Thursday, August 29, 2013

Studying Attitude Graphic...

A few days ago, I found the interesting graphic above.  Today, I posted it on my course blogs (yes, each of my classes gets a blog of its very own).  Feel free to use the idea in your classes.  It's truly about attitude.  Maybe our students need a 'study attitude' that is just like a "game face" we often hear about.  Well, that's my hope and intention with the posts, at least.

The post was titled "Something To Think About..." and it showed the picture above followed by these few sentences:

  • It’s OK to not get a concept at first.
  • It’s not OK to give up if you don’t get it at first.
  • For example, would you stop playing a video game after the first time your player gets killed?
  • Think about it!!  Study with the passion you play games (be them video or sports or …) and you’ll end up winning!!

Wunderlist in EDU...Report 1

While not a formal report and I lack any real data, I do have some initial readings on my attempt to help train my students to study using Wunderlist.

The students have enthusiastically embraced the use of the To-Do list application.  I have made use of the app 100% voluntary in my introductory chemistry course (second semester college chemistry for science majors).  75% of the class requested an invitation to the class To-Do list.

The Shop Around the Corner...

So, I have to admit that I am a fan of Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks.  Both are fine actors with what appears to be fine character.  These two actors also share a movie based on the same premise:  communication is the key to falling in love.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Nathan Fillion, Google, Knowledge and Understanding

Here's an interesting video on information and knowledge, with references to Nathan Fillion (without the video, my title is rather cryptic).
So, what's your feeling on the matter?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Shared Viewpoint

Here's a nice blog post that is on par with my thoughts (Mindshift).  The author of the article and myself both see a need to experiment with the classroom, technology, and pedagogy involved.  Trying to fit todays tech and learners into the classroom and pedagogies of the pre-mobile world is a huge waste of money and money.  Moreover, we're not producing better students that are ready for college, let alone the workforce in our current model.

3D Printers: Are they just the first step toward a Star Trek Replicator?

First it was the cell phone.  Now it's the replicator.  What was in Gene Roddenberry's water that made him such a visionary?  For all I know, the guy never invented any real object, but he did invent a world of ideas that have a knack for turning into real objects that make other people money (funny read, here!)

Case in point, the 3D printer (or, replicator wanna-be).  I was amazed at ISTE 2013 when I watched the 3D printer do its thing.  If it hadn't been time for lunch and I hadn't been hungry and tired, I would have watched the printing process for an hour.  Instead, I walked away amazed and vowed to write a post about the experience should I ever have my very own blog.  Being true to myself, here is that article.

While the 3D printer is an amazing, plastic object creating device, it was at ISTE and the premise is that the printer will become a part of the education process.  Can we make ball-and-stick models of molecules with it?  Wouldn't it be cool to show off the geometry of a molecule, but what a rather expensive rout to accomplish something that a molecular modeling kit does equally as well (and is reused for years and years).  Doe the printer make real perfect geometric solids for geometry class and are these required to be made anew each class?  I don't know, but right now I am not seeing the need for these in schools.

But, hold the presses.  It's just about the time I make a statement like the last sentence of the paragraph above that an inventive teacher uses the contraption to better the classroom.  I hope it does happen and that we find some great ways to use this technology.  But, without that killer pedagogically sound reason for having a 3D printer per school or per classroom, I wouldn't spend the money.

I'll end with a clear statement that I do not believe we are moving toward the world of a replicator.  In Star Trek, they invented a "device" known as the 'Heisenberg Compensator' to allow their replicator to overcome the uncertainty principle.  Well, that's not going to happen any time soon (probably never) so don't hold your breath or buy stock in any replicator companies.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not Much About Ed, but....

I read lots of tech articles.  Today, one of my favorite blogazines has an article that hints at something many have mentioned before (Read Me).  The article is about movies, and how getting older and learning more make the movies less enjoyable.  Move over Sir Ken Robinson, this guy has said exactly what you have said but in a different way:  being educated kills your creativity.  OK, not quite the same and not really what the article is about, but it is interestingly true that becoming more educated almost enhances your "skeptical button" to where it's pressed continuously during stupid sections of movie, tv, blogs (like this one), etc.*

Project Idea for Students

Can't say I know the age limit of such an idea, but here's a little student project that gives a little game to your classroom.

In my physical chemistry class, the students will be broken into four 4-person teams about half way through the semester.  At that time, their assignment will be to design a game (video or other) that would need to include the material from class.  Each team will have a schedule to keep and forms to force them to keep track of who is doing what.  In the end, the teams will present their idea and a vote from the class will choose the best idea (no, they cannot vote for their own idea).  I think some of the students will really get into it and come with story boards, plots, twists, examples.  Should be a great way to make them make connections.

Have you tried anything like this?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Is Apple Selling Product Because of iTunes Store?

The question currently being asked in an interesting blog post on Gottabemobile  is whether iTunes store is the reason that Apple will continue to be a player in the phone industry.  The author argues that Apple is behind the other phone makers and hasn't been progressive lately, so the only reason to use them is the ease and structure of the music/app/movie buying experience in the iTunes Store.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What's in Your Bag...Bag Edition

Just saw a post on Gottabemobile concerning back-to-school computer bags.  All of the bags listed in the article look great (except maybe the one that had all the camera compartments).  However, I was amazed that a few of my favorite bags weren't mentioned (I was even compelled to comment about it on their site).  Here's a little added discussion to the above article...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Going Green with Your Syllabi

Just a note to all of you readying to print the entire syllabus for each student this fall.  You don't have to, and I recommend you don't.  Why print what can be emailed and posted to the LMS or Webpage or Blog?

Instead, summarize the key points in a "mini-sylli" on one page.  By key points, I mean the where and when of class, your contact info, URL's for obtaining other class info and the FULL syllabus, and key dates.

You can expound to your hearts content in person that first day of class, going well beyond the mini-sylli.  In addition, write away with great prose on the full syllabus that you post online.  But, be sure that you don't change the syllabus as the semester goes on in any major way...students will keep the old pdf version or print out a hard copy on their own for comparison, later, should you make changes.

The key is that you can save time and money and resources by not printing that syllabus in full.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Put Your Problems "in the Wild" to Create Better Learners

"Hey, can any of you guys do #4?"

I've been to zoos and seen lions before.  As fortune would have it, I have twice in the past 3 years been to South Africa and experienced a safari.  On my safari's, I also saw lions.  Let me tell you here and now, there is a world of difference in the two beasts when confined or in the wild.

  • The zoo lion is right where I expect, when I expect it.  I chose to go to the lion cage and, to no one's surprise, I encountered a lion.  I also know the lion is fed regularly and is therefore not really looking to waste energy trying to get to me.  I feel safe that the lion is also unable to get to me even if it wanted to.  This is a dependable situation where I know exactly what to expect and to do.  While there, I am in awe and have fun and am relaxed.  Yea for the lions!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Apple Updates App Store Policy for Kids Apps

Apple has fixed up the app developers policy so that apps targeted for those 13 and under are not created with behavioral advertising.  In addition, apps must fit into age categories now and cannot link out of the app without parental approval.  Even more is listed here in the article by the Guardian.

If you are a teacher, this makes things a bit easier on you, too.  Less worries about what you might want your students to use at school or home, as you'll have age appropriate help from the developer.

Active Learning Spotlight...POGIL

I am a huge fan of active learning.  I believe that active learning strategies use class time for more than just a transfer of information from the instructor to the students.  In active learning classrooms, students get practice at the content as well as other skills that are all about life.  That said, I am going to try and post about an active learning style about once a month.

First up is Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL).  As a disclaimer, I use a lot of POGIL in my classrooms and have facilitated numerous POGIL workshops in the US and a few in South Africa.  Thus, I am a bit biased about this particular model.

Graphing Experimental Data...A Video Tutorial

Video Tutorial on Graphing

For those of you teaching high school or college math/science, graphing data is an important skill.  Last year, I created a video tutorial (16 minutes) to help my students and thought I would share it with anyone reading Holistic Ed.  Enjoy and feel free to share it with your friends if you find the video useful.  I recommend enlarging the video a bit to get the best view :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Let's Talk About Grades...Part Uno

"How many A's did you get, my boy?"

From an early age, we are all asked about our grades and our favorite subject at school.  Everyone wants to know and, later in your education career, the grade seems to becomes the goal of going to school (instead of learning being the goal...but that's a different topic).  Did you ever wonder where these grading scales were invented and how they evolved over time?  Well, we all should, since these darn grade things have been held over our heads for years and we need to understand something in order to kill it! (that last remark should be in quotes, but I don't remember the movie or book that I experienced it).

A Quote to Start Wednesday...

From BrainyQuote!!

Tell me how you get your students to discuss ideas.  I'd love to hear from you and maybe steal an idea or two :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sprint Gets It...

Just saw a commercial for Sprint that takes the view I've been expressing for a while...students are connected, understand being connected, and enjoy being connected via their mobile devices.  And being constantly connected digitizes their life.  Sprint is selling this by saying "students are connected 24, 7" in their latest Galaxy S4 commercial.  It's simple, Sprint gets it!

Teachers, take note...your students expect information to come their way all day, so don't be afraid to stretch the course beyond the class time.  Get connected teachers and you might find an interested audience out there at, say, 7pm.

By the way, this very post was written on my phone immediately after watching the video.  

Pinterest and Lesson Plans? Maybe...

Just read this quick post on Endagdet about Pinterest pushing to get more teachers using the site in education.  Interesting and creative stuff...Click Me to see!!

Blended Learning for College...Worth a Try

For the past few years, the concept of a 'hybrid' online course has been the most palatable for most of the university instructors I have met.  Online courses were all the rage and the main talking point for administrators and government officials at the time, owing to the idea that the online courses would increase revenue by being less expensive per student (a misconception at best).  A hybrid course used online resources but kept most of the traditional classroom character.

At ISTE 2013, I heard mention of "blended learning", which turns out to be similar if not the same concept.  The definition of blended learning, as I learned, is a classroom that is partially contained on the web.  That is, not all of the learning is done in the classroom and there is an expectation of portions of the course being completed via the internet.  In my field (Chemistry), the most common implementation is a web site for course materials and announcements coupled with an online homework system such as OWL, Mastering Chemistry, Sapling, etc.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Inexpensive tablet just got less expensive...A BYOD Bonus!

Is your school moving to a BYOD model?  Well, here's a low priced tablet that has decent specs.  Must say, this would work for most kids and costs less than a pair of jeans!!

The Hisense Sero 7 tablets are now going for the remarkably low prices of $79 for the LT version and $129 for the Pro version, according to their press release today (read me!!).

RSA Animate Style as a Classroom Project...Yes, Thank You!

I don't know about you, but I am mesmerized by the RSA Animate series of whiteboard animations.  I watch them over and over.  I certainly feel as if I retain more from these types of video tutorials.  Maybe it's the cartoon images or maybe it's the difference in timing between the audio (normal speed) and the drawing (fast speed), but that is not important.

In my search for how to make one of these as a research project for a student, I came across this great YouTube video.  If you are a K-12 teacher, you should watch the video below and possibly consider where in your curriculum you could insert such a project.  Enjoy!

How to make an RSA Animate style video with you class

News Flash: Not all educational apps are good for children

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has publicly stated what I think many of us have thought:  Educational apps are sometimes just games. But, they went further and have stated concerns that the same apps may actually be hindering childhood development.  I'm sure the story is just getting started.

Also reported in the story is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under 2 not use media for learning.  I have to say, it had not occurred to me before, but developing eyes and the screen may not be the best thing.  Also, I would want my children to interact with me to learn and experience and everything...that has to be best for the bond between the child and family.

Here are links to four different articles on the story:  New York TimesGottabemobile, CBS Detroit, San Jose Mercury News.

Which Way to a Better Education...and Future: Part 2

In 2007, an article by Distance-Education.Org proposed that college education was due for a whirlwind change and it would be led by distance education.  The author, Jennifer Williamson, does a great job of making predictions that make sense and are realistic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Cheesy Post About Creative Lesson Planning

With apologies to the Eurythmics, the above distortion of their lyrics is very clever.  When I see something like this, I once again ask myself how I could use this in my classroom to grab the attention of the students at the beginning, midway, or completion of a class period.  That's my question of you today...

How could you use this very picture in your class?  Tell me about it in the comment section.  Even if you're not a teacher and you've just stumbled upon the Holistic Ed Blog, give it a try.

Here's where I could use the picture in my general chemistry sequence.  I would use the picture to depict a "Spectrum", which is really the possible types or values associated with something.  When speaking of light, we end up speaking of the electromagnetic spectrum that consists of radio, microwave, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma rays  By realizing that all of those types of cheese represent a particular portion of the spectrum of cheese, maybe my students will remember that radio waves and x-rays simply represent a small portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, meaning that both are a type of light!  I could see playing the song as the students enter the classroom and then showing them the picture above via the projector.  From their, the conversation would start and they would have something real to connect with a positive vibe about this particular class.

A Funny Truth

Saw this today, and I do find it relevant and close to reality.  I've made a similar comment to friends and colleagues before, with only a few complaints.  The most common counterargument I've heard is that, since we have all been through schooling, we all understand what it takes to teach.  Recently, I had a friend who topped this very counterargument by saying, "With that logic, all convicted criminals have been through the justice system.  Do we call them lawyers?"  It was nice that someone had my back :)

Which Way to a Better Education...and Future? Part 1

If you haven't already read it, check out the Aug. 3, 2013 Wall Street Journal.  In that edition, you will find an excellent article about the "The $4 Million Teacher".  In short, Kim Ki-Hoon has become famous as an educator in much the same way that Salman Kahn has:  by using the internet to deliver educational offerings. The last paragraph of the piece is very telling, to me...
"No country has all the answers. But in an information-driven global economy, a few truths are becoming universal: Children need to know how to think critically in math, reading and science; they must be driven; and they must learn how to adapt, since they will be doing it all their lives. These demands require that schools change, too—or the free market may do it for them."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Couple of Quotes to Start Your Day...

Today, I was sent the same quote by two different sources:  a college friend and an ex-student.  It's good enough to share and would certainly get Sir Kenneth Robinson to nod enthusiastically.
"We think we understand the rules when we become adults, what we really experience is a narrowing of imagination."--David Lynch

Friday, August 2, 2013

Study Training...A Case for Wunderlist

As I was writing about the Art of Studying in my previous post, I urged instructors to train students to learn in smaller chunks by redefining studying.  My urgings included ideas on how you could inspire students to study properly.  One model that popped into my mind about 5 minutes after making the post is to schedule study efforts using a calendar or To-Do list App, such as Wunderlist (my choice of To-Do List).

If you haven't used Wunderlist, then you are missing out on a great, free app that can be used as a To-Do List, Reminder App, Note App and Project Management App.  It's available on just about any platform:  Windows, Apple OS, iOS, Chrome and Android.  So, if your students have access to smart phones or tablets or computers, then you can use Wunderlist as a 'reminder' or 'nudge' app.  Each list you create can have as many items on the list that you desire, and each item can be assigned a due date and/or a reminder.  But wait, there's more!!  Yes, each item can be given notes and subitems.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Looking for a Tablet? Here's a Little Help!

Engadget has come out with a nice review of the currently available tablets.  Whether you are looking for your personal use or for the classroom, you should find the "Tablet Buyer's Guide" a good read.

However, missing from the guide are the hybrid style tablets that would suite education just fine, such as the Asus Tai chi or the Samsung ATIV (5 or 7 model).  The hybrid style also has an attached or attachable keyboard to allow the unit to act as a laptop.

Also neglected is the offering from Dell that is currently being advertised so well...

A Different Approach to "Study Habits"

Is the art of studying broken?  I think so.  It is my contention that what students view as studying is not conducive to learning and certainly doesn’t train them to master what they are trying to learn.  They therefore put off studying because they don’t know why they are studying and they find studying boring.  To fix the issue requires a redefinition of studying that will change student habits and oblige educators to alter aspects of their expectations.

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