Sunday, August 14, 2011

GAME Plan Reflection

When I first sat down to develop a GAME plan, I was unsure as to how it would impact my teaching. I developed some personal goals aimed at student learning and professional growth. I learned how important it is to take those goals and put them into action. I also realized that there are many intricate details that may be missed when turning a goal into an action, so monitoring and evaluating is essential for a complete plan.
The GAME plan is a great tool to use to organize my ideas as a teacher, but also the goals of my students in class. I am working to design a way that students can develop GAME plans for each of my classes. I want them to establish goals aimed at their learning in class, whether it is related to specific content or grades.
One of the areas that I will make adjustments to in my practice is where and when I implement technology. I need to carefully look at the lessons that I am teaching and use the tools available to me when they will benefit the learning of the content. With that being said, there are not many lessons that I teach that would not benefit from the use of technology. This is where I need to be careful and not over do it. I want my lessons to be able to teach content to my students, as well as teach them additional skills that will benefit them in the future.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monitoring My GAME Plan

After the development of goals and actions, it is time to monitor the progress of my GAME plan. This allows me to evaluate resources that I have found to determine if they will provide the necessary information that I need. The results will assist me in modifying my action plan if necessary.
Finding real-world issues related to science has been fairly easy because some aspect of science is all around us. I have created a folder that includes information found from newspapers, magazines, or ideas that I write down from the news. My classmates have provided me with multiple websites that have enabled me to not only locate ideas, but link to other websites that provide more information. I have created a blog for my classroom, yet it is a blank slate at this point with nothing more than a title. As far as the progress on my technology committee, it is at a standstill due to summer vacation. I do have one colleague that said he would be on the committee as long as there are detailed expectations for the members. Creating this sort of list is something that I need to add to my action plan. I also need to develop a presentation for the administration for approval of this committee. I have not yet created a survey for the students on survey monkey. One of the questions that I would have for this action is how exactly does this work? This is something that I will have to create with the technology personnel at the school. I will need to develop a plan of action as to how each student will take the survey.  I do not teach every student in the school so I will need the assistance of other teachers to complete this task.
As I continue to progress with my action plan, I realize that it is definitely a living document. As I created my goals and developed my action plan, there were key details that I did not even consider until reaching the stage of monitoring. I have learned that communication and collaboration is key in order for me to successfully achieve all of my goals. The questions that arise as I monitor my plans relate to the unknown. Will the students be engaged in the classroom blog? Will they provide input related to technology use in the school on their survey? Will the teachers jump on board and become a part of our technological world? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Carrying Out My GAME Plan

An integral part of the GAME plan is the actions taken to achieve goals that have been developed.  In order to put my plans in action, I must evaluate resources that would be necessary to make that possible.  As I continue to strengthen my skills, I must take a look at the progress that is being made toward achieving my goal. My GAME plans are developed from indicators in the NETS-T. 

Facilitating and Inspiring Student Learning and Creativity
One action plan is to find real world issues in the area of science. In order to do this, I will use the internet to research various issues within the state or around the world. There are experts on specific topics that can be found through this research that I can communicate with to find more information. Communication with colleagues, or classmates, will open the door for sharing resources and ideas. Through communication in the previous blogs, I have been introduced to some strong resources that I can further explore. Another piece of this action plan is enabling students to make personal connections to their learning.  Speaking to the students, and members of the community, will provide a basis for what students want to know and the background of the community they live in. I will be exploring different ways for students to collaborate and communicate online. I currently have a personal website that lists assignments for the week and any upcoming projects. I have an e-mail address that is accessible for all students and their parents. I have created wikis in the past, but I am currently working to create a classroom blog that can be used for each class that I teach.

Engaging in Professional Growth and Leadership
My action plan is to develop a technology committee in my school that not only includes teachers that share ideas, but students who share what and how they would like to learn using technology. The main resource for this action is teachers. I must find a way to get teachers more involved when it comes to sharing their ideas with each other. Vicki Davis said that if a teacher teaches a technology skill in one classroom, then another teacher should not have to teach that skill again (Laureate Education, 2010). Although I do somewhat believe this to be true, I also think that teachers should be more willing to try to implement programs that others have taught into their own curriculum. This would not only benefit the students in perfecting their skills, but improve the instructional strategies and technology implementation in the classroom. Information from students may be a little more difficult to obtain, but I could get a large amount of input by creating a survey for students using survey monkey online.  I was previously a member of a tech committee in our school, but there was not a detailed list of objectives for the group and it fizzled. I have already been in contact with a colleague to brainstorm ideas on how we can make this type of committee useful for the school.

References
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program six: Meeting Students’ Needs With Technology, Part 2 [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

GAME Plan

It is important to have confidence as a teacher when implementing technology into your instruction. One way to strengthen this is to outline goals, determine what actions will be taken to achieve those goals, monitor progress and evaluate the achievement of the goals.  I will be creating a GAME plan for two indicators in the NETS-T.

GAME plan for facilitating and inspiring student learning and creativity.
Goals
Develop lesson plans that engage students to explore and solve real-world issues using digital tools. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools. Document lesson plans in digital format so they can be easily reviewed and revised.
Actions
One action that must be taken is research to find real-world issues in the area of science. It is important to narrow topics down so that they are manageable for my high school students. They must also be problems that students can make personal connections to. I will be exploring different ways for students to collaborate, such as creating a blog, wiki, or other communication tools. I will create a template for my lessons to be used in planning.
Monitor
I will monitor my progress by establishing timelines. The goal will be to evaluate lessons a month prior to it being taught. This will allow me time to develop a project, if it corresponds to the particular objectives of the lesson. After completion of the lesson, I will reflect on the pros and cons and make changed where needed.
Evaluate
The way to evaluate how well I have achieved my goals is to take a look at student achievement obtained from these new lessons. Technology must be implemented as a way to enrich the content. If it engages students to solve the real-world problems that I have incorporated into each lesson, as well as promoting their collaborative skills, them my goal will be achieved.

GAME plan for engaging in professional growth and leadership.
Goals
Participate in local communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
Actions
Develop a technology committee in my school that not only includes teachers that share ideas, but students who share what and how they would like to learn using technology. I would like to be able to develop resources that can be shared by all teachers as a way to implement new technology tools.
Monitor
One way to monitor the actions is to have teachers share their new instructional ideas with the technology committee. This can easily be done through e-mail, pointing out the pros and cons of the tool. This can be evaluated by the committee and published for all teachers.
Evaluate
One way to evaluate this committee is to look at how students are performing in the classroom due to the new instructional strategies. To get an accurate outlook on achievement, all teachers must be willing to implement the resources put together by students and the technology committee

By implementing a GAME plan in areas that I feel I have weakness, I can build confidence implementing technology in the classroom. As I work to achieve these goals, it is important to consult with others for input. This can be students or other teachers. The ultimate achievement is improving my effectiveness so that I can provide students with skills that will benefit them in the future.

References
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program one: Promoting self directed learning with technology [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program three: Enriching Content Area Learning Experiences With Technology, Part 1 [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reflecting on Technology in Instruction

From day one of this course, my personal theory of learning has revolved around the idea of incorporating a combination of various instructional strategies and learning theories in order to accommodate all students. I do not see that theory changing in the near future. The importance of differentiated instruction in the classroom becomes evident as teachers are challenged with multiple learning styles daily.
There are specific portions of my learning theory that I have modified as a result of learning in this course. One involves appropriate reaction as a result of actions by the students. Developing an understanding of the student as an individual has helped in many of these instances.  Many of my students come from a difficult home life and having to endure an adult yelling at them for something they have done wrong is not out of the ordinary in many circumstances.  Students will become defensive in this situation and many times argumentative.  I have focused on maintaining a calm position when dealing with students that do not always follow the rules or expectations of the classroom. When a student excels in the classroom, I make a point to give them specific praise in regards to their job well done. Another area that I have been faced with is giving students the opportunity to make their own personal connections to learning. I attempted to have students create pneumonic devices to help them remember more difficult concepts.  I was irritated when they just wanted to use the one that I had created rather than their own.  I felt this was a sign of laziness in the classroom.  I have since taken the position that as long as they are using something to help connect their learning, whether personal or borrowed, they are using techniques that will help them retain information more effectively.
This course has allowed me to deepen my knowledge in relation to learning theories and educational technologies. Educational technology is the use of resources or processes that facilitate learning (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). The key to technology use is determining how it can help accomplish our educational goals (Weiss, 2000). The use of technology can incorporate multiple intelligences in one well developed lesson. Visual learning strategies are enhanced with the use of technology, assisting students to make sense of complex information (O'Bannon, Puckett, & Rakes, 2006).
One important thing that I take away from this class is the difference between using technology for instruction compared to using it for learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). As educators, we must determine how we can use different tools to benefit the student. An immediate adjustment I can make in my classroom is how I present my lecture notes.  Creating a PowerPoint with strictly images and then talking about those images will add a new experience to the boring method of lecture. I am also going to incorporate more interactive experiences for my students that allow them to use the SmartBoard the way it was intended. This will create a more student centered classroom.
            Throughout this course I have implemented new technology tools in my classroom.  We have created wikis, PowerPoints, concept maps, and experienced virtual environments.  I would like to go a step further and use a movie maker and publisher program for projects that I have planned in class.  Students in my freshmen transition class research individuals that have been affected by hate crimes.  I am going to have them create a short movie that displays the trials and tribulations that their person has faced in life.  Another tool that I will use with the same students is a publisher program that will enable them to create brochures for a multicultural awareness campaign that they will be creating.  I would also like to see them create their own commercials for their campaign.  These experiences will enable them to create artifacts that can be viewed by their classmates. This will also support skills that they may need later in life, whether it is empathy for people of diversity or tools for the workplace.
            One of my long term goals regarding technology integration is focused on making sure that my classroom is student centered.  Although I do not feel that I can completely go away from a lecture style, I am going to work on more images and less text. I would like to implement more project based learning that will allow students to be more engaged in their learning. This will also give them the opportunity to create their own meaning of the content being discussed. Another goal I have is to not get caught up in the fascination of technology.  When using new tools, I have to be sure that I am still focused on the content being taught. Creating a lesson that incorporates technology is beneficial to students when it assists them in understanding their learning experience.  According to Kevin Jarrett, the topic is the key and not the tool that is being used (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  There is a wide variety of tools that can be used in the classroom, but the choice should be made with an objective in mind.  As educators, it is imperative that we become facilitators in the classroom and engage our students in their learning.  They are building connections and personal experiences that will expand their level of knowledge for the future.
References
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program thirteen. Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.).
Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
O'Bannon, B., Puckett, K., & Rakes, G. (2006). Using technology to support visual learning strategies. Computers in the Schools, 23(1/2), 125–137.
Weiss, R. (2000). Howard Gardner talks about technology. Training & Development, 54(9), 52.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cooperative Learning

According to Dr. Michael Orey, social constructivism involves students constructing artifacts as a result of communication with others (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). An important component of the social learning theory is cooperative learning. Through cooperative learning, students are able to share their ideas with classmates and construct meaning to the material presented in the classroom. The meaning to the content is affected by the social interpretation of the topic (Orey, 2001). Students will create meaning based on their backgrounds, personal connections, and personal experiences. These differences will have a strong impact on the development of knowledge and can lead to a deeper understanding of the content that has been presented (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).
In order for collaboration strategies to be successful, it is important that teachers take the time to group students using a variety of criteria. This will be directly related to the task that the students must complete. Groups must be kept at a manageable size so that each student has a responsibility for a particular task (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). As well as efficient grouping, teachers must focus on detailed expectations and assessment. Tasks should be focused toward a particular learning standard. Students should be assessed for individual contributions as well as the overall group presentation. Collaborative learning also creates an opportunity for peer teaching.
Technology can provide another aspect to cooperative learning. Through the use of multimedia, such as creating a video, there are many roles that must be filled.  Proper grouping can fill those roles with students that are strong in a particular area.  The strengths are then shared among peers for further understanding, improving a weakness that a different student may have. Technology allows students to create artifacts that can be shared on the web. This allows students to not only communicate in the classroom, but from their home. They can collaborate online with classmates, or venture out to collaborate with students and experts worldwide. Technology opens the door for teachers to quickly be able to share information with their students. This type of course management provides students with access to shared resources and facilitates online discussions (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). Discussions can take place in a chat room or through more advanced communication software such as Skype.
Cooperative learning is a component of social learning that is necessary for this strategy to be successful. As students work socially with peers, they develop meanings that they may not have created by thinking on their own.  This expands the knowledge base of the student, and creates new connections and experiences that can be used in future learning.
References
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program eight. Social learning theories [Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Millennium Park



This is a presentation that I will be using to introduce Millennium Park during an environmental unit on parks and open spaces. This is also a preview for our freshman class before they actually travel to Chicago and visit the park.
http://voicethread.com/share/1891348/

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Constructivism in Practice

Dr. Orey defines constructivism as “a theory of knowledge stating that each individual actively constructs his or her own meaning (Laureate Education, Inc. , 2010). The theory of learning that corresponds to this would be constructionism. An interpretation of constructionism is that “people learn by actively constructing new knowledge, rather than by having information "poured" into their heads (Thurmond, 1999). The most effective strategy of this type of learning is for students to create actual artifacts that can be shared with peers.  This sharing leads to collaboration on particular topics and can be a beneficial resource when engaging in problem and project-based learning, such as generating and testing hypotheses.

As a science teacher, experience working with hypotheses is common. The most familiar task that my students have encountered is experimental inquiry.  Through this process, students make observations and generate questions relative to their observations.  From here they devise experiments that are designed to prove the question that they have created. The experiments that the students perform can at times provide large amounts of data.  It is challenging for a student to understand how to interpret data and provide conclusions related to their experiment.  In keeping with the constructivist theory, students will experience success in problem-based learning if they can create artifacts. 

Technology can be the necessary tool to create these artifacts. Through the use of spreadsheets, students can interpret data and create nonlinguistic representations of their findings. Because science experimentation involves multiple trials, the use of technology allows students to concentrate more on the process of proving their hypothesis, rather than the vast amount of data that they have recorded. The ability to share the graphics that are developed from their data gives students the opportunity to collaborate with others in the classroom or on the web.  As students develop detailed conclusions to communicate their findings, they are engaged in their learning and experience further retention of the subject matter (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). This retention helps to develop personal connections as students increase their schema.

References
Department of Educational Technology, Boise State University. (2005). Designing your project. Retrieved

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program seven. Constructionist and
constructivist learning theories [Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.
Baltimore, MD: Author.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Thurmond, AnnMarie. (1999) Constructivism and constructionism.  Retrieved from http://online.sfsu.edu/~foreman/itec800/finalprojects/annmariethurmond/home.html.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cognitivism in Practice

Cognitive learning involves the mind processing various types of information. Dr. Orey describes this information processing model in four steps: sensory input of information, short term memory, rehearsal, and long term memory (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). Input of information is best done through the use of multiple senses because this incorporates the different learning levels of our students. It is important to remember that a large amount of information can be challenging to understand.  Advance organizers can assist students in their learning. Concept mapping is one example of this.  It gives learners a chance to visualize ideas and make connections between them.

One skill that can help students process their information is efficient summarizing and notetaking. Students often feel that every piece of information should be written down.  It is important that they learn how to effectively delete information that is not necessary.  By doing this, students can summarize information that is rather lengthy, and provide themselves with more efficient notes. This skill can be taught and reinforced with the help of teacher prepared notes, outlines, or teacher questions that focus on the important elements of the lesson. The use wikis or blogs opens the door for collaboration between students. They can communicate amongst each other and contribute to the learning of their peers.

The ultimate goal of the information processing model is to develop the long term memory of our students. To obtain this, reinforcement of concepts is critical.  The use of cues focuses on the ideas that students will be learning.  Questioning students will help to initiate their memory and provide access to prior knowledge that may be helpful when understanding new topics. Combining the two strategies is helpful when developing short term and long term memory.

In order to teach for understanding, teachers must teach the basic skills of summarizing and notetaking.  By providing cues and questions, students are able to synthesize the information they have learned and connect it to what they will be learning. The more we can create connections for our students, the easier it is for concepts to become part of their long term memory. Virtual field trips provide another method for connecting students to their learning. By having the opportunity to visualize an idea, more concrete memories are developed. Cognitive learning tools will not only enhance summaries and notes, but will connect students to their learning.

References
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program five. Cognitive learning theory
[Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program six. Spotlight on technology:
Virtual field trips [Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Behaviorism in Practice

Edward Thorndike called it the stimulus-response theory of learning. Skinner labeled it operant conditioning. Still others refer to it as the theory of behaviorism.  No matter what name you choose to use, the conditions are the same: engage a learner in a concept, repeat the concept in various forms, and positively reinforce students when objectives are obtained (Smith, 1999).

Introducing a new concept, and having students retain that information, can be challenging for teachers. The variation of learning styles and levels in the classroom can increase the difficulty of successful retention.  According to Marzano, “students need about 24 practice sessions with a skill in order to achieve 80% competency (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). With this in mind, it is evident that a student’s success is based on the amount of time spent connecting back to the initial concept.  A coach always emphasizes that practice makes perfect.  A teacher should base their emphasis on the fact that practice makes permanent.  Practice trains the brain to connect this knowledge to future concepts.

Teachers must provide time for students to apply what they have learned.  This practice can be obtained in various ways.  The traditional homework assignment gives students the opportunity to practice what they have learned independently. Allowing time in class to begin homework assignments allows teachers to monitor the understanding of their students. This initial feedback can limit any immediate misunderstandings that a student may have.  To accommodate the different styles of learning, teachers must build homework assignments that fit the needs of each individual, while still working to achieve the established goals of the lesson. Incorporating collaborative work sessions with specific group structure can accommodate the special needs of various students.

Technology is a tool that can enhance skills by implementing various styles of practice.  The internet has a variety of resources that accommodate multiple disciplines.  This can be found in a gaming format, tutorial sessions, interactive simulations, or a set of drills, such as math equations.  The benefit of using these sources is the immediate feedback that is given to a student.  The other benefit is that students can continue to use this practice outside of the classroom, and it engages them in media tools that they are familiar with. This familiarity to technology engages students in their learning and motivates them to continue practicing their skills. Other forms of practice that technology assists with are student projects. Research and presentation are ways for students to continue to apply the concepts that they have learned.

With any sort of practice comes reinforcement of learning. This reinforcement is a critical component to successful and accurate retention.  Teachers are faced with many responsibilities that sometimes postpone the immediate feedback given on homework assignments. Technology minimizes this delay. The quicker a student is able to see their success, the easier it is for them to begin to retain the new concept. The theory of behaviorism is a strategy that can be implemented by every teacher, not just for classroom management, but as a way to achieve successful retention in learning.

References

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reflecting on the Impact of Technology

Technology skills are no longer the wave of the future.  They are the norm of the present and can be the deciding factor of success in higher education or the workforce.  The demands on education have increased in the world of Web 2.0.  Technology surrounds our students daily.  We must take time to advance our technological abilities, as well as find ways to engage our students and integrate these tools in the classroom.  We must not forget that our leadership must extend beyond the classroom as we work to break down the barriers administrators have placed on our education system.  Teachers need the support and the tools to teach 21st century skills.  We must work together to uncover the possibilities that technology holds for our future in education. Take a look at my journey as I begin to understand the impact of technology on education, work, and society.


video

The journey through this course has been challenging, but it has given me the opportunity to reflect on my initial skills and practices regarding technology in the classroom. There are multiple answers that have changed with completion of this course.  The teaching practice from which I have seen the most improvement deals with learning goals.  I have enabled students to take responsibility of their own learning by creating a wiki project with specific deadlines and expectations.  As a teacher leader, I have implemented the use of technology in my classroom.  This use will be shared with colleagues as a way to spark their interest in various media tools. I always felt that I could do more with technology in the classroom, and this course has opened those doors.

References
Jackson, Camille. (2011). Your students love social media. Teaching Tolerance, 39, 38-41.
Koenig, Darlene. (2011). Social media in the schoolhouse. Teaching Tolerance, 39, 42-45.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Programs 1-23. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
November, A. (2007). Banning student “containers.” Technology & Learning. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/7468

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Profiling the Students of Today

Teaching is not only lesson plans and assessments. A large portion of time is spent becoming familiar with the learning styles of our students as a way to base our instruction. No matter what subject area you teach, it is important to introduce skills that are going to benefit the students and allow them to become productive citizens. A small survey of freshmen students has confirmed that technology is an everyday use in their lives. They have admitted to spending hours of time on their cell phones, computers, IPods, and various gaming systems. They have expressed their wish to use some of these tools in the classroom, and express that most are prohibited. Why do school systems continue to remove the media that students are most familiar with?

Students today are multitaskers and need a fast pace environment in order to stay engaged in the classroom. It is our responsibility as educators “to explore the power of these tools” (November, 2007), and use them in ways that motivate and engage our students. Students come to our classrooms ready to learn, but are bored by the use of old tools that teachers continue to use (Laureate, 2010). So what can we do to engage our students? I disagree with the idea that students do not want to learn. I believe they want to use the tools they are most familiar with and mesh them with their education. These tools include technology and a wealth of media. Is this a distraction or the wave of the future? I am convinced that, as educators, it is time to ride the wave and engage our students by intertwining entertainment and education.

Profiling Students: A podcast discussing students and technology.

References
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 16: Millenial learning styles. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

November, A. (2007). Banning student “containers.” Technology & Learning. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/7468

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has established an informative website that focuses on 21st century readiness skills for our students.  My initial reaction to the site was disbelief. Without the requirement to visit this website, I feel as though I may have never uncovered such a valuable resource.  I am left to wonder if I am preparing my students for future work environments as efficiently as I should.  As I browse through the headings, the importance of this site and the development of essential 21st century skills become more evident.

Being an educator today carries with it more expectations for the development of our students.  Dr. Dede discussed how problems today are much more complicated and it takes a group of people with specialties in multiple areas to devise complete answers (Laureate, 2010).  The problem that is seen throughout education is the levels at which our students are entering the workplace.  They are not equipped with skills that will allow them to adapt to changes that are being made, especially in technology.  Many times the understanding behind education is that if a student can read, write and be proficient in math, then they will be successful in the workplace.  The news from this website taught me otherwise.  The core subjects are still a necessary part of education, but the 21st century skills are focused toward developing a well rounded person.  I was surprised at the inclusion of learning, thinking, and life skills. I was amazed that global awareness and health and wellness were included as significant areas critical to success of our students.  As an educator in Illinois, I discovered that the Illinois State Board of Education is currently working to revise state assessments to include 21st century readiness.  With that in mind, it is essential for me to look at my current practices in the classroom, and develop methods that will increase these skills in all of my students.

Although I agree that our students need to be ready for the workplace and to be citizens in their community, I disagree with the statement that “a profound gap exists between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for success in their communities and workplaces” (http://www.p21.org/). I would like to think that I could speak for all teachers when I say that our goal in education is to prepare our students for life after graduation to the best of our abilities.  Personally, I work hard to implement lessons that do more than just teach the concept of science.  Implementing group activities teaches our students to work in teams as they would in the workplace.  Presentations in class increase communication skills. The inclusion of real world events and class work that incorporates critical thinking is something that is performed repeatedly.  I feel that teachers are doing what they can, with the resources they have been provided, to prepare their students for the real world. 

Another disagreement I have in regards to this site deals with high school reform.  A statement is made that America is struggling “to make high school education rigorous, meaningful and relevant once again” (http://www.p21.org/).  It gets frustrating to feel as though it is always the fault of a teacher when a student does not succeed.  I teach many of the 21st century skills that Dr. Thornburg discussed (Laureate, 2010).   At some point, the student has to be held accountable for how they choose to use these skills.  With that being said, I continue to educate myself on new ways to present required information as well as the lifelong skills that have been discussed. 

The implication for me as an educator is that there are many skills that I am not preparing my students with.  The implication for my students is that they will fail in the workplace if teachers do not fuse the three Rs and four Cs.  I feel that as educators we are working to complete these tasks.  I am thankful for the online resources that Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides on their website and look forward to improving my classroom with techniques provided by other educators. 

References 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 11: Skills for the 21st century. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Retrieved January 26, 2011 from http://www.p21.org/.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blogs in the Classroom

In preparation for college and the workplace, I have created new ways of teaching in my anatomy class.  Students are studying the current chapter through research and questioning.  They were assigned specific tasks that included readings from various books, work with vocabulary, and discovery through an interactive PowerPoint presentation. At the end of day one, they were expected to turn in five questions that related to the topic.  These questions will be researched by me and answered during discussion in a couple days.  The task of the second day was to create five test questions. These questions were compiled to create a worksheet to be completed at the end of the research.  This lesson has prompted the design of a blog for a high school anatomy class.

Using a blog in the classroom is a way to develop a collaborative space for my students (Laureate, 2010).  The blog can be used as an interactive research tool. The readings will still be assigned, but I can use the blog to establish prompts that are of high interest to my students.  It will be the responsibility of all students to participate in discussion by responding to the initial prompt.  They will post their answers and the links where they found their information.  A compilation of links will create learning resources for future lessons. Depending on the time allotted for computer use, new tasks can be established daily.

This blog can be used as a commonplace for questions and answers, not only between classmates, but globally.  The requirement for students would be to post their five questions and then answer five on their own, each in response to a different student.  This will increase independent learning and alleviate the time it takes for one person to answer a multitude of questions. By including this blog on a global scale, collaboration may be done at a distance with other students worldwide (Laureate, 2010). Another task of the assignment is to create test questions.  These questions will be posted and become self-check quizzes so that students can assess their learning. 

Students are receptive to new ways of learning, especially when it decreases note taking and use of a textbook.  Incorporating blogs into the classroom atmosphere is a way to engage students in a different type of learning.  It is a way for them to become more engaged in their education and share individual thoughts (Ackerman, 2006). Not only are they being educated by their teachers, they are educated by their peers.  This will create a renewed excitement in the classroom, and increase the motivation of students to learn independently and collaboratively.


References
Ackerman, Jay D. (2006). Motivation for writing through blogs. Retrieved from http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi?bgsu1151331882.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 4: Technology and society. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 6: Spotlight on technology: Blogging in the classroom. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What to choose?

With the amount of technology available for classrooms today, it is difficult to know what to use.  There are some factors that dictate what is possible.  The first one is funding.  It is hard to use something if you do not have it.  Another factor is experience, or lack of.  It is hard to find time to become tech savvy in all aspects of technology.  The third factor is time.  How do we find time to create lessons that incorporate technology in a way that students will benefit?  These factors have contributed to the creation of this blog. Educators are encouraged to share their experiences in the classroom related to technology. Smart Boards are in many classrooms, but what can we do to use them as a productive piece of technology?  What other gadgets are available?  An ELMO has recently been added to my tools in the classroom, but it is a foreign piece of equipment to me.  Let's work together to provide ideas that will allow us to pep up our classrooms with technology.