Tuesday 11/1/2011

Tuesday 11/1/2011

Started the day with a meeting with my mentor teacher Dan D. Talked about strategizing other internship opportunities for our students. Realized that getting to know the gatekeepers for a decision-maker that can help an internship happen or not was key. I’ve been looking at LinkedIn trying to get contacts to gaming companies. I’m not convinced that paying LinkedIn for the right to send In-Mails will be all that effective, but then again people who get In-Mails must have credibility since they have paid to send those mails. Tough. Contacting Valve through e-mail-sending form on their web site isn’t really working, or at least it hasn’t worked yet.

At 10:45am we had an internship setup meeting with my student T., and his advisor D., and Dan D. This means that I (and Dan D.) are officially doing a project with this student on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Of course, the challenge also extends to the Mondays and Fridays, because he is like a teacher’s assistant. Look for him in the video of our class form 10/31.

At 11:15am I met with A., one of our Vista/Americorps staff at the school to go over a questionnaire results that we are analyzing. We had already done some cross-tabulations, and frequency (histogram), so now we looked at results by advisor (two per level) and then by level. Saw some interesting trends that A. could follow up on.

From 1:00-2:00 I was working with a couple of students, M. and D. who weren’t initially interested in improving their typing but who got very interested once I put some money on the line (for a combination of words-per-minute, and accuracy). The students worked (practiced) diligently, or so I thought until I got some very excited cries from their computer lab. When I went in I saw two very happy students and a computer screen that showed 42 WPM and 100% accuracy. I shelled out some cash and issued a couple of IOUs. To me, these students were incredibly motivated for at least an hour to “solve” the problem of the typing test. Yes, they had cheated, but they had also solved a problem. Yes, they are cheating themselves out of really being able to touch type. Yes, I have also learned a valuable lesson about issuing a reward, and demanding performance, i.e. verifiability. But the real confirmation was that for simple tasks, monetary rewards can be effective, but for more creative goals and problems that require thinking outside of the box, then monetary rewards are actually counter-productive (Dan Pink, TED talk on motivation, need link).

From 2:15-4:00 was the staff meeting where we did a mock exhibition. It was useful to see some stock questions that get asked and how they are generally structured. I have more insight now to the exhibition I had attended last year for a student who was a junior then, is now a senior.

Reflection: If I can pull of a computer science/programming course, then students will have entrée to a bunch of mathematics, science and engineering. Knowing computer programming will stand them in good stead in our technological society. When I think back to my experience as a freshman/sophomore (1982-1983), I was very much enamored with computers, and knew that they were key to the future. That was when we were using Apple //e and 5.25in floppy disks. (Thank you Steve Jobs!) So when I think of today’s middle schoolers, or freshman, or sophomores, I am hopeful, there is much to learn, but even more help along the way. Let’s get cracking…

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  • Dan  On November 2, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Interesting post. It’ll be interesting to see what momentum intro programming will develop!

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