Saturday, November 5, 2016

Homemade Ten Frames and Dot Cards

After having my partner color in dots for 20 dot cards of numbers 1–10, I just discovered that I can print onto 3x5 index cards from Microsoft word on my home printer.

I've used these to have students write or call out what is two more, two less, one more, or one less than the number shown. Sometimes I'll call out "make ten," and the student has to search for, write, or say the number that can be added to the number shown to make ten. I'm going to do ten-frame flash, as well, and show students the ten frame cards for about 3 seconds and have them write the number they saw and then check their responses against the stack. Having students identify how many blank spaces were on the flashed card is also a great way to get them thinking about pairs of numbers that make ten.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

30 Million Word Gap

I haven't posted in so long, but today is a day I'm glad to have a blog.

For my course on Learning Disabilities, I had to read "The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3" (PDF). It made me angry! Here is a reaction paper I wrote for my course:

Before reading “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3,” I was somewhat familiar with the University of Chicago Thirty Million Words Initiative. As I read the article about the research that inspired this intervention, I found myself being critical and looking for flaws in the research. This initial attitude surprised me. I generally approach reading with an open mind. However, I think the negative title of the article may have impacted me.  
Additionally, this sentence in the second paragraph rubbed me the wrong way: “In addition, our study included not just poor children from Turner House, but also a group of University of Kansas professors’ children against whom we could measure the Turner House children’s progress.” This sentence made me feel as though the researchers began their study with the assumption that poor children were deficient, and they cast wealthy white children with educated parents as the desirable group that the poor children should wish to become. The researchers also note the number of African-American families in their study, yet they do not mention the ethnic backgrounds of the other participants. 
I fear that this article could be used to disparage families who are culturally different from the white middle/upper-classes that our society was built for. Hope is required for any intervention to be created and carried out. The authors paint a grim picture and offer no suggestions for improving the situation. If the gap in children’s language skills is so extreme based on the family in which they grew up, can any intervention be successful?  
One particular quote in the article struck me as pessimistic: “Once children become independent and can speak for themselves, they gain access to more opportunities for experience. But the amount and diversity of children’s past experience influences which opportunities for experience they notice and choose.” These sentences seem to contradict any hope for children to grow as they age. The study also focused solely on language skills. Students from families that may not have had as varied or rich vocabulary may come to excel in math or science. 

After writing this paper, I Googled "30 million word gap racist," to see what others had to say about the study. Here are a couple related posts:

"Debunking the 'Word Gap' "

"Toward Translating Success for Black and Brown Children"

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Social adeptness: Digitally

I often find myself thinking about online communities and how I use them. I cannot be the only 30-something who considers herself digitally savvy but cannot find what she's looking for in social media.

I have Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, Ravelry, this blog. Some of them are anonymous and some of them are public and some of them have been associated with work, and I don't feel affectionate toward any of them right now. I want to keep in touch with friends and old colleagues, but I haven't found a way that satisfies me.

I end of voicing these thoughts on social media, which may explain why I get virtual blank stares in response rather than "Amens!" But I want to feel a sense of community that I can tap into anytime, anywhere. Do I need to post more? Or do I just need to post more openly? How much time do I need to put in before I actually want to get online and post and read and respond?

All this may sound crazy to you, and it is driving me crazy because I am not digitally inept. My job involves creating digital content. I get ebooks and digital audiobooks from my library, and I track my sleep and exercise with an UP24. I have 8 devices in my one-bedroom apartment connected to my wifi.

I am not an early adopter, but I'm an adopter. The social aspects are my hang-ups.

The Sims Freeplay on iPad (which I devoted a good few months to) would have been way more enjoyable if I had neighbors, but it seemed Facebook or my email contacts were the only way to connect with other players. I would have been all about anonymous, random neighbors, but there wasn't an outlet for me to meet them (unless I got really hardcore and started posting in the forums, but that was more time and energy than I wanted to spend).

Part of my issue may simply be screen time. After 8 hours a day of chatting and emailing and creating digital content, I don't find the practice enjoyable anymore, even if it's related to my personal hobbies and interests.

Dear absent readers, am I alone in this? At 31, can I learn online social skills? Is it just a matter of putting in time upfront before it becomes enjoyable, or am I destined to be a social pariah in the digital world?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fear & creativity

Today's quote from my Don't Sweat the Small Stuff daily calendar:

That which we focus our attention on expands. If we spend our mental energy worrying, it's difficult if not impossible to create great abundance. Our fear gets in the way of our creativity and traps us in the status quo.
I also recently spent some time with the Creatively Fit website, to push myself to think differently and embrace the intelligences I spend less time with in my day to day. I'm considering, too, a charcoal drawing class at Brooklyn Brainery.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Show your learning

I'm at the tail end of a slow period at work, so my personal educational pursuits are not coming so naturally now that I don't have free time for self-directed professional development during my day job. This has led me to feel a bit lost in OOE13. I'm feeling the lack of focus I have in this MOOC, and I imagine I may be experiencing a common feeling that turns a lot of people off MOOCs.

Grant Wiggins blogged about measuring learning ("Experiential Learning"), and it prompted me to wonder about how I measure up to some of the questions he asks. That is, what do I have to show for all my reading of articles and searching out definitions? He asks:
"What are the key indicators to look for in judging whether your attempt at experiential learning is working?"
"One of the most frequent answers is a clear and specific sense of purpose, linking the activity to the WHY? question – We’re doing this because... We’re learning this because..."
"What does this help you do that’s important?"

I need a new goal.

But much of my frustration and directionlessness may be because I'm not engaged in experiential learning. Instead of being in a classroom with a roomful of kids and 20 tablets, I'm in an office scouring the Internet for theories and anecdotes that correspond to my vision of what technology in the classroom could or should look like. I am learning by connecting, but it is interesting to think about how different my MOOC experience will be compared with that of someone like this BYOD teacher, who is most certainly learning by experience as she's learning by connecting.

Has anything been written about the benefits of MOOCs for those who are currently engaged in whatever the topic is, compared to those less initiated, who may be trying to learn before doing?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Digital learning primer

As one of my OOE13 goals, I started a portfolio of articles as an introduction to digital learning and tech integration for curriculum developers. I created a Learnist board.

The problem is, I've been so subsumed in reading and research for a few months that I don't know how much background information to provide. Plus, I imagine my colleagues are all in different places of understanding now.

I'm wondering what general impression my compilation provides so far. I'm going for: students learn through doing and should be given more freedom to create and be self-guided learners. That is, I want to influence my colleagues away from the teacher-centered approach to tech (explained in "Three competing visions of educational technology. Which is yours?" this way: "'Interactive' white boards, presenting information or managing whole-class simulations are examples of computing for the teacher. In this scenario, the teacher is the actor, the classroom a theatre, the students the audience and the computer is a prop") and toward a student-centered approach.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Personal growth via professional development

One of my other recent learning projects (which I chose not to publicly blog about) is an interest in psychology. I've been trying to improve my own understanding of feelings and interpersonal issues and get back to a sense of depth and awe I seem to have lost in my twenties.

In my more public professional development efforts--online courses on teaching for learning and participating in the Open Online Experience MOOC--I keep noticing connections to growth efforts I consider more personal.

Foundations of Teaching for Learning drew my attention to Transactional Analysis (TA); the roles people play of parent, child, and adult; and this video on a TA view of games people play. The concept resonated with me, and with personal growth in mind, I just started reading I'm OK, You're OK. It's been sitting on my partner's bookshelf for years (with the rest of her social worker library), and I never would have given it a second of consideration if not for my Coursera course on teaching.

In the course materials, professor John MacBeath also encourages viewers to consider the concept: "Punish only in anger." He points out that although many are quick to assume this is poor advice, some things that make you angry (for instance, racism or other forms of bigotry or discrimination) often should be swiftly reacted to rather than contemplated. I've been thinking a lot about anger generally, so it's refreshing to have a notion to chew on from a more formal source than my own brain.

I recently heard about Learnist, and polled the OOE13 folks about it. Brendan Murphy shared his boards with me, and the first slide in 21st Century Teacher struck me. "If you want to be a carpenter, then you apprentice with a master carpenter. If you want to be a learner, then you should be apprenticing with a master learner too."

This quote is from Gary Stager's institute on PBL at ASB Unplugged2012. Original Image by Rob Shenk licensed under CC BY SA. Via Clint Hamada.
I was thinking about my future and my career before I launched into these professional development projects. I discovered that one of the things I get most engaged and rewarded by is learning new things, and I planned to research careers that take advantage of it, thinking first of being a workflow consultant (except for the whole people-losing-their-jobs part). 
Is education one of few careers that rewards and requires deep personal growth? In my office jobs, it hasn't felt so important and hasn't happened organically. Do you think of education when you consider careers for lifelong learners? What other careers do you think of?