Sunday, April 28, 2013

Final Group Project #16

PLN Final Report

Personal Learning Network, I think this has been my weakest link so far in this course. I know building my PLN is very important and it is an ongoing process, but I have not succeeded the way that I probably should have. As far as connecting with teachers across the broad spectrum I have made a few contacts through Twitter. I would have to say I have mostly focused on the lessons that the people have taught me versus connecting with them. My network is still relatively small, however out of the ones I have in my PLN I would have to say I enjoyed Krissy Venosdale's thoughts and blog posts the most. Her blog title is Venspired and that is a great title. Her tweets and re-tweets have triggered thoughts about what it really means to be an educator. I also have started using Symbaloo as my home page. Symbaloo allows me to stay connected to the vital parts of my PLN with ease. I like the versatility of creating your own icons for sites that may not have one already. My PLN will continue to grow and I look forward to adding to it in the future, and possibly one day when I am a teacher, EDM 310 students will add me to their PLN.

Last C4T

The Masters Golf Tournament

Dr. John Strange's Strange Thoughts

My first comment of C4T #4 was a post by Dr. Strange about The Masters golf tournament that takes place in Augusta, Georgia each year. This is the premiere tournament in the golfing world and the winner takes home a hefty monetary prize and the coveted Green Jacket of the Augusta National Golf Club. This would be, in many golfers eyes, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, or the World Series of golf. With such high stakes and prestige one would think the rules wouldn't have to be reviewed for PGA Tour veteran, Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods has understood the rules of golf since he was probably five years old. A situation arose during the 2nd round of The Masters tournament when Woods made an illegal drop. At the end of each round of the tournament the player has to sign off on his scorecard. After the fact, rules officials assessed Woods a 2 stroke penalty for the error. In the game of golf there are some unwritten rules that are followed and since it is coined a "gentlemen's game" many veterans frowned on the situation stating that Woods should have disqualified himself from the tournament for his infraction. All of that to say, that sometimes we don't always own up to our mistakes. Many times we try to hide them or play "dumb" to the rules. In education integrity is foremost in the teaching of our children. Students deserve teachers that have the utmost respect for their education to always do the right thing.

My 2nd post for our final C4T was on an older post by Dr. Strange from earlier in the semester. This post was important in the fact that it taught me of how NOT to handle myself as a person, professional and as an educator. Dr. Strange referenced a comment that a university student made on a blog of a child. As an assignment the students of EDM 310 make comments on elementary, middle, and high school student's blogs. The university student embarrassed themselves and the school by commenting in a very rude manor. One of the aspects of the assignment is to lift up others and encourage them, not break them down. In my comment to Dr. Strange, I interjected that obviously this student was not ready to become an educator. I also commented how I have had many takeaways from this class and how it has taught me about many aspects of life. I appreciate Dr. Strange's commitment to education. I am fortunate to have taken this class at the University of South Alabama.

Blog Post #14

CourseSmart E-Textbooks

Very interesting article, but the comments on the article are even more interesting. In an age where technology is controlling many of our daily tasks, the CourseSmart program tracks usage of its e-textbooks. Pilot-schools have begun to respond to the mass of information that the program provides on the students enrolled using these e-texts. Professors do not understand why or how some students have low engagement scores but have high quiz and test scores in the class. The idea that the article poses is how valuable are programs like this one that tracks students usage and are they accurate. The digital age has opened up a realm of learning that is new and uncharted in a lot of areas and universities and colleges are taking advantage of this technology. The monitoring software from CourseSmart is an attempt to figure out the best way to approach this type of learning.

As a teacher of secondary social studies and history I would have to use the student's success or failure decide whether or not the amount of reading or studying is making a difference. In a middle school or high school classroom e-textbooks will most likely be used soon. It would be an interesting fact to know how often and for how long a student reads their book but I do not think I can base a participation grade off of a computer program's analysis of their usage. Those types of grades will have to be proved by participation and comprehension of online forum threads or in class activities including discussions. Students function and process information in many different ways. This type of student analysis is already being used through standardized testing where assessments take a generalized set of questions and it cookie-cuts a student's knowledge. When school systems focus on these types of test's templates, then creativity has no place. There is no way of really knowing a student's comprehension unless the assessment is a true synthesis test. When a student can understand a concept and apply it to another situation then that is when true learning has been accomplished. Are our current school systems teaching this way?

As a student here at USA I study and accomplish assignments in many different ways and it is not always the exactly the same. I am a non-traditional student with a wife and four children in which the youngest I keep during the day and I attend class in the evenings. I spend the largest portion of my time taking care of the daily life of my wife and children so that leaves small windows of time to complete assignments. Depending on the subject and the task I may or may not intently read in a textbook. Usage tracking software used to determine how often I actively use a textbook may not reflect my knowledge of a concept and I believe it should not be used in anyway of assessing me for that course.

Questions for the teacher:
  • How could this concept be used to actually benefit your course and students?
  • Anonymously, what are your honest thoughts about the quality of your textbooks?
  • Do you give your students a personal survey outside of school required surveys for your own personal improvement?
  • How do you engage your students in your course?
Questions for the students:
  • How do you feel by being monitored on your e-text usage?
  • If this information affected your grade how would you respond?
  • How could this technology be used to benefit you students more?
  • Do you prefer digital learning or traditional classrooms? Explain your answer.

My Comment

I understand that the textbook companies are trying to be innovative in an age of technology based environments. Many people thought that the Wright Brothers were crazy for trying to fly like birds and just over a decade later airplanes were used in WWI. So the application of the information they are receiving now will lead to useful technology and service that will improve future education. However, the process of education has to change along with the usage of technology. The way learning is approached now has to change to truly reach students in a rapidly changing world.

Check out this article by Marc Parry and the user comments that are just as interesting as on the other post.

Group Smart Board Project # 15

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blog Post #13

Blogging Universe

Allowing students to think outside of the classroom is the future. Communicating with peers in the lunch room and at recess is only a small portion of communication, for students now and of the future. Mr. Crosby is that teacher! You know the one you remember everything about even twenty years later. Teachers that make adjustments based on the students needs are always successful. I spent 12 years in retail and I watched the business change. Many workers and management couldn't make the move to the future of the business, and they were left behind. Schools are in the same process and many teachers and administrators are having trouble adjusting. There are new waves of educators that are embarking on a journey to the next dimension of learning. This a journey in which guidance is key and allowing the students to experiment and experience versus serving up a worksheet or study guide that has a predetermined outcome. Who knows what our students are capable of, and old school teaching is hindering that creativity.

Blended Learning Cycle

The blended learning cycle allows a new way of learning that the students of today need. I have four children the oldest is seventeen and the youngest is two. I love music of all types, and I can take the eldest son's iPod and listen to music that he is listening to and make a choice. I can choose to persecute him for the type of music he listens to, or I can accept it and learn to understand it and why it appeals to him. Who doesn't want to understand their children? Once he sees that I am willing to learn new things it allows him to open up to experience new(old) music. Its all about the approach. Mr. Anderson is an expanding teacher that is setting the bar high for his students. His approaches to learning allows the students to be in control of their learning process. This not only teaches the students the content but it also teaches responsibility in an innovative way. This preparation reaches far beyond the current classrooms and into their future success as adults.

Surfing Giant Wave

I am studying to be a social science and history teacher. I feel that I have an unrelenting challenge ahead of me in my field. History has been taught relatively the same for centuries. Read, listen to lectures, take notes, study, and take an exam. It will be challenging to be innovative especially if my future department head is quote "old school" and isn't excited about the way I want to teach. That is when I have to see the wave, feel it and pop up on up on my board and ride it to the beach. Wipe-outs are expected and are recoverable. Everyday will not be stellar, but it must be treated that way because a students future depends on it. My name is Jarrod and I approve this message.

Final Project Progress

Nikki Rae Mooney, Ciara Deese, Farrah Deese, and I, stratigically planned what we will be doing in order to complete our project on time. We met Wednesday and filmed some of the our "Mythbusters: EDM310 Edition" clips that will be in our project. We're meeting again this Tuesday and Wednesday, and have planned to have our Project # 16 completed by the end of our meeting. It's gonna be good!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blog Post #12

A History Blog

Learning history has a bad rap with a lot of people, but my whole purpose in becoming a teacher is to offer students a fun innovative way to learn. History doesn't have to be boring, black and white pages of books. History can come alive in many different ways especially using technology. Anne Emerson is a former 7th grade teacher that is now training teachers with the use of technology in education. While she was a 7th grade teacher she had a ongoing extra credit opportunity for the students called Pop-Culture Points.

After watching the video Teaching World History through Popular Culture (5:42) Write a paragraph on how this idea could be used in your classroom to make learning fun. Remember to follow the requirements of Writing A Quality Blog Post.

Special Tools:

There are many technology tools out there that can be used to increase the interest in history. One of the many tools that can be used is the virtual field trip. Students can explore museums and historic sites as a class or from the comfort of home.

After viewing "Conduct Virtual Field Trips - Teacher Professional Development" (7:49) Read Kyle Smith's Blog on Using Blogs In a History Classroom. Pay close attention to the section entitled In The Classroom. Write a paragraph on how these tools can make history more fun for students. Be sure to follow the requirements Writing A Quality Blog Post.


History Blog Post Response

Pop Culture Points is an activity that will stick with kids for a long time. Students are able to relate a historic event with something that they enjoy or understand. I think its a wonderful idea that engages students in a more fun adventurous way, rather than traditional ways that tend to be monotonous. Using activities like this can reveal possible passions students may have for history and they can understand how it relates and influences the world around them.

The presentation on conducting virtual field trips explained the benefits from using this tool as a supplement to classroom topics. Virtual field trips allow students to visit places that they may never see in person. Using these types of tools can help teach students how to analyze and synthesize information and have a higher chance of retention.

Mr. Smith covered some ways that blogging can be useful in history education. The overall main idea is to use blogs for the students to expand and share their thoughts and expressions on events or writings. This would allow students to analyze and critique each other's blogs or comments as well. Using an online learning environment can also make it easier for students to understand difficult topics by using tools such as podcasts and forum discussions. With podcasts, students can listen to the information as many times as they like to gain a complete understanding. Using forums allows the students to collaborate through comments to gain a better understanding of a topic. Overall I see using these tools as an excellent opportunity to learn in a more fun innovative way.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blog Post #11

Ms. Cassidy's Class

It is absolutely amazing how technology has opened up the possibilities for learning. When I was a student in high school, in the 1990s, computer hard drives were categorized by MB, and now TB is standard. Everyday in this class I learn more and more about the way learning is changing, and its changing to suit the needs of a new generation. I will be teaching this generation within a couple of years. Ms. Cassidy embraces technology that the kids understand and want to use, and it empowers them. Anything that is fun is retained much faster than in other methods. My kids can learn lyrics to whole songs because it is something they are interested in and want to know. However, if you put a study guide for an exam in front of them, they tend to stumble and jumble the information.

I have three sons and a two year old daughter. My sons always have their iphone, ipod, or tablet connected to their body in some way. If they are not listening to music they are playing a game or searching for the next thing they want to order from Amazon with their chore money. My daughter is absorbing everything that they do, and tries very hard to replicate their actions. I have heard that Mobile County Public Schools are trying very hard to move towards using technology in similar ways to Ms. Cassidy's class. The students will be allowed to bring their own device(smartphone, tablet, or handheld gaming device) to school, in which they will interact through wireless capabilities. I attended the education summit at USA a while back and what I heard was a school district that is eager to move forward into these new avenues of learning.

Mobile County will be where I seek a teaching position following graduation. I know I will want to use every bit of technology I can to reach my students. As a history teacher I will make use of the special tool, virtual field trips, I blogged about a while back. It will be something a student can do while on the school bus ride home in the evenings or while staying at grandma's house on the weekends. Most students have internet access but for the ones who do not, I will allow class time to complete any online assignments. In class activities can revolve around an online classroom/blog for the students to access everything they will need to know as far as instructions. With this type of setup if for some reason I were to be absent from school, as the teacher, it would not hinder the learning process of my students. A substitute teacher would be able to carry on class as usual. I am sure things will have changed even more over the next couple of years so I have to be prepared to seek and use the new technologies. To see first graders in Ms. Cassidy's class effectively using the current technologies encourages me and proves that it works as long as the students are properly guided. Embrace Change!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

C4K March Summary

The first student's blog that I commented on in March was Berkley's post entitled What Reminds Me About Winter. It was a very creative post which made me think for a few minutes about things that remind me of winter. The things I listed were, soft fleece blankets, long fluffy socks, homemade chili, trees with no leaves, and super clear crisp nights when stars seem to be more plentiful than usual. Blogs really give students an avenue of expression in writing but also a way to make connections to others that share similar interest.

The second blog belonged to Markeseia, in which she talked about Andersonville which was a Confederate Civil War prison for the Union. Since I am a history education major I enjoyed this post. Markeseia did a great job describing the conditions the prisoners had to endure and many died there. I noted that Andersonville now serves as a memorial to all POWs that have served in U.S. related wars.

Third, I commented on Shanika's blog from Pt England School in Auckland, NZ. I think it is so interesting how students around the world are using technology in the classrooms and how it expands their learning realm. Her post was a short video of how she has used blogging to learn. She noted several new tools she had learned to use to make her blog better. I encouraged her to keep up the good work and I explained that I look forward to using blogs in my future classroom.

For my last installment of C4K March I visited Rylee's blog. Her post was about standing up for yourself and what you believe. I related some of my own experiences to her situation and encouraged her. Many times students can get taken advantage of by other students but also by teachers and administrators. Standing up to opposition is a hard thing to do but once you make that stand you have a sense of relief. Blogging is an awesome tool where students can reach out with their stories and help others or gain support from similar students.

C4T #3, Summary

John Spencer's blog The Myth of the Awful American Teacher talked about how there are awful teachers in schools but how the good outweighs the bad. The memory of bad teachers tend to linger for a long time. It made me think about my children making comments to me about how I shouldn't teach like some of the teachers they have had. That's strong stuff coming from your children and I think being a parent helps improve my thoughts about teaching, and also my education classes has given me some tips that apply to parenting.

On my recent visit to Mr. Spencer's blog I read a post entitled A New Podcast. Mr. Spencer discussed creating a podcast that would pose a question and instead of using Google to find the answer he would actually interview people that are experts on the topic. He listed a few names he was considering and also some topics he is interested in researching. I left a comment on his post with my thoughts on the title and that it sounds like an interesting podcast. I also encouraged him to visit our blog and connect with Dr. Strange. I believe this podcast's success or failure will depend on Mr. Spencer's PLN and the PLN of his readers. The more I learn in this class the more I start to understand why this class is important and required.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Blog Post #10

John T. Spencer

Mr. Spencer commented that this cartoon was a mock of the PC/Mac commercial. I feel that you get what you pay for regardless of what it is, whether it is a pencil or a computer. I personally love the Ticonderoga pencils, and they are a much better product than the cheap big box logo pencils. I own all PCs but there are five iPhones in our house. In a previous college experience I used Mac computers and they are the best in quality. I do have to admit that a PC has been very good to me through the years and I can count on one finger how many times I have had a serious issue with a PC, and it was the result of something I did. Actually the next computer I buy will be a Mac. This cartoon could be viewed as symbolic to the results of finely tuned guidance in educating children. The better content and use of resources in the prepared teacher's classroom will be more effective in properly preparing the students for the future. The job of passing kids to the next grade can be done in other burp back ways and not really be as thorough. Interesting cartoon!

Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?

Old school administrators are still beating up the teachers that are trying to move learning into the 21st century. A larger part of those old school guys and gals are nearing their retirement and hopefully the new folks moving in will really embrace the change. Teaching and learning has been forever changed with the technology that is currently available to most educators. By the time I get into my own classroom things will have progressed even more than now. I try to keep an open mind to everything, but sometimes I can get bogged down in the rhetoric against new methods and ideas, but I plan to look to mentors and other people in my support network to help me keep my focus on the students.

The Con Academy

Mr. Spencer examined an idea of students learning outside the classroom. I know Mr. Spencer appreciates innovations in learning but he sees some of the ideas as glorified busywork for the students. With his title "Con Academy", it tells me to not fall for everything that comes along. It all goes back to keeping the focus student centered. Piling the kids up with stacks of worksheets accomplishes nothing but frustrated students. Cookie cutter programs will not work for every classroom and could lead to some students bored due to simplicity or some can be overwhelmed with concepts not tailored to their needs. Big idea for me was to be on the look out for ideas that might be to good to be true.

Mr. McLeod

Yes, yes, yes, I follow. Mr. McLeod makes his point about holding up progress. I know a few people who refuse to use technology, but honestly, my wife's 78 year old grannie embraces technology, so why shouldn't the people teaching the students that will operate our world in the next generation, which will totally depend on technologies that have not been created yet. I am pursuing history teaching profession and I can think of times throughout history that innovation led to world progression. What about Roman roads and aqueducts, and how that changed the operation of society. We can't forget the industrial revolution that took countries from a fully agrarian society to a society of self-propelled carriages and mass production. With that said, why hold back students from reaching a height of learning never before achieved. Embrace change!

That would be Dr. McLeod, the Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky, and also the Director of Innovation for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8 in Iowa. A leader in innovation for education, and is one of the leading experts on K-12 educational technology. Dr. McLeod has received many awards for his technology leadership, and has set the standard for many to follow.