Thursday, December 8, 2011

Assessing - and My Assessment of This Course

Before last semester and my SPED class I had never heard of - and presumably never seen - this strange thing called a 'rubric'.  Perhaps using them has developed since early 90s?  Perhaps letting the students IN on how they are being graded is the post-90s development. 
I happen to both like them as a student, and think they are an effective tool from the educator's point of view.  It lays out a clear map to gauge each student's work by (I think we have all considered the situation of grading papers and how if one has graded a bunch of great ones, then has a bad one, then that bad one might not be graded as harshly as if it followed a long string of other tiresomely-bad ones!), to keep the grading consistent.  It also gives clear guidelines for students to know, as much as is appropriate for them to know, just what they should focus their energies on, and how to best present their hard work.  This is of course a great boone for the student who can produce excellent work but simply struggles to find that 'start' point, a base to launch off from. 
I had also never heard of 'clickers', but, as I have expressed elsewhere in this blog I believe (and certainly within my eFolio site ( I think these provide an excellent way to encourage student participation (even among the shyest) in many different situations, and carry the benefit of the teacher getting immediate feedback on the subject in hand, and how well the class have grasped it  - whether the time is good to move on, or more work is first needed.  There is sometimes little point in moving on if the current stage is not understood, and these can provide that instant insight. 
As is the backbone of this entire course, "technology based assessment could also address another need presented by implementation of learning environments to support complex learning outcomes" (Jonassesn et al, 2008, pg. 219), and this course both introduces the concepts of many of these tech-based environments, tools, assessment methods, and assesses using them. The ePortfolio is of course the key example, drawing together all of the work learnt, studied, produced over the course, and through the learning of another web2.0 tool (the eFolio itself) enabling the student to present their work in an impressive, professional-looking manner, and the professor to get all the students' work in, all neatly 'tied together' in a bundle.

This course, in my opinion, and despite my personal practical difficulties with computer/internet access, has been enlightening, engaging, (frustrating and) fun! I have learnt a lot about so many of the topics touched on - copyright, MAPping information (both fascinating), blogging, glogging (seems very glitchy and this a beta or something?), twitter (unfortunately having needed to open an account there, I began to get junk through it toward the end of the semester); writing about Multiple Intelligences and Bloom's Taxonomy taught me a lot. In many instances, material in this course has backed up, reminded me, reaffirmed material learnt in previous education courses. Some of it is beginning to stick!
I honestly feel somewhat proud of my eFolio even though it does not yet function entirely as I would wish, and a couple of its functions are glitchy and I haven't yet figured why (the contents - the projects - are fine, but the folio's treatment of them is not quite right, and I wish I could figure how to add a clock :( !)

Thank you, Dr Aliefendic, for this course, and for guiding me into learning all that I have through it.
My final task, I guess, is to continue to work those glitches - perhaps until the eleventh hour (although I certain don't hope and aim for that to be the case!)

CWID 50064948

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"TAC TEKS" or however you refer to it (it scrambles my mind)

Having read this document on what Beginning Educators are expected to know and be able to do, it's both encouraging and discouraging; it sets the bar high (as well it should) for who will be 'freed' to teach our children - but as a person hoping to teach, I will have to reach those standards myself!  I jest - it is a good thing.  One can tangle and trip on too much red tape, but standards are a good thing. 

The one TEK that caught my attention - I am a math person but could not seem to find anything explicitly math in the list?  (maybe I missed something) - was under Technology Applications Standard (chapter 126)'s subchapter C, high school, section 126.43:  3D Modelling and Animation.  This class, recommended for grades 9 thru 12, meeting the high school Fine Arts requirement, and carrying a pre-requisite of Technological Applications grades 6-8 (and recommended Art level 1), sounds like a class that would appeal, and with CAD springing to mind the world has gone beyond that being a field for mechanics and physics but now reaches into the medical world, we could of course talk of gaming and 'film'-making, also architecture, and many other fields. 

Now visiting the TEK listing I do find my subject area of math - and perusing the high school (color-coded) review there is talk, on pages 6, 7 and 8 under Algebra I, of working with graphs, quadratic functions, transformations - and of solving them with and without technology is the key phrase.  This is certainly something I will want to deal with when I get to be teaching high schoolers math.  Working with students now through tutoring I get to see how much they, on the one hand, overly and lazily depend on their calculators, yet they seem ironically to be somewhat unskilled in using.  I would seek strongly to discourage the lazy calculator use and lack of mental brainwork, yet would want to show them right and proper use of the technology they have at hand, showing them when they really should (or, indeed, need) to use them, and also teach them how to use them, how to exploit what they can do.  Graphing, for example, and how to find all the specific details of information that their own manual calculations should have found, to confirm their own work and see visuals of what all the numbers 'look' like. 

And the 'Most Important TEK'? - wow - what a question! 
But, on reflection, Social Studies seems to be a very important topic.  We must of course study ourselves, our culture, other cultures, how they've developed, how they've mixed, and how to not repeat mistakes of the past. 
Perhaps, dare we hope, how to improve on our - or our children's - future?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gardner's 'Musical' Intelligence - and my lack thereof

Andy Pickles
ETEC424 Fall 2011
Dr Aliefendic
Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

One of the intelligences listed in Gardner’s theory is Musical Intelligence, assessed as being the ability to produce/appreciate rhythm, pitch and timbre. 
This is something I can relate to, with mixed responses. 

It is very true and I fully recognize (envy?) those that have natural gifting in this area; there are certainly those that can listen to a piece of music and then play it themselves, perhaps – for some people - on several different instruments, not to mention possibly sing it too and maybe even within accompaniment.  I am not one of those people.  I am intrigued at times to know whether I could pick up/develop these skills if I ever devoted appropriate time to them.  I have spent brief periods of time learning some instruments, and in cases where extra time was involved I learnt quite well.  In other cases, I spent little time and made suitably less progress. 

What I do know is that I enjoy music greatly and do not like too long to pass without spending some time listening, and my tastes are fairly wide.  I also know that I have some sense of rhythm and beat, but not in a way that helps me play anything (eg drums) or dance, because the rhythms and beats I hear in my head are overcomplicated and elicit response from ‘all of my limbs’ – hence dancing is tricky because I respond by trying to do too much at once, and playing a beat-based instrument like the drums is awkward because it is not necessarily my foot responding to the bass drumbeat but my hand, and conflicting with that I might find the reaction to the snare beat or a cymbal going through the ‘wrong limb’!  So while I have the beat, and am not ‘out of time’, it gets all mixed up in the expression. 

I am aware others have much tighter control and order over the beats they are hearing and feeling and dance with better control, and show either far more instinctive skill with instruments or have put in far more time and reap the benefits accordingly. 

Does this confirm or support Multiple Intelligence Theory in the musical field?  I don’t know.  I am not yet convinced enough to discern between developing skills by exposure and practice, or having certain aspects of intelligence that need unearthing and nurturing. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Intriguing, confusing, befuddling, obfuscating even

 (Amazing the vocabulary you can develop from watching X-Files (I know that was 10 years ago...), or even reading Garfield - and yes I do mean the cat, not the works of the past president!  I claim no personal credit - indeed, is this a more-than fitting introduction to the subject in question?)

Copyright is difficult to wrap your head around, even beyond simply, "Is it spelt '...right' or '...write', and is it one word or two?"  These articles were enlightening, and I felt gave me something of a clearer picture - but then I took the quiz  :(

I got that it's not about whether you make money from what you do with the material or not, it's about the originator maintaining ownership/control of their creation; that copyright is apparently NOT all about keeping the product in the creator's clammy little hands but is in fact attempting to balance the invention of 'something new' and the creator's right to benefit from that something, with the right, and benefit to the public at large of having access to that something; that when working in the field of education a lot more latitude for 'right to use' is given, but within certain bounds - the work produced that includes (or even depends upon) the 'borrowed' information or product must be used within a setting devoted to education & instruction, and not be able or permitted to go any further than that restricted circle (ie look out for whether posting to LAN, WAN, or password/unpassword-ed website). 

And yet there is so much fiddly detail as well - as one article amusingly and directly put it:  "If it were not this confusing, how would the lawyers make all their money?"!  It interested me that having read, dredged at times, waded through the other papers (not all heavy, but certainly in places) - the interactive screen with the children sitting at their desks with questions seemed to summarize amazingly well all that I had just read, and it all seemed to make sense.  Of course, without having read all that first I'd have understood far less of what was in those vignette answers. 

As for the quiz:  I have no clue how I was to know, for example, "Use of that TV recording would be deemed 'fair use' because it was within ten days of broadcast" ?!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sooooo much more than simply searching!

I found this week's exercises completely fascinating - and I even stumbled into a website that I hope to return to in the future. 

You ask about searching before the MAPping activities?  It involved going to Google - I'm one for finding something I can both get used to and comfortably use, and this was the first one - entering what I was searching for in various combinations until satisfactory results pop up, and the job was done.  Unless the task was college oriented in which case I would search through the library databases and ensure 'peer-reviewed', etc.  Now I see there can be so much more to it - and that 'so much more' is (to a curious mind like mine) additional fascination beyond the material primarily searched for. 

I was already aware to a minor degree of the significance of website extensions - being from England meant that was automatic knowledge, and my email address being a 'hotmail.CO.UK' account highlighted this further.  I have heard since of other country extensions too:  .au (Australia I believe as opposed to Austria), also extensions for Japan, China, Hong Kong, and others.  It seems a little unclear as to whether .co specifically refers to 'company' or 'country'.  I did not know quite how many extensions there were though.  It's certainly useful to know - specifically to know WHAT they mean. 

It was also helpful to read (somewhere in the exercise) that when searching, if you encounter problems, deleting the search request back, one '/' at a time to ultimately the domain name alone, can help provide solutions. 

I was a little startled to discover that, for example, an individual professor at a college who holds his own controversial viewpoint, might have his own page embedded within the 'otherwise'(?) highly reliable college website.  To see both how to spot this, and also how to dig out archived pages that have been removed from ('censored', one might say, out of) the web, was both enlightening and fascinating. 

As for the site I chose, about the cat reactions to bearded men - everything in this exercise to me seemed to point to the site being either genuine or at least harmless.  Multiple links used the site, or pages therein, as examples for exercises in "is the information presented here hoax or true?" vein.  All the searches listed the domain itself high up as included in multiple other sites, followed by several results raising the 'hoax or no?' question. 

And adverts?  Well all this information and these facilities are freely provided, but we all know that's impossible.  Advertisers provide the money the facilitators need!

Oh - the chance to track the history of a website, how busy it is/has been? - again fascinating.  And the discovery that so often the position of a site on a search engine results list has nothing to do with its veracity, reliability, relevance, ... , but is down to merely its hit rate? - just plain, hmm, is 'scary' too strong a word?  Disappointing, certainly. 

Closing remark:  I wish it didn't take me sooooo long to figure out how to add a new blog! :(  Tech issues caused further issues last week, but every new blog I've tried to add has taken me forever to remember/refigure how to do it!

This feels like it's got longer than it needed to, and thus taken longer than it should have, so I'm done now,

'Til next week,

Andy P

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Who Am I? +..." (Assignment forSep11)

So . . . "me"? . . . I'm Andy Pickles.  I was born and raised (far longer ago than it feels like!) in Maidstone, England (part of both the UK and Britain of course), in the county town of "The Garden of England" - the county of Kent. 
I love the picturesque villages, the country lanes (like county roads here but often smaller), and the twisty-turny 'involving' driving experience that zipping through them at - when possible - their speed limit of 60mph.  Big fun. 
However...I also love the hot sunshine; sunshine is not to be take for granted back in 'Blighty', and real heat is a rare commodity.  Mid80s is real good for summer and even then only comes in spells.  Mid90s is a heatwave.  Highest recorded ever was 98.8, til 2003 reached the dizzying heights of 100.6F.
So . . . I have to choose between picturesque with fun driving, or sunny heat.  All y'all wonderful warm Southern folks are winning, it seems  :)
I also love math and always have.  I remember getting a kick out of it at 8, 9, 10yrs old; still enjoyed it when bored sick of school from age 13-18.  For the next decade or so I would always get a buzz from anything math-related, and then I came here.  I fought through my entrance exam (having forgotten all the formulae I had to figure them all out and double-check myself over & over!), got into College Algebra (fearing I wasn't up to jumping in there after so long out), loved it all over again - and shook off the rust real quick  :)
I have throughout my life enjoyed helping others to learn whenever I am able, so when my grades prompted lecturers to approach me about math tutoring I said "Ok" (though nervous because of the sense of responsibility for somebody else's homework being accurately me!?) -- and so was born my desire to teach math at the Junior College level. 
Beyond my desire to help others learn new skills - now with a math focus - everything about this concept of becoming a teacher is new and unheard of to me.  Never considered this before!  As such, detailed thoughts about the use of technology in the classroom have not been big in my mind before now.  However, my own college career thus far has foisted tech on me so I've had to learn, to adapt, to find access (no internet at really, it's true, there are some of us! - have barely even a computer and in fact do almost all my computing work on my smartphone, and believe me: typing an essay on a smartphone (to email to self and print from a computer) is trying on the thumbs!).  Also some school-based software is not compatible with smartphones (frustrating! grrr :(  tsk.).  All in all I'm having mixed feelings and reactions about it all. 
I can see benefits, even if my mindset in this field is very small.  In some classes the presentations have been shown on powerpoint which can be very clear and often more engaging - and facilitates the lecturer emailing these 'notes' so students have access to perfect study material in hardcopy (still my favourite format!).  In math I have been introduced to 'Elmo' - that videocamera/projector machine.  This provided all the advantages of a teacher producing notes for their lecture live and interactively, on a large and/or clearly visible surface, while simultaneously able to share the very same information to a remote location, and providing a hard copy (the sheets they wrote on) at the end, for the possibility of scanning and emailing after the fact. 
However, more sophisticated efforts involving large screens that apparently are supposed to function like an all-in-one computer/large-screen (a giant tablet if you will, as they I understand are touchscreen operated) have hit choppy seas.  Put simply, the technology failed.  It would not run on the day.  This highlights the concerns that dog my mind and have done the more and more the world runs on technology - it strikes me as never infallible, and the tech must never be utterly depended upon, but rather always be an addition, a tool, an enhancement to teaching methods that are less prone to - as often seems with computers - 'their own fickle will'.  Of course not really - but it can seem that way!
My goals and what I hope to learn?  Lots of the tech-y stuff that I don't know now!  I'd like to end up less concerned by all the fancy tricks and toys that computers have now - feeling so out of date since I did - yes I did - computing courses when I was at school.  I guess things have moved on, they can do a lot more, and a lot of what I see as 'clever new stuff' has, in fact, probably become routine over the last 19 years!  I feel so old before my time!  :(

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Wonderful (?) World of Blogging

I sense this class will regularly make me feel like a techless dinosaur.....
Still......I'm not sure if there's anything specific I should put on here right now, but - I guess I now have a blog.  (I wonder if I must remember the whole AndyP-etec424blog thing myself, or just other posters, or if it will be displayed? goes nothing....)