Posted by: markhamj | April 22, 2009

Reflection Section

I came into this course with aspirations to learn about how to use technology more efficiently in my classroom.  I love technology! I am one of those people who gets a new phone and can’t put it down until I press every button to see what happens. I’m fascinated by technology, but it is hard to keep up with! There are always new developments, creations, and products.  I really wanted to discover more of what is out there during this course.

Mission accomplished! I now know that there are heaps and heaps of tools available for both personal and classroom uses.  I learned effective ways to use blogging, podcasting, Google docs, wikis, and many more aspects of the web.  I am a HUGE fan of Skype, as you may have read before. I have been using it in my classroom from time to time since Alan November visited.  I have also learned that the more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn!

All of grade 5 used the NING for our Sustainability unit. What a fantastic aspect of Web 2.0! Kids love the Ning, and one thing I like about it is that it is ongoing. It is something that will always be there, and all they have to do is sign in.  Periodically, they update how they are doing with their personal pledge they created to do their part in helping the environment. Since today is earth day, they are going to make another pledge.  It is a great way for them to keep track of what they are doing, and see what their classmates are implementing.  They also like it because it is like Facebook, which seems to be a craze in Grade 5 at the moment.

I also enjoyed learning about the Pecha Kucha PowerPoint presentations. I like the approach, and I look forward to using this in my classroom.  Hopefully for the unit on Transitions we are doing right now. I also think it is important that we use photos with permission.  It is a choice on the Flickr site, however, you have to remember to check the box each time you search.  Otherwise, you may end up with photos that aren’t legitimate without knowing it. 

Podcasting is a fabulous tool in the classroom. Grade 5 created a “Museum of Change”.  Each child had an exhibit and a podcast explaining their exhibit.  They learned a lot in making their podcasts.  i.e. how to create one using Garage Band, effectively explain their exhibit, tone of voice, and of course adding jingles and such.  It was a fun project for them.

I certainly learned a lot in this course that I have placed in my classroom toolbox.  however, I do have 3 issues I would like to touch on.

  • TIME- all of these things take a lot of time. I had trouble finding time to blog during this course.  So, it is fantastic that we have these tools to use, but I think quality over quantity is probably the way to go. Rather than trying to do so much at one time, maybe stretch out using the tools more effectively over the course of a year.
  • ALWAYS CHANGING- just when you think you are in the technology loop- somebody has to go and change it up in some sort of way, shape or form.  It is really hard to keep up with all the changes that are always taking place with technology.  I think advancing technology is a good thing, but sometimes it is nice to just be familiar with something!! It reminds me of step aerobics class. Just when you think you have the moves down, the instructor changes the routine!
  • WHY WON’T THIS THING WORK HOW I WANT IT TO!?!? Have you ever said that? Maybe plus a couple of ‘other’ words? I sure have. I find it to be so frustrating when you know what you want the computer to do, and it just won’t cooperate. That is when it is good to be a Brokvam. Father like son, they both know how to problem solve on a computer so quickly! Maybe one day I’ll get there….

I have learned a lot in this class that I have implemented in my own life. NETVIBES! I love how everything is in one place! No need to have a million (okay 5-10) windows open.  Netvibes keeps you up to date! I have been introduced to the podcasting world. Sure, I had heard about podcasting before this course, but I had never actually made one! It was nice to use the process.  Also, I have begun to check out the world of podcasts and download some to listen to.  There are so many available!!

I feel more confident in my ability to search for content on the Internet.  I liked that we had a refresher course on some of the tips we learned from Alan November, plus new things to try!

The video tutorials could change my mom’s life. Seriously! I am so glad that I know how to make those now! I am going to make her a video tutorial of how to work Skype.  To this day we have not had a successful Skype conversation.  Well, I have to admit, I gave up calling her on Skype a while ago. So, now I can make her a tutorial to follow, and we’ll be able to see each other while we talk!

Overall, I am happy that I took this course. I’m not going to lie, I felt a little overwhelmed at times, but I guess that goes with the territory.  I am happy that it is complete and this is my last blog entry.  🙂 Thanks for all the work you put into facilitating this course, Ståle.

Posted by: markhamj | April 18, 2009

Feeling blogged down

I used to sit down a write in a journal all the time in high school and college. I like to write.  But, I go in seasons with it.  When I was in Ghana I wrote on my blog all the time, not going to lie- the aircon in the lab may have had something to do with that.. Since I’ve been here I’ve written maybe a few pages. Writing is enjoyable most of the time; but I like to write when I need to sort something out in my head, or I have time to sit down and write.  I haven’t been good about keeping up with this blog, or my other for that sake. Lately, it has been blogging me down.  I think it is because this is the busiest I have ever been in my life! And then the past 3 weeks I’ve had this amoeba causing me problems…it has been hard keeping up with everything going on, and blogging took a backseat.  Today I realized I better get blogging because 60% of my grade is on the line.

So, here I am, blogging away.  I am glad we did some quick search tips today.  I remember Alan November talking about how important it is to be able to find things fast, and let’s face it…in this day and age, we don’t like to wait.  Everything seems to be moving at a faster pace. In fact, I feel like everything is moving too fast…we all need to remember to take a time out.  That is what I have discovered while I’ve been sick.  I am always on the go, and always busy.  Maybe part of the reason I am sick is because my immune system is weak? But what I realized in all the time I have spent in the hospital and at home lately…I don’t take a lot of time for myself.  And I’m not even married with kids yet! Goodness…I give married couples with kids a lot of credit. They all seem to be on top of things, plus taking care of a family! I’m still learning how to balance everything in my life.

So, I am going to be a better blogger than I’ve been lately. Blog back soon.

Posted by: markhamj | March 30, 2009

How flat is the world?

I began reading the book The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman recently, and it really has my mind going on how connected the world is. Have you ever met somebody new and somehow you know the same people in totally different cities and find that, “its a small world”?

I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has said that phrase at one point their life. People all over the world are connected in some sort of way, shape, or form. I don’t think the “6th degree” theory is far off. After all, we live in a world full of technology which is constantly making it easier to see and talk to anyone- anywhere in the vast (but small) world!

The fact that everyone can reach each other at the touch of a button is phenomenal. Seriously, think about it!! What really got me on this whole thing is this from the book,
“When you start to think the world as flat, or at least in the process of flattening, a lot of things make sense in ways they did not before. But I awas also excited personally, because what the flattening of the world means is that we are now connecting all of the knowledge centers on the planet together into a single global network, which- if politics and terrorism do not get in the way- could usher in an amazing era of prosperity, innovation, and collaboration, by companies, communities, and individuals.”
This really made me think about how interesting it would be if people all over the world combined their expertise. How could we improve the future? Our Unit of Inquiry earlier this year was sustainability of the environment. Wouldn’t it be cool if all the scientist bound together and created a cure for AIDS? A magic potion that would counter act pollution and create oxygen (I know a little far fetched), technologically…whoa we would have teleportation one day! I know, a little too much…but the world could come up with some incredible things if everyone worked together.
The World is Flat had examples of how people in cities all over the world are working together as a team. In fact, the other day my friend is Seattle told me that he was working with someone in China while I was chatting with him on Skype. Great that we are able to communicate in so many ways, all at one time. Well, that could be a good thing and a bad thing.
So how about flattening our classrooms? I really enjoyed the video we watched in class about the flat classroom. I would like my classroom to be ironed out a bit.  Here are 7 steps to flatten your classroom (compliments of Julie Lindsay): 1. Connection- developing your own network. 2. Communication methods-synchronous and asynchronous- maintaining and updating using web 2.0 technology 3. Citizenship- how to be a learner in an online environment 4. Contribution and Collaboration- everyone playing their part on the team 5. CHOICE- 6. Creation- 7. CeLeBrAtE!!!!
I really like the idea of globalization and people working together, particularly in the classroom.  Afterall, we are educating the future of our world. It would be best if we opened a variety of doors around the world for our students to walk through.  We have  the opportunity to help our students uncover the real truth-not the media’s truth, or a bias view of truth. 
There are some serious problems to solve in the world, and wouldn’t it be best if we taught our kids to solve them by putting their heads together -all over the world? Not only that, but I think it would be excellent for people to know people from everywhere in the world. If people with race issues actually knew people from other cultures there would probably be a lot less fighting going on. Maybe if more people worked together to achieve a common goal they would learn to appreciate their differences.
So, is anyone else in for a little classroom flattening?
Posted by: markhamj | March 11, 2009

Obama’s Education Reform Plan

I LOVE Obama! His education vision is positive and just what the States needs implement.

{“The solution to low test scores is not lower standards; it’s tougher, clearer standards,” he argued.

At the same time, however, he urged states to develop standards “that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity.”}

My thoughts:
Exactly! The approach to education now is an inquiry approach, and it is spot on in having students truly understand concepts. I love teaching an inquiry based curriculum. It inspires kids, allows them freedom to work within their learning style, true understanding of concepts, among many other positive aspects.

Research has proved kids have different learning styles. An inquiry based curriculum teaches to their learning styles in the classroom, and offers differentiated assessment. It teaches kids how to be inquisitive, where to find answers, how to solve problems in the real world, and use their creativity through innovation.

It bothers me that we have all these things to offer in the classroom, where true learning is taking place, and then students are expected to score well on a paper and pencil, multiple choice, test…which doesn’t allow every child to show their true potential.

If Obama’s vision is effectively implemented…the US will be heading in a very positive direction on many levels. Everything and everyone starts with education. I enjoy teaching an inquiry based curriculum because it has allowed me to grow as learner, teacher, and facilitator. The kids are driving their learning, and exploring concepts in a way that is more personal for them.  It is more fun and productive for everyone.

Time will tell how things will work out in the US, and I’m eager to see what happens.

I have more to say about the rest of the article, but that is for another post… 🙂

Posted by: markhamj | March 4, 2009

Clear Message

It seems like our world has come into a generation of text.  Particularly living in the Philippines, I rarely talk on the phone.  Most of the time my communication using the phone is accomplished by texting.  Texting is great…short, sweet, and to the point.  Not only has text become the way of communicating with phones, but we are constantly sitting down to our computers to write in order to put our message out there.

I wonder if  writing, or ‘text,’ is the best way to clearly convey a message.  Most times, I would rather talk to someone about an issue instead of write to them about it. Seeing someone’s facial expressions as you converse is key to understanding their whole message.  Plus, hearing the tone and pitch of another’s voice is certainly irreplaceable.  People talk with their hands, or use gestures as they speak…

While I think that  reading someone’s words can be funny, profound, thoughtful, etc.; they cannot replace human interaction.  You may have a LOL moment while reading someone’s blog, text, email, wall post, etc….but it doesn’t beat laughing with another person.  Laughing until your stomach hurts. You know?

Communicating over the Internet does not just take place in blogs, emails, videos, etc. Skype is just about the best communication device ever! I want to give, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, a big hug! They have taken the ability to communicate with people everywhere to a whole new level.  I love being able to see my family and friends on Skype. It is nice to feel as if they are sitting in the same room.  Even the ability to call the US from the Philippines for 2 cents a minute using my computer is wonderful.  Also, having a phone number in the US that is forwarded to my cell phone here is certainly convenient.  In the past, long distance phone calls were costing families hundreds of dollars every month.  Although I’m living half way around the world from my friends, I spend a minimal amount of money on calling people each month because Skype has made talking to people far away basically free!

I suppose what I am trying to convey here is that we have the ability to communicate in a variety of ways at our fingertips.  It is nice that the Internet has created so many options for us from text to video conferencing.  The only concern I have is that sometimes a person’s intention in a message may be misconstrued via text.  I suppose that is why teaching our children to write with a voice is certainly a significant component.

Posted by: markhamj | March 2, 2009

Web 2.0…the way to go!

The pace of innovation in the technological world is traveling at the speed of light it seems…the question is-how do we (rookie computer geeks) keep up!?! I’m sure that we all have a friend that is ‘tech savvy’ and sometimes think while talking to them, “whoa…really?!? That exists? Woooowwww…” I have a friend that never fails to astonish me in that way.  I feel like I’m pretty up to speed when it comes to technology, but I think the more I learn…the more there is to know.  Doesn’t that always seem to be the case, though?

Web 2.0 is fantastic! My favorite thing about web 2.0 is that it is interactive and it extends the classroom beyond the classroom.  I think it definitely changes teaching and learning for the better. First of all, students have the potential to communicate with each other in new ways, AND other kids all over the world! 

Using the Ning during the grade 5 Sustainability Unit of Inquiry allowed students to be part of a secure network where they were able to share their thoughts and learnings with each other.  They really enjoyed it because it has similar features to the ever popular Facebook, with an educational purpose. It allowed them to have their own ‘page’, write eachothers’ walls, write blog entries, respond to videos and discussions, etc.  They learned a lot by reading, and interacting with each other through social networking within ISM.

Skype is a great way to apply web 2.0 to the classroom, and a fabulous example of extending the classroom beyond the classroom.  Recently, I did a ‘changes in technology’ lesson in my classroom.  Because of Skype, I was able to have my friend from Microsoft as a guest speaker.  Skype also allowed my friend who donates solar light and electricity to indigenousvillages into my classroom for a chat.  The kids love skyping, and learn a great deal from the real life feel.

Outside of Skype, Ning, and Wikis…I have yet to utilize more aspects of web 2.0 in my classroom and personal life.

Posted by: markhamj | February 24, 2009

Blog After Blog…

I am finding that it is difficult to take time to write on my blog(s). Being a teacher, as I’m sure that most reading this can relate, is a demanding job. I know, I know…I could just slot blog time into my daily routine. However, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed as it is!

The truth is, I began blogging a lot time ago. I did part of my student teaching in Ghana, and updated my blog about that frequently.  I’m not going to lie, the computer lab being one of the only places with aircon may have had something to do with that. I gave the blog site to several of my friends and family members, but did not put it out there for ‘the whole world’ to read.  I love blogging, I love writing, but my problem is that I do not find enough time to write on my blog.

Before coming here, I created another blog in hopes to share some of my experiences in the Philippines with some of my friends and family back home. However, I haven’t been so good about keeping up with it.  I think it is just that by the time I get home at night…I am not in the mood to write more. So, I suppose my goal for this course is to blog at least once a week. On one of the three blogs I now have.

We’ll see how it goes…

Posted by: markhamj | February 13, 2009

linking to Alan’s blog

I found Alan’s blog entry to be interesting.  His idea of allowing students who are absent to skype in helps both the student and the teacher.  Although they may be stuck in bed, they won’t fall behind in class.  Having the student Skype in also makes things easier for the teacher to keep the student up to date, particularly if they are going to be out for a while.   Plus, being out of school for a long time gets boring- may as well spend some time Skypinginto class!

I really like using Skype in the classroom.  I have Skyped with people all over the world to enhance lessons with my kids.  Skype, along with web 2.0 continues to change the technological abilities in our classrooms.

Posted by: markhamj | February 9, 2009

A new day, a new class

So far so good. I think I am going to like this class.  I find technology to be interesting, and I would love to learn how to use it better in my classroom…and at home for that matter.

I enjoy learning new things, and so far, I really like that things in this class are hands-on.  I get bored when people talk at me for long periods of time. Stale is doing a nice job of involving the class.

Posted by: markhamj | February 9, 2009

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