Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creating Your Group PBL Learning Lesson

    This PBL learning lesson is the last of the semester for the Middle JAAR and we are still in the middle of putting it all together. We were lucky not to go first and let other groups test the waters and see how theirs went. I feel we now have a grounded idea of what is necessary to pull this project off. At first the group was coming up short with ideas and we were hitting dead ends left and right. Then we got on the topic of veterans and one of our members brought up the topic that many veterans are homeless. This hit home for our group and we took off in search for finding what we can teach our class about homeless veterans and how they can get involved with helping out with this issue. For this project we are currently putting together a Prezi, a Jing video to introduce our technology, and RWLD for this project. These two links will take you to websites that allow you to also create different projects that aid in learning. In the future I plan on using many of the technologies I have been working with this past semester, many of which I am using for this last project alone. That would include the three listed above as well as PicMonkey, Google Docs, Microsoft Word and Blogger. This project is all about keeping the product open ended, allowing students to expand their thoughts while thinking outside the box. I want to be able to keep this idea with me for the future in order to help my students become creative and inventive thinkers. This project, helping homeless veterans is open ended in the sense that we are allowing for brainstorming of idea, then my group with introduce our idea of how to help. Our idea is to create posters (like the one shown in the upper right corner) to allow communities and homeless veterans become aware of the great programs there are out there to help homeless veterans. This idea however will still be open ended, just taken down a notch to be more directed due to time constraints. The creativity of the project will still solely be the responsibility of the student as well as the subtopic area. My group is picking the topic area and explaining the technology the students will be using, this will help get the ball rolling. This is another factor all teachers must take into consideration, time. Yes you want students to have the freedom of the outcomes in their learning, but it also needs to match with the amount of time there will be. With all these aspects of this PBL my groups learning lesson will be open ended as well as help students get going with the s little guidance to head in the right direction. If you want to take a look at this awesome project to get ideas from or actually use for a project click this link!

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Student Technology Fair (Extra Credit)


    The ITEC Eastern Regional Student Technology Fair was this April 19th at the University of Northern Iowa. I had the chance to speak with three students involved about their projects. This fair had over 50 projects from eleven different school districts where each project was part of the instructional curriculum. I was very impressed with the projects I heard about form the students. Two students used Blender, software that allows the creation of 3D models that has the ability to create games. A junior in high school created 3D atoms, showing the linear, two dimensional and three dimensional attributes of the atom. His original idea was to create a tornado, however had issues with the dynamics of the project. He also showed us a picture he created where he added virtual characters to an original photo of himself playing cards with them. The second student who used Blender was a freshman who created building structures with blocks, creating a mini game knocking the structure down with balls. It was almost a homemade version of angry birds. A video of this is shown above. A group of 4th graders had a project dealing with robotics where the robot vehicle followed a white line with a laser light. When the line ended and started somewhere else the laser would search for it until it found it again. This video is shown below.


    This technology fair impacts learning through giving students the open ended questions that allow for free thought and investigation. Each student was allowed to choose their own project and build knowledge through project based learning. I believe these projects where goal directed, mix with infusion because they were engaging and ongoing activities that could not be attained without support of technology. This fair showed how students were empowered to extend the use of technology while having a greater ownership and responsibility of their learning. Through this the students were able to learn at their own pace while having more control of where they wanted their learning to go based on their specific interests. I feel this is important for any classroom because students will learn more and become more involved in activities that they are interested in and where they feel they have more control of their own leaning.

    As a future teacher I will be able to use this idea of PBL by being more aware of the benefits it has for students as well as keeping their interests in mind to help  motivate them to learn. Also allowing them to slowly take ownership of their own learning through projects like the ones shown at the fair. It was easy to see that the students where very interested in what they had accomplished and where able to answer questions about what they have been working on. There is a sense of pride when a student accomplishes something that they worked hard on where they were interested in it and was able to assume full ownership. This is one accomplishment I want to acquire as a teacher, having my students proud of their hard work while learning in an engaging environment.

    Saturday, April 21, 2012

    Play is For Everyone

    Every child should be allowed to play, but what if they are unable to play the same way as others? Many children with disabilities are unable to play and do the same things other children can, and one thing that stops them dead in their tracks is the playground. Playgrounds have lots of fun things for children to do and play on, but much of the equipment is not accessible for children with disabilities. My class spend a day discussing this and through Google SketchUp we created our own accessible playgrounds where all children have the opportunities to join in the fun. Google SketchUp is an easy way to create 3D models of just about anything. The playground I created has a pirate ship with a ramp leading to the upper deck where children don't have to deal with stairs. There is also a house with a wider built door for easy access as well as a circle room to make it easy for wheel chairs to turn around and get back out. Between the two structures is a flat surface for games such as hop scotch, four square and basketball. I also added a few "fake" objects to make the playground seem more real such as rocks, a dolphin and a garden. The whole surface area would be made of rubber palates as well as the objects so there would not be any hard or sharp areas to fall on. if you have an idea and want to make it come to life try Google SketchUp for free, and one day you can make a difference with your ideas.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Gloging for the Good

    Ever hear of Glogster? Until today neither have I, and let me tell you, I loved it! It's where you can create amazing posters online for anything. When I got myself signed up I didn't only go through Glogster, I used the Glogersteredu. My class created posters that can help make a difference in someone’s life through our words. The idea is to make a difference in someone’s life by giving your words to them, to helping them in whatever situation they are dealing with. I have a younger sister in high school, so I decided to aim my poster towards her. She is an outgoing, athletic, sweet, caring, silly, funny, inspiring girl. Sometimes though, life can be a little tough to handle, and me up at college makes it hard  to be there for her all the time. So I figured a poster on brightening her day is just what any of her bad days could use. My poster has all sorts of bright colors matched with uplifting quotes to help someone who is having a bad day. It may seem like a lot all over the page, but that is the point. It is so crazy, colorful and fun, I really think it can help someone turn their day around. This poster I made is not just for my sister who I love, it is also for anyone out their having a bad day and just needs some inspiration to keep moving forward. It is not hard to help someone out, all you need is a few kind words.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Lincoln Elementary School Visit

    Visiting Lincoln Elementary reminded me of all the reasons I wanted to be a teacher. Not only because of the technology use that can be used in classrooms with students, but the way teachers ran and dealt with their class. These teachers are dedicated to helping their students learn how to be independent learners by showing students how to take control of their classroom, work time and learning. This school was so refreshing and got me that much more excited to start teaching. The technology using throughout this school was amazing! It made me start to think of all the possibilities that are out there when integrating technology into a classroom. The tools in technology they shared with us ranged from Delicious and Diigo to Blabberize and Todaysmeet. Lincoln Elementary uses an interactive teaching technology called Mimio, this software works like a smart board only its distinct features make it very accessible and easy to use, tending to the schools specific needs. Students here start a Google accounts in the 3rd grade, while starting mini student lead activities throughout the day that even involve students using Mimio in 1st grade. I was also introduced to students using iPods and iPads in class where they would play educational games. The students were so engaged with all of this use of technology that the schools atmosphere seemed almost dream like. Not to mention how involved the teachers, as well as parents seem to be when it comes to this school community. I only was at Lincoln for about an hour, but I was able to get a peek at some of the things one can do when teaching, using technology while helping students become independent learners.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Creating Collaborative Project

    Earlier this semester the Middle JAAR and I had worked on a collaborative project. The main goal of this project was not the end product alone, but the way we worked together, collaborating with each other to get our end result. The only difference with this project compared to other ones was the way we were allowed to collaborate with each other. We were not allowed to talk face to face, and communicate only through technology. That's right, we were in the same classroom twice a week together and lived on the same campus, but was only allowed to contact each other through Skype, Facebook, texting, Google Docs, etc. At first it felt it was difficult to do this, trying to find times everyone could meet through our computers and then trying to understand what everyone wanted to do for the project. This was our teacher’s way of simulating what it would be like to collaborate with others overseas and around the world, where you cannot meet face to face and have while working on projects through technologies. Even though the beginning was difficult, as the project progressed we adapted to the circumstances and effectively worked as a team. Once we were on a role it was very easy to get the project done, everyone working on their own time, at their own pace. We all contributed to a Google Doc where we added all our project links. Not that I perfect non-verbal projects, however, this was a learning experience and showed that they are probable. This is something I feel every student should get a chance to experience, whether it’s with a classmate in their class or one from around the world. Everyone can benefit from learning how to collaboratively work together on a project not using verbal communication.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Global Learning Experience

    For a week I did not have my Ed. Tech class due to my teacher being gone in Jordan, participating in global learning. He was able to meet with all kinds of people that are involved in the world of education. My class was able to Skype with him and a couple people he was working with. We heard from them and what they were doing, as well as having some of my classmates share a little about the PBL projects we were working on here at UNI. It was interesting to hear about things they were doing, and to feel a part of what was going on there. My teacher was in the middle of global learning, conferencing with different people, learning and sharing. This to me was very interesting, but what I had not realized until now is that my teacher being in Jordan was not the main person involved in global learning. It was my class and I, coming together and meeting with educators through Skype who were in Jordan, across the globe. Both sides learning from each other, thus we are involved in global learning. Now to some this might not seem right, thinking that global learning needs to be big! I mean it is called global learning, but even the little things are included in this global topic. It is where people from anywhere in the globe can communicate with each other in order to learn something new, whether it be working together on a huge project for months or Skyping for 20 minutes and getting a taste of what the others are doing. These are both types of global learning, it can be as simple or complex as someone wants to make it. My only question now is how much global learning have you been up to and how much more are you going to do now?

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Using Problem-Based Learning

    This year alone I have learned about 90 percent of what I now know about problem based learning. From what I can see this is something that every teacher needs to incorporate at least once in their classrooms. In many of my classrooms I have hear and learned a lot about PBL projects and have gotten a chance to create some. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of work to get these projects on their way, but that is exactly why I feel they are important. If they take so much time and effort don't you think that the students involved in them will also put a lot of time and effort in them as well? Well I certainly do. The latest PBL project I have been working on with my group, The Middle JAAR, is Breaking Ground for a Playground. This project was created through multiple Google Docs that are all linked through the main page which is linked above for those who want to take a look. My group chose to create a PBL that specifically reached out to the community in a way where students would be able to contribute in a personal way while still learning, in this scenario 7th grade blocked math class we created. This project was put together in a matter of 2ish weeks but still has some holes to fill. However, is a great basis for a PBL project that could be taken on by any determined and innovative teacher ready to take on a challenge. I much enjoyed the process of putting this project together. I feel projects like this one is helping me see teaching and learning in new ways, giving me the tools and knowledge to bring into my own teaching in the future.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Visit to Iowa R&D School

    In my Computer Applications class, we made a trip down to an R & D school in order to learn a bit from a couple of their teachers. We were inviting to experience first-hand what one classroom had been working on in a  problem based learning project (PBL project). It was interesting to see what the class was working on and how things turned out for them. It was also eye opening to see that even though the class had set goals in mind for their project that some could not be reached, showing me that not everything always goes as planned, but still can be a success.Through watching some of the classes presentations of their projects I got a gimps of what a PBL projects outcome could potentially look like. The second teacher we met with in a conference room where her and a student shared a little bit about what they have been working on throughout the year. I listened in on what she had been doing with her students and the accomplishments she had achieved. I learned a lot about the process it takes to go through a PBL project and how big of an impact it can have on students and the community that is involved. It also put my mind at ease knowing that things throughout a project will change a great deal and to just accommodate according to those changes and the needs within the project. During this time I learned a lot from what she had to say. The whole experience was very interesting to me. I had heard and talked about PBL projects in class rooms, but never had the chance to see and hear about it first hand from students and teachers who were actually working with them in their own classrooms.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Using Collabortive Tools

    Collaborative tools, in the sense of technology is still a new concept to me here at UNI. In high school the only way I collaborated with other students was face to face during class, or possibly texting or Facebook messaging them outside of class. Unless you had a plan to meet with group members outside of class it was very hard to collaborate with them. Here at UNI I have learned a few new ways, using technology, to effectively collaborate with my group members. first off there are lots of online tools and sites that allow online collaborations, but the two I have been working with here at UNI are Google Docs, Forms, Presentation and Wikispaces. All of these effectively let group members work on the same document on different computers. This allows collaboration for the group so each can add at different time while not even getting together outside of class. After being introduced to it I have used Google Docs for different classes for papers and projects where all the group members could contribute on their own time. This worked great so I will definitely be using Google docs much more in the future. The newest collaboration tool to me is a Wiki site. This is were multiple people can work together on not just a single Google Doc, but a whole site where there can be as many pages of information as you want. I have not had the most experience with a Wiki site, but my class now is using one that is slowly being worked on and added too. It is an easy way to keep different projects from class on different pages were every group in the class can post their links. What I have done with these different tools is only the begging of what they can be used for, I also know there are many more tools out there that can be beneficial in the area of collaborating. I now just have to find them.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Introduction Presentation Experience

    I enjoyed the process and the outcome of my puppet show presentation rob and I put together. The process was long, however it all came together quite nicely, letting our class get to know us just a little bit before starting the semester with them. Our puppet show included two paper puppets with our printed faces on them. When our presentation was finally complete and ready for class, I was a bit concerned with how our audience would take our puppet presentation. In the end it went wonderful and I do believe the class enjoyed watching it. With my response to the puppet show of critiquing it I used a site called xtranormal.com were I would type and a virtual figure would speak what I typed. I also added actions to the virtual figure to make it more entertaining. To someone watching this critique they might think it did not take so long to do, typing what you want to say and adding actions. But in fact this took longer than even I expected. I had to find the right actions to use and place them in the right spot so they would match certain words. Overall I am very pleased with both video outcomes. You can watch both of them below.

    When watching the classes presentations I was amazed at all the different ways each person/group put there presentation together. Each one was unique and very interesting to watch. Like most classes, you want to doze off during presentation time, but I was very alert and interested in how the class put together theirs. It really showed how many different ways you can put together a presentation. It does  not always have to be boring!

    The embedded video above is my puppet presentation I created with my partner Rob, and the link below is my xtranormal critique virtual video.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    My Expectations for CCA

    List for semester: Fun, entertaining, interesting, welcoming, challenging, exciting, enjoyable, knowledgeable.

    This semester I would expect to learn a lot, for my mind to be stretched, but not to the point that it hurts. I want to learn new things and ways to use technology for learning, as well as finding my own ways to use it. My main focus is to try to build the tools through this class so that in the future I will have the ability to do it in my own classroom. I like technology, but only can handle so much so I want to find the different pieces that work best for me and hopefully in my future. Overall I want to enjoy being in this class and mentally check off the above list.  So far I am enjoying this class and am very excited about the projects as well as everything in between.