Saturday, June 2, 2012

Are E-books really good for all our students?

I love integrating technology in my classes. My school will be piloting iPads in the World Language department and I already have a long list of appropriate apps to use for class.  With so much technology being used in our classrooms, some might question how long we will still be seeing books that have paper pages.Have you notice the line up of Nooks at our local Barnes 'n Nobles bookstore and even the Kindle app on mobile phones? Obviously many people are seeing the many advantages of e-books. But are their any disadvantages for our children?

Kate Garland, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Leicester in England, has done comparison studies with students reading the same content in both media with different results in student performance.  The surprising results were that students retained information quicker when using paper books as opposed to e-books.  E-books seem to require students to read over pages. 

Now the truth; I had a Kindle and soon it found it's way on the shelf collecting dust. Why? Well, it seems I like others, appreciate the spatial context in a paper book.  I like knowing where on the page something was written; was it the lower right-hand side or top left-hand side?  

Check out the article in Time Magazine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Flipped Classroom : Education Next

The Flipped Classroom : Education Next

Teachers around the country and have been using digital lessons from the Khan Academy for their students. The Khan Academy is on a mission to provide a free world-class education to anyone anywhere. The library of videos covers k-12 math, science topics and even some finance and history. The lessons are about 10 minutes long and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.

This is a great way for parents to get involved too.  Parents can get the lesson and help their child understand.

By the way, I made my own flipped lesson.  My results surprised me.  Most students watched the video I posted online of me teaching Spanish stem-changing verbs but most of the weaker students didn't.  I even gave them a few days to watch before I delved into practice.

I made another one and I got similar results.  I think I know what I must try.  I'm going to try to have a student give the lesson.  Someone students might want to see, as opposed to their teacher!  I'll report back with results!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Composition 1.01 : How Email Can Change the Way Professors Teach

A great article in the Atlantic that refers to what so many of us know about learning and improving.  The author refers to what Malcolm Gladwell stated in his book Outliers. Gladwell writes about how one needs 10,000 hours of practice that includes a means to improve performance. That is immediate feedback.  In the Atlantic article Composition 1.01: How Email Can Change the Way Professors Teach, it is suggested that if teachers reviewed writing 'in progress', students would get the immediate feedback needed to improve and continue writing.  He compares it to coaching during practice as opposed to after the game.  

Interestingly enough, I am reading Grant Wiggins' book, Assessing Student Performance, where Wiggins points out that " Successful learning depends upon adjustment in response to feedback; no task worth mastering can be done right on the first try. Effective adjustment depends upon accurate self assessment; good self-assessment depends upon the assessor supplying excellent feedback." 

Technology offers us a means to cut down the stacks of paper and give immediate feedback to our students.  Feedback should always be considered with any form of assignments or assessments.  It is puzzling how students take finals and state assessments and never see their papers.  Student's work is an opportunity to learn. 

Check out this article by James Somers in the Atlantic

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do Schools share too much with parents?
Schools now have the technology to allow parents to monitor their children's status on class projects, grades, and missing, late, or incomplete assignments. However you feel about this change, it is a change that will have an impact on our students.

'Helicopter parents' is a term that refers to a parent whose child is in college and who has the desire to fly in and fly out with the purpose of rescuing their children in distress.(ABC News: 20/20 television Series) Parenting is a difficult task and has many more challenges ahead.  Enter technology and the accessibility it now offers.  If you know you can help your child, why wouldn't you?  Universities are inundated with phone calls from parents with all sort of requests to assist their children.

I believe that one must practice some caution in this age of transparency in schools. Parents do indeed have the 'upper-hand' with their children.  All of this information, parents didn't have before, now must come with some precaution. One should keep in mind, that part of the learning, is to teach students to try and solve issues and problems on their own.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This is Morpheus Bot!

According to
Bot: This is an automated software program that can execute certain commands when it receives a specific input (like a ro-"bot"). Bots are most often seen at work in the Internet-related areas of online chat and Web searching. The online chat bots do things like greet people when they enter a chat room, advertise Web sites, and kick people out of chat rooms when they violate the chat room rules.
This Bot has a name.  The name is Morpheus.  This bot not only writes to you, but also speaks at the same time.  The answers are logical, it also asks questions and analyzes your answers.
The possibilities of how bots like this could be used in education are endless.  Unfortunately, Morpheus doesn't know a foreign language but I'm sure that is right around the corner.  
I can see students asking bot questions and bot analyzing responses!   Try it out yourself ! 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Born To Learn

Born to Learn from Born to Learn on Vimeo.
A wonderful video illustrating the importance of play in how we learn.  It reminds us that creating an atmosphere of learning in the classroom should be one that allows for such play and not such rigidity that we have in so many classrooms today.  This is still evidenced by the rows of desks one behind the other,  the lessons that require that one "looks only at your teacher and your books", classes that truly don't allow for students to explore subject matter using all types of media, and where engaging communication  between students is not encouraged.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

So many Web 2.0 Tools : My Brain is Full!

Recently, a colleague and I presented a workshop to a group of foreign language teachers on Web 2.0 tools.  We decided that for an hour and a half maybe we would only be able to cover 40 "tools of the trade".  It was obvious, as we went along that we could have spent hours on these tools.  We all have different comfort levels with regards to technology.  We all marveled at many of the tools but also just as overwhelming is how to implement the tools in our lessons. The experience reminded me of my own experiences at the Apple store.  I have taken their One-to-One tutorial classes, ( which I highly recommend) and even though the sessions are one hour, I would often say after 30 minutes, "That's enough, my brain is full!"

Like Drinking Water from a Fire Hose by Frank Pileiro

This article's title says it all. These wonderful tools can be so inviting but you definitely need time to absorb what is being taught.  I wish our students could do the same instead of the regimented schedules that they have. There will always be more and more web 2.0 tools coming your way, so what's important is that you add whatever one or two tools you feel you could use in your personal or professional life and then, get ready for more!