Sunday, May 1, 2011

Special Metaphor Assignment: (Blog Post #14)

page with a lot of metaphors listed

Okay, so obviously most of the class completely missed the metaphor used in the blog post Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home. I was one of the many who missed the metaphor. While I can't tell you why most of the class missed the metaphor, I can do my best to explain my I missed it. To be honest, I did not even start on the assignment where we were supposed to read this post until 11:00 the night it was due. I was in such a hurry to make sure I got the assignment done I did not really put much thought in to what I was reading. When I read over the post now, I can't believe that I did not see how the pencils were meant to be talking about computers. I mean, I am in a computer based class after all. I know that my reason for missing the metaphor is no excuse, and I should have taken more time for my assignment. Since this big mess up I have been trying not to procrastinate with my assignments. I have been doing a little better and hope only to improve.

Since being asked to keep a log of metaphors, I have been amazed at how often they are used everyday. I few that I have heard are "It's raining cats and dogs", "You can't have your cake and eat it too", "crocodile tears", and "That person is just a bad egg." These are just a few of the many metaphors that I encountered everyday. Since it was so easy to spot all of these metaphors, I should have had no reason to miss the one in the blog post. It is clear how important metaphors are in today's society.

Since metaphors are so important, it is our job as educators to make sure that our students will be able to spot and understand them in everyday language. One of the things that we can do is to make sure we use metaphors with our students. Give them several examples of how they are used in casual conversations, as well as in the literary world. Another thing we can do is to encourage students to come up with their own metaphors. This will reiterate the importance of the metaphor and get students to do some critical thinking. We must do what we can to make sure our students don't go through life missing all the metaphors, much as we missed the metaphor about computers in the blog post.

So, why are metaphors so important? Metaphors make us think. Instead of coming right out and saying something, people use metaphors. This makes the person who hears the metaphor truly think about what the other person is saying. Metaphors also make language more interesting. Would you rather hear someone say "It sure is raining hard outside" or "It's raining cats and dogs out there!" I think we can all agree! What ever reason that you use metaphors, they are clearly important and we must try and understand them.

PLN: Final Progress Report

screenshot of Jenna's Symbaloo account

This is a screenshot of my account with Symbaloo. This is the center of my PLN, I have most of the websites that I use on a daily basis available here. As you can see, my most used sites occupy the first two lines. The sites that I use most often are Google, YouTube, my blog page, the EDM310 blog page, Twitter, and my gmail account. I have also added some more educational sites that I have found to be quite interesting. Some of the most interesting ones are Classroom 2.0, ALEX, Education Place, and Enchanted Learning. I know that all of the sites will be vital during my, hopefully, many years of teaching. I have also been able to follow some truly amazing teachers through Twitter. While I still have a hard time following Twitter, I do find it to be a great way to keep in touch with people from around the world and hear what they are thinking. Twitter has also been a great place to get ideas for videos to watch and websites to visit. I hope to continue to find more teachers to follow and learn from.

I know that my PLN will continue to grow over my entire career and I can't wait to see what it will be like in a few years. I am really glad that one of the requirements in EDM310 is to create a PLN, I think they are invaluable to all educators. What a great way to continue learning from other educators! Once again, this has been a wonderful experience and I can't wait to see where this adventure takes me!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

C4T#4 Summary Post

Keeping Kids First

kids sitting in a circle reading a book

For this C4T's assignment, I was assigned the blog page "Keeping Kids First." Kelly Hines is the author of this blog. She is a fourth grade teacher in Washington, North Carolina. The blog that I commented on was Read Across America Day. In this post, Kelly talks about Read Across America Day (March 2), which celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday. In order to celebrate this day, Kelly decided to allow her students to "read across America." She did this by inviting classes from around the U.S. to join in by Skype to talk about, and read, their favorite books.

The response was astounding! Several classes were interested and Kelly set up intervals of thirty minutes to talk to each class. The next thing Kelly did was to get her students prepared. She helped her "tudents to prepare for their conversations with writing book talks, practicing read-alouds and honing our skills on being respectful listeners." "Over the course of the day, we shared favorite books with Dan Callahan and Sarah Hayes’ class in Burlington, MA. Eric Biederbeck’s 6th grade class in Essex, Vermont read us a favorite picture book, Bigger, Better, Best, that tied into our current study of Geometry. We read a favorite Cherokee cultural story, The First Strawberries, to a third grade class in Verona, New Jersey. A high school class in Sterling, Kansas, led by Carol Prather and Dean Mantz, even read a few of their favorite books to us." Here is what I had to say in response:

Hey Kelly, my name is Jenna and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am taking Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class in which we get to comment on other teacher’s blogs. I was assigned to follow your blog and a summary of my comments will be posted to my blog by May 1.
First of all, let me say thank you for allowing me to follow and comment on your blog and congratulations on the addition to your family! I think your idea of using Skype to allow students to talk with other classes from around the U.S. is amazing! What at great way to celebrate such a wonderful day as Read Across America. Keeping students interested in reading is a wonderful way of assuring a lifetime of learning. What better way to get students interested in reading, then allowing them to use technology to reach people from other classes. It seems like you are doing a great job of introducing technology into the classroom. Keep up the great work and I look forward to using this idea in my classroom!

The Sum of the Parts

Since I commented on the only recent post left by Kelly Hines for the last part of this assignment, I had to go further back to find a post to comment on. The last post that Kelly left was from November and it was titled "The Sum of the Parts." In this post, Kelly talks about having to temporarily take a break from part of her PLN. As part of her PLN, Kelly has a group of friends and colleagues that she does a group chat with. She knew she would miss talking to the group as a whole, but she still planned to keep in contact with them individually.

What Kelly did not plan on is how much she would learn during her break. While Kelly did keep in contact with most of her group individually, it was not the same without the group dynamic. For the first time Kelly realized that “The value of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Kelly saw that ealized that "the power of this group wasn’t in the individuals that composed it. It was in the collaboration that stemmed from the group interaction." This is truly what a PLN is all about. Here is what I had to say in response to her post:

Hey Kelly, my name is Jenna Baxter and I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I was assigned to read and comment on your blog and my summary will be posted to my blog.
Let me say that reading about your PLN really helped me understand the whole concept behind establishing a PLN as an educator. Another assignment in Dr. Strange’s class was for us to create our own PLN. I know see how important they are and want to strive to make my PLN just as instrumental in my life, as yours seems to be in your life. I liked how you said that the collaboration between your group members is what made the conversation so important. What people can do as a group has so much more impact than someone working alone. Thanks again for the great post!

paper cut out of people holding hands

Project #16: Final Project

This project was a collaborative effort with Kenneth Nelson, Ashleigh Skelton, Miranda Tidikis, Jennifer Hackney, Kristan Steele, and Jenna Baxter. In this video we talk about the importance of using the EDM 310 lab.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog Assignment 13


screen shot of the Alabama Learning Exchange homepage

The Alabama Learning Exchange(ALEX) is just one of many web sites geared to help teachers and students alike. When you get to the home page of ALEX you see several hyper-links that you can click on: Courses of Study, Web Sites, Lesson Plans, Search, Personal Workspace, Professional Learning, Podcast Treasury, and ALEXville. I will give you a little insight to what you will find when you click on these hyper-links. Then I will give my opinion on how well I think these tools will help in the classroom.

The first two hyper-links that I will discuss are "Courses of Study" and "Lesson Plans." The "Courses of Study" link allows you to select a subject and see the content standards for said course. After clicking on a subject, you select a grade level and you are given the different standards that the students are supposed to learn. I tried this out by selecting the English Language Arts tab and selecting kindergarten. Several standards appeared and I could then click on a specific standard and find lessons plans that fit that standard. The "Lesson Plans" link was much the same. You select a subject, grade level, and then several lesson plans pop up to chose from. ALEX lesson plans and Thinkfinity lesson plans popped up when I entered my criteria.

The next few links that I would like to discuss are the "Web Sites" link, the "Search" link, and the "Podcast Treasury" link. The "Web Sites" link brings you to a page with links to Teacher, Administrator, and Student Web Resources. You can also recommend or search for more related web sites. Clicking on any of these links allows you to find websites for almost everything education related. The "Search" link allows you to search the entire ALEX website for anything you might want to know. The "Podcast Treasury" allows you to find podcasts done by different groups for almost any topic. One of the podcasts that I watched was done by a sixth grader at Evans Elementary School. The podcast was about the accomplishments of Teddy Roosevelt. These are some really great resources for the classroom.

The last links that I want to discuss are the "Personal Workspace", "Professional Learning", and "ALEXville" links. The "Personal Workspace" link allows you to create a login that is used on ALEX. By creating a login, you can store and submit lesson plans and teacher web pages. The "Professional Learning" link allows you to do many things. Some of the things you can do are find out how to learn more about ALEX, look for grants, and gives you additional links to websites where you can find out about "professional development opportunities, teaching and learning tools, the latest news, best practices and more." There are also links that give you more information about using technology in the classroom. The "ALEXville" link allows you "to communicate with your colleagues, keep up with the latest ALEX news, and follow various ALEX Professional Learning Communities." By clicking on one of the "houses" on the page, such as "Learn more about GEMS-U", you can be directed to another webpage with more information on that topic.

I believe the ALEX website will be invaluable in the classroom. This website can answer pretty much any question that a teacher might need to ask. It is also helpful to students as well. I think the most useful links will be the "Lesson Plans" link, the "Professional Learning" link, and the "ALEXville" link. The "Lesson Plans" link can give me great ideas on ways to teach my students, which will be very helpful in my first few years. The "Professional Learning" link will give me access to even more learning opportunities, and the "ALEXville" link will keep me connected to other professional educators from around the world. I look forward to learning more about this site and using it in the future!

Another website that I found quite interesting was the ACCESS website. This is a website that is dedicated to furthering the use of technology in the classroom. Through the ACCESS program, students take web based courses that use highly trained teachers to teach from a distance. They incorporate video conferencing and other tools to help enhance the learning experience. So far the system is doing well and they hope to expand the program to all high schools. This is a great way to keep students interested in learning and offers them better opportunities to succeed. I highly recommend checking out this website. Some other websites that I recommend are the Alabama Department of Education and the Alabama Education website. All of these sites seem like they will be quite helpful in my quest to become an educator.

Monday, April 18, 2011

C4K Summary Post 3

C4K #7
8th grader covers a Weezer song

For this week's C4K's assignment we had the privilege of viewing Mr. McClung's blog page and commenting on his student's work. Mr. McClung is an 8th grade teacher at Woodland Jr. High in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Mr. McClung uses this blog for his social studies and computer applications class. The post that I commented on was a video done at a talent show in which one 8th grade student covered a Wheezer song. Here is what I had to say about the video.

Hey, my name is Jenna Baxter and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. As I am sure you have guessed, I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class and am commenting on this blog for part of my assignment. I will post my response to this blog post in my blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @jennabaxter1988.

First of all, let me say that I am thoroughly impressed with this whole blog page. While I don’t have much experience with blogs, I do believe this is the most organized and informational blog page I have seen. I like how you have the different links for more information about you, your class rules, student work, and class syllabus. Now on to my comment on the talent show video. I watched the video of the 8th grader who covered the Wheezer song. I think this really showed courage because the student was not afraid to get up there and sing a song by himself. I think he did a great job and this song seemed to be something he really enjoyed singing. I also thought his guitar playing was quite good. I have a brother who loves to play guitar so I know how difficult it can be to learn. I hope to continue following your blog and good luck to all of your students! Thank you for letting us view and comment on your students wonderful work!

C4K #8

Week in Review

For this week's C4K, I commented on a blog of 6 year students in Egypt. All of the students are ten and eleven year olds, and they use this blog for their class. The blog that I commented on was a review of what they did the week of March 31. The first thing the student talked about was Trade Day. Trade Day is where two students are given a country and they have to trade with other "countries." They are only given a certain amount of money to trade with. The student that wrote this blog was paired up with KH, and they were Libya. They said they had a hard time keeping all of their money because they had to trade with Mexico and they wanted to buy a lot of things. The next thing that was talked about was the PE class. In the class they are doing what is called a PE Sport Module. They will be learning about football this week and will have a tournament in five weeks. They are going to play against another school and all of the students are very excited! Here is what I had to say in response:

Hey, my name is Jenna and I am an Elementary Education major at the University of South Alabama. I am taking a class called EDM310 in which we get to comment on student's blogs from around the world. This week I was given your blog post to comment on. I will post a summary of your blog along with my comments on my blog by April 24.

I really enjoyed reading this blog post. I like that you have a Trade Day to learn about other countries. Knowing about the world around you is very important. What are some of the things that you got to learn? Also, how are you liking football? Being in the United States, football is very important to us. I am a fan of college football more than professional, but watching any game is exciting. Good luck on your game and I hope you have fun! Thank you for letting me read your blog!

Earth surrounded by kids from around the world

C4K #9

Mrs. Yollis' Class Blog

Mrs. Yollis' blog is quite like Mr. McClung's blog in that it is very educational. I think Mrs. Yollis is doing a great job teaching her students how to use the internet effectively and how to blog effectively. There were several parts of the blog that I enjoyed the best. They were the "Meet Mrs. Yollis" tab, the "Learn HTML code" tab, and the blog posts.

I really enjoyed getting to know Mrs. Yollis. I think it is important for teachers to let their students (and parents) learn a little bit about them. This kind of sharing really builds a strong relationship. It is neat how much Mrs. Yollis gets to travel. She has been all over the world, and has even taught in Spain! I also liked how Mrs. Yollis added links to different web sites in her blog. This really allows anyone who visits her site to learn more about these fascinating topics.

The next thing that I thought was good about Mrs. Yollis' blog was the "HTML" tab and the video about how to comment. Both of these tools are indispensable in the world of blogging. As someone who is new to blogging, Mrs. Yollis' suggestions really helped. By teaching these students these techniques at such early ages, Mrs. Yollis is truly preparing her students for the technological world.

I also liked reading several of the blog posts left by Mrs. Yollis and her class. I thought all of the content was great for the third grade level. The students did really good with their grammar, and really left knowledgeable posts. I especially liked the post talking about Drop Everything And Read Day. I love to read and I think it is great to allow students to pick out any book they like and read it during class for that one day. Opening students to the world of books really allows them to expand their knowledge. I also think it is great that parents and grandparents can comment on the student's blogs. To get a conversation going between the students and their parents is wonderful and really makes the students feel like their voices are being heard.

The post that we were assigned to comment on this week is titled April is Family Blogging Month. This post talked about Mrs. Yollis' efforts to get family members to comment on the student's blogs. Each student had to make a list of family members and then assigned them blogs that fit their interests. Mrs. Yollis encouraged everyone to participate. Here is what I had to say in response to the blog:

Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,

My name is Jenna and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am taking Dr. Strange's EDM310 class and have been assigned to comment on this blog post. First of all, let me say what an honor it is to be able to comment on such a wonderful blog page. I will be leaving a summary of what I thought about this blog, which can be found on my blog.

I think Family Blogging Month is a great idea! It is wonderful to be able to get parents and other family members so involved in their children's learning. I hope to include blogging in my classroom when I become a teacher and would love to do something similar. What made you decide to start Family Blogging Month?

I also wanted to let you know that your blog is truly educational. The video on how to comment and the HTML codes were especially helpful. Good luck in the rest of the school year and keep up the great blogging!

Thanks again,

C4K #10

For this week's C4Ks, I was assigned to Victoria's (a.k.a Miriam) blog post. Miriam is a third grader in Mrs. Yollis' class. She is one of a few students who get to have their own blog page. Her blog page is titled Miriam's Magical Moments. The post that I commented on was titled "Hawaiian Volcanoes."

In her blog, Miriam talked about a trip she took to visit a volcano in Hawaii. She visited a volcano called Kīlauea (kiːlɑːuːˈeɪə). It is one of the most active volcanoes. The first place they went when they arrived at the volcano was the museum. After leaving the museum, they had to hike through the rain forest to get to the volcano. Miriam included a lot of pictures from her trip and also had several links to important websites. Here is what I had to say in response to her blog post.

Volcano Kilauea erupting

Dear Miriam,

I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. Congratulations on being one of the students who gets to have their own blog page! Your blog is really interesting and I loved getting to read some of your posts for my EDM310 assignment.

I thought you did a great job telling about your trip to Hawaii. Was this your first time visiting there? Your talk got me interested in finding out a little more about the volcanoes in Hawaii and a went to to find out more. Did you know that Kīlauea has been continuously erupting since 1983?! Anyway, I liked how you included pictures and links to go along with your post. This really shows that you care about your work.

To answer your questions from the bottom of the post: I have never been to a volcano, but would love to go! I love to explore new places, but I do not get to explore as much as I would like. The only places that I have really been are New York (which was amazing) and Tennessee (which I love!). Thanks for letting me read and comment on your post! A summary of your post, along with my comments, will be available on my blog. Good luck in the rest of your schooling!

Thanks again,

Blog Assignment 12

Blog Post 12 Due 4/17

1. Read the following article, Laptops Completely Replace Books in Manhattan High School written by Adam Balkin of NY1. Do you think this will be how all classrooms are taught in the next few years? How do you feel about the change from textbooks to laptops? What are some of the advantages/disadvantages? Give your answer in two to three paragraphs.

A school without textbooks? Yeah right! That is what I thought before reading the article about the Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in Manhattan. This school, which currently teaches only ninth graders, only uses laptops to do all school work. When the students get to school, they log in to their teacher's webpage, get their assignments, and set straight to work. According to MOUSE Executive Director Carole Wacey, this prepares the students for today's technological world, where they will have to much of their work online.

So, do I think this will catch on to schools all over the nation in the next few years? Of course I do! With the proper training and the financial support, schools all over the U.S can stop using textbooks and start utilizing the internet. The advantages are numerous. Trees will be saved, with no more paper being used. Classes can collaborate with other professionals from around the world through video conferencing. If a student has to miss class, they will no longer be behind. They can still get on the class webpage and do all of their work. Textbooks also need to be updated constantly. These are just a few of the reasons that it is important to integrate technology into the classroom and get rid of textbooks.

There are also some disadvantages. Cost is biggest problem. Can every school afford to buy laptops for their students, or put thirty computers in every classroom? Probably not. Security is yet another issue. Many parents are nervous about their children spending so much time on computers. What if your computer crashes and all of your work is lost?

While these disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages, I think the computers do need to replace the textbooks over time. The disadvantages can be taken care of with a little work and the advantages are too great to ignore. Our students deserve the best education possible, and integrating technology into the classroom will help prepare them for their future careers. Let's do away with textbooks and switch to computers!

two children using a laptop in the classroom

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Project #15: Book Trailer

For this project, I chose to do a book trailer on Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.

Project #16: Progress Report

Since Project 16 is a collaborative project, I have joined with five other students from EDM310 to work on this project. We made sure to get special permission from Dr. Strange since our group had so many members. The six people in our group are Miranda Tidikis, Ashleigh Skelton, Jennifer Hackney, Kenneth Nelson, Kristan Steele, and me (Jenna Baxter). The group decided to go with my idea of creating a video of how beneficial the lab can be in EDM310. We will have one member dress up as Dr. Strange, two members dress up as lab assistants, two people be the students in need of help, and then of course have someone filming. I am really exciting about creating this video and hope that it will be very beneficial to future students in EDM310!

people putting together puzzle pieces that say team work

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Special Assignment 3

Mr. McClung's World

For this special assignment, we got to take an in depth look at Mr.McClung's blog page. Mr. McClung is an eighth grade teacher at Woodland Jr. High in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He teaches social studies, computer application, and coaches cross country. Mr. McClung definitely thinks outside of the box and really cares about his students. He wants to make sure they learn, instead of simply passing his class. Mr. McClung advocates for the use of technology in the classroom, and he believes it can truly help in his student's learning.

Two of the things that Mr. McClung talks about on his post are his expectations and rules for his classes. I loved Mr. McClung's expectations! He encourages his students to come to class full of energy, he expects his students to talk in class, and he also expects everyone to come to class and be ready to listen. This last expectation seems to be the most important to Mr. McClung. He says that anyone can talk, but not everyone can listen. Along with these expectations, he also lists his five class rules. These rules are follow directions quickly, raise your hand for permission to speak, raise your hand for permission to leave your seat, make smart choices, and keep your dear teacher happy. While a few of these rules are common to the classroom, making smart choices and keeping your dear teacher happy are definitely new. The rule about making smart choices shows that Mr. McClung clearly thinks of his students as individuals and wants to make sure they succeed, not only in his classroom, but in life. The last rule seems to make him more relate-able to his students. By throwing in "keep your dear teacher happy," he shows that is okay to have a little fun in the educational system. Everything does not have to be strict and serious all of the time.

Some other interesting things about Mr. McClung's blog are his "Everyone Needs" list and his homework penalties. The first thing listed under "Everyone Needs" is a daily planner. This is clearly important in today's busy world. Teaching students how to stay organized is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Mr. McClung also hopes to teach his students responsibility by keeping strict homework grading policies. I believe the loss of one letter grade per day late is a very reasonable penalty. This is very generous considering he could not accept any late work at all. It is very important to instill a sense of responsibility into these students as early as possible.

Mr. McClung says that his blog is the "vehicle that drives the majority of technology in our classroom." He uses the blog to keep students and parents updated on current assignments, projects, and deadlines on future assignments. I think this is a great idea. This saves both the teacher and the parents a lot of time because with just a few clicks, parents can know exactly what is going on in the classroom. This will cut down on teacher-parent conferences and will be more environmentally friendly. I would like to use a similar system in my classroom when I become a teacher. It will be nice to have everything in one place, instead of being spread out over numerous pages.

While visiting Mr. McClung's blog page, I also went to two sites he had listed under "Useful Links." One of the links that I looked into was the "Plagiarism Checker." This website seems very similar to the Turn it in website that South uses. You simply cut and paste the student's homework or paper into the text box and click "check the paper." The Plagiarism Checker will then give you a line by line detail of anything that may be plagiarized. The website is free to use. The other website that I looked into was Convince Me. This is a website which shows debates on numerous topics. You can read all of the arguments for and against the topic and then you vote on which side you chose. It is a great site to visit in order to see the different sides of a question and can even help you pick a side. I found both of these sites interesting and look forward to visiting them again.

The next thing that I looked at on Mr. McClung's blog was his internet safety rules. I thoroughly agree with all of his rules. With the use of technology in the classroom, comes the added danger of people misusing that technology. We must always strive to keep our students safe, and Mr. McClung clearly does that. I cannot really think of any bases that he did not cover. He talked about everything from not using both your first and last name together, to not responding to threatening emails of messages. I also liked that Mr. McClung added the rules about not meeting with someone you meet over the internet in person. All of his rules seem to keep his students as safe as they can be.

For my C4K's assignment, I commented on a video of a student performing a Wheezer song at the school talent show. This post was categorized under "videos", so I also looked at some of the other videos that were posted. The video I looked at was under the heading "The End is Near." This video was a student talking about the end of the Civil War and the Freedman's Bureau. According to the student, the Freedman's Bureau was a group of volunteers funded by the federal government to deal with the large number of displaced former slaves. There were also more videos under this title that talked about other aspects of the Civil War. I think making these videos really helped the students learn the information.

Mr. McClung's blog post definitely looked different than some of the other blogs that I have seen. I liked how it had a category button in which you could easily narrow down your search. I also liked how it had the different links at the top for the class rules, syllabus, student work, etc. Mr. McClung really does make his blog useful for anyone that visits it including parents, administrators, and students like us. Everything has clear labels and you can find out anything you want to know with a few clicks. If a parent wants to see some of the work their student is doing, all they have to do is click on "Student Work." I also like how Mr. McClung talks a little about himself and what he hopes to accomplish with his blog. Not many other blogs that I have visited really discussed that. I really enjoyed taking an in depth look at this blog!

poster with power teachers manual

Project #14: Teach Someone Something

For this project, I chose to show my friend Morgan how to create a timeline using Timetoast. We created a timeline of her and her husband's life together. This is how it turned out!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blog Assignment 11

Ms. Cassidy's Class

Ms. Cassidy's first grade class in Canada

This video is a must see for all aspiring teachers! Who would have thought that first graders could effectively use technology in the classroom? As someone who wants to teach kindergarten or first grade, I find the information Ms. Cassidy has to offer very important. She really does a great job of introducing these students to blogs, wikis, Skype, and all sorts of other great technology! I thought there would be no way to incorporate what I am learning in EDM310 to a classroom full of students so young. I was clearly wrong.

The thing that I liked most that Ms. Cassidy did with her students was the blogging. As she said, why would students want to write with pencil and paper for one person to see when they can use a blog for hundreds to see. It is very important for students to get feedback on their work and what a great way to do that! I was truly astounded at how well the students did with the blogging also. They seemed as if they were born knowing how to use computers. I find this great because I did not even own a computer until I was in middle school, and did not really use one until high school. In a changing world, it is great to be able to keep our students up to date.

I also liked the use of Skype in the classroom and this is something I would like to incorporate when I become a teacher. Children really like to interact with people from around the world, and what a great way to do that. The possibilities are endless. Your students can talk to authors of their favorite books or other students in another country. This is a great way to keep young students interested in education.

One of the difficulties I may run into when incorporating technology in the classroom is parents disapproving. While Ms. Cassidy said that most of her student's parents were excited about technology being used, I think the ideas may be different here. With all of the recent problems with teachers crossing the line when using technology, parents may be a little harder to convince. If the parents can know that there children will be safe, they may be a bit more open minded. I would do this by using some of the suggestions by Ms. Cassidy. She says that she only uses her students first names and does not let the pictures correspond to the names. This may help comfort some of the unsure parents. Also letting the parents know that the blogs and other tools will only be used for educational purposes is important.

The benefits of using technology in the classroom, even at such a young age, are numerous. First, students are learning how to correctly use computers in order to learn. They no longer see them as just things to play video games on or watch cartoons. Another important benefit is building professional relationships with people around the world. While most people have had pen pals or talked to people from all over through the phone, now you can see these people and know who you are talking to. You can build relationships with other students or teachers, which expands the field of learning. These are just a few of the ways that using technology in the classroom can benefit our students. I truly enjoyed hearing Ms. Cassidy's views on technology in the classroom, and look forward to using them in my classroom!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog Assignment 10

An Open Letter to Educators
Morgan Bayda

blackboard with 'open letter to educators' written on it

After reading Morgan Bayda's blog post and watching Dan Brown's video I can really see where they are coming from with regards to their beliefs of our educational system. Both Morgan and Dan believe that something needs to change in our way of teaching if we expect to prepare our students for today's world. We are stuck in a way of teaching that only presents facts and asks students to regurgitate them. This is not the way to learn.

In Morgan's blog post she compares two classes that she took at her university in Canada. The first type of class Morgan talked about was the typical lecture class in which you sit listening to the professor talk and are not encouraged to participate at all. She says that these classes are hard to stay awake through, much less stay focused on. What does this mean? Is there any real learning going on? Answer: probably not! We can get the same information presented by the professor from the book or internet (and probably with a lot less errors!). The second class Morgan talked about was her computer class. In this class the students were encouraged to collaborate with one another, as well as other sources through their PLN. This type of teaching promotes learning by forcing the student to take initiative and seek out information for themselves. I believe Morgan is trying to say that more of our classes should be taught this way if we expect our students to succeed in today's society, and I agree with her.

In the video Morgan included with her blog post, Dan Brown talks about his problems with our educational system and his decision to drop out of college. Dan talks about the transition of the availability of knowledge over time. He starts with monarchies, in which only a select few people had the opportunity to seek information. He then moves through time and shows how much easier it has become to seek out this information. In today's society if you can afford to go to college you have access to this information, if you can't afford it too bad. This is slowly changing. With the amount of information available through the internet, anyone who can access websites can find nearly all of the information available in the universities. Dan Brown believes that the educational system needs to be changed to reflect this ease of accessing information. Dan also discussed how he sat through the same type of classes as Morgan and did not learn anything he could not find on his own. This is what made him decide to drop out of school: his education was interfering with his learning!

Will all students some day reach this decision? The sad truth is that this may become a reality if our way of teaching does not change. In a world that is constantly changing, education should not be any different. We have had the same system for far too long and something needs to be done. We have all sat in those classrooms where we are asked to simply regurgitate information and we know that this is not the best way to learn. The change starts with us and we must all be ready!

Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home
Tom Johnson

This was quite an interesting blog post. When I first saw the name I had to laugh a little. While the post is humorous, it does have a really good point. Instead of blaming lower test scores on students "taking home pencils", we should be focused on the way we teach them. If students are not performing up to par, maybe we should reevaluate the way we are teaching them. I liked how Tom refused to argue over whether students should take the pencils home. He simply gave facts as to what he believed caused the lower test scores and how he planned on changing them. This is a much better approach to problem solving. I really enjoyed reading this post!

pencils lined up with a picture of a bog drawn on them

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

C4T#3 Post Summary

A GeekyMomma's Blog

The teacher that I had the privilege of commenting on for this round of C4Ts was Lee Kolbert. Lee Kolbert is a teacher in Boca Raton, Florida. She is a very interesting woman and I loved reading her blog. Her interests (according to her blog) include helping educators learn and learning from others. I think this is something we should all take notes on.

Here is what Lee talked about in her first blog: Meetings: Who Owns the Problem?

This blog discussed the issue of meetings in the workplace. Lee started her blog out with a question: "Meeting's make me__________." Here are your choices: a. want to call in sick on meeting days, b. want to stick toothpicks in my eyes, c. understand how people can "go postal", d. feel inspired to work hard towards our common goals and mission. If you pick option d., you truly have something to teach everyone else! Lee then goes on to talk about her struggles with meetings.

Lee says that through her career she has sat in on many meetings and even had to lead several meetings. It is through this that she has formed her opinions on how meetings work (or don't work). Lee believes that basically everyone has the same goals with regards to their school or organization. Everyone wants common goals and a mission, to be understood, to be trusted, and to be treated fairly just to name a few. She then goes on to say that many of the behaviors employees take part in, especially during meetings, tends to take away from achieving these goals. Such behaviors as texting, emailing, whispering, and bad body language take away any benefit from the meetings by distracting the person giving the meeting.

Lee says that since becoming manager her perspective about meetings has definitely changed. She goes on to say that she used to be guilty of some of the very same behaviors listed above, and now she wishes someone would have told her how distracting they can be in a meeting. Lee compares meeting with teachers trying to teach their students. It is very difficult to teach a room full of students when you have any distractions. You can lose your train of thought and not be able to focus on the lesson at hand. This leads Lee to wonder if the people in the meetings or classrooms even care that they are distracting others who want to pay attention? Also, is it the teacher or meeting leader's fault that the presentation was not interesting enough to keep everyone's attention?

Lee ends her blog post by talking about another blog written by Chris Brogan. In his post, Brogan talks about meetings and here are a few of the things that caught Lee's eye. Schedule for brevity- keep your meetings short and only discuss decisions that need to be made. Keep agendas taut- don't try to rush through your last few items because time is short. Table anything that does not fit the format- if it is not on your agenda try to put it off until the next meeting. The last thing Lee says is "I do believe these ideas from Chris would help make meetings more efficient. But, would more efficient meetings really correct the issues with adults behaving poorly?" This is the key point to her whole blog.

Here is what I had to say in response:

Hey my name is Jenna Baxter and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am taking Dr. Strange's class EDM310, and am commenting on your blog as part of an assignment. You can find a summary of your blog with my comments here by April 3. You can also follow me on Twitter @jennabaxter1988. First of all, let me say thank you for allowing me to view and comment on your blog. It really shows how interested you are in advancing the education of others.

I thought your blog post was quite interesting. While I have not been in very many meetings, I can definitely see your point. It is very hard to concentrate on what you are trying to say, especially when no one seems to be paying any attention. You then start to wonder if it is your fault because your presentation was not interesting enough. I don't really think it is the content of the meetings that makes everyone start "multitasking." I think it is the notion of the meeting itself. I know when I hear we are having a meeting at work I instantly dread it, before even finding out what it is about. I believe the word "meeting" has so much stigma attached to it that people often assume they will be boring and want to do something more interesting than paying attention. Good luck in your future meetings and thanks again for allowing me to read your blog!

cat resting his head on a table

The next blog that I commented on in Lee Kolbert's blog was titled "Are You a Good Teacher?". In this blog Lee shows a picture of the Palm Beach County Teacher of the Year Award winner, Kristen Rulison. In the back ground of the picture you see a bulletin board that lists the FCAT skills. This leads Lee to two questions: What does this say about the things our district is forcing our "good" teachers to teach? and at what/whose expense? and What is our district's criteria for "good" teaching? Finally Lee asks, "Are you a good teacher?"

Here is what I had to say in response to Lee's blog:

This is Jenna again from EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. This is the second blog that I will comment on for my assignment. My summary will be posted by April 3 on my blog. Once again, thanks for letting me follow your blog.

This blog post brings up an excellent question: What is a good teacher? While I may not be a teacher yet, I do have my opinions. I believe a good teacher stands up for her students and tries to always put their needs first. Good teachers are willing to put in the extra hours necessary to make sure their students succeed. Also, good teachers think of their students as individuals and not just a name on paper (or computer). We must always remember why we wanted to become teachers: to help children have a better chance at life by giving them the best education possible. I hope to be able to instill these beliefs in my teaching and be the best teacher I can be. Thanks for making me think about what makes a good teacher!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Project #12: Skype Interview

For this project I decided to interview a foreign exchange student from Sweden. Her name is Amanda Sving and she is staying with a friend of mine's family. I asked her questions on her experience through the foreign exchange program. Here is our interview:

Blog Assignment 9

"What I've Learned this Year"

cover of book reading

This blog post chronicles some of the things that Mr. McClung learned in his first year of teaching. Mr.McClung did his first year of teaching at an elementary school in Noel, Missouri. While teaching he says that he learned some very valuable lessons and he uses this blog to share those lessons with fellow educators.

The first lesson that Mr.McClung learned was "how to read the crowd." As new educators, we sometimes focus too much on how our lessons come across to our superiors. Instead, we should be worried about how effective our lessons were on teaching our students. Our lessons should be student centered and we should always be checking for student comprehension.

The next lesson learned is that we must be flexible. You should never expect a perfect lesson, because the truth is that nothing is perfect. Mr. McClung says that during his first year of teaching he often beat himself up if a lesson did not go as he planned. However, now he realizes that things are not going to perfect and that we must make the best of our mistakes (and always with a smile).

Communication is yet another lesson learned. Communication is so important in every aspect of life. We must build a rapport with our fellow educators and make sure we can communicate effectively with our students. Also, communication skills are hard to develop and must be practiced constantly in order to build strong relationships.

Be reasonable; this lesson speaks for itself. We must remember that we are teaching children and while it is great to have expectations, we must not set the bar too high. Students can only do so much and to expect more than they can handle only leads to disappointment for all involved. The students are not perfect and neither are we; we must remember this. As Mr. McClung said, "Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again."

Another lesson Mr. McClung talked about is don't be afraid of technology. Instead of treating computers like they are trying to take over the world, we should embrace their use in the classroom. We can not expect to master everything about computers on the first try, but we must never give up.

The last two lessons Mr. McClung talked about are to listen to your students and never stop learning. Teachers may be the only people to truly listen to what children have to say and it is important that we do. We must build relationships with our students and learn everything we can about them in order to earn their respect in the classroom. Lastly, we must never stop learning. It is never too late to change and we must be willing to adapt. We expect our students to come to school and learn everyday, but many teachers believe they are above learning anything else. This is not the way it should be. As stated by Mr. McClung, "We work in a learning environment, so why not soak up as much as you can? We owe it to our students."

I really enjoyed reading this blog post because I believe it will be quite helpful on my journey to becoming a teacher. Every teacher, and aspiring teacher, should read this blog and keep these things in mind as they enter the classroom. My favorite lesson that Mr. McClung talked about was listening to the students. Often times we are so busy trying to get through a lesson that we don't take time to hear what the students say. We must make time to hear these students out if we ever expect them to take us seriously. I also liked Mr. McClung's quote about dusting our students off after they fail, and encouraging them to try again. Mistakes are a part of everyday life and we must not expect our students to get everything right the first time. Our most important lessons are usually learned through mistakes. I look forward to reading more of Mr. McClung's blog posts and am really grateful to have his lessons learned to look back on as I enter the adventure of teaching!

notebook page saying Welcome: Orientation for New Teachers and Administrators

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

C4K Summary Post 2

C4K #4

In this C4K's assignment, I commented on a fourth grader in Mr. Wolfe's class in Birmingham, Alabama.

This is what was discussed in the blog:

The student (hd2011) apparently was having a craving for chocolate. The student then apparently ate too much chocolate and had a stomach ache. There was also a picture of a chocolate bar and several emoticons were also used.

This is what I had to say in response:

Hey, my name is Jenna and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am majoring in Elementary Education and am taking a class called EDM310 taught by Dr. Strange. One of our assignments in this class is to comment on other kids blogs from around the world. I will comment on your blog and then post a summary on my blog, which can be found by clicking here. The summary should be posted by March 27.

I can tell that you must really like chocolate! I also like chocolate, but I have found that some things are better in moderation. I thought your choices of emoticons were interesting. I also liked the picture of the chocolate bar. It kind of made me want some chocolate. Try not to eat so much chocolate, that way you don’t get a stomach ache! Good luck in school and I really enjoyed reading some of your blog posts!

C4K #5
Tamara's blog

boy standing beside tent

This week I got to comment on a student in Mrs. Toni Nau's room at Pt. England School. This school is in Auckland, New Zealand. The student I was asked to comment on was Tamara, who is a year 8 student in Mrs. Nau's class. The students in this class are amazing! They have done so many projects that I did not even know how to do before this year. This is also their first year being able to use net books in the classroom, which is really exciting.

Here is what Tamara's blog talked about:

Tamara is giving instructions on how to put up a tent. First, she lists all of the equipment that you will need. Then she she gives step by step instructions on how to put the tent up. the first thing you need to do is to unpack your tent and make sure you have all of your equipment. Second, you will take out the inner tent and the fly and lay it on the ground. Third, take out the four pegs you will need for the tent and put away any unneeded equipment. Fourth, you will hammer the the four pegs in at each corner of the tent at a 45 degree angle. Fifth, find the two long poles and clip them on the eyelit of the tent. Sixth, put the fly (cover)on top of the tent and make sure to put the last pole through the tent. Now you are ready to sleep in your tent!

Here is what I had to comment on Tamara's blog:

Hey Tamara, my name is Jenna Baxter and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am taking a class called EDM310, in which I get to comment on other students blogs from around the world. I will comment on your blog and then post a summary to my blog, which can be found by clicking here.

I thought you did a good job of describing some of the basics of setting up a tent. I think your teacher is right that you may have left out some important steps, but you are at a really great starting point! Your instructions were easy to read and could really be helpful for someone trying to put up a tent. I liked how you listed out all of the equipment that was needed. Having everything you need to get the job done is very important! One more thing, make you sure you proof read for any errors in grammar. Keep up the great work on your blog and I really enjoyed reading several of the things you had posted!

Ryan's Blog: Spalding Basketballs

For this week's C4Ks assignment, I commented on Ryan's blog. Ryan is a seventh grader, who loves sports. His favorite sport is basketball and he has several blog posts dedicated to the sport. The blog post that I was assigned to is called "Spalding Basketballs." This blog appears to be a report that Ryan had to do for school and it talks about the history of the Spalding company.

This is what Ryan had to say:

The Spalding company was started in 1876 by Albert and James Spalding. Spalding is a sports company that is known for producing the basketballs used in the NBA and WNBA. The three most interesting things about Spalding are how the company came to be, Albert's past, and what kind of products the company sells.

Albert Spalding is best known for his involvement in baseball- not basketball. Albert was an underhanded pitcher and is the first pitcher to win 200 games. He is part of the Baseball Hall of Fame and retired from the sport in 1877. Before retiring, Albert led Boston to win four consecutive pennants.

The Spalding company was started in 1876 by the two Spalding brothers. They started out making baseballs, but were approached by Dr. James Naismith to create a ball to be used in basketball. This led to the Spalding basketball being named the official ball in the NBA. The technology used in making the basketball has changed over time with the invention of infusion technology and the never-flat technology.

While Spalding is still the official ball used in basketball, the company has sold all of its lines except golf. Golf constitutes 70% of the revenue that Spalding receives, therefore that is were they have put most of their effort.

Here is what I had to say in response:

Hey Ryan, my name is Jenna and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am taking a class called EDM310 in which we get to comment on student’s blogs from around the world. You are the student that I was assigned to this week. I will post a summary of your blog along with my response on my blog by March 27.

First of all, let me say that you are doing a wonderful job on your blog. Everything looks really professional and your blogs are informative. As a sports fan myself, I enjoyed reading your blog about the Spalding basketball. I play softball so I find it interesting that Albert Spalding was a baseball player. You did a great job of giving some interesting facts that I would not have known otherwise. I also did not know that Spalding no longer owns the part of the company that makes the basketballs. Keep up the good work on your blog!!

Spalding basketball

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Assignment 8

This is How We Dream Parts 1 and 2
Richard Miller
This is How We Dream

the cover of Writing at the End of the World

Richard Miller is an English professor at Rutgers University. In these two videos, Miller is showing how the world of writing is changing. In the first video, Miller focuses on the way writing used to be and is still sometimes perceived. You would go to the library to do research when writing a paper. You would then publish the writing in a book or journal, which would most likely just end up in a library. Finally, you would be at the library again to look at these pieces of work. This is how writing was, not how it should be. Miller also shows how technology is slowly changing the way people perceive writing.

In Miller's second video, the writing of the future is key. No longer are essays and papers just filled with words. Now we can add video and audio to them and create truly amazing pieces of work. The internet and use of computers in the humanities opens up a whole new world. When you write something and publish it, it no longer sits in a library waiting for someone. Your work is out there available for everyone, all the time. What's more is that more people will actually be more willing to read about your thoughts and see what you have to say. Miller talks about how three months after publishing these videos on the web, he had nine thousand hits. He also adds that had this just been a print lecture, it would have taken two years to catch on. This truly goes to show that by adding pictures and audio to a piece of work, you really can reach more people.

These videos make me excited about the future of writing. I look forward to doing papers where I can add something besides just words to paper. I also think this way of writing will be great in the classrooms of younger students. The students will be more eager to write when they can make it truly interesting. I hope to get some practice in this type of writing that way I can pass the knowledge on to my future students. The future is looking quite bright and I can't wait to get there!

The Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies

The Chipper series was quite an interesting video. When it first started out I had no clue where it was headed. After the first few clips, though, I caught on pretty fast. What a slippery slope our life can be. One day turning a few assignments in late and the next you are a garbage collector! I think this video did a great job of showing students that being responsible is very important in life. No matter what kind of career you chose, you must always try your best and always be on time. You can no longer only think of yourself and you have to start thinking about the interests of others. I did think the video was a little repetitive, but it did get the point across.

EDM310 for Dummies

I really felt like I connected with this video! For the first few weeks of class I thought I was going to scream. It seemed like so much, but with the lab and the tutorials I managed to get a grip. This video does a great job of showing you how to do better in EDM310. With a little common sense and paying attention this class is not as stressful! The only thing I can think of that would be a good video is showing the importance of attending the lab sessions of EDM310. I know without the lab assistants I would be quite stressed out. The EDM310 for Dummies video did not really stress the use of the lab and the assistants, which is vital for success in this class. Another video idea that I have is to show the importance of being a good group member. Since having to do a few group projects, I think it would be a good idea to show students the rights and wrongs of working in a group. Both of these videos were entertaining and educational!

Learn to Change, Change to Learn
Learn to Change...

This is a video that says that we are teaching our students the wrong way, and we need to do something to change that. One of the people interviewed said that the 21st century is the "death of education and the dawn of learning." He could not be more right. It is time to stop simply teaching our students enough to get them to pass a test, and start teaching them ways they can continue to learn for a lifetime. Being able to pass a standardized test is not going to be able to help our students in the future. Our students future should be what is most important, not passing a test. As stated in the video, students do most of their learning outside of the classroom. Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, or Google, students are seeking out knowledge that is not being taught in the classroom.

Instead of allowing technology to help our students learn, we are banning it from our schools. Why not incorporate the use of all of these sites that students are so familiar with into their everyday learning? This video points out what is wrong with our educational system and gives opinions on how to change it. Maybe we should start listening more closely to how we can change for the better of ourselves and our students.

The Secret Powers of Time
Philip Zimbardo

spiral clock

I really like the way this video was set up. Philip Zimbardo uses cartoon drawings to get his point across about how time can influence every aspect of life. Zimbardo starts out talking about six different time orientations. The first two are past oriented: past positive and past negative. The next two are present oriented: hedonistic and those that say it doesn't pay to plan. The last two are future oriented: those that work instead of play and those that believe that life begins after the death of the mortal body.

Zimbardo then goes on to discuss how being past, present, or future oriented can effect your life. Future oriented people tend to be more successful and harder workers. This has its downfall because these people also tend to put their family and friends on the back burner for success. Also discussed is how much time is spent wasted everyday. We waste time standing in line, sitting at a dentist office, or just having fun. This leads to the discussion of a different pace of life for people in different cultures. Many Americans get mad when they have to wait for their computer to boot up or when waiting for something to download. People that live in this fast-paced life tend to have worst health, which goes to show that time really can effect every aspect of your life.

Zimbardo then goes on to say that we are all born as hedonistic and that it is the school's place to turn us into future oriented people. With the amount of time that students (particularly boys) spend playing video games or with other technology, they are becoming less interested in the way that schools are teaching. Schools teach passively and this is just not the way students are interested in learning. They like things that are hands on and keep them involved. An interesting statistic that Zimbardo gave was that a student drops out of school every nine seconds. This is truly astounding and we must do something to change this. Zimbardo did a great job of showing how we orient ourselves with time can effect every aspect of our lives from birth to adulthood.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
David Pink

In this video David Pink discusses what really motivates us. He starts out saying that we are not as predictable as we once believed. He then gives two topics that he is going to talk about: if you reward something do you get more of the behavior that you want? and if you punish something do you get less of the behavior that you want? Here is what he had to say on these two topics.

Pink uses an experiment that was done a M.I.T to discuss whether rewards get you the behavior you want. As was expected, when the students who were participating in the experiment were asked to do mechanical work to get the reward the end result was this: higher pay, better performance. However, when cognitive abilities were needed the opposite occurred. Higher pay led to lower performance. The rewards did not work! Pink then lists three factors that can lead to better performance in the work place: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy is the desire to be self directed and this is usually taken away in the work place. Pink that it is important to incorporate autonomy in the work place to motivate the workers. Mastery is the urge to get better at something. People will work harder to get better at something if they are motivated. The last thing Pink talks about is purpose. People want to work for a company that has a purpose. All of this boils down to one thing according to Pink: let's start treating people like people instead of better smelling horses!

I really liked this video. As someone that is out there in the working world, I felt I could really relate! I am pretty much allowed to work in my own way as long as all of my work gets done at the end of the day (autonomy). This makes my working experience much more bearable. Working should not always be about the money, you should want to go to work because it is something you enjoy doing. It should not be all about the paycheck, and I think that is what David Pink is trying to say.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Project #13: SMART board Instruction

This project was a collaborative effort by Jenna Baxter, Kelsey Robinson, Kristan Steele, and Woodie Holloway. For our SMART board instruction we taught chose to teach a lesson about the Solar System to fourth graders. We taught the students about each planet and then played a game to reinforce what we had taught. The students then had to go home and take a test. Here are the results from their tests.

As you can see all of the students done a great job! Only one student missed one question. I think this shows that we did a good job of teaching the lesson and asking questions on the test that came from that lesson. The students also were great about participating in the lesson and the review game. I believe the game was instrumental in reinforcing what we taught.

This was my first time using a SMART board so I was quite intimidated! After a few practice runs I felt that I understood how to work the board much better. I believe this is a great tool that can really get the students involved and interested in learning. I also liked using Google forms. This is an easy way to create tests and send them to students. All of the answers from the tests are saved in an easy to read spreadsheet. You can also view the summary of responses as shown above. This way of seeing the results really lets you see how well the students understood the test and lessons. I really enjoyed working on this project and felt like I learned a lot about teaching with the SMART board.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blog Assignment 7

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Last Lecture

I will be honest, when I saw that I was going to have to watch a one hour video I was not too excited. Well now I can definitely say that I have changed my mind. This was a truly inspiring and amazing last lecture. For a man that is dying of cancer to get up there and give such an amazing lecture really astounds me! Randy Pausch did such a great job keeping the audience listening by injecting humor into the lecture that it did not even feel like it was an hour long. I would recommend anyone to watch this video. The main points of Pausch's lecture are his childhood dreams, enabling the childhood dreams of others, lessons learned, and how to get people to help you.

Pausch starts off his lecture by talking about his childhood dreams. His dreams were being in zero gravity, playing in the NFL, authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia, being like Captain Kirk, winning stuffed animals, and being a Disney Imagineer. Pausch got to accomplish all of his childhood dreams except playing in the NFL. While he did not succeed in accomplishing all of his dreams on the first try, with dedication he was able to accomplish them all. Pausch talked about brick walls being there for a reason; they prove who wants things badly enough. I thoroughly agree with this point. If everything in life was given to you, you would never truly appreciate the things you have. Pausch goes on to talk about playing football as a kid. While he never got to play in the NFL, he did have an amazing coach who taught him about fundamentals and the "head fake". The "head fake" is a way of learning indirectly. While the kids play football just for the game, they are really learning about team work, working hard, and practicing. This is a great way for anyone to learn anything. When you make learning fun your students will want to learn more.

The next point that Pausch talks about is enabling the dreams of others. As a professor, Pausch thought that it was important to help his students reach some of their childhood dreams. One way of accomplishing this was by creating the Building Virtual Worlds class. This was a class that consisted of 50 students from around the world who had to come together and work on five projects during a semester. The students were grouped in fours and the groups would change at the end of every project (about two weeks). Another project of Pausch's was the Dream Fulfillment Factory project. Pausch worked on this project with Don Marinelli. This was a 2 year degree program that brought artists and technologists together to work on projects. The curriculum is strictly project based. The ALICE program is yet another project that Pausch worked on. This program teaches student about computer programming through making videos and video games. I believe that helping our students have the tools necessary to reach their dreams should be the goal of all teachers. As educators we are blessed to be able to know the dreams of our students and should do everything in our power to help them reach them.

The third point that Pausch touched on was some lessons he learned on his journey. Pausch talks about how important the roles of parents and mentors are in children's lives. Parents should try to give their kids some freedom and give them room to grow creatively. Parents should also be there to support their children, especially during the hard times. Mentors are also very important in the lives of students. These mentors give the students guidance and help them reach their goals. Some other lessons that Pausch learned include respect authority while questioning it, have fun, never lose the child-like wonder, help others, loyalty is a two way street, and never give up. I believe this lessons are very important. As educators we need to try and reach our students on their level and we must also remember to always question things we are not sure of.

The last thing that Pausch talked about in his lecture was ways to get people to help you. Pausch says you must tell the truth, be earnest, apologize when you screw up, and focus on others, not yourself. These are very important things to know. By doing all of these things you can build relationships with people that may benefit you in the future. Some other things he adds to the end are to get a feedback loop and listen to what is said, always show gratitude, and don't complain, just work harder.

Everything that Pausch discussed in his last lecture is quite relevant to life. It is important to follow your dreams, help others accomplish their dreams, and make sure you learn life's lessons along the way. Pausch was an amazing man who will be greatly missed in the educational world. I was truly glad to have the opportunity to watch his last lecture and blog about it. If you are reading this blog and have not watched the video, I encourage you to do so. It may change your life!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Project #11: Short Movie

For this short movie project I read Curious George to my son, Hunter.

My PLN: 1st Progress Report

To be completely honest, I still do not fully understand the PLN (Personal Learning Network)! So, my first question when I read this assignment was, "What is a PLN?". Here is the answer: a PLN is the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online (

This helped me out; sort of. A website that really helped me to get on the right track was Onceateacher.wordpress. On this website there was an article titled "PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy." This article gave several examples of other websites that would be beneficial in creating a PLN.I have also watched several videos about building a PLN and these have helped me some what. The video done about a seventh grader's PLN was especially useful. I really got a lot of good ideas about what websites to add to my account on Symbaloo. With all of this information, I went to Symbaloo and started creating my PLN. Symbaloo is a great place to start your PLN because it allows you to store all of the websites you need on one page. This is very useful for someone like me who is always short on time. All I have to do is go to Symbaloo's website and everything I need is right there!

Along with adding all of these websites to Symbaloo, I also started following several educators on Twitter. I started to see what they had to say and could carry on conversations with educators all over the world. Talk about being connected! While I am no where near where I want to be with my PLN, I do feel that I am now on the right track and am looking forward to expanding my connections. I know that creating a great PLN will be very beneficial to me, especially once I become a teacher. Because of this, I really want to focus more on this project than I have been previously. Being connected will make all the difference!

man surrounded by networking tools

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

C4T #2

Being the Best Parent in the World
By: Teacher Tom
father and child holding hands

For this comment for teachers assignment, I got to follow Teacher Tom's (Tom Hobson's) blog. In the first blog I read, Teacher Tom discussed the anxiety of motherhood. As a preschool teacher, Teacher Tom says that he sees mothers everyday who are worried about every little detail of their children's lives. Teacher Tom contributes this high anxiety level to years of women being told that they should instinctively be great mothers.

Tom also discussed that girls who grew up having to help out with younger siblings, and learned this "on the job training", were much more confident mothers. In years past, child care was considered women's work. This "women's work" consisted of raising the children, cooking, and housekeeping. With so much work to do it is no wonder the older siblings had to help out. In today's society, Tom compares having the first child to getting a new job. Without much of the experience gained in childhood of having to help raise younger siblings, women today are usually learning everything about motherhood with their first child. Once again, no wonder the anxiety levels and self-doubt are through the roof!

In closing out his blog, Tom says that women's confidence, with regards to parenting, seems to grow as their children get older or when they have multiple children. Tom has purposefully left out fathers in this blog because he believes that men tend not to worry as much about parenting as women do. Tom contributes this to men not being held to hundreds of years of expectations. Teacher Tom also believes that men are "graded" on their parenting skills merely by "effort and earnestness" and that all parents should be graded the same!

Here is what I had to say in response to Tom Hobson's blog:

Hi Teacher Tom, my name is Jenna Baxter. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and majoring in Elementary Education. I am in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class and have been assigned to comment on your blog. I will post a summary of your blog and my comments by March 6 on my class blog, which can be found by clicking here. You can also follow me on twitter @jennabaxter1988.

First of all I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. As a mother of a four year old, I can definitely relate to the anxiety felt by many mothers. Being a woman, I am just supposed to be a perfect mother (something we all know is impossible). When I was growing up, I did not have any younger siblings to take care of. My son really is the guinea pig of my parenting skills. As he has grown older I find myself not freaking out as much as I used too. I have come to the realization that there are going to be ups and downs in parenting, and that I just have to do the best I can. I do also feel that it is important for young girls to be taught some of the skills they will need when they one day become parents. This will hopefully lessen some of their anxiety. As a society, we also need to get away from this belief that women are "born" caretakers and they should be perfect at it. I believe that if you try your best and you show your children that they are loved, then you are a great parent! Thanks again for letting me read your blog! I found it very insightful.

Inventing Us
By Teacher Tom (Tom Hobson)

In this post Hobson discusses the belief that "knowing stuff is the enemy of education." Hobson also discusses that he does not find it gratifying when his students perform a task exactly as he expected them to. Fewer instructions leads to greater creativity. The classroom should be treated like an experiment in which everyone, including the teacher, is learning. Hobson also thinks the classroom should have room for "failure, frustration, and conflict", but also be a place for "wonder, epiphany, and friendship." A quote by Thomas Edison is also provided in the blog: "I didn't fail a thousand times. The lightbulb was an invention with a thousand steps." According to Hobson, this is how the classroom should be. Through thousands of steps we are inventing ourselves. Hobson finishes up his blog by saying that if you find a teacher who has a fail proof plan for educating students, then that teacher is not interested in education. They are interested in "standardization."

Here is what I had to say in response:

Hey, this is Jenna again from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I will have a summary of this blog post along with "Being the Best Parent in the World" available by March 6 on my blog ( I believe you made some very interesting points in this blog post. Too many times teachers want to go right by the rule book and squander any creativity their students have. It is very important that learning be a quest, or as you said an experiment, in which the teacher is continuing to learn with the students.

I also liked how you added the quote by Thomas Edison. Failure is considered such a horrible thing in today's society. We should really be thinking of failure as a time to learn from our mistakes. I also believe that our lives are made up of thousands of steps and we determine which steps we take. I truly enjoyed reading this post and I feel that I am able to take a lot away from it. Thanks for allowing me to follow your blog!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog Assignment 6

The Networked Student
By Wendy Drexler

This video truly shows the schools of tomorrow! Through this video Wendy Drexler gives us an insight to learning in the 21st Century and working with "networked" students. Teachers are no longer there to dole out fact after fact, but they are there to teach their students what they need to know in today's world. Wendy shows a student who, after being taught how to use the internet effectively, strives to learn on his own instead of relying on his teacher to do all of the work for him. How does this student "teach" himself? Read on to find the answer.

This student uses his knowledge of the internet and all it has to offer. I really liked all of the tools that Wendy included on this "networked" student of the 21st century's journey. He used scholarly journals found on Google Scholar, he read blogs posted by people from all around the world, and he used Skype to interview professors from top rated colleges. While these are just a few of the tools shown in the video, I believe they are quite impressive. This student has learned so much about the human psyche and created his own opinions to be shared with the world. All of this done with only a little help from his teacher.

While some people would fear that this type of learning would mean the end of teachers, I believe differently. Teachers will always be needed to give students the guidance necessary to form connections and build networks. I am truly excited about being able to give my students the skills necessary to survive in today's society and become life-long learners. I believe the idea of connectivism that is discussed in the video is important in the learning experience. One can never have enough connections in the world, especially if those connections help in the learning process. I can not wait to see the results of how the middle school students and teachers reacted to this type of learning! While I may not feel completely secure in my abilities to teach the "networked" student right now, I will not quit trying to learn everything I can about technology's role in the classroom. I want to make sure that I give my students the best opportunities I can- in the classroom and in life!

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment

This 7th grader's PLN was really impressive! Everything was very well organized, with all of her school stuff grouped together at the bottom and all of her personal sited at the top. I am inspired to start working harder on my PLN and have got some great ideas on things to add. I also thought that this student was really responsible. Even though she had Facebook and other personal sites on her PLN, she understood that schoolwork comes first. Everything about her PLN looked professional, and I hope with some work mine will be as good as hers.

Why Smartboards are a Dumb Initiative & Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards
By Michael Staton & Bill Farriter

In Michael Staton's "Why Smartboards are a Dumb Initiative", he list two arguments for why he does not like Smartboards. His first argument is that Smartboards don't change the way a teacher teaches their students, it only makes it more expensive to teach. He also goes on to say that Smartboards do not allow for social interaction and allow for adaptive learning.His second argument says that teachers want to buy Smartboards, not for enhancing the way students learn in the classroom, but in order to tell their administrator exactly what they are planning to spend their money on. Staton believes it is just another way for teachers to waste school money, instead of spending that money on really helping the kids.

While Staton had a lot of good points, I found a website that went against many of his points. The website, , had an article titled "Why Use an Interactive Whiteboard? A Baker’s Dozen Reasons!" written by Dr. Mary Ann Bell. In Dr. Bell's article, she lists thirteen reasons for why Smartboards should be used in the classroom. One of her points is that the Smartboards really do get the students to become active in the lesson. Students can work at the board or the computer and change things from suggestions from other students. This work can then be saved and printed for the whole class. The students are no longer sitting bored at their desks, but are able to learn for themselves. Dr. Bell also discusses the cost of the Smartboard. She says that while Smartboards can be expensive, the pay off of being able to use one computer to incorporate the whole class is worth the expense. Dr. Bell gives even more great reasons for why Smartboards should be used in the classroom, and I encourage you to go to her page.

The next article I read was one written by Bill Farriter. In Mr. Farriter's article, he discusses his believe that IWBs are useless in the classroom. He goes on to say that you can do the same lessons with less expensive means and that even with proper instruction on how to use the IWBs, they still show no real use in the classroom. Farriter also believes that schools only incorporate the IWBs into the classroom so they do not seem behind other schools. If a school down the street has an IWB, then we should too!

I do believe that teachers need to be properly trained to use the IWBs and only then will they be effective in the classroom. In Amber Price's article, found by clicking , she discusses how teachers at her school were not to enthused about Smartboards until they learned how to use them. Once learning how to use the Smartboards in the classroom, the possibilities are endless. Price also gives many ways to use the Smartboards in the classroom. You can use the Smartboard for brainstorming and note taking, playing games to get the students involved, using click-and-drag activities, telling fairy tales to preschoolers, using interactive websites, and creating interactive Powerpoints. Amber Price does a great job of showing how beneficial Smartboards can be when teachers are given the right intsruction!