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!

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