Friday, December 7, 2007

Reflections Period 5

What changes have you seen this semester in regards to your education? What role did technology play in that change? What role did the constructivist philosophy play in that change? (constructivist-students becoming producers of information, students in charge of their own learning)

Make sure to include specific examples and expand on each other's ideas.

33 comments:

elisabethc said...
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nicolek said...
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stefo said...
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kristenw said...
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rsabey said...

Mrs. Smiths teaching has truly been eye opening to me. At the beginning of the year I knew very little to nothing about technology in school and blogging. After messing up on about five blogs I went into her and asked Mrs. Smith what I should do. She taught me to blog and helped me back on my feet. I learned how to use the computer as a way of intelligent communication. I have not just learned more about, thesis statements, challenging the system, annotating, and reading in depth but I have also learned study habits, to ask your teacher instead of relying on yourself and most importantly to be more responsible. I love the way we would discus the books we were reading. Notice how I did use the word talk but I used discuss, this is because we would not talk about what happened but what those events mean, we wouldn’t talk about how the two boys are friend but what their relationship is based on how strong it is and if we have relations similar to the characters. I also liked how before reading a book we would get background information on it n order to help us to understand where the author is coming from. Even though my in class essays have not been to successful I liked how we had to think in order to get a grade not just memorize. I really like the way Mrs. Smith teaches and hope more teaches can learn the ways of the wonder women smith!!!

alexf said...

Well, this semester I have seen so many changes in regards to my education that it’s astounding. Before coming to this class I just read straight through books without giving them a second thought. I didn’t dare think of the characters’ relationships, hidden meanings, or symbolism, but ever since I’ve been in this class it seems as though I can comprehend twice as much. I now know how to really show my thoughts when writing essays and how to get my points across. Ms. Smith has guided me through all the books and helped me to dig meaning out of what would appear to be a pointless phrase. She showed me how to push myself and take charge of my own learning. Throughout all of this, technology has played a huge role. With these laptops, I have more access to information to extend my learning. I’m not limited to only classroom materials, but what the entire world has to say (internet). Not only this, but I can also work on my writing skills and broaden my vocabulary. With these laptops I am in charge of my own learning.

KekeK said...

Technology in my education so far has made me more responsible. Before, if I had an assignment due that I’d forgotten, I’d just scribble something down on notebook paper. But in our class, we use blogger for a lot of our assignments, which I could type in something, but the date and time would give me away immediately. Now I need to remember blogging and projects before the due date.
I find that placing students in charge of their own learning is a nice idea, but flawed. It’s hard to expect that you place teenage kids in front of computer and trust them to remain completely on task. With honors kids, yes, but what about when they use the average students? Filters aren’t that hard to crack. Although using computers in class is no doubt helpful and it makes sense that we’d use them to promote faster learning, I don’t fully support this new way of education. I’m a technology fearing person. I enjoy using computers and internet, but what will happen when we’re dependent on them? It’s happening all around, people’s lives being slowly consumed by computers, internet, ipods, video games and eventually we’ll become the Fahrenheit 451 society Ray Bradbury tried to warn us about in 1953.

So, although using computers has improved my class technique and has affected the way I learn by supplying me with resources, I do not support technology based classes.

mitchs said...

At the beginning of this semester, I had never taken a class quite like Ms. Smith's English class. One of the first things she said was that, "This is not learning as usual." And this is really not learning as usual. Our use of technology in the classroom has opened new doors to learning. If we are confused about a chapter we have read in a book, we can just go to spark notes and get a simple explanation. I really liked how we did projects to get some background on every book we read this semester. It helps you understand the books better if you know some of the terms and background information that are going to be in a book before you read it. Because we are able to discuss our thoughts and questions online through blogger, our learning never has to stop. We can be at home and still be helping each other learn about a book. Another thing I liked about Ms. Smith's class was that the tests weren't really about memorizing boring information, but they were about taking what you had learned and applying it to a question that actually made you think. All of our books this semester were about challenging the system in some way. They weren't easy to understand either. They caused us to have to think and discuss over blogger to fully get the meaning out of each book. Having the internet as a resource in the classroom is invaluable; the answers to many questions can be obtained by students by simply typing it in on google.com. You really are in charge of your own learning when you can use the internet as your source of information. Of course, we learn from Ms. Smith's teaching, but we can also learn by ourselves by using our laptops.

katyj said...

This semester has been such an experience for me. Not only was I adjusting to high school, but also to a new form of education. My teachers call it 21st century education, and it operates on students being in charge of their own learning. This is hard to get used to after eight years of being coached and led in class, doing busy work, and absorbing facts like a sponge.
Every day I can’t wait to come in to my English class, when I have the opportunity to use a laptop to enhance my learning with the use of technology. I can’t imagine Language Arts without a laptop now, and I miss the laptop I don’t have in all my other classes. The laptop represents the fact that learning has no parameters, that the brain is not an empty jar just waiting to be filled; a person can take their learning as far as they want to, with or without a classroom available at the moment. The brain is not a jar but a storage chip, wanting to be filled up, and once given the opportunity, there is no stopping its progression. I know that nothing short of death could stop my learning process now, it will keep going for as long as I live, never resting, for when does the world stop to let you catch up?
Being in charge of your own education is a liberating feeling. It allows you to absorb as much as you want without being hampered by restrictions such as the end of a class period. You can access your learning any time you want, it is always there, waiting to be let out to see what more it can add to itself, what other mystery can be solved. I know that only I am the limits of my education; that only I can help myself learn as much as I possibly can in order to succeed. No more being spoon fed learning; I must stand on my own and face the world with what I have taught myself, because my teacher and my laptop let me.

Tylerg! said...

I have seen some changes in my learning this semester. First, by using technology I do a more thorough job in my writing, because I can type faster than write by hand. Second, the computers have given me a good way to communicate and write efficiently. Third, I feel like by using technology we can get good discussions, both at school and on the log at home. I love being in charge of my own learning it has given me a chance to challenge myself to do my best and put in the work it needs.

maddieh said...

Throughout the semester, I have realized that I am making more connections and thinking more in-depth. I really think using laptops has helped me a lot with that. It seems like I can get my thoughts down much faster than I can with a pencil and paper, so I feel like I have more time to take in what we are doing and understand more than I could have otherwise. I just feel more organized with a laptop. I have everything I need right there. I am constantly sitting in other classes wishing I had a laptop with me. I feel like my learning is halted in those other classes and I waste time on stupid tasks, like writing out notes or whatever, that can be done so much faster on a computer. To me, it just seems pointless not to let students use technology when teachers use it everyday. We are expected to use technology to type a report or research and complete a project, yet we don't have a computer as a tool open to us in class. That's why I like this class so much- we are able to control how and what we learn. I am way more independent than I was before about my own learning because I have a tool that allows me to do so. I am much more focused with a computer because, like I said, everything is right there. Practically anything can be found online and I really think that that can do more good than bad. I think that technology is something that we should be allowed to have with us everyday and in every class. I have learned so much in this one class this semester and I truly think it has everything to do with the fact I have a computer. It gives me a chance to connect with other students in my class, through Blogger or GoogleDocs, and makes group projects and assignments easier to do. With laptops, we can teach each other and that allows us to spend more time progressing in whatever we are studying. I think laptops are the best way to continue challenging students in the 21st century. My education has drastically changed since I came into this class and I think it was for the better.

Ryad said...

The method of teaching that I have been exposed to in Mrs. Smith’s English class has greatly changed my out look on how education should be. As a student, I am in charge of my own education. I understand now that if I do not accept the responsibility of learning then I will not succeed in the years to come.
Mrs. Smith often uses the phrase, “This is not education as usual.” But I believe that it should be. A schools job is to provide the means for students to prepare themselves for the future. Technology is the future. By having the laptops in our classroom we are better able to utilize the information on the internet for our educational needs. The internet is an amazing and helpful tool that is vital to a student in this age.
Technology is not the only way that my education has changed this year. Before coming to Mrs. Smith’s class I simply regurgitated the facts that had been placed in my brain by teachers. I could in no way see how it would affect my life or help my future. This year every project, book, and discussion has helped to teach me a life lesson. No topic is taught with a one sided view. Ever side of a topic is looked at and we are left to contemplate which opinion we will carry with us.
It is hard to believe but in the last four and a half months I feel that I have learned more about not only English, but life. I feel more confident that with the tools that I collected in this class I will be an educated and important person in society. I am in charge of my learning, and I know now that I will continue learning for the rest of my life.

stephenf said...

My Freshman English began on a questionable format. I was not used to using so much technology, nor was I very good at using what I previously had. I was a very slow typer and could not see any way that I could excel in this class because we did nearly everything on laptops. It was going to be a challenge and it was going to be hard. But that is exactly what I needed. Over the course of the semester I have almost entirely changed the way I look at learning. Before, learning had just been listen to a teacher and do the assignments. Now it is about getting an in depth study of the subjects and pieces that we are learning. Technology played a huge role in all of this. It allowed me to learn on my own and actually research the work. Being in charge of my own learning was a new experience. At first I didn’t do much. I just did the basics. Though I am still doing this I have learned to expand my thoughts and really work for what I want to learn. It means I set my goals and strive for them on my own free will. Ms. Smith has become more of a colleague then a teacher. She gives us guidance but learns with us. They really weren’t kidding when they say you learn something new everyday. Unlike my other accelerated classes, in this English class I can actually see my self getting better and improving. Though I am not the best student, I still know that I am contributing to the class. This experience has not been anything like my normal learning. We really did challenge the system which was our goal all along. All I can say is the technology is here and so are we. We have combined the two and the results are beyond anything any one person could have expected. I can’t wait until next semester when I can come back and do it again.

jordanh said...

I walked into C-11 on August 21, 2007 at 12:14 pm. I knew nobody in my class. I had come from a school with an eighth grade class of just over 40 people, and only 5 of us attend Arapahoe. On top of this, I was the only one of these five who planned to take honors. I was one of the first students to arrive to class that day. I set down my heavy backpack on the tile floor and sat in my assigned seat. Right off the bat I noticed that the desks were arranged in the strangest way I had seen in my educational career. I listened to the chatter amongst me from students I thought I recognized from fourth hour history. “How was your summer?” “Have you taken driver’s ed?” “How is your first day going?” I stared ahead –a little embarrassed that I wasn’t talking to anybody-and noticed two grey carts at the front of the classroom. The bell rang and everybody sat down. Miss Smith entered the room and said “Hello everybody!” Nobody knew what to say, but I know Miss Smith expected this. Unlike most of my classes, she had made no small talk about our summers. She jumped right into learning. She told us about the laptops that we would get to use daily in her class. I was shocked. I had gone through middle school in its entirety without having to type a paper. She told us that together we were going to challenge the system of education. With this, she expected our very best work and told us “I will push you so close to the edge of the cliff that you will think you’ll die, and that’s when I will stop.” The class chuckled a little, but Miss Smith kept a serious composure. I met a few friends over the next week, and enjoyed English class thoroughly. We began the year by reading “Lord of the Flies”. I myself had read the book in seventh grade, so I thought the unit would be a breeze. To my surprise, that was the hardest unit of education in my life. I had never made connections, read so deeply or wrote so well ever. Part of it was the laptops, but what I found out was that it was mostly the way that Miss Smith had us learn with our laptops. She put each student in charge of his learning, but provided us with the perfect amount of technology and discussion needed to do so. Miss Smith has challenged me very hard this year. I have gotten more failing grades on papers then passing ones, but this has made me drop my usual elementary writing style, and she has tapped into a great collection of skill in my brain that I had never in my life been aware of. When I was in eighth grade I was one of the best writers in my class. I got solid A’s on every paper while most received failing grades. I thought high school would be the same-that I would be the very best, but I was incredibly wrong. I have met the most intelligent kids in my life in this honors class. And I am finding out that I still have so much more to learn, but for the first time in my life, I am excited for that. I want to excel in my learning, and teachers like Miss Smith have really brought out that passion for me. Within those grey carts at the front of Miss Smith’s classroom is the one tool that could make education change forever. Laptops have already changed my education. I have never learned like I have this semester in my life, and I know from experience that with the right environment, teachers, and technology, this could be brought out in everybody.

ryanm said...

Over the course of this semester, I have greatly changed in terms of my education. I have become a more self dependant learner with the help of my classmates, Ms. Smith, and of course, a little self motivation. I have become a better “absorber” of information after all of our in depth and productive fishbowls. I am better at making connections to other material in other class, and in past classes because of the fish bowls.

Technology has greatly contributed to my improvement as a learner. The blogs have helped me come out with a greater understanding of the text read in class. With Macbeth, if I didn’t understand something I went to my classmates on the blog, and asked if someone had a better interpretation or view on the book. I was also a contributor to people who had questions when I had understood the text well. I wish we could do more blogs (although they are sometimes a pain if we are frustrated by a complicated piece of the book…) so all of us would understand the texts and lessons of the day better.

I think that the constructivist mentality that most of us have now greatly contributes to our ability to learn and stay focused (which go hand in hand anyway, but are enhanced by this mindset). This way of self direction has better prepared us for later life when every decision we make is crucial to our well being and the well being of others. It also contributes to our ability to think for ourselves and think of others before we make and execute a decision that would affect others. Constructivism has allowed us to take charge of our learning, deciding what is important to learn and what is potentially useless information. I think that the constructivist mentality has helped me and my classmates greatly in this class, by letting us make decisions and pick out what material is important. I think that this is a crucial part of this class, and should be implied throughout the school.

Selenam said...

I noticed that more teachers are using online books and requiring the students to be in charge of their own learning. My favorite advance so far would be the online books, as I have to walk a mile to school every day. Dragging the books back and forth is really impractical, and they weigh a lot, so I’m glad the textbooks are online.
Also, they are teaching us to be responsible for our own learning, which will be necessary for surviving in the society of tomorrow.
With the popularity of technology like the iphone, other high-tech products that will be produced will also be popular, and society will snap up these advances. Eventually, what seems brand new today will be commonplace, and people will take for granted that you have some sort of handheld device that can access the web, and everything will have the touchscreen technology that seems so revolutionary today. People will have to have the ability to cope with the rapidly changing times, so they can use the technology that in the future, would be necessary to live in our society. Otherwise, they would fall behind and be unable to live.
If the teachers do not prepare their students to take charge of their own learning, they will not be able to adapt to the rapidly-changing times and be unable to live a good life.

morgant said...

This English class has made me think like I have never thought before. I’ve never looked for so many connections! Now, I’m making connections in my sleep! I have never gone so deeply into a book and saw so much symbolism. Ms. Smith is an incredible teacher and has opened up my learning to new levels.
Now, let’s see…learning with laptops. This has been a new thing for me lately. At first, I was like, “Cool! I have my own laptop in class!” Now it is just a routine thing for me. I come into class and grab my laptop. I think that having a laptop in class has improved my learning. Before I used laptops, I had tons of binders filled with papers that the teachers gave me. First of all, having a laptop has made me more organized. I have everything in one little compact USB drive. It makes life easier. I can just pull it up on any computer and do what I need to do. Also, about this blogging thing, I love it! I love being able to participate in live blogging online. I like being able to express my ideas online where everybody can read them. I also like building off of other’s ideas. Plus, it eliminates the problem when you forget to bring a book to class. You can always get it online. I think that having a laptop has improved my learning. I can get different opinions from different sources, and have a variety of people telling me their point of view (aka: blogging and research on the internet). Also, looking up words unknown to you is also helpful. You don’t have to go to a dictionary and look it up; you can just go straight online and look it up. Most of all, and my personal favorite, I’m not limited to where I want to go with my learning. I can do whatever I want or go wherever I want to go with my learning and not get in trouble! “This is not education as usual!” With our world developing in technology as it is, computers may be a necessity in classes in the future.

maddisonm said...

Throughout the semester I have noticed an array of positive changes in my learning, just by taking this Honors English class. Even just comparing to last year in my English class, it is amazing the difference in my interpretation and comprehension of complex books. I feel that I can better handle a large amount of homework, and the speed at which I read has slightly excelled. I feel I learned that I need to really try and reach an answer, on my own, and push myself into becoming a producer of information. Ms. Smith has helped me develop into a wonderful student, and learner. She helped me search to find the deeper meaning and understanding to everything I do. Her learning style has made me want more from my education, and being provided a laptop has helped me with my learning. I would most definitely say my learning has hoisted being provided a laptop in the classroom. I find myself using it to its every advantage. When I am unclear on a topic, I look it up. When I need to take quick notes, I pull up a Word Document. Laptops bring so much more into a classroom environment than can ever be expected. Even at home I use the computer for other classes, every chance I get. I will type up project, study guides, even just a little class assignments. If I would have not had the laptop experience, I do not believe I would be so fluent, and accustom to the wonderful tool of a computer. When you have a laptop, you feel more responsible for your own learning. It is up to the student to decide how they will use the laptop. I believe, that with the certain style of teaching, such a Ms. Smith’s, laptop based education, can benefit a student for a lifetime!

macm said...

Well, as education goes I think that I have grown in a couple of ways. My writing has become more organized, even though my back pack is not. It’s hard for me to keep paper things organized, but when I am in English I can just pull up any old document I need. I can also look up ways to cite sources online and the parameters of any assignment. I have also done more of my homework because it is online every day, which is a HUGE help to me. I think that having the technology in class is really great, especially in English because I am more organized and my writing flows better when I am sitting down at a computer. A big one for me is notes. Usually I don’t take them because it makes my hand hurt and I can’t get all of the information I need. With the technology available in this class I can type my notes, which is much faster for me and I can also back them up with pictures or facts from the internet. Speaking of the internet, I feel that I have become more web-savvy. I can differentiate good websites from the bad which is a big help when doing a research paper. Having computers in this class has also helped my typing abilities, which is very practical and has already helped me in other classes. Many people think that having the technology in class stifles the teacher’s interaction with the students, but it really stimulates conversation because the students have arguments based on facts, not just what the teacher says. Also, I am now making connections at a deeper level and not just in English. We’ll be sitting at the dinner table and I’ll make a connection to the 1920s or Macbeth! I guess that mostly the habits of the ways I learn and the sources that I get my information from have changed more than the curriculum or anything else. I think the constructivist philosophy and technology played a huge role in this instantaneous learning, because I had to want to learn in new ways and look at both sides instead of just one. The instant I sit down to that computer, the learning begins!

mattf said...

I have seen a great amount of changes in my education this year. During previous years, my education consisted mainly of being lectured at for forty-five minutes and getting an assignment for the night. I would then go home and spend about fifteen minutes on the assignment. Now, my education consists of being much more productive at home. Using blogger, the learning does not end in the classroom. Instead, we continue to teach ourselves at home, long after the “lecture hour” has ended. This increases our contact time with the teacher and other students about the material discussed in class. We are much more productive in class as we can finish more at home. This makes us much more productive during class because we have covered more material and go through the curriculum quicker. Technology allows us to extend the school day and learn outside of school. The role that the constructivist philosophy played in this is one of most importance. We are in charge of our learning and can therefore choose how to spend our time. With computers, we have access to most anything, but the constructivist philosophy makes us stay on task and do our work. With this strategy, we cannot blame the teacher for our mistakes, claiming she didn’t teach the material. It is only our responsibility, which keeps people on task. Computers give us that freedom, allowing us to look up things we don’t understand and work at our own pace. Students’ attention span is much longer if they are not rushed or slowed down by the class. This leads to more productivity and efficiency, which is what we need to succeed in the world. Computers allow us to do all this, which is why it is essential to our learning to have them.

mitchl. said...

Before this year, I was thinking that honors English was just going to be a normal Language Arts class like in middle school. I thought that all we’d be doing was studying vocab words, and taking notes on different parts of speech. Boy was I wrong. Over the past semester, our class has done everything from analyzing Shakespeare to blogging and sharing what we have learned about on Fahrenheit 451. Not only have we done all that, but we have learned the vocab words and actually used them frequently throughout the activities we have done. The computers that are used in this class are extremely necessary for all the research and learning that takes place. Not only can we blog on the computers, but also write papers and research projects that we have. When I look back at my other English classes, I just can’t process the idea of not having a computer, and instead I’d have to wait till I got home to do anything on a computer. In this class each and every student is in charge of their own learning. With the availability of computers, the student chooses the amount of learning that takes place in this class. They can either follow the directions, or chose to slack off. But each student in this class knows that these computers are a privilege and they use them correctly therefore getting the fullest out of the days lesson. Even though many students get enough of school when the day is over, that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. As I have found out, there are still many ways to still learn even if your not at school. One of the ways that I still learn is by blogging. If you post a question on the blog, you are pretty much guaranteed to get an answer with at least an hour.
This is not education as usual.

melissaz said...

This year has been amazing in Ms. Smith’s class. I was just talking to my mom not too long ago and I was telling her how amazing it has been. I can’t even imagine myself not being in some sort of laptop class room and I know that I am so lucky to be one of the few that does. Before I talk about the technology, I am going to talk about Ms. Smith as a teacher and the things she has done to change the way that I think and the way I learn, and she has done just that. Before, I had had some great teachers that really helped in my learning, but not in the same way I have in this class this year. I have never really reflected on what I am learning and how I am doing it, but this year I have really started to pay attention. Ms. Smith has actually gotten me to think about things I never would have notice; especially in my reading. We have read many deep novels and before I would have simply read those stories and missed the simple language the author was using to convey a quiet point, or the symbolism in the simple things, and even the real connections that can be made throughout the stories. When she got my mind turning, it all seemed to fall into place and I was focusing on things I never would have and picking up on key details. Before I would have never been able to read and understand Macbeth, along with noticing the symbolism. I am thinking about, not only in the books, about things I had never and the students in my class are also so helpful in giving another view, they are also important to the learning I have made this year. I love how we actually discuss things; there isn’t necessarily a time limit. We can get onto deep subjects, and before, I had never had that sort of thing in any classroom setting. Now to throw the technology into the mix, simply, I love it! I have every resource I could possibly need right in front of me. I really feel that because of the technology I can truly take control of my own learning. I had a teacher last year that tried to allow us to take control, and it definitely helped better my education, but only with the laptops, I think, can one really take that control. I don’t have to do everything the old fashion way, I can type my notes. If I don’t understand something correctly, I can look it up online or check out the blog and ask my class. There are so many advantages to having a laptop class and I can only hope that it is in my future classes. Online books have so much more benefit than the real thing. From the books I have online, the publisher can actually put other methods to help with the understanding or activities to allow the student to really understand. I have grown so much in this 6 months, I almost can’t believe it, my dad can’t either (from the way it has changed since he was a student)!

catem said...

As the end of the first semester approaches, I look at myself, and see a completely different person. Well maybe not completely different, but I know that at the end of last year all the achievements I have made throughout the year would not have been plausible. If I were still and middle school, and was told to read two books at once, do a project, learn ten vocabulary words, and swim at least six days a week all at the same time, I probably would have fainted. However after the first few stressful weeks of high school, that has become an average to-do list in my life. Although I have learned amazing time management skills, I do not feel as though I am being rushed at all. Not only do we read and annotate in Ms. Smith’s class, we learn from the book. I remember the first time a teacher told me to make connections in a book. It was fifth grade I said that the character in the book ate food just like me. Ever since then I have HATED making connections, until I entered high school. Not only am I connecting the text to my life and other classes throughout the school, I also connect it to the world, and other texts. It sounds like something a fifth grader would do, but it is so much more. When we make those connections they aren’t about what we ate, but about how the topic affects humanity, the world, and the future. And probably the best thing about this class is getting to share our thoughts with our classmates and anyone else who wants to hear them. That’s right our learning isn’t restricted to just the classroom, it can go anywhere that a computer can. By being able to blog our thoughts, ideas, and questions, we can get responses from anyone who cares. After winter break our class has an opportunity to blog with the author Daniel Pink. Through this blogs and others we have had, maybe the world won’t see us just as kids, but as the future. We may be teenagers, yet we care about the world too. Maybe if someone would take the time to just listen to what we have to say, then just maybe we could change the world.
Don’t be fooled however, we are not lost without technology. One day our teacher was gone, and we were supposed to do a fishbowl blog on the book Fahrenheit 451. As for those of you who don’t know, a fishbowl blog is when you have some people in the middle discussing something with words and the people around them discussing what the people in the middle are saying and other ideas through blogging. Anyways, the sub could not figure out how to open the laptop cabinet, so she said that all the people could take notes on what the center was saying or join the middle. Of course everyone wanted to join the middle and discuss, until some of us had our idea to make a paper blog. We wrote down our ideas on five different pieces of paper and passed them around. So we are not limited to education with technology, just because we use it. I just hope we keep on blogging and discussing our ideas, and hopefully future students in schools other than our own will have the same great opportunity we have had. The world is changing, and education should change with it.

Laurenc said...

This year has been very important in the ways of my learning. I have never before been in a class where the teacher wanted us to be in charge of learning. Having 8 years of the typical memorization and regurgitation learning system obviously have made their impact on me and so having a new system to follow made me ecstatic. Technology in the classroom was the main source of my happiness. I have always been a big technology user and even have my own laptop at home. It is so convenient to have access to a laptop at school, especially in a class like English where it is important to have quick and easy access to reference materials.

Schools having become more modern have helped everyone in many ways. Even parents now have a quick way to check on their students progress (grades) and even contact teachers and other staff with minimal effort. The students of course also benefit from being able to check and see what grade they have in each class and what, if any, missing or late assignments they need to know about. Online textbooks also help a ton. Maybe for someone who drives it isn’t such a big deal to carry home some textbooks but for students who walk home it becomes a big deal. You know how big textbooks are and how much it kills your back to walk 4 blocks home with 3 textbooks in your backpack. It isn’t good for anyone’s health! Just being able to boot up a computer and have the entire book on the screen is not only convenient but amazing as well. Technology has come a long way and it is the 21st century so why shouldn’t we use what’s available?

It is also important for students to be in charge of their own learning. No one is going to hold our hands in college so why should they in high school? We have to prepare for the real world now.

beckyg said...

I have seen many changes in my education this semester. I have definitely learned to be a lot more independent because Ms. Smith gave us a lot of freedom. I have noticed in our class a direct result of that. We are always quiet in work time and getting a lot of things done. In most classes there is always some talk and the teacher is always saying be quiet. In ours, we never have those times but when we are in fishbowl or having discussions, we always have people wanting to talk and letting their voices be heard. Through our fishbowl discussions, I have gained greater understanding of all the books we have read. When I blogged my questions online and they were answered by my fellow students, I learned to view things from more than just my perspective. I learned to view things from every angle, inside and out, however anyone else might feel about it and shine light on what I would not have understood before. I still come to class and the other students guide me through a new crevice or crease in the subject that I had not yet explored, which usually sparks a connection that leads my train of thought on and on. We learn from each other. Our learning also continues, not from bell to bell, but from day to day whenever we log on to the computer and get on the blog we are able to continue not only our own learning, but the learning of our other classmates. The use of computers in class every day is one of the best things that could have possibly happened to our class. We will be able to enhance our learning with the opinions of influential people in our society because of our use of computers. Without technology, we would not be able to learn with these people or to learn in the way we are learning in our class at all. We are able to share our ideas much easier than if we did not have computers. In our Chosen background project, we used http://docs.google.com to work together to create a PowerPoint. Any other way we would have had to somehow work around our hectic schedules to get together to put together our project, but with http://docs.google.com we were able to create our project without getting together or e-mailing back and forth and the changes were seen instantly on one another’s computers. It was a very nice relief to know that I was able to have the internet on that project. Throughout this entire semester, I have been so grateful to have a laptop. I work better on the computer. It is easier for me to write on the computer and I absolutely love having them. This class is amazing and I can not wait for our next semester. I have grown so much in my learning and I truly think every student should have laptops.

ParkerH said...

My education has changed greatly over the course of this semester. My understanding of books and roles has never been greater. I never learned as much in any English, let alone the other parts of learning. The whole general feeling of acceptance and camaraderie in this class is amazing, and it is almost like we have our own culture. It has helped my learning significantly. The technology and instant learning capability, as well as the class culture, has increased my potential so much, and from what I can tell, everyone else’s too.
I can now learn what I want, when I want, and use that information in ways I never had before. For instance, I was able to look up how fast planes fly currently, and then compare it to Fahrenheit 451. I can also talk to classmates whenever on the class blog. Weekends and trips are still opportunities to learn. As Ms. Smith has said, our learning is never over, even when we leave the classroom. Because of this, and being able to use what we have available in the world, is preparing us for the future and giving us a big jump into modern society.
I studied one of the books we read this semester, Lord of the Flies, before now. I didn’t get nearly as much out of it then as I did know, I think that it is greatly in part to the different learning environment. The class is closer together due to the amount of fishbowls and blogging that we do together. We learn off of each other, as well as make our own connections. As a class, we are still making connections to the beginning of the year and to the books we read.
I said earlier that we have almost a class culture. I believe that this is true. We all have our spot, and we all follow the same rules and do similar things, but have individuality still. Let me explain. If we are having a group discussion, for example, and someone hasn’t gotten a chance to talk, people step in and help the person talk. We build off of each other’s ideas and don’t put anyone down. We are almost a big giant family, with Ms. Smith as the parent that lets us learn by ourselves, but guides us and gives us assistance. Maybe it’s not a culture as much as a family, but everyone, to the best of my knowledge, is learning and growing like never before.
Our theme has been Challenging the System, or CTS, this semester. This is what we have been doing. Our learning style is not the normal one. I mean, how many students do you know that use laptops everyday in High School? Not many, I’m guessing. Unless, of course, the student is in this class or the 2nd hour class. Until now, I haven’t been in many classes, if any, that had this many good feelings towards each other. I wish that every class was like this one. I also wish that as a class, we don’t have to challenge the learning system anymore.

whitneys said...

This past semester I had the opportunity of being in an English class where each student was given a lap top to use during the class. The first thought that came to my mind when I received my laptop was, “YAY! I will not have to write with a pencil and paper!” However; over the past 18 weeks of utilizing a lap top, I have discovered the changes it caused in my education exceed that of being able to type.
My education in English has become one in which I have been forced to discover the concepts on my own and take control of my learning. Of course my teacher was always there to guide and help students when needed, yet she didn’t just present us with information that we regurgitated through tests. For example, we are currently reading The Chosen by Chaim Potok and during the reading our teacher has assigned us projects. She gives no specific way in which we must do these projects, only that they need to show the comparison between the characters or the relationships between the characters. Now that was pretty scary to have you teacher hand you an assignment without giving any give specific guidelines as to how you were to show it! But it allowed me to learn the idea she was trying to teach on my own and in a way that I understood. Further, I had to process this information I found through the book and figure out a way to show what I had learned. After completing the projects, I was amazed at how much I understood the book even though I had taught myself! To say the least, control over my own education has caused me to learn the information, understand it, process it, and reproduce it in the way I had understood it. What role does technology play in this? Well, computers allow students to blog with each other and discuss the information we were learning inside AND out of school. This caused us to further understand the book, because we were teaching and learning from each other by sharing our own ideas. In addition, when I was in class and my teacher mentioned something that I didn’t quite understand, through the internet I was instantly connected to an entire data base of information. Finally, laptops allowed the efficiency of my learning to increase immensely! When working on a group project, we can type it on the computer (yes I know that I did mention typing has changed my learning positively, but it is not just because it is easier than writing on paper:). Then with USB storage devices, all of us can have to information with out wasting the time to each copy it on our own pieces of paper. This allows us to continue our learning at a quicker pace and thus increase the amount we learn.
This semester has changed my education so that I learn so much more. I learn and process, rather then memorize and regurgitate.

hannahl said...

As I walked down the jam-packed hallway, I received many a flabbergasted glance. Why? Because I was reading and walking and gaping all at once, in the middle of 400 screaming high school students. This in itself marks a change in my learning. Not the walking with a book in my hand, I have often done this in the middle of a particularly exciting chapter. It was the fact that this particular book was required reading, and that my gaping was not at the events going on, but the profound reverberations in my bones of the eloquent words of the author. The only reason why these echoes made their way to every chamber of my mind is because of Ms. Smith. This is my testimony of how my mind has changed in ways I never expected.
To me, learning is the most sacred thing in human existence. Learning, however, is a complex web of emotions and logic which is enough to make any person want to stop and pursue an easier path, one more often followed. This, sadly, is the mistake which most of today’s students make. It is the mistake of believing that learning is only for the grade. That the pursuit of knowledge has no weight in the well-being of mind and body. I feel pity for these students because I myself now understand how learning can change a person. I have always learned, but now, I am searching for learning. I am pursuing pathways of study which otherwise would have seemed out of my realm. I am stretching my mind, challenging my ideals, and blurring the line between school and life.
This growth in my learning can be pinned down to my fifth period honors English class, in which Ms. Smith is my teacher. She is more than that, though, she is a “sounding-board” for all of my crazy ideas and philosophies. Before, I had very few outlets for my sometimes wild and crazy ideas, but now I feel secure in setting them free within the loving confines of room C-11. The walls of this classroom have been knocked down, and the learning within it has spilled out. Through technology, this is possible.
The instant information that can be accessed through the Internet helps me to really understand a concept during discussions. If there is a quotation that I just can’t quite remember, I can pull up Google and search for it in an instant, raise my hand, and use it to back up my reasoning. Through this use of technology, I am learning how to have a basis for my reasoning and how to make it more believable to others. Never again will I sit, wondering about that quotation that I just can’t quite remember. Now, I can really get into what I am saying and know that it is correct. Also, I can take my learning outside of the class.
Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most widely acknowledged pieces of American literature ever written. It has many hints of an uncertain future, and many deep insights into the nature of man. While reading an issue of TIME Magazine, I found a connection between China’s youth and those in Bradbury’s fictitious society. I was very excited to see this massive real world connection right in front of my eyes, and was quickly thinking of ways to share this connection with my fellow classmates. I e-mailed Ms. Smith (Proactive eh?) and asked her how to do a post on our class blog, something which was new to me. I learned how, and the next night I posted about my connection. People replied with gratitude and their own opinions to add to mine. Some agreed with me, and some showed how China might differ from Bradbury’s society. This helped me grow into my ideas and helped me to question them so that my argument could be stronger. This self-interrogating and want to back up my opinions with fact has led me to a discovery within myself of how I learn best.
I love to debate, if someone disagrees with me, they better be ready to back it up. I will discuss hot political topics with friends, quarrel with my parents about the changing roles of teenagers in society, and drive people away with my outspoken personality. The difference between this, which I have always done, and what I do now is that now I question my own thoughts. It is a complicated way of becoming stronger in my beliefs, but very effective. When, for instance, I was reading The Chosen, I identified strongly with the character of Danny Saunders. Through his pursuit of knowledge, he found material which questioned his beliefs and made him have to really understand why he believed what he did. Through this, he grew into these somewhat nepotistic beliefs and they became his own. Likewise, through the constant barrage of questioning that I receive over my ideals, I have learned to really understand myself. This shows that I have not changed only as a student, but as a person and a citizen.
This is because I am no longer confined to discussions within the short one-hour class period allotted to us by the school board. I can now have a revelation at 10:00 PM and still share it with my fellow peers. I can log onto blogger, type my revelation, and instantly have a meaningful discussion about it. Also, I now have a greater desire to do so because the material being discussed has real world implications. We are not discussing these things so that we can be accepted to Harvard. We are not doing it to impress future employers either. We are doing it because we WANT to. WE WANT TO LEARN! I have never before seen such a thirst for learning within one class. I have never before felt the profound sense of relief that hits me when I open the door to C-11. The learning environment is so inspirational. Signs preach to the gospel with phrases like “This is not education as usual”. In Macbeth there is a famous quote, “Blood will have blood.” Likewise, in this classroom passion will have passion. Motivation will have motivation. Ms. Smith’s thirst for learning has inspired us to want to learn as well. I feel as if the educational system must follow this path in order for our future leaders to be visionaries. We must inspire students, and teach them to teach themselves. With technology, this is possible.

kristinah said...

Classroom education with a technological twist. What a new adventure. Never before have I had complete and immediate access to whatever information I needed to know. Never before have I had the answer to any of the questions right at my finger tips.

This semester, in English class, I have seen my education change greatly. I have definitely not seen any decrease in my learning. Nor have I experienced any disappointments. With the education provided in Ms. Smith’s class I am now able to make connections between every aspect of my life and learning. Ms. Smith has increased my thirst for knowledge by forcing me to question things and change things to my personal view. She has encouraged me to dig deeper, beyond the commonly looked upon surface, and find the greater meaning behind things, any things.

I remember she said at the beginning of the year that she was going to push us hard, but she would never push us over the edge. When I first heard this, I braced myself for a tormenting experience. Now I am not saying that it was a leisurely stroll through Park Avenue on a Sunday morning but it was an experience that I would never want replaced. I have been pushed near to my breaking point but as she promised she did not push me over it. I truly believe that in life you have to be pushed out of your comfort zone in order to grow, and this class had definitely done both of those things for me. When I first came into English nine honors I was not used to having my own laptop and having access to the "information network" whenever I needed it. But since I was pushed out of that comfort zone I have grown to love the availability and the growth in learning that the laptops provide.

Beside the point of technology, Ms. Smith often has us discuss ideas among each other and as she says "be in charge of our own learning." These discussions have opened a new window for me. They have lead me into a deeper way of thinking and analyzing the things that I read and learn. I love the fact that Ms. Smith encourages us throughout our learning and inspires us to think of new things and dissect the information we receive instead of just receiving it and regurgitating it as Ms. Smith calls it.

I have also seen a change in the way that I view the learning done in my other classes. I have now realized that it is pointless. My teachers throw this stuff out at me and tell me to learn it so that I can throw it all back out at them on our next test. They give me no connection to the outside world and they are far from encouraging me to use it outside of the classroom. The learning in most of my other classes stops when the bell rings. Without the immediate access to computers in my other classrooms, I might have questions that the teacher does not know the answer to or isn't willing to spend time answering but by the time I can access the answer, the question has disappeared from my mind. Also without the ability to further my knowledge past the text book and past the teachers knowledge, my thirst to do so diminishes and I often find myself bored in the class.

One last thing that I have been newly introduced to is blogging!!! Wow, what a useful tool for anyone. This is what will bring our learning and our knowledge past the classroom door and past the ring of the bell. With blogging we can all share our ideas, discuss our questions, and engage in conversations when we are unable to meet face to face. Now I am not saying that this is a replacement for real human face to face communication. That is why it is a great thing that Ms. Smith has a balance between the two. We discuss in class then blog when we are away from the classroom or when we do fishbowl (a small group of people discusses in the middle and the rest of the class has the ability to blog). I have greatly enjoyed this new experience because it was not an assignment, it was a chance to expand and deepen our learning.

Ms. Smith inspires us and encourages us. She pushes us and leads us down the less traveled road. She also does not give out assignments, she gives out chances to expand and deepen our learning. She made the effort and accomplished her goal of providing her students with technology to expand their learning (which it has done greatly). That is why Ms. Smith is such a great teacher.

ashleyf said...

Every other English class has been totally straight forward, and in no way helping me understand anything new. Everyday we would read a chapter and have a quiz. But in this class, being able to talk through the symbolism and relationships, make our reading have meaning, rahter than jsut another assignment.

Without this class, I would have had minumal connections to books such as Lord of the Flies and The Chosen. But i remember a discussion in which we relized that all teh books we've read this year have to do with battles within the characters and with each other....i thought it was very interesting.

Havign the laptops in class is really cool, but i dotn really feel it has improved my learning at all. Much of the time i turn on my computer and the screen is down for the whole class period. The blogging is a good idea outside of class, but i don't feel it's needed inside the class when we could have the option to talk in person with one another. Human contact, with computers, the world is starting to forget it.

I love how it's not just Ms. Smith spitting information at us. We control what goes on in the class room. It becomes where we work, our place to talk about things that matter.

I remember going into this class thinking "Yes! A class that matters!" A lot of classes i have this year are so incredibly pointless. And every time I go to English, i feel I can come out knowing more. Once we had a discussion on LOF and i literally started jsut going off on the conversation with MAddie in the hallway, because i had so much more to say.

lesliel said...

Dear Mrs. Smith,
My learning has changed a lot due to technology this semester. Before, I started out as a person who was very loyal to paper. Then, you challenged me to challenge the system and I began to let a little bit more technology into my learning. I have found that the technology has given me a different way to learn. I knew how to learn from a book, from a board, and from spoken words and now I also know how to learn with computers. Though this has been effective, I know that when I have a class without laptops in the future I won’t be overwhelmed by not having them available. This has been a great experience for me, however, I know that without English honors =( I won’t be learning from the computer and I won’t really feel the necessity to. I really have enjoyed English class and it has become one of my favorite classes because of the different learning environment. I’m glad I still have more than a semester left to be in this class and I thank you for making education not usual.

Sincerely

Leslie Logan

morganw said...

This semester has been the best learning opportunity that I’ve ever had. My learning ability has increased so much; I can barely begin to describe it. I never thought that having laptops in my English class would effect my growth in learning as much as it has. Having laptops in even just one class has allowed me to advance in all of my classes, not just my laptop class. It has taught me how to multi-task, to cooperate with others, the importance of proofreading, how to access information from online sources, and how to best utilize the tools and resources that are available to me. Most importantly though, I have learned that you cannot confine learning to one specific definition or location. Learning can happen anywhere, you don’t need to put limits on it. My teachers Mrs. Cornils and Ms. Smith have helped me understand this concept. Working with laptops has forced me problem solve (for we all know computers can have their share of problems) without compromising my learning. I could spend all day in my laptop class and still have a thirst for learning. I can’t even imagine how much I could learn if I were to have a personal laptop and if all of my classes were laptop classes.

Now my learning knows no boundaries; this may sound corny, but it honestly does not. I look up information about topics we are studying in my various classes outside of assignments and classrooms. I want to learn. I now schedule appointments with my teachers just to talk to them about my learning – I’m that hooked on it. The teachers and staff at Arapahoe High School have lifted my learning to new levels by giving me access to technology during school. I have done Geometry, Science, English, History, ICA, Theatre, and Spanish homework on a computer. Technology has become vitally important to my learning and being a producer of knowledge.

I have always been an active learner, but this year has changed that. Now I not only have a thirst for knowledge and learning, but I am a producer of knowledge as well. I go out and seek information. I owe this new change to my teachers, who have been pushing me to the edge and telling me to build a bridge with only my mind. At first glance the task may seem impossible, but the more you look at the problems, the more ways you can figure out to solve them. You can use teamwork to help, teachers will always assist you, and you slowly start to make some sense out of the problem. The more you think about it and work on it, the more time you want to spend on it. Pretty soon you glance back and realize that you have made the bridge and are back in a comfort zone again. At this point, you could simply stop and stay where you are comfortable, or you can go on, push yourself to the next edge and figure out how to cross it. By this time, you are thriving on knowledge and learning and it never even occurs to you to stop. So you go on, and face harder and harder challenges. The harder the challenge, the more fun and excitement you have. Learning becomes a way of life for you. You search out learning opportunities in your everyday life. This is how I feel my learning has developed.

DawnielleN said...

If someone were to walk into room Cll during 5th period they would be greeted with a classroom like no other. In that class every student has a laptop that holds their thoughts, their notes, their work, their education. In this class there are 29 teachers, 28 of whom are under the age of fifteen. Coming into a class like this was intimidating to me. There was a time when I couldn’t fathom how a teacher could expect me to be responsible for my own learning. At first it was a stretch, it was a leap of faith that has definitely paid off. My education is now developed in ways I never knew it could. I finally have the opportunity to show my potential when assigned a project and I finally have the recourses to solve my own problems. I can now learn from my piers while I am listening to someone speak at the same time. My learning is no longer limited at pen and paper, text books, or endless lectures. I now come to class exited to learn and I feel as if I am now equipped to truly do just that.

Technology was once something used for my own entertainment. This semester I see that technology is a vital tool. Through the form of a laptop technology has made it possible for me to become independent. It has opened doors that have allowed me to learn in the virtual world as well as in a classroom. I can see what people around the world think about a topic and I can gain insight on things that are new to me. While discussing something with a large group it is hard to always get your ideas across the way you want them to be heard. Using class blogs and other internet tools my ideas can be written for my piers to read if I cannot convey them at a time. Technology has exposed a whole new world of learning to me and that world is a place of potential, new experiences, and opportunity.

I never imagined that I would be learning so much from people my own age. In discussions I am constantly challenged to think at a new level that maybe no one else has thought at. I finally understand that a students’ best teacher can be someone that they can truly relate to. The new form of teaching Mrs. Smith has brought to the class has almost nothing to do with authority, grades, and mindless work. It has everything to do with analyzing, looking through a different set of eyes, seeing past the text, and reaching your potential.
This semester I feel as if I can truly break through barriers and I think that this feeling is one that every student should experience.