Saturday, April 28, 2012

This I Believe... Video Reflection

We were asked to make a video about what we believe in pertaining to teaching, learning, and education. I wrote mine about a current situation that I was experiencing through the eyes of my visually impaired sister. Jessica was experiencing some problems with a teacher adapting to her learning style and I reflected on the fact that I believe teachers need to format their classroom to fit their students learning styles and not force their students to conform their teaching styles.

Through this project, I discovered exactly what type of teacher I wanted to be. I want to be the teacher that encourages their students to learn; that does the best she can to help them experience new ways of learning; and teach the class that students' can't wait to come to and don't want to leave. This project made me reflect on my own experiences in my favorite classes. And it made me think that I want to be just like some of my favorite teachers. Ironically, all my favorite teachers taught history classes, just like I will. I also discovered, that through the experiences in my favorite history classes, I was being taught how to teach. I know that I want to have interactive classrooms just like my favorite teachers had and I want my students to love learning. I learned a whole lot more than I thought I ever had in those humanities classes. Not only did I learn the material, but I learned exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

And not only did I discover a lot about myself and why I want to become a teacher in the first place, but I also had a lot of fun doing it. I use Windows Live Movie Maker alot to make videos for my friends. I usually pick a song that remind me of them and some pictures to go along with it and create a fun video of them, but this time the video was for school. And although it wasn't as fun as making music videos for my besties, it had its perks. I got to learn about myself while doing it as well as make something that I love to make.

It was actually in my English class, which was also taught by my favorite History teacher in Junior High School, that I was introduced to Movie Maker. The project was to create a movie with music that describes you and pictures. It was supposed to be a way to get to know everyone in the classroom, during the first few weeks of school. I remember sitting there, watching everyone's videos and thinking how cool it was to see people through their own eyes. Now, I think I'd love to do the same thing in my classroom. Not only is it fun, but it is an easy way to get to know people ... as they see themselves. And it beats doing icebreakers all the time.

I loved this project. I got to know who I am, who I want to be, all while I was creating something that I loved to do in my free time. BEST PROJECT EVER!

Give me an O. Give me a E. Give me an R. What does that spell? OER!


Three simple letters that can mean so much to teachers, students, and learners. OERs or "Open Educational Resources" include such things as books, syllabi, podcasts, and several other varieties of learning tools that can be used with ease by teachers, students, and learners. Teachers can use them instead of expensive textbooks or in addition to the materials that they use in class. iTunes U, which has a variety of materials, such as podcasts, could be used by the teacher and students to read a book, listen to a lecture, etc.

They are valuable tools and can be used in multiple ways. But they don't have to be used just within the classroom; they can be used outside the classroom for additional homework or just for fun. Personally, I love the ability to listen to my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, via a free podcast rather than buying the audio book. It's more cost-effective. In classrooms, teachers can allow their students to read along to books while listening to these free podcasts. Another thing that is valuable to both teachers, students, and learners, is accessing syllabi online. Although this might help the teachers more because they can pick and choose what aspects of other classroom's that they want to use, their students can access this syllabus anytime online.

Other than just these two resources, I found many other things that OERs can be used for. On the OER Commons Website, I found many other posts by teachers that allow for their colleagues to gather ideas from. Gamesways to set your classroom environmentideas how to use group work in the classroom, etc. can all be explored on this website. There are so many ways for teachers, students, and learners to use OERs and I can say that I would like to use them not only in my future classroom, but also in the classes that I'm taking today. They provide variety and new ideas for all three groups of people. Therefore, they are very valuable tools!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adapting to Your Situation... This I Believe

My sister, Jessica, one of the most remarkable freshmen that I have ever met, recently came across a problem. But in order to get to that part, one must understand my sister. Jessica isn’t just some ordinary freshman in high school, she is also visually impaired. She isn’t completely unable to see, which is why doctors characterize her as “partially blind”. This term has been given to her due to her ability to see somewhat clearly those objects that are less than four feet in front of her. Although she may not be able to see as clearly as most individuals, Jessica is able to make out where people are (if they are standing close enough to her), differences in light, and some minor details. Because she isn’t completely blind, she can still use her eyes like we can, but with more difficulty. And due to these factors, Jessica relies on Braille resources to read, write, and for many of the other functions of her learning. Contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, her disability doesn’t hinder her learning. In fact, she may be a little more knowledgeable about things than I am, although I would never admit it to her, because of the way in which she has been forced to learn. My sister is able to use her disability as a guide rather than a hindrance in her learning.
Although she rarely lets her disability get in the way of her dreams and goals in life, her Spanish teacher hasn’t made it easy for her during the Spring 2012 semester. Because of Jessica’s disability, she has a different learning style than most students. She learns best by listening as well as doing; therefore, she is an auditory learner as well as a “learn-by-doing” learner. Her learning style, until my family’s recent transition to a new area, has never seemed to bother anyone. As long as she’s learning, why should it matter how she does it? It had never occurred to me that any teacher would have an issue in adapting their classroom to benefit a student’s needs. So, when her teacher commented on the fact that Jessica was writing out complete sentences using the Spanish verbs on tests in order to correctly conjugate them, as being a problem, I was shocked.
In my mind, it just didn’t make sense. I grew up with one teaching parent, my mom. Being a strong, opinionated woman, my mother always taught me that people with disabilities are just like everyone else. And even though they don’t deserve special treatment and should be treated just like everyone else, it’s the teachers’ jobs to allow them to be able to learn in their classroom. And if that means adapting to their needs, then that is exactly what the teachers should do. Yes this opinion of my mother’s could have been brought on due to the fact that she has a hearing-impaired brother, but she had also witnessed this first hand when she was a certified elementary teacher with her specialty being in deaf education. And this opinion became even more evident due to recent circumstances, when she was now seeing the events through the eyes of a student, my sister, as well. These views of my mother’s have been passed down to me through various conversations, which might explain why my jaw literally dropped when my sister explained this new situation to me.
As the series of events continued to unfold, it became evident that more complaints were being made on the same topic from both the teacher, and now the principal. All of these concerns concentrated on my sister’s strategy for conjugating verbs. My sister continually explained, to her Spanish teacher, that due to her learning style, she needed to write out sentences to conjugate verbs in order to choose the correct answers on the test. This tiny issue was blown out of proportion when both my mother and the principal had to become involved in this small issue.
 This minuscule issue wouldn’t have been a problem if the teacher realized, like my mother had early on in her teaching career, that not all people learn the same way. This wasn’t just a problem of Jessica’s Spanish teacher not adapting to her because of her disability, but it was also a problem of the teacher not understanding that many students have different learning styles and it’s up to her as the teacher to adapt her classroom to the students. Everyone learns in a different way, that’s a plain to see fact. And it’s important for the teacher to encourage these multiple ways of learning and not hinder them; a student isn’t going to do well in a classroom in which the teacher expects their students to conform to their way of teaching. As a future teacher, I know that it isn’t “my way or the highway”, I need to adapt myself to the environmental factors of my future classroom. All teachers need to understand this: they, as teachers, need to adapt and change their classroom and “teaching” styles to fit their students’ learning styles. If a class pertains of half the students being visual learners and the other half being auditory learners, the teacher must suit both learning styles in order to ensure that all students have the possibility to succeed in their classroom.
In the case of my sister, I believe that her Spanish teacher as well as the principal need to realize she’s just like every other student. And just as any teacher should adapt to the needs of every student, in order to encourage their learning, Jessica’s teachers must adapt to Jessica’s particular learning styles as well. If a student needs to write out sentences in order to correctly conjugate verbs, even if it causes more work on the student’s part, the teacher should encourage her to do so if that’s what helps her succeed. A teacher’s job is to encourage learning and help their students succeed to the best of their ability. Students shouldn’t have to succeed on the teacher’s terms. Adaptation to their class environment is an essential part of every teacher’s life. And it’s important for all teachers to realize this when they assess the best way in order to teach their particular classes.

From left to right: Anthony, Jessica, and Nina

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 10 Cool Tools for School

After looking over my classmates blogs for ideas about school tools, I came up with my list of top 10 best resources.
Here it is:

This is a very useful tool for learning how to use grammar, spelling, etc. But it's not as interactive as all the other resources that I listed. Therefore, I didn't find it to be as good of a tool. 

This virtual book is very neat because you can write a book online, but you can use it for as much things as all the other tools. 

This site allows you to make a jeopardy game. I really liked jeopardy games as review tools when I was in high school, so I thought this site would be very useful to teachers. 

Wiki Spaces is a great organization tool. Enough said. I think that all teachers should use it to post to teachers, students, and other teachers. It helps get work done. 

6. Animoto
Animoto helps people make videos. I think that in this day in age, teens and even children love making videos and posting things. So, what better way to share ideas and get a point across than to use a medium that most students will respond to today?!

5. Wiked
Wiked is full of great games and learning tools. One of the best sites I've seen in a while for such resources. 

4. Wordle
Wordle allows you create word-collages. I believe it's a very interactive way to learn new things. I think English teachers could get a lot out of this tool, especially when using vocabulary. 

This site is formatted exactly like Youtube, but instead of funny videos, it includes teaching-related videos that are useful in order to come up with new ideas for the classroom by learning from fellow colleagues. 

I use pinterest on a daily basis to just look at pictures and peruse posts that interest me. But after reading Brittany Dunlap's blog post, I can see the value in using Pinterest in the classroom. If you want to know how to do so, no one explains it better than her, so refer to her blog. 

I love Smart Boards!!! They are extremely useful tools for a classroom. Not only are they interactive when just using the basic SmartBoard software, but you can also use them in Powerpoints to add content during class and incorporate students in learning. And I also found, while searching this site, that there are additional tools available to SmartBoard users (software) that will make an even greater impact in the classroom. 

Cool Tool for School

In Top 100 Tools 2011, the #7 best tool of the year was Prezi. This interactive website helps you create "powerpoint-like" presentations to make teaching and learning more entertaining for both the teacher and students.

Here is how you create a Prezi presentation:
1. Make a Prezi account
2. Choose the template that you would prefer depending on what you are going to use the presentation to teach.
Example: You could use the strategy template, which is the one I chose in this instance, to explain your goals, visions and risks for a certain task.

3. Look at the specific topics in your presentation and edit them.
Example: List the goals that you have for this project/task.

You can do this by zooming in on the particular "bubbles"/sections and editing the content within them.
4. Connect all of the bubbles/sections together to help them flow in the way that you want to present them. Prezi will then create a presentation that moves from one section to the other for you.

Hint = You can also go from one portion of the "bubble" to another portion of that same "bubble". I did this in the presentation that I will be attaching.

5. Finish your project. Save and Download it if needed.
6. Present

Now that you know how to make a Prezi presentation, feel free to view my Prezi presentation so that you can learn why Prezi is a great tool to use in the classroom.

Prezi 101 - A Great Learning Tool

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

House Bill 1001

In the two articles "Colorado Teacher Evaluations Bill Signed Into Law by Gov. Hickenlooper" on and "Hickenlooper Signs Teacher Evaluation Bill for Colorado" on both describe the HouseBill1001 that was signed into law recently. The bill sets standards for teachers to help make sure that they are not only doing their job by teaching students what they need to know, but that they are qualified to do so. In fact, a very interesting side to this bill is that idea that teachers are judged on certain standards as well as their student's grades even more. As described in the Denverpost's article, "the law also now requires 50 percent of teacher evaluations to be based on student test scored" (Yesenia Robles). The standards for teachers is becoming a prominent issue in education today and I think it's for the better.

I think that this is a great idea personally. Although this bill is ensuring that it will be tougher to get a job as a teacher, it also makes sure that student's are in capable hands. Teacher's need to have all the qualities that this bill is trying to make sure that they have and their students' grades should also be taken into consideration. If a teacher can't teach their students well enough for a majority of them to succeed, then maybe the teacher's capabilities should be evaluated. A child's success in the class isn't just based on their efforts, but also on the efforts of the teacher. And for these reasons, the Bill will make a lot of great changes that will help influence how teacher's are picked and given tenure as well as make sure that teacher's are capable in doing their job.

*To learn more about the important of teacher evaluations, not only in Colorado, watch the video below. It talks about the Georgia point of view about how test scores should be used in teacher evaluations. It made me think a lot about my future and how I couldn't believe that test scores weren't a determining factor, as much as they are now, in deciding if a teacher is worthy of her position. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer that the grades of your students should matter in if you remian a teacher or not, but obviously, it wasn't as big of a deal until recently. Teachers won't get posistion/retain positions unless they are even more worthy now. GOOD IDEA government!!!!*

Test Scores Now Used in Teacher Evaluations

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tweet Tweet Twitter

Tweet Tweet

When Mr. Smith told us that we would be using a social network such as Twitter in our Secondary Education class, I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn't dreaming. Who could ever think that a teacher would encourage their students to use a social networking account in a classroom environment. I remember being yelled at in high school for finding a way to access Facebook during school. Now, I had been asked to make a Twitter account, follow five educators in my field as well as students in my major. This was unreal.

And even though this seemed a little far fetched, there had to be a reason behind Mr. Smith asking us to do all these things. The more I thought about it, the more I came to a better understanding of his intentions. Our world is becoming global and for teachers/potential teachers, like myself, we must use that to our advantage. By following educators in my field, a whole new world opens up for me. Not only can I learn from them, but I can also discover many new things about my major that I had never thought about before. I'm excited to learn what I can from people who are already in the field. And I will try to use this social network to the best of my ability so that I can become a more well-rounded, potential teacher in the process.

Follow me on Twitter:
ChitterChat's (My) Twitter Account