Monday, May 6, 2013

Digital Citizenship Inside Middle School

This assignment is about digital citizenship inside the middle school level. We are creating Prezis that will hold all of our research information for this project. So please enjoy :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Learning to Unlearn

Our latest mission, should we choose to accept it...

What do you have to unlearn and relearn about education, teaching, the classroom, or learning? This required some thought. I know one thing I've already had to unlearn is how I was taught more than 25 years ago. "Way back when" the majority of our education was of a lecture type, mixed with rote memorization. Without realizing it, when I started college part time 4 years ago, I started to unlearn that process. I found out it didn't work in the context of some of my classes. So I had to relearn in ways that DID work. Sometimes you don't even realize that you're unlearning and relearning. My generation would call this adjusting.. if something doesn't work, adjust it until it does.

"The chief object of education is not to learn things, but to unlearn things." - G.K. Chesterton

Teaching is another concept I think I'm continually unlearning and relearning. I came from a generation of learners who got used to the basic lecturing type of teacher. This is the type of teacher with the attitude of "I'm the expert, so be quiet and listen". I've been a mom for 26 years, and worked with my YMCA kids for the last 5 years. During this time, I've unlearned and relearned more about children than I could ever explain; their learning styles, personalities and how to work with them, and more patience than I ever thought I'd have! But this has all taught me that as a teacher, my approach will be ever changing and adjusting. I would not be a facilitator of education if I wasn't willing to unlearn and relearn. I found an article online that explains another woman's journey over 25 years that I also found helpful.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interactive Whiteboards in Today's Classroom

Where to begin......? The possibilities are endless when it comes to Interactive Whiteboards today! I personally haven't had any experience with them, since they were invented LONG after my school days were over. I saw one in action, when I was in my son's classroom. The teacher had it set up for children to put their names in either "packing" or "buying" for lunch. It was their way of signing in. The children seemed very comfortable with the technology, and patiently waited for their turn. But you could tell they really looked forward to using the technology.

The learning programs are limitless!

Now, as always, there are pros and cons to this product. Let's start with the pros. According to an article from the The Journal, one of the pros that teachers note is the appeal to kids' multiple intelligences particularly for visual-spatial and bodily-kinesthetic learners that can be hard to accommodate in the print-based classroom. Another benefit could be the options of HOW to present the material or lesson. This could prove to be very helpful when differentiating your lesson to accommodate different learning styles, abilities, and interests of students. For example if you have physical learners who learn best while being active, coming to the board to answer a question or task could help them immensely. 

Team learning could be used also.

Onto the cons. Con number one is that children get bored very easily. Things are only new and interesting for so long. After using an interactive whiteboard for a year, William Ferriter, a sixth-grade teacher in North Carolina, said, "It just allows you to create digitized versions of old lessons. My kids were bored with it after about three weeks." Another major con is cost. These teaching tools cost thousands of dollars. Spending that much on one tool doesn't make sense to me when there are classrooms with not enough textbooks. In my children's high school, they can't take the books home, because there aren't enough. They use them in class, then put them back on the shelf. The Journal listed several consequences that  are associated; usefulness might wear off, every classroom has to have one, everyone has to use it, and IWBs won't be enough.

All of these pros and cons factor into my opinion.. These IWBs are a wonderful TOOL for a classroom and teachers. But it is just that, a tool. The teachers are the facilitators.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Recently in class, we started studying differentiation. The website defines differentiation as the following:

"The adaptation of classroom learning to suit each student's individual needs, strengths, preferences, and pace by either splitting the class into small groups, giving individual learning activities, or otherwise modifying the material."

This definition is exactly how I see differentiation. I will be honest and say until this lesson, I had never heard of this. I'm the type of learner who does best when I see something in action. So the videos on the Teaching Channel website helped me immensely. I knew that teachers had been teaching to the child's ability for many years. I just didn't know that this term was now being used to describe the process. 

This is how an UN-differentiated classroom must feel to the children.

I think technology plays a huge role in the differentiated classroom. It may play an ever larger role than in a tradition class. If children's interests include technology, using it is common sense. Especially if it opens the door to learning! If a child who has difficulty in reading, for example, they may flourish if the classroom uses computer programs in that area that grabs their attention. The possibilities are endless, and too numerous to describe here. There are several websites that show examples of how to incorporate this idea into your classroom. 

This diagram explains five key areas for a successful differentiated classroom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Twitter and Me

In class, we've been learning how Twitter could be used in a classroom. I was very skeptical at first. Twitter seemed too wide ranging to me. Compared with social media like Facebook, Twitter has a lot more posts, and seems to zip by at high speed. But we were shown an application called TweetDeck which made it so much better! There, we could follow a conversation, with people using certain hashtags. We did a classroom activity on Twitter as a group, and I noticed one very beneficial result. Students who have a fear of speaking up in front of others were more likely to join in this way! So I thought to myself, "Self (that's what I call myself), what other apps could be out there that are just as interesting?" So it became time to explore! The first link shows four apps that look useful and fun to use. Let me know if you agree :)

YouTube Video

My other concern with using Twitter in a classroom was this; Do the powers that be in school districts and National Education organizations approve such things? Think of it this way.. wouldn't you hate to make up an amazing lesson plan around this concept only to have your principal and administrators turn it down? So I was very interested to see what the National Education Association had to say. Here, read for yourself....

NEA Article

Please feel free to leave comments, good or bad! I can take it, I promise! I hope this shows others (like it showed me), that we're just discovered the top of the Twitter iceberg. There is so much more out there waiting for us!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Final Frontier

We had an assignment to make a Google presentation, calling teachers into action! We're trying to convince teachers who might not have training when it comes to using technology in their classroom, into taking that first step. They may be intimidated by technology, unsure of it, or just untrained. The good news is all of these issues can be overcome!

I collaborated with two of my awesome classmates, and I think we did very well! But you be the judge. Sit back, watch, enjoy, and please leave a comment or two. Let me know what you think :)

And now... a call to action!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

All About Me

My name is Mona. This is me...

 I'm 43, and a mom of four wonderful children. I spent most of my adult life raising them. But now it's my time. So I had to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I started working in child care at the YMCA, with children who range from three to fourteen years old, and realized I wanted to teach. 

I've been attending Edinboro part time, and now full time. This semester I switched my major from Art Education, to Middle Level Education in Science and Social Studies. 

When it comes to technology in the classroom, I think back to when I was in school. There wasn't any technology available to us. When I stop and think about how the learning environment has changed, and how many new tools are available, it's overwhelming. Teachers should take advantage of the world of knowledge that's now available at the click of a mouse!

Teachers are the first connection to develop a child's desire to learn. School shouldn't be somewhere they dread going, but something they look forward to. I hope to be able to give that to the kids. 

So this is my journey, and it's just as important as the destination.