Thursday, December 15, 2011

Journal 10

 Martinez, S., & Prensky, M. (2011). Learning and leading with technology. Is the Digital Native a Myth?, 39(3), 6.

I found a very interesting article in the 2011 issue of Learning and Leading with Technology. It was set up like a debate between two professional educators and discussed whether or not the term "Digital Native" or "Digital Immigrant" is considered a myth. I have always believed in the term "Digital Native" because I am from the generation that grew up within technology. As I read through the argument by Sylvia Martinez that these terms are myths, I started to reconsider my thoughts on the terms. Sylvia argued that yes it is true that these younger generations are growing up in the world of technology, but calling them digital natives is a cop- out to not have to actually teach these children anything about technology. Just because they grow up in the world of technology does not mean they necessarily know how to use every aspect of the digital world in benefit for their learning experience. It is still up to us as educators to help students and teach them new and evolving ways of the digital world. I can definitely agree with this point because ever since I entered into Professor Heil's Ed 422 class on technology and education, I was amazed and saddened at how many web based resources there were available to students and that I did not discover them sooner in my years of schooling! How much easier it all would have been.

As I read through Marc Prensky's argument that the digital native is not a myth, I started understanding and agreeing with him as well. He states that the term "Digital Native" does not necessarily have to mean that you are supposed to have knowledge of everything. He describes it as a metaphor of a cultural experience. Being a digital native just means that children are more comfortable with digital technology and tend to learn quicker when they use different digital tools.

As educators, how do we bridge the gap between digital natives and immigrants?
I think that as educators we need to constantly be on top of the digital world. We need to go the extra mile for our students and understand that our times are emerging and children have various needs that have to be met.

How do we achieve this bridging of the gap?
Developing the PLN is an excellent way to be on top of the educational world. Joining online communities such as Classroom 2.0 or Twitter can connect you with people from across the world and bring you up to date quicker than one can imagine.

Journal 9

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading, 39(3), 12-15.

Annette Lamb discusses the concept of reading and compares it from the older days to more recent times. Years ago, reading consisted of opening a book, flipping through the pages and reading line by line. In our new digital world, reading has progressed to forms of e-books, interactive reading, reference databases, hypertext and trans-media story telling. In our emerging and growing digital age, we now have the Kindle, e-books and apps for the I-pad or I-phone or interactive storybooks on CD-ROM. It seems that these new forms of reading are catering to the needs of all diverse people in our world. There are many students that can not just sit down for two hours and read a book straight through. They might have more visual and active brains that do not have the will or want to force themselves to sit through a long book. Many of these apps for the I-pad or I-phone have e-books that allow the reader to adjust font color or size and add various graphics to what they are reading. This benefits those children who may have a learning disability or need extra help putting sentences together because it caters to their personal learning style.

How can educators incorporate e-books into classroom material?
Educators need to understand that these new forms of technology and reading enhance the learning experience for children. I did classroom observations at an elementary school and noticed that some teachers handed out I-phones to children who had learning disabilities. These i-phones had applications that helped the child pronounce words and put sentences together.

Is it beneficial to get rid of books altogether?

I think that getting rid of hard copies of books is not beneficial to students because it does not allow them to explore all areas of their learning abilities. Some students may not prefer reading via the digital world, rather they would open up a book and want to flip actual pages.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Journal 8

AAC, also known as Augmentative and Alternative Communication, incorporates all forms of communication that are used to express thoughts, needs or wants excluding oral speech. As humans, we all use AAC through facial expressions, gestures, or even write. AAC is used to help those with severe speech or language problems communicate their vital needs.
There are different categories of AAC which include no tech, low tech and high tech devices. No tech is a form of natural communication which includes gesturing, eye communication or sign language. This should be administered and translated by someone close to the child to identify the problem or want at hand.
Low tech is the use of physical materials such as pointing to particular pictures or the use of speech output systems. An example of a low tech device would be a communication board. Communication boards have familiar pictures of people, words, objects, symbols and numbers with words printed on top of the picture. The boards, pictured on the right, resemble large cards, folders, or books. The way the child communicates his or her thought is by looking at the picture/symbol, pointing with their fingers, or using a pointer stick. This could be used in the classroom to get by with asking or answering basic questions.

High Tech AAC devices can be activated by a pointer stick, body part, eyes, or an infrared light pointing tool. The child can select his or her option by turning on a switch on the device. Once the option is selected by the child, the high tech device can generate computer speech by the particular selection. An example of a high tech device would be DynaVox M3 displayed to the right. This device is primarily utilized by children and uses a voice output transmission. They have a dynamic display screen that includes a tracker system, touch screen, and scanning. It has word prediction and spelling that can initiate conversations, questions, and expression of feelings. This device is primarily used for those children just discovering their journey to speech output. This could be used in the classroom when there is an art project, group work, or for any verbal communication amongst the student’s peers. The digitized speech sounds are much more natural sounding which makes the transition of public use easier on the student.

The primary goal for children with special needs would be their inclusiveness into the general education population and the ease of being able to access their appropriate communication aids. One resource I found that would be most helpful in achieving this would be the Profiler Mounting System for AAC devices. This piece of hardware allows its users to mount their device to just about everything and anything. It has special tubing that is formulated to maneuver the device any which way. This hardware system fits with just about any communication device available on the market.

A software that I found very useful for those who have trouble speaking or can not speak at all was called EZ Keys by Words +. With its time saving and easy to use software, EZ Keys includes a dual word prediction and abbreviation expansion. This system learns your speaking patterns and adapts it to future use. For example, it displays a list of the last four to  five words used in conjunction with the previous word. Teachers could use this device in the classroom for those children who have a hard time participating or being involved in class activities. It allows them to stay up to pace with the rest of the children without feeling left out or disadvantaged.

I commented on Lindsey and Kara's Journal 8

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Journal 7

Discovering my Personal Learning Network

 A PLN or Personal Learning Network is the establishment of a community of people that share relevant information and new ideas with one another. These people typically share similar interests and goals with one another and join together through online networking systems such as Twitter, Diigo, or Classroom 2.0. These online resources allow communities of individuals from all over the world to support each other, connect, and consult with new ideas. Recently, I have established myself on these learning networks in regards to my interest in education. I am able to connect with people who are well experienced in the field and receive their opinions, feedback, and resources regarding the institution of education. Our education system needs to evolve with these new technological times. It is important as an educator to keep up with new inventions and ideas in order to challenge our future students. There are numerous resources out there on the World Wide Web that have opened my eyes to a new perspective on education. In developing my PLN, I have discovered its importance to the success of myself and my future students. It is a privilege to be able to connect with a renowned teacher from across the world and share ideas with him or her. Fifty years ago, one could not have even imagined the ability to connect with people the way we can today.
I have always heard of Twitter, but I simply refused to get one until the day I walked into EDUC 422. I always thought Twitter consisted of people who were obsessed with each other’s lives, and that was not my intention or desire. Once I created my account, I never imagined the endless possibilities with Twitter. I primarily use my account to “follow” people who have experience teaching and are interested in the betterment of education in general. I am currently following about 10 educators at the moment. One prominent educator on Twitter that posts a lot of fabulous quotes is Nicholas Provenzano. One particular quote from Nicholas that stood out to me was, “Education is not something we deliver, it is something we create.” He has so many inspiring and insightful views on education. Another woman that I met through #ntchat on Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m. was Lisa Dabbs (facilitator in this particular chat). She has taught for many years and was also a principal for numerous years. She is well established in the education community and was very helpful in the #ntchat. Before joining the chat on November 2 at 5 p.m. I downloaded Tweetdeck. This was very helpful as it organized my chats into different columns and slowed down the feed so that I was not overwhelmed with quick updates. The topic of discussion that was led by Lisa Dabbs was what principals could do to establish a welcoming relationship with new teachers. I wanted to participate, but I was not sure on the process of teacher-principal relationships. This chat made me realize that principals need to make their teachers feel welcomed into the community. I learned that principals should be people that new teachers feel safe to come to if they may need help. They should not feel judged by a principal, rather they should be able to freely questions and receive productive advice. As Lisa Dabbs pointed out, "The best principals lead by example. They are in the classrooms and on the fields and are always there to support you." Even though I did not know much about the subject or question at hand, I made sure that I let everyone know on this chat that I was thankful these resources and support groups are out here for new teachers. The words of wisdom and courage truly made me more excited and inspired for teaching as a career. 

Diigo is a unique web-based resource that incorporates a bookmarking system and also allows its users to connect with people with similar interests. Diigo's bookmarking service allows its users to bookmark several websites through their online storage system. This is beneficial because it expands the use of online resources making it accessible from any computer. Like Twitter, Diigo offers users the ability to connect with one another and share relevant web resources. I use Diigo primarily for educational purposes. I am currently following 9 prominent educators. They are constantly posting various links that provide advice and ideas about the education system. One particular link I found interesting was posted by Tara Seale. It was a link to a website that displayed the most read blogs by educators. This was helpful because not only was I able to connect with even more educators, but the blogs were a good read and very informative, being that they were considered the most popular and most read. Dana Huff is another person I chose to follow on Diigo. While being an English teacher, Dana has a Masters in Instructional Technology. I found that she had amazing insight to the connections of technology and education. While being a member of Diigo, she is also a member of Delicious, another web-based bookmarking system. This is beneficial because she syncs her bookmarks together which provides a larger list of resources to utilize. Michelle de Silva is another person that I follow on Diigo who is a Social Studies teacher for middle school students. I find her interesting because she posts interesting sites related to history and recent news on discoveries from across the world. Having a degree in History myself, I can definitely appreciate her resources. One important thing I noticed about Michelle was that she used the highlighting feature within Diigo.This is helpful because it allows the reader to jump to the sections of an article of most importance.

I joined the digital network called Classroom 2.0.This online community of educators is very useful because it includes numerous blogs from educators, live chat webinars and recordings about various educational needs/purposes. One interesting aspect of this website is that you need to be approved in order to become a member. This ensures that everyone on the site is there for educational purposes and are truly interested in the betterment of education. Not only do you make your own profile, but you can also send other educators comments/questions about specific items posted, such as example lesson plans. This is a very interactive way to obtain new ideas and connect with important people.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Journal # 6

Parr, B. (2011, July 16). Google : The complete guide. Retrieved from

 Ben Parr delves into the world of Google +, a new social networking tool that combines aspects of Twitter and Facebook. Google + allows its users to form and connect with various social networks in relation to particular interests, such as education. Rather than just obtaining mass amounts of friends in relation to Facebook, one can simply organize social groups into categories such as acquaintances or best friends. This helps users share different things with different groups of people. This allows for an easier and accessible way to manage privacy policies. Another interesting feature that Google + provides is the aspect titled, "Sparks." This search engine located within Google + allows users to discover relevant articles pertaining to your specific interests. Once an article of interest is found, the users can set up Hangout sessions to discuss with many different friends at once. This feature allows its users to have a live web chat with numerous friends and be able to see and talk to each person at once. Google+ also incorporates aspects of Twitter because it allows its users to re-share information and connect with people of similar interests. These aspects can greatly help build an educators PLN.

How could Google + be implemented in the classroom?
First of all, Google + will help build an educators PLN. The classroom can benefit from this greatly because they know their teacher will be up to date on all aspects relating technology and/or education. The greater the PLN, the more informative and relevant the educator for the benefit of the classroom.

Brogan, C. (2011, September 30). Educators: Google plus is for you. Retrieved from

Chris Brogan takes the world of Google + and discovers the elements that would be useful in a classroom. One of the most interesting ways that he states Google+ can be useful in the classroom is if the educator posts class discussions or debates. This way, the teacher can share this information directly with his or her students and everyone can have a chat or discussion on the topic. The way that one can make this more interactive is if the teacher sets up a Hangout session with the class and everyone can partake in a live group discussion. This is also beneficial because students can ask the teacher any particular questions they may develop while finishing their homework or other various assignments from class. The teacher can also bring in a guest speaker and include them in on the Hangout with the class. The guest speaker could be a prominent figure from anywhere in the world because Google+ allows you to connect with so many different people. This opens students up to greater possibilities in life through the constant interaction and development of new knowledge.

Would this be realistic for any teacher at any level?

I believe this aspect of Google+ should be monitored based on the maturity level of the students. I can not see a group of third graders utilizing these tools very much, but I think it is important to introduce them to it. Middle school levels could appropriately use these sources if monitored. I think it is important to begin children at early levels discovering new aspects of technology. They are already experts at technology, so why not engage and challenge them to the new developing technology.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Journal # 5

Potter, L., & Eilts, S. (2011). Is cursive writing worth teaching?. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(2), 7-8. Retrieved from

While the world is advancing and developing in technology, some educators tend to argue that cursive writing is useless and will never again be utilized in the classroom. They also argue that if we take the time to teach cursive in these advancing technological times, the learning capability for technology will go down in students due to time wasted in teaching cursive. While all of these arguments are valid points, the importance of cursive in the classroom reaches far beyond wasting time in class. I believe that teaching cursive will not only improve motor skills in younger children, but it will also allow them to read old text written in this style for historical purposes. If one makes the argument against cursive, it is almost as if they are saying that history means nothing to our students. Cursive was very prominent throughout the very beginnings of our very own country. If we do not teach our students to write in this way, they will not be able to research or connect to the historical meaning of our country. Another argument that can counter anti-cursive education would be the fact that it is important to give students the option of how they want to write in their future. Some people in today’s time use cursive as their main source of handwriting. It is a preference some students may want to choose for themselves. Why take that right away? Also, if one argues that cursive is “growing out of style,” then why have signature lines on important legal documents? Apparently, cursive still has importance in some aspect of our community?
What about those disabled students who lack in the motor skills or ability to produce any form of writing?
~ As an educator, I would not penalize those students for lack of ability to write in cursive. Rather, I would find a digital source, such as an iPad or digital voice activation source that aids in their ability to contribute a thought to paper. Those students who are able to write should be taught everything in which cursive entails. Students should not be denied any form of education.

How could you incorporate technology and cursive in the classroom?
~ The iPad is a wonderful source to use in the classroom because it has so many different apps that support learning. One application they have that would aid in learning cursive would be the iStudious. This particular application has a digital notebook where students can take their own notes or even practice their cursive while taking notes. This app saves the notes they have taken and also allows students to make digital flashcards from these notes. It is something that should be incorporated into classrooms. It allows the art of cursive, taking notes and learning become fun and interactive.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Journal #4

Basham, J., Perry, E., & Meyer, H. (2011). It's in the bag. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(2), 25-26. Retrieved from

The education in the United States is predominately geared around a tight structural organization. It has been engrained in the minds of students to come to class, takes notes, and ask questions. This structure leaves little room for leading, problem solving and the ability to think for oneself. The idea presented about a Digital Backpack is a fantastic way to incorporate developing student’s technology skills as well as promote individuality and problem solving skills. I think that this idea would be difficult to find funding for by the state, but it should be implemented in as many classrooms as possible. The main objective of the Digital Backpack was to meet and cater to the diverse learning goals of various students. Each child has different ways and levels of learning. Some students are visual, while others are more hands on. Some students are also a little slower in understanding the material. The Digital Backpack brings all of these elements together, if utilized and administered properly. It allows for students to work at their pace and gives them the tools to solve their own problems. Hopefully in the near future, the world will recognize that technology is only growing faster and faster. It is something that will be in high demand for a while, therefore it is imminent to allow students to grow with the forever advancing world.

How would a potential teacher utilize this resource in his or her classroom?
~ I think this answer depends on the age range and grade level of the students. Younger students could use this to create digital art projects given certain programs with instructions. They could also use particular pre- installed apps to become acquainted with technology etiquette such as the prevention of cyber bullying or plagiarism. Older and more advanced students could use this resource as a means to complete digital projects and interactive apps. If the teacher had an online class blog, a Digital Backpack would be handy in pulling out during class to read and comment on each other’s blog entry during class.

How would you find that balance between flexibility and time efficiency?
~It is important to recognize that this device needs to be utilized properly in order for it to be effective. It has to allow for flexibility as well as time management. Students should be able to quickly grasp the concept with the instructions provided and be able to finish their assignments by a particular due date. I think a good way to administer these concepts would be to dedicate particular days of the week to a Digital Backpack session. This would allow students to focus on one thing throughout the day. You would have to be careful of scattering their brains with too much at once.