Monday, November 29, 2010

The Eddie Files: Save Live Action Math

We're making room in the Media Center for new materials and a big stack shift because we have $5000 of new books (mostly fiction requested by kids & teachers) - and we're taking a hard look at what has not been used lately on our AV shelves and we're stuck on a GREAT series of Real Life Math action called the Eddie Files. We have 12 Videos: Each about 20 min and a full teacher's guide with lesson plans and the topics seem super cool! (see very bottom for series list) So the question is Math teachers....should they stay or should they go?

If they stay...will you try and use them? Give them a shot? They're VHS and a little dated, Ok....and the replacement set in DVD is $369....but we have them here...right now...for you...cataloged and just waiting to be discovered and used....OR should we weed them and make room for new materials. Oh and I checked...there's not an updated, re-casted, with similar subject matter.

Why Love Eddie and Ms. Tolliver?

"Through the eyes of Eddie, a fictional 6th grade student in real-life East Harlem math teacher Kay Toliver’s class, viewers discover how people use key math concepts and skills in the workplace. The series includes four “fileboxes” each with 4 episodes and accompanying teacher guide.

20-minute programs, each of which deals with a different topic of the elementary/middle mathematics curriculum. Through the eyes of "Eddie," a 5th grade student in the mathematics classroom of renowned teacher Kay Toliver, viewers find out just how people use key math concepts and skills in life and in exciting jobs.

Endorsed by NAESP, American Association of School Administrators, National Educational Telecommunications Association, NSTA. More than 20 awards, including Peabody and Parents' Choice Awards."

Four "Fileboxes," each with 4 episodes and accompanying teacher guide.

Welcome to Math #101
Eddie's first assignment in Kay Toliver's class is to find out about how people use math in their jobs.

Estimation #102
With help from professionals who use estimation, Eddie makes an educated guess about the number of dogs in New York City.

Geometry #103
Eddie learns how polygons are used to create everything from skyscrapers to collapsible spheres.

Fractions #104
Eddie discovers surprising things about fractions from a chef, a percussionist, and a sports photographer.

Hot Dog Heaven (Distance, Time, and Speed) #201
While Eddie looks for a lost dog, transportation professionals explain how millions of people move around New York City every day.

The Lucky Batting Glove (Statistics) #202
Eddie and Aunt Rosa discover the roles of mathematics in business and sports.

The Veggie Stash-o-Matic (Circles) #203
Eddie works on his assignment—inventing a machine—as designers and engineers share the practical uses of geometry.

The Fake Money Caper (Decimals) #204
To help Secret Service agents track down counterfeiters, Eddie consults with people who create and safeguard the money supply.

Sleep Like a Dog (Length and Area) #301
When Aunt Rosa's dog is cast in a commercial, Eddie learns how people who design and make television and movie sets use math.

The Big Concert (Patterns) #302
While Eddie is preparing for his school's holiday concert, he learns how musicians use patterns.

The Day Manhattan Ran Dry (Volume) #303
Eddie meets people who make sure Manhattan never runs out of water.

Eddie in Barbieland (The Counting Principle) #304
When Eddie is asked to shop for doll clothes for his sister's birthday, he gets help from his teacher and some toy designers.

The Lonesome Pine (Ratios) #401
With the help of foresters and engineers, Eddie looks for a place to plant a young pine tree in Manhattan.

The Green Thumb (Variables) #402
Eddie receives advice from gardeners and a farm manager about the sunflower he is growing for Ms. Toliver's class.

The Dessert Derby (Charts and Graphs) #403
Eddie's Aunt Ida follows professional advice and uses charts and graphs to compete in the East Harlem Community Center's dessert derby.

Take a Bite (Percents) #404
Eddie sees how Ms. Toliver's lesson on percentages applies to graphic design when his photo is chosen for a campaign to bring tourists to New York City.

Series listing from KET

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wikipedia is NOT Wicked!

Hi, My name is Ms. Jones and I use Wikipedia.

There, I said it. Somehow that's pretty freeing! Wikipedia is NOT a dirty word. It's not Fartopedia or Poopopedia (heh heh, middle school is showing!) It's Wikipedia (wiki in Hawaiian means in fast to edit, change, morph, grow, etc.) I really think we're doing a disservice not teaching you...our kids.... HOW to use it and how to cite in - ummm selectively & with forethought and discernment. Sadly, I don't believe teachers & college professors are ready to wrap their mind around or admit recent studies that show: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica.

Much like the Internets in general, (or the Googles, or the Facebooks, or the Twitters, or the YouTubes) many educators, librarians, and parents look upon Wikipedia with suspicion, sometimes derision, and occasionally with fear.

But who are we kidding? It ain't goin away folks! the Wikipedias are here to stay...It's an Internet Wonder of the World! And for gosh sakes, it comes up top 3 in just about any Google search you do. What? Ignore a good entry for a query? Really? Can you admit, you use it, too?

Using Wikipedia in 5 Easy Steps.

  1. Use it for background information
  2. Use it for technology terms
  3. Use it for current pop cultural literacy
  4. Use it for the Keywords
  5. Use it for the REFERENCES at the bottom of the page!

Tech Terms Here: I mean, I love me my research databases! I do! Heck, I even made a animation video for them! I love you Gale/Cengage, Sirs, Worldbook, and EBSCO - I do! But if I look up Hashtag or QR code there, all I get are a few articles (one by my buddy librarian Mr. Chris Harris! YAY!) but no explanation. No definiton. No examples of real world use. That's just not good enough for you my dear students & readers!

But when you look up Hashtags or QR code in Wikipedia you get it ALL!

For more examples of how to use Wikipedia & how to teach it with our kids, see the Further Reading links below

Click for a Teaching Wikipedia At-A-Glance Comic Tutorial! (feel free to share this with the unbelievers, skeptical admins, and other peeps)

Oh and By the way...this blog posting caused me to work. Yeah, like do something I've never done before and it hurt a little.

Learning something new sometimes feels ouchy and uncomfortable. Because of this posting I created a Wikipedia editing profile and pushed myself to create a Wikipedia page for our school Murray Hill Middle School because I wanted to be there when you... my kids (or your parents) look for us on the Howard County Public School wikipage. Another step forward in Web Presence and Advocacy - & yes, Socialnomics: be where your customers are. But, I got stubborn and pushed through the uncomfortable feeling and Voila! It's done...Whew!

"The goal here is not to take Wikipedia as gospel but to use it to focus your research (via links, keywords and references) and get a little context (via background information). Focusing cuts down the time you spend on the project while context will get you a better grade for your effort." - by rebecca from Gear Fire

Further Reading:
Should I use or cite Wikipedia? Probably not.

4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it)

Teachers: Please stop prohibiting the use of Wikipedia

Unnatural acts at Nature

20 Little Known Ways to Use Wikipedia

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica

The Wikpedia Gap - by Seth Godin

Rosenzweig, Roy. "Can history be open source? Wikipedia and the future of the past" Journal of American History, Volume 93, Issue 1 (June 2006) p. 117-144.

Schiff, Stacy. "Know it all: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?" The New Yorker, February 26, 2006

And for balance:

Yes, students, there's a world beyond Wikipedia - via Lucy Gray - elemenous !

Photo credits:
Flickr Creative Commons:
Guy Fawks: by Stian Eikeland
Workbench mele By flattop341

Wikipedia Is NOT Wicked!
authenticity, Buffy J. Hamilton, fun, gale, howard county schools, Jimbo Wales, murray hill middle school, sirs, socialnomics, wicked, wikipedia

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Science Fair Revolution: Putting the Trifold on Trial

(graphic by Tim Holt)
The digital shift revolution in educational practice isn't about throwing everything out that has been done before (sometimes to Ad nauseam) but to add projects & product choices that enhance learning and better demonstrate research assessments and the comprehension of data.

In other words: does a diorama and the science fair trifold with pasted on pictures & graphs really best show that the student has grasped the meaning and complexity of the research project. Really?

Several change agents in eduction are asking this question of late (including yours truly) and I would like to start that conversation here, too!
This also ties into the conversation Diane Cordell and I will be leading at EduCon in January (YAY!) The Power of the Product: Creative, Meaningful, & Daring Ways to Demonstrate Information Mastery : This conversation will create a shared list of viable, creative, meaningful, and daring products that demonstrate information mastery, go beyond the regular research report and span the digital divide. The products of this conversation (Google doc, Wallwisher, wiki, & Slideshare) will generate layers of sharing, producing, and value.

Diane Cordell - librarian, photographer, author of the blog Journeys and master researcher and brain trust that she is forwarded the blog of a great thinker Tim Holt from TX about moving away from Analog lessons to Digital lessons - see all28 pages of AWEsome PDF (wish I could embed it for you here!)

He also laments (ok, rants) about his annual call to arms to re-think the traditional science fair project - "Every Year at this time I rant about the need to get rid of science fair projects that rely on centuries old presentation methodologies and move our kids towards more of a, shall we say, modern approach?" - Tim Holt

Click the graphic to visit his site & watch the video. It's worth it.

Again, my stance is: don't rid of the analog - because we have to take into consideration access and the digital divide, but to add to it a menu of digital choices (and provide in-school creation time!) so that all our learning styles and modalities are taken into consideration.

Students...Parents...what do you think?

Not a sermon... just a thought!

Screenshots from the video "A Vision of Science Fair Projects Today" from the Intended Consequences blog by Tim Holt

Power of the Product graphic by The Daring Librarian

Tags: diane cordell, digital divide, digital shift, educon, science fair projects, tim holt, the power of the product