Gooru

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Tonight, I was inspired to write my final blogpost for the semester on a company that a friend of mine is working with.  It is call Gooru, and it is a community in which teachers can share lesson plans, which are organized by SCUTL, or subject, course, unit, topic, and level.  It provides an easy to use interface, where teachers can navigate and browse whatever their needs may be.  The sources range from lessons created around video to trips through Google Earth.  While I am not completely versed in the project, I have been told a little bit about it and plan on learning more.  It is currently in the alpha stage, which means that all the bugs aren’t worked out and it is not completely operational.  Right now, it is limited to math and science for grades 5-8, but grades 9-12 will be added December 15.  These will also include an AP section.  If you would like to know more, I would be happy to provide you with more information as I continue to research Gooru.  I can also pass along an access password that will help you dive into everything the program has to offer so far.  Hopefully it will materialize into something that all of us could use!

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Categories: Uncategorized

Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet

November 28, 2011 2 comments

Up until about a month ago, the iPad had dominated the market for tablets.  For many, including myself, the price tag was a little to rich to justify buying one, especially when I already used a laptop for most of the functions that I would use the iPad for.  However, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are releasing their own tablet versions of their popular Kindle and Nook eReaders that aim to compete with the iPad.  Their price is much more friendly, with the Kindle Fire coming in at $199 and the Nook Tablet settling at $249, meaning that a Tablet is now much more affordable for the general public.

This got me thinking, how could we use tablets in our classroom? With the iPad’s steep price, I never really thought that having those eReaders for my class would be a possibility, but, now, having a few tablets for classroom use is realistic.  The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet each have functionality to offer kids handheld reading, along with the ability to research and relay information quickly.  Utilizing the Amazon Cloud would also be a valuable aspect of the features, which would provide students with the ability to access their files and projects from the Kindle and their home computers, making transfers much easier.  Overall, I think utilizing one of the new tablets in the classroom would be a great way to integrate new technology in a cost effective way.

If you want to know more, check out this review, which compares all three of the leading tablets http://digitaldesi.com/

Categories: Uncategorized

Google+

November 17, 2011 4 comments

After today’s hangout on Google+, I began to really think about the benefits that it offers, especially to us as educators. While no one has been completely sold on it’s ability to overtake Facebook or Twitter as the leader of social media, it is undeniable that the functionality and versatility that Google+ offers could be utilized by educators everywhere. The hangout session brings together a number of people in a common place, even though they may be separated by miles, states, or oceans. The collaboration that it promotes and offers is enough to confirm its validity to the world of education. For example, a group of five educators could be working on a research project in five different schools in five different states. Even though there are hundreds or thousands of miles between them, they can still gather nightly to review their findings in a face-to-face manner. Also, classrooms from around the world can come together, work on conversation skills, and improve a target area. One of the big complaints of social media is that it takes away encounters where individuals have to interact. The benefit of Google+ is that it enables its users to interact face-to-face instead of simply relying on text to interact. Hopefully Google+ will catch on, fostering the possibilities that it is capable of meeting.

Categories: Uncategorized

21st Century Technology

September 26, 2011 2 comments

As a future English teacher, I have been looking for new ways to include technology into my classroom. Recently, Apple announced that they will soon be revealing their newest iteration of the iPhone http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20108290-248/ipad-3-in-11-no-two-new-iphones-seems-so/ With Apple’s recent announcement of the iPhone5 and our world’s movement towards the high use of smartphones, I would love to be able to find a way to incorporate these into my class. While they obviously present a would-be distraction, I believe that they could be valuable tools that give access to a number of applications as well as quick access to a number of literary works. This would also be possible with the iPod Touch, iPad, or a number of other e-readers. While it may be difficult to get the funding from schools, it would be a valuable tool to increase students ability to read and work on their comprehension on digital formats.

Post FOKI

Looking back on our short session, I feel as thought I have grown a lot.  The FOKI standards have been very helpful in assessing myself and seeing growth as I move forward and move closer to becoming a teacher.

Professional Self: I feels that out of any of our “selves” in the FOKI categories, my professional self has grown the most. I feel that I have a better understanding of what teaching, specifically catering to young adults, consists of.  I can now say that I have successfully put together a short unit that could be expanded into a larger one. It integrated technology with something that I was passionate about, literature and history. While I was able to successfully put this lesson together, I know that I will not always be as passionate about the literature I am teaching, but I will always be passionate about my students. I know that my challenge moving forward as a professional should be to focus that passion into the curriculum I teach, all while teaching and learning with my students.

Literate Self:  I feel like I have taken the first steps towards becoming a more literate young adult reader. I have found books that I love and have seen the value that so many genres have.  My time reading Rot & Ruin, Ship Breaker, The Glass Castle, and Runaways has given me a solid foundation on which I can move forward and continue to build a library that caters to the students I will be teaching. One way that I can challenge myself moving forward is to find books that I wouldn’t normally be drawn to and read those. It may be hard to motivate myself at times, but I know that I will become a much better teacher because of it.

Virtual Self:  I didn’t think that I would ever struggle with the virtual world, but this class on YA Lit challenged me in ways I never thought. I struggled to find assignments, I found out what voicethreads were, and even used SecondLife. I think that this class has shown me that incorporating the virtual self into the classroom is not as difficult as I previously thought. I know that moving forward, I will continue to find new ways in which I can encourage my students to contribute using technology instead of alienating my classroom from it.

Synthesis:

Overall, I feel like I have taken my first steps towards becoming a teacher. I have especially come to see that, with the education I am getting, I will become an extremely capable teacher. I am especially proud of ALP project that I put together, because one big thing I took away is that my work can always be revised. I have also gained so much from our class’s reading list and the book club discussion that we had. It is something that I would love to continue and I could see it being implemented with a group of teachers in a school I teach in.  Finally, my virtual self has come a longer way than I ever could have imagined. I hope to continue to find new ways to incorporate technology in my classroom and my teaching like I learned in this class.

Categories: Bookhenge

Bold Choices CCI

First of all, I will say that there are a number of books that I feel should not be taught in schools.  However, I feel that there are also a number of books that are overly scrutinized for their content.  Just about everyone looks to The Catcher in the Rye as the epitome of a controversial book.  I honestly do not have a problem with it, but I would teach it to 11th and 12th grade students.  As I went on to read the article on The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I was taken a bit aback by the resistance to it.

I think sometimes when parents read YA Lit and something they don’t want their kids to do is in it, their immediate reaction is that it’s not a good book. Put it away, I don’t want it to corrupt my kid. I think these parents need a bit of a reality check, because there’s a lot worse things going on when their kid walks down the hall, and just reading about it could be beneficial, because that time isn’t spent doing it.

Parents need to be honest with themselves: teens are doing drugs, teens are having sex, and it’s not always something that they’re going to be happy with. That’s why it is their responsibility to talk with their child about it. School’s aren’t the ones educating their kids in this way, it’s their peers.

I have read plenty of books filled with activities that make parents nervous, but that doesn’t mean that I have tried them all or have even considered it.  Sometimes it takes a book to turn kids off to these activities, because they see someone like them going down a road that they don’t want to go down.  Or they see a powerful protagonist who can stand up to their friends.  YA Literature rarely, if ever, glamorizes destructive life choices.

My contention with controversial novels comes with books like Huck Finn, which I read in high school.  I was not comfortable at all reading it. Even though the book was written in a different time, the rampant use of racial slurs just struck me the wrong way.  I believe that novels like that, which are degrading to whole people groups, should not be taught in public high school. Continuing centuries of oppression by teaching the book does a lot more harm than a book that presents the realities of being a teenager.

Categories: Bookhenge

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