I hope these ideas came across in my PowToon! Just in case there is any confusion, here are some concrete thoughts on the reflection questions for this project:
How do I use technologies in ways that demonstrate my passion and curiosity?
I use technology in many ways, from networking with parents and colleagues, to improving productivity and efficiency in terms of planning and implementing lessons. I maintain a class website which I use to keep parents informed about what is happening in our classroom from day to day. I also use Twitter and Facebook to connect easily and quickly with 21st century parents. I also use technology to problem solve. I connect with other teachers through social networking, blogging, and online classes. I read online journals and search for new, betters ways to do things in my classroom.
How do I use technologies to inspire passion and curiosity in my students?
I teach using streaming videos, interactive online activities, and virtual assignments. We use our LCD projector faithfully and make use of our Mimio Teach whiteboard. The students not only get to watch me use technology to teach, but they get a hands-on experience with it through projects using a variety of interactive tools, such as Glogster, Weebly, Ipadio, Discovery Education, Tagxedo, Microsoft Office, Prezi, the immense Google toolbox, and more.
"You chose my favorite topic of all of them and you did a great job. I am glad you mentioned the Wayback Machine! It is such a great way to show your digital footprint. The preservation site Preserving Virtual Worlds is really neat. I need to check it out. One thing that you did forget to do is to cite your images. It is so important to give the author credit. I am chuckling as I see your student image of them saving their resources. In 1994, we gave our students floppy disks to save their work for K-12. We truly thought that they could preserve all their work for 13 years on that disk. Boy we were wrong and only a couple of years later we realized that we were very wrong when we could only get 4 pictures on one disk from a digital camera. I just found a floppy when I was moving a couple of years ago. It is important to back up in different formats as they do get phased out. One thing that you did not mention is that it helps us be a better paperless society. I am all for a paperless classroom! Each perspective that you took was very powerful. It was a great way to divide up the presentation. It looks like you had a great group dynamic. All of you showed up for the Google Hangout. You had some very “smart” solutions that you came up with. We do need to back up and often as I always say."
In my survey, I tested teachers around the country and at my school. I did this for 2 reasons. The first is that I would like to see what teachers in my school are doing in terms of technology integration in their classes. Secondly, I wanted to see what teachers around the country are doing so that I could determine if there was a certain technology that teachers find useful that we aren't implementing in our school.
Of the teachers that completed my survey, about 90% had either a SmartBoard or Mimeo strips in their classrooms. Our school purchased Mimeo strips for all of the classes in my school, so we seem to be on trend here. In the poll, teachers at my school, however, felt that they needed more training and time with the Mimeo strips to make them more effective. Also, almost all teachers had a ceiling mounted LCD projector. We also have these and teachers seem comfortable in using them in their classes.
The biggest concern at by teachers at my school is the lack of consistency when it comes to the availability of resources (this also seems to be a concern for teachers around the country as well). Our computer lab doubles as our library, computer classroom, and Accelerated math classroom. By the time specials are scheduled, there is about 1 day's worth of computer time to split between 11 classes. It is very difficult to get into the computer lab for whole class lessons. In addition to inadequate lab space, we frequently experience internet outages and server crashes. After speaking with our priest, it sounds as though the school will be upgrading the server and increasing bandwidth over the summer, so hopefully this will solve some of these issues. Our school also received a large donation, so we are looking into adding an extra computer lab and possibly a cart of laptops sometime this summer.
In terms of professional development, teachers around the country were most interested in training in using their SmartBoards/Mimeo strips. At my school, teachers are also interested in Mimeo training, as well as the Discovery Science Techbook. We first implemented the Techbook last year and attended a few webinars, but hands-on, in-person training would probably be more successful and meaningful. I am attending the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute next month, so I am hoping to learn more about what other teachers are doing with the techbook in their classrooms. I am sure I will come back with tons of great ideas to share with the teachers at my school.
After looking at the data, I'm left wondering how teachers at my school envision using the Techbook in their classes. I, for one, would prefer total integration. Is this what the other teachers want, or are they looking to use it as pick-and-choose resource? Would they be open to total integration if they knew all that the Techbook has to offer? Perhaps after my trip I will have to dig deeper into the expectations my fellow teachers.
Online education can bring learners together to create a global learning community!
Image retrieved from http://www.woboe.org
Online learning is, in my opinion, the future of education. I have taken online classes sporadically during my undergraduate work, and exclusively for my graduate work. I have enjoyed online learning from a student viewpoint, and am also interested in exploring the option of teaching online at some point.
The first resource that I found is Diane Ravitch (@DianeRavitch). Diane Ravitch is an education blogger from Brooklyn, NY. While she isn't necessarily for or against technology use in the classroom, she obviously has reservations about the idea of online classrooms. In a blog post entitled "Why the Demand for Virtual Charter Schools" (Ravitch, 2012, July 18), Ravitch states, "The demand for virtual schools is a sure indicator of the dumbing down of the American public and the triumph of American capitalism at its greediest." She worries that for-profit schools will put money before a quality education, which should be a genuine concern when transitioning to this blossoming mode of learning. Ravitch does value incorporating technology into lessons (Ravitch, 2012, July 20), but worries that placing students in isolated environments and leaving them to learn solely online will make it difficult for them to thrive. As a proponent of online learning, these strike me as valuable observations that the online learning community cannot and should not ignore. If we want online learning and technology based education to succeed, we need to be sure that we are addressing student needs in the most beneficial way possible and keeping the motives for online schools in mind when making choices about online learning.
The second resource I found is Andrew Miller (@betamiller). Miller is an online educator and advocate for virtual learning. While he supports the idea that online learning is valuable and effective, he does acknowledge that there are pitfalls to online learning but offers ways to stray from ineffective learning models. In an article for the Huffington Post, Miller states that, "It is important that we venture down the path of blended learning, that we're actually doing blended learning, that we're clear in our model, and that we share common language." (Miller, 2013) Rather than focusing on 100% online learning, he suggests that education takes the flipped classroom approach and integrates both online and brick-and-mortar learning. He also cautions that, "We cannot replicate a broken system, and there are many challenges we need to overcome if we're going to ensure that we do not." (Miller, 2011) This quote struck me as vital when considering online education. Ineffective methods from a traditional classroom should not be replicated online; we need to grow and improve upon methods of learning that are shown to improve student learning.
Finally, the third resource I found is called Digital Learning Now (@DigLearningNow, #DigLN). DigLN is a national movement to improve policies in online education. If I can be honest, I have very little interest in educational policy. I see the value in being interested in educational policies, but it just doesn't interest me enough for me to invest much time in it. To me, it has always seemed like a lot of talk, but very little action. That said, DigLN seems to be a resource that could be an almost pain-free way for me to take steps towards learning more about educational policy, especially since they focus on a topic that is of interest to me. They frequently post articles and research to their Twitterfeed, providing quick tidbits of information that I can sort through easily. Maybe if I dip my toes in a bit more, I might actually come to enjoy educational policy (maybe)!
Miller, A. K. (2011, August 8). Online Education: A Word of Caution. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-k-miller/online-education_b_921666.html
Ravitch, D. (2012, July 18). Why the Demand for Virtual Charter Schools [Blog]. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/18/why-the-demand-for-virtual-charter-schools/
Ravitch, D. (2012, July 20). The Trouble with Online Education [Blog]. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/20/the-trouble-with-online-education/
For my topic of study, I chose to learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In my 5 years of teaching, this is the most prevalent problem that I notice with my students and the one that I need to address in order for my students to succeed. While I have made accommodations in my classroom, I am a strong believer in always trying to do more.
For this study, I chose to specifically look at the problem of handwriting. Handwriting has been a visible issue that I have noticed with many of my students over the years, and after doing some research I found that this is not atypical. In fact, it seems that many students that have ADHD also struggle with handwriting skills. In Marie Racine's article entitled "Handwriting Performance in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder", Racine states that in addition to academic challenges, many students with ADHD also suffer from motor skill impairments. In fact, "The prevalence of motor impairment in the ADHD population has been estimated to be approximately 50%" according to a study mentioned in the article. (Racine 2008) This was particularly interesting to me because previous to reading this, I was under the impression that the poor handwriting was caused due to rushing and carelessness more than to an actual physiological factor. While rushing and carelessness can be a factor, is important not to overlook the motor impairments suffered by some students.
As a writing teacher, it is important that I understand the ideas that my students are trying to convey so that I can help them grow as writers. If I cannot read the child's handwriting, I am missing ideas that the student is trying to share with me. There are a ton of technology resources around that can assist students with their writing, the trick is to find something that allows students to be successful, but still hold them accountable for learning what is necessary. For one of my students who struggles with handwriting because of rushing, I let him type his daily writing entries. Typing forces him to slow down and think about each letter he is writing. Not only do I not have to worry about trying to read his handwriting, but he is also spelling more words correctly, using correct punctuation, and self correcting grammar mistakes.
I hadn't considered motor impairments as a cause for poor handwriting in ADHD students before, but it makes sense. For students with handwriting difficulties caused by motor impairments, simply typing may present more challenges than it is solving. One way to address this would be to use speech-to-text software. This would allow the student to speak what they want written and have their ideas to be presented without the distraction of handwriting, typing, grammar, etc... One of my favorite tools that I found is called "Online Dictation". It is online, free, and simple enough for even the youngest students to use as long as you have Google Chrome 11 installed. To operate, simply click "Start Dictation". When the student is finished, you can copy and paste the text, export it to Google Drive, download to your computer, send it to DropBox, or email it. Like any dictation program, it is not perfect, specifically with names, punctuation, and nonstandard speech, so it is important to stress the importance of rereading the resulting text.
I tested Online Dictation for myself using the first two paragraphs of this blog entry (see image below). I was impressed with the accuracy of the dictation, but would need to go back and add punctuation marks and correct words, such as "Russian" before considering it finished. It is obvious that during my speaking, I was clipping the -g from the word rushing. This may also have an added benefit for students that use this program regularly; it may improve the clarity of their speech.
I think that students with ADHD would enjoy seeing their words turned to text and would also be more likely to reread and proofread because they will want to see how well their words were recorded. I would be cautious about overusing this technology however. Allowing a student to become reliant on speech-to-text software could hinder his or her growth in other areas such as spelling, and will obviously do nothing to improve the actual skill of handwriting. Using this type of technology would definitely need to be used in moderation but could be an invaluable tool when you are looking to gauge a students understanding and ideas rather than spelling and/or handwriting.
Racine, M. B., Majnemer, A., Shevell, M., & Snider, L. (2008). Handwriting performance in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Journal of Child Neurology, 23(4), 399-406. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0883073807309244
In this week's reading assignment from The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning by James Paul Gee, we explored the idea of why people are stupid and what prevents humans from solving problems in a smart way. Gee is emphatic that in order to think smartly, people need to effectively use the cycle of reflective action when trying something for the first time. This means that a person must have a knowledgeable mentor, prior experience, clear goals, an emotional stake, and the chance to act. If any of these requisites are not met, the person in question will not effectively learn from the experience, making the whole thing moot. If we are not able to learn from experiences and apply what is learned, humans will not be able to solve complex problems.
Gee also argues that formal schooling is not set up to support learning through the cycle of reflective action. Schools limit us because they are formatted so that the learner gains information by reading or listening to language. They are not experiencing the things they learn; instead they are being told about them. If students are not able to plan, experience, and reflect on an idea, they will not internalize it. Schools also have goal setting all wrong. Typically a student’s goal (mine included) is to get good grades and earn a diploma or degree. This type of goal setting does not prepare a student for meaningful learning and often results in rote memorization of facts and short-term recall. When students lack a clear, subject-relevant goal, they are unable to learn the information in a way that will allow them to internalize it and use it in making decisions in regards to future actions or problems. In order to solve the big problems, humans must be able to apply previous experiences to predict, plan, and reflect on the actions that they take, experiences that they are unable to gain in the traditional classroom.
Finally, there is the idea of memory. Gee points out in chapter 3 that memory is not all it is cracked up to be. It is not infallible and not to be trusted as containing the truth. The human mind changes memories in order to make sense of the world around it rather than just storing random details for recall. In order to make our memories useful and valuable in regards to problem solving, we need to be able to link ideas, patterns, and connections in a way that makes recall more accurate and beneficial while also aligning with our goals. Formal schooling does not view the human mind this way; instead schools “demand that humans use their memories the way computers do, rather than the way humans do.” We as educators should not be teaching and testing students based on their memorization of random information; we should be creating meaning for them through goal setting, exploration, experience, and reflection.
It sounds like we are doing everything wrong in education, which honestly probably is not that far-fetched. After being made aware of Gee’s ideas of what fosters stupidity in people, however, I think that there are things that we can do as educators to prepare our students to problem solve smartly. First, we need to make sure that students have an adequate background in the topic. If they do not, then as educators we must prepare them for what they will be learning. We need to be informed about the subject matter we are teaching so we can be effective mentors. The students should have a clear goal, which should be subject relevant and ideally student created. Having students create their goals, in my opinion, allows for ownership in the experience and an emotional stake in learning the information. Getting a good grade on the unit test is not an adequate goal. Finally we need to give the students a chance to act and take part in what they are learning. If educators can strive to provide students with experiences rather than facts, then there is a chance we can stop being so stupid!
I am so enjoying the MAET program thus far and am happy to get started on my next course, CEP 812, Applying Educational Technology to Practice. I'm not a huge fan of educational theory, so getting to learn about practical tools to use in my classroom is right up my alley! For week 1, we have been learning about the complexity of problems in education, ranging from well-structured to unsolvable (wicked) problems. For my first project, I chose to select a complex problem, which is midway between well-structured and unsolvable. I thought expository writing would be a fun problem to solve using technology. It is also a problem that I deal with for much of the year, so adding new approaches will make the learning more meaningful and lasting for the students. Below is the screencast further explaining the complex problem of expository writing.
"Great idea to liven up expository writing. I do like that you have still had them include writing throughout the glogster. This lesson will engage the students and allow their creativity to shine. Most likely they will write more since they did not just have to write in Word. Great looking Prezi too. Other ideas might be to have the students comment on each other's glogsters and to showcase them on your school website."
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!