Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Game of Thrones, Oh How I Love Thee

So I've decided to make this post to somewhat promote my new favorite show on television, HBO's Game of Thrones.  Pretty much Game of Thrones is a medieval fantasy type show with a wide variety of characters and many different plots going on.  The show is based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.  I'm guilty of not having read the source material, which I hear is excellent, but I'm going to change that this summer when I actually have time to devote to several 600+ page novels.  Anyways the show is really fantastic and I highly recommend for fans of genre.  Be warned, it is on HBO so of course it does have its fair share of "bad" language and nudity, but that really shouldn't shy anyone away from the awesome show since we're all adults here haha.  I just really like that according to fans of the books the show does a great job of staying true to the source material, which at often times is rare (The Walking Dead :( ).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The End of the Blog

First off I would just like to say that my overall experience with blogging was a very positive one. I learned about the interests, ideas and beliefs of my peers as well as about myself. It is a great way to share ideas, interact with others, think and  learn. You can blog about anything and you can read a blog about anything. I think the most important lesson I've learned is that everyone has a voice and you just don't have to physically speak out loud for it to be heard! You can blog. However, I'm not going to say that I'm going to miss the fear of forgetting to do my blog every week and what I was possibly going to blog about. With that being said, it was a great and memorable experience but it's time to put my keyboard to rest, at least for this class.

Helpful Tips on Reducing Stress

It's that time of year again, the end of the semester. A time when we kick ourselves for letting that procrastination sneak up on us resulting in lock ins at the library pulling all nighters and drinking endless amounts of coffee and energy drinks. Here's a few helpful tips to help us keep that end of the semester stress at a minimum. Tip 1-Get away from the stress! Take some you time, go for a walk. a drive, anything to give your mind a break. Tip 2-Take a few minutes and do absolutely nothing, don't check your email, don't check your phone, just sit and relax. Tip 3-Spend 15-20 minutes doing something fun. Watch some YouTube videos, read a magazine, play a video game, call up a family member or friend to chat. Tip 4-Get some exercise. Go for a jog, a bike ride, play a game of basketball with friends or try a new class at the gym. Tip 5-Attend a sporting event or watch one on TV at a friends house or a Sport's Bar and Grill. Relax and enjoy your time away. Tip 6-Make a list of everything you have to get done and write it all down. It helps you get things done, keeps you on task and helps you feel accomplished! Best of Luck!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Graduate Programs: Online or In the Classroom

My girlfriend is currently looking at furthering her education by going for her graduate degree in Social Work. She has decided on Edinboro University's advanced standing program online. She felt that it would be easier for her to work full time and  still go to school by going online. Originally when she first started looking at programs she was torn between going to an actual classroom or going online. She had asked several people there opinions including two of her former professors. Her professors were against pursuing her degree online and told her it would better educationally for her to go to a classroom. Her current supervisor at her job received his Master's online in Psychology and said that he has never had anyone ever ask where he received his degree from or what his GPA was just that if he had the degree. He said he was even picked to get a job over someone who went to the classroom for the same degree. He said that it may not necessarily matter where you received your degree as long as you have the degree and the necessary experience.  My girlfriend will start classes in the summer and I know she will do great regardless of where the actual learning (online or in the classroom) will take place.

Educational Gaming Online

I was curious to see what type of educational websites were out there to help older students learn or review various lessons or concepts outside the classroom. One of the websites I found was MarcoPolo, a site that offers a number of educational games and tools. They have games such as Comic Creator, Printing Press and Literary Graffiti. Each game is linked to one lesson plan. Another site is PowerProofreading. It lets you review grammar concepts in a variety of ways such as letters, emails, scripts, etc. If you can't find any sites you like there is a site called Hot Potatoes which allows you to create your own puzzle or games using their free software. I'm not sure if students would use these sites outside the classroom without being told to do so but these websites could be really helpful to students who go to online charter schools.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

University YouTube Channels

I'm sure some of you are aware of this, but I just stumbled upon a list of YouTube channels set up by some very prestigious universities.  A lot of these channels are full of interesting lectures that could be a great compliment or teaching tool in the classroom.  Besides that, that are very interesting to listen to.
MIT - Course Playlist
Stanford - Course Playlist
Yale - Course Playlist
Harvard - Course Playlist
The Open University Course Playlist

Three Ring

I happened upon this app called Three Ring, which seems like it could be a really interesting tool as a future teacher.  Basically, the app lets you take a screenshot of something and then lets you save these pictures into different folders and whatnot on the app itself.  It may be an easier way to save students work perhaps?Three Ring

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Artist's Walk

I was looking up the benefits of taking students outside for class and came across an idea known as the Artist's Walk. It was created by a teacher in Ontario. For the past couple of years she has taken her 8th grade  students on a walk every Friday morning. In order to engage her students she created a narrative guide for their walk. She chose 5 specific spots, a tree, school field,an area with rocks, top of a hill and a stream. For each stop, she collected some of her own reflections as well as those of poets, artists and others who have written about that characteristic. Afterwards she had students write and talk about their experience. Many students stated that they were able to notice things they never took time to notice before. She even had students create their own versions of the Artist's Walk. Some used the stopping points and found songs that applied to them and were able to relate this aspect to their lives in general. Other's were able to speak of the fact that nature can inspire writing and creativity. I think this idea is pretty powerful and can really open up the eyes of our students and take them out of their element. I wouldn't mind using this idea in a classroom one day.

Procrastination:Early Intervention

Procrastination. Most of us do it at some point in our lives. We can procrastinate going to an appointment, paying our bills or most importantly doing our work. We make up countless excuses of why we can't sit down and write a paper for class. I'll do it tomorrow before class, it won't take long, we tell ourselves. This paper is going to take forever, I'll work on it this weekend. In the time period it takes to reason with ourselves of why we should put off doing our work, the paper could have been researched, written and handed in. As a future educator and procrastinator myself, I think it's important that we intervene early when it comes to our students. I'm not saying we are going to stop our students from procrastinating. I'm just saying that we should teach students ways to avoid procrastination and reward and encourage that behavior. For example, when I'm having my English class write a paper I might give them time in class to work on it. I might also set deadlines for different parts of the paper. This gives them a head start and breaks the paper down into smaller chunks.  I might also try and use a reward system and motivate students to get things done. Maybe I'd give a couple extra  points to people who turned assignments in early. Another thing I might do is after a big project or paper was turned in, I might have a class where we just watched a movie and had a snack as a reward for getting things done and doing something fun and mentally relaxing. The point is that we should motivate and encourage our students to be and do better but also remember that we were in their shoes once.    

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Benefits of Teaching Foreign YAL

I noticed that a variety of blogs deal with young adult literature and what we may or may not teach to our students in the classroom. I think that as a teacher I would definitely be open to having my students read some foreign young adult literature. It would open up a new found appreciation for other countries and their cultures as well as create a new learning experience for students. You could also connect it to other classes that students may have. Some of the titles that I would be interested in teaching are Crutches in which a German boy is separated from his mother after the war and befriended by a legless German soldier. Another title is Hand Full of Stars in which a teenager from the Middle East keeps a diary detailing his involvement in an anti-gov newspaper. Shizuko's Daughter is another novel about a young Japanese girl who resides in America after her mother kills herself so that her daughter can have a better life free from her father and stepmother. There are many benefits to teaching foreign YAL to students. The hardest part is actually being able to obtain these books. It is best to look for them with small publishing co. and university presses.

iEarn (International Education and Resource Network)

When I become a teacher I really would like to do something that would connect my students with other students across the world exposing them to other cultures, ideas and religions. I really wouldn't mind working with iEARN (International Education and Resource Network). The non -profit organization is made up of 30,000 schools and youth organizations in more than 130 countries. It allows students to work on educational projects with their peers in other countries. These projects are significant.They teach students about major issues and concerns going on in other countries and allow them to work together on a common goal.   For example, a classroom in Colorado helped their peers in Botswana participate in a project titled the Eradication of Malaria. Students analyze causes and effects as well as prevention and the treatment of Malaria. I feel that something like this can expand a student's perception and strengthen their reason as well as teach them that they themselves are capable of creating change no matter age,ethnicity,economic background,etc. To see the impact that iEARN can have on a student you can watch the video above.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Team E-book or Team Paper Book?

Books, we've all read at least one, one time or another. You know, the covered thing with the pages in the middle. No? How about all that text on that kindle you carry around. Yes? Now you know what I mean when I say book, or should I say E-book. Is one form really better than the other? You can find a paper book anywhere. However, you can carry multiple e-books on one device minus the back strain. Paper books are cheap yet e-books are good for the environment. You can take notes in a paper book but in an e-book you can find these notes quickly and easily. You better have a lamp or a flashlight handy if you want to read your paper book. You can read your e-book wherever you'd like. It comes with display lighting. However,you need to be careful when reading your e-book. It may cause significant eye strain. Paper books don't come with that sort of warning. You can spill a cup of coffee on your paper book and you can still use it. Good luck spilling anything on your e-book reader. If that's the case, you better hope your warranty is still good, otherwise I'd try putting that thing in some rice. Paper books don't catch nasty software bugs that cause them to freeze up, but if that's the case with your e-book you need to get to a software doctor stat. I'd try the Geek squad at Best Buy. You don't have to charge the battery life on your paper book however some e-book reader's battery life last only a few hours. Whatever it is that you prefer, the point is that you just READ! Afterall, it's the words themselves that are the most important. 


The Affects of Movies on Books and Vice Versa

Recently, I did a podcast on The Hunger Games with a fellow student. It prompted me to think about the affects movies have on books and vice versa. The whole reason I started reading The Hunger Games series was because I saw previews for the movie months ago and heard it was based on a series of books that people could not put down. I ordered all three books on my kindle and I too could not stop reading them. I was addicted. I told my girlfriend and my roommate about the books. They became addicted and then they told people about them. It spread like wildfire. I feel that movies can be helpful in elevating the popularity of a novel or a series of novels. I don't know a Walmart or Target that does not have all three books stocked on their shelves. The same may be said for the Twilight Series as well as Janet Evanovich novels. People like me see these movie trailers, find out they are based on books and want to read them. However, the same can be said for the influence of books on the movie industry. People fall in love with the characters and story  in a novel and  want to see the images they create in their mind come to life on the big screen. Hollywood knows this and takes these novels  and turns them into guaranteed box office hits. I feel that books help movies just as much as movies help books. It's something I'd call a win win.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


While reading through Kajder, I happened upon a site that seemed really interesting to me, especially since we've been talking in class about online resources that can help both the teacher and student in the classroom collaboratively, Diigo.  The book does a good job of explaining how it works, starting on page 65.  Basically, it's a way you can highlight certain things off the web, such as excerpts from articles that may be prevalent to a lesson you are teaching in the classroom, and sharing it with your students.  This is a great video I found that improves on the introduction given by the book, and shows how it can be yet another resource that help teachers in the technology age.

Digg: The Informational Time Waster

I just wanted to make a quick post about how entertaining the website digg.com is.  Before Dan presented about it in class, I had used it casually just because I heard about it found some interesting articles.  Now this was probably 2 or 3 years ago, but now I find myself on it nearly every day.  Not only is the site great for wasting time, it's also an interesting source for just about any news article you can think of, revolving around numerous popular subjects.  The idea of using digg in the classroom is a brilliant idea in my opinion, since the website can potentially be an endless torrent of information.  The one thing that we didn't really touch on in the class was the whole concept of "digging" an article.  Browsers of the site can digg articles that they find interesting and fascinating, I always thought this was a great tool for weeding out the unnecessary articles, and bringing the best to the top, for everyone to see.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Power of Skype:Changing the Classroom

In class we discussed the communication software Skype and how it can be used in the classroom to benefit the learning experience. I found this discussion really interesting and eye opening to just what technology can do for students in the classroom environment as well as teachers in the school community. Skype can provide students the opportunity to speak with authors and guest speakers they might not otherwise get the chance to see. This type of experience engages students in the learning process by having them ask questions and participate in discussion. Another unique project students can do using Skype is the Skype Pen Pal Project. This gives classrooms the opportunity to communicate with other classrooms across the country or even the world.If you want to stay close to home, you can interact with other classes in your school to enhance the sense of school community.  You can even arrange discussion groups with other classes to get different perspectives from readers of others cultures and backgrounds. Skype can also be used for Parent/Teacher conferences for those parents who are unable to meet face to face. Skype can even be used for teachers or school districts to meet with education experts or other schools and districts who faced similar obstacles. For more information on Skype and its power in the classroom visit  http://education.skype.com/.