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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