Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning Styles Blog Post

After reading about learning styles, I was able to sit and think about how I learn best. I think this is a difficult question because each of these learning styles are ways that I can learn. I was a little difficult for me to decide which learning style was best. After doing some research I settled on which learning style suited me best.

I feel that I align most closely with the Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence learning style. The most effective learning strategies that I understood, and helped me learn were stories and lectures that my teachers used. I read a lot, but I don't have great reading comprehension, or retention. But I remember details, stories and anecdotes from professors years back. I remember stories from history class in high school - and I seem to really enjoy lecture. I also like discussions, logical point by point debates, and I am a stickler on language and grammar. I found it interesting that when explaining this learning style, it said that many of the people with this style were teachers. Guess I'm in the right field!

There were a lot of learning strategies that I think were less effective when I was in school. I never really liked Bodily/Kinesthetic learning style. I do use some hands on activities, and I have learned by doing them, but I find it very frustrating. When approaching a difficult task, I would rather be taught how to do it, and explained. If this is done, I can then do what I need to do. I don't like being left to figure out an activity, even if it is hands on. I find it funny that it says people with this type of learning style have good balance and hand eye coordination. I think I'm a pretty clumsy person, and that might be a good reason why I don't like this learning style.

As a teacher, it's very difficult to identify each students best learning style. I think it's also tough to ask students how they learn best. I think students need to be older to be able to understand how they learn. If a teacher could identify each student's learning styles in a classroom, it would still be difficult to teach to specific styles. You'd simultaneously have to teach in 4-5 different ways. This is almost impossible, so there's a few things I do in my classroom to help students learn - even though I'm not hitting each style in class. First, I try to use different styles each day. I'm not going to lecture every day, and I'm not going to show movies each day either. By instructional diversity, I can teach in different ways and open up new ways to learn to students.

I also try segmented instruction in my classroom. I lecture, we read, we have group activities, we have discussions. If I can do all of that in my classroom in a day, we've covered a few separate learning styles.

Lastly, I try to teach to different learning styles by providing extra information for students. I have a class web page (I've used one before - now it's being re-created) and it has games, interactive quizzes, links to videos and charts. My website compiled information in different ways and allowed students an opportunity to use different learning styles - even if I can't teach in all of the styles, all of the time.

So as you can see, I think our focus should be to teach using a variety of styles, and provide additional information for students for them to learn in the best way possible.

Creative Commons and Media Use Lab

Photo Attribution:
Original Image: Greece
By Enggul

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial - No Derivs license.

Here is a picture of ancient ruins in Greece. There are many interesting things about ancient Greece that I talk about in my class. These ruins are part of them. There are many things that I can do with Creative Commons images like this. First, I could use them in my lectures or PowerPoints. I could also compile images like this that my students could use for reports. I do always have to make sure though that the licensing would allow my students to use them, and modify them if needed. Using these photos are a good way to bring far away places into the classroom. This makes it easy for students to make connections and to become active learners.

Here is a link to my Picasa album.

I only have one photo uploaded now, but I hope to add more later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Personal Learning Reflection

As I take this class on educational technology, I think about all of the changes that I’ve witnesses as a student, in the realm of technology. When I started in school, there was no internet. Color printing was purely amazing, and we were tested on how to use a card catalogue. There are constant changes in technology – and it’s na├»ve to think that I have a grasp on it, or that I know everything there is to know.
Technology is always changing, always growing and evolving, and my goal is to stay on top of that change. Everyone has had the professor or teacher who doesn’t quite know how to use the machine that they are using. Whether it’s the professor that “Replies All” instead of forwarding an e-mail, or the teacher who can’t get the projector to work, my goal is to not be that teacher.

This is an evolving goal, something that I’ll always have to keep up with. The more I learn, the more I’m able to share with my students. By doing this, I can accomplish my second goal, which is to create a class that engages students in social studies and give them a hands on education where they can be active learners.

Chemistry class has labs, biology class has dissections. What does Social Studies have? Globes? How can I make this class fun and interesting? Technology. I want to learn all aspects of technology that will engage my students. I want to allow them to have all the resources available at the click of a mouse. It’s not about a “fun” class. I ‘d love for my class to be fun, but most of all, I want my students to learn. I want to make them interested in the subject matter, and I think the best way to do that is by using technology.

When teaching with technology however, is it important to note that not all students have the same learning style. This means that some students are visual learners, some learn by hearing, and some learn by doing. Creating a webpage isn't going to automatically make your students do better. But, if you create a web page that will help students learn using a different style, compared to what you're able to use in the classroom, you will find that the students will learn more.

By integrating the internet into my class, and into my own professional development, I've been able to learn a lot of things. Having the ability to learn about new technologies, and how to use them in a class setting has taught me much more than I could have learned within my own district.

I feel that the assignment that best shows how good I am with technology is the SIG project that my group and I created. We chose to create a Wiki, and a wiki alone is great - but what I like about it is it combines many of the technologies that I've discovered during this course. I am in the process of creating a wiki that includes links to my RSS reader, my Twitter feed, and my weekly lesson plans on my Google Calendar. Combining all of these important features that we've learned in class into one easy to use website really shows how I learned to bring everything together.

I have met my goals in my Personal Growth Plan by continuing to explore new technologies. I have explored new technologies with my classmates, SIG group, and other online collaborative sites. I have been checking my RSS reader almost daily for new information, new technologies, and have utlized hashtags on twitter to locate information on Educational Technology.

I don't have any new goals, but most importantly, I want to continue to learn. This 8-week course showed me a lot about the technologies that are out there that I didn't know about. Learning about these gave me more information that I can use to become a better educator. Knowing that there are more resources out there that can help me makes me a determined learner. My plan for reaching my long term goals of continuing to learn are simple. I will continue to work on my masters and that will allow me to learn and use technologies that will benefit my students.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

PC Maintenance and Security

The first tutorial that I watched showed how to speed up my computer using MSconfig. It showed me how I could limit the number of programs that automatically started on my computer. This speeds things up. I will definitely share this with others because it is something that is easy to do, and it provided resources for those programs that you just aren't sure about. There was some information that surprised me. I didn't realize how many programs automatically started on my computer when I turned it on. This should drastically increase the startup time on my computer. It was a very useful tutorial.

The second tutorial that I watched was how to use CleanUp! to erase files on your computer. This is a simple program that you can download, and then run to delete excess junk on your computer. This again is something that I will share with others because I didn't realize how much wasted space I had. I deleted over 130 MB's. Now, I wasn't running out of space, but nothing like a spring cleaning every now and again.
Most of the files that I saw being deleted I didn't recognize - and that's because they're temp files. The next time that I encounter a slow running computer, I will think to use this program and see what I can clean up.

The last tutorial that I watched was for RoboForm, this keeps all of your passwords together. I was interested in this program because I have trouble keeping track of all of my passwords. Nothing surprised me, but I was interested in this program because it will make things a lot easier for me. I will tell my parents about this program because I think it will help them keep track of their passwords as well.

To be honest, I didn't think I was going to learn anything in this lab, and I was really surprised. I've clicked on a ton of videos, and I really am learning things. Coming into the course, I would have said that I'm a pretty advanced user- but I've learned so much in the last few weeks that I didn't know, I'm excited to go on and learn more.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Update - My RSS Reader

Still using it = although NPR is clogging my feed. But I can individually select different sources and see just their news. I've commented on another story in a blog that I follow. It was a story on World History Blog about John Brown. Very cool. Still waiting though to get my comment approved.

Here's an updated look at my RSS Feeds. As you can see, I've added many more sources.

UPDATE - My comment has been accepted and posted at the World History Blog. Here is a screenshot of it below:

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Here's a video that I created for my PLN assignment. I used a program called Prezi - that I learned from some cool people this summer at the FTE conference at Cornell.

Took me about 10 minutes to put it all together. If you don't know Prezi, you need to. Go play around with it, it's very cool.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting Things Done

As part of my CEP810 Masters Course, I'm getting things done. I've put together an organizational system to help keep track of things that I need to get done, and to help get them done in an organized manner. It's always difficult decided what needs to get done first - especially when some projects are long term. It's possible to work on parts of projects, while also taking care of other items that can be done quickly - the trick is however, being organized.

To do this, and to make it work, I had to find a program that could help me keep track of what needs to get done. I decided to use a program called GoogleNotebook. I chose this because it's something that I can't lose. I try to be really organized, and that means doing tasks on computers. I don't like losing things, and it's easier to keep track when their saved to a hard drive or the internet.

I organized my process by creating 6 Notebooks in GoogleNotebooks. Inbox, Calendar Items, Next Action, Waiting For, and Completed Items. When I get something that needs to get done, it goes in my inbox. I can tag the task with what it relates to. CEP810, Work, Home, Car -whatever. This should allow me to quickly see tasks in different categories. While putting items in the inbox, I can also add notes, share with others or add a date. Once an item in my inbox is complete (not done, but entered with date, tags and comments), I can move it to one of 4 boxes. Calendar items, Next Action Items and Waiting On. Once an Item is completely finished, I can move it to the Completed Items folder.

Going Through The Process
Going through the process for the first time was difficult. I found that it took a little bit of time organizing everything that needed to get done into once place. I also found that I was trying to complete tasks before they were entered into my Inbox. Once I put the brakes on, the process sped up. I focused on entering all the tasks into my inbox.

Once everything was entered, I was able to organize the tasks by "priority". Next Action, Calendar Items, Projects and Waiting On. By prioritizing these items, I was able to see what could be taken care of immediately, and what things were more of long term goals. This also allowed me to work on a number of quick tasks that might have gotten lost in the shuffle earlier.

Next came the review phase. Since I haven't done this for a full week yet, I've decided that Wednesdays are going to be the day that I review all the tasks that need to be completed. It's not last minute, and I'll still have time to finish tasks that are incomplete. I would like to try and pick a time each day where I can review my tasks and crank out some work that needs to get done.

I think this process will be very helpful in allowing me to organize my tasks. It should also increase my productivity. I now have a program where I can list everything that needs to get done. This is accessible from my computers, as well as my phone. Instantly, I can add tasks wherever I am. I can also see at a glance what needs to be completed.

I hope this process is something that I can continually use and improve on. I'm hoping this will cut down on sticky-notes that get lost, of assignments that fall through the cracks. Time will tell how useful this is, and if I will continue it, but after a few days, it seems interesting - and very useful!
  1. Do you think you will continue this process? If not, what will your process be?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Social Networking and Me!

Even though its been around since college, I feel Social Networking is new to me. I've been on Facebook for a few years, and more recently twitter. Each of these "new" creations have a profound effect on how I do work, and how I learn.

Personally, the social networking tools that I use, mainly Facebook and Twitter have changed the way I communicate with my friends. They have allowed me to stay in contact with friends from high school, college and old jobs. With Twitter, I can follow friends, celebrities and athletes and see their updates and get a glimpse into their lives. As exciting (and unnecessary) as this is, the benefits of Social Networking from a work standpoint are even larger.

Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to become better at my job. The opportunity to learn more, and being able to share that information with my students helps everyone gain more knowledge. I originally created my Twitter account as a quick way to contact my students parents and to let them know what the homework assignments were. In a perfect world, all of my students, and parents would be on Twitter, and they'd be following my tweets. Unfortunately, my old district had Twitter blocked, and few families had internet connections. In my new position, more families have internet access, and Twitter is unblocked. Because of this, I envision a point where Twitter will become a very important tool that I can use in my classroom.

Facebook also plays a role in my professional life by allowing me to network with other education professionals. The opportunity to stay in contact with teachers that I have met at conferences around the United States is amazing. Many times I have met teachers at conferences and we've had some great educational collaborative discussions. Though Facebook, and groups, we've been able to continue those discussions. Although I've been reluctant to reach out to students through Facebook, it has been an important tool for me with co-workers.

As for my students and peers, I feel my students are much more immersed in Social Networking, compared to my peers. Many younger teachers have adopted these technologies, but not at the rate that students have. As younger teachers enter the field of teaching, I think we will see the number of educators utilizing these tools increase.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RSS Blog Post

Here is a screenshot of my RSS Feed. At this point, I had only added the 5 required feeds. I soon added more. Pics to follow.

A comment that I've added to a blog that I follow through my RSS feed: I follow a blog called Michigan Council For Economic Education. They had a great post on visualizing unemployment, which can be seen here:

I commented that it was a great resource that I used in my classroom to show the impact that the recession had on the mid-west and Michigan specifically. It really hits home when you see how dark (most unemployment) Michigan gets, and how much worse it was in the rust belt. (I am waiting for my comment to be accepted by the blog and posted)

Tracking the news on my RSS Feed

Using my RSS feed I've found information on a program called dropbox. This program allows me to put files into a folder on my home computer, and have them appear in the same folder on my work computer. This is going to save me a ton of time not having to e-mail myself notes, or upload files to webspace that is hard to access from school. I don't know if I would have normally found that article. I don't find myself reading each and every article that comes into my feed, but I'm able to skim and find the news that I find interesting, and then I can look farther into it. I can also tailor my RSS feed to my needs. I am finding interesting articles that are useful to me.

Not too many interesting articles today (my perspective at least) but I think I could really use this in my class. If I create an RSS feed from trusted sources, with specific topics or information, I could use this with my students when they are trying to do research. I've done a lot of work with my classes and current events in the past, but it is always difficult to get the students to find quality articles. Now I can build a database of articles for my students to look through. It is easy to navigate, and will provide an endless source of pertinent information for them to use.

Today I checked my RSS feed again. I have 49 new posting. There is a lot to look at, and I've realized that you can put feeds into folders (I'm using GoogleReader). Having folders helps me organize the news sources that I follow. I think that I could find specific feeds that give specific information, and then sort them by the units I teach. This means students could explore at their own pace. Ive also found some RSS feeds that I began to follow that aren't what they seem. It means I'll have to research feeds before I subscribe to them. I wouldn't want to use sources for my students that can be inappropriate at times.
I read an interesting article on a Blackberry Tablet that may be coming out - that was really interesting. I also read a good on how an Economics teacher got her students to remember the MC=MR formula.

Traditional Web Pages vs Blogs

There is a large difference between traditional webpages and blogs. Understanding the difference can help make you more efficient on the internet. Traditional webpages may hold information that is never updated. It might provide directions, or information on a subject. Blogs however, if used correctly are frequently updated. Blogs are more of a running journal, written by one or more authors. Blogs can be found on a variety of topics. These blogs allow readers to comment on the "journal entries" and also allow readers to read previous updates as well (not an option on most traditional websites.)