Saturday, July 21, 2012

Final Reflection - ED 554 Experience

I have truly had a wonderful experience with this class.  I was scared the first day when I learned how much we would need to be involved with technology as I had barely even used Facebook, nonetheless blogged, created podcasts, or even used PowerPoint but a handful of times.  At the end of these few weeks, I now have Twitter, Diigo, and Screenr accounts.  I have created a blog with multiple types of posts, have created podcasts, and have used google docs to collaborate with others and submit assignments. 

My experience has not been without its ups and downs.  I have had to fight against my natural fear of "loss of privacy" and "being exposed."  As a teacher, I realize now (through this course) how important it is to go where our students are and help them see how what they are already doing can help them to grow, learn, and find out more about each other, their interests, and to build the skills they need for life.  I have been challenged in this class.  And I need to increase my knowledge about the free and inexpensive, yet vital digital resources available to help challenge my students. 

I wish we had more time to tap into our professor's brain even more.  Steven Knight has a vast understanding of the current educational issues, research, and trends.  As well as a strong understanding of the programs available to assist teachers and students in building "21st Century skills."  He exemplifies what it means to be a "digital resident" and a "best practices" teacher. 

It has been hard to move at the fast pace required of summer courses, and it would have been useful to have had more time to dive into the available programs and software in more detail.  But with this course, my interest and understanding and beginning skills have taken root and now it is up to me to continue learning, exploring, and utilizing that knowledge.
Mobile Learning Blog Post:
"Schools and Students Clash Over Use of Technology"


I whole-heartedly agree with this post.  There has been too much of a delay in bringing mobile technology into the classrooms.  I can see how incorporating items students are regularly using and have clearly shown an interest in (such as mobile devices and social networking) as tools into their school learning environment will help enhance their engagement with the curriculum.  School policies need to "keep up with the times" to stay current and keep students interested and engaged better, as well as adjusting policies to allow for the building of the skills necessary for students to more successfully navigate within their changing world.  The way of the present and future is online social interactions and digital collaboration.  Our classrooms need to reflect this shift.  Teachers may be able to adapt their classroom lessons individually, but teachers also need the assistance of their administration and support of school policies to more fully provide mobile-friendly learning environments.  The technology is there (most students already have it) - the schools need to recognize, accept, and take full advantage of this important educational resource - mobile devices in the classrooms!

Image Source:

Friday, July 13, 2012

CommonSense Media – Lesson Summary/Review

One of the lessons I read through on CommonSense’s website was regarding Digital Life for Kindergarten to First Graders.  It’s objective was to help students see how emails provide a way to communicate with real people when you are not able to be in the same room with them and then how to actually send and receive emails. 

What I really enjoyed from this lesson was the idea of having the students role play the function of the internet in delivering and receiving an emailed message.  By having several students BE the “internet,” “the email/message,” “send” and “receive” it gave a tangible opportunity for the understanding of an unseen concept.  It allowed the students to physically be involved in the process encouraging the retention of the ideas discussed.  I remember role playing on one particular day in my 7th grade health class.  I can’t tell you much about what I learned that year but that day is still very clear to me and it’s been over 23 years.  Students respond to doing. 

After accessing the students’ background knowledge and role playing the concept, the teacher demonstrates actually creating and sending an email.  This provides a model showing the students how it is really done and why (for what purpose); leading to the option of sending the same message to more than one person.  Then a discussion is held on other messages that could be sent to others within the school, then to family members, and then to people who are in another state or country.  This takes a small idea and opens the students’ minds to the expansive possibilities emailing provides them within their local or world-wide community. 

The wrap up involves a question and answer review, but in the extension and homework section of this lesson entails asking the students to draw their message as it is being sent through the internet – how fun!  What a creative way to again reinforce an abstract concept to young minds.  For homework students can write a message they would like to send to someone, get their email address and either send it from home if they have a computer or bring it to school and send it from a school computer.  I can see how this would be very exciting to students if they hadn’t already experienced emailing, or if they had, maybe the teacher could challenge them to try sending a message to someone new. 

I found this to be a fun introduction for young students to see how digital technology can be a great tool in helping them communicate and connect with others. 
Articles:  “PowerPoint is Evil” by E. Tuften and Victoria Brown’s, The Power of PowerPoint:  Is it the User or the Program” 

After reading this article I realize that software programs are limiting by design because of their contrived formats which can have a negative impact on students I never realized.  On the flip side, the programs that have too many options, features, or tools, can also have a negative impact by distracting the students by the glitz instead of the content it is meant to showcase. 

I can see how programs such as PowerPoint encourage students to think differently, such as referenced in this article, to “think in bullet points.”  However, I think that in today’s society, and through other forums such as Facebook status updates and Twitter “tweets” and text messages, we are forcing our children to be more concise in their thoughts.  Sometimes that is advantageous, but sometimes it has other unintended consequences. 

I also agree with the article by Victoria Brown when she questions whose fault it is when the presentations are boring.  I agree that the software programs, PowerPoint for example, are simply tools.  They are inherently neutral and what the user creates with those tools can either have a positive or negative impact. 

Good educators will be able to determine which tools are best for which purposes and then learn how to appropriately apply them to their best ability. 

From my own experience, I have found the template formats generally helpful.  However, because I know how to reformate some templates, I can customize the slides to my personal needs.  Although I can also see Tuften’s argument that more time is spent on formatting the slides rather than on the content meant to be presented. 

From the Clouducation blog, by Anthony VonBank, there was discussion regarding using Google imaging slides instead of the PowerPoint program forcing students to not have paragraphs of data, but images that can be used to “jog their memory” as to what they are to be presenting forcing them to know their content and express it better. 

I feel that PowerPoint will not be eliminated, but as an educator, I need to know the other options and help to model for my students the appropriate use of all available tools for them, so that they know how best to select, utilize, and express their knowledge in a manner that is effective the desired audience. 

Blog:  Clouducation by Anthony VonBank (

I recently discovered this blogger, Anthony VonBank, from a tweet posted by an educator I follow on Twitter.  When reading through this blog, I became really excited to once again see  what I am learning as a pre-service educator is currently reflected in the field.  In the class for which I am maintaining my first blog (this blog to be exact) we have been discussing Twitter and social media accounts as avenues of professional learning and global collaboration.  There was a quote mentioned by Nigel Cameron on VonBank’s blog that stated, “Twitter [is] a reciprocal knowledge engine.”  I have to agree. 

I resisted and scoffed at the idea of Twitter thinking it was just a social “status” update tool for statements such as, “I’m a the grocery store picking up milk.”  I saw no value in such uses.  However, now that I have set up my own Twitter account and have started to follow others within the field of education, I can see some of its great uses within a professional network. 

I can see how the cycle of knowledge continues to be perpetuated by the sharing that takes place within this forum.  HOW FABULOUS!  I have learned and expanded my knowledge and understanding of theories immensely recently from reading the tweets of fellow educators and exploring the re-tweeted quotes, reading the referenced articles, linked blogs, online documents shared, and Live Binders ideas shared.  It is fantastic!  Twitter, I can see now, is a great avenue for staying current, which is especially important for educators. 

We have also been learning about Google apps and cloud computing and ways to encourage 21st Century skill building with our students in my computer and technology class.  Recently this week we were linked to articles about the pros and cons of PowerPoint.  On VonBank’s blog I found a post titled, “Death by PowerPoint vs. Life with Google Docs.”  This post added to the ideas I’ve been reading including how with Google Docs you avoid the overuse of reading paragraphs from the PowerPoint posts.  One commenter of this post stated how they tried the recommended Google image slides and had his students use that tool as a photo essay project.  It worked well for his class. 

In my technology class we have been talking about flipped classrooms particularly (and there is a blog post about that as well).  Other similar topics include programs such as Animoto and social bookmarking programs like Diigo.  This blogger references and provides links to these educational tools.  It was great to see these topics reinforced in the “real world.”  What I particularly find interesting are the links from this blog to other blogs and online learning resources.  This is like a “bouncing off point” from which even further discussions, learning, and potential collaboration can take place. 

I’m still new to the digital universe in the sense of a collaborative educator perspective.  I used to only use it for personal research and shopping.  But what I’m learning about is wonderful:   webinars, online training/learning/sharing, and the potential for such immense access to current knowledge.  It’s almost causing my brain to overload.  I feel like a “kid in a candy store;”  I want to access it all!   I am genuinely excited at the new possibilities this brings. 

A quote shared on this blog with which I will end my post is “Be a progressive educator and constantly improve your practice.”  With fellow bloggers, tweeters, and Diigo and Google app users, I feel like that became a little easier.   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Digital Story

For this digital story I used PowerPoint to combine my images and collected quotes together into a slideshow and then I used Screenr to capture my narration and the full slideshow together.  I wanted to use Screenr to practice with it further and to overcome the obstacles originally experienced with creating our group podcast.  The background music I used came from and is part of their creative commons licensed music bank. 

I decided to use this combination to describe me because quotes and photography are both a very big part of my interests.  And with my professional teaching aspirations, the combination with educational quotes felt like a natural expression for "my digital story."  I hope you enjoy it. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012