QR Code for my Panoramio Photos

I’m in desperate need to get all of my online content tied together and maybe this course I’m taking in uni. will help light that fire.

As an assignment, I had to create a QR Code linked to some site content or something.  I linked it to my photos of Georgia.  My Panoramio and Google Earth photos are also lacking in attention from me.  Again, I need to tie everything together.  We’ll see how successful that is in the future.

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This is a QR Code.  USE IT.  It’ll take you to my Panoramio website.

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Go on, use it.  QR Code to my Panoramio site.  Panoramio site is linked to my Google Earth published photos (most of them at least).

The use of QR Codes in linking any form of content or quick jumps by students towards assigned content is something that warrants use and further exploration.

PBL – Peanut, Butter, & Lechuga or Project Based Learning?

This week we had the opportunity to go over Project Based Learning.  A systematic method of teaching about large scale ideas or subjects that are rather in depth.  With this method of learning, one is to provide a certain subject to one’s students and then one has to take a step back a bit.  One has to let one’s students at this point chart their own course as long as that course satisfies all the metrics set out by the instructor.

With PBL, the instructor sets a goal.  The instructor also sets way posts that students will have to move through along their way to their goal.  Along the way to this goal, students do have some agency in the navigation of their content as long as what the instructor aims at in instruction is covered in that which the students bring.  If the student’s do not add their own content to the course of instruction, the instructor will provide it.  This will be to the detriment of the student as they do not at this point get to choose areas of interest to them (motorcycles as I mentioned in my youtube presentation).

All in all, I view the PBL as a great way to integrate students’ interest into their course curricula.  Also, this is a great way for the teacher to monitor student’s interests (helps to keep one plugged in).  For large classes, I think that the PBL methodology can quickly become top-heavy and cumbersome.  For smaller classes, I think that the idea is one that should be run with as often as is possible.

Axalsofeli (Akhalsopeli) School. Relaunch/Refocus For My Idle Blog.

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Big Akhalsopeli School.  Empty yard.  Morning.

Here is a photo of the school that changed my life. Prior to visiting Axalsofeli and meeting my Georgian family, the Tavartkiladzes, I was going to be an archaeologist.  Now, when I grow up I’m going to be a teacher.  It was my friends at this school and the students there that got me on the teaching track.

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Little Akhalsopeli School.  Student.  Rainy day.

Classroom Factories. Making a Generation of Makers.

I’m having a huge problem with the concept of turning classrooms into a Makerspace. The longer I think about this concept of turning the learning environment, your focused environment into a kind of a catch all space for creativity, the less I’m liking it.  When I was younger, I was allowed to explore the industrial arts via classes.  We were given some latitudes in what we were allowed to create after some baseline standard skills were met.

What was understood in these more tactile courses was the simple fact that there was a baseline of safety and SKILLS that had to be met before one could work on one’s own.  God knows I’d not be given the keys to the band saw until I’ve demonstrated multiple times that I was able to use one safely.  What this baseline for a given type of knowledge implies is that the content is deep enough to warrant that exploration of a subject is something that involves time and care.  One has to learn the basics prior to being the next Ronaldo or Pele or Schumacher.  At one point in time society valued these things.  You had to develop skills.

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To move a classroom to where kids are free to experiment and create things can be valuable for lighting that fire, stoking interest.  To move a classroom towards becoming an all encompassing environment that fosters worlds of imaginative development is laudable, but where does the assessment of instruction begin and end?  What if the teacher isn’t all that creative?  Does this new Maker movement affect how they do their job as an educational facilitator if that teacher doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of being a “CREATIVE” by the ETSY driven creative elite?

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To make architectural models with popsicle sticks and Elmer’s Glue can be fun.  It can also be tied in with curricula.  To have kids 3D print objects first implies that there is a 3D printer available no less than the computers available to control those printers.  Who instructs the instructor in AutoCAD and Revit?  Who teaches these programs to the kids?Who supplies the money for these tools in communities that don’t have the outside cash input to supplement their local school coffers?  Until there is complete parity in district and student funding, talk of these exotic tools is premature.  That said, the potential for student learning with this current technoscape is almost unlimited but I am not completely infatuated with the idea of STEM or STEAM or Makers.  We are currently in the midst of one of the most base and ugly elections cycles this country has every seen and we are talking concepts of STEM or the enlightened curriculum that add the Arts in addition to what teachers currently have to teach while we have a population that cannot successfully navigate the world of civics and the budget and percentage of instructional time for those social sciences needed to understand the SOCIETY in which we live are constantly being cut.  Creativity should always be curried, falling victim to current trends, i.e., the Makers and Programmers holding current favor in the court of public opinion and valuation should not short shrift traditional subject matter.  We may never need the Industrial Arts in education like we once did, but if time is to be given to new fields in Education and the fields are to be given free time in class to develop that creativity, GIVE proper time to traditional subjects while scheduling proper time to these new and developing fields.  We all stand on the backs of giants in this society.  We’ve learned much from the intellects of the past.  Do not disregard the past while staring wide eyed at the future.

(I actually like the idea of opening up the classroom as a Makerspace type environment but at this point I see the negatives outweighing the positives unless funding parity can be had, nationwide).

Classroom Observations, Recording my Voice for Presentations, & Techno-youth.

In my journey to become a teacher extraordinaire, I’m now charged with doing classroom observations before the powers that be let me loose as a full-blown student teacher. So far, these observations have been fairly workaday.  More than anything, these observations have really mirrored my own experience in high school (that is where I’m doing my observations).  The classroom is similar to the classroom I once sat in so many years ago.  The students are similar to the students who were my friends back in the day. What is different is the focus on what I’m studying now.  I’m studying classroom management more than anything.  The teacher I’m working with has a good rapport with his students and keeps the class’ flow light while being firm at the same time.  That’s got to be a delicate balance to maintain.  Looks easy from the outside but try doing it yourself once the class is yours!

For my ed. tech. course I’m recording voiceovers for presentations I’ve created on my Mac. Depending on whose camp you’ve staked your proverbial flag, you’ll be either using PowerPoint or Keynote, either way, for the time being, you will be doing your voiceovers on a third party’s program.  I spent some time browsing different screencast programs and ultimately used Screencast-O-Matic (http://screencast-o-matic.com/home).  Like anything else in your life, when making a decision regarding which tool to use or what car to buy, there were options and S-O-M just felt right to me for my needs.  The results         S-O-M delivered were good enough but I feel that the lifespan of the S-O-M website/tool is going to be a short one unless they diversify or deliver something extraordinary soon as I cannot see Apple or the PC makers/programmers leaving this glaring hole in their products programming unfilled for long.  Still, using this program, I feel that I’m just a rank amateur and that the students I’ll be teaching will be lightyears ahead of me in the creation of media based projects.  I guess this means that I’ll have to start down that rabbit hole of techno-learning in the future.

Now, after mentioning my gross level techno-ludditeness, I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed when delving into some of the educational apps available in my diversity course.  Hell, I was asked to send my prof. a text message in this course and I had to have one of my cohorts help me out.  Hell, it isn’t a difficult task and I’ve texted a million times in the past, BUT, those texts were responses from texts sent by friends.  I’ve never had to instigate the text.  I mean, why the hell would you?  You are using a phone to text, right???Anyways, I guess texts are the preferred means of communication for many in these crazy, crazy days.  Sitting here typing this I remember sitting around a friend’s patio table, drinking beer, lots of beer, and talking to a friend who casually mentioned that she’d not even set up an email account yet (this was ten years ago).  Laughing, I called her a troglodyte.  Pot, meet kettle.

 

Moving Beyond the PowerPoint

In my credential program, one course focused on an entirely new form of teaching, to me at least.  The teaching form is called the “Flipped Classroom.”  This Flipped Classroom is a fairly interesting concept.  The idea behind it is fairly simple.  Use commonly used technology, i.e., the internet and YouTube (or similar) to watch short video lectures regarding some topic of your choice (you’re the teacher).  Have your kids watch the video. Next, your students will hopefully come back to class and then in class, you’ll review what was watched and then move onto some form of directed course of study.

In another of my courses (I’m currently taking three) I was charged with creating a “Picture File.”  Basically, a picture file consists of a series of related content images that you can use as a frame to base a lecture off of.  The picture file will be offered in the familiar PowerPoint format but instead of being a word for word type of lecture, the pic file will offer a visual component to that which you’re talking about.  It is a useful tool to be used but nothing revolutionary whereas the Flipped Classroom idea is a bit more revolutionary.

Honestly, the idea of the flipped classroom is awesome.  IF, IF, IF, one can get your students to follow the required viewing at home, the content that can be discussed in class and the tangents that can be taken are only limited to the imagination of the teacher (and possibly their wallet).  The exploration that can be had in class once the class has been FLIPPED can potentially create the type of learning space where education becomes something that isn’t drudgery for students, but instead becomes a type of experimentation space where ideas are to be explored.

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Georgian students working with my co-teacher to put together a giraffe alphabet (anbani) puzzle.

The incorporation of new technology and tools that are available on the web can, in a perfect world, move the role of the teacher away from being a classroom disciplinarian and homework referee to that of a guide in a big world of wonders.

Beyond Batumi is Getting Blended With my Educational Technology Course. Now, Beyond Batumi has broadened its scope. (EDUC 407/WK 2).

Beyond Batumi was a blog that I began a few years ago to help illustrate the many reasons for people to go and visit the hidden tourism gems that are Adjara and Batumi, in the Republic of Georgia.  Needless to say, this blog stalled after some time.  I am hoping that this new input from my EDUC 407 course will help to spur some new life into this blog.

This blog’s new focus will look at the original idea of “Beyond Batumi” in a more personal way than what the blog was originally created to shed light on (the hinter-regions of Adjara).  This new iteration of Beyond Batumi will start looking at my travels, both physically and mentally, in arenas in my post-Batumi life.  Initially I will start focusing on my education as a teacher.

I have reentered school, again.  I am now enrolled in a teaching credential program that is offered by the University of La Verne, my undergrad Alma Mater.  Currently I am taking courses in Educational Technology (which this blog is a required component), methodology for teaching English Language Learners, and another course regarding diversity in the classroom.  I am currently enrolled in the Teaching Credential Program though I am currently in the process of rolling the credential program over into what is a Master’s program where I may choose tech in the classroom as an area of emphasis.

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Students at Axalsofeli (Akhalsopeli) Public School, 2012.  3rd Grade.

So, here I am, introducing a new BEYOND component to this blog.  Education.  I will start this introduction with a quick inclusion of an assignment required for my educational technology course, my Educational Philosophy:

My educational philosophy is a rather simple one.  It is similar to the Hippocratic Oath that doctors have to take and it is first and foremost this, “First, do no harm.”  One must be aware in the classroom and in all aspects of their life that they have great potential to do harm.  This is not speaking of great physical violence but the potential for damage to be done to a student’s psyche whilst one (the teacher) thinks that they may be doing good.  

This “…do no harm….” idea springs from my own experience.  When I was a child I had difficulty with math.  My 3rd grade teacher used to post grades on the board and have the students passing their multiplication tables move along towards a goal as if in a horse race.  As I said before, I had trouble with math and watching my friends move along (publicly) while I stayed at a certain level for longer time than they did compounded my anxiety and insecurity.  Eventually my aversion blossomed into a full blown phobia.  This is NOT the aim of education.  I, for all subjects, minus math, have had a lifelong love affair with learning and the sciences.  I was to become an archaeologist prior to getting into the classroom and teaching English to students in the former Soviet Republic state of Georgia (not the Atlanta one) during a year break between my undergrad and grad studies (I was to go to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland).  After teaching for a year in Georgia, my life was changed.  I loved aiding these kids in their learning process.  I found teaching to be extremely rewarding and if I could express my aims and intentions in a simplified philosophy, it is to do no harm.  Do not screw up the psyches of the youth through misguided though often well intentioned instructional styles. Make learning something that can be enjoyable as in reality, it is a JOY.  If at all possible, make it possible for your students to love the educational process and education.

Bringing this home to ed. tech., I will in the coming posts write about how technology can potentially aid in facilitating the learning process and get kids to love what they’re doing.

Just A Summertime Sunset. Batumi Boulevard. Black Sea. Adjara, Georgia. You should come here.

Just to add a little perspective here. This series of photos was shot in a 45 second to one minute time frame. The intensity of the light in a few shots flooded my little Pentax Q’s sensor (not really). Just the differing darknesses on some photos is my Q adapting to the differing light as the sun moved from behind that little strip of cloud. Enjoy. Sunsets here, year round are pretty spectacular. You should visit this place, eat the food, drink wine with the locals, and eat food other than khachapuri. You should eat khachapuri, too. Just try other stuff.  Same goes for khinkali. Try some adjapsandali (a type of eggplant ragout) or chakapuli AND eat your khachapuri or khinkali!!!

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Ispani Wetlands. Kobuleti. First rain fed bog of its type found in the world. Not like it was hiding or anything.

Ok, it rains a lot here in Georgia. Especially in the fall, winter, and spring months. Even then, it rains a lot in any month that has both consonant and vowel type letters spelling out the month’s name. It rains so much that a new type of bog was found here, a bog entirely fed by RAIN. So, this is the first found, entirely rain fed, sphagnum bog in the world. Another first for Georgia (remember wine? Yeah, they did that first too.).

It seems that most bogs have some type of artesian spring that keeps the water supply going, but here in Kobuleti, Georgia, there is no need for such things as it RAINS. A LOT. According to the article I’ll cite at the bottom of this page, Kobuleti gets something like 150-250 cm of rain per year which seems to be about the same as an average year for Batumi as well. Up in the mountains, only a few kilometers away, that rainfall average is much higher. In Mtirala National Park (article coming soon), rainfall can exceed 500 cm per year.

Anyways, it rains a lot. Also, it is sunny a lot. So don’t let a little rain stop you, these cloudy and rainy conditions can spring up one hour and be done with the next. What the weather and its schizophrenic nature does do is create conditions for some spectacular photography. I’m still learning to use my camera, so these aren’t pro quality, but they are a decent representation of the colors you’ll see here. All in all, Georgia is damn amazing for the spectrum of colors you’ll see. You should visit here. Soon. The best times to visit are in the early summer or very early fall. Winter is nice, but you should visit this wonderful place when there are leaves on the trees. It is like living in a giant salad bowl. I’m surprised that the great apes never found this place as they’d be extremely happy here.

Check out this site for a decent description of what you’ll find here. Academic stuff follows: http://www.pimdeklerk-palynology.eu/html/ispani_2__w_georgia_.html

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Ispani specific

Batumi Double Rainbow.

Batumi double rainbow. August, 2015. Looking out of my apartment's window.

Batumi double rainbow. August, 2015. Looking out of my apartment’s window.

Looking to the east. Rainbows. Lesser Caucasus Mountains, Adjara, Georgia.

Looking to the east. Rainbows. Lesser Caucasus Mountains, Adjara, Georgia.

Double Rainbow over Batumi. That means it is twice as good, right? Yes.

Double Rainbow over Batumi. That means it is twice as good, right? Yes.

In Batumi, it rains when the sun is out. One must pay a price for keeping the mountains and forests green. Looking west, towards central Batumi. The khrushchyovka, or Khrushchov era (or near) apartment blocks are near the Khopa Bazaari (market).

In Batumi, it rains when the sun is out. One must pay a price for keeping the mountains and forests green. Looking west, towards central Batumi. The khrushchyovka, or Khrushchov era (or near) apartment blocks are near the Khopa Bazaari (market).

I know that this blog is titled Beyond Batumi, but that isn’t going to stop me from posting about Batumi.

Also, I wish I had thought of filming this as I was way more excited that the other Double Rainbow guy.

See here: