Thursday, July 31, 2014

7714: NLP Week 3 blog: Guitar Challenges

Guitar progress. Guitar Blog post #3: Challenges

After watching numerous You tube videos, researching on Google, referencing my Google community; Guitar for Beginners, I’ve realized the guitar is harder than I originally anticipated. I tried playing numerous chords to begin by simply placing my fingers in the correct position, as seen in last week’s post. However, my hands just are not agreeing with my brain! I am having a hard time playing certain chords. So while I had visions of Sheryl Crow in my head a few weeks ago, I have reevaluated my skills and have decided to try to attack “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as my first song on the guitar.

I am starting with single notes; E string. Previously, I was trying to play more complicated G chords and that was too hard to manipulate my fingers. Also, I was trying to play songs that were too challenging for me.

Just as in teaching; I am re-teaching, I suppose. I have to basically start over as far as teaching myself chords. The E-string is much more achievable than multiple string/chord songs for me. Also, I have found a video that models and allows for guided practice, if you will. This is the most helpful resource I have found so far to help me achieve my goal.

The following pictures are the finger placements needed to play the E-string for “Twinkle”. I feel this is much more achievable because they are all on the same string and the pace of the song is slower than the others I was attempting. I’m still working on my voice, but that’s extra credit!

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RT: Connectivism through Twitter

7714 week 4 readings: Connectivism

From the reading and videos, I gathered the following conclusions:

* Connectivism helps you stay current
* Technology has reorganized how we learn and communicate.

* Rosenbaum’s video was suggesting that we are choosing to be “connected” all hours of the   day and that the web is used to generate communities and connections rather than for individual gains, as it was when first introduced.

He’s claiming, as far as I understand, that the internet is now being used to create original information (curation) with others, for others.

These are all evident in the creation, idea, and use of Twitter.

Using the features of Twitter, one can learn, communicate, share, and gather up-to-date information. As labeled in the figures, Twitter and TweetDeck supply a plethora of information. In accordance with Rosenbaum’s TED talk, you can see that the information learned, shared, etc. is what I have CHOSEN to follow. In today’s world, we are CHOOSING to get the information we want. WE are CHOOSING to share information and learn with others, instead of simply retrieving information from a source. The simple act of retweeting is proof enough that people today like to gain information, learn and share, with others!

Teaching Validity is a Valid Skill

7710 week 4 Readings

Teaching students to evaluate digital texts is part of being a good digital citizen. It is an invaluable skill in today’s internet-dominated world! Manderino’s article discusses the importance and suggests questioning techniques to teach this skill. When it comes to any text, not just historical texts as the article discusses, it is important to teach these skills. At BC, our library media specialist offered a worksheet that helps students determine the validity of the sources they find off the web. I utilize it often in my freshman and sophomore classes to reiterate its importance in determining usable sources for information. It is not something that is as easy as it sounds. Sites can be misleading and students use the worksheet to work through all the areas to investigate the sources validity.  However, students still struggle developing this skill. It is a new literacy so it will take time for schools to incorporate this into their curriculum. Access to technology at elementary schools is also an issue in developing this skill. MAny times people think research is a middle or high school concept but with the internet dominating our reading these days, we have to reconsider when and how often we develop the skill of evaluating websites so students can become more adept at determining what is trustworthy and what is not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rockin to my PLN update/week 3 readings about PLN

Personal Learning Network Readings/PLN update

While viewing the sources for the PLN’s, I couldn’t help but make connections to the readings from week three of ED7710 about motivation. If people are motivated by a feeling of autonomy and self accomplishment, why not create personal learning networks? It certainly requires people to “put themselves out there” as the saying goes. Yet the benefits are worth it! Wagner discusses the importance of “connecting,”  “contributing,” “conversing,” and “requesting” as important factors in your networking. I have made strides utilizing this idea. I joined a “Guitar Lessons for Beginners” this week as a way of of connecting with others to learn how to play guitar for my network learning project. I have picked up the hand positions for G, C, and E chords just from watching a video. I plan to post a video of me learning these chords to the community and ask for assistance as a way of contributing, conversing, and requesting!

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Motivation is the biggest challenge I see on a daily basis in high school English. Reading is a time consuming task that students don’t seem to want to tackle on a daily basis. Whatever a student’s reasons are for being a reluctant reader doesn’t matter. It simply must be known that motivating a student is a hard task. The RSA video and Arzt article discussed similar themes. While the video spoke about money as motivation, you can consider grades in a classroom the same difference. To motivate students they have to have a sense of self accomplishment, belonging, and success. These were mentioned in some fashion within the video. I related those ideas to the points made in the Arzt article suggesting that technology itself does not motivate students. I found similarities between the two sources as they both suggested motivation was linked to a positive self awareness. It’s not motivation to simply use technology; you have to have the students create something WITH it, according to the article. This is evident in my classroom. It was not motivational for students to complete a research project using Chromebooks and Google Docs. Like the video suggested, once they had to use their brains and THINK, their motivation subsided. Just as in my class; once students realized they had to use Google Docs to complete a research project, they were not as fond of the Chromebooks! Teachers need to be cognizant of the types of technology and assignments they are giving. Don’t use technology for the sake of saying you did, just like you wouldn’t give an assignment for the same reason. Nothing is really accomplished. Teachers need to discover what our students care about and incorporate technology, online reading, reading, assignments, etc. to help students feel accomplished when they have completed the task. For example, I have used blogging in class as I know students love to communicate with others, especially students from another class. So many say they are upset that their friend is not in their class. The technology incorporation of blogging exonerates that idea!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

G - Flat, My Network Learning Project

Growing up, I spent much of my life playing sports. Baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer ruled my childhood/teenage years, and into my 20’s. These days, I spend a lot of time coaching basketball and softball. I have added the game of golf to my repertoire, however, not very successfully.

In my high school, BCHS, there was this staircase near the auditorium where many artistic and the musically-inclined kids hung out. They were constantly singing, playing guitar, working on their pitch, etc. Passing through, on my way to class, I was always intrigued by the guitar players, honestly. Ironically, one of them was my cousin, Heidi. She would strum away on that staircase! I have come to learn, that apparently, that corridor has great acoustics! Hence, the music playing and singing!

Everyone always says, “I would never go back to high school!” Well, seeing as though I came back to BC to teach, I might as well come back to that hallway and try my hand at the guitar!

At least now I have Internet as my reference! It wasn't that popular when I roamed the halls.

My goal is to play a tune, possibly on the steps in the hallway that inspired my affection for the guitar...we’ll see….song suggestions anyone???


Because of the influx of technology and its ever-increasing role in the classroom, education, itself is changing. TPACK is the most basic answer as to how to integrate technology into every classroom, regardless of content.

Here is a simplistic breakdown of TPACK:

T- technological knowledge (use and knowledge of best technological tools and resources to help students learn) Ex; computer, googledocs, smartboard.
P- pedagogical knowledge (teacher practice or method of teaching) Ex; direct instruction, modeling, graphic organizers.
C- content knowledge (subject matter knowledge) Ex; water cycle in 6th grade Science, determining theme in Romeo and Juliet for 9th grade English.

The following link is a wordle depicting the three areas together:

When these three areas are blended together effectively, students are best suited to learn and be successful in today’s world. The goal is to have students learn. As a teacher, we take our subject matter(C)  and present it to students (P) using the most effective technology (T). This will look different depending on the grade level, subject, reading levels of students, etc. However, the TPACK model is the backbone of student success.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reciprocating the "Change"

“Navigating the Cs of Change” by J. Gregory McVerry, Lisa Zawilinski and W. Ian O'Byrne had very interesting and applicable ideas in regards to an English classroom. So, of course, it was my favorite source to read! Reciprocal teaching is a strategy I’ve used before. Having students have certain roles and responsibilities that develop over time and eventually lead to a fruitful discussion of a topic is the goal. I usually use this to discuss articles or novels. However, it sounds much more interesting when presented in this article. I appreciate the idea that the roles of students are gradually introduced in the internet reciprocal teaching model. I see phase 2 and 3 being an area of challenge in my high school classroom, yet the most rewarding. It also screams, “Differentiation!” I think the “success” in the Collaboration and Student-Centered Learning phases developing and increasing throughout the school-year. It seems easier to document and show growth than the reciprocal teaching model I’ve followed in the past. Also, the internet RT model is pretty similar to online classroom models, which I’m sure our current students will experience in the future!
The “Navigating” article struck me as an example of the main idea of “Cornerstone of New Literacies Curriculum,” by John G. McVerry. “It (new literacies) is an examination of how digital tools allow us to express a sense of agency while negotiating meaning within different social contexts” (McVerry). This excerpt is explaining the goal in internet reciprocal teaching, and education in general; students owning their learning!

These new literacies are something that will take time to incorporate into a classroom on a regular basis, and even more time for students to become efficient in. I remember inputting reciprocal teaching many, many, many times before it became a somewhat effective tool. And the digital-age kids are used to being quick satisfaction. Patience, as with any technology, is a must for students and teachers!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The non-philosophers philosophy...

1st Philosophy Statement

I agree with Kevin Costner's "I believe" speech from Bull Durham and could use this clip to teach the use of the comma, however, its connection to the rest of my blog entry is purely entertainment.

While I don’t consider myself a philosopher, in regards to education, here’s what I believe:

Students graduating from the 12th grade in the 21st century should have the ability to think independently, use different forms of communication consistently, and collaborate effectively with others. Implementing best pedagogical practices while integrating technology regularly to deliver the subject content is to be expected from educators of today.

In order to expect students to achieve such lofty goals, teachers have to be well-educated in each area. It is not enough, in the 21st century, to simply know all there is to know about grammar, Steinbeck, or plot development. Developing and assigning a graphic organizer to extract important information or facilitating a philosophical chairs discussion is great, however, it will not assist students in becoming successful in all areas. Knowing how to work a Smart Board or having one Skype session with a NASA employee will not prepare students for their future.

I believe these types activities have to happen regularly in a classroom. They have to happen in conjunction with one another in order to prepare our students for the world that awaits them. I believe independent thinkers, effective and consistent communication and collaboration are created when students are exposed to best practices, innovative technology, and content on a regular basis. If one area is left out, or lacking, the current and future success of the student is at risk.
Fellow Bloggers,

My name is Monica Hayes and this is my first blog post for UNH! I teach 9th and 10th grade English at Bristol Central High School in Bristol, CT. I previously taught 6th grade at Chippens Hill Middle School, also in Bristol. I graduated from BC and have been a life-long Bristol native. Go Rams! I am a huge BC supporter and coach a couple sports to help fill up my free time.

I am quite excited to begin exploring new technologies and how to utilize them in my classroom. I have used Google Docs in class and am very excited these classes are run through this program so I can learn more intricacies to use in the future! I am interested in having students complete group assignments, using video to tell a story, and connect with other students from another state about a novel we read as ways to integrate technology in class, to name a few.

I've titled this blog "Life's a MHayes." It's a slight play on words to explain life, I suppose. It can be a maze sometimes. Technology certainly makes me feel that way at times! Hopefully, after completing this program at UNH, I will have to rename my blog because I won't feel that way!