Thursday, May 3, 2012

Project #13

Our group decided that we would meet online using Google+ and the "Hangout" session.  It was very challenging to find a time where we could all get online, but we did.  However, we did have some minor issues.  One of the group member's internet connection was extremely slow causing communication to be broken.  We also had another member whose computer died during the chat session.  It was quite humorous, but we attempted our web-meetings none the less.

comic strip

Originally, our group had made arrangements to go to a local school in Baldwin County and show how their school was utitilizing technology in the classroom.  However, the instructor that we were supposed to meet with had an unexpected surgery so we had to make a new game plan.  We came up with this idea about making an infomercial for technology in the classroom.  Ideas started pouring and we had quite a blast creating the project.  Our group was composed of so many personalities and we were all very pleased with the final result.

Blog Assignment #13

So, I actually attempted to do this assignment, but it seems that I forgot to post about it. That was such a stressful day that posting my experience slipped my mind.

In preparation for the "media fast", I left a message to my friends on Facebook so that everyone would know what I would be doing. I had to tell my family and my clients so everyone would know that I was not ignoring them. I was looking forward to my mini-vacation (little did I know).

At mid-night on April 25th, I began my fast. Typically, the first thing I do is message my husband since he leaves before we even open our eyes. I couldn't do it that morning and it made my whole day very "off". So, I took my son to school with no radio, then came home and got myself ready for class. Usually during these hours I would listen to Pandora while the baby played in the jump jump. Not today.

Now the hard part...driving an hour to Mobile for class with no radio! Class went fine and kept me busy and kept my thoughts off of emails, text messages or Facebook. But as soon as I got in my car, I felt couldn't help but make a call to my sitter to check on the baby. He was fine, as expected, but that one little surge of media made me feel that I could sneak just one more. My sister had called and left me a voicemail, so after listening to it I had the need to call her. I felt SO guilty for breaking the fast for those few calls.

man with phone built in hand

However, I did manage to fast Facebook for a full 24 hours, which wasn't too bad. The hard part for me was not being able to communicate with my family. What if something happened and they needed me. The thought of them not being able to get in touch with me or me with them was very challenging. We are all just so spoiled with technology. It has become an extension of our bodies and our minds. This was a great assignment, something that most thought may be a breeze. For me it was not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PLN - Final Progress Report

Since my first PLN post, I have discovered more wonderful things about webmixes.  One of my most favorite webmixes is just for education and another is just for mommies. I also realized that I could do more personalizing with my background, instead of the boring black one.  I love color, so I would say that this one suits me better.  I believe with the first one, I was just trying to fill up space, but how I am using it now is very different.  First of all, I have multiple webmixes that other people have made and have found a variety of wonderful ideas and information through.  It's all about communicating with others in a way that is productive and efficient.  This has been a wonderful tool for me and will continue to grow and learn right along with myself.

Monday, April 23, 2012

C4T#4 - Summary

Dianne Krause
Dianne Krause is a Technology Staff Development Specialist and Classrooms for the Future coach in the Wissahickon School District in Ambler, Pennsylvania.  She has a blog titled, A Whole New Dianne, which is probably one of the best resources that I have found so far in EDM310.

During my first visit to her blog, I commented on a blog post she titled, Daily Digital Discoveries 04/11/12.  In this post, Dianne lists two links.  The first one is for The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  The second link is for Digital Citizenship Education, which is a website where you join (for free) and have access to different curriculum.  I became a member and have briefly reviewed some of the material within the site.  

In my comment, I expressed how I felt that I had hit the "jackpot" with her digital discoveries.  She seems to do a great job of posting regularly with new "discoveries".  Both of the website have creative content, that will be beneficial to me as a future educator of America.  

My second comment was directed at another, Daily Digital Discovery post on 04/18/12.  This posts focuses on a website named, iKeepSafe.  This website is organized by a non-profit group of consultants, industry leaders and international government leaders to develop and distribute K-12 educational materials.  This site is easy to navigate and has information for both educators and parents.  As a parent, our children's safety is one of our many concerns.  This website provides materials that parents and teachers alike can use to help enforce and demonstrate safety online with students.

Ikeepsafe logo

My goal is to share resources, such as iKeepSafe, with educators in my community in the hope that they will strive to integrate technology more in our classroom.  I feel that it is such an important step that needs to be taken.  By reading blogs like this one created by Dianne Krause, I feel more confident and comfortable discussing and demonstrating technology tools in the classroom and in my everyday life. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Creativity and Curiosity: My Thoughts - Special Post #12A.

polar bear looking curiously at a little girl

Dr. Strange asked us in class the other day a series of questions.  They are as follows: 

1. Do schools in the United States systematically destroy (or inhibit) the development of curiosity and/or creativity in students?  If yes, why does this happen?  If no, how do you counter the argument of Sir Ken Robinson that schools undermine the development of creativity in students?  

Children, in general, are all creative in some way, whether it be dance, music, art, sports, or other creative outlet.  Today's education system around the world places those talents at the bottom our our curriculum.  I think that this happens because our education system focuses on subjects such as math, science, language and history.  All of these are important, however, I do not think that they are more important than art class, music class, or computer class.  I believe there are several factors as to why this happens.  One, these four components have been the core focus of education since our education system was first founded.  Second, when you have a financial crisis in the education system, like the one we have now, the "arts" are one of the first things to get cut.  The education system has to change because the world is changing.  How can we expect to prepare these students for the future when right now we see that the world is becoming a world where jobs of creativity and becoming more prevalent.  Our kids are not all perfectly square packaged boxes.  Some of them have color and extra "pizzazz" and this needs to be embraced, not grayed out.  There has to be change.  As Sir Ken Robinson states, "we need an education revolution". 

2. Can a curriculum be developed that increases the curiosity of students? If so, what would be the key components of such a curriculum?

Curiosity is an emotion related to natural inquisitive behavior such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and many animal species.  Yes, I do believe that a curriculum can be developed to increase the curiosity of students.  That, to me, seems as if it would be one of my main goals as an educator.  I will encourage a curriculum that stimulates my students' natural inquisitive behavior.  I think that we all learn better by doing, exploring and actually "thinking" with our minds instead of assembly-line education.  The key components would be visual and hands-on learning.  Also, communicating with other educators who have the same focus as you and coordinate lessons together to increase learning and stimulation at school.  

3. Can a curriculum be developed that increases the creativity of students? If so, what would be the key components of such a curriculum? 

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, solution, artwork, literary work, joke, etc.) that has some kind of value.  Creativity should most definitely be encouraged in the classroom.  Creativity equals originality which equals a new way of thinking.  Where would our world be without those who were creative?  Our species would seize to evolve if it were not for the creative mind.  I believe that key components of such a curriculum would involve more "free" style learning.  Exposing our children to new culture, the arts, and other forms of creative learning are all necessary when trying to encourage creative thinking.  Also, the environment of the classroom will also increase creativity.  Having bright colors, windows (if at all possible), and art work on the walls will encourage creativity.

4. Can a teacher's actions increase the curiosity of students? If so, what would be those actions?

Absolutely!!  If we, the teacher, explore and investigate solutions then our students will also be more apt to do the same.  Lead by example.  If we encourage curious behavior in the classroom early on, those students will more than likely continue to explore and discover as they grow.  I believe that a teacher shouldn't just give an answer and do the thinking for the student, but should help explore the answer together with the student to the solution.  It's all about the process, not the outcome. 

5. Can a teacher's actions increase the creativity of students? If so, what would be those actions?

Just as I believe curiosity can be increased in a student if the teacher exemplifies these actions, I also believe a creative teacher will have the same results.  

6. What would help you become more creative? What role would teachers and/or schools have in that process?

I personally am a creative person already.  I own a photography business, so I encourage the arts in my own home with my own children.  My kids and I are always doing some form of "project".   I believe that project based learning should be encourage more in the classroom instead of "burp-back" education as Dr. Strange says.  Teachers play a major role in the creative process.  However, if the school doesn't continue to encourage the same creative behavior then I believe the process will dramatically hinder the outcome.  It would be optimal for the staff of a school as a whole to work toward the same goal in acquiring more creative/curious learning.  

7. What would help you become more curious? What role would teachers and/or schools have in that process?

I could become more curious just by doing more exploring with ideas in the classroom.  This year, I became almost addicted to Pinterest.  This website is absolutely amazing for the ADD mom, such as myself.  There are so many things that you can explore there, one being different lessons and creative projects for the classroom.  I have "pinned" a variety of projects that I would love to do in my future classroom.  This class has exposed me to several new learning tools, such as my PLN.  Twitter is also a social networking site that I am continually learning with.  There are so many possibilities out there.  You just have to stop and look. 

Elli is a writer for  Her blog post, Teaching your kids to be curious, describes the importance of curiosity and creativity in our youth.  Kids need to be "confident and comfortable with their curiosity at a young age".  If we have a student in our classroom come up with a unique idea and we squish it, then that child will in turn will probably not want to express many new ideas that they may have.  Congratulations people, you just put out a light in a child's mind.  Is that really what you want to do as teachers? NO! Encourage creativity and curiosity.  Kids are full of it -- encourage it!  If you would like to get in touch with Elli, click here.  You can add her to your circle on Google+.  I did.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Final Project Progress Report

For my final project, my group "The Green Girls" will be making a movie regarding technology in the classroom at Bay Minette Elementary School.  The ladies in my group are Joy Eady, Eva Stringer, and Brandy Douglas.  We have permission to interview the technology teacher and show different ways that the school uses technology in the classroom.  We will also examine how technology will be used in the future.  I am excited about this project.

head inside of colors

C4K Summary for April

The month of April has been extremely exciting in the C4K world here in EDM 310.  We were asked to be a part of the World Blog Challenge.  My summary for the month is as follows:

I had the privileged of commenting on Cheyenne's blog for the World Blog Challenge.  Cheyenne is a student in Vermont.  Her first post that I commented on was a post where she described where she lived and her favorite things about her state.  One of the "cool" things that she likes about Vermont is Lake Champlain.  She also described other elements of their environment such as the mountains and how crystal clear the water was in the lakes.  Cheyenne shared her love for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in her posts, which is located within her state. After all is said, she makes the comment that Vermont will always be her home no matter where she lives.

My comment to her first post can be found here.  I was very impressed with how descriptive she was in her post about her state.  I commented to her that it sounded like a wonderful place to live and expressed how I would love to visit one day.  Being female, I also have an affinity for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.  You just can't go wrong with any flavors.  They are all so good.  Also, I was excited that Cheyenne commented back to my comment.  She said that she would keep up the good work and she did.

Her second post was a photo of a sunset.  I asked her if she took the photo.  Below is the image from her blog.

picture of sunset

My final comment to Cheyenne was regarding a post that she made about pollution.  In her post, she asked us to imagine a world where the sky was gray and dull. She described how that's how our world will be if we do not all work together to help diminish pollution.  I replied by saying that I do not want to imagine a world where the skies are blue.  However, I do believe that we all have to do our part to help take care of our planet.  I told her how this summer, my kids and I will be riding our bikes to do small errands and go to the pool.  Thankfully, we live in a residential area where this is possible.  There are so many things that each of us can do to help preserve our beautiful planet.  It was so nice to hear her thoughts and her concern for our planet.  Overall, I believe that she did an excellent job with her posts.  Her thoughts were complete and well organized. Job well done!

Blog Assignment #12

The Assignment
Watch Sir Ken Robinson's speech, Changing Education Paradigms.  Write 2 or more paragraphs discussing the video.  What do you think about what Sir Ken Robinson says about ADHD? 

My Post
First of all let me start out by saying that I love listening to Sir Ken Robinson speak.  He has such a simple and revolutionary ideas about education.  I was first introduced to him in Blog Post #2. in this animated speech, he discusses ideas of how our education system needs change.  We need to raise the standards of our education system. Our country is using a system that was developed centuries ago.  The students of today are of a complete and different, well, I guess race of their own kind.  They were born into a world of computers, internet, iPods, and hundreds of channels on the TV.  Then they go to school and they become bored.  So what is the solution?  Medicate them to calm them down and bring their focus back. 

ADHD is becoming so diagnosed, and according to Sir Robinson the diagnosis gets worse as you head to the east of the United States.  As previously stated, I am the mother of a child who is ADHD, or so the doctors have told me.  What happened to the kids in the animation, is exactly what happened to my son.  He started Kindergarten at the age of 5 and was expected to sit quietly to do his work for 8 hours.  Not a solid straight 8 hours though.  They do get recess and have physical education class.  The majority of his day, was spent inside of the classroom.  It was a MAJOR change from our family life -- which is rather energetic.  After all was said and done, and after several meetings at school, it was discussed that we should look into testing for my son.  He was put on medication and it completely wiped his personality out.  This broke my heart.  After several attempts to see what would work best, we found a doctor that understood my concerns, as well as, the schools concerns and found something that helped my son focus on school and still be himself.
No matter how much the material changes, a 5 year old boy is going to act like a 5 year old boy.

ADHD child

Sir Ken Robinson states, "the arts are the victims of this mentality.  Aesthetic experience is when the senses are operating at their peak."  What we are doing to our children is giving them a prescription and shutting their senses off.  They are not able to operate at their full peak.  So what do we do?  The options are this:  Keep medicating our children, and allow teachers to have a more "peaceful" classroom or not medicate our children and have teachers teach in a way that "wakes" them up.  

child bored in class

Having been around children for years, in a classroom and in my home, I will say that it is quite challenging at times when you have 25 six year old kids running around.  As teachers, we have to be able to channel that energy into productive, challenging, and most importantly engaging learning.  This is not such a simple task, but these are our kids.  They are our future.  Why wouldn't we take the challenge and turn it into opportunity.  

Everyone can see that our public education system needs change.  Change is never easy, but as my grandmother says, "anything worth having is worth fighting for".  I believe that I will "fight" for my own children and for the children in my future classroom.  Will you? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blog Assignment #11

Kathy Cassidy
Canadian First Grade teacher, Kathy Cassidy, shares her enthusiastic approach to technology in the classroom in her blog.  She shared a YouTube video, Little Kids, Big Potential which lets us take a peek into the wonderful things that her six year old students are doing.  They are blogging, using Wikis, Nintendo DS, and computers daily to help expand their learning structure.  I was so impressed with how well-spoken these first grade students were.  Their knowledge of blogging at the age of 6 just amazes me.  

Mrs. Cassidy also did a Skype interview with Dr. Strange and answered questions and gave several wise tips for us, the up and coming teachers.  One tip that she had was for us to go ahead and start developing our online networking system.  Dr. Strange stated that 100% of his EDM students are currently using Facebook, and many of us are a little leery of using Twitter.  I would have to say that before this class I did not have a Twitter account.  I have not taken the time to really stop and explore this networking system, however, I hope to have more time this summer to dedicate to doing more research on a variety of networking tools.  She also suggested that we start by using tools that we already find interesting.  If we like videos, then do some research on YouTube.  If we like photography, such as myself, then try Flickr or other site to try to make some connections.

When I eventually am blessed to have my own elementary classroom, I would love to be able to implement several of the same tools that Mrs. Cassidy uses in her class.  I believe that blogging will be a wonderful tool for my students as it will help with so many areas of communication.  It is important that we teach skills such as writing, sharing, and researching at a young age.  It teaches students to be more responsible and more culturally rounded.  This is an extremely important aspect in helping our children develop into more diverse characters.

baby at computer

Growing up in the "South", I have been around so many people who are very close minded when it comes to accepting different cultures.  That's not to all all, but some.  I was very blessed to have a childhood where we traveled to many places around and out of the country.  I believe that this early exposure to other environments and cultures made me more optimistic.  It actually made me more eager to learn more about people and their culture.  By blogging and commenting in the classroom, we give students opportunities that some may not be able to have.  

I also believe that I will use iPads, should they be available, in my classroom.  My son's class has two iPads at least in his classroom.  They use them for a variety of projects.  He feel very very comfortable using this type of technology.  So unless teachers want to be left behind in the dust of their students, they need to hop on board of the tech-yes-train (my made up word) and open some new doors!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blog Assignment #10

Teach or Educate
Do you Teach or Do you Educate? is a powerful video that promotes what it mean to teach versus what it means to educate.  To teach by definition means to show or to explain to someone how to do something.  To educate is to give intellectual, moral and social instruction to someone.  So what do I want to do?  I want to educate!

My purpose is not to cram my students nor my own children full of facts that they will not even retain.  My purpose is to educate, guide, inspire and advise them in life.  That's my main goal.  I want to be there for my students to help them find their way to the solution to a problem.  The feeling that I get when my son figures out something is just priceless.  The light-bulb that goes off in his head once he puts the pieces of the puzzle together glimmers through in his eyes and spirit.  Each of us should strive for that goal.  We are a major facilitator in charge of preparing our students to be able to stand on their own two feet in the future and to teach them to navigate their way to any solution should it be with school, with work, with family or any other challenge.  I intend to use the many skills that I have acquired through parenting, as well as the ones I am currently obtaining here at the University of South Alabama.

the word educate in scrabble game pieces

Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home
John T. Spencer, a.k.a.Tom Johnson's Blog, Adventures in Pencil Integration, discusses dialect between himself and an academic specialist at the his school and the topic of pencils being sent home.  She is rather ridiculously upset because he sends pencils home with the students.  The academic specialist says that according to her research that students who take home pencils have lower standardized test scores.  Tom, replies with how he has met with parents and has been able to demonstrate positive ways to utilize pencils.

Basically, what the conversation boils down to is testing.  I for one believe that standardized testing is not the best way to measure a student's academic abilities.  I know that I refer to my own child many times while writing my posts, but he is the one thing that I see first hand in dealing with a variety of situations at school.  He is ADHD and has a variety of elements in his learning that are not the "standard".  For one, he has a difficult time concentrating on one thing for an extended period of time.  Secondly, the time and "speed" of the testing would create a high stress environment for him and he would more than likely put his pencil down and not even attempt to take the test.  However, he is unbelievably smart.  I am not just saying that because he is my child, but because he has been evaluated by professionals in other ways of testing and does an excellent job in showing his skills.  He is excels in math and in the arts!  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for my little guy.

With that said, I do understand that he will have timed testing situations arise and he does almost weekly now at school.  Thankfully, we have a principal and teacher who work with Brady and his unique situation and allow him to excel to his full academic ability.  I hope in the future that we will be able to come up with another way to test students knowledge more effectively and in a way that those with special needs will be able to receive the score that most accurately reports their academic knowledge.

standardized testing image

Sunday, April 1, 2012

C4T #3 - Summary

Andrea Hernandez is a 2nd grade teacher in Jacksonville, Florida.  In her blog post titled, Using iPads to create eBooks with 2nd Grade, she gives her experience with her students on their creation of an eBook.  The students decided to write their book on "A Week in 2nd Grade".  The students all brainstormed different ideas and jobs that each student has.  It was then decided that each student would be responsible for writing and illustrating one page in the book.

book creator app image

By using the Book Creator app, available on iTunes, the students were able to easily create their eBook to share with friends, family and teachers.  Don't you just LOVE technology!!  How exciting for these students to be able to create a book and then have it easily accessible to those that they love and care about.  I can just feel the sense of accomplishment for these students.

Although, I was not able to figure out how to embed the eBook on this post, I am able to share the link so that you may view the book yourself.

My comment to Mrs. Hernandez discussed my excitement for her students and how I would love to be able to do some of the same projects with my son who is currently in 1st grade.  His class is currently writing a book, however, I am not sure if they will be using the iPads to finalize this project.  I will most definitely be sharing this app and idea with his teacher.

The second comment that I made on Mrs. Hernandez's blog was on her post titled, "Who Moderates Comments on Student Blogs?".  She had a situation where a parent sent her an e-mail asking for reassurance that her child's school blog had adequate spam filters.  Apparently, the student received a product advertisement and the student deleted this post as she should have. The parent asked Mrs. Hernandez if she could approve/disapprove all comments before they became visible to the student.  All of the student's blogs use Akismet as a spam filter, which seems to be very successful in filtering material that should not be viewed on their blogs.  However, as with almost anything, there are on rare occurrences advertisements and such which make it past the filters.  The occurrence with the particular student discussed in the post was one of only a handful that had inappropriate comments.  So what did I think on this subject?  Should students be set as administrators over school blogs?

Stop Spam

As stated in my comment, I think that students have to be given more responsibility when it comes to internet safety.  Children of today were born into a world of technology, whereas, most of their parents were not.  We all know that there are internet dangers, however, it is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to guide them to make the appropriate choice.  The child, for example, in the scenario given knew that the comment in her blog was inappropriate and took it upon herself and deleted it.  The child then told her parent about the comment and the parent, immediately sent an e-mail, expressing her concern.  However, I do believe that setting students as sole administrators would have to be determined by age and maturity level of the class.  I would not want my 1st grader to be the sole administrator for obvious reasons.  If I were teaching or the parent of a 6th grade, I may reconsider.  Mrs. Hernandez handled the situation very well though.  She was able to actually speak to the parent at a school function and were able to determine that the spam situation was only a one time occurrence for the student.  EdTechWorkshop has some great techniques at discussions on the blog.  As Mrs. Hernandez says, "Learn. Reflect. Repeat".

C4K Summary for March

The month of March left us with one student to comment on in EDM 310.  Spring Break and such put our normal commenting a bit off track, however, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed commenting and reading about the student and classroom that I was assigned.  I was assigned to comment on a post written by Georgie, who is a student of Mr. McLoughlin's in Class 12.

Class 12 had a new "fish" friend arrive around March 13, 2012, and they named him Flapper.  Georgie wrote about Flapper's first and second day in the classroom.  Just as any new member of a classroom would be, Flapper seems a little excited and scared all at the same time.  He seemed to hang out at the bottom of his fish bowl the majority of the first day.  However, on the second day, Flapper seems a little more comfortable with his new surroundings.  Georgie seemed to think that if Flapper had some new gravel and plants it would make it a bit more happy with his new home.  

picture of Flapper the gold fish

My comment, to Georgie & Flapper shared in the excitement of going to a new school.  I asked if Flapper was settling in and also asked if he was able to get the new gravel and plants.  Below is a picture of Flapper shared by Mr. McLoughlin.  This teacher is doing a great job in engaging his students with fun blog assignments and other reading assignments.

Flapper the goldfish in a fish bowl

Blog Assignment #9

Mr. Joe McClung
Joe McClung's blog, At the Teacher's Desk, is full of insightful  ideas for future educators and those who are already in the teaching profession.  In his blog post, What I've Learned, Joe shares his experience of what he learned after his first year of teaching.  The first thing you see when you open this post is a picture with a simple message from Mr. McClung.  It reads, "An important decision I made this year is to stay positive."

For me, I think that teaching and parenting have many of the same qualities and techniques used.  As parents, we are our children's first teachers, so in the "parenting" field I have 7 years of experience.  This makes me a little more open to what to expect, because as many of us know you cannot expect your day to go as written on your planner.  With children things are constantly changing and you have to "go with the flow".  This correlates with Mr. McClung's tips: be flexible.  He talks about the perfect lesson and how much we all want to strive for it.  Sometimes, things don't go as planned, and that's okay.  Just do the best you can and make notes of the adjustments for next time.  We just have to stay positive and do the best we can and make the best of any situation.

Another tip that Mr. McClung discusses is to "listen to your students".  This is so important!  I have worked as a substitute for a little while and I serve on the PTO at our school.  One thing that teachers need to be more in-tuned about it listening to their students.  Some students, unfortunately, do not really have a positive atmosphere at home.  I know no one really likes to discuss this, but school is a safe-haven for some children.  When they come to school, they need to be able to talk to their teacher and to have someone who actually listens.  Also, by listening to our students we earn their respect and can build a relationship that has a positive lasting effect.  That's exactly what we all want isn't it?  We want to make a positive life-long effect on our students.

After another year of teaching, Joe McClung decided to write another blog about what he learned.  The first things he writes about is being able to adapt.  All of us should be aware of the fact that our education system has undergone several financial cuts the past few years.  We cannot all expect to graduate and find a job at the exact school we want to teach at, teaching our dream grade.  We have to all be willing to adapt.  Joe found this out and had to step out of his comfort zone to teach 8th graders, instead of 6th graders as he taught in the previous year.  He had to make adjustments with the style of teaching as there is a huge difference in the mental maturity of a 6th grader and an 8th grader.

This blog will be saved on my PLN, as I believe that the tips and ideas shared on this blog will be beneficial for me now and in the future.  As with any job, you have to get in and get your hands dirty to know what's going to make you better.  We all should learn from our mistakes.  As Mr. McClung said, "check your ego at the door".  You cannot bee-bop into a school as a first year teaching thinking that you know everything.  You don't.  You have to be willing to learn and grow continuously -- all while keeping a smile on your face.

comic cartoon of new teaching asking old teacher for advice on getting control of classroom

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blog Assignment #8

the learning train

Dr. Richard Miller
Dr. Richard E. Miller discusses how writing in our culture is undergoing the greatest change in it's history in the video This Is How We Dream - Part 1.  His presentation begins by sharing the importance of books in his childhood and how he always dreamed of working in an environment filled with books.  He was able to accomplish his dream by publishing two books of his own; As if Learning Mattered:  Reforming Higher Education and Writing at the End of the World.  

The idea presented in the video is that the way of teaching has forever changed.  The use of the computer and world wide web gives us the capability to communicate instantly with others across the world.  Though I am only 28 years old, I have seen the way in which we write go from an actually physically manipulating a pencil to now, using word processing software on a computer.  In a few short years, the technology that we use to write has changed drastically.  So what does this mean for my own children?  Will they ever have to write a paper by using pen and paper?  The answer is, probably not.  My oldest child is in first grade.  His classroom has 2 desktop computer and four iPads.  I think that's pretty incredible.  There is even one student who does every bit of his work on the iPad.  He has problems manipulating an actual pencil, so his writing is done by using his fingertip on the iPad.  

I love the use of technology in the classroom and find myself to be a big advocate of it, however; I do believe that basic skills such as reading an actual book and writing with pen and paper are vital skills that need to be taught in elementary levels of education.  I believe that these skills set the foundation for all other educational skills that our children will acquire over time.  Technology is now becoming part of the foundation for our students.  It is our responsibility as educators to help guide our students by using multimedia tools so that they can achieve their academic goals and be prepared for the "real world".

Carly Pugh - Blog Post #12
Carly Pugh, a fellow student at the University of South Alabama, published a wonderful post on her take on an EDM310 assignment.  Carly created a playlist of YouTube videos that basically define her teaching philiosophy.  Her idea is a way to show her beliefs as a teacher and what she expects from her students.

When you compare Carly's post to Dr. Miller's post they have similarities as well as differences.  I think that Carly's approach to teaching combines technology projects such as blogging, podcast, and audio books along with written essays and reports.  Dr. Miller's video to me, is geared toward doing everything on a computer.  I think that my own teaching philosophy is more similar to Carly's.  I am an avid fan of technology, however, I think that by utilizing a combination of traditional teaching techniques with the new modern way of teaching, we will produce a stronger learner.  The expectations that are placed upon students of today are more challenging than in the past.  Carly clearly defines how she will "run" her classroom.  I believe she will be an excellent teacher.

The Chipper Series & EDM Is Different
The Chipper Series really had me laughing.  Chipper is a student who thinks she can "one-up" the system and breeze through life without really giving any effort and still succeed.  She is just looking for the easy way out. She does not believe in deadlines, thinks that she can work when she wants and attempts to just breeze through a series of life events.  Now, we all know that doing that will not get you far at all.  Life is not just served on a gold platter.  To be successful at any career takes time, effort and plenty of hard-work.  Chipper finally comes to the realization that she was going about a career the wrong way.  She finally sees that their is a method to the madness of EDM 310.

No, this class is not a piece of cake.  It is completely different than most other classes that we have taken over our education careers, but look at what all we can do now.  For me anyway, I can start a blog from scratch, make podcasts, tweet, use Google Docs, and several other new programs.  EDM is different, but I am so glad that it is.  Thinking differently makes you stand out and helps us to create new ideas.  Every piece of technology we have is because someone chose to think differently.

I have watched every video assigned to us (to the best of my knowledge), and I believe that the previous students have done a fantastic job of creating How-To videos for myself and my fellow classmates.  The videos created have been instrumental to my success in EDM 310.  Though I do not have an idea for a video right now, I do hope to create one in the near future.  One thing that I have done, that I am proud of is my Prezi presentation that I did for my podcast.  One of the requirements for our podcast for Project #8 was that it had to be created in iMovie.  I had a bit of a challenge, but with guidance from Stephen, I was able to record the audio of my Prezi by using ScreenFlow on the Mac.  From that point I was able to import the file into iMovie and then I was able to attach it to the rest of our podcast clips.  Here is the final product of my Prezi.

photo of the earth with people holding hands around it

Learn to Change, Change to Learn
The time for change is now in our educational system in the United States.  The video Learn to Change, Change to Learn is comprised of a variety of people who are knowledgeable of education of today.  The thing that caught my attention right off the bat in this video was a statistic given by the U.S. Department of Commerce.  They ranked 55 industry sectors by their level of IT intensiveness.  Education was ranked number 55, the lowest below coal mining.  That says it all right there people.  It's time for our education system to step up to the plate and get on-board with the new way of "learning"!

Every afternoon, I pick my son up from school.  The first thing I ask him was if he had a good day.  Typically, he says, "Yes ma'am.  I got a G".  The second thing I ask is, "what did you do today?"  Almost always, I get the same answer in some sort of mumble...."I don't know".   I know that he does not do the same thing every single day, and we are blessed with a wonderful teacher; however, I want my child to get in the car and be excited to tell me something exciting that he learned at school.  This is every mother's dream to listen to their child tell a new and exciting thing that they learned.  We have had those moments, but I am eager for more.  I believe that there is so much more that we can do for our children to get them excited about learning.

I am on the edge of my seat, waiting for the day when I can walk into a classroom that's mine with a class full of elementary students.  I want to be the teacher of that student who cannot wait to get into their parents car to tell them all of the exciting things that we did in school that day.  Not just once every now and then, but every day.  Everyday is an opportunity to learn.  I would like to close by quoting Ken Kay, President of Partnership of 21st Century Skills, e-Luminate Group who said, "it's the dawn of learning, that makes me very happy".

Scavenger Hunt 2.0
So I absolutely LOVE this assignment!  Thank you Justin Cometti for suggesting this as an assignment.  After viewing the video on Justin's blog and then venturing over to Discovery Education's Web 20.11 site, the sun-light become a little brighter for me.  I am one of those people who gets very excited when I discover new tools that can help me be a "better" me.  Better me equals better teacher equals better students.

Here is my list:
1.  The social networking site that I found that holds a platform for teachers is SMART Board Revolution.  I happily joined this site because I know that it will be beneficial for me not only as a teacher, but as a student at South Alabama.  Within this site there are forums, blogs, videos, document sharing files, chat rooms, groups and other helpful tips and links for educators to communicate and collaborate with one another.  By creating these online communities we can assist one another and improve on so many areas of teaching in the classroom.

2.  The presentation site that created the Teaching in the 21st Century video, I believe to be Prezi.  I have used this website several times already for this class and I will continue to utilize this site in the future.  What I love about Prezi is that it gives you the opportunity to create a unique and memorable presentation.  Its not just slide, slide, slide.  It creates movement, which engages the mind to pay better attention to the material.  I believe that mixing up presentation sites will help keep our students on their toes.

3.  I decided to create a poll by using Poll Everywhere.  Check out my poll and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blog Assignment #7

networking students chart

Wendy Drexler - The Networked Student
The majority of my education I sat in a desk with my book, my paper and my pen and listened to lectures given my teachers and professors.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I found myself daydreaming or doodling in my notebook.  Even though I was an A/B student, I was bored.  Then, one day in high school I decided to take a class called TV Production.  This class was so interactive and gave us "the students" opportunities to be creative, use technology and put our skills to the test.  I will never forget how excited I was to go to that class.  Almost everyday I use skills that I acquired in TV Production.  That was over 13 years ago.  

Now, technology in the classroom is becoming more prevalent.  I love that.  I think technology is a way for teachers and students to work together and helps keep the classroom an exciting place to be to grow and learn together.  By using a PLN, students can interact with other students from all over the world who are interested in researching and learning about a specific topic.  They can share this information easily by using webmixes, wiki's, blogs and other sites.  In Wendy Drexler's video The Networked Student, you can see how networking is a great way for students to learn.  

I love the idea of a student actually reaching out to a professor or scientist in a particular field of study to learn and hear their expert opinions.  This learning approach has to be a bigger part of teaching in the 21st Century.  I want my students to know how to be proficient, effective and responsible learners.  It is my job as their teacher to guide them and be there for support as it is needed.  With technology the possibilites are endless.

school is fun image

A 7th Graders Personal Learning Environment (or PLN)
A 7th Grade student discusses how she uses her PLN, Personal Learning Environment, in this video.  Her PLN is created by using Symbaloo, which is the same site that I used for my own PLN.  In the video she gives a small tour of her PLN and how she has everything organized.  Her PLN is color coded, just  like mine is.  I actually got some ideas for mine by seeing how she organized her own.  For instance, I have all of my education tiles set up on the top left corner of my PLN.  Hers are all along the bottom row.  This makes it easy to find information, so that work and assignments can quickly and easily be completed.  I believe that a PLN is continuously growing and changing with you, just as life changes.  As stated in my PLN Progress Report, I think that setting up a PLN for my son would be very helpful for  him on his own personal computer.  I could have education tiles set up for him and games that I have approved for him to play on another.  This will help open his eyes to a different approach with learning.  With kids, especially the younger grades, you have to teach by using methods that are fun and easy for them to remember information.  Even if the information is hard, by using a fun approach they will be able to learn it.  It's all about the method.  Furthermore, a PLN is one tool that can be beneficial and assist students to take that step to becoming a responsible learner with technology.

Project #9b - Prezi

Monday, March 5, 2012

C4T #2 - Summary

Jeff Delp is a K-12 Administrator, a self-proclaimed sports fanatic, and technology junkie.  His blog Molehills out of Mountains is full of insightful tips and lessons.  The title of the blog says so much to me.  There have been times in my life when I see a "mountain", an obstacle, and feel intimidated.  It is so easy for one to turn around an accept defeat, but that shouldn't happen.  No one should ever claim defeat if they never even try.  Turn those mountains into molehills and accomplish your goals and dreams.

Comment #1
In his blog post Productivity Tools for Educators, Mr. Delp provides a list of apps that he finds useful in his day-to-day life being a School Administrator.  These tools help him manage his time for effectively and also help him to be more efficient with his work.  The list of tools include the following:  Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Posterous, and Twitter.  His last sentence, he says, "Whether using one of these applications, or anything else, the key is to find tools that work for you and share your experiences with others".

I commented on how much I rely on my iPhone to keep me organized.  Without my phone I would not have a clue as to what is going on with my busy schedule.  I not only have my school schedule and deadlines to keep up with, but my photography business schedule, as well as, my oldest son's schedule.  To be only 7 years old, he sure has a busy week between practices and church events.  After reading his post I downloaded Wunderlist.  I have only added a few tasks to the app, but I believe that once I start adding more stuff I will be able to utilize it more.  

Comment #2
The second post that I commented on is titled, "My New Year's Resolution:  Fail Frequently".  It describs Delp's view on starting a new year.  It happens every year at 12:00 am on January 1st.  We all get a "fresh" start in our lives and have are ready to make changes.  In order to change, you must take a chance.  Sometimes with change, comes failure.  Failure is just a part of the the changing process.  It makes us look at our actions and see where we need to make adjustments, so that we may succeed.  

photo that says failure is a part of life, if you don't fail, you don't learn, if you don't learn you'll never change

This year, I decided to make a few changes in my life.  I decided to be a healthier person in general.  This includes losing weight, becoming more organized and getting back in school.  My mind was made up that I was going to accomplish every one of these goals, and I have.  Since December, I have lost 30 pounds, cleaned out closets and other cluttered spaces, and right now I am working on my blog for school.  Ah -- it feels so great to feel like I am accomplishing something.  However, I will say that there have been moments where I have wanted to stop, but it just takes me looking at my children to see that I am not only doing these things for me, but for them.  As Albert Einstein says, "The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.  I cannot be changed without changing our thinking." 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Project #10 - My PLN

I created my PLN by using Symbaloo.  A PLN reminds me of  Pinterest, which is a tile on my webmix,  for the world wide web.  I am totally obsessed with "pinning" and easily found myself diving into creating tiles for my Personal Learning Network.  It was easy for me to fill in the blanks for my home webmix, but I obviously have much more to learn with this site.  
my PLN

My PLN will be extremely helpful for me in my everyday life.  What I love about it is the organization of the tiles.  Everything that I use daily is all easy for me to see and navigate to all on one homepage.  I have the top left corner dedicated to educational tiles that I frequently use.  The right top corner is dedicated to social networking sites that I use, while the left mid-section is my business sites.  I would also like to create a PLN for my son on his computer.  I think that it will helpful for him to have a PLN with websites that he frequently uses.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

C4K Summary for February

I had the pleasure of commenting on four different children for "Comments 4 Kids" during the month of February.  My first student was a kid named Alec.  He is a student in Mr. William Chamberlain's class.  Alec's blog post was about the science experiment steps.  He gave step-by-step instructions on growing a bean and even included a photo.  I commented on his page, but it seems my comment is still awaiting confirmation.  I wrote to Alec in a comment post about how much I liked science.  I remember doing the bean growing experiment when I was in school.  I think Alec did a great job writing the different steps in his science experiment.  I look forward to frequently checking back on his blog. 

The second student that I commented on is a 4th grade student of Kasey Huebner's in Iowa.  Their blog is titled Early Kids Blog.  The students were able to have free writing during the week that I commented.  My assigned student posted spells from Harry Potter.  You could definitely tell through reading her other posts that she was an avid Harry Potter fan.  I commented how I thought the Harry Potter series were an adventure to read.  I also asked her if she had ever had been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.  I would love to have an opportunity to visit their myself!

I love blogging photo

The third student that I commented on is Jailyn who is a student of Mrs. Garcia's Awesome Class Blog.  Jailyn's post was on the Rick Hansen Relay.  Before reading her post, I had never heard of Rick Hansen.  This peaked my curiosity so I did a little research and was moved by the life that Rick Hansen had lead.  I urge each of you reading to watch this video created by Mrs. Garcia's class.  Jailyn posted about what they did on their special day.  I commented about how well the students did on creating the video.  I also asked Jailyn what her favorite thing play on the playground.  I mentioned how my son likes to play on the slides.  

My most recent C4K was for a 5th grade student in Mrs. T.G.'s class.  This student lives in Iowa.  My student was 5TG1 GA.  His post was about family vacations and how he believes that his family should take one to have fun together.  He directed the post to his parents and gave a variety of reasons why he thinks they should take a family vacation.  A few places that he mentioned for the vacation was Cancun, Mexico, Disney Land or SeaWorld.  I commented on how fun family vacations are and how family vacations are a time for families to come together, have fun and make life-long lasting memories.  It's not about how much money you spend or where you go.  It's about the time spend together.  

I think "Commenting for Kids" is my favorite part of our EDM class so far.  I love reading the blog posts written by the students.  I am very impressed with their technology skills.  Blogging can help students with a variety of skills including communication, writing, technology, reading comprehension and many more.  This will definitely be something that I hope to do with my future students.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blog Assignment #6

The Last Lecture
If there ever was a lecture to watch, this one is it!  Dr. Randy Pausch, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, gave his famous speech known as the Last Lecture-Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.  This is not the first, nor the second time that I have watched this inspirational speech.  It really just pulls at my heart strings because of my own personal experiences with cancer in my family.  My mother was diagnosed in 2010 with an inoperable stage 4 glioblastoma, otherwise known as brain cancer.   Through this tough time in my life, I needed something to help me deal with the emotional struggles that come when a family member has been diagnosed with cancer.  A friend of mine gave me a copy of the book The Last Lecture and said, "read it". 

My mother's brain tumor 2/22/2010

The book and the lecture helped me to see that each day is a blessing.  I had two choices, I could either "A" choose to ball up in a corner and cry about our situation or I could "B" enjoy every second and live the life that God has given me.  Like Dr. Pausch said, "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand".  Obviously, choice "B" seemed like it would be more fun.  So, that's exactly what I did.  I let go of the questions, and the "what ifs' and enjoyed the time and adventures with my mother.  Two years later, she is still going strong.  I fully believe that it is because we chose to be positive in our lives instead of negative.  Your body reacts to feeling happy.  Even if you think you cannot make it through...well I say you can by putting a smile on your face and by staring adversity in the eyes. 

Non-active tumor as of July 2011

One thing that really stood out for me during the lecture was his view on brick walls.  He said, "The brick walls are not there to keep us out.  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough".  This directly applies to me with school.  I am 28 years old and I have been trying for the past 6 years to be able to come back to school and finish one of my dreams to become a teacher.  My family life had to be put first and my dream second for many years.  Then just as soon as I had everything set and settled -- BAM--cancer decided to step in.  For over a year and a half, I resigned from my job and took care of my mother.  This was a blessing in disguise.  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.  I gained so many life experiences , many of which are positive, from my mother's diagnosis. Now, thankfully and graciously, she is better and I can take a pen and put a check mark beside school.  

Not only do the inspirational quotes apply to me and my family, they also apply to what I feel are important lessons as a teacher.  He stated in his lecture, "you've got to get the fundamentals down, otherwise all that fancy stuff isn't going to work".  Being an Elementary Education teacher, fundamentals are a major part of what I will be teaching my students.  Reading, for example, to me is the utmost important fundamental that needs to be taught and comprehended.  I personally have seen so many kids struggle with reading.  If they cannot master their reading skills at an early age then they will more than likely struggle with all of their other subjects.  Secondly, he discusses how cool it is for us to teach students something without them know that they are even learning.  That's the best type of learning! 

Dr. Randy Pausch holding his children

Dr. Randy Pausch was an inspirational man.  He knew the secret to life and that is family.  Family is the most important thing of all.  They are the ones who are there for us in times of rejoicing and times of sorrow.  In an interview with Diane Sawyer, I was so touched by his words when speaking of his children.  He said that he was more sadden by the fact that his children will not have him there for them when they needed him.  This man was a great professor, a great creator, a great leader, a great spouse, but mostly to me, he was a great father.  His Last Lecture wasn't for you or me, but for his children.  His last days were for them to have happy memories with their father and of their father.  To me, that is the best of all.  His legacy will live on through his work and positive outlook on life as shown in his lecture. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blog Assignment #5

Dr. Scott McLeod
Dangerously Irrelevant, is a blog created by Dr. Scott McLeod.  He uses a unique and sarcastic approach in the blog post, Don't teach your kids this stuff. Please? to parents, teachers, administrators and board members regarding youth and their use of technology.  I was a bit taken off guard at the structure and look of the post.  It is written in a not so typical sentence structure, yet gets the point across with great perfection.  In my blog assignment #2, there is a link to the Did You Know? series that was created by Dr. McLeod.  He is the Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky, as well as, the Founding Director of UCEA CASTLE.

When you first begin to read the post you think that Dr. McLeod is against technology and how it can make bad impressions on our youth.  He says that we need to "block it all, shut it down" because all social networking, cell phones and blogging does is make our kids unsafe and expose them to too many different things. He says that kids "can't be trusted".  Then right at the end he says, "don't do any of it, please.  Really, cause I'm doing it with my kids". I am right there with him.  We have to teach our students about using technology wisely, efficiently and responsibly. It is a well-known fact, that the jobs that the majority of them will be doing will be technology-based to some degree.  These jobs are not even created yet.  As an educator, it is our responsibility to help guide them and give them the tools that they need to succeed and be contributing citizens to our country and worldwide as well.  Also, I personally know that I don't want to be left in the dust of my students or my own kids.  I want to be right them with them learning and growing.  Just because we get our degree and teaching certificate does not mean that we have learned all we need to know.   Learning should never stop.  As a teacher, you have to be able to adapt and evolve with the latest and greatest teaching methods and technologies available.  If you disagree, then maybe you should take a look at another field of study.

future tablet computer with image of apple

Travis Allen
In 2009, 17 year old high school student, Travis Allen created a YouTube video called the "iSchool Initiative" showing a solution to our current education problems in the United States.  This 5:42 video discusses how our school system can save money and at the same time allow students, teachers and parents all access to the student's work, assignments, school events, test scores and more.  Travis' proposal is for every student to own and use the iPod Touch interface system in place of books, pens, calculators, planners & other required school materials.  By using this technology, schools would save on average about $500 per student.  This would not only help schools become more "GREEN" friendly, but would also be a great opportunity for schools to put money back into the system.  Wouldn't it be great it schools could hire more teachers, instead of laying so many off and continue to overcrowd classrooms.

I believe that Travis is onto a brilliant idea.  I also know that some schools are already trying to take the initiative and convert from books and paper to iPads, as well as, MacBooks.  All of these products are created by Apple.  I personally rely on my iPhone for many of the same app features to help me with school here at USA.  Since 2009 there have been thousands of new apps created to help improve and assist students, teachers and other professionals within our school system.  I look forward to seeing the many great things that Travis Allen will accomplish for our education system.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
Eric Whitacre is a very well-known composer and public speaker.  He gave an amazing and one-of-a-kind performance in "Lux Aurumque" ,a virtual choir performance, which can be viewed here on YouTube.  The choir consists of 185 singers from 12 different countries.  My first thoughts were how beautiful and peaceful the voices of these performers are.  They harmonize and synchronize with such impeccable grace.  I felt like I was floating in an ocean as the waves rolled underneath me.  My mind then wandered as to how the heck did this guy put this thing together.  I can only imagine the time and planning that would be necessary to undergo a project of this magnitude.  It is just truly amazing how these people from all over were so unified in their performance.  With an internet connection and a computer, you can virtually go anywhere and do anything.  The possibilities truly are endless.  Bravo to Mr. Whitacre and his genius production!  If you would like to learn more about the virtual choir and how it began, please click here to watch learn more.

road sign that says the future next exit

Teaching in the 21st Century
Kevin Roberts created a video about teaching in the 21st Century.  After watching the video, I sat and thought about the questions asked.  What does it mean to teach in the 21st Century?  I believe that it means that teachers have a much different job then they did when I was being taught.  All my life, I was just presented with facts, theories, methods, and stories about things that did not interest me one bit.  Regardless of my interest, my mom expected me to do very well, so I did.  I read my books, took my test, wrote essays and completed papers on a variety of topics that did not apply to my life at all.  Of course, this was not a complete waste, but 10 years later after graduating high school I can only name a handful of lessons taught by teachers that really stand out.  The ones that I do remember were way ahead of their time.  I am grateful to those who stepped outside of the box.  Now I am 28 years old, and I do find myself to be fairly bright, but it's not from making all A's on my report card.  It's because I was released into the world and had figure it out.  I had to learn new skills that actually applied to my life.  I learned how to create a budget, how to do my taxes, how to change a tire, how to cook a meal.  The lists could go on and on.  I learned these things because I did them with my own hands.

Hands on learning is "engaging".  That type of learning stays with a person forever.  You learn how to ride your bike not by reading about it, but by doing it.  As teachers of the 21st Century, I believe that we must engage and interact with our students by using technology based programs and software that will allow them to learn tools that they will need to be able to apply to their lives.  Some parents and teachers may find technology threatening or have  concerns with cheating, or mis-use of computers, iPods, cell phones and other gadgets.  Ask yourself this...why not teach and guide our students on how to responsibly and professionally utilize technology to create, learn, communicate, and write.  Technology is just like any other problems parents and teachers have been concerned about in the past.  We worry about sex and drinking, but we are continuously educating our students on this subject matter so they can make better choices and see the big picture.  The same thing has to be done with technology.  You may not want them to use it, but if they are wouldn't you rather them use it safely, wisely and to their benefit to help them achieve success?  I know as a parent and educator, I sure do.  I want my children to be smart and successful.  I want them to use all parts of their brain.  I want them to have opportunities to be creative and figure things out on their own.  These kids are born in a world where all they have ever known is technology.  They are more comfortable with it than many adults out there because most adults have had to adapt to it and incorporate it into their lives.  Another point I would like to make is that technology gives students who may be limited financially to be able to learn about other cultures just from having an internet connection.  I think that kids who are more exposed to more culture and diversity grow up into more well-rounded individuals.

little boy reading a book

Reading Rockets
Reading Rockets is a website whose goal is to bring reading research to life and to help spread the word on "what works" for parents, teachers and administrators.  As a parent of a First Grade child, I was thrilled to learn about the tools and techniques available for me to help improve my son's reading.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, he is ADHD, so we have to work a little harder at keeping his attention.  At home, we have a book corner and encourage reading and writing daily.  We have had to change our reading strategy a few times.  Just like this website says regarding struggling readers, we had to find books that he could make a personal and emotional connection with.

From a teaching standpoint, I was amazed with the quantity of resources available through this page.  Reading Topics from A to Z is very thorough.  The topics are listed in alphabetical order ranging from "About Reading" to "Writing".  There also is a link for Videos and Podcasts.  I think that this would be quite engaging for students to read a book and learn a little about the author via these multimedia tools.  I think it would be nice for them to put a face and a voice with the person who wrote the story.  Reading is all about making connections.  It is the basis for EVERYTHING in our lives.  If a child is not able to read, then they will struggle without a doubt academically.  The parents need to also be made aware of websites such as Reading Rockets.  A successful reader not only learns at school, but parents have to encourage and help teach their child at home.  It is a combination of both.  I will most definitely be looking at resources on here that I believe can help my son and myself create stronger reading skills.