Sunday, November 21, 2010

Playing around, web tools and teaching math

Big surprise. A blog titled "Technology and Education", and here is a posting that is actually about technology used in education.

Here is an embedded Brainshark presentation on using wikis for math instruction. Brainshark allows you to upload a PowerPoint presentation (also supports OpenOffice presentations), and then record audio for each slide. The audio-enhanced presentation can then be shared using embedded HTML (as is the case here).

And here is a short video experiment with students to portray math concepts. The video is extremely rough -- I made a big mistake in shooting the video that made it very difficult to get the exact special effect I wanted. It's close, but not quite right: next time, shoot each student separately. I shot the student who appears twice separately, but included the middle student, the one holding the equals sign, in both clips. It was difficult to get rid of one of her, so I finally ended up just shifting the video position slightly so one clip overlayed the other. Just don't look too closely. And our green screen is a bit ratty. Editing was done in Adobe Premiere (CS4). It is mainly proof of concept, to give the kids an idea of what to do when we get to the project. The video is shared via Vimeo. As you can see, I didn't get the still frame right.

The Symmetric Property from James Davis on Vimeo.

And here is a comic strip (again an example for the students), using I like the MakeBeliefsComix simplicity of creating comics with the site -- no logins; and easy to use, intuitive tools. The downside is students can't save comics and go back to edit them, and there is no jpg export. Students need to either print the comic to a PDF file, and convert, or do a screen grab of the comic on the web page. Students can also email a link to the comic to the teacher.

The classroom wiki is barely getting started, but here is a link:

Dvorak Algebra 2010


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Technology portfolio

I suppose this is ready enough for release into the wild. This is totally self-promotion, but ...

Here is a link to the portfolio I put together for the Technology in Education Masters program I am in at National Louis University. We are nearing the end of the program, the portfolio is meant to demonstrate some understanding of the Illinois State Board of Education's Technology Specialist requirements and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) technology facilitator standards:

It does include a personal philosophy on technology in education, as well as a list of resources and readings that I have found useful and/or important.

Comments welcome, either on the portfolio discussion pages (requirse a Wikispaces account), or here.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why do it by hand?

I posted the following in an online discussion with some of my peers at other schools. I was questioning whether new technologies were making a significant enough of a difference to justify the cost and students could still do neat projects without computers; there was a response about how animated students get using technology, and yes, projects can be done on poster board, but why should they? Which got me to thinking, and this is how I responded:

Some reasons I can think of:

1. Doing projects by hand develops eye-hand coordination. Hand-work is critical to brain development.

2. It develops measurement skills. I see low scores fairly consistently on the Measurement standard (ILS #7), which I suspect is due to the fact that kids never measure things. More cooking, sewing, woodwork!

3. It develops an appreciation for materials and how they work together. Also textures, and what the tools of visual arts are: crayons vs markers vs watercolor vs tempera vs etc. Photoshop effects make a lot more sense if you know their real-world analogs

4. Overall design: the computer screen can be quite limiting when you want to see the overall effect, at 100%.

5. Designing without the computer screen can be relaxing and less stressful I think -- not sure if that is universal, but at least a personal observation.

I do not disagree with the excitement re: computers, but I also think of it like a sugar rush. And I am not saying that I would want to go back to doing layouts with press type and rubber cement, but I am glad I did that once because it makes what the computers do more understandable.

I am wondering if maybe technology education should recapitulate technology evolution -- learn the old way before you learn the new way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Who makes education policy in Chicago?

I saw this Chicago Trib blog posting (on the Clout St. blog):
Emanuel sitting down with city education leaders as he plots schools policy

It struck me for how much it says about who really shapes education policy. (Hint: It's not teachers.)

The article is about Chicago mayoral wannabe Rahm Emanuel meeting with people who can both inform his education policy, and also fund his mayoral campaign. According to the item, Emanuel met with "nine local education leaders". They include:
  • Penny Pritzer, of the extremely wealthy Pritzer hotel, finance, etc. family, and one of the heads of the Pritzer Traubner Family Foundation (see below).
  • Ellen Aberding, president of the Joyce Foundation ("Working to close the achievement gap by ... promoting innovations such as charter schools")
  • Juan Rangel, CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization, "one of Chicago’s most influential Hispanic organizations that has opened several charter schools in Chicago."
  • Bruce Rauner, venture capitalist and chair of the private-equity firm GTCR, who also serves on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund, "we are defining venture capital for public education, the next generation in school improvement" and "aims to be the best vehicle for private sector investment in public education". Penny Pritzer is the chair of the fund. What exactly they do is an interesting read, if you can get past the management-babble. The fund provides substantial seed money to get projects going, including most of the alternative certification programs at CPS, including the one I came in on (Chicago Teaching Fellows), as well as AUSL and Teach for America. Another objective is "drive student performance by differentiating compensation for principals and teachers."
  • Brian Simmons, with another private equity firm, Code Hennessy & Simmons LLC, and also on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund.
  • Julia Stasch, a vice president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
  • Robin Steans, a former Mayor Daley chief of staff, and now director of Advance Illinois, an education policy group. Steans is a member of the wealthy Steans family which made its money in banking, whose foundation has been a major funder of a number of North Lawndale community projects. Advance Illinois focuses on teacher evaluation programs ("base teacher evaluation on performance, including the ability to promote student achievement"), "support[ing] districts to use compensation more strategically", and tying teacher training accreditation to teacher performance.
  • Beth Swanson, executive director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and a former budget officer of CPS. "Partners" of the Pritzer Traubert Family Foundation include AUSL, the organization that manages turnaround schools for CPS; the Noble network of charter schools; and Teach for America.