Thursday, July 26, 2012


Steve Knight is an AMAZING teacher.  The skills he taught our ed 554 class were so relevant to today’s students and how they learn.  All of the technology used and introduced in class could be applied to any classroom the next day and most of the programs we used can be found on the internet and are FREE!
The class was not just about technology but really gave the class a good view as to how students learn today and that it is very different then when most of us were in school.  The biggest point Prof. Steve drove home was the idea of choice.  Students today are looking to be participants in their learning, they don’t just want to sit back and be told about their learning.  These choices do not always need to be technology based.  Some students might feel more comfortable drawing their own cartoon, while others might want to choose images from the internet to create a story.
Another important point is to publish the work.  The quality of work always goes up if the student knows that not just the teacher will be looking at the product.  Teachers could choose to post work to a class blog that just other students and parents could see or could post it to YouTube where the whole world will see.
This was an excellent class.  I am glad I put student teaching off for another year so that I can implement these ideas.  THANKS!!!

Final Week (for class that is...)

In “5 Reasons to Allow Students to use Cell Phones” I agree with all of the points except for number 4. I will address points 1-3 and 5 first followed by my thoughts on point 4.
Point 1 is about preparing student for life after school.  If we want our students to be successful, we have to teach that information.  In many middle and high schools most students take a typing course.  While being able to type is still vital, it might not be the way these students one day do business.  If the world is changing, educators need to take that into consideration.
Point 2 looks at budgets.  School systems really should look at the technology already available to students and use that.  Many computer companies offer education discounts and plus the student does not need to worry about giving up the technology over the summer or when they graduate.  The technology will be theirs and therefore can keep all of the material on it.  Some families might not have the financial means to purchase this technology, and that is when the school can step in.
Point 3 address cheating and is excellent.  The article is correct in saying that if a student can look the answer up online, something might be wrong with the test.  Students need more challenges in the classroom especially when applying their knowledge.  Teachers should look more into having students create final projects as finals rather than a regular test.  
Sometimes pencil to paper testing is necessary though.  When this is the case, hopefully the teacher has established rules such as a designated place for cell phones while testing or consequences if caught cheating.
Point 5 discusses responsible use.  Students are going to learn how to make mash-up videos or photos and how to post them on their own.  Teachers should take the initiative to teach students about copyright law and the consequences of not using the internet responsibly.  
OK, point 4.  In this point the author address that administrators using technology when students cannot is a double standard.  I would not say that it is a right that the administrator has access but rather a privilege.  Students need to understand that just because one person has an object does not mean everyone is entitled to it.  
All in all this is an excellent article.  School systems should really look implementing new rules for cell phone use in schools.  In many cases it might help to save money while at the same time preparing students for the future.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Week 6

Educational Technology:
At the beginning of the semester, I posted about a technology/history blog called HistoryTech.  This week’s post fits perfectly into what the class discussed last week on our blogs.  It sounds like the author is at a conference and posted about one of his sessions.  The session was using technology to bring the Emancipation to life using...VISUALS!
Posted to HistoryTech is a great screen shot of a video showing a movie/map/timeline about Emancipation.  While I could not view the video, the shot said it all.  It looks as though the viewer is able to watch as Emancipation spreads across the country.  There are 4 different points to watch for such as Emancipation Events and Union Army Occupation.  I am unsure if there is sound or if students just watch the video.  I think it could work either way.  I would hope though, if it does not have sound, a teacher using the video would speak over it to help explain what is happening.  If a teacher just let the video run without explanation, it could be a wasted visual.
The video looks like it might truly be able to enhance an Emancipation lesson in the classroom.  Students could even take the video as inspiration to create their own or as a vehicle to an end of unit project.
I attempted to leave a comment on the site, but was unsuccessful.  I did however e-mail the author about some of his previous posts and the current one.  I think the author does an excellent job of showing educators how technology and history can work together in new and interesting ways.  He replied stating he as glad I found the blog useful.  
CommonSense Media’s:
The lesson I looked at was Grades 4-5 Rings of Responsibility and concentrated on Teach 1: Learn about Citizenship.  The lesson starts out with the instructor using a quote from Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man “With great power comes great responsibility.”  The lesson uses the quote to explain to students that online they hold great power, but need to use it responsibly and introduces the vocabulary word responsibility. 
I particularly like how the teacher introduces the concept using student’s prior knowledge.  Students talk about the responsibility they have at home, school, or in their community.  Using students prior knowledge is a great way to introduce new or difficult concepts.
What I especially like about this introduction lesson is it can easily become an integrated lesson with civics.  In the 5th grade students study United States History to 1865.  During this time, the Founding Fathers wrote the constitution and made other laws that the citizens had responsibility to uphold.  Teachers can easily, talk about the civics involved with being a U.S. citizen and the responsibility they have online.
The rest of the lessons involve students working through 3 different phases of responsibility online: themselves, their friends and family, and to both their online and offline communities.  All of these lessons work in conjunction with the previous lessons to help remind students how they should act online and why.  

PPT is Evil:
I listened to the NPR segment on PowerPoint.  The clip was produced in 2003, but I know I heard it a few months ago.  I am not sure if it was a follow up story or if it was this clip replayed.
Through the segment the reporter talks about how PowerPoint is over used in schools and is becoming ineffective.  He also speaks with top researchers in the field.  One stated that PowerPoint is great for the bottom 20% of presenters.  This is because it forces them to be organized.  The researcher then stated that is does not help the top 80% at all and only creates disfunction in their presentation.
When teaching students PowerPoint, teachers need to teach the students that the program is an aid, not the presentation.  Teachers and students need to understand that the PowerPoint slides can act as a visual aid and should only be there to enhance the spoken portion of the presentation.  Students should not read only from the slides, but should create an entire script that is performed as the presentation.
Teachers also need to tell students to limit both the amount of words used on the slid as well as special effects.  The more words that are published on the slide viewers are going to experience one of two effects.  They are either not going to read anything on the slid and only listen to the speaker or they are going to tune the speaker out and only read the text.  
When looking at the special effects, they only become a distraction.  With all of the sounds and slid motion combinations possible, instead of being informative, the presentation only become chaotic.  To limit the effects, teachers could allow students one effect total and then explain points will be deducted for more because they are not conducive to learning.  This way students get to have some fun but the class does not have to suffer.
While I do think PowerPoint is over used and used incorrectly, there is a time and place for it. If made to look minimal, by allowing the speaker to speak then I think it can be an excellent teaching tool.  It should not be used in all cases all the time, there is a time and place.


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