Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blog Post #6

The Networked Student: Wendy Drexler

"Why does the networked student even need a teacher?" 

I understand all the information given to me about the networked student, but have many questions about it. How am I suppose to relate this to math (being a future math educator)? How will I engage my students in the learning process for technology? Where do I draw the line of teaching the material vs my students learning this on their own?

Being in math education, I see very few ways around the standard lecture and homework routine. I'm not suggesting this is the only way forever and always, but I'm suggesting that by knowing what the material is about and producing the same process and solutions time after time, we can eventually understand the pattern given to us and the material becomes easier to recognize and solve. With network learning, I've helped myself produce a learning style that fit for me, which is:
  1. Read some material about the upcoming topic before class. ANY material.
  2. Take legible notes so that you and others can read them.
  3. Do the homework based on notes, books, and the internet.
  4. Make marginal notes of exceptions that comes from homework problems.
  5. Questions are made (respectively):
    1. In class currently
    2. In the tutoring lab
    3. In class, the following period
    4. During professor's office hours.
Ample trial and error to see which study habits worked best for me, how I learned, and where to cherry pick my information was a grand help to me becoming a great student. This is something I would like to pass on with network learning. Network learning can become a great tool for all sorts of ideas, learning tools, and resources for students and I wouldn't want to deprive them of this. There are multitudes of math websites like Khan Academy, YouTube, and Alpha Wolfram that show math's process in different learning styles. Perhaps these sites will even facilitate better communication for what I couldn't!

 As for teaching the material vs my students learning on their own, I think this would be a great discussion I could have with my class about good, safe, and educationally correct resources I'd recommend. As long as the outside resources don't contradict my teachings (assuming I'm correct), I could even encourage outside studying of materials ahead of time or materials that are apart of "fun math" like the Fibonacci Sequence!

Project #10: Finding the Right Tool

There was a surprising amount of work involved in finding the right technological program to enhance my future students' program. This was a project I wanted to do well in because I look forward to technology being incorporated in the hardest place it could be incorporated in: the math classroom. Sure we've got fun brain games that students love, but they are mostly paper, board game, or basic item (blocks, legos etc) bound. Because I was more intrigued at the current possibilities, I went ahead and found several technologically advanced math programs. I scoured pinterest, Ted Talks, and even bugged a high school math teacher for some advice on where to find these programs and I came up with these three great resources:

1) Conrad Wolfram: Alpha Wolfram's creator

The video below will tell you more about this program and the program's creator does a wonderful job in explaining the differences of math, where we use them, and what kind of teaching we should focus on as future or current math teachers. He specifies that computers are the way to by pass the paper and pencil routine and get them learning about the other ways math REALLY helps out people, even long after they're out of high school algebra and college. Great watch!

2) Lisa Nussdorfer: the iPad with Math

Lisa has an article written about her usage of the iPad in congruence with her math curricular. She's using  ShowMe, Educreations, and Explain Everything as highlighted applications or 'apps' and equates them to Khan Academy, but more interactive. The article was posted and edited by Dan Meyer, another secondary mathematics major who sat down and did this interview with her. He made great connections to how and why we can justify buying the iPad and what it specifically does as a learning tool in the classroom. Here's a video link to the Explain Everything App (in case the above links don't work):

This application is a monumental tool that would do wonders for the education of math. There is a part in the video about being able to rewind and break down parts of your time line. This would be useful in helping to
create a lesson plan before hand, hook it up to a computer-projector screen, and teach using that. Videos, photos, and presentations are easily set up in no time. Great app, great review.

Last thought, Dan Meyers can also be found on the blogger web through this link:

Any future or current math teachers will find his interviews, opinions, and projects more than interesting.

3) Carolyn McLain: Clickers and Promethean Boards

This was my high school teacher and one of the few that made me believe in math and the powers of critically thinking. I added her to my facebook and she gladly helped me out with some technology advances she's been able to see; one being a clicker. A clicker is a simple device that most of South Alabama uses to poll students on questions that appear with a software during a slide show. The Nursing Program, Biology, and Chemistry classes of South Alabama have already implemented this technology and it works wonderfully. In addition, it's a cheap way to get students to interact with problems without having to get them to the board.

The second piece of technology she recommended to me was the Promethean Board. I've already watched a good section of videos and read articles covering this technology and it seems to be the same thing as a Smart Board but more efficient. One point the below video review reiterates is that because it's so efficient, they are able to cover more material at a faster rate and produce greater results because the children's different stylistic learning needs are met. Thanks, Mrs. McLain!

C4T Post #2

"What Ed Said" Blog

Post #1

In this post, I completely agreed with the way Edna was talking about the difference words make when we constructively talk to our students. We want them to learn and understand the material more than we want to justify their learning with standardized tests and grades. As the years pass, I imagine many teachers forget that this is a learning process and not a working process. When teachers talk to students about their homework, they tend to tell them to work on it or to do the work. "Work" is a negative connotation for them already, but "learn" seems to have a positive and uplifting side to it. With just a switch of vocabulary, the students' minds are turned on to possibilities and not focused (as much) on something they consider boring. This is especially important for math professors to incorporate, so I hope to change my vocabulary from now on.

Post #2

This post was a general post about how students relate their ideas and concepts to generalize them. She (Edna) related this to an avocado model which translated how we have many concepts that form around a concrete idea, and even when all the concepts have fallen away, ideas still can spring from the concrete idea (the pit of the avocado) to bring us new and inventive ideas. I didn't have much to say, because it was a shorter post, so I only said that I would practice preaching this in my future classrooms, but to be honest I wonder how I will. Math is something we use to a certain point, but other than that, John Bennett wonderfully points out this is harder than it seems. This is something that will probably plague my educational career as a math teacher, but I'll work on making math a relate-able course.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blog Post #5

My Dream School

School seems to be a depressing sort of place with negative connotations for children, so I would want my school to be impossibly wonderful. If I could, I would have a gym that was made of trampoline material everywhere so kids could bounce off of things. Because I would want it to be versatile as well, I would want the gym to be able to transform into a modern, standard gym where they could experience all sorts of sports, including abnormal sports like orienteering, kayaking, and polo. Another feature my school would have is an exquisite cafeteria breakfast and lunch menu dedicated to both teachers and students. Every other week, we would explore authentic cultural cuisine from central Asia to Australia. Of course, some students would be against trying new things, but the diversity among the student population will help promote social acceptance of all cultures, and if all else fails, there would be a sandwich line. The last (non-classroom related) room I would modify would be the library. My library would be have a first and second floor, with the upper classrooms gaining access to the library on second floor and the lower classrooms gaining access to it on the first floor. There would be nooks and crannies in each window sill for kids to comfortably lay around and read. I would encourage any children who wanted to spend their recess inside the library to do so.  Another aspect to my school would be the superior learning environments.

Each department would be themed every other year (ie the math department would be Roman themed, science department would be Amazon themed etc.) Teachers would be responsible for decorating their classrooms and interpreting their ideas of the theme. Smart boards would be included in every classroom, but especially the math classrooms. Students would come in with all supplies ready to learn and keep a journal about what they'd learn from classroom to classroom. I would look into what the kids would be interested in learning about (botany, travelling, martial arts for example) and make clubs dedicated to these ideas. Lastly, parent involvement would be a must. If kids are strongly affected by the many people they encounter, I would want a strong network between parents, teachers, and kids. Some children are self sufficient, but the children who need just a little encouragement to succeed will be overwhelmed by the support waiting to catch them, should they fall.
Student Says 'I'm discouraged, Master. What do I do?' The Master Says 'Enourage Others.'

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir

I loved this video. There is great importance in showing what people all over the world can do by coming together to produce such a harmonious and beautiful sound. If one listens carefully enough, one can hear the different breathing patterns where people are ending and starting words or lines a mili-second before they are suppose to. To me, this symbolizes the imperfection of a virtual choir. This aspect to the virtual choir gives it a uniqueness that most choirs do not experience but is good. In the words of a comment post below: "It sounds like the breathing of the universe." I think so as well.

In his interview, he went over how far people will go for connection to other human beings. The effort to be put into this kind of project takes months of review, sound checks, and video editing. One can see how much everyone believes in this project and the kind of community it has developed is special. I believe that with each new project, Eric must receive more and more entries. Even in his third project he has 73 countries   involved! I'll be on the look out for more of these videos (as I've already watched several interviews about the solo artist that appeared in the first project).

Kevin Roberts

I think Kevin has some really spot on points on where technology has taken us and where it will be in the future. We are a very virtually connected world where one can access the internet or phone signals via satellite, and there are very few places where one can't have access to everything. As it is, our children and great grand children will be looking forward to utilizing technology we have yet to experience, and we feel like we already have the world at our finger tips. How are we to teach future generations on old technology? How are we to engage them in the learning process? Are we obsolete? When those questions started popping up, I was having a mini-heart attack. He's right. As we are now, we are obsolete. We become professional caretakers and nothing more if we do not change. We have to move forward and beyond by keeping up with the technology to stay a step ahead of our students. The younger ones may not have as much curiosity to explore the web, but the older ones will know creases of the internet we never considered to be an issue.

I suppose it's time that teachers pick up their roots and start moving. Right, Dr. Strange?

Flipping the Classroom

This approach to teaching is a great idea to be progressive and proactive in the classroom. I noticed they covered that this is only for math classes for the time being (being a future math teacher, I'm ecstatic there is someone thinking about bettering math lessons) and I can see myself utilizing this tool for the classroom. It's tough in any classroom to reach all the children because they are not going at the same pace as one another, but this is especially true in math. In my opinion, math has become a stale subject, because it hasn't been taught that many different ways since the beginning of math education. In general, high school math class sessions are lecture and homework based (like Dr. Lodge said). The smart board may be a new and inventive way to teach it, but it only captures students attention because they can get away from the standard marker/chalk and board. And though the smart board may leave teachers with an easier way to put lesson plans together, the point of using one is to change the way information is given to the students. When we analyse how students interact with the smart board, we realize they don't, for the most part. It is still a lecture and homework based course. I'm interested in the videos because of the re-watching purpose.

When I began going to school for Secondary Mathematics Education, I came across a professor that has already utilized this strategy. He has a YouTube account and playlists for all of the subjects he's teaching. The great thing about his playlists is that he can add any additional videos about a certain topic he's discussing in class from other YouTuber's account. He hasn't completely given his teaching over to the internet, because he reiterates these lessons in class and goes over more examples, but he's getting closer to classroom flipping idea. Before tests (and especially midterms or finals), he gathers groups and has them work out problems on the board so the students can evaluate their work and peer discussions pop up. Students ask questions of tutors or the professor and/or solve it out themselves. It would be hard for him to get near the flipped classroom idea, but I can at least try it.

Because lesson plans will range from easy to challenging, I can see about making videos about the more medium to challenging topics. I know that sometimes it's hard to gauge what is hard for students in comparison to what is hard for teachers, so by data collection, I will have an idea of what lesson plans I need to make videos for and which ones I need to drop from my playlist. I don't want the videos to take over my teaching all together, but I believe this could become a great supplemental tool for my students.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Project #3: C4T(Comments for Teachers)


This first post I've read is about a project stemming from the 1920's where students group up and they are looking at interviewing a "character" that comes out of a trial. One student plays the "character"; another plays the "interviewer" and they do an interviewing process about the trial from the character's point of view using a video camera. Everyone must turn in a paper in MLA or APA format about the group's name and information pertaining to a good summary about their project. I professed that giving a student options is nice, but the students (collectively) will bring up differences about the MLA and APA differences, ultimately confusing the students. I suggested that defining which format would be best for the students would be a better idea, because the less of the choices, the better the format, the better the grading process, and the better the outcome of minimal issues it becomes.

Nothing has changed from the previous posts so I had to go to the last post, which was done last year in November. It didn't contain anything of particular use to me, because it was a follow up post to the series of posts about a history project, so my comments were limited, however I was able to leave a comment about how I would like to see the outcome of this project and how well the students responded to it. If it was something that future teachers could incorporate into their lesson plan and prune the rest of their future lesson plans to cater to this one, then maybe it was something worth looking into. There is a site where teachers can be paid by other teachers to share a lesson plan or project; perhaps this is where she's gone?

Blog Post #4


I found this to be a very useful tool in promoting the children's horizon of learning style. I wonder a little about whether or not this is something she does as a research project or as a teacher. It seems to be a very time consuming and drawn out project (which isn't a bad thing) and very engaging. I can see how useful this is in interesting students who are naturally introverted. I know that creating an outlet for these kinds of children are very important, because many of my friends were the same way.

One friend in particular was notorious for being so anti-social with her friends and classmates that she is still that way up to today. I imagine what her future would have looked like if she had something to this degree to help her socialize and create something with classmates and teachers. Don't get me wrong; she's not a bad person today, but she only sees her parents and teachers (because she can't avoid them in school). She constantly gets her food to-go and sits quietly in her room and reads her book while eating. She does what she enjoys, but in reference to Gilmore Girls: who's going to find the body?

This project gives me hope in helping those who need speech therapy (learning about inflection placements), those who want to learn, and those who need socialization. It's a very creative way to get the class involved in the constant learning process and keep school interesting for both the student and teacher. I'm very impressed with the thought process that must have gone into this project. She must have known a great deal would come out of it, but I believe I read somewhere that even she was impress with extra positive results. Overall, great find, and I have subscribed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Special Blog #1

Alpha Wolfram

I found that America's population is about 309 million people. I'm not surprised that comparatively, America's ranked #3 in population. The baby boomers produced many families that heavily increased our population, but since, the average procreation has dropped from 6-5 children to 2-3 children per family. With obesity, diabetes, and heart conditions on the rise, which became a problem starting with America, and the decrease in overall procreation, America's population has started to flat line and even decrease. Statistics are already showing that our newer generations might fall prey to shorter lifespans than older generations due to malnutrition. [Perhaps this isn't a terrible thing, though. America alone uses 25% of the world's natural resources. That's right; the rest of the world lives on 75%.] In terms of America's education ranking, we are not even in the top five. Overall, Great Britain, Japan, and Germany heavily out weigh us in several categories such as mathematics and science rankings and graduation rates.*

Alpha Wolfram is a program I use semi-regularly because it's program you can ask mathematical questions to get easy step-by-step instructions in solving the equation. One can view the solution in general, but they have three opportunities per day to input an equation and view the solving instructions. To do it more often, one has to upgrade to the "Pro" version, which costs money, so I think this is a great aspect and great fault to this program. Most would rather suffer, wait, and grapple with the problem than pay a nice sum of money to use the program constantly. This ensures that the students wisely picks problems after previously struggling with it. Because of this I find it useful, though it has notoriously bad reputation. Because I underestimate the average American student many times, I would not promote the use of this program in my classroom. The fact is: if one person has access to the program, they can pass the username and password to the remaining students, crippling my homework assignments and learning objectives. Some will use the program like it's intended to, but most would rather look at the easiest route to an 'A'.

Social Media Counts

Social media is always on the rise. I knew that it was going to be on the rise since Myspace came out and was such a huge hit. This means a great deal to my approach in using technology as a major tool, but I can't estimate how much it will affect the common classroom in a few years, but as it is, the instant information is a gratifying result. I imagine to be a teacher in the 80's and earlier involved plentiful prior work put into each teaching session and far more poor communication issues in less than timely manners. As it is, the sharing of information produces amazing results in all sorts of categories.

*Site used:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blog Post #3

Paige Ellis's Blog (+!)

There are very few words that I can add to this topic, because it's covered thoroughly on all fronts. If someone is doing poorly, I'm not going to pass by their errors waving a handkerchief as if I'd never see them again. That is a poor outlook when doing peer editing, in my opinion. It is especially important for teachers to stomp out their weaknesses while we are in a semi-enclosed environment with our blogs. We are responsible for raising the future engineers, doctors, lawyer, and other important professions to superior standards for years to come. In addition, the common man who has a thirst for knowledge should be able to confidently come to their professor or teacher to enhance their learning experience through questions and sharp examples. If we are responsible for all this and more, shouldn't we strive for perfection in our primary subjects? People become bashful when their faults are pointed out, but these moments should just celebrated as a learning point.

In many countries, I've found that the customs of politeness, social etiquette, and learning style vary greatly. While I was eating with a Canadian Chinese friend, he and I intensely discussed our cultural differences. Our Asian cashier, hostess, and waiters were short and quick with their response times to questions and statements, but also quick with service. Many Americans would perceive this a rudeness or a rushed sense to "get in, pay, get out". He explained that this is not the case in the reversed roles because Chinese culturally assume quality service is equivalent to efficient service; therefore, cutting out the luxuries of small talk is a way they become efficient. Just the same, these cultures cut the small talk in education to get to the point of the errors. In education, their students view the pointing out of errors as a chance to re-evaluate specific work and move on with future successes. In this sense, our education cultures are different.

My point, in case I wasn't clear, was that all peer edits are great if taken in the right context. You can either be defensive and inactive or positive and pro-active; it's all about perspective. This is something most math teachers preach, and I will be no different.

New Technology for Blind and Deaf

Many of the new technology is a lot of what I've never heard of before, though I'm not surprised they exist. For many generations, the low amount of technology available to special needs students was astonishing, but I can tell that though they might be behind still, they are not too far behind. I'm interested in what the mathematics technology will be like once I become a teacher, because the man who talked about his new math braille-reading device hit the nail on the head about the awkwardness math presents when trying to teach it to students. I understand this device will only reach up to high school algebra, so I wonder about trigonometry, geometry, and calculus's current technology (all major staples in high schools and getting math related degrees).

The Ipad, though thoughtful and inventive, seems like a hassle. I would rather a student retract to basics before being subjected to using that in my classroom. If I had to adapt to this, I would do my best to work around it by having the student use headphones, with one ear phone out to listen to my instructions or lessons. I'm trying to not put it down, because I recognize this is a doorway to greater things to come. Until then, I'll do my best with what I am as a teacher.

Washington State School for the blind

Vicki Davis: Edutopia

I'm glad that she's utilized technology as a self teaching experience for her students. It sounds like someone I know... She said that she was teaching self-learners and even letting her students teach portions of the course, but I somewhat troubled by this because she didn't cover but a few programs that she was teaching students. As far as we know, they blog, use twitter, and make and control an avatar. I understand that when a student learns to complete the learning process on their own, they remember the material much better than they would have if it was just told to them, but twittering with people? I see that they are getting involved with the world, which is a positive and interesting aspect to the course, but what do they learn from this interaction?

It seems that the video should have been longer to explain the process and specify better lessons. I would have liked to have seen an interview of one of the kids in her class to understand their perspective. I want to know what they've learned, how it has changed their relationship with learning on their own, and if they felt like they have seen an improvement in their other courses because of this course. It seems like a lot to ask from a kid, but if they are excited or interested about this learning style, at least one would be able adequately explain their feelings on this subject.