Sunday, December 4, 2016

Technology in Education: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Cons?

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Reflecting back on the entirety of my learning career, I have observed one very key point. Teaching and learning have changed dramatically due to the evolvement of technology. All semester long I've been learning about the benefits that technology has in the classroom--and I firmly believe that there are many. However, recently I stumbled across an article titled, "Screens in Schools are a $60 Billion Hoax" by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. This article provoked some counterarguments to my understanding of technology in the classroom.

One argument against technology that really stuck out to me is that over 200 peer reviewed journals have correlated an increase in technology to an increase in ADHD, screen addiction, depression, anxiety and other mental problems. I think that as we continue into the future, it will be especially important to examine the long-term implications that technology has on the developing brain.

Despite all the negative consequences, the article concluded that the reason technology is still being used so frequently in the classroom is because of a very common culprit--money. It is estimated that educational technology is going to become a $60 billion dollar industry by the year 2018. I urge all educators to examine the sources of which they are learning about the benefits of a certain technology gadget in the classroom. Is it done by a company who will profit tremendously from selling their product? Just something to think about.

I honestly have no idea what the future holds but I believe that as educators we will need to closely examine the impact our technology use is having in the classroom. Do the benefits outweigh the cons? That I can't answer, but I'm sure that very question will be throughly researched in the upcoming years.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Biometrics: The Future of Education


If you're anything like me, the word biometrics makes you yawn. However, they are actually a facet of technology that educators should get incredibly excited about! Biometrics refers to any technology that can recognize humans based on either physical or behavioral traits. Today's most popular biometrics include fingerprint recognition and voice recognition.
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The possibilities that biometrics hold could completely change the learning experience of students. With biometrics, technology would have the capability of really understanding the physical and mental state of your students. While this may sound like a scary, "technology taking over" kind of scenario, it could actually be very beneficial to a child's learning. For example, course material could be changed based on the students response to the content. This would ensure that every student is learning in a way that bests suits them. I know that personally, I am excited about all the potential that biometrics could have and am especially interested to see what happens in the future.
Check out this great article by Edutopia that explains how biometrics and four other types of technologies may shape our future classrooms. The future is exciting in the world of education!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Crash Course Kids: Growing Students' Knowledge Through Videos

In high school, whenever I felt that I had some blanks in my understanding of a topic, I would turn to a YouTube channel called "Crash Course". Crash Course creates short videos that use graphics and creative scripts to explain many different educational topics. I absolutely love the humor and creativity in the crash course videos. It seemed they could do a better job explaining a topic in 5 minutes than a lot of teachers could in a 60 minute lecture.

Screen Capture of Crash Course Kids Homepage
About a year ago, Crash Course made a new channel called Crash Course Kids. As a future teacher, this got me excited about all the possibilities for using these videos in the classroom. The videos currently focus on 5th grade science content, however they will expand in the future. Crash Course Kids is created with teachers in mind, even listing the common core standards that align with each video.



My favorite series that that Crash Course Kids has produced so far is about the Engineering Process. This series explains what engineering is and describes the process in which engineers go about in creating new things. Engineering is an important skill to bring in to the classroom. These videos would be an excellent way to introduce an engineering project and then they could act as a guide through the engineering process. Crash Course Kids would help get students excited about learning, as they bring in a real world application to the classroom. Below is the first video in the series. I highly suggest you check out this channel! 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Seesaw: A Must Have App for the Classroom?

There are tons of different apps for the classroom and it can be overwhelming for teachers to figure out which apps are really effective.  One app that I believe could be a big game-changer in the classroom is called "Seesaw". Seesaw is an app that is essentially a digital learning journal that gives students the opportunity to document the work they are doing and then share it with teachers and parents. The image below shows the different ways that students can document their work through photos, drawing, notes, videos, galleries or links.


Seesaw provides many benefits to the learning environment for the students, parents and teachers. Here is a list of a few key benefits. 
  • Students get the opportunity to see how they've grown over the year
  • Students can have an audience for their work which can motivate them to do their best work on every single assignment 
  • Parents get the opportunity to see their students work on a more regular basis
  • Parents can better support the students learning at home by keeping up to date with what learning is happening in the classroom
  • Teachers can easily evaluate student work
  • Teachers can be organized and easily communicate to parents and students
As you can see in this list, Seesaw can make the classroom a much more organized environment with open communication between the parents, students, and teachers. I saw this app in practice in the kindergarten classroom that I completed my level one field experience in. Parents loved the feedback from the student and the teacher loved how easy it made the process. This app is definitely worth further exploration! If you would like to learn more, EdShelf.com has an excellent article about this app. Go check it out! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Expanding My Personal Learning Network #4

Resource 8: Instagram
I personally use Instagram, but this class has taught me that every social media platform can also be used to expand my personal learning network. I followed a few education Instagram accounts. One account I personally loved is called “Target Teachers”(Target Teachers). This account posts fun and cute activities for students and all supplies can be purchased at Target. This makes it easy to access all the supplies needed. As a Target lover myself, I found this a great connection of two of my favorite things, Target and teaching! Another account I followed is “Brown Bag Teacher”(Brown Bag Teacher). This is run by a teacher in a K/1 classroom and shares ideas of what she does in the classroom and her ideas on teaching. A post that I found really interesting was a picture of the homework she sends with her students. There was a chart of 16 “after school adventures” and the students have to see how many they can complete with their families. Some were academic related but other activities included things such as, “do an act of kindness today”. I thought this was a great view on homework and I am excited to see more that she posts.


Resource 9: Blogs
Blogs are a valuable resource because they provide an outlet for any person to share their experiences, knowledge and resources to a large audience. I found a few bloggers in particular that can really help me expand my personal learning network. The first blog is titled, “Kinder Craze” written by Maria Galvin (Kinder Craze - A Kindergarten Teaching Blog). Maria is a kindergarten teacher and curriculum developer herself. The blog features a variety of different posts that would all be useful for teachers. The posts cover topics such as classroom setup, math and reading resources, and other free printouts for teachers. This blog really gets me excited to be a teacher and I can learn a lot from this current teacher. The next blog that I found was Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog (Ms. Cassidy's Class). This is a blog by a first grade teacher in Canada. This blog stood out me because of all the pictures and videos she posts of students in her classroom. Not only does she share her lesson plans and activities that all seem very fun, she also shows her students doing her plans. This is neat a future teacher to view as to how to implement the activities in my classroom.


Resource 10: Twitter Chat (Grace Mills Twitter)

Twitter is beneficial for more than just entertainment. It is a great educational tool because it allows you to personally connect with other educators from around the world. I participated in the Iowa Edchat and go to ask a professional a question. The topic for this weeks Edchat was “How do you right a wrong”. A lot of the discussion was based on how do you apologize to your students when you make a mistake. I learned that you never should make excuses for what you did, but rather admit that you made a mistake and explain what you will do better. I introduced myself to the group and they were all very welcoming and excited to see future educators in the chat. I also asked a question about what to include in an apology to a sixth grade math, science and social studies teacher. He responded that you need to include specifics that contain what you are apologizing for and how you will work to regain their trust. This topic was honestly something that I had never considered in my teaching career. However, it is guaranteed that I will make mistakes and will need to know how to approach them with students. This chat is a great way to learn about unique education topics and get to personally connect with others who have experience in the field. I will probably be joining this chat again.




Expanding My Personal Learning Network #3

Resource 4: TED Talks
TED talks are an incredibly valuable education tool. There are thousands of experts who give well written speeches about current and relevant information in education. I watched this lecture titled "Every kid needs a champion" by Rita Pierson. Pierson talked about the importance of making connections with our students and making them feel like humans. It is necessary to make every student feel like they are capable of success and they are valuable. These lectures are extending my personal learning network because it gives me an opportunity to learn about how to be a better teacher, outside of the classroom. The ideas in TEDTalks are very innovative and I believe watching these will make me a much better teacher.

Resource 5: Podcasts
Podcasts are short radio shows that cover all kinds of topics. Here is the link to download the Podcast app on your phone: Podcast App. There are many great education podcasts that have real educators and professionals in the field discuss relevant issues in education. I listened to the podcast “Every Classroom Matters with Cool Cat Teacher”. This podcast is done by a teacher named Vicki Davis. In this episode she interviewed an expert who explained how to deal with kids who are unable to regulate their emotions, and how to teach children to be able to regulate their emotions. The expert suggested that every morning you take time to “ground” your students and have them quietly take time to realize where they are and what they are here for. I would love to incorporate this into my daily routine as a teacher. The neat thing about podcasts as well it that they are very up to date and have new episodes all the time, allowing you to stay on top of all topics regarding education.

Resource 6: Lynda Tutorial
Lynda Tutorial is a website that has all different kinds of tutorials for almost every kind of technology and using technology in the classroom. The tutorial that I completed was titled, “Creating Multimedia Learning”. This lecture was done by Renaldo Lawrence. It was a very informative tutorial about how to set up and implement multimedia learning in the classroom. One aspect that I thought was useful was how to work with other teachers when setting up projects. Projects don’t have to be one subject or even one grade, and teachers should be collaborative. I will use this resource in the future if I ever need assistance in a new technology device or a new topic in technology education.  


Illustrative Math is a resource that provides instructional tasks, assessment tasks and lesson plans for teachers in math. The format is similar to the Iowa Core website in that you pick the grade level and then the list of standards for that grade will come up. You can then select the standard and there will be tasks for that standard. The neat thing about this is that professionals can comment their experiences with the lesson such as how it went and what changes they would make to the activity. There are also videos for teachers to watch for them to gain a better understanding of math concepts themselves. Many teachers struggle with math and this website can help teachers learn and connect lessons to standards. It is a very useful website for any educator.

Expanding My Personal Learning Network #2

Here it is! My list of resources that have helped me expand my personal learning network. There will be a total of 10 resources over the next three posts. 


This resource was a lecture titled, “How You Can Become an Informed Voter: An Overview of Four Political Parties’ Positions on Key Issues in Education”. It was a webinar available through the Kappa Delta Pi Education Society that I am a member of. The organization sent out an email about being able to attend this lecture. I watched the lecture during the time it was live. A benefit of watching a live lecture is that I got the opportunity to ask a question and then it was chosen as a question that was answered during the Q&A portion of the lecture. I learned a lot about what the key issues about education that are being discussed in today's politics. This was a valuable tool to me as an educator because the candidate that I vote for for president, will likely still be the president when I get my first teaching job. The candidates views on education will likely impact my future classroom. It is important I make an informed vote about the candidate I believe will do the best for the education system. This was a valuable lecture to attend. KDP offers many more webinars, and you can go back and watch past webinars. This is definitely a useful resource in staying up to date about current information relevant to education.


Resource 2: Zoom
This resource is a video conference program, similar to Skype. The advantage of zoom is the ability to add a whole group to one conference call. In class we used this program to video conference with Dr. Z. This was very beneficial because he was able to provide assistance for our WebQuest, but we could still meet at locations that were convenient for all of us. It is an easy way to connect and collaborate with others without having to physically be in the same location. I could use this program for several different things as a future educator. One way would be it could be used to conference with parents who may work odd hours, or have difficulty physically getting to the school. It can be a great way to still maintain connection between the teachers and the parents. Another way is that you could Zoom with other teachers to work on creating a collaborative unit for all of our students to participate in.
Resource 3: Pinterest
I have been using Pinterest for a long time, but I have recently learned about the large education community on Pinterest. Pinterest is full of creative ideas and solutions to incorporate in the classrooms. Teachers post their ideas, and you can re-pin ideas that capture your attention. I followed boards that are dedicated solely to education ideas. A few pins really stood out to me when I was following these boards. One pin featured 17 ideas of simple things to do to help children with ADHD focus. These ideas are simple and it shows that other teachers have probably tried these ideas and have them to work. It is a neat way to help out other teachers. I also searched for the tag, “kindergarten” because that is the grade level that I am interested in teaching. There are a lot of handouts and activities to do in the classroom for this age. One idea that really stuck out to me was an activity called, “My Kindergarten Goals". It looks like a bingo sheet where it has all the different goals the kindergartens have for the year based on the common core. The image is shown below. This activity would make students understand their goals for the year.





Expanding my Personal Learning Network #1

This semester I have worked hard at expanding my personal learning network. This is a network of resources that will help me become the best teacher I can be. Previous to this class, I had a very limited personal learning network. This network can be seen in the diagram below. 




After getting the opportunity to explore, discover, and connect, with different resources this semester my Personal Learning Network has expanded tremendously. Below is a diagram of what I would consider my current personal network. Feel free to zoom in and explore what tools helped to expand my network!


The next three blog posts will contain the specific resources I have found to help expand my personal learning network! I hope you will learn as much from them as I did.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hey! My name is Grace Mills and I am a sophomore at The University of Northern Iowa. I am majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in math and literacy. My goal for this blog is to further explore relevant ideas in education and create a platform in which I can express my own thoughts, opinions and attitudes towards these ideas.