Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Awesome Internet Resources for High School Social Studies

The Cornell Law School Website:
This is a must for anyone teaching government to teach students about the judicial branch. Also comes in handy for running a judicial branch simulation so that students can research cases that they will try before a court of their peers. The Oyez Project is another website that helps in understanding the constitutional issues surrounding any supreme court case. The Cornell site is much more user friendly and is organized for better understanding. However, the Oyez Project has a podcast on iTunes so that you can listen to a buffet of constitutional law. The Cornell site can be used for more than just High School government class. I have also used it when talking about specific Supreme Court cases in American History and Alaska History.
PBS has many great stories and lesson plans for teaching about American history. The pest one that I have found and utilized was their segment on WWI. The Great War gives a very in depth look at the build-up, conflict, and the aftermath of the first world war. It helps to paint a detailed picture of the past in a way that makes the second world war as well as many curent conflict make sense. I was able to teach this lesson this winter when tensions in Israel were on the rise and conflict was turning bloodier by the minute. This was a very good tool for the kids to understand the conflict surrounding the holy land.
Alaska History:
The state of Alaska offers a very good website that is designed for home schooled students as well as a credit recovery program for the Alaska History standard for the state. This website has been a very valuable resource for me to brush up on Alaskan issues in a timeline manner that includes: Native History, the Russian period, American Territorial period, and Statehood. There isn't much for lesson plans here, but it is packed full of good information that you can use in conjunction with the Alaska Flipchart lesson plans in my IEP that can be used to teach an entire semester of Alaskan History.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My I.E.P. for Adobe's In Design

My IEP project: For my individualized educational plan I decided that I needed to learn how to use Adobe’s In Design. I have been creating worksheets and other informational handouts using Microsoft Word for most of the year. I have learned to utilize many of the different functions within Word and found ways to create some fairly good handouts for my students. After receiving the In Design software and watching Mr. Lehnhart turn out handout after handout using In Design and watching the students engagement in a piece of paper, I knew that learning how to master In Design would be essential to garnering the same response out of my handouts.

My “baseline” knowledge of how to use In Design was not very extensive. I wanted to be able to:

§ To create visually differentiated text in a way that will clarify learning outcomes

§ Layer graphics and text in a way that allows handouts to flow and more clearly spell out learning outcomes for lessons

§ Learn to be proficient enough with In Design that I am able to successfully complete a handout with minimal support.

Lesson #1: Economic Stimulus

Designed using Microsoft Word, this handout lays out some of the plans for the economic stimulus bill along with additional information that will be needed to further understand the bill so that students will be able to adequately understand the bill for in class discussion and debate as well as acting as a catalyst for student input on the bill itself. Interesting handouts can be created using Word, however, Word lacks creativity. In Design makes the process easier and does not constrict you to preset formatting and Word functions. Thus, In Design allows for more creative freedom…if you can think it you can do it with In Design.

Lessons #2-6: Alaska History Flipchart

Designed using In Design, this lesson is designed to follow in line with the important time periods within Alaska history as they correspond geographically and thematically with the history of human occupation in Alaska. As far as the designing of the handouts this was a fairly simple process with In Design and a very good “beginner” lesson in using In Design for lesson planning. There is an explanation of the format describing how the lesson should be put together.

Lesson #7: What Am I?; 20th Century American Inventions

This lesson was designed using In Design and is designed to get students to investigate and teach about specific inventions that were created in the United States during the 20th century. This lesson is a step up in sophistication from the AK Flipchart lesson and shows progression in understanding how to utilize In Design in the classroom.

Lesson #8: American History; The Cold War through films

Designed using In Design, this lesson is designed as part of a weekend project for each student to watch and analyze a film that depicts some aspect of the Cold War. This is a far more complex handout to design and should further cement my command of In Design.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Article Assessment: The Overdominance of Computers

In this article Monke goes into depth on the omnipresent use of the computer, coming in various forms, in education and in the home lives of adolescents.  Monke contends that Children are being so inundated with technology that they are growing up lacking the fundamental life skills that are needed to be a functioning and valuable member of society.  Monke is not against all computer use, just the manner in which technology has been implemented into the educational lives and the homes of today's youth.
 First children need to be taught these fundamental core values that contribute to students becoming better citizens latter in life.  
Monke says: "[...] it is the lack of qualities like hope, compassion, trust, respect, a sense of belonging, moral judgement, stability, community support, parental care, and teacher competence and enthusiasm that keeps so many students imprisoned in ignorance."  
Along with the disconnect of these core values Monke finds that children who engage more frequently with the digital world have also have a disconnect with reality that can be quite debilitating.  With a perception of reality that is based in the digital world children will never be able to contend with the monumental tasks that will be left for them by our generation.

Dealing with global climate change, energy independence, the global financial crisis, the possibility of nuclear disasters, and many others will be virtually impossible for children at this stage.  

Ultimately Monke says that better preparation in technology education needs to begin at the elementary level and carried out at home as well to avoid the need to make corrections in student understanding later in life.  "How can young people develop the wisdom to judge high technology if they are told from the moment they enter school, implicitly if not explicitly, that they need high-tech tools to learn, to communicate, to think?"

Monk notes the following as important educational experiences for children:
  • Close, loving relationships with responsible adults.
  • Outdoor activity, nature exploration, gardening, and other encounters with nature.
  • Time for unstructured play as part of the core curriculum.
  • Music, drama, puppetry, dance, painting, and other arts, both as separate classes and as a catalyst to bring other academic subjects to life.
  • Conversations with important adults, as well as poetry, storytelling, and hearing books read aloud.
These experiences help to bring students more in touch with the real world, but to not exclude the use of technology to further student understanding.  Technological inputs to this educational process need to remain simple and should not widen the gap between student understanding and the real world, but should enhance that understanding.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Technology Philosophy

New technologies need to be used whenever it is appropriate.  Teachers need to be able to use new technologies in the classroom in order to keep up with the students in their classroom.  Lessons and learning opportunities need to be made informative and engaging for the students.  Students today are in a society of instant gratification in which attention can and does change with every breath.  Teachers need to be able to stay ahead of their students and be able to grab their attention with innovative and compelling lessons in which the student is both entertained and taught.

In short: Providing student with entertaining and informative lessons encourages higher student understanding.

Energy Awareness Project: Consumption of White Paper by the Average Juneau High School Student

Why is this important?  Paper products are the largest contributors into our landfill, they are a major factor in deforestation, and make up a large part of the budget in our schools.  Cutting down our use of white office paper will have a large impact on the size of our rubbish heap, the cost to our environment in trees cut down as well as fossil fuels burned to harvest the trees, and will also save our public school system a large amount of money.  

The Big Picture:  We are wasting millions of sheets of paper and far too many tax payer dollars on poor technologies.  By reducing the amount of paper consumed great impacts can be made in the consumption of paper and money spent.  

Specifically: When the quantity of paper consumed by the average high school student at JDHS is multiplied by the number of days in a school year then by the number of years at the high school, then multiplied to represent national trends the figures are astounding.  We could make great advances in environmental protection and save tax payer dollars.

Methodology:  I will follow the average high school student at JDHS through a typical week and count the sheets of paper that are being doled out in this week.  This figure will then be used to find the number of sheets consumed per week, per month, per year, per school, etc.  The number of sheets of paper and the monetary costs of this will be taken into account.  Alternatives such as font size, paper margins, front to back printing, and accepting digital work will be examined and presented in contrast to the current system.  For example looking at a typical document:
  • 12 pt font
  • 1.25" margin
  • double spaced
  • one sided
  • 100 page document 
Then change to:
  • 10 pt font, .75" margins
  • single spaced
  • double sided
This document then turns into a 15 page document...100 pages to 15 pages!  Can you imagine when this is multiplied by all high school students across the country today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How to animate a rolling ball.

In this short clip fourth graders showed us how to animate a rolling ball.  On the surface this seems like a relatively easy task.  When I saw these kids demonstrate that they not only were able to create a computer generated animated clip of a rolling ball, but were also able to address the math computations needed to describe how a ball rolls along a plane.  The students first provided a prologue setting the stage with the physical description of the ball and where it would be they then went on describing the mathematical equations.  The student then went through the process of rolling the ball, they showed that they made a mistake in their animation as well.  The first time that they showed the ball moving it seemed to hover in space.  Then they went back and fixed their error.  
  • Encourages peer teaching.
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Demonstrates Grasping of Concepts
As for the teacher/student impact, I think that this sort of assignment has many advantages in a multidisciplinary approach as well as in a single subject.  This project demonstrated skills in math, science, english, and technology.  I understand that this project was used primarily in a math class.  This works as well if all of the students that are working on the project are knowledgeable in the content.  From my understanding the students are in groups for different concepts in math.  Each group designs this sort of project and the group then is responsible for helping their peers who are struggling in the area that they are now experts.  The video and peer teaching can be utilized to ensure total student success.  

EPIC 2015

Epic 2015 is a short movie about the future of Internet technology and connectivity.  The film starts with the history of the modern Internet age with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.  The film continues in telling the history of mergers, purchases, and updates with and between these companies and others like them as though the film was made after 2015.  It leaves us enjoying a bluebird day in the comfort of our home, listening to pod casts of our neighbors as they plan for a sunny day BBQ.  

A major impact for teachers and students will be the breadth and depth of which we and they are able to find information on past and current events.  No longer will teachers be able to remain stumped on questions, "just Google it."  In theory it could leave us with a news source that will have accomplished what thousands of years of human trials have not been able to accomplish...unbiased news media.  On the other hand human input and the monopoly effect on the reporting of the news may cause the opposite.