Cell Phones in School????

When I first read the title of this article I was like “what cell phones in school? How are students going to focus on school if they are going to be able to use their cell phones in class?”  After reading this article I can see why using cell phones in the classroom can be useful.  As the article says, a lot of times schools say they don’t have the money to use technology in the classroom, well now that students have smartphones they can just use that instead of bringing a computer which may be at least 10 years old and super slow.  Also, smartphones are around now, and students are going to use them outside of the classroom, so why not teach them how to properly use them? Plus, students constantly see teachers and administrators with cell phones and other such technology, so why can’t students use them?

The Purpose of School

This opening line really caught my attention when I watched the TED talk Education is Broken, what teacher would say high school stinks?  After watching it I was amazed.  In High School I was never very good at, or lets face it very interested in,  math and science.  I never saw any relevance in it for me.  I knew I wanted to be an Elementary School teacher so why would I ever need to know High School math and science? I got my basic math and science done in my Elementary years.  Teachers never did tell me why I would ever need this information other than it is something that would be on the test and possibly the SOL.  Well I studied it because I had to but I still never saw the relevance to my life.

The reason I love this video so much is because Chris Lehmann explains why these subjects are relevant.  He makes connections between the subjects like I never really saw before, saying that school really isn’t so boring and awful if students can see how this knowledge connects to them, how will it help them.  Education is all about critical thinking, it should open your eyes to new experiences.  He also talks about how school should matter. The purpose of school is to learn how to live.  It should be learning about who you are, teaching them to be citizens.  We should not teach students to be workers but citizens.

I thought this idea was wonderful because if a teacher had done this for me when I was in High School I think I would have done better, been more interested.  As teachers it is our job to help our students make these connections. A student should not feel like what they are studying is pointless and has no meaning to them. The answer to “why am I learning this” should never be “because it will be on the test” or “because it will be on the SOL” or “because I have to teach this to you.  Instead schools should  focus on the interests of the students and then go from there.  I understand that this may make things a little more difficult for the educational system, but maybe that is good if it will make our students learn better.

Podcast Response: BrainPop

I think I would definitely use podcasts for professional learning in the future.  After reading the article Enhanced Podcasts I thought it was really interesting the different ways that podcasts can be used in the classroom, across all disciplines. I really liked the idea of being able to create one and then e-mail it to parents as a sort of weekly newsletter and including student narration.

I watched the podcast EdGamer 104: Special Hangout with BrainPOP at ISTE 2013.  This was a really interesting podcast for me to watch because I have used BrainPOP before to find lesson ideas and things but didn’t know that much about it.  This podcast really walked you through what there is on the site.  I also found it interesting that BrainPOP is not just for elementary school students but it is can be used all the way through high school.  The main difference is BrainPOP vs BrainPOP Jr.  BrainPOP Jr is for K-3 students while BrainPOP is for students 4-12.

On both BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr there are a lot of cool educational games that can be found as well as videos and information.  The best part is that the BrainPOP educator section is free, so us teachers can have access to a lot of cool lesson ideas and things without having to pay to access them.  This site is linked to the Common Core standards as well as each individual state standards, including Canada.  When you get to the BrianPOP educator page you can search by standard, subject, as well as grade that way you will be sure to find content appropriate for whatever level you teach.

I also learned that on BrainPOP educator there are quizzes about many different topics, some of them teacher created.  Also, if you find a quiz but realize that it maybe has a question or two on there that you don’t want, you can edit it and only show the content that you want it to.  This way the students can take the quiz and you don’t have to worry about there being questions on there you don’t like.  On BrainPOP educator you can also create your own quizzes and share them with other people who access the site.  So it becomes almost like a social networking tool where you can create and share these different ideas with people.

On the educators page there is also a training section so if you are ever unsure of how to use BrainPOP best in the classroom this will help you.  After watching this podcast I went and explored the educators page a little further and found curriculum guides, lesson plan ideas, and a lot of other things.  There are videos, quizzes, lessons, games, and more on both of these sites.  I think they are both ones that I would like to use in my classroom in the future.

Flipped Classroom

I read the article To Flip or Not to Flip by Stacey Roshan and published by edudemic.  I thought this was a very interesting article and I really liked how she outlined the reasons why she flipped and why she finds it so useful.  I think they idea of spending less class time teaching the material and instead spending the time doing what homework they would have for that night is really great.  It gives the teacher a better idea of what the students don’t get, and it gives the students the excellent resource that is their teacher during the time they are doing this activity this way if they don’t get it the teacher can help them.  I mean why have the students sit in class and be bored listening to a lecture when they can be getting the help that they really need actually working through the material, that is what is going to demonstrate their knowledge of it anyways.

I would also think that this might help with classroom management because the students get to work in groups to help figure out the problems.  This way they still get to talk and socialize with each other, but it gets to be about academics.  How is that a bad thing?  The article also stated that an increase in test scores was seen.  So if the students are learning better this way and the test scores are proving it then why not at least give it a try?  It does sound like it would be more work for the teacher but it sounds to me at least like it might be worth it, at least to give it a try.

I remember frequently going home and getting started on my homework, only to realize I had either forgotten all that the teacher had said during class or I really didn’t get it as well as I thought I did.  In some cases I would call a friend and hope that they understood it better than me but that wasn’t always the case.  This model would eliminate that problem.  Instead of having to go home and get stressed and frustrated because they have no clue how to get the work done, they can have the teacher be right there helping them to better understand it.

The only problem I see with a flipped classroom is that in some areas the students don’t have the technology at home to listen to the lectures.  In cases like this the teacher would have to be sure to know their students and the demographics of their classroom.  If a student does not have access to a computer at home, then there needs to be some kind of alternative for that student.  Also, students could have the same luck as me, that their computer breaks periodically, making it so they no longer have the access to the technology needed.  As a solution, I think that there always needs to be some sort of alternative to watching these lectures but you never know when technology can fail on you.

In the end, despite the technology issues, I think this is an idea that is at least worth giving a try.

Classroom Organization Ideas Found on Pintrest

While exploring Pintrest I have found a lot of really cool classroom ideas, from lesson plans to ideas of how to organize and manage your classroom.  I think one of my favorite things that I have found though is a teacher’s class website about how to organize your classroom.  This is something very important to me because I know one of the first steps toward having a well managed classroom is having a well organized one and knowing where everything is.  This cuts back on time for me having to search for things and makes it so there is more time for learning and having fun during the day.  This site is cool because like it talks about, it is very well organized.  Everything is in folders with clearly labeled names.  This makes accessing the information so much easier.  The website has a list of materials you will need to get started as well as step by step instructions as to what to do.  For someone like me who needs to be well organized in order to function or find anything this website is like my dream!  I know that in the future if I don’t have folders and bins and things for students to turn in their work too then everything will get completely disorganized.  The site even includes how to get your own desk organized.  The site also includes pictures to help make things clearer and to show you what everything should look like.  I would highly recommend everyone looking at this site when they are getting ready to set up and organize their own classroom. I really believe that a well organized classroom is a well managed classroom!

Wordle

I decided that I wanted to play around with Wordle.  I went to the website and viewed a few different Wordles and then decided to create my own.  It asked me to paste a bunch of text in there and so I had to decided what I was going to use and what I wanted to make my wordle about.  Knowing we had to make and about me page for this class I figured I would make one about me.  So I went through the process and wrote down a few words that I thought described me and then created my wordle.  I thought it was pretty neat but wanted to see some other options of what it could look like.  I clicked on the randomize button a few times checking out the different options I could use. In the end I accidentally ended up closing my wordle and then when I went back to create a new one was unable.  While I was not able to create a new one I thought this was a very interesting site and a interesting resource that I could use in my classroom.  I think this would be a cool thing for students to make at the beginning of the year to introduce themselves to each other as well as to me.  It could also be used to help enhance a project the kids are working on in any subject.  A teacher could create a different world for different parts of speech, for example a wordle just using verbs, or prepositions.  This could help remind students what these types of speech look like and examples of them.  In general I think this would be a fun and creative tool to use in my classroom!