Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blog Post #5 Part 2

In part two of blog post #5, we are to tell about how are personal learning network has changed. For my own PLN, I have added to my original blogs on Netvibes. I have found several history blogs that would be benefical in the future. I have also begun talking to different teachers in the are and networking with them by discussing issues and ideas about how they teach in their classrooms. Overall, PLNs are a great way to stay networked with others in your field and it is also a great way to make sure you are constanly learning and growing.

C4T #4

For my final C4T teacher, I chose the blog US History Teachers Blog.  This blog has a lot of useful posts that contain links to differnet historical topics.  For the post I commented on, the idea of how to study was discussed.  I explained that this was a great resource.  I think it is important as educators to help students learn how to study and how to learn and research new information.  I also made sure to comment on how useful the links on the blog were.

The next post I read was about using Quizlet in the classroom.  In my comment, I mentioned how I have used Quizlet in the past for my own studying purposes and that using it in the classroom is a great idea.  I also explained that I liked the idea of using the game option.  I feel that this would help students learn the information and that this is a tool that they will be able to use in future learning endeavors.
chalkboard with the letters c4t on it

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Blog Post #14

"Teaching Can Be a Profession" by Joe Klein

Problems and Proposed Solutions                                                           
1) Being able to pick from the best teachers which would happen by providing better academic
apple next to a chalkboard with abc's written on it
training for teachers and the ability to pick from the top of the class.  The way rewarding teachers would also be changed.

2) Seniority which can be changed by not paying teachers the same amount and changing the way performance is viewed.

3) Lastly, it was suggested that a board be established to help determine the teachers who are preforming well and those who are incompetent.  

The first issue addressed in the article by Joe Klein is the need to better educate teachers.  While I personally am only in the first tier in our own academic program, I disagree with this statement.  To me, the program I am involved with is very demanding and has shown me just how much goes into being an effective teacher.  I also see all the other students who are trying to become teachers working just as hard to make sure they are the best they can be.  I do agree that paying teachers differently based upon performance instead of how long someone has been teaching does change whether or not we have a more competent set of teachers.

Seniority is also addressed in Mr. Klein's article.  To change this, Alan Shanker suggested using academic testing to help determine what teachers are competent or incompetent.  He also suggested a "supervised internship."  I do agree with the idea of changing seniority.  Providing exams that challenge and encourage teachers to grow will separate out those that are good at teaching from those that are not good but remain in the system because of seniority.  I also agree with a supervised internship.  This would allow potential teachers to better understand what it is like in the classroom in turn making them more effective teachers in the long run.

Finally, it was suggested that a board be established to help regulate and guide teachers on standards and helping to remove under qualified teachers.  This idea is also a good one.  I think using it would also produce teachers who are always evolving and changing.

After reading this article, I do overall agree that there are some problems with the teaching fields that do need to be addressed.  The suggestions presented for fixing the problems are great ideas, but I do think the question than becomes how do you implement such over arching changes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

C4K Summary for November

For the start of November, my first C4K student is Mustafa.  In this post, I read how Mustafa enjoys writing.  Mustafa explained that writing is fun because you can use your imagination and write anything you would you like.  For my comment, I explained that I agree with the idea that writing is fun. I also encouraged Mustafa keep up writing.

My second student for this month was Caitlin.  For her post, she explained the art project she made for her product design.  It was a small, grey coin purse that had a horseshoe stiched on the front and a "C" stiched on the back.  I told her how her design turned out wonderful.  I liked the creativity of the horseshoe and "C".  I also told her how her post did a great job of explaining her design.

My final student for EDM310's C4K was Pablo.  In his blog post, he wrote about Halloween and how he enjoyed dressing up and getting candy.  He also asked his readers how they liked Halloween and do if we think that you can be too old to go trick-or-treating.  My reponse was that Halloween is fun and the candy is great.  I also told him that dressing up is always fun, but you can be too old to go door to door for candy.

children holding hands around the world

Thursday, November 6, 2014

C4T #3 Summary

For my third C4T teacher, I had Mrs. Hadley.  She is a middle school teacher with a blog called Middle School Matrix.  The first post I commented on was great.  At the beginning of the year, she asked students to write down what they think their challenge would be for the upcoming school year. After that, she gave each student three sticky notes and asked them to write down what superpowers they would have.  The students than placed the sticky notes on a bulletin board. The answers were great.  Some wanted to understand things quickly and others wanted to be great spellers.  In my comment, I told Mrs. Hadley that I really felt like this project showed us that students are people just like us with fears.  I explained that I felt like we forget that the students face pressures too.

My second post on Mrs. Hadley's blog was in regards to her "Identity Projects."  At the beginning of the school year she had her students sit quietly and think for four minutes.  The students were amazed at what they were able to think of in that time.  For me, the one thing that truly stood out was the last sentence of the blog.  Mrs. Hadley said, "I love what students do when given choice and a personal connection."  That sentence to me summed up everything we have been discussing throughout the semester.  For my comment and I had to address that statement.  I explained that I agreed with her sentence and that her "Identity Projects" showed how true that statement is.

the word blog with a computer mouse attached to it

Blog Post #12

Friday, October 31, 2014

Blog Post #11

What Can We Learn About Teaching and Learning:
cartoon student using a computer

This week, we watched a series of videos from a variety of teachers.  Each of these videos provided great insight into the ideas of teaching and learning.

The first video, which was Back to the Future, was fantastic.  I enjoyed how Mr. Chamberlin taught his second language, at risk students through project based learning and technology.  As I watched Mr. Chamberlin's video progress, I actually forgot he was teaching second language learners.  The accomplishments these students made and the excitement they had for learning made you think they were never at risk.  This showed me that engaging students through projects that they find meaningful can truly transform the outlook of a student.  It helps the students have a learning experience that will stay with them as well.

The next video was The Blended Learning Cycle.  Mr. Anderson shared with us his classroom strategy which is using "quivers."  This is a system where he begins with a good driving question, follows with an inquiry, than a video, explanation, review, and finally a summary quiz.  His idea is interesting, but the one thing that really stood out to me was how important a good driving question is.  Mr. Anderson explained that a great driving question is what will hook a student into wanting to investigate more.

Making Thinking Visible, for me, is a video that shows how allowing students to reflect on their learning experience is important.  The students in this video write down a headline on something they have been thinking about.  After two weeks and a final project, they will write a new headline and reflect on how their thinking has changed through the learning process.  Using this process allows students to have a more personal insight to how they are thinking and learning.

Sam Pane's 4th Grade Video was awesome to watch.  Not only was the lesson on being a digital citizen wonderful, but it showed project based learning and how effective it can be in the classroom.  The parts that stood out to me was how Mr. Pane used the comic book feature to allow the issue to become relevant to the student.  He also allowed the students to view each other's work.  The students did express how they enjoyed being able to see other ideas.

In the video Project Based Learning, I saw again how powerful using this strategy of learning can be. Students had the chance to create a project that they were proud of because they could take ownership of what they were working on.  The topics were also allowed to be covered more in depth because of this type of teaching.

The final video was Roosevelt Elementary's PBL Program.  One of the biggest ideas that stood out in this video is that students have a chance to truly show that they understand a topic.  They did not just pass a test.  Instead, the students have a chance to share the in-depth knowledge they have learned.  What was also interesting about this video is hearing how they parents feel about their children using project based learning.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog Post #10

What Can We Learn From Mrs. Cassidy?

In the first video, we were invited into Mrs. Cassidy's first grade class to see what they are doing.  It was amazing to see all of these first graders using technology in such a proficient way to learn.  We can see the students using blogs to write, Skype to be able to talk to other classes and experts, and wikis to help them collaborate ideas to help them learn.  Mrs. Cassidy uses the technology differently depending on the class for the year.  For example, this particular year she had a small class.  This allowed the students time to blog at least once if not twice a week.  In previous years, with larger classes, Mrs. Cassidy used the computers as a station while she worked with other students.  Mrs. Cassidy further explains how useful blogging is for the students in the first part of her interview with Dr. Strange.  She tells of how students are more excited to write on a blog than to just write a paper to a teacher.  This excitement comes from the fact that the students will have an audience for what they have written.

heart with the words Students Love TechnologyWhile blogging is a great way to improve the student's writing, it is not the only use of technology in Mrs. Cassidy's classroom.  She also uses a classroom webpage which gives the students a central place to go to find other programs and games that will help them effectively learn.  Mrs. Cassidy also allows the students to use wikis.  The wikis allow others to present their ideas about a topic.  The students can than use the information to learn from.

For my classroom, I think using Mrs. Cassidy's idea of blogging would be really useful.  I agree with her that the benefits from the students writing this way are great.  It will allow my students to take an engaged approach to their writing since they know they will have that worldwide audience watching them. Also like Mrs. Cassidy said, I think the parents will appreciate this approach.  They will be able to view their student's works online.  I think the challenge will be making sure students are respectful of each other.  Talking to them ahead of time on how to appropriately respond to other blogs, much like Mrs. Cassidy discussed, is important.

I would also use a class blog to communicate with students and their parents.  I found the tip Mrs. Cassidy gave in the third part of her interview very useful.  She suggested to an EDM310 student that even PE teachers could beneift from a class blog.  This blog would be a place where students could go to get updated information about class assignments and upcoming events.

Monday, October 20, 2014

C4KSummary for October

For my C4K Post #4, I had Joyce from Mrs. Tharp's class.  Her post was very well written.  She wrote about what would improve her school year and she had some great insight.  She wanted to have e-books added instead of textbooks and she also wanted to have a counselor in the school for the students to talk to.  I used  my comment to tell her that she did a great job writing and I hoped her school would indeed get e-books.

My C4K Post #5, was by Claire. Her post presented her case as to why she thought kids should not loose recess for having bad behavior. This was a really great post. Claire used facts from and The National Institute of Health. I was impressed that she cited her work and used such great facts.

My C4K Post #6 was by a student named Madison. Madison used her blog to talk about how to babysit. This was a fun post to read. Her ideas on how to babysit showed she knew a great deal about watching babies. My comment to her was how knowledgable she sounded and that I liked her perspective on how to stay positive about babies even though they cry a lot.

C4K Post #7 is the last post for the month, and my child was Faauiga.  Her post was great.  She told of what she did over her New Year's holiday.  It was an interesting read because she spent the day swimming her mother and family at the beach.  For my comment, I made sure to tell her that the beach is something we do not think of doing on our New Year's holiday.
c4k in blue lettering

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blog Post #9

What can Teachers and Students Teach us about Project Based Learning?

When it comes to project based learning, students and teachers provide a lot of information.  Through the article, Seven Essentials for Project Based Learning and the video, Project Based Learning for Teachers, the basics of project based learning was covered.  The essentials include having a driving question, allowing students to have a voice, beginning with an "entry event", using 21st technology, grouping students to work on a project, and the chance to receive feedback and edit one's work.

From teachers, we learn how to effectively use project based learning in the classroom.  For example, the articles Project Based Learning and Physical Education and Project Based Learning in PE, we see that this type of learning can be used in any subject in school.  Both of these articles showed an example of high school students creating physical education programs for middle school students.  The teachers spoke of how proud the students were to know that their programs were being used by other students and how it taught the high school students that being active is the way to staying fit.

From students, we see just how engaged they become when using project based learning.  In the video PBL-High School Math we see students who might not find math interesting engaged in their learning.  In this example, students create their own game and than use the outcomes to learn about probability. The students themselves said the projects were fun and made learning the concept much easier.

Overall, it is shown by teachers and students that project based learning can provide effective, meaningful, and engaged learning in the classroom.  While it may be a departure from the traditional classroom lesson, project based learning is reaching a wide range of goals and successes in learning.
small chalk boards with the words who, what, when, where, and why all in a circle

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog Post #8

Randy Pausch speaking

Mr. Pausch's Last Lecture is truly inspirational.  His attitude toward life and teaching is infectious.  Mr. Pausch makes several comments that contain great advice.  One of these is that "brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to show us how much we want it."  I found this to be a great way to look at the obstacles we will face in life and in teaching.  We as teachers will struggle, but as long as we keep looking past the obstacles and not let them stop us we will always be successful.  However, the one thing I took away from watching his lecture was to be passionate in what you are doing as a teacher.  Mr. Pausch shows us that through his passion for teaching he was able to help many, many students accomplish their childhood dreams.  He belived in his students and gave them the chance to be creative and express themselves.  This passion is what I hope to be able to bring to my classroom as well.

Special Assignment

Part A:

The EDM310 Class Blog and Zogby Analytics present interesting findings regarding use of smartphones in this day and age.  In summary, it states that the majority of people own a smartphone and need one that contains a camera.  The majority of people also use the camera at least once a week.  For the students, the phones and cameras are part of their everyday life and have been since birth.  They have seen their parents use them for a multitude of uses, in a wide variety of places and because of this they will expect their own smartphone to be used in the classroom.

As far as the teachers, the implications are different.  Teachers might find the smartphone a distraction for students in the learning enviroment.  Students will use the phones to do everything but pay attention to a lesson.  In some regards, it might also make a teacher seem less of an authority on knowledge because a student now has the power to look up any answer.

Part B:

Even though the smartphone might seen as a distraction, it could also have many uses in the classroom.  The students could use their cameras to make videos of places they have visited that could coincide with a report.  They could aslo use their cameras to take pictures of projects in the works to post to a blog, or they could use them to record speechs to show in a government class.
student working with his smartphone

Project #9

Book Commentary...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

C4T#2 Summary

C4T#2 Post 1 Summary:

My second teacher blog is called Speaking of History. The first post I read was called "Creating Videos to Keep in Touch with Students While Away." This was a great post that showed how creating simple videos is a great way to give students directions on assignments and show them interesting information while the teacher is out. The author of the post, Mr. Langhorst, visited Mt. Vernon. His video gave the students a sort of virtual field trip of the site. My comment made reference of this idea. I loved how he gave his students something tangible when discussing history and also gave them a chance to see a historical site with the students never having left the classroom.

In the second post from Mr. Langhorst, he discusses a project called Teach Teardown.  This is a really interesting idea.  He brought pieces of technology, such as cd players that do not work anymore, and had his students break them apart to see what was inside.  He explains that his students were really excited about the project and really created some engaged conversations within the group.  For my comment, I explained that I felt like this was interesting idea and that it gives the students a chance to use and practice their observation skills.

a banner with the words Speaking of History

Project #7 Part B

Movie for Parents...

Movie for Students...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blog Post #7

Summary of Videos:

1.  How to Make an Audio QR Code:  This video Michelle Bennet taught not only how to create a QR code, but it also gave great examples of how to use it.  A QR code is a box of squares that can be scanned by an app and contains a url full of information.  Ms. Bennet presented two websites to create the code.  The first one, allows you to record your voice and translate it into a url.  Once you have a url, you can copy and paste into the second website which is  This site will generate the QR code.  Once you have the code, you can copy and paste it to a word document.  Ms. Bennet gave a great example of how to use the code.  She suggested recording yourself reading a book and giving it to students so they could listen to the reading at any time.

2. iPad in the Reading Center:  Ms. Tuck, a kindergarten teacher at Gulf Shores Elementary School, showed us how the iPad can be effectively used in reading centers.  She showed how a student could set the iPad up to record while they read a passage.  After they recorded the reading, they could play it back and follow along.  This allows the student to see if they made any mistakes during the reading.

3. Poplet as a Center:  In this video, Ms. Tuck showed us the use of the app Poplet.  She used it in the kindergarten classroom as a center.  This app allows you to make a web of any subject.  In Ms. Tuck's case, she had the students make webs out of books they are covering in a given week.  The subject goes in the middle box, and the student can place pictures, video, or text in the boxes surrounding it.  This also gives them a chance to use search engines.

4.  Alabama Virtual Library as a Kindergarten Center:  The Alabama Virtual Library is a free website that gives students a chance to research on their own.  Ms. Tucks used it to have students research a word from a list that was based on different topics.  She showed how the site would read to the students and also provided them with images and video.  To complete this particular center, she had the students draw a picture of their word and write a sentence about it.

5. Mrs. Shirley's 1st Grade Class: How to Use and Build a Board in DE for a Project Based Lesson:  Mrs. Shirley went through the steps of how to use Board Builder in Discovery Education.  This program is a place to put facts, pictures, and videos about subjects that a student has researched. They can do all of their research through Discovery Education and the pictures and videos will load into their board for them.  She gave a student a chance to explain her project board on the moon and how she got for resources.

6. Mrs. Tassin's 2nd Grade Class: Students Sharing Board Builders Part A:  Students in Mrs. Tassin's 2nd grade class showed us how they used Board Builder and a search engine like Safari to find information on a particular research topic.  These particular students did their project on whales.
Mrs. Tassin's 2nd Grade Class: Students Sharing Board Builder Part B:  Mrs. Tassin gave us another example of how students can use Board Builder and search engines to research and present information in a project based learning format.  The students in this example used search engines such as word to find new vocabulary words.  They did their project on the no kill animal shelter The Haven and were more than eager to explain how they created the project.

7. Using iMovie and the Alabama Virtual Library in Kindergarten:  This video was a fascinating discussion between Dr. Strange, Ms. Bennet of Gulf Shores Elementary, and Mrs. Davis of Daphne Elementary.  They discussed the use of iMovie and the Alabama Virtual Library in the kindergarten class room.  While it was interesting to learn how the programs can be used, the really surprising information was how apt the students are at using the technology and how excited they become by having the ability to use the technology.

8. We All Become Learners:  The last video continued the conversation with Ms. Bennet, Mrs. Davis, and Dr. Strange. In this conversation, they discussed how everyone is always learning from one another.  The teachers teach the students, but at the same time, the students are teaching the teachers about different aspects of technology.

the word technology on a chalkboard

Strengths and Weaknesses:

When it comes to teaching project based learning and using technology in the classroom, I feel my strengths would be my willingness to try new ideas and the ability to adapt readily.  My weakness is that I am not up to date on what technology is available for me to use.  In the next year and a half, I feel that I will need to spend time finding resources that give examples on how to use technology along with project based learning in the classroom.  I will also need to spend plenty of time practicing the technology to make sure I have a basic understanding on how to use a program. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Project #13

cartoon planets

TT2 Group #2 has decided to do our project based learning lesson on the solar system.  Our students to construct a project on an assigned planet.  Below are the components of are unit.

Project Rubric
Individual Rubric

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Project #8: Book Trailer

Blog Post #6

What I Learned From Conversations With Anthony Capps

Video #1 and #2 Project Based Learning Part 1 and 2: The first two videos discussed project based learning and how it works in the classroom. It was interesting to hear how the students enjoyed using the projects to learn and how engaged they were in they learning process. I learned that part of the reason they were so engaged was because peer review was an essential part of the process. Allowing them to review the work helped the students have an investment in how the projects turn out. I also learned that project based learning is effective because students are allowed choice. Having a choice makes them excited to learn. When the students have a choice they also take pride and ownership in their project.

Video #3 icurio: In the third video I learned about icurio and how it can be used in the classroom. Icurio is a search engine that is safe for all students to use. The results from a search are filtered to allow only relevant content that does not have anything questionable. The search engine includes a feature that gives students a chance to practice virtual organization. They can drag and drop information they are working on into folders they have created for later use.

Video #4 Discovery Education: In this video I learned about Discovery Education. This program gives students and teachers a chance to add another component to text. For example, a teacher can show students pictures to accompany a text they are reading. Students can also use the program to find video information on a project they are researching.

Video #5 The Anthony-Strange Tips for Teachers: In this video on tips for teachers, I learned that as a future teacher, I need to be able to think on my feet. Project and lessons that I create will not always go as planned and I need to be able to adjust the plan on the fly. I also learned that a teacher must be a lifelong learner. We will never know everything and we must have a passion to want to continue to learn. Teachers need to allow for time for reflection. This gives you a chance to change things that might have not worked well in a lesson. Finally, I learned that we need to think of ways that will motivate all students to learn.

Video #6 Use Tech-Don't Teach It: In the sixth video, I learned that is important to scaffold the use of technology in your lessons so the students have a chance to practice a particular program or search engine. The biggest message I learned from this particular conversation is to have students use the technology and do not just teach it to them. They need the skills for later on in life.

Video #7 Additional Thoughts about Lessons: The final video contained a last thought about teaching. This thought that lessons should contain four layers. The first is what you will cover in a year. The second is what you will cover in a single unit. The third is what will be covered in a week and finally what you will cover in a single day.

Overall, the videos taught me a great deal about how to implement project based learning in the classroom and the wonderful results you will see in the students when you implement this type of teaching. It also gave me insight as to what a teacher might expect in the classroom and gave some wonderful tips on how to be a successful teacher.
boy and girl holding a large pencil

Saturday, September 27, 2014

C4KSummary for September

C4K Post #1:
My first C4K post was to Efilona in New Zealand. Her post was a drawing of a mascot for the New Zealand Common Wealth Games. She explained why she drew it with a Wiki face. This is the first people to inhabit New Zealand. For my comment, I told her I loved her drawing and that the Wiki face encouraged me to find out more information about the topic.

C4K Post #2:
For my second C4K post, I was under the impression that we were to do both posts in the same week to the same student so I again posted to Efilona. This post was about her weekend and how she went to the mall and saw the movie Frozen. I explained to her that I also have seen Frozen and that she keep up the good work with her blog.

C4K Post #3:
For my last C4K post of the month I had Sean. His blog is all about baseball. He recapped the current playoff situation in the latest post. I couldn't help but comment about my favorite team, the Yankees and of Jeter retiring. I also told him good job and good luck to his playoff team.
purple and blue circle with the word blog in it

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog Post #5

PLN Summary

man with lines connecting his topics to himself
I have never heard of the concept of PLNs before this class, but as I began looking through the text and videos on the subject, I realized how valuable this networking could be.  PLNs or Personal Learning Networks are the resources and people you gather and use to ask questions, collaborate with, and learn from.  Using tools such as Twitter or following blogs on a topic of interest is a great way to find other educators from around the country or the world.  This gives you the chance to discover new ways to improve your classroom.
I have begun working on my own PLN.  I looked into using Netvibes and I have loved it.  Here I have begun to organize all of the information I find.  My Twitter feed is front in center, which allows me to quickly see all the tweets from the educators I have started to follow.  I have also added an RSS feed of Edutopia.  I am looking forward to finding more resources and people to add to my PLN and continuing my education journey.

screenshot of the dashboard of my personal Netvibes account

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Project #15: Search Engines

For this project, we were required to find eight search engines other than Google and provide a review for each one.  Below are the sites that I found to be useful.

1)  Wolfram Alpha is a search engine that allows you to ask a question and than computes an actual answer.  This is better than a regular search engine, because you do not have to sift through pages that may have a word or two that was in your original search.  This site would give students quick facts for research or could help them solve math problems.

2) Internet Public Library is a search engine that searches for resources through subjects.  This site gives you the peace of mind that all of your sources will be reliable.  Internet Public Library would be good for students to use when researching topics.

3) Blog Search Engine allows you to search through blogs based on a single search term.  This site seems very basic, but since blogs can contain information and resources for teaching having a search engine for only blogs is a great idea.

4) NewsLookUp provides credible news stories from around the world.  You can search a topic or use one of their options to find local, national, or world headlines.  There is also an option to search through the sites pre chosen topics.  This search engine is a beneficial resource for any one who wants to stay up to date on news and to find news articles for use in the classroom.

5) Kids Click is a search engine that is safe for children to use.  Kids Click was designed by librarians and has the ability to search on your own, search by a  pre chosen topic, or pick a group of numbers from the dewey decimal system to find out what subjects are found in those numbers.  This site is a great resource for the classroom.  It is a site teachers will know their students are getting reliable resources and the unwanted information is filtered out.

6) Bing Maps is a really fun search engine.  It allows you to find any location and provides you with either a standard map of the area or a bird's eye view.  The bird's eye view can provide you a street level view of the location.  This site would allow a teacher to show students different locations around the world.

7) iSEEK Education is a wonderful search engine.  This site gives you search results that editor reviewed.  It also provides results that are from trusted sites such as universities.  After the site has given a result, it has several tabs on the left hand side that allow you to filter the results based on subject, grade, and more.  This search engine would work very well for a student looking to find good sources for a project or for a teacher who needs resources for the classroom.

8) History Engine is a really interesting search engine.  Its content is provided by students who have used primary sources from history to create factual articles.  While the content is written by students, all articles are reviewed by archivists and professors.  This site would allow students, professors, and the general public to use a fresh set of resources for research.  It also allows teachers the chance to have a more collaborative approach toward teaching history.
man searching a large book for results

C4T#1 Summary

C4T#1 Summary
student with science lab materials

For my first teacher, I was assigned to Mr. Darren Fix.  He is a middle school science teacher that has created a blog called ScienceFix.  He presents really great ideas for engaging students about science from a hands on prospective.

The first post was called "Melting Rates."  The post investigated an experiment using two blocks at different temperatures.  On top of each block is a piece of ice.  One melts at a faster rate than the other.  Surprisingly, the ice on the cold block melts faster than the ice on the room temperature block.  This experiment leads to a discussion on heat energy.  Mr. Fix also posted a video to go along with his description to show a teacher how the experiment is done.  My response was that I felt the experiment was a great way to start a conversation.  I also felt that using an experiment leaves a better impression on a student and gives them a more concrete way of understanding a particular topic.

The second post I commented on was called "Scientific Method Box."  Once again, his post was accompanied by a video.  In it, he had a cube with six sides.  We are encouraged to look at five sides and make observations about them.  The sixth side is covered up and we are to use our observations to form a hypothesis about what the unknown side looks like.  Mr. Fix shows us a side that meets our hypothesis, but he also shows us a side that does not.  This encourages students to notice that we do not always come up with the right hypothesis and that can lead to new questions and discoveries.  I commented that I really liked this idea.  It is a great way to have students think about and use the scientific method before you even teach about it.  I also felt that engaging and giving the students a hands on lesson would be more beneficial in understanding the topic than only a lecture.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blog Post #4

What do We Need to Know About Asking Questions to be an Effective Teacher?

How to ask questions in the classroom seemed like a straight forward question to me until I began doing some research.  Ben Johnson brought up some points in his article "The Right Way to Ask a Question" that really made me think about what it means to question a student.  Johnson discussed the fact that students become disengaged with the teacher after they ask a question and call on a particular student.  When a student knows a right answer is given, they will possibly check out instead of remaining in engaged about the right answer that is being given.  To correct this, Johnson suggested using a random selection process that would keep the students interested in the question being asked.  If they know they will still have a chance to be called upon to answer, they are more willing to participate in the answering process.  The concept of asking a question and only calling on a student with a hand raised seemed like a normal part of the questioning process, but understanding the need to keep students engaged has me looking at the process in a different light.

As I continued to read, I found Maryellen Weimer's blogpost entitled "Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom" extremely thought provoking.  Weimer encourages teachers to look at asking questions as a way to teach students how to ask effective questions of their own. This is a new idea to me.  I was one of the people who thought asking questions was to just to see if a student understands the content.  She encourages teachers to plan for the questions they will use in class giving them the chance to refine and make clear what they want to ask.  She also says to"play with the questions", giving all the students a chance to answer by writing down their answer and discussing the question at a later time. This was an idea I thought would be a great way to show students that effective questions take time to think about and answer.  Finally, Weimer made a great point by saying that preserving good questions that students ask show that a teacher values the questions asked.

As a teacher, asking questions has way more importance than just gaining insight to what a student understands.  It goes beyond that by encouraging students to use higher thinking and to teaching them how to use effective questioning in their everyday life.  As teachers, if we use some of these suggestions in our questioning processes, we will be giving our students a step up as they learn.
happy kids asking questions