum making us nachos for dinner
I see people enjoying themselves eating MC Ds
I see some boys on the playground eating some chip

Where I’m from I hear the crowd like they are cheering for WILL.I.AM has entred the school.
I hear my brothers playing on the trampling like they are Michael jordan doing a slam dunk.
I hear the birds like they are singing a song
I hear people saying happy birthday like they are the crowd cheering the all blacks

Where I’m from I am taste is my middle name
I taste the salty sea water in my mouth like i have never had water for three years
I taste the salt of the hot chips that tangles off my tongue
I taste the sauce that it dribbles down me that came off my hot dog

map showing where Auckland New Zealand is from United States
For my last C4K for this semester I read a blog post from Amelia. Amelia is a 2nd grader from Auckland, New Zealand and has been learning about the Chinese New Year. Amelia drew a picture of what she learned and then read a short description that was video taped and posted to her blog. In my comments to Amelia, I let her know how much I liked her blog post and that her video was done very well and that she read very well too. I also let her know that I liked her drawing. Her drawing was so good that I am going to attach it to this post.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project #15

Project Based Learning Plan
By: Jennifer Hamrick and Dominique Jones

indians and pilgrims sharing the food
In this lesson plan, 6th graders will prepare a presentation pertaining to The First Thanksgiving. Students will be split into 4 groups and they will be responsible for researching the topic given to their group. The topics that will be given are The Mayflower, The Pilgrims, The Wampanoag Indians and The First Thanksgiving. After students have researched their topics and prepared outlines, they will prepare a rough draft that will be peer reviewed by another group. After review of their rough draft, a final draft will be prepared. On the final day, each group will stand before the class and present their report. Each group will be evaluated by their peers with a Rubric. When all reports are done, the class will enjoy a Thanksgiving Feast together. For core standards, project overview and additional details, please visit our classroom website.

Blog Post #12

What can we learn from Sir Ken Robinson?

image of Ken Robinson with a quote about creativity The Importance of Creativity
By: Jennifer Hamrick and Dominique Jones
Sir Ken Robinson talks about the importance of creativity in this video and how creativity is just as important as literacy. One of the things that we can learn from this video is that kids will take chances. They are not afraid of being wrong but they are taught that being wrong is something to be ashamed of. By the time kids become adults, they are too frightened to be wrong and don’t want to put themselves or their ideas out there. Kids are being educated out of their creativity. Everywhere you go in the world, there is a hierarchy of subjects with Math and Languages at the top, then Humanities and then the Arts at the bottom. There is also a hierarchy within the Arts where music is at the top but dance is at the bottom. As young children we have been taught that the most useful subjects for work are the ones at the top and kids are steered away from the subjects they like because they are told they won’t ever get a job doing those things. It’s crucial that we rethink the fundamental principles that we educate our students on. We are suppose to prepare our students for the future but don’t know the future so we should really prepare them in every subject we can.

cartoon drawing of Ken Robinson with Sir Ken Robinson Changing Paradigms written over his head
Changing Education Paradigms
By: Jennifer Hamrick
There are multiple things that can be learned from Sir Ken Robinson in the above mentioned video. Sir Ken Robinson begins by talking about how every country is reforming public education right now and there are two reasons why. One reason is economical. How do you educate students to take their place in the economy of the 21st century? We can’t anticipate what the economy will be in a week so, preparing children for 10 years from now is almost impossible. The second reason is cultural. We need to find a way to teach our kids how to have an identity while being part of globalisation. Millions of kids are being alienated by trying to prepare for the future by doing what has always been done in the past.
Children were once told that if they worked hard, did well, and got a college degree, they would have a job. While a person is still better off having a degree, nowadays, it doesn’t mean you will get a job. Standards of education need to be raised and the current system was designed and conceived for a different age. It was designed for a system that didn’t believe “street kids” could get educated. In the system, we were told that there are two kinds of people, Academic and Non-academic. Many non-academic people are made to believe that they are not brilliant because they don’t meet certain standards.
According to Sir Ken Robinson, the current economic and intellectual model of public education is causing chaos. ADHD has risen with standardized testing guidelines and the further East you go, the more fictitious epidemic of ADHD rises. As a learner, you can have an aesthetic experience where your senses are operating at peak level and you feel alive. Or you can have an anaesthetic experience and your senses are shut off and you feel deadened to what is happening. Children are being anaesthetized to get them through the education process when they need to be woken up to what they have inside themselves.
The current model of education is about conformity and standardization. The reform needs to go in the opposite direction. Students need to see that there are lots of possible answers and lots of ways to interpret questions. Stop teaching students that there is only one answer and how to work collaboratively. The real world calls for collaboration and most great learning happens in groups.

head shot of sir Ken Robinson

By: Dominique Jones
Sir Ken Robinson begins his speech with how ironic No Child Left Behind really is. Statistics show that 60% of the population and 80% of the Native American population drops out of school. He thinks No Child Behind is not diverse but instead conforms students. Ken thinks education should give an equal amount to each subject such as arts, humanities, and physical education. Test are helpful but should not dominate education. All high performing systems engage their students, teachers have a high status and pick only the best, and the school level should decide instead of the state level. People need to recognize that education is a human system. Ken compares education to Death Valley. Death Valley is the driest and hottest place in America which means nothing is able to grow there. In 2005 it was covered in flowers. This means that students being able to learn is possible they just need the right conditions by creating a climate of possibility.

3 reasons the human mind flourishes :
1. Humans are different and diverse. Kids learn better when they’re able to use their talents.
2. Curiosity. “Engine of Achievement.” Teachers have to be creative but great teachers have to mentior, stimulate, provoke, and engage.
3. Human life is creative. We all create our life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

C4T #3

Encouraging Courage
The first blog post that I read was Encouraging Courage written by Alfie Kohn and posted on Joe Bower's Blog for the love of learning. In this post, Kohn challenges teachers to challenge traditional policies and accepted assumptions. Teachers need to question if this is really in the best interest of the students or not. Just because a policy works and classrooms are quiet and orderly are they really helping students to become deep and passionate thinkers? It's often hard to find the courage to stand up and challenge other administrators for fear of being labeled a troublemaker and being black listed. It takes courage to stand up to absurdity but remember, your students are watching you and you are their role model.
In my comments to Mr. Bower, I let him know that this post was one of the most eye-opening posts that I have read so far in this course. I felt the last paragraph to be the most profound when I was reminded that kids are watching me. We are their examples and should represent the best that their future selves can be.

head shot of blogger Joe Bowers
The second blog post that I read was What do kids really learn from failure? written by Alfie Kohn and posted on Joe Bower's blog. This post was about how beneficial is failure for kids. Kohn made a lot of great points throughout the entire blog about failure in kids and how children perceive the failure. There are arguments that failure is unavoidable and that children should be able to deal with it and that children today are too coddled and have an easier life. Failure is unavoidable and how we teach our kids to handle that is what is really important. Every generation talks about how much easier kids have it today and of course in some aspects they do. With all the inventions and technology of the world today, a lot of things are easier not only on kids but adults too. Kohn challenged us to see life through a kid's eyes and how much failure they really incur everyday. They often come up short and don't get what they want and then face critical judgements from adults. Kohn discussed that studies show when kids fail, they make up an image of themselves as incompetent and helpless. This type of image leads to more failure. Students then want easier tasks and lose interest in what they are doing. The blog mentions that people are more likely to persevere when asked to make decisions about things that affect them rather than be told what to do. Two last things that Kohn said are eye opening and deserve serious thought. "Maybe the problem is that the educational environment emphasizes how well students are doing rather than what they're doing" and "It's the student's perception, not the teacher's intention, that determines the result."
In my comments to Mr. Bower, I let him know how much I appreciated how often he updates his blog and the fact that he puts such thought provoking material on his blog. I let him know that I had to read the article twice, once as a teacher and second as a parent.

Blog Post #11

Interview with Kathy Cassidy

screenshot of Kathy Cassidy Skyping with John Strange
In the three part interview with Kathy Cassidy, she discussed over Skype the benefits of using technology in her personal life and in the classroom. Ms. Cassidy teaches first grade and has her students use technology in the class with a class blog and with Skype. How the class blog is used in her classroom changes every year depending on how many students she has in her class. If her class is smaller, she will use posting on the blog as a "center" exercise. Posting may occur more than once a week. If her class is larger, then the class will all post to their blogs during computer time in the computer lab once a week. Through technology, Ms. Cassidy has expanded her Personal Learning Network and has compiled groups of people who help teach her class via technology. She has relationships with other teachers and instructors and the students of these teachers/instructors are assigned students in her class and asked to comment on the student's blog. Some of the classes also Skype with her class and by doing this it teaches students writing, audio and video all in one lesson.

I am looking forward to all the technology possibilities for my future classroom. I haven't decided what grade it is that I really want to teach so how I will use some of Ms. Cassidy's techniques in my classroom is unsure to me right now. It's obvious that first graders are using blogs and it can be used in a classroom but if I were to teach 5th graders, using blogs could be done in a much broader way. Regardless of what grade I teach, I think that introducing your class to Skype and other classrooms is a magnificent idea. Children don't realize just how different the rest of the world is and you could introduce them to that via Skype. You can also help them to start their personal learning network just by forming pen pals.

Mrs. Cassidy helping a student use a tablet in the classroom
While technology isn't completely new anymore, using it in classrooms is. Depending on where I end up teaching will determine what kind of impediments I will face with introducing technology into my classroom. Instructors or fellow teachers who are not as educated in the technology options will be more resistant than someone who is educated and comfortable with technology. Parents can also be an impediment if they are uncomfortable with the use of technology. Some of that can come from the worry of who will have to pay for the use of technology in their child's classroom or how will they be able to help with homework if they are unsure how to use the required technology. We are in the business of education so the best way around all this is through education. Starting slowly with only a couple of classes at a time is easier than trying to change the whole school over at once. You will also need to get other teachers on board with wanting to revamp lesson plans that they have been using for years.

The benefits of using technology in the classroom are limitless. I have two school aged kids and I am certain that neither one of them will be using textbooks by the time they graduate high school. Their knowledge of technology will put most of ours to shame and if we don't encourage technology in the classrooms then we are cheating our students. Dragging our heels and trying to stop it from happening isn't going to work, it is only going to put us further behind. As teachers, we can share lesson plans all around the world and access people around the world and introduce our students to amazing things.

One thing that Ms. Cassidy said that really stood out to me was "Why would a child want to write on paper so that I can see it, when they can write on their blog and the whole world can see it." Children love an audience and praise so why not give it to them and see where they can go with it?

Interview with Kathy Cassidy Part 1
Interview with Kathy Cassidy Part 2
Interview with Kathy Cassidy Part 3

Project #10 Interview

Project #12A

Friday, November 1, 2013

C4K October

C4K #5

front book cover of Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper goldfish jumping out of fishbowl
For this student blog that I was assigned was a boy named Thomas Pickle. Thomas Pickle's class was reading a book "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper. Thomas' teacher assigned them questions to answer about Chapter 7 -

1. Right away in Chapter 7, Melody talks about how she dreams she can do anything. Think about a dream that you have had. How can you make that dream into a reality?
2. Why do you think it is hard for teachers to stay with Melody and her class?
3. Why do you think the episode with Mrs. Billups is important to the story as a whole?
Thomas responded to the questions with:
If she were the way she is in her dreams she would be so so happy compared to how she is now.
I think its hard beacause they dont under stand them and they dont really have any control of ther bodies.
I think mrs.Billups thoght they were the dumbest most disabled people in the universe so I think its good that Melodys mom had a big fight with mrs.Billups

In my comment to Thomas Pickle, I let him know that I liked his answers to the questions and that he had used complete sentences like his teacher asked. I also let him know that because of his responses, he had me interested in the book and I wanted to read it.

C4K #6

swimming pool in a backyard with four young boys holding hands and jumping in together
This student blog I was assigned to a student named Jay. Jay's teacher gave the class 10 questions to choose from and write about on their blog. Jay chose to write about his hobbies. Jay said - My hobbies are: playing video games, reading, and swimming.Yay!

I commented to Jay that I really liked his list of hobbies and that swimming was one of my favorites. Jay lives in Canada so I wrote to him about how winter was just starting to make it's way here and our swimming season was coming to an end. I let him know that it was 23 degrees Celsius (74 degrees Fahrenheit) for Mobile that day and wondered if that was perfect swimming weather for him.

C4K #7

blue monorail travelling over parking lot
In this blog, I was assigned a student named Spencer from Christchurch, New Zealand. Spencer was given a choice of two topics to blog about and he chose to write about his three wishes for Christchurch city rebuild. His first wish is a monorail for all the tourists and locals to travel in and it would be free to do this. His second wish was a new big pool. After he described it, it sounded like a water park. His third wish was for the city to build a theme park with submarine rides to see dolphins and whales and a giant roller coaster.

In my comments left for Spencer, I told him how much I liked his ideas and that out of the three, I couldn't decide which one I liked the most. All of his ideas could help the city out. I also let him know that I liked his writing style and enjoyed reading his blog.

C4K #8

wheelchair sitting in front of stairs
For my fourth student blog this month, I read a blog from Christina in Ontario, Canada. Christina is in 7th grade and has also been assigned the book "Out of My Mind" and it was interesting to read her interpretation of the book versus my first student this month, Thomas. Christina wrote about how people were judging the main character Melody because of her appearances and not who she truly is. Christina also wrote about not underestimating anybody.

In my comments to Christina, I told her how I thoroughly enjoyed reading her post. I told her that at the beginning of the month, I had been assigned to a different student whom had read the same book and had to respond on it. I told her that between the two of them, I wanted to read the book. I encouraged her to keep working hard and to try expanding on her answers.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog Post #10

What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?

Randy Pausch standing at podium delivering speech
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams is an inspirational lecture that I am glad to have had the privilege to watch. In this lecture, Randy Pausch talks about how he made his life a success and how he made his childhood dreams come true. There was a lot to be learned from this lecture and lots of inspirational wisdom to help in my teaching career. One of the most profound things that Pausch said was "Brick wall are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things." Everybody encounters some type of brick wall in their life and how they handle the situation dictates how they move forward. When it comes to teaching, we will constantly run into brick walls whether it is dealing with administration, fellow teachers or even students. When you fight through that brick wall, it will show someone just how important something is to you. Another thing that can be learned from this lecture is "Anything is possible and that is something we shouldn't lose sight of." Because somebody believed in the possible, electricity was discovered, computers were invented and cell phones are more popular than landline phones now. As teachers we have an opportunity to help students believe in the possible and discover something we think is impossible. Pausch stated "when you're screwing up and nobody is saying anything anymore, it means they've given up" and that is a statement that really needs some reflection. If we were all to think about all the people that have come in and out of our lives, we will remember the ones that once cared and would speak up to correct you and then one day they just stopped and those people have less impact on your life today. As a society, we need to learn how to accept when people are saying something about how we are screwing up and turn that knowledge into power and become better. Of course, it's also in how you say something to someone and while honesty should be given, you can also have some tact and not be condescending.

quote by Randy Pausch about brick walls
While watching this video, I spent over an hour writing down lesson learned after lesson learned and came up with three pages of notes. My notes are just short sentences or key words that I know is only half of the important information in the lecture. I look forward to rewatching this video and taking more notes of all that I missed. Of all the advice given in this lecture, the one that stood out most to me was "never lose the child-like wonder - it's just too important, it's what drives us." I love walking into a classroom and watching the faces of the students as they discover something new or figure out how to work a math problem out. Elementary students are going to learn soon enough about gun violence, drugs, job loss and illness but right now, most students aren't affected by any of that. As a teacher, I have the opportunity to teach them anything and everything I can because their thirst for knowledge is extensive. As a teacher, I can also learn that by always having a thirst for knowledge, I will only become a better teacher.

Project #14

a child's homemade volcano
Project-Based Learning Lesson Plan

For this lesson plan, I prepared a week long lesson plan for 4th graders. The courses of study that will be covered are English Language, Writing, Social Studies, Public Speaking and Science. Students will begin the week watching a video about volcanoes. When the video is over, I will split the students into group of four (based on a class having 24 students). Each group will then be assigned a different volcano for research. Possible research topics are Mount St. Helens, Mount Vesuvius, Mauna Loa, Mount Pinatubo, Mount Bromo and Mount Etna. While in group, students will research their volcano using icurio or discovery education and prepare a rough draft. Groups will then exchange rough drafts for review and then final papers will be prepared. Groups will then create a replica of their volcano using Model Magic and paint. At the end of the week, groups will present their research paper and volcano model. Peers will evaluate the students research paper presentation with a rubric and I will evaluate the groups on their volcano model with a rubric. On the final day of this unit, I will bring in a volcano model that I made and will put baking soda and vinegar in my volcano and let the students see how a volcano can erupt. For a complete look at my lesson plan please visit my classroom webpage, Ms. Hamrick's Classroom

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post #9

What can we learn about teaching and learning from these teachers?
By: Jennifer Hamrick and Dominique Jones

logo from movie Back to the Future
What we can learn from Brian Crosby in, Back to the Future, is how Mr. Crosby didn't let statistics or labels on his students hold him back from teaching them. His 4th grade class started the year with most of them not knowing what city they lived in nor their phone number. Mr. Crosby developed a project titled High Hopes and was about active learning and empowering his students to be learners. This project turned into more than just a science project. The lesson taught the students how to communicate with others, how to write a story, science and to articulate orally. It also helped the student teach themselves and problem solve on their own. In one instance, Mr. Crosby had asked the students to write down what their high hopes were for the future to be sent up in their project. One student thought outside of the box and asked if they could include other students “high hopes”. The students that they had been communicating with from around the world. By thinking outside of the box, the students’ world was opened up to current events around the world. Mr. Crosby also had an opportunity to help a student with leukemia. Celeste was a student enrolled in his class but couldn't attend class because of her fight against leukemia. Mr. Crosby used technology and webcams and helped Celeste be a part of his class on a regular basis. Mr. Crosby hasn't let statistics, labels, or standardized tests dictate how his classroom will run and we think that by thinking outside of the box and letting students be a part of their learning is the biggest lesson we could learn from this video.

Blended Learning Cycle picture In the video, Blended Learning Cycle, we learned about the Blended Learning Cycle. It is about taking compelling parts of online, mobile and classroom learning and blending them together with the 5 E’s of the learning cycle - engage, explore, explain, expand and evaluate.Paul thinks this is very useful in teaching Science. This is how the Blended Learning Cycle works: 1.Question - come up with a hook - You need a good question that will get their attention. 2.Investigation- How does this work? 3.Video- He puts his podcasts on videos and the students can look at it in their free time. 4.Elaboration- Use diagrams. 5.Review -Asks students about the material. If the students do not understand the material they can not go on to the summary quiz. The summary quiz test the students on the material and if they do not know it they have to go back. After the summary quiz is when the students take a test. The Blended Learning Cycle really engages students and stops burp-back education.

front cover of the book Making Thinking Visible
In the last video, Making Thinking Visible, Mark Church asks his students to come up with a headline about early human beginnings. The students watched a video that pertained to this the day before. The kids are divided in groups and have to come up with a headline on how challenging it is to find early remains and what they know about early human remains . It gets students to think and how their opinions have changed since watching the video. By putting the kids in a group, they get to discuss and share ideas to come up with a better understanding. Each group has something different.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

C4T #2

For my second C4T, I read blogs from SpeEdChange written by Ira Socol. The first blog that I read and responded to was Seven Pathways to a New Professionalism in which Ms. Socol discussed working in Albemarle County Public Schools and the changes that were made in their 26 schools because of a project titled Design 2015. Design 2015 is a project that started out by asking the 26 schools in the district to describe a change they wanted in student learning and to tell of a project that could break the barriers that stood in the way. Some schools knocked down walls, literally, others needed more technology and some just wanted more comfortable furniture. No matter what the schools were looking for, what they wanted most was for children to interact broadly with the world using contemporary technology and to be makers most of their days. They wanted to help children become successful adults which led to the first two learning pathways out of the seven. Five other essential pathways were discovered: Project/Problem/Passion-Based Learning, Choice and Comfort, Connectivity, Universal Design for Learning and Instructional Tolerance. Ms. Socol also challenged universities to reimagine teacher professional learning because they need educators who enable opportunity and create access.

My Response: In my response to Ms. Socol, I told her about this class (EDM310) that I was taking and how we were being challenged to think outside of the box and become teachers like she is asking for. I enjoyed reading about the changes Design 2015 was making in her schools and plan on following their journey.
words relating to passion based learning
The second blog post that I read was All the "good people"In this blog, Ms. Socol challenged us with wondering why we put up with bad teachers. Why are we selling our children short with teachers who are unwilling to change with the times or administrators who don't want to upset their staff. She wants to know why are we treating our students like "second class citizens" and when did a school employees right to be lazy become more important that a child's right to the best education available. She is challenging current and future teachers to become active learners and if this was your child, what kind of professional or leader would you want in their school?

My Response: In my response to Ms. Socol, I let her know how much I really enjoyed reading her blog and how honest and straight forward she was. I like that she challenged the "typical" teacher and wants only the best for our children's future. I related treating our schools like a business and our students as the customer. We need to take care of our "customers" or our businesses are going to fail.

Blog Post #8

21st Century Learning and Communicating Tools
By: Jennifer Hamrick
spelling city logo
When I began my search for some 21st century learning and communicating tools, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for and had to spend a lot of time weeding through various web pages to determine if the content was good enough to be brought into a classroom. One site that I found was Spelling City. I personally could have spent days playing on this website just to discover all the options. The main thing that I liked best about this website is that it is set up to provide help for all elementary grade levels. At first, I didn’t like that I couldn’t select a specific grade level to help break down the options but then realized that by keeping the options open, advanced children could try harder games and challenge themselves. On this site, there is a game titled HangMouse. It is very similar to the game Hangman. The student can select from a list of 14 different word lists ranging from color words to math words. The color words list is great for lower grades. A specific number of dashes will appear on the screen with the alphabet underneath them. The student then picks a letter, the mouse walks over to the cheese that the cat is guarding and if the letter is in the word, the mouse gets a bite of cheese and the letter appears in the spot that it would in the word. If the letter isn’t in the word, the mouse doesn’t get a bite of cheese. This game is great for lower grades because it helps with letter recognition and identifying color words. Students also have to use problem solving. If five dashes appear on the screen, then they use deductive reasoning and realize that the word red or pink won’t work but, green or white might work and they can select an “e” and see where it appears on the screen. If an “e” doesn’t appear, then maybe the word is black or brown. For a higher grade level game, I came across Speedy Speller. Again the students had 14 word lists to choose from and I selected science words. The goal of this game is to listen to the word being said and then type it correctly. The game is looking for the person who can spell 10 words the fastest. After the computer says the word, it also uses the word in a sentence while the child types the word. For this particular word list, words that needed to be spelled correctly were terrarium and ecosystem which makes this game more for the higher grades. While searching around, I noticed something that looked similar to a notebook and asked you to type words in the spaces to make a word list. I put in some 1st grade spelling words and then had the option to take a spelling test. The computer recognized the words I had used to make the list and then read them to me like I was taking a test. The word is read to you and followed with a sentence so you know how the word is being used. You have the option to rehear the word or the sentence. When done, you select check me and find out how you did. If you miss a word, you can select a button that says, “teach me” and the computer will phonetically help by sounding out the word, respelling it and using it in a sentence. This is something you can use for all grade levels since you get to make the list yourself.

edmodo logo in a thinking bubble
Another website that I found was Edmodo. While researching Edmodo, the best comparison I could come up with is it is similar to Sakai. It is a safe social-learning site for students and provides an easy way for teachers, students and parents to communicate. Teacher can place assignments into a calendar for students to know what is due and when. Students can submit journal entries through assignments right to the teacher. Teachers can prepare their own quizzes and polls to assess the student’s knowledge. A poll can even be made before a unit begins to see what the students think it is actually going to be about. Parents are able to set up accounts also so that they can communicate with the teacher and monitor their child’s grades and upcoming assignments. Parents can select text notifications and be alerted via their cell phones of special dates or changes to their students account. While this might currently be a little too in depth or advanced for lower level elementary kids, what essentially hooked me to this site was the Teacher Network/Communities. I signed up for a free account and when I logged in, I was taken to a page very similar to the News Feed page on Facebook. The difference is that it’s a page full of teachers either asking for assistance or offering up information they have found. One teacher left a message about how her students were studying the Civil War and having a hard time remembering the dates and keeping things straight. She thought a timeline would really help them out and did anybody have any suggestions where she could find a great site to help with this. Instantly from around the world, teachers started offering up sights and how they used them. This is a website that I will be adding to my PLN even if I only use it for the Community Page and never in my classroom.

21st Century Learning and Communicating Tools
By: Dominique Jones

The website I chose is a gaming website and an app that you can download on any Apple product for students in grade levels K-5. This website was designed to focus on the student, parent, and teacher. You can chose which grade level. Next you pick a category which includes letters, numbers, holidays, more (shapes, art, social studies). One game that kindergartners can play is letter bingo. There is a bingo board set up and it pronounces the letter and you chose which letter is correct. The point of the game is to get 3 squares in a row and it is graded after you get bingo. Another game that I liked was Typing Race Keyboard Practice for grades 2-5. This game is to help children practice using the keyboard. There is a race car and there are letters, numbers, or punctuation marks ahead. Every level you pass the cars goes a little faster so you’ll have to type your words faster. The point of this game is for the student to not let the car run out of gas. I would make the children use this website during free time in the class maybe once or twice a week. I think this is a great website because students are getting familiar with using technology and their learning at the same time. I chose this tool because it is easy to use and fun. Students can access this website from their home with the help of their parents.

Project #9

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Project #13

Project Based Learning Plans

by: Jennifer Hamrick and Dominique Jones

pictures of various famous Alabamians that says Alabama Hall of Fame
In this lesson plan, 4th graders will prepare a presentation on a famous Alabamian. Students will begin by researching their choice of Alabamian through icurio or Discovery Education. Once research is completed students will prepare an outline using an online outline tool. Students will then write a rough draft that their peers will review. Once corrections are made, a final draft will be prepared for review by their teacher. Lastly, the students will stand before their class and present their research paper. Through a rubric, the student's peers will critique them on their writing and performance during their presentation. For full details, a calendar and core standards covered, please visit our classroom website

C4K September Summary

C4K #1 - Elizabeth-Nicole

Elizabeth-Nicole is a 10th grader at Baldwin County High School and her blog was "I Believe In Cooking Beef Stew". She wrote about the tradition in her family of cooking beef stew and how it brings the family together. Elizabeth-Nicole believes that "beef stew is the best home cooked meal ever." In my response to Elizabeth-Nicole, I let her know that I liked the connection she made between the cooking of beef stew and her family. I wrote to her about my father's best ever spaghetti sauce.

C4K #2 -
lego version of Jango Fett
Simon wrote about Jango Fett who is a Star Wars character. He told about Jango Fett being the starter of the clones. The Clones were made to fight droids. I commented to Simon that his choice of topic had me interested and caused me to research it more. I let Simon know that I had two little girls so, all I knew about was Barbies and My Little Ponies.

C4K#3 - Melaia

Melaia posted a picture of her weekly reflection that had a goal for the current week and the following week. The current week's goal was "this week I want to finish my math whiz". The following week Melaia wrote "I want to learn to finishing all of my work." I responded to Melaia that I liked her weekly reflection and the goals she was setting for herself. I told her that goals are important and how they give you something to reach for.

sign saying The American Dream with Dream in red, white and blue
C4K #4 - Lauren

Lauren wrote about "The American Dream". Lauren wrote about the goals of our government and how they all lied within the idea of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Lauren commented on how we take for granted what our founding fathers created. Lauren discusses that in other countries, being a leader is dangerous. I wrote to Lauren about how much I like history and studying it history. I let Lauren know that I liked her writing style and how easy it was to read her blog. I was able to understand Lauren's blog and knew what her opinion was. I also let Lauren know that her blog was one of my favorites to read thus far.

Blog Post #7

What can you learn from these conversations with Anthony Capps?
By: Jennifer Hamrick and Dominique Jones

After watching the videos Project Based Learning Part 1 and Project Based Learning Part 2, what we learned from the conversations with Anthony Capps is why Project Based Learning is important and the benefits for the students. Project Based Learning is a method which you learn by. It is not to show what you have learned at the end of a lesson. The project is the lesson. It is a not just a means to show that the student has achieved something it means to get the students to learn something. There are four goals for preparing a project and they are an authentic audience, make sure it has the students interest, it should involve the community somehow and driven by content. We learned that you want an authentic audience because the students will take more pride in their work and try harder. The project needs to have the student’s interest so that it relates to the students lives. Involving the community shows the students how this project can be used in the “real” world. Driven by content means that the curriculum meets the Alabama and Federal Standards. A very crucial part of Project Based Learning is the opportunity for students to revise and reflect on their work. Also, you should never limit a student on their research. You will always get more than you expected if you don’t limit them. Collaboration is sometimes hard for the students and they don’t care for that part but, the students love doing the projects and learning in this manner. Giving a student a choice is another great aspect of Project Based Learning. When a student is given a choice then you give them ownership and pride in the work they are doing. Most importantly what we learned is that, when students are engaged, they are also learning.

screenshot of Anthony Capps and John Strange
In the video iCurio, Anthony Capps discusses the four main benefits to icurio in his opinion. The first benefit that we learned is that icurio is an online tool that allows students to safely search websites that have been pulled along with images and videos for educational purposes. Essentially, it is a filtered website safe for children to use to research. The second benefit is the storage capacity for students. It gives students practice in organizing online and how to store and find valuable information they may need in the future. A third benefit to icurio is the directory feature made available to students to help guide them in their searches. And lastly, icurio has a read aloud feature so students who are unable to read the screen can have the screen read to them and research can still be done.

In the video Discovery Education, Anthony Capps talks about the website Discovery Education. The main points that we learned about this website is that with the text research video and visual resources are available. By using this it helps students to visualize what they are learning about. If a class was learning about volcanoes, they could not only read about them but see pictures and watch a video of some erupting. With Discovery Education you can bring the experts into the classroom via video and essentially take a field trip to the other side of the world. This website is a great enrichment to a student’s research experience.

Use Tech Don't Teach It and Additional Thought About Lessons
By: Jennifer Hamrick

In the video UseTech Don'tTeachIt, Anthony Capps talks about using technology in the classroom and not just teaching it. Some of the things that I learned from this video is how students really enjoy the opportunity to use technology to prove what they have learned or to learn something. To kids, technology is natural. I learned that technology shouldn’t be taught. Instead it should be a part of your curriculum and you should design your project around it. Think of a scaffolding and build around that concept. Let the students use the research tool the first week. Then let them use a video tool the following week. During the third week, have the students do a research project that requires a video component. One thing to remember is that you should only choose one technology at a time to learn and give the students ample time to use and review. Then let them continue using what they have learned as you introduce the next tool. Some of the benefits of using technology is that it gives students an opportunity to express themselves by creating. It’s shareable and it’s real. Students won’t be using this kind of technology in their 20’s but this will be the stepping stone to get them started on what they will be using by then. Don’t forget to let students make mistakes. By letting students make mistakes and reflect on them, they learn and can improve. Lastly what I learned is, do the project yourself first. It won’t make you knowledgeable enough to answer all your student’s questions but it can help you understand why they might be asking that question.

In the video Additional Thought About Lessons , Anthony Capps explained his theory on the 4 layers that are necessary for having a successful lesson. What I learned from this lesson is that when breaking down a lesson into 4 parts, you first start big. Figure out how the lesson plan will fit into your school year and is all the content standards covered. The next layer is breaking the lesson down into projects or units. Decide how you will unfold the unit to make sure it is meaningful and it all connects in some way. The third layer would be knowing what you will teach weekly. Ensuring that everyday you get something done. And the last layer which is just as important as the the other three layers is the daily lesson. You will need to plan on how you will deliver the unit to your students, grasp their attention and then keep them engaged. In this video, Anthony Capps referred to this process once as a stair step and I really liked that thought process. When I began to think about making a lesson plan and treated it like a stair step, it made it much easier and not as overwhelming.

The Anthony-Strange Tips for Teachers Part 1 by Dominique Jones
In this video Anthony Capps, a third grade teacher at Gulf Shores Elementary, and Dr. Strange made a list of of things that teachers should know.

Six things teachers should know:
1. Teachers should be interested in learning,if you are not a learner you will not be a successful educator. You need to constantly learn even outside the classroom.
2. Teaching is hard work and can be fun. It is a constant process and is very rewarding.
3.Teachers need to be flexible and creative.Be prepared for the unexpected to happen.
4. Start with a goal. Ask yourself what do you want the outcome to be. If it is not looking like what you wanted it to be, you need to be flexible and change your plans and still be able to have the same outcome.
5.Engage students 100% of the time. It is critical that no child is left behind. Make the lessons exciting so that kids are motivated to learn.
6. Reflect, revise, and share work with an audience. Get your students to give more presentations and have the audience reflect. Also self -reflection is beneficial to learning.

I really enjoyed this video. I thought the tips were simple and will be easy to implement when I become a teacher. Most of these tips I already knew about but being prepared for things to go unexpected never really crossed my mind. I always need to have a back up plan because situations will arise when I may need to change my lesson plan. Also, knowing how to keep a student engaged may be harder to do than to it sounds. I know it may take me a while to figure out how to keep a student engage but that is the process of learning. I am very glad I watched this video because it is very helpful.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Project #2 - Personal Learning Network

For my PLN, I chose to use Symbaloo. When looking at my options, Symbaloo appeared to be one of the easiest to use and get started. I enjoy being able to log into one account and have access to all the other websites that I go to on a daily basis. I look forward to filling up my tile board and having to start a new one because I have found so many useful websites to use.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blog Post #6

What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?

child thinking and holding a green question mark
While researching this topic, I came up with a few conclusions of what we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher and how to implement an effective plan towards this. One of the first articles that I read was, The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom. In this article, it was asked "What does a teacher asking questions of a class expect the class to learn from the questioning process?" Which essentially means, what is the point of asking questions in the classroom? Are you trying to assess how much your students have actually learned or are you just trying to pass some time until the bell rings. We need to quit assuming that our teaching style is effective on all our students and make sure we learn how to teach effectively for all students. Most importantly we need to stop asking "Does everybody understand?", listening for a few "yeses" and then moving on to the next topic or subject. Asking questions like the above question doesn't confirm understanding, it only confirms that a teacher is getting ready to move on.

One way that we, as teachers, can prepare for asking better questions is to assess our lesson plan and put questions in our lesson where we want those questions asked. Figure out where questions would be effective. Would asking questions in the middle of the lecture or activity help assess understanding. In, Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom some other ideas are "Play with Questions" and "Preserve Good Questions". When you play with the questions that you are going to ask, you are trying to figure out how to best engage your students. At what point will your question be the most thought-provoking. You could write a question on the board for students to see when they come into class but not answer it for awhile. You could have students get together and answer the question to a group consensus, then collect the answers and then discuss the correct answer with the class. Preserving good questions asked is important also. When you know the answer to the questions you are going to ask your class, you don't realize that they still might not understand what you are teaching. When a student asks you a good question, remember it and add it to your lesson plan because another student may want to know the same thing.
a sign stating what do you remember about my story

When asking questions in your classroom don't forget to validate your student's answer and respond appropriately. Asking Questions to Improve Learning is a resource that pointed out five things to help students respond effectively to your questions. The first thing you should do is "wait for students to think and formulate responses". You should wait 5 - 10 seconds after asking the students a question before selecting or picking someone to answer the question. This will encourage all students to think about the answer to the question because they aren't sure if they will be picked or not. Second thing to remember is "do not interrupt students' answers". If you allow a student to finish what they are trying to say, it will help you to know if they understand the lesson and it can also lead to giving credit for their idea. Thirdly, "show that you are interested in students' answers, whether right or wrong". Don't look away from a student as they are talking, look at them and acknowledge them and show you are listening to them. Some students need to feel encouraged to speak out in a classroom of their peers and by showing interest you can help with that. Fourth thing you can do is "develop responses that keep students thinking." You can do this by asking another student to respond to a previous students answer or even ask the student that asked the question how they came up with that answer. Lastly, "if a student gives an incorrect answer or weak answer, point out what is incorrect or weak about the answer, but ask the student a follow-up question that will lead that student, and the class, to the correct or stronger answer". If the student has overlooked an important part of the lesson plan in their answer, you can ask them to recall something about the lesson plan to help lead them to the answer and also open the questions up to the class.

In order to be an effective teacher, what I need to know most about asking questions is that I need to engage my students. If I am going to ask 300 questions a day, they need to be productive and worthwhile. I need to make sure that all my students understand the lesson plan before moving on and the way to ensure that to ask lots and lots of questions.

Sunday, September 22, 2013