Thursday, March 31, 2011

YouTube - Early U.S. rocket and space launch failures and explosion

To quote Mybuster's Adam "Failure is ALWAYS an option!"
Without some failure, we would never learn anything. :o)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blog Assignment 9

1:1 Student and TeacherImage by Wonderlane via FlickrThe following paragraph is my reaction as I read Mr. McClung's blog post describing what he learned from his first year of teaching.

“Listen to Your Students You may be the only person that does.” Wow! What powerful words. I’ve always known that I wanted to help students learn and achieve their wildest dreams, and I know that many don’t have ideal home situations. These words just reminded me that teaching is so much more. How many times has the “quite” kid been written off as shy or just forgotten and in reality they want to share and engage, but are afraid, not shy. Although bullying is a concern, how many times has the class bully or even class clown, been sent to the principal’s office when they are generally acting out for attention or because they think violence is normal since that is all they see at home. The most valuable advice to me--communicate with your fellow teachers. Being in your own “world” most of the day, teaching how you see best, I can imagine it is easier to dismiss teachers you do not agree with or even get to know teachers who could have valuable lessons for you. My first (albeit, short) teaching job allowed me a slightly unique (for Alabama anyhow) situation of collaborative teaching at the high school level. I learned a lot from the 60+ combined years of experience from the two teachers with which I collaborated with on a daily basis.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Independent Project

The following video describes a pilot program that allowed eight students to learn independently. The eight students were allowed to choose topics that interested them, learn about them, conduct experiments, write papers, and then each Friday teach their fellow classmates what they learned. I would have given almost anything to attend a school like this, even now. The young man in the red shirt, Sam Levin, initiated the program. All of the students benefited from the program from the information given in the video, but the young man in the Cookie Monster hat, really touched my idealistic teacher's heart. Listen to his story closely. Even if schools can not implement a program exactly like this one, how many children could be reached by allowing students to have more control of their learning and asking them to think critically about things which interest them rather than "conveyor belt" learning?

Thanks to Frank Noschese for sharing this link.

Summary 2 for C4K #4-6

Topography of New Zealand.Image via WikipediaWaata

I actually commented on two of Waata's posts. The first one was about the earthquake that hit New Zealand. He did a good job reporting what had happened and people's reaction to the destruction. I asked him how close he lived to the quake site and how he felt about everything, but at last check had not received a response. When I went to check on time, I found he had posted an new blog about killer bees. Since I am a science teacher and highly allergic to bees, I commented on his new post as well. I told him what a great job he did explaining what "killer" bees are, and asked if they were a problem in New Zealand since they are here in the U.S.


Hijira made an acrostic poem. Although I like reading some poetry, I have never been a big fan of poetry, so I did not know what an acrostic poem was. After a little research, I could not figure out the message in Hijira's poem, so I asked her. I still have not received a response as of my last check.


Alivia wrote about wanting to meet Ben Carson. He is a premiere pediatric neurosurgeon whose life story is told in the movie "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story." I asked her if she wanted to be a neurosurgeon, and if she had see the movie as of yet.

All of my students were from the same school in New Zealand, PT England School.
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Blog Assignment 8

Mark TwainCover of Mark Twain"This is How We Dream"
I think Richard Miller is spot on with his description of how writing has changed. We have discussed several examples in this class on how technology is impacting pedagogies and student learning. Even the generation to which I belong knows not a world without computers, even if personal computers were not in our homes as they are now when we were children. I wrote a blog last month lamenting the demise of physical libraries and physical books for virtual libraries and electronic books.
Miller takes us on a short journey of how technology has changed writing. He lists many incremental changes: from pen and paper to desktops, information is not just from your local library but global information is available to all, collaboration capabilities with more than just text, but also images and videos, instantaneous updates in both visual, auditory and text based information. “Ideas do not belong to us individual, but they belong to us as a culture.” He sees a future where assignments are completed by online production programs instead of word processors. Now, people are using the web itself to compose. One man has created aggregating bots that use the web itself to create. For example, it can search all of the blogs posted that day to determine where the happiest city in the world is that day. Pretty cool stuff, I think.
The best part of the videos, in my opinion, is “the dream.” He lists four parts to his dream: “spaces that foster collaborative learning, inspiring teachers of new media composing, ubiquitous composing technology, pedagogies that foster creativity and collaboration.” Collaboration really is key for not only teachers but students as well. I have one concern with collaboration because it has happened to me on several occasions; one person doing all the work and everyone receives equal credit. Of course there are ways around this, but teachers will have to be diligent.
I have found so many sites that will be useful for teaching Biology. In many ways technology will improve the ability for students to learn. Not only are there videos and up-to-date information, but programs that allow for the students to draw their own diagrams and convert their raw data into useable information. If my students have access to computers, then without a doubt they will be able to collaborate, to create with more than a word processor, and to use and create information that is instantly updated and globally shared.

The Chipper Series and EDM310 for Dummies
The message of the Chipper series is to not procrastinate. Something I am terrible at doing! I try, I really do, but despite my best efforts to be organized and focused, my ADD eventually wins out and I put things off until the last minute, or worse, until they are late like this blog post. A second message from the video might be that we all must follow the rules no matter how much we disagree with them. The EDM310 for Dummies video was kind of silly, but the message was simple: do not get overwhelmed by EDM310, just ask for help or find a manual.
I have tried to think of videos I would like to make, but really I am not quite sure. I think recording short lectures on subject matter I am teaching would be great. I have read a few teachers who are doing this to allow their students to listen as they need so that they can use classroom time for collaboration and projects.

Learn to Change, Change to Learn
“It’s the death of education, but it’s the dawn of learning.” This last sentence reminds me so much of one of my favorite quotes, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education” by Mark Twain. Yes, there are some differences between the two, but I think the general concept is the same. We have become so focused on measuring a standard that we have left out legitimate learning as a society. I think several good arguments were made in the video about excluding technology in schools. One man said something about being connected in “nearly now.” Through EDM310 I have learned that social media can be used in many positive ways to foster real learning and not “burp back education.” Our world is changing and if schools do not change with it then our children will not be as prepared for the workforce they will face as adults.

"The Secret Powers of Time" and "Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us"
The Secret Powers of Time by Philip Zambardo describes six types of time zones people: two kinds each based in the past, present or future. He believes we are all born as Hedonistic present people and based on our culture, religion, etc. we either stay that way or become based in one of the other five times. Past time based people focus on either just the positive times or just the negative times. Present time based people are either Hedonistic, meaning they seek pleasure and avoid pain, or do not see the point in preparing for the future because their lives are fated. Future time people are the ones who have learned how to work hard and avoid temptation or whose religion believes that life does not really begin until after death. He makes a great point about schools being boring, uncontrolled by the students and passive. These are things we do need to change if we hope to really have students learning. They must be engaged, somewhat in control of their own education, and active.

Dan Pink stated that we are actually motivated more by autonomy, mastery and purpose. This does make sense, but I am not sure that enough money still does not outweigh these. For me personally, I know that I chose teaching over the option of more money in the private industry because I do feel a sense of fulfillment as a teacher. However, my Daddy always pushed me to change my career plans to something that made more money. I do not doubt Pink’s research, but I do wonder if there is a significant difference in how men and women choose careers.
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Skype Interview with Frank Noschese

I really want to take a moment and thank Mr. Frank Noschese! He was a wonderful interviewee and very gracious when technology failed me after our first interview. I found the topics covered in these two videos, pseudoteaching and teaching science/math, to be relevant to me as a science teacher, but believe non-science/math teachers will find it just as relevant. Frank makes a statement at one point about real teaching will be "minds-on vs. hands-on." This has now been added to my vocabulary just as Dr. Strange's "burp back education" term has been! I apologize for the background noise as this was recorded at my school's computer lab where 3 other ladies where working on their Skype interview projects as well. I hope you enjoy!

Also, a thank you belongs to Allie as well! Thanks for guiding me on the Mac!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Using Windows Speech Recognition

Windows logoImage via Wikipedia
I am writing this blog post using windows speech recognition. It is not easy, but it is fun. You must learn the correct commands in order for the program to understand what you're asking it to do. You must speak in a clear and somewhat slow manner so that the program understands the word you want to use. The program learns as you correct it. Correcting the errors in the program helps it learn your speech pattern. I think it will be much easier to use this program once I learn all of the commands, at least the more common ones. I have Windows 7 and the software comes preinstalled. Since I've struggled with spelling, if I am able to increase the speed at which I dictate my thoughts this might be a great program for me to use. Of course, if the program does not recognize the word I want to use the and I might have problems spelling the word I need. I found out about the windows speech recognition program by reading another blog SpeEdChange by Ira David Socol. Mr. Socol points out that using dictation tools such as Windows Speech Recognition and Dragon can help students to struggle in spelling be able to still write without so much stress.
I have found several flaws in the program. The most frustrating is if you introduce a new word to the program and try to save the word into the program without first inserting what you have written then what you have dictated will be lost. Another issue I have found may be one that is specific to my computer. If something pops up all my computer, say an updater, then everything I had dictated will also be lost. However, I do see how this program could be lots of fun and very helpful helping struggling students work on becoming better writers.  Other than the HTML code which I used to link Mr. Socol'S blog, I have written this entire post by using the speech recognition software. However, it has taken me about 35 minutes to do so. I am hoping to continue working with this for a little while longer to see if I can speed up the process. It takes work, but having tendinitis in trouble spelling I think it will be worth the effort.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog Assignment 7

The poster for Pausch's "The Last Lecture...Image via WikipediaI have viewed this YouTube video, the DVD, and read his book several times. I actually owned the book until recently. I even made my class watch this YouTube video last fall. I believe Randy Pausch’s story caught everyone’s attention because he was dying, but his message is amazing without that.
There are so many wonderful bits of information in this video. SO MANY! I think my favorite, or rather the one that affects me most as a teacher is “When you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore that means they gave up.” I think it is important to remind your students that what you are asking them to do is for their benefit, especially when it is something that is difficult. The best teachers I ever had were the ones most of us liked the least. It was not because of their personality that we disliked them, but because they made us work! One I remember most was my ninth grade English teacher, Ms. Foster. She made us copy the MLA grammar rules…all of them! Everyone hated her for this, but I scored the highest possible on the ACT the following year. Teachers who push their students will produce the best results as long as they give them the tools they need as well.

My first teaching job was for an alternative school. The students were 17-21 year old dropouts who had decided to come back and get their high school diploma, but they were too old to return to regular high schools. They had all of these notions of what they could not do. It was sad how many of them had no dreams beyond getting their diploma to get a low wage job. Of course, with most of them having children already, money was important, but it still broke my heart they had no substantial dreams. The bulk of his lecture is about achieving dreams and what we can learn while achieving them. It is hard to achieve a dream if you do not have one though. I am not sure what happened in their schools or homes so that they could no longer dream. How long had people been shattering their dreams?

I love that he remembers others. It seems in our society people often get caught up in our own needs and desires that it is easy to forget those around us. Fulfilling the dreams of others, or helping them fulfill them is a noble goal. As teachers perhaps this is something we work towards daily on a grand scheme. It is rare though to see the fruits of our labors when it comes to seeing a student’s long-term dreams achieved. However, focusing on seeing them accomplish short term goals are just as important and hopefully fulfilling. The only thing more important is encouraging their dreams and goals by giving them the tools they need to succeed regardless of changes to their dreams. Most often students will not see the value of what they are learning until much later in life, just as Dr. Pausch did not realize all he was learning from football as a child.

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Project 11

Saturday, March 5, 2011

PLN Update

I would say more than any other project for this class, I spend most of my time working on my PLN. This is mostly because the 15 minutes I am supposed to spend on Twitter a day leads to 2-3 hours a day reading links to blogs, articles and videos. I have read about 1/3 of the links for this project. I have checked out sites such as Symbaloo, Delicious, Diigo, and Google reader for combining and storing my favorite websites and posts.

Here Comes ScienceImage via Wikipedia
I am following over 100 educators on twitter. However, I know I will eventually unfollow a few even though they are good educators. I am adding more science and secondary educators since I want to teach high school science. There are exceptions to this funneling process though. Educators who talk about more than their specific discipline most of the time will remain on my PLN. Some of these who I already know I want to keep in my network are those like William Chamberlin, Bill Genereux, and Josh Stumpenhorst, to name just a few. I even hope to keep some of my classmates, who I have begun following.    

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
 I have found so many wonderful things clicking on the links posted on Twitter. There are so many applications and websites set up for teachers that I had no idea about. Of course I have subscribed to blogs that I find myself visiting 3 or more times because of the wonderful content found there. Every educator's blog I have encountered so far seems to be committed to honest but positive responses to their daily teaching experiences and those issues pertinent to all educators. My favorite feature by far on Twitter so far is hash tags! #scichat has changed my world! I know that is a little intense, but in my personal world, I am the only science person, and definitely the only science teacher. It is difficult to find ways to incorporate the cool, but not science friendly things my mainly English and Social Studies teacher friends have found. 

Image representing Google Reader as depicted i...Image via CrunchBaseSymbaloo is one of the recommended sites under the PLN project list, and it is fun, colorful and organized. All great things, but I just have not found an easy or quick way to add my favorite sites. I am not overly excited about Delicious, but perhaps I just have not given it enough time yet. Diigo seems to be used quite a bit by educators on Twitter so far. I have only looked at it once or twice and plan on trying it out more. At this point, I mostly use Google reader and good old bookmarking.    

I am not sure honestly how I am doing on my PLN compared to where I am expected to be. I feel like I am doing okay on making connections and finding great resources. I feel like I am learning a lot from great educators, and I hope I can keep my network growing and going long after EDM310 is over.  
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Friday, March 4, 2011

Comments for Teachers Summary 2

Hale Library                                  Image via WikipediaThe educator I followed this month was Bill Genereux, who is an Assistant Professor of Computer Systems Technology at Kansas State University at Salina. He teaches things I know little of: web development, networking, computer programming and digital media technologies. However, I found his blog insightful and very pertinent to my life as an educator in general. Both of the blogs I commented on had to do with technology in a teacher’s life.

Image via Bill Genereux
The first blog spoke about being “unfriended” on Facebook for advising a fellow teacher friend that although he saw nothing wrong with the pictures she had posted holding an adult beverage, there was a Georgia teacher fighting for her job after being let go by her school for nearly the same exact photo. After warning her of the dangers, her response was to “chew (him) out and unfriend (him.)” The actual point of the blog was not this unnecessary unfriending, but that what we post on-line, even with “private” settings can still be found and affect us. Even after being unfriended, Mr. Genereux was able to find the photo of this teacher drinking and included it in his post. He advocated for schools to find a happy-medium between schools telling teachers to avoid Facebook and teachers adding and becoming too friendly with their students on Facebook, although he admitted “I think we are all still sorting things out.” Finally, he included this video, which I thought was “just plain cool.”

My response to this blog, which asked at the end, “Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you experienced disconnects in your online communications between what was meant and what was understood? How are you addressing the impact of technology on your life and your profession?” is as follows:

Wow. It’s so interesting that I was assigned your blog for my EDM310 C4T this week. I just had a similar conversation with my biology professor tonight. He said he does not add any of his students or youth group kids to his Facebook because it is too easy to let lines blur as you become less professional with your students. One of my friends who moved to Texas to teach took her Facebook page down because her school district “highly recommended” it. I agree completely that it is too easy to say “too much.” Although I agree some districts do take it too far as with the example of the teacher losing her job because of a Facebook photo, teachers should be held to some degree of professionalism. I do my best to limit my Facebook page to family and people I have actually been more than acquaintances with at some point. I am also trying to reserve my Twitter account for professional network building since EDM310 requires us to use it for such. Thanks for sharing this post, and the video, which was just plan cool. I hope the young teacher wises up before it is too late for her and she is like the Georgia teacher.
In the second post I commented on, Mr. Genereux spoke about a retiring Kansas school teacher who was recorded by a student of him and another student in an altercation. He brings up two main points: 1) “Teachers from previous generations have operated under the assumption that a classroom is a pretty private place, but that is no longer a realistic assumption.” 2) I believe that when schools ban cell phones, ban social media, and ban sites like YouTube, it helps create an environment ripe for stories such as this.” Again, while he did not condone the teacher’s actions, he felt the school was also partially to blame due to their electronic device policy. He talks about how if the schools and teachers were not so against technology in the classroom then perhaps events like this would not happen. Not only would the teachers be less likely to lose their cool, but students would be less likely to misbehave knowing their actions are being seen as well. In this case, he states the student’s provocation of the teacher was not shown. Not to mention, schools need to incorporate technology regardless. Teachers can use this incorporation to teach students appropriate use and etiquette of technology. My response to his post follows:

Mr. Genereux:
It is sad that this teacher is so close to retirement and now will have nothing if he was just having an off day. One of my friends working on her student teaching complained on facebook yesterday about unruly students and her frustration with how to discipline them. I do not know the answer. I mostly tried pulling the student aside and speaking to them about how I wanted to help them not make their life more difficult and how them fighting me did not help. However, this only helped about half of the time. That being said, I have thought about setting up a camcorder of some sort for mine and my students’ benefit. It definitely would keep me on my toes as a teacher. I hope it would also keep my students on their best behavior. Another benefit would be the ability to upload the day’s class so that absent students could view it so they would not have to miss anything. I am not certain what MCPSS’s policy is on this (if I ever get a job with them), but I think there could be a lot of benefits. Of course, I have concerns about doing such a thing with editing capabilities. I know the majority of the time things are blown way out of proportion due to “selective showing” of coverage by media. As you pointed out, the student was out of line here as well, but very few non-teachers will think of this I’m sure.
I have one more legitimate concern with allowing cellphone use by students. Texting. When I was teaching in an alternative school, I spent more time asking students to put away their cellphones because they were texting and not paying attention to their work than any other disciplinary issue. I am not against using technology in the classroom, and even allowed students who were capable of doing their work while listening to iPods or mp3 players to do so. I tried implementing videos and other devices into my lectures until the higher ups deemed I could not bring my laptop into the class. Texting is the only problem I ever had with having technology in the classroom. I just do not know how to get around this without banning cellphone use. Do you have this issue? How do you propose we allow cellphones without this distraction?
I have throughly enjoyed being assigned to your blog. You always have great insight to the problems facing educators and school systems. Your blog is now part of my PLN!
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