Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Week 14-15 Blog

I know that my school is not equipped to handle any of these scenarios. I believe that most schools are not equipped to handle these HUGE technology and curriculum changes. The last two schools that I worked at (K-8) were definitely not equipped. Each school has one computer lab that is usually occupied most of the time by students taking one standardized test or another. There just simply is never enough technology available at my school to offer courses online. This has not been an issue thus far because, no parent or student has ever asked for this option, probably because they do not realize that this service must be given if requested.

I do not think that these changes will happen rapidly, at least in the urban areas that I've worked. I believe that more and more technology integration will continue to occur but probably not as fast as it should. If a student were to ask for a class that was completely online, my school would absolutely not be ready to provide. 

I am not sure that my school is doing much about ensuring that online courses are available to students, however, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we are building a high school in 2016 and they will definitely need to get moving on this. Ideally, we would have several computer labs and technology carts available to the students as well as several classes offered in a variety of subjects. 

It is extremely important to stay ahead of the curve, unfortunately, many schools do not have the resources available to do this. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Online Learning- Week 13

Just as I thought, I was wrong about online learning. After reading the "Top Ten Myths about Virtual Schools", I've learned that my technology class is absolutely considered online learning. I was one of the people who thought that "virtual schools are a separate delivery system from traditional education" (NACOL). Because my students are in a classroom with me, I truly believed that my class wouldn't be considered online learning. Which brings me to myth three, I thought that online schooling required a teacher to be on the other end of the technology, not in the classroom with the student. This is untrue. The truth is that "students typically have more one-on-one interactions with their teachers and fellow students in online courses, especially when team projects are assigned" (NACOL). I find this to be very accurate. I interact with my students constantly and do find that I have better relationships with them than many of their other teachers.

Conversely, some of the myths that were listed I would have never even considered to be true. I would never think that online learning is for "gifted students" only. If anything, it should be more for the students who need extra help.I also would have never thought that online teachers have it easier. One of my goals is to become an online educator and I know that I'm in for a ton of work. Classroom teachers may have to deal with things that online teachers do not, like behaviors, but online teachers have to deal with things that classroom teachers do not, like how to teach a student what they do not understand without actually being there. I also hate that some people think that online courses are "add-on's" to an already burdened system. Adding technology and making education and learning more flexible is only a benefit to learners. 

After reading the Barbour article, I was surprised to see just how huge online learning truly is. He spoke of places all over the world embracing online learning for over ten years! The Roblyer article also surprised me with how many students drop out from online courses. I know many people who can not stand online classes because they have a hard time self motivating but I didn't think that the average range would be "as low as 10% or as high as 40—60%" (Zucker and Kozma, 2003; Oblender, 2002).

What I know about online learning

Although I am a technology teacher, I do not have a ton of experience with online learning per se. When I think of online learning, I think of college courses like the one we are enrolled in now, where the learning takes place entirely via the internet and Kahn Academy for the younger students.  Although my students do all of their learning via the internet, I am always there for them, guiding them if needed. Because of my presence and the fact that I do stand in front of them and teach them, I don't consider my technology class "online learning". Currently, I work with students in the grades 1-8. Next year we are building a high school and I will definitely be doing more "authentic" online learning experiences to prepare the students for college. 

In a nutshell, I think that online learning is mostly done independently by a student through some type of platform like Blackboard or program like Kahn Academy. I also view online learning as taking place mostly in a home by students at the high school level or higher. The courses that are offered are endless.      

Monday, February 23, 2015

Post #2 - Judging the Quality of Wikis and Non-vetted Sites

I do not allow my students to cite Wikipedia in their assignments. The main reason that I do not allow this is because I know that all throughout my college career I was told I was not allowed to use Wikipedia. I do not want to get the students dependent on a tool that they probably won't be allowed to use anyway. I've noticed that Wikipedia is the first place that many students look and I truly want to break them of this habit. I try and get them to look for scholarly articles instead. On the other hand, I do tell my students that although Wikipedia is a wiki and anyone can edit it, it still can be a good resource just to find out general knowledge. Using Wikipedia to settle an argument about a celebrities age is different than using it for a research paper. 

I use Youtube quite often in my class. I think that students respond well to videos, especially if they are short and entertaining. Unfortunately, my school has Youtube, teachertube, and schooltube  completely blocked from the students, unless I play a video for them, they cannot utilize these tools.  

Post #1 - Building and Refining your PLN

The three new blogs that I followed were:

"Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero" http://cyber-kap.blogspot.com/
I chose to follow this blog because I loved how many resources the blog had to offer.  While scrolling through the blog, I saw several web 2.0 tools and resources that I've never even heard of. The blogger even goes as far as describing all of the tools and telling how he uses them in his classroom. It's a fantastic resource for anyone interested in technology integration.

"Educational Technology and Mobile Learning- A resource of educational web tools and mobile apps for teachers and educators." http://www.educatorstechnology.com/
I chose to follow this blog because the title caught my eye. I've always been interested in mobile learning, especially because I have never worked at a school that has had a 1:1 technology program. I love the idea of students having a piece of technology available to them throughout the day and if the school can't provide it, why not let the student's use what they already have! This blog has an abundance of educational apps and resources for teachers. It's a really great resource!

"The Cool Cat Teacher- A real teacher helping you be really amazing" http://www.coolcatteacher.com/
At first I wasn't going to bother with this blog because I really didn't like the title of it but I'm glad that I was able to overlook that and read further. This blog not only has resources and web 2.0 tool suggestions but also inspirational readings and really great teaching tips. This blog is really a one stop shop for teachers of all grades and subjects.

The five educators or organizations that I followed are:

1. The first person that I chose to follow was Bill Nye. I pretty much followed him because I love him and I know that many students do too. I have a lot to learn from him.
2. I followed "The Teacher Page". This Twitter page has tons of teacher resources.
3. I also followed Nicholas Provenzano. I was intrigued that he was the MACUL and ISTE teacher of the year for 2013. Those are two organizations that I admire and if they admire him, I do too. He has a ton of great resources on his page.
4.Jeffery Bradbury's Twitter is all about helping teachers better integrate technology into their classrooms.
5. Finally, I followed Erin Klein who I found through Nicholas Provenzano's Twitter. She was the 2014 MACUL teacher of the year. He twitter centers around technology and education.

I'll be completely honest, so far, I have not used Feedly or Twitter at all. My reasoning for not using Feedly is because RSS readers are new to me and I truly have not had the time to explore exactly how they work. From what I have seen thus far, I do like the idea of a RSS reader. I have also not used Twitter because, for some reason, I despise it. Although I'm not a fan of Twitter, I now realize that there is a lot more to it than hash tags and ignorant celebrities. I will definitely make more of an effort to work with Feedly and Twitter more often for this class but, as of now, I can't wait to delete Twitter.

Although I have not stayed up to date with Feedly or Twitter, I have not had a problem staying up to date with the Facebook portion of my PLN. Because I'm a Facebook user, its very easy to skim through my feed and pick out the articles that I'm interested in that come across my feed. I would really like to get in this habit with Feedly.

Something that I would like to improve on concerning my information gathering skills is to become better organized. I already feel that my Feedly is a mess. I need to come up with a better organization system.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Unit 2 Post- Web 2.0 Tools and the SAMR Model

I teach Technology to students in the grades one through eight. In my situation, I have used the SAMR Model without even knowing it. Below I will explain ways that I have used each phase of the SAMR Model in my classroom. I have also included a picture that briefly explains what each phase consists of. 


Substitution-A good example of substitution from my current work situation is the Accelerated Math program. Each elementary teacher assigns a variety of different math assignments to each student. The students then complete the assignment directly on a piece of technology or they print the worksheet and later scan a scantron to check their answers. In this case, the technology is acting as a direct substitute for the worksheets that would have been printed out anyway.  

Augmentation- A current example of augmentation in my class is the way that I now give my tests. I currently use a website called testmoz.com. This website allows me to create quizzes and tests on the computer. I then give my students the link to the test and they take it on the technology. Since giving my students their assessments via technology, it has improved my productivity as a teacher and the students are not left waiting for me to check their papers.

Modification-An example of modification in my classroom is using Google Docs. Before using Google Docs, my students would collaborate with each other by sharing their work that they had written on paper. If the other student had suggestions, they would write on the other student's paper. With Google Docs, the students are now able to collaborate all at once with ease. As the teacher, I am also able to watch the students collaborate live. This change in my class has been very beneficial. We are saving time and paper and are gaining productivity and more collaboration than ever before.    

Redefinition-As a technology teacher, redefinition occurs quite frequently in my classroom. My favorite example of redefinition occurs at the beginning of the year with my middle school students. As a capstone to the end of my internet safety unit, I have the students create their own public service announcement (PSA) over the different elements of internet safety (cyberbullying, meeting people offline, information sharing, etc.) Each student has a role in creating the PSA. When the students are complete, the PSA is filmed and we watch each of the PSA's as a class. Not only have the students learned from creating their own PSA, but they are also learning from each other's. I also take these PSAs and show them to my younger students as well. The younger students watching their peers deliver a message has a far more intense effect than having a teacher deliver that same message.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Unit One: Generational Differences

First I would like to begin commenting on the videos that I watched about generational differences. The introduction video got me thinking about what labels I would give to my students. The labels that stuck out to me most were:
Instant gratification
Tech savvy/Digital natives
Media consumers

I believe that each of these titles closely matches the students that I have today in my classroom. Conversely, there were titles that I do not believe match the current students that I have today. They are:
Achievement oriented
High expectations

Some of my students do not display these characteristics. Although there are times that the students have high expectations and want to achieve, these desires seem to get easily overran by their desire for things to happen instantly.

The second video that I watched had college students in it who held up signs. I didn't really understand the point of the video at first until the end when the hours spent in a day doing various tasks were calculated and it equaled 26.5. It made me think how many hours a day I spend doing things. As I type this, I am thinking about vacuuming, starting to prepare dinner, putting in grades, taking a shower and much more. We are definitely a generation of multitasking people.  

The second video hit a little closer to home. This video had young students hold up signs about how they learn. Many of the signs expressed that they learn best digitally and yet their teachers rarely incorporate technology into their lessons. This video reaffirmed why I teach technology and made me remember that I am so lucky to teach a subject that we use technology every day. It's not a mystery as to why my class is a favorite of most students.

On to the readings..."Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" was an interesting read. I agree with most of what Mr. Prensky said especially while describing digital natives. Concerning digital natives, Prensky stated, "They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work". (Prensky) I completely agree with this description of digital natives because I see it daily in my own classroom.

Although I agree with the article as a whole, there were a couple things that I do not totally agree with. Prensky stated, "Digital Immigrants don't believe their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music, because they (the Immigrants) can't. Of course not – they didn't practice this skill constantly for all of their formative years. Digital Immigrants think learning can't (or shouldn't) be fun. Why should they – they didn't spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street" (Prensky).I do not agree with his assessment that digital immigrants think that learning cannot be fun or students cannot watch TV or listen to music to learn. Every teacher I know is constantly trying to keep their lessons engaging all while making them fun and educational. I also do not agree that the reason why students are not engaged and learning is because of the way they are being taught. Being a technology teacher, I CONSTANTLY use technology and allow my students to explore and have fun with their highly engaging and interactive assignments, however, some students just choose not to engage. That cannot be blamed on the educator all of the time.

The next reading...Wow! I should have probably read both articles first before reading one and then blogging and reading the second and then blogging. The author of the second article, Jamie McKenzie, basically takes Prensky's article and rips it to shreds. She too shares the same feeling as myself about the fact that digital immigrants do not completely ignore that students need technology and engagement in order to be successful.  She does a great job quoting him and backing up her statements with evidence. I was also shocked about the whole section where Prensky wasn't even citing the correct doctor. Really makes you questions the validity of his article!

Until next time...

"Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants." Marc Prensky. On the Horizon (NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001)