Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My EDM 310 Blog Assignments are Now Complete

This note is for my fellow classmates in Ms. Averitt's class. I had a great time learning and interacting with you all during our time in this class. I made many great connections and even came out of it with a new friend! Thank you all for making this class memorable!

What I Learned in EDM 310

I have to say this class was a surprise to me. I came into the class on the first day thinking "Oh great, another computer class..." I thought that I had learned everything about a computer that I would ever need to know, but was I ever proved wrong! In the class I learned how to create blogs, use iGoogle, create an iGoogle homepage, use excel to make spreadsheets for my future classroom, use power point in the classroom, and interact with teachers from around the world!

I am so happy that this class exceeded my expectations. Now I feel ready and capable of providing my students with the educational technology that they need. This class helped expand my computer skills greatly and I would not change anything at this point.

ACCESS Lab Visit

This is a picture of me standing behind the desk in the access lab at Foley High School. The desk is black and has a projector sitting on the right side of it. I am wearing a bright green shirt and the classroom is painted white.For this assignment Jessica and I visited the ACCESS lab located at Foley High School in Baldwin County Alabama. The ACCESS lab at Foley High was not up and running yet, but all of the equipment was set up and will be ready for use by this coming Fall semester. The lab had many important features such as two flat screen televisions in the front and back of the classroom, a smart board set up in the front and a projector that is used along with the smart board. The classroom is also capable of facilitating 32 students at a time.

ACCESS stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide. The ACCESS lab is a distance learning program that allows students to "access" classes that are not offered at their current school. This gives students a larger variety of class choices. ACCESS works by locating schools throughout the state who offer different courses than those offered at the current school. The course that a student would take in the ACCESS lab is going to be taught by a teach from a different school. The student will actually become a member of the class in the other school and will be able to communicate with the teacher virtually. I know that if the ACCESS lab had been used when I was in high school it would have made a great difference in how I scheduled my classes!

This is a picture of the access classroom. The picture is taken from the back of the room and faces the front. The desk is located to the left, the smart board is in the middle of the room, and the flat screen television is located to the right. There are four rows of desks capable of fitting thirty two students.

Another way that the ACCESS lab is being used at Foley High School is to lower the dropout rate. There is a poster in the room which I have a pictured below. It states "Linking Leaders for Dropout Prevention". Students today love technology, so giving them the technology they love in an educational way is very important. The ACCESS lab can be a great escape from the traditional classroom setting. I believe that ACCESS would be a great way to motivate students to stay in school.

This is a picture of the poster board found in the classroom. It is red and and has high school students pictured around the poster. In large letters the poster says Community Action, Linking Leaders for dropout prevention.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Edutopia Podcasts

For this assignment I was asked to watch two video podcasts found in Edutopia on iTunes. The first video podcast I watched was "The Edible Schoolyard" which was done by students at Martin Luther King Junior Middle School in Berkely, California. This classroom is actually an outdoor classroom where students spend their first period planting, harvesting, and eating what they grow from their organic "edible" schoolyard! Their outdoor classroom is adjacent to their indoor kitchen area where they also learn social studies, math, science, and life. The teachers use every part of their environment to teach. I feel like I can relate to this somewhat because I come from a farming family. We only grow fruits and vegetables and I absolutely love having access to fresh vegetables anytime I need them. I also love watching them grow. I thought this podcast was amazing and would love to be able to incorporate something like this into my classroom as well.

The next podcast I listened to was "A Night in the Global Village" by Heifer Ranch for sharing and learning. The program is designed to let kids walk in someone elses shoes and focuses on hunger and poverty. They also raise and then donate livestock to poverty stricken countries. The ranch simulates living conditions that would be found in a country with poverty such as Thailand. The living areas are actually categorized into different countries. I think this is an amazing way to make students aware of what is happening in the world around them. It also lets them know how lucky they are to have what they have. This would be an awesome experience for anyone, not just children.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pros and Cons of Blogging

For this assignment I chose Jessica's blog. We worked on our podcast together and share the same views on most of the topics we have been assigned. I agree with her pros and cons about classroom blogging and her ideas about some of the blog assignments we have completed throughout this semester. This semester was my first experience with blogs and I have had mixed emotions about them, but the more familiar I got with using blogs the more I realized how they can benefit the classroom.
I believe that blogs can play a positive roll in the classroom in many ways. Students today are very tech savvy so using blogs in the classroom can be a valuable way of gaining their attention. Students can easily look up missed homework assignments if they are absent. They can access links to educational websites and access skill building exercises for certain subjects. They can also keep up with their classmates using their classroom blog.
Although there are many pros to having a classroom blog, there are also many cons. Some students may not have access to a computer when they go home so the blog would be of no use to them. Also, a blog may not interest some students so they would never check it. There is also the problem of privacy. Some parents may be against having a classroom blog so that would be a tough obstacle to overcome.
Overall the pros and cons of blogging are clear to see. The cons may be a little hard to overcome, but I think the outcome of having a classroom blog would be a great addition to any classroom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

EDM Podcasts

The first podcast I listened to was Facebook: It's in class! But can it be useful in class? I listened to this one because this is close to the topic that my group was assigned. The first thing I noticed were the uh and ums. I could also hear them laughing when they messed up. I could hear what sounded like papers moving in the background which was a little distracting. I did like that they joked about facebook and made it a little more personal. The next one I listened to was titled How Technology is used in the College of Education. I thought they started off great but I could tell that they were probably reading the information straight from the paper. They gave examples of how to use technology which was nice.

The next podacst I listened to was about Burpback Education. While listening to this one I had to turn the volume up very high to hear what was being said. They started off loud but trailed off towards the end of their sentences. I liked that they talked about why they wanted to teach the certain grade levels that they chose. I liked that they also gave examples of burpback education and how to avoid them. However, they talked very fast so it was hard to catch everything that was being said. The last podcast I listened to was What I learned from Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. This was one of the podcasts done in our class so I had to turn the volume up to the max to hear it, but that could not be helped. I like how they started the podcast but they also spoke very fast.

I was unable to listen to my podcast because it said error every time I clicked on it. I would say that after I listened to others I would have done ours a little differently. We were reading directly from the paper also so I'm sure that people could tell. Other than that I think all the podcasts were pretty good, especially since this was the first time for most of us. I think with a little more practice we can all make great podcasts. This assignment was a great start and we can only learn from our mistakes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Conversation with Mr. C!

For this assignment I was able to contact Mr. C’s fifth grade class located in Noel, Missouri. I think his blog is pretty much amazing, especially since this is the second time I have written about it! I asked him a few questions about using blogs in the classroom and his response was much more than I expected! I am sure everyone else will love it too, so check it out! I have posted our conversation and the link to his answers below.

Samantha said...

Mr. C,

I absolutely love your classroom blog! I am a junior at the University of South Alabama majoring in Social Science Education. I am doing a project that requires me to make an electronic contact with a teacher from another state. If you don't mind I would love to ask you a few questions about your blog!

Samantha Mason

Wm Chamberlain said...

Of course I am willing to answer your questions. You can leave them on the blog, or you can email me at wmchamberlain@gmail.com.

Sam said...

Thanks so much!

I was just wondering what it is like to use a blog in the classroom? How do your students use it? Do your students like having a class blog? What made you decide to create a class blog? Are their parents able to check the blog? In what ways do you think your class benefits from having this kind of technology in the classroom?

Thanks Again!
Samantha Mason

Wm Chamberlain said...

I turned your questions into a blog post. If what I did doesn't work, let me know.


Mr. C

Sam said...

I want to thank you and your class so much! The information was great and the way you chose to answer the questions was awesome! I plan to use this type of technology in my future classroom as well and I think your blog will be an excellent building block!

Thanks Again!
Samantha Mason

Monday, April 6, 2009

Maine Podcasts

For this assignment I was asked to listen to two podcasts. Both podcasts were made by the Maine Department of Education and the woman talking in them is Judy Chandler. The first podcast is titled Mathematics with Technology. Some teachers erase technology from their math classrooms for many reasons such as not enough time, need to get to the end of the book, or they just do not believe in it. However, technology is essential in students learning math. Technology was actually included as one of the six critical principals in having a quality math education. Their are many tools in technology that engage students.

The second podcast is titled Thinking Mathematically. In most math settings they learn example by example in the text book. Some students are unable to learn by this. They can memorize formulas but they still may not know how to use them. Mathematics takes thinking. I believe technology can be an outstanding way for kids to connect with math. I was always horrible in math. I hated going to class, doing the work that I did not understand, and no matter how many times the teacher showed me how to do the equation I still never fully understood it. I wish my teachers would have used some sort of technology in my math classes. Maybe I could have made a better connection than I did using the examples in the book.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stanford Podcast

I recently watched a video podcast made by Stanford University. The podcast was titled "Growth" vs "Fixed" Mindsets in Learning. At first there was some debate over each mindset, then they decided to teach children the growth mindset in an educational setting. The first half of the students went through an eight session workshop studying work skills and personality skills. The second half of the students only received study skills. They said the study skills were great and they thought they would be motivating, but the end result was not good what so ever. This was because they had no personal motivation to put their studies into practice.

The group of students with work skills and personality skills did exceptionally well. They were taught with the Growth mindset method. "Your brain is like a muscle, it gets stronger when it is used." Their connections increased over time and their intellectual skills grew as well. They are now doing research to see if race car drivers can benefit from the growth mindset.

I believe this type of growth mindset needs to be used in every classroom. A student can be taught anything, but they will not learn it unless they can use it themselves and see it in practice. It is completely true that your brain gets stronger if you use it. I want my students to understand this.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Video Podcasts

For this assignment I was asked to watch video podcasts on iTunes. The video podcast that I found to watch was titled Super Why Episode 102 - Hansel and Gretel by PBS Kids. In this episode they talk about reading. Cartoon characters are used and are designed to attract young elementary level children. There is a main character named Wyatt and he travels through a bookcase to find different activities to do. He goes on picnics with his friends who are different fairytale characters.

Wyatt calls super readers when there is a problem and they meet in the book club. I can see where a type of video podcast like this can be useful in the classroom. This type of video can be very interesting to elementary age children. It is full of bright colors and allows the child to become a part of the video. The characters talk to the viewer, not just among themselves. I think this video is a great way to help children with reading.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

iTunes Podcasts

This was my first time actually exploring what else is on iTunes besides music. I found the podcasts to be pretty interesting, some more than others. The first podcast I listened to was the smart board lesson. This podcast was about how smart boards can be incorporated into the classroom, and the different things teachers can do with smart boards. I can actually relate to this podcast because in eighth grade my classroom had a smart board. We all thought it was really cool that our teacher was teaching us using the smart board. We had fun with it in the classroom and it gave us a new, fun way to learn. Of course our smart board was nothing like they are today. Students can now listen to podcasts via the smart board. They are able to stop, rewind, and pause the material as needed. The students also seem to be more engaged in their learning when they get to use this kind of technology.

The second podcast I listened to was Kidcast. In this podcast I learned about ways to keep students active while listening to podcasts. Some of the tips included creating an outline for students to follow, and having some sort of question or quiz at the end of the podcast. I think this is a great idea because if students are only listening to a podcast their minds can wonder away from the information. If they have a reason to stay on task, such as a quiz after, it makes it easier for them to pay attention. I know this would work for me now.

The last podcasts helped me to better understand how to create effective podcasts. Each of the podcasts focused on technology and how to use things such as facebook, blogs, computer applications, etc. in your podcasts. I think that podcasts can be very effective in the classroom. I also believe that if they are conducted in the right ways that the students can gain much needed confidence for the future. It is a good idea to prepare your students with podcasts, making them create some of their own, so in the future it will not be a new topic for them. They will know how podcasts work and what is needed to make them effective.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Podcast Reviews

The first podcast I listened to was Lessons from Life: The Last Lecture of Randy Pausch. I think there are a few things that could have made this lecture better. The information was given very fast. Maybe speaking slower would have made the information come across a little more clear. I know they were probably a bit nervous, but it also sounded as if they did not practice it before hand. Practicing does not mean having to memorize your page word for word, but knowing most of it can help eliminate some of the “uh & um” spots.

The second podcast I listened to was Blogging – Podcast #2 (#1 of Ms. Averitt’s Class). The speakers in this podcast speak very clear and slow. This gave me time to comprehend what was being talked about. I liked how they gave the background information on blogs for people who are not that familiar with them. The only thing I noticed was that it sounded like they were reading the information straight from the paper. I will try to make mine a little more personable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Last Lecture

After watching Randy Pausch's last lecture I was completely speechless. It would have been so hard for me to break down my life the way Randy did, and he did it very well. First he points out the "elephant in the room" which is his illness. He has about 10 tumors in his liver and the doctors gave him 3 - 6 months to live. Randy has an incredibly positive attitude about his situation and is just taking it as it comes. I had many favorite quotes from this lecture and one of them is "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." He is a wonderful teacher and has many skills and practices that can and should be used in every classroom.

Randy's last lecture is broken down into three topics. The first is about his childhood dreams, the second is about enabling the dreams of others, and the third is about lessons learned: how you can achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others. Another of my favorite quotes from his lecture is about the brick walls. It goes a little something like this "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we really want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough." I absolutely love what Randy is saying about the brick walls. I am going to use this quote in my future classroom. I think that it can give that extra bit of motivation when we need it the most. Brick walls let us show our dedication. If you have a dreams you can make it happen. Randy shows how he made his happen and it is possible at some point to reach your dreams too.

His next topic is how to enable the dreams of others. Randy was so happy to have become a professor. He says "What better of a place to enable the dreams of others?" I agree with this 110%! I think that teachers are here to help enable their student's dreams, no matter what those dreams may be. In some cases, a child's teacher may be the only one that actually cares what the child's dream is. Randy told his class who's projects completely blew him away that he knew that they could do better. He never put a bar anywhere for his students to reach, this way they just kept rising. He also states that "The best gift an educator can give is to make a student become self reflective." I will also use the "head fake" in my classroom. He says that the best way to make someone learn something, is to make them think they are learning something else. An example is ALICE. In this program students think they are just playing a game but in reality they are learning to program it. "Have fun while learning something hard!" Teachers also need to learn from their students.

In the lessons learned section he talks about how to get people to help you. He makes some great points such as: you can't get there alone, believe in karma, tell the truth, be earnest, apologize when you screw up, and focus on others not yourself. When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it. Always show gratitude. Be good at something, it makes you valuable. Be prepared: luck is where preparation meets opportunity. By the end of his lecture I was nearly crying, a wave of emotion came over me. Randy's lecture had two head fakes. The lecture was not about how to achieve your dreams, but how to live your life. Also, the lecture was not for the people in the class, it was for his kids. What an amazing teacher, husband, and father!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

International Teacher Blogs

The first blog I found was Mrs. Cassidy's classroom blog. She teaches a class of 6 year olds in Moose Jaw, Canada. The students names are listed on the right side of the page and each student has his or her own blog. She has a list of student entries to keep up with their work. She also included a panel of related links such as Build Your Wild Self, The 100th Day Project, Alphabet Antics, and some links to other teachers blogs. She also posts videos of class activities and school functions. Mrs. Cassidy also posts updates about what the class is doing. Right now they are learning to read and write. Pictured below are two of her students on the 100th Day of School. Some of their activities included writing numbers to 100, reading 100 books, work on a puzzles with 100 pieces, and eat 100 snacks.

This is a picture of Mrs. Cassidy's six year old class. They are celebrating the 100th day of school. Pictured are two children, a boy and girl, wearing 100th day crowns and eating some of their 100 snacks.

The next blog I found was Mrs. Lowe's Area 11 Bloggers. She teaches Area 11 students in Perth, Western Australia. Mrs. Lowe starts the blog by talking about how they will be using the blog. The school recently purchased laptops for the students to share. The students learned how to access the Internet and log in to their blogs. This class also buddies up with younger classes to help each other complete activities. They held class elections and chose class leaders and class secretaries. Pictured below are the new class leaders, Rebecca and James, and the new class secretaries, Mi Li and Jake.

This is a picture of Mrs. Lowe's classroom leaders and secretaries. The leaders are Rebecca and James, and the secretaries are Mi Li and Jake. They are wearing their light blue uniform shirts and standing in front of their bookcase filled with bright, colorful books.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Teacher Blogs

The first blog that I came across was Mr. Kreienkamp's Social Studies Class. This blog was created by Fred Kreienkamp who teaches Social Studies and Reading at Kearney Middle School in Commerce City, Colorado. This blog has a few topics about Native Americans and the Spanish so far. In one of his topics he asks his students to comment about some of their interests, what they would like to do more of in class, and what they would like to learn more about. The students are also very responsive. He also includes links to different history sites for his students to research. Pictured below is Mr. Kreienhamp.

This is a picture of Mr. Kreienkamp, who is a middle school social studies and reading teacher in Colorado.

The next blog I visited was Mr. C's Class Blog. This blog was created by Wm Chamberlain, who teaches 5th grade at Noel Elementary School in Noel, Missouri. His blog is filled with links to other teachers blogs, schools, lessons, education games, etc. He has streaming video of his classroom and his class in the computer lab. He also posts pictures and videos of particular assignments throughout the semester. He also keeps up with a class in Australia through their own blog. The two teachers share assignments with eachother's classes, and the students can communicate with them as well. He also added gadgets to the blog such as class pictures, class calendar, class videos, rss feeds, and much more. Pictured below are students from his class with the contents of a package they received from New Zealand.


Saturday, January 31, 2009


ACCESS stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, & Students Statewide. ACCESS was established to provide high quality classroom courses & teachers, via technology. The vision of ACCESS is that the State of Alabama will provide equal access to high quality instruction to improve student achievement through distance learning opportunities. The main problem that ACCESS encounters is many rural and low-income schools have limited course offerings for students. For example: some schools cannot offer the Advanced Diploma, which is required by state law. Alabama also ranks 14 out of 16 Southern states in AP offerings. Many schools cannot offer courses such as physics, calculus, or trigonometry. There are also many other course needs. The ACCESS objectives are also clearly stated. First to provide access to advanced diploma courses. Second, to provide access to additional course offerings. Third, to provide access to advanced placement or dual enrollment courses. Fourth, to provide access to remediation and supplemental resources. Fifth, to leverage existing resources and distance learning offerings. Finally, to provide teachers with additional multimedia and technology tools to enhance instruction.

Some of the strategies include increasing connectivity to high schools and central offices, upgrade existing IVC labs to H.323 standards, develop blended course model (pilot sites), conduct needs assessments and evaluations, etc. Distance learning means learning experiences in which instructors and students are separated by space and/or time. The modes of delivery are web based and videoconferencing (IVC). The new mode of delivery is blended. This means combining videoconferencing and Internet based instruction. Videoconferencing is an audio/visual link between two or more geographically remote sites. This mode of delivery is taught by a highly qualified Alabama certified teacher. It allows students to take courses not offered at their school. It also allows students to interact with students not from other schools. It also increases student responsibility for learning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plagiarism and Copyrights

To better understand plagiarism I am going to start with its definition. Plagiarism is the representation of another person’s words, ideas, or information as if they were one’s own. The first website I visited was owl.english.purdue.edu. There are actions that can easily be labeled as plagiarism that include buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper, hiring someone to write your paper for you, copying large sections of text, and copying an entire paper or article from the web without proper citation. However, there are also actions that may be harder to label such as using words of a source too closely when paraphrasing or building on someone else’s ideas without proper citation. Some teachers will try to examine if it is plagiarism or if it is accidental. There are other teachers, however, that will not try to distinguish a difference and charge someone with plagiarism. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to always, always, always cite your sources. Most students truly do not intend to plagiarize, it just happens. Mistakes in citation and crediting can draw attention to the information used. This website gives examples of how to check your self while taking notes and reading. It also gives tips on interviewing, writing paraphrases, direct quotations, using another’s ideas, and revising, proofreading, and finalizing your paper.

The next website is http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.shtml
. This website provides links to certain types of plagiarism. The goal of these links is to show you what plagiarism looks like in certain situations and what kind of strategies you can use to avoid it. One example of a link is how to recognize acceptable and unacceptable paraphrases. The next site is abacus.bates.edu. This site goes over the definition of plagiarism, the reasons for citing sources, and what to cite. It goes over proper citations, style guides, two common methods of citation, and judicial procedures. The last site is www.copyright.gov. This site goes over how to register a work for a copyright. It has many different links to explore and learn about copyrights. Some of these links include copyright basics, fees, registrations and documents, publications, licensing, pre-registration, copyright records, how to record a document, and copyright law and policy.

Remember to always give credit where credit is due!

ALEX site

Upon entering the ALEX website there are 8 different screens to choose from and explore. The first is courses of study section which allows you to explore the different fields of teaching and gives descriptions of each field for each grade level. The second is a web links page where people can go to find content standards. In this section there are three taps to choose from; one being for teachers, the next for administrators, and the last for students. The next section is for lesson plans. In this section teachers can search for lesson plans by subject or by author, title, and school. They can also create their own lesson plan using their own personal workspace. The next section is a search engine. Here people can search in general using the ALEX/Thinkfinity tab, or they can narrow their search using a given search category.

The next section is your personal workspace where you can create lesson plans, web pages, or store information. The next section is for profession learning. This section gives links to find professional development opportunities, teaching and learning tools, the latest news, best practices and more. The next section is called distance learning which takes you to the ACCESS site. ACCESS stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide. ACCESS is providing opportunities for students statewide to engage in Advanced Placement (AP), elective, and other courses to which they may not otherwise have access. The last section is called the Help section. It simply tells you how to create and account and gives answers to any questions that you may have.

I think that the ALEX web site is going to play a big part in my classroom. I think that I will use it often. I like how I could search lesson plans by subject or create my own. I also like the idea of having my own personal workspace online to store and create things. The sections directed towards students will also be helpful. I think my favorite part of the whole site is the lesson plan section! I am going to have a lot of fun with this website!