Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Article #6: Measuring and Evaluating Effective Media Use- How Should Schools Be Using Tech to Teach?

Cleaver, S. (2013, July 31). How Should Schools be Using Tech to Teach? Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Tech_in_Schools/

Main Points:

When we think about how far technology has come in the past 10 years it’s hard to believe that overheads used to be the most technological piece of equipment in our classrooms.  Many students are becoming the technology experts in the classroom, as opposed to the teacher.  According to Cleaver (2013), 93% of students between the ages of 12 and 17 are online.  More so, 89% of students say that technology makes their lives easier.  With this new wave of technology expert students, teachers undoubtedly need to incorporate the most recent tech tools in their classroom.
Students are accustomed to using the Internet to find information and communicate with their peers.  But what the teens are talking about online is quite a shocker.  “The majority (59 percent) talk about education topics, from schoolwork to college applications” (Cleaver, 2013).  As our current classes get closer to graduating and finding their first job, a new skill is emerging in order for them to be college and career ready.  Along with problem solving, 21st skills include “collaborating, synthesizing information, communicating, having a strong work ethic, and being aware of global cultures and perspectives, all while using technology.”  Currently technology education isn’t making the grade when it comes to preparing our students for life after high school.  Sure students know how to text message, send emails, use Google, and Facebook, but do they understand how to search and find information on Google, and then compile it into a database and use that information to solve real life problems?  These are the issues that await them in the real world.  It’s our jobs as educators to make sure that students can be successful on the new roads that technology has paved.  
Cleaver briefly discusses four ways that technology has been used in classrooms across the United States to combine all the skills necessary for 21st century learners.  One teacher is using podcasts to help his students study for tests.  Students are using blogs to create content and publish it.  Students are also collaborating with other students around the world through the use of a wiki.  A computer teacher in Colorado is also teaching her students the importance of using social networking sites safely.     

Reflection and Application:

I felt that this article was a good reminder of why it is so important to incorporate technology into the classroom.  I think this article would be great to use at a staff meeting to encourage hesitant teachers to try and use more of the technology that is available to them.  
In my own classroom, I am currently starting a mini-research project to go along with our novel study that my English class is doing.  The tech coach at my school is coming into my room to discuss with the students how to properly use Google to research a certain topic.  Currently, most 8th graders just type whatever into the search bar and look at the first site that pops up.  Our goal is not only to teach the 8th graders good search terms to use, but how to access the reliability and strength of any given source.  Based on the themes presented in the novel we are reading, students will be creating their own large question to research.  The information that they find will be composed in Google presentation in a note card format.  In our next research project, the tech coach and I will be introducing the students to Diigo.  My ultimate goal in the research lessons is to make finding quality evidence on Google an easier task for the students to complete.  Like the article said the majority of students believe that technology makes their lives easier.  If I can use tech tools in my classroom properly then I should be able to increase this statistic in my classroom.  

Article #5: Student Engagement with Media Digital Media Empowers Kids to Create-and Critique-on Social Networks

Weir, L. (2009, May 27). Digital Media Empowers Kids to Create -- and Critique -- on Social Networks. Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-youth-network-literacy-video

Main Points:

This article discussed a social networking tool that has been used effectively in the Chicago-based Digital Youth Network.  This network runs a private Web site called Remix World.  Remix World is very similar to other social networking sites, like Facebook.  Each student is given their own Web page that contains their picture, profile information, and links to their friends’ pages.  The students can post videos, comment on each others digital artwork, and hold online discussions through the network.  Some students have shown great interest in Remix World that they have branched out and started posting their work on public sites such as YouTube.
When students are given the creative power to choose and post what they want more self-directed learning occurs.  "It's not just creating content. It's creating content to share" (Weir, 2009). Students take more ownership over their work and what they make available for their peers to see.  Once students create and share their work on social networking sites, they can access one of the richest parts of this learning cycle that occurs; the exchange and commenting that follows.  According to Will Richardson,most of the learning occurs in the connections and conversation that occur after we publish.”  Students learn from their peers, but more importantly learn how to accept feedback and critique others’ work.  
One of the problems that exists with social networking is the students can very easily lose their focus.  Students can be easily distracted because there are so many non learning paths that students can get caught up in with social networking.  It’s important to be able to redirect students and keep them focused on the task at hand.  
A really informative feature that Remix World added to their network was the ability to rate videos that students post to their profile.  Like YouTube that allows users to rate a video from one to five stars, Remix World “allows users to rate videos separately for image quality, audio, editing, and content” (Weir, 2009).  This feature teaches students to critique media in an informed way.  
Overall, social networking sites are a great tool to use in the classroom.  It was suggested that teachers create their own network for the students to use first so the teacher could monitor the posts.  

Reflection and Application:

Social Networking is the one tool that I am still hesitant to use in my classroom.  The loss of control that I have as the teacher is definitely what scares me.  I think before students create and share their work online, it is crucial that they understand their technology footprint.  I do see the benefits that social networking brings to the classroom.  The most powerful learning that can occur in the class is when students are learning from each other, and this is exactly what takes place on social networking sites.  I feel like the students would be able to take more ownership over their work and would be more conscious of the quality of work they are posting.  I would like to play around with some of the sites available to teachers and make this a goal of mine to use in my classroom next year.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Article #4: Multimedia in the Classroom The educated blogger:Using Weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom

Huffaker, D. (2004). The educated blogger: Using Weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom. First Monday, 9(6). doi:10.5210/fm.v9i6.1156

Main Points:
This article looks to support the integration of blogs in classroom settings.  Huffaker (2004) argues that blogs promote literacy through storytelling, allow collaborative learning, can be accessed at any point during the school day, and are interchangeable across the curriculum. Approximately half of all blogs started today are maintained by kids of the ages 13-19.  Since blogs are so popular with the young youth today then it makes sense to say that blogs would promote engagement in the classroom setting.
Reading and writing have always been the foundation for education.  Today we refer to this foundation as verbal literacy.  If you don’t know how to read or write at your grade level, than other subjects besides reading will undoubtedly be affected.  The new technology driven classroom that we see today has created a new form of literacy, known as digital fluency, which requires students to be comfortable with many different tools.  Blogs are the perfect medium for literacy.  As Huffaker (2004) states, “Authors must read and write as they would on paper, while increasing their comfort with computers and the Internet.”
Blogs are a great tool to use in the classroom for multiple reasons.  Student blogs allow for multiple avenues of creativity, whether it’s in the storytelling itself, or the layout of the blog.  Blogs are also user friendly, which allows for both students and teachers to easily manage accounts.  “In the classroom, students can have a personal space to read and write alongside a communal one, where ideas are shared, questions are asked and answered, and social cohesion is developed” (Huffaker, 2004). Blogs are extremely collaborative and can be used in multiple class settings.  Besides using blogs in the classroom, because they are situated within the Internet, blogs can be accessed outside of school.  

Reflection and Application:
I have to admit, after reading this article and seeing the cross curriculum advantages to blogging, it is something I may consider introducing in my own classroom.  I was unsure of the blog that we created at the beginning of our first class and whether or not I would continue to access it outside of our cohort.  I feel that the most influential part of the student blog is the collaborative piece and the conversation that has the potential to start outside of the classroom.  I do think that a blog can be extremely powerful if used the correct way.
I would like to start using blogs for my current events in Social Studies.  I feel like the blogs would be a great way to foster the communication of large worldly topics.  I find that in class the discussion piece that I would like to see with current events is always lacking.  Perhaps if students had the time to read each other’s summary and reaction to a specific article they would be more inclined to comment on the topic at hand.  Blogs are definitely something I want to start to use in Social Studies and then see if I can’t incorporate them into my English classroom.

Plickers Screencast

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Article Review #3-Teachers' Use of Technology: Lessons Learned from the Teacher Education Program to the Classroom

Wright, V.H., & Wilson, E.K. (2011). Teachers’ Use of Technology: Lessons Learned from the Teacher Education Program to the Classroom. SRATE Journal, 20(2), 48-60.

Hooper, S., & Rieber, L.P. (1999). Teaching, instruction, and technology. In A.C. Ornstein & L.S. Behar-Horenstein (Eds.), Contemporary issues in curriculum (pp.252-264). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Article #3 Review
                The purpose of the study, done by Wilson and Wright (2011), was to “examine teacher use of technology over a period of time following initial certification and completion of teacher education programs” (p. 49).  A previous study done by Hooper and Rieber (1999) described the five phases of teachers’ use of technology: familiarization, utilization, integration, reorientation, and evolution. “The five stages are defined as: 1) Familiarization, learning the “how-tos” of using technology, 2) Utilization, trying the technology, but will not miss it if taken away, 3) Integration, using technology for certain tasks; designated uses, 4) Reorientation, using technology for more than delivery of content; focus is more on student learning and, 5) Evolution, continuing to evolve, adapting and integrating technology” (Wilson and Wright, 49).  Wilson and Wright (2011) argued that most teachers do not progress past the utilization stage, where they can begin to use technology seamlessly in their classroom.
                This study looked at ten teachers, 8 male and 2 female, who were mostly in their fifth year of teaching.  The ten teachers were teaching at the middle and high school level in the southeastern portion of the United States (Wilson & Wright 2011).  Of the 10 teachers, 5 were teaching at schools with 40% or more of the students classified as low socio-economic status.             
These teachers were purposely chosen for this study because the researchers had been monitoring them for many years prior to the start of this study.  During the student teaching time frame, all participants were required to develop and implement technology in their classrooms.  All participants had taken a teacher education program, “in which technology was seen as a foundation” (p. 50). The teachers had many opportunities to see and learn from technology best practices.  Wilson and Wright (2011) had covered all of their bases when it came to professional development for the technology tools available to each teacher. 
                Based on interviews and observations done by the researchers, and surveys and reflections competed by the participants, it was found that all ten teachers were at the utilization phase of technology (Wilson and Wright 2011).  The researchers did not find enough data to support technology integration.  However, as a follow up, the researchers caught up with all ten teachers 5 years after the study was completed.  Five of the ten teachers reported being in the integration phase, three in the reorientation phase, and one in the evolution phase of technology (Wilson and Wright 2011).

                I have to admit I was surprised by the results of this study.  I never thought that all ten teachers would be in the utilization phase after all of the course work they had to complete regarding technology.  I took a closer look at the reasons each participant gave for their level of technology in their classrooms.  One of the teachers, Steve, explained that he was limited in his social studies class because of tests.  He also stated that he felt pressured to meet the requirements of the end-of-year tests and therefore found it harder to incorporate technology.  I feel like both of these reasons are why so many teachers are hesitant to jump into using technology.  Sometimes it’s not that teachers are intimidated by the technology tools, but rather just don’t have the time to add another item to their list of “must-dos.”  I myself already feel the pressure of PARCC and our 8th grade placement tests, so how am I supposed to make room for learning and incorporating new technology into my classroom.  But in the end, it comes down to that important key idea, that technology should not incorporated just to use it but rather just to drive the learning skills already in place.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Article Review #2: Effective Web 2.0 Tools for Your Classroom

Wanago, N. (2013). Effective Web 2.0 Tools for Your Classroom. Techniques: Connecting Education And Careers, 88(1), 18-21.

This article discusses technology lesson plans that were put together by teachers from all over the U.S.  This was a project done at the University of Arizona to address the challenges that teachers have today with incorporating technology into their classroom.  The university thought that compiling an educator-tested tools list would be very helpful for teachers.  A handful of the tools that they feature in this article are Lino, Popplet, GoAnimate, Timetoast, Storybird, and Glogster.  Lino is a posting board where students can post pictures, videos, or websites about a certain topic.  Popplet is used to create graphic organizers.  Both Lino and Popplet are tools that can be used during a brainstorming lesson.  By using GoAnimate, students can insert text into an animated video where they can also create their scene and characters.  Timetoast would be a great tool to use in social studies, as this tool can be used to create timelines.  Storybird is a writing tool where students can interact with pictures to start their own virtual journals.  The last tool, Glogster, can be used to create posters online, which can then be shared to others. 

The article goes on to give some helpful tips to educators who are just starting to use these tools in their classroom.  “Start small, be prepared, keep the focus on the content-not the technology, and let students take the lead,” (Wanago 20).  The University of Arizona has also created a forum that teachers can view and connect to other teachers who are currently using technology in their rooms.  The last great piece about the tools that are described in this article is that they are all free to students to use.  There are no fees attached to any of these tools, unless you choose to sign up for certain upgrades. 

I really felt this article was helpful because it was simple.  The tools were presented with the strategies or learning targets that they could reach.  I feel the site that the University of Arizona has put together would be extremely helpful to those teachers who are feeling overwhelmed by all the different technology tools available to them.  The site was also very user friendly. 

When the article gave the reader some helpful tips about how to use the tools in the classroom I really connected with one.  Wanago discussed keeping the focus on the content-not the technology.  I think that is one of the problems we see with technology in the classroom today, and that is that teachers just try to throw the technology in without making that connection.  Students still need to be aware of why they are doing a certain lesson and how the technology is going to help them reach their goal. 

I also felt this article was enticing because I plan on looking further into GoAnimate for my final project.  I have already signed up for the free trial and am looking at how to incorporate it into my classroom.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Article Review #1: Technology in Today's Classroom: Are You a Tech-Savvy Teacher?

Hicks, S. (2011). Technology in Today’s Classroom: Are You a Tech-Savvy Teacher?. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, (84)5, 188-191.

Reed-Swale, T.W. 2009. Engaging digital natives in a digital world.  Connect Magazine 22 (3):22-25.
Article Summary: Main Points
In this article, Stephanie Hicks describes the challenges that are presented to new and veteran teachers when it comes to technology.  She also goes on to share a few of her own helpful tips when using technology in your own classroom.

With the new advancements of technology that we are seeing today, a new job requirement has emerged-being tech savvy.  Gone are the days of letters and typewriters: teachers are now required to use e-mail, smart boards, and other technological tools in their classroom.  According to research done by an outside group, “it is estimated that the learning curve on technology doubles every 18 months” (Reed-Swale 2009).  Not only do teachers need to incorporate technology into their classroom, but they need to continue their education in the field of technology and remain lifelong learners. 

Hicks states that one of the major hold-ups in integrating technology into the classroom curriculum is teacher resistance (189).  Many veteran teachers are afraid that they will appear “stupid” to their tech-savvy students because of their inability to effectively use different technology tools in their classroom.  Other teachers consider a situation like this to make them appear unprofessional in front of their students.  Both of these scenarios ultimately lead to the teacher feeling inadequate and therefore unwilling to integrate technology.  Teacher resistance can also stem from the lack of professional development that districts provide for new technology.  “Teachers who are properly trained to use the technology and have adequate technical support are much more likely to integrate technology into everyday lessons” (Hicks 189).  The final reason that Hicks supports as being a possible source for teacher resistance is simply that teachers do not see the connection between student achievement and the use of technology (189).

When teachers accept the new wave of technology in creating their lessons, they will realize that there are many benefits to using technology in the classroom.  The consistent use of technology will actually rewire a student’s brain to respond more consistently and effectively to technology (Hicks 189).  Technology has opened many doors for students with disabilities.  Once teachers have been trained and mastered a specific technology tool, this use of technology can save them an enormous amount of time.  Hicks ends with sharing that, “if used purposefully, technology integration can have a dramatic effect on the quality of teacher instruction” (190).

Last week, during open house, I found myself sharing my new educational endeavor with the parents.  I even used the word “tech-savvy” to describe myself.  When I came across this article, I just had to read it!  I felt like Hicks hit the nail on the head when she described the teacher resistance that is seen with this wave of technology.  I think about my own district, and team, and there are a handful of teachers who have refused to incorporate the Chrome Books into their lessons.  I thought about it a little more and did question whether our district is providing enough support to train and educate our staff.  I think that the basic training has been provided, such as…this is a Chrome Book, this is how you turn it on, this is how you log on to Google Docs.  As far as the specific applications, like presentation or forms, I don’t feel like enough opportunities to take professional development courses have been offered.  So can I really blame these teachers for being resistant to this technology?

It does require a lot of guts to stand in front of an 8th grade class and say “We are going to try something new with the Chrome Books today.”  However, speaking from experience, these situations are when the best learning takes place.  Students helping students, students helping me…it doesn't get much more powerful than that.  Let’s face it kids are going to have to be familiar with technology no matter what job they get it life.  If it’s our job as educators to create lifelong learners who are career ready, then aren't we doing our students a disservice by not using the newest tools in technology?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Open House is complete!!  I always feel like I can never get through everything I need in 7 minutes.  Does anyone have a user friendly handout to share...looking for a new format.