Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Digital Reflection

After going through EDSS 530 I beginning to appreciate the importance of technology more and more.  In the beginning I thought I was technologically competent as I had plenty of hardware knowledge, but after a few classes in 530 I realized I was still an infant when it came to utilizing technology in the classroom or for professional growth.

I think the biggest reason why I was hesitant about establishing myself on twitter or creating a blog was the negative press that social media was attracting.  After spending time on twitter and chatting with teachers around the nation, my mind has completely changed.  Unfortunately, due to my focus on my students, I did not devote as much time as I would have liked on my PLN.  However, I can assure everyone that I will be focusing on developing my PLN in the future.  

I think my favorite PLN tools were twitter and diigo.  I found twitter to be helpful because it help validate my ideas and thoughts as other teachers were genuinely appreciative of what I had to say.  Diigo is a great tool because it help me organize all the interesting resources I found while researching for lessons.  In the future diigo and twitter will play a crucial role in my PLN.

If anything, I am thankful for Jeff Heil and what he taught me in EDSS 530.  While I am still a digital visitor, I have certainly begun taking steps toward becoming a resident.

If the embedded video does not work, you can access my reflection here.

Using Technology to Learn and Create

When most people think of technology in education they have a tendency to think of internet as a tool to research information.  But why do many people often ignore the fact that technology can also be used to create?  I too thought like this at one point, but after realizing the potential of using technology to help students exercise their creative muscles I decided to create a project to do so.

My America Through the Decades project is a technology based project in which students will use technology to learn about a decade (70s, 80s, or 90s) and present their findings through Prezi.  Students will be challenged to characterize each decade and support their characterization with 3 important events of the decade.  Each presentation must also include an overview of the fads and fashions, important technological advancements, and other historical events, all of which must be tied in with a final conclusion.

To help keep the focus on creation, I did much of the background building in the classroom by having students, in their project groups, explore important events of each decade in class by using the textbook and encyclopedias.  I also warmed them up to using the class website by assigning them homework tasking them to use links I discovered and added to the project site.  By doing much of the background building in the classroom, my students have already  an idea on how they would like to present their decades and would simply use the technology to further explore their themes.

Prezi will be used to help students demonstrate their creativity.  When introducing the project to them, I took the time to express the importance of creativity.  How they organize and present their information will be weighted pretty heavily in the rubric I created and it is my hope that by making creativity an important component will motivate them to think outside of the box.  

I welcome everyone to review my project and do not be afraid to leave a comment on my blog.  I am always looking for ways to improve my lessons and projects.

The Importance of a Classroom Website

As a new teacher, one thing I struggled with was dealing with absent students.  It is especially difficult for me because I tend to facilitate all my lessons through digital presentations like Prezi or Power Point.  To help keep my students up to date, I decided to create a class website through Weebly to give my students access to course materials.  I found that creating a website allowed my absent students to complete assignments without the need to come in after class.  I would simply take a moment after class to talk to my absent students, walk them through my website and give them step by step instructions on how to complete each assignment.

Also, I am using my website to house my America Through the Decades project for my U.S. History students. On the site my students are able to see what the project is and view an example of a final project.

I understand that the website may be missing some important details, but feel free to explore my site at and tell me what you think.  Constructive criticism is always appreciated.

Teaching Globalization with Technology

It seems like technology is everywhere these days.  My students have technology in abundance in the form of their iPods, iPhones, Android phones, smart phones, and portable game players.  So why not take advantage of the technology students have in their possession?

Seeing that roughly half my class has access to a smart device of some form I decided to have students explore the concept of globalization by taking advantage of the technology in their pockets.  In my Journey of an iPhone lesson, I am challenging my students to use their internet capable phones to use google maps to help them track the process of how an iPhone is produced.  Using iPhones to learn how an iPhone is manufactured is a great way to keep students engaged and create a tangible connection to their learning.  

Please feel free to check the lesson plan and accompanying resources below and tell me what you think.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oceanside High School

What I Observed
This was the first time I have observed a classroom that was structured with technology.  I was impressed seeing students do their warm up activities on the iPad.  Most of the students appeared to be engaged as they were working to solve various physics problems dealing with electricity.  What really caught my attention was the variety of problems each student was presented with.  Although each student had to solve the same problems and equations, each student were presented with different variables. I thought this was a great way to accurately measure student understanding of concepts because students could not simply copy off of their neighbor.  Furthermore, students were being assessed as they were completing their set of problems and students were given multiple attempts to work through the problems.  Since all the information is collected in real time, it makes it much easier to identify what each student is struggling with.  I find this to be helpful in helping students progress toward learning goals because it informs the teacher of individual learning needs.  For science or physics classes I feel that Mr. Fogliatti implemented the use of iPads in his classroom well.

While I was amazed by how well thought out the iPads were utilized, I was a bit underwhelmed with the lack of creation.  It seems that the iPads were primarily used as a paperless textbook and instant assessment tool to help the teacher track progress.  I understand that this program is just in the beginning stages and I am confident that Mr. Fogliatti will identify ways to have students create with the technology as well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Photo Editing Software as an Educational Tool

If anyone follows sports, they will surely know what this edited photo is saying:

For those not familiar of with the sporting world, this is an edited photo mocking the “Bounty-Gate” scandal in which former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was caught for paying his players bounties for injuring opposing players.  To make a mockery of the scandal, the artist of this photo edited a picture of Boba-Fett, a bounty hunter from Star Wars, to look like a New Orleans Saints player.

Why am I talking about this and how does it relate to education?  Well as a social science teacher I feel utilizing photo editing software, like Photo Shop and Gimp, will help me relate political and social commentary to this increasingly tech savvy generation.  Photo editing software is the new form of political comic that allows people to comment on many social issues and has a couple educational benefits. 

First, challenging students to alter an existing image to reflect a controversial event or concept give students an opportunity to exercise their creative muscles.  Using photo editing software not only allows teachers to cover their content area, but also allows them to help students develop their meta-cognitive abilities.  Students will have to think critically about the topic in which they want to comment on and determine how they can creatively visually represent it.  So long as students understand how to use the software, they can make their ideas come to life. 

Second, after bringing their ideas to life students will develop a deeper understanding of the topic.  Visually depicting a comment or concept requires considerable thought and reflection, forcing the creator to dig deeper and deeper into the content.  So, while going through the creative process, students will have a deeper understanding of the topic they commented on.  And if I can get a student to think deeper about controversial issues, then I think I have succeeded as a teacher.  I see using photo editing software as a means to promote thought.

Please feel free to respond and describe how you would use photo editing software in your subject areas.

My Experience on #HipHopEd

I remember the first time I participated in an educational chat.  At the time I was contemplating on using hip hop songs in a lesson on contemporary issues.  In a nutshell, the idea I had brewing in my mind was to challenge students to investigate if music, in this case hip hop, is a reliable historical medium.  I was planning to implement this lesson toward the end of the year in U.S. History as student study contemporary issues.   For this specific lesson I wanted to have students investigate the issue of poverty during the 70’s and 80’s and how it is reflected in hip hop music.

With this plan in mind, I searched for a hip hop group on twitter and I found #hiphoped and posed the question “What are some songs that represent urban life in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s?”  Soon after, a gentleman tweeted back suggesting some songs I can use.   Soon a discussion between the two of us expanded and I began telling him my lesson idea and the songs I was thinking of using.  We then started discussion on how to implement the lesson and under what subjects such a lesson would be relevant.  At the end of the discussion my partner began following me and even complimented me on my ideas and said he was going to incorporate it into his lesson. 

After the discussion, I felt enlightened and validated.  I was enlightened because I got feedback from an experienced teacher.  I felt validated, because the same experienced teacher complimented me on my hip hop lesson idea.  After this experience on #hiphoped, I became a believer in twitter and look forward to more enlightening conversations.