education

Mini-Essay Contest Winner #1

As you’ll know if you’ve been following me for a while, lovely lurkers, each time I teach Comp I (which is often), I host a Mini-Essay contest, with the students’ first assignments. The students vote on the top essays in the class and the winner gets posted here. Below is Ian’s winning essay, from the 10:30am class at FRCC. Congrats!


Ian A. McGregor
How Technology Has Become A Detriment To Education

As if there weren’t already numerous environmental factors such as puberty and general rebelliousness affecting the already shortening attention spans of our youth, now it seems that at least 78% of our youth age 12 to 17 own a cell phone (Adams). Not only are these incredibly resourceful handheld google machines contributing to their lack of face to face social interaction, but they are also becoming a detriment to their health and ability to learn. In this essay I plan on discussing the pros and cons of technology as an educational resource.

Cell phones are an obvious distraction in the classroom in many facets such as actual texting during lectures, anticipation of an “important text from that cute girl in 3rd period,” and simply
exploring social media. There are a few less commonly known, more sinister factors that contribute to the growing decay of students attention spans. One study showed loss of total sleep could be as much as 46 minutes nightly due to use of cell phones after sleep onset (Adams). 46 minutes may sound insignificant, but this adds up to 16,790 minutes of sleep lost annually, or in other words 279 hours, or 11.66 whole days of sleep lost. According to the CDC, “the average adolescent requires 8.5–9.25 hours of sleep per night…” (Adams). Interestingly enough, the average complete sleep cycle for adolescents and adults is about 90-120 minutes (Scammell). If 46 minutes are lost nightly due to cell phones, this cause them to wake up mid sleep cycle, as opposed to naturally waking up when their last sleep cycle has completed. This has been shown to cause the individual to feel groggy, and out of focus throughout the day, especially when it is a recurring occurrence. This can have a significant impact on the attention span of any human, but especially in children. Sleep is extremely important for many reasons, such as the storage of information in long term memory, ability to focus in class, and their hormonal development. Children who sleep less tend to be more irritable, less attentive, and less likely to contribute in the classroom.

Another study showed that the sound of a cell phone chiming could trigger a response similar to that of a mother awakening to the sound of her child crying in the middle of the night, describing it as “hyper-vigilant”(Adams). I personally experienced this while I was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, where I was expected to answer my cell phone at a moment’s notice, while being expected to be ready to deploy at a moments notice, literally. If I did not answer the call during specific drills I could have been subject to losing my job, and pay and I can assure you, this affected my sleep quality significantly. This affected my ability to concentrate on simple tasks such as driving, socializing, and most importantly my memory. On multiple occasions I can recall driving home after being awake for twenty four to forty eight hours, and barely making it home safely simply because I could not focus on driving.

Though cell phones, or technology in general could have the potential to detract from modern education, it appears they may also have their place in aiding educators, but only when strict rules are enforced, and discipline is intrinsic. The ability to have unlimited access to information via a device that fits in your pocket should need no explanation as to its significance. While arguing with a professor in class a student could access supporting evidence in seconds. Some may argue that this can detract from education because the student becomes reliant on the technology as opposed to their memory, however I can see it as a valuable resource.

Technology in the form of virtual reality could some day cut costs in many fields of study, but especially medical fields. Imagine being able to access a fully digital, 3 dimensional cadaver as medical student who aspires to be a surgeon. This could prove to be an invaluable study tool, and I can certainly foresee its eventual use. By simply taking notes via a laptop or cell phone in class, students can also reduce the amount of paper wasted significantly, which would obviously have a positive impact on our environment as well as their bank accounts.

Cell phones are quickly becoming a detriment to students’ health, education, and overall social skills. With sound discipline not only in the classroom, but in the home as well, one of my generation’s greatest liabilities could become a tool to further our ability to educate, and reduce our impact on the environment. There are many benefits to using technology as an educational resource, but are they worth the costs?

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Works Cited
Adams, Sue; Daly, Jennifer; Williford, Desireé.

“Adolescent Sleep and Cellular Phone Use: Recent
Trends and Implications for Research.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Sage
Publishing, October 3rd 2013, 4
th,6th and 7th par.,
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4089837/. Accessed 18 June 2017.

Scammell. Thomas. “Natural Patterns of Sleep”. Healthy Sleep at Harvard Medicine. Division of
Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, December 18th, 2007, 9th par.,
healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem. Accessed 18 June
2017.

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Not that I’m on a break now or anything…

…but the peeps that are finished with their semesters, I have finished as well. Finally. As I said, lots and lots and lots (and lots) of research papers. I just might (might, mind you) have a half a handle on the new 8th edition of MLA format at this point. Might.

18582290_10155432990898028_6479972419694655595_nWhat else is on my plate? Well, I presented at the Teaching and Learning With Technology conference over at Front Range yesterday, which was pretty fun. Had a good, inquisitive audience that had more questions afterwards and cornered me at other sessions and stuff too. It was called “Video Killed the Paper Star” and covered a few innovative ways that assigning videos to students in lieu of papers can be a fruitful endeavor. I may do a little mini-article about it here, so stay tuned. Anyway, got to share a bunch of those grammar videos you’ve seen here, and some old reading responses in video form, especially Nate’s old ones from Advanced Stage Combat back in the day. His were so creative and thoughtful and it made me miss all you Stage Combat Club guys: Nate and Scott and Nick and Chris, Paul, and Geri, and the others that came in and out…(sniff)…

I also went to the opera recently with The S.O. and I was amused to find that I knew exactly where all those swords were from, and mused that they all needed a little coaching as far as handling them went (fight scenes though there were none). I also was shocked at the rust that has somehow coated my Schmooze Nozzle, which I guess goes to show that if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’m polishing my charisma these days. If you run into me, force me to give you an  elevator pitch or something, would ya? Help me get back in shape.

Writing wise, I’m still doing stuff for YourBoulder.com, mainly their weekend round up thingies. It’s a fun gig, and a paid one, so I’m happy about that. The other blog I’m writing with The S.O. is also a very fulfilling project–it’s a style of personal writing I’m not super familiar with, but the pieces there are really, really good. It’s nice to have a quasi-journalling habit again, and him being such a good writer himself, it’s also nice to have a high bar to have to live up to. Write up to. You know what I mean…

Now I do have one breath before the new wave of stuff begins. During that deep breath, I will still be working closely with DU folks on their Capstones, and also working with a new batch of Regis peeps too: Children’s Lit, Editing Fiction, and Editing Non-Fiction is on my platter there.

After I take the breath, it’ll be time for summer at FRCC (two Comp 1 courses) and at Boulder_FringeMetro (an online Staging Cultures class). It’ll also be time for the first summer theatrical gigs to begin: early June I’ll be dancing with Boulder Burlesque, mid-June I may be dancing with Bronze Fox Burlesque, and late June is Denver Comic Con, where I will be presenting The Fight is the Story again, but I’ll keep you up on those things when we get closer to time. After that, I’ve got stage combat at the LDT and burlesque at the Fringe Fest to look forward to, amidst who knows indeed what else will pop up.

So there you go: the update on the workload. Now back to it.

I’m Such a Bad Blogger You Guys

…seriously though, it’s because of my busy life! Wanna hear what I’ve been up to, instead of blogging here?

Well I have been contributing to another blog, under a pen name, with my significant other. Some really great personal memoir type essays, and it’s writing I’m proud of. Not going to share it here publicly, but if you know me well personally, ask me and I’ll give you the link to that.

The FRCC comp 1 students have just handed in their research papers, and the Comp 2 students have just finished their rough drafts of theirs. Topics for these include: Farming, steroid abuse, censorship in music, arts in the schools, the innovation of the electric guitar, police discretion, free speech on college campuses, trans rights and health, immigration, damage of video games and social media on youth, and the cruelty of zoos. Lots of important things, my students are writing about.

My Regis Capstone student is sending me big chunks of her high-Fantasy novel, set in a world where the sun is destructive and there’s all kinds of well written political intrigue and a telepathic power that certain people possess, and really cool ninja-like warriors, and. It’s a good piece, and I can’t wait till it’s published and I can share it with you. I also have seven Capstone students in DU’s seminar course who are entering proposals and getting their big projects nearly to the midterm point. Some really interesting projects there, too.

But. You can see why I haven’t had much time to write here, lovely lurkers.

In performance news, I have performed burlesque for Bronze Fox just this Wednesday, and will be appearing onstage for Boulder Burlesque’s upcoming Spring Fling Kink party. I’m having a heckuva lot of fun doing this particular movement hobby, and if you’re interested in keeping up with that stuff, follow Valkyrie Rose on Facebook.

I’ll write to you again on the other side of grading. When will that be? Who knows…

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The group curtain call at Wednesday’s Nearly 4/20 Bronze Fox Burlesque show. A stellar group.

Brecht and Storytelling, Part 2

Brecht and Storytelling

Written by Jenn Zuko for Senior Seminar, BFA Acting program @UCB, 1995.


Part 2

THE NARRATOR.

Let us consider this for a moment. In my last paper on this subject, I found no distinguishable difference between Brechtian acting and storytelling as a practice. What, then, is the one characteristic most obviously distinct between the two? There is only one performer in storytelling.

This may seem simple, but it makes all the difference. In Brecht, the presence of the narrator is in the set, in the form of commenting projections or bright lighting; or in the text itself: the inclusion of songs, or having the characters drawn in a more stylized than realistic way; or in the acting, with actors broadening their style, or breaking the fourth wall. Yet, as much as all these things are meant to emotionally alienate an audience, when someone sees a character in front of them, not on the page but in the flesh, a separate person from other characters, they will see them as that character, and even empathize automatically. And, since the narrator is not a character in itself but in all the characters or their environment, this device for distancing does not work as well because it is not as obvious as having an actual narrator character interrupting or adding the commentary. No matter how much style and set may try to reach only an audience’s intellect, audiences will attempt to suspend their disbelief anyway and have an emotional reaction, and and then wonder why the character was so unreal. Audiences now are conditioned to the realistic theatre; they are used to empathizing with the characters in front of them, who, no matter how intellectually they try to present themselves, are still real people onstage.

The narrator in storytelling, however, is an actual character. Not only that, but it is

Cooper

Friend Cooper, of local storytelling company Stories With Spirit, doing what he does best.

the only character. There is only one actor for all the characters in storytelling, not one for each. And, no matter how good the teller is at character voices or physical work, that one teller is all the audience sees. Certainly a professional, polished teller can do very well at making each character she portrays different from each other and the voice of the speaker in ways that are stunning, and with a little imagination, an audience member can feel as though he were transported to the realm of the story. But, between each snatch of dialogue comes the voice of the narrator, describing scenarios and commenting on the action (often inviting the audience to comment too, not only in their minds as Brecht wanted, but actually out loud in the form of audience participation). That is, the one character of the narrator, or storyteller, presides over all the action and dialogue, and no matter how engaging the teller, there is never anyone else but the narrator on stage. Having one person doing the entire set, movement, and acting for every character and scene makes it impossible for an audience member to suspend his disbelief and think the characters real. The narrator is physically there and omnipotent in storytelling, so an audience can distance itself from the plight of the characters with more ease, and can more readily comment on the story as a whole instead. Also, as an acting practice, the characters in storytelling are (hopefully) believable, but brief, and interspersed with narrative which is non-matrixed. So the storyteller uses swifter means for getting at her character than an actor would: she uses body and voice work mostly, working from the outside in, not the inside out as in Stanislavsky’s method.
That, in a paragraph, is what storytelling is about. But suppose we help Brecht and discover why his alienation fails while the techniques of a librarian bring large, loud audiences to hear stories every week.


Stay tuned here for Part Three.

(Image credit / complete Works Cited will appear at the end of the final installment)

Mini-Essay Guest Post #2: Clayton Peppler

This, being the second of 3 Mini-Essay winners from FRCC’s Comp I courses that I teach. Another essay on technology in education, this time by 1pm’s Clayton Peppler. Please to enjoy.   ~Jenn

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Too Much Technology?

by Clayton Peppler

American society puts an emphasis on the use of technology in everyday life, making it inevitable for children to be subject to the technology around them. Even though children are going to be exposed to technology in most environments, I do not think that school should be one of those places. Not only does technology pose a danger to a child’s education, but recently technology has been linked to the underdevelopment of social skills in children.

The Internet is a dangerous place for the curious mind of a child. With social media and online resources so easily accessible, education is at serious risk. According to a study done by Cengage Learning, “59% [of students were] busy checking out their favorite social-media sites” (Strang) instead of participating and engaging in classroom activity. If the child’s mind is being occupied by social media, how is that child going to retain what the teacher is teaching?

Most children are not going to have the self restraint to avoid scrolling through their Facebook or Twitter feed when the opportunity arises. This is not the fault of the child as they are too immature to fully realize the negative repercussions that looking at social media can have on their grades and future endeavors. Now, there are different ways to counteract the use of social media, such as internet safeguards and teacher monitoring, but these are only so effective. The Internet safeguards are able to block websites but often have loopholes that allow access to these pages. If teachers have to monitor these computers day in and day out, there is not going to be any time to teach as they are going to spend all their time monitoring.  The same study found that “60% [of the students] claimed that texting is a major cause for distraction” (Strang). No longer is text messaging limited to cell phones but has expanded to Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, all easily accessible from the Internet. Texting allows students to communicate no matter where they are or what they are doing. For example, one student could be taking an online test while another student is taking that same test across the room, but the entire time they could be messaging back and forth sharing answers and discussing problems. This does not allow the teacher to know what student one or two is understanding individually, rather she is getting what student one and two are understanding collectively. In order for the teacher to do her job, she needs to know what each student knows individually that way she can help them with their individual needs.

06a69719d007f1ebd1b2b5e183fb8694According to a different study done by the Pew Internet Project, they found something they deemed as the “’Wikipedia problem,’ in which students have grown so accustomed to getting quick answers with a few keystrokes that they are more likely to give up when an easy answer eludes them. The Pew research found that 76 percent of teachers believed students had been conditioned by the Internet to find quick answers” (Richtel). Students are no longer thinking for themselves, as Wikipedia has everything that they need. While Wikipedia is a very effective tool, it can often be misused. Students are going to be tempted to type in a question and get an answer because that requires no brain power, they can get an answer in five seconds instead of the five minutes it would take them to figure it out for themselves. They are not going through the process to finding the answer, which means that they are not learning anything. Wikipedia may give them the answers, but it will not give them the experience and explanation to understand what they are answering. Education is being substituted for key strokes and quick answers.

While technology poses a danger to a child’s education, it also has irreversible effects on that child’s social development. According to pediatric nurse Denise Daniels, “technology can completely rewrite a child’s brain pathways in a very different way than how they would normally develop… their neural pathways change and different ones are created. It affects concentration, self-esteem, in many cases they don’t have as deeply personal relationships… they lose empathy” (Johnson). Through extended screen time, children are not getting the social interactions that they need to survive. As the children grow up, they are going to struggle with the relationships that they have in their lives because they don’t know how to react or behave to other people. These children are not going to have any real hope for change either, as their neural pathways are literally altered beyond repair. Psychologist Jim Taylor also found that “voice inflection, body language, facial expression and the pheromones (released during face-to-face interaction): are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology” (Johnson). Society is trying to replace human emotion with emoticons. Behind the keyboard, one is able to be whatever emotion they want to be, one can send a happy emoji when in reality they are not happy. When one receives a text message or email, they are unable to pick up on the things that Taylor mentioned above, making it extremely difficult to pick up on these things in real face to face conversation; like a shift in body language or what a change in inflection is.  If you put computers into the classroom, student to student interaction is going to become more and more limited, even non-existent, making it hard for children to pick up on important social ques. As the children move into their adolescent years, again, they are going to struggle with their relationships. By learning to express their emotions with a smiley face or a sad face, that child may not be able to verbally or physically express their feelings. This could also result in these children not knowing how to comfort someone properly when they are experiencing emotion. For example, we all see those posts on Facebook saying R.I.P grandma, and people commenting back “I’m so sorry for your loss”. This is very easy to respond to with a couple key strokes, but not so easy to respond to when they are with that person who lost their grandma. Comforting people in their time of need is essential to healthy friendships and relationships, something that can only be learned through experience, something that these children are not getting from a computer.

In the third quarter of 2011, “Teens ages 13-17 used an average of 320 MB of data per month on their phones, increasing 256% over the last year” (Johnson). The Internet is becoming more and more accessible to teenagers, and teenagers are taking advantage of it. This study was done in 2011, and was only looking at one year’s time, so this number could be way more now that we are in 2015, four years after 2011. As the MB of data used increases, the face to face time decreases. This is something that schools cannot control, they cannot control cell phone use and technology use outside of the classroom, but they can control it inside the classroom. Instead of promoting technology, schools should be promoting face to face social interactions.

In the classroom, others would argue for the opposite, that technology is not only positive to a child but essential. According to securegenenetworks.com, “technology helps the teachers prepare students for the real world environment. As our nation becomes increasingly more technology-dependent, it becomes even more necessary that to be successful citizens, students must learn to be tech-savvy” (10 Reasons Today’s Students Need Technology). As technology advances, jobs geared towards technology are going to be created. Our future generations need to be up to date with the ever advancing technology, that way they can be ready to fulfill future jobs. It is important that our children are prepared for the future, but at what cost? Is our society willing to potentially hinder a child’s education or risk socially developmental retardations for technology? It is no doubt that children need to be tech-savvy, as a society fixated on technology, but it should be at a developmentally appropriate age. An age in which the child is able to make the decision to choose their education over social media, an age in which social skills will not be compromised for technology.

Moving forward technology will continue to be an institution in societal ideals. The facts are there; technology will continue to negatively impact children in multiple facets of development. By allowing technology in the classroom, our society is waging a war against social abnormalities and educational distractions and dishonesty. To counteract this very real problem, schools need to keep education and technology separate until a child is developmentally and educationally sound; otherwise the children’s education and development of social skills will be at risk.

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Works Cited

Johnson, Chandra. “Face Time vs. Screen Time: The Technological Impact             on Communication.”   Face Time vs. Screen Time: The Technological Impact on Communication. N.p., 27 Aug.           2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

Richtel, Matt. “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.

Strang, Tami. “Technology in the Classroom: A Distraction or an Asset?” The Cengage Learning   Blog. N.p., 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

“10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom.” 10 Reasons Today’s    Students NEED Technology in the Classroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 07       Sept. 2015.

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Mini-Essay Guest Post #1: Charles Sigwarth

You may recall from the Blog That Was, lovely lurkers, that each time I taught Composition I would assign the Mini-Essay, which is a very short research essay students write based on a list of topic choices. I then choose the top 3 Mini-Essays and let the class vote on which one is the winner. The winner gets to see their essay published here on Daily Cross-Swords. Welp, this semester I’m teaching 3 sections of Comp. So 3 batches of Mini-Essays were read, and 3 classrooms voted for winners from the top 3. Here is the first of….3 Mini-Essay winners from Comp I at FRCC. This one from the 2:30pm class; an essay on ed-tech by Charles Sigwarth. Please to enjoy.   ~Jenn

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Dude, Where’s my Prof?

by Charles Sigwarth

We’ve all heard the same hackneyed lines over and over: the Internet is the future, technology is what drives innovation today, and online correspondence is the new medium for human interaction. Yes, we do live in the digital era, and the technology available to educators and schools today presents a valuable set of opportunities for dynamic, interactive learning. That said, there’s a significant difference between utilizing technology to enhance the classroom experience, and using it as a crutch. Online and digital correspondences, when used as the primary form of communication between educators and their students, leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation, can slow the classroom dynamic, and instills a 7227476148_43ebe5a7c3_black of face to face teacher-student interaction that drives the growth process of learning forward.

Technology, when used correctly, can be a godsend in the classroom, but when used improperly can be a detriment. When faced with the daunting set of multiple websites, passwords, and interfaces it can slow the process of teaching for both students and professors alike. In fact, according to a recent report put out by CQ Press, studies showed that “At the college level… nearly 64 percent of public-university faculty who have taught both online and traditional courses said in a 2009 survey that it took ‘somewhat more’ or ‘a lot more’ effort to teach online than in person. Nearly 85 percent said it takes more effort to develop online courses than regular ones”(Clemitt). Students in classrooms rely directly on educators to facilitate the learning process, but when a computer is put between the two and used as a medium for discourse and instruction, the quality of the communication is then solely tied to the educator’s ability to type out their ideas and expressions. Like many people, college professors and teachers the world over have varying aptitudes for working with technology, at least in an academic sense, hinging interpretations on typos and mistyped direction. While we’re on that topic, the significance of face to face interaction between teachers and students is monumental. An educator who can see a student face-to-face, interact and bond with them on an interpersonal level, and motivate and direct them in person is able to recognize issues that a student is facing that may not be apparent from behind a screen.

Technology is only as good as the person utilizing it. Computers and internet services are fallable, and while humans are as well, tech-based classrooms can be confusing and lack the interaction that helps both the student and educator do their jobs respectively. Educators in public schools and universities throughout the country are continually being pressured to conform to the online and digital medium, but in the process of that a crucial element of learning in lost– the human element.

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Works Cited

Clemmitt, Marcia. “Digital Education.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press. Web. 10 Sept. 2015. <http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2011120200>.

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