EdReach

Are you a Podcast-a-holic? I have friends and family who love listening to podcasts. I had yet to find one I have become hooked on. While perusing EdReach I came across The Reading Room. I listened to show #4 and really enjoyed myself. It was wonderful to hear what classes around the country were doing involving technology and integrating it with reading. This show spoke about Global Read Aloud, which I am already excited to learn more about. From what the podcast said, they are common Read Alouds done in classrooms around the country (and world?). As the students read the books, they interact with one another about the text through Twitter, Skype, Google Hang Outs, and other social media. It is very interesting and provides your students with social interactions outside of their classroom, school, and even state. One of the speakers even mentioned a google hang out with the author. I know my students would love that! This was a wonderful podcast to listen to…not sure if I am hooked just yet!

Are podcasts something I would consider? Hmm…I think listening to podcasts are awesome and having my students create their own podcasts is something I very much enjoy. To be honest, I hate listening to my recorded voice. I think would rather see myself on camera. But stepping out of my comfort zone is healthy…so why not!?!

If you are interested in integrating reading and technology, take a listen: The Reading Room

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The Future of Education

“Schools as we know them are obsolete.”

Sugata Mitra’s Ted Talk discusses the future of education around the world. As he began speaking about how we don’t need schools anymore because they are “obsolete” I was not a fan on him.

UNTIL he began explaining his research. At first I questioned it. Are these children in the “slum” learning from the computer because it is something new and they are not usually provided with education? What would happen in America if Sugata ran the same experiment? At this point I stopped the video and started jotting down thoughts… The teacher engages the students. Our job as an educator is to keep the students curious and make them dive deeper into their questions.

“Encouragement is key.”

Sugata brings up how the brain works as part of his theory. The reptilian part of the brain will shut down the rest when it feels a threat or punishment. No wonder students struggle taking tests! Thinking back on your own education what teacher comes to mind? Is it the teacher that showed you they cared about you as a person? Encouraged you to try your best? Maybe they got you to work harder at something you were interested in?

Learning emerges if you allow the self organization of education. Students need to want to learn in order to learn. Sugata’s idea of S.O.L.E. (Self Organized Learning Environment) makes me think about the backwards classroom and inquiry based learning. For younger students in the elementary years, some direction is needed from the teacher and a flipped classroom is more challenging to accomplish. The cloud is a very interesting idea and I look forward to learning more about the progress it has made throughout the world. Take a look and see what you think…

Build a School in the Cloud

Are you on Twitter?

I was an avid Twitter user throughout college, but I had stopped checking and tweeting over the last fews years. As my life has been thrown back into the technology world through teaching, I have been checking my Twitter account much more often and following some more purposeful people and organizations. I love reading the tweets and retweets from @ScholasticTeach, which is the official Scholastic Teachers account on Twitter.

Just an hour ago they tweeted a Youtube video of David Shannon, one of my favorite children’s authors. This clip just made me think about how social media connects us “normal folks” to authors, artists, musicians, actors, and politicians throughout the world. David Shannon’s video was about a summer reading challenge for students with Scholastic. Elementary students know and connect with David Shannon through his popular books including the No, David series and A Bad Case of Stripes. Through experience I have witnessed the excitement students have when authors they know come visit their schools. David gives a challenge for students to read this summer and log their minutes on the Scholastic website. He tells them that the he will visit school with the most logged minutes. Wow! What an incredible tool Youtube and Twitter are to spread the word and connect us all.

If you are looking for a Twitter account to follow about great books and other reading tools for the elementary classroom, I recommend following Scholastic Teachers.

 

TECHNOLOGY is IMPORTANT!

High-tech vs. no-tech

So many emotions going through me! The above Washington Post article just brought me to question technology at one point, but after reading it through my thoughts of the importance of technology came flooding in. Having been raised in the DC Metropolitan area, I know about both of the schools discussed in the article. Flint Hill is a school that is very similar to the one I have been working at the past two years. It is also similar to the school I will be working at next year. These schools see the importance of technology in the classroom and in our lives. Waldorf…I don’t know what to say. I understand the need to parents to limit the amount of time their children are on technology, however, wouldn’t it be better to help them regulate it themselves? Taking it away just makes them want it more, and they will end up binging when they can. We should teach them how to make the choice and use their control over how much they use technology. As educators and parents we should not be controlling but educational. 

Yes, there are moments that technology should not be used and the hands on, natural, experience is better. As a person who enjoys nature and science I see experience as an important thing. Going out into the woods and observing your surrounding is a wonderful eye opening experience. I also believe that when documenting your experience for research or education technology can be a wonderful aid. In my college psychology lab we had the option of using real lab rats or virtual. I opted for the real rats, however, some classmates of mine chose virtual because of a phobia or allergy. In the end, we all came out of the course with the same knowledge. 

I am a strong believer in technology, however, I see the importance of the traditional education approach Waldorf uses. As I read the article I understood where the Waldorf administrators, teachers, and parents were coming from. That is until the author described the students in the classroom. I immediately remembered the power technology and relating to the students has on engagement. Making your lesson engaging to the students is the first and hardest struggle a teacher has in the classroom. Technology helps us with engagement and often helps keep students from dozing off, daydreaming, or passing notes in class. 

Technology has the power to improve our education. Why not embrace it? The fact that Nina Auslander-Padgham does not know how to type at the age of 12 is jaw dropping. If your thoughts about technology are wavering, I recommend reading this article and see where you end up. 

Technology is Empowering

WOW! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, or anyone that works with kids you need to watch this TED talk by Scott McLeod. From the first story Scott told I was convinced that technology is important. Martha’s story is the perfect example of how technology gives a voice to younger generations. Martha was able to connect with a vast amount of people around the world through her blog. When I was a kid we had pen pals, now we have blog readers, Twitter/Instagram followers, or Facebook friends. Not only did Martha make connections but she started something. Her school was serving poor quality lunches. By sharing with the world through technology, Martha was able to make a difference.

These other kids have been able to find their identity through technology. The young girl who made a documentary was able to share her opinion and herself through film. Exploration and inquiry based learning is a huge part of teaching, technology is a wonderful outlet for this. But why are we blocking pathways that we are also saying are important. Scott brought up a valid point in his TED talk. He mentioned how we discuss the importance of technology in schools at time, however, we also keep our kids away from it too. What is this actually telling our kids? We need to teach them what technology is. What the internet is. How they can use it safely and effectively. Technology is  pathway for us to LEARN through EXPLORATION. We wouldn’t send a child up a mountain without providing them with safety instructions. But we also wouldn’t not send them because there are possibilities of them getting hurt. We teach them what could happen and make sure they are prepared and know how to navigate around it. This is how technology needs to be incorporated. TEACH! BE PREPARED! EXPLORE!

Let our kids be empowered by technology so they can later teach us.

Watch the TED talk here!

Trying out Pixlr.com

beachAt the beach 🙂

Using Pixlr brought me back to my photography days in high school; I used Adobe Photoshop most of the time. Pixlr is a great alternative that is pretty kid friendly! I would definitely do a quick tutorial with my students and encourage them to use it in the classroom.

*Generation Like*

photo

As I watched Generation Like, a friend overheard the video and immediately said, “Is that Tyler Oakley?” My friend is a big time YouTuber and is one of Tyler’s 4.5 million plus followers. I am right on the outskirts of this “generation like” and am not ashamed of it.

As I sit on my computer or in front of the TV, I am constantly checking my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest on my phone. While my interaction with social media is not as extreme as many of my friends, my awareness of it all connects me to the kids around me. My knowledge of social media is an important aspect in my life that prepares me for instruction in my classroom. For me this might be slightly different than for a secondary teacher.

As I plan my lessons and teach my class, I think about how can I make this relate to my students and how can I prepare them for what is to come in their life. My students are not at the age where they are legally allowed to use many of these social media outlets; however, they are 100% aware of what they are and what they consist of. For example, when I was in a 2nd grade classroom, my students “tweeted” all about the books they read. Their tweeting consisted of writing a quick post about a book they read on a post-it and putting it on a Twitter themed bulletin board. While these 7 and 8 year olds are not on Twitter themselves, they were excited to be part of something relating to Twitter. These second graders are also putting something on a bulletin board for the whole school to see. What they write is available for others to read and comment on. Teaching students to be aware of the world they are part of, how to use social media in a positive way, and how to interpret and understand all sorts of media in front of them.

Something that scares me with social media are the “likes” and “favorites.” These things can cause image disorders in young people. I have witnessed some of these problems first hand. What happens when comments or “likes” are not longer positive? Preparing these students to be aware of the repercussions of their posts is an important role of both teachers and parents. How will they react when they receive no “likes” to their selfie? What about if they receive 400? And how will they react when someone posts a negative comment? Generation Like is learning to live their lives under a microscope, but they must understand this and use it for the better.

I love social media and I am definitely part of it. As teachers we need to prepare our younger students of what is to come in the world of social media and being role models to those older students that are already part of it.

Now go! Post, Tweet, and Snap away!