Monday, July 13, 2015

Blog Post #14

problem in grey, solution highlighted in green


  • Giving more school choices to families
  • Using technology to improve teaching and learning
  • Adopting knowledge based curriculum
  • Starting education before child is five years old
  • Professionalize teaching/better academic training for teachers; recruit from top third of graduates; job security not based solely on seniority

     The first change mentioned by Joel Klein is the giving of more school choices to families.  Shanker says that teachers should "abandon their support for mandatory assignment of kids to neighborhood schools in favor of 'the greatest possible choice among public schools.'" I agree that school choice could be beneficial for some students but that it may lead to competition to get students into the "best" schools, which would become a problem for families with less resources. In Public School Choice: Issues and Concerns for Urban Educators, Amy Wells Stuart lists recommendations for making school choice a process with equality including: a clear goal statement; outreach to, and information and counseling for, parent; a fair, unrestrictive, noncompetitive, and equitable admissions procedure, with particular attention paid to criteria for enrollment in the most desirable schools;   provision of adequate transportation for students.
     Next Klein says technology needs to be used to improve teaching and learning. Based on all that I have learned in EDM310, I agree that technology is a great way to maximize teaching and learning. Archived: Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students concludes that the role of a teacher is changing to that of a facilitator rather than the main source of information because of
the use of technology in the classroom. The benefits of this include increased motivation and self esteem, increased technical skills, ability to accomplish more difficult tasks, more collaboration with peers, increased use of outside resources, and improved design skills and attention to audience.
      Klein states that adopting a knowledge based system is a needed change. I agree that knowledge based teaching is important because knowledge is needed to perform required skills. Knowledge and skills go hand in hand.
     Another change that Klein mentions is starting education before a child is five years old. I believe that learning is a life long process and that formal education should be started around four years old. As the demands in the early years of education seem to have increased, gaining a solid foundation by beginning school at age four is beneficial. It is imperative though that before age four for children to be engaged in informal learning of their world around them.
     Klein says that the biggest change "would be to professionalize teaching, making it like other well-respected professions, such as law and medicine." His ideas to implement this are to provide better academic training for teachers, recruit from the top thirds of graduates, and base job security on performance rather that solely on seniority. I agree that teaching needs to be a profession that is held to high standards and respected for what is expected to do, which is to produce educated people who will be the leaders, inventors, and workforce of the next generation. 
     There are many changes that could make the education system better for students and teachers. However, as teachers it is our obligation to make sure the children in our care receive the best education possible, whether or not these changes ever occur. Effective teaching must be thought of as more than just a "job." It must become our passion.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Final Part of Blog Post #5

people in PLN
     Although I am still mainly using Twitter for my PLN, it is continually growing. I am now following close to 70 people, most of which are affiliated with the field of Education. I already enjoy reading quotes and articles that will help me as I prepare for my own classroom in the future. I was invited by Barbara Gruener to a #nt2t (New Teachers to Twitter) chat, which unfortunately I was not able to participate in.  I have also begun to use Pinterest to further my PLN as a way to generate ideas for lessons and projects. I can see the benefits of a good PLN and plan on adding to mine and growing it as I progress through this journey of becoming a teacher. I hope to one day be a contributor to the PLN of others one day.


visual of leadership
     In her post What are the Best Ways a Teacher Can Demonstrate Leadership in the Classroom? Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano discusses four component of leadership in the classroom: model, experience, share, and trust. Google defines leadership as the act of leading a group of people or an organization. Although there are many quotes and images about the concept of leadership, she says it is best described as a "Leadership Flow" rather that one best way or another. A leader models the behaviors they desire from their students. A leader also gives plenty of opportunity to experience learning. Sharing the students learning is an important role of a leader.  And finally, trust between the teacher and student is what makes the leadership effective.
     My comment: I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I love your illustration and description of leadership in the classroom. Students naturally follow by example. As teachers, students need to be able to follow us as examples as to what is expected of them. Our example of learning should inspire them to further their own learning.

Anne Frank Museum
      In her post Reflections about Anne Frank and Making Blogging Connections, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano recalls her recent visit to the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam. She has been writing in a diary for 30 years since she was inspired to do so after reading The Dairy of Anne Frank. She says that "in some shape or from, Anne Frank's dairy put me on the path so many years ago to journaling and decades later to blogging and documenting for learning." She relates Anne Frank's diary entries to blogging, snapchatting, or instagramming.
     My comment: I also read "The Diary of Anne Frank" as a young girl. I love your connections of her diary entries to our modern day social media. I have not really though of it this way before, but social media can  be used as a way to document our lives from our own points of view, for others to read long after we may be gone, to know who we were and what we stood for and believed in, just as Anne Frank's diary has done.
In some shape or form, Anne Frank’s diary put me on the path so many years ago to journaling and decades later to blogging and documenting for learning.

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A leader in the classroom is always working on establishing and strengthening trust as an integral component of that leadership flow. Trust is the component that “lubricates” the movement of the flow.

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A leader in the classroom gives students the opportunities to experience the learning.

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A leader in the classroom gives students the opportunities to experience the learning.

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A leader in the classroom gives students the opportunities to experience the learning.

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Blog Post #13

What did I leave out?

How can the design of a classroom help or hinder learning?

Read Tom Murray's Six Keys to a Classroom Makeover. At the bottom of the article, there are several links to resources on classroom design. Choose two of these and write a summary of each (three total summaries).

old fashioned and modern classrooms

Summary #1 Six Keys to a Classroom Makeover

Tom Murray was involved in a webinar with Erin Klein, AJ Juliani, and Ben Gilpin. Their main discussion was on the research of designing a brain friendly learning environment. Their conversation produced six main points.
1) Student Voice is Paramount in the Design Process: The classroom should not be focused solely on the teacher. Ask students how they would like to see the classroom designed. Student voice matters. It gives them ownership of the space.
2) Make Comfort and Flexibility Priorities: A high school superintendent chose to go through the day of a student for two days. He quickly realized that one main distraction was his comfort. It was uncomfortable to sit in a hard chair at a metal desk for 52 minutes at a time for seven hours a day. Considering the students comfort when designing the classroom is beneficial to their learning. Classrooms also need to be flexible to allow for movement and student collaboration.
3)  Declutter the Space: Klein says "it’s important to decipher what’s learning information and what’s decoration.” It is important to display information that is relevant to the current study, but many time teachers feel the need to cover every inch of wall space with something. Having too much on the walls is overstimulating and becomes a distraction to students learning.
4) Redesign Doesn't Have to be Costly: "Think creative, not costly." Redesigning (or in our case, designing) a classroom can be done in a cost effective way. A little bit of paint, and a few good finds at yards sales or from family and friends who are cleaning out can go a long way in the classroom.
5) Consider Color, Gender, and Lighting in the Design Process: Colors should be warm and calming and appropriate for both genders. Natural lighting should be used as often as is possible.
6) It's More Than Your Four Walls: Gilpin says that design should be considered throughout the school building, starting at the front door. A well designed school and classrooms will enhance student learning.

Summary #2 3 Classroom Design Tips that Make a Big Impact

Erin Klein says to minimize patterns and choose colors carefully, bring in nature to create a comfortable space, and provide flexible seating arrangements. At the beginning of the school year, her classroom may not look as though she is ready to welcome a new set of students. She purposely leaves some details to be decided and designed by the students. This gives them a voice in their classroom, and they take pride in their contributions to the design. Colors and decorative designs for the classroom are important. Simple patterns are better than busy patterns that can be distracting to students. " Keeping distractions to a minimum is key — especially when displaying content for bulletin boards." Using plants throughout the room is a great way to bring nature. When conditions do not allow for live plants, artificial plants can be used. Klein says that students begin to wiggle, rock in their seat, and even fall out of their chairs due to them being uncomfortable sitting there for so many hours a day.  She created more comfortable seating and maximized space in the classroom for students to collaborate easily.

Summary #3 Are Teachers Distracting Students With Bad Interior Design?

A study "on classroom design from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University suggests that all that educational flair may not be all that great for getting kids to learn." Six new lessons were taught to 24 kindergarteners over a two week period. " Half the lessons were taught in a highly decorated classroom environment, with posters and art all over the walls, and the other half were taught in a classroom with no decoration." Students tested better in the classroom with no decorations. Students in the highly decorated classroom spent more time off task. Many times the items displayed on walls in the classroom do not match the current lesson which can be distracting to students. Researchers are not suggesting a classroom with absolutely no decorations, but rather for teachers to carefully consider their design to enhance student learning and not distract from it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Blog Post #11

     In Brian Crosby's video Back to the Future, he began by explaining the dynamics of the types of students usually in his class. He showed survey results that revealed to him that his students were disconnected due their lack of authentic experiences. So he created those authentic experiences for them in his classroom. He told of several projects that the class had done and how excited the students were about the work they were doing. He made a list to show how his projects were language intense because the students had to read, write, and articulate orally as part of these projects. He says that this type of learning does not just teach students how to be taught. The collaborating, connecting, empowering, and motivating aspects of PBL make the possibilities for students learning practically endless. He quotes David Cohen saying that all students deserve the opportunity to be taught with meaningful and motivational context which leads to deeper knowledge and enrichment of skills throughout the learning instead of saving that type of learning until after the basics are taught.

explanation of acronym quivers
      In Blended Learning Cycle, Paul Andersen explains blended learning which is comprised of online, mobile, and classroom learning. He then explains the learning cycle which includes the five E's, engage, explore, explain, expand, and evaluate. He put these two together to produce the blended learning cycle. He uses the acronym QUIVERS, which stands for question, investigation/inquiry, video, elaboration, review, and summary quiz, in his class. He describes each component in detail and how he uses it in his class. Paul says that the review part of QUIVERS is the most important to him because he asks the students probing questions, and this gives the students opportunity to explain what they have learned which shows true comprehension of knowledge.

cover of Making Thinking Visible
 Mark Church demonstrates how to use the "headline" routine in the video Making Thinking Visible. Students are asked to discuss with their small groups and come up with a headline that describes what they will be learning.  He will use those headlines on a display or bulletin board. Then at the end of the unit, they will make a new headline and compare how their thinking has changed.

spider man comic strip

     In the video Sam Pane 4th Grade, Sam Pane lead a lesson about internet safety. They discussed safety, responsibility, and respectfully. The students then designed a super digital citizen and used that and pictures of themselves to create a comic. In their comic, their digital superhero used their powers to save the day when someone was found not being responsible, safe, or respectful on the internet. This project involved writing and language arts skills as they learned about internet safety. The class did a gallery walk where students had the opportunity to read the comics created by their classmates. This project was a great way to apply real world experience to the students' learning in the classroom.

linked PBL skills

      The video Project Based Learning is about a Canadian school that no longer teaches English, History, and Information Processing as segregated subjects. They use project based learning to engage students and provide a way for deeper understanding. They began by doing projects individually with their own classes. The teachers knew that it was good, but it could be better.  They had it approved to combine these three classes and restructure their class time.  This allowed for more in depth study as the classes were not limited to one hour with the restructure. The students now have time to go further in their learning.

pbl wordle
 Roosevelt Elementary's PBL Program is a video that explains in depth what in involved in project based learning. PBL is in depth learning, uses integrated thematic instruction, is based on a real world problem, is research based, and produces projects and presentations. Teachers get students used to public speaking at an early age by presenting their projects. Students also learn how to work together, which is skill that adults use daily in the workplace. PBL allows for student choice, so students have a sense of ownership of their work. Because students learn in different ways, PBL is a excellent means to incorporate differentiation in the classroom. It is beneficial for multiple intelligences and learning styles. Students are engaged by PBL and have an opportunity to question the world around them.

C4Ta #3

blog title with pictures of books
     In her blog Learning Out Loud, Jennifer Brokofsky tells in her post Authentic Learning-Connecting Literacy to Mathematics that she came away with one word, authentic, when ending three days of listening to and learning from Debbie Miler, Patrick Allen, and Penny Kittle. "For these great teachers- Debbie, Patrick, and Penny authentic is about providing students with opportunities to engage in reading and writing in ways that are meaningful, interesting, and relevant to students as individuals." Authentic teaching is more about relationships with students than filling time with activities and worksheets. She questions whether authentic teaching can be used in mathematics. Jennifer concludes that yes, it is possible. Students need to think mathematically instead of just doing the math on the page. Jennifer says that all  "are capable of becoming mathematicians and deserve the time to dig into authentic mathematical experiences."
     My comment: I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I love the word authentic when it comes to teaching. If it is not authentic, then we are just teaching a worksheet or test, which is not always engaging for students. I agree that every child can learn and deserves authentic experiences in the classroom.

deck of cards
     The post If You Give a Kid Some Cards They Will...#PlayMath is about using card games to improve math skills. Jennifer Brokofsky give instructions (which can be read if you click the blog link) for how to play her children's three favorite games, Chase the Ace, Sticks, and Uno. She also shared two links to more games and resources. Games to Play With a Deck of Cards has several wonderful games that allow students to practice various math skills such a place value, addition, or multiplication. Acing Math "is a supply of unique and interesting card games to use in math class that will help make math fun for students." This resource has games for everything from greater than/less than to fractions to decimals, and much, much more.
     My comment: I am also from a card playing family. When all of my extended family were together when I was a kid, the adults would be playing their card games at the kitchen table, and the kids would always have a card game going on in the living room. As the kids have all gotten older, we all play together and are now teaching our own kids how to play. Just the words "playing cards" makes math more enjoyable for kids than constantly reciting math facts or doing worksheets. It will also increase their thinking skills as they practice different strategies for these games. I will definitely be trying some of the card games you mentioned and some that were in your additional resources with my own kids, and I'm excited to use them in my classroom one day!

Project #12B

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Special Blog Post Assignment

picture of Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs

The iPad Learning Studio

The iPad Learning Studio was of particular interest to me because the description "examines specific uses, practices and links for each subject area to be used by educators" tells me that this is a resource that I need and will use. The slides are broken into subjects including science, history, reading, language learners, photography, and math. Each section has an explanation of how to use the iPad for this subject, what's needed, several slides describing the many uses of the iPad for that subject, and a list of links to the resources mentioned in the slides. As a new teacher, this will be especially helpful to me as I incorporate technology in my classroom.

Science 360 Video

I was interested in the Science 360 Videos  website because I think the use of videos in science will be very beneficial to show a concept that is being discussed. The videos are divided into topics and series. There is also a search bar to search for a specific materials. This website will be valuable especially for situations when an experiment cannot be performed in class. Also the videos are embeddable, so students can use them in their projects.


Because reading and writing are essential skills for life, I was excited about Storybird. This is a safe website where you can write stories based on the pictures that have been provided. You can also read stories written by other authors and leave comments for your favorite authors. I would use this in my classroom as an activity to improve writing and reading skills.

Mission US

 Mission US was intriguing to me because history was the hardest subject for me in school, and I would have loved to have a resource that would have allowed me to learn history through games. This website is designed for middle and high school students, so as an elementary major, I would not be able to use this in my classroom. But I think that it is such a great tool that I wanted to include it in my list. It also has a link for teachers with mission guides for each of the four current missions that students can engage in.

In EDM310 we used Rubistar to help us develop our first rubric. There are many templates to use to create rubrics for different topics. Rubrics can be saved and used later. You can also search for rubrics by title, author, or keywords. As a teacher, rubrics will be used often to assess students' work in project based learning.


The idea behind Socrative that teachers can engage students while they are being assessed was interesting to me. Real time questions assessed on tablets, laptops, or smartphones gives teachers immediate feedback about the level of understanding of the class. In my classroom, I will need valid assessments that will show me where my students strengths and weaknesses are.