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.