Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EasyBib Classroom 2.0

I HATE doing bibliographies, I find them time consuming and an all together pain--what type does the professor want, how many sources are required, etc. I have used KnightCite for years to do my bibliographies, but yet I wonder why I don't understand the process. EasyBib is a step in the right direction for helping to stop this problem. The program does most of the work for you, but the creators intended for it to be: accurate, quick, and to learn the process of making a bibliography.

Throughout the discussion the creators described the features, and they go beyond making a bibliography. The program has many useful writing tools that would have been a lot more helpful a week before I graduated from high school rather than a week before I graduated from college!!! There are outline tips, note taking tips, brainstorming ideas, the list goes on and on.

This is going to really impact the way we look at bibliographies. Does anyone really need an APA guidebook like I have in my bookshelf? Probably not, (small disclaimer: the free aspect of EasyBib includes MLA) things like EasyBib and KnightCite are going to basically eliminate the need for those guidebooks. The benefit is that we are not eliminating the GUIDE out of guidebooks, just books. The sites are still teaching the importance of citing materials and finding credible sources, but there will be no 300 page book to thumb through to find an answer.

Bibliographies are important in every class in secondary education, but are primarily taught in English classes. It is my job as a social studies teacher to carry what the English teacher is instructing over to my classroom. I will incorporate this into my own classroom because I am so clueless about bibliographies that I need the guidance that EasyBib offers. I also hope to use the resources provided regarding research as a guide for my students. What a great and FREE tool to use to prepare my students for their future!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Around the World Tour and Final Reflections

This quest was kind of challenging to me. I struggled to find 10 locations. Many places I assumed would have Second Life destinations did not, like the White House! I was surprised. Overall, after reflecting on my experience I am happy to say I am done. I am glad I experienced Second Life, but really it just overwhelmed me. I need more practice before I even think about incorporating it in my classroom. I hope that I can practice a little this summer, and maybe look into how other history teachers use it in their classroom.

Here is my Around the World Tour:

The Grand Canyon is a rock formation in Western United States. Explore the area and enjoy your time out in the good ol' West.

Dubai is a up and coming city in the United Arab Emirates. The culture is rich in this city, check out the gorgeous area.

Right in my backyard, and yet I've never been. Good thing we have Second Life, I was able to check out the famous President's faces on the rock.

The Taj Mahal is an iconic location that has many interesting discoveries along the way.

Walk the long stretch of the bridge, or you can conveniently teleport to different spots on the huge landmark.

A whole continent for this landmark? It's that good, explore the many aspects of Australia in one easy to navigate location.

Head on up to see Lady Liberty up close and personal. You'll never get a view of her like this.

Not exactly a landmark, but it is such an important aspect of our nation's history. Check out the culturally rich museum.

We'll always have Paris....and with Second Life you can visit Paris from the comfort of your own home (or in my case since my home internet cannot handle Second Life the comfort of the labs at school).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Touring Historical Landmarks

I just wrapped up another quest in the GameLab. I spent a lot of time on this quest because I thought it this Quest was probably the most beneficial when thinking about education and Second Life. I chose the historical note card because it interested me the most. I was excited to check out all of the locations and wanted to spend some quality time in each one to see it from my student's prospective.

The first location was the WWI recreation site. There was a literacy twist to this place, a lot of transcripts, poems, etc. There was also a recreation of the trenches, which I got to experience first hand from my avatar's perspective. Of course, we will never be able to really experience what it was like in the trenches this was fairly accurate. There were planes flying over, and the noises made it really life-like. The literacy twist made this really applicable for today's education standards. NCLB focuses so much on literacy and math, I think it is really important to incorporate reading and literacy into my social studies class. This location gave me a few ideas on how to do so.

The Utah location reminded me so much of Oregon Trail!!! It's this generations Oregon Trail:) I didn't get too much into this location because there were a lot of rules and I wasn't sure if I was breaking one and didn't want to get kicked out!! I think if I had a little more background and/or could contact the creator this would be something I would use in my classroom. The students would have to get dressed in the clothes, get ready to live in a simulated world.

Obviously the US Holocaust Memorial Museum was really my favorite aspect of this trip. WWII and the Holocaust are two of my favorite topics in history--it really is a shame we don't get to devote an entire class to that time period in most high schools. That time period really shaped the rest of our history and the Holocaust has shown us what a genocide is, and we can relate it to many of the current genocides that have occurred in our recent history. Literacy was prevalent here too! After wandering around the museum and looking at the exhibits the goal is to be able to report what happened on Kristallnacht and how the Jewish people were feeling during that time. The note cards were really informative without being too wordy, most were a paragraph.

There were a few links that did not work or that I wasn't too excited about. Cherokee Island wasn't available, and I was bummed I thought this one would be really exciting. The Parthenon loaded, but I was on an island. I realize Greece is an island--but I've been to the Parthenon in person and it was marble and rock not grass:) The Great Wall of China was a little disappointing too, I don't know if I just wasn't into it at the time. I thought there were too much going on around me and SL was running very very slow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I've Always Wanted.......

I have found my favorite part of Second Life, getting to be whatever and whoever I want!!! I have always wanted to be the rocker chick with piercings and tattoos, the girl everyone is afraid of but secretly wants to be! In Second Life I can be that girl, Cinderella, wear a man's suit, ANYTHING.

I did a lot of experimenting back and forth with weight and height but left those aspects relatively the same as they were defaulted. Here is a before picture.
At first I tried to keep it kind of the same as before to be somewhat similar to myself. I then realized, why?! I don't want to be me, I want to be the me I actually want to be! I went for the rocker chick look. Second Life labeled it "gamer girl, " although I feel like the fishnets make her a non gamer but whatever! I experimented with switching my hair color but could not figure it out! I moved the bar back and forth and saw little change--I must have been doing something wrong. After working on that for a good twenty minutes I decided to just pack it in and open it up to you all asking for help!

Here is the after.

So for all of you Second Life pros--if you have any suggestions as to why my hair color wouldn't change I'd be happy to take some suggestions.

Entering the Lion's Den

Quest Three led me to the Lionheart Orientation Island. This island went through the basic steps of Second Life, but also some of the menu options and details that are vital to surviving in the virtual world. This time around I worked on a computer on campus and that made a world of difference. The program ran faster, the screen was bigger, and it was just an over all better experience. I recommend this to anyone who is able to.
I really enjoyed the free gifts we were able to get. Free things are great! I also appreciated the instruction on how to change my clothes. It took a lot of instruction and a little help from a classmate--thanks Chase! I wanted to have a crazy outfit, but I settled with something pretty simple.

I also learned a lot about how the mouse works in Second Life. During class I was kind of confused about how we were supposed to sit down, touch things, etc. This provided a video-like instruction like we have had in the other quests but made me do the task right at that time. I had to grab the beach ball and set it on the table, I had to sit on the green ball and watch myself dance like a crazy person. I was confused why I was dancing around, I didn't read the entire instruction--that clarifed that one really quick.

I really enjoyed working on this quest. It was helpful to go through the two orientations, and it didn't seem as difficult as the previous two. Maybe that is because I am getting better?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Self Reflections

AHHHHHHHH! I kind of just want to scream and curse and yell and run around, that is how much Second Life frustrates me. It has been one thing after another, BUT I have figured out why I don't like it. 1) I am probably one of the most impatient people on this planet. SL runs beyond slow on my computer, my avatar lags and doesn't move in the right direction and then I get mad and click some more and then it freezes...the cycle never ends. 2) I am not good at it. Plain and simple, I am not good at running the arrows, not good at finding things, not good! :)

As it is 11:30 on Sunday after break, I realize now that this whole thing isn't going to come easy to me. Wish I could rewind and go back to last Sunday when I had an entire week to just relax--maybe I should have been practicing and playing on SL...hindsight is always better right? Well, now that I am playing around I have been improving. I don't know how much the videos helped as much as experimenting. I seriously struggle with the basic step of moving from point a to point b. I don't care that I have to admit this, that's the first step right?! It has been a very frustrating couple of hours though (yes this quest took hours, I'm slow). It took me 20 minutes to find the darn amphitheater, but when I did I ran around that place like it was nobodies business!
See here's the amphitheater! Can I video tape myself running around like a crazy person?

This quest got me to thinking about my personal methods of studying. We have established that I am not good at Second Life, but one of the reasons I am not good at it is because gaming doesn't really interest me. I was going through the motions and doing all of the required things, but not really GETTING into Second Life. I must admit, I do this with many of my classes. I will be student teaching next semester, my brain is LONG gone. So, this in turn got me to thinking about my own students. They could be super interested in the new video game that came out at midnight the night before, and here I am teaching them about Abraham Lincoln--how boring! Just like I am not interested in their fancy new game, they are not interested in my subject--now why would I be disappointed in them. It doesn't seem fair!

After watching some of the videos in the last module I realized that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I can include gaming and history in one neat little package. The game might not be a quiz show about the Civil War, but it also doesn't have to be Angry Birds. I haven't quite thought about how I will use Second Life in my classes--I can only reflect for so long. BUT I have made a step in the right direction, I am thinking about how frustrated my students might be with me teaching them in boring ways just like I am frustrated with the "ease" of moving my avatar. A simple reflection, frustration, and anger can go a long way:)

I did manage to take some pictures to prove that I am figuring this all out:)

Iowa's Capital has got to be one of the prettiest capital buildings in our country. I saw it on Friday in person and was just amazed and being a future social studies teacher I had to take a picture of it in Second Life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Second Life, First Impressions

Well, it has happened...I have been forced to join Second Life and play around for homework--what a chore! I must admit I was excited to start Second Life, but ultimately kind of nervous about it. I am not a gamer, and many of the things I have heard about Second Life are silly and "out there." Starting my experience in Second Life was a mixture of good and bad, but that is to be expected.

First of all, I do think that Second Life is fairly user friendly. I must admit that I struggled with using the controls and figuring out all the buttons--but I am still learning and it seems that Second Life is always changing so everyone is on the same page! In regards to our class's participation in Second Life, I think the major suggestion I would have would be for students to either meet in the classroom or in a general location if possible when starting this unit. The reason I struggled was because I got lost or left behind and then I couldn't find the class and got frustrated--etc. it was a never-ending cycle!! That might have been prevented if I would have had a little background on the program.

I did really enjoy both of the videos, they gave me a lot of background information and just made me a little more comfortable with the program. I think that when I use Second Life more I will be more comfortable--of course, that is like anything electronic so that is to be expected. I also think that it is really beneficial. In a school setting I might be a little hesitant to use it since it is so new that kids might get left behind. I think that it would be a great tool to use in a TAG room or even a Special Education class where all of the children are kind of on the same level. My hesitation comes from my experience, I consider myself an average type student and I got completely lost in the computer aspect of the game. My students might be ahead of the curve, but I am afraid that instead of focusing on the actual goal of the lesson. I hope that when I get into Second Life my mind will be changed--at this point in my experience I cannot see a lot of value for the "average" student and the "average" assignment.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm in the Gaming Zone

I took a little advice from the comments section and Aric left a website that gave a lot of "gaming" options. I am a fan of puzzles and card games, but since those are off limits I decided to go for a killing one! I played Kingdom Rush for a long time, my other homework was not impressed. The strategy behind this game is to protect your kingdom. I tried and tried, but failed to be good at the game. I pushed past this fact though, and reflected some of the other qualities of the game.

One thing that I enjoyed about the game was that it was really easy to understand. Now this doesn't mean it was easy, like I said above, I wasn't good at it. It was easy to do though, I think that this is important when using gaming in education. The task needs to be challenging but the object needs to be easy. Like a math problem, you want the problem to be hard but you don't want the calculator to be hard to run. One thing that turned me away from the game was the lag that it had. I'm not sure if that is because it was free? Or I was live streaming the UNI game in the background? I don't know, I do know that it bothered me.

Looking at the review the game, I found out the game at a lot to offer that I did not know. I am not a gamer so seeing that the graphics were in fact really good made me feel better. I was also amazed by the amount of levels and the details put into each one. I didn't make it very far in the game so I missed out on a bunch of these features! Although I wasn't very good at the game I was definitely in the "Flow", which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has come up with. I will pay someone to teach me how to say that man's name, he has hit everything spot on. Why didn't I think of that first, I mean after reading and watching that you are kind of like duh! When playing the game I wasn't self conscious, I wasn't worried about looking stupid--I was worried about moving on and getting to the next level no matter what! I do agree that time also disappears, I mean I played for what seemed like a few minutes and it was about two hours!

Honestly, I am not sure about how playing this game affected me. I don't really get into gaming. I will have to play some more games throughout the week, and maybe even search for more educational games. I can't see myself using this in my class so I am struggling to see how this really affected me. It was a fun game, it was challenging, and free (which is always a benefit). I do think that it allowed me to think critically about something that would in all other situations be fairly trivial. In most gaming situations I am not thinking about how it is changing me as a person, but today I was put that that challenge. I challenge you all to help me out, what types of games would you use in your classrooms?

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's a Flat, Flat World We Live In

"The global economic playing field is being leveled....American's are not ready"--quoted by a man he interviewed. I thought this was one of the most powerful things in his speech, of course this lead to the book completely so that is probably why. How many of us believe that because we are from America we will be "safe." Safe from competing jobs, safe from being stripped of the dominating world power, and safe from being too far behind in technology. Friedman's speech proved this wrong, people everyday around the world have the opportunity, advantage, and the means to pull ahead in the global market and (gasp) BEAT the US in something. How dare they?!

This is going to change our world, of course. I think that the "flattening" of the world will be a major event in history. What defined the Industrial Revolution? Inventions, technology, making things available to everyday people. This is what the Flat World is doing, we are giving more people the opportunity to have technology in their possession; which leads to more people having jobs in technology advancement which leads to more technology. I'm a social science major, I love processes like these, we are LEARNING from history people! There are updates from Apple all the time, just last week they announced the iPhone 4s....not the 5 everyone expected--was it a disappointment? Yes, it was for people who wanted the iPhone 5, but will millions of people still buy it? Of course, it's new and shiny--everyone wants to have the next big thing.

I love that Friedman referred to traveling East. As a future history teacher I think this is significant, people in my generation are less likely to have a negative view of the East but in our history the East has not excelled in things. I mean there are jokes about Russia being slow at everything right? Except for that darn space thing...we'll never be able to let that one down. This can't be the case anymore, they have the access to the same things we do--the playing field has been leveled. People we wouldn't expect are competing with the US and the Western countries.

As an educator it is important to remember this for my students. Not only will we be able to access things easier, so will the students. It is so easy to Google a topic and get to see the topic from the perspective of a student in that area. In my field experience I just taught a lesson the Islamic faith, I'm a Christian--I have very limited knowledge about the Islamic faith. It is important for my students to understand different cultures, I need to break down those barriers because they could be working with these types of culture in the future. Breaking down the barriers, flattening their world to make it easier for them to transition into the real world. They need to see us using the resources that are available to them. Don't waste the projector and Internet connection sitting in our classrooms, Skype with someone, get online and research a topic together, do the process with them!

I think that the effects of a flattened world are things we cannot even imagine. We are preparing our students for jobs that don't exist, how much pressure is that?! The students we are teaching today will be the next innovators in technology, and these kids are digital natives. They won't understand the impact that they are going to have on the world. I think of the Braid Paisley song, "Welcome to the Future" and how it is "no, big deal" to have these fancy things now, but really it is a big deal!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The World isn't Round? How am I Going to Explain This One?

When I think about the immensity of the Flat Classroom Project and all that it had to entail to create it and make it function I become......awed! The time and effort that went into this project really shows the dedication that it's founders have for education, and their efforts to prove that the world is indeed FLAT. Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay deserve a medal, or a shiny plaque to put in their office--from every person involved in the project!

The idea that the world is flat will really disrupt my history classroom, it disproves so many factual things!!!!!! Just kidding, it will disrupt my classroom in a great way. The Flat Classroom Project is allowing our students to break down barriers that NO one else has thought to do before, how awesome would it be to be a student that is apart of this project. The students are changing the structure of a classroom, the availability of using the wiki allows students to work on the project whenever. School hours need not apply, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE....how many teachers wouldn't want their students working on homework at home and being excited about it. Everyone in my group is really excited to participate.

The networking opportunities are just amazing. Students are not only working on a project about outsourcing together, but they could be working on this project with someone from India. How neat would it be to be discussing the American side of outsourcing and then seeing how the Indians are viewing outsourcing. The networking can go on outside of the project as well. I gave a lesson today on the Islamic faith and culture, I have never met a Muslim person before so my content knowledge was limited. Questions arose and I wasn't completely sure on the answer, how neat would it be to jump on the discussion board and message a fellow Flat Classroomer and ask them about their daily life as a Muslim student in Saudi Arabia?

I thought that Christensen's section on preparing students to meet the demands that society has now was really relevant to the Flat Classroom Project. So many people are traveling abroad, either coming to the United States or our citizens are traveling abroad to work. It would be silly to prepare our students to be ethnocentric snotty Americans. We need to be preparing them to work with people who are not like them. We are teaching our students to be ready to work in fields that are not even CREATED yet, how do we do that? Easy, teach them to adapt, teach them to understand and utilize technology, and teach them to grow in this changing world....not so easy right? What are some broad ideas to do some of these things?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Utilize the "Old' and Make it "New"

Google Docs has been around for awhile now, and I won't lie--I don't use them very often. I've used the program for group projects and things like that, but not for the every day. I don't think the intention of Google Docs was to replace Microsoft Word though, but there are so many opportunities to use this simple but effective tool. I think a lot of people focus on what's new and has that WOW factor when thinking about incorporating technology in our classrooms. As we have seen with the many changes of Facebook, sometimes new isn't better. Google Docs, PowerPoint, Movie Maker, iMovie, etc. have all been around for awhile, but why not use them? All of these things are free and beyond user friendly (I mean if little kids can make a movie on iMovie so can you).

The problem is that so many teachers are overthinking their use of technology or even just everything. I know that when I come up with a lesson plan, it generally makes no sense, needs a lot of work, and will probably have to be rewritten because I often overthink everything. Sometimes a great idea needs to just happen, who cares if it completely fails--that's why you have another class next year (just kidding). Secondary education kids are a little more forgiving; you will be able to tell if they like the lesson or not by their feedback (also known as complaining). Updating or just reinventing the type of activity you are using the tools for are great ways to make icky old stuff seem new. Prezi is a fantastic update from PowerPoint if you or your students are tired of PowerPoint. Google Docs is a great tool to use not only for group projects but also cross-curricular assignments in high school and junior highs. My mom is amazed by Google Docs (she is a secretary at a high school), they are in the process of whole-grade sharing with another school; it is a great tool to use between the buildings.

Just because PowerPoint is an ancient program doesn't mean we can't use it--as long as we are using it in NEW and effective ways. What are some of your ideas about old products that are still useful?

Here is a link to a video about how to use Prezi, when embedding the video it brought up two videos and I didn't like that so sorry for the extra step--I know it will be extremely time consuming for you to click the link. I get car sick easily, so I don't like Prezi very much (unless it's used properly, so learn how to use it correctly).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Disruptive Innovation Theory....Say What?

Reading about disruptive innovation theory in Disrupting Class, written by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson, I couldn't help but be a little confused. I am not a math or science major, we memorize dates in the history department--those graphs were a little much for me:)

The authors define the disruptive innovation theory as a reason, "why organizations struggle with certain kinds of innovation and how organizations can predictably succeed in innovations." When I read this the first time it was kind of like explain the definition of "run" as: to run--they needed to give me more! I broke it down after reading it a few times. The first aspect describes the reasons why some companies thrive with innovations and why some fail, the theories behind those two sides. The second part basically theorizes how organizations can predict these innovations to succeed. I also watched a video where Clayton Christensen actually explains the theory, and it helped to hear him talk and look at that pesky graph.

Tying this into education seemed a little tricky to me, but the book did a wonderful job. As the America has evolved as a country, so has the education system in general. Interestingly enough, this reading sort of relates to a lot of the discussions that I have in my Schools and American Society course at UNI. I won't lie, I strongly dislike that class; but it has provided me with some insightful topics that we debate (friendly of course). One of the first topics was the purpose of education. I established (as a social studies teacher) that the purpose of American education was to produce little Americans for the job sector. The first three jobs that the authors describe touch on this. At first (and still to this day even if they don't want to admit it) schools served one purpose, to create law abiding, functional, and active citizens. The goal was for students to be educated enough to be citizens of the country, and potentially run for political offices.

When the next job came along in the early 1900's, creating an active citizen didn't go away instead schools were expected to do that and also prepare kids for jobs. Interestingly enough, we were competing with Germany in this race (close to the start of WWI). In the 1960's we were competing with the Soviet Union (Russia and the Cold War). These competitions sparked a new interest in different things. AKA disruptive innovation. In the 1960's math and science became such important subjects because the SU could not beat us again (they launched the first space machine before us). So basically, the demands of our country determined what needed to be done in school. We needed math and science to excel, so reading and writing took a back seat to the demand of the "market." Flash forward to the Bush years (the younger), and we get No Child Left Behind (also a popular debate in my Schools class). The demand for math and reading has become a high priority. In the article "Side effects of NCLB," schools are often making tough decisions on time spent in other classes to increase the time spent on math and science. This can be compared to Apple's take over of the computer world that the book described. Apple met the requirements that people put forth, therefore more people bought them. Administrators are making tough choices to please the national government, the choice is either loose funding or be proficient in math and reading--the schools made the choice to be "user-friendly." In this case, disruptive innovation isn't necessarily a good thing like in the case of Apple, what are some good ways disruption has helped public schools?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Worksheets, smerksheets?

I will graduate in May after student teaching in the Omaha area. I won't lie--I feel very unprepared and very nervous to think that it will be my job to teach the students. It seems crazy that I will be the one preparing the lessons, and having to think of MANY ways to teach the kids. How many of us were given worksheets, took notes, and took tests in high school? How boring was that?! Now that I am the teacher though, it seems a little scary that I can't hand out those easy worksheets:) If I don't hand out worksheets I need to be really proactive in preparing for my lessons, that's where the World Wide Web comes in!

Dr. Z suggested we read through the fourth chapter of Web 2.0: how-to for educators written by Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum, I found myself skimming the entire book. I appreciate that the book cites a tool, and then explains it quickly then shows how you could use it or gives a real life example. The book is $22 on Amazon, go get it--it's worth the money!

When thinking about all of the things I could use in my class I looked at a variety of sites and blogs to find tools. The first item that I find very useful is Delicious. I was introduced to this handy tool my sophomore year of college and have not stopped using it. This cloud, allows you to find web pages and bookmark them out in space to use on any internet powered device anywhere. The best thing about it is being able to use tags. Students could use these tags to tag a group, this way they can share sources between each other. I could also use our class tag to give out recommended sources--this will allow students to do their work at home and make it easier on them if they forget their notebook with all the handy links. This saves students paper and time--no need to jumble around with 100's of article print outs. This will also give me the opportunity to see what sites the students are looking up, and I can help sway them to a better choice.

I love the idea of Inspiration, but not all of us can afford it and sometimes we simply need a mind map that is easy and efficient. Bubbl.us does that for me! This will allow me or a student to do some brainstorming. Some students need to see the ideas on paper, and this will allow them to do so and form their thoughts in a logical order. This would also be a really good idea to use as a note taking tool.

Lastly, I really just like the idea of making videos and podcasts. I think that this is a great way for students to learn in a different way. Itunes, PBS, Youtube, History Channel, etc all have great options for videos. I like the idea of creating videos though as well. This will give a great variety in lesson planning, I could create a podcast for students are absent, or have them create a video for a hypothetical museum opening to feature a specific time period. The point is that the options are endless! PodBean, is a great tool to publish the podcasts and it's free! iMovie and Windows Movie Maker are both fantastic tools to use, and both are free. They are easy to use for me to do something quickly, but also for students to easily figure out the software.

What other Web 2.0 tools can we use to replace the mundane school work?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gen Y

After reading Angela Maiers blog post about the new generation, it got me thinking about how much potential Generation Y has. I find it hard sometimes to think good things about young people. We see them getting into trouble often, and the papers and news focus too much on the negative aspects of what they are doing. WHY? Angela gives 12 great examples of what Generation Y is here to give us.
Children today have grown up in the digital world, they don't understand why WE took computer classes. Heck, I think it's strange that my mom's computer class consisted of how to program things and she thought it was the neatest thing in the world! To our students we will be ancient people who know nothing, BUT there is hope--by using the skills that they already possess we can aid their education and also be the cool teacher.
Look at the Flat Classroom Project, yes it was started by an adult; but students are the wheels that are turning. They are creative and active and excited about new opportunities. Generation Y is wanting to participate in things that no other generation has dreamed of. We need to give them these opportunities. This requires us to attend conferences, webinars, and to be proactive in our decisions to incorporate new technology in our classrooms.
These children are not the selfish teens that we seen on shows like Gossip Girl. They are wanting to help others, wanting to get active in their communities. A few weeks before school started my neighbors had a lemonade stand. My dad told them to do it in our yard (we live on prime real estate in the metropolis of Lytton--population 200). These kids were not having a lemonade stand for themselves, it was for a 1st grader that has cancer from Lytton. All it took was for one of them to take a picture on her Android and post it on Facebook (yes, Generation Y knows these things at 10 years old). They raised over $100 in an afternoon.
Instead of focusing on the bad in young children today, we need to see the good in them and bring out that good. As a future teacher, I can only hope that I inspire each student to do something amazing in their lives, and Generation Y has the desire and the means to do so. We need to utilize the new technologies out there, giving them every chance they can get to see something from outside their area. Iowa students in my generation might not have thought it was possible to be a scuba diving instructor. Today, we can Skype with one in California so that children can see all of the potential in this world. I think it would be beneficial to Skype with and partner with a stock exchanger on NSE for an economics class.
What are some other ideas on how to engage generation Y?

photo: flickr.com/dcmetroblogger

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What's Your Crazy Idea?

On Thursday Frank Warren came to UNI, sponsored by CAB.  I'm not a member of CAB or anything, but they put on some AWESOME things at UNI and they are free, check out their Facebook page for more info.  He is the creator of the PostSecret phenomenon, with books and a blog.  He created this idea on a whim, he talked about how he felt called to do this and he wasn't sure why.  What seemed like a crazy idea turned out to be life changing.  He challenged us to think about what OUR crazy idea was.  It got me thinking, blogger was probably a crazy idea, Twitter was probably silly when 20 people did it, and I remember when Facebook was just for college students.   Think about if WE had a crazy idea that involved technology, imagine how helpful it would be for educators (because since we are educators of course my idea would help my people).   then thought, what if my use of technology in class inspires a student to create the next big thing--or even just the next little thing.  Technology inspires, and Frank's crazy idea would not have been possible without the Internet.  The power of technology gives us a platform to think of our next idea.  So what's your crazy idea?