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    Future Farmers of America: Not Just for Future Farmers

    By Kip Glazer
     | May 24, 2017
    FFA Presentation

    One in four students in the United States lives and learns in rural areas. Having lived and worked in the California’s Central Valley for over 10 years, I am aware of the unique challenges and opportunities these students face. While earning my bachelor’s degree at California Polytechnic State University—a school known for its engineering programs—many of my classmates were studying math, science, and technology, with plans to work in agriculture. As a high school teacher, I have had the privilege of watching my students participate in Future Farmers of America (FFA), an intracurricular organization for students interested in agriculture.

    In the spring 2017 issue of New Horizons, Mark Moore reported on a $454,000 grant that provides precision agriculture technology to FFA members at North Newton and South Newton high schools in Indiana. Although the students still learn how to use traditional agricultural equipment (such as tractors and combines), they also learn how to operate drones to collect, analyze, and interpret real-time data from the field.

    FFA programs provide instruction for students who want to learn about the science, business, and technology behind plant and animal production and natural resource systems. For example, students in one agricultural entrepreneurship class learned how to create, implement, and present a business plan. For their final project, they designed visual presentations that included the product, the mission statement, relevant statistics, and descriptions of the technologies involved. Projects like this help build critical literacy skills that can be applied to any subject.

    2016 Honorary American FFA Degree recipient Julie Beechinor once said to me, “Many people still think agricultural is just about cows, sows, and plows. They have no clue how much technology is involved in agriculture. My students are trained to be scientists, and we need them to be. Because without smart agriculture, no one can live.”

    Having seen what her students do, I couldn’t agree more! 

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    Computer Coding as a Second Language

    By Kip Glazer
     | Apr 26, 2017

    Boy in yellow shirt on a laptopI recently read a story about a Colombian security guard named Edison Garcia Vargas, who learned to speak English using duolingo.com, one of my favorite language learning tools. As a teacher, I have recommended Duolingo (also available as an app) to several parents who want to learn English, including my own in South Korea. I was excited to hear Vargas' story, which demonstrates the life-changing impact of this tool.

    Improving literacy is a longtime passion of mine. Despite having lived in the United States for over 20 years, I know I will be a second-language learner for the rest of my life. I feel this acutely when my colleagues and friends make references to the '90s pop culture, to which I must explain that I lived in Korea until 1993 and didn't speak English until the late 1990s.

    One thing I have learned about language acquisition is that it requires daily practice. I often find myself searching for Korean words in conversations with my family, despite having attended a university in Korea. I frustrate my parents when I answer them in English.

    In many ways, learning to code is similar to learning to speak another language. Duolingo reminds its users to practice the language 20 to 30 minutes every day. Its website provides pictures, audios, and quizzes, and allows users to repeat the lessons as many times as they desire. I believe that's how we should approach teaching our students to code; students must practice every day, and in a structured environment.

    However, many schools do not offer coding courses. For these high school and middle school students, I recommend online learning tools such as codehs.com, codecademy.com, and codeavengers.com. For younger students, I recommend scratch.mit.edu and tynker.com, which,use colorful blocks and animated characters to help users build logical reasoning skills.

    Students also need to be immersed in the language that they want to learn. While I had Korean-speaking friends, I deliberately befriended Japanese, German, and French-speaking students at the language school I attended. We all spoke different languages, which forced all of us to communicate in English when possible. I suggest that students create similar support systems when learning to code. If they do not know someone locally, I tell them to visit github.com and hackpledge.org, sites where experienced computer programmers and developers offer help and answer questions.

    A report published by Burning Glass identifies coding experience as one of the most valuable and employable skills. With the advent of online coding courses, the educational resources that students need to develop these skills have become more broadly accessible.

    The most important thing, however, is to encourage students daily to persevere, even if they experience failures. I explain to my students that learning to code is learning to speak another language. Having struggled to learn English as an adult, I remind my students that they can learn to code successfully, even if they start later than others.

    Kip Glazer HeadshotKip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. In 2002, she graduated Cum Laude from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. She earned her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University in 2004, while receiving her California Single Subject Teaching Credential in both Social Studies and English. Since then, she has earned additional teaching credentials in Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. Glazer is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University. She is the current team leader for Independence High School's Teachers' Professional Development Grant funded by California State University, Chico. She maintains a blog about her projects and grants.


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    A Quick Guide to Good Digital Hygiene

    By Kip Glazer
     | Mar 22, 2017

    ThinkstockPhotos-87768937_x300Recently, my older son, who is studying Information Technology and Cyber Security in college, reminded me of a term: digital hygiene. He talked about how his professor used the term to describe the importance of using a password manager to keep online passwords safe. I, too, believe improving our digital hygiene is important, and I argue that teachers have a special role to play. I offer suggestions for helping students develop good digital hygiene practices.

    Give explicit instructions on composing a subject line and signature

    I recommended that teachers instruct their students to use a standardized subject line for sending e-mails. I would tell students that I wouldn't read an e-mail unless I know it was from them. By requiring a prearranged format, I could determine whether an e-mail was from one of my students. I typically asked them to add the class period, class title, full name, and purpose of their message in the subject line. For example, "Period 2, Senior English, John Doe: Absence/Missing Work" told me exactly what to expect when I opened the e-mail. This structure also helped students to think about the main point of the message and how to be succinct.

    I also encouraged students to add a signature and a privacy statement. I typically told them to add "This e-mail may contain confidential and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). Any review, use, distribution, or disclosure by others is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient (or authorized to receive the e-mail, document, or information on behalf of the recipient), please contact the sender by reply e-mail and delete all copies of this message." By doing so, students learned that no e-mail communication is private, even with the added privacy statement.

    Provide tools to create strong, secure passwords

    On a high school campus, students sharing devices is common. I instructed students to create strong passwords and to never share them. I taught students to never use their pet's name, birthday, or address as their password. Instead, I recommended services like Secure Password Generator or LastPass to create secure, random passwords.

    Model how to update operating systems, virus protection programs, and browsers

    One of the biggest security issues comes from users not updating their digital systems, especially the browsers. I encouraged teachers to show students how to update browsers across all Internet-enabled devices and how to check whether they have the newest version of the browser. I also recommend a few free virus protection programs such as AVG and Avast.

    Use cloud services to share work rather than USB flash drives

    As a classroom teacher, I often asked my students to create digital presentations. Whether it was a slide presentation or a video, I always required them to share it using cloud services such as Google Drive or Dropbox. I did so to prevent introducing a virus to the school's network.

    Some students used online presentation tools such as Prezi or Google Slides. In such cases, I required students add me as one of their editors, which gave me a lot more options in terms of seeing who contributed and when.

    As we interact with one another more and more online, we need to practice good digital hygiene to keep us healthy and safe. Just as we would want students to wash their hands frequently to keep their bodies physically healthy, we should remind them to practice digital hygiene to protect their digital health.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    How to Use Multimedia in Your Classroom

    By Kip Glazer
     | Feb 22, 2017

    shutterstock_218246353_x300There are lots of teachers who use movies as an instructional tool. I remember getting parental permission to show Glory during the Realism Unit in my junior American Literature English class because the movie was rated R. The story of Colonel Robert Shaw, who led the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry Unit during the American Civil War, complemented “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, as both depicted the American Civil War realistically with tragic endings. For teachers interested in using multimedia in their classrooms, I would like to share a few things that I have tried over the years.

    Using audiobooks over full-length movies

    As a second-language learner, I listened to many audiobooks while learning to speak English. Once I became a teacher, I realized my students needed lots of help in improving their reading skills. Watching movies often did not accomplish this goal because their focus was on the pictures and the background music and not the texts.

    To help my students to improve their reading skills, I recommended Lit2Go. The site features recordings of classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. In the past, I had also used The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare CDs I borrowed from a local library, but now I suggest using Free Shakespeare Plays on Audio by LearnOutLoud.com while reading a Shakespearean play.

    Using song files and music videos

    In a lesson about irony, I used two songs: “Short People” by Randy Newman and “Best Song Everrr” by Wallpaper. First, I had my students listen to “Short People” with their eyes closed. Then I played the song again. This time, I asked my students to write down a sentence or two from the song. Afterward, I facilitated a short discussion about the songwriter’s true intent. I played the song one more time and asked the students to create a visual that encapsulated the true meaning of the song. I repeated the process with “Best Song Everrr.” Eventually, I helped my students to understand the different types of irony by asking whether the first songwriter really hated short people and the second songwriter thought his song was the best song ever. I also explained how the use of a certain literary device such as hyperbole contributed to creating a verbal irony.

    I also used the music video of The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” prior to teaching the Romanticism Unit. The music video illustrates the Romantics’ love of nature, their obsession of death by drowning, and their adoration of poetry. It even has a green-covered book of Tennyson’s poems drowning in a lake! First, I played the music video for the students to enjoy. Then I played it again. This time, I asked my students to write down items they noticed. Afterward, I showed several paintings from the Romantic era and asked students to list what they noticed in the paintings. Then we discussed the common items and how those represent the Romantic ideal. I asked my students to find examples that illustrate the Romantic ideals as we read “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe or Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

    Using student-recommended materials

    In addition to my own selections, I also asked my students to find great videos that they think we should use in class. This particular assignment has helped me find several useful videos, including Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” which was recommended by a student as we discussed characterization. While reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, I used this video to discuss why the author had Jane physically assisting Mr. Rochester, who had fallen off his horse when they first met, and how Jane’s physical act contributed to her strong character. I also used the same video to talk about the importance of nonverbal communication.

    Showing short clips instead of the entire movie

    Living in today’s media-enriched environment, our students have access to lots and lots of multimedia. That is why I avoid showing a movie in its entirety in class. I remember my students telling me that they got together on the weekend to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail after I shared a few clips in class as a way to discuss archetypes.

    Today’s students need help in developing a critical lens when it comes to selecting and consuming quality multimedia. Teachers can help their students develop their media literacy by carefully selecting and using multimedia purposefully in the classroom.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

     

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    Taking Control Over the Data Narrative

    By Kip Glazer
     | Jan 25, 2017
    76945599_x300

    When I tell people how much I love statistics, data, and numbers, I often get a funny look, especially when people find out I have been an English teacher. But mathematics is a universal language! Yes, I love great literature, but I also adore numbers!

    Even if you do not love numbers like I do, you might be able to appreciate the simple fact that data create a narrative, and taking control of the narrative is more important than ever before with the amount of data that we now have access to. Besides, our daily lives are filled with conversations about numbers, as we have all heard statements such as, “The median housing price is…” or “The average snowfall for this year is…” Whether you want to, we could probably all agree that being able to understand and work with data is extremely important. The following are some suggestions on how to work with data.

    Know that sampling matters

    Any lover of history would remember the famous picture of President Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune that said, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Since then, we have had many instances of data being incorrect because of who answered the questions. When looking at any data, we should remember who answered and in what context, which leads to my next point.

    Be aware of the averages

    To draw accurate conclusions, we should take time before making judgments about numbers, especially averages and the trend they are supposed to tell. I remember looking at performance data with my English department one year. We received graphs for tests for two years. The graphs showed the averages of a standardized test for ninth, 10th, and 11th graders over two years. Someone asked, “Does this mean the averages went up from last year to this year?” To that I replied, “No. It doesn’t. The group that is now 10th grade performed extremely well when they were in ninth grade. However, their performance dropped by 10%, while the current 11th graders’ performance dropped only by 5% from what they did in 10th grade. If you factor in the increased in difficulty for the test, our 11th graders are doing much better than the 10th graders.” Rather than simply looking at the average, we must consider the context of the data and what the average actually says. After all, if you stick one foot in ice water and the other in boiling water, the average would be warm even though your one foot is frozen and the other is burned!

    Verify the scales

    Another thing to remember when looking at statistics is that the scale matters. For example, if you heard that a school has a score of 800, would you be impressed? Once I tell you many schools’ Adequate Yearly Progress score is supposed to be between 0 and 1,000, you would realize that 800 is a solid number. What if I told you 800 was someone’s SAT Math Subject Test score? You would be impressed because 800 is the highest score a student can receive on that test.

    Question the questions

    When discussing data, we must remember the importance of the right data collection tools. Asking good questions is vital in all data analysis. Some say standardized tests do not tell us how well our students are doing. I say it does tell us something; it doesn’t tell us everything.

    Fortunately, we have lots of tools that allow us to illustrate data easily. For example, Plotly allows you create graphs and charts easily and quickly. It’s three-panel dashboard offers simple options for you to enter data and create different charts. ChartGo is another website that allows you to create different charts. You can also import Excel or CSV files. But my favorite data illustration tools have to be Wordle and WorldClouds. As an English teacher, I used this tool with my students often. For example, we created a word cloud for the Gettysburg Address. It shows the repeated words in the speech to quickly discern the author’s purpose. My students and I had frequent discussions about the author’s purpose as we looked at the word choice.

    Nate Silver, the editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight and author of The Signal and the Noise, once said people think they want information when what they really want is the knowledge. The bottom line is that having good data helps all of us to make better decisions. By accepting that we must learn to work with data and becoming critical about how they are collected and analyzed, educators can model a good use of data to our students.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

     

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