Cell Phones as a learning tool? I’m not quite convinced.

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After reading Lisa Nielsen’s post 5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class, I am still not quite convinced. While I understand they can be a great learning tool in every day life, I am not sure they have their place in the classroom quite yet.

Allowing students to use them in the classroom will certainly alienate students who can not afford or are not permitted to have a phone. While I’m sure they already feel left out not having one, having to explain to your teacher or pair up with someone who does have one will really highlight those students and can have a detrimental effect on their self esteem. Students in middle and high school already struggle trying to fit in, an expensive luxury like a cell phone should not be required for classroom activities.

I also think our students are already too plugged in. We know that most of the day they are tied to their cell phones and technology, why not force them to interact with the real world around them for a few hours at school? It’s great that we can look up everything up on our phone, but lets prepare our students for life if the power goes out or if they don’t have internet- gasp! Lets teach them about how useful a library is! Research from books is still a pretty useful skill. We need to remember how to function in the world unplugged.

Finally, reason number three where she says in response to the idea that students might use their phone to cheat, “My response is that tests that are so lacking in rigor that students can look up answers on a phone or get them from another student are lousy and outdated in a world where information is free and easy. ” Seriously? This made me laugh. We have to teach students the basics, and some of that is simply remembering facts. Yes kids can look up a map to see where the states are located, but its a pretty useful skill to understand where they live, or even where we are located in the world. Sure, its easy to look up who our founding fathers were but I’m pretty sure they earned our remembrance of them without the use of a cell phone. Teaching students will inevitably entail asking them questions they can easily find on the internet, that does not make the question any less important.

For these reasons, and I’m sure a bunch more, I’m definitely not sold on allowing students to use their cell phones in class.

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Math can make sense?

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The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. – Albert Einstein

Honestly, I chose this TedTalk because I need to take the College Math Clep and I do NOT like math. I was pretty good in high school, but in real life I haven’t used those skills and I just don’t remember a thing. I figured I’d give “Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover” a shot. All I can say is, I WISH Dan Meyer was my math teacher! He is engaging, related math to real life, and made me laugh. I can say with 100% certainty I have never described a math teach that way until now.

Dan Meyer describes his job as someone who sells a product to people who don’t want to buy it, but are legally mandated to do it. I laughed, because I imagine being a math teacher is like being a dentist- not that many people are excited to see you. He also says that the way we teach math in schools ensures students won’t retain it. However, he seems truly invested in fixing the problems with the way we teach math in this country, and he has a lot of interesting ideas.

He believes that in the US our text books do way too much hand holding and create impatient learners who expect all of the facts and a formula to solve the problem.  In real life, math requires actually figuring out the problem and using active thinking and discussion.  He encourages creating this community for discussion with your students, eliminating the sub-steps, use multimedia, asking the shortest questions possible, and letting the students really drive the problem building and solving. As I continue to hear in all of my education classes, you have to find ways to reach your students.

I think the reason I was unable to hold on to my math skills is that I don’t often come across the problems and formulas in real life. I wasn’t really able to translate what I learned into real math reasoning. Well- I did hold on to my percent off skills- a girl has to know how to figure out the sale price!  But that’s the problem with a lot of math, it was not presented in a way that showed its real life applications. If Dan succeeds, and math is taught this way,  I’d seriously consider going back to take another class. My skills are definitely pretty rusty!

Mind Map

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Above is my “mind map” for my lesson. I will be using a smart board, iPads, and a podcast type video. I’m sure parts of it may change, but this is what I am thinking for now!

Learning RedesignED

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“As teaching and learning transforms, spaces must transform. Learning must be “redesignED” to motivate learners and foster collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Let’s discover ways to redesign space, technology, and pedagogy to promote success in our schools.”- Learning RedesignED

I chose this podcast because I think the way you design the space in your classroom has a HUGE impact on the learning. I was very interested to hear their ideas and what they see is the best way to design classroom space for 12st century learning.

The hosts Jen and Amy explained several changes they or teachers they know have made to their classrooms to promote 21st century learning. Some of the changes they made I thought, “ooh I can totally see that!”, and others I thought they were insane! For example, Jen explained having 24 therapy balls in her classroom and explaining how she may not have been entirely comfortable, but it was how the kids could learn best. The balls were originally bought for her special needs students but she realized why not give all of the kids that opportunity. I can only think of the problem 24 balls rolling around the classroom would cause! Then Amy explained how ottomans changed the entire mood of her library. As 0pposed to reading at the wooden table,  kids were running to read with their belly on the ottoman, feet up, etc. Instead of kids fidgeting they were excited to read. Not many people read sitting at a wooden table at home. Why not create an atmosphere at school where students are comfortable and can do their best learning? The idea that I think would be easiest and most universally acceptable would be moving to tables from desks. Tables are very common in Kindergarten and First grade and promote a collaborative learning atmosphere. I understand the challenges this might present for tests, but for day to day learning I think this creates an ideal atmosphere.

It has been proven that movement helps kids learn. Open spaces make people happy and more creative. The changes they were discussing making to the spaces remind me of how Kindergarten classes are set up. In kindergarten we spend so much time making the space comfortable with different centers etc. to promote learning.I don’t think our students are growing out of their need to move around and feel free, but our schools are treating them that way. We also know that students don’t all learn in the same way, as we make changes to our curriculum to reach different learners (i.e. UDL) I think changing the atmosphere can also help.This podcast excited me for the future. It says a lot about how we as educators are changing our views on what makes a positive learning atmosphere.

Honestly, I am not entirely sold on using podcasts for my professional learning in the future. Having to watch an entire podcast and the silly banter between the hosts seemed unnecessary just to get to the main point. If I didn’t exactly understand what they were talking about I couldn’t easily just re-read what they had said or just skim to the important stuff. My opinion pretty much goes along with why I chose twitter- I prefer quick information. Podcasts seem dragged out and like listening to a conversation I can’t take part in. Maybe I need hosts I can relate more with, but for now I would say I’m not into podcasts. I would prefer the written transcript.

The Flipped Classroom

 

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The Flipped Classroom an Infographic Explanation

When looking at the list of blogs to explore regarding flipped classrooms, I was drawn instantly to the word “infographic”. Despite hearing about flipped classrooms numerous times, I wouldn’t say I was completely comfortable with the concept. After heading over to Peter Pappas‘ blog I feel like I finally understand what it means and why so many educators are being drawn to this model. The visuals he created to explain the idea, what’s driving it, and what it looks like, got me excited about the idea. I was particularly interested in the impact that flipped classrooms had on failure rates and discipline problems. These are facts I would be interested in exploring deeper.

Now that I better understand this model, I feel comfortable saying I would support classroom flipping at the high school level. I think at this age students should expected to be responsible enough to take this important role in their education. In addition, I think sending high school students home with homework dealing with the application of concepts learned in class presents the challenge that parents may not even be able to assist. Lets be honest, I have seen the work I did in high school science or math, and I would not even remember where to start. Sending students home to complete homework on these topics can just leave them frustrated without anyone to guide them. Students who struggle at home with concepts may have already written off the lesson by the time they get back to class. These struggles can lead to children who turn their back on an entire subject because they just “cant”.  You can give your students a better chance of success and positive feelings towards learning if you can stop and assist them before they hit that “wall” with a subject. I think any younger than high school, this would not be as necessary or successful.

Flipping a classroom is definitely something that must be a community decision. The success of this idea requires parents, students, administrators, and teachers to fully support this process. Teachers have to be comfortable with the idea of giving up their traditional role and becoming a collaborator in the learning process.

I highly recommend his infophraphic explanation for anyone else confused by the idea of Flipping your Classroom!

We Are Teachers

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One resource I found using Twitter is We are Teachers. We are Teachers is an online community based in Austin, TX specifically for teachers. It has a great website will lessons, hot topics in education, educational blogs (surprisingly mine isn’t up there yet), interviews with leading experts in the field, even professional development. Their website is a an invaluable source of information and I am certain I will be using it in the future!

The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching

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The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching blog was an inspiring look into the excitement and uneasiness that comes from moving from a teacher directed teaching method to a collaborative one.Shelley Wright’s honesty and in-the-moment blogging gave unique glimpses into her thought process as the project moved from one step to the next.

A few moments in the article I really stopped and thought about what she was saying and the implications it had on the current teaching model and the one I hope to develop.

“Instead, by grade 10, my students have learned that if they wait long enough, they will be rescued. Not anymore.”

When the author said this I really thought about how many teachers current model of teaching does not entirely inspire students to really think something all the way through. In preparing students for real world experiences we need to encourage them to think independently. As a teacher it is so tempting to “rescue” our students to move the lesson forward. However, in doing so we are only hurting our student’s ability to really think for themselves and solve problems.

“I find that when my students struggle, I struggle as a teacher too, but differently. At times I’m not sure how to facilitate their learning. If I do it for them, they won’t develop the skill. It’s difficult to know how much to let them flail. I find my role, at this point, is to facilitate conversations they don’t know how to have. As I often do in this scenario, I turned to my personal learning network. I blogged about it.”

Great insight into the struggles of being a teacher and the solace she finds in hearing from her fellow bloggers. Maybe I can really use this blog to help me in my teaching career?! I guess I’m starting to see Professor Knight’s point. 🙂

“Then we got stuck. Researching was the easy part, knowing what to do with it is much more difficult.”

This was a very eye-opening problem for me. The current model of teaching really does not teach students the next step.  I can think of dozens of research projects I did during my education- but very few times I had to turn it into an actual product. And when a product was the next step, we were always given instructions on how to do so. If we want to teach our students real world skills, this is a great place to start. Putting their creativity to use your students could even take your lesson in an exciting direction you didn’t even imagine.  Giving your students this (guided) freedom can excite and interest learners who would otherwise not be as invested.

“Today was one of those days, when the excitement in my students is so palpable that I can’t believe I get paid to do this…I’m a co-learner with my students. It doesn’t get much better than this: Collaborating. Communicating. Connecting.”

I absolutely loved her excitement for this project by the end of her blog. The author really took the reader along for the ride. I felt invested in her project and I was so excited for her when she really felt she had succeeded. This blog really got me excited about integrating projects like this into my lessons. It is a great opportunity to engage and interest the students-and even yourself. There is little room for a “stale” lesson when it is modeled like this. When the children are at the wheel of the lesson- you never know what exciting places they will take you!

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My Journey into the Twittersphere

I have chosen twitter-now-valued-at-7-billion-report--26da93b8c5 as my Social Learning Site this semester. I chose twitter due to its concise format for quick information. I appreciate the 140 character limit because it doesn’t require sifting through a lot of information to get to the point. I have followed some educators, educational organizations, and I look forward to finding more valuable resources for curriculum and content ideas and information. Click on the photo below to follow me!

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