Saturday, May 3, 2014

Blog Post #12

EDM 510 Final Video Reflection

Blog Post #11

My Personal Development Plan (PDP) and Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Personal Development Plan Outline Picture
My PDP that I have developed consists of incorporating more technology into my lesson plans for math. As I have learned a lot in EDM 310 and EDM 510, I am finding new ways to use technology when teaching math. I realize as I move toward becoming a certified teacher that it is a must that I understand that there is a lot of new technology emerging each day and my students will know about it even if I don't. So, to better prepare myself and my students for an unpredictable future I need to embrace the changing technology and be cognizant of new teaching strategies. With changes in technology comes changes in people. As the student changes, the teacher needs to change also. My PDP allows for such changes. In Project Based Learning, your teaching and the students' learning should be based on current things that they understand. Understanding this allows for me to create challenging yet fun lesson plans. I will use what's out there to help my students learn as this is what my personal development plan has taught me and continues to teach me. I will be prepared for the future.

Personal Learning Network Collage
My PLN is continuing to expand. I have a network of teachers that are part of my PLN. I have found so many new teachers through searching the web and they have also come to me through shared experiences like the NCTM (National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics). I am continuing to follow several educators on twitter. I have checked out many teachers blogs and have asked them to be a part of my PLN and they have agreed. I have commented on students' and teachers' blogs from around the world and will visit these blogs again. I have found several new mathematics resources that I will definitely be using in the classroom. So, I would gather to say that I have a pretty extensive PLN now and it continues to grow everyday. The students that I have taken this class with and are or will be teachers are part of my PLN. My instructors at this University are part of my PLN. My PLN is a neverending wealth of resources and I am happy to say that I appreciate every person in it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog Post #10 (How can we use Technology in Math Class?)

Technology & Math Classrooms???

Poll Everywhere survey done in a classroom
For this post, I will focus only on a few items that I see as useful or beneficial for Math Class as discovered by me or others. I went to a conference called NCTM (National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics) and they had some very interesting tools there that could be used in a math class. One tool was called Poll Everywhere and this tool allows for you to put a question up and allow for students to answer using their cell phones.
Picture of Poll Everywhere Survey conducted in a classroom
Students like to have their cell phones available and out while in school anyway so why not give them a place to use their phone. It is based on texts, which most if not all students have, and for a lot of polls, it can be done free of charge (freeware). Now, they do have some plans that cost but the cost is minimal for a school based on what the teachers can do with it. It is not only a great tool for any teacher, it can be used on those pop-up quizzes that students need to take. Work out the problems on a sheet of paper and submit your answer via text. It is best suited for responses where no work needs to be done but you do need students to remember some of the basic math facts you taught them at the beginning of the week.

Picture of Math Teachers' Class Website
Another great tool that I have found extremely useful is a class website. I've seen a lot of teachers use them and post several things done by students. It is a great platform for the world and it gives credit where credit is due; to the students! They have done the work now let their work shine! This can be used in math class for this reason, to post announcements, like homework assignments, opportunities for extra credit, the solution to a problem that was worked in class (with step by step details), or messages for parents. It is a great tool to keep in contact with students and parents. You can restrict the class website to those who have the password to help keep it safe or to a certain group of users. Wait, you can do all of this on a blog as well. So, we have to add a blog into this conversation as well. It, like the website is a great tool for teachers to have for the very reasons that were mentioned above. Of course there are other uses for the website but let's start small and go from there.

Google Drive Logo stating 100 Ways To Use Google Drive In The Classroom
Finally, we will talk about a great tool for teachers and students. This is Google Drive and I hadn't thought about it in a math sense so it never dawned on me how great it was. Some words from a math teacher I have been following this semester: Here it is. You need to post EVERYTHING (except tests/quizzes) in Google Drive. Homework. Review Tests. Class notes. Class worksheets. Goals. Calendars. Answer Keys. It is so easy and your students will use the things you post. Your students will use it on the bus, waiting at the doctor, while watching tv, and as a passenger in a car. Make your class convenient for them. They will reward you with accessing them often. One of the best things about this system is that your students can never say that they lost something that you handed out...An added benefit of Google Drive is that when the students are viewing the documents, they have a preview of each document. This is very convenient. By the way, your students can't change anything in the folder. They can only view it and download it. This is an amazing tool and if you say, well, I don't know how to use it, he posts instructions on his blog posting about Google Drive. This is all to say, that Google Drive is not only a good tool for math teachers but it is a good tool for any teacher. What are you waiting for? Start using it today!

So, now that we know how these tools can help you with math, start using them. They are only tools but their benefits will far outweigh the cost of learning how to use them. Teachers, don't be afraid. Don't say I don't know what to do. Just do it and you will enjoy the added benefits!

Google Drive! What are you waiting for Math Teachers?,, Dave Sladkey, 2014

C4T Rotating Summary Post #3

C4T for Dorothy Burt

Picture that states Digital vs Print
This is a summary of a blog posting by Dorothy Burt called, "Longevity of The Essay". I started out by stating that I would like to center my comment on the speakers point that the biggest challenge will be "the ability to discern between quality information and what is just elegantly styled trash" on the web. I continued by stating that a student's ability to do this will be evidence that they have a grasp on what they should be learning and understand it well enough to defend their position with scholarly evidence. He stated that "...the skills we learn in the future will have less to do with style and rote and much more to do with intelligently assessing and communicating an understanding of a very wide range of communicative media". I said, isn't that the purpose of learning? Shouldn't we understand and be able to communicate what we have learned using any available resource. I finalized it by stating that I believe he has a very good point but to stay ahead of the curve, we must first catch up!

C4T for Steve Wheeler

Black and White picture of a community building a barn together
This is a summary of a blog posting by Steve Wheeler called, "It takes a village". I started by stating that this was a very interesting post because it brings one to think about what we have gone away from. I stated that in education and in society in general, the community has become an online one but is this always for the best? Is there something to be said about a close knit small community? I stated that things got done because people shared and shared just about everything. There was no secrecy and basically no privacy but the end goal of all was the same; to maintain and support the community. I stated that I see, in this digital age, a community of building up and tearing down and no filters. At least in the small community, there were filters which may have kept peace. I state that if we were living in a "good" world I could see this online community as a way to make this world a remarkable place. But, as it stands today with all of the deceitfulness, cheating, and stealing, this world is wicked and it is extremely hard to have a solid trustworthy community. I ended by stating that we need to create a village, a safe one that will allow all to share and grow. Have any ideas?

C4T Semester Long Chosen by Dr. Strange Summary #3

Final C4T Chosen by Dr. Strange

21st Century Classroom Poster
This summary is on a blog posting by Will called, "Students as People or Profile?". I stated that while I am sure the questions about students and what they are learning should be considered in administration team meetings in schools across the country, what will come of the answers we may receive? I asked, how is a small group from one school supposed to speak out against what the district feels is best for all. I told him that personalization means what is best for me as a person and asked if this was what is really going on right now? The answer was clearly, No! I stated that what is happening is that technology has found a place in the school system and promises to promote better opportunities for all by "personalizing" their programs. But no two individuals are alike, so are their millions or even billions of options for one to choose from or better yet created just for them. I don't think so. I stated that these were the answers and furthermore questions that will come from these meetings. Finally, I asked, what can we do to change this and make it more personal for each student? Is it even possible?

Poster saying I am Me
This summary is on a blog posting by Will called, "Our" Curriculum vs. "Their" Curriculum. I stated that I had read his post and followed his and Dan Meyer's comments back and forth to each other. I stated that while I understand both of their positions, shouldn't our focus, which I believe he addressed in his post, be on the future of the students? I stated that I can see, by giving the students an almost blank piece of paper that says "Curriculum" at the top, a chance for students to state what they feel is necessary for them to learn. I stated, given that we will get some ludicrous comments/suggestions on the returned curricula, we then go back and ask the students why. I said, isn't this what we did as children? Didn't we always question when something was told to us because we were curious? I said, let's get curious about what the students are thinking and wanting. I can guarantee you and any other adult over the age of 25 that we don't know. We think we do, but we really don't. I stated that what they put on the paper will definitely give us a view of their world as they see it. I believe it will open eyes and allow educators to see that students want to learn but have been held back by preposterous demands and inadequate learning opportunities. I told him that I was not saying that we need to get rid of the current curriculum altogether, but we do need to revise it and do our best to make it personal to each and every student that we teach. Let's treat each student like an individual and not like a statistic.

Picture of painting of books needed for education
This summary is on a blog posting by Will called, "The Committee of Ten…Corporations". I state that with the statements listed in the post, I couldn't agree more. I go on to say that with me being an educated man of color, I can see how my education could have been different had it encompassed more of what I was interested in. I learned what I did because I had to, not because I was the least bit interested in what I was taught. As a matter of fact, I can't remember a lot of what I had no interest in at all (like European History). Whereas, those that have created the curriculum, have created it because they all had a general interest in what was in it or were too afraid to speak out if they disagreed. I finally went on to say, the problem is, this curriculum is not suitable for a lot of students and people wonder why they don't do well with it. Change the dynamic of the planning committee and they will change the curriculum. Then we can watch students rise above; well beyond what we have ever seen before.

C4T Semester Long Chosen by Me Summary Post #3

Final C4T Summary Chosen by Me

Thank You Card with Thank You in many different languages
In this summary post, I just wanted to say "Thank You" to Dave for his blog and the many tools he have inspired me to use. I told him after attending the NCTM (National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics) conference in New Orleans this past week, I understood what was offered and what he has to go through to determine what is useful and what is not. I told him, believe it or not, I have used Desmos a lot and have explored Geogebra some because he has directed me to those resources and I love them. I also told him that I've also used other resources but wouldn't have known about them without him so I said "Thank You" again for being amazing and sharing with us (readers of his blog).

Funny Cartoon that basically states Blame Everything on Teachers
This is a summary of a comment I left on Jeff's blog posting called, "Keeping it Real". I stated that when I came across his post I knew I had to read it when I saw "Keeping It Real". I told him as a future educator, I want to know what some of the struggles are that some teachers have faced. I told him that I believe whatever stories he has, although it may seem like it is just happening to him, can be useful for visitors of his blog. I also suggested not sugar-coating the truth. I told him we need to know so we can be prepared. We don't want to walk in and think that it is just going to be easy (which if anyone does that, they are in for a rude awakening anyway), we want to know the "stone cold" truth. I said, for example, I hear that a lot of times the students aren't really hard to deal with. I hear that it is more of the politics of education and the administration that most people have problems with. Is that true? Please enlighten me and others whether it be through your posts or through comments. I am sure there are a lot of people out there who wish to know. Lastly, I thanked him for reading my comment.

Picture of an African American boy in a school setting
This is a summary of a comment I left on Jeff's blog posting called, "Every Child Deserves an Advocate". I stated that this was a wonderful post for a new teacher. It showed that even a teacher that has been in the field for a while can care about students so much that they will not give up on them. I told him that this is the type of teacher I hope to be. I stated that I want to be the one that they say is crazy for helping those that they believe will never succeed. I stated that I believe everyone can be successful but they need someone who will show them this. I told him that the students he talked about that were having issues at home already felt like they wouldn't make it. I told him if we can be an ally to these students, that would mean the world to them. I stated that he was right we he stated they may not make the best grades especially during these trying times, but that does not mean that they are not just as intelligent as the student sitting next to them. I finally told him that we have a long way to go, especially in the urban schools, and we need agents (allies) in the field like him. I stated that as an agent in the field, he is doing God's work by helping these students and it doesn't matter what anyone else says. In God's eyes and the eyse of the students he has reached, he has done well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

C4K Summary Post #3

Summary for Josh

Picture of Students at Pt. England school ready for FiaFia Night

Josh made a video explaining their FiaFia night. I commented on how I enjoyed hearing about their FiaFia night. I exclaimed that although I didn't know what a FiaFia night was, it appeared to be a lot of fun. I commented on some of his moves were and told him to be careful because he might hurt someone. I told him it was a great video and they were all great actors. That is the summary of my comment left for Josh.

Summary for Myztique
Picture of a group getting ready for a dance for FiaFia night

Myztique wrote a blog post about her experience at the FiaFia. I stated that it sounds like she had a lot of fun at the FiaFia. It also appeared that her family was very supportive of her dancing. I stated that she must have danced really well at the FiaFia. I finished by stating that I am glad that she enjoyed FiaFia and believe it is the best. I told her that is what enjoying life is all about!

Summary for Taiaha
Picture of a big black whale drawn by Taiaha

Taiaha wrote a poem about a big black whale. Before we could get to the poem, I commented on the design of his blog. He had drawn a nice looking car and I told him I was a big "fast car" fan myself. I told him his poem was excellently written and I especially liked when he said "And the sailors look pale, When they hear his tail, Go bang, bang, bang". I told him it painted a vivid picture and made the poem come alive. I told him it was a great poem and great picture! He did a great job!

Summary for Danielle
Picture of kids at a camp in New Zealand

Danielle told a story about the camp. I commented on how I loved listening to her camp story. I told her that I would like some of that yummy food she mentioned. I also stated that it sounds like the children had fun at the pool. I told her this was an excellent post and she did a good job.

Summary for Inez
Picture of fruits and vegetables and the words Healthy Eating

Inez wrote a post on why eating healthy food is so important. I commented on how I really enjoyed reading her post. I stated that she gave such great details on why eating healthy is so important I didn't know why anyone wouldn't. I also stated that it looked like she had really done her research and it showed. I told her that this was a well written post and she did a wonderful job.

Summary for Amethyst
Picture of Amethyst's game of Cops and Robbers

Amethyst's post contained a link to a game called cops and robbers that she played so I commented on that post. I actually played the game and found the robber in 6 moves. I told her it was a little confusing at first because I didn't know what the numbers represented but once I determined that they were telling me how far I was from the robber, it made it somewhat easier to find the robber. I told her this was a great learning tool especially if you are discussing distance in your class. I thanked her for posting the link!

Project #8 Teaching Digital Natives Conversational Book Review

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blog Post #9

Teaching or Learning...Which one is it?

Picture of earth taken by the balloon camera
The question is: "What can we learn about teaching and learning from a group of experienced teachers?" I would say that it is hard to say what we have learned about learning because to every individual, learning really is something different. But, I can say that we have learned how to teach differently, focusing not on explaining but experiencing. In Mr. Crosby's video, his class was structured on learning through experiences and although his video featured a science lesson, his entire classroom appeared to embody learning through experiences and not lecturing. One could focus on the video being about the balloon experiment and everything preceding the experiment but I believe the focus was on getting students interested in what they were learning without telling them this is what you are going to learn. This should have been done for two reasons. The first is you want students to be able to come away with some knowledge gained based on their own observations. The second is, if we give students a preconceived idea about what they should learn, they may dismiss something they learned as just a fluke, because that was not the intention of this experience. Testing/evaluating also took on a new avenue as he could really see what students learned from their blog postings. Now, everyone might have "taking away" something different from that experience but we will not ever all see the same thing in an experience. Have you ever noticed when something happens and people are all looking at the same thing and each of them sees something different? This occurs with learning also and although the teacher may have a specific goal in mind when it comes to objectives being learned given a certain experience, students' responses and ideas about what they have seen may determine what they have learned rather than the objective at hand. Please know and program into your memory bank that this is ok as long as the students have learned. Our goal as a teacher is to get students to learn and I believe it is better that they learned something totally different than what we expected them to learn instead of sitting and listening to a lecture and learning absolutely nothing at all.

Paul Andersen stated one very intriguing thing that ties in to what I stated above. He said "I don't think you've learned something until you can explain it to somebody else". While he did it differently by reviewing/interviewing his students it was also done by Mr. Crosby with the blog posts. Mr. Andersen also had a summary quiz, which, while I feel it is ok for assigning a test grade, I don't feel that it is absolutely necessary for the students to show what they know. Haven't they already done this during the review session? Mr. Andersen did state that he won't even allow them to move on the summary quiz until they have explained to him what they have learned during the review session. So, is the summary quiz really necessary? The only benefit I see is for the teacher and not so much for the student. If a lot of the students are missing the same questions, maybe that objective was not clearly covered in any of the material they have gone over or maybe it is just a bad question. To really get at what a student knows we need to, as Mr. Andersen did, probe them until they can justify why they are giving certain answers. I believe a summary quiz should only be given as a tool for the teacher to know if they have covered every objective intended and it should not be keep "guessing" until you get it right. See what was missed. Marry this up to the verbal responses and go from there. If they explained it well and justified their answer, they clearly know what they were talking about. Maybe the problem is not with the students but with the questions.

Mr. Church decided to get some brainstorming going on in his classroom. Having worked in business for 10+ years, I can say that it is a very useful tool for a student's future. People need to be able to collaborate. Groups need to come up with ideas, a task, and then develop that idea into something tangible. While he had the students get into small groups and come up with ideas, the next step would be developing these ideas through research. Also, through research, collaboration, and candid discussion, these students are able to refine their idea and justify their position on such a topic while producing tangible evidence that supports their position.

Picture of student at desk with his superhero he created on his computer screen
Mr. Pane, like many of the other teachers above, decided to introduce fun into his lesson. Dealing with 5th graders, he had to show them how to use the internet safely while achieving a learning objective. He was able to get his students to engage by providing them with something that was familiar to them. It was just a quote from the movie "Spiderman" but his students knew it and were now engaged. He kept their attention by showing them how to create a marvel superhero and telling them that they would be able to create one also. This was a fun activity for them but to do it right, they had to pay attention. Part of creating a superhero and embedded in that assignment was creating a story on internet safety. So, Mr. Pane got the students to pay attention to what he was trying to do by getting them engaged from the beginning. He had them talk to each other (collaborate) on what internet safety was. He then kept their attention with the marvel superhero creation. Finally, he had them create and share some of their superhero stories on internet safety. Thus, Mr. Pane had an objective to accomplish and he went about accomplishing this objective with creativity, collaboration, and sharing with an authentic audience (classmates).

In the Project Based Learning Video I truly enjoyed how three different teachers came together and was able to show the students how all of the things they were learning worked together. If students have the chance to see how math and science is related, how Literature, Social Studies, and Information Processing are related, and how if they work together they can accomplish an enormous feat, isn't this worth pursuing? The students want to be able to see why they need a certain subject and a lot of times it is hard to tell/show them how it can be applied elsewhere. Being that I will be teaching math next year, I want to be able to show my students the math involved in science, and how they can create with math. I want them to see how it is all connected and the way the teachers did that in this video was just amazing. I liked, even more, how a student saw that they had done sub-par work after viewing another students' presentation and wanted to go back and make it better. I liked how after receiving feedback from the teachers, three students had stated that they were proud of their work when they thought they might have been done before the feedback. Students want to do the best they can and sometimes all they need is a little nudge. This nudge can come in many different ways. It can come from several teachers asking about similar things. It can come from one teacher saying "I see this, but what about that" which inspires them to dig deeper. It's all about invoking curiosity among the students. If we can get students interested in what they are learning, we can teach them to learn about anything.

Roosevelt Elementary's Project Based Learning (PBL) approach should speak wonders to teachers around the world. The statement made by one teacher that said that every child has a spark really hit home with me. This means, to me, that every child is learning but in their own way. Without PBL some of these student's may have not ever realized their potential for academic success and as such would have gone through school failing and feeling like a failure their entire life. You can see it in adults even after they have left school. You can see that we are all different and we have differing strengths and weaknesses so why are we trying to teach every child the same way? Why do we expect every child to learn the same way? With PBL, as mentioned in the video, it allows students to have a sense of ownership; PBL allows for different learning styles within a classroom and makes sure every student is allowed to show that individual spark. In the video it also spoke about one very important aspect of PBL and that is public speaking. Why is this important? It is important because as adults, to even get a job, you must be able to present who you are to an audience and prove that you are that right person for the job. You will constantly be tasked with presenting ideas/sharing your thoughts with an audience. This may be an audience of 1 or of millions but if you are confident in what you have done and have the experience of speaking in public without being ridiculed, you will be a confident and very good public speaker and I believe PBL is preparing these students for such a thing. Today a classroom, tomorrow the world!

High School Students engaged in Project Based Learning
While all of the videos incorporated different styles of PBL, one thing remains consistent in them all. Every one of these teachers gave the opportunity for their students to have a voice, to take ownership of their learning and to show what they know. Isn't this what learning is all about? Shouldn't we be teaching kids to think independently and have confidence in themselves? The question was: "What can we learn about teaching and learning from these teachers?" and I now believe I have an answer. You can learn that, as teachers, we will not have all of the answers. You can learn that, as teachers, you should not expect every child to learn the same way. You can learn, as teachers, sometimes it is not what you say but what you do that inspires your students to learn. You can learn, and I feel this is the most important, that by giving a student ownership of his or her learning they will accomplish not only what you wanted them to but more than you could have ever expected. So, my title is "Teaching or Learning...Which one is it?" The answer is both for the students and the teachers. You are teaching them to be independent thinkers and about making the world a safer and better place and you are learning how to trust your students and see them as little adults who hold the key to your future in their hands. There is innocence in every child and left untainted, the possibilities of what they can accomplish are endless. So, don't taint a child's world just because you don't believe. Guide them, inspire them, to create a new world in which they can achieve.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Post #8

Project Based Learning: What Have You Learned from Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange?

Picture of Process Diagram for Project Based Learning

From the beginning of the discussion there were many things to learn but certain things that I picked up on as crucial for success. Throughout the discussion and especially toward the end, there were some things (well one in particular) that I thought I must question for several reasons as you will see below. This post will give a brief synopsis of what I learned from the video and in some sense, in this class. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the reading. I sincerely hope you will learn something too!

Anthony gave these tips when working on Project Based Learning (PBL) and I will state why I think they are important.
1. Chunk Assignments (for check-in points) - He stated that it makes the assignment easier to digest and also breaks it down into what I will call achievable tasks. I agree with this totally, but for young children, it is manageable and will hold their attention. If something takes too long they will disengage and thus stop participating.
2. Make sure assignment engages students - Not only do you want the assignment to engage your students, you want your students to remain engaged. This is how #1 and #2 really work together. Find something engaging for the students to do and then break it up to make sure they remain engaged.
3. Make sure students have options - When giving students a project to work on, make sure it isn't one dimensional, allow them to explore using the creativity that lies within all of us. Give them a voice and that voice will resound like something you've never experienced before.
4. It is poor planning on behalf of the teacher when you deal with situations where students can't do the things listed above - Based on all 4 speaking points, I believe this is the one where teachers can learn the most. It is not the students fault if they aren't doing what is expected. As teachers, we will make mistakes! We will do thing wrong! It is up to us to learn from our mistakes and do it better the next time. So, don't punish the kids because of your poor planning. Try to do things again in a different way and then maybe you will see the results you expected.

Animated picture of Pen Pals in different countries
Anthony did something interesting with his class that we should all learn from although I am sure a lot of teachers teach this but in different ways. His class did a study on cultures to make Gulf Shores more welcoming for incoming students (especially ESL Students) and the way he did this was amazing. He set up a video pen pal system with his students and some ESL students that spoke the language the students were learning on Rosetta Stone. This helps Gulf Shores look more appealing to the students who wish to come here as well as helps his students and the ESL students learn a new language by communicating with each other. He had them recap lessons from the week and then talk about their own lives which will help open up similarities but also differences among students both here and abroad.

Anthony also gave these tips. To get teachers on board with PBL they need to pace themselves and not try to accomplish everything all at once. He also stated that teachers need to pick a tool, decide you are going to use it and become proficient at it before you move on to the next tool. He also stated that you don't have to teach technology, you just have to use it in front of your students and they will figure out how to use it. I say, they were born in this technological age, so they will get it before we do. Let them fly, let them go, they will be fine! He stated that the kids need to feel free to ask other kids for help with the tools and stay on task with the content. They will do this and because of this freedom and them understanding each other, sorry teachers, the students will learn far more from their classmates than we could ever teach them. This is because they understand each other and relate better than an adult can relate to a child. Don't be disappointed though, be encouraged that they are learning and figure out what you can do to help them learn more. When picking tools, Anthony stated that teachers should pick different tools each week and let the students use these tools in the future. Isn't this what learning is all about? Being able to know when to use what you have learned and use it properly and successfully? He mentioned that there were 8 aspects of PBL and stated that as a teacher, you should choose one and work on it that week, switch each week and teach the students the components of PBL that way, start at the beginning of the year and get the students to understand PBL before you expect them to use PBL. This is an example of chunking in the simplest way. You can always apply what you have learned as a teacher to situations in the future and you want your students to be able to do the same. Explain the 8 aspects of PBL in chunks and the students will remember what they are and apply them as needed.

Dr. Strange and Anthony kind of mentioned strategies on: How can I become a better instructor? One way, which is probably the most important, is to learn from your mistakes. Anthony stated that his classroom is much less fun without PBL and the students noticed that they weren't doing PBL at the moment. They love and need that freedom, that independence to grow so they can make it in the future. So, what happens when kids move to the next grade? At Anthony's school, it has been because it has to be a school initiative otherwise it may not work. If the students are used to PBL and you want to transition back to a traditionally boring classroom, they will feel (for lack of a better word) almost inadequate. The tools they have learned they can no longer use. They want to do things one way but everything has to be the teacher’s way. Let's not go back to that and ruined what the students have already worked so hard to achieve. For this to happen though, teachers need to be trained thoroughly and properly in PBL. According to Anthony, after teachers have been trained they need to share what they have learned with others in their schools. The administration and teachers need to blanket their campus with PBL research after starting with a pocket of teachers that wants to use PBL. They need to be constantly researching and have new research tools available for teachers to learn. These are things that need to be done, according to Mr. Capps to ensure success with PBL. This way, students come in with a toolbox of knowledge and puts pressure on teachers to use these tools. If the teachers are not prepared they will not succeed with PBL as the students will undoubtedly know more than they and will be teaching them.

Picture of many stuffed animals
Finally, they spoke about giving the students an audience. Face it, students learn and then want to express what they have learned to someone. This is where the audience plays a key factor in their development. The easiest audience, Mr. Capps stated, is stuffed animals. They don't respond but always give the students their full attention making presenting to them extraordinarily special for the students. He also mentioned that they should present to various different audiences (especially within the school and with parents - through parties). By presenting to familiar audiences students felt comfortable enough to express themselves but would also be excited about the audience's reaction. By presenting to partners, groups, class, and parents they were able to be themselves and feel confident with what they were presenting. It also provided the students with the opportunity for different authentic audiences.

Anthony brought up this very important point about parents. He stated that parents have questions about PBL because they are concerned about grades. Anthony stated that the grades reflect skills needed for growth and some skills are harder for some students even if they received all A's before. He stated that we are teaching kids to think as adults. They are solving real world problems. But is this really what we want our elementary kids doing? I want my child to develop critical thinking skills but at what costs? Will they quickly lose their youth? These are some concerns I have as well as others that I am sure other parents have as well. With grades and testing and test scores being such a vital part of a child's future are we not hurting them by switching them to PBL when they are used to and are comfortable with the old way of doing things? How do we change things in the right way without doing too much damage. I don't want a child grown at age 8. They should still be exploring and thinking like a kid. Mr. Capps states that the parents are saying their kids have never been more engaged and they are excited about coming to school. I guess grades will improve because of this but what else will happen in the future? I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Please feel free to enlighten me!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

C4T Semester Long Chosen by Me Summary Post #2

C4T Semester Long Chosen by Me Summary Post #2

Picture of a House and a yard covered in snow
For my first comment on Dave Sladkey's posts, I commented on a post called: "What is the Weight of the Snow You Shoveled this Winter?". It was appealing to me because I am originally from the North and remember those shoveling days. It was interesting to know that according to Dave's calculations he had shoveled 14 tons of snow. I basically commented on how I remembered shoveling snow like that and how I thought it would be a great project for high school children. That sums up my comment on Dave's post.

Picture of Ice Conference 2014 Logo that states Connect to Learn
For my second comment on Dave Sladkey's posts, I commented on a post called: "ICE Conference 2014". In this post Dave went to a conference and provided information on several resources for teachers. I stated that after reading on how to use all of that technology that was presented at the conference, I wished I was there. I also tried one of the links that he had provided and could see how that could be useful in a high school Algebra I class. It was a game involving math, but it was fun and addictive. It encourages learning and seeing patterns in math. He also gave information on products like SMART LightRaise and how to use it and stated it was much cheaper than the actual SMARTboard but just as useful. I thanked him for all of this information and told him it was a very informative post.

Picture of a 3D version of the Geogebra Logo
For my third comment on Dave Sladkey's posts, I commented on a post called: "Geogebra: The Unit Circle and the Reference Angle." I commented on how I had learned a lot about the new forms of Math Technology because of his posts. I told him that I tried it, using his example, and I also downloaded Geogebra and would find a way to incorporate it into our curriculum. I stated that I will continue to play with it and try to determine what type of lesson plans can be created with Geogebra. I told him if he had any suggestions, I would be happy to hear them. I thanked him introducing me to this wonderful tool and told him I look forward to learning a lot more from him.

Picture of Google Drive Logo
For my fourth comment on Dave Sladkey's posts, I commented on a post called: "Google Drive! What are you waiting for Math Teachers?". I commented on how I hadn't used Google Drive the way he had described it in his post. I gave the reasons why which included not having my own classroom yet and not understanding how to use Google Drive properly. I told him that I did not know that all of those things could be accomplished with Google Drive and using it just makes your job as a teacher that much easier. I finally stated that although I don't have my own classroom yet, I can still start adding files to my Google Drive that my students will use. I stated that I could just do like he said and label my folders so the students know where to go to find material. That was my comment for this post.

C4T Semester Long Chosen by Dr. Strange Summary #2

C4T Semester Long Chosen by Dr. Strange Summary #2

Picture of boring looking classroom
My first comment on Will Richardson's posts was on a post called: Classrooms as “Shapeless and Unmoored”. The post basically talked about how the classroom was like a corporation and how it was bounded and creating a future that was "shapeless and unmoored". I commented on how I worked in the business world for over 10 years and experienced some of the rejection for trying to come up with something new. I stated that I did not want a classroom like that. I wanted a classroom where students felt free to come up with new ideas and have those ideas actually be investigated. I stated that the change needs to start in the classroom and then maybe the corporations would "wake up and smell the coffee". That was the basis of that comment.

Picture of textbooks and pencils and rulers and Common Core typed at the bottom
My second comment on Will Richardson's posts was on a post called: "The Text Focused Common Core". The post basically showed how the common core was a text based curriculum and Will stated that if we are to move forward, we can't be stuck on just learning reading text. I mentioned how this was interesting because it excludes learning styles and if common core wants to focus on keeping every student at the same level, it needs to consider different learning styles. I talked about how I, as an adult, know how to read and enjoys reading certain things but preferred visual or auditory learning. I also stated that Common Core could not solely be text based unless they were trying to exclude those that learn differently, thus being not so common.

Picture of mom and struggling son with school work
My third comment on Will Richardson's post was on a post called: "One Mom’s Struggle With School and Tests". I provided a link to this one because my comment is quite lengthy as I discuss what it is like to be a parent, with children at different levels, a pre-service teacher having to teach using the methods that, to me, aren't working and empathize with the mom of this article, as she is really struggling with our educational system. I explain how I have had some of the same struggles she is having but her daughter is just 7 and mine is 15. I also explain how we need to change but I assure her, change is coming because I cannot just stand around and watch our children's future dwindle away. It is a long comment but, I assure you, worth it to read.

Image of PISA/OECD Logo
My fourth comment on Will Richardson's post was on a post called: "The Limitations of PISA". I commented on what I felt PISA was all about, a tool for the United States. I stated that it was a tool used to identify intelligence in other countries. I stated that it was not testing for the things that really matter but that was ok. I stated that the smart students come to the US and create or work for those that have created and leave their countries in the dark. I went on to say that some students give back to their country but they are still making money for and inventing for America. So, why continue the use of PISA? Why wouldn't we if it is working. To me, I commented PISA has done exactly what the US has intended and the OECD wouldn't change anything that might harm this program. I couldn't say that PISA was not working the way it was intended to work because it was. I summed it up by saying that the US has found a great tool, and they don't plan to give it up anytime soon.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

C4T Rotating Summary Post #2

Rotating Teacher's Summary #2

Futuristic picture of blonde woman and a machine
For my C4T comment on a post by David Warlick, I decided to comment on a post he wrote called "Welcome to 2024". In this post David kind of explained what it would be like to come back from 2024 and end up in 2014 at a conference. I asked a lot of interesting questions about what the future would be like to get him and readers thinking about the future. That pretty much summed up my comment on David's Welcome to 2024 posting.

For my C4T comment on a post by Jenny She, I decided to comment on a post she wrote called "Having a Go at Photography". Mrs. She took photos of flowers and I commented on how beautiful they were. I told her that she has inspired me to starting taking pictures again as I enjoy it and used to in the past. She stated that she didn't have an expensive camera so she took pictures with her iPhone. I don't have an expensive camera either, so we just have to do the best with what we have.

Image of 4Square logo
For my C4T comment on a post by Lee Kolbert, I decided to comment on a post she wrote called "Why I Deleted Foursquare, and Why You Should, Too!". She spoke about how 4square had changed their privacy policy and that everything you would do on there would be available for the public to see. So, she decided to delete her account with 4square knowing that the old activity would remain private. I commented on how I had my doubts about posting anything on the internet that identifies my location and have always tried to turn that feature off. I also stated that after seeing what she had done with the little information she had how I could only imagine how easy it must be for a criminal. I commended her on deleting her foursquare account and stated that I hope all that have read your post has learned something from her. I summed it up by saying to all of the social media users out there: "Be careful, Don't Be a Victim!"

Picture of It's Complicated Book Cover
For my C4T comment on a post by Steven Anderson, I decided to comment on a post he wrote called "Things That Have Me Thinking-March 28". In this post Steven wrote about a book called "It's Complicated", Edcamp USDOE and, Blogging as Publishing. In my comment, I stated what I was thinking about and that was what we had wrote about in his blog. I told him that I think I may want to go to Edcamp USDOE to see if anyone shares my ideas and learn a little (or a lot). I also stated that I too, thought that we should know what is going on in the life of a teen, so reading "It's Complicated" or even interviewing your students was a good thing to do. I told him about my experiences as a substitute teacher and stated that I have found out a lot and plan to use that when I start teaching next year. I told him that we blog so I am use to that but I would invite my students to create blogs also and share them with the world. That was a summary of my comment on Steven Anderson's post.

C4K Summary Post #2

Summary for Nahea
Nahea created and shared her iPad story. I told her how it inspired me to come back and see what else she can do with an iPad in the future. I told her she had done great work and thanked her for sharing her story with me. That is a summary of my post for Nahea.

Summary for Mata
Mata created and shared her story on swim lessons. I told her that her posts was good and that she was on her way to becoming a great swimmer. I told her I didn't start swimming until I was 11 but I played water polo and then made the swim team in high school. That is a summary of my post for Mata.

Summary for Bitner
Picture of Harold the Giraffe
Bitner created and shared his story on Harold, the Giraffe. He stated how they loved Harold, the Giraffe because he was cute and had a smooth neck. I told him hold I wished that I had the opportunity to meet Harold, the Giraffe but if I didn't I knew he was in good hands. That is a summary of my post for Bitner.

Summary for Frankie
Frankie wrote about he and his friends adventures at Swim-a-rama. I told him that it looks like he and his friends had a lot of fun at Swim-a-rama. I told him I hadn't been to Swim-a-rama or to Auckland, NZ yet but after hearing about all of the fun they were having, he has inspired me to come to Swim-a-rama. I finished it up by telling him it was a great post.

Summary for Patricia
Picture of Nikau Palm Trees
Patricia did a presentation on the Nikau Palm. She mentioned how it was New Zealand's only native palm tree. I told her that was something very cool and interesting to know. She told of some of the uses of the Nikau Palm for the Maori and I stated that I wondered if I could use the Nikau Palm to help me build things too. I told her that I didn't know if we had the climate to grow the Nikau Palm here but if we did I had been given wonderful directions on how to grow it. I told her it was a great presentation and I learned a lot from her today.

Summary for Sebastian
I read two of Sebastian's post and commented on both of them in one (they appeared to be related post). One of his posts was on empathy and the other was a news report. In the news report, as explained by Sebastian, a plane had crashed and five people died. I explained to him in my comment how he did a wonderful job on the news report. I also asked him, after he had done some research on empathy and posted different types of empathy in his post, if he had empathy for some of the families of the victims of the plane crash. I empathized with him and stated that I understand if he does. I told him his post taught me more about empathy and it was very good.

Summary for Taimana
Big Nate book being held by a student
Taimana did a reading review of the book, "Big Nate", which was written by the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney. I stated that it must have been a good book to receive a 10 out of 10 rating and asked him if he had read any of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. That was my summary of Taimana's post.

Summary for Jordan
Tom Hassler And The Rats Of Doolmoan Cave book being held by a student
Jordan did a mini book review of the book, "Tom Hassler And The Rats Of Droolmoan Cave". I commented on his description of the book and stated that I liked the way he described what the book was about. I told him I couldn't imagine having to save the world from rats of any kind, not even Droolmoan Cave. I told him that the book must have been very good, even amazing because he gave it a 10 out of 10 rating and stated that he couldn't wait to read the 2nd book. I told him that I might have to read this book myself. That is a summary of my comment on Jordan's post.

Summary for Matiu
Picture of Matiu's Mega Maze
Matiu was able to solve what he calls "My Mega Maze" and then he provided steps on how to get through the maze. I commented on how his maze was amazing and how he gave us good directions. I told him that he had done a good job with the directions and maze. That was a summary of my comment for Maitu.

Project #7

ALEX-Alabama Learning Exchange

Please visit my Google Site, Rambo's Fun Page where you will find 6 pdf's found on ALEX. You will find objectives/content standards for Technology Education, Algebra I, and Geometry. You will also see a PDF of my Personal Workspace with the 5 lesson plans that I have bookmarked. You will see full details for two lesson plans that I bookmarked. These two lesson plans are "When Will Mr. "X" meet Miss "Y"" and "Parent Functions and Their Children". All of these PDF items can be downloaded from my website. Enjoy!

Blog Post #7

21st Century Learning Tools and You

Picture of different functions created on
One tool that I have been an advit fan of for about 6 months now is This is an online graphing calculator that can be used to help students see graphs as they are created and graphs in motion. It allows students to create pictures using math as well as identify the behavior of functions as they approach certain points. I have used as a substitute teacher and it has been a hit for the students. The students have communicated that it has helped them understand functions and what they were doing by seeing the changes in graphs as we changed the function. I have had some fun with students by creating pictures using the graphing calculator with their input. This was a little challenging because the students had to figure out what functions they would need to use to make the pictures look the way they wanted them to. I have used in my lesson plans but those uses of was just for fun. has many uses other than the fun ones I have discussed above. is useful for teachers with smartboards especially when trying to explain a concept like sine, cosine, and other trig functions. It is great for showing how functions that have inverses are related to each other. It is a great tool for a teacher and best of all it is free for all to use. I would recommend the use of to any math teacher. It is a great tool to use to explain functions using graphs.

Picture of Algebasics logo
Other math tools I have found or have been directed to by members of my PLN are Algebasics and GeoGebra. Algebasics is a site (much like Khan Academy but with much less content) that students can use for reinforcement of material learned in class. It explains different types of Algebra equations and goes through a verbal step by step process of how to solve these equations. It is a useful tool if you need additional help but it doesn't really offer too much. It is great for someone who doesn't want to be bombarded by an overwhelming amount of information but wants to understand the material better.
Picture created using GeoGebra of a circle, some lines, and a triangle
GeoGebra, on the other hand, has a lot to offer. Unlike Algebasics, you download GeoGebra to your computer or network (all free of charge) and use this graphing utility to solve all types of problems. To me, GeoGebra is great for introducing and explaining Geometry concepts and it can be used in the classroom and you can have your students play with the program at home on their personal computer. Yes, it can be used for Algebra and creating Spreadsheets and even some CAD designs but I haven't used it for those purposes as of yet; I am still learning the program. I do see this program as a great tool for Geometry teachers and possibly Algebra teachers as well.

picture of banner
The last tool I want to introduce you to is This is a great tool for Elementary teachers through 8th grade teachers. It is a website that is dedicated to learning math while having fun. I played some of the games on there that I thought were useful for introducing my Algebra students to certain topics and my son (who is in 6th grade) got interested in the games and wanted to play them also. This let me know that this was a good tool for students. My daughter, who is in 10th grade now and Algebra 2, was also interested in the games on this site. As math teachers, we have to find a way to make learning a subject most people think they aren't good in fun and attractive. is a site we can use to do this. You can explain to the students what they are learning while they are playing games and also explain why what they are learning is important for their future success. It is not advanced as but it is useful for students in lower grades who need to learn math but want to have fun while doing it. The tool does not really explain why certain things work so that would be left up to the teacher but it is a good homework assignment that allows students to think and have fun at the same time.

Animated picture of a teacher sitting at her desk with her computer in front of her and math problems on the chalk board
While all of these tools can be used as resources for students, none of them replace the teacher in the classroom. The teacher should be the one directing students to use these resources while explaining why they are useful for their growth and development. If the teacher is able to do this, they not only help the students learn math, they also ease the parents fears that their students are playing on the computer but not learning anything. There are many more math tools and tools for other subjects that can be found if you just search a little. The electronic tools are the best as we move toward an all electronic world. Teachers, please do what you will to create a learning environment that is fun and productive. Using some of the tools that I have identified above and others found through research will help increase student productivity in and out of the classroom. Hopefully, you can enjoy these tools.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blog Post #6

Dr. Randy Pausch - The Last Lecture

DVD cover of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

First and foremost we need to understand that the last lecture "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" was not just a lecture for the audience that was there. It was a life lesson for his children which is something he wanted to leave with and for his children while he could. He knew they wouldn't understand what he was telling them now, but in the future, it would be something inspiring for them from a dad that loved them deeply.

From Dr. Pausch's last lecture you could see what type of person he was. Why is this important? It is important because a person's teaching style comes from their personality. I believe you can usually quickly assess a person’s personality and from there determine how they will teach. Dr. Pausch said in his lecture, there is good in everybody and you just have to wait to see it. Based on that comment alone, you can see that he was not going to give up on his students and it was proven throughout his career. His lecture was like he said "how to lead your life" because he believed that if you lead your life the right way, your dreams would come to you.

Leaf medallion with phrase on it from Dr. Randy Pausch
Dr. Pausch enjoyed having fun with what he was teaching and telling interesting stories. His life was an open book for all of us to see and grow from. He definitely wanted you to learn but he also wanted you to have fun while learning. He taught one very valuable lesson. It was to never give up on your dreams. If you give up on your dreams, you end up settling for less than your full potential and happiness is never achieved. Dr. Pausch did what was necessary to make sure his students were successful. He showed gratitude toward those that helped him become successful and he was able to use "head fakes" throughout his career to get his students to learn.

Dr. Pausch achieved so much because his students learned and grew from their experiences with him. The ETC masters program he created was an example of this. It is amazing that companies were guaranteeing his students jobs once they finished the program. It is also amazing that the semesters were simply planned with only 5 projects but the end results were priceless. The students wanted to do well for Dr. Pausch and that is a tribute to the way he worked with students. They were like this because he allowed them to be creative with their work and was not quick to tell them they failed. Mistakes are bound to happen; it's what you do after the mistake is made that determines the quality of your work.

Dr. Pausch was like a pioneer for project/problem based learning and I have to believe it is because of the success that he achieved that so many embrace this type of learning today. Project Based Learning was not something that you did so your students could get a grade, it was something that was done because I believe he knew it could change society. Projects are meant to create change and that is exactly what he and his students at Carnegie-Mellon did. I can truly say that he has inspired me to push my students to their limits. I now want them to explore what appears to be impossible and create using what they have learned throughout their lifetime. I truly appreciate Dr. Pausch for what he has taught us about learning. His work won't be forgotten!

picture of kids exploring and quote by Michelle Hlubinka

Dr. Pausch was a dying man but he did not want anyone to pity him. He had accomplished his dreams and had lived a wonderful life. Yes, he could have lived longer and done even more for the world but it was his time to go. The mere fact that we are still talking about him today and everything he accomplished means his quality of work was excellent. A man should not only be known for what he is doing now but also for the accomplishments he has achieved in the past. If you want your life to speak to others and to be known long after you are gone, you have to make a mark. Dr. Randy Pausch did this in more ways than he could ever think of. Dr. Pausch was a scholar, inspirer, lecturer, learner, and most of all visionary. His vision will continue to live on in all that knew him and especially in his children.