Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Personal Learning Network Progress

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a group of people you communicate with to share ideas, experiences, and resources to increase your own learning. PLNs allow for collaborative learning from local teachers to educators around the world. All the work we have been doing in EDM510 has been contributing to our own Personal Learning Network. I realize I need to get a better handle on all the contacts I have made and organize them into one space. I just haven't had the time this semester, so the organization of my own PLN will be added to my Personal Development Plan (which only included reinstating my teaching certificate) for 2014! 

My PLN includes:
Following on Twitter : 49 education or technology based accounts and individual educators
As of now, the only hash-tag I have been consistently following:

In addition to EDM510 student blogs and Dr. Strange, other blogs I follow:
Lisa Nielson - The Innovative Educator
Natalie Turbiville - Walking in Mathland
Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom
Manaiakalani - Living Local Learning Global
Dangerously ! Irrelevant

Moving at the Speed of Creativity

In my professional life, I am a member of the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) and a member of the MS Gulf Coast Chapter that meets monthly at various locations on the Mississippi Coast. Members of this group are comprised of professional educators through the college level and business professionals that have a vested interested in employee training and development. I also have a Linkedin profile and have made contacts from all over the world who are interested in and work in the same type of industry as myself.

Since using Facebook is frowned upon in my workplace, but the advantage of social connections is recognized, my employer has its own internal version of Facebook, called Yammer. Use of Yammer is almost identical to Facebook. I find belonging to the different "groups" very helpful. Imagine going to a virtual group at work when needing a question answered and finding just the people you need from IT to Learning groups! 

Yammer is a good tool but nothing beats my team of co-workers and west coast collaborators. They are anywhere from a few steps to a phone call away. Without the support of these people, I would not have the job knowledge I do today and I am proud to say I work with people who are not afraid to continue learning!

The more I learn about learning and how technology can enrich our experiences, the more I find! Managing information and choosing the most important and relevant of the pile will be a continual learning experience itself!

Video Book Review #2

How It's Being Done

Urgent Lessons From Unexpected Schools

by Karin Chenoweth

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Did I Leave Out?

Dr. Strange asked us to reflect on all the work that we have done and to come up with an assignment related specifically to our subject matter area that he did not assign. I have racked my brain on this and honestly, could not find something that we haven't covered. I took some of the assignments and naturally gravitated to blogs, websites and tools that pertained to math. So, here is the best I could do:

Find a blogger to follow who teaches in your field of study. Read and comment on at least 10 of their posts. Summarize what you have learned from your blogger and what you can and will use in your own classroom. Make a movie trailer or Google presentation and post to your blog.

My Completed Assignment:

Comment for Teacher - Semester Assigned #3

Post #9

The blog on manaiakalani living local learning global posted on 4/8/2014 titled Longevity of the Essay was about Dorothy's reflection on the video "In 15 years: Death of the Essay?" The professor in the video prescribes to the idea that "schools will have to move beyond the ideas of reading and writing as literacy" because we now communicate in such a digital world, research, blog, upload videos, photos, etc... Dorothy gave an example of how 3rd party add-ons to Google Docs is exploding the possibilities of incorporating different types of media into documents. Teachers in their Manaikalani Digital Teacher Academy are now questioning, "What constitutes academic literature?" Much of the research is video, podcasts, blogs, etc.
My reply:
"...and most importantly, the ability to discern between quality information and what is just elegantly styled dross..." THIS will be the most important skill we can teach our 21st century students. The online environment DOES contain the world's greatest library and garbage dump in the same venue. Reading comprehension will become, not only "do you understand what you just read", but "can you tell if it is credible or just a bunch of bologna"? As for the different types of media taking the place of the written essay, I can see that happening. One of my next assignments is a video book report! Thanks for sharing this video Dorothy. It certainly stirs up some discussion in my workplace.  

 Post #10

The blog on manaiakalani living local learning global posted on 5/28/2010 titled Managing your Online Identity, discussed the generational differences as it relates to online identity and privacy. Dorothy cited a recent study that showed people aged 18-29 manged their identities much better than older web users, presumably because they didn't know how to change privacy settings or "google" themselves to see what others can see.
Nice post and video Dorothy and so relevant to my own life. My 77 year old mother has begun using the internet just in the last few years and I find myself tending to her online reputation. She just does use Facebook and email and certainly doesn't fully understand the repercussions of sharing too much information and changing privacy settings. I had to delete one person who became her Facebook friend for game playing only. This person tagged photos of my own children and were using them as if they were this person's grandchildren! Scary! 

  Post #11

Dorothy uploaded a slide that was created to include in presentations about the Manaiakalani Programme to help explain what the Programme is NOT. There has been much outside interest in their Programme lately and even media coverage that has used what she referred to as "easy soundbites" that have been inaccurate and disappointing. She also included a link to a previous blog that explains what they ARE about. She also included this:
"For the second year in a row the research report from the Woolf Fisher Team (University of Auckland) has noted in detail that one of the strengths of the Manaiakalani programme is the coherence seen around the goals and aims."
My reply:
Thank you so much for sharing your world with me throughout this semester. This is my last "official" assigned post but certainly not the last time I will be viewing and communicating with you and your wonderful world of partnering education. Your blog has inspired me to be a better educator, to open myself to new challenges, and to feel a sense of world community that I would never have otherwise! I feel blessed to have read about the transformation in your schools and I wish you all much success and happiness. 

Comments for Teacher - My Choice #3

Post #9

The post on Walking in Mathland blog was about spending time with her younger sister this summer practicing math. The sister would be entering 9th grade and taking an accelerated Algebra/Geometry course that Natalie taught the previous year. Natalie had 3 topics she wanted to teach her sister, which would help ensure she was ready for the course. In her post she mentioned using Kuta Software and worksheets it created, and posted PDFs of the worksheets generated by Kuta. I was unaware of this software, but I have once again learned something new!
My reply: Not only are you a dedicated teacher, but a helpful big sister too! This is a nice thing for you to do for her and I know she appreciated practicing math over the summer (eye roll)! Thanks for including the mention of Kuta software. I had to do a little research to know what it was all about. It seems that it can be a lifesaver in a pinch and the ability to print multiple versions would cut down on cheating on test day. Nice add. I enjoy all of your posts and learn something new every time I visit!


Post #10 

The post on Walking in Mathland blog was about the author, Natalie, getting a text message from a friend looking for a solution to a real world math problem quickly. Her friend was a physical therapist and was trying to motivate a kid to walk faster. She asked for a conversion from ft/sec to mi/hr. Natalie received the text while out shopping, solved the problem on the back of a receipt and sent the solution to her friend via picture message. Natalie then realized she could incorporate this into her lesson on dimensional analysis! Common Core real world problem!
My reply: What a great real world application! I have also been called at various times by family and friends looking for answers to, what I would consider, basic math problems. It truly is amazing the amount of people in my life that can work procedural math but application escapes them. Hopefully, the new standards will begin to bring about change for the better. 

Post #11

Walking in Mathland post was about dispelling a rumor that you can't "study" for math. Natalie does and excellent job of letting students know that this is a myth! Her examples included writing a cheat sheet for topics the student is not 100% sure of and revising that cheat sheet as you go. The items will get smaller and smaller and the more you write them down, the more likely you are to remember them. She also gave another example of old school flashcards but put a digital spin on this for those who are digital natives. Quizzlet was offered as an alternative to written flashcards on index cards. Natalie also offered YouTube as an excellent source for digital natives to find additional information on any math topic.
My reply: Thanks for sharing your ideas about studying math. I am more of an old school studier myself. I remember and learn best when I write things down, but the students I will be teaching are certainly "digital natives". Your inclusion of quizzlet and YouTube are something they can really grab on to. Also Mathway.com will generate extra example problem worksheets as well. Your blog is inspiring to an old school math teacher trying to come into the digital way of thinking! 

Comments for Teacher #3 - Rotating

Post #9

Denise Krebs is the author of daretocare blog. The post I read was dated March 19th and titled, "
ersatile, Liebster, Getting-to-Know-You, Merry Sunshine, Blog Meme Nomination". This post was in response to some other blogger challenging her to state11 facts about herself, answering some pre-posted questions about her favorite things, listing 11 bloggers she invited to join the challenge and the questions she chose for them to answer. This middle school teacher recently moved from Iowa to Bahrain and is now teaching Kindergarten students English.
My reply: This is the first time reading your blog and it is nice to find out some personal information about the author! I have a few questions about your new home. Are your students American? What, if anything, is special about Friday to take the day off? How far have you ventured outside of your new home and do you ever travel alone? You are now certainly the learner in chief being so far away from home! I wish you much success and happiness in Bahrain!

 Post #10

 Blogging about the web 2.0 Connected Classroom posted about an EdCamp event he attended. He has been involved with EdCamp for professional development as a participant and as an organizer which gives him a unique perspective on the benefits of the events. The sessions are for the most part particpant driven, soliciting topics for discussion, and the session itself is less lecture and more conversation.
My reply: This was an interesting post. I am not familiar with Edcamp but the diverse group of people and the fact that it is participant/conversation driven sounds interesting. I have always learned more from participating in sincere conversations, especially ones that have included disagreement.

Post #11

  Blogging about the web 2.0 Connected Classroom posted a Happy Birthday message to YouTube that included tips and tricks for using "our favorite video service". This post was an excellent attention grabber and made me want to find out all the things that YouTube CAN do. I was unaware of the capabilities of editing, mixing, customizing, and sharing. The author gave short descriptions of the following features: YouTube Video Editor, Quiet Tube, Tube Chop, Drag on Tape and Watch2gether. I was unable to leave a comment.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Teaching Digital Natives Video Book Review

 Partnering for a Better Future

A Video Book Review of Teaching Digital Natives

by Marc Prensky

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blog Post #9 - What Can We Learn from These Teachers?

Several of the videos I watched reminded me of the book I just finished reading, Teaching Digital Natives. There were so many commonalities with Mr. Crosby's Tedx Talk and Prensky's book. As I watch Mr. Crosby explain the Balloon project his class performed and all the activities associated with it, much of this Project/Problem Based Learning and the new Common Core Standards came into full view.

Not only did Mr. Crosby teach the standards, the kids learned so much more! They were free to research, question and be creative. They were empowered, motivated, active, and collaborated and connected not only to their classmates in their school, but to a community of learners worldwide. The students showed passion for the learning, used technology, answered real world questions and were engaged throughout the entire process with authentic audiences. This balloon assignment was language intensive including creative writing (in a science class)! I was blown away (no pun intended) by the amount of different types of learning that took place.

The kids, through their blogs, were able to share their experiences and work with students around the globe.  With this, they connected their teacher to another teacher in New Zealand whose students wanted to do the same project/activities. Their teacher needing some help in getting started so what better way for Mr. Crosby's students to shine and show off how much they learned than an online video session? I could go on and on about this Tedx Talk because it left such an impression on me as a teacher and parent. When Mr. Crosby closed with a quote from another teacher saying that this type of education is a birthright for every child, not just those whose parents can afford to send their students to schools with high test scores, my heart went out to all those people who are stuck in the public system wherever they happen to live. Some kids DON'T have the experiences to build schemas for the world and it is our responsibility as educators to do what we can to bridge those gaps, AND HAVE FUN WHILE DOING IT !

Comments for Kids #3

Post #7

Nathan posted a Google presentation about adding two and three digit numbers using a method called "tidying up". His presentation contained two examples, with steps shown, and the correct answer. His blog page was very neat and he had a photo of himself with some personal information.

I replied:  I have a twelve year old son who likes music and movies too! Twelve is such a fun age. I tell my son all the time that I wish I could freeze him at this age because he is so goofy and has so much fun!
My favorite subject is math so I really enjoyed your post. Putting the information in a Google Presentation made it nice and neat and I could understand your explanation. We were never formally taught this method of addition, but this is how I would always work the problems in my head. I call it mental math. You are doing a great job with your blog!

Taunese posted a photo of a map of the area in which she lives. She included written directions from her school to two different locations, the Netball Court and Tamakai College. The post was titled "Geometry: Glen Innes Map".
My reply: It looks like you are studying Geometry and this map is helping you in your understanding. Is that correct? You are making good use of the directional references and that would help most people. I call myself "directionally challenged". That means if you tell me north, south, east, and west, I might get lost. I find places better when directions include landmarks like roundabouts and bridges! Good work on this blog post!

Collin posted about having a sleepover at the local community church. He had three friends there, they traveled up the mountain and admired the beautiful view, then went back to the church for marshmallows and a movie called The Perfect Game.
My reply: Thank you for sharing your story with us on your blog. You must have had an exciting time because sleepovers with friends are fun, traveling to the top of a mountain is fun, and marshmallows and movies are fun too! You must be exhausted! Your writing is descriptive so it helps me picture what it was like. I saw the movie The Perfect Game and really enjoyed it. I hope you had a good time! Good work on your blog!

Post #8

Loseli posted a photo of a brochure she created about native plants. A second photo posted looked to be a rubric for the assignment. My reply: Your blog post with the photo of the brochure you created is very nice. Good job on the brochure. Is the other photo a rubric for your assignment? 

Phaezon posted a photo of a brochure he created about native plants. A second photo posted looked to be a rubric for the assignment. My reply: Good job on the brochure. Your blog post with the photo of the brochure you created er photo a rubric for your assignment? My favorite subject is math as well!
Keep up the good work!

Efa-Lata was a post about her and her mom visiting the Auckland Zoo and how much she enjoyed seeing the animals.
My reply: I have enjoyed your story about your zoo visit and I am so glad you had a good time. Elephants are my favorite animal! Keep up the good work!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Conversation with Anthony Capps and Dr Strange - My Takeaway

What did I learn from listening to the question and answer session of Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange? I learned that teachers who are currently using a Project Based Learning approach are still learning too.

It is important to take a pro-active approach to get and keep the students interested in assigned projects. This can be done by making sure the essential question is not only connected to the standards but is also relevant to the students. The students should also have plenty of options to choose from in deciding what aspect of the essential question is most important to them. This is referred to as student "voice and choice". If the student is still struggling with staying focused on the project or is losing interest, then some self-reflecting may be in order for the teacher. Make sure you haven't given the student too much to do in the learning period assigned. Some students may seem overwhelmed with open questions, or they may have found too much information on the topic. The teacher should give the student some guidance as to where to begin or where to go from a certain point and hold the students accountable by chuncking the assignment into smaller pieces. Some students need these check-in points to stay on track.
project based learning
 It is important for teachers to get on board with PBL by taking things slowly and pacing themselves in the classroom. Choose one tool to introduce to the class and have them use that tool before introducing the next. Do this week by week and before long you have a toolbox full of resources that the students are already familiar using. Model the use of the first tool to ensure the students know what your expectations are regarding small group work and what is and is not acceptable in a PBL setting. Also, teach the students the 8 aspects of PBL one week at a time. This will help them to understand that the goal of this approach to teaching is for them to gain a lot of knowledge and understanding of topics, not just produce something to show.

It is important for Project Based Learning to be a whole school initiative but to do so in small steps. There must first be a decision from the top (hooray for Baldwin County Leaders!). Then there should be a small group of teachers who are well trained and pilot the program in their schools with support and encouragement from their administration. Their responses and lessons learned should be shared with other teachers at school, provide all teachers with professional development, making it available to all and required by all. Once implemented, ensure students have an authentic audience in which to share their knowledge, critique one another's work, and improve their own.

Finally, and most importantly for me, and probably the hardest, will be the building a community of learners. Developing an atmosphere of trust among the students to know they can ask each other for help and not get in trouble, and for me, the teacher, to trust the students will stay on task. Developing trust with the parents by keeping them involved with the process and having frequent and open communication is essential to the success of a PBL classroom.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

3 - 21st Centrury Tools

Prezi is a presentation software like PowerPoint and Google Slides but unlike those other presentations, Prezi offers the different templates, transitions, and zoom capability, which allows Prezi to move away from the traditional "linear" presentations. This program does feel more like a "storyteller" for the presenter and audience and a "playground" for the creators. Presentations are stored in a cloud allowing more creative space. You can also share your Prezi's publicly and collaborate with other users. After viewing Gina Phillips' Social Media Prezi, I knew I had to find out about this software because it grabbed my attention more so than any PowerPoint I've seen. Our company uses the Microsoft office suite, so it was good to find out Prezi has the ability to import PowerPoint presentations and "Prezify" them! You can upload images, YouTube videos, music, and PDF documents. The Pro version costs $13.25 per month but gives you 2GB of cloud storage, the option to keep your presentations private, use your own logo and access to premium support.
This is a tool I can put to use today in our Training Center to provide more visual stimulation, and keep student's attention.

Mathway is not just a web calculator/graphing calculator. This tool can be a math tutor/helper or just a great cheat for homework (UGH). The user inputs the math problem, and the free online version, gives you the answer and a graphical representation (if appropriate). This is great if you just want to use it for a homework checker. For a monthly or yearly fee, you can also get the step by step solutions to the problems. I like that this tool not only computes basic math but also higher maths such as Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus, Statistics, Finite Math, Linear Algebra, and even Chemistry.

One of the features I liked as a parent and teacher is the ability to create worksheets for practice. Just choose the topic you are studying, choose how many problems you want for practice and viola! A new practice worksheet is generated. I would use these at home to reinforce what my kids are learning in school and would use these in class as bell ringer exercises. Mathway App is also available for download on mobile devices

Voki is an educational tool that allows users to create their own talking character. Voki characters can be customized to look like historical figures, cartoons, animals, and even yourself. Give your Voki a voice by recording with a microphone, using a dial-in number, or uploading an audio file. Voki characters can be emailed, shared on social media, and embedded on websites. Basic Voki characters are free but more options are available if you upgrade to the Classroom Voki. Voki Classroom is a fully digital student, class, and lesson management system for Voki. With Voki Classroom, teachers are able to control their students’ privacy settings, upload lesson plans, utilize existing lesson plans, and students can complete their lesson in Voki. Visit The Official Voki Twitter Page.

Voki also has a traditional presenter pricing option that allows you to create and project Voki presentations. How cool would it be to use your student Vokis in your classroom presentations!

See my first Voki here  AND My son made his own Voki.                           

Friday, April 4, 2014

ALEX Project Assignment

Check out my EDM510 Google Site to see the required PDF documents from the ALEX website.

You will find the Alabama Content Standards for Algebra, Geometry, and Technology Education. 

I have also included a snapshot of my personal workspace on ALEX and last but not least, two lesson plans.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Comments for Kids Blogs #2


Nahea: This is Nahea's first recorded story and it is about what the things she can do on an ipad. Nahea is learning to write simple sentences correctly and independently. She said in her video that she can read stories with her friends and watch movies on her iPad.

I enjoyed watching your video about what you can do on your iPad. You also drew a very nice picture of you and your friend using the iPads. Keep working hard in school and you continue to be a success!

Capzle: This is a post by the teacher showcasing her classroom's first Capzle created. The class took a trip to Ambury Farm. The capzle is a program where you can upload photos and images and make a video story.  Their capzle including photos at the farm and paintings of some of the animals they encountered.
I replied that I did not know about capzle until I read this post.  In fact, I had to research the program and found the website to which anyone and create an account. I thanked the teacher for posting this project so I could learn something new.

Punaiuru: This is Punaiuru's video about swimming.  She is reading complete sentences that she constructed about her swimming experience. She packed toys and towels and they blew bubbles and swam.

I introduced myself then said: Thank you for sharing your swimming story with us. You did a good job reading! We love to go to the beaches here and swim too. Blowing bubbles is also fun! Keep up the good work!

Post #5 

Zion posted about movie night in the park. He got to watch the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" with a few friends. During the movie he ate chocolate and when it was over, he went home with his brother

I introduced myself and told him "thank you for your post about the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2". I have seen the first movie but not the second. You said it was funny so I think I should see it with my kids. They love funny movies too. What was your favorite part?"

Zion posted about mazes and answered three questions: Why do they carry flags in the maize maze? Why is the lifeguard standing on a platform? Why do you think people build or make mazes? He also included a photo of a maze.

I introduced myself and told him "Your answers to the questions seemed to be correct to me. I like puzzles and mazes because it helps to keep my brain active! Thank you for including the picture as well. My favorite kind of mazes are the big mazes you can walk through. We have some near my home usually during the fall season. Nice job!"

Kevine posted about empathy. He said it is understanding the situation someone is in and knowing how the person is feeling. It can also mean feelings and emotions, especially when directed to someone who is undergoing pain. The word empathy is the ability to understand each others feeling and emotions .

I introduced myself and told him "The ability to understand how others feel is important in building good relationships with people. I have two children and try my best to teach them to be empathetic with everyone, not just their friends. If we can all have empathy for one another, then I think we would not have problems with bullying in school. When is the last time you showed empathy to someone in your life?
Nicely done! Keep up the good work!

Post #6

Nathan posted three screen shots of a program he has been working in called Math Whizz. His comment accompanying his pictures said he has been working hard on his Math Whizz and his teacher said learning was good.

I introduced myself, complimented him on his blog and told him "I am not familiar with Math Whizz, but from the pictures it looks like you HAVE been working very hard! I am a math teacher and love to see students learn about math while having fun. What is your favorite part of the Math Whizz program?"

Taunese posted that she is learning about native trees and decided to post a 3 slide google presentation slide show about a native tree, the Harakeke. It is useful because you can make baskets out of the leaves. I introduced myself and told her "I like your Google presentation slides about the native tree, Harakeke. You chose a very colorful background and provided good information about the tree. I also like the colors on your blog background. We have something in common. I love playing sports and going to the beach as well! Did you have an easy time using the Google presentation application?
Keep up the excellent work Taunese!

Collin posted about swimming lessons he recently participated in with his class. He said there were 3 groups of students, each with a female instructor. He was performing so well, he moved up a group on the first day. On the next day he moved to the highest group and he was very proud of his accomplishment. He used very descriptive words which gave me a good mental image of the pool and he also stressed safety.
I introduced myself and told him "I enjoyed reading your blog about swimming lessons. You must be really good to move up two groups in just a few days! Congratulations! Your story had many descriptive words so I almost felt like I was there. Good job using your writing skills. I also noticed you mentioned safety and that is not safe to run because of the wet floors. This shows you are concerned about yourself and others.
Keep up the good work!

Comments for Teacher #2 - Rotating

Post #5

The pegeek blog posted about a new technology that allows individual real-time heart rates to be displayed on an iPad or on any screen that is connected to Apple TV.  An example video was available showing senior males in a gym running while their heart rates were being displayed on a large screen hanging on the gym wall. The heart rate monitors were connected to an iPad via bluetooth and an application was set up with student information populated to individual monitors.  The iPad could connect to the screen hanging on the wall because it had Apple TV.  Anything displayed on the iPad would display on the big screen.
I responded by introducing myself and that as a fitness enthusiast, I was intrigued by this technology and immediately thought of the spin classes at our gym on our work site. Our classes are usually less than 10 people so this would not be terribly expensive to launch. It would be nice to look up on a wall mounted monitor to see my real time heart rate instead of getting the customary 10 second count at check points. I also sad that since I am also a math teacher I thought of the collaboration this could inspire between PE and math teachers. There are so many things we can do with these numbers in a math class! I ended by asking what the response from his students was and how often he used them.

Post #6

The Jenny's Learning Journey posted about a student taking her picture while she was working with another student. The surprise for her was not only was she not aware the student was taking a photo but she was unaware the student knew HOW to take a photo. Jenny was impressed that her student used knowledge that she had gained to create something new. This also reminded her of a time when another student recorded her voice while she was teaching and that we are always being watched.
I responded by introducing myself and thanked her for sharing her love of learning with her students. Tatiana had done a great job and I am impressed at her use of technology with such a young group of students. The picture showed how much she loved what she did.

Post #7

The Education Rethink post was all about the font Comic Sans. I was enthralled with the author's description of the childishness and quirkiness of the font and how it has managed to become popular. He decided that he should embrace the font after all. He ended his post with "April Fools". And I was caught up in his game! 
I am a graduate student in an education media class. I was assigned to respond to your blog this week and what a great surprise! I love a good April Fool's joke. You had me on the hook, only because I never used the font myself. In my humble opinion, it didn't look professional enough! Thanks for the smile today.

Post #8

The author of the blog, WMChamberlain wrote about how he is working with his students on their note taking skills. He even had some personal discoveries after watching two videos. His discoveries were:
1) Note taking is a life skill.
2) Note taking is an act of learning.
3) Note taking should help with big ideas or concepts, not emphasizing facts. If you model note taking as a way to record facts you are doing it wrong.
4) Note taking is personal.
The author stressed his own need to model note taking keeping in mind these four things. "Instead of modeling learning, it is about time I model authentic learning."

I introduced myself and replied: I enjoyed this post on note taking. I learned early in high school that I could not remember anything from class unless I wrote it down while I was listening. I guess I am one of the fortunate students. I was able to hone these skills in college and yes, it is a very personal skill! I invented my own shorthand, but had I used the techniques listed in the first video, it wouldn't have been necessary. This is a very important topic to teach students. It can make their lives so much easier! Thank you for the post. The videos were a great visual.

Comments for Teacher - My Choice

Post #5

The post on Walking in Mathland blog I reviewed was all about nothing, as in the number zero. Natalie said that it is sometimes difficult to get her students to understand the concept of zero being neither positive or negative and that they would struggle with writing the term "none" in place of zero when dealing with ordered pairs and the slope of a line. She posted a short video explaining the origin of the number zero and how it evolved and was included in the numbering system.
I replied that I had sometimes had trouble explaining that concept myself especially to my 12 year old son who seemed to question everything! Another video, which was very lengthy (and hour) explained the number one. I plan on sharing this post with my son to help explain the whys of our simple number system.

Post #6

The post on Walking in Mathland blog I reviewed was all about mathematics in the media. Natalie imbedded several videos. She began by explaining that Pascal's triangle was used in one of the Sherlock Holmes new movies. She had just taught this topic a few weeks before so she showed the clip to her students to demonstrate how they would be exposed to math in the media! A few more clips were less inspirational because of their stereotypical "math is hard" tone. She did note that this topic would make a good term paper topic.
This topic would make an interesting research paper. As a math teacher I was crazy over the show "Numb3rs"! I do not watch much TV either but would not miss an episode of this show. And with Netflix and Hulu I can enjoy them over and over. There are great episodes involving probability. I would love to show some of these in class but some of them would not be suited for small kids. 
This one is really good to introduce simple probability:

Post #7

The post on Walking in Mathland blog was about security. She stayed in a condo with a friend on Memorial Day weekend and her friend questioned the security of the keypad entry. Using math she put her friend's worry to rest. The code was 6 digits. So using the multiplication counting principle, there are 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 = 10 ^ 6 = 1,000,000 different codes. The odds of someone randomly punching in out code was 1/1,000,000 or simple said, one in a million. The probability showed that we were safe. Even if someone had the first three digits of the code that still left a 1/(10 * 10 * 10) or 1 in 10,000 chance of getting the last three digits correctly.
You have yet again posted something very real world about probability. This topic would be a great class opener to grab the student's attention. We could actually compare products from different companies to find which security keypads would provide the most protection for the home. Thanks for the idea!

Post #8

The post on Walking in Mathland blog was about finding humor in math. The author posted a slideshow of some of her favorite images she has pinned to her Pinterest account.
Thanks for sharing these! I find humor in math all the time and love to share it simply because I know so many people won't get the punchline. Is it bad to feel good because I feel like I am part of some special math nerd club? I'll look for your Pinterest Board!

Comment for Teacher #2 - Semester Assigned

Post #5

The blog on manaiakalani living local learning global was about how a "control group" was inadvertently discovered that resulted in extraordinary results as it relates to the 2007 implementation of a technology initiative in the Manaiakalani primary schools and subsequent ability of students entering 9th grade. The control group consisted of students entering 9th grade from other schools who did not have access to the technology integrated into the classroom curriculum.  The results showed such a gap in student reading and math levels that the school is now searching for a way to bridge the gap. Intense remedial instruction will be required to bring non-Manaiakalani primary students up to a level to ensure satisfactory passing rates.
I responded: What a pleasant surprise to find a control group to compare the success of program implementation! But at the same time, there is such a challenge to close the gap in achievement level. It's nice to have data supporting the successes because it gives the primary schools metrics that support continuation of the program and may give reason to expand into other areas and higher education levels. One way to address the gaps may be to create mentor pairs or groups where students from the Manaiakalani schools work with those students who weren't as lucky to be exposed to that incredible program. Great work! Do you have an update on possible plans to close the gaps?

Post #6

The blog on manaiakalani living local learning global was about how three different occasions had led her to think of the SAMR model. Once when reviewing data about their first year moving to technology use that incorporated ALL teachers and students, not just teacher leaders and volunteers. Second when an old friend asked for advise on how to engage hard to shift teachers (her advise was showing them a Google Docs application that will convert a picture of a document into a workable text document). Third was when she and a group of teachers visited other locations considered "Modern learning environments" but some of these spaces intended for collaborative groupings were set up as traditional rooms.
I had to research SAMR to understand the context of the post. Moving from a traditional classroom to a technology based classroom can be done using this model:


Substitution to Augmentation
Aumentation to Modificaiton
Modification to Redefinition

This is the first model I have been exposed to in how to implement the change of becoming a technology based classroom and I also learned about a new Google Docs feature that will be helpful at home and at work.This is the first 21 Century Skills model I have encountered.  The interactive model gives real examples for each ladder rung and is a helpful tool. I have learned two new things today because of this blog. Thank you for sharing! 

Post #7

The blog on manaiakalani living local learning global was about an annual conference called Nethui, which consists of an open forum of people who have vested interests in the internet in New Zealand. The principal from Tamaki School gave the keynote address about ReTooling School. His speech include these five things that must happen in order for schools to move into a 21st century technology based learning school:

1. A Change Pedagogy Imperative

2. Operationalising of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
3. A new partnership around Schooling
4. Technical Provision
5. Research and Development

My response is below:
I first had to research Nethui, then read the principal's keynote speech. What a wonderful, inspiring message about what can happen when schools, students and communities work together. The speech was concise, and included what is necessary to "ReTool" a school. If the rural community of Tamaki can make the transition, most places should be able to do the same, but it will take community involvement and dedicated educators to make it happen. How long, from idea to implementation did "ReTooling" take?

Post #8

The blog on manaiakalani living local learning global posted on 6/15/2013 titled Next Step: Chromebooks, detailed the recent purchase of the systems 700 Chromebooks, moving away from the ASUS devices originally purchased. Apparently parents sign a 3 year contract to pay on their devices. Some students were upgrading to the Chromebook, some were for new students to the system, but their goal was to move to a 1:1 ratio. Dorothy told of the day the Chromebooks were introduced to the students and they had an 8 minute boot where the students were the first to power them up and login the first time. Dorothy uploaded a video of this activity and it was great to see the kids with the new devices. She spoke of the need to adapt to the new devices and learning environment and spoke of extra storage via Google Cloud.
I responded: Thank you for including the video of the students of the 8 minute boot! The kids looks so excited to use a new device. The extra storage that Google Cloud provides removes some of the restrictions you would find in the classroom otherwise. Google seems to have been an invaluable partner in your school's transformation. How many years did it take to completely reach 1:1?     

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week #11 Assignment- Information at Your Fingertips!

Whoa! Too Much Information
Where do I even start to search the internet for information about my class topics? I have a research paper to write but need credible sources. I really need to find a one-stop shop for information before I have a hard reboot and lose my mind trying to sort through the mess!

The Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) is a repository of information from online databases including e-books, online encyclopedias, magazines, journals and newspaper articles. It is FREE to use for all Alabama residents and for you parents, it is SAFE for your children to use. From elementary through college students, and adults looking for career information, the AVL has a solution for you!

Please view my short introductory video aimed at college students searching for information about education topics:

On another note, just how much information is "out there"? I enjoyed reading this article about how much information is on the internet. Astonishing! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PBL #1 and #2 - Google Site

My project based learning assignments are posted to My Google Site

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

The title of this video is misleading, on purpose. As I watched Randy's last lecture, knowing he has a terminal illness, I began reflecting on my own life. What did I learn about teaching and learning from his lecture? Teaching and learning is everywhere at every moment. The most important things in life aren't things, but the people who are in your life. Although we think of teaching and learning as perhaps, instructor and student in the formal sense, we are all teachers of something to someone and we can all learn something from everyone. This video is about how you lead your life. Have fun, work hard, be open and dream big. Nothing is impossible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Role of Questioning in the Classroom

confused guy
I have answers to the question of questions in a classroom. Why is questioning important? What kinds of questions should be asked? How do you know if it is a good question? How do we use questions to benefit our students?

The use of questions in a classroom is important because it can help teachers check for understanding, promote active participation and challenge deeper understanding. Body language is a good indicator of knowing when a student is struggling, but what if you just can't tell? Asking the student to answer a question whether one-on-one or within a group setting can provide the teacher information to determine if the student understands the material.  But not just any kind of question will do.  What do you think will be the response will be when you ask your student in front of the class, "Susie, do you understand?" More likely than not, Susie will nod her head to say yes even when she doesn't have a clue about the lesson. Susie will not embarrass herself by offering "no". But if you ask a question that requires elaboration (open-ended), Susie doesn't have the option of giving you either a yes or no answer (closed-ended question).

Open ended questions provide much more information than closed questions, but in what way should I ask questions in my classroom to get the most participation?  Questions can be the difference between active participation and passive participation. The use of overhead, direct, and redirected questions are helpful.  Overhead questions are designed to stimulate group thought and can be posed to the entire group.  The teacher should wait for a volunteer (silence is not the enemy), rephrase the question if necessary, then call on a student if no one answers. Direct questions are designed to check individual learning.  They work best if you say the name of the student, pause, then ask.  The pause will gain their attention and allow them to focus. It will also give the instructor a way to involve all students (even the shy ones), not just the "smart" kids that tend to raise their hand at every turn. Relay questions are my favorite. When a student asks a question, the teacher relays the question back to the group, or to another individual student. If Susie asks a question, I would turn to the group and ask for a response.

students raising hands
Active participation will only happen when students feel safe answering questions and have positive experiences with questioning. Teachers should properly manage responses to encourage continued participation by providing positive feedback for correct answers, and addressing partially correct answers in the same manner, but being sure to let the student know gently, that there may be more, such as "that's really close, do you have something more you can add?".  Partially correct answers could be redirected to the class such as "that's a good point. Does anyone have another point to add?".
Incorrect answer should also be address carefully by acknowledging the effort first, then providing clarification. Another way to make students feel safe answering questions in class is to build their confidence, using small steps. If you know a student is shy about answering, ask them a question that you know they will give the correct answer. Little by little, as their confidence builds, step up to the next level on Bloom's taxonomy. Their progress may surprise you!

Increasing the level of difficulty of question as it reals to Bloom's taxonomy will probe for deeper understanding of the material.  Questions that begin with how and why or asking students to compare or contrast concepts or ideas or even further, evaluate what is given will force students to think critically. Use of questioning also promotes discussion which leads to an introduction of different ideas and viewpoints that students would otherwise not consider. 

Finally, you know you have mastered the use of questioning as a teaching tool when you can teach an entire days lesson by simply asking questions. Begin with the end in mind. Write down the questions  and answers you want the students to arrive at in the conversation and use your awesome facilitation skills to drive the group to where you want them to go!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Project #3 Presentation - Project Based Learning and ACCRS

The Only Constant in Education is Change

Pain of Change Quote
I will attempt to discuss the way teaching has changed from what I experienced as a student, as a result of the use of technology as tools and the current focus on problem, project or challenged based learning.  These changes in education are being implemented as a result of the ACCRS (Alabama College and Career Ready Standards).  I say “attempt” because I have not personally been a part of this new approach to teaching or have been exposed to the ACCRS because I have not taught in the public school for 16 years.  So, the opinion I am providing is largely based on the experiences of others and my own research. Since I was a high school math teacher, I first turned to actually reading the “Common Core” standards and found this statement about teaching mathematics: “In the middle grades and high school, effective mathematics teachers plan relevant classroom activities such as projects and problem-solving situations that require active participation by all students and help them make important connections between mathematics and their personal lives.” How is this statement relevant?

My little brother would have said, “Finally, school makes sense to me!”  He was a creative kind of kid who loved discovering new things and craved the use of technology. His first question about math especially, was always, “when will I ever use this?”  By the time he reached middle school his motivation to perform in school was waning and by high school his motivation to even show up for school was completely gone.  Although I believe all students can benefit by the integration of technology and implementation of project/challenged based learning, he was one of those kids I truly believe would have stayed in school and flourished.  Instead he was another high school dropout studying for his GED.  Don’t get me wrong; students with GEDs can become productive members of society and find success and happiness on whatever path they choose to take, but let’s talk about the potential that is lost through students who are not engaged in their own learning.

1950s elementary school room
I cannot recall one single moment in elementary school when I was asked to collaborate with other students to complete a project in order to enhance learning.  In middle school, our projects were always for extra credit on some topic we had already covered in class using traditional teaching techniques.  I can only really recall using problem solving and project based learning twice in high school: once in junior trigonometry and once in senior English (thank goodness because As I Lay Dying was a difficult read for me).  There were a handful of my classmates that never made it to high school, and even more that didn’t graduate.  I knew a few of those dropouts personally and they were smart people, just not interested in sitting in classes all day listening to a teacher lecture about this or that.  There were FAR more interesting things to do.  What would have happened to those students if they were engaged in the learning process?  What if they were asked to be creative and take the lead on developing a project or solving a complex problem while working with other students?  What if they were asked to evaluate other students work and provide input on how they could improve?

Anthony Capps may have an answer to these questions.  As I watched the assigned videos with Anthony and Dr. Strange, one part of their discussion really stuck with me.  Anthony described outside visitors in his classroom asking him about his project based learning.  Anthony posed the question to the kids and ALL of their hands went up!  They were ALL engaged in their own learning and WANTED to share that information with perfect strangers.  Had that question been posed in my third grade class, and if the teacher was inclined to allow us to answer, there would have been maybe the customary 1 or 2 teacher’s pets speak up and tell the visitors what they wanted to hear (to please Mrs. SoandSo of course).

Critical Thinking Skills
Much of what was taught when I was in school was learned through rote memory and most did not require critical thinking or reasoning skills.  How do you even teach a Geometry or Physics class without hands-on projects or requiring complex problem-solving?  I’ll tell you how.  Teach procedures and make those the focus most of the assessments.  How did I make it through college math courses?  The same way.  How do we as teachers who were taught using these methods change the approach so that the next generations develop those critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving skills?  We use technology as a tool to help students develop research, writing, creative thinking and problem solving skills and we teachers should share information with one another!  And not just the success, but the failures as well.  Unlike our teenage years, I’m sure most of us welcome the opportunity to learn from other’s mistakes!  And it’s okay to ask questions about what works and what doesn’t.

Speaking of questions, I still have a few about project based learning and still so many when it comes to the ACCRS.  How do you effectively assess individual learning during a project? I still question some of the methods that are being used to teach elementary school math and language.  Why have we made long division so difficult?  I am not a fan of constructivism.  I still feel education standards have been lowered over the last 100 years.  I question why (although I know why - it’s an easy and quick way of compiling metrics) we focus on multiple choice or similar assessment strategies when this does not demonstrate critical thinking skills.  As Anthony said in one of his videos, plan with the end in mind.  What do we expect of our students in the end?  An example of an exit test from 1910 clearly asks students open ended questions which require students to formulate thought and express those answers in the form of composition. (Exit Test for 8th graders).

Isn’t that what we all really want from our students?  Baldwin County is heading in the right direction, providing the tools (iCurio, Discovery Ed, MacBook’s) and the teacher training.  How do we convince other local districts to follow the same path? 

Project Based Learning

I believe, if applied correctly, and consistently, project/problem/challenged based learning can achieve these result in conjunction with some tried and true traditional teaching strategies, like drills for factual information.

I still hope for the future of education.