Thursday, October 4, 2012

Webinar: Reforming Education Reform

           I was getting ready to start watching the webinar on Reforming Education Reform when I stated to think more about my own thoughts on the use of technology in schools and education. Although I think that there are some amazing things that educators can do with the use of technology to help students grow in their understanding of the material and make connections to the real world. However, in some ways, I believe, that technology can be harmful to the students. I feel this way because I have students and teachers that try to use technology by way of websites and other interactive tools that they do not fully understand. I also do not think that we should get so caught up in trying to use all of the available tools and resources that we forget about what is the most important which is the education of the students, just as I do not believe that we should thrust technology upon students without offering alternatives if they do not want it or they do not have access. Some of these issues are addressed in different ways in the webinar.

           There was a lot of information in the webinar, I tried to take notes and take down points I thought were important, but ultimately I can only talk about so much. I'll start with some of the flaws that the participants thought existed in the educational system today. One of the overarching themes of the webinar was that the educational system is lacking when it comes to determining if students are learning. Currently students knowledge level and the effectiveness of teachers is decided by standardized tests. This was deemed ineffective by the panel because evaluating students based on test scores does not demonstrate that students are learning to become effective citizens nor show if they are learning from meaningful experiences, and not simply memorizing facts and the process of these tests. (Alfie Gardner). He goes on to say that: to assess means to measure in a quantifiable manner instead of looking to see if the children are learning something of substance and if they are learning in a lasting manner, this is not really being done since they are evaluated based on measurement. "We can't make progress in education as long as education is still measured by test scores." This can lead to making dreadful forms of teaching seem successful. His solution is for parents to keep their children from attending school and participating in the tests on test day.

       On the other hand one of the other panelists, Howard Gardner indicated that he though digital citizenship was something that we should be teaching students, especially in such a digital age. Before reform can happen it was brought up that the discussion of education is only as good as the way that it is framed. Most people are not asked and don't tend to rethink that goals of education and how these goals are implemented and being achieved in the schools. Are the perceptions about what is important for students to learn changing? Are we doing anything to make these changes and to have more meaningful ways for students to learn? 

      I thought that this webinar brought up some interesting points, and I agree that issues need to be reassessed. The key to this re-assessment is how do we inform the public about what it is happening in the schools and how to do we get them to take action and to fight to make the education of their children to be more substantial and not simply test based.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thoughts on the Summer Tech Class

                The first part of class was very informative. I was appreciative that there was a wide range of content area teachers and from a variety of school types. I found it interesting how the available resources changed between the different school. I had not realized just how flexible you have to be as a teacher. The panelists also had some amazing insights into how to get students involved and to help them by using different forms of technology. There was a point in the presentation when we started talking about different websites that are useful in getting around certain things that may be blocked by the school. I liked this becuase I think that there are some amazing websites out there that can be useful, it is always nice when somone points out the ones that work.
                   In the second part of the class I liked being able to reflect on the class as a whole and to hear about what the other groups panels talked about. I can honestly say that I do not share many of the other MACers opinions in regards to this class. I found this class to be useful and helped me to think of ideas of how to get the students more invovled with technology. I will admit that there were some things that I initially was skeptical about, such as video games in the classroom. I agreed with all the benefits that video games have for students, expecially with regards to their ability to form strategies and pedict future consequences and to promote higher order thinking in the students. After today's class I have come to realize that the games I was thinking about are not necessarily all the games that are out there that students would also find stimulating. I was very interested to hear about and to hopefully be able to explore this in the future.

                  I understand that this class was short and that we will be taking this class again in the upcoming semester. With this being said, I also understand that not everything that everyone in the class wanted to know about could be taught. For example, I would have loved to learn about more math programs, however, I also understand that this subject has a very limited scope to less than 10 people in the class, so this is not always pratical. I think that the websites and tools that we have learned about in class are useful in the broad sense. These tools are here should we ever need them and we know how to use them. I am not saying that I will necessarily be using every single thing that we talked about, but I know about these resources and I know how to use them effectively which is important to me. Also, another thing that these tools are good for, is helping students manage their online lives. Granted some of the students may not have as intense online lives as some of us, they will. Helping students to grow comfortable with these tools and letting them to decide which ones are best for them is important. Not everything we learned about has to be tied to a lesson plan, we now have this knowledge whcih we can share with our students to help them become better at using technology in a productive and efficient manner.

We all have different likes and dislikes, each of the told we learned about had enough options to reach all us in some way. You don't have to use everything, but one day when you need dropbox (or whatever) you will have the skills to us it. This is what I have learned from class this semester.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Awesomely Appalling

         For my two readings from edu bloggers I read the NSTA blog on the Science of the Summer Olympics ( and the blog Learning Math, Teaching Math (

        I found the blog from the NSTA to be interesting in that they provide a video series (for FREE!) in conjunction with NBC about how the science of the summer Olympics. I found this to be interesting because this is something that all student can get behind and have an inherent interest in. I have thought a lot about how to use current events to make math interesting and engaging for the students. This is something I would definitely like to learn more about and to use in the classroom to teach a variety of concepts.

        The second blog I found was on how (even adults) have trouble with fractions and subtraction of decimal numbers. Although, I don't disagree that this should not be happening, the only way that we can prevent this from happening in the future it to teach the students we have about fractions and about dividing decimal numbers. Again, I find that students think this is difficult because they do not see how this will relate to their lives, however, this blog show a clear example of how you may need to use this information in said future.

        I find it interesting the things that we can come up with to help get students engaged in and interested in math, however, at the same time I find it appalling that we cannot make the current curriculum more engaging and exciting for students to learn. If we could do this with fractions and decimal numbers then maybe students wouldn't have such a hard time with this concept.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


                        First of all, we can all say that we have some type of need for organization in our lives, this is especially true online. Over the years I have acquired more and more accounts, some of which I can't even remember at this point. Since I have joined this program, this is even more true. In the past there was no need (that I saw) for me to use certain sites or programs, however, I have found that the sites I have been avoiding are the ones that will be the most beneficial to developing exciting lessons, sharing information, and engaging the students.

                           For this project, I was assigned the website www.evernote.comOn the surface and in its functionality evernote is similar to google docs or google drive. There are some benefits of using google drive over evernote, but there are also some benefits of using evernote over google docs. First, there are things that you can do in evernote that you cannot do in google docs. For example, in evernote you are able to sync information between computers, phones, tablets, and a variety of other devices. Also, when creating notes you can create audio and video notes. At the moment, I can't think of when exactly you would need use this feature, but I think it will be a useful tool in the classroom. 

                           There is another feature that allows you to save files/information from the internet through their webclipper tool. Now instead of make numerous bookmarks you can save only the information you want from the webpage for reference. The tag feature allows you to make note of keywords in your note. This is helpful when you are looking for a note and forget the name, or even when you can only remember a certain part of what you wrote, this helps you keep track of things. I like the organization, the available space, and that I can access the information in this program from anywhere. I love the idea of using this program to work with students on projects, to have students use it to work on group projects, and to give them a useful and creative outlet to communicate with each other and the community in an effective and professional manner. The only side note I make is that, with all forms of technology, we (as teachers) need to ensure that our students now how to use the programs/sites effectively and appropriately. 

"No matter how correct a mathematical theorem may appear to be, one ought never to be satisfied that there was not something imperfect about it until it also gives the impression of being beautiful." ~ George Boole

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Missed Class....Portfolio

               This post will be short and sweet since I missed class. The first half of class where gaming was talked about was not recorded. This was the section of the class I was most looking forward to hearing. I am hoping that this coming week I can have the chance to get a brief overview of the discussion.
               For the other part of the class, I found that making the eportfolio was interesting. I enjoyed finding the pictures of what inspires me and thinking about why I chose the pictures that I did. By dong it at home, I may have had a slight advantage because I had access all of my pictures. I spent a little time thinking of what type of pictures I would pick. I ended up picking ones of some of my family and of my home. I also thought about the video I would pick, what type of video inspires me. Again, I chose to go with a video of my nephew singing itsy bitsy spider. I love my family, and I am inspired because I know what type of teacher I want them to have. My hope is to be the type of teacer that I expect those that teach my neices and nephews to be because I expect them to achieve a lot in life and to do so they have to have great teaches.
               At the conference, I learned about different strategies and techniques to help to engage students and to help them advocate for themselves. I learned about different ways to structure lessons so that you can reach all levels of students with the same activity through the use of differentiated instruction. In this presentation I also learned about different websites that can be used to help engage the students in lessons and assignments such as: and
In the other session I attended I was able to meet people from the Voices Against Violence Organization. They talked with the group about classroom management, we also talked in smaller groups about potential strategies in this area,

My online portfolio on weebly can be found here:

"Mathematics compares the most diverse phenomena and discovers the secret analogies that unite them."
- Joseph Fourier

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Video Game Concepts in the Classroom.....Practical? Useful?

        When I first read the article on the importance of gaming, I thought that they were advocating for playing more games in the classroom. As I read further I began to see that this wasn't necessarily true. I understand that there are some goo components to video games that can help students to reach a higher level of thinking, however, I don't believe that what they are learning in the games can all be transferred to real life.
          I realize that there are some ways that games can be useful, especially when trying to get students to think about more complex ideas, focusing, and strategically planning. However, this is not the case for some games. I feel fairly confident in saying that the Sims does not help in these skills. This is not the only game either, there are online games that I play that have a free trial. These are games on or They are slightly entertaining and although some do require some of the skills mentioned like MyTribe or My Kingdom for the Princess, they are not very educational. Trying to use games in the classroom should be through educational games. These may not be as fun for the students, but not always what is fun is conducive to your learning.
          Also, as for the motivation aspect, there are some people who do not like these types of major online games and other offline games. Personally, I do not because I have horrible hand eye coordination and I get easily frustrated with games that are too complex, so I usually give up after awhile. During the time that I am playing, I am not getting anything out of that time spent except more frustration for those types of games. I believe that there are better ways to try to get students involved in higher level thinking and to get them to focus in the classroom.
           The things I believe that we can do is to have more interactive and in depth projects that get them to look into a topic they have a passion for as well as to get them focused on an educational math activity. Also, there are interactive programs such as geogebra that give students a chance to see the concepts in geometry that they may be looking at in the classroom. I think the games idea is interesting and would apply to some students, but I don't think that all students would benefit from this type of activity inside or outside of the classroom. I think about it like this, when I read a book for fun, I can tell you almost everything that happened, this is not always the case when I read a book for class. I don't always learn about the structure of the book. So, thats why I don't see gaming an important part of everyday life, fun as it is, I don't see it as transferable knowledge for all students.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Class Discussion: Relate Soda Ban to Conent Classroom

                 Today's class was interesting. There were two parts to the class structure. In the first part we were in groups based on our content areas. In these groups we discussed how we would incorporate the soda ban into a lesson plan. We had to come up with learning objectives and assessment. Some groups were able to form an idea of what a lesson, that met all of this criteria, might look like. After this my content group talked with another group to share the ideas we came up with. The second prat was to create our first podcast.

                 During the content group activity, I realized that the people in my stem group approached the same question in different ways. I liked working with others related to math because I was able to see other ideas and perspecitives that I could have easily adapted to my classroom. I had fun seeing the different ways people would use the ban. For example, I had not thought before to look at this issue from an economics stand point, but two of my group members had. As for working on the lesson plan, it took some time for us to get organized and to be able to hear everyone's thoughts. We ended up creating a google doc so that we all could see what we were discussing. This also helped us to be able to organize our thoughts and to see how much we had for a particular section. In our discussion we would talk about a point and then we would elaborate on that point without everyone knowing what to write down. The google doc helped with this. To help get us to think about what we wanted to do for our lesson we looked at eachothers blogs and discussed them so that we had a better understanding of the ways in which everyone looked at the question.

                   For our lesson we wound up with more of a research paper type of activity for the students. Our goal was to get students to think about a broad question and to create a more focused question for which to do their project on. We recognized that this may be hard for some students and we were prepared to have guiding questions to help them with their activity. The main focus we came up with was to have studetns to determine if the amount of soda would in fact decrease or if it would increase, ie. to see if the ban would be effective. One member of the group (Pete) came up with an idea as how to implement this idea in the classroom. Creatively enough this idea was dubbed Pete's Idea. The idea was to have students do the research and to form an opinion as to if the ban would be effective. Then, the students would spend one week where the lived as if the ban was taking place in their homes and record how much soda they drank. Then they would spend one week where the ban was not taking place and record their data. At the end of the two weeks they would compare how much soda their families consumed. They would then present their findings to the class. I liked this idea becuase it got students engaged in the material and helped them to see how this ban might effect their lives. It would also give them an idea of how to do research and how to interpret data.

               We later discussed what we did with a history group. I liked their idea on using prohibition in relation to the soda ban, although I was having trouble with this idea becuase prohibition "eliminated" all concumption of alcohol whereas the ban only limited the sizes of sodas you could by at restraunts, theaters, and the like. Their lesson plan was ectremely detailed and it was interesting to see how they planned an entire week around the ban. Mixing the two groups was frustrating at times, but it was interesting none the less.

            The second part of class we worked on our podcasts. I liked learning more about this, but I found it difficult to come up with something to say. I found this activity to be very useful since it is something that I have talked about doing for my class. I would also like to learn about doing some type of video casts so that I would be able to work out examples and have the students to see what I am doing when they are home and need a refresher.

"One of the endlessly alluring aspects of mathematics is that its thorniest paradoxes have a way of blooming into beautiful theories." ~ Philip J. Davis