Friday, February 24, 2012

An Extra Blog and a Resource

I don't know how many of you are familiar with open-source software, but basically it is a free alternative to commercial software and programs.  (Such as OpenOffice rather than Microsoft Office.) 
Since some discussions we have had in class revolve around cost, perhaps there are alternatives out there for what we are wanting to do.  I found an excellent site that has links to download open source software with a brief description of the program, while also selecting which ones would be best for the education/teaching field. This is just one of the many places you can find Audacity for the podcast if you wish to use it.
A computer geek friend of mine absolutely loves open source software, and if he trusts it, I trust it.  These programs also allow people (like my friend) to edit the software in hopes of improving it so it can be shared again.  Anyway, something to look into.  If you like photoshop, or the idea of it without the price, try Gimpshop.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lesson 12- Cyber Ethics

I can't remember who did the presentation on the collaborative essay, but I think it is an interesting idea.  Nowadays, people need to learn how to collaborate and work together, and the Googledocs assignment is a great way to get people to practice that type of gathering, organizing, developing, and presenting as a team.  I have not been able to utilize Googledocs myself, but want to try it out for our podcast paper, just so I can see if it is easy to use or not.  I feel that this kind of activity not only replicates real-world situations, but also alleviates some social anxiety.  I know there are some students out there who do not like working in groups because they may get stuck with all the work while the other partners may do nothing, or feel that the final product is lacking because the individual parts do not flow.  This would allow them all to edit and revise the same paper which will create better flow.  This assignment may also allow the student who is not in a group with his friends an opportunity to contribute equally and never feel left out.
I just feel that because many occupations out there have teams presenting one idea, this could be splendid practice.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Dinner

While on break at work, I found a tattered Sharon Herald and read an article about free after school dinner to children who qualify for free (and I believe reduced) lunches.  The article told of several states who have after school meal plans.  I think the school had to have over 60% poverty level students in order to receive the funding.  I thought it was a great idea.  Especially when the someone for the program pointed out that we (as teachers) expect a lot of concentration and work from a child who may be more worried about whether there will be food when he gets home.  By providing the basic three meals, perhaps we could see these students fill their full potential.  There is opposition, but the only voice they used in opposition came from radio Jackass (at least I believe that is his full title) Rush Limbaugh who said something along the lines of "free meals! *hwahf haha oink* why even bother sending the kids home?"  I can't imagine he has ever missed a meal, but maybe I'm the ass for thinking that we should take care of our American children in need.  I can't think of too many times I've ever had to go without (if there was a single time I had to do without the basics), but knowing people who have makes me see this as a good idea.  What are your thoughts on this?

After some searching I found the same article here if you want to read it yourself.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some Thoughts

So I've given some thought after T.O. asked us what we thought of the text.  I feel like the book was not written for our generation, but is something important.  I feel like the text would do better at giving us a list of proven online tools and then we could discuss the adaptations and benefits, ways to utilize it in the classroom.  Not that the text is bad or that there is nothing to learn from it, but it seems to be pushing the advantages of technology on a group of students who have grown up with technology and have computers in their bookbag, desktop, or even purse or pocket.  Kinda like preachin' to the choir.  It seems that when we discuss the programs in class, it isn't that we can't use or figure out the programs, but just never heard of them.
I do feel like older teachers (ones who have not embraced technology simply because it can be overwhelming) may need the younger teachers of our generation to bring them up to date when it comes to technology.  I have heard an older teacher from my alma mater talk about how in-service days may well be spent by younger teachers going over technology and software and online programs with the older teachers while the older teachers show the benefits of "old school" methods to the youngun's.
Not too bad of an idea, I agree with him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What'n the world made yins wanna teach anyhow?

I'm curious to see what the inspiration of the rest of you all in the class is.  It'll be easy comment points and all I'm asking is to talk about yourselves, shouldn't be too bad.  I'll start.
I graduated from a small town school in 2004, then took a year off to camp, fish, and joke around.  I began working a factory job in February of 2005 (Valentine's Day to be exact, but I had nothing better to do).  From the start, I knew it was not for me, but I worked full-time midnight shift for three years before deciding I must go back to school.  Because the love of my life is the outdoors, I came to SRU for Park and Resource Management.  In High School (and even still now in college) I was a jackass of all subjects, I am a B range student in everything so find it difficult to see any strengths.  College Writing I with Dr. Balok (taken my second semester) was the turning point.  She became a mentor and finally talked me into looking deeper into myself to see what strengths I had.  Some of the most influential people in my life have been my teachers.  I have always wanted to make a difference in the world (especially since I can't seem to achieve that behind the thick factory walls and over the loud hum of machinery), and teaching may be the perfect way for me to do so.  Although there are still a few times that I doubt my abilities to be a teacher, I feel like this is one of the things I was meant to do. 

So...What brings you here?

Friday, February 10, 2012

An interesting article, and a rant! 2 for 1 latenight.

     I know it seems as if I'm the one constantly talking about how these textbooks assume everyone has access to resources.  But I came from a school where learning Oregon Trail on an outdated computer (given I am older than most of the class, but not by much) is the pinnacle of computer training.  Well, that's not quite fair, my sophomore year seen a newer computer lab (newer to us, still not cutting edge). As a senior, I learned Paint, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel (the earlier versions than other schools had).  My girlfriend now works for that school, and there is still not much progress when it comes to technology.  Let's face it, technology and resources go hand in hand. 
     I have recently read a New York Times article that brings this dilemma into light.  The standardized tests play a part in the haves and the have-nots.  This article shows that there are problems that NEED to be addressed and adapted because the high-income families are being granted better access and therefore better education and success than low-income families.
     This country promised all of us and our future generations that you are not doomed to father's fate, that with elbow-grease and education you can rise to become whatever you set your heart on.  But if our current educational system keeps failing to give ALL students chances... the ceiling may just be scraping the scalps of many students' cowered heads.

More about Comic Life!

If you were interested in the software that was the focus of my presentation, you can download it for free here.  If you wish to keep using it for free, after 30 days the software will add a watermark to the comics you create (which I wouldn't see as that big of a deal).
I do think this software is great for creative works, and we have discussed in class the possible importance of graphic novels to help aide certain works.  This could provide an opportunity for the students to create their own graphic chapter of a novel, add a catchy spin to their research, or create an interesting mini-memoir with actual pictures.
The program is extremely user friendly. (The presented comic only took me a few minutes to create and I am by no means a tech savvy guy.)  The panel templates, pictures, text, and  thought and speech bubbles are simply click and drag into the workspace.  It is quick and easy to learn and may even provide an interesting way to introduce a lesson you want the students to grasp and be motivated for quickly.
Here is my creation from Comic Life!
As you can see, Comic Life provides a few editing tools that help actual pictures from my vacation look as though they are painted, drawn, or shaded like a graphic novel.  You can also leave the editing out as I have done with the pictograph on the bottom right.  All in all, I think that I will utilize this program at some point in my career and hopefully you all can too.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The readings so far, some concerns.

After doing the readings for this class, the books make no mention of what to do if you plan on taking advantage of the tech-tools but are working in a district that many students have little or no computer access (let alone Internet access).  A class wiki or blog (social bookmarking and RSS included) cannot help fully if the students cannot follow at home.  Posting assignments online or having the students submit or edit or compose online (especially collaboratively) can only be efficient and effective if the students have access.  I do not feel these books give teachers much advice on what to do for students who lack the resources (whether it be alternative assignment requirements or extended time or what...).  Just a thought, but maybe one that needs addressed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First Blog, testing, texting, is this thing on?

This entry may end up being simply a test to see if I can make this Blogging thing work.  Not that I doubt its abilities, just my own.

I read an article that seems to be focused on the parents, but there is information in there that maybe important to us as teachers, especially if we plan to use technology in a lesson plan or a classroom activity.  I did not know that so many administrative regulations are put onto a school computer lab.  I knew about filters, but this article goes in more detail about what a teacher who wishes to do an online project may expect to be questioned by a parent.