Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Journal #9: First graders with iPads?

Getting, S., & Swainey, K. (2012). First graders with ipads?. Learning & leading with technology, 40(1), 24-27. Retrieved from www.iste.org/Store/Product.aspx?ID=2515

Summary: This article talked about how two teachers from Minnesota decided to give their first-graders iPads with hopes to improve student reading and improve their digital skills. The students were grouped based on their ability. The iPads served a number of purposes. For instance, students would record themselves reading a story, then would swap their iPad with a fellow classmate so they could listen along. There were also different apps that were used to improve reading and vocabulary, such as Sight Words, Talking Tom, and Glow Draw. However, using the iPads did cause a few problems in the classroom. These problems included, but were not limited to, cost, noisy apps, and time constraints. However, in the end, these teachers concluded that iPads truly make a positive difference in student learning.

Question 1: Would I use the iPad in my classroom?

I would only use the iPad in my classroom for grades 3 and above. Although I think iPads can benefit students of all ages, I think it is too risky to introduce such young children to this type of technology. Children who are this young are more prone to damaging the iPad. Furthermore, I feel like younger children would see the iPad as more of a toy rather than a learning device.

Question 2: How would I go about using the iPad in my classroom?

I would find useful apps for every subject and download them onto the iPads. These apps would not be meant to teach a full lesson, but to supplement one. They would most likely be used after a lesson was already taught. For instance, if I taught a vocabulary lesson, I could have my students go on freerice.com to test their vocabulary range. I could also use tools like Google Earth or Cosmographia to provide more in depth information with what I am teaching about.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Journal #8: Adaptive Technology

Augmentative and alternative communication is a type of communication device that those with disabilities/speech impairments use to communicate. After searching on Diigo, I found a low-tech AAC device called "talk time cards." Each card has a spot to slot a picture into, as well as a device to record on. "Talk time cards" can be used just like regular flashcards, only they have a recorded voice/sound that will assist the student in their learning needs. Teachers can work with their students individually or in small groups while using these flashcards. One way teachers can utilize this in the classroom is by showing the student the card and only using the recording as a hint if they get stuck. 

A high-tech AAC device I found was called "Allora." "Allora" looks like a miniature hand-held computer. To use this device, you type your message into the system, which is then read aloud by an automated voice. "Allora" also has a word-prediction feature that is used to predict the next word in a sentence.This tool can be very useful to use in the classroom, especially for students who cannot speak. It provides them with a voice, which opens up so many educational opportunities. For instance, it gives them the opportunity to participate in class discussions. It also lets them express their knowledge in such a way that was limited/nonexistent in the past.

Input devices for people with special needs are devices that help physically or mentally handicapped people use the computer or a computer-related device. An example of a software input device is an on-screen keyboard, which is essentially a virtual keyboard. This can be very useful to use in the class with students who have limited mobility and may not be able to use a keyboard. It may also as an alternative keyboard to increase the speed at which a student types. 

                                                                            An example of a hardware input device is the TetraMouse TM05. This is a device that has dual joysticks that can be manipulated by the mouth or tongue. The TetraMouse can be used as an alternative to the traditional mouse in the classroom. It can be used for students who have little to no hand and/or head movement. The TetraMouse gives students a way to use a computer, even when their bodies may not be physically able to do so.

 Follow my other classmates blogs about AAC advices!
Mike I.
Melanie H.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Journal #7: Personal Learning Network

A personal learning network (PLN) is a compiled network of people or digital resources that you interact with to gain and/or share knowledge. PLN's can range from family to teachers to Internet, with the most common being Internet. Examples of my PLN's include, but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, PLN, School 2.0, and Diigo. As seen in these websites, PLN's have sections where you can write your own statuses, share links, comment on someone's page, and engage in instant messaging. These features will be very helpful to me as an educator; not only will they let me investigate and discover educational resources, they will also allow me to receive feedback on any educational ideas of my own. Furthermore, I find that they are great resources to get advice from when I feel like I need it

Although I do not use Twitter very often, I find that it will be a great tool when I enter the credential program and start my student teaching. I will be able to get support and advice from those I am currently following (my classmates and professor), as they will be going through the same credential program as me. Furthermore, I find that Twitter is a great way to start networking and making connections. In fact, I have recently started following Arne Duncan (US Secretary of Education), John T. Spencer (author of Journal 6 article), Discovery Education, US Department of Education, and Emil Ahangarzadeh (follower of Professor Heil). Each one of these people/groups are good to follow because they have already established themselves in the educational arena and are experts of the field. Furthermore, it will be great to hear different perspectives on education, especially when they are coming from those who are so well qualified.

On Weds, August 1st at 5 pm, I participated in the New Teacher Chat, and thought it was pretty cool. There were many different people participating, and tweets just kept coming and coming! The facilitator a few questions based on the topic of "designing your own classrooms." I did not participate in these questions because I was more interested in reading what others had to say. The responses came so quickly; it was pretty exciting reading everyone's responses! Everyone had such insightful answers. 

Diigo is a great networking resource, especially for education. By using Diigo, I am able to tag articles and resources that I find relevant to my life. However, I find that the greatest benefit of Diigo is being able to follow others. Following others lets me learn about different resources that I may have not been previously aware of; it lets me expand my knowledge, especially in the field of education. In fact, I am currently following Professor Heil and a few of his followers: Susan Glassett, Domenica Pearl, Joel Garcia, Steve Dembo, Tim Heck, and Tom Whitby. The reason I chose these people is because I am still new to the field and people of education; I do not have many connections, so I figured that the people my professor follows are probably pretty well established in their field. Furthermore, several of these people are professors or teachers or principles. Following people who work in the same field that I want to go into can be a great way for me to gain access to resources that I can probably use myself. Using Diigo, I tagged the following under the heading "PLN": School 2.0, The Educator's PLN, The Innovative Educator: 5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network, and Creating a Personal Learning Network With Web 2.0 Tools, Everything ESL: The K-12 ESL Resource, Art Education 2.0: Using New Technology in Art Classrooms, and The Ultimate Guide to Using iPads in the Classroom. The first few were tagged as PLN because they are about how to use and build your PLN. These are all resources to help me expand and develop my PLN in the future. The next few tags were tagged as PLN because they are articles I found very interesting. Each one talks about a fairly controversial subject. In my opinion, it is always good to hear different perspectives, especially before I decide to develop my own opinion on the controversy.

I joined "The Educator's PLN" and watched "A Vision of K-12 Students Today". This short film featured children of all different ages. None of them spoke a word, but they each held up a sign with a message they wanted to say. The video was about how most teachers do not incorporate technology into learning, and yet students spend so much time a week on the computer, iPad, iPod, cell phone, internet, etc. Further into the video, it talked about how teachers need to use technology in the classroom because most students can relate to technology and feel relatively comfortable with it. In my opinion, this video is spot-on. Students nowadays are interested in different things then they were 5, 10, or 20 years ago; they are interested in technology. In my opinion, the best way for a teacher to effectively reach out to her students is by incorporating students' interests and familiarities into the classroom. Students who are having fun learning are more engaged in the material and will grasp the concepts better. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Journal #6: Ten reasons to get rid of homework

Spencer, J. (2011, September 19). Education rethink. Retrieved from http://www.educationrethink.com/2011/09/ten-reasons-to-get-rid-of-homework-and.html  

Summary: Spencer's "Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework" talks about how homework does more harm than good to a child's educational experience. Spencer is a teacher who has not assigned homework for years; a teacher who believes in self-discovery and learning on one's own terms. In this article, he gives ten reasons to get rid of homework. For instance, he explains how children of all ages are busy and have lots on their minds; whether they have play-time or work, it can be very hard for them to fit in homework to their schedule. He also suggests that homework can demotivate students because it is an involuntary activity. Spencer goes on to describe how homework doesn’t raise achievement, causes bad working habits, etc.  Further into the article, Spencer suggests five alternatives to homework. He says that learning happens naturally when it is done on a child's terms, such as skateboarding. He also suggests that activities like charity work and photography can increase learning because they are done on a voluntary basis. 

Question 1: What are some downfalls of this "no homework" method? 

Answer: In my opinion, in order for a student to fully understand a concept, he or she needs to repeat an activity multiple times to get the hang of it. This activity should be spread throughout the day (not all done at once) for maximum understanding. Since students cannot focus on just one subject at school, they need to have time to reminisce on what they learned and practice any new skills they acquired. Because of these reasons, having no homework could actually backfire against a student. Furthermore, there are many children who run out of things to do during the day. When this happens, they often find alternate activities, such as video games or TV, to keep them busy. However, these activities often have no benefit on the child.
Question 2: Would I consider using the no-homework method in my class?

Answer: I like and agree with many aspects of the no homework method. However, there are some downfalls to this method (see above) that prevent me from wanting to adopt this method. Rather than no homework, I could see myself assigning more fun and meaningful work. For instance, I could have my students write an essay about a topic of their own choice. I could ask them to visit a museum. I could have them make a scientific model using household objects. In my opinion, there are endless alternatives to the typical pen-and-paper style of homework.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Journal #4: "Join the flock!" and "Learning & leading with technology"

Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock!. Learning & leading with technology, 37(8), 12-15. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-and-leading/issues/Join_the_Flock.aspx

McClintock, S. (2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning & leading with technology, 37(8), 14-17. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/...and.../June_July_2010_Join_the_Flock.sflb.ashx 

Summary: Ferguson's "Join the flock" talks about the importance of personal learning networks (PLN). Personal learning networks are places where people can share their resources and build interpersonal relationships with one another. These resources are often some sort of link (e.g. journal article, web page, blog, etc) and can be very educational. As mentioned in this article, Twitter is a popular PLN that can be a very useful tool, especially for educators. Ferguson mentions that you can find people of interest to "follow;" this is a feature that allows you to keep track of their newsfeed posts. Doing such gives you the opportunity to make connections and develop relationships with people all across the world. It also lets you explore and discover any resources that others may have made public. For example, if you are following the tweets of a famous educator, they may post a journal article that is of interest to you, and you may be able to adopt this as a resource to use in your class. Ferguson also mentions that posting your own Tweets, or "exposing yourself," can be a good way to get feedback and criticism from others.

McClintock's "Enhance your twitter experience" also talks about the importance of PLN's for teachers.  This article talks about how you should start to expose yourself in Twitter by sharing your ideas, which can be done by tweeting links. McClintock also suggests using hashtags in your tweets. By doing such, your tweet will become visible to educators who can provide comments and/or feedback on what you posted. Further in the article, McClintock suggests using TweetDeck  or Hootsuite as a way to manage and organize your social networks. She goes on to list benefits of such programs. However, one such benefit of using these programs is that they organize your social networks into personalized lists of people you wish to "follow" on a regular basis.

Question 1: Would I use Twitter in my classroom?

I would not use Twitter in my classroom, especially since I plan on teaching elementary school. I think Twitter is a great resource, when it is used properly. For instance, it can be very beneficial to anyone who is looking to network and make connections. However, when people start using it for pure pleasure, it can become very distracting. Furthermore, I feel like my students would see Twitter more as nothing more than a social website; it could become a major distraction.

Question 2: What are some positive and negative aspects about using Twitter as a networking tool?

As mentioned above, Twitter is a great place for exploration and discovery. There is so much information and knowledge available on the web; it is just a matter of finding it. Furthermore, Twitter is a great way to make connections with others. However, Twitter does have some negative aspects, too. Although I do not know much about such issues, I feel like Twitter could be a place where false information is published. This can range anywhere from false facts to gossip. There are also issues of piracy and copyright theft.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Journal #3: Upside down and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning

Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning. Learning & leading with technology, 39(8), 12-14. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-and-leading/issues/Upside_Down_and_Inside_Out.aspx

Summary: “Upside down and inside out” talks about a new method to teaching, the “flipped classroom.” It specifically talks about a Calculus 1 class from Minnesota. Instead of teaching a lesson to an entire class, the teacher pre-records her lessons for her students to watch at home; this frees up time to answer more specific questions that the students may have. When students come to class, they complete in-class problems and take daily quizzes to ensure understanding of the material, which can be taken independently or in groups. One of the ways they took quizzes was with a clicker, which gives teachers immediate feedback of their students’ understanding of the material. This article also talks about how students have more freedom in the classroom, such as listening to music and working where they desire. This is mostly because they do not have to focus on a lecturer. Furthermore, certain studies have found that the flipped classroom actually improves student test scores. Not only did students perform better on classroom tests, they also tested significantly higher on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment. Other subjects, such as History and English, have also started adopting the “flipped classroom” approach by using digital curriculum and e-portfolios.

Question 1: Could the flipped classroom realistically be implemented in most classrooms?

Answer: In my opinion, the flipped classroom could work very well in honors and AP classes. However, it may be hard to implement anywhere else. Students in honors and AP classes are generally very motivated; most of the time, they do not have to be prompted to do homework or study. However, not all students have such a strong work ethic; many procrastinate and fail to do their homework all together. If this were to happen in a flipped classroom, it would be much easier to fall behind than it is in a regular classroom, due to the fact that students would be missing out on many lessons/lectures.
Question 2:  Is the flipped classroom realistic for all ages?

Answer: In my opinion, the flipped classroom is only realistic for middle school and beyond. Elementary school students simply do not have the attention span and work ethic needed to complete these lessons at home; they need a teacher present to guide them and answer any questions they may have. Furthermore, teaching elementary students is much more effective when lessons are creative and hands-on. Unfortunately, this creativity and hands-on aspect is much harder to achieve when done in a virtual manner.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Journal #2: School 2.0

Technology Self-Assessment: School 2.0
NETS-2 Module: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

I chose this standard because as a future teacher, I know I will always be longing for useful tools and resources that I can use to help me devise and implement effective lessons. Fortunately, the link that is attached to this standard provides many different useful resources for teachers, students, and parents to use. This tool is called the "Technology Toolkit for UDL in all Classrooms," and the links it provides all pertain to technology in education. For instance, some of the links are tools for math, while others are meant for literacy. Examples of math tools included online graphing calculators and math dictionaries, while there were e-books in the literacy link. After reviewing the "Technology Toolkit," I realized that that there are many different free tools available at everyone's disposal. This is very beneficial to the modern teacher because it helps with effective and creative lesson planning. The "Technology Toolkit" also provides resources for everyone regardless of educational status and level. For instance, a third grader may choose to use the "math dictionary" link, while a high-school Calculus student may use the "derivative" link. And lastly, teachers can use this toolkit to tailor their lessons to the specific needs of the class they are teaching.