Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Journal 10: Is Cursive Worth Teaching?

Point/Counterpoint: Is Cursive Worth Teaching? 
Eilts, Sharon. "Point/Counterpoint: Is Cursive Worth Teaching?" International Society for Technology in Education. ISTE, Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. 

Summary: This article lists why and why not cursive should still be taught to young students. First, the author discusses why it should be taught. Each year, people visit Washington D.C. to appreciate the hand-written documents (like the Declaration of Independence). A 6-year old girl noted cursive was something she was looking forward to do when she grew up. She also was aware that by learning to write cursive, one can read it as well. This is a skill that will help people read and understand the penmanship of others in the past, present, and future.
On the other hand, the author discusses why cursive should not be taught. Cursive is thought to be obsolete, and the goal of communication should be to get a message across, not concerning the tool used to get that message across. Especially with technology allowing students to type everything out (even electronic signatures), cursive seems to lack purpose in today's communication.

Question 1: What should I do if my school does not want me to include cursive as part of my curriculum?

It probably will not be too big of a deal to teach them cursive if the time allows. Teachers would not be punished for teaching cursive to their students, but would still need to meet their curriculum for teaching as well.

Question 2: How terrible would it possibly be to not teach cursive at all?

Recently, I read an article that claimed that discussed a study that revealed that learning to write in cursive improves cerebral activity in certain areas of the brain. I do remember how tedious it was to learn to write in cursive as a young student, but I use cursive all the time now, because it saves me time by me not having to lift my pen up as I write. I believe cursive should still be taught to young students.

Journal 9: Reading Redefined for a Transmedia Universe

"Reading Redefined for a Transmedia Universe" by Annette Lamb 

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading With Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from

Summary: This article begins by explaining the impact digital technology has on the shift of our business, education and social lives. Everything seems to be more readily accessible. Particularly, this article focuses on how digital age technology has changed reading. According to the article, "reading is the process of constructing meaning from symbols". Reading does not have to only consist of words; it can also contain pictures. The authors describe five electronic reading environments. These include e-books, interactive storybooks, reference databases, hypertext and interactive fiction, and trans media storytelling. Each of these electronic reading environments makes it easy to access through a computer, smartphone, or laptop. They offer many selections of books, journals, articles, and even reading-related printable worksheets and games. There are different opinions stated on the helpfulness of technology-based reading for learning, but personally, I find it great that such electronic reading technology is allowing students to not carry around 20 pounds of books all day during school. I am using coursesmart to access my digital textbook for one of my classes, and I find it so helpful because I can type in words or phrases in the search bar to easily find what I'm looking for in the text. I have only had a great experience with this digital reading tool, and I hope that most people find it as helpful.

Question 1: Most digital reading environments require a fee, whether it is a membership fee or the price of the text. Can I access necessary digital texts for free?

The choices are very limited, but there are indeed digital texts that are accessible online at no cost.

Question 2: How can students access the digital texts at an affordable price to them (especially for low income students)?

Digital texts are typically less expensive than buying the hardcopy, because it is usually being rented for about a semester. However, students can share an account and split the costs for the textbook if taking the same class.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Journal 8: Adaptive Technology

AAC, or, Augmentative and Alternative Communication includes forms of speech other than oral, whether they are facial expressions, gestures, pictures or body language. For people with speech or language disabilities, there are special tools available to make communication and speech possible. These tools may help improve school performance and social interactions.

Proloquo2Go (high tech tool): This AAC tool is an iPad app which helps those with special needs communicate. For those who have a difficult time getting their articulations out into words, this app allows them to put phrases together and the machine says it out loud in the voice that they wish to speak in. This device is helpful in that it reduces the frustration for those with speech problems to articulate through the app.

Visual Scene Displays (low tech tool): This tool is an AAC strategy that uses visual images to support the special needs person in their communication. It provides context for the communication and supports that conversational exchange. It can be personalized by showing an actual picture; the communicator shows a picture that they are talking about, and then can point to one of the listed comments that they want the other person to read. This can be helpful in my class so that I can still communicate with my special needs student(s) through their use of pictures.

Question 1: What are some pros of low-tech tools for communication in comparison to high-tech tools?

An obvious one is that low-tech tools are much less expensive. However, high-tech tools do have an advantage, in that it is much more convenient to use, and typically much more effective in trying to communicate what one has to say.

An input device that transfers data into a computer to be processed. An input device for students with special needs is a piece of computer equipment that can be used to control signals to a computer or some other information processing system. Such devices can be helpful for students with special needs to take tests or write papers.

DynaWrite Keyboard Communication Device (Hardware Option): This hardware device allows those with speech disabilities (with good literacy skills) to type and talk. This device is connected to a regular QWERTY keyboard that most are familiar with, so it makes typing and speaking quick an easy. The device also offers Word Prediction, which reduces the amount of time it takes to type out a speech. A convenient feature of this device includes the ability to save common speeches for later use.

Voice Recognition Software (Software): Voice Recognition is a computer software that allows students with disabilities (due to dyslexia, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.) can speak into a microphone that is connected to the computer and the typing will be automatically be done by the computer. The speaker may tell their computers to open a document, save changes, delete a paragraph, and can even move the cursor without touching a thing! The voice regonition works best when the speaker is using discrete speech instead of fluent speech (how we normally talk to people), but the computer remembers the punctuation and voice qualities of the user for certain words. With this tool, students may write papers, and take exams (like the GRE), and communicate by sending emails! Students with disabilities may hav a difficult time spelling and writing, but saying the words into a microphone will let the computer do the spelling for them.

Question 2: Can these tools be an unfair advantage for those who do not have these tools to use in their education?

Except for the spelling that the computer does for you with a voice recognition software, I do not know any other advantage that these devices may have, because students without special needs are already at an advantage; they are able to write and speak! I believe these are great tools for a more-inclusive eduation.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

A PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. It is an online network in which teachers can connect with other educators to build a community among teachers all over the world! Your PLN allows you to create a collaboration network with colleagues and other educators, and it can be accessed whenever and wherever you are. Examples of PLN are social networking tools like Twitter, Search engines (Wiki, YouTube), blogs/news (like Diigo as a collaborative social bookmarking tool), communication tools (Skype, email), and you can follow colleagues and educators (through twitter and facebook). PLN can help me as a teacher, to collaborate information and ideas with other educators through the collection of tools in my PLN. I can gain information to news, information, lesson plans, updates regarding education. I can access and share great ideas to use in the classroom or as an educator. 

Twitter is a great way to share links to helpful educational resources. It is also a great way to gain easy access to the educational links that other educators are posting. I can follow people or groups that I find interesting in terms of educational information. I chose to follow HPTeachExchange, eschoolnews, TeachPaperless, edutopia, and EdWeekTeacher; I am following them because each one provides me with a broad spectrum of education-related news, and with useful teacher resources. On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm, I viewed the online chat session going on in #edchat on The topic being discussed was "how much should educators be allowed to determine their own professional development?". The chat included discussions about the extent that educators should be allowed to determine their professional development, what the requirements of teachers should be, different views on how learning happens, and what potential in learning there is when teachers have some amount of control in their professional development. From this chat, I have come to understand that teachers do not feel that they have much of a say in their own professional development because of the strict standards of the district. I was inbetween the extreme views as far as how much educators should be allowed to determine their own professional development. I believe that it is important to help guide, intervene, and model teachers' curriculums to standardize education to some degree, but I also believe it is crucial for teachers to have enough choice in their own professional development so that they are able to adjust to the learning styles of their students. 

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool, that is made public for others to see, depending on the topics they are interested in researching. It is a very convenient tool that allows easy access to things that people who see my Diigo bookmarks may find interesting, and that allows easy access for me to find things that may be of interest on another person's Diigo bookmark list. I am following Marissa Onaga, Ms. David, Rich Kiker, Viki Davis, and Sherylin Crawford on Diigo, because their research includes information on education justice, education news, technology in education, technology in math, and micro- and macro-issues in the education system.

I joined a digital forum called Classroom 2.0. Classrom 2.0 is an education social network where you can join discussions, and also to find and connect with other educators. Some of the features include videos, online seminars, discussion forums, and online education groups. This website provides a video that explains how to use Classroom 2.0 as a social network for teachers. According to the video, Classroom 2.0 is a social network that has a lot of opportunity to add and join discussions. It is a great source fo professional development, as you share helpful resources and information with other educators. Some helpful features include free live seminars, videos, discussion forums, introduction walkthrough of Classroom2.0, and a constantly updated calander for the schedules for the webinars. I believe that Classroom 2.0 is a great social networking tool for teachers, especially for professional development. On this social network with countless members, you have the opportunity to connect with educators around the world, and to share and gain knowledge in teaching and in education. 

Journal #6: All About Google+

Parr, B. (2011, July 16). Google+: The complete guide. Retrieved from

Summary: This article goes in depth about the aspects of Google+ and exactly how it functions as a social network for Google, including its main features. This article uses commentaries, videos and photos to demonstrate the features of Google+. In general, Google+ is an online social network that will include a newsfeed, a recommendation engine, a video chat service, a group texting service, a friend management service, and photos; the makers are still in the process of producing more features, like games. My personal favorite thing about Google+ is that you can make separate "circles" of friends that you can communicate a certain way with; sometimes, not everything you post may be relevant to everyone on your friends list. The features listed in this article include Google+ Profile, circles (categorizing group of friends), streaming and sharing content (as in status), filter option to see different categories of streams, hangouts (audial/visual chat window with a maximum of 10 people at a time), Photos, Mobile (app that allows you to access your Google+ account), Privacy that is being given extra attention to, and Google+ for businesses (create business profiles). Facebook has been a very strong social network for so many years. People have developed a strong attachment to this social network already; I am not certain Google+ will be able to beat Facebook because facebook is very simple to use, and it seems to provide everything that Google+ provides except for the facetime, which gmail, Skype, AIM, and iChat already offer. Also, as the article claims, Google+ is still an ongoing project because it still has a lot of bugs that need to be fixed. I would like to rest assure that the social network site that I am using has full proof privacy and security.

Question: How effective and beneficial do you believe Google+ will be, as a social network, in communicating and sharing with other educators?

With Facebook in the picture, I am not too sure how effective of a social networking tool it would be. Also, with the number of bugs that are not fixed yet, I would not feel too safe sharing and recieving educational resources with other teachers around the world. I do not believe it would be very effective as of yet; it will not be ready to use until it is free from bugs.


Brogan, C. (2011, Sept 30). Educators – Google Plus is for you. Retrieved from

Summary: This article discusses the usefulness of Google+, for an educator, as a collaboration tool that can be helpful to the classroom. For instance, the Stream feature allows educators to share lesson plans with the teachers in their Circle. Educators may have discussions, post videos, photos, and links. The Hangout feature allows educators to share and collaborate classroom-related ideas and information. I believe that there is a potential for Google+ to be a useful tool in collaborating lesson plans and classroom ideas and material. I also believe that the Circle feature is a great way to categorize the educators that you want to share and receive material with. However, this article also leaves out the fact that Google+ is not yet complete, and that it does contain many flaws as of yet. We cannot be sure that Google+ will keep all of the information that is shared, secure. Twitter is and has been a great way for educators to share information with each other, while keeping the professional level stable because there is not much that can be said in a character-limited status update box. Google+ may not be the most helpful, because people may be tempted to update a lot of overwhelming, useless information that only takes up too much space of a Stream.

Question: If Google+ was just as secure as the other popular social networking sites, would educators begin to use Google+ as their main source of education-collaboration?

It is difficult to say, because as I said before, Facebook is already a huge social networking website that people are feeling comfortable with, because it offers many things that people want and need in a social networking site. However, Xanga and Myspace were also, at one point, very popular and people have moved on at gradual paces onto the newest social networking site, so I have hope in Google+. Also, Google+ would have many more features to offer than Facebook once safe, so it would be a great tool for collaborating with other educators. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Journal #4 "It's in the Bag"

Basham, J. D., Perry, E., & Meyer, H. (2011). It's in the bag. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(2), 24-27. Retrieved from


This article introduces digital backpacks, and its potential usefulness for the teaching and learning experience for the digital age students. This backpack literally is a knapsack containing digital gadgets, such as a laptop, to research information, gather data, and create media. It also may include digital camcorders, iPod touches, and more, which may include already set applications to help the learner. This digital backpack allows the learner to understand, express their understanding, and promotes the interest of the learner. This article talks about testing the results of using digital backpacks that are available for multiple age groups, and found that the digital backpacks are helpful because it supports multiple means of representing instructional material. The authors conclude the article with instructions on how to build your own digital backpack.

Question 1: Would you implement a digital backpack in your 3rd grade class?
I would try to use this as much as possible because these students are very tech savvy, and allowing them to use the various forms of digital media to learn can be very hands-on, visually stimulating, and they also get to work as groups to figure out how to gather their information using which method, and they would be able to present their findings to their classmates. Like the research of digital backpacks used at the zoo field trip, it could be great for a number of different lessons as well.

Question 2: What could be some challenges of implementing the digital backpack in your 3rd grade class?
Not all students have access to a lot of technological devices. Their technological levels vary depending on multiple factors, and trying to teach some kids how to use a device while the other kids are anxious because they are growing impatient and bored of the instructions on how to use something they already know how to use. However, this could also be a good thing, because the students who do know how to use it, can learn to teach their classmates that don’t know how to use it, and that can be an interactive thing as well – learning to present their knowledge in a clear manner. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Journal #3 Students Dig Up Dirt to Learn About Internet Safety

Morehouse, J. (2011). Students dig up dirt to learn about internet safety. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(2), 34-35. Retrieved from


This article addresses the issue of online security. The teacher conducts an Internet activity in which the students research the Internet to collect information about their teacher. The students are then asked to draw conclusions based off of the collected information. Some were true; some were false. The teacher, then, had students browse through the Internet for information on a complete stranger, given a number of basic background bio of the stranger. The students then put together a presentation on their stranger, and came up with conclusions about the person they were researching on. This successfully made students truly concerned about their privacy and security on the Internet. The students were given the opportunity to change their Facebook privacy settings, as to limit the amount of information they give out. All of the students make changes.

This is a great way to personalize the importance of not feeling invincible just because you are sitting behind a computer screen. The things you post on your social networking sites can and most likely will turn up again in the future, and you would not want to post anything you will end up regretting in the future.

Question 1: Would you implement this activity in your classroom?
I would definitely implement this in my classroom. One of the best ways to learn is to actually go through it in real life. If my students are able to personally see that it is very easy to obtain and misinterpret information on a person, even negatively, they will probably be concerned about their online reputation and security, and will be more likely to take the content of theirpostings on social networking sites, more seriously.

Question 2: What consequences could occur from this activity?
Some students may use these researching tools to try to gain as much access possible on a person of interest. This would be a violation on the other person's privacy, and would be the complete opposite of what the purpose of the lesson is striving to achieve.