Digital Nation

When I was in undergrad at JMU, I took this class in the ISAT department (Integrated Science and Technology) called Problem Solving Approaches in Science and Technology. During this class, we had to watch this video. I loved it. I later became a teaching assistant for this class for the next 7 semesters and watched the video about 3 or 4 more times. (Didn’t love it as much towards the 4th time, but still thought it had a lot to teach students). Every year, students were astonished by the facts and other things presented in this video.  I loved leading the discussion the class after they had to watch it, because they are all amazed by the video.

I love this video, it puts the “digital nation” in perspective and really shows you what is going on alllll over the world with it. Second life is my favorite part because it’s amazing how much you can change your appearance and your whole self really, online. You don’t have to be anything like you are in real life, not your looks, not your smarts, not your interests. You can remake yourself and be anything you want to be online. I think that students do know this now, more than they did before because of that show “catfish.” However, I don’t know if they know the extent of how much you can really change yourself.  I think they know about Facebook, but your other online presence can be changed too. The second life really puts it into perspective on how much business can happen online. They were showing actual meetings that people were bringing their “avatars” into and using for the meetings. I think that it’s a really valuable tool to the business world. It cuts down on the travel expenses, and allows for meetings to be impromptu, and scheduled more frequently. However, it also takes away from the face to face aspect and the personal interaction you get from meeting people face to face.  Also, you can be interacting with someone that you think is a tall, skinny, brunette in their mid-20s, but really it’s an old, short, fat redhead (nothing against old, short fat redheads!) trying to get you to do business with them by making them look more presentable on the online world.

Another thing I liked about Digital Nation was the research about multitaskers. I think that a lot of people in our generation are constantly bragging about the millions of different things that they are doing at once. It used to be a great skill if you could multitask and do more than one thing at a time and be good at it. However, now there is tons of research saying that multitasking is not good, and that you actually get less work done if you are trying to  focus on too many things at once.  I think that it’s now “cool” to be chronically busy with no free time ever. A lot of people are constantly talking about how “stressed” they are and how they have soooo much to do always, but do they really? Or are they trying to multitask and not using their time at work efficiently? I think that this happens a lot where kids and students don’t really know what it means to be truly stressed out. Students constantly have numerous tabs open on their computers while trying to do work (surprisingly, all my tabs right now are educational!) and are switching back from Facebook to writing papers. I think this makes it harder to do the actual work because your brain is constantly trying to switch back and forth from task to task. I could definitely see how focusing on one thing from start to finish could help you finish that task.

All in all, this documentary was really fascinating and I really enjoyed watching it the many times that I did. I would highly recommend it to everyone because it really shows you the research and facts behind what it means to be a “digital nation.”


Mobile Learning Explained Visually


I read the article “Mobile Learning Explained Visually” and in it there was a quote that really struck me. It was “many teens are more likely to be digital naives than digital natives.” This is so true, many teenagers know how to use the different social media apps and think they know everything about where to find things on the web and what app to use for what. However, when students are asked to do scholarly searches or use apps for educational uses, they don’t know nearly as much about the apps as they think they do or as they know about other social apps.

This article states how many students and teenagers are “plugged in” and using mobile devices and the internet. It says that students from the age of 6 watch around 6 hours of TV a day, and play 3 hours of video games a day. When I was younger, this was not at all true. I don’t even think my brothers watch this much TV or play video games now. Since this is an average, there are tons of kids who watch MORE than 6 hours of TV a day and play MORE than 3 hours of video games a day. That is a lot. How are they finding enough time in the day to do this? What kind of family time are they getting? Do these kids read books anymore? Do they know what books are? Or does reading a book on a Nook or Kindle count as “Video games” or “Screen time”?

One staggering statistic that I saw was that 93% of students from age 12-29 are online. This is so much! While I’m glad that there is opportunity for this many students 12-29 to have access to online resources, students need to be taught how to correctly use the information they are finding. Students should have more training in how to use technology for educational purposes, more than just how to correctly “Google” things. There are always new websites, apps and programs coming out that can help students to broaden their knowledge, however, the majority of students don’t ever look for any information other than through Google or another search engine (including Wikipedia.. which is so unreliable).  Teachers need to use this technology to their advantage, change their way of teaching (much harder than it sounds, I understand that) and use technology to make it easier to reach and teach students the material they need to know for the real world. While teaching the material, teachers can be teaching valuable lessons about what sources on the internet are reliable, how to make a good search on a search engine and what to look for on websites to make sure that they are credible. These lessons can be interwoven into the lessons that teachers are already teaching to help these students succeed in college and even eventually in the real world.

I really enjoy the graphic that came with the article. It did a great job of explaining the important information and making it fun to look at, all at the same time. It also offers a few apps that are helpful to teachers such as “Evernote” and “Math Drills,” where you can practice your math skills. The “evolution of classroom technology” section also was really interesting. I enjoyed that the blackboard was used first in 1890 and the projector was used first in the classroom in 1930.  Both of these “technologies” have their usefulness to them, but there is so much more that can be done with these when technology is added. The “interactive whiteboards” like SMARTboards are basically chalkboards with a little extra “oomph” put in to make it relevant to student’s lives today. Overall, technology has definitely evolved, but it’s been a lot of the same types of things, with all the elements of using the technology becoming easier and easier to use for educational purposes.


My First Attempt at a Flipped Classroom



So I attempted to flip a lesson to use in a math classroom. This was really hard. I used Educreations and this final piece was my SIXTH attempt to do it. Every time I would mess up, you had to start allllll over from the beginning. I was very annoyed with the app (and myself) by the end of this, and will probably be trying to find another tool to use if I ever attempt this again. Overall, Educreations is a great tool if you’re just going over homework and want to record yourself doing short things because if you mess up, it’s only 2 or 3 minutes. However, trying to do a whole lesson that runs around 10 minutes for a high school math class, gets to be real fun when you have to start over in the 8th minute 3 times. However, I am pleased with the way my final “cut” came together and I think that it will get easier as I practice this more. To see my flipped lesson final product click the picture below.


For this lesson, I would have students watch the video one time all the way through, not worrying about taking notes or pausing the video. They can go back if they don’t understand anything, but I want them to not have to worry about taking everything in the very first time they watch it. Then, after watching it one time through, I will have students go through the video again and complete the notes page that I have made up for them. This notes page will be a completion homework grade, so that I know that students watched the video before coming to class. The notes page will have video times for each question, so students know where to go back to the video to get help with the particular problem. This is also beneficial for students to refer back to when doing practice problems, they can also know where to look for help in the original video in the off chance they do not understand the notes they took on the notes page. To see the notes page, click here.

My Most Influential Tweets (thus far..)

This was really hard to try and pick my most influential tweets thus far.. I was retweeted by National Science Foundation.. So that’s cool and influential right?

This tweet was influential because I was retweeted by 3 others and favorited by 6 people who agreed with what I had to say. I think it was influential because I was mentioned by the National Science Foundation and my ideas were spread throughout all 480,000 of their followers to see. I think that it was a great conversation that NSF was having about how to encourage students to become the next generation of “makers” and not only be passive learners. It is super important to watch these discussions, if not to participate, then to get ideas from other individuals that you may not have realized exist on twitter. This was the first time I “participated” in a #chat on Twitter and I think it was really valuable to see what other people have to say on different topics.

I think that this tweet is influential because it helps to educate people about what teachers do on a daily basis. I think that a lot of time people see teachers as glorified baby sitters, which is the complete opposite of what teachers do. Sometimes I’m sure the teachers of younger grades feel like they are glorified babysitters, but they are really molding the young minds of children.  I think it’s important for people to know that while we do get the summers “off,” teachers spend a lot of their summer planning for the next year and getting the materials ready.

This tweet I just really like and think that it is very helpful for other teachers, but I wouldn’t say it’s influential.. I didn’t even make it up!However, I think it’s an awesome tool to have and puts all of the best iPad apps into one picture to look at. They have also labeled each app so that when you are looking at it, you can tell what the name is. I wish that it linked to an article where each app was explained a little more and told what it was used best for.  As a future math teacher, I want to find apps that are going to be useful with my own classroom in addition to other people’s as well.

Are All Students as Tech Savvy as We Make Them Out to Be?

After reading “The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations” from Project Tomorrow, I am intrigued on how many teachers try to use the fact that students are way more tech savvy than their teachers as a way to say why there is a disconnect of technology between teachers and students. I think that with every generation, you are going to get those people who technology comes easy for and those that technology doesn’t, and you have to work hard (just like any other subject) to understand what the heck you’re doing on each of these devices. One thing that did surprise me was that only 22% of students in middle and high school reported watching teacher created videos. Since “flipping the classroom” has become the next big thing, I am surprised that the number is so low and more teachers haven’t tried flipping the classroom.

One thing that this article reported on was the “high school student-initiated use of technology to support schoolwork.” There were 51% of students classified as “Advanced tech users” that said they found videos to help with their homework. This statistic needs to be clarified more, in that are these students actively learning while finding videos to help with homework, or are they finding the answer or formula they can use so they can just copy it down and be done with the homework with minimal effort? Students have increased availability of technology in the classroom because so many students have mobile devices that are internet enabled. This allows students to access the internet and information at anytime of the day they want to.  This can definitely be helpful in the classroom when working on projects, the list of available resources is literally never ending  but this can also be a hindrance during the day when students zone out and would rather check their Facebook newsfeed or text their friends than pay attention to your lesson. Also, this technology can be used for good when learning and developing writing and communication skills. A great way for students to practice communication and writing skills is to have online assignments where they have to converse with other students in a professional way in “non-im” speak. Also, writing essays and school reports can help students to differentiate between when it is appropriate to use slang and when you have to use “professional” words in your school reports and essays.

Students are also using digital tools and resources to enable out of school time learning activities. Social media, digital games (or even combining the two) can help students to become more technologically savvy and also smarter. With Facebook, students are connected to each other and can use this for projects, and group work and also to share news stories or interesting links/articles/videos found online that they otherwise would not share with their peers. Digital games are fun, but at the same time can enhance problem solving skills, vocabulary skills and even helping to make new friends and social interactions with others that have the same interests and play the same games.  Many students even see the benefits that digital games can have, if employed in a school environment. Some students even find these games themselves to improve their learning and learn something new in a fun and interesting way.

This article even brought up the “digital footprint” that every middle/high school student is inevitably creating, whether they know it or not. It surprised me how cogniscent most of the students are about posting things about themselves online. When looking at Facebook, some of the friends I have, I sometimes question what they are thinking with the amount of personal “updates” they post. Things that I would never dream of sharing with 600 of my “closest Facebook friends” and he/she posts multiple updates on it a day. I think students are going to become more aware of what they are posting, as more and more of their peers get into trouble or lose a job over what they posted on Facebook.

One thing I found interesting was that over half of students want to be able to use their own mobile device in school to aid their learning. I find this interesting because I wonder how many of them are thinking of all the texts/tweets/updates they could post if they were able to use their phone in school or if they genuinely want to use it for education purposes. I guess the only way to find out is to try and see it in action in the schools. I was surprised to see that only about half of all school principals/teachers/students thought it would be beneficial to have any sort of digital device in the classroom for every student.

Overall, I think that I will take this article and use it in my own classroom. I will remember to try and integrate technology into the lesson and even give the students the opportunity to use their own devices in the classroom, but sparingly at first so I know that they are using the technology for educational purposes and not using the time to sneak a text to their neighbor or update their status.

Flipping the Classroom

I just recently listened to a podcast from the series “The Flip Side with Jon Bergmann” called “Why Flipping the Classroom Makes it More Enjoyable For You and Your Students” with Dominique Geocaris.  Dominque discusses using the flipped classroom with advanced learners because they are more invested in their learning and can learn better on their own. This gives the students the opportunity to ask questions and do practice problems (which are sometimes the hardest part) in class instead of on their own at home without the help of their peers or their teachers.  This also works really well for teachers because they only have to flip the classroom once and then they can use those videos for as long as they want, and the students can re-watch the lectures as many times as they want if they have questions at home.

I think that flipping a classroom is a good idea, but I don’t know how I feel about flipping the classroom for every lesson. My brother’s calculus teacher flipped the classroom for his class and he HATED it. He said that she just sat at her desk all day and didn’t help them with anything, instead referred the students with questions back to the original video she had assigned for homework.  While I recognize that not every flipped classroom will end up like that, I feel that flipped classrooms do have a tendency to attract laid back teachers who want to skate by with a minimum amount of work. All they have to do is film themselves teaching one time and then forever after that they can just show the video to the students and have them learn from that. This is why I think the base lesson of a unit should be taught in person, or the harder stuff of the unit that requires the teacher to know that students are comprehending the lesson as they go along instead of letting them learn it on their own. When building on the knowledge that the teacher thinks everyone in the classroom has and is comfortable with, that is the perfect time for using a flipped classroom. It also helps to promote good relationships between peers, if you are letting them work on things together during class to work out problems together.

Overall, I think flipped learning is a great idea (if you use it correctly, as most things are). I would also definitely use podcasts for professional development because I was able to download this podcast and listen to it while on the elliptical, and I didn’t have to go to a conference or a workshop, but I was still able to get the same information as if I did go. I think that if iTunes fixes their Podcasts app (which shut down every time I tried to open it on my phone) there are a lot of great podcasts that I would like to try to listen to while working out or sitting in the office.

Math Class Needs a Makeover.. Or Does It..?

While watching Dan’s TED Talk about math curriculum makeover, he said something that really struck me. He said that one symptom of doing math reasoning wrong in the classroom was that students had an aversion to word problems and they were constantly looking for a formula to apply. This really hit home with me because I worked at Mathnasium for awhile as a tutor, helping students with their math homework and giving them extra problems to do based on the curriculum they were working on.  More often than not, as soon as a student saw a problem that had any sort of words in it as well as numbers, they would freak out, say it was too hard and not even read the whole thing through before giving up. This is what they see:

Math ProblemsStudents get caught up with the words, can’t figure out what they are supposed to be doing and then immediately give up at it. The other thing that Dan Meyer mentioned in his TED talk was about how students are also constantly looking for a formula. I saw this as well at Mathnasium, where students would learn a formula, learn how to apply it in the example problem, then they wouldn’t even bother to read what the other problems were asking, but instead took the numbers and put them into the formula the way they finished the first problem. This is not because they don’t want to learn math but because they are given the simple problems for examples in the textbook, and then when asked to apply that knowledge, they can’t because they have only seen the easy, “plug it in” version of the problem. Dan Meyer equates this to the “22 minute Sitcom problem,” where characters in modern sitcoms are given a problem they can solve in 22 minutes. If you continuously give examples to students that are short “plug it in” problems, they will expect that to be the same for the rest of the problems to follow. Then, when confronted with actual math problems where they have to think harder about things, they get frustrated and give up when the “plug it in” solution doesn’t work or ends up giving the wrong answer.

One thing that Dan Meyer said in his talk was that we only give students the problems and expect them to answer it, we don’t involve them in the actual problem-making process. This is extremely important to let students find their own problems and then solve them. The exploration part of math is so much more important than teachers are letting on and teaching in schools today (now this could probably be traced back to the need to teach to the test, and have students perform well on standardized tests, which is another whole topic in and of itself).  Students need to feel in control of what they are learning and be interested in the problems that they are solving in math.  There are so many people that have this big aversion or fear to math, but why? Because they were taught to memorize formulas and apply the numbers in the formulas, but then sometimes this didn’t work, so then it becomes frustrating. The more involved we let students become in their learning, I think that they will feel more invested in learning. They will want to solve the problems, because it’s problems they came up with or are interested about, not just problems out of a textbook or off the internet, where the answers are easily “google-able” (is that a real word?).  This could work in any subject, not just math. I think students will become more excited about learning and want to be invested.

The thing I liked the most about Dan Meyer’s talk was when he took the problem from the textbook and made it his own. He got rid of walking students through the problem (most of them expect this, along with the formula) and also put a real life picture and video into the problem to get students interested in finding out the answer to the problem. He gets all students involved, allows students to guess the answer to the problem from watching the movie, and he also lets them watch the whole movie to get the right answer after figuring it out. Students get to build the problem on their own and come up with the steps needed to solve it on their own. Bringing in the multimedia aspect of the problem also brings in the students who think math is all about numbers and is boring. They can see the real life application of the problem and will want to know the final answer/outcome!

I want to incorporate this into my classroom. Having a multimedia math classroom that applies problems to the real world and draws students in to understand why math is important to our lives and that math can be interesting. I want to be a teacher not because I want students to LOVE math the way I do, but because I want them to stop being afraid of it, and know they can conquer any problem that gets thrown their way if they just stop and think about alllll the previous knowledge they have and apply it to the current problem.