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!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Myth of Multitasking

Students are always trying to convince me what great "Multi-taskers" they are.  I try to explain that there is no way they can read what is on the board, write or check text messages, and/or learn new material. They are just distracted. I don't have their complete attention; I have their partial attention. When learning new material, having their complete attention is very important.
I think the problems isn't just with students, it's with everyone.  I hear about more people texting while driving and more signs springing up at restaurants, shops, and businesses that don't want you to use your IPhone.
Much research has been done to the effectiveness and efficacy of our multi-taskers.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough, Do the Tough Get Going?

With the news that more young people are committing suicide because they can't find jobs, it is no wonder that some are being more creative in finding ways to cheat to get into universities.  The number of suicides last year topped the 30,000 mark. Among the victims, youths in their 20s formed the largest group, at 153, while six were minors.

Today's headlines in Japan are of a student arrested for cheating on an entrance exam at Kyoto University. This could possibly be the first person prosecuted for cheating in Japan.  He could face up to three years in prison or a fine of $6,000.

With unemployment at a high, the pressure on young people to do what it takes may be too much. Like the university of Kyoto, maybe we need to look for more ways to prevent cheating and not leave our students with temptations.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Students Techno-Cheating

Well, most would say students have always cheated in school in some way or another, but smartphones pose new challenges for today's educators. Students can 'lift' directly off the internet for homework assignments, photograph the tests, texted answers, and google anything, anytime.  I routinely have to explain to my students that putting in a paragraph in English and hitting a Spanish translator button is cheating. It also doesn't work.  Translators aren't there yet.  I've had to explain to students that their paragraphs have grammar in it that they won't learn for another few years!  I try to convince them it's obvious when they use a translator.  I don't think most don't really believe me.

Temptation is very high right now.  How can teachers combat this?  I have heard about cell phone jammers that block cell phone use by sending out radio waves along the frequencies that cellular phones use. Some teachers collect cell phones before assessments.  Maybe it's time to create different types of assessments.Academic Cheating in the Age of Google

Monday, February 7, 2011

Can texting help your child's spelling?

Clare Wood, reader in developmental psychology states that "If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it." Interestingly enough the fact that students do so much texting, might be helping them with their spelling. Research shows that in texting words, such as "hmwrk," there is a certain 'phonological awareness' required.

Maybe it is with this type of research that schools will embrace the possibilities cellphones have to offer our students.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Siftables :Interactive Learning tools the size of Cookies

One of my favorite places to visit is the  (TED: Technology Entertainment Design) Well, David Merrill, an MIT grad student, meets all those requirement as he demos Siftables. They are little computer blocks that you manipulate to create music, do math, play language games, and so much more. Merrill states that it is similar to how spatial reasoning helps us understand a lot of the world around us. This is a very exciting glimpse of what will soon be available to our children.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Preparing Our Children to be Responsible Digital Citizens

Digital citizenship is a tool to prepare our children for a world surrounded by technology. 
Our children’s online safety is a responsibility of parents and schools.  We often protect them by blocking sites or other forms of censorship. Are we teaching them how to be digital citizens?  One thought on the subject would have schools allow students opportunities to assess risks and provide guidance with online interaction.  How do we compare with the rest of the world?  

Friday, February 4, 2011

They are Way Ahead of US! Free iPhones for Students!

No more saying, "I was sick and missed the notes".   So there is good and bad to all of this but the possibilities are endless. For this university in Japan, attendance is key! read more ...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A guide for Parents about Facebook

This downloadable guide assists parents with privacy setting, profile information, and blocking users and invites.  Facebook is a very popular site for children as well as adults, but should be used with some caution.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Apps in the Classroom

Textbook publishers experiment with iPad-based lessons

"SEXY SELLS"  It seems that even in schools we are looking for smart, sexy, and "in" tech ware.

Why start on the iPad, as opposed to competing tablets and electronic reading devices?
“Because this is a sexy device,’’ said Bethlam Forsa, executive vice president for content development and publishing operations at Houghton Mifflin. “Students are no different than consumers. They are excited to work with something like this.’’

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Parent Advice on Apps

I know it must be difficult for parents to go through the thousands of apps or even know about all the resources their child could be using.  Why not help with resources from students, teachers, and blogs like this?  Here's a good one I found for recommended uses on the iPad.  It's terrific!