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Power of the cell phone? More like power OFF that cell phone.

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I’m not convinced by Lisa Nielsen’s post about cellphones in the classroom.  I take particular grievance to the idea that setting a double standard is bad: that teachers are allowed to use their cellphones but students cannot.  Since when are students and teachers on the same level?  A teacher might need to have access to phones in case of emergency (if a student had a seizure, for example).  That does not mean that the teacher is being rude or is depriving students.  The teacher has additional responsibilities that the students do not, and therefore a double standard is necessary.  A teacher can still be a role model with this difference in mind.  A teacher can have more tools than students can because the teacher is in charge. The end.

I also think that there is plenty of time for students to learn how to use their phones outside of the classroom.  Classroom time should be saved to instruct students on material that they are not also learning outside of the classroom.  If cell phone use is as important and basic as the Nielsen claims it is, then students will surely know how to use a cellphone on their own.  For example, general education teachers don’t (often) teach students how to eat or use the bathroom.

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Finally, I think that incorporating cell phones could hurt the feelings of disadvantaged students. Not every child can afford a cell phone.  Why embarrass the student? I’m sure the student has already noticed that most others have cell phones while he/she does not. There is no need to make the child admit this to the entire class.

Big History, Big Ideas: David Christian

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After watching David Christian‘s The History of the world in 18 min from TED 2011, I am sitting here thinking how small I am.  In school we learned about the most recent wars America was involved in, and not so much about the big historical events that David speaks of in his “Big History” lesson.  David explains the important of understanding how the universe was made, the direction the universe is going in, and why humans are the universe’s most complex creation yet.

In less than 18 minutes, David explains that our universe creates complexity.  It began from darkness, and nothingness, to energy, adams, molecules, so on and so forth to humans.  He also explained, however, that with complexity comes fragility.  He referenced growing up during the Cold War and how nuclear bombs made him think that the world was close to coming to an end.  In other words, the most complex creatures in the universe could have  caused our own ending.

David explains that the reason humans are the most complex creations of the entire universe are because we have something no other living species has been able to accomplish: collective learning. Unlike other species, which lose their learnings when they die, we have developed languages and communication.  Language has allowed us to pass on our histories, and to learn from our ancestors. This gathering and accumulation of knowledge is what David refers to as collective learning. This is what has set humans apart from every other species that has ever existed.

He does say, though, that it is not clear if humans are in charge of collective learning. He cautions us to understand that we could ruin our own environment and accomplishments if we use all of the fossil fuels on this Earth.  He warns us of the dangers ahead, if we do not learn our “Big History.”  He even included pictures of his grandson in order to demonstrate his points.

I greatly enjoyed watching this video clip, as space has always interested me.  It is the only part of science class that I ever paid attention to in school.  I was thoroughly impressed with David’s speaking abilities as well.  He is a great presenter and public speaker.  He paces himself well, enunciates, and is easy to understand.  He was able to summarize so well that the average person could understand his complex concepts.  I would like to watch more of his presentations in the future.

Podcast Response: Sky-High Student Loan Interest Rates

I would definitely consider using Podcasts for my professional learning. After reading the “Enhanced Podcasting” article, I liked the idea of using podcasts with narration to summarize the school week for parents. It can be created with students’ narration and emailed home to parents… Brilliant!

I chose to listen to the Podcast about Student Loans on EdReach.  I particularly enjoyed EdReach because it offers lots of information about education all at one central location. I thought this was an intriguing interview with some great opinions and suggestions.  I would definitely use a podcast as a professional development tool in the future.  The podcast addresses issues in an easy way, as listeners can be away from their comuputer or can multi-task and still receive the information.

During the podcast I listened to, I learned that right now Federal Stafford Student Loans are at 6.8% instead of 3.4%.  President Obama is pushing Congress to reduce the interest rate, to help provide students with more stability.  

Since Congress did not come up with a long term solution by July 1st, they have voted to extend the 3.4% rate for another year.  The podcast addressed the larger issue of a generation of debt and the rising cost of higher education.  The podcast addressed how the government has had to subsidize the rising cost, and how keeping the interest rate at 3.4% is only a temporary solution.

One theory the podcast discussed is that the government is perpetuating the increase in college costs because it is gaining huge profits from these student loans.  Another idea is that colleges are not investing in the right areas, and are instead spending the government money on sports, such as renovating football fields, instead of giving out more grants.  

One idea the author gave which I liked was the idea of online courses.  The author suggested that cost savings can occur if the government utilizes technology advances to create more online courses, and thus reduce the costs of college.   I would be more than willing to take course entirely online if it made graduate school less expensive!

 

To Flip or Not to Flip… Is that even a real question?

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The idea of a flipped classroom is new to me, and frankly, I find it very appealing.  The concept seems very logical: use classroom time to help students actually work and solve problems, and bring save “boring lectures” for home time where there is little teacher-student interaction anyway.  Since test scores have been proven to rise with this concept, why not apply it to more schools to see if the trend continues?  I’m intrigued.

After reading “To Flip or Not to Flip” by Jeff Dunn, published on edudemic, I cannot help but wonder what this would really require of the teacher.  So the idea is that the teacher would need to tape all of his or her lesson plans ahead of time and burn them to DVDs or upload them to the internet.  It does seem like a bit more work, but for better results… It’s surely worth it, right?  My first thought was that this would make teachers better teachers as well; having to watch their own lectures to “proof” them would help teachers understand where they could slow down or where they could elaborate or clarify more.  I see taped lectures as a way to proof read an essay before passing it in.  Brilliant!

I also thought the last point that this method allows for more socialization inside of the classroom.  Instead of students sitting still, listening to the lecture, students are active and communicating with one another.  Students work in groups, teach each other, and share their ideas as they attempt to solve problems in class.  Most importantly, any confusion is answered immediately instead of discovered at home.  As the teacher quoted states, “I am now there to immediately catch a misconception rather than have a student go home and reinforce that mistake.”

I remember going home and not realizing until then that I was confused over a particular point of the lecture.  Perhaps I missed a step in class when the teacher was solving the long Calculus problem.  I would sit at my desk and spend hours trying to figure out which step I was missing.  Is this really learning?  Or is this just waisted time?  What if the teacher could identify my mistake right away, and I could get back to practicing the problem-solving instead of sitting for an hour waisting time and becoming increasingly frustrated?

Does anyone else remember sitting at home trying to solve math problems? Perhaps with your parents help, but really wishing you could just phone your teacher?

Needless to say, I like the flipped classroom idea.

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The second blog post I read was “Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom” by Andrew Miller.  I chose this blog post because it was posted on edutopia, which I recently discovered on Twitter (follow me!) and wrote about last week for class.

Miller says that the flipped classroom model does not “solve” any problems in education.  He does say, however, that it is the “first step” in reframing the role of the teacher in the classroom.

Miller believes that this model helps teachers be more of a guide, and less of a center-stage performer. Students say that teachers are now able to communicate with their students instead of lecture at them.

Miller lists 4 suggestions he thinks teachers planning on, or currently using, this model should know:

1. Need to Know – How do teachers convince their students that they actually need to watch the lectures?  He says that telling them that it will be on the test, etc., is not a good enough of a response.  He says that this type of response does not engage the students who are already struggling to find meaning in school.  He says that finding transparent reasons to know the content is important. Students are required to be much more responsible with this method, and it can be hard to convince a student to actually sit down and watch the lecture once they are outside of the classroom.

2. Engaging Models – Master models such as project-based learning, understanding by design or something similar to institute in your classroom. Then use the flipped classroom to support learning.

3. Identify any technology gaps that could inhibit learning.

4. Every time you have students watch a video, build in reflective activities to keep students engaged.

Essentially, Miller’s argument is that if you flip, do it responsibly   I’d say his motto is something along the lines of “Flip, Reflect, Improve!” Practice makes perfect.

Edutopia: Easy Reading!

Through Twitter I discovered Edutopia.  It is a website dedicated to “what works in education.”  There are tons of blog posts, articles, videos, pictures and classroom guides. You can even search by grade level for important information and updates relevant to your grade! I like this… and it sure makes for easy, interesting reading!

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While browsing the website, I realized that there are tons of blogs linked to the website.  Educators from all over have their blogs liked, and their main blog topics are posted under around ten different categories.  This makes searching for whatever interests you quick and easy.  For instance, blogger Ramona Persaud posted an article about keeping your brain busy and active during the summer vacation months.  How perfect for this time of year!

My favorite article that I stumbled across though has to be the article about the 8 apps teachers should download for the classroom.  It is all about teaching from your iPhone.  Growing up, we were not allowed to have phones in school at all, so it is crazy for me to think of phones as a learning tool!  One of the apps the article mentions is DocScan HD.  It makes  staying organized easy.  All the teacher has to do is snap a picture of a meeting agenda, handouts, or student work, and DocScan HD turns your pictures into PDF and JPG files.  You can even share these files to your Dropbox to make accessing them even easier (with an upgrade).  I still don’t entirely understand how Dropbox works, but I’m thinking it’s probably time for me to find out!

I don’t see how I would have ever heard of Edutopia had I not been browsing education topics Twitter… I wonder what I’ll discover next!

The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Learning

“It’s difficult to know how much to let them fail.”

This line from the article really stuck out to me. Shelley Wright, the teacher and blog author who wrote this, is talking about the difficulties of teaching. She says that it is hard to know how long to let “wrong” idea continue before stopping it. Is it important for students to fail on their own so they learn from their mistakes, or is that taking time away from the lesson plan when they could already be corrected and be on new material? I can easily spot the dilema.

Reading Wright’s article about presenting a lesson through a collaborative approach was very different to me. I am not used to this style of independent learning, where students direct themselves. I have not made up my mind what I think about it yet either! I am hesitant because I wonder if students will miss key topics or not follow curriculum if they take full control of their own learning. I suppose that as long as the teacher still plays an active role and guides students this won’t be too much of a concern. If not, I think students would need a whole lot of self responsibility!