Thursday, December 13, 2012

Movie Review: A Single Man

This film is very different from any other I have viewed. It really opened my eyes to the lifestyles and choices made by others. This film definitely tugged at me emotionally. The grief that George feels for his partner is raw and real, and the Colin Firth does a great job displaying George's pain to the audiencee. I think this film has a great message within it. When people just "let go" of their pain and suffering and accept what has happened they are then are able to be "freed" so to say - and George was indeed freed at the end of this film.

Image source: My First Little Place

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reflection Post

I have learned much since August! I now have a great understanding of visuals and why they are important in our world. However, I have learned more than just what visuals are. I have learned that body language is a huge piece of being visually literate. Being able to "read" a person is very important in this day-in-age. I have also learned that it is important to teach younger generations visual literacy and the meaning behind them. Overall, I enjoyed this course very much! It has impacted in ways that words can express and I now have a better view of the world.

Image from personal collection

Friday, December 7, 2012

Society's Influences

I went shopping at a local mall recently and I all of the sudden I was overcome by emotions. I was inside Victoria's Secret and I felt really strange while shopping in this store. I have been in this store many times and I had no problem until the other day. As I looked around the store I saw many photographs of beautiful and flawless women. As I studied these images I began to think about what those pictures were telling me and all the other women who shop there. Are we supposed to look like these women in the photos? If I don't look like this can I still purchase the items available in the store? Of course I have the right to purchase anything I would like inside this store, but I really began to think about the power of these images. I soon realized that I was thinking way too hard about shopping for clothing and I left the store. In my opinion, it is amazing how much images can influence our daily decisions.

Image from: fotocommunity

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spinning The Truth

Recently, I went and saw the film "The Master." This was a great film, in my opinion. Some say it has to do with the religion of Scientology, but I took it with a gain of salt and from what I gathered from it was a film about spinning the truth. This film resembled another film that I just watched from Visual Literacy - "Wag the Dog." Each film's plot was to spin around ideas that will make large groups of people believe the unbelievable. Overall, these two films can not be compared to one another because of their motives, but to break it down into simple terms the main characters in each film was just pulling garbage from their minds and spinning it into a great idea or event. I encourage everyone to watch these films and compare the actions of the main characters.

Image Source
Image Source

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wag The Dog

This film is indeed a dark comedy. In my opinion the main message of this film is that "spinning" stories and lying continuously will only get the best of you and more than likely you will get caught. In the movie there were several instances where the three main characters were trying to get a new idea to the media and something would go wrong with it and they would have to alter it to make it believable to the American citizens. For example, the scene with "Old Shoe" at the gas station. The "American hero" who was returning home from being help captive ends up being shot by the small business owner. This example leads the main characters to change the story and to come up with something even better for the media to share with the nation. 

If any group of individuals were to be offended by this film I think it would be those who are associated with the government. I think this select group of people would be offended because they could argue that not all government officials are guilty of spinning the truth or lying to cover up their mistakes. 

Visually, this film is great. Each "act," as the producer would refer to in the film, is done in some sort of visual fashion for the American people to see. For example, the young girl, Tracy, is running away from bombs while trying to save herself and her kitten. 

Overall, I enjoyed this film. It was different from any other film I have watched. It sort of opened my eyes to how people go to desperate lengths to cover their mistakes, even if their mistakes are not true.  

Image Credit: New Line/  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Visuals in Education

I am currently enrolled in a course named Algebraic Thinking for Elementary Teachers, and in this past unit we have been studying qualitative graphs. Visual representations in any mathematics class is a great aid for students. Visuals allow students to create connections with numbers in the context of the unit. Qualitative graphs are graphs that do not show much numeral information and the person reading the graph has to work off of the information within the graph - the lines.
For example, the graph below could be a case of a child swinging on a swing. The only information we know is that the y-axis is the distance from the ground and that the x-axis is the time elapsed. By using the curves of the lines, students can be confident that this graph does indeed show the case of a child on a swing. As time progresses the distance increases, however, the distance on the way back down stays constant (due to the fixed height of the swing). As we can see from this specific example, visuals are important in all areas of life and education. Using visuals can help problem solve and make connections to other critical details.

Image from Personal Collection

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Creative Thinking In Children

Creative thinking in children is amazing! They captivate their own version of the world and express it in ways almost unimaginable to adults. I have two cousins who are four years old and only months apart. My cousin's daughter, Cori Jane, and my husband's cousin's daughter, Isabelle. These two girls are extraordinary - maybe that is a bit bias considering they are family - but in any event it is true! These two girls love to play pretend and have such creative minds.

Cori loves to play "house." She will serve meals to her guests, do her clean up chores, and be a loving momma to her baby dolls. Izzy loves to play with electronics, particually, cell phones. She will play with her mom's phone (that is shut off and I'm surprised she has not figured out how to turn it back on!) and play pretend on it. She will call important people in her life and play make-believe games. In my opinion, this is a great sense of creative thinking. For young children to build up a world of there own from their own real-life experiences.  

Image from Personal Collection

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crash - Movie Review

In the film Crash there is a strong message. My interpretation of the film's message is that of that of good morals - the golden rule. If all people treated each other the way they would want to be treated crime and violence would cease to exist, thus making this world more peaceful. A perfect example from the film to support my message is at the end when Peter is shot only because the police officer giving him a ride thought that he was pulling out a gun, when in fact he was only going to show the cop the religious symbol of St. Christopher that they both had. Peter and the cop where of different races but had similar views on religion. However, before Peter and the officer both thought that they were very different and strange.

In my opinion, I believe that this film has situational depictions of minorities in Los Angeles and around the world. Not all races are going to act violently toward others all the time. Depending on the background of the people - where they grew up, their household values - all play a major role whether a person is violent or hateful of others.

Some of the viewers who are of the minorities portrayed in this film may be offended by its depiction of their race. Like stated before, not all are violent or rude to others of different races.

Visually, this film offered a lot. Body language was a certain thing I was looking out for in this movie. It is amazing how nonverbal language can tell a lot about what is happening and how others feel about it.

Overall, this movie was a good film. It highlighted the issues that many cities face with racism and culture. The main message (like stated before) is to treat others the way you would want to be treated. If everyone thought this way the world would be much safer and happier place to live.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Can eyes "speak?"

I woke up this morning tightly tucked in my blankets and hoodie sweatshirt. The only part of my body that was showing were my eyes. My husband and I were talking in bed as we always do before starting our day. I was speaking very passionately about a TV show I had watched the night before - but my mouth was hidden by the blankets. My husband pointed out after our discussion that even though he could not see my mouth and lips move he could "read" my eyes and he was able to know the severity of the topic I was talking about. In addition, my voice tone was also a key factor in how he could determine if I was joking around or being serious. This is just another one of those "Aha" moments with body language.

Image from personal collection

Thank You For Smoking - Movie Review

This film is very different in terms of the message being conveyed. Thank You For Smoking is about a man, Nick, who works for a big tobacco company who is pushing for people to use cigarettes. Which is completely not what I am accustomed to - I always hear of why people should not smoke and the negative effects connected to smoking. However, this film is more than just about a man pushing for people to buy cigarettes. The main message I picked out of the film is that people should work hard in anything they do, whether they believe in it or not, and that people should be confident in their abilities and talents. One example from the film I feel relates to this message is the scene in the first third of the film when Nick's son, Joey, is sitting at home trying to write an essay for school. He asks his dad a few questions and Nick responses by saying that if you argue correctly you will be "right" in the end. 

The only real situations that this film has with minorities or other races is that when the tobacco company employees speak of their "main customers" - the Koreans and Russians. In my opinion, this is strictly situational because this is just the employees perception of who does and does not smoke regularly in those particular groups of people.  

Some people who may be offended by this film might be those who have a smoking addition and those who have disease-related illnesses due to smoking and/or second-hand smoke. I think these two classes of people might feel offended because they might feel that they are "suckers" for these big tobacco companies since they are contributing by willingly giving their money to these rich people. In addition, people who have cancer or other illnesses due to cigarettes might feel that they are being made fun of or they may think that tobacco companies do not care about their well-being.  

The director used a lot of stop-and-go frames in this film. When something needed to be stressed in the film the picture would stop and the narrator (Nick) would speak the information.  

Overall, this film added much to my viewing experience. I think that it gave a great depiction of how to look at different view points of issues in the world.  

Flickr Image: Amagill

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Facebook, Twitter, and Other Symbols

There are many symbols in our world. For example, Facebook has their own logo symbol and it can be found on products and TV advertisements. This little symbol has a lot of power associated with it. Just at a glance a person can recognize what it is and the meaning behind it. In my opinion, this is an extraordinary gift that such symbols have. Just a few days ago, I saw a TV commercial for a common household product and at the end of it was a small Facebook symbols. Just by looking at that symbol I could tell that there was a page devoted to that company and/or product. Go out and look around for symbols you are familiar with and see where they appear at in our world.

Image from personal collection

Do Children Today Think Creatively?

When we all were young children we played make-believe, played outside until the street lights came on, and used crayons and water colors to make creative pieces of art. Today, students are beginning to lose out on valuable creative time. Schools are now trying to focus on math and science at early ages and the creative content areas such as art are being pushed out of the curricula. I wonder how this will impact our children as we progress into the future. Will students no longer have the opportunity to free-write or free-draw? Will students be forced to conform to schools' wishes to be great mathematicians and scientists? These questions come to my mind when thinking about children today and their sense of creativity. I am worried that future generations will not have the same creative opportunities I once had. This, I'm sure, will have a lasting and permanent impact on the children we raise and the people they will become in the future.

Flickr image by 5of7

Killing Us Softly

Recently I viewed the film, Killing Us Softly. This documentary was an eye opening experience for me. I have not given too much thought of gender stereotyping in our society. I guess I just always viewed it as "how things are" and "that is just how women and men are supposed to be portrayed." However, I was very wrong. When watching all of the examples in this film given by Jean Kilbourne I was overwhelmed with emotions that I did not know I had in regards to gender stereotyping. I was almost sickened by the images I saw. Women in pictures of advertisements nearly naked and men drooling likes dogs when women are pictured in this way. I asked myself, "is this really how society is?" When I sat and thought about this I came to the conclusion that sadly it is how society has made our bodies be a part of campaigns and advertisements for products. Some agencies are making great strides to reverse negative advertisements, but there is much work to be done to eliminate this atrocious act of society. If you have not seen this piece of work done by Jean Kilbourne I encourage you to take the time to do so. It will leave a lasting impression on you and will make you think twice about some of the advertisements in our world.

                          Evolution of Beauty - Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
                                                      Uploaded by  

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Road To The White House...

The vice presidential debate on very entertaining in my opinion. Each candidate had his own way of responding accordingly to the other person's question. Joe Biden for example was constantly smirking and laughing at the position is opponent would take on an issue. At first, I found this is be funny, however, towards the end of the debate I started to become a bit annoyed at his facials. Paul Ryan on the other hand, was humorous in his way of taking a gulp of water every other second. This, too, was funny in the beginning, but soon was a distraction by the end of the segment. I noticed these gestures and they gave each candidate their own personality of the way they handle debates. Their body language was not subtle, especially that from Vice President Biden. His hands and arms were thrown up into the air multiple times throughout the evening. Overall, I think each candidate did well with the debate. I am looking forward to viewing more in the future.

Flickr image from superstardolls

Monday, October 8, 2012

First Election Debate - October 2012

As I watched the first debate of the election season I saw many verbal and nonverbal cues from each of the candidates. I found that their facial expressions said a lot of what they were trying to convey to one another. I sometimes found it to be humorous when smirks and eyebrows were raised in opposition to the other person's comment. They each held their own posture very well behind the podium they were standing at. They each had a professional stance and strong voices. Governor Romney constantly gave direct eye contact to the president when voicing his opinions on hot topics. The president was also very influential with this hand gestures when he was discussing issues that mattered most to him. I really notice the paralinguistic characteristics of each of the candidates. Voice tones were heighten or lowered depending on the severity of the issue being discussed. Overall, the two men debated well. Each took a stance on the issues they felt needed changed or restructured. I am looking forward to the future debates leading up to election day.

Flickr image by micheal_h_reed

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Movie Reflection

Recently I watched the film called American History X. This movie is captivating on many levels, yet is sometimes hard to watch. I feel that Tom Kaye, the director, is trying to shed light on the moral conflicts within ourselves. In the film, Derek becomes a neo-Nazi who in turn finds life outside of hatred towards others of different races. Derek's younger brother, Danny, starts to follow the same path. So Derek has a conflict within himself. He wants to embrace his neo-Nazi endeavors, but also wants to lead Danny away from it.  

This film is full of violence and racism, particularly racism against African Americans. I would say that this judgment is strictly situational. I say this because not all African Americans will act negatively toward people.

Tom Kaye's professional background may have impacted how this film was directed. He is a painter and photographer, so I feel that his visual eye had a huge influence on the nature of the film. The visual means Tom Kaye used in this film were black and white cinematography to represent past events and standard color cinematography to represent the present.  

Since this film is based around racism, I believe that African Americans and other minorities may find it offensive. People of this race may feel that their race is being stereotyped as a whole. In addition, misinterpretations may arise as well from neo-Nazi organizations.

In closing, this film was very emotional and thought provoking. The violence coupled with the acting made for an intense viewing experience.

Image from personal collection

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do Graphics Help You As A Learner?

Image from Personal Collection

I am a visual learner, so I really enjoy using graphics in my everyday life to help me process information. Using graphics is a quick and simple way to gain knowledge about a certain topic. Graphics and symbols can be used together, but in essence they are two separate things. Graphics represent a process with a natural order and flow to the visual. In the image above shows a bar chart showcasing the number of 3rd graders and the rate of completing a mathematical operation. Just by taking a quick glance at this bar chat any person could see that subtraction is the fastest mathematical operation that most 3rd graders can do. The graphic is using thick, bold bars to show the audience/viewer the correct information. 

Image from Personal Collection

 "Family trees" are another great example of how flow can affect viewers. The image above is of my father's side of the family - starting at the top with my grandparents. The audience can read this flow chart from top to bottom and it has a gentle sequence about it. If I just told someone verbally about my father's side of the family and who was in it, that person would probably not retain much information I just said to them. However, if I was to show them this "family tree" chart, then he/she would surely have a much better grasp on my family members. This is the beauty of graphics and the power of visual learning. I found a fact about visual learning - it is: the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. In my opinion, this is astonishing, and I truly believe that this is an accurate depiction of visual learning and graphics.

To close, I want to share this quote stated by Martin Scorsese. He stated, "If one wants to reach younger people at an earlier age to shape their minds in a critical way, you really need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed visually."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Way Symbols Are Used

Image from Personal Collection

What exactly are symbols? Where can they be found?
In a simple explanation, symbols are concrete expressions used for representations. Most symbols are universal and are easily understood to most populations of people. For example, above is an image of with the first three letters of the English Alphabet - "A," "B," and "C." At basic form these letters are symbols that hold meaning. This system of writing was created to convey information through symbols (or text characters). Humans placed meaning within these symbols and when these symbols are placed together words are formed. Now I know most people understand that words are formed by putting characters together, but to me it is really fascinating to think about the basic form of these symbols. An "A" is just a symbols, but since we all were young children we have learned the meaning of "A" and how to use it in words and to speak with it. The characters of the English Alphabet is just one example of how symbols can be found and used in our daily lives.  

Image from Personal Collection
Numbers hold the same representation as letters. "One" can be represented as "1" or with one counting cube as shown in the visual example above. "1" is just the symbolic representation of the physical counting objects. As a pre-service mathematics educator I hope to teach my students the true value of the numeric symbols. By doing this, hopefully students will develop a deeper understanding of our numeric system.

Image from Personal Collection
Without even reading the words on this image we know what this object is for. Symbols are universal. Most people can look at a symbols or image and know exactly what it stands for. For instance, in this image above is a recycling can. It has the green arrows logo stamped on the outside of the can and everyone at a glance knows that is what that can is designated for. In my opinion, I think this is an amazing concept. By "reading" the symbolic logo we understand the use for the container. There are countless other examples I could show, but I challenge you to look for universal symbols around you. What benefits stem from having these symbols? Are they useful or just a waste of space? Open your eyes and check out the world around you!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Flickr Image by Simon_sees

If you were to look around you what do you see? Inanimate objects, photographs, symbols? There is something that we all take for granted and we all see it everyday - TEXT and the FONTS used to create them. Recently, I watched the film titled Helvetica and I encourage everyone to watch this video at least once. This relatively short film gives great insight to the font of Helvetica and where it can be found in our world. This movie added much new knowledge to my perception of visual literacy. Up until I watched this movie I did not think much about fonts and how they are used. The movie catches the audience's attention by showcasing the many uses of how and where this font can be found. Now I am constantly looking at the world of text around me. It is an eye opening idea that text can be altered in so many ways. As I observe road signs, company names on buildings and billboards, and many other objects with text written on them I have noticed that the font Helvetica is commonly used. As mentioned in the video, Helvetica is used globally. So why is this font so popular? Take a look at something written in Helvetica. Observe the nature of it. What aspects of this font appeal to you? Helvetica is a font that promotes clarity with reading. The tone of the font is neutral so it can be used world-wide, and the meaning is within the content of the text. Helvetica is everywhere - on our government tax return forms, on fashion stores logos, websites, and many more places. I challenge you to look around and find where Helvetica is used. It will shock you just how much it is used in our world, trust me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Power of Images in Today's World

It is a common thing in today's mainstream media - gender stereotypes both in positive and negative ways for both genders. Women can be seen on magazine covers as thin and flawless and men are pictured partaking in a bold and honorable events. Why does society push unrealistic imagines and thoughts into the general population's minds? It is all just to market commercial items that we will end up purchasing because it hold promises. In the back of our minds, however, we know these promises are empty and will not hold true to the commercial we saw on TV, but we still buy the products.

All stereotypes are not bad. Some can convey information rather well in a positive manner. However, sometimes it is hard to see past of all filth in today's media. In recent days, I have been keeping my eyes open to see positive types of stereotypes.

I found an article about Gender Stereotypes and I really liked how the author defined what a stereotype actually is. In his statement he summed up that a stereotype is influenced by culture and is not proved through scientific research. If all people took this statement into consideration then maybe we all would realize that stereotypes are just garbage that really have no meaning.

In closing, the power of media and its influences are very strong in today's world. We all need to keep a clear mind whenever we see a TV ad, magazine cover, or an article in a newspaper. If we let the media influence us in negative ways then we are setting ourselves up for unrealistic promises.

Image from Personal Collection

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Illusions In My Life

Illusions are a magnificent thing. The way the human brain inputs information and sends signals for us to interrupt is an amazing process. According to an article written by Debra Speert, PhD, the human brain can make "errors" when reading a visual - thus creating an illusion. Now this does not mean that our brains are wrong, it just is a glitch that occurs and sometimes we think we are going crazy.

In this picture for instance, doesn't it look like the web of colors is moving in toward the center of the image. Of course, this visual is a still shot but somehow our brains are processing the information of the visual image that it is in fact moving. However, not all people interrupt illusions in the same way, so maybe this moving picture is just my imagination at work. Who knows... Go out into the world and find some illusions and share them with your friends! 
Image from Flickr by cleverfun3000

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Visuals In My Life

Visual symbols affect my life in many ways. They allow me to interpret different meanings without the use of text. It is amazing to me that my mind is able to make connections and interpretations to a visual symbol. In addition, the components of visual symbols can add emotion. This affects me in various ways as well. If I were to look at something that has "I'm happy" written on it and compare it to a colorful portrait of a smiley face, I would have a deeper reaction and connection to the colorful face. To me, it is important to find meaningful visuals and to embrace them.

My career goal is to become a middle school mathematics teacher. Math, as we all well know, has many symbols used when problems and functions are being performed. As a educator, my hope is to instill a meaningful understanding of such symbols. I can recall a time in my math curriculum when my teacher used a visual symbol to help her students differentiate between "greater than or less than" inequalities. She would draw on the chalk board an alligator head using the ">" or "<" sign. To this day, my 3rd grade teacher's visual of how to solve inequalities has stuck with me. It is funny how that little gesture of transforming an inequality sign into a silly, animated animal had turned into a meaningful connection.

Image from personal collection

I found this drawing at work last week in the Math Education Lab in Wright Hall. Up until a few days ago, I did not take much notice of the drawing. As I looked closer and closer at it, I realized that the donkey image was using positive and negative space to form the border of a new donkey. I was fascinated by this drawing that Joseph Tules had created, and I was please with myself for understanding the framework behind it.

Image from personal collection

Friday, April 20, 2012

Creating a Group PBL Learning Lesson

Creating a project based learning lesson is a critical task to master. It is essential to pose an open-ended question to students. This question will lead the students from start to finish with their project. If the question is too vague or even too generalized then the point of the PBL will not be met. After choosing an excellent question for students, it is time to introduce tools that the students can use to make their products the best they can be. When I refer to the term "tools" I mean directing the students to use specific technological resources as their means to create their product. After careful planning of the essential question and the tools, it is time to present the problem to the class and let the students explore it in their own way. Depending on the grade level of the students, teachers may have different approaches to the amount of independence their students have on this project. The TIM, or Technology Integration Matrix, is very useful for educators when doing a project based learning lesson with their class. Refer to this link of the TIM to create a specific outline of your PBL lesson. Remember, the main goal of any PBL lesson is to have the students be engaged and excited about the question they are trying to solve. By incorporating community or global projects into a PBL, students then can gain a sense of "passion" through project based learning.

flickr image by Vectorportal 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

UNI Tech Fair (Extra Credit)

The University of Northern Iowa hosted an ITEC Student Technology Fair on April 19, 2012. This fair was a time to allow elementary, middle school, and high school students in Iowa to participate in an event showcasing their innovative projects. I saw many amazing works, but three stood out to me most.

The first one I will discuss came from a 10th grade student. He created a virtual atom using a program called Blender. I had not heard of this application before I met this student and he soon filled me in on how it works. This atom the student had created had different attributes about it. He could manipulate the atom to be linear, two-dimensional, and three-dimensional. I was very impressed by the way he composed this topic. I can see Science classes in the future to be turned around in the way they are taught. I found this student's virtual diagram of an atom to be much more interesting and exciting versus what I remember from my science school days. These new programs and applications, like Blender, are going to reinvent the world of education. I can see myself in my future classroom using an application such as Blender. In addition, he showed a project he did in his spare time. It was of a picture taken with a digital camera then he added virtual characters from a game of his. I could tell this student is very passionate with the work he does. I am very glad to see the enthusiasm poring from him.

The next station I visited was a group of 4th graders. They constructed a robot car that is has a light sensor for motion. It followed a strip of white tape to bounce back the light. To make this project more interesting and to test the technology behind it, the 4th graders decided to create a gap of no tape. This made the car robot go off course. However, the group continued with the white tape and the car soon found its way back to the track. I was very impressed with this project as well, it took the students three months to create their robot car. I could tell this group was engaged in the learning aspect of their project. Technology has a way of engaging people, more specifically students. Students today are wired to computers, games, TV's, and other types of tools. It is important that educators are prepared for what their students are interested in. This will make teaching difficult topics more exciting and worthwhile for students of all ages.

The final station I visited really left an impression on me. It was created by another 10th grade student who created a gaming program via Blender. This game was kind of similar to "Angry Birds." His creation used huge balls to crush pre-constructed buildings. The creator of this program was very wise for his young age and answered many questions I posed to him.

The two videos included in this post are of my personal collection. 

My Boundless Playground

This is my boundless playground created on Google Sketchup. I was informed of how important it is to have playgrounds available for special needs children. Play areas today are increasingly getting better by integrating appropriate equipment for all children to use, but there are some that still need to be worked on. By creating my own version of how playgrounds need to be addresses key issues that builders need to take into consideration. Ramps, the ground cover, and the materials used need to be stressed upon when building a new playground. As you can see in my image, I have create long ramps for easy wheelchair access. I have also placed a rubber ground cover in place of rocks, sand, or wood chips. These small changes will allow children everywhere to enjoy their youth in a safe manner. 

Image from personal collection 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A little inspiration...

Glogster is a fun way to make online posters. In my computer applications class I decided to create a poster that would inspire others in the world. My hope and goal for this poster is when people view it their day is inspired. I absolutely love this online site, Glogster. Go see for yourself how the website works. It has many themes, backgrounds, and animations to choose from when creating a masterpiece. It is very user friendly and children of all ages would love working with it. Check out my Glog! It is a simple poster to remind people to believe in themselves even in the worst of times. There are three videos embedded within my Glog. I hope any person who views this poster will find a little inspiration through it. Have a wonderful day!

Image from personal collections

Monday, April 9, 2012

A collaborative project of a Podcast

Creating a collaborative project requires many things. Patience, careful planning, time management, and teamwork are some of the main characteristics to have if you want a great project. The collaborative project that I am going to talk about today is about podcasts. Podcasts are great learning tools if used properly. Before creating our own podcast, my group and I decided to listen to a few podcasts from TED talks to get an idea of ours should be. TED talks are very informative lectures and lessons on various topics. My group decided to create a podcast centering on the topic of making the transition from middle school to high school. The audience for this podcast would be any 8th grader about to make the leap into high school. Once my group and I figured out what our podcast was going to be about and who our primary audience would be we began to do some research. We started by interviewing current high school students about their school experience thus far and we talked to a few middle school students to find out their concerns. We knew before we started brainstorming for a topic that we wanted our podcast to be in a "news cast" format. So we assigned specific parts to each group member. From there we began to create a script based on the information obtained in the students’ interviews. We dedicated many hours to the recording and editing sessions of the podcast before our project was finished. It took a lot of effort, but every group member was satisfied with our podcast. Our finished product is linked in this blog so everyone can access our valuable information.

Image from podcastlogo

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Visit to Lincoln Elementary

During one of our class periods for CCA, my class went down to Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The purpose of this trip was to check out the school's technology and how it is being used in the classroom setting. Before going down to the school I was thinking of what this school would be like, as it turned out my prediction of the school was inaccurate. I think it is safe to say that all of my classmates along with myself were astounded by the amount of technology this elementary school had. In addition, I was also amazed by the way the teachers and students used the technology in their classrooms.

The first classroom I visited was a 1st grade class. These students were using a mimio board to do their math lesson. I linked a instrustional video of how this tools works. It is a wonderful tool and has great potential for education in the future. This lesson was not set up in a traditional context. The students were gathered on the floor in the front of the classroom while one student had the opportunity to be "teacher" for the math lesson. All of the 1st graders were very attentive with the lesson and the technological tools were working well.

The next classroom I went to was in 5th grade science. The students here were working very hard on a project. I asked a group of students what exactly this project was about. One of the students informed me that each group was to create a building using Popsicle sticks and glue. However, this building was not just any creation. The students had to create a building to scale. Each stick represented 10 feet and their building had to be 70 stories tall, like a skyscraper in a large city.

This visit to Lincoln Elementary was a great indicator of why I want to be an educator. I could feel the passion the teachers and students had toward their projects and tasks. This school acts as a community and works very well with one another. I was very pleased with everything I learned when I left the school. This was a great experience for seeing how technology has influence today's education.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Global Learning Experience

For one week in mid-February my professor, Dr. Z, was in a Middle Eastern country named Jordan. He was over on the other side of the world giving a lecture based on educational topics. While he was there my class had the opportunity to Skype him along with a few of his colleagues. This experience was something new to me. I have not talked via a video call to someone who was many time zones away. This really blew my mind. I really had to think about what was happening. Here I am in Eastern Iowa, U.S.A. talking to someone who is more than 6,000 miles away! Now that is GREAT technology! During the Skype call I did not speak, a few of my fellow classmates volunteered to share their Project Based Learning projects and I was just soaking in this unique video call. I am very glad I was able to be a part of this global learning experience. To those who are not familiar with what global learning is all about check out the linked website. It gives a brief overview of the nature of this new educational exprience. I believe this type of learning will be very beneficial in the future and it has opened my eyes to the world of technology and how impossible things can really happen.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Using Problem Based Learning

Problem Based Learning or Passion Based Learning is a great way to engage students to think "outside the box." My group, the Middle JAARS, created a project for 7th grade math students. This project allows students to go out into their community and make a difference while getting a great math lesson. The project starts with an essential question: if you were to select a playground from your community, which one would you select and what would you do to remodel it? This open-ended question allows for students to expand their thinking and to get out of the classroom to help their community. By being involved in this project, students will feel more empowered as active learners. This term "active learners" is explained very well in the linked video. By playing an active role in education, students will become much more engaged in their tasks and their knowledge of the subject will be deepened. By using PBL students will also be able to apply it to the real world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

PLS Visit

I had a wonderful opportunity to take a trip down to Price Lab School and it was very interesting. I enjoyed the question and answer session we had with Mrs. Hanna, a high school English teacher. She is an extremely brave and intelligent person who seems to be doing wonders with new aged teaching methods. She has implemented project based learning into her classroom by having her students create a website that shares their knowledge on genocide in a third world country. This linked website explains very well which countries fall into each category: first, second, and third world. I had not realized how many of the world's countries were underdeveloped, and I believe that Mrs. Hanna's class is doing a great project by creating awareness to this unfortunate issue. When we left PLS I had a better overall understanding of what project based learning is all about. Our textbook for CCA explain it, but after listening to Mrs. Hanna and her own personal experiences with PBL I just had a better grasp on how it works. I can see PBL becoming very popular in schools everywhere and I think the students will be more engaged and excited about learning. I also had a chance to sit in on a class lesson. The students in the physics class were so interested and engaged with their ramp lab, and I think that the use of computers enabled that interest to grow. Rather than doing their lab by hand on a piece of boring paper--the students had the chance to use a computer program to arrange their data in a way that makes sense to them. Overall, I really enjoyed the visit and I hope to visit other schools soon!
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Global Learning's Effect on Education

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Learning takes place everywhere and the idea that learning can happen globally is amazing. Global learning is taking education to a new level and is expanding curriculums everywhere. Students today are knowledgeable with technology and find it more exciting to be working with different technologies such as: applications and software programs, computers, and tablets- just to name a few. By using these pieces of technology students and teachers alike are able to communicate and collaborate to others around the world to enhance their educational experience. The future of education will be completely different from what we know it to be today. These new tools and strategies will only make learning better for students everywhere.

The world is "flat" and I am beginning to see that more and more each day. I highly encourge everyone  to listen to "The World is Flat" lecture by Thomas L. Friedman. He gives wonderful insight to how our world operates. The barriers that once stood in the way of business and education have diminished over the years. Websites such as Wiki and Google Docs and instant video calls are transforming our educational systems. Global learning will connect our world more and make human beings more aware of the world around them. No one in this day-in-age should be oblivious to the global society they are a part of.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Using Collaborative Tools

Where would this world be today if we did not have collaborative tools? So many new advances have made our lives easier because of these great additions to our society. One tool in particular I have found to love is GoogleDocs. To be honest when I started using this application last fall I did not find it useful and I wanted to stick with Microsoft Word documents for taking in-class notes and writing papers. However, my thoughts quickly changed as time progressed through the spring semester. I realized why I did not like this program as much when I first started with it. The main reason was that I was not using the application to its full potential. I explored more with Google Docs by discovering that I can "share" documents, presentations, and spreadsheets with people everywhere just by a click on a button. That feature astounded me and I quickly began using it for every project and piece of homework. This is a great way to work on group projects. Another reason why Google Docs is my favorite collaborative tool is because all of my stored work is in the "cloud." What is the "cloud" exactly? The linked website is very informative about the world of the "cloud." Since using Google Docs I could finally get rid of my memory stick and quit worrying about losing it. I am so happy that I have discovered this collaborative tool. It has really been a great addition to my technological life and it has made my life a little easier.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Presentation Experience

The overall presentation experience for the introductions went very well in my opinion. Fist impressions mean everything. There are many great tips in the linked webiste above to make a first meeting with someone a memorable one. In my opinion my classmates have made a lasting impression on me. I think we have a talented and creative group of students in CCA. I enjoyed listening and watching everyone's unique presentation that told a little about them. I love how diverse our class is with interests and hobbies. Even though we are all unique, we have a passion for learning--which will allow for a community to grow within our class. Here is my presentation with Megan.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CCA Expectations

When May rolls around in about four short months I hope to learn many new and useful things from this class. My hope is to learn new age techniques that I will be able to apply to my future classroom. I am anxious to begin our projects and how they will interlock with technology in the classroom. Another expectation I have for this course is to have a community of peers that I can learn from. I have already felt a strong sense of cooperation and I feel that our group has potential to grow.