Archive for the 'Bloggers' Category

Math-a-blogging

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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.

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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.


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2007 Statistics on Technology Users in the US

I’ve been looking for a better snapshot of what technology consumership look like. The Pew Institute released an interesting study which identified 10 different types of consumers of internet and technology. These types were determined by the possession, use and activity of technology assets (mobile devices, computers, cell phones, internet connection, etc.). At the top of the list “Omnivores” (8% of the surveyed) could be characterized by having a lot of gadgets and subscribing to many services. These individuals frequently participate on online social networking and expressing themselves via blogs, website authorship, etc. In contrast, the “Off the Network” people did not have cell phones or internet connectivity (15%)

These types were labeled as follows:

Elite Tech Users ( 31%)

  • Omnivores
  • Connectors
  • Lackluster Veterans
  • Productivity Enhancers

Middle of the Road Tech Users (20%)

  • Mobile Centrics
  • Connected But Hassled

Few Tech Assets (49%)

  • Inexperienced Experimenters
  • Light But Satisfied
  • Indifferents
  • Off the Network

More on technology and internet usage:

Two little things

… 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.

Vampire Circus

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Hate Index – based on internet searches

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

I’m just a little bummed out…but it will pass

I know it’s Friday and I should be really happy, but I’ve just been a little bummed out about blogging in general. I’ve suddenly become incredibly self-conscious about anything I write. I know this can be the death-knoll for a blogger and a creativity killer, but I’ll get over it eventually. Nun with a ruler

I know I’ve said my piece once or twice about the focus on standardized testing in our schools. My gut simply tells me that focusing on teaching to these tests just saps or draws away any interest that people may have even had in learning. I also suspect that it really negatively affects the joys many teachers find in their jobs. Moreover, it can’t help that students perceive the anxiety from the principal, parents and teachers. Still, while I was reviewing research on why some people are better problem solvers than others, I had this thought this morning that perhaps there might be a way to make prepping for tests perhaps a little more engaging. For example, in taking a particular math problem on a test… perhaps teachers could throw it out there to the students so they can solve it together and share their logic and process. They could also work together to verbalize and explain how they solved the problem. I had teachers who did this but for some reason when they called us to the front of the room it aways felt like we were in the limelight performing in front of a dead audience who didn’t really get what we were talking about. It was more of a chore than anything else. Though considering where education and pedagogy were when the paddle and ruler had their active role in classroom management, I think we had it pretty easy.

I found this really neat nation-wide project called The National Math Trail. The Project is described on the website:

The National Math Trail is an opportunity for K-12 teachers and students to discover and share the math that exists in their own environments. Students explore their communities and create one or more math problems that relate to what they find. Teachers submit the problems to the National Math Trail site, along with photos, drawings, sound recordings, videos–whatever can be adapted to the Internet. All submissions will be posted to the site as they are submitted. They are also be indexed according to grade level and math topic and will remain on the site for access by educators, students and parents.

What I love about this effort it it allows teachers and students to learn from the real-life examples of real kids; it bring the mathematical interpretation of our surroundings alive from the view points of real people outside of a text book. I found what Kay Toliver, one of the founders of the project, said inspiring: “Mathematics is a subject in which we have to create thinkers not memorizers.” Okay… so how can we get them to think and still get them to pass these tests? It seems like a stupid question, but it’s not. Here’s another chicken-egg conundrum… but maybe we have to teach them to think before they can pass the tests… and just practicing taking tests or teaching to the tests isn’t enough. Sorry… I’m just venting, but that too will pass.

I’m taking a hiatus for a bit

elton-john.jpgBecause I’ve got a lot of other things to work on… for work, for myself. It’s also time to let the ideas I got from all these conferences and from the internet sit and marinate for a while. I’ll probably keep on looking at other people’s blogs and maybe start a draft post or two… but I think I need a break from all the stimulus.

I have to laugh because I think of what Elton John said recently…

“I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span…. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging.”

http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9753530-7.html

Tag-a-Meme

I’ve been tagged for the Random Facts about Me Meme by Christy. Thank you Christy from distracting me from work which was giving me a headache.  I understand if people don’t have the time to post, in any case I still get to share some of the neat blogs I link and connect to on a regular basis.

First, the Rules:

1) Post these rules before you give your facts

2) List 8 random facts about yourself

3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them

4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

And here’s the random facts about me:

1.) I don’t know if I know 8 people I can tag (I’m somewhat of a loner). Does this qualify as two facts? If you’re reading this blog and want to volunteer to be one of the remaining blanks I’ve put below. Please comment here. Watch, no one will leave a comment…. I’ll settle for folks who have already posted their 8 random facts.

2.) I tried my shot at Stand-up Comedy about four years ago. The only laughs I got were at the self-depreciating comments I made about my dating-life. Thank goodness I’m married now.

3.) I don’t like eating the yolks of eggs (fried, poached or hard-boiled).

4.) My favorite flower is pikake (known in the Philippines as sampagita). I had a lei of pikake made for me for my wedding. I’ll post a picture of me in my flowery regalia once I find it.

5.) Over the past year, I’ve learned to cook and bake using a gluten-free diet. Being gluten free in America is like being told that you are allergic to drinking water.

6.) I hate the color grey on anything but a nice tweed or cable wool sweater.

7.) I took Italian for almost four years in college. I once thought of studying romance languages and the literature of these languages. I haven’t practiced though I’m still adept at asking for and understanding street directions in Italian.

8.) I still love playing with Lego. I found this great site on building virtual Lego kits.

People I’ve tagged

  1. Jona Learning Nuggets. (Jona has done some exciting work with wikis in a business environment. She’s a good friend and I do appreciate having had the opportunity to work professionally with such a dynamic and passionate thinker.)
  2. Josh Tiny Screenfuls ( Josh is one of the first people to introduce me to the concept of applying Web 2.0 tech to learning and work. I have to say, my life is only richer with what I’ve learned so far.)
  3. Rory Learn-Learn Learn – (I can’t stop reading Rory’s blog. He’s got a passion of learning and using the web to explore that’s more than just contagious. Plus, he regularly links to fun widgets like the Mii (for the Wii) maker and the Simpsonize Me gadget.)
  4. HazaMr. Haza Does the Blogs – (Haza’s blog has great musings about elearning, books, instructional design and life in Malaysia. The man reads more books in one month than I think I read in my first year of undergraduate. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Haza in the past. His fascination with new technologies in instructional design, on organizational development, as well as his diverse mp3 and movie collection have provided us with lots to talk and laugh about every time we got to meet for business face to faces. )
  5. Rupa Writer’s Gateway (Rupa always posts excellent information and resources on e-learning and instructional design. I’ve enjoyed her recent posts on designing learning materials for the “Gamer Generation.”)
  6. Ronnie Ann -aka. The Work Coach (Ronnie Ann writes about dealing with life in a work environment. She covers those work topics that irrate you at work like a bad polyester tag on an uncomfortable sweater. She also does a great deal of musing on how to make your ‘ideal’ job happen).
  7. KatyThe Whackum Square (Katy has a sense of humor that’s great in writing but even more stellar in person. She not your average Cubicle Chick, maybe that’s why I like her).
  8. Alvin The Thinker blog. (Found Alvin through The Work Coach blog. I love reading his blog because he always provides a lucid account of what he sees and observes about existing in the post-modern… modern (or whatever) work place).

Okay… so I lied there are eight. Oh dear, I sort of feel bad about doing this… if you’ve done this exercise before please feel free to link back in the comments to your original post.


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