So, I sort of lied. I have been blogging in another life. As part of a Math course I recently developed, I set up my own blog to explore many of the concepts in the Algebra course. It’s called Maththinker. Initially I set up the blog as an example for students of my course. Many of the course activities are designed around the blog as the goal is to teach teachers the importance of getting students to express their mathematical thinking in writing. Writing out the thought process of math helps reinforce the learning and also helps students develop a solid understanding of what they are learning. Blogs naturally present a great tool for achieving this.
In addition to the blogs, the course will help students practice developing their own electronic visuals for teaching using simple graphics in PowerPoint. I truly believe that developing visuals or even drawing out concepts helps reinforce learning just as writing does. Even though the students of this course are producing something that they can use in their classrooms, they are also using that visual-spatial muscle to think out problems and concepts. The illustrations also allow the students to enhance their reflections and descriptions of concepts in their blogs.
In addition, to encouraging math writing, the course also focusing on helping teachers develop their own ‘real life’ applications and examples of math concepts and stories. Students share their examples including their own illustrations or diagrams in their blogs. They are encouraged to respond and provide feedback on each other’s work in the blog comments.
Here’s a screenshot from a quick slide show I developed that demonstrated the effect of changing variables in a quadratic equation. I used an applet available in the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to create the graphs quickly and painlessly.
Working on this course also gave me the opportunity to re-learn some of my ‘rusty’ math. Imagine, I now remember what to do with a quadratic equation. In general, I feel like I’ve developed a greater appreciation of math and it’s applications.
Published November 28, 2007
Blogs , Collaboration , Creativity , Development , Education , Innovation , Learning , Performance , Stuff I love , Teachers , Training
I found this great piece on Nethack: 15 steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning
I thought that this list had some nice suggestions for keeping the passion for learning alive.
UNESCO characterizes 21st Century education as being education geared to developing lifelong learners. It’s no secret that these types of learners are usually the best innovators, problem solvers, etc. I suspect an indirect consequence of being a lifelong learner is that you are able to solve not only professional issues but personal ones as well. Well, at least we can only hope.
I started putting together a list of characteristics of lifelong learners. It’s not complete, but it’s a start.
Lifelong Learner Characteristics
- Are insatiable knowledge seekers - they continually seek learning experiences or opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills
- Are social learners – Lifelong learners learn both from and with others. The will take classes or look for social groups. They usually seek out acquaintances who are better or more knowledgeable in fields than they are
- Don’t simply just take in information - they analyze, synthesize and or apply what they’ve learned
- Are teachers themselves – lifelong learners usually openly share what they know because they understand that having open networks actually gives them more access to the information from others.
- Never think of themselves as the ultimate expert in anything
Characteristics of Lifelong Learners – Click on the image to view a larger version
Published November 28, 2007
Bloggers , Blogs , Ignorance , Stupid , Web 2.0
… that bother me.
#1 – Sesame Street (old version) rated unfit for children
There’s something about this that really just doesn’t sit right with me. Apparently, someone thinks that the early characters of Sesame Street are bad role models for their children. A bright blue googly-eyed impulsive monster who demolishes cookies and a cantankerous and scruffy old man with green fur who lives in a garbage can with his garbage. Come on people! These are probably the most beloved characters from Sesame Street’s Golden Age!
Can these studio executives, adults and parents be this obtuse and pudding-headed? We, and I’m speaking literally because I was one of the early generation who grew up with Sesame Street when Mr. Hooper manned the store – we loved those characters because of their faults.
What’s next will they deem Grover unfit for young viewers because he’s a classic ADHD case? Or will Big Bird be out because he’s addle-headed and slow?
#2 Ad spies in the blogosphere
I cannot really approve any comments unless I see that the commenter has a ‘real blog.’ Yes, I mean a real blog that doesn’t have a bunch of random gobblygook mashed together or a blog that doesn’t ‘smell’ like it’s being powered by a search generator or programmed spider. I’m thinking about those old Hammer movies from the sixties and seventies and the old beliefs about vampires. You should never invite them into your house… otherwise.
So if you’ve left a comment and were a real person and not an internet vampire and I didn’t approve it, I apologize but I cannot do so without prove that you’re not from the underworld of advertisement.
What ever happened to that old addage… if you’re going to say something bad – then don’t say anything at all. Obviously the first person who uttered this wasn’t around when the internet was in existence. This is one of the sad but unfortunate things about the internet, it gives people an ample amount of space for airing out their dislikes. Okay, I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person on the web. Who hasn’t been at work on a bad day and typed in a phrase like “I hate work” into Google. I remember doing this when I was in a job I was having a difficult time with. There was a moment when I actually felt a little paranoid about typing this, as if someone would watch the meanderings of someone as insignificant as myself and then punish me for it, but I quickly shrugged that notion aside. Perhaps even discovering the voices of other people on the internet who felt the same way I did actually help reinforce my resolve to hammer on at work like a good corporate citizen… until I found a better job.
Today I ran across this curiousity, The Hate Index. I’m not sure how the actually qualify occurrences of what counts or how often the counts are tabulated. I question their methods of gathering data, but the whole concept is interesting if not somewhat disturbing. Do they do specific or exclusive searches by searching for the text “I+hate+hamburgers”? Also are they searching in different languages or just English?
According to this index:
- 335,000 people hate to think
- 111,000 hate reading (but obviously they still like posting their opinion about reading on the Internet)
- More people (112,000) hate music than reading or math
- More people hate America than reading, math, and spiders
Also, it’s terribly disturbing to see the intolerance of people portrayed in this list. Now, honestly, I don’t know that we should give this particular list a lot of credence (especially considering the number of ads all over it), but it is a bit of a frightening thought that through the technology of powerful searches you can basically take a litmus test of what everyone who is verbal on the net is thinking or feeling. It’s almost as if the net houses our collective opinions and thoughts. This body of feelings can become a ‘living’ entity as it grows and changes like a coral colony with the different people who add to it.
Hate Index: http://www.hateindex.com/index.jsp?number=100
Published September 28, 2007
Blogs , Business , Corporate Culture , Writing
I’m venting from having to re-write something right now, but this has really been bothering me lately. I’ve been struggling with this… and maybe my historical understanding of the state of our collective ability (as a nation of adults) to write is muddled. Is it me or are there just a lot of people who need help writing text that explains things?
I’ve been working with subject matter experts for the past 7 years to develop instructional design. I’ve been fortunate to work with a few who have a really good command over their writing and who could literally write circles around me, but lately I’ve been noticing not just among subject matter experts but among professionals in general there is a growing dearth of people who can simply write good expository.
I’m not a perfect writer, and I know that my writing is kind of like torn paper, rough around the edges, but I consider myself fortunate enough to have teachers who tried to hammer in me the importance of organizing and linking ideas and structuring writing so that someone could at least understand what I was trying to get across. I think that I wasn’t a very apt pupil, and to some extent I still struggle with this… but I have worked in the corporate environment for over six years and I have to say I’ve seen a great number of high level managers who have really abysmal writing skills. In one case, the writing was so bad everytime that manager sent out an e-mail, her employees would often huddle together in the aisle trying to decipher the cryptic and terse text to gather the gist of what she was communicating. This individual could not send out a department-wide e-mail without having her admin look over it. That’s just not right. Should someone who can’t even demonstrate an eighth grade skill in writing make that much money?
I cannot simply accept that people cannot write because it’s a God given gift and some people are blessed with it while others are not. Is it me or is this lack of writing skills growing in the adult population? Though to be honest, that manager I mentioned is from a generation or two before my own… so I guess her teachers might have missed the ball when it came to building her skills as a writer. Perhaps increased involvement in blogging will help, but I suspect that unless we take the teaching of writing far more seriously in our schools, then things won’t improve.