Learning assessment, Finnish style

I am trying to find new, innovative, and useful models for assessing higher learning in student work.  I also seek formative assessment through self-reflection upon my own performance as a teacher-facilitator.

Five purposes of mathematics assessment have been outlined by Kulm (1994) as the following:

  1. improving instruction and learning,
  2. evaluating student progress,
  3. providing feedback for students to understand their thinking,
  4. communicating expectations, and
  5. improving attitudes toward mathematics.

In the USA there is great resistance to change in the classroom and assessment is based upon standardized testing as the measure for learning and performance.  Conversely, in Finland, the purpose of assessment is to guide and encourage studying and self-assessment skills. Assessment measures a combination of educational progress, work skills, and behavior (Finnish National Board of Education, 2010). Classroom assessment practices in Finland allow teachers to evaluate and change instruction based on student needs.

I recognize that Finland is culturally more homogenous in comparison with most parts of the USA, so comparisons are difficult.  But a teaching and learning environment that facilitates creative expression and deep learning are my priorities as a teacher and learner. That is the way I dream for schools in the USA, where learning is experiential and reflective, but the norm here is so far away from the Finnish model. The odd irony is that Finnish model is partly based on 19th century scholarly and philosophical thought about Education in the USA (Dewey).

My son, Niall Collins

Niall is my 15 yr old son who plays football and baseball at Palos Verdes High School.  This clip shows Niall receiving his first of two TD passes in the game against Peninsula HS.  I am so proud of his skills and abilities.

CLIP: http://anthonycollinsfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IMG_3307.mov

Spicy-hot Thai Isan food near the University

Isan food comes from NE Thailand.  I am so glad there is a great place to enjoy super spicy larb kai and other larbs right across the street from the Ramkhamhaeng University in central Bangkok where I have been fortunate to teach for one month each year!

https://www.eatingthaifood.com/isaan-food-ramkhamhaeng/

A central Bangkok add-on to an ongoing bucket list.

Thanks to Mark Wiens for finding this place who writes, “This is one restaurant in Bangkok that if you ask it for “really spicy,” they will actually deliver.”  Nice.

A Beginner’s Mentality in Teaching

I am teaching a short term course for South Bay Adult School in Manhattan Beach, California, Beginning Screenplay Writing, for the next four weeks.  The course website gives an overview of the course content and approach.  I will apply this same model when I go to teach in Karachi, Bangkok, and Shanghai.  Always having a beginner’s mentality!

COURSE WEBSITE

Wisely and earnestly: I keep trying to remember this idea

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. – Buddha’s Wise Words that I emulate to the best of my ability.

Why do people read?

I assume the most basic explanation or response to the question: why do people read? is that reading is a likable activity for the most part.  It yields good results.  But to question, Why do people read, wondering about reading and deeper learning by students from a critical perspective–this is a personal effort to improve myself as a teacher.  I like the process of inquiry and reflection and practice, ad infinitum.  I hope this knowledge continues to yield good results.  Report on the rise of e-reading and the general reading habits of Americans

A new way to travel in Thailand

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/thailand-community-tourism-intl/index.html

This website helps us to find good ways to experience Thailand from a different perspective that raw tourism and mere commercial entertainment.

Transmedia Storytelling

I am finding opportunities and work in a new field of teaching (new, for myself)—Transmedia Storytelling.  I am supposed to teach this subject so it’s a good time to define what transmedia storytelling is, and how students can learn from it.  I found this good article that helps as an introduction.  I am looking forward to integrating digital media, dance, music, spoken words, aromas and other sensory tools into creative and scholarly work!

READ HERE

Malaria Info by Country

I’m planning for upcoming trips to Karachi Pakistan, Shanghai, Bangkok and farming areas in central Thailand, and the Philippines in the southern areas of Siquijor and Bukidnon, at least.  Looks like I’ll be taking CHLOROQUINE in the foreseeable future.  I must avoid malaria (and dengue) at all costs without going paranoid.  I must do more research about chloroquine’s nutritional and biochemical effects, and how it will cooperate with the pile of other meds that I take on a daily basis.  Appreciate any knowledge that can be shared on this topic.  Maybe it’s also a good time to start researching quinine and other more traditional ways of avoiding mosquito bites in the first place.  Perhaps, gin and tonic as an antimalarial?

I guess my old understanding, from the 60s, that Vitamin B11 helps against mosquito bites is a myth or at least questionable.

MALARIA INFORMATION BY COUNTRY

 

Rainbow Millet Tabbouleh

In Place of Other Grains: Rainbow Millet TabboulehTABBOULEH-with-BARLEY-Raw-Vegan-1200x774

Millet is capable of doing the job of pretty much any other grain. For example, tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur but a gluten-free version can be made with millet. It’s delicious by itself or served with your favorite Mediterranean dishes. The different colored vegetables give it a rainbow appearance. And you know your food is healthy when it has all the colors of a rainbow. To make Rainbow Millet Tabbouleh: First get the millet cooking. It takes about 20 minutes and during that time, the rest of the ingredients can be prepped and ready to go. Add 1 cup millet into a medium saucepan and add 2 cups of broth or water (or a combination of both). Add a pinch of salt, cover the pot and over a medium-high heat, bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes until the millet is fluffy.

While the millet is cooking, get all the veggies and herbs seeded and chopped up. Seed and/or chop 2 cucumbers, 3 plum tomatoes, 1 yellow bell pepper, 5 scallions, 1 cup fresh parsley and ½ cup fresh mint. When it’s ready, transfer the millet to a large bowl and let it cool. To the bowl of fluffy millet, add the cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper and scallions. Add the parsley and mint and toss well. Dress the tabbouleh with 3 Tbs. olive oil, 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. kosher salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper and mix it well. Taste to see if any adjustments are necessary. You should be able to taste the fluffiness of the millet, the crunch of the veggies, the freshness of the mint and the brightness of the lemon.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Some Sagitarian things about me that I should improve

I recently read that Sagitarian folks like me share these characteristics in our relationships:

1. You can’t deal with attention-seeking partners.
2. You are too blunt with your words.
3. You lose interest too easily.
4. You don’t respect other people’s boundaries and personal lines.
5. You make promises that are bigger than you.
6. You like your single status, but you always want some “benefits” of a relationship.
7. You’re a highly impatient person.

Hmmm.  At this point in life I am willing to acknowledge the probability that I am guilty of most or all those characteristics, to some lesser or greater extent.  Time to change myself for the better!  Better late than never as they say.  How?  I go one breath at a time, knowing that patience is a virtue.

What are some of the beautiful natural wonders in Iran?

My bucket list of places to visit in Iran, with this mini-list focusing on the natural environment:

Kaluts, Kerman
Keshit canyon, Kerman
Hormoz colorful landscapes, Persian Gulf
Yalan great dunes, Kerman
Bisheh waterfall, Lorestan
Badabsourt, Mazandaran
Arasbaran forests, Tabriz
Damavand peak, Tehran
Tabas kaleh jenni, Yazd
Alisadr cave, Hamedan

What kind of teacher am I?

I will describe a little bit about my most recent classes and describe the process of work, learning and output that are expected.
I find myself as a sort of wandering teacher (21st century Erasmus?) so I teach sometimes in California at Marymount California University (MCU) and other times (1x or 2x per year) in Thailand at the Institute for International Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University.  I also plan to go to Shanghai to teach in the upcoming year.
As you might know the British higher education semester is made of units. Each unit is a few weeks or a month in duration with a semester-long structure.  I find a lot of inspiration and rewards doing what do because I am able work within the US and the UK systems.  In Thailand, the university uses the British system.
In all of my teaching I aim to find ways to build intrinsic motivation in learning, mostly about professional practice, theoretical and contextual aspects of work, and the building and re-application of technical skills and knowledge.  Besides the process of development, writing, production and editing in digital media production I focus a lot of class time on presentation, discussion and reflection (blog, verbal and in writing).
In a recent “History of Multimedia” class at MCU all the students were undergraduate digital media majors, but my class was about critical/historical studies.  Normally the students would research and write a conventional research paper and I would lecture all the time.  I find that approach to be constricting and it limits self-reflection, expression and deep learning, plus it exceeds the attention span of most students.  I try to teach in an experiential and integrated way so it is different than the norm—reluctantly tolerated by old-fashioned thinkers.
At MCU, each student applied individual creative skills in digital media and design to build a web-based timeline of communication history, from about the Gutenberg press forward (using (posted on wordpress.com).  Students built new data and knowledge about the history of multimedia, then integrate creative/tech kills (photoshop and other programs and skills) and demonstrate their scholarly knowledge.  Students commented on their deeper learning and retention of the historical themes, persona and events throughout the project.  It was a successful project that integrates scholarly research, writing and creative expression.
In Bangkok, at the Institute for International Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University–most recently I was teaching two courses–Principles of Multimedia Writing and a TV Production.  Each year as I have returned for the past five years, my classes are a different mix of students from around the world.  Many of the students take both units (about 15 total) at the same time—so I have many of the students all day, every day for a specified period of time.  I also try to integrate the two classes to a useful degree but am mindful that each course has its specific focus.
In the writing course, the students did interviews with a person of their choosing.  The focus was to interview someone “who makes the world a better place.”  Students prepared one open question (Grounded theory, Glaser) and recorded the interview with their phones (aiming for best results, although no equipment is made available by the university).  Students produced an interview/response to the open-ended question, transcribed the interview, re-interviewed and expanded the scope of the inquiry, re-transcribed and presented an edited audio podcast that was posted on the WP free website they built for the class.  It was very interesting and well received by students because of their integration of practice, theory and professionalism.  All this is in an ESL context and took about three weeks in total.
In the TV production class—again we have no university equipment—I focused the learning about the visualization/story board/production/editing of entirely visual (silent) process and interaction sequences.
NOTE; I recommended (not compelled) that the interviewee could be the on-camera person for the recorded process and interaction sequences (integration). Most students positively responded to that suggestion and were happy with their results.  Students were using phone cameras to shoot video and laptops to edit silent sequences—they learned to do the whole production process with their imagination, a pencil and paper, their mobile phones and free software on their laptops, all uploaded to their free WP site for that purpose.
Ultimately, students in the TV class would edit and integrate the audio interview (from the other class) and use some or all of that audio as voice over in the visual project/work in the production class (creative and skills integration).
We ended up with very good and inspiring works in both classes in Thailand and at MCU—creative and informed/integrated work.  Students seemed to appreciate this kind of learning and I believe it effectively encourages praxis and reflection.

Teaching an online course

In Bangkok, at the Institute for International Studies at Ramkhamhaeng University, I am trying to integrate online learning in my classroom teaching.  This integration is a challenge on several levels, but is effective and worthwhile.  My ability and success are a work in progress, but my intention is to apply experiential and integrate learning theory in my teaching, whether it is online or in the classroom.

This is a good article about developing and teaching an online course.

Mozart, Brahms and Duke Ellington

EVIDENCE OF ELLINGTON’s GENIUS WITH WIND INSTRUMENTS

LISTEN: THE MOOCHE

One of the most wise and effective teachers I ever had was Maestro Mehli Mehta.  Maestro Mehta said very wise things most of the time, but this one gem was particularly great.  He said “there are three great composers for wind instruments.  Mozart (no dispute), Brahms (true, no dispute), and Duke Ellington (absolutely true!)!

I’ve come to realize over the years that Stravinsky could possibly be on that list too, but Ellington is truly masterful in achieving a celestial sound particularly with winds.

Mehli probably got to hear Duke and his band back in London or NYC, live in concert in Harlem?  I always thought it was the highest compliment I ever heard Mr. Mehta give another mortal—Ellington was given holy status by Mehta—equal status with Mozart and Brahms!  That is an honorable place in the Mehta-view of history.

I am discovering the freedom and spontaneity of Ellington’s music as I binge listen to all 15 hours of my Ellington playlist.

Returning home in Bangkok

Today I appreciated the notion of home in a deeper way.  I am in Bangkok at this time.  When I come home to Bangkok for teaching at Ramkhamhaeng University my home away from home is SC Park Hotel in Bangkok.  It is located in the heart of massive urban sprawl with an interesting presence of many Thai Muslims in the local community of hurrying Buddhists.  But all religions step aside for the crass and continuous commercialization palpable in this deep city.  Plastic christmas trees with fake santas and muzak snowflakes are everywhere these days in shopping-crazed Bangkok.

Finding a casual and serene place to stay that prioritizes peace and quiet is and has always been my goal.  The Atlanta is near all the great Arabic restaurants in Bangkok, and The Atlanta is great and affordable too but it is way too far away from the University.  SC Park has a peaceful vibe, an excellent restaurant but no bar.  There is a calm pool with very nice open garden that clouds the noise.  This hotel is close to the Institute for International Studies where I am teaching.  Lots of pros and a few cons.  But I digress.  I ventured and strayed away from home.  I stayed out of curiosity at a different hotel this time.  A fine looking place from the exterior, a good location, and an appealing online presence.  I imagined an even better situation so I bought the lotto ticket and it failed.

After a fitful night of restless sleep on a peculiarly odiferous pillow and a poor to mediocre breakfast offering, I worried and wondered if I had made a mistake in my adventure away from home.  Then I noticed details as I walked through the dark hallways and corners.  Soon thereafter I was convinced to return my Bangkok home for the same price but an exponentially greater feeling of contentment and productivity.  It’s all in the details.  I feel better now.

Is America declining?

Is America declining?  This is a question that we are compelled to consider.

READ HERE

According to the Brookings Institution, here are the arguments in favor of America as a place of positive growth, not decline:

  1. First of all, it is difficult to determine at present whether the difficulties faced by the United States during and after the international financial crisis will be long-term or not.
  2. Second, the stability and influence of the American political system, ideology, and value concepts have indeed been greatly affected in the 21st century, with the impact of two wars, high consumption, and a major financial crisis.
  3. Third, the United States remains the world leader in scientific and technical strength but there has been no change in the strength, status, and influence of the American capability for innovation and its global competitive power. In science and technology, higher education, culture of innovation, military strength, world politics, and security, the United States is still ahead of the rest of the world. According to recent statistics,
  4. Fourth, it is evident that American companies remain very competitive on a micro level, just as the economy as a whole is on a macro level. In recent years, even though the U.S. economy was not performing very well, far more companies in the global top 500 came from the United States than from any other.
  5. Fifth, the advantages of the United States are even more obvious in terms of soft power. No other countries in the world, including Europe and Japan, can compete with the United States or be on the same level as the United States in terms of soft power. Both the financial crisis and the lack of strength in the economic recovery after the crisis so far have not made the United States lose its fundamental advantages in hard power and soft power. The United States is still the most powerful and the most influential country in the world, and it is also the only superpower in the world.
  6. The current difficulties facing the United States may last a while, or they may be resolved in the next few months or years. Either way, no signs of overall and fundamental decline in the United States have yet emerged, to say nothing of an “irreversible decline.

There are several arguments that America is in decline.

One major problem facing the United States is the problem concerning the capability and competitive power of its manufacturing industry. The percentage of the United States’s share of global manufacturing has dropped over the last several decades, and has lost its leading position in some fields.

A second problem is the problem concerning the health, stability, and quality of relevant service industries, such as finance. The United States has already become a post-industrial economy and society. The main part of its economy is the service sector.

A third problem is the problem of wealth and income distribution and sustainable development. \

Since 1980, the actual income of ordinary workers in the United States, including the middle class, did not increase even though the economy was growing and profits were increasing during the same time period. It seems that the fruits of economic development were carved up by a few capitalists and entrepreneurs. Consequently, society in the United States has become more unbalanced, and the gap between rich and poor has been seriously enlarged, a trend which for many was illustrated during the recent financial crisis, when a few senior executives from some companies with huge losses were awarded “bonuses” that were as high as several millions or tens of millions of dollars.

A fourth problem is the problem of fiscal and trade deficits. The government, Congress, Federal Reserve System, and all walks of life in the United States have realized that the huge fiscal and trade deficits are a serious problem that affects the country’s economic development. In 2010, the fiscal deficit in the United States was US$1.3 trillion, or roughly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and equivalent to 35 percent of government outlays that year.[3] Based on international standards and compared to the figures of relevant developed countries, such as Japan, this number is not the highest, and may not even be too high.

A fifth problem concerns military spending and international strategy. Just as debt service takes a large share of U.S. government spending, so does spending on military affairs, foreign wars, and foreign interference.

A sixth problem is the problem of population size and structure.

The rise and development of China and India in the last several decades has once again proven to the world that a certain size of population is still one of the basic factors for productivity and economic development. At the same time, the experiences across the whole world also have proven that population growth alone cannot generate positive effects for economic development either. Instead, it should also be accompanied by improvement of population quality at the same time, including education, skills, income, and consumption. In that case, population growth can generate active effects for economic development.

A seventh problem is the problem of social culture and value concepts.

Relevant social movements that started to appear in the 1960s in the United States, such as the anti-war movement, human rights movement, hippies, and sexual liberation, not only brought active progress in relevant areas, such as democracy, freedom, and human rights, but also caused many social problems, including the expansion of personal desires and power consciousness, and a decline in a sense of duty among parts of society; many feel that discipline has become lax, and the will of the people to learn new things and work hard has become weaker (it should be noted that this trend is lamented in a number of countries, not just the United States). Work, learning, efficiency, capabilities, and skills have dropped, and American students are falling behind their counterparts in many countries on certain standardized tests.[8] Also, the service level of the service sector has dropped, efficiency is not high in certain fields and services, and the competitive power of some areas in society is not strong enough. All of these are directly related to people’s cultural concepts and values.

What are FOUR SECTORS of the economy?

What is the service sector?

Benjamin Franklin’s 13 steps to moral perfection (based on an 18th century concept of self that is no longer an ontological precept in our skeptical times)

One of my all-time heroes, Benjamin Franklin, was 20 when he designed a list of 13 virtues that he felt could lead him to moral perfection.

This is an interesting read about Franklin’s virtues.  CLICK HERE

Personally, I appreciated the usefulness of the chart illustrating Franklin’s virtues in comparison with Bushido and Aristotelean virtues.

I think we have given up on the Enlightenment ideal of moral perfection, but at least it’s worth some consideration!  Here’s the list:

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

 

Konnakkol Music

TO AM304 Students

This week some of you expressed interest in the music that was being played before class.

It is called Konnakkol and the recording I played was from the Karnataka College of Percussion.  I will try to play more examples of the College’s recordings in the future.

If you want to know more about Konnakkol then be sure to click here and here

Is there a way to include Konnakkol as a form of multimedia?

Have a pleasant weekend.

My reflections on Monsanto, the havoc and the rumors

Recently I have been reflecting deeply about my previous work experience many years ago for the giant corporation called Monsanto.  In 1994, a personal time of underemployment and high risk taking by myself, I found a way to be paid for making an educational and promotional documentary in the mountains of central Mindanao island in the Philippines.  For me, at that time, this was a good thing and I was happy it was happening.  My job was to produce a documentary about the herbicide, Roundup, as it was being used in a commercial reforestation project in Bukidnon province in the southern Philippines.  I availed of scholarly and scientific research they gave me at the time (1994) to develop a creative short video for the sales and promotion purposes of Monsanto’s offices in Singapore.

Fast forward to now–Now that the current lawsuit is happening against Monsanto and I am able to see other perspectives and information, I am deeply concerned about the weakened ethics of my previous professional work for that company.  I can’t undo the past but I can reflect upon its meaning so that I can learn, reflect and change.  I don’t know right now what is the right answer or most wise response, but I am questioning what happened and what I did at the time, albeit unknowingly..

I was convinced in 1994 that it was OK to use Roundup in commercial forestry and other agro–businesses, so I wrote and produced a good video for them at a bargain rate because I believed in the product and its purpose, plus I wanted to work on location in Mindanao.  No other video producer in their right mind would venture into Bukidnon as I did at the time.  I took my gear and gladly ventured there.  Monsanto paid me to live my dreams.

I worked on the Monsanto project in 1994.  I never imagined Roundup in a retail or household setting and to this day I remain convinced that glyphosate, when used in moderation, is basically OK for its primary purposes in the killing of weeds.  I don’t believe it causes an unreasonable risk beyond what any other chemical poison would pose.  I wouldn’t drink or inhale the stuff but there were rumors that it would be safe to do so.  Regardless of rumors, it is a weed killer and not a beverage.  There is a gap in my understanding of the current case against Monsanto.and how that 289 million dollar amount was arrived, but I understand the threshold was to prove that Roundup was a contributing factor.  They guy describes it blowing in his face as part of his job–his employer should be crucified!.

In the current case it sounds like a typical example of labor exploitation by government and corporate entities, where employers subject workers to unsafe or uncontrolled risks.

I need to post this article for my future reference

https://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/monsantos-good-bad-pr-problem/

Is Gross National Happiness a form of GDP?

I am learning about Gross National Happiness as the guiding philosophy of Bhutan, so that search probably led me to this amazing long term chart of GDP.  I guess we in the USA are on an upward trajectory and nearing highs in terms of GDP.  What does GNH have to do with GDP?  Is this the end, are we at a high or top?  Just like happy folks will do, please enjoy the happy days of GDP highs while it lasts.

180726082100-chart-state-of-the-economy-gdp-growth-780x439.jpg

My estimate is for a jump to the upside over time and we will experience all new highs, in terms of GDP.

In the West we equate rise of GDP in terms of happiness.  But I am learning and interested in Gross National Happiness which is a different measure.  I suppose a strong GDP makes me happy in some ways.  It’s good to be happy. So GNH and GDP are symbiotically related.

 

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