A 21st Century Twist on an Ancient Art Form

30 Jul

I found this great program while researching mosaics for my ancient Greek and Roman art lesson.  Mosaics have been around since the ancient Greek and Roman empires and continue to be utilized and loved by all in the modern age.  Now, you can put a 21st century twist on the mosaic!  Andrea Mosaic allows you to make a mosaic using digital photos instead of the tradition of using colored tiles or stones.  Check out my digital mosaic!Image    

Schools, Students, and Technology

16 Jul

Image I recently read Katrina Schwartz’s Mind/Shift post, “Schools and Students Clash Over Use of Technology”, which outlined the results from a survey of over 400,000 students, parents and educators regarding their views on technology use in the classroom. The report showed a contrasting view of what technology is appropriate in the classroom, with students wanting the ability to access social media sites and use smartphones in class, and 52% of administrators stating that they will not allow these uses of technology in their schools.  Ms. Schwartz suggests that administrators should make the Imageconnection that allowing students to use this technology will enhance their learning. Although, I agree with the benefits of integrating technology into the classroom experience, I don’t agree that all technology is suited for the classroom.  Even though this survey cited that 46% of students have used Facebook to collaborate on a project, we need to remember the obvious:  that is not what Facebook is for!  I don’t believe that a social media website is the best tool for project collaboration and think that using Google Drive would be a much better alternative.  In regards to allowing personal mobile devices, I am torn.  If it’s a tablet, I think it would be much easier to manage, however a room of students with smartphones just screams distraction!  I see them sending texts and checking facebook throughout the lesson.  If there is a full proof way to manage their use and make sure they are not using it for personal reasons, then I am in.  I believe these devices can be a huge motivator and a way to teach 21st century learning skills; I just worry about the execution.

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover

9 Jul


Dan Meyer’s talk at TEDxNYED  was incredibly insightful about the world of teaching math.  Mr. Meyer expressed his discontent with the way math is taught in the U.S. and offered an alternative approach to successfully teaching math.  I agree with Mr. Meyer’s assessment that texts books are not fostering the reasoning skills and are simply providing all the facts in which to plug into a formula.  The current method of teaching simply calls for memorization and not fully grasping how  math concepts work in real life.  I agree that if the students go through a real life math problem, using their intuition, and reasoning skills, they will more likely be able to grasp the concept, and move to the Comprehension level, instead of just staying at the Knowledge level.    He also was very effective at presenting this new technique to his audience.  I enjoyed his humor and the real life examples he gave helped solidify his strategies.  

Mr. Meyer made the point that students do not expect to have to formulate the problem, but expect all the of facts to be given to them within the problem.  This made me think of how our society and culture have become accustomed to instant gratification and less and less patient to solve problems, find answers, etc.  I believe this trending impatience is partly the blame of technology, which has made instant gratification a reality through the Internet, Google, texting, etc.  

His idea that we should encourage patient problem solving is innovative and I am sold on using this technique as a future teacher!  I will be following Dan Meyer’s Blog starting today!

Rising Student Loan Interest Rates Loom Ahead

2 Jul

ImageThe PBS Newshour Education offered a thought-provoking podcast on the imminent interest rate hikes on federal student loans.  July 1st marked the deadline for federal Stafford loans’ interest rate to double from 3.4% to 6.8%.  Congress did not come up with a long term solution by July 1st and will vote to extend the 3.4% rate for another year.  However, this podcast explored the deeper issue here-the rising costs of higher education.  Two leaders from nonprofit groups that advocate for the Millennial and the author of “Generation Debt” were interviewed on their views of the rate increase and the government’s role in subsidizing higher education.

They all agreed that the real issue at hand is not the higher interest rate, but college affordability.  One believed that the government was perpetuating the increase in college costs because it was reaping huge profits from these student loans.  Another believed that the colleges were not investing in the right areas, i.e. investing in football fields rather than giving out more grants.  The author provided an interesting suggestion that the government should be looking into using technology (online courses) to reduce the costs of college.      

I thought this was an intriguing interview with some great opinions and suggestions.  I would definitely use a podcast as a professional development tool in the future.  The podcast brought to light some issues that I was not familiar with and therefore was an easy way to educate myself.  EdReach offers an easy and convenient way to get your educational news in a one-stop shop!


Flipped Classroom-So What’s It All About?

2 Jul

ImageAfter viewing a short clip on the flipped classroom model, I read two blogs to find out more about this new teaching structure.  The Flipped Classroom:  An Infographic Explanation provided an informative display with multiple images and graphics for us visual learners.  I thought this blog offered a precise and clear explanation of the flipped classroom, with some revealing statistics as well.  I was incredibly surprised to see the drastic decrease in failures and discipline cases since moving to the flipped classroom.  If those are indicative of what every school would encounter, than I would say that flipping is a no-brainer!

ImageThe next blog I read, To Flip or Not To Flip?, discussed an AP Calculus teacher’s decision to give the flipped classroom a try.  As someone that has not seen the flipped classroom in action, it was informative to read why this teacher decided to try it, how she planned and prepared, and how it worked in her classroom.  

Lastly, at first glance, the flipped classroom reminded me somewhat of how many college courses are structured.  Many require the students to do their reading on a particular subject prior to the class in which it will be taught. This structure enables the students to come to class ready to discuss and engage with the teacher on a new concept. 

The Curriculum Corner

24 Jun

I have found some fantastic education resources from Pinterest, but wanted to highlight a particular one that combines both creativity and meeting curriculum standards.  The Curriculum Corner provides a one-stop shop for lesson plans, activities and classroom management tools that are both innovative and meet the common core standards.  The website was created by two elementary school teachers with a combined 25 years of experience in education.  Their site is incredibly well organized and easy to navigate, with lesson plans and activities all categorized under subject matter and standard subcategories.  They also have sections on classroom management and seasonal activities.  Check it out when you get a chance!



21st Century Teaching: The Way To Go

18 Jun

Shelly Wright’s blog post “Nuts and Bolts of 21st Century Teaching” was an inspiring discussion about how a teacher has changed her methods to meet the needs of her 21st century audience.  It was exciting to see the new ways she was using technology and different teaching methods to further engage her students in higher level thinking. 

I loved the fact that she used Google Docs and that the kids were amazed at first, but then really started capitalizing on the collaboration that Google Docs provides.

Delicious.com was new term for me, so I checked out the website and believe this would be a great organizational tool when doing any kind of research. 

Although the students struggled initially with the project based learning format, I think the lessons they learned are invaluable as this approach mimics how many jobs are accomplished in the real world.

I was also very impressed by her 10th grade students’ ideas and believe it is a testament to the way she was teaching and pushing them to learn at the higher levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. 

Making Words Stand Out: Wordle!

16 Jun

I had heard of Wordle at the school I work; they gave out “Wordles” as a going away present for teachers who were leaving.  So I wanted to check out this website further to see how I could potentially use in the classroom.    As I explored more, I found this to be a great  visual tool for students, especially younger students.  We have learned  that people retain more through visual information, and although Wordles include words too, I think Wordle incorporates the visual aspect quite well by making the words stand out through different fonts, positioning and colors.

I decided to try one out and used my 3rd Grade History SOL standard as the theme for my first word cloud.


I also found the slideshow below, which gives interesting ways to use Wordle in the classroom, along with a lot of examples.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/barbk31/wordle-in-the-classroom-2587550&#8243; title=”Wordle in the Classroom” target=”_blank”>Wordle in the Classroom</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/barbk31&#8243; target=”_blank”>Barbara Krongold</a></strong> </div>

Social Learning Site

1 Jun

When tasked with choosing a social learning site, the decision was easy-Pinterest!

I have heard and seen numerous teachers using Pinterest, and now have realized why they joined!  This amazing tool has an abundance of teaching resources all in one spot and very easily accessible.  All of the “pins” and boards are so well organized, making it extremely easy to find a specific idea or subject.

As a career switcher, this will be an amazing resource to connect with teachers from across the country.  The following statistics found on a board amazed me about the wealth of educational information on Pinterest:

  • Over 350 boards have the title “Lesson Plans”
  • There are over 400 boards with the keyword “classroom”
  • There are over 450 boards with the keyword “teacher”

One pin I found particularly interesting for educators was “16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest”

how educators use pinterest

As a visual learner, Pinterest provides an advantage in that there are images of every idea.  You can show, rather than just tell! For example, instead of reading about how someone has organized their classroom, you can see it!organized classroom

I am anxious to start using Pinterest and know that this will be my “go-to” site when in need of an idea or suggestion!

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

27 May

The video, “Digital Media:  New Learners of the 21st Century” was incredibly educational for me, having not been in the primary classroom for over a decade!  To see the kinds of technology kids are using today is inspiring!  As a DC resident, the piece on the Smithsonian Institution hit home for me.  Having  visited some of the Smithsonian museums recently, it was encouraging to see how much they have incorporated technology to enhance the learning experience.  The video explored a program run by the Smithsonian in which students create a scavenger hunt for their peers using their cell phones.  I thought this was a creative approach to engaging the students more in the vast array of collections the museums have to offer.  Students these days are more likely to associate a museum with boring artifacts and paintings, however, this program makes exploring the museum interesting and interactive as they text clues and take photographs with the phones.  The one statement that really resonated with me was  that we learn best by teaching; that we truly grasp a concept when we are having to explain or show it to someone.  I agree with the statement wholeheartedly and hope that I can use this technique in my classroom in the future.