Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Say Cheese

So one thing that I really enjoy doing, anytime I get a chance to, is take pictures. Photography has always interested me, even before I took a photography class in high school (in which I hardly learned anything because the teacher wasn't so great).

Anyway, it's something that I definitely see myself trying to incorporate into my classroom in the future. Learning doesn't always have to be about books and art is something that isn't stressed in school. In recent years, I remembering hearing about schools taking out music and art programs out of their schools.

I remember taking art classes in middle school, but I was never very good at drawing, painting, and sculpting. Although it was fun and definitely cheaper than offering photography classes, I would have loved it if I had other choices when it came to learning about art.

Here is a link to a website that I found with all sorts of ideas for using a digitial camera in the classroom.

Wikis, Websties, Blogs

Photo from flickr.com by bjmcdonald

What are they good for? Lots of things. Discovering these technologies has expanded my teaching mind. They have opened new doors to creative and new ways for collaboration and lesson planning, as well as new ways of marketing myself for when I go job hunting.

In this course I've actually switched from using Weebly for my midterm, to Google Sites for my final. I don't really have a great reason why though. Weebly is so much more appealing to the eye and it's really easy to use. I gave up on Google Sites earlier in the semester because I couldn't figure it out. Nevertheless, I continued to work on it and decided to switch over. I use google for everything anyway. I use it for blogging, e-mail, Google Docs, Reader, so it just made sense to me to keep organized and to keep everything in one place. Google Sites has a lot more options for editing and inserting things like presentations, spreadsheets, pdf documents, etc, without having to use other websites like scribd.com.

As for using websites, blogs, and wikis with other educators, they provide you with so many more opportunities to learn from others, people that you don't actually ever have to meet. We can just do searches for these and find so many new ways of teaching. We may not have to ever meet, face-to-face, the authors of the wikis, websites, and blogs, but we can comment and collaborate that way. I actually follow a blog that has two authors and they don't even live in the same state.

As for the classroom and lesson planning, these technologies provide teachers with so many creative options. We can stray away from traditional ways of teaching somewhat and motivate the students by making lessons more fun with these technologies.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I've been meaning to and needing to explore another technology. So I finally chose to look into MeMoves because I heard of it, but I had no idea what it was exactly.  

This program was developed by a mother that was concerned for her child that has special needs. She couldn't accept that her daughter would never be able to learn, that she would always be "different". She did lots of research to find a way to help her and eventually she found connections through her research in the relationships between mind, body, movement, and music. She started to do a dance every morning and every night with her daughter and soon she was able to remember letters and sounds, when she always forget before. 

It's so simple, but it's so creative. MeMoves is meant to help to calm the minds of children so that they can relax and make connections. 

School is so stressful, especially for kids that are having trouble keeping up. This program actually works and would be a very positive thing to incorporate into the classroom.

Simply checking out the website has even calmed me down :)

Here is a link to the MeMoves blog.

Alternative Paths to Getting a Teaching Certificate

Today, in the education section of nytimes.com I read an pretty interesting article called Alternative Education for Teachers Gains Ground. It goes along with my wiki actually, talking about other opportunities people have that want to become teachers.

Apparently the teaching profession used to be pretty strict.
They dictated how and when people became teachers by offering coursework, arranging apprenticeships and granting master’s degrees.
However, now the most prominent and prestigious schools of education in the country are being harshly criticized, saying that they focus way too much on theory and not nearly enough on good teaching methods through experience.

Once we graduate we're going to have to compete with people that have joined alternative programs, like Teach for America. These programs take any person that has a bachelor's degree, gives them teaching jobs, and they don't even have any prior experience teaching or learning about teaching.

Now, maybe these programs will be able to certify their own teachers.

I'm kind of on the fence about all of this though. On the one hand, this upsets me because, personally, I've been going to MSU, paying the tuition, studying hard, having to take a lot of classes I didn't feel benefited me very much, to finally get a bachelor's degree in education. I agree with the some of criticism education programs have had to endure. I haven't had much experience actually teaching, learning first-hand what to do. Most of the knowledge I have gained so far has been from books, coursework, and hearing about other teachers' experiences.

Nevertheless, I still have another year before I get my degree and I have no idea what my courses will require me to do. Also, even though I feel like a lot of the courses I've taken weren't of much benefit to me at the time, maybe I just wasn't seeing the big picture. All of the theory will probably come in handy in the future when I'm in situations that would help me understand how to solve certain problems.

Photo from a wordpress.com blog - playthink

What do you think about alternative programs? Do you think they're preparing their teachers in a better way? Are we, MSU education majors, wasting our time here? The teachers in the alternative programs have bachelors in a specific field and know it very well, but does that mean they're qualified to go and teach?


A new technology I decided on looking more into is iClickers. I had to buy a few for classes at MSU, during my first and second years here and I was never a big fan. I thought that they were pretty pointless-- mostly because I had to waste my money on something I used maybe ten times within the entire semester.

Nevertheless, even though I don't think they're really necessary, I guess they could be positive. They could be a way to make sure every student is paying attention and it's a good way to have every student participate.

But really, there's more bad than good. Is the data that teachers gain from the iClickers valid? Most students aren't exactly motivated to listen just because of iClickers. All they have to do is press a button, so it's actually not a very good way to make sure they're paying attention and retaining the information. It could just be a lucky guess.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LIteracy Reference Project

So I just recently started doing my Literacy Reference project for TE 301. A lot of people seemed really stressed out about it. I wasn't so worried just because I hadn't even read the rubric for it. I'm glad, though, that I didn't start sooner because my professor announced to us, just recently, that we could don't have to necessarily make a binder of references; we could make a WEBSITE.

CEP 416 is a life saver. Before taking this class, the idea of making a website would have never crossed my mind and I would probably have been deathly afraid of even attempting to make one.

Most of my peers, that I've talked to, have vigorously been working on a binder for weeks and I just sat down one day and I'm already half way done.

Anyway, what led me to write about this is a blog called Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day. For our projects we have to include references that talk about how to teach special education students as well as SLL's. On Larry's blog he shared a great resource for teaching English language learners; it's a 62-page document, but that doesn't matter if you're working with a website :) Here's the link if you don't follow his blog.

Fell for an April Fools Joke on April 14

So I was catching up on reading blogs on my Google Reader and I was fooled. Haha.

I was reading the blog Free Technology For Teachers about a new program called Magic Grade. A program that would give teachers their nights and weekends back! Students could write their essays and the Magic Grade program could whip out an answer instantly. It was too great to be true though and I can't believe that I fell for it, even for a second. I was ready to criticize it to the max because there's no technology out there that will ever be able to do that.

It was, simply, a blog I didn't realize was written April 1.

Photo courtesy of wiseacre photo on flickr.com