Sunday, July 28, 2019


Have you ever needed to learn how to do something you don't know how to do so you watched a "How-To" video on YouTube? There are thousands of these types of videos on the site used to instruct people how to change a tire, cook an omelette, tie a tie, etc.
The website eHow is a website dedicated to instructional steps on how to do various tasks.
The entire idea of an InfoGraphic stems from this idea of showing people a guide or a How-To on completing a task. These graphics designed to be visually appealing and easy to extract the information so the person can learn how to do the task in a quick efficient manner.

All of this "How-To" is an example of Just-In-Time learning, contrary to our typical Just-In-Case learning we see in the traditional American classroom. This is the idea of learning what you need to know when you need to know it.

In a traditional American classroom, the curriculum is set and focuses on a broad range of topics that have been deemed necessary for the students to learn and know while they're in school. This type of education focuses on remembering and memorization to test your ability in these topics given a summative, standardized test. This type of education has come under scrutiny and has much criticism due to its nature of teaching students things they don't actually need and the students miss out on things they would really need in everyday life. The following video depicts the views of one student who states they learning things unnecessary in school, but didn't learn how to do everyday things they would need to know to survive in the real world.

This video has gotten much praise for showing the need for changing curriculum to meet the needs of the world and teach students what they would need to know in their career and life after school.

At higher levels of education, you can see this idea of Just-In-Time learning in the form of vocational training or technical schools. This type of education focuses on teaching the students how to do things when they need them to be learned and learning things they will directly need to know.

This Just-In-Time model focuses on constructing nodes of information and connecting these nodes to prior knowledge. This model also focuses on the ability to learn and the capacity for knowledge and the ability to think critically about topics. We know that information is constantly changing and new discoveries are made all the time that make the information we currently know outdated.

Moving towards this model of Just-In-Time can be helpful to all students, as it teaches them things they would need to know in the future rather than things they MIGHT need to know eventually. This also helps to alleviate the stress and pressure that comes with test taking and having to memorize as much material as you possibly can.

Mr. Brandon Berk
Mt Spokane High School
Spokane Washington

Wikipedia... The New and RELIABLE Encyclopedia?

It seems as though for anything you search through Google one of the first websites listed is a Wikipedia article on the topic. We've all heard the stories of how Wikipedia is an unreliable source that we must never use because of its false facts it tries to state. But are all of these stories of its unreliability true? If you simply type "is wikipedia reliable" into your search bar of Google and hit enter, the first result would be a Wikipedia article no less that directly states "Wikipedia is not a reliable source" in bold font.

The article goes on to say that anyone can edit the documents that Wikipedia produces, so it must not be a reliable source right? Wrong... well, kind of. The article is correct in saying that the documents on the site are editable by anyone, but does that then make it unreliable? One thing that most people don't often know is that Wikipedia has a scale of reliability of their pages. Yes, an actual scale to grade their articles, and the scale can be viewed for any of the pages they run. To view this scale, the viewer simply needs to click on the tab labeled "Talk" on the top bar of the page. The talk page of a Wikipedia article is used for discussing and viewing improvements and general information about the article. This section of the webpage is where the scale of reliability can be found on the webpage. For example, the "Talk" section for the Wikipedia page of the term "Dog" looks like this:

The bottom of this yellow box is where the scale of reliability can be viewed. For this particular page, Wikipedia has listed this "Dogs" page within three different WikiProjects and shows their scale within each project. Lets take a closer look at these scales. The first project for instance deals with Dogs/Breeds. Within this particular project, the article is rated as a "B-Class, Top-Importance" document. But what does that really mean. Going to the following page will show the scale Wikipedia uses to rate these articles as shown in the picture below.

Wikipedia uses a two step process for their scale of reliability. The first is to classify the article within one of their nine categories that are: FA, A, GA, B, C, Start, Stub, FL, and List. Each category has a description of why an article may be listed within that. For instance, a "Start" article is "an article that is developing, but which is quite incomplete. It might or might not cite adequate reliable sources." This scale of classification is a sort of A-F grading scale commonly used within a classroom. Generally the higher the article is rated, the more reliable the article is.

The second step Wikipedia uses to scale the articles reliability is a scale of importance within the initial category and the project as a whole. This scale shows whether an article has Top, High, Mid, or Low importance overall.

So going back to the example of the "Dogs" article that has a classification of "B-Class, Top-Importance" within the WikiProject Dogs/Breeds. This classification means that the article is mostly complete and without major problems and is of the highest importance classification within the category Dogs/Breeds. Therefore, the article about "Dogs" seems to be pretty reliable according to Wikipedia. Lets take a look at an article that isn't rated so highly. For instance, the article labeled "The Last Airbender Trading Card Game" as shown in the image below.

Within the "Talk" page for this article the document is listed within three WikiProjects, and in each it is rated as a "Start-Class, Low-Importance" article, therefore it seems as though it is less reliable in the grand scheme of things. This rating given by Wikipedia shows this article as being a fairly new (Start) article with little significance to the WikiProject... but how does Wikipedia decide that rating? Essentially the rating is determined by the group of people who run the WikiProject. These WikiProjects are run by groups of Editors with certifications that allow them to run the projects. These teams of editors are the people who determine the rating for the various articles. Anyone who is a member of an article page can request for their page to be reviewed by these teams of editors. If they disagree with the rating given to the page, they can request a review of the rating and ultimately get their articles reassessed (after a specified time from the initial assessment). These ratings are certainly subjective, as they are given to the articles by people (and everyone has some kind of bias despite efforts to remove the bias). However, by introducing a team of editors to review the articles, Wikipedia has reduced the amount of initial bias introduced to rate the articles.

It is true that Wikipedia does allow for anyone to edit and change the articles as they please, making it seem unreliable to most. However, Wikipedia has a group of editors to rate the article, so anyone that views the article can see how reliable that document is. This editability feature of the website led to mass panic by teachers of the early 2000's to try and get their students to not use the website for fear of it being an unreliable resource. However, Wikipedia offers a trackable categorization to the reliability of the document that is run by a team of editors. If we teach or kids and students to dig deeper and figure out for themselves whether the page is reliable and to view the scales given, Wikipedia can be one of the most useful resources we use to research various topics.

Wikipedia is a RELIABLE encyclopedia... IF we know how to use it.

Mr. Brandon Berk
Mt Spokane High School
Spokane Washington

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Technology Furthering Education in the Best Way Possible

One modification I would love to use inside the classroom is an online interactive notebook. With math, there are lots of equations that have to be used and memorized. However there have to be programs out there that work well with formulas online that are easy for students to use. This is becoming a big battle inside me figuring out if I want students to have physical notes or online notes. At this moment in time, I would love to see the students take physical notes and conduct more projects and assignments online and keep the results in an online interactive notebook. Textbooks guide the order in which a math class learns new material, but the type of questions I ask my students to work on have to be more than a problem any of the students could easily plug into Google to find the answer. 

I would also be interested in setting up a free online tutoring system for the classes because inevitable there will be kids who understand the material quickly the first time they learn it and other students who will struggle through it for a longer period of time. It would essentially be an online chat room. I imagine the users would be anonymous so the students did not feel embarrassed by being either the tutor or the one asking for help. The students would be able to explain their work using the voice to text option. This website would be utilized since students like using technology to communicate. I would have to monitor it somehow to make sure students are not just copying the answers from the tutor. There would also be other parameters set in place to ensure a tutor is available during specific times, and the tutor would rotate between members of the class depending on who understands the material the best. I would also set up accountability partners to encourage students to complete their homework. 

I would also love for my students to be able to Skype with people that use math in their profession. For example, when we go through proportions, my students can Skype with an architecture company to talk about the importance of measurements and the real life application for proportions when building something. It would also be neat to take a trip to a construction site. However I do not know if that would ever be approved by the administration.

Connectivism for the Future

As a future educator, there is no way for me to teach students without incorporating technology in some manner. Although I wish students took advantage of their teachers more for knowledge, I am thankful to live in a time where technology is capable of enhancing our lives and furthering a person’s knowledge. The educational world is finally coming around to the fact that knowledge can be taught through more mediums than a textbook. 

Connectivism encourages further exploration in terms of gaining knowledge. With the addition of technology, we are able to connect fields and disciplines more readily than before. Students are capable of connecting with people from around the world and learning from the experiences of those people. It’s about time the educational world came out with standards to better prepare students for life after high school concerning technology. Standards sometimes lack behind a couple of years in comparison with where the rest of the world is. I cannot wait to see school districts enable their schools to incorporate technology. It would be a disservice if school districts did not teach their students how to properly use technologies like the internet and social media. The new Washington State Technology Standards incorporate the ISTE or International Society for Technology in Education. These standards are meant as a way to transform education and learning. The standards can be found at this website. 

My pledge is to incorporate technology in order to advance and transform my student’s learning. Students will have the opportunity to make online connections through different websites and through different colleges and universities to grow their knowledge. 

Math + Technology = The Best

After much thought it was pretty clear, math and technology go hand-in-hand so why can't teaching math? Trust. This was a topic that was briefly mentioned within class. Some educators get too caught up in the what ifs and don't allow space the endless possibilities that could happen. I for one plan on using FlipGrid in my classroom. I've mentioned this already, but that is a way my class will be modified. Homework will still be done, but it will now change the way it is done. FlipGrid is solid proof a student is doing their homework. Since there isn't an editing tool, students will more than likely record the video more than once giving more repetition and more of a chance for the students to remember what they were taught.
The two class sessions brought so many different skills that I know I will use. One of my favorite things I learned and want to implement is involving pictures, as we're all visual learners. More often than not, in math you don't get pictures, so I will implement pictures as often as I can. This won't change the classroom extensively so it will merely enhance a lecture.
Now that I've briefed into some ideas that I'll use in my classroom, it's time to talk about SAMR. My favorite example I found is SAMR being explained with the ocean. As of now the only way I can think of redefining my class is by using Zoom to give my students a chance to talk with people in the mathematics field or other professionals explaining how they use math in their career. It may not sound like much but I think this aspect of redefinition will have a huge effect on my future kiddos. Providing the chance to interact with someone may strive an interest, and if not, they will now have more experience under their belt.
All in all technology rocks, math rocks, so together it'll ROCK. Delivery and passion are key, but most of all the love for the students is what will make the difference.

connectivism and its impact

     Connectivism is the idea that the medium is more important than the content. When I first read this I must confess I found it very troubling. As a person who is deeply in love with the field of history, I thought that the content was by far the most important part of education. Now that I have gotten more experience in the field of education I know better than being subject centered. My goal will not be making sure that the students know every single date of what happened in the Civil War. Instead, I can use a student centered model and history to teach them critical thinking and problem solving. This is where ISTE can really step in and help. I can use the new standards to make sure students become, empowered learners, digital citizens, and maybe even a global collaborator by having students help fix Wikipedia articles. 
     As educators we must face the fact that technology will not be going away anytime soon. Instead of fighting it and keeping it away from the classroom we should embrace it and use it so that our students can surf the web safely, wisely, and appropriately. Technology has already became their language anyway, why not use it and have them be empowered learners through their cultural perspective? This model can take education to the next level if we are smart about it. Through technology, maybe we can fix the fact that a large percentage of students do not find that they learn much in school.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Connect to each other, connect to knowledge

Connectivism is a learning theory that sees knowledge as a network. It argues that we take concepts and form conceptual connections to build upon previous information. The network forming process translates into complex learning and happens through social connectiveness. This creates a need for social interactions, as we learn from our connections with one another and these connections generate a network that amplifies the learning experience for all involved. Connectivism focuses on digital networks and learning through these social spaces, like Facebook, Twitter, email, and countless other communities that use the internet to pass information. Here is a helpful video that I found that describes Connectivism in a very accessible way.
                The ISTE Standards for Washington seem to back up much of the ideas that are put forth in connectivism. It emphasizes integrating technology across core curricula and promoting digitally literate students, both of which would make more sense in a connected classroom environment. These should lead to a more personalized learning experience for students as they are able to develop knowledge networks of their own to coincide with the digital networks they are forming in and out of class. The standards highlight how the use of technology should be a seamless part of the learning process, so teachers will have to work hard to figure out how to incorporate the technology in a way that facilitates the learning connections, while maintaining the flow and pace of the class.
I see a lot of benefit to keeping connectivism at the forefront of educator’s minds when designing and implementing lessons. It seems to prioritize learning over knowing, which would make sense in the “just in time” model of education. Students need to learn how to learn, rather than learn a bunch of miscellaneous information, which makes sense in a world where you are constantly connected to an almost infinite amount of data. The learning won’t come from just one source, as it shouldn’t, and connectivism leaves the door open for a variety of opinions. There isn’t one right answer or way to do things, yet we tell that to our students when we only gather information from a textbook and nothing else. The wealth of diversity of knowledge when you focus on the possible connections can create an exciting learning environment for students as they get to take information into their own hands and discover what truth looks like in that topic.

Research Through a New Perspective

This afternoon was full of surprises! Most shocking of all, who knew Wikipedia could actually be helpful? And secondly, who knew a person could Google something from the perspective of another country? Yeah, I am shocked as well! 

Wikipedia can be informational and reliable! I learned about the rating system Wikipedia uses, known as the quality scale. One key to remember with Wikipedia’s quality scale is that an article can improve over time. Even though just about anyone in the world can make an edit to a Wikipedia page, managers can go in and revise edits. Users gain status and prestige as they correctly edit articles and pages that allow them to become managers of the article and page. A fun fact is that the best way to utilize Wikipedia is that once a useful piece of information is found within the article, go down to the resource section of the page and if there is a website linked to the fact, go to that website and double check the facts. The hyperlinked website can be a great resource to use to back up the idea with a credible resource besides Wikipedia. 
The second shocking fact of the day is surrounding Google. “Google it” has become an official verb as of June 2006 according to an article on However, Google is not only useful for typing in specific questions. The lenses through which you google items has now also been redefined. For most of my life, alright up until this past Tuesday, the only solid way I knew to find information was by typing in my question or topic without any special add ons. However, my brain was utterly surprised on Monday when I learned that I can Google a topic from another country’s perspective. For example, when wanting to know about the Cold War from the perspective of the United States, I can type in “Cold War” Yet if I wanted to know about the Cold War from the perspective of Russia, I would type in “cold war” Therefore, it is essential for students to be learning the country codes of different countries in order to enhance and further their research skills. 

Wikipedia and Google have so much to offer our students when we take the time to learn and properly teach how to utilize these websites the smartest way possible. These two websites have significantly altered how I research, and I am very interested and excited to use these in my classroom.

A Generation Fused With Technology

According to Statista, over 4.33 billion people use the internet actively as of July 2019. 
A world not infused with technology capable of using the internet is highly unimaginable. I was born in 1997, and I cannot remember a time when I did not have access to the internet in some form. Little me would never have predicted the world to rely so heavily on these technologies. Although not all these technologies are bad. Technology in Education has taught me that there are key ways to incorporate technology inside the classroom. Using the internet and technology should enhance a lesson. To replace writing an essay by hand with writing an essay on Google Docs would not be the definition of enhancing a lesson. However, replacing a poster project with a YouTube video is a creative and enhancing way to engage the students further by speaking their language and use technology to further their learning. The difference is that these students still need to have quality collaboration time with other humans. Creating a YouTube video by oneself does no good for teaching the student socialization skills. Technology will find a positive and impactful way inside my classroom.

 I will more than likely find many of my students addicted to their phones. While this may present an issue inside the classroom of students wanting to spend more time on social media and less time on the actual math subject, these students are still capable of putting their phones away and engaging with the material. The biggest issue I need to be mindful of is the fact that life can still be happening on their cell phones. While most of the times I hope my students would only be mindlessly scrolling through social media apps, parents and guardians use messaging as a means of communication with their child throughout the day. As a teacher, I have to be aware that students’ cell phones are a vital communication medium in their lives. When a student is typing furiously on their phone, that is a clear indicator that something important and life impacting is happening for that student. Teachers have to be mindful of how to approach students in this moment. I will train myself to approach these situations with grace and love as the first means of emotion. Caring and loving the student is my first priority. 

Children born in the Generation Z category have their whole worlds infused with technology. No longer are students able to go home and escape from their friends and frenemies. Life still happens, and students are aware of life happening around them. However hard I wish for students to be able to escape and forget about their lives while in my class, we are at a time now, as a whole world, where people are always, literally 24/7, connected to every other single person in this world. My option as a teacher is to embrace the technology and find a way to enhance their learning through it. No white flags will be given with technology. It’s time to embrace it and use it for the student’s benefit. 

Take it up a notch!

The SAMR model we learned about on Tuesday helped show how not all use of technology in the classroom is created equally. Enhancing a lesson with interesting technology can be a nice addition to it, but utilizing technology to truly transform the lesson is really what our end goal is all about. This notion has sparked some new ideas in my head, as before this class most of my thoughts on using technology in the classroom fell into the substitution range. I think my content area of social studies lends itself well to technology and can provide for a lot of great learning opportunities if the teacher can figure out how to fit it all together. Incorporating historical video and audio into a lesson are simple ways to substitute technology for written work, nevertheless, they probably won’t transform the learning experience for the student. Those will be useful at times, but I also have a couple ideas for using technology at the redefinition level.
When learning about the US government and its functions, we could partner with another class that is located outside the United States. Students could ask each other questions about each other’s forms of government and how that affects life in their country. The classes could then collaborate on a Google Doc and create a project comparing the governments in the two countries. I think this would be using technology to redefine the capabilities of the classroom because it allows for the creation of new tasks that wouldn’t be possible without the technological tools we are utilizing. The ability to collaborate on a project in real-time with a class on the other side of the world would be inconceivable without Google Docs and other recent technologies like it.
Another idea would be to use Google Maps and other online resources to teach about gerrymandering and district lines. Students would be tasked with redistricting an area of the country and the have to explain why they believe this is the best way for the area to be redistricted. Students would look at the history, demographics, and natural/man-made features of the area in order to find new lines that would be the most beneficial for the most amount of people. We would also have guest speakers for this unit and Skype with local/national officials. Students will be asked to present all of this in a creative, yet professional, manner that could be passed along to local government officials. I think this project would also reach the redefinition level as it gives students the opportunity to use technology to do deep research, talk with important people, and create meaningful work in a new way. We wouldn’t be able to complete this project without the necessary technological tools.
Here are some more great tech tools available for social studies classes!

student's contribution to the internet

     How often have you heard the phrase "do not trust Wikipedia?" If you are like me, this phrase comes up every time you mention the sites name. This however, is poor judgement of the site. While I agree that caution needs to be exercised, I believe that Wikipedia is a lot safer to navigate once you understand the ins and outs of the program. For started, how many actually look at the rating of the site? I bet majority of the people do not even know that this is something that you can do. There is actually talk feature in the program that allows you to access the grade of the website and actually see if its credible or not. This is where this can get fun as a teacher. Imagine yourself as a history teacher and you see a website that is inaccurate and needs help (AKA a starter page). Instead of ignoring it, why not have students collaborate and fix the historical issues? This can be a great way to learn and improve one of the most widely accessed sites for knowledge ever. We often always take from the internet, but when do we ever add value back? This can be a great teaching experience. In addition, whenever we see a struggling site full of misconceptions (if there is one out there since the history ones are pretty spot on) students can learn from it by addressing biased opinions, which guess what! Is what good historians do anyways.
     Another reason I would love to implement this is because far too often students put a lot of effort into their classes but leave with a notebook that they will never open again. And if you were a student like me, that notebook will just be tossed into a fire to roast marshmallows. Through the Wikipedia version, it will be something that they can access forever, and put it in their resume. This process requires attention to details, good writing, good editing and working in teams. To me, this is a great project!

Using technology in history

      As someone who will be teaching both history and citizenship, using technology will come in handy. One of the ways I will be using technology is to break down the classroom walls by connecting the students directly to a current event. The way I plan on doing this is by using several Skype conversations with experts and have the classroom connect with authors or other authority figures. This is a perfect example of SAMR strategy of redefinition since this would not be possible without the internet. Another SAMR strategy I intend to use is substitution. Through this, I would substitute some of the reading and writing assignments to some more fun projects. The way I think this would play out is through a mixture of Jigsawing and using technology. I would assign student groups to read a section and teach the class about it. This will NOT be the typical boring PowerPoint presentation. Instead, students will come up with creative videos to highlight their understanding and creativity. I believe this is a good technique because not only will they have fun in the process, but they will also employ critical thinking.
     I think that history and technology can go hand in hand, and if I link the two more often I think students would enjoy learning history a lot more than from reading the textbook. 

The effects of SAMR on education

     Nowadays, technology is a crucial part of children's lives. Just think to yourself, when was the last time you left home without a phone? I know that if I left my house without my phone, I would almost feel like I left a part of me behind. This is the reality of majority students. This is one of the reasons that they check their phones every five minutes. Understanding that this is part of student's culture is crucial to an educator. If we know that students depend on their technology, how can teachers expect students to be in a no technology zone for a large part of their day? It is no wonder that phones in class has become one of the most widely discussed topics in education. Since we know that student's respond extremely well to technology, it is silly that schools choose to keep their no tech in class rules. In fact, since tech has become a part of student language, more tech should be implemented in class. One way to do this is by implementing SAMR strategies into class. The reason I advocate for this is because it can improve the effectiveness of a lecture. Just picture this, students can either read their textbooks and write a paper about a topic which can be a boring task. Instead, students can make educational movies to express their understandings. This would not only be a lot more fun, but it would also be far more memorable and helpful to measure understanding.
     Personally, as a future history and citizenship teacher, technology has forever redefined how I will approach my materials. In my class, we will be reading articles and bits and pieces of several books that address the historical theme of the day. The way tech has redefined my strategy is because I will now be able to break down the classroom walls through video calls.  I believe students could learn far better if instead of just reading the news, I could now Skype a person who is an expert on the subject to teach instead.

Timeless Education

I'm not even going to try describing exactly what Connectivism is. From my relatively limited amount of research, there seems to be a lot of debate about whether Connectivism is a theory of education, a theory of learning, or even a whole epistemology. For the sake of this post, I'm going to focus on Connectivism as a theory of education (whether that's what it actually is or not) because for me, that's where it finds its most present application.

Generally speaking, Connectivism is an educational theory which proposes that teaching students how to find and evaluate knowledge is more important than teaching them any specific set of collected knowledge. Although Connectivism's epistemological genealogy can be traced from antiquity and up through Piaget and Vygotsky, its real home is the context of the digital age. With so much information so readily available to students today through internet based vehicles, simply delivering content to students is less valuable than it has ever been before. A student in the digital age has little use for a teacher who simply passes on information, since that information along with so much more is only a few keystrokes away.

So what is the role of a teacher in the digital age? This is the question that the educational theory of Connectivism tries to answer. The role of the teacher in the digital age is to teach students how to access information, evaluate information, organize information, and link that information to past, present, and potential future experiences. Rather than being the arbiter of knowledge, in a Connectivist model, the teacher is the guide as the student navigates and builds connections between the pieces of information they discover.

I think there's a lot that can be learned from Connectivism and I think most of what it proposes is useful for the modern educator. In a world that is changing and developing as quickly as ours is, it makes sense to take on an educational approach that is geared toward flexibility. If we educate our students with only opportunities that are available today in mind, they won't be prepared for the opportunities that the world offers them tomorrow. They need to be taught to self-instruct, to be life-long learners, to seek answers for themselves. Our curriculum needs to become a timeless curriculum.

But it is here that we must realize that not everything Connectivism has to offer is new. Teachers across history have sought to make their lessons timeless. Great teachers have always valued problem solving over answer regurgitation, inventiveness over replication, imagination over memorization, discourse over homogeny. In a sense, the profession of teaching, at its best, has always been about the future. As teachers, we want to prepare our students for the future, and as the future is not known, great education has always valued a method that supersedes time. This is not a new idea.

Connectivism is simply modern education's next step in this ancient tradition. And now we get to choose if it's a step we as educators want to take.

Even People Who are Blind are Visual Learners

Everyone is a visual learner, even people who are blind.

While research the concept that everyone is a visual learner I came across this article about Daniel Kish who became blind as a toddler. He has learned how to see through using clicking sounds as a form of echolocation to create an image in his brain.

How does this work? Is he really seeing if he is blind? When thinking about vision the eyes work as an input devices sending images to our brain. We are really seeing in our minds not in our eyes. Our eyes are just the tool that the brain uses to crest the images of the world around us. Kish uses echolocation as his “eyes” to create the image in his brain. 

He uses echolocation to learn about the world around him. How far away objects are, what size are the objects, and how fast they are moving. It is amazing to think about, how literally everyone is a visual learner.

Connectivism in Teaching

Connectivism views learning as “a process in which the nodes of the complex network are interconnected.” Where knowledge isn’t stored in just a person anymore it is found in the connections between different nodes (ex: people or the internet).

The main principles are

  •  Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions;
  •  Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources;
  •  Learning may reside in non-human appliances;
  •  Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known;
  •  Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning;
  •  Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  •  Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  •  Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.
But how as teachers do we apply this to our classrooms. Some ideas are:

It all comes down to relationships. Learning through the relationships of different people, friends, family, teachers, scholars , experts. Technology can foster these relationships, viewing peer reviewed articles online, connecting to experts and friends. Humans are social by nature, we can apply this social network to how we learn, through a network of of nodes of information.

Just-In Time Teaching

Our world is so fast paced now due to technology. When we want to learn something we can just look it up. So how do we teach to students in a society that no longer has a need to memorize facts? 
Teach kids the skills! How to acquire knowledge, how to apply learning across different disciplines and contexts, and how to problem solve efficiently. How to find reliable sources and apply newly learned knowledge to solve a problem. How to create! We should be aiming for the top of blooms taxonomy not just simple memorization. Teaching kids how to evaluate sources to determine if they are reliable using google and Wikipedia then applying what they found in a group project and create something new. We must teach in the level that we want kids to be producing and learning at that.  Technology offers us ways to do this.

Technology as a Culture?

Technology isn’t going away, it’s getting more and more invasive in all of our lives. Especially younger generations. Most of their social interactions are happening online now. Understanding that they’ve grown up watching cartoons on tablets, not waking up early on Saturday morning to watch the “good cartoons” on tv, is an important part to understanding the lives of today’s kids. Technology is this young generations language.

Whether or not we like or agree with how invasive technology is in children’s lives as teachers we need to try and understand it. It is a big part of how they were raised and live their lives. If we are too stubborn to accept these changes then we won’t be able to fully connect and communicate with our students. We don’t have to agree with it but at the very least we should try to see it for what it is.

When Tech Hits a Speed Bump

For some odd reason, I can't get my computer to publish any of the comments I have attempted to post! As such, I have simply decided to overcome this obstacle by posting my comments in a new blog. 

My first response to Neil's Comment Carnage post: 

I was wrapped in by this post Neil! Well done, both content wise and image wise. I had not thought about using this thread structure as a way to engage in argumentative/persuasive writing. Yet, you hit on the important fact that a thread forces concise writing to take place. As an ELA teacher, I will definitely be incorporating this form of teaching the content because it is obviously applicable to my students' lives. The one point of wonder, though, is whether these threads are really inviting productive discourse? As the trends of these posts show, argumentation for the sake of argumentation seems to be the motivating factor more than an opportunity for minds to be changed/influenced. Still, I don't think it is a bad desire for us to want to engage this medium and form in hopes of improving the comment section of a controversial media post. 

Another comment for Neil: 

I had another thought: what if students also had to leave a flip grid video as a comment? Facebook allows for videos to be added in the comment section so it would be an option. This way, students actually have to verbalize their persuasive writing and gain experience conversing over issues of debate. In addition, they could analyze the different impacts that writing persuasively, versus speaking persuasively, has on their audience. 

More of my responses to come! Sorry for the inconvenience, but alas, that's tech for you sometimes. 

For my next comments: 

To Ainslee's Even People Who are Blind are Visual Learners,

This is such a cool find! Thank you for sharing. I think this touches on what was said in class about the way that learning styles aren't so much hard and fast differences, as they are hierarchies of our best points of accessing learning. Everyone, as you said, is a visual learner: our minds need a representation to hold on to. What this video touches on are the differences between images that are created out of one sensory input. Perhaps we as teachers should consider incorporating different kinds of images/visuals so that all students have their visual needs met. Then, the students can pick which representation best fits their minds, just as this video's individual was able to.

To Kolbie's Research Through a New Perspective,

I agree Kolbie. Learning that you could refine your Google search to be that of another country's or state was phenomenal and one of my biggest take aways from the class! I can imagine so many class writing and researching projects that could utilize this resource. What is great is that students will be able to receive a more wholesome perspective than if they only knew how to search within our local and national news outlets. I think that math classes could use this resource too, perhaps to research current events within the mathematical field-- including key international figures and events.

Picture This

Does anybody remember the 2008 movie Picture This with Ashley Tisdale? It's your basic chick flick/rom-com, but the interesting part is the introduction of the "video phone," oooooo, ahhhhh. Ashley's character gets a video phone to replace her dinosaur of a phone and it redefines her life.

Smartphones have redefined the lives of 2.5 billion people across the world. So, how do I let this piece of technology redefine the classroom? Something that has caught my interest lately are all the websites for people who need some extra help with designing. Sites like, Canva, Adobe Spark, even Google Slides. These websites have made creating visual aids easy. So, what's so important about visual aids?

All of us need visuals to retain information. Images increase information retention by 55%! Not only do these tools enhance my instruction, increasing information retention, but they serve as an amazing tool for students. The best part about these sites, is that it doesn't take hours to make a beautiful visual. Here is a list of the 12 best sites for making an infographic, and most of them say you can make one in 30 min!

My future high school students will spend the majority of their waking day looking at their phones. Although I want to incorporate time face to face with real people, why not speak their language. The use of sites for creating visual aids is just one way I hope to incorporate technology. My knowledge of technology and its potential has touched the surface and I look forward to discovering the news ways of engaging students through tech. Here's to a lifetime of always trying to stay ahead of the curve! 

Redefining the Role of the Teacher

What does it mean to learn? How do we learn? Technology has thrown a wrench into the theory of learning. Throughout history, educators held all the knowledge. They were the experts on biology, english, math, history. If you had a question, you asked a scholar. So, what's new?

Well, we already know that answer, the internet. Since the dawn of the internet, we no longer need a wise sage to get the information, we can simply consult the vast community of scholars online. The true change in the access of knowledge, is the smartphone. Almost every adult and high school student has immediate access to all the answers. This presents a problem for some educators, namely that they can now be proven wrong. But it also begs the question, "Should this change how we teach?" I think the better question is, "Does this change how we learn?".

The theory of connectivism address how technology has changed learning. The source of our knowledge is this vast interconnected web. To me, this is exciting! Twenty years ago, if I wanted to learn a new skill, I would have to either find a really good book, or some who is a master and has time to teach. Two years ago I decided I wanted to learn dipped pen calligraphy. So, I consulted the internet, found a blogger who gives instructions and started my journey. The students we are teaching can learn almost everything through YouTube. So, what's the point of a teacher?

Within this new model of connectivism, the teacher must step off their stage, and become the guide. Students have access to all the knowledge they could possibly want, but do they know how to use it? Without the proper guidance, do they know how to process it and what do do with the knowledge? The teacher becomes a guide to the knowledge that's available. The role of the teacher is to ask probing questions that lead students into making connections.

We cannot ignore technology and its impact on learning. So how do we embrace it, without it taking away the teacher? As teachers, we cannot let the internet serve as a substitute, but we must redefine the role of the teacher, adapting to the new age of learning.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Cool Beyond Compare

I got my degree in electrical engineering, with a minor in physics, prior to attempting this MIT program.  One of the things I love so very much, is the concepts of physics.  Below is one of the coolest videos I have seen on how to explain that sound creates waves.  Please take the time to watch it.  I look forward to one day showing this video to the students in my classroom!!

This video was created by Nigel Standford in 2014.  Now with what we have learned about technology and how it is always changing, imagine the ways that physical concepts can be shown using technology!  I know that I wanted to understand everything in this video after watching it.  Imagine what a child would start to realize from watching the patterns that sound waves create.  

I know we only touched a few of the MANY technology concepts in this class; however, it reminded me what I loved about engineering.  How our world is changing and developing every moment.  We as educator get the privileged to educate the upcoming youth.  One major concept that is not to be forgot is that we must continue to learn as time goes on.  We must be able to use technology in a way that the youth of this current time understands.  The best way to draw a child in, is get them wanting to ask questions about why phenomenons happen.  

I hope you enjoyed the video. 

Doing the Unthinkable - Coding in 4th Grade

A lot of the time a good idea just needs to be seen and imagined for it to become reality.  This project was created by Melanie Sylvester, for her kids to experiment with.  Melanie came up with this amazing idea about having her 4th grade students, from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, code in a program called scratch. 

  • This program enables children to create interactive stories, games, and animation.  
  • See the below video for some of the awesome things that can be created with scratch:

Melanie was able to use her network on twitter to find out more information on coding to create an amazing idea for the grade 4 unit it electricity and magnetism.  Melanie started by trying coding out on her 9 year old son Cade.  Once she was satisfied that the project could be done and would be of interest to kids, she moved her idea to the classroom.  She stared with a few stand alone lessons in coding with scratch.  Lessons were taken from the scratch curriculum guide and then students looked at different project that were already created.  Students then walked through the tutorial and excitement and collaboration exploded in the room. 

After several stand alone lesson with success, the class was ready to integrate.  This is when Melanie again reached out to her twitter network for ideas.  Someone suggested to her that she should use a Makey Makey.

  • A Makey Makey is an easy-to-use invention kit that turns everyday object into touch pads. 
  • See the following video for some applications of the Makey Makey.

The student were introduced to the use of the Makey Makey.  Once they got the hang of it, the moved on to use the Makey Makey to test items for conductivity.  Each group of children then, created a final project.  The children were required to record their final.   One groups final project of a cucumber race is seen in the video.  The instructor asks the children to explain what they knew about the topic.  It is seen from the video that a vast amount of learning took place in this 4th grade class.

This shows a few different important things.  One, it is vital to use today's technology to reach out and learn.  Without Melanie's use of twitter, she may never have started using Scratch or the Makey Makey.  Also, this goes to show how one great idea can expand into something amazing and learning filled.  I hope to create something like this with my students!

Reference List:

Makey Makey:


Coetail Course 5 Final: Creating and Coding:

Connectivism And ISTE(echnology bad?)

Connectivism is not a new concept in education. When I hear the word I think of ecosystems, the circle of life (the original Lion King was better), and having a connected classroom community. Technology is already an integrated part of our daily lives. The amount of time I spend in front of a screen is embarrassing (given, it’s mostly for school). Am I ever very far from my phone? Not really.

If we have low expectations for adults to avoid technology, why would we hold kids to a higher standard? They have, after all, grown up with the stuff. The kids entering my kindergarten class have never lived in a world without the iPhone, smartphones, iPads, google, the internet, or Netflix. To teach in a classroom that doesn’t integrate these technologies seems counterintuitive.

But there’s a big part of me that can’t help but think about all of the early studies about how technology affects kids brain development. These studies have been coming out since I was in grade school - first warning about the impact of screen time (TV) on the brain. I cannot imagine what scientists are saying about screen time now. For my own sanity, I’m not going to look it up.

I don’t have an answer to the question of how we best serve our students given the science of how their brains work. I can’t help but think that any mission to teach without technology would be futile since kids are exposed to screens outside of our classroom. Furthermore, denying our students technology in the classroom would rob our students of cool opportunities (like Skyping humans from other countries, and showing knowledge in alternate ways (SeeSaw). Given new ISTE standards I’m sure we’re going to see many old school teachers grumble about technology in the classroom and further about how this generation is going to be even worse than millennials - how is that possible! 

I don’t have answers, only questions about how we can thoughtful integrate technology into our classroom to maximize it’s usefulness and best prepare our students for the world, and for their future classes.

art: the future is here, the time is now

I watched a video on an art teacher using technology as a medium and it blew my mind.
she had students animating paintings, explaining their process and thoughts of their work by using an app to scan their work like a QR code and having it play overtop. It is crazy cool.
And whomever wrote the NES Art test needs to wake up.
There was a not a single question on the test about this and there should be.
There should be a whole class on this.

There were kids drawing with 3-d pens.

They are no longer confined to the limitations of paper!
Do they still have to think about proportions, composition, texture and the other artistic guidelines of drawing, yes! And now they have to think spatially and dimensionally?!

There were also students utilizing VR to make works in VR that only exist there.
They are sculptures in space not limited by time, money, weight, anything. unless the system crashes.
They can zoom in and zoom out.  turn it upside down and push save whenever class is over to pick it up at home.

The systems and standards are out of touch and could be updated.
not saying we throw everything out but the opportunities is schools have gotten much bigger and I cannot wait to see where we go!

SAMR? Hardly know her!

I know it’s not original but I’m super excited by the idea of having my kindergarteners do a skype pen pal.

Integrating technology into the classroom is HUGE. It bridges gaps for our students who have disabilities that impact their ability to hold a pencil, communicate orally, or to show their understanding using the written word. It also means that my kindergarteners, most of whom enter my classroom not knowing how to read or write, can have pen pals. Or maybe a more appropriate term would be web pals. 
Technology is a huge part of the lives of our kids today. In my past year working in a classroom I saw many students try to use a desktop computer the way you’d use an iPad - this was not successful for them. We had to teach them to use the computer, and for them, this was a non-intuitive struggle. Why would you use a mouse when you could use your finger? What is a key pad? 
One of my students always found some way to get the computer to the html screen, symbols he couldn’t comprehend would be streaming down half of the screen while the other half showed a preferred activity like Peppa Pig. It was about as comical as it was frustrating. 
“Don’t touch the keyboard” I would say, countless times, tucking it behind the monitor, presumably beyond reach. Needless to say a maximum of fifteen minutes later I’d hear “Help please!”

I think it’s a vital skill to teach our kiddos how to use all of the forms of technology we have in the classroom. For one of my kiddos learning to type was a motivator to learn the alphabet. He didn’t engage with traditional methods of learning the alphabet but he sure learned the letters quick when he figured out that all he had to do to get computer time was type in a password when a teacher wasn’t looking. 

This is all to say that I think technology, even while I still have complicated feelings about it, is a necessary and motivating, and cool thing in our classrooms. It will provide opportunities to redefine (hello SAMR) lessons in my classroom. Kids will be able to communicate with humans across the globe, in real time! That was not feasible when I was growing up. Long distance phone call? Way too costly in the early 2000’s. 

Technology is here - I’m excited (and nervous) to see how it will impact my kindergarten classroom.

The Technology Marriage

First grade was the first time I really remember using the old, beige box to look of facts on the white-tailed deer. I had a picture box diorama we were working on and my ZooBooks I had checked out of the library didn’t seem to cover what food the deer ate as much as I needed. We put in the CD, asked my mom to get off the phone and we looked up information about deer. Little did I know that my first interaction with the computer would be so unmonumental; looking up deer habitats. 
Now it is hard to imagine a day without technology or a computer in anything. Our lives are tied to the grid now. For better or for worse. I know I am never more than three feet away from my phone, not to mention the devices I wear. When life is so integrated with technology why shouldn’t the classroom be? #reallifeapplication
I will be going into a fifth grade class and this is the first year there will be a 1:1 Chromebook classroom. I am excited to utilize the easy Google docs/slides/sheets  to work. We can use in real-time chats and take class notes for those who are sick and we can use the hyperlinks. Not that we will be doing this in a serious manner but it is a good practice and will set the tone for future grades. 

To make this more interesting today tie in more wedding themed metaphors and ironic cliches.
  • like the two becoming one
  • can't live with them, can't live with out it
  • something about apps
  • something about a wife-i?
  • i don't know, just be clever, witty #newyearresolution2019

Fun Fact: I do have a special relationship with Google. We share a birthday. September 27th, I’m a few years older but every year on our birthday they decorate the home page all celebratory like.

How does Genius Hour work?

What is Genius Hour?

Does it have something to do with the Genius Bar?
What about him?

Yes and no.

What is genius hour?

genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.  It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.” - Genius Hour

The idea is built on the notion that if we give kids free, unstructured time to be creative and innovative they’ll come up with cool ideas. Tech companies like Google have implemented this idea of ‘Genius time’ into their business model by providing paid time for their employees to investigate passion projects. The result? Gmail.  On a smaller scale businesses have given employees paid free time to collaborate and out of this time we have seen efficient, meaningful results. The clincher? It took way less time for employees to solve a problem during paid unstructured time than it did for employees to solve problems while doing their every day jobs.

This makes sense - we’ve used this idea in education for a long time. We’ve given kids reign to choose a project they are passionate about and to explore with very few parameters. We’ve seen this play out in the larger school system too - project based schools in our area include West Valley City School and the Community School. Both report high student engagement, grades, and rates of success. So, if genius hour is so great, why don’t we implement it far and wide?

Is it feasible to ask a teacher to give up a whole hour of curriculum each day to allow her students to play? Is it truly genius hour if the teacher gives the kids free time during the day to work on a project she put parameters on? How does this work across different grades? More broadly as we work to serve all learners in an increasingly diverse and inclusive classroom how does genius hour play out?
For students who haven’t yet developed investigative skills would genius hour be tantamount to play time?

These are all questions to consider as we decide whether to implement genius hour in our own classrooms.