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