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.