I survived my first quarter of my teaching credential in EDUC 407! I learned from my failures the first 2 weeks, but was able to bounce back the last 8 weeks. I have to admit, I was very overwhelmed with the amount of work I saw on the syllabus the first week. I didn’t know how it would be possible to handle the workload on top of working a full-time job. However, here I am still alive and breathing. I have learned a whole lot during EDUC 407, and have also taken notes on what worked for me and what to avoid in the future.
It’s obvious that technology is a high-leveled skill to majority of students in today’s world. It is a way of life. When I talk about something as simple as the white pages or a dictionary, students roll their eyes like I am speaking a foreign language. Students rely on Google and so many online sources for their information nowadays that they would never even think to pick up a dictionary. The most important thing I learned from this class was that as an educator, I need to do more visual lessons and incorporate more technology into the classroom. The students do need current skills, and that will require some of the technology I just learned about like screencasts, Google Drive, Wikis, WordPress and etc. Just about anyone can record a video and upload it to Youtube. However, I learned how much harder it was than I thought. So many small details went into making a screencast. I had to construct a slideshow and then add audio and upload to YouTube. The entire process was more challenging than I had imagined. I am so thankful to have mastered these skills before getting deeper into the credential program.
In conclusion, I can apply all my knowledge about technology to future lessons that will promote more collaboration in my classroom. I read in an article, “We keep thinking of ways to help the current generation of school children learn technology we know how to use, but we are forgetting the fact that this generation will develop its own way of doing things, with technology current to their time.” It is my job to take the technology skills that the students may already know, and apply them in the classroom to stimulate more collaboration and productivity.
There are many copyright laws that I am already aware of. For example, I know that you should avoid downloading graphics, logos, fonts, photographs, and illustrations from outside sources. I also know that taking information from another site, and trying to make it look like the information is your own is not allowed. Teachers have to keep in mind that even information posted on other websites may not have been posted by the copyright owner or with their permission. We have to be careful pulling information from any source, especially when it comes to the world wide Web. I also already know that if I find an article online and I think it is copyrighted, it still doesn’t mean it is there legally. Teachers must always remember to get permission to use a copyrighted work from the original creator.
There are two particular copyright laws that came as a shock to me. For one, I did not realize that video rental sources cannot authorize you to give public performances. I thought that was really weird considering I remember watching many movies during high school and they were all well-known rentals. The second copyright law that I was not aware of was that I cannot copy cartoon or TV characters for decorations, bulletin boards, or handouts. That floored me! I remember when I was observing in a kindergarten classroom, and the teacher had an enormous Spongebob Squarepants bulletin board with all sorts of decorations surrounding it. I’m not sure if she was aware of this law (or if she frankly did not care). I feel like it would be normal to see popular characters that children admire on handouts, just to make it look more appealing to the students. However, I have to keep in mind now that it goes against the copyright laws.
I definitely see copyright laws affecting education in the future, especially with the increasing use of technology. Technology is constantly upgrading and evolving to an extent that I can barely keep up with the latest trends. I found it fascinating that Thomas Jefferson said in 1816, “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.” It is so true! With all the technology out there, students have endless options to materials which can lead to copyright problems. According to http://www.auburn.edu/citizenship/copyright_for_teachers.html, it is a good idea for educators to install personal commercial software programs on classroom computers to use with the students. It is also important to remember that when I buy or download software, I do not actually own the software. I only have a license to use it and access it under the conditions it comes with. It is a good idea to download and read the licensing agreement for every piece of software I install or use so I am familiar with the rights. The best rule I can remind my students to think about is… when in doubt, ask permission!
I have a love/hate relationship with social media! For one, I support social media because I enjoy keeping in touch with old friends and friends that live far away through Facebook. I love Instagram and seeing daily photos. LinkedIn is a huge plus on the business side and opens up many great opportunities. Social media is probably the easiest and fastest way to get in contact with anyone nowadays. Communication is easy and news spreads quickly. However, on the downside, I do not like social media for the simple fact that there is no privacy. It can also ruin lives in the click of a button. Bullies can spread destructive photos or lies about other people in seconds. Colleagues and employers have access to personal information that may harm your reputation. People always need to keep in mind that once this information goes online, it never goes away!
When it comes to education, I view social media more as a negative than a positive. My biggest problem with social media in the classroom is that it is a HUGE distraction. Every teenager wants to know the latest gossip and see the latest picture posted. With their iPhones at an easy reach, it’s very difficult to keep students focused up on the board and not down at their phones. Usually it is Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that divert the students’ attention away and hinder the learning process. Another impact social media has on education and our culture is the daily harassment going on behind the computer screen. Most cyber bullies go unnoticed and it can be hard to control. I feel that teachers who decide to use social media in their courses should be aware of the dangers of social media. We must practice and preach respectful behavior in social media for it to be acceptable in the classroom. As I said before, social media clearly has its pros and cons. However, with careful monitoring and appropriate usage, social media can be a positive way to spread communication and create collaboration in the classroom.
There are many benefits for creating an ePortfolio for myself. For one, I have the ability to save my work and continue the editing process along the way. I can always go back, take a second look and improve any corrections. My Eportfolio will present a showcase of my specific skills, talents, and special pieces of work. We live in a digital world now where pictures and videos relay more information than a standard written paper. Eportfolios stand out from the norm and each individual portfolio is unique. One of the best things about an Eportfolio is that it is kept online. I can add and accumulate achievements and documents over the years to showcase. The best benefit of an Eportfolio is that it gives me the ability and responsibility to manage my own materials that I can reflect back on for years to come.
It is common for teachers of this day and age to use Eportfolios in all subject areas. Eportfolios are useful when applying the student’s role in organizing materials and checking for understanding. For example, when I teach English, Eportfolios are going to be a great tool for illustrating the types of assignments and goals that the student create in writing. Also, Eportfolios can be used to support collaboration by giving the students an opportunity to share and give feedback on each other’s work. Also, students can include word documents, spreadsheets or slide shows in their Eportfolio. Eportfolios clearly stand apart from the times where hand written first and second drafts were considered final products.Now the digital options are endless, where apps are helpful for both the students and the teachers.
My experiences with screencasting thus far have been very minimal, but impacting. While I was observing in an elementary math class, I noticed the teacher would call students to the smart board to write out the steps to solving the problem. Then the students would explain how they got the solution. When students went up to the board, Jing would record what they were writing on the board and would also record their explanations to the class. I realized that Jing is a great tool for the students to watch themselves and then correct their mistakes. Teachers could also use this screencast in parent conferences. It is a helpful tool for the parents to physically see how their child is doing in class. Screencasts can also show specific examples and activities the parents could be practicing at home if their child needs further help.
There are many educational uses for screencasting in today’s classroom. For one, screencasts provide the students with lessons that they can watch at their own convenience, in or outside of the classroom. They can review lessons and class material at anytime too. It is important to remember that screencasts can be watched over and over again so if the students are falling behind or having difficultly grasping a specific concept, they can re-watch the screencast again to better understand the material.
Screencasts are a great tool for absent students as well. If anyone needs to catch up on a missed lesson or review a past lesson, the screencast is ready and available. This leaves the responsibility for the students to watch the screencast and catch up on the material. The teachercan focus more time on the lessons being presented in class for that day, and less time playing catch-up with absent students. Screencasting can be an easy and simple way to integrate technology into any lesson. Screencasts are a huge timesaver too!
Teachers can create specific tutorials for lessons and exam review too. Screencasts help the teachers layout which part of the lessons require further emphasis. The teacher can differentiate lessons and organize them in a way the students can learn best from. Many students are visual learners so when teachers are showing the steps in solving a math problem, it can be much easier to solve the problem after viewing the screencast. Screencasts create a low stress situation for students who do not work well under pressure. They can work at their own pace and always go back for more help. The most important fact about screencasting is that they can be adjusted to fit students’ unique learning styles.
In the past, I have had little experience with wikis. When I think back to high school, I remember my teachers being strongly against wikis, especially when it came to gathering information for a report. However, in today’s day and age, I feel that wikis have come a long way and they can actually enhance student interactions with each other. In college, the only time I used a wiki was to contribute to group notes from the textbook. Since I was working with other students on this, it made me feel better that others were able to add to my information to better the wiki. Also I found that the wiki helped us elaborate more on the key notes from the textbook. It was much easier to discuss the notes once we met in class again because it was clearly organized in the wiki.
In today’s classroom, I say that the potential uses for wikis would include collaborative learning and communication between the students. This is a chance for other students to get to know each other better and help each other grow to expand on their ideas. Even by using the reading group wiki and the WordPress blogs thus far, I have noticed they both produce a common goal of participation. Both wikis and blogs have the potential to help develop better social skills in today’s classroom. Students will be more encouraged to expand off of others ideas and develop better communication skills. Wikis also have the potential to make the students become better writers and readers too. By rethinking the way students communicate and write, wikis can be very useful in today’s classroom.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of using wikis with students. Wikis are important when it comes to promoting collaboration, not just self-publishing. Wikis allow the students to think outside the box and to contribute to what their classmates have to say too. Another positive thing about wikis is that they make it possible for people without strong computer skills to easily visit a wiki and edit it on the spot. You can be anywhere in the world and still edit a wiki. On the contrary, there are disadvantages that come with wikis too. There is a concern for confidentiality and the quality of content. Where was this information taken from? Are these statements accurate and if so, can we confirm them? It can be very time consuming to keep up the quality of the wiki too. Spam and vandalism is a common concern as well. The biggest disadvantage for using wikis in the classroom would be distractions. Once the students have access to the entire internet, they could be distracted away from their wikis easily. As long as the internet settings are controlled, the distractions will be lessened and wikis can be a useful tool in the classroom.
Today in most traditional American classrooms, students are expected to face the front of the classroom and take notes while the teacher lectures. Unfortunately, this is not keeping the students engaged and most tend to be distracted easily during lectures. Traditional classrooms involve pre-made daily curriculums that leave no room for personal growth. Students are expected to take notes and sent home to rehearse their notes just long enough to remember enough information to get past the test. My experience with PBL was successful while observing students at a high school level. They were able to solve problems, stay on task, and work nicely together as a team. However, elementary school students were more easily distracted with PBL, so it was less successful in my opinion.
On the other hand, the introduction of PBL into the classroom gives the students the chance to guide themselves and learn from each other. It is important for teachers to be flexible so they can help the students engage in their own learning processes. Some teachers like to remain in control at all times which doesn’t leave any room for PBL. Teachers must keep in mind that there is a time to teach, but there is also a time to set back and observe too. It is perfectly fine to let the students make mistakes from time to time. This is all a learning process and learning from our own mistakes is the best way to learn sometimes.
Some disadvantages of PBL would be the daily distractions in the classroom. Students can get easily distracted by off topic chats with their friends if the teacher is not aware of what is going on. Also some students enjoy working together in a group while others do not. Every student have a unique learning style and PBL may not be entirely for them. Some students are more productive working alone because they can focus better on the task at hand without any distractions. PBL is meant to encourage students to become active learners, rather than passive learners. Overall, PBL requires group planning, teacher flexibility and a classroom environment that encourages collaboration.