Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blog Post #2

What Will Teaching in the 21st Century be Like?

Professor Dancealot

The video Professor Dancealot by Kari Johnson
demonstrates one very important concept
to teaching in the 21st century, or
text picture: engage with gears turningreally teaching in anytime. Students must be engaged! Simple instruction does not and cannot get the message across. Johnson shows this through the professor demonstrating the dance steps behind a podium where no one could see him and through the lack of engagement of the students. The professor's use of a Powerpoint Presentation to display information was intriguing, but the technology was wasted on the professor's lack of interaction with his students. He merely stood behind his podium, dancing to an audience that could not see a single step he was taking. The students were not allowed to move, dance, or discuss any of what was being taught; therefore, the students could not learn the material. When it came time for the final exam, the students had not danced one single step with instruction. They had to dance with their partners and their books. This is absurd! Without the interaction and engagement of actually performing the steps in class, the students were all profoundly unable to retain or apply the information they had been given. I absolutely agree with this conclusion. Students must engage in what they are learning. If they are not properly challenged and given a chance to participate, most students will stop trying to learn. Having gone to a very small highschool and having known everyone in the school, I have seen this so many times. In my experience, I have found this fact to be true every time.

Teaching in the 21st Century

In the video Teaching in the 21st Century, Kevin Roberts makes a very compelling arguments of what it means to teach in the 21st century. Since kids can learn facts from a variety of sources on the internet, Roberts states that teachers are obsolete if they merely teach facts in a classroom; therefore, teachers must become facilitators of learning skills from these sources. Roger argues this through a number of examples, including these below.

  • Students can learn from blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and many other sources. 
  • Because these sources can be very unreliable, teachers should show their students how to use these sources to validate, synthesize, leverage, communicate,  and collaborate information. 
  • Curriculums should no longer be focused on fact, but they should focus on teaching the students skills to carry with them through life to help solve everyday problems. 
  • Students should be taught to create and collaborate without pencil and paper but by harnessing the technology they have in front of them. 
  • Teachers should facilitate responsibility, reliability, and integrity in the students. Rogers points out that we all expect students to learn wrong behavior from their peers. Teachers must then deter this, teaching the students professionalism.
  • Rogers believes we should rethink how to teach by reconsidering the types of tools we use and the types of problems we ask students to solve. 
  • Students should be able to use technology to their benefit, problem solving and collaborating with other students and gaining skills by sharing their ideas with others. 
  • Most importantly, teaching means engaging the students. Technology cannot create distractions if the students are fully engaged. 
  • Entertainment and engagement are not the same actions. Technology is no longer new, it is established with today's generations; therefore, using technology should not be about shiny new toys any longer. Technology is about engagement.
Collage of WordsSo what does it really mean to teach in the 21st century? I fully stand by Roberts opinions when it comes to how teaching is changing and what it will mean for us to teach in this century. As a future educator, I find that everything that Roberts has said to be highly interesting. Having been educated only in the 21st century, I have begun to see these changes. Robert's says, "Change cannot occur without conflict," and he is absolutely right. Still in my classes today, many of my teachers are opposing rather than embracing technology. They taught without technology before, so they still want to teach without technology. I myself have seen the opposition, but I have also seen the progress technology is making in schools. By the time I become an educator, I believe even more of this opposition will have subsided. We as educators in the 21st century will be expected, if not required, to teach through technology, so we must embrace it before we get behind even further! Teaching in the 21st century starts with us, the teachers who are just now learning to teach! 

The Networked Student

What She Thinks:
In the video The Networked Student, the author Wendy Dexler discusses the argument that teachers are to empower students to take control of their own learning through connectivism. According to Wendy, in connectivism, "learning occurs as a part of a social network of many diverse connections and ties." This connected network is made possible by the tools of technology, but the tools are not nearly as important as the connections made possible by them. Making these connections with others will strengthen a student's own learning process. Students create their own personal learning networks consisting of blogs, scholarly articles, and other credible material in order to build a knowledge base that they can then share through a blog of their own. This brings about the question, why then would a student need a teacher at all? Teachers are there to show students how to build these networks and take advantage of their opportunities. Teachers provide guidance for their students by teaching proper communication and respect as well as information management. Teachers are there to guide children towards their futures.

Connected web of indivduals
What I Think:
For general purposes, I agree with the argument of this video. Students should be more responsible for their own learning instead of expecting it to be spoon fed to them. Connecting with others almost always reinforces what is being learned. In my drama class, we are allowed to do quizzes with our groups. My teacher admits that in today's society, we enjoy being able to confer with others about answers. Even if we know we are absolutely right, it always helps to hear another's opinion to boost our confidence. This connected network is a variation of this. Finding other students who are learning the same things we are or struggling with the same things we are is a confidence boost. Connecting with other gives us the sense that we are not alone in the learning process. Why then do we need teachers if we are going to do everything on our own? Well, we should not be doing everything on our own. Personal learning networks are for the benefit of the students, not the detriment. Some students become overwhelmed when working on projects by themselves, I myself being one. Others excel at personal projects. Personal learning networks should not be the learning goal, but the learning facilitator. The teacher should support and help her students, especially those who do not understand internet etiquette or those who need his or her guidance. Teachers should be the facilitators and guiders of learning, technology should provide the connected networks that reinforce learning.

Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts

Man's rearview bust with lightbulb inside his headIn the video Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts by Vicki Davis, Mrs. Davis makes the considerable argument that students should be empowered to learn new things by sharing with each other and other students all over the world. Mrs. Davis uses technology to connect her students to other students across the globe. She believes that every student can learner, but certain types of children learn in certain ways. As she is in her classroom, she attempts to be a "teacherpreneur." To her, this means that in order to be an effective teacher, she customizes what happens in her classroom according to the group of students that is in her room and how they learn. When she teaches, she expects her students to able to use technology to research anything they are unclear on, such as the meaning of new words she uses. Mrs. Davis wants students to be thinkers, and in turn, she and the class experiences technology and its trends together.

I believe that Mrs. Davis is brilliant in her use of "teacherpreneuring." Each class of students is vastly different from the next, and each class needs its own way of doing things. She learns as her students learn. We have already experienced this idea as we entered into this class. Teachers are to teach and to learn. Students are to learn and to teach. If not in teaching the teacher, students should help to teach one another. I believe that empowering students to use technology to their learning advantages must have a positive effect on the classroom. Students must be thinkers! Never again should a student think or say, "teach me so I don't have to learn," as one of Dr. Strange's students said. Teachers should empower students to think for themselves and share their knowledge globally.

Who's Ahead in the Learning Race?

Ready Set GoTake a look around at school sometime, and then take a look around a restaurant, the grocery store, or any other place with any amount of toddlers and young children in it. Who are on digital devices more these days, adults? No, it's the adults children! Who is really ahead in the learning race? According to the video Who's Ahead in the Learning Race? by Dr. John H. Strange, it is truly obvious that we are being quickly left behind by today's younger generation. On Dr. Strange's visit to Gulf Shores Elementary School, he noticed several similarities in the activities that the elementary school children were performing and the activities that he was teaching his undergraduate and graduate students. All of the kids had either a Macbook or iPad to use and were working them with skill and ease, something some of us have trouble with. The students were using programs some as Google Docs and iMovie. They were making forums, posting on blogs, and even using rubrics! These were just elementary students! Clearly they are ahead of all of the rest of us, but it's not a bad thing. If we are going to teach in the 21st century, then I am glad students are beginning to learn how to learn in the 21st century! I may be a bit behind in the learning race, since I have yet to learn some of those programs that the elementary students were using, but I hope to catch up very soon.

Flipping the Classroom

Inforgraphic of the flipped classroomFlipping the Classroom by Ms. Munafo explains the new concept of "flipping" certain classes in schools. This was a completely new idea to me, but nonetheless fascinating. According to this video, flipping is an "innovative approach to classroom instruction." It involves students watching a video the night before the class of the lesson that is to be discusses in the class the next day. This then allows the student to come prepared to discuss the lesson instead of the teacher using class time to go over the lesson and then talk about it.

I do not exactly know if this method would be useful and effective for myself or not. This method does seem to engage the student in the classroom, but watching a video at home for homework does not seem very engaging. Most students have a hard time doing their homework as it is, but changing the homework from reading to watching a video could definitely be more appealing to students. I believe this type of teaching would definitely need some experimentation before fully flipping the class, but it does have potential. I believe it could primarily be useful in the areas of Math and Science. As a English teacher myself, I do not know if it will ever be useful. Hopefully my children will do their readings the night before and come into class prepared to discuss, but if not, I will hopefully have this in the back of my mind as a potential solution to any future problems.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blog Post #1

What About EDM310?

What's the Buzz?

"What in the world does EDM mean, Electronic Dance Music?" These were the words that rang in my ears as I signed up to take EDM310 this past spring. No, of course it doesn't mean Electronic Dance Music!

buzzing bee
What does it mean, though? Apparently it means Microcomputing Systems, but all I knew it as was "the blogging class", the class that never sleeps. My roommate had this class last fall, and I had seen how much work she had put into it. Needless to say, I was nervous coming into this class.

To Be Afraid or To Run Screaming?

Due to my prior knowledge of how much time and work this class takes, I was initially afraid that I would not be able to set apart enough time to complete all of my assignments. Along with this class, I have five other classes. I only thought that was bad until I realized some others in the class have six more classes! I've turned my fear into motivation. I honestly wanted to run screaming at first, but I knew I needed to face this challenge head on and head in. My head needs to be fully in each task, and I know I must be dedicated to this class. I am embracing one of the classes mottos, "I don't know. Let's find out!" The "let's" part of that last phrase is what is so important to me and kept me from running. We are not left to do all of this alone. We have an entire lab to back us up! When, not if, I get through this semester, I feel as if I will be prepared to make it through any set of classes.

animated clock telling a notepad there's no time to be creative
I was also afraid of honest self reflection and expressing myself via technology. I may be on the path to becoming an English teacher, but I am no creative writer. Even though I do consider myself to know my way around a computer pretty well, that does not mean that I am very good at using one to express myself. I did not understand how any of this would help me in my future classrooms. After having read the project instructions and blog assignments, I am beginning to see how we all must embrace technology. If we do not, our future classrooms will not be effective.

A Whole New World and A Whole New Workload!

College and highschool have been two completely different worlds, if not two completely separate galaxies. Has anything in any class been the same, at all? There is absolutely no similarities between the two, but there is an overabundance of contrasts. As I mentioned earlier, we must all learn to embrace technology. We cannot teach as our teachers taught us!  

unlabeled world map
I graduated two short years ago, using absolutely no technology in most all of my classrooms. I was largely taught by "burp back" education. When I started college last semester, I began to see the shift that occurs in the methods of teaching at the college level. Yes, some of my basic classes continued to be burp back classes, but other classes had us taking a part in our own education. We were encouraged and sometimes required to use technology to take part in active self learning. Teachers began to embrace technology, unlike almost any one of the teachers I had in high school. Now as this semester has come around, I again find myself with two distinct types of teachers, those who embrace technology in the classroom and those who do not. 

balancing scales
Now that the first week of school has passed, I am having to constantly tell myself to keep calm. This semester I seem to have a workload that is never going to end, unlike my past two semesters. My first two semesters were challenging, but I could handle the workload with ease and still have time left over to go back home quite often and have fun; however, this past week has literally been nothing but schoolwork. Balancing EDM310 with all of my other classes will definitely be the hardest part of this class, but I definitely see that I must find a balance.

Time Is Running Away, Better Go Catch It

I am waving GOODBYE to procrastination. Wait, I'm waving goodbye to what? I don't even know what that word means anymore. My brain is no longer associated with that word. Well, at least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself. There is no way I can find balance if I put my work off. I've tried this, and I promise it does not work. Well, at least for me it surely doesn't.

intimidating clock ticking at a woman at a computer In order to combat the work of this class and of my others, I am doing my best to get ahead of the game. Who needs a life outside of school, right? No, I know this is not true either. I have set a goal for myself, and I am determined to accomplish that goal. I am going to bury my face into all of my books for these next few weeks, get ahead, and not have to have any cram sessions for the whole semester. The clock is going to be my friend, and if it doesn't want to be, well too bad. I am going to make it my friend.

Questions, Comments, Concerns, Queries 

Currently, I can't think of any more questions about this class, and I'm trying to let go of my fears and concerns. Hopefully I will have plenty of comments as the weeks progress. Honestly, I am just happy to know that if anything does come up or if I ever need help, this class provides a great set of people that will be able to help me if I can't figure it out by myself or with the help of Google!

keep calm and blog on

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Practice Blog Post: Who am I? Why do I want to be an educator? What does an educator do in his or her practice? What are my passions?

I. Description of Self- Name, Hometown, Family
II. Description of School- Highschool, College, Major, Honors Program
III. Description of Deciding to Be a Teacher- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
IV. Description of What a Teacher Should Be- Characteristics
V. Description of My Passions- English and Photography(insert personal pictures)

My name is Heather Howton. I was born and raised in the small town of Peterman, Alabama. Although it is a simply a bump in the road, it has now been home to me for the nineteen years of my life. Peterman has been my family's home for over seventy years. My immediate family consists of four people: my mother, my father, my sister, and myself. My sister and I both graduated from Monroe Academy, and now we both attend school here at South Alabama. I am one of many sophomores in the Honors Program this year, yet I am one of only a few education majors.

Throughout the first eighteen years of my life, I never imagined myself becoming a teacher. I have always enjoyed explaining subjects and tutoring, but I could not see myself as a teacher. My family thinks I should become a doctor or an engineer, but last year I realized the most influential people that I have met in my life have been teachers. All of these influences were not positive, though. I have had amazing teachers, and I have had terrible teachers; however, both the good and the bad shaped my passion to become a teacher. An educator in this century should be a person who can problem solve, inspire, learn, teach, coach, and shape the next generations. I was torn between teaching English or teaching Biology, but ultimately I chose English! My passions have become English and Photography, so I am also debating on minoring in Art. I especially enjoy taking pictures of landscapes, flowers, and sunsets. I hope to immensely expand, improve, and deepen both of these passions through these next few years and take them with me into my future classrooms!