Sunday, February 24, 2013

Project #10 - Finding The Right Tools

math toolsFinding The Right Tools
In my search for tools that will help me as I prepare to teach high school math, I came across several valuable resources.

Math Curriculum Makeover
First I came across a video by Dan Meyer, called My TEDxNYED Session — Math Curriculum Makeover. Dan Meyer proposes that math teachers rethink how math problems are presented. He gives examples of how the information in textbooks is provided in a way that takes the creative thinking away from the students. On his blog, he has a great archive of information and connections. I feel Mr. Meyer is a great addition to my PLN because his main interests are "curriculum design (answering the question, "how we design the ideal learning experience for students?") and teacher education (answering the questions, "how do teachers learn?" and "how do we retain more teachers?" and "how do we teach teachers to teach?")." Mr. Meyer is someone I will follow because his post will constantly challenge me to analyze the curriculum from which I am teaching and to discover knew and innovative ways to teach math.

Teaching Math with Technology
Another sight I discovered is Sue Glascoe has created this sight because she believes in "taking math education into the 21st century, and bringing my students and visionary teachers along for the ride!" I think I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ms. Glascoe is constantly trying out and posting about the newest technologies that are available for math education. One post contains information on using iPads in a flipped math classroom. This website also introduced me to tools such as the new wi-fi Livescribe smartpen called SKY, the Doceri 2.0 with Mobi 360 w/clickers, and TI-Nspire CX. I was fascinated by these devices and how they are being used to combine math and technology. This site contains great step by step instructions and visual illustrations of how students and teachers can use these tools. The tool I was most impressed with that I think I would enjoy using in my classroom is the TI calculator with the navigation system(TI-Nspire CX). There are 2 main features for which Ms. Glascoe uses this system and that is to grab screen shots of the student's calculators and to be able to poll the students using their calculators. With this information she can check to see who is doing their work, how well they are performing, and whether or not they are paying attention. Ms. Glascoe likes that she can set up questions where students can show steps, and she can show multiple pieces of information in the question, like the question and a graph. It will be a few years before I have my own classroom, but until then, I will be following Sue Glascoe, because she is always trying the latest innovations and giving the pros and cons of their performance within a classroom.

The Math Forum @ Drexel
The Math Forum @ Drexel: High School Teachers' Place is a great resource for classroom and career development. For the classroom, you will find answers from other teachers addressing common questions about solving math problems, lesson plans, project ideas, and suggested math software. Then there is a section giving tips for improving your career. It suggests professional development options, recommends online certification programs, and provides information on professional math organizations. This is a great tool as I embark upon my career because I will have examples of how to develop my own lesson plans and I will have a list of contacts that will be able to answer questions I may have about teaching math. It provides these resources for every grade level, from Pre-Kindergarten through High School. I recommend this website for new and future math teachers.

C4T#2 Assignment

C4T#2 rolling over individual blogs
Dorothy Burt is the eLearning/Manaiakalani Team Leader for Pt. England School. Her blogs and those of her students are posted on I encourage you to check it out. It gives great insight into how blogs are used and what the benefits are for the children.
In her most current post,Rolling Over Individual Blogs, Dorothy responds to a question she was asked by a fellow teacher, "Why go to all this effort managing the individual student blogs?". In her response she talks about how this helps the students to establish an ePortfolio, how it allows the teacher to monitor the blogs through a Teacher Dashboard, and how it gives them the ability to provide online supervision of minors. She also gives step by step instructions of how to transition individual student blogs from one teacher to the next. What a great way to connect students and teachers and to show students that learning is a building process; a continuation from one year to the next.
I commented on Ms. Burt's post by stating that I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. I informed her that as an assignment for this class, I was to summarize my visits to her blog with a post on my personal blog and that it would be shared on our class blog. I told her the information she shared in her blogs was not only important to me as a future teacher but was also useful to me as a parent. I felt that her comments eliminate a lot of the fears people have about how the students will be supervised and held accountable for what they are doing online. There was one comment that really got my attention and that is "the teachers take delight in supporting the children build their record of learning." First, I love the idea that each student has an ePortfolio that will continue with them year to year. Second, I like the idea of seeing more students and teachers taking delight in education. I told her that hopefully, as the schools in Alabama transition into this new age of technology, teachers and students will find that their passion for learning will be reignited. I thanked her for the step by step instructions on how to do a Blog Rollover.

images of children at ptengland schoolIf you've ever wondered what students think about using technology and whether or not it is a distraction or an enhancement, then you need to read Dorothy Burt's compilation of over 200 students between the ages of 9 and 13 who posted to their individual blogs a reflection on their year of using a digital device as their main learning tool. Students reflect on 1:1 in 2012 Part 1 is an overview of how the blogs were compiled and a summary of what was written. Students reflect on 1:1 in 2012 Part 2 consists of excerpts taken from the actual blogs of the students. This was the most interesting because Ms. Burt divided the comments into topics, such as, "In praise of the device", "rejecting the old world", "More praise for 1:1 learning", "writing", "spelling", "maths", "Whanau engagement - parents and home", just to name a few. Obviously, this is a very long blog since it had to be divided into two parts, but it is well worth the read to understand how technology is working to engage students and create an excitement for learning. I thought the best section was on teacher appreciation. Yes, that's right, student's actually appreciating their teachers. What a great thing!
Once again, I commented by telling Ms. Burt my name and my purpose. I stated that I have enjoyed reading through her posts but I especially loved hearing from all of the students. I briefly explained how many of our local schools have recently assigned students a laptop and how there are still many who question "why?". I stated that the next time I am faced with that question, I will have better answers thanks to the information she has provided. I would also be sharing the link to her blog posts with others who want to read more details. I thanked her for compiling segments from her students' blogs because their voices need to be heard.

Blog Post #6

Wendy Drexler: The Networked Student
networked studentThe amount of information and the amount of resources that are available today are limitless. Students can learn pretty much anything they want to know by looking it up on the internet as shown to us in The Networked Student. They can even access the best teachers at the best universities. So Wendy Drexler poses a very relevant question by asking, "Why does the networked student even need a teacher?"
I think the answer is the connection. In the video, the comment is made that "the tools themselves are not as important as the network connections made possible through them". Students will make many connections throughout their educational journey, but I think the connection that is most important in education is that between the teacher and the student. Teachers need to build relationships with their students. Teachers need to be a role model, a mentor, a navigator, a discerner, and a validator. Students will need someone to teach them how to build and organize the network. There will be times when students will encounter road blocks and someone will need to guide them in a new direction that will branch out into learning opportunities. Teachers must also make sure students understand how to continue to build upon the network they've created and how it will be a resource that will carry forward into their future career. Wendy has another post called Teach Web: Pulling it all together in #PLEK12 and it includes a few suggestions about helping students with organization and with staying connected. In this blog she also shares a link to symbalooEDU and it is AWESOME! If you go through the link in her blog you will see a great collection of resources and how they are organized. She also recommends NetVibes and Google Reader as other tools that are great for organizing web content.
Another important connection students will make from participating in a classroom environment is that of a community. Students need to not only have the network connections, but they need personal interaction as well. They need to know how to establish peer relationships and work together at problem solving and project collaboration. Helen King, who teaches at the Pt England School, talks about the "Learn Create Share" pedagogy that the Manaiakalani schools have developed and how her students have become like a "family". In the video, Helen King on Creativity, Ms. King tells how she was surprised by the way the values and the personality of the classroom changed as the students interacted more with one another. The students are looking for ways to be more creative, to share, and to help one another. Peer connections and team building skills are valuable tools for all students to have in their network portfolio.

A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment (or PLN)
There is no comparison between this 7th grader's PLE and mine. Hers definitely blows mine away. I came across the symbalooEDU tool earlier when I was reading some of Wendy Drexler's other blogs. At the time, I did not realize the second part of our blog assignment was to watch a video of how it could be used by students. I have now signed into symbalooEDU and am in the process of creating my own Webmix with sites that I have bookmarked from previous assignments. I love the ease of having all of my resources and tools located on one organizational website that is easy to navigate. Before long, I will have a most amazing PLE!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Blog Post #5

If I Built A School
picture of Krissy VenosdaleKrissy Venosdale,, has written, in my opinion, one of the best descriptions of what schools should be like. She is a GiftedEd teacher of grades 3-6 in Hillsboro, Missouri and clearly has a passion for creating an excitement for learning. In her post, she talks about getting a huge donation to build the school of her dreams and, WOW, what an amazing school it would be. She describes it as a school where, "Constructivism, Inquiry, Project Based Learning, and Passion would be the vehicles and students would be driving." She talks about a school where the community is involved and where everyone feels welcomed. Learning would be celebrated as the greatest achievement. If you toured this school you would see a tree house, a coffee house, a science lab, an art studio, and a huge aquarium. You would see exploration being encouraged, creativity being celebrated, collaboration being supported, and technology being embraced. What a wonderful school this would be! I would definitely be the first in line to apply for a position at that school.
This is not the first time I have pondered what it would be like if schools took this type of approach to learning. I had an opportunity to do some observation at the Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education in Fairhope, Alabama, and although it was not the perfect example, the foundation of learning at this school is very similar to Krissy Venosdale's vision. The philosophy behind this school is one of progressive learning which has been around since 1907. This is a school that doesn't believe in a graded class structure, instead they place children according to their level of learning; according to "a child's learning style and pattern of growth". They are a very small school, so they are limited in what they can offer, but they provide an atmosphere where children can explore their natural abilities. They offer pottery classes and folk dance. They have the flexibility to go to the bay to explore marine biology and environmental issues. I had the opportunity on one day to assist children as they worked in a garden. When I left that day, all I could think about was what a wonderful way to teach children; offer activities that give them hands on experience. That's how I wish I could teach my students. I want them to see it, touch it, and work at it so they have a sense of accomplishment. Instead of talking about the life cycle of a plant, let them plant a garden. Instead of telling them about other cultures, let them connect with people all over the world through the use of technology. I would also like to help the children think of ways they can take what they learn and help improve their community. I want to teach them skills that are not only life changing but can help change lives. I think that teaching should not be limited to the four walls of a classroom, I think children should be able to experience the world beyond those walls.
Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
This is a great example of how the internet can accomplish a task that otherwise would be impossible. It shows how technology can connect people from all walks of life to create something truly amazing. Bravo!
Teaching In The 21st Century Teaching In The 21st Century, by Kevin Roberts, provides great insight into the changes that are taking place in education. I love the phrase in the video that says students aren't to be entertained but they are to be engaged. And how will we engage our students? Kevin Roberts is right when he says we have to be relevant and discover ways to teach students how to use the technology that is available, how to gather information, and how to decipher and apply that information in all the core subjects we are responsible for teaching. It is something I will have to research and to which I will have to give great thought. How will I teach high school math in the 21st century? Will I lecture or will my classroom be interactive? What kind of e-portfolios will my students build? How will we incorporate blogs and podcasts into our math lessons? What resources and tools are available, how do we find them, and how are we going to use them? These are definitely things I need to be asking if I'm going to have students who are engaged.
The Flipped Classroom
I'm loving this idea. I especially found Katie Gimbar's videos to be of great interest since I'm planning to be a math teacher. This has been saved to my folder of great resources for my future classroom. I think this style is not only useful for the students but it also gives parents access to the content and keeps them informed of their child's progress. As a teacher, I like the idea of less lecturing and more interacting. I think the flipped classroom sounds like a very engaging concept.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blog Post #4

Langwitches - Podcasting with 1st Grade
What a great way to become interactive with a story!  I love the perspective of having the children pretend they were interviewing the actual characters from the book.  I was very impressed with the questions the children came up with and how well each of them spoke.  I thought their enthusiasm and excitement was precious.  I love any idea that gets a child excited about reading but that's not all it did.  They recorded their voices as they were doing the interviews with Garageband.  It helped engaged children who are normally shy by allowing them opportunities to be heard but not seen. The teacher stated that there was a drastic improvement in confidence levels and voice expressions.  With this one activity the teacher addressed many skills;  listening, speaking, presenting, comprehension, storytelling, performance, voice acting, oral fluency, media and technology.  Any activity that can address this many skills has to be a valuable resource for teachers.

My PhotoThe Benefits of Podcasting in the Classroom by Joe Dale
Great clip about the benefits of podcasting in a classroom.  I especially like the fact that it will keep students informed and up to date on their work if they are absent.  It connects parents with what their children are doing in the classroom.  Most of all, I like that it encourages creativity and innovation.  I also found the information to be valuable as we begin our group podcast assignment.  The links he included,Podcasting using Garageband and How to Podcast, are great tools for getting started with our podcast.

Curriki - Podcast Collection
Thank you, Judy Scharf, for organizing this wealth of information so beautifully.  After reading her collection, I felt I truly understood what is meant by the term podcast.  I have a better understanding of not only how to do a podcast but how I would teach a lesson on podcasting.  I feel like I found the golden ticket.  I love, love, love when information is detailed, yet simple and easy to follow.  This link is definitely one to bookmark;

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Project #3 C4T #1

Post #1
I was assigned the Cooperative Catalyst website as part of my C4T#1 assignment. I found an instructor by the name of Chad Sansing, a Humanities teacher at Henley Middle School in Virginia, and read his post titled "The classroom should be the place where the train stopped in the woods." He tells of his love of riding a train because he doesn't have to drive and he can work, sleep, and just sit uninterrupted for hours. In this particular post, he tells of how the train he was on pulled to a stop somewhere in the woods of northeast Virginia. As he looked out his window at the woods covered in snow, he began to think of how he saw one view and the person in front of him saw something different and so forth. At that moment he was reminded that this is how our journey through education should be; "we should build classrooms and communities in which we can all observe, discover, and own something uniquely ours that comes into being only because we have chosen to travel together, to learn together, and to share together."

I told Mr. Sansing of my train experience and how I wish I could enjoy more scenes like the one he described in his post. I found his comments about education very thought provoking and agreed that we should take more detours from the routine of teaching and testing and give students more opportunities to discovery new territory.

Post #2
Chad Sansing's most current post is titled #dlday 2013: a year into democratizing composition.  It gives a great illustration of how his students are challenged and how he approaches teaching his students.  He states that the best part of digital learning day is that it gives him the chance to assess himself against his students' potentials.  I highly recommend reading it because it poses many interesting questions, such as, "am I really helping all of my kids find themselves in their learning?" and "is my classroom open?  Am I?"  but I couldn't help going back to a previous post titled, when they came for us they came with standards, with the following link, I chose to summarize this one because I agree with it so strongly.  This is one all teachers should read.  In this post, Mr. Sansing says that too often our question as educators is "Why isn't this student learning the way we want him to?" and instead shouldn't we be asking "How does this human, individual student best learn according to biology and affinity?"  He makes great points about how our current methods of teaching are focused on test results instead of the needs of each student.  He also points out that we as educators are restrained by the standards of the system, pointing out how we need standards that support alternate forms of teaching that cater to individual learning instead of commanding what and how we teach.  He invites "everyone - teachers, students, and parents alike - who is, on the whole, dissatisfied with how our schools work - to take just one step forward toward a more open, just, and joyful classroom."  To find out more about making a change toward open classrooms and less standardized testing, Mr. Sansing shared #openschools, with the following link,

The reply I posted agreed with what Mr. Sansing had written.  I told him that as a future educator, I hope to make a change.  I hope to see the needs of each student in my class and create an environment where they can discover their true potential.  I thanked him for the invite and the challenge to create an open, passion-driven classroom.  I am taking the challenge and discovering more about what I can do as a parent and teacher to reduce the standards and increase the joys of learning.

Special Blog Post #1

Wolfram Alpha Search
My first search requirement was to compare the populations of India, China and the United States. The results of this search stated that India has a population of 1.21 billion, China has a population of 1.35 billion, and the United States has a population of 309 million. Wow, that's a lot of people in India and China and the rate of increase in those two countries since 1950 was quite surprising as well. So naturally, I was curious about the actual size of each country. Therefore, my next search was to compare the geographic properties of India, China and the United States. The results of this search stated that India's total area is 1.269 million square miles, China's total area is 3.705 million square miles, and the United States total area is 3.719 million square miles. That's 1058 people per square mile in India. My interpretation of this data is that India is overpopulated and this should be a concern for this country considering the high rate at which their population is increasing every year.
Finally, I wanted to see an overall comparison of all three countries. I found the most interesting information to be in the last category at the bottom of the page; the UN Human Development Index. The Human Development Index is a tool the United Nations uses to rank a country's level of social and economic development. I found the education rankings to be of great interest following the information given in Did You Know? The United States had a world rank of 5th, while China was 115th and India was 146th. Does this mean we have the greatest number of students? No, according to the total number of students being educated, India ranks 1st with 251.3 million, China 2nd with 233.3 million, and the United States 3rd with 67.62 million. So does this mean the United States does not put enough emphasis on education? No, you have to look at the percentages. When you take the total number of students and consider the total population, the United States has a student population of 22.24%, while India has 21.4% and China has 17.52%. The United States also spends the highest of GDP on public education. So rest assured, the United States is not falling behind in education.

How can Wolfram Alpha be useful?
There is no short answer to this question. If you go to their blog page, it has a variety of posts analyzing sports, math, Facebook and machines. They claim to have an app for every course which will give you the assistance needed to "gain a competitive advantage." They also have a Wolfram Educational Portal which they say is great for teachers and students. I plan to check that post out in more detail. The amount of data they have compiled seems to be unlimited. They cover a huge variety of subjects. When you are on the page which shows the results of your search, if you look across the top, there is a tab that says examples. This gives you a list of all the topics they cover. I think it is a great research tool and it will also be a great mathematical resource as I continue my studies in Secondary Education Mathematics.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count
I found the social media count very fascinating.  However, I did not need to view this sight to discover that the up and coming generations are on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and their phones every chance they get.  I have a teenage daughter who probably makes up a large percentage of the numbers you see in the attached picture except she she should have been in class at the time I snipped this and wouldn't be looking at Facebook or any of the other things listed, right?  Well, I know better because she sent me a text once while she was eating lunch.  She also sent pictures from her phone when the Senior Bowl players visited her school.
So what does all this mean for future educators?  For me personally, as a teacher, I think it's important to know your students.  You want to know their interests and be able to connect with them on their level.  This information tells me that we are dealing with a generation that is hooked to the social media.  Whether you think it's great or not, that's how it is and if I, as a teacher, want to have my students engaged in my classroom, I need to find a way to incorporate technology into my lessons.  I feel I'm being redundant because I'm always saying the things we are learning in EDM310 are the things we will be using in our future classrooms.  I already see them being used by my son's high school history teacher, who just happens to be one of Dr. Strange's former students.  My son says that this is his favorite teacher.  Would you have ever said that about any of your history teachers?  Not me.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he has designed the course around the things in which the kids are most interested?  You may be thinking EDM310 is just a bunch of frivolous work but you are being equipped with the tools you will need to be a future teacher.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blog Post #3

Peer Editing
Peer editing is probably one of the most difficult things for me.  I always feel like I'm being a "Picky Patty" or a "Know It All Nancy".  Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes was a very entertaining and effective way to show the many mistakes made by those not only doing the editing but also by those who are receiving the advice.  The tutorial on peer editing was also great.  I love the way they simplified editing into 3 steps; compliments, suggestions, and corrections.  I believe all of the information will be very helpful not only as a tool for peer editing but also as a tool for examining my own writings.  Did I make good word choices?  Did I use details and write complete sentences?  Did I use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation?  I hope that I would catch all of these things myself, but if not, please do not hesitate to be a "Helpful Heloise" and offer hints on how to improve my writing skills.
I also gave a lot of thought as to how I would offer suggestions to my peers about their blogs.  I thought about how I would want someone to offer me their suggestions.  I think if I had a small number of errors that were minor in nature, like I didn't notice the word to should have been too, then I wouldn't mind having those pointed out publicly in a reply to my post.  However, if the mistakes are numerous and things that require a great amount of correction, then I might would prefer those pointed out in a private email.  I think with every situation you have to use your best judgement.  That's why it's good to have the option of offering suggestions publicly or privately.

Assistive Technologies
Wow!  As a future math teacher, I found the Teaching Math to the Blind video most interesting.  I have never considered what it would be like to try to teach basic math concepts to someone who is visually impaired.  The AutoMathic blocks were amazing.  I also thought the Mountbatten was pretty incredible too.  I immediately wondered if any of our local schools had access to this technology?  Will I have access to this technology, if needed?
As a future math teacher, I honestly don't know how I would teach basic concepts to someone who is visually impaired if I did not have access to some type of technology.  You have to be able to take what they feel and hear and turn it into something they can visualize and organize.  If I needed to acquire an AutoMathic or something of that nature for my classroom, I would begin by writing a grant request to local organizations whose purpose is to raise money to support additional needs within the schools.
I think Apple has designed wonderful programs for impaired people.  I have a nephew who has Down Syndrome and has difficulty speaking.  My sister-in-law installed an app on his iPad to enable him to communicate with others.  These programs not only meet physical needs, they offer students so much more.  There are three phrases from the first video, Assistive Technologies for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children, that I believe are the foundation of why we become educators; to "remove barriers", "push boundaries", and "give hope".

Vicki Davis: Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts
When this video began, I automatically recognized Vicki Davis as the "Cool Cat Teacher" from the Pinterest assignment.  I am following her on Pinterest and Twitter.  She has wonderful ideas for empowering students and designing a classroom that is outside the box.  I have bookmarked the edutopia website for quick access as I plan to return there to browse the site by grade level.  I also want to explore the Digital Generation Project.  I love that she turns her classroom over to the children to give them the opportunity to teach.  I'm not one that likes to be upfront the whole time either and I look forward to searching her site for ways to incorporate that type of learning into a math class.
This is the future of the classroom.  As the state of Alabama continues to move toward the Digital Renaissance, we will see high school classrooms that mirror the same style of teaching and learning that is demonstrated in the video.  All students will eventually have laptops.  The technology will be available but will we be ready to use it, to teach it, and to empower with it?