Greg Knapp’s Teaching Philosophy


3 Tweets and a blogpost

The first tweet I found this week dealt with the question will human math teachers soon be programmed out of the classroom equation? The article started out by listing online program after program that can work on students’ math skills. Although there is no premier math application that can also monitor student progress, analyze it, and assign additional problem modules automatically, a program will soon come that can do these tasks.

Yet, the article switches at the end saying that teachers are needed, and I agree with this statement. Humans are fundamentally social creatures. Kids respond most strongly to feedback when they are secure in the knowledge that a teacher cares about them as individuals. Similarly, real-life engagement with peers helps children focus, build on one another’s energy and interests, and to learn from each other. I feel that children are most motivated by the rewards of human connection itself. The best math teachers are those who communicate joy and interest in the mathematics that they are teaching, and I feel that that enthusiasm just can’t be communicated through technology. The fact that I’m becoming a teacher, and this article saying teachers will always be needed, is quite reassuring to me.

This article talks about the endless uses for blogging in the classroom. Before I read this article, I only imagined each student having their own separate blog (like how our technology classroom is setup), but this article discusses ideas like teacher-parent blogs, or entire classroom blogs. Some ideas I took from the article were:

  • Some teachers had daily student bloggers who were in charge of updating the classroom blog, somewhat like a scribe-of-the-day.
  • Some teachers have their students take their handwritten notes that summarized the daily learning during each subject area and then have the students update the class blog on Friday.
  • Teaches could highlight the best work of students as its produced.
  • A student could be the daily/weekly photographer and document what goes on in class.

Finally, the last part of the article said that to learn how to run a blog you just have to experience a blog and go through it yourself in order to make it work for you and your students.

The last tweet I looked at had a link to an article titled “22 Simple Examples of Social Media in the Classroom.” I’ll go through some uses I’ve learned for just about popular social media site.

As the teacher, you can use Facebook to post homework assignments; this allows both students and parents to know what is expected for the next class. You could also use Facebook to share updates, changes, or humorous stories. Using Facebook could create a better classroom because it increases the feel of community and it creates communication between teachers and parents.

Although I don’t know much about Pinterest (but I hear it’s heaven for teachers), I learned you could use Pinterest as a show and tell for teachers and students to parents or you could pin student’s work and classroom projects.

Blogger could be used for many different purposes. Firstly, it could be used for writing practice because blogging requires students to map out their thoughts and express themselves. The student’s writing can also be shared with parents, classmates, and anybody else. Writing access can be restricted to the classroom and it creates a community feeling by providing a record of the year.

Finally, Twitter has an endless amount of uses in the classroom. Some I’ve learned about would be to give reminders – tests, assignment due-dates, field trips, conference, supplies needed, etc. Twitter can be used to give short, daily lesson recaps. It can be used to answer homework questions. Lastly, it connects students to other classmates and the teacher, which increases communication between teachers, parents, and students.

The blog post I looked at this week dealt with the topic of whether forcing a classroom of students to read certain books is a practical, good idea. I was personally interested in this blog post cause I remember reading Moby Dick during my junior year of high school, and I hated it. I read it everyday and didn’t appreciate the novel.

The author of the post starts off by giving an example of his 10-year-old daughter who loves reading. Before the daughter started her reading class this school year, she would read 50 to 60 books. Now that she has to read certain books for school, she reads far less, limiting what she reads to what is assigned. It’s ironic that her reading class is killing her natural interest in reading.

Some questions I always wondered through my school experience was why does every book I read have to be a classic. I also wondered who determines the books being read or when does a book become a classic? Why did we choose the classics we read in school? I used to constantly question the books my teachers assigned.

I think personal choice in reading material would greatly benefit all reading classrooms. Giving personal choice will naturally raise the motivation of the students to actually read. It also lets the students explore their own interests. I think teachers should have to approve of the books, but not dictate to the whole class what they must read.

3 Tweets and a Blog Post

The first tweet I found had a link to an article that laid out 5 tech tools that will encourage your students’ group learning in and out of the classroom. The first tool mentioned that I am already familiar with is Google Docs. Some of the features that make Google Docs a savior in the classroom are real-time editing and collaboration features. Google Docs forces students to work together and communicate about what they’re doing and learning. This gives them a chance to explain their work, edit, revise and publish together. The best part of all, it’s free.

Another tech tool mentioned in the article is an online discussion forum. Online discussion forums enable collaboration in class without making shy students participate in the traditional way. Forums also make it easy to continue the academic conversation outside of class. Students can find and share resources about the topic of discussion while they’re in class and when they go home.

The last tech tool I found interesting from the article was Audacity, which I’ve never heard of before. Audacity is a collaboration tool that allows students to work together while learning a new skill – how to record and edit themselves. Audacity gives each student a chance to explore language, but each student can insert their own voice, learning how it fits in with the voices of others. Audacity can be used as an alternative to traditional book reports or homework assignments.

The second tweet I found had a link to an article titled “How can Teachers Prepare Kids for a Connected World?” As I read this article which talked about the drastic changes in education, I thought about how our college classes exemplify these changes, which include technology-infused learning and participatory learning rather than passive listening. The article talked about how these changes don’t match how students and teachers are assessed.

In a Participatory Learning and You (PLAY) classroom, students are allowed to learn through games, and the students normally just throw themselves into these games without reading the rules. This allows for students to test the limits and they can feel free to try and fail and learn from that experience. However, this learning style won’t be optimized or at its best until assessment is lined up with how the students are learning. Assessment today is still ruled by high-stakes testing where there is no room for students to fail. Everything students do today goes on their academic record and students have become accustomed to only doing things they already know how to do without failure. The main theme of this article was that teachers need to be creative with their teaching and assessing methods so students keep an open/curios mind when it comes to learning. This will allow students to not look at failure like it’s a problem but rather a learning opportunity.

The last tweet I looked at had link to a YouTube video that discussed the basics and benefits of PARCC, and before I read this I didn’t even know what PARCC was. The video started about by showing the changes in education, which include new, rigorous standards in math and English Language arts. PARCC is the new assessment system that would evaluate students’ learning in this higher-expectation education system of today. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. PARCC is aligned to the state standards but also include the evaluation of skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.   PARCC will give two assessments, one during early spring and one during late spring. These assessments would take the place of old state tests. PARCC is an online assessment service so the video says it will engage students more and could better accommodate students with special needs. For schools without technology, PARCC has written forms of assessments.

In the language arts section of the test, students will read fiction and non-fiction passages and watched videos or listen to audios to answers questions on. In the mathematics section, students will answer multi-step problems and have to show and explain their work, sometimes in word form. The test data will be available in the same year that the tests are taken. The best benefits of PARCC is that the data can give insight to teachers who might need to tweak their instruction for certain students and the PARCC test data is comparable for students from different states.

This week I found a blog post off feebly by Educational Technology and Mobile Learning about “4 Great Youtube Channels that Provide Intelligent Content for Students.” The 4 channels listed feature educative videos ideal for inclusion in classroom instruction. Students can also use them independently to expand their knowledge and push the limits of their intellectual curiosity.

The first channel, which was highly rated, is Crash Course. Crash Course is run by John and Hank Green who provide some excellent video explanations and tutorials on a variety of academic topics. Some of these subjects that are explored are World History, Biology, Chemistry, and US History. The second channel listed in the blog was Minute Physics. This channel is extremely popular and has over 2 million subscribers. This channel features an enormous amount of professionally designed videos explaining different scientific phenomena. This channel explores a variety of topics, which include gravity, dark matter, or the uncertainty principle. Lastly, the channel that stood out to me the most was SciShow. This channel provides video explanations of challenging concepts. Some of these topics include Do Plant’s get cancer? How do fingerprints form? The science behind the blue/black or gold/white dress? I like this channel a lot because it explores some non-orthodox science questions that might not be brought in a formal classroom.

Learning about Technology through Feedly and Tweets!

This week on Feebly, I looked into a blog post that was titled “8 Good Youtube Channels for Teachers.” The videos from the post had to do with general education, for teachers who worked in a grammar, middle, or high school. I decided to look at this post because I am constantly on YouTube listening to music, but I never realized there was an enormous amount of channels geared towards teaching teachers. I also wanted to watch a couple of the featured videos on the channels the article mentioned. I’ll talk about the 3 channels that stood out to me.

The first channel I looked at was the “Big Think” channel. Big Think is the leading source of expert-driven, actionable, educational content. The channel has thousands of videos featuring experts such as Bill Clinton or Bill Nye (that science guy). The channel aims to help teachers explore the big ideas and core skills that define knowledge in the 21st century. Here is a video from the Big Think channel that you might find interesting (and ironic). 

The next channel that interested me was the “American Museum of Natural History” channel. It is founded by the museum, which was founded in 1869. The channel interprets and disseminated information about human cultures, the natural world and the universe. The channel, which features its exhibits in their videos, is renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections, which serve as a “field guide to the entire planet and present a panorama of the world’s cultures.”

The last channel that was mentioned in the article was “TED Talks.” A channel I have recently discovered and have gotten addicted to. TED Talks shares the best ideas from the TED Conference with the world, for free. The variety of topics talked about is unfathomable. You could watch a video about the autistic mind and then see a link to a TED talk on beat boxing, and so on. The TED Talk I watched while writing this blog was titled “David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 min.”

The first tweet I looked at had a link to an interview with Steve Wheeler, a professor at Plymouth University, about new technologies in the classroom. Firstly, Wheeler says he loves smartphones because they’re breaking down the classroom walls. He encourages his students to use them to interact with people who are beyond the classroom. Wheeler mentions using twitter to contact experts in the field who sometimes answers his students’ question while he is teaching a lesson. Wheeler is also a big fan of blogging (more Irony), he says the ability to share content and gain an audience for your work is very exciting because students are raising their game. He brings up the point that before when students wrote something, it was for one person. With a blog, the audience can be 1, 100, 1,000, 1,000,000,000 people. Students will pay more attention to how the reference their work and think more critically because their arguments must stand up against scrutiny and challenge.

Lastly, when Wheeler was asked what he thought the learning landscape will look like in 10-20 years, he said it’s impossible to predict what it will look like in 5 years, but he does have a guess. He says learning will be more game-based, both inside and outside traditional learning environments. He also says technology will become more wearable.

The next tweet I looked at had a link to an article titled “Tablets and Toddlers: How much is Too Much?” This article by Vicki Davis talks about an article by Patti Wollman Summers, a 30-year educator with experience in early childhood education. The main takeaway from this article is to take caution when using digital devices with toddlers. She cautions parents to use iPads, Smartphones, and tablets wisely. Summers called toddlers these days “DigiTods.” Summers feels that all children can use digital devices, using age appropriate apps and for a limited times. She recommends limiting use to 15 minutes at a time and not before bedtime. Some fo the apps she recommends includes “The Wheels on the Bus” app, the “It’s a Small World After All” app, and the “Kids Tapping Zoo” app.

The last tweet I looked at was about Nancie Atwell, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize (this was blowing up the educational twitter feed). She has taught English for forty years. She has a “writing-reading workshop” teaching style. She has her students choose the topics they want to write about as well as the books they want to read.” Nancie says, “Because they decide, they engage.” Nancie’s students read an average of 40 books every year.

Nancie is an innovator in the field of education. Nancie and her colleagues experiment with new ways of teaching and publish and present their finding widely. Nancie intends to donate the entire $1 million Global Teacher Prize to the Center for Teaching and Learning. She also intends to create a fund dedicated to keeping the libraries in her students’ classrooms stocked with the latest and best literature for her voracious readers.

Blog post and more Tweets!

This week I found a couple of interesting tweets that had to do with reflecting after a teaching a lesson, effective ways to have communication with parents, and why technology is important but can’t replace social learning.  The first tweet I’ll share my thoughts on is by Steven W. Anderson

In the article linked in this tweet, Chris Webb discusses a couple of amazing ways to keep in touch with your students’ parents. In the past, when I was in grade school, the teacher would rarely talk to the parents, and if they did, it was only about important events. This communication was also through sending something home with the student, through snail-mail, emails, or through phone calls.

Yet new technologies have allowed open communication and the ability to reach someone just about whenever you want. In this article, Webb talks about an online service called “Remind” which is a free service for teachers that allows messages to be sent out to a group of people known as a ‘class’. The teacher can share your class code and parents and/or students subscribe to your class. The messages sent by the teacher to the ‘class’ appear as a text message, app notification (iPhone or Android), or as an email. One tip for this app is to create two ‘classes’ for each group of students, one group for the parents and one group for the students. This way you are able to send messages to just the parents, just the students, or both.

In this second tweet, there is a link to an article titled “Being Digital Isn’t Just About Technology.”  In this article by Steven Anderson, a huge advocate for the ways technology can enhance modern education, Anderson points out some of the ways technology could negatively impact education, if teachers don’t understand technology’s limitations. The first item he brings up is that technology should never isolate us. Spending time with others is how we learn. Anderson says he is the “first person to tell you I use social media to make connections and learn with so many different people… but I will also tell you that nothing beats the face-to-face time I get to spend with people at conferences, meetings, or just over coffee.” This means we have to get out from behind the screen often and learn together and from each other. Secondly, Anderson emphasizes the importance of listening more than talking. As the class leader, we have to be willing to listen to ideas, suggestions, and complaints and use them to grow ourselves.

Lastly, Anderson says we have to “care for” our students, and this entails more responsibility than just “caring about” our students. We have to care not about our jobs or what we do. We have to care about who we are doing it for and this is kids. We have to always keep our kids in our best interest, so if it’s easier to do an assignment online, but the students won’t benefit or learn as much, it’s a great teachers initiative to do the extra in-person work to give the greatest learning opportunity to their students.

In this last tweet by Steven Anderson, there is a link to an article titled “Ten Reflective Questions to Ask at the End of Class.”  Firstly the article talks about why Reflection in the classroom is important. Reflection makes all if us self-aware. It challenges us to think deeply about how we learn and why we learn. Reflection deepens ownership; it makes things matter more because we become more sensitive to the personal connection that exists between our selves, our learning, and our work. Most importantly, reflection helps us advocate for ourselves and support others. Taking time to reflect enables us to identify what we want, what we need, and what we must do to help ourselves.

In the main part of the article, there are 10 key questions that are raised that should help anyone in any profession reflect. I will list a couple that stood out to me.

  • Reflect on your thinking, learning, and work today. What were you most proud of?
  • What is frustrating you? How do you plan to deal with that frustration?
  • What lessons were learned from failure today?
  • What are your next steps? Which of those steps will come easiest? Where will the terrain become rocky? What can you do now to navigate the road ahead with the most success?

I like how these reflection questions focus on the future, but make you realize where you struggled and failed. The people who have failed the most tend to have the most success in the end, and these questions make you face the truth of your teaching head-on. I’ll use these questions as a teacher to be honest with myself about where I succeeded and where I failed in my work with my students.

Response to a Blog Post:

As I looked through the many blog posts I could write about on Feedly, I found an article that stood out to me called “5 Great iPad Apps for Running Surveys and Polls in Class.” Surveys and Polls can serve a wide variety of educational purposes. As the teacher, you can use surveys to initiate quick formative assessments, gather informational feedback on students learning, run mock exams, learn about students interests, the progress of your class as a whole, and practically anything else you could want to know from your students.

In the special ed classrooms I’ve volunteered in I always notice the teacher has 3-5 iPads that students can use to play games to learn, take a break, to calm down, or just have fun. iPads are gaining a lot of attention in special ed classrooms and I think knowing some of these great apps would be really beneficial in my future classroom. The first app mentioned in the article is called AnswerGarden. In this app, the audience participation tool allows you to pose a question or a topic for your crowd to answer or comment on. The unique twist of AnswerGarden is that it cleverly combines the expression of the respondents’ own answers with a Twitter-like confinement of 20 characters and a representation in the form of a word cloud. The end result provides a quick overview of all answers, ranked in popularity, which can then be further analyzed and discussed.

Other survey apps mentioned in the article include “PollDaddy”, a simpler version of most survey apps. It’s generous screen size and easy to use interface make it easy for anyone being surveyed. The app “PollEverywhere” can be used to respond to polls, poll an audience, and as a PowerPoint clicker. The app “Survey Maker” allows you to get feedback in the moment. You can create simple surveys in seconds, collect responses on your iPad/iPhone, or you could poll via email, text, link, Twitter, or Facebook. As a special ed. teaher you could use whichever these apps that would be suit your students and allow them to respond in the way they like. These apps could be extremely useful in any classroom.

Technology and Twitter

The constant stream of ideas from experienced educators through twitter could be a huge asset to any beginner teacher. In the three tweets I found this week, one tweet predicted what the typical classroom of 2115 would look like, one tweet had helpful tips for anyone who isn’t already a whiz at Pinterest (I’m not yet), and the last tweet I found talks about the innovative designing app, Canva.

In the first tweet by Steven Anderson, Anderson links an article called “Talking Tech” which gives a summary of where education is going and what teachers need to be ready for. Earlier in our Sped 312 class, our instructor posed the question, “Do teachers have a choice whether to engage with technology?” I answered no in that first class period when that question was asked. At the start of the “Talking Tech” article, the author poses the same question, to which he answers that Technology is already so embedded in the fabric of schools, it’s unavoidable now. The article goes on to ask why wouldn’t teacher implement technology? Technology in the classroom has been shown to engage students and add, enhance, and enrich the learning experience. The question is not whether teachers should engage with technology, but how.

In the year 2115, the author, Steve Wheeler, says that technology will be paramount in the classroom. Traditional academic subjects will blend; students will be out in the world learning with the aid of technology. Children will learn new skills and literacies that will prepare them for a future we can’t clearly describe. Lastly, the article finishes by saying that teachers will always be around. Teachers will not be replaced by technology, but teachers who use technology will replace those who don’t.

In the second tweet that I found that has a link to Pinterest tips, I learned a lot about how Pinterest works. Some of the tips I found would save me a ton of time and probably show me more useful information. For example, I found out that I could follow a “super-teacher” on Pinterest and see everything that they pin, or I could follow one of her interesting pins and be shown more pins like the original pin I followed. You can create different boards where you could organize the items you pin. For example, you could have a board for technology in the classroom pins, or elementary reading projects pin, etc. Lastly, this article says to pin everything that catches your eye. If you are just scrolling through Pinterest, you can pin many items and review them later when you have more time. Since Pinterest has so much information and ideas, it’s better to pin everything and delete it later rather than pass it over and not be able to find it again. Teachers can uses Pinterest and all of these tips to find creative ways to engage students and assess their understanding of class materials.  Here’s a very helpful video on setting up a Pinterest account if you don’t have one yet. 

In the last tweet I found, I learned about an info graphic design app called Canva. “Canva is an elegant, simple to use platform that allows you to create graphics to share in presentations, on social media, and other places.” Canva has pre-made layouts where you can put pictures and text, then you can pick and customize a template where font colors change and images move. This part of Canva can be customized to your hearts content. When you are done creating and customizing, you can share your work directly on social networks or download as a PDF. Canva can add a whole different dimension to your classroom projects. Since there are so many templates and different features, students can create something personal to show their understanding.