College in a Nutshell

 

Oh man. I don’t even really know where to start this blog post. The blog I stumbled upon was Inside Higher Ed, the particular post I’m going to talk about is called “The Anxiety Crisis,” and basically it sums up all of my current qualms with the education system. My first though after reading the title was “yes, this is exactly what college education is creating.” The article touches on Obama’s Race to the Top, the cons of standardized testing, the ridiculous price of education, and the general anxieties of college education.

The beginning of the article describes the “face crumble.” You know, that moment when the smallest bit of news causes you to just fall apart. As the author was detailing this face crumble, I could relate to it all to well. I’ve experienced this moment of distress and helplessness multiple times throughout my education, as has most students in this generation. According to the article, students’ self-reported levels of emotional health care are at record lows!

Yes, college is supposed to be tough. No one said it was easy. But in addition to already having a rough course load, college students are burdened with the presence of student loans and lots and lots of debt. We’re told we have to go to college to get an education so that we can get a good job, but then all of the money we make in that “good” job goes to paying off all of our debt. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to work your way through college. Minimum wage is nowhere near enough to cover our loans, nor do we have enough time in our week to work enough hours to build up a large chunk of money.

My favorite line from this article is “students look at the larger culture and see nota ladder of opportunity, but a treadmill of obligation.” THIS IS SO TRUE. I’ve had this conversation with my parents a few times, and when they recollect on college, they remember being so excited to graduate and start a job and be a part of the real world. For current college kids, the idea of being in the real world and having to face real world problems like lack of jobs and a lot of debt is pretty terrifying. Another line that really stuck out to me was, “for our students’ entire lives we have communicated that the reason to learn things is not to fulfill curiosities, but to see where you stack up relative to others.” THIS IS ALSO SO TRUE. When we come to college, we’re expected to know/be close to knowing what we want to do with the rest of our lives. But when were we ever given a chance to explore our options? To explore our likes and dislikes?

Now that I’m in my program, I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for learning. Up until this semester, I’ve either been told the exact classes I have to take (whether I like them or not) or I’ve had to take a class I’m really not interested in solely to meet an education requirement. This semester, however, I’m finally taking a full course load of classes that I really enjoy. Special education is something I’ve been passionate about for a while, but this is the first time I’ve been able to dedicate all my time and effort to the subject and field. Not only am I learning about special education in a classroom setting, but also I’m able to go out into the community and experience it hands on. Learning is so, completely different when you’re learning about something you really enjoy or are passionate about, and students don’t get to fully experience that until they come to college and have hopefully figured out their major.

I know I’ve kind of rambled and maybe gotten away from the main point of the blog post, but basically, this article is great. I think all educators, especially higher education teachers, should read this so that they can have a better understanding of what it’s like to be a high school and college student right now. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to the rest of our class rather than simply enjoying the education we’re receiving. Rather than learning for the pure purpose of gaining new knowledge, we’re learning in order to be smarter than him or her. This program has so far given me a small taste of what it’s like to learn simply to learn, and it’s something all students should experience, full-time. Yes, school and learning will always be somewhat stressful and tough, but it should not be damaging the mental and emotional health of so many students as it is now. Learning should be f u n.

SURPRISE!!!!….. it’s another twitter post :)

 

As we’ve learned from a lot of our classes so far, the field of Special Education uses a lot, and I mean a lot, of different acronyms. One of our classes this semester started out with a little “pre-test,” which was simply a sheet of paper, front and back, full of acronyms, and we had to fill in the ones we knew. Needless to say, there were more than a handful that I did not know, but I’m sure by the time I graduate from this program, I’ll be an expert and be throwing around acronyms like nobody’s business. This first tweet I found features an article with a ton of different acronyms used in Special Education and their meaning. Not only is this a great resource for me as a special educator, but it’s also a phenomenal resource for parents of children with disabilities. Going to their first IEP meeting can be super overwhelming because of all the jargon the IEP team uses, so having this list of definitions can be quite helpful.

 

 

The process of starting any piece of writing is always the hardest. Whether it be a project, a blog post, or a paper, getting started is the toughest part for me. Once I start, I can usually find a good flow and finish the assignment, but time and time again I find myself stuck at the beginning. This teacher developed a simple pre-writing strategy to help students start their writing and keep it focused. Students tend to ramble on and add in “fluff” to make their writing sound more eloquent and advanced, but in reality, a simple and succinct essay is better than one filled with a lot of useless detail and large vocabulary. As a teacher, I want to teach my students this. My teachers always emphasized that we should avoid fluff and just stick to the point, but when you get stuck, you just start to ramble and hope the idea comes to you. This strategy, POET, stands for Purpose, Organization, Evidence, Thesis. These are the four steps students need to remember when writing an effective outline: list all the things the task asks of you (purpose), determine the method of organization that suits your evidence and purpose (organization), record your evidence for each element of the purpose (evidence), and review your evidence and purpose by writing a 1-2 sentence response that answers the purpose with insight (thesis). This strategy does not cover every base of a well-written paper, but it’s definitely a good start, and sometimes that’s all you need.

 

 

I don’t have too much to say about this tweet because it’s pretty self-explanatory, but it’s SO COOL. Basically, the article lists different websites that allow you to take your students on a field trip—virtually! If your class doesn’t have the budget or the time for a field trip, these sites are perfect. Some of the sites allow you to travel to every country, while others are more specific. One of the sites leads you through a field trip on Mount Everest with the use of real aerial views. Another site allows you to take a panoramic virtual tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I had no idea these existed and I think they are a great resource for any teacher. These sites could be particularly helpful for special educators because field trips can present much more of a challenge for students with disabilities in regards to access and travel. Being able to attend these tours virtually could be much more beneficial.

TCHR 2 STDNT TXTNG

 

CH3CK !+ 0U+ 

When I first read the title of this article, It’s 2014– Can You Text Your Students?,” my initial thought was “absolutely not,” but after reading the article, the author made some pretty valid points. First of all, it really is this generations main mode of communication; as much as we hesitate to admit that, a huuuge portion of our daily communication is done via texting. Therefore, it would make sense that other people in our lives, besides our peers and family, would use texting as a means of communicating with us. In the past year or so, at lest three of my doctors have started communicating with me via texting. Before each appointment, I receive a reminder text of the date and time so I don’t forget. When I received the first one, I thought it was pretty odd and it was really unexpected. But the more it happened, the more useful I found it. I try to put everything in my calendar on my phone with reminders so I don’t forget anything, but lately I’ve been incredibly busy and sometimes things like that slip my mind. So having a text reminder, in my opinion, is awesome and I love it. After realizing that, I thought about how texting could be used by school administrations and faculty. As the author mentioned, it would only be with the student’s permission, and all messages would have to be saved and recorded somewhere. I now thought back to high school and how many times I forgot to bring that one permission slip in, or forgot that we had a field trip the next day, and how helpful it would have been to receive one text from my school to remind me. 

Knowing that I’ll be in a school pretty soon, and eventually have my own classroom, this idea of texting my students is really fascinating. I completely relate to the whole having my phone at my side basically 24/7 (which is really bad, I know) and because of that I think this could be an extremely effective way of communicating with students who are otherwise unreachable. To us it may seem a little off, that teachers are texting their students, but we need to wrap our minds around the fact that this is 2014, we really are in an age of technology, and this could be the future way of communication between schools and their students. 

Aside

Neat Tweets

The article in this tweet is one that every educator every where should read. A question often thrown around in the world of teaching is “what’s the best way to engage my students?” This question could have many answers, all of which could be unique to each classroom. The author of this article surveyed 220 eight graders to see what really engaged them in the classroom, and I think the results are quite helpful. Although these ten suggestions are from eighth graders, I think most of them apply to students of all ages. Working with their peers, with technology, and with real world examples were the top three responses. As we’ve learned from most of our classes this semester, technology and real world examples/project-based learning are two of the big focus points in schools right now. We’re being taught to put as much of both of those in our lesson plans as possible, because as this article proves, students enjoy them and if students are enjoying learning, they will most likely have a better understanding of it. One of my favorite tips this article offers is “clearly love what you do.” I strongly believe that everyone in my cohort loves what they do and will be phenomenal teachers for that reason, but there are other teachers out there who need to realize that their attitude in the classroom and towards the coursework strongly influences the student’s attitude about learning. The other tops were get me out of my seat, bring in visuals, student choice, understand your clients– the kids (!!!!), mix it up, and most importantly, be human. Don’t be afraid to have fun in the classroom and don’t fret if something doesn’t go as planned, after all, we are all human.

This next tweet I found also discusses student involvement in the classroom and how we as educators can get them to speak up. One fear of mine, knowing I’ll have my own class in the future, is that they won’t participate and I’ll have those awkward moments where I ask a question and no one responds way too frequently. This tweet includes a simple poster with five questions to help get your students to be more involved and vocal in the classroom. I hope that when I have my own class, things will flow smoothly and we’ll always have great discussions, but I know that would be too good to be true, so having this as a resource would be quite helpful.

I’m super excited about this tweet I found. It’s basically a review about this new technology-robot-ball-thing called Sphero. I had no idea what it was when I clicked on the article, and after watching the first promotional video for it, I watched all the others in the playlist. If I wasn’t a broke college student, I would definitely have ordered one tonight. After watching the video I wasn’t really sure how it was connected to education, but as I read the article I saw how it could be a really innovative and creative way to teach things like programming. There are many apps associated with Sphero and many of them allow you to program the ball yourself and then see how it affects its movements right in front of you. They also just released a new program called Sphero for Education which includes lessons on rate and time and geometry and percentages. It also offers a ton of examples of how other educators are using their Sphero’s in their classrooms. I would love to get my hands on one of these, and hopefully have one (or like twenty 😀 ) in my future classroom.

Helpful Reminders

 

CHECK OUT THE BLOG POST HERE

 

I chose to respond to this particular blog post because I think it’s a good article for us (my cohort) to read and take to heart, as we’ll soon be thrown into classrooms and pretty overwhelmed (I assume). I’ve already heard plenty of horror stories from first year teachers, and I know my first year will be rough, but I think the dos and don’ts this post offers will help make it a little easier.

My favorite is “DO NOT get discouraged that you are not doing enough for them (sometimes progress is slow but there is still progress).” I find this one the most helpful because I can see myself getting quite discouraged rather quickly when I first start to teach. I won’t have a ton of experience with my own classroom, so I’m sure I’ll set my expectations way too high, and then get really disappointed when those aren’t met. I know one of the dos is “DO have high expectations for their academic work and their behavior” and I definitely think that is true, I just need to remind myself not to set those expectations too high for my students and for myself. Another one that I really liked was “DO allow them to explore things they are interested in” because exploration is something I really want to encourage in my classroom. In order for my students to expand their creativity and become really invested in something, I have to allow them to use the hobbies and interests that they enjoy. They’ll be having fun and learning at the same time and that’s obviously the best 🙂

This post will impact me as a teacher because it gives me a few rules to live by when I’m facing a challenge in my classroom, which I’m positive will happen more frequently than I’m expecting. It’s important to remember not to get discouraged and keep your head up when encountering a problem. Even when I’m ready to throw in the towel, I have to remember all the benefits I get from teaching children and how they will always outweigh the rough patches.

Twitter Tweets (again)

This first tweet I found features an article that details a new app from CDW called Technology Insights. In short, this app provides an interactive roadmap to help users with varying levels of expertise to better understand the mobility maze. As we have learned, there is currently a disconnect between digital immigrants (some teachers) and digital natives (most students). This app helps users acquire the knowledge necessary to successfully integrate mobile devices both inside and outside the classroom. The app contains eight sections: Mobility Today, Plan, Enable Protect, Support, Empower, Mobility Profile, and Resources. Depending on the users knowledge and familiarity with technology and mobility, the app offers an Apprentice, Early Adopter, and Expert track. I think this would be beneficial for all educators to know about and use because it makes using mobile devices in the classroom very simple. Some teachers avoid using technology in the classroom because they don’t know what exactly to do with it, and the app fixes that. Technology Insights offers reference guides, videos, magazine articles, case studies, research data, and info graphics, all available on a mobile device.

This next tweet I found is incredibly important for all educators to see: it features an article about how to manage and minimize your digital footprint as an educator. When I first read the title, I wasn’t sure what my “digital footprint” was or why it would be important to manage as an educator. After reading the article, I now understand that my digital footprint refers to the traces of data that I leave behind on digital services like the Internet and social networking sites.  I was aware that most employers and recruiters look at their candidates profiles, but I had no idea 68% of these employers rejected a candidate based on what they saw on a social networking site. We’ve been told for years to watch what we put on the Internet, but I never really took it to heart until I read this article. I realize as a future teacher I have an image and a reputation to uphold. I will be a role model for my students and therefore have to be appropriate and respectful at all times.  The article mentions four main tips to think about when trying to keep your digital footprint in check: don’t friend students, be professional outside of the classroom, evolve from a lurker to a contributor, and learn about your social networks.

The final tweet I found talks about geocaching and the different types that exist. Although this is not directly education related, I think it’s a really fun and neat way to teach certain math and science concepts. Geocaching is based primarily on coordinates, and would be an incredibly exciting and hands on way to teach your students latitude and longitude. Different types of geocaches are the traditional cache, the multi-cache, the puzzle cache and the event cache. Teachers can set up their own caches in puzzle form to combine different concepts and learning opportunities. As educators we are always looking for new ways to engage our students and I think this is a modern and exciting way to educate our students and get them out enjoying the beautiful nature!