Monday, August 28, 2006

Take 5: 8/28/06

Today was a very frightening, yet exciting day in my world! Brian came into my 2nd hour chemistry class and introduced the students to the laptops. Once the students had their computers in front of them, I just stood back and watched them working on their individual was a very strange sight! Brian also explained to the students all of the different ways we can all share information from one laptop to another. I am so excited to learn more about what this technology can bring to my chemistry classes and how the students do with the laptops.
In addition to introducing the laptops, I had the students do a problem solving activity. They had to figure out how many centimeters thick a piece of aluminum foil is and how many atoms thick it is. The only information they were given was the density of aluminum and the diameter of one aluminum atom. The students are doing a great job of working together and within about 15 minutes, most of the groups were on the right track.
Because I am trying to implement so many classroom activities and less notes, I am using my webpage as a resource and posting my powerpoint presentations online if the students need extra help or need those notes to learn the information better. I do not know how many of them are taking advantage of this, but the resources are there for the taking.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Take 5

As I started planning for the first few days of school, my focus was on finding student-initiated activities. In chemistry we started with properties of solids, liquids and gases. I found an activity where the students had to make "glurch", which is a substance like silly-putty. After they had made a sample, as a group of 4 they had to chemically modify it to meet a specific criteria. For example, one group's sample had to bounce 3 inches while another group's sample could only bounce 1/2 inch. They were given the initial recipe and a few random substances if they wished to use them.

When I organized this activity I wasn't sure how it was going to go...I was prepared for a disaster. However, the each group was able to modify their glurch sample to meet their specific goal. We tested the samples and shared the results. The students really enjoyed this activity and were able to problem solve and communicate as a group.

I'm excited to integrate more student-initiated, inquiry based activities into my classes. I can already see a difference in 3 days of class that my chemistry students are getting used to working together and helping to teach the concepts to each other, rather than listening to me lecture!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The World is Flat

As I first began reading The World is Flat, I could relate outsourcing to many experiences I have had, such as telemarketing callers and anytime problems with the TV or computer would arise. I tend to get very frustrated when I call Dell for computer help and I can barely understand the person on the other end of the phone who's trying to fix the problem. However, in my frustration I have never thought of outsourcing as "flattening" our world until now.

Then I started thinking about the students that I have in class, my brother in college and my husband who works in business. Will high school and college students be able to find careers in the future for a descent salary? Will education change enough so these kids have the opportunity to have a good career? Could my husband's job be outsourced someday? It is a scary that has just entered my mind after reading this book.

Last week I happened to catch a few minutes of Oprah when she was discussing the crisis in the education system. Several high school students were asked to name the first five American presidents. I do not remember how many countries where represented, but I do remember seeing a girl from China listing all five right away and some American students answering Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as our first president! To me, this was just a small reminder of how much education needs to change. In Chapter 6: The Untouchables, Freedman states to his daughters "Girls, finish you homework - people in China and India are starving for your jobs." I feel that today's students need to realize how competative their career choice may be in the near future. I agree with Freedman that professionals now need to very specialized, and be able to adapt to various skills, knowledge and experiences.

Reading The World is Flat has been very eye-opening for me. I used to view outsourcing as only being in very large companies, mostly dealing with electronic customer service...things that do not relate directly to my life. However, now I see outsourcing as hitting very close to home when I think about my students and younger brother in college. With that I wonder, what will the future hold? The scary part to that question is the fact that the "future" is not very far away.