Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peripheral Blog

This litterally is a peripheral blog -I almost missed this last assignment!
I am very excited to use some of the extra tech toys in next year's newly designed Rice Unit. Particularly the Flip Cam. It is really so easy to use, and so simple to incorporate into some many types of files and applications.
I've been using several differnt cameras and tools to tell stories in my I.T. class thus far, and have met with limited success. In part because of the nature of the sixth grade brain, but also in the defining of the parameters of the assignment.
In making a story with digital media, the story board needs to be used as an integral part of the process. I am sure that many of the mishaps with the peripheral devices could have been avoided if the students went in with a greater sense of purpose with them.
I will definintely take my own advice on this when building the documents and lessons for my final assessment. Thanks, Matt.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teachers ensuring Good Learning

I see this as the course's BIG question. How can teachers in today's schools ensure that good learning is happening in the classroom.

Lots of answers surface with this question, and certainly the picture would not be complete without the inclusion - if not the center-piece of, yes, technology. A productive learning community, has many facets and never before have teachers needed to be practicing what they preach about life long learning and intellectual risk-taking.

However, while technology tightens its grip on the keys to learning, it in-and-of itself is not the answer.

Now while I cannot claim even double digit tenyer in the profession, there are some old addages that work in the classroom just as well as they do in the lunch room, or the family room, or the bar.

One such example is the idea that I always try to hold on to of "meeting people where they are". When applied to learning at ISB, it can direct assignments, interventions, and open new possibilities.

Not all students are going to be great at reading. Not all students are going to be great at math. And not all students are going to be challenged by even some of the more demanding computer assignments. But if we can meet them where they are, at least we will know what they can do, and what they are capable of.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lap Top Management (AKA Effective use of the 'MicroComputer' in the Classroom)

I just saw four groups of seventh graders back to back (to back to back). The purpose of each class was to be a work period where all students could work toward their final semester's end project and ask clarifying questions.
In each class, the computer was used for word processing, and for graphic design features.
Some of the recommendations from the class discussions most definitely surfaced in the course of these 45 minute blocks of time. In the wiki artcle "Classroom Management" the idea of gaining and refocusing attention is brought up. Lowering the laptop screan to me is as close to an industry standard as there is. Students can do it, and they are accustomed to the request.
What I find to be the challenge, and having shared my classroom with other teachers, I know I am not alone in this; is the management of the carts. Too often the studnets do not put the computer in the right place or in the right cart or the carts end up not gettign plugged in when they reach the next class room or storage room. What ends up happening is the next group of students ends up not being able to work through the period without running out of battery power.
Assigning moniters ahead of time works well, but ultimately the responsibility ends up back with the teacher.
Hardware or software? Which one do we spend our time worrying about more? Which should we spend our teaching time focusing on?
Without the hardware, there is no software...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Medium is the Message

These are the immortal words of Marshall McLuhan (recently quoted by Jim Fitzgerald)that just seem to surface over and over and over again through the course.
This is of course McLuhan's most famous and enduring quote, but another idea put forward by the famed 1960's media analyst also has profound relevance these 50-some-odd-years later.
McLuhan put forward the theory of the extension of man. He sees the human desire to extend itself in bigger, faster, better ways. In that, he proposes, the hammer is an extension of the fist, and the car is an extension of the feet, humans are able to promote their autonomy over the world - a basic human desire. He continues to describe the idea of the over-extension. The car in its overuse has brought about massive social problems in North America. From what was intended to be a device of increased mobility has resulted in record instances of obesity.
How does this play out when paired off against the idea that computers are an extension of the brain? When used effectivley, they undoubtedly extend human intellectual capabilities. What then is the result of computer overuse? I think the answer for the next generation of computer natives is akin to the obesity result in the car example.