Latest Entries »

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

                                  Image

Get a bog? Me? Ha! Get out of here. That’s not for me. 

These were my thoughts months ago. I’ve never been so wrong. 

The Blogger Within

Wether we know it or not, everyone is a blogger deep down. This is because everyone has something to say. I used to be resilient to blogging because I thought my ideas would go unnoticed and I would never see an actually following. Now a frequent blogger, I feel free. I have a space to dialogue and to create conversation about things I am personally invested in. I plan on continuing blogging for as long as possible, constantly challenging those who follow me with new opinions and ideas not only just about education, technology, and literacy, but about being members of society. Through blogging, we can make our voice heard. We can make a difference. But it doesn’t stop at just being a blog author, but also a reader. So many other people out there are saying amazing things, and by following more and more bloggers, you can be invited into their hearts and minds and discover new ways of seeing the world.  

 

Don’t Forget the Little Guy!

Ever since its creation, I have been an avid Tweeter. However, I never really saw its potential for greatness. To me, it was just another platform for teenagers to bully, for girls to complain, and guys to brag. I can’t even say how many times I’ve read tweets that just state what the person ate for lunch that day. Once I tapped into a more professional domain, new doors opened. With Tweet Chats, you can become part of the conversation about real life issues and actually get feedback on your thoughts and concerns. Micro-blogging has served to be more useful than real blogging and times because of its rapid speed and vastness. In just a short few months, I have a strong following, filled with respected educators and bloggers. 

Possibilities

Not only have I discovered a lot about myself through blogging and micro-blogging, but I have drawn conclusions as well. By implementing blogging and micro-blogging into my future classroom, I can establish learning networks among my students on a authentic level, as they learn how to become stronger readers and writers through the conventions of blogging. We can learn and grow together, in a mode that students enjoy. 

Image

Additional Thoughts

For too long I have resisted the world of blogging, and have missed out. Over the course of the past few months I have learned that I am not alone in my thoughts. There is a whole community out there waiting to hear me, and waiting for me to hear them as well. I have missed out on far too many important conversations in digital form. As a dreamer and believer, I personally enjoy blogging and micro-blogging and the potentials for change and progress they contain. What a terrible world we would live in if no one shared ideas. Now I have the means to do so, and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Through blogging I have become a better reading and writer of the world, and have established some life-changing relationships that could help me develop professionally. 

Just as established blogger Will Richardson said on blogging, “Its connected me to people all over the world, people with whom I share a deep passion for education and technology and the potentials that go with them.” 

And thats a truly beautiful thing. 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Rubric: Ruby or Rock?

An Introduction To Rubrics:

From Rock to Ruby:   Image

For many, the rubric is the answer. It helps eliminate discrimination, it makes assessing easy, and it justifies grades. Seems like the best solution when it comes time to grade papers and projects, right? It depends on how well the rubric is developed. By being thoughtful and carefully designing your assignment’s rubric, you can allow your students to have a better chance at success.

According to a blog on freetech4teachers.com, here are

5 Ways to Blow the Top Off Rubrics:

1. Change the definition of what an “A” is to : “A project that in some way redefines the teachers definition of excellence.”

2. Eliminate the use of “exemplary.”

3. Avoid having too many rules and extraneous limits in your rubric.

4. Use language that supports taking creative risks.

5. Allow room for mistakes and errors in excellent work, especially where new tools and technologies are concerned.

Creating Space:

To foster excellence out of your students, you need to create space for them to do so. You want students to be risk-takers. Daring. Not afraid of making mistakes. This can be accomplished if your rubric allows it. By purposely selecting language in your rubric that encourages creativity, students can rise to the occasion and produce outstanding pieces of work. A rubric should not punish students for thinking outside of the box and incorporating technology that is relevant to the assignment, but rather praise them.

Image

For those who do not know, Rubistar is a fantastic website that allows you to create your own rubrics.

 

To take a rubric from a rock to a ruby, you yourself have to be just as daring as you want your students to be!

“Creativity is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity.”  – Sir Ken Robinson

Image

Creativity

Creativity is the process of having original ideas that are of value. It is what drives progress. Without creative minds, society would never advance, and life would never be made easier. The ability to create is an important skill as it allows people to introduce new and revolutionary ideas and concepts to the world.

Education

Where is creativity present in education? Why are educators not trying to foster creative minds? Sir Ken Robinson believes, “all children are born artists, but they grow out of creativity.” Actually, he corrects himself, they are “educated out of it.” He states that public education is a hierarchy that follows this order:

  1. Mathematics and Language
  2. Humanities
  3. Arts
    • Art & Music
    • Drama & Dance

Image

Coexist

Why is there more of an emphasis on mathematics than there is dance? Public education was introduced to prepare society for the Industrial Revolution. We are now currently about to enter an entirely new revolution as technology continues to progress. We need to change what the focus is in education to fit the world around us. The world is demanding creative people. People who can imagine and create a better world for everyone, and education must reflect this.

Image

As educators, we want to implement fun and engaging activities in our classroom. We wish to spark creativity in our students, break down barriers and visit new worlds of education. This can only be done if we are risk-takers. Assigning culminating projects such as public service announcements, mini-moives, and even radio shows could potentially be the type of activities students need. But what about the skills? What about the discipline? What about the Regents!?

Relevance in Radio Shows

Image

When approaching designing a project for students, we must be conscious of the Regents because, of course, we want to best prepare our students to excel. Obviously, assigning hands-on, fun, multimodal projects to students is ideal, however, they must pertain to the skills needed to tackle a Regents exam. A radio show can do just that. Here is how:

  1. Meaning
  2. Development
  3. Organization
  4. Language Use
  5. Conventions

While collaboratively working on this task, students will learn how to show understanding of the task at hand, write for specific audiences, establish a thematic unity throughout the duration of the show, develop cohesive ideas as the show progresses, organize the show in a structured manner that would make sense to listen to, decide on a tone, and select specific syntax and diction.

This RUBRIC beautifully incorporates Regents-based skills with the techniques needed to produce a radio show.

Image

So the answer is a definitive yes, if constructed correctly, radio shows can be relevant in Regents-focused classrooms.

Just because the radio show isn’t an essay or written assignment, it doesn’t mean students won’t be writing or learning how to write. In order to have even have a radio show, students will have to talk, and to have a strong, fluent, cohesive, and thematic show that they will be proud of, they will most likely write a script. This is an excellent example of hiding the peas in the macaroni, or the skills in the fun!

Don’t Touch That Dial!

Image

 

Question of the day:

How do you get students to learn the skills associated with the English Language Arts, how to collaborate, produce via a digital medium, remain relevant, authentic and still be fun and engaging?

Answer: Radio shows!

Recently, I discovered I would be working on a group radio show project. The assignment was extremely open ended and allowed for creativity. As an avid user of applications such as Garageband and even the more advanced Logic Studio, I was completely in my element. I am even guilty of owning my own microphone complete with a pop filter/ spit guard attached. 

 

My Group

Image

I was exceptionally lucky to be paired with two fantastic and enthusiastic young ladies. We quickly got to work and immediately clicked. It didn’t take long before we had the idea to base the show around what we knew best as a group: SUNY Cortland. With a solid concept in place, all we had to do was write a loose script that would enable casually natural conversation. 

 

RecordingEditing, And All That In Between 

Image

 

 

As I began to develop skills within Garageband I decided Freshman year of college to graduate to the next step – Logic Studio. Now an experienced user for three years, I had no problem hosting recording sessions at my house. My partners were tremendously flexible with recording times, location, and ideas. The best part was that everyone brought something special and helpful to the radio show. Recording, which to some groups become frustrating rapidly, was rather enjoyable for us. We laughed during takes and in between. We bounced ideas off each other. We ripped on each other’s “radio” voices. Just like that we had an irreplaceable bond all through this assignment. 

The Final Product

Our final product ended up meeting all the requirements with ease. As a group we were fortunate enough to face no real obstacles with this process. I had no trouble editing together a final piece that I am proud of. 

As stated in the opening question, this assignment incorporated a myriad of things to be learned. It was truly engaging and hands on, yet required careful planning and precise communication skills amongst group members. 

The final product was posted on SoundCloud as an open publication. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that. As you listen, remember, don’t touch that dial! 

True Life: I am a Cortland Student Radio Show

Special thanks to my wonderful group members Ella Gonzalez and Nicole Guerra! 

Image

 

Superstorm Sandy hits the east coast leaving a path of destruction. What good could possibly come from this? Learning, of course! 

According to “Schools Shift From Textbooks to Tablets,” Discovery, “a top digital content provider in the U.S.” updated its lessons to include the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy immediately after it made landfall. This allowed students to “trace the path of the storm using digital maps, compare the changes in barometric pressure with wind speed and propose cleanup plans for the region.” Through the use of tablets, not only did science become alive, it became relevant. 

With everything in education, there are pros and cons. 

 

Image

Pros of Tablets:

  1. Sustain student’s interest
  2. Reward achievement
  3. Keep “per-student” costs down

Cons:

  1. Distractions
  2. Focus on bells and whistles, not education 
  3. Teachers don’t know how to use them

Verdict:

On paper it appears that using tablets in the classroom can be a win-lose situation. We must look beyond these pros and cons and look into the hearts of our students. Tablets make education real. They strengthen authenticity, allow students to dive into inquiry, and explore the world around them, while still developing skills within disciplines. If a tragic natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy can be transformed into an extensive and engaging learning experience across disciplines, then that is a win for education. 

Through tablets, instruction can literally jump off the page and come alive. 

Who Are We Teaching?

“A Vision of Students Today” is an incredible video that addresses the issue of identity of students we are teaching in contemporary classrooms. Of course as culture shifts and technology advances, so do those who help create the change. This means that students today have developed into much different beings that populate classrooms than ever before. 

So… Who Exactly Are We Teaching?

The video centers around college students, but doesn’t mean the same attributes don’t apply to students of younger levels of education.

Some characteristics of modern students that the video covers includes:

  • students are collaborative
  • complete only 49% of the readings assigned to them 
  • will read an average of 8 books this year
      • but will read 2,300 web pages 
      • and 1281 Facebook pages
  • will write 42 pages for class this semester 
      • but will write over 500 pages of e-mail 

 

Multi-taskers

Students in the video share what types of activities they do daily and for how long. This includes:

  • listening to music: 2.5 hours
  • sleep: 7 hours
  • online: 3.5 hours
  • eating: 2 hours
  • working: 2 hours
  • on cell phone: 2 hours
  • in class: 3 hours (remember, these are college students!)
  • studying: 3 hours
  • watching television: 1.5 hours

If you do the math, you’ll notice that these hours add up to a total that surpasses the hours in a single day. Clearly, students are a generation of multi-taskers. 

Who Do We Become?

Because students, the ones we are teaching, have changed, so do we, and how we go about approaching them. Why assign them readings that are not even relevant to their lives? Most of your students will have jobs that don’t even exist while you teach them. The world has changed, our students have completely transformed, yet most of our pedagogies have remained the same. The time is now for educators to see who they really are teaching and adapt. 

 

Image

One major problem with rapid advancements in technology is the fact that teachers just can’t keep up. They are often too busy with family lives, grading, lesson planning, and juggling other activities to be able to check out the latest tools that could potentially help their classroom. 

We must establish a helpful community of teachers who share brilliant discoveries of technologies so that other teachers can benefit. 

Here is what I have discovered so far: 

  1. Study Blue 
    1. A helpful app for smartphones that “allow students to organize their coursework, store notes and flashcards, and share their materials with other students.” (Innovation Excellence

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq0UlIJYPFw&feature=player_embedded

2. Papertab

Image

(Source)

Although this technology is still only currently in development, it will have a strong impact on the way we approach written assignments in the classroom! 

http://mashable.com/2013/01/07/papertab/

3. Kidblog

This is a very simple, friendly, and easy to use blog website aimed for younger kids. This would be an excellent way to start fostering skills included in blogging for young students, while allowing them to publish their work and develop their voice in an authentic manner.

http://kidblog.org/home/

 

It is our duty to share our discoveries of these limitless possibilities to our colleagues, while also learning from them in return. There are so many great ideas out there, it is impossible to know of all of them, or to discover them all on your own. Share and spread awareness of these fantastic educational advancements! 

 

iVocab

My Discovery:

I recently downloaded a vocabulary application on my ipad mini that I believe would be an excellent addition in an English classroom. It is called “Vocabulary HD – Free” and like the title suggests, was free. Now, there are plenty of applications available for tablets for educational purposes, but after playing around with “Vocabulary,” I myself was sold!

The Scoop:

The game contains five different levels of vocabulary ranging from “novice to expert.” To get a feel for the application, I chose novice. The screen provides you with a large, bold word on the top of the page with its respected part of speech underneath. Once you believe you have a working definition of the word, you simply tap the screen and a concrete definition is revealed. In addition:

      • Synonyms
      • Usage
      • Pronunciation 

Image

Once you are finished familiarizing yourself with the word, all you have to do is slide your finger across the screen and a new word appears!

 

Downside:

I enjoyed most of the features, the design of the application and its overall effectiveness. It truly is a fast, friendly, fun way of absorbing vocabulary besides reading out of a dictionary. However, I was disappointed in the application’s quizzing aspect as it doesn’t differ from the normal “game” play at all! 

I look forward to searching for, testing, and evaluating other vocabulary applications available and hopefully discovering the one with the most potential! 

 

Click here to discover the application yourself. 

I have always thought that I should come first. That is what school taught me. Look out for yourselves. Study hard, don’t let others copy your work, sit in rows, and don’t speak. After doing some research and reading, I have come to realize that this is all wrong, especially with the advancements in technology.
We are now in a day and age, where if you want to make it, you must have collaboration skills. Just a degree isn’t enough anymore. Due to the way our culture and economy are shaping, working together is now embraced.
This brings joy to me. I have longed for this change to come, and I basically have the Internet to thank for that. I am a firm believer in collaboration and teamwork, I feel that the greatest of feats can be accomplished this way.