Friday, February 28, 2014

Little Minds at Work!

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to sit in on a brief 20 minute STEM session. A group of 5th graders presented; Human Body: My Body Alive! There were five students from Decorah Iowa along with their teacher presenting at UNI.

When I first sat down I thought to myself that students looked nervous and the teacher will probably be doing most of the talking. I was so wrong. It amazed me that these students were so confident in their learning, and they were EXCITED to talk about the human body, and that excited me to teach. The students were learning the usual criteria for the human body: different systems (circulatory) and all about the skeletal system. One of my favorite things that they presented was one of their favorite ways to learn. We all stood up in a circle and danced to the "skeletal Pokey"!!!Instead of the Hokey Pokey, it's the same thing but students shout out a part of the skeletal system (femur) and we all "put your femur in, put your femur out, and shake it all about" SO Much FUN! and such a great way to get students engaged, active, and helps them memorize the terms, and where they are located on your body.

You could tell that these great students were excited about learning, to me that speaks levels on the teacher. If you have great ideas USE them! it will pay off.

Another way that student's liked to study this subject were by using online games:
Skeletal System


The teacher introduced these games in class and then posted the links in the classroom Google drive. This way students have access to the games at home to help them prepare for tests, and keep up with their knowledge.

I was so impressed at the amount of learning these students were doing, and it inspired me to always be looking for the next great idea to implement into my future classroom.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why Collaborate?

Embedded image permalink

I was really looking for a way to explain how I feel about collaboration. Sometimes when I want to put all of my words into a big statement I look on twitter or pinterest for inspiration. This quote hits the nail on the head! I found it on twitter and it was tweeted by: Michael Carton. I fell in love with this statement. 

So many times we let our heads get big, and we see  many teachers, professors, or maybe even bosses with big heads as well. And if you are like me at all you think in your head "what makes your way so special? What makes you the expert?" I think just what this quote says...Strength is found in the classroom and it lies in the collaboration of LEARNERS! 

Just imagine for one moment what it would be like if you gave students respect for their own thinking? I know that was a loaded statement, but really think about it. When a group of collaborators comes up to you and says I got the answer, but I did it differently than you; are you going to tell them it's wrong or are you going to embrace the challenge. Collaboration leads to success, and if we are not willing to embrace the learning that comes from this, than we are holding our students back.

I know that at times you may feel like all your students do is team work, and you may think that they will never know how to do anything on their own. Well I have news for you...In this world you are always working with someone in some way. People have been saying for years two or more heads is better than one. The more people you have to bounce ideas off of the more opportunities and challenges you have to LEARN!

So what are you waiting for?...
Remember: STRENGTH is found in the CLASSROOM of learners, NOT in the knowledge of one expert.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Research Collaboration

Metacognition Team Collaboration

This week in my creating tech-enhanced learning environments class we were to work on a group research project where we were only aloud to make on line contact NO face to face contact at all! At first I was comfortable with this idea, I had done it in the past with other online classes. I quickly became frustrated with not being able to meet with my group members. Our task was to come up with a research question that related to metacognition (the way people think/learn). We came up with the question, how do you study? After we came up with our question we set up a google forum to start brainstorming questions to put in a survey. These are the questions we came up with:
Questions: Study Habits
When do you begin studying for a test?
A. I review throughout the entire course.
B. I begin studying 3 days before a test.
C. I usually cram...4-8 hours before the test.
D. Studying? What is that?

Do you look back over things after the test is done?
A. I use it to help me study for the next test.
B. I tuck it away, and don’t use it till finals week.
C. I throw it away, and never look at it again.
D. I intend to. I swear its on the to do list.

Do you use note cards?
A. Sometimes
B. Always
C. When I am struggling
D. Only when I have to memorize something

Do you read over the content to study for the test?
A. I do not learn by reading.
B. I only read content that I know will be on the test.
C. I hate to read.
D. Reading helps me out a lot.

Does cram studying generally have a good outcome for you?
A. Yes
B. It has so far
C. I think it does
D. Never, but it always ends up being my go to study method.

We sent out the the survey through email and all of the answers were then sent to a google spreadsheet so that each group member could analyze the data. My job was to then take the research and put it into a presentation on google presenter. I found that a lot of college students have very different study habits and some that were not working for them, but they still use them. This made me think of my study habits and if what I do really works for me.
Some of our findings:

The fun part of this was that my group mate Abby then used the online tool Jing to present our slideshow. Click the following link to listen to our findings.

This project was a hard at times but gave me a lot of opportunities to use more google tools. It's always good to try new things.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reflecting on the process

Personal Presentation

This blog posting is a reflection of my Personal Presentation that I have done for my creating enhanced learning environments class. Please go to the link provided to view my presentation. 

While I was listening to my classmates give their presentations I was always thinking about how I can improve my presentation skills in the future. I loved how some people got us involved. It really helped me remember who they were, and little bits of themselves. 

 To view the media source that I created my presentation with follow this link: Bookemon. Using this source was a lot of fun, and something I had never used before. I am always up to using new tools, and I was happy with the way it turned out.

Now take a listen to my audio recording of the reflections I had about my presentation. 
I noticed while doing this project that the actual product we created was not the point, but having us reflect on our selves was. I learned a lot about how I present, and saw things that I can improve on. I am glad I got the opportunity to do this...after all life is all about learning. 

Christa McCaulley

Monday, February 3, 2014

Kodak Photo Tips


This blog posting is a resource to find a few helpful quick tips from the Kodak web page on how to enhance your photo taking abilities. This was a group entry with me (Christa McCaulley), and James Reinhard. Please check out these tips and for more great tips look at the KODAK page.

#1 Look your subject in the eye.

It's all about being at the right level and angle. To enhance your images you need get down with the person or be at their eye level, this more important photographing children. When doing this, you are making your images come to life and more appealing. When looking back at your family photos you will see the emotions of that day, and not just the background and a glimpse of a your family member.

#4 Move in closer

You want to fill your photo with the subject, and an empty background.  So if your subject is small take at least two steps closer, but not too close otherwise your photos will come out blurry.  This will help reveal details about that person that weren't noticeable at a distance.

Advanced Tips:
Composing people pictures.
Three major things to remember with this tip would be:

1. Format: Decide if you would like to take your photo horizontally or vertically. Most photos are taken horizontally and are good for photographing a group of people, but vertical photos give you more options when photographing individuals.  It allows to close in more on your subject.

2. Position: Instead of placing your subject at the center of your photo, it can be more effective to offset them in the image.

*  Remember the rule of thirds, if you divide your photo into thirds horizontal and vertically, try to make the focus of your photo at one of those three cross sections.

3.Elements: This also goes hand in hand with the position of your subject. Pick out a few elements (brick wall, flowers...) that can be placed in the background or off to the side to enhance your picture.

*Notice how a lot of these added tips are something you should be remembering while taking all pictures. Therefore, all of these tips are to be combined to help you enhance all of your photos.