EDM 310 Class Blog

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lessons from a Silly man

I have many soap-boxes, but I tend not to step on them and speak. I tend to keep my mouth shut, silent but screaming in frustration on the inside. I decided today that I would step up and say something and then go back to my business. I will quote lessons I learned from the silliest man I know. And no, it's not Dr. Strange! It's a different Dr...Dr. Seuss.

"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose!"
My First Order of Business: Apathy
The name of the blame game is half-assery. Doing something only partially well or at all just to say that it has been done, to receive your mark, to go on to the next thing. No actual thought or mental exercise has been performed. No accomplishment has been made. You simply followed the instructions and did what you were told. I have been guilty of this myself, we have all been guilty of this. But the consequences are disastrous. Yes, it's not as taxing. It's not as time consuming. But think about all the gears in your brain that are collecting dust? I have never met a person that I would ever classify as "incapable".  Dr. Seuss taught me that. We have the brains, we have the ability; we can choose which path we take. We can do more than is asked of us, more than is expected of us, more than is needed of us. We can impress, not others, but ourselves, with how well we exceed our duties and complete our chores. Every time I am tempted to only do things half-way, I confront this inclination with the remembrance that to do nothing, to do little, is always a choice. It may seem a small one, but if it becomes a habit, it can control your actions.

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple"
Another concern: Critical Thinking
What happens when we dwell in the land of Apathy too long? We lose not our ability, but our tendency , toward critical thinking. It's not as if we just forget how or we can't anymore, we become all too comfortable and familiar with taking the easy way out. Instead of being driven by curiosity and intellectual zealousness, we don't puzzle and we don't ponder- we just move along.
It's important to maintain a level of curiosity, to want to know the answers or to want to know the questions no matter what it takes. Even if it makes your brain hurt, what matters is that you don't just move past it.
"You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut"
As a Lab Assistant for EDM310, I have read a great deal of posts that do little more than summarize. What I challenge the students of EDM310 to do is to wear many different hats:
1. Be patient: Mull it over
"Think and wonder, wonder and think"
2. Be a pioneer: Ask the question,"Is there anything "new" I can bring to this?"
"It's opener, out there, in the wide, open air"
3. Be Curious George: If something interests you, go research it. Don't write about how technology facilitates research of facts and data and interesting things and forget to take advantage of them!
"The more things you read, the more things you'll know. The more that you know, the more places you'll go!"
4. Be different: Engage your creative side
"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere"
5. Be a Writer: Think about things like irony, satire, sarcasm, context, humor, clarity, word choice, grammar...
6. Be a critic: Consider what you just watched or read, what your assignment is, and tell us how this can be improved.
7. Be bold: Write and complete your assignments to be remembered, not just to get it done!
"Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered!"
8. Be you: Personal experience and opinion is good!
"Be who you are and say what you mean, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind"

"Step with care and great tact, and remember, life's a great balancing act"
I don't think I'm being totally unrealistic. I don't think any of this is too much to ask. Dr. Seuss wrote his books for children, as well as adults. If you're going to be a teacher, you can't teach Dr. Seuss if you aren't willing to give his words of encouragement and inspiration a "go". To teach is to lead, and to lead is to set an example. Life is a balancing act, but the tact and care is in the details. The more we pay attention, the more we step carefully, the more we are on guard against apathy and make pre-emptive strikes, the greater the act. It's no longer bad juggling, it's a gravity-defying performance. You go from being a "clown" to an "artist".

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it's not going to get better, it's not"
I hate writing with cliches. I hate appealing to the reader's conscience for an intended result. But I do believe that this is pretty important, so listen up. You probably know by now that as a teacher, you are going to be the only love and encouragement that some students see. You will be the one great example that brings them to the good side. Just imagine, if now, when what is placed before you is a plate to juggle and you drop it, what's gonna happen when you have three or four to juggle? Don't wait until you are a teacher to start setting an example, working hard, and being a thinker; any day is a good day to start. I know it's cliche to say that as a teacher, you are given the responsibility of making a difference, but it's true. Until you start caring an awful lot, nothing's going to change.
Caring leads to action, action causes reaction, chain reactions finally equal change.
To become even more trite and cliche, my grandma likes to correct me when I grumble and say that "caring is contagious, and so is whining".  I think she means that people react according to their environment. Don't be a part of the system of grumbling and whining that I sometimes fall into.

"Oh, the things you can find, if you don't stay behind!"
How does one ever expect to get ahead if you stay behind? Plan ahead. Make time. Don't procrastinate. Easy enough? Wrong. The thing I noticed about EDM310 when I took the class was that it is impossible for me to do my assignments on technology and not get caught up in it. It's a time warp. There's so much to click on and so many shiny things! Curiosity is great, but it was my worst enemy. My other classes fell behind because I got so excited about all the videos and Twitter and SMARTBoards and I couldn't get to a stopping point.
For those of you with the opposite problem, if you struggle with procrastination, I have found that I just have to lie to myself. I have to convince myself that I'm going to be entertained by doing my homework and find a way to stay engaged. If you believe that eventually you're going to find something riveting, it's a lot easier to press on than if you believe you're only going to want to jump off a building.

With all of this being said, I guess you can see that:
"You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who will decide where to go.."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Title IX: 40 Years Later, from a Nerd's Perspective

I'm taking on a topic I don't usually grace with my sparkling wit and cynicism. Sports.

But after reading an article in EdWeek I felt lead to add my opinion to something that Title IX; Presidents Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Barack H. Obama; American Association of University Women; National Federation of State High School Associations; The U.S. Census;  the Education Department's office for civil rights; EdWeek; New York City-based Women's Sports Foundation; all deemed worthy of diving into. Whew. So I guess it's worth my time :D
So this is the breakdown of what's going on:

""We can safely say, of all the areas Title IX covers—and it's key to remember it's more than athletics—athletics is probably the place where we've seen the most visible strides," said Lisa Maatz, the director of public policy and government relations for the Washington-based American Association of University Women" (Toporek).
I can see where this would be accomplished because, although I am no athlete myself, I do have an appreciation for football, baseball, soccer, and organized activity; and have seen the way that they bring people together. Strangers become acquaintances, rivals, and teammates. Students are transformed into heroes and role models. As data included in the article and timeline suggest, sports builds character. As indicated, studies suggest that those involved in sports were less likely to engage in drugs or fall into teen pregnancy. Perhaps it is because of all the long hours practicing, the hard work involved in athletic achievement, the high expectations connected to athletes, and the mindset that this is all too much to lose. Giving students something to strive for, and also something to lose seems to anchor them, to keep them from straying onto paths that may destroy their dreams.
While there aren't that many athletes out there who are role models, they are examples to student athletes that a lot of pressure is upon those who excel. It is a lesson to guard your character; that many eyes will be on you if you are in any position, athletic or otherwise. It takes a long time to build a reputation, but it can be destroyed with one photo of you holding a bong, one failed steroid drug test, one night out on the town.  It may not seem fair, it may seem we forget that they are humans too; but it is still a lesson that sacrifices come with success. 
These lessons are learned in playing sports. Perhaps this is one reason why "a 2002 survey from the Opperheimer Funds and MassMutual Financial found that more than 80 percent of high-level women business executives reported having played sports in their K-12 days" (Toporek). These women experienced, instead of being told, what it means to work hard, to sacrifice, to prioritize, to work alongside others, and to overcome differences. 
I, on the other hand, happen to be the artsy type. I would rather read than work out. I was the kid who was always picked last. Who found organized sports challenging and also boring. Who knows the rules to Quidditch and yet can't follow Football. Who appreciates ballet over activities other people might find "exciting". Who has the hand-eye coordination of a wet noodle. 
I was forced by my parents only a few times to play sports because it would make me more "well-rounded." They knew the benefits and lessons I would learn from sports even if I wasn't particularly gifted and didn't enjoy them. 
I see the use in sports but I don't personally wish to be prevailed upon to participate. I'm an intellectual. When I saw this article, I thought, what a waste of time! Why are we so concerned with why girls aren't playing sports?...maybe we just aren't interested. 
But there's a reason for that. A few pieces of legislation, court cases, and studies can't reverse the many, many years of stigma placed on feminity and organized activity. I'm an old soul, you might say. In the literature I have always been drawn to, the women don't tackle, lift weights, hit line-drives (or even foul balls), kick goals, or shoot hoops. Only in the last few centuries have women even been allowed to have an opinion, an occupation, free speech, the right to vote, an independent income, important things like this. The women who fought for these things were seen as visionaries, and also as lunatics. 
But the women of literature, the ones we remember and read about, were concerned with female concerns such as marriage and family and sometimes adventure and education as long as it didn't stray too far from the carefully drawn lines of a capitalist, patriarchal society. But there were those few brave writers who pushed the boundaries bit by bit until people started to see women as more than wives and mothers, occasionally teachers or nurses. Women were once viewed in black and white terms: spinster or wife. Eventually it became acceptable to be a wife and mother who boasted accomplishments deeper than needlework or playing the pianoforte. They wanted more. 

In gaining some of the same rights that men had, they started to see themselves as more equals with men. Why couldn't they shoot guns or shoot hoops? This is not to say that they wanted to shoot like Annie Oakley or be better at predominantly male activities than men were, they just wanted to try, and without ridicule. Much like my first attempts at hitting a baseball in front of my star-athlete brother. 

The waves of the feminist movement made great strides for women in this country, but history still remains. Biology still remains.  Not all women are made for sports. The message has been for centuries that women are supposed to be beautiful and demure, not strong or athletic. This is part of the reason for the "gender discrimmination in sports" mentioned in the article. The "text" of today is the media. According to the article, The New York Times and its influence played a major part in Title IX getting passed. The media now features more campaigns of strong, confident women.  On the opposite hand, the media also projects images of women that are hard to live up to. It is my belief that once our society stops pushing ideals onto young girls that are hard to live up to and replaces them with ones that are more realistic, girls will want to play sports.  It will be popular to be an athlete, to be strong, to be muscular. It needs to be common practice that we embrace the fierceness and masculinity of athletics, and our femininity and girliness at the same time. No one should have to feel like they are forced to pick one or the other.  And we should be teaching them that there will always be nay-sayers, bullies, name-callers, and hypocrites, but you have to be strong enough not to listen to them. No one ever did anything with everyone's full approval. Your self-respect matters more.
 We shouldn't be so surprised to see Olympic athletes who also look like supermodels, by god, they have earned their killer bodies! We shouldn't expect pro athletes to look manly or unattractive.  It needs to be recognized that women survived through the ages outsmarting men, gaining strength, exuding confidence, gaining wisdom....as I say to many who doubt me because of my stature: "I am petite, but I am not weak!" Just because we were once deemed the "weaker sex" does not mean we are. I prefer the term "the fairer sex". Anything you can do, we look better doing it. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you motivate young women. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coal Mining

In the video, Learn to Change, Change to Learn , Education was ranked in 55th place by the United States Department of Commerce by its IT intensiveness. This is below coal mining. Coal mining?
.........Really? Really?
We don't even use coal that much anymore, from what I know. We use our brains much more, don't we? 
......Or do we? 
Maybe that's why Education gets ranked so low. Because we aren't using our brains to reason that not placing an importance on education is doing a disservice to our children's futures.  We can't keep sending them the message of "be all you can be" and "believe in your dreams" and other hoopla if all we tell them is to "get an education" and "work hard". What if "education" does not suit itself to their needs? They will, in turn, have as little respect for the institution as they feel it did for them. 
I think of all the people who devalue education, and knowledge, and then I think of all the people who are working and striving so hard to bring back that value.  For centuries, the idea was perpetuated that knowledge is categorized of the world, of the workplace, of books, etc. You receive the knowledge that suits your station in life- you learn a trade, you learn about the world or about people, or you learn about books and become an esoteric lunatic with crazy hair and wear clothes that look like pajamas or some combination of these. These are the stereotypes.

big wig politicians

esoteric professor with crazy hair and silk pajamas

They still exist.
Even though we don't need them anymore because we live in an age where information is cheap and easily obtained, portable, shareable, consumable. 
For example, in the British Modernist novel, "Howard's End" by E.M. Forster, the young character of Leonard Bast strives so diligently and hopes so fervently to acquire knowledge, to be an "accomplished" gentleman of the world to little avail. His poverty did not allow him the time or resources to read as much or as often as the young ladies with unlimited means or leisure time.  Only now, if Leonard Bast was alive today, he would have little problem overcoming his station in life with his clever wit, resourcefulness, and his determination to be knowledgeable. This digital age facilitates learning and acquisition of concepts like no other has previously.

So, with all of this going on today, why do we still not value education? Why do we not open our eyes and see that learning doesn't have to be just a concept anymore? (That learning is not the Holy Grail, but it is a quest). 
Why do we still say that "those who can't do, teach?" when it is so obvious that imparting knowledge is one of the most difficult professions? Why are we losing respect for our educators? 
One answer is that, if information is cheap, the level of value placed on it goes down. It's like "the law of supply and demand".  Or, as I think it should be referred to in this case, "the law of complacency".  We don't value what we have easy access to.  Also, we don't give teachers much thought because we don't give knowledge much thought. People who don't know better assume things like: "It shouldn't be that hard to stand in front of a board and talk to a bunch of kids and then give them a quiz". *Cue collective eye-roll*
I then think of students who want to be a teacher when they grow up. I believe that to want to be a teacher shows an insight that knowledge is valuable, that information is not cheap (no matter it's monetary cost), and that instruction has to include leadership of these two, modeling of appropriate skills when using technology, and an understanding that you can tell students something fifteen times but they might not get it until they can see it, touch it, or experiment with it.
 It also doesn't help that the media (from local news to national news and social media from Facebook to blogs)  puts teachers on blast for deplorable things without acknowledgement to all of the revolutionary, insightful, useful, and compassionate things that they do.
This is one downside to our age.
We are in an age of "info-tainment". We want to be entertained; we don't want to hear about good things because "good" isn't any fun. It's a scandal that draws readers, consumers, and viewers. What is forgotten is that this has consequences and one consequence is that bashing destroys credibility. The credibility of not just one rotten teacher in particular, or a few burnt-out ones, but all teachers in general. 

Why is coal mining placed above education? Coal is heat. Mining for coal turns a profit. Education is not profitable. In fact, it's more of a drain than it is profitable.  
Most students look back on their years in school or they arrive at school in the morning, and would prefer all day slaving away in a mine to being at school. An education is supposed to be the expansion of the mind, the acquiring of new ideas, the synthesis of new ideas with old ones; but a typical day in a school will exhibit more brain-dead-seeming students than thriving, excited ones. 
coal mining children
The institution of education will turn a profit when it develops an environment that highlights students strengths while improving weaknesses; allows for the use of creative and unique ideas/projects; and implements information not as "downloadable" but as collaborative, interactive, and shareable. Our education system needs to stop sending the message that only what is in a student's textbook, on the SMARTBoard, in the lesson plan, or on the test is what's useful. There is endless information to be discovered if only a person wants to know it and looks for it. 
Without students, there is no school.  But without school, there are still students.  The school comes to the student through the use of multimedia, technology, the internet, and electronic devices.  The student does not have to be at school to learn. 
Our education system will only continue to improve the more everyone (and I am including myself in this) is aware of what is happening. I'm not calling our society a totally capitalist one, but it is driven by industry. If education, like many other industries, does not adapt its goals, products, market place, business strategies and practices, transport of goods, marketing image, and last but not least, its workers, then the consumer will not be interested.  Just like they were shopping for tooth paste, consumers (students) don't really have a choice whether to buy or not to buy, but they might obtain it in a different way according to their wants and needs.  Everyone has to brush their teeth just as everyone has to go to school. (Refusing to brush your teeth isn't illegal, but it should be.)
kid with bubble that says that everyone knows learning must be serious and difficult and you must remain seated at all times with no fun allowed

What I'm saying is, the fault lies not squarely on "society" for education being so low on their radar. It's because of the messages they have been given, the experiences they have had, that caused this. If education were to take itself seriously in a different way, it would yield better results.  If teachers, administrators, super-intendents, legislators, curriculum-makers, publishers, were to approach their "industry" in a more up-to-date frame of mind and with more consideration to their "consumer", you would not even have to be reading this.  You, the consumer/student would know that you are valuable. You would know that your loyalty to the brand is valuable. You would know that the "product" was designed with you in mind, and that your own future was what you and others (i.e.:those who led you to invest in the first place) invested in.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just a little inspiration...

I just wanted to tell you guys a few things.
First, find a way to SOMEHOW enjoy your assignments. They are meaningful if you let them be. They will have an impact on you if you let them. They are designed that way. But first you have to find a way to enjoy it. Even if it makes you grit your teeth and curse, there is still something in it to inspire you. Whether it is the simple fact that you got through it and did your best, there is a lesson in everything.

Second, after reading some of your blog posts, I feel like I have gotten to know you. Every time you see things clearer or find validation for the career you have chosen, the ice around my heart melts a little more (haha). Each time you find something to get excited about, your reader (me) gets excited too.

Third, I would just like to point out that the C4T are important (not to overstate or over-simplify the questionably obvious). Be sure to find a way to connect them with the ideas you already have of yourself and for yourself about the type of teacher that you want to become. I hope that a lot of you are connecting yourselves to the C4T assignment. Hopefully, you will find this as an outlet and will keep blogging about your adventures in teaching (or student teaching). Please keep me as a contact on Twitter and Tweet me in the event that you do so. I would love to read what you have to say and keep up with you :) I am sure others will too.

I hope that you are making the most of this journey in EDM310. I see that some of you are really getting into some of your posts and I hope you do not get discouraged. We are always here to help and to encourage in the lab! Tweet me or find me in the lab and I would be glad to help proofread, give a short grammar/writing lecture, or just talk you through your "brick wall".
I am involved in a project as part of my parents' church where all members of the congregation have been asked to perform small acts of kindness wherever their talents lie. Mine happen to be in assisting, talking, encouraging, and also in Writing and English. I have also endeavored to become a more
selfless person and a better friend to others. Helping you, helps me grow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oh, The English Language. Thou art such a bad word.

"The Chaos" by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trinite
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!

I left out several lines but isn't the English Language just astounding? It can be so confusing, has so many rules, and so many expetions. If you ever wondered why English is the hardest language to learn, you don't now. Know you now. I mean..now you know. :D
And I bet you feel special for knowing it so well. Like an old friend!
...Or just aweful for butchering it so often like it isn't you first language or anything :P
I wish the English language had more interesting characters
"There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living. The other should teach us how to live." - James Truslow Adams

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Make a Video About it....

Ok, Newcomers to EDM310! If there was anything you would like for the staff to make a helpful/useful video about, what would it be?!! It can also be humorous. I'm just feeling like making a video to help out with all the confusion! If I don't get loads of tweets and comments I'm going to be super upset, you guys! Lemme know :D
Apparently, this....
....is all I ever do and so should have no problem finding the time to make a handy dandy....videooo!! You are welcome.