Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Schedule of K12online

2012 Schedule

Linked above is the 2012 schedule for K12online's 'Learn Share Remix' online conferences. Over a period of about three weeks upwards of 20 online conferences are offered.

To respond to the question 'does this benefit a teacher's professional development?' one must begin by admitting that any time two or more teachers are able to connect and discuss a topic with shared interests everyone involved comes out a winner. Having the opportunity to enter into the thought process of another person in a similar situation to you is simply invaluable, as it offers you so much insight into your own decision making moving forward. Often this style of interaction is found inside a place of work, a school for example, and is most of the time face to face.

What makes these online conferences even better than face to face interaction is that it offers teachers and other styles of professional educators the chance to interact with teachers etc. from other regions. Thus, achieving understanding of different points of view. It's really just too perfect.

Much like most things on the internet in 2012, the service provided by K12online is free, which simply adds to it's wonder.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Old School 8th grade test

While reviewing the 'vintage' 8th grade test I came across numerous things that wouldn't fly in today's schools, all of which are listed and reflected upon below. 

1. The grading subsections- 'orthography' which in theory has now been changed to spelling and grammar etc. (which is really just rolled into one umbrella ELA grade). Should this have changed? It's really subjective, however after careful consideration I would say that with the ever too commonly found lack of spelling and grammar skills in today's youth (due to the freedom of social networking/ messaging) it might be a good idea to hold students accountable for what comes gushing from their brains (metaphorically). 

2. Physiology and hygiene- One must assume that the Physiology is just an old school way of saying 'phys ed' which of course is still graded. However, the 'hygiene' part is something that has changed dramatically. Unfortunately, a student's hygiene has morphed into somewhat of a 'pretend it doesn't exist' kind of topic. For whatever reason, teachers don't want to discuss with their students when hygiene is a problem. Awkwardness can be a killer. 

3. "Write a page on the points of the West Virginia Standard Boy or Girl" 
      What is a student supposed to even give as an answer to this? This of course cannot be used today as America pushes for equality between sexes etc. etc.

Overall, there are a lot of things that can be used from this test that may have been dropped over time (for example the number of open response questions as opposed to multiple choice drone questions). Unfortunately, there are also a lot of questions that just seem barbaric. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learning while Learning

"As it turns out, using knowledge as it is being learned-- applying skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity to the content knowledge-- increases motivation and improves learning outcomes"


When I was a Junior in High School I had the fortune of being able to take a computer art class (a Photoshop class). In this half year course we learned, from an experienced professional/ art teacher how to use the very intricate Photoshop CS1 program. Reflecting back on the class, I feel that it was run in a very intelligent way. Throughout the semester were given a week's worth of classes or so to complete assignments with very strict rules. The rules, being as rigid as they were, forced us to use the program in a way that caused us to learn and become familiar with it. Thus, as the teacher was explaining the assignments/ how to use the program we would watch (often on the projector) and then try to use what we had just learned on our projects. For 90% of the class it was a trial and error process as the program wasn't all that user friendly. However, in trying to grasp what we were learning while using the knowledge we were in a way 'learning as we went'. Every member of the class, even behavioral kids, were motivated to produce an image they were proud of thus increasing the amount stat students accomplished etc. The actual use of what we were learning, as we were learning it, was unmatched.

Conversely, if the teacher had approached the class with the idea that she was going to lecture to us every class for the first half of the semester about how to use the program while expecting students to complete work the entire second half, many students would have turned themselves off.

This is, of course, an example of a very hands on (in a computer sense) class, however the idea applies to all areas of learning. Why can't a history teacher approach a class with the notion that students shouldn't be forced to 'master' the topic of American History before applying it? Why shouldn't teachers approach a class with the idea that students should be using things they learn actively on a daily basis, even if it causes mistakes to be made (as they haven't mastered it yet). I think if teachers instill the idea that application is the goal of education, many more students would find themselves 'mastering topics'.    

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Page 94-104

I decided to include the above passage in this blog response because I felt it holds the main focus of what I took away from the reading.

The idea that "Computers can extend the kind of close, personal supervision provided in apprenticeship methods to every learner" is interesting, to say the least. I think this is an applicably true statement when referring to certain style of learning, learning that can be monitored by simply looking at numbers or charts perhaps, but not necessarily to more intricate learning.

A computer can potentially bring me to a chart or graph of my students' progression of their typing via showing me that they have completed certain typing tests and their scores on those tests. However, it doesn't show me that they are doing the tests correctly or practicing positive habits.

The last portion of the passage above stating that "the downside is that learners working in such environments may become more isolated from social interaction with other people" is quite true. However, with almost all websites (including educational sites) having some sort of social connectivity aspect, the likelihood that students would experience no social interaction is small.

For example, in teaching kids how to use their blogging websites I see a student's progress in so far as how they've completed their blogs, meanwhile all students experience others via the comments section on each blog.