Sunday, May 2, 2010


My Tribe

If I were to create a theme based project, I would like to create a project around the Native American Indians for third grade. This was an awesome unit for me in third grade and I would very much like to create a new and improved unit for students today. My initial idea is to have small groups of students, 3-5 students, chose a region of the United States and create their own tribe that would reside in that region. At the end of the unit, the class will participate in a "tribe fair" where students will try to recruit more tribe members.
Specific roles would be assigned to each student in the group to break-up the work load. Small assignments/steps would be given to structure the project, allowing for continuous guidance and assessment in addition to making the project less overwhelming. Some assignments may have to do with group organization and participation others may focus on research and required areas of learning (based upon state standards). If available and practical to use, online resources such as a project website, wikis, blogs, documents, and other appropriate resources would be integrated into the project.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Techno Classroom Dance Moves

A teacher needs the right moves to transform the awkward processes and daily steps in the classroom into graceful poetry.

These are my Techno Dance Moves for the first year:

1. Discover what technology resources are available at the site and what technology goals and standards the administration has set in place.

2. Asses the students current capabilities and skill level relating to technology, background experience (scholastic and recreation) and home access to various devices and services.

3. Arrange for reasonable student access to necessary technological devices and services inside the classroom, at the school site, and at home. Communicate with parents the intent, importance, goals, projects, questions, concerns, and any other topics that need to be addressed so as to allow students to have off site access to the devices and services needed to advance there education.

4. Plan and implement technology based learning activities that parallel state subject standards on a frequent and regular basis.

5. Plan and implement technology based projects that engage and develop the students higher cognitive skills, connect classroom instruction to a real world context, and allow for the creation of original products.

6. Create a method and system for sharing and displaying student work and progress, instructional outlines and goals as well as a system of communication with students, parents and family members, faculty and administration by way of technology.

Crystal Ball

Technology is extremely important to the education of today's students. One company that makes this their mission is One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). This group gives self contained, rugged and connected laptops to some of the poorest children in the world, hoping to create educational opportunities never before provided. If knowledge is power, than think of how powerful a tool is that has access to endless information. Now put this tool in the hands of a poor, first world child who is taught how to use this tool. With this one powerful combination the possibilities are endless.

In ten years, the children who were given this opportunity will probably be instrumental in the progression of their hometowns and countries. These children could be the hope for ending poverty and other problems effecting those areas. A person who grows up in these sad circumstances and has a modern education is far more likely to solve the area's problems than some outsider on a charity mission. These children may have the opportunity to spread firsthand accounts of this struggle to the world and ways of combating it.

Often we teach our children in the same ways we were taught. If the resources are available, in ten years this act of giving poor children a laptop could be self proliferating. The parents who grew up with this opportunity would probably try to provide the same or better opportunities for their children. This cycle of education could be the solution to many of the world's current problems. Education so often seems to be the key to solving problems, OLPC may very well have set in motion the very thing these countries need to succeed. I hope that other organizations take a hint from OLPC and create more programs that spread technology and expand education to anyone and everyone on the planet. These organizations would be helping the world while creating the possibility of life long customers. It would be a win win situation.

You Tube as Homework

Individual opinions and views differ greatly on using technology in the classroom. The bottom line should be if it is an effective learning tool, use it.

In one of my classes, a recent homework assignment was to watch a You Tube video and use a graphic organizer consisting of images, relating to the video, to take notes. As a student this was a welcomed change from writing papers and piecing together presentations. The graphic organizer helped structure the main points of the video and focus my attention on the key topics my teacher wanted me to learn.

Using this type of assignment has many benefits and some shortcomings. I would love to use this type of homework with my students for everything. It is an effective teaching/learning method and applicable in a variety of subjects. Students would be more willing to watch a video and take notes rather than do a worksheet or read a chapter out of their textbook. This type of exercise also utilizes many aspects of language and learning styles. The student sees and hears the video simultaneously, the video probably has more effective imagery than most textbooks, the student writes what they hear, and sees a single image for each main point, a powerful memory enhancer.

The shortcomings of this type of homework are the same as any that ask students to use the internet. What if the student does not have a computer at home? What if the student does not have internet at home? What if the student stumbles upon unsuitable material while online? These "what ifs" seem to dominate the rational for teachers not to even try to use a variety of technology in their teaching. My concern would not fall under the "what ifs" for the younger students. My thinking goes to communicating this type of assignment to the parents, since they would have to supervise the elementary students while on the computer. The younger students would love to do this type of homework but parents or care givers maybe reluctant. If the teacher is lucky, clear, has effectively taught students how to complete this type of assignment independently and effectively communicated with parents, You Tube could be a regular and effective teaching strategy. Who would have guessed it, not me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Motivation

Questions like "why do you want to be a teacher?" and "what is your motivation for going into teaching?" have been brought up numerous times lately as I start my journey into the world of education. I think it is important to consider the motivation and root rationales carefully and from multiple angles. It is important because a single teacher can make or break a student. I know of multiple examples, some first-hand others from friends.

My motivation is to help students reach their highest potential and to help ensure the future of the world.

There, I said it.

Ok really, Being a teacher is something I think I can do, do well and enjoy. I want to be there for the students and help in any way I can. Not to mention how rewarding it is to see a student succeed. The look on their face is... there is nothing like it. You succeed with them.

To perpetuate these successes I will use whatever I can. I have no problem going back to basics if that is what is needed. I welcome any new approaches for teaching and learning that will lead to learning success. I am open for anything.
I just hope that others who are taking this road are as willing and open to better ways of doing things regardless of if the technique is new or old. I think that most people who want to teach, want to help students, I know it’s not the money.
Teachers, I think, ultimately get paid through student success. Although you may not be able to buy a new shiny pair of Crystal Charm Pendants for your favorite Shitzu, an awesome creamy brie or some funny pens with spring loaded puff balls on the end that wiggle when you write, this type of currency that teachers get paid pays the sole.

Maybe the sole has some funny pens with spring loaded puff balls on the end that wiggle when you write. You never know.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Whole New World

Regarding The World is Flat 3.0 Thomas L. Friedman lecture in 2007 provided by , there are some key ideas that educators need to consider and many more points that are good brain teasers in general. The key ideas that could use some attention are Friedman’s “flat world rules” #2 and #3 also his idea of multiple specialties. The first flat world rule is inherent to human nature “whatever can be done will be done” at one point or another, something that warrants a discussion at an appropriate grad level in schools but does not need to be an ongoing standard.

What may warrant some focus is that in the idea of economic competition. The competition will not come from other countries, companies, or co-workers but from the limits of your own imagination. Friedman mentions that “how well a school inspires, enables, and empowers imagination will be the most important edge” something that should have always been a driving force in education Friedman places into a modern context. Educators should, and I believe most do, try to inspire, enable and empower their students and their students’ imagination.

Although, to me and the more I find out about the education system we have now the truer this seems: the responsibility of most aspects of a young child’s welfare is being placed on the public schools and the teachers that work there. The public schools are asked to do more and more while receiving less and less support. To inspire, enable and empower students starts at home and is strengthen by a firm, sound and innovative infrastructure and only reinforced by formal education.

Moving on, another key idea that could use some attention by educators is the flat world rule #3. As Friedman explains that how well you can collaborate, utilize, and navigate horizontally (as opposed to the vertical chain of command) in the flat world, will determine how much more productivity you can capture. Those people who can utilize this horizontal system will capture more productivity and have a greater advantage. Educators, if this is the case than students need to be introduced and taught skills that will allow them to thrive in this horizontal world where everyone and anyone can be their own corporation, author and expert in any way they choose. As a result these educators will need the training, funds, resources, materials and support of the Government. Once again the learning process starts and ends in the home and parents need to help their children in every way possible.

One last thought Friedman mentions is the idea that specializing in two or more fields is powerful when they can be brought together creating innovation and imagination. So teachers, parents, and governments will need to encourage and make this idea possible. In this country, people’s careers jump around so much as it is that the cultural foundation is laid for this idea to transition easily into reality. All that is needed it the structure. Why not take all those different jobs people have and put them into focus and gear it towards multiple expertise.

So educators, what needs to be done according to this chain of thought? Students need to be challenged to use their imagination in every way possible while given the knowledge and tools to effectively collaborate, utilize and navigate in the now horizontal world and at the same time preparing them for dual expertise. The methods for doing all of this, however, would still need to cover the fundamentals while attempting to keep up with the flat world. It is a whole new world.