Sunday, November 25, 2012

Progress Report on Final Project

This is a picture of a triangular sign with a person in front of a computer that says work in progress.

For my group's final project, we chose to produce a 10-15 minute video that will help prospective students get a general idea of what the class is about, what they should expect and etc. We are going to produce a video that includes a bit of comedy and humor, usage of green screen, what we have learned in the class, and include several interviews with past or current students in EDM310! This video is broken down into several sections so it is organized and has flow! Ideas are still in the air! A decision of what and how the video will be is not set yet.

We are using Google documents and e-mail to share information and ideas. We might use Skype for some of our interviews as a way to show prospective students how useful the tool is and its significance. Right now, we are still in the first stage of the project, which consists of brainstorming and planning. We are meeting tomorrow in order to advance into the second stage, the part where we will begin executing our plans. The final stage consists of revision, editing, and all the fun stuff! It is progressing slowly but we will make it through and have it done this week!

Blog Assignment #12

I admit that this is a late but I will do it either way. I feel that it's important and we, as students, have the power to help others learn or think about things they may not have before. I am a K-6 teacher education major, more so early childhood education, and I hope that this assignment will help future, as well as current, educators .

The post that I require you to read is a reply to a comment I posted on her blog for a C4T assignment. In the comment, I asked her a question. I asked her, "What advice would you give to a future educator?" Surprisingly, I received an entire blog post as a reply! That was exciting. In her posts, she lists several advice she would give to a future educator.


For this assignment, take some time to seriously read Andrea Hernandez's post, "So, You Want to Teach?". After reading her post, please follow the requirements in "Writing A Quality Blog Post" and do the following:

1. In two or more paragraphs, tell us a little bit about her, summarize the post, and explain the significance of this post.

2. a) Create your own list of at least 5 advice you would give to future or current educators (regardless if you are one or not). You may be surprised of the many different advice people would give based on their own experience!

b) Explain each of your advice in one or more sentences so your readers understand what you mean. Everyone interprets things differently.

3. In a short paragraph, write about why you think this assignment is given. Why was it important? Why was it helpful? Why did we need to create our own list of advice?

4. Please send Andrea Hernandez ( @edtechworkshop ) a thank you tweet! Remember to include #EDM310 in your tweet.

A Little Piece of Advice

This is a picture of Andrea Hernandez, currently a 21st century learning specialist.
Andrea Hernandez is the owner of a blog called "EdTech Workshop". Andrea Hernandez labels herself as a "passionate educator" and is currently exploring the usage of blogs as a platform for personalized learning and documenting the changes & growth in each subject. She is currently a 21st century learning specialist and instructional coach at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, facilitating online classes for Professional Learning Board and co-creating a conference called "EdJEWcon".

In her post, "So, You Want to Teach?", she gave future educators many helpful advice. In her list, she suggests that you find a mentor that you may look up to in order to learn from them, learn from everyone, be reflective, know yourself, understand that you are a learner, practice what you teach, work within your circle of influence, be prepared to work very hard, be prepared to be criticized, and to take care of yourself. You might have heard of some of these before or you might not. The advice she shares are coming from her own experience as an educator. These are things she feels that are of importance. She gives a little explanation along with each advice so the reader can understand it from her point of view.

The list of advice is mainly directed towards future educators but it may be helpful to current educators as well. The post is significant because it's a list of advice coming from an experienced educator. As an experienced educator, she knows what new educators will or may face in their future. These are her set rules and guidelines in which she goes by, worked with, and would like to share. Every educator has their own list. Some may be different than others but that's what so great. Because advice can vary from one person to another, we can compile a long list and share our own experiences and ideas. By sharing it, we learn from them and we can be better educators. By replying me as a post and not as a comment is significant as well. I think she feels like the question should be answered as a post because her blog readers will be more likely to read it since it's on the front page, and it's an important topic for her. The readers may be prospective students, future teachers, current educators, teachers, parents, or students! With the use of technology and the ability to blog, we can pass on or share our experiences to everyone around the world too! I am sure she is also trying to reach out to people with her blog post.

This is a picture of someone holding a post-it with the word ADVICE written on it.
Advice doesn't have to come from an experienced educator. It can come from future educators, like me and you. We can provide advice based on our experience from relationships, our jobs, working with children, what we learned in our education courses, what our professor tells us, what we remember from elementary days, and etc. Here is my list of advice for future or current educators:

1. As an educator, you should be understanding and open-minded. It is not just only understanding the students but yourself, your co-workers, your environment, the work you must do, and things that might happen as well. You should keep an open mind and not be stubborn about certain things. Don't be too hard on yourself if a lesson doesn't work the way you want to. You should understand that some student's learning processes are different than others. You should understand that you are an educator, a role model, and changing lives. It's going to be a lot of work and requires your dedication and focus. I understand that this may be a hard thing to do but it's worth trying!

2. As an educator, you should keep your eyes and ears open in your classroom. There are a lot of students who are timid, shy, sad, angry, uncomfortable, or have problems. You will never know what is going on in the student's mind. They might not speak up. Even if a student acts "okay", be wary anyway. Be wary and pay attention to your student's behavior, learning process, personality, individuality, and etc. Please take notice of everything that goes on in the classroom as well, especially during activities.

3. You should be organized as much as you can. I am speaking in terms of your environment, class schedules, lesson plans, projects, due dates, daily class schedules, and etc. It is good to think and work ahead of time. It is also good to keep your papers organized. The usage of folders, notebooks, and/or schedule books can help you. I have a notebook for every subject, keep a folder for lesson plans, and use schedule book to know when due dates are. Schedule books are also good to jot down events or reminders. It is also good to keep your environment organized in a way where you can find things easily or access easily. It will save you a lot of time when you know where things are. I know it definitely helps me! A messy desk drives me crazy.

4. Don't allow peer pressure of your friends, family, and etc. change your mind about being an educator. A lot of people tend to think being a teacher is easy. They think the job is easy, the degree is easy to get, and it's "useless". You read it correctly. I've been told the degree is useless many times. It angers me but don't let it do that to you. Just remember you are changing lives in a different way. It's not bio-medical engineering, marine biology, mathematics, or anything like that, but in the end you are still helping people. Teaching is not easy at all. I tell my friends to try to be in a classroom with 15 Kindergartners. They immediately say no. Why? Because they said they just can't. They don't know how to speak with younger children. They don't know how to hold back things they usually say to adults. They get annoyed easily. I worked with Kindergartners and 1st grade for two years. The most repeated phrase is, "Miss Anna!!" more than 100 times in an hour. You need a lot of patience when it comes to younger students. Remember that everyone has their own opinion and not everyone will understands your point of view. You may try to convince them but sometimes it won't work. Don't allow people's negativity divert your path. Always stay positive and believe in yourself. If you want to become an educator, march forward and continue. Follow your heart or what makes you happy. It's your life, choice, and way of contributing to the world. No one needs to completely understand it but you.

5. Please take care of yourself. This advice is repetitive but it is very important and it needs to be stressed. You are an educator, a role model, an adult, a person, and have responsibilities. It is very important to take care of your health, your needs, possible stress, have good hygiene, have a good sleep schedule, exercise, be positive and relax. Like Andrea says, we are the conductor of the classroom. We need the energy to guide young students throughout the day. We need to be good examples to our students. It's tough being an educator. A lot of people cannot grasp that. Not everyone can "teach". Please take care of yourself. We wouldn't want the students to miss their favorite teacher!

I think this assignment was given because we get to help and share our advice with others who might want to become educators. By posting it on a blog means anyone on the web can find and read it. We will gain an audience, some may even be current educators. They might join in on creating their own list too! This assignment got me thinking and reflecting on my past experiences. I believe that through my experiences, I can help other educators by compiling a list of advice that has helped me. I believe that other students may have their own advice that they would like to share in order to help future educators like themselves. We are all connecting and helping each other out and I think that's a great thing.

I leave you with an inspirational video that I found while looking through YouTube after reading Carly's Blog Assignment #12 post.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

C4T Summary #3

This is a picture of Mrs. Aviva Dunsiger, a teacher for grades 1 and 2 at Ancaster Meadow School.
The teacher I was assigned to was Mrs. Aviva Dunsiger. She is a teacher for grades 1 and 2 at Ancaster Meadow School. She use to teach Kindergarten. This will be her 11th year teaching!

In her recent post, "The Little (Big) Things", she talks about the little and big things she appreciates and sees in her students. She talks about the moments at the end of the year, the workload, the time she doesn't have for her students, and changes. She made an effort to really be there for her students this year. She also says that she is going to stop and enjoy the little things that reminded her of why she loves teaching. She listed some of the things that reminded her and a short video. At the end of the post, she asks, "For the teachers out there, what are the little things in life that make you love teaching? For the parents out there, what are the little things in life that make your children love school?".

In my comment, I reflected on the little and big things that reminded me of why I wanted to become a teacher. The little things are what reminds us why we love to teach! It also reminds us how we can help and change people’s lives. It’s definitely a great feeling when we can change people’s lives and be the one who will guide them through the learning process. The children I had for 2 years is the constant reminder for me in why I want to become a full-fledged teacher. They are eager to learn something new. When I look at some of the gifts and cards I received, it showed me how much I changed their life. It also showed me what kind of impact I made. They learned how to write better, draw, and etc. They also thank us for what we do for them. Her post helped me in some ways too. Sometimes you have to be there at the end of the year. The students will remind you in why you wanted to teach in the first place. It's a good thing. You are also letting your students know that you will still be there for them.

Since she did not make a new post, I went to comment on an older post. It is titled, "Giving Permission To Make Mistakes". In this post, she talks about how she changed her approach in teaching math and how it worked! She gave her students a difficult math problem, split them into groups, and had them figure out the different ways the problem can be solved. In her observations, many students were not afraid to make mistakes! They were so eager to learn! They were constantly thinking, working together, and you can hear the different approaches they took to come to a solution. In this post, she attached several videos of her students explaining their approach to her. Instead of backing away after making a mistake, they used that as a way of improving. If one way didn't work, they would try another! She was also very supportive with her students when they made mistakes. I think this is very important.

In my comment, I said that mistakes can be a good thing. We should not discourage them when they make mistakes but to support them. A lot of parents and teachers are afraid to telling their children their faults or mistakes because they think it may discourage them. It's not the mistake that discourages them but the behavior presented by the parents and teacher that makes it seem like mistakes are wrong! That is wrong! Not only will mistakes make you better learners but it will teach you how to handle problems better. It can be a life-learning experience. It's not just for school. I think the students learn more when they are engaged and having fun! Instead of being upset due to a mistake, take that as a way of improving yourself. Try and figure out other possible ways to solve the problem. When I worked with children when I was still in NYC, particularly Kindergarten and 1st grade, I was told not to let children know their mistakes because it might “discourage them”. I was also told in the NYC education system, teachers do should not put red X marks on students’ papers due to possible discouragement. I think that’s a little insane.

Blog Assignment #11

Ms. Kathy Cassidy's 1st grade class!

Little Kids, Big Potential

Ms. Kathy Cassidy is a first grade teacher who is an advocate of using technology in her classroom. She produced a video of her first grade class. They are a class of students in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. In this video, "Little Kids... Big Potential," her first graders teaches us the different types of tools they used to improve their learning and hope that it can help us too. The students used blogs, webpages, wikis, videos, Skype, and a Nintendo DS to learn! Can you believe that a Nintendo DS is allowed in their classroom?! I sure didn't!

In the video, the students tell us that they love to write on their blogs. Each student had access to their own laptops to work on their blog. They said that blogging helped them improve their grammar. They received more feedback too. They received feedback from family, friends, and even other people around the world! To be safe, they suggested that you should only put your first name. By not providing the last name, people are less likely to find you. This is a very important tip, especially for young bloggers! A student also said that you should not say mean things because it might hurt someone's feelings.

They used the internet to access webpages that will take them from one site to another. They can find websites that teaches them how to read, how to write, videos that is related, or choose whichever pages they need to help themselves learn. They are saying that having access to the internet allows self-learning even in the 1st grade! I cannot believe that six and seven year old children are already self-learning! It's amazing what technology can do for young students! The students also used and created wikis of their own! The wikis helped them learn about traditions, rituals, and alphabets. With the help of others, the students created their own wiki to help! People from around the world can put what they know into the wiki! It's collaboration! In this part of the video, they mentioned Alabama students who added videos onto their wiki that may help students learn about the alphabet! The student said it was cool because it's like a song!

In the classroom, students made videos. Before making videos, they needed to work in groups, plan the video, and decide on how to show the work. A group project is a great way to promote team work, collaboration, communication, and socializing. A group project can allow the students to help one another. They also used Skype to talk to other people from different places. They get to talk to other classes, teachers, and even their friends! It is a great and fun way to communicate, especially never having to leave the classroom to do it! At the end of the video, they said they were allowed to use their Nintendo DS in their classroom. This was a bit shocking! Apparently the Nintendo DS promoted social support, teamwork, problem solving, and sharing. This was clearly a surprise and I am glad it worked out for them! It is great that teachers uses the toys that children would have and make it into a learning experience. I wonder when they'll start implementing gaming consoles into the classrooms!

This is a screenshot of the Skype interview with Ms. Kathy Cassidy
Skype Interview with Ms. Kathy Cassidy

In the Skype interview with Dr. Strange and students, Ms. Cassidy talks about the benefits of technology. She was given a few computers with limited access. She said that since it is there, she might as well make use out of it. She made the computer area a "center" because there wasn't enough for each student. Student blogs serves as an online portfolio for parents to see. It reflects on what they learn on each subject but it particularly shows their writing progress. In order to protect her students, she told them to use their first name only and not to put pictures of themselves. To counter the problem of children going to bad websites, Ms. Cassidy uses her main class blog as a hub. It's the place where the students are directed on where to go and what to click. She also teaches them what to click on the actual webpage. She tells them not to click anything on the sides or bottom of the page where there may be flashing links or pictures!

She also brings up the idea that technology is not going away. It will never go away. Because of that, we should take advantage and learn it now than later. You may not have time later. The world has changed and we need to change with it. She said that if we don't use technology or take advantage of it, it's like disabling our children in the 21st century. This means teachers should be computer literate. Being computer literate doesn't mean knowing how to use word processor or do spreadsheets anymore. She claims that to be "20 years ago". Instead, we need to constantly keep up with what is happening in technology and be eager to learn about it. In order to do that, she suggested developing a PLN, which we are doing in EDM310. It is good to find a way for us to keep in touch with what is going on in technology. There are tools in which we can use to do that. Twitter is one of them. She made a comment about how people may not want to know what kind of breakfast another person is having but Twitter is more than just status updates. It's a place where one person connects with others. It's a place where resources are shared, place to meet other educators, and etc. It's a place where you can build a network.

She uses blogs in her classroom because it ends up being an exciting thing for the students. The audience they get on their blog is what sparked the excitement. With online blogging, the students are not writing just for the teacher. They know that once they post something, the whole world will see it. They can receive comments from other students, family, friends, and people from all over the world! That is what's exciting! It makes them feel special as well.

I think I would use blogging as a way for my students to learn how to write better and use that as an entry for them into the technology world. Like Ms. Cassidy says, the idea of having a larger audience for the children can be really exciting for them. Their blogs will serve as an online portfolio as well. That means you can see the progress they are making with their writing, parents can see what they are doing in class, and for the students to reflect. There may be problems, especially with younger students, in terms of blogging. In her classroom, she taught the students to not use their last names or post pictures of themselves. This will protect their identity on the internet. That is what I would want to do in my future classroom. In a way, I would love to implement anything related to technology in the classroom. In a few years, the tools available to us will change too. I do not wish to disable my students in the world of technology!

Friday, November 9, 2012

C4K Summary for October

A screenshot of Katie's blog.

At the beginning of October, I was assigned to Katie in Ms. Dunlop's Class 2012-2013. In Katie's post, she wrote a short poem titled, "Happy Fall"! It goes:

I like Fall because Halloween is in Fall.
I taste cupcakes.
I see people playing in leave piles.
I feel leaves crunching under my feet.
I hear leaves crunch when I walk.

In my comment, I asked her who she is going to be dressed up as for Halloween and what is her favorite type of cupcakes! She replied, "For Halloween I’m gonna tape smarties to my pants and be smartie pants. I like chocolate cupcakes with frosting and rainbow sprinkles." For those that don't know, "Smarties" is a type of candy! That's a lot of candies that she's going to tape!!!

A screenshot of OSG's Global Issues Blog.

For my second C4K, I was assigned to a post in a class blog named "OSG's Global Issues Blog", which is kept by student-authors and their teacher Mr. Mike Gwaltney. The post I had to comment on is titled "Globalization:Friend or Foe?" It was surprising to me that students are blogging about globalization. They wrote about the positive and negatives affects globalization has. Most people will see globalization in a positive standpoint because they are generally the consumers. Consumers take it things for granted and are spoiled by the availability of the products. It is true that the negatives are unseen by the consumers. What are the negatives? They said that no one sees the poor working conditions and environments that the workers in factories have to stay in. Another negativity is the low wages these workers get for the amount that they do in harsh working conditions. These are very true. The media doesn't cover all of that to us. They also said that developing countries are hurting more because of the consumers in the United States or western countries. I had to disagree with that statement in my comment.

A screenshot of Angela's blog.

For my third C4K, I was assigned to Angela, a student in Mr. Capp's third grade class. I commented on her post titled, "The Living Branch." It is a short story of the life and experiences of a living branch through the four seasons. She uses her own life experience and imagination to depict what a branch's life would be like. In the Spring, the branch experiences very wet and rainy days. In the Summer, it's so hot that the leaves would crinkle up to hold onto the branch. She wrote that its favorite season is the Fall because it's not too cold, too wet, or too hot. During the Winter, the cold and rough wind spanks the leaves and bark. It's so cold that the living branch wishes it to be over already. She also added a moral at the end of her story. The moral is "never wish for better or you might get worse." It is a well-written and creative piece of work, especially for a third grader!! In my comment, I asked her what her favorite season was. She replied, "I guess my favorite season is Fall."

A screenshot of Carson's blog called Epic Alberta.

For my fourth C4K of the month, I was assigned to Carson, a student in Mrs. Spencer's class at Lochearn School. His blog is called "Epic Alberta". I commented on his post that has an attached video. He used Animoto to create a short video of Alberta, Canada. Alberta is located on the Rocky Mountains! In the video, he used photographs of the class, pictures of animals, maps, photographs of the landscape, and etc. to show what you would expect in Alberta! He also showed us the Canadian shield in Alberta!! I asked him what it was like to live on the Rocky Mountains but there's no reply.

A screenshot of the header of Dr. Vitulli and Santoli's blog called Vitulli and Santoli: Eyes on Ireland.

For my last C4K of the month, I was assigned to Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli's Ireland blog called "Vitulli & Santoli: Eyes on Ireland." I had to comment on a post titled, "Wednesday's Keynote Speaker." It is about the final keynote speaker, Dr. Patricia Mannix-McNamara, during the international conference. Dr. Patricia Mannix-McNamara is the co-director of the Research Centre for Education and Professional Practice at the University of Limerick. She talks about the changes in the educational system that does not focus on the students anymore. Schools push for higher grades, test scores, meeting standards, and etc. instead of focusing on the student's learning process, development, and well-being. With the corruption and dishonesty in society, the teachers are not equipped, trained or given the class time to focus on the students' mental health, needs, and values. The classroom only focuses on what the student needs to know in order to past tests and state-exams. Dr. Santoli said that, "Dr. Patricia Mannix-McNamara feels that schools are failing young people in the area of human development," and it is true! She also says that Finnish schools, which are talked about being the world's best, moved from the exam system to a "holistic" one. References in the speech were made and Sir Ken Robinson's video, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" was one of them!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Special Blog Assignment

An image saying 'My USA 30 Years From Today.

A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind

Mary Beth Marklein wrote an article for USA TODAY titled, "A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind". This article revolves around the Google VP & professor named Sebastian Thrun who created Udacity, an education company founded in January of 2012 in California. He also took part in Project Glass, and is working on the self-driving car project.

Aside from the article, which is primarily about Dr. Thrun's vision about education, there is an attached video. In celebration of USA TODAY's 30th anniversary, USA TODAY interviewed many great visionaries to talk about the future of the world. In this video, we get to hear from some of the greatest visionaries about how they see the future in terms of how we will live, learn, travel, how the music industry is going to change, the change in architecture, television, and etc. Some of these visionaries includes David Callaway (Editor-in-Chief of USA TODAY), James Cameron (film director of "Titanic"), Cat Cora (celebrity chef), Debra L. Lee (CEO of BET Network), Francis S. Collins (director of the National Institute of Health), William Clay Ford Jr. (Executive chairman of Ford Motor Company), and etc. Dr. Sebastian Thrun is also included. There is a part in the video showcasing his education company, Udacity.

This is a picture of Dr. Sebastian Thrun, the Google vice president, a professor, and creator of the education company called Udacity.
In the article, Dr. Thrun talks about why he stepped out of traditional classrooms and started virtual ones. He shares his vision about what education would be like in 30 years. He says that technology is and will continue changing education in a positive way. Education is becoming more personalized and "upscale". He also says that classes will involve many exercises, quizzes, and etc., which will help the student master a skill or a concept. Classroom enrollments will be higher. There will be no grades. Dr. Thrun calls grades "the failure of the education system." The virtual classes are much more affordable as well. There will be no fee for instruction but fees for related services such as certifications and exams. His point is that technology will not destroy education but will enhance it in a positive and better way. It will provide more opportunities for those who are yearning to learn.

I noticed myself shaking my head while reading the article. I like and understand his vision but I noticed two flaws. The first flaw I saw involved in the idea of having no grades. He says that the class will involve more exercises and quizzes but no grades? How will the student know if they mastered the material, concept, or skill? I don't think grades are the failure of the education system. That's the administrations doing. Compared to years ago, there are more schools that are focused on grades, tests, and how the school looks instead of focusing on the students learning process and well-being. That was a change and emphasis made by the administration. Grades are still good because it serves as a feedback. If a student takes a quiz, but receives no grade, how will they know if what they did was correct or not? What is the point of giving a quiz? How will the teacher know if they taught the material well enough for the students to understand? Grades are also feedback for the teachers.

As a pre-service teacher, I think grades are very important and should remain in the educational system. Students will want to know what they did wrong and the reasons for it. It's one thing for them to understand it and demonstrate their knowledge but without much feedback, they will not know if they performed well enough to meet the mastery of the skill or concept. Also, grades will let me know where I could change in order to accommodate for the student's learning process. What about state standards or requirements? In order for this to work, wouldn't the state have to change their rules? How will that play in relation to the no-grade system?

It's similar to this class, EDM310. We do not receive grades on assignments and a lot of us are not feeling well about that. Even though some of us feel that we have done the best we could and deserve an 'A', Dr. Strange might not think so. How we perceive our own work is different from the professor. The professor will be the one giving us our final grade regardless of how we self-evaluate. During the mid-term, there were several charts posted about how people self-evaluated comparison to his own evaluation of the student. The students who did poorly were required to speak to him but that was it. What about the rest of the class? Some students think their blog posts are excellent but Dr. Strange or the assistants might disagree. Well, shouldn't the student be given a grade like how they would for a written paper? A comment about the post is one way of giving feedback but not enough because of how we are so use to receiving "grades".

I feel that a grade is much more effective because it's already built into our heads. I think that is the case because it was molded into us since we started going to pre-school. Do I want to move out of that mentality? Not really because grades are still a way to provide the student feedback one way or another. For me, I would like to know my grade in the eyes of the professor and what he thinks I should improve on. I also want to know if I'm between an A and a B because there is a big GPA difference. This is the fault of the educational system but not failure. I am trying to maintain my GPA for scholarships and other things that requires a high GPA. If I know I'm getting a B and not an A, I would really want some answers as to why. Giving us the right to self-evaluate is not good enough to know where we stand or how much we have mastered a skill or concept.

Right now, I think I'm getting an A but there is an uncomfortable feeling. This may be what Dr. Thrun is talking about and why he wants to rid the grading system. The idea of grades is implanted in us and this may be the reason why most of us deny his idea of getting rid of it.

The second flaw is the idea of free instruction. I like the idea of students learning at their own pace and that this way of learning is free. The idea of free instruction means everyone will have an opportunity to learn and not worry about financial aid or loans. In the perspective of a learner, free instruction is great. But in the perspective of a future educator, that sounds terrible unless the world can figure out who will pay me. Where will the money come from? Are we getting rid of the currency system too? Currently, our tuition covers most salaries of the teachers. Dr. Thrun has great visions but he needs to consider the other aspects of it. I'm not sure if this will happen in 30 years. There is a possibility because I don't believe in impossibilities.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blog Assignment #10

A cartoon with two characters. One is named Papermate and the other is named Ticonderoga. One is cheap and one is expensive.

Papermate? Ticonderoga? What?

John T. Spencer shows us a cartoon of "Papermate" and "Ticonderoga". I have to admit that I was confused on what this cartoon is about. Because of that, I looked at several comments people made. In one comment, John Spencer replies, "it's a mock of 'I'm a Mac and I'm a PC' commercials." I am assuming that the "Papermate" is the PC and "Ticonderoga" is the MAC. The idea is that the "Papermate", or the "PC", is a lot cheaper to purchase but it breaks more often. Because it breaks more often, you would have to get it repaired or buy replacement parts. In the end, it will add to the initial cost. "Ticonderoga", or the "MAC", may not break as often or require repairs but it will cost more in the initial purchase. On a MAC, it's "assumed" that it requires fewer repairs but you will never know. It depends on the person using it. I say this because I've handled with PCs, varieties of MAC, am tech-savvy and responsible. I am helping someone determine which one to buy for his CADC (College of Architecture, Design and Construction) graduate study. For the specifications required, he would need to spend $2500 on a MAC laptop just to meet the minimum requirements. He will only need to spend $1000 on a Windows laptop to meet the minimum requirement. With the $1500 difference, he would need to do something really bad to the PC just to match the price of the MAC. The MAC "looks" a lot better though in terms of its look and interface. I think the point of the cartoon is no matter which one you purchase, they will do the same things you want it to do, fancy or not. Sometimes it may be better to go towards the "cheaper" route versus the "fancier" route.

This is a picture with a person in the middle and the room filled with piles of paper!
Welcome to Con Academy!

John Spencer wrote a blog post called, "Why were your kids playing games?". Like what the title says, the principal asked him why his students were playing games when they should be "learning" and he should be teaching them. When I read it the first time, I immediately thought the principal was out of his mind. I stopped and questioned myself why I thought that way. It may be a biased opinion because of what I had to go through during my younger years. John Spencer explained to the principal that these games are advanced simulation games. These stimulation games engages the students and are interactive. The principal refuses to neither understand nor listen to him. The principal doesn't acknowledge these stimulation games and thinks that it doesn't help the students pass the rote memorization test. He tells John Spencer to go back to giving the students worksheets and packets in order to prepare the students for the tests. In the end, John Spencer uses these ideas and creates a game instead!

In another post, "Con Academy", Mr. Johnson meets with the principal. The principal discusses about "flipping the classroom" and ignores what Mr. Johnson had to say. The principal misunderstands what "flipping the classroom" really means. Instead of using technology or applying interactive methods, he wants to go back to students using pencils, working with packets, and follow the instructions it provides. What about teachers? The principal says that this academy program is "designed to fit the needs of teachers struggling to provide adequate intervention." He also said that the idea of "flipping the classroom" is to replace the roles of teachers! That is not what "flipping the classroom" means! This "academy" idea is nothing but a con like the free bagel the principal offered to him before the discussion. It is free and it looks good on the outside but it may not be on the inside. The school may look good in statistics and how it compares to other schools but it may not look good on the inside in terms of how the students are learning. You know what I imagined? I imagined a classroom full of robots.

After reading these two posts, I think Mr. Spencer is saying that schools are too focused on statistics, test scores, how the school looks in comparison to others, worksheets, packets, grand ideas and how that way of teaching in the administrations mind is not teaching at all! They worry about the school more than the students. The students are not robots! They need to be cared for and nurtured. They need to be "taught". Giving them worksheets and packets are not ways to teach students how to learn. Telling them to follow the instructions on the paper doesn't do anything! It just means that they can read. Teachers are there to teach! They are the ones who understand their students' learning process better than anyone! The principal doesn't. With worksheets and packets, they are just "doing the work". They are just doing what is "required". They are only learning how to memorize information and may be thrown out later. Some students may think it's fun but not the majority. School is not a prison. In order for students to learn, we need to apply interactive methods, establish relationships (limited), and make school "fun". In a way, it makes them eager to learn. They will understand that the teacher will help them if they have any questions. Because it's fun, the students are engaged. Once they are engaged, they will listen. Once they listen, they will learn. People tend to learn and remember things when it's fun. I know it is like that for me.

This reminded me of my younger years in school. It was all about worksheets, packets for vacation homework, studying for standardized tests, and etc. It wasn't fun because I was not engaged. I didn't ask questions because the teachers didn't seem to care. I was in the top class during my JHS years. It was not engaging. I felt like a robot. I was told what to do and how to do it. If I couldn't do it and follow the instructions, I would get kicked out. I did get kicked out! They didn't want to help! They didn't even bother asking me what is wrong or offer help! I basically cried in the office because of the transfer and felt that I was not given a chance at all! It's not that I didn't want to learn. I was afraid to ask questions because it was deemed a "bad" thing and "stupid" to. I did not feel the "nurture" or "care" from the teacher or school. I even attended tutoring sessions on the weekend to help me with my school work. Did that help? No, because it's the same thing. I was a robot in the tutoring sessions. I was given packets to practice on. That was it. This is not teaching and it should not be in our classroom! We should engage the students, make learning fun, and make the students our priority.

A person is in the middle, connected by technology in a shape of a puzzle.
Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?

Dr. Scott McLeod is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the original video series, "Did You Know?". He also worked on an Iowa version of "Did You Know?" (shift happens). He is currently is serving as the Director of Innovation for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8 in Iowa. He is also recognized as one of the nation’s leading academic experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues. He is an advocate of technology use in today's classrooms. He helped create the country's first graduate program that is designed to prepare "technology-savvy" school leaders. He is also a blogger on The Huffington Post

In this post, "Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?", he gives us a list of things we should not teach our kids. He tells us not to teach our kids to read the web, write online, not to make videos, not to create a social network, not a pln, not to use cell phones, and etc. The list is very long! Basically, this is a list of things we should not teach our kids if one part is taken away. It's a sarcastic way of saying that it is contradicting to take one thing away but not another. There are people, educators, administrators, and etc. are too worried about incorporating technology into a classroom and into students' learning process. They fear that social networking, cell phones, blogging, having access to websites, and etc. will "corrupt" them. They want to prevent all this "corruption" by taking it away. Well, if they take one away, such as social networking, you might as well remove them from the classroom, take their cell phones away, not have them go to school, not blog, remove Facebook and twitter, and etc. As for using the internet, you cannot assume that they will go to a porn site. The internet is more than that. It's a place where a student can share their insights, gather resources and help them learn! The point is, you cannot protect your child or student from everything in the world. You cannot take away their internet access and not their cell phones. As for the school, you shouldn't remove technology and its uses as it will help the student's learn. If you do that, you might as well take away pencils and papers because there's no reason to write if you have no audience. This brings me back to one of my assigned C4T teachers, Andrea Hernandez. She wrote a great post about authentic audience! I agree with Dr. Scott McLeod. We may be worried about the safety of our students or children but that doesn't mean take it away from them. You can monitor in another way. In schools, students have access to the internet but it's limited!

This is a picture of a scissor cutting an Ethernet cable, a cable that connects you to the internet.
This post relates to my dad and my sheltered childhood. He did not like me having a cell phone, interacting with friends, socializing, using the internet, and etc. He would put a timer on my internet so it will shut off. I did not get a cell phone until high school. I know many people did not get one til later but mine was monitored. He monitored all my text and calls. He would take away my cell phone if I went over his limit. He monitored my web usage by placing my computer in the living room and his bedroom. He did not allow me to have friends over or like me going out even if it's a street away. I did not get to have sleepovers or go to birthday parties because he was worried and thinks they are all bad people. He told me that every "friend" I have could not be trusted and are bad because they have cell phones, they socialize, they go outside and have parties. He did not like me playing games because they are evil and bad. Honestly, gaming is what taught me about the evil in the world and how to protect myself. I learned about the different types of people. Gaming is also how I met my husband. Actually, I should reword that. I met my husband through the uses of technology and social networking. I learned what I know today with the uses of technology. I connect with other educators through technology. My dad was trying to "protect" me from what he deemed as the "corruption" in society and the world. Guess what? He tried but in the end, he could not protect me from everything. It is the same concept.

This may be a good penny for your thought. If people are deathly afraid of what their students or children come across on the internet, how is that any different from television, especially with cable access? You can monitor what they watch and you can do the same for the internet. If you remove their internet access, you might as well not allow them to watch TV. Isn't that right?