Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cultural Projects for My Final Make

Since I began teaching, my goal was always to prepare my students to be lifelong learners. The Problem-Based-Learning (PBL) approach is always implemented in my teaching. ED 677 refined the methods I use in my classroom. By taking small steps each week, the semester of Spring 2016 ended  with amazing results making me and the students very happy and proud of our work. My students' cultural projects for the end of the semester were great to have as an example of their improvement and my final make. 

I teach two different Arabic language levels at West Chester University; Arabic Intermediate and Arabic Advanced. Both levels were given project assignments  to work on for the end of the semester. The Intermediate level project was a group presentation about some aspects of the Arabic culture; and the Advanced level project was a group presentation about some Arabic art form which is also  part of the culture. This wasn't the first time my students do projects for their Arabic class, but the way they have their project done this time is different than previous.

Before and after ED 677:

When I assigned projects to my students last semester and the years prior, they were  individual pieces of work. I gave them some freedom to choose what they want to learn about, but not completely. There were some rules and constraints to follow in completing their work. Every student worked privately on their project and they had their own presentation in the classroom. The only audience for those pieces of work were my students and I. The students reflections were done orally after every presentation.

This semester, by implementing the connected learning principles and making small changes every week, I prepared my students to be more flexible with collaboration inside and outside the classroom. It became evident they were responsible and curious about the subjects at hands, more able to do their research, and more open to share their work with peers and other interested people out of the classroom. The final projects were examples of their improvement, and the  results came out phenomenal.

The learning principles were implemented in these final projects:

- Interest-powered: Because the project was interest-powered, my students put extra effort to find answers to their questions. As an example, one of them was interested to learn about Arabic music and dance, she asked the dance instructor in the university to teach her how to belly dance, and she performed in front of the classmates and tried to teach them how to belly dance. What she did was very unique and has a very positive affect on the other students' learning.

- Peer-supported: These projects were peer-supported. All the students were working together and helping each other to come up with an informative, clear pieces of work, full of pictures and videos, with the least possible mistakes, to share with others. Even though it was a group project, students exchanged their feedback which made them contribute and share their knowledge and views.

- Academically-oriented: Both projects were academically-oriented. They were related  to the curriculum the students are learning. By completing them, the students' knowledge was expanded, and they were more familiar with some aspects of the culture of the Arab world.

The design principles were also implemented:  

- Shared Purpose: in both projects, my students shared their interests and contributed to a common purpose which is exploring and understanding the Arab culture. Their main goal was to produce an informative and interesting presentation about the aspects of  the Arabic culture they learned to share with peers, school community, graduate students at Arcadia, and other networks.

- Production-Centered: My students learning came from actively creating, making, producing, experimenting, remixing, and designing. The type of the project gave them the opportunity to produce, circulate, curate, and comment.

- Openly-Networked: These projects were a good move for my students to be more openly-networked by having their research done through the internet, working with their peers, and sharing what they learned with the school community and others.

The Projects:

 The link has both presentations and samples of the students reflections.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Final Make

One of my inquiry questions for ED 677 was how to encourage my students to communicate with other learners and Arabic language speakers in the school, the district, the city, the country, and all around the world. After spending some time learning about the connected learning and equity, I am going to add to it how can I create the openly networked environment in my classroom?

I like the idea of small moves. In my opinion, small moves are more effective and successful for the far future than the big sudden steps.

My role this semester was to convince my students to agree with me on the importance of being openly networked. As a first small step, I encouraged them to be more open to each other in and out the classroom by collaborating together and sharing their work with each other more than before. The best time to implement the openly networked design principal in greater depth was their final cultural project, which will be my final make for this course.

The cultural final project is not a new project to my students. They had  similar ones before, which were a lot of fun with a lot of knowledge. The way of working on the project this time is new to them, which I am going to explain in my final make.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Interviews and My App

I had three different groups of people to interview and question. Individuals in the first group were, a freshman Temple student (P1), a human resources employee (P2), and a friend of mine who is a house wife (P3). I used the questions Christina offered us in the PDF.

  • Do you have a cellphone? 
P1- "Yes, I have a Galaxy S6 Active."

P2- "Yes, I do."

P3- "Yes I have a cellphone. I have Samsung Galaxy S4 Active."

  • How often do you use your phone?  
 P1- " I use my cellphone almost constantly."

 P2- "Daily and often."

 P3- " I use my phone all the time every day."
  • What do you use your phone to do?
 P1- " I usually use it to text or snap-chat my friends, email, Facebook, and play games when I'm         bored. I feel that the "call" feature in cellphones is no longer the most important aspect to  most people, as it was in the past."
P2- "Talk on the phone, text, check and send email, social media, camera for pictures and video, voice recorder."
P3-  "I  use my cell phone for send and receive  emails, text messages, phone calls, keep notes, messenger, listen to music, What's app, Skype, time check, prayers time, news check, the road GPS, alarm, stop watch, amazon orders, calculator, check the date, write appointment, and birthdays, take and keep pictures, record notes, read posts and post on Facebook, check the weather, google, check my bank account, pay my bills, check my credit card statement."
  •  What can a phone do, that a desktop computer cannot?
P1- "Compared to a desktop, my phone offers extreme mobility. If you think about it, these days, most phones can do just about everything a computer can. I can use Microsoft office, browse the internet, and edit photos. But it's all the extras that set a phone apart. Speaking on the phone, instant knowledge and information on the go, and even a navigation System."
P2- "Take pictures, talk on the phone, it's light and portable."
P3- "Cellphone fits in my pocket and I  can take it everywhere. Desktop is bulky to take anywhere.
Things I can do with my phone and not my laptop, make and receive phone calls,  send and receive SMS, and take pictures."

The second group of people was three educators of my colleagues, the first one teaches Arabic (P1), the second one teaches French (P2), and the third one teaches German (P3). For this interview, I used the questions Christina posted this week's page. 
  • What do you notice about the interests students bring to their classrooms?
P(1)- "My students always ask questions advanced to their level. They want to know everything about the language in a very short time.They bring to the classroom amazing  curiosity and desire to learn."
P(2)- "Students are very interested in popular culture (current music, film, commercials, technology)."
P(3)- " Students don't bring many interests to the classroom. The interests I am aware of are sports, music, connecting with friends esp. through social media, course work.
  • In what ways do you (or can you imagine) connecting these interests to academics pursuits and curricular goals?
P(1)-  "They use new words in their homework and in the classroom  all the time and always google not only the meaning of these new words but also the pronunciation. I see them understand how a small change in the endings of the words can make the difference between subject and direct object or between possessive construction and adjective  and how that changes the meaning of the sentence and sometimes makes it funny. They joke all the time and make little changes to  the words to make up silly sentences. They use that to write comprehension and translate paragraphs and that makes  them able to say what they want in the correct way and correct grammar." 
P(2)- "I use these elements (music, film, tech...) depending on the vocabulary and grammar targeted in class. It helps 1. contextualize the material 2. make it meaningful/relevant to the students and 3. take the language study to a cultural level."
P(3)- "I can imagine integrating course work into social media. We already use D2L for discussion groups, but I think students would be more engaged if they could post to a site directly and easily from their smartphones."
  • How do you mostly use your phone? To connect with people? To create something new? To play?
P(1)- "I use my phone to connect with people through emails, sms, Whats app, Skype, messenger, and  phone calls. I read the news, check the weather and the road and traveling time, also posts on face book. I also use the calculator, amazon, alarm, I also use it to  keep addresses and important
 notes, know the time and check my credit card and bank statements, pay my bills, google translation 
I use Google for everything."
P(2)- "I never use my phone with my students except to answer to their emails if I'm away from home."

(P3)- "I use my phone primarily for writing texts or what's app, making phone calls, taking pictures, going to websites (but not for reading longer texts), and playing games."

The Third group of people was my students, and my question was, if I am creating an app for Arabic language, how do you like it to be? My students gave me great ideas. The main idea was to include all what they need in one app. Is it possible?  I think so. If a very good group of IT experts and Arabic language educators collaborate together to create the app. 
Combining together the results of the interviews I had with what I think should be available in a good Arabic app to use. I think that my app needs to have vocabulary games, like choosing what materials you need to build a house, or where to visit when you travel,...etc, the word of the day quiz, the conjugations of the verbs, a good dictionary, a chatting window with native speakers and other learners,  tutoring videos, and some stories and books to read.

ED 677 makes me sometimes dream about something I never thought about before. I hope my dreams come true as being a teacher came true.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Peer-to-Peer Learning

-What way the process of Google sheet peer-learning does it support my learning?
The idea of Google sheet peer-learning is great for me. By reading the inquiry questions and the answers of all participants, I got some ideas to implement in my classroom. Replying to my inquiry question was the most helpful to me, thank you to all, and a special thank to Shayla who made me find what I am looking for. The online conversation made me feel that I am more in a real classroom even though I didn't have a face-to-face meeting with my peers, and all of us were working asynchronously.

- How being more openly networked does support my interests and my small moves?
Since I began the program at Arcadia, I have been taking on-line courses. Being openly networked helped me in my personal and professional life. For ED 677, sharing and reading the find 5, 6, or 7, and the blogs in addition to what Christina offered us provided a lot of information. I took the action of many small moves in my classroom this semester. I began preparing my students to be openly networked by encouraging them to share their work with classmates and others greater than before. I also encouraged them to be more collaborative than before. For my personal life, due to the encouragement of Ryan, and after his post about participating, I persist going to gym nowadays. 

- What about production and shared purpose have been important in learning from peers?
Connected learning environments are designed in a way to provide tools and opportunities for learners to produce, circulate, and connect on media. They are also designed for peers who share interests and contribute to a common purpose. In ED677, we are all producing, circulating, and connected by posting our blogs. We all have the goal of implementing the connected learning principles in our teaching. For me personally, I have been interested in many finds and posts which have inspired and helped me at work.

- What are the implications of connected learning and equity for the learners I serve?
By implementing the connected learning elements in my teaching, my students are more motivated, creative, and engaged in collaborative work through reflection and dialogue, they have the sense of sharing responsibilities with their peers, and are more connected to the real world and ready to face the future life.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Power of Interest Drives Learning

When students are interested in what they are learning, they pay deeper attention and process the information more efficiently. They engage in more critical thinking and connect what they already know with what they are learning. They work harder and persist longer. They bring all the skills they have to the task at hand.

To make a subject interesting to learners, it should be related  to a familiar subject, not too hard or too easy to understand, students should comprehend  what they are learning and master the challenges presented to them.

For my college level students, I have to follow the curriculum, but at the same time I give my students the freedom to follow their interests by giving them a main topic to follow and let them choose a subtopic they are interested  to learn about. As an example, the final project they have for this semester is about The Arabic culture; there are many subtopics to choose from depend on their interests.

Open badges is a new and interesting idea to me in teaching and learning. When I was reading Kira's tips about teaching with open badges, the first tip made me immediately think about my kids and the trophies, medals, ribbons, and   badges they have won from business clubs, baseball games, boy scout activities, and swim team competitions.  Their reactions become clear when they get the awards, and how they put more effort after getting those awards. I asked myself, "can it be the same with learning in the school?" After reading what was posted on ED677 page and doing my research, the answer was yes. But I think college students still care about their As for their GPA, especially if their intent is to continue studying for a higher level of degrees.  

I created the following badge for ED677 https://badges.p2pu.org/en/badge/view/858/

Friday, April 1, 2016

Week # 10 Five to support me

1-To honor and celebrate the interests of my college students, I always keep them centered in my classroom by giving them the power of choice and voice. I always allow for a large amount of freedom  on what topics their projects should be for and how to create them. As an example, one of the projects they will have this semester regards art in the Arab world. I keep topic selection very open for them to choose what kind of art their project will be on. It might be on music, mosaic,....., or even architecture depending on their interests.
An interesting article to read on how to make the classroom student-centered can be found at

2- I am a very motivated instructor who like to motivate my students. There are so many ways to motivate students. One motivational tool I use is giving my students some extra credit assignments. With these assignments there are no boundaries which allows every student to choose a connected subject to our study to have a presentation on to share with class. Another way to motivate my students is to plan some trips for them to be connected to the Arab world and experience the culture while here in the USA. Two weeks ago, I planned a dinner in a Moroccan restaurant. In the link down, there is a picture of my students enjoying the Moroccan culture at Casablanca restaurant.

 I am also planning a new trip to a Sufi poem concert. You are welcome to join us at Trinity Center for Urban Life | 22nd & Spruce St, Philadelphia on April 16th.

You can learn many ideas motivating your students by reading how to motivate students: Top Twelve Ways. If you are interested to read it, please visit:

3- Students who are learning a foreign language are always interested in learning and practicing the culture of that language. Watching videos on YouTube is a great tool to help students understand the concept of what they are learning. Students also sometimes like to have their own videos on YouTube to show what they came up with.

In the middle of this month, our lesson was on marriage and weddings. Many videos helped the students understand the culture and enjoy what they are learning. One of them was about Henna, the  night before the wedding, which I am going to share with you.

4-  One of the methods I use which I don't think many teachers use is how to grade my students work. It is very frustrating to someone when he/she doesn't get a good grade. I always underline their mistakes with a red pen without any grading and give them back their papers to look at and think how to correct their mistakes. I give them my feedback, and let them try to correct their work. I found this way gives much better results in their learning than when I correct their mistakes for them. Understanding their mistakes makes them happy as they are less likely to have them again and more confident of what they are doing.

Please visit http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/degrading-de-grading/ to read about grading.

5- The Digital Badges idea is completely new to me. So, to grasp the concept  more, I did my research on it. On YouTube, I found this critical conversation which explains the role of Digital Badges in extension and lifelong learning in general. Please join me to watch it at

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Openly Networked Learning for Teachers and Students

People can learn in many different ways. Collaboration is thought to be one of the most effective ways of learning. The original definition of collaboration is when two or more people meet in the same room at the same place to share and revise ideas. With today's fast evolving technologies, there are no limitations for space or time to restrict collaboration. Technology is helping people connect digitally and virtually which is what is called connected learning.

Social media offers many tools to help educators become connected with each other. The connected colleagues can have a face to face meeting on Skype or Hangouts, or share their knowledge through webinars, videos, blogs, twitter,...etc.

What about our students?
There should be a connection between classroom learning and the other aspects of living and working. The use of digital technologies usually makes open networking possible. It provides incomparable access for learners across both time and space, which makes for enhanced learning and idea sharing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Week # 9 Find 5 of Openly Networked Ways of Learning

Oh wow!! Thank you Christina for letting us research for the openly networked ways of learning. As an Arabic language educator, my first priority is to find some networked communities to help me and my students to explore, create, and share at the same time.

1- We as teachers need always to be connected to networks to update our knowledge. One of the best American organizations for teaching foreign languages is ACTFL (American Council of The Teaching of Foreign Languages). ACTFL provides a professional network for language educators to promote the teaching and learning of the languages and cultures.
If you are interested to know more about ACTFL, please visit:

2- OER Commons is a great dynamic library and  network to  discover, create, and share. It has many groups to join. Also, it has hubs where groups can create and share collections associated with a project or organization. What I really liked about it that it has Arabic language groups and a hub. For more information please visit:

3-I always teach on Skype. It is the easiest way to meet my private lessons' students when we can't meet face to face. 

4- Hangouts, Blogger, Google Sheets, and Google Drive, all of these social networking tools are great for openly networked connected learning.

5- I just found Edmodo. "Edmodo is a global education network that helps connect all learners with the people and resources needed to reach their full potential."
if you are interested to learn more about it, please visit: https://www.edmodo.com/ 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shared Purpose in Learning

 Three questions needs to be answered for this subject.

1- What are examples of shared purpose you have seen or experienced?
The most exciting experience I have had in my educational journey was STARTALK on line and on spot workshop at Penn State in the year of 2010. As educators, we all were attending the workshop to accomplish the goal of improving our teaching methods by practicing how to teach Arabic language without using English in the classroom, and how to engage our students by implementing the 5Cs in our teaching. My best memory is the collaboration between the trainers and the trainees and the trainees with each others. The results were phenomenal, not just for me, but for all the teachers who attended the work shop and worked as a team.

2- What does it mean to learn with a shared purpose?
Learning with a shared purpose means to learn in connected learning environments. All students should share interests and contribute to a common purpose. In the 21st century, social media and web-based communities provide excellent opportunities for learners, parents, guardians, teachers, and peers in various and specific areas of interest to engage in shared projects and inquiry.

3- What are the implications?
 The strong sense of shared purpose leads participants to engage in collaborative work through reflection, dialogue, and inquiry which create the sense of sharing responsibilities for the learning of all students and adults in the school. It improves the students' achievement and prepares children for college, career, and civil life of the 21st century by becoming more capable of formulating opinions, more adaptable to different circumstances, more understanding of complex issues, and more able to find realistic solutions to problems. 

Week # 8 Find Six for Shared Purpose

After reading what Christina shared with us in class, I did my own research to greater grasp more the idea of Shared Purpose, and that is what I found is helpful to me:

1- "The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration" is a good research report to read from Mitchell Institute written by Tom Bentley and Ciannon Cazaly. On page 43,  the report explains that the shared characteristics is a deep commitment to student learning, which is then translated differently into priorities for collaboration, and into supported learning by adults. To read more, please visit:

2- Reading "Connected Learning: Re-imagining The Experience of Education in the Information Age" is a great resource I found. This article throughly explains the Learning Principles, Design Principles, and the Core Values.  Shared Purpose is one of the Design Principles. I strongly encourage you to visit http://connectedlearning.tv/connected-learning-principles

3- As a learner, I like the visual learning. So, I always look for videos to help me grasp more of what I am learning. I did my search at YouTube and found this short meaningful video. Please join me and watch it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAZ6F0wOJ3Q 

4- Oh wow! Very good inspiring video to watch " Shared Common Purpose" by Larry Kesslin.  
 "Larry Kesslin is one of the founding partners and president of 4-Profit. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with thousands of solution providers, and numerous vendors and distributors to help guide and inspire leaders to reach their chosen (business) destination. Larry is a known philanthropist."
I really enjoyed listening to him talking about the difference between wants and needs. Hopefully you feel interested to watch him at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC3inLuWoyQ

5- I found that " The 6 Key Drivers of Student Engagement" is a very helpful scholarly article to understand the importance of digital resources in education. Relevant Learning, personalized learning, collaborative learning, connected learning, information literacy, and dialogical and dialectical thinking are the six keys to help students to become more capable of formulating opinions, more adaptable to different circumstances, more understanding of complex issues, and more able to find realistic solutions to problems. To read more, please visit:

6- Craig Watkins answering the question "how can we help children stay connected to the world that they would like to see?" in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teu9uyHSPbs

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Map of My Personal and Professional Life

While I was mapping my educational life, I found it difficult to separate my work from my personal life. There is always a side effect of balancing one and the other. At times I had to pause my professional life in order to improve my personal life. For instance, getting married and raising my five kids which took much energy and effort. Thankfully, by now, three of them are independent, highly educated adults, and two of them are currently paving their way to building success.

My education journey began when I was four years old. After finishing my studies in Syria, I had to stay home for a while to raise my kids. During this time, I was enriching my knowledge by reading, taking courses, learning and making whatever is needed for the family members. Throughout this period of time, traveling to Europe every now and then always proved to be a learning resource for me; an environment to experience cultures different than mine.

In the Fall of 1996, my family and I relocated to America and my professional life again ensued. My first teaching job was in a private school where I taught Arabic and Quran. Then I moved to MCCC to teach non-credit courses. After that, I moved to Immaculata University for a few years. Recently, I teach at Villanova and West Chester Universities.

Since I began teaching in the USA, I've always strived to improve my way and ability of teaching. I attended special courses for Arabic language teachers. One of them was at Penn State under the name of STARTALK, and the other one was in CLASSROAD under the name STELLA. Recently, I am attending the M.E. program at Arcadia to maximize my skills and to expand my knowledge of teaching methods.

My classes are always student-centered. I use the problem-based learning approach, and I play the facilitator's role who listens to students more often than lectures.  For the future, I am planning to use more technology in my classroom, to create more realias for the students' activities, to attend more education conferences, and to collaborate more with other teachers.What else?? I always need to add more.........  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Week # 7 Five to Inspire Me

1- Reading about my grandmother or watching her paintings always inspire me to be creative. My grandmother, Ikbal Naji Kareisly, was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1925. She got married when she was 15, then moved to Palmyra with my grandfather, a government employee who resided there until 1950. This period of time had a tremendous influence of forming her culture, art, and human attitudes. In 1964, she was the first female painter in Syria who had a solo exhibition at "Modern Art Gallery" in Damascus. On May 11th, 1969, she died in Damascus. Please visit the link below to read more about her and see some of her paintings.

2- Her son Walid Kareisly, my uncle, was born in Palmyra in 1944. He spent 32 years of his life lying in bed on one side, paralyzed due to an accident at the age of 30. He graduated from the Leningrad Academy of Soviet with a masters diploma of Electronic Science 1966. He was a member of the Association of fine arts and the Union of Arab artists. He worked alongside independent artists, creating melodies, songs, and soundtracks. Walid grew up in the spirit of art and saturation of  color through his mother, drawing through special experiences.  He died on April 18th 2006 due to health complications. When I think about his hard life and how his impairment made him creative and encouraged him to produce works, I feel very inspired to explore my creativity. If you are interested in reading about him and seeing his art, please go to:

3- I recently met an artist on Facebook, her name is Lina Shadid. We are actually now friends. The days I look at Lina's page and glance at her paintings, I feel energized.These days I come up with many great ideas to use in my classroom. I will share with you her page to enjoy what I am enjoying by observing her art.

4- A wonderful park in NJ, Grounds For Sculpture, is great for enjoying nature, art, and music. Since I learned about it, I try to visit at least two times a year. When I am back home, I feel that I am full of energy and ideas to create and make for my home and classroom. 

5- The TV program How It's Made is very inspiring to me. Each episode includes three or four products featured, with a mix consisting of both common and uncommon items. If you are not a TV watcher, you can watch on your device by visiting

Friday, February 26, 2016

Week #6 Find 5 Friday

1- Considering practitioner wisdom, philosophical and theoretical framing of global engagement and global citizenship, and connections to the fields of global and community development, four global service-learning practitioner-scholars discussed how the specific values and disruption of global service-learning undermine calls to“Help your Own Country”. They considered how this particular pedagogy and partnership practice at once disrupts national identities and engages the possibility of deep connection with anyone, everywhere. To watch the discussion please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nX8bSixgfrA  

2- "As teacher-educators we need to embrace practitioner (action) research of our own classroom practice. Such research serves to improve our practice, inform the teaching profession, and serve as modeling for future teachers to become practitioner researchers in support of their efforts to meet the learning needs of the students with whom they work as well as have a voice in policy decisions that impact their professional lives." A scholarly article written by Kimberly Hill Camplell. To read more, please visit

3- On "Digital Is", I found a great article to read about a teacher and her experience in the Tar River Writing Project Connected Learning MOOC, and how she implemented what she practiced in her classroom. For more, please go to 

4- A great short video to watch that I am going to share with my students to encourage them to help me implement Connected Learning in classroom, and to let them understand that they have the responsibility, like me, to be connected learners.

5- I strongly recommend this film"Connected Learning: Interest, Peer Culture, Academics" to watch. The film introduces the story of connected learning, the results of a six-year research effort supported by the MacArthur Foundation into how learning, education, and schooling could be re-imagined for a networked world.
the Tar River Writing Project Connected Learning  MOOC - See more at: http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/6097#sthash.G8fhLEqB.dpuf
the Tar River Writing Project Connected Learning  MOOC - See more at: http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/6097#sthash.G8fhLEqB.dpuf

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Twenty Questions

Ten Questions about myself:
1- How can I maximize the advantages of taking the ED Master at Arcadia?
2- Should I go for PhD after this program?
3- Am I prepared enough to teach blended or online courses if I have the opportunity to do it?
4- How can I help the university I work at to expand the Arabic program?
5- My students always complain that 3 hours a week are not enough for a critical language like  Arabic, how can I convince the university to change it to 5 credit hours?
6-  Should I attend more education conferences?
7- Should I push myself to use the online quizzes which I don't like?
8- What is my weakness in the classroom?
9- What is my strength in the classroom?
10- What can I do to improve myself?

Ten Questions about the education world:
1- What are the new devices to be used in the classroom in ten years?
2- Can technology play the role of the teacher in the future?
3- How can education play the role of peace maker in the world?
4- Technology is very important in education these days. What is the fate of the old fashioned teachers?
5- Is there any way to make conferences for free or at least for a nominal price to encourage teachers to attend and expand their knowledge and experience? Schools don't always cover the cost.
6- In universities, part timers don't get any benefits. Why doesn't the government help them to promote a feeling of security?
7- Children don't choose to be rich or poor. Why don't the rich districts help the poor districts in order for our American students to be equal or semi-equal in education?
8-  Are devices, such as tablets, going to be used instead of books in the future? 
9-  Why do public schools not teach the second language during earlier years? Earlier is better!!
10- How can we encourage our students to communicate with other students from other schools, districts, states, and countries?

When we talk about equity and equality in connected learning, this should include all students attending public schools in the USA. It doesn't matter if they are rich, poor, black, white, immigrants, or native Americans.

Rich or poor is my concern. It is not the child's mistake if he or she was born poor. Also, kids who were born rich didn't help in their parents becoming rich. How can we make them both equal in education? In my opinion, the government and rich districts should help the poor districts. The school tax is not enough to offer students the opportunities to get good education if the area is poor. It doesn't seem wrong to encourage the rich districts, the rich students and their parents to donate some money to buy the poor districts some computers, help to improve their library, or  buy new equipment in the gym, ...etc.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I Love Teaching

Even as a child, being a teacher my dream, and my dream came true. Teaching for me is not just a job to make ends meet, it is my number one hobby. Days that I do not teach, I feel I am missing something.

Even though my focus is not on teaching children, I still teach some kids privately. I love their laughs when I explain an idea in a funny way to make them get it, or play a game to practice what they learned. I love their ability to learn a critical language like Arabic often faster than adults are able. I love it when they make sure to show me what they learned to make me happy, and when they share  their stories with me.

Teaching university level students is my focus. My students make my day when I see them learning something new about the Arabic language, culture, and traditions every time we meet. I love it when I read their reflections and opinions on topics we discuss in the classroom through their essays. I love it when they teach me something new I am not aware of. The best time we spend together when we are practicing and demonstrating skills in a trip outside campus. The most I LOVE LOVE LOVE is when they annoy me with their text messages at 9:00 or 10:00 pm to ask me a question in the language or share with me what they found.

 I enjoy most teaching the continuing education students. These students are learning not because of any requirements nor to obtain credits. They are learning just because they enjoy learning and because they want to expand their knowledge. They are all professionals in their jobs. Meeting for a lesson is the most relaxing time for both of us.  Most of the time our relationships turn into family friends who enjoy learning from each others and sharing two different cultures in a very civilized manner.

I am not sure if I will be mentally able to retired one day in my life. I feel that teaching for me is like water for fish. Fish can't live without water, and I can't live without teaching.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Week # 5 Find 5 Friday

1- I would like to add my voice to Christina's to thank "Lost History: Mathematics in the Muslim World". In addition to his writing, I am going to recommend a book  about the many important and far-reaching contributions to the development of our shared scientific knowledge and technologies have created by Muslims, "1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World", ISBN 978-0-9552426-1-8. Also, "1001 Inventions and The Library of Secretes" is a very interesting short movie to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZDe9DCx7Wk.

2-  The "Journal of Effective Teaching" is an online journal devoted to teaching excellence. One of its articles was about the four aces of  effective teaching: outcomes, clarity, Engagement, and Enthusiasm. Please read more at http://uncw.edu/cte/et/articles/bulger/

3- As a member of ACTFL, I get their weekly newsletters. Some interesting research I did for this week says that OECD offers four recommendations for teacher professionalism. Please see the following. https://thejournal.com/articles/2016/02/16/oecd-teacher-professionalism-needs-improvement-worldwide.aspx   

4- "The Effect of the Love and Logic Program on Student Motivation" is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the  Master of Science in Education degree by Courtney V. Coffin. It is a great piece of work to read.

5- We educators must use diverse teaching strategies with all students. A great article to read on "The Culture/ Learning Style Connection" below

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Creativity and Learning

As a university level Arabic language instructor, there is no a real space to let my students play in the classroom. The most we play in the classroom is having  competitions in vocabulary or  grammar for singular and plural, or asking them to act out a play they read. Instead of playing in the classroom, my students keep connected to the Arab world by doing their research to prepare their presentations on what they are learning. I let them explore the Arab world and culture outside the classroom. I plan field trips for them to eat in Arabic restaurants, go to Arabic concerts, and visit Arabic exhibits when they are available through acceptable distance in Pennsylvania  or the other close states.

Reading the article All I Really Need to Know(About Creative Thinking) Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten reminded me of my youngest daughter Laila and her time spent at Lansdale Montessori School for her pre-K and KG years.The Montessori method of teaching is based on the freedom of the child to explore and learn, mostly, through self-direction. Maria Montessori (the founder of the Montessori method) stressed the importance of learning through the senses and incorporated them into the materials. Laila's classrooms were full of sensorial and practical life activity materials. The role of Montessori teachers is to inspire, demonstrate, and facilitate, but not to lecture. If you would like to learn more about Montessori and their activities, please visit their website at http://www.ourmontessorihome.com/  
 Image result for the pink tower montessoriMontessori Sensorial Activities for Toddlers - Soft & Hard Basket

Friday, February 12, 2016

Week # 4 Find 5 Friday

1- I would like to start by thanking Lacy Kleckner for her find 9 Friday. All the links she offered us were great to read or watch and very informative.
2- A good short YouTube video to watch about connected learning and its relation to playing. It informs us that when kids play, it is an opportunity to learn, explore, and experience the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9xyrAsCe0M

3- Another good YouTube video to watch Learning Through Play. The video shows us that the new culture of learning in the 21st century is fun. The gamification has entered the world of education. the combination of Education and gaming encourage students to clasp learning and exercises the mind in ways that may not be available in a traditional classroom setting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywi3TA8MuaE

4- Five Reasons to Use Games in the Classroom is an interesting blog post by Rebekah Stathakis. Rebekah is a Spanish teacher. She provides many great ideas to use in classroom to make learning fun and effective. http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/reasons-to-play-games-in-the-classroom.shtml

5-  Please check out the link below for learning games to experiment in the classroom. http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/archives/learninggame.shtml

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Equity and Connected Learning

There are well-known facts about the connections between family income and school experience, as well as the inequality associated with informal learning. Upper class families have the ability to spend much more money than low-income families on enrichment activities. The same is true about the inequitable national system of schooling.

Justin Reich found out in his research that educational technology builders produce work and put it on in the internet hoping that students benefit from it either directly or through facilitators. Unfortunately, the work is shared from the builders through the internet into schools and homes in high income neighborhoods much more than low-income neighborhoods for technological, curricular, pedagogical reasons.http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2012/04/will_free_education_technology_benefit_the_rich.html

There is an association between family income and children's academic achievement. The academic achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is growing for the last five decades. The free technology tools and resources are closing those gaps in learning opportunities between wealthy and poor students in an inequitable society.

As a personal experience, I teach in two different universities. The student body of one of them made up by a majority of well-off students, while the other one is majority  middle class students. By using the free internet and technology tools in both of the schools, I really don't see a big difference in their academic levels.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Week #3 Find 5 Friday

1- Happi's story about her jewelry making is interesting. It is great that she wants to expose her students to as much as possible, and encourages them to face challenges. I despise the expression "I can't"  and always tell my students to steer clear of that phrase.

2- I had to sign up for Tumblr to be able to read Khalilah's blog. Her post Interest as a Young Student is a great example on how we should encourage and mentor our students to lead a successful life.

3- The following is an informative webinar about social-emotional literacies and digital citizenship. I found this series very useful for my research.

4- I signed up for Education Week news. I recommend you do it too.

5- I enjoyed watching Rocks! Thorns! Glass!. You are welcome to watch it as well.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Facebook and Connected Learning

I believe that Facebook is a great tool to use for connected learning and annotation. It can be used for  communication and sharing information. Examples of these capabilities include sharing ideas, images, and videos. Its social aspects also allow for asking questions and commenting on posts. 

Educators benefit from Facebook in communicating with colleagues all around the world while students can use it for an array of functions including group study, helping with homework, collaborating projects, test review, etc. 

Are there any disadvantages of using Facebook? Yes there are. There are many disadvantages of Facebook especially to children and teens vulnerability, including but not limited to, password hacking,  cyber addiction, and it is a gateway to the whole internet. There is also the threat of outside parties preying and abusing children on social media that must not be taken lightly. Because of these disadvantages, I think Facebook should not be used as a teaching tool for children or teenagers, but rather reserved as college level tool.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Second Week find 5 Friday

1- First of all, I would like to thank Ryan Berger for encouraging us to participate in working out. I really needed that push to do some exercise during this very busy semester.

2- I watched the video Stephanie provided us on her blog about the cyber school. I think it is a great idea for students in states which have heavy snow during the winter. Yet I still believe the social aspect of going to school is good for child' development.

3- Looking for more deeply explanation of annotation, I found the website Hypothesis. Hypothesis is made for teachers and their students to collaboratively annotate the course readings. For more information, please visit https://hypothes.is/education/

4- In the weekly ACTFL SmartBrief  news for and about language educators. I found an interesting article on how technology can help students open up in the classroom. For more information please visit www2.smartbrief.com

5- While reading "Confronting  the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education of 21st Century", I found what Bertram said on page 21 is very helpful. Link as follows: https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF