Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MacBook...some things to know

There are some things I would have liked to know when I recieved the MacBook from school.  I'm not complaining. Someone probably told me some of these things at some point, but I wasn't paying attention. You learn more when you have to figure it out for yourself anyway. I taught myself how to use the Apple //c when I was in 7th and 8th grade, and I used those skills into college with a Power Macintosh.  A MacBook has to be easier, right? It has a really cool mouse.
No hands!
  1. Speaking of mice, I love the magic mouse! It is magic; it works from your pocket and your backpack.  Look ma, no hands! I'm not sure about the range yet, but my backpack was about 10 feet away so...there's a power button for a reason.

  2. Finder is nice, but Spotlight is better.  If you don't know where you saved something, you can find it. You just have to remember the name. It works in Finder too, but Spotlight is more elegant. Spotlight will also search the internet and do math! 

  3. The camera takes nice pictures, but it is inconveniently placed for framing a photo well.  I had to edit out Alex's hairy legs for my hands free picture. I need to look up solutions...mini easel? periscope? suggestions anyone?

  4. There are so many keyboard shortcuts I will probably never learn them all. Working in different programs helps, but at first I didn't know what some of the symbols meant. I got the chart on the right from a Keyboard Shortcut site. Note: A lot of short cuts are the same as they were on the old Apples once you make a vocabulary adjustment. Goodbye, open and closed apple.

  5. The MacBook so pretty and light!  The thoughtful design of the power cord connection, flexible system preferences and backlight on the keyboard are just some of the reasons it is a pleasure to work with. 
There are a lot more tips, tricks, and observations to make. Huffington Post lists more than 25 tricks, and Gigaom has five really good Windows-transition tips. There are thousands of blogs extolling the virtues of Apple. My list includes just some of the things I wish I had known a while ago.  I probably would have made the switch the last time I had to buy a new laptop. It is a lot easier to learn than the Apple //c...no floppy discs.

By the way, thanks to my dad for not buying me an Atari. The Apple was a much better investment even if I didn't know it at the time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Google Apps for Education Latin America Summit

What a weekend!  I really enjoyed going to the Google Apps for Education Latin America Summit. I found that I didn't take as many notes as I usually do at a conference.  During sessions, I was following along, installing apps, trying out different Google-facilitated educational technology tools.
I did create a Google Site with links to all of the presenters websites and a few notes.  The conference website was very user friendly and having access to all of the presenters material was great. That's number one on the list of positive aspects of the conference, and there is a short list of the areas for improvement.

Positive Aspects:
  1. The conference website was very user friendly and having access to all of the presenters material was great. 
  2. The presenters were knowledgable, friendly and responsive to the audience.
  3. The sessions were active, engaging and provided useful information.
  4. The Slam! I loved the fast-paced demo of so many tools!
Room for Improvement:
  1. At the welcome, keynote session, tell everyone where to find the links to the presenter's websites.  Put up a short link on the screen and tell everyone to bookmark it.  Sessions can start with the meat faster if we have the links in advance.
  2. Organize an introduction session for people who are new to Google. Have a simple session in the first time slot with guidance on creating accounts and the basics (this comment applies to all conferences in which participants will want to use tools actively during sessions). 
My Favorite New Tools:
  1. Pastey - a clipboard for Chrome.
  2. YouTube - I know, what's new about YouTube?  Click on the link to see the  new creation tools linked to YouTube.
  3. Hellosign - This is a great way to reduce paper waste!
  4. Popchrom - This tool allows you to make abbreviations for all the things you type in a Gmail frequently.  You type the abbreviation, and Popchrom inserts the lengthy text.
All in all, a wonderful trip.  I really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues from ASFG better.  I am now an even bigger fan of our Tech Center team.  Now, I just need to convince them we should add a few apps to the students accounts!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What's in a name?

Photo by Auntie P
Hello, I know it's been a while.  In the months since my last post, a lot has changed.  My name has changed.  I am no longer jkies; I am jennie.kies.  What does that mean?  I quit my job in Cedar Rapids where jkies was born, and I finished my master's degree where jkies grew up.  It is now time to be jennie.kies.

jennie.kies@gmail.com - me at home, facebook, twitter, pinterest...
jennie.kies@asfg.mx - me at school between colleagues
jennie.kies@asfg.edu.mx - me at school with students on Google Apps

I'm sure my master's cohorts will continue to call me jkies, and that's just fine.  I'll miss jkies@cr.k12.ia.us, but it was time to move on.  If I hadn't left the Cedar Rapids School District, I probably would have joined the teachers quitting the teaching profession within 5 years.

I found the following on The Best of Bilash:

The United States Department of Education provides the following statistics on teacher dropout in the US:
  • After 3 years, 1/3 of new teachers leave the field
  • After 5 years, almost half of those new teachers have left.
  • In inner city schools, 1/2 of the teachers quit within 3 years.

Bilash describes teacher burnout and my situation very well:
Teacher burnout can result from a heavy and varied course load (i.e. teaching full time and teaching several different subjects, some perhaps outside of the teacher’s areas of specialization), participation in a variety of extracurricular activities (e.g. coaching, teacher representative for school clubs and groups, staff representative for the local teacher’s federation, etc.), feeling isolated and/or pressured or feeling tired/exhausted and frustrated. Teacher burnout can ultimately lead to the teacher leaving the profession, or staying and largely becoming unsuccessful and/or ineffective.

I was teaching five very different classes every day and having all of those feelings.  Even though my Principles of Engineering, Intro to Engineering Design and Digital Electronic students all scored in the competent range on the end of curriculum final, I still felt ineffective.  I didn't have time to get to know more than a few students.  I couldn't provide enrichment opportunities for advanced students.  I was supervising students while they worked in two different classrooms, which meant that I couldn't hold students responsible for their actions like putting a pop tart in the vise or spraying lubricant on the floor by the door.
Now I hear the situation at my old school has even gotten more stressful: less time for preparation and more responsibility.  I'm not sure I would have made it through the school year there. The brand new teacher who replaced me does have a less insane schedule.  Instead of five different classes, he only has three so maybe he has a chance.  I wish him good luck!

Ok, I'm bringing this to a close.  This wasn't supposed to be a post about my old, miserable job, but about the changes in my digital life as I start a new job.  I guess that will be next time, and it will be soon.  Jennie.kies is going to be a more active digital presence because she has the time and energy for it!  Next week I will be tweeting from the Google Apps for Education Conference in Mexico City  (#gafesummit).  How awesome is that!  ASFG is sending me to a conference! I don't have to beg or use my personal days; they're sending me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Energy and Power Technology Integration Lesson Plan

by janie.hernandez55
Throughout the Selecting and Integrating Technologies class, I focused on one of the four classes I teach every day. Principles of Engineering is the hardest class for both the students and me. For the technology integration plan, I focused on Lesson 1.2, Power and Energy. Click here to see the full plan.

Having redesigned this unit, I believe it would be very successful. Students would enjoy and benefit from fewer lectures and more hands-on constructive learning. The biggest challenge would be the amount of time the redesigned lesson would take. The original lesson is scheduled for nine days. As I have rewritten it, it would probably take at least fifteen days. Project Lead the Way is a national curriculum with a standardized, cumulative test at the end of the year. The curriculum is very thorough and provides the concepts, key terms, essential questions and objectives that are required to be successful on the end of year exam. If I implemented this kind of strategy for each lesson, we would not cover all of the necessary material in a school year.

One of the ways I could implement some of these changes without sacrificing content would be to invert or flip the classroom. If the demonstrations and lectures were provided for students to watch as homework, I would have more time in class to provide the scaffolding and discussion described to support the 21st Century Learning and Universal Design for Learning principles. This would also support those principles by providing students with recordings they could pause and re-watch. My current practices do not always support student learning to the fullest because we have to rush through some of the content, which does not accommodate students who write slower or need more time to process. 

I learned a lot about instructional development throughout this class. I found that I am already applying many of the 21st Century Learning and Universal Design for Learning principles, but that I also need to continue being aware of student learning differences and obstacles to learning. Looking back at past final project reflections, there is a theme throughout: content comes first. This particular project was easy in that regard since I was using content that I currently teach. The content is the basis of everything for this lesson and helped me determine what to keep, what to cut, and where I could provide more opportunities for my students to learn, apply and internalize the material. 

This will affect my future instructional development as I continue teaching this class. There is so much content, but I feel that as long as I focus on the content and apply the principles we have discussed throughout this term, my students will benefit from increased motivation and higher achievement. Next year, I hope that I can implement the changes described in this lesson plan along with a flipped classroom so that less class time is focused on lecture, and students have more support during the application phases. I will also apply the principles we have learned in the other four classes I teach especially the gradual release of responsibility framework, which will help incorporate 21st Century Learning and Universal Design for Learning.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Universal Design For Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) incorporates different teaching strategies into curriculum development to provide students equal opportunities to learn. UDL uses research into neuroscience to engage three primary brain networks: recognition, strategic and affective. According to the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), “UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.” I used the CAST UDL lesson builder to analyze and improve the Principles of Engineering Lesson 3.1 Machine Control with a focus on Project 3.1.7, the culmination of the lesson (see lesson plan here).

Recognition Network
Within the Recognition Network area, I found that I am already implementing some of these strategies, which include presenting information in different ways. Throughout Lesson 3.1, Machine Control, I provided my students with materials to supplement the Project Lead the Way curriculum. I know some students find programming languages difficult to learn and implement. It can be like learning a foreign language so I provided some pictorial references that they could use to help them learn the material. I made copies of the power point charts for students to glue into their engineering notebooks. I found flowcharts which correspond with the language and added them to the power point and printed them out for the students as well. Students can also re-read the power point presentations on the class website; in order to provide another means of perception, I am also trying to find a Text-to-Speech tool that I can embed in the class website.

Strategic Network
In the Strategic Network, which is the “how” of learning, I found that I could do better providing options for students for navigating the learning environment and expressing what they know. The design problems in Project 3.1.7 do allow students to choose the level of complexity for their build, which means students with movement impairments can choose less complicated builds. Students also have choices on the level of programming they are comfortable with and the option of designing their programming plan using flowcharts, psuedocode, natural language or code. Students who struggle with writing can type their journal entries and glue them into their engineering notebooks. There are also technologies available for taking pictures and using 3-D modeling software for students who struggle with drawing. In order to help all students, not just those who struggle with organizing their process, I start the project with a group brainstorming session about questions that they will want to answer as they brainstorm solutions to their problem. I found last year that most students didn’t know where to start so this year, I elicited a list of questions during the anticipatory set. I wrote the questions on the board including some quick sketches and a discussion.

Affective Network
In the Affective Network, which focuses on student motivation, Project 3.1.7 provides several different areas for choice. Students choose which problem they are interested in and spend time brainstorming individually. After they have some ideas down, whether it’s drawings, notes, questions, or flowcharts, I have students get together with other people who chose the same problem and share their ideas. Then students have the choice of which group to be a part of or working alone. In this way, there are different options for engagement.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Online Security and Research for Freshmen Seminar

High school students have a variety of needs in the areas of cybersecurity and web utilization. The students have more freedom than ever before and higher expectations to meet. All freshmen at Jefferson High School take a freshman seminar class, which includes lessons on career paths, study skills and strategies to get the most out of high school. The class is one trimester long.

The freshman seminar class provides an ideal opportunity for instructing students in methods to stay safe while using the Internet. It is also a great time for students to learn how to improve their research skills in order to meet the higher expectations of high school. In order to meet the needs of high school teachers, students and parents, I propose a combination of lessons focused on online safety and research skills.

Freshman parents will attend a session during the September Open House. Commonsense Media provides a great presentation to introduce the subject and begin a dialog Digital Life: Our Kids’ Connect Culture. Parents and students will complete the Common Sense media agreement for parents and teens in high school as an artifact. The intended outcome is to raise awareness and improve the dialog between parents, students and teachers. Students will discuss the agreements when they begin the safety lessons during their seminar.
When students begin the research lessons during the seminar, the following resources will also be available to parents.
• Parent Tip Sheet: Smart Search Online
• Parent Tip Sheet: Research and Evaluation
• Parent Tip Sheet: Wikipedia
• Parent Tip Sheet: Managing Multitasking
• Parent Tip Sheet: High Tech Cheating
• Wikipedia Tips
• Managing Multitasking
• Cheating Goes Hi-Tech

The Privacy and Digital Footprint Overview describes two lessons in which students learn about managing their privacy and the dangers of the permanent nature of Internet contributions. Commonsense Media provides the following objectives for these two lessons:

Students will:
• Learn that they have a public presence online called a digital footprint
• Recognize the importance of context in posting or viewing online images
• Reflect on how to protect the privacy of others online
• Consider how to present an authentic and positive image of themselves online

Students will complete these lessons during the first week of the freshman seminar. They will begin the discussion of their online footprint by sharing the media agreement they created with their parents. As the lessons progress, they will be required to discuss their learning with their parents and share the Privacy and Reputation HS Parent Tips. The two lessons are Private Today, Public Tomorrow (9-10) and College Bound (11-12). Although the second lesson is for juniors and seniors, it applies to the seminar class because one of the goals of the class is to prepare students for life after high school.

The Searching Unit Overview describes one lesson in which students learn strategies for conducting online research. Commonsense Media provides the following objectives for this lesson:

Students will:
• Understand the importance of using a variety of search strategies
• Master new strategies for effective and efficient online searches
• Learn to create and execute a five-step plan for conducting an online search

Students will complete the Strategic Searching (9-12) lesson during the fourth week of the class before they begin the career research project. The lesson and the practice will help students be more productive when they research during the rest of their high school years.

Teachers will complete a training session during the pre-service meetings in August. They will complete the online Curriculum Overview tutorial, which introduces curriculum concepts and materials. The focus is on safety and protecting students’ online presence. The teachers will be introduced to the schedule, concepts, and curriculum that will be provided during the freshmen seminar. Teachers will also complete the Strategic Searching lesson in groups in order to help reinforce the skills throughout the students’ high school careers. During these pre-service meetings, teachers will also have the opportunity to discuss implementing more lessons in their own classes and discuss the parent information.

This was written in a word processing software, and pasted into this space. During the transfer, all of the links were lost. You may see the post here with all of the links in the correct places.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Technology Integration Matrix

Using the Technology Integration Matrix, I have created a Google document describing how I integrate technology into the Principles of Engineering (POE) class. I described one lesson from the first unit of POE, Energy and Power, for the Gradual Release of Responsibility Project so I thought it would be appropriate to use projects and activities from the whole unit for addressing technology integration. The lessons are Mechanisms, Energy Sources, Energy Applications, and the Energy and Power Design Project. The students in this class are all sophomores and juniors in high school. They have taken the Introduction to Engineering Design course and have similar levels of technology knowledge and experience.

In the Kies Technology Integration Matrix
, I have described each activity by identifying:
a. which cell of the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) the activity falls under
b. why I chose this cell
c. how I currently use this activity in the class
d. what I would do to take the activity up a notch in the TIM
Following each description is the list of concepts and objectives that are addressed in the activity.

Picture: Jing screenshot of Technology Integration Matrix