Thursday, October 30, 2008

21st Century "Keys" to Success...

I've found it.  That's right. Amidst this tumult of uncertainty that is our current world, I've found the answer.  There is apparently one determining factor of our students' success in the 21st century workforce.  Would you like to know what it is?

Despite increased globalization; the need to prepare students to access, evaluate, synthesize, and build upon information and media; and the drive to promote Creativity, Innovation, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Communication, and Collaboration, the curriculum of our district's Computer Information Technology program hinges on Keyboarding. I'm not kidding. This is apparently very serious stuff. One teacher commented at a recent curriculum meeting that this is "becoming a management and discipline issue at the high school." Wow. It seems that students, who have formed bad keyboarding habits despite intensive training at the Elementary level, are resorting to the technique that works best for them when teachers turn their backs.  Huh...  The nerve of some people's children...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Down to Business...

Okay, so you haven't heard from me for awhile because I''ve been a bit pre-occupied with the harsh realities of public education.  Specifically, the reality that the policy makers involved often have such little knowledge of the realm they're overseeing.

Economics or Steel?


I teach students a variety of technology related concepts and applications with in my seventh and eighth grade course called "Technology".  The course centers on the following skills:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Information Literacy and the Dreaded Citation Packet

The following is an excerpt from an academic paper I’ve been working on, hence the rather formal citations etc.


As a teacher of technology, I am very interested in the “new literacies” related to information management, often referred to as Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, and Network Literacy. I recently read Judy Salpeter's article, “Make Students Info Literate” in the May 22, 2008 issue of “Techlearning” magazine. In the article, Salpeter succinctly makes several points that I've been trying to make with colleagues for the last four years.


Monday, June 16, 2008

How has technology affected my students, my classroom, and my teacher professionalism?

When I read the first three paragraphs of The Teachers Mission, quoted below, I had to give a brief but hearty “Amen!”
In many schools across our nation teachers feel that their opinions about what and how to teach are ignored. Others, far removed from the classroom, make decisions on how teachers are trained, what tools they use in their classroom, and the methods that work best with children.

Teachers are introduced each year to a plethora of educational buzz words. They are expected to cover the curriculum at a pace to accommodate multiple classroom abilities that may have ranges as extreme as eight grade levels. They are expected to practice classroom management skills coping with special needs along with those of their regular students and nurturing all at the same pre-set pace.

Adding to this work load are state, local, and district standards for learning, state competency testing, new technology standards for students and teachers, and constant pressure from government officials, parents, and even religious groups to improve education, reform the classroom, and better develop our nation’s children. As many as half of all new teachers respond by leaving the profession finding more pay and less stress elsewhere.


This has been the case in my experience, particularly in my Communication Arts classroom, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to move into the Technology teaching position. As a radical constructionist, who strongly believes in providing an authentic experience for students where they “think critically, solve problems, analyze sources, make good judgments. gather, sort, internalize, and share information with others” (The Teacher's Mission). As I made the transition from a class centered on PSSA Preparation to one built around multimedia authoring, Internet research, online collaboration, and desktop publishing, I experienced a welcome role-shift from what I had been so uncomfortable with in my CA classroom since the NCLB change back to the complex, multi-faceted role of Radical Teacher. I've never been able to succinctly capture this role in language. Typically, I have referred people to multiple articles and resources on the web by people like Alfie Kohn. As I read the material from Simkins, Cole, Tavalin, and Means (2002), I was provided with a very accurate word picture of what it is I do, or at the very least attempt, in the classroom, which is more than guide on the side. Incidentally, they did not have a magical term to sum this up, but rather triangulated the position of this concept by attacking it from multiple sides.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rest In Peace Gary....

A great man has died today.

Gygax, 'Dungeons and Dragons' Co-Creator, Dies


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87901434

Listen Now [3 min 55 sec]
With co-creator Dave Arneson, E. Gary Gygax developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974.

With co-creator Dave Arneson, E. Gary Gygax developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. Gygax died Monday at age 69. AP/Family photo
All Things Considered, March 4, 2008 · Imagine a mournful horn echoing across thousands of fantasy worlds: E. Gary Gygax, the co-creator of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, died Wednesday morning. He was 69.

Gary Gygax was an icon to fans of the game, many of whom would show up at his home in Lake Geneva, Wis.

What began as a fantasy game published in book form in the early 1970s, eventually morphed and tumbled onto kitchen tables and dorm room floors. Players assumed the character of elves and dwarves, magicians and swordsmen, and confronted the primal conflict between good and evil.

"D&D," as fans call it, is the granddaddy of popular online games that attract hundreds of thousands of gamers to the Internet today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lessons in Living like Lions: Crossroads Experiences and Living Radically

"I’m Hub McCann. I’ve fought in two world wars, and countless smaller ones on three continents. I’ve led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I’ve seen the headwaters of the Nile and tribes of natives no white men had ever seen before. I’ve won and lost a dozen fortunes, killed many men, and loved only one woman with a passion a flea like you could never begin to understand. That’s who I am.”  (Hub McCann, Second Hand Lions)


hub.jpgUncle Hub, from the film
Second Hand Lions, is everything that makes men say, "that's awesome!  That's a man!"  Don't get me wrong, there's a lot about this character tat reflects a sense of being lost and lacking purpose that I don't aspire to, but he does know who he is.  If someone were to ask me the question, "Who are you?", I am often unsure of how I would respond.  I've been thinking about this more and more being a new father, knowing that I too must give the “What Every Boy Needs to Know About Being a Man” speech.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Longing for Lugu

Lugu Lake

I was watching a bit of Public TV on a recent weekend, because I'm a dork who loves public television.  I was watching Martin Yan's China.  This is basically a cooking show in which Yan visits locations in China, gives you a bit of cultural and geographical history and then cooks a local dish.  This particular week he was high in the mountains of southern China, visiting beautiful Lugu Lake, where women rule the roost. A seven-hour drive from the nearest major city, the people of this region are known for both their hospitality and their food.  You get the idea. 

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Going Green: On second thought, make it a cheeseburger...

armageddoncheeseburger.jpg 

Okay, today I want to address one Elephant in the room, that big "global-warming-destruction-of-the-earth-as-we-know-it" thing. Basically, we've passed the point where there is any debate at all that it is indeed happening.  The climate is changing, and it's going to equate to a bit more than minor discomfort for most of us.  The thing is, I don't think our society locally or globally is willing to undergo a little discomfort now to prevent severe tragedy later.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of folks are doing their parts.  You may be one of them.  Maybe you use cloth grocery bags, high efficiency light bulbs, or maybe you even drive a hybrid.  That's just awesome.  Incidentally, when was the last time you had a cheeseburger

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Ubuntu Studio Desktop adventures

After fixing my screen resolution and solving my internet woes with Comcast (bad connector that took 5 months and 3 visits to discover whilst they tried to blame my modem, my router, and finally my operating system), I've begun the hard task of setting up my desktop environment, a home network for file and print sharing, and getting some entertainment necessities loaded.

First of all, let's talk about desktop eye-candy.  After much pain and suffering, I decided to go with BerylCompiz was buggy and crazy.  I really don't give a darn about cubes and desktop switchers.  I just wanted a transparent appearance for for my windows, which you can see below.

mystudio108.png

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

RPGs in school?? Rock!

I recently read Dennis Southwood’s October article, “It's Not Just a Game—It's Skills for Life” from Educators' eZine. I know, I’m a bit behind on my reading, but I have a three-month-old, which I consider an ample excuse.

Southwood begins by posing the following question.

Q: Your students are most likely to be learning the real-world skills that employers demand when they are:

a) In the classroom, following the lessons in the textbook.
b) At home, completing assigned homework.
c) On line, playing World of Warcraft.
d) On a class field trip, visiting the offices of a local corporation.

The answer is, of course, WOW (World of Warcraft). More and more, educators, scientists, and business executives are apparently coming to believe that such games require players to master skills in demand by today's employers, such as critical thinking, team building, problem solving, and collaboration.

world_of_warcraft_1.jpg