Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2015 Annual Report

There are many articles and discussions taking place concerning the role of the teacher in the future. Project Tomorrow suggests that, not just educators, but nobody can avoid the fact that the way people learn is highly visual. There are visual representations for us to learn at our jobs, homes, and schools. The students of today are so visually oriented and educators need to embrace that and not steer away from it. So of course it would be obvious to use technology to educate students because they use technology so much anyway.

School leaders have many reasons for supporting the inclusion of digital content and technology in education. I agree with those reasons. I think the key point to making sure that the inclusion of technology in daily instruction is successful, is to make sure that the educators have been trained/taught how to use the technology that can be incorporated into their instruction. Some people can become overwhelmed with all the devices and options and it would be helpful if there were classes to help educators develop the skills to use technology confidently.

With that being said, school principals should set up those development courses within their school or share any professional development courses that will be scheduled in near by areas so that all educators have the option of furthering their technology education. I feel that a few hours of technology education should be required for all educators because it is becoming more and more evident that teaching without education is cheating the students out of fun yet very important experiences in their education.

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Flipped Classroom…Take 60.. and ACTION!

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When I first heard that we had to complete a Flipped Classroom, I was excited. I thought it would be cool to be able to use different programs that provide great visuals to create a lesson. I’m ok with technology so I didn’t think it would be too hard to complete this Flipped Classroom assignment. I had every intention on making my Flipped lesson super creative, but I struggled majorly.

I have a Mac and I was told that QuickTime is an easy and excellent program to use when creating lessons for Flipped Classrooms. That was not the case for me at all! About 60 takes later and I have a video that is just ok. I got to the point with 4 hours of recording that a few words pronounced weirdly was . My main issue I had when I was recording was that QuickTime was using so much energy from my computer that the laptop fan would cut on about 1 minute into my recording each and every time I clicked “start recording”. I became desperate and actually recorded in front of an open refrigerator to try and keep the laptop fan from coming on. TRUE STORY!

With all that said, I didn’t have the patience to try and use another program to create supplemental materials for my video. I decided to go with a good old fashion worksheet. My worksheet will allow the students to organize the different theories about atoms because there was a lot of information. The history of the atom is one of the concepts that students need to know in order to fully understand why the periodic table is arranged the way it is and why atoms and the subatomic particles behave the way they do.

Overall, I’m sure QuickTime is great for newer Macs, but I don’t think I will use it again until I have a new laptop. I can definitely see how students may enjoy watching videos prior to their class periods. Having to stare at a teacher for an hour or more can really get old. I do see myself attempting to try another program to create a flipped lesson; I think I can have better luck with a different program.

 

Check out my Flipped Classroom on The History of the Atom

https://youtu.be/zJDP_8HEkc8

I created a quick quiz (I wouldn’t grade it); I would just want students to show their understanding of the video lesson and have a worksheet that they can refer to in the Chemistry notebook.  This would also give me time to go over any of the concepts the students didn’t understand.  Here is the link to the quick quiz:

https://docs.google.com/a/marymount.edu/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfhHmsOOFzPhnj3eVYY-MF9eVYLnZTHWxZHjRMs5yWe1vUq-Q/viewform

 

Black Girls Code: Crashing Digital Gender Divide

I watched the video Black Girls Code: Crashing Digital Gender Divide and I was shocked at the statistics Kimberly Bryant gave about students and computer science. The statistic that surprised me the most was that only about 0.3% of girls choose computer science as their major in college. Bryant also gave specific statistics taken from California indicating that Black and Latino students are usually 3 levels behind white students in math and science courses, and 90% of girls don’t have internet access or even access to technological devices period to supplement their studies. All these statistics support the problem that is very evident. There is a huge digital gender divide between girls and boys and whites and minorities in coding, STEM, and education entirely.

As short as the video was, there is a lot to be addressed. Addressing equity in the classroom doesn’t only mean treating male and female students equally. It also means making sure all students have equal opportunities to succeed and that is where the teacher comes in. First, I think educators need to try and identify their biases in the classroom and do their best to eliminate those biases. A common example is gender bias. I would combat gender bias in my classroom by using a calling method, maybe popsicle sticks with students names written on them. By using the sticks to call on students to response, I can make sure every students is heard equally, responsible for participating, and paying attention in the classroom. Clickers are also a great method for making sure all students participate. This method can also encourage the students that are shyer to participate. I would also like to put students in groups quite frequently. Sometimes group settings take the pressure off of those students that are apprehensive to share their ideas to the entire class because in smaller crowds there is less of a threat. Those are all things that can help crush those horrible statistics concerning low graduation rates and students falling levels behind in school.

Additionally, I think it is important to review the curricula ahead of time so that it will give me time to include female experiences into the lessons. Sometimes the textbooks and videos that teachers are provided with are loaded heavily with examples that male students would relate to. That can cause the female students to become disengaged and that lack of focus can cause them to miss information and fall behind.

I would also like to create opportunities for students to work on assignments in class that involve the internet and technological devices. Not all students have access to technology at home and many times those students are students of color. Regardless of those students’ circumstances at home, I would like to create an environment where there are able to have the opportunity to experience just as much as the students in the class that have technology available to them at home.

Finally, I would like to look for cool learning opportunities outside of the classroom, whether they are volunteer opportunities or opportunities to advance and dive into subjects (other than Chemistry) that all students may enjoy. I say that because my boyfriend codes and it something I wish I was exposed to as a child/teen. It seems so complicated, yet interesting and limitless in its applications. I’ve known about Black Girls Code for years now and all the programs and camps they have to encourage Black girls to become interested in coding-something other than the liberal arts subjects that high percentages of women, in general, elect to study in college. Even though I chose a science major in college I just wish I had teachers that exposed me to more than the introductory Computer Science courses in my younger years. After all some of the best inventors and scholars in the world have been women, so why stifle the young women of today and hold them back from what could be a great future. All students should have equal opportunities to succeed and be great!

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud

I recently watched Sugata Mitra’s: Build a School in the Cloud TED Talk and it was a great reality check for me. In this video Mitra discusses a research project he conducted in a few different countries, but they all were connected to self-organized learning. My takeaway from this TED Talk was that children need the opportunities to teach themselves and satisfy the curiosities they have. Mitra blatantly said that “knowing is obsolete”, and I agree! Today if you don’t know something you can easily teach yourself the information or find out how to complete a task and that was shown time and time again in Mitra’s hole in the wall computer research. The students in his research remained diligent during their process of teaching themselves so that they could figure out how to use the computer, in one case, and learning the process of DNA, in another case. Those are two concepts that aren’t easily learned.

Now, this doesn’t mean that teachers aren’t still important. Teachers are still needed to help guide learning by proposing questions that set the students learning into motion. It is very similar to project based learning. The students have opportunities to discuss, collaborate, and learn on their own instead of the teacher giving them information for them to memorize. I believe students are more than capable to be in charge of their own learning and with that freedom students will show more excitement and interest in learning.

Mitra’s components that make up his self-organized learning environments are the Internet, collaboration, and encouragement and I think that is a perfect recipe to prepare students for their futures. Our job market has definitely changed and the jobs that have been created and will be needed in the future will call for people that are able to collaborate with others, communicate well, think critically, and be creative. Those are all skills that students need to learn today so that they will be prepared for their future. There are many discussions that educators are having about how to change the approach to educating children, but I think it’s time to make a change instead of just talking about it.

Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

Michael Godsey’s article, “The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher” is an article that every educator should read. Godsey discusses the possibility of schools in the future not needing teachers in the same way that teachers are needed today. It is a little unsettling to think that there may be many teachers that will be out of jobs one day due to the fact that the future schools may only need facilitators or technicians to stream lessons. Godsey presents both sides of the argument though. On one side Godsey discusses that free resources such as sharemylesson.com and TeachersPayTeachers provide great materials that are well made so it is inevitable that teachers will use them for their lesson plans. Technology in general was listed as contributing to the declining need of teachers as the sole content providers in the classroom because if students can access the information on their own via the Internet then why teach that content in the classroom. On the other hand, Godsey thinks that those free resources should be used just to supplement the original lesson plan created by the teacher.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Technology isn’t something to be feared. There are many fantastic resources and tools that can be accessed by using technology so educators should become comfortable with using technology and use technology in their courses without hesitation. With the right guidance and direction technology will only help students during their educational journey. I do not believe that teachers will be absent in future schools; I consider teachers to be important tools/resources. I do believe that the teachers of today will no longer be needed, but that is because education is constantly evolving. Teachers will always be needed for motivation, inspiration, and clarification of content, but the way educators will teach in the future may look quite different which may not be a bad thing.  Change is good sometimes right?

The Flip Side

I decided to listen to a podcast on the Flipped Classroom channel of BAM Radio. The segment I listened to was “Moving from the Flipped Classroom to Flipped Mastery”. This podcast is hosted by Jon Bergmann and this specific segment featured a middle school, special education, math teacher by the name of Michelle St. John. She has only been teaching for five years, but she has been flipping her classroom for the past three years. Right away I thought that was impressive and brave for someone so new to teaching to take on what some educators think of being a very difficult and complex approach to teaching. She discussed that a flipped mastery classroom allows students to work at their own pace, do their own practices, correct their assignments, and move on when they have mastered a concept. She spoke about how creating that environment allows her to be able to give more of her attention to students that seems to be struggling. She discusses that she has committed to a flipped classroom and now a flipped mastery classroom because it allows students (especially in such a diverse population as special education) to take pride and responsibility in their education. I’m interested in flipped classrooms because students shouldn’t feel bad if they learn a little slower than their peers, and the students that learn at a fast rate shouldn’t be held back so that the class can catch up. The flipped mastery classroom allows each student to learn at their own pace and feel empowered while doing so.

Are podcasts something I would consider for professional learning in the future? I think so. This podcast kept my attention because I’m still learning about flipped classrooms and what works and what doesn’t work in those type of environments. I think podcasts are a great way to listen to the current issues that many educators are having in their classrooms and a great way to snag some quick advice and improve your strategies/methods of teaching.

There is no way to be bored watching a PowToon!

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This week I learned how to use PowToon. PowToon is a great way to show cool PowerPoint presentations in a way that is easier to use than the go-to Prezi that everyone likes to use. PowToon has many transition, effects, shapes, and other tools that allow students and teachers to create animated videos that are more pleasing to the eye compared to the everyday PowerPoint Presentations, and it also allows students to add their voice to presentations as well.

I would love to create PowToon presentations for my classroom because, if done right, it can help students remain interested in the lesson. The voice application of PowToon can help students grasp information better by hearing the information while they are seeing graphics for the information, and it can also serve as a tool for students to refer back to when they need to review/study since the presentations can be shared or uploaded directly to YouTube. I would rather upload presentations that I would make for my class to YouTube so that they are all together and in an order for students to have access to.

For my students, I would allow them to create PowToon presentations individually or in groups. If the presentation was created in a group it would be easy for each student to have a part to complete because a script needs to be written, a voice needs to be added, and visuals need to be created and organized to complete the presentation. Each of those steps allows for each student to show their personality and creativity while still demonstrating that they understand the content.

I can’t wait until I have my own classroom so that I can use PowToon. It is just a great tool for teachers that like to flip their classroom, inspire their students, and keep their students engaged in class. What is wrong with students having fun while presenting their assignments and teachers enjoying their students’ work and being amazed at how they can put their knowledge into creative works? I’ll take PowToon presentations over the everyday PowerPoint presentations any day.