Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28th

The assignment for this week was read the post by Morgan Bayda and watch a video by Dan Brown. I think they are in agreement that universities are arcaic in the way they share information. Dan Brown believes that the university is interferring with his education so he dropped out of school. As I type that, I think to myself what is he hoping to accomplish by dropping out of school. I understand he wants to make a statement. He has a point and I hear that. However, I don't think that in today's competitive job market, dropping out of school was the right thing to do. I may be wrong. I admit I have been wrong before. I just think that may be shoting your own self in the foot to make a point. Anyway...

Back to their point. Morgan says she feels like she has been cheated when she has to buy exspensive books for a class that is too long and too boring. The teacher doesn't know her name and she doesn't really learn anything. Amen to that. I just had that same experience in my Biology 101 class. I won't name names but it was a drag. I have to admit that science is not my thing. The professor already had that strike against her. However, my class had over 100 students enrolled in it. It was 1 hour 15 minutes long. The professor read from a slide show presentation. It was soooo boring. She never knew my name and I can't really remember hers. I don't remember a thing from that class and I made a B in it. Thank goodness for that $200 book because I taught myself enough information to pass the class. I totally get that this type of learning environment is junk and needs to be revamped. I never want to take another class like that one again.

On the other hand, I had a class in that same semester with about 30 students. My teacher loved the material she taught and it showed all over her face. She knew my name and called on me regularly. She encouraged class participation - it was part of our grade. I remember so much from this class. Most of this information I pass along to the middle school students I have in Library. I love reading and this was a literature class. My teacher already had that going for her. However, she made Moby Dick fun and that is a tough thing to do. She couldn't operate a DVD for anything. She confessed to being technologically challenged. She didn't use powerpoints or the internet. She just loved what she taught. She made me love it too. I wish I could have her teach all my classes. I told her so in a email at the end of the year. That is the kind of teacher I want to be.

I don't think it is in the tools, although I agree they help. I think it is in the passion the teacher possess's for teaching. Dr. Strange has a passion for technology. He wants to stir that up in his students. Is it working? I think so. Is it a challenge for him? I know so. The point is he wants to make a difference in the way students learn. That is what teaching is about.

Now how do you get that for every student entering college at every university across the world. I don't have that answer. Maybe it is in reshaping the classroom. But I don't think great teaching goes out of style. That is something you either how or you don't. You can have all the fancy tools in the world and still stink it up in front of the students.

I hope Dan Brown finds a teacher like Mrs. Conrad in his quest for learning. Maybe he can find that on-line. I have come across some passionate teachers in various assignments given by Dr. Strange. I certainly believe that change is coming for the classroom. I hope that change doesn't knock Mrs. Conrad right out because she can't operate a DVD. That would be a waste.
March 12 Assignment

I have to say I could spend hours on the ALEX (Alabama Learning Exchange)website. There is just a wealth of information available for teachers. I just looked up some lessons plans on art. I have to do a mini lesson in AED on Tuesday. The lists upon lists of lesson plans that are available is amazing. Penelope Humansky and I did our podcast on a similar site called It was not exactly the same- it has more of YouTube vibe - but the general idea is the same. We both agreed that the site was helpful. I would imagine that she found ALEX just as useful. It is incredible the amount of information that is out for teachers. This site has more than just lesson plans. There are useful websites available, some podcasts (there were more podcast available on, links to sites such as ACCESS, and much more. Again, I could spend hours on this site.

Moving onto ACCESS(Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students). I thought that this program was interesting. I did not realize that any Alabama High School student in the public school system could register for free to take these online courses. What a wonderful opportunity for some students to take things that are not offered in their schools or take classes that can help them with future classes. I believe that AP college credit courses are offered through ACCESS as well. There is also opportunity for students to take these classes in the summer. I thought that was pretty incredible.

I think this program has to be for the motivated student who wants to make the most of their time in high school. A recent survey on their site that 75% of students who take these on line courses felt that the classes were as good as or better than the classes they normally took in school. I think that is a pretty good success rate. I also like that everyone that teaches these on line courses are highly qualified and have experience in teaching AP classes. I think we will see so much more of this in the future.

Just as a side note, I thought it was pretty neat that they offered Spanish V, and Chinese I and II. Those are the classes for the extremely ambitious student.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

comments for kids

While I have been making my comments for kids, I have failed to write about it in my blog. I apologize for that. I have been so impressed with how much children know about technology and how much they enjoy displaying that knowledge. I really need to get with it to keep up with them.

Some students I have commented on:

The students at 2KM Leopold Primary School have an incredible site. The are really on the ball. Their teacher is also very kind. I made a comment last night and she had responded to my comment by this morning. I am super impressed. I was assigned to comment on their blog post about a poster they had created on How to Comment on a Blog Post. I found their tips extremely helpful and I told them so. One of the tips was watch out for punctuation and grammar errors. I told them that we recently had this discussion in EDM 310 because we were making a lot of punctuation and grammar errors. Mrs. McGeady (the teacher) gave me an A+ on my comment. I so needed that today. What a great site, great teacher, and great kids.

Elle in Mrs. Kolbert's class blogged about her precious puppy. I told her we recently had puppies at our house and how quickly we have become attached to them. She even had a picture of her dog for me to see. She really is a cutie! Elle says she is the cutest dog in the world. What do you think?

Diana M believes in the Nessie (The Loch Ness Monster). I love that Diana has faith to believe in something she has not seen. I told her that in my comment. Although my husband finds it important to tell my children there is no Santa Claus (he doesn't want to lie to them), they still believe in Santa. Children need to use their imagination and keep the faith in things not seen. I am not encouraging lying to children - just let them have fun being a child. Who knows - maybe Nessie does (or did) exist. Who I am to say otherwise? GREAT JOB Diana M.

Students at St. Puis X created a video in which they were performing for American Idol. They created dance moves to pop songs. They did a really awesome job and I told them so. Again, I am so impressed with students and their technology skills. I ask them if they could come to Mobile and help me create my video. Of course, I told them I was just kidding (but not really HAHAHA!).

These are just a few of the children I have been assigned. I truly have enjoyed making comments. I know that children love "mail" - I use to. I hope they are enjoying all the feedback they are getting from all over the world.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A little extra...

So I decided to go and look a little deeper into Randy Pausch and found a short video on YouTube called "A Final Farewell." It took a short five minutes for me to see why he did The Last Lecture. He didn't want to be helpless and not do anything. He wanted to continue to make a difference, make a mark. He wanted his kids to know who their father was and he wanted them to be proud. I am sure they will be! This was a softer side to this very courageous man. What a touching video.

Randy's Pausch's Last Lecture

I was excited to get to which this video. I had seen his book (I think his wife wrote it)entitled The Last Lecture and wanted to read it. I think I am glad I watched the video first because now I don't want to read the book. That is not because I am unimpressed with what this man has accomplished but just that I think I have haeard his message and that is enough. Oh no...I am skipping the book for a video. May fears are coming too! HAHA!

Moving onto the lecture. I wish he would have given his speech then told everybody about his condition at the end. I guess his was giving it to a room full of people who already knew so he felt like he just needed to get it out in the open. However, if the speech was given to people he didn't know the viewer wouldn't have the sympathy thing going throughout the speech and could just really focus on what he is saying. When I didn't really like the way he said something - maybe I felt it was a little arrogant - I'd think "Oh, be kind because he has passed away." The speech at times a little showy. Even the thing with the cake for his wife. Was that for her or him? She seemed touched so who am I to judge. He was a very smart man who did some really incredible things and so I guess he should be afforded a little arrogance.

His teaching style reminds me of Dr. Strange's teaching style. Dr. Pausch gives a project assignment in his ECT program and the students ask about content. What should we be doing? His reply...I don't know. Just don't do violence or pornagraphy. I could so here Dr. Strange saying that. Just give the students freedom to create and learn with little to no guidance. Let them just do it. The end result was some great stuff - projects that blow the mind of the professor. Lesson learned - give the students the freedom they need to learn and succeed in their work whatever that may be.

Another thing he talks about is that "he don't do no book learning." Just like with EDM 310 - there is no book telling us what to do or how to do it. We have to just figure it out. Ask questions as needed but basically just find the way that suits us to learn what has been assigned.

I love that he wants kids to achieve their dreams and have fun doing that. Learning should be fun. I think it is awesome that he has come up with this program "Alice" to get students learning to program when they think they are creating a game. He calls this the "head fake." I think we have alot of "head fake's" in EDM 310. We are learning how to blog but more importantly we are learning how to figure things out for ourselves. I don't know...let's figure it out. I want to remember the "head fake" for my classroom.

Dr. Pausch, when talking about the "Alice" program, said he felt like Moses who got to see the promised land but didn't get to go in. That really touched me. He was not bitter that he didn't get to see the product to it's full potential. He was just as excited to know that it was going to happen and he had a part in that. He was leaving his mark and that was more than enough.

His parents were such a tremendous influence in his life. I took alot from his talk about them. His mom allowed him to create by painting his room and she never changed it. They encouraged him to reach for his childhood dreams and they keep him in check when he complained it was too hard. He complains to his mom that getting his phD was too difficult and she proceeds to tell him "We understand son. When your father was your age he was fighting World War II." Talk about not letting your kid drown themselves in self pity. I think I would like this woman. Great role models.

Lastly, I like that he said that he learned "people will impress you, you just have to give them time to do so." I really want to remember that with my students. Several people come to mind as I am writing this blog. Potential sometimes takes time to surface and become visible. All children have potential and just need time and encouragement to reveal their potential.

All in all, I enjoyed this video. The world lost a lot when they lost Dr. Pausch. He was man who didn't set limits for himself and encouraged others not to limit themselves either.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

February 28th

I want to first start out by saying that my computer crashed right in the middle of my homework. This of course was frustrating and made me realize how a computer can not be completely depended on as a reliable source for communicating. I also began thinking about how we are always talking about "and it's free" but the reality is that these wonderful tools such as computer, iphones, ipad, etc. cost alot and so do the applications. It reminds of my of the old saying...nothing in life is free. We will always be spending money on education - whether that be on books or computers. can see that I am frustrated right now so forgive the rant.

Moving on to the assignment...

This video was about presenting information via media. I was surprised that this man Mr. Miller is an English professor who teaches students the value of reading and writing. However, he is proposing this new why of teaching via technology. I need to recognize and appreciate that even this man who has made his life profession in books sees that times they are a changing. If we won't to be "relevant" we must change they way we think.

I have a "dream" if you will of being a teacher with a master's in library science. Naturally my ears perked up when he said he did an entire project without ever stepping foot in a library. What will this mean to my "dream". I LOVE the library. I just told my husband that I feel the same about a library that a kid feels about a candy store. I worry about it's future. I sound like an old broken record I know but I love books and I love that my kids love books. I so don't want them sitting in front of a computer reading a "book".

I did agree on what Mr. Miller had to say about educators should be in the business of sharing ideas with one another freely. That is what I am starting to really appreciate about technology. You can go online and find ideas from other more seasoned teachers. I also liked his comment that "ideas belong to us as a culture". If you have a great idea, share it.

Moving on to the project by Ms. Drexler's senior class.

Again, naturally my ears perked up with "Why a teacher?" as that is what I am going to school to do. I really appreciated with they came up with...modeler, organizer, one who gets the students excited about learning. Those are all great things. I am still not sure about the students learning via the web and the teacher just aiding them along. I see that the web can be a great tool but never replace the teaching that should go on in a classroom. Note I said in a classroom as I am a firm believer it is important for students to come to a place that is designated for learning.

Lasting I viewed the speech by Michael Wesch. I really enjoyed his sense of humor and I felt like I could easily take one of his classes. I am sure he makes it a fun learning experience. I liked the quote by Marshall McLuhan, "We shape our tools and our tools shape us". This is a little scary...we create the tool, then become dependent on the thing we created. I was impacted by the quote that we have become "amused to indifference". We see things on TV or Youtube but what do we plan to do to change what we see. Are we making a difference or just being entertained.

I enjoyed the timeline of Whatever. I can hear my daughter thinking (she is only three so she can't articulate it yet) "Whatever, I'll do what I want". I see that children are so all about me and I worry about their future when they realize that this world is not all about them.

Mr. Wesch and his students started a study on YouTube as a community that would change the way people are all about me. I was not convinced that YouTube is a community that negates the all about me. I feel that it feeds into the whole look at me - it's all about me. He said that he felt it gave people the ability to experience the freedom to be themselves without social anxiety. I think it is the opposite. You put yourself out their for the world to judge and the world can have less than kind things to say as he points out. How could that be a way to break out of your shell so to speak. I think it is a way for the person to hide behind a screen for fear of rejection and it is not healthy. I recognize that people need an outlet and maybe that is what YouTube is for some. I just don't see it as an entirely positive community.

Overall, I like that he points to both sides of the media as entertainment arguement. He looks at what has happened and wants to see the media as WE SHAPE IT work for good. I can appreciate that!

I will leave this week with a video that I saw in my LIBRARY this week. It really made me look at myself and say "Paula - are you being a ZAX with regard to technology?" I don't want to be a Zax but change is not always easy.