About Me

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I am always seeking to make the most of each moment. I love to read, play outside and steal a moment to enjoy my surroundings whenever I can!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Final Report on PLN

In my PLN progress report I said I was still learning to orchestrate my web resources.  Well, I still am.  However the orchestration is beginning to seem more fluid.  I have learned to open my delicious page every time I do any work on the internet to bookmark and categorize the sites I come across.  I love this.  It is helping me build resources for use now and in the future.  Some times a site looks like it would be great to use as a teaching tool.  I just don't have students yet so I bookmark it.  Some sites are great research tools that I can use as a student.  Delicious is there at home or away so I don't have to be at my own desk to add to it or access it.

I still use facebook as a resource because there is always an audience to ask advice from.  I am learning the value of twitter more now.  I sometimes do not have time to pursue all the links because of my studies so I bookmark them in delicious.  I have learned to ask a question in a tweet.  The results are instant and awesome.
I have fellow students as well in my PLN.  I am learning to ask and answer questions about EDM310 and other classes on threaded discussions and in social sites like twitter and facebook.
And of course blogging.  I post assignments now but plan to continue composing on my blog(s) when the term is over and well into the future.  I really love it.  I like visiting class blogs, educator blogs, you name it!  The term I like that I recently heard used is information filter.  That is a good definition of what my PLN is becoming.  There is so much information out there that is great and allot that is not so great.  Asking the opinion of others launches my search for information through the atmosphere of nonsense straight to the planet of great learning!

rocket launching

Comments for Teachers #4

This assignment has led me to the blog of Andrea Hernandez.  She is an educator in Florida and author of the blog EdTechWorkshop.  The post I read was titled "The Garden of Tweetin'".  In this post Hernandez discusses twitter in by using an analogy.  She compares twitter to a garden that you decide what to plant in, how often to care for it, and that determines what the harvest will be.  I liked this post.  I am honestly a fan of twitter but have had little to contribute to the stream of information myself.  I am still learning so much about how to use the tools of the internet that have been introduced to me this semester in EDM310 that I feel behind the times still. However the knowledge I have gained is growing and I feel confident that given time (which is scarce with finals on the horizon) I will join the tweets with my own helpful insights.  I hesitate to tweet much as of yet.  I know one proverb that helps me when I am in unsure territories:

blue eyed child holding finger over lips

"Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." Proverbs 17:28

cupcakes with twitter logo on them
I will surely feel confident in tweeting more when I am more familiar with the topics or feel I have something meaningful to add.  I hope to continue to monitor tweets and follow links to facilitate my learning.  I left a comment for Hernandez stating how I appreciated her sharing knowledge with me about twitter.  I hope to follow her blog in the future and use it as a resource to help me be a great educator.  

Another visit to Hernandez's Blog revealed a post titled "Brand, Un-brand, Re-brand".  In 
this blog post Hernandez talks about change.  The need to change in order to grow and 
learn.  She voices her fears that change can lead to failure and then asserts that it can also lead to success.  Her point is that progress cannot be made without some risk of failure.  I have to agree that is true.  I happen to own a business that I opened at 24 years of age.  It was a HUGE risk!  I knew that if I stuck to what I knew how to do well the risk could really pay off.  Now almost 7 years later I see that change is a part of keeping my business successful.  I have to constantly trim this and add that to keep up with the tide of current events.  Styles change, expectations change, costs change, and demand changes.  The consistency is that I am always trying to do the best at whatever I am doing.  This is my integrity.  I follow through.  If something fails then I learn to not make that mistake twice and grow from the failure.  This concept is all part of growth both personally and professionally. 
 I am also risking a change again by going to college and changing careers.  I do not know what the future holds.  I do know what my plans are and will follow them through with optimism and commitment.  I know that I have to follow my intuition, temper it with wisdom, season it with patience, and wrap it all in prayer.  I think this is my philosophy.  Change and risk are part of it.  
I posted words of encouragement on Mrs. Hernandez's blog post.  She replied to my previous comments with encouraging words.  I hope that I am able to share my wisdom as she has been able to.  It has been hard earned (mostly through failures).  I am building a PLN with some great people in it.  I am honored to add Andrea Hernandez to that group.  I think if we all share our mistakes in addition to our successes we can grow exponentially!  

Blog Post 14

Special Assignment
comic cartoon of Dr. telling patient it is only a metaphor

When one uses a metaphor they are telling about something more complex by using a story or analogy that is more straightforward and easy to understand.  This is a form of communicating through storytelling.  It is not meant to confuse but to clarify.  Metaphors are used everyday in many societies.  Some examples of metaphors are listed below to clarify the definition:

"All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances."
                                                                                                                 William Shakespeare

"I have a lot on my plate right now."

"The apple does not fall far from the tree."

"At the crack of dawn."

"You are as deaf as a post."

"I have too many irons in the fire."

     These are just a few metaphors that make sound familiar. In reading Tom Johnson's Post "Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home" one will notice that  he uses a story about a librarian and himself bickering over the problems caused by students using pencils.  This story was clearly intended to illustrate the argument against technology use in the classroom and at home for student assignments.  The story addresses the looming insecurity over the use of technology in the classroom.  Who are the opponents of the use of technology?  Most likely people who don't truly understand what it is and how beneficial it is when integrated into the classroom in the proper manner.

     If any one reading this post missed the metaphor they probably focused on the discussion about test scores and overlooked the part about "pencils".  Testing and benchmarks are always on the minds of teachers. They are judged by their scores and so are the students.  This focus on testing does keep progress at the forefront of the agenda but often does so at the expense of meaningful learning.  Learning really cannot be put on a timetable.  Different people learn in different ways and different rates of speed.
      We encounter metaphors all the time.  Around here you can always hear someone say "It's hotter than the 4th of July!"  Usually anytime between April and October!  Also one you might hear around 4 in the afternoon when it is hotter than the 4th of July is "It's raining cats and dogs."  Got to love those afternoon thunderstorms on the Gulf Coast.

     Educators can help students understand and use metaphors in several ways.  Reading and discussing poetry is a great way to introduce the metaphor.  By using them to teach educators can exemplify metaphors. Also by doing writing assignments on metaphors.

     We use metaphors to communicate ideas, feelings, and concepts that might otherwise not be understood completely.
A really great website that explains metaphors is englishclub.com.  A

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April's Comments for Kids

child on desk resembling an accordion#7

This weeks comments for kids post was from Mr. McClung's World.  The post I read was titled "Irish Punk Rock" and was filed under "Band of The Week".  This is an excellent blog to begin with.  It is very nice to see class blogs like Mr. McClungs World including the arts.  I mean what a great way to teach the whole individual.  We humans all love music and the arts in some form and many teachers seem (or have to me) to not include this in their curriculum.  I know I love music and really did enjoy the sample of music from the band described in this post.  They were called the Dropkick Murphys.  Very full and upbeat music coupled with some powerful lyrics.  Melodious chaos at it's finest if you ask me.  Just another experience I have been allowed to have thanks to networking and blogging by teachers and students.  Rock on Mr. McClung's Class!

     I visited Mrs. Pike's class in Sydney Australia.  Or their class blog anyway!  The student I was assigned to was called Sherwin and I only found one post.  The post was a game (or widget)  I posted the following comment:

map with Sydney on it"Hello Sherwin. I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I like that you are able to post games into your blog. I have two sons and they love games. Do you like blogging? I am new to it myself and already I love it. I like how I can share information with people all around the world (like you :) . I hope you are able to get the most out of your blog. Feel free to visit mine anytime! I will be posting about your blog in a post titled C4K (comments for kids) on the last Sunday of April. I hope you will pop over and check it out."


       I visited Mrs. Yollis' Classroom blog and what I found there was inspiring.  It has a simple layout that is easy to understand and follow.  The links on the top of the page were very helpful and informative.  I found it contrasted Mr. McClung's blog (also a great one) in it's directness.  Probably great for young bloggers and parents that might be unfamiliar with the process.  The first link I clicked on was Meet Mrs. Yollis.    This is link led me to understand a bit more about her.  I learned that she is in her 24th year of teaching elementary school, has recently finished a Master's Degree inIntegrating Technology in the Classroom, and she loves to travel.  I also got an impression that she is a pretty cool lady.  

     The next link I clicked on was titled Meet The Bloggers.  On this page you get a photo of the class (a very good looking group of young people) and a paragraph about what they love to do.  I love this type of introduction.  For example: "My name is Pamela, and I love music and playing outside.")  You get an instant idea of what someone is really like.  This page seems like it is really all about the students.  It was the second link I clicked on and the impression I got was that Mrs. Yollis allows the blog to be about the students.  I liked that very much.  For them to feel an ownership allows them to take pride in their work.  

     After that I clicked the link titled Video: How to Comment.  This was a brief video tutorial about how to leave quality comments.  This tutorial was simple, clear, encourages safety, and talks about how to leave quality comments.  So far the links have been like guidelines for good internet communication.  

  The fourth link I explored took me to a page titled Learn HTML code.  I must admit to having visited this one before.  It is provided in some of our class instructions for EDM310 and I use it all of the time.  This is a set of instructions on how to put HTML code into your comments or any online communication for that matter.  I would have to say it illustrates the teaching style Mrs. Yollis uses through out her blog.  Simple, Articulate, and Thorough.  I like her more and more as I explore the blog.  

     Next I click on the link called Time Zones of Friends.  It is a page with the time around the world.  I instantly saw how this is relevant in online communication on a global level.  This could help when coordinating chats and skyping.  She seems to have all her bases covered.  

     Another page called Learn about California has a short presentation about the state the students live in.  This is nice to create a more personal interaction between the students and visitors to the blog.  It also might encourage a narrowing down of the questions a visitor from another place may be trying to ask.  

     The last link at the top of the blog is titled How to Shoot Great Digital Images. I liked this one.  It is a short video done by a student that illustrates errors and successes of digital photography and video.  This could be great for EDM310 students prior to doing some of our projects.  I liked that it appears to be a project that was created for educating others and teaching the student's in that fashion.  

     My final opinion of Mrs. Yollis can be summarized in a short list: 

 Intelligent, Patient, Articulate, Courteous, Great Educator, Talented, Kind.  

     And her class blog:  A+
cake in shape of California
Mrs. Yollis' class blog takes the cake!


     My final student blog to visit in April was Adia's Babble Blog.  Adia is a student in Mrs. Yollis' class.  I read the most recent post she made about her afternoon in girlscouts.  They learned about Japanese culture, got to look at some beautiful Japanese dolls, make sushi, and dress up in kimonos.  I think that her blog is very nice and her post was written very well.  She described her experiences in a very clear and descriptive manner.  Her blog is clearly a place for her to express herself and improve her skills in both writing and communicating as well.  She leaves questions for her readers to answer about their countries as a conclusion for her post.  I think leaving a question encourages good commenting.  Probably a technique learned from her teacher. 
     I commented on her blog post thanking her for her nice letter of thanks to EDM310 students for participating in Comments For Kids and telling her a little about my own time as a girl scout.  I really learned more about Japanese Culture from her blog post and found it very interesting.  

In all of the student and class blogs I have visited it becomes more clear to me the benefit of this form of writing and sharing of ideas.   These are great learning tools!

Blog Post 13

  This weeks blog post assignment took me to some websites that are part of Alabama's emerging initiatives in education. The first one I visited was the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX). The first tab I clicked on was Courses of Study.  I checked out the English Language Arts section for 2nd graders since my son is in the 2nd grade.  I saw that there were resources for teachers to use in creating lesson plans and a page that informs visitors to the site what the 2nd grade students should be learning in a 2nd grade English Language Arts forum.  I could immediately see how great this resource is.  It is a way for teachers to coordinate lessons and parents to see what is expected of their children (I don't know if the parents were anticipated but I checked out the curriculum for my 2nd grader)..   I explored a little further and found other tabs to click on like Web Links, Lesson Plans, Search, Personal Workspace, Professional Learning, Podcast Treasury, and Alexville.  Some of these tabs titles are self explanatory and the one called Alexville is a resource for educators to learn!  

     ALEX is  a web tool for teachers to expedite the acquisition of quality and relevant teaching materials.  I think it is awesome. 

     Another tool that I researched this week was the Alabama Connecting Classroom, Educators, and Students (ACESS).  Instead of going directly to the website I googled it and read a couple of articles to find out just what this tool was for.  The first I read was published 11-8-06 on the Coffeeville High School web site.  This article describes ACESS as an initiative that allows students at their school to participate in courses they do not have available at their own school via the internet and networking.  The article described ACESS as a "... 21st century approach to learning by implementing two parallel models of distance learning-Internet Videoconferencing and web-based course delivery..."

      Another Article that was helpful in elaborating on my understanding of ACESS was published by the Alabama Supercomputer Authority.  This article describes ACESS as   ".... a pilot project that is poised to become a major force in Alabama education." This article was a bit more technical but both describe it as a great tool for giving students access to material and courses they would not have had the opportunity to utilize with out the project.  

    When I visited the actual ACESS page I saw that it was similar to the online course log in page I use for my online college courses.  This is yet another tool to get more quality education into the lives of Alabama's students.  

     I can certainly see the usefulness of these two excellent web tools.  The applications are many.  Even homebound students can benefit.  Not to mention the idea came to me how this may prevent some students from dropping out.  Many older students with out parents at home that support them in their education (and this is sadly a common case) have already got too many excuses for dropping out of school.  Curriculum devoid of diversity and interesting applicable courses can certainly be a contributing factor.  

     These types of tools can help students stay engaged and make the most of their time. Both of these resources appear to have a direct relationship to student achievement in the sense that they make it easier for teachers to provide quality lessons that are directly connected to the curriculum that the state requires them to use.  And they also make more programs available to students that are engaging and life enhancing in nature.   

     I am excited to see there are programs such as this coming in to play in our state's education system.  Our teachers and students deserve the best of what there is to offer regarding teaching and learning.  I am glad to see there are programs like these that provide it for them.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Update on Project 16

caricature pointing to sign saying progress report

Our group includes: Michael Oakwood, Christopher Clevenger, Nicole Wilson, Rachael Hurtz, and Pamela Todd. We met on Tuesday, April 12th to plan for project 16.

After some brainstorming and talking, we have two possibilities for this project.
1. Create a Wiki that would help teach a subject or a group of subjects
2. Create a movie for future EDM 310 students that would inform them what to expect before they register for the class

We are meeting next week to finalize our plans so we can begin to create the project.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My use of technology as a student

This is just my first project I turned in using the online tools of google docs.  The assignment was for my biology class.  I really had fun researching and making it.  I am excited about selling my biology book.  It is heavy!  I also paid almost 300 dollars for it and never use it.  The internet is much more efficient.

Pamela Todd's Food Web Project

This is not an assigned blog post.  Just something I wanted to add.   

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Post 12

Below is my idea for a blog post assignment in EDM310 that would be great to have as an earlier assignment in the course:

Watch the video Randy Pausch on Time Management.  Write about why time management might be important in EDM310 and in your college life.  How could some of these ideas benefit you in your future career?  

Go to the Penn State University's page on Time Management Excercises.  Read this page and consider the ideas presented in regards to time management.  Which of these would be helpful to you? Why?

Here is my post as directed by my created assignment:

image of a spiraling clock

     In his video on time management, Randy Pausch on Time Management,  Pausch gives some excellent advice on how to prioritize and organize one's time.  He sites some specific guidelines for plan making and plan changing.  The advice he gives in this short lecture seems to be gained from his experience and his position as a professor.  

     In EDM310 time management is of great importance.  Many of the assignments require reading a blog post or viewing a video (or both).  Some require getting acquainted with new software and equipment.  Some activities require research and creativity.  And some are quick and easy.  The important role time management plays in having success is knowing when assignments are due and how long they may take.  It is very important to allow time for mistakes so one should never wait until the day an assignment is due to begin working on it.  

   In his video on time management Pausch gives solid advice that could be applied in EDM310 and life in general.  It is a good idea to have a plan and be ready to modify it in a pinch.  

     Also the website Penn State has available with worksheets on time management and specific guidelines is great for any person who has not managed to set up a study/work/social calender.  This is a great place to begin for any student looking to organize their time.

Time Management Excercises


Blog Post 11

Ms. Cassidy's Classroom

bear holding pencil with 1st Grade written on a page

     The video of the students in Ms. Cassidy's classroom is a view into the world of education that utilizes technology.  Not only are her students learning information to build on they are also learning accountability for their work, how to be safe on the internet, how to collaborate with others, how to use resources to gain knowledge, and so many things I could probably not list them all.  I perceived this from watching their video presentation that lasted under five minutes. 

          The children discuss briefly the use of Skype, Wiki, video production, internet safety, proper etiquette for interaction on the internet, and many other guidelines that are key for the productive use of technology.  It appears Ms. Cassity is teaching not only grammar, history, writing, math, social studies, but skills for polite and safe social interaction on the internet as well.  

     I think I would imitate Ms. Cassity's use of technology in most of the ways I saw on the video.  I intend to try to stay up to date with current tools available and try to find ways to incorporate the ones useful to my curriculum.  One of the main problems I would anticipate in the use of technology in the classroom would most likely be parent participation.  I think some parents are apprehensive concerning technology and the best way to combat that would probably be involving them in the initial education on how my class would use technology.  First hand discussion that would address the concerns parents may have would be one way to start.  Another way would be meeting with them one on one to discuss how, what, when we would use the computer and other tools.   Another problem may be access to computers and internet outside of the classroom.  This would have to be addressed by allowing adequate time in class to complete assignments on the computer.    

     Ms. Cassidy seems to use technology to encourage the students to learn, create, and teach one another.  It looks as if she has found a way to incorporate the children's nintendo DS's (my boys love these and seldom go anywhere without them) into the curriculum.   This is the sort of utilization of tools that can save money for the school.  


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Comments for Teachers # 3

black dragon white background

     The teacher I am privileged to be reading currently in my Comments for Teachers assignment is Dragonsinger.  The post I read is titled "iPad in the Classroom".  

     In this post Dragonsinger is discussing a new discovery using the iPad.  She discovered a way to mirror her laptop on her iPad and effectively use it as a interactive board. This means that the laptop user and a student could work math problems together or that an instructor could possibly interact with students via iPad.  It is really amazing how many possibilities there are when technology is used in interactive and collaborative ways. I left a comment telling dragonsinger that her post was informative and that I would be following her blog for future tips on new ways to use technology for teaching.

      The second post I viewed on Dragonsinger's blog was titled "Life in Room 12".  This post is composed of three slideshows that tell the story of the goings on in room 12.  The first video is about a stuffed visitor that kept company with the students in Dragonsinger's room called Rohi who is visiting classrooms around NewZealand.  The students all had photos with Rohi and did an assignment on their time with the little birdie.  It is really cute.  The second video shows the students using different technology in the classroom and the third is a view of life in room 12.  I got the impression that Dragonsinger has happy and engaged students.  They look very at home in the classroom.   

     I also poked around a bit more on dragonsinger's blog.  What I read tells me that this is a kind, smart, and dedicated teacher.  

Special Assignment: Mr. McClung's World

circle with talk of the town written in side in blue

      This special assignment is on Mr. McClung's class blog. Mr. McClung is an eighth grade teacher at Woodland Jr. High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  He teaches social studies, Arkansas history, computer applications, and cross country there.  He is still going to college to earn his masters degree.  I can see that he is a dedicated teacher by reading and exploring his blog.  He seems to have a positive attitude and an energetic personality that is reflected in his blog.  I would say he possesses the traits of a great educator combined with energy one would need to keep up with Jr. High students.

     I read his class rules which are posted on his blog as well.  His number one rule is "Follow directions quickly." Followed later by rule number four "Make smart choices."  And my favorite so far his final rule, number five, "Keep your dear teacher happy."  I chose these three out of his five (there are also some other procedures and expectations posted) because they spoke to me about what type of interaction Mr. McClung must have with his students and what he expects of them.  I like rule number one because it requires students be listening and thinking.  It is a rule that covers many things with out being overstated.  And number three is great because by expecting students to make smart choices he is saying to them that they are certainly capable of that and he expects them to do so.  And number five shows the type of relationship he must want with his class.  "Keep your dear teacher happy" tells me he wants to have a personal relationship with his class while maintaining their respect.  I like that very much.

    In the syllabus on "Mr. McClung's World" the first item under the heading "Everyone Needs" is a day planner.  This says to me that he expects each individual to manage their time wisely.  I have found as a parent and a student that this is key.  Time management is crucial for anyone who wants to succeed.  Work hard and play hard is my motto.  Also in the syllabus under the section titles "homework" the penalties for late work are listed.  Each day late results in a dropped letter grade.  This penalty relates well to time management.  Planning for assignments that may take time to complete is necessary to do quality contemplative work.

     Mr. McClung 's final paragraph on his syllabus under the heading "Classroom Technology" concerns his class blog.  Blogging is new to me since I began EDM310 and I must say I am more than pleased to see how well it fits into an educational plan like Mr. McClung's.  It is like an organism that grows and improves that everyone can contribute the best of themselves to.  What an achievement.  Not to mention how it can be utilized to keep parents informed about the goings on in the classroom.  Mr. McClung has made excellent use of the internet as a resource for teaching and connecting.

Useful Links 

   Also found on Mr. McClung's class blog are some useful links for students to use.  I checked several of them out and added many of them to my bookmarks also.

    My top favorite due to my status as a student was the one titled "Convert PDF to Word".  This is a website that does just what the title of the link says.  It is valuable to me because of the countless times I have tried to open something or complete an assignment from a location away from home and was unable to open a document.  What a frustration!  I am definitely going to make use of this one.

     Another one I looked at was called "Biology Corner".  This is of particular interest to me in light of all the money I personally have had to spend on science books and also because my oldest son goes to Clark-Shaw School of Math and Science.  We are big nerds at our house!

     I bookmarked most of his useful links with my delicious account for future use with students.

Internet Safety

     In the section on internet safety I read Mr. McClung's rules and advisement for his students regarding keeping their identity safe.  I am glad he is addressing this issue.  I know many parents that I have spoken to have apprehensions regarding their children's use of the internet.  And they certainly do need to be protected in such a public forum.  I think his safety precautions are adequate.  I am most unaware of the creative ways people may find to cause problems on the internet.  I know that our children will be using the internet their entire lives and the earlier they learn to navigate it safely the better.  Their judgement needs to be developed in this aspect as well.

Band of the Week

      The category I was assigned to post a comment on was "Band of The Week".  Really?  Wow.  What a cool assignment.  I love that this is a category at all.  It is well organized and highlights a new band each week.  I am interested in how the bands are selected.  I do know that this is a great way to tap into a Jr. High student's interest.  Music is a language that speaks to all generations.

   One of the posts titled "Say it aint so..." reviews a band called Weezer.  This is one of my favorite groups.  I  think the post does a short background on the band followed by a few titles of songs and albums the group is best known for.  Each post has a song embedded in it and this one has the song "Say it aint so.." (hence the tiltle of the post).  I love this song and this group and feel that the post is very well composed and to the point.

   After exploring Mr. McClung's blog I am more knowledgeable about the capabilities I have regarding blog use in the classroom and on a personal level.   I love it.  I have already created a blog for my family chronicling our experiences we would like to share with family and friends near and far.  We plan to use this blog to reconnect and forge closer ties with our loved ones.
     I feel Mr. McClung's world is a blog that is well organized and easy to explore.  It is great that parents can go and see what is going on.  Even better that students have access around the clock.  This can help in the event a student is sick or has to miss school for any reason.  I definitely plan to use a blog for my class when I get one!

     This blog is somewhat different from others I have visited.  It seems that Mr. McClung has a attitude that encourages him to strive for a new level of excellence.  In viewing his blog and all it's components I feel it reveals him to be organized, creative, driven, and an altogether dynamic educator who is utilizing the tools available with technology to their best potential.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skype Interview Project 12

This is an interview done by Pamela Todd.  Traci Hale on Gardening for the Alabama Gulf Coast.  
Traci Hale is a Native of the Alabama Gulf Coast and an avid gardener.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blog Post 10

     For this blog post assignment I read a post by Morgan Bayda. She is an education major from Canada that graduated in 2010 The post was titled An Open Letter to Educators.  In Bayda's post she describes how her university classes were long and tedious.  Usually my experience in my university courses were very similar.  I work and am raising a family so I have taken a few courses in the University of South Alabama Online in combination with on campus courses. This helps me accommodate my schedule.  

     I have seen how some professors of online classes have used very little internet resources in their classes.  In courses like these there was a book to purchase and each week consisted of outlining a chapter carefully and then taking a quiz on a university web page.  I found this type of internet course dull and not very engaging at all. 

      I have taken other online courses that would tie chapters to internet links and use group discussions.  These are the good ones.  Seeing the material in different formats and then discussing it and commenting on other students posts to a group site really made the subject matter seem less abstract than pages in a book.  I find the comments from other students to cause me to see the topic from a new dimension and get me thinking.  

     And now in my EDM310 class I am learning through so many avenues of the internet that it is sad for me to finish my work and move on to my other classes.  I am always excited to click on the links and see what other educators and students have to share.  I feel so blessed to have forged these connections.  I KNOW that I will use them through my college education and into my life as an educator.  

     In the lecture classes on campus it is more often than not just as Bayda describes in her post.  A large number of students struggling to decipher the information presented and jot down notes to be reviewed later.  I can't count the times I struggled to determine what the test would be on in these classes.  I knew that learning was second seat to getting an A.  I remember several details but they were really not cemented in like they are when I learn in a discussion type environment that encourages thinking and responding.  I want to be that type of instructor.  The type that actually makes a connection to students.  I want to meet them in a place where thinking is encouraged.  

     Bayda goes on to tell how her PLN helped her find connections to sites that allowed her to pursue some of her volunteering interests.  I currently use facebook very much for my PLN because there are several educators in my friends list.  I want to incorporate twitter more into my day to day PLN as more time is afforded to me to read and discover just how I can use the resources there (and hopefully contribute my own as well).  

     Embedded in her post is a youtube video of Dan Brown's.  He gives a brief history of education and information availability.  He makes some interesting points even if I don't agree with his dropping out of school to pursue an education outside the "Institution".  I think that giving up on graduating is a bad solution to a big problem. While I hope that education will continue to evolve for the better I still believe that students should be encouraged to stay in school and pursue independent learning as well.
framework for 21st century learning

Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home

     I took a look at the post "Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home" by John T. Spencer.  Mr. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, Arizona.  The post I read was a metaphor.  It was a discussion between a statistic obsessed librarian, Gertrude, and a teacher named Tom.  The story starts with Gertrude dressing Tom down for allowing students to take their pencils and paper home.  She sites concerns about lowered test scores for students who take their pencils home.  She voices concerns about them playing with the pencils instead of working on studies.  She is concerned that the pencils will be more of a distraction than a learning tool.  

     Tom doesn't bat an eye at Gertrude's concerns.  He agrees with her that the students may play games with their pencils and draw pictures.  He informs her about how the playing of games with pencils won't mean the students wont also spend time writing with them and doing their "work".  Tom says he has seen the students learning and leadership accelerate with the access to the pencils and hopes the projects he assigns will encourage them to use the pencils at home.  

    What is Tom saying?  Is he saying the students shouldn't do their work?  I think he is trying to redefine "work" here  for the students and Gertrude.  Tom hopes to make the "work" interesting and more like research, learning, and application.  

     I like the use of the metaphor here.  I think it shows that Mr. Spencer may just have a knack for selling skeptics on the use of "pencils" (technology) in the classroom.  

Here is the post I left for Mr. Spencer:

" It looks as if I am in good company here. I like the use of a metaphor to illustrate your point. This is a method that can seem less offensive to "opponents" and open them up to see your point."

March 2011 C4K Summary Post

The first student blog I visited in March was TomJoe's.  He is a student in Mr. Harris's class at Pt England School in Auckland, NZ.  His post was about a trip he took to Lake Taupo.  He seemed very excited about his trip.  I love reading what's on the mind of students and asking them questions about their posts.  It is very exciting when I get an answer.  I asked TomJoe to tell me more about what it was like at Taupo.  I hope I get a response.
teacher reading to class

My second visit to student blogs took me to Room 14 Explorers.  They are a year 5/6 class in Tauranga, New Zealand.  The post I read was called:

 How Is Culture Reflected Through The Arts?

In this blog post there is a short video displaying the art work of the students.  I was really impressed.  The art is a result of what the students have learned about ancient Greek culture. I think that the work shows they have a good understanding of the subject matter.  Ancient Greece produced some amazing art.  I didn't learn about it until college and was pleased by their inspired artwork.  I left a comment praising the work for the kids.  Needless to say my comment was accompanied by many similar ones.  Nice job Room 14 Explorers! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blog Post 9

"What I've Learned This Year" by Mr. McClung.

     In this post on Mr. McClung's blog he gives a great insight into how his experiences as a first year teacher helped to form his philosophies on being an effective educator. 

     The first thing Mr. McClung tells about is "How to read the crowd."  He says that shifting the focus off one's self and onto the audience is key.  Being willing to read the crowd and modify speech and examples to suit the situation at hand rather than the one envisioned by the speaker is key, in my view, to really reaching the audience.  

     The second point McClung makes is to "be flexible."  I have to agree with him on this one.  I believe it relates directly to his first point about reading the crowd.  Be willing to change directions with the flow of questions.  It may lead away from the lesson planned but as long as it stays on topic the conversations between instructor and student make more impact than speaking at the student.  To put it more concisely, speak to them, not at them.  Any one who has been spoken at knows that it is only a matter of time before interest wanes.  

     Another great point Mr. McClung makes it to communicate.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  How people perceive what is said and what is intended by the speaker are not always one in the same.  This means, again, speak to and not at people.  This is not limited to students but other teachers and administrators as well.  I know from experience that a work environment is like a family.  The family that communicates well lives in a peaceful productive home.  

     Mr. McClung also says it is crucial to "be reasonable."  What he means by this is goals set that are not always achieved can be modified.  And if not modified then attempted again.  Teaching students to try and try again with a positive attitude cannot be achieved with scolding.  Encouragement and positive reinforcement are the key to responsive students. 

     He also says: "Don't be afraid of technology."  The students in class rooms are almost all frequent and fluent users of technology.  Denying them the use of tech in schools is like refusing to tap into a wealth of educational resources.  If it is intimidating then go ahead and make some mistakes.  After all, isn't trial and error a great teacher?

     Mr. McClung's final word of advice is to "listen to students."  He says that students know when they matter because they know when they are heard.  Feeling that they matter to their teacher can encourage them in their endeavors in the class room.  

     Mr. McClung is doing something that all teachers need to remember to do.  He is learning.  He is learning to be a better teacher.  He is open to new ideas and in tune with his students in order to fulfill the needs they have of their teacher.  Teacher, friend, mentor, these are a few of the things this post shows Mr. McClung to be.  What a blessing to his students today and tomorrow.  

teacher and student at board

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog Post 8

The blog assignments this week seem to be urging us to look at individuals and see the potential they have.  As an educator seeing potential is important because we have to set goals in such a way to allow students to achieve their best. I have included links in all of the titles just in case readers may wish to see the videos for themselves.  My favorite ones were the last two RSA Animate productions.  They will certainly turn how you may perceive motivations of others and how best to motivate them.

Richard E. Miller's This is How We Dream

earth rising with moon behind view from another planet

In this two part video presentation Richard E. Miller describes how we used to research, compose, and publish literature (ideas).  He then talks about how the compositions then went to libraries waiting on shelves to be accessed by one person at a time until they became outdated.  That is the world I was born into in 1979.  While the use of the computer for research was on the horizon, I graduated high school before the dawn of idea sharing on the web shone on my education.

Miller discusses changes that occur in regards to how we write, where we work, where we publish, and finally where our publications (ideas) end up.  He says that incremental changes have brought us to using word processing then video, audio, and visual aids.  Miller also goes on in part two to say what he believes is the future of composition.  With Emphasis on Ideas being shared, research being collaborative,and sources being global.

This is a LEAP from where we were in 1979.  Learning has snowballed in the best kind of way.  Having a variety of sources from different people and universities around the globe has yielded more efficient use of time and better conclusions drawn.  Always up to date.  Always available to millions at one time, anytime,and from just about any location.  The sky is not the limit.  There is no limit.  Learning and teaching can go hand in hand an never end.  They can just go on, happily ever after.

The Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies

I think that both of these videos illustrate different approaches we can take when we are in college and life in general.  Most tasks do seem impossible when we do not have the proper tools to do them with.  The difference in those who succeed and those who do not is found in a person's attitude.  If we begin a task with a closed mind and an attitude of defeat then naturally we would feel frustrated. 

In EDM310 for Dummies I think the students making the video were probably speaking from personal experience.  I know when I first began to explore the several instruction manuals for the different types of assignments that are given I was overwhelmed and wondered if I could do it!  I now feel much more confident in my problem solving capabilities when it comes to technical operations and also have learned that I am capable! 

Learn to Change, Change To Learn

This is an excellent video.  It captures the essence of the revolution in learning, teaching, and living in the 21st century.  Right now schools are fatally behind in access to technology.  But if what I am learning in EDM310 is any indication of where education is headed then change is destined to occur.  In Learn to Change, Change To Learn there is a description of what students are capable of with access to global information.  To achieve this teachers need to be connected as well.  I see the use of social networking and instant information as a great leap in what students can achieve in terms of creation, collaboration, and independent learning as well.  Allowing a new form of learning that can tap into students unique talents and creativity is going to yield amazing individuals that do amazing things.  

RSA Animate - The Secret Powers of Time

In this video the issue is time.  Not just time but how one perceives it.  Something called time perspective is discussed and how it impacts  behavior.  The speaker in the video is drawing connections between time spent and time perception and how it effects everything a person  does, thinks, and even feels.  The culture humans live in now is primarily one of instants.  One of the most disturbing things mentioned in the video is the statistic that a student drops out of school every nine seconds.  The majority of these students are male.  Lack of engaging learning is hinted at as the cause of this by siting the average amount of time males spend engaged in video games and how the type of stimulation they are most responsive to is only available outside of school.  Creating and becoming involved in what is going on in the learning process through the use of technology may decrease the number of disinterested students.  

I thought this video was very illuminating in regards to human nature as it is associated with time perception. 

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

In this video the speaker describes "motivation schemes".  He analyzes performance based on reward.  People's behavior according to the experiment shows that people will try less to achieve a large hard earned reward than they will a smaller easier to achieve reward.  

To achieve an individual that is engaged in the work place the speaker says the individual needs to be allowed to be more independent and self directed.  And to achieve an individual with a desire to improve in the workplace that person would need to be allowed to create something that is done for the purpose of creating not economic reward.  Why?  It is what the video calls "a purpose motive" instead of a "profit motive".  

The idea I took away from this video is that people genuinely want to do something great for other people.  They want the freedom to do it the way that they feel is best.  And they desire to make a contribution.  People are very complicated beings that not only desire gain for gain's sake but deeply desire to add their stamp on the world around them in a profound and positive way.

boy on shore