Friday, November 16, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
- The Univeristy of Richmond has a summer program for high school students based on the Transcendentalists: http://summer.richmond.edu/scholars/courses/
- History of Alum Spring Park http://www.historypoint.org/columns2.asp?column_id=1094&column_type=hpfeature
- A map:
- Walden: http://www.walden.org/
- Thoreau's journal:
- For teachers:
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
*Dr. Scott McLeod, Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE)
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Recently posted on 2 Cents Worth:
"Then I run across a comment that I was mostly impressed with. But the author, a network filter administrator, said,
'When I go through the process of adding a new Universal Resource Locator (URL) to the filter database I actually personally evaluate the site to see which of the state standards can be illustrated or in any way taught by the content of the site. If I find that none can it is immediately blocked. '
Interpreted literally, this reminds me of a comment made by a keynote speaker I recently saw at a state school boards association conference. It was a great keynote, funny, and thought provoking — in a good way. But the speaker said something that I, personally, do not agree with.
'If your second grade teacher teaches a fantastic unit on dinosaurs, but dinosaurs are not on the test, then that teacher is doing harm to your children. Anything that’s taught that’s not on the test, is doing harm to your children.'
Are the standards of instruction intended to be the extent of the instruction? The answer to that question may well be, “Yes.” But should the state define the limit of instruction? I don’t think so. Safety, I would suggest, should be the only limit to learning in our schools."
The students at my school do take standardized tests and we compare then on local and national levels to other types of schools, but our primary goal as educators is to educate, not take a test.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Today I was browsing Yahoo and noticed this article as the headline for the homepage:
"the human race will eventually split into two"
I read it and noticed that it talks alot about what we discussed in class when we read The Time Machine. And, it makes a brief reference to the book as well.
My initial excitement that H.G. Wells's predictions are still newsworthy was tempered by the first comment at the bottom of the page: "This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
So, I did a little more investigation.
"The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics..."
Part of Curry's theory reminds us of our class discussions on Wells's novel The Time Machine, "While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat for humanity over the next millennium, there is the possibility of a monumental genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved ability to get along with each other."
My students came to this same conclusion in our discussions of the novel! So how much more reliable is this coming from Oliver Curry? He's not a geneticist or a physical scientist at all. He received his doctorate from the London School of Economics and currently teaches at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science in the London School of Economics, according to Wikipedia and his own website, http://www.olivercurry.com/. He seems to spend his days pondering human evolution in terms of morality and political theory.
So the jury's out on the physical evolution of the human race, but it's certainly worth thinking about the ramifications on our bodies of the wide spread use of computer technologies. See these related articles:
I started this blog as a place of reflection, especially in my attempts to use of technology effectively. As with every diary or journal I've ever started, somewhere along the way life got in the way, and I took a little hiatus from the frequent posts. Of course, once you're out of habit it's even harder to start up again.
I haven't been using as much innovative technologies lately because I began to get feedback from my students that it was getting a little overwhelming. The curriculum at my school is academically rigourous, students are expected to spend about three hours at home each night to prepare for the next day's assignments, in addition to after school commitments like sports teams. Adding new technologies to learn was beginning to add to my curriculum. I don't want to sacrifice the core subject matter, so it's important to remember that even though this new generation of learners may learn technologies faster they still need time to learn, experiment, and discover the value of different technologies. It takes extra time to become efficient on any new activity, and they get frustrated (maybe more quickly) when there are roadblocks like slow Internet access or down websites.
Of course, I'll keep learning and using new technologies and imagining ways to use current programs and applications to help my students learn more effectively.
On a recent paper assignment I gave my sophomores the option of using comapping.com, Inspiration, or Word to write an outline for their paper. I reminded them that ultimately they are in charge of learning how they learn best; I'm just here to help them figure that out. And, of course we reviewed the pros and cons of good old fashioned paper and pencil-also an option. I think that they appreciated the choice and the reminder of why we do what we do. Students got to work pretty quickly and most used Inspiration, a program that they have used many times last school year. Many chose Word and a few chose comapping.com-the most recent application that they have learned.
I found their choices to be interesting, but most importantly, it was a very productive class period.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
"Sage Students: Darren coined the term “scribe” to describe the student whose responsibility it was to summarize and extend the days events from class on the blog. But now KB Foglia has come up with a different, and I think even more interesting moniker for students working her AP Bio blog: “sherpa.” “Each day a student in class will be assigned to be the class sherpa — our guide who will show us the clear path up the mountain of knowledge.” Nice."
I'd like to try this. My husband does a similar task with his fourth graders.
"Quote O’ the Day: “They expect to be part of the discussion, part of the living thing that text itself is becoming. This is how we get kids excited about language, about writing, about thinking: by giving them the power to be part of the conversation. When we lock our machines down, filter their internet service and not allow them to be contributors we take away the involvement, the intensity, the power. Remember doing grammar worksheets in school? I don’t. But I do remember art class, the time I got to take part in making a radio play and another teacher that let us act in class. They involved me, they challenged me, they forced me to think, to play with language, to defend my opinions. Language fairly pulses and thrives across cyberspace. Let kids in to the conversation.” Clarence Fisher"
I recently had a conversation with a student via email. His enthusiasm for getting extra help (outside of class on grammar) would never have been expressed in person-too many social consequences. But it's evident to me that using new ways to communicate and examine language can be more effective sometimes than face-to-face interactions. At first this seems scary-we'll all become trolls never interacting in person and missing body language cues-but when viewed as just another way for humans to interact, it's revolutionary.
- Review your blogs and read some others when studying for your test. Check out these excellent ones: elzig, cwick27, cdesilets.
- Read and comment on other people's blogs before class: you'll have more ideas percolating in your brain and widen your perspective of the reading. Think of this as getting a head start before the class discussion.
- Add to your own blog entries later when you understanding is more solid. Think of this as a work in progress-your ideas and understanding that is! Don't think of this as a homework check grade, but as a place to build and solidify your ideas.
- Practice good writing: Write good blogs and follow the rules of grammar and punctuation. Practice makes perfect. Don't reserve your skills for the big paper (game) only!
- Got other ideas about ways to use this blog? Email me anytime.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Of course, the down side is the possiblity of tech problems. My students were very excited (and impressed) that we were using such a "new" technology, but they were quick to moan and groan when we encountered any difficulties. Thankfully, I was not alone in the room and with Susan's help I was able to model appropriate and productive reactions to tech problems. By the end of class we were able to get everyone on the site and working, and we had a good understanding of the chat room problem so that we could fix that later.
Overall, I found that working with a Google document was easy and an effective enhancement to my lesson goals.
Thanks a million to Susan for introducing it to me and supporting me through the minor bumps in the road.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
When grading papers on my Lenovo tablet, I have students submit their papers via email. I then complete a grading rubric and mark their paper on the tablet. I can return the images to them via email as pictures, they do not have tablets. When I return the paper, I can then conference with them individually. Now, we both have a copy of the original and the draft that I marked. If students want to resubmit the paper for extra credit, I can compare the revised draft to the original submitted.
- I have become addicted to technology.
- It really affects my joints because I sit hunched all of the time.
- I am adapting to it.
- Kids can get into more trouble.
- We won’t be social anymore.
- It can distract me.
- I have to force myself to put it away.
- It always came natural to me.
- Information is easily accessible.
- It’s not always completely reliable
After discussing the implications of these statements, students came to realize that some of these problems have always existed (getting into trouble, being easily distracted) while others are becoming unique challenges for their generation.
Finally, it was amusing to me to see them realize and criticize what they perceived to be adult fears and fumblings with technology. One student laughed with bewildered disbelief when he described to us how his father still struggles with email. Another student came to this conclusion:
Why is it that ... so many other adults are unable to grasp the use of technology? Is it because it’s harder to learn for older people or they just don’t want to? I personally believe it’s because they don’t want to. They learned there system and they don’t want to change it because if they stepped into new technology it would be stepping into uncertain waters. That would mean they’d have to learn all over again and I think that a lot of them are scared. Because there 7 year old grandchild knows how to use a computer better then them. They don’t want to show that a small child can outsmart them at something that seems so simple.
This seems to be the new generation gap, and it's just getting broader every day. The old cry: "They just don't understand me," is true in a new way now. And, our efforts to bridge the gap are more important than ever. If we don't try, the opportunity will pass us by even more quickly than for past generations.
This week I'll try Google's presentation function in Google Documents. I have a template presentation set up with directions: http://docs.google.com/Present?docid=dgj6cwv7_1f76s2d&fs=true. My students will then work in small groups to make their own presentations. There is an im part that I haven't experiemented with, but I think that my students will love. I'll love that you can view a transcript of their conversation and track changes, like wikispaces. I think that this kind of work in a classroom will really encourage quieter students to be more active participants in the planning and execution of the task.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In response to questions about using a class blog (21publish) to complete nightly reading logs, students report:
- 93% that they completed their homework on time
- 96% that they completed their homework in the suggested order (read on their own, write their impressions, then read others' blogs if desired)
- 60% that they read classmates' blogs outside of class time
This class blog program allows students to create their own blog page and have access to the work of their classmates.
My online resources:
- 86% have accessed my blog
- 73% have accessed my wikispace
- 33% used librarything outside of class time
In terms of using librarything as a source of information or entertainment:
- 20% report that it was enriching
- 66% report that it was fun
- 3% report that it was cumbersome
General comments about using the class blog to complete homework assignments or using technology in the classroom in general:
- a sampling of adjectives students used to describe their use of technology in the classroom: cool, fun, easy, useful, interesting, convenient, refreshing
- "very good idea. Good educational twist on an Internet pastime."
- "I like it...[this] is actually one of the few classes this year I even bring a laptop too."
- "I definitely think the class blog helped with understanding the material. It was a good way to express your thoughts but then be able to see what other people thought and how your opinions differed."
- "I think it's easier to complete homework online because it takes place in a teenager's natural environment: the Internet."
- "I find that technology facilitates work and turning in assignments."
- "...whether or not teachers realize it, computers do help a lot."
- "life without the laptop would be weird."
Here are all of the negative comments I received about the use of technology from my 30 students:
- "I think it's a little overboard, but I guess that's the future."
- "Having information on three different websites...makes it kind of annoying to have to remember which is on which and keep track of it all."
- "Difficult to get a hold of but after that, good."
- "It took a little while to get used to, but I really like it and think it helps."
My predictions of their use and my intentions for their use match what they have reported themselves. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or ideas.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
As I was running, and struggling against the limitations of my own body and lack of training, I kept reminding myself to "run my own race." It's easy for me to get caught up in the competitive nature of sports and push myself way over the limit. I was determined to finish (in less than the 45 minutes my husband had realistically predicted). I developed a mantra that seemed to fit the moment and the meaning of the race: we're all running our own race, but we're all in the together. This seems an appropriate summary of my experience as an American. We take pride in our independence, yet rely on each other in times of need. It was a very patriotic event, the start finish line was made by putting two fire engines back to back and hanging an American flag down the middle. I couldn't help but feel proud of being there among so many others who cared to remember.
So, my conclusion was that it's important to take action to remember important events in your life. For me, as for millions, this day changed everything. It's easy to think about, remember, and just as easy to move on in our daily lives. Take action to remember. Do something that physically marks the significant moments in your life-for yourself. So that day, I didn't learn about technology or literature, but an important lesson about myself.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Sophomores and juniors will use www.turnitin.com to check for original ideas in their first drafts and to peer review each other's papers.
The sophomores will also use an online graphic organizer to collect ideas for their first drafts.
Check out new "best work" from my students on www.mrsclarkevans.wikispaces.com.
"It has been stated by some that the Geneva Bible was the Bible present at the signing of the U. S. Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, due to the fact that it was the Bible that the Puritans brought with them to America. However, the U. S. Library of Congress and the Independence National Historical Park both state that they do not know what version/translation of the Bible was present at these signings (Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania being the location of both of the signings)."
Seemingly harmless, but worth mentioning the subtleties underlying this text.
First, who "stated"? This is classic use of passive voice to mask the actor or generalize.
Secondly, why does it matter? The U. S. Library of Congress and the Independence National Historical Park certainly clarify that it may not matter, just in case anyone may be offended by the idea that this may be true.
Finally, this was a perfect opportunity to remind my students that information is manipulated for the writer's purpose. As growing writers, it's essential that they consider this in their own writing. As researchers and gatherers of information, it's essential to consider the writer's MOTIVE and ARGUMENT.
Once again, the classroom uses for Wikipedia are endless. This is a tool well worth using, and like any other-must be used with care and caution.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Now, it's time to consider the "machine" aspect of the story. Wells's commentary uses a fictional technology to project future problems in the development or de-evolution of humanity. As we have seen in our previous discussions, Wells is criticizing his post-Industrial Revolution society. Changes in manufacturing technologies changed the social order and the relationship between classes. Wells predicts how these changes and divisions could lead to two separate species of human, and neither enviable.
How do our current technologies influence who we are and who we are becoming? Are the changes in our society creating a new social order? What are the benefits and the disadvantages. This week we will begin to examine ourselves and our individual relationships with current technologies to see how we can affect the future of our human race in positive ways.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
"After reading this informative article on appropriate words, I realized that some things that I say on a regular basis or when I am writing, people make take personal offense to." LG
"There is such a thing as sexism, but a lot of these examples are really pushing it. Stereotypes are a good thing to avoid, I agree, but I guarantee that 90% of the people reading this packet said "But that's true!" to at least one of the examples. I think that stereotypes have their place, but I agree they should be kept very far from formal writing. But take my comments with a grain of salt, I have never been described as an advocate for political correctness." NH
"This really informed me on different words that I am not supposed to use. Before i read this i used probably 1/3 of the things it says not to use. So from now on my writing will be better and won't offend anyone with the words that i use." JS
"This was quite a fascinating read, I don’t think I have ever thought about words themselves so much! Words and sentence meaning can have large implications..." JR
Blogging gives everyone a chance to form and express their opinion before presenting it in a face-to-face classroom discussion, where a student will also be thinking about how others, including the teacher, will react to his or her views. I have found it to be a very effective way to start the conversation. And, I don't know if I have ever encountered a student who would admit that a reading about grammar was at all "fascinating"!
Here's how the use of technology really paid off. The day's lesson was a review of word choice decisions that writers consider including sexist language, colloquialisms, and dialects. Not exactly the most exciting topic of conversation for a group of teenagers-read this excerpt from our grammar handbook and be prepared to discuss it tomorrow in class. My class' homework was not only to read and think about the information, but then to write a blog entry. Besides some technical problems, the majority of the students had the reading and response completed by class time. During class I gave them all time to read each other's ideas and leave comments. Then, we closed the computers and had the class discussion. I have never seen or heard such an impassioned or diverse discussion about this topic. Everyone contributed to the blog and to the class discussion. Regardless of personal opinions about the issues examined, we came to a class consensus about how a good writer considers to feelings and perceptions of the reader because ultimately the goal is to communicate your ideas, not advocate for or against "politically correct" language.
The last ten minutes of class were spent back on http://www.librarything.com/. I pointed out some more areas of the website were they could get or contribute information.
Overall, my students were engaged, participating, and learning about grammar and using technology efficiently and productively. It certainly was one of my best classes ever.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I did give them time in class to "play around" on the site, and they had fun exploring the areas that I pointed out to them, like the comment feature, how to look at their classmates' work, and the Zeitgeist. I hope that as they see more of the site, and with reminders from me, they will feel less overwhelmed by all of the features and try to use it on their own.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
We'll start the year with an examination of our experiences with technology in the first paper of the year, the technology autobiography. Inspired by H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, we'll look at how technology has shaped our lives, who we are and what we expect out of life. How has it shaped our society and our future? A recent article in Science predicts that science fiction itself is outdated and can't possibly keep up with the enhancements in technology occuring daily. Technology doesn't just change our daily procedures or how we do our jobs, but it is also changing our literature. How will this rapid rate of change affect our futures and our human nature? What do you think? Leave me a comment.
So, what does all of this have to do with technology? Being even more aware of gender differences, I hope to consciously seek opportunities to appeal to the boys' need for visual stimulation, perhaps to offset hearing differences, and the boys' interest in discussing literature in objective ways. The girls will be more interested, and have more ease, in relating to characters and seeking ways to succeed without competing or risking looking bad in front of others. The boys will do better with group activities and the girls will be more successful working individually. Some of the technologies that I am interested in using more in my classes have the potential of appealing to both and the flexibility to serve the interests and the abilities of all.
Finally, while the generalities may seem even more obvious, I will particularly strive to serve and appreciate the individual personalities that each of my student's brings.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Though they started their journals in the spring, I'd like to see my seniors start a blog about their experience. Though the journal is personal and records the ups and downs, especially the downs, I see a blog as beneficial on several levels. First, it could be a more fun way of keeping up with the journal assignment, something a little more public could keep them on their toes with deadlines. Also, they could potentially read each other's blogs which could be encouraging to them as they see each other going through similar frustrations and struggles with time management, organization, and planning for the final application. Finally, they could include links to external research or resources in the blog in an easier format than in a written journal.
I think I'll have my three seniors write a blog but keep it private between the four of us. Then maybe in the spring it can become public for the final benefit-to help the juniors get an idea of what it's all about.
Friday, August 17, 2007
"It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change" – Charles Darwin
"The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." -- Alvin Toffler
I love these quotes because they speak to the changing times of teaching. After the VAIS conference my attitude about using technology in the classroom changed and my enthusiasm grew. I have come to realize that the most important aspect for one to embrace is flexibility. Whether it is my own flexibility and willingness to try new teaching techniques or teaching my students to be flexible in the ways they use their computers and the technologies that they try.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
"Other skills stressed in the new framework are what P21 calls "Life and Career Skills," such as flexibility, accountability, innovation, self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, leadership, and responsibility. According to P21, these are skills that many U.S. employers say are increasingly hard to find among prospective employees."
Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I have decided to start a wiki, "The Teacher's Edition," which gives an overview of my classes, 10th grade British Literature and 11th grade American Literature. Here I will lay out the general course objectives and provide additional resources and information on the various topics. This will be a resource for parents, students, and teachers. I am excited to get it organized.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
In December I began using a tablet (Lenovo X41) and was given the task of assessing whether this would be a useful tool for teaching and learning. Trying to incoporate use of a new medium in the middle of the school year was challenging, and so far I have found that the use of the tablet has not significantly increased my effectiveness as a teacher.