Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Post #10

Adventures in Pencil Integration

Pencil Cartoon
John Spencer forces observers to pause and compare the differences in a cost effective Papermate and a hip Ticonderoga pencil. The difference? A pencil, is a pencil, is a pencil. Each cartoon creation is one dimensional with no depth or inspiration to the imagination. You can attempt different techniques, but the outcome will be similar. Mr. Spencer is "drawing" attention to the limitations of inspiration and excitement when working with pencil and paper. Technology allows things to literally come to life before your eyes. It think I know which one I would rather learn from. Don't you?

Lions, and Tigers, and Pencils....Oh My!

Cowardly Lion
"Wait a minute fellas! I was just thinking.
I really don't want to see the wizard this much.
I'd better wait for you outside."
John Spencer has a great way of telling some humorous stories to make a good point. After analyzing the cartoon, I read "Why were your students playing games?" I could picture a principal who looked like Archie Bunker (yes, I know most young people are wondering and googling Archie Bunker right now)  This principal avidly defends the opposes this teacher's approach to hands on learning and fun. My favorite part is the principal's fear that rote memorization scores will suffer if rote memorization skills are not focused on. I mean, memorizing information for a test which consists of basic information that will be forgotten within a week is far more important than hands on, engagement, interaction, and exciting educational experiences.

This same philosophy was explored during "Remember Pencil Quests?" Teachers back in the day, God love them, they did the best they could with what they had. I actually remember a Pencil Quest or two. Even though we are no longer comparing cartoons, we are still comparing the same pencil, I mean principle. We have technology and wonderful tools  to open the minds of children, helping them shape their lives into unimaginable possibilities. Like the Cowardly Lion, sometimes we know the answer is just behind the curtain, but we are still too afraid to reach out and grab what we need most. We just need to find the courage to accept the person we can be, the teacher/educator we can be, and make the changes that will guide our students down their yellow brick road.

Don't Teach Your Kids This Stuff. Please?

Dr. Scott McLeod is a pioneer spreading the possibilities and resources of technology in education. He also has a creative way of comparing the pros and cons of children/students and their exposure to technology. He admits that there are many negative things that students could gain access to, but with responsibility and supervision, students are now able to have the world open up at their fingertips. Learn, experience, imagine, and become excited in ways and about places and things that they never knew existed. It's time for a change. As a future educator, I'm ready to hold myself up to the challenge. 

Project #14 Smartboard Instruction

Thursday, June 28, 2012

C4T Assignment #3

Bart Simpson Cheating

Blog Summary and Comment #1 / Should Teachers Assign Homework

John Mikulski posted this question on his blog in an effort to address the issue of cheating. Someone had made a comment that homework was a pointless learning task, as so many students simply cheated, getting nothing from the assignment. Mr. Mikulski also addressed the fact that homework helps teach accountability and responsibility. Not all parents stress these virtues, and while it is not the teacher or schools responsibility to teach them, they are a part of life and education.

Perhaps one of the most interesting points of his blog post was the issue of some teachers assigning meaningless homework assignments. Crossword puzzles and word finds seem to be popular with some teacher for some unknown reason. They don't seem to accomplish much aside from keeping a student busy and giving them the task of completing and turning an assignment in at a designated time. Determining the true meaning and purpose of homework for students is his underlying message. I can personally think of a few instructors I would love to recommend his article to.

Homework is an important tool which helps students master new techniques. Like any other tool, it must be used properly in order to be most effective. If a teacher assigns a lot of busy work, the student may become burnt-out and discouraged with learning. When a teacher assigns something that helps students understand and sharpen skills taught in class, everyone benefits. It may be the student's responsibility to complete homework assignments, but it is the teacher's responsibility to be responsible in the homework which they assign.

Blog Summary & Comment #2 / How Do We Fix the Outdated Education Model

Mr. Mikulski emphasizes an interesting concept of the more things change, the more they stay the same in a comical way. While viewing a friend's facebook photos of their vacation pictures which included a photo of President Jimmy Carter's childhood school room, he noticed that aside from the wooden desks and hardwood floors, everything looked the same; straight rows for students with the teacher at the front of the class. Most classrooms today are equipped with smartboards, computers, and other technological gadgets. While they have evolved, the concept of the teacher at the front of the room separated from students all lined up in a row, has remained the same. Pointing out that there is a disconnect with today's learners, he posed the question, how do we fix the outdated education model?

I responded by agreeing that the arrangement of most classrooms are straight rows of students sitting one in front of the other with the teacher at the front of the class. This reminds me of the old story of the grandmother who always cut the legs off the turkey before baking it. When she finally turned over that responsibility to her granddaughter, she was in the kitchen watching the granddaughter begin Thanksgiving dinner. As the granddaughter cut the legs off of the turkey and placed it in the oven, the grandmother asked, "Why did you cut the legs off first?" The granddaughter said, "You always did it that way, mom always did it that way, so why wouldn't I do it that way?" The grandmother then explained that she had only cut the legs off because she had never had a pan large enough to bake the turkey with them on. 

What does the turkey story have to do with classrooms with desks lined up? Sometimes we do things just because that's the way they have always been done. I also told Mr. Mikulski that I have substituted in some classrooms which have tables spread out with 4-5 students at each table. I had more effective lessons when I walked within the table groupings and interacted with the students. This arrangement also seemed effective when students worked as groups and helped one another. Some teachers use the resources they have available in their schools, but perhaps a more creative arrangement of these desks/tables would allow students and teachers to connect, therefore teachers could become more in tune with the needs of their students.

Blog Post #9

teacher quote

What I've Learned This Year

As a person who has always dreamed of becoming a teacher and a student diligently working to make that dream a reality, I have often envisioned my teaching experiences in my mind; what my classroom will look like, discipline and incentive policies, teaching techniques to help my students reach academic excellence. The actuality of first year teaching experiences seems to hinge less on what I have envisioned, and more on points that Mr. Joe McClung reflects upon in his post outlining his experiences as a first year teacher. 

This blog assignment required we read 2 of 3 posts, summarize, and comment on them. After reading the first post about Mr. McClung's first year teaching, I had to read both of the other posts. I then subscribed to his posts and saved At the Teacher's Desk website on my PLN. His first blog seemed like he was speaking directly to me. I am an organized person who has a plan for everything and thinks everything should go a certain way or the earth will spin off its axis! Unrealistic expectations can impose undue stress upon teachers. I need to be prepared to let go of control issues and be ready to go with the flow. Mr. McClung also stressed the importance of listening to students, not having unrealistic expectations for students, and continue learning. This information seems much more important than classroom decoration and organizational skills.

Blogs 2 and 3 were reflections on his second and third years teaching. Accepting the fact that you may not always have the opportunity to teach a subject you're interested in and discovering a solution to make the best of that situation was a great piece of advice. He also gave insight into some of the drama that exists among teachers/administration. Becoming aware of these instances, avoid becoming involved, and keeping your focus on your students will benefit you and your students. I enjoyed a realistic view of teaching and learning the ropes of working with administration and co-workers. I'm sure everyone's first year experience is a little different, but it sure is nice to have an idea of what to expect and prepare for.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Project #11 Read A Book

When Mom Turned Into A Monster

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Project #12 Book Trailer

Blog Post #8


This Is How We Dream

Richard Miller raised some interesting points in his presentation part 1. After taking EDM 310 and completing the assignments given by Dr. Strange, I now have a greater appreciation for the respect and wonder of technology. Some people feel so passionately about this, that they feel that modern tools should completely replace pencils and books in the classroom. They are all great, but no offense Mr. Miller, you're not taking my #2 away from me.

Teachers have affected every accomplished, successful person since the beginning of time. Literacy is just as important now as it has always been. It's my opinion that students will continue to succeed whether they use an ibook or a book made of paper. The difference is the effort of the student and the effectiveness of the teacher. Mr. Miller verifies the popularity of ebooks. I can't remember the last time I took my daughter to the library or had to rush out to Barnes and Nobles to buy her the next book in a series she couldn't put down. When you consider that most newspapers and magazines are now accessed online, it's not hard to imagine that books will be next.

 I agree with using technology in every way possible to enhance education; blogging, smart boards, ibooks, and you tube. Thank you Jesus for You Tube! My husband has made home repairs, and I have learned how to solve math equations thanks to the power of You Tube. I can imagine having difficulty with explaining a concept to students some day and saying "Let's see if we can find something on You Tube." Pulling it up on a Smart Board would take no time at all. The wonders of technology....


Carly Pugh: The Magic of Belief

I was not surprised to see so many wonderful suggestions in Carly's Blog Post #12! Carly has given me so many words of inspiration, motivation, helpful hints this semester. Every time she reviews one my blogs, she leaves me with something that I've come to expect; a little "Golden Nugget of Carly Wisdom". Her appreciation and belief in the use of technology is apparent in all of the suggestions she shares. After reading Carly's post, I seem to be a bit more open to writing with technology. (Maybe I just like her a little bit more than Dr. Miller) It is my hope that in time, I will find the same excitement that Carly has and pass it on to my students as she has tried to with us. Carly reminds me of Glenda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz. We have all doubted ourselves, but Carly reminds us that we had the power all along. We only had to believe in ourselves. Now, we should all click our heels together and say "There is no grade like an A. There is no grade like an A." You're the best Carly!
School House Rock

EDM 310 Is Not For Dummies or Chipper Procrastinators!

I had already watched both videos, but it was so funny watching them a second time. The girls freaking out in the Dummies video had to be my favorite! When someone first begins taking this course, you definitely feel like a dummy! If you don't, Dr. Strange has a questionnaire for you to fill out to prove that you are even if you think you're not. I think both videos called attention to the stress and pressures that EDM 310 often bring, but also make you appreciate all that you learn. It's a journey, sometimes the road is bumpy, muddy, and seems like it can't be traveled. If you hang in there, put forth some effort and determination, it gets a little smoother and you know so much more when you reach your destination.

If I had the opportunity to help create a video, I think I would have to go back to the good 'ole days of School House Rock. Just imagine "Lolly, lolly, lolly get your html code here"(the adverb song) or "I'm just a blog" (I'm just a bill). I can still remember those songs from.....not telling how many years ago. My point is, if you make something cute, catchy, and add a little jingle people will remember it. Besides that, some of these young folks don't know what they've been missing with School House Rock!

Learn to change and change to Learn

I don't know how many people I've told that I am so surprised at what I have learned in this class. I expected to perfect Microsoft Word and Excel, cut instead my entire perspective of teaching has been altered. Before EDM 310, I thought I had it all figured out and just needed to get my piece of paper to get into the classroom. Since taking this class, I have learned to change and that change will help my students learn. I have had to prepare lesson plans for another education class, and I have incorporated blogs and other aspects of EDM 310 into those plans. I am already planning on how I can Flip My Classroom and use a blog to communicate with parents. I love the part of the video when someone says that "We have to accept as educators that technology is not a choice". Today's students are living in a different world. We as educators, have the responsibility of becoming part of that world in order to better communicate with our students. Thanks to 
EDM 310, I understand and look forward to the challenge. 

My Comic

Video Tool

I recently discovered the video tool Animoto for educators. It is can be used to create video presentations which will bring your lessons to life! Students will love the music and photographs you can easily incorporate by utilizing this tool. It would also be easy to share lessons with other educators or upload to your teacher blog. This user-friendly program will bring a cinematic feel to your classroom lessons. Be ready to answer questions, because all of the other teachers will want you to share this secret!  

Don't Ask If You Don't Want To Know... is so easy to use! I can imagine using this on my teacher blog. Students, and parents, may enjoy answering questions pertaining to class and lessons and learning the outcome of the poll.
Please respond to my first attempt at polling. It will be fun to see the results!

Check out my poll: "Who believes they have learned things they will use as teachers in EDM310?":

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Project #9b Prezi

PLN Project #10 Progress Report

My Personal PLN
Christie Mason Initial PLN
PLN Progress Report

When I first researched this assignment and explored Symbaloo, I was a bit skeptical. We already have tool bars and can bookmark favorite websites. However, after watching several videos, reading the opinions of teachers who regularly use this tool, and experimenting with Symbaloo myself, I must admit I'm hooked!

Customizing a "Personal Learning Network" provides users with the convenience of having everything from personal interests (music, itunes, facebook), regular shopping sites(amazon, ebay, etsy), and sites regularly used for teaching(Tech4Teachers, Edu Rethink, & History Lesson Plans). The beauty of using Symbaloo is that it can be customized for any individual's personal needs and interests. Another benefit is that users can choose to keep their Webmix private or make it public. When a public setting is chosen, individuals can share their ideas and resources with those who have common interests and needs. 

I first imagined this would be an assignment which I would complete and move on from. Once again, Dr. Strange has shown that there are technological resources which benefit everyone, especially teachers. Can you imagine how many pieces of paper or file folders I would have to keep organized to access these resources? What if I left my file in my classroom and I wanted to work on my lesson plans over the weekend? With Symbaloo, much like Google Docs, I can access my information from anywhere! I'm surprised and happy to say that I have a much higher grade on this progress report than I initially expected!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blog Post #7

Classroom of the future

The Networked Student

Well, after watching the Networked Student, let's just say, I don't have the same warm and fuzzy feeling I had after watching Steve Pausch or the optimistic "Go get 'em" attitude after watching Flipping the Classroom. I'm kind of wondering how in the world I'm going to pay off all of these student loans if there are not going to be too many teachers in the classroom. If many schools will be able to utilize fewer teachers through Network learning, will I have a job? I believe that we are to walk away from this assignment understanding that if we want to obtain and keep a job, we will have to maintain strong technology skills for the remainder of our careers.  

It's my opinion that this video is partially used with the "If you're not a good person you're going to hell" ideology; if you're not a technology literate teacher you'll go through hell because you will not have a job. Dr. Strange is wise to make us aware of the reality which we must face as future educators. We must all take the application of technology in education very seriously and not just consider it for one semester as we complete this course. The world is changing in many aspects; communication, banking, and shopping are just a few examples. When you consider the conveniences and differences of these examples now and 20 years ago, it makes it easier to accept the fact that education is also changing.  

I really enjoyed previous videos like "Flipping the Classroom" and "Classroom Disruption" because it had a happy medium. A technological parallel that created an environment where teachers and technology worked together to lead students to enlightenment. I learned through this video that teachers should not only teach by using technology, but teachers should be prepared to lead students as they teach them to learn and research independently using technology.

Students who use technology to research and learn independently still require direction. The video showed how students were taught to conduct proper research from credible sources and sites, bookmark their research in sites like Delicious, and network through blogs to obtain and share information. Students in EDM 310 have been learning these same skills during the Summer 2012 Semester, and we have a teacher. While we may not have a lot of classroom instruction time, we have a computer lab with Dr. Strange and qualified, knowledgeable, and friendly Teacher's Assistants working regular hours who are always happy to help. We also have a network of help options including email, cell phones, messaging, facebook, and Twitter. Somebody has to plan, teach, implement, and be in charge of all of that. Maybe I won't have to worry about having a long as I'm technology literate.

Scarlet O'hara

As God As My Witness, I'll never be without a PLN again!

O.k., so I have just been explaining the inappropriateness of eye rolling and sighing when my daughter doesn't like what I say, even though she knows I'm correct. I am a 40 year old, Southern to the bone, show good manners at all times no matter what, kind of lady. I demand it from my children and will expect it from my students. It's important ! Imagine my surprise when I first watch "The Networked Student" and try to contain my composure, keep a lady-like attitude ,then  as I calculate my Student Loan Debt and how much further I have to go, my eyes begin to roll and I sigh. I think, worse things have happened, take the Burning of Atlanta for example. I remained positive and thought like Scarlett "I'll think about it tomorrow. Everything will be fine when I get to Tara. I'll even ask Ashley for the money." (Picture me smiling as I begin to rip drapes from the windows to begin putting together a spectacular dress using a pattern I just found online. Peace returns to the world...

Now, I'm sitting here in heavy, green velvet. Pins are sticking me EVERYWHERE and Dr. Strange wants me to watch this glorious, little 7th grade child share her PLE with me. First of all, I'm thinking PLE, Fiddle-De-De! I don't know nothin' 'bout no PLE Dr. Strange. As I watch this brilliant young girl show how she has designed her computer using a program called Symbaloo, saves all of her research, interactive learning apps, bookmarks them, and they are always there. She even has a section for private, fun, personal things and a section for her school work. She has the freedom to study and complete assignments in any order she wishes. 
I realize, I'm supposed to have a plan for this now! The Yankees might as well be burning down Atlanta and taking Ma's silver because I don't have a plan. 

I rush back to Tara to log onto the computer only the Yankees have taken it. I see "Old George" at the boilin' pot and ask if he knows where Ashley is. I tell him I need money to buy an I Pad. He tells me" Mr. Ashley aint got no money, and I can ask, but "Askin' Aint Gettin'!" Ashley didn't have a cotton-pickin' dime, but Rhett had heard of my dilemma. Instead of a new Red Silk Petticoat , he had gotten me a an I Pad in Savannah! As I sigh, I log onto the gadget and within mere minutes I have created a proper PLN.. It might not be quite as much as the 7th grade girl has, but I'm remaining positive. "Tomorrow is another day! And as God as my witness! I'll never go without technology or a PLN again"

And you know, I just heard about this 12 year old boy named Thomas Suarez? I wonder if he's from New Orleans? Anyway, I might just see if that Mr. Frank Kennedy will buy some stock in this young boy's ideas. Word is he will be the next Steve Jobs. 'What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one.' "If the old ways are going away and Technology is building up, someone has to be here to make money from it. After all, Tomorrow is another day!

Thomas SuarezThomas Suarez

This amazing young man, Thomas Suarez,  is incredibly focused. He loves what he does, researches, looks up to examples of mentors like Steve Jobs, and has the support of teachers and family. He has already learned enough to begin writing apps which can be accessed at the I store. He will be creating apps which would be free to local school systems, and sell to other school systems. All money raised will go back into his local school system. This young man has already found a passion for life and way to give back and encourage others. Sounds kind of like Randy Pausch. 

Dr. Strange asked, "What does this video have in common with the others you've just watched?" Well, for one thing, I expected one more video filmed in front of the green screen with Dr. Strange playing Daddy Warbucks and Liz playing the part of Annie with a production of "Anything you can do, I can do better."
Annie and Daddy WarbucksAll three videos have shown that these students are light years ahead of teachers in their uses of technology. We are going to have to become life long learners, dedicated to assisting these students in their pursuit of an education in the next generation. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

C4T Assignment #2

Different Baby Animal Accepting Each Other

C4T #2 / Blog Summary & Comment #1 

My second teacher blog assignment required that I follow the blog of Angela Maiers. Her most recent post included a guest post written by Lisa Cooley. Ms. Cooley emphasized the importance of teachers showing respect to their students. Respectful teachers model an important characteristic that students may then display in return. A student/teacher relationship based on this principle can also influence positive behavior in the classroom.

Many schools often have numerous bureaucratic rules. Minor infractions by students such as talking in the hallway or eating in class are a few examples Ms. Cooley refers to. Choosing your battles when disciplining students can make a major difference between earning the respect of students and resentment of students. Some teachers assume the role of dictator and enforcer of rules rather than working to teach students accountability. Accepting students as individuals and showing them the same respect that you would appreciate can bridge a gap that exists between most teachers and their students.

Ms. Cooley's blog made me reflect on the meaning of respect. Respect is something that is stressed and expected in many cultures, but especially here in the South. We are brought-up learning to "respect your elders and say yes ma'am/sir and no ma'am/sir". However, many teachers seem to view themselves as authority figures where respect is a one-way street. I replied to Ms. Cooley that after many years of substitute teaching, I have often observed teachers who clearly do not show respect to students. As a result, students usually do not have much respect for these teachers and have behavioral issues in class. I agree with Ms. Cooley's assessment that showing respect is not only the right thing to do; it is a practice which can help students learn accountability and reduce the frequency of classroom disruptions. Teaching students important life lessons does not have to only pertain to math formulas and writing skills.

Blog Summary & Comment #2

Wishbone: A Platform for Students Passions

It's difficult to believe that many students grow up with no words of encouragement or seeds of hope planted in their minds with the prospect of sprouting into dreams of success in their future. Reed Matheney published a  guest post on Ms. Maiers' blog regarding an inspirational non-profit organization who helps build dreams. "Wishbone" is a non-profit, community outreach program which matches at risk and low-income students with donors who are willing to work with these students, helping them to learn skills they are truly interested in. I guess you could say it's sort of an apprenticeship. Donors get the benefit of helping young students, possibly opening doors that will change their lives. The students get the benefit of obtaining skills, real-world experience, and learn that their dreams are possible. Mr. Matheney addressed the fact that teachers should look beyond lack of performance, boredom, and behavioral issues. Get to know these students as individuals and explore a community out-reach program to give that child a chance. In other words, take the time to care.

Beth Schmidt is the founder and Executive Director of "Wishbone". Beth noticed that most of her students had few opportunities to pursue interests outside of school. Some students did not enjoy the curriculum in school, became bored, and had little hope for a productive future. She ran a marathon raising money to send her first group to summer camps. Each student had been assigned to research a camp they would be interested in, write a paper providing information about the camp, and valid reasons they would want to attend the camp. All students from this first group went on to graduate from High School and are all now majoring in the subjects which pertain to the camp they attended. I agree that encouragement by a teacher can become a life altering event. We need more teachers who stress the importance of success and dreaming big. 

My comment to Ms. Maiers and Mr. Matheney included the story of my daughter's 6th grade Science teacher at a College Preparatory School. She seemed consistently ill and short with students; never had a tad bit of patience. She used her "teachers burn-out" as an excuse to take her frustrations out on her students. She had my daughter's class say, in unison "Would you like fries with that? and What kind of sauce would you like with your nuggets?" I was so angry! I can't really write on here what I had wanted to do with some fries and nuggets, but I guess you can imagine..... What I think now is, why can't she be more like the teachers in the Wishbone Project? Many of my daughter's classmates come from lower-income, inner-city, schools as it is a magnet school. It has a wonderful reputation for producing intelligent and prepared students. However, I think her school would benefit with more teachers who are willing to put that extra attention into helping students succeed in the classroom and researching alternative training for those who need it. 

I also told them that I respect their project as teachers take the time to get to know their students' individual skills, interests, and abilities. Every teacher knows that all of their students will not have the same opportunities in life for higher education. A student should NEVER receive discouragement from their teacher! By reaching out to the community and placing students with employers who can teach them a trade they are genuinely interested in, the students have an opportunity to do something with their lives. If a child has at least one person in their life who makes them feel special, capable, valuable, and like someone believes in them, it can alter the course of their life forever. By implementing this teaching and caring philosophy, the lives of students, future generations, and communities would benefit tremendously.  


Meet Sandra

Locke High School
Mock Trial Institute, UCLA

The community where Sandra lived and attended high school was infested with gang activity, drug addiction, and prostitution. The turmoil of her community affected her high school experience and her learning; however, she aspired to be and do more.

As a high school student, Sandra set many goals for herself: to go to a university and also to get a Master’s degree and a law license. She has always wanted to become a Public Defender, but she didn’t know if she would make a successful lawyer because she had never experienced any kind of pre-law classes.
Wishbone sent Sandra to UCLA’s Mock Trial Institute, where she was one of the program’s highest performers. She is now a student at Bennett College for Women, taking pre-law classes. Sandra is a Jesse Jackson Push Excel scholar and a pre-alumna ambassador of Bennett College. She is also the youngest member of Wishbone’s advisory board.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blog Post #6

Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch 

 (1960 - 2008)

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

Randy Pausch has to be one of the most inspirational speakers I've ever heard. Even if you disregard his illness at the time of the lecture and put aside the fact that he passed away in 2008, his accomplishments and enthusiasm for life are contagious. It was difficult for me to watch his lecture without a giant lump in my throat, as it is typical to feel sympathy for someone in this situation. Randy Pausch retained his zest for life even as he delivered his last lecture.

Anyone who watches Randy's lectures can gain knowledge about anything from Building Virtual Worlds to Time Management. I was reminded of many important things while watching the Last Lecture. What I learned was that it is important to apply positive life principles every day and it is vital to implement these as a teacher. Randy is an example that every day counts and we should do our best to make a difference until our very last day.

It is important to lead by example in the classroom. I have seen so many teachers start their day unprepared, ill tempered, with no patience for their students or excitement for the day. What kind of effect does this have on students? Randy states that it's important to be a Tigger rather than an Eeyore. It's important to keep having fun, no matter what. When teachers maintain their enthusiasm and compassion, students will come to expect it and even return it. Randy stressed the importance of believing in your students and being loyal to them. This is a concept I recently read about in Mr. John Spencer's blog. It appears that with intelligent, successful men like Mr. Spencer and Randy Pausch emphasizing the importance and benefits of giving students the benefit of the doubt and being patient enough to find the best in everyone, this would be more common among teachers. I have worked with teachers who were miserable from the time they walked through the school doors to the time they left the parking lot. Everyone has bad days, but I am going to start today and do my best to follow through every day of my teaching career to model my dedication through a positive attitude, respect, and loyalty to my students. Perhaps I will encourage others by living up to Randy's standards.

Students have come to me and asked, "Mrs. Mason, how does this look? or What do you think?" Randy's Last Lecture taught me to not be too easy on my students. I should push students to set a higher bar for themselves by encouraging them to do better. Even when I think they have performed well, giving positive, critique and advice will help my students strive to work harder. Giving them this drive and confidence to move forward will be a life changing skill that can help them succeed in future endeavors as well. This philosophy is also important in students who may want to give up. A teacher should never give up on a student, but support them and become resourceful enough to help them do their best.

Group work in the elementary or middle school classroom is something that is usually loud and out of control. Randy has proven the effectiveness and benefits of group collaboration and projects. Students learn to share ideas, collaborate, and learn to work together while accepting criticism. Kind of sounds like the real world,J-O-B doesn't it? I can understand why Randy would have us do these things. Students even begin to learn through creative assignments not realizing they are having fun. Randy called this the great "Head Fake". 

I'm not sure if you've noticed this before; it could just be me. I cannot tell you the number of times I've had the simplest of days planned only for everything to go wrong! Anyone who has ever taught in a classroom can tell you that this dilemma seems to take place there as well. When that happens if we freak out, stress out, flip out, things just get even worse. Randy says we should roll with the punches. Don't complain, just work even harder and things will turn around. I absolutely love that he referred to Karma. If you put out negative energy and actions, it just brings back more negative energy and actions. Be grateful for the days that don't go exactly like we planned and keep your eyes open. That's when Randy says we will learn something when we least expect it. 

When teachers can begin to learn from their students, accept criticism, feed back, and use it to improve, everyone grows and learns; Instant Karma. We should also be humble both as  future educators and educators and show gratitude to all of the people who have helped us reach our goals. It's so important to have people believe in you, encourage you along the way, and be there to continue on your journey. Showing that you value their support and guidance is a wonderful trait to have and model to students. 

I know that I have written more than the required 4 paragraphs for this assignment, but Randy Paush has had a deep affect on me ever since I saw his story on ABC's 20/20 years ago. The story of his determination and dreams, his beautiful family that he has so many reasons to live for, the countless students that he has nurtured and mentored, and last but not least, the legacy he has left as and educator and motivational speaker. I get excited and think "I want to be a person and educator just like Randy Pausch," but how many of us will get burned-out and start to complain and gossip with the group(there's one in every school) that is unhappy about everything: administration, students, paperwork, parent-teacher conferences, workshops, the school calendar,  you name it. I don't want to be that person.

I don't even know where I will teach, but I do know I will have 3 things placed in my classroom so that I can clearly see them every day and maintain a proper perspective:
  1. My framed College Diploma / Teacher Certificate with a picture of my family that supported me every day.
  2. A framed copy of all of the classes, requirements, hours, I had to take in order to graduate signed by Jayne Kennedy who has been the most wonderful advisor to a 39 year old Freshman in 2011. This will remind me of all that I worked so hard for to get into that classroom everyday.
  3. I believe I will add a small picture of Randy Pausch to remind me that life is what you make of it, anything is possible, and remind to daily use all of those wonderful nuggets of wisdom he shared and would still be sharing if her were able. To leave a legacy like his would be one of the greatest accomplishments in the world.
Pausch Family Photo
Randy Pausch Quotes:
*Don't complain; just work harder. (Randy Pausch)

*The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. (Randy Pausch)

*Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don't really want to achieve their childhood dreams. (Randy Pausch)

*The best gift an educator can give is to get someone to become self-reflective. (Randy Pausch)

*It's not about how to achieve your dreams. It's about how to lead your life. (Randy Pausch)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Virtual Republic production studio for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra;Symphony composed by Ferdinand Ries

Eric Whitacre's "Virtual Choir" from the Blog Post #5 assignment impressed me so much that I was inspired to search for similar works. I discovered this remarkable Symphony Virtual Rollercoaster and believe that it's something that everyone should see at least once! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Source: and

Blog Post #5

Digital Learning Tour

The iSchool Initiative

It's both amazing and inspiring to me that a 17 year old high school student could identify so many critical issues within the education system. Budget cuts, fewer teachers, and larger classroom sizes are an unfortunate reality in all school districts across the United States. Travis Allen certainly appears to be on the cusp of revolutionizing education in classrooms. There are definite advantages to Travis' proposal the iSchool Initiative. While some textbooks may become outdated, current information on the web is only a click away. Apps like calendars, calculators, homework, and checking out books are just a few examples which can actively assist students, teachers, and parents. It is imperative that students become technology literate and proficient, as most all jobs require these skills. 

While I agree with all of the points that Travis addressed and would like to be a teacher who supports his initiative, I do have some concerns. I asked my daughter if her school uses apps to teach or supplement lessons. She replied, "We are lucky to have a Smart Board in each room. Our school has a computer lab, but they are so old that half of them don't work most of the time." She went on to tell me that when they do use the computer lab, the programs used are Word, Star Reader (used for Literature and Math testing), and internet access for research. While the iSchool Initiative will save schools and parents money in the long run, how will the schools be able to afford the conversion process if they cannot even afford to maintain the outdated computers they already own?

We would like to think that most students are responsible and respect school property. However, we know that this is not always the case. Even with responsible students, accidents can happen. Is there an insurance program that schools will be able to afford in order to repair and replace any technology instruments which become damaged or broken? Will the schools be able to afford a "back-up stock pile" to replace the devices which are not usable so that no student is without the tools they need to participate? Will schools be able to afford a technology support employee who can address these issues in a timely manner, or will they have to put in a work order and wait who knows how long to have the repairs or replacements addressed?

I don't mean to be a "Negative Nelly". I am only trying to approach what I think is truly a wonderful idea with a realistic point-of-view. In order to take these possible changes seriously, it is important to consider all of the questions that I raised. Imagine being a teacher in a classroom with 6 students unable to use their device. What then? Computers are great when they work, and we all know that issues come up from time to time. I would like to see Travis' vision become a reality, but I believe that books, paper, and pencil should still be a part of learning; even if they are used as a back-up plan. 

Virtual Choir

It's extraordinary that we are now able to virtually bring so many people together from different parts of the world and create something so beautiful. I'm glad that Jennifer Chamber shared Eric Whitacre's virtual choir. This is an example of an exquisite creation of technology. 

Virtual Music Rollercoaster

21st Century Teaching

There was certainly a lot of information to take in during this video. I liked how one topic was briefly expanded upon, but then it changed gears a bit too quickly for me when proceeding to the next topic. A few things that I was able to grasp were the differences between entertainment and engagement, concentration on the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy levels, and personal responsibilities of teachers and students when using technology.

As a teacher, it is not my responsibility to entertain my students, but keep them engaged in the learning process. Kevin Roberts obviously believes that this can be accomplished by implementing technological tools such as blogs, twitter, and podcasts. Integrating these suggestions into 21st century classrooms will keep students actively engaged while retaining what they have learned. This is a concept which I have already learned in EDM 310 through assignments and other videos. However, Mr. Roberts gave many good points to solidify this claim.

Students have always been taught the consequences of plagiarism. It is also import for them to learn that this applies to lessons involving technology as well. It is the teacher's responsibility to teach students the necessary steps to tag pictures, link to websites, and use proper quoting in order to ethically cite sources.  I don't see this as something new or additional I will have to do as a teacher, but a concept which already exists that will be expanded upon.

Dr. Lodge McCammon

Flipping the Classroom

I absolutely L-O-V-E the concept of Flipping the Classroom! By posting a recording of lesson demonstration on your blog, say a week in advance, students have the opportunity to hear and see the information before it is presented in class. This can also be an enormous benefit to students who do not comprehend a topic and need additional help. Many times, parents are unable to assist their children with assignments. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to help my daughter, only to hear her say "That's not how the teacher told us to do it Mom!". Now, parents can understand the concept and process taught by the teacher.

This is also a remarkable idea because it allows students who may be on a lower level of understanding to enter the classroom with confidence on an even playing field. Some concepts are more difficult than others to grasp and this allows those students who need more explanation to receive it. Videos also benefit the students who are absent. This is a point that Joe Dale addressed in his video "Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom." I also love the fact that watching assigned videos puts some of the responsibility of learning on the students. 

During this semester of EDM310, I have been exposed to some teaching techniques that I thought were o.k., some that were rather creative, some I may possibly use, and some that I will definitely use. Flipping my classroom is something I KNOW I WILL USE!! I have already bookmarked the Friday Institute website!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Sentence

Blog Post #4

Flat Stanley App

Teaching the Millenial Generation

In researching this assignment, I learned that anyone born after the year 1980 is referred to as a "Millenial". These people have always lived with the effect of technology in their lives. Whether it's cell phones, desk-top computers, lap-top computers, gaming devices, reading devices; I think you get the picture. Technology has always been at the fingertips of this generation for convenience and entertainment. With that said, why would you not use it in the classroom?

Flat Stanley by Jim Brown is a wonderful children's book which encourages the students to use their imagination. I have seen many creative projects centered around this delightful book, but never one as exceptional as the Flat Stanley Podcast by Ms. Tolisano's first grade class! Instead of completing a writing, research, and report project, the students were able to bring Flat Stanley's adventure to life through their individual podcasts. The children used accurate geographic facts and lots of enthusiastic expression while recording their stories. Ms. Tolisano also points out that through this interactive process, students are more engaged and comprehend materials. This project has shown me to think outside of the traditional box when giving assignments to my students. 

Joe Dale's blog offered numerous advantages of podcasting which I had never even considered. I now see the benefit of podcasting lessons and test reviews. These can be posted on my teacher blog for parents and students to access for study purposes. This is also beneficial when a student is absent and would otherwise miss the material. When assignments are given to groups, the students enjoy role playing, comprehend, and retain what they have learned. The exciting thing to me as a future educator is the fact that this is easy enough for first grade students to achieve and it can be applied to any subject. I can't wait to put these practices into my own lesson plans some day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Google Presentation

Blog Post #3

Scary Peer Review

Positive Peer Review

Giving a positive peer review is a big responsibility. Classmates depend on your opinion and suggestions to aid them in their pursuit of a quality assignment. Taking peer reviews seriously show that you care enough to help a classmate. This is not only the right thing to do, but is also important because you just might need someone to review your assignment some day.

I especially enjoyed the video "Writing Peer Reviews Top Ten Mistakes". The kids were so cute and funny! The fact that students of this age can comprehend the concept of proper peer review and put together a video with examples of improper techniques speaks volumes. College students should have been conducting adequate peer reviews for some time.

Lindsay Parvin has been my assigned classmate for blog review/peer review. Lindsay is a student who is working toward her master's degree. She is an experienced teacher and exceptional writer. With all of that said, there was not much guidance that Lindsay needed from me. I enjoyed exchanging points-of-view with her as well as the comments she left on my blog. 

Technology in Special Education

Technology in the classroom is a vital tool for Special Education students. These students are often times closed-off from the rest of the world. Technological tools like lap tops open the doors of communication, providing an enriching learning experience. All students deserve the same educational experience. This is now possible with the assistance of modern devices.

I was extremely impressed with the techniques used by the Special Education teacher in the video. She was creative in her implementation of technology and utilized many tools including ipods, laptops, and power point videos. She encouraged her students and allowed them to speak for themselves. The pride and happiness they felt was shining in their faces. These devices should be available in all classrooms for Special Education students.

Educational Apps in the Classroom 

There are many apps which Apple currently has available to assist Special Education students in their learning experience. "Conversation Builder" can enhance the art of communication in autistic students. This app helps students expand their conversational vocabulary and learn to respond appropriately while participating in conversations. An exciting feature of this app is the ability to record a student's learning session. Some advantages of this feature are that students enjoy hearing themselves when played back, and sessions can be forwarded to parents or IEP administrators to monitor progress. I believe that this app would become extremely important to some Special Education students. Holding conversations with family, teachers, and peers can help these students feel like a part of the world they live in.

Harness Your Student's Digital Smarts

Watching Vicki Davis' video outlining her approach to digital learning inspires me to sharpen my technological skills. It is truly amazing how she has opened the world up to her students in rural Georgia. Her students are learning to interact with students from other countries while learning a vast array of technology programs. Students who are fortunate enough to take Ms. Davis' class will have possibilities and opportunities available to them that they may not have had otherwise. She is an example of how one teacher can truly make a difference. 

I can only imagine how my educational path may have been enriched if I had a teacher like Ms. Davis. As a future educator, the example of this type of learning environment encourages me to produce something similar. The students were excited, engaged, interactive, and not only seemed to be applying what they learned, but teaching others as well. Anyone who watches this video can understand that the age old learning method of pencil and paper are no longer effective or sufficient. In order for students to be prepared for a life and career in today's society, they will need the knowledge and tools that Ms. Davis is providing in her classroom. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

C4T Assignment / Post #1 with Summary

teacher and student communication

C4T, Comment #1

I believe it was my great fortune to be assigned to read the blog posts of Mr. John Spencer. Mr. Spencer’s blog titled “Classroom Leadership: From Compliant Kids to Ethical Thinkers” was an incredibly insightful post for an up and coming teacher. Mr. Spencer drew attention to the responsibility of teachers to lead the classroom in a way that students may receive an education and also learn to make positive choices regarding their behavior. Many teachers make rules, give consequences for breaking rules, and reward students for good behavior. Mr. Spencer points out students should not be rewarded or bribed for behaving in a way that is already expected of them. Most importantly, Mr. Spencer states that sometimes it is necessary to overlook a rule infraction and get on the same level of the student, allowing that student to open-up to you as a teacher. This can form a mutual respect with students which enables the learning process to move forward.

Mr. Spencer’s post made me aware of a totally new approach to classroom management. As teachers, we are responsible for the education of our students, but often times, we are also teaching life lessons. I agree with his philosophy and can see the benefits of communicating with, rather than condemning, students.In my response, I asked Mr. Spencer  how a new teacher entering the classroom can implement this practice without losing control of their students. Let’s face it; if you don’t show students that you are in control, you may find yourself with a mutiny on your hands. I also asked for suggestions in creating an environment of ethical, responsible thinkers rather than compliant students. This assignment has allowed me to consider an alternative approach to classroom management.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that Mr. Spencer had not only replied to my comment on his blog, but had also given me a link to download his book,"A Sustainable Start". This book relays some of his experiences as a teacher and provides readers with a different approach to managing a classroom. I believe this could be an especially useful tool for first year teachers. You should definitely check out his blog! What a nice guy!
A Sustainable Start

C4T #1, Comment 2

As a follow-up to this assignment, I read Mr. John Spencer's blog post "Classroom Leadership: From Standardized to Personalized". This blog contains a touching story that Mr. Spencer shares about a personal experience of his from the third grade. He was a student who had a great deal of knowledge about Russia and current world events as a result of open family discussion and a grandfather who shared stories from World War II. Mr. Spencer's teacher did not appreciate him speaking out freely during class. Instead of having an appreciation for the interest and comprehension of such a young student and finding a way to teach him that speaking out was not acceptable, she punished him for being rude. 

Mr. Spencer believes that students can mature behaviorally when teachers lead the classroom in a personalized manner. Standardized policies and rules are very cut and dry; if you do this, then this is the consequence. This seems to be the standard approach to dealing with behavior because it's the way it's always been done. Each student is an individual with a unique personality and traits. If a teacher treats everyone the same, it's more like choking-out weeds instead of nurturing flowers. Individualism has to be taken into consideration when dealing with infringements. However, some situations can be discussed, having the student reflect upon their decisions while others, like students fighting, would require a more serious approach.   

I responded by saying that had I been Mr. Spencer's teacher, I would have been quite pleased and proud of his interest and comprehension. We have all had a doctor who is an extraordinary doctor, but just has a horrible bed-side manner. There are some professional educators who are wonderful at teaching, but just don't have that personal, compassionate element that is such an important quality to have when dealing with children. Students learn a lot by what they see and not just what they are told by teachers. If a teacher does not demonstrate kindness, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness, how can they expect students to be required to behave in those ways? 

Mr. Spencer's stories have helped me realize I need to remember to consider my students as individuals; humans who make mistakes, and find creative ways to help them learn from those mistakes. A lesson learned would seem to be far more valuable than missing recess for two days. By getting to know my students and appreciating their unique personalities, I can teach a respect for rules while helping each student learn from their mistakes. After all, I know I still make a few mistakes of my own from time to time.... 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blog Post #2

Did You Know?

Two must see horror flicks every educator should see are "Did You Know? 3.0 - A John Strange Version" and the original "Did You Know 3.0" by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod. Both videos can be viewed at . I refer to these videos as horror flicks because the statistics covered in each are frightening! Technology has advanced throughout the world in every aspect of our lives. Evidently, other countries, like China and India, are surpassing the United States in intellect and technology use. The solution in bridging this gap would appear to be in education; beginning in the classrooms. If you are majoring in education, intimidated by technology, and afraid of using technology in the classroom, you may want to watch both of these videos with the lights on!

It is amazing to me that 8 minutes and 57 seconds of video could open my eyes to a an aspect of teaching that I had never before realized. I have always pictured myself in the classroom responsible for teaching my students the required curriculum. The future of my students would be dependent upon their success in school. I now understand the importance of my students' success in technology as well as state required curriculum.

The technological advances already made within my lifetime are astounding. I recall classrooms with blackboards, over-head projectors, type writers, and computers with floppy disks. Jeff Dunn posted a fascinating visual perspective of the evolution of technology. Mr. Dunn's post can be accessed at the Site. You may be surprised at what you see!

It is apparent that in order to be the best educator possible, my education will continue beyond my graduation from the University of South Alabama. It will be necessary for me to remain abreast of the latest technology. An informative website which could serve as an extremely beneficial resource to anyone interested in using technology in the classroom is While I found Jeff Dunn's post entertaining and informative, I also read many posts containing technology lesson plans, interactive learning games, and more. You may also find this site on facebook or follow on twitter @edudemic.
Computer Terror

Mr. Winkle 

Mr. Winkle had a lot to absorb when he woke up! I'm sure he was fascinated by all of the technology he experienced in the office, hospital, and highway. Unfortunately, he visited the wrong school. For anyone who hasn't seen Mr. Winkle Wakes, it's a must see!

If Mr. Winkle had visited Hutchens or Dawes Elementary in West Mobile, he would have found students taking A.R. tests or playing interactive learning games on the Smart Board in classrooms. He may have passed students in the hallway as they excitedly proceeded to the computer lab for a lesson in photosynthesis. I have been fortunate enough to frequently substitute at both of these schools. Their technology programs are inspirational. 

It would be nice to invite Mr. Winkle into my classroom someday and have him observe young students using technology as a learning tool. Perhaps before he left, Mr. Winkle  could Skype Dr. Strange to give a report of all that I, and my students, were able to teach him in our technologically advanced learning environment!
Computer Lab Fun

Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity

Raise your hand if you have been in a classroom with at least one child who seems to have a problem focusing on a lesson. Even if you are doing a group activity on the Smart Board and you choose that student to be your special helper; a positive approach has not helped, a consequence for disruption will probably make things worse. So what do you do?

Sir Ken Robinson gives some good advice. You need to stand back, observe, and evaluate the child (or children) who have an issue with focus and productivity of direct instruction. As a substitute teacher, I have seen some of the cutest, rambunctious students in classes that I have taught in. Some respond well with a little attention. Sir Ken Robinson is right; if you can find something they enjoy doing, shape that to the lesson, they become productive and extremely proud of themselves. 

I know that even as an adult student, I grow tired of sitting still and listening to a lecture. It's hard enough for some adults to do this, but what happens when we expect this of young students? Everyone learns in different ways. I believe this lecture has helped me realize that a problem may not be a problem; it may be an opportunity. The prescription needed may not be Adderall or Ritalin, but an art class, sports, or dancing. 

As teachers, we may need to be prepared to think outside of the box that society is painting around these children and evaluate  behaviors and performances in a different way. Watching Sir Ken Robinson's Lecture has taught me that not all children learn by sitting still and being quiet. I will need to consider different teaching approaches in order to accommodate the learning experience of some students.  

Classroom Disruption

Wow! Talk about two totally different learning environments! While watching the Classroom Disruption Video  I had horrible flashbacks to lectures of feeling like I was in a foreign language class, except I wasn't, and feelings of fatigue imposed by tremendous boredom to the point of holding my eyelids open. It's obvious that any student would rather be in the interactive, computer based classroom.

Watching this video gave me many visual examples of what I know I should and should not do in order to be an effective teacher. 
  • Engage with students: The teacher who interacted with students, extended different communication methods using technology, and incorporated technology into lessons while stopping to ask and answer questions as needed was able to maintain the interest and participation of his students.
  • Be excited: The teacher using technology seemed excited about what he was teaching his students. His attitude was obviously infectious, as you saw students asking questions, smiling, and a majority participating in activities outside of class which were not required. 
  • Be prepared: The "technology challenged" teacher came into class after students were already seated.  He entered the classroom in a disruptive and domineering manner and proceeded to prepare to give his presentation. This did not seem to impress students.
  • Dress Professionally:  While it may be cute or funny to wear that red reindeer sweater, it makes you look like a goof-ball and will not earn the respect of your students. When a teacher dresses professionally, it shows they take their job seriously and place value in their profession. 
In closing, I would like to share a personal teaching experience. I was teaching a 4th grade Alabama History lesson, and the only resource I had to work with that day was, you guessed it, a text book. Rather than just have the students read to themselves, we read as a group. I encouraged the students to think about the people they were reading about and incorporate accents and emotion as they read. We stopped on occasion to discuss the unfolding story. Students became interested and excited with the lesson. I can only imagine what they would have been able to comprehend if I had access to a video and interactive exercise on the smartboard or a program on classroom computers.

It is my goal to be the kind of teacher shown on the video who brought excitement and technology into the classroom. I will most certainly have to put forth extra effort in order to find useful technology based lessons for my students. As a teacher, I believe that extra effort will always be a win-win situation; students will enjoy learning and obtain more information and I will enjoy teaching. "It makes total sense when you just think about it."