Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cyberbullies ... are they the new 21st century bully?

Recently when we updated our SSS Handbook we added a policy which addresses one of the newest legal issues created by technology, cyberbullying. The very basic and simple policy reads like this ....

Cyber-Bullying and Harassment

Threatening, harassing, and/or bullying others using electronic means to include the Internet and/or mobile technology is strictly prohibited. This could result in denial of access to the SSS computer lab/laptops and administrative disciplinary actions.

The issue of cyberbullying has been at the forefront of the news recently. Teens recently spoke out on CNN about living in a wired world and being unable to escape cyberbullying. Watch Teens Speak Out here  One study reported that cyberbullying causes higher levels of depression than face-to-face bullying and there have been documented cases of teens committing suicide as a result of being cyberbullied.

I am currently taking a course in School Law and our textbook is entitled CyberLaw: Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Risk in Classrooms. The author Aimee M. Bissonette, J.D. is a lawyer, teacher, and writer who practices law in Minneapolis.

Bissonette states that "cyberbullying .... relies on electronic devices, the Internet, and the anonymity the Internet provides." Cyberbullies have a multitude of tools available to them including cell phones, camera phones, e-mail, instant messaging, personal web sites, and social networking sites.

She lists several common forms of cyberbullying that we might not recognize as unlawful or unethical behaviors. As you read the list, think about whether you have ever been a bully or a victim of these actions.

Common forms of Cyberbullying:

Flaming - is online fights using electronic messages with angry and vulgar language.

Harrassment – is repeatedly sending nasty, mean, and insulting messages.

Denigration – is dissing someone online, sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.

Impersonation – is pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material to get that person in trouble or danger or damage that person’s reputation or friendships.

Outing – is sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online.

Trickery – is tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, then sharing it online.

Exclusion – is intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group.

Cyberstalking – is repeated intense harassment and denigration that includes threats or creates significant fear.

Cyberbullies typically are females rather than males and rely on verbal, emotional, and psychological attacks. They thrive on the anonymity technology provides and are likely to act impulsively without first thinking through the consequences of their actions. The tools they use allow them instant access to their victims and a wide audience for their bullying behavior. Darby Dickerson (2005) in the article Cyberbullies on Campus stated, "Technology allows bulies to be meaner, more frequently, with more allies, before an inestimable audience."

Bissonette concludes by saying that "Cyberbullies are in our schools, and the tools available to these bullies likely will multiply over time. Left unchecked, today's student bullies will become tomorrow's bullying neighbors, coworkers, and bosses. But schools are not without recourse. Schools do not have to tolerate cyberbullying. They can adopt and enforce policies to clearly signal that bullying is not acceptable and will be punished. Just as important, schools can lead the way in educating technology users about responsible and respectful use of electronic media."

Technology is developing at a rapid pace and the law is struggling to catch up, but one thing is certain ... as cyberbullying grows, so do lawsuits. Several states have now enacted legislation that specificially address the issue of cyberbullying and hold offenders criminally liable for their actions. Employers as well as public agencies will be forced to address this issue or they may find themselves defending their actions (or lack of action) in court.

So how do you deal with a cyberbully if you are a victim? Here are some tips:

1. Ignore the person. Go on about your business. Log-off if the harrassment bothers you.
2. Block or delete the person.
3. Change your password, username, or e-mail address.
4. Contact the website to report anything created without your knowledge or to remove inappropriate language.
5. Talk to someone you trust.
6. Call the police if you are getting physical threats.
7. Never arrange to meet with someone you met online unless it is in a public place.

For more information visit http://www.cyberbully411.org/
or http://www.getnetwise.org/

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Multimedia PSA Group Project



During this course I was given the opportunity to examine multimedia and video production. I created a digital story and used Windows Movie Maker to create a movie from still digital images. I researched and evaluated open source video editing software and worked with others in my class on a video production PSA (public service announcement) project.

I envisioned that I would be able to learn to use video and audio editing software during this course and I feel that I achieved those outcomes. I also wanted to explore using screen capture which I did on my own separately from the required assignments for the course.

The ability to use video editing software is very relevant to the work that I do because I manage our program website and will be able to create and add some resources that will aid students in reaching their educational goals. I can add videos to an online course on financial literacy which I am working to develop. I can video students participating in program events and cultural trips. I can also share the tools that I am using and help students use these tools to create projects to be used in presentations for their coursework.

I think the main outcome that I did not achieve was getting more practice in actually editing video clips. This will take some practice but is something that I know I can find tutorials and resources to aid me in doing.

I feel that I was successful in completing the course assignments. I was discouraged by the fact that the updated syllabus did not correspond to what was in the courseware and seemed to be confusing to my classmates when posting on the discussion board. The large number of students in the current class made it difficult for me to find time to read all their posts and get to know some of them better. I really enjoyed working in a group on the PSA project and was encouraged by the quality of work that we were able to produce.

Something I learned about myself from this course was the fact that I am becoming more confident in my leadership abilities and in my technology skills. I am getting faster at posting links and writing content. My attitude toward collaboration has changed from when I first started the degree program. I actually looked forward to the group project this time and took more of a leadership role than in the previous group experience.

Multimedia Week 5: PSA Post-Production

In our readings this week for the course, I watched a video on Edutopia entitled Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age: A New Model for the Workplace.  Randy Nelson, the Dean of Pixar University, stated “The core skill of innovators is error recovery not failure avoidance.”

When I first started this Master’s program I had a fear of failure, but I didn’t let my fears cause me to abandon my dream of furthering my degree. Failure can be the best motivator at times because it causes us to refocus on what our goals are and find new ways to achieve them. In my opinion we need to educate teachers and students that failure is not something to be avoided but is sometimes the best object lesson available to us. In practicing my multimedia skills during this course, I made a lot of mistakes, but with each mistake I learned something valuable that will help me improve my technology skills over time.

This week our team was not able to find a workable time to all meet together so we largely communicated by emails and Emily P. and I met on TinyChat.com on Thursday night according to our project schedule. Emily P. and I discussed the Rough Draft #3 of the PSA. We both agreed that Michael A. did a great job of editing our PSA.

Michael showed rough draft #3 to a friend that composes film scores who suggested using one theme only since the PSA is so short. Michael unified the music in rough draft #3 and added it to the dead parts. He also added the credits to the end of the PSA this week. Emily P. added the talent releases for both actresses to the “files” section of our Google site this week and added modifications to the script outline in red. Michael A. created a Final Shot List page to reflect the final revisions that were made to the PSA shot list. Emily W. kept our project proposal updated with the changes to the PSA and Janie F. contributed by editing and posting comments on the Google site.

Our team agreed to meet at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Our plan is to complete our debriefing at that time, clarify everything that is required for completion of this assignment, and discuss the strengths and weakness of our group project. Our team has been great about communicating with each other and keeping the project on schedule as originally planned. I think we have all been pleased with the outcomes and have learned alot in the process.

Debriefing Web Conference:
Everyone agreed that the project was a terrific accomplishment and a result of our team effort. Some areas that were suggested that could be improved if we were to take on another project would be to use a better camera and look for improved lighting conditions. We agreed that working together from various locations with differing time schedules presented challenges but did not seem to affect our overall communication.

Using the Google Site and email allowed us to communicate with each other and work at the times that were most conducive for each individual team member. Our use of the Google Site was preferred over the method used by other teams who used wiki sites. We found the Google Site was very organized and easy to navigate.

One advantage that we felt that our team had was the fact that we were proactive in organizing our team early on in the course and each member provided leadership and no one felt like they did all the work. Another strength that was identified was the use of TinyChat.com to collaborate via web conference. This created a feeling of cohesiveness among our team and we all agreed that we enjoyed working on the project.


Nelson, R. (2008). Learning and working in the collaborative age: A new model for the workplace. Edutopia. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from http://www.edutopia.org/randy-nelson-school-to-career-video.

Monday, September 20, 2010

True Love Waits 3.0 - "I Wish"

True Love Waits 3.0 - "I Wish" from LifeWay Student on Vimeo.

Sex Begins in the Kitchen

A friend reminded me about this book today.  I met the author Dr. Kevin Leman years ago at a Christian Bookseller's Convention in Anaheim, California.  I am sure I have an autographed copy of the book somewhere if it survived the storm.  Here are some excerpts from the book .....

That is what Dr. Kevin Leman, nationally known speaker and author, contends. “Men and women are so different when it comes to sex and intimacy,” said Leman.  “You have probably heard the saying that when it comes to sex men are like microwaves and women are like crock pots, which is why I say sex begins in the kitchen. Men can be aroused in just seconds while women take a lot longer to warm up. I think one of the biggest dangers in marriage relationships is that both partners think they have each other figured out. Women tend to believe that all a man thinks about is sex and men mistakenly believe that women aren’t interested. In reality, both are clueless about their partner’s needs especially when it comes to sex and intimacy.”

 “When was the last time you wrote your wife a love note and put it in her purse or put a piece of lingerie in your husband’s briefcase to be found at some point during the day?” asks Leman. One of the key elements to having a fulfilling, and lasting marriage is keeping intimacy alive, he says. This happens by being intentional and creative in the way we love each other.

Leman says there are three basic needs married men and women have. When those needs are fulfilled it takes a healthy marriage relationship to a deeper level of intimacy and satisfaction and increases the potential for the marriage to stay together.

Men need to experience sexual fulfillment – not just sex, but to feel respected and needed. Women need affection – to be cuddled, talked to, and romanced. Women also need honesty and openness and to know that their spouse is committed to the family.

So how do couples meet each other’s needs? The first step is to appreciate the differences in each other instead of complaining about them, says Leman. These differences can be the very thing that compels us to experience something new and brings a healthy balance to the relationship. Leman also suggests learning your spouse’s love language. Many of us tend to give to our spouse what would fill our own love tank versus what would fill their love tank. If you don’t know what your partner’s love language is, Leman suggests thinking about what your husband or wife complains about. Often they are tipping their hand about their love language.

Here are some tips for keeping love alive in healthy relationships:

• Surprise your spouse with a night away from home – it doesn’t have to be expensive, just romantic.

• If your nature is not to be assertive sexually, do something different.

• Remember, there are not many men who don’t like the idea of their wife pursuing them.

• Leave a message for your spouse on the bathroom mirror that will give them something to look forward to.

Couples who have been married more than 30 years share that the way they have kept intimacy alive is by creating opportunities for romance and making love – from candlelight picnics, star gazing on the deck and strolling through the Bluff View Sculpture Garden in the spring rain to a bona fide magic moment where you exclude the world and it is just the two of you enjoying each other.

You can’t have sex and expect the intimacy to be there if you haven’t taken the time to develop a strong bond between you and your spouse.

“If you want to beat the average, you better make sure you have a real love affair with your spouse because if you don’t someone else will,” said Leman. “The stakes are high, but the odds are in your favor if you commit to intimately loving your spouse."
 
http://msucares.com/marriage/married/kiitchen.pdf

Friday, September 17, 2010

Multimedia Week 4: PSA Production

Our PSA team met again last night on TinyChat.com to discuss the progress of our group project.  There were 4 members present and this time each member was able to get their video and mics working.  The meeting lasted about 30 minutes and we offered suggestions to improved the video and it was determined that some of the video shots needed to be redone and a few revisions made to the script and narration. 

Emily P. did a great job in videotaping her daughter and Michael A. did a great job of editing the video clips together. You can view the rough draft of our PSA project by going to the following link:    EDLD 5363 Google Site

We decided that Emily P. would retake an over the shoulder shot of Natalie on the computer, coming out of the school and the narration at the end. Emily W. will put the week 5 assignment on Google Docs and update it with the revisions to the proposal, script outline, narration, and shot list, with the changes from the Google site. Pam C. will update the Google Site with the changes that were agreed upon. We also agreed that Pam would attend the class video conference tomorrow night and report back to the group. One question we had was to submit proof that we are collaborating on the PSA project through using this Google Site.

Using the Google site to record our comments and changes has been an invaluable tool to enable us to collaborate together on this project.  Our team is spread across the state of Texas and we work different hours and have varying family schedules so the Google site and schedule has served to keep the project on track and meeting our required deadlines.  I received my grade back today on the Pre-Production work that our team completed last week and we received a score of 100.  Yayyyy Team 4 !!!!!

Another thing that I am pretty excited about this week is that I learned to do screen capture using CamStudio which is an Open Source (free) application.  Being able to do screen capturing will allow me to create some tutorials to use on our program website and also create some personal projects.  I also practiced adding video files to Windows Movie Maker and became really excited about working with video and audio files to create a movie.  Less than 2 weeks ago I was talking about how fearful I was of working with video files and multimedia.  (See post dated Sept. 2nd) What a difference having a little inspiration and the right tools can make!  Multimedia rocks!!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Multimedia Week 3: PSA Pre-Production

In an article I read this past week for my Multimedia class entitled Shoot to Edit: A Guide to Using Your Camcorder, Marc Peters states “In the right hands, and with a lot of ingenuity, even the most dire of video can be made to look presentable.”

Something I learned from reading this article is that it’s not what type of camera you have or what software you use that determines whether your video looks professional.The author discusses the importance of how you hold the camera and the angles that you use when shooting your video. Peters provides lots of tips for using different techniques to create a variety of effects and make editing your video easier.He stresses the importance of putting some time and effort into practicing and experimenting with different angles, positions, and camera techniques.

I think this is some valuable information that will assist in preparing videos of the student interviews that we are preparing to post on our program website.Usually when filming an academic enhancement workshop, a tripod is set up which is focused on the speaker. Gathering shots of the audience responses or using different angles would, in my opinion, make a video much more interesting to the viewers.I would compare this to the difference between someone standing behind a podium presenting a lecture or instead using a variety of interactive learning methods with students.

During the last 3 weeks of this course we will be working in teams of 5 to create a Public Service Announcement (PSA).  Our team consists of Emily Priesmeyer, Emily Wisbrock, Janie Fryar, Michael Alves and myself. Three of us have worked together on a previous group project. Emily Wisbrock set up a Google Site early in the week for us to collaborate in and discuss our ideas for the project. I updated the site to reflect the tasks that were on our assignment.  Michael Alves shared the assignment using Google Docs so that we all could work within the same document and then submit our assignments indivdually.

Our team then met together via video conference using TinyChat which I facilitated. Specific tasks were divided among the group members to complete portions of the project proposal, script, narration, shot list, and copyright information. Roles were assigned to each member in order to complete the video project within the next 2 weeks. Our team plans to meet on Thursdays and Sundays during the Production and Post-production phases in order to monitor the progress toward completion and to debrief at the end to review what we learned and discuss areas in which we could make improvements. The topic that we agreed upon for our PSA is Cyberbullying and our purpose is to educate tweens and teenagers (aged 11-13) and their parents about uncommon forms of cyberbullying and bring awareness to this important issue.

Be sure to watch for a copy of our completed project to be posted here within the next 2 weeks!

Peters, M. (2006, April 18). Shoot to edit: A guide to using your camcorder. Digital Director. Retrieved September 9, 2010, from: http://www.videoforums.co.uk/reviews/features/shoot-to-edit-a-guide-to-using-your-camcorder-a184.html

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Value of EDLD Web Conferences

I have attended many web conferences using Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro for the Educational Technology Leadership program as I continue to work toward my Master’s Degree. The value that I find from attending the web conferences is that it not only gives me an opportunity to talk to the instructor but it also allows me to meet and connect with my classmates. I feel that the ability to have a face to face connection with the instructor on a weekly basis is critical in the success of an online program. Our instructors in the Educational Technology Leadership programs offer tremendous support and encouragement to the students.

Learning to use a headset and webcam has really enhanced my communication skills and has allowed me to apply these skills to other areas of my work and my personal life. I like to think of myself as a “people connector”. I have made some great networking connections through the web conferences with other educators across the state of Texas. These people I now refer to as friends rather than simply colleagues. Each has strengths that I do not possess and serve as great resources for me for the future as I continue to apply what I have learned. I now even have a classmate who has relocated and is teaching in China and we can chat using Google instant messsaging. Class members from earlier cohort groups also help encourage the new students in the program. I look forward to attending the web conferences because I always get clarification on the weekly assignments and gain new insights from the comments and questions of my classmates.

Movie Maker Video Editing Tutorial

Movie Maker Video Editing Tutorial Podcast

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Multimedia Week 2: Video Editing and Media Production

As part of my week 2 assignment for my Multimedia class, I was challenged to research and evaluate video editing software for the purpose of media production. I selected Microsoft Movie Maker and Pinnacle Studio to evaluate to compare video editing software programs. My classmate, Michael Alves directed me to the following Wikipedia site which offers a very thorough comparison of video editing software: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_editing_software

Movie Maker is one of the best video editing programs and comes already installed on most new computers. One of my colleagues uses Movie Maker and highly recommended it to me. Movie Maker allows you to create, edit, and share home movies and has simple drag and drop features that make it friendly to beginner users. Movies can be shared via the Internet, through e-mail, stored on a CD, or saved for playback on the video camera or TV. Movie Maker requires a Windows XP operating system and 2.0 GB of available hard-disk space. The program does require capture hardware to get the video from your camera into your computer.

Another site from my readings this week that I found to be extremely helpful is a tutorial from About.com that demonstrates how to edit video clips in Windows Movie Maker. http://presentationsoft.about.com/od/moviemaker/ss/4-edit-video-clips-in-windows-movie-maker.htm

Pinnacle Studio was once recommended to me by a friend. I purchased the software for around $100. that was later destroyed in a hurricane. Like Movie Maker, Pinnacle is a great video editing tool which allows beginners to easily create professional looking videos. Pinnacle is extremely versatile because it includes hundreds of professional – quality functions such as Chroma Key, which enables you to add someone to a video scene even though they weren't there when the original video scene was captured. Other features are Picture-in-Picture effects, pan and zoom tools, color correction, image stabilization, and digital surround sound.

In the past I have used Movie Maker for a couple of small projects using pictures where I added music or narration, but have minimal experience working with video files. Basically, I learned to navigate the software on my own without the aid of tutorials. I did attend a workshop at the TCEA conference in February of this year that helped increase my video editing skills although I have had little opportunity to use them.

I had never conducted any research to compare or evaluate video editing software. I was not aware of the many free programs or the tutorials that are available to assist me. I have had a fear of working with video files, but I feel more confident in the knowledge that I can use Movie Maker for video editing in the same way that I have used it with still pictures to create a digital story.

In an article by Andrew Garrison titled Video Basics and Production Projects for the Classroom, the author states “Media production engages and excites; it leads to unexpected discoveries, increased self-awareness and esteem, sharpened critical thinking, analytical skills, group work skills, and ability to communicate ideas.”  He goes on to state that “Media production demands writing and rewriting, research, group effort, and clarity of thought.  Media production offers a means for student to talk to whomever they think is an important audience.  It does all this because students want to say things that have meaning to them.”   The idea of using media production to engage students excites me because of the myriad of skills that it teaches those who are participants in the creative process as well as the audience or observers. It also provides students with the opportunity to have a voice and to express their ideas and creativity to a global audience.

Learning to do video editing will enable me to use the tools in my work with students. I am the webmaster for our website and we are adding some video clips of our students sharing testimonials about their successes and how the program helped them reach their goals. I can also use my skills to video workshops that will provide professional development and help improve the study skills of the students in our program. Using my video editing skills will enable me to add content to our website that will be interactive for students and make them want to return and to utilize the other services that we provide.

About. (n.d.). Getting started with desktop video. Retrieved on September 2, 2010, from http://desktopvideo.about.com/od/destopeditinghardware/u/GettingStarted.htm.
Garrison, A. (1999,Winter). Video basics and production projects for the classroom.  Center for Media Literacy.  Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.medialit.org/reading_room-article3.html.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Multimedia Week 1: Digital Storytelling

For my discussion board post this week I selected a quote from Digital Storytelling Cookbook by Joe Lambert, which states “When we hear stories, we listen for answers that we can relate to our own lives. Honoring self-narratives through creative expression with an audience in mind, even an audience of one, offers the opportunity to not only record and string together your insights, but change how others think and feel.”

A little over a year ago I created a blog (www.pamcomer.blogspot.com) and started writing.I initially started it because I had lost a lot of the journals I had compiled over the years as a result of Hurricane Ike and figured the web might be a “safer” place to record my thoughts.I began by documenting some of the events of the hurricane as well as the total loss of our home to a fire.Another reason I started the blog was to reach a specific audience with a message of faith and hope.What I discovered was that my writing became a very therapeutic for me as I recorded the insights I gained through the recovery and rebuilding process. I agree with Lambert that telling a story not only provides an opportunity to change others, but it also changes the storyteller as well.

A post by one of my classmates, Michael Alves, reminded me of a video that I watched yesterday from Ted Talks by David McCandless. McCandless states "It feels like we're all suffering from information overload or data glut. And the good news is there might be an easy solutioin to that, and that's using our eyes more. So, visualizing information, so that we can see the patterns and connections that matter and then designing that information so it makes more sense, or it tells a story, or allows us to focus only on the information that's important. Failing that, visualized information can just look really cool." 

The Beauty of Data Visualization

I agreed with Michael that we have to teach students the importance of not only visualizing information, but also creating connections that enable them to make sense of the information or tell a story.

Katherine Wade, another classmate, mentioned sermons in her post and I was glad because I have heard plenty in my lifetime. Since I am married to a preacher / pastor and am probably his world's worst critic! Her post reminded me that the greatest teacher who ever lived used parables, earthly stories with heavenly meanings, to get his message across to his followers (learners). He used illustrations or examples of things that they could relate to and brought it down to their level of understanding. I agree with Katherine that the most effective speakers are able to engage their audience and hold their attention by telling a story in such a way that it evokes emotion and leads to greater insight and transformation.

Lambert, J. (2007, February). Digital storytelling cookbook, p.15. Story Center. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://www.storycenter.org/cookbook.pdf.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Action Research - Exploring Ways for Continuous Improvement

One insight that caught my interest from my readings during this course was the importance of scheduling a planned consistent time for reflection and inquiry. Taking time for reflection allows a greater sense of control and accomplishment, and enables leaders to make informed administrative decisions and to feel better about the important decisions they make on a day to day basis. I also came to understand the value of principals becoming a “head learner” and as Dr. Jenkins referred to in the video, a “servant leader” in order to be a role model for staff and students.

An area that I would like to explore more deeply is the idea of building interpersonal trust. I have worked in an environment in the past where there was little trust among staff and leadership and where the primary communication method was the grapevine which was often unreliable. I would like to discover more strategies for assessing and building the level of trust in an organization.

To continue building my applied knowledge in this area, I will conduct further research on this subject online and tag the articles under “trust” in my social bookmarking account, Diigo. I can also distribute the “Trust Inventory” found on page 10 of Examining What We Do To Improve Our Schools by Harris, Edmondson, and Combs, to our program staff and compile the results to determine if there are ways that we can improve in this area.

I agree with Matthew when he stated on the discussion board this week that many times we spend more time looking at quantitative data (i.e. test scores, progress reports, GPA's) than we do qualitative data. My approach to working with students is more like that of a case manager or counselor because that is how I was trained. I spend a great deal of time making notes about what I am observing with individual students but I find that I rarely take the time to compile or review what I have written to build a course of action that will help move the student forward toward his/ her goals. Something I learned is that you have to schedule times for action research in order for it to be effective and to become a habit. Blogging is a tool that I can use to help me accomplish this task. Taking the time to look at the numbers coupled with my observations as well as getting input from other program staff would help me get a better picture of the student in order to address his / her needs.

Problem solving is a major focus in my role as an advisor and I agree that research and inquiry are critical skills to impart to college students. Sometimes I teach those skills, and other times I must simply model them. Students often look to me as a problem solver, but if I teach them how to look for and find the answers to their own problems, it will make my job a lot easier and make me a more effective leader.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Action Research Plan Consensus

The following article is written as part of an assignment for Week 4 of my Research course for Educational Technology Leadership. 

I met with my site mentor, Andrea Stephenson, to review and discuss the Action Research Plan for Student Support Services. As we reviewed the plan it was determined that we should meet on a monthly basis to review the progress toward completion of the plan. As SSS program director, Andrea has been working on the yearly program calendar and decided that the plans for professional development for staff could be added to our schedule.

Andrea also was able to recommend some websites to begin looking for information on research that has been done on motivational methods to implement in working with first generation college students. Andrea is also a first generation college graduate, as I am, which highly qualifies her as an expert on this topic. She has also presented academic enhancement workshops at the university sharing information to students to help them with budgeting, finding financial resources, and staying out of debt.

Andrea and I agreed that the focus of our data review should be to not only look at the reason students fail or drop out of college, but also the contributing factors as to why they are successful. Andrea liked the ideas of creating a blog to share the research findings and as a way of soliciting comments from students and advising staff. She also felt that the brochure was a good opportunity to reinforce the staff training and provide consistency in identifying barriers and addressing the needs of first generation students. She suggested that we use multimedia to present the successful student interviews as one of our motivational methods by placing them on the SSS website in order to encourage other students in reaching their goals.

We also discussed the fact that lack of consistency in advising staff in the past may have been a contributing factor to student’s failure to be successful in the program. She suggested that we may want to pull some prior program data to draw some comparisons from previous year’s retention rates to compare to the present since we have had a higher rate of consistency in advising staff for the past year. These additions and revisions will be added to the Action Research Planning Template as part of our strategic planning for the new program year.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Developing an Action Research Plan

Action Research Question:

"How will implementing new motivational methods targeted at first generation college students impact the retention success rates of students obtaining their undergraduate degrees?"

My action research study will focus on new motivational methods targeted for first generation college students. My purpose is to discover ways that these methods could impact the retention success rates of students in obtaining their undergraduate degrees.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics “First-generation students are defined as those whose parents’ highest level of education is a high school diploma or less. In cases where parents have different levels of education, the maximum education level of either parent determines how the student is categorized.” (U.S. Department of Education, 1998)

The target population for my action research will be the number of active first generation participants enrolled in the TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) program at Lamar. Since more than half of the students in the SSS program at Lamar are first generation college students, addressing their needs and barriers to increase their motivation toward completion of a degree would likely result in a greater impact on the performance of the program as a whole.

There are 160 active participants in the SSS program and out of these students, 82% have been identified as first generation students. I believe this would provide a good representative sampling of the students from the larger student population at the university since in 1989 – 90 almost half or about 43 percent of first-time beginning students were identified as first-generation students.

To my knowledge, no previous action research has been conducted on the Lamar campus in this area and it is believed that providing information on this topic would benefit all of the university staff that serve in the area of retention.

The goal or objective of my action research plan is to increase the student retention success rates for the Student Support Services program at Lamar University. The activities I plan to achieve this outcome will be to begin by analyzing the quantitative student data using the Student Access and Banner student management systems, as well as gathering qualitative data by collecting surveys and conducting student and advisor interviews, soliciting comments from students using the SSS blog, maintaining a journal or weblog including links to articles of interest, and reading literature related to research and ideas for motivating first generation students. As a part of the activities included in the plan will be to share the results of my research and findings on a blog site and to prepare a Powerpoint for presentation to retention advising staff.

The timeline for implementation of this research will be from September 2010 to May 2011. The persons responsible for implementation of the plan will include me, and the SSS program director, Andrea Stephenson. The process for monitoring the achievement of goals and objectives will be to meet with my director on a monthly basis to review the progress toward completion. The assessment instrument to evaluate the effectiveness of the action research study will be the annual program reports which are submitted to the federal government reporting the retention success rates of first generation student who are actively enrolled in our program.

I plan to share my action research project by first writing about the results of my findings on my action research blog site. I agree with noted education ethnographer Harry Wolcott (1990) who stated that writing not only reflects thinking, but “writing is thinking”. Writing about the action research process will help me clarify my thoughts and create an outline so that I can then move toward preparing a Powerpoint to use as part of an oral presentation which I will initially share with SSS staff in an informal weekly staff meeting format. According to Dana (2009), “Writing up your inquiry, .... remains a wonderful way to clarify your thinking and make your inquiry tangible so that it can be shared with others.” Sharing my research on a blog will allow me to take ideas a step further and explore and develop concepts. It will also allow me to connect to a larger audience and allow them to post comments and expand on the research.

Next, I will ask to share my findings with a larger audience in a Partners in Advising meeting with campus advising staff members. I will begin by sharing my own personal success story of being a first generation college student and some of the barriers that I encountered along the way to achieving my goals.

Lastly, I will summarize my findings by creating a brochure that can be used to enable advisors to effectively identify the barriers of first generation students. This brochure will also serve as a desk aid / tool to suggest a variety of motivational methods that have been proven to be effective in working with first generation college students.

Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. First-Generation Students: Undergraduates Whose Parents Never Enrolled in Postsecondary Education, NCES 98-082, by Anne-Marie Nunez and Stephanie Cuccaro-Alamin.Project officer: C. Dennis Carroll. Washington DC: 1998.

Wolcott, H.F. (1990). Writing up qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Action Research Planning Template

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Action Research and the Value of Reflection

The following is part of an assignment for my coursework in Educational Technology Leadership and includes a compilation of some things that I have learned on the importance of action research and the value of reflection ....

According to Aileen Ferrance (2000) “action research is a process in which participants examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully, using the techniques of research.” Action research or administrative inquiry is a reflective process of intentionally engaging in the systematic study of practices in order to find ways to improve or change based on the results. It is a powerful tool for professional development and can be used to gain deeper insight in order to enhance the improvement efforts of any organization.

Action research allows leaders to step back, ask questions, and look at data to continually improve. The process allows for inquiry and discussion and is a collaborative activity that enables leaders to search for solutions to everyday problems and look for ways to improve instruction and increase student achievement.

Action research refers to research intended to bring about change of some kind and allows practitioners to become collaborators in educational research by investigating their own problems and facilitate change. It is a research paradigm model that is conducted by practitioners inside an organization and focuses on providing insight into one’s own practice in an effort to change and improve.

Traditional educational research involved doing research on or about people and finding all available information on a topic of interest, looking for correct answers, learning why we do certain things, or problem-solving to find out what is wrong. Traditional research was performed by outside researchers and focused on explaining a process or controlling, predicting, and impacting the results.

Some examples of action research in educational settings include university coursework, superintendent / district meetings, leadership teams, and professional learning communities. By taking part in university coursework, leaders have opportunities to share their experiences with colleagues and classmates which enhances the inquiry process. Superintendent, district, and leadership team meetings allow leaders to share their work and the responsibilities of leadership with others as well as building a culture of collaboration. Professional learning communities allow groups of professionals to connect and network to learn from each other’s practice.

Some of the benefits of conducting action research are that it provides a meaningful way to grow professionally and allows principals to become role models for teachers and students. It also a process which helps best practices to flourish and enables principals to spend more of their time becoming proactive rather than reactive.

Reflection is an important skill in leadership because it is a continuous exercise that leads to greater productivity and efficiency. According to Dana (2009) “many principals do not engage in the process because they just can’t find the time”. Scheduling a planned consistent time for reflection and inquiry will allow a greater sense of control and accomplishment. Time for reflection is an important aspect of action research because it enables leaders to make informed administrative decisions and to feel better about the important decisions they make on a day to day basis. “One way to help ease the tension of time is to make inquiry a part of your daily practice rather than a separate part of it.” (Dana, 2009) Another way is to make inquiry a part of something you are already doing such as evaluating annual reports.

In an earlier post on this blog titled Reflecting on Reflective Thinking dated Dec. 16th, 2009, I wrote the following .....

"I have been thinking alot this week about the value of reflective thinking. As a counselor I use reflective listening techniques in working with students to help them solve their own problems and overcome challenges and barriers to their academic success. I have come to see how using our class discussion board, writing on our blogs and wikis, and completing our group and individual reflection assignments enhances our learning process. From my own personal experience, since I began participating in social networking sites and blogging, my own reflective thinking skills have increased tremendously. Before I began this course, Teaching with Technology, I don't think I had a true appreciation or understood the importance and value of the skill of reflective thinking."

Educational leaders would benefit from using an online journal or blog as a tool for capturing reflective thinking. Blogs are easy to create and update and can also serve as a good way to facilitate the thinking and learning of others. A weblog serves as an “online diary” where you can post text, images, and links to other blogs as well as interact with others by posting comments and receiving feedback from peers or anyone in the world. By reviewing our thought processes or connecting thoughts together over a period of time, the continual exercise of journaling or blogging can lead to greater insights into administrative practice.

Another statement that really stuck out to me on this subject was from noted educational ethnographer Harry Wolcott ( 1990) who stated that "writing and thinking are synonymous. The conventional wisdom is that writing reflects thinking. I am drawn to a different position: Writing is thinking". (p.21)

Ferrance, A. (2000). Themes in education: Action research. Providence, RI. Retrieved on July 17, 2010 from http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/themes_ed/act_research.pdf


Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Wolcott, H.F. (1990). Writing up qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Real Life Research Action Examples

I watched 3 video interviews as part of my week 2 assignment for EDLD 5301 Research. The first interview was with Principal Johnny Briseno of Rancho Isabella Elementary, Angleton ISD. The area of action research he discussed was making data-based decisions. He stated that when you are presented with a problem you have to look at the facts first by asking questions intended to identify the problem and then determining the source of the problem. He stated that numbers do not always tell the whole story but you have to also discuss the qualitative data by asking the “why” and “what” questions such as “why are students not being successful?” and “what can we do to intervene on student’s behalf?”. Principal Briseno recommends that future leaders read articles in order to solve problems or pull up Google and see what other campuses or districts are doing to deal with their problems. Something that I learned from Principal Briseno is that it is best for teachers to share their best practices with their peers rather than the information coming from the leadership because it is more likely to be accepted and received.

The last interview was with Dr. Kirk Lewis, Superintendent of Pasadena ISD. Dr. Lewis stated that their district received a research based grant for a program called Expectation Graduation intended to target 9th grade students to get them in line for on-time graduation. He stated that their action research focused on looking at changing the way they delivered instruction and they spent a great deal of time looking at the data and reading research that other districts had provided. His advice for instructional leaders involved looking at what others are doing and finding a way to translate that into what you are doing and discovering what fits in your situation. He said that you need to ask the question “What is practical for you?” in order to directly apply your situation to student learning and the environment you are looking at whether it is a classroom, campus, or district-wide. Something I learned from Dr. Lewis is that students benefit more from practical rather than theoretical research.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Program Virtually Puts Students in Classroom

A coworker directed me to an interesting article today on the website of Sam Houston State University about their virtual classroom in Second Life called BearKat Island. The article states that "through Second Life, at www.secondlife.com, professors can incorporate any traditional classroom activity, from PowerPoint presentations to lectures to assigning class projects, virtually, and literally. They can even invite speakers from across the globe to guest lecture to their students."  The advantage of using virtual classrooms is their interesting, and innovative format appeals to a tech-savvy generation of students and allows instructors to extend their knowledge to a global community. 
Read article here!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Action Research and the Value of Reflection

The following is part of an assignment for my coursework in Educational Technology Leadership and includes a compilation of some things that I have learned on the importance of action research and the value of reflection ....

According to Aileen Ferrance (2000) “action research is a process in which participants examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully, using the techniques of research.” Action research or administrative inquiry is a reflective process of intentionally engaging in the systematic study of practices in order to find ways to improve or change based on the results. It is a powerful tool for professional development and can be used to gain deeper insight in order to enhance the improvement efforts of any organization.

Action research allows leaders to step back, ask questions, and look at data to continually improve. The process allows for inquiry and discussion and is a collaborative activity that enables leaders to search for solutions to everyday problems and look for ways to improve instruction and increase student achievement.

 Action research refers to research intended to bring about change of some kind and allows practitioners to become collaborators in educational research by investigating their own problems and facilitate change. It is a research paradigm model that is conducted by practitioners inside an organization and focuses on providing insight into one’s own practice in an effort to change and improve.

Traditional educational research involved doing research on or about people and finding all available information on a topic of interest, looking for correct answers, learning why we do certain things, or problem-solving to find out what is wrong. Traditional research was performed by outside researchers and focused on explaining a process or controlling, predicting, and impacting the results.

Some examples of action research in educational settings include university coursework, superintendent / district meetings, leadership teams, and professional learning communities. By taking part in university coursework, leaders have opportunities to share their experiences with colleagues and classmates which enhances the inquiry process. Superintendent, district, and leadership team meetings allow leaders to share their work and the responsibilities of leadership with others as well as building a culture of collaboration. Professional learning communities allow groups of professionals to connect and network to learn from each other’s practice.

Some of the benefits of conducting action research are that it provides a meaningful way to grow professionally and allows principals to become role models for teachers and students. It also a process which helps best practices to flourish and enables principals to spend more of their time becoming proactive rather than reactive.

Reflection is an important skill in leadership because it is a continuous exercise that leads to greater productivity and efficiency. According to Dana (2009) “many principals do not engage in the process because they just can’t find the time”. Scheduling a planned consistent time for reflection and inquiry will allow a greater sense of control and accomplishment. Time for reflection is an important aspect of action research because it enables leaders to make informed administrative decisions and to feel better about the important decisions they make on a day to day basis. “One way to help ease the tension of time is to make inquiry a part of your daily practice rather than a separate part of it.” (Dana, 2009) Another way is to make inquiry a part of something you are already doing such as evaluating annual reports.

In an earlier post on this blog titled Reflecting on Reflective Thinking dated Dec. 16th, 2009, I wrote the following .....

"I have been thinking alot this week about the value of reflective thinking. As a counselor I use reflective listening techniques in working with students to help them solve their own problems and overcome challenges and barriers to their academic success. I have come to see how using our class discussion board, writing on our blogs and wikis, and completing our group and individual reflection assignments enhances our learning process. From my own personal experience, since I began participating in social networking sites and blogging, my own reflective thinking skills have increased tremendously. Before I began this course, Teaching with Technology, I don't think I had a true appreciation or understood the importance and value of the skill of reflective thinking."

Educational leaders would benefit from using an online journal or blog as a tool for capturing reflective thinking. Blogs are easy to create and update and can also serve as a good way to facilitate the thinking and learning of others. A weblog serves as an “online diary” where you can post text, images, and links to other blogs as well as interact with others by posting comments and receiving feedback from peers or anyone in the world.  By reviewing our thought processes or connecting thoughts together over a period of time, the continual exercise of journaling or blogging can lead to greater insights into administrative practice.

Another statement that really stuck out to me on this subject was from noted educational ethnographer Harry Wolcott ( 1990) who stated that "writing and thinking are synonymous. The conventional wisdom is that writing reflects thinking. I am drawn to a different position: Writing is thinking". (p.21)

Ferrance, A. (2000). Themes in education: Action research. Providence, RI. Retrieved on July 17, 2010 from http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/themes_ed/act_research.pdf

Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


Wolcott, H.F. (1990). Writing up qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Cayman Elvis



This link is to an article about Cayman Elvis written by our friend Jack Dennis from San Antonio.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Beauty of Mathematics

The Beauty of Mathematics ... 
Just the math part is good enough, the end is even better!!


Beauty of Mathematics
1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 
9 + 2 = 11
12 x 
9 + 3 = 111
123 x 
9 + 4 = 1111 
1234 x 
9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 
9 + 6 = 111111 
123456 x 
9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 
9 + 8 = 11111111 
12345678 x 
9 + 9 = 111111111 
123456789 x 
9 +10= 1111111111 

9 x 
9 + 7 = 88
98 x 
9 + 6 = 888 
987 x 
9 + 5 = 8888 
9876 x 
+ 4 = 88888 
98765 x 
9 + 3 = 888888 
987654 x 
9 + 2 = 8888888 
9876543 x 
+ 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 
9 + 0 = 888888888 

Brilliant, isn't it?
 

And look at this symmetry: 


1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 
121 
111 x 111 = 
12321
1111 x 1111 = 
1234321 
11111 x 11111 = 
123454321 
111111 x 111111 = 
12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 
1234567654321 
11111111 x 11111111 = 
123456787654321 
111111111 x 111111111 = 
12345678987654321
Mind Boggling...     
Now, take a look at this....
 

101%
 

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:
 

What Equals
 100%?

What does it mean to give MORE than
 100%? 

Ever wonder about those people who say they
are giving more than
 100%? 

We have all been in situations where someone wants you to
 
GIVE OVER 100%..
 

How about
 ACHIEVING 101%?

What equals
 100% in life? 

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help
answer these questions:
 

If:


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 


Is represented as:
 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26. 


Then: 


H-A-R-D-W-O- R- K 


8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%
 

And: 


K-N-O-W-L-E- D-G-E 


11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%
 

But:
 

A-T-T-I-T-U- D-E 


1+20+20+9+20+ 21+4+5 = 100% 


THEN, look how far the love of God will take you: 


L-O-V-E-O-F- G-O-D 

12+15+22+5+15+ 6+7+15+4 = 
101% 


Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While
 Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, 

and Attitude will get you there, 
It's the Love of God that will put you over the top!