Saturday, May 5, 2007

Teaching Students' The Way They Were Meant To Be Taught

My classmates have been discussing playing favorites in our schools. With all of us there seems to be a few students or a student in each of the classes we are in who really want our attention whether its academic need or not. It’s hard when you think of having students with special needs in your classroom especially if you aren't provided with help, which is a lot of teachers who I have observed, are dealings with. I have already mentioned in a previous blog that I see the benefits of technology to use with students with special needs, March 23rd, this student's work was just as impressive or more impressive then his classmates work. Talking with my classmates we were concerned with taking too much of our time to direct instruction to those with special needs and feel sometimes we are taking away instruction from the other students. But Last Monday we were exposed to a pretty great virtual Monday with Karen Janowski. She really believes in Universal Learning Design, which is learning to teach all students no matter what their disability. She gave us so many resources and more importantly free resources to help our students with. These tools like the enlarged tool bar and color-coordinated writing that can be added in Microsoft Word allow all of our students to be on a level playing field when using the computer. These students can be doing the same project with adaptations to help their learning style that allows classroom instruction and assignments to be fair to all students regardless of their disability. These tools will be great like a tool that creates flash cards, speech to text, and many more free tools. I learned from her presentation that helping the students that need help more help is not about playing favorites its about helping a student learn.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tapped In!

This semester I was so lucky to be apart of my EDUC 330 class. We were exposed to many different people on the online community, learned how to use technologies we had never heard of, and found out we had more talents when it came to using technology then we had thought. One of the most memorable experiences in this class, however, was our mentorship that we had in tapped in. Tapped in which is a gated online community where in our group of tech-enhanced learning members responded to threads about education. I was so scared on my first few posts to write anything because I was afraid that my opinion wouldn't be accepted or people would disagree with what I had to say. Basically I didn't want to cause controversy in my posts. My hesitations didn't change until I set up a thread about Multiple Intelligences and experienced educators had different opinions about the Multiple Intelligences Theory put forth by Howard Gardner. Educators on both sides of accepting the theory had links and facts to back up their opinion. I came to the realization that this experience in tapped in is for the collaboration of ideas and points of view. Posting wasn't about being right or wrong, which is something I have carried though from my elementary and secondary schooling. Which needs to change!!!! Being honest and willing to share your ideas I found to be way more beneficial for myself posting and reading posts. I learned how to articulate my thoughts better, and felt confident in my ideas from them being supported and more important learning how to improve or enhance them! I was exposed to many sides of arguments that go on in the education world that I never even thought of. I don't want to go into too much detail of what was discussed to preserve the importance of our thread not being available for the public to read, but each post of mine and every thread I read was beneficial and important to me. I realized what a special opportunity being involved in this community really was. I was exposed to new ideas, new ways of thinking about education issues or issues in general, expanded my resources and tools to use for the classroom, and enhanced my perspective of education. I really hope that the threads continue, because I have learned a lot from the experience as I hope others have as well!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Why I love the teaching profession so far

We live in a cutthroat society today that to be the best you need to out perform other to get to the top. All through school my classmates competed and fought over grades to be better then the next person, not to learn but to win. The same goes in the business world where to get to the top you need to be cut throat and competitive, or at least that is what it seems like to me. In so many professions competition to be the best and out perform others is what is required. I was never a competitive person when it came to school so I knew a competitive profession would not be for me. What I was most pleasantly surprised about teaching is there are so many people who are willing to help you become the best you can be and to have the greatest impact on the students you teach. It is not that teachers don't want to be the best, but the difference seems to be is they all help each other to be the best they can possibly be. I think it was said that village is needed to raise a child; well the same goes for teaching students from my experiences so far. From my helpful classmates who have shared their ideas about teaching certain topics or helping students, to the online community from tapped in and those who have commented on my blog. Even with my cooperating teacher and student teacher in my class I did my practicum in, they gave lots of ideas and suggestions throughout the semester and the greatest compliment that I have received they wanted my lesson plans too! I love the willingness to collaborate and work together to bring a better education to our students. The students we teach today are so much luckier then we ever were because the online community expands the amount of teachers that can influence each other. An examples being teachers creating wikis to share ideas, information, and resources with teachers that are in different states or countries! There are many more examples about all of the wonderful resouces teachers have created to help others in their profession. This community of teachers makes you feel like you are not alone when you are starting something new, when the rest of the world seems to be caught up in competition.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Technology Lesson

Today I taught my lesson plan which integrated technology. I was my first time teaching an entire class and it went really well. I was put at ease right away when the students walked back from lunch and saw the projector on for the lesson they got so excited. Even one of the girls said, "cool we get to use the projector today!" The students were engaged and ready for the lesson before they even took off their coats. Which took away a lot of my initial nervousness. The lesson was for a first grade class dealing with fractions, one half, one fourth, and one third. First we reviewed what the fractions were and what they meant. Then we did a Kidspiration activity with grouping fractions as a class. I created this activity on Kidspiration 2 software the students had pictures of three fractions and there was one fraction that didn't belong. The students had to pick the fraction that was different and move it into another box. I thought the activity was very good it was clear because the students understood the process right away. I think I did a good job engaging and keeping the rest of the class into the activity when the one student was doing the problem, we only had the one computer. I did this by asking the rest of the class what fractions are in the big box and then asking what fraction was now in the little box. My cooperating teacher said that I did a good job of asking questions and I was very enthusiastic and thought I did a great job. One thing I need to work on is having students justifying their answers even if they are right. I did the classic teacher response that I disliked through my school years, only questioning them about their answers when they were wrong. I noticed I did this when I was at the last question and realized that I didn't make any of the students who got it right initially to justify their answer. So I finally asked the student to justify her answer even though it was right. For next time, I need to remember to always make the students justify their answer to increase their learning. We have learned about it again and again in class to always have the students justify their answer if it’s right or wrong because it increases learning and confidence. I was so nervous and so relieved that they got the answer right that I just completely forgot about making them justifying their answers. My teacher said not to worry too much and that good questioning will come with time and experience. Overall I think my first real teaching experience went well and I learned a lot and I am looking forward to next time when I can improve my question asking.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Games for change?

Besides being an Elementary Education major I also major in Psychology and I am especially interested in prevention science. This semester I am volunteering in a pre-school, which is a prevention program for at risk students. Being involved with the young students makes me realize how important earlier prevention programs are for students. I have seen a lot of presentations that show programs like Al’s Pals and other programs are implemented in the curriculum for younger students. These students that I work with are lucky that they receive this type of education and attention, but I always think what about the students that are not labeled at risk. What happens to the normal child that can slip through the cracks and don’t get the prevention they need. These prevention programs seem to take a lot of time and energy by the teacher and the students are not always responsive to the programs. So I was thinking during the presentation that we had with Mark Wagner who talked about video games for change. How neat would it be to have students play some video games to foster the qualities that prevention programs promote?

In our technology class we are talking about changing education for the future, learning how to problem solve and deal with issues isn’t on just a school level anymore it’s a larger issue. I realized this after reading Anne Davis blog
about online bullying. I am sure there is probably no substitute for teachers conveying students the importance of respecting others autonomy on and offline, but in a digital age where we are all connected it could be worthwhile to teach acceptance, and respect through video games.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Observing Technology in the Classroom

We learn so much about all of the different types of technology that can be used in the classroom but after observing a few weeks I did not see any of the technology that we had talked about in class. After learning about creating movies using imovie in class last week it was interesting and exciting to see this technology being used in a classroom I observed. In this particular class I observed made habitat movies. They had pictures and a few words on the video with their voice recording telling about their animal and the habitat it lives in and the adaptations it made to live in the specific habitat. The videos were really well done and they seemed to learn a lot from making their own video and watching their classmates, because when they were quizzed about their content they really knew the information.

What was the neatest thing for me to see was there was a student in the class that had a few disabilities. I thought it was so neat how well his project was done. Using this technology of making a video really seemed to suit his learning style and the limitations he had. Now I can see how important technology can be for students like him, he could present what he learned in a technological fashion allowing him to learn and do the same projects as his classmates. I also took this as an important lesson for having lots of assessment and teaching methods to reach all types of learners. After watching this lesson and learning about making movies in class this week, I am starting to think that maybe implementing technology in the classroom might be more doable then I thought.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Response to Preparing to Teach with Technology

The article that I decided to read for class is Preparing to Teach with Technology by Mary Hatwood Futrell. This article begins with a high school teacher talking about the first computer lab she had in her school. She talked about how she didn't think students would become interested in technology and when they did like technology the students that new it better taught teachers and other students. Mary noticed that the students really took to having computers in their classroom. In George Washington's School of Education the pre service teachers are required to be proficient in teaching technology to their students and have a electronic portfolio before graduated. A lot like what we have to do here at William and Mary in our technology class! At George Washington they have electronic classes from teachers of the main campus to other campuses in the surrounding area. George Washington is also trying to deal with the shortage of teachers in Maryland and Virginia and trying to teach teachers the technology curriculum too. The article finishes by talking about the power of technology for all learners. Students are really excited about learning when teachers integrate technology well in the classroom. The author is still amazed about the power of technology that she had seen from her first computer lab to the continuing advancing technology in today's classrooms.

It was really good to read about how other colleges also are promoting the instruction of technology like William and Mary. They were also doing projects like we are going to be doing in class. It is good to know that a lot of programs are noticing the importance of their teachers integrating technology in the classroom. It seems that our society is beginning to realize the importance that learning technology can have for their student's future. This article confirmed my feelings about integrating the newest technology in the classrooms. If the technology the author experienced from the beginning of the article to the technology she is seeing in classrooms today has changed so much, technology will only advance. Increasing the importance to teach about the changes and the opportunities they have using it.