Archive for September, 2012

Professional Learning Network

30 Sep

Having had some previous experience with a personal Twitter, I was interested to see how it could be used in the classroom. I especially liked the links Dr. Coffman gave us to the Twitter pages specialized to our content area. I was not aware that those existed, and they would be great resources for the students. Solomon and Schrum say, “…for pupils, there will be familiarity with a style of interacting and inquiry that arises from browsing within these spaces, even when the young learner has not been an active producer” (Solomon & Schrum, 2010, p. 85). I think students will really respond to learning from an application they use everyday.

I also previously had set up a Linkedin for personal use, although after connecting with a few classmates, I never did anything else with it. I didn’t know about the groups on Linkedin, so I’m excited to try those out and figure out what information I can glean from them.

I do find that having all these resources is a little overwhelming. It seems like some of them overlap their uses. I know the point of this class is to get exposed to as many resources as possible and to be able to weed through and pick out the ones we find most useful. I just feel myself getting bogged down right now, trying to remember which site provides me with which information.

Animoto looks much simpler than Scratch, which I had a really hard time with. I liked the idea that this could be almost like a teaser-trailer for the lesson. Not the main event, but something to get the kids interested and invested. I’m excited to get started with this software and potentially use it in my classroom one day!


Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: how-to for educators. (1st ed.). Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education


Computer Programming with Scratch

23 Sep

In seventh grade I was taught the Hamburger method to writing essays. The idea is that the buns represent your intro and conclusion paragraphs, while the meat, lettuce and tomato represent your three main idea paragraphs. I think I liked this method because it was visual and as a 13 year old, I could easily see how it related to the paper I was writing. Because of the visual nature of this lesson, I decided to use it as my first foray into the world of Scratch.

This was difficult for me, I’ll admit. I’m both immensely proud of the final product (because, I did it) but at the same time embarrassed because it is nothing beyond crude. Part of my problem is that I’m impatient, and I would rather play around with the program than watch the tutorials (which I would NOT advise to my students!)

Watching other finished Scratches made me want to become better at this technology, but now I find myself a bit frustrated at my lack of competency. I see why students would find this technology engaging to watch, and it makes me wish I had taken more programming courses before now.

I think this is a great tool to use for students who are visual learners, and a way to incorporate their interests and a little fun into the lesson plan. It seems (and maybe this is because I am a new user) that the length of time it takes to create a Scratch may outweigh the eventual classroom benefits. Playing around with this software made me think of how much more I prefer prezi and even bubbl, which I feel are more user-friendly and make more sense (to me, at least).

Entering the Blogosphere

23 Sep

My five blog searches for the day (via Technorati):

1. Literary Movie Adaptations

As a future English teacher, the topic of made-into-movie books fascinates me. This didn’t yield quite the results I was looking for, so I changed to “Literary film adaptations” with a bit more luck. This led me to this gem of a website,, which can fuel my compulsory need to keep up with pop culture.

2. English Education

Next I searched for English Education, coming up with this interesting site,, a bit long-winded, but very cool if you’re interested in the origin of many words common today.

A specifically interesting post from this website was entitled “Lettering in Sports” and discussed the origin of the verb usage of the word “letter” (i.e. he lettered in football). The post dated the first known usage back to 1922 ( Also notable is the post discussing whether or not “they” should be used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun ( I sent in a comment voicing my opinion that we should not, in fact, use “they” as a singular pronoun, even if Merriam-Webster has amended the rule on the word.

3. High School English Teachers

I am endlessly excited to get advice from current teachers, there is just so much to learn! This blog has some great pieces of advice for English teachers and I will definitely be looking to it in the coming months.

4. Broadway

I’m always interested with what is going on in the world of theatre, and I was excited when this blog popped up in my search,, this would be a great site to use to keep up with current productions going on in the dc area- for my own personal interest but also for incorporating into lessons later down the road. Field trip to see “Macbeth”? Writing reviews on “Death of a Salesman”?


5. Books to Film

Still not quite satisfied with the results of my first search, I tried again. This time I came up with this website,, which was more along the lines of what I was looking for. The site lists movies based on books, and also gives the genre, reviews, and plot summaries. I think it’s fascinating to compare movies to their literary counterparts and a site like this could definitely be used in the classroom to help students make those connections.

I love technorati, I think I could spend hours on here looking up blogs to fit my lifestyle and my educational preferences.


Copyright and the Classroom

16 Sep

Here is my “amusing” cat, which I found on, by clicking on the “animals” category and then “cats and kittens.” According to the website, all the pictures have been placed in the public domain, so they can be used for either personal or commercial use.

Copyright for online information has become just as important as citing books and “hard” copies of material in this digital age. As teachers, we must teach by example, so it is important for us to know how to properly cite and give credit to the sources from which we get our information. Soloman and Schum assert that in the future “….we see…the integration of tools for greater transparency and ease of use…anytime learning and more equitable access” (Soloman & Schum, 2010, p. 14). The illegal use of information on the internet is common and easy now, but if the future is heading towards a more “transparent” world- with information even easier accessed than today, without a population well skilled in the rights and ideas behind copyright, intellectual property faces a dangerous future.

Students should understand why and how intellectual property is protected- and that the same protection could one day help them as well. Just as it is important to share this information with students, it is important to practice this as well. I’ve frequently used pictures off of the internet in my powerpoints without a second thought, but it’s good to have these other websites as resources geared towards the fair use of pictures. Chances are, students may not know about these websites either, but may be more likely to use them once they do- knowledge is power.


Cat picture retrieved from:
<a href=”” title=”Cat in a tube”>Cat in a tube</a> on <a href=”” title=”Public Domain Images”>Public Domain Images</a>

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2012). Web 2.0 how to for educators. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Content v. 21st Century Skills

09 Sep

I most strongly agree with the 21st Century Pedagogy and 21st Century Skills sites. My personal philosophy combines both ideas from Progressivism and Perennialism. As a (future) English teacher, I believe there are great works of literature that hold lasting lessons for students, but I also believe that there is no way to create a list of all the great works of literature in the world- the Canon is never fully complete. A piece of literature is not less valuable because it has been published in the 21st century instead of the 18th. I also agree with one of the main ideas of the 21st Century Pedagogy site, that, “How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into…” (Churches, 2012). What good is education if it doesn’t prepare students for the world they must inhabit?

I agree with Ken Kay, the proponent for 21st Century Skills when he says, “…our kids need world class skills and world class content” (Toppo, 2009). While I understand the argument put forth by Hirsch, I don’t fully believe that teaching students 21st Century Skills is an “ineffectual use of school time” (Toppo, 2009). Sure, there are ways to improve the effectuality of teaching these skills, but this doesn’t mean we should throw out this part of education altogether. Preparing to teach English, I certainly am in favor of content- but I’m also in favor of students being able to apply that content creatively, to synthesize and to explore- this is my idea of effective education.

The Core Knowledge website also suggests that when teachers follow their specific curriculum, “instead of spending hours trying to identify and plan what to teach, they are freed to think more creatively about how to teach” (“Teachers”, 2012). I think this would give America homogenous citizens, not the creative thinking, problem-solving, globally-aware members we desire. Why should the freedom of what to teach be taken away from  teachers? The Core Knowledge program goes even one step further than the SOLs, micromanaging content. Maybe teachers would be inspired to become creative with their lesson plans simply because they have nothing left to do, but I would prefer to believe that teachers would be more inspired to be creative with lesson plans about content that they have chosen and believe is important.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills defines the 4 C’s as “communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity” (“Above and beyond:,” 2011). The same four benefits (and then some) are listed in Chapter 1 of “Web 2.0” in conjunction with blogging. Technology seems to be a great way to foster this independent, problem-solving education presented by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. These same values are found in “Inquiry-based learning”. Coffman asserts that, “When educators talk about twenty-first century skills and preparing students for the world outside of a school’s traditional four walls, the emphasis is on developing creative thinkers and self-directed risk takers who are able to ask thoughtful questions” (Coffman, 2009). These are the very students that could not be created simply through content-based learning, as suggested by Hirsch and proponents of the Core Knowledge Curriculum. Education is something bigger than the summary of facts, and an important part of these other skills can be found through technology and technological literacy.



Above and beyond: the story of the 4 c’s. (2011). Retrieved from

Churches, A. (2012). 21st Century Pedagogy. Retrieved from Century Pedagogy

Coffman, T. (2009). Engaging students through inquiry-oriented learning and technology. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2012). Web 2.0 how to for educators. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Teachers. (2012). Retrieved from

Toppo, G. (2009, March 05). What to learn. USA Today. Retrieved from




INDT 501- Technology Integration

02 Sep

While I think technology can be utilized well in classrooms, I also worry about overusing technology and eschewing traditional methods of teaching. Maybe I feel this way because I’m nervous and unfamiliar with many methods of educational technology, but watching the clip on Multimedia Study Guides still made me skeptical. While the students were obviously excited about using their technology to create the study guide, I think it would also be important to make sure the information is being processed and remembered. Using technology to create something like a study guide is only helpful if it is also useful. I was happy to see that Web 2.0 also addressed my concerns, warning teachers to watch out for trendy, new programs that might not be particularly helpful in the classroom (Solomon & Schrum, 2010).

I was really impressed with the 8th grade class that created videos about the characters in Tom Sawyer. Creating the movie was a way for the students to analyze the text and make certain decisions based on clues in the novel. Using technology this way allows the students to delve deeper into the material than they may have by just writing an essay on it. This exercise utilized three of the eight c’s as described in Web 2.0 (Solomon & Schrum, 2010). The students collaborated with each other when deciding how to interpret the text, connected with each other’s ideas and opinions and contextualized their work within a literary and historical setting.

In my senior year of high school, we used computer programs to review for the SOL and AP tests in Biology. They were multiple choice, and gave immediate feedback on the correct answers. I believe this fits into the Active Entry part of the matrix. I think the most helpful part of this exercise was the fact that it mirrored the format of the tests we were preparing for. While this program did not help the students be more creative, communicate with each other, or contextualize across subjects, but the drill format was helpful for standardized testing practice.


Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0 how-to for educators. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Instructional Technologies

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