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.
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."
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I am still learning to orchestrate my web resources. I hope to continue to streamline my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have created a symbaloo account and posted links to all of the resources I use the most. I have created a twitter account and must admit while I continue to read posts by educators from all over the world I am still not a frequent contributor in tweets. I plan to keep reading and learning and some time soon jump into the information stream more often.
I had a PLN before I even realized it. I have several teachers on my face book account. I have asked them all questions at one time and had the ability to view all of their answers. I have used this to write two papers regarding education in my college classes. That has been an awesome resource.
My youtube account has given me the ability to share videos that I am excited about using to learn and teach. I am still a novice at most of these things. But youtube has proven to be an invaluable resource to me in learning to use the tools on the internet. Just as quickly as you can type in a procedure you will find videos popping up that explain the steps of the most intimidating technical procedures.
Of course I have also discovered the usefulness of blogging for a purpose. In my assignments I have traveled from blog to blog reading posts by both educators and students. This to me is an incredible platform to share ideas and get advice from others. I never before realized these resources in such totality as I have in the past months. I am encouraged to continue to learn about more resources that will give me access to the wealth of ideas that are out there. Ideas about teaching and learning and life lessons.
And last but not least the amazing google. By creating a google account I have in one place my email, documents, photos, and social network. I never have to worry about my computer crashing and leaving me crying over lost papers written or lost photographs.
I am delighted at the discovery of the valuable tools that are there for free on the internet.
Above is a link to a video on youtube called Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving your Childhood Dreams. I watched this video as a class assignment for EDM310 and was pleasantly surprised to find it moving, informative, and inspiring. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He gave this lecture with the knowledge that he only had months to live.
The lecture was not created simply because he had found out he was terminally ill with cancer. It was a lecture that was given by others before him but he was the first to actually be giving it under his unique circumstances. Initially Pausch adresses what he calls "the elephant in the room" and talks about his condition. He did this because he wanted to focus on the topic of the lecture and not his illness. Just to get it out of the way it seemed.
When he did move on he discussed the importance of achieving your childhood dreams. While listening to him speak knowing he wants to not focus on the fact that he has only months to live it is easy to realize how qualified he is to know what is really important about living. Randy Pausch had a list of dreams he wanted to achieve when he was a child. His list was: being in zero gravity, being in the NFL, publishing an article in the encyclopedia, being Captain Kirk, winning a stuffed animal as a prize, and being an Imagineer with Disney.
The remarkable thing about Randy Pausch is that he achieved most of these dreams before he found out he had any illness at all. He managed to overcome challenges at every turn. He says that brick walls were made to be overcome. His message is one of encouragement. A true American spirit of achievement seems to have really pulsed within Randy Pausch. He was always taking it to the next level. He didn't give up on his dreams and had a life full of achievements to show for it. He shares excellent advice and insight on how to tackle the problems life seems to throw at you.
With the exception of being in the NFL Randy Pausch achieved all of his childhood dreams. But from watching his lecture it seems pretty apparent that his greatest achievement is his family. He ends his lecture with a dedication to his children. Life lessons shared by Randy Pausch are a treasure. Click on the link above to watch.
Last week I visited the blog, At The Teachers Desk (http://attheteachersdesk.blogspot.com/). I read the most recent post by William Chamberlain. The title of the post was Posting and Commenting are Only the Beginning. In this blog post Chamberlain is telling of an upcoming presentation he has to give about his comments4kids blog and hashtag. He is voicing his frustration because he feels, while the comments4kids blog and hashtag are encouraging comments to be made on the student's blogs, that there is more growth needed in the way of meaningful interaction. I went a little further and read some of the comments that were left there for him by visitors to his blog post. Many of the comments were of encouragement. Some were letting him know how they were having success with their students. Some were encouraging him to move forward with the change that inevitably fuels any programs successful growth. It appeared to me that he has a great online community of educators collaborating with him. I think that alone is excellent.
I got the impression reading the post that William Chamberlain is looking to improve student's experiences with blogging and make them more fruitful on an intellectual level. I think that his drive to grow for the sake of the students is just what they need. I hope that thinkers like Mr. Chamberlain continue to have influence over the ideas that are applied in education.
This week I visited Mr. Chamberlain's blog again. His most recent post was an answer to some questions about his class blog. The first question asked how he felt his blog improves classroom instruction. Mr. Chamberlain responded saying that his class blog promotes consistency in his lessons and makes them available at home as well. He also sited the usefulness of internet tools such as definitions, spell checking, and fact checking for the students when they are composing their posts. The language barrier if present can be overcome with his blog as well. That could be very useful for students whose parents may speak another language. And finally Mr. Chamberlain mentioned what I like most about students using the internet, independent learning. In this world where humans need to be on the cutting edge in order to rise to success the drive to keep one's self informed is a necessity.
The second question he addresses is one that asks if he has seen increase in participation and interest with the implementation of a class blog. He answers that while working on the blog students are allowed to work at their own pace and that is beneficial for them. He says another plus is not having to repeat instructions. But in answering if interest is increased Mr. Chamberlain says that simply using the computer doesn't increase interest. He says that formatting a well designed lesson plan is still primarily responsible for interest level. I found his answer to this one to be very objective and honest.
The final question asks if there are any difficulties in using the class blog. He says the student's access at home and attitude in general (attitude is everything if you ask me!) can be an obstacle. Also when the internet or computer is slow or not working properly it is difficult. He says the solution to this problem is to always have a back up plan on standby so the lesson may go on.
I am thinking about some of the teacher posts I have read all the time now. I begin to imagine what type of classroom I will have when I begin teaching. I expect it to be very different from the job I have now. I am changing careers so I have a different perspective than many college students entering their careers for the first time. I have mixed emotions. I know that I will be happy to be doing a job that touches lives in a profound way (I pray). And I also expect that some challenges will await me. I am looking forward to staying in touch with teachers around the world for encouragement. I am filled with hope at the whole concept of idea sharing on the internet. I could go on and on so I'll close.
I appreciate the struggles and successes of these teachers. They are informative and inspiring. To Mr. Chamberlain I thank you for making your thoughts available to me and others. We may just become better educators as a result.