Monday, September 26, 2011

CEDO Week 5: Similarities & Diferences, Homework & Practice, and Generating & Testing Hypothesis

Identifying Similarities & Differences:

I think this is one strategy that a lot of teachers use regularly but not with a systematic or conscious effort and plan or with produced student work that can be used for later analysis and synthesis.

Homework & Practice:

According to US Census Bureau statistics from 2007, in-home Internet use for the USA is somewhere around 61% and use anywhere is around 71%. This means that there is a high probability that some of our students still are not connected at home and may or may not have the ability to use publicly available computers such as at the library. While there is a plethora of ways to use technology for homework and practice - in school - , we need to still think about not requiring any “homework” to be done on the Internet unless everyone involved has access.

Generating & Testing  Hypothesis:

Like identifying similarities and differences, this strategy seems to be one that teachers use regularly without knowing it such as asking a question during a discussion like, "What do you think would happen if ....". However, I can see the benefits of including activities specifically addressing an issue or problem. In my own thinking, creating a lesson or project geared towards Generating & Testing a Hypothesis at first seems very academic and scholarly and best left for an expert who knows about these things. But after looking at some of items in the book and brainstorming on my own I can see how a planned activity can be beneficial.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CEDO 525 Week 4: Collaboration & Effort

Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. Collaboration

Clay discusses the mechanisms and ramifications of institutionalized vs. collaborative work.

As I was watching this talk I kept thinking about the institution of education and wondered, will this institution dissolve in the future? I think it already is starting to. Many school institutions are under criticism for under-performance and the calls for change are loud. Home schooling, online learning and virtual schools I think are a beginning to an answer. Though all of these are still very institutionalized, it is but just a step towards collaboration and cooperation. This institutionalized step is necessary for the transformation because it will take a couple of generations for people to become habitualized to this format of learning (or about 50 years as Clay mentioned). It will also take this long to put into place the mechanisms, tools and resources necessary for education to become non-institutional. Will it be more effective? ??? Will institutionalized education disappear? Probably not but the choice will be there. Are we participating in this transformation right now. I believe we are, by the fact that we are enrolled in this program and that we will be promoting the use of technology for learning.

Cooperative Learning & Reinforcing Effort:

As I discussed with my group last week and posted remarks about cooperative learning, I used this extensively with my ESL conversation teaching in Taiwan. Some of the most fun and effective activities were extended role plays. First the situation and the problem is discussed. Roles are assigned. Students with the same roles are grouped together first to discuss their role and possible things they might have to say or do. When groups of same roles are ready then groups are put together for run-throughs of the role play. I can see how this could be adapted to cooperative/collaborative learning projects in K-12. Having students with same roles get together collaborating and sharing ideas can benefit individual groups/teams. Of course this work can be done using technology as well.

As for reinforcing effort. Throw me in the cell and lock me up. It’s something I need to work on more.

Wild Ride: Intel Roller Coaster Curriculum

I’d love to be part of a project like this. However, it looks like something like this would take a lot of coordinated effort and planning with a school and teachers that know each other well and can work together.
On a related note, I and two other dads are starting up a First Lego League club at my son's school. We won't be competing this year but rather learning about FLL, how to build and program the Lego Mindstorms robots. It should be fun.

Links to Online Roller Coaster activities:

Monday, September 12, 2011

CEDO 525 Week 3:

Online Mind Mapping Review:
I reviewed the following 3 Mind Mapping apps from the course list but as I found all of these lacking in one way or another, I did some other searching as well.
  • MindMeister
  • CMAP

Available for Chrome Browser/App Integration from: (some can be used in other browsers outside of Chrome/Google account)
  • Concept Board
  • MindMapr
  • Mind 42
  • Connected Mind (
Pros: Very simple to use, can have more than one central idea, can connect bubbles to desperate other bubbles, can create a map without an account and print (but not save)
Cons: only text entry - no images, collaboration only with other members, free account limited to 3 maps
Best Use: Simple text/URL only maps and webs if you need more than one central idea.

Pros: Can create very polished design, add multiple different media types, signing up for an account after being invited to collaborate is very simple, can sign up for account with various OpenID’s
Cons: free account limited to 3 maps and basic features
Best Use: Creating nice looking media rich maps. Middle school/High school use for advanced features. Pay for premium for more features.

Pros: It was hard to tell?? Non-linear concept webbing. It may very well be a good program but see the cons.
Cons: The home page and navigation using an example of itself was hard to look at and understand what you could do with it - a very cluttered and confusing example violating one of the basic tenents of website user design: make your site so that people can easily and quickly find and navigate to the information they want. It took me a long time to find out that this is a client/server program that must be installed. I could not find any provided demo to try it out (perhaps it is there but camouflaged in the thicket of snippits buried amongst it’s broken sentences and multiple links to more snippits).
Best Use: If you need to create a complex concept web and have IT infrastructure to support its implementation.

Concept Board not strictly a mind mapping app but can be used as one.
Pros: Doesn’t require Chrome to use, can invite collaborators who can collaborate as guests without an account, has discussion/comment boxes that keep track of who added comments, can import .pdf, MS & OO documents and images, participants may take control and present information while others follow as read only, great for collaborating and discussion.
Cons: If you want a mind map, you need to manually add and connect everything, cannot add any other media types or links.
Best Use: Collaborate, comment & discuss ideas - import advanced organizer docs to comment on.

Pros: Very easy and quick to use for basic mapping and ideas
Cons: No collaboration, no additional media, only save to local disk.
Best Use: For a quick, easy and simple map. Great for younger kids because of its simplicity.

Mind 42 Very-very similar to Mindmeister
Pros: Collaborative, free (unlimited?)
Cons: can’t change the background color like in Mindmeister.
Best Use:

Connected Mind
Pros: A more free and distinctive graphic design of maps /webs.
Cons: no collaboration, tricky getting used to drawing the branches in the freeform style.
Best Use: For those desiring a more free looking design to a map/web

***Editor’s Pick For Education***
MindMapr: for elementary students
Mind 42: for middle school & high school
Concept Board: for collaboration & discussion

Learning Topics:
Once again I am frustrated that I cannot yet begin using any of thee wonderful tools and strategies. I hopefully will be soon because I’m still working at my old school but on administrative thing at the moment and our computers/network/Internet are not set up yet but I’m doing my best to move all of that along. When the crazy rush of the first month of school is over and we’re set up, I hope to be able to start training our teachers in all of this stuff.

Cues, Questions and Advance Organizers
This is something I’ve never really done and hope to get a chance using it. I think I’ll be trying it as I train our teachers in using technology.

Non-Linguistic Representation
Love it. Used it all the time teaching ESL. Will try to promote it’s use more with the teachers I work with.

Summarizing & Notetaking
I tried a couple of years ago to teach some mdidle schoolers about note-taking but not with a lot of sucess. I really like the the subtractive method mentioned in the book where students work on a text, strategically whittling it down until the bare bones necessities remain. I’d like to try this. I’ve done something similar but in the opposite direction teaching reading to ESL students. I take a reading and black out all the non-essentials and just leaving the parts/phrases that I know they will understand. Too often struggling readers are daunted by trying to read something that contains a lot of stuff they don’t understand. By reducing the reading to a minimum that contains essential information, I show them that they can understand the main ideas. I then show them how to block out/ignore the things they don’t understand with the whole text. Then I teach them how to guess about what some of the words might mean such as a word preceding a noun is very often an adjective. Don’t worry about it’s meaning this time. Just remember that it’s an adjective. If you see this word a few more times, then look it up. So, this summarizing/note-taking strategy I guess is a bit like this in reverse.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CEDO 525 Week 2: Objectives, Feedback & recognition

Feedback that Fits ( ):

Giving feedback about the quality of work or process was what I thought most relevant combined with the feedback being related to the goals of the lesson/activity. Having feedback about positive things is also important. I think a lot of teachers focus on what is wrong with something and not on what is right.

Setting Objectives, Providing Feedback and Providing Recognition:
I’ll be the first to admit that my lesson planning and classroom strategies for teaching in schools in America need some work. My past experience teaching was mostly teaching 8 week ESL conversation courses in Taiwan. There was no formal assessment and homework was not mandatory but mostly in preview and preparation for the next class. At the end of the course we would informally evaluate students ability and performance and judge whether or not they were ready for the next level. There were no grades given, just advance or retake the same level. Yes, we set objectives for individual classes and activities and gave verbal feedback throughout the class. All-in-all, teaching ESL conversation in a relaxed, informal environment in Taiwan is a very different animal than teaching K-12 in the USA.

I look back now on the computer lessons I taught in the past few years to high school students and realize that I need to rethink how I plan and prepare. Just taking courses for this program I can see how valuable the objectives and rubrics are for each course and assignment. I know what is expected and what I have to do. I f I do any teaching this year (my future is still up in the air) I’ll be taking these matters to my planning for sure.

Giving appropriate feedback is also something I need to work on and it follows from the objectives that are set. I feel that there isn’t very much feedback on our work given in this program as a whole. One instructor made a point to comment on our blog occasionally and also wanted to be included in our first team discussion just to check in but that has been just about all of the feedback we’ve been given.

On providing recognition I have been guilty of providing little or none to my students. I know thi is another thing I need to work on.

Future Thoughts:

I’m still working at my old school part time. I’ll be training whoever to do all the clerical and administrative tasks I’ve been doing the past few years. I’ll also be in charge of the technology as soon as it gets up and running as we’ve moved into a new building and the internet & network haven’t been set up yet. I’m hoping I can begin training the teachers to start implementing some of these ideas, perhaps one by one, training them to use a few select tools to get them used to using technology and computers in their teaching and learning. I have no problem seeing how the example technology tools can be effective. I just don't have the ability to implement them as of yet.

Free Idea for You:Students who Need Spelling Help

My 2nd grade son keeps asking me how to spell words. I directed him to either Google search or Google translate (set English to English). The new voice search lets you speak a word or short phrase and bingo, it pops up with the (mostly) correct spelling. The only problem is that f using the computer to write, it is too easy to cut and paste but it works pretty well. I’d like to see a similar function that returns the word/sentence as a graphic (like a captcha) so that if using the computer, students would have to type it in manually, thus getting spelling practice as well.