Archive for the 'Teachers' Category

Voice added to presentation on what the best online facilitators do

I was able to add some audio to this presentation. Admittedly it was recorded & edited in a hurry. And naturally after listening to it for the 3rd time I think I’d cut down the text by more than 1/3.

Technology Can’t Replace Teachers – Week 3 Image #edcmooc

An attempt at a digital image for Week 3. I was inspired by Week 2’s Twitter Chat’s question:

Q2: Is the future teacher a computer or a human?

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 4.36.52 PM

Future Think for Educators

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8]

Great film that helps us envision education and learning in transition. Some things educators, policy makers, parents, teacher, curriculum developers should all be getting excited about…

  • Cloud Computing – In many cases you don’t need to have software installed on your computers.  Content development tools such as Google Docs and many others make it possible to create and share documents, materials, etc. on the web. Students can track changes, add notes or comments and truly author pieces together.
  • Mobile Devices – Mobile devices and smart phones are definitely here to stay. Yesterday I realized that I only use my laptop if I’m working on something complex or lengthy. All other materials for reading or immediate access are funneled through my mobile. Educators can search out or even design learning enhanced by or using Mobile Devices – Why not create or develop learning activities where students can enhance their learning by connecting to materials and resources while they’re learning, or on a field trip? In a previous post I shared a number of different possible learning applications for cellphones. Several are quite ingenious and fun. You can view a detailed mind map of the lecture notes from the presentation where I got those ideas.
  • Leveraging Social Networking and Media Sharing Tools – Students and educators can learn from social networks that have pods or communities built around the topics they are interested in.  I found this great community on Learning Physics Online. You could even find or start communities on Ning or other similar networking site. Students (and or their teachers) can create videos, film projects, and presentations to put up on ‘safe’ sharing sites such as TeacherTube or YouTube. Check out this group of student’s retelling of the Boxer Rebellion. Love how they cleverly used recognizable styles and characterizations from Hong Kong  & martial arts cinema. I shared this some time ago, but I never get tired of watching it.
  • Alternatives to Written Papers – While I still think this skill is absolutely necessary to have. I don’t think the essay is the only way to test someone’s knowledge and grasp of content anymore. Students can put together podcasts. Writing the content and putting together the interview questions for the podcast as well as engaging in the discussion and interviews can help reinforce the content they are learning. Sometimes writing a script for a film, story boarding, and coordinating the filming is way more labor intensive than writing a term paper. Plus you’re actually using far more skills that can transfer to real jobs and life (… outlining, drafting, planning, writing, coordination, directing, … ummmm project management. I actually heard somewhere that film school is the new MBA :))
  • Ethics & Security Education for Parents and Students – yes the web can be a scary place, but so is the street. If we train students  (and parents) to be aware of the dangers and learn guidelines for avoiding them then that’s half the battle. It would also be in our best interests if we teach the younger generation appropriate netiquette.

More resources:

Using cell phones creatively

SALT Presentation: More that Just Talk – An Experience Using Cell Phones for Education

Presenter: Lin Muilenburg/ St. Mary’s College of Maryland

My Mind Map for the Presentation:

http://www.simpleapps.eu/mindmaps/ASraRQJ1tj2oqxc5eDJ9rD84wwJN/mindmap.pdf

I really enjoyed this presentation. The presenter kept us all engaged despite the fact that it was the last show of the day.

If you have a cellphone with a camera, then you can develop learning activity that engages your students.

These activities can take the form of polls, scavenger hunts, photo logs, fone conferences, etc. The applications are almost limitless. I’m thinking of creating a scavenger hunt using QR codes, various clues, and web games, maybe even geo cache to have a treasure hunt teambuilding at work.

A few days later…..

Back at a ‘real computer,’  I’m still obsessed with QR Codes. In the United States, the codes can be read mainly by cell phones. In Asia, most of the phones are outfitted with a QR Code reader. I was able to visit the QR Code Generator site and create one for my blog.

There are endless possibilities for using QR Codes to empower mobile learning with smart phones. For example, students could create their own “Museum Exhibitions” complete with an interactive media tour. They create their exhibits with labels that include QR codes that provide links to web pages, videos, mp3 files, etc. FUN STUFF!!!!  Students could even design their own ‘educational’ treasure or scavenger hunts for their teachers, parents, and fellow schoolmates.

Here’s a really well put together presentation on using QR Codes for Teaching I found on slideshare. The design process is meant for creating learning experiences for students on the University level, but I can see many of the principles being adapted for younger students as well.

http://www.slideshare.net/andyramsden/qr-codes-mlearn08-presentation

Why Susie Doesn’t Want to Go into IT

Well, the first thing I thought was… Susie doesn’t want to go into IT, because most IT jobs are being outsourced, but seriously, many girls are not considering careers in technology or are tuning out from subjects dealing with technology simply because they perceive the world of tech and computers as being the Realm of the Nerds (Not all girls feel this way; obviously I don’t). At least some of the literature on tech ed for females asserts that the nerd factor is a deterrent for female interest in tech, mathematics and science fields.

I recently ran across this paper from California State University that addresses girls lack of interest in tech. According to the author’s research boys are more likely to be found working with computers than girls and parents of boys purchase computers for their children more than parents of girls? More, girls still tend to think of technology fields and subjects as more of a masculine domain. It seems to be a backward assumption, but statistics are telling us otherwise.

So what do we do to reverse this trend of girls’ lack of interest in science and tech?

I liked what this paper has to say about getting girls more engaged in technology projects, or simply that teachers and educators should appeal to what many girls are interested in their early adolescent and teen years like building relationships and social networks: “Technology production and broadcasing via blogs or podcasting, offers effective ways for girls to express themselves creatively.”

I can see or imagine the following activities:

  • A project that involves teaching girls how to code xml to set up their own podcasting site. They choose their own topics and decide to share about the things they are interested in.
  • Or how about learning simple javascript to build features on a topical webpage on crafts or the arts
  • Maybe developing a simple discussion forum for girls issues in a class
  • Girls can be engaged to start an anti-cyber-bullying campaign within their school
  • Girls become involved in building computers and servers for charity centers or even their own schools

More, I can see where the parents or educators who lead these activities need to structure them so that they are team dependent activities. Honestly, I think kids today have a leg up on understanding how to work more effectively in teams than we did. Perhaps all those reality T.V. shows that focus on team competition and activities are actually worth something. I’m not sure the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation teachers really understood how to teach team or group activities effectively. I remember having teachers that would avoid group learning because they really preferred sitting up in front of the classroom and lecturing.
Additional Resources for Getting Girls Engaged in Tech/Resources for Science Ed for Women:

My mind map for “Engaging Girls in Technology”

girlsandtechsm.gif

Lifelong learning is important for 21st century living

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

Characteristics of Lifelong Learners – Click on the image to view a larger version

 

Link Obsession: Overcoming Teachers’ Fears of Tech

Tech Learning Blog Rant: He makes a good point… Digital Native/Immigrant distinction may just give some teachers an excuse not the cross the bridge. If you read to the comments on this post a responder notes that some teachers fear pushing newer technologies because they fear loosing their jobs. Is this the case? Why so? Isn’t fear a kicker?

Training Teachers Who are Terrorized by Technology: This is a really helpful article about dealing with common questions or protests about using technology in the classroom. One of the questions was “how can I manage computers in the classroom?” The tech teacher notes that they actually train teachers to use applications along with the students. This way the teacher can feel comfortable about using the technology as their students use it.

Fear of Technology in Schools: Dave Chakrabarti chocks up parents (and teachers) fears of technology to the fact that parents fear the lack of control as children are more facile at using technology than they are. I don’t know about other families, but in our family, my father put our lack of fear of technology to his advantage and allowed us to set up any of the new tech gadgets we got like the VCR, the Remote Controls, etc. That way he didn’t have to read the manual and he could just have us explain how the gadgets worked. Maybe this is what parents should do with their children and new technologies… but then again that requires a great deal of trust. In Dave’s posting, dave notes that a teacher who set up a blog was blocked by the school because they though the blog’s presence on the web compromised the students’ safety. The teacher’s response was to shift her focus on to teaching safety on the internet. Smart Teacher; talk about making lemons into lemonade. That’s cool!

Technology: To Use or Infuse: This article discussed some to the common trends in tech integration into the schools and how these may have led us down wrong paths to true integration of technology for educational purposes. It’s true that computers provide us with greater opportunities to learn how to solve “open-ended” problems. Students can be presented a problem, brainstorm solutions then use the internet to gain knowledge and perhaps even contact experts to help them solve the problem.

As I read these articles I became acutely aware of my own tendencies to over-explain things when it comes to technology. Also, I think I’ve developed this automatic response to any audience – I assume that they’re going to resist the technology I propose. I feel like I’ve allowed this assumption to cloud my decision making and choices. I always opt for first teaching those who are fearful and afraid rather than also address the needs and desires of those who are already willing to learn.

Girls are just as good at math as boys

Even though I worked in a tech-field company, I can’t tell you how many times I encountered women in meetings who would shy away from any tasks that dealt with spreadsheet calculations. Granted I worked heavily in training and human resources which seemed to be female-dominated. I often heard comments like: I’m not any good at math or I was always really bad at math, let’s have so and so do that. It made my skin itch. I wasn’t particularly skilled at it either, but I was willing to try to learn how. I actually learned that I had a love for using spreadsheets to calculate and and report out data visually. Used ratio and proportion calculations on a near daily basis to recreate objects to scale. When I was working as an elementary school teacher in the Ninties, I heard similar self-disparaging comments from women. It made me cringe because these were the same people who were teaching math to the girls (and boys) in their classroom. Some of those self-doubts, fears and inhibitions were probably rubbing of on those girls.

How many of those women had math skills that they applied in some of the other everyday tasks and efforts that they did in tasks and crafts that were/are traditionally thought of as belonging to female roles: Sewing, knitting, cooking? These arts used geometry, calculations, proportions, etc. What builds my ire up even more is that America is probably the only developed nation where the stereotype that women are less capable or adept at mastering math is so prevalent. Many researchers and math education experts are now saying that WE MUST STOP MAKING THESE SELF-DISPARAGING COMMENTS about our inability to master math. Saying these things in front of young individuals both male and female perpetuates the stereotype that women are naturally not as talented and capable of being skilled in Math than men.

I did have the opportunity to work with a few female middle school math teachers and they were absolutely inspiring. I had the good fortune to work side-by-side with a teacher who put a huge investment in the curriculum she chose to teach to her students. She chose one that not only helped her students see and interpret math in both their own lives and the real world, she worked in conjunction with the Science, English and Social Studies teachers to develop an integrated curriculum which had themed foci that the kids could relate to. Also, just plain and simple – she conveyed a passion for math and she served as a role model for the girls in her course.

Math Resources for Teachers and Parent of Girls:

I found some terrific resources for parents and teachers on ERIC. I also found an excellent podcast on NPR Science Friday on the importance of getting more girls interested and building their confidence in Math. The podcast features an interview with Danica McKellar actress and math spokesperson who authored a book designed to encourage middle-school girls to be more confident and resolved to learning math and succeeding in math. Danica sounds so passionate about the subject but what I really respect and admire about her is that she openly says… it’s okay to be a girl and show that you’re smart! (Funny, how in this day and age that this is still and issue).
Gender-Fair Math: A short overview of the crisis and issues surrounding the lack of female interest in mathematics. There are some really good suggestions for helping build girl’s self-confidence.

Add-Ventures for Girls: Building Math Confidence: a huge (348 page) guide for Junior High Teachers. I’ve only skimmed through the first chapters.
Encouraging American Girls to Embrace Math – NPR Podcast with interviews with Danica McKellar and Members of the Womens’ Math Olympiad Team

Danica McKellar’s Website – Check out the Section for the book Math Doesn’t Suck.

Biographies of Women Mathematicians

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.

Using Games and Social Networking to Teach – Great Podcast

I’m just catching up on listening to some podcasts I’ve neglected. “Smart City” is one that continually pulls me back.

Here’s a great podcast that talks about the impact of new media and technology on educating kids (media/tech = video games, social networking sites, etc.).

http://www.smartcityradio.com/smartcityradio/past_shows.cfm?showsmartcityID=307&PageNum_getsmartshows=1 

Doug Thomas (author of Hacker Culture) from the Annenberg School of Communication at USC notes that games are actually a really good way for students to learn.  Students need to be prepared for different ways of thinking and innovation. Games are good at (multiplayer games) setting dispositions or outlooks towards certain ways of knowing, understanding how people share information.  Games can help students learn exploring different paths and possibilities and therefore may be able to help students simulate innovative thinking.  Games can allow players to solve problems.

Thomas also notes that educators today (some) are really having a hard time transitioning to accepting new ways of learning that include games…. I’m thinking that this is most likely because these educators don’t like to give up control over the learning and the content that is being presented.

I have to get back to work, but if I have more time later today I’ll try to comment more on the second half of the podcast on use of social networking media.


Why?

My place outside of work to explore and make connections with the ideas and things (sometimes work-related) that I'm passionate about.

My Tweets

Blog Stats

  • 297,152 hits