October 2, 2006

Equity Revisited...McGrath

This article analyzes information from enGauge 21st Centry Skills: Literacy in the Digital Age, Connecting the Bits, and Learning for the 21st Century for ways of teaching with technology that will benefit all learners. The author concludes that the 3 studies share the following: use prior knowlege, use technology in a way that you would in the communicate and to help you understand, and present knowledge/project to others.

I think these 3 ideas are great, but I think the author watered them down a little too much, even in her terminology. I still like the approach of the enGauge article in which they have the areas divided into 4 groups: Digital Age Literacy, Inventive Thinking, Effective Communication and High Productivity. I agree you need to use a students prior knowledge as a basis and then build upon that. I also think you need to have the students look at the future and predict what kinds of things they will need to know based on what they think will happen in the future. I am sure they would come up with similar ideas.

I also agree that Project Based Learning (PBL) could be utilized more often. I would like see this as a combined effort between the teachers and the "community" to find projects that show why learning in school is important and what learning is important. In school we rely so much on that delayed gratification that it is no wonder students lack interest in some areas. As teachers we keep saying, you will need to know this for the test, but then students don't realize how often in life you run into a "test".

Random thought...maybe we shouldn't have testing anymore. Maybe we should have evaluations in which you are to "find an answer" to a question. Time of course is of essence bacause in quite a few jobs, the more you can do , the more you get paid. I really don't know if we can eliminate testing all together because of all the time it would take to conitue to reteach everything from the beginning. (addition, subtracation, etc.)

The equity though, would be great. If we could figure out how to stimulate students so they wanted to be in school and they wanted to learn, that would be awesome. If PBL would help that, then maybe we should be doing more projects. If we did more PBL then maybe we would get the at-risk students to stay on track. If they felt more responsible for a project would it be enough for the student to make it to class everyday?

Technology Learning Principles...Hughes

There are 4 Learning Principles suggested in this article:
1. Connecting Technology Learning to Professional Knowledge
2. Privileging Subject Matter and Pedagogical Content Connections.
3. Using Technology Learning to Challenge Professional Knowledge
4. Teaching Many Technologies.

I think all 4 tend to overlap.

The first principle, "Connecting Technology Learning to Professional Knowledge" would probably be done automatically. Anytime I learn something new, I want to know how this will apply to me, this includes learning new technologies. My automatic reaction is "How will this help me be a better teacher?" If I don't see a purpose in learning, then I am probably not going to learn how to use it in the first place.

The second principle, "Privileging Subject Matter and Pedagogical Content Connections" shows a good example of why teachers should work together. If departments work together on their "projects" they will be combining the best of all of their ideas. I see the problem more so as we are dividing up the chapters and each person in the group will take two chapters, rather than using the group work to come up with the best "technology-pedagogy" connection.

The third principle, "Using Technology Learning to Challenge Current Professional Knowledge" is closely related to the first principle. I see this principle as teaching the technology and hoping this will help the teacher to come up with their own idea of how to use it in the classroom. I also believe that learning to use technology, even if it is for personal use, will help a teacher to become a better technology integrationist. Once you have the background in how tools/toolbars work, that transfer of knowledge to other programs saves so much time. You are also exposing yourself to various options that may transfer between programs too. (For example, if you learn to use Photoshop Elements, you are then able to transfer the knowledge of toolbars, layering, filtering, pixels, etc to other programs where you may work with the same concepts even if you aren't working specifically with pictures. You may be using clipart and another "flipchart" program for animation.

The fourth principle, "Teaching Many Technologies" requires the teacher to be a learner for "many technologies". Oftentimes the problem is convincing the teacher to spend the time to learn the technologies in order to make educated decisions about their technology integration. I find this extremely frustrating, probably because I am willing to spend some time to learn/investigate software/technologies just to see what some of the benefits to it are. so that I would know whether I could use it in my classroom.

September 18, 2006

Hughes draft

I realize that teachers have various kinds of knowledge...pedagogical, content and technology. I now see how important it is to address each of the overlaps in the Professional Knowledge Constructs. I think that by strengthening the TPK, the PCK and the TCK, the TPCK will be stronger and this is really where we want to be when we integrate technology.

Zhao et al "Conditions for classroom technology innovations"

The "Conditions for classroom technology innovations" article brought to the front some of the same views that I have experienced in teachers integrating technology. It seems almost as though instead of looking for the reasons some technology integration succeed, we instead look at why some fail. I am not sure that is the correct approach to take when looking at anything. Sure it helps to find the problems, but just because we find the problems doesn't mean we have found real successes.

I agree with the fact that the Innovator makes the most difference. The education always falls back to the teacher and how the teacher responds to the issues. The teachers proficiency, pedagogical compatibility and social awarenss will make it easier, but that is true for any aspect of the classroom, not just the implementation of technology. It is all in how the teacher responds and handles any situation.

I know they said "the quality of a project increases success", however I would think ahead of that is the context..."does the actual technology infrastructure work well enough so we can try a project?" I have seen more teachers excited to try something and then only to find out that we either don't have the technology or "it's been ordered" only to have it take months to arrive. This frustration by a teacher will definitely "deflate the balloon of excitement".

I also agree that the most success comes from a decreased distance from and dependence on technological resources.

Most of this is common sense...
*If you stay close to what you are comfortable with, your project will succeed.
*The fewer people you rely on, the less problems you will encounter.
*A good teacher will teach, no matter what the subject or how much technology is used or not used.
*It is hard to keep a positive attitude and a successful project going when other staff people do not believe in what you are trying to accomplish
*Some projects are successful just because of the quality of the projects designed by the teacher. When the students are excited about the project and they don't realize they are learning is when it works the best.

Hopefully the goal would be to eliminate the obstacles so teachers will at least try a few things and not be too discouraged.

NETS for Students

I am glad that there are some technology standards available. I currently teach a computer application class and actually had another teacher question me this past week about whether my course was still required for graduation. I couldn't believe she said that, not because I am the teacher, but because this is the only required computer class for all of our students and it is only 12 weeks long.

I agree that many teachers are using technology and now need to move toward having the students utilize the technology to increase their learning. I was impressed at some of the examples that I looked at because of how the technology was utilized. The recalculating of the presidential election uses technology to help boost student understanding of the electoral votes vs. the actual votes. I think using a spreadsheet with this activity allows the student to understand more about voting than what could happen without the use of technology. The other social studies example using the students as historian in the Gettysburg Address activity really makes the students work together as a team as well as helping them to understand the work of historians.

I wish all teachers were moving toward the NETS-S. I know using the word all is dreaming.

September 11, 2006

Learning in the 21st Century

During workshop day prior to the start of the school year this year, our principal divided us up into groups of 8 ro 9 and had us come up with a list of skills that our students should have by the time they graduate if they would go straight into the workforce or if they would go to college. After each group compiled their list, we shared. Our principal then told us that we would be working with this information in our staff meetings to come.

When I started to read "Learning in the 21st Century", I felt like I was reading the results of our staff meeting again. In fact, when the article organized the information into a chart and narrowed it down to the 3 categories: Information and Communication Skills, Thinking and Problem Solving Skills, and Interpersonal and Self-Directional Skills, I began thinking to myself...."Wow, we won't have to do anything at the next staff meeting because it is already done for us right here!".

As far as the 21st Century tools, I find myself between a rock and a hard spot trying to determine which direction to take and what is best for kids!
Things like school e-mail address for students are not allowed in our district right now, but I struggle with the fact that we are not teaching students how to properly us e-mail and I feel as though that is a disservice to our students, mostly because I know they will us e-mail in their future schooling and in their jobs. I have already heard a colleague complain about the capitalization, grammar, puctuation and salutation in an e-mail from a student this year.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding social networking in the media and I struggle to decide if their is another way of approaching the topic other than to ban the sites from school and then "discuss" with the students the potential dangers associated with these types of sites. I do not think the "discussions" are having much of an impact.
We've recently banned the use of personal listening devices during our school day. The policy was established mostly because of theft, but there is also the ability to "cheat" using these devices and the knowledge regarding the use of these devices is better known by our students than by our staff. Socially, I agree the devices should be eliminated from school, however I do think we should look into the benefits of possibly recording information on the listening device for review at a later date. I do know that if I were to come up with a reasonable lesson involving the positive use of the devices, students could bring them to class. I also struggle to find the time to learn it myself and then teach it. It would be cool to have a "tour of our building" on an ipod, though.

Jonassen...Computers as MindTools

Along with being a high school teacher, I also teach computer classes after school to my colleagues. Our district technology instructional staff struggles to find the appropriate classes to teach so my colleagues will us the available technology in the classroom. By using technology, I mean to use it to increase and strengthen student learning and understanding, not just to use technology for the sake of using it. I think this article has valid points in it that will result in increased student learning.

I again found myself wanting to try out all of the available software mentioned in the article. I did download 2 of the programs and I was disappointed to find the science program was no longer available. It was interesting for me to work through the Model-It example from the 10th grade English class covering Lord of the Flies. It took me a few minutes, but when I figured out their example, I was very impressed by the ability of a class to come to a concensus on the functions of the program. It makes me wonder if we are doing this in our school district.

The one major flaw that I find in working with teachers in general is that there is a reluctancy to give up the time to have the students "discover their own solutions" because of the push to get ahead. What if it takes the students 2 weeks to accomplish the task rather than the 1 day it would take for me to "tell them". It will be interesting to discuss this time crunch vs. process during class. Don't get me wrong, I am a visual and a kinesthetic learner and I do benefit for finding things out myself, however it seems as though the question always goes back to "how far in the book did you get this year".