Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blog Post #12, My Final Reflection

What have I learned that I will take with me and will influence my teaching most from EDM510? Watch and see!

Click here to view my response.

screen shot of youtube video

Click here to get a sneak peek at the youngest ever EDM510 student! :)

Blog Post # 11

My PLP and PLN:

I have developed a Personal Learning Network through this class that will extend beyond its completion. That is exciting to me. I had not used Twitter before, and now it has allowed me to get quick updates from professionals from all over, swapping ideas and helping me to continually evaluate my practices and procedures, tweak when necessary, and always stay focused on being the best educator that I can be. The teachers that I have followed this semester are a big part of that network, Deb Frazier and Wes Fryer being the two biggest influences (one because she also teaches 1st grade and inspires me, and the other because he has constant new posts and great ideas of incorporating technology seamlessly into education). I also follow fellow educators from the county I teach in and my school. I love that parents and other teachers can follow me and see what my students are doing in the classroom as well. Twitter isn't only a great tool for developing a PLN, but also it's a great quick communication tool to stay connected with parents, etc.

My Professional Learning Plan is constantly evolving. I of course intend to complete my degree as a media specialist, which will open doors for me in that field. At the same time, I want to remain focused on improving as a classroom educator, since that's currently where I am. I intend to build a class blog for my students for next school year. Some assignments will allow for a more flipped classroom approach, and will help the parents to understand in a deeper way what we are covering in class (in particular writing and math). I intend to attend a 'Bring Your Own Device' seminar this summer offered through the MCPSS. I want to better utilize the devices that are brought to my classroom next year. That will involve time spent researching Apps, etc.

So, yes, I have both a PLN and a PLP, both of which are continuing to expand and grow as I do!

Bring your own device

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

C4T My Choice

April 11, 2014

Deb points out this week ways that we can build each other up as educators, and how through technology, students can also participate in this connectedness. Through blogging, even if the teacher is away from school sick, the students can still keep in touch with her. I am very nearly leaving my school for my maternity leave. In fact, I may have had my baby when they come back to school after spring break. This post makes me think of that for me and my students. How exciting to be able to share the baby's picture with them, and encourage them to continue to focus and learn lots, even while I am away. :)

Here is her post and my response.

child holding a letter from a teacher

Deb Frazier has shared her new math center routines with us and I'm grateful for it. As a first grade teacher, I've got reading centers down. I need to work on math centers, so that I have that 1:1 or small group time covering math concepts with my students for better impact as well. Her suggestions are great. She also linked some other helpful blogs with hers this week, so there is even more to research. This is good food for thought for this year and when planning for next. I'm glad she's part of my PLN.

Here is her post and my response.

math center chart

Deb Frazier has a great post about the power of quiet think time. It was a nice thing for me to reflect on as well. She said that one of her daughters helped her to recognize that there is power in time spent reflecting alone as well as partner or group work. So, Deb built a few stations in the room for centers that are individualized, and was surprised to see them fill up first. There is power in the individual time, time spent reflecting and not pressured to conform and work with the group as well, I suppose. It is interesting to think about for how I do my work with my first graders as well.

Here is her post and my response to it.


C4T #9

I read an excellent post written by Angela Maiers, titled, "Broke, Busted, and Disgusted." It talked about how we send our students and ourselves to colleges and rack up a huge debt getting a degree that they may not even be able to use. So, they go to work because they have to, not fulfilling their dreams or using their unique talents to their full potential, because they have to make money to pay bills. Then they buy stuff and more stuff like homes and stuff to fill the homes, etc. which builds more debt which they will slave to pay off. It robs people of their freedom to have the time to serve others and fulfill their passions. It was a really well written article. Plus, she goes around to high schools and tries to open teenagers eyes to this reality, hopefully sparing the next generation from making the same mistakes.

Here is a link to her blog and my response.

broke monopoly man

C4T Rotating #10

C4T rotating #10

Shelly Terrell posted an interesting blog about presenting learning as if it were a video game. We know that students spend significant amounts of time weekly pursuing video gaming goals. They will persevere even after failed attempts at challenges, etc. Thus, it makes sense to present material, homework, assessments, etc. as a gaming challenge. Beat this boss, earn these points, etc. when you do this task (what you would normally assign as homework, but digitally) and then the students are more motivated to participate in that learning. It sounds interesting. I told her so in my response and wondered how the assessments looked, traditional with paper/pencil or electronic to go more with the gaming theme, etc?

Here is her post and my response.

child playing a video game

I could't find a rotating list for this week (ending on 4-29), so I'll publish this as is. Thanks! MAP

C4T Assigned

April 11, 2014

This week Dr. Fryer was writing about the wrongs of high stakes testing. It is a toxic, threatening environment that does not encourage good teaching or engaging learning. We don't need to stop assessing, but paying huge amounts of money to pay for these detrimental high stakes testing tests is wrong. He makes a great point. He also has a 6 minute video reemphasizing his written blog points as well, if you're interested in watching it.

Here is a link to his post and video and my response.

I test under duress sign

April 17, 2014

Dr. Fryer posted about 1st grade students blogging and being inspired through interactive writing. How perfect for me, a first grade teacher! One of my number one goals for next school year is to kick it off early with blogging. They can do it! Plus, it'll only strengthen the home-school connection, which is crucial for a god school year. I saw that he was doing a workshop this summer in Alabama. I asked him when and where that would be. I'd love to attend! I bet my principal would like to go also.

Here is his post and my response.

April 29, 2014

My last post to Dr. Frye's page went with an article on Minecraft. He spoke about spending 6 or more hours gaming with his 10 year old daughter on Minecraft. My 10 year old son is also a big fan of this game. What a great way to connect, spend time together doing something that you know your child is way interested in, and becoming more tech. savvy at the same time! I liked the post and intend to share it with my son later.

Here is his post and my response to it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Week 15 Project

Argh! It's time to get bold, pirates! Do yourself a favor and read Dave Burgess' book, "Teach Like a Pirate" to know how to really dive in to shark infested waters and find treasure! This book is a good read and you won't regret it! This is a link to my video blog about the book. Enjoy!

Teach Like a Pirate Book Cover

Works Cited:

Burgess, Dave. Teach Like a Pirate. San Diego: Dave Burgess Consulting Inc., 2012.

Week 15 Blog Post - What did I leave out?

I have learned so much through taking this class! It has been an eye opener in many ways, and a positive affirmation in others. So, how could it be improved? Was there anything that was left out, in my elementary 1st grade teacher opinion?

I think that if you are currently an elementary school teacher, that it would be a good idea for these teacher/students of EDM 510 to have one or two less blogging following assignments, and instead they would use that time to create and manage their own classroom blog for their students. Their assignments could be to assign blogging work for their classroom kids, manage it, assist their students with creating similar work to what we are seeing the Pt. England students do, etc. Then the other EDM students could comment on these children's classroom blogs, and it would take the blogging to that next level.

It would force us to not wait until we are 100% comfortable with blogging to go ahead and venture there with our students. It would open up the home/school connection with parents and a bigger world audience (the other EDM students, you, etc.) commenting on and motivating our young students to create and write and blog. That would take time, so I would suggest limiting the other blogging assignments for these current teacher/EDM students, but I really think that this would be the way to implement what we are learning in class into the classroom for our kids.

Also, maybe have optional projects that we teachers could do in place of a different assigned project where we incorporate the technology that we are seeing through this class into the classroom and document that. So, instead of reading the articles and commenting or creating a project, etc. we could create a project for our class to do like we were already assigned, and then the next week we show how that went in the classroom and the results instead of a different task, etc.

I feel like I have done a good job taking what I am learning and applying it in the classroom and it's so great to see these happy results, but it would be nice to have that be an element of this course where we get to share and see how this is impacting the youth where we work.

Does that make sense?


kids working at a computer together

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Week 14 Assignment

This is a link to my video discussion about Topic 8, where I respond to Mr. Prensky's question, "How can we teach for the future?"

Prensky, Marc. Teaching Digital Natives, Partnering for Real Learning. United States: Corwin, a SAGE company, 2010.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


April 11, 2014

The first child I visited from Pt. England was L.J. He wrote about enjoying playing a math game, but being sad that he'd missed out on swimming lessons because he'd forgotten his togs. I introduced myself with my response and asked him, "What are togs, anyway?" :)

Here is his post and my response.

The next child I visited was Eva. She also wrote about swimming. She mentioned that one thing they learned while swimming was to kick with straight legs because it will help you to move faster. I introduced myself to her in my response and told her that I tend to kick my legs like a frog. No wonder I never win a swim race, I said! :)

Here is her post and my response.

The last child I visited this week was Tevita. He has created an informative slide show on o'possums using Goodle Drive. I think it's wonderful, what he created. It was a simple 5 slide presentation, and it discussed how where he lives these critters are considered pests because there are so many of them, yet in other places (because of a higher number of natural predators) they aren't a bother. I congratulated him on that comparison and on explaining why in one are there is a difference (because of the predators). That's a great skill, and a big Common Core push-- to be able to support your claim with evidence. I encouraged him to keep up the good work.

Here is a link to his post and my response.


April 17, 2014

The first student whose blog I visited today was Tavake. He had an animated short (about 30 seconds) where he voiced over the life cycle of a butterfly. I introduced myself to him and told him that I'd recently taught the lifecycle of a butterfly to my students and that I'd have to show them his video. I asked if he'd created the illustrations as well.

Here is his post and my response.

Stacey had created a very similar animation. I do think they created the illustrations themselves, which is pretty awesome. I commented a similar encouraging response to her as I did to Tavake. Stacey had also included exciting music near the end of the movie, and I complimented that as well.

Here is her post and my response.

Leilani was a younger student who did a video presentation telling a story about her friend Herold the giraffe. I told her I enjoyed her story and that I taught 6-7 year old children and that I thought they would enjoy doing a similar project as well.

Here is her post and my response.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blog Assignment #9

Here is what I learned from these different educators:

Brian Crosby started off his year by taking a survey which opened his eyes to the lack of background or world knowledge and schema that his students came with. This limits their understanding and learning capabilities. Through blogging and hands on learning activities (like the crushing can air pressure experiment or the hot air balloon event) the students not only build background knowledge that will help them to succeed on 'standardized tests' because now they have the background knowledge, but also through blogging they write about their experiences and become the teachers, recording the data and observations and making it into memories that last and are authentic learning experiences.

The students also used and created Wiki-pages, they used Flicker pages to store pictures that they took throughout their learning experiences, they incorporated cross curricular experiences by writing as if they were the balloon going on this trip, etc. This teacher uses free online software to enhance their projects. It's pretty incredible. :)

When the students see the hits that they are getting on their blogs, it encourages them to write and blog more. I loved how the students from elsewhere would write in things like, "We want to do the can crushing experiment, but our teacher doesn't know how." So, these students practiced and then presented via Skype to these other classrooms around the world and showed/taught them how. Teaching is the most powerful way to learn, and so they were 'shining' as well as reviewing the material and thus learning it better; owning it (not just spitting out memorized facts to soon be forgotten).

How amazing was it that he connected with the student with Leukemia?! She wasn't just a name on the roll, but an active member of the class, made possible through technology and through the willingness to make it happen by the teacher and class. How beautiful! Praise God for teachers like Brian Crosby!

Paul Andersen showed "blended learning" in the classroom. Flipped classrooms with the learning cycle inspired him, and he has shared that with us. I like that he is inspired to 'remix' and try new things, and is encouraging us to do the same. He reviewed the learning experience "the blended learning cycle" for science. It begins with a great question. The question is the hook, that gets them interested and invested. Then the students go to investigation and inquiry. Then there will be a video (which frees the teacher up to pull students). Next there is elaboration, and explanations that go deeper. Then review, where the teacher meets individually or in small groups and the teacher asks questions and grasps whether students understand the material or not. If the teacher feels that they get it, then they can quiz. If the summary quiz doesn't go well, they can go back.

I like that he said that the data should go into a shared spreadsheet. How cool for the students to see and participate in! I also like how he emphasized probing questions and having the students explain to show mastery in understanding.

Mark Church
had students leading discussions as a group, working together, and formatting their own topic statements or questions to summarize their learning. It was nice to see the quality discussions taking place in the classroom.

Sam Pane discussed building comics, building "Super Digital Citizens" where their super hero steps in to help out someone who would not be using safe/responsible choices with digital citizenship before they could make that mistake. How awesome! ALL these students were engaged! What a cool way to build in language arts standards with technology. Then, the gallery walk was a great way to have an authentic audience, to be an authentic audience, and to critique and revamp their work.

Students will be faced with online activities that they will have to choose to act or not act in. If we don't take the time to teach them how, we aren't preparing them for that potentially scary reality. This is a super fun way to teach digital safety and responsibility. What a cool lesson! I immediately shared the link with my principal because it is just so great!

Dean Shareski shared a video about PBL. This just reinforced what I've already come to appreciate about PBL. It is powerful, engaging, and successful. The learning is student led and lasts. It was neat to see the team teaching for history, writing, and information technology with the three teachers working together to accomplish this deeper learning.

Roosevelt Elem.'s PBL video also reinforced the importance of PBL. The time is necessary to make a great project, but it is well worth the time spent because the learning is authentic, lasting, in-depth, integrated instruction, it takes real-world problems and the students research, the kids create projects as they learn, and it is not just a teacher talking, rather it is a student solving real world problems and engaging in discussions together. It shows understanding in an applicable way. Through PBL presentations, public speaking, discussions, and decision making happens at a young age. It prepares them to succeed as adults.

This was a great assignment. I appreciated the selected videos because it affirmed the quality teaching I strive to do already, while stretching me with new ideas and ways to incorporate technology and learning as well.

digital citizenship

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog Post # 8

Here are the things that I learned from listening to the pod-cast.

Ensure that essential questions are relevant and meaningful to the students. Make sure that students have several choices on ways to study and create. Student voice and choice is important, and allows them to choose what it most interesting to them, and that they have options as to how to respond and present what they're learning. Also, make sure when doing project based learning, that our expectations are high, yet not overwhelming or frustrating. Scaffold into smaller steps the project, so that the students are feeling the successes with bite sized assignments throughout the project, so they get that affirmation and keep wanting to learn and do more versus getting frustrated and feeling overwhelmed.

Try to plan PBL activities that have real-world positive impacts.

What can we do to engage more teachers in PBL? It must be consistent. Pick a tool, become proficient with it, use it for a week or two with the class. Then, that is now in your tool box that you can use it over again throughout the year. Then, choose another tool and do the same. Eventually you will have a fat tool bag of technology that they have learned to use (and you have used) and utilize well when teaching/learning the standards. Share this with your peers. Have an open door classroom. Teach the 8 steps of PBL, in order, over 8 weeks to the class, so that eventually they take control over this and are forming their own essential/driving questions, etc. Explicitly teach the process of PBL, so they get the big idea of the learning and sharing behind it.

The students appreciate PBL. The students are engaged and excited. Students in that environment are thriving. A school wide initiative is important for buy-in on PBL. (As a personal note, I feel it will be difficult in MCPSS schools to do this as fluently as it sounds as A. Capps' school has, because we don't have all the same tools/technology. Thus, we are limited to the time in the lab to really have access to the tools we need to incorporate technology with PBL. That's not an excuse to not work towards the goal of having a school community where PBL is the norm, and has the students loving learning and school. It's just an observation that I recognize as a challenge and I need to think on how we could have buy-in as a school and have it happening regularly without the school-wide same technology access.)

Teacher training on PBL seems like an important professional development idea. (I'll have to share that with my principal. Perhaps that would allow us to incorporate this in a more prevalent way.) The roll out is with a few teachers, and then with the whole community of teachers. Having a teacher leader with the skills and drive in place helps to keep the focus and guide the professional development, etc., is important.

Authentic audiences are important. Grades above and below, stuffed animals, parents, other school staff, etc. The students together critique and advise and revise their work and their presentations throughout the PBL process.

Keep parents abreast of PBL, and assessment expectations.

PBL image

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

C4T My Choice

C4T My Choice, #5, March 12, 2014

This week Deb posted about a March Writing Everyday Challenge that she and 17 or her 21 students have opted to take. I'm excited to see what she shares. Also, she gave a teaser to look for more information to come soon about a recent professional development conference that she attended discussing small group math activities for young students. I can not wait to read more about that. I want to do more of that in my classroom, and am interested to hear her advice and tips.

teacher working one on one with a student

C4T My Choice #6, March 22, 2014

This week Deb spoke about the blessing of working with peers who support you and make coming to school a delight. It inspired me to be a better friend/supportive peer teacher to my team as well. The school family can be a powerful thing. It sounds like she has a great team. Mine can be pretty solid as well, but I am still inspired to do even more now because I see how impacting it can be. It can help establish an atmosphere that is positive and more conducive for supporting and teaching students as well. We can make a difference in little ways, every day.

Here is a link to her blog and my response.

C4T My Choice #7

This week Deb had an amazing post! It was all about math centers for first graders. It was long, it had many resources, and it made my 1st grade math brain spin in a good way. I intend to save this link and revisit several times. I will likely share it with my 1st grade peer teachers as well.

Here is a link to her post and my response.

C4T My Choice #8

This week Deb wrote about being sick and away from school, and how the students can show you what they've learned by writing posts still. How cool that the teacher and students can still be connected with technology even when they are separated by sickness. That is a neat aspect to technology that I hadn't thought of before. She wrote of other silver lining moments to being sick as well, but that one really struck me as being one that used technology in a powerful way in the classroom and beyond.

Here is her positive post and my response to it.

kid blogging

C4T Assigned

C4T Assigned #5, March 12, 2014

It looks like Dr. Fryer presented to an older group about the benefits of technology use in the youth today. This group, perhaps, is too nostalgic, scared, or bitter to appreciate the increased technology use of the youth of today. He tried to sway that view though, by challenging them to recognize how technology allows for collaboration, creation, and connections that wouldn't be possible otherwise. I asked him how his message was received? I wonder if it is a topic that is already decided on, or if they were willing to be open minded and if so did anyone share that their opinions have changed? Will they reconnect with their grandchildren via technology now, instead of view it as the great dividing presence separating them from having the connection they'd dreamed they'd have?

Here is the link to his post and my comment.

an older generation using technology

C4T Assigned #6, March 22, 2014

Dr. Fryer discussed a connected web experience where he and his wife connected with other students and teachers from Tanzania and New York by using Google's connected classrooms. They discussed the global water crisis. I thought this was a timely post for me personally because my son's teacher is setting up just such an experience for them to take place next week. They will video conference with students from New Jersey to share different local traditions. We will share about Mardi Gras, and I'm waiting to hear what they will share about. I was really excited when she told me about it yesterday after school because she said to prepare for it the class discussed Mardi Gras and it's origins and all. This led to a discussion about Lent, which many of the students nor she knew much about. My son is Catholic, so she asked him to tell about it. The responses she said he shared made me so excited! He was able to discuss Ash Wednesday, Lenten sacrifices, the 'why' behind it, what he personally is doing for Lent, preparation for Easter, etc. When I shared this with my husband he mentioned that there are lots of Catholics in NJ, so perhaps this will be brought up then and they can relate, which would be neat for my son (and his teacher/peers) to see how universal Catholicism and Lent are, while at the same time teaching them about Mardi Gras.

Here is link to his post and my response.


C4T Assigned #7

Dr. Fryer discussed BYOD for his church, and how when they meet he prefers to have paperless notes, etc. He asked if there was anything other than dropbox that we could suggest for sharing files. I mentioned i-cloud and having a shared network, like what we have at my school. There is a shared staff drive, but the only thing is, the teachers have to go to it, versus having the documents come to them like in an e-mail. It requires that everyone check it, etc.

Here is a link to my response to his post.

C4T Assigned #8

In this post, Dr. Fryer showed how to use Apple T.V. mirroring, with step by step instructions. It is a very helpful and succinct informative post. I commented that while we don't have this in our classrooms yet, I hope that one day we will. When I did a week long library internship recently at a private high school, I was able to use this when presenting to some classes. It was a great teaching/learning tool!

Here is a link to my post.

apple t.v. mirroring with i-pad

C4K #2

March 22, 2014

Today I visited blog posts from second grade students from Pt. England school. They had created stories and added video of themselves explaining or reading it as well. Melina wrote a 'Fitness Story' and when describing it she used lots of similes, like "At fitness time, I jump like a frog." As a first grade teacher, I strive to have my students include similes in their writing, and I shared that with her. I asked if she did the same, and said I'm sure she was great at that.

Here is a link to my response to her blog.

Punaiuru did a story about going to the park to play with her cousin. I told her that the weather here is becoming spring like after a colder than normal winter and that she has me wanting to go play at the park now. I encouraged her to keep up the good writing because you never know who you'll inspire, like she has inspired me to go out and play at the park with her latest story.

Here is a link to my response to her blog post.

Danielle wrote a story describing Harold the Giraffe. I told her I appreciated her good use of adjectives, and that I encourage my first graders to use lots of describing words in their writing as well.

Here is a link to my response to her post.


C4K March 26, 2014

The students from Pt. England whose blogs I visited today have been blogging for a few years now and you can tell! Just the set up and backgrounds for their pages are more personalized and busy, and of course they're older and can respond more with their posts, etc. It's neat to see that progression.

The first child I visited was Sarona. She wrote about cyclones. I told her about hurricanes and how they can affect us here on the Gulf Coast. Here is a link to that post.

Lotu was a student who wrote about swimming and areas in which she knew she needed to improve. It was great to see her self reflect and analyze like that, pinpointing what specific things she needs to do to get better. I encouraged her to keep up the good work and affirmed that with hard work, success comes. Here is a link to my response on her blog.

Flora had a simple post about setting academic goals for writing and math for the week. I encouraged her to work towards them. I also commented on her pretty art that she'd posted. It had musical symbols with polka dots. I asked if she enjoyed music and if she played an instrument. It wasn't listed as a goal for the week, but maybe it is something she works on as well. Here is a link to my response to her post.

C4K April 8, 2014

Again this week I am visiting the blog posts of students from Pt. England school. They have been blogging for 2-3 years now.

The first child I visited was Hannah. She created a short animated film (18 seconds) on "empathy" using Hyperstudio and imovie. It's really exciting to see that she was able to do this at such a young age! I told her so and that I look forward to seeing what else she creates.

Here is the link to her video and my comment.

The second child was Jalen. Jalen wrote about learning to swim. I told Jalen that where we live is close to a large body of water, the Gulf of Mexico, and I asked if he could find it on a map. I also shared that our summer weather was hot, and many people had pools for outside fun during the summer. I told him that swimming is not part of our P.E. curriculum, but that it sounded great that he and his friends were learning to swim for safety reasons as well as exercise and fun.

Here is a link to my response to his post.

The third child was Zane. Zane was doing a book review/opinion writing on "Big Nate" which is a graphic novel written for his age in comic strip style. My son, who is in 4th grade, has recently been reading and enjoying this series. I told him so, and suggested he check out "Calvin and Hobbs" as well, because it is similar humor. I asked if he thought 1st grade students would enjoy "Big Nate" yet?

Here is a link to my response to his post.

C4T Rotating

C4T Rotating #5, March 12, 2014

I totally related with the post that I just read and commented on this week. The teacher's blog post title was "Always on the Clock" and she brought up a different aspect of teaching. It's the aspect of always having to be mindful of the fact that you are no longer anonymous. Going out to eat with pony tail hair and yoga pants doesn't disguise you. More than likely, you will run into one or more student/parent and have to have a conversation with them, even if you feel grungy and would rather just not. It is something that I have experienced before as well. I teach in the town where I live, and I do run into students and families that I have previously taught or am currently teaching quite frequently. For me, I'm not too bothered by this. I try not to wear 'masks' so I generally wouldn't be wearing or doing anything that I would be mortified for others to see me doing; but I do relate. It's nice to be off the clock sometimes, and with our mini-celebrity like status, it can seem like paparazzi at times, when we really are feeling crabby or unkempt and there we go running into another family. Haha!


C4T Rotating #6, March 22, 2014

I visited Ms. She's blog, the teacher of the students whose blogs I visited this week for my 3 C4K blogging assignment. It's cool to see the teacher blogging as well as encouraging the students to do so. She wrote about how she'd given the students the tools and time to create, and while she worked to record one student, another snapped a picture of her working with the student, making her the story. It was neat to see her reflection, and remember that you never know when a student is watching and learning from you, even when you're not officially teaching a lesson, you are teaching. Through words, actions, etc. It's a good reminder to make sure you're always trying to be loving and patient and encouraging, because you're always being watched and remembered by your young students.

Here is a link to my response to her post.

C4T Rotating #7

This week I commented on Scott McLeod's "Dagerously Irrelevant" blog. He pointed out how negatively worded many technology plans are for schools. He suggested that they reword these plans to show positive actions. Instead of "Do not x, y, z." That it could better be written, "Do use resources to make a positive impact, etc."

Here is my response to his post.

C4T Rotating #8

This week I visited Dr. Will's blog and saw videos about flipped professional development. It was interesting to see and think about. One of the comments to this post suggested that older teachers who are more unfamiliar with technology would benefit from this method of introducing technology because they would be able to learn at their convenience and alone, feeling less intimidated. I wondered if this were accurate or not? I also noticed that she said she was from Mobile, AL and that we have not incorporated technology and that is a reason she will be looking elsewhere for a job. I countered her claim with my response, giving evidence of ways that I have seen and participated in a growing use of technology in our public schools. I don't like that our school system was presented as if we have no technology use. That's simply a grossly misguided statement. It is true that we need to incorporate more and I hope to see that happening (and am optamistic that I will); but to state that there is no technology use is misleading and false; so I was pleased I saw this and had an opportunity to present a different view of out school system (backed up with examples of from my personal experience).

Here is a link to the post and my response.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

ALEX Assignment

1) Here is a link to my ALEX personal workspace. My username is mpouliot.

2)Mental Math Lesson Plan: This is a lesson plan that focuses on increasing the understanding of using the 100's chart as a tool to see double digit numbers and increasing or decreasing in units or 10. Ex: what is 10 more than 27? What is 20 less than 45? Etc. Here is a link to that lesson.

3)Adjectives Lesson Plan: This is a lesson plan that has students competing to sort adjectives into four different categories- color, size, shape, or kind. The students will first have to locate the adjectives from simple sentences like "The pink pig is fat." (Pink and Fat) and then they would either work together or compete to place these adjective words in the correct category. It seems like fun! Her is a linkto that lesson plan.

4) 1st grade Alabama Course of Study Objectives for English/Language Arts: Here is the link to the E/LA 1st grade standards. From here you can search what needs to be taught throughout the year, as well as peruse lots of different pre made lesson plans and interactive web resources. You would need to check your school systems quarterly pacing guides to see what objectives should be taught when for where you teach, but the resources and materials area available here to assist you with planning throughout the year.

5) 1st grade Alabama Course of Study Objectives for Math: Here is the linkto the Math 1st grade standards. Much like the E/LA standards, this is a comprehensive list of all the math objectives that you'd need to teach for 1st grade. Again, check the individual pacing guides for your school system, but this resource offers abundant resources (lesson plans, interactive websites, videos, etc.) to assist you as you teach the concepts throughout the year.

6) Technology Education Standard: The Technology Education standards are from 2009, and are divided up into chunks. I will highlight the K-2 standards, because I'm focusing on 1st grade. Here is a link to the list of standards. Each standard has lesson plan examples available for you to search, bookmark, and use. There are also interactive websites, PowerPoints, videos, etc. for many as well. This is a good tool to use when planning for incorporating technology into your lesson plans. Technology should really be a seamlessly integrated part of all lessons though, but when it's necessary to evidence in your plans that a particular tech. standard has been covered, this is a good resource.

screen shot of my ALEX personal workspace welcome page

Blog Post # 7, 21st century Learning and Communication Tools

I am a 1st grade teacher, so I will highlight 21st century tools that I think would be beneficial to to first grade classrooms (as well as other grades). I will highlight: 1) An interactive math program that is wordless, 2) the 'flipped' classroom, and 3)An interactive website, "".

1) A wordless math program: My sweet husband introduced this to me, through TED talks. How exciting that my husband, an education major, is part of my PLN! :) This is the link to a brief video that explains the 'why' behind the product, and here is a link to the actual interactive product. You can play on it and see for yourself how it works. It doesn't 'say' anything, rather you logically (through trial and error) discover how to solve math problems for this penguin. It allows students to develop an understanding of math concepts in a deeper way than previously accomplished through a teacher talking and telling them how to solve problems. The success rate/results seem impressive, and I'm excited about looking into purchasing this for my students.

screen shot of the demo ST Math demo game

2) A 'flipped' classroom: Our principal introduced this to us recently. This is the idea that you preview the main teaching concepts of the day before students get to school, the night or weekend before with brief online videos. You can make them yourself, or pull them from Khan Academy or other online resources, and they will pre teach what you would normally spend time in the classroom covering. This way, when the students are at school, instead of spending time doing that, you can allow them time to practice independently the concept taught. Thus, you are free to walk around and interact with them, discuss what they are doing, and more authentically monitor their learning than in the traditional method of teach at school, independent practice at home (where if a problem arises, they are out of luck because you're not there to assist) etc. Here is a link to a video on a 'flipped' classroom, introducing 1st graders on how to use "youtube" to access future 'flipped' classroom lessons.

3) An interactive website - "" BrainPopJr is an interactive website that is perfect for 1st grade students. Many of the academic concepts that we cover for the year are available on this site. The site is set up so that you can select a topic that you are studying, watch a brief video (roughly 5 minutes or so) and then participate in activities, such as on-line quizzes (easy or hard), vocabulary lessons, jokes, drawing or writing activities, links to books and other resources where you can study this concept further, etc. The characters in the videos are engaging for the students, and the videos are able to bring to life concepts in a more powerful/memorable/understandable way through sound, sight, movement, example, etc., than just I as a talking teacher could do. It has free videos that the students can access at home, or they can subscribe for a membership, as you can do as a teacher (or a school). It's well worth it! It covers all academic fields, not just science, but math, reading, writing, arts, etc. Here is a link to this resource.

brainpopjr screen shot

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Week 11 Assignment, AVL for 1st graders

Since I am currently a 1st grade teacher, it made sense to me to select first grade students as my audience. How could I introduce them to an electronic resource, such as the AVL, so that they can extend their learning outside of the school day? As long as they have internet access, they can connect to the AVL (Alabama Virtual Library) and hunt for information of interest to them all day and all night long. That's pretty exciting! The students don't have to be in a school building or an actual physical library to retrieve information to use to create projects or just research for fun.

Since 1st graders will likely be visiting the AVL for the first time, I tailored my presentation to meet that need. I used lots of step-by-step screen shots to show them exactly where to click and how to search. Here is my presentation.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

PBL #2

Here is a link to my webpage that has my second project based learning plan and rubrics liked to it. It is a 1st grade science project where we learn about conserving the Earth's resources, describing the uses of recycled materials, and collect the data on how many items we collect/sort/recycle with appropriate tools and technology. I'd also planed for our class to collaborate with the school PTA to help with he transportation of the goods to be recycled, and to then donate our earnings to a PTA school beautification project. We could also present our recordings/project at the next PTA meeting, providing an awesome authentic audience!

reduce, reuse, recycle

Blog Post #6, What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?

First of all, I love this "Last Lecture" and am so glad to be assigned to view it. It has been too long since I'd last viewed it. I've also read the book. Dr. Pausch is so inspiring! He had a gift for speaking and striving for goals and inspiring others to do the same. Plus, he loved Disney, so that right there = points in his favor.

He used his unique gifts and talents for lecturing to provide the world with a lesson and insight into his own life and experiences that will touch others for a long, long time. I know that personally I have been inspired, as just me, and as professional/teacher me.

Some of the things that have made the longest lasting impact from the first viewing through this one are:
The brick walls aren't there to stop me. They're there to stop those other people. The ones who'll give up. They're there, but they won't keep me from achieving my dreams. How powerful! With a mentality like that, nothing is impossible!

brick wall

I also loved hearing about how he was so impressed with the products his students had created. He went to his mentor and friend and asked, "What do I do? What do I say to them? They blew me away today!" And his wise friend said to go in for the next class meeting and let them know that what they'd done was alright, but that he expected a lot more in the future. Genius! The sky is truly the limit and we as teachers don't need to lower the skyline. We should keep pushing and encouraging our students to soar even higher, because they can!

The third most impressive part to me as a teacher and person was listening to how he appreciated when his students failed, and failed big time. The goal is not to be safe, but to shoot for the stars, and be alright with failing, because as long as you don't let that stop you from pressing on, then it is not a failure at all, but a catalyst that propels you further in your creating!

Finally, we need to have fun! Life should be fun! Learning should be fun! Naturally, it is! Don't set up life so that it loses this element!

I love Dr. Pausch's inspiring words and I hope you do too. They make me laugh and cry and inspire me to be an even bigger, better, more fun version of myself, as a person and as a teacher, every time I reflect on them.

Here is the link to his last lecture video. I highly encourage you to view it if you haven't had the pleasure before. (Or watch it again if it has been a while!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

PBL #1

For our first PBL group assignment, we created a project where 1st grade children would work as a group, select a Dr. Seuss story, read and note key details (such as characters, setting, problem, solution, feeling words, etc.) and then relate characteristics of these characters to themselves. They would have to base their opinions off of examples from the text. Then, using technology, they would create a project that showed these details, their opinions, the examples from the text, and how it related to them.

Here is a link to my website which has links to the Google Docs for PBL #1 and the rubrics on it.

Link to my web page here.

screen shot of my web page

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Asking Questions

This is a topic that has been on my mind several times this academic year. I am part of a math focus team at my elementary school, and one of our big focuses has been on 'talk moves' and asking quality questions. When good discussion is taking place, the atmosphere in a classroom is energized, filled with student led learning taking place, and allowing the teacher to step back and take in the differing depths of understanding showing in the students. This is the goal! We want to create classroom environments where the students not only participate in discussions in response to the teachers prompting questions, but by sparking their own discussions with questions of their own.

We first have to establish a classroom climate and expectation that we are all the teachers. We are all in charge of our learning and participating in learning activities that further our understanding of the material being covered. This can be done in an orderly way. I think that sometimes, especially in younger grades like 1st grade where the students can get excited and hyper rather quickly, teachers fear having the discussions as a major part of the lesson plan. Maybe they fear not having control of the group, or not being able to cover what they want/need to, or perhaps they never saw classroom questioning and discussions taking place so they just don't know how to implement this in their rooms yet. To this fear I would say, risk it! You never know until you try, and I can say from experience that the quality of learning taking place in my classroom now that the students are comfortable contributing, asking their own questions, adding on to a friends thought, clarifying, etc. is far higher now than it ever was when it was mainly me talking and thinking naively that they were all getting what I was saying.

Learning takes place when you teach. This is especially evident to me with math. I have become much more confident with my own math abilities since I became a teacher and through explaining to others how or why something worked, I noticed patterns and familiarized myself with it to an extent that I 'know' it now. Well, offer the students that same opportunity! Let them teach it! Let them ask questions, let them answer, show other ways of solving problems, use lots of different tools to solve problems, add on to friends ideas, and contribute to the learning taking place. When they are the ones explaining and in control, they are 'owning' it. Plus, it lets you know very clearly who has it, who is struggling, and who has surprised you with yet another unique way of solving a problem!

All of this builds on setting up the atmosphere for a classroom climate that expects full participation from all, and is founded on good questioning and discussion methods. I agree with Dr. Maryellen Weimer, author of "Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom." It is important to plan good questions ahead of time, versus just relying on coming up with clear, deep questions to surface at the time of the lesson. Planning ahead allows you to ensure that the questions you ask are not only clear and understandable, but that they ask for deeper levels of response (avoiding the simple, 'yes' and 'no' responses). I also like her suggestion to not answer all questions right away. For, that triggers other students to shut down because a response has been given. Either have some questions that aren't answered until the end, or allow all students to write their own responses so that they contribute before they answer aloud, or practice with the students so that they know that one response won't cut it, and that way they stay tuned in.

I love her last two lines, "Eventually students may start asking better questions themselves, including ones that we can't answer. And those are the best questions of all." That is the goal! We want children who are thinking, actively engaged, answering our well thought out questions, and even asking questions of their own.

boy asking a question

Works Cited:
Weimer, M. (2012, June 27). Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications. Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

C4T Rotating #1

C4T Rotating #1:

I read a post made by Tony Baldasaro which was about a typical Monday administrative meeting where the administration team all put their heads together and discuss all sorts of aspects, but always try to incorporate their philosophy into the discussions to keep the mission as their focus. This particular Monday meeting was particularly relevant to him because as the discussion was plugging along (and the normal distractors made their way into the conversation. . . things like state testing scores, board approval, funding, etc.) the administrator said 9 simple words that brought the conversation back into focus. Those 9 words were, "But, If we're really going to change the world. . ." and Tony was so impressed that with 9 simple words the whole point of it all was brought back into main focus.

In my reply I introduced myself and included a link to EDM510's blog page as well as my blog page. I mentioned that I was hoping to discover that through blogging we could be changing the world through good communication not limited by location or distance. I mentioned that we would be commenting on young student's blogs beginning next week and that this shows to be motivational and affirming to the students, encouraging them to care and write even more and with better effort. This, I mentioned, is a bit of that change that we hope to see in the world.

I asked him to share what some of the suggestions or thoughts were that followed those 9 powerful words. I asked if there were any 1st grade thoughts that he could share with me, since I'm currently a 1st grade teacher. I'm excited to follow him for 3 weeks and see what sort of correspondence we develop.

Here is a link to his post: (click here)

change the world

C4T Rotating week 2:

This week I was able to view on a post from the Port England School which had a video made by Google to highlight how using Google and Google Docs in particular has made a big impact in their learning. The video is less than 2 minutes, but it is packed full of insight and exciting possibilities. I enjoyed seeing the community brought together to have learning taking place all the time, versus only when in the school building.

I commented as much in my post. I also stated that I liked the statement that was made which said that when children have access to the internet, the have the ability to manage their own learning. I thought, what a powerful statement! I wondered what the students there that now have the technology and access to the internet, so the tools and the know how, what have they pursued learning? I'm curious to see if they have data on that and if so, what it shows.

This should be a link to the video if you'd like to watch it yourself. Below is an image of the video. Here is a link to their webpage which has the video on it as well: (click here)

google video image

C4T Rotating week 3:

This week I visited John T. Spencer's blog and read his post about "close reading," a reading strategy that has been the talk of the year for many teachers in many schools. Many teachers hate it! He presents this strategy in a way to be used as a tool during other learning activities, not to be used as the sole reason for reading or the objective of the reading lesson. Using close reading for the sake of close reading is of course going to inspire loathing from teachers as well as students. Rather, if in use as a strategy when participating in something engaging and still interest based/student led, then it can be a powerful tool.

I asked if his thoughts were expressed to administrators, and if so, what were their reactions? It makes good sense to me. Still, I know that many teachers do feel the pressure of having to have this strategy in use as evidence for administrators to see on walk throughs, etc. and this likely leads to overuse and what he referred to in his post.

Here is a link to his blog post: (click here)

close reading image and definition

February 26, 2014

The blog I visited was discussing something very similar to what the last student whose blog I visited this week discussed. How we need to not be biased and unwilling to think from the other side's point of view in educational areas and in all areas. The student spoke using dirt bikes as an example, whereas the educator spoke on whole words versus phonics, math facts and procedures versus problem solving, project based learning versus traditional teach and assess methods, etc. and other school related debates. How interesting that as a professional adult, we are recognizing and discussing on adult levels the same concerns that a seventh grader expressed on a 7th grade level.

I asked him the same question. How did he suggest we move past only thinking one way, and diplomatically move into conversations of consequence, where we can recognize good points from both sides and use all aspects to enhance our teaching styles?

Cartoon depicting being biased

March 9, 2014

The post that I read this week was titled, "You have permission to be strict." It discussed how sometimes students confuse being strict with being mean, and the post discussed the differences between the two. Being strict is not mean (selfish, angry, cutting, etc.) rather, it is having high expectations and keeping the reigns tight to help the students focus as they learn, etc. I appreciated the post because it is something that all teachers I'm sure struggle with. Am I being too strict? Are my students happy? Etc. But, as I shared with my reply, I have found that in my own classroom, the more strict and consistent I am, the more at peace, well performing, and happier my class is. So, it's me affirming him, and him affirming me with the post this week. :)

Here is his post and my response.

C4T semester long assignment

C4T assigned week 1:

Here is a link to Dr. Fryer's blog.

I spent lots of time perusing Dr. Fryer's page. I feel like Dr. Strange paired me up with the perfect person to follow. Already in one evening I am thinking differently about how technology could look in my 1st grade classroom. This is really exciting! I am really optimistic that through following his posts (He's on Twitter too) that I will learn and incorporate a lot of technology into my routine at school.

Of course I introduced myself and included links to EDM510 and to my personal blog in my initial post. I also commented on his topic of the post which was visual note taking. How neat! I've seen short clips done through this style, and I've been so engaged during them, never once thinking that this could be a technique that I introduce and use with my students to help them record information and tell stories, etc. How exciting! He has lots of links on his posts, so I look forward to going back and exploring them further.

The question I asked in my response was, "If you could introduce me to one new way/method of incorporating technology that I could take and implement in my classroom tomorrow, what would it be and why?" I'm excited to see what he responds back with! :)

What do you want to create today? list of activities

February 15, 2014, week 2

In Dr. Fryer's last post, he introduced some professional development opportunities that are coming up soon. They will be presented via video-conferencing for the next 7 weeks on Thursday evenings. The topics covered will be: Quick Edit Videos, E-books, and Simulations or Games. It is a new course, a part 2 to a previous course covering other technology based learning tools.

I asked if this was something that could be taken without having taken the part 1 course before. I also asked if these were tools that he could see being fruitfully used in a 1st grade classroom where the student teacher ratio is 20+ to 1, or were these tools more appropriate for older students (3rd grade and higher). I'm curious to hear his thoughts.

Week 3, February 22, 2014:

Dr. Fryer was not only commending the last'EDCampOKC' he recently attended in his last post, but he was also talking about Twitter and ways to use it well. He said that while he normally blogs about such meetings and conferences, he finds it useful to tweet during them, linking good information and thoughts as they are being shared. He has formed tweet groups, and they will meet at scheduled times and chat, etc. It sounds like Twitter being used for educational purposes with a strong PLN aspect to it. He also cautioned about the good tweet links/info being lost due to so many at one time. He has a solution though: 'Storify' such sessions, so that you save this information and don't lose it, but can go back and check it out later again. The question I asked was did he have a good suggestion for a brief tutorial on "storify" or how to create "tweet nests?"

tweet nest

Dr. Fryer responded back already! Here is what he shared with me for "Storify" , and here is a link for his response to creating a "twitter nest." How cool to get such a great, thorough response. Whoop-whoop! :)

February 28, 2014

This week Dr. Fryer posted his slide show that he is using at a Missouri technology workshop. I took the time to go through all 79 slides, and even though I didn't attend the conference or hear his talk that went with the images, I was still able to gather from the images about what he discussed. It went along with the theme of his recent book, which gives practical ways to bring technology into the classroom. I found one thing he wrote to be quite powerful. He said, "Digital Literacy today means much more than surfing the internet and using Microsoft Office." This is a big way that I try to incorporate technology into my first grade room, so now the challenge has been made. Do more, because that's not enough to prepare your students to be digitally literate anymore.

Uncle Sam want's you to embrace digital literacy

C4T my choice

C4T my choice #1

I chose to follow Deb Frazier, a first grade teacher and blogger (click here to visit her page), whose 1st grade website excited me tremendously. As a 1st grade teacher, one of my main goals for this class, and for my developing technology PDP, is to increase the amount of technology use in my classroom. Yet, I don't want to do technology for technology's sake; rather, I want to teach in more effective ways and allow my students to become more prepared for the technologically rich world that they live in. I want them to create using technology, and I know that using technology will only help me facilitate strong learning, exploration and creation while engaging my students. . . if done right. Well, this teacher's website made me think, she is doing it right! She's not only on my grade level, but she is meeting and exceeding standards by using technology in 1st grade friendly ways and sharing about it. Her own blog seems great as well.

I introduced myself with my first comment, included the link for EDM510USA and for my own blog page, and then discussed her post. She had written about going into an enchanting book store and purchasing some new books for her class. She limited herself to three, and then wrote a bit of a teaser for each title. I am really curious to see how the last book, the one about the good wolf, turns out. She wondered if her students would predict the ending or be as surprised as she was with what happened. I asked her to share their reactions, and asked which of the three new books her first graders preferred. Perhaps I'll need to get a copy for my classroom library.

Here is a screen shot image from her blog. Doesn't this book look and sound so perfectly intriguing?

Book Cover and Description from Deb Frazier's Blog

February 15, 2014, week 2

I read a post that was very positive written by Deb that celebrated different things. She celebrated personal things (like her 34th anniversary with her husband, her daughters recent successes, etc.) but she also celebrated school related news. For one thing, they had 4 days of school this week. They've been having less because of snow. So, that was exciting as well as exhausting for her! She also had parent-teacher conferences take place. She mentioned that she really enjoys this, even though it means more time outside of school, later hours, and more work-- because it is so great to get a more full picture of the child that the parents bring. She loves hearing about the "different child" that lives at home; and she loves sharing with the parents about the "different child" that is in her classroom during the week.

I find this teacher very easy to relate to. I also enjoy parent teacher conferences because I think it's a strength of mine. I feel it is important to affirm for the parent that their child is wonderful. Even with the most difficult student, I can do that, because even the most difficult student has qualities that are unique and contribute to the class positively in various ways. I feel that during such meetings a stronger home-school connection is established, and I think this is one of the most important aspects for a child's success in school. When the student sees that education is important to mom/dad, then he/she will view it as important too. Thus, he/she will put in more effort to achieve in school.

I asked her what other ways she maintained a strong home-school connection, and I asked if the students see this communication taking place.

home and school connection image

Week 3 post, February 22, 2014

I had to go back a few weeks to see a new post today because she hadn't posted this week. I loved what I came across. Deb talked about coming back from winter break as the beginning of the school year, looking for a fresh start. She incorporated the students on this process. She asked them for input on what they would like to tweak to make better. Their discussion and the reasons behind their suggestions were impressive. Together, they worked to make the changes. The next day she had a slide show with the changes and reasons for them labeled which really excited the students. It gave them ownership of the classroom, making it their space for their creative needs. How cool!

I wondered what my students would suggest if I posed the same question to them? What can we do to improve our room? Why? What discussion would arise? What reasons would back their thoughts? I think we need to do it! :)

children having a discussion

February 28, 2014

I went back on Deb Frazier's blog and read how she'd won the Sunshine Blog award. She was nominated by a fellow blogger, asked to share 11 interesting things about herself, and then asked 11 questions of some other bloggers. I thought, this is a fun way to encourage good blogging and to develop your PLN. Perhaps as we develop our own PLN's I can become connected enough with others that we participate in such an activity?



C4K week 1:

I was assigned to post to Eric, but he had no posts, so I posted a response to Liam's Valentine's day post. He wrote instructions (and included a picture of the finished product) of how to make lollipop butterflies. It was cute!

I introduced myself and told him that I teach 1st grade, and did he think 1st graders could do a project like that?

I also told him about a St. Patrick's day unit that I teach and asked him if he had any thoughts or ideas that I should include to enhance my lesson. He is from Ireland, after all! I included a link to my blog page. I look forward to seeing what he thinks I should teach about Ireland and St. Patrick.

butterfly lollipop image

C4K week 2:

This week we have 3 students to follow.

The first for me was by a fifth grade student named Dillon. He responded to the question, "What is love?" And, I was so delighted with his response! He got it! At 4th grade, he knows what love is, and he even gave simple thoughts of love in action: random acts of kindness, small loving words or actions, smiling, etc.

I asked him if he ever 'planned' to act in love, or was it always spontaneous? If he planned, what would he plan for? 1 extra act a day? 5? 10?

Check out his post- here ; you will likely be as impressed as I was.

Mother Theresa holding a baby

(The second two students are both in the same class with the same blog. Here is their school blog address: (click here) .)

The second student I visited was Averie B., a 4th grader, who used her blog with screen shots to show how to add fractions with unlike denominators. She included in her blog 3 screen shot images on her initial problem, how to create common denominators, and then how to reduce back to the smallest fraction. How impressive! My fourth grade son is also working with fractions, and I'd love to see him creating posts like this.

I asked her if she thought she could add audio/video to teach the process step by step, in addition to the still frame images. I told her she could become a great teacher one day with the way she so clearly explained the steps and process.


The third student I visited was Alexis, another 4th grade student from Nebraska. She talked about birthstones in her post. They have been learning about them in science class. She shared that she was born in March and that aquamarine is her birthstone.

I told her that aquamarine is my mother's birthstone too then, because she also has a March birthday. I asked her if she thought my mother would like a birthday present this year with her birthstone in it? I asked if they were expensive, and if I could get nice aquamarine jewelry for $25-$50?


February 26, 2014 -

The first student whose blog I visited, "Guy behind the Waffle House" had written a paragraph about preferring a movie version of a story to the book. He neglected to tell me which book/movie it was, but I commented that I often prefer the book because there are more scenes and details in the book. Yet, I love watching movies, so I really enjoy both mediums.

I asked him what his favorite book/movie is. I told him mine is "Pride and Prejudice." I could watch it over and over again! :)

Here is his

The second student I visited this week was Dan, from a 10th grade class.

He brought up a frustrating point and a question. He asked, "Is there really a 'best' brand?" He spoke about how frustrating it felt to be talking about a brand of dirt bike, and have the person he was speaking to state definitively that "X sucks," or "Y is better." He said, if there were really a 'best' brand, then everyone would just get that.

I empathized with him and said it is frustrating (and rude) to have someone cut you off with those kind of comments when you were interested in having a quality discussion with them. I asked what he thought he could do to move past such comments. Is there anything you can do (diplomatically) to move past that type remark?

Here is his blog.

The third child I visited is named Tessa and is a 7th grader. She did a blog post about a book report she'd recently completed by using Power Point. I viewed it as well. It was pretty good! I feel somewhat compelled to read the story she reported on, "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana De Rosnay. At the same time, it looks like it would be upsetting (set during the Holocaust; children dying; etc. Knowing how my hormonally charged pregnant self is at the present, I might do better to wait on this book!). Still, it's a good presentation by a 7th grader.

I asked her if she would recommend that I read it or not. Here is her blog.

Sarah's Key Book Cover

Monday, March 3, 2014

Project Based Learning

I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Capps and Dr. Strange discuss project based learning. It does highlight a big shift in the way learning, coupled with technology, has changed and enhanced the educational atmosphere from when I was in school. When I was in school, the technology that is available today wasn't present. Also, the typical learning pattern followed the teacher introducing the material, teaching about it, and then an assessment followed to see if the content was 'mastered.' Though, 'mastered' is completely silly to think about because it was very much 'burp back education.' More often than not, I memorized what I needed to for the test, spilled it out onto the page before I could forget it, and then promptly forgot it after the class ended. The challenge to me as an educator is to make sure that I do not settle in to following that same routine.

One way to ensure that I do not become that educator, the one who thinks they've 'done their job' because they covered the material and tested on it, is to build my learning around project based learning. According to an article in 'Educational Psychologist', "Project based learning is a comprehensive approach to classroom teaching and learning that is designed to engage students in investigation of authentic problems." Mr. Capps makes an important point by saying that the projects should not be done at the end of units, but rather while learning. The student interest should play a major factor in the learning. Student choice is important for ownership and interest. If they have the ability to choose, then the interest is higher and the engagement level is higher, thus the learning level is deeper and the understanding/knowledge lasting.

Another important aspect of project based learning is having an authentic audience, and coupling that with the real world community. A perk about project based learning is that you can meet multiple standards in one project. While that takes a lot of hard planning, it is very worthwhile because the goal is to have students engaged and learning, and the well thought out projects allow for that. I liked the point that Mr. Capps made that it is crucial for good project based learning activities, is to have the students revise and review their work, and to do it as a democracy. It's a powerful thing to review work as a class, and work together to try and ask together, "What can she/he do to try and improve this, etc." Now, not every project will go well, but it pays to be bold, and if you fail, fail big. As the teacher, you should not limit what they can do with your expectations, rather create projects where they can go beyond and surprise you with their creations, work, products, etc.

Mr. Capps mentioned that "collaboration is a hard thing for people, even kids." Building in group work allows for this problematic area to be explored and strengthened from a young age. Another thing that is difficult for both children and adults is having digital organization. Mr. Capps introduced us to "icurio" which sounds like a great on-line tool that can allow students to develop digital organization tools and techniques. It also allows for safe internet research because it is filtered for educational purposes. There is also a storage component for teachers and students which can allow for convenient stop and pick back up project work. In an elementary setting, it is important to be flexible. When you have to leave the project for any reason (P.E., lunch, library time, etc.) it is nice to know that you can come right back to where you left off. I love to know that there is a read aloud feature as well, because I teach 1st grade right now, and that is a helpful option for my struggling readers. The fact that it has images and videos to enhance the research and project creations is also wonderful.

Yes, using videos offers a bit of an in-school field trip, where students can see and hear a process taking place, view experts discussing material, etc. versus just reading about it. United Streaming, or Discovery Education, allows for this. This is a tool that I have used to enhance the learning in my classroom already. The students love it and it does in fact offer a greater learning experience than I alone could offer to the students.

I suppose it is important to remember a few things about incorporating technology in with project based learning. One is that while it takes a risk taking, hard work willing attitude on the teacher's part, it is worth every minute and every classroom fail, because you are offering the students the opportunity to take control of their learning, to make it personalized for them, to offer them opportunities to work together, review, revise, and improve their creations, and present/self reflect on the process as well as the product. It doesn't limit their learning, rather opens the door wide to an unknown end, where the limitations aren't there unless limited by the student. It is important to offer the students opportunities to embrace and own their learning while covering the material, not just at the end of a unit. It is encouraging to see the eagerness in the students when participating in such projects, and it is great to hear the discussions and read the research that supports this shift in educational practices and thinking. This really brings the point home to me; when Mr. Capps shared about the time that the visitors came to his room and instead of telling them how project based learning has impacted his classroom, he passed that along to his students and had them ask the children. The children did not disappoint! They were able to articulate very well the joy and delight to be had in project based learning. I hope to continue to improve as an educator and to build more of my day around project based learning than I have in the past.

Project based learning

Works Cited:

Blumenfeld, P., Soloway, E., Marx, R., Krajcik, K., Guzdial, M., Palincsar, A. (2011). Motivating Project Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning. Educational Psychologist: Volume 26, issue 3-4. Retrieved from online link to article.

Strange, J. (Producer). (2013, July). EDM 310. Conversations with Anthony. Podcasts retrieved from link.