Thursday, May 16, 2013

This time, it's really it!

Well, I got those three reviews written.  They're not my best work but they're interesting research nonetheless.  I guess this means that I am through with this blog.  I don't know, I might have to put something on it this summer.  (I'm still working on that.)  However, I have liked this idea so much that I am considering starting another blog about my subject, Health Science.  I don't know for sure what I'll call it, but I'll probably look for articles about health care subjects or cool methods for teaching high school students about them.  I may not be an expert on the matter but I'm constantly on the lookout for more information.

Review #10 (finally!)

From the Student’s View: Laptops In (and Outside) the Classroom

Citation:   Bruff, D. (n.d.). Retrieved from  Originally published in the Fall 2002 issue of Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching's newsletter, Teaching Forum.

Review:  The writer interviewed several students at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management and School of Engineering.  At the time this was written, the schools had a new requirement that each incoming student must purchase a laptop computer, and the schools had accordingly equipped buildings that housed these schools with wireless Internet access.  Students were asked how the technologies affected student/faculty interaction, ways that the technology facilitated in-class group work, how laptops assist with out-of-class group work, whether having a laptop helped the students use their time better, and in what ways laptops were helpful in classes that focused on software applications.

Reflection:  If this article were written today, I am sure some of these questions would have had different answers, but although today's Vanderbilt freshmen were starting 3rd grade in the fall of 2002, many of them have not had mandatory laptops in the classroom prior to entering college.  Certainly, some have gone to schools in systems (or individually) that were progressive enough to allow students to use laptops in class, but many have not.  With that in mind, some of these answers might not be all that different now than in 2002.  I chose this particular article because I was on Vanderbilt's Center for Teaching website looking for possible professional development opportunities for myself or potential summer programs for my students.  Although we are at the end of the school year, I like to use this more laid-back time to think about potential enhancements for next year.

I wasn't in college in 2002, so I don't know how many courses were offered completely online at that time, but I would venture to guess that the number was much, much lower than what it is now.  My daughter, currently in her third year at Lipscomb University, has even taken online classes there while living on campus!  Obviously, delivery methods are changing from year to year and it's impossible to know exactly how that will affect education in the future.  I am excited to see that this means a college education is within reach for a lot more people who, for any number of reasons, can not drop everything and enroll in a college many miles from home.  On the other hand, I wonder how many universities will suffer negative impact from this shift.  Will more people lose their jobs?  I hope not - we have enough of that as it is in this country.  Will young people continue to move into dorms and have the "college experience"?  I believe some will.  My own children had the opportunity to live at home and attend a community college or even APSU because we do not live that far from campus, but both have chosen to live on campus because my daughter did not want to "miss out" and I didn't want her on the road all the time, and my son chose a college a little too far away for a daily commute.  However, if I'd been given a full scholarship from the community college nearest my home, I wouldn't have gone to APSU and lived on campus nearly rent free because I didn't really WANT to leave home.  If we'd had the online option back then, that's what I would have done.

Another reason I wanted to read this article was because when I opened it, I saw questions to which I honestly wanted to read student answers.  For example, "In what ways do these technologies facilitate in-class group work?"  I believe what I read was one of the earliest examples of today's "hot new idea" of the flipped classroom.  The professor made his PowerPoint presentations available online, expected the students to read the lectures before class, and assigned the students to develop marketing plans in class.  I believe out-of-class group work is much easier to do now than it was eleven years ago, and they thought it was pretty nice back then!  

I have to say that even though this was the oldest (and probably the shortest!) article I have read for this class and blog, it was actually quite informative and insightful.  I will definitely check out the Center for Teaching's resources more often.  I have curated it on Delicious to have it wherever I want to access it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review #9

Barcoding Life's Matrix: Translating Biodiversity Genomics into High School Settings to Enhance Life Science Education

Citation: Santschi, L., Hanner, R., Ratnasingham, S., Riconscente, M., Imondi, R. (2013). Barcoding life's matrix: translating biodiversity genomics into high school settings to enhance life science education. PLoS Biol,11(1): e1001471. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001471

ReviewThe opening paragraph of the introduction to this study states that research suggests that most high school laboratory experiences do not meet guidelines for effective science instruction.  Because of the rapid growth of molecular life science and bioinformatics, this field holds an even bigger challenge than most areas of science.  This field is also so information-heavy that finding the correct level for student understanding is difficult.  Other challenges exist as well, such as integration of knowledge across allied scientific fields, emphasizing function over fact, modeling how the information works in real-world settings, and the more practical issues of teacher preparation, the current testing environment, overcrowded classrooms, lack of supplies and access to scientific literature.  The writers propose discovery-based science education as a possible solution to some of the existing challenges of secondary science education.  Their specific solution is the process of DNA barcoding.  This is a new system of eukaryotic species identification.  For those who aren't biology majors, a eukaryotic cell has a nucleus, chromosomes, and many other cell parts such as endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria.  Eukaryotes are commonly multicellular organisms such as animals and plants.  In contrast, a one-celled organism such as a bacterium has a prokaryotic cell, which commonly has no nucleus and only one chromosome, and that's not even really a true chromosomeProkaryotes can be multicellular, but most are not.

DNA barcoding uses barcode data to link data from traditional, taxonomic information about genes to DNA information obtained from the genes themselves.  The reference records are contained within BOLD, the Barcode of Life Data Systems, which is online and accessible to the public.  The project included a seven-day residential research institute held at a marine biology laboratory, where students had the opportunity to actually conduct research with real scientists.  Students who participated in this institute created a presentation about their experience, which they performed publicly at a visitor center.  Teachers were provided with professional development opportunities designed to give them the tools they needed to engage students in the submission of their own barcode data in their own labs.  Because it is so intensive, enrollment requires a 12-month commitment and support from an administrator.  

The curriculum was then condensed into 16 units covering a wide span of biological sciences.  Barcoding Life's Matrix has a website with teacher resources of multimedia instructional materials.  (Once a teacher has created an account, he or she can view most of the resources publicly.)  Students collect targeted marine specimens and process the tissue, record the data and collection details, and upload the data to the BOLD database.  The students can acquire data and record it in the field using a smartphone app, even using a barcode such as a QR code.  

The Barcoding Life's Matrix project has engaged over 1,000 high school students since its inception in 60 California cities and seven states.  These students have submitted 716 professional quality reference DNA barcode records, creating a valuable reference for the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary as well as adding to the Ocean Genome Resource of Ocean Genome Legacy in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  The researchres were pleased with these results, suggesting that this model could be replicated in secondary as well as post-secondary education.

Reflection:  After writing about a press release last time, I wanted to go a little more scientific with this review.  After all, my principal is always after us to increase the rigor in our lessons and the common core shift requires us to find more real-life connections for our students (which goes right along with the instructional design principles I've learned over the years), so, in preparation for next year when I'll be teaching anatomy again (Yay!  Seriously!!!  I'm actually excited!), I thought I'd challenge myself to find some information about ways to include really serious biotechnology into my high school classroom next year.  While this article didn't really sound like many of the instructional technology articles I've read in the past, it does involve student use of computers and mobile devices such as smartphones with apps for the project.

I had hoped when I started reading the article that this would be something I could start next year.  Since I have other plans during the two training sessions, I can't go this summer, but possibly in the future.  Still, I learned a lot reading this article (and I'm sure I would learn more every time I read it, because some of it is still over my head) and I hope I can utilize some of the lessons as they exist.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review #8

Physio-Control Introduces TrueCPR Coaching Device to Optimize Manual CPR Performance

Citation:  Physio-control introduces truecpr coaching device to optimize manual cpr performance. (2013, May 14). The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Review: This press release in The Wall Street Journal sings the praises of the newly developed TrueCPR coaching device.  TrueCPR is produced by Physio-Control, a biomedical company that specializes in heart rhythm devices such as pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.  The device was developed to help new CPR learners learn how to deliver high-quality compressions.  It is difficult for new learners to understand exactly how much pressure to exert on the victim's chest.  TrueCPR utilizes Triaxial Field Induction (TFI) technology to measure the depth of compressions, which ideally should be at least 2 inches.  TFI measures changes in a very low-energy 3D magnetic field.  This is obtained by placing a sensor on the "patient's" chest and a reference pad underneath.  As the learner performs compressions, the TFI continuously measures the
changes in distance between the two surfaces.  This same technology can actually be used in real-time with a real patient in cardiac arrest, so that a caregiver can see if he or she needs to push harder.  In addition to the depth calculation, learners/caregivers can see their rate of compressions (should be 100 a minute) and the device even has a metronome to help caregivers deliver compressions at the correct rate.

Reflection: I had already started reading and preparing this review when I realized this was a press release.  (I thought to myself, this is a darn commercial.)  However, as a CPR instructor not only in the school system but at the local hospital, I can definitely see a need for such a device.  In my classroom we have the flimsiest set of CPR manikins I've ever seen, and I have seen some real "cheap-o's" over the years.  They're made of thin plastic about the weight of a wet wipes container so that the average 150-pound human can perform compressions and push down the chest the proper 2 inches.  Little teenage girls (and women) who weigh 110 pounds or less often have a difficult time making the chest move at all. 
The hospital has more realistic manikins that feel more like a person, but the fact is, most really small women (and a few small men) have difficulty compressing the chest enough on them too.  I don't know that the TrueCPR device is going to help them much, but it might.  I do think the TrueCPR could help people like me who get nervous in a situation like that, even though I've taught it for a long time, by giving people feedback on their progress.  I also think it would be very helpful with teaching because the students could see right away how to improve their skills.

Back again!

Just a quick addendum to the last post... I have until this Friday, May 17.  Look for 3 more reviews right here on this blog (one coming up momentarily!)


Friday, May 10, 2013

Well, this is it, I guess.

Today is graduation day at APSU so I guess I just farted around too long and didn't get those last three reviews done.  I would do it tonight... but it's too late, I'm sure.  I have had a rough semester.  I know, everyone says that, but I mean it.  With one glaring exception, no one event in and of itself made it a terrible semester, and overall, in many ways, I was blessed.  That glaring exception affected me in every way.  Physically, I am recovering from the stress.  Emotionally, I am currently going through an easy-cry stage.  Is it because it's Mother's Day weekend?  Because today's the last day for our seniors?  Because my son is graduating?  Because my cat is old?  Or am I just glad to get the semester over finally?  Could be any or all the above.  Spiritually, I can't even think about how I really feel, and I sure don't want to talk about it.

Mentally, I am not quite as dazed and confused as I was for a month or so, but I'm still trying to get adjusted to the new reality.  Who am I now?  I am still a daughter, but my relationship with my dad is different than the one I had with my mom.  I no longer have that feeling that Mom will say, "Don't do that" or "Don't wear that" or "You don't need to eat that" or "They're looking at you..." like she did most of my life.  I never outgrew that until now, at age... let's just say pushing 50.  Now I have the voice saying, "Do what makes you happy," or "Just be yourself" - also messages she gave me, but for some reason now they make sense - and I think, is this what makes me happy?

Maybe most troubling of all is the new voice I hear... my own, I guess... saying, "Life is short.  You've got to make a difference.  You haven't done what you set out to do.  What are you going to do about THAT?"  The answer is, I still don't know.  I know I don't want to be a tech coach anymore, but I have enjoyed and definitely benefited from working on my MAEd.  I enjoy the design part and the web design part and I'm sure I'll use those skills.  Now I only have one class to go, this summer, and then what will I do with myself?  I guess I'll try to do all those things I've been hearing my own voice suggest.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review #7

Introducing students to bio-inspiration and biomimetic design: a workshop experience

Citation:  Santulli, C., & Langella, C. (2011). Introducing students to bio-inspiration and biomimetic design: a workshop experience. International Journal Of Technology & Design Education, 21(4), 471-485. doi:10.1007/s10798-010-9132-6

Review: The researchers wanted to determine how best to use a bio-inspired approach to designing products.  They used data collected from second-year students at Seconda Universita' de Napoli.  The theme of the students' work was "Bio-inspired design of sport."  The students had been asked to find examples from nature and apply these examples to the design of sporting equipment.  Some examples of this were helmets designed to protect the head almost like having a second skull, ski boots modeled after penguin feathers, and surf boots with grips and materials like the skin of Remora fishes.  The researchers concluded that the project-based exercise was useful to introduce the students to the myriad possibilities of bio-inspiration.  One issue the researchers found was that the university did not offer as much of a multidisciplinary approach as they had hoped, so the result was that students either did not consider all the functions of a biological model or they tried too hard to create an exact replica of the biological counterpart by using too many complicated design features.

Reflection: If you ask me how I feel about teaching on two consecutive days you'll probably get two different answers.  From time to time I miss my old job as a nuclear medicine technologist.  I miss working in fairly quiet environments, having an easier workspace to keep clean and organized, working with high-tech equipment, meeting and caring for the patients, and (of course) the money.  There are things I like better about teaching, like only having to be exposed to artificial blood and body fluids (and that's only artificial urine), getting to show students really cool things we can do to learn more about the function of the body, and (of course) summers off.  Both careers have ample opportunities for learning.  Both fields have requirements that change from year to year, and both have state-mandated unannounced observations, though education has them a lot more frequently.  However, in nuclear medicine, those inspections were brutal!!!

I said all that to say I'm warming up to teaching, even though I still have rotten days.  This could be because it's May 5th, so school will be out in three weeks and I'll have nine weeks off (give or take a day).  On the other hand, maybe it's just a change of attitude.  I hope it's the latter, though I'm sure the former has something to do with it.

As a health science teacher, and for that matter, as a teacher in the US today, I'm frequently told that my students need more rigorous assignments and more real-life type scenarios to help them.  There's a big push for project-based learning, and with that in mind, and also the fact that I just ordered some STEM medals for our health science students who will soon be the first to graduate in the "Biotechnology" pathway, I tried to find an article to give me ideas for ways I could get my students involved in real-life type project assignments.  This article wasn't exactly what I was looking to find, but, I learned something from it.  I learned a new term, bio-inspiration.  It makes perfect sense, though, and I think my mechanical engineering major son would find this a natural fit.  (Hee hee, I'm actually using it myself!)  It also gave me some ideas for how to create, administer, and assign projects for my classes, specifically, the types of questions that the instructors asked of the students.  

Honestly, I believe that more projects should be done this way in design courses because this is what we expect real design engineers to do.  We, as an entire system, have spent a lot of time teaching students how to take tests and memorize facts but we need to teach these students to use their brains.  Evidently, the universities in Italy have not been teaching their design students using a multidisciplinary approach either.  As a former student myself I totally remember and understand why students think, "Why do I have to read and analyze One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?  I'm going to be a _______________ (insert non-literature-related occupation here)."  On the other hand, now that I'm a teacher, I can help students visualize yellow fever and smallpox and those dread diseases in the novels they're reading downstairs.  It's still important that our future clothing designers have a little bit of background in science, just as our future nurses need a little bit of knowledge of literature and our future mathematicians need an appreciation for the arts.