Fearless Classroom

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I listened to a podcast from BAM! Radio Broadcast called “Creating a Fearless Classroom in Three Easy Steps.”  The podcast address the issue of how teachers are fearful of doing something creative with their class because of failure or judgment.  The podcast compares the issue to children who want to do a project or participate in something but are afraid of what their friends and peers will think of them.  This is a common concern for both teachers and children.  They want to fit in. They want to be accepted.  Educators want to encourage their students to be themselves and be creative in their own ways.  Yet, they also need to do the same.  How do create a fearless classroom?  Joli Barker is interviewed in the podcast and she gives three steps to help children become fearless.

Joli Barker says there are three core components of a “fearless classroom.”

  1. Students approach their learning fearlessly.  Students are afraid to take academic risks.  They want to get the problem or answer right.  Teachers can help combat this by asking students to approach problems from different angles.  Teachers need to allow students to work with others and bounce ideas off of each other.
  2. Teachers need to be fearless in how they approach their classrooms.  They need to give up control and take risks with students.  Teachers need to model fearlessness.  We need to model that we will make mistakes, and that we can correct it.  Model to children not worry about what others think!
  3. Teachers should never use fear tactics in their classroom management strategies.  According the podcast, research says fear releases chemicals in the brain that block the learning process.  Teachers shouldn’t say things like, “If you don’t do this, then you won’t get recess.” or, “If you don’t complete this assignment, then you won’t pass the 3rd grade.”  Teachers need to maintain a positive classroom environment.

Jolie created a “fearless” global cooperative project where her students started a story and she sent it across the globe to a friend for other students to contribute.  Students wanted a purpose behind their writing.  Her students wanted the topic to be “what breaks the hearts of their friends around the world.”  Their writing became much more meaningful.  They worked with 5 other countries.  Each country presented their problems and also gave solutions to the other problems from their cultural perspective.  The problems were common around the world including hunger, poverty, and bullying.  It was really insightful for the class to see how other cultures would handle their problems.  In the end, they have a globally created story.

Her students weren’t satisfied ending the project with just the story.  They wanted to share the story and insights with other children.  They thought that creating a game would be the best way to reach other kids.  Her students created Mine Craft games that were fun for children to play, but also taught coping strategies for some of the problems people deal with.  Jodi had no idea how to code a Mine Craft game.  But, her fear of starting that project didn’t stop her from allowing her children to try it!

The message to the listeners on this podcast is that teachers need to be fearless like Joli!  We need to tackle tough issues, try new technologies, and know that it’s okay to fail.

This podcast was only 11 minutes and so insightful! I definitely need to listen to more of these to get more teaching tips 🙂

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I would definitely consider podcasts for professional learning in the future.  In some of my undergrad courses at Virginia Tech, I had to listen to podcasts instead of going to class.  I loved it!  I could listen to the podcast at the gym, while driving, or while relaxing at home.  Podcasts add so much flexibility to learning.  I think an occasional short podcast at the elementary age would even spice up learning.  It also seems like a great thing to leave substitute teachers if you can plan ahead for days you’ll be out.  Then, you can ensure the information in the lesson is accurate and the substitute can just facilitate an activity.  I definitely think more and more educators will be using podcasts so that they can use class time for more creative and hands-on learning projects.  I’m sold on the idea!

Getting Connected

About 3 years ago, I made a personal Twitter account. I enjoy using it to keep up with my friends and stay in the know with some pop culture. A couple of weeks ago, I made my first professional Twitter. I’m using this Twitter to network and make connections with other educators. My professional Twitter has exposed me to so many useful resources that otherwise, I would have not found. One educational Twitter account called “Graphite” shares information about awesome digital learning products. Graphite’s tweets kept catching my eye so I finally went to their website, graphite.org. Graphite is a free resource from Common Sense Media. The website rates and reviews many apps, websites, consol and PC games. For each rating, they provide a description of what the game or program is like, if it’s good for learning, and how teachers can use it. They rate in three categories: engagement, pedagogy, and support. Then, teachers can also put their own rating in. Pros, cons, and a “bottom line” about the app/game are also provided. In addition, the rating also provides the exact common core standards that the app or game supports. The information they provide is so helpful in determining which apps, games, or websites to use with your students!  The video above is from the homepage of the Graphite website.

I’m so glad I was connected to Graphite through Twitter because their recommendations and reviews will be so helpful for me when I actually begin teaching! I saved the website on my Diigo so that I’ll remember to look at in the fall when I’m student teaching.

I’m so glad that my professional Twitter has already been useful.  I can’t wait to see what else I get connected with!

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Wordle

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 5.26.29 PMI played around the “Wordle” for the first time! I’ have always loved wordles, but I had never made one of my own until now. I took all of my text from my blog so far and this is what it came up with. It was so easy to use and fun! Now that I know how to use it, I’ll be making them all the time for my classroom and personal use because they look so cool. It’s such a useful and fun resource. I don’t know why I haven’t been playing with wordle sooner!

Empowerment of Technology

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I believe the words above describe children and teens in the US. Scott McLeod uses the words “curious, confident, disciplined, self-directed, enthusiastic, passionate, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers” to describe our country’s kids, especially when it comes to them learning with technology.

The news world loves to share the negative, scandalous stories to attract readers and viewers. Headlines about teens’ technology and Internet use tend to be about problems such as “sexting” or “cyberbullying.” Scott McLeod gives a short TED Talk informing listeners about how many teens are positively using technology, the Internet, and social media in particular. He shares some examples of real teens using social media for good.

He shares about a girl, Martha, who blogs about her school lunches and gained so much popularity that the school board tried to make her stop taking pictures of her lunches. So many people reacted that the school board had to allow Martha to continue taking pictures. It forced them to take a good look at what food they were serving and make some positive changes. With her popularity, she was able to raise $200,000 to help a kitchen in Malawi, Africa to feed the needy there. McLeod shares about a teenage boy who created an app and sold it to Yahoo for 30 million dollars at age 17. He shares about a group of teens on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation who created response videos to show that they’re more than what the ABC special portrayed about their lives. They were able to correct what ABC depicted and show that they’re about passion, love, family, self-respect, creativity, and so much more than the drugs and crime that ABC portrayed. People were then able to see what those teens are really about. McLean shares some other stories about other teens, and even young children, who have used the Internet as a resource to make a positive impact on others or make a better life for themselves.

I agree with McLeod that we could have millions of children like the few he mentions. We could have millions of children making a positive impact on the world or making better lives for themselves. Isn’t that the main goal of a teacher – for our students to grow into positive contributors of society? I know that’s my goal! I want my students to develop positive, strong character that enables them to be positive influences on their peers, the community, and the world. McLeod encourages us to provide children with access to the technology and programs and in turn, our students will be just what we hope for. They will be amazing. They will be the positive words above. They will make a difference and change our world for the better. As teachers, we need to be open to the changes in education and allow for more opportunities than not for our students to use technology. We need to provide meaningful assignments that allow for creativity. Like McLeod says in his Ted Talk, we need to get out of the kids way and let them be amazing!

Check out other great Ted Talks at http://www.ted.com/

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In a Bowl

Fish on Table

In my ED 554 class, we were able to play around with Pixlr. It’s hard to see, but I replaced the head of the fish with my face. Then, I put the fishbowl on a table in a classroom. It was a fun experience to play around with the Pixlr tools and layer the photos together! Kids will love using this free online program and I’ll definitely incorporate it into my future lesson plans!

Generation Like

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One of the most important jobs of teacher is to get to know his/her students. You can’t just know their names. You need to know their interests, their dreams, and what makes them “tick.” Teachers must know and understand their students in order to truly invest in their lives, inspire their futures, and help shape their character.

In FRONTLINE’s video “Generation Like,” it was said that “Young people want attention; they want validation. And that’s actually not new, it’s just that now the possible stage on which you can operate on is much bigger.” Children are still children, but they’re just searching for their attention in different ways than they did years ago. It’s important for teachers to understand how children are using social media so that we can relate to them and reach them. Teachers need to be able to give children the positive attention they need. Children are searching for attention on social media through followers and likes. Does this mean that teachers should go “like” all of his/her students’ pictures on Instagram? No. But it does mean that teachers could incorporate social media into educational lessons so that students can get the virtual attention and feedback they crave. Teachers can incorporate the use of blogs (like this one), Twitter, or YouTube easily into curriculum. It would also allow for “teaching moments” about Internet safety and professionalism on social media. Therefore, it’s very important for teachers to know what social media is out there, how to use it, and it’s importance.

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One big problem with education is that the content has not been made relevant to the students. Pretty much everything is out there on social media. When a teacher understands how children are using social media, he/she can relate the content of the curriculum to social media and daily life. Children are more motivated to learn when they know the content is useful to their lives. Then, if the assignments include a form of technology and social media, the children will be even more engaged because it includes doing something they’re already interested in.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. I realized after watching “Generation Like” that I have a lot more to learn about social media and the way children are using it than I thought. Although I’m just a young adult and grew up with some social media, children now are using it different that I do. In a few years, children will be using it differently than the children today are. I need to stay current with social medias’ uses so that I can be as relevant as possible with my students. I need to stay relevant so that I can make the biggest impact on their lives as possible.

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

The video Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century on PBS provides insight to the practicality and importance of technology and media in education. The video has me excited to use technology in my future classroom. Using digital tools can help children find something they’re passionate about. Children need to have a passion for something. Often, the activities children are passionate about are outside of school such as playing sports, playing video games, spending time on social media, participating in clubs, etc. Using digital devices in the classroom allows for children to find things they’re passionate about inside school. Children will be more excited to learn. Learning doesn’t become a burden when children are learning through a tool that excites them. The digital tool doesn’t even always have to be that exciting, it’s the program, game, or project on the media device that makes learning fun, exciting, and engaging. Additionally, digital media learning can motivate children to put more effort into their work. If there is potential for work to be shown to more people than just the teacher because it’s online or available to others, children may work harder on the project or assignment. The use of technology in the classroom is a tool to help children learn in new ways. Children no longer just need to know information; they need to know how to be innovated and think critically, which many technological tools facilitate.

My favorite learning program is the Smithsonian Institute program in Washington, D.C. So many children think museums are boring. They only enjoy going on field trips to museums because it’s day away from the classroom. I was definitely one of those children. I loved having a day to mix up the daily routine at school, but I could have cared less what was inside the museum we were visiting. Youth in the Smithsonian program are creating scavenger hunt games for teenagers to play at the museum.   The scavenger hunts send text message clues to cell phones. The teenagers playing are then forced to pay more attention and look more closely at the museum. They then aren’t just walking through the museum mindlessly. The players have to take a picture when they find what they’re looking for. A game like this on a phone would make any trip to a museum more interesting, especially to a teenager. It’s another opportunity for those teenage girls to take a perfect selfie with the objects they were looking for. The scavenger hunt allows for players to actively participate at the museum and learn so much more than if they just walked through passively.

As I learned more about digital media learning, I realized that traditional forms of literacy are still very much used. At the Smithsonian Institute program, children have to go through many traditional literacy steps before the scavenger hunt is put into the cell phone program. The children must work together to create a story line and questions to use throughout the scavenger hunt. It must be creative and suspenseful to entertain the players, but also concise because it’s displayed through a text message. It also must be well written. The children creating the scavenger hunts need to have good writing and editing skills in order to write good story line and questions. I had not thought about how traditional literacy skills would still be needed while creating a project with technology. Turns out, most projects must have lots of preparation with traditional forms of literacy before using the technology, like with videos, music, or podcasts. I think many people are like me and don’t realize this, which may be why some people haven’t jumped on the educational technology bandwagon yet.

The video has opened my eyes some of the numerous ways technology can be used in the classroom. I’m motivated to be an innovative teacher, looking for new ways for my students to work with technology to create work they can be passionate about and proud of. I hope my students enjoy learning more because of the technology and freedom it allows. I hope the experiences of working on projects with technology help my students learn to think creatively and critically, which is what education is all about anyway.