Teachers Pay Teachers

Hello, all! I would love to introduce an awesome resource for school teachers called www.teacherpayteachers.com. I was first introduced to this website in an education course as a college sophomore a few years ago. Let me just say–it’s INCREDIBLE! Teachers Pay Teachers has been around since 2006 and has been saving the lives of teachers everyday. The idea is straight forward: teachers upload work that other teachers can buy. When it comes to their craft, teachers trust each other most. Do you need to create a 1st grade unit on ocean animals but lack creativity or just simply have no idea where to start? You are in luck! The average cost for an item on Teachers Pay Teachers is just $3.50, with entire unit plans usually costing less than $10. Ten dollars?! Yes!

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The website is interactive and you are able to contact every teacher/user who shares materials. You can easily find what you are looking for because everything is broken down into grade category, then further broken down by subject matter. Looking for a 3rd grade Common Core reading activity about helping verbs? You are guaranteed to find something that will meet your needs for a small price. My favorite part about Teachers Pay Teachers? So many items are available for free! All you have to do is create an account and get downloading. On Teachers Pay Teachers, a guide that explains how to accommodate a classroom for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder goes for $2.50. A packet on how to teach parents about guided reading sells for $3.50. Not surprisingly, Common Core workbooks and ready-to-use lesson plans are consistently strong sellers.

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One last note worth mentioning: Aside from buying pre-made materials, teachers can make requests for other teachers to create specific work for them! All you do is give a description of what you want made, set your price, and sit back and wait for all of the offers to roll in! Take a look below.Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.14.03 PM.png

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Child Hunger

The video I chose to look into further is a student made PSA about child hunger in Africa. The creator of the video chose to use emtional images of small starving children, facts and statstics of child hunger in Africa, and stories about specific children and families. Becaus the creator focuses in on certain people, it feels like case studies are being done. The video makes the viewer feel somewhat attached to the stories and the children hunger affects. Although this remix video touches on logos and ethos, it reaches the emotional side the most. Instead of narrative leading this video, the creator decided to use music with appropriate lyrics (Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World”.)

#HashtaggingAllDayEveryday

Hashtags are a thing every living human under the age of about…..30 (?) is highly familiar with. Frustration sets in when trying to explain the purpose of #hashtag to the older generation. My parents who are 55+, for example, are clueless when it comes to hashtagging.

“Why is “#TGIT” on the screen while I’m trying to watch tv? What is #PopeInPhilly supposed to mean? Why can’t they just have a normal title without the pound sign? #YOLO????” -Dad

(Sidenote for my own amusement: There was a bar in Philly that served home brewed “YOPO” beer. You Only Pope Once.)

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It is time to face 2015. Hashtags have become a part of our lives. Being online (Especially social media!) for just five minutes, you are guaranteed to see one of these tags at least twice: #WCW, #TBT, #MCM, #WBW, #selfie. What does all of the nonsense mean??? Simply put, hashtags are a way to quickly click the tag to view other user’s pictures and tweets that are similar to yours. If I were to post a picture with the hashtag, “#OceanCity,” I am sure to see posts from others that focus on Ocean City!

Lindsey Weeston explains in her article, “12 Hashtags That Changed The World In 2014,” that hashtags were used to raise social awareness of trending topics and issues in the news. Weston focused on “#BlackLivesMatter”…a hashtag that took over the scene on Twitter. She explains that hashtags can be so powerful because they bring people together while spreading the word.

A hashtag that has been taking over the Twitterverse these days is “IStandWithPP.” This hashtag promotes supporting Planned Parenthood through all of the negative attention the media is showing them. #IStandWithPP tweeters show support for women’s health issues.

Hashtags can be fun, important, useless, or groundbreaking. While there is no doubt that hashtags can mean nothing, they can be a positive force to promote good! #HaveANiceDay! #ThanksForReading!

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Let’s Talk!

Barton and Hamilton discuss literacy and social practices in depth in their article titled, “Literacy Practices.” The authors explain how mout forms of literacy have always had some type of social connection attached. Weather it be literacy connected to verbal communication, or simply reading for pleasure, there is usually a human connection that occurs. The social response tied to literacy can have drastic differences depending on the discourse communities it reaches. For example: a community living in poverty would have a very different reaction to a news story about…oh I don’t know…free Thanksgiving dinners, than a community living in Beverly Hills would.

Dicpscourse communities are a topic I have studied extensively here at Rowan University, and can be broken down into a definition as simply as, “A community of people who share a common interest and use similar language to communicate…which usually only makes sense among the community.”

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To give a further example of discourse communities: I have studied ballet my entire life, and sometimes write for dance blogs, magazines, or forums. There is very highly specialized vocabulary in the ballet world that only dancers would ever understand. If I used the same vocabulary in my everyday life that I use when speaking amongst fellow dancers, people would look at me like I was insane! All ballet dancers have a deep understanding of other dancer’s lives and can therefore speak freely without worrying about not being understood by outsiders.

This article by Barton and Hamilton was fairly eye opening, but I feel like most people already knew social aspect was tied to literacy. Maybe I’m wrong!

Art’s Importance to Education

Blog Inspired Tweet: @agoscinski

On December 1, 2014, CBS Chicago’s news website posted an article titled “Teacher, CEO Advocates Arts Education In Chicago.” In the article the “Chicago Sun Times,” and Shakila Stewart are quoted defining and defending art teachers. The Chicago Sun Times states, “Arts teachers who were rescued from layoffs aren’t always spread out enough for students from diverse neighborhoods to utilize.” Therefore, there are many students in an educational system lacking an art program. With all of the new applications of art, there are certainly resources available to the students. As a college student studying education, I was able to observe a class in a low-income neighborhood. Though they had an art program, the other surroundings schools that did not. However, the surrounding schools still maintained a computer program, and because of new technologies and art applications the teachers could use the computers to implement an art program. “The internet links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). So could our computers introduce art in a new way?

“My degree in theater and dance led to my desire to invest in the lives of children who had the gift of performance but whose parents just couldn’t afford to put them in a performing arts program,” explains Shakila Grigler Stewart, an art instructor. An art program gives students the ability to discover wha they enjoy, and what they are passionate about. Creativity, Imagination, and Artistic Abilities are not subjects in school. However, they can positively influence a student’s education. Just as student’s are taught to find their favorite books or subjects, they should also find their favorite type of art. Music, drawing, painting, acting, singing, they are interests that derive passion, and isn’t that what we want for our student’s?

“When they come to school they cannot focus on learning if these emotions aren’t let out in a positive way. Theater allows them to do that. Dancing allows them to be heard, and it gives them a way to express themselves in a way that maybe when they’re taking a test it might not.” (Stewart). Academic curriculums are constructed around producing well rounded and developed students. Art programs should also be viewed as an important step to the students educational career. “When they’re reading the scripts they’re learning literacy. It helps them with their comprehension skills and vocabulary words. I believe education and creativity make [students] become inventors for the future.” (Stewart). Can art be used as a new literary technology? “Students’ writing will be published writing, and it will be produced in genres and by processes that depart radically from the traditional ways writing has been practiced and taught.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though art is not the traditional way to teach student’s, it very well could be. With proper introduction and implementation art can become a new technology to education.

The Twitter Teacher or Teaching Twitter

On November 23, a #tfwf14 classmate of mine, @hamilt35, posted an article on twitter. “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” by “The Irish Times.” As I have discussed the importance of “Zite” in my prior blog post “Educational Innovations,” here is another example of it’s asset to education. This article was posted on an Irish news website, on November 22, 2014, and without “Zite,” would have never made it to my computer screen. Zite is not the only application providing a positive academic resource, Twitter is also implemented into classrooms all around the world.
Teachers are learning how to shape their curriculum around new technologies that their students are using. This process helps teachers engage their student’s conscious effort, attention, and participation. Any college student in Rowan Universities’ Introduction to Writing Arts course, #tfwf14 #tfebt, could explain how Twitter can be used as an academic asset and an educational resource. Now, there is evidence world wide of Twitter’s positive influence on a classroom, as well as, the student’s success.
The article “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” explains the process of how Twitter can be utilized in an academic setting. “For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.” His lessons are structured around the established use of Twitter in the classroom. This creates a positive way for students to use their cellphones in class, therefore, combining the educational information of the History class with the common interests of the students. Essentially providing an efficient way for teachers to obtain their student’s effort and dedication.
Porter and DeVoss express the influence of new technology on writing. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Twitter influences student’s writing in the classroom. Instead of writing their notes on paper, the chalk board, or typing them on a computer, Twitter has provided an user friendly interface. The respond rate is almost instantaneous, allowing students to observe their classmates ideas. Twitter remediates word documents, pen and paper, and even the chalk board, because the teacher and students can read and respond to the individual comment, or post. Bolter defines remediation as “homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Twitter and Zite are two new educational applications, that offer an academic resource for students of ages. Implementing student’s interests into a lesson plan can derive enveloped participation and academic success.

Educational Innovations

I was recently introduced to a new educational technology, “Zite.” Zite now has an influence on my research processes. This application is an academic resource for discovering and obtaining new educational information. For me, it has replaced news websites, and television channels. What is Bolter’s ideology of remediation and new technologies? “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Zite offers a user friendly interface, based on educational and personal interests important to the individual. Therefore, Zite essentially eliminates aimless scrolling and wasted time. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more hours in a day?

I probably would have never read this article if it wasn’t for Zite. I did not have to research websites or search engines, I just opened my Zite application on my iPhone and there it was. On November 19, 2014, Keith Sawyer published an article titled, “Ten Educational Innovations To Watch For In The Next Ten Years.”
“Education experts at the Open University (UK) led by Professor Mike Sharples, have identified ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.” (Sawyer). The influence on education is existent, but not defined. According to Porter and DeVoss, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though the technologies educational resources and academic assets are not yet evident, it does not mean that they will never be.

Ten Educational Innovations:

1.) Massive open social learning: social networking

2.) Learning design informed by analytics: “design and analytics work together to support the development of successful learning and teaching.”

3.) Flipped classrooms: Video lectures, allow students to work at their pace, pausing to make notes when necessary.

4.) Burn your own devices: “teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge.”

5.) Learning to learn: Web tools/activities such as reflective journals and concept mapping support learning to learn.

6.) Dynamic assessment: The assessor interacts with students during testing, ways to overcome each person’s current learning difficulties.

7.) Event based learning: “do it yourself science” engineering and crafts projects

8.) Learning through storytelling: Developing a narrative to create a meaningful whole

9.) Threshold concepts: a new way of thinking about a problem, a subject or the world.

10.) Bricolage: a practical process of learning through tinkering with materials. Learning through play.

The Early Bird DOES in fact, get the worm

For years and years I thought I was a night owl.  I loved to stay up and out late, either having fun or working on projects.  More recently I discovered that I am not a night owl, but in fact a morning person.  Even though I was up late, I wasn’t being productive on my projects.  I was working on them well into the evening due to my procrastination.  I began to get up early to complete my projects and felt significantly more ambitions, focused and productive.

Last week I saw this article and tweeted it to share with my fellow #tfwf14 classmates:

My first reponse:  Does Hazma Kahn know me?  Is he watching me?  This is my life!

Kahn’s article “Don’t Waste Your Two Golden Hours of Productivity” him home for me.   I fall into the category that Kahn gives data on, that “80 percent of 18- to 44-year-olds who check their smartphones” as soon as they get up.  My smartphone has replaced my alarm clock, so it is the first thing I touch in the morning.apple-iphone-5-white-all-sides

First I check Facebook, followed by Instagram, then Twitter and finally email.  All before my feet have hit the floor and I have to agree with Kahn that we need to avoid this habit.  He states that “the problem with jumping right into our inboxes and notifications is that it steers your morning off-course”.  I get very distracted and behind in my morning routine when I pick up my phone.  So I decided to give it a try, to leave my phone on the night stand when I got out of bed.

I spent the 90 minutes of my morning feeling as though I was missing something, but I was more focused on the tasks that needed to be completed and able to successfully complete them all.  I found my morning flowing along smoothly without having to rush because I was behind on the time.  I could get used to this!

Now, I wish I could say that I was able to keep this routine and I’ve been tremendously successful in being on time and maintaining my easy-flowing mornings.  If I did, I’d be lying.  What I have done, is limited my time on my phone in the morning.  I check social media and then put the phone down.  Emails are put off until I arrive at work.  I couldn’t quit cold turkey, I’m not a quitter.

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So from now on, if I don’t like what I see, I’ll just go back to bed!

How Important is a Creative Culture?

My fellow blogger Adam Goscinski tweeted a blog entry titled “It’s a creative culture that counts – time schools and teachers created such a learning culture” from the blog Leading and Learning.

This blog brings up an excellent point regarding the curriculum taught in schools in relation to the standardized testing that is now required of children.  “Developing diverse gifts and talents of many students is lost in such procedures and is not helped by the inevitable narrowing of the curriculum by teaching to the standards” according to the blog.  Not only are teachers forced to teach to the test, most times that results in their need to exclude subjects such as art and music, where children are most prone to show their creative side.  However, creativity is not just for the arts, creativity is relevant to any and all subjects when children are able to express themselves.

The blog goes on to state that “it is a creative culture, not obsessive testing and formulaic teaching that is the answer – culture counts”.  Bruce, the author of this blog even includes the lyrics to the popular Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall, “teacher leave that kid alone – we don’t need your mind control”.   Is it really the teachers who are controlling the kids, or are they merely acting on direction from the government?  (I’ll save that argument for another time, another blog post.)

Painted child hands By creating a creative culture, teachers and students alike are able face learning in a way that works best for them, not the general population.  Teachers need the freedom to teach their students the way they are able to learn.  Students need to be able to express their interests and pursue subjects creatively, and not just the subjects that are required for testing.  Both of these ideas will foster a creative learning environment where both students and teachers benefit.

Once we create this culture, a new attitude toward learning will be formed.  The lack of pressure applied to students will allow them to relax and engage in the learning environment rather than feeling rushed to get through massive amounts of material in a short period of time.  Teachers will not feel as though they have been through the wringer at the end of the year from running the marathon of instruction prior to test season.  Call me crazy, but if teachers are happy and students are happy, won’t great things come of it?