Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reflective Essay

  Reflective Essay
                Prior to this school year I hadn’t really put into perspective just how closely technology and education are wound together. I hadn’t considered how technology would affect me as an instructor, and how it would be incorporated into my lessons. Although I do not always agree with the incorporation of technology in all aspects of our school, I now have a vast amount of new ideas that I will be using in my future.
                In my opinion EME 2040 did a great job of incorporating our learning objectives with new and engaging lessons and activities, and projects. The best example of enhancing communication was our online discussion board; it is definitely an approach that I plan on using with my students. I believe that many more students were involved in the online discussions compared to in class discussions because shy students do not have to worry about unwanted attention. The textbook also explained many effective communication tools that can be used to get all students involved in class discussions, and assignments without having to rely on the traditional forms of presentation. This was one of my favorite lessons because I am constantly trying to find ways to help shy students express themselves without having the fear of presenting in front of a classroom. I feel that by finding creative ways for these students to communicate their ideas it allows them to dedicate more time on creating work that will enhance their education rather than having them focus on “trying to get through” an embarrassing situation. In EME 2040 we experience a variety of different forms of communicating with each other such as through this blog, the discussion board, and a Power Point presentation. Of all of these assignments I felt that the most effective in enhancing our communication skills was definitely the discussion board.
                This course focused a lot on Technology/Information Management and we used many different outlets to demonstrate our abilities. The instructional wiki was a perfect demonstration of this; our group came together through solely online communication and created an entire wiki from our own individual components. This was an interesting assignment because we were given the freedom to select our favorite topic from a list provided, and asked to create our own page to translate the information. Each individual page came together to form a whole, and although we each did our own individual work the project flowed uniformly. On the other hand, I did not enjoy the collaborative lesson plan assignment. I like the idea of introducing how to create a lesson plan while using technology but the assignment was not one of the stronger ones. There are a vast amount of resources for lesson plans on the web, and it is difficult to create a lesson plan that is not very similar to lesson plans that have already been created. I feel that I dedicated more time trying to create original content rather than focusing on the main goal of the assignment. Throughout the textbook there were an abundance of different ideas on how students can manage information using technology. The most important lesson that I took from this course was that of internet safety and ensuring that students are aware of the dangers of the internet. These dangers are not only about ensuring that your personal information isn’t in the wrong hands, but also about browsing websites that provide accurate and reliable content. Because our schools are integrating technology at a rapid pace, it is imperative that we make sure our students are safe and that both teachers and parents are knowledgeable on how to protect them from all aspects of internet dangers.
                The power-point presentation was a fun assignment because it allowed us to get to know each other based on what each of us chose to discuss in our presentations, I also enjoyed learning about the Pecha Kucha method, and I do think it is a method that I will introduce to my students in the future. I was not against this project but I do not think that an entire assignment should be dedicated to this in the future; maybe the instructor can expose us to one or two examples of this method rather than having each student create one individually. Some interesting discussion topics that I encountered were both the Assistive/Adaptive technologies and Technology Assisting ELL students. There topics really helped me understand social-cultural responsibility because they caused me to reflect upon real life situations and I was asked to come up with solutions using technology based on methods we were learning about. The feedback and posts from my classmates also brought to light many interesting ideas and methods that I will be using in the future. Because of these topics I will be more aware of my students and I will incorporate different teaching methods into my lessons so that students of all abilities can succeed. One way of doing this is to hopefully have an interactive whiteboard in my classroom, before EME 2040 I had not experienced a lesson with an interactive whiteboard and I hope that I am able to use one with my students in the future. This is an excellent way of helping both visual and hands on learners at the same time, without having to make students feel out casted. Look how cool it is!

 One of the technologies that I will share with my students is khanacademy. After having used this site myself I am thoroughly pleased with their lessons. I would definitely use this outlet for students both in the classroom and also as a study recommendation for students that have some trouble understanding certain topics. Another great website that I have been keeping up with and will continue to keep up with comes from our Journal Post #8, Speed of Creativity. This is a blog by Wesley Fryer that presents current ideas and methods of using technology with students and helping keep them engaged.
                Overall I enjoyed this class and I was pleased with the variety of projects that were assigned throughout the semester. I enjoyed learning about new and innovative methods that will soon be affecting my career, and how I can use these technologies to my benefit. Unfortunately I am not a big fan of total technology incorporation, and in my ideal world I would still have students read from a textbook rather than e-books or hand held readers. I would also prefer to take students on physical fieldtrips rather than virtual ones, and I will always strive to “unplug” my students. I am happy that I attended this course because the main lesson I will take away from it is that instead of fighting technology I can use it to benefit both myself and my students.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chapter 10

Journal Post 9
“This I Believe”
            Robert’s “This I Believe” project has a lot of potential to be successful, especially with the help of technology. His first goal is to read and hear different types of “This I Believe” essays and there are many ways Robert can do this in a way to keep the students engaged. He can use the video projector to play some inspiring versions of this essay such as Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech conveys a similar tone. A video would help students visualize the power and emotion that can be expressed through words that the writer truly believes in. The essays can also be found as media files that the students can download into their iPods so they can listen to them at their convenience. He can also project the actual essays and have the students take turns reading them aloud while he makes real-time adjustments, highlights important information, or points out important areas which the students may have missed.
            Robert’s second goal is to have them write their own “This I Believe” essays and share them with other members of the class. Personally, I would have each student type their essays so that they can use the computer’s spell check features to help them with any grammatical issues they may be having. The students can type their essays on a program such as Google Docs which would allow them to type their essay and then allow them to share it with the teacher or the class through the program. This way, students that are shy can have their essays read by Robert and their peers without them having to stand in front of a classroom and read aloud. Google Docs also allows the writer to give permission for readers to edit their work, this way the student can allow the teacher to correct their essay as many times as needed without having to waste paper. Students that have a difficult time coming up with ideas may become inspired by listening to songs that motivate them, or express positive messages. Robert can have students share their songs with the class and he may share some of his own.
            Robert’s third goal is to develop greater confidence and improved skill as a creative and expressive writer who can then perform successfully on the English exam. I feel that this is where technology and creativity would have the greatest bond. After each student has completed their essay, they should be allowed to choose their own way to present it to the class, because reading an essay out loud may not always be entertaining or engaging for each student, also, not every student may feel comfortable doing so. Students that are comfortable with the spot light may choose to simply read their essays aloud, act out their essays, or present their essays in their own creative way. Students that are not so comfortable with these methods may choose to create a short movie, PowerPoint presentation, or even create a form of multimedia such as a CD that each student can play individually. This would allow them to express their ideas while taking the direct focus away from them. By allowing students to express their ideas in their own way, it allows them to feel more comfortable writing about what they truly believe in because they may not feel the added pressure of having to physically present their essays. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Journal 9

2012 K-12 Online Conference
Speak Up! Transforming Classroom Discussions

This week I explored the K-12 Online Conference and I watched Robert Appino’s presentation on getting students to speak up in the classroom. I chose this topic because throughout my academic career I have often had trouble participating in class discussions despite often wanting to provide some input. I was curious as to how virtual discussions would change the amount of participation in class discussions. Appino’s presentation provided many different studies; including his own, which were aimed at trying to get students to feel more comfortable speaking up. He concluded his presentation stating that through his own research he has found that virtual discussions do in-fact aid shy, introverted students to share their ideas and thoughts, as well as allowing all of the students stay on topic. I strongly believe that students can learn from each other, and often, students can help clarify a topic or lesson simply by explaining it in their own words, because of this I believe it is important for all students to be able to participate in class discussions and for them to share their ideas. I believe there are many benefits to having class discussions that everyone participates in, it allows the teacher to have a better understanding of what students may not be properly understanding the material, it allows students to clarify areas of confusion by explaining ideas in a different way, and it can bring up topics that may have been missed or forgotten that can enhance a lesson. The problem with class discussions is that students that are shy or may feel that they will be mocked for their ideas are reluctant to speak up in class, this is why virtual discussions are a great alternative to in class discussions that will enhance the class room learning.

If I were to teach in a high-school setting I would definitely consider using Todaysmeet. This virtual board is ideal for a classroom in which every student has a computer or tablet so I understand that it may not be possible for every classroom, but in an ideal scenario I would love to use this in my classroom. Todaysmeet allows the students to sign on to a “virtual classroom” where the instructor is teaching and the students are reacting in real time. This way students are not rudely interrupting each other, they are not having their questions ignored, and they are fully focused on the lesson. Also, the instructor can use the feedback to change, modify, or clarify anything in their lesson on the spot.

My main concern with virtual discussions would be how to use this with students in younger grades such as elementary. I am not sure that a virtual discussion would be able to aid younger students because I feel that their access to computers as well as their limited understanding would not allow a virtual discussion to run as smoothly, but I do believe that this is a great idea that I would like to try in my classroom.   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Alternative Post #8

Alternative Post #8

Moving at the speed of Creativity

                For this week’s blog post I chose to explore Wesley A. Fryer’s blog: moving at the speed of creativity. When I first visited his blog I was immediately attracted to his most recent post about playing Minecraft with his son. His most recent post is the second part of an earlier post where he first gives in a after a year finally agrees to play this game with his son, both articles can be found here: First lesson in Minecraft and here: more Minecraft lessons.

                 I was instantly drawn by this post because my son is a big fan of Minecraft and if he’s not playing it, he’s talking about playing it, and for a long time I have begun to worry about the length of time he spent playing this game, as I felt it would not be entirely beneficial to him. As a kid I grew up playing many video games, and I still do spend a good amount of free time playing now, but as a parent I felt that my son should not “waste” so much time playing games, especially if it is not educational, which is the main reason why I chose to read this particular post by Wesley.

The first post explains that Wesley’s main reason for not getting involved with Minecraft in the first place was the lack of available time, he admits that he has not really been interested in playing video games. He does go on to explain that his son Alex really enjoys playing, and has even made his own instructional videos on how to play the game. This really interested me because through his involvement with the game Alex has created instructional videos and posts to share with other even though they were not required for school or for a grade and by doing so Alex is further expanding his knowledge of technology and the internet by practicing it through creating and sharing information. As the post progresses Wesley takes us through his first journey playing the game by adding multiple screen shots to give us a better understanding of the Minecraft world he is experiencing and creating. His son is teaching him the basic information Wesley needs in order to survive in the game such as how to protect yourself, how to eat, and how to create. It is very clear that this game is heavily influenced by the users ability to create different objects by using the resources in the world around them. By the end of his first post, I began to realize that although Minecraft may not seem like an educational game at first glance, it definitely helps fuel creativity and critical thinking for its users.

                Wesley’s excitement for the game becomes very evident in his second post which is published one week later. At this point he has spent some time exploring the world with his son and advancing in the game. He describes how there are multiple ways to obtain materials from the same source, and it is your job to determine which option you think is best. For example in order to get wool from a sheep you can either kill the sheep or using your shears, but you will not receive as much wool if the sheep is killed. This is an example of how the games allows the user to make their own decisions based on what they think would be more beneficial for them. The biggest use of critical thinking in this game was Alex’s explanation on how to mine for a material called obsidian. He explains that under obsidian there is usually lava which would cause you to lose the obsidian you have mined if it falls into the lava, therefore Alex suggests moving a body of water close to where you are mining so that the water will flow into the spaces you have mined and pick up the obsidian. I was shocked by the details to this solution because I in the past I have played games where the objectives are “get from point A to point B, and kill some conveniently placed bad guys” but in this game, the user is faced with different obstacles and they are basically left to figure it out on their own.

                I really enjoyed Wesley’s Minecraft blog posts and I believe that I am going to follow in his footsteps and try to play this game with my son. I believe the quality time spent sharing this experience would be great and I am hoping that my experiences will help me learn more about how this game can be educational and useful despite its initial appearance.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chapter 7/ Alternate Blog Post

Chapter 7                            Alternative blog post

For this week, I have decided to discuss Operation Climate Control. This is a game created in the UK that allows students to learn about the effects of our everyday lives on our climate, and ways that we can reduce our negative impact on the world around us. What I really enjoyed about this game is that is does not simply tell students that we are negatively affecting our climate, it thoroughly describes what are the different reasons why things such as transportation, and energy affect the climate, and it allows students to decide what changes can be made to help reduce climate pollution. The purpose of the game is for students to decide on environmental policies in Europe, which would then impact their environment so they can see what the different effects are.

I would definitely use this game in a middle or high-school level science class. I would introduce this game before starting my lesson on transportation emissions and climate change. Ideally, each student would be given 20-30 minutes to create their own environment based on their current knowledge of the environment. The game allows students to create a password so that they can save their progress and access it later. After their first experience with this game, students would be taught about the different types of transportation, and the new technologies that are being used to reduce pollution such as electric cars, hybrids, etc. They will be able to refer to the information that they were exposed to in the game and use that to relate to the lesson that is being taught by the instructor. After the lesson, students should have a better understanding of the effects of transportation on climate control. I would then ask students to play the game again either in class or at home and compare their before and after environments. The objective would be for students to understand that through proper knowledge of pollution and new technologies that are being created, society can help reduce pollution.

This game not only keeps students engaged but it helps them learn a lesson that would not be as easy to explain without a visual aid. The game also provides links to different websites that explore other aspects of climate, including other games that students can use as a follow up to climate control. Students can also compare their environments with each other and vote on who was able to reduce the most amount of pollution. Another great feature of this game is that every action students take cost money, therefore, they cannot take the easy way out and just make every form of transportation extremely energy efficient. This causes the students to think about what they feel is most important, and what changes would have the greater impact while staying on budget, which is similar to the problems faced in today’s society.

I have begun a game of my own which can be accessed here. The password to access my game is fraga, I encourage you all to take a moment and create your own game, you will definitely get hooked!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chapter 6

Chapter 6 – Teaching with Educational Websites

Focus Question: How might educational websites provide interactive and engaging learning experience for students?
Educational websites are a great way for students to learn in new and innovative ways. My favorite type of educational website is student-to-expert communication websites, these sites allow students to communicate with experts in the subject matter they are interested in. This “virtual” tutoring can help students stay engaged in their studies because they are getting first hand responses from experts in the field. For example, if a student were learning about space, and they had the opportunity to speak with someone from NASA, I believe they would construct creative questions to ask, and they would put in a greater effort to study the responses rather than reading facts from a textbook. Other educational websites allow students to explore different aspects of a subject matter. Through hands-on learning students stay more interested in what they are learning because it requires less effort to keep interest. For example
Hands On Universe allows students to conduct scientific experiments using data from space telescopes. A student using this website would be much more interested in the data and information that they can physically see and manipulate versus a student that is reading data off of a page of text. The hands-on approach also helps students retain the information rather than just memorizing.

Tech Tool Link: The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc
This tech tool link if a virtual field trip of a cave in France. I found this tech tool link to be interesting, although I do not believe that virtual fieldtrips should replace actual fieldtrips. Through this website students can explore historic, geographic and archeological content of the cave and they can access all of the different paintings found within. What I enjoyed the most about this site was that many of the words in the text were highlighted and defined. This was helpful because it allows students of different ages to be able to use this website and learn more independently. The website is very thorough with its information and I believe that websites such as this one can definitely help students learn about different areas of the world that they would not normally have access to.


Chapter 6 introduced a lot of new technologies for both students and teachers that can benefit both parties use technology in the classroom more efficiently. The first part of the chapter provided information for teachers that I find to be a bit outdated, many people using the internet are very aware of how to add websites to favorites or bookmark important websites. This however, supports a topic that is brought up in the chapter which is that information is evolving at a very fast pace and textbooks are having a difficult time keeping up. With that being said, the chapter does provide many different websites that are used as social bookmarking; such as delicious which can help connect students and teachers, and allows teachers to share a vast amount of helpful websites with their students. The second half of this chapter introduced a large amount of educational websites that many teachers are adapting into their lesson plans because they are providing interactive ways for students to learn efficiently through technology. These websites are secure, safe, and reliable which is my most important concern when exposing students to the internet. One of the websites that I really enjoyed was Ask Dr. Math because it was very easy to navigate and provided simple and easy to understand answers to many math problems. They also allow students to send questions that may not be answered in the website which will then be answered by a math expert. This website can be used both in the classroom as a supplement for a lesson, or at home as a homework or study aid. Another great website for younger students was PBS kids which has a variety of educational games, videos, and blogs that are related to their characters and TV shows. This allows younger students to learn while using their favorite TV shows to maintain interest.    

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chapter 5

Chapter 5- Researching and Evaluating Internet Information

Focus Question: How can teachers respond to problems of plagiarism when students use online sources?

I believe this question helps us deal with one of the most important topics in the use of technology and learning. James McKenzie helps identify seven ways teachers can help students avoid plagiarism by providing them with skills that helps them create individual ideas through their research. This is based on the idea that teachers can construct projects that make it less likely for students to plagiarize based on the questions that are asked and the information that is required from them.

These skills are as follows:

·         Distinguish levels or types of research

·         Discourage “trivial pursuits”

·         Emphasize essential questions

·         Require and enable students to construct answers

·         Focus on information storage systems

·         Stress citation ethics

·         Assess progress throughout the entire research process

By asking students to research a topic and generate opinions or ideas on said topics allows students to express their understanding rather than merely copying facts off of the internet. The assignment presented in this chapter was a great example of a real life project created to avoid plagiarism.

Tech Tool Link: Flickr

I have often visited this site in the past both for personal use and for research and it has always provided great results for photo based searches. Flickr is a great tool that can be used for students that are looking for photographs of any category, and because they are uploaded by the public, it gives people access to a multitude of original images and ideas. Users that upload their images to flickr can choose to make them public or private, and their images are protected by copyright. This does not, however, completely protect their images from being stolen or used by other people. This is the main downfall to this site; people can take images off of the site and claim them as their own which is also considered a form of plagiarism. Other than this, I believe this site can be very useful to teachers and students when trying to find original content. In the past, my wife has used flickr to share pictures that she was using for her photography class. Her profile can be found here. This is another great way that this website can be used in schools. Students can create online photo portfolios that they can share with teachers and classmates through this website rather than making slideshows or presentations.

Chapter 5 included plenty of information that I feel should be shared with teachers, students and parents. Evaluating internet information is not only important in our education system, but also to protect the safety of our children at home. With how quickly technology is advancing, it is difficult to keep up with the dangers that can come with children that are unaware of potential threats, especially those brought upon by social networks. There is an unfortunate amount of predators that use false information and websites to lure children into bad situations. There is also a lot of inappropriate website that can be easily accessed by unattended children. Thankfully, there are many different way that are now available for parents to protect their home computers by blocking and controlling the websites that are visited by their children. Unfortunately, there are still many adults that are not fully aware of the dangers that can be brought upon by the internet. Another important reason that student need to be mindful of misinformation is because unlike textbooks, there is no clear way of reading something on the internet and knowing whether or not it is true. If a student is at home researching information from a website that is not trustworthy or outdated, they may learn facts that are untrue or inaccurate. This will cause a negative effect on the students understanding and knowledge of the topic, and may cause them confusion when trying to combine their research with what they are being taught in school. It is important that teachers aid their students in finding trustworthy websites along with exposing students to websites that are age appropriate. Although I have often struggled with including a work cited page in many of my past projects and assignments, I do believe that it is an effective way for students and teachers to explore the validity of what is on the internet. If a student provides a teacher with a link they have used in their research that the teacher finds to be providing misinformation, the teacher can ensure that other students are not using this site for their research and they can help the student determine why this website should not be trusted. Just by having access to the internet, students have an incredibly amount of knowledge at their fingertips, but through computer literacy we can ensure that students are accessing truthful and reliable links that will positively enhance their learning experience rather than causing confusion and misinformation.