Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Final Reflection

From the time I walked into this class, until the time I left, I NEVER knew what to expect. I don't mean that I was confused about the expectations of the professor, or what assignments were assigned but I never knew what I was going to learn next. Half if not most of my learning through this course was through my own experiences. The classroom was a place to convine and share thoughts/questions, however all my learning was done on my own terms and it was individually catered to me. None of my classmates could say that we all learned the "SAME" thing through this class and to be honest THAT WAS THE POINT!!!!!!
Learning and Technology was not how to use a computer, it was how to enhance learning in individuals and how to use technology to create a form of networking that will expand our learning and thought processes even after we have finished our Master's program. We learned from eachother and from complete strangers around the world.

One of the highlights for me was Thomas Pink's A whole new mind. It literally BLEW MY MIND!! Usually texts in classrooms are dry and to be honest they can be quite meaningless to the course, but this book was hard for me to put down because every day I saw how my teaching was effected by my students and how my students were effected by my teaching. There is give and take relationship in the classroom and it is important to know that each student needs individualized support. I was offered to sell back my book at the end of this semester and I did. The only reason I did is because I downloaded it on iPad/iPhone so I could take it with me wherever I go!

I think the tools that we learned through the semester like Diigo, Blogger, and GoogleDocs are something I will use CONSTANTLY through my Action Research next semester. I almost would consider this course to be a prerequisite to the research methods course just for the capability to use these tools in a very effective way in the masters program. I also enjoyed creating a PLN and although I may not put the time and effort that I had before while in this class, I will definitely keep connected because it did make a difference to my understandings of becoming an educator. I was able to ask, answer, and ponder new questions and ideas that people were sharing and discussing. It made the world of teaching not feel like you are on your own raft and floating through an open sea, but it felt that I was never alone and that there are SO many great teachers out there that share my passion.

Overall I loved this course. There were times I felt very overwhelmed by my PLN but that was more of my scheduling and my preferred study habits. I like to do one assignment at a time and usually within 24 hour increments. Having to do 15-20 minutes each day on twitter and then random times to Blog was something I had to get used to. I loved how we became a little family and we all are willing and ready to help one another.

Thank you so much for a wonderful semester and although it seems that I am giving my FINAL thoughts.... believe me... Ms. Davis will have more thoughts coming!

Just THOUGHT you'd like to know!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Final Assignment - Video Reflection

For our last official assignment in this class we were supposed to create a video presentation of our journey thorough our Learning and Technology class. Although the initial plan was to create Prezi and then use Jing to record us giving our Prezi we were given the creative right to do anything we wanted to complete the project. So although we did not use these tools in class I thought that the beauty of the course was to evaluate how we learn and why we learn. I decided to use iMovie and Macosaix (like mosaic) as I wanted to get to know how to learn these two tools in more depth. I choose iMovie also because I wanted to show a majority of the pictures I used as tiles in my Macosaix to create my apple. The apple represents learning and to make the photo I needed to use all the pictures, projects, people, and tools I saw, created, met, and used while in this class.

My full video reflection is below. I apologize for the choppy tone, and poor transitions. It took a lot longer than I thought to find the photos, make the apple, import the images, create a voice over and then edit the timing of the whole thing. In the end I'm proud of my work not only on this project, but in this class. I hope you enjoy!

You can also see this video on my YouTube Channel - Ms. Davis Thought

Just thought you'd like to know!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Teacher Panel Reflection & More

Last Monday's Class we had a teacher panel of four experienced teachers and how they use technology in his/her classroom. None of these teachers were using iPads, smartboards, or ridiculous technology but their ability to have students using laptops and computers in the classroom seemed to be very successful in these individuals classrooms.

When looking back on the discussion I felt very much like a fly on the wall. I was interesting to see how professional teachers spoke with one another and reflected on their classroom experiences but I'll admit at times I was a little lost. As a visual learner I would have liked to seen pictures of the classrooms or examples of wiki pages and I would especially liked to have seen examples of projects and lessons. I did however really enjoy hearing teachers say how much blogs have influenced their classroom. Being in this class at USD and having a blog myself I love seeing how my learning has changed since the first class, AND I'm able to store all of these experiences in one place. I think that if this is something that I feel so passionate about, I look forward to seeing how my students react to blogging as well.

Trinity's Mom is on the left. Do you notice my book?!
In the end I really enjoyed the teacher panel because we got to hear from people using technology, and not just imagining how we can use technology in our classrooms. This reminds me of my experience this past week while waiting outside of Nothing Bundt Cake. (Back story.. this past week a new cake store opened in Mission Valley and for the opening the first 50 costumers that bought a budnt cake received free bundtlette cakes FOR A YEAR! Being a huge cake fan I was there two hours before the opening and happened to be 4th in line.) While waiting in line outside, reading Disrupting Class, I started making friends with the people around me as they were very curious about the book I was reading. I mentioned this class and how amazing technology is in the classroom and how learning is very different from traditional teaching strategies. The person in front of me started talking about how her daughter (now 11) is dyslexic and how traditional teaching strategies have not helped her daughter. Back in the day her daughters administration at her old school wanted to hold her daughter back in 1st grade, but the mom was very passionate that if her daughter was held back that she needed new strategies in the classroom to help her cope with dyslexia (although she was not tested at the time, teachers and administration all agreed she probably had that learning disability). The administration failed to give any feedback on new teaching strategies if she was retained so the mom pulled her daughter out and put her in private school. Through our discussion she was saying how now her daughter, Trinity, is doing very well, maintaining a C+, B- average while maintaining a full workload because new strategies were implemented in the classroom but her confidence in reading is still very shaky. Having my Ipad, I asked the mom if she has ever used any reading apps on the Ipad. I explained to her how my brother's girlfriend, a 4th grade teacher, uses her Ipad so that students record themselves reading. She has increased her students reading scores and confidence because it is so engaging and they learn from their own voice, not a teachers or peers. I'm trying to remember which app we ended up using but she was so impressed that she went home that night and downloaded it for Trinity. 

We have been keeping in touch but so far she said that her daughter can't put down her iPad and that she records herself ALL the time. I was just thinking about how much one piece of technology can help individualize a students whole learning process. For this girl Trinity, her confidence can go up because she is in charge of her own learning. I think this echos the panels amazing journey they have had in their technology based classrooms and how differentiation is so much easier when students have the ability to go at their own pace.

If I hear anything else from my budnt cake friend and her daughter Trin I'll let you know. I expect to bump into her each month when we pick up our free cakes :).

Just thought you'd like to know!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Assignment #7 - Student Centric Education

When I hear my professor Jeff Heil said that our assignment was to think of creating a new school, I thought he was crazy! The idea of creating my own school initially created a bit of anxiety in me. The amount of pressure it takes to decided how an institute is run, what to content to focus on, not to mention how to meet all the needs of students, faculty, and parents makes my studying my current life problems look like kids stuff! With the amount of political pressure and restrictions I imagine that any teacher and/or administrator would not just take up creating their own school for a hobby.

Even though that reaction seemed to take an eternity, just a few seconds later when Jeff then added that the assignment should be based on a Student Centric school model, all my worries flew away. A student centric model is exactly what every child dreams about. A school where learning is engaging, individualized, and meaningful. Where teachers are mentors, not robots. Where classmates are teammates, not enemies. And where schools are the passageways, not prisons. Where understanding is connected to knowledge instead of standardized test scores.

For my student centric school, the most important aspect would be the access to technology. In my school there would be no costly textbooks, but students would have access to curriculum electronically. Although it seems that electronic curriculum would be expensive to develop, the ability to reproduce the information for free would reduce costs beyond belief. Also students can have the option of learning wherever and whenever they choose. Although I think teachers need to be present in the classroom as mentors, since students are driving their own learning the teacher should be available when students need them (aka some teachers can teacher in the evening when some students work best).

Where I struggle with my student centric school is how curriculum will be chosen and how teachers will be trained exactly. Although the curriculum should be chosen by the teachers and in part by the students, I think that in some way that there should be uniformity of what curriculums are chosen. Although I believe students should should be in charge of their learning, what they learn should not always be the choice. A young child will chose to only do what they like or what they can do but not necessarily what they need. A student needs good building blocks of reading, writing, and other subjects like science, math and history. I also think that students need introductions to the arts such as physical education, visual art, music, and technology. I think students will guide there way through these subject but I think that these subjects need to be included in EVERY child's eduction.

Regarding teacher training, I think that the model would suggest that teachers teach each other. My problem is where does that start? Just because I'm a math teacher and if I work with a new teacher looking to teach math, how will I know if I am teaching him/her everything they will need to be a valuable teacher? Will there be guidelines or a syllabus for training? If so who designs it? [It should obviously be teacher but where do we choose the teachers and how many?].

So in the end I think I would like to work in a student centric classroom. My philosophy for teaching is having students learn through self discovery and I think the student centric model correlates with that philosophy. I would like to work with people who are passionate to learn and teach and I think it would be wonderful to see students engaged in not just learning but also teaching their peers. Although I am unsure of a few parts of my own student centric school I think the choices that will be used to make it student driven will make me want to work there.

Just thought you like to know!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Assignment #6: Disruptive Innovation

The assignment for class this week was to watch a short clip and read a small snippet of Harvard professor Clayton Christensen's Disruptive Innovation theory. Having a background in business administration I have studied this theory before as it deals with how consumers always move to the next best thing, and businesses go on a roller coaster for making costumers happy. 

The word innovate means (definition provided by google)
  1. Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
  2. Introduce something new, esp. a product.
In our market, costumers want something that is newer, cheaper, smaller (or bigger) and/or more useful. 
If we look at recent event, we can breakdown innovation theory using Blockbuster for example. Back in the day people could only purchases VHS tapes in order to view them at home for their own entertainment. Then a company came along and had the "innovative idea" of housing hundred of different movies and people would only have to rent the movie (at a cheaper price) then having to buy and store all the movies they wanted to see. Blockbuster was a HIT! I bet you can remember a time in your childhood when you had friends coming over, and you were able to rent a movie for that evening. 
But then again, we know how this story is going to play out. The phrase "all good things must come to an end" support disruptive innovation. For blockbuster, the company Netflix came to take all the glory. Please were "over" going to a physical store like Blockbuster to get a movie, they wanted to be lazy and have the movie sent To them. This new innovation of having a company do all the work for you disrupted Blockbusters successes. It is hard to compete when you can play ONE flat rate for an endless amount of movies AND those movies had due dates or late fees PLUS they are delivered to you! People didn't mind waiting a few hours if someone else did all the work. This left Blockbuster to fall behind and file for bankruptcy multiple times. NOW we also know that Netflix is also now being "outdone" with different companies such as RedBox since Netflix has increased their prices. 

Disruptive Innovation is the cycle that no matter what goes on, there will always be something new around the corner. Usually the "underdogs" or companies that create a new product are most likely going to succeed over big corporations that are introducing a new product. Although this theory seems only tied to marketing and businesses, the theory also can be found in education. In simple terms you can see the transition from chalkboards, to whiteboards, and now touch screen interactive "Smart" boards. These tools have been used for the teachers instruction to the students, but now the disruption is, less about the teachers and more about tools for students! This is where class sets of computers, laptops, iTouch, and now even iPads are being introduced into the classroom. Although Smartboards and iPads are the top of the pack, there will soon be new products and tools that will change the face of education and technology again. I'm interested to see where it goes. 

Just thought you'd like to know!
~Ms. Davis

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crisis Averted!

In my early blog post from today I was looking for a way to have selected teachers send information to just one teacher, me, but to also have it so the other teachers could see the information that their colleagues included. Why I was so concerned is that I thought that getting some teachers to fill out a Google Doc, or a blog would be a nightmare.

BUT ALAS! Our email system has something called a "briefcase" and you can share folders from your briefcase with selected faculty members on that intranet. They can even gain status to alter the document/presentation, or just be given a "read only status". In a way, its Google Docs using our schools e-mail program. No one from my school (even the tech and admin) knew of this feature, so now I have to give a tutorial on Zimbra briefcase next week for professional development. They have been sending large files back and forth for years!

I just wanted my blog and twitter followers to know that I have solved the tech problem I was looking for help with before. Now to find a way to keep these parents and admin happy... WISH ME LUCK!!

Just thought you'd like to know!

S.O.S. Networking Help!

I'm asking for help from the general education, special education and tech public that can help solve a logistical problem in a more effective way.

I have a student that is currently being tested for ADHD, however the parents are very insistent that he had ADHD and that is why he has not been able to finish any of his work, or this disorder doesn't allow him to pay attention for instructions on his homework. Although we have a LMS (moodle) website for the whole school the parents want each teacher (myself included) to individually email the parents EVERYDAY with the assignments AND detailed instructions of what the student is supposed to do. In addition I need to be "CCed" on all the e-mails from each of these teachers as I help the student during the Directed Studies (a specialize study hall) and I also need to know this information.

My question is...
Is there any website, interactive calendar, blog, etc that will allow each teacher and the parents to access the page AND each of the teachers can contribute without having to have a shared account. The last kicker is, does this website or whatever have the ability to send reminders to the parents? 

I would hate to receive 6 e-mails a day (minimum) and to also have to organize all that infomation from an e-mail into my own calander of due dates and such. In a way I'm asking if there is a way that I can create my own LMS page for just one students where student and parents can see, but all the teacher information is in the same place (instead of their own seperate pages).

ALSO NOTE! Since this is my own personal view, I can't promise that other teachers will be on board with this idea. I need something simple to use and does not need a whole lot of up keep.

I'll take ANY suggestions!

Also feel free to DM me on twitter.... @MsDavisThought

Just thought you'd like to know....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

#Edchat 11/1/11

Although I have be a present for many #edchat discussions on Twitter, I never found myself so involved in the discussion until today. This morning the topic, for the noon EST chat, was along the lines of "What is the rift between IT and teachers and how can this problem be resolved?" Initially I thought that this was going to be a very one-sided discussion becuase I was assuming that there would be only teachers in the conversation... BOY was I wrong!
Join on Twitter! Every Tuesday.

The discussion was intense, engaging, heated and widely debated. Teacher, administration, IT personnel, everyone was present! Some people were talking about how IT (tech teams) worked (both positive and negative) at his/her school while others were accusatory of who's fault it was, teacher asking a lot, tech never saying "yes'". I was a little frightened that this was going to be a blood bath on twitter. Then all of a sudden some tweets came out talk about how it is all about communication and both sides need to come to a better understanding of what the other does. This of course started a huge debate of whether IT members should be teachers, or if they should be in the classroom to see how a teacher works. I loved how people were so passionate and realistic in their responses. 

Since I was on my TweetDeck I could see many pairs of people were having side conversations and people were being re-tweeted left and right, but to be honest sometimes I think the deepest thoughts and comments were lost by the increased traffic. Personally I would find a comment to respond to, but by the time I made my comment under 140 characters, the new "hot topic" took center stage. Soon I just focused on tweeting individuals and responding to others that commented on my thoughts, but there were many things that I think were left unsaid. Being a "new-be" I just need to practice getting my ideas out, but for the most part I learned a lot today.

Is there a gap between teachers and technology? What about the IT staff?
The major concerns, coming from a teacher, is that IT has more of the decision making power when it comes to hardware and software in the classroom. Since teachers are the ones using the systems it seems odd that teacher are not given the same input as the IT has. This is were the communication becomes key. Something I kept mentioning is that the war is not between the IT and teachers, but the administration need to help bridge the gap. Personally I think during the summer the IT and teachers need to come to an agreement on next steps, and even have a refection moment of how the year went. I think teacher sometimes view IT as the people who fix our computer or the people that run around when the internet is down, but they are so much more. During the chat there were many IT staff that were present and in my opinion the #1 problem IT had with teachers was that they were being undermined as "fixers" and not "innovators". As teachers we need to take the initiative in the technology we are given and try to play around with it to get a better understanding. We also need to help our peers instead of just asking IT. At my school we have the whole "Ask 10, then Ben". What this means is that before we write an e-mail to IT, we ask a few people (around 5, the 10 was to rhyme with Ben), and if our co-workers or even our students (the biggest techs!) couldn't figure it out, then you can message IT. This gives teachers a bigger connection to the technology and helps create a professional support group. However this may be more of a reality if teachers were trained more with how to resolve technology problems instead of just learning how to use the technology. This is where I see the rift forming, but also where the rift can be resolved.

In the end the #edchat was a very exciting moment of my day. I wish I was not limited to 140 characters, but in the end I'm glad some people are limited! I can see how twitter is a great professional development tool and I think I have made some relationships in the educational world that I will keep in touch with for years to come. The best line for day was about how "teachers need to be teachers, learners, IT, front desk support, and even janitors." I'm looking for the exact quote, but it was still very powerful. As teachers we are so much more than just the person giving grades. We are part of a community.

Just thought you'd like to know!
~Ms. Davis

Monday, October 31, 2011

Classroom Observation

For Learning and Technology we are to observe a classroom that uses technology, and then write a reflection on it. I decided to use the interaction between my co-teacher  Tanya and myself and how we found a new program that influenced our lesson today.

While prepping for class today, Tanya and I were discussing about various ways to helps students remember and practice the simple divisibility rules (i.e. how do you know if a number is divisible by 3?). Using our smart board we went through a bunch of interactive software that would allow the teacher or student to drag numbers into a vortex of "divisible by 3" or "not divisible by 3". If the number was correct it would be sucked into the vortex, if it was incorrect it would stay on top of the vortex and make a sound. It was a great way for student to get immediate feedback of their choices, but still gave the teacher the ability to ask questions if students chose the wrong number. This was great, but by pointing and dragging, students will eventually get bored and this is more of a way to introduce the rules but not to practice them.

This lead us to trying to find a new way for students to interact and practice rules individually. We found this new game called "Fling the teacher". This is an interactive flash game that can be customized to your content of choice. We also found that there is a site called http://www.contentgenerator.net/ that has many customizable games. In our class we created a Fling the Teacher for using the divisibility rules. The game is like a reverse Hangman. Students are given multiple choice questions but for each correct answer students get a piece of equipment. After answering a certain amount of question the equipment turns into a catapult that will fling, or throw, the teacher across the screen.

During class each pair of students was given a computer and the website for this game. Students worked in pairs to find the correct answers to fling the teacher. So many students were engaged and very motivated to know what the divisibility rules were in order to create the catapult. I saw many students having conversations and creating strategies in order to work towards a common goal.

Between the Smart Board activity and the computer game, I think that students were able to become more engaged, but they also became intrinsically motivated to make schemas and connections to the material. If students had questions, they asked first asked their classmate, and if both struggled a teacher could help them through. Since students played a game they forgot about the academic structure of the rules, but they made the rules their own. I plan on using many more games in my classroom, and many more ways for students to interact using the technology of the Smart Rule.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Assignment #5 - Innovation Week

Our latest assignment this week was to take a week in which we had no FORMAL responsibilities except to just find something we have wanted to do or be curious about, and (as Nike would say...) "JUST DO IT!"

The initial plan that I had walking out the door last monday was to discover the functional usages for Google Earth inside the classroom and perhaps for the curriculum that I am in the process of developing. Tuesday afternoon I found multiple website, books, and articles that was leading me towards my goal. I was READY!! But then reality set in....

Tuesday I met with my research professor and my curriculum professor regarding the assignments that will be completed at the beginning of December. My world turned upside down, and panic began to set it. The idea of Google Earth was one of the lowest "to-dos" of my totem-pole, so I switched my focus. I needed to find something that would not add to my stress, but would reduce it.

That's ME in Idyllwild, CA!!!
Last 2 weekends ago my boyfriend, Brett, and I went to Idyllwild, CA and went to Suicide Rock to learn how to rock climb. The experience was so amazing for both of us, that we decided to make rock climbing an activity that we can do together and additionally it will increase our strength.

THIS past week we researched multiple websites looking at equipment such as shoes, harnesses, ropes, carabiners, and even places we could climb (indoor and outdoor) in the san diego area. We used Microsoft Excel to make a table of our individual and collective costs and even made charts that compared different companies prices (both online and in-store). By the time Friday came around we had a full financial plan of what we were going to buy, where we were going to buy it from, and how we were going to split the expenses. Saturday afternoon we went and purchases our new materials and joined Solid Rock Gym of San Diego (an indoor climbing facility in San Diego county).

The ironic part of the whole week was that I felt guilty for not sticking with my Google Earth initiative, however through our research for looking at places we could climb, Brett and I actually used Google Earth to look at places around the world we could climb one day. I was able to use Google Earth for its basic functions and I enjoyed it so much that I am excited to go back and see how it can engage my students in the classroom. The best part is that most of the research (the boring stuff) has been done but now I just need to comb through all the information and try it out for myself.

Just THOUGHT you'd like to know!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Calling all Blog Pals!

I'm a Masters of Education Student at the University of San Diego and I'm in a Learning and Technology Class. My six classmates and I are creating our own PLN (personal learning network) and we are trying to share our blogs in as many ways as possible! We have a few assignments on our pages but we are trying to move from a structured educational framework to following our own passions of technology. Please view ANY and ALL of our blogs and just feel free to comment and create a professional relationship with us. If you have a blog, share it with us too! We want to find people that we can communicate and learn from. We want to expand our thinking in our own direction of education. We range from ELL learners, to math, to arts and education.

If you are interested in creating a "blog pal" relationship please let me know. (blog-pal as in pen pal using blogs). If you have a class just like ours, I'd love to hear about it! We are all forever learners in the world of education and the more comments, critiques, questions, and answers are all welcomed!

And that's what Ms. Davis thought and is REALLY excited to see who responds!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Daniel H. Pinks book "A Whole New Mind" is literally a "MIND BLOWING" read. Even in the first three chapters my understanding of the human brain and how it works has grown exponentially after each chapter. Not only does the book mention about how our brain is divided into "two symmetrical yet unequal halves, but it talks about how our world is changing, even though our brains are not.

Pink talks about the transition of human expansion over the last 150 years and how the human mind has influences these changes. The first transition was the Industrial Age - when a person need to produce information through mass production and mechanics. The second was the Information Age - when our society relied heavily on "knowledge workers" (those who are able to contribute to to society through academic professions such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc). Today we are entering the Conceptual age were we are entering an era where the right-brain thinking  is necessary. Through our abundance, outsourcing and giving computers getting the attention of our work force we need to expand our ideal by becoming creators and empathizers. In short, today it is not just about creating an object to fix a problem, but creating a purpose or a unique way to view the problem and find solutions. We are past the time of simply "plug and chug" and we now need new visionaries in life.

When reading Pink, it is hard for me not to think of the late Steve Jobs. In his recent years, he was not successful for just making a computer and for making it accessible,  but it was taking the next step to think of the unthinkable. We are no longer looking for the left-brain model, we need a right-brain creator to continue our society into the world of technology and growth.

And thats what Ms. Davis' left AND right brain thought.... ;-P

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Assignment #4 - Cultivating My PLN

For our assignment this week, we were to watch Visitors and Residents and post where we were on the continuum and where our future was on the internet. Since we watched a video, I thought it would be fun to try and create my response via video. I've used iMovie before but I decided to just keep my response short, sweet, and low tech. Enjoy!!

If you have any trouble watching the video, feel free to see it on Youtube.com/MsDavisThought

And thats what Ms. Davis Thought....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How I Have Used Technology Thus Far in My Classroom

As I mentioned in my "about me" section, I teach both Mathematics AND Special education (mild/moderate) for elementary and middle school students. My Sp.Ed. Directed Studies (DS) course is a class designed for included students with learning disabilities to receive assistance with organization and homework or extra help being re-taught lessons to help gain understanding in all content areas. These students meet with Mrs. Richardson and me three times a week instead of taking an elective so they have a better chance of passing their middle school classes. 
One Tuesday morning in mid-September Mrs. R came up to me and said... "Here we go again. Just as expected, our students aren't turning in their assignments on time." Although ALL DS students are required to show their planner with all their class assignments, it was very unlikely that they will look in the planner again once they got it checked. This got me thinking..... How can the students SEE what they have to do?
Although I am new to SmartBoard technology, I am quiet a "wiz" in excel and tables making. I thought about those Chore Charts I used to have as a kid, that showed all the chores and there was a magnet with my name on it that could be place on the chore that I had to do that day/week. It would help be a visual reminder of my responsibilities and then I had the satisfaction of moving my magnet when I finished my task. This created a way for me to see my task, and also created intrinsic motivation to finish my task. I know my 7th and 8th grade students may not be as  thrilled with this concept as I was when I was younger, but I thought having them use the technology may be a way to mask this as a helpful organization tool and not just a toy.

Here is a screen shot of half of my MWF Directed Studies Chart

I created the following chart with the SmartBoardNotebook software. Each Directed Studies class (Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) have their own table for the students. This allows students to not just take responsibility for their current work, but they also are held accountable for their work after they leave the classroom. The disks at the top are infinitely cloned so students can just tap-and-drag the colored disk into the appropriate class slot. Students follow that H- History, M-Math, S-Science, R-Reading, and W-Writing. The red disks means that a content teacher has e-mailed Mrs. R or myself if a student is missing any work (i.e. late work). By being bright red it means the student needs to finish that assignment first while in class. The blue means that homework is assigned in that class and that work will be started (and hopefully completed) during the Directed Studies period. The green disks mean that students have completed their homework for that class, or no work was given. Last the yellow disk means that once the students leave the Directed studies period, all blue disks are changed to yellow, meaning they have not completed the assignment and it should be finished at home. If a student finishes a red or blue assignment, they have the satisfaction of changing the disk to green. This gives students incentives for working hard on their homework and also allows them to interact with the technology. 

For the past three and a half weeks, we have seen an increase in moral when it comes to students homework. They feel successful when they change a blue disk to a green disk and they feel motivated to work harder if they see that they have the most amount of blue disks on the board. Also it has been a great organization tool for teachers since we know what assignments students need to complete without having to memorize their whole schedule (we used to do this, but old minds forget a lot easier). Overall we have been through about 5 versions of what this chart looks like, but each new version the students keep getting more and more into it. If I come up with a 6th version I'll update you on the edition.

Just thought you'd like to know!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Assignment #3 - My Passion and Technology

One of the reasons that I signed up for the Learning and Technology course was for the purpose of using technology effectively in the classroom. My choice of the word "effective" is for the reason that I want students to create a better understanding of content area by being able to see, interact, and archive concepts. I have seen many classrooms with SmartBoards, document cameras, laptops, iTouches, but the teacher is just using the technology, but they are not enhancing the students knowledge because they are just using the smart-board like a white board, the document camera like an overhead projector, and the laptops are just used for word processing!
'Learning' photo (c) 2006, stefg - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ It is my passion that I use technology in the Math classroom due to the ability for students to visual see mathematical concepts, they can interact with a manipulative, and they identify their own misconception through project based learning. I want to know how to create my own "teacher made" materials online (such as an interactive inequality graph) and I want to be able to use technology to communicate with my students.

Why I am passionate about mathematics is not just because I like math, but because as a student, I really struggled with math. However after using math in the real world, and in business, my passion for math drove me to show others of its fun loving nature. I have seen many family members, peers, students, and strangers who at an older age began to fear math because they did not think they were good at it, they didn't like a teacher, or they never fully understood a purpose for using math. My thesis is focusing on the motivation of middle school mathematic students. When conversing with my family, peers, students and strangers I asked them when their passion and curiosity for math changed, and a majority of them said if was in Middle School. This defining time in a students life should be filled with curiosity, not hatred. I think that by using technology students may SEE and make connections with math because they are not just doing a "plug and chug" technique, but hopefully they can play, question, and see the effect of mathematics with real world applications. Also hopefully they can communicate with each other and create a classroom of learners rather than just a classroom of competing individuals.

I hope my passion comes through in the work that I do, and I am quiet excited to see what information this class provides me with so that I can use it in my own classroom soon.

Assignment #2 - Communities of Practice

When reading the article, Communities of Practice: a brief introduction by Etienne Wenge, it made me think of how much communication and education has changed since I was the student sitting behind the desk. In the past I was taught to work independently, quietly, and the only people I should ask for help are my parents and teachers. Today however, students are taught to "ask three then ask me". This idea is that a students should ask three peers before asking the teacher or adult when it comes to general questions (not during testing). Students are encouraged to be teachers inside and outside of the classroom about all subjects, academic and/or social. 

With education swaying to a group dynamic, it is not surprising to me that the article is talking about how every aspect of our lives can create groups called communities of practice. Of course these "groups" are special as they are a group, called a community, of people that share a common "domain of interest" which means they have interests/passion that they actively seek information about or want to share information with others. This is very valuable theory as it shares the idea that if people are in a community of practice, everyone is a learner, and everyone is a teacher. We can learn from our peers through interactions about topics and situations we want/need to know.  

In the inFed article the idea of communities of practice go beyond just the idea that we learn in communities for one or two subjects or for one or two years, but we are always forever learners. We will always continue to seek out new information and thus create new communities or practice. As individuals we learn best in "situational learning" or 'learning by doing", and actively searching for new information gives us the "act" of learning.

After reading the positive aspects of Communities of Practice I came upon an elearningpost article that had concerns of using this theory in place of traditional education. The article touches on the concept that most communities of practice theses days are created and maintained electronically. Although this opens the up the community to a global audience there are many critiques of how one learns in this environment.  The main worries I grasped from the writer was that electronically we can not formally communicate with others in a professional manner. Also with by talking online the "social capital" or trustworthiness of the information and persons is low. Some people may act as experts however they may not even be trained or have access to true information. We need to realize that although CoPs exist, they should not be the main structure for learning, especially for "new learners" (i.e. young students).

My own opinions of Communities of Practice, is that there can be good ones and bad ones. I think that the idea of people learning from people is very strong and successful, but I think it depends on who is in the group and how much knowledge that group truly holds. As a new educator I will actively engaged in multiple CoPs but there will be some that I give advice on, and others I will choose to ask questions from. 
When looking at how CoPs correlate with PLN (personal learning network), I think that PLN's are the CoP's of the Internet. I recently had my first educational "twitter" conversation last night when I posted about my desire to use QR (quick response) codes in my classroom. In a matter of seconds I had responses, articles, and questions flowing in about my post. I truly enjoyed hearing new view points from people who have used QR codes and some loved them but others did not share that same optimism. I thought this was a very effective way to learn great strategies, but in a matter or minutes I also became a bit cynical. People would post so quickly that it was hard for me to multitask. Twitter became a new version of "AIM" and I lost track of the conversation quickly. A minute or two later however, everyone stopped and moved on to the next interesting post. My biggest concern was that after the conversation ended I wanted to talk with one or two people regarding QR codes, but there was not follow up. Although PLNs are CoP and we all shared a common domain, a group of members, and we were/are actively engaged, I still think that there may be other ways to make sharing more effective for ME.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Assignment #1 PLN

YAY I finally was able to 'unblock' blogger from my schools filter! Finally I can post my first assignment for class!

I'll be honest, I recently have started decreasing my connection to the Internet ever since I started my student teaching. Knowing that students can find thing about me and everything being so public in a way "creeped" me out. Thinking that I'm not just going to start my own blog, but also starting my own PLN really rubbed me the wrong way. Once I started researching PLN my fears started to dwindle. I'm so excited for students to start searching for me so that they can see how to be connected in an educational sense. 

While searching for how to start a PLN, it was funny to first run into the road block that PLN also used for thePolish zloty. Once i started focusing on Personal Learning Networks the list became endless.

#1 -http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2008/04/5-things-you-can-do-to-begin-developing.html
 This site was helpful because it not only talked about the positive role PLN's have in the educational world, but it also gave 5 easy steps to starting your own.
1-Join a professional social network. 
2-Pick 5 Blogs you find interesting and start reading them. 
3-Set up an iGoogle account and subscribe to the blogs you selected in Google Reader
4-Become a part of the conversation and start commenting on the blogs you read. 
5-Join the microblogging phenomena by reading Tweets at Twitter. Start by selecting 5 well-known Edubloggers to follow and watch all the great stuff they have to share.

I think theses 5 are very similar to last Monday's class when we were talking about creating your own blog and accounts, then lurking, then joining the conversation, then starting to create your own conversations. I think the hardest part about PLN's will definitely be the time it take to keep updated not just to update your own, but to also follow AND continuing the conversation on others.

#2 http://edupln.ning.com/
This site, although not flashy, had a very basic and approachable layout that made the site very easy to navigate. The site was both a PLN and a resource for others to start and share their own PLNs. It highlights videos, podcasts, and individual sites. The featured blogs were helpful to browse because it gave me a sense of how others have created their sites.
My favorite part about this site is that it has a variety of groups that you can join. I think this is a site that I will keep in mind as I start my own PLN. It seems a very good place for a new-be like me. Also in past courses I have used "ning" (which is affiliated with this website) and it was a very easily and reliable so I think I will be able to use this site in the future. 

#3 http://www.tobincls.com/learningnetwork.htm
This last website is actually more of an "old school" blog post from someone named Daniel Tobin. Why I decided to mention this site is for the simple fact that this took the approach of a PLN in a business aspect and not just a teacher or education aspect. Also although I know of many social networks, and I would classify myself as "technology savvy" I have never heard of a PLN and this article was written in 1998.
Overall thought I liked how Dr. Tobin connects PLN's to the four stags of learning: data, information, knowledge and wisdom. The most influential part of the article was, "yd""You learn every time you read a book or article, every time you observe how someone else is doing work similar to your own, every time you ask a question. An important part of learning is to build your own personal learning network -- a group of people who can guide your learning, point you to learning opportunities, answer your questions, and give you the benefit of their own knowledge and experience." I think that it is important that we realize that both teachers, and students, are on the Internet most of the day and we are always learning, even if the things we are learning are useless.

Speaking of learning... I'm quite excited to see what I learn once I create my own PLN.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ms. Davis Thought....

While creating my new blog for my Learning and Technology class (Go Monday evenings from 7pm-9:50pm whoo!) I thought I should make a first post to introduce myself. Sadly I'm at work and my break is almost over, so I will have to it short.
 Hi! I'm Ms. Davis, and this is my 6th consecutive year at USD. I went to USD in '06-'10 and got my BA in Business Administration. After, in '10-'11, I received my Single subject credential in Mathematics. And now, in '11-'12 I am starting the process to earn my Masters in Education - Curriculm and Instrcution.

Well sadly this all I have time to share at the moment. Expect more to come!

~Ms. Davis