Teaching Functional Formats and Blogging in One Lesson

As I finished writing my last post, I noticed that the way in which I was formatting my post was reminiscent of a newspaper article.  I thought again, why exactly was I automatically formatting my blog post to resemble a newspaper print article?  It’s because of being taught functional reading formats in, what I would guess was around 3rd Grade, stuck with me.  I must have had a really great elementary school teachers.

So what does that have anything to do about teaching Functional Formats and Blogging all together?

What it has to do with is if you are teaching students about Functional Reading Formats, as the Standards of Learning dictate they learn, already, why not make it engaging to the students to allow them all to be on computers (which every student I’ve ever worked with yearns to do).  If you as a teacher is comfortable with basic blog set-up and editing of an online blog then you can use it to teach about what they really need to know which is the Functional Format standard.

In the end, the idea is, teach students to learn concepts and skills using the concepts and skills as tools, rather than as independently learned skills.

Great Way to Teach Sitting Quietly and Listening

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            Great way to teach and poster about who to listen when in school. Other than the obvious eyes, ears, and mouth, they include the heart, hands, body, and feet respectively.  I like this method of teaching where mneumanic devices or memory tricks are taught in order for students to learn different concepts.  If students aren’t taught memory tricks or other methods by which to remember either facts or simply just daily chores, we as teachers are not giving them the education that will most help them in the future.

Final Assignment for the Summer

Here is a quick YouTube video that lets everyone know why I’ve decided to become an elementary school teacher… This is my ED 508 Final Assignment.

Feel free to share it, comment on it (be gentle), or just enjoy it.  I found out not as easy as I thought to do this, but in the end I’m glad I did it.  Big thanks goes out to Jose for helping me with the recording, editing, and really everything about this video!  Thanks a lot.

Phones in Schools, The Responsible Approach

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/07/5-reasons-to-allow-students-to-use-cell.html

In Lisa Nielsen’s blog above a great debate is brought up on whether kids should have cell phones in school.

Agree with Lisa, that it is far less detrimental to allow students to utilize the technology they have available to them, rather than stifling it.

The best quote I got out of the article was one she made from a fellow blogger/tweeter Kevin Honeycutt, “”Students used to pass notes on paper.  We never banned paper.”

Not only have kids been passing notes, but making paper airplanes that disrupt the class, or simply balling up paper and throwing it around the room.  Ultimately it’s highly drastic to eliminate paper because of these distractions, so we teach students to be responsible with it.

Then the argument is made about cheating.  I completely agree that if a test or exam is easy enough for a student to either text a friend, or look up the answer then the test needs to change.  Teacher’s use scantrons for tests because it’s easier to grade and it resembles the standardized test they will take in the future.  Of course with all the ease of multiple choice scantron tests comes the same ease in cheating.  In the end kids don’t need phones to cheat.  Cheating happened well before the digital age and will occur well into it.  Teaching a student early on the value of their own work and the work of others will hopefully teach them why cheating and plagiarism is bad and not just against the rules.

Keeping kids “safe” is no longer a good enough excuse for banning personal technology.  In a world where they will most likely be using cell phones and computers in their daily professional life, they must learn to be responsible with technology not just kept away from it.

There’s a big bad world out there, the job of schools and teachers is to prepare them for it, not shy them away from it.

Reinventing Education Through Video

After watching Salman Khan’s video on Ted.com:

I really got a new perspective on learning and the importance of the “interactive” role of a teacher.

Is this really the most productive role of a teacher in a class?

Is this the most productive time for a teacher?

I would imagine most people would say something like the images below are more appropriate uses of a teacher’s time.

One of the points that Salman Khan makes in the video I agree with wholeheartedly.  The most important part of a teacher’s time is working with a student personally and finding more individualized ways to teach each child.  Instead, in the classic model, a teacher lectures in front of a classroom for a period of time.  In the end a lecture type approach may be the only means by which a teacher can communicate the information to their students.  Though in the flipped classroom model students arrive ready to fill the holes they have left by the questions about that particular lesson or subject matter.  Practice makes perfect but imperfect practice creates bad habits.  The idea of creating videos that explain and demonstrate a concept is so valuable because a student can not only self-pace themselves but also have them to refer to at any time they need a refresher.

Having these video’s also makes parent home involvement that much easier.  When the parent can see exactly how the teacher is teaching a concept it is far easier to assist a child.  Instead, presently a child goes home to tell a parent what they are studying but can’t grasp the concept well enough to explain it to them in the first place.

The value in real useful data on each student’s activities when they return home to practice is extremely beneficial to the teacher.  The strategy of separating students into groups based on their understanding of a concept is used quite often, but to be able to break that down even further by what questions they have the most trouble with and so on make individualized teaching far more effective.

When we optimize the process of initially teaching a concept, and ultimately assessing the understanding of those concepts, we are then left with far more time in the middle of that process which should be dedicated to individualized learning for each student with the teacher.

To Flip or not to Flip, is that really the Flippin’ Question?

The Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con

As far as I can see classrooms today, it is obvious something has to change.  When it comes to that change it starts and ends with the leader of that classroom, the teacher.

I have seen read various pro’s and con’s to using or not using a flipped classroom approach.  Honestly, the issue in my opinion is not to flip or not to flip, it’s to change or not to change.  So many teachers go into the profession to inspire children and spark an interest to learn in them.  Unfortunately, teaching has changed leaps and bounds from that way that any future teacher has been taught.

So many students look up to a teacher and want to be like them or do the same thing.  When that student does become the teacher, simply mimicking that teacher they had is not good enough to becoming an excellent teacher.  By the time any individual has gone from student to teacher, it will undoubtedly have been nearly 20 years since they were the student.  When it comes to education, history shows us that huge changes occur in even just 5-10 year spans let alone 20 years.

The idea of the flipped classroom is not about the simple concept of a flipped classroom, but it becomes more changing as a teacher from what we grew up with as students.  As long as a teacher makes the effort to adapt their teaching, to their students any change is positive.  Many doubters of the flipped classroom claim it makes teaching automated.  Of course, if the teacher simply puts a video up that is doing their job, it has been automated.  I have had plenty of classes where a teacher or professor decides to show the class a film or video clip, is that a flipped classroom?  I’ve had teachers who do nothing be lecture and drone on about a subject in a monotone voice, and a script of information that they have no doubt used for years upon years, is that automated thus being flipped?

I believe that changing classroom structures to solely being flipped or totally not flipped is not beneficial for students.  What benefits students is any display of passion and authentic excitement from a teacher in any means that teacher chooses to display it.  My fondest memories of particular teachers was not the method on which they chose to teach, but how much passion and love for a subject that came out of their creativity in demonstrating the information.

So do we flip or not?  Well, I think it gets answered by the best pragmatic response… It all depends.

PiktoChart

I found out about PiktoChart from a tweet a got from @Edudemic.  They tweet a lot, but there are definitely some good finds if you pay attention.

Piktochart example comparison chart

Click to see Piktochart.com

Piktochart is a great way to visualize pretty much anything.  For a visual learner like me it’s an amazing tool.  The ability to drag and drop with this site makes it super easy to create awesome visuals.  There are many themes and ready-made tools to help anyone make a graphic like the one above.

I think believe this will be a very useful tool for me in visualizing a number of things in my classroom, not to mention it gives me a great idea for a lesson plan/class assignment or project.

21st Century Teaching nuts and bolts

Shelley Wright’s 21st Century Teaching blog post I don’t thing is really talking about 21st century learning/teaching.  I believe it is reexamining learning the way it was done way back in the 16th Century, where knowledge was capped only by a students interest to learn. Like Galileo below…

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I think the real debate I can see here is a teaching being a Guru vs. a Guide to learning.

As a Guru:

  • Students learn what is decided by the teacher what will be taught.

As a Guide:

  • Teacher’s assist students to explore and discover what is most important to learn.

As a Guru:

  • Teacher’s are all knowing, information beyond the teacher’s knowledge isn’t important to know.

As a Guide:

  • Teacher’s (as Shelley Wright described) are co-collaborators learning alongside and giving guidance rather then force feeding information inorganically.

As a Guru:

  • Teacher’s keep learning and assignments into a very rigid box that is easy to interpret and evaluate for the teacher’s sake.

As a Guide:

  • Learning is a process in which discovery information and demonstration of material mastery is up to the student to determine and the teacher to measure appropriately.

Finally…

A Guru asks:

  • What’s the answer, how did you get there and what did you learn?

A Guide asks:

  • Why is that the answer, how else could you come up with that conclusion, and where do you go from here?

As I’ve laid out above, the difference between 21st and 16th Century teaching is mostly the mindset of the teacher and students, with a small sprinkle of technology and worldwide resources available at the click of a mouse.

The hope I have is to be able to apply this teaching technique to children much younger than high school aged kids seen in the article, and not teach kids what to learn, but teach kids how to get excited about discovery.

Billy Madison gif, because it’s a great movie and gifs are fun.

New Kind of Visual

When working on my about me page I liked the idea of visually conveying the most important or interesting things about me.

I used Wordle.net to create a word cloud to make a far more interesting about me page then just listing a bunch of facts.

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For me the words are not the primary focus, and how they look, the way they are positioned, and generally the colors and shapes my words make add to who I am as much as the words do.

My review:

I really like this wordle site, and though I’ve only played with it a little bit, I can see this as a great icebreaker type tool for each student to make during class to help introduce themselves.  Also, wordle can be used as a project enhancer itself, using it for posters or projects that the students have to put together for assignments.  It seems there can be many applications for this site to be used in a classroom setting, and it help merge content with creativity.  Mixing content and creativity seems to always be a difficult thing to do on a regular basis in classrooms, thus making the content lack-luster and boring.  I definitely think I’ll be making use of this site in the future.