Reflection on From Print to Pixel

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We were asked to read and write a reaction to the latest report from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2015 Annual Report – “From Print to Pixel: The Role of Videos, Games, Animations, and Simulations within K-12 Education“. I found that this report was very eye-opening, as I did not realize just how significant videos and games could be in the education space. The data provided on student and teacher usage, as well as examples of ways these technologies could be used in the classroom, were very informative and useful.

There are 3 major ways I believe this report will help me plan my future instruction:

  1. The incorporation of interactive gaming in the classroom. I had honestly never seriously considered using gaming in the physical classroom – it honestly seemed like it was counterproductive to focusing in school. However, after reading this report I have learned that I was so wrong! If the proper game is used, it can be a wonderful learning tool which can teach students about a subject, test what they have learned, or enhance their interest in a given subject.
  2. The idea of using simulations for certain subjects, such as science. I truly had never thought of using simulations as a tool in an elementary classroom. I always thought of simulations as being used for situations such as training for the military or learning to drive. Once the report mentioned how simulations can be used for a subject such as science, it opened my eyes to the opportunities simulations provide!
  3. A greater use of videos in lessons. I knew that I would be incorporating videos in certain lessons and class discussions, but I did not realize just how useful these tools can be to enhance student interest in the topic. Instead of simply creating a lesson then adding a video that goes along with it, I may base some lessons around useful videos, such as with BrainPop.

I greatly enjoyed this report, and I am definitely looking forward to incorporating what I learned in my future career as a teacher!

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Reflection on Five Myths About Classroom Technology

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For my computers and technology in the classroom course, we were asked to read “Five Myths About Classroom Technology (And What To Do Instead)” and write a reflection on our blogs. I am very glad we were asked to read this piece, because it speaks to many of my thoughts and beliefs on technology usage in the classroom.

SPOILER ALERT! These are the five myths they discuss in the article:

  1. That technology fixes all of your students’ problems.
  2. That technology is dangerous, and therefore, we have to limit access to everything.
  3. That technology leads to student success based on the data out there.
  4. That educational gaming improves student achievement.
  5. That technology is less meaningful than traditional schooling.

In my opinion, these myths are SO spot on with what many people assume or believe about usage of technology in the classroom. The myth that resonated the most with me was that technology will fix all of your students’ problems. I feel that sometimes teachers will overuse technology simply for technology’s sake – which is a huge mistake! Using technology in the classroom needs to actually enhance student learning, make the learning more efficient, and/or get students more interested in the topic at hand. If the technology is not meeting any (or all) or these areas, it may be important for the teacher to rethink including it.

For our unit plan assignment in this course, I struggled with this aspect the most. I needed to ensure that each and every time technology was incorporated, that it was truly helpful to the students and that it was not just included for this particular assignment’s sake. Fortunately, so many of the technological tools available out there were designed to serve this exact purpose – to be helpful and enhance student learning – it is just important that the teacher match the proper tools to the right lessons!half_size_caution-1462577590

Reflection on “The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher”

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For my computers and technology in the classroom course, we were asked to read “The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher” and to reflect on what we read. It is a lengthy read for an online article, but it was definitely worth taking the time read through it! Michael Godsey, an English teacher and writer of the piece, poetically explains the current crossroad we as educators are hurdling toward and have already met in some ways – the crossroad where technology and education meet.

In the article, he states how as a teacher, everything he taught used to be solely based on subject matter, stemming from his master’s education and expert knowledge of the content. He went on to say how conferences and professional development opportunities used to be so focused on what educators should be teaching, not on how they should be teaching it. Godsey stated, “I don’t remember the last time I’ve attended, or even heard of, any professional-development training focused on my specific subject matter. Instead, these experiences concentrate on incorporating technology in the classroom, utilizing assessment data, or new ways of becoming a school facilitator.”

I found this article very enlightening because I had never really thought about all of the intricacies of the situation the field of education is facing. The fact that teachers could be fully replaced with unlicensed facilitators in a fully tech-driven classroom in my lifetime had never really crossed my mind! Even though I had never thought about it before, this idea did not seem shocking or unrealistic – in fact, it felt a bit too realistic to me.

Godsey hit home the situation at hand when he stated “Shouldn’t I stop trying to compete as an individual “sage on the stage,” appreciate the modern efficiency of today’s resources, and re-invest my time as their [students] enthusiastic ‘guide on the side’?”. It is a situation that is so important for educators to be aware of and to accept – that education is drastically changing due to the internet and technology. We as teachers need to get on board with the technology train, and try to find creative ways to remain important, relevant, and integral to the field in the years to come!

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Digital Divide in the Classroom

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In my computers and technology in the classroom course, we had a discussion on technological equity and the idea of a “digital divide” in the classroom. Although I have never taught or worked in the school setting, this is a topic I recently wondered about. An upper elementary-aged child I previously nannied regularly had homework which needed to be completed online. She had a laptop (which was not provided by the school) on which she would do her homework each evening. Even essays and other written assignments were required to be typed and submitted online. I honestly found this shocking – considering the fact that not all families can afford to buy a personal computer for each of their children, let alone themselves!

During our class discussion, we touched on how some students have all of the new technology, while other students may not have any technology at home at all. Although it would be amazing for every teacher to be able to regularly “flip the classroom“, quiz students instantaneously with Peardeck, or take advantage of all of the other wonderful interactive educational tools out there, for some teachers it may not seem plausible, or even possible.

Although it is a challenging situation, I have thought of a couple ways in which teachers who are experiencing a digital divide among their students can still use technology in their classroom. One idea is to focus your energy on involving technology while students are actually in the classroom! Have students interact with the SmartBoard or try a non-traditional “flipped” classroom (only in-class!). Another great idea is to give homework assignments which have an option to use technology, but it is not required. For example, give students the option to type their essays or hand-write them. Additionally, ensure that all students are aware of their local library and computer lab options that they may be able to take advantage of, if applicable.

It may take some research and creativity, but any teacher can find ways to involve technology in their classroom in some way or another – regardless of level of technological inequality their students face.

 

TED Talk Reflection

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For my computers and technology in the classroom course we were asked to watch a TED talk and reflect on what we learned from it. I decided to reflect on the video, “The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools“. Will Richardson, the speaker of this talk, first reviewed many of the best conditions for powerful learning. The conditions he discussed included relevance to the learners lives, fun, passion, limited time constraints, personal investment, and real world application.

After reviewing these commonly accepted best conditions for learning, he went on to say that there is a disconnect between what we believe about learning and the actual practice of it. He then stated that the surprising and challenging truth about schools is that they were not “made” for learning. He went on to argue this by explaining how schools do not meet many, if any, of the best conditions for powerful and productive learning. He stated that the reality is that learning in school is typically unproductive – students often do not want to learn the material, will not absorb it long term, and have no interest in learning more about the topics being discussed.

I definitely agree with a lot of what Will Richardson stated in his TED Talk. I certainly do not remember the basic facts, figures, dates, and information I was told to memorize back in high school. I was never particularly interested in the content at the time, though I still made good grades because I made the effort to. Just because I made an effort, does not mean I was sincerely interested in the material I was learning. This is a very key issue as well – that even students who are performing well in school, are not necessarily learning in a productive way.

This TED Talk discusses an unfortunate truth about schools and learning in America today. We are very fortunate that some schools are moving towards a more tech-friendly, student focused, and interactive class setting and curriculum. Hopefully with time, more schools will adopt these models and perhaps that will begin moving education in the right direction!

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Podcasting and Usage in the Classroom

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For my computers and technology in the classroom course, we were asked to listen to an education-related podcast on BAM! Radio Channels, a site offering podcasts in many different subjects. I decided to listen to “A Crash Course in Teaching with Apps that Align to Bloom’s Taxonomy“.

This podcast featured an interview with a teacher, Monica Evon, who utilizes specific apps in her classroom which align with each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Some of the apps covered in the podcast include, Explain Everything, Front Row, DreamX, and 30 Hands. Through the use of 1 to 1 ipads in the classroom and these apps, she has found that student engagement, learning, and on task behavior has significantly increased.  If you are interested in learning more, Evon has a blog titled IPaddling Through Fourth Grade, where she shares information on using apps and iPads in the elementary classroom.

Upon listening to this podcast and reading up on podcasting in general, our professor asked that we decide whether or not it is something we would be interested in using for professional learning in the future. Before listening to the above mentioned podcast, my answer would have likely been no. I have never really enjoyed podcasts in the past, and I would always dread it when my undergraduate college professors would ask us to listen to them for a course. However, I was pleasantly surprised while listening to this podcast since it greatly relates to my future career as a teacher and offered fun solutions to elementary classroom teaching. I feel like I learned a great deal from it, and it opened my eyes to new ideas for my future classroom!

When it comes to podcasts, I believe it all truly comes down to relevancy and value of information to the listener. If an individual finds the right podcasts which speak to their interests and career goals, then I believe podcasts can be a very valuable professional learning tool! The same goes for using podcasts in the classroom – if a teacher wishes to use podcasts in their teaching, they should ensure that the information is both relevant and valuable to the students before including. For example, the teacher described in “Listening to Themselves: Podcasting Takes Lessons Beyond the Classroom“, allowed students to actually record a podcast of their learning themselves – pretty neat!

 

 

Review of Prezi

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For my Computers and Technology in the Classroom course, I have been asked to review an education-related technological resource. When I saw that Prezi was an option, I quickly chose this creation site as the subject of my review. Having previously studied and worked in the professional business setting, we were regularly told not to use Prezi and to only use PowerPoint for business and professional presentations. Whether or not this is true in the business setting is a debate for another time. For now, I would like to look at how Prezi works in the classroom and educational setting

Through my web searches and research on the subject, I found a wonderful Prezi presentation which highlights the benefits of using Prezi in the classroom specifically. It also includes ideas for using Prezi in the classroom, as well as the potential drawbacks of the tool for students. This video is a great overview of how Prezi works (and at times – may not work as well) in the classroom. Take a look at the presentation here on the Prezi website!

In summary from the above linked video and taking some time to use the presentation tool on the Prezi website myself, I believe that this presentation tool is a great resource for teachers. Going beyond the fact that it is very interactive, user-friendly, collaborative, and fun – it is much more accessible for students than PowerPoint because it is free and can be accessed anywhere that has internet!

For those interested in using Prezi, there are pricing plans available as well as teacher and student discount plans available for those who want privacy and greater storage of their Prezi Presentations. There is also a free option, which means that your presentations will be publicly viewable, searchable, and reusable. Unless your presentation has some sort of confidential information, this is a wonderful option because others will be able to learn from and be inspired by the presentations you create! I really like that Prezi has created a community of learning through this shareable platform and I look forward to using it in my future career in education!

For those of you brand new to Prezi, I have included a video below which explains how to use the tool!