Author Archives: cnb135

Blackhurst Learning Philosophy

I believe that distinguished teachers understand that students learn in different ways and use a vast array of research driven instructional strategies to engage students on a daily basis. This is where my learning philosophy has changed. Being taught by the old-school lecture method, it was all that I knew. And to top if off, I was a fan of the lecture method because I was an auditory learner! Learning about how web 2.0 tools can help to motivate students who are a part of the online generation makes me much more open to try and using them as a part of my daily classroom routine!

Passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to their profession are just examples of words that I would use to describe myself and my work ethic. By continually changing learning modalities, engaging students as twenty-first century learners, and using a variety of methods and mediums to communicate with my students, I attempt to set the stage for a dynamic and engaging classroom. Whether it is getting my community service students engaged in the Brazilian Step Dance craze or creating new worlds with the SNITCH program, students need to be taught in the ways that they get motivated to learn. We must also create students that can find and create information via online tools quickly and more efficiently than others their age. Maybe it’s teaching them how to interact online or maybe it’s monitoring how they search and retrieve information online, no matter what web 2.0 tools we choose to use with our students – we must be using them in our classrooms!

My LP 2.0 Video



Young people today are connected to other people all around the world more than any generation in our history. But as the Brennan article stated, they are typically consumers of online activity and networking. To fully appreciate types of media, one must learn how to create something of that sort.  I always said when I grew up that I never knew how good my mom’s baking was until I tried to bake on my own. The appreciation comes from doing it yourself.

Being the snoop that I am… I call it in inquisitive, others call it a problem… I immediately googled “Scratch Programming” to find the MIT site. I’m always looking for new sources of media to use with my students and thought I could give it a shot.  Let me start with this… It’s hard!!  It probably took me 5 minutes to get the cat avatar to walk 10 steps and meow. My appreciate of media creation was immediate. Our students need to gain this appreciate too. They need feedback from their peers in the classroom and around the globe. And because of the world that we live in today, our students will need to know (and be taught!) how to collaborate with individuals in other place. This means proper communication skills too.

Our youth must be proactive in creating their culture also. As we see in the “Small Step Battle” in Rio, students are sharing their world with others around the globe. These are positive videos promoting the types of activities that we hope our children are doing, unlike other choices they have. We must promote these. We must teach our students how to interact positively online with videos just like these! I couldn’t stop watching the small step videos and thinking of how I could integrate this into my sociology curriculum. We teach culture and current trends. My students might be making and sharing small step videos next year! 🙂

Finally, I love the idea of a school online social network. Teachers can be facilitators to media, questioning and student responses. This can teach the younger generation in our education system what is etiquette, what qualifies as irresponsible, and what is positive interaction.  Kids only learn what they are taught.  Let’s teach them how to use this web 2.0 networking technology instead of fearing it.

Badge good or badge bad?

Young discusses how badges can be used to show time spent working on a particular project. Although, I like the idea of motivating students with something other than a final grade. I doubt the fact that badges will ever take over the credibility of a college degree or grades on a transcript. Badges can be small motivators for pacing a student and keeping them on track for the next goal that they must complete, but in the end, no amount of time spent will change the ability to complete the desired task. Thomas Edison made thousands of mistakes before inventing the light bulb. However, a badge for time spent with no end result doesn’t put him in the history books.

In the video, badges were described as a record of achievement. After hearing this and seeing the online icons, I remembered that a program that I use with my freshmen in American Government, that is based on online, uses badges to reward them for adequate/superior performance on a gaming program. Students are asked to categorized, match and experiment with different branches and topics in the government. At the end of each game, they are presented with some kind of badge. Sometimes, its the “You did it!” badge.  Other times, it’s the “Keep up the hard work!” badge. After reading and listening to experts on badges in the field of education, I’ll be interested to do some of my own research on what badges the students feel are most desired.


Week 8: Connecting it.

I loved this article by Dede. I’ve never thought of Web 2.0 tools are negotiating and ratifying knowledge but I have come to terms with that definition. One of the “truths” that I’ve always tried to teach students, especially when I taught WWII, was that books lie. They don’t mean to lie, but they do. Everyone has a bias, and it comes out whether you want it to or not.  We use to read text from the Germans, English, French and Russians when we studied the Second World War. It gave the students some perspective.  Web 2.0, as the article states, can add human experiences to knowledge – such as opinions, values and spiritual beliefs. We can question knowledge and change it as it perceived.

The video on Connectivism relates perfectly to Dede’s thoughts. Students, through connectivism, are given large amounts of information – or they seek to find it.  They must then have the academic skills to sift through that information to decide what is “truth.” Because students are engaged in active learning, the hope is that they peer review, create their own knowledge and always challenge what they read and hear! People are gaining the ability to work together to make decisions rather than being told what is knowledge and what is false. Like the Sieman’s article discussed, we gain knowledge through experiences. Wouldn’t it be great in the 21st century world to teach kids how to learn through experiencing text that is simply an opinion versus that with support and factual information?  This is what will truly create our lifelong learners!

Week 7: Old (Education) Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

In “Understanding the Power of the PLNS,” Pam hits it right on the spot. Education is completely changing, or at least the way the students we are teaching are learning differently than before.  Students today can take notes without paper! Crazy!  I also loved that the article pointed out that mobile technology provides a huge opportunity (and challenge! Yes!) to our classrooms.  When we think about online learning, I think all teachers get scared when they hear the idea that “teachers and knowledge” are not scarce anymore.  I was little frightened up until the article mentioned that we need to teach our students how to effectively learn online. And I love the line, “education is something that we create for ourselves.”  As teachers, we must teach students how to create an education for themselves – helping them solve any problem they encounter using the technology at their finger tips.

The three conversations for parents article was not what I had expected.  These are three great things that parents need to discuss with their kids… and not just parents, teachers too. We need to start developing these thoughts early – hoping to teach children that they aren’t invisible (on invincible) online.

Procedural learning is being taught in the podcast about screen recordings.  I use these in my classroom all of the time, especially with my ONLINE class. Students often ask the same questions over and over when it comes to creating something online.  I find it easier to simply record myself giving the directions, allowing advanced students to move along and slower students the ability to watch/rewatch me teach the lesson. Formal learning would have been to teach them step-by-step in front of me. But this works informally allowing students to work at their own paces!

And the Anthropology students…. I need to seek out this professor.  Talk about teaching empathy and compassion in real world situations to students, this is the crème de la crème.  And the World Situation uses real life examples for students to engage themselves in learning. This simulation said it took 75-100 minutes, but the learning that goes on through student inquisition is everlasting.  I may try and copy this in some way with my Sociology students when we discuss social stratification/classes around the world!

Week 6: Wiki-wiki

The CoolCat Teacher’s blog was a nice resource.  I liked that she outlined how the students should be editing the wiki. It’s one thing to ask them to post and respond, but another to give an example of what it feels like for a student to ask a question and not get a response.  This is a nice example to give the students to remind them to make edits and correct spelling.   She also does a good job of reiterating how essential it is to document sources and create hyperlinks.  Because this page could be potentially viewed by people around the world, it needs to be a good source of information – something the students can be proud of!

As an avid Wikispace user myself, I like the outline of the time in class. It was also interested to see how the wikis are being used. I, too, use them collaboratively in my classroom but each student groups is working together.  When we finish, the wiki is a finished product, and therefore, complete.  It was interesting to see wikis that are in constant change and edit, like Wikipedia.

On a side note, one way that my students and I get around the “you can only have one person edit a page at a time” rule on wikis is to use GoogleDocs.  You can make them public and google-searchable however, it allows for everyone to edit at the same time – and you can go back to an earlier edit if something you wanted get deleted!

  • What type of knowledge building activities do you see going on in these different sites?
  • How do you see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?

In the two different classroom site with Friedman’s The World Is Flat, students were working collaboratively with students from around the globe.  This is a great idea, not only to get the point of view of others, but to understand and learn from a different culture too. Plus, it makes editing the wiki simple, as only one user can edit the page at a time!

On larger sites, like the Chem group on Wikispedia, the quality of knowledge is being monitored much more carefully.  Instead of 15 students from Bangladesh making considerations about what needed to be changed, you have people – young and old – from around the world doing just that.  It allows for a great population of knowledge to make the edits and decisions on what is important.

Week 5: Blog-casting

Blogging can hold you accountable. It can give you and outlet and allow you to share. But for any teacher that has been in their classroom with their curriculum for more than a few years, blogging can be scary! Much like with the students in the college course described in TechTrends, it can be difficult to put a “grade” on a blog.  This is the other scary part!

Who has control if students are the “experts?” The TechTrends article laid out a great process for blogging where students helped to create the interaction, they kept in contact with the TAs and there were regular meetings to discuss how the blog was working. This structure still allows for the educator to be in control of how the curriculum and discussion is being facilitated but allows the students some ownership too!

I absolutely loved the idea of getting kids excited about blogging by having them do it in the room with the instructor.  This would allow the instructor to really focus in on what is the desired result and showcase the kind of information and format that he/she wanted.  It also gets the students excited about the way information is being shared because their thoughts are getting presented to the class. J

What I’ve found from the readings is this. For a blog to be successful, the educator must:
1) …set up strategies.
2) …give strong examples.
3) …foster extended conversations through heavy teacher engagement early-on.

Mr. Borges’ had his class of Special Education students’ blog together. This is a formal class situation. Whereas, after reading the students that were studying abroad in Spain, you could see their opened ended creations. Student’s blogs have little structure. They are open and without linear thought.  The student blogs can be put together in topic form or by unit, as they are on Mr. Borges’ page.

Blogs have a place in the educational setting.  Whether it is sharing of resources and information from Ferlazzo’s blog or the student abroad in Spain, we can find educational value in the experiences of others. Although simple, students worried about traveling to another country can find simplicity in the blog of Moniek on her travels. I, personally, was so impressed with Ferlazzo that I explored more of his page to see how he handles a “bad day” in his classroom.  Blogs play a role in education and deserve a place in our world – but they must be educational, structured and exemplified by the people contributing to them.

blackhurstc_psu (Interview with Beth Wilmus – Foreign Language Teacher)

Group 1 – Week 4

After reading the articles and deciphering the table, group one believed that the chart did a nice job of supporting the cognitive processes that Web 2.0 can provide. Cheryl thought that it spoke her “teacher language” and provided good examples of which tools to use. As a whole, we were surprised to see it so organized and well thought out and believed that it is valuable in showing both technologically-impaired teachers and also expert technology teachers, classifications for different Web 2.0 tools.

Interestingly enough, two of our group mates took different stances on “tagging” as a metacognitive tool. Marie believed that tagging was a great way to allow “the learner to define and classify the information/resource they are viewing.”  She connected her love of tagging information on Pinterest to something that the students could use in the classroom.  Courtney, on the other hand, believed that tagging could be used in the collaborative sense but not necessarily to create using Web 2.0 tools. She did understand how tagging could be used as a tool for the students to organize information..

Jordan and Courtney both discussed the short lifespan of Web 2.0 tools.  Jordan focused on the scaffolding of curriculum and the understanding that another program will take the place of the one we are using today.  Courtney gave an example of a Wikispace project that she had completed for two years with her students until, abruptly, this year when Wikispaces was charging to view publicly.

As a group, we all saw the collaborative and creative ways that Web 2.0 tools can be used to foster learning and increase participation.  We discussed, as a whole, the resistance that is occurring and will continue to occur with Web 2.0 tools that are forever changing and create a steep learning curve for teachers.

Week 4: Web 2.OH!

  • The Hsu et al. chapter identifies different categories of Web 2.0 tools and how they accommodate student learning (specifically table 1). What is your perspective on the classification and application of tools based on your own knowledge and work with various Web 2.0 tools?

    “The concept marks the transition of the Web from the “Webas-information-source” to the “participatory Web,” encouraging user participation, creation, and sharing, beyond simple retrieval of information (Decrem, 2006; Wikipedia, 2007e).”

Although I am fairly familiar with Web 2.0 tools and use them in the classroom and at home on a regular basis, I hadn’t ever thought of their categorization.  Table 1 in the chapter gives a good basis for someone looking to create these categories for their web 2.0 tools.

The chapter places the first emphasis on folkonomy and the art of “tagging” information. I understand how this can be a collaborative process as it helps with the search of information and the formation of a summary for the text. However, considering this a form of cognitive tool where learning is being created is a bit of a stretch.  Many of my students, because they are required too, tag information; my colleagues do also.  It’s a great way to get back to information later.  However, cognitive development isn’t always at the forefront of these tags. Maybe a form of self-evaluation if the teacher facilitates and gives feedback on the tags?

However, I love wikis.  I love learning from wikis. I love watching my students create wikis. I love evaluating wikis. I love having my students work with wikis. Wikis are a learning experience of collaboration. Students can input information, change information and then start all over again.  My students collaborate on Presidential Campaign Wikis.  They help each other, learn from each other and work with all sorts of web 2.0 tools in the process. And through the social environment, cognition for each student is increased.

“Blogs give voices to the masses.”  This quote epitomizes what is going on with the web right now.  People that would have had to have coding HTML skills can now find a webpage that allows them to share their thoughts openly.  People now, more than ever, can read and analyze the opinions of others around the world.  It allows for reflection, which is one of the basic pieces of learning. So in this case, I completely agree with its place on Table 1 – processing, self regulation and reflection.


  • What do you see as the most significant insights about application of technology into the classroom based on this chapter?

I really enjoyed the tips for using Web 2.0 tools at the end of the chapter.  As a (fairly) new teacher, I’ve been exposed to many of the web 2.0 tools out there. But I still get nervous changing an entire lesson if it isn’t going to go as planned.  I use wikispaces a lot.  After a three week project, one that I also completed with students for the last two years in a row, on the day students were to go onto my wikispaces and view all of the other political parties created, wikispaces had shut down the ability to openly share webpages without paying a fee.  It’s disheartening to think that a web 2.0 program that I took so many hours of my life to plan and create a lesson for, has changed its ways.  It makes us less likely to use these tools because of how unreliable they can be.

The one tip at the end of the chapter was the best.  Get the students excited!  The more they believe their work will be shown and reviewed and discussed, the more likely they are to get involved and engage in learning.

Learning Philosophy: Week 3

My learning philosophy consists of all of my experiences as a student and undergraduate.  I also find that it is shaped by the type of learning style that I personally have.  Unfortunately for my students, that happens to be auditory learning. I learn best, and feel that learning occurs, when the teacher is driving the instruction in the classroom.  I thought it was interesting that at the beginning of the interview in New Culture of Learning, they discussed how difficult it is for teachers to let go of their classrooms.  Having the student’s take control makes me cringe!  However, I’ve learned that we have to do a better of teaching them HOW to take control.

One of the most important things we can teach our students these days is to question where their information is coming from.  In a world where Google provides thousands of answers in a split second, learning can only occur with factual information when students are aware of what information is reliable and what is not.  By testing these inquiry skills, we can tell that learning takes place.  With 21st century learners, we must teach them how to get information before they can begin to use the correct information.

Teachers, especially in traditional classrooms, must learn to evolve with the learning process.  In 2025, we will need to facilitators. (I know, I know, that world is cliché too!) But it’s true. By continually changing learning modalities, engaging students as twenty-first century learners, and using a variety of methods and mediums to communicate with students, we will attempt to set the stage for a dynamic and engaging classroom. One full of participatory learning, where students are the creators but the teachers have taught them the best ways of sharing knowledge, piecing through poor information, and using each other as resources to make them better learners.  Here we will see learning occur not when a student can reiterate all of the information that has been drilled into their head, but when they can create based on their knowledge.

Learning in 2025 will truly occur when you don’t just hand the student a computer with a program and asked them to create.  It will occur when students are seeking their own forms of knowledge and choosing the correct modes of doing so. Learning will be seen when students ask each other for help before seeking the teacher, because in a 21st century world, this is what happens more often than not.  I love the idea of bringing the audience to light as students comment on text as they read. Diigo is a tool that I will start using in my online course!

Like it was said in the Davidson and Goldberg article, learning philosophies for teachers and institutions must change with the ever adapting world of knowledge.  I’m trying to change my learning philosophy but it’s not any easy task.  I’ve gone from using IT tools that are somewhat under my control to creation tools, such as Wikispaces, Glogster, Google Docs and BlackBoard Collaboration, to allow students more freedom to share and collaborate on their own, at their leisure.  Now, more than ever, learning is “lifelong.”  We have access to instant information all of the time.  We must change our modalities to teach our students the ways to access good information and use it collaboratively to their advantage; then, we have become successful teachers with students who are truly “learning.”