Sunday, May 4, 2014

C4T Assigned

cartoon drawing of a conference
"What's an UnConference?"

I read the latest post written by Lisa Thumann on her blog, Thuman Resources. Lisa was concerned about attrition rates at Unconferences.
"What is an UnConference?"is probably the question you are asking right now. Others may even be asking, "What is attrition?" I will admit I had very little idea either. Luckily, Lisa includes a definition of attrition right on her blog. The definition for attrition states, "a reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength." Unconferences are free conferences that do not stick to a rigid itinerary. It appears to be a sort of meeting of the minds where the the attendees decide the topics of discussion. This YouTube video gives a brief explanation. "What is an UNconference?"
 Ms. Thuman expressed valid concerns about the dwindling attendance at Unconferences and the wastefulness that ensued. Planning for 100% to 50% attendance and only have 25% actually attend left Ms. Thuman feeling frustrated. One of her main concerns was the amount of food that was thrown away at the end of the event. In my comment, I suggested that she plan for 50% attendance to avoid either over preparing or under preparing. I also suggested that she have non-perishable snacks as a back-up plan. I recommended donating any surplus at the end of the event to a local charity or homeless shelter. I also stated in my comments that it is extremely hard to get people to commit to events these days, and even when you do, you still can't be sure they'll attend.

picture of 20%
"Endless Possibilities"

In Ms. Thuman's post, "20% Time," she discusses an interest in implementing a 20% time project much like the one Google uses with it's employees. She provides examples of teachers who have already started their own projects with students and what has resulted from that. Apps for Autism by Morgan was one of the resulting projects that came from students using 20% time. 

In my comments I expressed that the possibilities of implementing such a program were endless! I also thanked Ms. Thuman for sharing the information about Apps for Autism. Having worked with children on the autistic spectrum, I found this resource extremely beneficial, and I began following Apps for Autism on Twitter. You can too! Here's the link:

Google Drive emblem

In the blog post, "Untapped Apps on Google Drive," Ms. Thuman gives a link to the Web Chrome Store where you can find a plethora of apps which can be added to your Google Drive! Wow! I had no idea this was available! One of the beauties of adding these apps to your Google Drive is that you do not have to remember usernames and passwords for each app. Plus, the apps follow you through your google account. So there is no need to download them to each individual device that you own! 

I thanked Ms. Thuman for her post and told her that I had already tried to add an app to my Google Drive. PicMonkey is a photo editor that I chose to install. Currently, I'm still trying to figure out if and where it actually got installed. Hopefully, I'll get a better understanding of this process and be able to add apps with ease in the future.

graphic explaining perks of google education on air
"Google Education on Air"

"FREE PD: Google Education on Air" is a great blog post about all the free webinars that are available to teachers through Google Hangouts. Lisa Thuman provides links to all the information you will need to get started in participating in this free resource. 

Ms. Thuman has done such a great job with her blog in providing information about free resources, and we know teachers love free stuff! Google just might be a teacher's best friend! There's so much I still have to learn about what available. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Thuman introduces me to next week! For now, I'm watching a webinar... for free! PD NOW!  

picture of Alabama Ed Summit logo

"Alabama Google Ed Summit"

In NY/NJ Mobile Learning Summit, Ms. Thuman starts by saying she's been a bad blogger and goes on to explain that she's been very busy and that's why she has only posted once a month. She also provides links to a lot of the things she had been working on at the time. 

While checking out those links, I found some information on a Google Apps Summit that is held annually for New York and New Jersey. This got me wondering if there was something like that offered to educators in the state of Alabama, and there is! After getting acquainted with Google this semester, I would like to go to this summit in 2014. Unfortunately, the only information I found was from 2013, but I plan to keep searching. 

The comments I left for Ms. Thuman pointed out my interest in this summit. I gave kudos to her for choosing life over a blog post. Sometimes, we have to get our priorities in order!

picture of a man looking at unconference session wall
"Ed Camp" 

Lisa Thuman writes about an "Ed camp for Newbies" that she orchestrated and held for teachers over the summer of 2012. At first, teachers were apprehensive about how unconferences worked, but by the time the camp was over, Ms. Thuman was getting a lot of positive feedback. After putting their fears and skepticism aside, teachers learned that they had a voice and something meaningful to offer other teachers who were attending the unconference. 

In response to reading the post, I searched "unconferences in Alabama." I'm not sure if there is another local term that I should be searching, but I came up empty handed. I like the idea of unconferences and would like to attend one to decide if it's something I'd like to get more involved in. The most attractive feature about them is that they are free!

logo for common core

"Common Core"

In Lisa's post, edcamp Common Core, she provides information about a free event for teachers to learn more about Common Core. She provides this link. Common Core Standards

I visited the link and watched a short video describing Common Core because recently there has been a lot of hype about it in the news. There has also been a lot of backlash and concern from parents and teachers. I can't form an opinion about it at this time because I have no experience with teaching under these standards. I am excited to get out and see what all the fuss is about though so I can decide whether I am for or against Common Core.

example of a page from an iBook created by a student
"21st Century Learning Tools" 

Ed Tech in the NJ Classroom is a post about some of the tools that are available to teachers in the 21st century. Ms. Thuman provides links to several tools that she presented at a conference. I wish I had read this post last week. I would have had even more resources to draw from when writing my post about "21st Century Communicating and Learning Tools." She even mentions glogster in her post which I also mentioned in mine! I also liked Book Creator for iPad.

professional development wordle

"Professional Development"

Ms. Thuman writes about the launch of Google's Hangouts dedicated to education and professional development in "The #eduonair conference and PD in NJ." She also includes links to other sites who are dedicated to the same purpose. These include Classroom 2.0 Live and The Global Education Conference. In closing, she presents some questions to her readers about their opinions on professional development. 

In my comments, I offered my opinions. I wrote that I thought professional development should absolutely be a requirement. I also stated that I thought teachers and administrators should share the responsibility of decided what types of sessions should be attended. 

Ms. Thuman never fails to provide information on useful resources, as she did with this post. I have learned a great deal about what's available from reading her blog. Anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of technology, especially Google technology, should read her blog.   

C4T Chosen

photograph of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
"'Galloping Girtie'" 

A lesson based on an actual engineering nightmare and failure! The Tacoma Narrows Bridge (picture right) was given the nickname "Galloping Girtie" and collapsed only four months and one week after opening. (egirl Team, March 27, 2012)

 In his post, "STEM: Cantilevers Span," Brian Crosby explains what happens at a family science night when you supply students and parents with paint sticks and washers, give them a few instructions followed by "shoulder shrugs," and stand back to watch the action. Students and parents had a great time learning!

Crosby also explains on his blog, Learning Is Messy!, that this lesson can be extended into other curricular areas such as math and language arts. He even suggests students write a poem from the data they collect! I love it! 

In my comments, I wrote that I would like to initiate a family science night when I return to teaching. I think it's a great way to get parents involved in their child's education. It can be difficult, at times, to get parents motivated and involved. I also suggested that he invite a guest speaker as part of the lesson. Asking a civil engineer to speak to his students may give some of them a career idea to explore. This could even turn into a geography lesson in which students research the state of Washington. 

(I need to work on my "shoulder shrug." Too often in the past, I came to the rescue of my students too soon.)


Restricted Area/Keep Out sign
"Restricted Area!" 

In his post, "Rethinking School District Social Media Policies for Teachers/Students," Mr. Crosby asked for advice on getting changes made to policies that would allow students to use popular sites like YouTube, blogs, and Twitter. Most districts block these sites because they feel the need to protect the students from any inappropriate content that may be lurking there. 

In my comments, like many of the others who had commented, I recommended that Crosby share success stories of districts who had implemented a more open policy. Unlike the others, I did not recommend he start with sharing these success stories with the administration but with the parents of students. If he could get parents on his side, they would push the administration for change which might lead to changes in legislation. I expressed that if he could convince parents their children would be properly monitored and taught ethical use of these blocked sites while at the same time showing them the value of these sites in educating students, parents would be supportive.

word wall with descriptive words about blogging
"Blogging in the Classroom"

Brian Crosby expressed his thoughts about blogging in the classroom in his post, "Unleash the Learning Power of Blogs by Actually Using Them Consistently!" He wrote about the importance of using them consistently in order to gain the maximum benefit from them. He compared it to a model using a gym to sculpt and tone their bodies. He thinks blogging is a great way for students to sculpt and tone their brains and writing skills.

I agree! I wrote in my response that I was new to blogging and have developed a fondness for it. I also said that I would start a blog in my classroom once I return to teaching. My favorite part has been connecting with people in different places around the world, and I think students would enjoy that also. It would not only help them develop technology, thinking, and writing skills, but it would also provide exposure to different cultures! In a way, blogging reminds me of the pen pal writing that we did in school years ago, except it's much quicker! 

photograph of a sprouting seed
"STEM Seeds"

In this post, Mr. Crosby provides links to a fellow STEM teacher's blog. Wes Fryer has a blog called "Moving at the Speed of Creativity". There is also a link to a youtube video that is an hour long which I began to watch but did not have the luxury of time to finish watching. 

Hopefully, in the future, I'll have some time to delve into STEM and see what the theory behind it is. From my first impressions, I think it is closely related to project based learning. I'm also amazed by how easy it is to connect with teachers from all over the world and the impact that's having on the teaching profession. 

NBC News Education Nation logo
"Teacher's Overlooked
 by News Media" 

"With all the talk about how much we value teachers, and especially great teachers..." is a blog post in which Mr. Crosby expresses his concern over the news media being hyper focused on athletes, musicians, and movie stars to the point that a very important awards ceremony in education was overlooked by the news media. He points out that there are several award shows honoring these well-deserving people like the Oscars, but he also wonders where is the spotlight for those deserving teachers who were recently honored at the White House for being the best.

Unfortunately, teachers don't get enough ratings. That's my opinion. The national new media outlets are focused on what gets ratings and what brings in the money. Our society doesn't want to hear about educators. People want to hear about sex, violence, and scandal. 

Mr. Crosby asked if any coverage of the event honoring our nation's highest teachers had been covered by our local news media. I answered with a, "No." I went on further to explain that the latest story involving schools or education that I heard was about a fight between some boys at a nearby school. (Violence gets ratings.) I also pointed out that there are several other professions that go under-recognized by the news media. Some of these include nurses, police officers, and fire fighters.  

Picture of students video conferencing

"Building Literacy Skills"

Mr. Crosby writes about how students communications skills are greatly improved when they are given the opportunities to discuss learning experiences through outlets such as blogging and making videos in "Sharing Real-World Projects Sharpens the Literacy Skills of Connected Students."

He had this to say, "It’s not that being connected is more important than what you want to learn about or learn to do. It is that connectedness can and does lead to learning or resources to learn from and with." I agree with this statement. 

By giving students opportunities to connect and communicate about what they've been learning, we're giving them opportunities to build on what they've already learned, especially in the literacy skills department. Blogging is just one of those ways. I also like the idea of recording videos of students because it's not only important to write effectively but to also speak effectively. 

learning pyramid with methods of training compared to retention rates
This came up in my image search. I liked it, so I used it. 

In this post, Mr. Crosby writes a long list of things he describes as constructive learning. 
I liked this one the most.

Constructive learning is everything fell apart. The group, what we were trying to do, the idea, and it’s best to just walk away.
Constructive learning is everything fell apart. The group, what we were trying to do, the idea, but now we’ve had time and we are enthusiastic about it again.
In my response, I wrote a "Constructive Learning Is..." (as he requested)
Constructive learning is reading blogs and commenting on them on a weekly basis as part of your college computer class assignment! I have been exposed to and learned so much through this assignment. It has lead me to research so many different topics and gain knowledge in a very untraditional and fun way. I have thoroughly enjoyed it!

cover of sports illustrated from 1989 world series
"Earthquake Terror"

In "A Whole 'Lotta Shaking Goin' On," Brian shares his experience of living through the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. It's a very suspenseful account of what happened in the hours and days after the earthquake. He also talks about how preparing his students for earthquakes lead to them being informed and ready to help out with important decisions that could have possibly even saved lives. Some students told parents to fill bathtubs with water, and others suggested shutting off gas lines to prevent fires. Brian had done a great job of preparing his students! 

His story made me think of how I can help prepare students for natural disasters. The one natural disaster that we face here on the gulf coast is, of course, hurricanes. Luckily, we get a warning with those! But that doesn't mean that everyone heeds those warnings. I also told Brian that his story reminded me of a book called Earthquake Terror. When I was a student teacher, the class I was student teaching in was reading this book. It captivated the students, as his story had captivated me, and it also sparked lots of good questions! I wonder if there are any similar books about hurricanes. Hmmm... I'm getting ideas for a lesson! 

picture of a 3D printer
"A 3D Printer!!!" 

Brian Crosby has got to be one of the luckiest teachers in the world! He was recently invited to the University of Nevada, Reno, to build a 3D printer which he will get to take back to his district. In "Building My Own 3D Printer," Brian chronicles the events of putting the 3D printer together and includes lots of photos. (His use of photos is one of the reason I love his blog!) 

In my comments, I applaud him for taking on this challenge because he mentions that he had some reservations since he isn't a proficient programmer. I add that I would like to see some universities in Alabama offer a program like the one offered by the University of Nevada. Having a 3D printer would be such an asset! I can't wait to see how Mr. Crosby uses the printer to enrich the learning process for his students! 

Note: I have thoroughly enjoyed following Mr. Crosby's blog this semester. He's a great role model for teachers, and his enthusiasm for the profession is evident! 


drawing of little boy thinking of a firetruck

"First, Next, Then, Finally..." 

On the blog A Journey in TEFL, the author writes about teaching a mixed ability group of students the writing process, specifically writing a narrative using sequencing words. You may know these words as first, next, then, and finally. The author found it difficult to teach this process to some of her struggling students. So, she decided to group them for an activity. First, she grouped them in high-low groups. Next, she regrouped them in high-high and low-low groups. 

In my comments, I said that I thought her grouping and then regrouping was a great idea! I also added that using a graphic organizer might be helpful. I even suggested to try recording students telling their stories orally, and then play it back for them. They could use this as a guide to get their story on paper. 

back to school picture

"Career v. Motherhood"

Kathleen Morris writes about her decision to be a stay at home mom and the strange feeling of not preparing for the upcoming school year in her blog, Primary Tech. Ms. Morris's post really resonated with me because I have felt those same feelings of disconnect that she was discussing. I remember the first year that I did not prepare for a return to the classroom, and it was bittersweet. I was happy because I was about to become a mother, but I was sad because I missed teaching. As each year has passed, the sadness of August and the start of a new school year has lessened, but it still remains. Teaching is not a job. It's a reward to get to go to a room filled with bright young minds each day and do your best to encourage learning. It is a passion and a love of learning and a desire to share and instill that love of learning with students that drives the teacher. 
Ms. Morris also writes about staying connected through blogging. I admire her for doing that. I wish I had thought of it! 

cartoon drawing of a man winking and holding up a free sign

"What's the true cost of FREE?" 

In Vicki Davis' post about switching from Blogger to Wordpress, she describes her reasons for moving and how she did it. Her new Wordpress blog is titled "Cool Cat Teacher Blog." One reason she gave for moving was the lack of customer service offered with Blogger. Because the service is provided for "free," Google has no obligation to offer any type of support. She was also concerned that her content would become the property of Google, and they could use it at their discretion according the terms of use. 

In my comments, I thanked Ms. Davis for an insightful article and complimented her on her new Wordpress blog. The layout was much more neat, simplistic, and user friendly. I also said that when I start my blog as a teacher that I would consider my options before automatically choosing a "free" option. 

clipart of a frozen thermometer

"Cold Calling"

In the post, "On cold calling," the author writes about his experience of being called on randomly by his math teacher in high school and being filled with fear of not knowing the answer. As a result, he refrained from using the "cold calling" method in his classroom, but he had recently read an article that caused him to see a usefulness to the method. It allows for quick gaging of student understanding.

In the comments left by me, I stated that I had never been a fan of "cold calling" either and that I had not used it as a teacher. I also expressed some concern for using this method. I think there are more positive ways to gage student understand rather than in front of the entire classroom. I think calling on students should be more about engagement, participation, and contribution. In my opinion, each student should be allowed to contribute to the discussion and learning process in ways that they are comfortable. It is the job of the teacher to give them those opportunities. 

photograph of Miss She and Amelia

"Caught on Camera"

This week all students in EDM510 commented on Jenny's Learning Journey after we commented on some of her students' blog posts. First of all, I'd like to say that I love the title of Miss She's blog. The title reflects her attitude about teaching. You have to be a good learner to be a good teacher, and it seems as though she embraces the learning part of teaching. I also loved the picture that Tatiana took. The look of joy on Miss She's face that was captured by Tatiana shows how much she enjoys her job! Since I've always wanted to go to New Zealand, maybe I'll get a chance to visit Miss She's class if I ever get to go! 

I also commented on her photography post. I couldn't resist! Photography is something I'm very interested in, and her pictures of the flowers were very good. 

chart explaining the principle of Kiva

"Students Making a Difference"

William Chamberlain is doing something very meaningful and profound with his students. He's doing a service based project through an organization called Kiva. His students work together by each making small donations, $1 to be exact. These students then work together to decide who will receive the money as a loan. They have chose people from around the world. One man was from Armenia, and the loan helped him buy farm animals. 

I absolutely love this idea! This is a great way to show students how working together can have such a huge positive impact on the lives of people that they didn't even know and maybe even learn something about the country and culture in the process. It also teaches them about financial responsibility and economics! I hope to someday incorporate a program like this into a classroom. If you are interested in this service project, you can find more information here, Kiva

picture of a standardized test answer sheet

"Homework and Standardized Testing: 
Are they helping or harming students?" 

This topic is something I feel very passionately about. When I was assigned to Will Richardson's blog, READ. WRITE. CONNECT. LEARN., I was supposed to comment on a different post, but I could not resist commenting on "One Mom's Struggle With School and Tests." 

In the post, Will shares a letter that he had recently received from a very frustrated mom. She admits to yelling at her daughter over a spelling homework assignment. She wrote:

Tonight, I yelled at my 7 year old child because she misspelled one of her spelling words… the word ‘rainbows’. Yes you read that correctly. I yelled at her. She sobbed uncontrollably as I refused to let her erase the mistake. This I know is ludicrous. Why the hell would I do that? Mistakes happen. That’s why pencils have erasers, right? Well its because of what public school is doing to my child and I cannot stand to watch it anymore. Tonight it turned me into a monster. Its been over 6 hours since this incident and I’m still overwhelmingly disgusted with myself as if it had just happened.

How could I not respond to that? As both a parent and a teacher, I felt so much compassion for her and her daughter. I'm sharing my entire comment because, like I said, I feel very passionately about this topic. Also, I forgot to mention in my comment that standardized testing is a very lucrative business, and teachers and students are paying the price! Dearly! 

Here's my response:

I'm responding to this post not only because it is part of an assignment in a college course that I'm taking through the University of South Alabama, but also because standardized testing and homework are both something I feel passionately about.
A little more background information... I'm currently working on recertification because I chose to be a stay at home mom for the past 5 years. Before that, I taught 5th grade in Texas for 3 years and 3rd grade in Alabama for 1 year.
Here's my theory about homework. Children are at school for approximately 7 hours a day, and it is my job to teach them while they are there. That's what I'm getting paid to do. That's the career I chose. I did not send loads of homework home with students so parents could do my job for me. Evenings should be reserved for family time, extracurricular activities, and playing.
I did assign some homework, but I always kept it short and simple with the occasional project assignment. Like one of the other commenters, I believe homework in the early grades should consist of reviewing a few spelling words and helping the child master math facts. I would also encourage reading their library book at home, but I did not make it mandatory.
My approach for 5th graders was nearly the same. I taught reading, English, and history. The only homework assigned was work that didn't get completed in class (which they usually had time to complete if they didn't goof off). I also assigned the occasional project, encouraged them to read for pleasure, and asked them to study for tests. I never had a complaint about homework the entire time I taught!
I said all of that to say this. I think you should have a sincere talk with your daughter's teacher about your concerns. You can see from the responses (many are from teachers) that you have a lot of support. I especially liked the letter to the teacher by Gary, but I'm not sure that would win your daughter's teacher over. :) However, I think I will save it and use it one day in the future if I am forced to that point.
There is also a homework rule that maybe you haven't heard of. According to it, your daughter should be doing no more than 20 minutes of homework a night. Here's a link if you would like to read more about it. How much homework is too much?
About the standardized testing, please, just opt out. That testing business is complete nonsense! I am totally against it. I have seen firsthand what it does to students. I actually had one student breakdown and cry one day because of the tremendous amount of stress.
I recently read this article, and you may find it interesting as well.
Teacher quits over emphasis on standardized tests...
This is a quote from the above article. "Kerry Murphy tried to compare it to testing adults at work: 'Can you imagine if we scored employees on how well they performed on their job throughout the year on a test taken in 2 days? Adults would be having nervous breakdowns left and right. But for some reason it's totally ok to do it to kids?'"
I also liked what this mom wrote on her blog. Why My Children Will Not Take State Assessments
I wish you all the luck in dealing with this matter. I am so worried about what is going on in the educational system these days that I am seriously considering homeschooling my son. For now, I'm keeping an open mind, and we're going to try kindergarten in our local public school in the fall.
I thank you for allowing your letter to be shared. It reassured me, as a teacher, that my limited homework policy can still be appreciated by parents and, as a parent, I'm not alone in my stance against too much homework and standardized testing.

"Do we really need a PLN?"

Picture of Dean holding socks

Dean Shareski writes about his personal experience of having a PLN (Personal Living Network as he renamed it) in his blog Ideas and Thoughts. #SocksforDean is a post about his 50th birthday, and how a multitude of people from around the world sent him socks for his birthday. He expresses a lot of gratitude for the gestures and shares some links with readers that provide more information on the power of the connections we make via the internet. "Digital dualism" is a very intriguing look at the differing opinions of our culture's immersion in technology and social media. 

Of course, I wrote "Happy Birthday" in my comments! I also wrote that I am just getting back into my teaching career and his post helped me see the benefits of developing a PLN. 

map of Oklahoma

"New Leadership"

On his blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, Wesley Fryer introduces his readers to the new superintendent in his area. He gives an extensive background of Rob Neu. To save his readers time he includes time stamped links to videos that feature the incoming superintendent. "Meet New OKCPS Superintendent: Rob Neu (April 2014)" was an excellent introduction that allowed readers to form their own opinions. 

After reading through the comments made by Neu in interviews, I commented that it appeared they would be getting a forward-thinking superintendent. I even mentioned a book I had recently read, Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning by Marc Prensky. I spoke about the need for positive change and wished them luck in getting some changes in their area. 

Comments for Kids

picture of children holding cameras

"Photography in the Classroom"

I made my first comment for kids, and it was extremely gratifying to read the words of a student who was clearly enthusiastic about the project his teacher assigned and then be able to provide positive comments that will hopefully inspire him to continue learning.

I was assigned to Callum, and he posted about a photography project in which the students worked in groups to photograph pictures of items A-Z. He mentioned that he liked working in the group to decide what the best object for each picture would be for each letter.

In my comments, I complimented him for being an enthusiastic learner and writer. I also recommended that he check out a book about photography or read more about it on the Internet if he was truly interested in it because it can be a great hobby. I also told him that I like to take pictures as well, and that I had actually been out over the weekend taking pictures of the local landscape. What a rewarding experience it was to encourage a young learner!

This is a link to Ms. Toal's Class Blog.

This week I have been assigned to comment on the blogs of three students. Brady and Samantha are in Mrs. Reuter's class, and Madison P. is in Mrs. Geldes' class.

picture of kids' roller skates

In Brady's post, he wrote a narrative in which he chronologically described the events of his "busy weekend." In my comment, I explained that I was very impressed with his use of commas, and that sledding sounds like a lot fun. I told him that we do not get snow here, but we do have the beach. I inquired if he would be going skating again. He stated in his blog that he had just been on his first skating trip.

Samantha wrote a great post about the importance of movies in our lives. She started her post with a question, "Without movies, what would life be like?" In my comments, I told her that I liked the way she started her post with a question and told her that it was a great way to catch her audience's attention. I asked what prompted her to choose the topic of movies to write about and asked if she had made any movies of her own.

picture of a sapphire birthstone

Madison included a tellagami in her post. She was studying birthstones in her science class and said that her birthstone was a sapphire. The tellagami included a cartoon representation of her and an actual picture of a sapphire. In my comment, I answered her question and told her that my birthstone was a ruby. I explained that I did not know very much about them, but because she had asked I now thought I should do some research.

flow chart describing literacy learning

Little Voices, Little Scholars was the class blog I commented on this week. The students were Te-Manea, Jarreka, and Benjamin.

Te-Manea had drawn a picture and given an oral presentation of the events of her weekend which included a visit to her aunt's house and a swim in her pool. I commented that I also liked swimming and asked if Te-Manea liked to play any pool games. I told her that I liked to play Marco Polo. I also complimented her on her drawing.

The comments for Jarreka and Benjamin were similar because I couldn't find a post that highlighted any of their individual work. I did find the picture the teacher had taken and posted of these students, and I commented on those. In the comments, I told them that I had been looking at their class blog and that it looked like they were having a lot of fun learning. I encouraged them to keep up the good work.

map of New Zealand

Pt England School in Auckland, New Zealand

Rave wrote about a 21st birthday party for her cousin. She described the celebration and what the guests wore. In her description, she said that guests were supposed to wear black and gold for the Monte Carlo theme.

I wrote to her and told her that we usually have large celebrations for the 16th birthday because that is when you get a license to drive a car. I also told her that I loved celebrating with family and friends. I explained that I especially enjoyed celebrating my little boy's birthday. I asked if she had any special birthday celebrations.

Russell was a little sweetheart! He wrote about swimming lessons and included a picture from his class. I also read his "about me" section where he wrote that he liked the movie Friday the 13th and his favorite place to eat was Wendy's. :)

I shared with Russell that I love to swim and that I also love Wendy's. I asked if he had ever ordered a Frosty. I also told him that I couldn't watch Friday the 13th because it was too scary for me.

Jorja was a little older than the others. She was 13 and I was very impressed with her entire blog! She used different fonts for different posts which I found very visually appealing. I may go back and change some of my fonts to spice up my own page! In her post "Cyclone Lusi," she wrote about the effects of a the weather event. She included information on death tolls, times, locations, and specific events. It was very well written. I also read and commented on her post titled "Empathy."

I told Jorja that in our coastal community we also experience what we call hurricanes. I explained that I had not experienced a full-blown hurricane and that I considered myself fortunate.

Lee used a really neat website called Educreations to complete a math problem. He wrote out the problem and explained what he was doing as he worked.

I told Lee that he had taught me a new math trick. I explained that when I learned to do similar math problems that my teacher had taught me a much more complicated way. I also complimented him on the artwork on his blog.

Stevenson and another student did a Google presentation about the albatross bird and how they protect their young.

The two students did a nice job on the presentation. They included pictures and varied the font they used to make it more visually appealing. In Stevenson's "About Me" section, he wrote that he was glad that he didn't have to do work on "boring old paper!" I told him I was glad that he didn't have to either! :) (I got confused. I wasn't actually supposed to comment on Stevenson's post, but I left my comments because I didn't think a little extra positive motivation could hurt.)

Johnlee posted a picture of his "tracking sheet" showing what he had mastered in "maths." The sheet showed that he had received colored smiley faces in all areas.

I told him that I was happy to see that he was excited about learning math, and I congratulated him on getting all colored smiley faces. I also encouraged him to keep up the good work.

photo of a kotuku
The Kotuku
Cyrus created a postcard in which he incorporated pictures of the "kotuku" which is a native bird to New Zealand. It has beautiful snowy white feathers and almost went extinct at one point because its feathers were being used in women's hats.

In my comments, I told Cyrus that I thought his postcard was lovely and that we also have heron here. I explained that our heron are called blue heron, but they actually have grayish colored feathers. I also noticed that he said he liked the NFL. So I couldn't resist adding a "Roll Tide!!!" :)

Shelley posted about her swimming class and drinking morning tea. There was also a photo of the class included in the post.

In my comment, I told Shelley that her school sounded like a lot of fun and the weather was finally warming up enough here for swimming. I also said that I liked the her pets' names, Zoom and Smokey. :)

Rawiri's post was of an image he chose from a legal images site. It was very interesting. It was a lightning bolt with a dog inside it.

I commented that he chose an interesting image and said I wondered what drew him to it. I also commented that I didn't like lizards or frogs. (He said he liked lizards in his "About Me" section), but I loved the zoo (He liked the zoo too).

Nytram completed a survey about what he had been learning this semester, and it was posted using Vimeo. It was very hard to hear what he was saying because there was a lot of background noise. I did catch that he didn't have too much of an affinity for Google Drive though. I found a little humor in that!

In my comments, I asked Nytram if he could believe that he and a college student were using the same tools for learning. I explained that I was also using Blogger and Google Drive.

photograph of the stages of a caterpillar turning into a chrysalis
David, Daniella, and Adam all created animations of the life cycle of a butterfly. They uploaded these animations to Vimeo and then to their blogs. I am not sure what program they used to create the animations, but it is definitely a program I'm interested in using with future students. In my comments, I complimented them on their beautiful drawings and added some fun facts about the Monarch butterfly. I also left a challenging conversion question in one of my comments.

How did EDM510 affect me?

I wanted to include a photograph of the tomato plants that I referred to in the video. To me, they are a physical representation of the growth that took place in me over the semester.

Friday, May 2, 2014


photograph of a blue bird


There seems to be some variation in what the letters PLN represent. Some refer to it as a "Professional Learning Network," and others refer to it as a, "Personal Learning Network." Personally, I like Dean Shareski's interpretation, "Personal Living Network." Often times, the people we seek out to learn from as professionals become part of our personal lives, as well. So many times, this has happened to me. For example, mentor teachers have become dear friends to me. I also believe that we all have a PLN whether or not we call it that.

I think we instinctively collect the names of individuals with certain skills that may be helpful to us. Those names most often referenced usually change as the seasons of our lives change. As a new mother, I collected the names of other mothers, pediatricians, and parenting books, magazines, and websites. Anytime, I had a problem I would reference one of those sources, as well as read to educate myself on the latest developments. 

Until recently, my PLN consisted of people in my contact list on my iPhone, Facebook pages of colleagues (friends), bloggers, businesses, and organizations, and Pinterest boards of the like. My PLN has now expanded to include Twitter. I am "following" several people and organizations that are beneficial to my professional growth. I specifically searched out accounts that related to library media and technology. 

In my opinion, our "networks" should include not only individuals that help us grow professionally, but also individuals who inspire our passions. Because when we grow our passions, it enhances who we are, and we are better able to grow as professionals. 

So do yourself a favor and go take that cooking or painting class that you've always wanted to take! You'll be inspired and probably make a connection with someone that you can add to your PLN!  


My professional development plan doesn't look anything like the example presented on Sakai. I could make a plan that adhered strictly to those guidelines, but I wouldn't benefit very much from it because I am not at that point in my career. I am not a classroom teacher, nor do I plan on being one in the next 2 years. By the time I was able to use a plan that looked like the one presented, changes in education will have taken place along with advances in technology. My PDP would be obsolete. 

I do have a plan though; a more practical and realistic plan that I can actually apply to growing professionally. During the next year, I plan to substitute teach in a variety of grades so I can discover which grade level I am truly suited for. Currently, I only have experience with 3rd grade and 5th grade. I also plan to continue taking graduate courses. Being involved with PTO is also part of my plan. Hopefully, I will gain knowledge that I can apply to my career by viewing teaching from a different perspective. So far, I only have the perspective of student and teacher. Actively participating in PTO will give me the opportunity to gain perspective as a parent and also learn what other parents' perspectives are. What it is they expect from their child's teacher and how I can meet some of those expectations? 

Staying connected through social media is also part of the plan. Most importantly, I plan to contribute more through blogging and Twitter. EDM510 has given me a good foundation to build on. 

Other than that, I'm going to leave my options open. There are so many areas in which to make a contribution in education. Areas that I had not previously considered. Some of those possibilities include becoming a legislative advocate for policies that I believe will make a positive difference. The opportunities abound! Where will they take me? 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Video Book Review

What did Dr. Strange leave out?

Dr. Strange asked for an assignment idea for future EDM510 students. I had several ideas, but I finally settled on Google Education Hangouts on Air. I discovered this site earlier in the semester while doing some research for one of my blog posts. It contains numerous professional development videos from previous hangouts, or you can choose to join a hangout that is scheduled for the future. (That may be a variation of the assignment I will be describing. Actually participate in an upcoming Education hangout.) So here's my idea for an assignment...

Go to Google Education Hangouts on Air.  Explore the site and choose a video from "Past Recordings" that interests you. Watch the video and write a post about what you learned. Embed the video in your post.

"20% Time a.k.a. Genius Hour"

In this video, Kevin Brookhouser and Juan De Luca introduce you to the idea of 20% Time in their Google hangout titled "Radical Autonomy:  Giving your students 20% Time to Pursue their Passion while Learning your Content."

They explain that businesses like 3M and Google have been using this idea for years. Basically, they give their employees 20% of the work week to pursue projects that interest them. Many teachers have now begun to implement 20% Time programs in their classroom, sometimes called "Genius Hour." Both Mr. Brookhouser and Mr. De Luca have had phenomenal results with this program. Their students produced some great projects while learning the curriculum; not because they had to, but because they needed/wanted to. The students are motivated because it is a project they chose. Everyone is doing something different. Blogging is also an important part of Mr. Brookhouser's class.

I really like 20% Time, but I'm not sure it's suitable for the lower elementary grades. I don't know if they have the amount of self motivation required to work independently on a project that spans over a long period of time. I do think 4th grade and up could handle this type of responsibility. You might choose to do one project per semester. Maybe for the lower grades it could be modified to a shorter period of time. The same principles would be used, but instead of the projects running for an entire semester, maybe the time frame could be shortened to one grading period. Mr. Brookhouser and Mr. De Luca are both high school teachers.

I'd like to do more research on 20% Time in order to find elementary teachers who may be implementing this program. If you know of any good resources that may help me, please share them in the comments. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review

In the true spirit of "partnering," I'm going to do some self assessment. If I had the luxury of time, I would do the whole thing over. This was my first video book review, and I found it to be the most difficult assignment so far. How can making 10-12 minutes worth of video take hours?! I had a good idea of what I wanted to produce, but I wasn't exactly sure what tools ("nouns") I needed to get the product. I did some research and found some editing software that cost $100. (I opted not to purchase that.) So I decided to go with a combination of tools I was already familiar with: Google Presentations, Photo Booth, and YouTube.

I really enjoyed reading this book and found it very inspiring. While reading I actually took 8 pages of notes to reference in case I ever get the opportunity to teach using the "partnering" method. However, I did not find making the presentation and videos as enjoyable. Looking back, I can see how I could have done it better. If I had the opportunity to redo this assignment, I would prepare a speech, just like I would have done for a speech class. Then, I would make notes on index cards to refer to as I gave the speech. I think I would have been more pleased with the results using those steps. "'Ancora imparo'" Translation: "'I am still learning.'" (p. 170, Prensky)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Real v. Relevant

Brian Crosby's TEDx Talk was fantastic! Who wouldn't want to be a student in his class? It was by far my favorite of all the videos, and I had actually already partly watched it on my own the previous week because I have been commenting on his blog all semester.

Brian has so much enthusiasm and excitement for his job. That was the most impressionable part of his video for me. I also liked that he and his students collaborated with professionals and graduate students on projects. Graduate students - that's an untapped resource I hadn't thought of before! A few quotes that struck me... "We can't keep racing kids through school." "We have to go back to a notion of building schools that honor kids." In my opinion, Brian Crosby is a shining example of what all teachers should be doing in their classrooms!

Paul Anderson's Blended Learning Cycle wasn't as motivating for me. Maybe because I watched it immediately following Brian.

Because I was thinking about and connecting what I was viewing to what I've recently read in Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, it struck me that Paul's lessons were relevant, but they weren't very real. I appreciated his method - QUIVERS, but I found it lacking. I would like to have seen students using technology to present and share what they learned with an authentic audience. The most impressive part of his video was the idea of "hooking" the students. Euler's disk was an amazing hook!

Sam Pane's Super Digital Citizen was an awesome lesson and watching the video lead to my discovery of TeachingChannel and Common Sense Media.

I noted that he had students have a "whisper level conversation" with their peers before answering the question to him. That gives everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts; not just the student who raises his/her hand. "Gallery walks" were also a great idea! I also noticed that he wasn't using the technology; the kids were. This lesson was both real and relevant!

The only drawback I could see was its lack of including the students' different passions. What if some of the kids weren't into comic books or super heroes? Maybe he could have somehow given them more choice in what character they chose to express good digital citizenship. Animal fans could have chosen a favorite animal. Music lovers could have chosen a favorite musician. It's just a thought.

photograph of a bald eagle in flight

"Students would have a hard time telling you what class they were taking," is my favorite quote from Dean Shareski's Project Based Learning. Wow! That's how it should be done! What these teachers were doing was also real and relevant.

I am a huge fan of combining subjects into one large class period. I like the idea of combining multiple teachers into the same classroom even better! Teachers from individual subject areas are collaborating together to bring meaningful lessons to the students. It's partnering on top of partnering! We need some major restructuring like this to take place in our local schools.

I also liked that students were changing their, "I'm done," to an, "I'm really proud of this." We've had those kids who put the minimal effort into the project just so they can say, "I'm done." It so much more rewarding to hear him/her say, "I'm really proud of this." It was also motivating to hear the teacher say, "We teach beyond the curriculum." The curriculum shouldn't be the ceiling. It should be the foundation that we help lay and build upon.

photograph of the foundation of a skyscraper

From Roosevelt Elementary's PBL Program, I saw how Project Based Learning could be implemented in the earliest of grades and that technology wasn't always a necessity for this approach to learning. I especially enjoyed the testimonies of the parents who were pleased with how and what their children were learning.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Anthony Capps Interview Response

cartoon about standardized testing

Great question choice! ;) As I was listening to the interview, I found myself agreeing with most of what Mr. Capps was saying, but there was one thing he said that alarmed me. Before I get into that, I'd like to commend Mr. Capps for being a pioneer in his school with the PBL method. I think it's a great way to engage students and to get them learning and using technology in meaningful ways.

I don't feel really comfortable expressing opinions about PBL because I have had no formal training or experience teaching with this method, but I do see a lot of benefits to it and am very interested in learning more about it. 

Mr. Capps' answers to the questions asked were very informative and well thought out. I especially liked his response about making the connection between "not responsive students" and assigning material that was overwhelming to them. Often times, this is why students misbehave in class or shutdown. I also liked the "video pal" program that helps foster the development of a second language. Wow! That will definitely have an impact on the community and the world! Lastly, I liked that he stated the need to, "set up a community of learners." I believe this is crucial in any classroom. Students need to be taught that they are on the same team and that helping one another is beneficial to everyone. 

Now, here's my problem with the interview. I don't blame Mr. Capps for his thinking because this is the way our education system is currently designed, and, I think partly to blame, why we as a nation are falling behind in educational rankings (which I'm not sure is a fair and totally accurate representation of what's actually going on). Be Glad for Our Failure to Catch Up With China in Education.  We aren't comparing apples to apples with these tests. Our students are being educated in completely different environments in some cases.

Mr. Capps said, "Some students can handle a really open question, and they just wanna go dig, dig, dig, dig. And they know exactly how to dig, but those students aren't the ones that you really need to teach anyway."  

"Those students," are probably the brightest in the class! And, yes, they do need to be taught just as much as the student with learning disabilities. This is why I despise standardized testing. Standardized testing leads to an overemphasis on test scores and not the children. Our brightest kids are sitting in classes whizzing through assignments and basically being left to educate themselves while teachers are hyper-focused on the group of students whose scores need to be raised in order to meet the state standard. If we paid half the attention to our brightest kids that we give to the underperforming students, where would that get us? Hmmm.... No one wants to talk about it because that would be politically incorrect and "no child left behind" is/was our motto. Well, some children aren't getting "left behind", but they are certainly getting "left out" because they got it a week ago the first time the teacher said it.

Not all children learn at the same pace just like not all babies learn to sit-up, crawl, or walk at the same pace. We all mature and learn at different rates and trying to force little brains to master a skill that they are just not developmentally ready for isn't doing anyone any good. Meanwhile, star student, is sitting over there starving for the next lesson to be taught because he/she has already mastered the current standard. I don't have all the answers to the problems, but I do know we have to start making our brightest students a priority as well. They deserve just as much of our attention as the students who are struggling.

Standardized testing is doing nothing for our educational system. We need tests that show the growth of the individual student. A test that can show the achievements made over the course of the school year. Many students make huge strides in a school year and still fail to meet state testing standards. How defeating is that? Instead of being upset over not meeting a rigid standard set by the state, we should be celebrating with the little person all the accomplishments that he/she made in the school year! Encouragement, in this way, will lead to a better attitude toward learning and a stronger desire to learn which will ultimately lead to more productive members of society. Isn't that the goal anyway?

"What are the things you have learned from watching this video?" I learned that our educational system is still in need of a major overhaul, and teachers like Mr. Capps are out there trying new ways of doing things. But it's not enough. We need to make bigger changes; meaningful changes that will affect the growth of students in a positive way.

Interview with Anthony Capps