Spending Time Outdoors and Developing a Love for Reading

I read an article called The Best Classroom for New Readers Might Be the Great OutdoorsThis article talks about the relationship between spending time in nature and developing a love for reading. It said that children who spend time outdoors and learn about the things around them become more enthusiastic readers. It is also good for children to spend time outside to appreciate their surroundings and learn new vocabulary. This article also mentions that children who spend time outside are able to better picture the stories you tell them in their head and become better readers.

In my opinion, there is no better way to learn new vocabulary than to explore the world around you and create experiences in your life. Moreover, it is important to spend time doing things with others and not always sitting. This is not only useful for little children but also for preteens, teens and even adults. Our experiences are what develop our ability to communicate. As we learn more and more about different things our vocabulary expands and we are able to have a conversation about that topic. Furthermore, if children have a wide vocabulary they are better able to learn how to read because they encounter less unfamiliar words. They might need to know how to read and write them but not what they mean.

We live in an era in which children spend a lot of time indoors and sitting down. It is important not only for schools, but also families to allow children of all ages to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Children who spend time outside become better people and are able to deal with situations more easily.

So, if you want your children or students to be passionate readers you must allow them to spend a lot of time outdoors. Spending time outdoors will allow these children to develop in a way that will allow them to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. Being outdoors is an important part of a person’s life. Allow children to fully be a part of this wonderful planet we live in.

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The Digital Gap

Good afternoon,

For my technology class I was asked to read several articles and watch some videos about the digital divide and the internet access gap between the rich and the poor. This is a topic that I have a strong opinion on and I could talk about it for hours. Currently, I work in a title I school. Some of you might ask, what are title I schools? These are schools with a high amount of low-income families. In these schools a high percentage of the students receive free or reduced lunch. The problem with this, if families do not even have money for food much less do they have money for an internet connection or to buy a computer or tablet.

I watched a video called Bridging the Digital Gap. In this video the narrator mentions the following: “I met a woman. She was with two children at a digital essentials event. She came up to me and started to cry. she said… ‘my kids do have homework they have to do on the internet. I drive to a McDonald’s and they do as much of the homework as they can on the smartphone using the free wi-fi from McDonald’s.’ ” Think about this for a minute. How do you feel? It’s awful.

I believe it is important to teach children how to use the internet and technology in general and use it with them in class. However, when giving homework to students we have to make sure we keep our students and their needs and possibilities in mind. I am not saying that since our students might not have access to the internet at home we should not use it but what I am saying is that we have to be mindful of the fact that if we assign these students a lot of homework that they have to do using the internet they might feel frustrated because they have limited access to it and they might not have the appropriate divice to be able to comfortably do their homework. In addition, some of the homework might even be imposible for them to do.

This does not mean either that we should not send low-income students homework that requires them to use the internet and technology in general. However, we might need to reduce the amount of homework that requires digital access and give them the opportunity to stay after school or come early to school to use the school computers.

There are many ways to teach our students and not all of them involve technology and the internet. We should use it in class so that our students become knowledgable about it but we have to keep in mind the access they might have or not have at home and what they might or might not be able to do because of that access.

Digital Learning

Good morning,

For my course on technology in the classroom the professor made us read the 2014 national SpeakUp report on digital learning from students in kindergarten through 12th grade.  According to this report students use technology a lot for school work and they are more engaged when their teachers allow them to use technology in the classroom. This report made me reflect on the importance of technology for students nowadays and how as a teacher I need to plan my lessons in order to engage my students more.

As a teacher I think it is important for me to plan my instruction in such a way that I engage my students in class. However, I question, is the only way to engage my students by using technology? I was able to quickly answer this question and my conclusion was NO. Technology is important because that is what children and adolescences like nowadays. However, there are many other ways that we can make our students LOVE our class.

On the other hand, I believe that I believe that it will be important for me to integrate technology in my lessons and balance it with other activities as well. Technology is not the only means of engaging a student but it is part of it. Moreover, technology has many educational uses and teachers should take advantage of them. However, I strongly believe that children and adolescences should learn to spend time without technology and know that there is times from them to use it and others when they will not be using it and instead they will be doing something else that is as equally enjoyable.

Furthermore, I do not think that it is necessary to allow students to constantly use there devices in class. Even more, I do not think it is beneficial for students to be allowed to bring their cellphones to class and even less I do not think it is beneficial for them to be using their cellphones in the class.

Technology is important and should be used in the classroom. However, I believe that my students should learn to do other things that do not involve technology as well and they should learn to enjoy those activities equally as much. Technology is a tool that should be used when needed and there are times in which technology is not necessary and others in which it is highly useful.

The Internet and the World

Dear reader,

I recently watched a TED talk by Andrew Blum with the title Discover the Physical Side of the Internet.  The TED talk discusses the sophisticated internet connections and it made me reflect on the internet as a world.

This TED talk mentioned that the internet is very complex and has different connections that link us to different networks and parts of the world. There are many cables that go underground and in the water and they travel all around the world. Some cables are very thin but they are very powerful.

During the TED talk I started imagining the internet as the world because the video shows how these connections go from country to country. The internet is a powerful place. As you can physically do on earth, traveling by plane, car, boat, train, walking, etc from country to country or place to place, on the internet you can navigate from one place to another. When a person goes on the internet they can explore one website or another. This also happens on earth when we go on a trip and visit the different museums, monuments, restaurants, etc. Moreover, on the internet we can not only navigate local networks or sites, but we can also go into foreign ones. This occurs as well on earth. We can visit different places in our own city or country but we can also take a trip somewhere else, be it near or far.

It is fascinating how the internet works. It is a system with very complex connections that allow us to find information from places and people that are nearby but it also allows us to navigate information that otherwise we would not be able to access.

Podcasts for Professional Learning

Good morning,

I recently listened to a podcast on BAM! Radio called I Flipped My Third Grade Class and… http://www.jackstreet.com/jackstreet/WFLP.Brown.cfm Before listening to this podcast I was hesitant about flipping my classroom because at the school I work at some children do not have access to technology and the internet at home. However, this podcast gave me a great idea.

The podcast I listened to talked about flipping the classroom inside the classroom but also giving the children and parents access to the videos at home. One might ask, How do I do this? Well, it can be done. This third grade teacher said that he came to school two hours earlier than his students every day and recorded the videos(he had about 500 at the end of the school year). During the lessons he would have half of the class listening to the videos on one side of the class while he worked individually with each student of the other half of the class. Then he would have the groups switch activities. The teacher went on to say that this allowed him to not have to stand and lecture to the whole class (which is boring for the children). In addition, he stated that this method gave him the opportunity to work individually with the students that needed it the most.

This teacher said that he also gave access, through his website, to the videos to the parents. He mentioned that it was great for the parents to be able to have access to the lesson because that way they could understand what the lesson was and how it was being taught and they would be able to help their children at home with homework or by explaining the subject to them again.

How is this beneficial to me? Well, as an ESL assistant and ESL teacher to-be it would be a very useful method. This way of teaching would allow me to individually work with all my students and greatly help those who are struggling by targetting their specific needs because I would be able to work with my students one-on-one. In the same grade I might have students with different knowledge of the English language and these students would have different needs than their peers.

I think podcasts are a great way for teachers to have professional learning opportunities. Other teachers record a podcast on their field of expertise and the teacher who wants to learn about that subject listens to it. This video was a great professional learning opportunity for me.

Picktochart Banner

Good afternoon,

This application is awesome! At first it is hard to use it because you have to figure out how everything works but once you explore the site for a while it is a lot of fun. You can create banners, reports, infographics, and presentations. The site provides the user with templates and the user only has to modify them. I see myself using piktochart with my students. There are many productive ways to integrate this tool into my lessons and engage my students.

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Extracurricular Empowerment: Scott McLeod

Good afternoon,

Recently, I watched a video called Extracurricular Empowerment. This video talks about the power of social media and the positive ways children use it. One of the stories that was mentioned was about Martha, from Scotland, and her school lunch blog.

Martha began a blog in which she posted a picture of her school lunch and rated it for its appeal, health, and amount of hairs. Martha’s blog became very popular and even famous chefs commented on it. Her school, however, told her she had to stop posting her lunches and this caused commotion from the internet community. This issue made her school have to back down and they once again let her post the pictures and changed the lunches.

I think this use of technology is great because it allows people to reach a greater public on a specific cause. We should teach children how to use technology appropriately and, as Scott McLeod mentions,  empower them when they are using it for purposes like this one. On the other hand, I believe that they are still children and we have to make sure that they are safe. As teachers we should integrate technology in the classroom so that our students learn how to use it effectively and can do great things with it, such as what Martha did. Technology is great but it is important to know that there is a time and place for it and that it is not necessary to constantly use it.

The examples of the social media successes mentioned in the video are examples of the wonderful things children do if we give them the opportunity. I think that as teachers it is important to allow our students to express their creativity and not control everything they do. We have to give them the space they need to become the wonderful people that they are.