5.04.2011

Scenario

I have known I wanted to be a teacher from the first time I fully understood that one day I would be a grown up and have to actually have a job in early middle school. I am so passionate and excited to become a teacher. I continually think about what I want to be like as a teacher. Each education class I take sharpens and changes what I think a good teacher should be/do. The only other thing that matches my passion for education is my passion for books. The fact that I will have a job where I get to combine two of my greatest passions makes me incredibly happy.
I think one thing that gives me an edge is my commitment to being exceptional at whatever I do. I am not a person who likes to reach a certain level of proficiency and think that's good enough. I continually push myself to improve an grow. Being a teacher wouldn't be any different. I am committed to being a great teacher for my student and putting in the incredible amount of work that it takes to be the best I can be.
That being said, I am a very independent person, so if I have a problem, I will usually struggle with it for a while in an attempts to figure it out on my own. I have been working on asking for help and using my resources more than I would normally do. It is a growing process for me.
After graduating college, I plan to get a job probably somewhere close to my home in Overland Park, but I am open to teaching almost anywhere. During this time I want to become a more proficient teacher, applying what I have learned in my education classes to the "real world."
I love all of the different options technology provides for education. There are so many more ways to differentiate learning for all learning styles and special needs. I plan to use many of the resources I found in this class to enhance and adapt current novels or units. There are so many great ways students can demonstrate their knowledge of English outside writing papers (thought I do support paper-writing). Using different media forms, students who struggle to write can find a way to express their ideas on themes or characters without the struggle of writing a paper.
When I find a new resource or technology, I usually just play around with the program until I get a grasp of how it works. I am pretty fast at figuring out how different internet sites work. Once I get the basic grasp, I will read explanations or "how-tos" of more complex or in depth ways to use said resources.
I think all teachers should try to keep up with some current technology, even if they aren't fully immersed in the genre. To help my mom, I showed her different online lesson-planning sites. I also got her an Animoto account and explained how teachers were using twitter. I have started her slowly, which just a few things to incorporate. Next, I am going to teach her a few more resources that would work for her 1st graders. When I show her a site, I tell her about it generally, then I find examples of different ways elementary school teachers have used the site, so she concretely understands how others have used it.
For a detailed look at all of the technology I can use and the different ways I might use them in my classroom, read through the rest of my blogs!

Wow Moment


My wow moment came early in the semester. It was definitely from reading the first chapter in the Google Textbook (Retool Your School). Reading about how this one school fully jumped onto the technology train to redesign every aspect of their school was very interesting. But what was even better was the result! I was pleasantly surprised by how much they were able to turn around their school in just one year. This convinced me that I would integrate not only Google Docs into my classroom, but other forms of technology. I don’t believe I can use every tool covered in this class, but I have been paying attention to the ones that will be most helpful teaching English. This moment of realization and affected how I think about the technology I used in this class. I didn’t just do the project to get it done; I try to think about ways to apply it to my future classroom concretely. I know all the “notes” I took during the podcasts will be an invaluable resource when I begin to plan Units to teach both in school and when I am real teacher. 

Podcast Favorite

My favorite podcast was the Tech Chick Tips. Although there were many useful podcasts I really enjoyed, this was my favorite. I really like how they would preview many different educational resources. I found many, many useful sites by listening to these women. I also appreciated that their podcasts were usually under an hour. We are all busy people, and I don’t usually have more than an hour to sit and listen to podcasts, even if I am trying to do other work. They gave the information without being repetitive or lengthy. These two girls also had excellent rapport. It made it fun to listen to them presenting tools because they would go back and forth so much. The fact two people were talking together made it seem a lot more interactive, engaging, and fun. Scroll through my past podcasts to see all the wonderful resources I discovered with the Tech Chick Tips.

Semester Favorites


My favorite discovery of the semester (well, I used it once before the semester, but I mastered it during the semester) was Google Docs. This has been a great discovery personally (I use it for group project and even got my boss to switch to it for my job), and I know I will use it in my professional life. I am sure I will encourage or require my students to use these resources for group projects. This way, I can monitor their progress and see how the group is working together. In addition, if the district is set up to support this method, I would have my student submit all their papers and assignments online. This way I would reduce the amount of paper I use and decrease the risk of students forgetting assignments.
My other favorite site is Glogster. I have done A LOT of poster and project during my 6-12 days. It will be nice to give students a new way to present information with multimedia. This way, they aren’t crammed for space and it is much easier to make it visually appealing. I like how easily you can add borders, words, videos, and shapes without any of the messy cut and paste aspects of traditional posters. 

4.25.2011

Challenge Based Learning

It's been a little while since I have done a reflection, but I am excited to talk about Challenge Based Learning. I know this concept has gone by a few different names over the years, but this is what it's called now. Basically, in class, students are presented with a problem and asked to come up with ways to solve it. So rather than just studying the effects of global warming, students would be challenged to figure out ways to fix it in their day lives. This means students would have to first research and understand at least one aspect of global warming so they can find ways to fix it. They are learning and doing at the same time.
Apple jumped on board and has the challenge based learning ideas on their website, though it is not an Apply concept. This kind of lesson planning fits closely with traditional lesson planning, just with a new twist. To use this kind of learning the experts say you must start with a big idea such as conservation, power, peace etc.. The next step is making this big deal local and personal; something the students can understand. These questions aren't meant to have correct answers; they are meant to make the students think.Then, based on the essential questions, teachers must challenge the students to generate concrete answers or solutions. Students then have to decide what information they need to know to answer the challenge. The questions they ask are called guiding questions.Since the challenge and questions should have been broad enough to allow for multiple answers, students or teams will present their solution to the challenge.

This way of thinking and teaching can be used in almost every subject.While pondering how this could be used in English, I wondered what it would look like for students to go through this process pretending they were a character in the book or play they read and use the reality of the story to guide their answers. Then to relate it specifically to them, they could compare it to the real world. This is a slightly different twist to the typical challenge based learning, but it is a way to teachers to use it without cutting too much from their curriculum. Apple's website has great resources and further explanations about Challenge Based Learning and wonder examples for teachers to us in their classrooms.

4.13.2011

Podcast Reflection #12


I really enjoyed listening to this moving at the speed of creativity podcast 373. Wesley reflected on Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From. He talked in depth about creativity and collaboration. It is definitely worth a listen. I want to reflect more in depth on one specific issue he raised. Wesley said websites should to stop charging for information and articles online. He says information gate keeping just limits how what people can learn. It keeps the public uninformed, and this practice should be reformed.
I should warn you that I don’t have a definitive stance on this issue because I agree that it is a good idea, but I don’t think it is practical. As a student, I have almost unlimited access to information because K-State pays for subscriptions to all these online resources. I can find nearly anything I want with a few simple searches. I think this is essential for students and would be very beneficial to all people. Limiting the information someone has access to limits that person’s potential to make a difference in the world. This is why I do agree that people shouldn’t have to pay for information on the internet.
The problem with this is we live in a capitalist country and a largely capitalist world. We agree that whomever generates information owns that information. Before the internet, any research or articles had to be published in a book, journal or magazine, which people had to buy.  So why should the internet be any different? Researchers, authors, editors and the like need a way to earn a living. A good alternative to this would simply be to add advertising. However, many readers and publishers alike feel that real, legitimate sites shouldn’t have this advertising because it feels cheap. So, while I would like public access to all information, I think the way the world views information and ownership will have to change before any major changes can be made.
Here is a video Steven Johnson made that summarizes some of his ideas. 

3.16.2011

Podcast Reflection #11 Reinventing Education

Watch this video first:
Okay, this isn't actually a podcast, its a video, and I thought it was awesome, and I would really like to use this program in my classroom. Although he didn’t detail how it works for English, I imagine the Kahn Company found a way. I loved this idea of flipping the classroom. I wonder why more people haven’t thought of it. Even the smartest kid or the fastest writers can’t keep up with everything a teacher says. And even if you could, it is nice to be able to re-listen and review. The only down side stems from the fact students can’t ask questions right away, but since when was lecturing interactive? Students can ask questions the next day in class or email their teacher. I particularly like how the program shows teachers where each students pauses, what they focus on, what problems they miss, how long they spend on a problem. That way a teacher can identify what problems a student has because sometimes a student doesn’t know why he or she is struggling. This is what Kahn calls humanizing education. This gives even students in large classes more one-on-one time with their teacher, since the teacher isn’t lecturing.
I particularly like how it allows students to pace themselves. I personally either was on the class level or ready to move on. If I could have continued working when others were either a head of or behind me, I could have learned or accomplished more. Some concepts are just harder to grasp for sometimes; this structure gives them that time. It doesn’t allow for the “swiss cheese” style learning that Kahn mentions. Students aren’t expected to master all the information, just 70-95 percent. Through this program, they do master it.
I also think it will be helpful for teachers with an incoming class to view their progress. The teacher will know before class starts where they might need more review, where the classes’ (and individuals’) strength lies. This will save teachers time getting a feel for this class (at least in this respect) and allow them to get into their subject matter quickly.
I am looking forward to more wide-spread use of this system, and I hope to see it in my classroom one day (soon).