Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Global Learning's Effect on Education

World Education Rankings
Dr. Z went to Jordan for a conference and held a class session while he was in his hotel room. This was absolutely fascinating. Without doing anything we got to meet a man from Jordan and one from Australia and talk to them for a little bit. We shared with them what we had been working on in class and they shared a little bit about themselves with us.

It just goes to show how easy it could be for teachers to collaborate with teachers from around the world. We all have different specialties and I can only imagine if we could find people that specialized in different topic from around the world and had those people present those topics to our classroom how well they would be received.

I think Global Learning has the ability to bring the United States on top of the achievement board. If our teachers would get in touch with the teachers from, for example, North Korea and Finland and observe how it is what they do and how they do it and maybe discover ideas that we are missing here. It is no secret that we are falling further behind and our students are struggling so any help we can get from other countries we should take.

Reading Brigade Labels

During class today we created this video about what makes us special. Just by looking at us you wouldn't be able to tell what it is that we care the most about. We created this video so that you could learn more about us and what we love.

Using Problem-Based Learning

PBL occurs when the teacher’s role is that of a facilitator. S/he models what should happen, scaffolds, and monitors the students’ learning. The students work in groups to learn about real-life problems. The goals of PBL are to help the students develop flexible knowledge, effective problem solving skills, self-directed learning, effective collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation. *

Flickr- Josie Fraser
I think that this is a great way to encourage collaboration and interest by having students learn about topics that most likely affect them or someone that they know. We don’t always want to learn about topics that we will never have to deal with in life and knowing that what you’re doing affects someone is a great motivator.

Here is an example of a list of PBLs.

* Hmelo-Silver, C.E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and How Do Students Learn?. Educational Psychology Review, 16(3)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Aha Blog 5

While working on our final project Lauren suggested an activity for us to do called Theatre of the Oppressed. It was a big eye opener to me that when we face situations we have many scenes playing out in our heads which is a big part of visual literacy. I struggled a little bit at first trying to figure out how the two fit in, but since visual literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image. When we think and are presented with situations we visualize them in some way and from there take further action.

I came across this website that’s a periodic table of visualization methods. It has examples of data, information, concept, strategy, metaphor, and compound visualizations. It would be a great tool for someone to use when trying to figure out how to best represent an idea. By scrolling over each ‘element’ an example would come up with a short overview.

Monday, April 30, 2012

First Time Felon Review

1. What do you feel is the message the director is trying to express in this movie?  Support your answer with examples.

The message that the director tried to express in the movie is that minority men are discriminated against for any possible reason that one can dig up. The main actor, Greg, tried so hard to get a job to stay off the streets and even though no experience was necessary for one of the positions and he was completely honest with the lady hiring, she still told him that she would not be able to hire him. The crime that he was imprisoned for was not the same as some other people, but because he was black and had served some time he was immediately disqualified. Another message that the director might have tried to express is how scary the streets are. There were several times that I was so disturbed by what I was seeing and what made it even scarier is that many people live their lives like that. Greg’s best friend who sold drugs was very happy with what he was doing because he was making a lot of money without having to struggle to find a job like Greg. The unfortunate thing is that he ended up getting murdered for “snitching.” It’s a shame how some people can make so much money and be so happy by doing illegal things and the honest, hard-working people struggle so much to make a living.

2. If applicable, discuss if you think this movie has accurate depictions of minorities or if they are situational? Why or why not?

The depictions of minorities are situational. The sergeant was a black man who was ashamed of the black men at the camp. He was so rude to them and treated them very poorly because he didn’t consider them to be men like he was. A white soldier refused to work with the mostly black prisoners while the people of the town were more than grateful to have their help. All of the ruckus that happened was all caused by the African Americans and the white people were always considered to be the good people. The Latino female Captain was extremely kind and understanding with the prisoners which to me seems like it would be an accurate depiction since she could probably relate to them being a minority herself.

3. Explain if you think the director’s ethnic/cultural/professional background played a role in directing this film?

Charles S. Dutton’s background played a huge role in directing this film. He is a black man that was born to a laborer, served time in jail, and ended up at Yale. “I used to be hardcore, hardhearted guy. Once you make the decision to change, all kinds of things happen,” Dutton once said. I think he created the movie to show young men who are struggling like he once did that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that as long as they set their minds to change and do better for themselves that things will start changing and getting better for them.

4. What groups (people of color, nationality, culture, class, gender etc.) may be offended or misinterpret this movie and why?

If everyone that watches this move knows who the director is and the life that he has lived, then I don’t think that anyone would be offended by the movie. It depicts a little bit of how his life was and what he saw growing up.

5. What the movie added to your visual literacy?

I was amazed as to how much meaning tattoos had. The prisoners knew immediately who belonged to what gang based on the drawings on their bodies. They used that as a weapon and it caused much controversy in the movie. The gangs also used their artistic skills to claim their territories. The most important and memorable thing I learned is how where we come from has so much to do with who society thinks wecan become.

6. What kind of artistic and/or visual means did the director use in the movie to focus our attention?

To focus our attention the director made all of the scenes look very realistic. The storm scene was so powerful and all of the emotions could be seen from how well they portrayed it. The darkness of the building where Greg lived at the end was so powerful in that it showed how scary the place was and how one can never know what is behind the corner or a closed door.

Using Interactive Whiteboards

Anything that a teacher does on a computer can be transferred over to the whiteboard. Instructions can be recorded so that teachers can go back to them when it comes time for reflection or just to go over it with a student who was absent the day of a particular lesson. Some other benefits of interactive whiteboards are: built-in maps, digital storytelling, brainstorming, notes taken directly into PowerPoint presentations, project calendars, helps in the writing process, use it with Kidspiration or Inspiration, illustrate and write books, diagramming activities, electronic word wall, and sharing projects during conferences.
In the field experiences I’ve had I saw one teacher use the interactive whiteboard with her first graders and they seemed to greatly enjoy it. They had an opportunity to participate and go to the front of the class to ‘teach’ their classmates. A kindergarten room that I was in had an interactive whiteboard that had never been used. The teacher didn’t know how to use it, so she just simply didn’t. Another classroom that I have visited had the whiteboard, but I only saw the teacher using it. The students sat and watched just as if the teacher had been using a projector.

The interactive whiteboards can be very helpful to the teacher and beneficial to the students if they are used correctly. Students have to be able to have hands-on experience with them and teachers have to know how to use them.

Creating/Using Podcasts in Education

Wikimedia Commons
Since my group was called the Reading Brigade everything we did had to do with literacy in some way. So, when it came to creating a Podcast I, initially, thought that we could read a book and discuss it on the Podcast. That obviously wouldn’t have been all that interesting so my group members and I decided that we would try to get in touch with authors and see if anyone would be willing to Skype with us so that we could transfer it over to a Podcast and share it with our classmates. I emailed Nathaniel P. Jensen and he emailed be back the next day saying that he would be happy to Skype with me and my group. We were thrilled! Also, Jenna’s aunt is an author so she agreed to help us as well. The world that we are in is so fascinating! With a few clicks we were talking to people that I never thought that I’d have the opportunity to speak to.

It was such a simple task to create the Podcast and be able to share it with our classmates. This is something that any teacher can do to make lessons more interesting.

Scholastic has many Podcasts of books and also tips on how to use them in the classroom.

Creating your Group PBL Lesson

It was hard in the beginning to think of something that we could do for PBL. We researched many websites to look at other people’s ideas. After some discussion we realized that we all thought that most classrooms and playgrounds weren’t very accessible to the handicapped students. It was disappointing to me because these students already have many problems to deal with on a daily basis and then they go to school and they can’t do the activities that other students are doing and when they have problems getting around to where they need to be how can they focus on their learning?

Take a look at our ideas that we started off with as we were brainstorming what it is that we could do for our PBL lesson.

This was my version of a boundless playground.
At the end we ended up teaching a lesson to our classmates about how they could create a boundless playground using Google Sketchup.

The other groups all had creative ideas as well. I used Glogster and PicMonkey which were both extremly fun and a lot easier to do then Sketchup! There are many tools that can be used with PBLs. I don't know if I would have ever come across all of the tools that my classmates introduced me to on my own so I'm very grateful to have had such a creative bunch of people in my classroom. They have taught me so much that will help me tremendously.  

American History X Review

1. What do you feel is the message the director is trying to express in this movie?  Support your answer with examples.

There are a few messages that I believe the directory tried to express in the movie. The most obvious is that whether we know or not chances are high that someone is looking up to us and wanting to be just like us. Derek was doing what he thought was right in the movement and didn’t think until much later that Danny, his little brother, was greatly influenced by his actions. Even though Derek had changed and became a better person Danny still had issues understanding that and realizing that his brother was wrong in everything that he did early on in his life. Another message is that it is in our nature to seek revenge. We don’t all do it in extremes like Derek, but we hold grudges when they really are pointless. Just because their father was killed by a black man Derek felt that it was necessary to punish every black man for what happened to his father. The strongest message I believe is that no matter how strongly we feel about something our views can quickly change. Derek hated everyone but the people in his circle and hurt so many people, but in the end he was one of the nicest people in the movie. Through some rough things he went through while in prison he realized that what he was doing was wrong. Unfortunately, we don’t all have opportunities that make us realize that what we are doing is wrong, but through time we can all still change and become better.

2. If applicable, discuss if you think this movie has accurate depictions of minorities or if they are situational? Why or why not?

The depictions of minorities are very situational in a way. Not all white people hate black people. Not all black people sell drugs and commit crimes. I feel that this question is tough to answer just because the depictions are accurate for some people especially during that time.

3. Explain if you think the director’s ethnic/cultural/professional background played a role in directing this film?

I wasn’t able to find much on the life of Tony Kaye, the director. I did find out that he threatened to have his name removed as the director because he wasn’t okay with the editing of the movie. It is obvious, though, that he understands all the tensions among racial groups and understands the importance of stopping it.

4. What groups (people of color, nationality, culture, class, gender etc.) may be offended or misinterpret this movie and why?

I think that people of all the different nationalities, cultures, class, and gender portrayed in the movie may be offended depending on how they look at the reasons behind the movie. It is very harsh and nothing was sugarcoated. I found myself angry so many times throughout it just because that kind of stuff has happened so much and still even exists in some places.

5. What the movie added to your visual literacy?

This movie showed how easily we can look at what someone is doing and come to admire it and follow it because we look up to that person that is doing it. We observe each other which is why it is important to realize that you never know when someone is looking at your actions.

6. What kind of artistic and/or visual means did the director use in the movie to focus our attention?

The scenes that were from the past were in black and white and the scenes after Derek got out of jail were in color. I think this was done to make it obvious to the viewer what used to be and what is. Also, it might have something to do with how our history was and the bright path that we are starting to follow.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Using Collaborative Tools

“Complete a project without physically speaking to each other… what!?” Those were my initial thoughts when Dr. Z told us that we had to do a project without speaking to each other at all physically and being in different places as we worked on it. We got onto Google Docs and started typing away. We agreed that we wanted to know what the most used and favored technology was in our class. Since we are all educational technology minors we thought it would be interesting to see what technology our class was the most comfortable with. Here is a link of our survey that we used. I also discovered which is an absolutely fascinating tool! It shortens the webpage into just a few words that the user can actually select.

After we got our results back we were once again back on Google Docs trying to figure out what to do with them. Google Spreadsheet was a great tool to use because it provided us with graphs and charts based on the responses. We used those to create our power pointpresentation and then a video of the results. To create the video we used Jing. Since we were all unfamiliar with it we ended up getting together and creating the video.

Once we were finished with everything, I realized how simple it all was. It actually is so easy to use collaborative tools and not have to worry about where to meet with your group and what time best works for everyone. We only used Google Docs, but we could have Skyped, texted each other, tweeted, and used many other tools.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Helping our Veterans

During class today I learned that 1 out of 4 people is homeless. It shouldn’t be okay for anyone to be homeless, especially our Veterans. They risked their lives to fight for our country and for them to end up on the streets is a shame.

On I created a poster to help encourage people to volunteer or donate to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Contact information is provided so that people can contact the VA Voluntary Service to see what it is that they can do to help our veterans.

Check out the website for yourself regarding your interest in serving America’s veterans: Help

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Team Working on it introduced Glogster to us today and I absolutely love it! I could spend hours playing with it and there would be so much more to do. Their topic that "words matter" is something that I never thought much about before, but it is extremely important. It is a free gift that we could all give someone and it does not take much effort to do at all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aha Blog 4: The Purpose of Ads

After having listened to most of my classmates present chapters of the book we have been reading and after having heard much discussion about how oblivious we sometimes are I decided that I would try to become at interpreting, and making meaning from information presented in the form of images.