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, September 29, 2013

So, the questions are...

get your brain in gear
One of the most important aspects of our job as educators will be making sure our students are learning and growing in knowledge. There are many techniques used to judge whether the students are learning; mainly through testing. However, a very simple way to discover if your students are comprehending what you are teaching is to ask questions. Now, I say this is simple, but in order for it to be simple a little beforehand preparation is required. 

Ben Johnson, who is a High School Principal, Author and Instructional Learning Coach, wrote a great article "The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom" for Edutopia.com. In his article he points out the many misuses of questioning in the classroom. Often times teachers ask a blanket question and are not detailed enough to get an accurate response from the students. Questions should have purpose and should be clear enough that the students understand and can provide the best answer. Here is where the beforehand preparation comes in. Not every teacher is good at "off the cuff" questioning. It's best if when we are preparing our lesson plans, that we write down several in depth questions for our students to answer either in class or the next day. Keep in mind that the questions needs to be relevant to your subject, and should get the students thinking. One of the worst questions a teacher could ask is "Do you understand?" Let's be real, not every student is going to answer this honestly. Most are just trying to hurry and be done with class. And if you aren't getting an accurate response, the question serves no purpose. So don't go easy, and make them use their brain by asking thought provoking questions.

Another key factor to keep in mind when asking questions is that delivery matters! I'm sure at some point we have all seen the scene "Bueller...Bueller...Bueller" from the movie Farris Bueller's Day Off. This is the perfect example of how NOT to ask a question. The teacher asks the question and almost immediately answers the question himself. No encouragement to answer the question was given to the students other than the prototypical "anyone, anyone, anyone". Not one of the students anticipated or was even expected to answer the question. Asking questions should be included in every lesson plan in the appropriate way. Several great tips can be found in The Teaching Center section of the Washington University in St. Louis' website. Many of the tips I plan to incorporate in my classroom. For instance, asking too many questions at one time may be confusing and the students will not respond since they are unsure which question you want them to answer. Also, I plan to allow the students to ask me questions. Children have a unique way of thinking about things and have the potential to provide an alternative view point I may have never considered. Who knows, they may teach me something!

equity sticks
Another idea I plan to implement in my classroom as a great way to keep students involved will be using equity sticks. Using equity sticks in the classroom ensures that every student has the opportunity to participate and therefore prevent the same student answering every question. Equity sticks are basically, popsicle sticks with students' names on them. When a question is asked, the teacher can pull a stick and that student will have to answer the question. Since the students do not know who will have to answer the question, they will all start thinking of the answer. So that if their stick is the one drawn, they will already have an answer in mind. This gets their "gears" moving and keeps them on their toes.

never stop asking questions
So, the questions are...

What questions do we ask?
We ask questions that are thorough, clear and have a purpose. When the right question is answered, it will help us judge our students understanding and will entice them to learn.

How do we ask a good question?
1. Don't overwhelm the students with lots of questions, be specific.
2. Have good delivery. Pause...give the students time to think about their answer.
3. Be creative! Find fun ways to ask questions and keep the students interested.

BP Six

Where The Wild Things Are...

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE from Hilliary Sanders on Vimeo.

Project Eight

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why Podcast?

...Because listening is so much more fun!

In today's society it is common to see people walking around with ear buds. What are they listening to? Typically music, but it may surprise you how often they are actually listening to one of their favorite podcast. Podcasting has become a very popular media outlet. Simply because of the ease and listening flexibility it provides the listeners. Most podcast are available for download and often times are free.

Teachers can benefit greatly from podcast; especially in their classroom listening stations. This listening alternative provides a switch up for students, who are mostly consumed with readings. The action of putting on headphones and listening to stories or lessons seems fun for elementary aged students and therefore becomes a great motivator. With the popularity of podcast on the rise, more and more topics are now available.

As teachers, we are responsible for our students educations...by any means necessary!  Podcasting can be a great asset and learning tool for the classroom.

Motivation + Learning = Success!

universal widget for podcast
Because listening is so much more fun...

BP Four

Project Based Learning in conjunction with ACCRS

Project Three - Presentation

My Thoughts on the “Ideas and Thoughts” Blog by Dean Sheraski…

thoughts and ideas
As a future educator, I often times finding myself wondering what my future job will be like. I think about the principal, the other teachers, the students and how I will decorate my classroom. That’s pretty normal right? Apart from the relationship you have with your students, I believe the most important relationship will be the one between you and your boss, the principal. Even though Mr. Dean Shareski is not a principal, I believe he certainly would make an excellent one!

I recently read a post from his personal weblog, “Ideas and Thoughts” in which he eloquently presented what he referred to as the ideal “Back to School Speech”. Mr. Shareski basically said everything an educator dreams of hearing from their school leaders. While the entire speech is one of promoting good will and harmonious environments, it was his first comment that resonated with me. He started off by saying. “I don’t want to keep you long because I know you have a great many things to do in the preparation for the upcoming school year but I did want to be sure to share what’s on my mind”. This reads to me as a leader who acknowledges the pressures teachers are under, and by expresses his wishes for not wanting to take up too much of their valuable time tells me that he cares and wants to help in any way. No matter how small. I feel that above all, understanding is we are looking for, and if we have the privilege of working for someone who ultimately and completely understands, then we have hit the jackpot!

My Comment:
What an awesome speech to kick off the new school year! I hope that one day I will have the privilege of working for an administrator who cares so much about their teaching staff. What a great motivator!

I also had the opportunity to read another post in which he discussed the benefits of allowing more free time to employers and students to work on things that matter to them. He also discussed the ever growing advantages of technology and how it can provide better results by allowing employers to work from home. While I personally enjoy free time, I’m not convinced more free time for students is a good thing.

Since the day I turned 18 years old, I have worked a full-time office job. I started out as a Teller then a Personal Banker at a local bank. I worked there for five years before starting at my current job at a Real Estate office, which I have been at for eleven years. I have become somewhat accustomed to working in an “office” environment. While I am at work, I am more focused and therefore get more accomplished. While I have tried many times to work from home, I typically find I am distracted and sleepy. I realized I am the type that craves structure, and apparently I am also a creature of habit. If I have work to do, I need to be in the office, at my desk with a cup of coffee. If I need personal time, I will be at home, on my comfy couch with a glass of sweet tea! I understand the concept of working from home is extremely successful for many; it’s just not for me.

The other part of his post focused on allowing more free time for students. I understand that a lot of elementary aged children participate in park athletics and other extracurricular activities. For the most part, these type activities are set up where practices and games are after school and/or on the weekends. So how much more free time do they need? Do they have business to take care of or booming social lives? I don’t think so. If anything it would be the parents who need the additional free time. I believe that children thrive on structure and on routines. It allows them to know what they are supposed to be doing and in some was helps to build confidence.

Even though I do not agree with everything he writes, Mr. Shareski seems to be a thoughtful man, and sincerely cares about people and promoting happy work environments.

My Comment:
I have held a full-time job since the day I turned 18. I have become accustomed to an "office" working environment. While I have tried many times to work from home, It just doesn't work for me. While I am at work, I am more focused and get a great deal more accomplished opposed to when I try unsuccessfully to work from home. When I try to work from home I become very distracted by the house chores I could be doing. I have tried really hard to just sit in my office and focus....it doesn't help. I believe it is because my personality craves structure. I also an not convinced that more free time for students is a good thing. I believe children too thrive in structured environments and on routines.

Mr. Shareski's Response:
You just described an environment where you thrive. If you've not worked in a school, it's hard to understand just how oppressive time can be. I'm not suggested there be no structure but part of giving people time means giving them freedom to work on things that matter to them, when the want to. It can be in small does but at some point, as human beings we need that. Yes, children and adults need structure and routines but in many cases that structure and routine has gone from being helpful to being harmful. That's what I'm advocating to change.

Project Five C4T-1 Summary

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Compliments, Suggestions and Corrections...

the more eyes, the better
It’s the dreaded task that most people cringe over...including me! Peer editing is the task of reviewing your fellow peers work and offering constructive criticism, corrections and suggestions. The process can be extremely valuable for both the writer and the peer. However, if the delivery and reception are not handled in a mature, good spirited way it will not be effective and beneficial for anyone.

Everyone's personalities are different and we do not all “speak the same language”. Therefore it is crucial to be kind and remain positive. Do you remember the Golden Rule? It states, "Do unto others, as you would have done unto you". Keep this in mind. It will help you relay your thoughts in a positive and constructive way. Critiquing in a negative way is unnecessary and can create ill feelings.

When you are reviewing the work of a peer, try to be as detailed and specific as possible. That way your suggestions are clear to the writer and can easily be corrected. If you find that a lot of corrections need to be made, start off with a compliment, and then ease into the tough stuff. This always helps! One last thing to keep in mind is that your ultimate goal is to assist your peer and help them improve. So when you are reviewing a blog post and you notice spelling errors or think they could use better word choice, don’t hesitate, and tell them! After all, you are doing them a favor.

For a little laugh, be sure to watch this video on peer editing.

BP Three

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dance Class...Not So Much!

Mr. Dancelot, have you seen it? To understand the craziness we are discussing, you must watch this video.


Odd, right? We all agree that this video is certainly strange. Our main question was “How, and why in the world would a professor think teaching a dance class in this manner would be beneficial and effective?” The teacher made several mistakes in this video. He did not know the material or how to teach it properly. There were several mistakes, mainly unprofessional teaching skills. There are a lot of teachers that eat, sleep, and breathe powerpoints and are truly convinced that the students are being taught. In certain content areas, powerpoint presentations are appropriate but in this case, a dance class should be hands on. The teacher verbally taught the students how to move with diagrams and note taking, which is pointless! When you think of dance class, you think of music, beats, and rhythm. Dance class is meant to be a physical sport, not verbal. Learning to dance takes practice and time. By not demonstrating the dance, the students were unable to retain any of it. You have to literally be involved. The students were unable to understand the concept of the Foxtrot, because you have to be practicing and moving in order to learn the dance. There is no way that the students in this class could possibly grasp every concept without being able to visually see how the moves are done as well as practicing. The class would have been more successful and the students would have had a better chance at making a good grade if the professor's teaching method were different. 

 We realize this video was an exaggeration. So we have to stop and think, What is the point of this video?” We concluded that the point is that as an educator, you are responsible for determining the best way to engage your students and help them succeed. If you are not presenting lessons in an effective manner, not only will your students fail, it will be your fault! 

Flipping the Classroom - 4th Grade STEM

Flipping the Classroom

Let’s face it, the world as we know it is constantly changing. With the implosion of Apple products, most are changing their cell phones and laptops annually to get the latest and greatest. Whereas in the past, you would upgrade these devices every 2 - 4 years. Technology is taking over and we can either get onboard, or stand still and fall behind.

I recently watched a video about a school system that is thinking forward, and utilizing technology to assist in the classrooms. Sure we all know most classrooms have Smart Boards and computers, and in some cases iPods and iPads. But its not only what they are planning to use, but how they are going to use it. Flipping the Classroom is a project that takes the classroom home. Initially, the only subject will be math. With plans to add other subjects provided, the students will respond well to this new program. Here’s how it will work. From the comfort of home, the students will have the ability to review the following days classroom work. They will have reading materials, problems to solve, and will be asked to come to class prepared, and ready to ask questions. The idea is to prepare the students ahead of time so that teachers can focus more on advanced learning. 

Sounds great, right? Possibly. In theory, this is a sensational idea; provided every student has access to a computer and was disciplined enough and/or had the support of parents to make sure they completed the assignments. Unfortunately, this is not the case in every home in America. In many cases, elementary aged students are home with older siblings while their parent(s) work. And while I’m not 100% certain it couldn’t work out to where the older siblings are helping their kid siblings, it’s very doubtful. Considering they will more than likely have homework of their own to complete.  Add to that the fact that not every student has access to a computer with internet, and you have the core foundations of the program crumbling. The program did allow time for the students to complete the assignments at the beginning of the school day, but to me that defeats the purpose. 

With a little more planning and working through the logistics, I feel this program has the potential to be a fantastic learning experience for students. The time a program like this will free up for the teachers so they can focus more on other aspects of teaching and learning is invaluable. Forward thinking…..the future depends on it!

The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler written by Claire Williams

the well connected student
I watched a video called The Network Student. The 21st century high school student is studying American Psychology in his Contemporary Issues class. He attends class three days and the remainder is done online. The student does not have a textbook and does most of his work online. The teacher rarely lectures in class and when they do, the students are taught how to utilize social networking. The entire video educates one on connectivism. Connectivism is a learning theory which emphasizes the role of social and cultural context. The student uses a personal learning network to research and find sources of information for this topic. He also uses social bookmarking which enables students to edit, add and share bookmarks of documents; Blogs to read peoples opinions, and get ideas as well as audio and video podcasts that require the student to listen or watch things on the topic presented. 

The outcome for the 21st century high school is going to change most of the learning and teaching. Wendy Drexler points out in the video that technology is becoming the basis of education. The 21st century high school student network has a wide range of connections, and is presenting ideas as well as new opportunities. Information management is collecting and distributing information to one or more places. RSS solves problems for people who use the web. It helps you stay aware and gets information on the latest content from the websites you are interested in. Synchronizing communication tools is where you can connect with people at the same time anywhere. Contacts meaning you can access new contacts as well as the ones you already have. Which EDM310 is very similar to this video I watched. It teaches you how to be an independent learner, find information on your own, and learn how to be technology sufficient. 

The question is though why does the networked student even need a teacher? The student needs a teacher for many reasons. The teacher will provide guidance when needed. Show the student how to properly build a network, and motivate the student to learn new things. Teachers will also show the student how to properly communicate with other people, and help the student demonstrate between good information and bad. After watching this video I realized that having a teacher is not only a good idea, but a safe idea. Technology is valid but not always reliable. Sometimes technology will have its faults. Power issues could occur, or their could be a crash in the system. I think that their needs to be a teacher, because without the technology there would be no way the student could learn or be educated. 

A teacher is their not only to educate students, but to be there for questions that need answered. They are the building blocks of learning, giving students the determination and ability to learn new ideas. 

 Author: Claire Williams 

Teaching in the 21st Century 

WOW! This video, Teaching in the 21st Century, made the most valid points in regards to teaching students today. Roberts believes that teaching in the 21st century should be more about ENGAGING students than ENTERTAINING them and once they are engaged they are bound to enjoy what they are doing. With the all of the new emerging devices and expansions in technology, teachers have no option but to educate themselves and keep up with the trends. One thing Roberts said in the video was as teachers we are the filter. In essence, we have to justify, correct, and validate facts and stories that children hear via internet, social media, and magazines. I think we’re all guilty of immediately going to ‘Mr. KnowItAll’, Google, for answers. Whether it’s for school work, defining a term, or looking up symptoms, google has an answer. 

In essence, Roberts says that in order to be an effective teacher today, you must be able to keep up with the way children learn but who says it has to be filled with gadgets and gizmos and every electronic device we can get our hands on? The same way teachers have gained control of their classes with electronics is the same way they can control their class with a textbook. It is all about presentation. 

As an educator, I will always try new and innovative ways to effectively teach my students and there are a million and one ways to help children understand concepts whether its from short clips online, manipulatives, interactive games or traditional flash cards & worksheets, I will find a way to reach every child.

Harness Your Students Digital Smarts 

The video Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts,was a interesting video on technology and how teaching is changing yearly. The world changes dramatically every year. More things are coming for electronic and through computers. Everything we do now is used through the internet. If you’re going to be involved in today’s world get with the program and join the internet a little more. Technology is a big part of the world and changes yearly. 

Teaching children through the web is such a great idea, it’s not only keeping children up to date and teaching learn the computer system a lot easier, it’s helping improve their grades, it’s hard to leave a child behind through internet. If they have a question, they can email you right then and there. The smallest things matters, such as that simple email about a question. It’s a good way to keep children close their teacher/professor. Pencil and pen gets old and you can easily use it, emails are always there, and you can even see what time they submit it. The blogging is even much better. Blogging is a good way to communicate and keep up with everyone, not only for school work but for any sort of communicating. I believe teaching through blogs and emails makes it 10 times easier on children and the teachers. Of course teachers are needed still thought this internet teaching, students need guidance and reinsurances. Students need to be pushed and motivated as much as possible. It’s the teachers responsibility to teach a student and make sure they get the information they are suppose to get. Every teacher has their unique way to teach, be creative is a good thing and helps out in many ways. 

 Author: Katie Nelson

BP Two - Collaborative Assignment