Apr 12, 2011

e-mail to... jail? A REFLECTION ;)

     Alright, many of us probably have or are taking Teaching as a Professional.  The first half of this class (or 2nd, considering which teacher/section you have) is pretty much an Education & Law class.  This, of course, is also known as "scare the crap out of you" class.
     We have discussed all the ways to get fired & all the things NOT to do with students.  E-mailing students & having that connection outside of school with a student is a big no - no!  So, this always makes me wary when I have to think up lessons & incorporate blogs, or use googledocs, which implement & require e-mail addresses & interaction. Schrum & Levin discuss in chapters 6 & 9 how using a blog page, or a similar online community can actually help to limit e-mails as a way of communication. However, there is still that contact that occurs outside of the classroom, even flowing into personal atmosphere.
     I am obviously just being paranoid, but I live under the umbrella of "be careful what you put in writing", especially to students.  Having an online community is great, but parents NEED to be involved, or at the very least, give their complete blessing.  That is my final & most important reflection on incorporating any interactive/ communicative technology based lesson into the classroom.
      On a different note, Richardson's break down of Facebook is interesting.  I also believe that teachers need to know how to interact with social networking that their students take part in.  Technology actually has been tightening the generation gap, I believe.  Adults seem hipper than ever, due to the constant overload of popular culture & trends, which the Internet provides. Teenagers & their teachers are able to relate. (By the way... I said hip; I guess I have not yet been an example of the gap filler.)  One of the ways in English classes that teachers have been presenting or having the students present biographies of authors, characters, etc... is by creating Facebook pages for them.  Recently, Twitter has become a popular outline for students to work with, as they get into the character that the novel portrays & then update their life through tweets.  This helps them critically imagine how that person would act, & brings the story to this time period.
     Facebook also has some drawbacks for teachers.  There has been many horror stories where teacher's have been put under attack due to comments or statuses that they have had.  Obviously we all know not to accept a student as our friend, but it is a small world & students may be able to access teachers' information.  Should the teacher be at fault for living their personal life?  I found an article relating to contact with students & the threats that Facebook may pose.  It does not really say anything too life changing, since we have read it all before, but it does say one thing that helps answer my inquiries.  The article says to contact students, even through their community page, at hours that would be appropriate to call home.  So, a teacher should be aware of creating or posting to a page before they go to bed, because it may lead into personal lifestyle. 

This is the article. Sometimes, it feels like you are damned if you do, damned if you don't. 
Over this course, however, I am happy that I filled my mental creative box with new ways to incorporate technology & always will be conscious of doing so safely & securely.

Mar 29, 2011

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words...

... or so they say.
After I wrote the lesson proposal that was due Sunday I got to thinking.  I decided that I was going to to "transform" a lesson/unit using a page like the one I made for the technology implementation project.  Only for this project, the page would be centered on one text, The Scarlet Letter, and focus on symbols, as opposed to all aspects.  Granted, symbols pretty much consume the core of the novel, its characters & setting included.  However, the readings for this module, as always, discussed the motivation factor & that students like using technology & computers, but a light bulb went off when reading the power-point on Flickr.  So, for this blog, I am going to write this in one tab & actually explore Flickr in the other, simultaneously.
To begin, I types Flickr.com on in the search engine. Easy.  Then the home page came up, obviously.  I just typed in "The Scarlet Letter" in the SEARCH box under "Share Your Photos. Watch the World".    Good stuff.  Then, I wrote in Hester Prynne. More good stuff.
On to the next step. I just clicked the "Create an Account" tab. So, I did.  Asked for my yahoo email, I use Google, so I clicked the Google tab.  If my students were to be using an online class page, my permission slips would ask the parents for permission granting them to make "school" email addresses through Google, because I like Googledocs for editing papers.  So, technically students who have those Google email addresses can create an account here effortlessly.
Now, I am a part of this site.  I can find my friends on Facebook, which I will not encourage.  However, students can upload photos here.  They can also find their friends on Flickr, which is fine as long as they are finding their classmates.  They can work together on projects or posts that require group work with pictures.  Once you find photos on here, you can click the "Organize & Create" tab and the students can rearrange the photos any way they want. Perhaps, students can set them up by chapter or character.  This will help many students with possible learning disabilities that are unintentionally disorganized. 
So, the whole point of taking you through that tutorial... was actually for me.  Thank you ha!  But really, after consideration, I think that the unit plan should definitely be incorporated online through a class site, since the novel may seem scary and dare I even suggest outdated.  The Internet will liven it up & make the timeless pieces of it relevant in the 21st century.  I like the idea of making each symbol, character, or important story element pretty as the pictures in which the students will find.

Just to give an example of something I may be looking for when I start creating a unit.
There is one point where the letter A is shaped out of seaweed & little Pearl puts its on her chest.  I may want the students to think about the significance of Pearl- her relationship to the letter A, her age, the actual seaweed, & what the color or texture may show.
So, briefly to analyze.  The color green symbolizes youth & things that are new.  Seaweed is a natural substance, as opposed to the felt A her mother wears. She is young & "green" herself.  The texture is slimy. It feels gross. It makes her have to wash her hands. Her mother feels that way when she wears the letter A on her chest.

The students can type in whatever keyword they think will grant them the best picture.  I simply typed in seaweed.  They can be liberal though & even type in green or Pearl.  The image has to be explained, but as long as the students can make a connection between text & image, then they will learn.

Mar 1, 2011

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.  I am not sure how I feel about Twitter.  When Facebook first became popular I had no problem deleting My Space and jumping on the bandwagon, but of course at that time it was exclusive to college students.  However, celebrities are obsessed with Twitter and it just seems like something I have no desire to have.  The interesting thing is that many job applications ask you to connect or post your Twitter page or account, or whatever, as a way to market yourself.
My friends have Twitter. They are always trying to make me have it.  I pretend all the time that I am going to delete my Facebook, but never have come that far.  I pretend that I hate it, but in actuality it has become somewhat of a safety net; it most certainly is one of the first sites I click to when I go online, which is multiple times a day.  I do not have a new or cool phone, mine is pretty ancient, so I am not hooked up to the web through that means.
I was interested to see in the PowerPoint that Twitter can & is being used as a legitimate forum to teach through.  I have not even attempted to make a Twitter account, so I am not even sure what the sign up page looks like.  If I go and look now, I will be forced by my lack of self control to NOT exit from the page without signing up. So, I will take the book’s word for it and believe that there are ways to sign up under educational sections like Twitter for Educators and Twitter for Teachers. 
Schrums chapter discusses student safety online, and I cannot see many parents liking their children tweeting with teachers or even it being highlighted in the classroom… and beyond.  Maybe I just hate on Twitter for no reason.  I cannot judge it unless I join it. (See the self control issues.)
Overall, I do like how the internet and the social networking sites are becoming less taboo as the years go by.  Remember when your parents warned you when the AOL was popular not to go into chat-rooms?  Well yea, they were creepy.  However, now these pages are becoming safer.  They have formed ways to communicate with guards up and with only members of certain groups. I see the progression, and despite my un-interest in joining, I can appreciate Twitter’s efforts. 

Like this on your Twitter account! Haha, thanks!

Feb 17, 2011

Mind Bloggle-ing?

          Blogs are something that I now to tend to think of as educational, because the only times I am exposed to them is via education classes.  However, just yesterday my friend told me that before she goes to bed every night she reads her friend’s blog and that I should create one because my true passion revolves around writing. Low and behold I attempted to, which is why the name of this blog is what it is. Everything else seemed to be taken and I wanted to make one about beauty products and organic lines. Anyway, after literally ten minutes I just gave up on it, but luckily my site can be created into this blog.
The problem?  I do not want this to happen in my classroom, if and when I become a teacher.  I do not want the students to be excited for the first week, but then are so “over it”, because blogging bores them.  They need to not associate it with solely learning.
            I think that teachers should inform their students that Facebook and Twitter are essentially blogs and actually I should remind myself this as well. Richardson on page 17 of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts defines blogs as being tools where people, students included, can “share resources and ideas with a Web audience that was willing to share back what they thought about those ideas.”  This is why members on Twitter follow certain people.  This also helps to explain why people join groups on sites like Facebook, which is to share common qualities.
            Students, particularly teenagers, would be excited in class if discussing things that they know and enjoy. For instance, on an educational site like the class blog, there can be a day for students to share either a blog they read on their own or one that they have created. (This of course needs to be pre-scanned by the teacher to check for inappropriate material).  It seems like fun has been taken out of the classroom, and computers or technology may just be the way to put it back in.
 I probably do most of my “research” (I use this term loosely) when searching product reviews and such, through other’s blogs. This is because real people are discussing real issues that I care about. Students’ feelings are no different.  In this course I have come to realize that we all easily can respond to one another, because our interest revolves around the classroom and we are pretty much all fresh off the student teaching slate.
            Another great thing as Richardson suggests on page 24 is the fact that the internet is an infinite collaborative space.  Blogs can be a great way to expose students to pictures and “interactive” tours of places that they have never been. For instance, when learning about the short story, “The Cask of Amontillado”, the students can find and upload photos of Venice, Italy.  The teacher can have the background of the blog set the scene, so visual learners have a way to remember the setting of the story.  This type of teaching is largely helpful for educating inclusive classrooms, which most schools have made the switch to.
            Mainly, overall in this class I have come to appreciate more the importance of computers.  This is my first online course, so it is really interesting to see how engaged everyone is without ever meeting in person. Communicating is so fast and effective now, because e-mails are sometimes quicker than phone calls.  Sites like Googledocs and of course blogs allow everybody to interact with each other, without ever really interacting. It is truly bind-blowing.