About Me

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I am a student at the University of South Alabama, College of Education. My husband Brian and I have been married since 2004, and in 2010 welcomed our son Deigan. I also work full-time as the Marketing Specialist for a local Real Estate company.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Final Reflection...

In our first blog post for EDM 310, we were asked to "Imagine our classroom when we start teaching. What would our classroom look like? What would our teaching style/method be? What type of tools would we want our students to use in our classroom?" As I look back to read what I wrote, all I can say is WOW! In the past four months I have learned so much more than I initially expected. What I perceived to be today's elementary school classroom is so completely off as to what it is really like. Students today are far more advanced and technologically savvy. They are using iPads, Macs, and PC as if it is second nature....because it is!

technology heart motherboard
The "classroom culture" is now one of engaging students through multi-media SMARTboards, Podcasting, iPad Apps, Educational games on PC's, etc. Gone away are the roll-out media carts with VCR's, tape players and projectors. This type of "tech push" is necessary to keep up with most students' personal lives whereby they are playing video games with people from around the world, talking and texting on their smartphones and playing on the family PC or iPads or even both! We read earlier in the semester the book "Teaching Digital Natives" by Marc Prensky. In his book he discussed this same situation. Teachers need to be at a constant learning state so that they are prepared, and know what needs to happen to keep the interest of their students so each one can learn and grow as well.

Part of learning and growing is to be able to reflect, and make modifications where you see fit. As I reflect back to my first blog post, I notice several ideas that I learned this semester that I plan to incorporate in my future classroom. One major idea is Project Based Learning. Our entire semester was based on PBL, and I can attest that this method of teaching works! It is much easier and effective to work as part of a group that is centered on a project. Additionally, with the various "collaborative" tools such as Google Drive that are available for use, I can't think of a reason not to utilize PBL in the classroom.

My initial response was written from the heart, and I still feel this way. I still believe 100% that as educators we are responsible for helping to build well rounded children who are conscious of others, confident and full of self-esteem. We can achieve this by providing a comfortable learning environment for our students; environments where they do not fear making mistakes because they are taught that mistakes are merely learning lessons in disguise.

Yes, I believe that technology is a key factor in learning. But so is the heart, and that isn't something a computer can replicate.....yet!

"There's not such a thing as standing still, for the world is always moving; if you're standing still, you are being left behind." -Andres Lara

BP Sixteen

Sunday, December 1, 2013

All Children Can Learn...

all children can learn
This is a subject that is very dear to my heart. Children with special needs are so often discredited and not given the same opportunities as normal, healthy children and it simply isn’t fair. Although children with special needs may require special attention, they should still be treated the same, and given the same opportunities to learn and grow. It is important as future educators that we are well aware of the many different tools available to assist us in the classroom should we be fortunate enough to teach a special needs student.

Naturally I believe that teachers can make a huge impact on each student, but I believe there is even bigger potential to make a difference in the life of a special needs student. Not everyone is “cut out” to deal with special needs children, so before committing to the task, teachers should really evaluate themselves and determine if they are capable and ready for the challenge. It will take a lot of patience and compassion...but the reward is so much greater!

Technology has come a long way. Whether the student is deaf, blind or has a physical disability, scientist are constantly inventing devices to assist those students in the classrooms. For instance, in the video Teaching Math to the Blind, Professor Art Karshmer discusses a device called the 3M Touchpad that was designed and created to teach math to students who are blind. Those who are blind are taught how to read by using braille. This presents the main obstacle when teaching math to the blind, since math is not only linear. With this new device, blind students are able to place “braille dice” on a large electronic pad, and the coordinates are read aloud which then allows them to visualize the math problem and therefore work and solve the problems. Inventions of such devices to assist those with sensory impairments are allowing barriers to be removed and learning to flourish.

While researching more on this topic, I came across this website that list several useful assistive technology tools for the classroom. The one I found most interesting was the FaceMouse. This device allows students who have limited mobility to use head movement and facial expressions to navigate and perform tasks on the computer. For most of us, using a computer is second nature. However for a special needs student it could be another milestone that devices such as this are making possible to be accomplished. Once again….breaking down barriers!

With hard work and effort, teaching a special needs student can be such a rewarding experience for both the teacher and the student. Who knows, you could be teaching the next Beethoven!

Author: Hilliary Sanders

Teaching Mom What Her Deaf/Blind Child Is Learning On the iPad

This video was created by Denise Robinson to help parents understand how their children are using the iPad to learn. After watching this video, it really made me think about all the children, who cannot hear or see. It is very challenging, but having all these technologies that we can use is very helpful and touching.

The National Federation of the Blind, is the largest organization of the blind in America. It was founded in 1940, and has grown to include over 50,000 members. I was reading about it, and its amazing that these people are able to go to college, and become successful people. Sheila Koenig is a member of this organization. She teaches 9th grade English at Southview Middle School in Minnesota. She uses braille for seating charts or notes, and uses the computer for speech.

I think that it is extremely important for parents to learn what their children are doing in school. It will really help the parents get a clue of what they're learning in school, so that they can help them with there homework. or assignments. I will be using the computer as well as the iPad in my classroom.

This video by Denise Robinson was a very touching video. This gives you a great idea of why iPads are so important to have in your classroom. Children that are not able to do certain things in the classroom that most kids can, is now possible. Technology is making so many changes in our kids lives. Students are able to use these tools, to get the independent learning they need on their own.

I also found an amazing video on The National Federation for the Blind

Author: Claire Williams

The video I watched introduced a device called The Mountbatten that is being used at The Florida School of the Deaf and Blind. The Mountbatten is an extremely advanced device that allows blind students to be involved in classroom assignments and to receive feedback from their teacher. As the student brailles, the machine says what is being brailled.

I think this is an amazing tool for blind students to utilize in the classroom as opposed to not participating in class discussions and not communicating their thoughts. This device has the ability to save files and transfer files. They is also a way for teachers to receive a translation of the braille writing.

It is important to be in tune with the new technological advances so that we can better our students learning abilities and that we cater to each and every student regardless of their disability.

Author: Lauren Patterson

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Comments-4-Kids | November Summary

we are all in this together
We have come to our last post in the Comment-4-Kids series. This month, I had the opportunity to read 3 great kids blogs. Here is what they had to say...

The first blog was written by a 7th grade student named Christian from Ontario, Canada. In his post, Christian was discussing the character Melody from one of this year's Global Real Aloud books, "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper. Christian goes on to write about how difficult it must be for Melody to live since she is unable to communicate. However, he indicates that he would certainly try to be her friend because he believes he would still be able to have fun with her because she is able to smile and laugh. This is such a sweet, heartfelt post. In my response to Christian, I mentioned that I was aware of the Global Read Aloud project and that I may have to join-in and read this much talked about book. I also praised him for being so kind, and willing to befriend someone that so many would outcast.

The second blog was written by Faaiua who is a student in Mr. Mark's class at Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand. In somewhat of a related topic from another kid blog I read in September in which a student wrote about her love of the game of Minecraft, Faauia created a Google Presentation detailing the technological advances of this popular kid game. In my response, I mentioned how interesting her presentation was and that she did a really nice job with the presentation.

And finally, the last kid blog was written by a student from Mrs. Yollis' 3rd Grade class. Sarah, who is a trained violinist, wrote about her experience auditioning for the Junior Orchestra and included a video of her playing her violin. All I have to say is WOW! This child is extremely driven. Sarah not only plays the violin, she also plays the piano and takes gymnastic lessons. In addition, I commented on how well she did on her video, praised her for her accomplishments and encouraged her to keep practicing.

Project Six C4K-3 Summary

My Personal Learning Network...

Last month in one of my blog post, I mentioned I started my own Personal Learning Network using Symbaloo. Here is a quick update on what I have added...

Social Media Sites:

Vimeo is an excellent site for uploading videos. I actually prefer Vimeo over YouTube! I like the appearance of the videos themselves and Vimeo allows you to select your own thumbnail without having to monetize your videos.

Educational Resource Sites:
Khan Academy

I recently posted reviews on both of these sites, check out these posts: Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom and Learning from the Leaders.

Educational Blogs, Sites and PLN's:
Kathy Cassidy - Primary Preoccupation
Becky Georend - Live the Conversation
TED Conferences
21st Century Fluency Project

I'm was really excited to find the 21st Century Fluency Project, this website is awesome! The 21st Century Fluency Project is a collaborative initiative that was created to develop exceptional educational resources to assist in transforming learning so that it is relevant to life in the 21st century.

Here is my updated PLN...

Project Two - Final Report

Challenges of Internet Safety in the Classroom...

In today’s digital age, more and more emphasis is being placed on technology. In order to well prepare their students, teachers are faced with the challenge of incorporating technology into their classrooms while keeping the content safe for all students. Let’s face it, fourth and fifth grade students are going to be curious and “wander” into areas of the internet that are inappropriate. How can teachers prevent this?

There are many aspects teachers should consider when incorporating technology in their classrooms. For instance, should students be allowed to work individually while utilizing the internet or should all internet use be as a group? A “curious” student is more likely to search inappropriate material while working alone. If he or she is part of a group, I would imagine that if one were to try and stray from the lesson material, the others would either make them stop themselves or grab the teachers attention. Boundaries are another important aspect to consider. Whether its violence, sexual or explicit language, not all parents have the same moral value on what is appropriate and inappropriate. Which means that more than likely the students idea of what’s inappropriate will also differ. The best thing to do is to encourage each student to decide on their own what their comfort level is and stick to it.

protect, educate, empower
Another aspect to consider is exactly how a teacher can prevent their students from stumbling on inappropriate content. Thankfully teachers will not have to face this challenge too often because under the Children’s Internet Protection Act, schools are required to use internet filters and implement other measures to protect children from harmful online content. However, children are becoming more and more clever and are finding ways around internet blockers. With this challenge, teachers should do what they do best and teach the students how to use the internet and what will be accepted or not. There are several ways to accomplish this. For example, teachers can set-up a list of appropriate websites in a “favorites” file and instruct the students to only visit those pages. Teachers should teach their students what to do if they happen to navigate to inappropriate areas of the web. They should also be sure that every students is aware and understands the schools policy on the deliberate viewing of inappropriate content and as well as the fact that all internet search content is stored on all internet devices. This not only serves for purposes of full disclosure, but hopefully will make the students stop and think of the consequences of their actions. Teachers are not only responsible to provide intellectual knowledge but also emotional knowledge to their students so that when posed with a challenge they are able to make the right decisions.

BP Fourteen

My Thoughts on the "Venspired" Blog by Krissy Venosdale...

krissy venosdale
Krissy Venosdale is the author of the “Venspired” blog. She started blogging as a way to reflect and push herself to think about her teaching techniques. She decided on the name “Venspired” because she is inspired by learning in her classroom. I had the recently had the opportunity to read a couple of post from her blog. Here are my thoughts…

In the first post, Mrs. Venosdale is discussing the resistance students sometimes have to taking risks. She feels it is important for students to step outside of their comfort zone and take chances. She also realizes that this thought applies to her and her teaching methods. For instance, she mentions trying Project Based Learning, and integrating new technologies in her classroom which are both outside of the normal for her, but worth the risk! I couldn’t agree with her more. My comment was that I too am a risk taker and that I also feel it is important for students to take risks because eventually they will be forced to do something different and may not do well. Taking risks are a huge part of learning and growing.

In the second post, Mrs. Venosdale is discussing the idea that students are not challenged enough to reach their potential. Students are “grouped” together with other students that may not be at the same educational level as them, and therefore in a way they are being held back. She feels it is important for students to set goals, sometimes even higher goals than they are comfortable with. The pride and confidence that will be achieved but reaching a goal that they initially didn’t think was possible far outweighs the fear! My response was that sadly most kids do not have parents or guardians who are involved enough with their children’s school life and therefore are unable to help their child reach their potential.

Project Five C4T-4 Summary

PBL Lesson Plan via SMARTboard Presentation...

Project Twelve Part B - Collaborative Assignment

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning from the Leaders...

In last weeks blog, we had the opportunity to watch several videos of Sir Ken Robinson from the prestigious TED Conferences. The speakers who are invited to the TED Conference are considered to be the leaders in their field and are well respected by their peers. We have each chosen a video to discuss. Here are our thoughts…

Khan Academy
Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education

Founded by Salman Khan, the Khan Academy is a fantastic tool that can be used in the classroom to boost students learning and allows them to go at their own pace. Khan spoke about the creation of the Khan Academy at the 2011 TED Conference in Long Beach, California. What started out to be a way for one cousin to help the other, turned into a multi-media, educational powerhouse used by millions of users each month.

So what exactly is the Khan Academy? Basically the Khan Academy is a resource tool with thousands of videos covering hundreds of topics. Teachers can create "subject" folders and invite students to participate in this unique learning experience. The site is integrated with a "gaming" type software that engages the interest of students and provides positive yet constructive feedback on their progress. Teachers are able to go in and see each students progress and address any issues the students are having on an individual basis. This advanced monitoring system also allows the teacher more time to address those problems areas instead of spending time on lessons that the students are grasping more quickly.

khan academy
One of the many great points that Khan pointed out in his video what his thought that often so many students are taught a lesson, then tested and receive a passing grade of 85%, and swiftly moved on to the next lesson. What about the 15% they didn't comprehend enough to answer correctly on the test? In response to this the developers at the Khan Academy decided to integrate the before mentioned "gaming" software. The "gaming" or "testing" area is used to gauge students comprehension. The students are given a series of 10 questions and when the students are able to correctly answer all 10 correct in a row, they are given "badges". This fun, rewarding system keeps the students excited about learning and entices them to do better in order to move forward and receive a specific badge. The students in essence are mastering a lesson while having fun!

How can this be applied in my classroom? I really like to idea Khan mentioned where teachers are assigning the video lessons as homework and the students are actively participating on lessons in the classroom. The "flip" allows the teacher more time to interact with the students and gets the classroom collaborating and helping one another. Something else I think would be a neat idea is to after each lesson, divide the students in groups and allow them to create their own lesson video and present it to the class. This could be a unique way to grade students on a variety of subjects and provides more valuable time learning more about the various "tech" tools they will be using.

When used as a tool in the classroom, the Khan Academy can be extremely useful and is certainly a site that I anticipate utilizing in my classroom.

Author: Hilliary Sanders

Shukla Bose
The video I chose was Teaching one child at a time by: Shukla Bose. Educating the poor is more than just a numbers game, says Shukla Bose. She tells the story of her groundbreaking Parikrma Humanity Foundation, which brings hope to India's slums by looking past the daunting statistics and focusing on treating each child as an individual.

We as united states citizens, live in a country where education is a right, not a privilege. Every child in the USA has an education, no matter if it is public or private. If you stop to think about it, some small percentage of the country might not get the education that we do. We constantly see that you must have a college degree or higher to even be competitive in the adult job world. Shukla Bose, is trying to provide this for the children of India and in the process, giving them and their families hope for the future.

Shukla Bose, made an excellent point, by saying that not all children get the proper upbringing or chance to foresee their future. Building these schools in the poor part of India will deeply increase the results for learning and a better future for these children. Ms. Bose created this idea and giving these children hope. They are going to be challenged and have the opportunity like every other child to go to college and become successful. Some of the mothers were interviewed and gave insight on the change the school had brought to their children. Most children thought they did not have a future and felt basically hopeless. Now the children believe in themselves, and know that they will have a future just like everyone else. Ms. Bose has given the parents opportunities to be involved with their children. Eighty percent of the parents are actively involved in the schools and want their children to learn and be successful. It really touched my heart, that these kids are able to go to school and gain so much knowledge and when they get home everyday teach their parents.

It is truly amazing that Ms.Bose has come such a long way with these kids in just a few years. Her ultimate challenge is to make her kids strong and competitive in the economy and give them some kind of backbone in the real world. She not only teaches her kids english but teaches them to shoot for the stars and reach for their dreams. By these children achieving their goal, maybe this will end poverty and ignorance that holds people in a state of hopelessness.

Author: Claire Williams

no bully
The video I chose to watch was Shane Koyczan: To This Day ... for the bullied and beautiful. His humorous and realistic approach to hopes and dreams was so captivating and moving. Even as a young adult, I can easily remember thing that classmates would say about me but thankfully, I was strong enough to know that no one else can determine my destiny but me. Koyczan’s spoken word poem addresses the reality of what children deal with on a daily basis. We often ask children what do they want to be what do they like, and what do they think but criticize and push our opinions on them. How can we tell student ‘you can be whatever you want to be’ but at the same time tell them, “that’s not what you want to do”, or “you can’t do that”. Especially as future educators we must always uplift and encourage students.

As a future educator, it just reminds me that children deal with bullying and tormenting in a different manner than adults do. The cruel and mean comments stick with children. For some, it may help motivate them and for others it could cause them to shut down and not try to achieve their goals and dreams. To hear positive encouraging words make a world of a difference. You must be mindful of the words you say to students and to help build their self-esteem.

I would encourage all of my colleagues to watch this video. While it doesn’t introduce new ways of teaching, it is an awesome reminder that bullying still exists, verbally and physically.

Author: Lauren Patterson

BP Thirteen - Collaborative Assignment

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gobble Gobble 'till you Wobble Thanksgiving Project

gobble till you wobble
In this Project Based Learning activity, students will be paired with a partner and together they will use a local grocery store advertisement to shop for food items to be served at their families Thanksgiving dinner. They will be given a budget of how much money can be spent at the store for their family dinner. They will be responsible for adding up the total cost of the meal and then determine the amount of change that they will receive. The students will be required to include at least one item from each food group based on the Food Pyramid diagram. They will then create a Google presentation to present to the class. Their presentation must include the Food Pyramid diagram, photos of the food items and a breakdown of the total amount spent. At the end of the presentations, the class will discuss each menu and vote on which meal sounds the best!

Gobble, Gobble 'till you Wobble Thanksgiving Project - Lesson Plan
Created By: Hilliary Sanders

Project Fifteen

Sir Ken Robinson...

sir ken robinsonSir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business. He is also one of the world’s leading speakers on these topics, with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been viewed more than 25 million times and seen by an estimated 250 million people in over 150 countries. His 2006 talk is the most viewed in TED’s history. In 2011 he was listed as “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine, and was ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders.

sir ken robinson
The Importance of Creativity

Is our educational system diminishing the individuality and creativity of its students? Sir Ken Robinson seems to think so! He believes we are providing an education for a future that we cannot grasps and feels that creativity should be as importance as literacy. Students should be praised for being different and thinking on their own, rather than being judged and grouped together based on standardized testing. I feel that I have a good understanding of the purpose of standardized testing; I also feel Sir Robinson has a point that creativity should be allowed to flourish, not be suppressed.

In his video, “The Importance of Creativity”, Sir Robinson shares a story about a woman who when she was a child in the 30’s, the educational system wrote a letter to her mother and suggested she had a learning disability because she could not concentrate and was extremely fidgety. Her mother took her to a specialist only to find out that she did not have a learning disability but rather was a brilliant mind that liked to dance and had to be moving to think. She became a very successful dancer who made a large fortune because of her creative ability to dance. More so today, doctors and specialist are quick to medicate children that are perceived to have a learning disability. Sadly enough, often times it is the parents who are requesting the medications because they do not understand nor have taken the time to get to know their children well enough and therefore become frustrated and no longer want to deal with a “hyper” child. I understand that there are some children who truly need to be on medications, but I tend to believe that there are alternatives to medications, such as specialized diets that limit the sugar and food coloring intake by children. There is no telling how many other brilliant minds doctors have suppressed for one reason or another. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the parents to make these types of decisions, but as an educator we should see each child’s individual potential and educate their “whole” being.

Another point that Sir Robinson mentions is how students are taught that making mistakes is the absolute worst possible thing. Now, I realize there are many different levels of “mistakes” and I’m certain he is referring to the low level, non-criminal sort of mistakes. We have to be cautious to not demean our students, but rather turn a mistake into a learning lesson. If students stay in constant fear of making a mistake, and therefore never make mistakes, how will they deal with the real world where it is inevitable that mistakes will be made? Students should feel comfortable and confident enough to know that when they do make a mistake that the right thing to do is to take responsibility for it, reflect on the issue, apologize if necessary and move forward. To simply state it, "If you are not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original” – Sir Ken Robinson

In my opinion, creativity plays a huge role in our students and who they will become. Each student is different and has different potential. It is our job as future educators to help find that potential and to see to it that each and every student grows and develops into someone who is smart, well-rounded, confident and eager to grow themselves.

Author: Hilliary Sanders

sir ken robinson
Changing Education Paradigms

In his video, "Changing Education Paradigms", Sir Ken Robinson asks the question, “How do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century? Given that we cannot anticipate what the economy will look like next week”.

I enjoyed this video very much. It opened up my eyes to how public education became what it is today. It is truly amazing at how much has changed over the years. They were trying to alienate the past and move on quickly to the future. The problem with this, is that it is alienating the students, and making them not want to even be in school. If you look at a few years back, people were to be educated from kindergarten to senior year, go to college, and get a career. This is the routine that has always happened, and now our kids do not believe this. The current system was designed and conceived for a different age.It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and in economic circumstance of the industrial revolution. These students are defined by academic and non academic categories. They believe that if they do not make good grades then they are not smart. So they are prescribed medications to calm them down. We are giving our students drugs to get them focused, and this is not the answer. We should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves. Ringing bells, divided subjects, age group, etc it is the same routine in every school but Sir Robinson asks why? Why put them together based on age?

Divergent Thinking is not Creativity, it is not a synonym; its the ability to see a lot of possibilities to a question. To be able to see multiple answers not just one. Divergent thinking is a great idea, it really involves the child creative wise, not just memorization. Sir Robinson tells a story about 1500 kindergarten children , who were given a test to measure divergent thinking. 98 percent of the children were put in the genus level. They continued giving this test to children as they got older, and the more students failed it. It really shows that as we get older our imagination and creativity with learning slowly fades. It really shows how students are learning and retaining information in the classroom daily. It really opens your eyes up to how it is going to be when i become a teacher.

Author: Claire Williams

sir ken robinson
How to Escape Education's Death Valley

I couldn’t help but laugh as I started watching Sir Ken Robinson's video, "How to Escape Educations Death Valley". Sir Robinson made the most valid points about today's educational system in a light, humorous, and very informative manner. Sir Robinson believes that there are 3 principles that the human mind flourish from.

The 3 Principles are:

1. Human beings are naturally different and diverse: Sir Robinson stated that NCLB is focused on conformity instead of diversity. While math and science are necessities, a good and sufficient education gives equal attention to each and every content area. Students will forever be different and it is important to celebrate each child's talents and allow them to excel.

2. Curiosity: Once a teacher sparks the curiosity in a student, they will learn without any further assistance. Sir Robinson believes that a great teacher passes on information but also provoke, stimulate, evoke, and mentor students. If there is no active learning happening in the classroom, there is no education. Teachers must peak students interest and really show them how to learn as opposed to focusing on testing.

3. Human life is inherently creative: Sir Robinson believes that one of educations roles is to awaken and develop students power of creativity. With all of the standardized testing being used, it is safe to say that education has been geared towards testing instead of using standardized tests to help students.

Moreover, Sir Robinson believes that leaders, namely teachers, should create a climate of possibility. It all starts with a great teacher that motivates, and encourages true learning and understanding to take place. For now, education appears to be in its own death valley but, education just needs a revolution.

Author: Lauren Patterson

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BP Twelve - Collaborative Assignment

Sunday, November 3, 2013

SMARTboard Basics...

Project Twelve from Hilliary Sanders on Vimeo.

Project Twelve

My Thoughts on the "Dangerously Irrelevant" Blog by Scott McLeod...

think outside the box, testing, less testing, more teaching
Scott McLeod is the author of the “Dangerously Irrelevant” Blog and currently serves as the Director of Innovation for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency in Iowa. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He states that his blog is, “intended to help resolve some of those incongruities for K-12 school leaders.” Mr. McLeod’s blog is certainly one of the most interesting blogs I have read so far this semester. His blog is full of clips and articles that are mostly written by educators or parents who are disappointed with the way the school system's in the respective area are being run. This blog certainly provided me with another perspective on standardized testing, and the diminishing of “originality” in the public school systems across the country.

In the first post, Mr. McLeod linked to an article written by Jack Schneider and Heather Curl who are questioning the “Policy Elites” and whether or not they feel the public school systems that they are reinforcing is good enough for their own children. Mr. Schneider and Ms. Curl feel that students should have less standardized testing and more time for “play and discovery”. They are concerned that the schools are cutting the arts from their curriculum to have more time to prepare students for testing. In my response, I reiterated the fact that my main focus as a future educator was to uphold and align my curriculum with the standards and policies set-forth by our Government and Public School Systems. However, I agreed that the arts is extremely valuable to every child because it allows their creativity and individuality to flourish, and therefore would be my responsibility to incorporate the arts into my lesson plans as much as possible.

In the second post, Mr. McLeod linked to an article written by Amy Prime who is a teacher from Iowa. In her article Mrs. Prime also writes that she is against all the standardized testing and would like to be able to get back to the basics of teaching. She also brings up the “Opt Out Movement” which I previously was not aware of. The movement basically gives the parents the option to “Opt Out” of standardized testing for their children. As a mother, she felt this was the best option for her own children so she opted out. In my response I indicated that I wished there was a “happy median” for this situation and that as a future educator it alarms me how more and more educators are trying to force changes to the national and state mandated standards.

Project Five C4T-3 Summary

Now here's a teacher that is thinking forward!

welcome to the new first grade
When you think of technology in the schools, you don't immediately think of technology being in a first grade classroom. Well, welcome to Kathy Cassidy is a first grade classroom! I recently had the pleasure of watching several interview videos in which she talked about her teaching methods and how she is incorporating technology in her classroom.

Kathy Cassidy is a first grade teacher from Moose Jaw, SK, Canada who is passionate about her students learning. She is dedicated to teaching her students skills that they will be able to utilize as they progress in school and on into their future careers. Mrs. Cassidy has been implementing the use of technology in her lesson plans for over 10 years. In her videos, she emphasizes the importance of protecting her students from inappropriate materials found on the internet. She also stresses the need for the parents to give consent for their child to use the internet. This is very important because Mrs. Cassidy opts to use web-based site opposed to expensive programs.

One of the web-based sites she likes her students to be familiar with and utilize is Blogger. Each student is taught how to create a Blogger site. The students are given time weekly to post on their blogs and view comments left by other students from around the world. This type of interaction is exciting to the students and keeps them interested in blogging. This is also a great conversation opportunity for parents who can read their child’s posts and comment on them. Mrs. Cassidy also encourages the uses Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

I particularly like the idea of using Blogger. The advantages of knowing how to set-up, maintain and post to Blogger not only teaches the students how to do it, but gives them valuable social skills that are critical to self esteem and personal growth. The only obstacle I see is not having enough PC, iPads, and such for our students to use. Because almost every child over the age of 4 has some sort of device with internet access, I think it would be a good idea for our school systems to allow our students to bring them to class with them. I know that the school systems are in the process of making devices readily available, but this is something that could be done in the meantime.

Mrs. Cassidy is certainly a someone that you would want to add to your PLN to keep a watch on. Her experience in using technology in the classroom is informative and is extremely valuable as the world continues its “forward thinking" progression.

"There's no such a thing as standing still, for the world is always moving; if you're standing still, you are being left behind." - Andres Lara

BP Eleven

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Comments-4-Kids | October Summary

government shutdown, global read aloud, out of my mind, mystical corn story
Continuing the C4K Series, I once again had the opportunity to read 4 more kid blog entries throughout the month of October...

The first week's blog was written Billy who is in Mrs. Ripp's 5th Grade class in Verona, Wisconsin. In his blog he discussed the Government Shutdown and expressed how devastated he felt that our Government wasn't going to pay our military. In my response I let him know that I thought this was an interesting topic for a 5th grader and I also felt dissatisfaction with the Government not paying the families of our countries fallen heroes. I also urged him to continue to keep up with the news on the shutdown, and have faith that our Government would eventually make things right.

Next was the blog entry of a 4th Grade student from British Columbia, Canada. In his blog, Andrew announced how excited he was to participate in the Global Real Aloud. The GRA is a project where students are read grade appropriate books and then have the opportunity to connect with students from around the world using the various media platforms such as Twitter, Wiki and Class Blogs. This is a fantastic project that was created by the same Mrs. Ripp's I mentioned earlier in the blog post. The book Andrew was reading was "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper. He was trying to relate how difficult it would be to be Melody and not be able to speak. In my response, I let him know how neat it was that his teacher, Mrs. Eppele, chose to participate in such a great collaborative experience and how great it was that he was so excited!

The third blog was by a student from Solon, Iowa. Jaxon is in Mrs. Schroeder's 4th Grade class. Although I couldn't confirm, I believe that Mrs. Schroeder also chose to participate in the Global Read Aloud (GRA) because Jaxon too was reading the book, "Out of My Mind". Jaxon wrote a sweet note to his mother thanking her for his jacket and keeping her up to date on what he was doing in class. My response to Jaxon was that it was great that he enjoyed reading and that it can be both rewarding and fun!

And finally, I had the pleasure of reading a magical story written by Josephine who is a 6th Grade student from Auckland, New Zealand. Josephine is in Mrs. Somerville's class. In her story, Josephine write of a farmer who wanted to have corn with his dinner so he went out to plant some magical seeds only to be trapped in a far off land by his arch nemesis. The farmer fights off his nemesis to return to home. In my response to Josephine I let her know that I thought her story was very interesting and that it is great to have such a great fun, adventurous imagination.

Project Six C4K-2 Summary

Technology in the Classrooms...

PROJECT TEN from Hilliary Sanders on Vimeo.

Project Ten

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Teaching and Learning, Randy Pausch Style...

quote by Randy Pausch
This memorial plaque with a quote from Dr. Randy Pausch was placed near the
Mad Tea Party attraction in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort
in his honor.  It reads, "Be good at something; it makes you valuable. Have
something to bring to the table,  because that will make you more welcome."
Dr. Randy Pausch was a valued professor at Carnegie-Mellon who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2008. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Pausch delivered his last lecture, appropriately titled "Randy Pausch's Last Lecture" to a house of more than 500 guests and fellow colleagues. In his lecture, Dr. Pausch gave an emotional recollection of his life growing up and shared his lifelong list of dreams.  To his credit, there where check marks next to each dream, albeit a modification or two. Throughout his lecture, it is clear that Dr. Pausch was extremely passionate about his profession. His unique Project Based Learning style provided a great way for him to relay that passion on to his students. He felt that Project Based Learning allowed his students to "Have fun while learning something hard", or if you will, a sort of "Edutainment."

Throughout his last lecture, Dr. Pausch spoke about the various collaborative projects he was fortunate to take part in. One of his more proud moments was his involvement with Disney Imagineering. After several failed attempts, he finally received the break he was looking for and began working directly with the Imagineers at Disney. I myself being fairly familiar with all things Disney understand the significance and honor of being an Imagineer. I feel that Dr. Pausch was making two points with this story, 1- Never give up on your dreams and 2- The importance to work collaboratively together and harmoniously with a group of like-minded individuals who all have the same goal. This thought process is easily relayed in our own classrooms. Teachers should encourage their students to follow their dreams and be diligent in perusing them. Teachers should also try to think outside the box and come up with fun PBL assignments that allow their students to work within a group. Group projects help to build strength and trust in others and allow the students minds to flow freely. All while learning something.

Dr. Pausch also mentions his experience with a pilot program he started at Carnegie-Mellon. In this class, the students were responsible for 4 VR (virtual reality) assignments. He didn't teach from books, but rather again with Project Based Learning assignments. Dr. Pausch goes on to mention how excited he was that on the first assignment, the entire class blew him away with their projects and how creative and advanced they all were. Delighted, yes! Perplexed, absolutely! He called on a colleague who basically told him that he needed to set the standard higher, that he started out too low. He was also encouraged to demand better from his students on the next project. This too is a lesson we can apply in our classrooms. We should constantly encourage our students to do their best and keep climbing the tree of knowledge and continue to learn. Also, at the end of each assignment, the students were asked to complete a survey that was relevant to their group members. This feedback is essential for students to reflect on their performances and make adjustments where they are needed.

One final point that Dr. Pausch made was the importance of parents, mentors and students working together. As the old saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child" well, it also takes a team of focused adults to help our children succeed. I feel that in the classroom, it is important to keep parents involved and informed. This allows some of the education responsibility to be given to them and in turn they are aware of what needs to happen, and will not allow their child to slack.

Dr. Randy Pausch's exhibited great resilience and determination throughout his life. His passion for education and teaching his students to follow their dreams and to never give up is what I consider to be the foundation of a successful student and positive attribute to future society. Dr. Pausch was focused, determined, methodical, thoughtful and above all successful. He truly was an inspiration.

BP Ten

Too Cute To Spook Halloween Writing and Show & Tell

In this Project Based Learning assignment, students will be placed in groups of three. Together they will choose 3 symbols of Halloween. The group will research their chosen symbols and write a one-page paper on each symbol and describe their origins, meanings and how each relate to Halloween. The group will then create a Google Presentation and include the information about the 3 symbols along with pictures. In addition to the paper and presentations, the group will be responsible to bring in 1 of the 3 chosen objects and create an illustration or dress in costume to represent the remaining 2 objects. On the final day, parents will be invited for the Too Cute To Spook Halloween Writing and Show & Tell presentations.

Too Cute To Spook Halloween Writing and Show & Tell - Lesson Plan
Created By: Hilliary Sanders

Project Fourteen

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Learning from each other...

learning is fun
Within the walls of a school, students should not be the only ones learning. In order to keep up with the ever evolving tools, programs and techniques used to teach students, teachers need to be in a constant state of learning themselves. Whether they are learning by browsing the web for new ideas, attending workshops or seminars, it doesn’t matter...as long as they are learning and growing! This is something that we as future educators need to keep in mind.

One of the great ways for teachers to learn is by connecting with their peers and finding out what is working for them, and applying it to their own classroom, as they see fit. This week, we had the opportunity to watch 3 videos made by teachers. In their videos, they are detailing what they are doing in their classrooms and describing how it is working for them.

Here is a summary of what we learned...

First we watched a video by Brian Crosby Back to the Future. Brian discusses his fourth grade class and everything that they have accomplished throughout the year. He talks about projects involving the community and making sure that it is technology sufficient. Brian believes that there is no narrow curriculum at all. Curriculums should expand and not be such a basic idea. Imagination and creativity should make up the majority of the teaching

The students were given an assignment called "High Altitude Balloon Project". The students were to pretend that they were the actual balloon and had to talk about their experience of being shot off and fired up. As a balloon, you had to describe every detail about what happened from the second you were on air, until you were way up in the sky. Brian said that the students had a great time doing this, and learned from it. They remembered everything, and were able to learn from each project their teacher made them do. It is so important to be able to provide projects like this as a teacher. Especially with fourth grade, their attention span doesn't last very long. Providing activity projects such as the Balloon project, or the air pressure from a coke can project, are great ways for students to successfully learn.

Brian Crosby talks about the Language Intense and what all students get from being active and independent learners. The students are able to...

  • Read and Write to Learn Content

  • Write to Clarify and Share

  • Write to Tell a story; Creativity and Imagination

  • Feedback

  • Articulate Orally

  • Connect Globally

  • Authentic Audience

  • Remember Audience

  • Remember the science, high hopes art

Brian discussed a lot about how active learning is the key. Empowering students to become independent learners and learn on their own. He is a great motivator as well as an educator to really get his students involved in their learning. He makes it fun and memorable.

Brian Crosby decided by using these projects, it helped his students learn to be independent learners. Technology has made a huge leap in the education world. A girl in the fourth grade class was very sick. She was not able to physically be in the classroom, but she still got her education. We were so enthused to see that Mr. Crosby let this little girl still attend his fourth grade class, but not actually be there. It was a very touching and great thing to do for a child who cannot do everything other kids can do. To be able to still get her education through the use of technology really shows us, that anything is possible through successful learning.

In the next video, Blended Learning Cycle, Paul Andersen, a teacher from Bozeman, Montana shows us how by utilizing his PLN (Personal Learning Network) he was able to come up with a new technique to use in his AP Biology class. The “Blended Classroom” is the idea of utilizing more online and mobile resources with the 5 E’s of the “Learning Cycle”; engage, explore, expand, explain and evaluate. Combined together, Mr. Andersen refers to this as “QUIVERS” which is an acronym for,

QU- Question
I - Investigate and Inquire
V - Video (podcast)
E - Elaboration
R - Review
S - Summary Quiz

In his classroom, Mr. Andersen prefers PBL (Project Based Learning) plans, so this “blended classroom” works well for his students. His unique approach to teaching provides his students with an alternate way to learn that peaks their interest and promotes their eagerness to learn.

The last video we viewed featured Mark Church, the author of Making Things Visible. Church presented a new topic to his class and asked them to create a headline based on what they thought of it. After teaching the topic in depth, he asked the class to re-evaluate their headline and to see if their opinion changed.

We all agree that Church did a wonderful job engaging his students in the new lesson by allowing them to pre-teach themselves and grow throughout the lesson. Also, going back and seeing how much more you know is always exciting and for students, it is fun to see whose prediction of a particular topic was mother most similar to the true facts.

Authors: Hilliary Sanders, Lauren Patterson, and Claire Williams

BP Nine - Collaborative Assignment

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom...

Technology is an essential part of everyday life for many people, including today’s students. It’s time to start incorporating technology in the classrooms, so we can help our students become more comfortable with using technology and keep them interested in learning.

Here are some great tools that can be used in the classroom...


Wiggio is an amazing site to use when working on assignments and projects collaboratively in groups. The makers of Wiggio decided to develop this program because they became frustrated with sending emails back and forth trying to collaborate, and it became very difficult to have meetings that were convenient for everyone due to their busy schedules or illnesses that wouldn’t allow them to physically meet. Wiggio was the answer to these problems!

Wiggio is a virtual meeting site where you can create and maintain projects. Group members have the ability to create and share documents, and upload additional files. The site was designed to be easy and straightforward, even for someone who is not computer savvy. Wiggio provides everything that you need to work productively in your groups, without having difficult unnecessary features. Wiggio is a solution offered by Desire2Learn, a global leader in cloud-based (SaaS) learning solutions. Desire2Learn enables clients to deliver a seamless, personalized experience using technology that inspires users to connect, collaborate, and engage in ways that reflect their unique needs. Also because Wiggio is web-based, collaborating is extremely convenient.

Wiggio would be a great way tool for students to use in the classroom. Students will learn how to collaborate, and learn how to do it on the computer. I think using this also in EDM310 would be very beneficial. Instead of having to meet in the lab every week, we could use Wiggio from the comfort of our homes.

Authors: Lauren Patterson, Hilliary Sanders and Claire Williams


As an educator, it is our responsibility to find new and fun way to engage our students; especially if you are teaching the higher grades in elementary schools. Most fourth through sixth grade students have very active “tech” lives outside of the classroom. These students are browsing the web, texting or using Skype to communicate with their friends and playing video games. They are bored with the typical classroom where the teacher presents their lesson, passes out worksheets for the students to complete, then administers tests to judge the students understanding. So what can we do to relate to this generation of students? One way is by utilizing new technologies in the classroom such as Socrative, which is a great tool for quizzing and testing students.

Socrative is a free web-based platform that can be accessed on any PC, iPad, iPod or Smartphone device with internet connection. Teachers have the flexibility to create either a custom True or False, multiple choice, short answer quiz or a quick quiz question announced out loud. The teachers can also group the students together and have a “Space Race” between the groups. Space Race is a fun way to engage the students, assess their understanding and help build communication skills through collaboration with other students. Immediate feedback will be sent to the teacher to so that the results can be recorded. There is also an “Exit Ticket” feature that allows the students time at the end of the day to reflect on what they have learned.

Another great aspect of Socrative is that the students are not required to sign-up for an account to participate. Each time a quiz is being administered, the teacher will be assigned a “Room Number” for the students to join. Also because Socrative is a web-based program, other than an internet ready device, no other equipment is needed.

Socrative is a great way to facilitate discussions and assess student learning. This easy and fun student response system is sure to grab the attention of your students and keep them interested and excited about learning.

Author: Hilliary Sanders


With all the extra paperwork, meetings, and workshops teachers have to juggle, any resource that helps them manage their time and still be an effective teacher is alright in my book. Edmodo is a safe social learning platform for teachers, students, and parents. Through Edmodo, teachers can post additional lessons, assignments, and quizzes for their class. They can also grade the assignments through Edmodo.

For the students, it is a great way to communicate with your classmates about assignments, or even just to share photos for fun. One upside is that students get the perks of "social media" but it is monitored by the classroom teacher. In addition, Edmodo is mobile phone friendly. Students can not only access Edmodo from iPads, smartphones, and tablets but they can receive notifications about updates that their teacher posts to the site. Parents also have the opportunity to access their child's classroom information through Edmodo. This is one innovative way to keep parents involved.

Edmodo is considered the Facebook of education and we all know how often users check in just to see what's going on. Edmodo practically can function in that same manner for students, parents and teachers. From getting clarification on an assignment, collaborating with fellow classmates, to checking grades, Edmodo should definitely be implemented in classrooms to keep everyone in the loop.

Author: Lauren Patterson


Popplet is a big pinboard you can put Popples onto. It takes graphic organizers into the digital age by allowing users to not only organize words, but they can link to pictures, YouTube videos and Google maps. Students remain engaged while organizing their content. Students and teachers can also collaborate on a Popplet by inventing other Popplet users to work on their projects.

Popplet is a great thing for students and teachers to have. This tool allows you to look up certain materials or items and get feedback on each subject. You can also post your own stuff on your own Popplet. It is very similar to Facebook and Twitter. I researched and Mrs.Pazos class is using Popplet for an assignment on world cultures. Each student must explore and explain the rights and duties of citizens. Popplet is a great tool to use for assignments such as these, because it involves students mentally and physically. The advantages of Popplet is that students can sign up without emails, and collaborate together. The disadvantage is that students can only make 5 total Popplets with one free account.

Popplet is a very useful and beneficial tool, and I think all students should give it a shot. As a future educator I will be using Popplet in my classroom. It is a very fun and easy tool for students to use. Collaborating is very important for students to get used too, because you work as a team with any job you get.

Author: Claire Williams

BP Eight - Collaborative Assignment

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Thoughts on the "Live the Conversation" Blog by Becky Georend...

Becky Georend is a 6th grade, Development and Communications teacher from Waukee, Iowa. She is also the author of the "Live the Conversation" Blog. I recently had the opportunity to read a few posts from her blog and here are my thoughts...

Turning it over to them - Success in the making!

“Too much social, not enough learning” is a common problem that many teachers deal with, including Mrs. Georend. To help solve the problem, she came up with a way to make the class accountable for their own actions. Here’s what she did:

  • First, she had the class help to identify the main areas of struggle – care and respect towards others, tasks and voice level.

  • Next, the class participated in creating a rubric to score their behaviors.

  • They then identified 3 key times in the day when students struggled the most.

  • And finally, two students were chosen daily to assess the class during the “struggle” times and report their assessments to the class.

sometimes the struggle, is what makes success even sweeter
And the end of the first week, Mrs. Georend compiled the data to have a starting point so the class could determine their goal. The class scored 65/144 which was below 50%. They decided that 50% would be their goal for the next week. And at the end of that week, the scores showed that the classroom behavior had improved to 78/144 - 54%!

Mrs. Georend admits there are still areas of struggle, however, the classes behavior overall has improved. With students assessing each other, they receive an honest reflection about their behavior. When faced with judgment by their peers, students typically behave better. Turning the responsibility over to the students makes them accountable for their own actions and a sense of responsibility also helps to build valuable self-esteem.

“Flipping the responsibility” is a great way to get students involved and tackles classroom behavior issues at the same time. I particularly like the idea of letting the class set their own goal. That way, they have no one but themselves to blame for not reaching the goal. I really like this idea and it is definitely something I would like to someday incorporate in my own classroom.

My Comment:
What a great idea! I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama, College of Education" and I plan to use a similar technique in my classroom. Such a cool way to get the students involved and held accountable for their actions.

The Checklist

In college, rubrics are an educational standard in many classes. At times, rubrics can be tricky, even for a college student; so I can imagine the confusing and frustration younger students may feel. For her 6th grade students, Mrs. Georend came up with a great way to eliminate those fears by creating various checklists for her students to use with writing assignments. In her blog, "The Checklist" Mrs. Georend describes how she held "mini-sessions" with her students and referenced mentor text to assist them in creating the checklists.

self assessment checklist
For their first writing assignment, which was a Personal Narrative, Mrs. Georend used the checklist instead of a rubric to assess her student’s pieces. Unfortunately, the checklist didn't help to produce the quality writing she had hoped for. So for their next writing assignment, a book and movie review, Mrs. Georend decided to make the checklist a "self-assessment checklist" and allow the students to use the checklist and assess their pieces prior to turning in their final drafts. BINGO...it worked, their writing quality was much better! An additional thought that she noted was that even though the students had the ability to fix their errors, some were in too much of a rush, and didn't take the time to fix it. We need to encourage our students to take the time, and turn in their best work possible. As invested as Mrs. Georend is to her students, I'm sure she did just that!

Yet another great idea by Mrs. Georend! She is obviously a teacher who genuinely cares about her students and wants to see them succeed. She does a great job at finding ways to engage her students and keep them involved. It is refreshing to see a teacher willing to write in a public forum, and admit they have found a flaw in their ideas and readily corrects it, like Mrs. Georend does. We can all learn from each other’s mistakes. It's all about learning, growing and moving forward.

My Comment:
It's always good when we can come up with an idea that will help to keep the students engaged and excited about learning. Rubrics can sometimes be overwhelming and the ease of the checklist helps to eliminate any confusion.

Project Five C4T-2 Summary

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Welcome to the "Little-Bit-of-Everything" Post....

project based learning
Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher

After listening to Anthony Capps conversations, in his Project Based Learning Videos Part 1 and Part 2, it is clear that Project Based Learning is the key to successful teaching and fun learning. He talked about several projects that he did with his class that really gets you thinking. Doing these projects showed each student what they have achieved, but also what they’ve learned. One of the projects, the students had to write letters to Congressman, Joe Bonner. They wanted to give their opinions as to how they felt about women being allowed to fight in combat. The kids were so excited to do this project. Some students had family members in the military, so they each could connect in a special way. This project made the students feel involved and accomplished. The projects Anthony chooses for his 3rd grade class are great projects that we could use as teachers. The students have fun, they want to learn, and they go home feeling achieved and happy. Project Based Learning is a learning and planning experience. It takes a lot of work but, in the end, you come out successful. Not all projects are perfect, but you as a person feel successful. You can always improve to become better.

learning cycle
In another video, Anthony also discussed iCurio, and how much he uses it in his classroom. It allows students to safely search websites pulled from online. Whether it is pictures, audio, video etc., iCurio allows teachers and students to store content they find valuable. Students using iCurio will get used to making folders and completing assignments online. This is also a great way to keep the students organized. iCurio is kid friendly, and having this in classrooms will be a great use. Students will learn how to be technology sufficient and gain knowledge each day. Anthony did yet another video about Discovery Education, which is another website that he uses with his students. Discover Education deals with science and social studies. Students used this when discovering many things, such as plants and people in history. As a teacher you are bringing these texts to life, and making the students feel like they are in the book. Students see it and watch it in progress, and most kids would rather be watchers compared to reading and writing.

The videos we watched were very helpful, and gave many good tips to our future teaching. We believe that everything he talked about will really help us in our own classrooms. Project Based Learning, iCurio and Discovery Education are great ways to benefit kid’s lives and make sure each child gets the attention they deserve. With Project Based Learning students have a better chance of becoming successful, as well as better learners and observers.

Authors: Lauren Patterson, Hilliary Sanders and Claire Williams

teachers are learners too
The "Anthony - Strange" List of Tips for Teachers

Anthony Capps is a former student of Dr. Strange in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. Anthony is now a 3rd grade teacher at Gulf Shores Elementary School. The duo discusses several important aspects of being an educator in the "Anthony-Strange list of Tips for Teachers" video.

Before we move to the list, I think it's important to mention that Anthony Capps is not your ordinary elementary school teacher. In Capps' classroom, he is using technology to assist his students with many of their assignments. He incorporates the use of iCurio and Discovery Education in his Project Based Learning lessons. His style of teaching accomplishes many things including keeping the students engaged by using tools they find interesting and fun while growing their ability to collaborate successfully. His teaching style is the new 21st century classroom! As mentioned earlier, Dr. Strange is an Educational Media Instructor at the University of South Alabama. His vast knowledge of the wide array of tech tools and programs for the classroom is invaluable. These two are definitely on top (and ahead) of the game. For these reason, any advice offered from these gentlemen should be taken, and applied in your own classroom.

Now, the list…

Be a constant learner yourself
Part of being an educator is to not only teach lessons, and classroom standards, but also to be a positive role model for your students and others around you. If we are interested in learning, they will notice and hopefully be interested themselves. It is clear that the methods of teaching are evolving, and we must keep up. We must continue to learn new techniques and programs and come up with our own new ideas on how to incorporate it all in the classroom.

Teaching never ends, It is hard work...But very rewarding
Anything worthwhile, is worth the time. We all want our students to learn and succeed so they can be productive and valuable members of society. In order to help them succeed, we must take steps to make ourselves valuable. One way to do that is by seeing teaching as not only a job, but as a hobby. By doing this, we spend much of our personal time working on our “craft” and growing our techniques and ideas for the classroom. Our efforts will pay off when we see that our students are growing and learning.

Be Flexible...The unexpected will happen!
The idea behind this tip is to to be flexible by having a back-up plan. Things may not always go as planned, and you do not want to be caught off guard. So when creating your lesson plans, make sure you think of everything. This would be especially true if you plan to use computers, iPads and such as learning tools in the classroom. Say the school lost power and/or internet connection, what would you do? It’s never a bad idea to have an alternate plan, just in case.

Start with a Goal
I’m sure every teacher starts the school year with boosting themselves up, and giving themselves a pep talk about how this year is going to be the best and every student is going to do well and pass on to the next grade level. This should be every teacher’s goal. But how do you guarantee this happens? Kids like to have fun, so make learning fun for them. Find new unique ways to keep the students engaged, and eager to learn. For instance, using podcast is a easy and simple way for students to listen to a lesson, and yet it seems fun to them. It somewhat relates to back to their second tip, on how we are to make teaching more fun for ourselves. If you are having fun, it doesn’t feel like you are learning.

Engage 100% of your Students, 100% of the Time, in 100% of Their Projects
It is important to keep students interested in learning. This can be accomplished by making learning fun to them. One way to do this is by using programs such as iCurio and Discovery Education. These sites are safe for use in the classrooms and offer new, unique ways for the students to learn. In particular, Discovery Education offer interactive books, which makes reading fun. You can also engage your students by challenging them to find fun and interesting facts about another country by using iCurio. Students typically thrive on order and routine, so it is very important to be consistent. Try to always incorporate these types of learning tools in every assignment. Remember, if you are having fun, it doesn't feel like you are working and learning. So make it fun!>

Reflect, Revise and Share your work with an audience
Their last tip is probably the most important one of all. Being a teacher takes a lot of time, and we must also have it in our minds to do our best and produce the best learning environment for our students. We take the time to create great lesson plans, and decorate the perfect classroom, so it shouldn’t be difficult to take the time to step back and reflect on what we have done, to see if there is room for improvement. There may not be any need to improve, but taking the time to observe and reflect will keep your mind growing for the next phase.

This list has certainly been insightful and very useful. The main idea that I take away from this list is that we should always strive to be the best all around teacher possible. Be the teacher that inspires her students to want to learn, because she exhibited a learning spirit. Be a teacher that is resourceful and knowledgeable. And finally be the teacher that your students will want to come back and visit, or one day write about on their personal blog because you were their inspiration.

Author: Hilliary Sanders

project based learning
Additional Thoughts About Lessons by:Anthony Capps

A lesson, provides framework that guides class instruction. It is based on student needs in terms of the curriculum, and unit of instruction. Lessons often reflect the interests and needs of individual students. Anthony Capps added his additional thought about lesson plans. They must be made up of four components in terms of being four layers thick. Being a teacher, you must be able to come up with a year plan, unit plan, week plan and daily lesson plan. When you think about it, it seems tough, but it helps you stay extremely organized and prepared. Lessons not only help the teacher stay organized, but it helps the student as well. Students can prepare what they have learned over the course of time, as well as gain knowledge.

With the year plan, you must think about how it fits in with your entire school year. This is extremely important and crucial because you have to make sure that it fits in perfectly with everything you do. The unit plan is the second layer. It is for devising projects, hands on activities, group projects etc. You must start with an aspect or approach. You cannot rush the unit and say “We are going to learn this today, and you must know all of it by tomorrow”. Rushing is not the key, You must casually progress it overtime. When the students start with an aspect they should be able to master the outcome in 6 to 8 weeks. The third layer is the week plan. Several questions come about with this. How are you devising your week to get everything done? Are you going to get the goal for the week done? What is your Monday through Friday goal? The fourth layer is the daily lesson plan. The daily lesson is something you do daily with each child. Delivering to your students, you must get their attention properly and have them engaged in their learning. Having something afterwards, to see what they have learned, and to where you can pick up the day. If not you will not be successful in lesson planning period.

The four components we have here, are very crucial in having an effective teaching method. Without these four components, teachers would be out of sorts, and wouldn't have a clue of where to begin. Anthony Capps did a wonderful job explaining the lesson in layers. It is like an onion, you peel one layer after another. The four ideas are a fantastic way to have a phenomenal lesson in your classroom. As a future teacher, I will be using this method in my teaching.

Author: Claire Williams

learn teach tech
Don't Teach Tech. - Use it

In the video of Anthony Capps, he made it plain and clear that teachers should use technology in their classrooms. I can definitely say I'm hesitant when it comes to incorporating new ideas and components simply because there's a chance that students may not understand. Anthony made a very good point in saying that we should not teach technology to our students. Instead, we should just allow them to use it. Don't get the wrong idea though. Yes you have to give the students directions but, setting aside 30 minutes a day to teach students how to work a program isn't necessary. Using technology comes natural to just about every child so inadvertently , they will be able to navigate through websites and programs without a great deal of prior knowledge.

Moreover, Anthony reminds us to scaffold the information we give our students and to build upon the prior skills they've already learned. You can't expect our students to produce a perfect product the first try but the following week, they can perfect the previously learned skill and add on the new component.

All in all, Anthony made some very valid points during his video and it's great confirmation for apprehensive individuals like myself that students will be able to grasp on to the new and innovative ways to learn and they will be excited to do so.

Author: Lauren Patterson

BP Seven - Collaborative Assignment