Sunday, December 2, 2012

eme2040 Reflection

When I first signed up for eme2040, I thought we were going to be learning about the ins and outs of the programs that teachers use at school.  When I received the book, I was happy to see that it went over a multitude of technologies and websites.  I believe I brought a nice experienced background to the classroom and was able to help many of my classmates.  I would make plans to meet classmates before class and would help them on figuring out blogger, zunal, google docs and more.  I will admit that at times it became extremely frustrating when there were people who never got it.  I think I learned that I have a much higher patience for children than I do for adults.

I believe that Wikispaces is a highly useful tool for teachers and students.  However, I found the lack of communication to be daunting and disorganized.  Many of the group members did not participate in the discussions, or did not post their discussions in the right place.  The conversation also was not threaded so it was hard to tell who someone was talking to if the conversation got long.  I think it would have worked better if we were allowed to use other sources besides the website.  Often people would wait for days to check on the site, which would hold up all progress.  The result was not something that made me proud.  Not all the group members put a lot of effort into their pages, which made the website overall look disorganized. The wikispaces project just seemed like a flop to me because there was such a huge lack of communication.  People were editing other people’s work without saying anything, and it just did not jive really well.

I did enjoy creating other projects in eme2040.  I think my favorite was my genetics webquest that I posted on Zunal.  I got to be creative and followed the steps in creating an affective lesson plan that is engaging.  I even shared this with an old teacher of mine who I was doing an observation on.  She was very excited about my project, and she joked by saying I will probably take her job when she retires.

With my experience in group projects, there was good and bad aspects.  The collaborative lesson plan was interesting because we came up with something completely original all on our own.  It benefited the group to work as a team when it came to research because we were able to pull so many ideas from each other.  When it came to writing up the lesson plan though, I would have preferred to do that on my own.  I think as teachers we can all enjoy and appreciate other people’s ideas and research, but we always have a slight spin that we would put onto something in each lesson. 

One activity that I learned in class that I will use as a teacher is webquests.  WebQuests, according to Maloy in Transforming Learning with new Technologies, are online inquiries by students—designed and guided by teachers.  This tool allows teacher to inform students how to perform research in a semi-controlled environment, use this information ethically, and synthesis it into a report.  They can be used for individual work, or better yet as a group work.  Being that most workplaces require members to work as a team it is important that we teach our students the importance of teamwork.  I found the process of creating a webquest enjoyable and is something I would like to do with my students.

Another activity that I learned in class that I will use as a teacher is creating teacher websites/ blogs.  I hope to create a website that I will update weekly that will engage the parents and students.  It should have a resource of information for parents to find, and engaging links for my students.  I would prefer to have a website of my own as an elementary teacher, and maybe a collaborative website as a middle school teacher.  There is a multitude of places that I can create a website or blog such as Blogger, Wix, Weebly, Teacherweb and more.  A blog post by McCallum lists ten reasons why a teacher should have a website.  In summary, it helps meets the needs of your students, the parents, and even helps organize yourself as a teacher and makes self-reflection easier. 

Maloy, R.W.(2011). Teaching with Educational Websites and Other Online Resources. In Transforming Learning with new Technologies (pp.153-4). Boston, MA: Pearson
McCallum, R. (2010, September 2). Ten Reasons every Teacher Should want a Web Site. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from Clean Apple:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chapter 11: Engaging Teachers and Students in Learning and Self-Reflection

Focus Question 2: How can teachers and students use digital portfolios as tools for learning?

A digital portfolio indicates who a teacher is and what that teacher knows.  It is used to display academic achievements and classroom lesson plans.  A teacher should display their teaching philosophy and other experiences on their portfolio.

It is important for a digital portfolio to be continuously updated, and past work be worked on again to show reflection and growth.  It is not simply a scrapbook of the past; it is a growing and evolving work.

A digital portfolio offers ease of access and portability, but it also becomes a disadvantage when introducing it to someone who has little digital skills (this number is becoming fewer though).

Tech Tool 11.1 TaskStream

Task Stream is a very clean and inviting website.  I think they do a poor job at introducing their purpose.  I would have no idea that they were a portfolio-building website until I got to Pricing-benefits to students.  I do not like that it costs $42 a year so I will be avoiding this tool. However, the screenshot in the book looks very clean and much like I would organize my own folders on my computer.

Digital portfolios I think are extremely important for teachers today.  I do not find the idea of creating a heavy 3-ring-binder portfolio very inviting.  It is also very easy to forget where you have things filed, and with the use of an e-portfolio could be easily searched.

Technology tools in democratic classrooms I believe that it is important to have the children feel like they have a say in what they are learning. I believe that they get more excited the more you involve them.  Doing activities like peer editing and self-evaluation allows students to become the teacher and self-reflect.

Student participation systems and clickers are wonderful tools that don’t put the student on the spot.  This tool could help an introverted student who is struggling while engaging kids that are hyper by giving them something hands on to do.  No one loses with this tool because the teacher can address all the questions that weren’t answered right in the moment and not put pressure or embracement on any of the students. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chapter 10 Promoting Success for All Students through Technology

Focus Question: What are differentiated instruction (DI) and universal design for learning (UDL)?

Differentiated instruction is an instructional approach that gives students “multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas”

Teaching with DI allows teachers to meet the specific needs of students and achieve their maximum interest.  I experienced this with an English teacher of mine who would allow writing assignments to be done in different formats such as essay, poetry, PowerPoint presentations and comparison journals.  My favorite, at the time, was writing poetry, and my final product was more impressive to my teacher and classmates because I cared about what I was doing because it was fun.

Universal design for learning is the application of universal design principles to educational settings. UDL applies recent advances in the understanding of how the brain processes information to the design of curriculum that can accommodate broad student needs.

An example of Universal Design would be a ramp that makes a building wheelchair accessible, yet at the same time it also makes the transition easier on walkers and people loading things into a building.
An example of UDL would be PowerPoint’s used for hearing impaired students can double as reinforcement for “normal” students.

Tech Tool 10.1 Extra-Large and Online Calculators
The Martin Dale Center website was extremely hard to navigate, and hardly seemed to have any organizational purpose.  Clicking through the website I was never sure where it was going to lead me to. Chinese grammar, genome of the honeybee, and Nautical Archaeology are some topics that this site led me to.
Regardless, the point of the tech tool is to point out the usefulness of over-sized calculators.  Which I agree, is a great assistive technology tool for those who are visually impaired or have motor skill problems.  I do not believe that over-sized calculators stimulate conversations about what the word calculate means.  Calculators have a practical use but should not be overused.
By CanadaPenguin on FlickrOkay so this is a hilariously large store display calculator, I don't think calculators get any bigger than this!

Differentiated instruction is important, but I also think it’s important to expose all students to multiple ways of doing things. However, I do not believe that Universal Design for Learning is necessarily a good thing. The accommodations made for students with 504’s are not automatically what is best for regular students.

Calculators are a wonderful technology.  They have allowed us to progress in unimaginable ways just like computers.  However, it is vitally important for students to grasp the manual concepts of math.  They need to be able to critically think about math and not just punch in numbers.  Calculators can be a great tool for checking your work, or speeding along upper level math.  It has no place as a frequently used tool in math.  It is a “sometimes” tool not an “always” tool.

Speech recognition software and text reading software are tools that have helped the visually impaired people of this world out tremendously.  Once again, this is a “sometimes” tool for regular students.  It should not supplement their manual writing and reading practices.  “Too much of a good thing” is absolutely true when it comes to technology and students in some cases.

I can see the advantages and disadvantages of storybooks in a classroom.  I believe the best way to use this tool would be to go over a reading section, check for comprehension, and then use a storybook to reinforce the information learned.  Teachers who use storybooks as the only source of information on any given topic are greatly putting their students at a disadvantage.

All of these tools can be utilized in any classroom, and the technology is welcomed.  As a teacher I’ll need to recognize when these tools are doing harm versus good.  I believe some teachers have crossed the line where their students become dependent on these tools where that need shouldn't be there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chapter 9 Alternative Post

One of the main purposes of this VodCast, Digital ID Project A Platform for Learning, Sharing,Remixing and Teaching Digital Citizenship, is to emphasize the use of CIPA (childrens internet protection act).  It continues to explain that a digital citizenship is established with everything that we do on the internet.  We (as adults and as young people using the internet) need to be ever aware of all the content that we put out online.  Once it's out there it's always out there.  This leads to teachers and teaching kids on ethical interment use.  One teacher comments to her students that when writing on the internet you need to say preciously what you mean because people cannot always detect your humor or sarcasm from somewhere else.  It is always extremely important to watch how much information you give and to who.  On the wiki sit Digital-ID, created by teachers for students, they have a funny yet informative video on how worms, bugs, and bots get into our computers.


The VodCast itself seemed a little too broad and didn't focus in on a point.  It was very informative in the sense that it guides you to other sources.  I did not like that they mentioned sites and then didn't link to them in their references.  It made it very difficult or impossible to find.

On the Digital-ID website I also enjoyed this video about evaluating websites. They used the acronym CAPOW (currency, authority, purpose, objectivity, and writing style) to use while evaluating a website.

As a teacher, I will have the responsibility in guiding my students to proper internet use.  This is true for elementary and middle school students (wherever I decide to go).  This VodCast led me to a wonderful website, Digital-ID, that is allowed to be remixed by teachers for their students.  It is full of information, and the videos make learning fun and humorous.

Overall, I enjoyed watching the VodCasts from and watched a couple more than the one I wrote about.  It is full of information that goes way beyond the classroom.  As a teacher it is a necessity to be on top of things and this site provides that service for free! *adds to delicious*