Monday, May 7, 2007

As many of us noticed this past Wednesday, we were sad to leave some of our classes!!! Sad to leave an educational environment!!! When does that ever happen??? I have never been sad to leave class...ever!

We have all been in classes with hundreds of people where the professor lectures for the whole class period. We have been in classes with many people that we have never spoken to because we never had the opportunity, but the education program has been quite the opposite. Our classes are very small and we have the same people in most of our classes. This has helped to create a trusting network and we are able to help each other out when we need it. I have never been more engaged in my classes or more enthusiastic about the material until this semester.

From my professors and classmates, I have learned the most valuable lesson of all. This lesson cannot be found in a textbook, or an Internet site, or from a research article…it was found in the network I luckily fell into. I am certain that not many students can say that they have had as close of a network as the Undergraduate Elementary Education class of 2008. I am so blessed to have my classmates cheer me on when I am teaching a lesson, to have professors say, “You are intelligent and I believe you will change someone’s life for the better,” and to have my peers as well as professors encourage my creativity and help me flourish as an educator. If I have gained anything at all from this semester, it is a tremendous gain in confidence that comes from people truly believing in you. I look forward to having this network in the future as a constant stream of support.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Tapped In

Tapped In has been one of the most frequent tools we have used in class. We were asked to post or comment at least twice a week. Tapped In has been a great networking tool and a way to get to know the other class and the mentors. It was also great that there were so many different threads with diverse topics so we could choose what we wanted to talk about.

Although this tool had a lot of positive aspects, I personally liked this tool the least, simply because it was a constant commitment. The only Internet tools I used prior to this class were email and Facebook. I check both of those frequently and I think that I have been so used to only using those two that any other similar tool was too much to remember. Sometimes it was frustrating to read Tapped In posts because I did not find anything that sparked my interest. Other times I wanted to post a million times! I loved the folder "Must See" because the videos had important messages for not only teachers, but for everyone. I sent quite a few of the videos to my mom and she said she teared up when she saw the video "Molding Lives, One year can impact a student forever."

Overall I do see how Tapped In is a great tool and it could be a tremendous tool in the classroom. Teachers could connect with other teachers to share videos. Teahcers can also use this tool to keep in contact with other teachers and get ideas and feedback from teachers all around the world. Teachers can also use this tool when they run out of class time and they can ask students to post for homework.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lesson incorporating technology

My cooperating teacher and I decided that I should teach my lesson to a smaller group because the lesson did not fit with what they were learning now. I took my group of six students into the hallway and we sat in a circle. First, I asked them how their days were going and if they were excited for the weekend. While they were telling me about their days, I passed out the materials and asked the students not to touch the materials until I gave them permission. I handed out the calculators and gave them one minute to play with them. I then asked the students to clear their calculators and place their calculators flat on their slate boards. I then proceeded with the lesson by showing and telling the students to press the following buttons: [1] [+] [1] [=] [+] [1] [=], etc. I practiced this with the students about 5 times because many students were struggling. I gave the students one minute to do the button sequence in the calculator and then asked the students to put their calculator down and write the number on their slate board. We then discussed who has the smallest number and I asked that student to line up with their board. The student with the next smallest number lined up after the first student and so forth until all of the students were in numerical order. I then introduced the phrase “slash the trash.” This phrase was used to take away the two outer numbers until a median is determined. The students were entertained with this phrase. I introduced the term “median” and explained that it meant the same as the middle number. After we found the median, we repeated the lesson two more times.

In the future I could have explained the button process better because the students were very confused. Using an overhead projector with a calculator for the overhead would have helped tremendously. It was difficult for me to show the students what to press on the calculator when I was just holding it in my hand. I also felt like the lesson would have been just as successful with more students. More students would have been more challenging for the students.

Like every interaction with my students, this lesson helped me further to think on my feet. I further learned to ask guiding questions. Also, I saw the effects of being a supportive teacher. When one student was sitting properly and waiting for instructions I offered praise and the other students imitated that student.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Missing Piece Meets the Big Shel Silverstein

Sunday night, my sister IM'd me and I responded in a rude and annoyed fashion because I was busy working on a project.

"The missing piece sat alone...
waiting for someone
to come along
and take it somewhere."

Monday afternoon, I walked through Lodge One and saw people glued to the television. I stopped to see what they were looking at. Virginia Tech Massacre.

"Some fit...
but could not roll
Others could roll
but did not fit.
One didn't know a thing about fitting.
And another didn't know a thing about anything.
One was too delicate.
One put it on a pedestal...
and left it there.
Some had too many pieces missing.
Some had too many pieces, period.
It learned to hide from the hungry ones.
More came.
Some looked too closely.”

Monday afternoon, my sister did not pick up her phone the first time I tried to call. I called my mother and she assured me my sister was ok. My sister then called me and assured me she was fine and safe. I felt so guilty because I blew her off the night before. I told her I was busy. I told her I did not have time for her. I did not say, "I love you."

Others rolled right by without noticing.
It tried to make itself more attractive...
It didn't help.
It tried being flashy.
but that just frightened away the shy ones."

Tuesday afternoon, I kept begging her to come home, but she is stubborn. It runs in the family.

"At last one came along that fit just right.
But all of a sudden...
the missing piece began to grow!
And grow!
'I didn't know you were going to grow.'
'I didn't know it either,' said the missing piece.
'I'm lookin' for my missin' piece, one that won't increase....'
one came along who looked different.
'What do you want of me?' asked the missing piece.
'Nothing .'
'What do you need from me?'
Wednesday afternoon, she decided to come home. I went to the bookstore and decided to find something that would express how I feel. I came across the book "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O" by Shel Silverstein.

'Who are you?' asked the missing piece.
'I am the Big O,' said the Big O.
'I think you are the one I have been waiting for,' said the missing piece. 'Maybe I am your missing piece.'
'But I am not missing a piece,' said the Big O.
'There is no place you would fit.'
'That is too bad,' said the missing piece.
'I was hoping that perhaps I could roll with you....'
'You cannot roll with me,' said the Big O,
'but perhaps you can roll by yourself.'
'By myself? A missing piece cannot roll by itself.'
'Have you ever tried?' asked the Big O.
'But I have sharp corners,' said the missing piece.
'I am not shaped for rolling.'
'Corners wear off,' said the Big O, 'and shapes change.
Anyhow, I must say good-bye..
Perhaps we will meet again....'
And away it rolled.
The missing piece was alone again."

Wednesday evening, a 20 year old sat in the children's books' section and read this short simple story, but found a strong and courageous message.

"For a long time it just sat there.
Then... slowly... it lifted itself up on one end...and flopped over.
Then lift...pull...flop...
it began to move forward....
And soon its edges began to wear off...
and its shape began to change...
and then it was bumping instead of flopping...
and then it was bouncing instead of bumping...
and then it was rolling instead of bouncing....
And it didn't know where and it didn't care.
It was rolling!"

I guess my point is that the strength children have is the same strength that adults need. These simple books with a few words on each page have more meaning than a 400-page novel. Always remember to say you love someone whether you are fifty-years old or five-years old.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Technology Final Project

Last week I began working on my Final Project for Technology. I decided to get started early because this project will be somewhat of a long process with the kids. My final project consist of creating a story with some students. After speaking with my cooperating teacher, we decided that working with the same five students every time will be more productive because the students will hopefully remember what was previously created. The small group of students will brainstorm a storyline and I will record their thoughts. I will also be responsible for editing the story. The students will illustrate pictures that tell the story on white sheets of paper. I will then scan the pictures and compile them into a slideshow or podcast. The final part of this project will be recording the students reading parts of the story and then adding the narration to the podcast.

After my cooperating teacher selected five students for this project, I took the group into the hall and explained the project. I knew the kids would be excited to write their own story, but I had no idea it was going to be so hard to keep them focused! I think I may have given them a little too much freedom because the story they came up with was very creative! I wanted the story to have educational freedom so I tried to shift the focus of the story to mathematics while still keeping most of their ideas. They gladly shifted the story and came up with math problems like 8+8=16. I was so impressed. These are kindergartners and they picked a difficult math problem! Some students did not even have to count on their fingers because they already knew the answer! So far we decided to use their school mascot as the superhero and the superhero's superpower is solving math problems! I am very excited about this project so hopefully it will work out! I'll keep everyone posted!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Kagan Style Spring Break

My Spring Break was not exactly in the Bahamas, but it was near the beach...only I actually never made it to the beach. I went home to Virginia Beach and observed various grade levels in the mornings and then worked during the evenings. Yes I know what you're're jealous of my fabulous Spring Break. Although I dreaded the early mornings at the time, it paid off in the end because I found a teaching style that I fell in love with.

I observed several teachers, most with unique teaching styles, but I was extremely impressed with a young energetic first grade teacher. She allowed me to observe and participate in her class and I could not help but be amazed by the cute songs she used to keep the students focused and attentive. Many of the songs and catch phrases she used reinforced the idea of giving positive support to fellow peers. She later informed me that this style was from Kagan's Cooperative Learning Theory. She told me that if I want to teach in the Virginia Beach area I absolutely need to get this training because teachers that use the Kagan style are highly sought after in the beach area.

The teacher I observed let me look through the book and binder she received during the training workshop she attended. The book explained why cooperative learning was the better way to teach children. It answered questions, such as, "If the work world is so competitive, why would cooperative learning benefit students?" The response was that statistically most people get fired because they cannot get along with co-workers rather than a lack of skills. The book was also filled with games that can be used in the classroom or outside. As I mentioned before, there were many songs and catch phrases such as, "You rock!" The students would ball one of their hands in a fist and put it in the air. Another way to give praise that I absolutely loved was "Hip Hip Hooray!" The kids would put their left hand on their left hip while saying "hip," then repeat that on the other side and when saying "hooray," the students would wiggle in their seats. Both of these little catch phrases with movement were used after a student performed well in class. Dr. Spencer and Laurie Kagan head training workshops that are offered through out the year or during the summer and I encourage everyone to check out their website at:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gender Matters?

“Gender Matters” by Amy Standen
While looking for an interesting article to read for this blog, “Gender Matters” automatically caught my eye. This article was very informative because it gave opposing arguments as to why there should be gender-segregated schools and why there should be co-ed classes. Some researchers, such as Whitney Ransome, felt that "…Girls' schools expect the best from their students, expect them to achieve, and expect them to be participants in the nontraditional subjects." In regard to male students, other research, like the books Hear Our Cry: Boys in Crisis and The War Against Boys, “argue that coed schools actually discourage boys from self-confidence and success.”
I feel as though I am in a conflicted stance in regards to this issue. On the one hand, I am a female and a minority so I am against segregation because everyone is equal and no gender or ethnicity needs help because they are all equal, but the obvious problem is that not everyone is treated equally. The issue of conflict for me is that these gender-segregated schools have produced environments that eliminate distractions and in result have these immaculate students. In our Foundations class, I remember hearing from a female and male student that attended gender-segregated high schools and they only had positive things to say. They had the same responses: there were no distractions inferring that the opposite sex poses a distraction. When most of us think back to high school, it was a time in our lives when we were able to slack off and concentrate on the social aspect so naturally the interest of dating was a part of the high school years. Of course segregation is wrong, but if this type of separation is helping both genders academically, I am all for it. The 49ers academy that primarily caters to low-income students is brilliant. My friend that tutors at various Newport News schools informed me that last year only 17 black males graduated from 3 different high schools in Newport News. 17 total!!! I did not look up the empirical evidence, but to even know that it may be true is painful in itself. It is unfortunate that most low-income families tend to be minorities, but it is comforting to know that the 49er Academy has eliminated some distractions and has helped. Basically as educators, we need to do what works and this type of segregation seems to be working.