Category Archives: Technology

Articles, app info, and software.

Inquiring minds want to research…Frankenstein!


Firstly, happy 2016!  It’s been a busy start at RJ with history projects, a huge Theology project for all freshmen, and juniors and seniors out of school on service projects for a full two weeks!  What a cool school I work at, where students are given extensive opportunities to immerse themselves in solidarity with those in need.

During those two weeks of service, the sophomores were hard at work on inquiry-driven research projects.  Half of the sophomore class is writing a research paper on Frankenstein.  They were given five topics to choose from:

  1. Advances during the 1800s. What were some of the latest techniques and discoveries? More specifically, consider cloning and stem cell research. (Just how weird WAS Victor’s idea that he could make a human being).

**Remember, you are not simply researching and presenting these discoveries, but ALSO applying them to Frankenstein.

  1. Choose one of the scientists whose work Victor Frankenstein is said to have admired (Luigi Galvani, Allesandro Volta, Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, or Paracelsus). What were their discoveries or areas of study? What influence did they have on Victor?
  1. Crime and punishment during the 1800s. For example, various characters in the book are accused of murder. What kind of trial and punishment could they expect? Were accused women treated differently than men? How is this portrayed in Frankenstein—accurately or inaccurately? OR, consider grave robbing. How much of a problem was grave robbing? Why? What were the punishments?
  1. Consider the role of women in society of the day. Where were the expectations placed upon them? What were their goals and pursuits? What jobs were open to them? Were Justine, Caroline, and Elizabeth “typical”? ALSO, consider the role of Mary Shelley’s actual life throughout the novel. What influence did her life have on her characters and overall story?
  1. What is the “Nature versus Nurture” argument all about? Consider what might cause the creature’s personality to develop the way it does. Along these lines, look into studies of “Wild Children” (Wolf Boy, Wild Peter, Feral Children, ETC). What happens to children that are completely isolated from human society?

 

What I love about these options is that each topic can be open to interpretation, and variations on these topics will be accepted by the teacher.  I find that this sort of guided inquiry goes over well with students; they want choice and they want to be free to explore, but they like having a bit of guidance.  I showed the girls how to use the Pocket app (www.getpocket.com) as a tool for curating sources.  It’s one of my favorite apps for research because in addition to saving web articles, it finds and saves the permalink for database articles!  Kudos, Pocket.

The research paper has to be 5-7 pages in length and include an annotated bibliography.  I like the idea of reforming a traditional research paper by being more flexible about deadlines, paying close attention to purpose and audience, writing to appeal, offering freedom for outline format, and making the annotated bibliography experience more authentic (Brainstormed in https://secondaryschoolliteracy.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/researching-the-research-paper/).  Each of these is a longer conversation than I’ve had with the English department since I have been here, but I sense that they’re open to change if it translates to college readiness and a more joyful experience for the students.  Things to work on next year.

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Free Tech for Teachers: Read Write Think Timelines


timeline

From the website:

  • Looking to build skills or create new habits? Help children or teens make and manage a focused schedule of activities for a week.
  • After reading a book or story, review the events by helping children put them in order. Encourage them to record their reactions to enhance the review.
  • Before a big event such as a family gathering or vacation, help children or teens plan what steps need to be taken to get ready. Ask them to keep track of the steps as they are accomplished.

 

I’m sending this link to teachers who are participating in the RJHS “Year of the Top 30” project. Depending on the essential question they choose, teachers could use the timeline tool to present the top 10 works of American literature, the top 10 scientific theories that every American should know, the top 10 World History events that everyone needs to know, etc. This is an easy tool to create a visual representation of the class list.

Coding in Our Schools


coding

Thank you Education Week for bringing the computer science controversy to light in your current issue.  The article titled “Computer Science: Not Just an Elective Anymore” is a follow-up to Code.org’s recent “Hour of Code” in which more than twenty million students participated in learning to code using Code.org’s list of online tutorials.  The field of computer science is one of the fastest growing career fields with a projected 1.4 million job openings by 2020 that will only have approximately 400,000 potential qualified employees to fill those positions.

This is the second year I have been teaching intro to computer programming as part of the freshman-required Computing Technology course at Loyola School.  I love Code.org–I use the video featuring big names like Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Bosh to introduce this unit, which sparks interest in those students who had never dreamed of learning to code.  It’s been a success so far; I am hoping to expand it to an after-school club for those who are hooked on coding.

And guess what?  I’m not a computer programmer.  I’m learning while I teach.

Do I believe that computer science courses should be a substitute for language requirements in high school, like Texas?  Absolutely not.  Learning a foreign language helps students become more global, just like computer science.  My question is: why do we have to choose?  Let’s have our cake and eat it, too!