Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick Note

So I find out that I can link different blogs up under my original one! Go figure...
Anyway, so there will soon be another blog connected with this one. That one will be entirely for school, and you don't have to read it if you don't want to.

Also, there will be no picture this week because I am typing this at school.

Just thought I should let you know! Hopefully, there will be something more interesting later!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Life (as it is)

Wow. Three months have gone by, and another semester of classes (granted, they were highly condensed Summer classes, but they still count!). It’s strange how much can happen within three months, and even stranger how those experiences follow us for the rest of our lives (at least I think they will….).
Here is what has been happening.

I took two intense Summer courses, to get myself ready for my first semester in the Teaching program; Math and Children’s Literature. Math was a killer, as it has never been one of my strong points. Children’s Lit. was eye-opening, and probably one of my favorite classes since I began University. I didn’t think I would like it—I got my Associate’s in English and thought I knew everything there was to know about good literature; turns out, I didn’t know a thing. I had a blast learning, though, and came out with a broader idea of the books I’d like to put in my own classroom.

After finishing the classes (and passing both), I was burnt out and ready to relax. Unfortunately, Summer-time is when my job (I work at a Deli) becomes the most hectic. People are always coming in for meats, cheeses, fried foods, or ice-cream; and working the night shift, my co-workers and I are expected to clean everything and get it ready for the next morning…all within the shift allotted to us (the company I work for has issues with overtime). This means I only get two days out of the week to myself, and those days are filled with doing chores, running errands, and other things that I can’t get done the days I work. So my relaxation and free time is limited to Sundays…maybe…if I don’t have anything left over to do…

As you can tell, my first steps out into the “Independent-Adult-World” have been rather assiduous. True, I still live at home; but due to some recent events and also due to my age, I’ve had to become pretty self-sufficient. For someone with my personality, I think it’s better to be thrown into the deep end of the pool so I’m forced to learn how to swim, as opposed to being slowly dragged from the shallow end. I’ll be the first one to admit that sometimes it’s tougher (emotionally) to learn this way, but I don’t think I’d accomplish as much as I do if I was mollycoddled like that.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though!

Earlier this month we learned that my Grandfather’s house sold unexpectedly (they hadn’t had many people looking at it and thought it would take quite a bit longer). My cousin (bless her heart) came up with the brilliant idea to go up there and help them pack for their move; as we have both been hoping to go on a trip this summer, she asked me to go with her. So tomorrow I will be taking another step out into “Adult World”; I will be driving approx. 327 miles (526 Km) by myself, with only two planned rest-stops. I’ll be staying overnight at my cousin’s house, then we will be driving out together from there (another 442 mile/712 Km trip) to my Grandfather’s home.

To say I am excited about having a real break from my life, would be an understatement. Granted, I’ll be working most—if not all—of my vacation (not counting the parts I’m wasting in a car), but it’s still a vacation!......................................



Okay, so maybe my traversal into the so-called “Adult World” has been rather uninteresting in comparison to some…either that or my hectic life is far more realistic than most would like to admit. But it’s life, and it’s mine, so I guess I’m not one to judge.

So there you go. The very short and slightly prejudiced version of how my life is going now. I hope everyone cheers as much as I did about my “vacation” (and I also hope that they keep their fingers crossed that my cousin and I get some sight-seeing in *hint-hint!*). And I hope that more that one can relate to the overwhelming rush it is to completely enter the amazing-confusing-horrifyingly-terrifying world of the Adult.

And if they do—even if they don’t—am I forgiven for waiting three months to post an update?!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

A new beginning

Yesterday was a hectic day. It was my last day of Finals, and I spent almost a week prior to said day, studying for the two particular Finals I had to take. And wasn't it just like me, I was calm up until the Finals, through them, and even after them as I drove home content that I'd done my best.

Then I got home. Suddenly, I'm so shaky I can hardly hold anything; the shakiness continues through my congratulatory dinner and only stops when I follow it up with some chocolate Pocky sticks. Go figure--chocolate seems to be able to cure me of just about anything, except being completely wired from the lack of stress I'm facing in my post-final hours.

Which is why I still find myself awake and thinking back on this semester. It hits me that although I am finished with my classes, one class has left me with a strangely-named blog and an even stranger desire to keep it going.

So here is the first post of my "new" blog--completely assignment free and 100% me. The updates will probably be slower in coming, but I can promise they'll be more interesting than my previous ones! Thanks to everyone who stuck by me throughout my "classroom" blog, and to everyone who will continue to read now that I have more freedom about what I'm writing! 


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tools of Choice


This week was out Finals preparation week. Our assignment was actually part of our Final, in which we created two projects out of three possible options. I chose to make a flyer and a newsletter.

So What?

Using tools that we’ve learned about over the course of this semester, we were asked to create two projects that we were to save as PDF’s, and then present in front of the class on the day of our Final. I used Google Docs to create mine.

I tried using templates, but every time I would save it the document would overlap the two pages of my work (for the newsletter), so I ended up doing everything by hand. I actually ended up learning more about formatting and decorating my work doing my Finals project than I did on the original Google Docs assignment.

Now What?

All-in-all I had a lot of fun creating my Final Projects. But this “lesson” was more focused on testing us to see what we learned over the semester, as opposed to teaching us about some new program that might help us in the future. I can’t really say how it will help me in the future in reference to my co-workers, except that it has broadened my understanding of Google Docs.

It has allowed me to think on how I’d approach this assignment as a teacher, however. I think asking students to create a poster or newsletter in response to a lesson I’ve taught, is a brilliant idea, and it allows them to express their ideas and thoughts creatively. It is also a good way to see how well they understand what you’ve taught them.


I haven’t seen Schoolhouse Rock since I was very little, so this video was fun to watch. I liked how they gave visual examples of everything they sang about, and I liked how the tune changed every once in a while so the song didn’t lose its appeal. I’m not sure how the video applies to our lesson this week, but it was interesting all the same.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Videos in the classroom

We actually learned this lesson along with the vid-cast and pod-cast one. In this assignment we have to find an educational video and save it onto our computers, then put it up on our UEN websites for everyone to see.

Now What?
This assignment is a good way to figure out how to identify safe and effective videos that will help our students learn specific lessons in the classroom. It is also a fun, attention-grabbing way to teach them concepts that they need to remember. As Doc Waters said, it is important not to show video-clips too often because the interest wanes, but an occasional video here and there is a good means of reinforcing what you are teaching.

I have known about places like YouTube for a long time, and have watched many videos there. But it never crossed my mind that people upload children’s educational videos there, too. It was fun going through them and choosing one for my assignment. I know that in the future, I’ll definitely use it as a tool for teaching in my classroom.

So what?
I have always been a supporter of alternate means of teaching, e.g. using a video to teach a concept, calling in a guest speaker to talk over a subject we are learning, or doing on a walk around the school grounds to teach a lesson. So learning that teachers all over the world are using sites like YouTube to get videos to use in their classrooms is not a surprise, and it is a big argument in support of my own ideas and feelings on the subject.

I don’t plan on being a completely ground-breaking teacher when it comes to technology in my classroom, but I refuse to depend on only paper, pencils, and oral skills to teach my students. I also hope that in the future my colleagues will be in full support of using technology like computers, videos, etc. in the classroom. Most teachers are, and it would be fun to trade ideas or plan lessons with the critique and understanding of my colleagues.

I liked the idea of technology allowing us to spend more time with our families, but overall, I didn’t understand the point of this video. Why are we being called the “Millennial Generation” rather than the “technological generation?” Why were kids the only ones interviewed? I was also a little offended when they started implying that the Middle Adult generation knows less about technology than ours does, and is less open to it. My mom is a graphic designer and my dad is in the Escalations department of a major computer company. They both own and know how to operate computers, cell phones, and many other advanced pieces of technology, and use them every day. I think Motorola needs to do a little more research on this subject, and then follow with being a little less prejudiced against the older generations. After all, we teenagers and young adults wouldn’t be where we are today without the so-called “technologically ignorant older generation”.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vidcasts and Podcasts

Podcasts and Vidcasts—something I think every American teenager and young adult know about. This week we’re learning how to create them, post them, and then use them in our classrooms.

In our assignment this week we are choosing one of these and then creating a 40-60 second educational presentation. My group chose to do a Vidcast on fire safety and we are in the process of “hiring” an “actor” to perform in it. After we film it, we will edit it, and then post it on YouTube for the general public to see. This is an intimidating prospect, considering I’ve never uploaded videos onto the internet before, and have never really had a desire to.

This will be good experience to have in the future, if one of my classes ever calls for a video presentation, though. Perhaps not such a public one, but one that I can show in classes to emphasize my argument or give an original way to present the information I want to share. I look forward to playing around more with possible vidcast opportunities in the future.

Technology in school seems to be an inevitable thing these days. Computers are an important part of our education, and the internet is becoming an invaluable tool for resource and quick searches on information. Children as young as Kindergarten are being taught to safely search the web for pictures and information on class projects or personal assignments. Sites like YouTube, DailyMotion, and Veoh are popular places to go to view both educational and non-educational videos.

In the future, I can see myself showing my classes appropriate videos from sites like these, as long as the content goes along with whatever lesson I am teaching. It would be a fun way to draw interest for an otherwise boring subject. Vidcasts could even be used in professional meetings, as long as they pertain to the information that is being shared

The video was interesting to watch, but probably not for the reasons intended. Out of all the reasons given for student bloging, very few actually seemed to apply to bloging alone. Most appeared to be aimed towards the internet and computers in general. Also, the children shown in the slide-show looked far too young to be bloging, and most looked like they were involved in playing games as opposed to doing any serious writing assignments. Suffice to say, I did not enjoy this video as much as I have the ones in the past.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


This week we learned about PowerPoint, and how to create lessons for our students to use. In our groups we were asked to find a lesson in the book “50 Quick and Easy PowerPoint Activities” and use it as a model to create our own.

At first there was a lot of confusion in my group as to what audience (fellow teachers/students/parents of students) our lesson was supposed to be focused towards. After we were told that we were making a lesson to show to our “students”, so they could create their own power points, things were a lot clearer.
As a student myself, PowerPoint is an important skill to have when I have to do a class presentation. I already knew how to create professional PowerPoint assignments, but it never crossed my mind that students as young as Kindergarten create PowerPoints for assignments as well (I never did). It has been really interesting creating a lesson-plan that will show students how to do a particular PowerPoint lesson.

In the future I definitely plan on using PowerPoint assignments in my class. They are fun, relatively easy, and the uniqueness of every slide-show gives you a lot of insight into each child’s personality and thought process. For example, you ask your students to create a slideshow that shows their favorite foods, or things they see every day. The responses you as sure to get will be extremely varied and interesting to share with the class.
As a colleague, PowerPoint can also be very helpful. In meetings, it can be used to show the progress of each class in your grade, or your individual students. It can also be a way to lighten the mood in meetings by slipping funny pictures into the slides. I am a firm believer that no meeting should be too serious that a little humor wouldn’t be appreciated by all.

Alright, this week’s video was just plain cute! I have never really been interested in raising chickens (ducks are more my thing), but Jordan seems to have a real love for it. I liked how she introduced the different types of chickens she was raising and put in a little information on each. I also liked how she introduced each chick—although I’m not sure I’d ever want to have a bird standing on my head for any period of time…….

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Picassa part II....and general randomness.

Crescent Lake, WA

What and So What?
This blog will be a bit different, due to the fact that I did my blog on Picassa last week. Because of her illness, our professor decided to rearrange our class schedule to fit the rest of the term. So in our most recent class we discussed what topics we were going to learn about, and which ones we would just throw out. After that, she taught us briefly on the Picassa lesson that we had missed before, and then she allowed us to have free time where we played around with Picassa for a while and then had the chance to leave early.

I chose to stay, and played around with the photo-editing program for about an hour. I edited some of my own photos, and then started editing random ones I found on Google. It was fun, and a lot of the time I played around with them, making them black and white or enhancing them to look far more dramatic than they did before (as you will see from the samples I’ve put up).
A Harbor Seal in Port Angeles, WA
(it swam within feet of my brother, allowing him to get several amazing photographs)

Now what?
I fully plan on using programs like Picassa in the future. If not for my future class, for my own use. It is a fun and easy program, and it would be easy to teach to a class of young students. Children are always eager to learn about things like this, and I think it would be a fun lesson to draw out over a couple of days or even weeks.
And because I already critiqued the “Power Point” video last week, please enjoy two more samples of my attempts with Picassa!

A Sunrise (I enhanced the colors to make them more dramatic)

A forest road (it reminded me of some of the roads in the NorthWest coastal region)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Picassa...or not...

This week we were supposed to be learning about Picassa; unfortunately, our teacher was sick and we were asked to complete the part of the assignment that didn’t require the use of the Picassa program. So we had a lab-day and worked on our slide-show teaching presentation that we took the pictures for last week.

So What?
When we started our slide-show, my group quickly realized how unprofessional some of our pictures looked. In an attempt to clean them up, we started to look for programs that might help, on the school computers. Imagine my surprise when I found Picassa (the program we weren’t learning that day) on my computer.

After finding another program to be unsatisfactory, I decided to try Picassa out and told one of my fellow group members about it. She found the program on her computer, opened it as well, and we spent the next hour and a half editing our photographs and pasting them onto our power-point slides. We both came to realize how handy Picassa was, and why Doc Waters wanted us to learn about it in the first place.

Now What?
Before, I was never a big fan of editing photos. I like to think that what you get reflects the natural beauty of the object you photographed. Unfortunately through this assignment, I learned this is not always the case. Picassa is a wonderful tool, and very easy to use.

Should I choose to use digital cameras in my classroom, I have no doubt that I will also use Picassa as an editing tool; if not to clean up the image, then to crop it if need be. It is also helpful in a professional setting, if you need to clean up any photographs for public viewing (such as teacher portraits that hang in the hallways, or other similar pictures).

I was giggling the entire time I watched this video, mainly because I couldn’t refute a thing he was saying. I have made several of those mistakes while creating power-point presentations, especially “common power point mistake number 1”. But the way he presented the mistakes, along with his over-the-top examples, were highly amusing and entertaining. I will think twice, next time, before attempting to fill my power-point slides with every bit of information I can fit on there.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Digital Cameras and Mashups

This week we had a quick lecture on using Digital Cameras in the classroom, while the rest of the lesson was a discussion on “mashups” and their possible significance in our future classrooms. For one-half the independent part of our lesson, we were told to go on a field-trip and take at least ten pictures around our school with our digital cameras, to be used at a later date.

As a future teacher, the lesson on Digital Cameras in the classroom was enlightening. It was interesting to learn about the use of photographs in lesson plans and the classroom, when those things weren’t readily accepted back when I attended elementary school. As a student today, knowing that my photographs would likely be accepted in my classes as part of my assignments was a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant one.

Our discussion on “mashups” was also a surprise to me. I had never thought to attribute something I saw as entertainment as a possible means for teaching something. But now I can see where it would be helpful if I ever have an assignment where I have to create a slide-show or a short presentation. A mashup would be a fun, unique way of sharing my project with my professor and classmates.

I was already aware that digital cameras are highly useful. Not only can I take multiple pictures and immediately view and erase the ones I don’t like, but it is a much cheaper rout than the old conventional cameras with their rolls of film. To use them in classrooms was also something I was familiar with, seeing as the idea started getting popular when I was in Jr. High and High School. Digital cameras were not uncommon to see among the teachers and yearbook staff, and the students were well aware of what the photos were going to be used for. Still, it was nice to get new insights on ways to use digital cameras in every aspect of school, including assignments for young children (such as using digital photographs on posters, writing assignments, et cetera).

Mashups, on the other hand, I was not as familiar with. I have seen several videos where artists have taken multiple finished works (different movies or TV commercials) and then cut them into not-so random pieces and put them together with music. I have also heard several songs where DJ’s have taken two or more well-known songs and mixed them together. But I was not aware of the term, nor how extensively mashups are used nowadays in the educational field. Not only can a teacher take movies or music and piece them together into something that will apply to their lessons, but they can also take pictures (again with the digital cameras) and create a montage that is both interesting and fun for their students to view. I imagine a lot more students would be willing to pay attention if they had something as engaging as a mashup to help teach them concepts and lessons.

This week’s video was an example of a Mashup. The “director” took many unrelated videos showing people playing music, cut them up and mixed them around, and then put them together to create an amazing montage. There was no music added because put together, the cut-up videos created a whole new song. It was incredible, and a very good example of what we might do as teachers if we choose to use mashups in our lessons. I enjoyed it although I have to say, I my favorite was not this one, but a tossup between the attached videos “Babylon Band” and “Wait for me”.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Internet Safety

I strongly believe that we should use the Internet in education. Face it—the internet has become a large part of our lives and we all use it for our own schooling, so why deny it to the next generation? With the internet comes a vast potential for gathering and sharing information, despite the dangers that go along with it.

We should evaluate the sites we use, however, to ensure that they are not giving us false information. Take the two sample sites Doc Waters gave us. They were both bogus sites, one obviously and the other not so obvious unless you know a lot about science. We need to know that the information we are getting is accurate and up-to-date, so evaluating the sites we visit is invaluable.

Questions to ask yourself
1. Is the site a well-known and trusted site?
2. Are there significant dates listed on the site/page, such as the last update, and when the page was created?
3. Who is the author of the page/site? Can they be contacted, how, and are their others that can be contacted as well?
4. Is the site accessible at all times of the day? If not, why?
5. How current is the information on the site and when was the site created?
6. What is the purpose of this site?
7. Did the author list their sources? If so, double check a few.

You can keep your students safe by educating them in the dangers of the online world, as well as telling them ways to get help if they come across information or pictures that make them feel uncomfortable or scared. Keeping a close eye on the sites a child uses is also a must. Internet blocks, browsers that only allow children to visit approved sites, and curriculum-based websites are important tools to help teachers and parents keep their children safe.


I liked how this video went back over many of the rules that saw throughout this lesson. The pictures didn’t have much to do with the rules, but they were fun to look at, especially since none of the kids looked like they were having an overly good time (lol). The repeated change in music and the way the video switched the way in which the rules were shown was also a bit distracting. But overall, a good video, especially if you were showing it to elementary school kids.

Friday, February 12, 2010

UEN Reflection

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I am not planning on staying in Utah to teach, so I am not sure how UEN will be of use to me in other states. But in the interest of this assignment, I will answer as if I was going to stay.

I plan on using UEN in many ways in my future classroom. It is an invaluable tool for teachers who want a safe, educationally based place to go to get curriculum lesson ideas for their classrooms. There are fun lessons to integrate into your lesson plan, and a long list of helpful courses that you can take to make you a more effective teacher.

There is a part of the site called “K-12 Student Center” where students to go to get information for their classroom assignments, where they can play grade-based and educational interactive games, where they can get help on their homework, and it even has links to other important and helpful sites like Pioneer Library and the official NASA website. At the bottom of the main “K-12” page is a pull-down list of more sites or things of interest that a child can visit or watch, such as Bill Nye episodes and a site on “Kid’s Health”.

As I plan on teaching 1st to 3rd grade, it will be helpful for me to use UEN for many of my lessons and assignments, simply because of how children need new, interactive, and fun things to do to keep themselves interested. For me personally, the ready-to-use lesson plans in the “Core Curriculum” part of the site will be a lifesaver, especially the ones like the “Add It Up” lesson that requires students to work with beans to help them count. I feel lessons that include physical objects that the students can touch are important for their overall understanding of a subject.

UEN’s link to Pioneer Library is another tool that I will use in my classroom. The portal for students gives them access to many helpful links such as EBSCO (and through that, the “Searchasaurus” tool that gives children search browser much safer than Google), World Book Encyclopedia, SIRS Discoverer, and many other sites that are safe and fun to visit. And to tell the truth, the portal for instructors is no less enjoyable or safe. It was a little too fun for me, looking through it and getting ideas for my future classroom!


I highly agree with Sir Ken Robinson’s argument. I liked how he put the story about his son’s Nativity play, and how the little boy said “Frank sent this” instead of “Frankincense”. And he’s right. Children are not afraid to make mistakes. However, as we get older, that fear is instilled in us by our teachers, our parents, and even ourselves. I also agree with him when he said that creativity and the arts are being left by the wayside to make room for “real education” (meaning math, science, languages, excreta). I believe that the arts should be considered just as important as any other subject. Just think how many geniuses have come out of their early educations but are stifled by general expectation for them to become a professor or a corporate zombie in the upper levels of school? I can tell you—it’s a lot. And that is a pity.

Friday, February 5, 2010

UEN (pt.1)


This time we learned the ins and outs of the UEN (Utah Education Network) website. We also created our own webpage there, and designed it to our tastes.

So what?

As a student, I have to say that UEN is a very useful tool to have while going through the teaching degree. It has many very useful pages that can help me create possible lesson-plans for my student-teaching days, and also cool links to other sites that might be helpful in the future. Certainly the link to Pioneer Library will become a big asset to my future as a student. Although I will add that I am not as comfortable with the UEN site as others I have visited, mostly because it is so cluttered and busy all the time. It is intimidating trying to find specific things that I might be looking for in the maze that the site seems to be.

That said, this site would be good for my colleagues, if they want to see where I am at in lesson plans or just to catch up with what I am doing as a teacher. As there are many teachers and professors that have professional pages there, it will be helpful to look through other profiles to see what those who are teaching in my same grade-level are teaching or finding helpful in their classrooms.

Now What?

This is where I have to go off the beaten path a bit. As I am planning to teach out-of-state and in a low-socioeconomic area, I am not sure what my future school-district will allow when it comes to UEN. As it is a Utah-based network and focuses on the education expectations of this state, it might not apply or be appropriate for where I plan to teach in the future.

If I were to stay in Utah, however, it would be a wonderful asset for my students. I plan on teaching first-grade to third-grade kids, and there are many fun games and activities that my students could play, that are educational as well. And as said in the “So What” section, my colleagues and I could use it as an invaluable tool for seeing where we are in correspondence to each other and other teachers outside of our school.

Video Reflection

As a student who has been a part of the “real world” for some time, I can say that I agree with most of what President Obama said in this video. HOWEVER! Seeing as he was addressing students K-12, I believe his speech was slightly inappropriate for the age-group. He spoke way above the understanding of most elementary school children, and seemed to be speaking AT and not TO the older grade-levels. I did like how he put in the stories about his own education and life, and the stories of students around the US who overcame everything and are now attending college. That added a more personal edge to the speech.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Google (pt.2)

This week we are utilizing what we learned last week in order to create a fun “Classroom Rules” power-point. Again, we are doing this through “Google Documents”, and will be turning it into a web presentation once we’re finished.

So What?
Because the members of my group are planning on teaching the younger years of Elementary, we are making all ten of our classroom rules rhyme, and then adding funny pictures to illustrate the point. Through rhyming we hope to make the memorization of the rules easier, and the pictures will give a fun visual example if any of the children struggle with reading. This assignment not only teaches us to focus on our students needs, even through something as simple as making rules, but also helps us to cater to whatever learning-level they might be at in our class.

Having knowledge of and access to this program will also make things easier for assignments in other classes. If we need to make a power-point for another class, we don’t need to have a power-point program installed on our computer in order to do it anymore. It also makes things like keeping notes for classes and other aspects of our life easier as well, because we now have a fun, orderly way of saving and setting up that information.

Now What?
The power-point program in Google Documents is definitely something I will use for my own class if it is available then. It will make lessons a whole lot easier and more organized, as well as making them more fun for my students. If possible I would also like them to learn how to use it, both for school and personal lives (if they have computers at home). I feel it would be an invaluable tool for later in their school-careers.

I am aware that teachers often have meetings to discuss their classes and teaching techniques that are working for them. I think this program would be ideal then, helping both them and myself to organize our thoughts and ideas. So much of my time is spent making “to do” lists, and “this worked, let’s try this” notes that get lost almost as soon as I write them. Having a program like this would help save paper and keep my mind from blanking on that one important thing I wanted to say—but can’t remember so I’m frustrated the rest of the day trying to recall it.

Video Reflection.
This was the first video I watched in this class that made me laugh out loud. Already I feel that Alex has the potential to become great. If not as a director, than as an actor. He has a way of getting his point across while having a lot of action in the background, as well as music almost drowning out his words. And I liked how he brought in facts about famous movie directors to show that even though they are great, they never would have gotten to where they did without their educations behind them. I highly agree. Some people have a natural talent for certain things, and others need to hone those same skills through study and experience. But neither type of people are going to get very far without a solid foundation. And that foundation is EDUCATION. Rightly said, Alex!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Google (pt. 1)

In class we are learning to broaden our means of communication and education through the tools Google has to offer. Our assignment for this week is for our individual groups to imagine we are already teachers and write a "Welcome Letter" for our chosen grade-levels.

At first I was uncertain when Doc Waters told us we were going to be using "Google Documents" to do an assignment. I was especially apprehensive when she told us that in order to do the assignment, we could communicate with our group members only through Google Docs. But after beginning the document (I was put in charge of the start-up), I was surprised by how quickly my team members responded and began to edit around and within what I had written. It was easy to see where they were going with their thoughts and we were able to meld our ideas smoothly into the letter we have now.

I can now see why Doc Waters introduced us to "Google Documents". It has given me a whole new tool to use when I have writing assignments in my other University courses, and if I have group-work, it is an easy program to use to share ideas or the pieces of the assignment that I am in charge of (and somewhat more efficient than IM or E-mail). Also, the fact that we can go back through our "revising history" and look to see how we got our paper to where it is now, is a huge help. It is definitely a program that I will continue using from now on.


I am excited about what this means for when I become a teacher. Even children in the younger grade-levels write papers, and a program like this would not only give them a secure, easy place to save their work, but it would also allow for group-work and encourage cooperation among my students. I could give them small research assignments, put them into groups, show them how to use the program and then let them go. Google Documents would also allow me easier communication and collaboration with my colleagues. Instead of having to arrange meetings around our busy schedules and worrying if our weekly/monthly/yearly newsletters are coming together as they should, my colleagues and I could simply use Google Documents to compile them.

In the past I never thought about how computers and technology would help me in the classroom. Really, I was stuck back in my own childhood when everything was passed out on paper and computers were only used in that fun class where they taught us how to type on a keyboard and how to play computer games. It was shocking to realize that I can integrate computer technology into my own curriculum, and it would make things a whole lot easier for me, my colleagues, and my students. But now that I have, there is no way I'm letting this new epiphany go. I hope my students will be ready for a lot of computer work...and my co-workers don't get too annoyed with my constant editing of their classroom newsletters...

I agree wholeheartedly with what Rene H. says in her video. Passion is a huge part of reaching your goals, no matter what they may be. In my case, it is the passion for teaching, the desire to help my future students, and especially the passion for positively influincing the minds of each and every student I will have. If you have that desire and drive, I honestly believe it will rub off on your students, your colleagues, and even your family; and it will help you overcome every obsticle you may face in getting to your goals. Only you can make your dreams come true, and ultimately, you are the only one standing in your way.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Ideal Classroom

My ideal classroom would be a simple one. I want it big and wide-open, with large windows along at least one wall. It is fine if the walls are white, but I would have blue and green hangings and decorations up, because blue and green are calm, soothing colors. I hope to teach first to third-grade students, so I will, of course, be adding their artwork and assignments to the decor to give the classroom a more personal feel.

I would have a corner for "rest and reading", which would double as a sick-corner if the students felt ill. The opposite corner of the room would be "my corner", for a computer, lesson plans, and several cupboards for storage. There would be a place to hang coats and backpacks in the back of the room, and the desks would be arranged in fours to promote group work and friendships; two boys to two girls a "table" in the beginning, in an attempt to nix the "girls/boys have cooties" mind-set. I will be willing to make adjustments if certain groups cannot or will not work together, though.

My ideal student-count would be 12-25 students--a small class. I would use both visual and auditory learning techniques to determine which students respond to what. I tend to be a hands-on person, so there would be a lot of lessons where we might go outside or I would bring physical objects into the classroom for a lesson (e.g. different types of leaves, or a bowl of live fish for a math or science lesson). I would keep things basic, but make them fun and interesting to keep the students' attention.

As for the parents of my students--they would expect me to respect their children as they do, but also would allow me to punish them if the need arose. They would want me to bring any of my concerns about their children to them, along with suggestions on how we might resolve those problems as a team.

My colleagues would be a support system, giving me advice when I needed it and asking the same in return. We would share teaching techniques that have worked and failed for us, and if I am new among them, they would make an effort to make me feel comfortable and confident in my new role.

As for the dreaded punishments, I would be one of those teachers that withholds recess and privileges to the students who refuse to listen to me. If they are constantly being loud or disruptive in class, it is an immediate removal of said privileges. If their language is unacceptable, it will be the removal, along with writing lines during the punishment period. If their behavior continues, it is a visit to the principal's office and a call to their parents/guardians. I am a fun person and I enjoy a laugh as much as anyone else. But there comes a place to draw a line, and I draw a cement one.

Finally, my goals for my classroom and students. I want my classroom to be a fun place where the kids can't wait to return to learning. I also want it to be a safe place, where they feel secure enough to allow themselves free reign of their personalities. I want to be able to be a friend to my students, but also an authority-figure they can look up to and not be afraid to approach with their problems and questions. In all, I want my students to be positively affected my me, in a way that lasts for the rest of their lives. Even if they can't remember my name, as long as they remember what they learned in my class and grow from it, that is enough.