Thing 7a: “Know Where You are Going”

During the past week I have read many good  blogs regarding education.  During my read, there was one particular post that I found of interest  on the “Successful Teaching” blog.  The post is called “Know Where You are Going”. The author starts the post by telling a story in which he and some friends go on a hike to the summit of Standing Indian Mountain.  After hiking for 1 mile.  The leader decides to go back and meet the “ones that are late”.  He instructed the 5 hikers that were with him to keep going by following the Blue Blazes.  After hiking a few miles the author and his group met a man who informed them that they were on the wrong trail.   The group then decided to turn around and go back to the camp ground.  When the leader and the rest of the group showed up, they found out that the leader had decided to go on a different trail.  The author then  realizes that it he should have taken an active role in looking at the map to the summit.

The author relates this story to education.  He says “”it is important that I do not depend on others to get me to my goal as a teacher.”  Although there are many tools and strategies that can be used to make him a better teacher,  he needs to take an active role in deciding what tools he needs to help him reach his goal.  I found this article to be interesting because it directly relates to this class.  In this class were are learning more about the technology that can be used to help yus become a better teacher.

Thing 5: Japan’s Far Right Blocks the screening of “The Cove”

I read an article from the NY Times titled “Japan’s Far Right Blocks the Screening of  “The cove”. “The Cove”  is an Oscar winning documentary about Dolphin hunting in Japan.  The film depicts dolphin hunting an an “unflattering” light”.  A Mr. Nishimura, leader of the Far Right Wing group called the Society for the Restoration of Sovereignty (a small minority in Japan) lead the protest against showing the film in Yokohama.    Other taboo areas that have been made taboo by the small minority group include Whale hunting, Tokoyo’s occupation of parts of Asia, Japan’s Royal Family, rights for ethnic minorities, Japan”s role in WWII, and organized crime groups.  Mr. Nishimura believes that “whaling and Dolphin hunting are time-honored Japanese traditions that must be protested from Western Condemnation”.

What I found interesting about this article is how one small group can control the rights of others. Sometimes we take for granted the rights that we have in the USA to show or watch a controversial  movie and to be able to form our own opinions.

Thing 4: Blogging Begins With Reading

The first blog that I read was “Why I don’t assign homework” by Dan Meyer.  There are a lot of different opinions regarding giving homework  to students.  When I taught 8th grade Math at a title 1 school, a majority of the students did not do their homework.  Most of the student’s parents were unable to help them, especially the Hispanic students.  This was unfortunate because we only had 50 minute classes and the students were not able to master the large amount of  material that we were required to teach.  Several students stayed after school 2 days a week to get help and extra practice.  That was 3 years ago.   Today, at the same school, the math classed are 90 minutes long  and the students have more opportunities to get extra help.

I have taught at a private school for the last 2 years.   I give a small homework assignment after each class period, to see if the students understood or mastered the concept that we were working  on in class.  Unlike public schools, our student have an opportunity at the end of the day (study hall) or during a break time to get help if needed.

The second blog that I read,  “Spies Like Us”, by cool Cat Teacher “Vicki Davis”, deals with the inappropriate use of technology by students.  Vicki sites several examples where student have used cell phone to record teachers yelling at students  after they have been set up and provoked. Several of  these recordings were then displayed on YouTube.  Vicki wants teachers to be aware at all times and to always use ethical behavior.  She also recommend that students be educated about appropriate ethical behavior when recording other students and teachers and that school administrators set up policies with consequences for inappropriate use of technology.  Most of the comments to this blog were from other teachers and administrators thanking Vicki for researching and writing about a very “though provoking” issue.

Engaging your Classroom:  How Jim Cramer Made Me a Better Teacher of English Language Learners.” by Mathew Needleman, was the third blog that I read.   Mathew Needleman models his teaching of ELL students by watching  Jim Cramer on the “Mad Money” show.  Mathew uses props (physicals that are used as symbols) and sound effects to engage the ELL students that he teaches.  He makes the statement in his blog that teachers today need to “entertain” their students in order to get them to pay attention in class.   There were many comments in this blog from teachers agreeing that teachers need to be more entertaining in the classroom.  Several teachers thanked Mathew for the link to the “Sound effects board”

The fourth blog that I read,  was  “Patrick’s Update“.  This blog was  about an at risk fifth grader (Patrick) who struggled with reading an writing in school.  Patrick’s brother told him he would fail 5th grade.  This comment made Patrick determined to prove to his brother that he was not stupid.  Many of the comments in this blog were words of encourage from other students and teachers to Patrick.  Many felt that the writing that he displayed in his blog showed that he was a smart student and with a lot of effort, he would pass 5th grade.

The last blog that I read was “duck with a blog”.  This blog consisted of writing responses (fictional or nonfictional) from second grade students about the missing duck in a picture.

After reading 5 different blogs,  I noticed that the type of writing used depends on the purpose and style of the author/writer.  A blog can be used to help spread information to a specific group of people, such as teachers and administrators (  Spies Like Us”).  It can be used as an interactive teaching tool ( “Duck with a Blog,  “How Jim Cramer made me a better teacher”); it can be used for encouragement ( “Patrick’s Update”); and it can be used to share an opinion or  try to persuade the way people to think  or feel about a certain topic (“Why I don’t assign homework”).

Thing 2: Thoughts About Web 2.0

How might I use the new tools made available by web 2.0 to engage today’s digital learners?   I could set up a blog for my math classes which  includes notes for the day’s or week’s topics, the homework assignments, and internet resources that the students could access for help or for extra practice.  I could also post student work samples so that the students could see each other’s work.  The math class blogs could also be used as a communication tool with student’s parents.  Parents could access the blog to see what their children are working on in class, when homework is due, and if there are any log term assignments.  

How might I be able to use these tools to support my own learning?  To help my own learning, I could set up a blog for all of the math teachers at my school.  This blog could be used by the  math teachers to share teaching strategies, fun projects, and useful materials or games  to enhance our student’s learning.    A shared spreadsheet could be used to help maintain an ongoing curriculum map of what is being taught by all of the different grade levels on a weekly basis.  The collected data could then be used to help with vertically alligning the  math curriculum for the whole school.

Thing 1: Lifelong Learning

        The habit that will be most challenging for me as part of my k12 learning 2.0 experinece is habit #3, “view problems as challenges.”   In some areas of my life, I do not mind dealing with problems as challenges.  As a math teacher, I do not mind being challenged with how to solve a math problem or how to figure out the best way to introduce or teach a new math concept to the students that I teach.  However, when it comes to problems that I encounter with learning to how use new technology, I can become very easily frustrated and want to throw in the towel very quickly. 

         Habit #2, “Accept responsibility for my own learning” will be the easiest habit for me.  I am by nature, a very responsible person.  If I am told that I need to be responsible for something (such as my own learning) , then I will be responsible for it no matter how much time it will take or how much effort ( or pain ) it will take to get the job or goal accomplished.

     The habit that will be the most inportant for me as I work through this course is habit #6, “use technology to my advantage” .   Learning to use technology will not only help make my job easier, it will also help engage the students that I teach and allow them to become active participants in their own learning experience.

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