digital_nation: my thoughts

The Frontline video we were assigned to watch for class was very interesting and I highly suggest you check it out if you have not seen it yet! After just watching the first chapter “Distracted by Everything” I had a lot of thoughts pop into my brain (but I encourage you to watch the whole thing…it’s really interesting!) The people interviewed in the video talked about how not many years ago, the whole world was different! I especially liked when the woman said when she went on vacation, she simply did not know anything that went on while they were gone because they did not have cell phones! These days it almost feels like people go on vacation just to be able to take pictures and share it on social media! We are no longer living in the moment; we are living in our phones and social media, which is really kind of sad.

When it got to the MIT portion of the video, I felt like I was taken right back into my college classes! Seeing as though I just graduated from college not even a year ago, I could definitely relate to those students. I know we think that we are capable of multitasking, but one of my psychology professors informed us that there is in fact no such thing as multitasking… I know I love having my laptop in front of me during a lecture because I could catch up on e-mails, browse Pinterest and other social media, and work on some homework! As much as I loved having access to all of that, I hate to say it but clearly there was no way I was fully paying attention to what my professor was saying during those lectures.

What college classes used to look like….

…compared to what college classes look like now!

Look at the image I posted right above…you can see that none of the students are looking at the same thing on their screens. I see pictures of a baby, random video websites, social media sites, etc; none of which seems to relate to what the professor has posted in the front of the lecture hall!

I can imagine how difficult it would be for a professor to stand in front of a room full of students and watch them all stare at their screens rather than engaging in the lesson! I actually feel bad for them when it feels like they’re begging students to participate because they know no one is paying attention. However, if a lesson is interesting enough, students will want to pay attention! Although I wasn’t happy about it, I found that I really did learn a lot more when my teachers had a no laptop/cell phone policy in their class. I was forced to focus on them and what they had to say. I also found that handwriting my notes actually helped me to retain the information a lot better than when I type them. I can type so quickly that I end up simply copying down exactly what the teacher provided on the slides, rather than actively processing what is being presented and writing it in my own way.

 

As a student, I loved being able to use my devices during class, but as a teacher I don’t think I would allow it! I think in order to actually teach students, we need everyone to be actively engaged and have conversations and discussions with each other. I think there should be certain times to allow technology in the classroom, like when the teacher knows it will actually enhance the students learning, rather than hinder it. I definitely see the benefits of using technology and I am a huge tech fan! But like I said, teachers should plan certain times and occasions for using mobile devices rather than allowing students to use them at all times. I just think it’s too much of a distraction, because I myself get distracted!

 

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Flipped Lesson!

For my ED554 class, we were assigned the task of creating our own flipped lesson plan! I was nervous about this assignment because I’ve never made one before, but once I started working on it I realized I was nervous for no reason! I used Google Presentations to create my lesson and then used QuickTime on my MacBook to capture my screen and record my voice over top. I created a lesson on the Seasons for first graders. I hope you enjoy it! If you have any advice or feedback about how to make it better, I would really appreciate it!

I would ask my students to fill out the following worksheet for morning work when they come to school the next day, to verify that they watched the video for homework.

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Helpful and Influential Tweets

I have really enjoyed using Twitter for educational purposes. The tweets that stick out to me are the ones directed towards new teachers. Since I have only just begun my journey of becoming a teacher, I find it helpful to read any tips and suggestions for new teachers. @WeAreTeachers is one of the best accounts I follow, because they have a ton of helpful ideas for all types of teachers.

Just listening to a 2 minute video clip with tips for new teachers opened my mind to a whole trail of ideas. I would recommend all new teachers or student teachers to watch the above video!

Another tweet from @WeAreTeachers about educational platforms for creating online course content. I found this article to be helpful, especially for us #ED554 students who are designing Flipped Classroom lesson plans. It gives a list of different websites and tools to use for designing online course content. Very helpful!

Like I said before, I like to read any advice for new teachers! This article discusses a few Dos and Don’t for early teachers and I found a lot of them very helpful. I enjoyed reading tips in this type of format because it’s easy to refer back to it and think about each one carefully.

I hope you all are finding Twitter to be as helpful as this future teacher is!

Clash Over Tech in the Classroom

 

After reading a MindShift article titled “Schools and Students Clash Over Use of Technology” I was left with the feeling once again that cell phones do not need to be used in the classroom. Although the article tried to get reasons why phones should be used, I was not convinced. This article related to my previous post about the Speak Up report, and confirmed my thoughts and feelings about the issue at hand.

The article claims that students are using Facebook for educational purposes like collaborating on school projects. That is great! But why do students need to collaborate over Facebook while they are literally in the same building as their collaborators? Facebook and other social media sites are great supplement tools where students can continue their collaborating outside of the school walls.

Will students use cell phones for educational purposes?

 

 

Or will they become a distraction?

Also, why do students need their phones to access Facebook? Most schools have computers, laptops, and tablets for the students to use. I do think that teachers should have control over what sites they block in their classes. That way, if a teacher assigns a project that somehow requires the use of Facebook or Twitter, then the students can access these websites and be monitored.

I still believe that students are claiming they would use their cell phones for educational purposes, but in reality, they are going to be texting and browsing social media while their teachers are trying to teach them. Perhaps teachers could have control over when their students are allowed to use their phones, rather than it becoming a school wide policy.

I do think technology is important for students to use and I will embrace this revolution! However, I think there is a time and a place for cell phone use and in my opinion, that decision should be left to the classroom teacher.

The New Digital Learning Playbook: My Reaction

After reading the latest report from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2013 Student Survey, a lot of thoughts popped into my mind. I understand that we are involved in a technology revolution and essentially everything we do involves technology and the internet these days. However, I think it’s important that we use technology to enhance learning, not replace it. I agree that it makes sense for students to have similar experiences both in and out of the classrooms, but it’s also not necessary to completely revamp the classroom to accommodate for this.

When I looked at the surveys, I noticed majority of students wanted access to their phones and social media while in school. When I see that, I think that students want this to be able to text their friends and browse Facebook or Instagram while sitting in class. I can’t imagine students want access to their phones in order to look up academic material and enhance their learning. I was a high school student not too long ago and I can say from personal experience that students are using their phones to text their friends. We were not allowed to have our cell phones out during the school day, or they would get confiscated. Some teachers would allow us to use them in class after we finished an assignment. As annoying as this rule was a student, I can’t imagine teaching to a class full of kids staring at their phones. I think this is completely counterproductive, no matter what students claim to be doing on their phones.

What I imagine a classroom to look like if students are allowed to use their phones.

I’m not saying I don’t think technology should be incorporate into classrooms. I personally love technology and I stay updated on all the latest products and social media apps. I have seen the benefits of students using iPads for various activities and it’s awesome to see it come so naturally to young people. There are a ton of educational applications available on the tablets that can really benefit students. However, I also think they cause distraction and some students don’t stay on the app they’re supposed to playing. I have subbed in classrooms where I constantly had to remind the students that we are using the math app and not just having free time. I guess this is a reoccurring theme, whether the use of technology is involved or not. I think technology in schools is essential and very exciting, but there are always going to be problems with it as well.

With that being said, I will embrace technology in my classroom to a certain extent. I will use tools that are helpful to me like Smartboards and document cameras. I think these are amazing pieces of technology that have truly changed the definition of the “traditional classroom.” Since I hope to work with young students in 1st or 2nd grade, I hopefully won’t have to worry about cell phone distractions and things like that. (Maybe I will since the age of children getting cell phones seems to be rapidly decreasing!) Since my students will be young, I will be helping them learn how to use a lot of new technology that they might not be familiar with. At the beginning of a school year, I am going to send home a survey asking parents what type of technology is used in the home and what they let their children have access to. I think by gathering this type of information that I will be able to better adjust my classroom to fit the needs of my students. If I find that all of my students are tech-wizards on iPads, then I will do my best to incorporate them into my lessons and also give them supplement activities and app suggestions for them to look at at home. I’m sure my means of instruction will change dramatically from the time I start my career to the time it’s over. Who knows what new technology will be invented and who knows how it will impact our classrooms? I’m looking forward to finding out!

What Teacher Educators Don’t Teach You

 

I was exploring the website BAM! Radio for some helpful educational podcasts. I came across one titled “New Teachers: Three Things They Didn’t Teach You in Education School.” Any time I come across a title that has “new teachers” in it, I immediately click on it. Any tips I can get about becoming a teacher I read (or listen to), whether I plan to implement them in my own classroom or not. Thanks to the wonderful world of internet, there are truly endless resources out there for teachers, both old and new!

In this podcast, Dana Dunnan, author of Notes to a New Teacher, shared some of his thoughts and ideas for new teachers. He thought that he knew everything there possibly was to know about teaching, but as a new teacher he ran into some unknowns. Dunnan said he made a few mistakes when he began his teaching career. First, he thought he was too showy in his Stanford attire because he made people feel uncomfortable. I’m assuming that I will have a dress code at the school I will work for, so I’m not sure how often I’d be able to come to school decked out in my collegiate gear. Even so, I’ll keep his tip in mind since it’s never a good idea to make people uncomfortable, especially my new coworkers. Dunnan also said he didn’t join a teaching union right away, which he regrets big time. He suggests joining them right away, and then deciding later on whether or not it’s helpful for you. Lastly, Dunnan felt he got burnt out on teaching because he approached it with such a high level of energy. He compares teaching to a marathon, not a sprint. The school year is long and it’s important to maintain a certain level of energy throughout the entirety of the year.

Dunnan gave a couple of discipline tips, which included trying to anticipate the reaction you’d get out of a student when using a certain technique. Another tip was to let the student feel they have some sense of control over the situation and give them a choice between two consequences. This saves some of their dignity, according to Dunnan.

Dunnan highly suggests bringing in as many guests to your class as you can find. He found that walking up to someone and asking them to come talk to his students worked way better than sending a generic e-mail. The worst the person is going to do is say “No.”

A problem with teaching that Dunnan ran into was evaluations. The things evaluators come up are not always that helpful and do not always need to be implemented. Most of the time they suggest things because it is their job to come up with suggestions. Instead, the evaluators should help set reasonable expectations for teachers.

When asked about how to prepare for the first day of school, Dunnan suggested to instead look at the first couple days of school. The first couple of days is where the teacher has to set a lot of the routines and convey to the students the level of expectations. It is also crucial to give the students a sense of the culture of your classroom. There is a lot you may not have learned in school and you actually will learn more from the teachers who have been at that school for a while. I think it’s a great idea to start the year building strong relationships with coworkers and finding a few that will help you make your first year of teaching really successful.

I think that podcasts are definitely a great way of learning, but I don’t think it has the capacity to replace teachers and schools all together. I think there are ways to incorporate podcasts into the school setting as a supplement exercise. The convenience of them are very appealing, since you can listen to podcasts virtually anywhere. It’s also convenient for students to be able to listen to things over again, especially when working on homework or projects outside of school. I think podcasts would be an excellent resource for teachers to leave for substitutes. This ensures that a lesson is being taught in the way you anticipated. However, I think students of all ages need in class time with a teacher in order to fully grasp a concept. I find it easier to lose focus when just listening to a lesson, rather than actually watching someone talk. I am interested to learn more about podcasts and to see how exactly they are being used in different types of classrooms.

Math Class Revamp

In this TedTalk, Dan Meyers gives his reasons for why he insists that the math curriculum needs updating. Meyers makes a lot of good points and seems to really know what he is talking about. I think his students are lucky to have him as teacher and I hope that there are more educators like him out there. Meyers believes that the way we teach math in the U.S. assumes that the students will remember it. Clearly that is not the case, as our math scores compared to other countries around the world are drastically low.

Meyers gave 5 points about why the way we teach math is hurting our students:

1. Lack of initiative

2. Lack of perseverance

3. Lack of retention

4. Aversion to world problems

5. Eagerness for formula

Meyers talked about how the way our math textbooks are set up are functionally equivalent to turning on Two and a Half Men and calling it a day. No problem worth solving is that simple. A student could read the entire textbook and think they learned math, when in reality they just learned how to decode the book. The way the text is setup is not practical for real life application. I completely agree with him on this. The problems in math textbooks are usually completely irrelevant to our lives. How are we supposed to find an interest and connect to something that has no impact on our life?

Meyers really tries to instill in students a belief that math makes sense of the world. To get them to believe that, he turns textbook problems into real world applications. Meyers said that “math serves the conversation. Conversation doesn’t serve the math.” He has students that feel intimidated by mathematical equations and will never join in on a conversation for the fear of misunderstanding. When Meyers turns the problems into real life activities, he gets students talking that never spoke up before. Using various forms of multimedia, he was able to turn a textbook problem about how much water it takes to fill up a tank, into actually having students watch a water tank get filled. He took away all the sub-steps that the textbook asked, and asked the simple question of “what matters here?” The funny thing Meyers pointed out was the fear of checking whether the tank filled up with the same amount of water that the answer key had listed in the back of the book. Did the practical add up to the answer key? I think this is a brilliant way of teaching students, because if they can see a problem come to life, then they will be able to make some sort of connection to it. If only there were ways to do this for every textbook problem!

By explaining math in ways like this, he found his students were no longer averse to world problems. Meyers suggests to use multimedia, ask the shortest question you can, let the students build the problem, and be less helpful. The textbook is helping us as teachers in all the wrong ways.

Meyers said that with our technologically advanced world, we have the tools to create a higher curriculum and he believes that people are hungry for this! With teachers like Dan Meyers, we should all insist on a better math curriculum.