Monday, July 14, 2014

Written Assignment

     Before we started this class, I did not define myself as a techno-constructivist. I still do not. But I am working on it. For many years now, I've wanted to have my own professional website. I never created one and I didn't know about the tools available to create one. When I found out about weebly and we saw the model a teacher created, I was very excited and I knew exactly what my project was about.
     I was looking for other teacher websites to get ideas on how the layout should be and on what information I should include. I had an idea of what I wanted to have on my website- a page for parents, a page for students- but I was wondering what else I should add to the website. I want it to be useful for parents and students alike.  It was hard to find one so I was on my own in terms of creating a website. Weebly was easy to use. I'm very proud of my website mostly because I did it myself and I think it would be useful source for parents and students. At the end of this course, we got to see some teacher-created websites that gave me some ideas about what else I should add to my website. As of right now, it's still in progress. I plan on working on it and making it better. I want to add a "For Teachers" page in addition to the other pages and add some facts about ELL students and how to support them in the classroom.
     I added other tools to my website so it would look/ make it more interesting and teach my students how to use these tools as well. One of my favorite tools is the timeline. One of the projects my students work on is on a book about their lives and it's very time consuming. I can see that some of my students aren't very excited about the project anymore because it's taking them so long to finish. I think that using the timeline as a project would be fun, less boring, and more interactive. My students would have a chance to practice some basic computer skills, which many of them lack of.
     My weebly website also has a blog page. I'm excited about this feature because I can see my students using it every day as we write on our journals every day. Sometimes, I have my students comment on each others' journal entries. I still need to work on that page a little more and see if it has the same capabilities that blogger has ( ability to hyperlink, add pictures, add video). It would be great if it did. My students would be excited to use not just words to convey their thoughts and ideas. They could use pictures and videos to express themselves.
     This class got me excited to start using more technology in the classroom. Also, it made me think of what that it would look like in my class. We do not have computers that work well. I usually bring my iPad and computer to class and let my students use it. I'm thinking of purchasing ChromeBooks for my classroom. I service a very small number of ELL students so I don't need many ChromeBooks. Our district is enforcing the students and teachers the idea of using Google Drive and is trying to get a ChromeBook to every student. Even with limited technology in the classroom, I know that my students have technology in their hands (smartphones) and at home. If I show my students how to use tools, they could work with it at home. My middle school students still get excited when they use their iPads or smartphones in the classroom. They also love to show us what they created on their phones. They could create projects that they'll be excited to show us because they get to use technology. When kids are excited about something, they'll learn.
     When I think about technology in the classroom, I think of how many teachers in my district resist using it in school. I think of the comments teachers say when the dismissal bell rings and the kids walk out  of the hallways with their phones on. As we learned about Michael Wesch's idea on technology and how integral it is in our students' lives, I kept thinking about how many teachers in my building react to using computers, Elmos, and Google Drive- they hate it. I don't blame them. With the push and stress of the Common Core Standards, they feel they don't have time to use and then teach how to use technology to students. They feel that it's a burden. But technology is an essential part of our lives and if our students don't get in the routine of using technology, they'll be at a disadvantage. Also, they'll be bored, not interested, and wondering why they need to learn about the different types of rocks, for example. If they use technology to find out about why there are so many different rock types, I think it would motivate them to learn and they would learn, too.
I also think about Sugata Mitra and how the kids from the slums figured out how to use a computer. If the kids who never used a computer can teach themselves how to use a computer, I think our students can teach themselves how to use technology. His TED talk was so inspiring. To ease the teachers' anxiety and refusal to use technology, maybe I should share these ideas with them. I also think that many teachers realize that they're still needed in the classroom because they hold the power, the knowledge. Not anymore. Knowledge is out there, everywhere on the web. We are no longer the sources of knowledge and we need to learn how to be the facilitators of knowledge so our students know how to retrieve appropriate knowledge. This is a challenge for so many teachers who are used to be in the front of the classroom and lead the lesson. It is a challenge for me. And I like this challenge.

Here's my self evaluation. Have a great summer and thank you for an

excellent class!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


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Monday, July 7, 2014

Connecting with technology

    Turkle and Wesch give us two different perspectives on media and technology. Wesch demonstrates how the use of media and technology has changed our culture and how powerful it can be. He shows how you can use media and technology in a critical way, beyond just a social connection between people.Turkle looks at the art of conversation and how our society is losing it because of our need to feel connected and not alone.
    I think that both Turkle and Wesch present us valid points when it comes to media and technology. The art of conversing with others has been disappearing and being replaced by relationships that have been created on a virtual world. This shift has happened because it is human nature to communicate with one another and to feel that someone is listening and validating your thoughts. You can get this when you communicate on social media, creating an illusion of companionship, like Turkle mentions. I can see that on my FB feed. There's always a group of people who are constantly on FB, posting thoughts, ideas and people respond to that. When I get a notification, I can't wait to see what it is. I want to see who has liked or not liked what I posted. I feel like it's an obsession and it is hard to get away from FB. Thanks to FB, I've connected with many peoples and communities. I've found out about events and I have learned about my friends. I, however, could not trust a relationship that was created purely on FB. Maybe it's because I'm a digital immigrant. I enjoy having conversations face to face and, at the same time, I enjoy having connections and dialogues on social media. I try to find a happy place where my relationships are not just virtual or person-to -person, but in between those two. In the middle, just right.

    Wesch's video was quite powerful! We have been discussing how our students should become producers rather that just the receivers of knowledge and Wesch demonstrates just that. In today's world, we can connect with anyone around the world and our message can be heard. The video about Dove and Unilever was an example of how your message can be heard and how it can lead to change. I remember when the revolution in Egypt happened a few years ago. The news bombarded FB and I could see what was happening there because some of my FB friends who live there could report what was happening. They became the journalists, the reporters. I don't think I could have gotten the same news experience thru CNN news.
Wesch presents teachers with a challenge. We are used to teaching a certain way, the way our teachers taught us. We are comfortable with it are we are good at it. Shifting from "knowledgeable" from "knowledge- able" classrooms is crucial. If we want our kids to be ready for our world, they need to see how powerful they can be using technology critically.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gender Stereotypes

Melissa, Christina, and I worked on our gender stereotype project that you can check it out here.


I came across this Edutopia article that suggests several media tools we can use in the classroom!
Check it out!

Girls, Worms, and Body Image by Kate Lyman

Kate Lyman gives examples of classroom experiences when she explored the idea of gender stereotypes among her 2nd and 3rd grade students.

Main Idea:
- Women and body image: pursue to look like the models in magazines.
- Male and females still have the same gender expectation of 60 years ago: women have the major responsibility to take care of the children and the house while men get higher pay in their jobs.

Details/ Elaboration:
** Barbie manufacturers made her with tiny waist and big boobs, long and skinny legs, arms, and neck, and tiny feet. Barbie advertising sends this hidden message that a woman should look like barbies and that women want to look like her, hoping that men would like them better.

** Ads on women's magazines also have a hidden message: If you consume a product (cosmetics, perfume, cigarettes, weight loss) you will look like a model.

** Lyman created an old fashioned school day in her classroom where boys and girls were treated differently: girls wore dresses and boys wore slacks and shirts with collars; chairs and desks were in rows; students followed an "old-fashioned" schedule (hand writing, spelling bees, rote math, and textbook science); lines were divided based on gender; boys were treated differently from girls when it came to classroom participation and work.
This exercise made the boys and girls alike to think critically about their treatment: girls were upset at how Lyman treated them and the boys enjoyed all the attention and slack they received. In addition, boys and girls could learn how to be aware of other forms of gender discrimination in other situations.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Disney Princes and Princesses

     As I was reading Linda Christensen's chapter, I kept thinking about my childhood and if she was right about this "secret education" we receive when we watch princess movies. I didn't watch the classic Disney movies but I have an idea of what they're all about. I remember watching The Little Mermaid and how Ariel fell in love with Prince Eric. I remember how embarrassed she was of being a mermaid and how she had to change her body and hoping he could fall in love with her. How crazy is this idea? When I was a kid, I didn't think of it that way. I wasn't mature enough to critically think about what I was watching and no one ever discussed this idea with me. Coming from a patriarchal family and culture, there was nothing wrong with watching princess cartoons. When I speak about The Little Mermaid's "secret education", I can also think of other Disney movies (Pocahontas, Aladdin) where the female characters are wild and adventurous and need to be "tamed". Then, their main goal is to find a man/ prince and marry him. There's nothing more to the princesses' lives.
     After watching Brave, it looks like Disney has taken a closer look at how they were illustrating women thru their prince/princess characters. It was refreshing to watch a Disney princess movie with such an adventurous girl who had a mind of her own and fought for what she believed in. The story was focused on a daughter-mother relationship rather that the usual, conventional prince- princess relationship. Although the cartoon was quite stereotypical (how the baker looked like, how the clan members looked like and how they behaved), it was more realistic. There are cultures where marriage is important and parents are involved in the process; in other cultures, one doesn't marry for love but to strengthen ties between families; the lord's sons looked more like regular kids, not as these sexy, muscular, pretentious males; the girl was really good at something (archery, in this case) that the boys weren't.
     Disney movies portray this unreal, utopian (maybe to some, not to all) idea of what the world is like: what people should be/look like, what relationships look like, and how communities are like. As kids grow up and watch TV, they'll realize that this portrayal of Disney "reality" is totally different. Today's TV is full of reality shows that do not portray what reality is again. If we look at the Kardashian's TV show, it "sounds" real, but how many people in the US alone live that lifestyle? Very small group of people.
     Thinking about what I can do with this learning, I can see how important it is to have these discussions with our students- not with just the girls, but with the boys as well. I teach in a middle school. Most kids have watched these cartoons and probably this "secret education" has been instilled in their brains. If we have discussions of what the Disney characters represent,  teachers can help develop students' ideas on these matters and start engaging students into start thinking critically about the text they're exposed to.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Digital Native-- Boyd, Prensky, Wesch

     Dana Boyd points out very interesting ideas about technology and our youth: just because our students are born in a digital world where they're digital natives, it doesn't mean that they know how to critically examine it. It's not even about our youth not knowing how to use the technology. Because of their curiosity, they would be able to figure it out by trial and error. The fact that our students aren't able to evaluate the information they receive individually is the bigger problem. She explains how teachers tend to de-value Wikipedia as an unreliable source of information and Google as a good source of information but we never teach our students to question both sources of information and why one is considered a good one or a bad one.  Teachers should be teaching our students to question both website's source of accuracy and credibility. She mentioned how we, as teachers, can take a website like Wikipedia and teach our "youth to interrogate sources of information and understand how information is produced".
     I never thought of it that way. I'm one of those teachers who tells her students to not use Wikipedia because anyone can edit the website and we aren't sure if those sources are credible. I agree with Boyd. I can see how important it is to teach our students, the "digital natives", to question the information they receive in the digital world. Critical thinking should be a taught skill in any classes and in everyday life, not just when students interact with digital- and non digital- information.
     Thinking about Mark Prensky, he raises such an important point. Kids are so involved with technology and if we are not teaching them in a unconventional way, we are not engaging them. It's important that we facilitate the use of technology in our classrooms if we want to engage our students.
     In addition, I  agree with Michael Wesch's message. The digital world has changed and we cannot ignore it. In addition to linking information, the web also links people. As we step into the digital world, we need to rethink about ourselves and how we define our ideas about certain things. One that got my attention was he stated we needed to rethink our idea of friends. I keep thinking about our social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Personally, I never thought I would still be connected with my friends from Sao Miguel. As a dancer, I have expanded my network of other dancers and get to know them in both the virtual and in the real world. I know of what my friends are doing and I know of what events are happening around the area and in the community. This is a fascinating shift.
   Digital natives still have a lot to learn about how to use technology and how to critically examine the information we encounter in the digital world. I am a digital immigrant, I know. Sometimes I feel that I'm not and that I know more about technology and how to examine its sources than my students, the digital natives.

Digital Native or Digital Immigrant- #2

I would like to think that I'm a digital native but I'm a digital immigrant. I grew up with very limited technology and since I moved to the US and technology became such an integral part of society, I've been drawn to technology. Whenever there's an opportunity to learn about new ways to use and explore technology, I'm in. Whenever there's a chance to integrate technology in the classroom, I'm willing to try it. Because students spend a good chunk of their lives at school, I feel that technology should be taught in our schools. It should be integrated in math, science, english, social studies, music, and art classes. I feel we are doing a dis-service to our students when we do not give the opportunity to learn technology in the classrooms.
This link gives us some ideas on how to make technology part of our classrooms.
This article teaches us how to engage students with iPods. So many of my students have iPods or iPads.
This is an interesting article that explains how blogger and blogging has been integrated in the curriculum and how 5th graders use it in their classrooms.
Lastly, this article describes the benefits of technology in the classroom. They call it "blended learning".

If videos are the way to go with you, here's a video that explains how to integrate technology in the classroom.

Introduction- #1


I'm Cristina (with no "h") and I live in Providence. I've lived in Rhode Island for 14 years now. Before that, I lived -and was born-  in Sao Miguel, Azores.  I have a love- hate relationship with Rhode Island. I love the summers and falls, but the winters in New England are quite dreadful. Cold and snowy weather isn't for me.
So far, this summer has been great! I have been working on my graduate courses and I've had time to relax at home and at the beach. I've been catching up on TV shows. My favorite one right now is Orange is the New Black.
When I'm not teaching ESL in West Warwick or taking classes at RIC, I'm outside running or I'm at the gym. In addition to that , I take belly dance classes during the week.  I also perform solo or with a belly dance troupe I'm part of. Dancing is an important part of my life.