Checking out Good Magazine’s Education Blog

Standard

I subscribed to the education blog at Good Magazine, and the first link that caught my eye was “Think You’re Pretty Tech-Savy?  Ley’s See if You’re Right” . I usually had thought of myself as not quite tech-savy, but more as tech-capable….. but I thought, as this technology course is wrapping up, what better time to do a little assessment? The quiz was rather short, and some of the questions were opinion questions, but I was still surprised at the result:

Captura de pantalla 2015-07-28 a las 10.25.43

In case it isn’t clear:

1. That is not me in the photo

2. They call me a “digital native” and say I’m “great” at social media!

As I further browsed the site, I found another article that caught my interest: “How Growing Up in Poverty Rewires a Child’s Developing Brain”  The article examines the persistent gap in academic performance between those with high and low socioeconomic status. There are many different variables which have been often examined to understand this. I recently wrote a research paper (just for a research class, let’s be real) examining the word gap that is referenced in the this article:

“Before kindergarten, a child in a low-income home is exposed to 13 million words and 25 hours of one-on-one reading time; in a higher income home, it’s 45 million words and somewhere between 1000-1700 hours. ”

As studies have shown, this results in drastically different capabilities for acquiring vocabulary throughout a child’s entire academic career. This difference has been called the 30 Million Word Gap. I examined how this gap changes for children who are bilingual and English Language Learners, but this article looks at what is actually going on in the brain! The article isn’t too technical in the language (if you can handle words like “amygdala”), and I definitely recommend it!

 

 

Digital Divide: Equity and Technology

Standard

After reading and listening to all the articles and videos provided, three big ideas stuck out to me.

1. The same way technology can be used as an accommodation, those without technology should be accommodated for. I have had students with dyslexia who have been allowed to listen to a book on CD or with dysgraphia who can type instead of handwrite reports. We have discussed about how a flipped classroom may help those with attention deficits. But what about those without access or for whom technology presents a problem? It seems that alternative forms must be provided. As UDL teaches us, it is important to provide students multiple ways of engagement, representation, and expression. What I don´t know is how that will look. If the teacher creates a webquest for students, must he also provide books and paper the students may use instead? (Side note: In this class, we have talked about how students who fear to speak up in class often prosper blogging. What about those who don´t fear speaking but do fear grammatical errors published for all to see by blogging? )

 

2. I know I recently wrote about NPR but these two stories were recently aired that have exactly to do with this topic:

Explore Diversity in Tech and Science

How an Early Love of Math Led to Her Role as CEO

 

3. This doesn´t have to do exactly with tech in education, more diversity in the field….but I thought I would mention it. Most of the week´s readings talk about the access, performance, and representation of African-American, Latino Americans, and women, as the minority groups in tech. My husband, a Spanish citizen, is an IT guy by profession, (honestly, no idea what he does specifically, I hear “Big Data” “C++” and “Hadoop” a lot). Recently, he was job hunting and was called and e-mailed everyday by dozens and dozens of Indian tech firms in the U.S. looking for java programmers. Just thought it was interesting to see the representation of another ethnic group in tech.

Howard Gardner on Ethics in New Digital Media

Standard

I found myself constantly stopping, jotting down quotes, and replaying this video of Howard Gardner. It reminded me ethical guidelines belong in every field, and therefore must be discerned with new fields or new discoveries. I think of the new technologies of nuclear warfare and stem cell use, for example. One of my favorite quotes by Gardner along these lines was: “No medium is benevolent or malevolent in itself. You can use pencils to write sonnets or poke people´s eyes out”.   I also happen to be rereading  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley at the moment so how to use new technologies ethically is very much on my mind!

As far as using new digital media in education, I think Gardner hits it on the head when he says “It is up to those of us who care about young people or care about the future of the planet to understand these forms [of digital media] but not to let them dictate what´s right”.  The trouble here is, society has yet to agree on “what´s right”!  For example, for certain groups of people, exposing specific parts of the body is unethical and for others not. This goes for the pictures we publish, the language we use, and everything else we share on digital media. So in that respect, the conversation of ethics is not new, but it must depend on the family and the local culture of the school.

Another point Gardner made was about how education must change since so much information is so readily available. He says teachers must become more like coaches: “didactic aspects of teaching are not as important because the information is so prevalent”. I think many educators see that as at best a challenge, and at worst a threat. Technology may scare many teachers who felt secure “having all the answers” if you will. I had a recent example a bit ago that informed my opinion on this.

I was teaching a Spanish class on numbers to second graders. We were looking at the connections between number words and other words. We started  looking at three/tres and its related words: triangle, triplets, etc. Then, we looked at siete (7), ocho (8), nueve (9) and diez (10) related to the months; September, October, November, December. The students soon noticed that September wasn´t actually the seventh month! They of course wanted to know why. I knew that the calendar had been changed many times over the course of history, and had the basic facts, but each child had an iPad, so we looked it up and pieced together the history of the evolution of the calendar as a class. One one hand, the class derailed a bit from simply Spanish, on the other hand, the students would have never thought to randomly google “history of the western calendar” if it hadn´t been for the connections I had been helping them draw.

Cyber Bullying App: Stop!T

Standard

Just heard a report on NPR about an app being used in schools to stop cyber bullying called Stop!t. It is an anonymous reporting app, and I found another pretty good article here at wired.com

The program also mentioned a new report on diversity in tech jobs and an anonymous app often used at college popular, that I had never heard off (behind the times!).  The good old-fashioned radio is apparently still a place to keep up to date with technology, thanks to All Things Considered´s Digital Life!

 

TED talk 2: Andrew Blum: Discover the physical side of the internet

Standard

Andrew Blum speaks in this TED talk about his search for the physical internet. I found this his talk fascinating given some recent events concerning my personal experience with technology. Blum mentions that once, his internet went out, and he had to call someone to come and fix it. The technician sent concluded the problem was because a squirrel had been chewing on some of the wires, and had eaten his internet. As powerful, invisible, and limitless as the internet seems, a little squirrel had completely shut it down for Blum. As for my recent events, because of human error (my own, my service provider, insurance provider, UPS) I have been without a phone for 13 days, and it seems I will not have another phone for 10 more days. In this class, we are pointing out all the wonderful things that we are capable of doing using technology. We have discussed how technology is the world we live in and so we must prepare students. However, what do we do human or animal error interfere with our ability to connect? We need to make sure that technology is not our only way to get things done or have meaningful interactions.

The focus of Blum´s talk is more on what physical technology is actually necessary to make the internet work. People have designed actual cables in the ocean to better connect different areas of the world. I am aware that my current phone-less situation is very much informing my opinion, but I couldn´t help but become nervous hearing Blum explain the physical internet. Technology has been referred to as a currency, a weapon, and a tool, among many other things, and those who control access to technology have a lot of power (for example my insurance company who sent me a broken phone, or my service provider who cut off my service).

TED Talk: David Christian: The history of our world in 18 minutes

Standard

One thing I am realizing through this class is that one of the reasons I love being a teacher is because I fee like I have an excuse or even an obligation to continue learning. A good example of this was being able to listen to David Christian´s TED talk about the history of the world. Since I teach early elementary school, the details and timeline of the beginning of the universe don´t fall under the content knowledge for the curriculum I teach. However, Christian´s explanation was easy enough to understand so I feel like I have a better idea about the topic.

usually, being reminded of how long ago the universe began saddens me because of how insignificant and new the human race is! I liked though, how Christian pointed out the difference in the human race and the rest of the universe before it: that human´s have language with which we can pass on knowledge. We do not have to rely on random accidental changes in DNA to make changes in the world. He points out though, that this power is not necessary a good thing because are quickly using fossil fuels and we have nuclear weapons.

Christian´s conclusion is rather optimistic, though. He wants the younger generation to know the big story of history well enough to be very aware of both the challenges and opportunities facing us. To this end, he is helping to create an online curriculum on big history. Evidently, he believes this is a need he needs to fill because students are not being taught this in school. In my small experience, the children are being given plenty of instruction on stewardship,conflict resolution, conservation, and civic duties, so maybe he sees the problem in lack of in-depth instruction at the high school level.