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    Computer Coding as a Second Language

    By Kip Glazer
     | Apr 26, 2017

    Boy in yellow shirt on a laptopI recently read a story about a Colombian security guard named Edison Garcia Vargas, who learned to speak English using duolingo.com, one of my favorite language learning tools. As a teacher, I have recommended Duolingo (also available as an app) to several parents who want to learn English, including my own in South Korea. I was excited to hear Vargas' story, which demonstrates the life-changing impact of this tool.

    Improving literacy is a longtime passion of mine. Despite having lived in the United States for over 20 years, I know I will be a second-language learner for the rest of my life. I feel this acutely when my colleagues and friends make references to the '90s pop culture, to which I must explain that I lived in Korea until 1993 and didn't speak English until the late 1990s.

    One thing I have learned about language acquisition is that it requires daily practice. I often find myself searching for Korean words in conversations with my family, despite having attended a university in Korea. I frustrate my parents when I answer them in English.

    In many ways, learning to code is similar to learning to speak another language. Duolingo reminds its users to practice the language 20 to 30 minutes every day. Its website provides pictures, audios, and quizzes, and allows users to repeat the lessons as many times as they desire. I believe that's how we should approach teaching our students to code; students must practice every day, and in a structured environment.

    However, many schools do not offer coding courses. For these high school and middle school students, I recommend online learning tools such as codehs.com, codecademy.com, and codeavengers.com. For younger students, I recommend scratch.mit.edu and tynker.com, which,use colorful blocks and animated characters to help users build logical reasoning skills.

    Students also need to be immersed in the language that they want to learn. While I had Korean-speaking friends, I deliberately befriended Japanese, German, and French-speaking students at the language school I attended. We all spoke different languages, which forced all of us to communicate in English when possible. I suggest that students create similar support systems when learning to code. If they do not know someone locally, I tell them to visit github.com and hackpledge.org, sites where experienced computer programmers and developers offer help and answer questions.

    A report published by Burning Glass identifies coding experience as one of the most valuable and employable skills. With the advent of online coding courses, the educational resources that students need to develop these skills have become more broadly accessible.

    The most important thing, however, is to encourage students daily to persevere, even if they experience failures. I explain to my students that learning to code is learning to speak another language. Having struggled to learn English as an adult, I remind my students that they can learn to code successfully, even if they start later than others.

    Kip Glazer HeadshotKip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. In 2002, she graduated Cum Laude from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. She earned her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University in 2004, while receiving her California Single Subject Teaching Credential in both Social Studies and English. Since then, she has earned additional teaching credentials in Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. Glazer is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University. She is the current team leader for Independence High School's Teachers' Professional Development Grant funded by California State University, Chico. She maintains a blog about her projects and grants.


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    A Quick Guide to Good Digital Hygiene

    By Kip Glazer
     | Mar 22, 2017

    ThinkstockPhotos-87768937_x300Recently, my older son, who is studying Information Technology and Cyber Security in college, reminded me of a term: digital hygiene. He talked about how his professor used the term to describe the importance of using a password manager to keep online passwords safe. I, too, believe improving our digital hygiene is important, and I argue that teachers have a special role to play. I offer suggestions for helping students develop good digital hygiene practices.

    Give explicit instructions on composing a subject line and signature

    I recommended that teachers instruct their students to use a standardized subject line for sending e-mails. I would tell students that I wouldn't read an e-mail unless I know it was from them. By requiring a prearranged format, I could determine whether an e-mail was from one of my students. I typically asked them to add the class period, class title, full name, and purpose of their message in the subject line. For example, "Period 2, Senior English, John Doe: Absence/Missing Work" told me exactly what to expect when I opened the e-mail. This structure also helped students to think about the main point of the message and how to be succinct.

    I also encouraged students to add a signature and a privacy statement. I typically told them to add "This e-mail may contain confidential and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). Any review, use, distribution, or disclosure by others is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient (or authorized to receive the e-mail, document, or information on behalf of the recipient), please contact the sender by reply e-mail and delete all copies of this message." By doing so, students learned that no e-mail communication is private, even with the added privacy statement.

    Provide tools to create strong, secure passwords

    On a high school campus, students sharing devices is common. I instructed students to create strong passwords and to never share them. I taught students to never use their pet's name, birthday, or address as their password. Instead, I recommended services like Secure Password Generator or LastPass to create secure, random passwords.

    Model how to update operating systems, virus protection programs, and browsers

    One of the biggest security issues comes from users not updating their digital systems, especially the browsers. I encouraged teachers to show students how to update browsers across all Internet-enabled devices and how to check whether they have the newest version of the browser. I also recommend a few free virus protection programs such as AVG and Avast.

    Use cloud services to share work rather than USB flash drives

    As a classroom teacher, I often asked my students to create digital presentations. Whether it was a slide presentation or a video, I always required them to share it using cloud services such as Google Drive or Dropbox. I did so to prevent introducing a virus to the school's network.

    Some students used online presentation tools such as Prezi or Google Slides. In such cases, I required students add me as one of their editors, which gave me a lot more options in terms of seeing who contributed and when.

    As we interact with one another more and more online, we need to practice good digital hygiene to keep us healthy and safe. Just as we would want students to wash their hands frequently to keep their bodies physically healthy, we should remind them to practice digital hygiene to protect their digital health.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    How to Use Multimedia in Your Classroom

    By Kip Glazer
     | Feb 22, 2017

    shutterstock_218246353_x300There are lots of teachers who use movies as an instructional tool. I remember getting parental permission to show Glory during the Realism Unit in my junior American Literature English class because the movie was rated R. The story of Colonel Robert Shaw, who led the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry Unit during the American Civil War, complemented “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, as both depicted the American Civil War realistically with tragic endings. For teachers interested in using multimedia in their classrooms, I would like to share a few things that I have tried over the years.

    Using audiobooks over full-length movies

    As a second-language learner, I listened to many audiobooks while learning to speak English. Once I became a teacher, I realized my students needed lots of help in improving their reading skills. Watching movies often did not accomplish this goal because their focus was on the pictures and the background music and not the texts.

    To help my students to improve their reading skills, I recommended Lit2Go. The site features recordings of classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. In the past, I had also used The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare CDs I borrowed from a local library, but now I suggest using Free Shakespeare Plays on Audio by LearnOutLoud.com while reading a Shakespearean play.

    Using song files and music videos

    In a lesson about irony, I used two songs: “Short People” by Randy Newman and “Best Song Everrr” by Wallpaper. First, I had my students listen to “Short People” with their eyes closed. Then I played the song again. This time, I asked my students to write down a sentence or two from the song. Afterward, I facilitated a short discussion about the songwriter’s true intent. I played the song one more time and asked the students to create a visual that encapsulated the true meaning of the song. I repeated the process with “Best Song Everrr.” Eventually, I helped my students to understand the different types of irony by asking whether the first songwriter really hated short people and the second songwriter thought his song was the best song ever. I also explained how the use of a certain literary device such as hyperbole contributed to creating a verbal irony.

    I also used the music video of The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” prior to teaching the Romanticism Unit. The music video illustrates the Romantics’ love of nature, their obsession of death by drowning, and their adoration of poetry. It even has a green-covered book of Tennyson’s poems drowning in a lake! First, I played the music video for the students to enjoy. Then I played it again. This time, I asked my students to write down items they noticed. Afterward, I showed several paintings from the Romantic era and asked students to list what they noticed in the paintings. Then we discussed the common items and how those represent the Romantic ideal. I asked my students to find examples that illustrate the Romantic ideals as we read “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe or Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

    Using student-recommended materials

    In addition to my own selections, I also asked my students to find great videos that they think we should use in class. This particular assignment has helped me find several useful videos, including Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” which was recommended by a student as we discussed characterization. While reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, I used this video to discuss why the author had Jane physically assisting Mr. Rochester, who had fallen off his horse when they first met, and how Jane’s physical act contributed to her strong character. I also used the same video to talk about the importance of nonverbal communication.

    Showing short clips instead of the entire movie

    Living in today’s media-enriched environment, our students have access to lots and lots of multimedia. That is why I avoid showing a movie in its entirety in class. I remember my students telling me that they got together on the weekend to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail after I shared a few clips in class as a way to discuss archetypes.

    Today’s students need help in developing a critical lens when it comes to selecting and consuming quality multimedia. Teachers can help their students develop their media literacy by carefully selecting and using multimedia purposefully in the classroom.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

     

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    Taking Control Over the Data Narrative

    By Kip Glazer
     | Jan 25, 2017
    76945599_x300

    When I tell people how much I love statistics, data, and numbers, I often get a funny look, especially when people find out I have been an English teacher. But mathematics is a universal language! Yes, I love great literature, but I also adore numbers!

    Even if you do not love numbers like I do, you might be able to appreciate the simple fact that data create a narrative, and taking control of the narrative is more important than ever before with the amount of data that we now have access to. Besides, our daily lives are filled with conversations about numbers, as we have all heard statements such as, “The median housing price is…” or “The average snowfall for this year is…” Whether you want to, we could probably all agree that being able to understand and work with data is extremely important. The following are some suggestions on how to work with data.

    Know that sampling matters

    Any lover of history would remember the famous picture of President Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune that said, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Since then, we have had many instances of data being incorrect because of who answered the questions. When looking at any data, we should remember who answered and in what context, which leads to my next point.

    Be aware of the averages

    To draw accurate conclusions, we should take time before making judgments about numbers, especially averages and the trend they are supposed to tell. I remember looking at performance data with my English department one year. We received graphs for tests for two years. The graphs showed the averages of a standardized test for ninth, 10th, and 11th graders over two years. Someone asked, “Does this mean the averages went up from last year to this year?” To that I replied, “No. It doesn’t. The group that is now 10th grade performed extremely well when they were in ninth grade. However, their performance dropped by 10%, while the current 11th graders’ performance dropped only by 5% from what they did in 10th grade. If you factor in the increased in difficulty for the test, our 11th graders are doing much better than the 10th graders.” Rather than simply looking at the average, we must consider the context of the data and what the average actually says. After all, if you stick one foot in ice water and the other in boiling water, the average would be warm even though your one foot is frozen and the other is burned!

    Verify the scales

    Another thing to remember when looking at statistics is that the scale matters. For example, if you heard that a school has a score of 800, would you be impressed? Once I tell you many schools’ Adequate Yearly Progress score is supposed to be between 0 and 1,000, you would realize that 800 is a solid number. What if I told you 800 was someone’s SAT Math Subject Test score? You would be impressed because 800 is the highest score a student can receive on that test.

    Question the questions

    When discussing data, we must remember the importance of the right data collection tools. Asking good questions is vital in all data analysis. Some say standardized tests do not tell us how well our students are doing. I say it does tell us something; it doesn’t tell us everything.

    Fortunately, we have lots of tools that allow us to illustrate data easily. For example, Plotly allows you create graphs and charts easily and quickly. It’s three-panel dashboard offers simple options for you to enter data and create different charts. ChartGo is another website that allows you to create different charts. You can also import Excel or CSV files. But my favorite data illustration tools have to be Wordle and WorldClouds. As an English teacher, I used this tool with my students often. For example, we created a word cloud for the Gettysburg Address. It shows the repeated words in the speech to quickly discern the author’s purpose. My students and I had frequent discussions about the author’s purpose as we looked at the word choice.

    Nate Silver, the editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight and author of The Signal and the Noise, once said people think they want information when what they really want is the knowledge. The bottom line is that having good data helps all of us to make better decisions. By accepting that we must learn to work with data and becoming critical about how they are collected and analyzed, educators can model a good use of data to our students.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

     

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    Avoiding “Fake News” in the Classroom

    By Kip Glazer
     | Dec 15, 2016

    shutterstock_244010971_300Late on the Friday before my school’s weeklong Thanksgiving break, a senior came by my office. He wanted to know why he received a D on his annotated bibliography assignment. After all, he had all five sources his teacher asked him to find. He was frustrated and wanted help.

    Having been an English teacher for over a decade, I directed him to look at Google Scholar. We put his keyword food politics into the search bar. I explained to him that sources should be current, preferably within the last five years, and showed him how to reset the date range to 2011–2016. Then I explained to him that the best sources should be peer-reviewed journal articles with digital object identifiers (DOI)—kind of like a social security number for a reputable article. Then I pointed out the Google Scholar–tracked citation counts. I told him he should use books and then other credible websites sponsored by governmental or educational institutions, in that order, only if he couldn’t find any peer-reviewed journals for his topic. After my explanation, we looked at his paper together, and he said, “So one source like that book I picked would have gotten me a B, but using four random websites, I deserved to get a D.”

    Moments like that gives me hope despite reading “Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds” published by The Wall Street Journal and many other news organizations. Citing the recent Stanford University study, many were alarmed by the fact that 82% of the middle school students “couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled ‘sponsored content’ and a real news story on a website.” The study finding was not surprising to me because, having been concerned about this issue for a while, I have written posts about both digital literacy and digital footprint. The article also correctly pointed out how a lack of trained school librarians at many public schools had made the situation worse.

    To continue to make matters worse, there are numerous fake news sites that deliberately mislead their readers. Recently NPR broadcasted a story on fake news sites, which revealed how numerous websites that appeared to be legitimate posted completely fabricated stories. One such story was shared over half a million times on Facebook. Although many social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google had announced their commitment to reduce the number of such postings using various computer algorithms, today’s media consumers need to be vigilant.

    So what can we as teachers do to help our students?

    1. Discuss credibility of sources. As a public school teacher, my students have asked me about my political beliefs more than once. I often used that as an opportunity to teach my students about the credibility of the source. To make my point, I would ask my students to look up articles on medical research findings. I pointed out whether an article was posted on websites like the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or Harvard Medical School. Then I had students look for the articles posted on other websites. I also pointed out the tone of the language used in certain articles. Then I explained the difference between an opinion posted on BuzzFeed and The Washington Post by discussing the role of an editorial board and journalistic ethics. When a student brings up a topic, ask the following questions, “Where did you hear that?” “Who was the source?” “Do you think they are credible on the basis of their education, expertise, and experience?”

    2. Model productive research behaviors. I also shared how I conducted my own research for my publications. I introduced different digital tools such as Google Scholar and EBSCO and how I used my tools such as RefWorks and Paperpile to collect sources. I also encouraged my students to request help from a librarian in their own research. I often added a lesson on the difference between the manuscript requirement of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and that of the American Psychological Association (APA). I explained how the MLA valued the author whereas the APA valued the publication dates as indicated in the requirements of their respective Works Cited and Reference sections.

    3. Teach the explicit differences among the sources. I had my students think in terms of points or grade as to which source should get an A, B, C, D, or F. I had students evaluate different Works Cited pages and grade them before creating their own. By formalizing the evaluation process, I emphasized the importance of using credible sources.

    4. Require citations. Even when my students created a multimedia presentation such as a video or a slide presentation, I required my students to cite every source including any picture. Toward the end of the school year, all my students knew that they would not receive a passing grade without citations.

    In a society where the number of views on a YouTube video or retweets on a Twitter feed becomes the standards for one’s credibility, we must do better to inform our students of which sources they should trust.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.
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