English on the Internet, Game-based Learning, Kids’ Coding

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English is losing its status as the universal language of the Internet by Leanna Garfield at Tech Insider 1/3/16

Leanna Garfield makes the point that the presence of the English language on the Internet is dropping from about 80% in the mid-1990s to about 45% today. She proposes that translation tools and a greater web presence by other languages “could create a more democratic web in the future.”

Other interesting stats: “Chinese, the most widely spoken language, makes up just 2.1% of the internet. The world’s second most widely spoken language, Spanish, encompasses 4.8% of the web. Hindi, spoken by 260 million people, makes up less than 0.1% of the internet.”

Game-Based Learning Has Practical Applications for Nontraditional Students by Marguerite McNeal at EdSurge 1/20/16

McNeal reports on a study, “The Potential for Game-based Learning to Improve Outcomes for Nontraditional Students,” which focused on whether game-based learning helped nontraditional students improve outcomes. One finding of the study is that game-based learning is more effective when it is part of an integrated curriculum, not just as a stand-alone strategy.

A Kids’ Coding Expert Says We’re Making Computer Class Way Too Boring by Anya Kamenetz at nprED 12/11/15

Schools in the UK and Australia want to expand kids’ use of computers to go beyond fun and games in the classroom. Michael Resnick, head of Lifelong Kindergarten Group, associated with MIT’s Media Lab, says that “Coding is not just a set of technical skills. It’s a new way of expressing yourself. It’s similar to learning to write — a way for kids to organize, express and share ideas. But instead of putting words into sentences, now they can create animated stories.” He cautions, however, that what schools are doing is too simplistic to the point of being boring. “Many popular apps for teaching programming are structured more like games, with a simple set of instructions to reach a predefined outcome.”

Creating Community: Part 3 – Hard Conversations in an Online Classroom – ‘Heart of Darkness’

Judith_McDaniel2_80By Judith McDaniel with Tim Fraser-Bumatay, Daniel Herrera, and Ryan Kelly1

Thinking about Heart of Darkness

The questions we were left with at the end of the Othello discussion included one that came up again later in the course. I asked, how do we know what we do not know — or how do we know we have a cultural bias/perspective in order to shed it? We usually don’t, except for our relationship to others and their perspectives — when we can say, Oh, right, I missed that. And I rarely hear students say, Oh, sorry, I was thinking like a white person or thinking like a patriarch. So we need to know the context in order to think intelligently about our own constructed world-views, don’t we?

Herrera Kelly Bumatay McDaniel

Daniel Herrera, Ryan Kelly, Tim Fraser-Bumatay, and Judith McDaniel.

Along with the Conrad story, we were reading an article by a professor who advocated banning it as a racist text. Ryan found this account amusing. “While he cites the fact that Heart of Darkness is racist and offensive and because of that he no longer sees the value in teaching it, what resonates from this piece is actually his point that proves the opposite. He describes how marked up his book is and explains how each time he read the novel as a student he found new things to underline. The time, the place, the teacher, and the lens changed, and as each did he was able to look at the novel in a new way and gain a different piece of valuable insight into it’s meaning….”

“For me,” Ryan continued, “this is the true test of a novel’s worth. The reason we reread things in the first place is because we always notice more the second time around. Once we generally understand the plot of a story we can focus on other elements and find deeper meaning, and Heart of Darkness seems to be one of those stories where those deeper meanings are fluid and can change with the times. While it may be true that Conrad was a racist, I don’t think that’s enough to invalidate this text.”  Continue reading

Creating Community: Part 2 – Hard Conversations in an Online Classroom – ‘Othello’

Judith_McDaniel2_80By Judith McDaniel with Tim Fraser-Bumatay, Daniel Herrera, and Ryan Kelly1

The four of us are all teachers in face-to-face classrooms, and we have all needed to have difficult conversations about race with our students in those classes. Some teachers would maintain that it is “better” to have these conversations in person in order to monitor how the students are doing and ease them over the rough spots.

All of us have also been part of an online classroom in which we needed to have those conversations about race and ethnicity as we discussed Shakespeare’s Othello and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Is one format — online or in-person — better than the other? While our response won’t be definitive, we can say that our online discussion did succeed in creating an “immediate and vital community of learning” as we insisted in Part 1 of this series. And for each of us, the learning in this class carried over to the face-to-face classes we teach.

Herrera Kelly Bumatay McDaniel

Daniel Herrera, Ryan Kelly, Tim Fraser-Bumatay, and Judith McDaniel.

Thinking about Othello

In addition to reading Shakespeare’s play, I assigned several critical articles that discussed race in the play. Kim Hall’s “Beauty and the Beast of Whiteness” and James Aubrey’s “Race and the Spectacle of the Monstrous in ‘Othello’” seemed to be the most provocative.

The issue of beauty, virtue, and monstrosity

The discussion prompt for the question about Othello asked whether Hall’s portrait of “beauty and the beast of whiteness” gave the reader a path into considering Othello as an Elizabethan might have seen him. Tim’s immediate response was “[Yes,] an in-depth look at style would tread upon the contextual setting of the play’s conception, for if one were to question why Shakespeare chooses words such as ‘beast,’ ‘horse,’ and ‘ram’ to describe Othello, it would inevitably lead to 17th century cultural opinions of Africans.”

Alongside that view of course is the parallel portrait of Othello as the most noble and honorable man in the Duke’s court. When Shakespeare introduces the “Moor” himself, he presents “an intriguing character who breaks from the stigma; he is calm, courteous, and even noble.”  Continue reading

To Belong

Glen Luecke Sp16c 80By Glen Luecke
Student at Kapi’olani Community College
University of Hawai’i

Staring at my reflection in the mirror, I realize I’m comfortable with who I am and, more importantly, where I came from. I didn’t always feel this way. At the age of nine, to quote C.K. Williams, “Weightfully upon me was the world.” I had just started to accept that my father, who had left a few years prior, was not coming back. My mother, burdened with the task of raising four kids, did her best to provide for us. School had become my sanctuary, the one constant that I grew to love.

Over the previous four years I had built up a cadre of trusted friends, and, when needed, I discovered that I could pick up a book and be transported to places that I knew I would never see in person. That changed in 1974 when, in the fourth grade, I was accepted to attend the school on the hill. Not knowing how I would fit in with the privileged few, I tried my best to remain invisible, pretending to belong.

Kam Kapalama

I screwed up. I knew it the moment I heard the crack and felt the snap in my pocket. I kept my anger in check and remained seated, not wanting to draw attention. I slowly lifted my white shirt away from my waist, hoping no one would notice my movement. The dark blue dot stared back at me and began to spread on my khaki pants. A wave of shame started in my gut and slowly crept toward my chest. I reached into my pocket and with two fingers gingerly extracted the broken pen. The tip had snapped and was barely attached by a sliver of sharp plastic. Thick blue ink coated the barrel. I ripped out a piece of folder paper to hide the evidence. The stain on my khakis had grown to the size of a quarter.  Continue reading

Digital Privacy, ELL, Smartphones and GPA, Language and Smell

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Bill Would Limit Use of Student Data by Natasha Singer in the New York Times, 22 Mar. 2015
Singer looks at some of the issues raised by the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, a bill to place limits on how “companies that operate school services — like online homework portals, digital grade books for teachers or student email programs —” can use or disclose “students’ personal information to tailor advertisements to them” and “bar them from collecting or using student data to create marketing profiles.”

Digital curriculum targets ELL learning gap from eSchool News, 19 Mar. 2015
Middlebury Interactive Languages has developed English Language Learner programs which “are modeled after Middlebury Interactive’s world language courses and, like those programs, integrate research-based learning techniques, cultural awareness and project-based activities into blended learning classrooms.”

Increased Smartphone Use Equals Lower GPA Among College Students by Brian Heaton from from Government Technology, 17 Mar. 2015
This study from Kent State University about the effects of smartphone use on grades is sure to cause a stir. Even controlling for certain “known predictors, the group still found the relationship between cellphone use and GPA was ‘statistically significant and negative.’”

Does speaking English limit our sense of SMELL? The ability to identify and describe odours depends on the language you speak by Richard Gray for Mail Online, 30 Mar. 2015
While this article is not technology and educated related, it does look at the science of language from a different perspective as researchers describe the relationship between the language we speak and our sense of smell and our perception of colors.

Videos on Demand: Education Week ‘Leaders to Learn From’ 2015

On 18 March 2015, Education Week recognized 16 exceptional district-level leaders at an exclusive event in Washington, D.C., featuring presentations and discussions on leadership and education policy. Featured speakers included Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education Deborah S. Delisle and Adviser to the Premier and Minister of Education in Ontario, Canada Michael Fullan. Watch the videos from the event.

Recognition Presentation: Meet the Leaders To Learn From (Part I)


Recognition Presentation: Meet the Leaders To Learn From (Part II)

Continue reading