Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journal 6

Spencer, J. (2011, September 19). Ten reasons to get rid of homework (and five alternatives) . Retrieved from

In this article, John T. Spencer, makes a strong argument for abolishing homework as we know it. The main tenets of his argument are that homework is inequitable, it de-motivates students, and teaches bad work habits. His argument is supported by the reality that only children whose parents have the time and resources can enforce or assist with homework. Therefor, if it does actually raise achievement, it does so by increasing the existing achievement gap. I wholly agree with his parallel arguments regarding de-motivation and bad work habits. My only issue with his argument is that he limits these faults to homework. I believe that as long as we have grades and achievement tests as the metric for learning outcomes we are de-motivating and teaching bad work habits.

Question 1: When and at what age is homework appropriate?
 I believe that homework is more appropriate for high school students. Especially those in grades 11 and 12. At that age it serves as preparation for the habits necessary to succeed in college. Also, most schools do not provide the time necessary for students to receive lessons, complete research, and write papers in class alone.

Question 2:
What kind of assignment (to be completed in class or as homework) would encourage students to be independent learners?
I like the example from John T. Spencer's own childhood, his independent creative writing projects. I think creative writing encourages creativity, increases writing skills, and provides a great way introduce grammar.

Journal 9

Parker, J., & Telep, T. (012). Point/counterpoint: Are computer labs obsolete?. Leading and Learning, 40, Retrieved from


Tim Telep argues that computer labs (CL) are not out of date. His reasons include: computer skills developed in a CL improves technology use in non-CL classrooms, regular instruction in a CL demonstrates the importance of technology skills to students, and regular CL instruction provides consistency that an array of classroom teachers cannot offer.
Jessica Parker argues that CL are antiquated. Her reasons include:  CL do not reflect the modern day mobility of technology, the design of CL discourages student collaboration, and CL encouraged a mastery of basic skills.
Parker does not address the issue of students who do not have access to technology or internet access at home. Would she still promote eliminating CL with the understanding of how many students do not have access at home? Both authors argue on this topic without regard to the issue of cost. A computer lab seems to be more cost effective than supplying all classrooms with portable computers or computing devices, an important factor in today's economy. 

Question 1:  Do students benefit from learning taught technology skills separately from the classroom assignments?
For students who enter a classroom with some existing technology skills the process of learning a lesson and learning a technology tool may be complimentary. However, for students who are struggling with technology and lessons, the combination of the two may be overwhelming.

Question 2: Does having a CL on campus allow students with greater access to technology?
For students who do not have access to computers or internet at home, having a CL on campus available before school hours, after school hours, during recess, and occasional weekends is invaluable. However, for students that do not need those extra hours, having accessibility to technology in all classes would provide greater all day access. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

A personal learning network (PLN) is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. The tools that I use to establish and communicate with this network include: Twitter (an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as "tweets") Diigo (a social bookmarking website), and The Educator's PLN (a website dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators). Having a PLN will help me by introducing me to websites and other resources to assist me advancing my knowledge and skills as an educator. 

 Twitter provides me with broad range of educators to interact with. I am following, subscribing to a persons tweets, my Education 422: Technology for Educators professor in order to continue my access to the resources he has discovered. Being a member of Twitter allows me to access a live chat on the topic of education. The chat I observed is known as #edchat. I logged on to the chat at 5pm on Sunday August 5th. Logging on to the chat meant that I could read the tweets of people interested in sharing the websites they found to be valuable resources on the topic of education. Participating in the chat allowed me to find resources I would either have not thought to search for or spent too much time searching for. Twitter has provided me access to a wide variety of resources.

Diigo also provides access to websites other educators have found valuable. I am following (I have access to the websites a person has bookmarked) an individual known to me only as Denis S. I chose to follow him because he is self-described as "educational technology geek, educator, blogger" and he has bookmarked 141 websites on relating to education. One of the websites I have have tagged (add a label to) as PLN is Teacher Reboot Camp because it provides tips and websites to efficiently network with other educators.

I joined the digital discussion forum known as Educator's Personal Learning Network. The Educator's PLN is a website dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators. I viewed a video called How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries, that I found on the website. The video was part of a series known as TED and was posted by a member of the website. The video was a brief history on how scientist have been motivated to make major scientific discoveries. The video would be an good resource to show to students to encourage curiosity and exploration.

Journal 8 - Adaptive Technology (AAC)


Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.
An example of a non-technological tool that can be used in the classroom is the Mid-sized Communication book. It displays 960 one-inch symbols and opens flat on every page. The book allows individuals with speech impairments to communicate by pointing at the pictures in the book.
An example of a high tech tool is the Magic Wand Keyboard which is a miniature computer keyboard with a built-in mouse. The keyboard allows keys to be pressed with the lightest touch of a hand-held or mouthstick wand. It would allow disabled students to participate in the classroom discussion by typing answers using the Magic Wand Keyboard. It also allows disabled students to complete assignments utilizing the computer.


Dragon NaturallySpeakingAn input device is any piece of computer hardware equipment used to provide data and control signals to a computer. Some input devices are specifically designed to assist students with special needs participate in classroom learning. 
An example of software input devise is the Dragon NaturallySpeaking which is speech recognition software that allows the user to launch programs by voice and switch between applications simply by speaking. Students needing assistance with typing papers or conducting online research can speak their commands or their assignments. 
 An example of hardware input devise is the HeadMouse Extreme.
HeadMouse Extreme It replaces the standard computer mouse for people who cannot use or have limited use of their hands. The HeadMouse translates movements of a user's head into movements of the computer mouse pointer. The use of this device in the classroom will assist students who have limited use of their hands when controlling a mouse and allow them full access to computer activities.

Additional resources on AAC:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Journal 4

Ferguson, H. (June/July, 2010). Join the flock!. Retrieved from

Hadley Ferguson has written a very helpful step by step guide to the use of Twitter as a Personal Learning Network (PLN). She outlined the procedures to follow in order to become a "Twitter addict", one who benefits from contributing to and learning from other Twitter users. She also discloses what kind of time commitment Twitter requires. As a complete stranger to Twitter and newbie to education I find this simple user's guide very informative. Mrs. Ferguson has made a compelling argument for the usefulness and simplicity of twitter. I will be sure to bookmark this article with my diigo account, share it on Twitter with appropriate hash tags, and refer back to it while establishing my PLN.

Question 1: How does a new teacher persuade a more experienced teacher to join Twitter?
As a new teacher I would approach this subject very delicately. When appropriate, I would bring up an example of a valuable resource I had found through Twitter. If the experienced teacher showed interest I would explain the concept of a PLN a little further and offer to send him or her a link to this article. If the experienced teacher seemed skeptical, I would share that my initial reaction to Twitter was also skepticism. I would then go on to explain its utility in professional advancement. 

McClintock Miller, S. (June/July, 2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Retrieved from

This second article is more appropriate for users of Twitter who familiar with the program but not yet aware of all the intricacies. The author offers a dictionary of Twitter terminology and introduces readers to TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and Hootlet, all of which are social media organizers. I appreciate the author's tips on etiquette and efficient use of Twitter. She succinctly explained what percentage of one's time spent on Twitter should be allocated to what activity.

Question 1: I would like to know how much time the author, Ms. Miller, dedicates to Twitter?
I understand that Ms. Miller utilizes tools so her time on Twitter is spent efficiently. I am interested in scheduling Twitter into my life but at this point I am not sure how much time to allot myself for the beginning steps of the process. I have gathered from this article that experienced users of Twitter look forward to their time on Twitter and do not worry themselves about finding time for it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Journal 1: 100 things that make me happy

1. A day off from work
2. A day off from school
3. A day off from being a mom
4. A sauna
5. A jacuzzi
6. My son eating vegetables
7. My son getting exercise
8. My son being productive
9. My son being smart
10. Hiking
11. Swimming
12. Contoured pillows
13. Passing a test
14. Cuddling with my husband
15. Getting a raise
16. Getting a promotion
17. Gelato
18. Losing weight
19. A clever joke
20. Watching chickens scratch the ground for bugs
21. Hearing my bearded dragon crunch on crickets
22. Watching fireworks
23. Singing along to a song loudly while alone in my car
24. Productive exercise
25. Speaker phones
26. Red wine
27. Cute shoes on sale
28. Spending time with friends
29. Halloween costumes
30. Home made chocolate chip cookies
31. Checking things off my to do list
32. Warm clothes out of the dryer
33. Sushi
34. Thai curry
35. A clean house
36. A clean car
37. Hawaii
38. Hiking with my mom
39. Popcorn at the movies
40. Seltzer water
41. Big dogs
42. Feeling smart
43. The ocean
44. Hawaiian food
45. People who like my cooking
46. Having attainable goals
47. Watching movies with my husband
48. Having plans
49. A dental visit with no major work necessary
50. Getting it
51. Legoland
52. Legoland aquarium
53. Living in San Diego County
54. Living near a big city
55. My family (most of them)
56. People laughing at my jokes
57. Independence
58. Cold beer on a hot day
59. Vacations
60. Clean hotels
61. Birthdays
62. Food
63. Someone else doing the dishes
64. Hammocks
65. Free stuff
66. Free samples at Costco
67. Reciprocity
68. Getting my haircut
69. Facials
70. Massages
71. Stretching
72. Meeting new friends
73. Animal videos on the web
74. Inside jokes
75. Sales at Aaron's Brothers
76. Having money to pay bills
77. Having money to spend on fun stuff
78. Not living in my home town
79. Visiting friends I haven't seen in a while
80. Free drinks
81. Being asked a question with the confidence that I can answer it
82. Comedy clubs
83. Dinner with cloth napkins
84. Candles
85. A cat in my lap
86. Fudgcicles
87. Fog
88. Hawaiian music
89. Concerts in intimate venues
90. Rain on a tin roof
91. A good book
92. Pandora music channel
93. Purified water
94. Kai Risdahl
95. NPR
96. Smooth traffic merges
97. Sturdy bridges
98. The Golden Gate Bridge
99. San Francisco
100. Good communication

Journal 3

Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down, and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning.Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(8), 12-14. Retrieved from

This article is about a high school located in a small community near Rochester, Minnesota that could not afford new math text books. Their superintendent turned to the math teachers for alternative ideas. A group of innovative math educators decided that they did not need new textbooks. They designed their own tests, worksheets, and instructional videos. An important element to this redesigned classroom is that the instruction is done at home. Students view videos made by their teachers on a particular lesson at home in the place of homework. In the place of classroom lectures, students complete math problems to demonstrate their understand of the previous night's lesson. The new classroom model appears to be benefiting students. Teachers have found a marked improvement in all math levels. Students and parents approve of the new model, though some parents do have concerns regarding access to computers and internet access.

Question 1: How can the school system respond to parents who have issues regarding computer access for their children?
The far too simple response to that question would be to provide all with digital devices that allow them to view the lessons at home. Barring a miraculous technology grant, that solution is very unlikely. My less ideal but more realistic solution would be to extended hours of the computer lab on campus and encourage local libraries to reserve some hours for students. Community collaboration would be very helpful.

Question 2: How could this system benefit ESL students?
I would like to see these instructional videos offered in both English and Spanish. One of the math teachers in the department would be tasked with making the Spanish language video. As a teacher of English Learners, I would encourage my students to first view the video in Spanish and then view the same lesson in English. This would allow them to learn the math lesson while simultaneously improving their English.