Monday, May 11, 2009

Energy Project

Marla Sanders

My final project, for Ed 632-Classroom Internet Integration at University of Alaska Southeast, was to research some aspect of how I use energy. Specifically to discover whether or not I waste or squander resources and if so, to consider changes I could make that might improve the situation. Although the subject of the project was energy usage, the purpose of the project was to familiarize myself with; or improve my understanding of modern programs, services and resources that are readily available on the internet and may be used to enrich my teaching in the classroom.

I conducted a study to determine whether or not I waste an excessive amount of energy by leaving electronics and appliances, in my home, plugged in all the time. Called vampire or phantom energy draw, American electronics and appliances may waste as much as 3.5 Billion dollars a year—according to the Blog GreenHome. I measured the amount of energy, in kilowatts, that I regularly use over a four day period then unplugged non-essential appliances and electronics and measured the amount of energy I used over the next four day period. By comparing the two values, I hoped to have a clear understanding of whether I waste electricity and if so, how much.

Study Results

The results of my study were strange and very unexpected. Initial results suggest that I use slightly more electricity whenever I unplug half of my appliances and electrical equipment. I realized that the study had a major flaw—that I only measured for four days, in each sample. My use of electricity varies depending on the day of the week, with the highest draw on Sunday and lowest draw on Saturday. It would have made more sense to compare weekly kilowatt averages. Fortunately, I was able to use my data to explore another conservation issue that became apparent.

I discovered, and was able to confirm, that I waste energy in either case. I suspect my high consumption of kilowatts per hour is indeed phantom draw by my televisions—a suspicion that requires further study.

Presentation of my results available on YouTube.

Also, view data and report at Google Docs.

What I Learned

I learned so much during this project, about programs and services that are available, that I have set up my first web page for students to use. Yea me! On the down side; I have real concerns about privacy and have found that full participation in both my UAS web applications and my students’ web site has taken either a very creative effort on my part or a huge leap into the public abyss. Still, I love it all and am sure I will find a proper balance.

As to my presentation style, I like the recording that ended up on YouTube—more because it was the fourth time I taped it and I was pretty well rehearsed. I suspect that if one wants to record anything worth listening to, one has to spend more than $25 on a microphone.

The first recording was unusable. the second, with a new microphone, was better but every time I moved the wire (?) produced a crinkling sound—and I move a lot. The third taping went well. I didn’t move and I held the microphone about one centimeter from my mouth, which didn’t prevent the unfortunate recording, at the end, of a student saying F#@&*% that was long—man!! Bad recording AND a detention. He was right, it was too long but I don’t yet know how to edit sound so I had to make one more attempt. For this, my final audience: Listeners were under strict instructions to keep their mouths shut—I didn’t want to risk any other delays. There was one close call when, quite innocently, I said “do-do,” but otherwise they were very well behaved. In the end, my presentation was too long to post on YouTube and I had tape an alternative—and shorter—version at home. Now I know that one gig is all I can post at one time on the site.

The second taping, that you didn’t hear, was very instructive. I say ‘um’ and click my tongue a lot, which you don’t hear in the final tape because I learn best from public humiliation! The clicking and ‘umming’ may have occurred more because I was not moving at all, compared with my usual hand waving and walking about. Still, I will be paying more attention to how I pause in conversation. Also it’s pretty dry material. While I find the study interesting, it’s not really something I am excited to share—like algebra.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Marla Sanders

I love technology! I love to try new things. The only thing that stops me from using more technology is time--or lack of it. This is a distinct curse because, as you who are like me surely know, we are always alone in the world. I use office 2007 because it’s been out for a year. But most everyone else is still on 2003 so I have to save double copies of everything anyway. I love technology so much that I would rather skip a vacation so I can afford to buy what I need in the class room.

I was thrilled to learn that my new school was a PC school because I saw that a sign of superiority but, boy was I wrong. Don’t misunderstand me; our tech staff is great and the school is very well equipped.

It’s just that I’m still out on an Island-all alone.

Most of the information obtained for this report came directly from staff interviews. The only thing no one knew anything about was district or school technology plans. I had to do Internet research to find all that.

See the whole report at Google Docs.

Educational Philosophy

Marla Sanders

I have been working on my philosophy of education for many years. At first, by complaining about problems that arose in my daughter’s education; then as a high school teacher receiving students that were wholly unprepared to be in my class; and finally as an MAT student being given the assignment to write my philosophy down. I don’t know that this is my final version but it is certainly close.

I’m a math teacher but I am also an artist. I wanted to create a collage of images. Choosing the images was no problem but working for the first time with Windows Movie Maker was trickier than I had expected. I had hoped to have a much more crowded appearance and I was able to achieve the look in a few places but, once I had two or-three in a row, I would get lost and end up scrambling the whole thing up. Still, in the end I’m pretty happy with it.

Click here to view presentation on YouTube

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Article Review

Marla Sanders

Learning in the Digital Age

by Marc Prensky

Article Overview

Mr. Prensky begins by coining a new term to describe just how different 21st century students are from their 20th century counterparts. So called digital natives are not just better users of technology but they are fluent in the language of technology; while we, digital immigrants, are mere admirers from afar. He states, without equivocation that, not only will we never catch up with the natives but—because they are moving forward so much faster than us—we are doomed to fall farther behind.

This being the case, he believes the role of teaching should change for the 21st student. Teachers should strive to not stifle their student’s connection to technology and accept their own position as the least capable in the room; they should be empathetic guides to their students learning by inviting students to validate the material being ‘taught’ by giving examples of how a concept or idea relates to one of their games, or to their favorite MySpace page. Student’s—because of their superior position—should be included in every classroom decision. Who, what, how, when and where will we learn today boys and girls?

According to the author, the advantages of making this change includes; heightened student engagement, flexible scheduling, and adaptive instruction; by ending the need to ‘herd’ students through a strictly scheduled day.

  • Students are no longer “little versions” of us, indeed, technologically speaking we are “little versions” of them.
  • Digital natives move so fast that digital immigrants will never catch up.
  • Teachers should be chosen based on their “empathy” and “guidance” abilities rather than their knowledge of content area.
  • Even though they are the natives, “We need to help all our students take advantage of these new tools and systems to educate themselves.”
  • Since “we will never have enough truly great teachers to engage these students.”
  • Students, if given the opportunity, could invent timesaving technology that would “free up teachers for more meaningful work.”

I can’t agree more with the practical applications suggested by Mr. Prensk. I don’t agree with any of his reasons but I do believe educators underuse available technology—primarily out of fear. And I agree that turning to ‘digital natives’ for help serves the double purpose of bringing technology into the classroom and of connecting with student’s over something they value and enjoy.

Still, this article is disturbing on so many levels. Any literate person that has read classic literature knows that the nature of being human and being civilized does not change—even as technology marches forward. The role of education is to prepare persons to live within society. Advances in technology do not negate this fact.

Because the author uses a specific example from my content area, I will respond to it directly. He writes, “Students could learn algebra far more quickly and effectively if instruction were available in game format.” I suspect the author is not a math teacher. If he were he would not have made the common mistake of thinking mathematics is about getting the right answer. This is not correct thinking; we want the right answer in chemistry, physics and bookkeeping. But, in math, we look for the solution to a problem. This is not accidental wording. Rather, it is a substantively different thing.

Problem solving involves patience, perseverance, routine, organization, working together, study, understanding the history if a thing, strength in the face of difficulty, and most importantly, negotiating one’s own way over the paths that already exist—the very same skills that are needed to be a good parent, a good employee, a good partner, a good college student and so on. Regardless of the technology used, these skills are not taught by deferring to the next generation’s ‘native’ status but by remembering the previous generation’s ‘immigrant’ status. Successfully passing the baton from one generation to the next depends on striking a balance between the two.

Whether with sand and stick, clay tablet, paper and pencil, typewriter, keyboard or twitter; technology is merely how we communicate, and here, the next generation will always lead. But, in becoming human, social, and civilized, the last generation leads. Until I find a ‘game’ that teaches personal social competence, I will not relegate myself to ‘empathetic guide’ or cheerleader.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Marla Sanders

April 29, 2009

Orchestrating the Media Collage by Jason Ohler

Overview of article

The author discusses the benchmarks of digital literacy. In contrast to every other technology, which developed from inception to ubiquity over many decades or centuries, modern digital technologies advance exponentially fast. Take, for example, the telephone. Invented just before the turn of the 20th century, long distance calling was still a luxury well into the 1970’s. Now contrast that to the internet. Though ‘invented’ decades before, the World Wide Web was not widely available until the early 1990’s but what a whirl wind of growth in both performance and application!

Why has digital technology advanced so fast? The difference is that digital technology is a two way street. Unlike previous communicaton technologies that had producers who designed, developed and distributed a product which consumers then used as intended by the producers; digital technology is, with increasing regularity developed by the consumer and consumed by the developer.

The line between the two is blurring so fast that many will be left out altogether. It is no longer enough to access blog sites; one must be able to produce them as well. And by the time I had typed that last statement it too was an obsolete truth. It is not enough to produce a blog—or produce a Power Point presentation—or produce coherent text. One must now be proficient at including sound and moving pictures; indeed one must produce a collage of all of the above, “[one] must be able to use new media collectively as well as individually.”

Mr. Ohler suggests eight guidelines for teachers to follow so as to “promote the crucial skills associated with digital literacy”:

Shift from text centrism to media collage.

  1. Shift from text centrism to media collage.
  2. Value writing and reading now more than ever.
  3. Adopt art as the next R.
  4. Blend traditional and emerging literacies.
  5. Harness report and story.
  6. Practice private and participatory social literacy.
  7. Develop literacy with digital tools and about digital tools.
  8. Pursue fluency.

Reference Points

  • “Being able to actively create rather than just passively consume new media is important for the obvious reason that it teaches literacy and job skills that are highly valued in a digital society.”
  • A person is a reader if they can read but liteate if they can also write in a medium.
  • “Pressure is on for students to think and write clearly and precisely if they are to be effective contributors to the collective narrative of the Web.
  • “The DAOW of literacy”: Digital, Art, Oral, and Written.
  • The media collage is the new “normal” way to express oneself in the world.
  • Teachers that are not comfortable with the new technologies can still be effective by guiding their students that are toward being highly literate while thay use it.


What I really liked about this article is that it clearly describes our student’s relationship to technology and media—outside of school. Like it or not, parents these days are more likely to buy our students a new ipod than they are to regularly tell them to turn it off and do their homework. I don’t like it but that’s the world we now teach in. If we ever hope to compete with our student’s out of school lives for relevance, we must do it using the same technologies that they crave.

If we don’t step up soon and guide our student’s media product toward the professional or sophisticated; it could be too late. I can see the future clearly: I’m trapped in my nursing home bed, gasping for breath and my nurse texts me on my cell phone…RUOK? What the…?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

I am a very conservational girl. I have been reducing, reusing and recycling since I moved out of my parent’s house and into my own, in 1976. However, I have been a huge waste-er of electricity—or so I’m told. Oh I turn lights off, inside and out, and have green star appliances but I leave everything else plugged in—ALL the time. So I ask I’m I really wasting that much energy?

Question: How much energy do my plugged in but turned off appliances use in a day? *

According to the California Energy Commission, 93% of the energy used by a small radio—like the one I have in my bathroom—is consumed during the 23 hours I have it turned off. Well we will see! Luckily I have a meter on my house, and I have looked up on Google how to read it, so here’s what I plan to do:

1. Collect data on how much electricity I use in one day with everything as it is now.

2. For one day I will unplug everything unless I am actually using it.

3. Collect power usage for each 24 hour period day at 7:00pm.

4. Using cost per Kilowatt hour from electric bill, calculate consumption in kW hrs.

*Since this is spring break and I'm hoping to get on top of this project, I am going to collect data over two days. If the numbers are insignificant—as I expect them to be—I will repeat for two-one week intervals after school begins.

Technology: Highway or Roadblock in Education?

There is a declared and spoken commitment to technology at the district and at my school but, as is so often the case—in the case of technology--the application of that commitment is elusive. I have searched the district and school web sites, wandered the building to see firsthand and talked to teachers and administrators in an attempt to ferret out the techno-culture at my new teaching home.

Fundamentally, one technology is only worth the cost if it makes life easier, better, cleaner, etc. than did the previous technology. At my new school, technology is so difficult to access that it is useless. Indeed, I use on a daily bases only that which I brought with me, and even its value is diminished by my inability to interface with the school.

I learned
• For a school that has made the huge investment of installing a very expensive technology in every room, the technology is too cumbersome to use with regularity.
• Management of technology is a dictatorship not a democracy.
• The primary commitment to technology is merely the declaration that technology is important.
• The misconception persists, that technology is an answer to a problem rather than a tool used in the solution.
• If I want to change things, I’m going to have to go outside of the school to fix it.

Sounds a little hopeless, No?

read my full report at