Thursday, July 8, 2010

Final Tech Integration Task/Final Reflection

I think I will use my new wiki in my future classrooms, I am just really intrigued by the extra level of communication it allows me to have with my students. I also like how it gives me an opportunity to show them some of my personality and some of the more “just for fun” things I am interested in, and I’m hoping that if I structure its usage the right way they will begin to use it for fun too.

To be honest, I think the modifications I would make to it in order to be able to use this in my future classes would be to take a lot of the content down, at least in the beginning. High school student feel enough pressure from their classes and they don’t need to be overwhelmed with a class wiki that they’ve never seen before thats already loaded up with all this alien content. So I would start small. I would post a few fun things, maybe an interesting video and invite the students to visit one night for homework and leave a simple comment. I would gauge their reactions to the idea of incorporating this tool into the curriculum, and then slowly create a more expansive online atmosphere.

As for letting my students create their own wikis or blogs, again I think I would have to gauge their reaction. I really like the idea of putting at least some a students work up on a classroom or personal blog, but if the students are rejecting the idea then I would not feel right forcing it upon them.

I think my views of instructional technology have changed a lot. I remember reading chapter one of November just six weeks ago and thinking he was kinda nuts the way he was going on and on about "informating" but now I really see what he means. As I worked on my philosophy podcast and this final website project I understand the power technology has for making connections between individuals, and not just superficial connections, but meaningful connections that could never be achieved with out the aid of technology. It think using technology in this way really adds a more personal touch to education. Hahaha, Im laughing at myself now because I never thought I would be saying that the application of technology has a personal touch.

As I move forward I am still a little weary. I say that I am excited to create collaborative relationships via technology and the internet, but there are just so many tools and websites that provide these types of opportunities so i feel like I don't know where to start. I feel like I am definelty still a novice, but I also kind of feel like a kid in a candy store.

Well here it is, the sum of my six weeks here ...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Video Editing Reflection

The first thing I would do differently would be an adjustment in the way that we filmed the piece. Originally I thought that it would be easiest on us (editing wise) if we filmed all of the dialogue as stand alone shots, where we would start filming, say our lines and then cut, to move on to the next scene. My groups mates, and eventually I as well decided that this process would be a little bit hard on us in terms of filming the video because it would require a lot of forethought about how we wanted the final piece to look. So we decided to film the piece like a play, with lots of panning back and forth between the actors as they interacted. This decision did prove to make the filming process very easy but it made the editing process very grueling. Because there was so much panning in our raw footage it was hard, when we cut it together to have smooth cuts. Now that I am finished with it I feel that I did a pretty good job of smoothing the transitions out but at the expense of pace. In order to get rid of the quick camera movements (as a result of panning) all of the clips needed to be cut very tight in terms of the audio, and I feel that many of my transition have a rushed feel because of this. Secondly, I would use a tripod to film next time, the jostling isn't too distracting but if we had a stable camera it would have looked more professional. I showed the film to my mother and she liked it, the only complaint she had was the audio volume, but I had already pumped it up to 200%, so next time i would have the actors be physically closer to the camera/mic. Finally, I would s-p-e-a-k m-o-r-e c-l-e-a-r-l-y.

The video editing process was fun. As I approached it I felt that it was to be daunting but in reality the time flew by. As I put in the finishing touches I felt that I wasted a lot of time, but that was mostly because I was getting used to the software. Overall I think the film is professional looking and I am proud of myself. The software was easy to use and my only complaint was that it seemed to me that ALL of my transitions had to be of the same length. I was able to find a happy medium, but I feel that if I could have adjusted the length of each transition independently the pace of the film could have been improved.

In my future classroom, I do think it would be possible for my students to use create a movie of their I own. You bring up a good point when you ask, "Do you (will you) have the resources, time, and skills necessary to include such a project in your classroom?" So my response is that I might not require all of my students to make a movie, but I would certainly leave the option open to the few students who posses the patience and drive to tackle the endeavor. Resources could definitely be a problem, especially with recent budget cuts, and I wonder what I would do if everyone of my student wanted to create a movie, and not just the select few that I am imagining.

Well, first i learned a lot about cyberbullying during the research phase of this project. It was a topic I had heard a lot of talk about but never really understood what it was. So i am glad I have researched it now and know what a true problem it is. Second, as result of this project i learned that it is pretty easy to create your own professional looking video with the new digital software that wasn't available to me when I was in high school. I am excited for the next time I need to film and edit something because I get to show of the skills I have learned during this process.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Education Technology Weekly Reading Response - Final Week

What is your reaction to the 10 Big Shifts in Education? Which shift(s) will be easier and harder for your to integrate in your future teaching/classroom? Please explain.

I definitely agree with all of Richardson ten “Big Shifts” that the new Read/Write has brought to the contemporary classroom (2010). I think that the two themes that run through all of the Big Shifts are (1) the new possibilities for collaboration, and (2) the idea that learning is now never ending, it can take place anywhere and anytime and between any groups of people. Personally, I am a big fan of the collaborative aspects of learning that the latest social program allows us. The most important part of all this is the idea that students can now share their work with authentic audiences and get relevant feedback from someone other than their teacher. Because of my enthusiasm about this type of information sharing many of the Big Shifts will be easy for me to incorporate in my future classroom. Since my content area is science I can see myself utilizing Big Shift 1, “Open Content,” by bringing my students to scientific journal websites in order to find up to date research and discoveries that may have an impact on their own lives. I’m also excited about Big Shift 2, “Many, Many Teachers.” The internet provides us with a portal to connect with my great people online and there are plenty experts in the field of science that are willing to share their expertise with our students if we only ask them to do so. I can’t wait to have my students share their research with an expert and see their reaction to the critiques that she gives them. I think it’s an awesome opportunity for students to create relationships with people who have chosen science as a profession, and I believe my students will benefit immensely from these types of interactions. Finally, I am excited to have my students utilize Big Shift 3 and 6, “The Social, Collaborative Construction of Meaningful Knowledge” and Readers Are No Longer Lust Readers,” respectively. To me these Big Shifts represent not only an opportunity for students to share their work and their opinions with authentic audience but they also get to argue and defend their work and their opinions with people from around the globe. In this way students will be able to gain deeper understandings and broader perspectives of the concepts that we cover in the classroom. When used in appropriate ways the internet can be a powerful forum for discussion and enlightenment.
Some of the Big Shifts however I think will be much harder for me to incorporate into my style of teaching simply because they are “too new” to me. The ideas present in Big Shift 8, “Writing Is No Longer Limited to Text” says that student no longer need to write their lab reports with pen and paper but instead they could blog about it or better yet podcast it. I don’t know how comfortable I am with these new forms of text because I never had the opportunity to use them when I was in middle and high school. It will be hard for me to break away from the way that I think school work should “look like.” However I am confident that as I explore these new avenues of communication I will feel more comfortable about bringing them into my classroom because a “teacher who uses interactive media professionally will find they rapidly develop learning styles and strengths similar to those of their students” (Thatcher in Richardson, 2010).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Education Technology Weekly Reading Responses

Should all teachers be encouraged to create online activities for students within traditional classrooms? Please explain

The head of The Virtual High School, Bruce Droste explains that students are not allowed to take their entire course load online. He says students should still attend traditional classes because they still “need to know how to act face-to-face with one another” (November, 2010, p. 87). I feel that the same argument could be made for not allowing students to take their entire course load in the traditional class setting. Communicating professionally and courteously via email and video conferences is an essential skill that our student will undoubtedly use in their futures, so why don’t we include training in these area in our educational standards? November predicts that today’s high school students will be required to participate in an online learning environment at some point in their lives and they “will need to learn how to manage their learning with people who are not sitting next to them in a classroom” (2010, p. 85). I believe we would be doing our nation’s high schools students a disservice by not providing them the opportunity to explore the nearly endless educational opportunities that exist through online collaboration.
The evidence shows that online learning “does not blunt our inborn need to socialize …if anything, the Internet facilitates the need to socialize like not other tool we’ve ever had” (November, 2010, p. 87). Students working in online classroom have proved to be more insightful with their responses to teacher question because they have more time to compose their thoughts and they do not have to fear open mockery from their classmates by taking risks and expressing their true thoughts. Many students in online courses also feel stronger connections to their teachers and their peers because of the inherent collaborative nature of the Internet (November, 2010)
Finally, in some cases with online courses the parents get more involved in their child’s learning than with traditional coursework (November, 2010, p. 90). I believe this happens for two reasons, one, most of the learning is going on right under the parent’s roof, and two, this is new technology that the parent’s have never had access to and it’s hard not to be curious about what their child is experiencing.
So yes, I do think that all teachers should at least be encouraged to start integrating online learning into their curriculum. The advanced skills they learn and the benefits they receive from online learning are prominent and I think it would serve to better our public school system.

Envision the role of social networking in 21st century learning environments. Write a brief description of this vision.

Many sentiments expressed by Richardson in his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts (2010) reminds me of the learning communities that George Siemens describes with his theory of connectivism, in which the “possession” of knowledge is not as important as having the skills to quickly access knowledge from other locations, whether they be a website, another person, or better yet a group of people. What he calls the “pipe,” is the channel through which knowledge is passed, and in contemporary society students that understand and utilize these pipes effectively will be successful
It’s important to note that these pipes don’t only benefit our students. They can be invaluable to any teachers who are looking to improve their craft or perhaps more importantly trying to solve a difficult problem. By connecting with online communities of educators that are eager and willing to help our teachers can experience professional development on a daily basis.
So what I see taking place in this century is a public school system that is utilizes online communication to create new relationships while strengthening the old relationships between teacher and students, teacher and administrators, and administrators and communities.
For students, learning and collaboration can now take place anywhere at anytime. Students can constantly be thinking about and researching their interests. Whenever they have a “light bulb” moment they can instantly share it with their peers and their teachers, and a conversation can begin that helps the individual flesh out their ideas.
For teachers, students can subscribe to a specific “tag” in their Google Reader accounts and the teacher can use their Diigo account to constantly bombard their students with new interesting information (Richardson, 2010). Whether or not the student takes the time to look at it all is up to them, but I think this type of connection will create stronger working relationships between student and teacher. If the teacher acknowledges a students personal interest and then tags a bunch of website that are relevant to that interest the student will know that the teacher has been listening.
The same type of connections can be utilized to foster better relationships between school and the communities they work in. If a school is dealing with a serious issue such as drug possession on school ground, the school could quickly communicate not only the problem but also give parents tips about how to address the issue with their children.
To put it simply, the world could be a more beautiful place if online communication is used appropriately.

PowerPoint Presentation Assignment Reflection

My PowerPoint presentation is a "concept attainment" lesson that teaches students the difference between exergonic and endergonic metabolic reactions by using real-world examples. I teach them that exergonic reactions are those that release energy into the system (ex. explosion of TNT) and endergonic reactions are those that consume energy from the system (ex. pumping up a bike tire). The concept attainment model is useful for introducing students to abstract concepts that might seem unwieldy at first. The idea behind the lesson model is that you have the students develop their own description of the concept by first viewing a series of depictions or pictures before the teacher tells them the scientific/accepted definition of the concept.

In my presentation I mostly used stock slide layouts provided by PowerPoint to ensure that my presentation had an orderly and organized overall look and feel. I used animations on many of my slides in order to reveal text as I would be talking about it, and not before. I think this is important, especially in high school because students may easily be distracted, confused or even put-off if you present them with too much text all at once. I used a "swipe" transition between all of my slides that contained pictures/depiction of the metabolic concept. I chose to use a transition only between these slides in order to distinguish this part of the lesson from the introduction and the conclusion slides. FInally, I used one advanced feature, which was audio narration. I recorded a brief narration for each of the slides that contained pictures/depictions of the metabolic concept, and I thought this was important because the idea of the concept attainment model is not to give students too much information or too little, so by recording the "best" narration beforehand I can assure the the students will get the most out of my lesson.

With this project I learned a lot about the newer version of PowerPoint. I occasionally used PowerPoint in my undergraduate career but I haven't actually explored the full potential of the presentation software since i was in high school. So it was good to relearn all of the neat ways you can use transition and animations to add some personality to the presentation. I had never used the audio narration before, so it was cool to play with it and I think it could be a powerful tool if used appropriately.

PowerPoint is a great way to enhance a presentation for visual learners. PowerPoint allows us to neatly present definitions, directions, prompts and content in a visually pleasing way that serves to attract their attention of our students. Its also a great way to present pictures to your class to enhance their understanding or simply to add entertainment value. Teachers can also embed videos into their presentation so that they don't have to disrupt their lesson by going to the a website or accessing files and folders on their desktop. One of the best uses of PowerPoint is to keep lectures and lessons organized. Having the text written up on the screen helps the presenter stay on task and prevents them from forgetting or skipping important information. Finally, PowerPoint can be used to integrate some comedy into a lesson. By putting in funny pictures or animation teachers can make sure their students are paying attention.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Learning Theories Week 5 T2P

This week we discussed problem solving strategies. GNA called them heuristics. She had us work in groups of two and then come together as a whole class to develop one heuristic that we could all use as we analyzed a very complex case study. I really appreciated that GNA laid out our day like this and enabled us to practice and master a very effective problem solving strategy. I am so excited that I know have this tool because as I have expressed last week I believe that my two biggest obstacles to becoming an effective teacher are motivating students and teaching them to be respectful of their peers (having them create secure environments). I believe that I can use this heuristic to help me as a tackle both problems in my future class. My favorite part about our heuristic is that if I use it properly it allows me to check my biases, which is important for two reasons. One, perhaps the "problem" that i perceive is not a real problem at al, and in the grand scheme it doesn't not detract from my goals for the class. Two, It enables me to adopt the perspective of my students and provokes me to consider how they perceive this issue that I deem a problem.

In our complex case study we discussed the social injustice present in this fictitious school in that student in lower achieving courses were forced to work in dilapidated classrooms that did not instill a sense of professionalism and self worth in the students. I felt that this sentiment was very powerful and understanding how physical environments can adversely affect a students disposition as well as their motivation. We also touched upon motivation, and how to foster it by really getting to know our students, surveying their interests and bringing those interest into the curriculum. This type of practice would make the content more relevant to the students and would increase their intrinsic motivation.

Here are two more working hypothesis

If a teacher wants to have students whom are highly motivated then that teacher needs to first learn about their students through "caring relationship" in which we actively search for their interest and their aspirations (Noddings). Next the teacher needs to express to their students that he/she cares about their interest by incorporating them into the curriculum. This is necessary because it provides that students with a sense of ownership over the classroom and the content that will lead to motivated students

If a teacher wants to create a secure environment in which all students are free to express themselves then the teacher needs to utilize heuristic problem solving to address issues of disrespect in the class. This is the most affective way of addressing the issue becuase it allows the teacher determine the legitimacy of the problem that has been identifies, it allows them to take perspective of the problem through the eyes of the people involved, it allows them to search for advice from colleagues and literature, and it allows them to create an appropriate solution path that is flexible and can be revised as new evidence is discovered.

I think my most favorite part about the applying the hueristic to issues of disrespect is the fact that it forces the teacher/moderator to collect perspectives from the students involved. I think alot of time we neglect to actually talk to our student and figure out what is going on inside of them. It is an important thing to do in contemporary public school and i think if i can get comfortable have authentic dialouges with my students that breka down the power relation barriers i will learn alot about my students and will be able to help them develop emotionally as well as academically becuase i will know how to appropriatley motivate them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Relating Learning Theories to Contemporary School's Context

Development of Emotional Intelligence is Best Supported Through Social Groups of Similar Backgrounds.

If students are to develop emotional intelligence, then they need to be supported in a learning environment that is composed of peers and teachers that are bring similar struggles to the mix. In the video, Gay Camp: Helping youth Feel Safe and Supportive, gay youth come together to discuss and share their stories with a group of people from similar backgrounds. Caitlin, a young woman says, "I got a sense of no longer needing to hide in any way." In the video, Who We Be, a "group of young women of color...organize for a safe school environment that doesn't disrespect woman's minds and bodies." Youth like these are developing emotional intelligence together in secure environments and Vygotsky's theory would suggest that this education is effective because learning is taking place in social groups composed of people with similar backgrounds. As teachers we must recognize the need for youth to develop emotional intelligence, and we must recognize that most often the best way for this is in a social setting that is composed of similar people. Often we as teacher cannot relate with a student's particular background (i.e minority woman, or homosexual) and in those cases the least we can the least we can do is support the creation of the social groups in order for the members to learn from each other develop emotionally together.

Feelings of Safety and Acceptance are Primary Concerns that Need to be Addressed Before the Highest Potential of Education may Occur.

If students are to get the most out of their time in school and truly be educated, then teachers need to ensure that Maslow's lower level needs are satisfied for their students. In the video, Bullies, gotta hate em! the young man recounts a "bully" incident at school. By his demeanor it is clear that he has been hurt, and that the experience has negatively affected his education because he is struggling to feel completely accepted at school. In the video, Is Anybody Listening? A testament by Village Academy High, Chris explains that because of the poor economy his family is facing homelessness. He says "I can get out, but my brothers, my brothers might be homeless pretty soon." Maslow's theory argues that students like Chris cannot succeed in school because they are struggling with their most basic needs of safety and security, and they can not "graduate" to the highest levels of learning while they are preoccupied with concerns for their basic needs. As teachers we need to understand what our students are dealing with outside of school. We need to acknowledge each student as an individual and encourage them to express their problems so that they can be supported and hopefully helped to meet their needs or safety and acceptance.

Listening to our Students is the First Step Towards Helping.

If teachers want to help their students the most, then teachers need to take time to learn about a student emotional "baggage" and express to the student that they are willing to help. In the video, Youth Voices, Eric says, "[My teacher], she trying to help me too, she helps me fill out my jobs applications because I tell her I need a job to help out my Dad, and she's like, just do good in school Eric, and I'll always be here to help out." He continues "try to find out like whats going on...give me a chance...try to help us try to figure out what wrong with me." Eric feels supported by this teacher because she has developed what Nel Noddings calls a "caring relationship" with her student. She has expressed concern, and has provided aid that is relevant to Eric's need. She knows that Eric's appreciates her help through his positive feedback. As teachers we need to realize that the only way we can truly help our students is by listening to them. We must "try to figure out whats wrong" and then help them get to where they want and need to be.

Here is the link to the YouTube video compilation entitled: Voices of Youth Today. Here you will find all of the videos i mentioned aboved

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weebly Class Website Creation Reflection

Overall, I am very satisfied with my website, and I am exciting to think that I haven't even scratched the surface of the possibilities for it. It was frustrating getting used to the website construction software, and my biggest complaint is that if I wanted to change something, there was no easy to do it. For example I realized that I had set up all of my links so that they would open in the same browser window. I decided that I instead wanted them to open in a new window, but the only way (that I found) to do this was to reset all the links manually, by redoing everything I had already done. I was also frustrated with the inflexibility of the software, I wasn't as free to organize the text and images a I wanted to be, but this is something I have to accept with any free software. With all this said I was actually pleased with the software, I feel that my site is professionally looking and it really was not hard to create once I got used to the software.
Im not sure if I will use this site in my class. I think that theres a good chance I will tell my students about it, because I can easily share interesting and helpful links with my them, and it also provides a way to get in touch with me, but I'm not sure how big a part of my curriculum it will be. I think only time will tell and it depends largely on how creative I am willing to be.
I checked my website for 508 compliance using Truwex Online 2.0 and I failed with six issues and twenty warnings. I received two issues that were very similar, " I read the description for two of the issues and essentially they tell me that the color of some of my text is too similar to the color to my background, and because of this it may be hard to read for some. Some of the text on my website is grey and the background in white so I believe that this is the issue. I like having two different colors for text on my website, but I realize that I one of those colors should not be gray if my background is white. I will experiment with different colors until i found something that both pleases me and passes 508 compliance.

Please check out my AP Biology Resource website: In Science We Trust

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Critical Web Evaluation Internet Workshop Reflection

The feedback i received from my group was all positive. I walked them through my handout/worksheet and explained my reasoning behind each step that I chose for student to take in their evaluation of the webpage. My group mates commented on the fact that I was able to make my web evaluation so relevant to my subject, biology. I think both of them struggled with this aspect (they are math teacher) so they were happy to see that I was able to do it. We also looked over my grading rubric, which I was a bit concerned about. I felt that the criteria was vague and perhaps not written in a language that my students could easily understand and interpret as they self asses. But my group mates assured me that these aspects of my rubrics were clear enough to them and that I was being too hard on myself.

After this experience, I am surprised to say that I think I will try to use this workshop in my future classroom. I am proud of my work, and I believe that through this workshop my students will learn a valuable lesson in information literacy as well as getting a great introduction to the controversy surrounding genetic engineering.

In our discussion of the quote, "Students will become victims of the expansive dark side of the Internet unless we teach the critical thinking necessary to make meaning out of the overwhelming and potentially manipulative amount of information that is now available and growing every day" (November, 2010, p.27) we definitely agreed with the sentiments and we cited many of our conversation that we have been having in class. We talked about the importance of fact checking information found on the internet, and we discussed the importance of giving our students the proper tools and skills to carry out effective fact checking. We decided that if we give our students these skills then it acts like a mental checklist that they can complete and then be confident about the webpage and its information. In essence it takes the guessing out of their fact checking.

Education Technology Weekly Reading Responses

What is the right balance between giving students freedom to explore the Web for research and providing them with structure and guidance?

This is a tricky question. The web is a big place with lots of great resources full of wonderful information, so what right do we have as teachers limit our students exploration of this medium? On the other hand, much of our Education Technology class’s discussions and projects have revolved around the idea that the web is also full of lots of disinformation. Teachers need to understand the absolute necessity of teaching proper information literacy skills to our students so that they can successfully navigate and interpret the web.
One way that teachers can balance open exploration and structure is by providing students with a reliable place to start their research on the web. In his book, Empowering Students with Technology (2010), November discusses such a place in the chapter about primary sources. November encourages teachers to incorporate as visit to the National Archives and Record Administration’s online database into their curriculum. November feels that a source like this allows students to explore a vast array of information but also allows for structure because the teacher knows that the information a student is looking at is for most part accurate (but always informative), and more importantly the teacher knows it is “safe” for the school environment. A starting place doesn’t have to be a primary sources database though, there are plenty of websites that contain a multitude of information that is relevant to school curriculum, and the great part about these types of websites is that every student can pull away unique information and insight, based on their different interest that lead them to use different search criteria. So in this sense students are still free to explore.

What is the role of the teacher in helping students to make meaning of primary source material?

The use of primary sources can be fun and exciting for student, November says the “fun and adventure of learning is in the
hunt,” (2010, p. 68) but at the same time they can be frustrating for students. Primary sources do not sort and organize information like textbooks do, and furthermore they may be written in a form of the English language that is foreign to our students. So although giving our students access to primary resources is a great way to immerse them in the perspective of the time period, we must make sure to structure and scaffold our student’s use of primary resources to ensure our students are getting the most out of the experience by creating relevant meanings (November, 2010).
The most effective way to help students construct meaning from a primary source is by helping them get into the shoes of the author. November suggest that the teacher can help a student analyze the primary source for context by guiding them through a series of critical questions. In one example November discusses four letters that Jackie Robinson wrote to four different U.S. presidents, and he suggest that we provoke are students answer questions like “What prompted Robinson to write the letters and telegrams, What were his expectations, Why was Robison so upset with Kennedy and pleased with Nixon, Which president did Robinson believe was the most progressive” (2010, p. 75). November goes onto suggest that eventually students will be able to create their own critical question that help them put the text in context and hence help them make meaning.
Another great resource for teachers are the National Archives and Record Administration’s worksheets. The worksheets structure a format for analyzing primary source document by forcing the student to answer some basic, but also very important questions. There are many types of worksheet, one for each type of document a student might find (picture, poster, sound recording, personal letter, map) and each one asks the student to analyze the document in unique ways that will help them create meaning and context.
To conclude I believe the following quote will help teachers better understand the role of primary sources in the curriculum: “In some cases we will have to teach the students to let go of the notion that the answers are more important than the questions and the process” (November, 2010, p. 69). I like this quote because it implies that student will need to think outside of the box, in new and exciting ways in order to make sense of primary sources. As students “hunt” through primary source literature they may be confused and frustrated because they cant find the answers they want, but they need to realize that through their search they are discovering new questions that may be more relevant and more useful for their research. This process can only help students develop the information and critical literacy skills that all good teachers desire to teach.

How can teachers use Podcasting and/or multimedia tools to promote collaborative learning?

Podcasting was designed so people could create and easily share information and ideas, and this is what the new online classroom is about. Students from elementary school to high school to college are using podcast to disseminate information about their school, about their classes, and about what their learning in those classes (Richardson, 2010). There is great potential in this for students to collaborate in order to enhance their education. I can imagine using podcasting in my classroom as a forum to have debates about the most controversial topics in science today. I would have my students research both sides of the genetic engineering controversies and then collaboratively compose their arguments in the form of a podcast. By using the online community of teachers I could get in touch with an agricultural education high school, and share my students’ podcast with them. My vision is that students at this Ag. Ed. School will have very interesting insights about the controversy since many of the latest genetic technologies are geared toward increased crop production or pest reduction. I could see the collaboration even going as far as having the two groups of students get together to synthesize their ideas into one very powerful podcast that they could then share with their legislatures whom may one day be faced with a bill that deals with this controversial issue.
By using podcast in this way students will learn a valuable lesson in the importance of obtaining different perspectives when they are composing their own personal opinions. I also believe that the use of collaboration and authentic audiences in this way will increase student motivation as well as understanding.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Learning Theories Week 4 T2P

Two things that I feel will most stand in the way of me teaching critical literacy in public secondary schools are students whom are unmotivated/resistant/won’t dos, and students that treat others with disrespect and furthermore don’t realize that they are treating others with disrespect.

In order to defend against these two fears I, as a an educator will work towards highly quality motivation that will take place in emotionally safe environments

To right the first problem, that of resistance, I feel they are many “tools” that I have gotten from the philosophers we have discussed in class. I think that main methods are 1) constructivism through the integration of youth pop culture into lesson in order to make the curriculum's relevancy more apparent, and 2) becoming students of my students through the development “caring relationships” that help us know who they are, where they are coming from and where they want to/should be going.

With this said my working theory is as follows

If a teacher wants to create a safe place where student can freely express themselves and are highly motivated toward self growth and development then the teacher needs to develop caring relationships with their students through authentic dialogues that breakdown the power relations between teacher and student roles because in order for a student to feel free enough to cast down their social armor they need to know that they will be emotionally supported through the journey they are about to undertake. I also believe that this atmosphere will support acceptance while fighting to end unwarranted prejudices and discrimination in our schools.

I feel that there multiple ways I could strengthen this theory, one of which being the addition of contextual data, but I do feel strongly about the ideas represented in this theory and I feel I will be useing them in my final Learning Theories paper.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reflection to Microsoft Office Screencast assignment

The creation of these screencast was definitely a good experience for me. I enjoyed working with my group as we shared what we knew about Microsoft Word and explored our creativity as we tried to find they best way to present our knowledge. Secondly, I enjoyed the project because I never thought that I could create a computer tutorial like that, and I was impressed by the overall quality of our end product. I was pleased wit the reviews we got from our classmates as they filled out our screencast survey. On a scale of 1-5 for our questions about clarity and usefulness of our screencast got almost all fours and fives, which pleases me because we did work hard address these two goals. We did however receive some comments about our clarity. Our classmates suggested that we should have used a script next time to ensure that we are speaking as clearly as possible and, they also recommended that a script might help our narrator slow down enough to ensure that our viewers can follow along. We also got a lot of comments focused on the footnoting section of our advanced tutorial. Many classmates felt that we needed to start at the very beginning in order to effectively show exactly how footnotes were used. They liked what we told them, but they thought we assumed too much of them. We also received similar advice about our hyperlinking section.

I certainly liked the other groups presentations. I found them personally useful and very professional. I think I will definitely be using screencast in my classroom whenever i get a chance to implement them. However, I don't think I would use the screencasts that we produced in class because I would want to create my own and structure them around my own personal needs, but with that being said I will probably steal some of the ideas that were used in these screencasts.

I think every student could benefit from teacher created screencasts. They can be used to introduce elementary school children to some common and useful features of desktop computers or they could be used in high school to introduce students to their classroom blog. They could even be used at the university level in sophisticated research labs that need to train lab assistant in uniquely complicated software.

In closing, I would love to incorporate screencast in my curriculum. I think its a nice way to express your creativity and perhaps humor to your students and the information they contain can be very helpful. I might even go as to as to have my students create screencast. Perhaps after they have learned how to search scientific journal databases they can create a screncast they future students will want to watch. I think this would be a great way to make to students feel involved in the class and the school community.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Education Technology Weekly Reading Responses

1. Now that there is unlimited potential to celebrate the work of students with their communities, what is the best way to mange this opportunity?

I believe publishing student work on a classroom blog is one of the most effective ways to share a student's work with family and community members. Students might stay more focused and work harder on projects if they know that people they care about from outside of the school will be viewing their work. In this way the blog promotes extrinsic motivation for students whom want to impress community members, or simply express themselves to audiences they never had before. November asks us to consider how students would respond in a sporting event, or a recital, or a theatrical performance they were taking part in that didn’t have an audience (2010, p.43). If we don’t expect student to participate in these events without authentic audiences how can we expect our students to participate in the classroom without authentic audiences
Secondly, if students are working on a research project or a data collection project, using the internet to share their research and data with organization that want it is a great way to give students purpose and a sense of relatedness to their communities. One example from Empowering students with Technology was a group of students in Massachusetts whom were helping a global climate change group collect and analyze data. Students were able to share their data and thoughts via Skype, and they were also able to get instant feedback from experts in the field (November, 2010, p. 36). I think that this must have been a great learning experience for the students as well as an awesome motivator.

2. How can we create authentic work and relationships for our students to give them a deeper meaning in relation to complex issues such as globalization and cultural sensitivity?

To enhance cultural sensitivity students can use technologies to conduct interviews with members of cultures that they have never met, but have only studied about in their classes. A story form November about a boy who inadvertently shows his cultural ignorance by making some very incentive comments to a Puerto Rican girl via Skype gives me a great idea for a lesson on cultural sensitivity (2010, p. 39). By prompting students to write about a culture before an interview takes place, and then revising this essay after the interview students can see the stereotypes they had been using and they can reflect on why these stereotypes are bad.
Another great way to get to know someone is through collaboration. Students can work with people from other cultures on a common project via the internet and in doing so build strong relationships. They can keep a blog of their interactions and discuss how their feelings toward their new colleagues have changed over time and write about what they have learned about this other culture and how it has changed their global views.
The great thing is we don’t even need to converse with people around the world, we can talk to students from different regions of the USA. I think I would be great if an environmental science teacher spent some time talking about the oil disaster currently going on in the Gulf of Mexico, and then to get her class in touch with students from the affected region to see how the crisis have impacted their lives.

3. What are the emerging collaborative relationships for teachers?

Just as it is an effective tool for students to receive feedback on their work from anonymous reviewers via the internet (November, p. 5) it can be incredibly helpful for teachers to use the online community to enhance their skills. Although teachers may know a lot about their subjects it is not possible to know everything or be up to date on everything. November offers a story about an American poetry teacher who reached out via the Internet to a teacher in Japan who was able to give him great insight in the art of the haiku (November, p. 52).
I have my own personal story of how the online community of teachers has helped me with my pre-service teacher studies. Yesterday in our Learning Theories class GNA was telling us about this “great teacher,” Vicki Davis, who had some really interesting ideas about how to get students motivated. First we watched a documentary style video about Vicki in her classroom and then we blogged about her teaching style. Using twitter GNA contacted Vicki to inform her of our learning activity that involved her. Vicki seemed excited so GNA encouraged us to ask her questions via our blog post, and Vicki actually responded to my question before class was over! I was amazed, first at how super nice Vicki was for responding, but second at how connected I felt to this online community of teachers that I never knew existed before. I’m realizing just how powerful a tool it is, and we would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
Parents are also extremely important in the learning process of our students. From my personal experience in the high school I know that many teachers feel their relationships with parents are more of a hassle than help, but we cannot deny the power of a family that is reinforcing the concepts and the attitudes that we are promoting in the school. Through the publishing of assignments on class blogs and through easy to access to video conferences parents can be more involved with their child’s academic career than ever before. It’s an awesome opportunity as educators to connect with parents in this way and I am excited to start building these relationships.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Learning Theories Week 3 T2P

T2P (2) from in last class last week

If a teacher is continually reflecting on their beliefs and is creating lessons and activities that are solidly based in those beliefs then the students will benefit the most from what the teacher has to offer as a person and as an expert in their field becaue the teacher will be engaging students in the most passionate way that they know, and will be trying to teach the students lessons that they hold most dear to their heart. (afterthought ...especially lessons about respect and acceptance)

If a teacher can model their behavior in the classroom to reinforce their beliefs then students will benefit because they can see a walking talking example of those beliefs.

Week 3 T2P Class Reflection

Today was a busy day. GNA took a poll at the beginning of class and there was a consensus that everyone was really tired. GNA's response was to hold an "extra long" morning chit chat in order to get everyone relax and laughing and hopefully get the blood flowing. It worked, I managed to make it to lunch and then the activity we took part in after lunch was kinda fun so by the end of the day i was in good spirits. But enough about summary I must get into what I learned today and how it will affect me as a teacher. i want to start with my Theory from last week, which was...

If teachers want their students to be actively engaged in the classroom and motivated in their own education then the teacher should start every class with an open conversation that allows the teacher to express any personal points that he or she thinks the class might enjoy hearing and also allows the students to share their stories, questions, comments and concerns with everyone else in the room because this activity will foster a friendly and healthy social environment that will promote cooperation among students, and will make the teacher appear more accessible to the students as a source of helpful information and also as a role model that they can look to for advice.

what i want to do is incorporate some of the new ideas about motivation. Something I learned from the chapter 9 reading was that two of the most important factors in student motivation are the ability of the teacher to express their concern for students well being, and their ability to create a emotionally secure environment. I think that my above theory ties into both of these idea about motivation and I think its cool that I found literature that supports my theory. I also wanted to incorporate Vygotsky's theory of socially motivated learning in to my Theory because i think it is also a big part of what i am trying to say and I feel it will make my thoughts more clear. Sadly I feel constrained by time so i wont be modifying my Theory tonight, btu I will attempt to get back to it this weekend.

The second thing I want to talk about is this "new" idea of autonomy and how it can provide motivation. In class a lot of my teachers have been speaking about constructivist learning, and they would explain to me that the idea of it was student-centered curriculum that built off of what they students already knew and what they were currently interested in. The idea makes sense to me but I struggled see how i could put it to practice. As we talked about autonomy in class today I was given a new perspective on constructivism and I feel can now implement it better in my classroom. What Im learning is that we need to observe our study and study the choices they make when they are provided autonomy. Only by becoming "students of our students" (Ayers) can we truly know our students and know what they are interested and know how to scaffold our curriculum to support them so that the function in the "zone of proximal learning" (Vygotsky). Knowing are students is important and Vicki Davis goes as far to say that we should love them. In a post she made on my blog she says that through caring and empathy we can bring the "human aspect" into teaching, and through this we can become great educators. (Davis)

Case Study of Self Determination Theory

From the Edutopia video that we just watched in GNA's classroom it is clear that Vicki Davis is a motivated as a teacher. At the close of the video she discussed the two main points of her pedagogy, which are empowering students to learn for themselves, and teaching them how to collaborate and the importance of that collaboration. Vicki is passionate about these two ideas and that motivates her and enables her to teach them effectively. Her students feed off of Vicki's motivation and become motivated themselves. Because of Vicki's enthusiasm her students understand the importance of what they are learning, and also because of her obvious motivation her students respect her as an educator and as a colleague so they want to exhibit learning in order to please her. More than just pleasing her though the students in her class have "relatedness" with their classmates, and they want to excel in the classroom so that their peers can benefit from everything that each individual independently learns. Vicki encourages her students to teach each other, both informally and on some occasions formally as they stand up in front of the class to present a prepared lesson. This idea that students have the opportunity to teach themselves and teach each other leads to a sense of autonomy. Students are allowed to explore the digital world and bring back what they find unique, interesting or useful and share it with the class. Students experience high quality motivation in Vicki's classroom because they have free range of their creative avenues (autonomy) and they understand fully that they are an integral part of the educational community that exist both in the classroom and around the world via the internet (relatedness).

Question for Vicki:
It seems that your style of teaching empowerment would prevent students from resisting to learn, but I want to ask, have any of your students ever resisted you by not participating in the learning environment? If yes, what was your response?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Technology Education Weekly Reading Response - Week 2

Define in your own words what it means to be information literate?

After the Novemeber (Alan November) reading I defined information literacy as the ability to view and understanding information that we see on the internet in the proper context (and November give us tools to understand internet context with his concept of "MAPping the internet," which I will discuss later in this post). As I continued our weekly reading and as I read Dr. Donald J. Leu, Jr's web page entitled Internet Workshop: Making Time for Literacy I realized that being information literate was so much more that just understanding context. It is also about being able to solve problems and answering burning personal questions by successfully navigating the internet and its resources. It's about critically analyzing the information that we find and sharing our conclusion with other so that we can collaborate and find greater meaning together.

How can teachers and students thoughtfully evaluate online information resources, including the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia?

I really like November's "MAPping the internet" concept when it comes to evaluating online resources. MAP is an acronym for Meta-web information, Author and Purpose. The idea behind the first phase, Meta-web information (meta means about) is that we can learn a lot about a web page by thoughtfully analyzing the URL. We can also help ourselves understand how the web page fits into the broader online community by determining what other types of website are choosing "linking" to the page in question, and what are they saying about that web page. The idea behind Author and Purpose is that we need to consider who is writing the content (what, if any, is their expertise) and what are they trying to convey by putting this information out there (are they selling something, are they selling their ideals, are their ideals just?)

As far as Wikipedia goes. I think it is a tricky subject. The first person to introduce me to the online encyclopedia was my Biology 101 professor, and his advice was to use Wikipedia as a launching pad for our research, but he made it clear that we should definitely never cite it as a reference in our final product. I certainly agree with my former professor, I think we cannot deny the importance of Wikipedia as a resource, but we simply must use other sources to verify the validity of the content we just read. I feel the users of Wikipedia are getting better at citing there sources, but just because the information is cited doesn't mean it is true.

What are a few of the similarities and differences between the four instructional models of Internet use (Internet Project, Internet Workshop, Internet Inquiry, and WebQuest)?

An overarching theme that I kept seeing as I was studying the aforementioned models was the importance of sharing and collaborating. The main idea behind all four models is to bring information literacy to our students while also delivering subject specific content, and part of information literacy is sharing our thoughts and our experiences, and our success and our failures so that we can all grow in our literacy together.

I learned that the "internet workshop" was the most basic model and is most helpful for novice internet users. A "webquest" is very similar, but because it exist in its entirety on the internet is much more easily shared between an online community of teachers. An "internet project" is the most ambitious of all four models, it involves collaboration between classrooms that are geographically distant. Finally an "internet inquiry" is the most independent and student-centered model. It is most useful for students that are driven to answer burning personal questions and then to share their conclusion with community members.

Thanks for reading. I hope i didn't bore you, please let me know if i need to be more succinct next time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Learning Theories Week 2 T2P

if ...then ...because T2P (Theory 2 Practice)

If teachers want their students to be actively engaged in the classroom and motivated in their own education then the teacher should start every class with an open conversation that allows the teacher to express any personal points that he or she thinks the class might enjoy hearing and also allows the students to share their stories, questions, comments and concerns with everyone else in the room because this activity will foster a friendly and healthy social environment that will promote cooperation among students, and will make the teacher appear more accessible to the students as a source of helpful information and also as a role model that they can look to for advice.

Week 2 T2P

This morning GNA wrote on the black board behind where I sit "Beliefs, Behavior, Disposition, and Vision." She tried to explain to us that these four aspects of a teacher would have profound impact on how their classes learn. I guess I tried to go along with her on the topic but i couldn't really put it all together until she presented us with the case study, What's the big problema? The question GNA posed to us was "how does what Erik (the teacher) brings to the mix affect his students learning." To answer the questions I started to think about Erik's background; I stated that Erik felt unqualified to solve the racial segregation in his diverse classroom because he "belonged" to the white majority in America. When we broke into paired discussion, I continued down this vein of thought, but when GNA made the point that students don't necessarily learn more when they are forced to work in diverse groups I came to a revelation. I understood how teachers beliefs, behaviors, dispositions and visions will influence the learning experience of their students, and I realized that if there are flaws in those four aspect then the classroom will not be as productive as it could be. Erik's belief was that culturally diverse reading in his english class would foster a sense of cultural acceptance in his class. When he realized that this belief was not true he did not know how to respond. He had to face the fact that his disposition and his behavior in his classroom were not promoting a willingness in his students to explore other cultures in their class. So he has a big decision to make about his pedagogy. Should he abandon his vision of a classroom with students from different cultural background working cooperatively or should he work to modify his disposition and behavior in order to promote this vision that he believes in. Both options require major changes in Erik as a teacher, and through my analysis of this case study i am understanding how my own beliefs, vision, behavior and disposition need to evolve with me as I progress through my teaching career. Reflection and criticizing oneself is not easy but it is necessary if we want to effectively educate are students and continue to hold ourselves to the highest standard of teaching.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Web Resources I Would Use In My Biology Classroom


This first link brings us to a service entitle biovisions provided by Harvard University. The video I am most excited to use in my classroom can be reached by clicking "All Media," on the left, and the video is titled Inner Life. I am so excited to use this video because I believe that biology is a complicated field full of dense concepts and facts that can easily discourage young learners. I feel that seeing visual representations of these concepts is invaluable as students work toward a true understanding of the field. I believe that use of this video in the classroom is an example of "good teaching" because it is an engaging and exciting film that was created using state of the art technology and the most scientific understandings. The video provides a potentially life-changing view of cells as a true living entities, and teaches a lesson to young students that words alone cannot. Finally, I believe that this film can lead to competency in the field because the beauty and intrigue of the film will provoke the students to question how cells do all the wonderful things they do, and this will ultimately lead to motivated students.


This second link takes us to a site thatprovides a friendly overview and introduction into the world of scientific journals. I think the site will be useful to young learners of biology because it is designed as an informal introduction that dispels some of the common misconceptions students might have. Also the number of links that the website provides for actual scientific journals is limited, which is important because it doesn't overwhelm the student with choices. I feel that the site could be used by "good teachers' because it provides a simple introduction into the world of real life science and real life scientist. Students can begin to understand how pure science is a cordial and collaborative process, and by exploring some of the links to journals they can see how professional scientists use the same basic concepts of scientific method that students are learning in the classroom. I feel that showing the student how the skills they are developing now are being used by highly trained and sophisticated people justifies the hard work students put into their lab assignments and gives their school work relevancy, which will promote interest and eventually understanding.


This final link brings you to an innovative and highly interactive online laboratory in which students will explore and understand the concepts of genetic inheritance through virtual fruit fly crosses (breeding). I believe that students will enjoy this site and will learn from it because the site is easy to use (the directions for each steps are clearly stated on the screen) and highly interactive (as students follow the instructions the screens often change as the student is walked through a virtual genetics laboratory). I feel that both these aspects are key to holding the students attention and preventing them from becoming frustrated and giving up. I feel this interactive tool allows for "good teaching" because students are presented with a wide variety of options, which allows for independent exploration and encourages students to revisit the resource after class time is over. I believe that this tool promotes competency because it provides students with a sense of working in a real laboratory and introduces them to the type of hands on work scientific research involves.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed. Please visit the links (especially the first) and let me know if you like the resources I chose.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Microsoft Office Word can be used in ...

Microsoft Office Word Can Be Used In The Classroom To Enhance Teaching And Student Learning.

Teachers can…

  • Create and mass-produce professional and easy to read handouts and lesson plans.
  • Give students instant feedback by using "Track Changes" and then emailing the edited document to the student.
  • Share a collection of web page URLs via email that students will use to jump start their research projects. 
  • Use Word in conjunction with SMARTBoard technology to save a digital copy of class notes compiled during lecture.

Students can…

  • Compose and edit written work with greater ease than handwritten work.
  • Create written work that is professional looking and easy to read.
  • Share their work with the teacher and classmates via the Internet.
  • Receive feedback from teachers at night or over the weekend with "Track Changes" and email.
  • Compile an easy to access collection of important information from different web pages for later use by "Copy and Pasting."
  • Use tools, such as footnotes, to professionally cite sources in research papers. 

My first post

Hello! This my first blog post in my first educational technology course in the TCPCG. My name is Matt, and I am hoping to become certified in Biology, Chemistry and General Science. Ideally I hope to be teaching biology at the high school level after graduation, but I wouldn't mind teaching science in the middle school because I have sat in on a couple of classes and it seems really fun.

I have been a full time floating sub at Wethersfield High for the past ~5 months and I am excited to finally be working towards my Masters, and I'm excited to work with all the folks in my cohort!

Currently I am very interested in bicycling, both road and mountain. I've also recently acquired two used kayaks and I really like going out on the water with them.

Thanks for checking in! I'll be in touch soon!