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Kids don’t need to take notes in Tech class

This was a web clipping update that Jeff Utecht took “Colorado schools are beginning to write off cursive handwriting” found here at Coetail@Bkk.

I thought the clipping was interesting and also agreed.  In fact, I was just talking with another teacher about how I don’t usually allow students to hand in assignments that are hand written.  I like to read assignments that are typed “10 or 12pt Arial, Helvitica, Garamong or Times, single-spaced, narrow margins, double-sided”.¹  The reason for this is that I like the standard, easy to read font and the lest three traits are to save with paper.²

In my class I most often have students using a digital device to write notes.  More recently I have had a few ingenious [read: crafty or possibly even lazy] students who have asked if they could just take a photo of the board after I have written or typed notes, so just as this title suggests, they are no longer taking notes in my class.

Now that I allow students to be friends with me on Facebook I also often notice that notes, book clippings, photos of the board and many other things pertaining to assignments in classes are turning up as photos on walls.

It’s definitely a different world that we are living in.  I can’t even imagine if I asked my teachers back when I was in high school or elementary school if I could take a photo of the board and how they would have reacted.

As a teacher I can see the benefits of writing the notes.  Writing things down means that we are visually and physically processing all of the information.  Still, due to time constraints I will allow students to take photo notes with their gadgets … AND some actually even seem to refer back to these photos.  Cool.

When all is said and done I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water.  I counter my argument with the fact that everyone will need to pick up a pen or pencil to fill in a form or write something down the old fashioned way.  In these cases, students do need to have knowledge of how to write with their hands.

I ponder this thought about the future, but what will happen to synaptic connections in the brain and also to our hands fine motor skills due to the fact that we are using them less and less for holding a pen?  I know that the art of penmanship has gone out the window, but will there be other consequences?

I think, as with everything, there is a time and a place.  Technology is allowing new and useful ways for students to change their habits.  It is up to the educator to decide in what amounts they will teach or allow certain skills.  I look forward to seeing the next ingenious and crafty strategies my own students bring to class, as it usually brings humor to my day and also makes me think.

¹I also insist upon: Headers with ‘ClassAssignment TitleStudent’s Name‘; Footers with Page Numbers styled bold2 ‘Page 3 of 42‘; the use of Headings and Subheadings to be referenced with a Table of Contents; and a Conservative Title page with an Abstract

²Most of the time I try to have students hand things in digitally through one-note, a wiki, a Ning, or through Google Docs.

 
 

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Ask an expert about photography

The other day I had the privilege to sit in an after school activity with Aloha Lavina about photography.  It was an enlightening experience as she is a professional photographer and had a lot of immediate tips for a beginning photographer.  Some of them I would like to share with you, plus add a few of my own.

Tip 1. Holding a camera:


  • Use your right hand to hold the right hand side of the camera.  Use your index finger to press and release the shutter button.
  • The positioning of your left hand will sit underneath the camera or under/around a lens if you have a DSLR.
  • Tuck your elbows into your sides.
  • Have the camera close to your body if using the viewfinder which will add extra stability.  If you’re using the LCD make sure you don’t hold your camera too far away from you.
  • Add extra stability by leaning against a solid object like a wall or a tree or by sitting or kneeling down.

Tip 2. Breath properly:

  • Before you take your shot take a gentle but deep breath, hold it, then take the shot and exhale.  This is the most relaxed moment we can get and therefore also the steadiest.

Tip 3. Rules of Thirds:

  • Stop placing your subject matter directly into the center of the photo.
  • Place them in: top-right, bottom right, top-left or bottom-left corners.
  • See this website for more details.

Tip 4. Macros vs Landscape:

  • The macro setting is for super-close-up photos.  The depth of field is narrow, which means that most things that are not directly focused upon will be out of focus.
  • The landscape setting will allow for total focus of everything within view.

Tip 5. Get in close:

  • For a close-up, get in close, and then get in a little closer again to your subject.  You don’t need to be on macro settings, but beware of the focus and the composition.

Tip 6. Choose a different Angle:

  • Try shooting from an angle you wouldn’t normally shoot from.  Get down on the ground for a worm’s eye-view or try standing on a chair to look down at the subject.  The stand-point-and-shoot shot is very boring for the viewer.

Tip 7. Always put someone in the photo when traveling:

  • Unless the shots are meant to be printed out in large format for artistic purposes, put someone into the photos for reflection later.  Most photos are less interesting for the audience when they are an assortment of nothing but landscape or cityscape shots.  You and your friends as subjects make it more fun for everyone.

Tip 8: Using a Flash:

  • Distance?  Don’t use a flash from more than 10-15 ft away from the subject.
  • Windows?  Don’t use a flash.  Be as steady as possible, ideally with a tripod to avoid camera shake.

Tip 9, 10, 11 and more: See this website for more tips about composition, panning, night and winter photography, lighting and other stuff.

Choosing a camera is another blog entry I talk about since many people ask me about it.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Design, Education

 

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How to choose a camera

Being a tech teacher allots a considerable amount of questions when it comes to buying electronics.  “Which computer to buy?  Which external hard drive? Which phone?  etc.”  I neither profess nor even hint to the fact that I am not an expert on the latest gadgets available on the market at the time.  However, I will always sit down with the person and have a good look at what the new and improved versions are of whichever gadget he or she is interested in.  One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “Which camera should I buy?”  In this article I am not going to mention any brand names and definitely not any models, but I will talk about some things that you might want to consider.

  1. Think about how you want to use it?  For example, do you want it at the ready all the time?  If this is a factor, I would consider getting something small, that fits in your pocket and is probably a part of some phone or other multipurpose electronic equipment?  Most phones these days have a pretty good built in camera with a high enough resolution to make the average user happy.
  2. Are you serious about photography?  If this is a primary concern then you will want to consider a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflect) camera with interchangeable lenses.
  3. Most cameras on the market these days will take a fairly good photograph.  It is only if you want to blow pictures up beyond an 8.5×11 that you need to start concerning yourself with how many megapixels the camera is.
  4. Find one that suits your needs: underwater, stylish, durable, small, usb connection, etc.  There are so many choices and there are many new things that cameras can do like red-eye flash, panorama shots, 3d photographs, geo-tracking, and more that you need to figure out what concerns you the most and then prioritize.  Good websites to compare would be:
 

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