Friday, November 21, 2014

Millennial Narcissism? I think not.

I love my students, but gosh. I am so frustrated right now.

Are your students prepared for class?  What does “prepared for class” mean when you say it?  Does that mean the instructor has prepared everything for the students for class or the students have come prepared to participate in class? Whose job is it, this students being prepared to participate in class business?  I thought it was a combined effort – I do my part and they do their part.  I am starting to figure out that I am just plain stupid wrong.  I’m expected to do all the work here.

Over the past few years I have grown increasingly frustrated with student participation in class.  I’ve never had trouble with good class discussion.  So, I have been thinking they are just unwilling.  Unwilling to do the work.  Unwilling to put themselves out there. Unwilling to care.  You get the idea.  Unwilling.   

This semester has been the worst.  Why?  I really want to know.  I have been thinking about this quite a bit. This can’t be a simple case of millennial narcissism.   Why do they not take notes?  Why do they not read or watch videos before class? Why do they not feel any obligation to participate in their success?

I ask a question and they stare at me.  They don’t even bother to look down at their notebooks to avoid eye contact.  Guess why?  They don’t have any!  What is this note taking you speak of? -- I can see them thinking it.  

At one point it had become so ridiculous I just gave up.  After a series of questions about a video we had JUST watched (because they did not watch it on their own as was assigned) and nothing but blinking eyes looking back, I asked how many in the room were breathing.  Blink. Blink.  I then asked how many were no longer breathing.  On that one I got three blinks.  I think I confused them with math or philosophy or whatever.

So, I have been trying to do some reading, been trying to figure this out.  I know that I am going to have to change my approach, as I doubt they will change theirs.  Honestly, I have tried a variety of approaches.  Nada.  I am wondering if this isn’t the end of class discussion as we know it.  This is a blended class.  We have tried online and F2F discussion.  They are mildly better at the online approach, for obvious reasons.

Here’s the deal.  I am starting to think they are just not ABLE to participate.  If they can’t memorize it, then they don’t understand what learning is.  If I haven’t provided a work sheet or study sheet, they don’t know what notes are.  But by golly, they BELIEVE they will be successful. 

I don’t want to sound like I am beating these hopeful people up.  I love my students.  I really do. I think they are wonderful people, and I want nothing more than to be a guide to their success.  No sarcasm intended.  I just feel like I am not getting them there.  I also feel like every few years I have to lower my expectations one more notch.  

http://thewritingshopaholic.wordpress.com/tag/narcissism/
What am I missing??????   I can find all kinds of articles about millennial narcissism and helicopter parents and a grand sense of entitlement, but I think there is more to this. Do you?


Just ventin’
Lee Anne

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Is Information in Danger of Losing Its Value?

from Tiger Bookstore Blog
I tell ya, I love how the universe can be “just in time” just for me every once in a while. This morning am sitting in my office thinking about a conversation with my students last night, and along comes this post from TeachThoughtTeaching Google Natives to Value Information.  It found me. Really.  The author discusses so many of my frustrations - not sure that's the word I want to use. 

In class we were talking about memory.  How do you remember information for a test?  How do you know to memorize information that you need in order to learn more information. These are first semester freshmen – just to let know – they know everything already, so I often wonder why I am even there. The start of the conversation was on test taking, but then we wandered into the whole availability of information and how we can just “Google” what we need to know.

 
They argued that they that don’t need to memorize; they have access to all the information they need. I said, think how annoying it would be to have to look up the times table every time you wanted to do some sort of math. Many of them said they have to pull out their phone calculators to do simple math, anyway.  (Seriously!?)

So, you see where this is all going.  (To hell in a hand basket?)  We know “things” are changing.  It’s okay.  I am good with it – and part of it, for that matter.  But I wonder if we shouldn't start paying a little more attention. The article makes this point:

“. . . the easier something is to access, the less it is valued. It still may be useful, but the process of seeking information—one so full of learning potential in and of itself—is replaced by smarter keyword searches, and improvement by Google of their own search engine algorithm.”

If we know how to search better, we can find anything we want to know. I have huge, huge concerns about credibility and relevance.  Huge.  Helping students develop the nose for credibility and the skill for evaluation is not easy. We can give them all the check sheets and examples we want. 

I still feel there is value in just knowing some things, even things I can look up easily and be pretty sure the information is right. 

I do like author's list at the end: 10 Strategies to Encourage Digital Natives to Value Information.  Good list.

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

BTW - I am teaching "Better Internet Searching" tomorrow from 4:30 - 6:30 pm.  Still room!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Enter the Infographic

http://content.easybib.com/educators/
downloads/infographics/#.U8_OqfldV8E
We see them everywhere, infographics.  They are a tool that uses visual design, text, and research (we hope) to organize ideas, sell something, teach something, basically communicate.  They blend words and pictures. Remember picture books?  Remember Powerpoint, Excel graphs? Infographics (and tools like them) are a digital, online iteration of this kind of communication. 

I like them.  I like the challenge of trying to "write" in a new environment, one that employs all my 21st Century skills, such as they are. I like the opportunity to communicate and stimulate with colors and shapes. 

It's fun. But as cool as they look, their deliberate simplicity is deceptive. Have you tried to create one?  I have.  I've tried hard.  I'd rather write an essay. 

When I first started playing with infographics, the tools were complicated and clunky - unless you were prepared to pay for the next level up. The next level up was, of course, where all the "front-page" templates were. Templates make things much easier. They make your work look on the screen how it looks in your mind. I was not prepared to give up.  I kind of let the whole infographic universe stew for a while. While it was stewing, new tools came along, techniques became more defined . . . I found ways for this to make sense in a classroom with students at any level. 

So NOW, I am ready to do a class on infographics in the fall.  I've dabbled a bit as part of my research and learning process.  You may have caught the SOL Training I did last spring on Infographics or the workshop session I did at Eighth Floor Open World this summer.  They were fun, and I have learned a little more about the technology and technique each time.  

More and more I come across someone who writes well about this medium.  For example, this post in Edutopia,  Inventing Infographics: Visual LIteracy Meets Written Content.  I come across insights and application like these and I get excited to teach my students something new, something more relevant. 

Come play with me this fall!  We'll play with colors and pictures and words and create things that are remarkably sophisticated!

Just sharin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What does it take to be a Quadblogger?

Quadblogger?  What is this quadblogging you speak of?  I ran across this term in an
Edublogs email.  I had to know more. It's a great idea. 

Having a class blog is a great idea, but what fun is it if you don't have an authentic audience? This makes that happen. 

"Since its conception more and more teachers from across the globe have used Quadblogging to gain a genuine audience for their learners. Whether you are a Nursery teacher in Nigeria or an University Lecturer in Uruguay, Quadblogging will Quad you and your learners up with three other classes matching your preferences selected in the sign up process."

Is anyone doing this? 

Just Wonderin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Like Walt Whitman Always Said, YOLO!



Yesterday we dipped our toe in the “conference” waters.  We held our first Eighth Floor Open World.  I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  We are already making plans for next summer. 

The pupose of Open World is to help educators reignite their passion for teaching and learning.  At most colleges, universities, and K-12 schools, summers are a little slower and quieter.  Many of the people who attended can use this time to attend professional development events such as this.  Others were just taking a much needed break from a still busy schedule.  Regardless, there was definitely passion.  Educators amaze me.  They never stop learning and doing more for their students. The passion is always there. 

For me, Scott, Linda, and Katy, that’s what yesterday was about for us – doing more for OUR students.  Summers for us are crazy busy.  Classes are full and days are long and we absolutely love it.  Spending our summers with educators like these is what reignites our passion.


My favorite moment from yesterday:  “Like Walt Whitman always said, YOLO!” 


Great video - treat yourself for a minute. 

I hope we see you at Open World next year!
Lee Anne

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

SummerTime~FunTime~EighthFloorTime


Enrollment is open for summer.  We have some great stuff going on during June and July

 ________________________


Eighth Floor Open World - Reignite the Passion.  Wednesday June 18th. This is an all-day conference full of workshops, pop-up learning, SOL Trainings, vendors, and you.  For more details visit  http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#op or https://sites.google.com/site/8thflooropenworld/  

Open World is designed for all of our consortium members. Regardless of what or who you teach, there will be opportunities for you to reignite the passion for both you and your students. 

Would you like to present at the Eighth Floor Open World?  We were hoping you would! Deadline for proposals is June 3rd.  If you have questions, just let us know.  (Proposal Form)

______________________________________



NOW WHAT?  

Our summer workshop this year is a special treat.  We will be partnering with the Woody Guthrie Center to offer a two-week blended learning opportunity.  We will meet both online and face-to-face, July 21-30, 2014.  For details visit http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#now 


______________________________________


SOL Training! 
Synchronous Online Learning . . . Training. 
Our NOT boring version of the boring webinar!  Our sessions have "SOL"  Just sayin'.  We will have several scheduled throughout the summer, but also look for our SOL Training during Open World - for those that want to reignite the passion from home.  Check the details: http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#SOL
______________________________________


I certainly don't want to leave out our schedule of established online, blended, and F2F classes. 
http://eighthfloor.org/schedule.html


Questions?  http://eighthfloor.org/contact.html


We are looking forward to working with you this summer. 
Thanks!  Lee Anne

Monday, March 24, 2014

What are the rules for using your smartphone in a social setting

What are the rules for using your smartphone in a social setting?  Actually, a better question might be, what do you WANT the rules to be because apparently there are not currently any.  I do find it a little annoying when I go out for a meal or a social gathering and sit and watch someone else check their phone and/or carry on a text conversation with someone else – or several someone elses. What’s the point of being in the same place if everyone’s attention is on someone not there?

Beth Turner shared this article on Facebook.  It really struck an annoyed little nerve I seem to haveWhat To Do With Your Smartphone While You’re Having Dinner

 “There is apparently a name for device usage while in places others might consider it rude: electronic displays of insensitivity, or EDI. And when author Joseph Grenny surveyed more than 2,000 of his newsletter recipients for a study, "Digital Divisiveness," they said these kinds of displays are getting worse. VentureBeat sums it up:”

So, EDI? Did you know there is a name for this behavior?  I’ve always felt there should be.

Just sayin’
Lee Anne

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

What are the Cool Kids Already Enrolling in for Spring?

Yep.  It's back to the grind.  No more dancing sugar plumbs.  No more, "one more snow day - geez it's so cold."  Put on your mittens and get on to work. 

Let's focus on the good news.  The days are getting longer. The temps are getting warmer. And, the best news of all . . . enrollment is open for spring classes on the Eighth Floor. Actually, enrollment was open before the holiday break, but it was hard to focus on with all those dancing sugar plumbs. 

So I was looking at what people are already enrolling in. I guess in more modern terms I should say, I was looking at what was trending on the enrollment site.  Here's what the cool kids are doing at the moment. 

  • Online Learning Series
  • Blended Learning - Is there a model for you?
  • Anything to do with Excel (Geez - when did that get sexy again?)
  • All of our SOL Trainings - those are so much fun for us. We hope you are liking them
  • Technology in the Common Core
  • Twitter
  • Google the Next Step

Of course, those are not our only classes. We have TONS more - go see -   http://eighthfloor.org/schedule.html 

We have a whole new crop of SOL Trainings.  For those of you who are not cool or groovy like us, (snicker) that means Synchronous Online Learning . . . Trainings. Check out the whole list.  http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#SOL.  

If you have questions about the classes or enrollment, just ask. We know a lot of stuff, and what we don't know, we will make up. 918-828-5341  Just sayin'. 


Hope to see you in a class or two this semester!
Lee Anne


If you are still hoping for sugar plumbs, here ya go -- SUGAR PLUMBS! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaching Writing . . . Online: Are we teaching old rules for a new game?

http://www.peanuts.com/
I've been thinking about this a lot. Writing for an online environment is just different than writing for “paper.”  Don’t you think?  Let me say more!

I have been wondering if I am doing students a disservice by insisting on rules that may not apply anymore to many of our newer writing environments – namely, anything that is online.  Some examples might be, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, Twitter, any social media really. You get the idea. Can we continue to ignore the internet?

Here’s another thought for all teachers.  Writing is a highly universal activity.  As much as we know that modeling is important to learning, are we modeling the best writing behavior/skills?

I really want to know what you think.  Are we willing to let go of the scholarly rules for a more mixed media world?  I agree that right now it may be easy to define a proper time and place for each.  But how long will THAT last?

Here are some of the points I want your thoughts on:
  • Are bullet points okay in a graded discussion forum?
  • Are emoticons okay in a graded discussion forum?
  • How do you feel about hyperlinks?
  • How do you feel about hyperlinks instead of a formal Works Cited?
  • What about the more conversational style of online; is that okay for a grade?
  • Can you have an online voice and a paper voice?  It’s kind of like inside and outside voices.
  • What about the use of first and second person?
  • Do we need a five space indent?
  • The internet is meant to be interactive.  Are your online assignments addressing that?
  • Is it okay to include video or images as part of your argument, instead of text or to take the place of quotations, summaries, paraphrasing?
  • What if they really did write to their supposed audience and not their teacher? 
  • Aren't we making some rather misguided assumptions about other readers? Do they care about a classic, five paragraph essay? Is that communicating in the 21st Century?

There are a number of issues that fall under the whole idea that reading online is just different from reading print:
  • Screen size, lighting, being able to focus
  • Are you familiar with the “F” pattern?  No.  That is not a new online swear word.  It’s the eye pattern for how we read a screen, not a “Z” pattern for a book or magazine. 
  • Walls of words seem more like barriers than invitations to learning or conversation. Kind of like this blog post!
  • How do you feel about blocking rather than paragraphing?
  • Could you teach the inverted pyramid style verses the class five paragraph essay? The reader could quit reading at any time - click on a hyperlink or just get bored. 
  • Do we have time to change all our rubrics? I guess the more important question is does anyone have a rubric for using emoticons I can borrow?

I know.  I hear you.  What does all this chatter have to do with the pursuit of excellent communication and writing skills? Most online writing is about persuading (and entertaining) a particular audience to make money.  What if you took the last three words off that last sentence? What’chu got now?

I am doing a short class on writing in online environments next semester, so I've been thinking about all this lately.  I am curious where you land, or if it is even on your radar.  

Just thinkin'
Lee Anne