Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pros and Cons of Cyber School days


As the season is changing and the temperature is dropping a main concern for many teachers and students, especially up North is- How many snow days will winter bring and how many will we have to make up in June? For many people up north, their school district has built in snow days simply because where they live, blizzards and snowstorms are a yearly occurrence and they are to be expected. But, even with built in snow days, mother nature can surprise us and force the school year either just a couple days passed its expectancy or even a few weeks. While watching a reality TV show about a mother and her eight children living in Pennsylvania, the idea about Cyber School Days was brought up. While filming their show, they had experienced a blizzard that had canceled school for about three days. But, instead of sitting at home bored all day, their schools had their daily assignments online for them to work on so that when they finally came back to school, they were prepared to move on. They called it a Cyber School day. Being someone who has been affected by snow days in June, I was intrigued and began listing the pros and cons of Cyber School Days:

Pros:

  • Students and teachers stay on track-
Depending on what part of the country you live in, whether it be urban or a rural area, snow days can interrupt the school schedules for a couple of days or even weeks. By the time students and teachers come back they have to spend the first couple days making up and repeating where they had left off at. With Cyber School days, students and teachers can keep up working on projects and tasks from home with online assignments.

  • The school year stays on schedule
There is nothing more miserable waking up in the middle of June and getting ready to go to school when you know you should have been finished weeks ago. Doing the work during the year really pays off, in the end giving the hardworking students and teachers the full length of summer they truly deserve.

Cons:
  • No one is there holding the students accountable for their work-
A con of having school days held online is that there is no one there in person holding the students accountable. Rarely do the parents get snow days when the kids do so a lot of the time it can not always work unless they are at an appropriate age to be held accountable for their actions, like middle and high school. One way I suppose this could be solved would be to have a video conference with a tool like Zoom. That way, at 8 o'clock all the students could check in with the teacher for attendance and ask questions about the assignments.
  • Not all children have equal access to technology and wifi
Unless you are a 1:1 school, there is no official promise that children are going to be capable of completing online assignments. Even if you are a 1:1 school, it is not a requirement for them to have access to internet or wifi at home.
  • Weather can get really out of hand, making connection really hard. 
Very rarely do snowstorms get so bad that it knocks out power in the entire town, but it does happen. At that point, safety becomes everyone's number one priority and making up snow days comes last. 

Even though there are a few more cons than pros, I do feel like the pros outway the cons. If more and more schools try to make cyber school days happen, it will become the norm and I really feel like it will pay off in the end. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How I Expanded My Personal Learning Network

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At the beginning of the semester Dr. Zeitz had asked us to come up with a list of where we get our information from. All I could come up with was about a list of about seven things. But as the semester went on I was introduced to a world of different Personal Learning Networks. This is what they are:


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1. Zoom.

My first experience with Zoom was when we were working in groups to complete the WebQuest
Organizer. Here we met with our group members and Dr. Zeitz. This was such an amazing alternative to meeting face-to-face. It allowed me to stay in the comfort of my own home to take care of business. A plus side to this is that you only had to look professional from your shoulders and up! Anyone could have a business meeting while sitting in your favorite comfy chair and sweatpants! I could use this in so many situations in my professional life. Say a parent was far too busy to make time out of their schedule to have a face to face conference at the school, then I would recommend just a quick chat on Zoom to tell them all about my classroom and how their child is doing.

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2. TedTalks
In high school, I remember teachers putting on TedTalks that had subjects relating to the topic we were discussing in class, but never did I think to go online to watch videos for my own personal learning. I really love these videos because the speakers that they have are truly brilliant. They are experts in their topics and the whole fifteen minutes that they are speaking goes by so fast because they are such eloquent speakers and so easy to listen to. I went online and searched something I was interested in which is “social science.” I found a video of Diana Laufenberg called “How to Learn? From mistakes.” In the video she talks about three things she did in teaching she felt were mistakes and how to learn from it. While the topic of the video was not about the social sciences completely, I felt we had something in common. She is a secondary Social Studies teacher, which is something I aspire to be.

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3. Lynda

Not until I began taking the Educational Technology and Design class had I ever hear of Lynda before. So, needing to expand my personal learning network I decided to check it out. I went to the search bar and typed in “teaching.” That is where I found lists of videos about teaching. This one is about learning how to manage a classroom. I found it very interesting and useful. I will definitely be using it in the future.

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4. Podcasts

I used a Podcast to expand my Personal Learning Network. One that I found was by a woman named Jennifer Gonzalez who also runs a blog of the same name, “Cult of Pedagogy” which was how I originally discovered Mrs. Gonzalez. One episode of her podcast which I found to be extremely interesting was “Episode 54: Is Your Lesson a Grecian Urn?” Where she gives a personal example from her own experience as a mentor for student teachers. She tells about how one of the teachers had a really fun interactive activity, but had served no educational purpose. This activity was a paper mache urn he wanted the students to do while learning about Ancient Greece. While the activity would have been cute and fun. It was pointless. I really enjoyed listening to Mrs. Gonzalez’s opinions and ideas on this topic. Podcasts are really great ways to learn. They are very accessible with the built in application on the iPhone. So if you can literally listen and learn on the go.

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5. Twitter

Jennifer Gonzalez has expanded my Personal Learning Network tremendously. She allows all of her knowledge and information to be accessed in almost every platform. A way one can get in touch with her a little bit more directly would to be to get onto Twitter and tweet at her or send her a direct message. Twitter has been a really big part in my social life on social media but it is not until recently that I have been able to use it to expand my personal knowledge. Twitter can be a great tool for teachers to reach out to their students other than face to face in the classroom. When I was in high school I remember teachers only communicating outside of class through email, but now the teachers I still keep in contact with have twitter accounts for their classes and using their own #hashtags. Which I will talking more about later!

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6. Hashtags 
(#IAedchat)Hashtags are a wonderful way to tag information and stay connected in one place. It is sort of like a link but specifically to social media. You can use hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and many more different sites. A teacher can make their own special hashtags specifically to their classroom and even each individual class. For example, #UNIETD. This hashtag is what we use for the University of Northern Iowa’s Education Technology and Design class. Another really great hashtag to use especially for educators in Iowa is #IAEdChat. This is a hashtag educators all over the state use to communicate and interact with each other to share ideas.

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7. Pinterest Board
I use my Pinterest board titled “my classroom” as a Personal Learning Network, because here I conveniently save images and links of different websites and blogs from different educators. This is such a great way to get ideas that I would not normally think of myself. I have never specifically copied anything from Pinterest, but instead used the things that I have found as an inspiration for my own ideas. Really, if I wanted to, to make this platform a way to reach out to my students I could make a professional Pinterest account and have boards for each class I taught and link up my assignments onto their Pinterest boards!

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8. Blog

World History Teacher Blog is a wonderful blog I found while doing some research. This particular blog is full of different resources that fellow teachers can use if they’re studying a particular subject in history. Are you teaching your students about the Indus River Valley? There’s a link on this blog to another resource with more information! I think this is a really amazing idea for teachers of a particular subject to come together and share their ideas! Definitely one of my favorite Personal Learning Networks!

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9. YouTube- Crash Course

This is another thing that I use as a personal learning tool. YouTube has so many purposes now that isn’t just for pure entertainment. There are so many educational videos on YouTube and one of my favorites is Crash Course. When I was stuck on an assignment for class and running out of resources, I went to YouTube and discovered Crash Course! The creators of Crash Course are John and Hank Green. There are so many different subjects like math, science, and history. You could probably find a video for just about anything on Crash Course. This is definitely a very useful tool. 

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10. Symbaloo

Symbaloo is a “webmix.” For an example, you can enter the hashtag previously mentioned above, “#UNIETD” and it gathers and organizes all your information and bookmarks it on the web. A teacher can use this because it allows them to have access to everything in one place. So they can put up all their assignments and resources up and it gives their students access in one place.

Now my PLN looks something like this:
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Blog Post #1


With very little research on one of my favorite Personal Learning Networks (PLN's), Pinterest, I came across an awesome blog called Cult of Pedagogy: Teacher Nerds, Unite and one of their posts' were "16 Ideas for Student Projects using Google Docs, Slides, and Forms." Basically, it just gave creative and more tech savvy ideas on how to perform simple tasks using Google Apps to do something that might have otherwise been extremely "blah." For example, instead of turning in a boring handwritten or typed up book report into the class room, this post gave some valuable suggestions on how to make it more interesting. A book report on paper is not nearly as interactive as it could be using Google Docs. When a student types something, they can hyperlink the website of the author of the book they read or some other really cool source!

(Image from Sidney Biondi)