Friday, February 26, 2010

Social Bookmarking with (NETS-T I, II, III, V)

Eight educationally relevant websites have been included as social bookmarks on my account.  Each website is linked and described below.
#1 National Archives: “Looking Back on the American Century,” a photographic exhibit at the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library in Missouri

The 20th century is the century that the United States establishes itself as a preeminent world power. This exhibit brings to the student primary sources of a variety of photographs of events or people that made the 20th century so important. Access to these primary sources is much more important to students as a learning tool because seeing that actual items can relate the history to visual learners much easier than reading in a text book. It brings realism to the student learning about Eleanor Roosevelt, the dropping of the atomic bomb and the significance of Sputnik by reading a newspaper article. It shows not only the significance of the event but the person behind the name, the vastness and power of the detonation of the atomic bomb and the sentiments of the American public of the launch of Sputnik. For many students, it is easier to understand and retain a history from a picture than from text.

#2 National Education Association

The National Education Association website lists those students at highest risk for experiencing an achievement gap are students belonging to racial and ethnic minorities (such as American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, and Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender people); English language learners; students with disabilities; boys in the early years and girls in high school math and science; and students from low-income families.
Coming from corporate America, I’m a true believer in mission statements and in making sure the mission statement of my employer or school is in sync with my own. Having a common goal that the whole community believes in and strives for brings it together and provides a common thread through it from which to build strength and unity. If my school has a weak or non-existent culturally competent mission statement only because it has not done so formally (otherwise why would I be teaching there), I would form a committee that would address that shortfall. This cultural competence committee would not only be a part of re-writing the school’s mission statement to include a cultural competence but also to insure that it is an integral component of all the school’s activities. In addition, have the mission stated to include cultural competence gives students structure for how to behave and model themselves in more ethnically difficult issues. Students look to the teachers and administrators to set the standards and students need to know the direction to follow.

I would welcome the opportunity to either offer my room and/or time to gather and organize resource materials related to culturally diverse groups for use by school staff and student groups. In becoming a more culturally competent educator, having the resources readily available is very important for several reasons. The first is the need to educate others. Providing a resource to staff and students will invite them to learn more and propagate the message. In addition, as more teachers become proficient in becoming a culturally competent educator, they will discover new ways that work for them and sharing that knowledge by making it an available resource provides an opportunity to collaborate and improve materials. Lastly, it is so frustrating to someone new to a culturally competent philosophy to not know where to go to gather materials or discuss ideas. Designating a room/teacher allows me to take ownership so that can be that “go to” person.

As designated resource and gatherer of resources for my school, I would make sure my resources included a network of "natural helpers" at school and in the community as well as "experts" who have knowledge of the culturally, linguistically, racially, and ethnically diverse groups served by your school. In addition, having those resources of helpers and experts available to staff and students would play a huge role in the success of a culturally competent program. There are so many within our own community that can qualify for these roles. Natural helpers would be students from the ethnically diverse student population can be interviewed and play a role in activities. Parents and businesses could be utilized as experts about their culture and be asked to come in and speak to classes and answer questions from students. Things from home, such as artifacts used in everyday life, which are unique to one’s culture, can be easily brought in to tell about one’s culture. This can be done on a very small scale such as in individual classrooms or in larger venues such as an assembly for the whole school community.

#3 Stop Cyber Bullying

After reading about cyber bullying for the first time, I was appalled but not completely surprised about the occurrence of bullying of a person on the internet. As with the discovery of all new technology comes the responsibility to use it for the betterment and not detriment of mankind. The website not only defines cyber bullying but also goes into some strategies for teachers and schools to educate students, parents and teacher; resources such as; pointers on internet-related risk management; community programs; and recruiting students to help promote internet safety within their school. One recommendation for schools is to be proactive by outlining an acceptable use policy which reserves the right to discipline the student for actions taken off-campus if those actions are intended to adversely affect a student or the safety and well-being of a student while in school. In addition, when cyber bullying does occur keeping a level head and trying to involve parents, teachers and the student in the resolution is key in getting past the emotions of the defamatory behavior.

#4 Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators

Kathy Schrock’s website is a wealth of information on many subjects all available on one resource. Because I’ll be teaching high school chemistry, I of course, looked at her scientific/chemistry links. Although I found some of the links on her site were outdated and no longer worked, the list of resources was still useful. I was particularly interested in freeware and the site provided a variety of links from academia specifically useful to chemistry educators. There was also much more available from commercial sources if the cyber sleuth was willing to pay a price. I found the Teacher Helpers section not too helpful for high school chemistry teachers but there were a few interactive pages that had chemistry and scientific themes. Those pages can be used as part of a chemistry-technology exercise for students. It will be a site that I will use as a future resource as a first step in carrying out chemistry pedagogy research.

#5 Movie - Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who first unveiled his eight multiple intelligences, speaks about understanding multiple intelligences and how that should influence teaching. His theory on multiple intelligence stated what many teachers already knew about students and learning; that all students do not learn in one way. Therefore, Gardner states that for students to retain what they are learning teachers need to teach in different ways. He goes on to say that he doesn’t believe that a teacher needs to teach eight different ways but that if there are students not learning, the teacher should make the proper adjustment to reach that child by teaching in another way. Gardner believes that there are too many subjects being taught and not much depth to those subjects. He would like to see more time spent in understanding the concept behind subjects. For instance, details of physics, biology and chemistry can wait until college but rather students should be taught to think “scientifically.” Gardner believes that school assessments should be more transparent for both teacher and students. Thereby, students will be able to carry-out their own self-assessments. They should be taking tests with known expectations just as how a football player always knows what his coach is expecting of him. On education reform, Gardner feels that four things need to be in place. First, the need for good examples of students to show it can work. Second, reform needs an administration supportive of teachers wanting to reform. Third, there needs to be a way to assess the progress of reforming (not the old multiple-choice option) and finally, a political commitment to reforming the educational structure.

#6 Teaching Tolerance

Relating tolerance to something as basic and well-liked as ice cream is a connection that I felt all my high school students could relate so I selected the topic, “What does ice cream have to do with controversy?” Students are given a list of a variety of items, concepts or titles (ice cream, boiled okra, professional, athletes, jazz, opera, rock 'n' roll, rap/hip hop, lawyers). They are to move to an area designated by the numbers 1-10 based on how much they like each one with 9-10 being love it and 1-2 being dislike it. They are to move with eyes open and no talking. In all cases, even ice cream, not everyone agrees. It is pointed out that specific issues may come up during the course or school year and as a class we should expect a diversity of opinion and experiences. The class is instructed to respect those differences in opinions. In the future when everyone cannot agree, the class is reminded that a discrepancy shouldn’t be surprising since the class can’t even agree on ice cream!

#7 Multicultural Education Equity Awareness Quiz on Ed Change Website

I discovered that I know very little about multicultural education equity as I received only 5 correct answers out of a total of fifteen questions. In some of the questions, I had answered close to the correct answer but two of my answers were surprisingly wrong. The answer that African American women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than White women due to inaccessibility to prenatal services. Why should that be? There are programs (such as Women, Infants and Children, WIC) in place for women in low-income families to receive prenatal services. There shouldn’t be this high statistic and I am curious as to why it is so high. Closely related is the surprising statistic on the United States and the United Kingdom rates as the two worst countries for treatment of children of the 23 wealthiest countries in the world. I believed that the U.S. treated its children well and to find out we are the worst of the 23 wealthiest countries make me question where do we spend our money? Perhaps question six (we spend the most of any country in the world on our military) can shed some light on that answer.

#8 Netiquette Guidelines :{}

Although I scored perfectly on the Nettiquette Quiz, it was only because I had read about the core rules as well as other pages on the website prior to taking the test. 8-] I would not have done so well prior. I could have benefitted by knowing some of the core rules in my previously career in corporate America. Thinking about a human at the other end of the email or “taking 5” before sending would have avoided a lot of unnecessary conflicts. :@ Damage control is so much more time consuming that proactive training. Students have an advantage today to learn from the mistakes my generation has made on the internet as there was not Netiquette Guidelines when I first started using the internet. :^D Being cognizant of the recipient’s time and using the technology with respect for the human(s) on the other end is reflective upon oneself. Perhaps the Netiquette Guidelines will soon expand to include chewing with one’s mouth closed when utilizing the web cams that currently comes standard on most computers. :->

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Classroom Newsletter (NETS-T I, II, III)

This is a mock up of a potential classroom newsletter created with Microsoft Word. The newsletter will focus on chemistry factoids that may not make it into my classroom lecture but are fun and interesting enough to teenagers worth the mention in a supplemental communication. The newsletter will also act as a way to communicate with the students and parents about my classroom activities, news and reminders.

Mz. W's Periodical

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Journal 4: Finding Students Who Learn with Media (NETS-T I, II, III, V)

Bull, G. (2010, February). Finding students who learn with media. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(5), Retrieved from

Summary: By accessing primary source documents such as those found at the Smithsonian and Library Congress websites, a teacher, utilizing free web-based authoring tools, can incorporate that media into his or her curriculum to enhance a student’s learning. A pilot study using PrimaryAccess Storyboard was carried out by teachers. The researchers: Bull, Alexander and Ferster gained a better understanding of how teachers can best integrate software such as PrimaryAccess with their curriculum to enhance a student’s learning. Two free authoring tools: PrimaryAccess Movie Maker ( and PrimaryAccess Story Board ( allows students to create an historical movie in three class periods and a visual narrative in one class period, respectively. The storyboard version was developed to provide teachers access to similar, yet restricted, media because their students will have less time to devote to the project. The results of student engagement varied from engagement to both the historical content and storyboarding activity to engagement in neither.

Q1: Why were the results for engaged students so varied?
A1: Students in a classroom are made up of different types of learners. What the researchers found was that 40% of the students who were engaged in both the storyboard technology and the historical content of the assignment showed more higher-order thinking and creativity. Students who showed higher affinity for the historical content of the assignment are those students who preferred a more traditional task such as writing an essay. Students who were found to be more engaged in the technology and not the history lesson needed more assistance in content mastery. Finally, 15% of the students who were disengaged will need another technique for learning the history material.

Q2: Why are there two types of Web-based authoring tools?
A2: There are two types of Web-based authoring tools: PrimaryAccess Movie Maker and PrimaryAccess Story Board to allow the teacher two options to best integrate into their curriculum as part of the formal school setting. The first, PrimaryAccess Movie Maker, is used over three periods to create a short historical documentary: one period is dedicated to creating the outline, storyboard and script; the second period to put together the media and edit and the third period to add in the narration, text and music. The second tool, PrimaryAccess Storyboard is used in a single period to create a visual historical narrative. It contains fewer features to create the more specific narrative. An advantage for utilizing either tool is that both eliminate overhead that is usually associated with conventional editor of digital video and reduce class time to learn how to master movie-making software. Some teachers may already devote three classes to a particular curriculum and so adding on an addition three classes to create a documentary may not be a realistic option. However, the shorter version can still give the student the opportunity and experience to author the simpler narrative.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jounal 3: Keeping the Peace (NETS-T II, IV, V)

Levinson, M. (2010, February). Keeping the Peace. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(5), Retrieved from

Summary: The article discusses a lesson learned from Nueva Middle School in Hillsborough, California which launched a one-to-one program (one laptop for every child) in 2007. An issue arose on instant messaging splitting the school into two camps of students and parents. After teachers found students abused the use of video chatting (iChat) during class time and some parents became concerned about the appropriateness of the technology at home, the school blocked iChatting on the school laptops. There was a severe outcry from the students and some parents against the ban. Levinson’s lesson to his readers is to better prepare the community (students about the new technology) with open communication between all. Opportunities for communication have been put in place some of which include a boot camp for incoming sixth graders, a partnership with Common Sense Media, and parent education workshops. Avoiding having to take away the technology prior to implementation of the one-to-one initiative would have also avoided an unnecessary uproar of opposing concerns from the community.

Q1: Why did the school decide to have video chatting at the get-go? Most new laptops come standard with web cams—to give user the ability to carry out web chatting. There are several free on-line web chatting options available. The problem wasn’t with having the feature it was that the Nueva Middle School community (teachers, administrators, parents and students) did not research or discuss the ramifications of having such technology available to the students. Having the ability to chat visually in real time between students can create powerful communication. The avoidable backlash from the lack of communication within the school community prior to releasing the technology to the students is the lesson that the author Levinson is trying to convey.

Q2: What has the school put in place to avoid such problems in the future? Nueva Middle School has formed a partnership with Common Sense Media, a not-for-profit organization that provides information and tools that allow families to make informed choices and an opportunity to voice their concerns. Leaders, from Common Sense Media, and teachers work together with students to introduce them to the creative possibilities of the new technology and the ethics of having access to such technology. In addition, the school has put in other safeguards in place such as a boot camp for incoming sixth graders, training sessions for online research, faculty training, parent education workshops, an acceptable-use policy, a limited use IM program and a dynamic and open approach to handling future issues.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jounal 2: Constructing Learning (NETS-T I, II, III)

(Note:  This is a replacement article to "Using Podcasts to Develop a Global Perspective")

Klopfer, E. (2010, February). Constructing Learning. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(5), Retrieved from Klopfer, E. (2010). Constructing Learning. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(5), Retrieved from

Summary: This article described using free modeling software from StarLogoTNG (The Next Generation) that allows teachers and students to easily program their own computer simulations and games. Starlogo TNG is created by the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP). The article gives several examples to show how very complex concepts can be simulated on a computer through a program that allows the teacher or student to do the actual programming of its various variables. The programming is done using a graphical programming language represented as shapes that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle in a drag-and-drop manner. This technology would not only teach students and teachers programming but would also show how the programming outcomes has applications into other areas such as chemistry, biology and physics. The program demonstration can simulate the lesson, thereby enhancing what is read or written.

Q1: The program takes some training to learn, why not just show a simulation of an ecosystem with different variables hard-wired into the program?
A1: The beauty of using this program is to show the importance of knowing how to program when studying a particular problem. As a scientist in the industry, there will be many computer programs that the scientist will use. Simulations are great programs for scientists because they allow the scientist to formulate theories and to as “What if?” questions which can then formulate an experiment to find the answer. Simulation programs that can also be predictive are in high demand as they focus finances to lower risk projects. This program will not only allow a student to see the value of the scientist but also the value of a programmer working in the industry. There is collaborative effort that’s needed to solve our world’s problems.

Q2: So, why not replace all hands-on experiments with simulations to save some money on experimental supplies and classroom space?
A2: The article states that this is a very powerful tool to studying scientific phenomenon but it cannot replace hands-on immersion, lab experiences and especially designing one’s own experiments. Real understanding can only come from those experiences of actually doing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Journal 1: Computing in the Clouds (NETS-T I, III, V)

Johnson, D. (2009, December/January). Computing in the Clouds. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(4), Retrieved from

Summary: In the current economy with school budgets decreasing and cost cutting rampant, the author writes about a cheaper, flexible and equitable solution to making more technology accessible to the student by utilizing cloud computing. Cloud computing makes use of technology (e.g. applications and file storage) that reside on a network, not on the computer you’re using. Many web-based applications use this technology already—as when you’ve uploaded pictures to a website for sharing or ordering prints. When cloud computing is coupled to one of the most economical computers on the market—the Netbook—a student/school now has access to applications and storage with minimal investment of money.

Q1:  Sounds too good to be true….what are the problems?
A1: Well, for one, since you don’t own the hardware or the applications, what happens if the website goes down? You’re out of luck until it is back on line—although websites claim this is a rare occurrence. The other problem is how secure can the website be? Most websites say your data is secure and the data is owned by you and not the website. Still, I wouldn’t put anything confidential or sensitive on the site. The other problem is that even though a Netbook is one of the cheapest computers one can buy; it still comes with a price tag just under $300. Some households still would not be able to afford the technology. In the case where you had more than one child needing to use the technology is one computer sufficient or would each child need their own Netbook because of in-class usage required by the Teacher? If that is the case, then the cost will be on a per child basis. If that is not the case, how convenient and realistic is sharing a Netbook between siblings. I guess the answer to that will be dependent on how the Teacher uses Cloud computing and Netbooks in his/her classroom. As with all new technology there are still a lot of unknowns to be worked out. All-in-all, as a techie, I believe it’s worth a shot.

Q2:  Do I believe that Cloud computing can decrease the digital divide between those in opposing economical classes?
A2:  I believe that yes it can. Although I stated some arguments above as to Netbooks still costing a significant amount, the bottom line is that is it more affordable. I have seen families, who are at or just above the poverty line, sacrifice so that their child/children can get a computer. What happens is that once the purchase of a computer is made, the family is at a loss of how to set up the computer, what to do when there is a problem and once it’s up and running, don’t know how to navigate through the system to do some of the most basic tasks. With a NetBook, the student can bring to class and with the help of teacher and staff, get their computer functioning to carry out the assignments and access the wealth of knowledge the internet holds without the help of parents who may not understand any of that computer mumbo-jumbo. To have the Cloud computing available to this type of student, means that even less of an investment on the part of the family needs to be made to have a functioning and up-to-date system.