Monthly Archives: February 2013

Google Glass

Okay, so anyone who has any interest in technology and Google’s enterprises is familiar with Google Glass, which, apparently will allow you to record anything or “Google” anything on the fly and give you everything that you are searching for in a display on the glasses.

These glasses certainly will provide the next level of instant gratification that our cell phones have been bringing us closer to over the past few years. And it will also certainly provide another driving hazard because search results would block the road. But, as a future educator my question is, How will this affect education?

I’ve already mentioned instant gratification, meaning once you ask a question you get an answer, this could be applied to instant research as well as a greater potential for students to find a teacher’s mistake. The students could also record what the teacher says and does for future reference.

However, it could also be the source of infinite distractions of the students and infinite problems for teachers, because of the instant gratification offered by the Google Glass. All a student would need to do is ask it to “Google” anything under the sun, and he/she has it in front of  them.

While this is a great new technology, I feel like the distractions they will cause will be bigger than the positives offered by the Glass. So, I don’t forsee them being allowed in a classroom any time soon.

Project Based Learning vs. Traditional Instruction

This week I have done a good bit of looking into Project Based Learning, particularly on the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX for short) website. I love the wide variety of stuff that they have on this site and for all of the major subjects.

The question is, is it better than traditional instruction? Since I have never really experienced a class that is strictly project based, I can only answer theoretically, the answer I think, is yes. The next question is: Why?

Surely there are a few different reasons, but the biggest one, in my opinion, is student engagement. Let’s just think for a minute, how engaged were you the last time that you sat in an hour long lecture? Now how engaged were you the last time you worked as a member of a team, trying to put together a project? To me, there is no doubt in my mind that for engagement project based learning is way better. The more engaged the more that is learned, the more learned the better the test scores, The better the test scores the better the retention rates and college acceptance rates. So as a high school teacher, why wouldn’t you want your students engaged?

Another positive, is that it teaches the students valuable work skills, such as collaboration and decisiveness. When working on a project as a team, students must work together to get the common goal of a good grade. In the work-force they must also need to know how to collaborate to make whatever company that they work for better. It can also teach decisiveness, how important is this fact, should it be something that is emphasized, something that is put to the side, or should it even be mentioned at all? That is something else that can help in the student’s future in the workforce.

One more thing that I just thought about that this project based learning helps, public speaking. If you have the student’s present their projects they will intuitively learn how to speak in front of people, especially if you invite guests to the presentations.

Given all of this, I believe that Project Based Learning has a huge potential to help students learn. But, do I believe that traditional instruction (lectures) should be removed all together? No, I don’t. Especially in my subject of math, I feel as though some introductory lecture will be necessary. But only enough to give the student’s the knowledge of how to do what I need them to do, then we can go into a project.

So, I believe that the future of teaching is project based, but lecture cannot be entirely removed (from all subjects at least) because I believe that a well done lecture can help prepare for the project to be done.

ALEX Lessons and Podcasts

The Alabama Learning Exchange or ALEX for short is a great resource for teachers as it has a great myriad of lesson plans, games, and podcasts that can be used in a classroom. Being a future math teacher, I was surprised when I first saw the large amount of material on ALEX that is for each of the Math classes.

This is a great example of a Geometry lesson plan that ALEX has supplied. It is a unit that is based on Geometric Symmetries, specifically reflections. This lesson plan fits in with the Alabama Geometry Standards numbers 3, 4, and 5. So it is a key lesson in the early portion of the Geometry class.

This is an awesome podcast done at Childersburg High School that works with a lot of the same Geometry that the lesson plan does, with the big difference that the podcast shows them putting the lesson into application by way Quilts.

ALEX is a great resource for teachers of all disciplines thanks to the wide variety of lesson plans, games, and podcasts that it contains. I know, I only showed two Geometry lessons, but if you don’t believe me, go check it out for yourself.

Mathway.com and app

As a current math student, and future math teacher, I have been looking for a website or app that might help me solve more advanced problems. I think that I have found it in mathway.com this helps you find out the answers to basic math, algebra, trigonometry, and even calculus and statistics! All you have to do, is tell the site what type of math you are doing and type in the equation that you are trying to solve. Then, just hit solve and it give you the answer. Now, you do have to pay to view the how to solve portion of the problem, but this site can serve as a fancy calculator for free.

Since mathway is a website, it can be accessed by any computer or smartphone with internet access, but there is also a mathway app in the iPhone and Android markets. The app works exactly the same way as the site, only mobile.

I  can see using this on a limited basis in the classroom, letting students know that it exists, but advise them only to use it to check their answers. Either way, mathway is a solid site and app to help solve math problems.