Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Technology

Hello Everyone,

The article I read was Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Technology written by Sheena Vaidyanathan from Los Altos School District in California.  The article focused on a digital design program offered to students and how well they are benefiting from the program.

A key factor Sheena made in her article is that students need to compete in the global workforce in this day and time by being educated in STEM left-brain subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). At the same time creativity and innovation skills need to be developed which are right brain activities.  Sheena went on to explain for the last two years every fourth through sixth grade student in the district has participated in a twelve week  digital design computer program.  The focus is on creativity through technology.

The digital art class is a huge success and students realize they can make mistakes and feel comfortable doing so because they know the "undo" button does what it is suppose to do.  The students can breathe easy because mistakes can be made and they have access to an endless supply of paper, paint and other miscellaneous materials embedded in the computer program.  Many times the students would mimic the teacher's image then realize they can create their own.  Their fear of failure is erased and "encourages experimentation and leads to innovation" (27).           

Digital designs foundation incorporates math, science, and engineering.  It is a combination of art and technology.  Many students identify with the graphics and the relationship to math.  It is virtually stimulating for the creative brain putting several subjects together simultaneously.  The digital design program is beneficial financially because all the programs used are free.  Also, the development of the curriculum is available under a "Creative Commons attribution license" (27), at no cost to the school for the curriculum.  These two factors alone make it more appealing to everyone involved.

The feedback from students and parents is very positive which brings attention to this program and makes the digital design program appealing to many educators.  I can see how the program would benefit many students and reach out to students to compete in the global workforce for the students future.  I think the article gave insight to digital learning and the positive attributes that come from taking a class focused on creativity and innovation.  The Sketch program was mentioned which was ironic since our class recently finished projects from the site.
Here is a sample lesson of a digital design curriculum:

Imaginary Creatures/Using
Art concepts: using lines to create
shapes, eyes, and other details
Technology concepts: editing paths,
grouping objects, exporting files
Math concepts: editing a line by
modifying points or nodes

Thanks for reading,

Vaidyanathan, Sheena.(March/April 2012).Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Technology.Learning and Leading with Technology, 39.Retrieved from


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Common Core Initiatives - Advantage and Road Block

Hello Readers,
Listening to the video on common core state standards for the elementary level students was eye-opening to what is going on in our educational environment.  Forty states are conforming to the basic standards across the board with math and language arts.  This means the majority of the United States are having one set of common core requirements focusing on college career readiness as early as kindergarden.  The learning is different from the past in that it challenges students thinking to go beyond what is expected.  I think tapping into students abilities at an early age can only increase the knowledge children can achieve. 

The standards are expecting mastery in addition and subtraction during K-2nd grade and multiplication and division during 3rd-5th.  I believe this is a wonderful concept because I work with high school students and a good majority of them struggle with simple math fact.  It is sad to see some of these students deficient in their multiplication facts among other mathmatical practices and they are close to graduating.  Somewhere these students got lost and if we can start students earlier and maintain a higher level of learning the more productive we can be as educators and they can be as students.

The states do not have to start over with new common core standards they need to expand on what is being learned now since these initiatives are happening already. The only draw back I can see is funding. But, that is with everything else. The video discussed technology being used for extended learning and not all the school districts will have monies available to them. I believe academics should be funded as a primary concern for our younger generation to advance them in their future.

If you are interested, connect to this site for middle school common core standards:

Thanks for reading,


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Bringing Computational Thinking to K-12

Do you belive that learning should tap into computational thinking for students today?
Why/Why not?

Hello Class, 
Today, learning is far from getting out a text book and a teacher lecturing all day.  The learning has taken on new levels and I believe tapping into computational thinking is a process on the rise.  Research shows California’s educational system has significantly lower scores academically than that of other states.  I believe computational learning will help develop critical thinking and problem solving to tap into the creative minds of students.
 The article, Bringing computational thinking to K-12: What is Involved and What is the role of the computer Science Education Community? By Valerie and Chris Stephenson, illustrates factors necessary for exposure to K-12 computational thinking.  These factors are developing significant resources, systemic change, and teacher engagement.  Students need to be introduced to computing early and be able to work algorithmic problem solving and computational methods.  An important role is for the computer science education community is to mesh the the application methods and tools together.  Also, with this, educational policies and procedures need to be changed.
Another factor of importance is the definitions and descriptive language that computer science involves.  Computer science involves mechanics, design principles, and practices.  Barr and Chris Stephenson state, “the study of computers and algorithmic processes including their principles, their hardware and software design, their applications and their impact on society”.
I think a profound statement indicates that students not only become tool users but tool builders as well.  Student will use concepts and learn the process of information and analyze data to create solutions through critical thinking and problem solving.  This is the way the educational system  is heading and I think it’s a good source to help with critical thinking.  We are all solving issues and problems everyday, what better way than to increase strategies to solve these problems through computational thinking. 
The new way of learning will be evident in computational thinking in the classroom, not only as an individual, but as a group.  This brings active problem solving where engaging in solving problems with the tools supplied and trial and error.  Computational learning is on the rise and will be in the classroom sooner than later.


Barr, Valerie, & Stephenson, Chris (2011). Computational thinking to K-12: What is involved and what is the role of the computer science education community. ACM Inroads, Vol. 2(1), 48-54.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Five Steps to an Accessible Classroom Website

Hello Classmates, 

The way technology is today, we as educators need to grab a hold of technology and use it to our benefit.  In the classroom and among the parents a website is another useful tool for communicating.  Teachers have an audience of diverse people and should keep this in mind when publishing a website that follows guidelines which are accessible.  When designing a website many factors come into play; accessibility to visual, hearing, speech disabilities, just to name a few.  A variety of tools is used to operate a website, consisting of a screen magnifier, Braille display, a keyboard instead of a mouse.  The best attribute going for a website is the design because it leads to greater accessibility to other information.
In the article, 5 Steps to an Accessible Classroom Website, by Lind Amundson, she lists the following five steps to follow to open opportunities for a wide variety of diverse users to connect.
Step 1: Organize for Easier Navigation – The use of headers identifying sections and formatted similar to an outline.  Horizontal lines and graphics are important.  You do not want to have a page too big for the screen or horizontal scrolling.  Percent formatting is better than fixed pixel for images and remember those with color blindness have a hard time distinguishing between red and green, so avoid those colors.
Step 2: Navigation without a Mouse – The Tab key is an easy navigator for those with vision problems or someone with a temporary injury like a broken arm.  A site without a mouse needs an access key trait in the link code.  The access key helps direct a letter key to go to a linked page.
Step 3:  Text Explanation for Images – Whatever is not in text format needs to have text around it; for example, pictures, maps, audio. There should be enough information the reader does not question what is missing.  A caption is needed in video and sound too.  If there is too much text on a page then add an additional text only page and create a link between the two.
Step 4: Using Text that Makes Sense – Use text that describes the link thoroughly.  This article suggested using a “title” attribute.  If you use the same link text many times on the same page should link each time to the same page.
Step 5:  Web Validators – When you are finished designing your web page, web evaluators determine accessibility, writing a report and listing any problems.
After the steps are followed using these criteria; making a step by step design a good resource of communication.  The final check is using your website without a mouse, turn sound off, change setting the turn off images, resize window, check website using gray-scale color scheme.
As a teacher, I will use these five steps as a guideline, however, the data is outdated and there is more current information available to create a website useful to the diverse population in my classroom.  I believe these fall into the ISTE NETS 3 and 5, which I think will be useful, plus I am excited to get a website up and running.

Until next time,

Conni ~

Amundson, Linda (2009). Five Steps to an Accessible Classroom Website. Learning and Leading With Technology, Volume 37. Retrieved from

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Computing in the Clouds - Article #2

Hello All,                                                                                                          
The article, “Computing in the Clouds”, made some valuable attributes to what education and schools can do with cloud computing.  First, the author, Doug Johnson, brings attention to better service and lower cost cloud computing can bring to schools which benefits the financial aspect of schools.  Cloud computing relies on applications and file storage that reside on networks – internet, intranet, or local networks.  An advantage in this direction is you do not have to worry about insufficient storage on your computer, hard drive, or flash drive.  The information stored is all in a cloud, all a person would need is access to the internet.  The author points out that the best part of web-based applications is they are free, which I could not agree more.
Using cloud computing can be less expensive because students can access the cloud on lower end computers.  These netbooks, as they are referred to, need to have a full-fledge web browser, antivirus and spyware programs to be beneficial in classes.  Even if a student leaves the computer at home, as long as there is internet access, the student can gain entry into their work from a different computer. When the author, Doug Johnson, mentions parents being asked to buy a scientific calculator for $100 and they do, they might as well purchase a $250 computer for the benefit of their children’s learning.  I think that is unrealistic. Since not all parents can afford the added expense toward their child’s education.
Most programs implemented in schools are web based which makes sense to utilize cloud computing for financial reasons.  Word processing, presentation, photo storage, web mastering, and school specific tasks are all uses of an inexpensive notebook and can be financially appropriate for schools budget.  The schools do not need to buy any expensive software and most kids will be able to get their hands on a web book soon enough. There are some drawbacks the author points out, for example, privacy.  Can we really be sure our data is safe in the clouds?  Also, schools need to be conscious of policies in regards to student-owned devices and teachers having the education on such devices.   
In my opinion, net books are ideal for everybody.  I use one and find the convenience remarkable.  They are not as big laptops to lug around and the capabilities suit my needs.  Students can benefit from the various capabilities and parent can find it appealing to the pocketbook.  In the big picture of education it does better on the budget and can be a useful tool in our technology future. 
In the clouds,
Conni Martinez

Johnson, Doug (2009). Computing in the Clouds. International Society for Technology in Education,  Volume 37. Retrieved from

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is Blogging Worth the Risk?

Blogging has become a great forum for people to get their voices heard.  Whether it is personal, profession, or both, blogging is a resource that is effective in communicating with others.  As educators, we need to set an example of good communicating by standing up and voicing our opinions. I think blogging is a good forum for students to put their opinion out when maybe otherwise they would not be so eager to give their opinion.  Blogging has taken communication to a new level and I agree that is can be a useful tool in communicating with others.

Personal is just that; personal.  People can get creative and achieve a sense of their own individual style while creating a blog site.  Here is where individuals can stand strong for their beliefs or begin a discussion on a controversial issue. However, controversial issues could cause a problem. If used as a teaching moment, meaning an explanation of the affects words can have on someone, it allows them to be effective communicators.  This is true because people will have to pay attention to the words they use and be responsible for what they put out into a public arena.  A writer needs to be aware of how a reader could misinterpret what point is trying to be made, so they do not offend anyone.  Unfortunately, this is a sticky situation since sometime people can interpret an attitude or a tone in your writings and there is not one.  That is a chance you take when a blog can reach many people, you will not make everyone happy and there is a high chance of offending people. 
Click to view
I think blogging is a good tool for communicating and, more than likely will be implemented in schools and in a variety of careers.  The school environment is a great place to introduce this technology to students and I believe it can be an effective form of communication.   Let your blogging begin and your voice be  heard, then be ready for the reaction you may get, positive or negative.

Conni ~

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

1st time ever

Hello fellow classmates and welcome to my blog! 

We are all here for one common goal, to gain knowledge and better understanding of computer technology.  I am excited for the journey and know there is a lot to learn.  I look forward to reading everyone's posts.

Here's to a great semester,
Conni ~