Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Journal #9 - How to Do More with Less (NETS 1 & 2)

Pape, L., Sheehan, T., & Worrell, C. (2012). How to do more with less. Learning and Leading with Technology, March(April), 18-22. Retrieved from


This article attempts to address the concern that there is an increasing demand of performance out of students, but there is a decrease in budget and resources available to teachers. They are concerned that students are expected to learn new digital skills, but there is no clear way in which to teach them. Two new methods of teacher are showcased in this article: blended teaching and flipped classroom instruction. Blended teaching is where a teacher uses digital things to supplement and enhance their classroom. And a flipped classroom is where a teacher uses technology to to deliver their class lectures such as podcasts or videos. By using this method the students can play back the lecture as many times as they need to. Both methods rely heavily on free online resources. The article finishes by giving many examples of how these methods were used in real classrooms.


1. What are some problems that can arise from using these methods in the classroom?

The biggest glaring problem with flipped classroom instruction is that it assumes the students will go home and work diligently on their schoolwork. We all remember being kids, and getting us to do homework was a chore. I feel this method is too Utopian, in that it relies heavily that the kids will remain on task. Without homework to further show examples, and without any real accountability, it seems this method could be very frustrating for some students.

2. How could these methods benefit your students?

These teaching methods encourage the use of technology. Not only are the students encouraged to learn the subject matter, but they are encouraged to become tech-savvy and to help each other out. The blended teaching method seems like it would build more of a community in the classroom because there is a way in which they could help out their peers. Also, the classroom could come home with the students which allows them to interact outside of school, which some have no other access to do.

Journal #6 - Foster in Creativity and Innovation Through Technology (NETS 1 & 2)

Vaidyanathan, S. (2012). Fostering creativity and innovation through technology. Learning and Leading with Technology, March/April, 24-27. Retrieved from


The main point of this article is that there are different ways in which we can encourage our kids to take interest in the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The main way that she focuses on is through a digital design program for elementary students. The kids are encouraged to be creative and innovative through the use of free programs such as Scratch, Google SketchUp, and Seashore. Each grade level has a project on one of those programs, and they get more advanced projects as they go up in grade level. What she found is that the kids really enjoy doing these projects, and even come in on recess and open computer lab to work on their projects. They also want to work on the projects at home. Many of the concepts such as vector graphing are directly related to the STEM subjects, in this case math. The kids get to be creative and work in a low-stress environment because there is no fear of failure.


1. What if a school isn't as fortunate as Los Altos and doesn't get donations?

This is something that was going through my mind as I was reading this article. She makes the claim that any school can afford a digital design program, but this isn't the case. Had it not been for "generous donations" they would not have been able to launch this program. So to rely on something like that is foolish. If this is to be instituted widely in schools it would need a more stable bit of funding, which means being approved by the district.

2. Will taking time away from students to work on digital design hurt them in other subjects?

I think the digital design idea is a very innovative way to get kids interested in the STEM subjects, but there is no real substitute for instruction. I feel that depending on how much time is devoted to this class, it could take away some valuable time learning the important things they are tested on. In short, I believe that as long as we have standardized testing and use that as a benchmark, this program can not fit in schools.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Journal #8 - Adaptive Technology (NETS 2 & 3)


Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is any method of communication used to to supplement or replace speech. AAC are methods employed in order to help those with severe language and speech problems interact with others or assist them in learning.

                      Low-Tech Communication Tool

A very simple low-tech tool I discovered is a Visual Schedule. It is used to communicate with autistic students what they are expected to do each day, and it gives them a visual representation of what they have already completed. Visual Schedules are used to develop a child's organization skills and independent functioning throughout their daily life. These schedules could be simple such as words written on a whiteboard, or even graphics on a poster board. They are a first-then strategy, meaning they tell the student "first you do ___, then you do ___." To supplement these daily Visual Schedules you can also use calendars which will further organize the student so they know what is expected of them over the long period of time. 

                  High-Tech Communication Tool

A company I found that develops high-tech AAC devices is ZYGO. They have a tool called the Optimist MMX that converts text to speech, and uses pictures and a touch pad display to make its usage easier. This tool can be used to help a student with severe speech problems communicate with their peers or their teacher. It also allows for the teacher to visually represent the words and ideas to the student by using the graphics on the screen. But this device is very desirable because of its ease of use. It has both a keyboard for typing and a touch screen that can be folded back and rotated. This device is best suited for a child with a speech disorder, but its ease of use and its use of pictures can also help out a child with a learning disability connect a picture to a word.  


An input device is a device that is used to input information into a computer such as a keyboard, mouse, controller, scanner, or eye tracker. There are special kinds of input devices made specifically for the disabled.


I found that there is an entire market of special keyboards known as alternate keyboards. These keyboards offer different types of added accessibility to those with disabilities from larger keys, special lighting and color patterns, to light keystrokes such as the Magic Wand Keyboard. This keyboard is intended for use by those who can't press the keys, so they market it as a no strength keyboard. In the classroom this keyboard could be used for students who have a severe lack in motor skills or are limited in mobility, as all they have to do is lightly touch they keys with the wand. 


The software I chose to look at for an input device was called Dragon by a company called Nuance. It takes the speech from the person at the computer and it converts it into text. It is basically a speech into text program. This software could be used to allow someone with a visual or physical disability to use a computer.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Journal #7 - My Personal Learning Network (NETS 4 & 5)

A PLN (Personal Learning Network) is a network of people linked together with the purpose of sharing thoughts and ideas to improve as educators. A PLN can share lesson plans, teaching strategies, form support groups for new teachers, or just give someone a place to go who has a specific need or question. To build my PLN, I use Twitter, Diigo, and I have joined a message board called The Educator's PLN. These tools are invaluable for me as a teacher, because they give me a good place to discover the knowledge gathered by experienced teachers who have come before me. As a new teacher, I am limited in the resources available, but if I build a strong PLN, then the knowledge available to me increases greatly. 

A great place to start building your PLN is on Twitter. There are plenty of people on there for the sole purpose to help out in a variety of ways. I followed some great people who spend their free time making sure they pass on their knowledge. These people include Tom Whitby and David Wees from #edchat, and Lisa Dabbs, Joan Young, and Jerry Blumengarten from #ntchat. I was pleasantly surprised on the amount of time and hard work they put into these chats. On March 28 at 5:00 PM I joined #ntchat, seeing as I am a soon to be new teacher and this might help me. The topic was "How is Coaching & Mentoring Helpful?" They set up four questions and opened up chat for participants to answer. I contributed what little I could to the chat on my opinions of mentoring, and I received great insight as to what others think of coaching and mentoring new teachers. I learned that this topic is a bit of a controversy in some schools, and that some schools just don't offer coaching for new teachers. This chat got me to thinking how much I would gain from having a mentor, or even a coach when I start teaching. It made me think how much more comfortable I would be in a school that embraces me as a new teacher, and offers me assistance. When I choose a school to start my career, if I have the choice between two schools, one with mentoring and one without, I will definitely choose the one with mentoring.

Many of us have utilized bookmarks in our browsers, but these just give us a link to a site. This link loses it's meaning to us over time, and we can't share it if we wanted to. Diigo changes bookmarking for the better. It allows us not only to tag our bookmarks for our own recollection, but it allows us to describe the bookmark, highlight important parts, and to share out our links to other link-minded people. Diigo takes bookmarking, and turns it into another tool to enhance our PLN. It becomes another tool in our social network much like Twitter. It allows us to follow who we think are interesting, and provides a place to search for these people. I found some people to follow on Diigo by searching for the term PLN. I found a resource that had a list of blogs created by educators for educators. One of these blogs was about the use of technology in the classroom. The other two blogs I bookmarked were specifically about using technology in a history classroom, which was neat for me since that is the topic I want to teach. I found these blogs through a single post on Diigo, and I followed the person who linked the site. I then went into her profile and followed some of the people she had followed. You can see how this creates a network that is easily to navigate. I would have never found these blogs and these people to follow if not for Diigo. 

I signed up for an educational discussion forum called Educator's PLN. On this site there are various kinds of resources. There is the classic style discussion forum where you can ask questions, voice opinions, and share resources. Then there are sections which you can share videos, events, and blogs. It is all organized so that it is easy to use and that you won't get lost or run into dead ends. I glanced over the videos and I found one in particular that interested me. It was an animation by Sir Ken Robinson entitled "School Kills Creativity." In this video Ken draws and animates along as he talks about the current state of education. He states very strongly that the way we are teaching our kids today is based on an old technique that is no longer relevant. We no longer teach our kids to be successful in the world we live in today. A college education used to mean immediate access into a good job, and this no longer is the case. In a way I agree that we are teaching our kids like we are still in the enlightenment. Grades and standardized testing marginalize the kids who are not deemed "smart" and stifle creativity. We are so focused on the core subjects and the testing, that we cut things from the curriculum that could help kids after they graduate from high school. This one video on Educator's PLN video library brought all this thought to my head. I started to internally challenge the way I want to teach. This is a valuable resource to educators and is a great way to expand your own PLN.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Journal #4 - If You Give a Kid a Video Camera (NETS 1 & 2)

Campbell, L. (2012). If you give a kid a video camera. Learning and Leading with Technology, February, 30-33. Retrieved from


When kids are given technology, they seem to run with it. They suddenly become interested in it and want to become better and more creative. This is the starting approach this article takes, and encourages us to adopt new technologies as teachers that could benefit our kids. We must ask the question: how does technology deepen the students' understanding of the content? What are advantages and disadvantages in using the tool? And what role will the device have? Once these questions are answered, find a creative way to use video in your classroom to teach the content. She then details different ways in which you can use videos to help out in the classroom, and details ways in which video can help with math, science, and social studies. Video is beyond subject-matter learning, it is about creativity and learning in a problem-solving way. An example is during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, grade school children made videos of possible solutions and posted them on YouTube. This is an instance in which science was fun for the kids, and they were forced to be creative and think of the problem at hand to form a solution.


1. At what point does the video become a distraction and hurt their learning experience?

I feel that children will more often then not play around with things like video cameras more so then use them for constructive purposes. I don't necessarily agree this is a good use of technology in the classroom. It can be used responsibly, but the students should be monitored to some degree to make sure they are actually using it for a constructive purpose. We all have fun making silly videos about trivial things, but the real task at hand is using the video camera to enhance our kids' learning.

2. How do you implement these techniques of learning in classrooms in low income areas?

This idea seems very progressive and using technology has positive impacts on learning, but for some schools it just isn't possible due to budget problems. The beauty of using video in the classroom is that it only really requires a single camera and a single computer. Both of these items could be added to the classroom very easily, and there are options for buying cheap computers for teachers. There shouldn't be any budgetary issues in setting this up in the classroom.

Journal #3 - Infographics More than Words Can Say (NETS 1 & 2)

Krauss, J. (2012). Infographics more than words can say. Learning and Leading with Technology, February, 10-15. Retrieved from


Infographics are another way to encourage students to interpret, analyze, and create. The traditional method in teaching seems to be focused only on a student's ability to read and write, and is less focused on their abilities to think a problem through. She gives an example of a project that would have her students pretend to work for the Utah tourism bureau and to design a promotional poster to convince people to visit Utah for skiing. It not only encourages creativity, but it also encourages problem-solving and a higher level of thinking then just reading and writing what they think. A middle-school class is instructed to observe the livability in their town. They are sent around town to observe things that could be improved such as broken sidewalks and bike lanes that are blocked by trash cans and cars. It is through this collection of data that they can draw conclusions in order to solve the problems. And the last example is a 12th grade class in Philadelphia, who are to learn about the functioning of the US government executive branch. They make requests based on the Freedom of Information Act, and "apply" for student financial aid and a green card. They are hands-on with the experience and create pictorial representations of the process.


1. It seems there would be a lot of controversy surrounding this method of teaching. How do you convince the parents and administrators that this is the best way to teach?

I don't really have an exact answer to this question, but I would think that you show the process to them first-hand and let them draw a conclusion about it. If you just try to cram a new way of teaching down their throats, then you will be met with resistance.

2. The infographics in this article were very busy and hard to follow, how could we make sure our students can follow along?

We need to take a step back when we are creating infographics. Come back at a later day and see if they still make sense to us. If we have a hard time drawing information from the infographics, then our students for sure will as well. More isn't always better, and making something complex just for complexity sake is not a good practice.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Journal #2 - Join the Flock / Enhance Your Twitter Experience (NETS 3 & 5)

1. Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock. Learning and leading with technology, June/July, 13-14. Retrieved from


This article discusses the benefits on getting started with Twitter. She discusses how we as educators can learn from each other through the use of Twitter. She addresses issues in a chronological order which takes us from setting up an account, to learning to listen to others, to even putting our own ideas out there and sharing links with others. She describes what it means to follow and to be followed, as well as how to use hashtags. Overall I think she does a great job at introducing Twitter as a tool to us as teachers. We can learn a lot through its use, and we can really get what we need from it.


Would Twitter be an effective way to reach other teachers outside of our own personal network?


I believe Twitter would be a great way to reach teachers beyond your own school, or even district. It would allow for the larger spread of ideas, and it would allow new ideas to reach areas they may not have before. I feel things could become stagnant being in the same area for too long, and this allows a breath of fresh air when it is needed.

2. McClintock Miller , S. (2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning and leading with technology, June/July, 15-17. Retrieved from

This article is all about tools you can use to enhance your Twitter experience and make it easier to use. She recommends the use of TweetDeck, as it allows you to sort different kinds of tweets in columns. She believes that Twitter is effective for teachers and students, and it allows both access tho useful resources that otherwise would not be used. When on Twitter, she recommends that you be strategic with your time. Most of your time should be spent sharing your ideas and tools, while the smaller amount of time should be chatting a responding to other tweets. But in the end it is most important to build your PLN and make connections with others on Twitter.


How would we find tools like TweetDeck if it weren't for articles like this?


We can find cool and helpful tools by reading the Twitter feeds or actively searching on the internet for them. There are many other places that offer helpful tools, you just have to search for them. Once you find a tool you like to use and you think helps make your life easier, share a link of it on Twitter!