Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reflecting on My Learning: Introduction to Statistics

Image via lendingmemo [CC BY 2.0]
This semester I'm taking a couple of courses for my grad work, as usual lately. To be honest, I was pretty nervous for this semester, because I am taking my first ever statistics course.

Yep, that's right. I made it through high school, my undergraduate work, and even my M.Ed program without a required statistics course. (To be fair, in my M.Ed, we did take a "Research in Education" course that included just enough statistics to help us become good consumers of quantitative data, but we didn't do much with creating quantitative analyses.) I'm enough of a "math guy" to feel confident in my ability to do algebra, and I taught math, and even math methods for elementary teachers as an adjunct instructor. I know the measures of central tendency, I know how to create a bar graph and a line graph and a scatterplot, I understand P-values. But there is a lot of arcane terminology in the first few chapters I've read for the course... Skewness. Kurtosis. Nominal vs. Ordinal vs. Interval Variables.

While working on my homework early in the course, I tweeted:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Cold and Soaking Mist

A cold and soaking mist began to fall, chilling him through. The breeze picked up and he began to shiver, even as he was trying to keep moving, trying to warm up. His shirt began to cling to his skin with the damp, and soon droplets were shaking loose and falling to the ground. Alone, in the pre-dawn gloominess illuminated by passing headlights, he longed for home. A place to dry off. A place to warm up. A place to melt away the misty misery...

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I'm describing my bike ride this morning. It was 47 degrees and fully dark out at 6:00 a.m. as I pedaled away from the house. By the time I reached the corner, the mist was just beginning to fall. By a mile in, I was shivering, and water was dripping from my handlebars. And as my shirt soaked through, I did decide to cut my ride short and head home. I was miserable out there.

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I wonder if this description could also refer to classroom climate? Do students feel warmly enfolded? Or are they shivering in the drenching mist?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Adventure in Flipping the Classroom: Middle School Curriculum and Instruction

I'm teaching a course this semester in middle school curriculum and instruction. While I can't choose one course as my "favorite" to teach (that's like choosing between your kids!), I do LOVE to teach this course!

I'm using the flipped classroom model for teaching it, which has been a great learning adventure for me. This means I record lectures for them to view outside of class (along with other readings and preparation work,) and then when we meet together in class we apply the ideas to real situations.

A screengrab from an online lecture I was recording.
Just check out the passion...or craziness...in those eyes...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

7 Attributes of Great Teachers

What characteristics does it take to become a teacher? Or, even better, what attributes describe great teachers? When you think of great teachers you know or have had, what stands out to you about them?

Thanks to my Twitterfriend, @johnccarver for sharing this gem.

I have been a professional educator for 17 years now, and while I have come to the point where I can say that I'm a good teacher, I'm still learning, still striving to get better. But here are the seven things I know for sure all great teachers have in common.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Copyright...and Copywrong

I've written before about how I think teachers are among the worst culprits at breaking copyright, and that we aren't doing our job if we don't model appropriate use of copyrighted materials for our students. (Our students are probably right up there too, but at least we tell them things like "cite your sources," right?)

I recently came across this video online (thanks @DailyGenius!) and it helps to explain how complicated copyright issues have become in the digital age. Consider it food for thought...


Given the immense complexity of copyright law, are we justified in throwing up our hands and saying we can't hope to keep up, so why bother citing sources for things? Tempting as that might feel sometimes, I think we need to model digital citizenship for our students and explicitly teach it.

How do you approach digital citizenship with your students?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Called to Follow

It's the beginning of the semester and we're thinking about "calling" in Introduction to Education, as in, "Am I called to teach?" This is a big question! I believe that teaching is a calling, and that God equips those called to teach with the gifts needed for the challenges of this vocation.

But I know that I've struggled with this notion of calling, and I can see it in some of my students too. Sometimes I have really struggled with whether I am following God's call. It sure would be nice if He would paint His message to me in blazing letters across the sky! Or at the very least, send a direct message to me in a way that I can't possibly miss...

Image by garryknight [CC BY 2.0]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stalling

Image via Mark Harkin [CC BY 2.0]
I remember watching some old movie or TV show when I was in elementary school back in the 80's (it was probably the kind of show my mom wouldn't have been happy to know I was watching.) In the show, the Bad Guys were trying to hijack a plane--they had guns!--but the quick-thinking pilot was able to save the day by pulling the plane up into a steep climb so the Bad Guys couldn't climb their way up the aisle to get into the cockpit.

Eventually, though, the plane stopped climbing, and "stalled." Now, 10-year-old me wasn't exactly sure what caused a plane to stall...but it was pretty clear what that meant: the plane stopped flying upward, nosed down, and began to dive back towards earth. Of course, this was great adventure on the show, because it meant that the Bad Guys went tumbling forward toward the cockpit, banging their heads and getting knocked out.

Meanwhile, the passengers were safely buckled in their seats, screaming about the plane plummeting toward the ground, and the editors cut back to a shot of the pilot and co-pilot straining as they heaved on the control sticks to regain control of the plane. Of course, they were able to level out and land safely, where police officers met the plane on the runway to take the Bad Guys away.