Sunday, December 7, 2014

Blog Post #16

     Here below is my final reflection on how EDM310 has affected me as a course.  I hope that you enjoy.

     Also, in the spirit of reflection and reaching the end of a journey I present to you a beautiful painting by MegPrk titled Mountain Top.

Painting of a girl on top of a mountain

Sunday, November 30, 2014

C4T #4 Summary

     For this round of C4T, I chose the blog Two Writing Teachers.  My first comment was on a post called Biographies: Making Connections by Dana Murphy, which was about the use of biographies in education.  The post also detailed the subtle nuances that go into writing a nonfictional biography such as the ability to create a gripping story while still maintaining the truth.  My comment consisted of me congratulating Mrs. Murphy on the use of biographies as reading is a sadly dying pass time.
     The second comment was on a post titled Note-Taking: A Writing Genre Worthy of a Curriculum of Its Own by Anna Gratz Cockerille.  The post itself consisted of a description of the types of note-taking and their ratings of use.  It also detailed a plan with which to teach the skill of note-taking to students of any age group, and my comment essentially stated my enthusiasm for the entire process.  I have found that the skill of taking notes is one that many college Freshman must pick up quickly in order to prevent a poor grade.

Blog Post #5 Part B

     During my time in EDM310, I can honestly say that I have watched my PLN grow from near nonexistence to quite a solid foundation as I begin my venture into the profession of teaching.  At first, it began with nothing more than a few sites assembled on Symbaloo and a fledgling blog, but now it is has blossomed into a full grown powerhouse.  Where there were once only a few posts on my blog there are now a whopping 36, which does not include this one, and I now have a variety of teacher blogs that I check in on from time to time as well as a variety of YouTube channels that I keep up with.
     I remember thinking at the beginning of this semester that I would probably make a few new connections, but I had no idea that this much progress would be made.  Also, I didn't realize the incredible impact that these resources would have on the way that I research and communicate.  In addition to the digital strides within my PLN, I've also managed to create some avenues at the high school that I used to attend in the form of two mentors that have been quite helpful in the beginning of my quest to become a teacher.
     All in all, I am quite happy with the progress that my PLN has made, and I am excited to see where it will end up.  In celebration of this fact I have posted a painting called the Tree of Life by FerdinandLadera.

Painting of the Tree of Life

Sunday, November 23, 2014

C4K Summary November

     For my first C4K in the month of November, I had the pleasure of commenting on a blog written by a young girl named Valeria P.  Her entry was entitled "My Cause and Effect Writing", and it detailed the meteorological process by which a tornado is created and its results.  I congratulated her on her sound grasp of this particular corner of the scientific realm and wished her a happy and productive school year.

      My second and final C4K took me to the blog of a young lady by the name of Kayla J. who told the first part of quite an interesting work of fiction.  The blob post was titled "The Unknown Phantom Pt. 1", and it was every bit as bone chilling as the title suggests.  The story consisted of a father with exceptional singing talent who was tricked into losing his voice by an dark specter.  His son then rushed him to the hospital only to find that nothing could be done for his father, and that in fact the specter had stolen his father's voice.  I expressed my belief that Kayla should continue to hone her story telling skills within my comment, and I truly hope that she does.  She seems to have a knack for it.

Blog Post #14

     The following blog post is an analysis of the article Teaching Can Be a Profession.

1. The Cream of the Crop
2. Quality Over Seniority
3. Turning the System on its Head

1.    I believe that Mr. Klein raises a true if not disturbing fact about the percentage of our future teachers.  I myself can attest to the astounding lack of discipline that is practiced by some of my colleagues.  In my opinion, Mr. Klein hit the nail on the head when he said that we should only accept applicants from the top third of graduates.  Another example of this same practice lies in the age old profession of agriculture.  After a harvest, a farmer will take the best of his crop and save the seed from that portion to use in his next harvest thereby improving his future products.  This same principle I think should be applied to education.  One should have their best and brightest teaching the next generation not those that scraped by on the skin on their teeth.

2.      Mr. Klein makes the point that in the current system that the factor that determines the rank or merit of a teacher is not determined by the ability to teach but is instead determined by the amount of time served.  I have personally seen this system in affect, and I can attest to its lack of efficiency.  My personal experience involved two teachers that taught higher math subjects that were not state tested, and as a result their teaching prowess no matter how lacking was considered acceptable due to their seniority.  This attitude led to many students leaving home high school with a less than standard understanding of both calculus and discreet math.  I personally agree with Mr. Klein, and in my humble opinion I do believe that a promotion and retention program based on merit should be instituted; however, I cannot state a sure fire way with which to execute this system.  It could be possible to enact some form of standardized subject based test that coincides with each individual teacher's lesson plans, but this logistics behind this seem astronomical.

3.     The final major point that is raised by Mr. Klein in his article is that the system that is in place is no longer functioning efficiently and should be addressed.  A solution that he offered in this portion was the creation of board of teachers that would self govern and address the implementation of the aforementioned systems.  This council if you will would preside over the issues of teacher merit as well as the admission of new applicants.  I once again agree with Mr. Klein in this assessment as well as his suggestion for a type of mandatory internship and an entrance exam that would be required for anyone attempting to enter the system of education as a teacher.  I feel that this system of checks and balances would no doubt remove unwanted clutter and create an efficient educational program.

     All in all, I believe that Mr. Klein has raised some very enlightening points that could only have been discovered after so many years of working within the system itself.  I'm sure that the practice of increased accountability among those of the teaching practice would no doubt create a leaner and more efficient program as well as generate a new respect and higher quality occupation in general.  I can only hope that someone in the position to make this occur will begin to make the necessary steps.

     In closing I will leave you with a painting by H. Charles McBarron titled Bataille Yorktown in honor of the educational revolution that I believe should take place.

Painting of the storming of redoubt at the siege of Yorktown

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Project #12 Part B Group #1 TT2

     Below is my group's Project #12 Part B.  I hope you enjoy.

Blog Post #13

Blog Post #13 Gamifying Education

In what ways can you gamify education in your future classroom?

a. Watch Extra Credits: Gamifying Education
b. Watch The Gamification of Education
c. Watch Extra Credits - Games in Education - How Games Can Improve Our Schools

     The idea of gamifying education has always been a dream of mine, and I am happy to report that the practice is beginning to gain momentum and attention.  The central theory behind the gamification of education is that progress begets progress, and this essentially means that instead of imposing a fear of failure we should foster a sense of growth.  To put it more simply, a student should not feel as if they have nowhere to go but down as is common in today's classrooms.  Instead, they should feel as if they can only progress towards success.
     This idea of moving forward can be implemented rather simply and without any real change to existing curriculum.  An example of this is:

      Say that you are in a college level course that has four tests as the only grades for the class.  Each of these tests is worth 25 percent of your grade as is shown below.

Test 1  25 points
Test 2  25 points
Test 3  25 points
Test 4  25 points
Total 100 points

     Now subconsciously one would walk into a classroom at the beginning of the year with the understanding that they had an A for the course.  This belief then normally becomes stress as they see that in order to maintain that high grade they must perform adequately on these tests or else they will fall to a failing average.  Now let's take this same class and grading scale and put a gamification spin on it.

Test 1 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 2 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 3 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 4 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Total 100 points          = 10,000 xp

     In this example, I have utilized a style of gamification that is somewhat akin to the leveling system of a role playing game (rpg).  I do this merely out of personal preference as the main point is that the student feels that they are rising instead of preventing a fall in terms of grading, but I digress.  As you can see, the total possible points on the tests have been multiplied by 100 and translated into experience points (xp), which represents the students' progress through the course.

A  -  Levels  90  -  100
B  -  Levels  80  -  89
C  -  Levels  70  -  79
D  -  Levels  60  -  69
F  -  Levels  0  -  59

     As is evident, the traditional letter grading system is still in use, but instead of starting at the top of the mountain and try not to drop, the students will climb from the bottom and and be rewarded along the way with level progression.  Now, each of these levels is gained every 100 xp, so every test is essentially worth 25 levels in this example.  To show this model in action we will use a fictional student named Adam and plug some grades in to test our system.

Adam's grades:
Test 1: 82  (2,500 x .82 = 2,050 xp earned)
Test 2: 90  (2,500 x .90 = 2,250 xp earned)
Test 3: 82  (2,500 x .82 = 2,050 xp earned)
Test 4: 96  (2,500 x .96 = 2,400 xp earned)

Test 1: Rose from level 0 to level 20
Test 2: Rose from level 20 to level 43
Test 3: Rose from level 43 to level 63
Test 4: Rose from level 63 to level 87

Adam's final grade was an 87.5 according to his levels, and he achieved a B for the course.

     In and of itself, this system is exceedingly simple to apply, and the mentality of self-propelled learning that it generates is remarkable.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the example that I've outlined above is purely a bare bones replica.  The true personalization of this method lies in something call achievements.

     These achievements, which are inspired by Microsoft's Xbox achievements, are simply bonuses that students can unlock by going above and beyond what is required of them.  An example of such a feat would be at least ten students getting over 2,375 xp (above 95) on Test 1, and for this achievement all the students could be granted a reward such as a bonus of 100 xp.  This simple reward will also begin to implement a sense of community within the classroom as the students that are naturally gifted in the fields of academia will strive to assist their peers in order to raise their chances of gaining the bonus.  This will also lead the lower scoring students to root for their higher scoring comrades because it will encourage them to succeed as a group.

     Now in order to answer my own question,  I would most definitely make use of achievements such as bonus xp for early completion of assignments, +10% xp applied to a day's homework for group achievement on a test, and possibly classroom wide perks that could be earned as a whole.  In addition to achievements I would of course utilize the leveling system for grades as well as strive to create open ended assignments that would provoke a self-propelled learning mentality.  All in all I am quite excited about applying gamification to my future classroom and giving my students something to strive for.

     Additionally this system can be applied to any number of subjects with relative ease, but the true key lies within peaking the students' collective interest.  One can even expand gamification to tackle a multitude of subjects simultaneously, and entice students to go out and find more on their own.  All of this can be achieved by simply placing the figurative pot of gold at the end of the extra mile, which is honestly where the rainbow lands anyways.

     In closing, I will leave you with a picture titled "The Game" by Hans Peter Kolb.

A picture of mountains shaped as chess pieces.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

C4T #3 Summary

     During my third round of C4T I was assigned The Blue Skunk Blog, which is a blog written by Doug Johnson that deals with the impact of technology upon education.
     The first post that I commented on was BFTP: All Administrators Can Learn.  The post dealt with the inability of some administrators to take leaps of faith in regards to the expansion of PBL practices.  To be more blunt, Mr. Johnson detailed the lack of faith with scarce funding in response to experimental education programs, and he also discussed a learned helplessness that many teachers had learned in respect to this problem.  My comment involved my thoughts on how confidence and a never back down attitude can carry you a long way.
     The second post on which I commented was BFTP: Distracting Technologies, and it was about students using technology for purposes such as games and social networking during class.  Mr. Johnson also discussed the possible ways in which to combat these behaviors.  I commented that I believed that these behaviors had to be tackled on the individual level, and how they were very akin to doodling and daydreaming.
     All in all, I would say that it was a very productive and interesting round of C4T's.

Blog Post #12

     For blog post #12, my group decided to utilize Google Slides in order to collaborate.  Below are three links that lead to our individual presentations.  Please enjoy.

Teaching Math to the Blind

The Mountbatten Brailler

Technologies for Hearing Impaired

     In the spirit of collaboration, I will leave you with a photo from the famous movie Shichinin no Samurai or Seven Samurai in English by the famous Akira Kurosawa.  It's interesting that many people do not know that this movie is what the movie The Magnificent Seven by John Sturges is based on.  If you're ever in the mood to watch a fantastic movie about seven brave warriors putting their lives on the line to protect the innocent I would highly recommend either.

Picture of the seven main characters from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai

EDM310 Project #10 Interview Movie

     Here below I present a video interview with my senior English teacher who I believe is a perfect example for a teacher that utilizes PBL to great effect in her classroom.  I hope that you enjoy it.

EDM310 Project #12 SMARTboard Project

     I regret to inform that this project is late due to technical difficulties, but without further ado I would like to present my project #12.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lesson Plan Part B

     Below I have posted a link to the Google site for Group 1 TT2's Lesson Plan part B. Please enjoy.

Preparing for Natural Disasters

Blog Post #11

     In this blog post, we have been tasked with determining what can be learned from a set of videos that show how different teachers utilized PBL in their classrooms.  The videos included Brian Crosby's Back To the Future, Paul Andersen's Blended Learning Cycle, Mark Church Making Learning Invisible, Sam Pane's Building Comics, Dean Shareski's Project Based Learning, and the Roosevelt Elementary's PBL Program.
     Time after time in these videos, teachers were able to seamlessly apply project based learning to their classrooms and curricula.  These teachers engaged their students in a multitude of projects ranging from creating comic book characters to collecting data from and launching weather balloons, and I must say that these projects were quite intriguing.  I suppose the take away message from all of these videos is essentially that children shouldn't be limited by what a teacher believes they can do.  The students should really be given the reins to their own education because they are obviously quite capable of achieving astounding feats on their own, so instead of giving a student a specific goal or  stringent objective I believe that it would be much wiser to set them on a path and watch as they crack the sky.  In essence, I would say that my belief in the limitless potential of the individual and the belief in a new generation of learners was reinforced.
     In closing, I will leave you with John Gillespie Magee Jr.'s poem High Flight in honor of the limitless potential that all students possess.  I have also included a picture entitled Girl Touches Stars by Vreckovka because the stars are out there you just have to reach for them. 

                                             "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

A picture of a girl touching a star.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

C4K Summary October

C4K #4
     For C4K #4 I was assigned Ishita whose post was titled The Band Geek and was a short book review, and her review ended in  the book's recommendation.  I commented that Ishita had done quite a good job in summarizing and giving her opinions in regards to the book itself.

C4K #5
     For this commenting session I was given Sophie who had written a post title The 14th Goldfish, which I will not lie was a tad confusing.  The post itself had no relationship to a goldfish but was instead a story about Sophie's grandparents.  However, the story was well crafted, and her grandparents seemed like lovely people.

C4K #6
     This iteration of C4K had me commenting on a young man named Ryan's blog whose latest post was called Baseball.  In summary the post was an interesting story about the final climactic moments of a baseball game, and I was quite amazed at this young man's ability to craft an engaging narrative.

C4K #7
     In my latest C4K, I visited Alizhay's blog and commented on her post titled Music.  Her post was short but detailed and focused on a project that she had recently completed with a classmate.  The project itself was her crafting musical notes out of modeling clay, and there was a picture included denoting their fantastic work.

     All in all, I'd say that it was quite the interesting session of Comments 4 Kids.

Blog Post #10

     I would like to start off this post by citing  the videos that were integral to answering this post's driving question.  In order to answer said question, I viewed First Grader's in Mrs. Cassidy's ClassCassidy 13 Part 1Cassidy 13 Part 2, and Cassidy 13 Part 3.
     It is quite obvious that Mrs. Cassidy has much to teach in regards to the realm of using technology in an efficient and innovative manner as an educational tool.  Frankly I was quite astounded at more than a few of her ideas as well as her zest for solving the intricate puzzle that is the application of technology to teaching.  Her use of both the more "traditional" technologies such as blogs and internet research and the non sequitur practices such as the use of the Nintendo DS to teach sharing and puzzle solving were quite evocative.  I will strive to bring this out-of-the-box style of thinking to my classroom, and I might just try to use some of her ideas in my future classroom.  I'll have to give some thought to the Nintendo DS idea, but I do believe that Mrs. Cassidy is indeed on to something.
     Now in regards to the advantages of this style of teaching, I can see many, but I do believe that the most prominent advantage would most definitely be the grip that one would have on a student's attention.  Many students are bored with today's stodgy educational structure, which leads to them gaining nothing in terms of education due to their lack of attention.  Therefore, I believe that this type of teaching would result in greater educational yield by keeping the students invested in the learning process.  However, this in turn leads me to address the only major concern that I have about this type of teaching style, which is the what I call the "fun paradox".  What I mean by "fun paradox" is that yes surely education should be fun and intriguing, but at the same time one must make sure that a student keeps using the wonderful tool of technology for play as well as education.  In reality though, this must be addressed on the level of the individual and is unavoidable.  Also, this problem is not so different from that of a child doodling if one were to think about it.
     In closing, I would like to leave you all with a picture of what is known as the Hedge, or the realm that lies between the realms of faerie and mortals in Celtic mythology.  My reasoning for this can be viewed as a metaphor for the growing use of technology within the classroom.  This technology can propel us forward into a beautiful world full of new possibilities, but this new world can also be fraught with danger and should be treated with respect similar to how the Hedge may lead you to a beautiful if not dangerous realm.  Without further ado, I present a photo titled Into the Hedge by ladyrheena.

A photo of a young woman walking into the Hedge

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blog Post #9

     After having read the article Seven Essentials for Project Based Learning and watching the video Project-Based Learning for Teachers, I can say that much can be taken away from how these teachers instituted project-based learning (PBL).  The main purpose of the article was of course to familiarize the readers with the essential characteristics of PBL, which are stated as follows:

1. A Need to Know: The students need to be engaged from the start, possibly with an "entry event" such as a video or guest speaker.  This beginning needs to arouse the students' thirst for knowledge pertaining to the project.

2. A Driving Question: This is where the motive or objective of the project needs to be stated in a clear and concise manner.

3. Student Voice and Choice: A PBL lesson should allow the students creative license in their learning process, and it is the job of the instructor to construct a lesson that affords the students this freedom without sacrifice to the validity of the lesson.

4. 21st Century Skills: The project should cause the students to develop and become further familiar with skill sets that they will benefit from in the future, such as communication, collaboration, familiarity with technology, public speaking, etc.

5. Inquiry and Innovation: The students should be allowed to perform meaningful research in order to fully answer their driving question.  This will no doubt lead to other questions being raised during the process however and should be encouraged.  A student will be more involved if they feel that their work is meaningful.

6. Feedback and Revision: During this step of PBL, the students will judge each other's work and provide worthwhile feedback that will allow for the fine tuning of the students' work.

7. A Publicly Presented Product: This portion of PBL is important as students will normally take more pride in the work that they produce if it is produced for an audience other than the teacher or the classroom.

     Where the article gave an overview of the quintessential PBL layout, the mandatory video listed further specifications of what PBL is as well as what this style of learning can accomplish.  The video also listed examples of driving questions as well as potential lesson ideas for teachers looking to try PBL.

     For my next three informational components, I chose Project-Based Learning and Physical EducationPBL - High School Math, and What Motivates Students?.  The first was an interesting blog article that gave an example PBL lesson plan dealing with physical education in which the students created a physical education program for middle school students.  The article detailed their process through all seven of the PBL characteristics as well as the probable results during each of the steps.  The second was a video, which I thoroughly enjoyed, gave an in depth look at the application of PBL in both math and language arts.  Both of these subjects are usually considered too difficult to apply PBL learning to and for this reason are normally left alone.  The final video dealt with the application of rewards to children in the 21st century.  As could be clearly seen in the video, the days of candy as a viable reward are behind us, but it appears that the age old method of positive feedback on a job well done is still quite effective.  Also, inventive rewards such as walks outside and something as simple as an interesting fact can be used effectively as incentives.

     All in all, I would say that the main idea taken away from all of these videos is that PBL can be applied to any subject if one were to try hard enough.  For example, I believe that their solution to the application of PBL to both language arts and mathematics was quite elegant and interesting.

     In honor of PBL's ability to breed learners that think outside and beyond the box, I have posted a picture of an 18th century painting titled Theseus Victor of the Minotaur by Charles Edouard Chaise.

Painting of Theseus and the Minotaur titled Theseus Victor of the Minotaur

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog Post #8

    Randy Pausch brought up many valid ideas that apply to both teaching and learning in his video Randy Pausch's Last Lecture.  First, I will discuss how I believe that his ideas apply to teaching.  I wholeheartedly agree with his assertion of "not knowing when to set the bar", and I felt that his response to the class that fully exceeded his expectations was fully one of both tact and grace.  He also discusses at some length what he calls a "head fake", and from what I can gather, he is referring to a type of hidden education wherein you are playing a game or participating in some form of entertaining activity that is actually teaching you.  This within itself is the core theory of gamifying education, which I fully support and believe in, and I am quite sure that there are many other aspects of Mr. Pausch's lecture that apply to teaching as these were merely the main aspects that I picked up.

     Mr. Pausch also lists many aspects that are quite valuable to a learner.  My personal favorite chunk of wisdom was his explanation of brick walls.  The idea that obstacles only exist in this road that we call life to strengthen us and truly test our dedication to our dreams is one that I have prescribed to for my whole life.  Another interesting bit was his secret to success as a healthy work ethic will carry you quite far in life, and being truthful and honest is the quickest way to surround yourself with friends that will propel you forward on your path to success.  All in all, I believe that Mr. Pausch did not go silently into the night.  He went out like a super nova.

     In honor of Mr. Pausch, I have posted a picture of the battle of Thermopylae by Jacques-Louis David, a battle where many faced the odds and achieved the unthinkable while laughing in the face of death.

A painting by Jacques-Louis David.

Project #9 Topic #5

     The following links lead to my group's Project #9 round table discussion.  Please enjoy.

Google Slides Version: TT2 Group #1's Project 9

YouTube Version

Implications and Teaching Opportunities for Camera Use in Teaching and Learning.

Part A

     With the advent of the smart phone, the ability to research and discover has been made handheld and lightning fast.  This revelation has forever changed the role of a teacher from fountain of knowledge to that of research coach and guide.  As a future educator, I understand that children are fully capable of answering virtually any question with a few keystrokes, but as a teacher, it will be my responsibility to mold these students into free-thinkers and self-motivated learners.  They were born into a world in which the tools are readily available, and it is our job to instruct them in their proper uses.

     This exponential increase in the computing power of phones and handheld devices has led to many schools acknowledging this fact and beginning to create curriculum based around this technology.  Many teachers and schools have embraced the use of blogs for classroom discussion as well as the use for iPads in lieu of textbooks.  This new use of technology has encouraged many young learners to embrace education because it is both entertaining and challenging.  If this new technological ideology is followed, then I have no doubt that a new generation of self-propelled learners will come to the forefront.

Part B

     As follows is a list of ideas for lessons to be taught given that all of the involved students are in possession of a smartphone or tablet with a camera:

  • Assign the specific reading material in .pdf form so that they may read it using their smartphone or tablet.
  • Hold a classroom discussion using Padlet in order for the children to formulate their ideas about the written work and then address them with the class as a whole. (RST.11-12.2)
  • Have the students create a video of their interpretation of the events within a novel that would then be shown to the class. (11-12.RST.2)
  • Have the children divide into groups and record a group discussion critiquing a written work and then play them for the class.

C4T #2 Summary

     My second C4T involved Mrs. Julie Greller's blog A Media Specialist's Guide to the Internet.  The first post that I commented upon was Books to Read to Kindergartners, and the post detailed a large amount of lists that in turn produced hundreds of age appropriate reading material.  I felt that this post was quite interesting as any kindergarten teacher would be able to fill their bookshelf by merely using four or five of the lists.  The comment that I left praised her for the compilation of these lists and suggested the addition of all of C.S. Lewis' Narnia series as well as Brain Jacques' Redwall series.

     The second post was one entitled 14 Sites About the Salem Witch Trials, and as the title implies, it listed fourteen sites that gave factual information about the Salem witch trials.  This post could be of great use to a history teacher looking to collect research for a lesson or even a student looking for trusted information to base a report on.  I found it quite impressive that Mrs. Greller took the time to compile such a comprehensive list of professional and vetted sources.  My comment that I left on the post was one that discussed my appreciation for her dedicated work and my own interest in the Salem witch trials.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Project #7 Part B

     Hello all, here listed below are my two videos for Project #7 Part B. Please enjoy.

For Class

For Parents

Lesson Plan Project

     Here is my groups Lesson Plan presented on a website made with Google Sites.  We are TT2 Group #1 in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama.

Lesson Plan Project

Blog Post #7

     While analyzing myself and my understanding of the uses of technology in the field of education, I could not determine any true weaknesses.  I feel that I am quite well rounded in the sense of learning how to operate and apply new technologies be they simply new forms of media transfer or wholly new systems.  I believe I have this proclivity due to the nature of my upbringing as my parents felt it necessary that I learn to type and operate a computer at a young age.  Due to this early and frequent access to technology, I am able to adapt quickly to any variation of digital device.
     I found the videos quite interesting as they mostly addressed the various new methods of digital information transfer.  Personally, I found the How To Make An Audio QRCode. video to be the most interesting as I have always been interested in the use of QR codes and their potential.  The idea of using captured audio to reinforce a child's reading in such a way is quite innovative.  Mrs. Ginger Tuck and Mrs. Shirley both do a fantastic job of illustrating the various uses of iPads for the lower grade levels in iPad Reading CenterPoplet With Ginger TuckAVL and Kindergarten Students, and Tammy Shirley Discovery Education Board Builder Moon Project.  Of course, Mrs. Tassin's students prove their mettle in Mrs. Tassin 2nd Grade students share Board Builder Project and Mrs. Tassin students share Board Builder Project by presenting the Board Builder projects that they were able to create using their iPads.  Then the conversational videos Using iMovie and the Alabama Virtual Library in Kindergarten and We All Become Learners bring the various successes of young students with these programs to the forefront.
     All in all, I would say that the up and coming generation as a whole will no doubt have a familiarity with technology.  This however does not discount my age group who grew with the advancement of the digital age as opposed to being born with it already  readily available.  Growth and innovation do not leave anyone behind, but some people just choose not to participate.  In recognition of this my picture is that of a clock to symbolize the eternal march of time.

A photograph of an ornate clock.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

C4K Summary September

     In my first C4K assignment, I was assigned a seventh grade girl named Lizara from Auckland, New Zealand, and her most recent post was titled Our MTV: Lizara, Quasia and Nikki.  With the post was a small music video of which the main point was the subject of unrequited love.  I personally was quite impressed by the fact that children so young were able to analyze such a complex topic that even some cannot approach intellectually.

     My second assignment had me commenting on a young man by the name of Tatum B.'s post.  This young South African fifth grader's topic of discussion was that of Elephant Whispering, and suffice to say little Tatum's empathy towards the elephants was quite remarkable.  I wholly believe that young Tatum will indeed leave a positive mark on the world.

     The third and final C4K assignment for this month led me to fifth grade Tori from a Massachusetts' blog.  Her post was an interesting story in which a young girl named Pepper was inwardly debating whether or not to get a pet crocodile or a light-up pillow.  Frankly, Tori's ability to construct a story in which a character carries on an inner dialogue is a testament of skill and ability.  Within my comment, I enclosed my advice on the crocodile/ pillow dilemma stating that pillows tend to bite less than crocodiles.

     All in all, I was quite impressed with the skills and abilities of children so young, and I am quite looking forward to the following C4K assignments.

Project #8: The Book Trailer

     Here is my Book Trailer for The Jolly Mon, and I hope that you all enjoy it.

Blog Post #6

     It is quite clear that Mr. Capps is certainly full of useful information regarding the ins and outs of project based learning (PBL), and I can say that I learned quite a few things from listening to Dr. Strange's and Mr. Capps' dialogue.
     Aside from the validity of PBL, which was discussed thoroughly in the videos Project Based Learning: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher Part 1 and Project Based Learning: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher Part 2, I also learned a great deal about a program named iCurio in the video titled iCurio: Conversations with Anthony.  The program itself is somewhat similar to an intranet encyclopedia program that has vetted and appropriate sources at the ready, but it takes this principle to another level in the sense that iCurio uses actual websites that have been reviewed and judged appropriate and scholarly.  In addition to this, the program also carries the functionality of using both audio and video and not just text.
     Another important point that was made was the emphasis on experience being a teacher by itself.  In the video, Use Tech Don'tTeachIt Anthony070113, the idea of letting students teach themselves through the process of trial and error.  I myself can vouch for this as it is my method for learning new programs and and any form of technology really, because by using it either correctly or incorrectly you have gained experience with that particular piece of hardware or software.
     All in all, I would say that Mr. Capps is an educator that will no doubt influence his students in a positive manner and push them forward in education using PBL.  In closing, I will leave you with a drawing entitled infinity by H.B. to represent the places attainable once the door of education has been properly opened.
A drawing of doors opening into infinity.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blog Post #5 Part #1

     Although I have just started to create my PLN, I can already see the almost infinite potential that awaits untapped.  The very idea of a PLN would more than likely have been considered outrageous only a few years ago by many who believe that technology is a scourge.  However, I would state that PLNs create for free and digitally what the loftiest realms of academia have been practicing since the first colleges rose to prominence within civilization, and that is educational collaboration.  These virtual Philosopher's Stones that are Twitter, Google, RSS feeds, and many others are being wielded by visionary educators that are leading us to a veritable golden age of education, and the best part is that anyone can join in the movement.
     The video Welcome to my PLE! is a grand example of the feats that are not only possible but easy with the use of PLNs.  This video also goes to show that PLNs allow young students to get input and feedback from experts in the field that they are researching.  With leaps in connections and communication such as this it won't be very long until professional input via digital messaging or face-to-face meetings with programs such as Skype are available instantly.  It's safe to say that the role of the student is growing quickly into an archetype that has yet to be fully realized.
     In addition to the role of the student, the role of teacher has shifted from that of subject specialist to archonic gatekeeper to the realm of knowledge.  This new responsibility is very well described in the video PLN by Michael Fawcett.  Mr. Fawcett makes it a point to discuss the great magnitude of collaboration that takes place within a PLN and their ease of access.  In doing so, he reveals his own introduction to them, and how his initial minute involvement blossomed into a full fledged PLN that allows him and his students access to a mother lode of knowledge.
      Hopefully by the end of this class my fledgling PLN, which as of now only consists of a few twitter feeds, our class blogs and a brand new Symbaloo account, will have grown into a mighty phoenix of a PLN by which I shall make my way into the education amalgamation that is taking place before our very eyes.  In closing, I will leave you with Andreas Zielenkiewicz's The Tower of Babel.  It is a surreal painting that can be interpreted as what can happen without a PLN.
A painting of The Tower of Babel by Andreas Zielenkiewicz.

Project #7 Four Movies, Part A

     Please enjoy my My Passion is... and My Sentence is... videos.

My Sentence is...

My Passion is...

Project #3 Presentation

     Please enjoy this educational presentation on Project Based Learning and Alabama College and Career Readiness.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

C4T #1 Summary

     For my first C4T assignment, I was given Ms. Sharon Plante's blog "The Road to Learning". My first comment on her blog was to a post titled "Twitter is Google for Educators", and during this post Ms. Plante discussed the impact of Twitter as a
public forum and its uses. This of course was an extremely interesting and well thought out
analysis that I particularly enjoyed. She also went on to discuss at length the various
professional uses within the education field that Twitter allows. Using examples such as
asking for advice with tech troubleshooting and polling for ideas involving education
methods, therefore proving her comparison of Twitter becoming quite similar to Google.
My comment to the post was one of agreement and excitement at the thought of the long
deceased public forum being resurrected in the form of a massively popular virtual
medium. I also purported my interest in the professional connections that could be
made using this tool.

     The second post that I commented on was one called "Educators Field of Dreams: will you come?". This post was about the network of professional contacts and resources that
has been built up and is virtually available to anyone with the advent of technology and the
expansion of global communications. Ms. Plante also went on to describe an issue within
the field of education involving educators that are unwilling to utilize this vast ocean of
assets. In my comment, I once again agreed with Ms. Plante and discussed the
disappointment I felt as an aspiring educator upon hearing that there are those among
the field who do not embrace this miracle of technology that is responsible for the ever
expanding global community.

Project #15

     As we all know, the internet is quite a large place and it's very easy to get lost,
but there are tools available to act as metaphorical Charons across this proverbial River
Styx of information. In this post, I will be reviewing eight different search engines and
their uses.

1. Wolfram Alpha: Wolfram Alpha is an interesting search engine because it provides a
multitude of specific results from vague search requests. These results can range from
websites pertaining to the subject, financial records if the subject is a business, the
current trade prices for related stocks, conversion tables and many more results as the
search engine attempts to take any possible topic into consideration.

2. Ebscohost: Ebscohost is a very valuable tool to anyone who is attempting to assemble
scholarly materials such as journals and articles for the purpose of research. Although
the search engine is not a free service it is available through most college libraries
and is invaluable when searching for vetted and peer-reviewed sources.

3. Dogpile: Dogpile is an old search engine in the relative age of the internet, and it
was quite large before the advent of Google. However, Dogpile is once again on the rise
with its clean, minimalist design and its updated cross referencing ability. Soon enough
Dogpile will more than likely be a popular substitute to Google.

4. Bing: Bing is a search engine that shares many traits with Google, but it does differ
greatly in its presentation. What I mean by this is that Bing offers a much more interactive
experience and more obvious cross referencing function than Google. I would definitely
recommend Bing as a search engine when searching for videos and images.

5. Web Crawler: Web Crawler is a search engine that uses the combined results of Google
and Yahoo Search in order to provide a comprehensive search net for its users. I would say
that using Web Crawler is a good way to find those obscure topics that are not exactly part
of the norm of web searches. It can also be used to sweep for all of a person's social media
profiles in one fell swoop.

6. Wayback Machine: Wayback Machine is a search engine that is a part of the Internet
Archive that allows users to surf for pages that may have been removed or are no longer
accessible through traditional means. If you've ever been scouring the web for a particular
page and keep running smack into a 404 error page then I highly recommend giving the
Wayback Machine a shot. You might just find what you're looking for.

7. Ask: Ask is another search engine that follows a premise similar to that of Google's,
but it follows more of a question and answer set up instead of just your standard search
engine layout. This means that they include answers not only from websites, but also from
individuals who have taken the time to answer on an online forum. Coupled with its clean
layout this use of user generated information makes Ask an intriguing search engine.

8. Yahoo: Yahoo is a search engine that also has major uses as a news feed, email hub,
weather service, and much more. Although I cannot vouch for the validity of their online
dating service, I do know that as a one stop search engine Yahoo sees a lot of traffic.
Their combination of a vast amount of services is what has allowed Yahoo to retain its
position as a titan in an age dominated by Google. I would also recommend Yahoo when
searching for anything that is related to pop culture.

Blog Post #4

     As teachers, questions are possibly the most valuable tools available in our educational arsenal. "The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom" article addresses some interesting problems that can occur when asking questions within the classroom setting. The main issue that Mr. Ben Johnson, the author, addressed is the lack of participation by 100 percent of the class. An interesting solution that is given is to ask a question and then wait for a few seconds before calling upon a student to answer. This few seconds of not knowing whether or not they will be called upon will lead all of the students to be thinking of an answer instead of just one student carrying the brunt of the work.
     Another interesting article delivered to us via Washington University in St. Louis, "Asking Questions to Improve Learning" gave some intuitive guidelines for what qualifies a good question. In the article, the distinction is made between an "open ended" and a "close ended" question. The defining aspect of an "open ended" question is that it inspires thought about the multiple responses that could be argued as correct, whereas a "close ended" question is set to a yes, no or a specific answer. The article advises to use a mix of these two types of questions and to follow up "close ended" questions with other questions to continue the train of thought. The idea of appropriate responses to student's answers was also brought up, and the suggestions of positive affirmation as well as not interrupting and applying follow-up questions to weak answers, as a way of leading the students toward the correct response should be taken to heart.
      The final article that I will address in this particular blog post is "Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom" by Maryellen Weimer, PhD. Dr. Weimer utilizes this article to review the idea of molding questions for the classroom. This molding can be done by preparing the questions beforehand, leaving a question unanswered for a time, and preserving particularly good questions. Of course the idea of preparing a question beforehand is self-explanatory, but nonetheless, the practice will provide one with the ability to refine the question so that it is not muddled and confusing. The second premise is a little more tricky as it may seem nonsensical to not answer a question immediately. However, if the question is left unanswered, then the students will be left to ponder solutions of their own thereby exercising their reasoning and critical thinking. Of course the instructor will give an answer to the question after some time, preferably at the end of the session or at the beginning of the following session. The idea of preserving questions is simply to save questions that turn out to be true gems in order to expose students in later classes to the same thought provoking queries. These three ideals if used in conjunction can lead to the fabrication of some truly introspective questions.
     As teachers, the process of asking questions should always be coupled with a second question, "What will they learn from answering this?" This second question will undoubtedly lead the instructor to structure many questions using a mix of "open and close ended" patterns and take the time to prepare them beforehand. Coupling this along with leaving a question unanswered as well as proper responses to student answers will lead to a stimulated learning environment. In closing, the main point teachers need to know about asking questions is to understand that questions are a form of teaching. They can be just as informative as a lecture, and they should be treated as such. Remembering that a question's purpose is to inspire thought and not to illicit an immediate response is the key using queries effectively.
      In honor of the topic of questions, I will leave you with a beautiful rendition of the confrontation between Oedipus and the Sphinx created by Duke Yin.
A picture of Oedipus' confrontation with the Sphinx.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blog Post #3

     Peer editing is a skill that many learn during primary school but do not master until
much later if ever. As such, I feel that the information presented in the required
reading and watching for this blog post to be very astute. I found the introduction
of the Compliments section quite interesting, though many tend to forget that being
helpful and being critical are contradictory in nature. The timeworn phrase, "You can catch
more flies with honey than with vinegar," is a good piece of advice because people are
much more accepting of critique if it is presented in a professional and kind manner.
Consequently, I strongly agree with the Compliments portion of peer editing and consider
it to be based off of an perennial truth.

     The topic of Suggestions also presented its case with stellar clarity, and it is important
to emphasize that sometimes a kind opinion from a peer can be just as valuable as the
correction of an error. With peer editing comes the benefit of an unbiased second opinion
and a fresh set of eyes that can sometimes notice odd wording or unclear references that
may not be as obvious to the writer. Although the sentence may be technically correct,
it may read awkwardly and confuse other readers that don't have the inferred knowledge
that the author possesses. Together with compliments these suggestions can be a powerful
editing tool in anyone's arsenal.

     The final point of Corrections to me is the true meat and potatoes of peer editing
so to speak. Correcting a persons paper is essential because many will not bother to read
a work or take its ideas into serious thought if the grammar is not correct. I know that I
personally am quite put off by any type of serious grammar mistakes in any type of article,
paper, or post, and I tend to lose interest in the message because of it. The serious benefit
to a peer correcting one's grammar however once again resides in the second pair of eyes.
Although checking one's own work for mistakes is essential, getting a second party with a
fresh view on the subject allows for the discovery of minute errors that might have passed
unnoticed by the author. All in all, when the Corrections portion of peer editing
is combined with both Compliments and Suggestions the resulting papers will
more than likely be close to if not error free.

Referenced Material:
Paige Ellis's EDM310 Blog
Peer Edit With Perfection Editorial
Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes
Image of the prolific author George MacDonald writing as a young man.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blog Post #2

     The central message of Mr. Dancealot is the importance of fitting the style of
education to the subject being taught. It is painfully obvious that the subject of dance
could not be effectively taught within a lecture setting. However, I do not believe that
this point should discount the tried and true Platonic method of imparting knowledge
through dialectic reasoning. In conclusion, I do agree with the author of the video
because she makes a valid argument that some subjects must be taught through a more
interactive medium and not just lecture.

Teaching in the 21st Century

A.What teaching used to be.
1.Roberts points out that the original role of the teacher was to be a metaphorical
wellspring of knowledge.
2.This role was fulfilled by the teaching of the facts and rules that govern the world around
3.This used to be acceptable as much of a child's learning was done at school.
B.What teaching is in the 21st century.
1.Roberts then went on to point out that just as the world has changed with the almost
exponential growth of technology so to has the role of the teacher.
2.No longer is it the teacher's job to be the fountain of intelligence as children are
capable of learning not just at school but anywhere thanks to the advent of the internet
and smartphones.
3.Instead it is now the teacher's role to teach the student how to use this vast
myriad of tools that are at his disposal.

     In essence I do believe that Mr. Roberts is correct. I think that the ignominy
attached to technology needs to be lifted so that a whole new wave of learning and
intellectualism can be born from the vast amounts of knowledge that are literally a few
scant keystrokes away.

     In response to Mrs. Wendy Drexler's Networked Student, I do believe that a networked
student is in fact the start to creating an intellectual free thinker, which can indeed be a
powerful thing. It all harkens back to the age old proverb of teaching a man to fish or
giving him a fish. In essence, by teaching a student to network and acting mainly as a
source of guidance or moderator, you teach that student to gather and evaluate
information on his own. This skill is something that many unfortunately lack
in this day and age.

     I believe that Ms. Vicki Davis proves an excellent point in her video
Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts, and she makes it eloquently. The skills
of collaboration and experimentation are large milestones within education.
I also agree with her views on teachers not needing to know everything as well. I have
always been under the impression that to truly live life one must be always be willing
to learn.

     In regards to the Learning Race, the leaders are any individuals who can take
it upon themselves to learn and adapt with the advancement of technology. I have always
subscribed to the fact that if you keep an open mind you are likely to learn something.
Also, it is important to note that many of my age group are indeed technologically
proficient as we have taken it upon ourselves to learn the new mediums for data transfer
and creative thought,and I feel that I myself am in a leading position in the learning

     I am familiar with the concept of Flipping the Classroom. I also believe that yes
teaching students how to use technology and think for themselves at a higher level leads
the limitless potential that everyone has for learning and thought. I am quite sure
this will be much more of a common practice by the time I enter the classroom as a teacher.

The Painting The School of Athens

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blog Post #1

     To be quite honest I have heard very little in regards to EDM310, and I can quite honestly
say that I have no distinct fears of EDM310. If anything I am quite excited about the
opportunity to stretch my limbs considering that this class seems intent on "breaking the
mold" so to speak. In reference to other classes that I have taken during my time as a
student, EDM310 is without a doubt the most technologically involved of any class that I
have participated in so far. I have had blended classes before while at South Alabama, but
this is the first class in which I have had to set up a Blogger account. To further compound
on this aspect I believe that the most difficult part of EDM310 will be making sure that no
assignments are allowed to slip through the metaphorical slats, and I suppose that the
solution to my "Gordian Knot" is to check the master checklist as well as the class blog on a
daily basis. I cannot really say that I have any vital questions about EDM310. I guess I
do have a vague curiosity as to how deep we will venture into coding.

     On a wholly different note I hate to leave you with only my musings about this course, so
please enjoy this lovely landscape painting titled Waterfall by the talented 77chen.

Image of a lanscape painting titled Waterfall

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Practice Blog Post


A. My life in general
1. My family
2. Where I've lived
3. High school experiences

B. My interests
1. Tabletop Gaming
2. Reading
3. Writing

C. My goal of teaching
1. Why I chose South Alabama
2. My swap to English and Education
3. Theories on Education

I come from a traditional southern family that has had ties to the profession of
education since the 1940s. As such, I've live in the rural town of Hurley, Mississippi
for my entire life. Being from a small, rural town, my experience at East Central High
school was the standard affair consisting of making a few timeless friends and learning
some life lessons along the way. I suppose this status quo high school experience may have
been the subtle nudge that pushed me into the field of education. I remember wanting to
make classes more memorable and interactive.

Since I come from a small town such as Hurley I spent most of my time hanging out with
close friends playing some form of tabletop game such as Risk, Talisman, or
Dungeons & Dragons. We would stay up into the wee hours of the morning laughing and just
enjoying the game and each other's company. I believe that these memories that I have
of board gaming are what led to my love for the theories of gamifying education. However,
when not among friends I usually spent my time reading the fantasy greats such as Stephen
King, J.R.R. Tolkien, or George MacDonald. I would spend hours pouring over their works
and experiencing adventures and realms that are only possible through the pages of books
and one's imagination. This proclivity for devouring literature inevitably led to my desire
to be a published writer one day. Thus, I usually spend my spare time writing and editing
my work. Currently, I am working on a fantasy novel titled The Shepherd and the Succubus
that advocates the importance of free thought and acceptance.

In reference to my choice of schools, I chose South Alabama because they had an excellent
Biomedical Sciences program. I know that its an odd qualifier for an education major,
but I was originally a Biomedical Sciences Major. My swap to English and Education
was spurred on by a moment of catharsis that I experienced during last semester. I realized
that even though I was skilled in the scientific fields I was not happy with the idea of my
future career. I also believed that I could make a difference in the field of education
by implementing theories such as gamifying education and encouraging free thinking within
the classroom. On a separate note I believe that the job of the modern educator is to
prepare their students to both think freely for themselves and be proficient with the
ever field of technology.

Drawing of a Dungeons & Dragons party