Paperless Classroom

A paperless classroom would change my world! I have a stack of papers that I need to grade this weekend. I am preparing sophomores for the OGT tests (Ohio Graduation Tests – our standardized test they must pass in order to graduate). These tests are still paper/pencil tests until the year 2015. Therefore, it is imperative to prepare the students using paper/pencil practices. I prepare the students for two tests, reading and writing. I would love to have online practices that would be useful and meaningful to them, but that shift can’t take place for another two years. I think paperless classrooms would change learning to be more of a real-world experience. As a professional, there is almost no paperwork that crosses my desk. Everything is done through online communication. I order my supplies online, communicate with the office online, receive attendance online, read my evaluations online. Pencil/paper in the adult world is a thing of the past. I think we would save a few thousands trees a month as well. I do a lot of things now that are paperless and I measure those by using rubrics designed and given to the students in advance. That is probably how I would grade most things. I also have them do self-assessments, in which they are incredibly honest as well as peer assessments. A paperless classroom would make it much easier to build a network of learning. I have noticed an incredible change in my classroom and in the student performance because they can now see what others are doing and learning in the classroom. A classroom that uses paper/pencil doesn’t allow for students to see their peers’ work and thoughts. I hear them having discussions about their responses in my classroom often. That’s exciting! That is what learning should be.

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Big Shift – The Social, Collaborative Construction of Meaningful Knowledge.

I used to have my kids work in groups on projects. They would pull their desks together and produce some sort of product using poster board and construction paper. With the collaboration tools of the web, I can now have those students working in groups without the constraints of the classroom. They can work collaboratively through Google Docs and create something they can both be proud of while constructing meaningful knowledge. In the future, I intend to build a wiki for my classes so that there can be more collaboration and sharing of knowledge taking place in my classroom. My views have changed since starting this class. I was convinced that I should only use one type of social media for collaboration. I have found that my students love the variety of using my blog for discussion and using a social networking site like Edmodo. It seems to keep things fresh and exciting for them. As I said, I intend to create a wikispace for my classroom. I also intend to make my lessons more meaningful. Through the different RSS feeds, I have discovered a lot of lessons and ideas from other teachers that I intend to implement into my own lessons and classroom practices.

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Response to Connectivism

My response to Connectivism Wiki – Group B – 6-A-1

 

I think one of the biggest problems with connectivism is the danger of having a narrow knowledge base. Connectivism could allow for people to only study things which interest them with very like-minded people, therefore never allowing for different perspectives to debate their beliefs and knowledge. I believe that connectivism is a way of life for the net generation. They learn to do things through connectivism. I see it daily with my own students as they check google, wikipedia and other sites to build their knowledge. However, I don’t believe it to be a learning theory on it’s own and I don’t believe that it is a way to learn everything. I agree there is little evidence that it actually works as a learning theory. I also agree that it would take someone very mature to handle learning this way only.

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Skype in my classroom

My son recently got a GA position in Chicago and I live in Ohio. Prior to this, he was at a college in Ohio for his undergrad degree and we would see him about twice a week during basketball season and once a week otherwise. It was difficult for me to have him move and I don’t think I would have been able to handle the separation without Skype. It has been a wonderful tool that has made it possible for us to see each other without being together. My parents are also close to him so I had them come over and Skype one  night. My dad is 80 and my mom 77. I wish I could explain what I witnessed when they sat down at that computer and saw him online. They were so dumbfounded. My mom cried for the first 15 minutes of the conversation and my dad kept saying, “In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this.” I know this really doesn’t have anything to do with connecting educationally, but the emotion Skype can evoke is powerful. I would use that in my classroom.

I was able to connect with my classmate, Natalie through Skype. It was wonderful to finally meet the person I have been working with on the wiki. We discussed our wiki page for the week and also talked about our jobs and how to implement the things we have learned into our own classrooms. She has a lot harder time with implementation of technology than I do. I felt lucky to have administrative support in my district after having listened to her situation. It was a great professional conversation and I learned a lot from her in the short time we were able to talk.

I can think of many ways to use Skype in the classroom. I think the most interesting way would be to have my class connect with people of another culture because they live in such a small, rural town. I think a connection with people from other cultures would really open their eyes to the possibilities of life outside their small town and help them see that the world around them is diverse. I would hope from this experience they would learn that their education is envied by others around the world. Perhaps a different viewpoint would help them to see that they really are lucky to be allowed to go to school versus being made to go to school.

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Podcast in the Classroom

I would use a podcast for  To Kill a Mockingbird. It features background on the author, Harper Lee, an interview with the actress who plays Scout in the screenplay, an interview with a biographer of Harper Lee and an interview with an expert on the screenplay. I would use this pre-reading and post viewing of the film. Because the novel is so biographical of the author, I would play the part about Harper Lee prior to reading. I would then play the parts connected to the film after viewing the film.

I would use this podcast in my classroom because I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a pivotal coming-of-age novel. This novel always greatly affects my students. They love the film, even though it is black and white. I think the realism of the podcast brought together with the film would be very compelling for them.

After listening to the podcast, I would provide a list of questions on my blog to which they would be asked to respond. The questions would tie the novel, film and podcast together.

To Kill A Mockingbird | With Good Reason Radio

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Flikr Lesson

Mockingbird on a wireMockingbird on a wire | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

We are reading To Kill a Mockingbird in class right now. I would publish this picture and have the students blog on why this particular picture serves as an appropriate symbol for the novel. I would have them respond in a post of at least 250 words and include support from the text.

(2009, April 9). Mockingbird on a wire. Charles Bell. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbellh47/3441768771/

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Wikis in my Classroom

One of my colleagues uses a wiki in his classroom for everything he does. His students know the wiki very well and he is very strict and demanding teacher. He teaches 8th grade Language Arts and history. They are required to check the wiki regularly, post assignments from home and work at school from the wiki. He doesn’t seem to have any problems with them changing answers and he loves using the wiki for his classes. He tries to get all the teachers on board and has had some of them create one to use with the same group of kids. I have joined his wiki so I can learn from some of the activities he does with them. I would love to create and use a wiki in my classroom. One of the things I’m afraid would happen is the same thing that happened in our group creation. I’m not sure what happened to our third group member, but she just didn’t show up and wasn’t a part of any of the collaboration or creation. That’s difficult because Natalie and I really didn’t know how far to go without her. We didn’t know if we should leave her things to do or just move forward without her. After awhile, we just moved forward. We divided things in sections and left sections for her to do. However, she still didn’t show up, so we aren’t sure when to finish the page or how much time to give her before we finish the page. It was quite frustrating. I have had my kids do group projects then have one kid in a group be out sick for an entire week, leaving the group short-handed. I did learn a great deal from the group wiki, however. I had never done anything more than just post assignments on a wiki. Creating our own page was fun and exciting. I learned so much and was really able to stretch myself to create something I wasn’t sure I could. Making the new page was very challenging, but even more rewarding when it actually worked. I was so excited when I clicked and it went to a new page that I shouted in my kitchen!

I think my opinion of Wikipedia has changed somewhat. I hesitate still to encourage kids to use it as a source because I know that most colleges don’t allow it. My son, who graduated from an undergrad college last year and is attending a graduate school this year has always been told it is not a reliable source and he’s not to use it as a source in any papers. Hopefully, the mind set will change. I will encourage my students to use it, but not as a source to be cited until there is more academic acceptance, since I have seniors.

I haven’t witnessed any resistance to any of the technology I use in my classroom. The students love using technology for learning and the administrators encourage it. I have absolutely no trouble with parents and they never object to what I do in my classroom. I doubt I would have any problems whatsoever using wikis in my classroom.

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