Chicken with Honey-Lime Dressing with Killer Mashed Avocado

First, the dressing.  So delicious and all natural.  Ahhhh.

 

Honey-Lime Dressing

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped scallions

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine all ingredients and set aside.

Now, for the chicken.

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup toasted almond slices

1 garlic clove, minced

olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 4 half breasts

Honey-Lime Dressing

Rice Flour or Whole Wheat Flour

Directions: 

Pound into 1/2 inch thickness.  Place in plastic bag or large dish.  Pour half of dressing over chicken.  Place in fridge and let marinade for 30 minutes.  (I did 20 but it wasn’t enough.  It was okay, but not as tangy as for what I was hoping.)

Toast sliced almonds in skillet on stove top.  Set almonds aside in bowl.  Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and cook bell pepper about six minutes on medium.  Add one clove minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add peppers and garlic to almonds.  (Move on to Mashed Avocado below.)

After 30 minutes, pat chicken dry and dredge in flour.  Rice flour will make it crispier, but watch that it doesn’t burn.  (Also, no gluten in rice flour.  Whatver.)

More olive oil in skillet.  Cook chicken over medium heat for six minutes on each side.  Remove from skillet and plate spreading almond mixture on top of chicken.  Pour leftover dressing on chicken.  Done and done. . .  except for

MASHED AVOCADO (This can be done while chicken is marinating.

2 ripe avocados (or 3 if you’re an avocado freak like moi)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon picante sauce

2 tablespoons Honey-Lime Dressing

Mash the avocado and mix in lemon juice, picante sauce and Honey-Lime Dressing.  Take a bite, but don’t eat it all before the chicken is done.  But you’ll probably want to.  Cover and store in fridge until time to plate up chicken.  Then serve on the side.

 

 

 

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The Top Ten Things That Were Inspired Me from EME5050

Week after week, the reality of how the Internet is shaping our educational culture was abundantly clear. It does not matter if your approach is systemic or holistic, you can successfully search for the materials and tools you need to help your students take ownership of their learning experience. Below are the top ten things that convinced me of this:

1. Be proactive about seeking out new and interesting information—Participate in microblogs, bulletin boards and community bookmarking. By finding short descriptive collections of resources, you will find so much out there to support you in specific curriculum areas and in educational technology in general. Learning to pinpoint what you need is a great life skill. You may find additional information that is both interesting and potentially relevant.

2. Create a folder for interesting and potentially relevant websites and tools and bookmark them. That way you can save them for a later day to review, explore and possibly expand your horizons. What you find useful can be saved to another bookmark that is specific to the category. If you haven’t reviewed the websites in the interesting and potentially relevant folder within a set period of time (once a week or every two weeks), then clear the folder. You will always find something to put in later.

3. Upload, upload, upload—build that Web presence—Consider the example of Creative Commons. The philosophy of sharing information while retaining your right to be recognized builds the available knowledge pool. It also identifies you as a source of quality information and helps you develop a following. For that matter, consider the encouragement when your Slideshare or Prezzi are used by other teachers because they are exactly what a lesson plan needs to keep students engaged and motivated.

4. Respond when you find good information – If there is a chance to recognize and encourage other members of the educational technology for quality in their contributions, do it. It helps them to hold themselves to the same standard with all their input.

5. Blog – don’t worry about who is reading it – You need to be a model of reflective writing. Keep it genuine and authentic. The more you write, the more your skills will improve. Besides, you never know who is reading. As an example, I accessed an old blog I started a couple of years back because it seemed like the cool thing to do at the time. I only had three entries, but one had a response by someone who thought my entry on the daily trials of a Storm Trooper whining about training was very funny.

6. Join professional organizations and communities – especially while you can take advantage of student rates—Join ISTE. Join CSTA. Join ISPI. You can network both through the Internet and through face-to-face opportunities. They are dedicated communities actively engaged in the same areas of education that interest you. They will also encourage you to participate on a bigger stage such as influencing legislation and educational policy.

7. Read other blogs and critique them—Blogs have an incredible amount of information. They also serve as models, both good and bad. Assessment isn’t just for the classroom. Assess the blogs your read for quality of content.
8. Keep it project-based with an accurate rubric of expectations – Rubrics can help keep you focused in addition to helping give students guidelines and benchmarks for which to shoot.

9. Don’t let the turkeys get you down – Not everyone is excited about adding technology into the classroom. Not everyone will like what you propose and may not give you the best support; so what? There is an entire community online and in those professional organizations and in your classes who will keep your tank filled with positive reinforcement.

10. EdTech Yoga – be flexible – you will not get to do everything you want. Technology may be compatible at home and not at school. Firewalls may inhibit Web tools. The Internet goes down or servers just act like they are possessed. Just prepare your backup ahead of time and be ready when you get a green light.

If you are excited about what you can do with all this, get even more excited. Choose to participate in the evolution of technology. Publish what you find. Be willing to blaze new trails and leave a path for those fortunate enough to be in your wake. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Confessions of a Digital Hoarder

In my first educational technology class, everyone was required to provide the class with the links to their favorite educational Website resources. That was 80 students providing at least one Website per week for 14 weeks. If everyone did their job, then the class had a minimum list of 1,020 Websites to add to their resource files. If those other students are like me, then the goal is to find something scholarly, engaging and meaningful to contribute to that huge list. The question is a matter of obligation. If my focus is educational technology, then how many of these am I going to research to find out the best resources for teaching practices and to support my students? Unfortunately, I will bookmark most of them in case I lose access to the list. They will each fall into a series of files with appropriate tags, but I will not take the time to delete the majority of them. I am a digital hoarder.

Every time I open up my Web browser, it is not unusual to wind up with no less than eight to 10 tabs open at any given time. Maybe I’m researching educational technology on Pinterest or looking up educational resources on StumbleUpon. As long as I use “education” as a filter, this is a productive activity and not merely attention diverting exercises. I click on a “pin” or a “board” or a “suggestion” and boom, another tab opens up with more suggestions to bookmark. Do I recommend this on Facebook or Twitter about the new find? Better open up a new tab to keep my friends and follower up-to-date as well. I am a digital hoarder.

Then it is on to check my emails. I have seven personal email accounts. One was foisted upon me by my cable company, but the rest are loaded with personal emails and an enormous amount of commercial emails from favorite restaurants, stores, businesses, and various other Web resource sites I have registered on so they can make suggestions for me. Here is where my digital hoarding has some amount of control. I can filter the emails by senders and delete entire blocks at one time. It keeps my total personal emails down to a few hundred. My work email has thousands of emails, both read and unread. I usually try to keep it fewer than 2,000, but it gets up to three and four thousand when I take a little time away from it.

Perhaps the answer to digital hoarding is the necessary awareness of time management. As sites like Diigo have shown us, tagging, filing and filtering are useful; however, the big question to ask with each click is “What is truly necessary?” If the Website cannot be used in a lesson plan within a self-designated period of time (week, unit, semester, year), then I need click away from the site. If it is useful, then I copy and paste the URL directly into the lesson plan immediately in addition to bookmarking it.

As for sites like Diigo, Twitter, Pinterest, and Stumbleupon, the strategy may come down to two questions: 1. Why is this engaging? And 2. How much time do I have to review this? With the former question, the separation needs to be made between engagement and entertainment. It helps to recognize which ideas for me personally will produce genuine follow-through. As an example, I can look at the result for art hash tags for extended periods of time. I could also be using part of that time to create art on my own.

On the second question, it is easy to recognize we all have time limits; however, a great deal that can be found on the Web can support not only curriculum, but professional development as well. Is it worth scheduling my time to look at this blog or that resource, this classroom management strategy or that scholarly article on best practices? The decision to commit that time adds value to that bookmark.

So, while I may start organizing all those bookmarks through taking and filtering and filing, I have to wonder if this is acknowledged by the attention economy magnates out there. If I delete a bookmark, does Google record this in their algorithms to say “don’t send her any more information about this.” However, even if they did or didn’t acknowledge and record this action, they will continue to fill any voids with enough potentially engaging sites that could continue to move my finger in the direction of tag and bookmark. The power that a recovering digital hoarder has is to focus on what best practices serve and digital choices will truly support a clean, organized digital storage area. It’s time to filter, review briefly, and clean up the information warehouse.

The Digital Native Fire Circle

What do you do with 40 fifth graders who have had a very successful year doing extraordinary things including teaching YOU a few things about HTML? When you are the technology/drama teacher at a private academy, you have the privilege of giving them an opportunity to both reflect and shine. With access to the Adobe Master Collection, these students will begin using their time in computer technology class to create Websites with Adobe Dreamweaver to share what they have learned and the memories they have built as a class/grade level. This is a natural evolution in the progression of cultural storytelling for the young people of today to impart their history through the means of communication with which they are most familiar.
Imagine how peoples of the past would end their days sitting in a circle with their faces lit by the glow of firelight recounting experiences and mythologies with their communities. Now, those faces are lit by the glow of LED screens as students share events of the moment on social media. Students will have the opportunity to select their own templates to tell their stories. Within the sites, students must include narrative text which can be edited for appearance. They will include images from events in which they participated that have been supplied by their parents. They will also have access to videos created with our school Flip cameras that include moments such as rehearsals for their school play, their participation in a flash mob, and time sitting around and being themselves.
Opportunity is the key word here. Most of these students who have come from environments more privileged than many people in the world have had the advantage of working with technology that many students don’t have access to until they are older. However, the challenge for the educator is to assess for the quality of the product these students will create. Dreamweaver could easily become a playground for these digital natives. I have said it before . . . they are fearless in the process of learning new technology. The objective, therefore, is to reinforce digital citizenship in the form of thoughtful, scholarly work that does not rely exclusively on LOL, OMG, and TTYL.
Their assignment will require three pages to represent three perspectives of their lives: personal interest (enrichments), social interaction, and specifically educational. For personal interests, they may include information on any of their school enrichments ranging from fine arts to P.E. While I teach two areas of enrichment for these students (drama and computer technology) they are not required to include these unless they so desire. Social interaction will include events within and outside of the classroom in which they were not engaged with instruction or supervised (although not necessarily teacher-led) learning. This might include a field trip, in-class party, or school get-together. Finally, they will need to reflect on what they found most important that they had learned in their core-classroom environment. Students will submit finished Webpages for structured constructive peer review and for final approval by me. When Webpages have been finalized into a Website, it will be uploaded to our secure school network for peer and parents to view.
Five years ago I dreamed of teaching fifth graders HTML and now they are moving to creating their own Websites with purpose. Next year, fourth graders will be creating videos based on research on the early Native Floridians to be used as resources for future classes. The fire circle began out of the communal need to share who we are and what we have learned. It continues as the youngest members of that circle invite us to share their digital world and give us the privilege of pointing them in the direction of its profound potential.

ATTENTION! ATTENTION! GOOGLE WANTS YOUR ATTENTION!

CC Image courtesy of Giorgio Montersino on Flickr (2005)

Right now I am researching something on the Internet.  With my every click of the Web, a record is being made through an algorithm that will process the data and hopefully will help direct me toward the information for which I am looking.  We’ve seen it on sites like Google and Amazon. As soon as I open up Amazon, highly-relatable suggestions sit somewhere on the screen hoping to entice a glance. They suggest books on education, books on quilting, books on theatre, and videos I might find entertaining.  The same algorithms also help search engines provide intuitive suggestions when I begin typing in a word or a phrase.  Welcome to the implicit Web.  (Iskold, The Implicit Web: Last.fm, Amazon, Google, Attention Trust, 2007)  With programming that allows our choices of where we visit and what we look up to be collected for the benefit of retailers and advertisers, those on the receiving end of our information are fighting for the biggest commodity in the Information Age:  our attention.

In a recent article, Richard A. Lanham, the author of The Economics of Attention, stated: “The (scarce) resource is the human attention needed to make sense of the enormous flow of information, to learn, as it were, how to drink out of the fire hose.”  (University of Chicago Press, 2006)  The article is an interview with Mr. Lanham in which he explains his interpretations of successfully managing human attention bombarded with a glut of information, and where he addresses specific issues within certain chapters in his book.   While excerpts of his book are available through Amazon and the University of Chicago Press Websites, it is not available in electronic format.  Apparently he is seeking our attention through other means.

As an educator, it is interesting to learn that problems I struggle with are not unlike those experienced by major news organizations as well as corporations like Netflix.  “Consider this scenario. You navigate to a news site and start reading the headlines. What is the likelihood that you leave if you see an irrelevant headline? High.  Another example. You go to Netflix and look at movie recommendations. What is the likelihood that you will stop browsing after Netflix shows you a movie you do not like? Again, very high.”  (Iskold, 2007)  With instant access to so much information, viewers have the advantage of taking their attention elsewhere if they unable to find immediate relevance to the information on the Webpage.  The advantage that Netflix and the news organizations have over us educators is their instant ability to collect data on their users to try to redirect them to what they will find relevant in the future.  The advantage that I, as an educator, have over the commercial enterprises is my extended interaction with students that may allow me to impress upon students the need to reflect upon what is relevant and what opportunities they may be missing.  Helping students examine what the bigger questions are when searching the Internet is a powerful tool.

The attention economy as applied in our elementary level classrooms typically focuses in the area of interactivity.  We have been using the sites for the San Diego Zoo  for kindergarteners and first graders and the nutrition information site Choose My Plate as well as NASA   for third and fourth graders to work with research.  In each case, students were given a predetermined amount of free time to explore the sites without prior direction.  The students were extremely excited when bringing up the sites; however, in each case, students immediately gravitated towards games. When “free time” on the sites was over, students were redirected to other areas of the sites to continue “exploring.”  Kindergarten and first grade were excited to see videos of animals in their habitats and to share specific information they observed about the animals.  They categorized the animals and wrote brief reflections on what they saw.  Third and fourth graders began looking at different animation and live action videos of scientific research in space and information on spacecraft.  With the nutrition site, they used spreadsheets to categorize food and basic nutrition components in food.  While the NASA site was stimulating to watch, the students recorded more personal reflections on the Choose My Plate Website by their own choice..

When the students returned to the classroom and were given the same five minutes of “free time” before continuing research and reflection, only 20 per cent of the total students returned to the games.  The other students either returned to the more informational areas or began searching in new areas altogether to see what else they could learn.  While their attention might have easily been drawn back to the games, they were finding relevance in higher-order activities and did not shift their attention away.

Alex Iskold presents the following “basic consumer’s rights” in relation to the attention economy:

  • Property: You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish. You have CONTROL.
  • Mobility: You can securely move your attention wherever you want, whenever you want to. You have the ability to TRANSFER your attention.
  • Economy: You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return. Your attention has WORTH.
  • Transparency: You can see exactly how your attention is being used. (Iskold, 2007)

What powerful concepts to teach our students as they become more and more independent in their use of the Internet and technology in general.  If students can learn not to sell their attention short of its true value, then they will be empowered to demand a quality return on the investment of their attention.  A student will find attention’s worth by maintaining self-contol of it and demand accountability or shift it to where he or she will find the results he or she desires.  The Internet is already paying attention to them and will already be prepared to respond.

Works Cited

Iskold, A. (2007, March 1). The Attention Economy: An Overview. Retrieved March 1, 2012, from ReadWriteWeb: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/attention_economy_overview.php

Iskold, A. (2007, June 12). The Implicit Web: Last.fm, Amazon, Google, Attention Trust. Retrieved March 2, 2012, from ReadWriteWeb: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_implicit_web_lastfm_amazon_google.php

University of Chicago Press. (2006). An Interview with Richard A. Lanham. Retrieved March 1, 2012, from University of Chicago Press: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468828in.html

Get’r Done . . . One Reason for Plagiarism

In a recent professional development seminar, Language Arts instructor Troy Urquhart, the speaker,  presented his challenge of educating his largely Chinese boarding student population about plagiarism when their native culture does not recognize rights to intellectual property.  While he struggles to overcome language barriers for these high school students, he struggles even more with convincing them that being able to construct their own original work is much more valuable than merely copying and pasting information from electronic sources.  According to materials we read this week in the graduate course EME5050, this is one of the problems at the heart of plagiarism.

Lisa Renard, in her article Cut and Paste 101: Plagiarism and the Net, says a “student who has decided to plagiarize rather than write his or her own paper has learned . . . that the final product takes precedence over learning something from the process of writing.”  (Renard, 1999)  Urquhart has the same problem.  His students provide far superior writing in their independent research assignments than on their in-class assignments because their work was created by someone else on the web.  In the students’ eyes, they have provided the requirements of the course:  a well-written paper on the subject of choice.  In Mr. Urquhart’s eyes, he has resolved to teach these students how to cite sources to prevent them from going before the school’s Honors Council on charges that could potentially get them expelled and deported.  His philosophy stems from the students’ goals to attend an institution of higher education in the United States.  Regardless of their culture’s perspective, teach them the absolute necessity of citation before they head to colleges and universities that will take a much dimmer view of such infractions.

One of the participants in the seminar, fourth grade teacher Steve Hand, raised his hand with another perspective.  He regularly has open-book tests for his students as part of the school’s curriculum.  Some of the tests require students to summarize or paraphrase in their own words to demonstrate mastery of material for different subject areas.  From his position, this would be an excellent opportunity to teach those students to learn about citation.   Per Robert Harris, “Citing a source, whether paraphrased or quoted, reveals that (students) have performed research work and synthesized the findings into their own argument.” (Harris, 2011) As a result, his fourth grade now has creating citations as part of their curriculum in their technology course at school.

By incorporating this into the technology curriculum, Hand has one more advantage that many teachers lack.  He and his technology teacher now provide “writing workshop” time during computer class.  His students create written documents that can act as a record of the students’ growth as writers as well as samples of their individual writer’s voice.  It shows a progression of vocabulary, fluency and comprehension starting from a relatively young age.  Should the students stay with this particular school, the records will support their academic progression and demonstrate the level of ownership these students take of their own learning potentially through their senior year.

Urquhart is not quite so fortunate.  His students typically begin this process in high school.  Still, he is determined to provide them with every tool to be successful in their educational goals.  Both of Hand and Urquhart have agreed that the best approach is a positive one to build writing skills, not attack plagiarism.  As a result, their students will learn the Internet offers valuable learning and research opportunities and not easy answer end products.

Troy Urquhart and Steve Hand are teachers at Montverde Academy.

 

Bibliography

Harris, R. (2011, April 26). Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers. Retrieved February 9, 2012, from Virtual Salt: http://www.virtualsalt.com/antiplag.htm

Renard, L. (1999). Cut and Paste 101: Plagiarism and the Net. Educational Leadership, 38-42.

Context is the Thing

 The more I read about the purpose and function of the Internet, the more I realize how much context comes into play.  With technological educational tools becoming accessible on an international level, the question is not just how effective are those tools, but who are the stakeholders who will find those tools most effective. 

Imagine being a high school student living in a country where your educational options are extremely limited.  You cannot choose what you will study unless your family has the appropriate political connections and social status.  Your family is connected, but not THAT connected.  Now imagine that you have an opportunity to study in a country with far fewer educational restrictions.  This country is on the other side of the planet and to live there just to study high-school-level courses will cost you $35,000.00 per year if you choose a mid-ranged-priced school.  To do this you will need to seek financial support not only from your parents, but from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, both close and distant.  You will not be eligible for tuition assistance, scholarships, or financial aid.  However, you will be able to continue through to earning a college/university degree.  This will afford you a prestigious career in your native country which you will be expected to pursue in service to those who helped you by helping other family members.

Welcome to the new educational relationship many Asian countries are forging with private boarding schools in the United States.  These students arrive with a profound sense of responsibility and of obligation that drives them to be extremely dedicated to their studies.  This dedication supersedes homesickness and the challenge of assimilating into a new culture.  They are here to earn their place in North American universities and to take their knowledge and skills back to China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam to name just a few major players in this scenario.

While educators in the United States are striving to keep learners engaged and focused, their global peers are being told by dorm parents to turn out the lights at one and two a.m. after hours of study.  These international students do not struggle with a sense of relevance, but see every minute of learning as an opportunity to build towards their future.  In some more restrictive boarding schools, this is done with minimal access to technology – limited Internet access on laptops during study hours and only one permissible electronic device:  the ever-present translator.  Such is the case in both Orange and Lake Counties where the boarding population is largely Chinese.

Still, technology is a large part of these students’ lives.  Communication with families back in Asia is primarily through email with an increasing amount of Skype occurring. Students call and text each other to complain about tough teachers and awful American food and the deep thrill of romance or a great shopping excursion.  Entertainment during the weekend is traditionally downloaded movies and TV shows in their native language.  Also, there is international gaming going on at fiercely competitive levels.  In the meantime, most achieve a score of 4 or 5 on AP coursework and focus on STEM coursework to build their academic resume. Some of this coursework requires new technology for data collection and processing, but the students bring engagement with them.

As a technology educator, the biggest struggle I have is seeing how hard some students are willing to work to give their community, culture and country a strong global presence while students from my own country appear dedicated more to getting the latest iPhone to post their latest status on Facebook.  Obviously this is not true in every scenario.  Some local students are hard workers and they are not the only ones carrying those iPhones around.  However, even in the best of economic conditions, our culture would be hard-pressed to find large family groups joining financial resources to send one talented family member to private school a world away because of potential future family benefit.

If our students are to find relevance in education, they need to first understand that they are the stakeholders in a much bigger picture than just in their own lives.  There are people from around the world who are studying and building skills equal to if not greater than our own students.  What’s more, if those students are studying in the United States, they will have a cultural context that will give them marketing advantages should they wish to solicit services in this country.  The sooner our students own these stakes, the sooner their education will take bigger relevance and they can build the foundation for a more solid, more relevant global presence for this nation.