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

"So the experiment is?"

picture of an icon for listening

Dr. Strange had us listen to a podcast. Dr. Strange also stated in his weekly assignments...

"This is also an experiment. I failed to record the video so only the audio is available. (We all make mistakes). But there is really no need to watch Anthony and me talking. So the experiment is?"

Well, Dr. Strange, I beg to differ. There IS a need to watch Anthony and you talk. Just listening without seeing facial expressions is much more difficult than watching and listening to the two of you have the conversation. So I think the experiment you wanted us to pick up on was that of listening compared to listening and watching. 

Although I do find it easier to listen and watch compared to just listening, I think listening is a skill that we all need, and some or most of us are losing. When I taught in Texas, I was the coach for the Listening Team. The students listened to a passage and answered questions immediately afterwards. They were allowed to take notes that they thought would be helpful in answering the questions. I'm happy to say that my students worked very hard and placed at the district competition each year that I coached. I don't take any of that credit. They did all the work! I was extremely proud of them though. 

I remember doing listening activities when I was in elementary school. I found them extremely difficult then too. It's just much easier to have visual stimulation that complements the auditory stimulation. The combination leads to a better understanding, at least for me. 

I did a little research on this topic and found a wonderful TED talk about how to become a better listener. Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better.  

Final thought... As teachers we need to be good listeners, and we also need to teach our students the skill of listening. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

21st Century Learning and Communication Tools

The learning and communication tools available to teachers and students in the 21st century are abundant to say the least. It can actually be very overwhelming. It makes me wish there was a site that categorized ALL the tools available and gave a brief description of each and it's uses.

Tool #1
Well, I haven't found a site like that, but I did come across a site that categorizes and gives brief descriptions of several tools. Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools is a great place to begin! I found this site earlier in the semester while doing some reading for my Library Management course, and I pinned it to a board in Pinterest because I knew it was going to be useful at a later time. That time has arrived!

I learned how to do screenshots!

Tool #2
On Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools, I found several useful tools, but I want to highlight one in particular. Glogster EDU is a wonderful site! There is even a free tutorial to show you how to utilize all the features offered. There is also a free version (that lasts for 32 days), or you can choose to purchase the program. One downfall is that the higher the grade level; the higher the cost of the program. 

Glogster allows you or students to create digital posters! You can add images, videos, and texts to these posters, and you can embed them into a blog once they are complete. Students could work independently or collaboratively on these posters. 

There is also a Glogpedia, which is a collection of posters that others have made and published. These posters are categorized by subject area. Because I am in love with American history, I chose to embed a gloster about Benjamin Franklin. This is just one example of the many glogsters available in the Glogpedia. 

The cost for a 1 year subscription for an elementary teacher and 30 students is $39, which I think is a great deal for what you get!

Tool #3
Because I also love children's literature, I chose Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site. Here's a quote from the site that gives an explanation of what it offers.

"Find great books for preschool, elementary, and middle school children and teens and ideas of ways to teach with them in the classroom across the curriculum."

I believe children's literature is a great way to get little minds thinking and asking those questions we want to hear them ask! Those questions will lead to further exploration of sites like AVL and using technology to communicate what they've discovered which can then be shared with an authentic audience! 

Honorable Mentions

Citation Machine - Because there was a lot of emphasis on plagiarism earlier in the semester, I wanted to share this tool because it allows student to easily site a book or website. You simply choose what format and enter either the ISBN for books or the URL for websites! How simple is that? It will also check for plagiarism.

A Virtual Library of Useful URLs - This tool is very "useful" for students. The creator of this site has done all of the weeding. Scroll through the the subject headings (categorized by the Dewey Decimal System), and click on the topic of your choice. You will be directed to a list of several reliable and credible websites related to that topic.

Second Life Education - (...because I'm curious, and it was on that other syllabus.) I'm still trying to figure this one out. I watched this slideshare, 11 Ways to Use Second Life in Education, and I'm still scratching my head wondering if it's worth it.  By the way, slideshare also looks like a great tool!

This blog post could go on forever! I'm forcing myself to stop now!

ALEX - Alabama Learning Exchange

screenshot of ALEX homepage

ALEX is absolutely an essential resource to teachers in Alabama. On the site, not only teachers, but anyone, can search "Courses of Study" (state standards) and "Lesson Plans." You may also create a "Personal Workspace" which allows you to bookmark items and even create items such as lesson plans and podcasts. Below, I have links to some of the items I found useful on ALEX.

Courses of Study:

 Lesson Plans:

Personal Workspace:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Alabama Virtual Library

The residents of Alabama have a free resource available to them, and most don't even know it exists!

The following video is a short guide on the Alabama Virtual Library and its usefulness to elementary students, their parents, and elementary teachers. In the video, I point out some important features and some areas that need improvement. Thank you for watching! (Please, pardon my grammar. I was a bit nervous. This is my first screen recording.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?

picture of a brick wall with graffiti flowers painted on it
I found it difficult to listen to Randy Pausch's "last lecture" from the viewpoint of an educator. When you are listening to someone speak about their life while knowing that they only have a few short months to live, it's hard to listen from any other perspective than that of simply a human being who's trying to gain some tiny bit of knowledge about how to better live this life, but I think the point Randy made most clearly that can be applied to all areas of life is to just have fun! No matter what you are doing, have fun!

I think, for him, a part of having fun was doing the "head fake," and I can see why. Isn't that the best way to learn? If you could learn really difficult material and just think you're having fun, wouldn't you want to do it that way? That presents a challenge for educators. How can we make learning fun for our students? I think there are several ways we can do this, but first we need to get to know our students and what interests them. Once you are armed with that knowledge, you can begin to find ways to incorporate their interests into lessons, and before you know it, you're all having fun!

Another lesson we can learn about teaching from Randy Pausch is not to set the bar too low for our students. Like him, I think I'd be blown away by what students can produce by giving them more freedom and not setting limits for them. I am most excited about this theory because I found myself always giving very specific directions about what I wanted my students to produce and that's exactly what I got! Sometimes, I didn't even get that much! What if I hadn't told them what to give me? What could they have done? I'm excited to see!

Finally, I think Pausch's notion of "hitting brick walls" happens to the best of us. We've all hit that brick wall, but that doesn't mean we should stop pursuing our dreams. Brick walls are there to separate those who really want it from those who sort of want it. Brick walls build character and strength, and these are also the kinds of lessons we can help our students learn.

When faced with brick walls, we should spray them with graffiti and keep going! Now, that's having fun and showing that brick wall a thing or two! I think Randy Pausch would have agreed!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What do you think of open ended questions?

Reading through the assigned materials, I found several statements that resonated with me. I would like to share some of them. 

Ben Johnson stated, "The fallacy with this thinking is that sometimes the students do not understand that they do not understand, and if they do not know what they do not know, there is no way that they can ask a question about it." It sounds like something you might hear Dr. Seuss say, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. You have to have some understanding before you can ask questions. I have found myself in this dilemma several times this semester, and this will definitely affect my questioning strategy as a teacher in the future. Being the student for a while causes one to reflect on one's own teaching style. 

"Show that you are interested in students’ answers, whether right or wrong. Encourage students when they are offering answers by nodding, looking at them, and using facial expressions that show you are listening and engaged. Do not look down at your notes while they are speaking." This statement is from the article, "Asking Questions to Improve Learning." I believe this is key in getting students to engage in answering the open ended questions that are presented. No one wants to respond to a question when they think what they are saying isn't important to the person asking the question. It's important to show respect for students and a genuine interest in their responses. 

Perhaps the statement that resonated most with me was this by Maryellen Weimer, "1. Prepare Questions – For most of my teaching career, I never planned the questions I would ask. I spent lots of time preparing the content; making sure it was current, getting it organized, finding examples, working through explanations, relating what I shared in class to content in the book, but I never prepared questions. I just asked whatever came to me at the moment." 

This is a very accurate description of how I handled questioning. Sadly, the only time I put real thought into what questions I would ask was when constructing a test.

Dr. Weimer also points out that getting students to ask better questions should be a goal, and when they ask questions that we, the teacher, can't answer, then we have achieved success! At this point, we become actively engaged learners alongside our students!  

While watching the video, "Questioning Styles and Strategies," I cringed several times. I felt a lot of empathy for the students. The instructor was clearly not interested in the response of the students, and it was obvious that they could tell he wasn't interested. It was also apparent that he was looking for a particular answer which was making students apprehensive to offer their answers. I did not find that he was really engaging the students. He was drawing attention to them in negative, uncomfortable ways. This was apparent in their body language and timid responses. Responses to good open ended questions would be more enthusiastic. Enthusiastic students equal engaged students.

After reading and viewing the assigned materials, I did some searching and found a great website that I would like to share. Paula Denton wrote "Open Ended Questions." In this article she discusses, "What Makes Open Ended Questions So Powerful?" Here is what she wrote:

"Children’s learning naturally loops through a cycle of wonder, exploration, discovery, reflection, and more wonder, leading them on to increasingly complex knowledge and sophisticated thinking. The power of open-ended questions comes from the way these questions tap into that natural cycle, inviting children to pursue their own curiosity about how the world works.
Open-ended questions show children that their teachers trust them to have good ideas, think for themselves, and contribute in valuable ways. The resulting sense of autonomy, belonging, and competence leads to engagement and deep investment in classroom activities."
Paula's article is on the Responsive Classroom website. Because I was so impressed with her article about open ended questions, I did a little more investigating to find more information. Here is a wonderful video about the responsive classroom. 

I would like to suggest that it is not only important to ask open ended questions, but to also think about the wording we use, provide a positive response environment, listen with the enthusiasm in which we want our students to answer, and encourage students to ask their own open ended questions. What do you think?  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Project #3 Presentation

Project Based Learning

picture of students working on a project

Project based learning is not a novel idea. Teachers have been using this method for at least 30 years because as a student in elementary school I created projects and learned content during the process. We've all been assigned the solar system project at some point!

However, in the past, teachers assigned projects that usually required some use of materials that could be manipulated by the hands. The biggest difference I can see between the project based learning of the past and today is technology. Technology allows students to research, create, and share faster and more than ever before, making project based learning even more effective than in the past. Technology is such an integral part of students' every day lives using it in such a way allows the projects to become even more meaningful to them.

Watching the interviews with Anthony Capps, I was most impressed with his "scaffolding" idea of introducing and using technology with his students. I think this is an absolute must! This applies to all areas of learning. You wouldn't expect a student to do algebra before mastering addition and subtraction.

My question to Mr. Capps would be along the lines of classroom management. Does he ever experience a student who doesn't seem interested in the project, and how does he handle this type of situation? I might also ask if any of the projects that he assigns have an impact on serving the community in which he and his students reside. Are they learning to become good learners and users of technology, as well as, productive, caring members of their community? In my opinion, this would be the highest level you could reach for with project based learning, reaching beyond the walls of the classroom and making a positive contribution to the community through these projects.

As a fifth grade American history teacher, projects were a favorite way of mine to get standards met. I'm so excited about the advances in technology, for example iCurio, and I can't wait to find ways to integrate more of it into some of my favorite projects, as well as create new ones!

Alabama College and Career Standard:

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: CCR Anchor Standard 7: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitively, as well as in words."

Text Types and Purposes: CCR Anchor Standard 1: "Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Khan Academy: You get what you pay for, right?

          Is anything ever really free? At what cost do you actually pay for things that claim to be “free?” You’ve heard people say, “Freedom isn’t free.” I agree. Nothing is ever really free, and I will attempt to persuade you to see that the Khan Academy isn’t really free either. It can and does come at a very high cost in some instances.

            Khan Academy is a collection of over 3,000 videos available through the Khan Academy website and YouTube. It is a non-profit organization that sets out with the mission, “to provide a ‘free world-class education to anyone anywhere.’” (Wikipedia) Mr. Salman Khan is the mastermind and creator of the website. He started it in 2006. The Khan Academy has received significant funding from the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation and Google. (Wikipedia) Khan has even been coined, “Bill Gates’ favorite teacher.” (Kaplan) However, Mr. Khan has received no “formal training as a teacher.” (Stimpson, p. 49)

            According to numerous sources, Khan started tutoring one of his cousins in math and was very successful at helping her improve her math scores. As a result, other family members requested his help, and that is the very meager beginning of what has grown into a very popular education site that is viewed by millions.

            The popular site not only contains videos, but there are also pretests, practice problems, and badges to earn as you progress in your learning. There is a special section that is dedicated to teachers, or “Coaches” as the site refers to them. There are many tools and resources to help the teacher gain knowledge about the needs of her students.

The Khan Academy offers lessons in a variety of subject areas ranging from mathematics to history.  The lessons are offered to the user in a “self-paced” way. Kahn Academy lists the “bedrock principles” behind these lessons as:
Mastery-based to build a strong foundation

Personalized to meet the unique needs of each student

Interactive and exploratory to encourage creativity and applied learning
Khan Academy logo

            As part of my research, I took a math pretest and proceeded to do some of the practice problems. I admit that it was fun! Receiving all that positive feedback, racking up “energy points,” getting hints when needed, and having the coordinating videos available all give the learner a very personal, engaging, and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, I did not have the same euphoric experience when I clicked on the history section. This is when my opinion of the site began to go in a different direction, but I’ll save that for later.

            There are many opinions about Khan Academy to be found on the Internet. Most of what I found in the beginning was all negative, but after digging a little deeper, I was able to find some positive opinions of the site.  Most negative opinions that I found were those of educators, and the positive opinions were usually ones of those who, like Khan, appeared to have no formal teacher training. I was beginning to see a pattern in the opinions that I was reading. If I had no formal training or experience as a teacher, I might also view Khan Academy as the answer to the broken education system of our country.

            When searching for opinions of Khan Academy, I found an interesting, anonymously written blog titled the “Assailed Teacher.” The author of the blog informs readers that he has been teaching history in New York City for 12 years in his “About” section. In his post, “Khan Academy: If You Don’t Like It, You Don’tGet It,” the assailed teacher very poignantly expresses the views of what I found to be that of all the educator comments I read. He starts the post with the comments left by a Mr. Peter Berger on one of his previous posts about the Khan Academy. Mr. Berger was obviously a fan of Khan Academy stating,

You say “What innovation does Sal Khan offer in American education besides a pause button?” and, disturbingly, you say that as if it’s a small thing. This shows that you’re missing the point. A pause button is a huge leap in pedagogy. A pause button is world-changing.

The assailed teacher responded to the “pause button” comment in a statement of his own,

The fact that people believe a pause button is an educational innovation says a lot about how they see teaching. Sure, you can pause and rewind a video however many times you want. What do you get? The same thing over and over, repeated in the same way.

            Essentially the assailed teacher is saying that a “pause-button” doesn’t allow for questioning or having the information presented to the student in a different, more meaningful way. He also addresses other flaws of the Khan Academy such as its focus on teaching facts and procedures rather than promoting thought and discussion.  The assailed teacher places Khan Academy in the same group with reformers who have sought to reform education through rote memorization of facts and standardized testing. (Anonymous)

            Despite having many critics, Khan Academy does have its supporters. Bill Gates is probably the most well known. Gates said, "I'd say we've moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job." (Kaplan) John and Ann Doerr are also staunch supporters, having made large donations. John Doerr is a venture capitalist in Silicone Valley. Another supporter is John McCall MacBain who also generously donated to the Khan Academy. MacBain is from Canada and made a lot of money in the publishing industry. (Kaplan) All these people have something in common, they are not educators, and I doubt they have any formal training as educators.

            Does Khan have any supporters that are also educators? Yes, he does. Supporters of Khan might also be practicing a new method of teaching known as the “flipped classroom.” In this method, students take acquisition of knowledge into their own hands at home by watching videos. The teacher is no longer standing in front of the classroom giving a lecture, but instead he has projects and learning opportunities prepared for students once they return with the knowledge they gained at home. What was once considered homework is now done at school. 

Picture of Shelby Harris and students

            Shelby Harris, a teacher from Idaho, uses Khan’s videos in her flipped 7th grade math classroom. Harris says she feels that she is a better teacher now, and that she is teaching the students rather than the standards. She admits it was difficult in the beginning and she had to “redefine” how she saw herself as a teacher. She now sees herself as more of a “sideline coach.” (Cotterell)

In closing, I would like to present my opinions and concerns from the viewpoint of an elementary teacher. Like all things, the Khan Academy has its pros and cons, but I do not believe it is the answer we’re looking for to correct the problems that have been created in the educational system. The Khan Academy, if used properly, could be a great teaching tool, but that’s it. It’s just a tool, like many others that are available to teachers. It is not the magical answer so many claim it to be.

Teachers have to take on the hard task of changing the way they teach. The days of memorizing facts and showing off your memorization skills on bubble-in tests are over and should have never begun, in my opinion. “Learning” presented in that manner is such an injustice to what the human brain is actually capable of. My hope is that Khan Academy is used to its potential by educators, and also that it is not put on a pedestal above the teacher as the answer to our educational woes.

Good teachers are of an irreplaceable value to the schools, students, and communities they serve. I do not see them being replaced by Khan Academy, but rather, I see them becoming even better at what they do through using tools like Khan Academy to meet the changing needs of their students. In my opinion, any attempt to replace these valuable members of society with Khan Academy would come at a detrimental price making Khan Academy the most costly program that ever hit the education system.

Anonymous (2012, March 3). Khan Academy: If You Don’t Like It, You Don’t Get It [Web log
post]. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://theassailedteacher.com
Cotterell, Adam. (2013, September 3). 48 Idaho Schools “Flip the Classroom” And Pilot Khan Academy Online Learning. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://boisestatepublicradio.org
Kaplan, David. (2010, August 24). Bill Gates’ favorite teacher. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://money.cnn.com
Khan, Sal. Khan Academy. http://www.khanacademy.org
Khan Academy. n.d. In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khan_Academy
Stimpson, Catherine. (2013). Book Review The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.rpajournal.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"What is a search engine?"

picture that includes the names of popular search engines

The first thing I did when starting this assignment was go to the all-knowing "Google" and type in the question, "What is a search engine?" I got 548,000,000 results in 0.52 seconds! Luckily, I hit gold with the third result listed. Whew!

The ten search engines listed by Paul Gil were as follows and in this order: 

1. Duck Duck Go (Catchy name! I think I'll check this one out!)
2. Ask (Been there, done that.)
3. Bing (Maybe)
4. Yippy (Again, catchy name. I think I'll check it out!)
5. Webopedia (Sorry, Webopedia. Your name isn't enticing enough.) 
6. Yahoo (Ah! Nostalgia! I should repay this one a visit just for old times' sake.) 
7. Dogpile (What? Ok. I'll check it out.)
8. The Internet Archive (The name is long, but the description sounds interesting.) 
9. Mahalo (I'm there!)
10. Google (Of course, it's listed.) 

I now have 6 search engines to research, as instructed. The winners are: 
1. Duck Duck Go
2. Yippy
3. Yahoo
4. Dogpile
5. The Internet Archive
6. Mahalo 

The results:
1. Duck Duck Go gets an A+! It's neat and simplistic. It kind of reminds me of Google, but without the messy, distracting ads. Duck Duck Go also allows you to search anonymously so that you can't be profiled by your searches. I really liked this one and might make it my new search engine! 

2. Yippy started out promising, but ended in disappointment. I liked the option of choosing which device you are using on the homepage, but when searching my own name, Chea Driver, none of the top 30 hits included me. This engine is known for being able to track down "obscure' content. I guess I'm not "obscure" enough to be listed in the top 30. I don't think I would use it again unless I couldn't find what I was looking for elsewhere. 

3. Yahoo, I remember why I moved on! As soon as you open the page, you are bombarded with tons of information which I find very distracting. It's a complete mess, but if you want to check your horoscope, it's the place to go! 

4. Dogpile was the, "fast and efficient choice before Google," according to Gil. He also gave it accolades for providing "cross link results." This engine would probably be most appealing to dog lovers with it's "Go Fetch" search button and cute doggie mascot. I did like the cross link results, but when trying to search my name in the "White Pages" section available on the homepage, I had to include my first and last name, city, and state before it would "Go Fetch." I found that a little irritating. In my opinion, this doggie needs to go back to obedience school. 

5. The Internet Archive sounded very interesting in the description given by Gil. "The Archive has been taking snapshots of the entire World Wide Web for years now, allowing you and me to travel back in time to see what a web page looked like in 1999, or what the news was like around Hurricane Katrina in 2005." The music and history lover in me instantly fell in love with this search engine. On the homepage, the "Live Music Archive" was especially pleasurable. I also liked the "Curator's Choice" feature. I see myself spending more time using this search engine in the future, but I'll probably mainly use it for pleasure. 

6. Mahalo was well organized. In his description, Gil said the site was, "human-powered." Anything with a human element to it in this digital age sounds appealing to me! The layout reminds me of Pinterest. I liked the "How To" feature on the homepage. There were many other options to choose from, but they were presented in an organized way that wasn't overwhelming to the user. When searching my name, the results automatically included videos and images. I liked that feature, as well. I'd be willing to try out this search engine for a while. 

* Wolfram Alpha Hmm.... What's this problem generator? This looks interesting! I love a good challenge! Ugh... Ok, I'll create an account if I must! Awesome! Math problems! 
I really like this search engine. The homepage is color customizable. Giving the user choices is nice and refreshing. There is so much to explore on this site, from the mobile apps to the resources and tools. This site is not for the novice user, but I think it would be worth the effort of familiarizing yourself with. It even has a feature to analyze your Facebook data! I'll definitely be back! 

Source: http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/navigatingthenet/tp/top_10_search_engines_for_beginners.htm

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Hey! That's not fair!"

plagiarism cartoon

Sitting in my desk in Mrs. Martin's 11th grade AP English class, I got my first, and last, real lesson in plagiarism. She was the most feared teacher in high school, and she did a great job of explaining what plagiarism was and what the penalties were. In the days ahead, I proceeded, cautiously, writing my first term paper. I was filled with the fear of plagiarizing, or maybe it was the fear of Mrs. Martin! 

I think very few students actually set out with the intention to plagiarize. Most are either misinformed or just uninformed. As educators, it is our responsibility to teach them what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. It should be a lesson that is taught early and often. 

First and most importantly, students should be taught why we don't want them to plagiarize, and we should instill them with the confidence to use their own words. As an elementary teacher, I think a lot of students aren't confident in their voices and ideas. It was so hard to make 5th graders understand that I truly wanted to hear their thoughts and not someone else's. The majority felt their reports should sound and look exactly like the reference materials they had used. A few students finally did accept that I wasn't expecting them to rewrite the encyclopedia, and I got some really good writing out of those students. 

As for the "why," I think students could very simply be taught why we don't want them to plagiarize through a creative and meaningful lesson. I have heard students say on many occasions, "Hey! That's not fair!" They may not understand the concept of plagiarism fully and completely, but they certainly understand the concept of fairness. An effective way to teach this lesson is by having the students create something, but ask them not to put their names on it. Next, add the name of another classmate to their work and have it on display upon their return to class. I'm sure that will get immediate feedback and start a great discussion about plagiarism! 

Book Trailer

Thursday, January 23, 2014


My Test Post Title. This is my first post! I clicked the HTML button which I should always do in EDM510. I am now a blogger! That was nearly painless, and I'm pretty proud of myself!