Friday, November 16, 2012

Second Life: It's Tour-ific!

One of the cool features of second life is that you can create tours and have people visit sites that you pre-determine.  By placing all of the sites that you want someone to visit on a notecard, you can have them use the notecard to get to every place that you have picked out for them.  It is a really cool tool.  In my previous blog, I talked about the space tour I went on and how beneficial it would be for students to take these tours to learn new information. 

After creating my own tour, I realized that it is not as hard as it seems to create your own.  You could easily create a tour for your students to have them work through in the classroom or at home.  For my tour, I did a fun and games sports tour that incorporated everything from mazes to winter towns to cars and trucks.  Below is a list of my tour sites that would be similar to the notecard that I created.  Take a peek at some of the places and enjoy!

1.  Chamonix City - This is a cozy little town all about winter games.  You can ice skate or play hockey in this town, or just explore what it has to offer.  Chamonix is derived from the French, so you could look into that as well!

2.  Maze/Horse Track - Want a challenge?  Try out this maze.  This is more than just a maze however.  You must find certain objects on your way through, and then find your way out.  Very challenging but very rewarding.  Be careful though, no horseplay.  :)

3.  Celestial Game Tower - This place is very interesting and has some fun for everyone.  This is exactly as it sounds, a game tower.  There are many levels of fun throughout and you are sure to find something for yourself.  Enjoy!

4.  Prim Hearts - One of my favorite places on the tour, this amusement park will surely keep you busy.  There are many fun rides and interesting little shops throughout the theme park, and if you wanted to you could end up spending an entire day here. 

5.  Naturum Island Resort - This place is all about nature.  You can go on a nature trek, sit around a campfire, go fishing, and many other fun outdoor games and activities.  If you like the outdoors, visit this landmark!  And if you don't, still check it out.  :)

6.  Sports gym - any boxers out there?  This sports gym is all about boxing.  Go ahead and put the gloves on and have yourself a good time. 

7.  Off the Wall - This is a fun place with many anime games.  You are never really sure what you are going to find, so the best thing to do is to explore for yourself!  And if you get bored, try a 'board' game.

8.  Cars Region - Like cars and trucks?  Then drive on over to this place and have a look around!  Many interesting things to do with cars and trucks that will keep you busy for some time!  Just make sure to wear your seat belt.

9.  Battle Arena Combat Zone - Check out this free combat zone - tron legacy grid.  Something different to add variety to the tour.  What's a tour without making a SciFi stop?  Have fun and be careful gamers.

10.  Waseda Sea - I hope you brought your water wings for this tour!  You will start under the ocean where you can explore the marine life, or you can fly out and hit the land for some fun.  This place will drown you with information.  Enjoy!

I hope that you enjoy(ed) some of the sites on my tour!  Come back any time and visit!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Second Life: A Little Too Spacey for Me

For my second life tour, I took a trip into space!  It was really cool to see all of the galaxies and at the beginning of the tour, it really feels as if you are floating in space.  A few of the galaxies were 'under construction' but I was able to see quite a bit.  I have to tell you, I stuck out just a little bit.  There is no reason for someone named FarmerAdam to be in space, but it was so much fun that I might have to change my name to AstronautAdam.  We'll see. 

After being in this virtual world for just a few minutes, I could already see the potential benefits for students in any classroom.  This is an excellent way to learn information and take a learning tour as opposed to just lecturing at students. 

 Taken from Second Life

So far, this has been my favorite piece of technology that could help students learn because it is so interactive.  If you were to make worlds like these for your students to explore for any discipline, I have no doubt that they would learn more than if they were just engaged in lecture (and that is hoping you can get your students engaged in your lecture).

My favorite place that I visited was the Nasa island.  For starters, it was just cool to fly around the island like a bird, but there was some really great educational stuff as well.  Students would absolutely love to be learning like this, and I think that it is essential that we start incorporating things like second life into the curriculum. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Better Late Than Never

This post is a little out of order because for some reason, I just gained access to the second quest from the 3D gamelab page.  But not to fear!  I have successfully completed it. 

This was kind of a refresher course for me because I had already moved ahead to others and learned most of what this quest taught, but it was very interesting because this happens in a regular classroom as well.  Let's pretend that a student is gone for a day (like when I missed the 2nd quest).  Moving on to the next day after missing one, like I moved on to the next quest was quite a challenge.  I often got lost, much like some students may get lost working with unfamiliar content. 

This made me really think about when I become a teacher, I need to do everything that I can to make sure that all of my students are up to speed on the current topics we are working with, and I need to be aware if students have missed assignments or are unsure of what they are doing.  Working through these second life tasks has really made it real to me what happens when students miss work. 

However, now after completing the 2nd quest, I am more confident in my Secondlife abilities, as well as in my abilities to teach and help students learn whatever it is they are instructed to learn.  Our job as teachers is to do everything that we possibly can to make sure our students pass with flying (or hovering) colors.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Second Life - First Makeover

I started out this Second Life journey as a boring avatar with nothing but a 'male city outfit' on my back.  I was pretty plain, but still classy all the same.  That was until I decided to change my appearance.

One of the VERY cool things about Second Life is the ability to change your appearance into anything that you want.  You can be goth, hip, tall, short, fat, skinny, or even animals or robots.  There is no limit to what you can appear as in Second Life.  For me, I decided to take it pretty easy.  I didn't feel like being a robot, so I just went shopping for some new clothes and tada!  Looking pretty sharp I'd say.
I decided to go with the red plaid and jeans because let's face it, a guy with the name "FarmerAdam" needs jeans and a plaid shirt.  Where did I find this outfit you may ask?  In Second Life, you can go shopping for any outfit you can think of.  Take a look around the marketplace where I found my gear. 

I really like this feature of Second Life, being able to customize yourself in any way because it lets you be who you are and how you feel on the inside.  You may be tired of always having brown hair, so why not be a blonde?  Second Life lets you choose everything about your appearance and makes it fun for everyone. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Second Life: From Wondering to Wandering

Recently, I took a tour of Second Life and learned about all the cool stuff you could do and man: was it neat.  There are literally endless things that you can do on here, it really is a second life.  One of my favorite things is being able to buy gifts and packages.  I like this because it really symbolizes a community where you exchange things back and forth.  Another cool feature is the camera.  It acts like a real camera where you an zoom in and out and capture anything you want to.

I titled this post "from wondering to wandering" because that is exactly what I did.  At the start, I was curious, I was wondering what was out there and who I could connect to.  But now that I have a little bit better feel of Second Life, now I am on to wandering around and just checking out everything that I come into contact with.  So far I have managed to wander the streets and come into contact with zero people, but that had not deterred me!  I know I will find civilization soon enough.

With the wandering, it may seem pointless, but from an educational standpoint it is very beneficial.  This teaches students to more or less 'get out there' and explore.  Exploration is one of the key principles in learning (in my opinion), and if this teaches students to get out there and explore a new world, then they may be less hesitant about exploring the world in which they live their first life.

Second Life, Second Chance?


 

While exploring second life and learning about its features, I was amazed at all of the things you can do.  You can change your appearance to make it exactly how you want, make friends, join groups, do activities, visit sites, almost anything imaginable.  This really is a second life, and for some it may be a second chance.

If you have missed out on some things, or wish you could have done things differently, this is a chance to do so.  This lets you connect with people that you may not otherwise be able to connect to, join groups that may not be a real group in your everyday life, etc.  This program lets you be yourself, with a twist.  Scared of sharing things about yourself in public?  You can share them on Second Life with others who have the same feelings, and make new friends who share the same views.

The educational benefits of this program are endless.  You can create so many activities on Second Life and have your students work through quests.  Along with this, you can set up meetings with people from all over the world that you may never get to meet with otherwise.  This would be a great opportunity for students to meet with people from other countries across the world.  Finally, what student wouldn't want to play a computer game for homework?  Using Second Life doesn't even feel like schoolwork, which could also be a key factor in getting students to accomplish what you have planned out for them. 


Image taken from:  http://www.google.com/imgres?num=10&hl=en&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=EG77223GZCTjVM:&imgrefurl=http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/83/view/screens/display/5196&docid=dW6JcC9lBuTUnM&imgurl=http://images.mmorpg.com/images/screenshots/112005/inline/5196.jpg&w=628&h=471&ei=22WZUMWkG8m3yQGM14DQBQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=144&vpy=267&dur=2321&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=128&ty=88&sig=102040482918806794575&page=2&tbnh=147&tbnw=218&start=15&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:15,s:0,i:130

Monday, November 5, 2012

Computer Breakdown

For this blog post, I have decided to talk about something that some people may have experienced, others maybe not.  This is the first time it has happened to me and let me tell you, it is awful.  Recently my laptop decided to.... die. 

I have never really thought about how important having a computer it.  I have always had one whenever I needed to check Facebook or Google something.  But the old saying really applies here: "You don't know what you have til it's gone."  I have been struggling all week without a computer, having to base my entire days around when I could possibly get to a computer lab.  This may seem like not that big of a deal, but throw in having to complete work for my two: count 'em, TWO completely online classes, then this is a little bit of a struggle. 

This past week, I have spent more time in a computer lab than I remember ever being on a computer, and the luxury of having a computer really stuck out.  Always having one in my room at hand, it was almost like an extension of my body.  But now that I have to go out of my way just to log in, this just flat out stinks. 

So, for all of you happy computer owners out there right now, take a few minutes out of your day to really look at your computer.  Cherish it, hold it, love it.  Don't take it for granted because one day, it may leave you dumbstruck and in a world of confusion.

Image taken from:  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://crasstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/broken-computer.jpg&imgrefurl=http://crasstalk.com/2011/08/howto-remove-spyware-malware/&h=390&w=500&sz=40&tbnid=Cfolhb2VKMu4IM:&tbnh=101&tbnw=129&zoom=1&usg=__SmC0y1jq1
7mRPunmRh5dF0OCsKA=&docid=4TKyPH7PobiNeM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9dSXUJriMIOd2QXxqYDAAg&ved=0CDQQ9QEwAQ&dur=1

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gaming: The Puck Stops Here


 

I was pretty excited for this assignment because I enjoy gaming every now and then when I have time (or when I don't want to do homework).  I was very intrigued by all of the talk about flow and after learning about it, I can see where Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is coming from.  Every time I sit down to play a game, time passes very quickly, and I have to stop and think where the day went.  I get so wrapped up in what I am doing, everything else becomes distant and I am in a "zone," much like Mihaly describes.

So for this gaming assignment, I chose NHL 10 because I love sports games and they are the most real to me.  Don't get me wrong, I love Halo and Grand Theft Auto and those, but lately I just can't get into magic and wizard games.  I have never played a hockey game before, so I thought this could be interesting.  What happened was, I became hooked.  I looked at the clock after what I thought was close to the assigned hour and it had been over and hour and a half but only felt like 20 minutes.  There is no doubt that I had reached "flow," and here is why:
  • With this hockey game, you make a player with your name and have to compete against computer hockey teams.  Being able to be "yourself" makes it much more personable and more likely that you will want to achieve to the best of your abilities.
  • Struggle came often.  Since this was a new game for me, I was often playing poorly and underachieving.  So, I tried harder and harder to overcome obstacles and achieve at a higher level
  • Feedback was immediate.  If you scored a goal in overtime of a hockey game.  You win!!  Having that feedback right in front of you was what made you push harder for more and more feedback.  (Immediate Feedback is just one of nine characteristics of flow.)
  • Finally, it was fun for me.  I know that everyone will not want to play a hockey game, but this was interesting and fun for me and that is another reason that I couldn't be torn away from it.  
In playing this game, it has really hammered home the idea that we need to make everything relate to students in a way that is interesting to them.  Also, using fun mediums like games can really bring some learners together to attempt at something that they may not have thought of before.

I think, whether it be gaming or another type of activity, as long as we find something that really connects students to the material that we want them to learn, then we will have no problem helping them learn and master the content that we put in front of them. 

Image taken from: http://www.google.com/imgres?num=10&hl=en&biw=1366&bih=625&tbm=isch&tbnid=Z3eK20xQQsHiPM:&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHL_10&docid=k181leVCrrfsPM&imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/42/EAnhl10cover.jpg/250px-EAnhl10cover.jpg&w=250&h=308&ei=NAiEUOXUBIeMyAHBzIHwCQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=746&vpy=166&dur=307&hovh=246&hovw=200&tx=87&ty=104&sig=109352103746315158833&page=1&tbnh=148&tbnw=120&start=0&ndsp=15&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:143

Friday, September 21, 2012

Can and Can't

photo
source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/talkradionews/7551426402/


For this post, I've decided to reference two blogs that I read today, both of which struck me in complete opposite ends of the spectrum.  We'll call them rumble and humble.  The first one might want to make you rumble, as it deals with political barriers.  Reading the recent post on 2 Cents Worth 's blog, David Warlick brings up an excellent point that we are going to have to deal with as future teachers.  Politics is in everything whether we like it or not, and it always seems to go against us.  Warlick writes about politicians who make up the regulations and procedures that educators are supposed to follow; however, close to zero (if any) of these politicians have ever had firsthand experience at being a teacher.  So how do they know what is best for the classroom?  The school?  The students?  Some say that they don't, others may disagree.  All I know is that it would be nice to have former teachers in politics to help draw up regulations for education.  Does this make you want to go into politics?  I've honestly thought about it.


Now we are going to flip the script a little bit.  Now that you are all fired up over politics and how unfair it is, take a step back.  This is the humble part.  Vicki Davis is one of the inventors of the Flat Classroom Project and the author of the Cool Cat teacher blog (click her name above).  But today I didn't read about new educational ideas, I learned about life.  Vicki wrote about the little things in life and it really made me stop and think.  I know that we are going to be educators and we are in school and have jobs and families and friends and everything else that pressures our lives but when it comes down to it, a breath of air is all we need.  The little things in life are more important than the big ones, and we need to take a step back now and then and just take it all in.  Read a book, eat some chocolate, go for a walk, watch a sunset, just... breathe and be thankful that you are in the position that you are in.  Most of us can't change politics right now, but we CAN breathe.


photo
source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/7582258074/

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Technology vs. Talknology



For this post, I want to talk about an issue that I recently discovered thanks to Dean Sharenski.  He wrote a blog last week about how technology is making us more self-centered because we are not talking as much.  Those "useless" conversations that you have with people about the weather or their grandparents are diminishing, leaving people with just conversations (whether online or off) about what they want to know exactly at that time and nothing else.  He really brings up a good point here.  Because of email or social media, we can respond to others' questions when we want, in as little text as we want.  There is no more learning about second cousins or who is going where this weekend.

Talking on the phone is a thing of the past, but I still think that it is necessary for success for people to engage in these "meaningless" conversations.  The main reason, it shows people that you care.  Especially in the field of education where we have to, want to, and are going to be caring for our students and others in our field, we have to be caring and listen to them no matter what they are speaking about.  Listening to a ten year old boy talk about a fishing trip could be the difference between him paying attention during math or talking to his friends.

This is one of the small negatives of technology that may or may not have an impact on your life, but I found it interesting nonetheless.  Emailing now allows people to send heartless responses whenever they want.  Replying to a post on Facebook allows you to refrain from showing the emotion you would need in a face to face conversation.

Now I am not saying that technology is bad, and if anything I love all of the social media connections and whatnot, but as future teachers, we need to make sure that we take the time to slow down and just enjoy a nice "boring" conversation with our students and others to show that we have a heart, that we care, and that we are here for them.

Photo: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://haveagreatinterview.com/man_on_phone.jpg&imgrefurl=http://haveagreatinterview.com/Preparation.html&h=1024&w=1020&sz=89&tbnid=oQn2Bf_naQLA6M:&tbnh=90&tbnw=90&zoom=1&usg=__G--uvqWcvX4oed1wEoLNCql_z9Q=&docid=O9hLmQlKEvFq-M&sa=X&ei=Zo5bUOn1Na38yAHWo4CoBQ&ved=0CCUQ9QEwAQ&dur=100


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ipads: To Use or Not to Use?

Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/56155476@N08/6660038003/sizes/l/in/photostream/



In many schools across the country from kindergarten to high school, iPads are popping up more and more to help students with their education.  There appears to be a positive correlation between students using iPads and their overall achievement.  Students who used iPads in their lessons gained more and came out ahead of their peers who did the same lesson without an iPad.  Check out this story and more iPad use stories at this website!

However, one of the negatives of having iPads in the classroom is managing students' attention and making sure during free or work time that they are using the iPads appropriately.  IPads can obviously access the internet which could assist students in getting off task.  Appropriate instruction and monitoring of students needs to take place until the students are able stay on task on their own.

Check out this video of just one of the many examples of how iPads are being utilized in the classroom.

This brings up another question.  Is there too young of an age for this type of technology?  In my opinion there is.  I think that children in kindergarten will learn material whether they have a textbook or an iPad.  Just as long as they get the raw information that they need and they have it encoded in their minds, iPads are not necessary.  In a text that I am currently reading for another class, Jane Healy writes that childrens' minds are developing constantly in their early elementary years, and throwing too much technology at them could disrupt this evolution.  One of the quotes that sticks with me from a chapter in Failure to Connect says "After you've developed your own brain, then you can have an artificial one to play with" - mother from Canada.  I can really see where this is true and that students should not be pushed with too much that would overload their memory capacity.


Overall, I think that technology such as the iPad is an excellent idea for students.  It will help them become more engaged, as well as teach them how to use technology in our always evolving world.  The one problem that I have is using technology too soon.  Students need to be allowed to develop themselves before they worry about gadgets.  But once they mature enough, bring on the technology!

Monday, April 23, 2012

ITECH Fair (Extra Credit)

On Thursday April 19, I attended the ITECH fair that was held here on campus at UNI.  It was one of the coolest fairs that I have been to, and all of the entries and their creators were really a special group of students.  The first project that I looked at was a website for video gamers.  The three young students that I talked to had created this site so that anyone looking for a game to play, or interested in a game they have already heard of can visit this site and learn about it.  It has information about the game, ratings, and parental ratings.  Overall, this was a cool site and I wish I would have had access to it back in my gamer days!

The next project that I looked at was a building design that would be built in a vacant lot.  In this town, there is no place for adolescents to hang out or really have fun, so the two girls in this group were proposing to build a recreational center that would include everything a teenager would want.  It would have study rooms, athletic courts, a dance room, video game rooms, a cafe for food and beverages, and much much more.  This was a very good idea and it would solve their problem in my opinion.  I just wish that my home town would have had one of these rec centers.  But I'm not sure how much time I would spend studying....

The last project that I looked at was pure technology.  This young man used a computer chip called Arduino.  It is a small computer that can be used for reading censors.  It can connect you to the internet, drive prototype vehicles, and much more.  It was used in his presentation as a Red Blue Green color mixer, which I found to be pretty neat.  This project was very cool and this technology could be used for almost anything. 

I had a lot of fun at the ITECH fair this year and I'm convinced that I should go back again next year.  I had a blast!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Motivational Poster

Today's lesson was very inspirational and very heart warming.  It was centered around tragedies that children should never have to go through, and parents of children should never have to experience, but the fact of the matter is: it does happen.  However, everyone can make a difference.

As Team Workin' On It explained, even a few words can make a difference in a struggling child's life.  Words of encouragement, motivation, etc., can help them through whatever they are facing, whether it be a devastating disease or not.  This was really an eye opening lesson for me because I have never had to deal with this kind of situation up close in any way, so to think about ways to help others going through something as severe as cancer really made me think outside the box.

Making the poster using Glogster was a great idea and really fun.  It lets us play around with new technology and at the same time, it lets us help others by giving them a poster for encouragement and to help them through their hard times.  Sometimes just a few words can make all the difference in the world, and that is what we all are striving for in making these posters.  If you would like to take a look at my poster, just click here!  

On the heavier side of things, sometimes bad things do happen to people that don't deserve it.  One of the things that often happens is you become closer as a family or friend and focus on the good times.  However, as a "homework" assignment for everyone, do this no matter what.  Tell your parents you love them, tell your friends what they mean to you, and like the man in this video says, live simply so others can simply live.  Time is short.  Live like every day is your last.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lincoln Elementary Visit

The visit to Lincoln Elementary was very eye opening to me.  I was astonished at how much technology was used in each classroom that we observed.  When I was in elementary school, each classroom had only a handful of computers and they were seldom used for instruction.  However, at Lincoln, technology was everywhere.  Smart boards were used for many lessons, and these boards were controlled by a tablet in some cases.  In other classrooms, ipods were used to watch educational videos.  This was crazy to me!  I have heard of this a little, but to see it in action, and to see it working well was an amazing sight.

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1366&bih=587&gbv=2&tbm=isch&tbnid=AMJy9GueWgZCrM:&imgrefurl=http://technoscientists.pbworks.com/w/page/20303500/iPods%2520in%2520the%2520Kinder%2520Pandas%2520Classroom&docid=2-kIWPptqSiB9M&imgurl=http://technoscientists.pbworks.com/f/1237862465/iPods%252520001.jpg&w=3072&h=2304&ei=cNVpT7DHA66P0QHQ8Kj1CA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=169&vpy=280&dur=337&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=123&ty=108&sig=109352103746315158833&page=1&tbnh=118&tbnw=157&start=0&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:0

However, going back to the stone age, I was glad to see that their library still had books on the shelves.  I think technology has its place and should be used in place of other methods, but I would not want to use technology for everything 100 percent of the time.  I think it is still important to instruct students in more basic ways so they have the knowledge of completing tasks without technology in case one day they find they are without it.

Overall though, I applaud Lincoln Elementary for reaching out to new things and methods and helping their students achieve at high levels through the use of technology.  This visit was a great learning experience for me, and I can't wait to try some of these things in my own classroom!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creating Collaborative Research Project

During the first few weeks of this class, the group that I am lucky to be a part of, the Middle JAAR, worked on a collaborative research project.  I had done other group projects before, but this was much different.  For starters, our group was not allowed to talk to each other in person, or face to face; we were required to use technology for communicating.  Since our group members, along with everyone else in the world (hi grandma!) have Facebook, we decided that it would be the easiest communication device.  Another difference in this project from others I have worked on is the research aspect.  For this project, my group sent out forms to other students and had them complete them using the forms tool on Google.  This allowed for direct feedback, which our group presented to the class.

This type of project was very helpful because it was different than any I have ever done.  I felt that every member of the group was held more accountable than normal, and each person had their role to fill.  Once I have my own classroom, I am definitely going to incorporate collaborative research projects because they not only help students learn what is assigned to them, but they learn communication skills and responsibility, which will come in handy later on in their lives.

If you would like to see our presentation, just click right ------>  here!  :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Global Learning Experience

For me, I have always known about learning all over the globe.  Not necessarily how other countries learn, but that everything is connected.  Just last semester, my girlfriend taught English in Korea, and we would Skype everyday and she would tell me how everything was going and how education was different in South Korea.  So I have been familiar with differences.  My knowledge has enhanced because of Dr. Z's latest trip to Jordan, where he talked and learned about different education topics.  It was interesting to Skype with him while he was on his trip and learn about what was different in the Middle East.  There are so many techniques out there, it is hard to focus on just one.

Also, after viewing Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat" presentation, my eyes were open even wider.  I now understand better just how connected everyone is to, essentially, everyone else, and how methods can be shared instantly.  Another point is how everything is changing.  Many things are being "in-sourced" as he put it, and things are being done easier, faster, and for cheaper. 

It is going to be very interesting to me once I have my own classroom to see what global experiences my students and I will encounter.  I am hoping to include a project that involves some other students from different countries, much like Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay has done.  Who knows, maybe my class and I could take a visit to experience other countries' educational techniques!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Problem Based Learning: Problem, or Solution?

I have heard of project (or problem) based learning before, but I have not had much experience on the student end of it.  In high school, the majority of my classes were in the format: receive information, study, take test, and repeat.  This is one of the reasons that I believe I was often turned off in certain classes.  Had there been project based learning that required involvement in the community or even just with other classmates to work towards a common goal, then I have no doubt I would have been more involved in my academics.

It has been very interesting to be on the teacher end of a project based learning assignment; to be able to design it for students.  It has been very eye opening to see how much planning is necessary and how many pieces come together to make an entire project.  Looking back to the few project based learning projects that I have been a part of, I now see how much work went into it behind the scenes, and how beneficial it was to myself and my classmates.

In the future, I plan to incorporate some project based learning activities because it will help my students gain more.  Not only in the knowledge department, but they will gain much more in becoming well rounded students and contributors to a greater good.

Take a look at my groups project that we completed!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Price Lab Visit: Free of Charge

Today my Classroom Computer Applications class took a field trip to the University of Northern Iowa Price Laboratory School.  On our visit, we spent some time in a high school science classroom to see how one to one computing affects students.  It appears that it did everything but hinder their education.  Each student having their own laptop allowed for every student to use the same computer software, and if they wanted to present their work, they could just plug their computer into the projector.  It was really cool to see one to one computing in this setting and how much it helped the students learn.

The second part of our visit was spent with Holly Hanna, who works at Price Lab and implements project based learning programs in her class.  She discussed the benefits of project based learning and how it worked in her classroom, as well as one or two projects that they have completed that were a success.  One thing that I thought was interesting was that in assessing her students, she assess every student individually; she does not grade according to any group work.  I'm not sure if I completely agree with this because since such a large part of project based learning is with a small or large group, then I think the students should be held accountable as a group for SOME parts of the project.  If one of the sole purposes of project based learning is collaboration and cooperation among group members, then I think some part of the grade should be how well the student worked with other students.  If I were to implement project based learning into my classroom, there is no doubt that I would grade my students on collaboration.  Not solely, but some part of their grade would come from how well they worked with others; one of the greatest tools a person can have.

Global Learning

Global learning is something that I did not do much of in my educational career, but its importance is increasing every day and must be incorporated into the classroom.  Allowing students the opportunity to learn about different places in the world; the people, products, resources, etc. will only help to increase their knowledge about these places as well as how they and their home fit in to the larger spectrum.  It would be a disservice to not allow students to learn about other places on the globe, and if possible, become connected with other students in a different country.

I found a statistic that says 5out of 8 children are not learning about major world events and problems at school.  http://www.think-global.org.uk/page.asp?p=3857  This is shameful and should not be allowed in our schools.  Children and students need to know about what goes on in this world because eventually they are going to be thrown in it and no one will be there to hold their hand.  The more knowledge and experience that they gain while in the school setting, the better for when they are on their own.

Watch this video!!  How cool would it be if every school could do this?
The great this about the school in this video is that they teach students about different places on the globe in many different ways.  They have teachers from other countries, they do things such as origami and other cultural things, and they learn about many different continents.  This school is preparing their students the right way!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Collaboration: A Tool in Itself

When you think collaboration tools, do you think about computers?  Facebook?  Anything related to Google?  Those can all be excellent collaboration tools, yes, but so can a piece of paper.  Collaboration tools are basically anything that can help solve a task within a group.  But let's not take a trip down memory lane to the stone age; we'll stick with good ol' technology!


There are numerous collaboration tools today, such as using Googledocs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  These may seem like social media, but they are great for communication as well as sharing information and documents.  Have to work apart from your group on a project?  Send them a document through Facebook, or a link through Twitter.  The possibilities are endless.  The possibilities may be cut short, however, if not used correctly.  Such as a piece of paper, if you decide to fold it into an airplane and throw it across the room at the girl you dislike, well that isn't the best use of a collaborative tool.  But, if you are classmates make one document through the use of Googledocs while in separate locations, then you are using technology wisely.  So next time when doing a group project, fear not that you can't meet with members of your group.  Just jump on Facebook, stay away from farmville, and start chatting about your project!

One last thing, collaboration tools are great, but without using them to COLLABORATE, then they are next to useless.  The best tool that you have at your disposal is collaboration itself.  Working with a group and gauging each other's ideas, that is what will decide whether something is a success or a failure.  Collaboration is the key.

If I haven't convinced you about collaboration tools yet, check this out!  It is all about collaboration tools and why we should use them.  It even includes Facebook!  Among other things, it shares the benefits of collaboration tools.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Introduction Presentation

For my presentation, I used a foam board with pictures on it that relate to me.  Then I had students in the audience use tacks to attach a statement that they thought went with its corresponding picture.  This was what made the decision on what I would talk about.  I would talk about whatever picture they tacked a statement to next, and continued in that manner until I was finished and my board was full.  I decided to do it this way because it involved the audience and held their attention more, as they were part of the act. 

I really liked these presentations because I immediately learned about my classmates, and it was a nice, easy oral speaking assignment.  Also, there was the option of using many forms of technology (which I chose not to use) in the presentation.  I think that every class should begin with presentations like this, not just technology classes.  This is a great way to use technology, gain public speaking skills, and learn about your classmates.  Sounds like a perfect start to the class to me!

If you would like to take a look at my presentation..  just click here!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Expectations for CCA

My expectations for this class are very high because I have not had many technology courses.  I am interested and excited to dive into a world that I have little experience and I can't wait to learn all that I can.  The biggest expectation that I have is exposure.  I am hoping that I will be exposed to anything and everything possible that the internet and other technologies have to offer.  I expect to come away from this class with a better understand of what is out there for technology, how to use it, and how it can or can't be used in a classroom setting.  Also, I expect to get myself out there for others to see (not what it sounds like :) ).  What I mean is, I would like to become more involved in blogs (such as this one) and other sites as well that connect me to other people. 

Finally, the normal things for every classroom, I expect to be respected by everyone in my environment, and to have my materials respected as well.  This is very important, and I plan to follow it myself.

I am excited for this semester to take off!

Tune in next week,

Adam