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.