Monday, March 21, 2011

Final Thoughts...

How has your opinion of technology integration changed in the past 11 weeks?

I knew coming into this class that it was extremely important and essential to integrate technology into my classroom when I become a teacher. I had read plenty of articles and learned in my previous class that technology was becoming more and more important as our society became digital natives.

Although I knew the importance, and I grew up as a digital native, I learned an immense amount about technology. We went over tons of cool programs that I will absolutely remember and carry into my classroom. It was interesting to see how everyone in our class is at a different point in their lives and had a wide range of knowledge when it came to technology. Although I grew up using technology, I only explored it on my own, and never knew all the interesting facts about google or all the free programs that are out their for educators.

I assumed using technology in a classroom would be tough. I thought a teacher would have to come up with all these fancy lesson plans to be able to engage the students and succeed in bringing technology into their classroom. It was nice to learn how using technology can range from interactive white boards to just showing a few youtube videos that catch the students attention. I learned a lot during the past weeks, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Second Lit Review

For the second Lit Review I read an article entitled  Integrating Technology into the Classroom: Eight Keys to Success. I looked for an interview that gave a little advice on how to work technology into the classroom while avoiding all those mistakes that happen so often. I know having little mishaps is impossible to avoid because technology is not perfect and we certainly are not perfect either! 

The article began by discussing the importance of choosing the right hardware and software to avoid issues, but than it focuses on the fact that whether or not integrating technology rests solely on the teacher. The teachers success as a teacher as well as the teachers personality are extremely important details when talking about technology. Technology will obviously not succeed if the teacher is not a good teacher or willing to try different and new things. A quote is used in the article that states, "educational change depends on what teachers do and think--it's as simple and complex as that." I thought that was a nice little quote that encompassed this whole technology issue now-a-days. It has a lot to do with the teachers willingness to further their own education in order to further their students. 

The authors came up with 8 keys to success in integrating technology in the classroom and more specifically eight keys to success for teachers to be able to have technology SUCCEED in their classroom. The eight keys are as follows... 
1. FEAR of change 
2. TRAINNG in basics 
3. PERSONAL use 
4. TEACHING models 
5. LEARNING based 

The article than breaks down each component and explains the importance of addressing each one. I believe they are pretty cut and dry and make it obvious that adults are not too open to change, especially not ones that are set in their ways. Technology needs to be able to reach the "old school" adults who are not willing to learn about it and embrace it in their classrooms. The authors believe that these adults would be more apt to change if they had all these keys to success at their finger tips. I believe it certainly would make it easier if teachers knew that they had all kinds of support. Technology is scary, even for people who grew up with it. It is really just a matter of letting the teachers know, and providing them with all sorts of classes, training and support and then maybe more teachers would be willing to integrate technology into their own classrooms.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Love Day!

Hope everyone got to spend this wonderful holiday with their loved ones! I always thought it was so wonderful that we have a day that celebrated LOVE. I am a pretty big sap and love every minute of the wordy hallmark cards and the over sized stuffed animals! Goodnight & Happy LOVE day to all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Using Skype in the Second and Foreign Language Classroom

The first time I ever heard about skype was when a few of my college friends studied  abroad for a semester. We all got skype accounts so we could talk to each other as much as we wanted to without having to worry about calling cards or long distance charges. Not only could we talk constantly, but I was able to see what their rooms looked like and where they were staying. It was almost like I was able to get a first hand account of what they were learning over there.

I read an article on how useful skype can be in the classroom for foreign language classes. I found this article and decided to read it because of how positive my experience was with skype. The article discussed how the authors presented skype to an audience via elluminate which we are all familiar with! The authors went into lengthy detail on  how to use skype and what it can offer.They bullet point each feature and explain how to use it which is a great tutorial.

The authors than compare skype to elluminate which I would have never thought to do, I thought the two services offered many different options.Skype is though to be a lot less sophisticated than other technologies because it only allows a limited amount of people to interact at the same time. That feature is what I like about skype, it is a much easier to learn and personable technology to use.

The next subject the authors address is the anxiety that teachers may incur when it comes to trying a new form of technology. The authors solution to this problem is once the teachers do try and see how much they can accomplish with skype and how easy it is, that they will use it all the time. Once the initial step is taken the article believes that this will be the door to opportunity and that everyone will take advantage of it.

This was a great article to read if someone wants to learn about skype and is nervous to try it out in the classroom. I really loved reading the article because it shows you how successful technology can be in the classroom. They spoke about elluminate and other useful programs that teachers can take advantage of today. Learning second languages can be a really tough obstacle to overcome. There are an abundance of new rules that you need to learn to be able to apply the information that you learning. I am a learner that learns by observations and interactions. If my Spanish teacher in high school introduced us to a classroom in a Spanish speaking classroom, I would not only have been completely engaged, but I think I would have applied what my teacher taught me. When you can be that connected with the material you are learning you turn into a sponge! This article not only breaks skype down into steps and high lights the positive aspects of it, but it uses vocabulary that you can understand and relate to. I could follow the entire article with out feeling lost like I do with other articles. I believe that adds to the success of the article and to how many people will be able to relate to it as a result.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Equal Access

Teachers need to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners-

I disagree with this statement a lot. Teachers should certainly provide time to use the computers and learn to navigate the assignment that is being put into place, but the internet is everywhere. Years ago it was acceptable for students to say they had no access to the internet once they left school and today some families may still not have a computer, but we always have a library. The library is there for children to take advantage of, it is open all weekend and at night. People have hectic lives that is for sure, but there is always time to take your child to the library to access the internet to complete a task or an assignment. 

What this statement means to me is that as teachers we should constantly incorporate technology into our classrooms. The times have changed drastically and technology is booming. In order for our students to be prepared for life and the next grade level, technology needs to be included. I do not go more than 10 seconds through a day without seeing someone check their iphone, check facebook, or bring up the weather forecast for the week on some hand held device. Now a days you almost laugh at people who don't keep technology at their fingertips constantly. Accomplishing equal access is just that, taking advantage of technology to further your students education. I feel pressured to find new and interesting ways to use technology in my classroom when I become a teacher. And when I say pressure I do not mean it in a bad way. It is like my own personal challenge. Challenge myself to make sure these children get the education that they deserve. 

In conclusion I do not believe the statement, teachers need to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners, should be taken literally. I believe it is more of the teacher's responsibility to successfully use the technology, not to literally provide the students with computers and internet access. Again, I see children running around with better cell phones than me and these new dsi's that allow them to have internet access almost like a little laptop. It is amazing how much the internet has changed and how useful of a tool it can be!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Technology K12 conference

I watched a presentation by a science teacher who is avidly incorporating technology into his eighth grade science class in Australia. He starts by going around and asking students where they are in their project and all the students seem very anxious and excited to talk about the script they are writing and what they are learning. They seem to be almost talking over each other and very engaged in the lesson and learning their specific subject.

The teacher then shows some of the projects that were made by the students. They made short videos using puppets and taught the class about what the researched. The presentations really show how creative the students can get with projects like this. I know a lot of teachers can get a little intimidated by using technology, but with this lesson plan the children can do it all. They are able to use computers and cameras and produce something of their own. It is also a lesson plan that the students can remember. I remember one of my teachers had us do a similar project and I still remember it do this day.  The students are clearly learning and they are also having a lot of fun and they will remember the whole experience including the information they learned as well as how their video came out.

Roland, the teacher, also showed a few mistakes the children made and had them at the end of the presentations. It was fun to watch and I wasn't even in the class so I can only imagine how much the students enjoyed it. It is very nice to see a teacher using so much technology in the classroom. He also said prior to this lesson he taught the students about cyber bullying, privacy, programming, copyright, freedom and ethical behavior when using technology. This is a great way to knock down two lessons in one, a science one and an important technology one!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Challenge of a Lifetime

After watching this conference I was pretty inspired. Dr. Tim Tyson has a powerful way with words. He has powerful views and opinions and presents them in an amazing tone and persuasive way. He starts outs speaking by saying, "See the forest not just the trees". We tend to blame the educational policy, system, and teachers for problems rather than looking to the broader, more important issues. To be quite honest I have not even thought about the failed system in such a broad way. I always assumed it must be the school or the teacher in front of the classroom that is failing these students. Yet, Dr. Tyson points out that it goes way beyond one school, one teacher, or one district. It is a national issue.

We can attribute a failing education system to ECONOMY, SOCIETY, and CULTURE. These all have a trickle down effect to our teaching. The problems we face as a culture effects the young minds sitting in front of you. If anyone thinks like me, you thought, these large national problems obviously will not effect my young child; however, I was horribly wrong. We are essentially a broken country, The only time I have seen the nation band together is a direct result from terrorist attacks. So we need someone to attack us and kill our people before we will stand together and face issues? As Dr. Tyson points out Finland has something called SISU. Sisu is the strength, the will, and determination as a nation to succeed. The people of Finland act together while all we want to do is oppose eachother. We want to seperate differences rather than drop our differences and stand together.

As Dr. Tyson says, we need to become agents of meaningful change. We need to care about all of the failure in our society (specifically leaders) and take a stand, do something about the issue at hand. Although this is a tough issue to take on, we must try to change our failing system. We do not want our children growing up thinking an education isn't going to get them anywhere. The children of today do not even realize how important education is because of how much it has failed them.