Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Post #16

 Part 1:

What will be the methods of teaching I will emphasize in my classroom? – 5th Grade. As stated in my first blog post, I am, to a large extent, a fundamentalist in the sense that I will continue to implement the basic framework of our educational system. Just as in my coaching style, I find teaching the basics in a straightforward fashion is more effective for me than diluting the basics inside of games. Not every coach can teach the same way and I believe not every educator will effectively teach the same way. To large extent, the foundations of the traditional subjects, such as reading, mathematics, writing and science, will have to be taught without the ‘bells and whistles’ that technology offers. I do believe in supplementing the traditional subjects with student-driven projects that will require a student to use technology for research. But ultimately, I believe technology amplifies solid teaching foundations and will not replace those building blocks in my classroom. my first blog post #1, I discussed such courses as finance, building, automotive, and debate. I realize that the implementation of these learning centers on the scale that I imagine will not be very feasible. But diluting those grandiose ideas down to manageable and discrete projects results in a hands-on learning technique. I want to put plants into a child’s hand when teaching them the fundamentals of plant biology. I hope to continue to introduce new hands-on materials whenever I can. My learning methods will evolve as I gain new experiences in the classroom and interact with new teachers. I hope to remain open to new learning strategies as I continue to develop my classroom. 

What tools will the students and I use in my ideal classroom? — 5th Grade.
I originally wrote blog post #1 with the assumption that funds were unlimited.  In the real world, I am aware that this is not the case in most schools. I hope to introduce subjects such as finance, building, automotive, and debate with the assistance of well-designed student-driven projects, applicable field trips and a little creativity. classroom experiences are limited and I am unaware of what types of technology are available in the average 5th grade classroom.  However, many classrooms are now equipped with one or more desktop computers. Potentially, we could get lucky and have iPads that students could have access to as well. With these, along with the school library, students can have immediate access to researching tools. In addition, many schools are moving towards paperless assignments. Towards this end, I appreciate the infinite informative tools EDM310 has provided me in executing such a task. I hope I will understand enough to implement these types of school wide learning tools.

Furthermore, I believe technology in our culture will provide students the ability to research topics on their own prior to our discussions in the classroom. This strategy should give students the opportunity to teach themselves before introducing my teachings of the materials. Thereby, students will have a better understanding of the lessons being discussed. 

Technology will not only play a research role in my classroom; it will also be a tool for teaching communication skills. With the use of PowerPoint, I hope to give students the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills. Developing presentations will also create a means to teach logic. Communication in today’s world is changing. The tri-fold board with pasted written research is not adequately preparing students for the workforce any longer. In addition, being able to properly communicate via email is quickly becoming a requirement to successfully interact with people who are friends, employers, and future employers. Potentially, we could update the traditional pen pal to include emails.

Another tool that is very popular in the classroom is the SMART board.  As a future educator, I look forward to seeing, hands-on, what this tool can actually do in the classroom.  I wasn’t as impressed with the SMART board as other students in EDM310 have been. However, if it is provided to my room, then I hope to investigate how to better integrate the SMART board into our learning lessons. I can see where using the SMART board may help in building classroom excitement. This student enthusiasm could encourage student participation and aide in keeping students focused in the classroom. 

As a teacher, I will learn along with my students the new teaching/learning tools that technology will continue to offer. I firmly believe we must integrate technology into the classroom whether we like it or not.  If we deny such a powerful tool to our students, then we are holding them back from a true learning experience.  Earlier this week, I heard on the news that our nation’s test scores have been stagnant at a mediocrity level for several years. This information presents a daunting task for new educators. I hope that with some old school techniques integrated with the powers of technology, I will be successful at being a part of changing that statistic.  Nothing is off-limits in my classroom.

Part 2:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Blog Post #15

by Brantley Spillman

For my post, I began by watching videos C and D from the Blog Post 15 Instructions.  Video C was entitled “Teaching Math to the Blind,  and video D was entitled “iPad Usage for the Blind”. Both videos introduced teaching materials that were new to me and required some additional research for a full understanding of these materials. 

The first video, “Teaching Math to the Blind”, was produced by Professor Art Karshmer. Professor Karshmer is the Department Chair of Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco.  In this video, Professor Karshmer introduces a tool that can help blind students see math in two dimensions as seeing students visualize math.  In the past, blind students could only use Braille to read math problems. This method places mathematical problems in a one-dimensional line for interpretation. For example,
Braille                        New Tool
One-Dimension             Two-Dimension
                                    2+2=4                   +2
                                                  4 students have created a new tool that uses a block system allowing blind students to set up a math problem in the more tangible two-dimensional form.  Blind students no longer have to solve math problems in a linear setup.  As stated in the video, this type of device will help blind students understand math at an earlier age.  Thus, providing a foundation for later math studies and providing the proper tools for learning basic algebra. second video, “iPad Usage for the Blind”, highlighted the abilities that an iPad offers for the blind user.  Its program, voiceover, allows individuals who are blind to navigate their way through his or her iPad. The program voices the application as a user’s finger grazes over the App icon on the home screen.  In the past, our blind community was limited to what tools they could use, such as braille.  With the emergence of computers and related technologies, visually impaired individuals have struggled to maintain an understanding with these limited resources.  Luckily, additional complementary technologies offered today allow the blind the opportunity to enjoy the same computer tools that seeing people enjoy.  Before this video, I was unaware of the iPad’s and iPhone’s ability to provide such a useful tool for individuals with visual disabilities.

Additional Resources:

A cumulative list of Online Resources for Teaching the Blind

A list of useful software programs and their websites.

Screen Readers: "Screen reading software reads aloud on the screens. It includes text, pull-down menus, icons, dialog boxes, and web pages. Screen readers run parallel with the computer's operating system and applications." (JAWS, Windows-Eyes, and ZoomText)
Scan/Read Systems: "Scan/read systems combine software and a flatbed scanner to read aloud any printed text.   Textbook pages, in class handouts, and tests can be scanned in and then read aloud by the computer."(Kurzweil 1000 , OpenBook)
Portable Notetakers: " Portable notetakers provide speech output without a visual display and can be connected to printers and computers for printing and uploading text.   Braille keyboards and refreshable Braille displays are available for Braille users." (Braille Lite Series, Braille ‘n Speak, BrailleNote)

3. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
The Standards for teaching the blind math concepts using Tactile Graphics.

What are tactile graphics?
"Tactile graphics deliver information through touch. They usually come with Braille textbooks to show content in maps, charts, layouts, diagrams, and images of geometric figures. Tactile graphics are usually made by hand (Braille transcribers) as part of book production. In some scenarios, the creation of these graphics is implemented by automatic processes using a variety of software applications. Some methods used to create such graphics are described below."
  • "A hand-tooling method produces a raised image on paper or aluminum diagramming foil. Specially-designed tools hand-emboss raised lines and textures. A Thermoform device creates several copies produced by this method."
  • "A partially-automated method prints computer generated graphics onto capsule or paper(swell paper), which causes the lines to rise when the paper is sent through a special heating machine. In this process, the black portions of the copy swell outward to form a raised line (tactile graphic)."
  • "Some Braille embossers are equipped with a graphics mode that can be used for producing tactile graphics, although additional software may be required to use this process. There are also specialized Braille printers, like the Tiger series by ViewPlus, which are specifically designed to create tactile graphics in addition to standard Braille."
  • "The University of Washington's Tactile Graphics Project provides a variety of sources designed to improve access to mathematics, engineering, and science information from graphical images by students who are blind. One helpful application is the Tactile Graphics Assistant which, when combined with regular software applications, enables the quick translation of visual graphics to a tactile form."
  • "A valuable resource for creating tactile graphics is the Tactile Diagram Manual produced by Purdue University. This downloadable manual is for educators who need to convert science and math diagrams into tactile graphics."

by Hilary Thames

Video A - Watch Assistive Technologies for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children

Video B - The Mountbatten

When I was a senior in highschool, I had the privilege of working with students with special needs through being a teacher's aid. This was definitely an eye opening experience, and I would have to say it taught me more than any class ever could! While working with these students, we had to teach in ways that were not used in regular classrooms. Its not that special needs students cannot learn, they just learn in ways that differ from other students. One great Assistive Technologies for Vision and Hearing Impaired Children makes is that learning needs to be personal. Every student, whether they have a special need or not, learns differently. One great way for teaching the vision impaired is through podcasts, like we learned about earlier this semester from a group of kindergartners. Through these podcasts, students would not only be able to use them during school, but they would also be able to access them at home as well. Having devices like the braille writer talked about in The Mountbatten provides students with special needs the ability to be engaged in regular classroom activities just as any other student.

by Haley Smith

appsineducation.blogspot.comFor this blog post, I began the assignment by looking at E and F from the instruction list for blog assignment 15. For section E, I watched a video regarding how blind people are able to access the iPad and use it effectively. I really enjoyed this video. The question for many is how someone that is blind can use something that has no buttons or grooves. That question is answered in this video demonstration. It goes into detail such as the direction that you need to move your fingers, how many fingers to use, how to “turn the knob”, how to type if you can’t see the keyboard, and so much more. The only problem I had with this video is that it didn’t tell you how to put it in the mode where it will read everything or the gadgets will work. It just started the video demonstrating how to use it. This video was very helpful in regards to how to handle using the iPad if I would happen to have a blind student.

phillipsashleyedm310.blogspot.comSection F was really interesting. This was a collection of 50 blogs that have been collected that focus on special needs in children and adults whether in the classroom or in daily lives of these people.  Although I looked at many of the blogs, I primarily want to focus on four – numbers 17, 22, 30, and 46. Blog number 17 was titled Teaching All Students. This blog focused on different apps that an educator can use for special education. My favorite part of the blog was that it gave the different apps that were either free or apps that you need to purchase. It also gives reviews of the apps that are great for the special needs students. Blog number 22 was titled Barto’s World. This blog focused primarily on Dyslexia and ADHD. These are two of the most common disabilities in children in school. This blog helps teachers with students with these disabilities and teaches them how to handle it in the classroom. This blog also gives teachers the resources that will help them understand what is needed to do. My favorite part of this blog is that they didn’t refer to students with disabilities as “creative thinkers”. This takes the part where students with disabilities feel abnormal away. Blog 30 was titled ADDitude: Linving Well with Attention Deficit. This blog had to be my favorite blog of the list of 50 blogs on the list. I loved this blog because it had different blogs and different points of view from people who are influenced by ADD. There is a section for parents that have children with ADD, adults who live with ADD, and experts that study ADD. This blog also gives resources on how to parent children with ADD, treatment for it, and a way to get the newsletter for ADD. The final blog that I looked at was number 46. This blog was titled Children with Special Needs. This blog focuses on things to do for children with special needs for holidays and other special occasions. This is also a site that explains what special needs are. There is one final part that I loved about this blog was it gave stories about children with special needs whether they are happy, sad, or hopeful. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Project #12 Part B SmartBoard

C4K Summary for November

My first student to comment on in November was on Vaifoa's blog. Vaifoa is in sixth grade at Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand.  This student wrote a very detailed story about being alone and entering a cabin where there was blood everywhere.  I assumed this was not true.  However, I did ask in my comment if it was, in fact, a real experience he had encountered.  Here was my comment below: Vaifoa, my name is Brantley Spillman. I am a student at the University of South Alabama.  Throughout this semester, I have commented on several students’ blogs throughout the world, although, you are the third student from the Pt. England School that I have commented upon.  I loved the story you wrote! Your writings created a really vivid image.  Is this a true story?  If so, then I am not sure I would have entered the cabin.  I can see you really enjoyed your writing assignment. Continue to keep up the good work.  Thanks for sharing your post.

My second assignment was to comment on an entire class’s blog.  For this lesson, I was assigned to Ms. George’s first grade class, also at Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand.  I was initially disappointed, but quickly realized that these were first graders.  I often ask myself if blogging is beneficial or appropriate at younger ages?  The class’s blog title was “Big Shells and Little Shells.”  Here was my response below: Hey guys! My name is Brantley Spillman.  I am also a student at University of South Alabama.  I have enjoyed reading your school’s blogs throughout this semester.  I, also, live on the water, although, I rarely find pretty seashells like the ones you have shown.  However, I do catch lots of fish.  I really enjoy fishing in my free time. I hope you all continue to embrace the outdoors. Exploring nature was one of my favorite things to do as a child. I am glad to see you all enjoy it as well.  Good luck with your remaining school year. 

I believe I will remember the Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand the most when I recall commenting on student blogs. This school seems to have a relatively progressive mindset when it comes to blog use in the classroom. I appreciated seeing how it could be used at several grade levels.  Additionally, I have enjoyed getting a glimpse of how students interact with others throughout the world.  Seeing examples like this allows for future educators to gain a clear picture so as to prepare for his or her future classroom and technology implementation. 

Project # 2: PLN Final Summary

My PLN is a work in progress and involves the development of many personal relationships with educators in the local area. Because my PLN involves personal connections, I will keep the names of my contacts private to respect their privacy online. However, I will provide details of some of the information that these selected individuals have supplied me in my ongoing search and development of my PLN. Each of the contacts I will discuss are at three different local elementary schools so I can gain a diverse and representative group of educators to offer advise and guidance as I pursue my education degree.

Firstly, I have recently spoken in depth with a current principal of a local elementary school.  He and I have discussed many issues currently ongoing in the present educational system such as the implementing the common core, attempting new math teaching strategies, teacher training in new techniques and good methods for concerned parent interactions.  He has expressed both concerns and strategies to facilitate where education is heading.  Like many current educators, he is on board with technology and everything it has to offer in a classroom.  This particular principal is an enthusiastic educator and I love that he is always willing to voice his opinions.  Connections like this are rare and I am appreciative to have this connection and friendship.  I will stay in touch with this educator for future recommendations along with any future questions that may arise.

Secondly, I have visited my son’s kindergarten class on several occasions and had a number of meetings with both his teacher and principal. These interactions allow me to continue to gather ideas and strategies on how to approach my classroom.  My son’s teacher has been kind enough to show me what a teacher deals with on a day to day basis: the discipline issues, integrating the latest education theory, and implementing SMARTboard lesson plans, iPads and Computer stations when doing learning stations. By visiting my son’s school, I have been able to see how basic operations are implemented within the walls of a school.

Finally, another connection of mine that has been a long-term inspiration for me due to her enthusiasm and commitment to the betterment of her special education classroom at a another local elementary school.  I have now known this teacher for three years.  She has allowed me to visit her classroom and I have listened to many stories on the difficulties teachers can face when teaching special needs.  She is very dedicated and I know I will continue to ask her for advice even when I have my own classroom. This teacher never stops searching for the newest and latest practices to implement new learning and coping strategies. Her knowledge is diverse and expansive. Additionally, she has many connections within the area and had introduced me to many other educators here in Baldwin County. 

I will continue to build my learning network of educators throughout my educational journey.  Being well connected is important in every field.  We must always look for peers that can provide us with ideas that only come with experience. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

C4T Summary

Jerid W. Kruse is a professor at Drake University.  Mr. Kruse provides great questions within his blog for future educators to ask themselves.  My first comment was in regards to his post titled, “Teacher Education Starts in Kindergarten”.  Here was my comment:

Mr. Kruse, my name is Brantley Spillman.  I am currently enrolled at the University of South Alabama and majoring in Education.  I have enjoyed reading your blog.  I am also a latecomer to education and am seeking tangible advice on how to be an effective teacher. Your questions posed in the post are provoking and require some thought. Anytime a teacher is stepping back to reflect on how they are communicating with their students is beneficial. I think your inspirational words are a good foundation to establish my personal strategy to teaching. I look forward to future post.

His second post was titled “Critical Curiosity”.  I enjoyed this read because I have doubted technology’s actual purpose in the classroom many times this semester.  He asked the question, “Can technology actually reduce the intellectual level of the classroom?”  I wanted to attack this question, however, I do not feel have enough experience to honestly answer such a question.  Below, is my comment that I left for Mr. Kruse on this particular post:

Throughout this semester I have been introduced to technology that is completely new to me.  These technologies have also, at times, led me to doubt different aspects of what it really has to offer.  However, as you have stated, technology is critical in the sense that it is here and it will only continue to evolve within all classrooms.  Thus, it is up to us, as educators, to find a happy medium that we can implement and feel comfortable with so that we can use that technology without using it as a crutch. 

This final C4T for this semester was interesting and enjoyable to read.  I like how he asked questions rather than stating personal opinions.  This approach, on many levels, allows individuals to think for themselves and not blindly agree or disagree.  I have enjoyed all C4T assignments assigned in EDM 310.  I look forward to following these educators throughout my educational journey.