Tag Archives: Technology

The Muses Go To School

13 Mar

As part of our seminar and tech class, my group created an RSA-style video about the book The Muses Go To School.

I really enjoyed reading this book, because it emphasized a fact that I firmly believe: Teaching The Arts in school is a vital part of educating children. Not all children will grow up to be professional artists/actors/directors/poets/musicians etc… However, every single person (child) can benefit greatly from the inclusion of arts education throughout their schooling.

We made an RSA video to mirror the importance of art in schools – an artistic form of assessment for an artistic book!

Hope you enjoy!

Different Worlds

10 Mar

On Monday, I had the opportunity to sit in on two classrooms at the school where my mom works. This school is in a wealthier district, with only 10% of students qualifying for  free or reduced lunch.

There are some extreme differences, as well as similarities, between this school I visited, and the school where I am a teacher intern.

1: The building

The school in which I am a teacher intern was built in 1959. In 1989, it was “modernized” – I’m not sure what that entails, but I assume it included upgraded electrical systems and making the buildings safer. However, I’m sure someone who attended the school in the 70s would still recognize it.

The school I visited last week was completely rebuilt, from the ground up, in 2011. High-speed wireless internet, large classrooms (all about 1000 square feet), and interactive whiteboards in every classroom are just a few of the items listed on the district webpage.

2. The Students

As I mentioned above, only 10% of students at this school qualify for free or reduced lunch. I had some difficulty finding that information for my main placement school, but I believe it is between 45-55% of students – although some sources have that number as much higher.

The 3rd graders in my main placement and the 3rd graders in the class I visited are two very different groups of children. The class I visited is designated a “high achieving” or “gifted” class; students must score highly on several tests in order to qualify. The biggest difference I noticed was the amount of independent work given to students. I wonder, as I often do, if these students are able to work independently because of their ability levels, or because it has simply always been expected of them. It’s one of those chicken or the egg situations, I suppose – although I do believe that when we expect the best of our students, we receive their best.

3. The teacher/staff community

In this area, I saw virtually no difference. I sat in the staff room and ate lunch (with my mom) and chatted with teachers about school, teaching, and life in general. The conversation was hardly different than any one I usually have at lunch at my main placement. Teachers, aides, and other staff clearly love what they do, and work hard every day to make a difference in their students lives.



Thanks-Vember 25

25 Nov

I’m thankful for sunny days, coffee shops, and wi-fi. I’m especially thankful for the ability to work at a coffee shop, on wi-fi, with my classmate, on our homework. We got a lot done today, and I’m feeling a little better about the next two weeks.

Thanks-vember 17 & 18. Oops

18 Nov

Well, I’m embarrassed. A few days ago I wrote about how I am a writer because I am writing, every day. And then yesterday, I forgot.

It’s not like I didn’t want to write. It’s not that I couldn’t find the willpower or the time or a subject to write about. I just forgot.

I didn’t even do anything important yesterday. Ok, sure, I did some homework. I had rehearsal for that Christmas show I’m working on. But I also took a nap and watched an old episode of How I Met Your Mother. Not exactly an A+ workday.

Because of that, I owe you not one but TWO things I am thankful for today:

1) I am thankful for naps. When I was a child, I refused to take naps. I hated being forced to lay down in the middle of the day, when there were so many other exciting things to do. In college, I rediscovered the power of a power nap. The joy of a snuggle nap (with a pet or someone you like to cuddle). The necessity of a nap after a late night (of studying, of course). I learned to fit in sleep whenever I could grab it – after class, in the library, in my car. Now, thankfully, I am not in school AND working full time, but I still enjoy a nap.

2) I am thankful for all the resources available to teachers today. It can be somewhat overwhelming, but if you know how to weed through it, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, even Facebook, can all be amazing resources for teachers. I have been writing lesson plans for class, and have been pulling ideas from fellow teachers from all around the world. The internet allows for global collaboration, in a way that has never before been possible. I communicate regularly with teachers in other cities and states – and even have a friend who teaches in Dubai. However, it’s not just the internet – go to any bookstore and check out the Education section. I’m not saying all the resources out there are great – I’m sure there are some books and websites full of terrible advice for teachers. But, part of being a functional member of modern society is knowing how to pick out the good information from the bad. I’m just thankful that I ‘m not alone in this.

Additionally, I am lucky enough to have resources in my classmates, professors, and mentor teachers. Each one of them provides a unique view on education and teaching. No one is telling me to “drink the kool-aid” and swallow one specific ideology whole. I am trusted, as an adult, a learner, and a teacher, to find what I think is best.

Screen Time

15 Oct

Last week’s post brought up some interesting discussion, both in blog-land and in class. My professor summed it up like this:

Talking about “too much technology” in schools is similar to talking about “too much paper in schools.” It’s a medium to use: a tool, not a subject.

If technology is used positively and in a well-managed way, then yes, it can be a great tool for teaching and learning. However, there is a large difference between passively staring at a screen and learning from a tool. This New York Times article from last fall discusses the “app gap” – the different types of screen time high- and low-income children are getting. The gist of it is, children from higher-income families spend time playing educational apps, while children from low-income families watch television.

So what does this mean? It means that some children – higher income children – are going to be prepared for a world where information is at their fingertips. A world where someone can go on a hike, discover an interesting plant, take a picture of it and immediately have information about the plant. A world where their curiosity can be sated instantaneously. Other children – low income children – are going to be prepared to be entertained and receive information passively (if at all). They will lack curiosity and the desire to learn new things.

Additionally, in my opinion, it means that children are spending far too much time in front of screens – nearly 2 hours a day watching TV or something similar, and less than a half hour a day reading or being read to. Even if children are watching “educational” television, they are sitting passively and not interacting. They might learn something, but only what the educational show is teaching – their curiosity isn’t piqued, their minds aren’t expanding, and they aren’t using the tools available to us in our modern technological world.

We have all this technology – and it’s obvious children are going to spend time with it, so the question is: What can we do with these awesome new learning tools?

A Study in Contrast

5 Oct

This was the first week of my Middle School placement, and I am struck by so many contrasting ideas and realities, I’m not really sure where my head is. Yes, I went from third grade to middle school; from 8-year-olds to 14-year-olds, but there is so much more to it than that. I went from a low-income school to a private school with tuition higher than mine. I went from a school where not all families have enough food, to one where each student has his or her own laptop.

The kind of teaching done at this private school is remarkable: teachers work together to create their curriculum, to suit the needs of the school and their students. Since private school are exempt from our state testing, the teachers are not teaching to a test, but instead teaching for content and understanding. Is this a better method of schooling? I am not sure yet, but I am forming opinions. The teachers not only have freedom from tests, they also have the resources available to do things like purchase several different class sets of textbooks, and draw their lessons from many different curricula.

Additionally, as I mentioned above, each student in their upper division (middle school) has their own laptop. I came from an elementary school with a set of 5-year old laptops per three classrooms. Students are mostly unfamiliar with technology beyond video games, and the idea of taking a computerized test is daunting for many of them. But, is it really better to have our children tied to technology? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time for school-aged children. Should that limit include “educational” programs and homework?

I’m currently reading two books – Independence Days by Sharon Astyk and Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. They are both about the importance of living our lives closer to nature. Sharon Astyk focuses on our food sources, and specifically in Independence Days, about storing and preserving local food so we rely less on the global industrial food complex, which she argues is unsustainable and too reliant on fossil fuels. (Her blog is a great read if you’re interested.) Richard Louv is the inspiration for the “No Child Left Inside” movement, who argues that children today suffer from “Nature Deficit Disorder,” meaning they are disconnected from nature, instead focused on television, video games, and computers. He argues that this rise in technological addiction is directly linked to the rise in childhood obesity, depression, and attention disorders.

Both of these authors have my mind whirring and wheeling. I am having an extremely difficult time finding a balance between my belief that we need to live closer to nature, and my belief that children need access to current technologies in order to succeed in today’s world. If you can’t type or operate a computer, you will not get a job today – and what will it be like 10 years from now? However, the more we focus on technology, the less we seem to focus on the world around us.

Two years ago, I listened to this short segment on my local NPR station about an Outdoor-Only Kindergarten on Vashon Island, WA. It still sticks with me. It rains on Vashon, a lot, and yet these students don’t spend any time indoors. They are experiencing the world instead of reading about it. They are learning to interact with natural occurrences such as rain, mud puddles, and giant banana slugs.

Is there a happy medium between our increasingly tech-hungry world and living close to nature?

Technology brings writing to life

6 Jun

Imagine having all your students create movies out of their writing!

My Thoughts

Just another WordPress.com site


between thought and expression lies a lifetime.

Teacher Post Script

Reflecting on my learning

PE teachers

Physical education in Finland and elsewhere

The Orca K-8 School Garden Blog!

Sustainability, social justice, and organic agriculture at a South Seattle Public K-8 School.

Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere

I have no idea why I picked this blog name, but there's no turning back now

Learning to Fold

a work in progress

I Speak Math

Integrating Technology and Mathematics

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Teacher, Author, Speaker, EdTech Advocate

Even From Here

Day by day

The Jose Vilson

Educator - Writer - Activist - Father


less helpful


Just another WordPress.com site

Teacher in Training

Just another WordPress.com site


Just another WordPress.com site

Elementary Thots

Thoughts on elementary education.


Theoretical and Experiential Journeys of a Teacher in Training


My journey of getting schooled