Sunday, October 27, 2013

Project #14 Project Based Learning Lesson Plans

What's Your Word?
    In my lesson plans I have created a project that is to help with the understanding of vocabulary words. It will require that my students know how to use the program wordle. I have created a site so that you can access and view my entire lesson plan. The site includes what is required for the project, all of the due dates and length of the project, and rubrics for evaluation. You can view my entire lesson plan here.

Blog Post #10

What Can We Learn About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch?

    Randy Pausch gives a compelling and heart wrenching lecture on childhood dreams. Randy Pausch was an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University who pioneered some of the greatest virtual reality programs and co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center. In this lecture, Randy, gave a list of all of his childhood dreams and how he achieved or did not achieve them. There are some major points from this lecture that we can implement into our classrooms and instill into our students. First, we should always challenge our students to dream. By not encouraging our students to dream, we are limiting our students perception of what the future could hold. Secondly, we should always push our students to do their best and then to do more. By pushing our students to do more we will achieve a greater product and the students will have a real understanding of what they are capable of.
brick wall
In his lecture Randy talks about facing brick walls and how those occurrences can allow us to prove and overcome things. Brick walls give us a chance to prove how badly we want something. When students are faced with a brick wall they will either overcome the wall because it is something they desire to accomplish or will become something that was not a priority. Brick walls also let our students show their dedication. If they are dedicated, it will be proven by facing this wall. Randy talks about the concept of a head fake. In using the head fake technique we teach our students to master a concept directly in an indirect manner. In his lecture he taught his students to create computer software by making it so that they were creating a product but in turn learning how to make software. I feel it could be extremely beneficial to use this in our classrooms. One of the greatest things we can do as educators is make learning fun for our students. When the learning process is fun the material learned will stay with your students. Randy Pausch gave his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University on September 18, 2007. Randy Pausch passed away on July 25, 2008 of pancreatic cancer.
randy pausch

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post #9

Back To The Future
Caitlin Hinton, Laura Crawford, and Ashley Railey
back to the future
    In his lecture, Brian Crosby goes into detail about his students being at risk and how they have been at a disadvantage since birth. The way in which he teaches allows his students to be more than a statistic. Mr. Crosby explains his most effective method for teaching students focuses almost exclusively (as it should) upon their engagement in the learning process. By removing the text-book aspect of learning, Mr. Crosby has relied on projects and internet resources to cover the Common Core standards. One aspect that Mr. Crosby pointed out was that he allows his students to blog about their project and embed their video into their blog as opposed to giving them a test. He expects his students to know enough to write about their experiment as opposed to spitting facts out on a test to obtain a good grade. He encourages his students to inadvertently create their own PLNs by which his curriculum is reinforced by contributors around the globe. Crosby ends the video by explaining that we, as educators, need to stop racing kids through school. We need to give them the opportunity to build schema for the world, focus on their future, and consider all possibilities.

Blended Learning Cycle
Caitlin Hinton, Laura Crawford, and Ashley Railey
blended learning cycle
    There are two components to the blended learning cycle. In Paul Anderson’s video, he explains that by taking the separate entities of online, mobile, and classroom, and blending them all together, the blended classroom is created. The five E’s of the learning cycle are as follows: engage, explore, explain, expand, evaluate. By combining the blended classroom and the five E’s the blended learning cycle is created. The first step is the “hook”--if students are not interested in learning, they will not learn. A “hook” (a captivating question, experiment, thought, etc) is necessary to engage them in the initial ideas of the lesson. The second step is to allow the kids to explore on their own. This can be anything from examining a work (of literature) to experimenting on their own (safely, we should hope). The third step is to incorporate a video into the lesson. The teacher may have the students watch a video in class or at home independently. The fourth and fifth steps are elaboration and review. Anderson states that he meets with the students individually or in small groups where he asks questions to check their understanding. The students aren’t able to proceed to the final step of a summary or quiz until the teachers is sure he/she understands the material. As teachers, we should then explain in detail the various methods, ideas, etc. to the students so that they may understand the more complex aspects of the subject not previously considered. By furthering their exploration, students expand their knowledge of the subject. Then, as teachers, it is our responsibility to evaluate the student’s progress.

Making Thinking Visible
Caitlin Hinton, Laura Crawford, and Ashley Railey
    The key to learning composition (writing and rhetoric) has proved to be the documentation which is mentioned in these videos. By reading their progression from earlier years, or even earlier in the semester, students can visually see what knowledge they have gained.
making thinking visible

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Blog Post #8

Caitlin Hinton
    For this blog post, the 21st century tool I have chosen is a web program called Brainscape. I will be teaching high school English and therefore there are a number of items that my students will need to remember. Brainscape is an online tool to create numerous files of online flashcards. Within English you have literature, grammar, spelling and vocabulary, and writing. Brainscape would allow my students to have a file for each of these divisions and then they would have flashcards within each file. One of the features that I find extremely useful within Brainscape is when you are studying your flashcards you can rate the term based on how well you knew the information. The rating starts at a 1, which is not knowing the information at all, and ends at a 5, which is knowing the information perfectly. All of the flashcards with a 1 or 2 rating are recycled more often than the flashcards with a 4 or 5 rating. By recycling the information more often it increases your chances of retaining the knowledge as opposed to just remembering it for the test and then forgetting it once the test has been completed. Once you have created your files and flashcards all of your information is saved in the cloud so that is accessible on your computer, phone, or tablet. I would have my students create the individual divisions and then create flashcards from a list of vocabulary assigned. In order to receive credit I would need to see that each student has created their Brainscape files and has defined each vocabulary word given. I feel that my students would benefit greatly from Brainscape because of how the program works by recycling information that the students were not necessarily sure of in order to help them remember it. The reason I chose this online tool is because of the program features and because we live in an ever evolving technological society. The final reason I chose Brainscape is because all of your files are stored in the cloud which makes the information accessible anytime and anywhere and I feel that that will be incredibly beneficial for my students.

Laura Crawford
    For my technological tool, I explored a timeline generator entitled tiki-toki, which I discovered through a member of my PLN, Catlin tucker in her post 12 Tech Tools that Will Transform the Way You Teach!. This wonderful device allows teachers and students to create timelines with background images, embedded youtube videos, links to sources, and information on their subject. I found it particularly useful for teaching literature classes because it seems that the context of the literature studied is hardly ever covered in class. Tiki-Toki provides students with a timeline created by their teachers, and provides teachers with another assignment for their students (yay homework!:)). The program is simple to use and will no doubt encourage students to engage their critical thinking skills when reading and apply what they have read into context. Unfortunately, my free trial did not include the ability to give access via embed code, so here are a few pictures from my creation of a timeline covering the Victorian Era. (I further found that for $125.00 a year, teachers can have an account and allow their students access and accounts as well). here's a picture of the program in action.

Ashley Railey
    Ideally, my future English/Language Arts classroom will be filled with 7th grade students. The 21st century tool that I would love to use in my future classroom would be Storybird, an online site that allows students to add art to their original stories or poetry. I have created my very own poem with Storybird that you can see here.
    According to Mobile County Public School System, 7th grade students are required to compose original poetry, write a narrative, and write a lyric or concrete poem or haiku through the school year. I would have the students use this tool with these assignments. When using Storybird, students can show their creativity by applying art work with their words. The students would also have spelling words that they will be tested on throughout the year. I could also implement their spelling words into Storybird to help them gain a better understanding of how to use the words in a sentence correctly. Storybird is set up for teachers and students. The teacher creates a classroom account, and the the students join the classroom. The teacher can then create an assignment along with any specific instructions and due date. Due dates also appear on the students dashboard as a reminder. Once an assignment is posted, the teacher is alerted of which student has submitted the assignment. Students can also comment on each others work, which is a great way to have the students practice peer editing.
    I thought Storybird was a great way to get students excited about writing. When dealing with tweens, you often find that many of them have short attention spans and get bored very quickly. Furthermore, not very many have a desire to learn about grammar usage and poetry. With this tool, students can critique one another’s work, while expressing their own creativity as well. I can’t wait to use this in my classroom.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Project #9 Podcast

C4T #2

the real world
    Josh Stumpenhorst blogs about "The Real World," that students are facing today. Josh explains that he grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and the most exposure they had to drugs was an occasional dip of tobacco or a case of PBR. He states that he did not experience death at a real level in his life until he was an adult. This was what his "real world" looked like. In this post he talks about how he thought he was preparing his students for the real world but he really had no clue what the real world was for his students. It was brought to his attention that his students were having exposure as early as 12, to things he himself had not been exposed to. He states that he wants to help his students live in the real world they are experiencing. In my comment, I told Mr Stumpenhorst that I knew where he was coming from when it came to growing up in a small town and never really being exposed to anything until I entered college. I also stated that as I work with teenagers on a weekly basis you really do not know what students go through because it is so easy to put on a good face in front of your peers.

I used to think
    In my second C4T, Josh Stumpenhorst writes a blog entitled I Used To Think. In this blog post, Josh talks about ideals he used to have as a teacher and what his ideals are now. I thought it was an excellent blog post. It really puts teaching into perspective and what preconceived notions we can have about our classroom, students, administrators, and parents. In my comment, I stated that I thought his post was extremely thought provoking and that it really made me think about the kind of teacher I want to become.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blog Post #7

Project Based Learning Part 1
    The traditional method of a lecture-based class with a project to serve as an indicator of the students’ acquired knowledge has become ineffective. The focus for the students on the project is merely to appease the teacher for a grade (if they even care that much) and not on acquiring knowledge. Project Based Learning requires the students to actively seek the knowledge, craftily incorporated by the clever teachers guiding them, that retains the Common Core standards and curriculum of the teacher. So what comprises a good project according to Anthony Capps? Primarily, the presenter must be able to rely on a good, attentive, knowledgeable audience--one that is not too timid to offer suggestions for revision and praise where it is due. Secondly, the project needs to be relevant to the students. If the students do not care about the project, it will certainly show throughout the process and in the final product. Anthony Capps also suggests that the project should involve the community. Flat Stanley is an exemplary project that sticks in my mind. Most kids in America have attempted it and it definitely requires an involvement in the community. The last, and probably most important, point Mr. Capps gives to create a good project is its ability to cover the common core content within the project. When the students actively seek information, they retain it more effectively and are able to pursue more complex and challenging ideas.

Project Based Learning Part 2
    “With project based learning, you’re going to get more than you expect. So, never limit your students by giving them exactly what you want them to do. Create an opportunity for them to go beyond what you want them to do, and they will.” This excerpt summarizes the video rather eloquently. Anthony Capps wants us to learn how to avoid limiting our students to our standards in the classroom. He provides personal examples from his experience in the classroom. Mr. Capps emphasizes allowing the students to chose the specifics of their projects so that they are able to study a particular area of the general field that they are most interested in. This also instills a sense of pride within in the student as they complete his or her project. It seems most important that the students understand why the project is assigned in the first place. If the students do not understand why they must complete a project, and what knowledge they should gain, they will not fully enjoy the project and will most likely fail to retain information acquired from the project. Anthony Capps also suggests in this video that teachers reward critical thinking with an activity.
    iCurio is rapidly becoming an essential search engine for students in the classroom. Anthony Capps tells, in his discussion with Dr. Strange, how his 3rd grade students use this tool in multiple project based learning assignments. His students were able to use iCurio to search for different historical figures based on the criteria they desired. For example, if the student wanted to research the first African-American pilot, the student would put in said criteria and multiple articles would be available. Capps also explains that iCurio doesn’t limit the student to textual information. When researching a person, place, or event multiple forms of information, such as videos, graphs, and images, are available for students. Students also learn how to organize online by filing their articles into folders. iCurio is an amazing tool that can be used by students of all ages.
Discovery Ed
    Discovery Ed is a great tool for students to be able to see numerous videos on a variety of subjects. It allows teachers to bring visual learning to the lecture they have prepared for their students and in turn allow their students to retain what was being lectured on. As Anthony Capps stated: “[Discovery Ed] brings experts into the classroom via video.” It works as a reinforcement of the text and is even considered more engaging by some students.
discovery ed
Additional Thoughts About Lessons
Caitlin Hinton
    In this video Anthony Capps discusses lessons. I have never actually considered how much really goes into creating a lesson. Anthony points out that there are four components to creating a lesson. The first layer is the year. You have to consider how the lesson will fit in the year and if you will cover everything that is required of you. The second layer is a unit. You have to create your unit to fit into the year and to make sure again that you are covering everything that is needed and that all of the projects and activities fit in that unit accordingly. You should have a concept and make it so that it spans the entire unit as opposed to just cramming it into a few days. By the end of the unit your students should be able to master the task that was set before them at the start of the unit. The third layer is the week. At the start of the week you should have set goals that should be completed by the end of the week so that every week will fit into the unit. The fourth layer is the daily lesson. You must cover what needs to be covered on a daily basis so that the week is accomplished. When the weeks are accomplished the unit will be complete. As the units are completed the year will be complete.
Tips For Teachers Part 1
Laura Crawford
    In this video, Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps composed a list of success tips for teachers. One could argue that some of these tips are applicable to much more than teaching--but to life itself. The first tip is to be interested in learning, yourself. If you aren’t interested in the topic you are presenting to your classes, how could you expect them to be interested? The most effective teachers are those that are always actively pursuing knowledge in their respective fields. This enables them to constantly kindle their passion for teaching knowledge that is not only new to their students, but new to themselves. The first tip can easily be extended into the second tip--work and play are not really separate if you are an educator. Teachers should always be learning more about the subjects they are teaching, and the good ones do so willingly.The third tip is to maintain a certain level of flexibility. It is wise to keep an end in mind, a driving goal which provides a clear direction, but do not become discouraged if your lesson plan doesn’t pan out exactly the way you wanted it to. We’re all human; we all make mistakes, and it is occasionally beneficial for our students to realize that as well. A more positive effect of flexibility is that it allows your students to exceed your expectations. As Anthony Capps eloquently stated in another video: “Create an opportunity for [students] to go beyond what you want them to do, and they will.” The fourth tip seems like an absolute asset to any teacher in any class: have your students 100% engaged in the learning process. Research has proven that anyone actively engaged in learning will better retain the information he or she is processing. It is important to keep in mind though that 100% engagement doesn’t necessarily mean 100% retainment. The fifth tip is to reflect periodically on your teaching methods and their effectiveness. Teachers are now highly encouraged to teach their students self-reflect; it follows that teachers must act accordingly.
tips for teachers
Don't Teach Tech-Use It
Ashley Railey
    In the video “Don’t Teach Tech - Use it!” Anthony Capps explains to Dr. Strange that in order to incorporate technology effectively in the classroom you should make it part of the curriculum. As educators, we shouldn’t look at technology as something that has to be done, but rather as a tool that should be used in various projects. By introducing a different technological tool once or twice a week, the students will become more familiar. Once students become more comfortable using things such as iCurio or Discovery Ed, they get excited about the projects assigned to them in class. Capps explains that teachers shouldn’t expect perfection from their students when learning how to use these tools. The more the students use the tools, the more they can reflect on their mistakes and develop problem solving skills. Allowing students to use these different forms technology in the classroom will better prepare them for the tools they will use in the future.
using technology

Project #13-Project Based Learning Plans

to kill a mockingbird
    As a group we chose to create a project based learning assignment from the book To Kill A Mockingbird for 9th grade students. The reason for choosing 9th grade is because it is in the middle of our grade range and we chose To Kill A Mockingbird because it is usually a suggested summer read for students and in my case it was required. This project was designed to have students showcase their acquired knowledge of the book. You can view our full lesson plan here.

Personal Learning Network Progress Report #1

    I feel that our personal learning networks are one of our greatest advantages. It gives us the opportunity to communicate with others in our field and access tools that will help us make our lessons more effective. I have accounts that I check on a regular basis such as Twitter, Gmail, and Blogger. I have created accounts for Symbaloo and Delicious. I also use Dropbox. There are a number of useful and helpful sites available for teachers to enhance their personal learning networks.