An Open Letter to Educators
Sunday, March 28, 2010
An Open Letter to Educators
Friday, March 12, 2010
ALEX, Alabama Learning Exchange
ALEX is an award winning website that was created by the Alabama State Department of Education. It serves as a great resource for educators in the state of Alabama. Through the use of the ALEX website, teachers can search the site's database of lesson plans that can be tailored to subject and grade level, they can also access information on professional development opportunities throughout the state, and can sign up for an ALEX account which allows them to share and manage websites and lesson plans. However, this is jut the beginning of what ALEX is capable of. Teachers can also download educational podcasts, create and submit their own lesson plans to ALEX and have them critiqued by fellow teachers. The ALEX search button is a feature that allows teachers to search the ALEX database for information on educational websites, lesson plans, information on state education standards etc. In a nutshell ALEX is a great way for teachers to find and share information.
Visit the ALEX website here
ALEX is very user friendly. One simply has to visit to the website alex.state.al.us/site.php to access colorful homepage and start clicking away. For example, if you would like to find a health eduation lesson plan for eighth graders. First click on the lesson plans button, then scroll down to the the third option that states find lesson plan by subject, proceed to click the following boxes below that meet your search criteria. If you are using the example, you would select health education, grade 8, and click search. Taaah daaah, you now have multiple lesson plans in the area of health education for your eighth grade class. In order to share information (ie. lesson plans and educational websites) on the ALEX website you have to create a user account by clicking the "personal workspace" button and simply following the instructions. Now you have the opportunity to manage share and have your ALEX lesson plans critiqued by fellow teachers. You also have your own personally managed data base of websites that you can create.
I plan to use ALEX if I am teaching in Alabama or in a different state. I plan on using it to supplement my lesson plans in the future classroom. I may also use ALEX to stay informed on professional development opportunities. If there are any podcasts that are offered by ALEX on the subject area of health education I will probably download those if I can use them. I wonder what other states have similar websites for their teachers?
A.C.C.E.S.S Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide
ACCESS is a program that allows students to take classes online at their local high school. The main goal of ACCESS is to cerate equity in the educational process by offering additional classes that students can take on line and receive high school credit for. While enrolled in ACCESS, students will receive high quality instruction and participate in interactive video conferencing courses.
In order to participate in ACCESS teachers must find out if their schools are participating in the program. They can do this by either visiting their school counselor or their school principle. For additional information they can also visit the ACCESS website at accessdl.state.al.us
I think that ACCESS is a great program and it has some really good intentions. I can see the benefits for students in rural and disadvantages school districts benefiting greatly from it. I wish that they had opportunities like this when I was in high school, my rural high school could have supported a program like this. I don't know if I would have participated in the program. However, there were a few beautiful minds that didn't thrive with the standard teaching practices that would have benefited from ACCESS immensely. The only concern that I have about ACCESS is that I worry about the disadvantaged schools that don't meet the technological requirements in order to support a program of this caliper. I wonder what they are doing about this issue. Like I say, the intentions are great and the program is amazing; but in reality, how accessible is ACCESS?
Comments 4 Teachers: What I learned from Thumann Resources
For this assignment I followed Lisa Thumann's blog at www.Thumannresources.com. Lisa Thumann is a technology consultant that goes into schools to teach teachers how to implement technology into their classrooms. The posts on her site that I read gave me great insights on not only how to effectively utilize technology in the classroom but also of the possible challenges I may face while doing so. Her blog also had a great post that dealt with the creative applications that you could use on an iphone.
The most interesting post that I read on Thumann's blog was entitled Social networking in high schools. As stated in the post's title it focused on the issues of social networking in high school. Thumann as mentioned above, goes into high schools and teaches teachers and students about technology. She assesses what works and what doesn't. When she was leading an discussion with a group of high school students she found out that they came to a general consensus that they contacted their teachers using First Class . However when it came to social networking in schools, students complained that there were too many places to check online that it made it confusing for them. For example one teacher would use Moodle, the next Google apps, Delicious, Diigo etc. This would in turn cause students to miss assignments and deadlines if they forgot to check one of the various sites.
Social networking in school is a great thing, but it kind of defeats the purpose of being so effective if it turns into a taxing process. How have your teachers or professors handled this issue? If you have any suggestions please leave a comment. I would love to be able to give Lisa some possible ideas.
Visit Lisa's Blog
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Randy Pausch's Last Amazing Lecture
The virtual reality expert, Randy Pausch's last lecture was amazing. His lecture made one reflect upon how to make childhood dreams a reality and enable others to do the same. Unfortunately, it was Dr. Pausch's last lecture because he was diagnosed with cancer. He was given 6 more months of good health before his condition would eventually take his life. When one hears this news it is depressing; but being depressed is the complete antithesis of everything Pausch talks about in his lecture. As a matter of fact he doesn't want people to pity him, he'd rather have them enjoying their lives and making a difference.
Pausch speaks about his life experiences which all revolve around accomplishing his childhood dreams. Pausch's experiences consist of creating a new virtual reality course at Carnegie Mellon (CMU) which paved the way for a master's program, working as an imagineer for Disney, and winning big stuffed animals at carnivals to name a few. I however loved the fact that he created his own course at CMU. It's already amazing that one can become a professor of a subject that they are passionate about, but to be able to create your own course that you would proceed to teach would be out of this world! Pausch created college level course entitled creating virtual environments. The course was collaborative and included five different departments at CMU which allowed a hodgepodge of creative minds to come together and create virtual environments. To top it all off, every part of Pausch's pedagogy puts the student at the center of the curriculum and it focuses on the importance of interaction with others which is how learning should take place.
In a nut shell this lecture was amazing I could talk about his course work and academic achievements for the rest of this post as Pausch was an extremely intelligent and successful man. However, I'd rather focus on some practical tips that he gave in his presentation. These tips/tidbits/words of wisdom I named "Pauschisms" can pertain to anyone, especially those who coach, teach, or work with children. Here are some of the Pauschisms that I found most useful...
1.) Brick walls are a good thing. When you are trying to achieve a dream and you hit a brick wall it happens for a reason. Brick walls remind you of how badly you want something. They also keep those who don't want it as badly as you away.
2.)When you screw up and no one says anything it means they don't care anymore and have given up on you. Don't get to this spot, it's a bad place to be. Your critics love you and want you to succeed and better yourself. Suck it up and keep trying.
3.)It's good to accomplish your dream but it's better to enable someone else to accomplish their dream.
4.)There is both a good way and a bad way to say the same thing...Always use the good way.
5.)When given enough time people will impress you.
This one's for teacher's and anyone who wants to work with kids:
6.) If you don't set the bar high for your students, you are doing a disservice to them.
To say the least, this lecture was great. I really don't care that I had to sit for an hour (I hate to sit still and I missed my run...oh well!) and listen to it. It was an hour very well spent.
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
Comments 4 Kids Week #9
This week I got the opportunity to comment on Kahlanie's blog who lives in New Zeland. Kahlanie had a great video to watch on her blog and it was entitled "The Christmas Bullies". The video was great and it looked like the kids put a lot of work into it. This is one of the many examples of how technologically literate today's kids are. Also it demonstrates yet another example of how to use technology in the classroom.
"The Christmas Bullies"