Final Thoughts for EDC 601

I am finishing my integrating technology into the classroom course today and I feel relief, satisfaction and disappointment.

At the beginning of the course my goals were develop my skills in order to use technology more effectively in the classroom and to apply what I learn in my classroom.  My feeling of satisfactions comes from being able to not only reach this goal but excel at it.  I have already used screencasting, classroom flipping and blogging to great success in recent weeks.  In addition, I am very excited to try this project that was developed in class using google docs which two of my math classes will undertake after Christmas.  Having this time set aside to force myself to work on these skills was quite beneficial and I am a little disappointed to be finished.

At the same time it comes as a great relief to have this time back.  I will be using much of this regained time to plan lessons, however, I will now have these new tools to help with my planning and I am thankful for that.

Which leaves disappointment.  As mentioned before there is a small amount of disappointment for the course being finished as I enjoyed forcing myself to develop these skills but there is still some disappointment with not finding a way to use proper mathematics notation while blogging.  There is a lead I am following up (thanks Steve) but it still hasn’t materialized.  That being said I will continue on the hunt and continue to improve my own skills.  Thanks Steve, for the help.

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Should Math Be Taught In School?

Ok, so as a mathematics teacher it is kind of obvious that I feel much like Ms. Vermont in this video.  Of course math should be taught but the fact that there are so many people who wish we didn’t teach it in schools leaves me to question how it is taught.

I was recently reading How Games Can Influence Learning by Tina Barseghian which describes how games can solve all sorts of problems in the classroom.  I just wanted to put in my two cents for support of this model.  Having just finished a unit on probability with my grade 12 students there were all sorts of games to play that really got the students engaged in the concepts while at the same time having fun…so much so that I had teachers from neighboring classrooms come into my room to check if there was a problem with all the shouting and cheering.  In a sense we use games to trick them into understanding the concepts and where applicable it works beautifully.

The biggest struggle with this approach is finding or creating quality games for some (or many) of the topics that are in the curriculum.  Students are smart and can see through an artificial attempt to make the concepts fun so the games must truly be applicable or catchy enough to make them have fun.

Well, if you still have time you can try and Save Some Zogs 😉

iEmpathize

If the influence of Steve Jobs on the world was ever in question, one only needs to look at the outpouring of grief that has crossed the globe in this last week since his death (it has been one week today).  He was a brilliant business man and advertiser, a visionary in the tech industry and his inventions will be around for years to come in one form or another.

While I believe all of the statements I made above to be true I still did not find the death of Steve Jobs as an event that made me feel sad and for a while I was confused.  I then read the article “Steve Jobs is not God” and I realized why.  There was a statement in the article which really rung true for me that put things into perspective.  In the article the author says, “When we start mourning technocrats as idols, we cheapen the lives of those who have sacrificed more for their fellow man.” and it hit me.  Steve Jobs was a business man who made millions off of his creative vision and good on him, but there wasn’t any sacrifice.

So in the end I empathize if you feel sadness at the death of Steve Jobs but I am not ready to join you.

Something Like A Phenomenon

No, I am talking about the song the helped make L.L. Cool J a star but the phenomenon of blogging and how it seems to be taking education by storm.  In the professional community there are many choices of blogs to follow some helpful blogs for the classroom and incorporating technology in the classroom others not as much. In fact, I am currently enjoying the sarcastic humor of a math teacher in Brooklyn on his blog Sarcasymptote, while at the same time I am able to glean a few ideas for my own classroom from his rants.

On the other side, students are also becoming prolific bloggers.  There is huge upside to providing an opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and while I provide other opportunities for them to do this I must say that I have not used blogging (or math journals) in the past.  There is a reason for this…albeit not a “pedagogically sound” reason.  As a math teacher it pisses me off that there is no available software for web 2.0 tools where I can publish correct mathematical notation.  I have a great idea on a way to make all of my students homework more interactive by getting them to post problems, queries and solutions on a page in the class blog.  I seem reluctant to get this idea rolling mostly because I feel it is important to communicate mathematics properly.  So really this is a bit of an appeal…Does anybody out there have software that could help me say x^0.5 in proper mathematical notation on my blog?  If so, even a math classroom can experience the phenomenon of blogging.

Does more technology = more learning?

I recently read an article called “Does more technology = more learning?” by Alfred S.  Posamentier and I feel like he hit the nail on the head when it comes to integrating technology into the classroom.  In his article he lists many ways in which technology can enhance learning at the same time also listing examples of how it can be abused.  While I am a huge advocate of using technology in my classroom I feel like many teachers only use technology for the sake of using technology and as such it does not always foster learning in the classroom.  With all the new tools that have appeared with Web 2.0 we must make careful decisions as educators in order to use these tools effectively and in turn teach our student how to use the same tools effectively and ethically.  I think that the effectiveness of the tool is part of what Kim Cofino is talking about in her blog post, The Technology Toolbox: Choosing the Right Tool for the Task, and I think she says it best when she states that, “you need to know what you want to accomplish before you choose your tool.”  Then once you know what you intend to accomplish as a learning goal you can provide opportunities for the students using the best tools available.

My First Post

I am a math nerd and as such like this video a lot.  I think it takes my subject area and in makes it fun in a very creative and humorous way.  Better yet I feel that this video is an example of a person who has learned to use technology as a tool to get a message across (to over 2 million viewers).  It is arguable as to whether this video really includes any learning of mathematics at all, however, what I take from the fact that this video even exists is that as a teacher I have to provide opportunities for my students to use technology as a creative tool.  There has been a lot of discussion about how to best educate digital natives since Mark Prensky wrote his article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants in 2001 and it is easy to get lost in the midst of the discussion.  What I hope to gain from my EDC 601 course is a way to wade my way through this discussion and make choices that effectively enhance learning in my classroom.  To me, technology should do more than help my students make entertaining videos (though they are fantastic).  I think that technology has the potential to do much much more.