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Monday, February 28, 2011

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do. ~B.F. Skinner

When the time comes to choose between the Internet and a book for a research project, I usually choose a book. Between skyping with a friend and talking with them in person, I choose the latter. However, I will be the first to admit that when it is late at night and the library is closed or when a good friend is away at college, technology is a fabulous tool. With the information revolution raging on in full force, I thought I would use this post to illustrate how technology has impacted my family….

I have a younger sister, Elizabeth. She is 10 years old, and a genius (at least I think so). Technology is becoming a huge part of her life. She makes imovies when we go on vacation, arranges her own songs in garage band, writes poetry on her laptop, and downloads all the latest apps for her itouch. She knows how to use almost every form of technology, and she is creative with it, for example, she does not have a cell phone but she was able to figure out how to text her friends, FOR FREE, through her itouch. She also figured out how to set up her own skype account, which she uses to talk to her cousins who recently moved far away. I consider myself “tech savvy” but Elizabeth is on her way to becoming the most wired kid I know.

Although I know that Elizabeth is gaining skills and experience for her future with all of this exposure to technology, sometimes I can’t help but worry about her and her friend’s idea of a good time. They spend it playing computer or itouch games, surfing the web, or playing Wii. After school, when she is done with homework, she gchats her friends or skypes with them. Don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to see her taking advantage of such technology, but after reading reports from social scientists and child psychologists, I worry that all of this technology is preventing her from developing strong bonds with friends and inhibiting her from gaining important social skills.

“For one thing, text messages are not capable of revealing facial expressions and body languages, which makes a substantial impact in communication. Empathy is not a product of text messages but more of a reaction to the emotional expressions of the receiver in communication. I doubt whether all advancements in the visual and video technology can substitute for the observation, feel and touch factors of communication of interpersonal communication. The big question is whether true friendship and social interaction can be possible without empathy.”

To read more go here

Technology is taking us to places that we have never gone before. Social Networking tools like Facebook is acting as the catalyst for the protests in the Middle East, blogging and twitter are allowing people to leave a digital footprint, and our smart phones help us stay more connected than ever.

Is this fabulous, is this bad?

I would love to hear your reactions to this technology takeover J

Until next time…


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lady GaGa, a Possible Role Model to Teachers Everywhere?

As another year’s Grammy Awards come and go, Lady GaGa is still one of the top people to watch in the music industry. So the question is, what sets GaGa apart from her counterparts? I made a list J

1. Her ability to consistently

create exciting, iconic, and memorable songs and performances for her audience

2. The public only knows her as Lady GaGa. Not a lot is known about her private life except the fact that her real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

3. Her outfits and costumes are always the most anticipated part of the Red Carpet. At last year’s Grammy’s, she showed up in an outfit made of meat, this year, she showed up in an egg-like capsule, with an entourage carrying her.

4. She keeps people guessing.

5. Even if someone doesn’t like her, they can’t help but follow what she is up to. She is so over the top that people can’t help but pay attention to her.

People’s infatuation to Lady GaGa’s made me think about a teachers appeal to his or her students. What could teachers do to capture the excitement and interest of their students in the same way that GaGa captures the attention of her audience? Think about it, what if students were always excited to learn from their teachers? Always looking forward to what the teacher would do next? With GaGa, even the people that don’t like her can’t help but watch and follow what she does. I am not suggesting that it is easy or a practical request of the teachers, but I found a few teachers that are trying to make their students go GaGa for learning and school.

One teacher recommends creating a theme for your classroom.

When walking into a classroom, first impressions can set the tone of what is being taught and how. Classroom themes have long been used by elementary teachers as a way to capture a student's attention, reinforce teaching, scaffold learning from one area to another and create a cheerful environment for study. However, they are also an invaluable tool for upper grades.”

Read more here

Other teachers put themselves in vulnerable situations to encourage their students to not fear stepping out of their comfort zones. Lady GaGa pushes the boundaries just enough to make her fans interested and inspired by her work; teachers can do the same by putting themselves in the hot seat on occasion to show their students that taking risks and opening their mind to new experiences can be thrilling. Here is a blog post about a teacher who challenged his students to give him a random topic to write a Haiku poem about. His response to the experiment was,

“I've found that if I get excited, perplexed or nervous about the process myself, the students get more involved and I become more empathetic.”

I found this last article to be most inspiring. The article was based around teachers that were nominated for American Teacher Awards. The article has different tactics and teaching technics that these phenomenal teachers use in their classes. Like Lady GaGa, these teachers think outside of the box, they take risks, and they don’t always follow the lesson plan. Out of all the things that these top-tier teachers said, this quote from Myra Dietz is most impactful,

It's important to challenge students to have their own points of view, to not just accept something because an adult told them it was so."

GaGa is extreme, and although she may not be the perfect role model outside of her music career, there are some interesting parallels between her music career and a successful teacher’s teaching strategy. I would love to hear your reaction to this connection or any stories you may have about a great ‘GaGa’ teacher.

Thanks for reading J

Until next time,


Monday, February 7, 2011

I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. ~Author Unknown

I never thought this day would come, when the homework load finally lighted, the stress of getting into college is no more, and my fellow seniors are all finally enjoying themselves after 7 semesters of hard work. As happy and rewarding as being a second semester senior is though, I can’t help but think of how sad I will be when high school comes to an end.

Looking Ahead…

There are many things that will change in a few short months from now. First of all, I will be a freshman at a University, getting an incredible education and playing basketball. With this change in location I expect to grow a lot as a young adult both academically and socially. For one, there is a certain comfort level that I have in my high school; knowing where everything is, knowing the majority of my peers and teachers, and knowing what classes to take, make for a relatively stress free experience. This sense of security will not exist at my new school. As a freshman in high school I had the guiding help of my junior sister, but my coming time as a freshman won’t be as nurturing. I will be sad to abandon my status as senior in a few months, but I feel ready to accept my title as a college student, even if it is as a freshman. Another big change in my life will be the absence of parents. I am used to having my parents present in all aspects of my life, and it will be odd to not be living with them. As I think about the responsibility that comes with being a college student, I am glad I have had so many positive role models in my life and have been exposed to experiences where I have had to be accountable and think for myself. College will be the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and I am interested to see how I will change and grow once I start classes next August.

Will I be Prepared?

All my thoughts about college have reminded me of one of my first posts, The Other Side of Learning. In this post I talked about how learning math, science, reading and writing are just half of the curriculum you learn throughout your time in school. Some of the things I mentioned learning were, communication skills (with peers and adults), problem solving, study skills, listening, articulating ideas, time management, and creative thinking. (To see the full list, follow this link). More than ever, I think these skills that I have developed since preschool will be ever necessary in the college environment. If an incoming college student is lacking in any of these areas, their transition into college will not be smooth, and they will be less likely to succeed.

I wonder what my life will be like in college. I am looking forward to being a member of the basketball team, and I hope to rush a sorority. I can’t wait to meet people from all around the world, and look forward to sitting in my first college class.

To my readers…

How was the transition from high school to college for you? What was the least expected thing that happened to you? What was the scariest part of the transition? What would you recommend doing in order to make the transition as seamless as possible? If you are in my position and are still a high school student, what are you feeling as the Fall is rapidly approaching? I would love to hear your opinions about this topic!

Until next time…