Sunday, July 29, 2012

Digital Story

For my digital story I used imovie. It was a fun, but sometimes challenging process. I like the music I picked, but the track fades pretty early and I could not figure out how to manipulate the tracks so that the silent pause in between loops would not happen. I really liked experimenting with this tool and making the video. It gave me a lot of ideas for making videos for different lessons in class. I don't know that I would use my video with my students, since there is a lot of reading and they are in 4th grade, but now that I have the tools and some experience fiddling around with them, I could easily create an introductory digital story about myself to share with them.  Overall it was a fun and informative process! I hope you enjoy this little video about my dance life! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reaction - 5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class

I really like this article. I know in class we have discussed allowing students to use their cell phone and how it would be beneficial, but there was still a part of me that was hesitant, I think I just immediately envision worst case scenario abuse of the privilege - I know, not the right approach. I think the impending reality of having my own class for the first time and reading about classroom management had me thinking about materials management, and the vision of a room full of 9 and 10 year olds with their cell phones out was a little overwhelming.

However, this article brought me back to the positive reality of the benefits of cell phone usage in the classroom. It's true, todays students will be living and working in a world where their work will involve the application of smartphone technology. As teachers we are responsible for preparing them for their future, and that means exposing them to the technology they will need in the future and allowing them to create and experiment with it.

I think the point about tight budgets and the latest technology not always being available.  It might not always be available to each student in the form of smartphone either. One way of incorporating cell phones without having students who do not own smart phones or whose parents maybe do not allow them to have cell phones would be to have the students work in groups using one smart phone per group.

I love the points made on #3-

"We need to get used to the fact that kids don't need to know "stuff" nearly as much as they need to learn to use that "stuff."  Tests of recall don't prepare our students for the world ahead.  Kids know this - it's why they think school is irrelevant. "

"Policies that ban cell phones because students might text each other are short-sighted.  As Kevin Honeycutt is fond of saying, 'Students used to pass notes on paper.  We never banned paper.' "

These are great points that say it all. #3 actually really swayed any apprehensions I had about cell phone use in the classroom and how important their role in learning today actually is.

We do need to teach responsible ways to use cell phones to students. Shielding them from using them is not "keeping them safe" it is preventing them from learning opportunities that will benefit them in their future. If students learned how to utilize the technology they hold in their phone they would be able to do more productive things with it - beyond calling and texting and using social media to share every breath they take/food they eat.

As a big time HP fan, I LOVED the tie in from the book about the students not being allowed to use their wands! What a great connection!

This reaction was to the blog post

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bridge Year

Open Education's blog entry by Thomas, Taking a Gap or Bridge Year – A Growing Trend, was a great read. I really support this idea. I don't think that just because a student has completed high school, that they are ready for college. Many students enter college with no real idea of what career they would like to pursue and pick a major based on something they think might be interesting/fun/ or provide them with a desirable income. Some are just not mature enough. There is nothing wrong with taking a year to gain some meaningful life experience! I bet a person who takes a year and works their tush off or spends time volunteering in areas they think they might be interested in pursuing as career paths will go into their college studies with more drive and commitment than most students who just go because it's the next step.

Life experience sure showed me a career path I had no idea I would be so passionate about when I was in undergrad. I'm thankful all the time that I found the passion I have have for teaching through life experience, and I'm positive that more people would find careers they loved if they took some time to have life experience before attending college.

PowerPoint Is Evil

Edward Tufte certainly shares his opinion on PowerPoint in his article, PowerPoint Is Evil.

I felt like I was reading a personal rant by the author instead of a well-thought (and well written) piece. I did not like the fact that he used the word, "damn" in his writing - it wasn't necessary as it was not crucial to the writing,and it did nothing to strengthen his argument.

I also find it rude that he compared PowerPoint presentations to school plays, stating that they are, "very loud, very slow, and very simple". Students work hard on their school plays- this statement was uncalled for.

About his actual feeling on PowerPoint...this seems like a personal problem. Maybe he has been forced to sit through some painful powerpoint presentations. If the software is being used properly (as a visual and written support for oral presentations) then the speaking taking place during the presentation should make up the bulk of the material, while the writing and visuals included in the PP provide supportive and appropriate visuals and notation. 

As far as PowerPoints in classrooms...the teacher needs to be sure to model effective and ineffective examples of PowerPoint slides so that the students have an idea of what they should be creating. Expectations (maybe provided through rubrics) should be clear and attainable. I don't think it is a bad idea to have the students write an essay, but present their writing through a PowerPoint that they are still writing, and also incorporating a digital display to share their work through. Of course they could use another platform other than PowerPoint if they wanted.

Common Sense Media Lesson Plan

Lesson: Choosing a Search Site (grades 4-5)

This is a lesson that helps students identify good search engines to use based on specific features of the search engines. 

The students work in pairs or groups to explore search sites designed for children. They are supplied with handouts that provide them with checklists, search engines to explore, and questions that are to be answered individually, but also to be discussed with the group members/partner. After exploring and listing the features of the search engines students determine the features that make up a good search site.

The three sites the students explore through the lesson are Yahoo! Kids ®: Kids ®:, and KidsClick! ®:

The students use the search engines and assess/analyze them through a series of guided questions on the handouts

While the students work in pairs or groups, the class does take time to come together for discussions on what they are observing and finding with the search engine activity.

The lesson is concluded with a series of questions to be posed to the students by the teacher. There are also homework/extension activities that ask the students to search for topics or answers to questions using search engines (a web address to a site with a list of approved search engines is provided). 

I like this lesson a lot. I did a lesson with 6th graders on how to search for topics on the internet, but I did not do one on search engines they could use (I had provided the search engine they would all use for this particular project). 

I think that including a lesson like this in my unit would have helped them with their research searches a great deal. This is definitely something I would incorporate into a future unit. This is a lesson that gives the students tools to use in their learning beyond the immediate project/task they are working on!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Screenr Podcast

Molly and I created a flipped scenario podcast using screener. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012