As part of ECS 210 this semester, students are to write reflections and responses to weekly readings.  I’ll be putting mine up here.

This first week of school we started reading Kevin Kumashiro’s book, Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice.  The phrase “social justice” is very trendy, and many find the concept an attractive one.  And why not?  Help those who have been oppressed and work for change, righting current societal wrongs.  Unfortunately for myself, and probably others, I am not sure exactly how to someday “teach” social justice, while already overwhelmed with thinking about teaching basic subject skills, preparing kids for the information age, and helping them lead productive and enjoyable lives, as one student says in the introduction.  It’s a tall order for sure.  That’s why I’m excited for this book.  On a quick look through the table of contents, Kumashiro takes a look at different subject areas and how to effectively incorporate anti-oppressive education in all subjects. This is a textbook that will be read.

Kumashiro says we need students to think independently, critically and creatively about whatever story is being taught.  Being aware of context, perspectives, consequences, etc when analyzing situations/problems are such valuable skills across the board.  Kumashiro then turns this critical lens on teachers themselves.  He begins to show how many common sense, or traditional teaching practices can be oppressive to all or some students.  We need to critically and creatively look at how and what we are teaching.  To not explore new ways of approaching an old curriculum or new information, we may be perpetuating oppression in our classes.  This feels so important as all teachers want their students to feel safe and cared for in their classrooms.

Finally, I may just be a sucker for a quality alliteration, but the questions at the end of each chapter to encourage comprehension, concretization, and critique seem well done.  They may be no different than other study guide questions, but the 3 C’s really sold me.

 

 

So, inspired by my last post about Scratch where I added on to another Scratcher`s project, I created a project that encourages people to download and add their own sprites/scripts/sounds to the project.  That one is right here.  I kept it short and sweet, hoping to make it approachable for kids to add their piece to it.

I also recently added a project that lets you play the drums.  So, it’s a lot like those play the drum apps, except less user friendly. But I thought it would be an alright idea to try and for the most part it worked out.  There is some delay when trying to play the same drum or cymbal quickly back to back but it was sort of fun to do.  And I figured out how to do everything on my own, so I guess I either didn’t challenge myself enough or I am not as bad as I think.  Maybe a bit of both.  That game can be played here.

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).