Monday, April 30, 2012

Bronx School Health/Wellness Forum 5/3

In case anyone is interested in attending, I've attached the above flyer. If anyone would like to volunteer to help at check-in or organize the refreshments, please email me at


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Media & Technology Critique

The question of whether or not the Internet negatively affects student growth is legitimate given the widespread use of the World Wide Web in classrooms. While it is important to consider the negative implications of schools being wired to the Web, it is seems more appropriate to consider the benefits given the reality that the Internet is here to stay. One of the many benefits of the Internet is the informative websites that students can use. However, teachers need to step in and help facilitate the use of these websites so that students will be able to use the Internet more efficiently and reap the academic benefits it offers. WebQuests are virtual assignments in which students are guided through a learning task by a website created by the teacher. A WebQuest is an inquiry-based activity that not only encourages cooperative learning but also allows students to analyze information rather than spend their time looking for it.
One of the most valuable assets of WebQuests is that they encourage higher order thinking. WebQuests can be viewed as a challenging game that requires students to use the Internet as a research tool in order to answer questions, pose hypotheses and form opinions. There is no such thing as copying and pasting answers in WebQuests. Teachers are instrumental in designing WebQuests that ask open-ended questions and raise issues and problems that students can explore. WebQuests allow students to go beyond fact finding towards an analysis of complex issues or events. For example, a WebQuest using the Globalization101 website asks students to consider issues such as human rights, the environment and trade.
Students must work together and use each other as resources to meet the objectives of a WebQuest. The value here is that the Internet is often used individually but WebQuests provide the opportunity to make it a collective experience. In addition, a quest has greater potential to be a meaningful activity than a teacher lecturing and students copying notes from the board. WebQuests especially motivate students who view the Web as a valued part of their culture. WebQuests teach students effective strategies for using the information found on the Internet. At the same time, students also need to be reminded to not take everything they read as fact. Teachers need to be a mediator between the Internet and students by helping students develop Internet literacy. Internet literacy consists of research skills, ability to shift through the plethora of information, as well as finding reliable sources. With the advent of blogs, it may be harder for students to distinguish between fact and opinion. Teachers need to keep these things in mind as they find the material on the Web to complement their WebQuests.
WebQuests support teaching and learning in Social Studies in a plethora of ways. While history textbooks only offer one perspective on a topic, a WebQuest with various links can offer students multiple perspectives. This is particularly advantageous given the fact that students of history are rarely exposed to a variety of perspectives that is essential to a more authentic study of history. Moreover, a WebQuest is an easy way to take students through a time machine. For example, students can journey back in time to the 1700s during the Colonial Days in America. In the process, they get to experience what it was like to be the first settlers of the original 13 colonies.
The possibilities are endless for WebQuests and teachers can customize them to fit the needs of their classes. Students have the opportunity to travel back in time with their classmates in order to come to a collective conclusion. WebQuests are a great alternative to traditional lessons involving history textbooks and not much imagination.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Social Media Critique

Xiuyan Wu
Prof. Doucet
                                                  Social Media Critique
    Over the past 15 years, social media became one of the most important communication platforms for people and in particular adolescents. Since adolescents spend a lot of time on the internet, they probably receive some positive and negative influences by using the social networks, such as Twitter and MySpace. Therefore, parents, teachers and communities need to be more aware of those social networks.
     Twitter is one of the most common and popular social networks that adolescents use in their daily lives. People from different parts of the world can share information through Twitter. Basically, adolescents can write anything on Twitter and upload it to the internet. Meanwhile, they can read other people’s posts and write comments on them. Once teachers incorporate Twitter as one of their teaching tools, students will learn more sufficiently in the daily bases.   
Twitter can be used as an online discussion tool for teachers and students. Basically, the teacher can open a discussion group on Twitter. Since mathematics requires students to have more abstract thinking and understanding, a math discussion group is useful for students when they study at home .If students have any question in doing their homework assignments after school, they can ask for help from the class discussion group. The teacher and the other students will answer the questions immediately. Students can learn from each other while they try to ask and response in the discussion group.  Students who ask questions can gain extract help from their classmates and teachers. Students who response to the questions can practice their problem solving skills.
Teachers can use Twitter to share some academic articles to students, especially those articles related to the mathematics content area. For most of times, students feel not motivated enough to study hard in mathematics because they probably think math is only used in the classroom setting. Therefore, teachers need to let students realize mathematics is useful and it happens around the world. As a result, teachers can post some current articles’ links or website on Twitter. Students can read those academic articles at anytime they want to. Moreover, if an article has a tremendous impact to students’ learning development, teacher can let students have a group discussion on Twitter in order to make sure every student reads the article.   
In addition, Twitter can be used as an assessment tool for teachers. Most of times, although students know how to solve a problem, they still have difficulties in illustrating the math concept behind that problem. Since students only can type 140 characters at a time on Twitter, teachers can ask students how they interpret a new math concept. For instance, if students learn a new math concept in class, they need to use their own words to interpret the new concept in a concise way. Therefore, students need to use limited words to illustrate their ideas and thoughts completely.
   No matter which media we are emphasizing, it has positive and negative approaches to adolescents’ development. Therefore, teachers and parents need to have a close conversation with adolescents, and to tell them to use various social media properly. As an educator, the most important and challenging instructional strategy is to appropriately incorporate social media in teaching in order to motivate adolescents to learn better in school.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Media and Technology Critique

Teaching is no mere task of presenting written works, helping students understand their value and purpose or creating exams which test students’ ability to memorize new vocabulary.  Teaching is the ongoing process of expanding an individuals mind through inspirational means of presentation.  As teachers, we must lead and introduce new ideas and methods of learning and practicing.  During our current time of technological progress, we must learn to adapt to our technological environment in order to successfully educate the media centered generation.
      Mass media has produced a generation of beings who are constantly fed new ideas and concepts without conscious realization.  According to the Digital Media Literacy quiz created by PBS teachers, in 2009, students between the ages of 8 and 18 spent an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes a day on all forms of media.  Teachers clearly have become limited to what they can control in their students choice of “academic” resources.  Instead of focusing on rejecting the use of media and experiencing failure with teaching, educators can strategically incorporate the most powerful tools for feeding students with information into their repertoire. 
     Of the many forms of media (television, video games, films…) social networking sites appear to be most useful in aiding the transition of academic learning through means of media.  Facebook, for example was initially intended and created for and by elite university students.  It served as a platform to share, comment, and expose information among peers.  Facebook has now become one of the world’s leading social networking websites for its innovative style of networking.  It gives individuals the power to express themselves the way they want to be seen, and attracts curiosity with each new update. 
     Facebook can therefore be a great tool for keeping students interested, engaged and on task.  It is much easier to connect to your students with something they already use.  Many teachers try to use platforms such as tumblr or epsilon to create a media centered component to their class.  The problem with this, however, is that students end up creating an account for a site they will probably never use again.   Logging-in to the site would feel like a requirement and tedious task.  Instead of attempting to use more professional platforms, teachers can use the site on which students are most often.  By doing so, students will be more likely to visit the class/group page created for the class or course since they are already logged on and it is being filtered through their “newsfeed”. 
     Teachers can easily post the days homework, this way students cannot create excuses such as “I didn’t hear it”.  Teachers can continue class discussions online, while introducing students to additional sources to help their studies such as videos and interactive websites.  Students can become familiar with their class peers [allowing students to build stronger friendships].  Finally, students and teachers can discuss making conscious decisions about the information they make public, or what they make available to some circles but not others
     Though heavily centered for social networking, a site like Facebook can become an educational tool.  Opposition to using such tools for an educational purpose is natural, however adapting to changing environments is logical.  Teachers need not reject the new trends of their students but embrace them.  Creating a personal connection or reference to class or lesson is the secret of learning.  Social networking websites have the ability to create such connection on a local and global scale.

Friday, April 6, 2012


            I believe Facebook can be a wonderful source to enrich a classroom’s learning environment. Because Facebook is still a trend, students will enjoy using it as an educational tool because it still feels relevant and current to their lives. There are many ways teachers can use the platform that Facebook has easily created for users, as long as teachers take the time to become familiar with creating a page. For teachers who incorporate units into their classroom, they can build a group page, where students can actively post instantly and have the freedom to post as much as they want about the topic. Let’s say a classroom is studying a unit on Egyptians. The teacher can give an assignment to the class to each write a three-sentence fact onto the page, and for the students to comment or leave questions under a post. This could create discussion, or would let the teacher know what the students were interested in, to help prepare for the next class with answers and more lessons. Other fun ways to post would be to upload videos, pictures, music, or links to other informative websites about the unit.

            After the unit, teachers and students can debrief about the unit and discuss how Facebook was used, and the pros and cons of using it in a classroom setting, and also the use of it outside of school. Teachers can facilitate the discussion and ask questions that might provoke responses. Questions like, “Have you ever heard people use the phrase, ‘Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever?’” “What do you think that means?” “Do you think people think before they type?” “Is instant information a good thing?” “Finding media (pictures, videos, etc.) is pretty easy to find and post these days. What can be some problems that arises from this?” Many times people post on the internet without really thinking about where it came from, or how their posting can be detrimental to others. Hopefully, these discussions will allow time for students to reflect on themselves as media and technological users, and become more aware of how they interact with the media and technology in the
As students are developing into young adults, many are still searching for
their identity, and want to attain more attention on themselves because they want to feel significant. Most often, they will post things on the internet about themselves, like written information or photos, and are unaware as to how hurtful it can be to him/her later on in their lives. Using media in the classroom will allow time for teachers to further discuss these issues, and help relate to their developmental needs. You might say things like, “It’s fun to post pictures of ourselves online, but what are some ways we can be safe with how we go about posting ourselves online and letting the world see?”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Media Critique

With the high development of the modern society, educational teaching approaches are no longer instructor-as-authority-and-expert pattern. Technology-supported instruction has been widely introduced and accepted in today’s classrooms. Especially in the field of second and foreign language education, digital media, such as Internet, play an important role in the learning process. As both a life-long language learner and a student major in foreign language education, I strongly advocate for the Internet as a more motivational and effective way to study foreign language under the guidance of a teacher.
First, by adding sight and sound to the boring knowledge and facts, Internet has led a great revolution in the way of learning. Compared with the traditional way, surfing the Internet holds its own advantages. For instance, with the help of this new digital tool, teachers are not merely transmitters and students are not only recipients. Instead, teachers can let students choose their favorite movies and then assign them some films that related to the lesson they learned recently. Therefore, students will not only have a better idea how to use the language in a communicative setting but also will broaden their horizons. Through this kind of high-interest instructional strategy, students will devote themselves into this new engaging learning process.
Moreover, unlike printed books, an Internet -based learning environment will satisfy adolescent’s diverse learning levels and needs. Teachers can guide different level learners to use different online sources to improve their language study. For example, teachers can choose some target language songs for novices to arouse their study interests. And for intermediate level students, teachers can recommend to them some good foreign websites and let them read updated articles and listen news report with subtitles. What is more, students can even download movies that have bilingual subtitle so that students will have a better understanding of culture and be able to know how to use slang and master the standard foreign language in a pleasant atmosphere. As for the advanced learners, educators can suggest they search more sophisticated topics, such as presidential debates and dramas in order to let learners have a deep look at the politics of the foreign countries and analyze their literacy.
However, despite the internet's advantages for gaining information and knowledge, there are also flaws. Sometimes, students passively accept all sound bites, masses of advertisement, and fragments of information etc when surfing the Internet. For instance, instead of in-depth knowledge, what students get is only popular culture which can be easily appreciated by the majority. The completeness and depth of information have to submit to the entertaining and intricate plot. That’s why it is also teachers’ responsibility to organize group discussions in class and let students write short response paper for the purpose of thinking carefully, and generating their own ideas, approaching the real essence of learning---critical thinking and creation.
To sum up, powerful technology such as Internet can enhance largely students’ learning ability and help them effectively gain knowledge under the appropriate teachers’ guidance. Nevertheless, reading textbooks cannot be completely replaced by Internet and still occupies its dominant position as a way of learning. In the final analysis, the best approach of learning is to be informed by Internet and be enlightened by books.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Facebook in Teaching & Learning: Meeting the Net Generation on Their Level

Without a doubt, we live in the age of Facebook. Its millions of users attract millions more seemingly every day as easier access to technology and internet proliferate modern day life. The social firestorm that it is has not come without controversy. Private lives become more and more public and the question of personal privacy and property becomes increasingly muddled. Many peers my age have thought critically about de-activating their Facebook accounts in attempt to reclaim themselves from the public sphere. Already having graduated high school and having laid the foundations for our adult identities when Facebook first emerged, we can easily recall the simpler days before Facebook’s arrivals and sometimes even long for them. Those just a few years younger than us who are definitively considered to be kids of the Net Generation, however, have never known a world without social networking defining their adolescence. Herein lies the challenge for adults, parents, and teachers raising up this generation to follow and forge new footsteps in the world.

Even a younger adult like me must re-adjust her expectations about how these youth perceive the world. As an aspiring teacher, this burden is in some ways even greater as I must learn to try to make an old machine—the U.S. education system—remain contemporary and relevant to its users—students. Though not currently in a classroom, I do work with high-schoolers in a weekend mentoring program. At 15 and 16, they do not know life without Facebook since they were only 7 or 8 when Facebook first arrived. The irony is that this particular group of students was not even in the U.S. when Facebook hit since they are all recent immigrants. One can imagine how wide the socio-cultural, technological gap was when they first arrived in the U.S., and then wonder in amazement how quickly and easily they bridged it to become prolific users of the internet. In spite of their beginning proficiency in English, they chat, check-in with each other, share likes and dislikes, and articulate their hopes, dreams, and frustrations, illustrating an impressive fluency in this medium of communication. It is a tool that has allowed them to bridge the worlds of identity they balance between their new lives in the U.S. and their previous lives in their home countries. They wear their hearts on their Walls, and in order to strengthen our mentor-mentee relationships with them, as group leaders, we utilize Facebook to meet them on their level.

We share interesting news articles and resources about current events with our mentees, and also comment and joke with them. There are many photo albums full of funny pictures with equally entertaining captions. Managing this kind of online relationship with them is not a difficult task for most of the mentors since we are Facebook users ourselves, and our relationship with them is not such a formal one that overtones of being viewed as authority figures loom. But naturally, this kind of relationship may prove to be more difficult for classroom teachers who often struggle to maintain respectful student-teacher relationships in-person in their classrooms. Thus, the pros and cons for teachers of using Facebook in the same manner that we do needs additional consideration. While I am actually quite apprehensive of having this kind of online relationship with my future students and think it is precarious for a teacher to maintain, I have heard of teachers who manage it with great success.

Therefore, it should not be stricken from teachers' toolboxes as a way of facilitating teaching and learning, and even more so of fostering relationships, but it is a personal choice for each teacher depending on her or his level of comfort with the technology. I think what is possible and within reach of all teachers is finding a way to allow Facebook and other social networking tools to become a medium for student-centered, self-directed learning. However, students capable and mature enough to manage self-directed learning do not come out of thin air, so internet literacy and manners must be a part of classroom dialogue and teaching. This literacy is not just the responsibility of teachers to impart, but parents as well. Those less familiar with Facebook shy away from trying to understand it as a lens through which their youth view the world, but in doing so, we deprive them of skills needed to think critically and discern appropriate uses of this sometimes unwieldy medium. With our high-schoolers, mentors rarely hesitate to "call out" mentees when they use derogatory or hurtful language with their group peers on Facebook. While it is not the opportunity to lecture in full on the reasons why they should adjust their online behavior, it is still a veritable "teachable moment". In the classroom, these should not just be teachable moments, but standard parts of the curriculum, for instance in an English Language Arts class when students learn to manipulate character, voice, and perspective in their writing.

I agree that Facebook as it stands today may not be the best modality for teaching and learning, but teachers and parents much understand that it is a modality among adolescent learners that will not disappear any time soon. Therefore, they need to supply their students and children with the appropriate skills to manage this modality of life just as they might teach them to deal with writing an analytical argument in essays or financial responsibility at home. At its very core, Facebook is a tool for communication, and communication is at the heart of how we pass on our knowledge and history to future generations.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


As a future educator in the modern age of technology, it is crucial to be able to maintain up-to-date knowledge on new technologies. Regarding Social Studies Education, teaching is no longer constrained to using textbooks, primary sources, and maps, but now we must incorporate technology as well. I investigated a media website that allows adolescents to not only use computers in the classroom, but learn historical figures and events as well.
As I searched the internet, I came across an interactive site, called that will allow each of my students to create movies about history. For example, this allows students to build characters, write historical scripts, and make connections between historical figures. I thought that this site would be useful because it allows students who may be visual learners to create historical figures and scenarios using an online movie-making tool. To make sure this site would suit a 7th grade social studies classroom, I made my own characters and scripts to practice.  I created a short movie of Theodore Roosevelt talking to Woodrow Wilson about their political views which I believe would be an excellent way for students to connect these Progressive presidents’ polices and platforms because they are able to see it firsthand.
            The website is set up for students to make videos, where they choose which historical figure on the site they would like to use. After they pick the historical character, they write a script that pertains to their character. The cartoon figures on the website then speak the script that was created by the students. In a way, this could be used as a jigsaw method of teaching, where each group presents their own characters to the class, which allows many historical characters to be covered in the class. Another positive aspect of the site is that after they complete the video, the students can share their work with their peers using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Adolescents today respond well to interacting with media in the classroom. Video-making websites are accessible and liked by today’s generation of students, because they are proficient in using these kinds of mediums. Since they use these technologies in their everyday life, a website like is a tool for teachers to embrace their student's
 natural abilities with computers. The visual nature of websites and technology today are ingrained in students daily life and we as teachers must adapt to the on going changes with in technology in order for our students to be successful.
Many teachers may be wary about using a site such as due to the fact that students may not take it seriously. However, I believe if monitored correctly the website can be very effective. Not only is this useful for social studies literary strategies, but it
can be interdisciplinary as well. The students are forced to use their knowledge of history and then utilize that information into writing a script. Writing the script allows students to improve their writing andliteracy skills as well as improve their knowledge of history, revealing the interdisciplinary value of using technology in the classroom. For teachers, it is important to view the website and create practice videos before assigning this kind of project to their students. Lessons should not rely solely on this site, but be incorporated as an assessment or project-based assignment. Since adolescents today are more engaged with multi-media components, allows for both excitement and learning in the classroom.