Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Additional Assignment #3

6a00d83451b64669e200e553a7e1f48833-popup.jpgSir Ken Robinson: Changing Educational Paradigms
      I think that there were a lot of things that were said in this video that I would call "important." One of them was definitely this quote: "Trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past." I feel like this is a common concern in many of our assigned readings and videos, and it obviously needs to be addressed because it is affecting so many people. I also thought his argument with ADHD was pretty important, and much debated. However, it was also the portion of the presentation of the video that I disagree with the most. At one point he mentioned that students are being "penalized" for getting distracted from "boring stuff." Almost like, obviously boring stuff is going to distract students. As a student who has been treated for ADHD for 7 years and still receive treatment, I feel like I can safely say that many people are mislead in their arguments against the treatment. The "boring stuff" is not the only thing that students get distracted from. I often find myself distracted from even things I enjoy, like television shows or movies and I often have to go back and watch it again just to know what happened because it is so easy to get distracted. I also think that the argument that treating attention disorders is harming the arts. I don't think of myself as any less creative than I was when I wasn't being treated. I still participate in the same activities, I still play piano. My creativity level has not been altered at all. To say that treatment should not necessarily occur would also have negative effects in the classroom. If you have these students with hyperactivity disorders they are going to be distracting both themselves and their classmates.
      Many of the ideas in the presentation were consistent with ideas that I have learned in my classes this semester in the College of Education. One thing that I have heard repeatedly is that a college degree no longer guarantees a job, you have to go above and beyond a degree to stand out from your peers. Also, we talk at length about reforming our public education system in my classes and creating a more modern system of education. 

Blog Post #10

graduatepencilrgb.jpgTom Johnson- Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home
     I really enjoyed reading this post and trying to figure out its message. In the post the two faculty members discuss the consequences of allowing children to take home pencils and use them at home. Gertrude argues that students who use pencils at home have lower standardized test scores. However, to counter that argument the point is made that in lower-income schools, students come in with a mentality that pencils are to be used for entertainment. The low test scores really have nothing to do with students using pencils at home. One quote that really stood out to me was this: "There's probably some learning that's taking place that we don't realize." I think this quote applies to many activities that children participate in. There are important educational ideas to be learned behind every activity, regardless of how significant the activity itself may actually seem. I think the same applies with technology, if we give students the time to just play around with technology on their own, they are going to be able to teach themselves and they will learn a lot of information about technology from it. I think this post really ties in with the video from our Additional Assignment #2.
Morgan Bayda's Post
    I thought that Morgan's post was really eye opening, and I really enjoyed the video that she included as well. She definitely described some scenarios that were relatable to my own experiences here at University of South Alabama. One of these scenarios would be when she discussed not being able to keep her brain focused during lectures. Sometimes we unfortunately have teachers that are just not concerned with keeping students interested in the material, and it becomes very simple to just drift off. I do believe that I am getting a good education here at South and as a whole I don't feel like I am wasting 4 years. However, I do think that some of my classes and experiences could have been better, more informational. A lot of the times I feel like I am taking a "cop-out" class just to get the credits needed to move on. Like Morgan, I feel like classes like EDM 310 are very beneficial in preparing students to handle technology and do better research. I think part of this sense of accomplishment comes from the fact that we have to do a lot of things for ourselves and figure them out using just the Instruction Manual. I have said it before and I'll say it again, I think that hands on learning is one of the best methods for retaining information and really getting a good grip on the materials being taught. 
     The video included in this post was of a student named Dan who dropped out of the University of Nebraska because he felt like going to school was getting in the way of him actually learning. He discusses how the universities in America are failing to advance and improve while the rest of the world is changing. I think this ties in with what I stated previously, if schools aren't going to get their students as involved in the material as possible, students are going to feel like they're wasting their time sitting behind closed doors when they could be out in the world actually doing stuff. 
Two Questions That Can Change Your Life
      I really, really enjoyed this video. Even though it wasn't very long, it brought a powerful message to the table and really got you thinking. The two questions presented in the video were: 1) What is my sentence? and 2) Was I better today than yesterday? Everyone should have a sentence about who they are and what they are doing in their life. We should use this sentence to navigate our lives and stay focused. I don't know that I can really say what my sentence is right now, I still need more time to figure out exactly where I am going.  However, I can say that I hope my sentence will be " I am doing my best to keep students focused on the positive outcomes of every situation: good or bad." Or at least something close to that. For the second question, I try to be better every day but it can often be a struggle. Some days I can really tell myself confidently that yes, I have been better. But we all must realize that we are human and humans make mistakes, we can't always expect to go forward in everything we do- but we can certainly put our best efforts forward.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blog Post #9

FYE Logo.JPG.jpgWhat I've Learned This Year- Mr. McClung
    In this post by Mr. McClung, he discusses the most important lessons that he learned during his first year of teaching. The first lesson he discusses is how to read the crowd. Teachers often become consumed by the idea that they are the most important person in the classroom. However, they need to realize that the audience- their students- are really the ones who drive the instruction. Teachers need to remember to check for students' comprehension instead of just gliding right through the lessons. The second piece of advice he offers is to be flexible. You may have the ability to create the perfect lesson, but that does not mean that everything will go according to plan. The most important thing for teachers to remember in this situation is that things are going to happen and things are not always going to go according to plan.When things go wrong, you have to make the best of the situation and keep going. The third lesson he discussed was about communication. Communication is essential in any workplace and it is absolutely necessary to have strong relationships with your fellow teachers. The fourth lesson was to be reasonable. Often times teachers set goals for their students that are simply not attainable. When teachers set their students up to "fail" in a sense it is only going to hurt their self-esteem. When discussing this lesson he stated "Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again." This quote really stood out to me because I think it speaks volumes of what our expected role as a teacher is. We have to be positive reinforcements for our students, we cannot constantly bring them down if they do not perform at certain levels. We need to make sure that they learn the material and give feedback in the most positive way possible. The fifth lesson was simply to not be afraid of technology. Technology is becoming more and more a part of our education systems, thus it will be critical that we master it. The only way to learn technology is by using it and not being afraid of it. The final lesson discussed in his post was to listen to your students. Student teacher relationships are important to have in a good classroom. One way to assure the appropriate level of respect is present in those relationships is to listen to your students. It is important to take interest in students' lives and to just take time to listen to the things they have to say. 
     I really enjoyed reading his post and I am so grateful that we were able to see into the first year of the rest of our lives. I think it will be really beneficial for us to know kind of what to expect. Also, I am only a junior so I was able to read this post and get an idea of what I need to be working on to be prepared. For example, I know for fact that I am the type of person who sets goals that are extremely high. Knowing that I cannot do this with my students, I can start working on setting more attainable goals now so that I have hopefully mastered it by the time I graduate. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Additional Assignment #2

How Kids Teach Themselves

1. What do you think? If learners are motivated, can they teach themselves?
I think that yes, if someone really has the desire and drive to learn then it is definitely possible for them to teach themselves.     2. If those motivated learners are kids, can they teach themselves?
I think to an extent they can teach themselves but it would certainly be a more limited selection as to what they could teach. However, as demonstrated in the video, the kids quickly taught themselves how to use computers in the other countries. 3. What conditions are necessary for kids to teach themselves? For anyone to teach him or herself?
I think the only thing that really needs to be present for the kids to learn is a really strong want to learn! If you can set your mind to it, then you are clearly willing to do what it takes to learn the best that you can. 4. What role do computers and internet access play in the process?
Computers and internet definitely facilitate the learning process easier and faster. With computers, children have immediate access to literally unlimited amounts of information about the world around them. However, I don't necessarily see them as an absolute requirement. With or without, a child can learn.5. What role does motivation, a desire to learn?
Motivation is what drives you to learn, it's what makes you willing to put up with all of the "brick walls" as Randy Pausch calls them. 6. What roles do a problem, a question or multiple problems or questions play in the process?
It depends on the learner, problems could easily discourage someone who is trying to learn. However, if the problems or questions are seen in the right light then they can really be good learning opportunities along the way. 7. How do you motivate someone to learn?
Feedback is really important for motivation. I also think that encouragement is very important as well. If students know that someone actually cares that they are doing well, then that will drive them to do even better.8. How are you motivated to learn?
I am motivated to learn by a number of things. One, I'm on scholarship so I kind of need to keep that up. However, even before I had a scholarship I was motivated to learn by feedback. Seeing how proud my parents would be when I got a good grade on a test or a paper really drove me to keep doing well in school.9. Can anyone who is not motivated to learn learn?
It's definitely more of a challenge to teach someone who is not motivated to learn, but it's not impossible.10. Do you teach yourself? When? Why?
I do often find myself teaching myself things. One specific time I remember very vividly was my freshmen year here at South. I was taking a math class and I just really didn't get the methods the teacher was using to teach the materials. Every day after class, I would go home and get my books out and just teach myself how to do it in a way that I understood it better. I did it because I knew that this was something that I could be good at and all it was was a misunderstanding in the teaching methods.11. What role does a teacher (either answer generally or use a specific example) play in your learning?
A teacher plays a huge role in my learning. One of my biggest motivators in high school was one of my teachers and I still talk to her to this day. Also, teachers I have now are important obviously because they are the ones teaching me the materials that I am currently learning. 12. What is the most important idea, question or emotional response you take away with you as a result of watching this video?
The most emotional response that I took away from this video was seeing the children in the less developed countries using the computers and figuring things out and watching them enjoy technology and actually being able to learn. 13. What other questions or issues are raised by this video that should be considered and discussed by aspiring teachers?
I think the most important thing for aspiring teachers to understand is how big of a role model they are going to be for their students and providing positive feedback and loving attention is priceless for a child.

TimeToast Timeline Project 9b

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blog Post #8

Richard Miller: This is How We Dream
   In parts one and two of this video, Richard Miller discusses changes in the way we write and share knowledge. In today's society, our workspace is a desktop. A desktop where we can type on Word Processing applications and you can research anything you want that is stored on the web. Books now have two forms- in print and a virtual, online form. The print form can disappear, but the virtual form will be online all of the time. Having dual forms makes the possibility of sharing knowledge infinite. Online/Virtual texts bring together text, images and videos all in one space. You can see things in an instant. One quote that really struck me was this "Ideas don't belong to us individually, but they belong to us as a culture." We can access almost anything we want to on the internet, and as teachers it will be our job to share our ideas without hesitation. Miller believes that students will eventually compose using digital composing materials instead of word processing. Composing on the web itself allows us to speak our dreams and share them with other people through the internet.
   I do not know that I am prepared to write with multimedia. It seems extremely detailed and intense but it makes sense as to why it is coming. Technology is our future. I think that if things continue to develop at such a rapid pace there is no question whether or not my students will be able to do this. That being said, if my students will be able to do this then I myself must also learn how to do this so that I will be able to help my students.
Chipper Series & EDM 310 For Dummies
    I thought that both of these videos were very interesting and well thought out. Both groups had very creative ideas and really made them interesting to watch. It's hard to watch other people's work then have to think of ideas for your own because you have that mental block where all you can come up with are the ideas you have just seen. For my video I think it would be fun to maybe do a talk show, or a reality show with different characters and contestants and scenarios. I still need to put more thought into it, but I think if I carried it out right it could really work. The primary message of Chipper Series was that you have to step up to the plate and do the work for yourself. If you go through life expecting other people to pick up your slack you are not going to make it very far. Life is hard, work is hard, but if you want to make something of yourself, you have to be willing to do the work and to make the effort. The primary message of EDM 310 For Dummies was that at first the students did not really understand the class or what they were doing in the class and thought it was pointless. They did not understand the websites they were being told to use like twitter, blogger, etc. However, once they learned how to use the tools properly and to the best benefit, they realized how beneficial all of it really was. The tools we learn in EDM 310 really are very beneficial. What we are doing in EDM 310 is not a waste of time, it is very helpful for us.
The Great SmartBoard Debate
    Both Michael Staton and Bill Ferriter's posts argue strongly against Smartboards. Staton argues that all Smartboards do is keep teachers from having to use a mouse and allows teachers to save content on the whiteboard which is something they could already do using screen shot. He notes that Smartboards are just a more expensive version of something that classrooms already have. They do not change what the teacher has to do nor do they decrease their workload. He also argues that they are an "administrative cop  out." The administration likes to spend money on technology and they like to spend it on big things that they can point to and count up. Ferriter agrees that Smartboards are no good. After using his Smartboard for a brief period, he actually gave his Smartboard away. He said that it was useless and did not make teaching his required curriculum any easier. Ferriter thinks that "Interactive whiteboards are an under-informed and irresponsible purchase." They do little to promote independent learning and imagination in children. He feels that by purchasing Smartboards, people are actually trying to buy the change they want to see in the classroom.
    However, in a blog I found by Patrick Black he strongly argues for the use of Smartboards linking them to special education. In his post "Smartboards & Special Education," he lists 5 reasons why Smartboards should be included in every special education classroom. 1) It's big; special education students respond well to visuals and using Smartboards teachers can implement very large visuals as well as share information with the entire classroom at one time. 2) It's flexible; Smartboards allow teachers to change what they're doing or looking at while still teaching without any major disruptions. 3) It's interactive; students do not have to worry about operating a mouse and a keyboard with a Smartboard. Instead they can just use the touch and click method and use pens if they wish, it's really much easier to use. 4) It's easy; most people can jump right into using a Smartboard, it may require a little training at most. Also, software works seamlessly with Smartboards for easy use. 5) It's fun; there are an endless number of fun activities for both student and teacher to do using the Smartboard technology. For information about his thoughts on Smartboards and their benefits you can visit his blog here.

TimeToast Timeline Project 9a

PLN Project #10 Progress Report

I am using Symbaloo to create my Personal Learning Network. It is still very much a work in progress, but I am slowly but surely figuring it all out. Some of the social aspects I have included in my Personal Learning Network are Facebook and Twitter. My Twitter account is morganmohler310. I am using my Twitter account to follow a great number of the teachers on the list from our syllabus as well as more "fun" things like various photographers since I am really interested in photography. For my educational aspects of my Personal Learning Network I am using the class blog, my EDM 310 blog, USA Online since I do A LOT of my school work through that website, USA Home site, the online USA library and various other websites that I frequently visit such as the Alabama State Department of Education website. I am still tweaking it and trying to make it perfect. For our next report on our Personal Learning Networks I am going to include a link so that everyone may visit it and see it for themselves. Right now it is still a little disorganized!

C4T Teacher #2

For these assignments I was assigned to the teachers Jarrod Lamshed, William Chamberlain, et. al. and their blog At The Teachers Desk. For my first comment, I commented on a post that was published August 27, 2010 entitled Student Learning Manifesto. This post was about getting his students to create a learning manifesto. He wants the students to consider 3 or 4 positive actions that thay can use to become a bettwe student. He included a video of Kiley, a student, in which she discusses her learning manifesto. One of the things she included in her manifesto was to use what she learns in school in every day life. On this post I commented that I think the Student Manifesto is a really good idea to get students involved in their learning. I think it is very important for students to learn at a young age that goals are important. They should create both challenging and realistic goals. By getting the students to come up with their own, it allows them to evaluate their own performance and figure out what areas need improving. When I become a teacher one day, I plan on trying to get students involved in as much hands on learning as possible because I think that the more kids actually do with the material, the more information they retain about it.  The second post I commented on was posted on September 30, 2010. In this post, a role as a team teacher of a math course is being discussed. One quote that really stood out to me was "Students are expected me to be able to help them identify why they don't 'get' something. How can this great professional development for me if I am not comfortable?" He talks about how he has become a student again, having to relearn this material with the students as they learn it. He feels that he is in over his head on this project because he feels uncomfortable since he does not understand the material fully either. However, through his team teaching he is learning both math and how to be a better teacher. For this post I commented that I thought what he was doing was really great and sometimes it is difficult to do things we are not absolutely 100% comfortable doing. Often times it is the ones we are most unsure of ourselves that we learn the greatest amount of information. It is inspiring to see someone so willing to discuss their self doubts and to over come those doubts as well. 

Blog Post #7

LastLectureCover.jpgRandy Pausch: The Last Lecture
    First, I want to say that I am so glad this blog post assignment came when it did. It was such good timing for me personally. It's the middle of the semester and I've reached that point where I'm just sick of school and want to be done and this was a good motivator for me to keep going. Before watching this, I had heard a lot of good things about it but had never gotten around to actually watching the video.
     In this lecture, Pausch discusses his childhood dreams, how he achieved them, and the lessons he has learned from them. His childhood dreams were: zero gravity, to play in the NFL, being an author in the World Book Encyclopedia, Being/Meeting Captain Kirk, winning stuffed animals, and being a Disney Imagineer. In some way or another, he achieved all of these dreams but one- playing in the NFL. However, it is this dream that he cites as being the dream that he learned the most from. He played football as a kid and one day at practice his coach rode him all day about what he was doing wrong and he never let up. When he was telling someone about this particular day at practice they told him something that changed his views completely. They said "When you're screwing up and nobody's saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up." This quote inspired not only him, but me as well when I heard it. You never really think about things in that light and so when someone shows it to you, it really opens your eyes up.
     After going through his list of childhood dreams and how each was accomplished or not, he goes on to talk about enabling the childhood dreams of others. He realized that he could do that by being a professor. He is a professor at Carnegie Mellon and he created a course called "Building Virtual Worlds."  There were 50 students in this course from all different colleges at the school. In the course, they were divided into 4 person teams to do projects 2 weeks at a time. At the end of the 2 weeks the groups would present their projects and over time more and more people came to watch these presentations. In his lecture, he included an example of one of the projects- the bunny and creating the world. I thought the  video was really cool and it was neat to watch someone just wave their hands and something come up on the screen. Eventually the class became a campus phenomenon. At the presentations, he tried to involve the audience using technology that was also used at the premiere of Spider Man 3 in LA. The technology let the audience control what was on the screen.
      He taught this course for 10 years before passing it along to someone else and creating something new. He worked with another staff member to create the Entertainment Technology Center. The ETC is a two year profession masters degree. When he was describing the course he said it was like Cirque du Soleil. People say Cirque du Soleil is like a circus, but not like any circus you have ever seen. ETC is a masters degree, but not like any masters degree you've ever seen. The course was all project based and really technology centered. At the end of this segment he said something really cool about how he felt about the ETC: "Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard." I think that quote speaks wonders about technology in the classroom. Kids find technology interesting, exciting and new. If we can merge something they find so exciting with education, they are really going to learn a lot more and it will most likely be easier for them to do so.
       The final topic of discussion was lessons learned. The lessons he has learning throughout are: mentors are important, work hard, don't complain, never lose the child-like wonder- it's what drives us, help others, have fun, loyalty is a 2-way street, never give up, be honest, focus on others, and show gratitude. If you lead your life the right way, the dreams will come to you. The very last thing he said in his lecture was my absolute favorite part of the entire thing. In the last seconds of the speech he said "This talk's not for you, it's for my kids."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

C4K Posts 1&2 Summary

For my first two assignments of C4K, I was assigned a student at Noel Jr. High. She is in the 8th grade there. Some of the things she enjoys are volleyball, family and Mexico. In my comments on her about me post I told her I was a college student and that I also played volleyball in middle school. I also encouraged her to keep blogging and working hard in school.

The 3 key points in her Learning Manifesto were to 1) Pay more attention in class, 2) Turn in her work on time, and 3) Never give up on her work. In my comments on this post I encouraged her to stick with her manifesto. I told her that she should never give up on her work and that nothing was impossible, some things just take longer than others. Also, being punctual is a valuable action to get in the habit of and it is something that is really positive trait for an individual to have. Finally, paying attention is essential in learning new materials so I thought that was very important to include as well.

I really enjoyed getting to know her and I really hope she sticks with her manifesto and has an extremely successful school year!

Blog Post #6

The Networked Student- Wendy Drexler
 I thought this video was both very informative and very relatable. It adequately described to the viewers what a networked student was- a student who does not necessarily have a text book and does majority of their learning through a self-created personal learning network about whatever subject he/she is learning. As a student of this EDM 310 class, I am a networked student. We are each taught to create our own personal learning networks did facilitate our learning experiences. This situation described in the video really reminded me of USA's Hybrid classes, we see the teacher maybe once a week and the rest is left up to us to learn. We have access to USA Online in which we can network with our classmates and discuss our classwork and have regular chapter discussions. We can also each other's questions if they have any because we are able to post it online.
 The purpose of having a teacher for the networked student is very logical. Student's do not automatically know how to create these learning networks, so they need teachers to be there to guide them, tell them how to do it, advise them on how to differentiate between reliable and non-reliable sources, and to help them take advantage of all of the learning opportunities presented to them.

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (PLE)
 This student's personal learning environment was extremely impressive. It's so strange to see how technologically advanced a seventh grader is these days. I really liked how organized it was and how she kept  her school materials separated from her "fun" things like social networks. She really took advantage of it and was able to show us how she was able to do her science work all through the internet and tie it into one easy location. My PLN is very much still a work in progress, so it's not nearly as impressive as hers. I definitely got some good ideas for my own PLN by watching this video.

The Machine is Changing Us- Michael Wesch
 I thought this video was very interesting and his speech was very well written and delivered. One of the first things he introduced was a concept of Media Ecology. The idea behind Media Ecology is that media are environments and that media mediates our conversations and our conversations then in turn change us. We are all shaped by the media. We rely on media to tell us everything, from how to dress to how to think. One thing I found particularly interesting was his comparison between the image of his classroom and the image of the crowd at American Idol auditions. The students in the classroom were extremely disengaged and uninterested in what was going on whereas the people at the auditions showed immense enthusiasm and interest.
 Another thing I found interesting was his question of "why do these people think they deserve to be stars?" and his response to is. When people come together to create media, they do so with one person in mind- you. The viewer, the listener, the reader. Each of us is the focus of concern for media creators. This idea that we are the target of this media creates a level of narcissism. The egotistical feature of this generation comes from that idea. That is why people truly believe they deserve to be stars.
 One of the most striking quotes of the whole presentation was "we know ourselves through our relations with others." I have found this to be true with myself in many situations. Through talking about things with other people, we learn a lot about ourselves and our views on various situations.
 I thought that Mr. Wesch did a good job at delivering the ideas and opinions he had to give and keeping the audience interested. He included things like funny quotes, funny clips and shocking statistics that always grabbed your attention. Some of the statistics I enjoyed were that over 1.7 million minutes of video are uploaded to YouTube daily, 99.9% of which are irrelevant to you. I think this is a very informative video that everyone should take the time to watch!