Monday, February 23, 2009

Thing 8 WIKIS

Similar to blog pages I find that the individual wiki pages carry personality. Some of them are straight forward... get the information across, while others are very fancy and advanced. I found Code-blue and Reich-chemistry to be similar in that they both present lists of information. Not good, not bad, just seemed plain. Both of them were full of useful information and easy to find links... but I felt as though it was done in a hurry to get it completed. Obviously this is probably how my page would turn out being as teachers have SOOOOO much spare time right?

Despite the plainness it is still a phenomenal educational tool. A teacher can list assignments with due dates (that would stop the straggler student at your desk each class period saying, "what did you do last class?"). Any important upcoming events, extra credit opportunities , and links to supplement or complement homework or classroom understanding. In addition to individual classroom applications, you can provide links to school websites, web based assignments or other general important links!

One of the problems I had while viewing different educational wikis was that I visited "Room 15". This site was so absolutely amazing that it made the others visited look plain. I first viewed the top 2 listed and thought they were nice, easy, user friendly with useful information... But then I visited Room 15 and had to repeal my opinion of the first 2.

He uses great design with colorful fun icons. The site is extremely organized and easy to use packed with student and teacher resources. I searched almost all of the recommended sites and this was by far my favorite.

IN ALL FAIRNESS while investigating the author I found that he was the Technology person of his school. But still the site is amazing and I would LOVE to create something that was just a fraction of what he created!

I think he is using a Wii Mii!!?? you can create your own Mii!

One of the sites that I felt would have been better served as a blog rather than a Wiki was the Schools in the Past. This site had a good idea but probably would of been better served as a blog. It was very plain and didn't hold my interest. Every thing ran together and was overwhelming. It is a cute idea... if it was for blogging.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thing 7 Leaving Comments

Very interesting dynamic. It is easy to leave comments to individuals of the class. I know they are in education I know they are Mesquite and there is a level of security. I know that I am in a class with people who want to learn technology and will be understanding with errors, mess-ups and the occasional strange comment. Commenting on sites outside of the safe realm of mesquite was scary at first. After the first 2 I began to think, "dude these people don't know who I am... who cares if they think what I have to say is stupid!" But is is still intimidating. As far as others commenting on my site I find it fun and a little competitive. If someone has something contradictory I feel compelled to reply... same with other blogs I have commented on. I can definitely see how this is an engaging forum for communication!

Thing 6 New Blogs!

Browsing and skimming the WORLD I have found many interesting sites that "tickle my fancy". It is a little overwhelming to keep up with, my scanning skilles will need improving to maintain my sanity. The RSS is amaizing how organized it keeps all of the new information and how readily available it becomes. One of my favorite sites it the Biology News that I mentioned in Thing 5 post. The stories are very interesting from a scientific view. There are many teachers shraing information and keeping up to date. A LOT of great ideas and opinions!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thing 5 RSS

The reader is an excellent tool to help mainstream hundreds of interesting blogs (thoughts and ideas). I can also imagine ways to use this in the classroom. Of the visited and subscribed blogs, my most enjoyed was the Techlearning Blog. One of the posts is "Teach Paperless" and has an absolutely fabulous video on creativity. This is a 20 minute video of a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? This video is interesting, thought provoking... AND ENTERTAINING several laugh outloud moments... One of my favorites being when he discusses the corpus collosum differences in men and women! If you have not already visited this video I recomend it. The actual Blog site TeachPaperless has vaulable information about using technology in the classroom. Some are activities of this class complete with consolidated set of instructions on set up and ideas on how to use them. But again, my absolute favorite was the Sir Robinson clip... Hope you visit it!


Great RSS with biology current events : Biology News Net... One that caught my eye this week was the blog about evidence of Whales transistion from land to water. Fossils found that suggest birthing on land. Check it out. You might enjoy it!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thing 4 Interesting Blogs

Each of the blogs that I sampled seemed to have a unique style and personality. Some used sophisticated professional language, while others used more conversational dialect. All of them were interesting, yet occasionally I found myself wanting more information and not having a good feel of the issue. An example of one that seemed too short to where I didn't have a feel of the authors commitment to the issue discussed was the blog about the Florida Sturgeon. Granted it was enough to Begin a Biology discussion with students and probably designed to not give too much influence to allow student creativity and comments, but it didn't satisfy my taste.

The No Homework blog was extremely interesting. it shared some of the very same frustration I face in the classroom and provided thorough documentation and support for his points of view. The author has apparently done a Master's thesis using his classroom for the study on the values of homework. The limited results of one teachers classes may not share the validity of a national study... but his evidence is still yet compelling. It's easy to read and believe when positive improvements on student learning and engagement are discussed.

The technology Spy blog was scary. The overall layout was filled with bold print, quotes and many supportive links... but the actual reality of the blog was frightening. This blog informs you of all the negative media implication that can occur in your classroom due to the accessibility of today's technology. Not only does it mention the situations that will scare the %$^# out of you, but it provides the links to show that it was not made up. Definitely an eye opener! Very worth reading!

WOW not to interrupt... but I've learned the value of AUTOSAVE! If something happens and you lose your post go to EDIT POSTS and it should be there waiting for you! EVEN IF YOUR INTERNET SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTED!

Back to Blogging

A more serious blog would be like the Educational Blogging Blog... (Say that 5 times). This one was down to earth and thoroughly discusses the abundant uses and benefits of blogging in the classroom. Both student and teacher issues are addressed in a sober convincing manner.

The Plastic Bag blog reminded me of the Florida fish mentioned above. This one was more fun to read and provided more in site and information. It started with a problem and a currently implemented solution and then left the board open for other possible solutions, opinions and discussions. This blog encourages great ideas on how to set up a situation and use blogging for the classroom. This site has a line and bait and you can't help but to bite and leave your 2 cents. Getting students to leave their 2 cents and help them reinforce and solidify concepts discussed in class.

As far as language and learning, blogging from the examples above (and my own) seem to promote a more conversational language rather than literary thesis. I tend to write as I would speak and so do others rather than present the information in a professional literary masterpiece. However where as some are more vocal than others some are still written with literary sophistication despite the norm. Aside from the educational benefits of communication, collaboration, and student voice; blogging would force students to write their thoughts. Writing... any writing... can help to build vocabulary and language skills. Furthermore, to get to a point where they are writing a competent comment... they have to READ first! It may not be the rich literary text of Charles Dickens, but it is still reading! I feel that Blogging would have a better impact on our youth than texting. I grow tired of seeing "IDK" and other abbreviations on homework assignments and quizzes. At least with Blogging the students are more encouraged to write something meaningful and non abbreviated for the world is listening!

Thing 2 Learning and Technology

Technology has become a necessity for success for both students and teachers. Not only has information become more accessible, but communication has grown exponentially. Students live in an age of technology: TV, computers, IPhones and MP3 players are their language and what they enjoy. It has come to pass that these are the very resources to reach students and help to create life long learners. Reaching students through the technology will help to engage them and increase their learning potential. In addition, developing their familiarity with technology promotes career opportunities and highly qualified workers.

Technology for the teacher is becoming a mandatory tool for communication both outside and within the school. E-mail has become the main source of discussion both between co-workers and to parents when at one time passes the corded telephone was the veins of communication. A teacher can potentially have an organized well communicated classroom with out ever picking up the phone. Parents can know everything going on in the classroom and what is expected of their child with a mere click of the mouse. Coordinating lessons among teachers and across the curriculum is potentially easier then it has ever been in the past.

Technology needs to be embraced as our friend, used as a tool to make teaching organized, a means for mass and easy communication, and above all a way to keep students Engaged in Learning.

Thing 1 Life Long Learning

Most Challenging Habits:
Being a life long learner is some aspects can be second nature and yet there are characteristics that continue to be a struggle and require more effort on my part. Being goal specific is probably one of the most difficult for me. I frequently find myself either starting a project with a goal in mind, then during the progress of completing my goal I diverge on to many different paths. In the end... I have NOTHING. I didn't finish my original goal, nor were any of the auxiliary paths successful. I seem to take on more than I can chew, get frustrated, then abandon the project. I had never taken the time to analyze my routine until considering characteristics of life long learners... which leads to the second difficult characteristic... Making Time!
It's easy for me to say, "never mind, it wasn't important, or I don't really need to know that" and do something less mentally enriching. I literally need to schedule time and force myself to abide to the schedule. Life is so busy and crazy, especially with all the side projects I accidentally create for myself, scheduling time is a necessity.
Combining these two characteristics with efforts to improve should help to increase my learning :)

Easiest or most resonant as Life long learner:
View problems as a challenge. I actually work more efficient under stress. I came from the medical field prior to teaching where stress was normal. I could do twice the work because I felt like if I could do the job that was more difficult that my usual I would be proving my skills to myself and others. It is a competitive nature that I have always had, but helps me to excel under pressure.
Teach others. I changed careers to teaching because regardless of occupation I was always teaching. Operating room, Clinic, Laboratory, classroom, home... Always teaching :)

Which qualities will be the most important?
Confidence. If you don't believe, you will not succeed. It's easier to get to the end, and summon the strength to not give up if you have the confidence to know you can do it. Confidence in yourself makes literally the world of difference! You are able to change your stars if you believe in yourself.
Technology. The world has always been compared to a working machine... but now it actually is. technology is in every field of study, every home, and every classroom. It has improved communication and made information extremely accessible. Familiarizing yourself with as much useful technology as possible can make your life easier, more organized and make you more marketable as an employee.
Being a life long learner is important for maintaining healthy brain functioning as well as psychological mental functioning. Without learning your brain would rot, you would fall behind all of society, and be lost floating in your own worthlessness.