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: