Saturday, December 8, 2012

A light at the end of the Eracism tunnel...

From Flickr.com by cali.org
Okay, so over the past couple of months my technology course has been involved in the Eracism global learning project.  If you want more information about that read one of my previous posts that went more in depth about this project.  Anyways, I just finished up my final judging for the project about how the global management of natural resources causes more harm than good.  During this judging I found this round to be much better than the first round.  I felt like these two groups of students took on their position with much more eagerness and were more driven to prove their argument.  Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the two schools that I judged.  They put forth a lot of time and effort to make their case. 

After completing this round of judging I felt that it went much more smoothly than the first round.  Through some great advice from my professor I decided it would be best to write out my critiques for the two schools before recording them onto the Voice Thread.  I found that this process went much more smoothly than when I flew blind the first time that I did my judging by not having any notes written down.  It really helped to make my critiques much more meaningful when I took the time to write them out.  Not to mention when I gave input on sounding fluent when they presented in the debates I wasn't being hypocritical through not being fluent in my audio critique because I already had a script of what I wanted to say.

Overall, my experiences with this project lean towards the positive side.  There were times when I got frustrated with not knowing who I was supposed to judge and when I needed to judge, but for the most part this was a great learning experience.  It was great to get the chance to say that I have participated in a global learning project like this and I think now I will be more apt to take part in something like this when I am a teacher with a classroom of my own.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

Global Learning: Eracism

From flickr.com by:  Andrew Forgrave
For my Emerging Instructional Technologies course we were given the opportunity to become judges for the Eracism global learning project started by Vicki Davis and one of her colleagues.  This project encompasses several schools from around the world participating in a debate using Voice Thread.  Voice Thread is a way to record audio as well as add any textual comments and send them to someone.  The students in the project were either pro or con of the global management of natural resources causes conflict between cultures.  After compiling their research the pro team would give their opening statements followed by the con side.  Within a reasonable amount of time each team would respond to the others' comments. 

Given that some schools are in completly different time zones Voice Thread was a great way to do this so that the arguments could be recorded and the other school could just play the other team's response and respond to their comments right away in order to keep the debate going more like a tradition debate where the other team responds right away.  Through participating in this debate students not only get to learn more about a specific topic that affects everyone around the world, but it gives them a chance to practice their speaking/presentation skills as well as to interact in some way with another culture.  Here the students will get to see views from another perspective other than their own.  The students will also inadvertently learn to be responsible and monitor their own time so that the debate can continue at an efficient rate. 

After experiencing what I have experienced so far I only wish that I could have participated in something like this when I was in school.  I think that the learning would have been so much more richer and meaningful if my classmates and I had been given this opportunity.  In light of this I feel as if when I am a teacher and have had a few years of experience in teaching under my belt I would like to get my students involved in a project like this.  Too many times teachers force too much rote learning and direct instruction on their students and in the end I don't think it really pays off.  If you want your students to really learn and more importantly to have fun learning then a project like this would do you and your students wonders. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Tour through Science and Social Studies in Second Life

After three days of on and off work creating my tour I am finally almost done with it.  Once this post is written and posted I will have finally reached the end of this long and gruesome journey through Second Life.  Okay, maybe gruesome was too harsh of a term to use to describe my let's just say interesting and challenging journey through Second Life.  Yeah, interesting and challenging sounds much better.   Anyways, back to the task at hand.  My tour.  You know these last few sentences got me reminiscing about my Hawkeye Community College Western Civ. teacher that would always get off on different tangents.  He would first recognize that he did this, say, "I digress," and finally get back to his lecture.  Oh, there I go again getting off track.  Bad quality of a teacher if I do say so myself.  Okay, seriously know back to the topic of my tour. 

So, it took me a while to decide what I wanted the topic of my tour to be and somehow I came across all of these locations about science and social studies that seemed really interesting to me.  I also felt like I would have loved to visit these places as student to learn more about these content areas.  As I was looking for places to add to my note card I kept thinking how science and social studies has taken a backseat to other content areas like and math and reading, so I decided to do something about it.  That something was to create a fun tour that teachers can take their students on to learn about different topics within the content areas of science and social studies.  Now, the locations on my tour aren't the only places you can take your students.  If you search hard enough you can find many more viable options that would suit your curricular needs to the "T." 

Below is a copy of my note card with brief descriptions of the site on my tour.  Rather than rewrite the descriptions I copied and pasted them straight from the card down below, so you can either read about the sites here or on my note card if you get the chance.  Also, I have placed SLurls with the descriptions so that you can click on them and be taken to a place where you can teleport to these locations.  However, in order to visit them you need to have a Second Life account.  I hope you enjoy my tour: 

A Tour through Science and Social Studies

Science and social studies have been seriously undercut within the elementary school curriculum.  In light of this I have created a tour through a variety of museums, role plays, and exhibits to promote learning in these two unappreciated curricular areas.  Through this tour students as well as teachers will be able to experience all of the wonders of science and the intrigue of our past. 

1) Cripple Creek
This location is a Sims role play game where anyone who visits will get to experience first hand what it was like to live in the historical wild west in the post-Civil War era in Colorado.  As a teacher you could tour this place and show your students what the U.S. was like at this time. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Colorado%20Territory/100/78/501

2) International Spaceflight Museum
Within this museum there are a variety of exhibits and events that provide information about the history of NASA as well as the science of space and space travel.  Here students will be able to go on a virtual tour of a space museum where in real life they would not be able to. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Spaceport%20Alpha/49/83/24

3) 911 Memorial
911 is a critical moment in American history that deserves respect and remembrance.  Here people are able to pay tribute to those that were lost in this tragic event.  Seeing that this is an important part of our nation's history it is important for students to have a full understanding of how much this event has affected our nation and how it continues to affect us now 11 years later. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/STAGG%20ISLAND/95/162/31

4) Holocaust Memorial Museum
At this museum you will be able to take part in a virtual exhibit that portrays the horrific events at Kristallnacht in 1938.  World War II is one of the most revered wars in world history.  Through this virtual exhibit students will be able to hear audio and witness video recounts of the events that took place at this location at the start of World War II. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/US%20Holocaust%20Museum1/58/37/27

5) Ancient Rome
Much like Cripple Creek this place is a Sims role playing island.  Here you will take on the role of someone who lived in ancient Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar in 46 BC. Within this role play many of the events that take place are are based on real historical events that occurred.  Students will be able to learn about this time and place through the eyes and actions of someone who lived during this time. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/ROMA/215/25/22

6) Raymaker Field Studies Centre at Bowness
On this island you are able to learn about geography, geomorphology, and the earth sciences through the exploration of this place.  Included are interactive exhibits and simulations that you can partake in to learn about these various scientific fields.  As a teacher you will be able to use this island to show students how these scientific fields affect our world.  
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bowness/85/140/32

7) INSPIRE SPACE Park
Within this park you are able to explore the wonders of space.  You will get to visit galaxies, fly through the starts, and travel the universe.  What better way for students to learn about space than to explore it for themselves? 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shinda/32/218/1561

8) Exploratorium
This island is based off of the real Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco, California.  Here students will be able to engage in a variety of science experiments.  Some of the featured attractions are:  The Tent of Elucidation, The Illusion Pavilion, and PiHenge Circle.  A variety of scientific experiences can be found here. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Exploratorium/170/192/25

9) The Abyss Observatory
Here is yet another museum  to visit that is dedicated to ocean and technology.  Through this tour students will be able to travel where they couldn't before which is 2,000 meters down into the dark depths of the ocean floor.  Here students will be able to visually explore what they could only just read about before. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Second%20Earth%203/128/128/22

10) Tech Museum of Innovation
Within this museum there are a variety of ever-changing interactive exhibits that students can enjoy and learn from. These exhibits were accomplished through collaboration.  As a teacher you could have students explore these exhibits in preparation of completing their own collaborative project that will ultimately be determined by you.  Collaboration is a key element in any content area and in life.  Learning this skill will be incredibly beneficial to your students' well-being. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Tech/197/159/38

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Touring SL isn't as Easy as it Looks

Well, I thought I was going to take this amazing tour of Second Life about disabilities.  I know, it would have been perfect considering I plan on becoming a special education teacher.  Alas, my web browser did not seem to like Second Life and kicked me out at least three times making touring very tiresome and more so very frustrating.  Which was unfortunate.  This was one of the quests that seemed not only the most enjoyable but the most beneficial to my future career as a special education teacher.  I guess I will have to put off a more extensive tour of the disability world for now until I can get to a computer that is much more cooperative with SL.  Until then I will share my thoughts on my brief yet informative tour on the topic of Schizophrenia. 

Now, I know what you might be thinking Schizophrenia is a disorder that occurs with people in their late teens to earlier twenties and you would be right.  So, how could this information be helpful to me as a a teacer?  Well, I'll tell you how.  In the Virtual Hallucination's world you are given the opportunity to step inside the shoes of someone with this disorder and see what it is like to live in their perspective with having to deal with having hallucinations.  As you can see from the picture I was able to see how TVs are known for inducing hallucinations.  People with Schizophrenia often believe that their TV is talking to them when it, of course, isn't.  What these virtual reenactments provide us is a look at a different perspective.  As teachers we need to have the ability to place ourselves in our students' shoes and gain their perspective on things involving what they want to learn, how best they will learn it, etc.  If we don't we won't be able to teach them as well as we could and should. 

In the time to come I hope to share with you more information on disability once I get a chance to really get my tour going.  Hopefully this was a good start for you and I will be bringing you more information about disability so stay tuned.  Until next time and there should be a next time. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Looks are harder to put together than they may seem...

Before Picture
Before you say I didn't make many changes with my avatar let me explain first if you please.  I honestly did not think that changing my appearance would be all that difficult, but it was.  Extremely so.  For some reason I do not think that I was in the right place to make such drastic yet amazing changes to my avatar.  I tried following a tutorial video as best as I could given that it is for a slightly older version of SL, but for the life of me I could not find the same type of appearance changing settings as was displayed in the video.  Nevertheless, I did find the appearance setting on the side bar.  However, with this setting I was only able to manipulate my appearance with items that were already a part of my outfit by taking some things off and by adding on items that I got from my orientation at the Lionheart.  So, all I was able to do was to do at this time was to manipulate my appearacne a little, so my before and after don't look too different form each other.  Don't scorn me too much I beg of you.  Maybe in time I will speak with someone who can direct me how to make better changes because I am so looking forward to making my avatar look so much better than it does now.  Don't worry I won't take any offense to any negative comments about my avatar's let's just say intereting appearance. 

After Picture
Hopefully, that will be the case because the man in the video is right.  Your avatar is a reflection of who you want to be or who you see yourself as.  You can be anybody you want.  The personality that you think reflects you best can be shown through your avatar and nobody can say anything about it.  Once I get a better understanding of how to change things about my avatar through body shape, hair color and length, accessories, etc. I am so going to do so because this was the quest I was looking forward to completing the most and I am bummed that I was unable to make the changes that I wanted to.  After all, this avatar is a reflection of me.  Not some random avatar I had to pick in order to sign up for SL.  So, beware sometime soon I may look a little different than what I look now.  Remember, be on the lookout for some upcoming changes!

So much to learn and so little time!

Quest #3:  Complete!  Yay, I am now halfway there.  Man, as I was going through this orientation into Second Life I couldn't believe how much there was to learn.  I think I could go through the orientation a dozen times and still not be able to be a proficient user of SL.  From what I can see and have experienced I think that SL takes a lot of time and practice to be able to use it well.  Time and practice that I have not quite acquired yet and maybe never will acquire.  But, hopefully I will eventually get the hang of it.  I can only hope. 

As far as I can see the hardest thing about SL, besides having an annoyingly slow computer, is knowing where everything is.  As I was completing some of the activities with the presentation boards I would get lost as to where to find them, especially when they are under the inventory tab.  At this time navigating the inventory is my biggest challenge.  I am not sure as of yet how to copy, wear, move, etc. the things in this area. 

One interesting thing I learned at my orientation was the economic system within SL.  I was surprised to find that they had one.  What interested me the most was that this virtual world operates much like the real world.  If SL every gets their youth version running again this might be something that high school and even college teachers might use with there students.  SL would be a great way for students to learn about living in the real world.  Anyways, I really recommend this orientation to other newbies so that they can get a better understanding of what all is included in SL.  It will make it a lost easier than trying to figure out everything on your own.  Trust me!

Is my avatar slow or is it just my computer?

Okay, so I just completed my second quest of many more to come I'm sure and I am completely frustrated with Second Life.  Honestly, I think from now on I will have to use a different computer.  I couldn't believe how complex a world Second Life is until I tried to use it on my computer.  My computer moves so slow that by the time that  I get to where I want to go I have already passed it and have to return back only to go past what I wanted to visit again.  Ugh, talk about frustrating!  Given that my computer is the source of all of my problems I think that Second Life or SL wouldn't be as frustrating to maneuver.  However, even if I did have a speedier computer I still think that I would still have some difficulty.  Maybe not as much as I am now, but only some. 

As I went about exploring Iowa Island I mainly explored Dr. Z's place due to my lack of mobility within the world.  Don't get me wrong I did explore other aspects of the island and flew a little bit.  Actually, flying seemed to get me where I wanted to go faster because I didn't have to maneuver around all of  the objects.  Ahem, like the twisty and turny stairs in Dr. Z's place (hint hint Dr. Z) and I could just fly right by them.  During this interesting exploration phase I was able to learn how to use some of the controls such as turning the camera angles, sitting, and of course flying around the Campanile.  You know the Campanile is my favorite part at the real UNI campus and I think it will be my favorite part about Iowa Island, too.  It reminds me so much of home.  You can see pictures of my exploration with Dr. Z's place and flying around floating around this blog post. 

Overall, I think this quest would have been better if I had done it with a faster running computer.  No better way to disinterest someone from trying something new than to have them frustrate with the most basic aspects of it because of technical problems.  Right?  Now, on the the next quest. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Second Life? What's wrong with your first life?

Second Life is a virtual world that I have only just heard of.  I have never really been interested in experiencing it.  Mostly, because my computer intelligence is basically slim to none and from what I have seen and heard it looks very complex.  Due to this complexity I have steered clear away from it just to be on the safe side.  After all being safe and not taking risks is the bulk of my personality.  But, when you always stay on the safe side you can really miss out on some great opportunities.  Who knows maybe those things that you fear could very well change your life and you end up discovering something amazing that changes your perspective on something.  Anyways, I decided to take a leap of faith and try out Second Life.  Okay, so I wouldn't call it an intended leap of faith more like an assigned task set by my university professor.  Whatever the reason is I am about to explore a world I have never know before.  Literally, I will be exploring another world.  How crazy, awesome, frightening, intimidating, overwhelming....is that? 

Moving on.  I have just set up my Second Life account and created my avatar.  I have also explored an incredibly small part of the world with my class and university professor as well as a little on my own.  At the moment I am kind of on the fence of how I feel about it.  I like it and I don't all at the same time.  The world to me seems amazing to be able to explore and the fact that there are "real" people from all over the world that you can meet makes it all the more appealing to me.  How better to get to know the real world than to converse with people that live all over the world?  However, from the time that I have spent exploring the world I am utterly confused which is why I am on the fence about liking it.  It is so complex and so detailed that I don't know what I am doing half of the time.  I guess only time will tell whether I get used to the ways things operate in Second Life and learn how to navigate it. 

As for my future use with Second Life I don't think I will be able to apply it to my future classroom.  From what I have read it is only available to people sixteen and older.  Since I want to teach lower elementary special education this won't be a viable option for me.  Then again, even if I did teach students old enough to use this world I really wouldn't know when, how, or where to even use it.  More exploration into the benefits of Second Life and education seem to be warranted at this point.  As well as much more exploration in the world to gage how to effectively and efficiently use it. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

To Game or Not to Game? That is the question...

I have to admit I am at an impasse.  I went into this gaming assignment for my Emerging Instructional Technologies class thinking that I would be blown away with how much fun gaming is, but after spending some time actually gaming I am not sure if I like it or not.  I have to be honest, at times I would find myself looking at the bottom right hand corner of my screen and seeing if my assigned hour of gaming was over.  However, I did find that I played my game for a little over an hour.  Before starting this unorthodox assignment I went in thinking that it would be easy.  Yet, when it came time to start gaming I started to run into problems.  First, I couldn't for the life of me choose a game to play nor did I know where to start looking.  Finally, I found one on Facebook that I could live with playing.  The title of this game was called, "Gourmet Ranch."

This game is much like, "Farm Ville," where you have a ranch and have to grow different fruits and vegetables and raise animals.  The twist to it was that you had to grow food to cook with and serve to customers.  What I liked about this game was that it wasn't too challenging.  I am not a gamer by any means so I did not want to waste my time trying to figure out some complex game where I would have to battle an evil villain or monster or whatever else you find in games.  As I played this game I was surprised to find that I liked and didn't like gaming.  Before you tell me that I didn't try out enough games let me tell you that I did do quite a bit of exploration online, but I never truly found one that suited me.  Sure you could say that I might not have looked hard enough, but honestly I just don't think that gaming is for me.  At times I did enjoy playing the game because I liked all of the challenges the characters threw at me to accomplish and it felt very good when I succeeded with the challenges, but I don't think I will ever play the game or any other online or console game again.  Then again you just never know what you will do in the future.  After all I did enjoy some of the time.  Personally, what I think threw me off the most is having to have patience to play these kind of games.  If this is the problem then maybe I should play them more so I can gain this vital skill. 

In preparation for this assignment I read about flow by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. What I learned about flow is that when you have reached flow you are totally and completely immersed in what you are doing where time seems to pass you by without you even realizing it.  I expected this flow to happen to me and that the hour I was supposed to spend on this game would turn into 2 or even 3 hours.  Well, it only turned in an extra ten minutes before I got frustrated and closed out of the game.  While I did not reach flow while gaming I believe I have reached flow many other times of my life.  Work is a great example of this because there are always those times when you are so busy and you are on the go time will just speed up.  Flow is a great experience to go through.  When you have reached flow you somehow have reached a state of mind where you are completely invested in what you are doing and most like enjoy doing it. 

While gaming may not be for me it seems that many people do enjoy it.  So, why don't we take this enjoyment and turn it into something educationally productive?  If so many people love to game why not include it somehow in their school life?  I know gaming can seem to be frivolous and you are right it can be, but given the right context it could be turned into something filled with unbridled learning potential.  Even though I did not particularly like gaming I wouldn't mind if it was part of my education because gaming is sure enough a lot more fun than reading a textbook and filling out an accompanying worksheet.  Really, who would want to fill out a worksheet when they could just play a game in order to master the content?  Gaming is fun and provides a new and exciting way to learn educationally based content.  Just recently I read a quote that stated something like this:  "We must teach our students for their tomorrows, not our yesterdays."  This is so true.  As future and present educators we need to teach our students with them in mind not ourselves.  How can we expect them to succeed in the world if we don't teach them how to succeed in THEIR world?  And gaming my friends is just one small way that we can accomplish this.  It is by no means the answer, but it's a start. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Leaves are Changing and so are our Schools!



Everyone’s ideal classroom... or just our’s...

From flickr.com
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in an ideal world?  That whatever we wanted or even wanted to do was designed exactly the way we work.  Let’s take the education system for example since it is near and dear to our hearts in every single way that is possible.  Ideally, we would be teachers in a classroom situated for students that are 6-8 years old.  This typically would be a second or third grade classroom.  In this classroom all students would be perfect little angels that would say “Yes, Mrs/Miss _______” or “You’re right Mrs/Miss ________.”  Now, wouldn’t that be nice?  Or should I say wouldn’t that be ideal.  To make this theoretical situation even more ideal this classroom would be let’s just say all over the world.  I know what you’re thinking.   How could a classroom be all over the world?  Well, with all of the advancements we have with today’s technology especially with the use of Skype we can connect our stationery classroom with classrooms all over the country and even with the rest of the world.  Talk about building bridges.  Up to this point everything we have stated is what an ideal classroom would be like.  But, what would you say if we said that that last bit of what we said isn’t just ideal, but also true.  Lately, schools have been connecting with one another at a much more frequent pace and it has greatly affected the way classrooms like ours operate.  

How do these classrooms connect?

Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay were two school teachers that spearheaded what is known as the Flat Classroom Project.  This project embodies several classroom projects that students nation and worldwide participate in.  As technology advances and businesses cross borders these two innovators thought why can’t classrooms?  Instead of just teaching about different cultures why not have the students experience them for themselves?  After all, educators and researchers say that meaningful experiences are what make or break education.  As of now there have been many projects created to support this international education exchange.  One of those projects stood out to us.  “What do the Leaves and Trees Look Like Where You Live?” is a project found on the globalschoolnet.org website.  We found this project to be just right for the ideal classroom described earlier.  A basic overview of this project goes like this.  Students will take photos of leaves and trees that inhabit the area in which they live in and share them with the other classes partaking in the project.  While this is an incredibly basic project compared to more advanced ones found on the website this one will work well for this age group.  Due to the “nature” of this project these young students will get the chance to explore their natural environment as well as other environments throughout the world and use technological means to capture those natural differences and share them.  

How students will achieve...

The achievement gains are quite simple.  We would like our students to become more connected to the world outside of the four walls of their classroom.  There is more to the world than what they see in their surroundings.  Sure, books and videos can help students see the world we’re not arguing that, but nothing would beat the experiences they would receive from communicating with students from another culture.  In this tree and leaf project the students won’t only be meeting their school’s science standards and learning about different technologies to connect with others they will be given the opportunity to enhance their science inquiry skills by exploring their immediate natural environment but also environments all over the world.  Here the students will be able to compare and contrast the environment with students from other environments.  

Barriers that might crop up...

From flickr.com
All this talk about connecting students with other schools is great in theory, but would it be great in practice as well?  Personally, we think it would.  However, we would be remiss to say that designing and even participating in a project such as this wouldn’t be challenging.  These projects take a lot of time and energy to develop and complete and many teachers may not feel that they have an adequate amount of time to create or use a project such as this or to be able to implement this project to its fullest extent possible.  A second barrier that might crop up is technology know-how.  Some teachers and even students depending on the age may not feel they know enough about technology to connect with other students and create a productive online environment that supports the project.  

The leaves are changing, so are the schools, and our students’ perceptions as well...  

Students, especially young students, seem to be ethnocentric in the way that they perceive the world.  They tend to only think about themselves, normally not in an egocentric or self-absorbed way at least not always, but in a way that doesn’t reflect other cultures and ideas that aren’t reflected in their daily lives.  By participating in a project such as this the students will have their eyes opened to other ways of life other than their own.  Through the connectivity within this project students will be exposed to other cultures and learn to appreciate as well as accept differences.  They will be able to recognize that they exist but not take those differences as reasons not to connect with that culture.  
By:  Harun, Megan, and Sarah

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Connecting the dots? It's more like connecting the students!


Wow!  That is all I have to say about this video.  If you haven't seen it then stop reading right this instant and play the video directly above.  If you are an educator watching this don't think you are being replaced.  Just think that your teacherly duties are evolving.  Everything changes at some point or another anyways.  You just have to roll with it and make the best out of a new and unfamiliar situation.  In the end you will find it rewarding to see your students taking control over their own learning.  After all, isn't that what all teachers want?  To mold our students to be the guide to their own learning while we facilitate and make sure they are on the right path.  If you are students watching this extraordinary video, and lets face it we are all students and lifelong learners at heart, didn't you just find it incredibly enlightening?  I mean who knew that as students we could control our own learning.  Even more so we are able to shape and mold it into what works best for us and how best to receive the information that intrigues us through different resources and technological mediums. 

Creating our own Personal Learning Network (PLN)...

Many of you are probably thinking this just isn't possible.  How can students be able to learn without a textbook and a teacher to direct them to the learning outcomes?  It's really quite simple.  Well, actually if you take the video into consideration it kind of looks complicated, but it really isn't.  Did you follow that?  Let me try to explain it to you.  It's really all about connecting the students to one another and to various resources.  Those resources are blogs, their own that they will be reflecting their learning on, classmate's blogs, and other professional blogs, online resources, reaching out and Skyping with leading professionals in the field they are studying or listening to podcasts/vodcasts from those professionals, etc.  With the use of the Internet there are an infinite amount of ways students can get connected and create their own Personal Learning Network to cater the way they learn best with the content they are studying. 

Getting connected...

From flickr.com by:  Marc Wathieu
So far, it seems as if students are just on their own and not really connecting with anyone in particular and they are on their own.  Well, I hate to say it but this is so not true.  PLNs are not designed to be individual.  I mean they are individualized to the student but the student is far from alone in this type of network.  PLNs are all about connecting with others through others whether they are commenting on others' blogs or Skyping with leaders in the field they are studying.  Commenting on others' blogs is what I think is the main way that the students stay connected.  Through the series of commenting on each other's blogs the students get feedback as well as being presented with new frameworks for thinking about what they have learned and even adapting their previous knowledge to reflect new constructions that they have made through their PLN experiences. 

After class is over what happens to my PLN?

Hopefully, you will continue to venture out into your PLN long after you finish the required online class or whatever inspired you to start it.  The purpose of a PLN is that you continue to develop it long after you leave school.  Like I said earlier we are all lifelong learners at heart.  We never stop learning.  Never.  Some of you may think you will never revisit you PLN, but once you get started it will be pretty hard to leave it.  After all its YOUR network.  YOU designed.  YOU found the resources that interested YOU.  YOUR PLN is catered to YOUR wants and needs.  The key word or better yet words is YOU and YOUR.  Remember, this is YOUR network.  Not anyone else's.  Before you say that it's too hard to start your own PLN think again.  Most likely you already have Facebook and Twitter and do you know what that means?  It means that you've already started your own PLN without even realizing it!  So, keep expanding it.  Use Diigo to bookmark websites, blogs, wikis, etc. that interest...your friends, your family, co-workers?  No.  That interest YOU!  Remember what Angela Maires says, "YOU MATTER!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Living in the Past

From flickr.com by:  Don Shall
As of late, the way that society has approached the education of our nation's youth has been like we have been living in the past.  It seems as if time has suddenly stopped and we stopped progressing forward.  Over the past twenty years technology has changed so much and has given us new opportunities to explore.  Yet, it seems as if this exploration is something we either fear or are confused about. 

Everything we, as in present and future teachers, have been told is that technology should be embraced and harnessed by our students.  However, it doesn't seem as if this is being done to its fullest extent possible.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Many teachers have been doing a marvelous job trying to incorporate the technological demands that the educational system has pushed on them, but it seems like enough hasn't been done.  Granted there are probably several reasons for this occurrence.  It's not like teachers are just ignoring technology for no reason.  Its seems easy to blame the lack of technological implementation on teachers not having the time to find ways to incorporate it or them just being set in their ways of teaching and not wanting to change the way they teach.  If you think about it, there is still that mentality that says, "if it works, why change it."  But, like I said this is not the case very often.  Sometimes.  But, not often. 

From flickr.com by:  Desert Bug
Personally, lack of education is what I think is the main reason for the lack of implementation.  I feel that if teachers had had the proper teaching before they were licensed to teach then we would see a greater use of technology in the classroom.  In my undergraduate program we are required to take a course entitled Educational Technology and Design.  Was this class helpful?  The simple answer is, yes.  Did this class provide me with enough know how to implement technology in the correct manner in my future classroom?  I don't think so.  Maybe it did for some of my fellow classmates, but not for me.  Don't get me wrong.  I learned a lot.  But, I think I could have learned more if I had been given the time to really explore these technologies and programs instead of breezing through one after the other.  Because of this reason, and the fact that my technological skills before entering that class were like zilch, I proceeded with getting a minor in educational technology.  We become teachers because we care about our students and how they are educated, so why not educate yourself so that you can teach them in the way that is catered most to them and their burgeoning skills in the field of technology.  After all, their lives are kind of consumed by technology in one medium or another. 

A call for action...

Do to the fact that I don't believe that one technology class is enough to satisfy our students' thirst and appetite for technology I ask for a call for action at UNI and other colleges to add more technology class requirements.  One just isn't cutting it.  I know many future teachers won't like to hear this, but with all of the pushes towards implementing technology in the classroom when it is your time to teach you will be thankful for the extra knowledge in incorporating technology into your regular classroom activities.  After all it will cause a lot less headaches and hours of searching the IInternet for different technologies and strategies with the extra intell this extra class(es) will provide. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Podcasts: Will they replace the old-fashioned speech?


From flickr.com by:  Tim Jagenberg


In the spotlight...

Out of every possible activity that was thwarted on us in our educational endeavors what most likely stays with us the most is, or at least stays with me, is our time in the spotlight.  You know.  Those wonderful days where we got up in front of the class and was required to provide a speech to our classmates on some topic or another.  Personally, wonderful isn't exactly the word I would use to describe these moments in my life.  Honestly, mortifying, frightening, unnerving, alarming, unsettling, troubling, and disconcerting would be better words to describe the way that I felt when I knew I had to get up and do a speech.  Even just raising my hand and answering a question would get me out of my comfort zone.  This is ironic.  I know.  Me pursuing a career in teaching when the thing that I am the most afraid of is public speaking.  But hey, I don't care what anyone says.  It is much easier to speak in front of kids than to speak in front of your peers and elders.  But, like this blog that's just my opinion. 

Dawn of a new age...

Given that I am probably not the only person who feels this way when it comes to giving a speech there has to be another way for us to compile information and present it to the class.  Well, there is.  Have any of you heard of the terms podcasting or vodcasting?  Podcasting and vodcasting are ways that you can present information on a topic through an audio track or video that people either listen to or watch.  What's so great about podcasts and vodcasts are the audio and visual effects teachers and students alike can add to enhance their cast.  Earlier this year I had the chance to work with a great group of guys to generate a podcast about the benefits of co-teaching.  This was something new for me.  Normally, I don't particularly like new things but I found that I rather enjoyed making it and listening to my fellow classmates'.  I found it more enjoyable to listen to these podcasts than I have listening to someone give a speech.  Just think, if podcasts are so much more fun to present and listen to information, vodcasts would be even better. 

Perfection is key...

When giving a speech the speech giver is in the spotlight.  They don't have any aides other then their brain and maybe a slide show or note cards.  This tends to put a lot of unwanted pressure on the student.  Through presenting the material in a podcast or vodcast this pressure to find the write words is for the most part eliminated.  When students are given the time to put forth as much effort as they can into a project like this the results will blow your mind.  Why settle for a mediocre presentation that forces students into the spotlight in the wrong way when you can have your mind blown by a spectacular podcast or vodcast that gets the job done?  And, usually gets the job done in an even better way that allows the students to be creative and build their technological skills. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brain Overload: RSS try MESS


From flickr.com by:  redwinegums
 Contrary to what my title would suggest I do not have negative feelings for using RSS as a way of getting in touch with content on the Internet that appeals to you.  What I mean by how it is a mess is the way that I felt about it while first hearing of it. 

Earlier today I was doing my RWLD for class, as I am sure many of you know what I am talking about, and part of it discussed Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and how RSS relates to them.  For those of you who do not know what RSS is let me try my hand at explaining it to you.  Now, bear with me.  RSS is a way in which you receive information from places on the Internet that you follow on a regular basis.  Kind of like the following you would do on Twitter, but in this case it isn't short messages that originate on the same web source that you follow, but blogs, news sources, websites, etc.  Instead of you going out to each of these web sources and possibly finding nothing that pertains to your interests, through the use of RSS they will bring the sources to you.  This way you won't waste valuable time going to each of these web sources because they will already be in one place.  Usually, your iGoogle homepage.  After all, time is of the essence.  Were you able to follow that?  I hope so because I think that is the best that I can do.  For more information on, "What the Heck is RSS?" read this article.  This should already be familiar to all of my #eitf12 classmates. 

Now, back to the reasoning for my MESSed up title.  I find it messy because I was in the midst of hearing about all of these different computer application to make my online life easier.  Getting a crash course in all of these application like RSS really is no substitute for an indepth look into them.  Through brief interactions or crash courses you seem to be more inclined not to use them because you don't have the time to explore them and what they have to offer to fully understand them.  Take Twitter as an example.  I learned about it in one class period and never really looked back at it.  Now, after a more indepth look into it I use it a little more frequently and have a Tweet Deck to organize my tweets, who I follow, etc. 

From flickr.com by:  meli66a
Like RSS I have learned that in order to effectively use a new tool to for my own personal use or to use with my future students proper exploration and use is warranted for the proper implementation of it.  Otherwise, it will just go into the back of the closet never to be seen or heard from again until I stumble across it and dust it off.  Just think of how much time I could have had using that tool was wasted if that were to happen. 

Before I end I guess what I am trying to say is that in order not to get a MESSed up perspective of something new and unfamiliar you need to take the time to explore it.  Instead of doing what I always do and file it away because I don't understand it.  You never know if something is worth using unless you try it out and find out for yourself. 

Sometimes appearances do matter...

I know.  I know.  As we were growing up everyone who was close to us and cares about us has told us that we shouldn't care about appearances and that they don't matter.  To some degree they would be considered correct.  There are more important things in our lives to worry about than appearances.  Caring about others before ourselves, living life to its fullest, doing the right thing, yada, yada, yada.  Either way you get the picture I am trying to paint.  Despite what I have just said, what if appearance do matter regarding certain situations? 

Take this blog posting for instance.  Before anyone would read this post they have to first look at it.  So, while appearances don't always matter in reality they sometimes do.  If just depends on the context that you are examining it from.  For example.  What if you went to apply for a teaching job and you went wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants?  The principal most likely will not take you seriously and anything insightful that you might have had to say about your philosophy on teaching would not be heard.  This would be due to the fact that all they would be doing is seeing how you have portrayed yourself as a professional instead of hearing your amazing thoughts and ideas of incorporating technology into your classroom.  As I stated earlier, appearances do matter.  Sometimes. 

Let's say you went to this blog of mine and all you saw was black and white small print, no pictures, links, etc.  You wouldn't really be enticed to read the post no matter what the content may hold.  Earlier today I read Vicki Davis' blog (Cool Cat Teacher) and she really made me think about how the way you present the overall design of your post is just as important as the ideas and revelations that you will write about. 

Some quick tips include: 


From flickr.com by:  Charles Miller
1)  Spice up your post with pictures and images that enhance what you are trying to covey in your writing.  Remember to give credit to those images because lets face it more times than not those images that you use are not yours.  To find quick and easy images to cite use flickr.com and search for images under Creative Commons.  You can find images under the Creative Commons agreement when you do an advanced search.   

2)  Use bold print and italics for something important.  It will help the main ideas of your post pop out. 

3)  Give your post a sweet name.  Don't use something generic.  If it's generic then that will be the only part of your post that they will read.  A great title will really ring them in and want them to keep reading on until they reach, "until next time..." or "The End." 

4)  Get linked in.  No, not LinkedIN the social networking site.  What I mean is link what you are writing about to other resources or to the resources you mentioned in your blog.  Not only does this give credit to your sources, but it gives your readers even more bakground information on what you are discussing. 

In conclusion...

I have really learned a lot about how to make my posts enticing to not only read but to look at as well.  Blogs are an amazing resource to use.  They provide you with so many great professional resources, a community that will help you overcome obstacles you are struggling with, a great literary outlet to share your ideas on topics of interest, etc.  But, in order for this to happen you need to create a blog that will bring in this community of support.  If not, you will just end up having an online diary.  You may as well just stick with an old fashioned pen and paper. 

Looking back at my former posts I can only wonder why anyone would want to read something that looked so boring and generic.  Hopefully, moving on from this point forward I can change my behavior and entice my readers a bit  more than what I previously did.  And hey all of you readers out there, if I am not fulfilling this promise then leave me a slanderous comment and rebuke me for not going through with my word.  Just kidding.  But a helpful reminder and some constructive criticism would be nice. 

Until next time...remember appearances aren't always a bad thing. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

EIT Media-ography Introduction

My first assignment for my Emerging Instructional Technologies class was to create an introduction about myself to share with the class. Many times teachers give explicit instructions for how these types of assignments are to be done.  But, not in this case.  At first I wasn't sure what to do other than to write out a boring old paragraph.  Through exploration of different technology mediums I stumbled across this Little Bird Tales website where you can create a book using images, text, audio, and draw features.  It was so easy to use because it was set up so that young children can create their own books which I thought was awesome.  Check out my own tale that I created to give you a little more background information about myself.

http://www.littlebirdtales.com/tales/view/story_id/121080

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

eBooks in the Classroom Webinar (EXTRA CREDIT!)

Photo from flickr.com by Sean MacEntee
Lately, it seems that you see more eBooks, or electronic books for those of you who have never heard this piece of jargon before, than you see paperback books.  It almost seems quite possible that paperback books will become the thing of the past and eBooks will be the new form of book whether you are reading a book or magazine for pleasure or reading a textbook for class.  eBooks have become quite popular due to the fact that they are easy to use as well as easy to read.  They are books that are put on lightweight devices like Nooks, Kindles, etc. that you can carry around with you.  In just one eBook device you can hold several books.  This device would be extremely advantageous for college students because instead of carrying around several heavy books with them they could have several eBooks housed in one small and easy to use device.  I know what you are saying, if it is on an electronic device how could I highlight important passages?  Well, on these devices there are several tools you can use.  One of which is a highlighting device.  There is also a tool where you can add your own notes.  Something that is incredibly hard to do in the small margins of a paperback book.  Not only do you have all the content you need for several classes at the tips of your fingers, but all of the notes that accompany it together. 

Now, you may be asking yourself why would I take the time to blog about eBooks?  All they are is a book that you can read electronically.  Are they really of that importance?  What's so significant about them?  Well, just less than an hour ago I watched a webinar which is an audio of a lecture with screen captures to go with it.  This webinar was all about how anyone can make and eBook and publish it for the world to see.  In this webinar Anne Daughrity explained how she created and eBook about publishing eBooks.  How awesome is that.  What I thought was so awesome is that you can do this all on an iPad.  Isn't that amazing?  Just one little iPad can create and publish a book.  What a way to get your thoughts and views over something important to you out there for the world to see.  You don't even have to go through a publisher or anything.  It is all up to you.  Anyways, the point that Daughrity made with the video is that anyone at any age can make a book.  During this webinar she showed us how to accomplish this goal.  There are several apps that are available for you and your students to use when creating an eBook.  Two of these apps are Creative Book Builders and My Stories.  I found My Stories to be a great app because I would like to teach early elementary age children.  For more information about what this app has to offer visit this website.  It is important for teachers to know that if they are going to have their students create an eBook some apps are designed for older students while other like My Stories are more child friendly where even kindergartners can use them.  In fact Daughrity said that she was able to watch a kindergartner make an eBook and that the student didn't really need any help figuring out how to use the app.  This just goes to show that students are more aware of how things work more than we as adults give them credit for.  In these apps writing text isn't the only thing that you can do.  The creators of the eBooks can add photos and videos that they have made, attach links, create their own pictures or drawings, and add their own audio commentary.  This audio commentary would be very helpful for younger students because not all of these younger students have the capability of writing their story down into text for others to read. 

I think that these eBooks will have a great impact on learning and education.  As I stated before students are able to house all of their books on one easy to use device.  As I have noticed many times students don't have their books with them because they are heavy and don't want to bring them because they never know if they are going to use them or not in class.  Well, with these new eBook devices this shouldn't happen anymore.  The students will now always have their books on hand and more importantly the notes that I'm sure all college students will take with them.  You know what great students we are.  Extremely devoted to our studies.;)  Anyways, back to practical uses in the classroom.  By creating eBooks and publishing them the students will be empowered because what they created will be put out for the world to see.  Since these will be published the students will work harder because it will matter to them that other people will see these.  I know I worked really hard on my e-Portfolio because I knew perspective employers would be seeing it.  Other beneficial factors of publishing eBooks is that the students learn to collaborate with other students because more than likely these books will be made in groups in a classroom and through working in groups the students will be able to feed off of each other's ideas.  It has been seen that through the publication process the students' self-esteem goes up because they feel proud of what they have accomplished.  And why shouldn't they?  It's not everyday you can say you published your own book whether you can read it for free or not. 

When I am a teacher with my own class I hope to incorporate having my students make an eBook.  Instead of just writing a boring book report the students can create a miniature eBook of the book they read.  By the time I am a teacher all books may even be read on an eBook, so the students will make an eBook about an eBook.  How crazy is that?  Also, another thing that was mentioned in the webinar was that students with disabilities can make these eBooks as well.  If their literacy skills aren't very high they can use the audio tool to narrate their book instead of writing out the text.  Since I want to be a special education teacher this is a great resource to use.  The use of iPads for students with disabilities is a great resource for them to have.  For more information on iPads and special education visit this website to see how they can be use on a regular basis to foster learning.  I hope you enjoyed reading about how to make an eBook.  I know I have and can't wait to try it out!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Group's Final PBL

Photo from flickr.com by Geoffery Kehrig
Photo from flickr.com by Geoffery Kehrig
By the end of the semester my group planned out a portion of the first PBL that we created.  This PBL was about getting rid of labels in special education.  Due to the fact that each one of us aspires to become a special education teacher we found this topic to be of extreme importance.  By labeling special education students with negative stereotypes they are viewed as less worthy than other students that are supposedly "normal."  When this is done special education students seem to be pushed to the side and forgotten about because people don't expect as much from them.  To get rid of these harsh labels the purpose of our PBL is to show the world that students in special education are the same as everyone through making a video.  These personal story videos are what this part of our PBL was all about.  Before we just wrote a brief outline of the entire PBL.  This time we just wrote about the video that the students would be making, what technologies they would use to accomplish this, and so on.  When all was completed, at least completed with the hand written portion of the PBL I could not believe how much work it was.  There is so much planning and decision making in the creation of a PBL.  Even though so much work was put into just this tiny portion of the PBL I was very proud of myself by the end.  I felt really good about myself that I put so much work into creating something that is so worthwhile for my students.  From my own experience I would seriously recommend other educators at least try doing a PBL.  For more information on how to do so visit this website to get an overview of how to design one. 

Podcasts

During my Classroom Computer Applications course we had the chance to create our own podcast.  Prior to this assignment I did not have much background knowledge about what podcasts are.  All I really knew was that they were audio recordings about a specific topic.  When given this assignment I thought it would be really difficult to do because I had no idea how to put one together or what to include in it.  However, when my group and I started working on our co-teaching podcast it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  With the use of Garage band we were able to put our audio tracks and music together in an easy and efficient way.  After making this podcast I was able think of ways in which I could use it in a classroom.  Instead of having the students make a power point and come up the class to present it the students could just make a podcast instead.  If you want your students to make a podcast in your classroom, follow this detailed lesson outline

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Homeless Veterans Awareness

Today, I learned about homeless veterans and the various programs that are out there to help veterans that have found themselves in this situation.  These types of programs exist because of the harsh conditions that people that are homeless are faced with such as poor health, lack of food, etc.  Lastly, awareness of this issue was a big point that was made during the presentation.  We need to be aware that this is happening and do something about it.
To get this awareness out there for people and homeless veterans to see I posted information on a specific program on a poster.  For my poster I researched different programs that homeless veterans have offered to them.  One that stood out to me was the Drop-in Centers that the Homeless Veterans Fellowship program provides.  I really liked these centers because many homeless veterans are too proud to receive any benefits, so I think it is great that they have this center where they can come in, clean up, and have a variety of activities that they can participate in.  These activities are therapeutic and rehabilitative because many homeless veterans are in a tough place and they may need these types of emotional programs.  For more information on HVF and their Drop-in Centers visit:

http://www.homelessveterans.org/dropin.html#help



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Boundless Playground

Here is the playground I made from Google sketchup.  I was unable to export it so I just took a picture of the playground.  Sorry it is so small.  It has a jungle gym, tree house, fountain, hopscotch, a sandbox, and a playhouse.  I really liked using this software even though it was tough to get a handle on the how to use it.  If I were to do this again I would most definitely play around with all of the tools more and know what I was doing because from what I can see from my finished product it very disproportionate and not to scale.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Inspiration Glog

Today in Classroom Computer Applications class we learned about Glogsters. This was my first time hearing about this new technology and I had a lot of fun putting it together.  For those of you who have never created one before try it out and spread some inspirational words to people everywhere. 

To view my glog, click the link below:
http://www.glogster.com/mpotratz90/inspiration/g-6ljn438oshm3nnmvmrcjga0

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Using Interactive Whiteboards

Photo from flickr.com by Mr. Jay Yohe
Interactive whiteboards started coming into the classroom right around the time that I graduated from high school and started college.  I distinctly remember in my senior year math class this laptop that could be transformed into a tablet that my teacher could write on.  What she wrote on that tablet was transferred to the projector which projected what she wrote onto the screen for us to see.  While this isn't exactly an interactive whiteboard it was the closest thing to an interactive whiteboard that was used when I was a student.  Well, before college anyway.  When I came to college I saw a few Promethean boards here and there in my classrooms that were mounted up onto the whiteboards or in some cases the blackboards.  And no I am not joking I have still seen blackboards in the classroom and even more surprisingly the blackboards in the classroom were being used to teach.  Anyway, let's get back to the topic on hand.  For the most part these boards were not used.  Most likely this was due to the fact that they are relatively new and most people don't have much if any experience using them.  I myself am a technology education minor and have limited experience with using and understanding them.  In fact my first experience using one happened just less than a month ago when I was doing my Level III field experience.  While there I had the opportunity to teach the students using the classroom's Promethean board.  It was a little confusing at first, and truth be told I am still a little confused, but after a while I got the hang of it's most basic functions.  And do you know what I learned from this experience?  I really enjoyed using them.  Sure they were a hassle at first, but if you think about it anything is a hassle until you have enough practice with it.  I just wish that I had more time to explore all of the different functions that they have.  As I was using the board I would think about different things I could incorporate into my lessons using the boards.  Not only would are they beneficial to the teacher, but the students can use them too and more importantly they find it fun.  When you can incorporate fun into learning then you have found an effective way to teach.  There are a variety of practical things you can use interactive white boards for here is a website that explains some of those ways in which I have used them and how you can use them, too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lincoln Elementary School Visit

The week before Spring Break my class and I got the opportunity to visit a local elementary school to see how they infused technology into their classrooms.  This was Lincoln Elementary School in Cedar Falls. For more information about this school that I visit their school website.  Let me just tell you that it was amazing!  I mean I went into one first grade classroom and the students were working on these mini math activities that they did in place of yet another year of boring daily calendar work with an interactive white board that was projected onto a plain old dry erase board.  However, the amazing part wasn't that the teacher was using the board, but the students.  The students weren't just coming up to the board to put their two cents worth in, but they were actually running the activity.  The teacher was in the back working on other things and meeting with students while the class ran the math activities.  At first I was taken aback because they were first graders and the teacher was just letting them run the show.  I have always been taught with the teacher being front and center and delivering the lessons, but not at Lincoln.  A classmate of mine asked the teacher, "What if they get something wrong?"  She replied that the other students will speak up and fix what was done incorrectly.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing as well as what I was seeing.  The first graders can use the technology, the first graders, run the lesson, and the first graders correct any mistakes made while the teacher can work on other things.  Is this the model of the new 21st century schools or what?  I'm telling you we are at the dawn of a new age and it's time for future and present educators to jump on this band wagon before it leaves without us and we are left in the dust.  Yeah, the chalk dust.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Creating Collaborative Project

Photo from flickr.com by David Toccafondi
This past month my group and I had a chance to create a collaborative project.  In this case the correct term for this type of project is a Problem Based Learning project.  These types of projects are designed to be creative, collaborative, and almost completely dependent on the students rather than the teacher to develop the project and see that it is followed through.  Lately, school projects have been moved from being independently done to being done by a group.  Collaboration is a key component to getting this work and is not easy to implement.  I know that I have a difficult time collaborating with my group projects.  It may be easier just to have your students work independently, but in the long run group work will teach them skills they wouldn't be able to learn on their own.  To gain more insight into collaboration visit this website.  These types of projects are a huge step away from the usual teacher directed type of learning that has consumed education since basically the beginning of time.  Or at least since the institution of the educational system.  When we were first presented with this assignment to create a collaborative project my group and I struggled with the concept of creating a project that could go in many directions depending on the students' perception of the project.  The point of a PBL is for the students to come up with the direction of how they will go about solving the problem that is the basis of the project.  There are so many different directions that students can go that I think really tripped us up.  In class we have been taught to develop lessons that are planned out to a "T" that we were trying to incorporate that aspect of our education with creating this type of project.  We have been told that in order to have a great lesson you need to know how to start it, how it should develop, and how it should be closed.  But, in a PBL this is not the process.  You come up with a question or problem that is very broad and you just let the students run with it, relinquishing the control to the students.  After some discussion with our teacher we finally got the idea for how a PBL should look.  In the end I think we created a project that is not only creative and very collaborative, but a project that is based on something that is near and dear to my group's hearts.  This would be special education.  All three of us want to become special education teachers because we believe that all children can learn and that all children are able to live up to the same expectations.  In fact they can even exceed those expectations.  It's because many people don't think that special education students can live up to these so called expectations that this is why we created this project the way we did.  We wanted to show people that people with disabilities are just that people.  We wanted to get rid of the label that students with these disabilities have been put on them.  Overall, I think that through this project my group and I succeeded in doing just that and I would have loved to see this project be done in a real classroom than just speculating about it in theory.  Who knows?  Maybe one day this just might happen.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Global Learning Experience

This past week my college course instructor was unable to meet with us for class in person.  No, he wasn't sick our on vacation we all know that teachers don't ever get time for themselves to take a personal day or to even get sick.  He was at a conference about technology in the country of Jordan.  For those of you who don't know where Jordan is it is by the country of Saudi Arabia.  For those of you who don't know where Saudi Arabia is then you need to get yourself a map and possibly take a geography course because that's just embarrassing.  Most of the world's oil comes from this area and you should know where it is because we depend on it so much.  Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  Even though we were unable to meet in person we unfortunately had to Skype with the professor instead of just cancelling class like we should have done ;).  Just kidding!  Even though I did not know it at the time this was global learning.  Global learning is where you connect with people from all over the world.  I have never Skyped before and it was amazing that we could still hold class from thousands of miles apart.  Not only did we get to speak with our professor, but we got to speak with an Australian man that was at the same conference as our teacher.  To recap my experience we held class with our teacher who was in the country of Jordan while we were in Cedar Falls, Iowa in our classroom, we heard about what was going on in a place very far away from us, and spoke with a man from a place that is even farther away from us all in one quick and easy Skype session.  Before participating in this Skype session I didn't really see or even believe that this global learning could actually exist or even work.  But, because this experience was so amazing I am seriously considering using this approach in my future classroom.  I think that many students would be engaged in this process if it were used in a classroom.  This is something all teachers should consider using.  It may take some time to set up, but will be worth it in the end.  It was for me.  Well, that's all for now and don't forget to get a map if you don't know where Jordan or Saudi Arabia are. Oh, and if you want more information on global learning check out this blog.