Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Wiki (or Weekly) Mess Up...

So...I went online to work on the wiki-space to find that all the work that then English students did was somehow over-written by the Spanish student works. Now that was weird...

So that is my frustration of the week when it comes to the wikipspace...not to mention the idea of every one having access to it...I just don't see how it is beneficial for a collaborative group of young adults to do one web-page works. I just feel that we could have learned how to change the web page but really wrote our analysis of other websites on our blog. I am just tired of my work being erased...oh well.

However, I did like navigating through those websites that were given to us. I can tell a lot better what is a more developed and scholarly website than a fun/mediocre one. That is all for now...

Research

After looking at all of these websites, I think that they are all great resources and tools for teachers to use. It is good for us to have these websites as part of our "toolbox" for when we become teachers. My only problem is that I don't know how to go about finding websites like these. When someone else tells me a website to go to, I can find it with no trouble and recognize how great of a site it is. However, when I have to go out on my own and find a useful and reliable website, I find myself having a lot of difficulties. I am wondering shares in my deficiency to conduct internet research or if anyone who finds such a task fairly easy would be willing and able to share some of their wisdom.

Websites

It is amazing to me how many websites there are for teachers, specifically math teachers. All of the sites from Professor Nillas's list that I visited seemed relevant and helpful and I know there are hundreds more out there. I came across several creative lesson ideas that incorporate technology into the classroom while efficiently presenting the material. There are so many things that I would have never thought of myself. That is why it is really great to have a means of sharing ideas across the world. I am also glad that teachers are willing to share their lessons, templates and activities, because I think it is a huge benefit for the students. The web is such a great resource for teachers and especially after looking at so many useful websites, I really look forward to using them mixed with my own ideas to optimize my future classroom.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

advertisment in tv shows

So I was watching Mythbusters on tv earlier today and noticed something interesting. As I was watching, I realized that the computers used on the show were Dell computers. At first I looked at them and just happened to recognize the laptop because it is the same on I own, which happens to be a Dell. After that I was looking a little more closely. They later showed a monitor that is also a Dell and finally they showed another shot of the Dell monitor but this time they actually showed the label on camera and it clearly read Dell. I just wonder if people really choice their product by the advertising on tv. I mean, if people were to continuously see a specific type of product on tv, would more people be inclined to purchase that product? I guess it is a new way of advertising instead of doing commercials.
is anyone else having problems writing on the wikispace...when i went to add to the page, it told me that whatever i wrote would overwrite what was already written...help?
I can't make up my mind about Wikispaces. Part of me really likes the accessibility of it and I feel that it is incredibly easy to navigate. The links are easy to create and manage and the format of the site overall is simple enough so any student, teacher, or family member can maneuver throughout the site with ease. However, it seems incredibly impersonal. The whole idea of communicating from teacher to student, student to student, or teacher to parent through electronic medium is a little hard for me to fully grasp or enjoy simply becuase it takes all of the conversation and personal exchange that is unattainable without face to face interaction. I have found that people are able to connect on a deeper level, establishing a base of trust between students, teachers, and parents. This relationship is very important to establish and maintain and I become more and more concerned with being able to create those links and relationships as, and again I see the benefits, we as teachers move toward electronic communication.

Friday, September 28, 2007

WikiSpaces

Coming into this class, the only time I had ever used a wikispace was to go to it and blog for one of my previous education classes. I had never used it as a home page for a class or done nearly as much work on it as we have so far this semester. I was also excited about getting to create my own and have things on it that relate to my subject area of interest, which some times doesnt happen in all education classes because I am almost always the only student who is not becoming a teacher and I often have to make the adjustments instead of having things changed to better suit me. Going to all of the website and playing games has been really fun and a nice change of pace from the work I have been doing in a lot of my other classes. However, I do feel very overwhelmed at times since I am the only person who is reviewing all of the sites of interest for my field, where every other group has at least two people. I am glad that I am able to do it on my own though because I havent had the problem of competing with other people to put my information onto the site. I think this project will allow me to see many sites that will help me in the future and they will be ones that I may even have kids go to and do some games on to help calm them down if they are getting very anxious about the operation and are in need of something fun. I am looking forward to this project and am hoping that there will be a lot that I learn from doing this since I am spending a good amount of time doing it and putting a lot of effort into looking at the sites and seeing what all they offer for kids to be doing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wiki page

I was excited to start working with wikispaces and working with creating a website. I think it's a very useful skill to create a navigable website for your class. It is a good means of letting students who are absent know what they missed, by positing assignments for them. It can also be a great resource for the students, if you provide them with examples of good resources and websites that will help with research. I have noticed that it is becoming very common for teachers to provide their students with a class website. It is also more sustainable, considering most students can access the website therefore you don't have to print out handouts for them if you provide them electronically.

However I was a little frustrated while using the class website today. I know it's because everyone was trying to load things at the same time, but it seemed really inconvenient to create a project that is collaborative and independent. I was frustrated when I would save something and override something that someone in my group had just published. It seemed very counter productive to me. And as far as the project being collaborative, I feel like we divvied up the tasks and then split, that is not working collaboratively to me, it is quite the opposite. I think it is useful to create a page with reviewed websites that are relevant to my content area, but I feel like there are some better websites out there than the ones that I reviewed. I look forward to seeing the final product of this project because hopefully it will create a list of helpful and unhelpful websites.

Powerpoint

I also enjoyed doing this project. I spent hours working on it, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I was finally done. I learned to use a lot of new tools and this is definitely the best project I have done. I also liked this project because I can use it when I am a teacher. It is very applicable to a lesson I will teach. I think it will be a really good resource for my students. It is a good reference. I hope I can remember how to use all those tools the next time I have to make a presentation. I look forward to our next project.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

PowerPoint Project

I am really enjoying this project. I like the freedom that we have on choosing our own topic and how we want to present it. So far I am happy with my project and I hope that it is something that can actually be used in a classroom to help students with percentages. PowerPoint is a fun software in which I really like playing around. There are so many tools and features to work with, I always feel like I am coming across new ones. I love fact that you can add motion and sound to make presentations more interesting and keep the students attention. I can definitely see myself using PowerPoint in my future classroom.

Powerpoint Project

I really like this project because it is a fun, interactive, assignment that can be used later in our teaching. It will be a lot of work and sometimes I feel that an overuse of PowerPoint is common and should be avoided. But in this case, we are making PowerPoint the product of our knowledge and using them as a way to relay our knowledge to the students. This helps students because it is a break from the monotonous, mundane, scheduled lives that they live throughout their years in elementary and high school. Power points help, also, because they allow students to interact with the lesson on various levels. For example, access to the Internet is only a click away if a person hyperlinks Internet resources. Also, music, pictures, and other elements are available to be incorporated more efficiently into the lesson.

The Big Project

First of all...I like PowerPoint much better than Excel. I have more fun with composing a project that has to do with my content area. However, I feel that this is a HUGE project without that many guidelines and barely anytime. I just feel that the concept of doing an entire 50 minute presentation in such a short time is a hard task to complete. I also don't know if it is because every project I wish to do I have to research a lot of material so as dates are right, publications are correct, information about the books/plays/literary works are exact, etcetera. I just feel a little overwhelmed because it is such a big project and we are required to make it better than our best presentation. Which I do not know about anyone else, but my best project took me about two weeks to complete.

However, I do enjoy the online tutorials offered to give and refresh new ideas when it comes to PowerPoint, I just wish that we had more time in class to go over newer ways to enhance our projects. I have a difficult time straying away from linear/symmetric projects because I am kinda OCD about that. However, I am enjoying the concept of preparing a unique presentation.

Multimedia project

I am excited about our multimedia project because I think that I will definately be able to reuse it in my future classroom. I have never had to incorporate videos or animation in my presentations before so I am excited to learn and master a new skill. I am also excited to see what everyone else has been working on and to learn from everyone's ideas.

POWER POINT!

After being incredibly frustrated last week with Excel, I finally feel releaved to be working with powerpoint. I have made several detailed powerpoints in the past, and can honestly say that I feel more comfortable with PP than Excel. I love messing around with different features and discovering new tools. Powerpoint is more easy to navigate and more fun to use! This is a program that ANY teacher can use in the classroom. As an English teacher, I feel that I can make interesting and interactive presentations to my class instead of just a lecture. The use of audio and video will especially grab the attention and interest of students. I am excited to play around with this presentation and learn more about Powerpoint.

PowerPoint

I'm having a little bit of trouble gettting PowerPoint to do what I want it to do. I want my pictures and objects to be in very specific places, and the cursor only allows them to go in a very limited amount of places. In order for my visual effects to work correctly, I need my pictures and objects to be in the specific places. For now, I am just putting them as close as I can get them, but I feel like it is making my project less effective. Also, I feel like I am wasting a lot of time trying to get the pictures and objects in their correct positions rather than actually adding content to my slideshow.

My thoughts on the week

Last week I felt very overwhelemed. I felt like I was doing a project that didn't seem to have purpose for me and that was confusing for me. However, after completing the Excel project I did find that it could be very useful. I like the fact that there is a timeline template and I feel that it can be very useful in organizing a nice timeline. I feel like people voicing thier concerns about the work load helped a lot. I like that this project has a rubric for the grade so I can better organize my thoughts and I know what I need to include in my project. The projects seem very openended and I think that's what I find very overwhelming. I'm a person who likes direction and having all the expectations laid out on the table for me. However, I think that having an open ended project will make me think a little bit harder about what is appropriate and what works for a class. I do realize though that in a classroom setting I will have a more defined goal of the semester so I will have a purpose in making a document or project or assingment. As I continue in this class I think that I will learn useful skills that can one day be translated to the classroom, and I hope that I benefit from this experience, even if it is frustrating for me at times.

Powerpoint...

I feel that there is a lot about powerpoint that I have already learned, and at the same time I feel there are still things that I havent learned but could be helpful if I knew about. I feel as though the only things we have gone over so far are tools and things that I have done in the past and feel good about me doing on my own. When I was told that this project was supposed to be better than any other one I have put together, I was thinking that meant we were going to be shown some new ideas and tools that would help to make our projects really stand out and improved from other things in the past. I feel that watching the teacher tube videos have helped me to a point, but I think there is more that I could learn about that I would be able to use in my projects as well as in presentations I may be giving in the years to come. I would be interested in going deeper into the program of powerpoint and learning more about it, but I feel as though I cant do it on my own and need some more instruction to learn what others may know and I do not. I am hoping that through this project and other work for the class I will be able to find things that I can use to make my presentations better and more creative than just the regular slides with words and once in a while a clip art picture here and there.

Wanting more instruction

When I thought about this class I thought that we would be learning and practicing lots of new tools and software during class time. I looked forward to practicing with the guidance of the professor. While we talk about some new tools, I do not really feel like I am learning a lot of new things. For example, the professor wants our PowerPoint presentation to be better than anything we have ever done. However, we have not practiced anything new to be able to enhance our presentation. I could probably figure out some things by myself, but I want to learn the intricacies of the programs and be efficient as possible. I think this class is extremely applicable to our future careers and I hope that we will take the time in class to practice more and to learn new tools. We write about tools we do not know, but we do not actually practice using them in class. For me, it is important to actually practice the steps it takes to get to a certain result. If I need to use a certain tool in the future, but I have not used it in a while, I would hope that I have enough background to remember the steps to get there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

powerpoint

So after thinking about this powerpoint project a lot, I have gotten rather stuck. I know we will be doing stuff in class tomorrow, however, I feel a little uneasy about doing a powerpoint presentation for a math class. I am unsure of the specific content area I want to cover and how to actually tie into a class so that it isn't just straight notes on the powerpoint. At this point, I feel that if I was to just do a presentation for notes, I would rather do it on a whiteboard or chalkboard. I like to add things in as a I teach, as well as having the flexibility to change or add as the class goes on, especially when students want more examples.

I can see the benefits of doing some things with powerpoint, especially when lecturing to a large number of people, but for a small classroom, one that is trying to be more interactive, I have my doubts. I know that powerpoint can be a great asset to an English classroom or maybe even a Spanish classroom, but I have trouble seeing it for a math classroom. I could just not be seeing the creativity, which is quite possible, but I hope to be able to change my mind about powerpoint as we continue with these projects.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

AH! EXCEL!

From reading everyone else's blog, it makes me feel better to know that most are as equally stressed as I am. I have to say that my range of Excel knowledge was minimal to begin with, and fiddling with a couple of tools this past week has helped very little. I am also having a hard time finding practical uses for Excel in an English classroom. I do think that Excel has great gradebook functions, as well as attendance and homework possibilities, but with my lesson plans, I feel that I would use Word moreso than Excel. I was unbelievably frustrated when creating graphs this week, and I guess I am somewhat more familiar in creating them. Listening to teachertube and the tutorials was helpful at points, but in general, I'm staying away from Excel if I can help it.

I was also more familiar with the Psychology programs for gathering and organizing data, so Excel was apparently too much for me to handle this week. =/

Monday, September 17, 2007

Powerpoint Handouts

I just read an article on powerpoint handouts and I found it very interesting. The author discussed making copies of a powerpoint slide and handing them out in class to help his students follow along in the lesson. I think this is a very useful and beneficial strategy becuase it allows students to keep up with the lesson and a base for note taking. It is fair assumption to think that some students have trouble focusing on various lessons and keeping/taking good notes. By providing a good note base and providing yet another means for viewing/taking part in the lesson, a teacher can help even more students grasp material that is difficult or not easily understood.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Excel Spreadsheets

I am very glad that we are spending time to learn about the different functions in Excel. I feel like through out school I have become fairly comfortable with Word and PowerPoint, but not Excel. Given that Spreadsheets can be very useful in math I appreciate the opportunity to practice using the tools that will be relevant to my future classroom.
My project for Tuesday deals with interactive graphs. I can definitely see that function being helpful to further my students understanding of the effects slope and intercept have on the visual representation. Graphs are extremely important and if students do not understand how they are formed then they will not get the full concept. I know there are plenty more tools like interactive graphs that Excel has to offer. I hope we go over some more in class on Tuesday.

A little frustrated

I have just finished up my project for Tuesday, however I am a little frustrated. I took the time to watch the Teacher Tube tutorials and tried to apply the IF function to my project and can not for the life of me get it to work. I do not think that Excel is recognizing the Spanish words that I have entered into the function or maybe I am just completing the task incorrectly. I have tried many different approaches to making this tool work and can not seem to figure it out. Becoming frustrated and impatient with technology has always been a downfall of mine, which is one of the reasons I chose to take this class. I am hoping that over the course of the semester that with my increased knowledge of the computer I will be able to eliminate my frustrations.

grade books

In class on Tuesday we discussed different grade books. As I was grading papers and entering them into an Excel spreadsheet as my own grade book, I began thinking. I was thinking about which one I would like the best or at least which one I trust the most. I decided that I didn't trust the internet based ones. I know that there is a lot of security on the specific site so that it is secure, but that doesn't really help me. With each new generation comes new skills. These generations have been built on computers and technology. There are so many ways to get around securities and to hack into something. I don't really know if I trust the ones online. I would prefer to use a software based grade book because it will only be able to be obtained on my specific computer. I feel like it is more secure than having it out on the internet. Like it has been said before, nothing on the internet is really private anymore. Everything is public. This brings me ot my next point...
So at my high school at home, the district went to putting all grades online so that parents can check them whenever. I have mixed feelings about it. I think it is a great way for parents to be involved in a child's education, however, I feel like some respect or trust was lost between the teacher and student. I feel like too many parents will become "addicted" to checking up on their children instead of letting them try to get through high school on their own. My mom is checking my brother's grades to make sure he is doing well and it just makes me think. Like I said, I have mixed feelings on the idea.

So much stuff to do . . .

I don't know about anyone else, but I feel a bit overwhelmed by this class right now. I like the fact that we're working on projects that are specific to the subject that we are preparing to teach, but I just feel very flustered because we have to do so much other stuff on top of it and I feel like I don't have enough time to devote to working on my project in order to make it the best it can be. Rather than working on my project, I have spent a great deal of time trying to find an article about using PowerPoint to teach mathematics, exploring the different tools on excel, and watching tutorial videos. I feel that this time could be better spent focusing on my project. In observing this idea, I am going keep this blog post short and get to work on my project.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Picking the Tool...

I know right now we are doing many tutorials having to do with expanding our use of technology in the classroom, however I find it really difficult having the tool and then picking a subject mattter in the curriculum that we can use with that tool. For example, I found it difficult applying a subject matter to the use of spreadsheet just because we had the tool, but we hadn't been studying anything in context with the tool. It was hard to pick a subject matter to fit the tool design. I think it will be much easier and beneficial when you know the subject you wish to teach then you can find the best form of technology that will really enhance the lesson.

However, learning about all these forms of Word is beneficial because knowing and understanding the product, you can then decide which program will benefit what you wish to teach. I had never really used Excel before and I enjoyed the interactive choices to have students involved in the lesson. I don't know if I was the only one, but it had been a while since I had learned anything about Excel and it is always nice to have a refreshing view of programs.

I was talking to my mom about my friend student teaching right now. My friend mentioned that many of the teachers she went to high school with didn't enjoy student teachers. My mom was shocked (being a fellow educator) and said that she loved having student teachers in her classroom because it is refreshing and keeps lessons from becoming stagnant. She especially looks forward to learning new ways to incorporate technology because it has advanced so much at universities compared to public high schools. I didn't really ever think that the tools we learn in college not only benefit our ability to incorporate technology in the classroom but maybe help teach new uses of technology to our cooperating teachers in the field. With such a rapid increase in the use of technical based projects, it is good to always be refreshed in the field.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More with Excel

Coming into this class, I felt as though I knew a good amount about the program of excel and a variety of ways to use it. However, it was not until we started to work on our first project that I learned even more ways I could use this program and find something that I could incorporate into my future career. For my project I have done a calendar that will allow for the patients I will be working with to plan out their meetings based on the surgery date and then plan for their follow up meetings as well. It gives the kid a visual for the next couple of months they have ahead in their life. I had been so used to using this program for the same things over and over that I never really tried to find other options to use it for but this class has helped me to do that. I think with the more time I spend with the program, I will learn even more about excel and the different features it has. I also think I will be able to discover ways for me to incorporate it into being a child life specialist and find projects for the patients I am going to be working with to do that will also meet the learning standards that the state of Illinois has set for children. I thnk this class has been very useful and will continue to be as I spend more time learning about it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Teacher Tube

I just watched the videos that were linked from our course page and I am really excited about watching others. While some of the videos move too slow and some move too fast, in general, you can learn a lot from them. Watching the videos gave me some new ideas on how to implement technology in the classroom. The videos also save me time so that I do not have to figure out how to do certain things, I can just learn from people that already know how to do it. This is such a comprehensive site that brings together any teacher that has an idea. It is a great way to learn from one another. These videos could also be useful for students who are assigned a project that must use technology and must be creative. I think that this site is a really good resource and I'm really glad I was told about it.

Excel

To be perfectly honest, I was apprehensive of Excel when we first started it in class this week. I felt like it didn't pertain to me as much as it did to others, like math majors. I was interested to see what it did have to offer me. There is a lot more to the excel program than just spreadsheets. I've realized that it's a great program to make worksheets such as timelines with. I have also learned that the "help" tool is a great asset because there are a lot of templates available and the help tool makes those templates accessible. For my project I started making a timeline which I was pretty unhappy with because I didn't think it looked clean or professional, then I learned that there were templates that would help organize me and outline my timeline and I was thrilled, thanks Tim! I thought it was really interesting that you could make interactive assessments using Excel as well. I had no idea such a feature existed, and such a feature could be relevant to any subject matter, which is great. I hope to learn even more about Excel that will help me in the classroom. I think the more information I learn the more of an asset I can be to my future students. And in the end that's the most important think to me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Tools

After learning the ins and outs of Microsoft word this past week, I found that they have already been greatly helpful. Since I am an english major, my 17 year old brother always sends me his essays so that I can proof them. Understanding how to use the comment tool has been a major help. Teachers have used this before on my essays, but I could never figure it out on my own. Now that I have the knowledge, I was able to comment, highlight, and completely edit his papers in an easy, visually appealing way.

I also took some time to explore other tools and options in word to refresh my memory. For example, I used to have a hard time with adding columns, or text and pictures. It is definitely important that as teachers we are more than familiar with Word because this is a key program for writing. Most likely, Word will continue to develop and add new features that we must continue to learn. We need to make sure that we attend technolgoy workshops as teachers so that we can stay updated. My mom is a teacher and she is constantly trying to stay knowledgeable with Word and other technologies, but her knowledge and familiarity are no where near younger teachers because she did not grow up around these technologies. We have to be prepared for all other tools and programs that our future students will be growing up with.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Little bit of Technology...

While preparing to take on the role as an educator as we become closer to commanding a classroom on our own, we have this necessity to use our resources to benefit our curriculum. The idea of technology can be overwhelming with all the opportunities and chances we have to bring new ideas to the classroom, however what is too much and is there such a thing? I find it hard sometimes to keep track of all the web based demands that all the professors ask us to do. Especially when I have to actually find time during the day to make it to a computer. I find that there is more balancing and scheduling that must be done in order to maintain assignments and due dates. I am not saying it is necessarily a bad thing, just different.

So, while thinking about my problems that I have with technology it reminds me what problems some students may have with certain assignments, ideas, or projects if they are not used to the concepts or practices. I am just used to doing many things by hand or hard copied that I sometimes forget the benefits of a web-based world. Maybe I just have to get used to the demands of technologically advanced professors and keep in mind of all the user names, passwords, shortcuts, web pages, links, and many other things. Sometimes having a problem of ones own helps in the long run because I will always be reminded of struggles that some people may have when it comes to the concept of using certain kinds of technology.

My Experience Thus Far

After two weeks of class, I think that I have learned a significant amount of new information, especially about Microsoft Word. I always knew that there were many features of this program, but I just never really took the time to explore any of them. In such a short amount of time, I have already learned not only how to use a number of different tools, but also how to implement them into teaching. I think that being able to utilize technology in teaching is extremely important in this day in age. I am looking forward to learning more about other programs I am already a bit familiar with as well as programs I've never even heard of.

Word 2007

I was talking with my mom about technology because she teaches the technology courses at my old high school and she told me that a new Microsoft Office came out. The most impressive change, she thought, was the new Microsoft Word 2007. After taking about the various tools that I have been discovering rediscovering in Word 2003, she informed me that in the new version, Word has become even more efficient and classroom friendly. There is a function that allows you to scan and transfer script into type. There is also more templates, help/troubleshoot options, as well as an updated thesaurus and dictionary. I was wondering though, with these new improvements to Word, do you think it is still advantageous to study the functions of and use Word 2003. I feel that it is very useful to study the functions of 2003 because these functions have only been improved upon, their cores left alone. However, there are arguments that would say using an outdated technology or technological program is, for lack of a better phrase, a waste of time (those who argue for Vista over XP or Macs over PCs for example).

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Is it appropriate for teachers to have Facebooks or personal websites?

Recently, a friend and I found some Facebook pages and personal blogs of professors on campus. There were some very personal comments and pictures of these people. I know that college professors have different standards and regulations in terms of their relationships with students. But I wonder if I could find any personal pages for teachers from high school or middle school. Class websites and blogs can be very useful tools for students, but do teachers have certain responsibilities when it comes to posting personal information online? Should I get rid of my Facebook when I am a teacher? Is it enough just to remove any very personal information? Where do you draw the line? Should students be able to "friend" me and see what other people have written on my wall? What rules are there in regard to this? Would having appropriate online relationships actually help to foster relationships with students in person? Would they feel more connected to the teacher and see the teacher as a mentor? And again, is that even ethical?

Microsoft

From browsing the other blogs the general consensus seems to be people thought they knew a lot about Microsoft Word, I have to say I am in that same boat. Before this class I believed that I knew most of the important features of Word, I never knew it was capable of doing so many things. However, I am not yet convinced that I'll ever feel the need to use some of the features. To me, the readability analysis seems like an unnecessary feature. The reason I say this is, I believe as an English teacher I feel that I should be able to analyze how appropriate a document or book is for my students. I think it's an interesting feature but I don't feel that it is reliable enough to use in the classroom setting. I also fear that some teachers, not all or the majority, but some will rely too heavily on it and become lazy. I feel that it is a disservice to students. I can't see myself using it in the classroom because I would need to read documents, books, and papers anyways so I feel it might waste my time to run it through Word. However, now that I know this feature exists I may run it on some documents just for fun, to see how they are analyzed.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed learning about the electronic editing. I have had professors here at IWU use that feature while editing my papers and I really like it. I think it is neater, and it ensures that I am able to read their comments without difficulty. I can truly see myself using this in the classroom. Especially because I will inevitably be reading many papers and editing for my students as an English teacher. As our professor said during class, it is much easier to edit on the computer than it would be to carry a lot of papers home and edit them by hand. The only flaw in this plan is if I work in a school or district where students don't always have access to computers. If that is the case I'm sure I will be able to figure something out. But, I look forward to making good use of electronic editing. I think this class will offer many useful new features and tips that will be very useful to me in the future.

New Ideas

So far, this course on technology and learning has been very humbling to me. Before starting the course, I felt that I was very knowledgeable on most Microsoft office computer programs because I have been using them for so long. However, each day in class I realize more and more how much I did not know and how many more helpful tools there are in Microsoft Office. I have discovered that these tools, such as electronic editing, can really facilitate and simplify your writing and editing process. I only wish I could have learned to use these programs more extensively in the past. It is my hope that I will be able to master these programs so that I am able to effectively use them in the classroom and pass on my knowledge to my future students. The effect and impact of technology is unavoidable in our society and I am so thankful for this class because I learn more and more everyday how important it is for students, who ultimately are the future of our nation, to be well trained and knowledgeable about what technology can do for them.

Microsoft Word

I was sure that I knew a lot about Microsoft Word and I find that I do know a lot about the basics. But there are several things that I didn't know. Doing this exercise of trying to find new tools has really helped me. There are a lot of tools that can be quite helpful that most people don't know about. I think that programs such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint should be taught at a younger age. In elementary school and middle school, they have computer class but from what I can remember, I didn't learn very much. In elementary school I remember playing Oregon Trail as a part of computers. If schools could start teaching programs like these at a younger age, I think students might be better off. I don't mean to suggest that a first grader should be learning how to write formulas with Excel or how to define Macros with Word, but they should at least be introduced to these programs. With our society becoming so technology-oriented, I think it is important to teach kids at young ages to be accustomed to technology since it is easier to learn at a younger age instead of being a late teen or twenties or even older. And as children begin to learn, there is a good chance that they will be able to teach their parents which would help to make everyone feel more comfortable with technology.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Calculator: Friend or Foe?

One of my classmates in another education course made a comment that got me thinking. She said that basic math isn’t as important as it used to be because students of all ages have calculators available to them. She proceeded to say that she would much rather just give her students calculators and have time to teach them other things, than concentrate on simple math which they don’t really need to know.
I completely disagree. Even though, calculators will most likely always be available, it is still important that everyone be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide when they have to. Just like people are expected to be able to read and write, they should know simple math. Not to mention that math is a very vertical subject. If you want to do any kind of higher computation, you must know the basics. I think calculators are a great tool to make things easier AFTER you have learned the math, not in place of it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

MS Word

Going into this class, I thought I knew a lot about the program of Microsoft Word and figured that I could do about anything I was asked to basic on the previous work I have done in the program. However, after only just a couple of weeks in the class, I have learned a lot of new things about a program I have used for years and years. I know that there are some features that I have discovered through this class which I will use in the future when doing things like writing papers as well as making changes. I think I will even be able to apply a lot of the applications into the work I do as a professional. I think the main thing that I have learned so far is that everything takes time to learn and the more time and effort one puts into something the more you will learn and the better at it you will become. Through my years of being involved with athletics I had always known about this, but I figured that I would be able just get by with the word features and figure it out as I went. I have learned that there is much more to this program than just a place to type a paper or make labels and such. I have enjoyed getting to use all of these new features and spend more time with this program that I can use for years to come. I think the same ideas will hold true for the other programs in the Microsoft Office package and look forward to knowing as many features as possible about each of the programs.

Monday, September 3, 2007

What if technology is not readily available?

By our enrollment in this class I think we all agree that technology is important and is a very useful tool in the classroom. We will be learning how to use technology so that our students can benefit from our knowledge of the topic. By getting absorbed into the content of the class, I think all of us are thinking about how we can apply what we are learning to our future classrooms. But have we stopped to think about the chance that our future classrooms and schools may not have the resources to provide the very technology we are learning to use? This may refer to (and I hope it is) a decreasing number of schools, but what are the options for a teacher that teaches in a school of need? There may not be an up-to-date computer in every classroom, or projectors, or adavanced software. I honestly would just like to know what you think of this situation and what you as a teacher would do. Is it feasible to raise some money, or to petition the state? What are a teacher's options when his/her students are not able to benefit from technology that most other students take for granted?

Working with RefWorks

This is my first experience using RefWorks, and from the sounds of it, it is a new resource for many people in the class as well. I enjoy having a place to compile useful articles in a specific area of study. I was definitely overwhelmed when we started using it though. It's great that the program has so many useful tools, but I really needed the tutorial from Thursday's class to navigate and use the program to my advantage. I really like that RefWorks allows the class to share articles with each other as well. I feel that this class, and the resources that it'll provide for us will be truly beneficial for both the remainder of my college career, but also in my future classroom. I was looking at the calendar for the course and I look forward to what this class has to offer. For example, I'm really looking forward to learning how to use Excel, it may be simple to other people but I've never had to use the program before so I feel that it will be very helpful for me. I think this class will provide some great opportunities for me that will make me a more organized, creative, up-to-date, and sustainable teacher.

Browsing for Articles

Browsing Articles on Technology

While browsing many databases for articles about instituting technology in the classroom I found it more difficult to find information about integrating literature with the use of technology. Looking back into my education path, I have never had a class establish a use of technology in any language art classrooms. I feel there is much that a teacher could do to incorporate the advances in technology.

While reading an article called “Integrating Literature and the Arts into Technology-Based Instruction: A New Model for Educators” the author even states, “…the importance of reaching students using all the paths to learning, regardless of the curriculum standards that are in place. While technology is certainly a tool to help students master content, it also offers higher-level experiences that allow students to apply their learning in meaningful ways”.

I found this quote moving because I think some educators forget that technology can enhance a students ability to apply themselves in that subject matter. Most students are aware of the information they can obtain from the uses of technology, however I feel that teachers underestimate the ability students have in furthering their education by applying it through the use of technology.

I remember working with my seventh grade classroom last year and the teacher incorporated the use of video. She had her class divide into teams and had them create a project in reference to a book they read. The only requirement was to use the video camera and the editing skills they learned to do the project. This allowed the students to develop their own understanding of the book and further their education by producing something rather original. This also incorporated another form of learning; which was a change of pace from the typical book report.

It is important though to recognize that some classrooms do not have all the opportunities as others when it comes to the use of technology. I know that my small rural school did not even have a computer lab until I was a sophomore in high school. This is when teachers need to get creative in how they use the resources available, but still is possible to help students use their own resources to not only incorporate technology in their education but apply what they have learned in new ways.

Just some thoughts…

Technology in the Classroom

After reading the article Technology and English Studies: Innovative Professional Path edited by James A. Inman and Beth L. Hewitt and reading other peoples posts on using technology in classroom, I think that technology can definitely enhance the learning process or lessons. Lessons can be made more interesting and appealing to students of all abilities and capacities. Students can gain multiple understandings of a given topic as a result of incorporating technology as well.

The problem that I have seen with technology in the classroom from both the teacher and student perspective is that sometimes technology can be overused. Constantly using power points instead of lecturing will cause students to become tired and bored with the power point technology. Also, focus is often directed away from the lesson and onto the specific technology that is being used in the lesson. For instance, if a teacher played music from the Civil War to help create an 1860 American aesthetic, students could become more interested in what is on the ipod rather than the reason for using the ipod: to establish the 1860 atmosphere.

The solution to focus problems are simple: enforce strict rules when applying technology and do not overuse it. This will make sure students focus on the lesson rather than the technology. It will also assure that the reason for using technology, to enhance the lesson, is maintained.

Technology and English

Searching for the articles was more difficult than I imagined. Using the data bases, I had a hard time finding relevant articles about technology and English classes. I found articles about using technology to teach english language learners, but not many about using technology to teach literature. In high school, my AP English teacher incorporated much technology into our course. One of our main assignments was to write on the message boards for Blackboard.com. This site was used to make about 3 posts per week about what we were reading and also comment on other people's posts. I found it to be a lot of work, but it was a great way to share ideas with everyone. It also left time in class for other discussions or continuations of our online discussions. I would definitely use Blackboard.com in my classroom. We also used the basics- word, powerpoint, etc. for projects and presentations. It would be interesting to see what other ideas people have for incorporating technology in the English classroom.

The Cognitive Tutor

I'm not sure if I put my review of the article on refworks in the correct spot, so I am just going to use this free-write blog to reiterate what I said for my review:

“Technology-Based Math Curriculums” is about how a high school in Pennsylvania collaborated with a local university to create a computer program called Cognitive Tutor to assist in math lessons. The high school teachers and university professors each used their own observations and ideas as to help create the program.

Based on what I read, I think that using such a computer program to aide and foster the learning of mathematics is more than just appropriate, but a superb idea. The article mentioned how the program uses real world problems that students will encounter in the work world. I think that this is important because, as the article also mentioned, students, who are tired of contrived problems, are much more interested in calculating the life span of a threatened rain forest, or how many trips a Medevac helicopter can make on a set budget, than in solving meaningless equations with no context. Furthermore, the program also presents problems in such a way that the students have solid numbers for their starting point, but do not know the ending point, instead of starting from an unknown point to reach a known goal. This is because the researchers at the university believed that students were more successful in solving problems in which they had solid numbers for their starting point. As it turns out, the word problems were easier, and students were more comfortable knowing their starting point.

I also thought it was very advantageous that the Cognitive Tutor was programmed to build a profile of the learning patterns of its users. The program tracks a student’s learning style and pinpoints flaws in reasoning. As mistakes are made, the computer gives the student clues for rethinking the problem so that he or she can get back on track. However, if a student still cannot solve a particular problem, the Cognitive Tutor does not simply tell the student the correct answer. Herein lies where the teacher comes into play. The student must ask for extra help from the teacher in order to solve the problem. I think that this component of the computer program is very important. The teacher must still be involved in the process; we do not want technology to completely replace the role of the teacher because then it would get too impersonal. However, I think it is great that a computer can provide such individual attention to each student. That is one of the difficulties that teachers face, especially now as class sizes continue to grow.

I would definitely like to see this computer program at work, not because I doubt it, but rather because I’m sure that there were plenty of details left out of this article. I have always been a big fan of integrating technology into the classroom, especially considering the fact that technology has become such a big part of our everyday lives. However, I think that teachers who do use technology like the Cognitive Tutor in their classrooms need to remember to not solely rely on the technology to do all of the teaching. I don’t think that anything can ever replace the personal teaching that comes from an actual human being. As we get more and more technological developments to aide in the learning process, teachers need to integrate those technologies while still remembering that they are the teachers and at the end of the day, they are responsible for what their students will learn.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Using Technology to teach Spanish

Lauren and I are both Spanish Secondary Education majors and we found a really useful article that discussed how to blend teaching both Spanish and technology into one. The article, entitled "Teaming Foreign Language with Technology", discusses how two teachers from Ohio have combined two disciplines, Spanish and technology, into one pedagogical approach. In the article, the teachers provide examples of how to use Spanish to teach technology and vice versa. For example, the students are encouraged to use Powerpoint to create review games such as Jeopardy. In addition, the students have been assigned to create travel brochures that advertise foreign Spanish speaking countries. In both of these activities, the students are required to use proper grammar, verb tenses, diverse sentence structure, and creativity. On a more elementary level, the article suggests using Photoshop or Word to create greeting cards or birthday cards in Spanish. Another example activity for younger ages would be to allow the kids to draw a person or creature on Photoshop or the Paint option, and then to have the students label the body parts in Spanish. In addition to offering possible activities to use in the classroom, the article provides a potential rubric for teachers to evaluate their students work with. The rubric stresses the importance of using technology to enhance the student's original ideas, Spanish grammar skills, and creativity.

In conclusion, these two teachers have found that by blending technology and Spanish the students have created outstanding work. The students are motivated to learn when these two disciplines are combined because they feel that they are accomplishing a lot by combining two subjects into one. The teacher, too, can benefit from combining technology and their subject matter because it allows for professional teamwork among different departments.

I highly recommend this article for everyone in our class because the examples provided are easily applicable to all subjects. This article is easy to read and understand. It offers simple and sensible suggestions in how to incorporate technology into the classroom.

Searching for Articles

It was difficult for me to preform the first assignment for this class. I was having a lot of trouble finding articles that pertained to the specific topic of teaching Math using Microsoft Word. In the past I could never master how to navigate around the article search through Ames. I would use Google or some other method which probably is not very reliable. Class on Thursday was very helpful in learning the best and most efficient ways to find exactly what I needed from credible references. Just having Professor Nillas show us how to search for individual publications is an important tool that will be helpful when searching for sources. I also think that the RefWorks files will come in handy not only throughout this semester, but also in future education classes. Hopefully we will continue to add to the Refworks files and compile a nice group of useful articles that can teach us how to best use technology in our future classrooms.