Monday, June 25, 2012

Student Homework 6/26/2012 (EXAMPLE)

(Note: Example as part of Prof. Hale's Final Teaching Project)

Dear students, please read the following articles and leave a comment/response on this blog entry.

1) Super Colossal Asteroid Buzzes Earth, Says NASA

2) The End is Nigh...for Asteroid Disaster Movies, Anyway

  • Think about what we've learned in class about how gravitational attraction acts upon two separate objects in space (i.e.- Bill Nye and the Online Orbital Simulator)
  • Remember the grading rubric! 
  • We will be discussing both articles at the beginning of class tomorrow. :)

See you tomorrow! 

-Ms. Sheehan 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Screencasts Assignment

1. Tutorial

2. MakeUpAlley Review / Tutorial

3. Dragon Age Origins Unlimited Gold Tutorial (NEVER coming soon)

So, the story with the Unlimited Gold tutorial: After four hours of fiddling with it, never came to fruition. Screencast-o-matic is not friends with gaming screens. Instead of recording the game, the screen recording becomes pixelated and indistinguishable. I tried to upload the 'failed' recording, and it stops encoding at about 19%.

While I don't have time to do a different third tutorial, I still see this as a valuable lesson learned. Screencast-o-matic is not good for highly-detailed BioWare games. The end. Now I really need to take an aspirin...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flipping the Classroom Responses

1) Article: Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom

In addition to reading this article, I also skimmed through some of the user comments and this link, which gives an overview of what a 'flipped classroom' is. I understand why a lot of people get nervous about this new model, and why some people seem abhorrently against allowing computers to 'take over' the classroom. We've been using blackboards and pencils for decades, and such a radical change to digital information distribution will not be taken lightly by the majority of educators. Many are concerned that the teacher will become fully obsolete, others muse that the flipped classroom is technology for the sake of technology. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who see the Flipped Classroom as the greatest invention since the white board.

I am more on the positive side. This is because I believe the essence of teaching methods will not change, even if the vehicle for those methods evolve. I think effective teachers have always been both 'a guide on the side' and a 'sage on the stage'...this reflects Prof. Ruby's "I do, we do, you do" practice. This same guideline can be followed in technological instruction. As I understand it, video lessons like those from Khan Academy demonstrate the material/concepts/skills ("I do"), then assist the student in working through problems ("We do"). This is in collaboration with the classroom teacher, ensuring that the guided practice provides live and immediate feedback (still "We do"), eventually allowing the student to work independently ("You do"). Even if there is less of a role for the teacher in the 'I do' portion, the negative impacts would likely be minimal, as the teacher is still the major player in active guidance ('we do', 'you do'), in my opinion the most significant parts of instruction. Teachers can also take on the 'I do' portions as needed, for students needing extra help. As you can see, the role of the teacher is not diminished, only facilitated.

2) Five Future Technologies That Will Shape Our Classrooms

One commenter on this article scoffed at the idea that these futuristic technologies, even though there are already prototypes, will find their way into the mainstream classroom anytime soon. I somewhat agree; it's like the difference between a hover car (which has been around for many years already) and an actual flying car for mainstream transportation. Or the difference between being able to choose the sex of your baby (already possible) and the personality or athleticism. There are simply too many variables and it would take hundreds more years (tens more years?) before these types of technologies become a reality.

Even if such innovations were invented, there is also a difference between being invented and being used mainstream. For example, the electric car still hasn't quite caught on, or even Kinect video games, the technology that the holographic desk is based off of. This is because there are still inconvenient kinks to work out. The electric car can't go beyond 100 miles from home. Kinect can be finicky at the best of times.

It is true, however, that in 10, 20, or 50 years there will be mainstream technologies that the average citizen couldn't have dreamed of in their most imaginative moments. I never thought that Facebook or the IPhone would work as well as they do, or have as great of an impact as they do. Perhaps the holodesk WILL become 'the next big thing'...perhaps flying cars will become a reality in one hundred more years.

What will remain constant is that it is impossible to fathom what will and won't be invented, and what will and won't be popular, no matter the technology we have on our hands. There are no statistical programs that can account for the human whim.

3) Big Thinkers: Salman Khan on Liberating the Classroom for Creativity

Most of my thoughts on this video were already covered in my review from the first article. Khan Academy, at the end of the day, is still a tool. Perhaps a useful tool, an innovative tool that will change the nature of the classroom in ten years, but it's up to the teacher to determine to what extent something like Khan Academy would advance learning in the classroom.

For example, it is the hope of founder Salman Khan that the 'lecture' portion of class would get out of the way and free up class time for independent work - the brighter students helping the slower students, and giving the teacher a greater chance for conducting creative projects and activities for students. But if the teacher fails to connect what is being performed in the classroom with the material learned from Khan's lectures at home, then learning will not be achieved. This is no different from teachers who fill their science labs with fun, hands-on activities and then fail to help the learner see the relevance or connection to key core concepts.

I would be interested to try out Khan Academy for myself for a primary review. I think it's free, and maybe I'll do so in the future as I look for ways to enhance and advance learning in my own classroom.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

TrackStar Link for Alfano's Theories Class

Click me now or you will not learn ANYTHING.

Password: tcpcg

Description: TrackStar activity for Theories class presentation (Week 2) on Module 6 (The Brain and Development)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review of Copyright TrackStar

Audience- Middle School to Adult
Year Published- 2005

1. First link didn't work! It's always disappointing when this happens, but not surprising since this TrackStar was created in 2005. I think TrackStar should have some sort of expiration date for TrackStars older than five years with detected broken links (if that's possible), so that educators looking for valuable and meaningful TrackStars won't have to sift through all the broken ones.

2. This site is sponsored by the Library of Congress, so it is a reliable source. It also makes the student look for the answers, rather than sending students to the right page automatically.

3. This link is also broken, which is too bad since the questions connected to this frame are valuable and important for anybody learning about copyright.

4. This was a very interesting article that I found useful to read myself. I like how it was updated until 2008, which meant it would have been relevant to the time when this TrackStar was first published in 2005.

5. This is a good activity for those in middle school and gives a great summary otherwise to what should have been gleaned from this TrackStar overall. I would have liked some sort of interactive activity but it still brings everything together. This TrackStar should be supplemented with some sort of follow-up activity either in class or as homework (in class would be more beneficial since it would encourage discussion about copyright).

Monday, June 4, 2012

TrackStar Activity

Title: Aeromonas Hydrophila (We be gettin' science-y up in this joint right here!)

PASSWORD: sc!ence

URL: Click on Me to head to TrackStar!

Warning: I made sure there weren't any graphic photos (or, really, photos at all), but the content nature can be a little disturbing (deals with flesh-eating bacteria), so if you're very easily queasy I'm putting a disclaimer here.

Response to 'Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning' by Alan November

Update 6/27/2012: Article Link


As my TCPCG blogging group will soon find out, I have a hard time saying things concisely. It's a by-product of being trained as a scientist - we (scientists) either write things so concisely that no one without context will understand anything being said, or we end up explaining our explanations of our explanations. That being said, my response to the November article will be systematically done for ease and clarity, since it will likely be longer than the article itself. :P

In result, feel free to respond to only a certain section.


From a writing standpoint, the 'hook' at the beginning (the anecdote) was a great opener to the article. I particularly liked the analogy that members of the older generation may be technologically literate, but 'speak with an accent', while kids are completely fluent in the language...I liked it because it was so accurate.

Starting this article, I thought I would know most of November's points about the challenges and possible dangers of technology. This is because our generation is unique in that we are old enough to remember a time when Internet and cell phones didn't exist, but yet young enough that the boom of technology did not overwhelm the majority of us and we adapted with ferocity. Therefore, we have lived through all the initial 'big' challenges of new technologies (i.e., Napster and music pirating, cyberstalking, etc.), and probably have a better grasp of the issues November talks about compared to younger or older age groups.

Framework for the New Culture
1) If it's on the Internet, is it true?

The story about the boy who told November's mother that the Holocaust did not exist was concerning to me. Not mainly because he believed the Holocaust didn't exist (though I did do a 'double-take' when I read that), but because 1) he was sixteen years old, and 2) this didn't occur at the advent of the Internet. This event supposedly happened in 2008. I would have been interested to know what region and other demographics this individual was a part of.

As November insists, these sorts of incidents are the exact reason why students should be taught how to use the Internet - how to evaluate credible sources while still maintaining the first amendment and all that jazz. And this needs to happen as early as possible in education. But students are not the only ones who need to be educated; adults (and not solely educators) are just as susceptible to online bias. I'm sure that the majority of our parents have simultaneously shot down our side of an argument, citing "not everything on the Internet is true", and then one week later say, "I saw this on the Internet, YOU MUST HEED IT." This is selective bias.

Another controversial argument between young people and some adults is the credibility of Wikipedia. I'm in the camp who asserts that as long as you never actually cite Wikipedia in a project or paper, it's completely fine to start research here, and even utilize the Additional Resources and Links sections as sources, after the usual evaluation of credibility. Some adults feel that anything on Wikipedia is suspect, and they have some validity in their argument, but the important take-home point is that we as an educational society need to come to some sort of consensus on these arguments/issues to maximize technology learning.

One final point. The Hate Directory is no longer online (or, at least, I couldn't find it). I wonder why that is?

2) Coming Attraction: Live Videocameras in Every Classroom

I believe this was a hot-button issue when the article was first published, in 2009. Today, however, I would argue that it is counterproductive to have live video feeds in every classroom, to the extent that the author implies. The author's vision is that parents would have access to these feeds on the web at any point in time, but this raises a migraine of issues.

To what extent would parents have the right to question or take action against a teacher, whether the teacher somehow violates school conduct policy, or is merely ineffective in opinion? Who would have the right to makes these judgement calls? The principal, the superintendent, the PTA? In addition, while one parent would enjoy this access, other parents may feel uncomfortable having their child be viewable on the web by potentially countless others. Even with password access, having a common password distributed to more than a dozen individuals at once increases the risk of a privacy breach.

I truly believe that the ethical and constitutional issues that would have to be sorted out is much more trouble that it's worth. I don't disagree that there will never be videocameras in every classroom...this could potentially be an important monitoring tool for teacher evaluation, but parental access is not a 'coming attraction', not anytime soon.

3) We need to tell our stories!

This reminds me of my senior thesis, which I completed last semester. It was in regards to a common science elementary curriculum...or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Historically, teachers have indeed been left in isolation, in that effective teaching methods were nearly impossible to disseminate to other educators looking for this advice. With the Internet, teachers are finally able to share their ideas, and receive those of others to improve teacher at a faster rate than was accomplished before.

4) Don't Do Technology Plans and 5) Automating versus Informating

Not much to comment on here. Technology should not be for the sake of technology, and teachers should be integrating technology in the classroom so it has a significant contribution to the learning of the class. It must have meaning. I read an article in my local newspaper that every Freshman in my high school alma mater would be receiving IPads in the upcoming year, and I had to do a double-take. I hope that teachers will receive adequate training so that these IPads won't simply become a number (a very expensive number) in the yearly education budget, that they will be integrated and not collecting dust in the corner.

5) Collegiality is what's needed

Again, this is about training (and constant feedback from co-workers, etc.) so that technology not only becomes a meaningful tool in the classroom, but also so that educators can teach students that value and challenges of technology.

It's like any other area subject; learning about the Civil War is important, sure, but it's when that unit is taken to the next level and students begin to understand the deeper issues underlying the unrest and the consequences of taking action (or inaction), then students can take away something that is transferable to real life. Students must learn to evaluate credible sources, understand privacy risks and individual rights when it comes to technology, and be able to contribute to the ongoing discussion and evaluation  of new technologies.

I wonder if November has written any follow-ups to this article. I would be interested to know how his views have changed, if at all. As I thought, most of what November said were issues I was already aware of (with the exception of the videocameras part) and had agreeing views with.