Saturday, July 11, 2015

Final Project Reflection

 The project that I chose to incorporate into this course was a digital presentation to utilize during home visits this summer.  The slides will provide parents with information about a tool that we currently utilize in our educational setting.  The use of “Family Message Journals” have been incorporated into the curriculum, but parents have not been exposed to research based evidence about their advantages.  
The slide show will enable parents to better understand the importance of communicating with their children about their learning through the use of journals.  My intention is to provide the “Digital Native parents” the option of responding to the journals with the use of technology.  The commodity of integrating technology will probably increase parent participation.  Since we are discovering the tools that manipulate young children they will probably engage in this activity with more enthusiasm.  The use of a word processor during writing has recently become one of my instructional tools; it allows my students to use technology within a constructivist approach to learning.  Parents will be able to respond while they are work, during their break, while waiting at a doctor’s office, etc.  In essence, what I am hoping for is to increase communication amongst students and parents.  Ted talk on Digital Natives 
I feel fortunate to work in a setting where parents are active participants in their child’s education, but the reality of responding to a journal in a traditional method is sometimes difficult for parents who work late hours or second shift.  I believe that giving them the option of digital responses will accommodate their busy life styles. 
After carefully reviewing some of the digital tools available to complete the final project for this course, I stumbled across “Animoto”.  Initially, I thought this was going to be a useful tool to help me create presentations for the parents during our home visits.  Although it was an interesting tool, my school does not have the funds available to purchase the application. Fortunately, there are many free applications available at our fingertips.  Most of them are simple to use and easily adapted for educators.  I chose to create a presentation with Google slides instead. Google slides allowed me to insert images from the internet as well as photographs from my own files.  It was the perfect tool for creating a presentation that was readily available for both teachers and parents; especially for the ones that prefer the use of technology. 
This course empowered me to research topics that were unfamiliar to me. 
The values that are portrayed in new films are powerful yet difficult to analyze from different perspectives.  I want to uncover more themes presented in cartoons and Disney movies since our children are strongly influenced by them.   Analyzing the two films, Brave and Frozen, shaped a misconception that I could not include films in my classroom.  In the past, I have tried to avoid showing films, but now,  I can distinguish it as an avenue to encourage critical thinking and conversations that will probably go beyond the classroom. While growing up digitally does not guarantee the development of digital literacy, educators need to have basic knowledge about who kids are and how they engage in the world.  “I want students to critique portrayals of hierarchy and inequality in children’s movies and cartoons.  Teachers need to support children in refining their views about popular culture. 
I like the familiar and perhaps this is why I consider myself a digital immigrant.  I have used technology in the past, but not to the extent that we have been exposed to it in the last two weeks.  This course transported me beyond my comfort zone.  I was challenged to overcome my fears of technology.  The journey was difficult, but the results were rewarding.  The support from my classmates was pivotal in this process.  Even thought there were some digital natives in the class, we shared similar concerns; the concerns that align with educators who want to integrate innovative teaching tools, but also embrace traditional learning strategies.  We navigated the journey with some bumps along the way, but we learned from each other. 
In looking back at my notes I noticed the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants is similar to comparing English Language Learners and Natives. A week ago I considered myself a digital immigrant. The connection between this course and my own personal experiences were interwoven as I submerged into my seat while listening to lecture on the first day of class.  I felt a close connection to the way I felt when I first moved to the United States; an immigrant who has recently arrived in a new setting and is trying to acculturate.  A week later, I felt like an immigrant who has surpassed the “silent period” in which an individual gains self-confidence in communicating ideas.  I am able to navigate the Internet to find innovative ideas and tutorials on how different applications can be combined to create interesting presentations. 
            Through collaboration, we shared concerns and opinions about gender bias in very creative ways.  The opportunity to use each other as resources simplified the activity.  It was an action based learning experience.   The presentations were to convey and some of the negative effect that media in delivering messages to young children.  It was interesting to read blog entries that commented on the same topic with opponent views. Everyone has different perspectives and opinions and as educators we need to encourage children to have conversations about their own views. 
We were presented with ample opportunities to collaborate with each other.  The design of our Blogs allowed me to learn about a tool that will enhance collaboration amongst my colleagues, since the majority of them are fluent digital natives.  I was skeptical about creating my own blog because I did not have the confidence or the guidance, but his course has empowered me to take necessary steps.
I believe that my colleagues will benefit from having an existing slide show that can be easily adapted to fit their grade level needs. Once I have finished with the slide show, it may be translated to the other languages that we teach and posted on our school website.  Remember, our media natives need guidance in order to use the devices and technology tools that are provided to them in our schools.  They need to be able to balance the use of technology with their own curiosity. 
Before this course, I was not familiar with digital technology terms that define a teacher’s use of technology to educate or facilitate the learning of their students.  As I delved into the definitions of the three terms presented in this course, technocrat, techno-traditionalist, and techno-constructivist, I encountered the possibility of being a techno-traditionalist.  I currently use technology to some extent, but I try to avoid it if this is an option.  I am hoping to become a techno-constructivist with many online projects that will allow my students view technology as an avenue to support their learning. 

 This course has undoubtedly refined my own views about popular culture.  I believe that as educators, it is our responsibility to guide students in making decisions about how they view the media and support them in navigating the Internet with caution.  My concerns about the media and popular culture implications have been refined.  I have multiple resources to guide me in providing my students with tools that will enable them to become critical thinkers as well as fluent media natives.   


Link to 

Friday, July 10, 2015

This I Believe...

This I Believe…

While completing my undergraduate studies I realized that my oldest brother shaped, in one way or another, my dedication for learning.    In one of my courses, I was asked to create a story about a holiday that was meaningful to me.  My first memory was the first doll that I had received on January 6.  It was the culminating celebration of the holiday season. “The Three Wise Man” arrived every year to give children what they had requested.  Since this was in the Caribbean, there were no chimneys for Santa Claus.  Instead, the Camels who carried the kings through their long journey, deserved to have some water and grass to eat before leaving a small token of appreciation under the bed.   The day was finally here, but I was too worried about my brother to think about grass and water.   I had forgotten to place it under my bed. 

My brother had worked long hours for many weeks.  Some days, he would not return until dusk.  I remember waiting for him by a small crack of my bedroom window.  He did not know this because as soon as I saw him coming I would jump into the little corner of a bed that I shared with two of my sisters.   I had many childhood memories, but this one had shaped my passion and dedication for learning.  I wanted to be like him.  Yes, my brother.  He was smart. I wanted to learn, be smart, and be someone someday.  I was always a dreamer.  I would fantasize about working as a flight attendant because I wanted to travel the world.  My dreams seemed so distant from reality.  The conditions in which we lived, would never allow me to make those dreams a reality.  I was confined to a tiny space in “our’ room the only place that I could really concentrate.  
My brother had spent his first paycheck on gifts for my sisters and I. I could think of a million things that he could have spent the money on.  But he chose to give his little sisters a smile, “A smile that would last a lifetime in my heart”.   
During the late 70’s there were limited jobs that allowed low-income families to spend money on necessities, much less, “wants”, but my brother had managed to fit this into his budget.
My brother worked to support our family.  A family of eight with a single mother who could barely write due to limited education opportunities,  but my brother, he never complained,  he always smiled.   He was optimistic. 
On the scarce days that he made it home before dark, he walked in the door unbuttoning his sweaty shirt after long hours of work, he would ask me “What’s 3 x 3 mi flaquita?”  He always found the opportunity to challenge my brain.  His perseverance and desire to succeed inspired me everyday.  He was my role model, my hero.  When he went away to become a police officer I missed him immensely.  He was now in the police academy and had a part time job at the grocery store that I never got to see.  It was too far and we did not have transportation.   
My brother found the way to instill in me the love for learning.  He was my inspiration.  For years I questioned his optimism and then I realized that I am just like him.  I wanted to do better.  I wanted a better life.  A life that would allow me to offer my children what life had deprived us of.   My brother ingrained in me the most powerful gift a human being could receive, the love for learning and the importance of perseverance. 
There are not enough words to describe the emotions that covered my entire body as I unwrapped the gift.  The gratitude that I feel for my brother is cherished in my heart and no one could take this away. 
I believe in perseverance, love, wisdom, but most importantly, I Believe in making a difference in someone’s life.  That is what we “Educators” do everyday. 
Happy Teaching! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Let's Talk!

Let’s Talk! 

Turkle and Wesch’s discussion of new media and technology make some interesting points about how our world has become so accustomed to technology.  Although they present the information with opposing points, they essentially are striving for need to have  “conversations”.  While Sherry Turkle views technology as the springboard to depress personal relationships, Wesch views technology as an avenue to expand students’ knowledge through questions that have answers at their fingertips but opt for the “real talk”.

Wesch talks about participation and not following along...
Do you like school?

Sherry Turkle makes some interesting points in her article “The Flight from Conversation”.  The manner in which she portrays how technology impedes face-to-face conversations is  “somewhat exaggerated” but I agree with her to some extent.  When people communicate with their devices, there is not need for discussion because conversations are shorter.   She claims that people are so engaged with their technological devices that they have forgotten to have real conversations.  The move from conversation to connection is evident in our society.   “We are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be”.  This is a sad reality.  Although technology can bring us together, it also separates us.  While we can to talk to people, we opt for the commodity of texting at our fingertips.  We don’t even need to think anymore.  These devices have limited our creativity in having real conversations. 
As Dr. Turkle says, “Face-to-face conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience”. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. 

Wesch, on the other hand embraces the need to have real conversations.  He claims that good questions are those that force students to challenge their thinking.  He argues that questions open the opportunity for interesting communication and that students crave this.  Off course we need to provide students with the right questions to engage them in communicating their own thinking. 

Teachers need to embrace conversations initiated by students.  When students develop their own questions, there are endless opportunities for intellectual discussions.  The fact that we have devices that can support students in finding answers quickly, allows them to have deeper conversations.   Therefore, teachers need to welcome technology as a learning tool rather than an obstacle in the classroom. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Breaking Stereotypes

Breaking Stereotypes

It was interesting reading about a subject that is so evident in my own classroom.  The conversations between my students during our morning meeting echoed in my head as I read.  In this article the students take action in initiating a campaign to avoid stereotyping in advertisements.  Despite great adversity and risk, they had the courage to begin writing letters and taking action to avoid different stereotypes within their community. 

The reality of stereotypes is inevitable in our society.  It is important that teachers take action in their classroom since this is the one place that students feel safe speaking about topics that may be difficult to discuss outside of the school setting.   By sharing their own stories, students learn to develop skills that allow them to defend their opinions about the world that surround them, but most importantly, their own cultures.  

Fortunately, there is more anti-bias literature available to include in our classroom libraries.  By exposing children to a wide range of literature, they are able to explore subjects that are evident in our society. Books unlock opportunities to further discuss topics that may be uneasy for some students. 

The article includes a list of books that were used to introduce different stereotype subjects like gender and family values.  Some of these books have unexpected endings that encourage classroom discourse. It allows students to analyze literature with a different lens and express their opinions. 

·      William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
·      Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
·      Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores
·      Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesley Newman
·      King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

I was pleasantly surprised to read that the hard work of this teacher and her students had paid off.  After many months of discussing stereotypes and actions to prevent false advertisements, they received a letter from the president of Pottery Barn thanking them for their letter about gender stereotypes in their catalog. 

Excellent Results!

The fall of 2003, Pottery Barn Kids catalog arrived with a picture of a boy, sitting at a desk, doing his homework.  Another picture showed a boy talking on the phone, instead of a girl, which was something one of her students had suggested.  

I truly enjoy happy endings. 

lesson ideas

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Films that shape our society

The culture of Disney movies has been somewhat distant to me because I was not introduced to them until later on in life.  These films did not play a big role in my life.   As an adult I learned to like them and appreciate some of the messages that are conveyed in them, however I am not a big fan of the princess stories.  I believe that these movies instill the notion of relying on a prince to be happy and complete.  The role of a woman is always opaque by the strength of the prince who is the hero.  Although some recent films are beginning to change this notion, the seed has been planted.  It will probably take a long time to re-shape the way our society thinks and feels about Disney films.  
As a child I was introduced to different stories like “Juan Bobo” where "Bobo" implies stupidity or oaf-like behavior, the ostensible naiveté of Juan Bobo points to a hidden virtue or helpful way to approach life.  There are no princesses involved and the themes are always positive ways to help others.
Since re-locating to the U.S., I have become familiar with Disney films and share them with my own kids.  I have to admit that I am not a fan of the princess stories but my daughter enjoys them. 
After watching Brave, I have a different perspective about the films that our children are being exposed to.  I really enjoyed watching a film that actually portrays a different role of a woman.  In this film the female role is respected.  The main characters are brave woman who stand up for they believe in.  They unite to overcome the barriers that separate them at the beginning of the story and challenge traditions to make changes in their community. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Prensky and Wesch

I don't think that the positions of Boyd, Prensky and Wesch are divergent.  They just present the information in a different manner.  According to Mike Wesch, computers need humans to be able to function.  Our input is crucial in organizing, connecting  and sharing with others.  In fact, we are the ones who have the ability to collaborate ideas that are later expanded on.  Unfortunately, our children are not equipped with the tools necessary to navigate the Internet adequately.  Teachers, like myself, need to develop their own technical competencies to be able to support their students.  The fact that our teens were born in a technology oriented environment does not make them "Digital Natives" They may be able to navigate a computer in faster ways because they are familiar with some search engines and have been exposed to digital artifacts since they were very young,  but the key is to be able to evaluate he information they encounter with critical thinking lenses.  They need be able to analyze and  filter out unnecessary information.
As I reflect on my own pedagogical and technological experiences, I am guilty of asking my students to avoid Wikipedia not realizing that students can benefit from analyzing information and utilizing existing media  to gain more knowledge and evaluate information independently.
I still need to become familiar with "digital native" terminology in order to provide my students with appropriate digital language.  Our role as educators is to stay up to date with new technologies in order to support our students in navigating the exiting world wide web.
I really enjoyed the videos!
Remember, we need to be able to know, not be knowledgeable.  

Welocome to my Blog! Bienvenidos


Welcome to my Blog.  I am excited that I will be able to utilize this tool to communicate with parents.

I will post long projects and due dates in this page.

My students will be able to check their homework assignments and calendar dates
Please send me any websites that you currently use at home to help your child with his.her homework.

Thank you