Monday, May 6, 2013

Digital Citizenship Inside High Schools

Teaching digital citizenship inside high schools is very important. High school students at the point in their lives where what they do on the internet really starts to matter. Future job employers are going to look at their Facebook pages and possibly base their decision on what they see on the page. Students in high school are also beginning to enter serious relationships and make lifelong friends and they need to be aware of the benefits and dangers of developing relationships online. High school students also need to realize that taking information from an online source and not citing it is considered stealing. Finally, high schools often have bullies and students need to realize that online bullying is just as serious as bullying in the classroom. There are plenty of resources available to teachers to help students learn about digital citizenship. My following Prezi discusses all of these topics in detail and provides links to resources.
Works Cited found here

Monday, April 8, 2013

Learning to Unlearn

What do you have to unlearn and relearn about education, teaching, the classroom, or learning?

My English professor last semester always told us that we were going to have to "unlearn everything that we had already learned about writing." This is because many high school teachers did not teach us the correct way to write or did not focus on preparing students to do well in a college English class. In my experience, this is true. A student could write a terrible paper and still get a passing score on it. Most of my English periods in high school were spent as free days. If, as students, we did not feel that we were obtaining a proper education, why are we continuing to use the same old teaching methods that our teachers used?

This means that we have to unlearn everything about teaching methods that our teachers in high school taught us. I am not saying that all high school teachers are bad. It just seemed like the majority of them in my high school did not really care about teaching anyone anything. On the positive side, we know which of their methods worked for the students and which did not.

Here is a list of some of the things that I think that we as future teachers have to unlearn and relearn:
  • The teacher does not have to be talking all of the time.
  • The teacher should not be the only person working with technology.
  • The teacher should not just be giving information all of the time; they should be learning also.
  • Students do not all learn the same way.
  • Technology can be useful in the classroom.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Interactive Whiteboards In Today's Classroom

Interactive whiteboards are almost completely worthless, yet they continue to be placed in today's classrooms. In all of my experiences with this piece of technology, the interactive whiteboard was used as nothing more than a regular whiteboard. Notes were projected onto the interactive whiteboard and the teacher explained what the notes meant. The only teacher I ever remember actually using the interactive whiteboard was my Spanish teacher. He put various pictures on the board and each student used the board to move the pictures around while telling a story in Spanish. My high school would have been much better off if they would have replaced our ancient math books or fixed the leaking roof instead of spending so much money on technology that was never used.
During the middle of my junior year, my trigonometry teacher had an interactive white board placed in her room. Being the old school teacher that she was, she absolutely refused to use it and even requested that the board be removed. When the school ignored her request and put the interactive board in the middle of the chalkboard that she used everyday, she wrote on the edges of the chalkboard and used the interactive whiteboard as a regular whiteboard with dry erase markers. I do not ever remember her even turning the interactive whiteboard on. Come to think of it, what is an interactive whiteboard doing in a high school math classroom anyway? I can not see a use for it other than it being used as a regular board. Placing an interactive whiteboard in a classroom with a teacher who is not interested in using one or willing to change their teaching methods to incorporate it into their lessons is a waste of money.
I am not the only person who believes that interactive whiteboards are a complete waste of money. Companies proclaim that if schools spend money on interactive whiteboards, academic success will increase. If this is the case, why aren't there interactive whiteboards in every college classroom? The Washington Press quotes, "'There is hardly any research that will show clearly that any of these machines will improve academic achievement,' said Larry Cuban, education professor emeritus at Stanford University." The Journal also says that "In spite of those desirable features and a potential rationale for purchases, the truth is that while the research on IWBs is growing in academic journals (Thomas, 2009), little of it has clearly linked any of those machines to improved academic achievement, as Larry Cuban pointed out (McCrummen, 2010)." An example of the ineffectiveness of interactive whiteboards was given in The Washington Press.
"Fairfax County public schools began installing interactive whiteboards several years ago, one of which landed in Sam Gee's classroom at W.T. Woodson High School. On a recent morning, the popular history teacher dimmed the lights, and his students stared at the glowing, $3,000 screen.
As he lectured, Gee hyperlinked to an NBC news clip, clicked to an animated Russian flag, a list of Russian leaders and a short film on the Mongol invasions. Here and there, he starred items on the board using his finger. 'Let's say this is Russia,' he said at one point, drawing a little red circle. 'Okay -- who invaded Russia?'
One student was fiddling with an iPhone. Another slept. A few answered the question, but the relationship between their alertness and the bright screen before them was hardly clear. And as the lesson carried on, this irony became evident: Although the device allowed Gee to show films and images with relative ease, the whiteboard was also reinforcing an age-old teaching method -- teacher speaks, students listen. Or, as 18-year-old Benjamin Marple put it: 'I feel they are as useful as a chalkboard.'"
Having an interactive whiteboard in his classroom did not make the students more interested, it just made things more expensive.
Interactive whiteboards are just about as effective as computers for differentiation. The teacher can design different computer-based projects for each ability, strength, or interest group and have students work on them using computers or the interactive whiteboard. The drawback with the interactive whiteboard is that only one student can work on it at a time. Schools usually have enough laptop or desktop computers for an entire class of students to work on at one time. Interactive whiteboards, however, are limited one or fewer to a classroom.
In conclusion, the benefits of having an interactive whiteboard in class do not outweigh the hefty cost. Teachers do not use them for their intended purpose. Also, for all of the students to benefit from the board, every student would have to use it. With overcrowded classroom, this is just not possible. Since the boards are so expensive, some teachers are also afraid to let their students use it. Instead of spending money on the boards, schools should use the extra money to hire more teachers so that the classes are smaller and students get more one-on-one time with their teacher.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Susan Demirsky Allen tells us in her PowerPoint that differentiation is the "recognition of and commitment to plan for student differences. A differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquire content, to process or make sense of information and ideas, and to develop products." She continues to provide examples that explain how to differentiate in the classroom. Allen specifically tells us that differentiation is not tailoring a learning schedule to each different student. It is also not giving all of the students the same work even in ability or achievement grouped classes. She suggests grouping the students into different categories to give them work that they can succeed at. This does not sound like a good idea to me. The students in the "slower" group might feel discouraged and develop low self-esteem. They might also give up all together and decide that school is a waste of their time. Also, students are complex. They cannot be perfectly fit into neat little categories.
I have not really experienced differentiation in my own high school. In the classes I took, everyone  was expected to do the same work. Everyone also had the same due dates unless they missed school for a legitimate reason. My closest experiences to differentiation were the AP English classes I took in high school. This is because we had a different curriculum than then regular college preparatory English students. I find it hard to believe that everyone could be graded fairly if different students are given different work. It would not be fair for a student in the "smart" group to earn a "C" in the class while a student in the "slow" group earns a "B."
Although I cannot see how differentiation would be fair in a school system, I can see how technology would fit in. Students could use iPads or laptops to complete computer generated quizzes and homework assignments with the difficulty level based from scores on their last quizzes. After the students are divided into their different groups based on whatever criteria the teacher chooses, they could use laptops to work collaboratively on a shared Google document to complete assignments. There are many ways that students and teachers could use technology for differentiation. I just cannot see how it would be fair to give a harder working student in a "smarter" group a lower grade than a student who does the smallest amount of work to get by in a "slower" group.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Twitter and Me

Initially, I was nervous about using Twitter. I am not a big fan of social networks in the first place and I do not spend much time with them. In fact, the only account that I have outside of this class is Facebook and I am almost never on it. However, after participating in the online Twitter quiz in class today, I have found that using Twitter is actually very easy. Although Twitter can get confusing because of all of the people who Tweet, it is still a good method to use to communicate. After using the Tweet Deck program, I found it much easier to keep track of all of the different Tweets. My only problem was that I kept forgetting to place the hash tag in the message and I had to redo a few of my Tweets. Otherwise, it is a good collaboration tool.
I can see how Twitter could be useful in the classroom. Everyone in the class would be able to participate in answering a question instead of just calling on one or two people. If I decide to use Twitter in my classroom, I might require everyone to make a new Twitter because mixing an outside social life in with class discussion could be very distracting and the students might become too wrapped up in what their friends are Tweeting about and neglect to participate in class. Another problem I can see with this is that students might lose their face-to-face social skills if Twitter is used instead of verbal class discussion. As with everything, balance is key. Students need to learn how to use technology but they also need to know how to actually talk to people.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Final Frontier

During this week in class, we worked collaboratively in groups of three to create a presentation that serves as a call to action for teachers who have not yet integrated technology into their lesson plans. Our class broke up into groups of three and we used Google Drive to create a presentation. Then, we shared the presentation with the other members of the group. For the rest of the class period on Tuesday, we worked on the presentation together. Since our presentation was going slowly, each person in our group individually worked on the presentation on Wednesday so that we could be sure that it was done on time. On Thursday, we looked at the presentation together and agreed that we were finished with it.
Working in a group online is much different than working in a group in person. On Tuesday, it was easier to collaborate because we could talk to each other and determine what needed to be done. On Wednesday, the day that we were all working independently, it was difficult to collaborate efficiently, especially because we all chose to edit the presentation at different times. In the end, it all worked out because we once again had the chance to talk to each other in person. Working in a shared document is nice because each person can do their own work and one person does not have to put it all together in the end. Working online is also difficult because you are limited in how directly you can talk to the members of your group. If everyone knows exactly what they are doing, working without verbally speaking can be efficient, but if members are confused, working online can just make things even more confusing.
In order to create our presentation, we had to read an article entitled "Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final  Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration?" by Peggy A. Ertmer. Ertmer starts off by explaining to readers that computers can be a "valuable and well-functioning instructional tool" only if classrooms have "(a) convenient access, (b) are adequately prepared, (c) have some freedom in the curriculum, and (d) hold personal beliefs aligned with a constructivist pedagogy." She tells readers that the first three requirements have been nearly met, but that most teachers still have some vendetta against using computers in the classroom. Ertmer explains the difference between beliefs and knowledge. Teachers have beliefs on how they should teach. Beliefs are formed through past experiences and cultural influences. Unfortunately, they are not easily changed. Convincing a teacher to switch from a system that they learned by and have taught by for years to something completely new is not an easy task. It can be especially hard to convince them if they had a bad experience with technology in the past or have only seen computers that constantly crash. Technology is becoming an almost required skill for any job and teachers are still hesitant to use it to teach their students because of bad experiences they might have had.
Our presentation tries to explains to teachers that technology is not a problem. We explain how their belief system works and why it is so difficult to change their teaching beliefs  We also try to convince teachers that technology is becoming necessary in day to day life. The video on the second slide is a very powerful tool to convince hesitant teachers. By creating this presentation, we hope that teachers are convinced that technology has come a long way from the computers that you had to type long codes into just to get a blinking star. It is no longer just a distraction. Technology is the way that we learn today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Hi. My name is Charity Stoll. I attend Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and I am majoring in Secondary Education in Chemistry. I really enjoy discovering how different things work and over the break, I even made my own lava lamp from scratch. I also enjoy helping others learn and I volunteer at the Writing Center in the library three hours a week. I was a member of the Edinboro Spirit of the Scots Marching Band last semester and I plan on participating again next fall. The video above is our show from this season. I am currently a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble this semester. I play clarinet for marching band and I play french horn for wind ensemble. I am the drummer for a band that members of my church youth group formed. We perform at different churches in our area when all of our members are home.
My hometown is a small village called Chewton which consists of about 250 people (that may be overestimating), two churches, and one bar. I went to Lincoln Jr/Sr High School in Ellwood City. I was an honor graduate and I participated in many musical ensembles. I auditioned on contra alto clarinet and went to All State Band my sophomore year. I also ran cross country and still enjoy running in my free time. 
My views on technology in general are very different from most of my peers. Unlike most teenagers, I have serious problems while using touchscreen devices. I chose a cell phone that still has actual buttons. I have no desire to own an iPad or iPod touch. I prefer reading actual books instead of staring at a screen. The main function of my computer is to play my music library. I only use one social networking site by choice (Facebook) and this is because Facebook is almost necessary in a student's life because all clubs and extracurricular activities give updates through their Facebook pages.
I really dislike using technology as a student. I would much rather have a hard copy of an assignment and turn in hard copies of my papers instead of digitally handing them in. Digital "drop boxes" make me very nervous because technology often fails. I dislike staring at computer screens because they are so bright. When a professor assigns online homework, I also feel nervous because the Internet often crashes. As a student at Lincoln Jr/Sr High School, I have seen many technology failures. Sometimes we did not even have class because the projector did not work or the Smartboard was not being so "smart." From the student point of view, I absolutely hate the way most of my teachers and professors have used technology in the past.
As a chemistry teacher, I feel that I would use technology to present notes and printouts of the notes. I could also use YouTube to help students understand more difficult concepts. Technology would definitely make life easier as a teacher. My boyfriend is currently a graduate student at Kent State University who teaches a few lab classes and he really likes the fact that most of the grading for undergraduate classes is done online. There are no messy papers to deal with. However, I do not believe that I will make my students use things like drop boxes because I know how nervous they make me feel.
In general, I love to teach people and I feel very accomplished when they finally understand a concept. Teaching is one of the few professions that will never go out of style. Teachers cannot be replaced by computers because most students need to be motivated to work and only a dedicated teacher can motivate students.