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.