Friday, July 10, 2009

The Reflection: Global Warming Project

Here is my reflection. If it does not come through let me know. I did think about posting a corrupted file just for fun, but thought the joke was not worth the money. I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot. Thanks everybody. A special thanks to Lesley. Have a nice summer.

If anyone wants more stuff from me and Jen's project let me know.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Administative support

My school climate is such that I would feel comfortable integrating media literacy ideas into my classroom or advisory. I really feel it can and will become a powerful teaching tool in the future. I would have enthusiastic support from my administration, to try new things to get the students active in their own learning. Once students can become active in their own learning they can find themselves engrossed in their work. I see this in my own children, for example this evening I was trying to get my younger daughter to learn new music. She did not want to, so she practiced reluctantly going through the songs in the normal way. Than I thought maybe we could use Youtube. We had started at 8:00 intending 15 minutes of practice and ended at 10:00. She would play the pieces over an over to learn the words and she liked being able to add images to the words. Here is one of the songs she has to learn for camp. I thought the theme of the song, some of you would find interesting. So here it is.

The point is she took control of her learning and became engrossed and learned a lot more than she would of. Some of it I am sure is the novelty, but it is now another tool in her belt on how to learn new music.

The main problem in getting the students to the point of fully using technology in the classroom is not the administration but the infrastructure itself. I would love to transplant the room we are working in now that a 12 million dollar grant helped provide and transfer that to my school. The truth is my school district can not run 50 computers simultaneously on the server with out it slowing to a crawl. The server services the entire district's elementary, middle and high schools. We are overcrowded, which means the computer labs are often used for classrooms. It is not possible for me to schedule my students to use the computer labs. I can get some classes but not others. Much like a boat builder stranded on an island filled with trees, I have the knowledge but no tools.

Technology is great in the classroom when it works smoothly. In order for schools to do that they have to be willing to invest in personnel to fix, debug, service, devandalize, etc the computers. The tech people I think are what keeps the boat a float once it is built. You need good tech support to keep such a complex system of computers operating smoothly. It is great to get computers, Lap tops, projectors, smartboards into classrooms but they have to be maintained. If they are not reliable teachers will not use them. Teachers need to be able to use it as a tool in the classroom, a carpenter could not work if he had to spend most of the day fixing his hammer or saw.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Here is an interesting review. It includes some exit interviews with kids of various ages. Some interesting insights.

Apparently there is only one negative review out there. It was quickly followed be headlines like "Pixar's UP gets it's first negative review" It is quite interesting to read the comments that people have added about the review.

I am bringing my two children with me tomorrow, and will encourage them to take part in the discourse afterward. It might be interesting to get opinions directly from an 8 and 12 year old girl. Judging from the trailers it looks like the movie is aimed more at boys than girls.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Disney Makes Money

Disney is out to make money like any business. For any business to grow it has to expand its market. To do this most companies do research. It just so happens that Disney's business is entertaining children. To make more money, it only makes senses that they would study children, and who better than those trained in understandings children's brains. It is just smart business sense. I can not blame Disney for wanting to make more money.

The question posed in the article "Disney, Casino Capitalism and the Exploitation of Young Boys: Beyond the Politics of Innocence" By Henry A. Girouxis "Is there a moral imperative that should kick in when dealing with children?" Giroux makes it sound like Disney is trying to find a lure to do harm to our boys, much like the pervert who uses the lure of "Can you help me find my lost puppy"? Disney is simply repeating messages that already exist in our culture, it is doing research to find those messages that appeal most to boys not to do them harm but to sell more of their product that the children will enjoy more because they can identify with it. Where than is the moral imperative, should Disney say "no we can't use that in our movie because it will perpetuate this not so nice cultural norm"or say "I know it won't make as much money but lets make the lead a gay Man." This is not what Disney is in business to do, they are not out to change or challenge cultural norms but in fact rely on them to sell their product. The share holders would be irate at a gay lead not just because it goes against cultural norms but it also does not make them money.

Most parents and most children are not taught to be critical of what they watch, they are not taught to analyze how they are being influenced. I think Giroux's final arguments turn to the public to be taught how to be more critical (The end of the article is an echo of Critical Pedagogy). With your standard kid watching 40,000 ads a year the kid can not helped but be influenced just by the constant repetition. Advertisers know that for the average person to remember something for longer than 3o seconds the person needs to see a given ad seven to eight times to be able to reliably remember it long enough to be influenced when they see there product in a store. This goes well beyond Disney's sphere of influence it is pervasive in our culture, culture can only change through the education of the young. In this world of constant media maybe the only way to understand the influence is to be taught to be critical of all the media we are swimming in.

Here is a link for using copyrighted material in the classroom.

Monday, June 29, 2009

First Day

Looking at the world through a more critical lens. This sums up the day. The hidden meaning or the "secret education" instilled in us just by the very nature of our culture. What do we see and learn about ourselves if we start to analyze what it is that we watch in the popular media? What does it mean to be a boy in our culture and how do we know this? What does it mean to be a young lady in our culture? What is beauty or handsomeness and how do we know? These are complex questions and ideas to say the least. We are defined by and at the same time building definitions of ourselves and the world by the media that we watch and make. How much of our view of life has been defined and warped by "Disney"? Do more marriages fail in this country because of the Ideals placed on our perceptions of what a marriage should be like? Are we in fact destroying chances at happiness by not displaying more real life in our programing? Lots of questions here, we may not answer all the questions during the course but may give ourselves a new or different way to watch the world around us.

The goal as a teacher would be to open up our eyes to the pervasive culture of instant media, and find a way to use it to meet our goals in teaching; getting the students to want to learn and want to come to school. There will have to be a balance struck between getting and learning background knowledge and utilizing media to become self learners, Self experimenters, and ultimately knowledge builders or adders. There are hurdles and barriers to overcome in the standard classroom of today, to be at the same level as a tech savvy student will take lots of money in equipment an training. Probable the most overlooked aspect of having technology in the classroom is having personnel available to fix it, nothing stops a lesson faster than technology that does not work. Money is needed, and a new commitment to what is important to spend money on.

Medialit Day One

I have been teaching science to 7th and 8th grades for 13 years. I also teach drama at night to our middle school students allowing me a different perspective on students lives outside of the classroom. Currently, I hold the title of Curriculum Coordinator for Science at our school, this is the new name for Department Head. Besides work, I do blacksmithing and metal sculpture which gives me an outlet for using my hands as I work. I am happily married with two wonderful girls age 9 and 12.

Digital media in the classroom is has not been my highest priority. I do see however how my students are all immersed in The digital world, like most of us would be if we were dropped in a foreign country and had to make our way home. The current generation is finding their way though the digital revolution as a way of life, a culture that they are immersed in. Marc Prensky would argue that those of use over thirty two and a half ( or maybe even younger say twenty-two) are immigrants to technology. Watching it develop from the outside looking in and reaching into the pond of technology and pulling our relevant pieces when we need it. Like right now, this course making us as a class develop a blog, we need to use it so we go out and get it. A modern student of the world (a kid) already has it as part of their world with a basic under standing of its use and need, it is a given in their life rather than something that has to be hunted for or fished for it is around them and part of them.