Week Three: Digital Literacy

September 15, 2013

Washington Monument Dusk

Iliff, D. (2006). Washington Monument Dusk. [Photograph] Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Washington_Monument_Dusk_Jan_2006.jpg

For the digital literacy assignment, I decided search for an image of a famous building in Washington DC because I had a hunch that it would be easy to find a picture of this nature. I know it can be difficult to find images that are rare. So many people take pictures of the building in Washington DC everyday that I knew it would be easy to find versus a picture of a rare bird in South America that was just discovered yesterday. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the more images that are available in the world for a particular subject the more likely you will be to find the image freely available for usage.


I began by searching in Google Images using the Advanced Search option. There I choose to limit by usage rights. I used free to use or share because I knew I wouldn’t be manipulating the image in any way or using it for commercial purposes. I used the search statement: Washington DC buildings. The first image to pop up was an image of the Washington Monument. It is published on a Wikipedia page that made it easy to access the information about the copyright agreement. However, I was a bit confused about the copyright information. The website mentioned that it was released by the United States Navy but it was taken by an Air Force airmen. Therefore I decided to scroll down to another photo on the page of the Washington Monument to use as my photo.


The photo I choose was a picture of the Washington Monument by itself. As I scrolled down on the picture’s information page it stated the creator’s name, David Iliff, and the license number CC-BY-SA 3.0. It is licensed under the Creative Commons for attribution and share alike. So I could potentially use this image as long as I give credit to the creator that I will do at the bottom of this post.


I think it’s important to teach students that we must give credit where credit is due for the usage of someone else’s information. Especially in a world where information is right at our fingertips it’s important that we show that someone else created the work because we would want the same for our own work.


I worked for a while as a library graduate assistant where I taught library literacy and information literacy skills. In doing my job, I had to teach students that whenever you take information from a site you must give credit to the author. I strongly believe in this principle because it is important as intellectuals to evaluate other people’s opinions, beliefs, and works but we must still come to our own conclusions. If we were to just use everything that someone else wrote, we wouldn’t necessarily understand the content in depth.


So in order to promote a nurturing environment where people learn from others and build off of materials we must attribute the knowledge that we learned from other people’s work to them. This builds a community of learning instead of a community where people steal each other’s ideas. I think of it as stealing someone’s money, essentially ideas could be worth money one day and you’re taking the person’s opportunity to gain prestige for their ideas. So you should always attribute information to its creator. The creator could gain notoriety if your work becomes popular and both of you win. We should, in a global society, build off of each other’s knowledge as long as we share the fact that we didn’t just come up with it all on our own but rather in collaboration with other researchers or thinkers.


Iliff, D. (2006). Washington Monument Dusk. [Photograph] Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Washington_Monument_Dusk_Jan_2006.jpg

Categories: Uncategorized.

Blog #3: The Story of American Education

September 14, 2013

To what extent did the American system of education succeed or fail at becoming the “great equalizer”?

The American system of education is a work in progress. As I was watching the video, “The History of American Education”, I kept thinking that with each group of folks that gained access to the schools in the United States there were still more groups that were waiting for admittance. The video shows the successes throughout the history of the American school system while also touching upon the many others that were unable to obtain the same level of education as others around them.

From the beginning, American schools were excluding certain groups of people. In order to actually equalize the country, everyone should have equal access to education. I believe we must understand, as a nation, that excluding people based on the religion, race, gender, financial status or any other factor does not create an equal society but rather underscores the idea.

In the video, some of the groups that were unable to obtain access to education in the beginning of our nation were slaves, women, and poor people. This left a great deal of the population unable to attend school at all. This automatically creates a gap amongst people within the nation. Thomas Jefferson believed that in order to maintain a democracy all citizens should be able to attend school yet many folks were left out of the citizen portion of his statement. People that were uneducated to some degree were left defenseless when their children reached the age of understanding; they were unable to educate their children. Meaning that the gaps increased.

Black Americans were unable to attend school. White Women were only able to attend for three years to prepare for marriage. Poor people didn’t have the means to send their children to school. These were all major problems. As these groups fought to obtain their right to an education, many others such as Irish immigrants were alienated at school for their religious beliefs. Native Americans were stripped of their identity and sent to school to learn an unfamiliar religion. Throughout history many groups have been ostracized from American education system. But is the American system of education “the great equalizer”?

I believe that the system is a “great equalizer” as people become more educated it creates a more equal society where everyone has the right and free access to learning. However, I believe there is still work to be done in order to pursue the objective. For example, many parts of our country have underperforming schools, should the location of home that children live in determine their degree or quality of education? I don’t believe so. There are still parts of the country where socioeconomic status has more impact on a child’s learning than their ability to interpret and comprehend information. In summary, I believe that the American system of education is a great foundation for equalizing the nation but there is a still work to be done to ensure that all students receive a quality education and equal access to the American Dream.

Categories: EDCI 506.

Blog #2- Professional Goals

September 8, 2013

My professional goals for the future, as an educator, are to focus on the learners that I have in my classroom and continue to adapt and grow in order to promote an innovative classroom environment. I would like to focus on fostering creativity in the classroom, promoting the use of technology amongst all students, and personalize learning so that each student is able to succeed.

I would like to stimulate creativity in the classroom. It is becoming more and more important that students utilize the information that they learn. Instead of passively learning say the state capitals of the United States, which is information that can be quickly found using the internet, it is important for students to understand why there are state capitals in the first place. Creativity in the classroom takes information a bit further perhaps by having students create a capital of an imaginary state in which they show why they put particular buildings close together, how they would setup a government in their location, and creating an interactive map of their city. In order to be able to do this task, students must first be armed with knowledge about state capitals, government, geography and more.

Technology is imperative to learning in a 21st century environment. Students must be able to utilize technology in order to be relevant in today’s world. Therefore one of my professional goals is to promote the use of technology in my classroom. I would like to use technology in innovative ways in order to keep up with the flow of information in the world. I want my students to learn to use technology effectively and be able to recognize the difference between quality information and biased information.

I would like to promote personalized learning for students in order to develop each student’s needs, interests, and goals. To do this I want to create a classroom, “that empowers every learner to take ownership of their learning, that emphasizes the learning of content and application of knowledge and skill to real world problems, that values the differences each learner brings to the learning experience, and that leverages rapidly changing learning environments by recognizing the possibilities they bring to maximize learning and engage learners” (Council of Chief School Officers, 2011). I believe it is important to develop personalized learning because there is so much information available through the Internet; it would be beneficial to capitalize on each students needs and interests to help them become the best they can be. When it comes down to it, the learners are why educators work in the first place. In order to make education work for all students it is important to figure out their personal needs and work with them. According to InTASC standard number 1, “The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences” (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2011). Teachers should focus on creating challenging experiences for the particular learner.

In this post I have included my lofty goals for the future of my career but I would also like to touch on my pragmatic goals. I would like to foster a safe environment for my students in which they are actively involved in their education. I want to take continuing education classes to keep up with current knowledge in the special education field. I intend on learning about the lives of each and every one of my students, figuring out their likes and dislikes. I want to keep in touch with my students as well.  I hope to be involved in professional organizations and attend conferences in my subject area.

Coffman, T. (2013). Designing instruction for creative thinking. In Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (19-34). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.


Council of Chief State School Officers (2011). InTASC model core teaching standards: a resource for state dialogue. Retrieved from http://www.ccsso.org/documents/2011/intasc_model_core_teaching_standards_2011.pdf

Categories: EDCI 506.

Week Two: 21st Century Skills vs Core Knowledge

September 5, 2013

When I read the very first article, What to Learn: ‘Core Knowledge’ or ‘21st Century Skills’, I got the feeling that core knowledge and 21st century skills were actually opposing ideas. Toppo (2009) suggests that 21st century skills could be taking away from core knowledge, “But a small group of outspoken education scholars is challenging that assumption, saying the push for 21st-century skills is taking a dangerous bite out of precious classroom time that could be better spent learning deep, essential content.” However when I read the other websites, both The Core Knowledge Foundation and Partnerships for 21st Century Skills, comment on the others’ ideals. Perhaps, since the Toppo article was written in 2009 both sides have realized that they actually do need both core knowledge and 21st century skills to work efficiently in the world.

In the What to Learn: ‘Core Knowledge’ or ‘21st Century Skills’ article the information presented says the Core Knowledge founder E.D. Hirsch Jr. believes that 21st century skills are a waste of time, “It’s an ineffectual use of school time,” says E.D. Hirsch Jr., founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation and author of a series of books on what students should learn year-by-year in school. He calls the P21 movement “a fragmented approach with uncertain cognitive goals” that could most profoundly hurt disadvantaged children: At home, he says, they don’t get as much background as middle-class students in history, science, literature and the like. (Toppo, 2009). The article goes onto include co-founder of Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), Ken Kay mentioning that both skills are needed, “Kay calls criticisms by Hirsch and others “a sideshow that distracts people from the issue at hand: that our kids need world-class skills and world-class content.” (Toppo, 2009).

I feel as though you can’t exclude one idea from the other. While it is important to learn 21st century skills it is also important to learn core knowledge. According to the Core Knowledge Foundation, “The idea that we have to choose between knowledge and thinking skills is a false choice. Kids need both. “The richer the knowledge base, the more smoothly and effectively cognitive processes — the very ones that teachers target — operate,” notes University of Virginia cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham. “So, the more knowledge students accumulate the smarter they become” (The Core Knowledge Foundation, 2013). While Toppo presents the points of view as opposing Partnership for 21st Century folks also agree that core knowledge and 21st century skills should go hand and hand, “within the context of core knowledge instruction, students must also learn the essential skills for success in today’s world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2013).

Perhaps since 2009, The Core Knowledge Foundation has changed their point of view about skills needed to proceed in the 21st century because they clearly state that both ideas are important on their website. Either way, I believe that both need to be presented in the classroom. I believe that to be successful in the future, we must consider both sides that actually don’t seem to be so different after all since both express the need for the other.  As a future special education teacher, I see that language arts are explicitly mentioned throughout the articles. One must have the basic knowledge to communicate their ideas but also learn to think creatively, “In addition to these subjects, we believe schools must move to include not only a focus on mastery of core subjects, but also promote understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects.” (Partnership for 21st Century, 2013). I believe that what we’ve learned in class so far about thinking creatively is backed up by the websites so I don’t believe that either organization’s website changes my point of view about including both into my classroom. The Toppo article did make me question if there is room in the classroom for both and I basically concluded that you couldn’t have one without the other. Sure, students can learn core knowledge but if they can’t preform in the 21st arena then their knowledge would be locked up in a tower. Likewise, if you have the skills to think creatively and innovatively, you would theoretically be able to find any information but what would you do with that information if you didn’t have the basic knowledge to use it? I believe that these are coexisting ideas.

Educational Origami. (2013). 21st Century pedagogy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st+Century+Pedagogy

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2013). Framework for 21st Century Learning.  Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/1.__p21_framework_2pager.pdf

The Core Knowledge Foundation (2013). About the curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.coreknowledge.org/about-the-curriculum

Toppo, G. (2009). What to learn: ‘core knowledge’ or ‘21st-century skills’?. USA Today. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-03-04-coreknowledge_N.htm

Categories: INDT 501.

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Blog #1: Engaging Students for a New School Year

August 31, 2013

There are several experiences from my years in grade school and college that will influence how I engage with my students in my future classroom during the first week to create a community of learners. I’ve also talked to many teachers who have given me pointers about the beginning of the school years.

One bit of advice that a teacher friend recently mentioned to me was to never smile before winter break. Wow! That sounds a bit harsh. The teacher that told me about this is probably one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met so it really surprised me that she said something like that. I guess I gave her a surprised look because she went into an explanation about the motto. It basically means that for the first bit of school, teachers should be firm and stand their ground with students so that they understand their limitations. It actually makes a lot of sense to me probably because I had a similar experience with a teacher during high school.

My very first high school English class scared me. I walked in on the first day and although I can’t remember exactly what the teacher said, she pretty much told all of us students that she would throw away our papers if they didn’t have 1 inch margins, Times New Roman font, and perfectly constructed MLA format papers. I don’t think she ever threw away a paper all year; it was definitely a scare tactic.

I don’t believe that I will scare my students on the first day. Nonetheless, I do think that setting up a classroom management plan before the first day of class is important. Rules and regulations are important for a classroom and students need to understand these rules. However, I want to set up a warm and welcoming environment for my students. During my grade school years, I remember my teachers making us introduce ourselves but I don’t remember them sharing their life experiences with the class. It wasn’t until I reached college that professors began explaining their history, experiences, goals, and mistakes with the class. I remember my grade school teachers being very guarded about their lives outside of school.

When I become a teacher I would like to introduce myself and explain my journey. Although some students may be bored and seriously not care about my past, I feel as though others will understand that I am a person too instead of someone in an ivory tower.

Categories: EDCI 506.

Week One: Technology Matrix

August 29, 2013

The Technology Integration Matrix seemed very intimidating when I first looked at it. However, once I watched all the videos for the language arts discipline I started to understand how the terms relate to one another. I am particularly fond of the authentic learning attribute of learning because I believe this style can help students apply their knowledge and therefore retain the information for the long run.

I actually had a pretty exciting experience as a substitute teacher last year. I subbed during a school wide project based learning presentation fair. At Southeastern Alternative School in Fauquier county one of the requirements for students is that they create one project that demonstrates what they have learned throughout the year. The principal was so kind as to allow me to visit the fair during the day. I had worked at the school throughout the year so I had watched the students in various stages of the projects.

One particular assignment that I really enjoyed was a project in which an eighth grade student used his love of video games to understand statistics and the scientific method. For his project, he had students volunteer to play video games while listening to different genres of music to see if the music impacted their ability to play games. Volunteers listened to country, rock, rap, or no music. He tried to make a correlation between the number of kills students made in a game and the music that was playing. He used an mp3 player and Xbox gaming system. I believe this would fall into the authentic-transformation. The student used technology to link what he learned in the classroom (scientific method- independent and dependent variables, etc.) to his interest in video games. This is an example of transformation because his use of technology was self-directed but his teacher served as a mentor to help him along the way.

One particular example that I found compelling was the language arts authentic-transformation Video Game Design (http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/lessons/authentic_transformation_languagearts.php). I think I enjoyed this video because I have an experience with the use of video games in the classroom. I understand how beneficial it can be to help students that may be struggling to understand material. This lesson is authentic because it allows students to create a story and use technology in order to make a video game. It affords students the opportunity to explore key concepts, such as main character, while doing something that is related to the real world, gaming. It can be considered transformation because students use technology to build on the storytelling abilities. It is self-led and the teacher acts to facilitate the students learning while helping them produce a game about their story.

A video that I was skeptical about would be the language arts authentic-entry phonics game (http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/lessons/authentic_entry_languagearts.php). My skepticism may stem from the fact that there is a lack of information about the technology used, www.Starfall.com, within the presentation. I understand that technology is being used as entry. This means that students are learning their phonics for the first time so the teacher will theoretically go over the phonics lesson with the students after they have completed the lesson. However, I think I’m just a little skeptical of teachers using technology to introduce a topic to students for the first time. Technology can be a helpful warm up for students to get their feet wet in a subject but the technology used in this lesson doesn’t seem to be guided by the instructor but rather by a computer. It seems a little cold to me. I prefer lessons in which the teacher introduces a topic then gives students time to explore the topic using technology.

Florida Center for Instructional Technologies (2011). The Technology Integration Matrix. Retrieved          from http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/index.php

Grant, M. (2002). Getting a grip on project-based learning: theory, cases and recommendations. Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 5(1). Retrieved from http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/win2002/514/


Categories: Uncategorized.

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