Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blog Assignment #14

Teaching Can Be a Profession by Joel Klein
Joel Klein was the head of New York City School System for 8 years. He was asked what he would change about the school system if he could just wave a wand. The article and his answer goes as follows:

- We need better academic training for prospective teachers

- no solution stated

I agree with the problem because I believe there is always room for improvement and better academic training can only help, not hurt. In the article he stated that a study revealed that "23 states cannot boast a single program that provides solid math preparation resembling the practices of high-performing nations." The report also found that less than 20% of training programs equip candidates in the basics of reading instruction. I think that programs should be put in place to make teachers the most prepared in every subject.

- We need a new approach for recruiting teachers

- Recruit from the top third of our graduates

I am indifferent about this being called a "problem." While I think on paper that it would be awesome for the top third of graduates to be recruited, I also think that just because you are good at school and made all A's in college does not mean you will be a very effective teacher. There is more than just knowing facts and procedures that makes a teacher really effective. When you look back at the teacher that was most effective to you I doubt the thought that comes to mind is, "Man, they sure knew a lot of facts."

-Change how we reward teachers, right now it is based on seniority

- none stated

I agree that rewarding teachers or giving them the upper hand because they have been there longer is not the way to go. Just because you have experience does not mean you are effective. I think one way improve on this is to do honest self-reflections as well as have someone from the sate or otherwise sit in on classrooms to see what the atmosphere is like because while looking at test scores and improvements are important, the delivery method of their teaching could be way off.

- Almost impossible to remove an incompetent teacher

- professionalize teaching to have different policies with a "formal set of...peer realtionships," have a "national teacher examination" that tests mastery of pedagogy and content knowledge," and require a "supervised internship from one to three years" to evaluate the performance of prospective teachers

I agree that this is a serious problem. I am not a parent but I have had incompetent teachers and have had friends with incompetent teachers and I would be very upset if my child were to spend a year with an incompetent teacher. I do not think that professionalizing teaching would be the only way to resolve this issue. I think a way to resolve this issue to to have someone sit in on classes, review test scores and make sure the teacher is doing as much as they can to make their class beneficial for the student. They should also be open to constructive criticism and be given a period of time to change what needs improvement.

Overall, I think he makes very valid points for his problems but the solutions are not where they should be. I also think that if he was the head of the New York City School District for 8 years he probably saw a lot of problems and saw students from a variety of families and situations. He answered the question of what he would change about the school system with professionalizing teaching. There are flaws with the school system as with everything else in the world. I feel like with as many children's lives that are effected by the school system, his answer should have been more revolved around bettering children's lives than with upgrading teachers' paychecks and worrying about how much we are respected. The paycheck did not draw me to being a teacher. It was knowing that I could make a positive difference in someone's life.

be the change

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blog Post #13

Dr. Strange assigned us to contribute to future EDM310 classes by making an assignment in which we think they would benefit.
I think one thing that we have not covered yet that would be beneficial for future teachers to learn is all of the apps out there that are available to help teachers. We focus so much on apps that help the students to improve their skills that we forget about apps that could be useful to us. An assignment could be to find 5 to 10 apps that would help us as teachers and tell what they do or how they could be beneficial to us.
During my research, I found a few apps that could be beneficial to teachers no matter what they taught and no matter what the age group.

the 70 best apps for teachers and students

Class Dojo
This app helps teachers keep track of each child's classroom behavior. You can give points/rewards and take them away. It is specified for teachers so you can add your entire roll into the app. It is an easy way to control your class when it is getting out of hand because it makes a fun noise when you are giving each of the kids points so when the kids start to hear the noise, they start to straighten up. It is also fun for the kids because they are trying to get points so you can give the kids some incentive by telling them that they get some kind of reward when they get to a certain amount of points. It is also beneficial for the parents because they do not have to wait for a report card to come out to see how their child is behaving in class.

Remind 101
This app is like text messaging but in a safe way for your students, yourself, and the parents. This app allows you to send messages to you class about reminders of due dates, upcoming events, etc. and you can send texts to parents about conference dates, behavioral emergencies, concerns, or updates on school events. The best part about this app is that no one can see or have access to any one's phone number. The app has them secured so you do not see any students' personal phone numbers, any parents' personal phone numbers, and best of all, they do not see your personal phone number! All of the communication without having them blowing up your personal phone number. Cannot go wrong with that!

Haiku Deck
This app is one that helps build presentations. It is a presentation app that is built just for an iPad or devices like it instead of using PowerPoint. It has many different preset layouts that you can choose from and has high quality pictures or you can choose your own. It is easy to use and is great for when you are in a hurry to make an impromptu slideshow for class. It has the option to create custom graphs also so if there was an in class project you could easily put all of the information into graph form for the class to see.

This app is great for project management. You can assign tasks and within each task you can attach files, assign labels, due dates, and more. It is designed for you to see a news feed so individual work within collaborative assignments are less likely to fall behind. Students can also "vote" and comment on tasks so you can get immediate reviews for feedback or brainstorming ideas. It is a free app and keeps your project groups organized and your students' on a structured path of their own.

This app is great because it can be used for testing or for play. Teachers can set up questions and students can answer them on the app and you can display the results in a real time graph as they submit their answers. This can make a pop quiz more interactive or you can turn this into a round of jeopardy. Either way, I know I used something like this in my college classes and it was always much more fun than a normal quiz.

Project #12 Part B

Project #12 Part B was a collaborative assignment in which we presented a SmartBoard Lesson Plan. Our lesson plan was about teaching students about contractions. It is an interactive lesson where the students will collaborate with each other, be able to come up to the board and play games, and match the contractions with the words.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


On November 13, 2014, I visited Mathew Needleman's blog titled Creating Lifelong Learners. I commented on a post from October about asking open-ended questions in the classroom. In the post he described how teaching used to be, and how it is changing. He also shared some of his experiences with asking open-ended questions and how it worked for him. At the end of the post he asked for tips for asking open-ended questions. I commented agreeing that the way of teaching has changed/is changing and that open-ended questions are a great way to keep students engaged and to grasp a deeper understanding of a concept. I listed a few examples of open-ended questions and left a tip that teachers should ask more questions based off what a student answers and play off of that to continue discussion and to see their way of thinking. You might learn something from them!
ask questions
I revisited Mathew's blog on November 30 and commented on a post from September. It was an informative post about how to teach students to write narratives and how they can practice without having them write the cliche personal narratives. He had some very good ideas like having showing them a shoe and having them write a story about the person who wore it and showing then a picture or painting and having them write about one of the people in that picture. I commented saying that they were great ideas and very creative and that I like the ideas. I will be using them in the future!  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blog Post Assignment #12

Collaborative Work Participants: Tori Hudson, Noah Armstrong, Melissa Keeler, Katy Ortmann, Chelsea Powers

Assistive Technology is any software, device, or equipment that enables someone with a disability to function in an easier and/or more efficient way. This could be in regards to how they learn, how they communicate, how they play games, how they use computers, how they see things, how they hear, etc. Assistive Technology opens the doors for people with disabilities of all kind to be a more successful and a better functioning member of society.

AT- Communication
Today I am going to share with you an app called Proloquo2Go that is available on iTunes. This is an app that gives a voice to people who can not speak through the use of symbols. This is an amazing tool for kids who have trouble with verbal communication. Instead of trying to guess what they want or need, they can click on the appropriate symbols to tell you exactly what they want. When a symbol is clicked, it says the words out loud on the app as well. In this video, you will meet a 10 year-old boy named Nick. He was diagnosed with Autism and has trouble with his verbal communication. The video shows his mother and other people who work with Nick through out the day using Proloquo2Go and they talk about how it has drastically changed the ease in which they communicate. Nick will often try to verbalize what he wants but when/if it does not happen he uses his iPad to press the symbols which make sentences stating what it is he wants, needs, or feels. Most of the time he will also repeat what the app says which is strengthening his verbal communication skills. The app is availiable on the app store for $219.99. That may seem like a lot of money for one app but when it comes to being able to communicate with a child and the child better communicating with the world, I believe it is worth every penny. If you visit Proloquo2Go, read the reviews from people who have bought it. They all have touching stories about having children or students with disabilities of all kinds whose lives have been made so much easier because of this amazing app that enables them to communicate more effectively.

iPhone Screenshot 2

AT-Speech Recognition Software
Noah Armstrong- In my research I came across a few technologies that are designed to help physically handicapped students, but one stuck out because it is something that would help people like me with forms of dyslexia. Speech recognition software was designed to help use a computer without using the traditional mouse and keyboard. Software like “Dragon” can recognize sounds spoken by the user and convert them into commands for the computer. This allows someone with limited use of their hands to operate a computer with their voice. This allows people with limb abnormalities or amputations to be free of the need for an aid to do the typing for them.
Using this software one can also dictate to the computer what they wish to type. This can help not only the people who find it hard or impossible to type but also those that have problems spelling, like those with Dyslexia. These programs are almost 100% accurate when it comes to spelling and recognizing speech. This allows them to make up for their handicaps.
Speech recognition may not be in itself a learning tool but it levels the playing field so that those with the inability to use a computer normally can have a way to do it on their own without help. This is not only a tool for school work but also for the real world that is now run by computers.

AT- Deaf and Hearing Impaired
Melissa Keeler- During my search for assistive technologies available for the hearing impaired or deaf this disability was often paired with blindness as well. It was explained that both of these disabilities account for the smaller part of the disabled population so maybe that is why they were often paired together. Another reason could be that a lot of times when a person has one disability it can be accompanied by another or sometimes multiple disabilities reside within one person. At any rate I concentrated on the Deaf. The Deaf community and members within consider it offensive to call them hearing impaired or to say that they have suffered a loss of hearing. They consider ASL (American Sign Language) to be their native language and English their second language. Some do not speak by choice however most of the Deaf learn to speak in order to effectively communicate with the general public.
I will move from older to newer technologies as some of the older ones will still be in use but not for long I am sure as smartphones are getting smarter every day.
In the classroom setting the interpreter was at one time the only way a teacher could communicate effectively with a Deaf or hearing impaired student. The interpreter stands to the left and a little bit behind the teacher and signs what the teacher says in sign language for the Deaf student to see and understand.
Hearing aids can be used by some students with hearing impairment however, do know that the aids amplify ALL of the sound including background noise which could still make it difficult for the student to hear the teacher. Use of FM systems (the same kind as presidential security or McDonald's drive through) where the teacher wears a mini microphone and the student wears a pair of headphones is extremely useful in these cases because the student hears ONLY the teacher.
Sidekick is a mobile communication device that allows the user to receive Instant Messages (IM) and Email. Of course this device is being replaced by the cellphone.
Video instruction and televised announcements with closed captioning can be effective tools. The student can pause or review any forgotten or missed parts of the video instruction avoiding misunderstood questions or answers due to language/communication barriers.
Photo experience books created by the student offer a visual tool to communicate personal experiences with a hearing person without the use of spoken language.
Power point presentations are great for the hearing impaired and Deaf students. It is a computer program that is offered through Microsoft. The program allows the teacher to add pictures and text to slides eliminating the need for the student to hear what is being said.

A vocalization to visualization tool is available for free through a computer program called Winamp media player. A microphone is used and auditory sound is turned into visual fireworks on the computer monitor. This is used to represent the sound that is going on in the room as well as to teach the Deaf student how to speak.
The top assistive technology by far within the Deaf community is the smartphone and texting. The junior high and high schoolers especially like this because it completely eliminates the need to speak. They can communicate clearly and just as quickly with text as their hearing peers.
All of these technologies can and are used in real world situations and like I said earlier the smartphone is quickly replacing a lot of these technologies as I type.

AT- Blind and the Visually Impaired

Kathryn Ortmann- Students that are blind or have visual impairments are going to be vulnerable to falling behind in a classroom setting. Meet Mason.  He's a first grader and suffers from a vision impairment.  Mason's parents were worried when he first started school that he would not be able to keep up with others and he wouldn't be able to go to a normal school.

Mountbatten Brailler      To help solve some of Mason's complications, his school purchased a Mountbatten Brailler for him to use during class so that he can learn to write and read Braille.  The Mountbatten Brailler is the complete Braille learning center for children and their teachers. As a professional resource, the Mountbatten Brailler offers exceptional connectivity and software to support flexible teaching and educational needs.  The Mountbatten is a simple tool that can be used to develop awareness of Braille symbols and characters. The clear audio response reinforces learning and tells the student which commands are being entered.  The Mountbatten is the first and only Bluetooth Smart hard-copy Braille device that communicates wirelessly with iOS Bluetooth Smart Ready devices. Mason is able to learn Braille at an early age, so as the grade level increases and the difficulty of subject matter increases, Mason can keep up with his fellow classmates.  
Mason uses an iPad and the Smart Board to increase his learning.  The iPad allows Mason to participate in fun games and learning exercises that teach him how to read and spell.  There are many apps that allow students to listen to words and spell using the sounds, so that they do not really have to see what is happening to learn.  The Smart Board, since it is so big, allows a visually impaired student like Mason to be able to participate and actually know what is happening on the screen.
Girl using a smartboard

AT- Students with ADHD
Chelsea Powers-In todays classroom there is a growing rate for children with ADHD. This can be very difficult for a teacher, parent, and other classmates. It also requires a lot of patience, I say this speaking as a mother with a child that struggles with ADHD. I chose to find assistive technology for students with ADHD. I also use some of the programs and strategies at home to help with his homework. There are a bunch of resources for students and teachers in the classroom that I have listed below. A word-prediction program that requires a few keystrokes to generate word lists can help students with severe spelling problems, who do not benefit from spell-checkers. Graphic organizers, on the other hand, can be helpful to students who can't generate ideas and organize their thoughts. Such as this website Aurora Systems
Clickers Clickers are remote control looking items that record student’s answers to questions. They can be multiple choice questions or polls. It is a great way to get immediate feedback and data on student’s knowledge of the material. Clickers are engaging for all students especially those with learning disabilities. They provide instant feedback for the student and involves technology It engages the student while maintaining focus on the lesson and task at hand. Text to speech programs The programs and tools that create text to speech are great for students who are auditory learners, struggling readers, or have visual impairments. This allows the students to listen to the text while following along with the reading. The student is no longer focused solely on word recognition but now focused on the content and main ideas. WordQ is another program that helps students proofread their work.


On October 26, I visited Lee Kolbert's blog titled A Geeky Momma and commented on a post from August 10, 2014. This was a very useful blog post for me and I know will be great help to any other teacher, future teacher, or parent. In the blog post, she posted on how sometimes kids will come into your classroom with not-so-great study habits. She stresses the importance of spending time with your students to help them improve their study habits. I commented on how useful this can be for any student and I also think it is important for children to form good study habits early on because the studying is only amplified after each grade.

inspire teach change

On November 2, I visited Lee Kolbert's blog again and commented on a post from August 5, 2012 called, EDTech Jargon Bingo. It is a post about how people use "fluff" words when talking about engaging students to an audience and she made it into a BINGO game! I think this is very funny for people to recognize and make a game out of it. I commented saying how amusing that is and how I have also noticed a lot of the same lingo being used in speeches, tutorials, videos about project based learning, etc. This is a sample of one of Kolbert's BINGO cards: