Archive | August 2014

Screencasting For Educators

After reviewing screencasting.com for the first time to work on a project, I realized this is a great tool for teachers to incorporate in the classroom with their students, and for students to learn about narrating their own videos and even PowerPoint presentations.
This tool can be more challenging than podcasting, because you will need your video to be created in a specific format in order to upload it, otherwise it will not display properly, there is also limitations in terms of video space, your video must be 100 MB otherwise you need to download another tool in order to upload your video to screencast.com. However, regardless of its minor challenges, this tool was extremely beneficial to me, not only allowed me to practice narration, but it also enhanced my creativity by thinking about several choices and new ideas to create a movie clip.

Screencasting.com facilitates teacher’s presentations and lesson plans by incorporating visuals into their lesson plans, or just showing a video or webpage of any particular subject of their choice. It was the first time I used Windows Movie Maker to create a video, and I feel it was somewhat challenging because of the microphone sound, the quality was quite low and it was too much background noise. Overall, screencasting.com gives us the opportunity to showcase our ideas, it was a great experience for me because I consider myself a visual learner, and these kind of tools not only enhance student’s visual analytical skills, but they helps educators by facilitating and adjusting lesson strategies according to the student’s needs either visually or orally.

Racism In Public Schools

While browsing for educational articles online, I was not surprised to find plenty information on the web about racism in public schools. Therefore, I decided to write about racism, not because I want to focus on my personal school experiences, but because I feel this is one of the most sensitive topics and a never-ending issue we still face in the education system. As I typed, one question crossed my mind: When and how can racism stop in public schools?

Last year on April 17th, Huffpost.com published an article about a white teacher calling a black student “monkey.” The 12 year-old daughter called her mother to describe her teacher’s attempt to stop her while the publication was taking place. The kid said “She told me; my teacher called me and asked me if I was a monkey.” She was humiliated in front of other students. Previously, another post from January 16th stated that a ‘White Privilege” lesson in Delavan-Darien High School was developed to teach “white-guilt” for the way in which it was defined in the student’s handouts.

The furious parent informed that it was defined as “A set of advantages that are believed to be enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.). Theorists differentiate it from racism or prejudice because, they say, a person who may benefit from white privilege is not necessarily racist or prejudiced and may be unaware of having any privileges reserved only for whites” The parent defined the student’s assignment as “indoctrination” or that teachers were implanting a doctrine into students to make them more likely to act in accordance with it.

Moreover, we all know that for a very long time, public schools had been segregated by race and socio-economics. A lot has been written about Latinos and African-Americans were mostly getting a poorer education driven by low expectations. According to the article “Confronting the Racism of Low Expectations” by Julie Landsman, having low expectations from students can be considered one form of racism in public schools. Teacher’s expectations from minorities may not be as high as what they would expect from white students, probably because they assume white students are not only fluent in the English language but they are smarter. In addition, some teachers might argue that the education system is facing many gaps such as achievement gaps or school readiness gaps; however, I believe that the main gap faced today in education is the cultural gap. In my opinion, states such as New York City and California must emphasize on cultural diversity when thinking about new inclusion strategies in the classroom.

The hopeful thing about these situations is that since school systems are man-made, we can still change it and make it work. Racism in general, not only affects public schools, but it affects society. These solutions can start in education, and eventually, we can see a change in the world. If minorities don’t speak the language correctly, does not mean they don’t understand the lesson or that they have a learning disability. What if the lesson was explained in their own language? I think that would make a huge difference.

Ten years passed after I decided to go back to school, do my associates, and with it, algebra. I was unable to understand equations when explained by the professor, maybe because last time I saw algebra was in high school back in my home country. I couldn’t understand it, and decided to study equations in Spanish with a friend. Not only I remembered how to do it, but I passed the class with A. I was able to use a different learning style and succeeded in class.

I also think teacher’s perception of racism is important. When and how can teachers tell if racism exists? And if they do, will they speak about it? Megan Boler stated in her article The Ethnics of Affirmative Action Pedagogy that all speech is not free. Social classes, power, race, and power inequity ensure that all voices do not carry the same weight. I understand there is no easy solution for this, and that teachers have a lot on their plate, but the more we promote culture in the classroom, the more confident students will feel. Students see teachers as role models, and if they sense they are being stereotyped, or that teachers are not making them feel capable, they will fail. From a candidate teacher’s perspective, I think in order to control racism in public schools we must understand culture. By understanding culture we can understand students, and once we understand students we can create, individualize, and enhance their lessons to get positive outcomes.

Girls Can’t

bdhesse

“Girls can’t…” my little brother begins to say as he stands there in his red and white jersey. He’s holding a baseball bat in one hand and a ball too large for his small hands in the other.
“Stop saying that!” I yell, interrupting him. “Is that all you know how to say? Girls can’t do this, girls can’t do that.””Well you can’t!” he yells back.
“Seriously?” I ask in disgust. “How many times am I going to have to out play you before you stop telling me how bad I am?”
“You don’t out play me!” he cries.
“Who tackled who in football yesterday?” I demand.
He sticks his tongue out at me. “You just got lucky,” he says.
“That’s it!” I cry. I grab him by the jersey and through him onto the couch beside me. I pin him down, making sure he can’t go anywhere, before I…

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On Good Books and Knowledge

bdhesse

“The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.”-Walter Bagehot

I came across this quote today and thought it was very interesting. How many of the books published each year are actually good books? This is hard to say because different people like different types of books. How do we determine which books are good and which aren’t? Is the determining factor popularity? Or is there a more objective way to determine the value of a book?
When this quote was written, most people were still illiterate. School was still completely private and very expensive, and education was viewed as a luxery. There certainly weren’t nearly as many books on the market as there are today. So how has time changed this quote? Has the quality of the books available improved or diminished? Most people today, at least in the…

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Technology is NOT andragogy or pedagogy

techanded

At times, I like to look up articles related to educational technology, in order to stay current with my field. I attained my MSEd almost two years ago, May 27 2014 to be exact. As technology grows extremely fast, I already feel somewhat outdated but aware about new information out there related to technology resources I would need to keep up with. Occasionally, I read about teacher’s greatest fear: Being replaced with technology. Reading such distorted information can be very entertaining. Marshall McLuhan once said: “we are so embedded in technology we can hardly see it” and these teachers still seem to not realize that we are using technology the minute we open our eyes. The truth is, our society can no longer function without technology, and some technologies have become necessities, in fact, we only notice technology with it breaks because we cannot use it. In today’s classrooms, we still have teachers who resist learning and integrating these technologies because they feel that using the computer room will only cause distraction.

Teachers need to understand that technology is not pedagogy, or better yet, andragogy. Andragogy unlike pedagogy refers to adult learning, teaching adults how to use technology effectively. Educational technology is using technology as a tool and uses these tools and resources in the classroom regardless of the lesson content area. Educational technology is helping teachers with tutorials, engaging classroom techniques, and collaborative tools. However, most teachers don’t care about these tools, they feel they do not need to learn these computer resources in order to teach students to read, write, or solve math problems. The truth is that they shouldn’t. Effective teaching does not mean teachers have to learn the latest Apple or Android apps, learn coding or HTML, or build websites. Good teaching means inspiring students to actively engage in their own learning, researching and analyzing information based on their own experiences.

Good teaching is creating a fun, learning environment to ensure students retain what they have learn for a lifetime. Technology has changed the way we teach and the way we learn, however, basic teaching rules have not changed. Today, good teachers still have to perform the same old tasks: collaborate, communicate research and share resources, manage behavior and effectively deliver content. The only difference is we now have the tools to speed up the process and improve effectiveness. Teachers will always be teachers; machines can never teach students how to be good digital citizens, only humans can, so let’s focus on using these tools to create better lesson plans, and differentiated instruction so that we can build creative and persistent learners in the digital age.