Friday, April 1, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
As I was browsing through the different photos available online, a few ideas came to mind about how to use photos in the classroom, both as a teacher and as a student. The following are a topics and bulleted lists of some of the ideas I’ve had so far.
· Images of 2-D geometric figures in “real life” such as stop signs to find perimeter and area.
· Images of 3-D geometric figures in “real life” to find volume and surface area – or just identifying the figures
· Assigning a scavenger hunt to have student search for photos of figures
· Using Escher art photos to discuss Tessellations
Connecting Math to Everyday Life
· Math and Art – find photos of art and describe mathematical connections
· Math and Sports – find photos of playing fields, equipment, statistics, etc.
· Math and Architecture – find photos of bridges, buildings, etc.
· Math and Music – find photos of musical scores, sine waves for notes
Showcasing or saving student work
· Take photos of student projects such as poster projects or projects where students build items (we have build tetrahedral kites and flown them)
· Have students create drawings or art or mathematics cartoons and take photos of their creative work
Have photos available for students to use when writing word problems – or provide several photos and have students write about the photo.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Week 4 Assignment: Steve Hargadon; Classroom 2.0
Focus in important to having a good conversation. An unfocused network doesn't offer a good reason to come back. Future of Education faces this as a very real challenge, and I'm hopeful that the interview series will provide some focus since the topic is so big. A network doesn't need to be 17,000 people. It can be a great place for 25 or 50 if there is a good conversation taking place.
I think that Steve Hargadon brought up many good points, but felt that focus was probably the most important aspect. It seems that in these weeks of exploring new technology, there are many distractions and sometimes so much information that it distracts from the main idea. It is easy to start “wandering” through and spending more time than is needed by being distracted from the original purpose. Creating a place for students to learn involves focusing on a topic in particular and inviting many points of view on the same subject. One of the concerns I have had while exploring is the distracting nature of this “connected” world where you are one click away from a new idea and yet another new idea without depth.
I think that one of the benefits of a classroom discussion is that many points of view are expressed or presented in a small time frame which gives members of the group a lot of information about one topic so they can function at a higher cognitive level – analyze, compare and contrast, synthesize. Many of the articles we have read refer to the classroom as a lecture – which is really not the model in many instances – many discussions are taking place that provide an opportunity for students to focus on a concept in depth.
The question is how to recreate that in a virtual environment. Discussion boards, comments on blogs, shared creations on wikis all have a “time lag” for that conversation. Any discussion board I have assigned and participated in requires an initial post and a response –but how many students really read the entire conversation? How do we get that depth of analysis by reading other posts when it takes so much less time to have a conversation or discussion? These are some of the items I struggle with in the online environment – how do we re-create that problem solving conversation when a group is working together on a challenging task – those AHA! Moments that happen when someone else is showing you or the AHA moment you have when you are trying to explain the concept to someone else. In math – it is with words, symbols, and diagrams that we communicate.
I chose Facebook to explore:
The target audience for facebook was Harvard-only in 2004, expanded to other schools and required a university email address. In 2005, high school students, professionals, and then everyone had access and the site is still in existence. I think it is popular because you do have to give people permission to view your site, but you can also visit portions of other people’s pages but ask to “friend” them. It must be popular since there are links to facebook pages, movies about the origin of Facebook, and references to it in numerous places. There is such a potential for connectivity to many other people.
I joined facebook to get a better idea of how it worked – started by sending “friend requests” to a few people (mainly family and a few high school friends). I checked email 24 hours later and WOW - what happened? All of a sudden people I haven’t seen in decades are sending information – I see many family members are already on the site and it seems there was a great social gathering going on since 2005 that I was unaware of – it is easy to sit and get “lost” in catching up with friends, family, previous students, previous teachers for hours. Will I get any work done?
I still don’t understand what exactly can be done on the site – but it has been really interesting. It is amazing how many people you meet – especially in 24 years of teaching – but most of the pages I visited were high school friends and family.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Will Richardson does have much to say about the benefit of using weblogs in education for student learning. In our text, he lists six advantages of weblogs: provide a constructivist tool for learning, expand the classroom, facilitate reflection and metacognition, support different learning styles, develop expertise on a specific topic, and help students develop skills that will help them throughout life (Richardson, 2010, pg 26 -27). There is potential in all of these areas but not unless teachers see the value of incorporating the technology in their classrooms. For this reason, I read entries in Richardson’s blog dealing with the professional development of teachers and how to best help educators realize the potential of the technology.
Professional development for teachers comes in many forms, but the most common is the workshop model where only a few hours, days or weeks are dedicated to a specific topic. The blog I read, “Continual, Collaborative, on the Job Learning” mentions that research shows that these models do not increase student achievement. Professional development models that are ongoing over time (6 to 7 months) produce better results. Recommended is a change in the professional development model with weblogs used to help teachers build a sense of community within the profession without the time constraint of focused workshops. The technology allows participation more frequently with a wider audience.
I do agree with Richardson that there is great potential for the use of weblogs to help teachers communicate with a much wider audience of fellow professionals. Teachers in the public K-12 system have little time during the day to communicate with fellow teachers and probably don’t have the time or means to attend workshops outside of those sponsored by a district during professional development days. Professional development online allows a less time-structured model that can be sustained over time. I also agree that teachers need to learn by using the new technology – a workshop on how to use a weblog would not be as effective as a professional development course on a topic teachers are interested in that uses a weblog effectively. A potential difficulty is getting teachers who are not familiar with the technology “up to speed”, which means some sort of instruction on how to use the technology.
I disagree with a few statements about the lack of training in technology in his blog post “Well-Trained Teachers”. The author states that millions of people bought the iPad and didn’t need training on how to use it but teachers won’t use it unless they have training. “We’ve done the same thing to our teachers that we’re doing to our kids, namely conditioned them to wait for direction on what to learn, how to learn it, and how to show they’ve learned it.” Teachers in K-12 are learning on the job every day in many areas such as community building in classrooms that are overenrolled, school law concerning a variety of issues students and their families have that are non-education related but affect students’ educational performance, learning teaching strategies for the wide variety of students classified special needs in any classroom (English language learners, learning disabilities, etc.), not to mention learning in their content area. I don’t think teachers are waiting to be told what to learn or resisting technology – they are instead working as hard as they can to help students learn as much as they can in a system that is underfunded and understaffed. There just isn’t a lot of time to explore new technologies in the day-to-day hectic life of a teacher.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I have had to write my teaching philosophy several times in the last 26 years of being a student of education. It has changed somewhat each time based upon experience with students and strategies that have helped them be successful in my classes. My philosophy is based primarily on a blend of two psychological orientations: humanistic psychology and constructivism.
Humanistic psychology “emphasizes personal freedom, choice, awareness, and personal responsibility.” (Parkay, 2001, p 93). This perspective takes into account motivation, feelings, and needs in addition to intellectual aspects of learning and is based on the idea that learning is within the individual’s control. In the classroom, teachers are facilitators who create a classroom climate of trust and respect where students have some decisions about their learning. Aspects of my teaching that align with this philosophy are: getting to know each student as an individual and asking them what their goals are (course and career), creating a classroom climate where students contribute, share information, and work together, and including activities where students have a choice about some aspect of the activity.
Constructivism focuses on the mental processes students use to learn new information and focuses on active learning (Parkay, 2001). A constructivist classroom is one where students are involved in their learning and activities take into account prior experiences. In mathematics, many of the new concepts are based on or extensions of previous concepts and there are many real world applications of mathematics that students can relate to. Characteristics of my teaching that align with a constructivist perspective are: connecting the current topic with topics students have learned previously (either in a previous class or earlier in the semester), encouraging students to work together in groups to complete problems or tasks, and relating mathematical concepts to many real world applications.