Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Almost Wish School Would Start Soon

Wow, what an amazing week I just had!! At the beginning of the week, I was a little nervous to be the student again. However, as soon as I started to meet my classmates, I realized it was going to not only be a great week but a great two years. Not only will I learn a lot from my classes, but I will and already have learned so much from my classmates. Here is my concern. School is still two months away. Will I lose all the great knowledge I have gained from this great week? I almost wish school started next week so I can take my enthusiasm and determination to make my classroom more student-centric and apply it in my classroom. I am just afraid I will slip back to my old ways. So to remember my ideas and my excitement, I thought I would get some of the ideas written down so I can just refer back to my blog!!

Here are some of the ideas I have:
1. Using Wikispaces or Wetpaint, focus on concepts by the students collaborating on what they find through research on a wiki.

2. To begin each unit, create a Readings, Writings, Listenings, and Doings (RWLD) (click to see examples from the final projects of our EIT class) to get the students thinking about what they have are about to learn.

3. Using a video conferencing tool such as Skype, talk to professionals in different careers so the students can discuss with him/her about their career.

4. Have the students create a Google account so they can use iGoogle and have them start creating their own Personal Learning Network.

5. During class projects, make sure all students are involved by using Google Docs.
6. Using collaboration tools such as VoiceThread, have business professionals comment on students' business projects to get a real-life perspective on what they did.

7. Get my classroom involved with the Flat Classroom initiative so my "small town" students become more global and aware of what life is like outside of our town as well as state and/or country.

Hopefully these ideas are just the beginning of helping to make my classroom more student-centric. I greatly look forward to what else is in store for this master's course. If anybody else has any thoughts on how to make these ideas better or any other ideas you have, I would greatly appreciate it.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Know I am Not that Old but this "Old Dog" is Not Liking New Tricks

So today we had the opportunity to use iMovie 9 for our Final Project in Emerging Instructional Technologies. Okay, it is no secret that I am a PC person. I did use Apple's growing up in high school but when I arrived at the great University of Northern Iowa as a freshman, the closet computer lab was full of Dell computers. I quickly learned how easy it was to do my assignments on the Dells, which being a business education major was a good thing. So I was greatly delighted that when I got my teaching position, my room was full of PC's!! I quickly learned all the great applications that PC's has to offer for the classroom and went to town on using these in my classroom.

So today when I was working on iMovie, at times I got a little frustrated. The two and a half hours it took me to complete my iMovie, I know would have only taken me an hour on MovieMaker. And then I started to think about my students. Everyday I ask them to do something new whether it be to learn a new subject, a new technology tool, or work with someone that they would never have worked with. Do they get frustrated at me at times? Yes. Do I ask them to have an open mind? Yes. So even though it pains me to say this, I need to have an open mind when using Apples. Thankfully, Chelsey found some great tools on how to use iMovie on her blog post, Mac=Frustrating. At least I am not the only one that feels this way!!

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is Friday!! Looking forward to everyone's final project!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Promise I Will Change My Ways--Just Don't Put Me Behind Bars

Yes, I have to admit the copyright discussion we had today really opened my eyes to how my school needs to work on following the copyright laws. I am sure some of it is that we need to be refreshed on some of the laws. However, I hate to admit that another reason is that we look the other way to try to save costs. We need to change this so we become better role models for our students and to make sure they at least understand the consequences of using someone's work illegally.

But, I have always had a hard time understanding laws because of all the grey areas involved. (My accounting mind of debits=credits has a hard time with the "but if".) So I thought I would do a little research to see if there was something that helped simplify the copyright laws. Here are a few resources I found.

What is Creative Commons? - the video Dr. Zeitz shared with us that does a nice job explaining what creative commons is.
A Shared Culture - another video about creative commons that explains why it was created.

Drawing that Explains Copyright Law - an article where the author writes about explaining copyright laws to a child.
A Teacher's Guide to Fair Use and Copyright - a website that takes the content of copyright laws and puts them in an educational setting (I especially liked The Fair Use Chart).
Copyrights and Copying Wrongs - a series of articles done by that gives decent explanations about the guidelines of the copyright laws.

Well these are just a few resources I found on the web. If you have any others, please let me know. I would like to discuss this with our media speciliast to see what her thoughts about copyrighting are and how we can teach to do what is right in our school to our teachers and students. Any information will be beneficial!!! And yes, I found my picture on flickr from the creative commons area!!! =-)

Google Docs..Where have You Been All My Life??

What an exciting week it has been at Emerging Instructional Technologies!! We have an phenomenal class who has been wonderful to get to know and learn from!! I can't wait to see what the next two years has to bring. Maybe when we are done with class at UNI, we will have to create our own Second Life island to "keep our groove going" (especially for Bill and Sara =-)!!!) I enjoyed learning about Second Life and seeing what you can find there. It is a whole another world where it seems that through your avatar, you can truly have new experiences. (It is kind of ironic that as I type this, my husband seems to be experiencing a "second life" of his own as his avatar "Iowa State Football Team" destroys all the teams that have left the Big 12 on NCAA 2010. Here is a recent article about that situation.) Now how to incorporate this into the classroom? I might have to take some time looking at Sara's suggestions on her blog.

Now to why I have been waiting for Google Docs all my life. Well maybe just the last 6 years of my teaching career. I like to do a lot of group work in my class. However, I do not like it when we do group work when one student works on the computer and the other members sit around and watch. Why don't I like this? Well, for one, there are students sitting there not doing anything. The other is that the person on the computer is probably doing his/her idea and then the collaborative work is gone. With Google Docs, everyone can have an input and be working on the same document AT THE SAME TIME!! Everyone can record their ideas and then the group can collaborate on what looks good and what needs to be changed. I can't wait to incorporate this into my classroom next year!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

How Far Can My Mind Be Stretched?

Wow what a great day in Emerging Instructional Technologies. Even though I felt my mind being stretched in many different directions, it was a good stretch. Between twittering on Twitter, creating a PLN on iGoogle, creating a social bookmarking website on diigo, and best of all, skyping with FlatClassroom teacher, Vicki Davis, I drove home my mind a little exhausted.

Once I got home, I enjoyed a nice meal of maple smoked ribs with my husband, did some ironing, and baked cookies for the potlock tomorrow. =-) Then I sat down to look at the RWLD for tomorrow. I started out creating my punk rocker avatar, Stacy Biscuit, on SecondLife. Then I started to explore as well as watch the videos Prof. Zeitz posted for us to watch. My avatar would walk along as I tried to keep her on the path in the Welcome Community. I do believe she may already have a few concussions from our first flying lessons when I would drop her accidently from the sky. (Hit the page down button. You have more control of the descent.) Yeah, I would have to admit that this brain was just about stretched to its capacities of all the possibilities available to us and our students. But as I try to remember before I start to exercise, you first have to stretch before you go the distance.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Are TV's Becoming Obsolete for the Classroom?

I was at our school board meeting the other night. One of the agenda items they discussed was getting TV bids for the classrooms in our new elementary. One of the board members inquired about presenters but it seemed that the decision had been made to get televisions for all the classrooms instead of presenters. Maybe it was a cost issue or maybe it was a decision by the teachers. But it made me wonder: are we getting behind the times with buying televisions? Will most teachers be asking for a presenter in a couple of years? It made me also think about the last time I used a television. When I started teaching 6 years ago, I hooked up a document camera to a television to show documents. My second year I got a presenter that was hooked up to my computer, document camera, and VCR/DVD. It was so much easier to flip between all the different tools and it gave me more opportunities in my classroom.

So I was wondering how many of you still use a television in your classroom? If you do use a television, how many would prefer to use a presenter?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thoughts from the Lawn Mower

Anybody do their best thinking as they are mowing their lawn? It is just you, the lawn,the lawnmower, and hopefully a big blue sky like today. No distractions!! Sometimes, I think if I kept going, I could almost solve most of the world's problems. But today as I sat on my lawnmower for my 2 hour think session, my thoughts kept going back to Chapters 4 and 5 that I just read in our Disrupting Class book. These chapters helped me to see what a student-centric classroom would look like and how it will be accomplished.

The student-centric classroom does sound interesting and as Gabe comments about his blog, a little like entering "The Twilight Zone". However, it concerns me a little bit. As a business teacher, I take great pride in attempting to teach the students how to be financially savvy. We always have great discussions, especially in the economic times that we are encountering today. In the student-centric classroom, where the book says on page 101:

"teachers will always remain in schools, increasingly functioning as one-on-one tutors rather than teaching monolithically and computer-based and student-centric learning will enable a teacher to oversee the work of more students"

I can take a deep breath to know I will still have a job and I do think technology can be a great asset to our classroom. However, if students are working on their own as they work according to their needs with a certain type of software, will we lose the group discussions where students get a chance to express their opinion in front of others as well as help others in the class understand the information better? Call me a little old fashioned, but I do think students still need to have the opportunity to learn to talk and express their ideas in front of an audience and not just texting them on a phone or typing on a computer. With all the great things a student-centric classroom has to offer, are we taking away teaching them a very important skill- becoming comfortable speaking in front of a live audience? Will having more students in my classes limit the relationships that I develop with my students in my classroom as CathyO discussions in her post "So They Want to Disrupt My Classroom?"?

As I was looking for a picture of a lawnmower, I came across some lawnmower games. Maybe I will have the students play a quick lawnmower game to get them to really put on their thinking caps. =-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oh the Possibilities..are a Bit Overwhelming but Exciting!!

The tools are here to help our classrooms be more "disrupted" with technology!! Many of them are free and available to everyone (if they have an email address =-) )!! There is even a great book (Web 2.0)that lists many Web 2.0 tools and gives great examples of how teachers have been using these tools to help students be ready for the 21st Century skills. So what does it take to become one of these cutting edge teachers? How can I help "the students apply these tools toward more serious endeavors instead of for enjoyment" (as Web 2.0 states on pg. 50)?

One thought that probably crosses many of our minds as we think about doing something new is "When will I have the time to play with/incorporate/learn about the new technology?". This is when the Web 2.0 tools that we have been reading about may help the teacher as much as the student. I like the remark Marty made in her blog Marty Remarks under the heading "The Pace of Change: Are we institutionally prepared?" that "it is exciting to be a part of an industry that is continually looking for ways to improve." So lets keep helping each other improve by posting good ideas that may be helpful to someone else and maybe save them some time as they are trying to improve their classroom. As Bill brings up in his blog BlamSpot under the heading "Make It, Ma-Top of the World", teachers have always had time as our enemy but the more experience we have with something, the easier it is to make sense of what we are doing. So share your expertise with not only the teaching world but the world. That is what we want our students to be doing as well, right?

So now the question is once I have learned a new technology, how can I get it to be "disruptive" in my classroom and not "crammed"? (Can you tell I love that analogy?") Being a business teacher, I liked the examples given in the book Disrupting Class where they discuss businesses that have come in and taken over an industry with a "disrupting product". How do they do this? As it states in the book on pg. 85:

Success with disruptive innovations always originates at the simplest end of the market, typically competing against nonconsumption.

So what is something that has not been consumed yet in education? How can we turn our Web 2.0 tools into something the students have not used/seen before? Here is an example of a new way to go over rules in the classroom creating a video and TeacherTube.

I hope what I put together here makes sense. Just a few thoughts that have crossed my mind several times as I get more into reading our textbooks, blogs, and wikis.

By the way, can anyone recommend a good way to search for blogs? I am trying to find one that might be for business teachers. I tried searching blogs in Google but did not get much luck. I wondered if there was another way.

Good Night Blogosphere!!!

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