Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Giving Credit

Over the last few years I've been thinking about copyright and intellectual property. I haven't been thinking about it a stop-students-from-cheating kind of way (although that is an important element). Mainly I've been wondering about how to act with integrity and honour creators and their work. The internet has really complicated issues of copyright. This video gives one weird but not so uncommon example:
Like John Green, I want to honour the work of other people, but I'm not always convinced that not sharing the work of other artists is the best way to do this. My own example involves a dance recital for my kids. I recorded some of their performance in order to share it with some family members who live in other countries and who miss the small pleasures of family growing up. I uploaded the videos to YouTube with a semi-private setting, but within two days, YouTube removed one of the videos because someone complained that the music excerpt the kids were dancing to was copyright protected. I'm not upset with YouTube, but I wonder how the artist would feel about the situation. Is the artist being honoured or his/her livelihood being protected by preventing dancers from using their music or me from sharing it?

Technically I haven't shared anything that I've learned, and this is a learning log, so here is a video by John's brother Hank (you can check them out on YouTube at vlogbrothers) explaining some of what I've learned about copyright and how the internet is forcing us to change the way we think about intellectual property.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Listen and Learn

by Daniel Coy (CC BY-ND 2.0) 
This week I was thinking about listening and was intrigued by an idea from George Couros and his thinking about facilitating change in schools. He suggests that too often people think about the ultimate goal and try to convince everyone to leap to that goal asap. This isn't always an effective approach because different people may be in very different places in relation to that goal. Listening to people and discovering where they are in relation to the goal is an important first step in facilitating change. Different people will require different next steps on the journey toward a share goal.

I am working on improving listening skills and striving to make some changes, so Mr. Couros's advice is a helpful blending of the two right when I need it most.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Averages Can Be Mean

Over the last two years I've been exploring the problems and drawbacks of grading and assessment practices in school. One of the controversial elements of school, especially in high school, is the practice of assigning one number (a percentage) as a grade in a course. This number is typically an average of all the smaller percentage marks on assignments.

Using the average, or mean, of all the assignments doesn't necessarily tell an accurate story of what a student can do at the end of the course because it keeps remembering the early learning stages when the student's skills and marks were lower. A student who can consistently perform at a high level at the end of the semester, shouldn't be punished by the learning process early in the semester.

Mode can help tell a clearer story. Mode is the number that appears most often in a range of numbers. If a student begins the semester with C's and B's in a certain skill set, but over time masters that skill and regularly earns A's, mode would select A for a mark because it appears most often. Theoretically, this method would communicate a student's abilities more clearly. Of course, it is only one small part of helping improve communication.

Friday, 6 February 2015

LA Comp Learning Log

Our LA Comp class is keeping a weekly learning log this semester, and I'm sharing my learning here. The big categories we are focusing on are Knowledge, Skills/Strategies, and Habits/Attitudes.

I have been learning about spreadsheets, most recently about IMPORTRANGE. It is a formula that allows information to be imported from one source into another. For example, in my case, I have a spreadsheet that I use as a grade book. It contains a separate sheet or tab for each student in class. I would like students to see this grade book, but if I share the spreadsheet with Student A, then Student A can see the entire spreadsheet, including every other student's grades.

IMPORTRANGE allows me to create a new spreadsheet for Student A and then import only the assignments and grades for Student A from my grade book spreadsheet into Student A's personal spreadsheet. The best part is that once the formula is set up, any changes I make in my grade book are automatically updated in Student A's personal spreadsheet. Cool, huh!

If you're interested in the details, leave a comment and I'll send you a link to get you started.