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Mobile, Alabama, United States

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grade School on iTunes U

For this blog post, I viewed videos by WGBH for grades 9-12. These videos were science videos. I viewed a video on Mirror Neurons and a video called What is a Planet. These videos were short and very interesting. I appreciate that none were longer than 10 minutes because I have Adult ADD and find it hard to concentrate.
In the video titled "What is a Planet" scientists explained why Pluto is not considered a planet. They used visual examples of planets and comets. The video was to the point and held valuable information.
In the video titled "Mirror Neurons" they explained what a mirror neuron was and why we use them. Mirror neurons are what makes us feel emotional and empathetic when viewing another person's actions. For example, when you are watching a movie and cry for the main character, it is because your mind empathizes with their facial cues and body language. The scientists on the video explained this. When you do and action and view an action, the same neurons fire off. They are on both sides of the brain and react to stored emotions. They hypothesize that people with autism may have a deficiency of mirror neurons.

If these videos extend to grammar function or literature, it would be a very useful tool in my classroom. I could use the videos as a warm up tool to get my students thinking about our topic for the day. I want to use reflection journals in my classroom and short videos could be used as topics for some of them. I am a visual learner and I remember examples like these videos helping me make vital connections.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The edible schoolyard and A Night in The Global Village

I watched two videos on iTunes University. I found the videos in Edutopia under integrated studies and social and emotional learning.
The first video was The Edible Schoolyard. Students at a school in California spent their first period of the day in a garden outside. The students grow organic fruits and vegetables and then, in a kitchen set-up beside the garden, they cook what they grow and eat their crops. This is supposed to educate the students on much more than just how to work in a garden or cook. Firstly, the students learn how to communicate and work with others. The next lesson is not found immediately. Teachers who are specially trained to educate students in this environment guide the students and use every opportunity to make the garden an academic setting. While the students garden, they learn about everything from water cycles to the surface tension of dew drops. The teachers make time for reflection and thought about the obstacles they overcome daily in the garden. The project gives children a life experience to connect with academia.

The second video was A Night in The Global Village. Students are brought to the Heifer Ranch in Paradou, Arkansas. For one night the students live like they are citizens of a third world country. They are given limited resources to get through the night and must bargain with other villages of their peers around them. They do chores and cook like they are a poverty stricken village. The adult chaperones step back and let the students find their own authority in the situation. The students form alliances and can choose wether they want to help another village or not. They feed livestock and chop wood for fires. The students then have a reflection time. One student stated that even though they were hungry the night before, they knew they could go home soon and use lights and have food again. He reflected that if they were really poor, they couldn't have gone home the next day and it was hard to think about. Students leave with ideas for what they can do to improve the world they live in today.

After watching these videos, I can see how field trips or projects like this would help students see the "idea" of true education. The point of education is to make students excel in today's world. Without an idea of what the "World" really consists of, students couldn't truly understand that. Although I plan to teach in public education and may not have opportunities like this, I could use these videos as a catalyst in my classroom. A hands on experience is one of the best ways to teach a lesson. Videos of this type would be useful in showing students what opportunities are out there and what students their age are learning about all over the world. I realize that teaching Language Arts I may not be able to use these specific videos but iTunes U has a database that is nearing the status of "unlimited information tool".

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Constructivist : Learning from Dr. Alice Christie

Dr. Alice Christie's website is a helpful encouragement. She was devoted to becoming a life long learner and encouraged others to do so through her work. Her website is extremely thorough and has many helpful links and ideas. Click Here to view Dr. Alice Christie's page on the learning theory: Constructivism. This theory's focus is on creative thinking and self reflection. Teachers give students opportunities to self reflect and make their own adjustments.
Here, teachers are "Co-Learners". I love this idea. I want to learn something every single day from my students. I know some days the lesson may only be that some days are better than others but that IS a lesson. Teachers and Students learn together through trial and error and learning is collaborative. Collaborative learning is sometimes frowned upon by the educational systems because they see lazy teachers who depend on students to teach one another. If this is done correctly, teachers guide students and are actively participating in the collaboration.

Can Wikipedia be trusted?

I think that Wikipedia can be trusted as a starting point for information. To gain basic understanding of a subject, Wikipedia could be very useful. Wikipedia should not be used as a main source of information because anyone could edit the information. This information is checked but not often enough to make Wikipedia a reliable source for research. I believe that it should remain exactly the way it is but users should be wary of how much they rely on the information they find there. If Wikipedia ever registered who gives the information, they would have to pay people to publish this information. This would mean that Wikipedia would no longer be "the free encyclopedia". When more reliable research is needed, users should look to another site.


To view the first article I found on using iPods for education Click Here.
To view the second article I found on using iPods for eduction Click Here 2.

The first website I looked at for the use of iPods in the classroom was http://www.principalspartnership.com/iPods.pdf - This website discussed both the positive and negative effects of using iPods for educational purposes in a high school setting.
iPods are digital media devices that allow file downloads (audio, video or text) to be played anywhere. They range from 2 GB of memory to 120 GB, which this article points out; is like having a tiny laptop of storage. That is where the true attraction lies. When Apple made 120 GB of memory portable,(this is enough memory to hold 30,000 songs!) it set the wheels in motion for digitally enhanced learning. Administration and faculty can upload files on the iPods and kids can review lessons anywhere. Some say that this will encourage students not to participate in class and become reclusive. This is argued by the fact that the iPod would only be supplemental to the learning experience in the classroom. Teachers would upload information to enhance their classroom lessons. Students may download other media on their iPods but if a decent amount of the storage was used for educational purposes teachers would be validated. It would be like a student choosing to do homework over watching TV; the choice to use their resources wisely is ultimately the students choice. Apple has decided to make a little cash in on this deal and create iTunes U. (More about that later) With resources and software multiplying over night, iPods definitely have a place in the educational setting in the years to come.

The second website was about using iPod as an educational tool on a collegiate level. This was mainly focusing on the strides Duke University is taking with technology. It covers some of the pros and cons found by teachers and users alike. Duke was the first University to give each new incoming Freshmen a 20 GB iPod. They downloaded orientation information and the Duke fight song. Students could have lectures in the palm of their hands. Like any new technology, I believe the more we explore the possibilities the better the practice of digital lecture will be. Of course, some hitches in the system were found. Some concentrations used the iPod more productively than others. In the future Duke will only give iPods to students in departments that directly benefit; i.e. arts and foreign languages. Duke has started the long process of sorting through the information on iPod learning. I believe, as with all technology, that once guidelines and standards are set the iPod will be an amazing tool for students.