Category Archives: Rambling

Long time coming

It has been quite a while since I wrote anything here. Looking back on the entries, almost a year since something original. What has happened to me since then?

Last summer brought a job working at the state department of education. It was typical clerical work, nothing exciting. In the fall I started my student teaching. I did 8 weeks in a middle school and 8 weeks in a high school. Both experiences were great. All the teachers I worked with were great guys and people that I’m going to keep in touch with. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them. I am truly thankful for everything they taught me.

After that I graduated in December. That led to the post-college job search. It was even weirder for me looking for a teaching position mid-school year. There were a few jobs open and I applied for most all of them. One that came up seemed like a perfect fit and a huge opportunity. I really tried for it and ended up getting the position. I started my first full time teaching job mid-year and so far have been loving it.

I teach two engineering courses, CADD, and architecture. I also have the opportunity to re-write curriculum over the summer and tailor the courses exactly how I want. I couldn’t ask for anything more within my first year of teaching. It’s been great.

Since I’ve been teaching, I haven’t had much time to sit and read through my RSS feeds and pull out interesting articles for you. I may try to start doing that again to help keep me sane.

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Learning theory

Personal learning theorists believe that:

Everyone does the best they can at every moment. If they could do better, they would.

In what way(s) might this statement be true? If true, them what are some positive implications for teaching and learning?

This statement is true if you disregard what the person is trying to be their best at. Sure, if they’re working on some homework and are really into it, than they’re doing their best at that. But if they’re doing their homework and not really working hard or wanting to do it,than they’re not trying to do their best on the homework. Maybe they’re trying to put it off. Maybe they’re thinking about something that happened earlier in the day. Whatever they’re thinking about, they’re doing their best at it.

This can have positive implications for teaching. If the teacher can keep the students engaged, interested and thinking about the topic (regardless of how easy or difficult that may actually be), than they’ll be doing their best. If the students are doing their best, than they’ll be learning the best.

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ITEA thoughts

Here’s some thing I typed up quick while in Louisville at the ITEA conference.

Are students getting the critical thinking skills in science classes? It seems that they do experiments and are expected to always come out with the same solution to the problem. IS it really an experiment?

I’ve heard more than once that the tech ed classroom is the place where the students are connecting the things that they learn in science and math. In tech ed, those things are finally making sense to them. Why aren’t they making sense in the science classes? If I teach the science classes, will they make sense? How can I get them to make sense in the science class?

State of Tech ed in CT

Last night I spent some time at the robotics competition talking to students from other schools about their schools. I wanted to get a sense of what types of things they were doing in their classes and what was expected of them once they graduated.

From talking with people, I think its pretty apparent that CT is way ahead of the curve on the engineering side of education. OF the schools I talked to, there was only one other that had a robotics class, and they just got the materials for it. They haven’t even run the class. CCSU, on the other hand, has had a robotics class for a few years now. granted, you don’t actually learn a whole lot in the class, but it does give us expose to robotics so that we’re not flying blind once we start teaching.

It also seemed like other schools have more ‘old school’ content classes. Auto, woods, metals, etc. We touch on that some, but don’t go nearly as in depth as they do. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, but it is different. One part of me wished that we had more content type classes and learned more about the traditional stuff, since that’s most likely what we’ll be teaching, but the other part of me is glad we have what we have, because that looks more like everyone’s goal. If we’re already at the goal, then i puts us in a great position for the future.

My ideas about after I graduated have also changed some. Seeing what education we are getting and what else is out there, makes me want to change everyone else a little. I almost feel like they need to be brought up to speed. What exactly ‘up to speed’ means, I’m not sure, but I feel like I have something that they don’t but should. I’m also not sure how to give them what it is their missing, mainly since I can’t pinpoint what that thing is. Maybe I’ll find this stuff out in the next two days here. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I’m having a blast and learning a ton.

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The Sizzling Sound of Music by Dale Dougherty

Kids these days! Original article found here.

Are iPods changing our perception of music? Are the sounds of MP3s the music we like to hear most?

Jonathan Berger, professor of music at Stanford, was on a panel with me at a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Mountain View, CA on Saturday. Berger’s presentation had a slide titled: “Live, Memorex or MP3.” He mentioned that Thomas Edison promoted his phonograph by demonstrating that a person could not tell whether behind a curtain was an opera singer or one of Edison’s cylinders playing a recording of the singer. More recently, the famous Memorex ad challenged us to determine whether it was a live performance of Ella Fitzgerald or a recorded one.

Berger then said that he tests his incoming students each year in a similar way. He has them listen to a variety of recordings which use different formats from MP3 to ones of much higher quality. He described the results with some disappointment and frustration, as a music lover might, that each year the preference for music in MP3 format rises. In other words, students prefer the quality of that kind of sound over the sound of music of much higher quality. He said that they seemed to prefer “sizzle sounds” that MP3s bring to music. It is a sound they are familiar with.

I remember wondering what audiophiles were up to, buying extremely expensive home audio systems to play old vinyl records. They put turntables in sand-filled enclosures with elaborate cabling schemes. I wondered what they heard in that music that I didn’t. Someone explained to me that audiophiles liked the sound artifacts of vinyl records — the crackles of that format. It was familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish. Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?

Our perception changes and we become attuned to what we like — some like the sizzle and others like the crackle. I wonder if this isn’t also something akin to thinking that hot dogs taste better at the ball park. The hot dog is identical to what you’d buy at a grocery store and there aren’t many restaurants that serve hot dogs. A hot dog is not that special, except in the right setting. The context changes our perception, particularly when it’s so obviously and immediately shared by others. Listening to music on your iPod is not about the sound quality of the music, and it’s more than the convenience of listening to music on the move. It’s that so many people are doing it, and you are in the middle of all this, and all of that colors your perception. All that sizzle is a cultural artifact and a tie that binds us. It’s mostly invisible to us but it is something future generations looking back might find curious because these preferences won’t be obvious to them.

On a related note, a friend commented recently that she doesn’t understand why people put up with such poor sound quality for phone calls on cell phones, and particularly iPhones. “I can hardly hear the person talking to me,” she said. “I don’t think smart phones are making any improvement to the quality of the phone call,” she added. “Is it not important anymore?” She wondered why people accepted such poor quality, and so did Jonathan Berger, but a lot of people just don’t hear it the same way.

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Time?

I’ve noticed, not recently, that I don’t like doing as much work as many other people. I really enjoy my free time.
This time of year I feel super busy. I do have more things I’m doing this year, but I don’t have a job. You’d think that those two things would balance out. I don’t feel that way at all. I honestly have no idea how I would even hold and have time for a job. I know a job should probably be prioritized ahead of other things, but I just don’t want to.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve never had a job that I liked. Every job I’ve had, I’ve gotten to a point that I dreaded going. That leads to the question, how do you get a job that you like?
I suppose the answer to that question is school. The catch is that you need a job to afford school. Does that mean that I have to keep doing something I don’t like (job) in order to do something I like? That doesn’t seem right to me.
I’m not totally sure why. Maybe that’s a topic to explore while I’m not in class.
Did I mention I’m typing this on my iPod?

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Gmail backup

I use to email myself a lot of assignments so that I would have a backup of them. Today I decided that I’m going to use gmail for all my school work backup. I have a second gmail that I really only ever used for pokerroom.com. Since I’m not using that anymore, its now my backup space.

I email myself everything I do, and use it almost as a word processor, since it auto-saves everything. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t see why it won’t work at this point.

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XML conversion

I need a way to convert a batch of XML files into one table, either into excel or something excel cam read (csv, tab delineated, etc). The XML files I have are from TI calculators and don’t seem to be in a standard format. I’m looking for any help. Here’s the XML in plain text:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC “-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN” “http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd”&gt;

<plist version=”1.0″>

<dict>

<key>cells</key>

<array>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>11</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>11</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>25</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>839</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>2</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>1</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>4</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>571</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>173</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>12</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>1</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>10</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>2</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

</array>

<key>columnCount</key>

<integer>8</integer>

<key>containsComplex</key>

<false/>

<key>device name</key>

<string>[F]</string>

<key>device type</key>

<string>TI-83 Plus</string>

<key>object type</key>

<string>Matrix</string>

<key>rowCount</key>

<integer>15</integer>

</dict>

</plist>

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