Thing 4

I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon working on Thing 4.  It has been great to see the array of how differently blogs can be used in the educational setting.  I have formed many opinions and ideas about how to incorporate the best parts and information shared on these blogs into my courses… Here are some of my thoughts on the blogs I’ve looked at so far…

Why I Don’t Assign Homework dy/dan (Mr. Meyer)

I was amazed at this blog entry.  I think it is a greart assessment on how educational teaching methods are changing.  Its very key to recognize the comment by Marcie Hull which talks about the lack of home support.  As a student, growing up, I had a great deal of support- my mother was always home in the evenings, making sure we got all our homework done, I had older siblings that would help if I needed it.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case in a lot of American homes.  With the number of single parents raising children, parents that work multiple jobs in order to keep a roof over head and food on the table, the amount of support children receive when returning from school is dwindling.  Its important to keep these changing times in mind when we are looking at how we teach what we teach.  A school psychologist friend stated something very similar as the commenter Marcie Hull did just a few weeks ago.  She mentioned that parents in her district send their kids to school for the required time per day to learn and many times, when homework is sent home, those parents often lack the knowledge to help their children.  Teaching at a boarding school, our students time is very structured and they are built in 2 hours of study hall each evening to get the required work done in each of their 5-7 courses, this limits each course to 15-20 minutes of work.    Its interesting to hear about the reduction in an attempt to reduce the workload on my often overworked students.

I’m beginning to learn the importance of alternative exercises that I can incorporate into my courses that could potentially reduce the out of class workload on my students.  In doing so, there may be some students that may fall through the cracks without consistent assessment, but if there are alternative ways for them to learn the material, it may be even more beneficial.  I’ve also begun to ask myself “What do I really want my students to learn from my class?”  As a chemistry teacher, I’ve come to the sad realization that not every child will want a career in science and as such, I need to be more flexible.  Instead of having students learn things and regurgitating their rote knowledge, I would much rather have my students understand how chemistry affects their daily lives and teach them tools to help them understand the science at a consumer level.  On the other hand, its important to provide enough of a foundation to give students who may be interested in the science a deeper understanding.  I’ve begun to think of ways that I could change my syllabus and course outline in order to reflect my changing ideas about this.

Also important is the ease of internet access.  As accessible as high speed internet is these days in cities and suburban areas, living in the mountains of northeast Georgia does have its limitations because some of the day student population only has access to dial-up service.  Despite this possible challenge, there is a great usefulness in utilizing the internet and Web 2.0 in my course and I’ll learn to roll with the punches as they come up.

Myth of the Digital Native Betchablog (Chris Betcher)

I think that Exhibit A discussed in the blog pinpoints many students to a T.  While preparing for the schools first science fair, I witnessed many students creativity when they googled “science fair projects” and unfortunately, in many cases, that amount of creativity lasted through the entire project.  As educators, we must take responsibility to help teach these students the proper use of google and make them aware of the tools that we have at hand- many of which even I didn’t recognize the full utility of until now.  We owe it to ourselves and more importantly, our students to share our knowledge.

Silent Reading Time Mark’s Edtech Blog

Wow.  What a concept- silent reading time with blogs.  It is an interesting analysis given what kids really do read these days.  I’m fairly certain that many of my students have spent much more time reading Harry Potter or Twilight than reading the textbook needed for my class.  Wouldn’t it be a great way to keep them interested in the subject at hand if given a list of blogs to check out and read related to the course? I’m quite interested in incorporating something similar in my course- perhaps on a monthly basis a computer lab day will be scheduled for such purpose.

Teaching Brevity Students 2.0

Interesting post and I’d agree that being concise in your thoughts is preferable but I’m often at odds with some of the English faculty in this regard when I require concise lab reports to be written and am often handed pages of fluff, where the word exorbitant is exchanged for the word large, when large would be perfectly suitable.  Brevity is a great skill to learn in these cases.  However, brevity does not mean text speech which is also something I see when I assign writing assignments.  Text speech is fine for twitter and texting, but students should know when and how to correctly write complete sentences.

I’ve looked at some other posts too, but these stood out and left their marks.  I’m enjoying the chance to see the different styles of blogging.  I enjoy the blogs that discuss different alternative teaching methods- the upside down popquiz, the no-homework post linked above.  In addition, I think its great to see some actual course blogs- Extreme Biology, Duck Diaries.  I’ve never been a fan of reading nonfiction books, but reading short blogs regarding the concepts that are important or interesting to me is rather enjoyable.  Maybe its because of their brevity, but I have explored more posts by some of the same authors that were linked and I look forward to reading more.  As the course moves forward, I’m interested to see how my ideas of what I technology I can incorporate into my classes and teaching methods.

2 thoughts on “Thing 4

  1. I love your idea about silent reading time of blogs related to class content… especially if your students are reflecting, connecting and sharing ideas from their reading on their own blogs. I wonder if it would make their learning “stickier.”

  2. I loved this course — partly because of all the tools that allowed me to be more efficient in keeping up with my field. I am glad more of us are getting exposed to all these tools.
    To your readings: All year long, I have preached to my English students that they should be ‘specific’ in their writings. I get a ton of fluff, too, and I think that I understand why. I believe that many of our kids learned somewhere that if they wrote long, reasonably coherent pieces that they could get credit. Hemingway said that most writing suffered from a lack of ‘simple, declarative sentences’. Good writing represents good thinking, and that is what we are all trying to encourage. Fluff certainly is not good thinking — unless we have taught that BS wins the prize. I wonder if we could work some sort of collaborative training about writing lab reports?
    Your comment about the things learned getting this first science fair together hit an important point — we have to work with our students to continually face up to the new tools that the internet brings to us. I don’t think that we can do the evaluations alone as teachers; we don’t have the time. Instead, we should incorporate our students and their opinions. I am not quite sure how to do that task, but I think that we have to figure it out.
    Keep up the good work. I will be following your blog. It is fun to see what you are thinking about.

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