Archive | August, 2011

A Technology Success Story

7 Aug

The article entitled Differentiated Instruction: Getting Personal with Technology can be found at: http://www.edutopia.org/stw-differentiated-instruction-technology-elementary.  The article was written by Grace Rubenstein.

 Summary:

This article focuses on a school in Columbia, South Carolina called Forest Lake elementary.  This school is a technology magnet school that has interactive whiteboards and eight computers (Tech Zones) in every classroom.  The classrooms also use PowerPoints, Flip cams, blogs, and computer programs.  These tools enable teachers to meet the needs of all students (differentiated instruction).  Teachers use nontraditional methods to teach and in the process, all students are actively engaged in learning.  Parents are supportive of what their children are accomplishing, and the school’s testing scores are high.  Teachers are collaborating with their colleagues and sharing what they are doing and what is working in the classrooms during faculty meetings.   Technology has been a positive influence at Forest Lake elementary.

 New concept/interesting idea:

I thought it was interesting that the article mentioned most of the teachers at Forest Lake were older, seasoned teachers who had to learn how to use technology.  This was encouraging for me to want to try using more technology in my room.  It is a tool and can be utilized to finally solve the problems in education.  As a teacher, I am always confused as to how I am to meet the needs of all learners and make learning personalized for each student.  I think what Forest Lake elementary has done is incredible and many of the ideas presented in the article I would like to try out.  I was particularly excited to read that a second grade class had begun a class blog.  This inspired me even more to begin mine this fall!

My response:

I go so excited while reading this article that I immediately forwarded it to the administration at my school!  I especially want to look into the two computer programs used by Forest Lake Elementary schools (Study Island and EducationCity).  The ideas presented in this article provide many answers to the questions teachers have about differentiating instruction.  I have had many conversations with colleagues who have complained with me about how to bring up test scores while meeting the needs of all learners.  According to the success of the school written about in this article, technology seems to be the answer.  I am more motivated than ever to bring technology into my classroom.  I feel that technology works hand in hand with meeting the needs of all learners, and keeping students actively engaged which promotes classroom management.  I want my students to be prepared for a world where technology is part of everyday life and functioning.

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Let Go and Let Them Learn

7 Aug

The article entitled Figuring it Out can be found at: http://figuringitouted.blogspot.com/2011/06/giving-up-control.html.  This blog post was written by J. Bevacqua who is a father, teacher, and school principal. 

 Summary:

In this article the author (who is a teaching high school principal) describes an experiment that he tried with his Law 12 class.  The experiment was an exit assignment called “I want to know more about. . . “

The students were required to choose a topic or question that they wanted to research and then present to the rest of the class.  The teacher did not provide approved topics or even many project requirements for his students.  The students were given complete choice for their assignment as well as the method they could use to present it.   The class did work together to brainstorm a list of controversial current events as well as encouragement to think deeply.  The author-teacher decided not to discuss grades or rubrics, but instead focused the students on answering their questions.  The results were incredible!  Students chose interesting topics, consulted multiple sources, and used media to present their findings.  The class as a whole was motivated to do their best and found the project to be a gratifying experience.  The teacher found that the power of choice (and not the grade) was extremely motivating for students.  He also learned that relinquishing control as the teacher was a freeing experience and plans to do it more. 

 New concept/interesting idea:

I think the concept of problem-based inquiry is fabulous.  Instead of the traditional method of answering questions, students are called upon to ask and answer their own.  This calls for higher level thinking and real-life application.  I thought the complete choice approach was genius.  It just makes sense that students would be intrinsically motivated to complete an assignment that they got to choose instead of being assigned to one.  The emphasis on the process of asking questions instead of grades and rubrics was very refreshing for me as a teacher. 

 My response:

I really loved this article!  I tend to be a control freak by nature.  This is fueled by my A-type personality and love of order.  As a new teacher, I am finding that it is ok to give up control and allow my students to explore.  This article really enforced this for me.  My second graders may need more guidance than the high school students who participated in this project, but I think the use of menus, or group work would be perfect for my young class.  I’m looking forward to a new school year, mew students, and the ability to let go and let my students learn through choice and self-motivation!

What Will Teaching Look Like?

1 Aug

Summary:

The video called Teaching in the 21st Century can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTIBDR4Dn2g&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_992282.  This video highlighted the changes in education due to technology and then proceeded to ask questions about the future.  Teaching methods and tools are evolving to accommodate technology in the classroom.   Curriculum and state standards will change as well as some subjects become irrelevant in our society.  Technology is revolutionizing education to make learning more engaging and applicable to students.  The possibilities are endless!

 New concept/ idea:

This video made me think about the goal of education: meaningful learning for students.  If technology can help accomplish this goal, then I as a teacher need to be on board and bring it into my classroom on as many levels as I can.  The video addressed a common fear that teachers have regarding technology in the classroom and that is how to manage it.  I loved how the video stated that technology tools such as cell phones, laptops, and Twitter accounts should be managed just like pencils, paper, and crayons.  It’s not the tool itself that is the problem, but the temptation to misuse it.  This was a very freeing idea for me and I feel confident that if my students are taught how to use technology tools, we will be able to accomplish amazing things as a class.

 My Response:

I am more motivated than ever to bring technology into my classroom to provide engaging learning experiences for my students.  The world is changing and educators should be supportive and knowledgeable about these changes.  I don’t want to hold my students back or hinder them because I haven’t taken the time to familiarize myself with these various tools.  I want my students to learn how to conduct themselves appropriately online, properly use search engines for research, and to use tools to find the answers to questions they have.  I’m excited to blaze the technology trail with my students this school year!