Monday, November 24, 2014

C4T #4

For my final C4T assignment, I chose to read two posts from Tyler Rice's blog Wisdom Begins With Wonder. In the two posts that I read and commented on, Mr. Rice made some points that I completely agree with. Furthermore, I am very glad that we were able to choose our own C4T this time around. I was able to choose a blog that I was really interested in, and Mr. Rice is the first teacher that has acknowledged my thoughts and responded to my comments.

Wisdom begins in wonder

The first post I read was The Curse of the Standardized Test. In this post, Mr. Rice talks a lot about how the growing focus on standardized testing has changed him. He expresses that he still tries to allow his students to collaborate and engage in real-world learning; on the other hand, he expresses that testing has changed him, and not for the better. In my comment, I told Mr. Rice that I know how testing can change teachers, because I experienced it first-hand when I was in high school. Before the school began to focus so much on testing, I had some very passionate teachers who loved what they did. Once testing came around, however, their spirits were silenced. I told Mr. Rice that I agree that testing limits students and that I do not think that students should be defined solely by their test scores. I also said that I think it is great that he still tries to allow his students to gain real-world experience and that I hope I can do the same for my future students.

The second post I read was You Can't Depend on Your Eyes When Your Imagination is Out of Focus. This post focuses on the fact that the school systems are so concerned with standardized testing and "teaching" that we have forgotten how valuable the knowledge gained from real-life experiences really is. He believes that is time that we stray from standardizing. In my comment, I told him that I completely agree that we are only being taught rather than being allowed to experience at this point. I also agreed that it is time to move away from standardization.

Blog #5 Part 2

I had never heard the term Personal Learning Network (PLN) prior to entering EDM 310, but I am very glad that we learned about them at the beginning of the semester. I began to build my very own PLN a few months ago, and since then, it has grown and changed quite a bit.

I used Symbaloo to start building my PLN. The image below is a screenshot of my Symbaloo page. As you can see, I have collected quite a few websites that I find useful and have made them all available from one source. When I first created my Symbaloo account, almost all of my tiles were websites that interest me rather than websites that would benefit me professionally. Since then, I have created tiles for websites such as Discovery Education, BIE, and several other websites that I think will be useful to me as a future educator. All of the websites that we used frequently in EDM 310, such as Blogger and YouTube, are also included in my PLN. We have used so many different websites and tools that I definitely think will be good to use in my future classroom.

Tiles on Symbaloo

There are quite a few people that I have found to be valuable resources throughout the semester, and I have added them to my PLN as well. Current, college-level educators such as Dr. Strange and Mrs. Gaillard are people that I will definitely include in my PLN. These teachers have so much experience and have access to so much knowledge and so many resources. When I first began to build my PLN, I compiled a list of some of my past teachers that I believe would be valuable assets to my network. I find that lower-level teachers are good to include because they have experience working with the age group that I want to work with one day. I have also come in contact with other teachers during my time as an education major, such as the teacher for my interview movie or the teacher I observed with in EPY 351, that I have added to my network. Furthermore, I have found that there are so many teachers who blog and it is fairly easy to search for them. I think that these teachers, like the ones we have been assigned to for C4T, would be good to keep in mind as well.

I am so glad that we had the opportunity to learn about Personal Learning Networks. I have enjoyed building mine throughout the semester, and I know that it will only grow as I continue on in my journey to becoming an educator.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blog #14

In the article Teaching Can Be a Profession, Joel Klein expresses how he wants to professionalize teaching so that it can be a well-respected career. The article outlines a number of problems with teaching and possible solutions to go with each one. The problems and solutions that Klein talks about are as follows:

Problems & Solutions:

1. Pick from the best: Some teachers today are not the most capable or the most prepared. Those who are trying to become teachers are not being taught nor trained properly. Some solutions include providing better academic training for incoming teachers, finding a new approach to recruiting teachers (recruit from the top third of graduates), and changing how teachers are rewarded.

2. Seniority distraction: Seniority dictates the way schools operate, and all teachers are paid the same and rewarded the same regardless of level of performance. If layoffs have to happen, the most recently hired is usually let go first, even if they are doing the best job. A possible solution to this issue is creating a "national teacher examination" requiring that prospective teachers complete a supervised internship that would last from one to three years.

3. Radical change: There are too many incompetent teachers that need to be removed. Solutions for this problem include establishing standards in order to remove incapable teachers and giving teachers the opportunity to promote based on specialty exams.

Teaching is the profession that creates all other professions

1. Pick from the best:
I agree with Mr. Klein that some teachers are simply not qualified to teach, and I believe that is a result of the requirements (or lack thereof) that are in place to become a teacher. I do not necessarily agree that recruiting solely from the top third of graduates would help anything. I do, however, agree that the given issue could be fixed by improving academic training programs. If students were properly and effectively taught and trained, there would be no need to only recruit the best, because everyone should be at the same level.

2. Seniority distraction:
I definitely think that seniority is an issue in some ways. I have witnessed teachers being removed from schools not because they were incompetent but because they were the most recently hired. Teachers got to keep their jobs because they had taught there for years even though the other teachers were more capable and more effective. I do not think that is right at all. I think that Klein's idea about giving a teacher examination and requiring the supervised internship is good; however, I do not know that it would completely get rid of this issue. They may pass the exam or make it through the internship, but they may not be able to adapt to the ever-changing education system, and they may become incompetent over time. While I do not agree that this solution would be effective, I do think that seniority is a problem, and I think that it needs to be fixed.

3. Radical change:
I completely agree that incompetent teachers need to be removed. I believe that establishing standards is a great way to see who is inadequate. Promoting based on specialty exams is a good idea as well. I think that the possibility of promoting would push teachers to go above and beyond. Klein also states that this could lead to less and less teachers being aided by teaching assistants, which I personally think is a good thing. Although everyone needs help at some point, I agree that most teachers are perfectly capable of running a classroom without help.

This article definitely makes some very good points. Klein listed numerous problems that need to be fixed in order to make teaching a well-respected profession, and I think that most of his solutions would help a tremendous amount. While I do not agree with all of his thoughts, I do for the most part. I think that if we fix these problems, we will be on our way to professionalizing teaching.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November C4K Summary

I have had to read some very informative and insightful blog posts for my C4K assignments this month. All of the kids that I have been assigned to seem so bright, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of their posts.

Week 1:
Elliot was the first student that I was assigned to this month. This is the third time that I have been assigned to Elliot for my C4K, which I am very happy about, because his posts are so much fun to read. Every time that I have been assigned to him, I have read all of his posts rather than just the one that I was supposed to comment on. In the post that I commented on, Elliot focuses on the four different types of citizens- local, digital, Canadian, and global. He gives a brief description of each, and then goes on to express why it is so important to be a good global citizen. In my comment, I told him that I always enjoy reading his posts because I learn a lot from them. I said that I knew there were different types of citizenship but was unaware of the four types before reading his post. I told him that I learned that I am a local, digital, and global citizen. I also agreed with him that it is important to be a good global citizen and take care of the world around you.

Get your future started
Week 2:
The second student that I was assigned to this month was Mckenzie. In her post, she shared a project that she created in her art class. The project required them to take a picture of their reflection in the mirror and then draw what they see in their future over their reflection. In her picture, Mckenzie drew a question mark over her reflection. She said that she did this because her future is uncertain and filled with questions. In my comment, I told her how much I loved her post and how creative she is. I also expressed how much I liked the fact that she used a question mark to represent her future. I told her that she is still young and has plenty of time to make her future go in the direction that she wants it to and that she does not have to be certain about it yet. I ended by telling her how great of a job she did.

Week 3:
Pablo was the last student that I was assigned to this month. In the post that I read, Pablo reflected on his work from this quarter and set goals to do better next quarter. He said that he did well this quarter, but he could have done better. He talked about two main goals that he has for next semester. He wants to get over his shyness and get more involved in class. He also wants to do better next quarter than he did this time around. In my comment, I told him how much I enjoyed his post and how great his vocabulary is. I also told him that it's great that he set goals for himself for next quarter. I told him that I was also fairly quiet in my classes when I was younger, but that I found that I gain so much more by actively participating in class. I also said that it is very important to always strive to do better and be the best that you can be.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Project #12 Part B

Our group decided to create a kindergarten lesson about the "greater than" and "less than" math concept. We showed them a story, which motivated them and taught them the material all at the same time. We then worked out practice problems in several different activities. Our lesson plan can be found here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blog #13

We have been given a multitude of resources and insights with each blog assignment that we have completed. Most of the assignments, however, focused on teachers in general rather than specific types of teachers. There were really no blog assignments pertaining to just high school English teachers or just special education teachers. I, as an elementary education major, would have liked to see assignments or videos specific to elementary teachers. I think that the following assignment would definitely be beneficial. The question could be changed to "for your area of specialty" rather than "in elementary schools" as well. I think that it would also give the students a chance to do some research on their own rather than just watching the listed videos or reading the given articles.

What are some available apps for the iPad that are designed to aid in the learning process in elementary schools?

Find at least five apps for the iPad that you feel would be beneficial to the learning process for elementary students. This research can be done online or through the descriptions given in the Apple App Store. Try to give apps that relate to different subjects and have different functions.

Here is my example of the blog post that I would create:

For this week's blog post, we were assigned to research iPad apps that would be useful in an elementary classroom. I have compiled a list of five free iPad apps that I think would be very beneficial to any elementary student.

Kids using iPads in the classroom

1. SpellingCity is an app that helps students with spelling and vocabulary words in a fun way. It provides them with games that they can play, which makes the material seem more interesting. It also has a features called "Spelling TestMe" that tests the students by reading the word aloud, using it in a sentence, and repeating it again. It allows the students to work at their own pace and provides them with instant feedback.

2. MyScript Calculator is really a useful app for anyone. This app allows you to write out any math problem on the screen so that it can change your handwriting to digital text and solve the problem for you.

3. Educreations Interactive Whiteboard is an app that turns your iPad into a whiteboard. The uses of this app are unlimited; it can be used for any different subject. Students can use it to work out math problems, to practice spelling words, etc. This app also acts as a voice and screen recorder.

4. Periodic Table of the Elements is a great app for some of the older K-6 grades that learn about the elements. This provides an interactive Periodic Tables of Elements that provides information about each element when you click on it.

5. Atlas for iPad is a great interactive app that provides you with an interactive world map. This app has several different maps and contains valuable information about places, pictures of each country's flag, etc.