Wednesday, December 12, 2012


If you’re like me, your stomach turns inside and you groan whenever you read that there is a “group project” on the syllabus.  I’ve always preferred to work on my own – high school, college, and even when organizing something for work.  There are many reasons why I prefer to work individually; in the past, it usually had to do with me doing most of the work anyway and another person getting a grade for it.  Going to group meetings was a pain; working with people you don’t know is a pain – basically, the whole thing gets on my nerves.  Today, while working on my Master’s Degree, it is still required in most classes that we collaborate on some assignments.  While lazy group members haven’t been a problem in this program (yay! J) it is still somewhat frustrating.  Technology issues, conflicting schedules, worrying that someone isn’t going to do their part, the list goes on…
So, why do teachers do this?  Why do teachers insist that students collaborate on assignments?  Research shows that students learn better while collaborating in a group setting.  Edutopia offers some insight to how a top-ranked college prep school incorporates collaboration into every subject.  In math class, students almost always work in groups of four to answer problems.  In English class, students in a large group sit in a circle and hold discussions.  The article shows that sitting in a circle is conducive to holding conversations because eye contact is unavoidable and everyone feels included. 
Making collaborative work focused and giving everyone a part is critical in a group’s success.  Even though it may often be frustrating, collaborating does often teach me a lot.  Not only does it teach about the content, but it also teaches me about teamwork, compromise, and responsibilities.  This is important to remember next time my stomach starts to turn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reaching the Unreachable

We, as teachers, have all had them but hate to admit – disinterested students that just don’t seem to care…about anything.  But, Ben Johnson discusses using technology to reach these students in his article, “Using Technology to Reach Unreachable Students.” Normally, disengaged students seem to become more interested when teachers incorporate technology into lesson plans.  An oral class discussion can be dominated by select students, but a digital conversation can include the entire class.  iPads engage students, and they tend to learn more.
I wish iPads and unlimited technology was available at my school but unfortunately, it isn’t.  We don’t have wireless Internet and time spent loading web pages is often frustrating for students (and teachers.)  In fact, I had students create an Animoto video, but the lesson didn’t work too well because the videos wouldn’t even load, and students weren’t able to see their finished product.  I want to reach the unreachable students; I want to engage them in learning, but how can I appeal to them with my less sophisticated technology?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Expanding Your Business

When you think of Britney Spears, do you automatically think of her perfume line?  Or, when you think of Tim McGraw’s accomplishments, do you think of his singing or acting career?   Many celebrities have entered into multiple different business ventures and rebranded themselves.  Teenagers today probably find it hard to believe that Jessica Simpson used to sell albums; her clothing line has earned more than one billion dollars….yes, that’s right….one billion.  However, there have been some companies and celebrities that have been unsuccessful in rebranding themselves.  Oprah is a well-known billionaire and syndicated talk show host.  Well, her television network, OWN, has been struggling since its launch in 2011.    
An article on ReadWriteThink discusses rumors that Apple will expand its empire to televisions.  However, former Apple executive, Jean-Louis Gassee, says that Apple has no intention of creating a TV.  I believe that Apple could be really successful in selling televisions.  However, they would have to come out with something new and different than other TV distributors.  Gassee says, “To realize the dream, as discussed previously, you need to put a computer—something like an Apple TV module—inside the set. Eighteen months later, as Moore's Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine. No problem, you'll say, just make the computer module removable, easily replaced by a new one; more revenue for Apple ... and you're right back to today's separate box arrangement."

Basically, Apple comes out with a new phone every year.  When advancements in technology are made in phones, people want to upgrade.  New phones are fairly affordable, and people are willing to pay extra money for these features.  However, televisions are completely different.  They cost way more money, and people don’t run out and buy a new TV once a year.  To be successful in this venture, Apple would have to make upgrades affordable and worthwhile to customers.  Until they can successfully accomplish this task, I’m sure they’ll stick to phones and computers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Common Core Standards

The Common Core is a new set of standards adopted by several states to monitor and track student progress.  These standards outline for teachers, students, and parents exactly what is to be learned and are meant to better prepare students for college and careers.  Michigan teachers should have begun training on the Common Core Standards in 2010; they should begin implementing the standards in 2012, and formal assessments of the standards will begin in 2014.
To be honest, I’ve just recently started hearing about the Common Core Standards.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked for the past three years in a private school, but there was never any training or even discussion about these standards.   Unfortunately, the first time I heard about them was in a job interview.  Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. 
Even today, I don’t know a lot about these standards.  Even though I am a teacher in a private school, I still want to follow Michigan curriculum and ensure that my students are receiving a quality education.   On the Free Technology for Teachers website, Richard Byrne tells you about ePals’s Common Core Implementation Center.  It provides resources and teaching ideas to successfully implement these new standards into your class.  This website is a great resource to teach teachers who have less accessibility to training about the new standards.    

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I do not have any children nor am I truly ready to be a mother.  Besides the fact that I just got married, I believe I am too selfish to be a parent.  I enjoy napping, having lazy Sundays where I don’t get out of bed, and taking spur of the moment road trips.  Being a good and attentive parent means putting your child’s needs ahead of your own.  When I become a parent, I know that my napping will be greatly reduced, lazy Sundays will be nonexistent, and I’ll have to trade in my spontaneity for a balanced routine. 
Maurice Elia wrote an article on Edutopia titled, “Parents: Make Bedtime a Social-Emotional Moment with Your Kids.” She discusses the importance for both parents and children to have a special bonding time before bed.  This time should be spent reading, reflect on your day, and generally, just calm down.  When I read this article, it really showed me the type of parent I want to be.  I want to be a parent that promotes the social-emotional development of my children.  Life can get so chaotically busy; it is so important to have a designated time spent together.   

Monday, December 3, 2012


Ah…………conflict.  Everyone has them and it is often awkward and uncomfortable to be forced into a conflict with the parent of one of your students.  When a teacher is faced with this, it tends to be a reaction to defend yourself.  In Mark Phillip’s article on Edutopia, “Parents and Teachers: Turning Conflicts into Partnerships,” he discusses a simulation activity he had teacher interns complete that required them to converse with Filipino parents that were concerned that their children weren’t receiving enough individualized attention.  Teacher interns took two approaches to dealing with these concerned parents: many attempted to explain their teaching rationale while others focused on listening to the parents’ concerns.  While it is almost an innate response to defend your teaching style, most parents just want to feel that they are being heard and understood. 
Teachers and parents need to be partners in promoting their child’s learning.  There always needs to be constant communication so both parties know what is going on.  If something happens at school that affects a child, the parents need to be notified and vice versa.  Phillips also provides other resources to check out that help with communication between teachers and parents. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day Dreamer

John Paul Titlow discusses the change in music in his article, “New Apps Show the Music Education Revolution is Just Getting Started.”  I think everyone knew that with the creation of online music pirating, ahem….Napster, that the way music is communicated would be forever changed.  It’s been about a decade since then and music technology is only developing at a more rapid rate.
Music education is now available online, via SoundSlice – which allows guitar-learners to watch YouTube videos to learn tabs.  Children can essentially teach themselves with the help of this app.  Music education students are also able to communicate with a teacher over Skype.  This is a transformative approach to teaching and learning to play music. 
I particularly think this is an awesome approach to learning music because I have quite the embarrassing/horror story on my quest to play a musical instrument.  In fifth grade, I decided to pick up playing the trumpet in the band.  Man, I really loved it and was pretty darn good at it…..if I must say so myself.  However, I was forced to give it up because I had some sort of allergic reaction to the metal on the trumpet.  Literally, it looked like I had a football in my mouth. 
So, I switched to the percussion.  I was given this little starter drum and the xylophone.  The xylophone was so tricky, and I never figured it out.  Needless to say, I dropped out of band that year.  Maybe, if I was able to work on the craft in the comfort of my home with some YouTube assistance, my xylophone skills maybe would have improved.  Who knows?  Instead of pursuing educational technology, I could be pursuing music education or even better, a Grammy. J   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Art of Teaching

I could really relate to Shira Loewenstein’s article, “Mentorship: Teaching the Teachers,” because she explains an itch that teachers go through after they develop stability in their career.  When I became a teacher, I always knew that I would have to continue to develop my education, and although it wasn’t especially attractive to me, it also didn’t deter me from entering this profession.  Once I got settled in my first teaching job, I immediately wanted to go back to school; it wasn’t necessarily the “itch” she describes, but it was a longing of sorts to advance my education.
All throughout college, I wanted to be an English teacher.  English was my major, and business education was my minor.  To be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed my business classes, but I never actually thought I’d teach it.  I student-taught in an English classroom and had an unofficial long-term substitute position teaching English.  However, that is where my English teacher experience ends.  Since spring 2009, I have been teaching consistently as a business teacher. 
After a semester in my first permanent teaching job, I knew that I loved teaching business and wanted to develop my education in that area.  So, I went back to CMU for a semester to become vocationally certified and make my business minor a major.  Then, I began this Master’s program in January to develop my career even more. 
As Loewenstein says, “Teaching is a craft – an art form – that needs to be practiced and perfected.” This is why continuing education is so important.  I know that I know more now about pedagogy than I did when I first graduated college in 2008.  I also know that I’ll know more in five years.  This is what thoughtful and dedicated teachers do – they continue to develop their ‘craft.’ 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday

The need for cash will be around for a long time, but over time it's likely to become the exception rather than the rule.”

This quote was taken from Michael Singer’s article on the ReadWrite Web, Paying It Forward - Online And Mobile Style.  Today, we’ve become so dependent on technology for making purchases, handling our money, and managing our finances.  I no longer even get a paycheck because it directly deposits into my bank account.  If I want to see it, I have a voucher that I can view online.  I can pay all of my bills online, and shopping online is very easy.  Customer service is becoming obsolete; with pay-at-the-pump and self-checkout, there’s hardly interaction between a sales clerk and a customer. 

It is a rarity for me to carry cash; I maybe have only a few dollars on me every few weeks.  I use my debit card for everything and nearly every place accepts credit.  You can even swipe a debit card to buy a Coke from the pop machine.  However, last week, I went to pay for my dog’s stay at a kennel and was quite flabbergasted when they told me they didn’t accept credit cards. 

Online money management is a method to simplifying handling cash.  It is easier; I no longer have to carry a massive wallet and worry about dropping cash.  This form of technology is only going to become more user-friendly and common over time.  I’m sure they’ll develop even easier methods to make purchases. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good Deals

I always like a good deal.  If I can save a certain percentage, I seem to always be able to justify spending on something.  Now, I’m not a crazy coupon lady or anything; I’m more like an Internet- junkie-website-enroller-for-discounts type of lady.  I love to sign-up to receive e-mails for different stores because usually, they’ll always send you a 15-20% off coupon just for enrolling with periodic coupons after that.  Now, my inbox gets sort of crowded sometimes.  During the week, I always have my e-mail open and I enjoy going through the different offers from stores.  However, if I find that I’m not getting what I want out of the e-mails (ahem…coupons, sales promotions, etc.) then I discontinue them.  At the bottom of the e-mail, there is a tiny, tiny button that is usually faded grey that says, “Unsubscribe.”  When you click this button, you’ll be able to adjust your settings to how often you receive e-mails from this business.  If you opt-out, the e-mails will no longer come.  Simple as that.  I do this once every few months to prevent too much of a good thing in my e-mail. 
In an article on ReadWriteThink, Robyn Tippins discusses the same sort of issue in her article, “How to Keep Marketing E-Mails from Drowing Your Inbox.”  However, she offers a different solution.  Swizzle is an online service that scans your inbox for commercial e-mails. 
Just as I clicked on this website, I was thinking how unnecessary it was, but its careful ploy really intrigues the customer.  Is it free?  Will it weed out what I want from what I don’t need?  Then, I click on the total game changer – it gives you the top promotional deals from various companies. This is something I can get used to.  I decide that I do want to sign up, but it doesn’t support my e-mail provider.  Psh…some things are too good to be true. 

Create an "I Can" Culture

My first teaching job was at a private school where the teachers complained about students that wanted additional homework and a bigger challenge.  Yes, that was our biggest problem.  The students wanted good grades, but even more than that, the students wanted to be successful.  Nearly everyone wanted to be a doctor and everyone wanted to get into a top university.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I began a new teaching job at a new school.  I just took it for granted that students want to learn.  Now, if I mention college to a senior, they just shrug their shoulders and mutter something about community college under their breath. 
The biggest difference between these two groups of students is the culture in which they’ve been raised.  In my old school, students were held to a high standard by their parents, teachers – everyone.  College representatives were constantly coming to visit the students; college and scholarship applications were always readily available, and these students knew they had options.  My current students need to know that they are capable of achieving more.  A culture needs to be created that forces these students to realize just how important college choices are. 
Edutopia featured an article titled, “Creating a Culture of ‘Can,’” which discussed the different ways to create enabled learners.  Students must learn and truly understand they can.  Heick says, Can is a mix of knowledge and self-efficacy that has been nurtured through experience – by consistently meeting both internally and externally created goals judged by standards that are also both internally and externally drawn.” I now realize that my new teaching job doesn’t just require teaching – I must create a diverse classroom culture that promotes independence, collaboration, and success. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


I have two students that greet me every single day when they come into my classroom and thank me when they exit.  When the school year first started, I sort of brushed these students off thinking they were just being polite.  Strangely enough, these two students are sisters.  At parent-teacher conferences, I spoke with their parents and told them how polite and respectful their daughters are because they are the only students to ever thank me when they leave.  Then, the parents of these two students told me something I’d never considered – they are thankful to have me as a teacher, to be learning, and to be in my classroom. Up until this year, these students were home-schooled.  The girls spent quite an amount of time convincing their parents that they should go to school, rather than be home-schooled.  These girls are not only polite but actually want to be in school. 
An article appeared on Edutopia called, “Thank a Student.”    Sometimes, we get so caught up in our everyday life that we forget to be truly appreciative.  Once these students’ parents told me how grateful the girls were to be in school, it made me appreciate them that much more.  Provenzano says, “Not only do teachers feel underappreciated, but students feel this way, too.”  This is so important in developing a relationship with students.  It is important to show our students that we are grateful to have them in our class.    

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

FIRE UP Chips!

Okay, I admit it – I’m a tad unnerved.  That’s an understatement, actually.  I’m extremely appalled and disturbed.  As a Central Michigan alumni, teacher, and CMU educational technology graduate student, I think it is only natural to have a reaction to the charges brought against our former professor.  Since I first heard the news, so many emotions have passed through my body – denial, confusion, and anger – just to name a few.  I feel betrayed and I never even met the man in person; I absolutely cannot imagine how his family must feel. 
I began thinking.  How can a man, so educated and successful in his career, just sneak through the cracks for so long?  How can a 58-year-old man who has worked in education for several years only now screw up so badly?  Is it possible that he woke up one morning two-weeks-ago and just suddenly downloaded all of this inappropriate, graphic material?
In document written by the Geneva, Illinois Police Department regarding Internet safety, characteristics of an online predator are college graduate, computer savvy, successful careers, and the list goes on.  If those are the characteristics of a predator, than whom can we trust? These monsters do not wear scary masks or hold signs that say, “Danger,” but instead look like everyone else.    This man taught teachers how to be better teachers.  He was a tenured professor in what many consider a prestigious teaching program and university.  
My feelings of betrayal, I admit, stem from my own selfish inadequacies.  Will the fallout of one man’s actions affect all of us?  By that, I mean, will a degree from CMU’s teaching program lose value and will students not want to attend CMU because of this negative publicity?  I can’t help but feel that my Master’s Degree will come a bit tarnished. 
After the Penn State scandal, reports showed in April 2012, 14 percent less students had committed to PSU than at the same time the previous year.  There is really no comparison between these two events; undoubtedly what happened at Penn State was way worse.  At least one man did sickening things and from there, a long chain of cover-ups and “turn-the-other-cheeks” happened.  From what I have read, all of CMU personnel acted in a professional manner regarding this.  Everyone had a strong sense of urgency and handled the situation appropriately; within hours of finding the evidence, this professor was suspended.
That is what I need to remember when I proudly hang my Central Michigan University degree in the frame.  This professor was only one man, and CMU is a university filled with excellent teachers.   I will not think of his action but only about the reaction of the CMU employees involved in this terrible incidence.  That, alone, is enough to make me proud to be a Chippewa.   

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Bubble

Fredric Paul wrote an interesting article about the new Blackberry 10.  While smart phone after smart phone has been released, the Blackberry 10 has waited to release the new phone until the first few weeks of 2013.  While that doesn’t seem like a long wait to some, it apparently is an eternity for avid smart phone users.  Paul believes that the Blackberry 10 will flop because comparable smart phones have already been released with equitable features.  Personally, I don’t think that the release date is the problem.  The problem is that I, and probably a lot of other people, didn’t even hear about or even know that a new Blackberry was coming out.
Marketing.  It’s a pretty simple idea that has a tremendous impact on companies, products, and sales.  Apple does a fantastic job marketing its products; they create a movie trailer for every iPhone that comes out.  It is always a top story on the news when a new product is coming out.  Why does it seem like the Blackberry 10 is a well-kept secret?  There are many new features that are attractive to users, and I remember when the Blackberry was the “it smart phone” to have.  If I were in the marketing department of this company, I would be shouting from the rooftops about the new Blackberry.  But, I don’t work for this company and according to Paul, the Blackberry 10 is doomed. 
Has anyone heard anything about this release?  I didn’t think I lived in a bubble, but maybe I do?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friends don't let Friends Text and Drive

At some point or other, we’ve all been guilty of it probably.  I know many that are guilty of it every day.  Even before the “No text while driving” law passed in the state of Michigan, I avoided texting while driving.  I knew that it was dangerous and could potentially cause an accident.  In Adam Popescu’s article on Read Write Web, he claims, Distracted driving killed more than 3,000 Americans in 2010,” and “Last year 11% of all U.S. crashes were attributed to cell phone use.” Those are scary statistics. 
The fact is that texting while driving is extremely hazardous to yourself and those in other vehicles around you.   I honestly love to talk on the phone while driving.  I do not believe that it impairs my attention or reaction time – too much.  If you’re not talking on the phone, you’re adjusting the radio or reaching for something in your purse.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where everyone is a distracted driver.  Why is it that we’re bored when we’re driving?
Probably most people who text while driving have experienced ‘close calls.’  I label a ‘close call’ as a near-accident situation, a veer while driving, or pretty much anything that makes your heart race a little bit.  Experiencing a close call, for me, was enough to make me not text while driving – ever.  Why don’t other people who experience close calls learn their lesson?  Does it take an accident or even a death to make you realize that a text just isn’t worth it?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tweet Away

Throughout my student teaching, my coordinator would warn all of us about the risks of communicating with students online.  When I began my first teaching job, social media and communicating with students online was taboo.  Teachers have all heard the horror stories about student accusations and risks associated with communicating with students via technology.   My students would always want to be my Facebook friend, and I would always decline the offer.  I made sure my pictures, comments, and my entire online world was on lockdown.  
Now, throughout this program, I’ve been developing an online presence that is open and viewable by students, potential employers, and anyone who wants to research me.  I read an article on Edutopia that teachers came together on Twitter to discuss the Presidential election with students.  My students, in the past, would always ask me if I tweet.  I always laughed and thought it would be ridiculous if I did simply because the only people that would follow me would be my students.  But, tweeting about technology and thought-provoking issues that extend beyond the classroom walls provides an excellent way to engage students.  As long as your Twitter is strictly professional and does not include personal commentary, then tweet away!
This school’s forum for the Presidential election became very popular.  The article said, “The feedback so far has been positive. Students value the fact that we embrace 21st century media, and they enjoy hearing different perspectives about the issues.”  Even though this high school is a top vocational academy with academically excelled students, there were tweets from many outside contributors, such as parents, alumni, and teachers from different schools.  Technology teachers need to engage students by familiarizing the students with popular culture.  Twitter is popular culture right now! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is Instagram?!

What is Instagram?!  Why, in this day and age, do we want to make our pictures look aged?  Currently, Instagram is an app used on your phone to edit pictures.  It changes lighting, gives pictures borders, and yes, can make pictures look like those old 1960’s portraits that hide in everyone’s basement.  But, it is a huge company making a killing in profits.  I believe it is successful because it is a contemporary version of picture-taking.  Don’t you remember when black and white pictures became popular again?  It is something new and changes the way we capture images.  Even though this company is so successful, it is presently limited to the confines of your cell phone.  However, Instagram is expanding to the entire World Wide Web.
In an article on the Read Write Web, John Paul Titlow shares how Instagram is growing and will benefit all computer users.  Looking at Instagram pictures will become easier to navigate as it will allow ‘browser-bound’ users to look through an entire user’s photo gallery, instead of just one picture.  However, there is still a barrier between mobile users and ‘browser-bound’ users.  Even though it will be modernized to look like the Facebook timeline, people won’t be able to see who they’re following.
In the future, I believe that capturing pictures will become even more modernized.  There will be better cameras on smart phones with more options.  Color shading will change and someday, we’ll probably even be able to retouch our own photos on Smart phones.  As long as Instagram continues to improve, it will probably continue being successful.   

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Resource

When I first decided I wanted to go into teaching, I spent time in a 1st grade classroom and a high school English classroom.  Within about 20 minutes, I knew that I would never be able to be an elementary teacher.  My patience is way too thin, and it was extremely difficult for me to explain in more than one way why 2 X 2=4.  It was difficult for me because basic multiplication is something that I just understand.  Because I can’t understand why a student doesn’t understand, how can I teach it so they comprehend it?  At least at the high school level, I can put myself in their shoes and understand what their struggle is. 
Now, in my current teaching job, I teach elementary students once a week.  Thankfully, I teach computers, and students are always eager and excited to learn about computers.  So far, we’ve utilized Wordle, Timerime, Storybird, and PowerPoint to learn various concepts in computers.  But, I’m always looking for different digital tools to incorporate into my teaching.  Richard Byrne wrote an article called, “Free Technology for Teachers,” that discussed different websites would teach children about Thanksgiving. 
After looking at the resources listed, Scholastic provides an awesome resource for students to learn about pilgrims’ journey on the Mayflower.  It compares the pilgrims’ life to the Wampanoag Indians and provides audio supplementing reading material.  There are videos for students to watch and teaching materials for instructors to use.  There are lesson plans for the K-12 curriculum.  I definitely plan on incorporating this in my elementary classes.  Currently, we’re learning about the presidential election, so I think I’m going to start using this resource next week.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


ReadWrite published an article about the top ten most terrifying technology nightmares.  Although the list provides a humorous vision of our now dependant technological world, being it’s Halloween, I thought that I’d discuss my own technology nightmares.  Nearly every facet of my life involves technology, and while it’s soothing for me to curl up with my laptop before bed, if technology is malfunctioning, it can be the most frustrating thing ever!  Literally, I can visualize just chucking my computer through the window. 
ReadWrite’s top terrifying technology nightmare involves having Google compile information about you and use it to blackmail you.  I feel like certain websites sort of already do this, not to blackmail you, but to personalize your online experience.  Take Facebook, for example.  Since the creation of the Timeline, you only really see what’s going on amongst your top friends that you interact with most often.  They have even customized the advertisements based on what you most look at on your computer.  This isn’t considered a nightmare; this is good marketing. 
The most terrifying technology nightmare imaginable would be me, 25 first graders, and computers that aren’t working.  Being primarily a secondary teacher, I am not equipped with the tools necessary to fully manage young ones.  I see these young ones once a week, so I don’t have that much time with them.  When the students are distracted with computers, they are fine, but I wouldn’t have any idea what to do if something wasn’t working properly.  The first day of class with them I tried to have a discussion about rules, and students were hiding under tables and rolling around the floor.  S.O.S – literally,
The bottom line is that we’ve become so dependent on technology – for basically everything – that we’re unsure of how to even function without it.  Can you imagine going technology-free for a week, day?  Me either and the thought honestly makes me cringe.  Now, that’s a scary Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Smartphone

The “Evolution of the Smartphone” is an info-graphic that is basically a timeline in technological upgrades to the cell phone.  The info-graphic is written from HTC’s point of view and discusses key moments in history for the computer and telephone.  The Smartphone first took off around 1993 retailing at around $900.  Throughout the 1990’s, the Smartphone began to appear in movies but didn’t really become a permanent fixture until around 2000.  Looking at the info-graphic makes me think about my experience with cell/Smartphones in general, and I feel like the Smartphone didn’t truly become a common staple until around 2010.  My “info-graphic” timeline is extremely different from HTC’s version of events. 
Remember Zack from Saved by the Bell’s cell phone?  At this point in time, cell phones seemed like a far off wave of technology.  We barely knew that it was a cell phone because it just looked like he was holding a big piece of metal to his head.  My family got a bag phone that we kept in our car around 1997.  A bag phone was basically a cell phone in a bag that was portable.  Once I got my driver’s license around 2002, I got a pre-paid cell phone to keep in my car.  At all times, I had about 15 minutes to use – just in case of emergency.  When I went to college in 2004, I begged my parents for a cell phone.  It was a Motorola flip-phone that you could just answer and dial a number.  The first time I got texting on a phone was around 2007.  It was extremely limited and a pain to type without the QWERTY keyboard.  I first got an actual Smartphone in 2012 – the iPhone 4s.  It is true what they say; beforehand, you feel like the Smartphone isn’t really necessary, but once you get it, you don’t know how you survived so long without it. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


 In my current teaching position, I serve as an online classroom mentor for students taking Spanish.  While I do not actually teach them the content, I am responsible for making sure they are successful in the class.  The class is organized into 18 units of lessons, guided practice activities, assignments, quizzes, and educational games.  In Edutopia’s online article, “Blended Learning: Strategies for Engagement,” it presents different ideas to engage students in a blended online and bricks and mortar classroom. 

 A strategy for students was to differentiate instruction.  While I am not capable of adjusting the work load of students, I believe that the online instructors should pay better particular attention to the needs of each student.  Being that I personally monitor the progress of each student, Student A. may be on Unit 7 while Student B. may be just finishing up with Unit 5.  Spanish is difficult to learn in a regular classroom setting, and I imagine that learning it online is even more challenging. 

From the beginning of my educational education, professors have talked about differentiation.  In my teaching job last year, I differentiated instruction all of the time to meet the individual needs of students.  At that time, I was in my third year of teaching at this school, and I knew the students.  I knew their strengths and weaknesses as students.  Now, I’ve just started a new teaching position and am finding it difficult to individually challenge each student.  This is because I really don’t know the students. 

What is my point?  I find it difficult to assess the needs of my students that I see in my classroom every day.  I really just became good at differentiating instruction in my second year of teaching the same students.  I imagine that it is difficult to truly get to know the needs of your students as an online teacher.  Obviously you know if a student isn’t completing their work or performing in a satisfactory manner, but it takes more than that to differentiate.   It takes knowing students’ needs to complete an assignment successfully.  It takes altering your own teaching style to accommodate everyone.  It may be just a matter of giving a student more time or reducing the amount of problems, but it may be something more. 

Andrew Miller, the author of the article, says that targeting online work keeps students engaged and keeps online learning individualized.  How can you target your students and individualize instruction if you don’t know them?  The Spanish instructor that I work with has minimal contact with the students.   Differentiation is key to the success of any student, but a relationship with the student must be developed in order to understand their needs.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Jon Mitchell’s article, “Confessions of a Professional Internet Addict,” may be a satirized version of himself as an Internet addict, but his message and circumstances present a real-world problem.  Sometimes, we get so involved in the different chatting websites, friend finders, and gaming websites that we’d rather spend our time doing that instead of spending our time interacting with real people.  The Internet is an extremely useful tool, and you can literally spend hours doing nothing, but why do we want to spend our lives doing nothing?
While I was engaged, I was obsessed with bridal blogs, DIY crafty websites, and anything that offered advice for throwing a classy and affordable wedding.  Now that the wedding is over, I spend my time looking at home decorating blogs, DIY crafty websites, and anything that offers advice for decorating a home on a budget.  It’s so tempting to look at because the Internet offers a solution to anything.  My husband and I would go out to dinner and both just look at our iPhones the entire time – not because we didn’t want to talk to each other, but because we were so engrossed in what was happening online.  Eventually, we made a rule to put our phones away during dinner and once we get in bed.  It is simple, but it makes us live in the present and enjoy life – together.
Mitchell says, “So much of my life takes place online that I’ve lost touch with the boundaries. I no longer know where my obligations lie, with my “real” life or my “virtual” life. What’s real and what’s virtual?”  I feel like many people have lost touch with the present and developed a new sense of “reality.”  I still believe that friends are people you go to lunch with, not someone you meet at 6pm in a chat room; I still believe that best moments in life are moments you share with the people around you, not being curled up with a computer.  I don’t know about you, but I most remember the times from college where I was laughing with my friends – not typing on a computer.    

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Facebook Phenomenon

Facebook began as just a social-networking site where college people could meet other college-aged people.  Today, it has grown into a multi-million (billion?) dollar empire that connects people from all over the world to chat, play games, etc.  When Facebook was created, Mark Zuckerberg was just a Harvard college student, and well, we know how the rest of that story worked out. 
What is easy to forget is that Facebook is a business.  Not only have so many people become dependent on updating their status or profile picture, there are people constantly trying to improve our Facebook experience.  They want people to be dependent on the website for a social life.  While changes may initially be groaned upon, people will eventually accommodate themselves to the changes and continue on. 
In Dave Copeland’s article, “Facebook Turns Corner on Mobile Revenue Concerns,” he discusses how Facebook’s third-quarter earnings have increased, thanks to mobile advertising revenue.  Initially, revenue seemed stagnant, but as technology emerges and improves, people will conform to changes.
Now that Facebook earns a remarkable income on advertising, games, and so much more, who knows where they will go in the future?  Social networking has become the norm of 2012, and I’m sure Facebook will continue to improve the user’s experience.

Confessions of a Reluctant Apple User

Confession:  I use a PC.  When I went off to college in 2004, I took my HP laptop computer with me.  Throughout all of college, my friends had MAC computers and iPods, but I was very resistant to make the change.  Even though my HP laptop was falling apart and overheating after four years and my friends were still happily trucking along with their MAC, I refused to budge.  I felt confused and vulnerable when I took that one college class where we had to use a MAC.  Even though I teach technology to my students, I didn’t get my first iPod until 2012.  Shortly after, I got an iPhone.  After I realized I could hook my iPod to my car stereo and read books on my phone, I was completely hooked.  J Now, I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

As Titlow explained in his article, “Apple’s Slow but Radical Overhaul to Education,” even though Apple is faced with plenty of competition, Apple is still the company that comes out with new and innovative technology.  Apple has revolutionized technology by incorporating iPads and digital textbooks into classrooms.  Even the author of this article admits to feeling skeptical.  I think I was so hesitant to try an Apple product because it was new.  To me, what is new is scary! 

The bottom line is that Apple is always bringing out the big guns to one-up their competition.  Then, the competition will come out with a similar product that usually doesn’t work quite as well.  The Apple products that I have purchased I have been extremely happy with.  For all of you reluctant Apple users, give change a chance.  Once you get past the initial feelings of hesitation and self-doubt, you’ll love it.