Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0.

I found the most prominent idea in this article to be the social learning aspect, as stated on page 3, “the focus is not so much on what we are learning but on how we are learning.”  A child can only learn so much via direct instruction, say about tolerance of other perspectives and ideas, but if the child were to engage in discussions surrounding various topics and be able to consciously change his schema surrounding that concept – that knowledge, that student –  will want nothing more than to share the experience and, in turn, share and create a similar experience for another.

Also, I have always found apprenticeships to be an effective learning process; but how great to have multiple masters as well as multiple apprentices to learn with (I say to learn with instead of to learn from because learning to be is a evolutionary process; no matter if you are a master or an apprentice!)

Having open source forums increases motivation for students to further their education. On page 15, Brown and Adler write about the demand-pull approach, saying that it is a “passion-based learning.” The student’s natural intrinsic motivation is tapped simply by allowing access to information that is interesting and intriguing to the student. Ownership plays a large role as the student becomes an active participant in a community’s evolving knowledge-it is no longer solely the community molding the child. We all now have the opportunity to be heard and our ideas (no matter how small) are taken into account. We participate, therefore we are.

I teach second grade and I know my students would love to hear and see how others discuss their ideas. I wonder if, in my classroom, could set up a some sort of forum (perhaps it would be a blog) about certain children’s books where students, teachers, and parents to discuss what main ideas and learning they took away from the story (perhaps could invite the author to join in and give us what he or she thought when writing the story).

Brown, J. S., Adler, R.P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1).

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Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary is and must be taught in schools yet so many teachers don’t know how to effectively and efficiently integrate vocabulary instruction into their classrooms. Vocabulary instruction isn’t only necessary for English language learners but for the general education population as well. We, as teachers, have (or should have) a knowledge of prepositions, conjunctions, suffixes and prefixes, nouns and verbs but do we understand that there are certain words that will give us the most bang for our buck? Do we know what the best teaching practices are for promoting vocabulary growth in our children? I will highlight some of the teaching practices that I have found most beneficial including high frequency words and word utility, strategies to teach word relationships and awareness, and the importance of reading and conversation. To read more:

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Teachers, Not Technicians

Reflecting on my own instructional practices regarding technology, I discovered that I am in the adoption phase of the five stages of the instructional evolution to integrating technology in the classroom.

The stages, defined by Judith H. Sandholtz and Brian Reilly, are quite interesting: Entry; Learning the basics of using technology, Adoption; successfully using technology on a basic level consistent with existing instructional practices, Adaptation; using technology to increase productivity, more frequent and purposeful, Appropriation; use of technology with no effort to accomplish instructional and management goals, Invention; technology is a flexible tool, learning is collaborative, interactive and customized; new teaching and learning practices emerge (2004).

I feel that I am stuck in the adoption phase because of two main reasons; time and availability.

Time is needed not only to plan and collaborate but also to explore new  instructional strategies and learning practices surrounding technology use. In the Everyday Mathematics curriculum explorations are a key component to initially addressing critical concept information.  This exploration phase allows the students to discover and begin to define concepts on their own or with peers to begin making connections and thinking about their background knowledge before the teacher begins the presentation of new information. This effective instructional strategy should be implemented in educators’ professional development regarding technology’s implications for teaching and learning practices.

Availability of technology equipment and professional development opportunities of various kinds is necessary. There is only so much one can do to get more equipment so I have begun to assert my creativity in order to enhance my students’ learning experience surrounding technology. For example, this bportfolio gave me a great idea for my class next year. Seeing as I only have a couple computers in my room, I thought that it would be a good practice for the class as a whole to compile our reflections of learning into a summary on a blog page.  This way students, teachers, and parents are connected to the experiences occurring in the classroom. When parents ask, “What did you learn at school today?” There will no longer be a passing of silence but a “Look at our blog!”

Also, like many of our students, we learn differently.  Like David Wicks stated in his brief summary of our voice threads, what one can do with a handbook another needs to be face-to-face and so on. Professional Development also needs to be more focused on instructional practice rather than – this is how you use an online grade-book or make a graph. I want to know how to better engage my students and prepare them for our ever-changing world of technology.

Overall, technology needs educator buy-in. Technology use in instruction must become a district culture if it is going to be utilized effectively and effeciantly for all educators and students.

Sandholtz, J. H., Reilly, B. (2004). Teachers, not technicians: Rethinking technical expectations for teachers. Teachers College Record, 106(3), 487-512.

Theory of Multiple Intelligences

This paper focuses on the importance of integrating the multiple intelligences, defined by Howard Gardner, while planning instruction in order to more effectively teach all students. This paper demonstrates knowledge regarding standard 1 specifically. Theory of Multiple Intelligences