Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Learning Journal Entry B

 There is so much we can glean from studying the history of education. The major chronological theme was accessibility. The first struggle was in allowing people from all economic backgrounds access to education. Initially, education was only for the wealthy.  The Land Ordinance of 1785 specified that lands were to be divided up into townships for schools. Soon after, in 1789, Massachusetts passed the first law which allowed taxes to be used for building schools, hiring teachers and educating all the people of its districts. School  became mandatory for children of a certain age  in 1852 and this changed the entire educational dynamic in America.

     Women became the next to receive equal consideration in education. Normal schools opened first in Massachusetts and allowed both young men and women admittance. High schools became public and all were allowed an equal shot at education, well, almost everyone. It took a long time for blacks to finally be allowed to integrate in the public high schools. Jim Crow laws and the "separate but equal" doctrine was finally killed in the Brown v. Board of Education case. This eliminated segregation in public schools. Many urban areas continue to struggle against district discrimination in schools with a majority of black or Hispanic populations.

     Another area where accessibility was addressed was of disabled students. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of persons with handicaps in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Section 504 protects the rights not only of individuals with visible disabilities but also those with disabilities that may not be apparent. This has allowed children with less physical or mental advantages as others to receive equity in their education. Access to education has come extremely far throughout the history of American schools.

    The other areas of significant advancement such as technology and cognitive studies, have made huge contributions in how education is taught. The availability of learning resources and materials has come remarkably far in the last hundred years. The internet has been the most significant advancement in this regard. Psychological studies conducted as to how we learn and how our learning thrives have changed the faces of classrooms throughout the years as we become more and more focused on teaching to each student. It gives me hope that in my own lifetime and in my own classroom, the technology, methods, and advancements will continue to improve.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Learning Journal Entry A

     This last week's assignment of teaching our own class on a subject of our choosing using a ELA Standard seemed really daunting at first. The first challenge, was narrowing down to a topic that fit with the standard I chose. I elected to give a lesson on figurative language for a 5th grade class. Poetic language is something that many children that age may struggle with. With the oncoming novels and classic literature assigned, it is vital that students grasp metaphorical language in writing and how they can use it to strengthen their own work.

     This lesson taught me that I needed to be better prepared with my materials and visual aids. It was difficult to do "hand outs" in an online forum, but in the classroom I feel it would be much easier to prepare. I also noticed other students in the class struggling with this. Being an effective teacher means being able to think on your feet when obstacles like this happen and adapting the lesson and materials as needed.

     I thought most of our lessons all went really well. The teachers that had selected lessons for younger grades were great about incorporating student input, visuals, and hands-on activities. In a student-centered classroom, each grade would have that same dynamic tailored to the age level. Reflecting over my own lesson, I would have liked to include some metaphors, similies and personification exercises where I would call out certain sayings like "I'm as hungry as a horse!" and have students identify which type of figurative language it was using cue cards.

     This was a more challenging experience than I had thought it would be. The speaking part is less daunting for me than just having the overall lesson ready. I found some of the other presentations harder to follow when they did not have visual aids. I can tell this is a really important tool in teaching as I, myself, am a very visual learner. The part that most impressed me was how each teacher checked for understanding throughout their lessons. The smallest assessments can help teachers so much in checking to make sure our students are keeping up.

     It was a really insightful view for some of our experiences to come. I think this will help me to be better prepared beforehand and have more questions for assessment prepared as well as visual aids for students like me!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Week 8 - Blog Reflection

  • Have you ever blogged before? If your answer was yes, how was this experience similar and/or different from your previous experience? If your answer was no, how would you describe your experience using this tool?
I have blogged before for completely different purposes and really enjoy it as a venue for information. This experience was different in that I had a more tailored audience. It completely changes the tone of everything I write. Most of what I've blogged about before (recipes, experiences, etc..) never really required me to perform any research. This was a new and fun experience!
  • What are some of the benefits and/or limitations of using this cloud-based application with your future students?
This could be a great tool for engaging students outside of the classroom. It's an easy way to share videos and connect with them over the weekend or vacations. It is also a great way for them to also have some input. They can comment without feeling the anxiousness the classroom atmosphere can have for some kids.
  • How would you use this environment in your classroom, provide one example?
I would use it as a venue to share content or videos and engage them to respond to my post and each other. Also, as mentioned above, great for during breaks from school. (weekends, holidays) 
  • What is the most difficult and/or time-consuming aspect of this assignment?
I think the most difficult part of this assignment was deciding on the topic. It also took me a while to really grasp what the guidelines were. Writing the piece itself was pretty easy!

NASA Visualization Explorer

NASA (a partner in STEM) is the mecca of all astronomy science knowledge. They created an app that is a visual collection of all their space research – from the moon landings to the outer edges of the Kuiper Belt. One of the app reviews enthusiastically states that this STEM education app is “Without a doubt, one of the best apps ever…Reminded me why I was so interested in space exploration!” As a teacher, this is a really helpful tool for talking about the solar system, space exploration, and global climate shift.

This app is free, well designed, and easy to use. It's great for grades 2-college aged. It's as close as one can get in the classroom to travelling the far reaches of our solar system and beyond. I could easily have kids use the app to travel around the galaxy in their own spaceship, share content with other classmates, use a captain's log to chart their explorations, and learn about what makes each planet unique.
This app provides information and stories about a variety of remote sensing and space-based research right at your fingertips. You can choose from a variety of different stories including Comet hunters, total lunar eclipse, wildfires, hurricanes, earth’s rising seas and more. Some of the stories include narrated videos and others just include still imagery (or even videos with just music). Some of the videos are slow to render, which would be important to consider if using with students in a classroom. The stories are not overly detailed but the text provided is pretty easy to read and understand.
It could also become a place where students can explore a topic of study they may want to research. It would really only be a starting point for an investigation, but having students explore the information provided in the app could allow them to self direct their own curiosities. (Great for TAG students!) Having an activity designed in order to give students a purpose for exploring the site would be best. I can see where a student who has an interest in science would probably love to explore this on their own informally. 
Unless the teacher has designed an activity in which you are utilizing an app to collaborate with others – these apps are mostly just providing and disseminating information. This app is certainly engaging but the 2-way interaction and co-creation and working collaboratively with others through the app – that just doesn’t seem to be part of the app’s design.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pen Pals!

 In a science classroom, notes are a necessary evil. Fortunately, there's this really cool pen that's making it easier than ever to take notes. The Livescribe Smartpen not only captures everything that is written, but also what is spoken. It's had rave reviews from students all over. The loudest champions are those with learning disabilities.

With no extra instruction, a child can use one to write or draw something on special paper and record whatever audio its microphone hears. After a 10-second sync to my laptop, I can post and share the video replay of whatever the student wrote on the paper with the audio as voice-over. Students use them to explain tough concepts, record team brainstorming sessions, and even capture classroom notes for students who are absent.

Smartpens capture everything you hear and write so students can be confident that they won't miss a word. No matter what their learning style, this pen lets them capture words, scribbles and diagrams and syncs everything to what is said. Students can then transfer all the smartpen notes and recordings to their computer to search for key phrases and create custom virtual notebooks to better organize notes. There are even play back controls on the Livescribe paper that allow students to slow down or speed up the audio recording, control volume and even bookmark key information. Livescribe helps find and focus on highlights from a lecture. They can play back only the key material from a semester’s worth of notes with a tap on their notebook, Mac, or PC. This pen is a miracle for many children suffering from learning disabilities. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Classroom Expeditions!

     Ever want to take a lesson and just immerse your students completely in it? Want them to walk on Mars? Swim in the bottom of the ocean? Climb Mount Everest? 

     Recently, I heard about this really interesting program called Expeditions Pioneer Program. It is a program that's run by Google where a team brings everything the teacher needs for the lesson and even sets it up before class. Expeditions is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom. They worked with teachers and content partners from around the world to create more than 150 engaging journeys - making it easy to immerse students in entirely new experiences.

Teachers can guide their class of up to 50 students in goggles using a tablet and point out important details about the lesson and terrain being covered. It's a pretty unique program to sign up for and I could see all sorts of applications for it in the science and geography realm. Check out this link below and see what's possible in the classrooms of the future!

Expeditions Pioneer Program

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sizing Up Our Universe

In this Lesson Plan for 5th Graders, students will compare and order planets by size, age, and distance from Earth.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP and GameUp
  • A set of printable Sizing Up the Universe game materials for each student or group


In Sizing Up the Universe, students play an online interactive that brings the universe down to size. It will help students understand the vastness of size and distance between the constellations, planets, and galaxies in our universe.

You also view the curriculum resources from Smithsonian Education to learn more about the topic and interactive. You may also want to show a video about the size of the universe. "Cosmos" is a great series to use for this purpose.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play the Galaxies and/or the Solar System video for the class.
  2. Pass out 7 of the printable Sizing Up the Universe game materials to students. Have students work independently or in groups to arrange the cards in order from nearest to the Earth to the farthest.
  3. Challenge students to justify the order they chose to a partner or group member.
  4. After the discussion, have students use the recording sheet to write down their thoughts.
  5. Have students repeat the activity, this time ordering the cards from closest to the Earth to farthest, and then from youngest to oldest.
  6. Introduce students to the Sizing Up the Universe interactive. Provide time for students to explore the interactive in pairs.
  7. Allow students to rethink the information they wrote on their recording sheets. Encourage them to record their second ideas, justifying the order they chose and relating their decisions back to what they learned during game play.
  8. You may want to assess student learning via the game quiz. You can also have students reflect about how studying the scale of the universe made them feel. Some people say they feel insignificant after understanding the scale of the universe, while others say it makes them feel that life on Earth is special. Challenge students to articulate their view.