Breakthrough Treatment Proven to Prolong Life — Futurism

New Advance An international team of researchers has developed and tested a drug on mice to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The results of the testing is very promising, suggesting that not only does the drug mitigate symptoms, but also increases life-span in patients with the debilitating disease. The team’s findings have been published in the Journal of…

via Breakthrough Treatment Proven to Prolong Life — Futurism

Not This Time – Matthew Moore

Some of you know that I am an amateur musician.  I performed my saxophone in many  local venues.  I have always wanted to record, create, edit, and publish music, and I do have a few arrangements on soundcloud.  This is my first solo performance / writing project, and I would appreciate your feedback.  This is not a normal educational technology post although I am using Garage Band to enhance my music abilities.  What a great tool!

Emotional Intelligence for Students Facing End of the Year Stress

As students finish their school year and head into summer, they are experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.  They prepare for exams, enroll in summer camps, say goodbye to friends, plan to visit Dad, and desire the freedom of summer.  Obstacles to those goals, though, can get in the way such as having a baseball game the day before your exam, being denied entry into a summer camp because your audition was poor, not being able to say goodbye to your friend because he leaves suddenly without talking to you, accepting Dad’s last minute changes to your summer plans, or actually receiving a list chores for the summer.  Students experience difficult decisions and circumstances this time of year, and they encounter unexpected obstacles or events that produce a wide range of emotions.

In order to teach the understanding of these emotions many educators are turning to Daniel Goleman’s book about Emotional Intelligence and discussing it in advisories, homerooms, and general classrooms.  Overall Goleman reminds us of how the brain functions, how we perceive and react physically to those emotions, and how we as a society need more self control and compassion for others.  While the book itself is a huge task for students to read in its entirety, portions of it are very comprehensible for middle and high school students and can produce great discussions about decision making and current circumstances in their lives.

I highly recommend the usage of Goleman’s book or his accompanying age appropriate materials for your students.  I have even found it helpful to me personally as a teacher as I prepare for exams, evaluations, grades, comments, school parties, and those last minute perfect words.  Have a great end to your year, and may you pause, breathe, think, observe, and respond with clarity, care, and emotional intelligence.

Researching the Craft

I recently participated in a professional growth opportunity to increase Spanish Language proficiency among students.  Diego Ojeda, working through the Bureau of Education and Research, presented upon a collection of language activities that increase thinking, speaking, and writing in the language. He is a master teacher who has implemented most of the lessons in one way or another, and he presented first hand experiences of pros and cons, and he provided excellent student projects.

This professional opportunity was particularly rewarding as he reminded me of some methods and practices that I had not revisited since 1994 conversations with my mentor teacher, Frank “Paco” Watkins, at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN.   Both teachers are highly energetic, goal oriented, conversation experts who engage students in ways that are motivating, creative, and problem solving.  Their methods allow teachers to teach, and students to engage.

Ojeda’s publication which includes over 100 methods is packed with great warm ups for starting conversation, vocabulary thinking, creating writing, and more.  The lessons can be used separately, in combinations, or as a foundation for a creatively edited project.  All methods describe great examples that can be used to meet targeted goals in vocabulary, verb usage, sentence creation, writing, speaking, listening, reading and interpreting.  The materials alone were well worth the visit, but the presentation from Ojeda was priceless.

As I was leaving the seminar, I started applying my educational technology smarts to what I had just experienced, and I began thinking about how these best practices are great foundations for working with a SMARTBOARD, digital project, computer, internet, Moodle, and other platforms.  The clear merging of two fields to produce the best possible learning was occurring once again in my teaching.  I feel energized, and the creative lesson plans are flowing from my brain.  We should always revisit the craft for great research, best practices, and wise goals.  There is so much to learn in life, and sometimes we have already learned it.

YouTube Family Game

I just recently played a game (two hours ago) with my son where we shared YouTube Videos.  The ground rules for the game were simple.  A: Parent shares an educational video, and B: Child shares a video of choice with parent.  After each round, parent and child compare videos and a superlative adjective is awarded such as the funniest, the most informative, the most awkward, the most entertaining, etc.  This can be done at any age level.  My child is currently a sixth grader so I definitely understand the risks involved; consequently, I am recommending this be done in the home with parents but not in the classroom with students.

Through my observations (having played the game three times now), I have found this a great way to promote educational videos, real historical content found, artistic creations, and other edu-entertainment films.  In addition, I have also learned about what my son is viewing on the internet, how he makes choices, what his values are, and what is going on in my son’s school and world.

So how can you be prepared to play the game?  I don’t have an easy answer, but I will share with you what we have done.  In the past, I have used the “Animaniacs” educational videos on maps and presidents, an outdoor music flash mob in Vienna, Austria (precious), the Iran Hostage Crisis short history (to answer unanswered questions about Argot), Los Angeles Historical photos, and time-lapse videos from various regions of the world and various climates.  These keep him engaged and interested, and provide a starting point (always go first) to show what you value.  In response, my son has shown me (sometimes better videos) of pop-culture, goats singing with stars, how kids cheat (although he does not participate), cool sports moments, how it should have ended videos, and minecraft videos (sit through it you will learn a lot about your child).

Obviously every parent will uncover different facts about his/her child and his/her child’s way of life, and I am sure some kids will not play (can’t fix that one).  I have just found this a great way to get to know my child, his digital generation, his thoughts on society, his concerns, his understanding of the world, and his understanding of fact and fiction.  I hope this works for you, and I wish you the best.  We do get outside on a regular basis too.

Spanish Cooking Show – Technology Integrated

My students recently suggested that they study their Spanish commands by creating a cooking show in Spanish and filming it with their video editing skills (mostly done in Imovie).  Because our thematic unit currently covered foods in Spain, they chose to cook Spanish menu items such as la paella, la tortilla de patatas, los churros, y el gazpacho.  Knowing that my students were suggesting a project that, if done properly, would require more work than they were expecting I gave them the week off from homework so they could organize an awesome design, create clear scripting, practice cooking, talk and cook at the same time, film, and edit that film.  I also made sure that they knew that a fracaso (failure) was OK to film as well as un éxito (success).  I felt it important to let them know that they did not need to make the same thing more than once and that the experience was just as important to film as well as anything.

To help them organize responsiblities, I divided them into groups of three where each group had un cocinero (chef), un presentador (show host), and un videógrafo (video editor).  I gave them basic responsibilities, but my students at Chatsworth Hills Academy were able to use that scaffolding as a launching pad for even more creative shows and unique outcomes in their videos.

The project overall was a success, and while I don’t feel comfortable sharing their videos at my blog site, I might get permission from their parents to use this in a presentation or a conference in the near future.  The students relished the fact of using their video creation skills learned in our tech classes for academic work, and they enjoyed cooking, eating, using Spanish commands, and working together outside of school speaking Spanish.  The project was so successful that I would do this in the future because it promotes outside usage of Spanish in unique ways that I did not expect and the community of students in my classroom became stronger as human beings and responsible students. I highly recommend finding time to provide activities like this that allow students to merge video technology skills with learning Spanish.  There are so many more ideas that I can now attempt because of this success, and I can’t wait to do more interview shows with other grade levels.

Instructional Design Siting

This current year I have been teaching Spanish to superior middle school students at Chatsworth Hills Academy and using the Spanish textbook series Avancemos published by Holt McDougal.  The series design begins with a stellar textbook that weaves cultural units by country with common grammatical standards.  Students experience each unit with highly contextualized, authentic, and relevant photographs, side stories, written dialogues, and activities with clear objectives that reinforce state standards, speaking and writing objectives of language educators, and learning improvement opportunities for students.

In addition to this extremely well designed and published textbook is a fantastic web site that reinforces grammar, vocabulary, and cultural objectives with interactive quizzes based upon video dialogues, grammatical reference, and other listening comprehension activities via the web.  Students can also explore web quests, animated grammar, verb conjugators, and more.  It is truly a language tutor with quick feedback for students who want answers immediately in this information rich era.  It also allows students to work out some language questions from home and build confidence for the speaking needs in the classroom.

With these facts in mind I am siting this textbook series as wonderful example of educators collaborating with educational technologists to create a product that is working for my students and I am sure many others.  It works as a classroom tool, an individual tutor, a project platform, and a blended environment.  There are so many resources (even audio visual materials and a workbook series that I left out) that this series deserves kudos.  It is a instructional design masterpiece worth research by future instructional designers and current graduate students in education, educational technology, or language learning.  Learn from what has been done well.  It save a lot of time.