Friday, June 8, 2012

Using technology to remind students of homework

I have been dealing with a class that tends to forget homework. Over the last few weeks, I have bribed them with acculating rewards (soda, donuts, pizza, BBQ) for the last day if there is 100% homework completion. They have gotten close, but so far there have been no perfect days.

I talked with one student on why she had not been doing her homework. I also asked where she wrote her reminders down. She said she kept that in her phone, but forgets to check it. (gasp!) So I went over it adn showed her how to enter it into her phone, which happened to be an iPhone, in a way that it would remind her over the weekend.

This is not a new idea. Schools are also making it easy to share homework assignments online. But I found it takes the extra step of showing the students how to maximize their devices.

Then, I had an even better idea. It may not be original, but I thought it up by myself. In my class, I am going to set up a Google Calendar that I can invite students to view to supliment any assignments I say in class. The benefit of this is I can easily set reminders so that it pops up on a student's computer or smartphone. Though it may sound complicated, setting up a Google calendar and programming the steps in are easy processes. Despite the ease, it is a reliable, high-tech way to remind students of their assignments.

(Pics to come)

Monday, May 21, 2012

More of my student's C&P art

Reflection: OUSD visit

(this is something I had in my notes that I had yet to post in my blog.)

This was an exciting visit. The potential to give every student an iPad is exciting. The provide a means of "instant" engagement. Listening to the educators story of how they developed their plan and put it before the board/district gave me hope as a future educator that I would be able to do something like this. I am sure it would require a great deal of work, but it is nice to know something like this can be done.

What I saw in the biology and chemistry classroom at OHS seemed to scratch the surface of the potential of the devices. The hook-up with Moodle is advanced beyond a "traditional" class, but what they were doing could be done on any device or computer. It is still a valuable option, but I would like to see things taken further.

One thing I discussed with Anne Rene was enabling the camera option on the devices so the students can make their own videos and presentations versus a lab write-up. I am sure with more time I could come up with more ideas, this is just the first thing that came to mind.

I tried to think of ways I could maximize the use of these devices in my English class. I kept getting stuck on ideas that could also be done with a computer or even paper. My thoughts behind this investment is that it should be done in a way that fully utilizes the unique device. This reminded me that as technically advanced I consider myself, I am still stuck in the traditional lesson and assessment ideas I have grown up with.

Response: Learning in New Media Environments

This video filled me with hope and frustration. Everything Mike Wesch said was logical and exciting, so it left me wondering why more of this stuff is not being done in classrooms. And as I thought about it, I was having a difficult time things of ways to seamlessly blend new media in schools. Most of the stuff I have done is overt and done by the traditional approach to teaching.

Aside from that, I wonder, if I was clever enough to develop a "sprawling," all-encompassing plan such as his, would I have the ability to implement it. Despite the willingness of many individuals to improve education, there are so many pieces in the system that resist change. I do not want to get away from the main idea of the video and go off on a tangent about the "power of one," but it was a concern I had while watching the video.

This video affirmed one thing I have held true for a while. This is the most stimulating period in all of human history, and as teacher, I cannot fight that. I should be meeting students interest and use potential of media and tech to engage students in a way that I "trick" them into learning. I am reminded I have work to do and more to learn, but I should carry on my desire to inspire critical thinking and problem solving.

Response: Are grades necessary?

The ideas I got from Pink are very idealistic. This does not mean I disagree with them, but I shudder because I know it would be a lot of work to implement the ideas he states. It requires a shift from some of the fundamental teaching practices, and though I try to be open minded, it is difficult to see them implemented.
I applaud his call for creativity, but as Pink states, that cannot be graded. So there lies a dilema: can a teacher grade somethings (traditional class work) and not others? I keep getting caught up in circular logic that I may not convey clearly. It is a matter of determining what is essential, what constitutes as learning, and how that is measured. Tradition class work, which I see as typical class activity geared around "depositing information" in students, can be measured by assessments. The creative work Pink calls for is more difficult to assess.
I think that their needs to be some system for monitoring progress that includes specific criteria. Otherwise, growth cannot be measured. I think this is the idea behind the standard grading system. But those numbers have been changed to a different meaning where students are ranked and labelled according to achievement. Grading has lost
Going back to the original question, I do not think grades and learning are linked. Getting an "A" does not make a person smarter, it simply shows their progress on a certain assessment. I believe in a system that measures growth toward mastery and the encouragement of creative output, but it is difficult to do so without returning to the traditional grading format.

Monday, May 14, 2012

There's this new app called "I'd Cap That"

There is this new app I have seen going around my clinical practice site. It's called "I'd Cap That" by Krisp Software. It is a unique photo app, currently only available on iOS devices, which adds a random caption to every photo a user takes. The idea is to be funny. Currently, the description for the app in the iTunes store states it "takes your every day iPhone photos and slaps a hilarious (and often crude) caption on them." It also disclaims this is for "entertainment purposes only" and it may offend people.

Aside from the grammatical mistake in that description, there is another problem to worry about with this app. iOS products are prevalent in high schools, and I have already observed a student use this app to harass another student by taking pictures and uploading embarrassing pictures with lewd comments to Facebook without the student's permission. These are great tools to have in the class, but not when they lead to cyber-bullying and harassing. (The described incident has been handled.)

So keep an eye out for this. Use it as a teachable moment for cyber-bullying, web privacy, and common courtesy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Update: Photo Project

Here are some early submissions to my photo project assignment. See last week's post for the details.