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Someone Understands the Problem with Math

Winston Churchill had this to say about math.

“Letters, after all, had only got to be known and when they stood together in a certain way one recognized their formation and that it meant a certain sound. But the figures were tied into all sorts of tangles and did things to one another which it was extremely difficult to forecast with complete accuracy.  Who could say what they did each time they were tied up together? It was not any use being nearly right; in some cases these figures got into debt with one another.  You had to borrow one or carry one and afterwards you had to pay back the one you borrowed!”

Amen, Winston.  Amen.

Quote from The Last Lion, Volume I: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 by William Manchester

Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the &qu...
Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the “Victory” sign to crowds in London on Victory in Europe Day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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#BSNMooc Post #4 – Digital Citizenship, A Literary Time Machine, and The Great Gatsby (Of Course)

They say that Abraham Lincoln had quite a temper.  He would dash off letters in his anger and, by the time he had finished, his anger spent, he would think twice about dispatching it and place it on the mantle instead.  He would wait until the morning, reevaluate his position and, if it was still warranted in his mind, then he would send the letter.  Imagine if he had a smart phone and Twitter?  He may have indeed tweeted: “If McClellan isn’t interested in using the army at present, perhaps I could borrow it for a while?”  What would the Confederacy have made of that breakdown of command in the North?

I digress.  My point is that today we have the ability to communicate so easily that many of us end up saying things we regret later.  Our responsibilities in this area have increased many times over from the time in which verbal communications reigned and others were secondary.  Before we click on send, tweet, or any other button that supports communication with the outside world, we need to think hard about the consequences.

The problem is, many of us don’t.  We spread rumors, say hurtful things, and generally make fools of ourselves because we don’t have those few minutes that we used to have.  We can’t put a tweet on the mantle till morning.  (Actually, we can, but that’s aside from the point because many of us don’t use Buffer or schedule tweets through TweetDeck or Hootsuite.)  Google or other search engines cache the communication and it’s out there forever, haunting us.

Part of the responsibilities of a teacher is to teach citizenship.  These days, that includes digital citizenship, the rights and responsibilities that relate to our communications and interactions on the Internet and via digital means of any sort.  There are many ways to teach digital citizenship.  For this post, I would like to teach it within the context of the novel unit I’ve been working on, The Great Gatsby.  Why not?  

Rumors, Innuendo, and a Literary Time Machine

It would be nice to take a Friday and have the students work together on an assignment like this.

Imagine that a literary time machine has transported the Gatsby characters to the present and provided them with the tools they would need to navigate and interact in the digital space (smart phones, twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, etc.).  How might the events of the novel be different?  Let’s focus on the rumors and innuendo spread about Gatsby in the novel.

  • Create a twitter stream regarding Gatsby, his history, and his profession, using the information in the novel.  Predict what would happen to Gatsby legally or regarding Daisy.
  • What are the effects of such rapid communication on the reputation of others, the development of stories (true or false), and the resolution of investigations?  Do you remember that a news reporter came to Gatsby’s house for a comment on the rumors he’d heard?  What might that reporter have done with a twitter stream or a Facebook conversation?  What if he were a news reporter and brought the ‘story’ to television, complete with photos of Gatsby and interviews with ‘sources’?
  • Write your opinion of the use of these technologies today, the rights we have to free speech (even gossip), and our responsibilities as digital citizens

It’s my belief that this assignment is a good extension of the study of the novel into a new context: our culture.  It reminds me of the time that a friend of mine had her students rewrite the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet using text messages.  The students took to that assignment with earnest, and produced some absolutely stunning results that demonstrated understanding of the young lovers’ relationship.  I would hope that this assignment would help students gain a new appreciation of the main character and the impact of communications today.  I would also hope they would think twice before pushing send, tweet, or post.

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#BSNMooc Post #3: Higher Order Thinking Questions and The Great Gatsby

This week, I have chosen to blog about the following topic.

Anatomy of a Question

Make a public blog post sharing some well-written question that challenge higher order thinking. Explain to your potential audience what makes this a question worth asking students. Think of this as an opportunity to help other teachers in your subject area understand some of what you learned in this unit through a case study.

Honestly, I took this assignment and twisted it to suit my purposes.  I hope that is all right.  🙂

A Confession

I must admit that my experience creating online assessments is limited to my training days, when I would assess users’ knowledge of the applications that were the subject of the training.  I did not get too complex with my questions; instead, I tried to find out if they were actually paying attention during the training and hands-on practice or if they were more interested in their mobile phone and email. I also knew that the participants did not have as much time with the topics as someone participating in a traditional course, so my hope was that they would take what they have learned and apply it once they were back at their desks, using the job aids I gave them.  My assessments were better than smiley-sheets, but not by much.

That’s not to say I did not try the other types of assessments.  I did!  They failed miserably.  I believe that might be because I did not have as much time with my students as a traditional teacher and so many of my students had been out of school so long they were ‘out of practice.’  Or, it could just be that I did not create successful assessments.

So, I am back to the problem of lack of practice.  That needs to change, so this is a good opportunity to make that change.

One more note: When I was teaching, I saved the higher-order questions for the short answer and essay.  Since we are talking about online assessment, however, I am going to avoid those types of questions and focus on multiple choice.  Of course I know that you can administer the short answer and essay questions in online assessment, but I consider my experience with multiple choice questions my Achilles’ heel.

A Quiz

[slickquiz id=2]

I struggled mightily with the very short quiz above, because I would be much more comfortable giving the students essay questions or short answer questions to “formatively” assess their understanding of the novel.  I actually put a twist on this assignment, but since this is a non-graded course, I am taking a risk and asking for help with my questions rather than researching “well written questions” (which I did) and posting them here.  I hope no one minds!

I’m moving on now!  Thanks for reading.

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A Supplement to the “Finding Resources” Event

Links You Might Need During the Event

http://tinyurl.com/survey0414 – This is a link to the survey I would like to administer and speak to at the beginning of the event.

https://www.diigo.com/list/mrsedick/finding-resources – This link opens a diigo list of interesting resources I found while preparing this presentation.

The Presentation

If you are using a Droid, you can follow the presentation via a SlideRocket. Advance the presentation yourself by using the controls on your screen. On the iPhone, you have to swipe to the left; I assume it is the same for a Droid. It is unfortunate that Prezi does not play nicely with Android. Still, I feel it important to model this very useful app that does play nicely with iOS and Windows. (By the way, Prezi has a subscription program just for teachers; it’s an upgrade of the free subscription at no cost. I highly recommend it.)

Finding Resources You Can Really Use

When I started my journey searching for resources to help me teach, I first turned to SymbalooEDU and I still use it as my home page when I launch Google Chrome. SymbalooEDU (and its vanilla version, Symbaloo) is a visual bookmarking site. Bookmarks are assigned to icons you can customize. The icons can be moved to any available spot on the webmix, you can share webmixes or make them private, and you can search for webmixes on a topic and add them to your collection. The second site I found quite useful was diigo. As opposed to symbalooEDU, diigo is a text-based content aggregation site that uses toolbars and extensions to capture web content and add it to a library. The list I reference above is a good example of one way to use diigo. Diigo has a membership program for teachers that is very generous, and a school district program also. It’s highly recommended.

Twitter and Hashtags for Teachers

I retrieved the infographic for this presentation from Edudemic, a blog that I think is terrific! The one hashtag I want to remind you all to investigate is #edchat. The Educator’s PLN dives deeper into the #edchat conversations on its Wikispace wiki.

Content Curation

I would love to see every teacher on Scoop.it. There are so many excellent content curators there. The site appeals to people with various preferences: visual, textual, auditory, and interpersonal, for example. (Would you like to find out what your learning style is? Here’s a quiz from edutopia.) You can find me on Scoop.it. Perhaps I will “see” you there!

Pinterest, too, is quite popular among teachers. The Pinterest Education boards are amazing. A search for Common Core yielded a multitude of boards dedicated to this controversial topic. Pinterest really appeals to those who are visual in nature. Give it a try, if you haven’t already. Please note that you have to log in to Pinterest before you can use the links in this paragraph.

The last resource I want to write about here is Zotero. If you are in graduate school or want to help your students write papers, you must check out this application and browser extension. It saved my life during my graduate studies, helping me to gather content and, more importantly, to create APA citations. It also formats citations in MLA style and others. The browser extension often finds the bibliographical data you will need to build your citation. If you are using your library database services, you can export the citations you find in RIS format, then import them into Zotero. It will take care of the formatting for you. Please check it out and recommend it to your students. You’ll be glad you did.

Other curation sites I recommend: Learnist, MERLOT, and TeachingChannel. This infographic from eyeoneducation.com will recommend some other ways to start curating content.

Link to the “Social Media Landscape” Image

This is the page from which I sourced the “Social Media Landscape” image.

Blog Suggestions

I’m simply going to list my blog suggestions here. Please visit them and decide for yourself. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything will NOT disappoint. I promise.

SAS – Standards Aligned System

The SAS site from the PA Department of Education is quite robust. Not only can you find resources for standards-based instruction, but there are many professional development courses offered by the site – and they are free! I have taken two so far and found the instructors warm, attentive, and knowledgeable. The courses are self-study; however, the instructors provide feedback quickly and with attention to detail.

Personal / Professional Learning Network

Please visit the Educator’s PLN and join. I think it is worth taking the time to navigate through the site and join some groups. You might find yourself meeting colleagues who will be very helpful in the future. From that PLN, you will also find links to other nings that are worth a look, such as a ning dedicated to the flipped classroom.

Social Learning and Learning Management System (LMS) Suggestions

The term “social learning” is hot right now, but Vygotsky and Dewey first claimed that all learning is social a long time ago, so I’m not sure why it hasn’t been a topic of discussion since then. At any rate, the site I recommend you look at for social learning are Schoology and Edmodo.

As for a LMS, many of you may know Moodle already. I happen to be developing a Moodle site for our company at this time, because so many of our customers use it and I think it important our employees understand tools our customers use. It’s an open source learning management system with a dedicated community of users and a robust development cycle. If your district or school is already using Moodle, perhaps you would like to build some courses or class sites? If not, perhaps you would like to investigate it and recommend it?

Lesson Plan Ideas

For MOOC ideas, please visit Coursera.

For creating infographics and / or visual projects, try these resources:

You can find Purdue OWL at this link.

Finally, you can find lesson plans for NaNoWriMo here.

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to come to Barnes and Noble this weekend and talk about technology, resources, and education. We appreciate it!

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