Monday, November 23, 2009

Things to be thankful for

My second grade students did a project this past week about things that they are thankful for. I of course modeled how to type in the text box, changing the size of the font...explaining what "thankful" means and that this is just a sentence starter - the speech bubbles below will finish the sentence. I typed in that I was thankful for "my teaching job." which I am. It is also important I feel to have students have original ideas which is why I chose it :) I taught how to change the text box into a speech bubble, resized and moved it so that there was room in the middle for the students picture. I modeled one more example, typing that I was thankful for "technology." Each of the students had between 6 and 8 things that they typed. The project was successful on so many levels. I sent a copy home with the students and kept the other to be put on the bulletin board. The students thought of the typical things such as family, friends, pets, toys, and food. Some of the students typed in things that they were studying about in school or had personal experiences with. Some not so typical things that were thought of were soldiers, freedom, the earth, animals and plants, air, my intelligence, my personality, our boat, frogs, and the sun.

It is important to reflect every so often on what we are thankful for. For some people it might just be surviving another day and for others their lives are full of things both large and small to be grateful for. I fall into this later category. I am a lucky individual. I don't take it for granted and hope that I can give back to others.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

End the debate

Technology integrated into education. It is a hot topic. It is something that many in education wish that they could get have more time to explore. Others have negative feelings thinking that students should be spending more time on the three r's. Does Denmark have the right idea? Danish pupils use web in exams is an article that examines colleges in Denmark that have begun to allow students taking final exams to use their computers to help them in their exams. The premise is a fantastic one. If you know the subject matter and are writing an exam the internet is not going to help you to cheat but instead allow you to explain in further detail what you already know. Essentially the questions themselves require the students to use higher level thinking to answer the test questions. Isn't this what real learning is about? I don't know about you, but I remember few answers to the rote test questions that I got "A's" on. For those naysayers out there, read the article :) Students are not allowed to email or message each other which is cheating. It is based on the honor system. Very few students cheat because of the threat of being expelled from the college.

I for one, wish that we could stop the debate about whether technology is necessary in education. Let us all as a society embrace technology in schools for every good thing that it can bring into our students lives. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and think that technology, the internet, social networking and in general the way business is done has not changed our lives. I think that Denmark has it right in this regard.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One of the best! Sesame Street

Childhood. This word can bring up many emotions and memories. November 4th, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest television shows of time- Sesame Street. It was and continues to be relevant and real for millions of young children and their parents. The extraordinary brilliance of Jim Henson and his team made generations of children learn their alphabet, read words and understand numbers. Sesame Street went well beyond school learning. The Muppet characters and the real life actors taught us about emotions, accepting differences in others, introduced us to places we might never visit as well as lessons in life about how to treat people.
Sesame Street mixed real with the imaginary. It explained things that seemingly are simple but in reality are complex. The creative genius mixed the daily letter and number with songs, games, interviews with real people, puppets, animation and humor to keep the attention of a 2-5 year old for an hour.
Although I have not watched Sesame Street in more than 10 years, I hope that the children of today and the generations to come will be able to watch and learn as so many of us had the privilege to do. The Count, Elmo, Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Kermit, Zoe, Cookie Monster and the many other characters were part of the learning and joy from my own childhood and my childrens too.