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!