Sunday, December 7, 2014

Blog Post #16

     Here below is my final reflection on how EDM310 has affected me as a course.  I hope that you enjoy.

     Also, in the spirit of reflection and reaching the end of a journey I present to you a beautiful painting by MegPrk titled Mountain Top.

Painting of a girl on top of a mountain

Sunday, November 30, 2014

C4T #4 Summary

     For this round of C4T, I chose the blog Two Writing Teachers.  My first comment was on a post called Biographies: Making Connections by Dana Murphy, which was about the use of biographies in education.  The post also detailed the subtle nuances that go into writing a nonfictional biography such as the ability to create a gripping story while still maintaining the truth.  My comment consisted of me congratulating Mrs. Murphy on the use of biographies as reading is a sadly dying pass time.
     The second comment was on a post titled Note-Taking: A Writing Genre Worthy of a Curriculum of Its Own by Anna Gratz Cockerille.  The post itself consisted of a description of the types of note-taking and their ratings of use.  It also detailed a plan with which to teach the skill of note-taking to students of any age group, and my comment essentially stated my enthusiasm for the entire process.  I have found that the skill of taking notes is one that many college Freshman must pick up quickly in order to prevent a poor grade.

Blog Post #5 Part B

     During my time in EDM310, I can honestly say that I have watched my PLN grow from near nonexistence to quite a solid foundation as I begin my venture into the profession of teaching.  At first, it began with nothing more than a few sites assembled on Symbaloo and a fledgling blog, but now it is has blossomed into a full grown powerhouse.  Where there were once only a few posts on my blog there are now a whopping 36, which does not include this one, and I now have a variety of teacher blogs that I check in on from time to time as well as a variety of YouTube channels that I keep up with.
     I remember thinking at the beginning of this semester that I would probably make a few new connections, but I had no idea that this much progress would be made.  Also, I didn't realize the incredible impact that these resources would have on the way that I research and communicate.  In addition to the digital strides within my PLN, I've also managed to create some avenues at the high school that I used to attend in the form of two mentors that have been quite helpful in the beginning of my quest to become a teacher.
     All in all, I am quite happy with the progress that my PLN has made, and I am excited to see where it will end up.  In celebration of this fact I have posted a painting called the Tree of Life by FerdinandLadera.

Painting of the Tree of Life

Sunday, November 23, 2014

C4K Summary November

     For my first C4K in the month of November, I had the pleasure of commenting on a blog written by a young girl named Valeria P.  Her entry was entitled "My Cause and Effect Writing", and it detailed the meteorological process by which a tornado is created and its results.  I congratulated her on her sound grasp of this particular corner of the scientific realm and wished her a happy and productive school year.

      My second and final C4K took me to the blog of a young lady by the name of Kayla J. who told the first part of quite an interesting work of fiction.  The blob post was titled "The Unknown Phantom Pt. 1", and it was every bit as bone chilling as the title suggests.  The story consisted of a father with exceptional singing talent who was tricked into losing his voice by an dark specter.  His son then rushed him to the hospital only to find that nothing could be done for his father, and that in fact the specter had stolen his father's voice.  I expressed my belief that Kayla should continue to hone her story telling skills within my comment, and I truly hope that she does.  She seems to have a knack for it.

Blog Post #14

     The following blog post is an analysis of the article Teaching Can Be a Profession.

1. The Cream of the Crop
2. Quality Over Seniority
3. Turning the System on its Head

1.    I believe that Mr. Klein raises a true if not disturbing fact about the percentage of our future teachers.  I myself can attest to the astounding lack of discipline that is practiced by some of my colleagues.  In my opinion, Mr. Klein hit the nail on the head when he said that we should only accept applicants from the top third of graduates.  Another example of this same practice lies in the age old profession of agriculture.  After a harvest, a farmer will take the best of his crop and save the seed from that portion to use in his next harvest thereby improving his future products.  This same principle I think should be applied to education.  One should have their best and brightest teaching the next generation not those that scraped by on the skin on their teeth.

2.      Mr. Klein makes the point that in the current system that the factor that determines the rank or merit of a teacher is not determined by the ability to teach but is instead determined by the amount of time served.  I have personally seen this system in affect, and I can attest to its lack of efficiency.  My personal experience involved two teachers that taught higher math subjects that were not state tested, and as a result their teaching prowess no matter how lacking was considered acceptable due to their seniority.  This attitude led to many students leaving home high school with a less than standard understanding of both calculus and discreet math.  I personally agree with Mr. Klein, and in my humble opinion I do believe that a promotion and retention program based on merit should be instituted; however, I cannot state a sure fire way with which to execute this system.  It could be possible to enact some form of standardized subject based test that coincides with each individual teacher's lesson plans, but this logistics behind this seem astronomical.

3.     The final major point that is raised by Mr. Klein in his article is that the system that is in place is no longer functioning efficiently and should be addressed.  A solution that he offered in this portion was the creation of board of teachers that would self govern and address the implementation of the aforementioned systems.  This council if you will would preside over the issues of teacher merit as well as the admission of new applicants.  I once again agree with Mr. Klein in this assessment as well as his suggestion for a type of mandatory internship and an entrance exam that would be required for anyone attempting to enter the system of education as a teacher.  I feel that this system of checks and balances would no doubt remove unwanted clutter and create an efficient educational program.

     All in all, I believe that Mr. Klein has raised some very enlightening points that could only have been discovered after so many years of working within the system itself.  I'm sure that the practice of increased accountability among those of the teaching practice would no doubt create a leaner and more efficient program as well as generate a new respect and higher quality occupation in general.  I can only hope that someone in the position to make this occur will begin to make the necessary steps.

     In closing I will leave you with a painting by H. Charles McBarron titled Bataille Yorktown in honor of the educational revolution that I believe should take place.

Painting of the storming of redoubt at the siege of Yorktown

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Project #12 Part B Group #1 TT2

     Below is my group's Project #12 Part B.  I hope you enjoy.

Blog Post #13

Blog Post #13 Gamifying Education

In what ways can you gamify education in your future classroom?

a. Watch Extra Credits: Gamifying Education
b. Watch The Gamification of Education
c. Watch Extra Credits - Games in Education - How Games Can Improve Our Schools

     The idea of gamifying education has always been a dream of mine, and I am happy to report that the practice is beginning to gain momentum and attention.  The central theory behind the gamification of education is that progress begets progress, and this essentially means that instead of imposing a fear of failure we should foster a sense of growth.  To put it more simply, a student should not feel as if they have nowhere to go but down as is common in today's classrooms.  Instead, they should feel as if they can only progress towards success.
     This idea of moving forward can be implemented rather simply and without any real change to existing curriculum.  An example of this is:

      Say that you are in a college level course that has four tests as the only grades for the class.  Each of these tests is worth 25 percent of your grade as is shown below.

Test 1  25 points
Test 2  25 points
Test 3  25 points
Test 4  25 points
Total 100 points

     Now subconsciously one would walk into a classroom at the beginning of the year with the understanding that they had an A for the course.  This belief then normally becomes stress as they see that in order to maintain that high grade they must perform adequately on these tests or else they will fall to a failing average.  Now let's take this same class and grading scale and put a gamification spin on it.

Test 1 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 2 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 3 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 4 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Total 100 points          = 10,000 xp

     In this example, I have utilized a style of gamification that is somewhat akin to the leveling system of a role playing game (rpg).  I do this merely out of personal preference as the main point is that the student feels that they are rising instead of preventing a fall in terms of grading, but I digress.  As you can see, the total possible points on the tests have been multiplied by 100 and translated into experience points (xp), which represents the students' progress through the course.

A  -  Levels  90  -  100
B  -  Levels  80  -  89
C  -  Levels  70  -  79
D  -  Levels  60  -  69
F  -  Levels  0  -  59

     As is evident, the traditional letter grading system is still in use, but instead of starting at the top of the mountain and try not to drop, the students will climb from the bottom and and be rewarded along the way with level progression.  Now, each of these levels is gained every 100 xp, so every test is essentially worth 25 levels in this example.  To show this model in action we will use a fictional student named Adam and plug some grades in to test our system.

Adam's grades:
Test 1: 82  (2,500 x .82 = 2,050 xp earned)
Test 2: 90  (2,500 x .90 = 2,250 xp earned)
Test 3: 82  (2,500 x .82 = 2,050 xp earned)
Test 4: 96  (2,500 x .96 = 2,400 xp earned)

Test 1: Rose from level 0 to level 20
Test 2: Rose from level 20 to level 43
Test 3: Rose from level 43 to level 63
Test 4: Rose from level 63 to level 87

Adam's final grade was an 87.5 according to his levels, and he achieved a B for the course.

     In and of itself, this system is exceedingly simple to apply, and the mentality of self-propelled learning that it generates is remarkable.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the example that I've outlined above is purely a bare bones replica.  The true personalization of this method lies in something call achievements.

     These achievements, which are inspired by Microsoft's Xbox achievements, are simply bonuses that students can unlock by going above and beyond what is required of them.  An example of such a feat would be at least ten students getting over 2,375 xp (above 95) on Test 1, and for this achievement all the students could be granted a reward such as a bonus of 100 xp.  This simple reward will also begin to implement a sense of community within the classroom as the students that are naturally gifted in the fields of academia will strive to assist their peers in order to raise their chances of gaining the bonus.  This will also lead the lower scoring students to root for their higher scoring comrades because it will encourage them to succeed as a group.

     Now in order to answer my own question,  I would most definitely make use of achievements such as bonus xp for early completion of assignments, +10% xp applied to a day's homework for group achievement on a test, and possibly classroom wide perks that could be earned as a whole.  In addition to achievements I would of course utilize the leveling system for grades as well as strive to create open ended assignments that would provoke a self-propelled learning mentality.  All in all I am quite excited about applying gamification to my future classroom and giving my students something to strive for.

     Additionally this system can be applied to any number of subjects with relative ease, but the true key lies within peaking the students' collective interest.  One can even expand gamification to tackle a multitude of subjects simultaneously, and entice students to go out and find more on their own.  All of this can be achieved by simply placing the figurative pot of gold at the end of the extra mile, which is honestly where the rainbow lands anyways.

     In closing, I will leave you with a picture titled "The Game" by Hans Peter Kolb.

A picture of mountains shaped as chess pieces.