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Project Tomorrow

Tonight I read the Annual Report from Project Tomorrow titled From Print to Pixel: The Role of videos, games, animations, and simulations within K-12 education which can be found at http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/pdfs/SU15AnnualReport.pdf. While I was reading this report I learned that technology is growing at a faster rate than I thought. With the advances in technology, it makes sense that student engagement would be higher with games and animations as opposed to textbooks. This report gives several great examples of how teachers can use tools such as videos and animations in their daily instruction.

“This year’s 2015 data reveals that 46 percent of high schoolers are now using online textbooks, a growth of 53% from 2005.” The disappearance of textbooks is one of the advantages technology offers our students. Online textbooks allow the students to access the content at a more appropriate reading level and it also helps eliminate the chance of the students losing or damaging the textbook, which can be a stressful situation.

While reading the Project Tomorrow report I was amazed at how fast technology is coming into the classroom. I was aware that games, animations, and videos were being used more frequently, but I was stunned by the numbers. One of the quotes that I think demonstrates the dramatic growth is, “In 2012 less than half of teachers were using online videos within their instructional practice. Today over 2/3 of teachers are regularly sourcing videos from the internet and using them in their classroom to simulate class discussions and to bring a real world context to academic content.”

Even though I grew up without a computer until my twenties and do not categorize technology as one of my strengths, I know that it is highly effective at keeping students engaged. The Project Tomorrow report proves that there are multiple advantages of technology including increased engagement, learning outside of the classroom, and it provides more individualized instruction. As a teacher this means I am going to need to have multiple representations of content available for students. One of the things I like the most about having technology in the classroom is how it provides the opportunity to extend learning outside of the classroom.

Digital Story: Steve the Cat I Love Technology!

For our digital story our group created our own version of a Pete the Cat story. Our version was titled Steve the Cat I Love Technology. Creating this digital story was a great experience because of my group members. With the computer reading program called MYOn being so popular amongst students, I think they would really enjoy getting to create digital stories. Click the link below to see if Steve’s friends can convince him how easy technology is.

Flipped Classroom: Animal Adaptations

For my flipped classroom assignment I decided to create a lesson on animal physical and behavioral adaptations. This lesson meets the Virginia learning standard:

3.4  The student will investigate and understand that adaptations allow animals to satisfy    life needs and respond to the environment. Key concepts include:

a) behavioral adaptations

b) physical adaptations.

My unit plan for this class is going to be on life process and the living system. The difference between a physical adaptation and a behavioral adaptation is that a physical adaptation is something an animal actually has such as bright colors, sharp teeth, long feet etc. A behavioral adaptation is something an animal actually does such as migration, hibernation, or spraying an odor. My goal for this flipped lesson is that the students will walk into class the next day having a base knowledge of the difference between a physical and behavioral adaptation.

To help me create my flipped lesson I used the website https://www.powtoon.com. I have never used Powtoons before, but I liked the idea of trying to create a presentation with cartoon characters. I used the free version for this presentation which did offer a variety of characters and objects for the presentation, but the paid version has a much larger collection of cartoons. I would not categorize technology as  a strength for me, so I did have some difficulities trying to make this presentation. My main struggles were with adding audio. Powtoons does offer a useful help icon, but it still took me a while to figure it out. Since the selection of characters was fairly small and the sound was a challenge I am very unlikely to use Powtoons again.

To evaluate the effectiveness of this lesson I included a link on the last slide for students to complete a worksheet and either email or bring to class the next day. The worksheet will analyze the students comprehension of behavioral and physical adaptations of some animals from the Hudson River.

Click below to learn more about some amazing animal adaptations:





Math Makeover: Eliminating math phobias

One of the curriculum subjects I enjoy learning more about is math because I know it is feared by a lot of students. One of my favorite things as a teacher is eliminating math phobias from students who previously HATED math and never imagined actually enjoying it! This week I watched an insightful TedTalk by Dan Meyer titled Math Class Needs a Makeover. One of the biggest things I am going to take from this video is to be mindful of the type of questions I ask students. The video can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover

Even though we don’t use text books anymore, the types of questions asked to our students could be one of the main factors as to why students are struggling with math. Using practice questions that are similar to the test the students will see, or “teaching to  the test” does not develop patient problem solvers or build math comprehension. As teachers we need to have open ended questions that provide opportunities for defense and then  have good math conversation about the problems. This helps build the foundation our students will need to succeed in the future.

During my first few years as a teacher, anytime I saw a student struggling with math I would jump in and try to save them as soon as I saw a mistake. I thought I was helping the student from getting frustrated or confusing themselves further, when in reality I was robbing them of the opportunity for struggle. Struggle is when the students learn and it is very true that we can learn from our mistakes. According to Meyer, having the conversation about the problem and being patient with their problem solving is what builds a students math comprehension. After watching this video I am going to try to use multimedia for my problems, let students build the problems, and be less of a lifeguard.

BAM! Become a better teacher through podcasts

Currently working in a Title 1 school that has previously not made our AMO goal from the Virginia Department of Education, we are required to give excessive amounts of progress monitoring assessments that absorb a lot of our instructional time. Not only is it boring for the students, teachers do not like spending so much quality instructional time giving assessments because it creates a time crunch for getting all the content taught before the state standardized tests come out. When time gets crunched, sadly one of the first thing that goes is our fun group activities that may take class time for practice such as wax museums, readers theaters, science fairs, and reenactments to name a few. With deadlines for progress monitoring assessments always around the corner, it makes it challenging to commit to a project which could be memorable……..or disastrous and not achieving the intended academic results. These activities are what makes school memorable and fun for students and I know that even though there might be pressure for assessments, I still want to provide memorable learning experiences for my students.

How to Create Meaningful, Memorable Learning Experiences.

It can be found here: http://www.bamradionetwork.com/hooked-captivating-students/

The school discussed in this podcast used a farm with real growing vegetables and animals such as pigeons, goats, and chickens. The farm provides the students from so many different grades opportunities to reach curriculum such as life cycles, calculating rates of speed for racing pigeons, and components that affect flight. Even though the school this podcast is talking about is not very similar to the school I may work at, Mr. Miller gave some fantastic tips about creating meaningful learning experiences regardless of where your school is located. Being passionate is what makes things tick with our students. One of the characteristics he discussed was the impact teacher enthusiasm can have on the experience. Being enthusiastic is something that might be over looked, but if it creates the memorable and meaningful learning experience for my students I will forever keep it in mind during my lessons.

Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

This week I read an article by Michael Godsey titled The Deconstruction of the K-12Teacher. The article which takes a look at how technology will be impacting our public school classrooms a lot sooner than we think can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-deconstruction-of-the-k-12-teacher/388631/?utm_source=btn-twitter-ctrl3

Teachers everywhere realize that technology is a huge part of our students lives and must be incorporated into our instruction. Even though I am aware of what a powerful influence social media and technology have on our life, I was not aware that it could potentially replace teachers all together very soon. Using podcast or flipped classrooms for instruction has grown into the way students are wanting to receive their education. Having the ability to learn the content when convenient is very desirable to our students. A statistic that stood out to me in this reading was”the number of K-12 students who took an online course increased from roughly 45,000 in 2000, to more than 3 million in 2009.” Using the internet to increase our knowledge, while fitting into busy schedules is growing faster than I ever imagined.

Having the ability to access up to date information at anytime, about any subject desired is such a wonderful tool for our students. As valuable as technology is in education, I believe the role of a teacher is irreplaceable. Even though it is convenient to have content instruction available online for access, I don’t think it should replace the expectation of being a part of a classroom and contributing to the group. Some of the greatest ideas happen when we have unique personalities working together, in scenarios created by teachers to push the students capabilities. Students need someone other than a “facilitator” to help them reach capabilities they didn’t even know existed.

Here is a TedTalks from William Zhou giving additional insight into how technology can help personalize learning for students, but it can never replace a teacher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIR60cgfOFU.

I have never heard an adult look back and say “wow that online math class really helped me learn about myself”. On The flip side I hear stories everyday about how a teacher gave a student a direction in their life and made a huge impact. Teachers create the kind of students who can have compassion for one another, which is a characteristic I don’t see from “facilitators”.



Godsey, M. (2015, March 25). The deconstruction of the K-12 teacher. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-deconstruction-of-the-k-12-teacher/388631/?utm_source=btn-twitter-ctrl3

Zhou, William (2016, June 16). Can Technology replace teachers?. Retrieved on July 2, 2016 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIR60cgfOFU