Friday, February 28, 2014

Favorite Historical Person Project (Project #13)

Historical Person: Project Calender
Historical Person: Project Overview

Can not just pick one Historical Person

For the record, my favorite Historical Person

Nikola Tesla

Scientist Nikola Tesla


As apart of our assignments in February, we were given a list of students that we needed to visit their blog and comment on them.

The first student that I got, Domenic, talked about an interesting set of website in which you could go and create your own comic strip. The links are on his blog to the different sites. What I found interesting about this post is that Domenic gives us, the reader, his opinion about the sites. Not only that, but he backs up the opinions with actual reasoning behind it. He does not just say "I like this one", but instead tells us the pros and cons of the website.

The second student, Jane, didn't have much to say. According to her post, she was bored and wanted someone to post a reply to her blog and tell them about their vacation. I happily replied and told her about my upcoming spring break plans. I like how the blogs are not necessarily just for school, but can apparently be used by the students as their own personnel blog. I think it is important to let the students know that they can post their own thoughts on their blog, beyond the required posts for school.

The third student, Darkwypsy, had some interesting posts. Unfortunately, I did not understand the context of the posts or what was going I skipped this one. I feel bad for doing so, as I'm sure there was some meaning behind the posts, but I could not find them.

The last student, Jane, had a disturbing and sad post. The post I commented on was about a project the students had to do where they picked a color pallet and wrote a poem about what it reminded them of. She chose the color "va-va-voom", which is apparently a deep violet, and it reminded her of her father. This is where it gets dark, the poem she writes deals with an addiction her father deals with and even has a picture that represents her father. I did not know how to approach this, as again I do not have context to the situation or project, so I just wished her good luck and hope things turned out well.

Seemed mine just got harder as they went along. It was an interesting experiment to see what younger students post in their blogs, and I can't wait for the next set of students.

Student Blogs

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blog Post #6

From what I understand, a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is meant to be a think tank for what you are interested in. You gather people, websites, articles and groups together so when you need a question answered or help finding something you can easily get access to it. According to Building Your PLN-A Primer For Anyone, it is simply just getting connections around the world with people so you can ask them questions. I completely agree with the idea of having a network of people to communicate ideas to and get feed back, and I am excited to know that there are ways to manage and organize them.

It was originally recommended for me to use iGoogle, but apparently it has since been shut down. Instead, we have been told to either use Symbaloo or Netvibes to help set up our PLN. I have not taken a full look at these two websites yet, so I have not decided on what I want to use.

I have chosen the interest and topic I want to concentrate on. Gamification is taking game mechanics and applying it to a non-game environment. What does this mean? Well, to be honest we are not so sure at the moment. Most people call it instant gratification, adding badges and prizes to even the smallest step, but adding the competition of gaming to everyday life to get people motivated. It is a relatively new concept, and one that seems to have more success out side of school then in school. I, however, have a feeling that it could be used along side project based learning to help engage the classroom more.

Personal Learning Network

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Trailer

This book trailer is about the Chinese Epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog Post #5: What do you learn from these conversations with Anthony Capps?

I never realized that I had experienced project based learning before, but now that I think about it I have in some form or fashion. I mentioned in an earlier post about a professor of mine at Auburn University wanting us to do our work in topics we choose, because it helped us learn. That course was Topics in Mythology & Folklore,and it was taught by Prof. Jeremy M. Downes. In that class he did something similar,in my mind, to what was discussed in the the interviews with Anthony Capps. In the first video that I watched, he started mentioning about ensuring that the projects that you give the students are enough to keep them interested, and to also ensure that they are getting out of it what you want them to get. In the opening paragraph of his syllabus, Prof. Downes states "Though we'll do a fair amount of work in common, you'll also be encouraged to explore independently and in small groups in the myths and folkways of other cultures, perhaps even your own." I think this is where my first introduction to project based learning began.

So, beyond knowing where I have seen it, what else did I learn from these conversations? To be honest, I learned that project based learning is not that much different from normal teaching, but only in the preparation. It is completely different in execution and out come, but to ensure that you have the right amount of information and lessons to last an entire year is still there. I, honestly, thought it was simply giving students a project, like a work book page, and have them work in groups. I have learned that concept will not work! So, how is it done then? From what I gathered in the different videos, a teacher must be able to engage the students in ways that make it more interactive, while still meeting the normal requirements that the Educational State Board requires. Anthony Capps gave the example of creating videos as if the students were from Afghanistan. To do so, however, they must first research and understand that culture, and then were allowed to creature a video presentation on what they decided to learn about. The project was the video, but the learning was the research and gathering of information, but done in a way that seemed less like work and more like a project.

I also learned that, like life, not everything goes as planned. So teachers have to be adaptive, and have back up or side plans to ensure that their students do not lose out on education when technology does not work (as it is one to do). However, the most important aspect about being adaptive is that a teacher must not be afraid to learn, and to step back and realize that s/he can do better then they are doing now. There is no shame in realizing that your thoughts are not going as you thought, and you have to go back to the drawing board. Nothing is perfect the first time, especially in something as quickly evolving as project based learning.

So to sum it up. What did I learn? Project based learning is an ever evolving view point on teaching that requires a lot of work, but is a fun system of learning that rewards both teacher and student in the end.

Project Based Learning

Project #7 post: This is "My Sentence" and this is "My Passion"

My Sentence....

My Passion...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Comments for Teacher #1

The blog that I was assigned was Jenny Luca's "Lucacept intercepting the Web." A resident of Australia, it was interesting to get a view point of a teacher from a different country! Even though we are from different school systems, I believe we both have the same thoughts on the issues presented in my post. The first post I commented on talked about ensuring that students realize that there are multiple ways to succeed. Luca talks about how she attempts to ensure that her students understand that just because you are not the top of your class, does not meant that you can and will not succeed in life. Does she prompt laziness in her class? No, she still expects the very best out of each student. However, she realizes that everyone finds success in their own life in their own way. She uses the life of singer Ben Haggerty, known by stage name Macklemore, as an example. In one of his songs he talks about how he did not let his test scores or society determine who he was, rather he became the person he wanted to be. To many times we judge a student by their test scores, and seem to only positively concentrate on those that do good.

Singer Macklemore

The second post is one that hits more home in every day life. The fact that we must be mindful of the digital foot print we leave behind when we work on the internet, or use apps on our phones. This is a problem even for many adults, but for kids it seems to be a shock to their world. Today, we hear often how kids are smarter than most adults when it comes to the use of technology, and we tend to forget that they still have that innocent look on the world. They do not know or do not realize how dangerous the digital world can be. I take this as a notice that we, as teachers in training, must be on guard on the dangerous of having a digital footprint. We want to ensure our students have a positive experience with the digital world, and to leave a positive footprint for their future.

Asking Questions: What questions do we ask? How do we ask?

In the famous words of my favorite DC Hero, shown below, "Now that's the Question." All kidding aside, the concept of properly asking proper questions in the classroom is something that has been back and forth in my mind. I do not believe that I will not understand the material that I am to teach, rather I do not believe that I can come up with the proper questions to be able to stimulate the class. Through experience as a student, and just talking to friends in real life, I have come to the conclusion that the best questions to ask are the ones that stimulate a conversation. It is not just simply enough to ask a question and have it answered by one student. No, the question has to be able to have multiple answers, and have the potential to spark a conversation of answers between students. So how do we ask questions like that? From what I have seen, especially in a English/Literature class, the best way is to ask the students interpretation of the work that they are reading.

Another series of questions that I have noticed that is extremely successful is to question an answer provided. Allow the student who answered the question to further explain, in depth, the answer that they have given. This allows a student to dig deeper into the work that they are looking at and bring up references to back up their answer. Many of the professors that I have had in college use this a tool to push class participation and discussion. There is that concept again, class discussion.

I guess to me, the questions that we ask are ones whose answers spark more questions. That way, a conversation and discussion can spread between the students, allowing for them to get a better understanding of the text that are working. Of course, it is our job as teachers to mediate these conversations and ensure that they go in the proper direction.

Question the Answer

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How Can You Provide Meaningful Feedback to Your Peers?

A peer review is a great way to ensure that your paper, article or post is up to par with the expected quality of such things. However, there are many ways that a peer review can go wrong. I remember having to do peer reviews of papers in some of my English classes up at Auburn, and it is harder than people make it out to be. The key is to always be positive about what you are reviewing, even if you can see obvious glares in the work you are looking at. Also, you want to ensure that you are pointing out things that really need to be changed, and not be picky about every tiny detail. Luckily, due to many papers being typed, most of the issues with spacing and arrangement of lines are taken care of.

So what should someone be looking at while peer reviewing? Well, I learned that really you should be looking at word choice and quality of sentences. Word choice is an interesting aspect of a peer review, because it can go both ways. Some people will tell you to replace a simple word, like good, with a more complicated word, like exceptional. However, that can also complicate the work. In some cases it is best to use simpler terms and words, so as to not make the work to hard to read. I found that it is more important to ensure that the sentence is arranged in such a way that it makes sense, or at least flows more easily when read. That way a reader does not have to keep stopping at sentences and reread them just to continue on with the paper.

But remember! Stay positive!

Peer Review Picture