Monday, April 14, 2014

Finding Forrester

Finding Forrester is the kind of film that gets you to think. The story revolves around two characters: William Forrester and Jamal Wallace. William Forrester is a great writer who only published one book, and lives hidden away from the world in an apartment. The other is Jamal Wallace, a high school student that is a great basketball player with a hidden talent for writing. They befriend one another and their friendship helps them to overcome their fears. William learns to no longer be a recluse and Jamal learns to overcome his racial prejudices and pursue his dream of writing.

Along with William and Jamal, one of the other characters was Professor Crawford. He was the English professor at the prep school Jamal attended, and was the person who believed in him the least. Professor Crawford feed into the racial prejudices that surround many students. Watching the film, I could not imagine being the type of teacher to disbelieve in a student’s abilities because of their race. Professor Crawford does not believe that Jamal can write such extraordinary pieces, mainly due to the fact that he is an African American student from Bronx. Jamal is unequally treated by his teacher at school, but outside of school he has William who pushes him to do greater things. William helps him to develop his talents in writing, and pushes him to do better, rather than excepting what he can currently do.

This film has shown me the type of teacher I should be and the type of teacher I should not be. I should not be like Professor Crawford, the type of teacher who bases a student’s abilities based upon how they look and where they live. A teacher who just thinks their students fall into the stereotypes they are and can achieve no higher, and when they do question their abilities. A teacher should develop a student’s talents, not push them down. I should be like William, who sees past Jamal’s race and life situations. He pushes him to become a better writer and shows him new ways to expand this writing process and abilities. I want to be this type of teacher that sees each student for what they can become, and push them towards that goal. I want to help push them to explore new things/new ideas, and to develop their talents.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Teaching with the Rules for Engagement

Today many of our students are faced with poverty, and it is a duty of the teacher to help them to become successful. Classrooms have more diversity within them and poverty is a huge diversifying factor. “There are seven factors that affect children in poverty are: health and nutrition, vocabulary, effort and energy, mind set, cognitive capacity, relationships, and stress level” (Jensen 2009). Jensen is right on track with these areas that children of poverty are faced with, and these are the areas that students are focused on when learning is supposed to be occurring.

Health and nutrition is very important to student success; not eating and drinking properly, can really affect how one thinks and their ability to concentrate and receive information. Many families in poverty do not have the resources to have the right about of food and water, and thus impacts student’s brain development. Health also connects to effort and energy. We get our energy from eating and the types of food we eat. Many people in poverty do not always have access to the healthiest food choices. This can slow them down, and not just physically but more mentally. Therefore, their brains are less receptive to the information that they are learning. All of these factors relate to a student’s cognitive capacity and how successful they can be / want to be.

As a teacher, there are five Rules of Engagement that should be focused on to help improve success of student’s in poverty. These factors include: “upgrading your attitude, building relationships and respect, getting a buy in, embracing clarity, and showing your passion” (Jensen). Teachers need to find ways to incorporating these areas into their teaching to help engage students within their classroom, so that they can see past their struggles for a couple hours a day. First, a teacher needs to upgrade their attitude and show students that it is okay not to be perfect and to keep a positive attitude when you think you have failed. Next, teachers need to build relationships and a sense of respect with the students. In order to have respect, you must give respect and this is something teachers struggle with. Often teachers feel that since they are the “boss” of the classroom that they automatically have respect, but one really has to start by showing their students respect and then they will follow. Sharing a little bit about your life with your students helps them to connect to you as a person, not as just an authority figure.

Teachers also need to offer incentives to their students to challenge them to do their best and work hard, thus creating a buy in. Teachers can challenge students to use their imagination and expand their thinking; also make assignments that fit their skills and needs so that they can feel that sense of accomplishment. This also ties into embracing clarity and teaching students at their level and not confusing them. Express directions in clear simple directions and with fewer words, making sure they fully understand. Lastly, teachers should show their passion. They should focus on the students, remain positive throughout the day, and interact with them personally.

As teachers we need to be aware of our students and of their needs, and what we can do to help them. It is important to get to know your students to help reach this goal. Teachers need to reach out to the children that they often call down or ignore. We need to find ways that can help the students succeed in every way possible and make their learning experience one to remember.


Jensen, E. (2009). Retrieved from

Jensen, E. (2013). Rules for Engagement. In Engaging students with poverty in mind: Practical strategies for raising achievement (pp. 20-33). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Poverty in the Classrooms

percent_in_povertyWhen thinking about the meaning of poverty I think about the people and families that do not have homes; about how they do not have the necessary food, shelter, and clothing. However there are other types of poverty that stem from finical poverty; emotional, mental, physical, and support system. Students that are living in poverty are often the students that teachers tend to not want to be around, because of poor hygiene, or because those students are considered “troublemakers.” Although, I feel that these are the students that might need the most love and attention. They need to see that there is someone who cares for them and wants to help them succeed. The placement that I am in this year for student teaching has really shown me the affects of poverty on students.

I have had the pleasure to be in two classes at the same school and same grade level, and the two classes could not be more different. I knew being in a non-Title I school, this year, would be a change from the schools I have been to before and the school I grew up in. My first class, this year, had only two students that I would consider to be in low-income poverty situations; the other students I would say were mostly middle class. This class has three Exceptional Children and the class has a wide range in achievement levels. My second class, this year, has a handful of students who I would consider to be in low-income poverty situations. This class is also lower overall and has approximately eight Exceptional Children in the class. Looking at these two classes and the research that has been conducted on students in poverty, I would say that they, overall, perform lower. An Article states, “Children of poverty generally achieve at lower levels than children of middle and upper classes. The causes are numerous and are related to both the social environment in which poor children live and the education they receive in school” (The Effects of Poverty 2005). The students at my school and my class might achieve more overall, because their school pushes success. The school is located in a good area and has many middle class families; it is not the same type of environment that they might be living in. An example would be the schools you see in movies; where the school is located right in the middle of all the poverty and the students have no way of escaping.

mccurry25e-1-webThere are many factors that can have influence in the lives of students and their learning. “Factors such as the quality of student learning behaviors, home environment, past experiences with education, and teacher attitudes are among the many influences on student achievement” (The Effects of Poverty 2005). Most of the students in poverty have other concerns on their mind and school is often not a priority. Growing up in a middle class family, I cannot imagine not having a lot of the stuff I did, such as a nice place to sleep, eat, and so on. I also had a big support system, and I fear many children in poverty do not have them. Going to school, having to do homework, warding off potential bullies takes a lot of work and it is nice to have someone who can help you deal with any situation that you might have come across in a school day. Many poverty students do not have this system and it is a cause for why they may not feel the need to succeed, and why they fall through the cracks.

While researching poverty, the question about student engagement and students in poverty came about. Engaging students is an essential part to teaching them, because if they are not engaged they will lose interest. Many students in poverty appear as if they do not care and are unengaged, which most likely relates to the many other things they are worried and thinking about. Eric Jensen says, there are “seven differences between middle-class and low-income students show up at school. By understanding those differences and how to address them, teachers can help mitigate some of the negative effects of poverty” (Jensen 2009). These differences include: “health and nutrition, vocabulary, effort, hope and the growth mind-set, cognition, relationships, and distress” (Jensen 2009). Jensen is right on track with these areas where the classes differ, and these are the areas that students are focused on when learning is supposed to be occurring. Health and nutrition is very important to student success; not eating and drinking properly, can really affect how one thinks and their ability to concentrate and receive information. Many families in poverty do not have the resources to have the right about of food and water, and thus impacts student learning.

As teachers we need to be aware of our students and of their needs. It is imagesimportant to get to know your students and what they need in order to succeed. Teachers need to reach out to the children that they often call down or ignore. We need to find ways that can help the students succeed in every way possible and make their learning experience one to remember.



The Effects of Poverty on Teaching and Learning. (2005). Retrieved from

Jensen, E. (2009). Retrieved from

Monday, October 28, 2013

MyCreate Project

This semester I am participating in a project meshing the MyCreate application and LEGO StoryStarters, at Montlieu Academy of Technology. I am working with a first grade student at Montlieu. We will be creating a story, modeling it with the LEGO StoryStarters, and then creating a MyCreate video.

In our first meeting together, I introduced the MyCreate application to my student and discussed the project that we would be working on over the next few weeks. She was very excited to use the application and had a lot of fun playing around with its features. We practiced taking pictures of items, moving them a little bit at a time, so that they would come together to appear as if the items were moving. We also practiced recording our voices over the images we took. When we finalize the project the student will have to move the LEGOs a little bit at a time and record their voice telling the story. This first meeting was a good introduction for what is to come.

The next meeting, my student and I read a few books and discussed the key features in the stories, such as characters, setting, and plot. For this project my student will be working with another students, who is in Kindergarten. This meeting was meaningful, because they were able to meet and work together to discuss the key parts of the story. This was the precursor to the collaboration they will be doing to create their story.

The following meetings, we began discussion about the story that she will be creating. We first established who the main character would be and where the story would take place. My student wanted to make a story about a cowgirl and her horse. After discussing some detail about her character and the setting, she drew a picture of the character and the setting. Since the character and the setting have been selected, the next step is to create the plot. Before my student began to write her plot, we took some time to discuss what goes into creating a plot. We read a few stories and picked out the beginning, middle, and end of the story. This helped to set up for next week when we will be creating the plot for her story. 

At the rest of the meetings, we began to create our plot and develop the story. To start off the first meeting on creating our plot, we examined a picture and discussed what might be happening in the beginning middle and end. The picture was of three bears dancing around a tree. I had my student tell me a story of what she thought was happening and then when she was done we discussed what parts were the beginning, middle, and end; to reference the previous lesson. We then began to make a story involving the character of a cowgirl and her horse. We also added in a princess and her horse to the story to include the character that he Kindergarten student wanted. We discussed what would happen first in the story, and so on. As we discussed a problem that the characters would face and the solution, the story began to develop. 

In the story, the cowgirl and princess were friends and decided to go ride their horses. When the were out riding the princess saw a snake and it gave her a fright. Then the cowgirl came to her rescue and they defeated the snake and the others that came along. At the end of the story, the cowgirl and princess returned home and had a dance party. My first grade student worked really hard to create her story and was really proud of her work. In the following meetings, we will be working on practicing filming drawings of the story. 

Now that the story has been created it is time to work on planning what it might look like when we build with the LEGO StoryStarters kit.  In this meeting, we took sheets of paper that had lines of the story printed on them and drew what we thought the scene might look like. This was to help us practice how we might build the scene with the LEGOs. This was a really fun day, and my student really enjoyed making the story come to life in her drawings. Next we took pictures of our drawings using the MyCreate application and began to turn our drawings in to moving pictures. My student got a little frustrated when taking pictures of the drawings, because she did not fully understand that you had to take multiple pictures of the drawings (moving them a little each time) to make it look like they were moving. When we went to do a voice over she realized that we needed more slides, because the story was longer than the amount of pictures we took. So to help with this we copied the pictures several times to help make the video stretch out to match the voice over of the story. When we were done making the video she thought it was really cool and made her really excited. 

The next meeting was supposed to be at High Point University, where the students were coming to build their LEGO stories and film them using MyCreate. First graders were on a field trip that day and were unable to come to complete the final project. Since my student was not there and the Kindergartner that was working with us could not do the project alone, we joined another group. It was interesting to see what the other group was working on and I enjoyed being able to help in their group. However, because one of their students was in first grade also there were a lot of HPU students helping these students make their project. Therefore, I was mainly there for support and helped a little. I would have liked my student to have been there and able to participate, and sad that she worked so hard on the project and was unable to have the fun experience of coming to HPU. This was an interesting project and I was glad to be able to participate in working with the students on this activity. In the future, I suggest that this project be done with grades 3-5, because it was difficult to explain some of the aspects of this project to the younger students; and they did not quite understand what we were working on other than making a story. 


[Untitled Photograph of MyCreate App]. (2013). Retrieved: October 28, 2013.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Splash Math: Grade 3 Application

2013-04-20_1205The iPad Application: Splash Math: Grade 3 is a great application to help students practice their math skills and the topics they are studying. From the start screen students can choose to practice their math facts, practice the topics, or play a series of questions evolving it all.

When students choose to use the math practice section of the application, they can select which skill they would like to practice: addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Students can also choose more than one skill to practice, such as addition and multiplication; and it will give them practice problems involving both areas. The students can then select the number rage they would like to practice, such as practice multiplication facts 1-5. Then they can press start and begin to answer math problems that involve the range and area that they or the teacher selected.

Then next area that students can choose from is the practice mode, where students or teacher selects what topic to practice. The 2013-04-20_1208practice mode contains all the areas of the topics the students are learning in class. For example, under the fractions section students can practice their skills in parts of a whole, add/subtract fractions, equivalent fractions, compare fractions, and then a mixed review. When selecting the section you wish to practice, the student must answer a series of questions to help them practice their skills. Then when the student has practiced with the different topics they may “Play” and test their knowledge on what they have learned.

In a lesson, this could be used as a station for students to practice their skills at what they have learned over the course of a unit or topic. This could also be used as an engage or explore piece of a lesson, where the teacher can see where the students are at the beginning of the lesson and how specific they need to when teaching the rest of the lesson. This application would be something that would be used as a review or a gauge to see where students are or to give them addition support and practice. I would not suggest using this application as a main teaching tool in a lesson, because it is not designed for that purpose. However, for a station in a lesson this application would be perfect.

To evaluate the application in the classroom, the teacher could get student responses to see how they feel about the application and if they think it is helping them or not. There is also a place at the bottom of the application for parents to see how well the student is doing at answering the questions. In this summary, it will also mention the weak and strong skills, based on the questions answered and will track the growth at the bottom. If a teacher needs data on how well the students are doing, they can see this in this area within the application. This application helps cover all areas of third grade mathematics and helps give students additional practice with their skills.


[Untitled Photograph of Splash Math App Icon]. (2013). Retrieved: April 20, 2013.

[Untitled Photograph of Splash Math App]. (2013). Retrieved: April 20, 2013.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Technology in the Science Classroom

With technology evolving in every aspect of our lives it has only become natural that technology would become an essential part of science education. There are many technology devices that can help students become more involved with the concepts they are learning and really feel that they are doing something important and worth their time, not just some silly worksheet on temperature. Students can actually use technology, such as probes, to measure the change in temperature, just like a real scientist. “Scientists seamlessly integrate technology into their work. Gathering and analyzing data and sharing findings with others can be accomplished more efficiently using technology” (“Reach Beyond…”, 2013). With the advances in technology, teachers can, like scientists, integrate technology for students to really experience all that science has to offer.

One of the ways that teachers can incorporate technology into the classroom is through the internet, which is not necessarily a new invention, but it unlocks a whole other world for students to experience. A teacher can find images and videos of almost anything and share that with their students. One cannot really take a class field trip to see a volcano eruption, but with the power of the classroom technologyinternet the teacher can show students a video of a volcano erupting, and it can give them the experience of being right there. To connect with the power of the internet, a teacher can also use the document camera to “display almost anything (images, lab demonstrations, objects, student work, etc.) on the ‘big screen’ in front of everyone” (Cancellieri, 2013). The technology of “clickers” or Student Response Systems, have really opened the door and allowed for teachers to assess student understanding. Many teachers are using them as a pre-test, progress check, and review for final test; as a way to monitor student understanding without the added pressure of completing a test. Teachers can use this tool to check the understanding of students in the area of science, and this could be a useful tool for science in the fifth grade, as they are taking the science exam at the end of the year.

Pocket camcorders are also an interesting device for students to use in the science classroom, as “they can be used to create instructional videos, demonstrate lab activities, and even have students narrate nature walks” (Cancellieri, 2013). Students can create their own videos that relate to science and then the teacher can post them so the students can feel like they created something of value, like the videos that one can find of the internet. Another interesting activity for this technology device is bringing one along on “a field trip for students to record the exciting moments for those who cannot join them” (Cancellieri, 2013).

Probeware, as mentioned above, is a piece of technology that is finding its way into many science classrooms. “It is a tool for collecting data during class experiments; that can be used to measure temperature, light, pressure, electric current, and more” (Cancellieri, 2013). This device is really going to change aspects of the science classroom. There are many activities that students can complete using probeware to test different areas that can be measured and recorded. One type of probeware is Go!Temp, and it is just one of the many different types of probes out there. Having used one before, they are quite the miraculous devices and will come to be a treat in the classroom.

As a teacher, using technology is a useful tool in helping students become engaged. I would use the internet and the document camera at least once a day. Being that they have become such valuable resources to helping students experience the world. Although, there comes a point where the internet and document camera will only get you so far and the new advances in technology will really help students to have that firsthand experience. I would use probes in my classroom as a way for students to measure temperature, for example, and have them complete different activities that allow them to use these interesting devices. Using a probe is a very enjoyable experience and students would really enjoy using them as a technology tool in science. Unleashing the world of technology into science gives students a way to really connect with the material they are learning, and gives teachers a chance to really show students what science has to offer.


Cancellieri, P. (2013). 6 essential tech tools for science classrooms. Retrieved from

Reach beyond the science classroom with online tools. (2005). Retrieved from

Image References

[Untitled Photograph of students using Go!Temp probeware]. (2013). Retrieved: March 12, 2013.

[Untitled Photograph of students and teacher at computer]. (2012). Retrieved: March 12, 2013.

[Untitled Photograph of female students using probeware]. (2013). Retrieved: March 12, 2013.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Technology in Mathematics

In the world of education, mathematics is one of the more difficult subjects for students to grasp and they often find it to be very boring. For teachers, one of the important tasks that they need to accomplish is creating an engaging learning environment for students. With mathematics, students often get bored and there are not many “fun” activities associated with the concepts, such as an experiment in science. The new age of technology is bringing with it many new and exciting ways to learn, and it is helping student become more engaged with mathematical concepts.

Technology is placing its mark on classroom mathematics as students are gaining access to higher level calculators, computer programs/internet games, and interactive white boards/tablets. Teachers have to take extra time to learn how to use these devices, as they are in such high demand. Also with these devices teachers can really improve their instruction in a number of ways.

Calculators and computer programs have been in the classrooms for some time now and have been changing the way students approach math. As calculators can be seen as a debate for many teachers, if they are helping or hurting the students, they are becoming a crucial part of a math classroom. A Vanderbilt University article wrote that “calculators are useful tools in elementary mathematics classes, if students already have some basic skills” (2008). Calculators should only be used after students have learned how to generate a solution on their own; which makes this is a good tool for students to be able to check their own work. This technology resource is also a good tool for students in upper level math to help them with solving complicated mathematical problems. A Vanderbilt University professor also quoted in the same above article that “For students who did not know many multiplication facts, generating the answers on their own, without a calculator, was important and helped their performance on subsequent tests; but for students who already knew some multiplication facts, it didn't matter – using a calculator to practice neither helped nor harmed them” (2008). This is very much true. If children are given a tool such as this right from the start they will never learn how to solve such problems on their own, but with guidance of the teacher first and then the added support such a tool, the calculator could become a very powerful aid. 

Computers have been developing over the years and so have their programs and the internet. With this resource teachers can open many doors for their students when working on mathematical projects. “There are a variety of software programs that can help students learn mathematics and also to present their findings and ideas in reports and presentations” (Willard 2005). Students can use computer programs such as geometry drawing programs, spreadsheets, word processing, presentation programs, and much more to help them explain their findings to the teacher as well as other classmates. Using these programs in math also helps strengthen student skills for using the programs for other subjects as well. The internet also opens the door to many possibilities for students to explore more about mathematical concepts. There are many websites that allow students to practice what they know through playing games or solving real world problems. Sites such as help elementary students practice the skills they are learning in a fun way that is appropriate for their grade. With the computer programs and the internet, teachers can open a whole new world into their math classroom and teaching, and it provides a quick and easy way for students to be engaged in their learning. 

Technology’s newest creation is that of the interactive white boards and tablets, where they are getting students actively engaged in the process of their learning. These interactive pieces are allowing students to become more hands on with their learning, but still able to connect with the new age of technology. “At its best the iPad, with many great math apps, can be a wonderful way to explore mathematics in a more interactive way than can be done with images in textbooks” (Engelward 2013). With these technology resources, math class can be an exciting place to be and a way to get students really involved with the learning process. There are many apps in the Apple world that relate to helping students with their mathematical skills, and they are created in a way that gets students excited about learning math.

There are many ways to integrate technology into the classroom, and I choose the specific technology resources above because I feel that they were best at helping students to succeed in the classroom. I would use use calculators to help students to be able to check their own work. Giving students the calculator too early can have its drawbacks, so once the students have learned to solve the problem on their own then I would give them the calculator as a way to check their work. The computer is a valuable resource to help students explore the world and relate it back to their studies. With this resource, I would have students do a possible project were they would have to research a particular topic and then solve mathematical problems that go along with their data. In high school, I did a project that followed this idea and I had to look up data on hurricanes and then use statistics to solve different problems. I would also have students practice their mathematical skills on the computer through website games like ABCya, mentioned above. Then finally with the newest technology of interactive whiteboards and tablets, I would create lessons that would engaged the students and get them up and moving during the lesson. Creating SMART lessons are a lot of fun and I feel that the students really enjoy how they can interact with what is on the board, and it makes the lesson more engaging.

Technology is surrounding the world and it is now becoming a major part of our classrooms. There are so many new exciting technology pieces that have been created to help students, become more engaged in their learning process. Mathematics classes have been stereotyped as boring and un-able to be engaging, but with new technology advances that stereotype can now fade away.


Engleward, A. (2013). Technology in math education: the iPad a game-changer?. Retrieved February 1, 2013, from

Willard, T. (2005). Integrating technology into the mathematics classroom. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from 

Vanderbilt University (2008, August 20). Calculators okay in math class, if students know the facts first, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from­/releases/2008/08/080819160203.htm