Friday, June 18, 2010

Emerging tech dos

I have chosen to make a book of my sons friends and family. I guess you call it digital scrapbooking, you might call it story telling. My son really likes to read stories with us, and I want him to know the faces of the friends and family he does not see all the time.



Through this site you can upload, share, store, print, and make many items related to photography. From t-shirts to tea-cups.
From simple cheap prints in any dimensions to elaborate collaborations.

This is as easy as clicking which photos you want to add and clicking upload. It can be as easy as clicking autofill in which the program will throw images all over the place.

Great when you have 20 or so baby pictures and you want to keep them together but do not care about order, layout etc. Or great for a starting place.

It can also take hours with thousands of possibilities and endless opportunities. Why not make your own coffee table book?

I enjoyed this and I think you will too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

That was delicious

Here is my delicious page. It is in the very beginning stages, only the minimums for now. I will add more soon. This site is very interesting. At work I am rarely on the same computer twice in the same hour. So being able to bookmark from anywhere is very exciting to me.

You can see what I found delicious at the following URL: http://delicious.com/joshua.yoder

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Comments and reactions to, Accountability, Yes. Teaching to the Test, No.

So, I stopped reading the instructions for this assignment at the rubric. I did not catch that I was supposed to add this to my blog. Well Crap.

But here is what I wrote last week:

Maybe I am way off base; I am certainly ignorant of what it means to feel like a teacher. I mean to say that only a person who is feeling the pressure to get results no matter the students’ ability, work ethic or parental support can truly know the reasons to start teaching to pass the standardized test. I have trouble seeing a true difference in the teaching to a list of standards versus teaching to a standardized test. It seems to me that if the test in question is a standard measure of what a child should know by a certain point in their life, then is that not the same? If there is/were a test that tested everything a student was to learn in order to be “educated at a high school level” a practicum for graduation, would that not be the standard all teachers at that level would teach? As an EMT-B, Emergency Medical Technician-Basic, after I had passed the quizzes and demonstrations for the classroom portion of the licensure program. I then took a standardized test which required 80% to pass. This test was a sampling of all of the common and some of the more common issues and EMT faces. I also had to demonstrate in a standardized testing format the skills an EMT-B could/would use. In this way prior to being licensed an EMT must have met certain standards and demonstrated certain abilities. Then and only then, could I be released to work in an ambulance crew with lives at stake. Is the problem that teachers are forced to teach to a test, or is it the test does not reflect the teacher approved standards? Is this not that much different than a teacher examining students with a final, in which the students are asked to demonstrate a semester of learning in one three-hour session?

What gets left behind in key decision making are the "day-to-day classroom assessments, which represent 99.9 percent of the assessments in a student's school life" (Deubel, 2008) Is the problem the time lost in testing? Is it the standards that are being tested to do not match what the teacher wants to teach? Or is the more? “You can't teach all of the standards; I agree there are too many.” (Deubel, 2008) It would seem that the author feels there is too much to teach, is this a time factor as stated above? Should some of these standards been met before the grade and merely covered tangentially? In my lifetime, be it short, I have witnessed a school system which switched from diagramming sentences, learning the ins and outs of grammar in “old school” ways to that of the new way, learning grammar by practice reading. What has come out of that school is a sharp decline in students’ ability to write. It is still something I struggle with and work toward. (Sentence ending in preposition, intentionally) I use this as an example, had the system been “old school” and drilled grammar into my head at an early age, the Language Arts section of the sophomore year high school standardized test would be covered by an earlier age. Instead there is a large cramming session of grammar before the testing season. What lesson does that teach? Not grammar, not writing, nor teaching.

Several times the author alludes to ideas like “focusing on THE TEST, we are denying our young people valuable experiences they need in the 21st century,” but what are these experiences being missed? (Deubel, 2008) As a substitute teacher, I find there is plenty of room in each classroom for movie time, for fun time, and non educational activities. I am not advocating that students be subjected to learning all day, every day in school, which would be crazy. In one example at a local intimidate school I witnessed a teacher reading to his students. He was loud and acting out the parts of Treasure Island. It was fun to watch and when I asked him his approach, he said he was making reading fun for these 6th graders. I responded that from my perspective none of the students were looking at the book, they were watching the play. He did not like it, and our meetings became more formal each time I worked there. On another occasion I heard a commotion coming from the classroom and upon investigation I watched the students throwing marshmallows at him. I never asked to see what sort of education that was. Later I read in the newspaper that he was flying to California to accept one of the nation’s highest teaching awards. I also learned the novel they were “reading” was not on the 6th grade list, in fact it was a 4th grade book. I heard many teachers of his school talking about his students performance that they were all behind the NCLB standards, but his award made him untouchable and them the “bad guys.” I am not so na├»ve to think this is indicative of all teachers at all levels. I am arguing that if these are the standards we as perspective teachers will be graded on, then we have to teach them. To the test, well that seems like semantics to me, but to the standards on the test, yes. If that means a little less fiction, a few less movies, and a few more collaborative efforts then that is the business we are choosing for ourselves. The people want accountability, the government has put into place a test to measure success, like it or not, teachers have to adapt. Does that mean some of the classics will move over for a new standard? …maybe.

Douglas Reeves (2004, cited in Deubel, 2007) provided good advice: "Even if the state test is dominated by lower-level thinking skills and questions are posed in a multiple-choice format, the best preparation for such tests is not mindless testing drills, but extensive student writing, accompanied by thinking, analysis, and reasoning." (Deubel, 2008) In this, I whole heartedly agree. The tests are supposed to be the minimums a student at that level has mastered. A teacher who teaches above and beyond these, covering them all will have students who pass easily, these “tests.” In the first wave of ISTEP+, a standardized test that links to graduation in Indiana, I passed it as a sophomore. My question was, if that is the minimum of what a student needs to graduate high school, then why am I not in college instead of a junior? It was my opinion then that the tests needed to be harder, so an average sophomore could not pass it. But then as I watched three or four students retake the test for the 6th time needing to pass it in their senior year, I began to wonder why they were graduating with me. One thing was true in that situation, either the test was a joke and the system had completely failed these few, or the test was right on and our system had failed these few. They all graduated, some with waivers. What does that say about my diploma? To me it makes it meaningless, just a piece of paper. After all these 18-year olds had been granted the same “honor” and never passed the test I found easy at 16.

I think the problem is illustrated by the high jump field event at track meets. The bar is set, if you jump over it you continue at a higher level. If you do not, you stay where you are until you have mastered the set of minimums. It is my opinion that age does not equal readiness. We have become a society where a student being held back is atrocious. It takes a major failure to admit that a student is not ready for promotion. In this I think we have the wrong name, it should not be no child left behind, it should be promoted when ready, and no student will be passed forward. In college, an administrator has no problem saying a person has not achieved senior standing and must remain a junior until that has been met. Fifth-year seniors are the normal now, not the odd exception. Could it be that the teachers would have a better chance teaching to the level their students will be tested, if the students themselves are ready to be at that level? I see a trend in the schools I substitute teach to separate, by ability the students in almost every subject. I am waiting to hear they have advance and remedial physical education.

“The combination of growth and achievement might lead to a more complete accountability system. (Deubel, 2008) We need to make sure the standards are fare, be it minimums or average level. We need to make sure the students are ready. Then and only then can we expect teachers to excel in this new system. It truly is a combination of growth and achievement; I would take it further and say that only if the student has achieved that growth they achieve the next level.

Works Cited

Deubel, P. (2008). Accountability, Yes. Teaching to the Test, No. The Journal .



Friday, May 28, 2010

The Podcast

In seeing some of my classmates post, I noticed it was going to be exclusively a "gabcast.com" event, this podcast assignment. So I went looking for another option. gCast.com, another podcasting site is not accepting new signups and as of February 1, 2010 they disallowed new uploads. Option 2, Clickcaster.com, this is either down or has been removed from the web. Try number three, audacity.com. Through audacity I found that this was an audio file editor and though great for recording and uploading audio files to a webpage or server. So this is what I will try. Assuming this works, I will post the audio file as an attachment in this blog and hope all is well.

I like the idea of being able to record classroom activities so parents and students can see what is being taught. One of the biggest problems I hear from my teacher friends is parents who "help" with the homework and undo teaching efforts. Or show the students shortcuts that are not always accurate. The second related problem is when the parents become upset over what the student thinks the teacher said. While this is a mouthful the situation often arises with Mrs. X said "..." and then the parents start calling the administrators without ever know what was said. But how cool would it be to upload the lecture of today's class. Did your child have a doctors appointment and miss class? take 20 minutes and help them catch up. Want to know what your child learned in school today? here is a list of the subjects and topics. Would you like to help your child study? watch these clips and ask the study questions? Did your student just not get todays math lesson? watch it again and see if something makes sense.

In the classes that have had past, or online lectures I have excelled through. If there was something I did not understand I can play it again and again. Was the teacher speaking too fast?*pause* catch up and *play*

In an age where parents pull their kids from school for the slightest issue, vacation, or whim how nice would it be to have a resource for them to "never miss class" or at least have the opportunity to never mis the learning.

As to my experiences with audacity program, I was surprised to find it was on my laptop already. Bonus! I like it because if you stutter, stammer, or get caught in the "ums" you can highlight that portion and delete it. There are all kinds of editing options which one could use. You can inert music, or other audio files, run sections in repeat, run it backwards etc.


It does seem blogger does not have a quick and easy way to post audio only files, but attaching this a video seems to have worked. This is me crossing my fingers.

*edit: SO that didn't work, but using the help bar directed me to box.net and I am now linking
to this blog. * end edit*

For future reference and for classmates who read this before they post, there is a bigger list of blogger supported podcasting sites through the help site.

What I like about this:
A. it is free, not the first five minutes, but once you have the program...you have what you need.
B. You can edit the silences and if you do it right :( the stutters too.
C. IF you are a teacher who teaches the same subject a few times a day you can take the best of the crop and post that one.
D. While I would like to have audio and visual, this is pretty easy to record the basics.

I had a computer science course here at IUPUI in which the professor had in one window the speaker, in another the running time, controls etc, and in a third and the largest examples of what he was discussing be it power points, illustrations or animations. It was easy to use and follow. This was podcasting, education style, at its best by my record anyway.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The party



A general success, that is how I would say the party went. Aidan(2yrs old) made out like a bandit. He was well behaved, letting lots of other kids play with his new toys and he taught his 5 year old cousin that eating broccoli and lettuce was cool. We got many compliments. I did finally finish the swing set, 3.5 hours later, and it held up though the rough play of an 8, 5, and 3-2 year olds.

The weather was hot, sunny, and a cool breeze blew through the house. It was a great day of family and friends and went late into the night with Rock Band following the party. My wife made the cake, and though she would say it was not her best I really like the idea. That is probably because I thought of it. If you have seen Pixar's Toy Story the spaceship base cake is filled with green alien cupcakes and you are the claw pulling out the chosen cream-filled cupcake. My wife a former grand champion cake decorator was disappointed, but the kids went nuts over their own cupcake in addition to the more traditional cake pieces.

Well, that is the big todo for today, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It was easier than I thought

The thought of me, Josh Yoder, having to create a blog was a bit mortifying. On one hand, for someone with so many opinions, this should be easy and a good outlet. On the other hand, what if someone actually reads it?
So that was it, really? Creating this blog, is sort of like facebook. Uploading a picture, type in the spaces to type, search for friends...all very similar. Of course the difference is there are more than one templates here.
I have chosen Blue to be my main color, it is my favorite for a host of reasons. For now we will leave it at that, Blue is my favorite color. The picture will have to come soon, though I do not have a recent one around.
To introduce myself I would say that I am a man of way too many hobbies. Often competing for time with work, my hobbies include cooking, gardening, woodworking, camping, hiking, and landscaping. I would also add that my biology background leads me to have at least one aquarium and/or pond as a pet project at all times. Currently I am working on a water feature for my mother. It used to be the skeleton of a freezer, dishwasher, etc. It now flows with water, and is beginning to support life, yet not ready for fish. I will be at her lake house next weekend and supply pictures then.
I work at night, loading two aircraft bound for the DFW airport. That is to say that I supervise as much as possible 40 people who load packages for FedEx into containers and then onto two aircraft... you get the idea. I am finishing my biology degree with a countdown constantly running on my Facebook page.
I have a two year old son, who's birthday party is tomorrow. (Which is why this is posting so late) I also have a lovely wife of 6.5 years of marriage; although we met in High School dating since early September (we still argue about the exact date 6th or 9th) 1998. We were accused then of each stealing the other from our respective friends, and 12+ years later still are each other's best friend.
Over this weekend I will post pictures of my family as they will all be here for said birthday party, so please hang on for that. It is a Toy Story theme cake and decorations and I hope to record my son Aidan say Buzz Lightyear, it is truly cute.
That will have to be all for now, more to come. Cleaning and cooking to be done before the guest arrive.