EdTech 537: My life in GIFS

So, if you aren’t familiar with GIFs (pronounced “jiffs” but I refuse to accept it), they are basically moving pictures. I LOVE them and use them in my class presentations on the regular. In addition, my class schoology page gets a new GIF with each unit. I try to make them as corny/weird as possible.

What I like most about GIFs is that they embody my reaction to something beyond what an emoji could. I like the visual aspect of GIFs and the humor they bring me. So, below you will find a compilation of GIFs that describe common feelings when at school.

 

-when you see a teacher walking by your room during their prep period

 

– when your students complain about getting homework once a week

 

 

 

– when teachers come to “borrow” one of your K-Cups

 

 

– Friday is a casual day?!?!

 

 

 

– me, when the faculty meeting is almost over and someone raises their hand to ask another question

 

– me at school, whenever anyone asks me to do anything that requires any effort

 

 

– sitting through a parent-teacher conference with “that parent”

 

 

 

– double checking that the faculty bathroom isn’t occupied

 

 

 

– trying to do the mental math for a problem before my students get it

 

 

– watching your coworkers freaking out about a change that won’t even be noticeable

 

-my reaction when students don’t do homework but ask for extra credit the last day of the marking period

 

 

 

 

-when I think I’m caught up on grading

 

 

 

 

 

-student: “Wait. The instructions are written in the lab handout?”

 

 

 

– when your worst class of the day is last period and you’re waiting for the bell to ring

 

 

 

-“It’s hot in here”

 

 

 

– when the network goes down

 

 

Hope you enjoyed!

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EdTech 537: The August Blues

I would like to address something that I think everyone is vehemently aware of during the month of August: back to school. Even if you aren’t a teacher or a student, you know that August means back to school. For some, it’s great: as a kid, I loved going back to school because I got to see all my friends again. For others, it stinks: my enthusiasm for back to school has *somewhat* diminished. And by somewhat, I mean I’m in total denial that I start school in 11 days.

So, it’s obvious that even if you aren’t pumped for going back to school, tough luck. It’s coming, whether you’re ready or not. So here are some of the things that I do to make my back-to-school transition easier.

  1. Use Google Keep- I would say that I have a jotted down to-do list that changes at least 3 times a day. When I go back to school, I use Google Keep to remember things like meeting notes, new passwords, reminders, to-do lists, prep materials, etc. I love that I can color code my keep notes and add various things (check boxes, pictures, drawings, voice, etc.); when I write things on actual sticky notes, I lose them or put them somewhere I can’t find. With Google Keep, I can add notes on my computer as well as my phone and it stays updated live. I love it.
  2. Use Google Forms to collect parent contact info- When we have back to school night, I use Google Forms to collect all the information that I want from the parents of my students. Sometimes, our school’s contact information isn’t up-to-date, so collecting contact info at the time of parent-teacher night is important to me. Google Forms keeps everything organized for me, so it requires no work other than creating the form.
  3. Try something new- Every year, I try something completely new to get to know my students. I think trying new things helps me to find different and better ways to learn about my students and have fun. The best ideas I find are from Pinterest; I always check there when I’m looking for fun and creative ideas!
  4. Get ready for the next day- Both at school and at home, I try to prepare for the next day in advance. At school, I will try to have my boards set up, my materials created/copied/shared, and my labs set up. If I leave those sorts of things until morning, I stress out. Instead, I leave that time to take care of things like checking my mailbox, having meetings, grading papers, etc. At home, I pack my lunch, set out my clothes, and pack all my school bags the night before. It helps me making my mornings smoother.

I would love to hear about some of the ways that you (if you have summers off) transition to back to school!

Have a good one!

EdTech 537: Poll Post

I would love to get your feedback on this topic. It’s one that has racked my brain for at least a year, and I can never seem to make up my mind.

I have used both Google Classroom and Schoology in my classrooms, but I’m not sure that either are the best option! I’m interested to know, what is your preferred way to organize class materials for your students!

My school is pretty divided between using classroom and using schoology- I’m curious to see how others respond when asked!

Thanks! Have a good one!

EdTech 537: Video Post

So if this is the first time you’ve seen this video, you’re welcome.

I took a Buzzfeed quiz a few months ago about “what meme are you” and I got this video. Which makes sense.

It’s fast.

It’s overwhelming.

It’s funny.

And it’s engaging.

I LOVE THIS VIDEO!

This is called “The History of the World, I guess” and everyone I show this to says “I wish this is how they would teach school! I learned so much!”

And by the history of the world, it literally means from the start of the universe until now. Which, to think that it’s only 20 minutes, is incredible. I was enthralled as soon as I started watching it (because it’s funny), but the longer I watched, the more I loved it. And I think that students really connect to this video, and this style learning, because it fits their preferences with working in technology. It’s fast, it only focuses on something for a few minutes, it involves visuals, and it is weird. When I think of popular internet crazes that teenagers love, it also has these categories.

I have sat through countless lectures trying to take in as much information as I could, yet nothing would stick. I would have to reteach myself everything because I wasn’t able to comprehend with just listening. I needed images, written notes, and the audio to make sense of it all. In my classroom, I have to chunk materials because we have 68 minute long periods. If I didn’t, it would be an awfully long time to just sit and listen! I usually chunk my lessons into three chunks throughout the class period to optimize the attention span of my students.

So what’s tie in? Keeping your lesson short! To the point! Include visuals AND voice! Make it funny! And while this video is mostly humor, I think it speaks to how our students like to learn and how we can engage them with learning.

I hope you enjoy the video, I love it! It cracks me up every time.

Have a good one!

-Kristin

Edtech 537: Audio Post

I can remember seeing and hearing this video for the first time in my first education class of college. I was sitting in a huge room, amongst about 100 students, and we listened to Sir Ken Robinson and his perspective on education.

I can remember sitting in that room, listening to his humorous perspective, and agreeing with everything he said. If you’ve never listen to Robinson before, he is an excellent speaker. I think his TedTalks are great for upcoming teachers to see the ideology we should all come into the field with. However, I think that we, as teachers, aren’t the only ones who should be listening to Robinson and his plight for creativity in modern schools.

When I consider the lack of creativity in the classroom, I don’t think that it’s the fault of the teacher. I think that education has experienced constant ridicule from everywhere, and decisions have been made by those who have never been in a classroom. It infuriates me lawmakers, who never have spent a day teaching, make decisions about public education. However, it’s the world we’re in, so it is what it is.

But, I wish that others could watch, or even just listen, to Sir Ken Robinson. Creativity is going by the wayside while standardized test taking is becoming the norm. Students don’t have the opportunity to explore their interests and take part in learning they enjoy because they’re bombarded with tests. Like Ken, I think that we focus too much on scores and less on individual student needs. We have a poster at school that says “adults that are creative are the ones that survived childhood.” Our current model of education is not focused on the student or their well being, but how well they can take a test. I hope that someday, Robinson’s words will become more widespread and people will start to embrace individual creativity and abilities.

Thanks, have a good one!

-Kristin

EdTech 537: Image Post- Things are STEAMy

I am a product of the high school marching band, early morning jazz band practice, and solos at holiday concerts. Like many of my friends, I participated in a variety of music based activities. I also had many friends who filled their schedules with art classes. And, luckily for us, we were all in the same Honors/AP English classes throughout middle school, high school, and college.

So many of my peers that were in the top 10% of the high school class participated in some form of arts. Which leads me to the theme of my post, which is a fight for STEAM in schools, moving away from the widely popular STEM initiative. As see in the infographic below (obtained from here), the arts are related to higher levels of student success in schools. Students who are deprived of arts in their education perform lower on a variety of metrics.

Education-Infographics-19

I’m a big believer in students being able to pursue their interests and take courses with which they have interest. I believe that arts should be encouraged throughout school and be more integrated as a co-curricular activity. But, I would like to see if this conversation can be sparked about how STEAM can be used in the classroom.

One way that I enjoy using STEAM in my class is through a flame-test lab. Students must photograph the flame when it is burning the distinct colors- no other data is accepted. Thus, students are given a chance to show off their artistic abilities with photography. Many of my students get very creative and remember it as their favorite lab.

What are ways that you have seen STEAM in a lesson or classroom? I would love to hear the great ideas of other teachers!

Thanks! Have a good one!

-Kristin

EdTech 537: Digital Generations

The readings for this week’s coursework were all focused around the idea of digital nativism and generational differences in technology. Many will read passing news stories online about the new generation and how they are fundamentally different from previous generation. These stories will often cite journal articles that make claims regarding the differences between the new “techy” generation. However, there really is no concrete evidence that there is a physiological difference in the brains of the new “digital native” generation versus the “digital immigrant.” The evidence that is cited in these articles is based on data that is collected through surveys and through preferences, so I think the only concrete thing that can be said is that the “digital native” generation has a preference for technology in comparison to previous generations.

The first article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, by Marc Prensky, writes an article that is an interesting and fast read, but contains little substance with regard to evidence to make his claim. According to Prensky, environment shapes the physiology of the brain and causes the brains of digital natives to be different than those whose brains have not been exposed at that level. His claim is based off of research done by Dr. Bruce D. Perry; however, that research was on traumatic events causing brain restructuring, not the influence of technology or other stimuli. While I think what Prensky writes about could be true and might be great to hypothesize,  it is invalid to make these claims without evidence to back them up. I think that this article is more an opinion that is formed from what can be seen between behavioral differences between generations regarding technology. While younger people may seem more at-ease with technology, that doesn’t mean that their  brains have adapted to this stimulus. One thing that I appreciated about his article, coming from a teacher’s perspective, is the idea of legacy and future courses. I like the idea of balancing both types of learning because there is importance in learning classics (Algebra, World Cultures, etc.) to build the foundation for learning the “future” in things such as technology and current events.

In the second resource, Digital Nativism, an article by Jamie McKenzie, the idea of digital native vs immigrant is confronted. McKenzie first points out the errors in Prensky’s article discussed above, bringing to light the lack of evidence for his claims and his ignorance to other studies refuting his claim. In addition to this, McKenzie also brings to light the questionable nature of quoting Dr. Perry in the article, describing that he studies traumatic brain incidences and not technology use on the brain. She also discusses the use of sometimes insulting wording when describing “digital immigrants,” often described as not being fun and being resistant to change. While this is unfair, it is also without base (like the rest of Prensky’s article). I think that reading McKenzie’s article following Pensky’s allows the reader to critically think about the topic. As McKenzie discusses, Pensky’s views are simple-minded and easy to connect with so many will take it as the truth; however, simple-minded doesn’t mean correct, and McKenzie does an excellent job of debunking the unbased claims in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. 

The third article was, in my opinion, the best to read of the three because it was informational and looked at both sides of this discussion. To me, it seemed the least opinionated and the most fact-based. This particular publication, Do Generational Differences Matter in Instructional Design, the author (Prof. Thomas Reeves) looks at the topics discussed in the previous articles and seeks to answer a variety of questions regarding technology use in instruction. This literature review seeks to determine whether or not instructional design practices should be changed based on research conducted regarding the newer generations (Net Generation). I think what is interesting about Reeves’s review is that extensive research is presented in a very objective way. While Net Gen’ers might prefer to utilize technology in their learnings, there is no determination from current research that instruction should be changed to reflect these preferences. There is no empirical evidence stating that learning occurs differently for Net Gen’s or that instruction should be changed for future generations. However, Reeves does bring up that there are many areas for potential research in this field to uncover more about technology and it’s effect of the brain.

Overall, I found this week’s articles to be extremely helpful in deciphering the facts from fiction regarding technology and learning. As I discussed earlier, the common understanding is that younger people learn better with technology; however, this claim is not based on research or evidence. Instead, it is an empty assumption. While people may have preferences for their learning, there is no necessity to cater learning for specific audiences based on age. I think of the three articles, Reeves wrote the best review for meandering through this topic and making sense of the literature that is out there and the literature that is valid.

 

-Have a good one!

Kristin

 

 

 

EdTech 537: Guest Blog Post

The following is written by my mom, a recently retired teacher of 30+ years in education. I told her that she could write about “anything in education,” so the following is her view of how education has changed over her career.

Having recently retired from teaching, I often reflect on my years, always being cognizant of the reasons why I left a bit before my time.  I began teaching in 1985 in a rural high school close to home.  The demographics of the school were typical for that time and place.  I finished my career in a suburban school district with a very diverse student body.  The main difference in my experiences were pertaining to the demands that schools are now placing on teachers.

Over my thirty one years of teaching I saw so many changes.  Many of those changes weren’t for the better.  I can remember when I actually was able to eat lunch somewhere other than my desk.  I remember having time to play poker and socialize in the faculty room at lunch, because I actually had more than twenty minutes to eat. I remember being able to attend a short faculty meeting about once every month or two,  as opposed to having a one hour long faculty meeting and one hour long department each month. I remember having one or two parent conferences per year/per student.  I ended my career with having parent conferences three times per year in evenings and losing my planning periods at least once or twice per week to accommodate them.  If I felt that those conferences yielded any better results, I wouldn’t have minded them.  It seemed that parents were so much more quick to criticize and much less willing to participate in their child’s education.

I remember being able to teach what I felt my students needed, not being pressured to teach a myriad of skills that will be seen on state tests. I remember when parents provided breakfast for their children, and sometimes even lunch.  I remember when the school district provided tissues, and I didn’t have to ask parents to send them to school to supplement the many boxes that I already purchased.

Most of all, I remember being appreciated.  I was happy and proud to be a teacher.  I believed that government officials respected my skills and valued my knowledge about education.  That, I’m afraid, is no longer the case.  I recently felt berated as a professional as budgets were cut and I was constantly reminded that I only worked nine months of the year and I had a wonderful pension.  If I wouldn’t have been paid so much or had such good health insurance, there wouldn’t be a budget problem.  

So, I retired.  I hope that those entering the field of education are able to find the same joy that I felt years ago.  I hope that they feel valued and appreciated.  Most of all, I hope that they can have the same tenacity to stick in this career for some years.  Our children need them.

-Thanks for reading, everyone!

World War Z: Teaching Generation Z Students (EDTECH 537 Commentary Post)

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“Back in my day…”

“Kids these days…”

“I wish students had the same work ethic as they used to….”

ENOUGH!

I think on a pretty regular basis, I hear someone complaining about how students do this or don’t do this, how they aren’t like they used to be, how they’re lazy, etc. And to be honest, it really grinds my gears. I think that the generation we are teaching now, generation z, is THE COOLEST generation to come since the millennials (ahem, me). And why, you may ask? Well luckily, I found a superb infographic from http://www.visualcapitalist.com/generation-z-marketings-next-big-audience/  that describes the typical traits of a generation z individual.

Generation Z: Marketing's Next Big Audience

So after looking over all this information, the biggest take-home messages for me were that generation z-ers are visual, focused on the future, and driven for success. But I think the most important aspect of this infographic comes as the very end with the “Marketing Beyond Millennials” section. I think that many times education can sort of be like marketing: your goal is to get someone to understand something about a product (or a topic of study) and make that message memorable. We, as teachers, cannot expect to sell our course content with old marketing techniques. Giving students a textbook assignment will immediately illicit groans of despair in a classroom: giving students a current event article about something that is relevant and utilizing an online discussion will illicit excitement and curiosity.

I think the biggest mistake that we can make, as teachers, is to expect students to be the same year after year. The climate in which students were raised is dynamic and constantly changing- so why do educators expect our students to be exactly the same for 35 years of a career? It is simply not practical. Instead of focusing on what our students can’t do, we should be focusing on the great and unique things that the can do.

 

To Re-Test or Not to Re-Test: That is the Question (EDTECH537 Discussion)

Nearly all adults have gone through the standard driving exam. You check your mirrors, you use your turn signals, and you follow the road signs on your driving test. But alas comes the pesky parallel parking, and you run over the cone.

FAIL.

So what do you do as soon as you get home from the worst day of your young-adult life? You reschedule the exam to take it again. Do you practice parallel parking before then to ensure you pass on your second try? Probably!

What about your SAT test. Did you have a stellar showing of your intelligence on the first try? Or did you try taking it again to see if you could improve with studying and practice?

We have a population of adults who are rarely assessed without opportunity for remediation. From standardized tests to GREs and MCATs to drivers tests and workplace examinations, nearly all assessments adults are faced with allow for re-tests. Then why is it that our education system is archaically focused on a one-shot opportunity to showcase what students know?

Whether you allow for test remediation, corrections, 1:1 meetings to go over the test, or re-tests, allowing students to improve their performance lies at the root goal of education. The main purpose of education is for students to learn: if they bomb the only chance they have of showing what they know, is it really that probable that they will go over the material again? I say no. Students, at least K-12, rarely have the forsight to see the importance of learning the material they have in class. Their brains don’t tell them “Hey Billy, pay attention to percentages in math. They’ll help you when you deal with money in your adulthood” because Billy has no concept of what he’ll need to be an adult!

So for me, I am a proponent of retesting, remediation, etc. because I believe that learning shouldn’t stop when the test has been taken. Students can always improve their understanding, so we as teachers should give them a chance to improve their grade. The point is to learn, so let’s promote that!

PS: I was inspired to start this discussion by Alice Keeler and a recent twitter-discussion she had regarding testing. I am a HUGE FAN and excited to take part in this dialogue!