Saturday, July 23, 2011

Final Reflection Video

Dr. Strange, I actually counted the hours.  For me this course required 229 hours (including time spent in class and working on group projects).  I read, several times, to expect 128 hours.

( I failed to thank my team leader, Carly-- a very creative girl, with a tall personality.  Thanks for those creative posts, the suggestions, and helping with our final project.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Final Project

Last year I worked with a group of middle school students to create a school newspaper.  Because of this course, I discovered new ways to involve technology in creating classroom news.  Gemini Sigler, Amy Wilborn, and I worked together to create a digital document on Pages, an Apple software program for page layout.  None of us had done much work on the Mac.  We approached this project, prepared to learn something new, while applying skills we gained in EDM 310.  Although the Pages product is beautiful and easy to use, we met some challenges in preparing the document to achieve our goal.  Our project is discussed in a podcast for this post.

During preparation for this project I learned from Dr. Strange that you could create a newspaper based on tweets. A very fresh idea that I would like to explore. Carly Pugh suggested I look at Transglobal Free Press.  This was another really interesting twist showing how the world's "newspaper" is evolving.  Sharing ideas as a community has been such a vital part of this process.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blog Post #14


I am writing a report about reading 1984 by George Orwell.  I had read only an excerpt from this book in the past.  For blog post #14, I chose to read the entire book.  For my report I will write more about my interaction with reading the book and in context to this course, rather than reporting on the book itself.

Click here for a plot summary            

I "read" the book in a 24 hour period.  I listened to an mp3 audio book.  Not having a great deal of time, I set the speed to read at a fast pace.  These were both first experiences for me.  In doing this, I lost some aesthetic experiences that I love about reading, but I gained having the experience at all.  Reading the book sparked an informative conversation with my husband about some background history.  We discussed Orwell's pen name and the fact that he participated in the Spanish Civil War.  We also discussed fascism, communism, and other related ideologies.  We further discussed how these traps come disguised in our world today.

Although by quickly "reading" this novel, I personally missed some of the things I love about reading itself; none the less, I participated in the things I aim for my students to do when they read.  Make connections!  I imagined myself teaching a chapter of the book [chapter 7, part 2 was my favorite--When Winston has a profound memory of the past--- remembering his mother and sister, and his stealing chocolate] and helping my students make thoughtful explorations of the material.  How does it relate to the past and present?  Do you see any implications in our lives today? (I did.)  I also read some poetry by Orwell today.

I enjoyed the book "like a girl."  I got very bored with the parts where Winston read the explanation of the Big Brother/Brotherhood ideology.  I also know that other readers might absolutely love to pick apart the analogies in these sections.  I loved part 2 because their was character dialogue and interaction. I hated Winston for his defeat in the end, but understood that The Party killed him.  I understand why the book is a classic.  It is current no matter when, or how fast you read it.

Final Report on My PLN....

I am far from having a "works-just-4-me" PLN. What I am gaining on my journey are reasons to build one. I am not always successful at set-up, but understanding the uses and helpful aspects has been a huge step for me. Even in the last few days, I have bookmarked many places on the web for later discovery. I continue to improve at the little skills to help me navigate. I'm building understanding for RSS and Twitter, especially as I have interactions with great contributors.


I visited Larry Ferlazzo's award, award, award, winning blog.  He provided a treasure trove of sites to give his students practice in writing for an "Authentic Audience.".  In working on creating a list for his students he shared generously with others.  His criteria for these sites were that they be easy for students to write short pieces, and that they would find good models of other writings. In the comments, other teachers have also added to the list.  Terrific!

Mr. Ferlazzo asks an important question in his latest blog:  "What Should  Should Teachers Be Doing During Student Voluntary Reading Time?"  He provided links to an article and video discussing how interacting through conversation greatly improve student reading comprehension.

I am currently taking a reading foundations class, and our textbook supports this same practice.  I was glad to have an opportunity to explore this further.  I was blown away with the incredible amount of useful information that Mr. Ferlazzo had added between my previous visit and today.  Wow!  I put a bookmark on delicious because I need some time to spend with the links.  I've included an excerpt and links from his post:

"In an article in the Journal of Educational Psychology, researchers found that teachers providing individual feedback to students during this kind of reading time was, by far, one of the most effective ways to help improve students’ reading ability. It primarily looked at students using their silent reading time to read class text (thought not exclusively), but it seems close enough to the basic ideas of Free Voluntary Reading that we should carefully consider what they found.
You can watch a video about the study, too, at Best Practices Weekly."
student with book

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog Assignment #13


I enjoyed this assignment because I had time to "look and learn." I visited an educational site created by Jose Picardo.  I had never visited a site like it before.  Right away my mind was gleaning ideas to use in the classroom.  One idea I discovered was putting a quiz with a blog post.  I read something and had an idea for using video to teach writing dialogue.  I love when my head reels with ideas.

Jose Picardo also shared 10 tips for using technology in the classroom.  He gave me some ideas for things I want to explore.  I would like to play with game makers.  I am very open to using music and social networking in the classroom.  I had never heard of animotoSo many new possibilities.  My favorite quote from Mr. Picardo:  "Only use media when it helps you achieve your lesson objectives."  We must always guide the tool to target the goal.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blog Assignment #12

In this post I am to create my own topic.  What I have chosen is not something unique.  It is not something creative.  I wanted to write about a topic that has influenced a new perception. 
For this assignment I have asked myself to:
Write about how your opinions of blogging have changed since you started this course.  Explain what you have learned and relate it specifically to using blogging as a tool in the classroom setting.  Discuss this style of communication.  What do you believe makes it effective for students.

Blogging is fluid.  It is words in flux.  Just when you think you've got it, it changes.  When I started this course, I was unfamiliar.  When asked to blog, I was set on completing a task, and every aspect of completion was new.  I was distracted.  After recieving nice comments from Dr. Strange, I "whoo-hooed."    After receiving a comment from a more mature blogger, Denise Krebs, I explained to my kids, "It's like getting a sticker on your paper, and hanging it on the refrigerator." After a while, I began to understand how powerful it is.  It is a new form of communication.  Unlike writing a letter, blogging is immediate and global.

Even today, after reading Larry Ferlazzo's post, I am still discovering its uses.  Students can be engaged and empowered through blogging.  They can be impersonal and very personal.  They can be accountable, creative, and insightful.  Blogging will teach the power of words to communicate, to analyze, to correlate.  It can teach in a way I cannot.  Over these past six weeks, my views of blogging have changed.  Now I see it as a legitimate force to take myself and my students to new learning experiences.

How's the Final Project Coming?

Our group is Amy Wilborn, Gemini Sigler, and myself.  We worked well together on the Smart Board project.  Our idea has been narrowed to creating a classroom newspaper.  We haven't quite decided what the medium should be.  We have researched a newsletter format or a WIKI.  I think this collaboration will accomplish the overall goal for this project:  to use what we have learned in a new way and progress in using media in our future teaching.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Trailer

For this assignment I have created a book trailer for Gary Paulsen's book Woods Runner. I think this is a great book choice for the middle school student.  Woven into this historical fiction tale, are interesting facts that teach about the reality of the American Revolution.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teach Someone Something

Blog Assignment #11

field and long shadow

Ms. Cassidy's video Little Kids...Big Potential was truly inspirational.  What a joy to see children engaged in "today's" classroom.  Seeing students around technology--computers, Nintendos, video cameras--these are all sights we see continually.  But in the classroom?  Oh, yes! say the first graders in Ms. Cassidy's class.

I know after these weeks in EDM310, I have progressed so far.  "Could I be a Ms. Cassidy?"  I ask myself.  Could I reach a bar this high.  What would it take?  I would love to use podcasts and videos and blogs in my classroom. I ask again, "What will it take?"  My biggest fear is fear itself.  Where is the ever-present lab tech?  You're looking at her.  Frightful!   I would hope that I could relax enough to allow technology to become the teacher's favorite tool.

 If I had to state a plan it would certainly be to start small, but surely not to do nothing.  To do nothing would be to go backwards.  I would start small, but add often. I would seek out those who had done it successfully and ask questions.  After all, if I've learned anything it is that the community is large and full of wonder.  When I feel discouraged, I think I'll visit Ms. Cassidy's class again.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


nature photos

I visited Denise Kreb's web sight Dare to Care
How do creative teachers spend the summer months? Taking pictures? These  are some of  Ms. Kreb's nature photos [see correction in comment below]. Learn how to manage and post photos through this June/July/and August Project. Born in inspiration from a Twitter conversation, this project has you take one picture a day in June, July, and August.

In her latest post she gives lots of links to resources for new bloggers, like me.  Through her experience, she found it wise to have two blogs.  She has one for her students and one used professionally.

Special Assignment #2

photo University of Auckland

For this assignment we were given the task of discovering three useful tools for education:  Kahn Academy; iTunesU; and TED.  I will summarize and evaluate the importance of each.  I will discuss and share my reactions and what I have discovered.

Kahn Academy:  I listened to the founder, Salman Kahn discuss the beginnings of Kahn Academy with a group gathered at TED for a lecture in March 2011.  He discussed how he began creating tutorial videos in math.  He shared these videos on YouTube; and because of the positive feedback has developed a non-profit academy that has global reach.  He believes that use of these videos has "used technology to humanize the classroom."  The videos help in self-paced learning that provides anonymity and mastery for the learner.  Teachers and students might use these videos in self-guided learning, review, homework assignments, intervention.  The Kahn Academy program also provides important data for assessment.

I was excited to learn that he has topics that teach English skills.  I want to explore more, and yes, I would love to use this in my classroom, especially in teaching grammar.  I am surprised by this tool because it has such humble beginnings, yet such global reach.  Being free, these tools allow education to belong to nearly everyone around the world.
TED=Technology, Entertainment, Design: Established first as a conference in 1984, it is a nonprofit "devoted to ideas worth spreading." I see these collections being used in training or in the secondary education fields, especially in business or science.  I could see myself using TED if I wanted my students to see an innovative philosophy or concept. I think to bring such a global network of successful information is wonderful.  You no longer have to be in an elite group to learn from these highly successful people.  These lectures are available to all.

I wanted to learn more about Daniel Pink so I watched Dan Pink and the Surprising Science of Motivation.  This lecture was directed to the business community where Pink discusses a new approach to motivating employees.  Our social science data proves that rewarding based on outcome puts a narrow focus on a task and chokes creativity.  Pink believes focusing on three elements of behavior can greatly change outcomes.  These elements are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

The surprise for me came when I couldn't help relating these elements to the use of technology in the classroom.  The more educators give of this kind of motivation, the more students will be in control of their own learning.  Further, the more teachers will see students going beyond expectations.  TED has already given me a great nugget of personal insight.

This was a first visit.  It is my understanding that groups can use iTU to collect their technological teaching materials in one place and can store them for registered viewers and others.  I feel like schools might use this collection for training or conference material.  I'm not really sure how I might use it in the classroom, because I need to become more familiar with it.  I did take note that the interface had a "cooler, hip" feel to it.  I think students would like that, and they would most likely have easy access to it.

I enjoyed watching some tutorials on Pages an app for the iPad.  I especially enjoyed watching this just because I wanted to and was interested.  The beauty and ease of producing a news letter/magazine was inspiring.

Blog Assignment #10

Sometimes it's just feels good to watch something that makes you feel good.  I'm referring to watching an inspiring video on education called
collection of road signs

Do You Teach or Do You Educate?
I'm really glad that I can answer the question honestly, and feel good about it.

My daughter suggested that I needed a break because of all the work I was doing this summer. (I'm currently taking two college classes that indeed demand my time.)  She asked me if I liked school, but disliked all the work.  It was difficult to explain to an almost fourth grader that the work was gratifying.  Why is it gratifying?...because it makes me a better educator.

Adventures in Pencil Integration
As I am thinking still about the video I watched mentioned above,  I am trying to wrap my brain around the blog posts I've just read.  I am convinced that John T. Spencer is very clear on the fact of educating vs. teaching.  He says in one of his posts, "If my goal is to train students to use a particular paper, then I've failed miserably as a teacher."  I believe Mr. Spencer feels compelled to educate.  He probably sees himself as an educational warrior posted in an environment that chokes free thought..  He even says of himself that he is shy at baring his soul to others.  I think that is a driving force that makes him a writer.  Writing to him I'm sure makes the longing to educate bearable

At times in reading the blog, I was confused about who Mr. Spencer thought of as the enemy in his ongoing, waging war for education.  On the contrary,  he is perfectly clear about the battle for education, creativity, and free thought.  His blog becomes his voice to fuel the continued charge.