July 13, 2011

Brain Rules

I thoroughly enjoyed this video and I found many of the points to be intriguing. It might be easier for me to comment if I break this up a bit….

exercise – The point Dr. Medina made about exercise making the brain work better was extremely interesting to me. My daughter, who is going to be a sophomore in high school next year, is an athlete. She has ALWAYS gotten better grades when she is “in season”. Fortunately, she plays sports almost year-round! I always thought her grades were better because she was forced to manage her time more efficiently (she literally would go from high school practice to club practice, with barely any time for homework, but she fit it in). When she has a month off from a sport, her grades slide. I never thought that perhaps the exercise itself was stimulating her brain. That is a new concept for me for certain.

– One-third to one-half of the brain is devoted to visual processing?! Wow! Add to that Dr. Medina’s claim that the brain desires a moving rotating image? I wonder if this is why I prefer an actual class vs. a virtual class? Just a thought.

emotional stability of the home – I will never forget being on a playground when my now 15 year old daughter was about 3 years old. Another mom was telling me how her daughter (also 3 years old) was learning french and taking some bizarre art class. She looked at me and asked in a somewhat snobbish way, “What language is your daughter learning?” If you know me at all, my response won’t surprise you…I said, “Well, my daughter is focusing her studies on mastering English at the moment.” Conversation was over. Anyway, I do think it is silly how parents push their children to learn, learn, learn facts and figures. I agree with Dr. Medina that emotional stability is key. I would argue with his point that if you want to help your kids succeed, go home and love your spouse (I’m paraphrasing). I know of many single-parent households in which love and emotional stability abounds.

sleep and teenagers – Why can’t someone figure this out??? My daughter gets on a bus at 6:30! My younger sons have NO problem getting up early, but for her, it is torture. I really wish someone would wise up and get the elementary school children to school early, and let the teenagers sleep-in. Not every child is wired the same way, I get that. My nephew (the one who just got married) has always gone to bed early (he’s in college and is in bed by 10:00 for sure….he does run for U. of Illinois, so they have to run super early, but still…) and gotten up at 5:30 or so (without an alarm). Generally, however, I would say teenagers stay up late and function much better after 8:00 a.m.

Interesting video for certain. I’ll check out the book after this semester is over!

July 12, 2011

Virtual Class Reflections…

Obviously, since I was in Chicago for a wedding, this virtual class idea worked very well for me. I know others were also joining in from out of town (or out of the country!). It was amazing that we could all “be together(-ish)” without being in the same room.

That said (here I go again), I found it a bit difficult to follow the conversations. I would type something in, and by that point, I had missed ten comments from my classmates. In my opinion, it became a bit frenetic. The one thing you don’t get in a virtual class such as this is taking turns. I feel as though I missed some interesting discussions because it was just moving too quickly and everyone was typing/talking simultaneously. I still prefer face-to-face communication, but I appreciate how this method can be beneficial particularly when people are geographically separated.

Anyway, those are my thoughts…it was really nice to hear from Kathy in London!!! It is amazing how these tools can pseudo bring us together.

July 11, 2011

Please indulge me….

I have to be honest…I am “crashing” trying to do my digital story and my unit. In searching for material, I came across many letters that my father wrote to me. He died in 2005 at the age of 88. This will get me no points, but I think (I’m biased) it is lovely. For a bit of background, my father was a radio/t.v. broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds in the 60’s and 70’s. He then went on to be a bank president. All he ever wanted to do was write. I’d like him to be published via this Blog. I hope you’ll indulge me with grace.

This is from his journal (this written shortly before he died):

During the past twenty-four hours I have been thinking about what the formula might be for achieving old age.

There isn’t any.

Only by the Grace of God does one become an octogenarian. I didn’t have one thing to say about it. I have lasted no longer, nor will I live a second longer, than pleases the Almighty. Sometimes, far more than occasionally, it seems that a long life is not a gift of Grace. The trip becomes more difficult and more painful by the moment. I could not have determined otherwise. Good people who led exemplary lives are no longer with us. Cowards, criminals, dissipaters, rascals, rogues, and tyrants have lived longer than seemed possible or even fair. I may be proof that, “The good die young”.

Reminiscing is part of the baggage with which we hit those about us over the head. It is not to be helped. There’s only one way to look: “back”; there’s not even a path up ahead.

Reminiscing is fun because it is very selective in distilling out only those things which we choose to recall because they constituted “the good old’ days”. Don’t knock it. If you live long enough, these will be the good old days.

What is so unbelievable about those days is that they were so shockingly different. This is true for each succeeding generation. It’s not so much what we did in comparison to today; it’s what we didn’t do. Couldn’t do.

Anyone under fifty cannot even imagine a life without television, computers, jet planes, automobiles, moon landing, and laser surgery. Let me tell you some of those words hadn’t even been coined yet and those that had been were used by kooks and comic book writers. Buck Rogers, Dick Tracy and wireless communication had as much credibility as Snow White or Little Red Riding Hood. They were mind games in the world of the impossible. I know for sure that my kids are not interested in nor impressed by the real facts that I, an upper middle class kid by material standards, lived in a home with no radio, no telephone, no automobile (there were only three in town). We had electricity, but we didn’t rely on it. In every room, we had gas mantles which we had to turn to too often. What was a refrigerator? A zipper? Cellophane? Nylon? Basketballs and footballs which you don’t have to blow up by mouth and then lace by hand? You mean you live on a street that isn’t a dirt road? Let me tell you, kids, some things you don’t want to hear about those “Good Ol’ Days”. You mean you never heard of ink wells? Button hooks? Panty waists and BVD’s?

Oh yes, things are different! But are they better? You betcha! But I don’t believe that all the things we have now were invented by increasingly brilliant people. They simply uncovered them. They were just waiting to make your “Good Ol’ Days” something to talk about tomorrow.

That is what the man said…..

Respectfully submitted on behalf of Edward John Kennedy Jr.

…now he’s published : )

July 5, 2011

I suppose I was (am?) a curmudgeon

I’m reconsidering my “I Fold” post just a bit. I have learned quite a few things from the social media if you add YouTube to the mix. Perhaps I was thinking too narrowly of what constitutes social media. Some of what I have learned is related to my personal life, and some is related to my studies for this M.Ed….I think I’ll stick with the professional.

The first unit I ever did for this program was about Ancient Greece. I was really interested in learning about Archimedes. I love this YouTube video about how to create an Archimedes’ water screw. I used it in my unit before (and plan to again for this course), and my son used it along with two of his classmates to design their project for the science fair this year. It’s just fun to watch young children explore, and I think this video shows that….

June 28, 2011

I Fold…

I’m not really sure I even understand completely what encompasses “social media,” but I will at least attempt to respond to our assignment this week…

I do not Facebook or Twitter, nor does anyone in my immediate family (and I have a feeling if I polled my extended family, they would say the same thing). I think at least a few people in the cohort know that I have three children: 15, 12, and 6 years old. My daughter has a cellphone and an e-mail address (both recently acquired), but that’s about it. I have a very cheap, pay-as-you-go cellphone from Target that I bought about 2 years ago. My husband has a Blackberry through work (and in my opinion, it is a nuisance…can’t we just go on vacation without e-mails from work???? Read the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch if you haven’t already for some perspective).

We are a very low-tech family. We don’t have cable (gasp!) and really don’t miss it unless the World Cup is going on (now for the women!). My husband, who loves photography, only fairly recently purchased a digital camera (two of my children beat him to the punch!). Perhaps in some ways, I am starting to see this as a bit of a generational issue….

My father was born in 1917 and my mother was born in 1927. I grew up on what you would call a gentleman’s farm in the suburbs of Cincinnati. We had dogs, sheep, burros (at one point…), ducks, and at times, chicken. We lived on 20+ acres, and our property included a fairly small pond, but it was good enough as a place to swim in the summer and ice skate in the winter. I guess I’m really old school at heart. I loved those days. We almost never watched T.V….we were too busy making a mess of the barn and generally, having fun.

Soooo…this was supposed to be about social media. I have to admit, I have really enjoyed connecting with my classmates via this Blog and via e-mail. Does that count? In some ways, I am looking forward to this class being over because I see how this whole thing can be a bit addictive. I want to get back to hiking, reading, etc…

June 25, 2011

Great Stories from Spring Hill Students….

The Fox Family Plays Together

What the Polar Bear Learned from its Dream

June 23, 2011

Technology and sports

I can’t seem to get a link for this article, but Fred Bowen wrote an interesting article in the Kids Post section of the Washington Post today about how technology has affected sports. It’s an interesting read. I’ll try to send a link, but in the meantime….page C8 of the Washington Post.

Yeah!!! Got the link along with a really nice e-mail from the author!


June 22, 2011

Chapter 8 Revisited

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Chapter 8  (Media Literacy) and I thought Frank Baker made some really important points. He noted, appropriately, that being media savvy is not a new concept, but with the onslaught of information available in the 21st century, we need to be even more discerning as media consumers.

My husband is a history buff (in a big way) and he loves to collect books about political propaganda. My coffee table is littered with books about political propaganda, and he has one really interesting book (in my opinion) about photographs taken (and then altered) in Stalin’s Russia (The Commissar Vanishes by David King). Media manipulation and falsification of photography is by no means a new thing. I am sure most of you saw the photograph taken in the White House situation room the night Osama bin Laden was found and killed  (our friend, Nick Rasmussen, was in the photo!). As you likely know, the newspaper Der Tzitung  “photo shopped” the two women who were in the room out of the picture (one being Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton…as though she had no role??). You simply cannot believe everything you read or see. Again…not a new concept (“Dewey Defeats Truman”?).

I suppose a bit of a hot button for me was the point about body image, nutrition and fitness being influenced by the media. The author seems to suggest that we can counteract some of the negative  messages via education about media literacy. I will not argue with that, but I will argue that, in my opinion, the very best thing we can do for our daughters (in particular) to counteract the ridiculously unrealistic representation of women in the media is to provide them with opportunities to use their minds and bodies in a powerful way. For my own daughter, sports are a big part of her life. She has no desire to be a waif because she knows that she needs to have muscles in order to be successful in her sports. Thankfully, she aspires to look like Mia Hamm, not Kate Moss.

We do need to teach children to be wise consumers of media, and we start by being wise consumers ourselves.

June 9, 2011

Reflection: Google Collaborative Tools

When I got home from class on Saturday, I decided to read one of my many (mannnnny) unread back issues of Science and Children. I was reading the April/May magazine when I came across an article about how a teacher used Google collaboration tools to enhance his science instruction…what a coincidence!

The article (Sharing Digital Data) explained fairly specifically how this teacher used Google Apps to allow his 5th grade students to work collaboratively to study the life cycle of plants (specifically the Brassica rapa…I know I definitely knew about that plant when I was in 5th grade!!?)

For me, the article brought to life some of the technology we were discussing/using on Friday. Initially, the teacher had the groups post an idea to test on Google Doc choosing a dependent and an independent variable. One group decided to see what would happen if three germinating plants were crowded into a container that would be recommended for just one plant. There were many creative ideas from the students.  Google Apps allowed the students to work collaboratively as they studied their plants, took photographs of how they were fairing, collected data, and prepared reports. It was very obvious from reading the article that students in this classroom were extremely engaged in the inquiry process, and technology had quite a bit to do with that positive effect.

One thing the teacher/author did note is that access to computers is key. I appreciated that he mentioned this. Not all schools and not all children have access to a computer. I guess I will refrain from mentioning that again…done.

While I very much enjoyed learning about these Google collaborative tools on Friday, and while this article was quite inspiring, I think I will need to spend a lot (read a lot) of time learning how to use these tools effectively. I am sort of the type of person who cannot read an instruction manual to save my life.  I learn by doing/seeing and being mentored by others. I will need to see the use of these tools modeled for me a bit more before I will feel comfortable using them in a classroom. I hope to get there.

Benedis-Grab, G. (2011). Sharing digital data. Science and Children, 48 (8), 42-46.

May 30, 2011

Response to Chapter 12

Creating Learning Connections with Today’s Tech-Savvy Student

I found this chapter to be very intriguing. I realize technology in the classroom can be a very effective tool to engage students. I appreciated reading the story about the 9th grade physical science classroom and how the use of digital cameras enlivened lab activities. I found many of the stories presented in the chapter of how technology can and has been used in the classroom to be compelling.  Students are exposed to so much amazing technology outside of the classroom, it makes sense that we as teachers must learn to incorporate available technology in the classroom where appropriate.  I do think we should not underestimate the value of some more traditional teaching tools and resources. I think there should be a balance.

I was surprised by the statistic that claims  children between 8 and 18 years old are spending 6 hours a day in front of some kind of screen. That sort of begs the question, how much is too much?

Obviously, the problem, for a “digital immigrant” such as me, is that I have quite a bit of catching up to do to learn how to use these modern classroom resources. Believe me, I see the need to do so…it is just going to take me a lot longer than my “digital native” peers in the cohort.