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July 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 11:00 pm

In this brief overview of John Medina’s new book “Brain Rules”, John discusses a couple of myths regarding brain function and learning. One fact that I found interesting, because I have always heard and read otherwise, is that in his opinion male and female brains are the same. I wonder how the people who feel that schools are failing boys in particular would think about what he said. If what he says is accurate then perhaps we need to look for other reasons why boys are not achieving at the same rate as girls.


June 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 5:49 pm


Helpful resource for digital storytelling


Learning Using Social Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 4:51 pm

Lately I’ve been taking an online algebra class as one of my last endorsements for VA state licensure. I’ve never been a strong math student so it has been very difficult to teach myself the concepts at home. I’ve been using youtube lessons to help me through the course. As a visual learner I have found these lessons to be very helpful.

This particular video explains how to work through polynomial equations. The video is a clip from yourteacher.com. This website provides full length math lessons on demand. Some of the lessons can be viewed on youtube for free, but the site sells access to the rest of the lessons should you need them.


Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 4:00 pm

Ray Kurzweil appeared on the Bill Maher show recently to discuss where technology is headed. In this clip Ray discusses the availability of technology and how it transitions from only being used by the elite to being used by the general masses in a period of time. You can find more information about Kurzweils new book at the following site:



Chapter 8 Media Literacy June 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 5:19 pm

“While more young people have access to the Internet and other media than any generation in history, they do not necessarily possess the ethics, the intellectual skills, or the predisposition to critically analyze and evaluate their relationship with these technologies or the information they encounter. Good hand/eye co-ordination and the ability to multitask are not substitutes for critical thinking.” ~ David Considine.

I would have to say this sums up my feelings of Chapter 8. I completely agree that teachers must be educated in different forms of media. Teachers must be “media literate” in order to properly prepare their students for the future workforce. Further I agree that teachers must not only be able to use and teach with different types of media, they must also incorporate proper uses of media into their instruction. Students need to know how to discern quality information from false information. On the other hand teachers need to make sure that they are using media in a meaningful way so that it supplements and supports the curriculum as it’s own entity without overshadowing content. Slapping together a photo story or a power point just to include media will not provide students with the hands on “real life application” learning experience that research shows is best for students.

Additional instruction to teach media literacy would be nearly impossible to include with the demands that testing currently places on teachers. This vital instruction must be interwoven into the fabric of the curriculum so that it is taught alongside the content that standardized testing requires.

On another note, as I was reading this chapter it occurred to me that it is interesting that Heidi Hayes Jacobs chose to allow her book to be printed at all. Should it not have come in all forms of media EXCEPT for the “dying art” that she speaks of (print media)?


Chromebook June 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 1:25 am

Chromebooks are now available for purchase through Amazon and Bestbuy starting around $350. I saw a brief clip about the Chromebook on the news today and the newscasters were discussing whether or not people were ready to have everything out in the internet instead of on their computer. I wondered this about myself. I’m not sure I’m ready yet to make that leap of faith! As I learn more about google tools and how they work the idea does become pretty enticing. The price is also amazing. Lastly not having to deal with all the extra stuff (applications and programs I don’t use, viruses, etc.) that bogs computers down would be nice too. I guess we will see if and how long it takes to catch on!


Poverty Matters When… June 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 7:36 pm
I ventured over to Larry Ferlazzo’s website and found the following post on the effects of poverty.
On June 15th, 2011, many educators began sending tweets to Diane Ravitch showing how poverty affects learning. They all began with “Poverty matters when…”
After reading this post I reflected upon how we as educators respond to students when they are disruptive or despondent in the classroom. I would like to think of myself as a relatively thoughtful person and teacher but I know that I get tired and frustrated as much as the next person. The tweets that educators contributed such as “Poverty matters when emergency contacts are disconnected” and “Poverty matters when a student is failing gym because he cannot wash his gym clothes regularly” struck a cord with me because they are not the issues that are readily apparent such as a student being displaced from a home and therefore they lost their work or a student who doesn’t have enough money and therefore is hungry which many assume go along with poverty. Hopefully most people and educators are already sensitive to these more apparent issues. Upon reflection I hope to keep all of these major and seemingly minor impacts of poverty in mind in my classroom so that I can teach the whole student.

June 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 7:59 pm

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I really enjoyed watching Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ talk. I agreed with a lot of what she had to say on principal including her main point which was that we are not preparing students for the future, but instead are preparing them for ten or twenty years ago. She makes several suggestions to amend this problem. Some of her solutions are simple and can be implemented by teachers immediately, e.g. doing away with traditional essay writing and having students create a facebook page on the topic instead. Other suggestions would take years if not decades to implement, such as restructuring the schedule of the standard school year or how grade levels are determined.

Although I found some of her short term fixes to be appropriate and “doable” I felt some of the longer term goals would not be well received and are not necessarily better then what we have now. For example there are schools that currently go year round, it would be interesting to compare data from achievement to happiness of the student and student’s family between a year round school and a 9 month school. A lot of current “best practices” employed in schools currently are “research based”. I wonder what would happen if we were to make the tweaks that she suggests.

Another thing I wondered about while watching this video, is if we are focusing from the bottom up when we should be focusing from the top down. How are educators supposed to teach the minds of tomorrow if they themselves are being taught in old fashioned and outdated ways? Perhaps we need to look harder at restructuring higher education first and then in turn restructuring primary and secondary education.


Focusing the Digital Brain, Reflection June 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 4:44 pm


In the article Focusing the Digital Brain author Marilee Sprenger describes the challenges educators face when teaching 21st century students, particularly in regard to technology, and how those challenges can be overcome.

Sprenger divides our current population into “digital natives” (those who are under 30) and “digital immigrants” (those who are older than 30). She describes how digital natives have been raised with ever changing technology and therefore not only are they more adept at this technology then their immigrant friends and relatives, but their brains actually function differently. Educators must adapt so that they can better serve their students.

As educators it is important, whether you are a digital native or digital immigrant, to stay versed in technology. Technology must become organically interwoven into the fabric of our classrooms. Students who we teach today will be leading our world tomorrow and that world will include technology that we cannot even begin to fathom. We are doing our students a disservice if we continue to teach them the way that we were taught.

Sprenger does point out that it is important to balance the use of technology with social and emotional training. Not only will students need “high concept” skills they will also need “high touch” skills in order to successfully navigate their world. High touch skills include the ability to empathize, read faces and gestures, and inspire joy in oneself and others. In order to create this balance in the classroom Sprenger suggests providing plenty of time for students to reflect upon what they have learned. By reflecting students are using a different part of their brain and in turn are giving overworked parts of the brain a much needed rest. Sprenger also suggests building emotional literacy through role playing and checking in daily with students emotional states.

I think providing this balance in the classroom is imperative. In a world where a war can start over night in a country across the world with bombs dropped at thousands of feet where soldiers never come into contact with the enemy, it is so vital for our youth to gain the necessary social and emotional training to ensure that technological advances do not diminish the human element. The ability to communicate and empathize with other human beings, particularly ones who disagree with us or who hold different views, is so important to the health and well being of our youth and our country. Teachers can continue to provide this training in the classroom through the activities that Sprenger suggests.

Our new reality is that technology is not only here to stay but it is guaranteed to continue changing and progressing with time. As educators we must walk the fine balance between integrating it into our classrooms organically without removing the much needed social and emotional training that is equally as important in our ever changing world.


Google Tools

Filed under: Uncategorized — mstipice @ 3:32 pm

Last Friday we explored some of the google applications which can help us in a variety of ways as educators. After class I was most excited about the google document tool. This tool allows you to open and create a document that you can then share with others. You can unlock the document so that recipients can comment on or even change your work. Ongoing discussions can occur in the sidebar of the google documents tool.

This, to me, seems to be the ultimate collaboration tool. I can see using this tool in the classroom in a variety of ways. Teachers of all grades could use this tool to collaborate with other teachers on lesson plans, news letters, professional development documents, etc. In the upper grades teachers could use this tool to work with students to create papers and projects. The document tool would allow for continual feedback from the teacher which would be very useful to the student.

Another tool I found particularly useful was the google calendar tool. With google’s calendar you can share your calendar with other people. As soon as I got home I created a calendar that my husband and I could use together to manage our schedules! I can see this tool being useful in a school setting as well. Teachers could use this tool to manage and coordinate events.

I’m excited to explore more of the tools that google has to offer both for personal and professional use!