Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Post #16

Part 1: Blog Reflection
Although I have learned a great deal from EDM 310 concerning teaching and technology, I am still quite proud and happy when I look back at my 1st blog post. My idea for a dream school is still much the same and I still believe that could be an amazing institution.

 However, I have indeed learned about some amazing technology and method by which I could use this technology from my time in EDM 310. From amazing utilities like Google Drive to useful creative tools like iBooks, I've learned how to utilize many useful forms of technology in my future classroom. I do not believe I would change my dream school, but after EDM 310 I would definitely change my classrooms and how I would teach in them. Google Drive would most certainly be used to manage documents and aid students in making presentations. I would also like to implement the use of iBooks in creative projects because I had a beneficial experience with the program during the creation of my group's final project.

Another great asset I gained from my time in EDM 310 is the many amazing sources of very talented and intelligent educators. I could see myself introducing these same brilliant minds to my students in my future classroom. The various blogs and videos I was exposed to really expanded and improved the way I thought about education and I really wish I could have been introduced to such material in high school. I think using these sources to aid my students in critical and creative thinking could be a major boon to their development.

Finally and probably most importantly I have learned that technology and education go hand in hand and will be inseparable in the future, therefore education will always be changing and growing. It is vital that I always reflection on my methods and thoughts and adapt to the ever-changing world as technology and education evolve! This is the key factor in ensuring that my classroom never becomes part of the problem of static, uninteresting, burp-back education.

Part 2: Video Reflection

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Post #15

What Assistive Technologies Are Available To Us As Teachers?
Authored by: Secoria Burks, Jo Davis, and Lindsay Stewart
This blog post encourages us to find assistive technologies that are available for our use as teachers.  There are many tools which can be utilized in the classroom that can assist us in providing enhanced curriculum to our students with disabilities.  These tools will enhance participation and encourage interaction with our students’ peers and environment.
Authored by: Jo Davis

students in garden
When you hear “assistive technologies” I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind isn’t gardening. I sure didn’t think so! But after reading an article on the Cooke Center’s website ( in which they used a gardening project as a teaching method for kids with learning disabilities I became very interested in it.

Food is very near and dear to my heart and I also like hands on projects so this drew my attention immediately. Although gardening isn’t “high-tech” it is still a high beneficial method of education that can be used to teach about health and science. Upon further research on the subject I found a page on farmtoschool ( that stated “Children with learning  disabilities, who  participated in gardening  activities, had enhanced nonverbal communication  skills, developed  awareness of the  advantages of order,
learned how to participate  in a cooperative effort,  and formed relationships with adults.” I know this is a technology class but I really see this implementation of a class gardening project is really thinking out of the box and has proved to be very assistive! This project could also be greatly benefited by the supplementation of technology. Kids could research gardening techniques and important tips on their class iPads and even look up visuals of garden bugs and pests for quick recognition. I think it would also work out greatly if students could document their progress with the garden on a class blog. It is an extensive project that lends to documentation and plenty of visuals. This kind of project that is constant and requires diligence and patience could really prove to be a great assistive education method for special needs learners.

Again I know gardening itself isn’t a technology but I think it is a great project that calls on the use of many various technologies and really thinks outside of the box to assist the teaching/learning process.

Authored by Secoria Burks

This site consist of blogs for and by people with ADD and ADHD, it is for adults and students in both professional and personal aspects of life. After scrolling through the tabs at the top of the page I found  a page devoted to teachers. On this tab I found the blog “Teacher I Need Your Help”, it addressed some issues and concerns of students with ADD and ADHD. One thing that I noticed a lot of was the need for repeated instruction and to be reminded of the classroom structure. To me this equates to the need for assistance with organization and memory.
iCommunicator app

I found a site with tools for students and teachers with disabilities or challenges of any kind. In the category for organization I found an app for apple called iCommunicate, it offers visual schedules, choice boards, text to speech,and audio recordings. In a classroom setting this could be used to keep students focused on the assignments they have do and keep them engaged. The only downside would be that it requires an iTunes account and there would be no way for students to interact with it on their own. However a teacher could make an account for each class and students could participate in class assignments this would keep students focused. It could be daily reminder of weekly events and double as a visual calendar.

Authored by: Lindsay Stewart
panther writer on an iPadThis blog is a publication from the Virginia Commonwealth University.  There are many links on the left side-bar that offer specific posts regarding Assistive Technologies (AT) in different areas.  There are links for AT for Math, AT for Organizing, AT for Reading, AT for Writing, etc… I have chosen to focus on AT for Writing as I will be teaching Secondary English.
One post in the blog highlights “Panther Technology.”  Panther Technology creates Apps for use by students with disabilities.  There are apps for math, reading, and other subjects; the app I found would be most useful in my future classroom is the “Panther Writer” (  This app has made it possible to have different layouts to the basic keyboard we are all so used to seeing/using.  The Panther Writer has four keyboards; the basic plus, Tom’s keyboard, the vertical fall keyboard, and the high contrast keyboards.  Each keyboard is enhanced by one-touch edit functions, accessible file management, and the ability to email and post to Facebook.  Tom’s keyboard has a two layer keyboard; the first layer consists of keys that make up 95% of all keystrokes, and the second layer contains the infrequently used letters.  This keyboard has the word prediction as well, making it an efficient alternative to the basic keyboard.  The vertical fall keyboard features vertically stacked letters and function keys which can be chosen by running your finger along the base of the iPad and letting the letters come to you.  This keyboard is great for individuals with very limited motor control. The high contrast keyboards assist individuals with diverse motor and cognitive needs with mild visual impairment.  Each keyboard offered by Panther Technologies can be used in the high contrast mode.
Although there numerous AT available to teachers to use in their classroom, I really love the Panther Writer as it can be used in combination with other applications.  Its use on the iPad allows for more efficient use of technology, better note taking, and an opportunity for students with disabilities to interact more easily with their environment.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blog Post #14

infographic on study abroadWhat Was Left Out?

For this blog post assignment we students of EDM 310 were asked to create on of these assignments that we are so familiar with ourselves! We were also asked to center it around our specialty, on this note I was excited to come up with anything to do with history! I love history and something came to my mind almost instantly. History greatly benefits from being able to actually go to the place where it happened. This is an experience like no other, to set foot on the grounds where these events and people you learn and study actually happened and lived. So my assignment that I would add to EDM 310 would be this: "Imagine if you could take your students anywhere in the whole world for a study abroad trip. Where would you go? What could be learned here? How would you teach on this trip? And lastly but certainly not lease how would you use technology to document and augment your study abroad?" Students would have to research possibilities online and then write up in a blog post the answers to all the questions proposed. Also to showcase these dream study abroad locations a visual portion of some sort would be required, be it a video, prezi, google presentation, or simply various helpful pictures. My favorite blog post in class was the dream school post and I thought of this idea way back then while doing that and I would actually enjoy doing this project!

Project #2- PLN

Ah the PLN, personal learning network, was a phrase that I had no thoughts on when I first encountered it on the first day of EDM 310. I did not know what exactly it was and I saw that it included the use of Twitter so I automatically dreaded it..whatever it was. But as the course went on I realized that it wasn't a project but a very helpful asset. Your personal learning network is just that, a network just for you that aids in your learning. I have always liked teachers (good teachers) and I enjoyed talking with them and with a few becoming close friends with them even after I leave their class. That is partially the reason I decided to become a teacher. I love the mentor-student dynamic. With this mentality in mind, I soon understood the PLN was a great thing! As I stated before the inclusion of twitter in the description of the PLN made me dread and that is because I am not fond of twitter. In my personal life I have found it to be an annoying destination full of mindless babel and...*shiver* hashtags. However, the use of twitter in EDM310 has shown me it can be incredibly useful for finding educators with great ideas. My PLN has also been expanded through C4T assignments and Post Assignments that have lead to my discovery of educators with new and exciting ideas. I love finding new teachers with cutting edge ideas that have the potential to change the state of the world of educations. Another assignment that required a video interview lead me to an opportunity to work with one of my professors. I was so glad that he was willing to go out of his way and take time to help me. As EDM310 has forced us to find various educators online and read their work, it has made me realize how great it is to have a vast library of intellectuals with great ideas available to you! I have definitely explanded my PLN while in EDM 310 tremendously and also finally learned how to efficiently utilize it. The connections and sources I have made and found in EDM have made my PLN a source of inspiration and information I will certainly be using for some time to come.

C4T #4

"The Real World"
Authored By: Josh Stumpenhorst

Josh StumpenhorstFor our last C4T I was assigned Josh Stumpenhorst's blog, Stump The Teacher. The first blog post I read on Stump The Teacher addressed "The Real World" that is always being referred to in school. Josh Stumpenhorst states that if you ask educators at any level they would all say that they are preparing students for this "real world" and he admits he himself is guilty of this. He goes on to talk about how this term is irrelevant for "the real world" is much much different for everyone. For instance he speaks on how his students have shared stories of heartbreak with him that have exceeded anything he has dealt with himself. As I was reading Stumpenhorst's post I was so glad that someone was addressing this problem. So much of school is focused solely on the endgame whatever that may be. This mentality wastes the experience of education. We certainly need more educators like Josh Stumpenhorst that understand school is not about the endgame, the "real world", but is an active process that would benefit greatly by having the aid of thoughtful educators.

I Used to Think...
Authored By: Josh Stumpenhorst

a chimp pondering
The second post I read on Stump The Teacher was titled "I Used to Think..." and that's exactly what it was.
In this post Stumpenhorst presents a list of things all beginning with "I used to think..." that all showed various ideas he used to believe in and how they have changed. This is a very interesting post that provokes major thought and also really shows the importance of self reflection. Here are a few examples of his statements:

-I used to think bad teachers needed to be fired. Now I realize bad teaching largely exists because of a lack of exposure to good teaching.
-I used to think the more work I piled on a kid the more they would learn. Now I realize the more valuable the work I ask kids to do the more they will learn.
-I used to think kids were motivated by grades and that could increase engagement. Now I realize grades are often less a reflection of academic abilities but rather an indication of prowess at playing the game of school.
-I used to think I was a good teacher. Now I realize that good is not good enough and I must to keep working to be better. 

I think all of these reflections are great and so much can be learned from them. This post is a great idea and I think it could serve as a helpful self reflection practice that we could all benefit from. 

Project #12- Part B

Sunday, November 17, 2013

C4K for November

On the 1st of November I viewed the blog entry of Abbi of Ms. Horst's grade 7 language arts class of Oakville, Ontario, Canada. In this post Abbi wrote on the topic of the book Out Of My Mind. She discusses the injustice of treating people differently or judging them by their appearance or disability. Abbi carried out her writing with satisfactory grammar and spelling and wrote clearly. She organized her thoughts very well and provided many examples from the text to support her ideas. Abbi really seemed to have learned some great values from the book and expressed a desire for others to learn these values too.


On November the 10th I was assigned Huelo-ata's blog of Mrs. Nau and Mr. Bark's grade 7 class of
Auckland, New Zealand. Huelo-ata had a blog entry that was a math word problem. She accurately solved her math word problem with some quick division and the answer ended up being 42. She added a picture of the number 42 and this is what initial caught my eye as 42 is a special number to me and anyone else who has read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Back on topic, Huelo-ata did a great job solving the problem and composing her blog post.

Dr. Strange and Mrs. Yollis
On the 17th of November I had the pleasure of viewing the blog thread of Mrs. Yollis' 3rd grade class of Los Angeles. In this class blog thread the topic was November is family blogging month! (<-- check it out!) In this thread all the students posted various facts and stories they had and their family members had the opportunity to not only see these posts but also participate in the discussions! I think this is a fantastic and very creative idea that encourages family to be involved with the kids school blogs. I think Mrs. Yollis is brilliant when it comes to employing new and creative methods to teaching her kids through technology.

Blog Post #13

Last week, we explored three talks presented by speaker, Ken Robinson.  This week we had the opportunity to view additional thought-provoking presentations that Ken Robinson included on his “Top Ten List.”  Ken’s recommendations are stimulating talks given by inspirational and world-changing educators and innovators.  We dive into three of these videos in greater detail below.

Authored by: Jo Davis

Mae Jemison in space
Mae Jemison: astronaut, doctor, art collector, and dancer uses this TED talk to stress the importance of teaching the arts and sciences in conjunction. With a focus on the future, Jemison states that science education needs remodeling. Right away Mae Jemison introduces an idea that we could all learn from. She explains that the driving force behind research and science is curiosity, and curiosity is born of creativity. Creativity is of course sparked by and nourished by the arts; therefore, science and the arts are intertwined. This school of thought that keeps the arts and sciences separate is damaging to progress. She gives the example of the shuttle used to fly her to space and the Buntu statue she brought up with her were both products of human ingenuity and creativity. This is truly an invaluable way of perceiving the world and the things we learn. She even provides the following quote from Albert Einstein to support her view, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” The mysteries of the world we live in invoke thought that leads to evolution in both art and science, so naturally it makes sense for both subjects to be taught in a way that expresses their mutual relationship. Jemison goes on to further explain how arts and sciences are not so different but the main point she  stresses is how one is not more important than the other. Art and science alike are vital in composing and bettering the outcome that is the condition of human life. This disparity between the education of science and art in schools is detrimental to the learning habits of future generations. If only one thing was to be taken away from Mae Jemison’s TED talk it is the fact that the arts and sciences are both key to progress and must be regarded and taught as equals.

Authored by: Lindsay Stewart
Alison Gopnik during her TED talk
Alison Gopnik explores the decision-making and intelligence of babies.  Alison seeks to answer why and how children and babies can learn so much so quickly.  She suggests that it is due to the amount of time human beings spend being dependent on adults.  Alison points out that the human species has the longest time for “learning” than any other species.  In this “learning process,” babies and children are protected; this gives them time to learn and process all the information that their brains can handle.  Alison states that babies are designed for learning; they are made for learning, and their brains are one of the most powerful computers.  Once the children grow into adults, all of the things learned can then be put into practice.

Alison shows us how children at the age of four can effectively experiment and form hypotheses; often we think children are “just playing around” or “not paying attention,” when in reality, they are experimenting.  In one instance, a four year old was able to experiment with four different hypotheses in less than two minutes.  Why are adults not able to do this?  Alison suggests it is because adults’ brains are like spotlights; they focus on one thing and block everything else out.  Children, however, have brains like lanterns; they can analyze many different ideas from different places all at once.  Children are unable to zero in on one idea, but the number of possible hypotheses is more numerable than an adults’.

Alison suggests that if we desire to become more open-minded and creative, then our goal is to become as children are.  In this video, Alison’s research on the learning process in children and babies showed us that humans have a great capacity for learning, if we only stop and take the time to recognize it.  Alison’s talk reveals that there is much to understand about the learning process, and there is much more to understand about our children.  Overall, this video shows that it is vital to educate our children and give them all the tools necessary to become productive adults; it is our job to “water” their minds, and then watch them flourish in the garden called, “life.”

Authored by Secoria Burks

Salman Khan during his TED talk
Teaching through videos allows students to learn at their own pace. They have the ability to stop, pause, fast forward, or rewind if they need to. As far as flipping a classroom is concerned, videos can be vital. Mr. Khan also proposes the idea that videos can make a classroom more human, by using videos as an at home teaching tool. Classroom time can be used for practice, collaboration, and assessment; not instruction. Assessment is one of the topics his online school is attempting to change as a whole. He believes that a one shot test isn’t very productive. Students are taught a section and at the end they have a test. The score on the test indicates what they understood or retained, but no matter what the score, teachers move on to the next section. The Khan Academy has created a system that prompts students to try until they master the skill.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project #15- PBL #3

Slice Of Life
In this project students will be diving headfirst into the cultures of the world. A special focus will be placed on food culture as it is an extremely aspect of all cultures around the world and sadly many people have lost sight of it. This is just a taste, the meat of the project is here!

flags made of food

Blog Post #12

Ken Robinson is an innovator in education, and he pushes others to understand their students and their talents more fully.  We listened to three videos provided by TED Talks in which Ken guides our thoughts into a direction away from the mundane, structural, and predictable educational system. He challenges us to question the current structure of our educational system and pushes us to encourage others in their creativity.

Authored by: Jo Davis

death valley
In this TED talk Sir Ken Robinson discusses not only the problems that have caused the dire state of education in America but also the problems with the solutions that have been proposed to fix education in America. Firstly he addresses the ironically named “No Child Left Behind” program and the harm that it has done for education and for the flourishing of students' minds. Sir Ken Robinson states that there are three principles that are essential for human life to flourish and that they are all three contradicted by the system of education at present. The first of the principles that Sir Ken Robinson reveals is that human beings are naturally very diverse and vary greatly amongst one another. This nature of diversity is directly contradicted by the No Child Left Behind program that places an extreme importance on conformity and standardization. The forced system of standardization narrows the field of education for students to a small group of subjects that have been deemed necessary. The subjects and material being taught are important but by themselves with all the focus only on these subjects it is simply not sufficient. As Sir Robinson says, a focus on the arts and humanities is an absolute necessity when it comes to a proper education. Along with the cherry picking of subjects, the methods of teaching and learning are also being stifled so all children must learn and do school work in a uniform manner, yet again directly contradicting the diverse human nature. The next principle that Sir  Robinson addresses is the inherent curiosity of human kind. He states that children are natural learners and if educators can just light the spark of curiosity the children will learn so much on their own. He attributes part of this problem to the de-professionalization of the teaching profession. Teachers are not meant to only pass along learned information but to rather facilitate learning. Instead, the current system of education in America enforces compliance by having teachers teach and students learn only for the purpose of a standardized test. In this system the curiosity of the students is being quashed and learning is being impeded. It is crucial that this problem is rectified as curiosity is absolutely vital in education and learning.  The last principle Sir Robinson addresses is that of the creativity of humans. He states that education has a duty to nurture creativity in developing minds. This is yet again being stifled by the culture of standardization. Sir Robinson compares this to the highly successful education system in Finland and states that the Finnish individualize teaching and learning, place a very high standard on the profession of teaching, and devolve the power and responsibility of teaching to the individual school level. These methods address the three principles Sir Ken Robinson spoke on to create what diverse, curious, and creative humans need to learn...and organic system of education! With such a system that can develop and aid students in learning, the current crisis in American education would be no more. So much can be learned from Sir Ken Robinson by taking these essential factors for the flourishing of the mind and using them to evaluate the state of education in America. All educators should take his points into consideration because as he stated,” No school is better than its teachers.” America is certainly in dire need of an escape from education’s death valley.

Authored by: Lindsay Stewart

ken robinson illustration on divergent thinking

In this video, Ken Robinson provides a profound case for the need of our educational system to nurture rather than undermine creativity.  Ken’s talk is very entertaining, and he kept my full attention for the duration.

Ken explains that everyone has an interest in education; it is not only teachers or students that have an interest.  Ken explains that education is meant to lead our children into the future.  However, he also points out that the future is quite unpredictable, and how can we educate for unpredictability?  Ken explains that we must begin with nurturing the innovation, talents, and creativity of others.  He points out that our current education system stifles the creative minds of children; furthermore, Ken states that there is currently an academic inflation.  There is a lot of focus on degrees and meeting education marks.  Ken directs us to see that children are not, by nature, afraid of taking chances; rather, we are educating our children out of creativity.  He argues that if you do not take chances and are afraid of being wrong, then you will not come up with anything creative and original; this is something that education takes away from children.
Ken is passionate about nurturing the creativity of others.  Instead of squandering the talents of our children, we should embrace them.  He shows us that degrees really are not worth much compared to the creativity we are stifling.  We need to change our perception of human capacity, and we should use our gift of imagination wisely and encourage that gift in others. Ken’s talk on creativity brought to life again many points I have read and heard recently through the interaction in my EDM310 class.  There are many passionate educators that want to see a change, and there are people that “really get it.”  But how do we move from pointing out the issues to making the changes to put these great ideas into practice?  There are many guidelines that educators must follow based on where they are employed.  I would hope my classroom would be one that encourages all creativity, but I am concerned about my own limits as an educator.  When will “those in charge” embrace the need to allow more imagination and nourishment of talents in our schools? As Ken says, the future is unpredictable; I hope the future includes many ideas I have in my own imagination.

by Secoria Burks

illustration of Ken RobinsonIn this video Ken Robinson addresses problems that we face in education so far. Education as it is alienates certain students, and marginalises points of value in students. Current school structure was designed during the Enlightenment period and was based around economics and intelligence. This system has created the notion that there are smart and non-smart people and this is not only ineffective but creates unnecessary chaos. Another topic he discusses is the misappropriated use of prescription drugs on students and the effects they have on classroom participation. He explains how students of this age are the most stimulated in history. They are being stimulated by their surroundings and more and more by chemical substances.Both of these things make it hard for students to focus on what is usually boring student material. Instead of attempting to make the material just as stimulating students are often penalized for not being interested. The point he really works at is that students are being numbed to experiences that are supposed to make them feel alive. School structure is another big topic he discusses. He emphasizes the importance put on student age instead of ability. Also he elaborates on how schools are modeled after factories. There are ringing bells, separate facilities, subjects are divided up, and students are taught in batches determined by age. This is a form of educating that is only conducive to standardized learning. His final topic is divergent thinking, he begins by explaining that divergent thinking is an essential component to creativity and that as children progress in the current education machine they lose this skill.   

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Blog Post #11

Ms. Kathy Cassidy and Technology in the Classroom

kids playing with a nintendo 3ds        Kathy Cassidy is an educator in Canada that has wholly embraced technology as a vital tool for education. In her video Little Kids...Big Potential the methods of introducing technology and the skills the young kids have developed are showcased.  The first thing that really caught my attention in this video is the amount of hands-on experience and freedom the kids are allowed to have when working with technology. As evident in Sugatra Mitra's famous Hole in the Wall experiment, this is without a doubt the best way for kids of future generations to learn and develop skills for our highly technology reliant world. I have seen this first hand as I have a young nephew who loves computers and can do things far beyond what most could assume a 4 grader could do. Another thing that got me very excited in this video was the implementation of a wide variety of technology. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Nintendo DSs were used in the classroom to help develop skills. For me this was proof that some educators are finally moving forward and embracing the changes our society calls for in the age of technology. I can speak on this as a product of the world of technology as I learned how to read in LARGE part thanks to playing my Game Boy as a child. Children have an ability to adapt to and learn to utilize technology in a way we still cannot completely quantify and it is vital to provide chances for constructive early exposure/experience. As Ms.Cassidy says in this video children and technology go hand in hand and we CANNOT teach a new generation with outdated programs and methods.

Kathy Cassidy
       I really like all of the methods that Kathy Cassidy employs in her classroom but one specifically I would consider using would be the use of student blogs. Blogs could be very useful in doing many things for the students. With student blogs the students progress can be tracked, an audience is readily available for their work, they can be easily connected with other students, their work can be stored in one place, and probably most importantly basic online/technology skills can be developed. In using blogs or a class website one obstacle does arise that Kathy Cassidy brings up that I did not think about . This obstacle is the caution needed when it comes to ensuring the kids' privacy on the web. Ms.Cassidy ensures this protection by only using first names and then not associating pictures with kids names specifically. Another problem to consider in this same context is brought up in the interview videos with Kathy Cassidy by a student, the problem of monitoring what the kids are doing on the technology provided. This more applies to lower grade levels as that is when you are monitoring students with technology you supply them but it is still something to consider and monitor with any students when possible.  Another method of using technology to teach  I would utilize would be using a podcast as a group PLN. Podcasts are one of my favorite forms of media as they are very easy to consume and can be very informational. They are relatively easy to create and are conducive to intelligent and thought provoking conversation which I consider one of the greatest ways to learn and teach. Kathy Cassidy later addresses the use of creative presentations. I would definitely have students present their work and requiring it to be creative and personalized not only makes the work more interesting but Ms.Cassidy brings up a great point in saying that prevents the kids from being able to just get by by piggy-backing on someone else's work. All-in-all Kathy Cassidy has developed great methods to utilize technology in the classroom that I am definitely taking notes from. It really makes me very happy to know that there are teachers out there making big strides to create a learning environment fit for this age of technology.

C4T #3

Tony Baldasaro
Discussion Post
By Tony Baldasaro

This go around I was assigned Tony Baldasaro's blog at I was instantly interested as I saw his first post. I noticed this first post was very different from many of the other post I have come across in our C4T teacher blogs. His blog entry was simply titled "Discuss" and in it Baldasaro provided this statement he had written in an email, "Just because kids will work hard and do whatever we ask them to do doesn’t [automatically] mean we should be asking them to do what it is we are asking them to do."    After this he prompted the readers to discuss this statement. I found this very interesting as he used this blog post to engage his readers and find out their opinions on this topic. This statement was very thought provoking and I like this school of thought that gets us as educators thinking about what we're asking kids to do. One of the readers left a comment regarding this in the context of homework. I think homework is a very important subject that this question could be applied to as I think homework is far too often used as filler work.  

Culture Of "Us"
By Tony Baldasaro

In this blog entry Baldasaro talks on the topic of creating a culture of "us" in schools and how many of the blogs he sees are not conducive to this goal. He states that he has seen a lot of "my's" and gives the following examples: 

I look forward to meeting my staff at our first day of school tomorrow.
I can’t wait to meet my kids this year.
Tony Baldasaro and colleagues My school is up for an award.
My classroom is almost ready for my kids to arrive.

This is an interesting problem to address as many people probably do not consider it. It is very true and is apparent by these examples that Baldasaro found that many people claim ownership over many aspects of our schools. I am not sure that this creates as big as a problem as some people assume but I could see it creating an obstacle when it comes to working and thinking of education as a team environment. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

C4K Summary for October

the sky
On 6 October I got to view and comment on Cheyenne's blog of Mr. Rhodus' 6th grade class of Robertsdate,AL. In her blog entry Cheyenne addressed the question of "How much does the sky weight?" At first I was taken aback by this question because it seemed so bizarre! I had never thought about such a question and I was actually very interested in seeing the answer! (You too can find out here!) Aside from some spelling errors Cheyenne did a great job showing personality and being creative in her post and she definitely taught me something!

children gardeningOn the 20th of October I had the pleasure of reading Hannah's blog of Mrs. Hartooni's 7th grade class. Hannah wrote about she and her friends Tyler and Dustin are going to plant a garden. She told about how her Marigolds would serve to protect Tyler's strawberries and Dustin's yet to be decided plant. Hannah did a great job with her writing in this post as she really showed personality through her creative speech. Also I think a class garden is a fantastic idea as fresh food is a value we should certainly be teaching our children.

A student's blog I was assigned to read on 27 October went by the name of woky34 of Mr. So's grade 2 class in Canada. The students were to come up with an idea for an activity called "Genius Hour." Woky34 chose to do sea creatures and stated an intent on using various sources and even actual samples. I commended woky34 of the idea of using samples and also commented on my own love for all things aquatic.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Project #14- PBL #2

History Critic

In this PBL the students will be analyzing Hollywood movies for their historical inaccuracies. Does Hollywood adequately portray the truth? How could this be remedied? The students will explore these questions and stretch their creative muscles in this project. Read all about it at the site!

Maximus of Gladiator and King Leonidas of 300

Blog Post #10

Randy Pausch

What Can We Learn About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch?

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture is a presentation first and foremost about hope. It is his masterpiece that he proudly proclaimed before his imminent death. Pausch begins by addressing his terminal condition and ensures and reinforces that his Last Lecture is not to be centered around death, but rather life.  In this lecture he speaks on achieving your childhood dreams, or as he says maybe even more importantly helping others to achieve their dreams. This was the first to really catch my attention. To so selflessly consider aiding others in succeeding as being even more important than your own dreams is really a thing of admiration. I really do derive pleasure from helping others in many situations, and I strive to obtain a level of selflessness at which I can help others whether that be in everyday life or maybe even in developing their passions. After seeing this lecture Randy Pausch is definitely another role model in this goal for me. Bringing it back to the lecture, Pausch brings up pictures from his childhood where he is always smiling and he discusses constantly dreaming big in a time where man reaches the frontier of the moon. The importance of optimism, being positive, and never loosing that desire to dream is another key point that everyone should consider and practice from Randy Pausch. The power of positive, out-of-the-box thinking is limitless. I want to take a while and talk about how Pausch used his own dreams to kick off his Last Lecture.  Pausch lists his own childhood dreams and uses them as a tool to tell his experiences and what he learned from pursuing each of them. He talks about his first dream, of being in zero gravity, and how it was met by a brick wall. He displays a very thought provoking slide that says, "Brick walls are there to prove how badly we want something." This is an absolutely brilliant statement as most people think of brick walls a point of termination, an obstacle that puts an end to the road to your dreams. Pausch is saying that is not the case! These obstacles just force you to fight even harder to prove that you are striving to achieve your dreams.  Next pausch talks about his dream of playing in the NFL, which he never achieved. However, he views this in no way as a failure, in fact he goes on to say that he learned more from not achieving this goal than he did from achieving some of his other goals. From this he learns the importance of criticism as an essential tool for growth. Pausch also uses this opportunity to first address what he calls "head fake" or indirect learning. I am glad he brings attention to the things we learn indirectly because, as he says, these are some of the most important things we can learn and at times we don't even realize we're learning them! When Pausch gets to his dream of being Captain
Kirk, he uses Kirk as a fantastic example of leadership. Finally Pausch actually does achieve his dream of becoming an Imagineer at Disney. Through this example he again overcomes brick walls and fights tooth and nail to achieve this dream. Randy Pausch, either through achieving or not achieving his childhood dreams, learned and developed so much just from striving for his goals, and after doing so he moved on to helping others have this same experience. I absolutely love this school of thought. Pausch experienced, grew, and gave back to the world but through helping others to do the same so much more is achieved! He goes on to say that the greatest gift you can give to others is the opportunity for them to get other people excited. This aspect of Pausch's Last Lecture connects with me the most. This importance placed upon aiding the growth of others is essential and we should all (as educators or otherwise) learn from these words of wisdom. Mentorship is a vital thing in life and learning and it is something I am afraid is dying out in our world today. Pausch places a great importance on mentorship throughout his Last Lecture in instances where he is the mentor and also where he often consults his own mentors. A final thing he mentioned was a value he learned from one of his own mentors and that was to expect and look for the good in people. "People will surprise you." This is yet another thing from Randy Pausch's Last Lecture I love. I believe optimism is absolutely essential and Pausch definitely propagates the importance of optimism, hope, and happiness. So much that I have hit on here and even more can be learned from Randy Pausch in not only learning and teaching but also living.
smiley face ball

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Project #2- Personal Learning Network

figures connected on a map

Personal Learning Network (PLN) Growth Progression

I use Google's tools and Youtube quite often in my daily life, but when I started EDM 310 and learned I would be using these and other tools in creating a network for learning I was a little worried. I never used Twitter before even though many of my friends had accounts and I had also never used Blogspot. After the few weeks I have experienced in EDM 310 so far I have found these various tools easy to use and very helpful. I am still getting used to using Google+ and Twitter as tools for connecting with people but other tools such as iCurio have proved very useful in even some work outside of EDM 310. Blogger has been amazing not just as a great place to host all of our EDM 310 work but also to connect with other educators. I really enjoy the C4T assignments as they provide an opportunity to experience educators and their work in the field. Skype is another tool I am familiar with outside of this class and I know it has proven to be extremely useful. I have not had the chance to implement it for EDM 310 but I am sure I will be in the near future.  I hope by the end of EDM 310 I will have had more experience with all of these tools and be able to use them effectively to expand upon my PLN. I also view the class blog and all my other classmates' blogs as part of my learning network too. Viewing their work has definitely added to my learning experiences and I hope my blog helps in the same way for them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post #9

What can we learn about teaching and learning from these teachers?
Authored by: Secoria Burks, Jo Davis, and Lindsay Stewart

1. Brian Crosby, Agnes Risley Elementary School, Sparks, Nevada, “Back To the               Future”

weather balloon In this video, Brian Crosby discusses how his class learns about hot air balloons, and how his students took learning to a higher level.  Mr. Crosby discussed the entire project of his students building and learning about hot air balloons.  The project was an eye opener in getting students to be involved in the entire learning process.  First, research was performed, then testing, after this, the actual building of the hot air balloon was completed.  In each step, Mr. Crosby’s students are blogging, making videos, collaborating, and connecting and sharing their learning with the entire world. So, what can we learn about teaching and learning from Mr. Crosby and his class?  Mr. Crosby shows us that it’s not about a race through learning or a race to get good test scores.  He teaches us that learning enrichment is part of everyday learning, and through enrichment and project based learning, students learn in their own way the things necessary to not only improve test scores but to also obtain a first rate education.  Mr. Crosby gave an interesting quote from a David Coen on the way schools now handle teaching kids “the basics.” Many schools just drill basics and then move on to enrichment learning afterwards. Using Coen’s quote to support his thoughts, Mr. Crosby says it shouldn’t be this way. “The basics” can be taught more discreetly and the children learn better when taught through more meaningful experiences such as Mr. Crosby’s project. The students in this class thrived from the attention they received from comments and sharing around the world, and the video gave a clear picture of how students are more motivated to learn when technology and collaboration are part of the experience. Mr.Crosby does something in this video that I really admire. He addressed his students presumed handicaps, his students were impoverished, second language learners,who were largely disconnected from the environment they lived in. Making the point that if students don’t understand their role in the scheme of things, that it would be hard for them to find that spark needed to imagine, be creative, and to be passionate. My favorite project was “High Hopes.” This project directly targets the problem with the disconnect by asking the students to include their community and their passions. Another thing I learned from Mr.Crosby is that by building a large learning network students makes learning more interactive and more rewarding.  

2. Mr. Paul Andersen, high school AP Biology teacher in Bozeman, Montana. “The Blended Learning Cycle”
Link with quiver

Paul Anderson talks to us about the “Blended Learning Cycle” in this video.  Mr. Anderson begins by showing us blended learning combines online, classroom, and mobile settings.  He then presents the learning cycle with these steps: engage, explore, explain, expand, and evaluating at all points.  Mr. Anderson combines the blended learning atmosphere with the learning cycle to illustrate the complete “Blended Learning Cycle.”  In the complete cycle students will do the following steps concerning the science lesson/project: 1. Question 2. Investigate 3. Video 4. Elaborate 5. Review 6. Summary Quiz.  He summarizes this process with the helpful acronym QuIVERS. In each of these steps the students explore in depth the lesson being presented through working hands on and learning via the web.  Mr. Anderson gives examples of some of the questions he poses to his students and how they work through them using the “Blending Learning Cycle.”  What can we learn from teaching and learning from Mr. Anderson?  It is good to have a process to use on different lessons/projects, and a way to mark learning via the summary quiz.  The “Blended Learning Cycle” is a tool that can be used in lesson planning to assure use of all resources available. Another thing we can learn from Mr.Anderson is that one really good way to start any lesson is to pose a question. Or that it really doesn’t have to be a question, it should just produce a conundrum for the students. One last thing we can learn from Mr. Anderson is actually how he started his video. He addresses the fact that he evaluated his teaching methods from the previous term and adjusted them according to his desires, values, and inspirations from other educators. The willingness to consider your own work and change it is an incredibly important thing to consider.  

In this video Mr. Church challenges his students to create a headline for what the search and puzzle is of the question, “What is human origin all about?”  The students are put into discussion groups to come up with headlines for the question, and then each group creates their headline.  The headlines are displayed in the classroom, and then after learning about the search for human origin the headlines are reviewed a second time.  This allows the students to see if they would change their headline after learning about the topic.  What can we learn about teaching and learning from Mr. Church?  We learn group work and collaboration brings out different points of view, and displaying the headlines helps to create a visual of the learning that is taking place.  This collaborative thinking Mr. Church had his students do is fantastic exercise in critical thinking. Analyzing and thoughtfully discussing with others in this fashion is a great facilitator of learning. Mr. Church employed another great technique when he had the students go back and consider their headlines again to see how and if their thoughts/feelings/ideas had changed. These methods and thinking lead to more actively thinking students. This is a great example how allowing students to independently explore is a necessity. Mr. Church placed a fairly vague and open question. The students had to decide what was important to them, what they wanted to gain from this section. As they go throw this section they will attempt to answer the question, and the banner they made gives them a starting point.