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Monthly Archives: November 2011

I was about to go to bed after a failed attempt at writing a paper and I decided to check twitter before I checked out.  Man, I have some smart people here – saying and showing some really smart things, I thought.  Hopefully someday I can really understand what this whole PLN thing is really about so I can be a better teacher.

But is the main point of an educator’s PLN to help them teach better or model to students the benefits and encourage them to create their own?

I know I want a quality PLN in order to really knock my students’ socks off.  You know, me + smart people = magic happens, or something like that.  But if connecting with people through a PLN can make that magic happen, then let’s make sure every student gets something similar in order to get that magic for whatever they’re doing – school or otherwise.  Help create “networked students” much like the “networked teacher.”

I know, everybody already knew that.  But, Brodie didn’t.  At least with one week left in ECMP355 I caught on.  I kept thinking of my PLN as something I can use to do my job better.  True, but it’s that whole concept of connecting and sharing and learning that students need to hear and learn how to use.

So I guess I’m seeing that PLN’s aren’t simply a means to an end.  They are a lot more than that.  I wonder if students today already understand this far better than me.  Maybe, but least I’m trying to catch up.

This is a business simulation that I created for Ebus250 for an information processing class.  Our assignment was to visit a local business of our choice and get a feel for the “office environment” and the type of work that gets done there.  After that we were to create a 5 class simulation based on our visit.  I lucked out and through a friend, I was able to spend a morning at SaskEnergy downtown with the V.P. of Human Resources, Robert Haynes.

It’s very much not based on what that day was like, but it does reference many H.R. issues.  Spending time with a big wig like Robert, who is a super great guy, I saw very little of any physical work.  His position is clearly more “big picture.”  So the tasks are pretty remedial, but I had a tough time connected H.R. related work to the info. pro. curriculum.  But I was shown around, introduced to heads of various departments, sat in on an executive meeting, and really enjoyed every minute of it.  Having several friends who are in the H.R. field, it was nice to see what their careers might consist of.

Anyways, I thought I would share the project I created, and won’t bore you with the paper that was written to along with it.  Which also bugs me, because the paper accompanying the project was worth nearly the same amount.  I think that’s silly.  If you can nail a unit/lesson/simulation (not saying I did by any means), should that not be worth far more than a paper detailing your development process and rationale for the work?  Sorry, off track.

I decided to use SlideRocket for the first time, and it was pretty slick to work with and I found it easier to play around with than PowerPoint.  It doesn’t seem to be letting me embed it (any help on that note?), so you’ll have to use the link.  And if you feel like viewing it, you have to give an email address.

I’m doubtful this would take some students more than 2-3 classes, but most students usually move slower than you think possible, and also I ran out of time/ideas.  It’s purposely left a little vague to encourage individual results.  Most bosses don’t give explicit, a-z instructions, so I tried to emulate that somewhat without being too confusing.  It also pulls from 5 or so modules so it’s more to be used as a review exercise or assessment.

If you have a couple minutes, take a look, tell me what you think.  Good, bad, and ugly please.  I think simulations are soooo good for business ed. classes and this is my first one, so please help me get better at them.

http://app.sliderocket.com:80/app/fullplayer.aspx?id=8A962EDD-6B20-DF63-4DAC-DB9E4711925C

I love the interview with Louis C.K.  Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.  It’s hilarious.  And I am totally one of those annoying people. If one of the many wondrous things my Iphone can do (that I didn’t know existed 2 months ago) fails,  I feel personally slighted by it’s failure.  How dare you crash on me!  Why are we like this?  We expect everything to come quickly and easily.  With our crazy, advancing technology we can have so much, so fast.

I’m worried, especially because I see so much of this in myself, that we are losing the value and reward of putting in time and effort to create or do something on our own. How many students have just grown accustomed to copy and pasting information for papers?  More than ever get caught, that’s for sure. How many of us use and heavily rely on technology that does all the work for us, while we have no idea how it works or appreciate the work behind the technology or the processes involved?  Maybe 99%?  These are sort of different things.  But sort of related.

I want my students to know the value of putting in a significant amount of time and effort into their work.  There is greater reward, satisfaction, and helps build skills as well as character. Many kids understand this and see the value in hard work., but many don’t either.  I feel like it’s kind of a difficult balance between using new technologies that make our lives easier, faster, funner (not a word), without devaluing or forgetting the benefits of hard work.  I suppose it’s all what you do with what you have.  This feels like I’m complaining again, but any thoughts, ideas?

And oh yes, the inspiration for this post came from an afternoon spent with my little mentee buddy last week.  We found a tree that was half frozen in ice and we decided to break it out of the ice and mud and throw it off a bridge.  It was extremely difficult and I wanted to quit several times but after almost an hour, we did it.  I was so impressed with his determination to not give up and get that satisfaction.  Here’s a picture at my twitter account (it’s bigger than it looks).

I’m just writing this for myself and whoever else cares that I feel beyond frustrated with my inability to figure out how to do cool things with Scratch.  I feel like a have some good ideas, but when I go to translate them into a project I come up against brick wall after brick wall.  It’s driving me nuts.  So after trying in vain this morning to make something from “scratch,”  I added another element onto another Scratcher’s project.  There’s a really neat sharing element with Scratch.  You can upload a project and request that others remix it or add whatever changes to it.  Here’s a Remix Visualization of the project that I added something to.  I think it’s pretty sweet.  I want to bash my head through my keyboard when things aren’t going well, but I’m still going to keep working on it.  Here’s my addition of another character and dialogue to Jonzo’s project – Add Yourself At A Disaster!

Have our expectations went down for teenagers today as opposed to 20, 50, 100 years ago?  Well, ya, it sure seems like it.

Children used to hit puberty, become adults and contribute to society through work, etc. Now, children are turning into pre-teens who change into teenagers, who morph into late-teens, who shift into young adults, followed by early adulthood, and in drastic cases you never reach full adult status but become the monster that is the manbaby.  And not the hilarious kind!  The sad kind where someone for whatever reason never grew up, but instead just got bigger.

Is this the result of a society lowering its expectations to allow the adolescent years stretch super-extra-long  into a persons’ twenties or thirties?  I would say so.  Now I’m not saying at the age of 13 kids should be working in acid mines, but I think we went a little crazy with the “let them just be kids” mentality and in the process dropped the bar too low.

I’m not a crotchety old senior citizen complaining about those darn kids,  I’m an aspiring teacher wanting the best for kids, and a big part of that is high expectations.  Research is stinking consistent that higher expectations result in higher performance.  Awesome!  High expectations = High performance. Let’s do that!  Unfortunately, when this is played out in school, it can be pretty off-putting to kids.   Having a teacher who “expects that they don’t talk, listen to him all the time and get straight A’s.”  Probably not the best way of going about it.  But daily motivating and encouraging students to a point where they believe that through hard work, they can do something, on their own, at a high level!  That would be pretty awesome.  Helping students see that they are capable of so much more than the status quo can be such a powerful realization.

Give your students the tools they need to succeed and push them darnit.  Help them see that high expectations aren’t oppressive, but freeing.  They can transform you into more than you thought you could be.  If your students see that you honestly feel this way, and truly care about them succeeding, I think there’s a greater chance they will.  Don’t leave them scraping by, measured against lowering expectations.  Hold that bar up high!

This is what I would tell students using their phones during class when I was an EA.  I didn’t always say it with an exclamation point, but usually it worked pretty well.  And I do believe they can be a problem.  Texting friends or parents in class keeps those texting from fully being part of class and can distract students around them.  Unless the use of cell phones is curbed, cones of ignorance could very well start developing all over the place.

But cracking down doesn’t really solve anything, only causes more conflicts in class.  And pretty soon every student is going to have a smart phone with them at all times.  Yes, they can be a problem, but so can scalpels, and bio teachers regularly give those out for class activities.  We just need to incorporate the positive uses of phones often enough that the negative uses are less visible and disruptive.  I’m not sure that’s totally possible, but it’s worth attempting.  Every student coming to class equipped with their own personal computer might be distracting, but there has to be a  giant, brilliant silver lining there, and if we don’t look for it, we’ll be doing a big disservice to our students.

PollEverywhere, StudyBoost, and Remind101 are a couple of the uses other than varied research or a replacement calculator/dictionary.  These are good.  They are a start.  But how much can you really use these tools in class and how do you monitor content when students are using phones “for class?”  Are we supposed to trust them? Hahaha.  Well that would be great and I think it definitely is getting better as digital citizenship and responsibility are explained and encouraged to youth, but we know that bullying and other concerns are still there.  Maybe we’re just worried they will get worse if we open the floodgates by incorporating them into class?  Well playing ostrich and hoping things will get better usually doesn’t work, so…if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Early this year, a student survey in Ontario revealed that 72% of students don’t think cell phones have a place in classrooms as educational tools.  Of course they wouldn’t.  These are their tools, they should be used for their reasons, like spelling dirty words with numbers (or whatever students do).  As Alec pointed out in class today, you make cell phones into a learning tool and BAM, cool factor goes to zero, or at the very least makes the phone seem a little less taboo.  And boy howdy, do people crave things that are taboo.

So, cells in the classroom.  Any ideas, thoughts, questions or quandaries?