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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.

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!

Technology in the 21st Century

31 Jul

Summary:

The video entitled 21st Century Education in New Brunswick, Canada can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjJg9NfTXos.  This video basically highlights how technology is not only changing the world, but it is happening fast.  These advances in technology are directly impacting education and the video emphasizes these changes in New Brunswick public schools.  The message of the video is positive and sheds light on where education is heading due to technology.  Schools are going to have to evolve accordingly to keep up. 

 Interesting/new idea:

I was amazed at a statistic that was included in the video stating that today’s top ten jobs did not exist in 2oo4.  I was also surprised to realized that some of the greatest changes in technology have occurred in my lifetime.   This fostered a deep sense of respect in my heart to the generation of individuals who have not been raised in this era and who have had to greatly adjust accordingly. 

 My response:

As an educator, I want to be accepting, not resistant to change.  It is my responsibility to model lifelong learning and professional as well as developmental growth in all areas, including technology.  State standards, curriculum, and skills that we teach now may not be relevant soon.  I am excited about what education will look like in the next five years, and I’m sure I will be even more amazed at how school will look for students in ten years.  I think the best is yet to be!

NETS-T Standard 5 Response

31 Jul

5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. Teachers:

a. participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
b. exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.
c. evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning.
d. contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.

Summary:

Standard five places an emphasis on professional growth and leadership for the teacher to model.  Teachers are to be examples of lifelong learning especially in the area of technology.  Teachers should  communicate with others in the profession and build relationships globally using technology.  Teachers should also exhibit leadership skills by infusing technology into their classrooms, participate in social collaboration, as well as learning from the technology skills of others in the profession.  Teachers are called to evaluate and reflect on current research.  Finally, teachers should contribute and be an asset to their school and community.

 My strengths in this area:

I am a lifelong learner because I am currently enrolled in graduate school to obtain my master’s degree.  This class in particular is strengthening my each week.  I take professional development classes and am also on the lookout for new ideas in my profession.  I collaborate with my colleagues.  It is very important for my students to see me modeling this. 

 My weaknesses in this area:

I do not communicate globally with other teachers as much as I would like to.  I think the starting of my blog is going to help me  accomplish more social networking on a professional level.  I am thrilled to begin a collaboration with other professional in Google docs.  My class this coming year will begin a friendship via Twitter with a school in another country.

Teaching and Nobility

24 Jul

The article entitled I’m not Messing Up-I’m Learning, was written by Vicki Davis.  It can be found at her blog: http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2011/01/hey-im-not-messing-up-im-learning.html.

Summary:

In this article, the author writes about famous leaders and events throughout history who discovered or learned something through their mistakes.  She encourages the reader to be willing to fall into mistakes but only if something is learned from the process.  The author compares today’s hard-working and often under-appreciated teacher to nobility.  Teachers have a tremendous responsibility and a noble calling; to educate young minds.  However, many teachers lose this “noble heart” in the process of the day-to-day grind, school politics, and in dealing with difficult students.  Teachers are encouraged by the author to do something every day to make a difference and not lose heart.

 New/Interesting concept:

I loved the idea of teachers being compared to nobility.  Our job is a noble calling.  The ability to teach and instruct is of high importance.  I am thankful for the reminded the author gave about learning from mistakes.  My students make mistakes every day and I certainly have my fair share of mistakes as well.  I want to be more conscious of learning from these downfalls and encouraging my students to learn from their mistakes as well. 

 My Response:

This article was exactly what I needed to read as the new school year quickly approaches.  I do get “weary in well doing” and often find myself complaining and whining over my noble occupation.  I am encouraged and motivated to learn from my mistakes and to teach my students to do the same.  This article made me think of my profession in a new light-it is noble. 

NETS-T Standard 4 Response

24 Jul

NETS-T Standard 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. Teachers:

a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.
b. address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.
c. promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.
d. develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital-age communication and collaboration tools.

 Summary:

This standard deals with the very important issue of digital citizenship and responsibility.  Teachers are to model and teach students how to safely, appropriately, and legally use technology.    Teachers are called to familiarize students with copyright laws, as well as provide accurate citing of sources.  The teacher has the responsibility to meet the diverse needs of learners by using student-centered strategies that students are able to easily utilize.  Teachers are to model and teach proper digital and social etiquette.  Finally, teachers should promote and model cultural understanding and international awareness by communicating with colleagues and students around the world through the use of digital tools.

My strengths in the area:

I teach my students life skills that apply to digital as well as face to face communication with others.  My students learn how to compose a “friendly email” during our unit on the friendly letter.  During our animal research unit I teach my students about citing sources.

My weaknesses in this area:

I have not fostered international relationships within my class.  I am very excited about beginning a friendship with a class in another country this year.  I need to introduce and model to my students my own digital etiquette in the classroom.  I want my students to  know how to present themselves online.