The New Community Forum!

We are excited to announce we now have a Community Forum for our users! We hope this can become a valuable place for community members to share ideas and help support each other as we use ShowMe!

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On the Forum we hope to :

  • Discuss Feedback and Improvement for our App and Website
  • Share different ways that you’ve used ShowMe in the past
  • Brainstorm different ideas for using ShowMe with others
  • Support those experiencing difficulties
  • Report bugs or problems with our app or website
  • Anything else you’d like to share!
We hope to see you there :)

ShowMe of the Week: Greenhouse Effect

Thanks to Sharon Churchwell for this fantastic ShowMe! It provides a comprehensive overview of how we get carbon dioxide and methane gas into our atmosphere and how they help warm our planet. This also explains (as the title claims) the greenhouse effect and the concept of global warming!

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Friday Round Up 5/18/2012

It’s a beautiful day in New York and it should be a nice weekend as well. I hope everyone else is experiencing good weather for the weekend!

Is the Master’s Degree the New Bachelor’s Degree?
This article highlights how many careers that previously required only a bachelors degree are now seeking out applicants that have an MA as well. Why is this? Some believe that with so many students going to undergraduate school we now have a “glut” of what were previously thought to be qualified workers. One can debate, does an increase employees holding a Master’s Degree mean that we now have a more competitive workforce, or instead, that the undergraduate degree has become “dumbed down”? Another issue to consider is the fact that the average MA student has a debt of $30,000 by the time they receive their degree.

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Degrees of Debt: A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College
Speaking of debt, last Friday the New York Times published an interesting and comprehensive series that explores the experiences of recent college undergraduates faced with student loan debt. I found the most interesting part to be the interactive graphic showing the rapid increase in college tuitions and student loans since 2004.

A Focus on Brain Development, Relationships Pays Off
This article shares studies done by Dr. Charles Zeneah, who collaborated on Neurons and Neighborhoods, a seminal book that studies the importance of a mothering figure for the development of an infants brain function. An infant actually needs to be “the apple of someones eye” in order to develop the healthiest form of brain function. The study uses a 15 month old infant, pseudo-named “Harold” who is put into an overcrowded home with a busy foster mother. He is unresponsive to most interactions and only moves at a slow crawl. At 18 months old Harlod had been put into a new foster home with a caring foster mother for only 6 weeks. In that short time he began to verbalize, walk and smile. Good mothering (by father, mother or another loving figure) can reduce the population of people in special education programs and even prison. I found this article incredibly fascinating.

A Way Up for Women in Business
Different MBA programs across the globe are working to mentor women to apply, complete and succeed after business school through women lead support networks. The Rotterdam School of Management offers an intense Mount Kilimanjaro MBA leadership course for women only, designed to help bring female leaders to learn and rely on one another as they hike rigorously for 9 days. The Fordham Graduate School of Business informally pairs female applicants to follow a female MBA student from a similar background on a day of classes. The Global Society of Women in Business provides links to all different resources and services for women looking for mentoring or partnerships in business. The GMAT entrance test estimated that 34% of their 2011 global applicants to a 1 year full time MBA program were female. Hopefully we will begin to see an increase in incoming years.

Friday Round Up 5/11/12

Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?
In the process of writing his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works Jonah Lehrer has discovered that many children lose their playful sense of creativity as they get older, specifically between the ages of 3rd-5th grade. Lehrer believes this is partially because our students are deemed valuable based on their ability to sit quietly in class, when in actuality, students who have distraction problems in school have a higher chance of becoming “eminent creative achievers.” Lehrer discusses the importance of giving our children a large menu of creative opportunities, and allowing them to select what they enjoy. Once they’ve found something they love it is up to adults to help them pursue these creative interests and encourage them to work hard and persevere to achieve greater goals in these areas.

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The Global Search for Education: In Search of Professionals
This article interviews Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She shares her insight on what she hopes the next generation of teachers could look like, discussing her experiences and the importance of combating teacher attrition rates. In addition she focuses on the importance of respecting teachers, improving teacher training courses and providing development and support once teachers are on the job. She highlights how we must stop training our teachers in the education programs from 20 and 30 years ago, and focus on teaching for todays students.

A Great Reason for Appreciating High School Teachers
This week in National Teacher Appreciation week! Bob Lenz, the Chief Education Officers of Envision Schools in California, shares his first hand experience on how hard many high school teachers in the country work every school week; putting in an average of 70 hours of work after you calculate teaching time, staff development, lesson planning and grading. Today, as our education system is struggling, much blame is put on the shoulders of our teachers. Lenz believes that instead devoting our efforts to eliminating “bad” teachers, we should support our educators and provide them with the professional working conditions they need to thrive. It is also our responsibility to tell our policy makers that we need to create a system in this country where teaching is a valued as other high prestige career fields, such as doctors, so the most talented and dedicated individuals move towards the industry.

Be careful when comforting struggling students
This recent British study found that teachers who believed students have fixed ability levels in math were more likely to make prematures ability-based excuses for underperformance. These students also performed at a lower level on assessment (compared with students of teachers that believe math ability can be malleable) when their teachers attempted to comfort the students with comments such as “you are very talented overall, but some people just have difficulties in math.” While it may seem painful to see a student struggle in a subject, even teachers with best intentions can actually harm students when they attempt to comfort them by claiming their struggles are due to an inability to succeed at a higher level.

My humble experience

I still remember my first lesson introducing ShowMe to my students. I had concerns; would students be able to connect to the website and watch the videos, would they like the videos, would they enjoy working on the subject via their laptops, etc. I was really excited;  this was my first time that I integrated this much of technology in my math lessons. Apart from the interactive whiteboard and the projector, which I displayed students’ progress, I had my Mac and my IPad to prepare not only worksheets, quizzes, etc, but videos! Also, I would not teach the whole time in my lessons anymore. Rather, I would have mini teaching sessions of 10-15 minutes for introduction and/or recalling purposes only, and then walk around students to check their progress and answer their questions; that was my dream.

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laptops on, heads down, my students are working on the subject

If dreams match 100% with reality, we would not call them dreams. Generally speaking, what I planned just worked, I should admit. Students visited my website on their Macs, clicked on the links and watched the videos, and after understanding the subject, solved the questions / problems in the videos, and then showed their answers to me, and I marked them after checking. But there were about twenty of them, each calling me to ask a particular question about the subject, or to say that they did not understand the video, or they even could not connect the Internet, or they had no pencil / notebook, etc. Moreover, when I was answering questions or doing a mini teaching session to a student or a group of students, -not all but some- others tend to connect to Facebook or YouTube, or to play games. In the beginning, there was chaos.

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Gradually, everything started settling up. Each of us figured out what was going on, and adjusted ourselves to the ‘new order’. My dream almost came true; students were watching the videos, solving the questions and showed me the results, and I marked them. I was wandering around helping the students understand the subject better. And guess what; almost all of them were doing the classwork! They liked the videos such that they all learned the phrase I used at the end of my videos; solve and ShowMe!

There should be something wrong in that. No offence, ShowMe Crew, but my videos can not be that “magical”. And this time, my nightmare came true; the results of the first campus wide quiz were horrible, comparing to the classwork marks. For example, a student of mine, who failed in Term 1, completed about 80% of his classwork (wow!), yet his CWQ mark was 4 out of 20! And I had several more examples like that! About one fourth of my students showed no significant difference after I introduced ShowMe.

I started to observe what they were doing, and found out their strategy. Some of the students pretended to watch the video, until the sharp students show their answers. Then they copied those students’ work and came to me to get their marks.

How could I miss this? Probably because of my optimistic character; I believed they all would like the videos and study more than ever!!  Anyway, I should have planned an assessment system ASAP. After searching for several online quiz maker websites, I decided that I would go with the traditional paper-pencil method, because (a) those websites were lacking mathematical symbols to type, and they tend to support multiple-choice questions, rather than essay types, and (b) there was no exact way to know if a student answered an online quiz on his own. So, I added a 10-minute quiz session at the end of each period and stopped marking their classwork. I write questions for each video -generally 1 question/video- and ask the students to answer questions referring to the video/s they worked on. Then I mark the quizzes ASAP and record the progress in my table. Ones who answered correct can go on with the next videos. Ones who answered wrong work on additional materials; I give them extra worksheets. Then they try to answer a similar question referring to the same video. This is how they earn their marks.

I thought ‘the new order’ would encourage them, but it did not. What happened is, my classwork marks and my quiz results now match!

I have some success stories, though. I have some students who increased their marks significantly. One of them has never been able to get a two-digit mark out of 100 before, but he improved his marks gradually and the recent mark he has got is 90%. He is in top three of the class now. My successful students also increased their marks; because they like to work on the subject on their own, in silence. One of them, really smart but a problem child, is no more a problem to me. He turns on his music after watching the video, and then starts solving the questions.

I believe I made a good start, yet I have issues to solve. Next year, my school will move to a new campus, where teachers are said to have their own rooms. And another rumor is, students -and hopefully, teachers- will be given IPads instead of hard-copy books. I think I will be able to solve most of my issues and find new opportunities to improve what I do with ShowMe. On the other hand, I don’t want to re-discover America; so if you have similar experience or information, please share with me; charb74 (at) gmail (dot) c o m.

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Our Awesome Educator Community!

This weekend Kika and I attended edcampNYC. Edcamp, described as an “unconference”, is free and put together entirely by educators in different cities throughout the United States. This was my first edcamp and I really enjoyed the comfortable, supportive atmosphere. All attendees are invited to host workshops. It was acceptable to switch between workshops halfway through if you felt the need. When I met new people many asked “what do you teach?” as opposed to “what do you do?” How cool is it that this was the instinctive question to ask?

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The teacher centered atmosphere made me think back to the Tom Whitby post I shared in the round up on Friday, titled Vendors: Villains or Visionaries? In it he discusses reservations that educators have with workshops run by vendors. I don’t consider myself a vendor, but of course I’m not a teacher and I do work for ShowMe, so this article provided some valuable insight. One point he makes really stuck with me “It has been my experience that the industry looks to recruit teachers whenever possible, so that their personnel do have classroom experience. Unfortunately, I think it takes about a year out of the classroom however, before credibility as a teacher is diminished if not wiped out altogether.”

I went to school for teaching and as a student teacher last year I was given full responsibility of my cooperating teachers’ classes and students. Regardless, I’m not in the classroom now, and because of that I can’t fully understand what is going on. We can’t learn what teachers and students find valuable unless we speak to them ourselves. That is why we so value the relationships we have with our teacher and student users. They are our gateway into what is actually going on in the classroom. This is also why I enjoyed edcamp and why you didn’t see any ShowMe workshops being offered. Although we’re always happy to host workshops, we were there to learn and build relationships.

In the past two months I have learned so much from the educators I speak to, either at conferences, over the phone or during school visits. Some teachers are doing amazing things in their classroom using ShowMe and other forms of educational technology. You’ve seen the posts our ambassadors share on this blog, great ideas that they’ve discovered themselves to make ShowMe a powerful tool. When we talk to other community members we like to share things that students and educators have done/do with ShowMe, not what they could do.

I may not be in the classroom this year, but I am thankful that we have so many active users that take the time to reach out to us, meet with us, and share their classroom insight and experiences. They are the reason ShowMe can be a valuable and relavant tool!

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