Friday, July 25, 2014

TeacherLINK TechBytes Newsletter for August 2014

In this Issue...
  • 5 Free Courses for Teachers’ Professional Development.
  • Building Houses with 3D Printers
  • Will 3D Printers Change the World?
  • 3D Printing Goes Commercial
  • Enhance Your Google Searches With These Tips and Tricks
  • New Flexible OLED Displays
  • Free Online Event: Become a Google Tools Expert
  • TextHelp Launches a Free Fluency Tool
  • - Free Video & Audio Tools
  • Free Webinar Series: GLOBE and Next Generation Science Standards Alignment
  • Louisiana Tech University Online Course — Steps to STEM: NASA Education Resources for STEM Engagement
  • REGISTRATION OPEN: Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2014
  • Free iOS Apps: Duolingo; National Archives DocsTeach; To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis; CK-12 studyNow
  • New Technologies: Pano 100” multi-touch table; iOptic Augmented Reality Contact Lens; Youm Flexible Displays
  • How to Stop Auto-Playing Videos in FaceBook using Chrome
  • Neurobridge
  • Rio Firefly Handcycle

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

TeacherLINK TechBytes Newsletter for July 2014 is now available (Free!)


This free ten page PDF file is filled with links to great teacher resources!  If this is something that is useful to you, please check out the earlier newsletters at the same URL.  The newsletter is provided courtesy of the Adele & Dale Young Education Technology Center (the YETC), part of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Award-winning designs were created here at CEHS

Two Utah State University students won awards for their high-tech craft designs earlier this month, demonstrating that technology can have a playful side.

The Sensors Contest was a partnership between Radio Shack and Instructables, an online, do-it-yourself community. It challenged people to incorporate sensors into a design and create a step by step "instructable" that could be shared with the community. Students Suzanne Fluty and Kenneth Larsen both created projects in the Craft Technologies class and submitted them in the contest.

They walked away with two of the contest's five second place prize packages.

Larsen created the Lily Pad Arduino Sensor Demo Mat. A YouTube video shows how it works:

Fluty created the Tilt Activated Cloud Light. If you don't know what that is, you can see it demonstrated here:

The Craft Technologies class is taught by Deborah Fields of the Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences department. Both second place prizes included a quad copter, a sensor kit and an xbee kit--and the winnings can be used to create more playful designs.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jamison Fargo is new CEHS Associate Dean for Research

By JoLynne Lyon

photo of Dr. Fargo
Dr. Jamison Fargo
Dr. Jamison Fargo, an associate professor in the Psychology Department, has been named the new associate dean for research in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

He replaces Dr. James Dorward, who stepped down but will remain in the college as a half-time professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership.

Research is important to the college’s educational mission, Fargo said. “It really is one of the stronger aspects of our college, which defines us in the state and nationally,” he said. “Research is really one of the cornerstones of our college and its success.”

It also contributes to the experience of undergraduate and graduate students who are looking to enrich their education. College-wide, graduate students co-authored 68 percent of professional conference presentations and 45 percent of refereed articles.

Undergraduates can find opportunities collaborating with an instructor, Fargo said. Graduate students often find opportunities through their relationship with their faculty advisors.

Faculty can also grow their own programs through their research. Fargo’s own interests have led to the study of homeless veterans, and he has collaborated as a researcher with the National Center of Homelessness among Veterans at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center since it was established in 2009. He has collaborated with other researchersin the Salt Lake VA Medical Center to develop early warning indicators of homelessness among veterans.

Fargo’s own research will continue while he works to support the work of others in the College.

“I really see my role as helping to hold up the ladder for people to grow their programs of research and develop their proposals,” he said. He encourages faculty to treat him as a resource and bounce their ideas off of him.

He also helped establish the college’s Office of Methodological and Data Sciences, which he would like to expand. He would like to offer expanded data management and data analysis support as well.

Fargo’s new position begins July 1.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cheating: can kids learn from it?

A Utah State University researcher examined the online social interactions of 600 children for six months. One of them entered an online trading post and quickly lost her virtual money in a scam.

She quickly applied what she learned by trying to scam other players.

It was an example of bad cheating--the girl tried to trick fellow players into giving her something she didn't earn. But Dr. Deborah Fields said there are productive ways to cheat in online games. She is an assistant professor in the Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences department, located within the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Fields and fellow researcher Yasmin Kafai (University of Pennsylvania) both presented their findings and thoughts in a recent double keynote at the National Science Foundation-sponsored Cyberlearning Summit and Games + Learning + Society Playful Learning Summit.

So what's an example of a good cheat? People do it all the time when they ask a friend for cooking advice or look at a travel guide instead of roaming every square inch of a tourist town, Fields said. "You're not learning at all the hard way."

Instead, people cooperate and exercise their creativity to solve a problem. In the gaming world, a cheat allows the player to get around the rules and play the game her way. 

Whole communities and publications have grown around helping each other get past the hard part of a game. Fields argues it can work for education, too. Children playing scientific games have come up with their own charts and guides to help others figure out concepts like thermodynamics and light spectroscopy.

As for the girl who tried to scam her fellow players--her behavior was short-lived.

Fields and Kafai wrote about their research in Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World. It was published last fall by MIT Press.

For more on mischievous learning, you can watch the keynote.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Delores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education recently accredited

By JoLynne Lyon

Any parents who have had to go to school, work or an afternoon of shopping know the trepidation of leaving their little ones in the care of someone else.

Staff members at the Delores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education at Utah State University have worked hard to ease that feeling. Earlier this spring, the center received some recognition for their efforts when it earned accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

In Utah, only seven NAEYC-accredited programs for young children exist outside of the Wasatch Front. Of those, five—including the DDE Center—are affiliated with the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services and the Family, Consumer, and Human Development Department at USU. NAEYC—the nation’s leader of early childhood professional organizations—grants accreditation to centers that voluntarily maintain standards that are often higher than those required by state licensure. Evaluators looked at 400 criteria before granting the center its new status. Nationwide, approximately 8 percent of all preschool and early childhood programs are NAEYC-accredited.

Achieving accreditation took about two years, said Maegan Lokteff, the center’s program coordinator. During the process they made it a goal to help families feel welcome. 

It has worked for Colby Tofel-Grehl, an assistant professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership. “I think the DDE Center focuses on the individual child and has given both my boys a sense of security that has allowed them to flourish. My youngest son was eight months old when he started at the center. My husband and I were very nervous about having such a young one in child care. However, he’s never had separation issues because his teachers are so warm and focused on a comforting routine.”

 The DDE Center has made an effort not only to talk to parents, but to encourage families to give feedback, said Executive Director Lisa Boyce.

For example, the computer where parents sign their child in delivers pop-up messages about DDE Center events. But for Jessica Shumway, meaningful communication comes in the form of a handwritten note from her child’s preschool teacher. These tidbits tell her about the children and toys he played with, the food he ate or the things he learned about sharing. She is also able to meet one-on-one with the teacher to discuss any concerns she has.

Shumway is a doctoral student in mathematics education, and her son is two and a half years old. She likes being able to drop him off and watch him from the observation room before she leaves. It helps to see him playing and know he is happy.

The center also sends photos to parents throughout the day to show what they’re doing, said Victoria Grieve, a history professor with two children in the program. Grieve is also a member of the center’s advisory board.

Teachers are conscious of what’s going on in the child’s world, said Grieve. Her own daughter was eased into the senior preschool from the junior one, as the staff introduced her for an hour or two to get her used to the new setting before they moved her over permanently. “Transitions for her are sometimes hard,” Grieve said. “It’s made a difference for me. I noticed she was comfortable.”

The DDE Center serves faculty, staff and students, with one fourth of its openings reserved for the children of parents who study at USU. It also gives USU students a place to learn skills. Eleven students from the Family, Consumer, and Human Development Department received practicum experience there during the 2013-14 school year.

The center also collaborates with the Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences Department at USU, which provides expertise, interns and graduate students who ensure healthy eating during the day. Offerings go far beyond peanut butter and jelly. The menu includes items like whole wheat bruschetta sandwiches, butternut squash soup, wheat round crackers, heart healthy oatmeal cookies, pita bread and hummus.

 The food is all made in-house. “It’s what won me over,” Shumway said.

Other USU-affiliated, accredited programs include the Dale and Adele Young Child Development Laboratory on USU’s Logan campus, the Utah State University Brigham City Child Development Laboratory, the Little Brigham Aggies Early Care and Education Center in Brigham City and the Utah State University Uintah Basin Child Development Laboratory in Roosevelt.

An accreditation lasts for five years.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

CEHS Teacher of the Year reflects on teacher training

photo of Sarah Clark
Dr. Sarah Clark
By JoLynne Lyon

Dr. Sarah Clark knew she had her work cut out for her before she ever came to Utah State University.

She is this year’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services’ Teacher of the Year, but before that she was a classroom teacher who noticed trends around her… and worried about them.

She had found from her own experience that some students struggled with literacy, and those struggles continued in spite of reading activities that did not address the problem. She also noticed—from her own observations and from national statistics—that within five years, 50 percent of classroom teachers leave the field.

“We think we’re preparing them, but if so many are leaving, maybe we’re not,” she said.

Her concerns sent her back to the classroom—but this time, she took on the role of PhD student at Utah State University. Now an assistant professor of literacy in the School of Teacher Education andLeadership, she integrates research with teacher preparation. Her goal is to make sure the elementary school teachers who graduate from USU have learned research-based reading methods before they begin their teaching jobs—and also if they return for a master’s degree.

Clark received the Jerry Johns Promising Researcher Award from the Association of Literary Educators and Researchers in 2013, in recognition of her work. “The research I conduct not only adds to the larger collection of research literature examining teacher education and professional development, but it directly informs and enhances the way I teach the candidates enrolled in my college courses,” she said at the time.

The good news is that with research-based teaching methods, children who struggle with reading can improve and go on to academic success. But the longer the reading problems continue, the harder it will be to change their learning trajectory.  Our society should talk about it more, she said.

Those conversations are certainly happening on a personal level. In fact, Clark has learned that if she tells the people on a plane next to her about her job, chances are she will spend a lot of time discussing the reading problems in their families.

Now, as she sees it, the education community is starting some important conversations, too. Utah superintendents came to USU in a meeting organized by the School of Teacher Education and Leadership.  During the visit they told her they appreciate the knowledge that graduating teachers from USU have in explicit instruction, a research-based method that guides a young reader from direct instruction to independent work.

Clark is passionate about training those learners’ future teachers and leaders. “That’s what’s driven me back to school. I love working with students.”

“She set high expectations but was very understanding with people’s needs,” said Stephanie Johnson, a former student who will begin teaching sixth grade in the fall. She felt like Clark saw her as both an individual and as part of a big picture—one that Johnson could personally influence for good.

“Every one of us knew that she was there for us,” she said. “She really made me feel like I could make a big difference.”

Related links: