Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Video Reflection

Here is a video I created reflecting on how I am using technology to become a better educator 
and to prepare my students for the 21st century. 

Science Educational Chat

    On Monday May 7th I attempted to participate in #asechat, The Association for Science Education. I found this chat through cybraryman and I was excited to participate in this chat about science teaching since the topics of past chats were specific to the content I am teaching. But Monday’s topic was ‘How to teach electrolysis’ which is a chemistry concept that uses electricity to drive reactions, which I could really contribute too since the sentence above is really all I know about the topic. I wasn’t planning to use this chat for my reflective blog until I found the archives of past chats. This is a fantastic section where you can read through past chats in either summary form or transcripts of the chat. I started going through past chats and wanted to focus on the chat from last July where the topic was ‘What are the traits of an exemplary science teacher?’ So I wanted to focus on that topic for my blog, and I think it applies to all teachers.
     The chat focused on traits of good teachers and then specific traits of science teachers. I think that everyone would agree that some important traits for all teachers would be passion and enthusiasm. Students can pick up on this and it helps to inspire and engage. Interpersonal skills is also very important; teachers must be able to develop a good report with students as well as good communications skills for teaching and working their colleagues. Some other important skills that were discusses was classroom control and confidence. 
    Specifically for science teachers subject knowledge is very important. And not just in the subject they are teaching but they need a broad knowledge of all content areas so they can relate material or answer questions. Understanding common misconceptions about science will help teachers prevent potential problems in student learning.  The use of demos and practical activities was also discussed and the ability to break down content to an appropriate level for students.  
    I wanted to blog about this because I think these topics will help inspire all teachers, and make them think about what is important to them. Also this is a great site for science teachers to look for help in teaching specific content.

Here is the link to the site where you can find these archives:

Inspirational quotes from this chat:
“loves the sbjct takes risks, shows they don't know all the answrs(but help chn to find out more), is passionate &enthusiastic. Whew” @anhalf
“@DrF4chem Yes! Motivate, enthuse, excite, raise aspirations and results will follow” @ViciaScience


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Politics in the Classroom

    Today I participated in #edchat on twitter, the topic was politics in the classroom. My initial response to this prompt was that as a teacher you should explain and allow students to investigate both sides of an idea. Teachers have so much power that expressing your opinion may shut down students from offering theirs. It is important to teach students to thin critically by offering them facts and letting them form their own opinion. The teacher should serve as a facilitator for discussion, and by focusing on the topic or content, personal beliefs will not be the forefront of the conversation.
      After hearing others comments on this topic, I have rethought this stance. In some situations I thinks it is appropriate to share your viewpoint, especially if you explain how you arrived at it. This models metacognition and actively engages students. I don’t want to model that it is ok to be neutral; I want to discourage apathy and silence about politically charged topics. I think that creating an environment where students are free to express their opinions and teaching that its ok to disagree as long as you have a voice is the best method for facilitating discussions.
      Here are a couple of good quotes from the chat that I would like to share…
“Our job is to open minds, not close them.”
“You can be hard on issues but soft on people.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Highs and Lows

One of our professors last semester described how there are highs and lows during the credential program. Well, I am defiantly in a low. All of us in the credential program are working hard to become teachers and this program has been both challenging and rewarding. We should be focusing on techniques that work for us, figuring out what doesn’t, and learning how we can improve upon the craft we are trying to develop. But despite the best intentions of some in the program, it is still riddled with hoops to jump through for the sole purpose of making us jump.
That fact that students are required to pay large sums of money to participate in the program where they can not simultaneously work and then charge additional fees missing an small step in the instructions is very discouraging. Then to try to justify their actions by attempting to explain that there are additional administrative actions which require more fees, is a little revolting. Icing on the cake of an already frustrating semester.
I try to focus on the parts of the program that I enjoy, like working with my CT and my students, but tripping through all of the red tape and feeling like I am being taken advantage of is really starting to bother me. I’d love to hear some feedback on how the rest of you are feeling…

Monday, March 26, 2012

CP Week One Reflection

     Well, one week down. I think the first week went really well considering how unprepared I felt going into CP I. Last semester I felt like I knew the ins and outs of that classroom. From grading and testing procedures to the small details of day to day class procedures. This time around I feel like I am stumbling over these smaller parts of a classroom and it makes me feel less competent.
    But overall the lectures and partner work went well in my general biology classes, and I got to do a fun lab about natural selection, genetic drift, and the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. I loved being able to facilitate labs, you really get to mix in with the students, have more one on one discussions, and check for understanding.
    My goal for the rest of clinical practice is to incorporate more labs and simulations so that students actually have more opportunities to work with content in a hands on way. The general biology classes are so used to lecture after lecture, I hope that they would get into some alternative teaching strategies. So my plan is to work on several ideas over spring breaks and try them out when I get back.

Class Visitation Reflection

      I enjoyed observing the use of technology being integrated into science classrooms at Oceanside High School. In both the chemistry and physics classes that I observed each student had access to an ipad locked into their tables. While there were several apps available on the ipad, for chemistry in particular, the majority of the ipad use was for practicing problems. This was really great to watch. All students had the same type of problem, but all of the numbers were different. This meant that each student had to actually do their own calculations. Students at table groups were discussing the steps they take to solve the problems, what they did, why, and how they did it. Students were actually working with the concepts instead of coping down the same answer as their peers. One of the teachers had a program up that allowed him to see his student’s progress. He could see what problem they were working on, which they missed, and a red flag popped up if a student had been working on one problem for to long. This assessment was instantly available so the instructor could see which students needed help and on which specific concept.
     Obviously the use of technology to customize assessments and learning unique to this classroom. Being able to have ‘live’ data about your students understanding as a formative assessment is incredibly valuable. This will help you focus your teaching on commonly missed concepts and zero in on the students that need the most help. This should help increase student learning as well as test scores since students are able to receive help exactly when they need it.  
     It's easy to see you this would be helpful in classes like physics and math where you have a specific numerical answer. It might be harder to use in biology since where assessment questions will have a non specific or word answer. I suppose that you can make a program that allows for spelling or grammar errors but still more difficult to customize assessments. However, I would love to have students have access to all of the animations and interactive activates that are out there for biology concepts. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Disrupting Class

Chapter 1: Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently when each Student Learns Differently

1. Explain the difference between interdependence and modularity.  How is education currently organized?  

    The concept of interdependence describes a product or service that is dependent upon another component to operate correctly. All products and services have a design that determines how they interact with others, and this interaction can be described as the interface. When there is difficulty in predicting the interaction at an interface then both parts must be developed simultaneously so that both products or services will perform correctly. Items created interdependently tend to be created by autonomous organizations so they will be designed to optimize efficiency. If a piece is changed in one area, others areas must adjust accordingly.
    Products that lack unpredictable interdependencies in components have a modular design. This way all components work together regardless of the whom created the components as long as they meet the specifications. Modular components can be created by independent organizations. This allows for flexibility and customizations since components can be redesigned without altering adjacent products.
    Today’s schools are organized in an interdependent model with several different types of interdependencies. The first is a temporal interdependence, meaning that school is taught in a progressive manner and you have to build on what students were supposed to learn in previous grades. The second type is lateral in where learning in separate contents interact, for example you need a strong English grammar base in order to learn a new language. Next is physical interdependency where the physical environment inhibits the type of education you may like to do. Finally the last interdependency is hierarchal, where mandates from government, administration, or even textbook companies can inhibit education. Since there are so many areas of interface interaction customization of education for each student can be difficult.

Chapter 2: Making the Shift:  Schools meet Society’s need

2. Explain the disruptive innovation theory.  What does this have to do with schools?
    The disruptive innovation theory can explain how some organizations have difficulty with innovation and what they can do to overcome this hurdle. This is a model describing how companies create sustaining innovations at a faster pace than customers can utilize them. Industry can also create disruptive innovations that are not as good as sustaining innovations but will still be used by consumer who were not able to use the sustaining innovation.
    This theory can also be applied to public schools. Schools have been improving over time and increasing their performance, however society keeps changing the parameters by which the performance is judged. And because of the laws and regulations in place the are not any businesses to compete with new parameters. This leaves our schools to try to improve while still working within the existing organization. Historically schools have been asked to change consistently to accommodate societies needs whether it be to increase the number of schools, the breadth of the offerings, increase test scores, or increase proficiency. Each time there is a shift schools must adjust while still operating under the old paradigm.

Chapter 3: Crammed Classroom Computers

3.  Why doesn’t cramming computers in schools work?  Explain this in terms of the lessons from Rachmaninoff (what does it mean to compete against nonconsumption?)
    Adding computers to a classroom didn’t have the desired effect in schools because they were used to marginally improve the way schools are already run. The Rachmaninoff lesson describes how you can profit form a product based on nonconsumption. He sold records of symphonies and made a profit because people would pay for them when the symphony was not available. As opposed to trying to sell them in place of the real show. Adding computers to classrooms doesn’t help if there are competing resources like textbooks, lectures, or other materials to supplement the information that could be gained from the computer.  (I think that’s how they relate.)

Chapter 4: Disruptively Deploying Computers

4. Explain the pattern of disruption. 

    Disruptions tend to follow a distinct pattern.  First disruptions compete in a new area against non-consumption, but over time technology will increase and the price will decrease. Next disruption causes a steep increase where it begins to catch on more and more, and finally there is a plateaus when the disruption replaces the old model. This pattern tends to follow an s-curve where is slowly climbs as it begins to be used a sharp increase when it gets cheap enough for everyone to start using, and a slow climb or leveling off when it replaces old technology.

5. Explain the trap of monolithic instruction.  How does student-centric learning help this problem?
     The trap of monolithic instruction is that teachers group their students into batches like a factory and expect them to all come out with the same knowledge. While some student may be able to get through this type educational system, not all can. An example of this type of instruction can be seen in traditional assessments. All students are required to take the same test, then teachers decide if they should move to the next topic based on how well the group does as a whole. With student-centric learning, students benefit from more personalized instruction. The can work at their own pace and asses and move to the next concept when ready. Technology can help make this possible for al students so than they can move at a comfortable pace with guidance form an instructor.

Chapter 5: The System for Student-Centric Learning

6. Explain public education’s commercial system.  What does it mean to say it is a value-chain business?  How does this affect student-centric learning?

   Public education is described as having a value-adding process or VAP. This means that companies input materials, somehow add value, then higher value products to their customers. Similar businesses include manufacturing, retain, and food service. In education students are put into a class, value is added as knowledge through the year, then they move to the next class. This process can be described as a value-chain business because each link in the system should add value to the student to produce a higher output at the end.
This will affect student centered learning because new technologies can be used to help add value to students. It can help to personalize education to create a deeper learning than traditional instruction. However it can also be difficult because new computers and software can be so expensive. Although according to the usual pattern of disruptions it will eventually become more readily available.