Saturday, July 12, 2014

Diigo Powerpoint and Evidence

Diigo Class Presentation

Diigo Evidence

Main Page after logging into Diigo account

 My Lists

Sample Lists with Bookmarked URLS

Technology List

Classroom Management List

 My Group- Cool Tools for Educators

Media Literacy Final Project

Media Literacy Final Project
Diigo & Technology

I have often heard people say that technology can be a blessing and a curse, and both sides can be correct. In the case of my final project, technology is a blessing that will make my resources more accessible and organized. As soon as we were informed of the final project, I knew I either wanted to create a website or use an organizational tool. At first, I had no idea that organizational tools like Diigo, Evernote, and LiveBinder existed. I do not know how I have been teaching for six years without hearing about these amazing tools. After deciding to focus on organization, I planned on using Pinterest because I frequently get ideas from it, despite being resistant to create an account. Initially I thought it was another social media site like Twitter where people just share what they are doing and I was hesitant to get sucked into another social media site. However when Pinterest was discussed in class, I figured I would try it and this project would be my excuse to join. When classmates and Dr. Bogad suggested other organizing websites, I decided to try something new rather than following the Pinterest trend and landed on Diigo.

Diigo was a great tool for me to explore because it provides me with a variety of ways to store, organize, and collect information. Since I will be starting a new job in the fall, I almost feel as if I am getting my first teaching job. The job is going to require me to be creative, gather research, and plan engaging lessons that will keep twelve “underachieving” students with learning challenges motivated and excited to learn. As is, I already search the web for materials when I have to teach reading groups or do individual tutoring, so I know I will be using it more frequently. Diigo is the perfect tool because I can bookmark all of the websites and articles that I find into different categories known as My Lists. I can also include a description with each website so I remember what I liked about it and can even highlight or sticky note the information so it is easier to find. I am hoping this tool will help me in working smarter rather than harder!
With the technological changes in our society it is necessary to learn the digital knowledge and skills that surround us. Tools like Diigo, Pinterest, Evernote, and Livebinder make organizing ideas and resources much easier and almost essential in today’s busy world. Cell phones, iPads, and laptops are also useful and a daily must for some. Without these tools, people would continue to have information scattered all of their computer, workplaces, and homes.  In addition, these tools are beneficial for people who struggle with organization due to learning and executive functioning challenges. If I knew about Diigo last year, I would have used it with my students when they had to collect sources for research papers. To remember the sources for future use, we either printed the articles or emailed the weblinks to each other. With the increasing demands that are put on people and the expectation to multitask, digital technology is a tool that can enhance learning, organization, and sharing of information. Besides being used for organization, technology can be used to engage and motivate learning. Students would rather watch a video or online presentation, than hear their teacher talk. Technology accesses all learners because it can combine visual, auditory and hands on learning. Technology makes learning realistic and fun, thus keeping students more engaged. When technology is used in the class, learning can be extended because materials can be used to further comprehension and deepen understanding. Why read about volcanoes when you can watch videos about them and tour the country all from your class? Technology enables students to see beyond what they know and connect with others.

Prior to this course, I viewed technology as a useful tool but did not necessarily consider it a must know for all. Yes, technology is important for me, students, and businesses, but I did not think it was a skill that needed to be required. After reading and watching the class text and listening to discussions, I realized that I am wrong. Boyd, Prensky,Wesch, Sugata Mitra, and Turkle have helped me to realize that technology is here and those who do not have the skills will suffer. Today’s jobs thrive on the use of technology and without instruction on how to use it and exposure to digital vocabulary, people will struggle in the school and work setting. I particularly liked how Wesch used the term “knowledge-able” in his TED talk. Many people consider themselves to know how to use technology however it does not mean that they have the skills to analyze, criticize and create information. Students and all people alike need to be taught the critical thinking and vocabulary involved with technology and not just the tools that are fun or simplify life. As Amy said in class, the digital world is coming fast (like a subway train) and WE all need to learn it fast.  These set of skills are a necessity to the world that continues to evolve around us and the responsibilities that will be required of people regardless of being a stay at home mom, teacher, or a business executive.

Despite the push for technology, I believe it is pertinent for us to accept technology but also create boundaries for it. According to Turkle, technology is a useful tool but can negatively impact communication among children, adults, colleagues and families. With this new digital age, people are stuck to their smart phones and often forget about the pleasures of physical communication and interaction. Looking ahead, this is something that I fear with my future children. Most of us grew up enjoying the outdoors and playing with others, but many children today are growing up with iPads and other digital gadgets. These things are wonderful educational tools but I worry that children will become attached to technology and lose interest in the world around them. This is something that I know I will face not only as a parent one day but also as a teacher.

As a techno-traditionalist, my worries around technology are ones that I will deal with when the time comes. I know that I will have to teach my children, students, and self the importance of “unplugging” from technology to enjoy life and it’s treasures. Moving ahead into my new teaching position, I am ready to be more accepting of technology and find ways to use it in the classroom. I will be working with underprivileged students at a low performing school, therefore it is essential for me to prepare my students for the digital world they are going to continue growing up in. I think this job will force me to learn new technological skills and move towards being techno-constructivist. Technology is here to stay and we need to embrace it. 


Narrative about project idea, process, and importance

How tech enhances or changes content


Draws from at least 3 course themes, text, issues


Demonstrates a new skills/knowledge

5 hyperlinks

Writing style

Writing skills

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Visuwords: Online Graphical Dictionary

While exploring Diigo I joined a group called Cool Tools for Teachers and came across a link for a visual dictionary and thesaurus. You type in a word and visual map will appear that lists synonyms for the word. The words are connected by color coded lines and a key explains what each color or type of line means. This tool would be best for older students.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Turkel v. Wesch

What is the relationship between Turkle and Wesch? Do you see them as allies, or opponents in this discussion of new media and technology?
Both Turkle and Wesch introduced valuable points regarding the impact of technology on humans and relationships.  They have some similarities but for the most part seem to have opposing ideas. Turkle and Wesch both agree that technology is distracting humans. Turkle views the distractions as personal interactions with others while Wesch explains the distraction as occurring more in the classroom.

In Turkle’s article, she is argues that technology is interfering with human communication. Due to the improvements in technology and the devices that people do not leave home without, we have become a society that accepts the idea of being “alone together.” Turkle explains that people are comfortable being in their own little bubble because they can use devices (cell phone, iPad, etc) to connect with others. As a result, people can control their interactions with others and decide if they want to be very social by connecting online or through text, or seclude themselves. The problem with this is that people don’t fully get to know one another because they minimize their communication when texting/using social media, and don’t get to hear the tone or nuances in a person’s voice. Without face to face conversations, communication is compromised and can be misinterpreted. In addition to this downfall, technological people turn to digital devices when they want to be heard. With 3,000 friends someone is bound to respond to a status/comment. Turkle continued to argue that people are drawn to technology because it resembles a type of companionship that allows people to be heard, direct attention where they want it, and minimize loneliness.

Turkle encourages adults to teach kids how to separate themselves from technology. She urges adults to inform kids on how to be alone so they don’t feel lonely. Kids and adults have a tendency to automatically reach for a device when they are alone because they feel the need to connect. There’s something important about people knowing how to entertain themselves outside of their digital devices. Turkle also suggests that families establish rules such as “device free zones” in the car or dining room so kids can learn the importance of conversation. Both kids and adults need to consider the technology that the use and find ways to minimize digital conversations by having more personal face to face interactions.

Unlike Turkle, Wesch’s TED talk focuses on preparing youth for the digital world that is ahead. He sees digital devices as disruptions in the classroom because the devices allow easy connection, quick information, and the ability to share, network, or publish. Wesch explains how these skills are accessible to most youth however it does not mean that they are knowledge-able, meaning they know how to analyze, criticize, and create information.  Wesch also explains how the students he teaches are often seeking meaning for their life, however this is interrupted by the media that surrounds them.
Wesch is in favor of teaching students the technological/digital skills that they will need. Students need to be taught how to think critically so they can develop their own ideas and not take on what they see on TV, online, or in advertisements. They also need to be taught how to  embrace real world problems, gather research, discuss with others, and use relevant tools to share their knowledge. Digital tools and devices are wonderful tools that can enhance learning if used properly. To support this idea Wesch explained the “new media world” and provided examples or creativity that are occurring through media. People are creating virtual choirs, alert websites, and videos that are spreading positive messages throughout the world. Media and technology are good tools, as long as they are used appropriately and balanced with daily interactions.

Overall, I can relate to both Turkle and Wesch. I was happy to read Turkle’s article because I at times find myself reaching for my phone rather than embracing moments of solitude. It’s a habit that most of us need to break and I was thankful for the information that Turkle provided. I also enjoyed Wesch’s TED talk because I agree with him that technology is a skill that needs to be taught to our students and children. If we teach youth how to use digital devices and media to think critically, find reliable information, analyze information, and form their own opinions, then we are giving them skills that will enable them to be knowledge-able in the world that is ahead.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Six, Going on Sixteen

Six Going on Sixteen
Fighting "age compression" and the commercialization of childhood
by Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin

In this chapter, McLaughlin explains the experiences that she had in her kindergarten and first grade looping class. She noticed five and six year olds talking about MySpace, vying for the attention of the "cool kids," and dancing like the people in music videos during games like Freeze dance. In addition, "My 5-, 6-, and 7- year-olds played out and talked about "being in the club" and "drinking Heineken" (Marshall and Sensoy p 36). McLaughlin continued to explain how these young children already labeled one another as being "in" or "out" due to clothing and knowledge of pop culture. If children wore the name brand clothes advertised on TV and knew the songs on the radio, then they were "cool", but for those who had or knew neither were not. For example, McLaughlin often had a male kindergarten student have meltdowns in class because other boys made fun of his sneakers. She also described a situation that occurred on the school bus when her class was going on a field trip to the farm. At first all of the students on the bus were excited and talking about the farm but then the bus driver put the radio on and within minutes "the mood on the bus changed dramatically" (Marshall and Sensoy p 38). Children started looking around on the bus to see who else knew the song that was playing and those were the children they wanted to associate with. As a result of her experiences, McLaughlin argues that mainstream media has a negative effect on our young students and is taking away their opportunity to fully enjoy their childhood.

McLaughlin's observation influenced her to take action against the  mainstream media her students were exposed to. She established classroom rules, re-structured partners so students has to work with others who they normally did not interact with, held lunch meetings with the girls in her class and school counselor, connected with mothers and grandmothers, and brought back former students so they could share their positive experiences. To further develop her knowledge and strategies for her class, McLaughlin decided to take a two day summer course called Media Madness: The Impact of Sex, Violence, and Commercial Culture on Children and Society. The class taught her that "the corporate world deliberately targets vulnerable children" (Marshall and Sensoy p39). As a result, child development experts collaborate with advertisers in order to promote merchandise for the correct developmental stage ( Marshall and Sensoy p39). The term "age compression" was also introduced and explains how children at younger ages are acting and dressing like older children because the media is influencing their decisions. "There is a blurring of boundaries between children and adults, as demonstrated by the similarities in clothing marketed to both groups by the fashion industry" (Marshall and Sensoy p39). When school began again in the fall, Laughlin found ways to let her students be children through creative play. She taught students how to interpret facial expressions and words of others, was more explicit with lessons, added dolls to the dress up area,  acted out scenarios for her students, and also taught them how to create entertainment. Her students learned to play and pretend, which many were not used to. One student said, "It was hard to get the pretending into me. Once I started it felt good"  (Marshall and Sensoy p42). The chapter argued that media linked toys/TV cause children to imitate what they see rather than create, which leads to unsatisfying play  (Marshall and Sensoy p42). 

Aside from classroom initiatives, McLaughlin worked with her colleagues at school to challenge the issue. The school organized a game night which let families "unplug" from the media they were used to and it was enjoyed by many. They also prepared for and celebrated National Turnoff Week to promote the idea of not watching TV. The event allowed teachers and students to brainstorm alternatives to watching TV, have discussions on why the event was occurring, and talk about how media impacts peoples' lives. Families enjoyed the event and "some parents noticed their children slept better and were thinking about keeping the screen entertaimment off during the weekdays" (Marshall and Sensoy p44). Through her efforts, McLaughlin reminded her students how to be kids and appreciate the simple pleasures of life.
When skimming through the list of chapters in Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, I was interested by many of the options but decided to focus on this chapter because of my future position at an elementary school. I was curious to read about the challenges that I may face working with younger children as a result of the media around them. At first I thought much of the chapter was putting a negative connotation on media, however after I realized that it was the media that is used for entertainment. I thought McLaughlin discussed relevant points regarding children not knowing how to be children. I recall running around outside and playing house as a kid, as opposed to some children I see today watching TV, playing video games, or on the i Pad. Children today are very reliant on technology and if it fails, they do not know what to do. As an educator, I think it is partly my responsibility to teach my students how to use technology for learning purposes but also encourage them to be creative and think critically without it. Classrooms today need to find a balance between technology and the "pre-technology" world. Children need to see, explore, touch, and create besides just doing it all on a computer. Pop culture isn't the only cause of the troubles that our youth face, however as educators and parents we need to "protect them from the corporate world that forces them to grow up too soon" (Marshall and Sensoy p45).

6 Going on 21.....Growing up wayyyy to soon. Check it Out!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Disney Culture

Growing up, I mainly watched Disney movies when I went to visit family. I only owned one real Disney VHS, The Lion King, partly because my mom didn't see the purpose in owning movies. My brother is four years older than me so by the time I was old enough to remember watching movies, most of them were not Disney but instead ones that he enjoyed watching such as Ninja Turtles, Free Willy, Karate Kid. All of my cousins on the other hand owned tons of Disney movies, something I was always a bit envious of.

In thinking back to the Disney movies, I was particularly fond of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. As discussed in "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us," I too admired these two princesses for their beautiful appearance- blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin. Every girl wanted to be them but only some resembled the ideal princess look. Princess Jasmine was the first princess that I felt like I could relate to because of her dark hair and olive color skin tone. Besides instilling the idea of what "beauty" looked like, these Disney movies along with others (The Little Mermaid is another favorite!), also taught the idea of a woman winning the heart of a prince, falling in love, and living happily ever after. Although we all would love life to be so is not and these movies have somewhat set high expectations for many. Often I have heard from friends, family members, and have probably said it myself that it is important to find love and live "happily aver after." Yes these are important yet a bit unrealistic. Love is possible, being happy is possible, but life is not always like the stories we see in the Disney movies.

Before starting this class I never would have questioned the concepts and messages in Disney movies. I thought the movies had great stories with messages of kindness, romance, and happiness. In analyzing the movies, I am starting to wonder how the secret messages may have influenced the person I have become. This curiosity was brought up in Christensen's article when a student questioned the impact that media had on her identity. "It can be overwhelming and discouraging to find out my whole self-image has been formed mostly by others or underneath my worries about what I look like are years of being exposed to TV images of girls and their set roles given to them by TV and the media" (Christensen p192). This student brought up a good point and the fond memories of Disney are now being questioned and thought about more critically. Disney is the main movie selection that young children see, however all media watched by children can influence morals, ideas, and values.

Brave was the first Disney movie to change the goals of a princess from love to freedom. Unlike the other movies, Princess Merida wants more than anything to be free, go on adventures, use her bow and arrow, and do other things that are often associated with men. It was inspiring to see a princess not fall into the same rut as every other one...marry a prince, have children, always look beautiful, and be perfect. The message throughout the movie was a very positive one that showed viewers that no one is perfect and even royalty can make mistakes (ex. Merida apologizing to her mom at the end of the movie). The movie ended strong with Merida saying, "Fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it" (Brave). Due to women empowerment and the changes that have occurred over the decades, I think we are going to start seeing new Disney and movies for children that portray independent woman who aspire for more out of life than just love. In addition to the positive women role models, I am also hoping that the characters will be more diverse in regards to culture, skin color, socioeconomic status, and gender.

Overall, I am grateful for the role Disney had in my upbringing. Despite having some possible negative effects on self esteem, the movies taught children the idea of having a dream and not giving up on it, that everyone deserves to be loved, and the importance of family and friends. Not to mention, most Disney movies have some catchy and unforgettable songs.  Even though I have reservations about the messages in Disney movies, I will not keep them from my niece or future children. I think it is important for children to be exposed to these movies that have become part of our culture but even more important is for parents/adults to discuss the movies with the children. The discussion that follows can help children understand that life isn't a fairy tale and the movies aren't real. By having these conversations, rather simple or in depth, children will be able to understand that all women are beautiful regardless of size, skin color, or status; that men don't have to be muscular and strong; and that marrying a prince doesn't guarantee a perfect life.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Where do you stand on the “digital native” terminology?

What do you make of the divergent positions of Boyd, Prensky and Wesch? Where do you stand on the “digital native” terminology?

I find the "digital native" perspectives of  Boyd, Prensky and Wesch interesting. Boyd seems to believe  that just because today's teens are born into a digital age, it doesn't mean that they are necessarily born with technological skills. He explained that many teens may engage in technology by using media or social sites, however they don't have the natural knowledge of technology. The knowledge that they have is for connecting with others rather than truly navigating and understanding technological processes such as code. The tech skills that teens have are ones that are learned over time through demonstrations, research, and practice.It was additionally noted that more privileged teens are usually the ones to have more digital experiences. People can be born in a digital age, yet may not have native experiences or knowledge due to socioeconomic status, family, culture, etc.  Aside from discussing "digital natives," Boyd also acknowledged the fact  "digital immigrants" can become computer/tech literate through hard work.

Prenzky on the other hand thinks that students today think differently because of the technology that they have been exposed to and thus are "digital natives." He thinks this tern should be used because these students have  a digital vocabulary that is new to many adults. Prenzky's ideas differ from Boyd because he believes being born into the digital era makes a person a "digital native." Wesch also acknowledged the fact that technology has a vocabulary, process, and mind of its own. Unlike the others, Wesch did not identify his ideas of a "digital native" but the ideas included in his video demonstrated knowledge that is learned by people through instruction, self teaching, or playing around with technology. The interesting thing with Wesch is that he identified "us" as the machines, meaning we have the power and knowledge to learn.

After viewing these sources, I most agree with the ideas of Boyd. I understand Prenzky's thought behind the new vocabulary that today's students are exposed to but just because people are born into this new digital era doesn't mean they will automatically be a "digital native." To me a "digital native" is someone who is familiar with a variety of digital terms,knowledge and processes, beyond that of social media. Just because students can navigate FaceBook and Twitter, doesn't mean that they should be considered "digital natives."Employers want people who are knowledgeable with a variety of programs (Microsoft Office, Google Docs), apps, and networking sites. Saying someone is a "digital native" can make employers/professionals assume that the person is more technologically skilled than they really are. Overall, I believe if motivated and given the opportunity, most people can become "digital natives."