Archive for November, 2009

Final Project Progress

November 12, 2009

So I’ve been putting a lot of work into this wiki lately and I’m actually really proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I wasn’t sandbagging at the start of this semester – I truly was technologically inept. It’s satisfying to look at this resource and know that 3 months ago I was pretty much ignorant of everything technological other than email, Microsoft Word and a bare bones PowerPoint. Over the past month or two I’ve constructed a website, created a calendar, embedded video, linked to a number of different sites, etc. I’ve found I’ve been very particular about this project. I never would have thought that I’d be worried about ensuring the headings all appear in the same font or that the music videos would be put in the order we study them in class. It has been a lot of work but I’ve dove in and I’m happy with the results.

Now for the background. I chose to switch to this project as I seem to constantly have a large number of students sick or away from class for tournaments, family trips or any number of other reasons and I’ve started to grow tired of frequently being asked to provide homework, worksheets,  etc.   I think this will be an outstanding tool to help students gain some independence and provide parents with more of an insight into what their child has been doing in my class. I may or may not have stretched the truth from time to time as a teenager myself, but now that parents can access due dates, resources, rubrics, etc., the ball is 100% in the students’ court.

Response to Bud the Teacher

November 11, 2009

EC&I 831 –Response to Bud the Teacher

This post was absolutely awesome.  I couldn’t agree more with his position and the rationale that he uses to back it up.  I loved his quote that states, “Students off task is not a technology problem – it’s a behavior problem”.  To me, this is completely obvious.  I would have been one of the students sitting in the back of the class trying to figure out any possible way to sidestep the safeguards simply as a means of personal amusement at a stodgy teacher’s expense.

At the risk of sharing too much information about my potentially delinquent high school past, I can remember when I was in high school and Discmans had just come out and were the latest craze.  Those who know me may agree that from time to time I can have attention issues, and in high school there were certain classes that caused this affliction to flare up more than others (how’s THAT for a smooth way of putting it?).

Music has always helped me concentrate and realizing that it was getting me nowhere to be the smart arse, I decided I’d listen to my Discman during the part of class designated for completing the assigned work.  For possibly the first time all semester, I was on task, getting my work done and not distracting others around me.  Rather than receiving praise for turning my attitude around, I had my Discman taken away from me for the remainder of the period as this was apparently not an appropriate venue to use such technology.  When I questioned Mrs. L as to why I couldn’t use this device if all of the lecturing had been completed and I was working on the assigned material, she had no response and simply informed me that she would be keeping my Discman for the rest of the week to teach me a few manners.

I couldn’t have been much older than 14 and I may not have been quite as eloquent as I am today, but I realized then and there that to this teacher, school was simply a means of socialization, not education.  I can’t say I learned whatever life skill Mrs. L may have been trying to instill in me that particular day, but I can say that I made her life a living hell for the remainder of the week that she kept my Discman and possibly the rest of the semester as well.  Oops.

This situation could have been used as a teachable moment to inform me of the etiquette of using such a tool.  If I had been off task and listening to music when I should have been paying attention to the content being presented in class, obviously my behavior would have needed to be corrected.  But to punish a student for taking the initiative to find a means to stay on track doesn’t make much sense to me.

This is the same way that I view the Facebook “pandemic” facing our schools today.  There are neon signs in our computer labs saying that Facebook, Youtube and gaming sites are not to be accessed on school computers.  Why?  Obviously if a student is changing his or her status or looking up the latest UFC knockouts when they should be listening to my ever-exciting spiel about how to conjugate verbs in the imparfait, action should be taken as this is an inappropriate use of instructional time.  But if students can use these tools as a means of accessing information that makes sense to them in a way that I can’t provide, or if a student simply has an interest in a certain area that may not be covered in a school curriculum and isn’t offensive in nature (I won’t get into that one after our class last night!), shouldn’t we foster this lust for knowledge?