I appreciate any new ideas! Please contact me at kjdetty@umail.iu.edu

9/7/11

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE 3: Wordle

For my second emerging technology I chose a popular creative site called Wordle. Wordle is a site used for generating so-called “word clouds” from text that is provided by the creator. The word clouds focus more on words which appear most often in the text provided. Users may then tweak clouds with different provided fonts, layouts, color schemes, and even languages. Users are able to create any type of image they want and may even print them out or save them to share with the public. After posting, the site provides a link which can be used to post created materials to blogs or home pages (this is how I posted mine below). This technology can be used for various crafting ideas, art projects, or just general expression.
When I began using Wordle, it was pretty easy. The site shows you exactly what to do while also providing examples other users have created. I decided to make 3 different Wordles of my own. Instead of just typing in random words, I was actually able to post the URL of my blog and the site picked up the words used in it. This was really nice and time saving for me! One bad thing about this site is that users aren't able to create a personal account so whatever is created is directly posted to the web. Any personal information such as birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, etc definitely should not be posted. Also, there is no way to directly post whatever is created onto another page, only links to another page can be used. Other than that, I think the site is pretty neat!

Below are the links to a few of the Wordles I created:
Wordle: Kdetty W200


Wordle: Kdetty


Wordle: Kdetty


If your interested in the site, here is a link:
http://www.wordle.net/

As far as tips and tricks go:
1. Do not post personal information.
2. Try using the "randomize" key on the home "create page" for ideas before beginning.
3. Have fun!

6/16/11

Test Scores and Accountability

Recently, news media have increased the amount of accountability teacher’s face because of their focus on test scores, which are not exactly high for most schools. Claiming that teachers have not done their jobs, these media have pushed politicians from all around to support testing-only ideas and I do not think it is fair. Though there is some proof that select high school graduates still experience difficulty with reading, writing and adding, the media and politicians around cannot blame just teachers, especially because of the lack of personalized education they push for. Though I do not necessarily agree with testing-only ideas, I cannot say I do not understand why officials want concrete evidence to support today’s schooling. Overall, I believe testing is important, but I do not condone testing only, rather I support other effective ways of assessment as well as instruction.
There are many effective ways, formal and informal, to assess students and teachers other than testing. Formal assessments include anything planned in advance which is used for specific purpose (Ormrod, 362). Usually, formal assessment follows a set time and students are aware the testing will occur. While this form may seem productive because students are allowed to prepare, it is not because students don’t really know what to expect from the test. In many cases, students “study all the wrong ideas” and fail. From here, it seems students become discouraged and lose educational momentum sometimes giving up altogether. Though formal testing has its pitfalls, I can also see its benefits. One major benefit includes instantaneous thinking which leads to realization of real-world problems. By pushing students to think on their toes, these kinds of tests can foster more mature thinking and reasoning as well as prepare them for their future which may sometimes work in the same way. Additionally, these kinds of tests often highlight important standards for moving on to the next grade or level of education.
I previously mentioned that formal tests can sometimes benefit students because of their emphasis on real-life preparation. Obviously, because life is not always strenuous, formal testing is not ideal for every learner. In a lot of situations, formal testing actually fosters confusion, panic and total information loss because of what I like to call “thought overload.” In these cases, informal assessment would be a better route to trying for evaluating what has been learned/is being learned. Informal assessments are usually spontaneous, day-to-day observations of what students say and do in classrooms (Ormrod, 362). These types of assessments are beneficial because they come without the added pressure of standardized tests, thus allowing students to be more free-spirited and show what they really know. This type of assessment also allows teachers to notice which instructional strategies they use work and for what students. They also allow for teachers to clarify any confusion about material presented. Further, these informal strategies hint at the social, emotional, and motivational processes students go through which are typically difficult to identify.
Though I believe testing is not the only way educators can assess their progress as well as their students’, I must say I do not completely disagree with testing. I believe rounded education involves personalized instruction which can reach a variety of learners. As I have stated, informal and formal testing are BOTH needed to adequately judge today’s students’ progress.

6/14/11

Personal Philosophy for Creating an Effective Classoom Environment

It is essential for any teacher, new or old, to plan for his/her classroom in advance. Planning in advance is important because it can more concretely ensure teachers their classrooms are caring, respectful places where all kinds of students can grow. As a future teacher, I plan for my classroom to be one which is consistently focused, personal, individualized and free-spirited. This way my classroom will be beneficial for any student which comes my way, not just a few.
Fostering and modeling the idea of acceptance is the most important aspect of any classroom. Promoting acceptance in classrooms really shows children the best ways to approach situations for the best outcomes. Further, acceptance aids in the free-spirit students need to feel in classrooms so educators can fully reach every student in them. To communicate acceptance into my classroom, I plan to focus on rules, procedures and sense of community. To foster these ideas, I plan to begin each day on the same type of note, possibly meeting in a circle in a designated area, at the beginning of each day. This strategy would give my students open interaction with me as well as peers and may help the class get to know each member more personally. I would also engage in one-on-one interaction with students through personal journals or weekly meetings. The idea for this strategy is to relate to and encourage students rather than correct them. Lastly, rules would be explicitly placed for when students experience “off days” and need reminders. Following those rules consistently would set the beginning tone for classroom rules and establish the overall feeling of the area. To me, exposing students to a consistent, warm and dependable classroom will enable them to be their true selves and reach their full potentials.
Classroom arrangement is another important factor in creating engaging classrooms. Classroom arrangement is important because it can affect any student’s academic as well as social life. Academically, classroom arrangement can benefit students by providing reminders of information which would be referenced frequently. With posters, teachers can enhance the color and personality of the room as well as provide reminders for key class terms. Additionally, placement of desks and seating arrangements can play into this. The main idea of seating arrangements is to keep students away from things which may distract them, such as friends or family members, but keep them in areas where they can still socialize. In my classroom I plan to incorporate open seating, so I can navigate around the room. I also plan to have groups at each table together rather than individual desks so students can develop socially AND academically.
Planning ahead for each school year is extremely beneficial to teachers and students. From decorating a classroom to creating updated lesson plans to researching new students' past academic records, teachers can enhance what their students take away from each school day. Implementing lessons which push students' academic progress as well as providing for all students is equally important. For many students, the tone of the school year is set on the very first day they meet their teacher, even within the first 5 minutes of meeting. While it is important for teachers to do their best to satisfy each student, it is also important to recognize that people make mistakes. For teachers who experience difficulty with this, or get off to a bad start, there are some ways to mend mistakes. One strategy is to take with colleagues to brainstorm ideas about problem students, to avoid misconceptions and assumptions which may be false. Another is to take part in one-on-one interactions with every student, to "clear the air" or clarify the meaning of words previously used. Lastly, teachers off to a bad start can spend quality time with students outside of the school. This strategy can help positive feelings come out and a sense of self-worth can be established with the student and teacher. Not only does this strategy help students become more aware, but it also helps them relate to their teacher more.
In the end I believe educators need to have faith in human beings and an indefinite capacity to love. They need to realize that learning is not a business, it is personal. They need to actively battle narrow-mindedness by instilling acceptance of others who may be considered different from their students. They need to challenge the thought of what is considered typical so that students may begin to understand their biases as well as the biases inherent in today's society. Over time, these ideas can change the world and make it more balanced. This is why my future classroom will be an all inclusive, accepting and comfortable place to learn for all people. This philosophy is what inspires me to want to teach!


"HUMAN BEINGS SEEM TO HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL NEED TO FEEL SOCIALLY CONNECTED WITH OTHERS...IVE NEVER MET A CHILD OR ADOLESCENT WHO, DEEP DOWN, DIDN'T WANT POSITIVE, PRODUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH SCHOOL FACULTY MEMBERS." -Jeanne Ellis Ormrod

6/7/11

Lesson plan designed for the Cooperative Learning Approach

A good topic to teach to actively foster cooperative learning is "How The Ear Works." After a lesson about the ear and it's anatomy, students would be tested, at the end of the unit, on how the ear actually functions via a group "experiment." Students would be asked to construct a large model of the ear with given materials. After completing their model, the students would present their findings to the class by explaining each piece of the model and it's function.

The groups for my lesson would include 3-4 diverse members. Boys and girls alike would be a part of the group all with complementing skills. Students would get along or challenge each other may be in groups together, but members who push each other off task would be separate. For the ear model, I may choose at least one boy and girl who typically work well together. From here I may choose other complementing members of the class, though this would not be the only technique I used. Constructing an ear model would be a good way to get a diverse group of individuals working together.

To foster interdependence of group members I would assign each member a specific task. There would be one member who is the script, or writer. Another member who is responsible for finding materials and communication instruction. And two members to actually assemble the model. Though member have specific tasks, all would be encouraged to give their input about the construction and explanation of the model.

To assess what students have learned I would actively visit each group as they work to track their progress. By attending to their work and conversations, I would be able to foster help if a group needs it. I may also redirect the group's current ideas if they are off topic. Additionally, by having students present their model's, I would also foster accountability which may motivate students.


To enhance students’ ability to work cooperatively with their peers over the long run I would would provide each group (as a whole!) reward for hard or successful work as well as allow members to secretly evaluate each their work. If groups are rewarded, they are likely to want to work together again in hopes of more reward. Through evaluating the groups success, each member would be able to express what they liked and didn't like about it allowing me, as their teacher, more access to their feelings and needs. I would make sure evaluations were focused on criticizing ideas and behavior rather than people themselves. Based on the evaluations and performance I would then be able to decide the best techniques for future groups to learn as much as they can.

6/3/11

5/2/11

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE 2: del.icio.us URL

del.icio.us is a great resource for educators because it allows access to many different types of media. This bookmarking site not only allows one to save the sites they have visited and like in an organized fashion, but it also provides links to other, similar sites.
Some of the bookmarks on my site include topics like:
1. Art Education
2. Science
3. JOLT (Journal of Online Learning and Teaching)
4. The OWL at Purdue for proper citation
5. College Magazine
6. Links to research databases such as JSTOR, etc.
and...
7. Other personal links I can't help but enjoy! (perezhilton.com)

Check out my bookmmarks at http://delicious.com/kjdetty!