Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review of a "Lesson Plan: Class Collection of Book Reviews"

While the main ideas behind this assignment are interesting, it seems that the overall project design and application as a resource could be done better and more efficiently. The purpose of this assignment is to create an online database of book reviews by students for other students, both in the immediate vicinity and the digital vicinity, to access and use to later make their own decisions on what books to read. So, the purpose boils down to create an accessible online resource.

The assignment is to fill out a seemingly simple form on two of the books read over the course of the year. If a student has a large reading list and is reading many books over the year, why only pick two? Why make this assignment a final, rather than an accumulating resource? Doing it for every book read over the year would turn the assignment into a process building on each and every book read and review written so that by the end of the year the students would not only have a very substantial database to share with others, but would be experts at writing beautiful book reviews, and in essence supporting their views, incorporating new vocabulary, their own ideas, and being able to write in a new style. It would teach organization and process, not just seem an end of the year task. Also, by making it a year long assignment that the students were responsible for posting themselves, it would enable the other students to see each others' work as the year progresses and encourage the students to keep up with each other.

Additionally, the suggestion to use Google Docs as a database source is difficult to share and to search. Therefore, even though it is online, it is really just "out there" not in an accessibly searchable form such as a blog or class website.

In general, the idea of this lesson plan is in the right place, it seems to me that the conceptual process and its applications are just not quite developed.

Problems Facing the 21st Century Classroom

In groups we attempted to develop a plan of expectations of what we see the 21st Century Classroom being for ourselves as teachers and for our students. There were two major points that my group determined would be an essential and influential part of our futures in the teaching world. Before, discussing them, I would like to point out that I found it very interesting what a conservative and almost sadly realistic approach we took to this proposition. While many of the other groups discussed all of the great technology that they would have we discussed two main things: greater communication with parents and the student at home and how to use experiential learning approaches.
Through many of the new technologies we have discussed in class, aka Twitter, wikispaces, blogger, today's meet, etc., we realized how easy it is now to meet with and stay in contact with the home lives and parents of our students. We would be able to update the parents on classwork, homework, and just generally get them involved in our classroom activities by providing a venue for them to reach us, other than the once a semester parent-teacher conference. This would also help to prevent having those other meetings, you know, the meetings about the student being a problem not the meeting about how to help prevent the problem because the meeting has come too late. This increased ease of communication would also help students be able to have resources to take their learning home and really get their family involved with it. One of the biggest concerns that I have, is the fact that some students may be more technologically intelligent than their parents and thus would cause issues with their parents being able to feel involved or understand how to be involved. I guess it is just something to be prepared for.
The other topic we discussed was incorporating experiential learning opportunities into our classroom. I feel this idea is largely because we are also taking a class called Baltimore as your Classroom, which is all about getting us acclimated to Baltimore as a city and Baltimore as an invaluable resource. I hope that I will be able to learn more about how to get my classes into the city, even for just simple things that many people take for granted, like the library system. I think I need to start looking at things that seem so easy and conventional, questioning them, and asking are they really so easy? Or do they just seem easy to me? I think this may be where many gems are hidden.

-Response to JHUSMED Class 2

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Response to David Harvey's A View from Federal Hill and Spaces of Utopia

What I have gathered from both of these articles, especially from “Spaces of Utopia” is that both authors are stuck trying to utilize fifteenth century ideals and conceptions of the city to deal with twenty-first century problems. The idea of utopia is nearly a forgotten dream, it is not what drives the work and desires of individuals. No one dreams of a country of like-minded individuals with perfect similarity and an inherent lack of problems. I am not saying that people want the kind of social and economic problems that Baltimore currently suffers from, but they want the enrichment of societal styles and lifestyle possibilities that come from the collaboration and unification of many people. If this wasn’t the dream of the modern world, why are hundreds of people a day moving to the United States, to live and experience this, whatever this is, regardless of their potential plight. Maybe that is the issue, we desire a semblance of unity rather than a utopia, a unity based on differences working together with each of their individual styles. In general I feel that as an entire community we are not using modern innovation to approach this as a problem, a problem belonging to everyone involved. It is not just a “social issue” caused by the wealthy in discrimination against the poor. These were issues fifty years ago in the 1960s – its 2011, the people who started these issues are gone, we have to deal with them as problems and approach them the same way our society would to any other conventional technological issue in order to advance. As society and technology move closer and closer together, our analysis methodologies, synthesis reconstructions, and ultimately solutions must merge into a unified approach as we develop a new construction of the future. So, simply to answer the question, Baltimore is not a utopia, of any sort.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day Two

So, I have completed my second day of graduate school, and I am not entirely sure where all of this is going. My first class yesterday was with TeachPaperless discussing the Paperless Classroom and everything that I ever thought was normal and good about my education and school and classes and college and everything else seemed to be turned somewhere between upside down and into another dimension. The thing that hit me the most was the concept of fully realizing that we are a part of a digital culture now, that the teaching model currently used is that of the twentieth century, the TV box, and that we should embrace digital culture to explore and have a completely interactive relationship with the rest of the world. I have embraced Facebook just like all other college students, and remained skeptical of Twitter, until yesterday. I now have a Twitter also of the same name and decided that the best way to reflect and explore and record this entire process and my development as a teacher it to further embrace this digital world and write a blog, just like everyone else. At least maybe I will actually write all of these things down, because I feel I am more likely to type tham than to write them down. Maybe that is a sign.