Monthly Archives: February 2013

PLN Activity 4

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Part One: Exploring Twitter: A MicroBlogging Information Tool

Vicki Davis shared an excellent link to an article written by Martha Giffen about the importance of online visibility. She suggests creating your own blog, website, online groups or forums, and a strong social media presence to boost your visibility. The benefits of marking your presence all over the web is so that your prospective workplaces will have a way to find you and get an accurate glimpse of what you’re all about. If you need help with building visibility, simply click here!

Steven W. Anderson is another technological guru, with majority of his tweets relating to tips to make your classroom more up-to-date in the world of technology. In this tweet, he shared a link to an article written by himself about inviting TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) into your classroom. It is an online conference where innovative educators from around the world can bring forth their forward thinking and hopefully give people some great ideas!

What I really love about Shannon Miller’s tweets is that she brings the ideas and projects she implements in her own classroom to the social media world. In this tweet, Shannon shared a really neat way to get students at a young age emerged into the technological possibilities available online. She mentioned that her school held a “Going Google” Day, where students created presentations via Google Docs. I think Google Docs are not only an easy tool for children to learn, but also extremely efficient as they can use one website to share their endless ideas in multiple ways! 🙂

Part Two: What it means to be a citizen of the digital age

Egyptians Demonstrate Digital Citizenship

Steven Balkam’s article paints a picture of modern day Egypt: a society that is moving closer toward web-based activism and people-centric leadership through the powerful use of the web. They’ve used social media such as Twitter and Facebook to organize and carry out protests demanding their rights of free expression and assembly in hopes that their voices will be heard.

I think that this article and what is going on in Egypt right now directly encompasses what it means to be a digital citizen of the 21st century. The people organizing these riots are using their rights to show the rest of the world what ideas and ideals come forth when you take responsibility as a digital citizen. They are using a can of tools to open up the endless possibilities and powers of the internet.

Relating to schools in America, I believe the tools are all there because obviously if other countries are taking advantage of them they exist. However, the education system is not built upon a tree growing endless dollars, and there is certainly not enough money to go around to ensure that all students have access to the same digital resources.

With that being said, I don’t believe our schools are fully prepared to meet the needs of the digital citizen. In my 16 years of schooling, volunteering in different schools, and even working in schools far away from my hometown, I have seen one smart board in a classroom. Not only that, the smart board was rarely even used, as the teacher in that class preferred the chalkboard, instead.

I’m aware that smart boards are not the newest form of technology available for use in the classroom today, but that is the newest form I have ever been exposed to personally. I think future educators need to be educated on the benefits, tools, and innovations at hand when it comes to technology so that they may integrate that into future lesson plans. Only then, we may be able to move students forward in becoming a digital citizen.

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PLN Activity 3

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Temple Grandin discusses how the world needs “visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.” Some of the key points she brought to the table were:

  • You can make a mind more cognitive or social. Autism gets a trade-off between the two.
  • In severe cases of Autism, kids are non-verbal.
  • The world needs these minds for the future.
  • We need to get kids focused on building new things.
  • Teachers should modify instruction for students with Autism based off of their fixation in order to truly motivate them.
  • We need good teachers in the high schools.
  • Mentors are essential.
  • Teachers have to get students turned on by what they’re interested in.

Grandin explores these main ideas while integrating several stories from her own experiences living with Autism. I think what makes this video great is that it emphasizes all of the potential and abilities PWA have rather than their disabilities. As a future educator, I feel it will be extremely important to keep this in mind. This way, I can tailer my lesson plans to the varying needs of my students.

One of the concepts I felt was most useful was that teachers (especially in special education) should find whatever makes students intrigued and use it to their advantage when developing lessons. Personally, I know that this would have helped me in my schooling. Subjects like math and science were exceedingly hard for me to understand because my teachers never showed me substantial reasons as to why they’re important. In fact, these classes were dreadful at best for me to go to. Standardized tests like the ISAT and PSAT just reiterated how terrible I performed in the subject areas. I would receive the scores and they served as a mental reminder that math and science will never be my strong suit.

As Grandin explained, teachers will deal with visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, music/math minds, and verbal minds. All of these have their own strengths and then obviously weaknesses, but it is important to remember that all students are different. Teachers need to be sensitive to what kind of thinkers their students are so they can figure out how each will learn best.

A student who has a music mind may look (or rather sound) like this:

Obviously, these students have something unique to offer the world. Teachers need to find what it is that makes their students shine and most importantly, encourage them.

PLN Activity 2

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http://www.pbs.org/teachers/digitallearners/watch/

This video challenges viewers to move forward in the integration of technology in classroom instruction. There were some exceptional points worth taking into consideration that I will cover in this blog.

The first idea from the video that really caught my eye was the school that uses technology to stimulate learning and also train them to think systematically about abstract concepts. I think that while some may find schools that are heavily based on the use of technology controversial, it is at least an idea worth pondering. Like the video mentioned, if we’re teaching our students today the same ways we taught yesterday, we’re robbing them of tomorrow. Students need exposure to the new forms of technology that are out there so they can make them even better.

While watching this video, I also couldn’t help but think how it was interesting that the technology class i’m currently enrolled in is my first ever class of it’s kind. Before this semester, the only experience i’d had with technology was outside of school.

While some parts of me agree with the idea that students can get too involved with technology to the point of addiction, I think it’d be foolish to completely ignore it with that reasoning. Educators need to remain sensitive to the fact that technology isn’t something that will ever go away. Kids who are interested and intrigued by new gadgets will turn into teenagers who remain intrigued by it’s complexities.

Another idea brought up in the video was the power of collaboration. I am a strong activist for this instructional method because I think it’s the most effective way for students to not only learn new things but also retain the information.

What it all boils down to:

Lectures are not cutting it anymore.

I can speak for majority of the students my age when I say that i’ve been through way too many lectures that turned into reading Facebook profiles. Lectures lose my attention as quickly as they begin. The only reason they still survive in today’s education world is the fact that it’s a cheap method of teaching a large number of students information. 

It’s time to start looking for alternative ways to teach children without sacrificing their attention span. As the video expressed, humans don’t learn from words. We learn best from hands on experiences and real life situations.

Some of the other concepts I felt were worth highlighting were:

  • teaching things through youtube/learning
  • kids teaching other kids
  • learning outside of the school matters for the inside of the school
  • workshops set up as games for teenagers
  • scavenger hunt based around technology and exploring
  • going into community and exploring real world issues

PLN Activity

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First and foremost, I think that Bill Gates brings a plethora of substantial points to the table in his lecture. From his ideology on how to make a “great teacher” to how we can better education in America, Gates provides a lot of useful information to knead out.

The first concept Gates touches base on is the fact that the top 20% of students have gotten a good education and they’ve gone forward to creating new softwares and innovative ideas. However, with time this percentage has gotten weaker as has the balance for overall quality of education in the U.S. Because students all over the country aren’t receiving the same kind of education, this creates an inequality. We need to lessen the disparity amongst schools to ensure that every student is given an equal opportunity.

I think one way we can accomplish this task is by distributing funds equally among schools. Right now, I know that wealthier towns are getting brand new swimming pools while schools in poverty stricken neighborhoods aren’t getting enough money to pay for chalk and erasers. The government needs to find a way to better monitor the way money is distributed amongst schools. I believe that if a school in a poor neighborhood had all the resources they need (up to date computers, school supplies, modern desks, etc.) it would make learning and getting an education more meaningful for the students who attend it.

An article written by Valerie Strauss took the words right out of my mouth: “If it takes a village to raise a child, the same village must share accountability when many children are educationally abandoned.” Clearly, she takes a more local stance on the issue. Strauss expresses that parents, teachers, and political leaders need to “reject long-standing practices that undermine students’ opportunity to learn in the city’s most neglected communities.” She suggests more advocating for genuine reforms, which will assure equitable access to good schools and programs. I think she is exactly right: we cannot choose to abandon our children’s quality of education and simply hope for the best.

To read the full article, go here!

Additionally, it is disheartening to hear all of the statistics he spoke about in regards to high school graduates. Poverty is a problem that I think our society doesn’t take as seriously as it should. Those high school drop outs are America’s future. To think that over 30% of students don’t graduate high school shows that something in the education system is just not working.

“A top-quartile teacher will increase the performance of their class — based on test scores — by over 10 percent in a single year. … That means that if the entire U.S., for two years, had top-quartile teachers, the entire difference between us and Asia would go away.”

I felt that this quote was worth highlighting considering competition with other countries has always been a hot topic for the U.S. Years ago, America had one of the top education systems ranked worldwide. This has obviously changed as today we are constantly trying to readjust our own methods to assimilate to other more prominent systems such as Finland’s.