Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blog Post #10

What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?

Watching Randy Pausch's video about achieving your childhood dreams is more than just achieving your childhood dreams. Dr. Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and he has given people a "head-fake" while giving his last lecture. A "head-fake" is a term coined by Dr. Randy Pausch which is used to describe learning something without knowing you are learning it. His speech was titled, "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" but it was much more than that, it was very different in a very meaningful way.

Dr. Randy Pausch talked about not giving up on your childhood dreams and that there will be walls in the way. Those walls aren't there to stop you, they are there to show you your dedication for something you want. Walls are in place to stop people who do not have the dedication to get past. Getting past a wall may be wonderful, but there will always be more walls, so it is important to never give up your dedication.

Getting past a wall in life is never guaranteed, you must receive feedback and listen to it, don't just put the feedback off onto the back burner. To quote his younger self's football coaches' assistant, "When you're screwing up and no one is saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up." meaning the feedback we receive, however harsh it may seem, is there to help us improve, not to bring us down. With the feedback we listen to, we must self-reflect on that feedback. We must learn to improve, because if you want something bad enough, you must be willing to do whatever it takes.

It is important after achieving something, to show gratitude. Dr. Randy Pausch mentioned we never do anything alone and he is right. Those that help us are the ones we owe gratitude towards. A way to show gratitude towards those who helped us, is to help others the same way they helped us. Great learners are great teachers, and when you realize and learn that people helped you, you can give back what you learned by teaching and helping others achieve their goals and dreams.

Dr. Randy Pausch mentioned that loyalty is a two-way street, meaning if you put faith into someone that they are likely to return the favor. I can speak for personal experience that this is true, I did not realize how well I could do in math until one teacher believed in me and gave me feedback which I listened to. I believe I am returning the favor to my math teacher by becoming a teacher myself and doing what he did for me to others. Dr. Randy Pausch upholds that idea by his anecdotal evidence of what he achieved and what he helped his students achieve.

He ended his speech by saying that his lesson isn't about how to achieve your dreams, but is a "head-fake" in how to lead your life. I not only am in agreement, I am also in participation.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post #9

Collaborative Blog by Eric Merryman, Ronald Griffin, and Cameron Hall.

In the video Back to the Future Brian Crosby is doing a TEDtalks video about twenty-four fourth graders that are around the age of nine years old. Brian Crosby starts off his talk, speaking about how his students are in poverty and do not know questions about themselves, due to the students having such a narrowed curriculum since they were born. Brian Crosby teaches us that this shouldn’t stop teachers from teaching, but it should rather motivate us to teach smarter.

Brian Crosby comes up with an idea that sparks the motivation and imagination of the children’s minds after showing them mind blowing projects such as an aluminum can crushing itself in due to air pressure after getting dunked into cold water. Brian Crosby takes project based learning to another level by getting not only all of the students involved, but also the whole world involved. This project had students write to learn content, write to clarify and share, write to tell a story, get feedback from peers, articulate their project orally, connect globally, and have an authentic audience(not just the other students in the classroom).

We must learn from teachers like Brian Crosby to give project based learning to students not just to have them learn about a subject but to empower the students, to motivate them, to collaborate with others, to get active in learning. Active learning is important for students, we as teachers should not teach our students that learning is listening to lecture, if they want to comment or ask a question they must raise their hand and must wait for me to call on them. We as teachers must include our students into the learning experience, have them connect with the subject at hand.

Mr. Paul Anderson is a high school science teacher in Montana.  Many things about teaching and learning can be obtained from Paul.  The first thing is his website Bozemanscience.  This website is a wonderful educational resource for both students and teachers.  The website features ten different categories of scientific instructional videos.  The videos were all done by Paul in a video podcast format.  The videos can be a great reference for a multitude of scientific knowledge.  The resourcefulness of this website is an important thing to learn from Paul.  As a teacher, one could use this to help students all year long.  Students could use the website for current information and even review of topical information.

In the video Blended Learning Cycle Paul talks about the approach he takes in his science classroom.  The first point Paul makes is that he takes a “everything is a remix” approach to teaching.  He constantly researches educational techniques and learns from them.  Paul then integrates what he likes best about these ideas and applies them to his teaching style.  This a great learning point from Paul.  Wanting to learn as a teacher and having a thirst to gain more knowledge shows a true commitment to the art of teaching.   Paul goes on to explain what exactly the blended learning cycle is.  The blended learning cycle is a combination of blended learning and the learning cycle.  Blended learning consists of classroom learning, mobile learning and online learning.  The learning cycle is broken down into engage, explore, explain, expand and evaluate.  Paul molds both of these templates into his own six stage masterpiece of learning.

In the first stage, Paul starts off with a question.  The question needs to be able to draw the student in and capture their attention.  If done properly then the student will have the right amount of motivation to continue on to the second step of investigation.  During investigation, students will be able to make inquiries and experiment on the subject at hand.  The next stage is video.  This stage goes hand in hand with investigation because it can serve as foundational knowledge to the students, enhancing their ability to experiment and quenching their inquiry thirst.  The videos are podcasts made by Paul.   Elaboration is the next stage.  This stage includes critical thinking and reading to elaborate on the subject.  This can be accomplished from the videos and also from the textbook.  The fifth stage is review.  During this stage, Paul meets individually with students / small student groups to ask questions about the subject.  This stage is critical in making sure the students have gained sufficient mastery over the subject.  Until the groups show they have learned enough, Paul doesn’t clear them to proceed to the final step.  Once cleared by Paul, the students can move on to the final stage; the summary quiz.  The summary quiz tests the students on the knowledge they gained from the other five stages.  

Ultimately, Paul represents many great points on teaching and learning.  Learning is not just for students, it is also for the pure teachers who always want to create a better educational environment.  Asking the right questions can lead to student motivation, which in turn will increase the level of learning for the student.  Using resources like a website and podcasts can be informative but also free the teacher up in the classroom to dedicate more individualized time to the students.  Meeting with the students individually / in small groups holds each student accountable for the information, and makes sure no one student is left behind.  Integrating these ideas into one’s classroom will put them one step closer the their own “everything is a remix” style of education.  

In the Making Thinking Visible video, Mark Church talks about documenting student work and making it visible in the classroom. He teaches us that in our curriculum we need to have our students connect with ideas and focus on how their ideas and thinking were extended. Our students need to think of the challenge, puzzle or driving question of the topic in order to expand their ideas and thinking. I think this causes them to relate the topic to the real world ideas they need. I think what Mark Church was saying was that students need deeper understanding to connect real world ideas to the topic they are discussing. How I would implement this in my classroom would be for English, relate the literature to a modern, real world situation they could comprehend and understand. I would let them get into groups as he did and maybe put a story we have read into their own words or create their own story using the same plot and situation, making it more modern. I definitely think the real world relativity gives students a better understanding and comprehension of the work that they are doing.

We all have something to learn with these three teachers, but the important thing isn’t just to learn what these teachers are saying, but also putting what they say to good use. Not putting what they say to good use is not actively learning. To actively learn is the main point all three teachers share, and to not actively learn would be folly.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Blog Post 8, The Ocho

Eric: I chose to talk about Ted Talks Education as a 21st century learning and communication tool. Ted Talks is a website filled with videos of professors and business professionals all around the world talking about different subjects that you can search from. These videos can be anywhere from being 3 minutes to 18 minutes long. Ted Talks Education can be found on their  website and can be accessed on any computer all around the world and in many different languages. The website also has an app that can be downloaded on any smartphone or tablet device for an easy to use experience even when not at home, to catch up or to show off any video that may interest you. Not only Ted Talks Education videos can be found on personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, but many other devices as well thanks to all videos being uploaded onto youtube and a few even on services such as netflix. All videos give a date and location of when and where the speech took place, giving context of why the video may of been made and to see if it may be relevant to where you are today or not.

Ted Talks Education has professionals talking about subjects they are familiar with such as technology, business, entertainment, design, science, global issues, and many others. The speakers tend to keep the message short and to the point with plenty of humor and visual aids to keep people entertained and have the videos easy to watch. With each video not being too long, you may find yourself looking for another short video to watch, learning something new every video you click on. These videos aren’t just to educate, but also to invoke questions and thought. Certain videos pose a question and do not give a clear answer, these are meant to give people ideas about a certain subject or to bring awareness to a particular matter.
In my classroom, I plan to teach high school mathematics such as Algebra, and Ted Talks Education has a lot of neat videos on all sorts of math, including the history of certain types of math. Terry Moore, a speaker in this Ted Talks video, speaks about the history of Algebra and specifically the history of the variable “x” and how it came about, in a humorous way. The history of anything can be entertaining with the right speaker and if I cannot come across to some of my students as such, I can direct them to these short videos they can watch at home, and give some context in what they are learning about. Context is very important in when trying to understand something, which goes for mathematics as well. With Ted Talks Education videos being so easily accessible, entertaining, educational, wide ranging, and easy to use, it would be hard to think of a reason why not to use such a valuable tool in the 21st century.

Cameron: For my 21st Century Learning Tool I chose The Teaching Channel

The Teaching Channel is a website filled with videos, Common Core resources and lesson plans for teachers. The videos are for each and every subject, grade and topic and have different time frames from 1 minute to around 20 minutes. The videos give an example of a teacher in his or her classroom addressing the topic at hand. The videos range from addressing different topics like assessment and behavior to teaching specific content like fractions or punctuation. The videos have a brief description of the topic, teacher and where this is located. The Teaching Channel can be accessed from different devices, such as a smartphone, laptop or computer, or ipad/tablet.
The Teaching Channel has different categories for topics, subjects and age groups you can pick from. The teachers in the videos talk about how they have made their classroom a modern more technology based classroom and give examples of how others can do so as well. The videos also address the common core standards and give ways to incorporate them into your everyday classroom activities. What I found interesting is that these examples are in all of the topics such as behavior, assessment, and class culture not just the ones relating to specific concepts like fractions, exponents or grammar.

In my classroom I plan to teach middle school Math and English. Specifically for math, I think the Teaching Channel would be a great tool to use. With Common Core standards becoming the main point in education, collaborative groups in the classroom are a must. In one of the Teaching Channel videos, Lauren Hobbs talks about how she groups her students and why it is important. She says she groups her students sometimes based on interests, grades, projects, and scores. She says that in working with different people each time gives them a better understanding of working with other people, reflect on their own learning and talk within a classroom setting. Collaborative groups can be fun and a different way to learn for all age groups but I have to know how to group the students so that it is enjoyable for them, but also efficient and effective in accomplishing work.

The Teaching Channel videos give a lot of examples and insight to things other teachers have tried in their classroom. Because it is so easily accessible and useful in our own planning, I think it would be a great tool in a 21st century classroom.

Ronald: Twenty first century learning and communication tools can help foster a better educational experience in the classroom.  So how does one find them?  One easy and fast way would be to simply conduct a quick internet search.  Another way is to acquire the help of teachers who have experience with 21st century learning and communication tools.  This assignment is the perfect example of tapping into the resources of an experienced teacher.  Dr. Strange gave a great list  of 21st century learning and communication tools.  I think this highlights the importance of PLN.  The bigger one’s network is the more resources they have to use.

The 21st century learning tool I would like to talk about is SAS Curriculum Pathways.  SAS Curriculum Pathways is a great online resource for both teachers and students.  It provides educational material in five major areas; English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Spanish.  What makes this tool even more useful is the resources are all standard based making it easy to integrate Common Core.  Another amazing quality SAS Curriculum Pathways brings to the table is being free.  Free is always good, and it can help alleviate any financial concerns teachers and students may have.

So now that we have the ground work covered on SAS Curriculum Pathways, lets see how one might use it.  I am going into science, so I will use that subject area as an example.  Lets say I wanted to get lab ideas for the way planets moved in our solar system.  I would go onto the SAS Curriculum Pathways website (link above) and click on the Classroom Use link on the left side.  This would direct me to a page with the many resources including a search engine, a standards link, plan books and even “Tips and Tricks” on content.  Next, I would click on the science link and do a search of “planets moving”.  Within the results an interactive lab is displayed about planetary motion.  Using this resource made finding information on my science lab extremely easy.  Ultimately, SAS Curriculum Pathways is a great 21st century tool that offers standard and subject specific resources designed to deepen critical thinking in students and strengthen the educational arsenal of teachers.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Project #9 Podcast

C4T #2

For my second post of comments for teachers, I had the pleasure of reading Ken Halla's blog, who is a U.S. History teacher. His first post that I came across showed a map of the United States of what the ethnic heritage of the country was back in the year 2000. Under the map was a short list of facts coming from the map, such as the data size of 317 million people and the largest heritage grouping of the nation is German, accounting for almost 50 million people. My comment was how I like visual aids such as maps, to give me an idea of what I am trying to understand. I also commented on my surprise on how on the map it showed Utah being mostly of Irish ancestry and it also surprised me that Germanic descendants spread all across the nation, rather than just one area.

The second  post I came across gave a link to a website that gave interactive maps of battle plans and formations of the civil war. Mr. Halla mentions in his blog post that the site even includes audio with the pictures of every major part of the U.S. Civil War. He reviews the site he linked as "fantastic" which I am inclined to agree with. My comment was about how again, I am a visual learner, and these visual aids helped me learn something I had trouble with when I was taught about the Civil War in high school. That if my teachers did was he is doing on his blog, I would of had an easier time comprehending this subject in school.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blog Post 7

Collaborative: Cameron Hall, Eric Merryman, and Ronald Griffon: In the Discovery Ed video Anthony Capp tells us about the tools it provides for both teachers and students. The most important tool he talks about is the many visual aides discovery ed has. Anthony and Dr. Strange both agree that visual aides help students retain information better because people remember far more of what they hear and even more of what they see. Anthony and Strange agree that students are watchers and will watch more than they read or write.

Dr. Strange and Anthony continue to discuss PBL, and reflect on some experiences Anthony has had with PBL.  Anthony starts off by talking about how PBL doesn't always go as planned.  He gave an example of a project were his students did a video of Afghan culture.  A student in his class had a father who served in Afghanistan and didn't want his child to learn about that specific culture.  Anthony had to then exhibit flexibility and assign another project for that student.  He said the alternative project turned out great for the student.  Anthony went on to say for the other students who did do the Afghan culture project, it turned out wonderfully.  He said the students presented the videos to about fifty parents and most of the parents were blown away with how great they were.  Anthony said one of the important features of the project was letting the students decide some of the intricate details of the project.  He said some chose Afghan food, some chose Afghan fashion, and some warfare.  This made the project extremely well rounded and was a big reason why the parents were so impressed.  Anthony stressed that by not controlling every aspect of the project it allowed the student to make decisions, and that helped keep the students motivated about the project.  He said it also created student satisfaction with their own work.  There are two major things that can be learned from this video.  The first is the ability of Anthony to be flexible with the project when the student's parents didn't want him to participate.  Being prepared and being able to successfully delegate an alternative assignment for the student is important.  Everything is not always going to go as planned.  The second thing is being able to create opportunities for students in projects and then letting them take over from there.  Doing this can lead to inspired work and eventually student satisfaction with their work.

It is important to give students a hook and to be content driven, so that they feel motivated and interested to get the work done and done well, while having met common core standards. Also, it is good for us to understand we must have constantly evolving ideas about project based learning lessons, and understand that project based learning is not a project we come up with to show what we learn, but something we do to help us learn. Never limit your students by telling them exactly what you want them to do and how to do their project based lesson, give them room to explore and grow, let them fiddle around and learn their potential, as a teacher, you may just be surprised on how creative students can be.

Discovery Ed provides text articles, pictures, videos and research tools for all subjects. Students can research things about upcoming content in classes using pictures and videos and this enriches their research experience. In Anthony's classroom he has his students create their own visual aides using audio and videos. He says their reaction is not choosing either or (reading/writing or audio/video), but that they associate reading and writing with the visual aides.

iCurio is also a technological tool that can be used in the classroom. It is an online tool that provides students with a search engine for educational use, including audio and video finds. Anthony tells us that iCurio has many advantages. It has a storage area which helps students draft virtually organized using folders. It is safe for students leaving and living up where they left off and helps filtering out appropriate and inappropriate material.

Eric: Additional Thoughts about Lessons: Anthony basically breaks down lesson planning into four parts: yearly lessons, unit based lessons, weekly lessons, and daily lessons. Each breaking down into a smaller and smaller planning method. Yearly lessons are lessons you want the students to have learned by the end of the school year. Unit based lessons are checkpoints for yearly lessons and are lessons based off categories or chapters you want to cover. Weekly based lessons are what you want to cover within a week to reach your unit based lesson, and daily based lessons are planned lessons every day that you want to cover to reach your weekly based lesson. As an aspiring mathematics teacher, the math book breaks up lesson plans quite well for me, weekly lessons can be by chapter and daily lessons can be segments within the chapter, such as 2.1 or 2.2, and weekly lessons would be 2.1 through 2.5 otherwise known as all of chapter 2. Unit based lessons would be planned as multiple chapters of the book such as chapters 1 through 3 can be a unit, and yearly lessons would be all the chapters of the book put together. It is also important to be flexible in lesson plans, if something may seem very difficult to plan accordingly and if something may seem very easy to plan accordingly. Lessons are easy to plan when broken down from yearly to unit, from unit to weekly, and from weekly to daily, which is why Anthony gave his additional thoughts about lesson plans and I agree wholeheartedly.

Cameron: Don't teach it Use it: Anthony also stress using technology in the classroom not teaching it. He says that technology is natural for kids and they enjoy every opportunity to use it. There should not be lists to teach technology. Instead teachers should design assignments using technology (discovery ed, imovie, etc) and they should scaffold or break up skills each week. Through scaffolding students can learn and use one tool at a time then combine that tool with the upcoming weeks tool. Teachers should not expect perfection when their students are using technology. Technology can be somewhat of a guess and check system; one where students can learn from their mistakes. Teachers should allow students to reflect on their mistakes so that they can understand why and how they can correct their mistake. Anthony also says that technology is also about sharing. Students should share how technology helped them,  if they are confused, and what they learned. He says one way he lets them show mastery is through the skills for the next week. He incorporates scaffolding in this as well.  Technology also helps teachers introduce technology smartly. Anthony says teachers need to do the technology assignments themselves first to ensure the assignment is understandable for students so they can do it. Technology teaches students to ask valuable questions which helps the teacher understand why the questions were asked. Summarily,  technology can promote any questions and problem solving and gives a platform for figuring out steps toward an answer.

Ronald:  The Anthony-Strange list of Tips for Teachers Part 1:  In this segment Dr. Strange and Anthony talk about things all teachers should be prepared to do in the classroom.  The first topic was teachers being learners themselves.  Dr. Strange made the point that good teachers will lead by example for their students and continue to learn throughout their career.  I believe this is a very valid point.  As a teacher, one of the best ways to become better in your teaching subject is to show mastery over that subject.  It seems the best way to gain mastery in a subject is to constantly learn more about that certain subject.
Anthony continued the list by saying teaching is hard work.  He said good teachers will continue to work on their craft after they put in their eight hours in the classroom.  He likened teaching to a hobby, because if one truly cares about their craft they will work on it in their free time.  I think this is a great point.  If one is truly passionate about something and they want to be the best at it, it takes hard work.  Think about professional golfers as an example.  Tiger Woods not only pounds balls on the range and works on his short game all day at the golf course, he also has a personal putting green in his own back yard.  In his free time he still works on his game.  This concept is the same with teachers.  If as a teacher, one wants to be the best they are going to have to put the extra work in to achieve that goal.
The next point made was being flexible.  Dr. Strange talked about how having a plan is a necessity, but being flexible with that plan is a must.  Things don’t always go as planned and as a teacher it is an important responsibility to have a viable backup plan in place.  An example in Anthony’s classroom was used for this point.  A lesson plan which required the use of technology was quickly thwarted by the loss of power.  Anthony had a backup plan that didn't require the use of electricity and the class was able to proceed and make good use of time in the classroom.  I think this is a very resourceful point.  It is definitely the responsibility of the teacher to make the best use of the time he or she has with students in the classroom.  Having a backup plan can be a great counter to unexpected happenings in the classroom.
The next two points were start with a goal and engage one hundred percent of the students in the classroom.  These two points go hand in hand.  Anthony pointed out starting with a goal serves as motivation and motivation is absolutely needed if one wants to have one hundred percent participation from students.  The real challenge lies in being able to motivate every single student.  I believe this  point goes back to bettering oneself as a teacher.  If one strives to be a better teacher each year than setting goals of having one hundred percent participation is a good thing.
The last point made was using projects and sharing those projects with an audience for better learning.  Dr. Strange and Anthony discussed the importance of getting feedback from an audience.  Getting constructive outside feedback, enables students to reflect on their work and ultimately revise it to a better end product.  The idea of outside feedback is a wonderful thought.  Sometimes receiving feedback from the same source over and over again can be taxing on a student, but introducing a fresh face into the equation can ignite heightened attention from students.
Overall, hard working flexible teachers who want to be learners and have a passion to engage all students can be an invaluable asset to any school.  The ability to incorporate project learning and then use feedback from outside sources to shape that learning adds to the quality of education.  It may be easier to stand in front of a class and read from the textbook, but applying the ideas from this conversation will elevate learning and produce a more well rounded student.   

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lesson Plan #1 Created by Eric Merryman for Project #13

This lesson plan addresses the following common core standards: Seeing Structure in Expressions, Arithmetic with Polynomials and Rational Functions, Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities, and Mathematical Practices. This lesson plan is intended for students in ninth grade Algebra. It covers a period throughout the year, making sure it is essential that each student is at least meeting the standards of the common core. It is in the form of a rubric.

Lesson Plan #1 Created by Eric Merryman for Project #13

Project #2 Post 1

Symbaloo, something that really stuck out at me due to its colorful nature and seemingly easy to use interface. Symbaloo is a website that I will use that will have all of my educational ideas together in one place. I will be adding icurioDiscovery Edour class blog, and many other sites that I will come across in my years of learning and teaching. The best thing is that since it is on the internet, no matter what computer I may come across, I will be able to access my resources from my personalized Symbaloo site. I may not know how to fully take advantage of Symbaloo right now, but in time I will. Once Symbaloo holds most of everything that will be helpful to me in my teaching career, I plan on making it my homepage for easy access.

C4K Summary for September

The first comments for kids assignment I had was to "Snowflake" from Mrs. Martin's 2nd block class. Snowflake wrote about southern life, the student started with a quote talking about how someone cannot be too southern, then snowflake summarized their southern lifestyle. My comment was in agreement and that southern lifestyles may not be glamorous, that they are enjoyable.

 The second comments for kids assignment I had was to "Jae Young" from Mrs. Metzler's 5th grade class. Jae Young made a blog post about skiing in New York with their dad during Christmas and how they weren't careful and almost bumped into a tree, getting saved by their dad. My comment was about how cold it must of been in New York during Christmas for it to snow, but that their dad must of been looking out for them there too and how to be careful next time when skiing and it was good to see that they had fun.

 The third comments for kids assignment I had was to "Nero". Nero's blog post was more of a video of how things are connected when learning, and he was connecting ideas together with hexagons. I commented on how creative he was and linked him a video from the teacher's blog post I have commented on from my first C4T, which has a magic hexagon as a learning tool for math, it is amazing how things can be connected.

 The last comments for kids assignment for September I had was to "Isabel" in Mrs. Ripp's class. Isabel made a blog post of how her teacher made her and another work out brain teasers without verbal or written communication and how she thought it would be easy, but it really wasn't. I made the comment of how charades can help her with her non-verbal and non-written communication, and that researchers in psychology believe non-verbal and non-written communication such as body language accounts for most communication in the world.
After reading these four blogs from wonderful kids, I can't wait to read more and comment, I'll be sure to keep everyone posted.