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: 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 -
 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.

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. 

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