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Archive for May, 2009

Just for Fun

     This is a Word Sift of my blog over the last few months.   You can do this for any document by going to http://www.wordsift.com/ and pasting in a text selection.   I’m pleased that student was the most common word because that is the real focus!

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Digital Native?

© Konstantin Inozemtsev – istockphoto.com

The last course of my program, titled Literacy Learning as Social Practice, is going to be terrific.   A book for the course is one that I might have bought on my own – Lankshear and Knobel (2006),  Digital Literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning.  Among the issues posed this week was the difference between digital natives – individuals who have grown up in the personal computing age, and digital immigrants – typically older than 35 and uncomfortable with computer technology and the new social spaces that have been created.

I am old enough that I learned to use a slide rule in high school chemistry.   I learned to program using paper punchcards including assignments that were programs to format text for printing – a rudimentary word processor.   I remember when personal computers had a drive for a program disk and one for a data disk BUT no hard drive.   I remember the first time I saw VisiCalc run on an IBM PC and watched a number in a formula matrix change instantly because another number had changed – the first spreadsheet program.

I fall into the age category of a digital immigrant but as someone who has been there since Commodore 64 and TRS-80 computers were the state-of-the-art, I am more than comfortable – some might say addicted.   One of our class projects is to investigate a Web 2.0 technology in which we have not previously participated.   Most of the Web 2.0 technologies suggested on the syllabus were included in my list of literacy events over the last 24 hours.   None of the ones left on the list intrigued me.

Then I came across this post about the use of laptops in the classroom written by Dean Groom.    He is an “educator of educators” specializing in technology who writes one of my favorite blogs.   In that post, he stated that educators should, “Use Diigo as a forum, a learning management system and an exercise book!” – everyday!  What I have learned about Diigo is fascinating, it seems to be a combination of Facebook, Google Groups, Wikispaces, Diig, Google Reader, and more – with the predominant feature being the sharing of bookmarks.  At least that is how I understand it so far – stay tuned.

I love an adventure and am grateful that my cyberspaces include educators from all over the world.

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Hiatus – A deep breath

My Front Porch

     I walked graduation on Saturday – the use of the term walked designates that I am mostly finished.   I have one three-credit course left and that starts tomorrow.    Today, I am taking deep breaths and trying to excavate my life.   There is a huge backlog of projects and unfinished business that needs my attention and I’m having trouble staying focused.     I also need to finish collecting my work to complete my portfolio.   Oh, that and writing cover letters, polishing resume, and wishing that my CT would write my last letter of reference so I can start applying for jobs.   It’s hard to be patient and not bother somebody you hope will say nice things about you.

     I’ve been doing a bit of gardening and enjoying the flowers that return on their own every year.   You can see more pictures here.

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5%

     One of our assignments this semester was to spend 5% of our effort for class doing something of our own choice.   I went to a STANYS (Science Teachers Association of New York State) workshop.

     I attended a presentation by a veteran Chemistry teacher from Greece, NY who uses microchemistry labs in her classroom.   I’m excited about this for many reasons;  the use of less chemicals reduces student exposure, environmental impact, and laboratory expenses.   I had been researching this idea in various journals but most of articles ended with “prepare your NMR tube for analysis” – obviously not for a high school chemistry lab.     This teacher had several lab activities done on acetate sheets in which the students observe precipitation, color changes, etc.   This is even simpler than using spot plates which are harder to clean.   She also handed out her worksheets on some of the core Regents Chemistry topics.

     I fortunate to sit with her at dinner where she outlined her student activity to introduce dimensional analysis.  This is an essential skill because units are manipulated constantly in Regents Chemistry but this topic can be dry and boring to teach.  She has the students use cash register tapes to develop their own unit using the classroom length or width as their primary unit.  They then measure other items based on their scale and report those in their lab report.  This also works as an icebreaker because the students have to split the primary unit into ten sections which requires a coordinated effort and agreement on how to accurately do that without a ruler.

     As another portion of the 5%, I’d like to mention a page attached to this blog titled “Links Worth Saving”.   This is a resource page with links to other blog posts – mostly inside my graduate school cohort, but with a few external references – that contain information that will be useful in my future practice.

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