Friday, November 20, 2009

Blog Turnover Entry C

I mentioned in Blog Turnover A that I felt Blogs had a useful that could possibly harnessed by teachers. I also mentioned that there were drawbacks or obstacles that teachers would need to overcome. Students are hard to motivate. We as teachers are giving students things that they may not see the benefit of until years down the road. This generation of students wants instant gratification. When you are dealing with this as a teacher, overcoming the motivation factor is your biggest obstacle. This obstacle shows itself in many forms and I believe it will again show itself in the form of a blog. A student who does not like to write, won't simply change his or her mind now that they get do it online. That same student however may love to spend countless time explaining and arguing with friends about why their basketball team is going to beat everyone else. I think that as teachers, our challenge with using blogs in the classroom first lies with trying to figure out how to align the students desire to talk (i.e. blog) about their basketball team and be educational at the same time.

Blog Turnover Entry B

The coolest feature(s) that blogging has to offer are the widgets or gadgets you can add on to your blog. I feel that this adds a certain level to the blog that might make the page more reader appealing. Sometimes going to a page with nothing but writing tends to leave a reader bored with the content. You have to be careful about adding too much gadgetry to the blog or you will lose the readers attention away from the main body. With some of the gadgets available, students can make their blogs more appealing to fellow students which may help with the issue I pointed out in Blog Turnover Entry A.

Blog Turnover Entry A

It's now time to start turning over the blog and I'm supposed to reflect on the usefulness of a blog. I have numerous ideas on the ways that a blog can be useful in a classroom. I've had students keep journals before to record their thoughts and experiences during a project. Blogging would be exceptionally useful when it came to pulling that concept into the 21st century. I've had students try to do cross-curricular activities and found that communication across the classrooms has been something difficult to overcome. Blogging could be a useful tool in that endeavor as well. The most surprising thing to me about a blog is the effort it takes to get people to use one. If you find the right subject matter for people to blog about, meaning they almost voluntarily try and blog, then it's almost like getting students to text. But if you try and make people blog on something, maybe something they are not keenly intrigued by, it is very difficult for people to give you honest and sincere entries into the blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

PBL Group Lessons

For the PBL project our group was expanded by one member. She has worked with us all extremely well and I think I speak for the group when I say that it was a pleasure having her join us. The following are brief descriptions of each group members lesson activities that when all relate in some way to the overall project of Fantasy Baseball and Mathematics:

Bethany: students would be "the dream team." We would take a trip over to the baseball field, "suit up" (the bball coach is the P.E. coach at the elementary school), and hold a "practice." During practice students would engage in basic fundamental agility-type practice activities. During the practice, students would measure and record:
1) the number of steps from one base to another
2) how far they can throw a baseball
3) how far they can slide
4) the weight of a baseball, bat, and glove
AND in the spirit of being a big leaguer...
5) how far they can spit sunflower seeds (cute, I know) :)
After practice, students will create a graph using the data they've collected. Pictures (a hopefully a couple of short video clips) of the practice will be compiled that the students will narrate (explain their actions in the pictures) with some fun, cute comments thrown in,
MovieMaker aspect would almost be secondary since the kids couldn't complete it independently. The graphs they will complete using Microsoft Word will be included in the MovieMaker project as well. This would address Measurement and Data and Probability standards from 3rd to 5th grade.

Zena:"Explore The Diamond": English to Metric System Conversion of MLB Stadium Home Plate to Center Field Distances. Students will choose a stadium and a character (their favorite baseball player or it can be themselves), create a CL of the character batting down the center field. They will be asked to display on the CL distance of their chosen stadium in feet and meters. Excel Chart Wizard will be used to compare CF distances of 3 stadiums that the student chooses using both.

Jane: The learning activity Fantasy Baseball Math Broadcasts provides an engaging way for students to speak both clearly and concisely about their content learning in math class and thereby further their comprehension of mathematics. Fantasy Baseball Math Broadcasts also provides an opportunity for students to develop their writing skills, public speaking skills and spoken vocabulary.

Leah: Research indicates that using sports in the classroom helps to increase student motivation in the classroom. This was one reason for implementing this project- to help increase student motivation in math. My lesson was developed to show that fantasy baseball can be implemented in the lower grade levels and vary across subjects. Fantasy baseball does not have to be carried out in the upper level math classes. My lesson proves this, and was developed for second grade in a reading or language arts classroom.

Cliff: Media and technology students will be filming the draft night and edit the footage to create the feel of an ESPN type broadcast. Students will engage in standards that require the use of technologies like: MovieMaker, iMovie, Garageband, and others.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

GAETC

I recently presented at the Georgia Educators Technology Conference in Atlanta, GA. My co-presenter and I felt that both of our presentations went extremely well, but we are always looking for feedback.

The two presentations were titled:
1) Fifty Great Websites and Technologies for Teachers
2) Work Smarter not Harder

The first presentation seemed to go over really well and will probably be delivered again next year with the proper upgrades.
The second presentation provided some difficulty due the diversity of the audience as it pertains to their usage of certain technologies.

We are looking for feedback or suggestions for upcoming conferences about what people would like to see, i.e. should we do a workshop instead of a presentation geared more toward a specific technology or should we present more in depth ways of using several technologies. Please offer any suggestions you may have as well as any new pieces of technology or websites you think people should know about.

Thank you for your time!

PBL Article Review

Teaching mathematics, I've noticed that students have difficulty with being able to visualize basic concepts and fundamentals. Not being able to do so makes recalling the operations needed to solved a problem that requires the use of these fundamental concepts. The new Georgia Performance Standards for math are theoretically designed to utilize an array of teaching pedagogy in order to allow students to connect mentally to the operations they are using. This article talks about the use of visual and nonvisual learning methods and how students readily adapt to the ways they are taught, if done at an early age. The concept of using fantasy baseball and mathematics supports the ideology that students perform better on fundamental mathematical skills when they can associate them with a visual memory.



Lowrie, T., & Kay, R. (2001). Relationship between visual and nonvisual solution methods and difficulty in elementary mathematics. The Journal of Educational Research, Mar/Apr 2001, Vol. 94 no4.

Friday, November 6, 2009

PBL Introduction

As project leader for this assignment, I have brought the proposal to the table about a project that my school is going to attempt to implement this spring. With Mathematic's scores being such a hot topic issue in the state during the past few years. My school is going to try fantasy baseball and mathematics to help promote active project based learning for grades 3-12 in the areas of mathematics. One advantage of the project is that is has shown to have success not only with the students but also with involving parents in their children's education. We plan to implement the use of blogs with this project as a way for students to share what they have learned, news about their teams, and reach out to other schools or students who may be competing as well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

B9: Digital Storytelling Reflection

I rather enjoy doing this type of project. I think that if I had the proverbial option of doing things again with the knowledge I now possess, I would have gone to school to be a movie director or producer. I love the art of storytelling through cinematography. I think that the biggest challenge I face as a teacher and being able to utilize this tech in my class is the one of finding interesting enough stories to tell about math.
The flip side of that is that it may force my students to be creative and not just be content with the material I produce for them. If I lay down the challenge to them of making them either watch my boring material or create their own. I hope they would rise to the challenge and out do me.
I had a little trouble with coming up with new material just for this project. My previous classes have had me do similar projects and I'd all but used my material on those classes. After several failed attempts and several attempts that didn't please the creative side of myself, I decided to do digital storytelling inside of digital storytelling and add another layer to the project. I encountered only minor issues after that and was able to turn out a project that was somewhat acceptable in my mind. I realized through all of this that I have grand visions of what I would like to create which leads me to disappointment when I see the final product doesn't measure up.

A great link to information on integrating digital storytelling in the classroom is:
http://its.ksbe.edu/dst/
It also provides examples and plenty of guides and articles on the best uses of digital storytelling.

Monday, October 19, 2009

B8: Flexibility of Teachers

This is definitely something that I could agree with when it comes to the classroom and how a teacher needs to be prepared. Things can and will go wrong and as a teacher I find it challenging as well as exciting to have to adapt and change at a moments notice. "Chance favors the prepared." This is a quote that I have always tried to follow. Essentially the teacher who prepares for alternative plans is the teacher who is one step closer to becoming a great teacher. I constantly find that things happen even to the best laid plans and if I haven't prepared or thought of an alternative for just such a case, then I will be at the mercy of the students.

Boss, S., & Krauss, J. (2007). Reinventing project-based learning. Washington, D.C.: International Society for Technology in Education.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

B7: Ely's Conditions of Change and Webster's Smartboards

Below are Ely's (1999) eight conditions and how they are or are not being followed and why it effects Webster's ability to properly integrate the Smart boards into the classroom:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the status quo: The newly hired Superintendent wanted Webster to move into the 21st Century with it's educational procedures so that the school can better prepare the students for working in the current and ever changing job market. This led to a use of a grant and purchase of Smartboards for all high school classrooms.
  2. Sufficient knowledge and skills: Teachers in the secondary grade level are NOT properly trained at using the new technology. However, the purchase of the Smartboards was also supposed to come with training by the company. This has not been done as of today. Some of the teacher's boards aren't even installed properly and therefore they can't even try and teach themselves the necessary skills for implementation.
  3. Availability of resources: Boards are provided in each rooms of teachers in the secondary grade level.
  4. Availability of time: With furlow days being something that all school systems are having to deal with, professional development has been cut to a bare minimum. This also means time allotted during the day for teachers to be trained by a fellow staff member who may have enough of the skills and knowledge to aid others in learning how to implement the boards into their lessons.
  5. Reward or incentives: To date, I have not seen the use of rewards for encouraging teachers to take their own time to implement the new technology into their classrooms. I still see where the standards based classroom layout is being forced on teachers with no use of incentive. I wouldn't think that the implementation of technology would be done any different.
  6. Participation: Some teachers are asked their input on ideas and uses for the new technologies, but then the participation concept is forgotten and done by the administrator's way with know sign or hint of the suggestions brought forth by the teachers who will have to actually use the technology in their classrooms and their lessons.
  7. Commitment: The teaching staff is eager to use the new technology and has pledged the time it will take to learn the uses, but it now seems that other tasks take precedent over the implementation of the new technology. It seems that the commitment of the teachers isn't enough to encourage the training needed before the second half of the year approaches.
  8. Leadership: The leadership qualities and characteristics of the administration isn't being called into scrutiny. Many of the teachers support and appreciate the support shown by the administration. What seems to be the case is that the admin are having to "put out so many fires" left from the last administration that they can't turn their focus to their own.

References:

Ely, D. P. (1990). Conditions that facilitate the implementation of educational technology innovations. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 23 (2), 298-305.

Ely, D. P. (1999). New perspectives on the implementation of educational technology innovation.

Monday, October 5, 2009

B6: Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling just means that an ancient art has now been modified one more time. Storytelling is among man's oldest art forms. Many of the hymns, myths, legends, and historical events have been passed down from generation to generation through the ages by means of storytelling. Fire is one of the first technological improvements that allowed storytelling to move into another format. Around this time, was the use of cave paintings or carvings.
Jump forward a few thousand (or million depending upon your view) years and we now have moved past several other technological advances, i.e. pencil, paper, printing press, to an age where we now are able to tell our stories and immediately have them heard by millions of people around the world.
With such a powerful tool at our disposal, how could education not jump into the fray and start using this latest advancement in the quest to educate the youth. The big question is how long is the life of digital. Archeologists are still finding new cave paintings. In thousands of years, will the same be said for our digital stories?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Comic Life Article Review

Reading about comic life opened up several new ideas that I had not previously had about ways of engaging students. Normally when I have try to integrate a project into my classroom, I can't get other teachers to buy into the idea of expanding it into other content areas. With comic life, it shows the potential for being a great mechanism for allowing my projects to expand to other teachers and their content areas.
Teaching secondary mathematics means using Comic Life to engage students for different reasons that it would on an elementary grade level. Where a teacher might use Comic Life in the lower grade levels to "...help early readers connect words with pictures," (2007). On the secondary grade levels we teachers are often trying to get our students to reconnect with the learning. At this age students are wanting to express their creativity in various ways and Comic Life allows teachers to helps students do just that.

Thacker, C. (2007). How to use comic life in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.macinstruct.com/node/69

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Comic Life

This is a great program that can be used for just about any content area. I chose to create my project for an athletic banquet in hopes that it would give something new instead of the tired old slideshow with tearful songs. Unfortunately, Comic Life costs to purchase. However, it can be purchased on the individual level and/or site licenses can be purchased. The price isn't that bad for the amount of things you can do with it. Check out the website: http://plasq.com/comiclife-win
Here's one of my examples:



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

True Project Based Learning

I'm about to begin a project based learning approach in my Secondary Mathematics classroom and would appreciate some input or ideas for possible road blocks that I can already see in the future. In math classrooms most students want to sit and watch the teacher work the problem. Any time collaborative learning or group learning is introduced into the classroom (and I do this on a slow gradual basis) most students still will not make an effort in trying to solve the problems or build on the old ideas. I can't even get the gifted students to make an effort towards trying something new, that they may possibly not understand. They just want to simply sit there and wait for me to come and explain step by step what to do. This is just as beneficial as the process above. How do I get my students to go from passive learners to active learners when it comes to math?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Working Definition

Integrating technology into education is the process of utilizing any piece of technology in the education of students. Technology is everything from the paper the students are supposed to bring. It is the pencils they forgot to bring to class. And it is also the iPod touch used by a teacher to help students plan for their next year at college. Many people look at integrating technology as something that is new to education. But the fact is any advancement in the tools we use can be defined as technology. Up until this point in our society, teachers have been able to stay current with the technology as it progressed. Therefore, they were able to adequately integrate technology into their lessons. However, we now live in exponential times where the progress of technology has far exceeded teachers’ abilities to not only learn it for themselves but to properly integrate that technology into the learning environment. In conclusion, integrating technology into education is not something that will be done one day but something that has always been a part of education and hopefully always will be.