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 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

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!