All Good Things Must Come To An End

Web 2.0 was something new to me just a few months ago, but after completing a course full of assignments that required the knowledge of many Web 2.0 apps I feel like I can consider myself a digital citizen. One of the first things I learned in class was how to blog. Blogging is the ability to write to an audience online, instead of on paper. I have learned the proper structure of a blog; not too short, not too long and make it look pretty, but not too pretty (basically). There is much more to it, though, as blogging is considered the main form of writing online nowadays. I learned that blogging can be turned into a unit stretched over five weeks and that children as young as 11 years old have accomplished the skills it takes to blog. More specifically, WordPress has become a second nature site to venture on because I have used it so much recently. Another site that I have become extremely accustomed to is Twitter, which offers more than just funny quotes and news updates. Twitter can be used educationally just as much as it can be used socially. Tweet chats are a way for students to be able to talk with professionals and experts over a chat, but it only happens at a designated time. Through this, students (actually anybody) can begin to build their own personal learning network, or PLN’s. Remember those? 

As a professional, having a blog site like this one really looks good, even if the person hasn’t read it yet. When my name is searched in Google, this blog comes up as one of the first finds and it really sets the tone for the image the viewer is creating of me. Assuming future employers will be the ones searching, having a professional blog and Twitter really makes a difference because it means that I have mastered the ability of both and can be officially published for everyone to see. I also feel professional in the sense teaching how to use these types of devices in my classroom. Imagine if 8th graders could begin learning how to blog, what they could create by the end of the year? This will start them on the right foot and in the right direction of digital literacy.

Overall, the skills I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve undergone with blogging and microblogging (Twitter) have led me to believe that I can continue to use them anywhere. Whether I am a teacher or a parent, teaching kids how to effectively use Web 2.0 is something that I will strive to do because of the advantages I know that come with it. I want my students and children to be more digitally competent than I ever was because of the success that stems from the abilities it teaches you. Keep calm and blog on!Image 

Using Social Media To Counteract Cyber-Bullying

Recently, I have taken interest in an issue that has always been serious, but has yet to achieve the recognition it deserves. The issue of bullying in schools is one that has been, and will always be, serious for individuals at any age (see the story of Tyler Clementi). Bullying does not just effect the victim, it effects the friends and family of the victim, the aggressor(s) and the bystanders.

Bullying has such a loose definition nowadays that one cannot see if it is actually happening or not. The saying “boys will be boys” is an accepted excuse for boys to be mean and aggressive. The movie “Mean Girls” is a popular movie that is based on the stereotypes of popular girls vs. newer girls, but our society is so influenced by appearance that everyone just perceives the movie as “funny” and “cute” instead of “knowledgeable” and “informing”. Bullying is a serious issue, but even more so now in the Digital Age with social networks becoming the norm. People hide behind their computers to judge and discriminate others because they don’t realize the effect of harsh criticism, but there is hope and that is in the fashion of It Gets Better”, a YouTube series that was created in lieu of young students committing suicide.

Dan Savage is a columnist who is openly gay and he came up with the idea of making videos of himself, with other adults who are gay, sharing their own stories and suggestions to younger individuals who are gay, but are being bullied for it. The message is that it gets better. Savage says, “Hearing kids commit suicide, the reaction as a gay adult is ‘Gosh, I wish I could have just talked to them for fifteen minutes or five minutes and tell them that it gets better.”

Social media has taken over and offers a lot of advantages for everyone, but it also has it’s downsides as it allows for more verbal harassment that turns into emotional distress. Savage decided to take action by means of giving them (the cyber-bullies) a taste of their own medicine. He combats social media bullying with social media therapy and the idea has rapidly grown popular across YouTube, so much so that President Obama even sent his own message on the channel (see here).

Cyber-Bullying is tough to control because there are no police for it, so the only way to help raise awareness is to be educated. Bullying is too often looked over and is not taken as serious as it should, so take the time and make the effort to make some type of change because every little bit can go a long way.

You Don’t Have To Be So Smart for a Smart Board

Recently, I was in my host classrooom for observations and was teaching a lesson. My host teacher always uses the Smart Board for everything he does. His classroom is small as it is, but the Smart Board is located directly in the middle of the room and takes up a good section of the wall. He uses his finger like a wand as it moves pictures, changes sites, and making images bigger or smaller. He also uses the marker to write down notes for students to copy. Who am I kidding? You know how a Smart Board works; you don’t have to be smart to use one.

How did the Smart Board come to be? Most of us were probably introduced to them in high school, but never knew where they came from or why they were there. Being the digital citizens that we are now, we realize now how essential having a Smart Board can really be. A Smart Board is an interactive whiteboard that enables the instructor to uses touch detection, such as scrolling and clicking, for user input in the same way as a Image

normal computer would. “All” a Smart Board includes is an interactive whiteboard that is attached to a computer which is hooked to a projector that projects the contents on the computer screen to the board. It’s just that simple.

Such an advantage is great for classrooms for many reasons, most of which can be seen at here. Some advantages on the list include that they are great for demonstrations (especially for visual learners and special ed students), all ages of students seem to respond favorably to the board, and it is an excellent tool for a constructivist teacher (which we all are trying to be!) These, among many other reasons, is exactly why schools are acquiring more Smart Boards and requiring their teachers to be fluent in it. That was my one fear with my lesson; I was unsure with my capabilities with a Smart Board and was afraid that my lack of skills would cause as a distraction during my lesson. I believe for all incoming teachers, there should be a workshop on how to effectively use the Smart Board for all its use. Plus, feeling confident with technology makes you look, and feel, better as a teacher.

PLN Is The Plan

Personal Learning Networks, or Professional Learning Networks, sound too high-tech, but are actually very simple. It’s the same as participating in dialogic inquiry, duhhhh. I’m only joking; I don’t expect you to know either of these terms, but you should know the benefits of both. 

Recently in one of my education classes (shout out to Block 1), we discussed a teaching method known as “dialogic inquiry” In a nutshell, dialogic inquiry is when individuals can share ideas with one another and absorb knowledge, then translate their knowledge into their own language, which in turn translates into their personal literacy. How does this relate to PLN’s? Well, Personal Learning Networks are the groups of people you choose as your “someone” who you get information from. PLN’s can be as small as a few teachers in the faculty room, or as big as a TweetChat.

Either way, PLN’s are beneficial because of the access that is gained through joining other individuals who are inquiring about the same thing. Having a PLN is like having Google in your back pocket, except (ready for it?)…Google is old news. Yes, the almighty search engine that has acted as Ole Faithful for every single one of us is now put second to such social media networks as Twitter and Facebook. These networks foster group discussion that have lighting quick responses and is open to everyone; meaning that you can connect with a professional scholar in England with just a click of a button.

Personal Learning Networks are something every school district should introduce into their faculty meetings and board meetings. In my eyes, there are only advantages to sharing ideas out loud and learning together. Not to be cliche (because I never am), but two heads are better than one. Now imagine multiple heads that all have professional input. That’s the plan!

“What The FM I Sill Doing Up Radio” Was A Hit!

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This past week I was able to channel my inner-DJ and go back to my old radio show host roots with our latest project. The assignment was to create a 20 minute radio show that included an intro, outro, music, bumpers, an audio effect all on the program GarageBand. Our professor explained to us how students in the past have really enjoyed doing this project, and to be honest, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Freshman and sophomore year in college, I was a host of my own sports talk show on the WSUC radio show here at SUNY Cortland. It wasn’t a requirement for a class or anything, I did it because I wanted to. I took a public speaking class in high school and found all the speaking and presenting very easy, so I knew that talking on a live radio show for this project would not be an issue for me. With saying that, I also had to learn how to work the switchboard and audio vault they had in the studio, which was not my expertise. “Just set it up and tell me when we’re on” I used to say, but I couldn’t say the same to my partners/co-hosts Kim and Cassie. I knew this was going to be a lengthy project, so I knew we were going to need chemistry and teamwork. Sure enough, as soon as we met up and began to brainstorm our outline, we got the ball rolling and things were looking good. But o wait…

Ever say to yourself, “Man that would suck if that ever happened…”? Well, some dreams come true, right? As if the fates knew we were getting too cocky with our progress, with just a few clicks our project was half gone.This was no dream; it was a nightmare! I heard the two most subtle words that you don’t ever really want to hear from your partner: “O no.” In between our amazing commercials and funny callers, some of our recordings were deleted and progress was lost. After a brief two minute freak out, we sat back down and collected ourselves because we knew time was against us and we needed to get back into it if we ever wanted to finish.

This time around, we took everything a bit more serious and with a little more caution. NOTE TO EVERYBODY: SAVE YOUR WORK. We had to re-record segments and bumpers we already did, but this time it came out sounding more smooth and natural because it was like reading from the brain, not the page. Our voices were calm and collective (except during the white girl freak out by Kim), but our minds were filled with concern. Should we keep going at it tonight? Are we even going to get this done? This was an intense moment for us, but we came together and pulled through to complete with no other flaws. Kim took the liberty of watching a half hour long documentary on how to use GarageBand, just because she knew that we had to figure it out or else we would be in trouble. It’s effort like that from group members that motivate you to do your part.

Please listen to our radio show and imagine a radio show that is meant to be a hotline for college students stressing out over homework and deadlines. Listen to how we tried to take on the different personalities of college students, while still using our own to create the right segment. We each put our own style into the project and it ended up coming out like we know what we are doing or something.

My job was easy; be creative and be funny. You got it! Coming up with commercial and caller dialogue came easy to me as we each did our own little part to help get us back on track. When it was all said and done, our project turned out great and we can’t wait to let everyone else hear it. We hit rock bottom when some content was deleted, but kept our heads up and carried on. I am extremely happy with the result and even more proud of our team.

Dr. Seuss and Social Media?

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Yes, your beloved Dr. Seuss can now be connected to yet something else important in your life: social media. Known for his life lessons and children’s books, Dr. Seuss has become one of our favorite authors to read because of his wisdom in words. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that I believe Dr. Seuss is one of the premier philosopher’s of my generation. To be honest, I wouldn’t ever had made the connection if it wasn’t for Will Richardson’s mention in one of his tweets. He tweeted this link, which led me to an article written by Pam Moore on ragan.com titled “15 social media tips from Dr. Seuss.”

Here are a couple of quotes that you might know and their connections to social media:

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

How true! Be true to yourself, even if you are writing to a different set of audience over social media. No matter the platform or the audience, you should always be the real, true you.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

When performing critical literacy, asking the tough questions is necessary to finding the true answers. When researching a topic to blog about, it is important to thoroughly evaluate all of its components so that the reader can understand the bigger picture.

Dr. Seuss is a teacher’s dream because of all the valuable life lessons that are taught, such as loyalty in “Horton Hear’s a Who” and diversity with the star-bellied sneeches. I encourage anyone, a fan of the blog or not, to go back and take a look at just how strong Dr. Seuss’s words are. We were so young when we were first introduced and were not knowledgeable enough to understand the life value in his stories. Now he we are, young adults in the middle of the digital age and trying to simplify the complexity of it all just so we can be considered citizens, and I am advising you to trace your roots and take advice from the great Dr. Seuss.

Not all of his quotes and sayings can be connected to social media or even to education. This may not be the most intellectual source of knowledge when it comes to handling social media, but the fact of the matter is that it is the most simple. Just remember: “You have your brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Ever Wonder What “Teach-nology” We Will Have?


Recently, I have been blogging about how technology will soon be more advanced in the classroom. Discussing topics such as the risks and benefits of it, how teachers need to become prepared, and how if you aren’t savvy enough with it then you are essentially illiterate. This movement has been creatively coined “Teach-nology” and it is a hot topic on the web. But with all that talk, there is no show. I asked myself, “What exact types of technology will we see?” and it got me thinking about different types of apps that I could try to work into my curriculum. Imagine your teacher telling you to grab an iPad of the shelf and play Words With Friends, how cool would that be?

I catch myself thinking about questions like that, but then never make the effort to research them. This one, though, intrigued me because of the authenticity of it all. Soon it will be me who will be using these devices instead of just inquiring about them. But what are they? I did what every individual does when they have a question; typed it into Google. I was actually surprised of the amount of articles that had the key words “technology”, “future”, and “apps in the classroom”. I’ve been realizing lately how real this movement of “Teach-nology” is because of all the articles that have already been published for months and sometimes even years ago. It doesn’t seem real right now to me because I don’t have an example I can refer to, only assumptions.

When I saw one article titled, 50 Apps Students Will Be Using In Your Classroom, I knew I was about to find my answer. As to the point it is in the title, it is the same in the article. Once on the page, there is a list of 50 bold apps and what they do. Each app is also hyper linked to a page that explains in length the specific qualities of it. I wish I had my red Staples button because “that was easy”.

The apps are broken down into five sections: “Productivity & Organization“, “Reading and Writing, “Safety“, “STEM“, and “Reference“. From the list of 50, I chose one app under each topic that I would want to use in the classroom.

Under “Productivity & Organization“, there is an app for the iPhone and Android called myHomework which is an organizer for students to keep track of their homework, deadlines, and exams. This would help eliminate any problems of disorganization because it would already have a template in place in which students would just have to simply fill in their information. By being able to access on their phone, students can check at any time of the day because it is right in there pocket and not “in my locker”.

An app for “Reading and Writing” is one that everyone should be familiar with by the now, the Tablet. I really like the way a text looks off a tablet because it is a clear and defined enough for any reader to feel comfortable with. Also, I like the accessibility a student would have to search terms and ideas they are unfamiliar with.

 “Safety” is more for outside the classroom, but the Emergency Rescue Alarm app would be good for those students who might feel unsafe due to constant bullying and abuse. Teachers cannot see everything that goes on, especially in the hallways, so that app would allow for students to alert the proper authorities to help handle the situation.

STEM apps pertain to more of the science and math departments, but as a teacher I can appreciate tools being created that make life easier for the student. They have an app that brings a top of the line graphing calculator to the palm of your hands. Eliminating losing it, being turned off from buying it because of the the price, and the accessibility of it being smaller.

Finally, under apps for “Reference“, they have a Dictionary.com and a Thesaurus.com one that will bring more vocabulary and synonyms to the students. I would want my students to use ‘big boy words’, or professional words, rather than using simple terms to help boost their paper as well as their literacy.

This gets me excited and anxious to begin becoming familiar with Teach-nology and using apps like this because I have grown up on apps, so bringing them into my classroom would be fun for my students as well as for me. 

Being “Literate” Is More Than Reading and Writing

We often judge individual intelligence by their literacy, but what falls under “literacy” anymore?   Being competent in reading and writing is old news in the 21st Century. Technology will soon be taking the place of books and papers. The platforms that are available to complete work in are steadily increasing as innovations such as the iPad are making assignments easier right from the palm of your hand. The younger generation call the older generation “not cool” for being behind with technology, but now it seems that the word “illiterate” will soon take the place of those words.

Think about it like this: How fast has it taken for new technology to be considered useful in a classroom? The perfect example to answer this is PowerPoint. It has taken over at schools and businesses alike. It acts as “Ole’ Reliable” for us when we need to create and perform a presentation. But why the push for new literacy in the classrooms? What does new literacy even mean?

The New London Group, a team of academics that focus on new literacy, has come up with a definition that helps tie this all together. They define literacy as having the “understanding and competent control of representational formats that are becoming increasingly significant in the overall communications environment…” To put it more simply, new literacy in the classroom is having the ability present your visual ideas on different multimedia platforms. Teachers need to prepare their students to become ‘literate’ in this new literacy because their future jobs depend on it.

Teaching literacy through visualizations is truly the only way to reach out to a person, I mean just look at the effects of advertising. Advertisers make their money off of interest and engagement from consumers using different styles of visual literacy. By incorporating those styles into the classroom, the teacher can now become the advertiser and the students the consumers. They can connect better with their students by putting it into a language they all speak; a language that has been created by rise of social media. (Check what Erin Riesland said about visual communicators ‘holding the power’ in today’s society).

Society is keeping more up to date with modern technology than our classrooms. Teachers need to prepare their students for life outside the classroom; a world of technology in our every day lives. Businesses will expect their employees to know how to create visual presentations effectively. Owners will expect their workers to be able to use visual literacy to help promote business. Being literate is more than reading and writing, it’s about being able to use digital skills in real-life, every day scenarios. Many of us aren’t there yet, but will need to learn quick.Image

Digital Citizenship: Is this the new green card?

I, for one, have had some trouble trying to define “digital literacy” in a way that makes sense to me. I am a visual learner, and it is ironic I mention that because that is exactly what digital literacy fosters. Here is a two minute video that visually, and creatively, breaks down how to become a digital citizen. Is this type of citizenship going to be the new right of passage?

The video begins with a moment most of us can probably relate to; when we begin to search something extremely broad in Google and it only gives us extremely broad examples and definitions. But actually, that is a sign of our lack of digital citizenship because we are not searching the right terms or using the right sources. Being a digital citizen is to become familiarized with social media and the internet. Both have blown up extensively within the last decade; with the internet becoming available at the swipe of your pinky and the total amount of users on Facebook surpassing 750 million people. If we are not apart of this movement, are we therefore digital ‘immigrants’?

Digital literacy will forever be hard to catch up on (just getting the iPhone 4s when the 5 just came out), but it is much bigger than just mobile devices. Technology in schools is becoming more prominent and we, as the emerging generation, need to be ready to handle it all. Wait, wait, wait….is that a threat? It might as well be because just as reading and writing skills were once the gauge for intelligence, digital competency (I mean citizenship) will soon hold the same weight.

A Digital Immigrant Trying To Make It In A Digital World

After 9 hours and numerous re-recordings, I finally managed to create my first full blown PowerPoint based on the upcoming technology that will soon make its mark in the education system. The reason I mentioned the amount of time I put in is to show you how much of a process it is to break down such an extensive and detailed report.

Within the 46 page report, he enlightens the reader about the types of technology we (aspiring teachers) will soon encounter out in the field. He mentions how devices such as the IPad and tablet will soon be looked upon as books and assignments. The future holds for us advances in the curriculum like you couldn’t believe! “What do you mean I can just go home and download Huckleberry Finn on my kindle? I don’t need to sign it out of the library?”

How many times have you been in a class and it felt too crowded? How many times did you wish you weren’t sitting next Ms. Sneezes or Mr. Coughs? (Not to sound like a cheesy info commercial, but..) Now you can! According to the report, one of the items on the mid-term horizon list is the creation of PLE’s, or Personal Learning Experience, where students will be able to be the in the comfort of their own element, completing an assignment via online, and doing so at their own pace.

These are just a few of the innovations that are coming our way. Teachers: We need to pick up on these devices and learn them as fast as we can because if we are not masters of them by the time our students have them, then we are not the best teachers we could be.

Below is a link to my PowerPoint project based on my findings.