Thursday, April 30, 2009

My EDM 310 Blog Assignments are Now Complete

To my classmates:

It has been a long and busy semester and I am glad it is finally drawing to a close. I think I was able to really help a few of you with some of the concepts of this class and I am glad for that opportunity. I have a passion for helping people learn and that is why I want to become a teacher. If anybody needs anything in the future, don't hesitate to contact me. My school email address is I hope everybody has a nice, safe summer and I wish you all luck in your respective teaching fields.


Reflection on what I've learned this semester

EDM 310 was actually one of my favorite classes I have taken so far in college. I came into the class with a pretty good amount of computer knowledge and technical proficiency. I have been using computers extensively since I was in high school and actually had several elective courses in keyboarding, word processing, and Microsoft Office. But times have changed drastically since then. I was interested to learn about many of the technological tools that are now available for use in the classroom.

Google documents were new to me. I have been using Microsoft Office my whole life and had no idea they even existed. I like the fact that they are free and can be recommended to any of my students that doesn't have Office. I also like that they are stored online and can be accessed anywhere. However, I still prefer to use Office for my personal needs. There are issues that I had with Google documents that made it inferior to Office in my eyes. The main problem I had with Google was lag. The menu options sometimes took a very long time to load. I also did not like the interface. I found it nearly impossible to determine where I was on a page and print preview was not always accurate. Google also lacked a lot of the features of Office, especially when it came to presentations. I believe Google needs to devote time and energy towards combating these problems before anybody with access to both actually chooses their service.

Contacting a teacher outside of my region was immensely helpful to me. Not only did she give me a lot of cool technological ideas, but she also gave me ideas for hands-on projects and how they apply to teaching psychology. Anybody who has read my professional blog knows how much I love active learning! In the future, if I am having trouble conveying a concept, I may just write Ms. Damschen and ask her how she approaches it. I am not even teaching yet and already I have a good contact that I can network with and share ideas.

Blogging was definitely an interesting approach that I have evaluated in a previous post. However, I loved the Professional Blog project. I am probably going to edit mine to look more like a resume and use it as a tool in job interviews. I have often thought of what I am going to be like as a teacher, but this is the first time I have actually organized those thoughts and conveyed them into written form. That process actually made me even more excited about my future teaching career. I can't wait!

Podcasts were another project that made me think a little differently than I had before. Prior to taking this class, I hated podcasts. I would much rather read an article at my own pace than listen to the podcast about it. I think it would be a really cool idea for an interactive project though. However, if I implement this as a teacher it will totally be unscripted. There was nothing more boring to me than listening to the people who were reading their podcast directly off of a sheet of paper. When the students spoke from their heart and actually interacted and had a real conversation, it was significantly more enjoyable. I also think it is cool that the podcasts can be posted online and students can show their parents, or even out-of-state relatives, exactly what they are doing in class.

There were many other helpful concepts we went over in class. Everybody can read about my love-hate relationship with Twitter in my previous blog. I was very thankful for the Foliotek instruction. This is the first class in which I have had to use it and now I know enough about it to make posting standards for my other classes much easier. It was much more confusing than I thought it would be so I am glad to have the info. Delicious was also cool, as I had never heard of it before the class. I actually used it to help a fellow student, Christie Love, save information about her out-of-state teaching contact. iTunes was a good place to find educational multimedia that can be used to enhance the classroom experience. Google forms can be used to get a wealth of information about my students.

There were a lot of areas that I would have liked to learn more about. ACCESS and ALEX were two of those areas. I really wish we could have visited ACCESS labs, or even had the planned video available on the class blog. I also wish we had used Google Earth more. In my Hitler and Nazi Germany class last semester, my professor used Google Earth to show us the exact march Hitler made to the town square. I thought that was a neat way to present the information and wished we could have learned more about how to do that for ourselves. I also wanted to learn more about Picasa, especially some of the more advanced capabilities. We also didn't really get into the accessibility issues very much either. I was interested to see the blind guy's talking computer than was mentioned earlier in the semester and am disappointed that we never got to do that. I also would have liked to explore some of the prospective educational uses of Myspace and Facebook.

There is nothing that I did not want to learn in this class and now wish to unlearn. I believe that whether or not the technology is something I wish to incorporate, it is good to know that it is out there. I think that teachers should want to be knowledgeable and educated about all of the options that are available to them. I think they owe it to their students to at least be willing to give an unconventional approach a chance if it can enhance the educational experience.

I have always striven to be a technologically savvy individual and this class just confirms that I want to transfer that attitude into my future teaching career.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sir Ken Robinson - Finding your passion changes everything

Sir Ken Robinson believes that most adults have no idea of their true talents. He believes that people should be doing what they truly love, "in their element". Most people's job is not their passion however. He feels that the education system is partly to blame for this. Academic subjects are emphasized over the arts. Robinson wonders why our children are taught math every day and not taught dancing or painting in the same manner. He says that creativity is just as important as literacy and if you're not prepared to be wrong than you will never come up with anything original.

I agree with a lot of what Sir Robinson says. A large portion of my professional blog deals with bringing out the creativity of my students. I feel it is a trait that needs to be nourished and encouraged as much as possible. Unfortunately, it is not emphasized in the classroom as it should be. I think that teachers should assign projects and lessons that emphasize active learning with their students taking a large role in their learning process. I do not know if I would teach every student dancing every day like Sir Robinson proposes. Instead I would make that option available for the children that would be interested. I feel that each child is unique and schools emphasize a singular path towards college too much. More care should be taken to prepare children for different career paths.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I was driving down the interstate about a week ago when I noticed a billboard I had never seen before. Ashton Kutcher was petitioning for people to follow him on Twitter. I actually researched his efforts and just read that his advertising campaign has gained him more than 1 million followers. The rise in Twitter's mainstream popularity has been amazing, especially considering the site has only been in existence for 2 years. But can Twitter be useful for something other than finding out every superficial move of your favorite celebrity?

I became a Twitter user (Twitterer? Tweeter? Twooter? The jargon is still killing me!) for the last 4 weeks. Before this project, I thought that Twitter was a colossal waste of time. While I still believe that for the most part, there are ways that it can be educationally valuable. I read several articles concerning ways that it could be helpful to me as a teacher. I followed several teachers who used Twitter to collaborate and send pertinent links. I even Tweeted myself, including both personal information and material that could help my classmates, such as the article concerning the Tweeting of the Passion of the Christ on Good Friday.

I learned that the majority of people on Twitter really don't have much useful to say. Unfortunately most of the Tweets that I received said something along the lines of "I am in class" or "I am studying". Am I wrong to think that even the posts about every-day events should be somewhat unique and interesting? I tweeted the unusual things that happened to me, such as my saga a few weeks ago when my car and motorcycle broke down on the same day. However, unless someone knows me or is stalking me that information would not have much value to them. I also found those who do have something useful to say usually say too much. It is hard to find the useful links when there are users sending out several in one sitting! I tended to unfollow any user who Tweeted more than 2-3 times a day.

I believe the main educational benefit of Twitter is as a group collaboration. Teachers can follow eachother and share links, project ideas, lesson plans, and anything else that might be helpful to their fellow educators. Twitter enables teachers to submit their own ideas and methods and get instant feedback. It also opens them up to a social network outside of their own school, city, or even country. Connecting with educators around the world to share knowledge makes Twitter an invaluable tool. However, the same functionality could be performed with Myspace, Facebook, or any other social networking site. What makes Twitter the most viable option is its current popularity, which is impossible to gauge whether or not it will remain in the future. If everyone (and literally their mother) is still a fervent Tweeter a few years down the road, there will be vast social networking possibilities for educators.

There are several negative aspects to using Twitter. The most crucial to me is that there is no way to separate the good information from the drivel. The use of hashtags helps but is often too specific. The main solution I can see to this problem is to create a Twitter account solely for educational purposes and only follow teachers that do the same. However, that would take a great deal of outside effort to organize and might be overwhelming for teachers who are not as technologically savvy ("I need more than one Twitter account, why?"). I also found that I got bored with Twitter very quickly. I was excited at first when I began Tweeting but lately the novelty has worn off. I went into Twitter daily to check the postings for this project, but I rarely made a post. I also think the interface of Twitter can be superfluous, especially if you are following a lot of people who tweet often. As I stated before, I deleted most of the people on my list who tweeted several times a day because I had to wade through so many things that did not apply to me to find the things that did.

Many people are using Twitter in creative and unusual ways, though. Dr. Strange posted the links I found to both the Twittering plants and the Passion of the Christ on his blog. I especially liked the article on the class blog about the professor encouraging his students to pass notes on Twitter during class. I think that would be extremely distracting! Twitter is also being used by police to inform the public about important issues, some of which can be read about here. A few more bizarre uses for Twitter are listed here, including a Tweeting washing machine.

While I can see the positive uses of Twitter, I doubt it will be a tool I will use in the future, personally or professionally. Personally, I am just not interested in writing every mundane thing I am doing and reading similar updates of others. I do not care about what celebrities are doing in their spare time. I also do not see Twitter as being anything other than a temporary fad which will gradually wear off in popularity. I prefer Myspace, where I can converse with my friends without a character limit and can post more detailed information about myself, such as my pictures and favorite songs. Professionally, I will probably not utilize Twitter either. While it may work for other teachers, I guess it is just not for me. However, I would be open to using it in the future in one of the exclusive teacher groups I described above.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

EDM 310 podcasts and how mine could have been better

The first podcast I listened to was Tracy Traylor, Tyler Tuveson, and Ashlyn Wilcox discussing Shift Happens. I thought this would be interesting to listen to as I did my podcast on the same topic and wanted to see how another group approached it. There were several good things that I found in this podcast. The segment where everyone gave their first impression of the video was interesting. I also liked some of the suggestions, such as once a year technology classes for teachers. I loved how they analyzed the video from their respective teaching fields. However, I felt this podcast went off on tangents (especially about other Karl Fisch quotes) quite a bit without really dealing with the content of the presentation itself. They didn't really talk about the presentation other than saying it had amazing statistics. Only one of those statistics were actually discussed in the podcast. Sound was also an issue with the first girl too close to the microphone, and the last girl too far away. A lot of the segments sounded too rehearsed, like they were obviously reading from a sheet of paper. There was a long definition of special education that especially sounded like it was being read.

The next podcast I listened to was Nikki Hunter, Christi Turner, and Tiffany Blocker discussing Burp Back education. The first thing I noticed about this podcast is that the girls talked extremely fast. I thought it was cool that they did some research and found a pertinent outside quote. I also enjoyed the suggestions of activities for elementary school kids. However, there was still quite a bit of obvious reading from notes. The unrehearsed parts were better and far more interesting. I also thought the recommendation to take breaks after two or three MINUTES of teaching was a bit drastic. I would have also like to seen a discussion on whether or not there are any benefits to Burp Back education.

I then listened to April Griffin and Jeremy Harvey discuss the last lecture of Randy Pausch. I was a bit distracted by the background noise. Were there other students talking during their podcast? The podcast contained good background information on Mr. Pausch. However, it was primarily just a synopsis of the lecture. April and Jeremy did not discuss their personal opinions about the lecture until the very end and very briefly. Having already watched the lecture, I did not really learn anything new from the podcast. I would have loved to hear some back-and-forth conversation. I also thought the segways between speakers were awkward and the podcast suffered from microphone volume issues.

I was a bit leery to listen to my podcast again. I am a perfectionist and quite a bit critical of myself. I really think it turned out well though. Jessica, Christie, and I were a bit nervous at first, probably because we were the first group to go. I think we found a nice groove and were able to have an effective conversation. The fact that our podcast was unscripted made it flow a lot better. I deliberately tried to UNDER-prepare my group to achieve this end, but we would have definitely benefited from a run-through or two. I also think that I should have found a smoother way to end the podcast. All in all, it was an interesting experience and not nearly as painful as I thought it would be.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Plusses and Minuses of Blogs in the Classroom

Ever since the semester began, I have been maintaining this very EDM 310 blog. I also read Christie Love's blog to see how her experiences were both similar and different to mine. Let me begin by saying that I believe blogs can be a very valuable educational tool. Students are able to complete a variety of tasks on their own time and expose themselves to a great deal of media. Not only does a blog stimulate learning in the subject being taught, it also encourages a student's overall computer literacy.

Many of my favorite tasks on the blog were those in which we had to read an article and post our reaction. It is interesting to look at both Christie's blog and mine and see how our opinions have differed. In response to Karl Fisch's claim that there is nothing worse than being a technologically illiterate teacher, Christie wholeheartedly agrees. She writes, "I can really say that I agree 100% with Karl Fisch about teachers that are illiterate to technology." On the other hand, I thought his statement was a bit too harsh. Christie also has a much more unforgiving view regarding the use of Wikipedia. She says, "I will never use wikipedia for any of my classes or personal use," while I feel that there are some situations where Wikipedia could be helpful.

Another potential benefit of the blog is that it provides a place where multimedia can be displayed. I enjoyed the "About me" presentations done in class and they can now be viewed directly on the blog. Students can also create audio or video clips and post them in the same way. I am a huge proponent of interactive classroom projects and think this would be an interesting way to display them to the world. Many of the classroom blogs I researched for my previous post took a concept or required reading from class and encouraged the students to make a creative endeavor out of it, whether through drawings, poetry, or even photography.

The biggest drawback I see to using blogs in the classroom is access to computers. In college, it is easy to make access to a personal computer mandatory. Each department has its own computer lab and students can easily access any program they need. I am actually sitting in the student center at the moment completing this assignment. Public schools are different. There are still families who can't afford personal computers and devoting class time is often difficult as many students are vying for limited resources. I would possibly have to offer an alternative project for students who were unable to complete the blog because of limited home computer access. However, as computers become even cheaper and increase in popularity, I could totally see myself incorporating a blog into my future classroom.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Growth" vs "Fixed" Mindsets

Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Standford, feels there is a disparity in motivation pertaining to how students perceive their own intellectual abilities. Some students believe their intelligence is fixed and they cannot change it. Dweck believes these children are more concerned with looking smart than actually learning. On the other hand, there are students who believe their intelligence can grow if used and nourished.

Students were sent to a workshop where they were taught study skills. However, half of the students were placed in a group where they also received seminars in how to develop a brain growth mindset. The difference in academic success between the two groups was startling. The group with a growth mindset significantly outperformed the control group. Dweck has also applied her concept to racecar drivers and businesspeople.

This certainly affects me as a teacher, particularly a psychology teacher. This would be a very good topic to cover in my class and could possibly also improve the results of my students as well. A lot of students do not have proper motivation to want to learn and achieve. If they see that their intelligence is not immutable, it can open up the natural curiosity that they have. I have always felt that an understanding of psychology and how the brain works is an important thing for people to be educated about.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Video podcasts - A very useful educational tool

WGBH is Boston's PBS affiliate. They have a wealth of educational videos on the internet that are available for anybody to download. Most of the videos were focused on science. The video I watched was targeted at high school students and was about the rise of homo sapiens and the extinction of Neanderthals. The video was taken directly from the show NOVA and was only 5 minutes long.

I believe videos like this can be extremely invaluable to a teacher. Even in college, it is difficult to hold attention in a class that is strictly lecture based. Educational videos provide another way to convey information. The videos on the WGBH iTunes site are professionally done. They can also be downloaded to a computer and viewed at any time. The main advantage of these videos is that they are a totally free tool that any teacher has access to. I could totally imagine myself finding some useful psychology videos on here and showing them to my future students.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


For my project, I contacted Julie Damschen, a psychology teacher at Helix Charter High School in San Diego, California. I found Ms. Damschen by searching Yahoo for web pages of high school psychology teachers, and stumbled onto her very extensive page. Ms. Damschen's Psych(o) Stuff can be viewed here. At first, she did not believe she could teach me much about incorporating technology into teaching but quickly discovered that she knew more than she thought.

One really cool thing about Ms. Damschen was that she was able to achieve one of my main lifetime goals and backpack through Europe. She recommended that I be sure to visit Budapest, Prague, Rome, Barcelona, and Paris when I take my own trip. When she got her degree, she never thought she would become a teacher. However, living out of a backpack really made her reevaluate her priorities. She taught many social studies classes at first, but took over teaching the psychology department from a friend and has since expanded it greatly, even adding her school's second AP Class.

She created her classroom webpage not because it was mandatory at her school, but because she thought it would be a great way for teachers and students both to access information. She offers sections pertaining to homework, AP tests, and practice quizzes among others. I asked her if educational webpages were more prevalent in California, but she believes it is more of a school-by-school initiative than state-by-state.

One of the main tools that Ms. Damschen uses to bring technology into her classroom is her laptop. She is almost never without it. She does all of her grading and attendance online, and also uses her computer to show Powerpoint presentations, watch Youtube videos, and play DVDs. She also has a document camera, which is like an overhead projector that can display any type of media. She uses it to highlight pertinent articles in magazines. She expressed interest in maybe one day using blogs and podcasts, but does not yet feel she has adequate time or training.

Ms. Damschen has never collaborated with a teacher in another state but thinks it sounds like a neat idea. The main obstacle to such a project would be access to computers. Ms. Damschen only has one computer in her classroom and it is very difficult to book time in the computer lab. She also feels she is on a "time crunch" to teach skills and content so she must be very careful about what types of projects she assigns. Her main project is for her students to conduct experiments and present them in the school Psychology Fair, using freshmen as their guinea pigs.

Ms. Damschen does not believe that any teacher will be able to survive being technologically illiterate. The teachers in her school must post all of their grades and attendance online and also correspond via email. Her school is also being re-accredited this year, and the whole process is being done over the internet. Instead of holding lengthy faculty meetings, teachers are able to interact with eachother through online bulletin boards. This is just an example of the technological activities that teachers do behind the scenes.

She was also able to give me a lot of suggestions of things I can incorporate into my future psychology classroom. She has her students create models of the brain out of such objects as Play-Doh, candy, and Legos. She has her students simulate drug addiction by becoming "addicted" to ice cubes. They must use ice cubes in all of their beverages, but also have to hide them from their family. She says her students' favorite interactive activity is a meditation session she holds to teach about consciousness.

Miss Damschen is very passionate about her teaching career and gave me many ideas of what type of teacher I would like to become. In a couple of years, I will have my own classroom. I am saving her emails even after this class has ended to give me ideas for when I create my own curriculum.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Edible Schoolyard and A Night in the Global Village

The Edible Schoolyard is a really neat concept. Students cultivate their own garden and in turn learn lessons about biology, cooking, and even etiquette. It is a unique way to teach outside of the confines of a traditional classroom. A Night in the Global Village accomplishes the same thing. Students are divided into third world countries and must live a night in "poverty", bartering for resources and fending for themselves. Some students are even assigned to a refugee camp where they start with nothing and are also not allowed to communicate.

When I was in school, we didn't do a lot of cool hands-on stuff like this. I have always been a fan of a more interactive learning experience instead of strictly book learning. Field trips and other activities like this can really take a child out of his comfort zone and provide a truly memorable experience.

Podcasts like these can be helpful to me as a teacher as a source of generating ideas. One of my personal characteristics that I hope to apply the most to my teaching career is creativity. Educational podcasts serve as a valuable way of seeing what methods other teachers are using to convey their message in unique and thought-provoking ways. It may also be beneficial to record and discuss the class projects that I implement so that other curious teachers can get ideas from me.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

All about iTunes U

iTunes University is a vast collection of educational multimedia created by top universities, PBS affiliates, and progressive K-12 classrooms. They encourage mobile learning, that is learning outside of the confines of a desk and classroom. There is a great wealth of media on the site which is amazing considering the project is still in its infancy. Many universities offer public content as well as more in-depth password protected content for their enrolled students.

There are several ways this could be helpful to me as a teacher. If I would like to research different ways to lecture on a topic, it is easy to search and find lectures by other teachers and professors. If I would like to find an educational video to show in my classroom, I can locate those here also. The resources available on iTunes U can be accessed from anywhere therefore it may be a good source to recommend to my students for their research projects. iTunes U is one of many valuable online resources that will benefit teachers and students alike.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Using Ipods in the classroom

Ipods are just another example of the many ways teachers are trying to incorporate new technology into the classroom. Of course I am among the majority who has only used an Ipod to listen to music. It comes in handy at the gym quite a bit. But educators are going above and beyond that and turning their classroom Ipods into complete multimedia centers.

Duke University is quickly becoming a pioneer in the field. Satti Khanna, a professor of Asian and African languages, utilizes Ipod Touches in his Advanced Hindi class. Not only do his students record language related activities around campus, they also record videos and send them back to India. An article on Dr. Khanna's methods can be found here.

This new technology is not simply reserved for older students however. Mrs. Levin uses Ipods extensively with her Pre-K students. She plays educational songs on such topics as shapes, colors, and the alphabet. She also utilizes Audacity, a free recording software, to dictate stories onto the machine. Mrs. Levin has created podcasts for parents regarding important events in the classroom, and hopes to have one with her students one day. Her very informative website can be found here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dr. Christie's educational resources

Dr. Alice Christie is like Dr. Strange only more hardcore towards technology (Who thought that was possible?). She is an educational technology professor who has a very extensive website. One of the most useful features she offers is her Educational Technology guide, which can be viewed here. It contains extensive links, resources, and tutorials on how teachers can incorporate technology into their K-12 classrooms.

One section of Dr. Christie's guide that was particularly compelling was the area dealing with podcasts. We are going to do our EDM 310 podcasts next week, and Dr. Christie's page has a wealth of information. She provides resources to teach about podcasts, basic answers about what they are, and examples of effective podcasts both by her own students as well as K-12 students around the country. Any curious teacher who would like to implement such a project could make her site a one-stop source for information. I can definitely see how Dr. Christie's site could be very useful to me as a teacher.

Can Wikipedia ever be trusted?

When researching for a term paper, it is very easy to just plug your topic into Wikipedia and get all the information you need. But where is that information coming from? Wikipedia allows anybody to edit their content so there is no way to know if the information is trustworthy. When I use Wikipedia, I use it a little differently and a lot more cautiously. Wikipedia allows users to provide other webpages as citations for the information provided. If the information has a reliable citation, I will use it as a source. But I would never even remotely consider using Wikipedia itself as a source.

It is a bit scary, however, that large companies and political organizations are altering Wikipedia to make themselves look better. It does not surprise me that Wal-Mart is one of the main offenders. People with limited technological knowledge may just accept what they read as fact. Virgil Griffith's Wikipedia Scanner is a great tool to see just who has been altering information for their personal gain. However, all it does is simply add a step to somebody who wishes to be truly anonymous. Anybody could go to their local library or internet cafe and edit the information there without it being able to be traced back to them. I do not believe that Wikipedia will ever be a reliable educational source and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

I was cynical about this assignment at first because of the length of the lecture. But after watching it, I totally agree that it was more than worth the time. The first thing I noticed about Randy Pausch is that he was in remarkable spirits for somebody who was dying. The entire lecture he was making jokes and wisecracking, even challenging those who may pity him to match him in a push-up contest. He was so full of vitality and life I am sure it was an honor for any student to have had him as a professor. I know that if I were in his shoes that I would not even be able to take it an iota as well as he did.

One of his mantras that I really identified with was his obsession with having fun. He says that he doesn't know how to NOT have fun, even though he is dying he is still having fun. I have always tried to live my life in the same way, but sometimes it is much too easy to get bogged down in a multitude of responsibilities and frustrations. One of the main things I want to achieve as a teacher is to have a fun classroom and create a memorable experience for my students.

It is truly amazing how he was able to achieve all of his childhood dreams. I can't even remember any of my childhood dreams! I read a bit more about him after the assignment, and I found out that he was able to practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers, achieving the one goal on his list that had eluded him. One of my main goals has always been to backpack through Europe, and I hope I get that opportunity in a few years when I graduate from college.

Dr. Pausch also made it a point to mention "brick walls", barriers that keep you from your goals if you don't want them enough. I have gone through a lot in my life, but I have never let it keep me from my goal of going to school and becoming a teacher. I have had to delay my dreams and alter my plans accordingly, but here I am. I am sure there will be many more obstacles in my future, but I am willing to do what it takes to get what I want. Pauch's last lecture was extremely true and insightful and it is a tragedy that it did truly live up to it's name.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Last semester's blogs...

The first blog that I listened to was "Watchers and Listeners - How Do We Respond?" by John Hardman, Keri Ashworth, and Autumn Jordan, with a special guest appearance from Dr. Strange. The first podcast on the page... While everyone seemed a bit nervous at first, I found this podcast very well done. The Strange participation helped quite a bit to calm everyone down and keep them on topic. There were many aspects of this podcast that I really enjoyed. I liked the extensive introductions because they really give the listener a feel for the speakers. I also enjoyed the anecdotes and the humor employed. While the blog sounded a bit unprepared at first, it became evident that the speakers were using extensive notes and outlines to keep themselves on topic. I believe, for my podcast to sound professional, it must utilize the same concepts of preparation.

The next blog I listened to was Mrs. Averitt's "My classes at South: How is technology used in them?" by Matthew Cline and Jill Ravette. This podcast was much shorter, actually less than half as long as the previous. I felt very sympathetic towards the speakers because they sounded exceptionally nervous. Ms. Ravette's voice was shaking nearly the entire podcast. One of the things that they incorporated that I really enjoyed was an in-depth explanation of the technology used. Somebody who isn't a student of South could better understand from a layman's viewpoint. But unfortunately I found more negative than positive in this podcast. From the intro to the ending, the speakers sounded unprepared. In a podcast about utilization of technology at South, I expected Powerpoint slides to be addressed extensively, but they were talked about for merely less than a minute at the very end. This presentation confirmed my belief that an extensive outline and notes are not only beneficial but absolutely necessary. A podcast also sounds much better with a charismatic emcee keeping the conversation in line.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Best of Fischbowl Continued - Customer Service

Upon browsing the best of Fischbowl for 2007, the blog post for May, entitled "Customer Service" jumped out at me. I have been working in a customer service capacity in one way or another for the past 8 years and currently pay for my education by waiting tables. Though I am not crazy about my job, I do work very hard and put a lot of effort into the way I treat my customers. The Youtube video of the HP Technical Support call was actually far too familiar. Many people in this and similar industries are too apathetic to really care about the needs of their patrons. I actually used to work in a call center, and I know from firsthand experience that they are not concerned with call quality, but rather call quantity.

So how can this lesson be focused on my future profession as a teacher? Fisch believes that a teacher should see his students as "customers" and be focused on giving them superior service. I believe the most important thing that this entails is having a remarkable amount of patience and understanding towards your students. Just as a waiter may patiently explain the notion of side items to someone who obviously doesn't eat out much, a teacher should make total sure that their students fully understand the concept instead of merely memorizing answers. Hopefully, when I am a teacher, the reward for my patience and caring will be far more than in a totally under-appreciated customer service role.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What we can learn from popular podcasts

SmartBoard Lessons Podcast was probably my favorite out of the six podcasts I listened to. It was hosted by a couple of strange, quirky Canadian folks who had great chemistry with eachother, making the show flow effortlessly. It almost sounded similar to a morning radio show. They also mixed in humor which kept the content from getting too dry. The information presented was very helpful to future teachers as well, even giving websites where teachers can meet up and collaborate online projects. An interview at a teacher's conference in Britain gave this podcast a truly international feel.

Kidcast is a very instructional blog which helps use podcasts as an instructional source. The fact that there was only one host and no back-and-forth really hurt this podcast in my opinion. However, the speaker was very passionate about his subject and that in itself made him interesting. He really gets on the soapbox while talking about such things as students making podcasts solely for the sake of making podcasts.

EdTechTalk was neat for the fact that they broadcast live. Unfortunately, the hosts are very dry and seem to have no chemistry together at all. The production felt quite a bit disjointed to me. A good feature, though, were the interviews with parents regarding what they feel their role should be in their child's education. Another thing I noticed is that most of the contributors to this podcast were also Canadian. Are they really that much ahead of the technological game than us?

MacBreak Weekly really made a positive impression on me when I heard a familiar voice in Leo Laporte. I used to watch his show on the short-lived TechTV, "Call For Help", which guided new users in some of the basics of their "personal confuser". Mr. Laporte's charisma as an emcee really gives this program a smooth flow as well as a professional feel. The humor and small talk created a comfortable environment. I also like how it began with its own theme music. While I am not a user of any Mac products, I can see why this blog would be useful.

This Week in Photography stood out to me because it was the only blog I listened to with corporate sponsors. One feature I really liked about this blog was that it introduced the topics that would be discussed immediately, letting the listener know exactly what to expect. Another neat feature was highlighting pertinent topics in the news. The hosts of this podcast also made small talk and tried to convey a feeling of familiarity. My main complaint about this podcast is that is was over an hour and a half long. It is very hard to navigate through such a bulky program and I wonder why podcasts do not include bookmarks, perhaps similar to the scene selection from a DVD.

Unfortunately I was unable to find the Connect Learning podcast, so instead I substituted The Teacher's Podcast (Techpod), which can be found here. This program had a lot of helpful information for future teachers, I even learned things I didn't know about the progressive education system in Kazakhstan, a country I would have never expected to be on the cutting edge. While the chemistry between the hosts is not as good as some of the podcasts I listened to, they genuinely try to build up a good repertoire with eachother. Another good idea they had was specific theme episodes, such as one dealing with educational suggestions on how to handle President Obama's inauguration.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?

Karl Fisch's post on his blog, the Fischbowl, raises an interesting question. Technology continues to become more and more important to our everyday lives. If teachers are "technologically illiterate", are they really teaching their students the necessary skills they will need in this world? Fisch does not believe so and even goes as far as to compare it to teachers 30 years ago not knowing how to read or write.

While I am a huge supporter of technological innovations in classrooms, I feel Fisch takes it a bit too far. There are many subjects, such as history or math, that can be taught sufficiently using an old school approach. While I plan to utilize technology when I become a teacher, I can understand some of the older teachers who are not as familiar with it. Future teachers benefit from college courses such as EDM 310 which can serve to shock them into a state of technological literacy if it wasn't there before. The younger generation of teachers have also had the luxury of growing up around computers. I think the infusion of more technologically minded teachers into schools will be an extremely positive thing, and will progressively increase the number of these teachers until they are the vast majority. But I still do not feel this should immediately alienate teachers who are still a bit uncomfortable with technology. Though I feel they should be flexible and willing to attempt to learn, but it is still far too early into the technological age to make it a mandatory skill.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The book Goodnight Mr. Tom by Michelle MagorianLiterature is a popular subject to blog about even overseas. Bucklands Beach Intermediate School in Auckland, New Zealand hosts a blog analyzing "Goodnight Mr. Tom" by Michelle Magorian. The students who contribute to this blog are in Year 7, that is 11-12 year olds or general American middle school age. The students are encouraged to post their interpretations of the book in several personas, including actor, characterizer, poet, word wizard, and discussion director. The blog incorporates a lot of creative work by the students, such as drawings and poetry. Goodnight Mr. Tom can be viewed here.

Child holds up a monster made of recycled trashNew Zealand seems to be on the cutting edge of educational blogs. Tomahawk is a very small elementary school "right near the beach, by a soccer field in Dunedin, New Zealand". The school only has 24 students. While the school may be tiny, they have developed a blog called Tomahawk Tales to document the children's science experiments. The child in the picture was part of a project to make monsters out of recycled trash. Tomahawk Tales can be viewed here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Examples of blogs in US K-12 classrooms

Hand in shackles attempting to catch bees
An instructor at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey came up with an interesting concept for a classroom blog. Don Ginty is a literature teacher who wanted find a unique way for his student to share their thoughts about the book they are reading in class. This particular blog discusses "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Students are encouraged to share their thoughts on the book, summarize class discussions, and even include drawings and other artistic interpretations, such as the one shown on the left. In the initial post, Mr. Ginty even petitions the author of the book to come join his online community. The blog can be found here.

Child's drawing of duckMarin Country Day School is an independent K-8 school in Northern California. A duck decided to make a nest in the school's playground, and "Mrs. Daisy Mallard" now has a blog devoted to her. The blog contains writings and artwork from the younger students and even a song about the duck composed by kindergarten children. The younger students must be thrilled about having their artwork online for anyone in the world to see. The example on the right, drawn by a student named Nathan, gives Daisy advice on what she should do when she builds her next nest. "A Duck with a Blog" can be viewed here.

A picture on a blog


Saturday, January 24, 2009

More about ACCESS

As I wrote in my post concerning ALEX, ACCESS, or the Alabama Connecting Classroom, Educators and Students Statewide, is a virtual classroom in which students can take many classes that are not offered in their high school. Even home schooled students can choose to take the classes with the approval of their local superintendent. Upon researching their site, I found that both Psychology and AP Psychology are among the classes offered by this program, which greatly increases the possibility that this program will be helpful to me as a teacher.

As a future educator with a lot of experience with computers, I could definitely see myself taking part in this program. It is great that students that go to smaller schools that are unable to offer a vast selection of classes are not held at a disadvantage. This could also help reduce the disparity of education between schools in wealthy and poorer districts. Now children in any type of school could take the exact same class with the exact same level of instruction. I believe ACCESS to be a beneficial program and a great way to utilize new advances in technology.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reaction to the Fischbowl video

It is amazing to think of how much impact technology has had on the last 10 years. When I was in high school, just 9 years ago, the internet was still fairly new. There was no myspace, no youtube, and though ebay existed it had nowhere near the popularity is does today. Now it is almost essential to have the internet to merely exist in modern American society. I could not imagine a world where I couldn't send a quick email to a friend, dial up movie listings in two seconds flat, or get clarification on things I am unsure about at the click of a button. Just last month, I repaired my motorcycle with a step by step guide I found on the internet. I have also met several of my friends online and it has opened me up to people I may have never had the opportunity for a chance encounter in person. It is staggering that 1 in 8 couples married last year met on the internet, but it is very believable.

I feel, in the next couple years when I become a teacher, that my students will be far more proficient with and dependent upon technology than I could have imagined when I was in school. My senior project dealt with using computers as teaching aides in a time when using powerpoint presentations in classrooms was unheard of. Now, it is a very common tool. As technology grows and the number of computer literate individuals increases exponentially, I believe I will have a responsibility as an educator to stay abreast and fully educated of the current technology. Computers will play more of a role in our lives 10 years from now and it is nearly impossible to predict just how mighty of an impact they will actually have.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting to know ALEX

ALEX, or the Alabama Learning Exchange, is a database which allows teachers of the same subject and grade level to upload and share personalized lesson plans as well as useful web links. ALEX also lists the teaching objectives for certain subjects and gives specific examples which can be used in lectures. It provides a consistent place for teachers to swap ideas and find the best way to convey information to their students.

Upon accessing the ALEX home page, the interface is fairly simple. You can search for information regarding your specific subject or merely browse the site. As I had never heard of ALEX before this assignment, I found the help page lacking in basic information about the program itself. Despite this, I was able without much difficulty to comprehend the site and figure out its purpose.

Upon researching ALEX, I found no links or personalized lesson plans for my desired teaching field of psychology. This is understandable because of both the recent implementation of the database and the specialized subject area I wish to pursue. I did, however, find examples and state objectives pertaining to psychology. As the database grows, I could see myself using it to gather information for my lesson plans. But in its current state, it is highly incomplete in regards to my specific field.

ACCESS, or the Alabama Connecting Classroom, Educators and Students Statewide, utilizes new technology to create a virtual classroom. Students can take advanced placement classes or any other sort of class which is not offered in their school. This is a very effective program because children are no longer at a disadvantage simply because of the school system they live in. I could see this technology being helpful to me as many smaller high schools do not offer psychology. I could teach a virtual class of students who are just as fascinated with the human mind as I am.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Everything about me you didn't want to know and weren't afraid to ask

Hi, I'm John. I stick out a bit in the class being the only guy, but this is one of very few classes I have taken where I don't know anyone beforehand. I have blue eyes, I'm an Aries, I like long walks on the beach... oh wait a second, wrong type of post!

My desired field of teaching is a bit unusual because I would like to be a secondary and junior college psychology teacher. I am very passionate about studying the human mind and the way people think and behave. Don't worry, I don't sit in class analyzing everyone! I am a junior at South and I also work nearly full time waiting tables at a local seafood restaurant.

One of my main interests outside of school is riding my motorcycle. I usually take it to school, but not on days like this when the high doesn't get past 45... brrrr! I also enjoy playing poker, shooting pool, working out, cycling, and I am of course a computer/video game nerd through and through.

I went to high school in Virginia, which is very different from Southern Alabama. Contrary to the opinion of most of my Alabama friends, I am not a Yankee! When I graduated from high school, I attempted to bicycle cross country. Unfortunately, that dream vanished when me and my bicycle were hit by a car in Tennessee and I injured my knee. But I settled down there and began managing hotels. I even invited my high school sweetheart and we eventually got married. Upon her insistence, we moved to Mobile because it was warm and within driving distance of the beach. Unfortunately our marriage did not last, but I loved the area and the great friends I met so I decided to stay. I had always wanted to be a teacher, so going to South was an easy decision, and I have met many great friends here as well.

Well that is assuredly much more than anyone wanted to know about me. If any of you in my class needs help with anything, don't hesitate to let me know.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yay my first post

I am sitting here in EDM 310 class, but I can't really think of anything interesting to say. So this is my first blog post. Yay, woo hoo, and such...