Sunday, November 13, 2016

Personal Learning Network

My First Personal Learning Network Map

Expanding my Personal Learning Network
1.   Zoom
The first way I expanded my PLN was doing a Zoom meeting with my group members and Dr. Z. I didn’t know I was expanding my PLN at the time, but I ended up with a really great resource. I have used Skype or FaceTime in the past, and I have had technological issues with them. Sometimes the connection is slow, the screen freezes, others can hear, etc. With Zoom, multiple people are talking, and there is no time lag. Everything is in real time, and nothing is blurry. I was really impressed with Zoom, and I actually plan on using it next semester with my student organization officer meeting. In my future classroom, I can use this as a way for students to contact me with questions or to meet with parents. What a great tool!

2.  Following a Pinterest Education Board
One of the first ways I expanded my PLN was through Pinterest. I enjoy scrolling through pins in my spare time, so why not follow education boards? I am a Social-Science Teaching major, so I wanted to find a board that was about social studies and different resources I could use in my future classroom. This board, Social Studies Education, was exactly what I was looking for. The pins are graphics or visuals of historical information. I can show my future students these pins to help them learn about topics like the Holocaust, Bill of Rights, Immigration, and so much more. I spent an hour going through their pins because I thought it was so interesting!

3.  Liking an Education Facebook Page
I liked TheImagination Tree on Facebook. This organization posts about creative, learning crafts to do with children. They also share heartwarming education videos. This is a very positive, inspiring page. I can use this source as a teacher for more hands-on activities. I hope to teach older students, and this organization shares crafts for that age level, too. I’m really impressed with this page, and I’m glad I added it to my Facebook newsfeed.

4.  Following a Twitter Page on Education  
I followed Education Week on Twitter. This is a resource that tweets about politics and education, or “American education’s newspaper.” I follow politics, but sometimes I do not pay attention to issues of education as much as social issues like women’s rights or racism. This twitter page is a great resource to connect current news with education. For example, one of their recent tweets was an article discussing the Trump presidency and his impact on education. I believe that it’s important for everyone, including teachers, to be aware of politics. This is an excellent tool for me in my current life and in my future classroom. I can use this to discuss current news in my Social Studies classes.   

5.  Found a blog!
This is the CoolCatTeacher Blog by Vicki Davis. I read her blog post titled, “How Do We Teach Politics to Kids during an R-Rated Election?” She did an excellent job of breaking down the roles of teachers in elections and some of the challenges. I enjoyed hearing Vicki’s input and others’ comments. Overall, this is a pretty COOL blog! She blogs about interesting, unique topics in education. As a future teacher, I feel like I can use this blog to stay connected in the community of teachers. CoolCatTeacher Blog is a space to brainstorm ideas, learn about different problems, and express opinions.

6.  Symbaloo and Poll Everywhere 
I was looking at #unietd's Symbaloo, and I found Poll Everywhere. This resource is really easy and simple to use! I created my own poll to see how to make polls. There is no signup, and it is free. Teachers can create polls or quizzes that students respond to through texts. As a future teacher, I could use this to make decisions in the classroom. If students are split on a decision, I can create a poll to make a decision. This way students’ opinions remain anonymous. This could also be a cool way to do a review session before a test. The options are endless with Poll Everywhere, and I will definitely use this tool here at UNI in my student organizations and in my future classroom.

7.  Kahoot! 
In my class Living Like a Student, we used a Kahoot! as a review for the last day. This resource is like Poll Everywhere, except Kahoot! is more like game. The educator puts their screen on a projector or smart board (this is where the questions and answers will be). The students open to the class link to Kahoot! On the students’ screens, they see four different colored squares. When the question comes on the board, the students pick the corresponding square with their answer. Once everyone has answered, we see the results (how many voted for each option). The teacher discusses the right answer. Students gain and lose points based on their answers. Kahoot! is a really cool, interactive tool to use in the classroom. It sparks a competitive, fun learning environment. I will be using this in the near future!

8.  Twitter Chat
On Sunday, November 6 at 8:00 PM, I joined the #iaedchat on Twitter. Our topic that night was parent-teacher conferences. I introduced myself as an education major from Iowa. Others welcomed me, and I liked their tweets. I saw someone who is in another Education and Technology class here at UNI. Also, I knew teachers from my high school on the chat. I answered some questions and read others thoughts. It was very interesting to see other educators’ thoughts on parent-teacher conferences. I believe in my future, this would be a great resource for me to gain ideas and opinions on Iowa’s education system.

9.  Snapchat
      I used Snapchat to expand my PLN. I was sitting in the library and saw this sign advertising for the A-Team. I took a picture on Snapchat and sent it to my friend who needed this information. Also, I posted it to my story so my other friends could hear about this resource at UNI. After doing this, I realized that I was using technology with education, and this would fit into my Personal Learning Network. In my future classroom, I could have a Snapchat to remind students about upcoming due dates or events. This is a great tool for student, teachers, and parents to get quick reminders.

10.  Podcast - TEDTalks Education – "Let’s teach for mastery, not test scores" by Sal Khan
      The last thing I watched to expand my PLN was a podcast by TEDTalks Education. In this talk, Sal talks about how we need to change our education system to not be test-focused. He thinks we should teach students to master topics, not just to test well. Sal said that our education system is failing students by keeping all students at the same pace. It was an interesting discussion that I think many educators can observe in their own classrooms. I took time to reflect on myself after watching this podcast. I want to keep my future classroom learning-based, not test-focused. I want to adapt to individual student needs and change the pace of my teaching based on classroom needs.

After expanding my PLN, I took time to reflect on changes to my map. This is my adjusted Personal Learning Network map. 

As the modern world keeps progressing and advancing technology, I need to keep pace in my classroom. I must be aware of my students' use of technology, and how to incorporate new technology in my classroom. A great educator knows how to use technology to help students learn. For now, I will continue to grow my Personal Learning Network. There are so many great resources out there, I just need to go find them! 

Pros and Cons of National Standards

Image result for classroom

Currently, each state is responsible for regulating and setting standards for public education. Here in Iowa, we look to Iowa Core Standards and school districts' expectations to set goals for our classroom. Many citizens have proposed for parts of the education system to be regulated by the federal government instead of current oversight from the states. One of the biggest points of discussion is a national curriculum or national standards based on current state standards. Below are a sample of some pros and cons to this issue.

The Pros of National Standards: 
  • Clear guidelines 
  • No lost information for students that move in between state lines - easy transition for children
  • Less expensive 
  • Uniform 
  • Focuses on observable behaviors 

The Cons of National Standards: 
  • Potentially increase in testing
  • Testing does not always show true understanding of standards
  • Focused more on classroom and not individual needs
  • Schools have different needs 
  • Less freedom for teachers 

How does this affect you as a teacher? Well, it's important for teachers to be aware of the politics and changes to education. You could look at other states' standards and compare them to your states. How are the standards similar? How are they different? Are certain topics discussed in different grades across the states? Reflect on your research. 

Lastly, you can look to other classrooms around the nation for inspiration or ideas for your classroom. For example, a teacher in Ohio is teaching state capitols with his fifth graders using a creative method. Well if you are a third grade teacher in Missouri teaching state capitols, you can learn from his classroom. Don't reinvent the wheel.  

For more information: 

Image by Massachusetts Secretary of Education

Friday, November 11, 2016

Social Media in the Classroom

Image result for education and social media

In today's world, a lot of students have multiple social media accounts. Why not use this in the classroom? Here are examples of social media: 
  • Snapchat 
  • Facebook 
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest 
  • Tumblr
  • Blogger
How can teachers incorporate social media in the classroom? 
  • Have students make Facebook profile for historical figures
  • Blogging sites like Blogger as a forum for student to share content
  • Take polls or quizzes in review sessions!
  • Have students teach their peers about safety on the web
  • Access to smartphone and tablets in the classroom gives access for digital books and resources 
  • Teachers can have a Blogger or Facebook page to keep parents connected with their child's classroom.
  • Use Pinterest to share resources on certain topics 
  • Tweet helpful tips for studying
The options are endless! Brainstorm ways to include social media in your classroom in a positive way. 

For more information:


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wearable Technology

In the recent years, wearable technology has advanced and become more commercialized than ever before. Naturally, students have access and own wearable technology like Fitbits or Apple Watches.
What is wearable technology?

  • Lightweight, portable technology that can be worn. 
  • Examples include fitness-tracking devices like Fitbits or Nike. 
  • Virtual reality simulations like Oculus Rift 
  • Smartwatches that connect to smart phones like Apple Watches or Android Wear.
  • Smart glasses like Google Glasses.
  • Even headphones are an example of wearable technology!

How can you, as a teacher, incorporate these useful pieces of tech into your classroom? 

  • Headphones 
    • Headphones are an easy piece of wearable technology to incorporate! 
    • Some teachers allow students to listen to music through headphones while taking tests. This allows students to relax and perform more comfortably. 
    • Other teachers allow students to use headphones during individual time during the classroom. For example, if students are working on homework or doing research, why not listen to music or watch videos?
  • Smartwatches 
    • There are so many ways to use smartwatches in the classroom! Because this is the newest trend in technology, you need to get brainstorming on how to use this technology. 
    • Let's say there is a student on the other side of the building that has a math question. They could spending 5-10 minutes walking to you, or you could Facetime them through the Apple Watch.
    • You could track attendance with a smartwatch or take digital notes on the move.
    • Use the built-in calculator to help with math or science problems!
  • Virtual reality simulations 
    • If you have access to this wearable technology, you can transport students to a 3D world. 
    • Why read books about England when you can travel there through devices like Oculus?
    • Locations include oceans, hazardous areas, war zones  
  • Fitness-tracking devices
    • For health teachers, this is an very exciting trend among students. Almost all student have some sort of fitness-tracking devices. 
    • Set individual goals for students to meet!
    • Graph progress!
    • Make classroom competitions!
    • The possibilities are endless!

For more information: 
Wearable Technology and the Future of Education
Wearable technology in the classroom: what's available and what does it do?
What Wearable Tech Could Mean for the Classroom
Integrating Wearable Technology in Education

Image by Gadgetmac
Image by Unsplash
Wearables 101

Sunday, November 6, 2016

SMART Boards in the Classroom

One great way to incorporate technology in the classroom is through a digital, interactive whiteboard. SMART boards give teachers many advantages.

1. Flexibility
SMART boards allow teachers to have flexibility while teaching. Boards can display pictures, games, and videos easily. If a student asks a question about a specific topic, a teacher can quickly look up examples to show their class. SMART boards also give teachers the flexibility to take notes and draw pictures to help their students better understand concepts. 

2. Going Green
Interactive white boards reduce the amount of papers in classrooms, which helps schools go green. Teachers can put pictures, stories, questions, and other materials on the board instead of printing off those sources.

3. Integration of Technology  
The video above is a great example of a teacher incorporating her SMART board and technology into the learning in her classroom. Her students play interactive games involving the periodic table and states of matter. SMART boards also allow teachers to save the notes that they use in the classroom. Pretty neat!

For more information: 

Image result for smartboard in classroom


Friday, November 4, 2016

All About Me Board

Welcome to Ms. Brenna's Board! I am Ms. Brenna, and each of my boards will have a theme around education. First, let me introduce myself!

I am a sophomore Social-Science Teaching major with minors in Sociology and Sexuality, Women's, and Gender Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. I enjoy spending time with my dog, Envy! I am the oldest sibling. My favorite pastimes are watching Netflix and reading.