Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blog #5: Technology Action Plan

A terrific article by Scott Steinberg lists ten ways every teacher should remain technologically aware and advanced. Of the ten, there are several in which I can relate, saying, "Yes, that's me!" Yet there are several at which I have to grimace, saying, "Yikes. I could work on that." Being a product of the generation I am in, I am very aware of the ways to operate popular apps, gadgets, and online services. Also, I am very fluent in "American". This includes the recent lingo that children are not only learning, but also creating, as you read this. I understand social networks and how to invent smart passwords that will protect from the adverse effects of this technology-driven world. However, I am often at a loss as to troubleshooting and where to turn for help when I'm at my wit's end. Unless Google or my dad can give me answers, I'm stuck. In these ways, I need to become more adept.
Now, what are some ways that I will advance the use of technology in my own classroom? After researching what others are doing, and some advice other teachers offer, I have narrowed down my ideas for using technology. A couple of these include the use of blogs, and the use of twitter. An article by Lisa on the website Simple K12 explains fifteen ways that any teacher and his/her students can use blogs in the classroom. The few that I most connected with were meet the author, where you have a specific author connect with the students through a blog; blog-pals, which is much like the pen-pals of yesterday, except the children will connect with a student from another school the teacher has collaborated with; and conducting an online survey, which is where the teacher creates a survey for either the students or the parents and connects it to the classroom blog. An article by Samantha Miller gives 50 ways in which twitter can be used in the classroom. Once the teacher makes a classroom twitter, he/she can use this social media tool to his/her advantage. Not only is the teacher speaking the students language and interacting in something they enjoy, he/she is also teaching through Twitter! Some examples from the website are: track memes or a hashtag, write a short story or poem, plan field trips, play the stock market game, teach probability, take a poll, network with other teachers and schools. There are many more opportunities, so if you think education through Twitter is crazy, check out Miller's article.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog #4: Responding to Changes

As I've mentioned before, the times are changing. When my parents were in high school, computers were in the process of becoming the next big thing. Now, laptops are often considered too big, and our kiddos have their own personal devices that can do a thousand different tasks, yet are small enough to fit in their pocket. So, what is education beginning to look like in these changing technological times? What is my personal response to those changes?

Free Online Instructional Videos (K-12)
We've looked at the flipped classroom before, but these free videos takes it one step further. Thanks to Sal Khan's creation of an online site where children can watch lessons and lectures free of charge, many teachers are turning to this method of teaching. They give the students an assignment of a video to watch outside of class on a particular topic (such as math or biology), then when they return to class, they are given a problem set based on the video assigned the previous night. It's called Khan Academy and it has revolutionized the way students are learning and the way they are taught. As a teacher, I can not wait to try out this flipped classroom idea. I think it causes learning to be more fun, free of textbooks, and more engaging. Using this method, material can actually be learned, rather than just memorized.

Free Online University Classes and MOOCs
In an episode of Ted Talks, Daphne Koller, Ph.D. points out that as medical care, gas, and consumer goods costs increase, so does the cost of education. Actually, the cost of a formal education has risen so much in the past few decades, that it is now at a 559% increase from 1985. This poses a huge problem for those of who could not have afforded it in the first place. Education is a key factor that bridges the gap between low socioeconomic status and high socioeconomic status. But how can anyone afford to build that bridge? That is where free online college classes come in to play. Several places are starting to offer classes online that are free of charge. They are called MOOCs. They range anywhere from The Art of Photography to Entrepreneurship and Family Business. I have high hopes for these classes and I hope the idea of offering them for free creates a spark that other schools ignite into a wildfire, causing education to be more than a dream, but a reality in thousands of lives.

Plans for Free Online Degrees
Sometimes simply taking a couple free college courses are not enough; sometimes a job will not hire without a certificate or a degree in a certain field. This is where Daphne Koller, with the same Ted Talks as mentioned above, steps in and explains how these classes can be turned into a degree. To this I say, "Hear, hear!" If only I had known about this before going into massive amounts of debt for my educational investment! Although the idea is grand, it is new. And thus, a lot of processing, tinkering, and most of all researching must be done to be sure it is a wise move and runs smooth. However, it is worth it!

New Writers/Sources of Textbooks
Do you remember how much money you had to pay for your textbooks in college or even high school? Did that not frustrate you, since you were already paying a large fee for your education? Well, due to advances in technology, those days may thankfully be nearing an end. iTunes U provides software that gives teachers the ability to create their own lessons, reading material, and assignments all on your personal iPad. Then you can give your students access to these lessons on their own devices. This cuts out the textbook middle man--which causes teachers and students alike to cheer. As a teacher, I agree that charging extra money for a book that the students will neither enjoy or even read, is a monumental waste. OpenStax also engages in free online textbooks, called iBooks. This advance into the future is exciting to see. Although I have always been a fan of feeling the paper under my fingertips, and breathing in the smell of books, I see the efficiency of ebooks and I applaud the makers of these ideas.

All of these new phases of technology and education have pros and cons. However, we must move forward with the times, and see the positive in every advance, or else be swallowed alive by the rushing course of history.


  • Sal Khan Report--
  • Khan Academy Website--
  • Ted Talks--
  • MOOCs--
  • iTunes U--
  • OpenStax--

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blog #3: Message and Copyright Info

What happens when you break the law? Consequences follow, right? Whether that is jail time, a fine, or worse, breaking the law is not treated lightly. In the same way, what happens when you illegally use a work that is copyrighted? Should the same consequences follow? Whatever your stance on respectable punishments, remember that using copyrighted material without explicit permission to do so from the author or creator, is a crime. So what exactly constitutes as a copyright infringement?
Well, according to visual by, if you use, post, or tag a work without getting permission-- even if it is on the internet, does not have a copyright logo, is altered by you, or is for non-profit use--is stealing that work. I do not know about you but this was surprising to me! I was under the impression that the "©" had to be on a work if it was copyrighted. Also, know that almost everything you see on the internet is under a copyright. Meaning that every single one of us who posts on social media, blogs, or sends pictures or videos via email, most likely breaks copyright laws without even knowing it. Common Sense Media made a video that sets up clear guidelines about how to navigate the internet and use sources to your benefit the legal way. The video has five simple steps: #1: Check who owns it; #2: Get permission to use it; #3: Give credit to the creator; #4: Buy it (if necessary); #5: Use it responsibly.    These steps were very helpful to me, but also were surprising to learn. I had never thought about finding out the owner of a work and then possibly having to buy it from that person.
Keeping this in mind, I realize that the internet and world of media is steadily growing. This staggering growth has huge implications for our students. Not only do they need to grow with the media, but as a YouTube video pointed out, they have to be prepared for jobs that do not exist yet, using technology that has yet to be invented. These two issues alone will completely alter what teachers teach. Staying in touch with the changing trends of technology, teachers need to be aware and ready to advance the knowledge of their students when it comes to these topics. This way, our students will be ready for the future careers that will be new and foreign to the previous generation.
Personally, with regards to copyrights, I believe that teachers set the example for their students to be upstanding members of the community. Respecting others' property carries into a work they have published, written, created, or designed. If we want our students to have this conviction, we need to model it.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog #2: Utilizing Different Types of Media

We all know media is in the school system. Even if personal devises are banned from campuses, they tend to be smuggled into schools and used under the teachers' noses--or so students think. This kind of technology use can be distracting at best, destructive at worst. However, there are positive ways to incorporate media into the classroom, pleasing both the students, who long for more "computer time", and the teachers, who grow weary of taking phones and tablets away from their students.
After researching new ways to tackle this issue and bring technology and classrooms into an agreement, I have found one of the best ways is to instill the BYOD program in schools. BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. The main idea of BYOD is that instead of the school purchasing all the media needs such as tablets or iPads, the children who already have a personal device bring it to school and use it when they need to use the web. Going against the usual understanding of devices in school, this idea turns the previous negativity into a positive opportunity. When half the students have a device they can bring from home, then the school need only supply the other half with a loaner tablet. This way, every student can have internet access at their fingertips. Furthermore, when everyone in a class has internet access, they are connected in more ways that one. For example, in the third grade classroom, the whole class could be included in reading circles and discussion online, or they could be researching different websites at the same time, covering more ground than group projects would, while still allowing everyone the equal chance to learn.
Another ingenious way to incorporate technology into the classroom is through teaching with content curation. In this method, the main idea is to amass information and then sort it into logical formats for sharing, and more importantly, for retaining. First, the teacher cumulates websites for safe searching, then sets the students loose to personally and individually take a fine comb to these resources and find all the information they possibly can on a certain subject. This is a helpful concept when it comes to the flipped classroom. Consider the third grade class example from before: if all the information they need is on the internet, students are then able to continue learning outside of normal school hours, and then come back to class with any questions or comments they may have for the teacher.
In conclusion, the way technology used to be viewed when entering a school setting needs to be expelled. In its place, we need to implement the idea that media is not a bad thing, rather it is a very useful tool. As teachers, we need to teach all the ways the gift of technology can be used, in a safe and learning-rich environment.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Blog #1: How Technology Changes the Method

In regards to technology, the world is increasingly changing. Our children's generation is experiencing technologies in a way that we would not have even imagined when we were growing up. This poses many reflections, ideas, and problems. One of the most important aspects of technology to consider is how to integrate it into the classroom. Gone were the days when teachers could just take away a problem-causing phone and eradicate the issue of technological distractions. It is all around us, and we need to incorporate it into our teaching methods if we wish to keep the interest of our students' ever-curious and active minds.
Three important factors to consider when attempting to progress learning are: (1) medium-approach, (2) method-way of instruction, and (3) message-what needs to be learned. Through the uses of technology, learning is accomplished (the method) in a variety of ways. Some of those ways include presentations, discussion, gaming, discovery, and much more. Of these, I found that using SmartBoards for more than teacher presentations is becoming a useful technique for interactive student engagement. For example, eMINTS is educating teachers on how to channel students' curiosity into the classroom, so children are motivated to dig for information and implicitly learn. In Hartville Elementary School, eMINTS demonstrated how to use something they called "graffiti walls". In this experience, students split up into groups to discuss a topic, and then came up with either a word or phrase, or drew a picture on the graffiti wall (SmartBoard) to represent what they brainstormed together. This causes the students to actually apply themselves to produce an answer to a question, instead of waiting for the teacher to present all the answers to them. Therefore, the learning will endure longer than the lesson. 
Another good use of technology in the classroom is with infographics. Rebecca Alber wrote a blog about how to ask students questions that will trigger effective thought processes and raise class involvement. She specifically stated five questions that will enhance thinking. Although her blog made sense, it was not until an infographic was created based on her questions that the idea was solidified in my mind. My lightbulb moment with the infographic made me ponder how useful the same idea would in a classroom full of younger students. If they can picture a graphic organizer, or infographic, while recalling the information taught audibly, there is more opportunity for retention of the material. 
In both of these examples, technology is used to change the method in which concepts are taught and remembered. The first example, of the school in Hartville, illustrates the power of discussion and cooperative learning. The second example displays a presentation technique. Each method provides new ways to keep students engaged in the learning process by including what they are enticed by most--technology.