Tapped In Newsletter: November 2009

...On the Tapis
November 2009
Issue 144

In This Issue

[1] Tapped In Technology Tip
[2] Tips and Comments from the Experts
[3] News Nuggets
[4] About ...On the Tapis

Quote of the Month - "What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers." - Martina Horner

[1] Tapped In Technology Tip

We have another "class" tonight!"
That sentence probably brings weary sighs from a lot of Tapped In members. Another class, another demand on an already overtaxed and overburdened schedule of "things to do." But, what are you going to do when all those classes are over? After the champagne and partying, will you still have a group of colleagues with whom to share the trials and tribulations (as well as the joys) of teaching? When all those eager young faces look to you for inspiration and guidance on their road to becoming life-long learners, will your passion and enthusiasm be enough to deal with the realities of meeting your students' many needs? If you have been introduced to Tapped In as the participant of an online class, and have never had the opportunity to visit the rest of the community, participate in calendar events and/or join special interest groups, you are missing a huge chunk of what Tapped In is all about. When the dust settles, you've got a break in your college classes, and you're ready to return to TI, take a moment to read why our community was created and what it can do for you as a 21st Century educator, as a life-long learner, and as a person interested in not only learning from those who have gone before you, but also supporting those coming behind you.

If you have comments on how you are helping your learners to acquire and use language as a means to redefining literacy in your K-20 classrooms, please send information to bjb@tappedin.org.

[2] Tips and Comments from the Experts

Whether you are a pre-service teacher or a seasoned educator, if you've hesitated to participate in Tapped In calendar events, the following snips of dialogue might change your mind!

Snip of dialogue from Paul Bohac's October SPED Forum:

-PaulDB: Diane, since you work with special education certificate programs, how is the issue of mental health addressed in your working experiences?
-DianeDP: I teach a course that requires us to consider medical issues in sped so I would say your topic is of great interest to me
-PaulDB: I guess I am trying to learn if there is any attention focused on the topic as a part of professional preparation.
-PaulDB: For example, there is evidence that LD students may experience depression to a higher incidence level than other student populations.
-DianeDP: I invited Quinn Bradlee to speak last week at SU. He just wrote a memoir about his learning disabilities. He facilitates a networking site called Friends of Quinn. From what I can tell, the majority of people with disabilities that are members experience depression. I found that in my own teaching experiences with high school students with disabilities. It was unfortunate that many self medicated with drugs. I had to ask myself, what came first? the drug use or the depression?
-PaulDB: Diane, I feel very confident in saying that the depression preceded the drug use.
-PaulDB: I would go so far as to suggest that the drug use is an attempt to overcome the feelings of depression, if only for a little while.
-DianeDP: depression preceding depression was my feeling, too
-JenniferMW: Paul, do you feel that we are seeing an increase in depression in elementary age students? I've heard some people say so. What do you think? If so..why?
-PaulDB: Some medications have side effects which may include depression or suicidal thoughts.
-PaulDB: Yes, the increase in depression among elementary students does seem to be on the rise.
-PaulDB: Some evidence suggests that it is because of the high stakes testing that occurs within the school system.
-DianeDP: What do we know about ADHD meds and suicidal thoughts? Quinn mentioned that he struggled with both
-PaulDB: Other contributing factors include the economy, the push to "get an education", the increased use of retention when a child does not achieve at a pre-determined level on a "test".
-JenniferMW: What's the title of Quinn's memoir? I'd like to read it and then add it to a database of books I've created on my teacher webpage for parents - after I read it.
-PaulDB: Almost any medication that affects the central nervous system has the potential to affect feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts. That is one reason why dosage limitations are so critical.
-DianeDP: Look at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-06-06-vcfs_n.htm
-DianeDP: This link will take you to a site about his book http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/severedisabilities/gr/Quinn_Bradlee.htm
-PaulDB: Students identified as ADHD are given Ritalin, Adderal (sp?) and I think Focallin (sp?). Side effects for all three includes lethargy, which translates into academic slowness which further reduces opportunity to learn and contributes to frustration.
-PaulDB: Frustration and the corresponding inability to achieve competence creates fertile ground for depression.
-DianeDP: Frustration and feelings of unworthiness can lead to depression
-PaulDB: Imagine how unworthy one is when one cannot achieve acceptable academic performance.
-PaulDB: Peers move up a grade and the child stays behind because of poor test performance despite extraordinary effort on the part of the child.
-JenniferMW: You are preaching to the choir! Do you think the supporters of NCLB will eventually realize the pressure they are putting on students by making everyone fit the same mold?
-DianeDP: No I do not, because supporters of NCLB generally do not understand the issues people with disabilities have with learning
-PaulDB: I don't know but the annual graduation rate is going down from a high of 77% in 1969 to only 74% in 2005. 3 percentage points is not much but it reflects 3.8 million youth under the age of 21 w/o a high school diploma or a GED.
-DianeDP: There is a push for national standards now- what will that bring?
-PaulDB: Here in Florida the Florida Comprehensive Academic Test (our high stakes test for NCLB) has been reduced from a 70% effect on grade promotion to only a 50% effect with other forms of assessment such as portfolios and teacher comments being given greater support.
-PaulDB: The idea of national standards may have a backlash effect.
-PaulDB: Public education is a state issue not a federal issue. School Boards are beginning to understand their role and responsibilities.
-PaulDB: I think the push for national standards may create opposition to the "unfunded mandates" in NCLB.
-DianeDP: the point is we are moving toward nationalizing education- when it has always been up to states and local school divisions
-DianeDP: so if we move in that direction, what will happen to those with disabilities?
-PaulDB: Diane, I believe you are correct, but I am also seeing local communities complaining about the numbers of students who are being retained and the numbers who do not graduate.
-PaulDB: I am also seeing an increase in the numbers of students with disabilities who are being moved, voluntarily as well as by assignment, into alternative education venues.
-DianeDP: what we really have at issue are standards that everyone must meet and students with disabilities who have IEPs reflecting their unique needs and learning goals. How do we reconcile the two?
-PaulDB: Research suggests that the largest percentage of students in alternative education programs are those with disabilities, mostly LD kids.
-PaulDB: You have touched on the key pending conflict. NCLB and the IDEA. There is a current case pending in the federal system, (wish I could cite the specifics) that presented the challenge you described.
-JenniferMW: Paul, since you have a background in corrections, what do you think is the single most important thing we as educators can do to assist students from ending up in the correctional system?
-PaulDB: Jennifer, teachers who focus on helping kids learn how to learn will do much to reduce academic failures. We teach kids how to read in the first three grades and then we expect kids to read to learn thereafter.
-PaulDB: However, not every kid is ready to read before leaving 3rd grade, and not every kid will learn best through reading.
-DianeDP: and we should never stop teaching them how to use their skills to learn
-JenniferMW: Interesting points. I bet a lot of people haven't thought of it that way. When we have sharing at our next faculty meeting or reading inservice I might bring that up.
-PaulDB: If we can help students learn how to learn, how to read, how to listen, how to physically engage in learning opportunities, we help kids realize that "learning" is not just something they do in school.
-PaulDB: After all, education is not the same as schooling, we just seem to have either forgotten that or choose to ignore it.
-DianeDP: Before we go, Quinn asked me to help him find "friends" to join Friends of Quinn.
-PaulDB: And how do we do that?
-DianeDP: http://www.friendsofquinn.com/
-PaulDB: Thank you! I am also the President of a local substance abuse Board of Directors so I also have a keen interest in the use of medication with kids with disabilities so I welcome the opportunity to participate.
Snip of dialogue from Diane Painter's October Action Research:

From the whiteboard in the AR Group room: What do action-researchers do? * Ask questions and examine their underlying assumptions about teaching and learning.
***Develop research questions based on their own curiosity about teaching and learning in their classrooms.
* Learn to observe, reflect, and analyze their teaching and student learning.
* Discuss with colleagues relationships among theory, practice, and research.
* Systematically collect data and research methodology with fellow teacher researchers.
* Analyze and interpret their data and research methodology with the support of colleagues and fellow teacher researchers.
* Share their findings with students, colleagues, and members of the educational community.
* Write about their research.

So, how is this the same or different from traditional educational research?

-DianeDP: Educators who engage in teacher research do so because they have a puzzlement related to their teaching and students' learning. What puzzlements do you have?
-SusanR: It is an informal, qualitative, interpretive, reflective and experimental methodology that requires all the participants to be collaborative researchers.
-TimL: my question concerns using wiki's in the classroom as a collaborative tool
-DianeDP: Yes, Susan- I would also add it is a systematic inquiry usually focusing on teaching and learning- but not always.
-TimL: In essence, I want to see if a unit I teach, involving a class wiki (a website that allows for users to edit), will enable my students and I to meet the ISTE technology standards
-DianeDP: Another thing, the researchers develop their questions based on their own curiosity and do so to inform their own practice
-SusanR . o O ( Research which is orientated towards bringing about change )
-DianeDP: So, in what ways do students meet ISTE tech standards when collaboratively working together to create a class wiki?
-TimL: yes... although I should be more clear with what the wiki will be used for
-DianeDP: Yes, change or in some cases, generate understandings about what is happening- that in turn, may require change
-DianeDP: Tim- what do you have in mind for that wiki?
-TimL: essentially, I am having them create in groups of 5, an encyclopedia article on a person or event in US history
-TimL: however, that article the group of 5 creates, will be edited by 4 more groups of 5 in the subsequent 4 periods I teach throughout the day
-TimL: so, in the end, one article or essay will have been worked on collaboratively by about 25 students
-TimL: although, at any one time, there will be just one group of 5 working on it. I am modeling wikipedia
-TimL: and hoping my students will edit and review the changes that the other groups in different periods of the day made
-TimL: What I'm hoping is, that it will help them become critical thinkers because they will have to challenge the writing and findings of their fellow students who collaborated on the same article
-DianeDP: I would say that your project could also look at how students engage in the writing process- revising in particular- for content as well as how the message is delivered
-TimL: that is a good idea
-DianeDP: This is exciting- especially the part about looking at critical thinking. So Cindy and Susan- what do you think about Tim's study?
-CindyAM: I think it sounds very interesting. I missed the initial part as came in late. My school is working on writing this year and Tim you study would fit right in with my collaborative library research
-SusanR: Are you using a rubric?
-TimL: I spoke to my graduate professor about this, and she recommended a rubric
-TimL: I plan on creating one, though I have never seen what one looks like for action research
-TimL: I assume I will break down the ISTE standards and check off if I think they are met, with examples
-DianeDP: I could help you with that, but perhaps via email
-TimL: I would appreciate that
-DianeDP: Yes, the criteria should be specified so you will know when students demonstrate it when you see it happening
-TimL: in that sense, is it quantitative?
-DianeDP: You can get a "score" to use that way
-CindyAM: Tim, is your research required to be quantitative? Mine is qualitative.
-TimL: no, it can be either or
-DianeDP: Ah, Cindy- what is your project?
-TimL: or even an hybrid
-CindyAM: I'm only on a draft proposal stage and I have 2 questions to work on but I will be involved in some sort of research involving how ICT enables learning thru multiple intelligences or something abut what ICT social skills/competencies are required for a systemic approach to media education in Canada
-DianeDP: Rubrics can be used to evaluate the final wiki product. I would think you will also want to create a checklist for observable behaviors, as well as conduct some structured interviews of students to determine what they think they are doing and learning as they go through the wiki creation process
-DianeDP: What is ICT, Cindy?
-CindyAM: information and communication technology (computer technology) not sure if that is the exact language I will use yet though
-CindyAM: it's just faster to type :)
-DianeDP: Ah, thought so- figured it had to do with technology
-DianeDP: Here is a suggestion for you- think of a major guiding research question such as, "In what ways do students develop technology competency skills when contributing to a group wiki on a famous person?"
-DianeDP: Then think of sub-questions that relate to the main, guiding question.
-DianeDP: For each question then, think of the data sources you can collect that will address each question.
-TimL: That's very helpful. I have had trouble with the wording of the question. Currently, it is "Can a wiki serve as a valuable role in meeting the 6 ISTE standards and performance indicators for students". But I found mine to be too much of a "yes" or "no" question, and a bit broad concerning wikis
-DianeDP: Cindy and Tim- what might your main resource questions be?
-DianeDP: Begin with several phrases to see which one works best. What happens when? In what ways?
-CindyAM: I used "how" questions and I'm still fighting with language too, Tim
-CindyAM: My resource question (draft) is How does ICT (computer technology) enable learning thru multiple intelligences? And it is certainly open to editing!
-TimL: I am changing it from being a 'yes' or 'no' question as it previously was. I would like to incorporate the "in what ways" opening that you suggested
-DianeDP: are you looking at the ways computers can tap into the multiple intelligences (ie. preferred ways students like to learn and express what they know and can do)?
-TimL: "in what ways do students meet the 6 ISTE performance indicators when contributing to a group wiki article on influential people/events?" My rubric/checklist would address the 6 ISTE standards
-DianeDP: Here is a different way to phrase your question: In what ways do computers enable students to use their multiple intelligences in preferred ways of learning?
-CindyAM: Oh, yes, I like that. Easier to find the sub-questions from that.
-TimL: Cindy, do you have specific computer programs in mind yet?
-DianeDP: Tim- I think you are on a roll.
-DianeDP: Yes, Cindy, you can now focus on those sub-questions and as you do, think of data sources that will help you find the answers to those questions.
-CindyAM: Yes, Inspiration, VoiceThread, Blogmeister and glogster
-CindyAM: Thx Diane, Tim, I made a huge web for my draft with the question, my professional theoretical orientations, the how I was going to do the project and the who was going to back up my research (ie research articles/authors
-DianeDP: Now you are thinking, Cindy! I am going to look up some of those technologies- gracious, what is VoiceThread?
-TimL: Cindy, you seem to have a solid knowledge of available collaboration tools
-CindyAM: yeah, well knowledge is one thing and getting to actually use them is another! I have no class I'm a teacher-librarian right now in a school similar to yours but with little tech support from its teaching staff
-DianeDP: Here is something else to keep in mind- students as researchers, too. When I did my study on cyber safety and ethical uses of computers, my students loved helping me collect data.
-TimL: Diane, what do you mean by having students help collect data?
-CindyAM: thx for the "student help collecting data" Diane, I forgot about that!
-DianeDP: Students helped me interview their parents about cyber safety issues such as how they use parental controls at home, etc. It was fascinating!
-TimL: thanks Diane, and everyone else! this was helpful
-DianeDP: Best wishes- let me know if you want help with a rubric. I can be reached at dpainter@su.edu

[3] News Nuggets

TI members Roger Goodson and George Klemic share this exciting information: Their proposal for the Organising Committee for the Ubiquitous Learning: An International Conference 09, has been accepted. Details of the proposal have now been added to the public Conference website.

The Ubiquitous Learning: An International Conference 09 will be held between 2009/12/05 and 2009/12/06
Posted by TI member Curt Tofteland:

Curt is the founder & producing artistic director of the Shakespeare Behind Bars program (now in its 15th year). To learn more about the program, view the award winning documentary by Philomath Films (on YouTube or Netflix) &/or join the Shakespeare Behind Bars page on FaceBook.

He is putting together a panel on arts in the prisons for the Association for Higher Education Conference in Los Angeles, August 3-6, 2010. If you are attending the conference or live in the LA area or would like to attend the conference and participate on this panel, please contact Curt at tofter@aol.com.
CALL FOR APPLICANTS: Knowles Science Teaching Foundation 2010 Teaching Fellowships - Do you have a passion for teaching high school science or math? Are you committed to becoming an outstanding professional teacher? A Teaching Fellowship from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation can make all the difference.
Do you have a News Nugget about yourself or another member of the Tapped In Community? Send your News Nugget to BJ Berquist at bjb@tappedin.org

[4] About ...On the Tapis

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