Saturday, February 8, 2014

Project #3 Presentation

Blog Post 4

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word question as follows:
Question - noun - \ˈkwes-chən, ˈkwesh-\
: a sentence, phrase, or word that asks for information or is used to test someone's knowledge.
: a matter or problem that is being discussed: a subject or topic.
: doubt or uncertainty about something.

In this assignment Dr. Strange ask us to take a closer look at questions and their use in the classroom by posing one of his own, “What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?”

Questions, Don’t Teachers Answer Them?
Dr. Strange can ask some of the most thought provoking questions and I must admit this is one I have previously given little thought to. As one who typically is not hesitant to ask questions, I just assumed that if I teach, then the students will ask questions. Perhaps there is more to this than I thought. Thus, to better understand how to ask students questions I read several articles, including Dr. Maryellen Weimer’s blog post Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom. In it she suggests educators should prepare questions, play with questions, and preserve good questions.

Prepare Questions:
Dr. Weimer freely admits that for most of her career she simply asked questions of her students without any preparation. She also states that this was often frustrating for both her and the students. Now that she carefully prepares selected questions before class the results have been much better. Dr. Weimer found that her prepared questions are clearer and more to the point yielding better responses.

Play with Questions:
Dr. Weimer suggests that as soon as an answer is revealed a question loses some of its power to provoke thought. She contends that students mostly just want an answer and are then ready to move on to the next problem. As a way to overcome this Dr. Weimer encourages educators to play with questions. One example is to write a question on the whiteboard before students walk into class but delay discussing it until class time is almost over. Thereby giving the question time to do its work; inspire students to think about the question before answering it.

Preserve Good Questions:
Questions can often lead to more serious in-depth thought, so as educators we should motivate our students to ask questions. Dr. Weimer recommends that teacher’s take note of the better questions asked by students and possibly use them to further discussion in other classes. She recommends giving credit to students who’s questions we share. Her theory is this demonstrates the skills of a good listener and the power of a good question.

There are no Wrong Questions:
Yes, this is a phrase most of us have heard repeatedly. I even had a professor once tell the class, “While there are no wrong questions, some are better than others.” At the time it seemed she was being sarcastic but maybe she was right. What is a good question? In the YouTube video Asking better questions in the classroom Pt. 1.wmv, Dr. Joanne Chesley tells the viewer there are two types of questions; open ended questions and closed ended questions. In her presentation, Dr. Chesley explains that closed ended questions are ones that require a yes or no answer, or a brief reply. She also states that by asking closed ended questions instructors are not getting the meaningful discussion they should be trying to engage their students in. At the other end of the spectrum are open ended questions. Dr. Chesley demonstrates the use of both and it becomes clear that to engross students into a subject, instructors should be asking open ended questions.

Questions, Yes, of Course Teachers Should Ask Questions:
As it turns out my original plan, if I teach, they will ask, was not much of a plan after all. As an educator, I now realize that I need to know the what, when, where, who, and how of asking questions in the classroom if I wish to engage my students. Yes, Dr. Strange can ask some of the most thought provoking questions.

Friday, February 7, 2014

C4T #1

C4T#1, comment 1
For my first C4T, comments for teachers, blog post I was assigned to Mr. Dave Sladkey’s blog. Mr. Sladkey is a math teacher at Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois. On the day I visited his blog the discussion was about geometry, the unit circle, and an exciting new online tool that he was implementing in his classroom. I followed his provided link to the unit circle tool and spent some time solving his assignment problems with it. For a math geek it was awesome.

As to the comment portion of this assignment; I introduced myself, invited Mr. Sladkey to my blog page, the class blog page, and provided him links to both. I commented on the unit circle tool he is using and confessed to spending far too much time playing with. It was much more fun than writing about it. I then explained to him my desire to bring more real life experiences into a math class. After which, I asked him for comments and suggestions.

C4T#2, comment 2
On the day of my second visit to Mr. Sladkey’s blog the topic of discussion was empathy.
More specifically Mr. Sladkey was exploring ways that educators could, and should, take time to reflect on what it is like being a student in today’s classroom. As a part of his research he shared an excellent blog post titled The Most Critical Skill for Being an Effective Educator by Matt Renwick. Next, Mr. Sladkey developed what he termed, “8 Ways to Incorporate Empathy into Your Teaching.” Each of which I have briefly paraphrased below.
1. Shadow a student. Spend a day learning what it is like to be a student in your school.
2. Questionnaires. Use Google Forms to get feedback on your students and use this information to improve your teaching. (EDM310 students, have we not heard this before?)
3. Listen to Students. Discuss class assignments with your students and find the area where they feel more instruction would be helpful.
4. Homework. Again, put yourself in the students place and do some of the assignments.
5. Spend time in thought about your students. Try to see each as a person and not only a student.
6. Phone Home Early. Call parents early, before there is a problem, and establish an open line of communication with them.
7. Records. Look at your students' records, IEPs, standardized tests, and so on.
8. Activities outside the classroom. Find out what interest your students enjoy in their free time. Perhaps, go to ballgames or to school plays to better understand their perspective.

WOW! Reading Mr. Sladkey’s blog I could immediately feel the compassion and caring he has for his students. The thought he put into this article was overwhelming and I told him so. As a student, I expressed my apperception that he took the time to see things from our side of the desk. Furthermore, I commented on his suggestion to use Google Forms to create questionnaires by explaining that our very own Dr. Strange uses them in EDM310. The experience proved to be yet another insightful visit to Mr. Sladkey’s blog.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blog Post 3

Peer review and/or editing. In a learning community, a peer review is a vital part of the learning process for both parties. Through the practice of peer review the author gains from having a colleague proofread their work while the reviewer benefits from the experience by learning effective ways to improve his own writing.
However, peer editing should be done in a caring manner with the intent to help a fellow student and never in such a way as to harm or embarrass someone.
When correctly done, the process involves three major components; compliments, suggestions, and corrections.

A peer review should always start with by complimenting the author’s work in a positive fashion. Tell him or her things you enjoyed about their writing. Did it make you laugh or cause you to pause and think? Then tell them. Secondly, make suggestions that you feel would make the article more interesting, easier to read or better organized. Next, make corrections. In this fast paced world where it seems everything is due at this very moment we all make typos and occasionally forget third-grade grammar rules. Making mistakes and correcting them is a part of the learning process. Finally, remember to stay positive in making these comments.

To prepare for blog post number three I read Paige Ellis’ Blog Assignment #12 which presents a discussion between Ms. Ellis and Dr. Strange regarding their thoughts on peer reviews. I then watched the short video What is Peer Editing by nrpatric. This Prezi presentation on YouTube outlined the main topics of peer reviews; compliments, suggestions, and corrections. Next, I viewed Adriana Zardini's slideshow Peer Edit With Perfection Tutorial that also stresses these components. Lastly, I watched the video Writing Peer Review (Peer Critique)Top 10 Mistakes produced by Tim Bedley. Filmed by students in a middle school setting, this was a lighthearted take on things not to do when reviewing a peer’s work. It features actions such as Picky Patty, Whatever William, Pushy Paula, and Mean Margaret. That would be bad,very bad.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blog Post 2

Professor Dancealot
While watching the movie Mr. Dancealot by Ms. Kari Johnson I am reminded of the media disclaimer, “Please do not try this at home,” or as educators, not in the classroom. To this viewer the message is that this so called style of teaching is not very effective.
Dancing Feet
The author demonstrates this in ways, that as students ourselves, we have all seen or even experienced in a class. In Professor Dancealot’s class the students are not encouraged to participate and in a short period of time most are not even slightly excited to be there. Even the students with an initial interest eventually become apathetic. The author further brings the message of this ineffective teaching method home when it is time for the final exam and the students are totally loss as to what they are expected to do. I would have to agree with the author and also conclude that Professor Dancealot’s teaching methods are very ineffective. I know that I would not enjoy being a student in this class as I would not find very engaging and would soon become bored.

Teaching in the 21st Century
In his presentation, Teaching in the 21st Century, Mr. Roberts expresses his opinion that the role of teachers in the 21st. century has to change. With an ever growing number of technological resources available to students the traditional role of the teacher as a primary source of information is no longer viable. Mr. Roberts thinks the modern teacher needs to evolve into one that embraces this technology as a tool and uses it to engage students.

The following is a not so brief outline of Mr. Roberts’ points:
   •Teaching in the 21st Century.
   •What does it mean to teach in the 21st century?
       •Teachers can no longer simply provide data
       •Students in the 21st century can find data.
       •A limitless amount of data is viable at the stroke of a keyboard.
   •How do we instruct students so that they may benefit from these resources?
       •Have students been taught how to utilize this data?
           •Validate information.
           •Leverage information.
           •Problem solve with information.
   •Should we teach facts and content or skills?
       •Think about the numerous tasks and choices you face in your daily adult life.
           •What resources do you use to accomplish these?
           •How would students complete these tasks or make these choices?
   •Creating in the 21st century means using technology.
       •Tech skills needed to be creative in the 21st century.
   •Modern technology and professional conduct.
   •Technology in the classroom.
       •Gathering and discussing data.
       •Defining reliable sources.
       •Publishing and evaluating work.
       •Benefits for struggling students.
   •Problem solving using online resources.
   •Managing technology in the classroom.
   •Entertainment versus engagement
   •A modern 21st century classroom starts with you, the teacher.
   •What does it mean to teach?

I feel Mr. Roberts makes several valid points. I especially like his suggestion of not teaching content but skills. I know from my experience as a tutor a common question is “How will I ever use this in real life?” To answer this, one of my goals is to bring real life problems into the classroom by introducing some of the day to day examples I encountered as a professional surveyor. Finally, I have to say, excellent presentation Mr. Roberts! I found it most interesting and watched it twice.

Networked Student
In the short video Networked Student Ms. Wendy Drexler introduces the viewer to the use of connectivism which she defines as, “A theory that presumes that learning occurs as a part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties.” In the video Ms. Drexler contends that in the 21st century high school learning should be based on the use of technology to find and share information within network.
The use of online resources such as Google, iTunes, Skype, and blogs are highly recommended as ways to utilize technology in the sharing of information. While I do recognize that there are several benefits to this method of teaching; such as multiple sources of information with varying views, using the student’s interest to engage them, teaching skills needed in a digital community, and so on. I question where the student is learning the basic building blocks of the material. By that I mean a person can type calculus into a key board and get 1000s of links but if that person does not know basic algebra then what have they accomplished? As I see it connectivism can be a powerful tool but at the end of the day it should be just one of many tools in your toolbox.

Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts
In Ms. Vicki Davis’ movie entitled Harness Your Students’ Digital Smarts I feel the theme was along the line of; todays digital student learns with so much more than pencil and paper. Ms. Davis teaches in a small rural south Georgia school system but her class is connected to the world through the use of technology. Ms. Davis firmly believes in encouraging her students to develop skills needed in today’s digital community. One of the stated goals of her class is learning how to use new technology and software. One of the points in the movie I appreciate most is when Ms. Davis proclaims, “So many teachers think I have to know everything before I can teach it and that is absolutely the wrong thing to think.” Yes! I so agree this attitude. I know that when I was tutoring I would learn so much from the students. In fact, the motto of the math lab was, “We learn through helping others .”

Flipping the Classroom
Have you heard of the concept of “flipping” the classroom? In the short YouTube video Flipping the Classroom – 4th Grade Stem Ms. Munafo outlines this exciting new concept. In this video Ms. Munafo explains that flipping the classroom is a way of, “teaching to 21st century learners.” In this sitting the lecture or instructional aspect of learning that is normally done in the classroom is viewed at home the night before class. While the practicing of skills, which has always been done in the form of homework, is done in the classroom. Ms. Munafo highlights the merits of this concept and I must say that I agree with several of them. As a student of math, and after taking numerous math classes, I know that a lot of the already limited class time is often used for homework questions. In fact, I have seen entire classes where all we did was solve homework problems. I also know that many of my math professors have repeatedly informed me that, “you must do the homework, that is how you learn.” Thus, flipping the classroom seems like a win-win concept. As a teacher, your lecture or instruction time is not limited by how much time is left on the clock after answering home questions. Plus, if “homework is how you learn,” then in a flipped classroom your students should be benefiting from the time in class spent in guided practice. Additional, unlike in the traditional sitting, you are now assured that the students are doing at least some practice. With all of its advantages the concept of flipping the classroom is slowly starting to make its way into more school systems. Just this past summer I spoke with two educators, one in middle school and one in community college, who were planning to implement it in their classes.

Also, I am the only one that finds talking with your hands distracting and air quotes kind of creepy. Just saying.
Air Quotes

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blog Post 1

Some say that the class will lead to you consuming mass quantities of adult beverages. That the class workload is too great, far too demanding, and it is one of the most useless classes ever. All we know is that it is called EDM310.
The Stig BBC UK

Lions and tigers and EDM310 oh my! Do I have fears about EDM310? Why yes, yes I do. I am concerned with the amount of time required for this class and being able to stay on top of the workload generated by the four classes I am taking this semester. Additionally, I am unfamiliar with quite a bit of the technology we will be using this semester, pretty sure I have never even read a blog, and that leaves me feeling anxious about the class.

When comparing EDM310 to other classes I have taken my first thoughts are of being overwhelmed by all the information. As an example, most classes I have been in had a two or maybe four page syllabus but EDM310 has a sixteen page syllabus. Plus, there is a twenty-nine page project manual with numerous links to other files and pages. Again, pretty overwhelming and not something I am use to. Yet, just now, I am reminded of a guy I use to work with and one of his favorite expressions.
How to eat an elephant
That seems rather appropriate and fitting in this situation. At least it made me smile and feel better about things.

What will be the most difficult thing for me in EDM310? I think it will be all the writing and keeping up with the class pace, but mostly the writing. I know that I am not a strong writer and fear that my writing ability is not up to the standards of this class. As embarrassing as it is to admit, for my entire life I have had a problem with writing and spelling. Honestly, it has been a deep dark secret which I have always felt ashamed of and now I am putting it on the internet for all to see. However, thanks to Ms. Sims with the University of South Alabama Counseling Services, I am in the process of being tested for Dysgraphia, a learning disability pertaining to writing.

To enhance my learning experience in EDM310, and hopefully make an A in the class, I plan to apply the high work ethics instilled in me. I also am painfully aware of some of my discussed shortcoming and have already started seeking help for those. I plan to use many of the resources available to me here in the EDM310 lab and also the campus writing center. Finally, as much as I am dreading this class, I feel that my taking EDM310 has the potential to change me and my resistance to using technology as an aid in learning.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Practice Post

This is bold. This is underline. This is italic.

This is a new paragraph.

Hello, my name is Mark Nelson. I am from a small rural coal mining community in west-central Alabama where I spent most of my childhood on my grand-fathers farm. Shortly after high school I started an entry level position at a local engineering office and over a period of time worked my way up to department manager. I am an Alabama licensed professional land surveyor and have recently retired after twenty-five years in the field. I am married to LaRita Nelson, my best friend and lifelong companion.
Times Square,New York, New York

Next month we will celebrate our thirty-second wedding anniversary. We are blessed with one daughter, Autumn, who lives out of state. I am attending the University of South Alabama as a result of a family illness that has required my wife to return to her hometown of Mobile. I would like to teach because I enjoy helping others, I like the feeling of accomplishment I receive knowing I have helped others excel, and I am at a point in my life where I want to do something meaningful with the remainder of my working years.

What do I enjoy? Even though my current physical condition is terrible, I am passionate about long distance cycling. Yes, riding a bicycle. A few years ago my wife and I cycled from Nashville, Tennessee to Tupelo, Mississippi, 175 plus miles, in three days. I also like math,
Math Blackboard

I thought calculus classes were fun and found it interesting to see how things mathematically work. I am amused that people think that just because I like math I am smart. I am far from smart; I just work hard and am thankful my father and grand-father instilled a strong work ethic in me. While there are several things I would like to improve about myself, the first and foremost is my writing skills. I have never been a strong writer and painfully struggle with writing. I will be spending a lot of time in the EDM310 lab and the USA Writing Center this semester.