Equitable access to today’s digital tools such as the internet and computers continues to be an important issue. Students with low socio economic status and those of color often seem to be those who do not have access to technology – or as much technology as their peers. I found it interesting, that according to the above You Tube video, girls interest in computer science dropped sharply in the 1980’s. The stereotypical “computer geek” was a white male (with glasses.)
In order to bridge the existing “digital divide” in my own classroom, I will allow students without access to computers or internet access at home to use computers in the classroom during our “Eagle Time” (our 30 minute intervention/enrichment time at the end of the day.)
Project Tomorrow’s annual report describes how schools are transitioning from print based learning to pixel based (technology) learning. The report refers to this change as “disruptive innovation.” Teachers are no longer the sole source of information in the classroom. Students are now “free agents,” in the sense that the digital media available in the classroom allows them to self-direct their learning. Research shows that technology such as You tube videos and online games are becoming increasingly common in schools.
It’s great that there is all this technology out there to use in the classroom, and it’s great that students are very comfortable using the technology, but I feel that teachers are trying to keep their heads above water in this “pixelated content” immersion. We need to be trained and to feel comfortable in using technology in our classrooms. We need to be motivated. We need to feel competent. We need to develop our own digital identities, and to feel comfortable in those new identities.
In planning instruction, I will seek out tech support from our school IT, and MOST importantly, from Steve Knight, adjunct professor at Marymount University, VA (our techie for life.) I’ll choose one or two technologies that I feel comfortable with and incorporate them in lessons, being careful to link technology standards with the 4 C’s. As I master each new digital tool, I’ll add more to my tool box.
Project Tomorrow. (2016). From print to pixel. Retrieved from http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/index.html.
Here is the link that was posted on the last slide of my Flipped Classroom movie. It was not a live link, but this one is:
Using primary sources in the classroom is a great way to foster 21st Century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and… inquiry (it fits in there somewhere!) Primary sources make history come alive for students. As an ESOL teacher, using primary sources is a great way to introduce my students to American culture and history.
After reading Brad Scherer’s article posted on Schoology Exchange, I have a clearer understanding of how technology like this can foster communication and collaboration. It enables communication between students, between teachers and students and between teachers.
Schoology can be used to provide teacher professional development as well as collaboration through #schoologychat. Here teachers can communicate with other like-minded teachers on a professional level. As teachers communicate with one another, sharing ideas, lesson plans and success stories they build community that helps them feel connected to the world.
Students collaborate and communicate with teachers via Schoology as they engage in self-paced learning, online learning labs and assessments that can be randomized and taken several times if the student has not yet mastered the content.
I would use Schoology as part of a Flipped Classroom. Students can complete learning online and then come to class for engaging projects related to their online learning. Online discussions would foster collaboration and communication within my classroom and I would use #schoologychat to collaborate with other education professionals.
Fun to watch:
Scherer, B. (2016). The art of personalizing learning for students and faculty. Retrieved from https://www.schoology.com/blog/the-art-of-personalizing-learning-for-students-and-faculty.
I created the Flipped classroom movie below in order to give my students some background information before we started our unit on the American Revolution. The movie takes them through the causes of the Revolution.
I purposely focused on visuals and just a little bit of text. I think that the visuals can tell the story just as well as a paragraph of text on each slide. The next movie I make will include at least one vocabulary word on each slide.
This movie, with limited text, but heavy on the pictures will be something my English Language learners will appreciate. They can get the gist of the movie just by looking at the pictures.
The day after they have watched the movie at home, my students will begin a project-based assignment. Each student will choose one Virginian who was influential in the Revolutionary war, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry or George Mason. Then they will create a Powtoons movie highlighting why that Virginian was important during the American Revolution. I’ll assess my students with a rubric!
Please take a look at my Flipped Classroom movie! Click on the link below:
Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk, “Build a School in the Cloud” was eye opening. He describes a research project where he provided a computer to poor children in India and observed how they learned to surf the web, play games and use the computer to learn higher level content. He duplicated this experiment in several locations in India. He describes what the children were doing as “self- organized learning.” They had created an environment that allowed them to learn what they wanted to at their own pace.
This is the type of learning that the 21st Century skills aspire to create (collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication.) Kids are much more capable than we believe they are. When we trust them to take the lead in learning, they surprise us with their ability to engage passionately in learning.
I think we have already begun to “design a future for learning,” as Mitra puts it. Many teachers have embraced project based learning and using technology in powerful ways in the classroom. As Mitra says, our school system is outdated and no longer needed. Students should be the creators of their own curriculum and teachers should provide the resources and guidance to let learning happen.
Mitra, S. (2013). Build a School in the Cloud. Retrieved July 04, 2016, from http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud
I found Michael Godsey’s article, “The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher” fascinating. I had never considered the possibility that teachers would not be needed in schools of the future. It was a bit disconcerting to think that might become a reality one day. Godsey describes technology such as sharemylesson.com, TeachersPayTeachers, where teachers use others’ lesson plans instead of creating their own. He also addresses the flipped classroom and blended learning. Godsey seems to think that all of this available technology is threatening the teacher’s relevance in education. I, however, disagree with his stance.
The goal of a great teacher is to make it possible for students to learn, and to learn cooperatively, collaboratively, creatively and critically. Students and the quality of their learning should be the focus of our debate, not whether or not technology threatens the existence of teachers.
Technology is here to stay, and it will facilitate amazing opportunities to learn. I believe that teachers are here to stay too. They will always be needed. They may be called something else, like “Engagers” or “Collaborators.” They may have different roles in education than they have now, but teachers will always contribute to student learning. The teacher who sees technology as an ally will always be relevant.
Godsey, M. (2015, March 25). The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher. Retrieved July 04, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/the-deconstruction-of-the-k-12-teacher/388631/
I would consider using podcasts for professional development in certain circumstances. For example, to provide training for sexual harassment or test administration. However, there are times when it is more beneficial to meet together in person for training or updates. In-person training provides opportunities for people to network and engage in cooperative learning activities. A combination of both podcasts and in-person professional development is optimal.