P.Q. + C.Q> > I.Q.

This week is the last week of my CEP 812 course – I almost can’t believe it. In true fashion of these technology education classes, I was asked to create “something”. Something. I wasn’t given a specific program, I wasn’t even given specific things to put in the “something”. It’s both a terrifying and exciting prompt!

We were asked to read Thomas Friedman’s article in The New York Times about P.Q. (Passion quotient) and C.Q. (Curiosity quotient) and think about those combined are more powerful than our I.Q. I created a video to summarize my passions and curiosities using a new program KettleCorn. I’d used a similar progam before, PopCorn Maker, and had first tried to use that. However after I spent about 4 hours creating my video and making it pretty something weird happened, everything erased, and a blank copy had saved instead. I was shocked; literally I stared at my computer open-mouthed for a whole minute. Then I looked up online how I might fix it and heard that someone had created a sister program heavily based off PopCorn Maker but with an undo button. I then redid my video on the new program and I honestly like it better. I’m really practicing my last blog post about learning from failure this week. 🙂

I hope you enjoy:

http://kettlecorn.innovation-series.com/v/jf_.html

References

Friedman, T. L. (2013). It’s the P.Q. and the C.Q. as much as I.Q. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0

How My Virtual School Views Technology

This week I gave a survey to staff members at my school in order to better understand how our school is already using technology to help students and how open we are to learning more. I created a 13 question survey using Google Forms to help me get to these answers. You can view (and even take!) the survey here: Technology Survey. However this survey is specifically geared towards educators at my school, Michigan Connections Academy, so many of the questions and/or options might not make sense to you.

I sent the survey out Sunday night and was happily surprised by the results. About a third of the staff took the survey during the work week! You can see the breakdown in this info graphic created using Infogr.am. [I’m sorry to say that I didn’t realize WordPress doesn’t support iframes and I cannot have the pretty pictures right here for you and you must click to view them.]

As you can see I got a wide range of teachers from different grades, though more secondary than elementary. I would expect that since last year I taught 6-12 grade and they know me better, so responding to a survey from me might mean more to them.

I learned from my survey that educators at my school are using a WIDE RANDE of digital tools already, outside of the required ones. This infogr.am shows the breakdown per grade level as well. 

Of course I wanted to know more than just what technologies were being used, but I wanted to get a glimpse at why they were using those specific technologies. To learn more click on this link for an infogr.am that allows you to choose grade level groups or just look at the total of responding educators.

So now I know who responded, what they are using, how they chose why they are using it (or at least the beginning of knowing this information), so now I wanted to know how we can change and continue to learn and use new digital technologies. Staff members were really interested in learning more and getting trained, especially if it didn’t take up any more of the precious time during the day: see this infogr.am here for more!

Now that you got a summary of the data I collected, I encourage you to read my short (about 700 words) paper that goes over my analysis of the data. If you have any conclusions, comments, helpful ways MICA can improve please let me know in the comments!

References:

Create infographics & online charts | infogr.am. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from https://infogr.am/app/#/home

One account. All of Google. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from https://docs.google.com/forms/

Stupid SomeECard

Why People are Stupid

For my graduate class this week we were assigned to read most of the first half of James Paul Gee’s book The Anti-Education Era. If you are not familiar with his work or his ideas I suggest checking him out. He is an educational expert that is a huge promoter for learning through games. I suggest checking out the video below where he talks about how students can learn through gaming. He talks about how people learn things while playing games and then choose to extend their learning when they are passionate about the game. If students can (and do) learn this much from video games – why can’t we incorporate that into education?

In his book The Anti-Education Era, he discusses why people are stupid and the many limitations that prevent us, as humans, from being smart and capable of solving complex problems. I would argue that a lot of the “complex problems” that he speaks about in his book more closely resembles the definition of a “wicked problem” that I learned about last week since they are unsolvable and rely on an excess amount of variables. Some of these problems he discusses are the financial collapse of 2008, religion, universities, global warming, and education in general. If you would like to read more detail about this book and how I relate to the ideas in my teaching please read my short paper.

References

Edutopia. (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnEN2Sm4IIQ

Gee, James Paul. (2013). The anti-education era: creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

TRF_Mr_Hyde. (2012, June 15). Stupid [Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottchene/7340414978

Complex Problems

Complex Problem in a Virtual Geometry Classroom

A new school year has just begun and I’m on both sides of it as a teacher and as a student. My graduate class this semester started with a discussion of different types of problems that exist; well-structured, complex, and unsolvable problems. To simplfy describe them well-structured problems have one best solution, complex problems have many things to use in order to solve it in many possible ways, and unsolvable problems are self-explanatory – they can’t be solved. These unsolvable problems are also mentioned as wicked problems and often the “solution” is just the best that you can come up with at the time with the information possible. These wicked problems can exist for may years, with new “solutions” replacing the past “solutions” when more time and knowledge is available.

Complex Problems

This week I thought of well-structured and complex problems present in the area/perimeter unit of Geometry. I will work with a couple Geometry students in my virtual Title 1 classroom and I want to use a mix of well-structured and complex problems to help them learn the material. The complex problem that I adapted came from an activity I did my first year of teaching in West Virginia. I was in a more traditional brick-and-mortar school teaching mainly Geometry to 10th grad students. I handed students a piece of graph paper, instructions, and told them to design a dream house using all polygons that we had learned. They then “bought” material from me in the form of scrapbook paper and determined how much it would cost to cover the floor in their dream house. Students enjoyed this project and I heard a lot of good conversation around the room about how to solve for the area of each room and then the cost of each room. However, I am a virtual teacher now and I can’t complete this activity in the same way.
Floorplanner Dream Park

My park created using Floorplanner.com

I am happy to say that I found a free program that will help me complete this complex project online! Floorplanner is a free tool where you can search for items and then create a layout on a grid from a top facing view. Using this tool students start with a blank grid on the screen. They can then search for items to place on their grid to show their park layout. I searched and found a circle pool, a hexagonal gazebo, a rectangular park bench, and more! I would also allow students to design something other than a park if they desire as long as they place different polygons into the area. With Floorpanner I am able to complete this project in a virtual environment and students can share their work online with each other. With the program being a free download all students in my class can have access. Students can get immediate feedback from me and their peers on their project rather than having to mail in a physical model and wait for me to receive it and critique it. Floorplanner also will allow students to quickly change their design plans by just clicking and moving their object instead of having to literally cut and paste or redraw their object.
 
Complex Problem: Use Floorplanner to design a park with 10 structures located in it. You must have a structure with a following shapes: regular polygon with 5 or more sides, rectangle, circle, and square. Use your floorplan to design your dream park and then determine how much sod you will require to cover all open space with new grass.
 

(That video was created using Screencast-O-Matic – which is a wonderful free site that I love! I have my students create these and send them to me throughout the school year because they are so easy to create and share.)

I’m excited to see how their project will work out this year! Students always find many ways to solve this complex problem and they learn a lot from discussing their ideas with their peers. I’ve had students determine the area of the whole park and then subtract each object’s area. I’ve had students “cut” up the grass area into easier shapes and figure out the area of each before adding them together. I’ve had students approximate with the boxes on the grid paper and then defend why approximation will work well for purchasing sod. The fact that there is not one correct, or even best, way to complete this project is another reason why this classifies as a complex problem.

 
I could see this work in brick-and-mortar classrooms as well with 1:1 technology, partners, small groups, computer labs, or done as my original paper idea. If you try this out with Floorplanner or have done something similar before in your classroom I’d love to hear about it below!
 
References
 
1. Celestine Chua. (2013). Problems. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/11583360154