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EDLD5366 Course Reflections

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment
I can safely — and confidently — say that this was the class that I enjoyed and from which I learned the most. The readings and topics that fascinated me the most were Yearwood's Basic Design Principles (2009) and Basic Elements of Page Design (2009). The concepts of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity were all new to me in this context. Who knew that movie posters and other print materials contained so much information that are invisible to the naked eye? Posture, colors, font size and style (who knew that serif was easier to read in print?), straight lines, symmetry, placement, white spaces… taken separately, these seem mundane, but use these to analyze material and one will be surprised at how much can be revealed. After reading these, one could argue that design is not only an art, but also a science.

Another topic that sparked my interest is Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (Churches, 2007). It lays the groundwork for teaching others how to use technology in the classroom, and considering how every teacher is familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy and how much they adhere to it, buy-in is almost a given. 

This was also evident in the discussion board. It was easy to see that everybody learned a lot from these topics, and the level of engagement reflected this as well. We all learned a lot from the readings and from each other not just with the critic activity, but also in other discussions. I appreciated everybody's constructive criticisms and immediately applied it to my teaching aid.

Like most people, I have never tried, much less had to, design a personal logo and never even considered myself anywhere near what Goldsmith calls, "personally branded" (2007). Nevertheless, this concept of personal branding fascinates me and serves as a reminder that we as educators, whether we like it or not, are now living public lives and that we can take measures to manage this fact and use to our own advantage. Being an avid supporter (and endorser) of Free and Open Source Software or FOSS, I used Gimp to create and design my logo because Adobe's PhotoShop has always been inaccessible to me since I had no use for it and could not afford it anyway, even if I did. It was a humbling experience. I say that because this program is too complicated. No matter how many times I viewed tutorials, no matter how hard I tried to use effects and enhancements, my logo came out rather simplistic. In spite of this, though, creating a logo that reflected my personality and some of my core values was satisfying enough.

The animation project was another interesting project. Time consuming as it was, it was utterly rewarding seeing the end product "move" and make sounds. After conducting some research on product reviews comparing Stykz and Scratch, I first settled with the former. It was easy to use — just clicking and dragging the stick figure's joints and/or whole body, but found it too unenticing. I imagine students would agree with that sentiment. Then I tried Scratch. It was also relatively easy and it had the added benefit of being a lesson on coding using building blocks. That clinched it for me. After all was said and done, I came up with a very simple animation that consisted of a female dancing to the tune of a guitar strumming. I am actually excited to show this to my fellow teachers and with practice (and the help of the video tutorials) I think we could include animation as a teaching medium/strategy in my campus.

In terms of being laborious, the newsletter was the most intensive assignment in this course. I have worked for my school newspaper in high school, but I was neverinvolved in the layout design part. It also did not help that my word processor (OpenOffice's Writer in this case — again, being a FOSS supporter) acted like it knew what I wanted to do yet the words never came out right. Words would nbot spill over to the next page whenever I needed them to, yet they did not hesitate to spill over to the next column when I did not need them to, even when there was still a lot of white space in the previous column. I was almost ready to surrender and publish a one-column newsletter… and that happened more than I would like to admit. Luckily, after three complete overhauls and fresh starts, I was able to master the Frames and Columns features. When I saved it and opened it again later, the words were all over the pages and some were even hiding beyond the pages. Needless to say, it just meant starting over. On my fourth attempt, and before I saved and closed it for later, I hit "Export to PDF." It came out fine, but the white spaces were not acceptable by Yearwood's standards (2009), so I inserted black separators, which inadvertently made a mess of the words again. To cut the story short, I was able to come up with my newsletter after numerous attempts and with nary a tear shed nor a computer broken.

As one can tell, I was able to accomplish a lot by trial-and-error. All these tasks were new to me. On top of that, I do not really consider myself a particularly creative person. I am more of an editor-critic of other people's work. This course posed a real challenge — nay, real challenges week after week and task after task. The video tutorials helped too, but I also had to try it for myself since I am more of an auditory-visual-kinesthetic learner rather than relying on one modality. Lucky for me, this course included a lot of those resources and opportunities instead of relying solely on text or one modality.

To sum it all up, the skills and concepts I have learned in this course would definitely play a big part in my career as a Campus Technologist and as a lifelong learner. Now, more than ever, I feel more prepared to train my colleagues, I feel more confident that I can use programs that have intimidated me before, and I have gained new knowledge that have enhanced my technical know-how. 

References:

Churches, A. (2007). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/8670 

Goldsmith, M. (August 2007). Authentic personal branding. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/sep2009/ca20090929_228578.htm 

Northeast Regional Educational Laboratory. (n.d) Meeting the needs of diverse learners. Retrieved from http://www.netc.org/earlyconnections/pub/sec3.pdf

Yearwood, J. (July 2009). Basic elements of page design. Beaumont, TX: Lamar University.

Yearwood, J. (July 2009). Design principles. Beaumont, TX: Lamar University.

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Dear Education – a poem

May 16, 2010 Leave a comment

The following poem was written by the author when he was a high school freshman; video on http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/6745148 and transcript from The Fischbowl (not proofread for accuracy)

“Dear Education”

“Dear education: I am your child, an offspring of wild thoughts entangled with knots and photos of poorer countries, people sleeping on cots. I am the series of words ordered to make enough sense to partly understand the past tense; I am a present poet of no specific dazzling hero heroics. These pages in my corporate friendly text book do no good to me, I am like Socrates, I seek knowledge through my own means enlightened conversation, dreams, books, meditation. I am the raised hand waiting patiently for the teacher to hear my answer, so answer me this teacher, why must I wait for you to hear me?

“I will blurt out senseless answers to answerless equations, learn the ways of other nations through cultural vibrations which sink deep into the solitude of my sleep, and speak very loudly for the hungry, the weak. This week is next week’s memory of repetitive cycles and styles, hair cuts and new shoes, no new thought on the newest news, yo, I learn out of pure bliss of learning, in me is a yearning to continue turning in and out of realizations.

“Dear math, your certainty scares me. I am uncertain that algebra will aid me, for I refuse you, it is so clearly absent in me. I will make up my own numbers, and number them none through no more, no more comes right after when can I, can you is before will you, will I keep going? Going is nowhere if everyday you are where you were, where you were is where I could be. Could you please tell me why I must learn this uncertain certainty? Certainly you can understand that I am no average man and thus trust that I will soak in passing thought while these formulas for fractions gather dust. I need not geometry, for nature doesn’t produce your so called square, your man made perfections and imperfections. Sections of rock are not measured; they are felt and seen, in real life not square screens. I have seen this in my dreams… and I remember in the morning, there is no math in waking, math is taking me from wisdom and forcing me to understand mere riddles.

“Dear grades; Why do you try to cut me like a cookie and shape me to a mold? As if to then be sold to another institution of being told what to think and how to arrange this ink on my notebook surface, scribbling flight without the gift of wings. I do admit that you do teach me the potency of further potential somehow essential for a good job, to spend my time gathering money to exchange for my right to own anything. I should be taught but not graded, there is no reason, we are all as inconstant as the seasons.

“How does one grade the slow hover of leaves braking away from treetops tossed into fate filled gravitational landing spots? I have graded politicians and cops, judges, CEO’s, American Idols. This system has failed and cannot continue in its current direction; it must be re-thought and re-taught so that maybe somehow people in this world will actually seek understanding between one another.

“I will recite my right to recite my voice by choice of creating sound for others to listen to and ignore till they stoop so low in ignorance that their brains land with a Thud on the floor.., I have a fist full of forgiveness, to forgive what I forget. And pave a path for truth to flow which is diminishing, yet, it is all too much. Much is all too well, and as long as there is hope for heaven there is a need for hell. My mellow moon is melancholy.

“If I could express the spirit, I would rise above lies and find the truth for all to hear it and know the reasons why…why we still have not found our place, our place as intellectual apes.

“Dear students of “acting like your [sic] paying attention”; learn if you choose to, do as you want to and let me entangle thoughts with knots while reason looses [sic] value, and slowly rots. You lend yourselves to faulty fictions and contradictions only audible when nobody wants to listen. So listen now, now you listen to me, for I too have a need to say what’s right when right is wrong and life is blinding me.

“Dear education; I am your child.”

Categories: education, Stuff Tags: , ,

Doodle4Google 2010

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Has your school entered Google's "Doodle4Google" contest yet? It is an art contest wherein students from all over the United States compete to have Google use their "doodle" (as in their logo) on Google's homepage for a day. The winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship, a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010, a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with his/her doodle on it. 

This year's theme is, "If I could do anything I would…"

Details below [from google.com/doodle4google]

Doodle 4 Google

If I could do anything, I would...

icon
  • …Figure out a cure for cancer
  • …Build a movie theater on the moon
  • …Be an underwater explorer

Welcome to Doodle 4 Google, a competition where we invite K-12 students to work their artistic will upon our homepage logo. At Google we believe in thinking big and dreaming big, so this year we're inviting U.S. kids to exercise their creative imaginations around the theme, "If I Could Do Anything, I Would …"

We're looking forward to the kids' answers too. Gather those art supplies and some 8.5" x 11"paper and encourage your students to enrich us all with their creative visions for what they would do in the world, if they could do anything.

This year, a group of "Expert Jurors", well-known illustrators, cartoonists and animators from organizations like The Sesame Street Workshop, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, The Charles Shulz/Peanuts Museum and Pixar Animation Studios, will be helping us select the 40 finalist doodles as well as attending our awards ceremony to personally meet our winners.

Registration closes at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Time (PT) on March 17, 2010, and entries are due by March 31, 2010 no later than 11:59:59 P.M. Pacific Time (PT). The winning doodle will be featured on our Google.com homepage on May 27, 2010.

Judging and Prizes

Key Dates

School Registration Deadline

March 17, 2010

Early Bird Submissions – 
Win Netbook Computers

March 10, 2010

Doodle Entry Deadline

March 31, 2010

State Finalists and Regional Winners Notified

May 17, 2010

Online Public Vote

May 17-24, 2010

Awards Ceremony and National Winners Announced

May 26, 2010

Winning Doodle on the Google Homepage

May 27, 2010

Grade Groups

The Doodle 4 Google competition is open to all U.S. residents between the ages of 5 and 18 who attend elementary and secondary schools (i.e. grades K-12). In the U.S., doodles will be judged in the following brackets:

  • Grades K – 3
  • Grades 4 – 6
  • Grades 7 – 9
  • Grades 10 – 12

All students attending homeschool are also eligible to participate.

Judging Regions

The competition will run across 10 regions:

Region 1:
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Region 2:
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Region 3:
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
Region 4:
Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina
Region 5:
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Region 6:
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Region 7:
Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee
Region 8:
Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Region 9:
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
Region 10:
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

Judging Process

400 State Finalists

Up to 400 doodles from across the country will be chosen by a panel of independent "Expert Jurors" and Google employees based on which doodles they feel best represent the "If I Could Do Anything, I Would…" theme. In each state, 2 doodles will be selected in each grade group, meaning that each grade group and each state will be equally represented. Entries from the District of Columbia will be judged along with entries from Maryland.

40 Regional Finalists

Our "Expert Jurors" will choose 40 top doodles as Regional Finalists. In each of the ten Regions, each grade group will have one winner. These Regional Finalists will be displayed in a gallery on the Google.com website. The U.S. public will then vote for the doodles they believe best capture the theme "If I Could Do Anything, I Would…".

4 National Finalists

An awards ceremony for the 40 Regional Finalists will be held at the Google New York office on May 26, 2010. On that day we will announce the four National Finalists chosen by the U.S. public (1 per grade group).

1 National Winner

Finally, one of the four National Finalists will be awarded "National Winner of Doodle 4 Google" and the national winner's doodle will 'go live' on the Google homepage for 24 hours.

Judging Chalkboard

Prizes

National Winner – College Scholarship

The National Winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of his/her choice, a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010, a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with his/her doodle on it. We'll also award the winner's school a $25,000 technology grant towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab.

Three National Finalists – Laptop Computers

Each of the other three National Finalists will win a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010, a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle on it.

Smithsonian Exhibit and Trip to New York

Each of the other 40 Regional Finalists will win a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010 and a t-shirt printed with their doodles on it. All 40 Regional Finalists will also have their doodle displayed in a public exhibit at the Smithsonian's, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for 6 weeks after the announcement event.

State Finalists – Doodles Published on the Web site

Each of the other 400 State Finalists will receive a "Doodle 4 Google" official winner's certificate and will be featured on the Doodle 4 Google contest web site.

Extra Credit – Technology Booster Awards

This year, we are giving out eight (8) Technology Booster awards for schools who submit their doodles by March 10, 2010. The awards consist of 20 netbook computers for public or private schools or 2 netbook computers for homeschools who submit the maximum amount of doodles for their school by March 10, 2010 (doodles must be received by this date). 

Schools who are eligible to win this award are those who submit either six (6) doodles if they are a public or private school or two (2) doodles if they are a homeschool. These schools must also have a student selected as one of the 400 State Finalists. We will also be looking at the highest cumulative quality scores of the State Finalists doodles as part of the awards criteria. Awards will be announced on May 17, 2010 when we post the 400 State Winners.

Presentation: Oppe STaR Chart Analysis

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Presentation:Oppe STaR Chart Analysis
According to the StaR Chart, our campus’ greatest strength is in the Key Area of Infrastructure for Technology, where we are classified as Advanced Tech in 2006-07 and 2008-09. Additionally, we have achieved Target Tech classification level in Internet Access Connectivity and Speed. I agree with this assessment with just one reservation: that it is unclear whether we really have, “Teacher cadres (who) have been established to create and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture, and support faculty in using technology to maximize teaching and learning.”

On the other hand, the StaR Chart shows that our campus’ greatest weakness is in the Key Area of Educator Preparation and Development, especially in the focus areas of Access to Professional Development (classified as Early Tech in 2007-08) and Professional Development for Online Learning (classified as Developing Tech for all three years.) I agree with this as this is the chief complaint in three campuses that I have worked in (in the same district), as well as among my colleagues in other schools and school districts. In the two campuses that I serve, it is quite apparent that teachers do not have a full grasp of how to integrate technology into their daily lessons, or even to gather sources for teaching and lesson planning. We discuss a few online resources and computer programs that teachers and students can use to supplement regular instruction, but full professional development sessions for such resources have been sparse. I humbly submit that his would easily be addressed if each campus has a designated person for technology professional development, as well as Instructional Support, another area of need for these campuses.

This issue is highly critical as we cannot expect teachers to fully implement the Technology Applications TEKS, not to mention attain the goals of the Texas Long-Range Plan, if they do not become technology proficient themselves and receive the requisite professional development. Again, this would easily be addressed if each campus has a designated person for technology professional development as well as instructional support. Interestingly, this position was eliminated two years ago, and we now only receive infrequent inservice (brief at that) from one specialist for all elementary schools in my district. My campus and the district as a whole may have adequate (and improving) physical infrastructure, but the human infrastructure still has a lot of room to grow.

The Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology 2006-2020 and Educator Preparation and Development

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment
One of the Key Areas of the Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology 2006-2020 is Educator Preparation and Development. This key area addresses the professional development needs of teachers and all members of the education community. It is further broken down into the following Focus Areas: Professional Development Experiences, Models of Professional Development, Capabilities of Educators, Access to Professional Development, Levels of Understanding and Patterns of Use, and Professional Development for Online Learning. 

To achieve the goals of the Texas Long-Range Plan, continuous professional development for educators in using and integrating technology in teaching and learning must be top priority. Statewide progress in this endeavor has been slow, and gains have been modest. Based on the Campus Statewide Summary by Key Area in Academic Year 2006-2007, 0.7% or 55 of 7752 campuses were classified Target Tech, 17% (1321) Advanced, 74% (5739) Developing, and 8.2% (637) Early Tech. The following year (AY 2007-2008), 0.6% or 44 of 7641 campuses were classified Target Tech, 19.9% (1520) Advanced, 74.2% (5668) Developing, and 5.4% (409) Early Tech. In the most recent summary from last year (AY 2008-2009),  0.6% or 48 of 7848 campuses were classified Target Tech, 23.8% (1864) Advanced, 71.1% (5580) Developing, and 4.5% (356) Early Tech. Noticeable trends include: the number of campuses achieving Advanced Tech classification have increased steadily, while those classified Target Tech have fluctuated, and those classified Early Tech dwindled.

My campus (Oppe Elementary School) reflects this plodding and fluctuating progress in this Key Area. In 2006-2007, we scored a total of 13 and classified as Developing Tech. The following year, our scored dropped to 11 when our Access to Professional Development was rated 1 or Early Tech. Last year though, we moved up to 14, scoring 3 or Advanced Tech in the focus areas of Models of Professional Development and Levels of Understanding and Patterns of Use. Additionally, we have yet to achieve a rating of 4 or Target Tech classification on any individual focus area of Educator Preparation and Development, while the only 4 we attained was in the key area of Infrastructure for Technology, focus area Internet Access Connectivity and Speed.

Needless to say, this dismal progress leaves much to be desired. This issue is critical as we cannot expect teachers to fully implement the Technology Applications TEKS, not to mention attain the goals of the Texas Long-Range Plan, if they do not become technology proficient themselves and receive the requisite professional development. Again, this would easily be addressed if each campus has a designated person for technology professional development as well as instructional support. Interestingly, this position was eliminated two years ago, and we now only receive infrequent inservice (brief at that) from one specialist for all elementary schools in my district. My campus and the district as a whole may have adequate (and improving) physical infrastructure, but the human infrastructure still has a lot of room to grow. 

On Suffrage and Suffering

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment

“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.” (Joseph De Maistre, 1753-1821) which literally translates to, “Every nation has the government which it deserves” has been in my mind ever since I read about Le Cirque, Bobby Van’s, and Pres. GMA’s gustatory adventures. I humbly submit that this quote is applicable (valid?) to our country’s situation for two reasons. One, the poor and/or uneducated voters would vote for any candidate who: doles out a few bucks (I still don’t understand why they can’t just promise to do it and then turn around and vote with their conscience. Are we really that honest?), or issues grandiose statements that range from alleviating poverty to curing cancer. Two, a lot (if not most) of educated citizens are apathetic. I have had conversations with my friends who refuse to vote or take any part in the political process and I almost always end up frustrated because they refute anything I say with pronouncements like, “Wala namang mangyayari kahit na bumoto ako, sayang lang ang oras ko!” or “Kahit sino pa ang maupo e mangungurakot lang ‘yan.” It is quite apparent that they have been jaded, which I understand, but at this point, I usually get too emotional and accuse them of treason and I suppress the urge to bellow, “Off with their heads!” and “Hoy, mahiya ka, ang taumbayan kaya ang nagpa-aral sa iyo!” if they hailed from U.P. Quite frankly, I am not equipped to handle either case.

The recent disasters and the government’s lackadaisical (no, despicable) show of recovery and relief efforts should be proof positive that we need, if not deserve, better leadership. Whenever I bring it up, however, I am met with the usual response of “Tama na ‘yan, walang magagawa ang sisihan,” which is quite reflective of our culture. But how else would we ponder and make a better choice after committing egregious errors? After we have overcome these trials and tribulations, can you please stop and think hard before you cast a vote? That is, if you’re going to vote, of course. If you take a look at the front runners among the presidentiables, Sec. Gilbert Teodoro had the perfect opportunity to prove himself by simply taking charge. After all, he has the resources of the government at his disposal, not to mention the now-known fact that he can commandeer a helicopter, that is if he was really serious about rescuing anybody besides his own family. Then came the buzz about GMA’s lavish expenditures and the allegedly missing P800M emergency funds and now, the grand LWUA bash feted by Pichay purportedly to impress his big boss.

According to the articles I’ve read, the “wais” Manny Villar was probably the first one to take action by dispatching (conspicuously labeled?) dump trucks and distributing relief goods. People, however, were quick to douse him with a cold shower of Marikina floodwater by taking pictures of said props, este, accoutrements and thusly implied criticism (Can you say cynical?). Like I said: “wais.” He wouldn’t be that rich if he didn’t know how to take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself. If you think about it, he and Willie Revillame are a perfect tandem of people who are expert at taking advantage of anything and anybody.

I do not know what to say about Noynoy in this regard. Has anybody even asked him about his mother’s CARP crap and the farmers who were gunned down? (Do yourself a favor and read http://missgo.wordpress.com/). Man, the temerity to get in front of the camera and proclaim his candidacy. Now that’s what I call cojones. I think only Bongbong Marcos can stand next to this guy. Oops, now that I think about it, I don’t think this will be such a good idea. Back to the topic at hand… what has he done besides meet with Erap to discuss the 2010 polls? Not only that, what has he really accomplished?

Erap, Chiz, Jamby, and Lacson? Please. They need their heads checked and their egos exorcised (not just excised).

But, as in elections past, who else? Are my friends who shun suffrage right in the end? Do we really want to leave this important decision up to everybody else? I think it is time for Bishop Bert Mercado and Nicanor Perlas to show their mettle and show us that there are better alternatives. After all, better is what we deserve.

-j3pr0x