Archive | November, 2012

Let Children Monkey Around: It Will Help Their Handwriting!

30 Nov

Over Thanksgiving break, I had the pleasure of taking my little cousins to the park. While my adorable cousin Ryan was dangling from the monkey bars,  I would stand so close to him, worried he would fall and get hurt. I couldn’t help it; I was born with that motherly instinct! Ryan’s amazing mother, my “Aunt” Mary, (We joke about her being my aunt because she is more like a cousin) shared with me how much Ryan’s handwriting had improved from playing on the monkey bars. When I was a child, the idea of playing on the playground was simply for fun. I never really took the time to think how these playgrounds served more of a purpose than an energy release for children. Gross motor skills are important for child development. The monkey bars strengthen the hand muscles which are needed to hold a writing utensil. I always wondered why they put such dangerous equipment on playgrounds. Now understanding the real purpose for the various jungle gym equipment, I can stand back with relief knowing even though they could potentially get hurt, they are improving their gross motor skills! My handwriting is horrendous; maybe I ignored the monkey bars as a child! On that note, I should probably take a trip to the park to monkey around!

My little cousin Ryan monkeying around!

My little cousin Ryan monkeying around!

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My Thoughts on Technology in the Classroom

29 Nov

Technology has become increasingly necessary in classrooms. Each semester for the past year, I have been placed in a new classroom all over Southern New Jersey. These classrooms have been in schools in Camden, Cherry Hill, and Blackwood. All of these schools are in very different schools systems, yet each classroom I was a part of heavily used technology in the classroom.

In my opinion, I feel as if technology is not something that SHOULD be used in the classroom, but rather something that MUST be used in the classroom. Because of the way humans’ brains have evolved, technology has become an absolute necessity.   

At first, I thought it would be difficult to get students to use technology in an organized matter, especially the younger grades. But, it is all really interactive and they seem to enjoy everything better when presented in a technological way.

Students also seem to understand the material much more. It introduces a new way of thinking, which is definitely a higher way of thinking.  This is something that I learn in my Education classes as being extremely important. 

This also allows for the teacher to be more of the facilitator and allow the students to investigate material on their own, rather than just have the teacher stand up there and talk the entire time. 

In the classroom I observed this semester, students used all types of technology, including a document camera, SmartBoard, iPads, Computers, and many more. Each time I am in a different classroom, I find new and different ways to use these technologies in the classrooms with different students and I really love it. 

Technology allows to make everything more personal and to allow for the different levels and needs of the students. It is hard to personalize activities for 20 or more students, but it becomes a lot easier through the use of technology.

As a future teacher, I need to become more aware. There was a time when a student asked me a question about the iPad, and I had no idea, but another student who was more familiar with the technology came over and helped. This shows that the students know perhaps more than I think they know. As well this allows for more collaboration and cooperation amongst students.

Technology in the classroom is something that I will consistently have to update my knowledge but I guess that is something that goes along with being a part of the educational field nowadays. 

Farewell Blackwood!

29 Nov

Tuesday was my last day for field at Blackwood Elementary School. I thought that I’d be more excited because this means I can sleep in for the remaining Tuesdays of the semester. However, it felt bittersweet to walk in and out of those doors for the last time. My class was composed of twenty little angels (sometimes this opinion varied) and they sweetly waved goodbye as they trotted to art class. Second grade was the perfect grade for me, as opposed to last semester, when I was observing in an eighth grade classroom. Teaching in eighth grade was roughhh, those kids are really quick to break you down. I felt like every time I addressed the class, they were inspecting every inch of me, judging me and refusing to learn to make a point that they didn’t want me there.

Completely on the other hand, my second graders basically assisted me whenever I stood up to teach. They listened to my introduction of new topics and enthusiastically participated in my activities, which I think was due to the fact that my cooperating teacher encouraged me to choose engaging activities. I wasn’t just there to play fun games, I was there to educate young minds and to show them that not all learning needed a pencil and paper! My cooperating teacher also showed me a whole new mindset of differentiated instruction- one size definitely did not fit all in that classroom.

This field experience definitely provided insight for teaching younger children and provided me with organizational tools for creating learning centers– a great differentiated instruction tool!

Presidential Debates & #Slutty Girl Problems

29 Nov

I’ve hated Twitter pretty much immediately- as soon as my friends started making them, I started hating it. It just seems to be Facebook status updating ALL DAY. Steven Johnson jokes saying that no one woke up one day wanting a technology to alert everyone on his choice of breakfast cereal. But I’ve seen far worse things when I begrudgingly made an account for this class. I didn’t care about you and your significant other’s fight on Facebook, and I definitely don’t care about it on Twitter, with fifty hashtags that attest to your love for him. Isn’t that special. I also see some people admitting they hate Twitter too, although I am skeptic of their reasoning. They hate it because it’s so “addictive” and “because it’s always down”, while I hate it because of its existence.

However, I can see how Twitter is a positive tool in some aspects. Like the #hackedu conversation, Twitter quickly and efficiently links up user comments, conversation, arguments and links that pertain to the topic at hand. It is another location to share pictures, connect with friends and be linked in to the celebrity world. I stop to think how fascinating (not) my life has become now that I can read #Slutty Girl Problems on Twitter.  Pages like that just seem to cancel out more viable ones with their idiocy. And I feel that followers’ biggest issue after reading several articles online, is the 140 character limit. Do you really have that much to say about your life? Twitter just seems to be a mode for self absorption and centeredness.

Let’s not forget that to be a successful Twitter-er, you need to have a mass amount of followers. Because people care about how many followers you have, and I guess gauge whether or not you seem followable from the number. So go ahead, follow everything under the sun, things that have to do with your major, your friend’s interests and your boyfriends followers. Or use this quick fix to get more followers!

Twitter in the Classroom

29 Nov

I think it would be great to use Twitter as a way to communicate in the classroom. Twitter allows for different people to come together and communicate about so many different subjects. It is so convenient to go to one profile and see what everyone else is saying in addition to what you are saying.

With so many users out there, there is bound to be something to spark ones interest, whether someone is talking about fitness, food, or it is a favorite celebrity talking about his/her day. And it is great to use in schools, as students’ likes and opinions range all over the place. And as classes become increasingly larger, it would be easier for students to communicate amongst themselves and with teachers through Twitter. Twitter helps establish a welcoming community, which is increasingly necessary in such big classrooms with such diverse learners.

As a future educator, I was interested to read David Silver’s piece because he touched a little bit upon the difference between two kinds of tweets and the quality of each. It made it seem as if he really only wanted thick tweets for his assignments. While this is okay for school, I felt as if he needed more explanation as to why rather than just stating the differences. Students need the direction as to what exactly is required. Perhaps he explained more in another blog post, but I feel like I needed more direction on what he expected.

He seemed to require a lot from the students. If tweeting is a regular process, I don’t necessary think that every tweet needs to have multiple thoughts and links. This does give a lot of insight as to what students are thinking, but if not taught properly to do so, students may be putting in irrelevant information because it is required of them.  I don’t think an idea should be forced. I don’t think this is what Silver is trying to say, but I think he needs to explain in more detail what he is trying to say.

I don’t know if I would have young elementary students use Twitter. But it would definitely be a tool that I would use to help students learn to express their interests, opinions, and identities.

In order for Twitter to be used in the classroom, the teacher must be informed as to how it can be used. Without proper instruction, students will not know what to do. There are hundreds of websites out there that show teachers effective ways of using Twitter in the classroom. 

The Internet in Today’s World

27 Nov

Computers. They have become a staple in almost every home today. Kids are constantly seen surfing the web, on social media sites, and now even seen doing homework on them. Computers are making their way into the classroom, and for very good reason. In Bolter’s Introduction: Writing in the Late Age of Print, he says,  “Each [writing] space depends on its meaning on previous spaces or contemporary spaces on which it competes” (12). For a child to have an assignment and have it be completed in a domain where there are moving objects, and even a lot going on, it will stimulate their mind and be more effective than if they were to just read it out of a book and hand write and answer. I have worked at a daycare for about 4 years, and iPads have just been introduced into the curriculum. The weekly lesson of learning a different alphabet letter has now become fun, instead of a chore. The range of games that are available that are really mini lessons for the children are endless. And the best part? The kids love them. Little animals running around and you have to catch the “M’s”, or when they have to put the letters in order to be able to save the princess from falling into the dragon’s mouth. The liveliness and the realness or putting these lessons right in our kids hands makes the learning experience more enjoyable and efficient.

Blogs have Refashioned the Idea of Writing: Now Refashion Your Classroom by Incorporating Blogs!

21 Nov

After reading Bolter’s, “Introduction:Writing in the Late Age of Print”, it is clear that all new writing technologies refashion its predecessor. I am new to the world of blogging and I wanted to explore my own question on how blog’s refashion past writing technologies and how they can be incorporated into the classroom. My writing tools have evolved from pencil onto paper and then to the keyboard onto word processor and now my words spill out onto blogs. Blogging offers something different than other writing technologies; it offers collaboration which could be a monumental tool for the classroom.

Blogs are a collaboration of words, images, video, audio, and links which really give the reader an insight into what the writer is trying to share. Even though I once handwrote words onto paper along with hand drawn pictures (mainly crappy looking stick figures) and I still type into word processor and occasionally copy and paste a still image, blogging offers a much different experience. Rettberg explains this difference very well, “In most forms of print publishing, such as newspaper articles, novels, or poetry, the author is not in charge of the way the text will look. The text is written in a word processor (or on a typewriter, or by hand) and submitted to an editor who, usually with a staff of designers, determines the layout. Bloggers, on the other hand, choose their own template and often spend considerable time adjusting the way their blogs look and work.” (Rettberg’s, 4). Blogging gives authors more ownership over their meanings and intentions of style. It puts the author in more than just the role of the writer; the writer also becomes the designer.

What I like most about blogging is the social interaction. Blogging is like a healthy virus. It spreads all over. It “links” writer’s in so many ways. Research articles may reference an idea of another author through quotes or paraphrasing, but how often do we search for that other author? The author shares an idea of another author, but the connection stops there. I have never put a paper article down to search for works of that referenced author that the article mentioned, simply because the work of that author is not readily available. But when reading blogs with hyperlinks, it’s too tempting not to click on the link to see where it will take me. “Student blogging is powerful and stimulating and enriching. The online capacity to link-reference makes for a punchy way to write interconnectedly.” (www.guardian.co.uk). I don’t even think twice about clicking on wherever that writer is wanting to take me and when I click, I am introduced to a whole other site I probably would have never came across my own. The connection of ideas is genius. I think of blogging as a selfless act. The authors of blogs give credit to other authors, web designers, and a variety of other creators so effortlessly. It brings the idea of collaboration to its fullest capacity. Blogs have totally refashioned the static website.

In my future classroom, if I am teaching a higher level of elementary, I will definitely have a classroom blog for my students to participate and collaborate with me and their fellow classmates. I believe it makes the idea of writing and learning much more interesting and engaging for the students.  I think reluctant writers will become more involved and eager to write. The blogs can be used for many different purposes in the classroom; free writing, storytelling, researching, interactive lessons, informative videos, student collaboration with responding to other students, group projects, study tools, etc. It is also a great way to get the parents involved. Parents can view the collaborative classroom blog to see what their child is learning. It forms a learning community which is one of my goals as an educator; for everyone to have a sense of involvement and importance in the learning process. The student’s can become the designers not just the authors of their ideas. To combine words, images, audio, and visual for a well-rounded learning environment. Students learn in many different ways, some students are more visual learners whereas other students are more auditory learners. Blogs can help to differentiate the instruction for the many different types of learners.