Friday, May 20, 2011

Journal 9 - Teaching Green (NETS-T I, II, III)

Waters, John. (2011). Teaching green. The Journal, 38(4), Retrieved from

Summary: Throughout this article author John Waters discussed a multitude of educational websites that address the National Environmental Education Act, which was enacted by President Nixon in the 1960s.  All the websites Waters discusses provide teachers and students with resources about “ teaching and learning.”  The first website Waters discusses is Classroom Earth.  This site, designed for high school level students, encourages the inclusion of environmental sciences into other high school subjects.  The site includes resources for both students and teachers.  The second source is Walk in the Woods, which is designed for early elementary-level students.  The purpose of the site is to expose young children to nature by giving them access to a virtual tour of the woods, pictures, and notes.  The third site, Environmental Education for Kids, is designed for student in late elementary school or middle school.  Designed as an online magazine students have access to lessons which inform students to a variety of environmental subjects.  The fourth site, The Ecological Footprint Quiz, allows students to take a quiz to determine their personal environmental footprint, thus encouraging them to live more sustainably.  The fifth site, Power Up, is an online multi-player game in which players attempt to save a foreign world from environmental disasters.  The final site is the US Environmental Protection Agency Teaching Center, which is a teacher focused site that offers resources and lesson plans divided for specific grade levels.

Question 1:  Which of these sites will be most valuable in your classroom?

Answer 1: Of all the sites provided by Waters the most valuable in my classroom will be Classroom Earth.  As a potential high school history teacher I know the environmental sciences can be included in my lesson plan, perhaps more than other subjects.  I think the other sites are either not grade appropriate or the responsibility of the science teachers.

Question 2: As an educator how can you incorporate these tools in your classroom?

Answer 2: To me the most important piece of this article was how it did not focus entirely on science.  As previously stated Classroom Earth can be implemented in any classroom, regardless of subject.  The Footprint Quiz can also be used in any class because it can be used to promote a reflection paper.  Power-up also addresses the growing fascination of video games.  Students enjoy having fun, especially when they don’t know they are learning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Journal 8 - Point/Counterpoint: Should Schools be Held Responsible for Cyberbullying? (NETS-T IV)

Bogacz, R., & Gordillo, M.G. (2011). Point/counterpoint: should schools be held responsible for cyberbullying?. Learning and Leading with Technology, 38(6), Retrieved from

Summary: The entirety of this short article is to address the two sides of the question, “Should schools be held responsible for cyberbullying?”  The first section of the article is written by Renee Bogacz, a language arts teacher of 20 years, who argues that schools should be the most responsible for cyberbullying.  According to Bogacz cyberbullying cannot be prevented if the school and its administrators are not prepared or willing to fight cyberbullying.  Bogacz states that combating cyberbullying is a team effort that requires the involvement of teachers, school administrators, parents, and the students.  In terms of teachers they have a duty to both learn about cyberbullying and know the appropriate steps for dealing with it.  Administrators need to develop strict yet clear guidelines for cyberbullying and be prepared to enforce them.  Parents should be able to track their child’s online activity while their children must be willing to stand up for themselves and other students.

The second author, Miguel Gomez Gordillo, argues that schools should not be the most responsible when it comes to the issue of cyberbullying.  Gordillo believes that the group most responsible for cyberbullying are parents.  According to Gordillo the reason many students commit acts of cyberbullying is because they do not receive enough attention from their parents and thus turn to bullying as an outlet.  Gordillo’s suggestion for combating cyberbullying is to educate parents on how to provide love and support for their children.  The purpose of schools in this circumstance is to try and implement an educational system for parents, although they are not necessarily obligated to do so.

Question 1: Who do you believe should be responsible for cyberbullying?

Answer 1: I agree with Renee Bogacz in that schools should be held the most responsible for cyberbullying.  If a student is physically bullied at school it is the responsibility of the school to both stop that bullying and administer repercussions for the bully.  I further agree with Bogacz in her statement that all parties have their part to play and if one or more don’t follow through cyberbullying cannot be prevented.  Therefore if cyberbullying does occur it is not one groups fault but rather the collective community.

Question 2: What should be the punishments for cyberbullying?

Answer 2: In my personal opinion, without a firm understanding of current punishments for traditional bullying, I believe a cyberbully should be punished as a physical bully is.  I don’t believe any distinction should be made.  A cyberbully has the capability to attack a victim at anytime, anywhere, and through a variety of tools.  Without a doubt a cyberbully can damage a victim as much or more than a traditional bully.

Journal 7 - My Personal Learning Network (NETS-T III, V)

Personal Learning Network-
A Personal Learning Network, or PLN, is a network that allows a user to connect, learn, and share information with other individuals within the educational community throughout the world.  An effective PLN allows an individual to get questions answered in a timely and effective manner by members of the educational community.  Further an effective PLN allows a user to gain insight into new and innovative resources that can be utilized within the classroom.  By utilizing the tools such as Twitter, Diigo, and Classroom 2.0 an individual can become a more effective teacher in the 21st century.

Twitter is a social networking website that allows users to follow other users whom they find interesting.  Potential people to following include but are not limited to athletes, singers, actors, actresses, and statesmen.  In terms of its use to an educator Twitter allows those from the educational field to share information with members of their field around the world in a matter of seconds.  For example an educator discovers a new program for computers that allows students to play educational games.  Using Twitter that educator can "tweet" the program, which is read by interested followers, who in turn "retweet" the program for their followers and so on.  In this way a program that would have only been know to a local group of people is shared throughout the world greatly benefiting classrooms.  Twitter also provides great benefits for potential and new educators.  For example a new teacher in Minnesota needs a suggestion for a project on Hamlet.  Instead of using his or her local group of educators or a search site like Google they use Twitter.  They ask for suggestions using a hashtag, allowing fellow educators to see their post.  A teacher in South Africa sees the tweet and responds with a suggestion. 
In developing my own PLN I used Twitter in two ways.  The first way was to follow fellow educators who I deemed important based on their information and previous "tweets."  The first three people I followed were experience teachers on a high school and college level who consistency provided me with relevant information and ideas.  The other two I followed focused on the use of technology in the classroom through apps on smartphones, computers, and tablets.  After developing a foundation I participated in the new teachers chat on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 5PM.  The discussion began with an educator posing a question on setting up a classroom library.  Many participates added to the discussion by posting comments about cost effective ways to build a collection of books, types of books to collect, organizational systems and systems to check-out and check-in books.  I was incredibly surprised about how a single question regarding a classroom library developed into a variety of suggestions that if all utilized would create an ideal library.  Despite spending the entirety of the chat as an observer I found it difficult to follow along.  It appeared that throughout the chat there were random suggestions and various conversations occurring simultaneously.  Despite this I feel I gained great insight in how to use Twitter to greatly benefit my growth as an educator. 

Diigo is a social bookmarking website that allows users to conduct subject specific searches of bookmarks other users have deemed benficial.  Diigo allows users to both bookmark websites that can then be accessed from any computer and tag the bookmarks so they are easily identifiable.  Furthermore Diigo contrubuts to a PLN by allowing users to add fellow users to their network so that any bookmark made by a member of the network will appear on one's homepage.  Finally Diigo allows users to conduct searches that are not bogged down by useless materials as is the case with traditional search sites.  In using Diigo to contrubute to my PLN I preformed two actions: build my Diigo network and find and bookmark resources that discuss PLNs.
In building my network I first looked towards my instructors Diigo page where I found and began following three of the educators he follows.  In order to find users that personally benefit me I conducted a search of users whose interests included history.  In doing so I found two users who are instructors in high school level history and believe in the use of technology in the classroom.  The second I step to develop my PLN using Diigo was to bookmark three PLN websites that fellow educators deemed beneficial.  The first site I bookmarked was Creating a Personal Learning Network with Web 2.0 Tools.  The website provided an educator with a tremendous amount of free or cost effective tools to assist the building of his or her PLN.  These tools included but were not limited to Skype, educational blogs, iTunesU, Twitter, and Google Reader.  The second site I bookmarked was iTeach: Creating a Grassroots PLN at Your School.  The reason I choose this site was because it stresses the importance of starting a PLN at one's own school.  While the concept of PLNs are important to those who know about them many in the educational field don't know them.  The purpose of this site is to give a PLN conscious teacher ideas to inform fellow teachers.  The third site I bookmarked was Teacher Reboot Camp.  This website consisted of a blog that offers educators a place to share and brainstorm ideas to get their student more involved in school.  It also has many posts that are designed to help teachers with hard to teach subjects such as mathematics as well as interesting ideas on how to improve test scores.  I bookmarked this blog because I think it will be beneficial when I have my own classroom as it gives several ideas on making history more fun for students.

Classroom 2.0-
I joined the digital discussion forum Classroom 2.0.  Classroom 2.0 is an online community for educators who are interested in incorporating Web 2.0 and social media in education.  In Classroom 2.0 I watched a video called Integrating Online Resources Into Your Teaching.  This video mainly explained the benefits of online resources and also touched on the right ways to use these resources.  Online resources can include online articles, journals, interactive websites, and digital archives that contain both primary and secondary sources.  The featured educators of the videos warned of being aware of copyright laws and that resources must always be used appropriately.  I found this video useful because as a future high school history teacher I can definitely use many of the online resources the video mentioned for research projects.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Journal 6 - Grow Your Personal Learning Network (NETS-T I, III, V)

Warlick, D. (2009). Grow your personal learning network. Learning and Leading, 36(6), Retrieved from

Summary: In his article David Warlick describes the importance of creating an broad but effective Personal Learning Network, or PLN, that stretches beyond traditional methods.  In his description of Personal Learning Networks Warlick explains that there are three major types of Personal Learning Networks: personally maintained synchronous connections, personally and socially maintained semisyncronous connections and dynamically maintained asynchronous connections.  A personally maintained PLN utilizes synchronous connections and is the most traditional PLN.  Simply stated this PLN includes the people and places that one visits or corresponds with on a daily basis.  Text messaging is a tool that enhances this PLN.  The second type of PLN, a personally and socially maintained semisyncronous connections.  The key to this type of PLN is that it is semisyncronous, meaning that does not synchronize a user 24/7.  Tools that enhance this PLN include Facebook and chatrooms.  The final type of PLN, dynamically maintained asynchronous connections, gets a user in contact with sources that he or she feels is highly useful.  A person who utilizes this type of PLN uses aggregators, resources that bring information to the user.  After effectively describing the three types of PLNs Warlick describes the responsibility of a person with a strong PLN.  A person who actively utilizes their PLN both benefits for their efforts and provides an excellent learning tool for others.

Question 1: What is the importance of a PLN?

Answer 1: The importance of a PLN is indescribable.  An effective PLN allows a vast amount of learning to occur.  A user with a strong PLN is able to tap into resources that are specifically designed for users with similar qualities.  For example, I as a potential history teacher have begun to build a PLN that provides me with resources tooled for high school history teachers.  Thus my future teaching becomes more effective as I have an effective PLN.

Question 2: Of the three types of PLN which is the most important for an educator?

Answer 2: In my opinion the most important resource is personally maintained synchronous connections.  The reason I feel this to be important is because of working daily with a team of teachers.  While online resources such as Twitter and Diigo a user can find sources but in my opinion there is never any substitute for face-to-face time with a fellow educator that understands and lives your circumstances.

Journal 5 - Learning Connections: Find Free Tools and More (NETS-T I, II, III, V)

Ribera, M. (2011, March/April). Learning Connections: Find Free Tools and More. Learning & Leading, 38(6), Retrieved from

Summary: In her article Maria Ribera, an ISTE intern and vice president for Assessment, Academic and Technology Services at Catholic School Management, Inc., in Madison, Connecticut, describes EduTeacher. EduTeacher is a free resource specifically developed for teachers, students, and parents by Adam Bellow. The resource contains over 1,000 links with more added daily.

EduTeacher is described as an excellent resource for a variety of reasons. The first most important reason EduTeacher is beneficial for those in the educational community is its array of links. Over 1,000 are provided for an audience that spreads the technological aptitude. Further an educator from any grade level and any discipline can discover a source that benefits them in the classroom. A second reason EduTeacher is beneficial is that it allows a user to read user reviews and post their own. This allows a teacher to determine if a site will be useful to them before exploring it. The third major reason EduTeacher is beneficial is that the site describes how tools not designed for classrooms can be repurposed for the classroom.

Question 1: EduTeacher is available for use on smart-phones. How is the design of an application for phones beneficial?

Answer 1: As previously mentioned in a previous journal teachers are not being trusted with a wide variety of technology in the classroom. The ability to have an application allows a teacher to access a resource in their fast-paced lives. Further having an accessible library of resources within the classroom allows a teacher to be more flexible and able to respond to different learning styles. For example if in the first period of the day students struggle with a concept a teacher can quickly discover a resource that teaches the material in a different way before starting second period.

Question 2: How has Bellow been able to develop such a beneficial library of educational resources?

Answer 2: Adam Bellow is the director of technology for College Board Schools. This position allows Bellow to come in contact with a vast amount of sources. Further one can assume that his following gives him feedback on resources he provides which helps him find the beneficial ones and ignore those that are difficult to use.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Journal 4 - It's Time to Trust Teachers with the Internet (NETS-T I, II, III, IV, V)

Schaffhauser, D. (2010, December 01). It's Time to Trust Teachers with the Internet: A Conversation with Meg Oriston. Retrieved from

Summary: Schaffhauser, a writer for THE Journal, discusses how 21st teachers are asked to teach using current teaching methods but are denied many web-based tools to accomplish their goals.  It is a this point that Schaffhauser begins her interview with Meg Oriston, a former curriculum coach, school board member, conference presenter, professional specialist, and grant facilitator.  Oriston currently consults schools on how to best incorporate technology into the 21st century classroom.  During the interview Oriston reflects on the strict Internet policies of many schools, polices that Oriston believes go to far.  Oriston states that while schools block large amounts of sites, students other Internet sources such as cellphones and home computers remain unblocked.  In an age were cyber-bulling is becoming a relevant issue technology in the classroom allows teachers to address the issue.  21st century teachers, Oriston states, must not only teach the basic curriculum but should become responsible for teaching 21st century students Internet protocol and safety.  However the polices must first change before teachers give up on using the tools that are so readily available.

Question 1: Should social-networking sites be unblocked in schools, especially middle and high schools?  Why or why not? 

Answer 1: I believe social-networking sites should be unblocked in schools.  When the current population of the United States think of social-networking the idea of Myspace and Facebook immediately come to mind.  While both have the potential to be monumental time-wasters, they and many other sites can prove beneficial to a student's education.  Further when social-networking can be addressed in a classroom setting a responsible member of society, in this case a teacher, can address the protocol, a conversation a student may never hear if social-networking was unavailable in classrooms. 
Question 2: Should all sites be unblocked?

Answer 2: Absolutely not.  There are numerous sites on the Internet that should never be accessible on school grounds.  However those sites are either illegal for students to view or prove entirely detrimental to the learning process.  However far too many sites are blocked that do not fall under either one of those categories and can in fact be helpful to the student's learning.  Many times I have found myself in my mother's classroom attempting to prepare a lesson but unable to print out a crossword puzzle because the word "game" was blocked.  How can a teacher move forward in the 21st century when they are not provided with the tools they need?