Peer Review of Blogs

The first blog that I reviewed was Jessica Keuth’s blog: 1. https://muchadoaboutnothing80.wordpress.com/

Jessica’s blog was very much like mine in its layout, as we both used wordpress.  I like hers better as it feels a bit more condensed and “together” whereas some of my pictures seem to have pasted in a way that’s less appealing. I very much enjoyed reading the variety of titles for each blog post and can’t help but compare them to mine—which were simply the names of the types of posts we were required to do. I am currently thinking about returning to my blog and maybe inserting some creativity into my titles, so thank you Jessica! I was very much so intrigued by all of the pictures and posts she inserted into her blog to enhance what she was writing about. It was really cool to read about a Theater Ed. person’s point of view on education and I especially enjoyed her post about the importance of lighting. It was awesome to me that Jessica had taken a class on lighting and makes me wish that I had ventured out more in my general education classes to learn about something so seldom discussed.

One of the posts I wanted to respond to was her post about the Chicago trip to Pilsen. First off, “Expectation is the root of all heartache”…Amen, Shakespeare. I see this quote played out in my everyday life regularly. I especially see this played out when I give much of myself to somebody—whether my time, my efforts, my affection, etc. and receive no gratitude or reciprocation or a positive response of any kind. Heartache is most definitely something I experience, because I am not a nonrenewable resource! I do run out of smiles; I run low on positive energy and I need some encouragement or give from the other side. Should this make me question my career choice? Because, honestly, I can see myself becoming one of the burned out teachers that Jessica mentioned she interacted with at Pilsen and it’s scary!
We can talk ideologically all day in Tch 219, but when we step into future classrooms will we remain fueled by those ideologies when they don’t save the world like they felt they had the power to do in class?
I guess as I reflect on this stream-of-consciousness response to Jessica’s post, I relate it back to how I felt this morning before I worked out: I did not feel like I wanted to work out and yet I did it because I knew how satisfied I would feel. I took the workout as a challenge to my “it’s too much work” mind set. This is how I will approach teaching. There will definitely be times where I’m ready to say “I’m burnt out,” but by reminding myself that this is good for me and I am capable and this is what I’m meant to do—I’ll keep doing it. I’m sure my students will keep me going much of the time, and for the times that I don’t feel like they do, I’m going to do what I have to do anyways!

The second blog I reviewed was Danielle Saputa’s blog:
2. https://eprofesoradaily.wordpress.com/

Can I just say that Danielle Saputa is amazing? This is not to say that my other Tch 219 classmates are not amazing, because everyone brings something so refreshing and thought-provoking to the table! But I can say whole heartedly that Danielle has educated me throughout my experience in Tch 219 and I am grateful for all of her extremely significant insight that I’ve been exposed to.
Danielle’s blog was made with wordpress as well, and is covered in pictures and videos that make me want to live in her blog for a little while and see what it’s all about. It’s funny that something as simple as color, and the engagement that comes from getting to click “play” is so substantial in grasping somebody’s attention to a blog. I loved how she began the Disciplinary Literacy blog post with the two memes “Wait…what?” and “break it down.” Beginning anything with a smile can transform the duration of your experience with whatever you’re undergoing. This connects back to teaching, BIG TIME, because if I can start a lesson by putting smiles on my student’s faces, maybe the remainder of class will be that much more enjoyable and enhance the amount of feedback I receive from them.
One of the first things I explored on Danielle’s Blog was her Peer review, which she did through screencast-o-matic ( I have no idea if this is how it’s spelled). Immediately I think
“how did she do that?”
“I wonder how long it would take for me to learn how to do that?”
“That would be cool to know how to use”
“I don’t know if I want to learn, ugh”

It’s so interesting to break down your own thought process and see how relevant this process is in many other areas of my life. I recognize the value in learning something new and most of the time I want to learn! However, thinking about the work that learning will entail always seems to dishearten me and make me feel overwhelmed. I wish I had had teachers in High School that made me feel confident in my ability to learn. This further intensifies my yearning to embody a teacher that does just that.

Anyways, I very much enjoyed listening and watching Danielle go through the four blogs she chose through this chosen technology. It made me reevaluate my own blog and fueled me to take some time and explore some technology I could potentially use as a future educator.

The third blog I reviewed was Shoko Onzato’s blog: 
https://timelesstortoise.wordpress.com/

Shoko Onozato…WHAT?! I, Lauren Keating, have just reviewed Shoko’s blog and this is me:

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Shoko…is a technology wizard.

She used linoit.com to create her blog posts, which is like a virtual bulletin board. This board is seemingly never ending and actually quite overwhelming upon first viewing it. I found that it was broken down by these icons at the top of the board and if you click on the icon, it takes you to some centered posts. I also found that I couldn’t play the videos that came up, which was disappointing (that could potentially be a problem with my computer, though). This is what the board looks like as a whole:

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This type of technology is very intriguing to me and makes me want to explore her posts in detail. The reason I wanted to review Shoko’s blog is because everything she said in class was meaningful. I feel like she rarely speaks just to speak, like a lot of people I know. Instead, she thinks before she contributes to discussion and in turn, brings some fascinating insight to the table. There are some people you are excited to hear from, simply because of the way they deliver their words, their demeanor and the overall air about them and Shoko was one of those people to me. The choices she made with her blog coincide with the way she carried herself in class and the ideas she communicated to all of us. I’m excited to try out this new technology on my own and am grateful for the experience with her and her blog!

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Disciplinary Literacy…

Guess what. This was really hard for me to do. As soon as I figured out that Word Press won’t allow me to embed an audio component, I knew I had to create a youtube video. This brings me back down the road of movie maker for windows, which is a simple program for tech savvy fiends, but not me! I then had to figure out how to convert my interview, which was taken as a voice recording on my iphone, to something that would transfer into the movie maker. This involved downloading new software and having to figure out a whole new literacy with no help but all of google…still a hard task. There is most definitely more to the “technology is hard” story, by Lauren Keating, but bottom line, I’m exhausted.
I am also proud. This connects to my interview with Jordan Goebig, because of what she says about the most important block of knowledge that she uses in her occupation as Assistant Director at an educational nonprofit organization called the Illinois Property Assessment Institute.

When I asked Jordan about the types of literacies she uses in her field of work she explains at 13:15  the importance of understanding how government works being a literacy she hadn’t even known she’d have to use! She expands by saying that understanding how government works on paper is important, but also the connotations and denotations of politics are important to conjure. It was interesting, she mentioned having to figure out the people that say one thing and do a completely different thing and figuring out the most effective ways to communicate with people in different counties and townships–because location makes a difference in the ways you communicate. This is so relevant to real world experience, in the ways that we know the “do and don’t” methods of communication with many types of people, but in Jordan’s case, political people were a new brand and therefore required a fresh literacy, in which she continues to grow in.

The next type of literacy she brought up was at 16:20, and it had to do with navigating the professional world, which tied into the last question I asked about what the most important block of knowledge she uses in her occupation. It’s clear that by the end of her spiel I was excited and pumped to bring up what has been talked about over and over in Tch 219.

I want to use her words to begin how she conceptualized “navigating the professional world.” These were some of the things she said:

-You have to learn how to handle yourself so people stop calling you the intern or considering you as the intern
-You’re treated differently when you learn to handle yourself professionally
-You have stand up for yourself; you have to have your own back
-You have to learn how to have the difficult conversations with people

At 18:40, she explains her most important block of knowledge:
-Adults don’t know how to adult
-This connects to professional literacy
-I’ve learned how important it is to have your own tools, or be given tools and do something with them, without someone telling you to–or how!
-The importance of independence
-To survive and thrive and like my job, I need to constantly figure out how to do things; new way to do things with the tools I have in front of me
-I ask myself “How can I make this fun and enjoyable? How can I maximize being in this role and having a lot of tools as assistant director”
-It was important to understand all of this because school tells you what to do constantly: this is what’s due, this is what you should do, this is how you do it, so you get out of school and you’re like “so what do I do now?”

Woah. It was after that blurb that  I promptly freaked out and stumbled over my words out of excitement, because
Yes. This is what we have been learning about:

-Enabling students to think outside of the box; think critically; think independently
-By teaching them this way, we are communicating that we trust in their abilities and we believe they are intelligent and creative enough to NOT have their hands held every second of the learning journey
-Students that leave High School with the confidence to think independently and figure out life by themselves are those that will thrive with new literacies: because figuring ways to understand new concepts is not a new practice

I connected Jordan’s experience with my own and the ways that teaching sticks me in a place where I am forced to be independent. It is always a challenge and it is always something I walk away from feeling fueled by; feeling reassured in my abilities; feeling excited about how I may improve.

-Teaching allows me to be independent, and OWN my experience
-Trying and succeeding in the broad literacy of technology is also something which empowers me!

As I said at the beginning, making this blog post was a challenge, but I did it and I am proud. It seems like such a small thing, but as soon as people bring to the forefront of their consciousness all of the small things they try and succeed at, and allow themselves to feel proud and empowered through them, the sooner we have a population that is not so easily afraid. People who remember their victories, whether small or large, are more likely to embark on the adventure that is life with excitement and confidence.

I want to be a teacher who helps create a population that is not so easily afraid.

(This is a blurb which includes 2 adulting memes)
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My Professional Learning Group on Twitter

I decided to get on Twitter to begin forming my Professional Learning Group. I was excited about doing this because I love the idea of a network of dedicated and progressive educators to access at one location. In order to begin creating this network, I simply googled “Top educational twitter accounts to follow.” The first 3 that came up were “33 Education Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following,” “100+ Education Twitter Accounts to Follow” and “Education World: Fifteen Innovative Twitter Accounts.” Under these options were categories like Administrators, researchers and teachers, Education bloggers, Policymakers, government and education organizations, Thought leaders, Cool schools, etc. I was especially interested in the “Cool schools” category, because seeing the ways that schools are reformatting the classroom to cater to more effective learning make me extremely excited about my future as a teacher: Will I toss giant bean bags onto the floor and say “Take your seats my lovely learners!” surrounded by the colorful and various works of the very students sitting before me? Categories like “Cool schools” give me hope!

After following 26 different accounts that dipped into each of the categories I named above, I went back and would visit my newly formed twitter feed. This was an overwhelming experience at the least. The literacy of educational twitter accounts definitely differs from the literacy of my personal twitter feed and takes some time to learn. As I scrolled through my educational leaders, teachers and bloggers, different links and resources immediately popped out to me: Specifically an article called “3D Printing in Education: An Opportunity to Engage and Inspire Kids in New Ways.” It talked about everything that we discuss in Tch 219, especially relevancy and connecting classroom content to the world outside of High School.

This was one of the coolest things I read in the article: “3D printing can play a central role in allowing abstract concepts to take on tangible forms. A child who struggles with differential equations or Newtonian calculus may find insight by 3D printing a model that generates electricity, demonstrating those principles. Lipton believes this is why engineering is the ‘best way to teach math and science.’”
–Michael Petch

The reason why this was most impactful is because the 3D printer brings relevancy and kinesics into the classroom. It is surely a machine-of-the-future that’s here in our grasp and could play an important role in learning in the classroom. It is resources like this that may transform the school experience for students. As I continue my browsing, I find a plethora of resources that have the potential to do the same thing. I also see posts such as this one:

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And this one:
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It makes me happy that so much progressive “teaching” has more to do with facilitating individual learning and discovery. At the same time, this makes me nervous: my entire upbringing in education was infused with power points and teachers delivering knowledge to me to regurgitate back to them. This is what I know, regardless of all the enlightened teachers that have been guiding me through my college education. I’m nervous about putting this enlightened means of teaching into action: taking the ideologies about students discovering knowledge for themselves, practicing critical thinking, stretching themselves creatively and doing it effectively.

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I know that giving a power point is not a student centered lesson, so what do I do instead to facilitate student learning of the given content? This short article gave me good ideas as to how to morph a power point lesson into a student centered one: They recommended giving students an “essential question” for students to research the answer to—before beginning the lesson on new content. I think this communicates to students that we, as teachers, trust in their abilities to discover and learn for themselves. This is an empowering thing for a student to feel from their teachers. This is a section from the article that particularly resonated with me:

“While some presentations can certainly be fun, usually this is not a highly engaging activity for students. Instead of telling students information, try asking interesting questions that require the students to research, validate the authority of the information and create something with the information.”
-Alice Keeler (http://alicekeeler.com/2015/02/27/giving-a-powerpoint-is-not-a-student-centered-lesson/)

It’s awesome that Keeler mentions validating the authority—which is so important during a resource-rich time such as now. Reminding students that not all sources are valid or credible will be beneficial as they approach the work world, or simply as they research answers to their own questions. Knowing who or what to put their trust in is not frequently talked about.

I’m so happy to have found Alice Keeler through Twitter. She has so many helpful posts that make me feel much less alone in my endeavors to become my ideal teacher-self. I’m thankful for this assignment, because I’m one of those people who have so many good ideas and I want to do productive things that will move me forward and keep me progressing as a person, but I need help! I need pushes and I need self-motivation. Assignments such as these are the pushes I need to start collecting more assurance that I will be okay as a teacher! There are people out there that I don’t even know who want to support me and my endeavors, such as Alice Keeler. This twitter account is something I will look to for guidance as my life as a teacher unfolds and I’m grateful for that.

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Content Area Technology

This is ironic because I’m posting to my blog right now and the content area technology I will be talking about today is a blogging tool! I love blogs particularly because it allows for open expression of all those who participate. In my content area—which involves any kind of language arts or English, having a class blog would positively affect the learning environment in a variety of ways. It keeps everybody’s posts and shares in one condensed place so that students may interact with their classmates and take in different perspectives. This is also an alternative to traditional homework and can include an accepted lower level of formality without risk of not being able to decipher what my students have learned. It opens up the allowed space to exemplify their learning in ways that they see fit as well as through the guides I provide for them.
I discovered this particular tool by looking up on google “classroom technology” and finding this recommended blog site: Edublogs. I have not used this tool previously and so getting acquainted with the technology will definitely take time, but it will be worth it to use as a classroom tool. There are a variety of ways that the blog can be incorporated into a lesson: There are so many times when a class discussion has to abruptly end because of class ending and so a blog could act as a tool to continue discussion. I’m also thinking about the beginnings of new units and how during my experience in High School, the introductions to new knowledge always made me think of something; make some sort of connection. The class blog would be a great place to get feedback from students after the first day of a new unit to see how they connected to this new chunk of information and, or, how they fit it into their individual schemas of understanding. This helps me get better acquainted with my students as people, as well as learners and gives classmates a chance to do the same. It also gives classmates other methods of connecting with the new information in which they had not originally thought of. Probably one of the most effective aspects of class blogging is the exposure for students to their classmates’ differing perspectives. If I make sure to create a space that is open and accepting and semi-informal, students should prefer to reflect and extend upon their learning through this source.

This source, particularly, allows you to have separate classes–and this is what the toolbar looks like on the left of the screen. The dashboard is where you go to edit the blog in any way: adding new pages, adding new posts, inserting media, links, etc. Dashboard is key.

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A lot of the customized looks for the blog are only accessible to “Upgraded Blogs,” which costs $3.33 per month; however, it’s possible to work with what they have and individualize your class-blog. For my faux class blog, I imagined that I would ask my class what they wanted to call themselves (in this case, The Wizards) and then help me to individualize it. This is an example of what one might look like.

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In order to add my students, I simply refer to the Users tab on the left side of the Dashboard and unfolds a menu which includes “Invite Users.” In order to do so, I create an invitation code so that when students log into the blog, they can insert my code and then be free to post!

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The more I maneuver the site, the more I feel capable of using it in my future classroom and will definitely plan on saving my login information so that someday I can utilize this particular blogging tool!

Reflecting on Mathers High School

(I include this picture, because the open and naturally-lit library was my favorite area in the school)    DSC_0035

I was not the most thrilled to visit Mathers High School, as I had recently visited Chicago for another class and observed at an Elementary school in Little Village. The majority of the residents in Little Village are Hispanic and so every student at my school was Hispanic. The experience did not affect me the way my experience at Mathers did, especially because I was observing an Elementary school class as opposed to talking with multiple High School classes. I left Mathers High school with a full heart, in response to the continuing reassurance my school experiences are giving me; I become more and more confident in my feelings that Education is my perfect fit.

Upon first entering the school I was surprised by a girl who was crying and what looked to be a metal detector. No matter how many Chicago public schools I enter, I continue to feel put off by metal detectors at the front of a High school. Regardless, I was happily surprised by the looks of the library with its wide windows shedding natural light, and an enthusiastic Librarian. She told us about the crowding problem their school has recently been tending to by holding classes in the computer lab as opposed to a regular classroom. As we were walked through the school, I saw police officers at multiple corners and teachers consistently reminding students of how much time they had before the bell rang. There was a feel of warmth and genuine care through every teacher or faculty member I found myself in contact with; the feeling that every adult was on the same page in truly loving these students and pushing them to achieve their best selves.

The first class I observed was a homeroom class that was unfolding upon the auditorium stage. Students were sprawled across the stage, laying on their stomachs, braiding hair, watching Youtube videos, several different cultures playing out in each corner of the stage: The example of what every High school homeroom should look like, in my opinion. My High school was comprised of mostly white people, a sliver of Asian students, a sliver of African American students and even fewer Hispanics. This stage was completely diversified and brought me lots of joy to see so many different types of people interacting together. Once the homeroom was called to order by a quirky, loud, drama teacher, the students immediately quieted down. The respect they had for their teacher was very evident as their activities were instantly put away and their eyes met hers. Sample Vespa forms were handed out to students to complete in small groups while the teacher guided them through the sheet, answering any questions that arose. I was very surprised they were learning about grants and loans and money! I’m sure these High school students know more than I do about the subject, and I felt more so encouraged to include a life-skills segment into my future classroom, or at least bring focus to learned knowledge that may be applied to all aspects of life—inside and outside of the classroom. That seemed to be the goal throughout my experience talking with the students and hearing their questions, focus was on the future; making realities out of highly placed goals. In my experience, High school felt like it was going to last forever and there were few reminders of the inevitable dive-into-the-real-world that would have to be taken. These students will never experience the shock that I did towards the end of Senior year, they know what’s coming.

What I will take from this particular experience is the reassured belief that I belong in a diverse High school; submerged within a variety of cultures so I may learn and gain new perspective. I will keep the overall focus upon my student’s futures, and encourage and guide them to be working towards one that they may be successful in. I will do this through constant reminders of their infinite potential and keeping perpetual positivity in the classroom. I will remember the enthusiasm the homeroom teacher brought to her students, even in tasks such as filling out a Vespa form! I will remember the curiosity students brought to the classes that Christina, John and I spoke to, and remain clear and articulate in my future classroom, as well as open and willing. The fact the students we saw at Mathers were of a more diverse nature doesn’t change the facts that they are kids, they are curious and they have ambitions, as does any High school student, and that treating them like a person, with respect, care and empathy is of utmost importance.